Chapter 126 – [Side Story] Ch. 18 I’d Like to Take This Child With Me
When Janet heard the news, she didn’t react in any particular way. It was bound to happen. There was no way that the Emperor would make a lowly servant girl such as herself as queen. The laws of the kingdom did not allow for it. Of course, it wasn’t like Janet didn’t have even an ounce of jealousy towards the new queen. However, there was nothing that she could do about the situation.
She couldn’t become queen anyway, and she had already received much more than she deserved.
The Emperor was worried sick on how to make Janet understand the situation, but when Janet actually said it was fine, he could no longer ignore the blazing rage of the nobles and officially took a queen. Her name was Alisa, the younger sister of Duke Oswin, the man with the greatest authority of power in the nation next to the Emperor himself.
One day, Alisa and Janet ran into each other by coincidence, and it was Alisa who spoke first.
“You said your name was Janet?”
Janet was frankly a little taken aback. She expected the Queen to know of her, but she didn’t think that Alisa would actually go out of her way to have a conversation with her.
She quickly bowed her head before responding. “Yes, Your Majesty the Queen.”
“Let’s act comfortably around each other, Janet. I heard that you are His Majesty’s favorite servant girl.”
Janet remained bowing as sweat dripped down her forehead. At Alisa’s words and kind smile, however, she raised her head. Janet stared at Alisa with a dazed expression, only to remember her place and quickly ducked her head again.
“How could I dare to do that towards the Queen… I am fully aware of my place, Your Majesty,” Janet said obediently.
“I am saying that I will do nothing that would threaten your position, Your Majesty.”
“I didn’t exactly mean it in that way… though I’m glad that such an intelligent person has the favor of His Majesty.” Alisa smiled wide as she spoke to Janet in a warm voice. “In any case, the only ones who are serving His Majesty in the Inner Palace are you and me. I hope we can get along.”
With those words, Alisa continued on her way. Janet, who was now alone, watched the Queen’s retreating figure.
‘I thought that she would strike me against my cheek.’
Technically, the concubine entered the palace earlier than the wife. If Janet was in the Queen’s position, this would certainly cause her anger. Judging from how Alisa acted, however, Janet thought that she was definitely not a bad person and continued on her way as well.
When the Emperor brought Janet to the palace for the first time, he made two promises: The first was that although he couldn’t make her queen, he would certainly give her a better life than her previous one as a servant girl. The second was that he would never betray her.
Since Janet wasn’t that naive about the ways of the world, she believed in the first promise, but remained wary about the second. However, before she knew it, five years had passed since she first entered the palace, and Janet was slowly starting to think that she could try believing in the second promise. The Emperor had faithfully kept both promises during those five years.
“You are pregnant,” a palace doctor announced.
And at last, those five years have borne fruit. She was pregnant with the Emperor’s child.
“How much has it grown?” Janet asked, her heart soaring.
“It’s grown quite a lot. Nearly two months. You probably didn’t menstruate during that time, but it seems you didn’t notice.”
Janet didn’t, as her periods were generally irregular in timing, and she didn’t even have morning sickness. She seemed to have a calm baby. Janet smiled brightly and thanked the Imperial doctor before getting up from her seat to head over to the Central Palace.
‘I can’t believe that I have the Emperor’s child in me.’
Though she was originally a lowly servant girl of the secondary palace, she had the great fortune of catching the Emperor’s eye and was brought to the Imperial palace, where she spent the past five years receiving nothing but undeserved grace and love. She could finally repay him for what he had done for her. Janet couldn’t hide her happy expression as she rushed towards the Central Palace.
“Lady Alice, is His Majesty insi—” she began, but her words ground to a halt when she faced someone she knew. All other thoughts were wiped from her mind and she hurriedly bowed in greeting.
“Greetings to the Moon of the Empire, Her Majesty the Queen,” Janet said.
However, Alisa didn’t say anything. She merely continued to stare at the servant girl.
Janet wondered if something was wrong and was about to straighten up, when she heard a soft voice from above her.
“…You look very happy,” Queen Alisa said.
“Pardon me?” Janet asked.
“I said you look very happy. Did something good happen?”
“Your Majesty, what do you mean by—”
“Don’t be a hypocrite!” Alisa snapped, shocking Janet. Even so, Janet subconsciously wrapped an arm around her belly, worried that her shock would be felt by the baby in her womb. Alisa continued in a furious tone.
“For five years! How did it feel to have His Majesty wrapped around your finger? Of course, it probably felt great. While I, his actual wife, lived while being treated like this!”
For five years, the only times Queen Alisa served the Emperor were on formal occasions, as dictated by the laws of the kingdom. The Emperor never went to her dwelling on his own accord or for any other reason. That didn’t mean that the Emperor was completely cold towards Alisa. She was still the one and only younger sister of the almighty Duke Oswin, and she was still the rightful Mother of the Kingdom. The problem was that while the Emperor respected her, he didn’t love her.
“I apologize, Your Majesty, but I have never once thought such things,” Janet admitted.
“If my presence is bothering you, then I shall leave immediately. I will be going now…”
It would be bad if any emotional conflict negatively affected the baby inside her. Having forgotten her original purpose of coming here, Janet hurriedly left.
“His Majesty the Emperor is here.”
At those words, Janet, who was resting in her dwelling, sprang up. The Emperor wore his usual smile as he walked closer to her.
“Janet,” he said affectionately in greeting.
“Your Majesty, you’re here.”
“I heard you came by the Central Palace earlier? Why didn’t you come inside?”
Janet scrambled to find something to say, being unable to explain what had actually happened. It was then that the Emperor gently rubbed her belly.
“Y-Your Majesty, what are you doing?” Janet stammered at the sudden action.
“I heard you have a child.”
So the news is already… Janet’s face darkened. The Emperor didn’t seem to notice, and he continued to smile.
“Thank you, Janet. For having my first child. I’m so happy,” he said.
“Uh, Your Majesty…” Janet began tentatively. It was then that the Emperor noticed her expression and gave her an odd look.
“Janet? Are you not happy?” he asked.
“No, Your Majesty. That’s not it…” After hesitating, Janet made up her mind and began to speak. “From now on, please don’t visit here so often.”
“Now that I am pregnant, it will be difficult for me to serve you like before. Plus…there are many people watching.”
“…Is this because of the Queen?” the Emperor questioned.
“No. That’s not it—” Janet insisted.
“I tried coaxing it out of you, but it seems that you have no intention of telling me the truth. Do you fear the Queen more than me? Is she harassing you?”
“Your Majesty, I swear that that is not the case.” Janet immediately stopped him there. “I am simply trying to say that it cannot hurt to be more careful. She has been considerably stressed because you have not been visiting her at the Queen’s Palace. There is also her relationship with Duke Oswin to consider…”
“Though this child may be yours, Your Majesty, because I am but a mere concubine, there’s only so much that I can do to protect it. I hope that you can…understand my feelings.”
“Very well. I understand,” the Emperor said, and he pulled Janet into his arms for an embrace. “Since you have my child, you will soon obtain a title of nobility. Once that happens, she will not be able to look down on you, even if she is the Queen.”
Janet said nothing as she leaned into the Emperor’s arms.
Some time later, the news that Janet was pregnant with the Emperor’s child spread across the kingdom, and the Emperor bestowed the title of Baroness to her. Janet, who was now officially known as Baroness Eveard, did her best to avoid the Queen from then on. She believed that it was best for both of them. And that decision turned out to be the right thing to do.
Several months later, Janet gave birth to a baby boy. Though Janet didn’t care what gender her child was, the people around her thought otherwise. The Emperor was overjoyed that his first child was a son that could inherit the throne, and the Queen was furious that Janet gave birth to a son before she could. Though the son that Janet had given birth to was placed in the middle of this conflict, she turned a deaf ear to them and simply focused on raising her son.
The Emperor named her son ‘Lucio,’ which meant ‘light.’ He bestowed the name upon his son in hope he would illuminate the whole world like a light even before he was born.
After that, everyday life continued on. But a problem soon arose.
“Her Majesty the Queen has arrived.”
One beautiful day, the Queen visited Janet. Janet was taken aback, but she willed herself to stay calm and indifferent before ordering the servant girl to let her in. Alisa walked into the room with an expression much colder than the last time Janet saw her. Janet bowed.
“Greetings to the Moon of the Empire, Her Majesty the Queen.”
But Alisa ignored her greeting and instead looked around Janet’s room. At that moment, the only thing that came to Janet’s mind was Lucio. When the Queen finally spotted Lucio asleep in his cradle, Janet gulped.
‘She’s not here to harm him, is she?’
Even the Queen wouldn’t have been able to lay a hand on a child of the Emperor. This fact was the thing that reassured Janet the most, but Alisa was nonetheless the Queen and the younger sister of the kingdom’s most powerful Duke. Hence, Janet could never feel perfectly at ease. Janet licked her dry lips, worried.
It was then that, while looking at Lucio with an unreadable expression, the Queen spoke.
“I’d like to take this child with me.”