“Your majesty, your clothes have been prepared. Ah! Your majesty!!”
Luna panicked and knelt down on one knee. The empress waved her hand with a smile and then said: “Rise. I’ve got free time today, so I’ve come to my son’s room to see him and have some tea together.”
Luna shivered as she stood up. She was at a loss for what to do and stood in place. She still held my clothes I was supposed to wear tonight. I said: “Luna, you can leave once you place my clothes down. It’ll be alright with her majesty and the maids here.”
Luna placed my clothes down and then turned around to leave. I noticed her legs were weak. It’s normal for people to be scared by the empress when they first see her in person.
The empress picked her cup of tea up and took a sip. She then looked at me and said: “Son, how have you been recently? Has anything felt off?”
The empress lightly placed her hand on mine. Her eyes were filled with concern. No. Her gaze seemed to contain a hint of pain within it. Her hand which was placed on the back of mine was shaking gently. I paused for a moment. The empress didn’t ask me about my health as a casual greeting. She was genuinely worried about me.
“Ah, no… I’ve been well recently….”
“No, that’s not what I meant. What I’m worried about isn’t right now, but…” She looked like she was feeling conflicted. She bit down on her lips and her eyes moved back and forth on the ceiling. She held my hand tightly and gently whispered: “The moon will soon be full.”
Now I know what the empress was getting at. Mom can’t suck out my berserk mana on a full moon night while I’m here, and mom’s suggestion was to not resist my own mana. She said that I have to let it out instead. But if I release it then half of humanity’s imperial capital would probably…
Alright, here’s my next big problem. How am I going to get past the full moon night this month?
I looked at the empress and softly said: “It’s alright, mom. I’ll… Think of something.”
The empress nodded, pursed her lips and her eyes slowly turned red as tears formed in her eyes. She rubbed her eyes, and with a sobbing voice said: “It’s all my fault… If I were a bit braver at the start… If I took you with me back then, then you wouldn’t have to suffer so much… I love you… I really, really love you… Seeing you in so much pain, really… I’d rather die….”
Mom couldn’t control her tears, and they inevitably ran down her face. Her hands tightly held mine as if I’d disappear if she let go. Her expression showed endless pain. She was like a child in that moment even though she’s the empress who’s as tough as nails. I don’t know what happened back then, but I could feel her heart-shredding pain. She was blaming herself. Perhaps it was her fault that I have to go through this pain every month.
She was in more pain than me. Perhaps mom has been drowning in pain all these years. I believe that she would gladly endure the pain for me if it could somehow be shifted onto her.
I believe that as she’s my mom. My elf mom can relieve me of the pain by sucking out my mana, but the powerless empress can only watch her son writhe in pain. Mom must be suffering a lot.
I walked over, knelt before mom and gently hugged her. Mom cried as she held me tightly. She pulled me into her embrace tightly. I could feel the warmth and gentleness of a mother. Mom’s tears fell on top of my head. I didn’t know what to say either. I have no clue what happened in the past, but having mom hugged me tightly like this was enough.
“Mom, it’s not your fault.”
“S-Son… My son!!”
Mom hugged me tightly and cried loudly. I hugged her back as a weird feeling rose in my chest. I always considered my elf mom my mom, but not the empress. However, when the empress tightly embraced me, I felt a strange feeling of familiarity, grief and sorrow, like that experienced by someone who’d left home and finally returned home to his family. It felt like I’d been held like this by the empress before.
I only know about the war over their son on a surface level, but nothing about the pasts of my moms. People can only be born once. It’s not uncommon for people to say that the father of one is unknown, but right now, it’s my mom who’s unknown. I could feel a feeling of attachment from my elf mom, and a nostalgic feeling from my human mom, both of which left me intoxicated. It’s said that a child can recognise his mother regardless of how long he’s been apart from them. But my body is telling me that they’re both my moms.
What exactly is going on here?
I don’t know how long it took for mom to stop crying. I raised my head, and extended my hand out to wipe away mom’s tears. The empress closed her eyes and let me wipe her face. The corner of her mouth slowly crept up into a smile and she said: “How… How nice would it be if I could always watch over you as you grow…? My husband is no longer with me, but this is the most beautiful time in my life, and you are the greatest gift to me during this beautiful time in my life.”
“It’s been tough on you, my son. It’s our stubbornness that led to you shouldering this pain. I’ve never had a kid… Nor do I know how to fulfil the role of a qualified mother… I make lots of mistakes, but… But…”
“Mom, you’re already doing very well. You, are a qualified mother…”
I don’t possess the memories of this prince. If this isn’t muscle memory, then I have no idea what’s going on. I don’t know what the empress did to me, but I know she loves me. What can you ask of a mother? A mother is a qualified mother as long as she truly loves her child.
At least, mom suffers for the sake of her son.
I stood up and mom gently leaned her head on my chest. She revealed a smile showing her ease and said: “I’m tired too… I have to deal with so many matters every day. If possible, I really want to pass the crown to you, and then become a mother waiting for you to return home every day, cooking for you, doing your laundry, looking after the home and holding you as we sleep at night. We could have a child… Son… and my dear. It feels so similar…”
Are you sure that’s something a mother should be doing?!
There’s something wrong with both these mothers!! My elf mom adds “onii-sama” when she calls me while she’s in her berserk-mode, while the empress before me has started to feel that I resemble her “dear”! Are you two alright?! Please don’t displace your gone-love onto your son, okay?!
Mom’s gaze started turning strange… I struggled to get out of mom’s embrace, then took two steps back and said: “Mom… mom! It’ll be nightfall any moment now, so you should get ready for the ball, mom!”
“Oh… Right… Right… You’re right… The ball, the ball…”
Mom wiped her eyes, stood up, massaged her face and her majestic look from the other day returned. She cleared her throat gently, finished her cup of tea and then said: “I’ll go get ready now. Son, don’t be late. Oh, right, I still have a question for you son.”
“What is it?”
“Do you have someone you like here after being here for so long? You don’t have any girls accompanying you, so you must feel a bit lonely, right? I heard you have a fiancé at the elf nation, so you need one here too.”
I shook my head. What sort of logic is that? Please forgive the monogamy views I grew up with, but I can’t come to terms with the messy concepts and views of love you hold here. I’m fine with having Lucia. I don’t have any intention of finding myself a princess here.
The empress nodded and then pulled opened the door. Alice and Nier bowed to salute her. The empress left with Alice and Luna came in. She looked at me slightly tense and said: “Your majesty, you should get changed now…”
“Huh? Oh… Sure.”
I nodded. I don’t know why I was looking at Nier who was standing at the door in a daze.