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Chapter 7: Tea Party Turbulence? 

Meanwhile, lively conversation was also taking place elsewhere in the Galarc Castle, at the tea party being hosted in Rio’s estate. 

It was a gathering where multiple people had never met each other before, but even they were able to chat with each other happily, as Charlotte was able to bring them into the conversation naturally. 

Before they knew it, an hour had passed and the awkward atmosphere had pretty much dissipated. They weren’t the best of friends with each other yet, but even people who only just met each other were able to interact without reservation. 

The current topic was Rio’s cooking skills. 

“Hmph, it’s so unfair everyone else here has tried it. I wish to try Sir Haruto’s cooking as well,” Charlotte said with a pout. 

Sir Haruto, Sir Haruto. Please cook for me as well, Charlotte pleaded with her gaze. 

“I’m not that great at it, but...if you’d like, I could make one dish for dinner tonight?” Rio suggested to Charlotte, scratching at his cheek. 

“Really?!” Charlotte brightened dramatically. 

“Sure. I’ll go now to check the pantry for ingredients that I can use. I’ll talk to the chef and see if they can handle the preparations too,” Rio said, standing up from the sofa. 

“Do you need help, Haruto?” Orphia and Miharu immediately offered, being that they were the best cooks of the group. 

“No, I was the one who accepted Princess Charlotte’s request. You should stay here and relax. I’ll return in an hour or so at the earliest.” Rio declined and left the room. 

 

The door shut behind Rio as he left, closing with a snap. 

“I suppose now is the perfect time. While Sir Haruto is away, I’d like to ask everyone something,” Charlotte suddenly said, looking around. 

“What is it?” Christina asked first. 

At that, Charlotte’s eyes sparkled in delight. “What kind of a relationship does everyone want to have with Sir Haruto in the future?” she asked all the girls present. 

“...” 

Most of them were startled, and the room fell silent. 

“I’ll answer! I want to be with Onii-chan forever!” Latifa replied, raising her hand first. 

“As his little sister, you mean? I thought you weren’t related to Sir Haruto by blood...” 

“As both his little sister, and...a woman...!” Latifa didn’t falter under Charlotte’s calculating gaze. She answered her boldly. 

“I’m going to be with Haruto forever as well,” Aishia said. 

“You mean that in the same way as Lady Suzune, as a woman, right...?” Charlotte asked to confirm, tilting her head at Aishia’s words. She probably couldn’t imagine someone purehearted like Aishia in an intimate relationship with Rio. 

“I am a woman, you know?” Aishia also tilted her head curiously. 

“Mm, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m asking if you want to be in a relationship with Sir Haruto as a man and woman. Like marrying and raising a family. Do you want to be with him in that way?” Charlotte asked her question again, this time saying more to explain her intentions. 

“No matter the type of relationship, I will remain by Haruto’s side. As long as he wants me there.” 

“I see...” Impressed by something, Charlotte’s eyes widened in wonder. 

“What about everyone else?” she asked the others once again. But no one replied after Latifa and Aishia. 

Miharu, Celia, Satsuki, Liselotte, Sara, Orphia, Alma, Christina, and Flora all fell silent. 

“Hmm, I see. That means the only ones with clear affection for Sir Haruto are Lady Suzune, Aishia, and myself.” Charlotte looked around at everyone in confirmation, before casually revealing her own feelings for Haruto. 

“Come on Char, you can’t put people on the spot like that. No one understands why you’re asking such a thing,” Satsuki protested with a sidelong glance at Miharu. 

“Oh my, you’re right. It seems I was overeager. There are some people here who’ve known for a while now, but as I just said, I am in love with Sir Haruto as a member of the opposite sex and would like to marry him if possible. Thus, I wish to know how the women around Sir Haruto feel about him,” Charlotte said in a clear voice. 

She definitely omitted the explanation on purpose. 

Satsuki narrowed her eyes at Charlotte. She had probably tried to surprise them in order to sound out their reactions. Satsuki was able to understand her fairly well now. 

“I’m extremely pleased to have obtained the information that Lady Suzune and Lady Aishia are clear rivals. Though I don’t know how everyone else feels...” 

Charlotte grinned as she looked around at the faces of those who didn’t answer, probing further into their reactions. Christina, Orphia, Alma, and Liselotte maintained their poker faces, but the others had expressions that implied they had some feelings for Rio. Her eyes were sharp enough to spot that much. 

I don’t know about Princess Christina, Lady Orphia, Lady Alma, and Liselotte, but there’s no doubt the others feel affection for Sir Haruto. 

Charlotte giggled in a show of joy. “I’m sure Sir Haruto will receive lots of marriage proposals from now on, so I highly recommend those of you hiding your feelings to become more honest with yourselves soon,” she said to fluster those who hadn’t answered. They remained silent, but they each had slightly more panicked looks on their faces. Charlotte observed all their reactions and beamed in delight. 

Well, I don’t doubt father will repel most of those proposals, though. But since she had said that to incite their sense of panic on purpose, she wasn’t about to reassure them with that information. 

“Is this a declaration of war, Princess Charlotte?” Latifa asked, eyes burning with a sense of rivalry. 

“You don’t need to call me by my title. I’m one year older than you, so I don’t mind if you call me Char, as if I were your big sister. I may really become your older sister for real one day.” Charlotte seemed to be truly enjoying the situation, grinning so widely she had to control her facial muscles from loosening. 

“Hmph. Please answer me, Princess Charlotte.” Latifa urged her to answer, puffing up her cheeks. 

“If Sir Haruto only chooses one person, then it’d be a declaration of war, I suppose. However, since that isn’t the only possibility, I’d like to form a cooperative relationship with you, with consideration for the future.” 

“What other possibility...?” 

“Polygamy. In other words, Sir Haruto marrying multiple women. But in that case, there’ll be limited positions available for the wives, so there may be competition there instead.” 

Despite saying she wanted to form a cooperative relationship, Charlotte made sure to add an extra comment to stimulate a sense of panic, as she seemed to find things more fun that way. 

“Hmm... I don’t think Haruto’s the type who can accept polygamy,” Satsuki muttered. 

“Why do you think that?” 

“He’s too awkward to do that kind of thing, don’t you think? I reckon once he falls for someone, he’ll love only that person until the end.” 

“I think so too. That part of him is wonderful, isn’t it?” Charlotte sighed dreamily. 

Latifa nodded in agreement. Meanwhile, Celia, Sara, and Flora also gave small nods at Satsuki’s words. 

“Umm, if you think so too, then there’s no point in continuing under the assumption he’ll marry multiple wives, is there?” Satsuki said tiredly. 

“No, no, there’s still the chance he’ll come to accept the idea of marrying multiple wives.” Charlotte was extremely optimistic. 

“Well, it’s not like I know what Haruto’s thinking. I’m just guessing.” Satsuki sighed as though to expel her worries. 

“Sir Amakawa did say that he was opposed to the idea of multiple wives,” Christina offered. 

“Oh my, is that so? I would love to hear more about that,” Charlotte said, immediately latching onto that information. 

“Anything further would involve Sir Amakawa’s own intentions, so I’m afraid I can’t say anything more than my surface impression.” 

“I’m very, very curious, but I suppose there’s no helping it.” Charlotte pouted but accepted Christina’s troubled refusal with reluctance. 

“Realistically speaking,” Charlotte said, moving on to a new topic, “if he were to only choose one wife in a monogamous relationship, I don’t have much confidence in being picked. Is that the same for everyone else? Unless there’s someone here who already has that kind of relationship with Sir Haruto...” 

“Hmph...” Not even Latifa could reply boldly right away. 

The others were also silent. 

“It seems like no such person exists yet, so I’m very relieved. That means I still have a chance, after all,” Charlotte said brightly. “However, the problem lies in whether Sir Haruto actually sees us as members of the opposite sex. In my opinion, Sir Haruto is a rather late bloomer in that sense, and at the same time very gentlemanlike, so he never shows any sign of ulterior motives,” she added with a gloomy look. There was no way for her to know if she was being seen as a woman like this. 

“You understand him well, Princess Charlotte...” Latifa was impressed, shooting Charlotte a look of acknowledgement. She realized she couldn’t underestimate her as a rival in love—with the potential that she was a dark horse. 

“Thank you very much. I wasn’t born and raised as royalty for nothing. It pleases me to hear that from his adopted sister.” Charlotte thanked her with a charming grin. 

“Even when he’s around the people he’s close to, he doesn’t do anything to close the distance himself. But that seems to have changed a little since he returned from his journey... Until now, we’ve always had to be the one proactively approaching him if we wanted to close the distance. Even then, I don’t know if he sees us as members of the opposite sex.” Latifa seemed to have her own thoughts about that, as her expression was rather conflicted. 

“Is that so... In that case, it seems we should set aside the polygamy talk for now and first confirm whether Sir Haruto actually sees us in that way.” 

Charlotte started devising a plan to capture Rio. 

“It’s not as simple as that, though...” Sara joined in the conversation with a look of determination. 

“He’s afraid of losing his connections to people. It’s not that he hates connecting with people. I believe there’s a latent part of him that fears getting too deeply involved with others.” Celia also gave her analysis of Rio in a natural manner. She spoke in reaction to Sara’s response, but it wasn’t as though she had been triggered to do so. 

“This has been extremely enlightening.” Charlotte looked delighted at the flow of conversation. 

“If you want to get close to Onii-chan, you have to proactively press him. You can’t hold back at all, not even in the slightest.” 

Latifa pointed out the most vital point in getting close to Rio. Although she wasn’t active in the conversation, Flora was also listening with a serious look of contemplation. Beside her, Christina and Liselotte were also listening in interest. 

Everyone likes Haruto... I know she said as much the last time we left the castle, but Princess Charlotte is serious about Haruto as well... Miharu was also an introvert, so she had remained silent until now, but she had many thoughts going on inside of her. Like the others present, the atmosphere in the room was beginning to agitate her. 

After the banquet, her feelings for Rio had been unintentionally revealed when Takahisa nearly kidnapped her. But nothing had changed in their relationship since then. She was fine when they were together in a large group, but when she was alone with Rio, she’d remember how he was aware of her feelings and become too embarrassed to function. Besides, they had spent most of their time apart after the banquet. 

I can’t just stay like this, can I? Miharu thought with renewed enthusiasm. Rio had said they’d have more time together from now on, but she was faintly aware that their relationship wouldn’t change at the current rate. 

Yeah. I can’t run away just because I’m embarrassed. Because I’m in love with Haruto as well... Miharu strongly recognized the need for change. Because she loved him—she was in love with him. Not only with the Amakawa Haruto from Earth, but with the Rio of this world too. That’s why she had no intention of giving him up to someone else. She didn’t want to. Charlotte had stimulated her sense of danger and made her recall how she’d felt during the banquet. 

“I have one suggestion I’d like to make,” Charlotte said, as though she had been waiting for the right moment. Everyone’s attention gathered on her. 

“In order to confirm whether Sir Haruto sees us as eligible women, how about we use today to plant a trap?” Charlotte proposed. 

“Are you assuming that everyone here’s in love with Haruto?” Satsuki interrupted with an unimpressed look. 

Everyone who’s lived with Haruto aside, Princess Christina and Princess Flora are here as well, you know? Satsuki looked at the two of them as though to say just that. 

“No, of course I’m not assuming that. That’s why participation will be purely optional. If you like Sir Haruto, feel free to join in. Of course, if you have other motives...for example, if you want to join because you find it interesting, I won’t mind either,” Charlotte replied clearly. 

“I see... But what kind of trap are you planning?” Satsuki asked. 

“Let’s see. The most direct approach would be to bring up the topic of love in front of Sir Haruto, I suppose. For example, we could ask him which one of us is his type... That may be interesting to witness.” 

“Do you think Haruto would answer that?” 

“Indeed, Sir Haruto would probably be on guard if I asked such a thing in front of everyone else. In which case, it may be more realistic to have the people here form small groups and visit Sir Haruto to talk to him. That being said, it’d be extremely unnatural if we visited him in succession to talk about love, so we should come up with different topics once we’ve split into groups. Also...” Charlotte placed her hand over her mouth in thought. “It may be better to have those who don’t need to know if Sir Haruto sees them as attractive to participate, actually. It’d be better camouflage. Let’s treat this as an event in order to deepen our relationship with Sir Haruto. There are things we’ll only be able to say because of the atmosphere here right now,” she said in summary. 

“I think that’s a great idea!” Latifa immediately agreed. 

“Thank you. Anyone else? If anyone would like to sit out, please raise your hand.” 

“...” 

No one raised their hand. 

“Then let’s decide our groups and what we’ll talk about before heading to Sir Haruto.” 

And so, an event to deepen their relationships with Rio was secretly hosted without the man himself present. 

 

Half an hour or so later, Rio was preparing dinner in the kitchen. It was quite rare to see a noble cook, so the servants of the mansion that were off duty were watching him curiously. Among them were Liselotte’s attendants, including Aria and Vanessa. 

Rio looked a little uncomfortable with being at the center of so much attention, but his skills were still exquisite enough to impress his spectators. 

Incidentally, the dish he was making was a rice-style croquette using barley as the main ingredient. He made an elaborate sauce and added risotto-style seasoning to the barley. 

Okay, that’s the preparation done. 

All that was left was to fry it in oil before they ate. He had prepared plenty of ingredients so that there would be enough for a large number of people. The ingredients that couldn’t be exposed to open air had been placed in a bowl and covered in wrapping paper, then moved into a refrigerator powered by sorcery. 

“Haruto.” 

Satsuki’s voice echoed in the kitchen, and Rio turned around at the sound of his name being called. 

“Hey, Satsuki—and Orphia, Princess Christina, and Princess Flora...” 

Rio was somewhat surprised by the four people standing at the kitchen entrance. He called their names as the spectating servants made a quick and clean exit. 

“Hey! Did we surprise you?” Satsuki said with a slightly awkward expression. 

“Not surprised, but it’s just strange seeing the four of you together. Did something happen?” 

“Nah, it’s just that we rarely get a chance like this, so we were talking about taking some time to group up in unusual combinations.” 

“I see. I think that’s a great idea.” 

“Are you still in the middle of food prep? Would you like to talk to us for a bit?” 

“I just finished up here and was about to return to everyone anyway. Sure,” Rio agreed readily. 

“Then let’s go to the dining room over there.” 

“All right.” 

And so Rio and the girls moved from the kitchen to the connected dining room. The five of them sat down at one corner of the enormous dining table that could seat thirty people. 

“Sorry for making you cook by yourself, but the food you make is truly delicious, so I’m really looking forward to it!” Satsuki said to Rio. 

“It’s no problem. Princess Charlotte was the one who requested it, and I like to cook. It was strange for me to be the only man in that room anyway,” Rio replied with a faintly strained smile. 

“I don’t think that’s true. Right?” Satsuki asked Christina, Flora, and Orphia. 

“While you were gone, everyone was talking about how they wanted to talk to you more. That’s why we came here,” Orphia replied first. 

“Indeed. Everyone adores you,” Christina said, smiling. 

“Yes. I also wanted to talk to you more...” Flora said shyly. 

“If that’s true, then I’m honored.” Rio looked embarrassed. 

“That aside, what were you making just now?” Christina asked. 

“Croquettes with barley risotto inside.” 

“Whoa, that sounds really amazing...” 

“I hope you enjoy it.” 

“We will! But wow, whoever ends up married to you will be one lucky girl.” Satsuki, who had been nodding with a smile, suddenly said this while examining Rio’s expression. 

“What’s up? Why so suddenly?” 

“Well, it’s just that you’re so good at cooking. It’s wonderful having a man who knows how to cook, you know?” 

“Thank you...” Rio said shyly. 

“While we’re on the topic, do you like girls who know how to cook?” 

“Mm... I wouldn’t decide whether I liked someone or not based on their cooking ability.” 

“Hmm. So they don’t have to know how to cook?” 

“Yeah.” 

“But you’d be happy if a girl made you food, right? You might grow more interested in them if they did. Wouldn’t you want to eat the food of the person you like?” Satsuki fired question after question at Rio. 

“Well, I suppose that might be true,” Rio answered seriously. 

“Would you be happy even if their cooking wasn’t the best?” Christina asked, joining in. 

“Let me think. If it’s royalty and nobility, they normally never cook for themselves, so I’d be happy that they even thought to cook for me. I believe I’ve said something similar before, actually.” 

“I see...” Christina hummed in great interest. Flora was also nodding in contemplation. 

“Do you have an ideal type of woman you’d like to marry, Haruto?” Orphia asked next. 

“An ideal type...” 

“For example, a certain facial shape, hair color, hair length, or personality.” 

“That’s a tough question. Can I say whoever I fall in love with becomes my ideal?” Rio answered with a frown. 

Satsuki pointed a finger in warning. “No. You have to be more specific.” 

“E-Erm...” 

“Just one thing is enough, so pick something. It’s extremely important.” 

“Uhh... Someone who doesn’t feel awkward to be around in silence, I guess?” Rio answered, wracking his brain. 

“Hmm. So you prefer a quiet girl?” 

“No. I’m not a very talkative person, so it might be nice to be with someone who can talk to me. But there’s no need for them to force themselves to keep speaking, and it’d be nice if the quieter times with them are relaxing...” 

“I see, I see...” Satsuki nodded in deep understanding. The group then continued to throw various questions at Rio. 

There’s an oddly large number of questions about marriage, love, and types... 

Rio answered all of them sincerely, but he started getting a strange feeling partway through. Then, as though she had picked up on that, Satsuki spoke up. 

“We had a girls’ talk while you were gone. Love and marriage is the typical topic in a situation like that, you know? We talked about various things, but no one had any experience dating, so we don’t really know how men work. You’re the man closest to us, so we wanted to ask for your opinion on a few things,” Satsuki said as though she was reciting from memory. 

“I see... It sounds like you guys had fun chatting,” Rio said in earnest. 

“We did. We’re normal girls for our age, so it’s normal for us to discuss things like that. Isn’t that right, Orphia?” 

“Yes. We do it often when Haruto isn’t around,” Orphia said, giggling. 

“It may be difficult to call royalty like Flora and myself ‘normal,’ but we enjoyed the talks very much,” Christina said. 



“Yes. We heard many new topics and chatted like normal girls, so it was very fun. Thank you for inviting us to this party, Sir Haruto,” Flora added. 

“Of course. I think you’re both very lovely, normal girls,” Rio said to the two of them with a gentle smile. 

“Thank you very much...” 

Christina thanked him somewhat bashfully. Flora was blushing to the tips of her ears. 

He really says such things so casually... 

Satsuki glared at Rio, looking like she wanted to say something. With his good looks, gentlemanlike demeanor, and talent, there was nothing left to be desired. Indeed, he would be popular like this; in reality, it was clear he was. His only flaw was how he would make flirtatious comments when he was such a blockhead himself. 

“He really knows how to give people the wrong idea sometimes,” Satsuki muttered with a pout. 

“Err... Satsuki?” Rio tilted his head at Satsuki’s gaze. 

“Nothing!” Satsuki replied in a playful tone. “Now, it’s about time we went on our way. There’s a line after us, after all,” she said, then stood up. 

Orphia, Christina, and Flora followed her lead. 

“Do you have something after this?” Rio asked. He stood up with them, but Satsuki stopped him. 

“We’ve actually decided to come and talk to you in order. So you should stay right where you are. The next group will come here once we return.” 

“I see... Then I’ll be waiting here.” Rio let out a huff of laughter and sat back down. 

“See you later, Haruto.” 

Satsuki and the others left with the information they’d gathered, ready to share it with the following groups. As an aside, a cooking event for Rio would be held the next day—but that was a story for another time. 

 

After ten or so minutes had passed... 

“Onii-chan!” 

The door to the dining hall opened, revealing Latifa’s face. Behind her was Liselotte, and they both entered the room through the door. 

“So it’s Latifa and Liselotte next?” Rio said. This was indeed a rare combination as well. 

“Yup! Because the three of us had no time alone the last time we stayed at Liselotte’s house. We’re the group that was on the bus before being reborn! There’s lots we need to talk about, right?” Latifa said, taking her usual seat right beside Rio. It was a topic they could only talk about because they were alone in the dining room. 

“The three of us never spoke in our last life, though.” 

None of them had been particularly close to each other. They had merely been passengers of the same bus that weren’t even on speaking terms with each other. 

“We were practically three strangers in our past life, yet we’re now close enough to have sleepovers with each other. Isn’t it incredible?” Liselotte giggled, taking a seat opposite to Rio and Latifa. 

“We were reborn and grew up in different places, but we still managed to meet each other again. This is what you’d call a miracle!” Latifa said, eyes sparkling. 

“Yeah, that’s right,” Rio said. 

“It sure brings back memories... I only started taking the bus after I met you, you know?” 

“Wait, really?” Rio’s eyes widened. He hadn’t known that. 

“Eheh heh, it’s the truth! After I missed my stop and you sent me home, mom said I could start taking the bus. I was too embarrassed to talk to you until my death, but I really wanted to get closer to you,” Latifa said shyly. 

“So if you hadn’t started taking the bus, you wouldn’t have died...?” Rio asked with a somewhat guilty look. 

“If you think it’s your fault I died, I’m going to be mad. If I hadn’t been reborn, I wouldn’t have gotten this close to you.” 

“I suppose that’s right...” 

“I admired you in my past life. The handsome man that saved me. That’s why I don’t regret taking that bus at all! I love this version of you very, very much too!” Latifa hugged Rio’s side, expressing her affection directly with a carefree smile. 

“The young woman that watched Haruto so shyly in the bus can now convey her feelings in such a straightforward way. I think that’s lovely.” Liselotte watched Latifa with a charming smile. 

“I don’t want to regret anything. I want Onii-chan to know exactly how much I love him.” 

“I think I know well enough,” Rio said happily. 

“Really?” Latifa gave Rio a searching look. 

“Yeah.” 

“Hmm... I love you as a sibling, but I also love you in the way Endo Suzune felt for Amakawa Haruto, you know?” 

Until now, Latifa had constantly expressed how much she loved Rio. Even though she had been somewhat able to convey those feelings with her attitude, she deliberately avoided saying anything directly about loving him as the opposite sex. However, the earlier conversation with Charlotte seemed to have acted as a trigger. The words came flowing out naturally. 

“I see... Okay.” Rio had frozen for a moment with wide eyes, but he then nodded with a gentle smile. It wasn’t a bother. He wasn’t upset by it. He felt happy to hear it, but— 

“I’m sorry... I won’t be able to give you my reply right away.” He wasn’t in the right state of mind right now to be in love with someone. Rio told her his true feelings, without muddling his words. 

“That’s fine for now...” Latifa hugged Rio harder in understanding. 

“Umm... Am I disturbing you two, perhaps?” Liselotte asked with a frown. 

“Not at all. I don’t think I’d be able to say it if I was alone with Onii-chan. I was only able to say it because you were here and we were talking about our past lives. I feel really embarrassed right now, eheh heh.” It seemed Latifa was truly feeling shy, as she had a rarely seen bright red face. 

“I see...” Liselotte smiled gently. 

“As your little sister, being able to introduce myself as Suzune Amakawa or Amakawa Suzune makes me really happy. So that’s enough for now. Hee hee! Aren’t you jealous, Liselotte?” 

“Yup, I’m really envious.” Liselotte nodded, still with a gentle smile. 

“If you married Onii-chan, you’d have the Amakawa last name as well.” 

“H-Huh?” 

“Ah, Liselotte’s face is red. Look, Onii-chan!” 

“Th-That’s because you said something like that out of the blue... Even if I wasn’t thinking about it before, I pictured it in my mind,” Liselotte protested with a squeak. 

“Amakawa Rikka. Liselotte Amakawa.” 

“S-Stop!” Liselotte blushed even more when Latifa said her name with Rio’s last name. 

“Come on, Latifa. Don’t tease Liselotte too much,” Rio scolded her tiredly. 

“Okay!” Latifa nodded honestly, then murmured to herself, “I consider Liselotte a rival too, though...” 

Liselotte picked up on what she muttered by the movement of her lips, but she maintained her silence as though she hadn’t heard her. 

“Hmm. All that’s left is... That’s right!” Latifa clapped her hands together as though remembering something. 

“Is something wrong?” 

“The truth is, there’s something I haven’t told Liselotte yet... I was thinking of saying it when I saw you again, but...” Latifa looked up at Rio’s face. 

“What is it?” 

Seated across from Rio, Liselotte looked puzzled. 

“Erm... About my ears and stuff...” Latifa whispered in Rio’s ear. 

“Oh... You should be able to tell Liselotte. I’m sure she’ll keep it a secret. It’s up to you whether you want to tell her, though,” Rio said without any particular hesitation. 

“If the two of you want me to keep it a secret, I won’t tell anyone else,” Liselotte swore with a sincere look. 

“Yeah, okay. I hope you won’t be too surprised by this...” 

Latifa decided to reveal the truth about her species, and Liselotte spent a long time petting Latifa’s ears and tail with sparkling eyes. 

 

“It’s our turn next. What do you think of this four-person combination?” 

Once Latifa and Liselotte had left, the next people to visit Rio in the dining room were Charlotte, Sara, Alma, and Celia. Charlotte and Alma sat on either side of Rio, while Celia and Sara sat opposite them. 

“It’s natural to see Sara and Alma with Celia, but adding Princess Charlotte to this group is rather nice,” Rio said, giving his honest opinion. 

“I’m glad to hear that. In households where the wives are on good terms with each other, the wives make an effort to mix up their lineup to give their husband a fresh feeling every day. It’s also said to prevent dead bedrooms at night.” Charlotte had a bright and cheerful expression, as though to say they’d be able to give the same effect if they were married. 

“I-Is that so?” Rio said anxiously, causing his voice to crack. At the same time, Celia and Sara were blushing hard. Alma was turned away as though she had no idea what they were talking about. 

“Speaking of which, I noticed today that you refer to Lady Celia without a title, Sir Haruto.” 

Charlotte looked at Rio with a pout. He had always addressed Celia with a title when she wasn’t around, so she hadn’t noticed this until today. 

“Yes... She’s allowed me to do so in private settings,” Rio confirmed awkwardly. 

“Are you okay with that, Lady Sara, Lady Alma?” Charlotte suddenly said. 

“Well, we’ve previously discussed how embarrassing it is to suddenly be addressed without a title,” Sara said. 

“Indeed,” Alma agreed. 

“Hmph. I also wish for Sir Haruto to call me Char.” Charlotte was truly frank with her feelings; she skipped the titleless name and went straight to asking to be called a nickname. 

“Aha ha...” Rio laughed weakly. 

“Will you call me Char?” Charlotte leaned coquettishly against Rio and pleaded. Celia and Sara narrowed their eyes faintly. 

“No, I’m afraid that’s a little...” Rio tried to reject her gently. 

“A little what?” With the distance between them still closed, Charlotte maintained her grin and feigned innocence. 

“A little problematic for our social statuses. Especially if you’re not asking me to use your name, but a nickname.” 

“Then I shall order you as the Second Princess. Call me Char.” 

“Uhm...?” 

“Go on, hurry up. If you don’t call me Char, I’ll order you to fulfill a more radical request.” 

That wasn’t really a request, but a plain order, Rio thought to himself. 

“Char...” 

He had a bad feeling about the more radical request, so he had no choice but to call her Char, as ordered. 

“Yes...! Now, once more. Call me Char once more.” Charlotte was immersed in ecstasy, repeating her request for Rio in delight. 

“Once more, you say?” Rio asked, conflicted. 

“Yes please. If you don’t...” 

“I-I understand... Char.” 

“Once more.” 

“...Char.” 

Charlotte continued making her request with an enraptured expression mixed with pleasure and delight. Partway through, she placed her head on Rio’s shoulder and started acting like his lover. 

“Mmmgh...!” Rio could feel the piercing gazes of Celia and Sara seated opposite him. However, Charlotte continued with her requests without a care. 

“Again.” 

“Ch-Char.” 

“You’re still being shy.” At this point, Charlotte removed her head from Rio’s shoulder to cling to his arm tightly. 

“Now, let’s practice losing that shyness. Pet my head and call me Char. Come on, move your hand here...” She took Rio’s free hand and moved to bring it towards her own head. 

“P-Princess Charlotte?!” It was at this moment that Celia shot up from her seat. 

“Oh, my. Whatever is the matter?” Charlotte tilted her head curiously. 

“D-Don’t you think you’re clinging to Haruto a little too much?” 

Although they weren’t standing on ceremony today, Celia had held her tongue due to the status difference between the Second Princess of a foreign country and a count’s daughter. But there was no end to the flirting she was being forced to witness, so she finally reached the limits of her patience. 

“Th-That’s right! I stayed silent because you’re a princess, but you’re going too far!” Sara protested strongly. 

“But I don’t want to let go yet...” Charlotte took Rio’s face by the hand and gently turned it towards her, bringing him in close to stare at him. 

“That’s enough.” Alma, who was seated on the other side of Rio, tugged at his body. She seemed to have a faint pout at her lips as well. 

“Hnn... Jeez.” 

Charlotte was slightly pulled off balance. She then puffed up her cheeks in an adorable pout. 

 

“So, last is Miharu and Aishia...” Rio sighed in relief when he saw the last two people appear. 

“Sorry, we’re the only ones who aren’t a new combination of girls...” Miharu said apologetically. 

“That isn’t a problem at all. I’ve been out traveling for so long that the three of us haven’t been able to spend any time together. It’s actually quite calming. Truly...” The memory of his earlier exchange with Charlotte made Rio all the more sincere. 

“Right... That’s good, then.” Miharu seemed a little nervous, as her expression was stiff. 

“Erm, would you like to take a seat?” Rio gestured for the two to do just that. 

“Okay...” Miharu awkwardly started making her way to the seat across from Rio—when Aishia grabbed her hand. 

“Let’s sit in a row.” 

“Wha... Ai?” 

“You keep letting others sit beside Haruto, even though you always want to be the one sitting there. But there’s no one else around right now, so you should sit next to him.” 

“Have I ever said anything about wanting to sit next to him?!” Miharu objected, blushing. 

“Go on, sit.” Aishia pushed Miharu into the seat to the right of Rio, then sat in the seat left of him herself. 

Miharu kept her head down and looked away from Rio in silence. She was clearly feeling very nervous. 

Rio felt somewhat bad for her. 

“Haruto...” Aishia said. 

“What?” 

“Miharu’s nervous,” Aishia stated, making Miharu flinch. 

“Yeah...” Rio nodded awkwardly. 

“You should call her Mii-chan.” 

“Huh?” Rio was taken aback. 

“What are you saying, Ai?!” Miharu looked over at Aishia in a fluster. As a result, Rio’s face came into her view, as he was right beside her. When she noticed Rio’s gaze was on her, she quickly averted her eyes in embarrassment. 

There was no longer any way of hiding the fact Miharu had feelings for Rio. Even Rio, who was ignorant to people’s feelings being directed at him, had noticed how much she liked him. He had also heard the truth from her very mouth during the banquet. 

Ever since that day, Miharu had been too embarrassed to be alone with Rio. He sensed that and had avoided being alone with her as well. 

However, that was running away, and Rio had decided that he should say the things he needed to say. It was why he wasn’t about to run from the present situation. It would be insincere of him to keep brushing off his position on all this. He had to tell her his thoughts properly, at least once. He wasn’t about to let this rare chance to speak to her alone slip from his hands. 

“Mii-chan...” 

“Huh?!” Miharu gasped, looking back up at Rio. 

“I’m calling you that right now, but in the end, the person I am right now isn’t Amakawa Haruto. Because until today, I’ve lived as Rio...” 

That’s why he had achieved his revenge on Lucius. He wasn’t about to turn into Amakawa Haruto just because he’d done that. 

“I... The current ‘me’ is Rio. I’m Haruto Amakawa, but that isn’t Amakawa Haruto. It’s a different person. I was raised in this world as Rio, and I’m not about to discard what I’ve gained as Rio.” 

Miharu stared at his face, waiting for his words. 

“I know I’m an argumentative and tiresome person. I can’t become Amakawa Haruto. Once I realized that, I started thinking it’d be better to abandon him. That’s why I tried pushing you away. But I still have his memories. I tried to push you away, but I couldn’t. I don’t know what that means, or if it’s okay to be like that, but...” Rio still looked a little anxious as he spoke. 

“I may be able to become Rio...who possesses Amakawa Haruto’s memories. I’m Rio, but I don’t want to run away from the person I was before, in Japan, anymore... That’s why to me, you’re both Miharu and Mii-chan. I can’t interact with you by completely becoming Amakawa Haruto, but these are my true thoughts. This is what I wanted to tell you—you, who sees me as both Rio and Amakawa Haruto...” 

“It’s both. I think I love both of them. Haruto, from before he was reborn, and Haruto now. I fell in love with the same person twice.” 

Those were the words Miharu had said to Takahisa, and the words that had convinced Rio to live as someone who possessed Amakawa Haruto’s memories. 

“Y-Yeah...” Tears flowed from Miharu’s eyes as she nodded along. She finally felt like Rio, who had always been looking far into the distance, was seeing her as his childhood friend again. She was so happy. 

“Rio.” Aishia called Rio’s name gently. 

“Aishia...?” Rio’s eyes snapped wide open. Is this the first time that Aishia’s called me by the name Rio? he wondered to himself. 

“You’re Rio. But you’re also Amakawa Haruto. So have confidence. There may be many hardships waiting for you in the future. But you’re the one who gave me everything when I had nothing...” Aishia said softly, her hand held over her chest. 

“Thanks, Aishia...” Rio smiled gently. He then turned to Miharu resolutely. 

“As the one who possesses Amakawa Haruto’s memories, there’s one thing I have to say to you...as Amakawa Haruto right now. Because I wasn’t able to say these words in my last life.” 

“Umm... What is it?” Miharu braced herself with bated breath. 

“Long time no see, Mii-chan. It’s nice to finally see you again.” 

Sorry for running away from you until now. With a radiant smile the normal Rio would never show, he said to Miharu the words of reunion that Amakawa Haruto couldn’t say at the entrance ceremony. 


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