A/N: This is a remake of the second half of the short story. Nearly a year has passed between these episodes. The process is too fast.
Winter was ending, and it would soon be a year since Nicolette had married and she was pregnant. While the entire palace was jubilant at this auspicious event, Nicolette’s surroundings were not so happy. Her appetite was visibly reduced. It was one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy.
The sweets that she had liked to eat since she got married were no longer served because she said the sweet smell made her feel sick. Instead, she preferred fruits. According to Helma, who had experienced childbirth, changing preferences were common among pregnant women. In particular, they often had a craving for sour food. However, it was peach that Nicolette wanted to eat. However, peaches were summer fruits, so they were not so easily available, even for the emperor, as one would expect.
If she forced herself to eat, she would spit it out. If she didn’t eat, it would affect both the mother and the child. After trying various options, she found that she could manage to eat a simple diet she used to eat when she was in the monastery.
When she was not always flying around energetically and was limp, everyone was worried. Wolfgang was quite the worrier, too, but when he saw that Mariah was so worried about Nicolette that she cried, he thought that the shy Mariah had endeared herself to her a lot.
“Uuuu~. I feel sick~”
Sitting or sleeping was uncomfortable. Nicolette was leaning on Wolfgang because he said it was easiest for her to lean on him. Since she could not even drink fragrant tea, what was served in front of her was pure water.
“I can’t help you with this one.”
Wolfgang sighed as well. He would like to do something about it, but it was not a disease and there was nothing he could do about it.
“Good luck, Your Imperial Highness. We’ll have it down in another couple of weeks at the earliest.”
Nicolette sighed and leaned her weight on Wolfgang. Wolfgang murmured as he propped her up to keep her from falling.
“I think it will be settled in another month or so, at the latest. Because I think this is the worst time of year.”
Helma said comfortingly. Nicolette tried to smile and failed, closing her eyes and pressing her forehead against Wolfgang’s shoulder. Wolfgang gently patted her back. Nicolette exhaled slowly.
“Wouldn’t it be easier to just fall asleep?”
“Maybe so, but I’m not sleepy.”
Even Nicolette couldn’t seem to beat morning sickness, and she refrained from experimenting and reading. She sometimes went for a walk, but the smell of the flowers made her squirm, so she tried to avoid passing by the smelly flowers as much as possible.
“It’s best this way...”
Nicolette said with her forehead pressed against Wolfgang’s shoulder. Wolfgang smiled, put his cheek against her head and closed his eyes, too. He thought that was happiness.
After about two weeks, as Helma said, Nicolette’s morning sickness subsided. Some time later, Nicolette’s abdomen gradually swelled. He could still sort of feel it when he stroked it, but the thought of him and Nicolette’s child there brought a sweet feeling.
By that time, Nicolette was slowly making more and more room. Food tastes did not change much, but at least the amount of food eaten increased. Still, Nicolette, who had always been a small eater, seemed to eat less. Indeed, it might be a bit small considering it was for two people.
She was apparently taking a healthy walk as she no longer gaped at the scent of flowers. On one occasion, he followed her on a stroll through a rose garden in full bloom.
“Yeah.~ I was hoping to do some crossbreeding this year...”
“No. Roses have thorns in them.”
Nicolette chuckled and shrugged. He was glad she was getting better. A person who was heavily pregnant could not be allowed to touch a thorny rose. If she was going to touch them, all the thorns should be removed.
The rose seeds that Nicolette crossed last year were not growing well, producing small, speckled shades of orange and pink. Nicolette saw this and was extraordinarily tempted to conduct a breeding experiment, but she knew better than to do it and just sighed.
“Don’t be so downhearted. There will be plenty of opportunities in the future.”
As she hugged her head and whispered that, Nicolette spoke as if she had changed her mind. She was a girl with a strong mental mind.
Then came the social season, but Nicolette did not attend many soirees. By that time, her belly was getting much bigger, and she could feel that the day of giving birth was getting closer. As the queen, she would sit on a chair from the platform and watch, but she never took part in the dance. Nicolette, who was not a very good dancer, was secretly relieved.
“It’s getting a lot bigger.”
“According to Helma, it’s still going to get bigger.”
Nicolette laughed in return as she patted her growing belly over her negligee. He wondered if Nicolette’s thin body would be able to withstand the growing size, but he had an indescribable feeling that she would be able to take it easily.
In the fall, about a year and a half after Nicolette had married, she gave birth to a baby boy. The entire court, and indeed the entire empire, was excited by this auspicious event. Emperor Wolfgang and Empress Nicolette’s relationship was so well known throughout the empire that many people once gathered in the square in front of the palace to catch a glimpse of the two of them. As he mentioned at this year’s Founders’ Festival, Nicolette was a little freaked out.
Poking her own son’s soft cheek, Nicolette smiled. His hair was silver, perhaps similar to Wolfgang, but his eyes were violet. Since he was still too small, it was hard to say which one of their faces he resembled more, but they all agreed that he was beautiful, no matter which one he resembled. They named him Ferdinand. Nicolette was not sure about the naming, and Wolfgang, who was thrown into the mix, was a bit troubled.
After birth, Nicolette said, “I thought I was going to die~”, but her expression when she said this was carefree. And look at that, he kept a secret that thought, “As expected”. As one could imagine, if he put it into words, she would sulk.
As Nicolette persistently pecked at the child’s cheeks, he finally cried. Nicolette rushed to pick him up. He noticed that the way she soothed him was subtle.
“You’re used to it.”
“Ehehe. I’ve nursed babies before.”
“... Didn’t you grow up in a monastery?”
“That’s right~. But we usually had prostitutes with babies in their arms or something running in.”
Many of them gave birth directly in the monastery. The situation differed from Nicolette’s, who was imprisoned in a convent, so the child was taken in by an orphanage attached to the church.
Ferdinand should have been crying, but before they knew it, he was asleep. Nicolette looked at the sleeping child and smiled.
“I never thought I’d be able to have a baby. I thought I was supposed to live in a monastery for the rest of my life...”
That’s right. Nicolette would likely have ended with her life in a monastery if she had not thrusted into a marriage with Wolfgang. So much so that King Laurier was afraid of Nicolette’s prophecy.
‘This child will destroy her father.’
In the end, it remained unclear whether this prophecy was genuine. The soothsayer who gave the prophecy had apparently already been killed, so there was no way to confirm its authenticity.
But for Wolfgang, the truth or false of the prophecy did not matter. He was rather thankful for the prophecy that he could have his beloved wife.
Wolfgang reached out and hugged Nicolette, enveloping their child.
“I’m glad you married me. I’m happy.”
Nicolette nodded in happiness, and Wolfgang smiled happily as well.
The whole empire rejoiced at the birth of the successor, but the rest of the world did not seem to think so. Of course, there were probably some within the empire that were not amused.
The first wave of reactions to the birth of the successor in other countries came from the Kingdom of Laurier. A few months after Nicolette’s giving birth, war was declared again at the beginning of the year.
In sync with this, neighboring countries also declared war on the country. Most of the Hainzel Empire’s land was covered with snow in the winter, so as one would expect, they would not attack at this time of year, just as the year was beginning, but it would only be a matter of time until the snow melted and they would attack.
“But why at this time of year?Isn’t the theory that they’re supposed to declare war and attack at the same time?”
Nicolette looked at the letter declaring war and tilted her head curiously. Surprised by her targeted statement, Wolfgang said.
“I think they had a goal of getting their people together first. No matter how technologically advanced Laurier is, as a nation it can’t match the Empire in terms of national power.”
“...I’m not sure if this is a good way to gather together. Because at the time of the war four years ago, the surrounding countries, including Laurier, were defeated by the Empire, right?What’s the point of challenging an opponent that defeated them to a rematch?”
“I guess they figured they could win this time. They’ve got a lot of weaponry developing in Laurier.”
“What cause do you have to invade the empire in the first place?”
“It’s a territorial issue. The last war let us cut off a lot of territory.”
Nicolette nodded, as if to say that she understood.
“But I suspect there’s something behind the scenes.”
“Something behind the scenes?”
Nicolette tilted her head at Wolfgang’s words. With some difficulty, Wolfgang spoke up.
“You remember your own prophecy?”
Nicolette nodded as her gaze wandered. How could she forget? She was driven to the convent because of that prophecy. She had never shown any sign of concern, but he guessed she had her own thoughts.
“Related to that. The child you give birth to should have a claim to the throne of Laurier.”
Nicolette blinked a few times, as if she didn’t understand what it meant. Then, as if remembering, she said “Eh.”
“But I was the second princess, a decoration, a princess without any substance, you know?I don’t think a child born to me has that high a claim to the throne.”
“Ah, in fact, it would. Ah, I don’t blame you.”
Seeing Nicolette about to cry, Wolfgang added in a rush.
“King Laurier suspects that I will attack Laurier because of my child’s claim to the throne.”
“...That’s so paranoid...”
Nicolette put it aptly. Wolfgang said so, but he thought Nicolette knew it, too. The basis of this almost absurd complication of King Laurier’s was related to a prophecy he received.
Nicolette, who had received the prophecy, was trying to destroy him through her husband, Wolfgang. King Laurier might have thought so.
He turned his blade against the country that he gave his own daughter as a hostage in marriage. This was the same as saying he didn’t care about his daughter.
“...I knew it, but my father wouldn’t hesitate to draw his bow even if I was there...”
Wolfgang hugged Nicolette’s head as she said, brokenly, but sadly. Then he said.
“It’s alright. You have me. So you stay here for me.”
“Yeah. I’m here. I never thought of that man as a father. Just a gene donor. Yes. After all, I am the one who received the prophecy of my parents’ murder.”
‘This child will destroy her father.’
The prophecy that Nicolette received when she was born. This was now about to become a reality.
It was not Nicolette who actually destroyed King Laurier. It was Wolfgang. However, this situation arose when Nicolette married Wolfgang. Therefore, it was not unnatural to think that Nicolette was trying to destroy King Laurier.
King Laurier would be destroyed by his daughter for taking the prophecy to heart and keeping her away from him. At least Wolfgang was ready to destroy it.
A/N: Thank you for reading this far.
Thus, the process from conception to delivery proceeded super-quickly. Well, all I have to do is write about the prophecy... By the way, the son’s name is Ferdinand. No, I simply couldn’t think of the name.
I will post the next one on January 9. I guess this work is about to be finished.