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    Translated by Yonnee
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    Raphael had been chattering nonstop since then. After hearing about fifteen verses of his admiration for the Emperor, they finally arrived in front of the Emperor’s office. But then, no one was inside.

    The aid only said, “His Majesty must be only a little late. I think you’ll have to wait.” Then, he suddenly left.

    ‘When will he come back?’

    It’s already been more than fifteen minutes since Sera had started to wait for Helios, but she couldn’t hear even the sound of his footsteps approaching.

    The maids came and gave her some tea, thinking that she must be growing bored from waiting. The black tea that they gave her was almost gone now, and the bottom of the cup could already be seen.

    Sera leaned back into her seat somewhat and looked around. It was a good opportunity to take in the Emperor’s office, since she couldn’t do so the last time she came here due to the circumstances.

    This was a rare opportunity to look around without anyone interfering, considering how the Emperor’s personal office was a place that was difficult to even dare enter. Sure enough, the solid wood furniture here all looked expensive and delicately crafted with ornaments. She didn’t notice the first time she came here.

    Amongst all the things here, the frame on the desk was what caught Sera’s attention.

    ‘Is it a family portrait?’

    Depicted in the portrait was a lovely couple who looked young for their ages. The woman had finely styled silver hair and beautiful green eyes, and the man had blond hair and purple eyes. They were each holding a small baby in their arms.

    ‘On the left is Empress Charlotte, and on the right is Emperor Endymion. How many years ago was this?’

    The portrait should be at least six or seven years old since the twins in their arms looked like newborns. The portrait was still glossy, perhaps preserved by magic.

    Sera took a closer look at the babies that the couple were holding. They were still too young, so it was hard to tell which one of them had blond or silver hair. Even so, the color of their eyes were crystal clear.

    ‘Since the baby in the Empress’ arms has purple eyes, that must be Ferre. And the baby in the Emperor’s arms has green eyes, so that’s Rosé.’

    The departed Emperor and Empress couldn’t look happier. The twins, gently wrapped in their baptismal clothes that were decorated with white lace, looked comfortable and soothed.

    Helios, who was likely twenty years old at the time, wasn’t in the portrait. But for some reason, Sera thought that if he was, he would also be smiling benevolently with an expression that would resemble both the previous Emperor and Empress.

    ‘I think it would be nice if he was standing here.’

    Sera touched the empty space in the portrait.

    “You look so happy.”

    Sera whispered in a small voice.

    The previous Emperor and Empress of the Adelio Empire had a family that was truly happy. They were a perfect couple who were admired by the entire empire, even by royal families of other countries.

    Charlotte, who was of impeccable status as she was born as a daughter of a duke, and Endymion, the crown prince at the time. They were truly the perfect match.

    The couple fell in love at first sight at a ball, and they decided right away to marry. No one opposed their union, and they sired Crown Prince Helios in their second year of marriage.

    They were an exemplary Imperial Family, and they were never caught up in any unsavory gossip. To outsiders, they were known as the benevolent Empress and the wise Emperor, but to the people who knew them personally, they knew how much of a romantic the Emperor was, as he was devoted to his one and only Empress. He never entertained the thought of having a concubine. They were a perfect family full of love, along with the baby prince and princess.

    “You must have been sad. Very much.”

    As Sera had already lost her family twice, she knew how difficult it was to have lost someone dear to a person, how heartbreaking it was that this perfect Imperial Family had to be separated.

    The previous Emperor and the Empress had been so healthy.

    The news of their death was so sudden. For a while, rumors even came up about how the train accident that took their lives might not have been a simple traffic accident and was instead induced by magic…

    Their deaths were terrible for everyone.

    Sera’s throat felt prickly. Saying goodbye always hurts. She missed her first family because she still had memories of her first life, and she also missed her second family that she equally loved.

    Sera lost her parents when she was fifteen years old. She could do nothing but shed tears during the first week after their death, and it was difficult for her to eat properly. It wasn’t until a month or two had passed that she could barely live properly once more.

    ‘His Majesty must have had a hard time too… Even now… maybe…’

    His parents, who showered him with unconditional love, left the world abruptly when he was only twenty years old, leaving him with his younger siblings. His shock must have been like nothing else. The responsibilities he had to face, the pressure he was saddled with, and on top of it all, he was the only person his younger siblings could rely on.

    ‘If he wasn’t the Emperor and we were simply friends, I would have been able to comfort him and pat him on the back. I think I know why His Majesty could see no faults in the twin prince and princess, and why he’s particularly weak against them.’

    Even people who had stayed in the Imperial Palace for only a short time would know that Helios was a reliable person who always thought about how to take care of his younger siblings. That’s what Sera saw in him, too.

    The Emperor was trying to fill in the empty spaces that their parents left behind.

    When Sera heard from the maids that Rosé and Ferre would wait for him even until dawn, her heart became so incredibly heavy. She felt the same feeling as she thought about how much Helios loved his siblings.

    ‘His Majesty is such a caring person.’

    Unknowingly, she tenderly touched the faces of Rosé and Ferre on the portrait with her fingertips.

    ‘I should hug you more next time. And so that His Majesty’s burden wouldn’t be too much anymore, I should also think of how I can soothe Their Highnesses Ferre and Rosé.’

    While looking at the portrait with sorrow lacing her gaze, a low voice called out to her from behind her.

    “Miss Popo.”

    It was Emperor Helios.

     


     

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