Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 33: Wisdom
The Grey Wolves were in an emergency meeting. It was the day after the night when the Emperor had lost control because of Ashiyowa’s words and actions. Ashiyowa had never been in a relationship with a woman before and clearly, he was misunderstanding something.
“His Majesty seems to have decided to marry and remain on the throne.” The royal chamberlain began, in his quiet voice. Everyone around the table let out a moan.
“…Shall we consider this a temporary solution?” The chamberlain assigned to Ashiyowa cleared his throat and directed his question at the secretary.
The secretary remained silent for a while but finally opened his mouth. “During the act, Aniue-sama misunderstood that he would get pregnant and began crying. We can’t be sure if he is truly happy or terrified. If we ignore this and proceed with the ceremony…”
“He may never forgive His Majesty if he finds out…” A lady-in-waiting continued, finishing Inochi’s sentence.
“This is also troubling for His Majesty. How can we help both of them…” The secretary lifted a teacup and took a sip, easing his dry throat.
“Not only did His Majesty delay today’s hearing times, he remained by Aniue-sama’s side until the last minute.”
“Aniue-sama is still asleep.”
Lesheine had made love to Ashiyowa three times. After he was done, he carried an exhausted Ashiyowa to the bathhouse, repeating the same process as before. Ashiyowa only calmed down once they returned to their bedroom. According to reports, Lesheine remained awake through the night, stroking Ashiyowa’s black hair as he whispered sweet nothings into his ear.
The secretary buried his face into his hands. “The issue at hand is that our time with His Majesty is limited; it wouldn’t be strange if something were to happen to him. If there was a child, we would have more people to serve.”
The table buzzed with commotion, people glancing across the room, talking in whispers.
“―If we leave the misunderstanding as it is and let Ashi-sama continue believing, wouldn’t it become the truth if a child was born someday?”
“We can’t guarantee that there will be a child.”
“But we can’t rule out that it is possible…”
Half the room believed it would be better to remain silent. The other half argued that this kind of deception was unacceptable.
“―No matter the circumstances, our intention is not to cause any harm to Aniue-sama. That, we must ensure.” The secretary spoke as he glanced at the people surrounding the table.
From the window, the green leaves of the forest appeared white, reflecting the sunlight. Over the last few days, the trees had been growing at an unusually fast pace.
“Let’s do this: we’ll inform him of how children are conceived, but also mention that nothing is certain, given that his partner is the Emperor. We’ll decide our future actions after consulting both of them.”
“―If we tell him the truth, we may disappoint His Majesty.”
“We shouldn’t be prioritising His Majesty over his brother, nor shall we do the opposite. We must treasure both equally. That being said, there is nothing more joyous than the birth of a royal child.”
Though there had been concubines that gained the Emperor’s sympathy, none showed signs of pregnancy. Now more than ever, they all longed for a child.
“Except, this would be pointless if it means trampling on Aniue-sama’s feelings. We should be protecting the happiness of the royal family, not our own.”
The secretary stood up. “I shall discuss this with Aniue-sama now.”
Of the many people in the room, none dared stop the secretary.
“Aniue-sama, there has never been a child born between two men in the royal family before.”
A sense of relief spread through Ashiyowa. His body, already weak, lost all strength. Outside the window came the sound of buzzing summer insects and the pond’s surface shimmered blindingly under the bright sun.
“However, His Majesty is the most talented of the royal family, even compared to past rulers. It wouldn’t be strange if a miracle were to happen.”
In the back of the secretary’s mind, he recalled the report of a cub appearing between the two lion statues that sat above the roof tiles. Also in the report, the ornamental elephant resting on the bridge’s handrails had begun spitting out golden grains, and a bird resembling the Margotsugeru had been spotted in the gardens.
“Does that mean―”
“If the Emperor wishes for it, even the seemingly impossible can occur.”
Ashiyowa’s complexion visibly changed. In his hands, he gripped the summer futon.
“A-Are you saying we might have a child…”
“We cannot deny that possibility.”
Ashiyowa slid further into the futon, feeling faint.
“B-but, it’s true, isn’t it? That a child can only be born between man and woman.” Ashiyowa lifted his head, grasping for any kind of reassurance.
“Yes, that is correct.”
As the secretary answered, Ashiyowa took in a deep breath and nodded twice, no, thrice, appearing to have finally understood the situation.
“Men don’t have babies. That’s not right. It’s not…” Ashiyowa muttered, staring at the bottom corner of his futon, his hands clasped together in a light grip as he attempted to soothe himself.
“If ― If I get pregnant…”
For a moment, the fear in Ashiyowa’s eyes seemed to have melted away. Deep in thought, words spilled from his mouth and his eyes narrowed into a squint, as if everything that had happened was spread out in front of him. Whatever he imagined remained unknown to the secretary, but Ashiyowa’s face slowly turned pale.
Unable to bear the thoughts that ran through his head, Ashiyowa covered his mouth with his fingers and asked the secretary, waiting nearby, in a muffled voice.
“U-Um… H-how many does he want…” But as soon as he spoke, Ashiyowa’s expression twisted into that of regret.
“Aniue-sama, please get some rest.” The secretary bowed respectfully, staring at Ashiyowa with his gentle eyes.
“…Okay.” As he muttered his reply, Ashiyowa shook his head, trying to dismiss his thoughts, then laid back down onto the futon.
“―How many… How many children?” Ashiyowa asked, his words muddled, but the secretary could somehow guess what he meant.
I can’t very well tell him he wouldn’t even get time to rest.
Seeing how deeply the Emperor’s love ran, this was the only outcome the secretary could imagine if Ashiyowa were to conceive. It couldn’t be helped that Ashiyowa’s face turned blue.
In the past, a royal lady was expected to birth a child at the request of her husband. However, she would have had the knowledge and wisdom of what the process entailed and was able to seek out her relatives for advice. She would then discuss with her partner and come to a reasonable agreement on how many children they wanted, ensuring everything ran smoothly. But…
Unfortunately, Ashiyowa was unfamiliar with how relationships worked and had no relatives to consult. He was only a half-royal, and even if they were both men, the Emperor’s power could be overwhelming. He wanted to believe in the Emperor, in his wisdom, but he probably wouldn’t stop his ‘acts of love’.
After leaving Ashiyowa’s side, the secretary headed for Ryokuryū Palace to make his report to the Emperor. He lowered his head as he spoke, expecting the Emperor to be angry that he had discussed this topic with Ashiyowa. But the Emperor only remained quiet, his face turned sideways as he gazed out the window.
“During the day’s political affairs, I thought it over. I wasn’t thinking properly last night because my brother’s words and actions were so lovely… Well, if the misunderstanding is gone, that’s fine. Aniue must have been relieved.”
“No, he was upset when I mentioned that Your Majesty was not without the power to make a child.”
“―But Aniue said he wanted…” The Emperor tilted his head. He had no way of knowing the full extent of his own abilities, but it wasn’t completely unimaginable.
“Forgive me if I am speaking out of place, Your Highness, but I think you should discuss this with Aniue-sama.”
“I understand. You may leave.” The Grey Wolf bowed and left the room.
―The royal family was wise. He wouldn’t spend any more time worrying about this, he would move forward. Though the royal family could only love those of the same blood, no ordinary clan would be able to sustain a dynasty for over a thousand years; it was only possible because it was them.
Aniue-sama, His Majesty isn’t unreasonable… If only he would listen.
With that, the secretary of Ryokuen bowed to the nobles and officials in the room and left for Ryokuryū.