26.
The period of clarity

Wake up the students who are engrossed in the story, break Miss Ulysses’ heart, and get her to confess to Lars’ involvement.
The setting for all of this is the coming-of-age ceremony at the Royal Academies–this was the plan we made after discussing.

After parting ways with Lord Domenic and Raphael, I, accompanied by Harold went to my father’s office to report the situation and tell him that I wanted to use the coming-of-age ceremony as a trap.

Father laughed amusedly and readily agreed.

“Good.
When you have so many young people gathered together, you need to let off steam once in a while.”

“Thank you.”

“But, you know, won’t Elizabeth be hurt?”, said Father, making a face of deliberate concern.

He knew the answer to my question.
I shook my head inwardly, annoyed.

“Elizabeth won’t be hurt by my fussing about another woman.
She may be angry with herself for being so weak for the future of the country, but…”

“Oh, yes.”

“If Elizabeth is jealous of me like this, I won’t have a crush on her for this long…….”

I looked up with a start as I was about to reveal my true feelings.

I knew the answer.

Elizabeth puts her country first.
Even if I did something deceitful, if she understood that it was for the good of the country, she would forgive me right away.
If anything, I was the one who would be hurt by her simplicity.

“Youth ah! I feel young again.”

Father laughed brightly and rubbed his beard, which was beginning to turn gray.

“If you have successfully uncovered Lars’ involvement, I will send an army to the Duke of Druids…….”

No comment.

I never thought I’d feel a connection to my father in a place like this.

“How are you doing, Harold.”(King)

I glance behind me, but Harold was staring at my father without changing his expression.
He looked as if he was listening to me seriously.

“I’m not joking, I asked because I’m really concerned about you.”(King)

“I know you are.”(Harold)

He nodded at my father, who wondered why there was no response.

He couldn’t understand that his son was having trouble reacting to a story he had already used.
What a father, he doesn’t care about me at all.

After the talk was over, my father raised himself from the chair he was sitting in.

“Since the conversation is over, I’m going to bed.
Oh, and don’t tell your mother.
She’ll really try to send out the troops.”

“…… yes.”

The question of what happened between my father and mother had been growing in my mind lately, but I’ve kept it to myself.

I wasn’t sure what they were thinking.

If I could make it through another month, I would be done with the turmoil.

Although I said that, one month was a long time.

I spent my days thinking about how to hook Lars to come at the coming-of-age ceremony.

I made sure to see Ulysses at least once a week to have a conversation with her so she wouldn’t have any doubts, but on the other days I had Raphael sticking around her again.

But before long, Edward stopped showing up and Lukes was gone.
Only Raphael was still enthusiastically wooing Miss Ulysses.
With Edward and Lukes gone, Miss Ulysses was constantly exposed to Raphael’s love whispers up close, and she always looked as if she was seasick.
I felt sorry for her, even though she had sowed the seeds herself.

What happened to the two, who had been so intent on keeping each other – or rather, Raphael – in check?

One day, while I was wondering, Edward showed up in front of me instead of Miss Ulysses for some reason.

“His Royal Highness the Crown Prince!”

I was on my way to the carriage with Harold when we were stopped.

I didn’t even have to turn around to recognize the owner of the firm voice.
It was Edward.

We stopped and waited for him, and he walked up to us in a brisk manner.
He was not out of breath, but his cheeks were red and his eyes looked thoughtful.

“What’s wrong, Edward?”

I was so surprised that I could not understand what he wanted to talk about.

Then, suddenly, he bent his back at a right angle and bowed his head.
I was pretty startled seeing him suddenly showing so much respect to me.

“Woah!”(Vincent)

“I’d like to …… ask for Miss Ulysses.
……!”

A frantic voice left my mouth, I quickly gathered my senses and stood straight.

So, that’s how it is.
The good-natured Edward went out of his way to give a pep talk to his love interest.

“The “Star Maiden” is to be wed to His Royal Highness the Crown Prince.
We have no objection to that.
We will step aside.”(Edward)

“Did Miss Ulysses say that?”(Vincent)

“Yes, only Raphael has resisted our feelings because he has made his heart not to hand her to His Highness.”(Edward)

“I see.
……”(Vincent)

And that’s why Raphael was the only one around Miss Ulysses these days.
Edward, Lukes, you think you’ve stepped aside, but you’re actually helping me hunting down Miss Ulysses.

“Is Lukes convinced?”(Vincent)

At first, like Raphael, he was trying to follow his own feelings, but he seemed to have changed his mind and thought of leaving her alone because that was what best for Miss Ulysses.
It was worth re-reading “Otohoshi”.
But suddenly a scene came to mind.
Edward and Lukes, reading “Otohoshi” while sitting shoulder to shoulder, giggling happily like girls…

I was almost choked at the thought of Edward and Lukes reading “Otohoshi”.
My imagination had become broad.

The thought of introducing Miss Serena to him briefly crossed my mind, but I decided not to do so because Miss Serena’s pale face and shaking body came to my mind.

“I understood.
I appreciate your thoughtfulness.
However, I am also the Crown Prince, and I am not in a position to casually approach Miss Ulysses.”

“Yes.”

Edward’s eyebrows were lowered and his face was filled with sadness.

“With my father’s permission, I’ve decided to make this year’s coming-of-age ceremony different from the usual.”

“It’s ……!”

“It may be hard, but until then, I need you guys to protect Miss Ulysses for me.”

The face of “I’m not sure if I can trust you” is the most important thing to show right now.

“Yes! Leave it to me!”

Okay, now Miss Ulysses will know that there will be an event at the coming-of-age party, and hopefully Lars will, too.

I hoped in my heart that if possible, even Lars will get the message.

It seemed that my wish was granted.

Over the weekend, Miss Serena sent me a copy of “This week’s lovey-dovey novel between Elizabeth and me,” along with information that Lars would be starting school next week, a week ahead of schedule.

They must have thought that I was completely possessed by the charms of Miss Ulysses.

It was obvious why he had thought of coming back a week ago, because that way he could be in the same space with Elizabeth for a week.

Although Lars and I have rarely met except as relatives at the Royal palace, I could usually guess what he was thinking when I love Elizabeth and think of Elizabeth as the center of my life, wouldn’t he do the same too?

Incidentally, on the same day, I received a letter from Raphael

“Did I told Edward something unnecessary?”(Vincent)

I was having a good time with Ulysses!

After Harold read it, he tore it up and threw it on the fireplace, but I was more concerned about Rafael’s definition of “good time”.

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