Author: alyalia

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Edward had proposed a game of hide-and-seek to Luize. Luize looked skeptically at Edward as if he were suggesting they blatantly slack off while everyone else was working hard.


“I was expecting something necessary.”


“It is indeed necessary. You’ll have 100 seconds to hide, and if I can’t find you within 3 minutes, the game ends.”


“This is really necessary?”


“In forests like this, it’s common to lose your way. It’s my job to find any lost squadron members. In some forests, it’s hard to gauge distances, so we assign someone to familiarize themselves with the space whenever we enter a new forest.”


“You’re going to search? So, will you track by footprints or broken branches? I can help with that.” Luize’s eyes sparkled with interest.


“Unfortunately, other knights are better at tracking that way. I use a shortcut.”


“A shortcut…? Ah!”


Luize grasped the necklace around her neck. The ruby-colored magic stone pendant she held was a gift from him.


“I guess this is it.”




“Okay, I’ll do it. But what if I hide too well and Edward can’t find me?”


“If Miss Luize is still within the empire, I’ll be able to find you. So, hide now, and I’ll seek you after 100 seconds.”




After responding, Luize headed into the forest. Being accustomed to the forest, she quickly disappeared from his sight.


Edward took out a watch from his pocket and smiled. Playing hide-and-seek with her made this expedition feel momentarily like a playful adventure.


“It seems like an ordinary forest.”


Forests like Perils, ancient and imbued with mana, could interfere with the magic stones he created, making them malfunction. This forest, with less mana than Perils, made it easier to locate her.


After 100 seconds passed, Edward smiled faintly. Trusting him completely, Luize had ventured quite far. He waited a bit longer before snapping his fingers and vanished.


Reappearing near a tall coniferous tree, he peeked around a large trunk, his black hair flowing down as he leaned forward.


“Miss Luize.”


Startled, Luize looked up from where she was, catching her breath beside the tree trunk.




“There you are.”


“Found me already? I didn’t sense you at all. It’s like magic.”


“I hear that often.”


“Next time, I’ll hide better.”


“Sounds good.”


The game of hide-and-seek continued. Despite Luize’s efforts to hide well, Edward found her effortlessly each time, making her both reassured and slightly annoyed.


This was already the fifth time she had gone into hiding. Just as he skillfully found Luize, Luize was also able to quickly figure out where he would appear.


That’s it. The rose scent comes just before Edward does.


That meant he was in the direction where the scent came from. She confirmed what she noticed on the sixth time, and finally, the seventh round of hide-and-seek began. Luize put her back against the tree and held her breath as she waited for the scent of roses to waft in the air.


How long has it been? Luize quickly turned to the right and jumped in the direction where his scent came from.


“I was surprised…!” Edward’s eyes widened in surprise, just as she had intended.


The problem was that the two were too close. Luize had jumped into Edward’s arms. Edward caught her and fell backward. Fortunately, there was a large tree right behind him, so he avoided lying on the ground.


Thud. His body hit the tree hard. Edward wrapped his right arm around her shoulder and used his left hand to support himself on a tree root. He sat leaning against the tree trunk, looking at Luize with a surprised expression.


“Are you okay?”


Ah, yes. I’m fine. What about you, Edward?”


“The back of my head is tingling in many ways.”


“Oh gosh, do you have a bump on your head? That sound was quite serious. I’m sorry.”


“It wasn’t that hard of a hit.”


“Let me see.” Luize sat on his thigh and reached out to feel the back of his head. Her fingers moved quickly through his fine hair. “It seems okay, but…”


“Um, Miss Luize.”


“Yes?” As she was earnestly checking the back of his head, she turned her gaze to Edward. Their eyes met closely.


“We’re so close.”




Her silver eyelashes blinked slowly. She looked into his red eyes and smiled slowly. “Indeed.”


Even though they were aware of their closeness, Luize did not hastily move away from him. Their gazes explored each other’s faces as if searching.


“How did you know which direction I would come from?”


“Because of the scent. The rose scent of the perfume Edward wears. Today, especially during our game of hide-and-seek, it was stronger than usual, so I could tell right away.”


“…Perfume?” Edward looked puzzled, and Luize nodded.


“I don’t wear perfume.”


“Yes? But the rose scent is so strong.”


“I can’t smell it at all. Maybe it’s coming from somewhere else in this forest?”


“No. Could you lend me your hand?”


Edward extended his hand that was on the tree root to Luize. She grabbed his arm and brought her face close to his wrist.


“Strange. It’s not here.” She tilted her head in confusion, then moved closer to Edward with an expression as if she had a good idea. “It seems to be more on this side.”


Luize leaned her face into Edward’s neck and then paused. Feeling his body stiffen, she realized she had moved too close. She too, froze in that position, merely exhaling.


Even after a moment that was ripe for objection passed, Edward said nothing. They were so close that she could see his pulse throbbing in front of her. Luize’s heartbeat was likewise transmitted to him.


When she slightly withdrew, the warmth from his shoulder disappeared. Edward had only now released his hold around her.


“I-it doesn’t seem to be a scent coming directly from your body. Strange, the scent has become stronger.”


“…Is that so.”


“It’s not a lie. I’ve often smelled the scent of roses coming from Edward before. Ah, I wasn’t trying to smell it on purpose each time. I don’t know why that scent is there, but…” Luize trailed off, her face flushing.


Edward, who had been quietly watching her, spoke. “Miss Luize, do you remember when else you smelled this fragrance besides today?”


 “Hmm. It’s been constant during this expedition. Also, at our first meeting, and I think I smelled it just before the lavender field bloomed.”




“Is there any connection?”


“It seems there’s no connection.”


“Is that so?”




Edward smiled at Luize and continued, “Would you mind if I excuse myself for a moment?”


“What for?”


“It seems we can end our game of hide-and-seek here. I thought it might be nice to act a bit more like lovers for a change.”




“Lately, the knights have been wondering if there’s any awkwardness between us. We must have appeared too platonic for a couple.”


Ah, that makes sense.” Luize nodded.


Indeed, lately, they had been maintaining a distance that hardly seemed like that of a couple. Luize had been spending more time with others than with Edward or Maxion, becoming closer to the members.


“Then.” Edward lifted Luize by supporting her knees and back, then stood up. Luize placed her hands on Edward’s shoulders.


Ah, do we have to do this?”


“It looks affectionate, doesn’t it?”


“Well, yes, but…”


“Miss Luize, usually in this position, you would wrap your arms around the neck.”


Luize adjusted her posture to wrap her arms around Edward’s neck. “I see. Ah, but Edward.”




“Shouldn’t we reveal now that we’re not actually lovers? Initially, everyone thought so, so we introduced ourselves as a couple, but now that we’ve become quite close to the members, I think they would understand if we said we were just friends.”


Hmm.” He continued walking towards the campsite and spoke. “I dislike that idea.”




“I said I dislike it.”


 “Why?” Luize asked, puzzled.


“Because I quite like being Miss Luize’s lover.”


“Really? Is that why?”


“Explaining everything would also be problematic. Everyone will be curious about the details, and discussing it might inadvertently reveal everything from your ex-husband’s story to the princess matters. Would that be okay with you?”


“…I’d rather not.”


“We will part ways when the time is right, so please bear with it a little longer.”


Luize tightened her embrace around Edward’s neck. “It seems Edward is always thinking of ways to keep me at bay.”


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