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Lucy followed the maids obediently and they led her to the Palace where Koumei was currently situated in. He rarely left his Palace and there wasn't a person who didn't know of the shut-in prince. In others' eyes, he was merely a side prince compared to his older brother. Having constantly been compared to his older brother, it was no wonder that he began to seclude himself.

"This is his Palace, Lucy-sama," the maids said, opening the door. "Then we will take our leave."

The guards who guarded the palace recognized Lucy and let her in and the maids dismissed themselves, returning back to the Empress. Lucy stepped in and as she did, the doors closed behind her. Looking around, she really couldn't see anything besides the faint ray of sunlight that came in through the paper sheet windows. Stepping quietly and cautiously, she saw a faint flicker of light and before she entered the main room, a voice stopped her.

"Who's there?" a voice asked. "Judging from your footsteps, you don't seem to be a palace servant. Tell me, who are you?"

His voice showed indescribable anger and Lucy stared at the glow of the flickering candle, making out a faint silhouette. She didn't know how it was like to be treated as a side prince and she clearly didn't know what he had gone through but nevertheless, she felt a thorn prick at her heart. Stepping out from behind the wall, she made her way to him and could see that he had bundled himself in the blanket as mountains of scrolls and books were sprawled around on the ground. She had heard talk of his intellect and brilliance but it was always paled in comparison to Kouen's. Looking at the scrolls and books, she could tell how much effort he had put in just to be able to stand by Kouen's side and support him for despite what others said, he still admired his brother.


Hearing her voice, he immediately lifted the blanket off of himself and stood up. The glow of the candle cast a soft light on their faces as they stood face to face with just a mere few inches separating the two. He looked at her with disbelief for he didn't think that he would actually be able to meet her again — much less so soon.


She looked at the ground and at the documents before picking one up. "Did you do all of this yourself?"

"Compared to what Kouen-niisama does, it's fairly little," he said and took the scroll from her to roll it back up. "But, what did you come here for? Did mother send for Layla-sama and you?"

"The Empress only sent for mother and mother decided to bring me along."

"So that's how it is," Koumei smiled, a little dismayed that it wasn't because of him. "For now, why don't you have a se-."

But upon seeing Lucy's deadpan face, he stopped mid-sentence and looked around and realized what the problem was. There was literally no place to sit in his Palace for all the empty space had been taken up by his papers. Realizing this, he gave a nervous chuckle and Lucy nodded her head, glad that he had realized. Heaving a sigh, he gloomed in regret.


"There's no need to apologize," Lucy said as she cautiously stepped around, trying her best to avoid toppling the books over. "I was the one who suddenly impeded so the one to apologize should be me. I'm sorry for intruding without having asked you first, Koumei."

She hadn't meant to interrupt him nor intrude in his business and thinking that she did, she couldn't help but be apologetic over it. She hated barging into others' space without their permission — especially if they didn't want her there and so when she saw Koumei's troubled expression, she felt her heart weigh down with guilt. Koumei saw her smile but it was a forced one and he could see what was going on in her mind. She thought that she was being a nuisance.

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