“There was no promise… you say.”
Saruvia laughed coldly, muttering back the words that Helios uttered, far from her expectations.
“I thought that there was a different meaning to it because Your Majesty accepted my proposal of being your partner for the banquet just recently.”
With a cooked slant to her lips, Saruvia continued to speak without hiding her feelings.
But with a clear and unwavering gaze, Helios slowly opened his lips to respond.
“Duke Cross. In the first place, I never promised to enter an engagement with you. That’s all we promised between us. You offered to be my partner at the banquet, and that you will be my first waltz.”
He looked apologetic, but at the same time, determined. As if he had no intention to change what he had already said.
“So that’s the end of it. There’s nothing more to say between us, is what you mean.”
Saruvia pointed out the underlying meaning of the words that Helios had spoken quietly.
She pretended to be calm, but as she said those clipped sentences with indescribable displeasure, her red lips trembled slightly.
Helios wouldn’t have noticed that either, but he continued to explain with the same calmness.
“We acted politically for each other’s benefit. We have expectations for each other that may or may not match, but we both agreed to become each other’s banquet partner because we each had something to gain from it. It’s not that you don’t know either, Duke. I have no intention of getting engaged or getting married any time soon.”
When Helios recounted the meaning behind the actions they took that banquet day, he continued to display a kind and calm demeanor. There was an apologetic smile on his lips to accompany his clear rejection.
However, Saruvia only smiled back formally instead of answering. She knew it herself—that she could not protest or make any demands.
Saruvia slowly got up from her seat. Even if she stayed in that same seat any longer than this, she knew that the conclusion of this conversation would still be the same.
She smiled at Helios, who seemed to have no intention of trying to make her stay.
“You’ve changed, Your Majesty. In the past, you wouldn’t have thought of using other people’s feelings like this. You’ve become so cruel.”
Helios did not reply. He looked like he was just waiting for her to leave.
“I shall back down first, Your Majesty.”
Saruvia lowered herself into a curtsy and uttered a brief goodbye. With her wavy red hair cascading behind her, she hurried out the door.
Helios, who was watching, swept a heavy hand over his face. He was slowly acknowledging how difficult it would be for him to delay his marriage anymore.
* * *
After Aushuvel left for the Vaughn Kingdom, the days were peaceful as they usually were.
Facing the children, who were clinging to her while staring up at her with wide eyes, Sera asked.
“The Imperial Villa in the southern region?”
“Yeah! Yeah! Heli told us last night. We’re going to the Imperial Villa in the south!”
Ah, she already knew about it. In response to the children’s excitement, Sera spoke with much more enthusiasm.
“Really? Oh, that makes me so jealous though? I’ve never been to the south before!”
She was speaking a bit exaggeratedly, but the children liked Sera’s big reaction.
Thanks to this, the twins got more excited than they already were, and they both jumped up to try and speak first before the other.
“Sera! Sera! Oppa said that the villa is sooo super shiny and that it’s very very beautiful!”
“Yeah! Hyung also said that the sea is there. And I heard that the sky is like a huge blue window that’s the same color as the sea!”
To emphasize how big it was, Ferre stretched his arms thiiiis wide.
Sera happily smiled because of how cutely he was expressing just how much bigger it was compared to his tiny arms.
“Have you ever seen the sea, Sera? It’s our first time going to a beach.”
“Hyung said he went there a long time ago, and he said that there’s huge stone statues and so so so many things to see. Hyung also said that if we go there, we can see fish and octopus and clams!”
“Heli Oppa told me last night that maybe we can go to the town, too!”
“Uh-huh. Oppa said that when he tucked us to bed last night.”
If it was to tuck them to bed, Sera chuckled a little as she automatically thought of how they must have looked.
She was sure that Their Highnesses must not have wanted to sleep, and His Majesty had to stay by their bedside to tell them a story about all of this.
With their eyes still sparkling, Rosé and Ferre perfectly depicted the mental image she had of what they must have looked like last night as they tried very hard to hear more stories about His Majesty’s travels.
“May I know what time you went to bed last night?”
At Sera’s sudden question, the twins were confused, and so they tilted their heads to the side.
“Uuum, I wonder what time it was. I dunno. Late?”
Ferre scratched his head.
“Two o’clock! Didn’t Sera already teach us how to tell the time?”
Ferre went ‘urk!’ when Rosé raised two fingers and said that. She was very proud of being able to show that she knew a little more than her little brother, so her shoulders went up suddenly.
It was childishly petty, but she still looked so adorable. She was acting her age, too, so her reaction wasn’t out of place.
But still, two in the morning?! Hearing that, Sera couldn’t stop the urge to scold them.
Narrowing her eyes, Sera soon scolded them in a stern voice—though it still held a hint of mischief.
“Your Highnesses won’t grow taller if you go to bed at two o’clock. At this rate, you’re going to be as small as Thumbelina. You won’t ever be as tall as His Majesty Helios.”
As they heard this, Rosé and Ferre gawked back at her in surprise. Their older brother was their idol and the person they aspired to become when they grew up.
“That’s impossible. Sera, are you teasing us again?”
The children grumbled. It wasn’t just once or twice that Sera pulled their legs.
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