Chapter 151: Leading

Eina stared at the ring Vahn had presented her with a mixture of emotions that were hard to describe. She felt both happy, sad, concerned and excited, all at the same time. Each emotion seemed to compete for first place in her heart as she stared in abject shock at the ring in Vahn’s hand. Though she asked him to marry her, she never expected him to already have a ring prepared. Now, the reality of the situation hit her like a ton of bricks as she hesitantly reached out her hand.

Vahn saw her apprehension and a bit of guilt started spreading in his mind. It wasn’t until Eina looked at him in the eyes, and they both stared at each other for several seconds, that his guilt faded away. Perhaps because she had seen his care and concern but, after holding gazes with Vahn for that period of time, Eina suddenly smiled and held up her hand for Vahn. Though he was a bit confused, Sis whispered in his mind that he was supposed to put the ring on for her.

Vahn took Eina’s delicate hand into his own as he slowly placed the ring on her finger with his excitement continuing to rise. He was a bit surprised that it was a perfect fit, and even Eina couldn’t help but ask, “How did you know my ring size?” After Vahn had placed the ring on her finger, she continued to stare at it with a somewhat dazed expression as she asked the question. Vahn’s thoughts spun rapidly in his mind before he gave the best excuse he could think of, “Maybe it was just fate. I didn’t know if the ring would fit until I put it on your finger.”

Eina looked at Vahn after he finished speaking and seemed to contemplate his words for a bit before a gentle smile spread on her face. She squinted her emerald green eyes as she placed her free hand on her cheek and said, “You’re quite the smooth talker at times, aren’t you Vahn?” Then, almost as if she had a sudden realization, she looked at Vahn and asked in a subtly teasing tone, “So, what should I call you now? Vahn, Husband, Darling, or is there something else?”

Her question had shocked Vahn, and each form of address hit his mind like a hammer blow. Vahn considered her words for a few moments, and it wasn’t until she started laughing at his dazed state that he finally responded, “I think Vahn is fine…but Darling is okay if we’re alone…” As Vahn spoke the words, he couldn’t help but blush while Eina looked at him with a bit of a sparkle in her eye and a wide smile. They were already in close proximity to each other, so Eina leaned forward a bit and whispered into Vahn’s ear, “Darling~” She put a lot of emphasis on the word and dragged it for more than a second.

Vahn realized that she was teasing him, and he couldn’t help but imagine all the times he tried to tease her. It seemed as though they both liked to try to get a rise out of the other, or maybe it was just her trying to act the role of his fiancee. Regardless, though Vahn enjoyed the current Eina, he wanted to experience her getting flustered a bit as well. Seeing how quickly she recovered after accepting the ring, he wanted to do a bit more so, while she was whispering in his ear, Vahn licked Eina’s pointy ear with his tongue.

Eina jumped like she had been electrocuted as she held her hand to cover her ear while looking at Vahn was an ‘angry’ and surprised look. Realizing what he had done, the blush that had only recently receded on her face spread up her cheeks and to her ears. She could feel both of her ears turn hot, especially her left ear which Vahn had just licked. It took her several minutes to calm herself as she kept getting a bit annoyed every time she looked over and saw Vahn smiling. Remembering that he said he liked to tease her, Eina couldn’t help but feel there would be a lot of trouble for her heart in the future.

After everything had settled down, Eina started guiding the date a bit more and acting very attentive toward Vahn. The two enjoyed their picnic like a real couple, which made sense considering they were now engaged. Vahn felt very happy at the current situation, but he couldn’t help but feel mildly bothered by how her affection had only increased to 93 before stopping. Even though he teased her a bit and tried to make her happy, the number seemed to be cemented in place for the time being.

When they were done eating, Vahn wanted to continue the date, but Eina stopped him and said in a firm tone, “Vahn, if we’re going to get married, there are several things we need to take care of immediately. You already have a lot of girls in your life and several commitments to keep, and keeping our matters hidden will only escalate future problems. Since Hephaestus seems to be the most important person in your life, we should meet her and explain the situation as soon as possible.”

Vahn hadn’t expected Eina to suddenly take on a lecturing tone, so he just stood at her side and listened to her words attentively. He couldn’t help but agree that she had a point and knew that it could be a problem if the girls he was in a relationship with finding out from a different source that he was getting married. Not just Hephaestus, but Vahn felt like he needed to explain things clearly to all the women that he had high affection with.

Agreeing with her words, Vahn led Eina by the hand towards Hephaestus’s workshop. Though she was much more considerate toward him now, Vahn almost missed how affectionate she was earlier when she leaned against his arm. Though holding hands was nice, Vahn found out that he liked physical contact with girls the longer he was around them. He even tried to be bolder and place his arm around Eina’s waist, but she slapped his hand away before firmly grasping it with her own. She gave him a serious look as she stared into his eyes and said, “Vahn, there is a time an place for everything. From now on, you need to learn to show a bit of restraint. Right now we’re walking on a public street, so just holding hands is fine. Just to be a little more patient, okay?”

Vahn just nodded his head at her words and tried to mull over them as he continued leading the way. Remembering how his actions, especially touching people, had gotten him into several incidents recently, Vahn couldn’t help but consider her words seriously. If he didn’t learn to be more reserved and attentive, he would probably create a lot of future problems, and it seemed like Eina was trying to help him fix his bad habit. The fact that she was already acting so considerate and trying to help him better himself made Vahn feel happy in his heart and at ease in his mind.

As Vahn led the way, Eina was constantly paying attention to his facial expressions and body language. Though he didn’t seem to be too aware of it himself, Eina knew Vahn couldn’t conceal his thoughts because of how expressive he was. Just like he had no filter for dealing with people, he also had no control over his own expressions and feelings. She saw that he was seriously considering her words, and even seemed to be satisfied after coming to a conclusion in his mind. Eina realized that, though it might be a long road to recovery, with how receptive Vahn was, there was still hope that he could regain some normalcy in his life.

When they turned a corner into an alleyway, Eina stopped her feet which caused Vahn to pause after trying to take a step. He looked at her with a questioning look as she said, “You did well to come this far, so let me give you a reward while we’re alone.” After finishing her words, Eina leaned forward and gave Vahn a peck on his cheek. Though she had wanted to kiss his lips, she hesitated at the last moment and decided to kiss his cheek instead.

Vahn was a bit startled by her actions and had his mouth opened as he stared at the now bashful half-elf. After she kissed his cheek, Eina started to blush a bit and was trying to keep a composed demeanor while she stared into Vahn’s eyes. Though it was just a kiss on the cheek, Vahn felt very happy at the intimate action so he couldn’t help but smile as he continued leading the way. Eina allowed herself to be pulled along this time, and she gave a relieved sigh after seeing how Vahn reacted to her action. She realized that he didn’t need sexual or overly intimate contact to be happy, so she had hope that he could be reigned in earlier than she expected.

As they got closer to Hephaestus’s workshop, Vahn couldn’t help but feel a bit of pressure building in his mind. Both his and Eina’s pace had slowed down quite a bit, and it seemed that the closer they got, the heavier each step became. Though Vahn believed Hephaestus would be understanding, he was still worried that she might be disappointed. Of all the people in his life, it was always Hephaestus’s sad expressions that brought him the most pain. He wanted her to be happy all the time and never have to worry about being sad or lonely anymore.

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Though Vahn thought it was both of them slowing down, Eina was very aware that it was Vahn feeling the majority of the pressure. She had only slowed her pace to keep in line with him, and now it almost felt like she was the one leading the way. Eina realized that the burdens Vahn had accepted were larger than she expected, at least in his mind. Now that he might make Hephaestus ‘sad’, Vahn was beginning to hesitate and she could even see a bit of fear and worry on his face. Gripping his hand a bit tighter, she began leading the way for the remainder of the trip.

By the time they arrived outside the workshop, Vahn actually had a subtle paleness to his normally healthy looking tanned skin. Eina could feel that his hand was clammy and had even turned a little cold to the touch. They two stood silently outside of the doors of the workshop as passersby gave them strange looks for blocking the path. It wasn’t until a customer exited the building and almost bumped into Vahn that he finally managed to recover.

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From his left, Eina asked him in a gentle and quiet tone, “Do you believe in her?” Vahn’s eyes widened a bit as he turned to look into her emerald green eyes. He could see that she had a bit of concern in her eyes and that her brows had furrowed ever so slightly. Thinking about her question, Vahn muttered before he could form any thoughts, “Of course I do.” His words seemed to wash away the chaotic state of his mind as he realized the foolishness of his own actions. Seeing Eina give him a nod and a smile, Vahn realized that he had been hesitating over nothing.

It wasn’t just the burdens of others that weighted him down, but his own mentality and how he chose to deal with those burdens. Vahn realized that every time he hesitated or got lost in his own thoughts, there always seemed to be someone to care for him and guide him back along the right path. First, it was Klyscha, then Sis…after them it became Hephaestus…he even remembered how Tsubaki had literally ‘beaten’ him only recently because of how he was acting. Vahn released a sigh after realizing how fortunate he was to be surrounded by so many people that care for him.

Vahn looked into Eina’s eyes and noticed she was smiling at him with an appreciative expression on her face as she spoke before he was able to, “I know, Vahn. Let’s go.” Vahn had wanted to thank her for helping him realize his errors, but she seemed to already have recognized that he had worked through things on his own. She even helped push him forward to prevent him from hesitating any longer.

Vahn suddenly felt a warm feeling spreading in his heart as he followed her into the workshop to meet the goddess that had done so much for him; the goddess that Vahn had learned to respect an appreciate more than anyone else in this record. Though he wasn’t sure what it meant to truly love another person, Vahn believed that he would learn how when dealing with strong women like Hephaestus and Eina that put in so much effort to help guide him toward the future.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Eina just wants a little brother’,’Vahn, slowly moving forward’,’Beginning of a fierce battle?’)

- my thoughts:
Level 1 Vahn: https://imgur.com/a/zFOLFrT Courtesy of https://www.deviantart.com/robusta-mania
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