※ This is seen from Claire François’ point of view.
Several days have passed since Rei and the Pope switched places.
Although it seemed that Rei has managed to keep her cover-up so far, we were struggling quite a bit on our end.
It was evening.
It was almost time for us to switch shifts for our security work.
“Rei-sensei, haven’t you been a little too quiet these last couple days?”
Lana, who was helping me out with some security work, expressed her suspicions.
Eve, who was beside her, immediately shot a skeptical look over at us.
“That’s not true. I’m the same as always.”
“T-That’s right. It’s as she says, and I’m sure she’s a bit tired out from working as a bodyguard.”
Although her speaking habits were similar to Rei’s, there was no expression in the Pope’s voice.
I had to rush in and back her up.
“Are you sure? Something feels weird though? And besides, was Rei-sensei always the kind of person with this sort of deadpan face?”
That was the one problem that pushed me to my wits’ end.
Compared to Rei, who was always so expressive, the Pope was basically expressionless…… or more accurately, she had never let her emotions show before.
It was reasonable for them to be suspicious.
“T-The truth is, Rei and I have been fighting for a while now. That’s why her expressions have been stiff lately.”
“Ah, is that so~? Rei-sensei, if you’re getting tired of Claire-sensei, do you wanna enter an adulterous relationship with me~?”
Lana was messing around with Rei―― or rather, the Pope―― like she usually did.
I was just starting to feel relieved that we had managed to dodge that dilemma when,
“What does it mean to be in an adulterous relationship?”
With that one innocent question from the Pope, whose face was still devoid of expression, I found myself at my wits’ end once again.
“Ehー!? What’s this, Rei-sensei? Are you finally showing interest in me? No waaay, doesn’t this mean I’ve got a chance?”
Lana was starting to get hyped up, while Eve spat out an insult.
Things looked like they were about to get complicated again.
“What are you saying? There’s no way Rei would engage in that type of relationship with anybody but me.”
“Ehー, I mean, Claire-sensei, aren’t you and Rei-sensei in the middle of a fight right now? If that’s the case, there’s no way I’m just gonna let this opportunity escape, you know?”
While I was panicking and Lana was getting carried away, the Pope looked over at us with a gaze that was devoid of any warmth.
It would be cruel of me to ask the Pope for a solution here.
I had to do something about this.
“Just because we are in the middle of a fight, that doesn’t mean anything about our deep love for each other has changed. We’re in the middle of a little disagreement right now, that’s all.”
“But you knowー, don’t most romantic relationships break down because of these kinds of disagreements? If anything, when things aren’t going well with your lover, isn’t that the best time to take advantage of the situation?”
“Lana…… Just what kind of relationships have you been in up until now……?”
Not that I actually wanted to hear about Lana’s relationship history, though.
I was getting fed up with the situation.
“Besides, why are you chasing after Rei in the first place? I heard this from Rei, but it seems that you’ve been pursuing her ever since the first day of school.”
Rei mentioned that although she and Lana were not acquainted, Lana knew about her.
That’s why we were confused as to why Lana was so smitten with her.
“Ehー? I mean, Rei-sensei is cute, and she’s smart, and the part that I like most about her is that she seems like she’s overly passionate with her love!”
“Well, I can agree with that.”
Rei is cute―― Yes, that was correct.
She’s smart―― There was no room for debate there.
She’s overly passionate with her love―― There was no better way to put it.
“Also, although it seems like Rei-sensei would never have an emotional affair with anybody else, I get the feeling she’d be up for sexual infidelity, don’t you think?”
“D-Don’t say such silly things!”
That wasn’t the sort of topic the Pope should be listening to.
I quickly rebuked Lana.
“So are emotional infidelity and sexual infidelity two different things?”
The Pope asked yet another innocent question while tilting her head.
I’m begging you, please don’t get baited into this.
“Of courseー? Even if you engage in a physical affair, as long as you’re not cheating emotionally, it’s not considered infidelity!”
“That is not true! If you keep saying idiotic things, I’ll burn you!?”
“Nooo, I’m scaredー!”
As Lana deliberately raised the pitch of her voice, she went to go hide behind the Pope.
“Rei-sensei, save me~”
“Claire-sama, even if you’re joking around with other people, you can’t just burn them. That would be inhumane.”
“…… It was a joke. You seem very strict about these sorts of things, don’t you.”
Somehow, it felt like I was fighting by myself.
Rei, I am starting to realize just how big of a role you play in my life.
Hurry up and come back already.
“Aha, so Rei-sensei really is starting to take an interest in me, huh? What do you think, sensei? Shall we dine together tonight?”
“No, Mei and Alea are waiting for us at home.”
“Ahh, that’s so boring. In the end, people with kids are hard to win over. But I like thatー!”
“Geez, please stop saying silly things…… Look, it’s time for us to change shifts, Rei. Have a nice day, Lana, Eve.”
“See you later, Lana, Eve.”
After parting with them, we rushed home.
“Claire-okaasama, Miss Pope, welcome home~”
When we returned to the dormitory, Mei and Alea greeted us.
Ahh, those were the smiles I’ve been working so hard for every day.
I gave both of them a hug and kissed them on their cheeks.
Mei and Alea were told that the Pope and Rei had switched places.
It wasn’t like we were planning to keep it a secret or anything, but they found out the moment they saw her on the first day.
Before the Pope had even said anything,
“Who is this person?”
I was a little surprised when they said that.
Those two were the type of daughters that would give Rei such half-hearted treatment, and yet, they could recognize her immediately just by looking at her.
If Rei ever heard that, she would surely be overjoyed.
“I have prepared dinner already~”
“You’re amazing, Alea. You’re just like Rei-okaasama.”
“Thank you, Alea.”
“Thank you very much.”
The Pope thanked Alea as well.
Unfortunately, neither the Pope nor I were able to cook.
We received some funds from the Church, so the idea of hiring somebody to do it for us came to mind; however, Alea insisted that she wanted to do it herself.
At first, I was worried about leaving the job to her, but those worries were blown away by the meal she made on the first day.
The meal that was laid out on the dining table was perfect, and they were things I couldn’t possibly make myself.
Less than a month had passed since Rei started teaching Alea how to cook.
If she was able to come this far in such a short amount of time, then Alea really was a fast-learner.
Of course, Mei seemed like she was helping out as well.
After we got changed, ate dinner, took a bath and finished playing with the kids, it was a good time to go to bed.
“Mei, Alea, it’s time to say good night.”
After saying “good night” to the kids, I sent them back to their room.
“Those two are really good kids.”
The Pope spoke.
As usual, there was no expression on her face, but she still gave off a rather soft aura.
“They’re the daughters I’m so proud of, after all.”
That was something I truly believed from the bottom of my heart.
At first, I didn’t think somebody like me was suited to raise children, so there were a lot of things I was worried about, but I have different thoughts about that now.
I think I was wrong.
Parents aren’t the ones that raise their children, the children are the ones who do the growing up by themselves, while the parents watch over them.
This way, the kids don’t grow up just to fit the mold of their parents’ expectations. Instead, they can decide to be whatever they want to be, with their parents by their side, guiding them.
That was something I came to believe about raising children.
Of course, there was still a minimum level of discipline they needed to learn in order to protect them from some of life’s dangers.
“Well then, shall we get some rest as well?”
We went to our room and got into bed.
Since the bedroom was supposed to be for me and Rei, we only had one bed, which meant that the Pope and I had to share the bed.
At first, I felt a little bit confused since I was sharing the bed with a woman who had the same face as Rei, but unlike Rei, who would start getting playful, the Pope would fall asleep immediately, so I quickly got used to it.
“Good night, Your Holiness.”
“Good night, Claire.”
The only thing that was different from usual was this.
A soft sensation pressed against my lips.
I jumped out of bed immediately.
“Physical contact…… doesn’t count as infidelity…… right?”
She said as she was falling asleep, and soon, she was breathing peacefully as she slept.
Meanwhile, I was in a state of confusion.
Please forgive me.
As I held onto this unexpected secret, I closed my eyes, hoping that I would be able to see Rei in my dreams tonight.