From Now On, I Can Smile (Part 1)
Freya leapt at me and tightly hugged me. I thought that would happen. I just didn’t think Freya would be the first one. She crashed straight into my chest and wrapped her arms tightly around my neck as she loudly cried on my chest. I gently wrapped my arms around her. With a smile, I told her, “Freya, you don’t have to cry. You don’t have to cry. Didn’t I tell you I’d surely be back? I’m back, Freya. I won’t leave again. Promise.”
“Brother… Brother… You‘re finally home… You’re finally back… I am so glad… Brother… You’re finally back…”
Seeing Freya’s expression, I thought, “Wait… Wait… There’s something wrong with Freya’s reaction. This cry is extremely abnormal… It’s not the consoled cry of a reunion after a long time apart, and most definitely not the joy of seeing a brother that you almost couldn’t see. This is a breath of relief after finally seeing the bringer of hope… “
Freya looked up at me from my embrace and tightly gripped my hand. In her shaky voice, she sobbed, “Brother, please don’t go… Please… I can’t hang in there anymore… I really can’t… Sorry… Sorry… Brother… I’m about to crumble… I’m about to crumble…”
There was something off about Freya… I had never seen her wear such a pitiful expression. Freya was a very confident and resilient girl. Normally speaking, she wouldn’t show me the look of being on the brink of crumbling. I carefully wiped her cheeks, and then noticed that my scales left a light red mark on her skin. Frightened, I swiftly moved my hand away, only for her to grab it and press it on her face.
“Does it hurt, Freya…? Sorry… Sorry… I…. I didn’t think my scales would hurt you….”
I wanted to pull my hand back. Freya’s face was still very soft; I was very worried about hurting her. My fingers were no longer as soft as they once were. I didn’t want to hurt her.
“I’m now covered in scales. I no longer have my old skin, Freya. My current body… will hurt you… It’s not as soft as it once was, is it? It must hurt you to hug me, like this, now, huh? It must hurt when I touch you.”
Honestly, I wasn’t worried just because I was worried about hurting Freya, but also because I was afraid I’d hurt Lucia and Nier. Obviously, I was very afraid I’d hurt my children. Liu Yue had grown up, but Daisy and the rest were still infants. Infants had very frail bodies. Their skin might not have been able to handle it.
“It’s all right. It’s all right.”
Freya shook her head then tightly hugged me. She banged her head against my chest, and then clasped my face. She caressed the scales on my face. In a soft voice, she expressed, “You are my brother, regardless. You will always be my brother I like and love most. They are just scales. You are still so warm in spite of being covered in scales, so it is all right, my brother. Please go ahead and touch me. Please touch me as you please.”
Freya tightly hugged me and spoke from my embrace. I gently touched her head and used all of my focus on controlling my strength. She gently wiped her tears from my embrace before slowly raising her head. I looked at Freya’s crying face and smiled. I kissed her forehead: “What’s wrong, Freya? You look different to usual. Did something happen? By the looks of it, can I assume that something painful has recently happened for you to feel so bad.”
It was unexpected, but wasn’t totally outside of my predictions. Freya shakily nodded. In the past, Freya would never admit that she was powerless and suffering from work. After all, she was a very confident and even proud girl. She was the only person by my side who could help me with my work, after all. Plus, she highly valued the post; therefore, she’d never complain or show her fatigue. She always showed she had an ace up her sleeve and showed incredible confidence. That way, I’d feel reassured and trust her with everything. For her to be able to show despair and distress in front of me went to show that what recently happened had been a real headache for her and caused her a lot of grief. Hence, she admitted to her mistakes in front of me.
I could understand Freya’s plight. Since she almost destroyed the entire North, she had too much on her plate to handle. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The matters she had to deal with were tough, so tough that she couldn’t bear it. I needed to step up. Indeed, there were some things that Freya couldn’t take care of.
Freya released me, and then turned her head to look at Luna, who was behind me. Luna stood behind me the entire time, watching our sibling reunion. Noticing we were finally done, she looked at Freya with a smile. She greeted Freya:s “Hello, Freya, long-time no see. You have grown quite a bit since I last saw you.”
Freya leapt over and hugged Luna. She tightly hugged her with joy and buried her head in Luna’s chest. Luna softly giggled while stroking Freya’s head. Luna was worried that her body would freak Freya out. Fortunately, Freya didn’t mind the veins on Luna. Freya, instead, leaned on her chest with a heart-warming expression as though she was looking at her elder sister.
From her chest, Freya coquettishly asked, “Sis Luna, have I grown? I want to be like you…”
The two of them had the best relationship. Perhaps it was because they shared the same background. That would explain how they understood each other’s sentiments. Further, Luna considerately and meticulously took care of Freya, making her existence as warm as a mother to Freya. Among all those around me, the only one who truly had a good relationship with Luna was Freya.
Freya was still some time away from maturing into an adult, right? No matter how you looked, Luna was an adult elf. I looked at Freya and laughed: “You’ll grow in a few years’ time, Freya. Probably another five years? Luna is already an adult.”
Luna and Freya turned their heads at the same time. There was something strange with Luna’s gaze, while Freya quickly went red in the face as she looked at me with a hint of anger. I was confused, completely unaware of what the two were expressing. Luna awkwardly looked at me and hesitated for a long time before saying, “It is all right… It is all right… Mm… Freya is not your biological sister, after all… So it is fine… It is fine…. But Freya is still young, so you need to be careful…”
“You… Brother… You… What are you saying?!”
I was still perplexed. Freya, whose face was red, looked at me somewhat angry. She then exclaimed, “Brother, we cannot talk about the matter between us!! What are we going to do if others find out?!! I, for one, do not dare to mention it!”
“What…? What exactly are you talking about…?”
I didn’t have the foggiest idea as to what they were saying. Seeing my reaction, the two of them seemed to realise I wasn’t playing dumb but genuinely didn’t follow what they were saying. I looked back and forth between them. I suddenly realised what they were saying when Freya covered her chest…
“So you two were talking about that?!” I realised.
No, no, no, no! I was certain Luna most definitely wasn’t talking about that at the start. It was definitely Freya. I just didn’t get it… I inadvertently revealed my relationship with Freya…
Luna looked at me with a blank look, and then smiled: “It is all right. It is all right? Your Majesty, I am used to it. I am not surprised whatsoever.”
“I don’t feel happy that you understand… To the contrary, I want to ask: am I that sort of person in your hearts?!”
“Are you not?”
Luna revealed an inconceivable gaze: “It is all right, Your Majesty. All Kings will have some side hobbies. How would one be a qualified King if he did not have stronger wishes than the common man? As such, I do not mind this. I believe nobody other than your wives will mind.”
“I already told you: it’s not like that… I really didn’t realise what you were saying…”
I powerlessly covered my face, and then sighed before revealing a smile again. I was at home. I was at my own home. I just needed to continue forward, and I’d get to see my family, so regardless of whatever the case may be, I’d be able to smile. I turned around: “Freya, I’ll leave Luna to you. Go see the head maid and arrange a position for Luna. Then, give Luna some basic training, and she’ll be ready for work.”
“Is Miss Luna still going to be a personal servant?”
Freya seemed to be surprised. Luna patted her shoulder and, with a smile, replied, “Of course, Freya. I am His Majesty’s personal servant. I am his only personal servant. I am very proud of it. To be able to serve His Majesty is something to be very proud of, is it not, Freya?”
The two of them were genuinely very close. They went through the same experiences and obtained the same things from me. They were both in the same circumstances even now. They were so similar that it was surprising.
Freya hesitated for a while. She noticed Luna’s gaze. Smiling, Freya nodded: “Indeed. Being able to serve His Majesty makes one very proud!”
*Freya used informal language with Troy at the start of their reunion; that is not inconsistency in translation.