I watched As read fairy tales with a steady rhythm while focusing on her pronunciation.
It had been two months since I became friends with As, and I visited the palace once a week to play with her.
Until now, whenever I tried to make friends, I did my best to escape, but now I voluntarily went to the palace, which made the nobles very happy.
When I go back today, As will ask me what we did and I’m already annoyed just thinking about it.
Besides, playing with As was not really fun.
All we did was eat snacks, take walks, and read fairy tales.
We only played hide-and-seek once.
“Who set As as a boring prince character?”
It was me.
It was pointless to blame myself.
As closed the fairy tale she was reading and asked me, “Is it boring?”
As pouted at my request to keep reading.
“But you know Tilly can read fairy tales alone.”
“I didn’t know that.”
As I casually lied, As puffed out her cheeks.
She had caught on to the fact that I knew how to read when I had helped her with a difficult part of the fairy tale last time.
But I pretended not to know and urged her to continue reading.
“Cinderella wore glass slippers and danced with the prince.”
As he read again, he puckered his lips at the part where the prince and Cinderella danced.
I noticed that he was choosing his words carefully and shrugged my shoulders as if to say, “If you have something to say, go ahead.”
“I want to dance with Tilly too.”
I started learning to dance recently, and my teacher praised me for doing well.”
“Okay, but I don’t know how to dance.”
“Shall I teach you?”
When I said okay, As’s face lit up.
I didn’t quite understand why she was so happy, but her bright smile was very cute.
Asa went to the maid who was waiting outside the room with the fairy tale book closed and told her that he wanted to dance.
I reopened the fairy tale book that Asa had left behind.
“I didn’t think Cinderella would be in here too.”
It was one of my least favorite fairy tales.
I liked it when I was younger, but as I got older, I realized that there were no fairy tales without cruelty.
“Well, it’s based on an old folktale, so of course it’s a mess from beginning to end.”
I was taken aback when Asa handed me Cinderella, saying that he had studied it in advance today.
I didn’t know there was Cinderella in this world.
Since it wasn’t set in detail what kinds of fairy tales there were in this world, it seemed that way.
“But why did he pick this one? I guess he wanted to dance.”
It was so obvious what he was thinking that it was cute.
It wasn’t my taste, but he was my baby, so it was obvious that he was adorable.
Let me show you who the dance king is.”
Although it didn’t seem like it, he had learned all sorts of dances while idolizing in high school.
Since we had done sword dances with friends, it wouldn’t have been too difficult for him to do a little dance for kids.
“Of course, I couldn’t do it when I was in my late 20s.”
I remembered how I had struggled with lack of exercise in my late twenties when I spent a year running between college and graduate school without taking a break.
I also remember my friends who danced with me and laughed when we danced like that, saying that their knee joints would go out.
“Tilly! Are you ready?”
Without a moment to indulge in my thoughts at the call of As, I had no choice but to get up from my seat.
I took his small hand and went out to the garden, where a large piano and quite a few people were waiting, particularly Charlot was sitting on a mat with snacks spread out, waiting in the shade.
“… Are we going to dance?”
“But what’s all this?”
“Well… I asked the dance teacher to prepare the piano, and Emma wanted to watch us dance.”
To call it a simple observation would be an understatement, as there was even an artist waiting with an easel set up.
When I looked around in bewilderment, Charlot came up to me.
Did I surprise you?”
“No, it’s just…”
“Actually, I bragged to my father that I was going to watch Tilly and As dance, and he complained that it was boring.”
I grimaced at her words.
I couldn’t understand why I was the only one feeling embarrassed, especially when I saw Charlot’s smile, who seemed to be enjoying herself despite being embarrassed.
It was clear that she had even managed to persuade the emperor to come along.
I couldn’t comprehend why embarrassment was always my burden to bear.
Regardless of my reaction, Charlot tried to convince me by any means necessary.
“I’m thinking about capturing the scene of the two of us dancing in a drawing, is that okay? You don’t have to stay in one pose for too long.
It won’t be uncomfortable.”
‘So, that’s why she brought the piano to the garden on purpose.’
I couldn’t decide whether to call it a true expression of affection or just over-the-top.
But since I was the one who set up these extravagant performances, there was nothing I could say.
With my permission, Charlot signaled to the artist and the pianist with a happy face.
As the music started to play slowly, As reached out his hand to me, as if he had already learned the dance steps.
It was then that I realized the meaning behind As’s white suit and the gold ribbon around his neck.
“Miss, look at this.
It’s a new outfit and ribbon.
Do you like them?”
I remembered responding with a lifeless “Yes, yes, it’s very pretty,” as I always did to the nanny’s fawning.
Realizing it was all just a show, I let out a disappointed laugh and started dancing with As.
Following As’s lead, we danced to the music, but I accidentally stepped on his foot.
However, As didn’t show any sign of discomfort and just smiled back at me.
As’ smile was so beautiful, but that doll-like smile made me feel uneasy.
At first, it was an accident, but as I intentionally stepped on her foot a few times, As looked at me with a surprised face and deftly started to avoid my feet.
No matter how many times I stepped on her foot, As wouldn’t say anything to consider me.
That’s just the kind of person As is.
Since Royina was born, the heavy sense of wealth in the dukedom has engulfed me again.
Even though I ran away to the palace using As as an excuse, it was the same everywhere.
I was just a small child in the dukedom or the palace.
“I want to go home.”
Aegis looked at Talia, who was holding a rabbit doll and staring out the window.
Since they danced together in the garden last time, Talia had been teasing Aegis in a strange way.
She would pull his cheeks or take away his snacks, and whenever Aegis smiled at her, she would scrunch up her face in displeasure.
“I can share my snacks with her, and she can pull my cheeks as much as she wants.”
Aegis tried everything to get Talia’s attention, but she only teased him and didn’t seem to be interested in him at all.
Occasionally, she would make an extremely frustrated face and suddenly fall asleep.
“Shall we go for a walk in our garden?”
Aegis quickly spoke up, worried that Talia might fall asleep again.
Talia turned her gaze from outside the window to Aegis.
Whenever he met her pretty violet eyes, his heart would race.
The garden in the imperial palace was far more beautiful and mysterious than the lavender color that bloomed there.
Despite her cool demeanor, Aegis still liked Talia, both in her cute appearance and her cold attitude.
“I don’t feel like walking.”
“I’ll carry you.”
Upon Aiegis’ offer to carry her, Talaea seemed to hesitate for a moment before nodding her head.
Aiegis lifted Talaea onto his back, and her bunny doll dangled beneath her neck.
Feeling a bit pleased, Aiegis moved forward with brisk steps.
As they walked down the hallway, the servants of the palace smiled warmly at them.
“Tilli, hold on tight since we’re going down the stairs.”
Talaea’s arms around his neck tightened, and her soft platinum hair tickled Aiegis’ cheeks.
He enjoyed the sound of her breathing and the weight that wasn’t too heavy on his back.
Aiegis spoke to Talaea, worried that she might fall asleep while he was carrying her.
“You mentioned having a younger sibling, right?”
“Yeah, are you talking about Lona?”
“What kind of person is your sibling?”
“He’s just a baby who can only do flips.”
“Is he cute?”
“What does he look like?”
“He has platinum blonde hair and purple eyes, just like me.”
“He would be cute if he looked like Tilly, right?”
“He looks more like Mom than Dad.”
“I wish he looked like Tilly.”
Talaea reluctantly agreed with Aegis, who was being stubborn for no reason.
“I wanted a younger sibling too.
Maybe Uma Mama and Aba Mama want a pretty girl like Tilly.”
But you said you didn’t want one?”
“I wanted a younger sister too, but now we have Tilly.”
“I’m not your younger sister.”
“You’re younger than me.”
“You’ll be the same age as me in just a little while.”
“I’ll be six soon.”
It seems that Talaea didn’t like Aigis’s rebuttal that left her speechless, so she grabbed Aigis’s shoulders and shook him.
Aigis, who was holding Talaea up, eventually let her go and she fell to the ground and hurt her bottom.
Startled, Aigis lifted her up and brushed off her clothes.
Talaea glared at Aigis with eyes that showed her dissatisfaction and asked,
“Do I look like a little sister to you, that you laugh at me like a fool?”
“Then pick one of your other friends to be your little sister.”
Aigis’s other friends referred to the noble children he meets separately.
Hearing this, Aigis shook his head.
“I meant that you’re half like a little sister, not that I want to make you my little sister.
Tilly is the one I like, not my other friends.
Only Tilly makes me laugh like a fool.
Well, I only laugh like that in front of my friends… that’s what I meant.”
As Aigis spoke in a rare rambling way, Talaea looked at him with a complex expression.
“So, only I’m good enough?”
“Because Tilly is like me.”
“How is she like you?”
“Well, Tilly is…Lemetrio.”
“If it’s because we’re the children of the three noble families that people expect things from us?”
When Talaea explained what was indescribable in words, Aegis nodded with a smile.
As expected, Talaea thought the same as me.
She was looking at the same thing as me.
Aegis thought so and smiled brightly.
“Then why do you meet with other friends?”
“Because we have to.”
“Like going to class and studying hard?”
When Talaea asked again, Aegis nodded his head again, and Talaea let out a deep sigh and shook her head excitedly.
Talaea was making a frustrated expression again.
Thinking that the frustration was because of him, Aegis grabbed Talaea’s arm.
“Do you hate Tilly?”
“…I don’t hate her.”
“It’s because I don’t know how to treat you since I don’t hate you.”
Aegis tilted his head at the incomprehensible words.
Talaea picked up the rabbit doll that had fallen to the ground and said,
“You won’t understand because you’re young.”
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