Chapter 220: Comfort

After crying for more than twenty minutes, Milan started feeling much better and had recovered a bit of the smile that Vahn remembered from the past. Tina had noticed it as well, so she had a happy expression with tears stains on her face as Vahn affectionately stroked the hair and ears of both girls. They spent the rest of the dinner in relative silence and just enjoying the fresher atmosphere as Syr politely served them while Hestia sat across from everyone on her own booth. Vahn was moderately concerned about her, but when he made eye contact with Hestia she just smiled and shook her head in an almost unnoticeable fashion as if to indicate that he shouldn’t mind her.

Once dinner ended, Syr told Milan and Tina that Mama Mia had given them the rest of the night off and that they should relax in their room. After sharing an embrace with Vahn, the two made their way to their room with an added stability to their auras that made Vahn feel relieved. Milan had promised to join the Familia when things had settled down and Vahn was looking forward to the day when their smiles would return permanently.

Turning to Syr, Vahn showed a moderately more affectionate smile than usual and said, “Thanks Syr, you’re always helping me out.” His words made her chuckle slightly as she squinted her eyes and said, “I wasn’t just helping you, Vahn, I felt bad about their situation and wanted to do what I could to protect them. If you want to give me more credit though, I don’t mind receiving your affections more often~.”

Hestia frowned at her words but didn’t interfere even when Vahn gave Syr a short embrace. They didn’t kiss or do anything more intimate, but it was one of the few times when the two shared a hug and it brought a happy smile to Syr’s face. Her light-grey eyes seemed to glow a bit and Vahn resisted the strange feeling instinctively before giving her a peck on the forehead and separating. She touched the slightly damp area and had a rosy blush on her face as she stared at Vahn for a while before returning to her duties.

When she left, Vahn watched her back with a thoughtful expression on his face before Hestia interrupted him by saying, “I want you to tell me more about your relationships…I think my understanding of things is somewhat lacking.” Hestia had thought that there were several girls just trying to take advantage of Vahn’s kindness and was only now realizing there was much more to the situation than she initially realized.

Vahn turned to look at Hestia and saw an uncharacteristically serious expression and a bit of concern in her crystalline blue eyes. Considering her request, Vahn nodded his head and promised to explain things in detail when they returned home. Afterward, the two made their way through the relatively cool night air which seemed to grow colder by the day. Vahn could even see his breath a little as they made their way toward the Hearth Manor at a leisurely pace while a silence hung between them. He noticed Hestia seemed to be in deep contemplation as he led her by hand through the familiar back roads.

After a few minutes, perhaps due to her absentmindedness, Hestia tripped over a loose stone and nearly fell down before Vahn caught her by the shoulder. She grimaced slightly and Vahn saw for the first time that she had a slight cut on her feet and released a strangely relieved sigh. Before she asked, Vahn leaned down and said, “Get on, I’ll carry you the rest of the way.” Hestia had been on the verge of tears after the incident but immediately cheered up as she climbed onto Vahn’s back without any hesitation.

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Vahn couldn’t help but marvel at how soft her breasts were once again when she hugged his neck tightly and pressed them against his back. Supporting her legs with his palms, Vahn stood up and started carrying the silently laughing Hestia along the path. After a while, she whispered into his ear softly, “You really are too gentle…” Her arms tightened slightly around his neck and Vahn could feel the softness on his back press firmly against him.

Hestia continued her words, “I can understand it, how all of those girls are reliant on you. You treat them well and can’t ignore when they are unhappy…I even heard you’ve saved several of them from terrible tragedies. I want to know their stories and how you found your way into their lives…Tell me everything, okay?”

Vahn considered her words and, since he already said he would tell her regardless, he nodded his head and affirmed, “I won’t keep secrets from you, Hestia, you are my goddess and…my family.” Vahn felt like each time he used that word, something inside of his body bloomed and he felt happier and happier. Though he knew of the word and considered having a family of his own, it was only recently that he started to use it when talking about people. He had even changed how he felt about some people from ‘liking’ them to actually ‘loving’ them. Without realizing it himself previously, Vahn now understood that his mentality had been making a subtle, yet profound, shift.

Vahn’s words made Hestia feel very happy and she nuzzled against the side of his head as she squeezed his neck tighter. Though she wasn’t very strong, Vahn could still feel his airway being restricted a bit by her efforts. Before he could ask her to loosen up her grip, Hestia whispered in his ear with a very happy tone, “That’s right, from now on, always and forever, we’ll be family~!”

Though it wasn’t much, Hestia’s affection, which had stalled at 90 previously, increased to 91 and transitioned from (Protective) to (Eternal Bond) within his system menu. Tilting his chin a little to prevent her from choking him to death, Vahn smiled and trekked through the cold night with a new warmth spreading in his body, not just from his back. After a few more minutes, they arrived at the Hearth Manor and entered into the warm interior that was their home.

Vahn carried Hestia all the way up the spiral stairs in the central area and into their shared bedroom before setting her down on the couch. He had considered laying her on the bed, but decided against it as took her foot into his hands and began using [Hands of Nirvana] to heal the small wound. When he had done so, Hestia tilted her head sideways in a curious manner before a smile blossomed on her face before turning into a more mischevious look as she asked, “Couldn’t you have healed my foot earlier instead of carrying me all this way~?”

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Her words impacted Vahn and his mind blanked for a moment as he processed what she had just said. Considering them carefully, he also agreed that he could have healed her on the spot easily before they continued along the route. For some reason, when Vahn had seen her absentminded state earlier, he thought it would be more appropriate to carry her so nothing else would happen. Believing this to be the case, Vahn looked up at Hestia’s smiling face and said, “I saw how distracted you were earlier and decided to carry you so nothing bad would happen…”

As if she didn’t believe him and wanted to tease him, Hestia spread her arms akimbo which caused the blue ribbon tied around her body to lift up her breasts. Vahn’s eyes were momentarily drawn to the sight and she laughed before asking, “Are you sure there wasn’t another reason~?” As she spoke, Hestia proudly puffed out her breasts with a gleam in her pure blue eyes.

Vahn released a sigh and said, “I won’t deny that it was very comfortable to carry you, but I’m also telling you the truth. I was worried about you and didn’t want you to get hurt while you were lost in thought.” When he spoke, Vahn had a very serious expression and Hestia’s smile widened a bit because of how honest he was. She already knew he was telling the truth earlier, but she also knew there was no way he could have ignored the feeling of her body when he was carrying her for more than ten minutes.

Patting her thighs, Hestia said in a cheerful manner, “Here, here, put your head here~! Come and rest your head on your beautiful goddess’s thighs and tell me your story~.” Watching her actions, Vahn caught a glimpse of her white panties before deciding to accept her offer. She had an expectant smile on her face and he was also interested how a lap pillow from her would feel. It had been a while since he enjoyed the sensation and thought it was a good opportunity to experience something he used to enjoy often in the past.

When Vahn laid his head on her thighs without any hesitation, Hestia’s heart throbbed a bit as she stared down into his aquamarine eyes. Because of the angle, she knew he had a clear view of her breasts and it made her feel a little excited until he closed his eyes and began to relax. She released a slight sigh but didn’t say anything as she waited for him to begin his story. Before he started, she began to gently pass her fingers through his long dark-brown hair in a similar manner to how he always caressed other girls.

Vahn felt very comfortable while laying on Hestia’s lap and felt completely at ease when she started stroking his hair. It wasn’t the first time a girl had done so, and Vahn always felt very comfortable to be on the receiving end of someone’s caress. It was partially due to this fact that he often stroked other girls when it looked like they were feeling down. If they felt the same way as he currently felt, Vahn knew his affection would help ease their burdens a bit.

For the next two hours, Vahn began recounting all of his encounters with other girls starting with Milan and Tina at the Hostess of Fertility. He didn’t leave out any details, including some of the more embarrassing parts, because he had promised to tell Hestia the truth. Though he couldn’t mention anything about the system, it didn’t stop him from speaking about its influence as long as he passed it off as his ‘Divinity’.

Vahn also talked about meeting Lili in the dungeon, saving her, and then living in the same end. He talked about his speculations regarding the Soma Familia and his first meeting with Hephaestus, how they grew closer together, his promise with her, and their eventual confession and shared passion. Vahn talked about living with the tyrannical Tsubaki and the score he wanted to settle with her in the future. He recounted his meeting with Naaza, how he had healed her arm and subsequently resisted the attack of the party of adventurers that thought he was a monster.

He also talked about how, due to the rumors regarding him, he eventually met with the Loki Familia and dueled with Tiona and Ais before entering the dungeon later to become stronger. He explained his rapid growth, the encounter and near-death experience of fighting the Juggernaut, saving the Father and Sons group, arriving at the 18th floor, and even the ambush of the Anubis Familia.

Throughout his entire story, Hestia sat in a daze as if she could imagine all of the struggles he had gone through. When he talked about the moments where he had nearly died trying to perform heroic acts, she felt both terrified and proud of him. Knowing that he willingly suffered the injuries of others to ensure they would have a chance at life and happiness made her feel especially proud to be the goddess of such an incredible youth…

When Vahn got to the part about his reunion with the Loki Familia and how he fought against the Goliath solo, Hestia could feel the excitement of the fight and it made her own heart rate increase. Unfortunately, immediately after that, Vahn began talking about his interactions with the Loki Familia from then onwards. This included him bathing with the girls of the main group and the confessions between him and Tiona. He also talked about the ‘sexual education’ he received from Riveria and the subsequent promises with Tiona and Ais.

Vahn even went into detail about his interactions with other girls, all the way up until his fight with the Juggernaut and succumbing to the mental attack. After his awakening, Vahn had changed and began to seek out and interact with people with a new mindset and entered actual relationships with women. He made a lot of promises and even charged into the heart of the Loki Familia where he clashed with her ‘rival’ Loki head on.

After that, Vahn tried to mention his rendezvous with the two girls but Hestia put her hands over his mouth and cut off his airflow to prevent him from speaking further. He opened his eyes and looked up at her and saw she had a frustrated expression on her face as she said, “I don’t need those kinds of details you dummy~!” Vahn nodded his head in compliance and she finally let him breathe again so he returned to his story while skipping some of the more intimate details.

The remainder of the story including his daily life living with the Anubis Familia and his eventual date and engagement with Eina and Hephaestus. Though he wasn’t there for it, Vahn also included some of the details he heard second-hand about the meeting of the various women in his life and how Tina became his ‘Vahnguard’ to prevent him from deviating in a dangerous direction. After that, Vahn talked about his transition and how he tried to act with more propriety while improving his relationships with various people in a more natural manner.

Everything wrapped up with Vahn’s emotional recounting of the kidnapping of Tina and Milan, his subsequent rescuing of them, and his pursuit of Laverna and the captain of her Familia, Kuji. He talked about how Laverna had been killed, without revealing the identity of the assassin, and how his relationships with some girls had fundamentally changed as a result. After that, events began to line up with Hestia’s own understanding and the story finally came to an end as she looked at Vahn’s complacent expression with gentle eyes and a thoughtful expression.

Though she had heard much of the story from Hephaestus, Loki, Anubis, and Eina, it was a distinctly different thing to hear it directly from the person that experienced all of the events. Hestia now understood the complexities of the relationships around Vahn and realized that her actions in confronting the other girls were somewhat selfish. She resolved herself to meet the other girls and determine for herself how serious they were about Vahn before making any decisions that might influence his relationships with them. However, she also swore to herself to protect Vahn from anyone that might try to exploit him in the future.

Stroking Vahn’s hair, Hestia looked down on him like he was something very fragile that she needed to protect at all cost. Because she had been the one living her life for the last several million years, she knew what kind of personality she had better than anyone else. She was needy, somewhat lazy, and moderately possessive of the few things that she kept close to her heart. Just like when people tried to treat Hephaestus poorly, Hestia would always go out of her way to cause a scene to try and draw the attention to her. She hated seeing the people she cared about suffer injustices more than anything else.

With her knowledge regarding herself, Hestia knew that she would be very reliant on Vahn the more he treated her kindly. Since he seemed to defer to her and even liked the way she acted, it made her feel secure to continue acting openly without restraint while around him. Even if she pushed things a little too far, she knew Vahn wouldn’t do anything to hurt her and would probably care for her dearly for the rest of his life. In exchange for letting her act spoiled and treating her well, Hestia decided she would ensure he always had a safe place to return to and would work hard to guarantee that ‘their’ family was always protected…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Subconscious Desire?’,’A lot has happened in three months’,’Hero’s Sanctuary’)

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