The children, who had been looking at the garden where the cold wind blew, suddenly got up from their seats and came waddling over to me.
“Mommy, I’m bored!”
I embraced the children who were fidgeting and whining.
“You all seem bored because Geo is not here.”
“It’s boring and no fun! It’s only fun to play with mud when brother is here.”
“He just keeps studying and not smiling, it’s weird.”
“Brother’s mood is bad.”
Seti’s words brought sadness.
“……Is Geo in a bad mood?”
Brother’s mood is bad.
He said he just wants to study by reading books because he’s sad,” said Marley.
My face crumpled up sadly.
Seti quickly hugged my neck tight.
“Not sad! Mom’s mood is not bad!”
The small consolation choked me up.
It was because they still could not properly understand the story due to their young age, but at least the unchanged affection was appreciated.
Rie and Marley took turns hugging me.
“Mom can’t be in a bad mood!”
Lucerne, can’t you do something?”
Suddenly Lucerne, who was invited to the conversation, opened his eyes wide.
A kiss was stamped on his cheek.
It was because Seti gave him a kiss with her mouth wide open.
“Kiddo, you’re not supposed to kiss that way,” said Lucerne.
Marley and Rie showered kisses on my cheeks.
I laughed because it tickled.
I nodded my head while holding my shoulders.
That tickles, kids.
I’ll cheer up.”
“Seti will kiss brother Geo too.
Brother’s mood is bad, so mom’s mood should be good.
When Geo’s mood gets better, Mom’s mood will get better too.
Thank you, Seti.
Seti is the best.”
I pulled the children gathered around me into a tight hug with both arms.
“When you go back, can you hug Geo tight for mama? Like this, tight.”
“Yes yes, I will! Please count on me!”
I don’t want to hug Geo brother.”
Marley, who wriggled her body, nodded reluctantly and quickly ran far away.
Rie crossed her arms like a mother of a mischievous son and sighed.
“Geez, Marley doesn’t study or listen anyway.
Mama has a hard time.”
The enormous comfort made me laugh again.
“Thank you for comforting me.
But it’s okay.
Marley has her own charm in her own way.”
“Really? I don’t know,” said Rie.
Marley, who had run away, tripped over a branch she had thrown on the ground with a crash.
Uh-oh! When a loud scream came, I jumped up reflexively from my seat.
Rie shook her head and pulled my hand.
If I go and go ‘hoo’, it’ll do, so mom sits down and rests.
Mama looks so tired right now.”
Thank you, Rie.”
“Marley! Don’t stand up and sit! Don’t touch the wound with dirty hands!”
Rie ran to her same-age brother with short legs.
She washed Marley’s wound with magic water and called a servant to apply ointment.
Marley’s screams full of reprimands echoed throughout the garden the whole time.
Seti laughed heartily and rolled around on my lap until Marley’s treatment was over and then ran to her sister and brother.
She was bright again as if missing Geo.
I was both relieved and regretful.
I wanted to see Geo quickly return and play with the children.
While fiddling with a teacup for no reason, I suddenly met Lucerne’s eyes.
Lucerne said with a bitter face.
“Waiting is not easy, it seems.”
Not being able to do anything makes me so sad,” I said.
“Powerlessness makes people depressed.”
“I thought I was used to it.”
“There’s no one who gets used to such things, unless they hide it well.”
Sad, but that seems to be the case.
Both Lucerne and I have suffered in various ways, so we fit well together in such conversations.
Although it was not particularly happy, the fact that I was not alone was comforting.
Lucerne saw me sitting quietly without another word, whispered something to Asilis, and called her.
When Asilis returned after disappearing somewhere, a familiar box was in her hand.
It was the box where I kept the stationery I used when writing letters to Lucerne.
“Asilis? Why did you suddenly bring this box?”
“His Highness ordered me to bring it,” she said.
Lucerne nodded lightly and took the box from me, opening the lid.
“If there’s nothing you can do, you can make something instead,” he said.
After putting away the teacup, Lucerne placed the paper and pen in front of me.
“Write a letter.
I don’t know if he’ll be happy to receive it or if you can pass it on, but it can’t hurt to try.”
“Ask how he’s doing and write that you miss him, you love him, and you’re cheering him on.
The things you always think of.”
I stared intently at the paper placed before me.
Though it may seem trivial, it might somehow help me wait for Geo in a calmer manner.
As Lucerne said, I don’t know if Geo will be happy or if I’ll be able to pass it on, but organizing my thoughts and feelings will help, at least.
‘It’s okay, Mom.
Not everyone is good at something from the start.
You’ll get better with practice,’ Geo’s gentle voice seemed to say.
I missed Geo.
I opened the ink bottle and dipped the pen.
While being careful not to let the ink drop from the tip of the feather, I wrote on the paper.
How are you doing?’
After writing the opening of the letter, I looked towards the direction of the palace where Geo was.
But can I hope?
Though it may be greed, I wished for it.
I wished that after a long period of gloom and turmoil, Geo would accept me as his mother and let me truly be the children’s mother without any obstacles or deception.
I wanted to be an existence who could love and comfort the children to my heart’s content.
With a praying heart, I slowly added more letters on the paper.
* * *
The trees became bare, and the wind chilled as winter truly set in.
Geo was still confined to the palace.
Whenever there was time, I wrote letters.
Though they were short because I did not want to write words that could hurt the child, I spent a long time on them.
If I made even one mistake in a sentence, I had to rewrite the whole letter, so it took a lot of time.
In the meantime, my handwriting became quite decent.
Today too, I focused on writing letters until before going to the garden after breakfast.
“You’re writing a letter again, Haneum.”
It’s not Haneum but Hyerim.
I shuddered and trembled.
Uh…… It feels awkward and strange…..
Though it’s been several days since Lucerne started calling me by my name, I still couldn’t get used to it.
So I don’t dislike him calling me by my name…
Every time I shuddered, I didn’t stop him.
It was strange for Lucerne to call me Hyerim.
He didn’t seem angry that Astia had left the world and I borrowed her body.
In the original work, he was so angry that he wanted to destroy the world.
After all, time is a healer.
I was thankful and happy.
I even dreamed of Lucerne’s heart touching mine a little, if we continued like this.
Lucerne, who came beside me, looked at the letter I had written.
“The handwriting is unique.
Is it an ancient script?”
……I thought my handwriting had become decent enough, but it seems it was just my own thought.
I lowered my head dejectedly and hid the letter under the table.
I sensed panic from beside me.
Lucerne’s voice was urgent.
What I meant was…there seems to be power in your letters, like the magical power contained in an ancient script.”
I looked at Lucerne with a naive face.
Although the news that my handwriting was a mess dampened my spirit, the consolation was not bad.
When I tugged the corner of my lips a little, Lucerne seemed embarrassed and cleared his throat.
“Are you going to pass it on today?”
I passed it to the children yesterday.
I want to give the letter to Geo, but please ask Geo if it’s okay for him to receive it.”
“What if the child doesn’t want to receive it?”
“Then I can’t give it to him,” I said frankly.
But I was actually worried.
Will Geo want to receive my letter? Or will he reluctantly accept it even though he doesn’t want it?
I took out the letter hidden under the table and glanced at it.
Are you doing well?’
That was a question I really wanted to ask.
Are you doing well?’
I heard from the children and servants that he’s sleeping, eating well and studying diligently.
But what I was curious about was Geo’s ‘heart’.
Is Geo’s heart well?
Please, I hope so.
After a deep sigh, I neatly folded the four-page letter I had written about the seasons, weather, siblings, and my heart in detail.
I melted wax and applied it to the seams of the letter and sealed it with the stamp Lucerne had made for me.
I put the letter in a basket and stood up from my seat.
It was time to meet the children in the garden as promised.
“It looks like it will snow soon.
If the snow piles up, you won’t be able to play in the garden, right? That’ll be a pity.”
“Why can’t they play?”
“Because it’s cold, right? You can’t get a cold.”
“You’re still worrying about that even after living with me?”
“It’s not just me who comes to the garden.
The children come too, and the servants and knights.
If they stand in the cold for a long time, they’ll catch a cold.
Do you intend to use magic on all those people?”
As Lucerne placed his hand on the doorknob of the receiving room while saying something, bang! The door suddenly opened without warning.
It was the first time that had happened during my stay in Santuris.
I jumped in surprise, and Lucerne frowned fiercely.
Caleb, who opened the door, panted and shouted.
Hyerim! Big trouble!”
“If it’s not a big deal, I wouldn’t forgive you for doing such a thing, even if you’re Caleb.”
Caleb, who was always calm, shouted as if lamenting.
“Geo has disappeared!”
The basket I was holding fell to the floor and rolled.
I ran down the hallway.
A thousand thoughts raced through my mind.
Where could Geo have gone? Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? I had to find him – my son, my little boy – as soon as possible.
My heart ached with worry and fear for Geo’s safety.
Lucerne quickly came after me, his expression grim.
Together we searched every room, every corner of the palace.
But there was no sign of Geo anywhere.
Finally, Lucerne took my hand.
“We will find him,” he said with quiet determination.
I nodded, fighting back tears.
Lucerne was right – we had to keep searching.
My little boy needed me, now more than ever.
I refused to give up hope.
Hand in hand, Lucerne and I stepped back into the hallway to continue our search for Geo.
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