“No, what is all this?” I gasped while Louisa remained silent and just stared back at me with unblinking eyes.

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‘What is that? Does he want me to eat it? Who in their right mind would eat that? Why the hell did he even bring it here?’

It was then that I realized that I was still covering my mouth with my hands, so I slowly dropped them to my sides.
As soon as I did this, Louisa started speaking to me.

“It’s good for your body.
Furthermore, it’s hard to find, so don’t leave anything behind and eat everything.”

That’s it! There is no way out, there is nothing in this life that is salvageable.

I’ve had enough of this ridiculousness! 

I shook my head in distaste and rubbed my forehead as I felt the beginning of a headache.
I let out a sigh as my nerves began to throb, “Take it back.”

“Princess, I hate taking away what I have already given.
Do you want to make me appear as a simpleton? I’m a dragon, after all!”

I couldn’t help but give him a deathly glare, “Take it back! Can’t you see? People are scared right now?”

“That’s funny! Since when did the princess start thinking about other people? Throw it away or eat it, it’s up to you, but I have already given it to you so I am not taking it back.”

I took a deep breath and casted a quick glance at my father, he seemed to be very upset with the whole situation as well.
He looked as though he was wondering if Rustina’s father was a dragon.

Before he could vocalize his suspicions, I decided to speak up first, “Father, I do not know if Louisa is the father of my child.”

He looked flabbergasted with my statement and replied, “What do you mean?”

“I don’t even know who the father is.”

At my words, Louisa’s face, who had been smiling brightly just seconds ago, started to contort and wrinkle.
He grabbed my arms and shook me in disbelief.

“Princess, how could you say such a thing? I knew there were a lot of men around you, but you told me that the color ‘pink’ was your favorite!”

This is crazy! So crazy, that his mouth might even fall off with how ridiculous that statement sounded.
It was obviously a lie!

“W-when did I say that!” I spat out.
Obviously, even though this was Etricia’s body and she must have said that, I personally never said that! I couldn’t help but involuntary cringe as every fiber of my being denied that fact, this is so embarrassing.

‘Truthfully, Louisa’s pink hair is the prettiest shade of pink that I have seen.
The tint was more delicate than all the others.
Furthermore, his pink hair and pure white skin…Stop! Don’t even try to imagine him sporting pink wings…erase that thought from your mind.’ I willed myself to bury that picture in my mind.
I was almost successful with that but the voice of my father calling my name distracted me.

“Etricia.”

I reluctantly turned my head to face the king and noticed that the people around us pretended as if they had not heard or seen anything. 

For some time, my father glanced back and forth between Louisa and I, before he finally stopped doing so and just started to walk away.

“Father, everything this man has said is bullshit.” I reasoned out.

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“I think it would be good to go in and talk.”

“… Is this person with you?”

What are those scary words? I grabbed Louisa by the collar and pulled him towards me and whispered, “I’m going to clean up the mess you brought so go back to where you came from right this instant! We’ll talk about this later.”

“You mean we are not going back together? There is no way for me to go back to my estate.
So can I go to your bedroom instead?”

“… I will send you to a place other than my bedroom, so wait over there.”

For some reason, it seemed that I shouldn’t have mentioned my bedroom to Louisa for he leaned in and whispered in my ear with a sad expression on his face, “You know…even if it isn’t the bedroom, the location does not matter.”

‘Whoops.’

My face turned red and I looked like I had a fever.
I fanned my hands as I felt the heat spreading rapidly on my cheeks and looked away. 

Seeing my reaction, he giggled and then jumped off.
He then climbed onto the railing and faced me, “You can sell that to fill the imperial treasury, or you can even decide to give it to your people.
As a dragon, I used my heart and gave it to you with all my sincerity.
I brought it for Etricia only, but I’m not a narrow-minded dragon who would not let you dispose of it as you please.”

After saying those words, Louisa flew off after he turned into a dragon and in an instant, glided leisurely over the sky and disappeared into the horizon.

“… Pink Dragon.” From a distance, I could still see his large size and how sturdy he looked.
He truly did have a pretty pink color.

* * *

After Louisa had left, the imperial family was enveloped in silence, and that thick air lingered for a long time.  Not even a murmur could be heard, and it seemed as though no one dared to breathe.
After the commotion passed and the disappearance of the pink dragon, my father finally called for me. 

He stood there before me, with accusing eyes, as if he was looking at a criminal.

I began to approach him hesitantly.

“… So, a dragon.
Have you met with a few inmates?”

“I guess so.
I mean, no, that isn’t the case.
I didn’t know it would come to this.”

It was widely known in this world that dragons were fickle and liked to show off infront of others.
They were also known to be collectors of glitter or anything that shimmers, and unlike humans, they are said to lack empathy.

‘That’s why I was trying to resolve this issue on my own terms…’ Louisa’s appearance happened in a crowded place where everyone could see and talk about it. 

It is terrifying to think about what just happened.
However, if it had happened during the banquet celebration, I don’t think I would have made it out alive.
Perhaps that was a silver lining I could be thankful of, that at the very least, it did not happen during the banquet.

The King was still staring at me accusingly.
I sighed and blurted out, “It is not Louisa.”

“How are you so sure? It’s like you know who the father is.”

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If that was the case, why would I go around looking for the child’s father like this? 

Rustina is so lucky that she is just a newborn baby, who does not have to deal with all this drama of looking for her father.

I sighed, “… You just have to believe me that it is not him.”

“I kept everyone’s mouth shut about this issue, but in the future, if this happens again, I doubt we can keep this quiet.” The king warned me and I nodded in agreement.

I had nothing more to say to my father, so I kept my mouth shut.

“Rustina seems to be eating well and growing well.
After things are more settled, we should hold a banquet soon.”

I blinked at my father’s words, “… This soon?”

Seriously, if this pace goes on, the truth would eventually be revealed even if I don’t do anything.
Besides, there is one person left who still has not made his appearance.

‘Let’s not mention him.’ I warned myself. 

After all, I knew that if my father found out, he would have a heart attack.
I mean, how could I tell him that Kyrian, a rare villain and the master of the tower, who for years has had a hostile relationship with the imperial family, may also be one of the candidates who could be Rustina’s father?

Somehow my silence seemed to have bothered the King, for he looked at me suspiciously, “What else are you keeping from me?”

“No, nothing.” I hurriedly waved my hand dismissively. 

I guess I’ll have to write a letter to Kyrian.

I really didn’t know how the princess could have a relationship with him too… 

Somehow, I feel like things are getting more and more out of hand.

* * *

I walked down the tattered hallway and couldn’t help but keep a blank stare.
Somehow it seemed that even my aimless walk could not clear away those complicated thoughts that swarmed my head.
Just then my feet found themselves in front of Rustina’s room.

My presence alerted the Nanny and she hurriedly greeted me by the doorway, “Oh, your highness! Did you come to see Princess Rustina?”

“Well, I guess so? Rustina might be sleeping well by now, so I’ll just go take a look.”

I smiled at the nanny and entered the room. 

However, Rustina, who I thought was sleeping, opened her big eyes, stretched out her hands and waved them gleefully. 

“Why isn’t she asleep yet? Aren’t babies supposed to sleep all day?”

‘How can she be so small?’

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A smirk appeared on her face as she struggled to get up.
I took a seat by her crib and carefully carried Rustina in my arms.
I glanced around the carefully decorated room as I cradled her in my arms, “It seems your grandfather has prepared everything good for you.”

“Uwaahh.”

Again, she was speaking to me in words I could never understand, “Even if you say that, I don’t know what you mean.”

I don’t think her cry was because she was hungry.
It was obvious that she just drank milk, so her stomach was full.
Aside from that, she seemed to be in perfect health, judging by how energetically her hands and feet were moving.

I looked down at Rustina and she looked back at me wearing a soft smile.
Her smile lingered on her lips for a long time as I held her in my arms, and I wondered why she was in such a good mood.

“I like glitter, so should I ask your grandfather for a lot of gold or jewels?” I asked her.

“Buuu!”

“Would you mind if I asked for a separate palace?”

“Bhwaa!”

Somehow, I think, there was one thing that I understood about Rustina, and that was the fact that she was a rather responsive child.  

‘What could a baby possibly know or understand?’ Still, I felt like she could read me, as if she had the same heart as me.

“Okay then! Let’s ask a lot from your grandfather.” As soon as I spoke those words Rustina grabbed my fingers and it felt like we had the same mischievous idea.

As I held her, I opened the window to look at the castle grounds, “The weather seems to be nice outside, shall we go out?”

‘Shaa!’

The wind that rapidly blew towards us, slammed the door shut.

I sighed as I remembered something, ‘Is that abominable thing still there? Well, it’s currently piled up like a mountain, so it’ll take a while to get rid of it.’

“Bwaa?” Rustina blinked her eyes at me in slow motions.
Even though I cannot understand her baby expression, it doesn’t change the fact that she was a cute baby!

I unknowingly began to tap Rustina’s cheeks as I made my way back to her crib to put her back to bed.

“I don’t think I should take you outside, you can’t see what that dragon brought or it may corrupt your young mind.
You should only see good things and grow up…sublime.” Even though I was clueless about raising a child, I still knew how important early childhood education was.
Should she see a Pink Dragon?

Perhaps not.
She would only end up scared just by seeing how massive he is.
As I laid her down on her covers I began to gently rub her belly and she squirmed in delight, “Go to bed early.
You need to sleep a lot to grow beautifully.” I whispered.

To be honest, I hope she sleeps soundly tonight.
I was already dreading the nightfall, I was scared to meet someone tonight.
I wonder who it will be this time?

If Rustina once again becomes restless, she would want to look for me and ask to sleep in my room again.
If that happens and she sees me with a stranger, she will not stop crying and end up staying awake all night!

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I began to yawn, “Ha-am, I’m sleepy too.” I feel drowsy because I couldn’t sleep properly these past weeks.
I gave Rustina another quick glance to make sure she was safe in her cradle before deciding to settle at the sofa next to her and laid down on it.  

The cushions were soft and so I fell asleep easily as soon as I settled on it.
It wouldn’t be so strange right, if I just stay here for a quick nap? 

When I closed my eyes, my body felt like it was sinking into another world.
I know I’ll wake up when the nanny comes, so I can sleep comfortably here for a while.

* * *

“Byeom, blah!”

“Ugh… … .”

“Byeah!”

I think I heard Rustina’s voice in my sleep. 

I could hear incoherent mumblings from a child and yet I did not have the strength to open my eyes.
There were more noises but my body was too tired to see what was going on.

“Puuuuuuuuuu!” I heard Rustina muttering the word she usually says when she is displeased, or when she sees something she does not like.
No one will understand what that word meant, but I have been with her from the start so I knew what she was feeling.

‘Isn’t the nanny here yet?’ I thought to myself with a sigh.

Please, my body feels so heavy…I cannot get up! Please someone come and check up on the child.
After all, it isn’t such a big deal to see why she was crying.

At times like this, I wished that Rustina was a more docile child.

I was in a semi-sleeping state when I finally managed to peel myself off the sofa and mumbled groggily,  “Rustina… I’ll sleep a little more and get up later.”

“Bwa-ah-ah!”

But Rustina did not stop making a fuss and shouted some more.

However, the cries no longer sounded anxious.
Curious at the change of her tone, I lifted my heavy eyelids to look at her direction.
My eyes widened in surprise when I saw my father’s face!

‘Oh, what a relief that it isn’t one of those crazy people.’

Still, why was my father here?

He wore a strange expression on his face as he cooed with Rustina and began playing with her.

It seemed like a scene that I shouldn’t intrude upon. 

Feeling that it was a private moment between the two of them, I hastily closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

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