“Ah, you’re putting too much pressure on your little kid.”
I sighed as I looked out the carriage window, remembering what had happened with As earlier.
Yuriyan, who had been looking at documents, lifted her head at my sigh.
“What did you do for fun today?”
“As carried me on her back.”
“Oh? Is it because we have a new brother, Tilly oppa?”
At the mention of “oppa,” I frowned.
“Why is he my oppa?”
“Because his birthday is a few months earlier than Tilly’s.”
“Just because his birthday is a little earlier.”
As I replied in frustration, Yuriyan laughed as if she found something funny.
“Why are you laughing?”
“My dad also fought with As’s dad about who was the older brother.”
“Who was the older brother?”
“Of course, my dad was the older brother.”
“Because his birthday was earlier?”
“Yes, there was a difference of one whole month.”
I couldn’t believe it was just one month, so I laughed.
It was funny that they would argue about being older or younger brothers with just one month of age difference, unlike As and me, who had more than six months between us.
When I laughed, Yuriyan looked embarrassed and scratched her cheek.
“Is As not that great?”
“No, she’s great.”
I answered Yuriyan with a face that questioned what was so obvious.
“……so Tilly takes after his mom?”
“Yeah, saying that with a serious face is a joke.”
I chuckled at Yuriyan’s words and thought of As.
It is the name of the most famous shield in Greek and Roman mythology.
Aegis is a character who willingly becomes a shield for people, and even more so, for those he loves.
In the ending of the story I wrote, he becomes a true emperor in the real sense.
Since I first met As, she has always smiled brightly.
She was kind, courteous, and upright.
It was largely due to her nature, but also because of the environment she grew up in, where she had to live up to many people’s expectations.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing, though.”
However, As is still just a young child who cannot distinguish what he really wants, what he likes and dislikes.
He is like a prince character that would appear in a fairy tale, a sub-main character that I created, not the current As.
Of course, As must eventually become my sub-main character, and the environment he is in is the process of creating a sub-main character.
How and why did As become a perfect and kind prince to everyone and everything, and why did he love the main male and female characters so much, and why did he make the choice to die with them?
The more precious something is to a person, the harder they try to protect it.
To make As a supremely selfless shield, I created an environment where he could receive a lot of love and give a lot of love.
As a supremely selfish human being, how should I handle his problems when he is still small and young? Should I leave him alone for the original story? Or should I tell him that it’s okay to be a little selfish?
“I can’t even express my own frustrations, so how can I relieve As’s frustrations?”
At Julian’s call, I snapped out of my reverie and met his gaze.
Somehow, the people around me rarely gave me the chance to get lost in thought.
“I heard the portrait you painted a while ago is complete.
The Empress even sent one to our house.”
“Portrait? Oh, that one….”
A while ago, the drawing I did while dancing with As was completed.
I didn’t pay much attention to it since it was going to be used by Palbulsul fans anyway.
When Julian started talking about how cute I was in the drawing, I turned my head.
Looking out the window, I saw that we were passing through the main gate of the Duke’s estate.
However, even if we passed through the gate, we still had to travel by carriage for another 5 minutes.
In other words, I had to listen to Julian’s chatter for another 5 minutes.
Even if I listened with one ear and let it out the other, Julian’s chatter was exhausting, so I just plugged my ears.
Honestly, plugging your ears with your hands doesn’t have much soundproofing effect.
It was just a signal that I didn’t want to listen to Julian.
However, even though I plugged my ears, Julian kept talking.
“So, Russ, I mean, His Majesty the Emperor and As and our Tilly had a debate over who is cuter and prettier?”
I didn’t want to hear about two Palbulsul uncles bragging about their children.
The object of their bragging is just a source of embarrassment.
“Dad is almost winning, but Russ is insisting that it doesn’t count if he doesn’t confirm Tilly’s cuteness with his own eyes.
When Tilly first came to the palace, Russ complained that it was unfair that he didn’t meet her.
Who told him to get punished by the Empress and banned from approaching her? Anyway, Russ was so stubborn that we decided to meet as a family this weekend.”
At the mention of a family gathering, I frowned.
Even though I was already at home, I wanted to go home even more fiercely.
Phileas held sleeping Aegis, unsure of where to go and leaned against a wall with a portrait, staring at it intently.
During the day, they had argued over the portrait and who was the prettiest child, Yurian or someone else’s child.
At that time, Phileas was only captivated by Aegis’ smile, but now his attention kept going to Talaea’s smile in the portrait.
The more he looked, the more he noticed that Talaea’s smile was different from Aegis’ innocent smile.
“Roti, what does Lady Gongnyeo look like?”
At Charlot’s prompt answer, Phileas chuckled.
She did indeed resemble an angel, pretty like Yurian.
“To be honest, I had no expectations for Lady Gongnyeo.”
“But you brought up the engagement?”
“I just said it without any real thought.”
Charlot still seemed irritated and let out a snort.
Phileas laid Aegis on the bed and started to massage Charlot’s shoulders to soothe her anger.
Charlot fixed Aegis’ blond hair and looked at the portrait Phileas had been staring at.
“I thought my son was the most mature child in the world, but he wasn’t.”
Charlot had realized that something was wrong with Aegis’ surroundings when she first tried to make friends for him with the children of nobles.
High-ranking noble families often tried to cultivate sociability in that way.
With a light heart, she picked out people with children from her regular acquaintances and held a tea party.
She had also wanted to invite Talaea, but had to postpone due to Rocina’s second childbirth.
Aegis had been to a few official ceremonies before, and each time he had shown the dignified behavior of a nobleman, as he had been taught.
That’s why people around him called him the ideal prince.
Until he heard those words, he had been very proud.
He had no problem playing with his peers instead of adults, and as expected, Aegis played well with noble children.
It was a very successful tea party, and while having dinner that evening, Charlotte asked Aegis, “Who was your favorite friend among us?”
“The Viscount Trouville was the best,” Aegis replied.
Charlotte had asked about Aegis’s favorite friend, but the answer was about a good family.
Moreover, the Viscount Trouville was one of Philias’s aides.
From Aegis’s perspective, he was a politically acceptable person whom Philias kept close.
Philias and Charlotte both froze upon hearing his response.
Was Aegis judging the parents of the children while playing tag? Did he only smile because he had to, rather than because he was genuinely enjoying himself?
When this question arose, Charlotte could reconsider her opinion of Aegis.
She was aware of his maturity.
She didn’t want him to act like someone her age, but she thought it was better to be more mature than naive, given that he would eventually become the emperor.
The maturity that Charlotte thought Aegis possessed was simply behaving politely around others.
However, behind that politeness, Aegis was making political calculations.
Such calculations were not necessary until much later.
“He’s only five years old now.”
Aegis was growing up according to the expectations of those around him.
However, those expectations could become a burden on Aegis and even close off his possibilities.
After that day, Charlotte and Philias began to worry.
Aegis had already trapped himself in the framework of being the Crown Prince.
Although they had naturally exposed him to children of various social classes, the result was the same.
“What if we introduce him to Lady Lemetio?”
Although in a situation similar to Aegis, I wondered if something would change if Talia met a different child.
I heard that when Talia called her peers, unlike Aegis who ran away or caused trouble, she chased them away.
And when Charlote first met Talia, she was convinced that this child was an angel sent from heaven to change Aegis.
‘How can there be such a beautiful child?’
All children are beautiful, but Talia was especially beautiful.
Her beauty was said to be a divine gift from Uranus, and if you looked into her purple eyes and met her gaze, your heart would tremble.
Although he had made every effort to have a second daughter, Charlote, who had not heard any news for several years, could not help but smile every time he met Talia.
And Aegis was Charlote’s son.
Unlike other children, it was clear that Aegis didn’t know what to do about how much he liked Talia.
Aegis didn’t change much, but he thought it was because he liked Talia.
Until Aegis came to his bedroom tonight.
“Does Tilley hate me?”
“Did Tilley say that?”
At that question, Aegis explained his conversation with Talia.
Apparently, even Talia was aware of Aegis’s problem and was having a hard time.
As Phileas and Charlote struggled to explain this, Aegis finally burst into tears.
If he didn’t hear directly from Talia that she liked him, Aegis continued to cry.
They managed to calm him down by saying that they could meet Talia again on the weekend and ask her again.
Phileas seemed to be lost in thought as he watched Aegis cry for the first time in a long time.
“Were you similar when you were young?”
“Well, the situation was so bad that I didn’t have much hope like Aster.
I was just a nominal emperor.”
“…… I see.”
“But I can understand how my parents felt about me back then.
They always felt sorry for me.”
Thinking of the Sun Emperor and Empress who smiled at him, Phileas swallowed his bitterness and hugged Charlote.
“Shall we go to bed now?”
“Yes, it’s been a long time since we all slept together.”
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