Empress Lavigne was in front of the Emperor's bedroom.
The bedroom door was tightly closed but Lavigne's face was bright.
Soon after, the black-haired maid came out and bowed her head politely.
"Come in, Empress. His Majesty was waiting."
Lavigne's red corners of her mouth went up quietly.
Not long ago, she was stopped at the door.
But she was given permission to come inside today.
"Yes, thank you."
The maid-in-honor, greeted by the empress, bowed her head further without making an eye contact.
The sight made Empress Lavigne feel even better.
Entering the bedroom, the Empress called Yovanes in a friendly voice.
As if he had just woken up, Yovanes, who was still in pajamas and being attended by the maids, answered silently,
In exchange for having been drinking alcohol for a while, the black shade under his eyes were clearly visible and so was his shabby face.
"I was worried to hear that you were not in peace. I'm glad you're feeling better."
The phrase 'not feeling well' that Yovanes used is only an excuse because he didn't want to see the Empress's face.
She wouldn't know it.
The Empress had been talking to Yovanes at a friendly tone, as if she was genuinely worried.
"Why are you here, Empress?"
Yovanes asked in an irritating voice, fed up with Lavigne.
"If you want to ask regarding Astana's work..."
"I came here because of the work of the Second Prince Perez."
Yovanees, who glanced at Lavigne for a moment, leaned over to the wash water that his maid had brought.
Lavigne, who watched the scene, was convinced.
The Emperor already knew the affairs of Perez and Florentia Lombardi.
But it seemed like he was going to pretend not to know, so she had to play along.
"Have you not heard yet? It is said that this morning, the Patriarch of Lombardi appointed Florentia, who was engaged to the Second Prince, as the next official Patriarch successor, Your Majesty."
"...That's what happened."
Yovannes spoke slowly and splashed water on his face.
Lavigne's guess was right.
As soon as the Emperor got up, he heard Rulac's decision.
At first, it was absurd.
He was also angry because he was deceived.
But he pondered it, and it wasn't too bad for Yovanes himself.
The relationship between Lombardi and the Imperial family was inseparable.
That meant that the Emperor should share the absolute power that he deserves.
Yovanes hated it unbearably.
However, until now, no emperor has escaped this shackle.
Even the terrifying previous Emperor and Yovanes himself.
He tried to get out of Lombardi's hands, but he was only faced with greater retaliation.
"Are you all right, Your Majesty?"
Lavigne approached Yovanes with a worried voice to see how he reacted.
The face behind the towel was smiling.
Florentia Lombardi, a young woman with no political experience.
It would be much easier to handle than Rulac Lombardi.
Yovanes replied, but Empress Lavigne shook her head.
"You don't look well, Your Majesty."
Now, Yovanes was barely holding back the laughter that was threatening to come out.
This is a great opportunity to break Lombardi's spirit.
But to do that, Angenas was still needed.
If Angenas disappears right away, they didn't know how much time it would take to create the centerpiece of the nobles that would angle at the Lombardi.
"I was also enraged at the work of the Second Prince."
Yovanes looked through the mirror at the Empress who continued to say so.
He still had nightmares every night because of Astana's image, who was still coming at him with a knife.
But if he would push Lombardi's nose, he couldn't turn a blind eye to Astana who did it.
It just so happens that Astana was rumored to be out of his mind at that time and that he was framed by someone.
'That doesn't mean he can just let it go.'
Someone had to pay for that crime.
"Haa... I feel uncomfortable these days, Your Majesty."
Lavigne said, sighing.
"Isn't the First Prince injured a lot? But the Second Prince didn't let me, his mother, to see his face..."
As if reading Yovanes's heart, the Empress cried and brought up Astana's story.
"The poor First Prince must have been framed, Your Majesty."
"It's just an uncertain suspicion."
"But what if it's true, Your Majesty?"
Empress Lavigne took out her handkerchief and wiped away her tears.
"How many days has it been already that the First Prince was locked up? And he lost his right hand too."
The empress voice was desperate, as if she was genuinely concerned for Astana.
"Of course, it is true that he committed an unforgiveable sin against Your Majesty, but didn't he greatly paid for such offense already?"
Yovanes finally looked back at Lavigne and called.
"Isn't it all about when the real culprit was separate?"
However, it wasn't words that condemned the empress.
Rather, there was something about the subtle tone that made the listener listen.
"As a father, I also feel sorry for Astana's suffering, but it doesn't change that fact that we have to find the culprit."
The Empress looked deep into Yovanes's eyes and asked, confirmingly.
"If we find out who the real culprit is, will Astana be released from custody?"
"There's no reason why he couldn't be released."
"Is that so?"
Empress Lavigne nodded her head.
Then she took a few steps backwards.
"I will wait for His Majesty's preparations to be completed. Would you like to have breakfast with me for the first time in a while?"
"...I'll do that."
As soon as Yovanes' words fell, the Empress left the bedroom fearing that he would take back his words.
He wondered where she was going, but the Emperor did not ask.
He laughed secretly.
"The first Emperor to tame Lombardi."
It was a very pleasing achievement.
"Bellesac Lombardi's personal affairs..."
Perez looked at me and muttered low.
"Why don't we move on a different location and have a proper conversation, Deputy Patriarch of Lombardi?"
"Let's do that."
I nodded at Perez's suggestion.
Perez led me into the Knights building.
We arrived in a small office that Perez seemed to be temporarily using.
"Here it is."
I went inside first.
Then I heard Perez talking behind me.
"Don't even think about coming in."
"But, Your Highness..."
"Get far away from the door."
"It's an order."
"...Yes, Your Highness."
Eventually, the Knights who lost to Perez stepped back and closed the door.
Only the two of us were left in the room.
Perez, who came closer, was just looking at me with a slight smile.
What's wrong with him?
With the slightly awkward atmosphere flowing, I spoke first.
"Your Highness the Second Prince, I'm here to fulfill the official duties, and the reason the knights weren't with me is because---"
"Did you sleep well last night?"
When only the two of us were left, Perez's tone became comfortable.
What...all of a sudden.
I replied reflexively, slightly frowning.
"Of course, I slept well..."
A moment passed.
"Yesterday....you came to my room.....?"
Wasn't it a dream?!
I stumbled, stepping backwards.
But Perez just stepped forward as much.
"I didn't say 'goodbye' when I left because you were sleeping well. I didn't want to wake you up."
"I thought it was a dream!"
"It was definitely a dreamy time for me. Tia said she likes me---."
I looked back at the door and shouted urgently, but Perez just smiled pleasantly.
What a dog! What do you mean it wasn't a dream?
I felt my face reddening.
No, let's stay calm. Calm down!
I took a small deep breath and said, "I'm not here to talk about anything personal today. Hand over Bellesac Lombardi."
I just want to do my business quickly and avoid this situation.
If Perez refuses, I have prepared a lot of words to convince him.
"Take him, Deputy Patriarch."
But Perez replied with a calm face.
"I have prepared it in advance. A little while ago, he was packing before I came out."
"...It looks like you knew I was coming today."
"As long as you became the Deputy Patriarch, I thought that you would take responsibility for all of the Lombardi family."
"You know me very well."
Perez replied with a faint smile to my words.
"Thank you for the compliment."
If you're this handsome, then it's a price worth paying for.
I glanced at Perez a little and said, "Then I'll take him right away without wasting any time. Where's Bellesac Lombardi?"
It seemed to be the room where Perez came out a while ago.
"Please take the lead."
I said so and tried to open the door.
Before the door closed again at Perez's gentle touch.
"The string has been loosened, Deputy Patriarch."
Perez reached out to me, speaking softly.
As he said, the straps of the shawl were slightly loosened.
Then a red ruby necklace was revealed between the crooked shawls.
At that moment, I made eye contact with Perez.
My heart is racing.
It was because Perez was smiling.
The feeling of him fiddling with the ruby tickled under my collarbone.
"From last night until today. What should I do if you keep giving me presents like this?..."
The red eyes looked at me as if they were burning me.
"Deputy Patriarch of Lombardi."
N/A: Oh my ghad! Oh my ghad! Oh my ghad! Perez! I feel like I'm gonna faint. Florentia you lucky lucky girl! (TT.TT)
Oh, and regarding Yovanes, he was absurd. Hehe. I wanna laugh at his face for underestimating Tia.