“And so, Princess Aurora and the mage lived happily ever after.”
Sera read the last sentence of the children’s book.
Only Helios’ warm breath touched the back of her hand instead of his lips, but her left hand trembled faintly, regardless of her will.
It was the same with the pounding of her heart that she couldn’t seem to hide.
‘I’m glad that Their Highnesses Rosé and Ferre are satisfied enough with this.
But His Majesty… I wonder if he really doesn’t know how much this is making my heart flutter.’
After Helios gave a contented look towards his siblings and then glanced back at Sera, this stray thought crossed her mind.
Her heart was wavering.
She felt so embarrassed and flustered, but Helios was sitting by the twins’ side just as usual.
On the other hand, she looked at his unchanging smile with some dismay.
Maybe he had a lot of experience escorting women to balls and banquets, and this kind of physical contact was natural enough for him.
Read it again please.”
Coming down from the bed, Rosé and Ferre went towards Sera and Helios and said this.
But this time, Sera was firm.
Only one short story book had been read for them, but it’s now long past their bedtime and the time she should have clocked out from work.
They all got so immersed in the story.
Checking her watch, Sera shook her head slowly.
“No, it’s time to go to dreamland now.”
Sera and Helios each carried one child and tucked them in bed.
The twins pouted their lips, but perhaps because they were already feeling sleepy, they soon blinked and closed their eyes as they settled deeper under their fluffy blankets.
Helios and Sera sat down on the chairs next to the bed.
He patted his younger siblings on the chest, and soon, the children’s breathing became more and more languid and soon became even.
“Seeera… don’t fight with Heeeli… Oppa…”
“Yeeah… If you fight with Hyung our hearts hu…urt.”
The twins murmured as they rubbed their heavy lids.
Helios tucked in the stuffed rabbit and stuffed monkey one by one in their arms.
The twins slowly fell into a sweet slumber at the familiar scent of their stuffed toys.
Why in the world did they think that they were fighting While sweeping away Rosé’s fringe, Sera whispered softly.
“We aren’t fighting, Your Highness.
So please sleep comfortably.”
After giving both twins a soft pat on the head, Sera slowly rose from her seat.
Helios followed her and also got up.
“It’s very late.
I’ll see you off.”
“It’s alright, Your Majesty.
The carriage is waiting right out front, so I can go alone.
And there are knights guarding the palace, too.”
She couldn’t believe that His Majesty asked if he could see her off.
Smiling as she looked at him, she had to glance up because he was much taller than her.
As she curtsied, she thought to herself, ‘Don’t get so excited by something he just said out of courtesy’.
Then, she took her bag and wore her outer coat.
As she turned to greet him again, she found Helios standing by the door.
He was wearing his outer coat on as well—as if he really was going to escort her.
With her eyes widened, she asked,
“Your Majesty, are you sure that you’ll really see me off”
“If I don’t do this, Ferre and Rosé will get mad at me, you know.”
* * *
Sera walked side by side with Helios, the sound of their footsteps apparent.
Compared to his usual wider stride, he seemed to have slowed down to match her steps so that they’re walking at a similar pace.
Though filled with tension, every time she breathed in, she could smell the scent of grass and the slightly humid summer wind blowing along.
The sound of cicadas could also be heard, breaking the silence between them.
They were so loud that her ears seemed to be ringing.
“Thank you for coming with me all the way here, Your Majesty.”
She glanced back and said this.
Also five steps behind them, Jean was carrying her heavy bag.
Everything in his arms were Sera’s belongings.
Their Highnesses would always say, ‘I wish Sera can come every day.
Can’t you just live in the palace Let’s be neighbors.’ She could understand why the twins would think that way and be disappointed, so they also liked seeing her off.
Even if she wouldn’t say yes, the children would still manage to come with her all the way to the carriage.
But what about Helios Was there any reason why His Majesty would go out of his way and escort her like this She tried to think of a plausible reason.
When it came to carrying her heavy bag, there was always someone there, like a knight or an attendant to do it for her, and it’s not like she was ever alone whenever she’d walk towards the carriage at night.
The imperial palace was the safest place in the empire.
Though he said that it’s because of the twins, she still wondered why His Majesty was seeing her off.
That’s just how sincere His Majesty is when it comes to listening to his siblings.
Maybe they’re crying about me while I’m not here’
Just in case, Sera thought of this as a realistic answer.
Any kind of misunderstanding was something she’s forbidden to have.
“It’s for the sake of Their Highnesses, but thank you very much for escorting me all the way here, sire… I’ll explain to them that Your Majesty is a very busy man, so they shouldn’t ask you to do this again.”
“No, it’s not that.
I actually just want to do this.
I only wish to be with you a little longer, Miss Popo.”