Editor note: As of 2020/09/15, the author of this story has posted 95 chapters… I’m… a little behind…
“Well… I mean…”
…um, yeah. I don’t understand. I don’t know what you mean, Queen Ekaterina.
“… What do you mean by that? His Highness is the vessel of a king, so he doesn’t need to study…”
“You can’t learn how to be the king’s heir by studying. Of course, you need to learn the ‘Royal Way.’ But now is not the time for that yet. Your Highness is still a child. You don’t have that much time to be a child. There’s no need to cram a lot of education into that kind of time.”
Then Queen Ekaterina looks at me intently.
“I believe academics force you to study. You can’t master what you’re forced to learn. Studying under the pressure of ‘I have to become a king’ isn’t going to do you any good.”
Um… Well, you know, there’s a saying, ‘If you like it, you’ll be good at it,’ and I guess that’s true, but… But you know what?
“… Queen Ekaterina.”
“Prince Zeke told me he read this book… Do you remember? He spoke to Queen Ekaterina about it.”
“I remember. When he was five years old.”
“I mean… to be able to do this much…”
“Of course, he can do it because His Highness is excellent. There’s no reason why he couldn’t do it. I have absolute faith in his talent.”
“… There are things a normal five-year-old can’t do.”
“Of course, I understand. Prince Zeke is still great. There was never any doubt in my eyes.”
With that, Queen Ekaterina puffs her chest out. Oh…
“…. You need to mention that to him, don’t you think…”
“Is that so?”
“So, that’s why…”
“His Highness didn’t ask for a compliment. I said, ‘of course’ and he said ‘yes.’”
… Prince Zeke. Oh, no, I can’t blame him. I’m sure he would have loved to have received a compliment. Considering his relationship with Queen Ekaterina, it’s hard to spoil him honestly.
“… But if His Highness voluntarily wishes to study, then…”
“That’s true. But he is smart enough.”
“Do you think he’s smart enough not to have to study?”
“Yes. His Highness is smart. He’s smart enough to read that book at five years old. There’s no way I’m going to give him a tutor who’s lacking.”
“… Don’t you have anything you can teach Prince Zeke?”
” That is still good. The tutor and schoolmate will be someone close to His Highness. The royal palace is complicated now. Some want Allen to be the king. Some want His Highness Zeke to be the king. Prince Zeke is still a child. He doesn’t have enough backing to swing those voices.”
“I should be the one to have his back, but… I’m in a delicate position.”
Oh, well, I guess so—you’re in the thick of it, Queen Ekaterina.
“So you don’t have to study now. To be precise, there’s no need to create ‘cronies,’ like tutors and schoolmates. If Prince Zeke weren’t smart, he’d need to study. Overseeing his nurturing and guidance is a royal duty. But he’s a scholar in his own right. Therefore, Prince Zeke can do what he wants, because it’s no different than playing.”
… That makes sense. I think I understand, somehow. I know, but…
“…but… Well… Can I ask you a basic question, Queen Ekaterina?”
“Queen Ekaterina… How am I supposed to ask? Let’s see… Do you love Prince Zeke?”
“How can I not love him? His Highness is my other child.”
“…. I understand that from Prince Zeke’s point of view, I’m the vixen who stole Queen Lilliana’s place after she died. An evil woman who threatens his position as crown prince.”
Sadly, she lowered her eyes.
“… But… I’ve never once felt slighted by your highness. Truly, I love you.”
“… Then, you have to tell Prince Zeke that.”
“That’s right. Because he won’t know unless he’s told!”
“But His Highness is smart.”
“Even though he’s smart, His Highness is only seven years old.”
“It’s a seven-year-old kid, alone and without the protection of his parents, struggling to get by. I mean… I imagine…”
A five-year-old child read that book. He memorized it. It must have been hard work. I mean, there are some challenging words in there. There are parts that even I don’t understand.
“… You know. I reported it to Queen Ekaterina. ‘I’ve read it! I did my best!’ …I reported it.”
“….I… I was hoping for a compliment…I think.”
“… Is… Is that so?”
“… Your Highness?”
“… For the future king to be a weakling. You might think…”
Then, he said, and lowered his eyes.
“–A compliment, I wanted it. ‘Great,’ and…’ ‘You did a great job.’”
He just let go.
Simply and unconditionally.
“… Compliments… I’d like that.”
“…. Am I allowed to praise your highness?”
“… On the contrary, Queen Ekaterina, why can’t you praise His Highness?”
“I’ve never been called ‘Mother’ by him.”
“… Like I said, to His Highness, I am the villainess who stole his precious father. So maybe he doesn’t see me as a mother. That’s why… I don’t think it’s right for me to praise Prince Zeke as a mother would.”
“No, that”s not true! It was Queen Ekaterina who rescued Father from his grief after Mother’s death! I’m grateful! I’ve never thought bad of you!”
Then, Queen Ekaterina stared at His Highness.
“–You never called me ‘mother.’”
“… Your Highness.”
His Highness’s face turned bright red, and his gaze wandered from side to side. Eventually, His Highness turned his gaze to Queen Ekaterina, as if he had made up his mind a bit.
“… I’m sorry, Queen Ekaterina. My… My mother, after all, is Lilliana, who gave birth to me from her belly. I only call her ‘Mother’… Lilliana is the only one I’ve called ‘mother.’”
“So, please… Well, if you’ll forgive me… Um, regarding Queen Ekaterina.”
–With Mother Ekaterina.
“… May I… May I have the honor of calling you…
” Lilliana is my mother. But… Queen Ekaterina is my adopted mother.”
–may I be allowed to adore you, please?
“I don’t know what to do. I’m so, so happy.”
“Then there’s only one thing to do.”
“Your darling child looks so embarrassed, don’t you think? If it were my mother,”
Please hold him and hug him.
“Please wrap him up so that he doesn’t look embarrassed. A seven-year-old, especially a boy, is shy. He wouldn’t want to show his embarrassed face. It’s a shame, isn’t it?”
As I said that and shrugged my shoulders, Queen Ekaterina gave me a small smile and–
“… Huh? Oh, Queen Ekaterina? Now!”
“… I’m in your debt, Alice. Come on… Come here.”
–‘Zeke,’ she said.
“… Oh no.”
With a loving smile on her face, Queen Ekaterina apologizes to Prince Zeke as she embraces him while he cries on her chest. That smile is a flagrant violation. Of course, the king would easily fall for her. I can’t believe ‘Exciting! School of Love’ is seriously like this! How could they put such a charming character as a mob!
“…Well. Best of luck. Congratulations, I guess?”
They wouldn’t want to be seen crying. However, I thought it would be impolite not to say goodbye to the pair of happy people, but reading the atmosphere, I left the room.