“As expected, Your Majesty, the best way to go about this is to have Duke Cross as your partner for this ball.”
Without answering, Helios tapped the rim of the teacup in his hand.
The refreshing smile he usually had was gone without a trace, replaced by a dark expression.
It was due to his dissatisfaction with the current situation coupled with the pressures of marriage coming in.
Raphael momentarily shed his role as an aide and now spoke as a friend to Helios.
He was clearly worried about the expression that could now be seen on Helios’ countenance—it was an expression that could only be rarely seen before, but it was becoming more and more frequent these days.
“It doesn’t seem like you’re in favor of this way.”
Helios smiled crookedly as he brought the teacup to his lips.
The tea was bitter today, and the biting aftertaste lingered on his tongue.
“I know it’s the best way, but if I were to be honest, I don’t want to do it.”
He answered frankly.
Of course, attending the ball with Duke Saruvia Cross as his formal partner would, to some extent, abate the pressure that he’s been getting from the other aristocrats who wanted him to marry their daughters.
There wouldn’t be any other noble household that could trump over the only ducal household of the empire who had command over the elusive mages.
Besides that, Saruvia was also pushing for a marriage between them, so it would be rather positive for both sides to incite this kind of rumor during the ball.
She was even showing a willingness that went as far as being on the short end of the stick with a considerable loss on her side.
“There are already some nobles suspecting that you’re dating Miss Sera.
There are many people who know about her because she’s taught in many different households, regardless if it’s a marquis’ residence or a count’s residence.
If you show up at the ball with Duke Cross this time, then Miss Sera would be safely out of the picture.”
That certainly would be the case.
The moment he’d attend the ball with Duke Cross, it’s obvious that Sera would be free of all the problems she’s facing right now.
Nevertheless, it was ironic to Helios that the very reason why he’s hesitating to choose Saruvia as his partner to the ball was, in fact, Sera as well.
When he was still just a crown prince back then, he never appeared in any event with a partner by his side.
So, what would people think when the emperor were to escort Duke Cross as her official partner to the imperial ball It was practically a preliminary announcement of their imminent engagement.
‘I’m sure that’s what Miss Popo will think as well.’
Helios was averse to the idea.
“You have to make a decision.
Heli, I know you don’t want to, but… With this opportunity, it’ll also be good if you can quickly decide whether you’ll be marrying the Duke or not.”
“Are you saying that as the emperor’s aide Or as my friend”
“As your aide.”
Raphael shrugged his shoulders as if to say there’s nothing he could do when he’s tied with this position.
“I want to hear what you think as my friend, Raphael.”
Helios asked as he curved his eyes into beautiful arcs, just as he usually did.
“Of course, Heli, it would be great if you’ll marry someone you like.”
Helios tapped the cup in his hand three times with his fingers, then he laughed bitterly as he realized that the answer was already set beforehand.
“Call Duke Cross for a separate meeting.
I’ll be going to the Star Palace now.”
“I have something to talk about with Miss Popo.”
“I understand, Your Majesty.”
* * *
“The Imperial Ball Their Highnesses are going to dance” Sera asked Helios.
Rosé and Ferre, who were sitting on both sides of Sera, also raised their widened eyes as they heard the word ‘ball’.
“Yes, it will be held next week.
It’s a banquet to welcome Prince Aushuvel Vaughn Heal from the Kingdom of Vaughn.”
“Aushuvel Hyung is coming”
As soon as Helios finished speaking, the children stomped their feet in excitement.
The Vaughn Kingdom.
It was a small country at the northern borders of the Adelio Empire.
Compared to the Adelio Empire, it was small in both size and power, but it was close to Adelio as a strong ally.
This was because the current queen of the Vaughn Kingdom was the sister of Helios’ mother.
In other words, the prince of the Vaughn Kingdom was Helios’ cousin.
“Yes, that’s why we’re having a ball.
Rosé and Ferre will be dancing that day, so can I ask you two to practice well”
He asked the twins with a gentle expression.
Rosé soon burst into a peal of delighted laughter because she was excited about the pretty dress she’d be wearing.
On the other hand though, Ferre seemed to be a little nervous as he froze right there.
“So, Miss Popo, may I leave this to you Their practice for the ball.”
“Of course, Your Majesty.”
Sera nodded cheerfully.
She had never attended a ball before, so she actually had yet to have her first official dance, but she knew the steps to both the man’s role and the woman’s role perfectly enough.
She’s already taught this a lot of times before, too.
“Thank you, Miss Popo.
“Yes, Your Majesty”
“I’m going to be busy for a while, so I don’t think I’ll be able to have much free time.
You don’t have to stay behind to give me your reports.
You can also leave work early.”
“Huh Then Oppa isn’t going to meet Sera”
Without even waiting for Sera to answer Helios, Rosé interrupted.
“Your Highness Rosé!”
Sera exclaimed to Rosé in a small voice, overwhelmed with the urge to hold back the child and cover her mouth tightly so she couldn’t speak.
This was because Rosé was catching on to her feelings for Helios, and she felt targeted for some reason.
“I understand, Your Majesty.”
Instead of those urges, Sera instead held Rosé’s hand tightly as she smiled with embarrassment.
At the same time, she felt a little disappointed by the fact that she wouldn’t be able to see his face for a while—even though she knew that this was the right move amidst all the rumors surrounding them.
While Sera and Helios fumbled to hide each other’s feelings and instead smiled at each other, Rosé was in a panic.
‘Oppa… Are you really dating another woman! What do we do, Ferre!’
With a short, ‘Ah,’ Rosé opened her mouth and shook her head.