Saying that quiet apology, Emilia, with her silver hair flowing down her back, emerged out of the room.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when they saw that there was no longer any trace of distress in her words. And Subaru quickly jogged over to her side,
[Subaru: Thank god, good morning, Emilia-tan. Are you feeling better now?]
[Emilia: Ah. En, I’m fine. My body feels completely fine now. Sorry I made you worry]
[Subaru: I see, that’s good. You know, since I wasn’t with you when you fell down, I was really worried if maybe you bumped into something. So you see, the only way we won’t have to worry about each other is if I never leave your side]
[Emilia: ――yeah, I guess you’re right]
Already preparing his posture for some kind of comeback to his joke, Subaru slightly furrowed his brows at Emilia’s unexpected reply. Her eyes were lowered, and were staring at Subaru’s hand. Wondering what it might be, Subaru tilted his head, and held his hand out to her.
[Subaru: What is it? Maybe you suddenly miss the feeling of my palm? If that’s the case, I can hold your hand all night long if you want]
[Emilia: Eh, ah……I-I’m alright. That’s not it. I’m just kind of, still half asleep]
Just before touching Subaru’s outstretched palm, as if suddenly remembering something, Emilia shook her head. And as her last word fell, the girl in maid’s uniform walked over,
[Ram: Emilia-sama. More than anything, it’s wonderful that you’ve woken up safely. If possible, please don’t overexert yourself, and tell me how you’re really feeling]
[Subaru: Oy. You’re making it sound as if Emilia’s hesitating to tell me the truth or something]
[Ram: In front of someone who isn’t a fellow woman, or should I say a guy who’s always trying to show off, there are certain things that one might find hard to say. Please show enough consideration to notice that and get out of the room]
[Subaru: I wish I could show that kind of consideration but……]
While Ram was giving him a sharp glare, Subaru’s words suddenly trailed off as he dropped down his eyes. Ram furrowed her brows at this, but soon seemed to understand when she followed Subaru’s gaze downward…
…to see the tips of Emilia’s white fingers――timidly wrapping onto Subaru’s hand, that was dangling at his side.
[Emilia: Eh, ah!]
Late to notice Subaru and Ram’ meaningful gazes, Emilia quickly let go of his hand. Her cheeks blushing bright red as if everything she did just now had been unconscious, she started panicking,
[Emilia: N-not like that. That was really weird, ok? I, really didn’t mean to do that……because, I already decided I wouldn’t, you know]
[Subaru: Yeah you did draw it back at first, and then grabbed my hand anyway. I liked it so I won’t complain, but, are you really alright, Emilia-tan?]
Asking this question with still some lingering yearning for the fingertips that had been pulled away, he saw Emilia firmly nodding her head up and down. Her cheeks were still blushing red, but even Subaru could sense that it was no longer due to embarrassment.
However, Emilia didn’t seem to notice that there was anything strange about her,
[Emilia: I’m sorry I interrupted your conversations. But, I really don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with my body. I was a bit half-asleep before, but I’m fully awake now and fit as a fiddle]
[Subaru: It’s been a long time since I heard someone say “fit as a fiddle”]
[Emilia: Hmph, Subaru’s always like that]
After their old back and forth, as always, Emilia puffed up her cheeks pouting. Seeing her behave just the same as usual, Subaru wondered if he was simply thinking too much into it, and put aside his worries for the time being. But,
[Ram: Emilia-sama. Sorry to bring this up so soon after you have woken up, but, about the Trial…..]
Even though Emilia seemed to have recovered sooner than anyone expected, the moment Ram mentioned the Trial, Emilia’s face tensed up. Subaru, who was watching her intently, noticed this momentary change, but by the next instant, she had already hidden it behind a smile.
[Emilia: So…..um, everyone already knows about the Trial’s contents?]
[Ram: We heard it from Barusu. Of course, we didn’t get into any details. Emilia-sama, we realize there must be things you would rather not be asked about]
[Emilia: I, I see, Subaru……eh? How could Subaru…? I mean, Subaru isn’t Half-Blooded, how could he take the Trials……]
Surprised, Emilia looked toward Subaru, and, as if with the same question, everyone else fixed their eyes onto Subaru as well. It was only natural they would ask this, and receiving their gazes, Subaru thought for a moment about how he should answer,
[Subaru: I told you before I went in. I got the Qualifications. Who it came from is a bit hard to explain, but I could tell you where……it was, probably when I went into the Tomb the evening before]
[Garfiel: By evening, y’mean when you suddenly went fainted and I had to drag you all th’way here?]
[Subaru: Yeah, that’s right. I’m not sure exactly how or why I got it……but that should’ve been it. Maybe when a guy without Qualifications walks in, he gets baptized or something, and afterwards he’ll be allowed to go in. Wouldn’t it be a surprise if Roswaal could go in too?]
[Garfiel: Let’s send Roswaal in t’check, it’ll be hilarious watchin’ him bouncin out. Be just like checkin’ if “Purinpas’ blood drips the same shade o’red”]
Garfiel opened his mouth laughing, but as soon as he saw Ram’s cold stare, he made a “you’re no fun” face and closed his mouth. And then, although Ram still didn’t seem convinced by Subaru’s answer,
[Ram: In any case, it’s a fact that Barusu went in and brought Emilia-sama out, and during that time, took the same kind of Trial as Emilia-sama did, and, if his words weren’t entirely delusional, managed to pass it]
[Subaru: Delusional… that hurts, oy]
[Emilia: Managed to pass it…… Subaru, passed the Trial?]
While Subaru was complaining about Ram’s merciless word choice, Emilia’s ears didn’t seem to catch the rest of that interaction. With flickering eyes, she looked at Subaru, and,
[Emilia: You really passed it, Subaru? The……past?]
[Subaru: The one I saw would’ve been different from Emilia-tan’s. Besides I……couldn’t have done it on my own]
His mother and father, who should have been the obstacles in his path, instead gave him the greatest encouragement in the end. And, more importantly, even before challenging the Trial, Subaru’s heart already had the answers.
Although it was unfair to Emilia, they had gone into their Trials with very different conditions.
[Subaru: I just lucked out and got a nice test result, that’s all. I’m more concerned about Emilia-tan, though. From the looks of it, I guess your Trial didn’t go too well……]
[Emilia: E-en. That’s right…… I tried my best, but it suddenly broke off half way through]
[Subaru: That was probably because I woke you up, I think, sorry…… But then, is re-taking the Trials even possible? Instead of continuing to the other two Trials, I just got sent back here]
Listening to Emilia’s faltering words, Subaru turned to Lewes and asked this question. Sitting there quietly in the corner, the old hag who looked like a little girl touched a hand to her cheek.
[Lewes: There weren’t many precedents but……you should be able to challenge multiple times. I myself did not pass beyond the first Trial, but I challenged twice. What bothers me the most, though, is Su-bo, who received the Qualifications]
[Lewes: Suddenly becoming qualified out of the blue should not be possible. At least, as far as I know, having been here since the time when the Tomb was first created……it shouldn’t be. But I might have a rough idea] (***Lewes said before that she wasn’t around when the Tomb was first created, but this time she is explicitly saying that she is. – TC)
After that, Lewes fell silent. Even though he felt something was off about Lewes’ words and demeanor, Subaru kept it to himself for the moment, and turned to Emilia,
[Subaru: Either way, it’s officially confirmed that it’s possible to re-take the Trials. So now, it’s just a question of Emilia-tan]
[Subaru: Yeah, that’s right. I just have to ask――Emilia-tan, do you still have the resolve to challenge the Trials again?]
At that question, Emilia’s throat clogged up and her eyes opened wide.
If she became angry at her determination being called into question, or if she felt insulted and indignant, Subaru was prepared to be yelled at and to take on her reproach.
However, within her trembling, violet eyes, there was only a faint flicker of anxiety and fear.
Her heart being eaten away by these negative emotions was such that she could not give an immediate reply.
[Subaru: If you can’t take the Trials, I will take them for you]
[Emilia: ――!? But Subaru, that’s……]
[Subaru: At least I’ve already cleared the first Trial. That means breaking through the other two Trials won’t be impossible either. So, if you’re having any second thoughts about going back into the Trials, I will gallantly do it for you. It’s the reason I am here, after all]
[Emilia: For a reason like that……for, me……?]
[Subaru: Of course]
Emilia faltered as if she was preparing to be denied, but Subaru answered her loud and clear.
Watching her eyes widen as her emotions intensified, Subaru stared straight into her eyes,
[Subaru: I am here for you, and if you are scared, I will do it for you. Even if Roswaal or anyone else says that Emilia-tan has to be the one to liberate the Sanctuary, or that it has to be your achievement……Whatever I achieve, whatever praise I might receive, I devote them all to you. So I don’t mind]
[Emilia: Why would you……do so much for me……]
[Subaru: Didn’t I tell you before? Because I fell in love with you, because I fell super in love with you]
Emilia’s breath stopped, and the faces of everyone in the room showed some kind of reaction.
Subaru didn’t pay them any mind, and only fixed his gaze on the shaken Emilia, and shrugged,
[Subaru: That’s why, I plan to challenge the Trials. What about you, Emilia-tan? If it’s really too hard, it’s ok if you want to sleep in the house]
[Emilia: ――――Subaru you, blockhead]
Seeing the corners of Subaru’s lips drawing upward, Emilia slightly pouted her lips.
Then, lifting up her downcast face, she forcefully wiped her eyes, and turned her lips into the shape of a smile.
[Emilia: When you say it like that, how can I just shut myself in a room and wait. You know…… you’re reeaaally unfair. Reeaaally dumb. And I reeaaally…… thank you]
[Subaru: Eh? Wha? What was that last one? You reeaally love me too?]
[Emilia: Totally wrong! I was gonna say I’m really grateful and……]
[Subaru: Oh. I see. Even though I heard it this time, can I just hear it one more time please!]
[Emilia: Subaru you blockhead!!]
Getting carried away, Subaru held his ear right up to her, when Emilia shouted back at the top of her lungs.
Even if her voice was as beautiful as silver chimes, with a direct hit on his eardrums at this volume, it was nothing less than a sonic weapon. Subaru looked like he was about to pass out, but still managed to throw Emilia a smile as she huffed her shoulders up and down.
[Subaru: See, that’s more like it. Alright, then let’s give it our best again. I’ll start on Stage 2, Emila-tan on Stage 1]
[Emilia: Hrmph. I’ll catch up before you know it, then I’ll just keep going, and I’ll be sure to leave you way behind in the dust. Subaru’s achievements or whatever, I won’t leave you a single one]
[Subaru: Not a single one? But I’ll need at least one for a chance to come bother Emilia-tan for a reward or two afterwards]
Seeing Subaru still not learning his lesson, Emilia pouted up her lips and poked out her tongue.
During this back and forth between them, Subaru wondered if he had managed to help just a little in getting her back on her feet.
One way or another, the real Trials are only beginning.
[Subaru: With me and Emilia-tan’s Love-Love-Power, the Trials or whatever will be a piece of cake]
Clicking his fingers and sparkling his teeth, Subaru expressed his resolution by striking a thumbs-up.
Listening to his words, Emilia only stuck out her tongue, and,
[Emilia: It’s more than enough with just me. Tomorrow I’ll show you, I can do it on my own without Subaru looking after me]
And, this way, she kept up her strong facade in front of him.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Watching Subaru and Emilia taunting each other and pumping each other up, Lewes brought the already cold tea up to her lips.
Tasting its faint, lingering warmth on the tip of her tongue, she fondly watched the conversation between the silver-haired Half-Elf and the black-haired youth.
[Lewes: Where will things go from here, I wonder…… Would everything really happen as Witch-sama intended?]
[Garfiel: Kheh. Who knows. No matter which way it turns, I a’ready know it’ll be something that’ll make me wanna puke]
Listening to Lewes’ mutterings, Garfiel replied in a voice that didn’t intend to hide his displeasure.
Watching the side of the youth’s face, Lewes quietly sighed in a way that no one else could have noticed,
[Lewes: To force such burdens on these kind children. How egregious the sins of this ancient self must be…… We are beyond redemption. ――At least, I hope it doesn’t come to that in the end]
Tilting the tea to her lips, those words fell without having reached anyone, and only stirred up a small wave on the surface of the lukewarm amber-colored tea ―― which, too, vanished without a trace.
-=Chapter 21 End=-
Sorry this came out a few days later than I thought, I’m still feeling sick, and my brain can’t seem to get it the way I want it.
I hope I didn’t mess up too badly with this chapter, if you see any way to word things better please let me know!
Chapter 22 Live Draft: