“Katsuki Bakugo, get over here right now!” Mitsuki called, angered fists resting on her hips as four year old Katsuki came slumping into his room. The young barbarian prince had his arms hanging at his sides and his back slouched forward, a nasty habit he had picked up from some of the older kids within the clan.
“What?” Katsuki pouted, making sure that he pressed his bottom lip out as far as he could, a poor attempt at showcasing rebellion.
“Do you mind explaining this?” Mitsuki asked, nodding over to the pile of clothes left behind by her son that very morning during one of his rushes to get dressed and lord his position over the other children. She was certain that he still didn’t quite understand the meaning behind what his title meant, but that didn’t stop the little tyrant from ensuring that everyone around them knew who and what he was. Young Katsuki Bakugo, Prince of the Barbarian clan of the North. Unchallenged and ruler of all, or at least, that’s how he saw himself; the rest of the clan, not so much, but no one really saw the need to try and correct the prince’s behaviour either, mostly out of fear for who his mother was.
“It’s my stuff, so what?” the barely five-year old tyrant retorted, slumping forward a little bit more. Mitsuki felt her eyebrow twitch as she straightened her posture.
“First off, stand up straight. That’s no way for a prince to stand, and secondly, why is your ‘stuff’ all over the floor and not where it should be?” Mitsuki questioned, expecting a clear cut answer, and apology. She received neither.
“I left it there, so what?” Katsuki challenged, though he did straighten his back, similar to how his mother had done. The attitude still remained though. If the situation was different, she might have applauded his defiance, but when it came to blatantly disobeying, or ignoring his mother, she didn’t take kindly to it.
“So what? You were supposed to put your toys back where you got them when you were done playing. You know the rules, Katsuki.”
“Tch,” the youngster tsked, earning another twitching brow from his mother, “that’s what your there for, isn’t it?”
“You’re my mom. You clean it up,” Katsuki said, and with that, turned on his tiny heel and made to leave his room exactly like he had left it in the first place. A lesser woman might have gone to her husband and demanded something be done about the boy’s attitude, but not her. Oh no. She was Mitsuki Bakugo, Queen of the Barbarians after all. She bowed to no man, king or prince, husband, or son.
Without another word, Mitsuki reached out, grabbed her son by the back of his bright orange cloak that he had barely taken off since receiving it on his fourth birthday, and dragged him back into the room, being careful not to choke him with the fabric. Katsuki on the other hand made his distress clear by yelping in response to her action when he landed on his backside on his bed. She kept herself from making a quip about him needing to be grateful that she didn’t just toss him on the floor instead.
“Hey, what do you think you’re doing, you old hag?!” Katsuki growled, balling his small hands into fists. The action would have been cute if circumstances were different.
“What I’m ‘doing’ is telling you to clean up your room. You can choose to do it now and still have time to go outside and play, or you can stay in here until you decide to clean it and then waste a beautiful day like this,” Mitsuki made clear, emphasising the day’s appearance with a sweep of her hand towards the wooden window that overlooked a field of green grass and grazing livestock.
“Tch, there’s no way I’m doing something like this. You’re the woman, you clean it!” Katsuki demanded, pointing a trembling, toddler-sized index finger towards her. He was a cocky little shrimp when he wanted to be, but he was still young enough that he knew how to show some form of respect towards the woman that carried him around for nine months inside her belly.
When it came to trying to intimidate his family, Katsuki easily trampled over his father, so much so that it was almost a wonder that he hadn’t taken over the throne already. Sometimes she wished her husband knew what the meaning behind a backbone was, but she supposed that was one of the reasons why she liked him so much. His meekness wasn’t always the best when it came to asserting his authority over the rest of the clan, but it did provide its own allure for moments when she, the raging queen, just needed a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen.
Where Katsuki’s father failed to assert his authority over his son, Mitsuki stood in double for the both of them, thus why Katsuki’s tiny ego was struggling to hold up against her. She didn’t raise her hand often, but a light smack to the back of the head was in order at times. Luckily Katsuki was a tough child, so he never held it against her, even if he threw one of his tantrums over it. She shook her head at the attitude he currently displayed, but knew she had to push through if she was going to get her message across.
“Oh? So because I’m a woman, that means I have to bow and scrape to your every whim simply because you were born a little differently to me?”
“Y-Yes! I’m a man, you’re a woman! That means you’re below me!”
“And what basis do you have for that?”
“B-Basis?” Katsuki repeated, his face drawn in confusion. He never liked it when someone used a word he didn’t know the meaning of. All in all the expression itself was one of his cuter attributes. It helped that his competitive nature showed in his willingness to learn new things.
Sighing, she took a seat beside her son on his bed, wrapping an arm around his shoulder and pulling him in close against her chest. He always pretended to hate the action, but never struggled against her too much when she did it with him.
A smile lifted itself upon her lips. It seemed like only yesterday that she held the small bundle that was a new born babe to her breast and watched him gaze at her with wide-eyed wonder. She missed those moments, the pure and simple bliss of knowing that the child she held had nothing less than affection towards her.
That didn’t mean that she missed the constant demand to be fed or the inability said baby possessed with cleaning himself. One thing about his ageing she was grateful for was his willingness to learn to clean himself up with the rest of the men when they went to the cleaning pools. She hadn’t been worried over his first time like most mothers. She knew his independence would serve him well and judging from how he bragged at dinner that night about how he had been complimented on how he was able to keep clean at such a young age, her assumption had been no less than spot on.
“What is your reason for why women are inferior in your mind?” Mitsuki calmly asked, watching her son’s face as it contorted as he struggled to find an answer for his stereotypical statement.
“Well, uh, because… because… you look different!” Katsuki announced, seeming quite pleased with himself, only to have his expression drop when he noticed his mother shaking her head in disbelief over his childish answer. “What?”
“Is that truly your reason, Katsuki?” Mitsuki asked, casting a gentler, sympathetic gaze over her son’s face.
“Uhm… yes. You’re a woman, and a woman is a girl and girls are… gross,” he said, his tiny shoulders shuddering. Of course, she had to keep in mind that he was at that age where females meant another being he wasn’t allowed to like because it would make him appear weak in front of his friends, something he, as the prince, couldn’t afford under any circumstances. She pitied him, she truly did.
“And men are what? Big and strong?”
“Yes!” he grinned, his enthusiasm rejuvenated with the assumption of his mother agreeing with his point.
“And why do you think that is?”
“Because that’s how we were made! Men were made strong and women were made weak!”
“Do you really think that, Katsuki?”
“Do you think I’m weak?”
For the first time ever, Mitsuki watched her son’s face pause in contemplation, something she had never expected to see in all her years as his mother. All she had done was ask him a simple question about his theory, and he had gone as silent as a mouse. She awaited his answer, soon thinking that he didn’t have one before she saw the shake of his blonde hair.
That brought an affectionate smile to her lips, giving her son an affectionate squeeze. “And why is that?”
He looked up at her, his red eyes akin to her own. “Because you’re my mom.”
Mitsuki was never one to cry easily, but within that instant, she felt her eyes tear up like they had the day she first held the small boy in her arms. “Not because I’m the Queen?”
Katsuki shook his head. “You’re my mom. You’ve always been strong.”
“How? I am a woman, you know. I’m not a big, strong man like our clansmen.”
“Nuh-uh! You’re way, way stronger than all of them!”
She chuckled softly, kissing the top of his head. If they were outside their comfortable little hut, he would have fought tooth and nail to try and get away from her, but behind closed doors, Katsuki let his mother show her affection without an inch of some retort or comment about how ‘gross’ it was to show affection in the first place.
“Say Katsuki, if things were reversed, would you say it was fair if women treated men like they were weaker if women were physically stronger than men?”
Once more she watched his face pull into concentration before he shook his head, sending his spikey, blonde hair shaking like quills.
“Why not? If men are allowed to treat women as something that can’t be equal to them, then it would only be fair if the same applied in reverse roles. But you wouldn’t like that, would you?”
He shook his head again.
“Why is that?”
She didn’t really expect an answer, but once again her son amazed her by answering with something she didn’t expect.
“Because… because then I’d feel weak, and… and I don’t want to feel weak. Ever!” Katsuki announced, worry setting in over his eyes. “I don’t want to be treated like I can’t do something just because of what I am!”
“Do you think women like being treated like they aren’t equal to men just because their bodies aren’t naturally as strong as men’s are?”
“No!” Katsuki said, turning his small body to face her more, his fists digging into the furs on his bed as if trying to clutch onto something for comfort, as if the current possible fear would manifest itself in the blink of an eye.
“Then how do you think they should be treated? Should men and women be treated differently or the same?” Mitsuki asked, letting the boy think his answer over by himself.
She waited for him to speak, but the boy remained quiet for a while longer until he eventually hopped off his bed, picked up a wooden carving of a dragon that laid discarded on the floor and placed it on the shelf above his bed after climbing onto it by himself. Mitsuki blinked, then smiled as she watched her son start to clean his room all by himself.
“Do you need help, Katsuki?” Mitsuki asked, moving to pick up another carving, a squirrel that looked like it had just gotten away with some act of mischief. A second later the figure was snatched from her hands and nearly placed beside the beforementioned dragon.
“No. I… I’m a big boy. I can do it myself,” Katsuki said, a smile of his own on his lips as he hopped from the bed once more to pick up the rest of his toys. Mitsuki’s hand curled as she tried to stop herself from helping her independent son.
Pushing herself upright, Mitsuki made to leave the room, but not before she knelt beside her boy and pressed an affectionate kiss to his temple. “Alright. I’ll leave you to it, my big, strong princeling.”
Published by Fang Wolfsbane