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    Translated by Yonnee
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    No matter who looked at her, they’d think she was a mess. Flour had clumped up like rice cakes hanging here and there in her hair, and the nice dress she wore was full of hardened flour and crayon stains. She was like an unfashionable clown covered with many colorful paint splatters.

    “Hahaha. I was so busy today.”

    Embarrassed, Sera ducked her head and rubbed the back of her neck. The day had passed in an instant, and she had no time to wash up.

    It had been a long time since she was in charge of a first grade class where there’s practically no breaks. Back then, she thought it would be fine since she’s used to a busy daily life, but that was just her trying to delude herself.

    She went home only three or four hours at a time, and while she was in charge of the same children for twelve hours, she was enthusiastic at first because the experience was fresh.

    She expected that her work here as a tutor would mean that she’d lose some sleep, but settling into a new job always took some time.

    “I would like to at least give you some clothes, but…”

    The maids looked pitifully at Sera’s exhausted appearance.

    “Their Highnesses poured paint into the laundry basket yesterday.”

    “Paint?”

    “Yes. So I don’t have any clothes to lend you.”

    They let out a sigh in unison. It was a heavy sigh because they all knew the same pain.

    “Should I prepare extra clothes next time?”

    Sera seriously contemplated this.

    She was finally resting after a hard day’s work, and the knights came to escort her towards her last schedule of the day. And their reaction was no different, as with everyone who met her today. As soon as they saw her, their eyes grew as big as saucers.

    “What happened to you?”

    “That’s…”

    Instead of answering, Sera looked at Jean with a bashful smile.

    “Ah, of course, Their Highnesses Rosé and Ferre did this. As expected, it must not have been easy.”

    Like those around him, Jean also gave her a sympathetic look accompanied with a sigh. As though she had been terribly victimized, his brown eyes even contained moisture as he looked at her.

    Jean didn’t know where to start or how to console her, not even knowing where to look, her clothes or hair, which both had become like rags.

    Embarrassed by his gaze, Sera lowered her head. It was definitely not good to have an audience with His Majesty like this.

    “Hahahaha. I’m fine. I’m just a bit embarrassed.”

    Sera muttered with an awkward smile. She tried to hide her flushed cheeks, but it wasn’t enough to cool them off.

    “It would be better if you wear this.”

    Jean took off his coat and held it to her. She expected that he’d do this, so she tried to tell him that he didn’t have to, but he went ahead and placed the coat over her shoulders.

    “All better now.”

    Jean smiled as he looked at Sera wearing his coat. Sera nodded because she also knew that it really was better like this. It was a mismatch to wear a knight’s uniform that had a dignified insignia over her stained clothes, but it was better than nothing.

    “If I bring you there as is, His Majesty will scold me. He asked me several times today that I must treat you well, Miss Popo, so that you wouldn’t run away.”

    Jean chuckled as he spoke to Sera, his tone mixed with gratefulness and abashment.

    “If it’s like that, then I appreciate your help.”

    Sera smiled with gratitude, then she quietly followed Jean as he guided her towards the Central Palace where the Emperor was staying.

    But as soon as she moved forward, another problem presented itself. Whenever she took a step, the flour that was stuck on her head fell off, and so Jean’s coat was ruined in an instant. Sera looked uncomfortable.

    “I’ll wash it first before giving it back to you. I’m sorry it got dirty this fast.”

    Sera carefully examined which parts of the coat were dirtied. The crayon stains had already transferred from her dress to the inside of the coat. With a wrinkle on her forehead, she agonized over how she was going to wash that off.

    “You don’t have to do that. Please don’t worry.”

    “No, but you’ll still have to wear this.”

    Sera’s expression turned gloomy.

    Jean smiled brightly at her, but he soon grew somehow flustered as he watched Sera’s expression change every moment. It was cute how her emotions could be clearly seen on her face.

    However, the moment he thought of this, his grip tightened over his scabbard while telling himself to pull himself together.

    ‘What am I thinking?’

    Fortunately, it didn’t take long until they arrived in front of the Emperor’s office where Helios was. On the way, the guard knights and maids that they passed by all glanced at Sera.

    Apart from the mess her clothes were in, the fact that she was wearing a knight’s uniform drew more attention to her. Anyone could tell that it was Jean’s coat. And step Sera took, white powder would be left in her trail, just like Hansel and Gretel.

    “You may go in.”

    Sera tried to open the door, but she still struggled with the heavy doors over here and couldn’t open it at all. Instead of the woman who was only about half his body weight, Jean opened the door for her.

    “Excuse me, Your Majesty.”

    Sera murmured cautiously as she entered the office.

    Right now, Helios was looking at some documents with a serious expression on his face. Unlike the last time she saw him, the crescent-eyed smile was replaced with an unreadable expression. Even so, he was still beautiful. His long eyelashes drooped down, giving an air of mystery around him.

    Perhaps it was because he was focused on his work, but it didn’t seem like he heard her voice. Framed by tall towers of documents at both sides, he kept his gaze down. It was evident that he had so much work to do.

    “Pardon me, Your Majesty. I’m here to give my report for the day.”

    She spoke a little louder, and this got his attention. Helios raised his head, and his first response was—

    “Pfft!”

     


     

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