Lucerne seemed tired and slept in later than usual.
Instead of going to the dining hall, we asked for breakfast to be brought to the reception room, where we had a simple meal together.
Despite the sun reaching its zenith, Lucerne didn’t go to attend to his usual duties and stayed in the reception room, sipping tea with me after the meal.

As nice as it was, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was alright.
Whenever one left their workspace and returned, the workload would pile up like a snowball, and I knew that well from years of part-time jobs.

“Clank,” I placed the teacup carefully on the saucer and called out to Lucerne cautiously.
“Lucerne, do you not have to work today?”

“Yeah, I’ve been feeling exhausted due to accumulated stress,” Lucerne replied.

“I see.” His words seemed genuine, but there was something hesitant in Lucerne’s demeanor.
He looked slightly slimmer, and his sharp jawline appeared more defined.

“If you’re tired, you should rest more.
There’s no Collis in the castle now, so it’s safe,” I suggested.

“What about you? What are your plans for today?” Lucerne asked.

“I promised to meet the children in the garden later,” I said.

“Alright, I’ll go with you,” he replied.

“But you said you were tired.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

It worried me.
How could I not worry? Seeing him in such a state, how could I pretend not to be concerned? However, even without Collis around, it seemed that Lucerne’s worries were still about Astia.
The fact that he wanted to be by my side was both comforting and bittersweet.

Lucerne leaned back in his chair like a relaxed lion, closing his eyes.
The soft sunlight streaming through the reception room window enveloped him warmly, and his surroundings seemed to shimmer with his presence.

As I gazed at this picturesque man, my eyes wandered to the books piled on one side of the room.
I realized that I hadn’t properly thanked him for the gift.

“Lucerne, it’s a bit late, but thank you for the gift,” I said.

“Gift?” He opened his eyes and looked at me.

Nodding, I pulled up the corner of my lips.
“The books and the note.
Thanks to them, I didn’t feel lonely while you were away.”

“Well, I’m glad,” he replied.

“But, um,” I hesitated, narrowing my eyes slightly as I looked at Lucerne.

Could I ask him? Could I ask why he wrote my name in the note instead of Astia’s? Could I tell him that because of that note, I began to harbor a faint hope that he didn’t reject my existence? Was it okay to say such things?

I was curious, and I wanted to ask, but my lips wouldn’t cooperate.
I was afraid that Lucerne would firmly deny me, just as he had before, and I didn’t want him to reject my feelings and my heart.

In the end, I decided to keep my emotions hidden and only ask about the facts.

“You left a note between the pages of the books,” I said softly.

“I did,” he replied.

“Why did you write Hyerim’s name on it?” I inquired.

Lucerne’s normally soft eyes sparkled with a hint of surprise.
He seemed taken aback by my question.
Was it because it was a note I shouldn’t have seen?

“You saw it?” he asked.

“Well, yes.
You intentionally left it there for me to see, right at the front of the book,” I explained.

“Hmm…” Lucerne paused, his lips wavering slightly.

What was it about?

Unfortunately, just as the conversation was getting interesting, someone knocked on the half-opened door of the reception room.
Lucerne’s lips, which were partly open, snapped shut like a clamshell.

“Who is it?” Lucerne asked.

“It’s Caleb,” the voice outside replied.

“What’s the matter?” Lucerne asked again.

“A guest has come to see you.”

“Guest? Someone dares to come looking for me in Santuris?” Lucerne scoffed.

“Not your Majesty, but someone looking for Lady Astia.”


Both Lucerne and I were taken aback.
Of course, I had no affiliation with the palace and had no reason for anyone to come looking for me.

Lucerne narrowed his eyes and growled softly.
“Who’s looking for Astia?”

“It’s Lady Mirana’s messenger.”

“Mother’s messenger?”

Lady Mirana sent an apology letter,” Calib explained.

“What did she send?” Lucerne’s gaze turned to me, seemingly questioning the meaning behind it.

Caught off guard, I blinked and recalled the last time I met Mirana.
She had come to the garden to thank Geo and had a brief encounter with me.
Despite her arrogant demeanor, it was a completely different experience compared to when we first met.

Did she want to apologize to me now?

As Lucerne looked at me for an answer, I couldn’t help but feel curious about the content of the letter.
However, I replied cautiously, “I’m not sure.
Lady Mirana probably sent an apology for her previous behavior.”

Lucerne’s expression softened and he seemed to understand my cautious response.
After all, Mirana’s previous actions had caused discomfort between us.

“It seems that she wants to apologize,” I added, confirming my thoughts.

Lucerne sighed and looked deep in thought.
“Well, if she wishes to apologize, I suppose we should meet with her.”

Caleb nodded.
“I’ll inform Lady Mirana that you’ll be willing to meet.”

As Calib left the room, Lucerne turned his attention back to me.
“What do you think about meeting with her?”

“It’s up to you, Lucerne.
If you’re willing to hear her out and she genuinely wants to apologize, then I think it’s worth giving her a chance,” I replied.

He nodded, seemingly considering my words.
“I suppose you’re right.
It won’t hurt to listen to what she has to say.”

With that decision made, we waited for Lady Mirana’s messenger to return with further details about the meeting.
My heart raced with both curiosity and apprehension about what this encounter might bring.

Mirana sending a letter instead of meeting me in person seemed fitting.
I might not understand the arrogance of nobility, but from her perspective, it was probably a significant gesture.

“She acted differently in the garden last time.
She didn’t insult me or the children and even thanked Geo.
It seems like she wants to apologize to me this time,” I explained.

“Apologize? I find it hard to believe,” Lucerne replied, his voice skeptical.

Lucerne then raised his voice, instructing Caleb to let the messenger in.
Calib opened the door wide, and knights guarded the entrance.
The servant who had been standing with his head lowered walked in with hesitant steps.

It was evident from his attire that he was Mirana’s messenger, although I didn’t recognize him immediately.

With a polite gesture, the messenger handed the letter on a silver tray.
“This is a letter from Lady Mirana.”

Lucerne exchanged glances with me before carefully picking up the letter.
He broke the seal and unfolded the folded paper, reading its contents.

“Someone dares to drive me away?” Lucerne exclaimed, surprised.

I was equally taken aback by the audacity of such a statement.
The only person recently driven away from the palace was Collis.
Though to be precise, it wasn’t me who expelled her.

Lucerne’s face hardened, and he drew a blue sword from thin air, aiming it at the messenger.
The blade passed through the messenger’s body like a gust of cool breeze, but surprisingly, he didn’t show fear.
Instead, he smiled lightly at Lucerne, seemingly unperturbed by the threatening gesture.

“I’ve delivered the letter, so I shall take my leave,” the messenger said calmly.

In an instant, the messenger turned into dust, scattering throughout the room.
Lucerne’s sword swept through the particles in the air.

“Damn it,” Lucerne cursed, and Calib quickly ushered the knights out of the room, closing the door with a loud thud.

I stared at the letter still in my hand, and Lucerne took it from me.
After reading it, he crushed the paper and scattered the remains into the air.

“Astia, are you okay?” Lucerne asked with concern.

“I can’t believe this even happened after being driven away from the palace,” I replied.

“It’s usually impossible.
Even for nobles, using magic from such a distance isn’t easy.
It must be a sign of… anger,” Lucerne said.

“That seems to be the case.”

While Lucerne appeared flustered and angry, I remained calm.
Maybe I had anticipated something like this happening, considering how reluctant Collis was to leave the palace.

Lucerne fell silent, lost in thought for a while before he sighed and spoke again.
“What exactly does she intends to do?”

It almost felt like he was discussing someone else’s situation, and I simply replied, “Well, it seems like she’s just venting frustration by talking about me.”

It appeared that this unexpected situation had both of us contemplating what might happen next.

“It seems like we have no choice but to use that method,” Lucerne said.

“What method?” I asked, curious about his serious expression, unable to reject whatever he was proposing.

* * *

“Chocolate,” I corrected.

“Cho-co-late?” Lucerne repeated, trying to follow my lead.

“No, no.
Chocolate, not tokkole..’ Say it with me, ‘cho-co-lit,'” I insisted.

“Cho-co-lit,” Lucerne repeated after me.

“That’s it! Now put it together, ‘cho-co-lit,'” I urged.

“Cho-cho-lit,” he said.

“No, no, no! It’s ‘cho-co-lit.’ Try again,” I corrected with a smile.

“Cho-co-lit,” he finally got it right.

After some playful banter, the rainy weather cleared up, leaving a clear sky.

Lucerne decided to temporarily halt all his duties and stayed by my side without leaving for even a moment.
It was his “method” to be with me.

I wondered about his plans and how long he intended to stay like this, but I didn’t ask.
I simply embraced the fact that Lucerne chose to be with me, and that brought joy to my heart.

Today, it was a rare snack time with Lucerne, and all the children gathered around the table eagerly.
The snacks were beautifully arranged on the table, with flowers and decorations making it a delightful sight.

After finishing all the chocolates on their plates, Seti shifted his attention to a plate of fruits.
With a serious expression, he looked at the plate.

“Oh-in-ji! Bley!” Sati called out.

“No, no, it’s not ‘Oh-in-ji’ and ‘Bley.’ It’s ‘orange’ and ‘blueberry,'” Marley corrected.

“Oh-in-ji, Bley,” Seti repeated.

Marley tried to help Seti with the correct pronunciation, but he seemed frustrated.
Nevertheless, Seti continued to mimic Marley’s instructions.

“It’s not ‘Oh-in-ji’; it’s ‘or, say ‘or,'” Marlee persisted.









“Oh no! I won’t say that!”


“Don’t laugh!”

Even knowing that he disliked it, she couldn’t help but laugh.
Watching her tug at her hair while teaching Seti was oddly entertaining.

In the end, Marley gave up trying to teach him and instead started eating the oranges and blueberries herself.

“I’m going to eat them all! I’m going to eat everything here!” she exclaimed.

“No way! Give some to me! Eung! My turn! Blueberry, my turn!” Seti replied.

Satisfied with his snack, Seti suddenly got up from his seat.

“Bley, give it!”

“You want blueberries?” Marley asked.

“To give mom and uncle!” Seti replied excitedly.

“Mom and uncle?” Marley clarified.

Seti grabbed two blueberries with his tiny fingers from the plate and rushed towards the knights and servants standing nearby.

As she watched Seti distribute the blueberries, I couldn’t help but find it amusing and heartwarming.
The scene filled her heart with joy and happiness.

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