“Let’s tickle Teacher Bear!”
Naturally, he became their target.
“Hey, hey kids. Hold on! Just a minute.”
Even Ray, who had never lost his nerve in front of hundreds of knights, was powerless here, becoming the object of playful torment.
Leo approached Iva, who was warmly watching this unusual scene.
“What do you think of my subordinates?”
“The future of Grace seems very bright. Did you establish a school?”
“No, not a school. We conduct cultural and various classes three times a week. There are many elders here and not many facilities to educate the children.”
“That’s wonderful work.”
“It’s all for my own satisfaction.”
Leo glanced at Ray, who was helplessly entwined among the children.
“My crybaby of a brother is working hard to protect our family in the capital, and I can’t just stand idly by. I’m merely teaching to show the people here how remarkable Ray really is.”
“I don’t want to be a brother who feebly loses to his sibling just because I’m sick.”
Leo had been thought of as someone who would be frail and bedridden due to his weak constitution. He was completely different from what she imagined, but that’s what made him feel even more like Ray’s brother.
“But Ms. Iva, can you really just stand there?”
“You should get to know my subordinates quickly if you want to gather information, right?”
“That’s true… but to be honest, I don’t know how to befriend children.”
“Whether it’s adults or children, if you approach them with an open heart and sincerity, it’s all the same.”
Leo picked up a little girl who, among the ten, found it the hardest to approach Ray.
The child, her cherry blossom-pink hair tied tightly into twin tails, had cheeks flushed a vibrant rosy hue.
She stared intently at Iva, who reciprocated the greeting.
“Hello. We said hi earlier, right? You’re Mainy, aren’t you?”
Mainy nodded vigorously, her plump cheeks adorably jiggling in response, causing Iva to offer a warm smile.
In turn, Mainy fussed, expressing a desire to be in Iva’s arms, and Leo passed her over.
“Hmm? Are you talking about me?”
“You’ve got a keen eye already, huh.”
Iva winked and complimented Mainy, and the little girl’s small lips parted in a broad shout.
“Marry my big brother!”
She had yelled with so much force that even the children, lost in playful antics with Ray, could hear.
The children halted their play, turning their attention towards Leo and Iva.
“What? Who’s getting married?”
“I don’t know. Seems like the Captain and that pretty sister are getting married.”
“Gasp! No, he can’t. The Captain has to marry me!”
“The pretty lady and the Captain? But she was holding hands with Teacher Bear just now?!”
Amidst the ensuing chaos, Ray managed to rise, arms still laden with children.
“Kids, the Captain and the pretty sister are not getting married. There’s nothing between them.”
While his explanation seemed gentle, his voice held a sternness. For a moment, his true commander’s tone slipped through, prompting him to quickly soften his expression and coax the children.
They stared at Ray, blankly. Silence lingered until one child broke into robust laughter.
“Pfft. Hahaha! Guys, look at Teacher Bear’s face! He’s a total red tomato.”
“Hehe. Tomato! He’s a tomato!”
“No! Red means apple! He’s not Teacher Bear; he’s Teacher Apple!”
Having blushed at something involving Iva, Ray had inadvertently become a subject of teasing.
“Let’s go tease Teacher Apple!”
Leo seized the moment, sprinting towards Ray, and the children followed in pursuit.
As Ray fled, an unexpected chase ensued. Unaware of the context, Iva simply watched, laughing at the lively atmosphere.
Mainy gently tapped Iva’s shoulder to get her attention.
“Yes? What’s up?”
“Big Brother is even more amazing than Teacher Apple. So, marry him.”
“Hmm? It’s not easy being more amazing than Teacher Apple, is it?”
“No, my big brother is really, really amazing!”
The little girl’s cheeks puffed out in dismay as her proclamation of her big brother’s greatness wasn’t acknowledged.
“Haha, how is he amazing? Is he tall like Teacher Apple?”
“Then, does he have good athletic skills?”
“Hmm, so is he handsome like Teacher Apple?”
“That’s not it either.”
The child’s face gradually morphed into a pout, prompting Iva to quickly appease her by playfully tapping her nose.
“So, what’s so amazing about Mainy’s big brother? Will you tell me?”
Given the opportunity to boast about her brother, Mainy’s face lit up with a broad smile once again. Her laughter was so fresh and joyful that Iva couldn’t help but join in.
“Sis, you can’t be surprised, okay?”
“That surprising, huh?”
“Alright, I’ll try not to be too shocked.”
Matching her serious expression, Mainy, satisfied, moved closer to Iva’s ear.
Spreading her little hands to cover her mouth, ensuring no one else could hear, she whispered ever so softly,
“My big brother is a wizard.”