While Kasser was paying his respects to the Sword King, Eugene had also gone to pay her respects to the princess. Due to the queen’s absence, the princess was the woman of highest position in the Slan Kingdom.
But none of them started the conversation although they were sitting across from each other on the sofa. Then, after the tea was brought in by the servants, Eugene lifted the teacup in an effort to hide her restlessness.
Eugene had once told Kasser before that she might have been harsh on the princess back in the past. But fortunately, seeing that nothing had crossed her mind so far, she must have assumed the worst for nothing.
“I heard that you’ve come to the Slan Kingdom just last year.” said Eugene to break the silence.
“Yes, you’re right. And I guess it’s already been three years since you left the Holy City.”
To Eugene’s relief, there was no hint of hostility in Gemma’s remarks.
“Yes, it’s already been that long.”
But then, a faint smirk flashed on Gemma’s face. And Eugene sensed something bitter about that smile. When their eyes met, Gemma quickly stammered out an apology, “Please don’t take it the wrong way. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“I’m not offended at all. There’s no reason for me to be upset.”
Gemma lowered her eyes back to the floor after she stared at Eugene with an unknowing gaze. “It just …. feels so surreal to have a face-to-face conversation with Anika Jin.” said Gemma as she fumbled the teacup in her hands.
“Is that so? Because as far as I know, I believe this is not our first time meeting. Or am I mistaken?” Eugene asked in a rhetorical way in order to sound out Gemma’s intentions. This couldn’t be their first time meeting as there was a social gathering among Anikas.
“Not everyone has the privilege to sit with Anika Jin.”
A slight crease was then formed between Eugene’s brows as she spotted a hint of sarcasm in Gemma’s words. Judging from Jin’s disposition, who has a high sense of superiority originating from her noble birth, Gemma must have a humble origin on the contrary.
‘Jin had no reason to be harsh on her after all. In fact, Jin must have just ignored her altogether.’
In principle, every citizen of the Holy City was supposed to be equal besides Sang-je. However, the hierarchy system still prevailed in the society although there no longer was legal discriminations against those of humble birth. The so-called ‘Blue bloods’ existed in the Holy City. And just like the aristocracy in kingdoms, it was the blue bloods from prestigious families who had all the dominance in terms of power and wealth in the Holy City.
And Jin’s family was regarded almost like a royal family in the Holy City.
“Your presence in the Hashi Kingdom had given me quite a consolation when I left the Holy City to come here last year. I mean, no one had ever expected you to marry a king. So, I guess that makes me not so much different from you after all as we both are in the same position of having to bear a child of king’s, are we not?”
Eugene clearly sensed the cynicism in her remark. She wondered how Jin would respond if she were here right now. Jin clearly wouldn’t have let it pass without making a fuss.
As Eugene intended to take her time in removing Jin’s mask before her old acquaintances, she decided to react in the way Jin would have normally done so in such a situation. So first of all, she put her teacup down on the table with a resounding clang. And when it had successfully made Gemma flinch with surprise, she retorted curtly as she rose to her feet, “I believe I did my best to treat you with all my courtesy. But I cannot tolerate such insults any longer. Is this how you treat a guest in the Slan Kingdom?”
Eugene, who just had coldly wheeled around, turned to Gemma again upon hearing her desperate call out. Gemma was on the verge of crying, with her face turned deadly white with fright.
Eugene clucked her tongue inwardly. It was clear that Gemma was no match for Jin as she seemed outright timid with a reserved disposition. If Jin was here for real, it wouldn’t be surprising for her to make further fuss like slapping Gemma right in her face. Jin was capable of doing something even more than that.
“Please, I beg your forgiveness. I have been experiencing drastic mood swings these days. I truly committed a discourtesy.”, said Gemma as she wrapped her lower belly with both her hands. Eugene, who was staring with no definite idea, had let out a groan when it finally dawned upon her. That clearly explained why the prince and the princess had turned down Kasser’s invitation.
“…Are you pregnant?”
Gemma’s belly was yet to protrude to a noticeable degree. However, it felt strange to think that a prince of the Slan Kingdom, who’s destined to be a king in the future was growing inside that belly of hers.
Eugene took her seat again. Although she was a little vexed by Gemma’s impertinent provocation, she wasn’t actually mad.
Gemma’s first impression was gloomy on the whole. Eugene had thought to herself that it was either because she was not welcomed here or that it was just Gemma’s usual expression. But now, she realized that Gemma must’ve been suffering from a mild depression due to her pregnancy. Eugene felt like she could somehow understand the unstable mind of an expectant mother to some degree.
‘I can’t blame her for that. She’s only twenty-one, yet she’s pregnant in a foreign land away from her family. She must have a lot on her mind.’
Unwittingly, she stared into Gemma’s belly for a while before she promptly averted her eyes upon realization of her mistake.
“Ah. Thank you.” answered Gemma with a baffled look as she was dubious of Eugene’s sudden change in attitude at the news of her pregnancy. Gemma carefully studied the look on Eugene’s face while Eugene lifted the teacup from the table.
“You must have turned down the invitation because you’re in your early stage of pregnancy.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
“I should’ve known better. I thought you turned it down because you found me uncomfortable.”
“What? No, not at all.”
“Please come visit next time. You are always welcome.” said Eugene with a smile.