Flipping the page again, the tears came out in a full blown stream down her cheeks.
The picture was that of Carl, who looked just like his father.

   Carl Dniester.

   Bjorn had never seen the child, but at least gave him the Royal Family name.
That was the price of the secret pact between Lechen and Lars and thanks to that, Carl was able to live his short life with honour.

   “Thank you and sorry.” Gladys said to the picture of Carl.

   The sobbing finally subsided after reaching uncontrollable levels that made Gladys whole body shake.
Finally calm, she got up to open the window and as she did so, a cold breeze blew into the room.

   She met Gerald at a routine social gathering in the spring of seventeen, about the time when the talk of marriage was on everyone’s lips.
It wrenched her heart to know that it could never, but the love was like an uncontrollable fever.

   She constantly dreamed of giving up everything and follow her dream, run away with Gerald and never look back.
Gladys had to submit to her reality and except her marriage to Bjorn.
In her belly, she could never dream of what was growing there.

   On the day everyone found out that Gladys was with child, Bjorn looked at her with scorn.
She wished they had slept together and she could have pretended that child was his, but they had not so much as hugged.

   Gladys couldn’t bare the thought of letting another man touch her, not after meeting her one true love and the passion they had shared.
She didn’t want to betray him.
On their wedding night she apologised pathetically to Bjorn.

   “I’m sorry.” Gladys had said.

   “It’s okay Princess,” Bjorn said. “Let me know when you’re feeling confident enough, until then, I’ll be waiting.”

   In the morning shared an awkward breakfast, and the morning after, and the day after that and so on.
All the while, Carl grew inside Gladys’ tummy.

   For a long time Gladys couldn’t except another man into her bed because of the memory of her first true love.
Then came a certain point where Bjorn turned and became too frightening, and difficult, to approach.
So spring passed by, summer came and with it, the news of the Crown Princess’ pregnancy.

   If only she hadn’t let herself get involved in immature love.
If only she had been clever enough to play the game and fool everyone else.
If only she had the confidence to do what needed to be done, then everyone wouldn’t be so unhappy now.

   Gladys sobbed softly as a chilly breeze blew across her.
She hated her own frankness and inability to deceive.
It was hard to bear the hatred and her heart felt like it was going to explode.

   “Keep it quiet, we will keep things as they are for now.”Bjorn had said when Gladys confessed to him.
He did not raise his voice, or show any anger.
It was actually a lot scarier.

   “I mean to congratulate you on your pregnancy, so be happy and carry on as the great Crown Princess you’ve been so far.
Do you understand, Princess?”

   On the surface, the days continued on as normal, blissful happiness of the newly-weds.
Tranquillity layers over the top of scrupulous lies.
If Gladys had given birth to a daughter, they could have continued on like that indefinitely.

   But a son was born.

   Gladys returned to Lars with her son in tow after only a year since the grand wedding.
Externally, she was with the son of Bjorn Dniester.
She hoped that returning to Lars, she could be with the real man she loved and live happily with the child’s real father, but it wasn’t to last.

   When the two reunited, it was as it was before, the love and the passion they felt for one another was as strong and bright as ever.
He was a good man.

   Gerald was comfortable and warm toward her, she was at ease when he was with her.
As time went on, Gladys found herself thinking about Bjorn more and more out of guilt.
She would smile vaguely at Gerald and their love became less fervent.

   Gerald passed away a season later, pistol suicide and soon after, Carl followed his father after succumbing to a fever.
Gladys felt grief like none should ever have to.
A lone widow with a lost child, could there be any worse heartbreak for a single person to have to go through?

   Although Gladys wept for her lost loves, but as the misfortune passed, Gladys found that her feelings for Bjorn she did not see when she was with him.

   It was all meaningless though.

   Gladys tossed the photo table on the chair and flopped onto the bed.
She didn’t bother closing the window, or throwing the curtains over herself.
She hoped that she would close her eyes and never have to open them again.

   Morning came and Gladys did open her eyes again.

   “Princess, oh my, your Highness, please don’t do this, are you really willing to risk your health?”

   Gladys lazily turned her head to the door and saw her dutiful maid standing there.

   “I need to go back to Lars, would you make the arrangements.” Gladys said, lazily pulling herself up from the bed.

   A dark shadow fell over the maids face as she heard the words she had been waiting for for a long time.
All Lechen knew the Grand Duke and Duchess would be boarding a boat soon, destined for Lars as they started their honeymoon.

   “Yes, Princess, do you want to be on the same boat as the Grand Duke and…” The maid didn’t get chance to finish her sentence.

   “What do they have to do with me?” Gladys snapped, staring blankly toward the window.
“It’s all pointless.” With that, Gladys fell back onto the bed.

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