“I apologize for being a terrible boss.”
Helios and Sera’s stride was leisurely during their walk.
He smiled awkwardly, still embarrassed by how he took back his words.
“Terrible boss… It’s not to that extent, sire, and I trust that you’ll reward me for staying for overtime.”
You take tomorrow off and come back for class the day after.
I’ll send word to the Star Palace in advance.”
“Your Majesty won’t give me a pay cut for taking time off, right”
“Of course I won’t.
Instead, is there a reward you have in mind Like a pay raise…”
At the serious answer that came back to her, Sera looked up at him.
Helios met her eyes as he calmly glanced down to the side with a determined expression.
He seemed like he really would reward her just as much as he felt apologetic.
Seeing this, Sera then hurriedly waved her hands.
“I’m only joking, Your Majesty.
Hearing you answer so seriously surprised me.
I’m not such an imposing tutor that I’d ask Your Majesty for compensation.”
“If you’re underpaid, wouldn’t it be best to take this opportunity and ask for a raise If you want, I can raise it to 600 gold…”
“Is it not enough”
“It’s not that, Your Majesty! I’m satisfied enough with my salary.”
Sera waved her hands frantically again, but Helios still had that same serious expression.
Her round blue eyes blinked once in incredulity and then grew wider and wider.
As Helios watched her do this, he eventually smirked.
Only then did Sera realize that Helios was teasing her just as she did with him.
Though her voice was restrained, Sera exclaimed at Helios for being too much, but then she heard him chuckling.
His expression seemed much better now compared to before, and soon, Sera joined him and laughed as well.
Between the quiet, tranquil laughter, Helios thought that her smile was one that never failed to make him feel at ease.
He asked himself if he asked her to take a stroll with him just because he wanted to see her smile.
No matter what kind of tumultuous pressure there was pressing down on him, whenever he saw her smile, he easily felt so much better.
He recalled what he said in the past about how it was alright not to say goodbye to her as she was about to leave, but perhaps it was only because he’d want to spend more time with her again.
As their laughter faded away, Sera and Helios awkwardly turned away from each other.
Then, while trying to look furtively at the other person from over their shoulders, their eyes met again.
Their gazes intertwined, and as they stared into each other’s eyes, it was as if they were waiting who would look away first.
A warm breeze blew by between the two.
The humid summer air carried the scent of the thick foliage and damp grass.
Sera’s long, loose hair fluttered just as her skirt did.
At that, Sera grabbed her skirt with one hand and tried to settle her hair with the other hand as it was blowing across her face.
Sera, who was shorter than Helios, bowed her head and arranged her hair that was as dark as the night sky.
It wasn’t until the wind had buffeted away that Sera gently raised her head again.
With her hair in a slight disarray, the lock she had tried to tuck behind her ear came loose, and her fringe was a little tangled over her forehead.
Helios didn’t know why, but he inadvertently wanted to reach out to touch her hair.
Just like last time, it was an unknown impulse.
“Your Majesty, this is something that I do a lot with Their Highnesses Rosé and Ferre, but…”
As if the sudden gust had given her an idea, Sera tucked a lock of her hair back behind her ear and rummaged through her small handbag.
“It’s something I do when they’re in a bit of a bad mood.
Can I borrow your hand for a moment”
Obediently, Helios reached out his hand just as she asked.
“The other way around, please.
Can you turn it over”
As requested, Helios turned his hand, palm side up.
Sera’s closed fist then came over his own hand.
Sera gradually opened her hand, closer and closer to Helios’.
Helios froze in surprise, thinking for a moment that they were about to hold hands.
But it wasn’t her hand that touched his palm.
Small, square caramel candies fell on his palm.
“This is… caramel”
Slightly flustered, Helios stared at the candy that he didn’t expect to receive.
“Sweet things tend to make people feel better.
This is the best I can offer you, I’m afraid.”
Sera blushed as though she was embarrassed by her own actions, thinking that she might have made a mistake.
Seeing the peach-like pink cheeks beneath the soft moonlight, Helios chuckled.
‘Ah, so it’s just the caramel.
I wouldn’t have expected it.
So this is how she comforts my siblings.’
He could imagine her crouching down to reach the twins’ eye level as they were sobbing, then she would soothe their tears by placing sweet caramel candy on their small hands.
As he imagined this scene naturally, a warm expression spread over Helios’ face.
He stared at the caramel squares in his hand.
The colorful star-pattern on the wrapper somehow seemed just like her.
“Now I understand what Rosé and Ferre feel.”
“How Their Highnesses feel”
“The twins wouldn’t have had a choice but to follow you, Miss Popo.”
A dazzling smile appeared on Helios’ expression.
Sera’s heart practically dropped to the ground after seeing a bright smile that was much too beautiful.
To avoid looking at the thousand-watt brightness directly, Sera dropped her gaze and instead looked at the caramel squares in his hand.
“May I eat one now”
“Yes, Your Majesty.
I gave those to you so you can eat it, after all.”
He took one caramel candy with his other hand and peeled off the wrapper using both hands.
There was nothing funny about it, but he soon let out a lighthearted chuckle.
Seeing that playful glint in his eyes, which she hadn’t seen in a while, Sera was rendered speechless.
Helios leaned closer towards the shocked Sera and showed the caramel that was stuck onto the wrapping.
Sera’s complexion turned pale in an instant.
“I’m sorry, Your Majesty! I didn’t mean to give it to you like that.
Maybe it melted because today’s weather was too hot.
Please don’t eat it.”
Looking down at Helios’ hand with a troubled face, Sera came closer and tried to take the caramel away from him as soon as possible.
But as if it was nothing, Helios smiled.
With the caramel candy still stuck on its wrapper, Helios lifted it up to his lips and bit it off with his teeth.
As he tore the wrapper from the candy in that way, it was strangely provocative.