The boyar smiled at Ozren, his only son still left with him, and even this tiny gesture warmed the boy’s heart. After a moment, the corners of his mouth started trembling, and his lips fell down to form his regular, slightly irritated expression.
That was the face that Ozren was used to seeing growing up.
He never saw his father as a friend or someone he could play with. Ivan spoke to his children like equals before they could even talk. Not a single infantile sound came from his mouth. Even when they were little enough to pass under the table, he wouldn’t pat them on the head or kiss their foreheads. No, he shook hands with them and greeted them by their full names.
After the fight with his sons, the boyar retired to his chambers, lit the candle on his desk, and opened a book. The same thing he did each night ever since his wife’s passing. And each morning the servants would find him in the same position - his head planted on the desk and a burned-out candle next to him.
Ivan lost a wife and a lifelong partner. They lost a mother.
The boyar needed his solitude, and the boys needed a bedtime story. But they didn’t know how hard it was for him to be around his sons when each one of them was a breathing copy of their mother. And he didn’t know how hard it was for them to fall asleep without their mother’s bedtime stories.
When she passed away, she took with her whatever love the Bozmaroff family had. Whatever light they had disappeared with her final breath. Ivan became a vile man with no one to hold his demons at bay. He wanted revenge on the people around him because they still had some happiness left in their lives. He closed the orchard. He raised taxes.
Too bad his revenge was inflicted upon the innocent, including his three boys.