Chapter 240: Acceptance

When Vahn entered the men’s onsen, Ryuu looked over and noticed he had recovered a bit from his melancholy. She wasn’t that good at encouraging people so she was happy to see that he had figured something out in the time he had asked for. Though he wasn’t ‘bold’, there wasn’t any hesitation in his step as he walked over and entered into the same pool. Showing a gentle smile, Ryuu said, “I’m glad you’re getting back to your usual self.”

Vahn shook his head in response and Ryuu raised her brow a bit before Vahn asked, “Do you mind if I wash your body?” Hearing his words, Ryuu’s mind blanked for a bit without her expression changing. Tilting her head a little to the left, Ryuu said, “Maybe not your usual self after all?” Vahn laughed when he heard her question-like statement. Without approaching, and possibly upsetting her, Vahn showed a confident smile and explained, “I realized that I’ve been bottling up too many things lately. There are many people close to me that I haven’t treated in a manner deserving of their affection. I want to try and steadily improve myself and slowly gain experience so I make fewer mistakes in the future.”

Ryuu stared blankly into his face for a few seconds before a light smile showed on her lips and she stood from the pool, revealing her uncovered body which had turned slightly flushed from the heat of the onsen. Vahn could tell it wasn’t from embarrassment since her aura was stable and her expression hadn’t changed much even when he let his eyes wander a bit. Placing her hands on her abdomen, Ryuu asked, “Does my body interest you so much?”

Vahn looked into her sky blue eyes and let a natural smile appear on his face as he answered honestly, “Yes, I’ve thought you were beautiful ever since we first met. Even though it might sound strange, I can’t help but be drawn to your body and want to learn more about it, about you…Ryuu.” In a manner similar to how she put emphasis on his name, Vahn added a little inflection to Ryuu’s name.

With her eyes squinting a bit, Ryuu walked closer to Vahn until she was standing well within his range, Since he was sitting down while she was standing if Vahn wasn’t holding eye contact with Ryuu he would have gotten eyeful of the hidden garden that emitted a somewhat flowery odor like honeydew. Though only slightly, Ryuu’s smile widened a bit as she tilted her head and asked, “Not looking?” Even though her expression hadn’t changed much, Vahn heard a notification saying Ryuu’s affection had increased from 95 to 96 and her aura had taken on a slightly pink hue.

His smile still on his face, Vahn continued to stare into Ryuu’s eyes and remarked, “Your eyes…they’re like the vibrant sky on a sunny day and you…you’re like a breath of fresh air that helps calm the soul.” Even though he felt somewhat awkward, Vahn was trying his best to flatter Ryuu similar to elven traditions. After his words fell, for the first time since they had met, Vahn saw Ryuu cover her mouth as an almost inaudible chuckle sounded.

Even without any effort of his own, Vahn’s smile widened further and he felt happy feelings spread through his heart. Without responding to his compliment directly, Ryuu said in a low voice, “You can wash my body…just be gentle.” Though he understood there was no implication behind it, Vahn couldn’t help but swallow a bit of saliva as he grabbed a sponge and stood directly in front of Ryuu. Like Vahn, Ryuu was also 165cm tall and their eyes were perfectly aligned with each other’s as Vahn began to gently lather up her body. Even though she tacitly agreed to let him look at her body, Vahn was focused more on the efforts of his hands and the response from Ryuu. Since he had grown accustomed to massages, Vahn entered a somewhat focused state whenever he used his hands to tend to the body of a girl.

As Vahn went about his actions, Ryuu continued to watch him silently with a bit of intrigue hidden deep within her sky-blue eyes. Even though she had agreed to bathe with him, Ryuu still had some inhibitions about letting Vahn touch her body easily. She had opened up a bit after he had given her a few massages, but it didn’t make the thought of exposing herself any easier, at least up until now. Just as usual, Vahn had a very serious and caring demeanor and he paid a lot of attention to his actions. He wasn’t overly forward, nor did he focus on any of her sensitive areas, and he was always gauging her response throughout the entire process. Any inhibitions she might have had slowly melted away and dispersed into the hot water around them as Ryuu slowly entrusted her body to Vahn’s care.

Vahn noticed that Ryuu’s aura became a darker shade of pink and looked to her face to see she had closed her eyes. Even though the color had deepened, Ryuu’s aura had actually become more stable, almost mellow, and Vahn could tell she was relaxing. With a smile appearing on his face, Vahn continued his efforts so as not to tarnish the trust she had placed in him. Since they had known each other for quite a while at this point, Vahn knew how resistant Ryuu was to being touched. Seeing her opening herself fully to him made him feel happy and many of the negative feelings that had been lurking in the back of his mind felt like they were draining away, almost as if they had never existed in the first place and had been a figment of his imagination.

After wiping down her entire body, Vahn moved on to an area that he had been curious about for a long time. However, instead of directly advancing just to sate his own curiosity, Vahn asked, “Do you mind if I touch your ears?” The eyes of Ryuu, that had been closed for several minutes, opened as she turned her gaze and met Vahn’s. For a pure-blooded elf, their ears were incredibly sensitive and only close family and lovers were typically allowed to touch them. Though he hadn’t explicitly said it, Ryuu understood that Vahn was making a slow advance on her and left the final decision on her shoulders.

Though she never expected to find them in the first place, Ryuu still looked into Vahn’s aquamarine eyes as if she were looking for any type of deceit or malicious intent. She had long wanted to follow him, ever since their first meeting, but Ryuu still had inhibitions because of her nature and past traumas. After confirming that Vahn’s eyes were crystal-clear, Ryuu showed a smile and replied in a low, moderated, tone,”Go ahead…Vahn.”

Hearing her call him by name again, Vahn’s smile grew and he lathered a bit of soap on his fingers as he reached forward and, very gently, caressed Ryuu’s ears. Though she did her best to control her expression, Ryuu wasn’t able to prevent a blush from beginning to rise up from her neck. By the time he had stroked the entire outer boundaries of her long ears and rubbed her lobes with his thumb, the blush had spread all the way to her face and was slowly creeping its way onto Ryuu’s ears. Though her expression didn’t change much, Vahn couldn’t help but appreciate her reaction so he whispered, “How can you be so adorable… you’re making my heart race.”

As if to prove his claim, Vahn gingerly reached for Ryuu’s right hand and placed it on his bare chest. Just as he stated, Vahn’s heart was beating rapidly due to the jubilant feelings and excitement that had been welling up inside him. Ryuu focused on the feeling from on her hand as the burning sensation that had crept into her ears slowly began to fade away. She had been somewhat tempted to grab Vahn’s hand as well so that she could place it on her chest and show how fast her own heart was beating. However, she knew Vahn was already aware of that fact so she just leaned forward and pressed her forehead against his chest and kept silent.

Since there wasn’t anything more intimate than her letting him touch her ears, Vahn took Ryuu’s actions to imply she was okay with him touching her body. Though she was still soapy and covered in a slightly reflective layer of sweat and water, Vahn ran his hands from Ryuu’s shoulders until they came to a stop at the small of her back. Without doing anything too untoward, Vahn just gently embraced the naked body of Ryuu against his for a few minutes until she had calmed down. Though he wasn’t aware of the missed opportunity earlier, Vahn could now feel the heartbeat of Ryuu through his own chest.

When Ryuu had finally relaxed, she soaked in the water to rinse off before helping Vahn clean himself as well. Though he hadn’t really expected her to hesitate, Vahn was still somewhat surprised to see how easily Ryuu kept her bearing while she washed his body. She even, completely unabashedly, wiped down his p**** without any hesitation or remarks about its size. Though Vahn wasn’t entirely sure why, he felt somewhat happy that she didn’t show the ‘normal’ reaction that he had seen from almost everyone else, both male and female alike.

As if some kind of wall had been broken down between them, after Vahn had rinsed of his body, he and Ryuu sat down in the pool of hot water to soak for a few more minutes. After he sat against the smooth stone surface, Ryuu had sat down next to him and leaned a bit of her weight against his shoulder. Though it wasn’t as intimate as when they washed each other, it was still something new and completely different from her prior behavior. As a response, Vahn placed his arm around Ryuu’s hip and loosely held her body as the two of them sat in silence and enjoyed the atmosphere.

When it came time to get dressed, Ryuu put on a long-sleeved white shirt that had buttons running down the front. Since she didn’t have any clothes of her own to change into, as she hadn’t gone to her room first, Ryuu wore a shirt that Vahn had purchased during one of his ‘outings’. Seeing the green-haired elven beauty wearing a shirt that was too big for her frame, Vahn could feel his heart pulse powerfully a few times as he tilted his head with an appreciative smile.

Ryuu tilted her head slightly in the same direction as she held up the loose sleeves and asked, “Do you like when I wear your clothing?” Vahn exhaled through his nose a bit to prevent himself from laughing as he responded, “I think its somewhat unique since I’ve never really seen such a beautiful girl wear my clothing. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something…tantalizing about it?”

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As if she wanted to tease him, Ryuu lifted the sleeves slightly higher and revealed the fact that she hadn’t yet worn any panties. Since she wasn’t going to wear her previous pair, and Vahn couldn’t currently gift her any, Ryuu was still naked minus the shirt Vahn had given her. He had offered her a pair of pants afterward, but Ryuu shook her head and said it would be fine for now. Since there were only girls in the house, she didn’t even have any concerns even if she had to walk the corridors naked. Now that she had allowed Vahn to see, and even touch, her body, Ryuu felt significantly less concerned with him seeing her even more.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Lion Taming’,’Sensitive Elven Ears’,’Sacred combination, dress shirt with no-pan on a slender girl’)

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