Chapter 18. The moment I wished for in my dream

 

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The turbulent Imperial Council meeting came to a close with the consent of the nobles.

 

In the imperial council chamber remained Carius, Liv, and Theodore.

 

Carius came down from his upper seat and gradually walked toward Theodore. He knelt down and met his son’s face for the first time in three years.

 

“Theodore…”

 

Theodore couldn’t look up. He had never seen his father properly before.

 

Carius slowly raised his hand and lightly squeezed the child’s small shoulder.

 

“Are you going to not even make eye contact with this evil father……….”

 

The Prince carefully lifted his eyes at the sound of his father’s moist, cracked voice. From the tip of his chin, the child scanned his father’s face.

 

Carius faced the child’s eyes and tears began to pool as all senses crossed.

 

“You have the same blue eyes as father’s. They are the same blue eyes as mine. Why do I know this now…” 

 

Carius bowed his head, unable to connect the words. The hand that held the child’s shoulder trembled endlessly, and Theodore looked at his father with a desperate look. Does he want to comfort his father, who was waiting only for him?

 

“Oh, father….”

 

These were words that he craved even in his dreams. But it was a word he had never heard in any dream before.

 

Carius barely lifted his head. The tears that had already accumulated were streaming all the way down his cheeks, but he didn’t even have time to pay attention to this.

 

“Can you call me again?”

 

Theodore hesitated for a moment, but soon opened his small lips.

 

“Father…..”

 

Everything in the empire was his, but he could never hear these words. Eventually he couldn’t contain his heart and Carius hugged the child tightly.

 

“Forgive your bad father.”

 

Carius’ tears did not stop. He just caressed his child in his arms. He would not let him go any longer.

 

At the sight of it, Liv only looked at them and fought back tears. With tear-filled eyes, she gazed silently at the high blue sky.

 

***

 

The first family dinner with three people.

 

From grilled fish made from freshly caught fish from the river to whole pork dishes from the mountains. A variety of desserts and fragrant wines were also prepared.

 

A knight, under the command of Carius, split open a whole roasted pig with his brilliant swordplay. A golden statue of a dove came out of it.

 

Theodore’s eyes widened at the sight. When Carius saw it, he smiled and said, 

 

“This is a gift for you, Prince.”

 

It was a dove, a symbol of God’s protection. Theodore took the statue of the dove that the knight gave him and touched it.

 

Liv watched with a smile as she stroked Theodore’s hair.

 

Carrius stared at Liv’s pure and bright smile from the opposite side. He looked at her ecstatically as if he was drunk on something.

 

Liv wiped Theodore’s two small hands with a handkerchief.

 

“Prince, your arms won’t reach, tell the maidservant. What would you like to eat first?”

 

“Yes ………… meat……….”

 

“Come to think of it, meat must have been fasted in the Tower. Try to eat all kinds of meat. Let’s start with this whole roasted pig!”

 

Liv handed Theodore the leg of the roasted pig that the maidservant had given her.

 

Theodore tried to use the knife at first, but perhaps he was very hungry, he ended up picking it up with both hands and started biting into it.

 

It was so cute that Liv couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Then Theodore gently lifted his eyes and looked at her complexion.

 

“It’s all right. The best part about roasting a whole pig is eating it with your hands!”

 

Liv picked up the meat in front of Theodore with her hands so he wouldn’t be embarrassed. The two of them ate with their mouths full of oil.

 

Carius clenched his fists, deliberately trying to hold back his laughter, as it was too cute. But when he still tried to stop laughing, he kept coughing for no reason.

 

Liv stared at him, hearing the sound of the coughing. Then he clamped down on his hastily rising lips.

 

Carius shifted his gaze shyly to the wine glass in front of him. Then he gently raised his eyes again and stared at Liv.

 

In his mind, Carius was reminded of his painful past, from the moment he ascended the throne until now, when he had not felt comfortable in any way.

 

He stared at the two familiar figures.

 

How he had missed those moments. It was the image he had pictured in his mind hundreds, if not thousands of times. The happy sight made Carius swear for the first time.

 

‘I won’t let anyone destroy this happiness. Even at the risk of my life.’

 

Carius smiled as he reminded himself of this in his mind.

 

***

 

Since the Prince Palace had been neglected for so long, it was decided that the Prince would spend some time in the Empress Palace until repairs were completed.

 

When Carius was away for a while due to diplomatic issues, despite his dissuasion, Riv was washing Theodore herself in the bathroom.

 

Wiping the sodden child’s back repeatedly, he soon revealed soft white skin.

 

The moment she did this with Theodore, Liv kept thinking about Edmund, which complicated her feelings.

 

‘If I had Edmund, would we have even bathed together too……….’

 

”Mother…….”

 

The voice calling out to her brought Liv back to herself for a moment, as she was in a daze.

 

“Are you uncomfortable?”

 

“No, um………… Will I be able to study with my friends now…?”

 

Liv’s mouth froze at the child’s timid voice. It was an education any son of a nobleman would have received.

 

Theodore was not allowed to have even such a routine. Liv said in a cheerful voice, trying to hide the sadness she felt.

 

 “Of course. The Prince will enroll in the Imperial Semi-Academy and study!”

 

The Imperial Semi-Academy was a sort of pre-entrance course for children of the noble class, starting at the age of six before they entered the academy at the age of eight. 

 

The Imperial Academy was where many of the Princes and Princesses of the kingdom study. Their connections, in other words, where to solidify their future political positions. 

 

The problem was that if Theodore were to be admitted, the majority of the nobles were bound to rebel. 

 

Bad rumors about Theodore must already spread. Liv, on the other hand, was worried that Theodore might get hurt there again.

 

 “I’m going to study hard, mother!”

 

Theodore shouted with a bright face. He smiled faintly at Liv at his firm determination.

 

“Of course. The Prince will be able to do everything well.”

 

“Really?”

 

 “Of course.”

 

Liv grabbed my chest, which tingled for a moment. 

 

“Ugh!”

 

At first she thought it was just an after-effect. However, her chest had been periodically numbing lately. Liv thought that this kind of pain was part of the process of adjusting to this world. Theodore stood up quickly at the sight of her squeezing her chest.

 

“Mother, does it hurt here?”

 

A small hand reached for her chest.

 

Perhaps because she was soothed by the actions of a child taking care of her, the tingling in her heart gradually calmed down, and it was truly magical.

 

“Thanks to the Prince, my pain has lessened.”

 

Her words brought a bright smile to Theodore’s face. Liv saw Theodore like that and smiled with him. Theodore said in a slurred speech. 

 

“I’ll wipe mother’s back too!”

 

Theodore said and lifted a small handkerchief that was placed beside him. A smile naturally appeared on Liv’s lips when she saw the child speaking so enthusiastically.

 

“Let’s see how good the Prince is, shall we?”

 

Liv laughed and turned around, showing him her back, which was immediately rubbed with one hand as Theodore fidgeted. Liv let out a laugh, tickled by his small hand.

 

At that moment, Jane quietly opened the bathroom door.

 

”Your Majesty, I’m afraid that the Emperor will be angry if he finds out. Please leave it to me to wash His Imperial Highness……..”

 

Liv smiled brightly as she worked up a sweat.

 

“I want to stay like this for the time being, when can I have a chance to be like this with the Prince?”

 

 

“Your Majesty, there are so many eyes watching, I worry…………”

 

There was no mistake in Jane’s words either. It was impossible to shut the mouths of all the maids.

 

“It won’t take long, please bring me my pajamas.”

 

“All right, Your Majesty.”

 

As Jane left, Theodore reached out to Liv with a worried look in his eyes.

 

“Am I going to be in trouble?”

 

“Who would scold our Prince? I think we should stop here for today.”

 

Liv quickly wiped the water off of Theodore’s body with a dry towel. She then put clean pajamas on his smooth body.

 

After the bath, they lay down together on the bed.

 

“I want to play with the Prince more today, but you have to go to bed early.”

 

“Yes …….”

 

Liv kissed Theodore’s forehead softly as she draped a white chiffon blanket over the child.

 

“If you work hard to learn etiquette, I will take you to a peasant festival when I get the chance.”

 

The word “festival” made Theodore’s closed his eyes opened, 

even though he had been tired all day.

 

“It’s a harvest festival next month. You can go out and see it and play with your friends your age.”

 

“A festival…”

 

Before she knew it, Theodore had fallen asleep and his voice had become muffled.

 

Jane, who was next to Liv, closed the window, which she had left open all night in case the Prince caught a cold, and quietly left.

 

Liv gently brushed the hair from the sleeping child. He had dark, shiny hair, large, deep eyes, long and thick eyelashes, a high nose and thin lips.

 

Liv couldn’t help but laugh at his resemblance to Carius. 

 

“Little Carius.”

 

She wondered if Edmund would be such a beautiful angel when he grew up.

 

Liv’s eyes soon became teary when she thought of her baby. But she quickly shook her head and pulled her heart together.

 

 ‘This is just the beginning. I can’t be weak already.’

 

Liv was reminded of today’s imperial meeting as she lightly tapped the child who was sleeping soundly beside her. The revenge that hasn’t ended yet. No, the revenge that has not even begun. The determination in Liv’s eyes was full.

 

‘Empress Dowager is still in grief. In front of your eyes, I will firmly establish this child as the heir to the throne who will lead the Emporium Empire. Watch me now.’

 

She was slowly taking steps towards an unknown destination.