Life will always go on.
Even for someone as worthless as me.
No matter what mood or state I’m in, whether that’s happy, sad, or depressed, life will take its course, neither stopping nor speeding.
The black hole in my heart is patched up, sure, thanks to Aaron preaching about Goddess Maria a few weeks ago, but the bandage is slowly deteriorating.
I guess no matter what I do, my heart will always be broken with a gaping hole.
And that’s fine.
The dragon never bothered me about my emotional instability after that one time. This proves my theory of how our soul bond only detects fluctuations. So if my heart constantly stays depressed without change, positive or negative, it’ll be fine.
That reminds me, the dragon has discovered the mundane leisure of basking in the warmth of the sunlight in the beautiful courtyard of the sky palace. Honestly, I’m surprised it was able to come out of that purple room without damaging the palace.
It’s time I head back to the dorm, teleport to the sky palace, and then study for the《School of Wits Magic》exam, as it’s coming quite soon.
At least that’s the plan if nothing unusual happens.
「 H-hi sweetie! 」
By the time I return to the dorm, mother is sitting down in the couch lounge, still wearing that classic blue gown and black pillbox hat that define her. Unlike last time, however, she seems to be nervous. Though smiling broadly, unrest emanates from her posture, and the cheerful and needy aura that was once the very thing that makes her … her … is missing.
Judging from the empty cup with no tea left in front of her, she might have waited for me for quite a long time.
「 Hello, mother. 」I say as I ponder the reason for her presence…
「 H-how was class…? If I recall, exams should take place soon. Are you faring well? 」
「 Of course. Did I make you wait, mother? 」
「 No… no… I just got here, 」mother says, shaking her head,「 can I come inside your room? It’s a bit chilly here. 」
Even though there’s a lit fireplace in the lounge? Whatever, I can’t exactly oppose my mother.
「 Sure, let’s go mother. 」I say as I offer my hand to her.
Rather than simply holding my hand, she hugs my arm. Her face snugs closely as she rubs it on my shoulder. Too close. I don’t remember her being like this before.
It’s a miracle how we are able to climb the stairs and reach my room without any difficulties.
「 Oh wow… your room is so tidy sweetie, I never knew there will be a time you made your bed. 」
Dear goddess… she sure needs to rub in changes at every opportunity.
「 Ahh.. 」she closes her mouth, 「 I’m sorry, sweetie. 」
She immediately sits at the edge of the bed, patting the sheets next to her, and stares at me with watery eyes. It’s such an unexpected turn of events that it froze me for a bit. I try to comfort her, by sitting beside her closely.
「 I’m… I’m so sorry for what I did, Renald. 」
「 Wh-what? You don’t have anything to apologize mother. 」
「 You’ve grown up to a full-fledged adult, yet I keep treating and pestering you as if you’re still my little boy. 」
I don’t know what to make of all this…
「 No buts. 」She continues, 「 because of my actions, you feel awkward and uncomfortable with me. I should’ve noticed back then in your past birthday celebration. 」
「 What are you talking about, mother? 」I intervene,「 if it’s because of my urgency to leave my birthday, it was because I have to meet with a professor, remember? 」
「 Then, why are you not replying to my letters, and why didn’t you tell me that you’re going to Reinhardt’s territory during the vacation? 」
How did she know…?
Silence weighs on me, as I don’t know what to say…
「 If there’s one thing that stays consistent about you it’s that you always seem to hide your true feelings. Back when you were still my baby boy, to the adult you right now. 」She says, breaking the silence, letting out a small smile,「 it is first and foremost my fault sweetie, for being insensitive towards you. 」
This is… to mildly put it, quite unexpected. Her apology is so deeply felt and seems serious enough that I feel guilty.
「 I think it’s time you know your mother’s past, Renald. 」She says, her gaze lowers as her eyes darken.
Now that I think about it, I don’t really know much about her. All I know is that she’s a cheerful mother who always compares me to the past Renald Alderhide. A beautiful woman both inside and out. Although she can be very overprotective at times, in the end, she is this way because she actually cares about her son’s entire being.
For the love that I’ve always wanted to be this close — yet unreachable, at the same time.
「 Your mother’s maiden name is Heva Avia, from the great… Baron Br… Braxton Avia… 」
She stops speaking suddenly, her breath shakes and becomes shallow.
「 Mother…? 」I ask, not sure why she’s behaving like this.
「 I’m… I’m sorry sweetie, your mother recalls some dark memories when mentioning his name… My father’s name. 」
That means… My grandfather?
「 I was the only daughter in the small Baron Avia family 」, she continues, her breath still shaking, but better now, 「 and Braxton Avia… he’s a brutish man, obsessed with his role in the military, so he loves and cherishes his sons while ignoring and detesting his daughter… 」
H-how could he! To her?!
「 C-calm down Renald… your face is scary right now… It’s just the past… I’m fine now… 」
Shit… Without realizing it my facial expression must’ve turned for the worse… I mean I can’t help it… To think this angelic mother was treated cruelly…
「 When your mother was in the middle of studying in the academy, he, among a few older brothers, was killed in the great Concordis war. And with the Avia family left to survive alone with its treasury greatly diminished, I was immediately engaged to Falben Alderhide, sending me off to the Alderhide family. Your father… he used to be a better person, he truly loves me, until this day I’m sure… But when you were born, things changed… I’m guessing they are worried since I gave birth to a boy. 」
「 T-then why don’t you discard me, mother…? 」I ask, I mean isn’t it the obvious choice?
「 How could you say that?! 」she shouts, right at my ear, with a wronged undertone, 「 I know how it feels to be unloved and ignored. I won’t let my only son feel the same way as I did in the past! 」
Her loud shout forces me to reply with another silence…
Everything is just… Unexpected…
「 W-which leads me to how… recently I… I accidentally heard the news that your father wants to kick you out from the family for good by the time you graduate… Even though you deserve so much better… 」
With the way I rarely interact with him and how he treats me, giving me all sorts of disadvantages, it is to no surprise that he does so if his intention since the beginning is to get rid of me.
I’ve already known this since ages ago, but it seems she only realized it recently.
「 I’m sorry… Renald.. 」Her watery eyes now swell even more, as a single tear rolls down her cheek, 「 if your mother actually tried hard enough, to earn a decent position in the family… Maybe y-you wouldn’t be in this miserable disadvantageous position. 」
She leans towards me, her arms wide open. I open my arms as I hug her, falling into my mother’s embrace. She continues to sob into my shoulder, wet with her tears.
「 Because of your mother’s… selfishness… and obliviousness… You ended up in such a predicament… 」
Seeing this woman who was once always cheerful, with a generous smile and positive outlook towards life, to be reduced to this pitiful, crying state, something snaps within me.
I don’t want to see her like this. She might have a part in making me the way I am, but that doesn’t mean she deserves to be in this state.
As I wrack my brain trying to find relief for her, amidst the sobs and whining, it reminds me of the one thing I achieved and quite proud of in my miserable past life — making my father proud.
I remember him crying happily as I received my graduate degree in a stadium near Tokyo University. He’s never seen before smile as I was able to support him, and lift him out of poverty.
How he doesn’t longer need to live in a run-down, small apartment, without a working heater or clean water. How I could treat him to eat the large unagi-don my father always secretly craved for, but wasn’t able to afford due to his meager salary.
…Maybe Aaron is right.
I never had a mother, and she might never replace my real deceased mother. But it is my responsibility as Renald Alderhide to ease her — my new mother’s — worries and make her proud that she gave birth to an incredible son.
Even if her love is towards her past son, at the very least I should never give her a reason to cry again.
That’s right, I’m Renald Alderhide. Yoshinobu Ryo was the past. And I’m no longer my past self.
「 Don’t worry… My mother… Your little boy will manage somehow. You’ve done nothing wrong. I forgive you… my mother. 」
I hug her tighter. The warm sensation makes it to my heart.