Geo looked surprised and opened his eyes wide.


“What?! Mom is not our mom? What do you mean?”

“I’m not your real mom, but somehow I have the same face as your real mom.
Geo, Marley, and Rie’s birth mom’s name was Astia, right? I’m not Astia, my name is Hyerim.”

“……Hyerim?”

“I wasn’t trying to lie on purpose.
When I woke up, I became like this somehow due to some spell.
I kept it a secret until now for fear of hurting you, but I think I should tell you the truth now.”

Geo’s face turned pale.
The child covered his mouth with his hand and bowed his head deep.

On the other hand, the other children did not seem very shocked, as if they did not properly understand the meaning of what I said.
Marley alternated looking at me and Geo, then tucked her hair behind her ear.

“Mother’s name is not Astia but Hyerim?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Mom didn’t tell you honestly all this time.
I’m sorry, I want to apologize.”

“Yes, that was mom’s mistake.”

“I’m sorry…”

Rie blinked her eyes and tilted her head.

“Why? Why can’t you keep the name a secret?”

“Of course not! You’re so stupid, Rie!”

“Why not?”

Marley kindly added an explanation to Rie, who seemed not to understand.

“Mom knows all my names! You know both Malitia the hero of justice and Marley, but mom only told you one! That’s not right.”

“What’s wrong with that? The protagonist is supposed to hide secrets.”

“No! Not!”

Marley jumped up from her seat.
The child pointed her finger at me and Rie, shouting loudly as if excited.

“I’m the protagonist! So the secret is mine!”

“Since mom told you both names now, from now on you can make up one more name and keep it a secret.
Until now mom was the protagonist, and from now on you can be the protagonist.”

“You can be the protagonist.
That’s how it goes in order normally, like the jewel warrior.”

“Oh! That’s a good idea! You’re a genius, right Rie?”

“Hee hee.
That’s why I have to read a lot of books like me.” Rie lifted her head proudly.


Marley sat down and nodded her head.

“Yes, Mom.
Even though you kept your name a secret until now, I’ll forgive you especially.”

“I… yes.” I could not even say thank you nervously or argue no, just kept my head blankly.

Rie patted Marley’s head as if she did well, and Marley put her hand on her waist proudly.

Seti, who had been watching her older brother and sister talk beside her, asked.

“Hyerim? Mommie’s name Hyerim?”

Marley clicked her tongue as if it was boring.

“Here we go again.”

Rie hit Marley’s head with honey nuts and kindly told Seti her name.

“Mom’s name is not Astia but Hyerim.”

“Astia?”

“No, that was the old name, her name now is Hyerim.
Hye, Rim.”

“Ham-rim?”

“Not Harem but Hyerim.
Repeat after me, Hye.”

“Hye.”

“Rim.”

“Rim.”

“Hye-rim.”

“Ham-rim.”

Rie put her hand on her forehead as if she couldn’t take it anymore.

“Alright, say Ha-nim.
Hye-rim or Ha-nim, they’re similar.”

Seti joyfully cheered, having gotten permission from his older sister.

“Yay, Mom Ha-rim!”

“Eh?”

Lucerne chuckled watching Seti waving his hands in the air and wriggling glowingly.

I blushed.

“Ah, don’t laugh!”

“Why? Is there a problem?”


“Of course.
We’re in the middle of a serious conversation.
Please don’t laugh.”

“But it’s funny.”

Lucerne pointed at the children with his chin resting on the back of her hand.
The children, excited, talked about me, Ha-rim.

“Mom, do you sparkle?”

“No, she doesn’t sparkle.
Mom is not Ha-nim or star-nim or moon-nim.”

“Tsk, ignorant Marley.”

“Ya! Why do you always call me ignorant?”

“You’re ignorant, that’s right.
They’re not asking if Mom literally glows, but if Mom looks pretty as if she glows.”

“Is that so?”

Marley crossed her arms and nodded her head as if she had just realized that.

“That’s what it was! Then I should say Mom sparkles too.
Our mom sparkles!”

“Really?”

“Woo, cutie!”

Lucerne clicked his raised eyebrow.

“That’s why you shouldn’t laugh while listening to their conversation.”

“Uh.”

Yes, though the children’s conversations are always funny because they are so random, the problem is that they have no theme…

While sighing deeply, I was awakened by the children’s following story.

“Mom wasn’t that pretty in the past but now she is.”

“That’s true.
Now that I think about it, that’s really how it is.
Back then Mom was scary.
She looked like a monster or goblin.”

“Goblin mom.”

“Yes, yes.
She looked like a goblin, really.”

“She always yelled, hit, cried and vomited.
Back then Mom didn’t like me.
Mom hated me.”

“Yeah! I hated her too.
Mom hated everything.”

“Mom got better after illness.
I hope she doesn’t get sick again.”

“Me too, me too.”

Marley and Rie talked for a while about how scary Astia used to be in the past.

In the past, when the children talked about Astia, I didn’t know what to do, but now it was different.
I came down from the chair and hugged each child.


“It was scary back then, right? From now on, I won’t hate or dislike you like before.
I’m Hyerim, not Astia.
I won’t go back to the past.
Don’t worry.”

“Really?!”

“Woohoo!!”

“Yahoo!”

The children cheered excitedly and then ran to the garden to play.

Unlike his siblings who played magically and happily, Geo did not get up from his seat and kept his head down.

It seemed Geo was the only one who understood exactly what I said.

With nothing to say even with ten mouths, I sat still and waited for Geo to speak first.

After a long time, Geo started trembling.

“Mom…”

Tears that fell plop loudly across the table were vividly visible.

“What happened to our mom?”

Since I entered the book after Astia had disappeared, I couldn’t answer anything.

Lucerne opened his mouth instead.

“You know Astia got sick, right?”

“Yes.
The neighborhood doctor said he couldn’t cure the disease.”

“That’s right, it was a very special illness.”

Lucerne leaned back in his chair and spoke slowly.
His voice was very calm.

“The illness Astia had was a spell called ‘Unable to Part’ meant to kill me originally.”

“To assassinate Your Highness?”

“That’s right.
Astia’s husband Isaac wanted to kill me, so he made that spell.
But for some reason, Isaac hesitated to cast the spell on me and ended up dying instead.
While cleaning up Isaac’s belongings, Astia came across the spell without knowing what it was and inadvertently cast it on herself, getting sick as a result.”

Even though he was talking about an illness he himself may have had, Lucerne remained calm.

“It required a very long treatment but Astia did not receive treatment.
I tried to forcefully treat Astia in my impatience, but ended up making her illness worse.
That was when Astia first smiled at me, thanking me for helping her die sooner.”

Geo nodded sadly.

“I remember.
Mom was… really happy that she’d die sooner.
She laughed abnormally whenever she was in pain.
There was a time she hit me after laying in bed like Grandma did last time.
She said she wouldn’t let me die.”

“How could she…”

In front of children who only see themselves, not only did she say she wanted to die soon but hit the child for saving her life.


I clenched my fists on my knees tightly and trembled.

“When I came to find you with my arms full of red roses, I thought Astia might have died.
I felt her life fading away.
I came with my last gift, desperately hoping she was still alive.”

That’s where I met you.

Lucerne’s face darkened.

“When I came to find you that day, you had already become Hyerim.
You said you had fallen into a deep sleep before you woke up and Astia probably…”

Geo’s face darkened instantly.
The child looked at me and Lucerne sadly and with difficulty said:

“Then… then our mom really died? We’ll never meet her again?”

I didn’t know what to do, but Lucerne answered plainly.

“Yes.”

“Ah…”

Geo finally burst into tears loudly.

“M-mom, mom…”

“Geo…”

Geo cried at the death of his mother who abused him while alive.
Even though she hit and scolded him, Astia was his mom and the child loved her.
His endless affection flowed out with his tears.

It was sad and my heart ached.
I wanted to run over and hug him.

Why can’t I be Geo’s real mom? Why am I a fake mom?

“I’m sorry, Geo…”

“Don’t apologize.”

Lucerne pressed my hesitant shoulder firmly.

“Astia was a flame that would have gone out with or without you.
You only borrowed her body when you came into this world at the same time as her.
Before that, you two were strangers who didn’t even share one breath.
You have nothing to apologize for.”

“But…”

I understand, yet I want to apologize.
I would gladly take the blame for Astia’s death if it would ease the child’s heart.

Geo looked at me with tearful clear green eyes and spoke.

“Mom…”

The fact that I couldn’t tell him his mom’s here like before hurt.

The fact that I’m not Geo’s real mom hurt so much.

I could do nothing but sit motionlessly in my place far away.

Geo cried for a while and left with Caleb to the palace where the children lived, disappearing for a while.

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