A Stepmother’s Marchen - Chapter 44
Was it my illusion that I’m seeing a sparkle of tears in the boy’s blue eyes who said that?
Without realizing it, I walked closer to him. As I remembered his unusual appearance not long ago, I was worried.
“Nora? What… What’s going on? Why are you here alone? Are you sick?”
Nora didn’t answer back. It was then that the boy’s shoulders, who had been sitting with his head down and sighing from fatigue, suddenly began to shake violently.
Holy Father! Holy Father! It went without saying that my heart was pounding in an instant.
I wouldn’t have imagined seeing the young Nurembert, Jeremy’s rival, the Empire’s strongest sword, sobbing before me before..
“Nora…? What’s wrong? What’s going on?”
It was always embarrassing for me to see boys crying. In the dim past, when I saw Jeremy hiding and crying alone, I felt at a loss and at odds with what to do.
I couldn’t believe that such strong boys would cry!
“What’s going on?” I asked the question carefully, but the boy didn’t respond.
Of course, the good thing was that he didn’t shake my hand away.
I sat down in front of the altar, kneeling gently beside the sobbing boy. Then carefully patted him on the shoulder. I didn’t know what was going on, but I just wanted to comfort him.
“It’s okay, Nora. Everything is going to be fine.”
I heard the sound of a hoof and a suffocating breath.
Finally, the boy, who raised his head, stared at me with his blue eyes full of water, and then spat out in a tight voice, “Noona, what does ‘growing up’ means?”
How could I answer such a question? What was more, I didn’t expect to hear him call me that way.
Instead of pointing that out, I smiled awkwardly, “Well. I don’t know either.”
What advice could I give in such a field? This whole new life was a series of surprises to discover new aspects of what I thought I knew better than anyone else.
Swallowing back the words, I pulled out a handkerchief and gently placed it on the boy’s cheeks.
Staring into my eyes hesitatingly, he dropped his head again, then rubbed his wet eyes with the back of his hand and let out a sigh, “Rather… it would have been better for everyone if the prince was my father’s son.”
“Your Highness, but you…”
“Does noona think so, too? Do you think I’m an incapable person, and I lie every time I talk?”
Unbeknownst to me, I answered firmly without a moment’s hesitation.
Nora was staring at my face with a strangely desperate expression in his blue eyes, as if saying that I was the only one who believed that.
“Why did you ask such a question?”
“…That’s what everyone says.”
“Who is making that claim?”
Nora didn’t reply. He just turned his eyes to the floor and let out a grumpy sigh. I don’t know the details of what happened, but I could vaguely guess.
The scene I saw at the memorial banquet the other day, the Nurembert family at that time, reminded me that something must have happened between Nora and Duke Nurembert.
Duke Nurembert was strangely kind and friendly to me, but he was the current Empress’s brother and one of the pillars of noble society.
He had a sickly and shy wife and only one child, Nora. In such a situation, it wouldn’ the unreasonable for him to treat his only son strictly. However…..
“No matter what anyone says, I don’t think you’re that kind of person.”
“……How can you be so sure? You don’t even know me.”
I felt like I was hitting a wall. I’m used to this slurred way of speaking, though, thanks to some people.
“You don’t even know much about me, do you? What kind of person do you think I am?”
“A good person.”
Watching the boy rubbing his eyes while murmuring unclear words, I tried to think about his future in more detail.
I’m sure he’ll be ordained a knight sometime next year and compete with Jeremy the following year at the National Foundation Sword Contest.
And…. Yes, if I remember correctly, he must have joined the Empire’s secret police force “Stripe”. I remember there was a lot of talk about why the heir of the Duke of Nurembert entered the rough “Stripe”
“Whoa…… I didn’t mean to do this, but I must look funny.”
It was so sad to see him crying. But I’m glad that he recovered his energy faster than I thought.
“Anyone can do that. I’ve seen you laugh twice myself.”
“It’s a different thing. I mean, my father would certainly shout if he knew I was crying without shame.”
“It’s good when you can cry like that. There will be more times when you really want to cry but you won’t even cry.”