Chapter 226: Before the Fall

As she had entered first, Hestia had already started removing her godly clothing and Vahn was absolutely shocked by the sight. He could see her outfit peeling away like small white petals that glowed with a divine light as they arranged themselves neatly into a pile. It was something unlike anything Vahn had ever and he was mesmerized by the sight as he tried to make sense of what was happening. By the time Hestia had started undoing her ribbons, she turned her head toward him and froze like a doe in the eyes of a hunter.

Her startled look brought Vahn out of his absentmindedness as he averted his eyes and began trying to rationalize an excuse. Hestia watched him blankly for a few seconds before a smile appeared on her face and she stood with her arms akimbo while completely nude and ‘proudly’ puffed out her chest as she said, “Don’t be afraid~! If it’s just looking, feel free to gaze upon the body of this beautiful goddess~!” Vahn was a bit confused by her words and then realized she thought he was staring at her body, which wasn’t untrue since he had been staring at her dress separate into petals.

Deciding it was better left unsaid and that he could ask about it later, Vahn smiled and gave Hestia’s body an appraising gaze to ‘appease’ her boasting. He noticed that her aura fluctuated slightly when he gazed toward her lower body so he returned his eyes and stared into her’s with a smile on his face as he said, “Beautiful.” His singular word made Hestia’s smile bloom wider as she took a deep breath and acted in a somewhat coy manner as she struck a pose and laughed, “Ehehe, praise me more~!”

Vahn tilted his head and gazed at her body before continuing, “Mmm, you have beautiful and silky black hair. Your blue eyes are beautiful, almost like crystals, and they are deep and calm like pond water. You-” Before he could continue any further, Hestia shouted, “Stop, stop, stop! I get it, you think I’m beautiful, jeez~!” The more he spoke, the faster her heart began to beat and Hestia felt giddy when she saw the serious and ‘appraising’ look on Vahn’s face as he ‘shamelessly’ stared at her body.

After her outburst, Hestia realized something and pointed at Vahn with her index finger and shouted, “It’s your turn to get naked, don’t just stand there gawking~!” Taking the cue she had given him, Vahn nodded his head and walked over to the side and began undressing without any hesitation. Looking over, he could see Hestia staring at him with ‘fiery’ eyes and she blushed slightly when they made eye contact. With a small smile on his face, Vahn finished undressing and performed a pose similar to how Hestia had done so previously.

He was also quite confident in his physique and had grown accustomed to ‘modeling’ for Eva within the orb. Looking toward Hestia, he saw she had a blank look and a wide-eyed expression and he immediately understood where she was looking. With a slight sigh, Vahn stopped holding his pose and grabbed a towel from his inventory and wrapped it around his lower body. His actions made Hestia snap out of her daze and she held out her hands and waved her fingers as she said, “Nononono, it’s okay, you don’t have to cover yourself up~! I-I-I just got distracted a bit, I won’t stare anymore!”

Vahn gave her a curious look for a few seconds before he removed the towel once again. He saw that her body immediately froze and was about to cover himself again before she started laughing as she walked over to him and grabbed his arm, “Don’t mind it, let’s go take a bath~! Just act casually~.” Being dragged along by a small, completely naked, goddess was a strange experience so Vahn walked forward to keep pace so no accidents would occur.

During the bath, Vahn acted in a ‘natural’ manner and made polite conversation with Hestia about everything that had happened during the day. She responded to his words in a similar manner, but the entire time they were in the bath Vahn could see her aura dancing about as she kept taking sidelong glances at his body. In exchange, Vahn also took glances at her body but in a less secretive manner that caused Hestia to act both flustered while she also tried to act ‘proud’ without concealing anything.

When it came time for them to wash their bodies and rinse off, Hestia tried to boldly offer to wash his back but Vahn shook his head and explained, “Thanks for the offer, but I don’t want you to stress yourself out more than you already are. Just relax and enjoy the-” Before he could finish, Hestia had already lathered up her body a bit and picked up two orange, circular, sponges as she began to scrub his back with an “Ei, Ei, Ei~! Don’t worry about me, I want to wash your body~!” Looking back, Vahn could see Hestia had a somewhat ‘dizzy’ look in her eyes as she laughed in a strange manner and continued trying to wash his back.

He released a short sigh before a small smile appeared on his face as he leaned forward to open up his back for her. It wasn’t the first time a girl had washed his back and Vahn always enjoyed it in the past. Since she wanted to push herself even when he tried to dissuade her, Vahn decided to see how far she would push things. It would likely not be long before they lost the ability to enjoy moments like this, so Vahn also wanted to experience a bit of her awkward affection and advances.

While he was absentmindedly letting Hestia scrub away at his back with the sponges, Vahn suddenly felt an incredible soft sensation on his back that made his eyes immediately snap open as he stood up in the pool. Hestia fell onto her butt in the process as Vahn looked back at her with a mildly incredulous look on his face. She rubbed her butt with her hands and answered his silent question, “I heard that boys like it when a girl washes their back with their breasts…”

Vahn released a heavy sigh and explained, “I imagine it is a very pleasant thing, but that doesn’t mean you need to go so far Hestia. I don’t mind a bit of skinship, but if you keeping pushing yourself like this you’ll overstress your body and mind. We’re not in that kind of relationship yet so we should show a certain amount of restraint before things escalate.” Vahn had slightly furrowed brows and said each of his words seriously. He knew that Hestia was pushing herself for some reason and couldn’t understand why she was putting in so much effort even though she clearly wasn’t prepared.

Hestia had a sad and frustrated look on her face as she silently listened to Vahn’s lecture. Since he was standing up and she was still sitting on her butt, there was a big difference between their heights and she had tears welling up in her eyes that made Vahn feel like he had just abandoned a puppy or something. Releasing another sigh, Vahn kneeled down and began rubbing her head as he looked into her sad blue eyes and asked, “Please tell me if there is something wrong…we’re family, remember?”

The frown on Hestia’s face grew a bit and she seemed to be measuring her words before she said, “I feel scared…even though we’re family and will be together always, I feel like the other girls will take you away from me. I imagine living in the house while you act lovey-dovey with other girls and the only thing I can do is lay in my own bed alone. I know there will be people moving in soon, and a lot of them with be people you have some kind of relationship with…so I want to spend more time together before you no longer need me anymore.”

Vahn was incredibly confused by her words because he both understood what she was trying to say while at the same time couldn’t make sense of it at all. He wanted to promise that he would never abandon her like that, but he also knew that it would be awkward if she slept in his bed when he was with his other women. Especially when things developed to the point where he was having sex, there was no way she would be comfortable with staying off to the side. Vahn was very confused at this moment because he knew Hestia was the type that wanted to be spoiled and she also had a somewhat possessive personality, but Vahn didn’t think she would act this way after knowing about his other relationships.

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With a bit of hesitation, Vahn grit his teeth and felt a bit of anxiety in his chest as he asked, “Hestia…do you like me?” Even though he could see her affection, nothing indicated she was in love with him even though she acted without many inhibitions around him. Hestia’s frown also grew deeper as her brows were furrowed low like she was about to start crying, “I just don’t want to be the only person left out…I don’t know how I feel at all, but I know it makes me frustrated when you’re with other girls. Though I can tolerate Hephaestus, and some of the others, I feel like there will be many more in the future and I won’t have a place at all other than being your goddess…”

Vahn took a deep breath and cradled the sides of Hestia’s head in his palms as he wiped away the few tears that were falling down her face. He said in a solemn tone, “Hestia, I would never abandon you…no matter what happens.” After a bit of hesitation, Vahn continued, “Even though we only just met, it feels like I had been waiting to meet you for a long time…longer than I can even explain.” Since he had imagined meeting her in his previous life, Vahn’s words weren’t a lie and Hestia could see it on his face.

Hestia’s sad expression turned into a moderately happy one as she placed her hands overtop Vahn’s and asked, “Did you fall in love with me at first sight~?” Vahn laughed a bit and had a smile on his face as he said, “I don’t have a proper understanding of love to be able to make a claim like that. All I know is, even before we got to know each other, I could tell you were a kind, gentle, and beautiful girl. I feel like I want to pamper you and make you happy, and you’re also the first person to become my family…you’re already something irreplaceable to me Hestia.”

As his words finished, Hestia hugged Vahn as if she had tackled him and they both fell back into the water. Vahn was entirely submerged for a moment before he managed to lift his upper body and head out of the water. Even though they were naked, Hestia sat in his lap in an almost dangerous position and looked into his eyes with a happy expression on her face. She hugged around his neck and the glimmer in her eyes seemed to increase in intensity as she whispered in a low voice, “If I’m already someone so important to you…maybe it would be okay if we became even closer…”

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Hestia’s expression and their current position made Vahn’s head buzz as his emotions began to rise up in his body. Seeing the excitement on his face, Hestia’s smile expanded further and her eyes squinted a bit before she leaned forward and kissed Vahn on the lips. Vahn was a bit surprised and moved his hands to embrace her before he realized he had been supporting his body with those same hands so they both fell back into the hot water. Almost as if she was unaware of the change, Hestia continued to kiss Vahn even when they were completely submerged.

For a brief moment, Vahn began to panic since he had never been in such a situation before. Then, as if remembering he was actually much stronger than she was, Vahn managed to lift himself out of the water and temporarily separate from Hestia. Seeing his flustered expression, Hestia began to laugh in a cheerful, yet subtly mischevious manner, as she stood up out of the water and said in a low voice as if speaking to herself, “Even if I joined the race a little late, it doesn’t mean I can’t cross the finish line before some of the others!”

As if she had found her resolve, Hestia began to laugh for a few seconds in a very cheerful manner before turning to Vahn and leaning forward slightly while saying, “Let’s go to bed Vahn~! This time, I want you to put all your efforts into the massage. Even if you want to…even if…” Any semblance of confidence on her face began to break and Hestia struggled a bit before finally saying, “Even if you want to do more…I won’t stop you.”

Vahn had still been sitting in the hot water watching Hestia walk away while he was trying to process everything that happened. He wasn’t sure exactly how their relationship had changed, but Vahn knew there was more to the kiss they shared than normal affection. Hearing her words, Vahn swallowed a bit and began to feel nervous as he stared at Hestia’s pure white butt shift from side-to-side as she slowly walked away. Vahn resolved himself that, if things got too out of hand, he would have to help her ‘relax’ to prevent things from progressing in a dangerous direction. Until he kept his promise with Hephaestus, Vahn wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if he made a move on her best friend…

(A/N: Alternate Title: ‘Mysterious Clothing’,’Progressively More Awkward’,’Hestia’s Death Sentence’)

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