Reviewing the list of attendees for next week’s banquet, Helios signed the document with a neat cursive script at the very end of the page.
He then quietly put down his pen and inwardly noted that he had just wasted more time than he expected on such a simple task.
Due to the many intrusive thoughts that popped into his mind that he normally wouldn’t have thought of.
Suddenly disturbing Helios’ otherwise serene morning, it all began with a one-two-three punch from Aushuvel.
“I‘m asking this from one cousin to another, Heli.
Are you sure you‘re not seeing anyone”
“You’re really not Then what’s your relationship with the person that the twins mentioned last night”
“Heli, can I go see the twins for a second I’m curious about how Sera Popo conducts the twins’ class because of how much you guys talked about her yesterday.”
As Aushuvel asked if he could take a quick look at Rosé and Ferre’s class, Helios readily allowed his cousin to attend.
There should be no reason to reject the suggestion since Aushuvel just wanted to see his cousins’ daily lives.
Of course, it wasn’t as if he didn’t know what Aushuvel was up to.
He outright said that he had read an interesting magazine article on his way here, so it’s obvious that he meant that it’s Sera Popo, the one who’s with his younger siblings.
But the article in the magazine was a lie that contained only a small semblance of the truth, and Miss Popo and Helios truly had nothing between them.
Nevertheless, what Aushuvel said about visiting the twins’ class kept distracting Helios.
He checked the clock several times while going over this one list.
More than that, he went back to the top and started again because he missed many names that he unwittingly glossed over without meaning to.
Helios asked himself why he was worried about nothing, but still, he couldn’t answer himself easily.
As he was sitting on the edge of his seat while feeling this sense of heaviness weighing down on him, he soon rose to his feet.
When he opened the window widely, he saw only one edge of the Star Palace.
‘I think I should stop by.’
The thought suddenly crossed Helios’ mind, and he immediately acted on it.
He reached out for his outer coat that was draped on the backrest of his chair, but right as he was about to put it on, he hesitated.
It was only yesterday that he decided to keep my distance for the time being from Miss Sera Popo—and it was for her sake.
It was obvious that they should be more careful around each other, even if their interactions were nothing more than the usual.
After all, the article in that magazine appeared very recently.
Besides that, since Sera was still unwed and in addition to being a provincial aristocrat whose household did not have much power, Raphael advised that there was no reason to risk it since the only outcome would be her getting negatively affected.
Helios also knew for himself that he should just let Sera leave work early because she didn’t need to report to him personally.
Even if he were to hurry to the Star Palace now, Sera would have already left the palace’s premises.
‘That’s what I said, but…’
Seemingly regretting his decision, Helios sat down again and began to wonder why he was feeling this way.
And the one who plunged and brought back Helios from this sea of uncomfortable thoughts was none other than Aushuvel alone.
“Your Majesty, Prince Aushuvel is requesting your audience.”
“Do let him in.”
Helios welcomed Aushuvel with a smile so blindingly beautiful that his previous ruminations seemed to have gotten overshadowed.
Aushuvel greeted back with a sly grin that told Helios just how much his cousin enjoyed his visit to the Star Palace.
After black tea and refreshments were served in front of the two, Helios was the first to speak.
“How was your visit”
“Their Highnesses were very eager during their waltz lesson for the banquet.
But you know, their tutor is cute, too.”
Though delivered flippantly, Aushuvel threw out that obviously provoking observation at the end while he just sipped his tea casually.
And it was as if his attempt worked because Helios’ eyes narrowed right then.
Apart from that, a slight hint of agitation momentarily flashed across the look in his eyes.
Even so, how regrettable it was that Helios returned to his usual appearance immediately after.
But Aushuvel furtively pressed down on the urge to grin widely at the sight of a flustered Helios for the first time.
“It’s good to hear that Rosé and Ferre are working hard.”
“They’re completely taken by that tutor of theirs.
Do you know how much they scolded me for trying to joke around with her for just a little Your little brother and sister became really scary in just six months, huh”
“You couldn’t even imagine how they were just three months ago.
My younger siblings gave me quite a hard time.”
Helios chuckled and replied lightly, but he also held up his cup of tea as he recalled how the twins cried very often back then.
He didn’t show it, but Aushuvel thought that Helios must have had a harder time than he originally expected.
Observing how Helios’ mood subsided right then as his silver eyebrows went down, Aushuvel regretted not coming to see the three of them earlier.
“So, you made this visit because you’re worried, aren’t you”
Helios drank his black tea as though he was savoring it, then calmly looked straight into Aushuvel’s eyes.
Already caught in the act, Auhuvel sighed briefly.
“You noticed, Heli.
A certain someone asked me to see if you’re doing well.”
“How is Her Majesty doing”
“A lot better.”
Aushuvel smiled despondently.
He didn’t find the need to tell him that his mother still couldn’t ride a train just yet.
Though his mother truly wanted to visit her birthplace, she couldn’t do so even now.
He knew that Helios would just be more worried if he knew this.
“By the way, Heli.
Remember the problem that’s been worrying you last time Has it been solved yet”
Aushuvel carefully watched out for Helios’ reaction.
The moment he realized what Aushuvel was asking, Helios’ expression hardened sharply.
“It’s not certain yet.”
Helios stared quietly at the dark red hue of the black tea.
He stared blankly at the teacup for a long time before he slowly continued speaking—his voice was calm and nearly devoid of any emotion.
“Strictly speaking, it should be settled.”
“Then isn’t that good”
Aushuvel asked a bit worriedly as he was concerned about how Helios’ expression had darkened.