This Time, I'll Marry You - Chapter 3- The Empire's Heir
“Shall I set up a date for the meeting?”
Maxillium’s eyes focused on the world map at the front, while his hands focused on the paper and scribbled something as he directed his question to Augustus.
His left hand tugging the turtle neck, one could easily see that he was getting uncomfortable with this specific winter wear of his. The emperor shifted his sharp gaze towards Augustus, making him the focus out of everyone in the room.
Augustus’s eyes moved from the Emperor’s seat to the window on the other side of the desk. The scenery outside calmed his inner turmoil.
Outside, the leaves had long been dyed a fiery orange and were starting to shed away from its branches as the autumn was ending. The cold was getting closer and the winter was nearing and its wind would bring in a new direction to the Empire. The changing season was foreshadowing the end of the cooperation with the Kingdom of Carna.
The busy military council was summoned and as they were discussing the agreement between the two countries, the abrupt question from the emperor startled them.
As the question was heard, the room fell into complete silence. It’s been a week or so that the Emperor has declared that Augustus is his soon to be brother-in-law. And it’s been more than a month, since the day he has accepted the proposal. But there was no new news floating around it.
Since then everything had been uneventful. Augustus didn’t contact Eugene Giles Alsisar, the name of his fiance he found the next day of this surprising proposal. Neither did the other party try to contact him.
Time flew and he continued to live, work and eat as usual. Busy with work, his personal life was the last problem he was worried about, or so he thought.
‘Does he realise where he is?’
Augustus was furious but his face failed to show such a reaction. His eyes and face always carried a bored expression, confusing people what exactly he was thinking about.
But this man right here, the Emperor knew where to pull the trigger to irritate him, but Augustus couldn’t guess why. Unconsciously he tapped his fingers to the hard wooden surface of his desk, an act he had no control over.
Even if his eyes were fixated on the paper, Augustus knew every pair of eyes were now hawking him for an answer. Excited and eager, now they shamelessly started to look at him. Though some, couldn’t care less about what’s going on. And very few were as annoyed as Augustus.
Most of his colleagues were teasing him.
Also, he didn’t know that he was affiliated to so many people. But after this marriage decree, the congratulation gifts flooded the dark storage room in their mansion.
Augustus clicked his tongue in their attempt to make him shy. So finally, he said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about my personal life here, Your Majesty. And from these reports I have received from my end, the situation is no longer safe. We need our army to retreat as soon as possible. Our spy has already…”
“I don’t think you heard what I said?” Cutting him off, Maxilluim said. He knew the Emperor wanted him to take the initiative and get close to his cousin.
As if wanting him to be flustered and embarrassed, the young Emperor asked again. “Do I need to arrange your meeting?”
Augustus was silent for more than half a second. If he didn’t know Maxillium well, he would have almost teared up in frustration. But he gathered himself up, and said, “Yes you can, You Majesty. Now shall we continue?”
And soon the meeting came to an end, making the council members disperse, one back to their station. Like that, Augustus too was about to vanish from Maxillium’s sight for the rest of the day. Just then, “Mr Addington, since the meeting is finished. Should we continue from where we left off?”
Maxillium was determined, not letting Augustus off the hook so easily. He knew this genius strategist of his would try to run away and not discuss this matter so easily.
Looking at Augustus, he could see that Augustus was exhausted, his unkempt hair, unruly clothes, and his finally revealed an annoyed face. But Maxillium dismissed those signs and continued to press the matter forward.
He was confident in having the upper hand in this matter. And he wouldn’t stop until he had fully taken the advantage of it.
Therefore, Maxillium said, “Let’s go to my study.”
Irritated and in anger, Augustus almost went feral. He wanted to bite this man’s head off, all in slow motion. He could imagine how much satisfaction he would get while doing so. But he restrained, and as fake as his voice could get, he cheerfully said, “Yes, let’s go.”
Well, he would also like to give this Emperor a piece of his mind.
Walking past the garden, both Augustus and Maxillium were stopped by a peaceful yet authoritative figure. The Empress, she was the one who stopped them on their track and the only individual in the palace who had the right to do so.
It was not only rude but almost criminally offensive to even think of her name, but much greater punishments are implemented if her looks are ever described in public. So not many knew what she looked like.
Yet, the fortunate ones if not blind, they can see, beautiful as she always had been, now she stood proud with an untouchable air around her.
Walking towards them, she asked her husband if he could lend her a few of his minutes. In approval, he escorted her into a quiet space that belonged to the centre of the garden.
As the royal couple were discussing their private matter, leaving Augustus neither dismissed nor ordered to wait in the office. He started to walk far away from them.
However, no matter how far he went, he could see her eyes followed him like a hawk. Calculating his every move. He then found a perfect spot and waited. Only then did she remove her eyes from him.
That only lifted off a whole lot of pressure from him. He already knew she didn’t like him. But she didn’t have to make it obvious and torture him every moment she gets.
Well, why wouldn’t she? He was the cousin of the woman who was sharing her husband!
Agitated, his cat eyes wandered around deliberately and desperately looking at things other than the blessed royal couple. But then unable to control them any longer, suddenly his gaze accidentally fell on her, the Empress. And what he saw was slowly creating a lump on his throat.
His now powerless eyes, almost widened as Augustus saw a small bump on her stomach. Though masterfully hidden, it didn’t escape his keen eyes. And suddenly his train of thoughts started with that little fuel.
Is she pregnant? Or is she fat in that specific area? If the bump is showing, does that mean she is running her fourth month? But there was no royal declaration about it. Is there something going on here, that he didn’t know of?
Augustus couldn’t help but find this whole situation unusual. If they now have an heir, why call back Eugene? They should know his presence alone can threaten the Emperor’s whole reign. Eugene, the one who was supposed to sit on the throne and the Emperor’s unborn child.
Why the need to hide the possible next heir to the throne? Right now, an heir’s existence is no less than a blessing. But hiding such a miracle could only mean two things: either this still not yet born child would create havoc in the royal court or his existence is in danger.
Right now, this Empire can’t afford an internal disturbance as much greater forces could be attacking them from the outside. There is already too much ongoing military stress.
The more he looked, the more nervous he got. Every passing moment was dreadful for him. His mind was travelling at the speed of light.
He couldn’t help but on guard, perhaps it was for the better that the child has not been announced yet. But there was one question in the back of his head, causing hopelessness to swim through his mind. All he could hope that his horrible and dark thoughts were wrong.
However, this subject was not that easy. Suddenly like a forceful tide, he could feel an oncoming headache coming, all in while threatened by this child’s existence. Augustus was surely getting nauseous.
But he had no time for that. No time to be sick and lie on the bed. Augustus, even if he was not part of the royal court, knew it was better not opening his mouth before the Emperor himself discloses the matter. He wouldn’t ask a question nor would he seek for an answer. Actually, he didn’t see anything today.
He very well knew that a cat who can’t restrain himself from being curious can get itself killed.
“Ah, your royal cousin is asking for an audience.”
“Perfect!” Maxillium exclaimed. He was already thinking about Augustus and Eugene’s meeting, and now it seems the heavens have finally decided to help him. Maxillium already knew, if this mattered, Augustus would burst and almost say no to his request.
“Thank you for informing me, My Empress.” Maxillium gave out a smile.
She glanced to Maxillium’s side where Augustus was and then back to him, saying “Now the mouse can’t run away can he?” Then bowing she walked back to where she came from.
This piece of information made Maxillium’s smile wider and wider. Then he and Augustus proceeded their unfinished journey towards his study chamber.
Maxillium’s both eyes fixed on the golden handle carved as a dragon with gems and stones. He could feel Augustus was getting more and more impatient. He almost let out a smirk.
Taking a deep breath, Maxillium signalled the doorman.
As soon as the door was about to be opened, loud and hurried footsteps could be heard. Startled, all turned their head towards the incoming sound. And saw a few higher ranked military captains, looking like a herd of elephants rushing towards them. Only to be stopped as they reached near them
With alertness, the braver one mustered up his courage and said, “Your Majesty, we are sorry to disturb you. But for the further discussion about the future with Carna, Lord Addington’s presence has been immediately requested.”
At first, he thought it must have been a prank, how could every single time he tried to fix a meetup, one or the other was always busy. But looking at their face, Maxillium had no choice but to comply.
He turned his back, looked at Augustus and said, “You are to report to me as soon as you finish your work.”
Augustus showed no emotion as always and left nodding in affirmation. His straight back marching off was the last thing Maxillium saw before entering his office.
But unknown to him, curious Augustus peeped through and saw a man’s back. He didn’t know why but he knew it was Eugene’s, even if they have never met. And as soon as Augustus saw him, nostalgia hit him with full force, eyes threatening to tear up.
Why? That word was the only thing moving around his head. His head was getting heavier and heavier. He was tripping over his own foot. His eyes moist and blurred he could not see anything in front. As if a trigger was pulled, his vision got dark and every bit of his muscle got numb.
And like a lifeless doll, he stumbled over a flight of stairs.