Dedication Through Hymnos
Chapter 5: Guarding One's Heart
Written by: wrathie
Original Concept: Gust & Branpresto
Author's Notes: I don't know if I ended the chapter well enough, but this is my insight on Sakia from the limited scenes we get..
It is well known that everyone liked bathing and soaking in the bath, especially so when it is an exceptionally cold night as the hot water would make it more comfortable for them to sleep.
Cleaning up after one has gone through a hard day's work is refreshing too.
Sometimes, it was too comfortable, the girl known as Cocona thought bitterly while soaking her whole body in the hot water.
It greatly helped to ease her frazzled nerves as she felt all the worries for the day disappear by simply closing her eyes and lying in the bath.
She was alone in the bath as she had wanted to polish her V-boards for the next day, one thing led to another and she ended up taking it for a spin, practicing all of her moves repeatedly till it was dinner time before she knew it
Not one to miss dinner with her friends, she had opted to bath after it despite the discomfort that she felt from the sweat and grime due to her exercise.
She had hoped that some of the girls like Finnel or Tyria would have waited for her to have their bath together but her hopes were dashed when she saw them with their hair tied up while waiting for it to dry.
Bath time with the other girls in her party was another enjoyable time that she enjoyed and which is a daily staple regardless of she being here or in her home in the 2nd tower.
There she had Lady Cloche and Luca-san, not to mention Sasha and Lady Frelia when she has the time. It was enjoyable but a little lonely as they treated her like a child.
She was with equals here and she enjoyed the conversations they had during their baths, the discussions they had over the day's event as well as about the items that they received from Aoto when he synthesizes, she must admit that the boy has great skill in it and probably surpasses Cro in the same field.
So she had resigned herself to having a bath by herself with the excitement and the energetic chatter from her fellow friends.
In a way it was good too, it made her feel calmer and more relaxed than she had been in days as she could recollect herself, rearranging her thoughts while letting her body slip under the water for a bit to soak her head in as well.
It is nice to be in the woman's bath after a long time masquerading as Tatsumi, her alter-ego and it has been even harder to get over that sudden onslaught of fear that she felt when someone opened the door to the bath.
That fear was courtesy of Aoto of course, barging into the bath without warning at all.
Now that she remembered what had happened to her, it was not surprising when she jumped a little as the door tentatively opened a crack.
Cocona did not know made her want to hold her breath and to stay in that position. Perhaps it's true that curiosity killed the cat as she was sure they weren't any other girls in the Inn tonight, they had been the only customers, having Antibodies running around tend to hit the tourism industry quite hard.
If it was Aoto trying to take a peek at the female's bath, she will kill him personally, leader or not.
But she did not expect the person to be Sakia Lumei, one of Saki-chan's persona and one of the last to show herself to the group. Now she remembered why dinner was a little quieter than usual, Sakia Lumei was still getting used to the group and without Saki-chan's energetic but clueless chatter, it seems something was missing.
It had been a surprise when she eventually showed up, Sakia Lumei wanted to surrender to their enemies despite Aoto begging her not to.
It did not make sense to her then and it did not make sense to her now as she had clarified her actions for doing so. She was not going to ask as well unless she gives up that information willingly, everyone deserve to have their own privacy after all.
As a fellow warrior-type(?) Revyateil like her, Cocona had been impressed by Sakia's swordsmanship skill as she had show it a little when one of the Antibodies had gotten too close to her for comfort and she knocked it back with several masterful strikes at it's abdomen.
Although lacking in strength, she has considerable skill and she had no doubts that Saki's strongest pesona could possibly be a vanguard like her; at least whenever she decided to socialize and be more familiar with the rest of the group.
It is not that she is aloof or shy or has any of those weird eccentric behaviors like Saki or Finnel's persona, it is more of the fact that they did not know how to strike up a conversation with her and it was not that they did not try to make an effort too…
She is just, awkward in socializing… as she tends to treat everyone as if they were her superiors and while it is polite and all, it is very difficult to engage in small talk when she is so serious all the time.
Even Sasha-chan has difficulty in trying to speak with her, something Cocona has never seen before.
The term: Let one's hair down, would be best used on her as she was too uptight for her own good. No doubt it would help her military career as she was similar to Akane-dono, but it will not gain her points in the personal life section.
Even General Akane was more sociable than her, but perhaps Cocona and the rest were too hard on her.
Looking around nervously for anyone present in the bath beside her, Sakia Lumei stepped into the woman's bath with only a towel covering her and then gave a squeak of surprise when she saw Cocona waving at her sheepishly as she surfaced for air.
'C-cocona-san! I… I would not wish to disturb you bathing, I shall take my leave now!'
Bowing to her in a hurry, Sakia Lumei was about to flee for the border when a strong and firm hand reached out and grabbed her, almost making her slip as well.
'No, I don't mind. Please Join me, Sakia-san.'
Using formality as a way to connect to her, Cocona held her breath as she did desperately want to speak with her, converse with her and to get a better understanding of who she is.
Not to mention, she had promised herself to ask the rest about their thoughts of Aoto, Sakia Lumei was not attracted(?) to Aoto per se as she was a little more vocal and aggressive to him as compared to other people,
She does not seem to hold him in a respectful light at all, but could that be her way to say that he was different from the others?
If she is really another Tsundere, she would have a field day…
'Many thanks for inviting me to do so, Cocona-san, but I would surely be in the way…'
Trying to squirm and worm her way out of her grasp, Cocona nonetheless stayed firm and slowly guided Sakia into the hot spring bath with her.
'I'm sure it would be helpful to have you around when Aoto that pervert tries t peep, but make sure you leave me a chance to vent out my frustration on him as well.'
Winking at Sakia, Cocona guessed correctly that with a simple request of help to Sakia would make her settle down without protest. Involuntarily she shivered a little too, was she really turning into a manipulative person like Jakuri-sama as well?
'Your skin, it's so smooth, Sakia-san… I wish I have skin like that.'
Feeling a little awed at the condition of her skin, which Aoto would no doubt declare as that of a young beauty, Cocona frowned at some bruises that she has on her right arm and rubbed at it harder in the water to try and make it a wee bit lighter despite it stinging when she did so.
The toll of being into so many battles from young has shown on her body and she had a few scars from the time she did not guard well or that time that Ayatane had gotten that lucky cheap shot behind her.
Thankfully it really isn't very visible thank to some Healing Magic that Saki had administered after that, but she was flawed…
'You should not feel that way, Cocona-san, it is a symbol of your past victories as well as showcasing your bravery in battle. For myself, I feel envious of your ability and bravery to engage in battle with the enemy even as a fellow Revyateil.
I do wish that I can engage in battle in the same way but Aoto-baka does not wish to harm Saki in any way. I will respect his and her wish to stay protected behind friendly lines although my heart yearns for battle.'
It is perhaps the longest conversation that anyone has with Sakia Lumei so far and Cocona was rewarded with many new and interesting insights on her character.
Was she once again another role model to another girl? Was she really so perfect like everyone says she is? She didn't really want to be a vanguard… no that did not come out right...
She wanted to be a vanguard to be with Cro but she did not think it is something to be proud about, nor was it something that she wanted to be remembered by.
Think about it, every girl wishes to be described as beautiful or cute by someone else, what does everyone view her as anyway?
Cocona knew she is not as beautiful, cute or perfect as Sasha-chan or Finnel-chan or Tyria-san… but STILL! She was cute, right! RIGHT?
Realizing that she must have looked a little odd in her inner monologue, Cocona raised her head and smiled at Sakia to set her mind at ease.
'Daijobu, I just spaced out for a second…'
She was more thoughtful than she imagined as she took Aoto and Saki's wishes to heart despite her wish to battle. She is more sensitive than she gave credit for and it is a very good thing!
She could just make her open up a little, even if it is only to her.. it is a start in the right direction.
'That's just silly, Sakia-san… I'm a girl after all. I'm not proud of these scars… I want to be a beautiful bride, I can't if I have scars all over my body.'
In all honesty that was one of her secret ambitions and Cocona was a little hurt by the look of surprise that she saw on Sakia's face for a brief second. W-was she really so fierce looking that she can't imagine her behaving like a girl of her age?
Or like a girl at all? She really has to change her image if this kept up.
'Do not say that, Cocona-san. I am sure that with the right person, he will not pay heed to your external beauty as much as your internal one. I am certain that you will definitely be a Beautiful bride… I may be selfish in asking this, but I will be honored to attend your wedding as a guest as well.'
Recovering and covering her wrong choices in words almost flawlessly, Cocona found Sakia to be a tough nut to crack when compared to Ar Ru or Finnel as she was more knowledgeable and composed when compared to the two of them.
Meaning that 'cheap' tricks would not reveal her innermost feelings unlike Saki or Finnel, who are most transparent with theirs.
'Ah, Sakia-san is flattering me. I don't think anyone would want me… not when you, Sasha-chan and Finnel-chan are better candidates… I'll just be a violent vanguard who bullies the boys around… I'll be satisfied if just one person would to develop romantic feelings for me.'
It'll be interesting to see that too, a development that has not happened to her knowledge.
Cocona allowed her body to sink deeper into the bath while she sighed and Sakia just looked a little awkward at the direction this conversation is going.
'I am inexperienced in this manner, but you have your own attractive traits as well, Cocona-san. Please pardon my words but you are a very beautiful young lady, be confident in yourself and you shall find happiness. Your determination will ensure nothing will stop you from achieving that.'
Smiling at Cocona, the other girl thought that Sakia was the perfect example of the acronym: 'Do not Judge a Book By the Cover' as she would not have believed Sakia would say that to anyone, even to comfort them unless she had heard it with her own ears.
'Thank you, Sakia-san… I am sorry for bothering you with my worries.'
Sounding a little embarrassed at her ranting a little to Sakia, Cocona bit her lip before asking her for another favor, this time a more intimate one as she waded towards Sakia, who was relaxing in the other end of the bath.
'e-eh? Is there something wrong, Cocona-san?'
Seeming a little conscious of her body, Sakia blushed red when Cocona whispered her request.
'Is it alright if we help each other wash our backs? It's a big day tomorrow and I want to be clean. Please!'
Clapping her hands together as she begged, Cocona smiled happily when Sakia reluctantly nodded her head. Sakia really did look cute embarrassed like that and Cocona managed to facepalm internally, was that how Soraneko-san felt for Luca-san? If that is the case, she really did need to have a talk with sensei about her mental state soon.
Rubbing the soap all over her back, Cocona smiled awkwardly as Sakia made some weird noises when she scrubbed at some places that she felt dirty doing that. But they were just helping each other scrub their backs, they were not doing something wrong!
'Sakia-san… if you feel uncomfortable…'
She asked softly but Sakia was too polite to refuse her and she shook her head bravely.
'No, I am just not used to being in close contact with another person, Cocona-san. Ever since I undertook the mission, I know I have changed much from who I am. I have kept many things from Saki-chan and all of you… to feel distrustful of me is normal.'
Blinking a little at her reply, Cocona realized that the second half of her answer was blurted out inadvertently as she lowered her head. So she had been keeping it inside herself as well and knowing that made it much easier for Cocona to speak to her about it as she petted her head gently while shaking her head.
'Everyone has their reasons for doing the things that they did. Even if we don't understand it now, we will if you tell us. It might take some time, but we know you really meant no harm.'
Thinking about it, she scrubbed a little harder and that cause Sakia to wince in pain at the treatment she is receiving.
'Not everyone is forgiving though, so you'll have to be patient a little too, desho~'
Smiling and giving her a surprise hug from behind, wrapping her arms around her naked body before nibbling her ears in an affectionate way, Cocona made Sakia turn redder than ever.
'I know Saki-chan has accepted you and forgive you so there's no reason for us not to. The Saki-chan that I like and know is very forgiving, but if she is alright in calling you Sakia-Onee-chan she really trusts you. Everything you did so far was to protect Saki-chan to some extent… even though I wonder why you entrusted Saki to Aoto in the first place.'
It is a question that she had been dying to ask for a long time, the first time she met Saki was when Aoto was cornered by those guards. She jumped in without hesitating to help them on impulse and got swept into a series of events that turned out for the best.
Even if there were many situations that seemed hopeless and impossible to accomplish, she accomplished her mission… Now it is time to save the world again!
'Ah… a-about that…'
Scratching her chin in an embarrassed fashion, Sakia confessed to Cocona that she really did not have a choice at the moment.
'I could not allow Saki to be captured nor could I continue to be in charge of my body… Hence I had to entrust her to the brave passerby who came to my aid.'
She swallowed nervously as Cocona grinned mischievously at her as if she had let something slip from her admission.
'Aoto-Baka only has courage as his redeeming trait. Even if he was a random passerby that stuck his nose into another person's business without me asking him too… I cannot help but be thankful it was him. It could have been someone much worse.'
Sakia admitted with a long suffering sigh while Cocona just laughed softly as well.
'… that is another trait of him, desho? But if not for Aoto, we wouldn't be able to do the things that we did. He's an amazing person in many ways.'
'He is, despite all his flaws I am thankful to him.'
'So, do you like him?'
Unexpectedly though, Sakia did not overreact to that question and simply lapsed to a thoughtful silence for a while.
Finally though she spoke and asked Cocona the same question as well.
'Does Cocona-san, like him?'
'I like Aoto. But not in a romantic sense.'
She answered without hesitation and with full confidence in her answer that surprised Sakia with her conviction.
'I am thankful for his guidance and of course for his aid in adjusting to a new life here.'
Grinning, she eased off Sakia and led her to the showers to clean up while she continued.
'Although he seems odd, but he isn't really different from normal boys of his age. He is a very passionate person with a strong sense of justice who has the devil's luck with his side.'
Come to think about it, Aoto does share that trait with Cro too, they have devilish luck that allows them to get away with the most incredible of situations.
'I agree, Cocona-san. Aoto-baka might be insensitive and be a pervert… but he is an admirable person whose bravery has impressed me in many occasions. What you said about him is true, all of it. That is why I might like Aoto, that is all.'
She is straightforward with her feelings, that is for sure and Cocona let out a sigh of relief as the constant stream of water flowed around her neck.
'Unfortunately however, I do not believe I will ever be an object of his affection.'
Her voice seemed down but Cocona simply laughed and returned the same line she used on her.
'I remember someone telling me to be confident in myself and that one's determination will ensure nothing will stop me from finding my happiness, desho? You have a beautiful body along with your skills as a knight… there is nothing stopping you from achieving your dreams but yourself.'
She laughed along with Sakia after she said that. She has her own worries as well but she's coping well despite the stress and strain on her shoulders.
There's no advice that she can give a strong woman like that except for her to be more confident, in herself as well as her own body.
It's a good thing too as she got closer to the only other vanguard(?) in the party, a friendship that she will cherish for a long time.
'… Thank you for listening to me. I have always had my doubts about Aoto-baka and myself.'
'… Ahaha… It really wasn't listening, was it?'
Coming out of the bath, Sakia stopped Cocona before she entered her room to thank her.
'No it was not. Even so, I have to thank you in giving me the opportunity to express myself and my thoughts. I am used to speaking to myself… so it means a lot to me.'
'Mm~ If you ever need someone to talk to, my door is always open.'
Nodding to her, Cocona excused herself after Sakia asked her another question.
'Even so, Cocona-san… do you have someone that you like in a different way then?'
'Who knows… really… neh…?'
Author's Notes: I view Sakia not to be a tsundere, more of a Kuudere.. am I wrong?