The next day.
Damian headed to the Empress dowager’s palace.
Her Majesty greeted him with teary eyes.
Damian though greeted the Empress dowager with a startled expression.
“Why are you outside It’s cold.
You should be inside…”
“I wanted to be out here…especially when it’s possible for me to see your face sooner.”
The Empress dowager, having said that, curled her lips, refraining herself from more crying.
But its effects were temporary.
The Empress dowager tugged Damian, holding him tightly before bursting into tears.
“Damian, I….I can’t believe I get to see your face again….”
“….didn’t I promise to come back safely”
As he gently stroked the back of the Empress dowager who clung to him, Damian whispered so with tenderness.
The Empress dowager’s handmaiden watched the scene unfold from a distance, wiping away her tears as well.
Really, he can’t imagine how happy she is.
‘It wasn’t too long ago where she would not have dreamed of ever seeing her grandson, the crown prince at her palace like this, in her embrace once more….’
As he led the northern frontier to victory in subjugating the beasts, Damian became recognized by the people of the empire and its nobles as the rightful crown prince.
In particular, the Northern frontier has officially stated its support of the crown prince.
Eight years had now passed.
Damian was now emerging as the next ruler of the empire in both name and reality.
Even more so at this point in time when the Emperor and the Empress had not produced any children.
After a while, the Empress dowager stopped crying.
The two sat facing each other with hot steaming teacups in front of them.
“I haven’t seen you in a long time, and the first thing I do is make a fool out of myself with all my crying,” said the Empress dowager, upset at herself.
“I never imagined you would grow up so soundly…”
Damian shook his head with a smile.
More than that, I’m glad my grandma is healthy.”
“It’s all thanks to her Majesty, the Empress for taking care of me.”
After saying that, the Empress dowager smiled with a mischievous glint in her eyes.
“The same goes for Charlize.”
You don’t know how clever she is.”
The Empress dowager closely examined her grandson’s expression upon mentioning that.
Just as she expected, as soon as he heard ‘Charlize’, her grandson’s eyes lit up vibrantly.
“That girl kept me company while you were away, making me forget my sorrows and loneliness.”
“I see,” said Damian in a relaxed manner.
It was clear as day that Damian was pretending not to be interested in Charlize.
The Empress dowager asked a question as her smile faded.
“Tell me, how was life in the North”
“It was fine.”
“Fine, you say Surely, you had a rough time…”
The Empress dowager’s wrinkled hand reached out to Damian, patting his back.
“I heard you owe a lot to Antes.”
The eyes looking at Damian expressed regret.
“Especially that lady.
She cares a lot for you, doesn’t she”
“By that lady you mean…Sienna Antes”
Almost instantly, Damian’s visage expressed disgust.
The Empress dowager tilted his head.
“Why, am I mistaken”
“What, there’s no way that would-!”
Damian choked up for a moment.
That obnoxious girl, help me
There wasn’t help in the slightest bit!
Considering how she bullied me all the time!
Damian, who was going to vent, let out a long sigh.
“…..no, but let’s leave it at that.”
He had much to say but decided against it.
It was true that he was indebted to the Antes household though.
The Empress dowager eloquently interjected and continued.
“Maybe you don’t remember.”
“There was a time when you were young, you two were married.”
“….Why would I marry Sienna!”
Damian looked at the Empress dowager with a flabbergasted expression.
He couldn’t stand this.
He shook his head resolutely.
“I absolutely hate that.”
“Oh my, why”
“I just dislike it.
Anyway, I’m probably not the only one, Sienna would hate it too.”
At her grandson’s reaction, the Empress dowager smiled awkwardly.
As a matter of fact, it was bizarre to see such a disgusted look on his face, perhaps there’s a reason…
The Empress dowager spoke calmly.
“You know, Damian.”
“I think I might have a slight idea why you dislike her so much.”
“….what do you mean”
This is why youngsters are cute.
Gullible and a joy to tease.
Thinking so, the Empress dowager shook her head with a broad smile.
Then she posed a question to her grandson.
“Have you met with that girl, Charlize”
As soon as he heard her question, his eyes glistened again.
The Empress dowager clicked her tongue.
‘You can read his expressions like an open book.
Damian meanwhile, with no clue of what the Empress dowager was thinking, gave his answer.
“Yes, we met yesterday.”
At that moment, the Empress dowager seized the opportunity to tease her grandson.
“Oh my God, you went to see Charlize before this old lady of yours”
When faced with that question, Damian was caught off guard as his expression became glum and then dismayed.