Why is Brother here? (8)
* * *
Aristine shrank back, feeling people’s gazes directed at her.
She had always received stares, but today, they felt especially heated.
‘Ah, this is so embarrassing.’
She never thought that Tarkan’s barracks would appear in the newspaper.
‘Who even took that photo?’
Her bed being broken on the first night already made headlines, so you might wonder why she was so affected by this one.
‘But then and now are different…’
Although they hadn’t officially announced her pregnancy, her face felt hot to simply imagine the rumors that might spread after this.
‘It’s not my fault that the tent collapsed!’
And Tarkan even said that it was always like that.
“Don’t walk too fast.”
As her pace quickened due to the embarrassment, Launelian, who was supporting Aristine by her side, spoke up.
“It’s not so bad that you need to support me this much.”
“Even being ultra careful isn’t enough.” Launelian said firmly and looked at Aristine. “I knew it; it would be better if big brother carries—.”
“Let’s go quickly.”
Aristine pretended not to hear and continued walking.
Launelian followed her, looking sullen.
They were on their way to having an audience with Nephther.
“…Your relationship with Prince Tarkan seems better than I expected.”
Launelian said after a brief lapse of silence.
He thought Aristine would certainly be mistreated. Even in Silvanus, it was said that the emperor practically drove Aristine to her death.
Because of that, he rushed to save his little sister as quickly as possible, but the real situation was different from what he thought.
“I told you, he treats me well.”
“Rineh, do you like him?”
Aristine came to a stop at that question and turned at Launelian.
Seeing the look on her face, Launelian laughed. “You are all grown up, my little sister.”
His laugh was tinged with a hint of pride and regret.
“But won’t it be better to go back to Silvanus? Think of your body.”
At those words, Aristine’s hand moved to her stomach.
The strange wave coursing through her body wouldn’t let her forget.
However, it still didn’t feel real.
The fact that she was pregnant.
‘In my stomach, a child for Khan and I…’
Just thinking about it made her heart feel full.
This feeling couldn’t be explained with simple words like happy or amazed.
‘Idiot, why aren’t you by my side at a time like this?’
She wondered how it would have felt to have Tarkan next to her when she found out she was pregnant.
What would he think?
She felt a little scared of becoming a parent without any preparation.
A sudden, unexpected event that would change her life.
But it was lovely.
The fact that she was becoming a mother still didn’t feel real.
‘But I must already love you.’
Aristine rubbed her flat stomach.
As if in response, a soft wave spread through her body. The wave brought both joy and sadness to her.
Launelian’s words were lodged in her mind.
Since it was child conceived with ‘authority’, there were a few things that she needed to give birth safely.
“I know it too.”
Aristine slowly began to walk.
“But I will feel anxious if I leave without seeing his face, so just until Khan comes back…”
“Who knows when he will return. From what I heard, the demonic beast subjugation is an expedition that takes quite a while to complete.”
“Rineh, I cannot give in on this. It concerns your health. And the child in your belly too.”
When he mentioned the baby as well, Aristine couldn’t remain stubborn any longer.
The worst outcome would be if something bad happened to both her and the baby.
Her response seemed to relieve Launelian, and he smiled.
He patted his sister on the shoulder, “Don’t worry. I will talk to Prince Tarkan.”
They would have such a good talk.
Launelian smiled inwardly.
The bastard who dared to steal his sister’s heart needed to pay a suitable price.
* * *
“Our Rineh is here.”
Nephther was beaming with smiles as he greeted Aristine.
He was already fond of Aristine, but today, he was especially happy with her.
‘He must be satisfied since I successfully completed my work on the demonic beast plains.’
The situation was parallel to that a General who returned after distinguishing themselves in war.
Aristine returned the smile and greeted him back.
“Royal father, I have returned after completing my work at the demonic beast plains. I apologize for the delay in my report as I was recovering from the travel.”
“Hm? Oh, right.”
Nephther nodded as if he just remembered.
Aristine tilted her head. Wasn’t that why he was so welcoming?
“I’ve already received the report you sent so there’s no need to come in person. Your body must feel heavy as it is. Come, come, have a seat.”
Nephther rose from his seat and helped Aristine with his own hands.
Seeing that, Aristine realized.
‘Ah, he must have heard about the pregnancy.’
It came as no surprise that such news had entered the ears of the King.
When Nephther took Aristine’s arm, Launelian, who had been supporting Aristine, narrowed his eyes sharply.
He tightened his grip around his sister’s shoulder.
Nephther didn’t back down either.
He smiled and tried to quietly shake off Launelian’s arm.
Bright lightning seemed to flash between the two of them.
Aristine smiled tiredly as his arms were captured on both sides.
Why were they acting like this?
It might be the era of peace, but the battle of pride between nations still existed. Was this how friction between nations was fought?
‘Do as you like but leave me out of it.’