* * *
“Ah… so that’s why. I’ve never received anything like this before.”
Aushuvel was a little puzzled as he looked back at the twins, who were reading their books a little ways away.
He looked into the box many times, but there were some new things in there that he couldn’t have expected.
He rummaged through the box and took out the gifts one by one.
He never could have imagined it, but this was definitely the twins’ workmanship—there were several drawings of her playing this and that with Aushuvel, and then there was also a vague melon cake drawing as well.
It was the kind of gift that he was receiving for the first time.
‘I’m used to getting jewelry as gifts, or even just verbal regards, but… This is new. Really new.’
They said that it was a very important gift, and indeed—Aushuvel burst into laughter because it was a very cute, important gift.
Among the items here, what caught his eye the most were the letters that the twins wrote for him, crookedly written words and all.
There were some words that had traces of being erased and rewritten, seemingly through Sera Popo’s help.
“You really are a unique tutor, aren’t you? I’ve never encountered a class like yours before. What did you say just now? An arts and crafts class?”
Aushuvel expressed his honest feelings, even adding, ‘I must brag about these letters to Mother the moment I return to the Vaughn Kingdom.’
“I tend to have classes that aren’t common in the Empire. I’m the only one who gives topic-oriented classes.”
Sera spoke so confidently that Aushuvel recalled how bewildered he was by her the first time they met.
“By the way, you said you’ll be departing tomorrow, right, Prince Aushuvel?”
Sera asked Aushuvel, who was organizing the things he had taken out from the box.
“Oh, two weeks went by in a flash. It was regrettable to see the days go by, but it was fun as well. I can’t believe I’m already leaving tomorrow.”
Aushuvel held back a short sign. On the first day he came here, he was just determined to tease his cousin. How did he end up watching a sad first love transpire before his eyes?
He meant to come here and give just a casual goodbye, but it ended up being slightly awkward.
‘You two look good together though… But what a shame because of your status difference.’
He called Sera, who was sitting upright with back straight.
“Yes, Prince Aushuvel?”
She turned her head and faced him.
“I heard that your contract as a tutor is just six months, and it’s about to end.”
“Ah… Did you hear from His Majesty?”
She tried to keep her expression casual, but there was a hint of concern that she couldn’t keep hidden. Because he knew what exactly her troubles were, the ensuing voice was just as heavy.
“…Would you like to come to the Vaughn Kingdom?”
Aushuvel suddenly said something that he didn’t even think about before.
Her eyes went round, and she met his gaze suspiciously, as if to ask what he meant by that. Then, after a second, she tilted her head to the side and opened her eyes wide as though she found the answer.
“Are you scouting me right now? To teach at the Vaughn Kingdom?”
It was a viable guess, but—bzzt!—wrong answer.
“The Vaughn Kingdom welcomes foreigners with open arms. What do you think about immigrating? I’ll vouch for your identity, too.”
Sera could only blink as she was rendered speechless by his proposition. She stared at him for a moment, but then she eventually took a deep breath.
Soon after, a relaxed smile appeared on her face. It was a gentle smile that seemed to say that she could understand everything now, and that she knew what Aushuvel was thinking.
“This part of Your Highness reminds me of His Majesty Helios.”
Aushuvel, however, couldn’t understand what Sera was trying to say. But she spoke up again.
“If His Majesty is the type who’d be more honest about his consideration of other people, Your Highness is equally as considerate, but you tend to pretend that you’re not.”
“Is that so?”
“Well, it’s just what I’ve seen so far. But I still don’t know—why do you keep acting like you’re trying to help me? Just like last time? I’m just saying this because Your Highness already caught me, but am I the only one who has feelings for His Majesty?”
“You certainly aren’t the only one.”
Aushuvel finally understood Sera’s words, and he answered back jokingly. Still, he was sincere when he asked her to come to his kingdom. It’s clear that she was thinking that he’s just trying to comfort her.
“Exactly. That’s why I don’t know why Your Highness is doing this.”
“But this time, I’m not saying that I’ll help you stay next to Heli, Sera Popo.”
He spoke calmly. Really though, he was surprised at himself—for saying things that weren’t like him.
“I’m asking you seriously. Why don’t you come to the Vaughn Kingdom?”
Sera stared at him. The silent gaze remained on him for a long time as she tried to grasp his intentions.
After a while, Sera soon smiled, and her eyes curved beautifully as well.
“This must not be the first time you said that! You’re trying to seduce me like this, right, Prince? Didn’t you say something like this to the young lady you met during the banquet night?”
Her frown soon turned to a playful smile, as if she didn’t doubt that he wasn’t being serious.
Aushuvel stared back at her calmly. And as he gazed upon her smiling face, he readily admitted it to himself.
Unlike him, who was a little curious about her, she held no feelings for him at all.
It’s not like he had any plans to whisk away the woman who his cousin liked, but he was definitely attracted to her. Though, it didn’t seem like she had any intention of entering any casual relationship.
“…I can’t believe I got caught. This can’t be.”
He hesitated for a little while, but he soon replied back with this. There was a smirk on his lips that was as mischievous as usual.
“You surprised me for a moment there. I thought you were sincere.”
“There is some sincerity mixed in there, you know.”
“Your Highness is still teasing me!”
Puffing her cheeks and grumbling a little, Sera cautiously rose from her seat. The children, who had gotten bored with their books, were waiting for her.
Aushuvel also got up from his seat, carrying in his arms the box filled with gifts.
He had a dinner scheduled with the twins later, so really, he came here to the Star Palace purely for the reason of seeing Sera one last time.
“Sera, it’s been fun.”
“Likewise. I’m grateful for everything, Your Highness. You really helped me out during the banquet as well. And thanks to you, Their Highnesses Rosé and Ferre became exemplary dancers.”
Aushuvel smiled quietly.
“I hope you don’t get hurt, Sera. I mean it.”
He then calmly said the words that he wanted to tell Sera. And as expected, she gave him a smile with a calm look in her eyes.
“If you’re ever interested, come visit the Vaughn Kingdom anytime. I’ll take you.”
Sera made another playful grimace, as if to say that he should stop it with the jokes.
Aushuvel nodded in response, then with two fingers, he took out a letter from the box. It was the letter that she wrote for him.
Embarrassed, Sera flailed her arms a little and tried to quickly take the letter from him.
But Aushuvel smiled slyly.
“I should brag to Heli that I got a letter from you.”
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