I don't own Ancient Magus' Bride or any of the characters.
Chise's thoughts wandered as she dried her hair in front of the bathroom mirror. It wasn't uncommon for her; she often found herself lost in her daydreams. But after taking her nightly bath, she couldn't stop thinking about her mage.
Elias held Chise tight, despite her protests. He had thrown the rags off of her and deposited her into the bathtub.
"Don't act like a kitten," he told the frightened girl.
Chise couldn't help it. She barely knew the creature getting up close and personal with her, and from her background, expected the worst. It only took a short while for her to calm down, however.
Not only was a bath a luxury, but the water was warm. It was somewhat relaxing, to say the least. But, on top of that, Elias was gentle with her. His hands, while firm in trying to wash her, were in no way harsh to her. She couldn't help being amazed at his patience.
When Elias left, Chise definitely felt humiliated. He had washed her against her will, after all. But she felt two things; clean and cared for. She was grateful for the act of kindness shown to her—- embarrassing though it be.
Chise's thoughts were on a smaller detail in the story, however. She had noticed over the months that Elias never took off his gloves. And reminiscing on how he had bathed her, she realized that he was wearing gloves even then. She couldn't stop pondering over how strange it was that he kept his hands covered in every circumstance.
Chise shook her head to clear her thoughts and walked into the pair's shared bedroom. She slipped under the covers, still contemplating the strange attire.
Elias looked down from the book he was holding.
"Is something the matter, Chise?"
The girl looked up into Elias' eyes, nodded once, and gave a small sigh before speaking what was on her mind.
"I've just been wondering why you wear gloves all the time."
Elias was still for a moment of confusion, and then he set his book down. "I suppose it is because I want to hide as much of my beastly traits as possible from humans," he said thoughtfully. "When I bought you, I didn't want you to be more frightened than you already were. Gloves give a barrier between me and whomever I touch."
Chise nodded slowly. "In that case... do you still need to wear them all of the time?"
Elias' shoulders stiffened at the question, but he answered anyway. "Chise, I don't want you to be afraid of me," he said quietly.
"What?" Chise asked gently. "Why would I be scared of you?"
"Because a monster would be touching you," Elias responded. Although his voice remained steady, there was a sad undertone in it.
Chise's face fell at the sentence and she climbed into Elias's lap to hug him. "I don't think you're a monster," she muffled into his shirt. "You're the most caring person I know. Your form doesn't frighten me at all, and it definitely doesn't determine what makes a monster."
Elias wrapped his arms around Chise and held her tight against him. "I'm glad you think so," he responded.
Chise pushed gently against his chest so she could look into his eyes. "And if you don't want to take your gloves off, it's alright with me," She said as she placed a hand on his jaw.
Elias thought for a moment. "But... you want me to, correct?" He asked softly.
"May I ask why?"
Chise looked away as heat rose to her face. "Well, I don't really care much about what you look like. I just want to be able to feel your touch."
Elias' jaw opened slightly at the comment, and he started to pull on one of the gloves.
"B-b-but you don't h-have to do it if you don't w-want to," Chise said in exasperation.
Elias stopped momentarily. "I want to," he said simply. "I've wanted to feel you without a layer for some time now, too."
Chise's face turned a brighter shade of red, but she watched Elias pull off his gloves and set them aside. She was surprised to see hands that resembled a human man's in every way except for the color— a plum shade with dark nails.
Chise reached forward slowly and slid her fingers up his palms. Her fingertips just barely made it past them. She marveled at how big they were compared to hers. She gave a small smile to Elias as her embarrassment faded. "See?" She said softly. "I'm not afraid at all."
The two interlocked fingers for a moment before Elias lifted his hand to Chise's face. It stopped in hesitation before reaching her. Chise's expression softened at the action.
"Are you afraid?" Chise's voice broke the silence.
Elias's hand faltered and fell. "Perhaps."
Chise waited for him to keep speaking.
"I'm not sure what feeling is present. My stomach has tension and my muscles are weak. But it also seems as if..." he thought for words to describe his emotion. "It's as if my heart is fluttering and weightless."
Chise smiled. "Yes. It does sound a bit like fear. But I think it sounds more like excitement."
Elias tilted his head. "Excitement?"
"Yes... it's when you want something so badly that you can barely stand it. It makes you happy and nervous at the same time."
"Excitement..." Elias tested the word. "But I always feel this way whenever I'm around you, Chise," he said in confusion.
Chise opened her mouth and closed it as her face became flustered once again. "T-thank you, Elias," she mumbled as she looked away. "I... I feel the same way."
Elias made up his mind and gently touched Chise's face so she would look at him.
Chise's surprised expression melted into a small smile as she tilted her head into Elias' hand. She lifted her own hand to place on top of his. "How do you feel now?" She asked gently.
Elias lifted his other hand to her face so he could pull her in for a nuzzle. "Never better."
As the two fell asleep that night with a small wall being broken down. Though neither had all of their doubts reassured, it was a start.