༺ If the higher-up points, the subordinate rolls (4) ༻
A cherry blossom fell on top of the cookie. As I blew it softly, it flew away and joined other cherry blossoms; I felt like I was looking at a rain in the shade of pink.
I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve last seen a cherry blossom; I wasn’t someone who liked to go and see flowers in the first place. I ate a cookie while looking at the pink rain, which was delicious.
I looked up and saw the other members. They were eating either sandwiches or toast, and it seemed like they found those delicious even though their taste buds were privileged. If they eat those things so well, why not eat a cookie?
Thanks to that, I, once again, became responsible for eating Louise’s cookies. I was surprised after seeing those five refuse to eat her cookies and Louise, who continued to make them despite that.
Is she okay as long as there was one person who ate? What incredible conviction.
“I just realized I can’t tell the difference between sister and the flowers.”
‘Oh, my god.’
I silently turned my gaze around at the sight of Tannian, who was taking off a cherry blossom that had fallen into Louise’s head.
Tannian lived his whole life in the Holy Kingdom, which was probably why he didn’t have the talent to make a good expression.
Louise seemed embarrassed to hear things like that and said thanks while smiling awkwardly. It seemed like Tannian was satisfied by her reaction, so he nodded. I guess what makes people happy truly differs from person to person.
Is that what they mean by saying that you could live a happy life if you don’t have any desires? I didn’t want to live like that myself, of course.
“As expected of a Priest, your expression is quite fancy!”
For some reason, Rutis hit Tannian’s back a few times. That’s fancy?
“Rutis, don’t make fun of him.”
I sighed in relief after seeing that Ainter was trying to stop Rutis. So my tastes weren’t wrong. Ah, what a relief. A lot of things have been happening recently. So I didn’t notice it was a light joke.
“Oppa, are you okay not trying the other things?”
“Yes. This is more than enough.”
Louise, who had been talking with the others, began to speak to me. She tried to give me a sandwich, but I really was fine with just the cookies. After sitting underneath a cherry blossom tree, I continued eating the cookies. Will I be able to eat them all before we return to the Academy?
“But the other things are also delicious…”
“I like these the most. So it’s okay.”
So don’t offer anymore. One sandwich is equal to six cookies…
I looked at the air to avoid Louise’s gaze. Woah, the cherry blossoms are indeed beautiful.
* * *
I looked at Carl Oppa. Who’d refused to eat a sandwich and kept eating my cookies. Although Oppa doesn’t seem to have noticed because he’s busy looking at the cherry blossoms.
‘But they don’t taste good.’
I’m not dumb; I knew my cookies weren’t delicious. Even the other members that treat me with a smile on their faces avoid the cookies I make while having an awkward expression.
Of course, it’s not that I can’t make cookies. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have been able to teach them how to bake; I can do the basics quite well. But I wanted to go beyond that and make my own unique cookie. That’s why I tried numerous things, but the results weren’t good.
But Carl Oppa always ate those results. Even if they didn’t taste good, he ate them anyways without making any weird expressions. As if he were cheering me on, he always ate them daily.
‘A good person.’
Like I told Erich, I think Carl Oppa is a good person. Although one might look like a cold person, what one says and does reveal that person’s true nature.
The first day I saw Oppa, how he looked at Erich were the eyes of an ideal brother who was worried about his younger sibling.
That’s what I thought was Oppa’s true nature. No matter how cautious a person was, one couldn’t hide their subconscious nature being reflected occasionally. If he was someone who could act like that, he probably treated Erich coldly. Someone who isn’t good at expressing his thoughts. That was my first impression of Oppa.
After that, I haven’t thought much about him. I heard he would stay in the Academy because of his work, but that had nothing to do with me, so I just greeted him when I saw him. That was it until I decided to create the club.
Although I managed to gather three people, I couldn’t get an advisor. Something I thought would be simple, and the pastry club I wanted so much was about to be blown away.
“You don’t have to search any further. I’m willing to be the advisor.”
I was really happy when Carl Oppa said he would be the advisor. How brightly I smiled then still makes me a little embarrassed. I bowed a couple of times to express my gratitude. Oppa just patted my shoulders before turning around and going somewhere.
After becoming the advisor, he always cared for us and never expressed any annoyance while doing that. It was as if he were saying he was doing what he had to do.
While Erich and the other members treated me embarrassingly well, he stepped back and looked over me from behind. That was a huge relief for me; It felt like the Oppa I always wanted to have supported me from the back.
From that moment, I felt like I had obtained a reliable Oppa. That’s why I began looking at him more frequently. What was he doing? Where did he go? Could I do something to repay him?
“It’s delicious. You could sell them.”
“If there are leftovers, I’ll eat them. So put them here.”
But every time he did that, the considerate one was him. He was probably worried that my feelings would get hurt, so he ate all the cookies I had made. Thanks to that, my confidence grew. And recently, I began making some that were quite decent.
‘Didn’t I get better than before? At least a bit…?’
Oppa said everything was delicious.
So even if the taste changed, I had no way of knowing that.
I was about to smile because I felt thankful and sorry at the same time. But I bit my lips because I remembered what had happened yesterday. I told Carl Oppa that Irina had asked about him. But he tried to brush it off as if he were trying to hide something, and he only told me at the end.
I was sad that something I didn’t know had happened between my closest friend and the Oppa I could rely on. And that he hadn’t told me the reason. Of course, Oppa doesn’t have any obligation to tell me. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
While I looked at him with eyes full of complaints, it seemed like Oppa noticed me. So he looked at me.
“Give me a cookie too!”
As I said that, I took the cookie he’d just grabbed. I didn’t take it with my hands; instead, I took it with my mouth.
Seeing Oppa’s surprised gaze, I couldn’t help but smile at him. For some reason, the emotions of disappointment were leaving, and I started to feel good.
* * *
After the picnic, I returned to my room. I sat on the bed and sighed because of tiredness.
Because of Louise’s sudden prank, I almost ended up in a 1 v 5 fight. The other five were looking at me with a really sharp glare. I would’ve probably suffered much damage if they could harm me with just their eyes.
‘Why did she suddenly do that?’
I never expected Louise to grab the cookie in my hands with her mouth. As I saw her smiling after doing that, I began wondering if we’d gotten close enough to do something like that. Although it wasn’t bad news, there were five witnesses.
I washed my hair and lay on the bed. Louise was always cheerful. So no matter how much I thought about it, I couldn’t tell the reason. She will greet me brightly anyways when we see each other in the club room tomorrow.
I was about to fall asleep when the communication device on the table began shining while emitting a purple light.
…? Purple light???
I quickly ran towards it and accepted the call. Then, the face of an old man greeted me.
“Long time no see, Prosecutor’s Executive Manager. I heard that you were staying in the Academy a while ago. But I wasn’t able to greet you until now. You’re working hard as always.”
“No, it’s nothing. I’m just doing what I have to do for the Empire.”
“As expected. I’m always surprised by the Executive Manager’s patriotism.”
As the old man laughed, I also laughed awkwardly.
The person who called me was the one in charge of administering everything related to the Imperial Family. Among the Empire’s Administrative Branch, he was the overseer, the Minister of the Imperial Household. To put it simply, he was at the peak among Civil Servants. Only the members of the Imperial Family were above him.
He wasn’t my higher-up. So if the representative of the Imperial Family had contacted me, that means that they’d sent me a message. Ah, what was bound to happen finally will come true…
– I’m glad you look healthy. The Prince became disappointed after hearing that the Executive Manager was sent somewhere far away. He worries that you aren’t comfortable where you are at the moment.
“The grace of the Emperor reaches all the territory. So there’s no way I would find something uncomfortable.”
– Although the grace of the Emperor does reach everywhere, the reason why an order can be maintained is because of loyal subordinates like you.
“You’re over-praising me.”
– Haha, not at all. This isn’t just my opinion. But even the Prince has admitted this. Although your sacrifices for the Empire are necessary, your loyalty is undoubtedly admirable.
Although the Minister was talking to me lightheartedly, I couldn’t help but feel a nervous sweat flowing down my back. Although I was expecting it, the order of the Prince was more direct than expected.
The true meaning of what he said was this: The Prince was uncomfortable about the third Prince, Ainter. The Empire’s stability depended on the safety of the succession of the throne. He was basically telling me this: Keep an eye on the third Prince, and deal with him if necessary.
‘This is going to drive me insane.’
The only good thing was that he hadn’t told me to deal with him immediately; he was rather going to leave it to my discretion. Recently, nothing worthy of shedding blood had happened. So it seemed like the Prince had gained some mercy.
“I’m thankful for that excessive praise. I will try harder so that the Prince’s trust won’t be placed upon me in vain.”
The Minister nodded while smiling after hearing my reply.
– I will tell the Prince about the Executive Manager’s loyalty.
– I’m sorry for having called suddenly. Then please, take a rest.
The call was cut off, and the light disappeared from the communication crystal. I sighed and threw the communication device again toward the table.
‘The Prince is also quite annoying.’
Now, I don’t just have to be careful about Ainter as a candidate for Louise’s affection. But also as the third Prince.
How troublesome. Damn it.
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