“Why are you so quiet?” Bjorn broke the heavy silence at the dinner table.

   “I’m just a little tired today,” Erna replied stiffly.

   She kept her eyes on the plate in front of her, like a defiant child, she was very angry.
As always, Bjorn laughed it off.

   “Why, what did you get up to today?” He hated it when Erna behaved like a sulky child.

   “I don’t want to talk about it, I too have a private life,” she looked away from the dinner table.

   Bjorn finished up his dinner and the servants took the empty dishes away.
He leaned on the back of the chair and watched Erna.
She normally liked to make a fuss about her day, but she just stared at her plate as she ate, pretending she couldn’t feel Bjorn staring at her.

   “Erna, you shouldn’t waste your energy on such pointless things, you should concentrate on doing what makes you happy.” It was a harsh remark, made to feel friendly by his soft tone and inviting smile.

   “What do you think I should do? Am I some sort of doll that you can pose however you like, whenever you like?” The words came with effort, but Erna let them come out.

   More and more it seemed like she didn’t know Bjorn.
He was a kind and considerate man at times, but now she could see that he probably didn’t mean it, or did these things by accident.
The closer she got to him, the more difficult he was.
It felt like she was better off keeping Bjorn at a distance, remaining indifferent.

   “That’s not a bad idea, why don’t you try being that kind of wife?” He titled his head slightly and wore a wicked grin on his face.

   “No,” Erna said, standing up in a shot and throwing her napkin onto the table.

   She had wanted to resolve the awkwardness of the relationship, but she forgot she was dealing with a completely cold-blooded man.
A poisonous mushroom.

   “I know I’m lacking in most areas, but still, I am trying to make an effort and I will continue to do so.”

   It had been almost half a year since they had gotten married, but she still thought of herself as that lost girl in a strange world.
She believed she was getting better, but was she still lacking so much in his eyes? Or maybe it was simply because he never had any expectations in her in the first place.

   Although she was completely disillusioned with her efforts to please her husband, she still didn’t want to become some emotionless doll that he could do whatever he wanted with.

   “Sit down, Erna,” Bjorn said with a sigh.

   It was just like last night, he threw hurtful words and showed a strange joy on his face, like he was confirming that he had this woman’s heart.
That secret joy of his to see her shamed, like looking at her own bottom.

   “I don’t want to,” Erna said, rubbing her red eyes, “I’m sorry, but I am busy doing useless things.” Erna bowed her head and left, stomping as she went.

   When she disappeared from view, Bjorn let out a dry laugh.
The servant approached hesitantly and placed down a plate of pudding in front of Bjorn.

   “No, take it away,” Bjorn said with a wave of a hand.




“Do you not have anything to say?” Mrs Fitz asked Bjorn, as he sat at his desk with his nose buried in some important file.
He did not respond.
“No? I’m just surprised to hear you and the Grand Duchess fighting.”

   “Who’s fighting?” Bjorn looked up with a bland smile

   It was funny to call that unprecedentedly fierce and bitter rebellion a fight.
Erna was just being Erna, a woman who will smile like the sun again after a few jokes, a smile and a friendly kiss.

   “You are a good person, Your Highness, a better person with her at your side,” Mrs Fitz spoke in a low voice.

   “What a generous evaluation, from the strict Mrs Fitz.”

   “I’m just speaking the truth.”

   “I know,” Bjorn nodded.
Mrs Fitz looked at him anxiously.

   The former crown Prince and the Princess of Lars had such a perfect honeymoon.
It was a quiet, elegant, peaceful time.
It was not suitable for a young couple of that age, but they were the pride of Lechen and Lars.

   But was the marriage perfect?

   Mrs Fitz had often asked herself that question recently.
The Prince she had known since he was a little child, seemed unfamiliar to her these days.
She could not imagine him spending so much time fretting over his wife, only to throw it all away by arguing with her.

   Mrs Fitz looked at the Prince, then over to Erna’s bedroom.
Bjorn and Gladys used to be praised on how they seemed like an old couple, like they’d been together for decades, it made her wonder.

   “Your Highness,” Mrs Fitz said impulsively, could he really have had an affair? “No, never mind.”

   As always, Mrs Fitz buried the question.
It was not the kind of thing she could have brought up casually, even if it was the truth, or other truths existed.
There was no way to find out, if he decided to hide, there was going to be no way to prise it from him.

   Bjorn got up from the desk and went over to the door to Erna’s bedroom.
The Prince Mrs Fitz had raised was such a gentleman and she loved him for that.
He knocked confidently on the door.

   “Go away,” Erna shouted.

   Bjorn frowned and knocked again with more force, making the handle rattle.

   “Open the door, Erna.”

   “No, I don’t want to.
My bed is expensive.”


   “It means you can not come and go as you please,” her cry was ferocious, like a beast.

   “Erna, you’d better open this door.”

   Bjorn was laughing, more out of surprise and knocked on the door again.
The harder he knocked, the louder Erna shouted and the dark, quiet halls of the Grand Palace was filled with the battle of newly-wed’s.
Surprised by the disturbance, maids and servants filtered out and gathered around to listen.

   “You really think I can’t open this door if you don’t open up?”

   Bjorn was no longer relaxed, or wore a smile like this was some big jest.
The servants looked at each other, what were they going to do if the Prince asked for the key to the door?

   The Prince took a breath and calmed himself.
He backed away from the door, but never once took his cool, cold eyes from the lock.
He looked like a predator about to pounce and unless the servants intervened quickly, he was really going to open the door with a kick.

   “Who do you think is going to lose out in the end, Erna?” Bjorn shook off the servant holding him back.

   “Well, it’s certainly not going to be my loss!”

   Bjorn took a deep breath and swallowed dryly.
It looked like he was controlling his anger, but anyone looking closer would be able to see the vein’s popping in his head.

   “I don’t want to see you, so go away and before you even think of it, the couple’s passage is also locked.”

   This woman…she’s out of mind. Bjorn thought.

   This deer was definitely a mad.

   “If you don’t open this door and come out right now, you’ll never see my face again,” Bjorn’s was quite serious in his threat.

   “Wow, thank you so much for your consideration!”

   The onlookers witnessing the fight grew embarrassed and wondered if they should have given the couple space.

   “If you need a doll, go ask your nanny.
A pretty doll, the ones that all the princes like!”

   “Fine, let’s see who will lose out in the end,” Bjorn turned away from the door with a laugh.

   Surprised, the by-standers hurried back, lowering their eyes.
There was only one, Mrs Fitz, who dared not move and looked at the prince.

   “Congratulations on your first fight,” she said.
From his first cry, his first babble, or his first step, she always congratulated him on every Prince’s ‘first.’  “Do you need me to fetch you a doll?”

   Bjorn’s brow wrinkled at the question, it was a different look to the one he had just been wearing during the fight, like he was seriously considering it.

   After staring into space for awhile, Bjorn turned as if nothing had happened.
He walked back to his room at a leisurely pace.
His anger was still brimming on the surface, as he slammed his bedroom door.

   “Yup, he’s our prince,” someone muttered.

   “Why, were you expecting another Leonid?” Mrs Fitz said.

   Some of the other servants muttered to themselves, or whispered to each other, “oh my god, that’s our prince.”

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