Fortunately, Felice’s kingdom was not far from the imperial family. Evelyn’s carriage ran smoothly and finally arrived in her long-cherished homeland, full of nostalgia.
However, the atmosphere of the royal family was heavy as they welcomed their divorced daughter. Evelyn calmly accepted the not-so-welcome reality.
“King father, Queen mother. I’m back.”
The King and his wife welcomed their daughter, the princess, who had abandoned the Empress’s throne with sorrow and sighing. King Arthur continued to express deep sighs with a frown on his forehead, and the Queen could say nothing, holding only her daughter’s hand.
Evelyn was unable to say anything else. King Arthur shook his hand because he could not see-through his daughter.
“You have eyes to see, so be careful for a while.”
Evelyn turned around with courtesy to her parents. Miriam, the Queen’s mother, had already groomed her residence for Evelyn. However, she didn’t ask for a conversation first, perhaps because she thought of her daughter, who would be upset.
And Evelyn wasn’t ready to talk, either.
“Princess, I’ve prepared your old rooms.”
“Yes, that’s good.”
Evelyn looked around at her place, which never changed before she got married. She finally felt like she was coming back home. There was a lot of room to look at, and Evelyn wanted to spend quiet time with her nanny, Nora, and Lily, on their side for the time being.
“Princess, this is your favorite milk tea.”
Evelyn nodded at Nora’s consideration. The sweet and savory taste of tea was still the same in her memory.
“My father didn’t yell at me.”
Evelyn said, a little lonely. The only thing that changed was herself.
“Because he was very lonely after the princess went to the imperial family. He was very worried about you.”
His majesty, the King, though stern, was not a bad father. Her parents were always concerned about their only daughter. Evelyn, who had been raised too naively, would not be able to cope with the imperial family’s strict formalities.
“When I was young, I always bothered by what he said. I was supposed to listen to him more.”
As a result, their fears had come true.
The relatively-free-kingdom of Felice and the Imperial Family had a completely different culture. Evelyn had to follow various palace laws since her first day of marriage, and she had not even seen her husband’s face.
“The queen wanted to meet the princess, but she’s still unable to come because of King’s order to be careful.”
Evelyn nodded at Nora’s words.
“I know. The Queen Mother is a wise person.”
Evelyn proceeded the divorce through Vatican mediation, and it gave herself a reason. In other words, Evelyn was now a sinner.
“It’s better to stay quiet for the time being.”
However, Evelyn’s fault was that she made herself a defendant to the imperial family. All her rights as the Empress had disappeared, making it difficult for Felice’s kingdom to raise their head to the Empire for the time being. Evelyn, who was involved in the case, naturally needed to show self-reflection by apologizing to the imperial family and the Vatican.
“At least I feel at ease.”
Evelyn laughed round her familiar place. When Lily saw Evelyn smiling after a long time, she decided not to talk about her choice anymore.
“This is what it is.”
Evelyn came back to life when she escaped from imperial slavery. From the beginning, the Imperial Family had been a heavy burden on her.
“You don’t regret a little bit?” asked Nora. She looked cautious as if she wanted to make sure for the last time.
“Nora, how do I look right now?”
Nora had been a nanny-maid since Evelyn was born. So she couldn’t fool Nora even though other people didn’t know about it.
“You look happy …”
Nora could dare to lie. Evelyn saw Nora’s helpless expression and held her hand. It was always warm.
“From the beginning, I wasn’t fit to be an Empress. And now, I’ve returned to my original place, so that’s enough.”
Evelyn had settled down. The memory of such a lonely life would no longer be repeated. At least Evelyn went back to her own country where her family was.
No husband made her suffocating by making eye contact, nor a ladies who had been prying at the Empress’s every move.
“Look at this.”
Evelyn pointed to the comfortable dress she had changed as soon as she arrived at the castle. It was impossible to dream of wearing a dress like this in the Empire. There, Evelyn was the Empress, so she had to wear a heavier, more colorful clothing than anyone else.
“I think I can breathe now.”
It was said to protect the dignity of the imperial family. Every day, Evelyn’s waist was tightened by a thick dress, and a heavy tube pressed her head. She ‘d rather be real on her own.
They could have done better with the plaster statue. Evelyn smiled bitterly, recalling the follies of the past.
“Well, the Imperial Family’s laws were really harsh.”
“Lily, you shouldn’t say that.”
“It’s all right, Nora. It’s only between us and that’s true. The Imperial Family wants a perfect Empress.”
Indeed, was there such a perfect person in the world?
Evelyn had always pursued perfection, but she had never been acknowledged.
In society, the noblewoman whispered that Evelyn, a native of another kingdom, wouldn’t be able to keep up with the imperial formality.
“Huh! do they think they’re perfect? Their private lives are more disgusting.”
Evelyn nodded unknowingly at Lily’s angry voice. The Empire’s society was a stage of pretense and hypocrisy that concealed their ugly nature. Evelyn couldn’t get used to it until the end, but it was common to laugh at each other and stab each other with a knife.
“Now that I don’t have to see such people, that alone is satisfied me.”
Evelyn remembered the ladies’ eye that blazed behind their elegant hand-fan. It was a pleasure for them to laugh loudly and play games while mocking the opponent with their eyes. The Empress was no exception to them.
They called it an aristocratic style, and Evelyn, who couldn’t get along, had always been ridiculed for her origin.
“People who live in the imperial household are locked up in the prison they created. They ‘re poor people who get so used to it that they think it’s a whole world.”
That was Evelyn’s conclusion. If they didn’t repeat the folly of gossiping each other and dividing factions, they would all have gone mad. There was no point in who the law was for and who the court was for.
“It’s not your fault. Who can live perfectly in such a desolate place?”
“There’s one person····.”
Evelyn recalled her husband, Fabian.
He showed no emotion even when he was crowned at the age of 16 and defeated the nobles. He ruled over the nobles of the imperial family.
In fact, Fabian’s image after marriage was perfect.
“So he deserves a perfect mate.”
Fabian, with his sturdy physique and handsome face, once made Evelyn’s heart beat fast. His black eyes and sharp jawline, which always kept a calm eye on the front, both trembled Evelyn’s heart.
When his big hand came into contact with Evelyn, the place he touched was burned like fire.
“Yes … there will be a place, somewhere. For a perfect person like him.”
Evelyn was able to release Fabian from her mind after she woke up from her death. Vaguely predicted the future and witnessed it personally were different. Evelyn ‘s heart had cooled like Fabian’s, and she could barely breathe.
Evelyn could only choose freedom over hope for her husband, who was so perfect.
“I’m really fine. It’s my choice. I said I’d quit first.”
Fabian didn’t pursue Evelyn. That’s also what she expected. Now that Vatican’s interference had gotten severe, the dignity of the imperial family had fallen as the Empress requested mediation.
Fabian would have taken it as a betrayal. On the contrary, it was fortunate that he didn’t punish her.
“Yes, everything’s fine now.”
Nora stepped forward in a soft voice. Then she took out her handkerchief and wiped Evelyn’s cheek. Only then did Evelyn realize that she was crying.
Nora hugged Evelyn without saying anything.
“How difficult it had to be to decide, but it was the princess who chose this difficult path. I think that’s what she had to do, right?”
“Yes, ······. I couldn’t be happy as an Empress. No matter how hard I tried”
The tears she had endured burst sadly. Apart from that, Lily came to her side without a word and kept her body temperature close to Evelyn. It was Lily who watched her days in the imperial family from her side, so she knew her sorrow very well.
“His Majesty sees no one. He’s the perfect Emperor who shows no emotion.”
A perfect emperor, and the worst husband.
If only he had given her a warm consolation, if he gave it to her, at least, Evelyn wanted to keep her vow to live as his wife.
“But he never, not once, he never looked at me.”
Evelyn tried not to think of Fabian again after this last cry. After all, Fabian had no place for Evelyn. So Evelyn had to forget him, too. That was for Evelyn herself. It was herself that not given by anyone.
“······· I don’t regret it.”
“That’s enough. Our princess is still young and beautiful.”
“Yes, all you have to do is be happy.”
Evelyn swept away the remaining drops of tears after the warm embrace of her people. There were also lingering feelings about Fabian and memories of the Empress.