by SJ Longtaile
The Crown Prince of Brydain mourns the loss of the person his mother used to be.
Edward froze, hand stilling on his mother’s shoulder, eyes wide in shock. Then, he sighed, a mournful expression washing over his face, pained as he resigned himself to speak. “I will go to bed if you do, mother,” he whispered, pitching his voice slightly higher, “Father is waiting for you.”
Titania hummed, nearly asleep again where she sat, “Where is your father, Adam?”
“Upstairs, mother, in bed,” Edward replied, still imitating a voice not his own.
The great queen sighed sleepily, “Alright, love, I’m coming, but you really must go to bed this time.”
“I will, but you first, mother,” Edward insisted, tugging gently on her hand until he managed to coax her to stand.
“Yes, yes, I’m coming,” she murmured, following his guidance, still in a sleep-like state despite being upright and walking.
Edward led her through the dark and hollow halls, past portraits of important nobles and ancestors, suits of armor standing silent sentries. Up high in the west tower, the queen’s personal quarters, though it hadn’t always been, Edward recalled. His parents had once shared chambers on the main floor with roaring hearths and great bookcases laden with ancient tomes, his father had been partial to studying the tales of old. All that was gone now, ever since that fateful day all those years ago, when the warmth had left not only the castle and the royal family, the land itself too it seemed.
These days the queen preferred the repurposed rooms of the lonely and cold west tower, which was higher than even the church’s belfry. She spent her free time staring out the window at nothing, sometimes talking to herself in an old language that she refused him to learn. His mother had once been a gentle and benevolent woman, lenient and generous, as of late though he hardly recognized her as his mother at all. Edward sometimes couldn’t help but wonder if his mother had been possessed by one of the demons the priests taught children to fear.
“Here, mother, lay down and rest, you’ve had a long day,” Edward helped tuck the insensate woman in her spacious bed that was meant for two.
She hummed, “Have I?”
“Yes, now sleep. Tomorrow let's take a day for ourselves, would you like that?” Edward couldn’t stop the hitch in his voice as he spoke the words, eyes watering.
“Sounds nice, Adam. Now go to bed, love, your father won’t be pleased if you are too tired for training in the morning,” Titania mumbled, turning over and drifting completely back into sleep.
Edward sighed, the ache in his heart an old friend, “Goodnight, mother,” he bends down and places a kiss on her head. She won’t remember any of this in the morning, she will once again be the Queen of Brydain. As much as nights like these pain him, Edward cherishes them because they are the only times he can believe his mother truly cares for him, even if she doesn’t know he is not Adam or his father.