After lunchtime, a servant informed Annette of a visitor’s request for a meeting.


“Madam, a gentleman requests to see you.
He said he is a former acquaintance of yours………..”


“An acquaintance of mine?”


Was there an acquaintance who might visit her? Just as Annette was getting puzzled, she heard a familiar name.


“Yes, he said you would know if his name is Ans.”


Annette’s eyes slowly widened as she chewed on the name.
She mumbled absentmindedly.




Ansgar Stetter.


The second son of the now fallen Count Stetter, and a friend of Annette’s.


Ansgar had once courted Annette, but it never materialized.
When Annette married, he went to study abroad and had not been heard from since the Revolution.


“Um, madam? What should I do?”


“…… Oh, um, …….”


Annette hesitated, unable to answer right away.
It wasn’t because she didn’t trust Ansgar or that she was uncomfortable.
Just ……


It was miserable to see him like this.


Stetter was a close friend of Rosenberg’s.
This was also why Annette and Ansgar grew up close to each other from an early age.


With the fall of Rosenberg, Stetter collapsed as a matter of course.
Ansgar was abroad at the time of the revolution and fortunately avoided disaster.


However, Annette and Ansgar’s position was different.
It was not merely a difference of distance.
She was in a different position not only with Ansgar but also with other fallen nobles.


After the revolution, the revolutionary forces used public opinion to justify the bloodshed and consolidate the unrest.
Annette was used for this propaganda.


She was quite well suited for this task.
She was royal blood, a symbol of “nobility,” and the daughter of a military commander.


The press bit Annette up to the neck to spread anti-noble sentiment.
Today, the image of Annette in Padania was nothing short of a rare villain.


Annette, distressed, eventually gave her permission.


“…… in the reception room…Please let him in the reception room first.
Ask him to wait a moment….”


“Yes, Madam.”


The servant bowed her head and left.
Annette sat down at the dressing table and looked in the mirror.
The woman she saw looked melancholy and seemed to collapse at any moment.


She applied simple makeup.
Red lipstick to her lips and blush on her cheeks, she looked lively in an instant.


When she went down to the reception room, a servant was waiting for her.


“The guest…?”


“He is inside.
Tea has been served.”


Annette took a slow, deep breath and opened the parlor door.
Her hand was shaking slightly as she turned the handle.


There was a faint aroma of tea in the parlor.
A man in a brown suit was sitting neatly on the sofa.
As Annette entered, Ansgar took off his hat and rose from his seat.


“ Annette.”


“—It’s been a long time.”


Annette responded plainly with a light smile.
On the contrary, a happy and sad look was evident on Ansgar’s face.


Ansgar strode over and embraced her with a big hug.
Annette almost cried and placed her hands on his back.


They parted after a brief embrace.
Ansgar did not take his eyes off Annette’s face while he sat down again.


“You look very thin.”


 “Do I look that way?”


 “Still beautiful as ever.”


Annette laughed without reply.
She quickly dismissed the thought, wondering if Ansgar still had feelings for her.
Whether he did or not no longer mattered.


“I sent you a letter first, but you didn’t reply.
So I had no choice but to visit you in person.”


“I think it’s because I told the servants to filter out any letters with unknown addresses.
By any chance, you didn’t waste your time visiting the old mansion, did you?”


Annette said it like a joke, but Ansgar’s expression was not cheerful.


that can’t be.
Of course I looked for the official residence first, since you’re the wife of the Commander-in-Chief.”


“How have you been? Are you by any chance completely back in Padania?”


“Not really, I just came here to sort things out.
I had to come and see you once….and now I’m working as an ambassador in France.”




“I went to France right after I graduated.
I know a lot of people there.”


Most of the Padania aristocrats who left in the aftermath of the revolution defected to France.
Perhaps his acquaintances were them.


“An ambassador.
You succeeded, Ans.”


“Success is something that might have been a better life had it been lived as it was.”


Annette felt a strange discomfort in his words.


The original life.
Life before the revolution.
Or a life that would never happen.
Was that life really better? Perhaps it was.


“How have you been, Annette?”


Annette suddenly came to her senses.
Ansgar was looking at her with a sympathetic expression.

She answered roughly.


“…… umm, well, I just stay here.”


Ansgar’s odd look seemed to suggest that he knew everything about Annette’s life.
Certainly, he couldn’t have known.
Especially if he was working as an ambassador.


After taking a sip of tea, Ansgar quietly opened his mouth.


“I got married.”


“Oh, really? Congratulations.
What kind of woman ……….”


“I got divorced last year.”


Seeing Annette in a slightly puzzled expression, Ansgar chuckled.


“We got married out of necessity anyway.
I needed citizenship.”




“What about you?”




“Are you going to stay in this marriage?”


Annette was rendered speechless by his direct question.
Not simply because she couldn’t choose what to say.
There were servants waiting in the parlor.
All the servants in the official residence were Heiner’s people.


In other words, all conversations that took place here were reported to Heiner.


“First of all…”


“Perhaps you want to continue because you want to? You are not unaware of what your husband did to us, are you?”


“I’m not that stupid, Ans.”


“It was never my intention to suggest that…”


“I know.
And I want a divorce too.
Just not right now.”


Annette hesitated for a moment.


What should she say? That her husband wouldn’t agree to divorce? That she couldn’t guarantee the odds of winning the divorce trial? And if she persisted, she would be locked up in a mental institution?


Whatever she chose to do, the words were going to be long.
Annette looked at the servant standing behind her like a shadow and gave a vague answer.


”Well…divorce right now is kind of difficult.”


“You wouldn’t have had anywhere to go if you divorced, right?”


“Are you here to make me aware of my circumstances?”


 “Don’t take it so sensitively, Annette.
I am sincerely concerned about you.
I just don’t want to change the subject for no reason.”


Ansgar let out a short breath as he raised his hands and showed them as if he didn’t mean evil.
He clenched both fists and then lowered them again.
Soon a decisive confession flowed.


“Come with me to France.”




“I still have you in mind.
I’ve always been thinking that as soon as I settled down, I would bring you with me.
If you marry me, you will be granted French citizenship.”




“I know how the atmosphere in Padania is.
You have been used by the republican forces.
Your husband agreed with them, and he will not help you.
Currently, I am your only option.”




“Take my hand, Annette.”


Ansgar raised his lips gently to 

reassure her.


“You’ll be happier.”




“I will make you happy for the rest of your life.”


Annette stared at his confident face.
Ansgar waited patiently for her response.


After thinking about something, Annette replied weakly.


“My husband …..
he won’t allow it.”


 “If you get divorced and become strangers, permission doesn’t mean anything.”


“He’s the Commander-in-Chief.
He won’t tolerate acts against his will.”


“Annette, could you possibly ……”


A slight astonishment crossed Ansgar’s face.
Annette vaguely guessed what he was about to say.
Perhaps her husband had locked her up here, mentally and physically abusing her……….
Well, that was what it seemed like.


She couldn’t say Ansgar was completely wrong.
But Annette did not want to be pitied.
Not even in this situation.


 “Whatever you think, Ansgar, I’m fine.
You don’t need to worry too much.”


“Aside from the divorce issue….the overall situation is too much for you.”


“Three years.”


Annette cut him off quietly.


“Three years I’ve endured.
And I see no reason why I can’t endure more.”


Ansgar’s expression became a little strange.
In no time at all, the atmosphere had sunk.
Annette closed her eyes for a long time and then smiled quietly.


“I want to get my thoughts straight first.
It was too sudden.


I talked too much from the main point, didn’t I? Sorry.
I—I’ve been waiting for today for a long time, but from your point of view, it must have been sudden.”



Ansgar scratched his cheek in embarrassment.
His neck and earlobes were slightly red.
Annette shook her head.


“No, I should have gotten your letter.
Um, which way should I talk to you? I’ll get back to you later.”


 “Ah, yes! I have to give you my contact information.
Um, here’s my business card — oh, and I’ll put my address on the back as well.
Wait a minute, I’m staying at a hotel temporarily right now.
You can ask for my name at the front desk, or you can come straight to my room.”


Ansgar fumblingly took a pen from inside his coat and wrote the address on the back of his business card.
His appearance reminded Annette of the boy she had played with in the past.


He had been somewhat unfamiliar to her earlier.


“Well, make sure you call me again.
Anytime you need help, just let me know.”




After reminding her several times, Ansgar regretfully stood up.  Annette saw him off to the gate.
She did so despite Ansgar’s attempts to stop her.


He was an old friend.
He was a friend who had come to visit her again, and she was very happy, no matter what the circumstances.


Back inside the building, Annette closed the front door and leaned against it for a moment.
The desolation that had enveloped the area after Ansgar’s departure was especially heavy.


Annette stared at his business card.


[Ansgar Stetter.]


The Stetter family.
France’s ambassador, acquaintances, exiled nobles, marriages.
Republican forces………..
Annette slowly murmured in a low voice.


restoration of the monarchy?”

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