"What now?" Eina nervously asked me, her pretty eyes darting around Nec's office and finally resting on the orb that floated under the ceiling.
Seeing her gaze, I seriously said, "We shouldn't touch that. It has many gates and coordinates for teleportation."
"Wouldn't it be nice to go for another adventure?" Eina teased me with a faint smile, her dexterous fingers playing with my braid.
"With you? Always," I replied, tiptoeing to peck her lips and cringing when my rib protested by sending waves of pulsing pain. There was no way I could ignore the fire in my side if things got steamy.
"We should sit down," Eina said to me, worry seeping out of her face.
"Okay," I spat out and supporting myself on her arm, we walked to the comfy seats.
Eina rearranged them a bit so we could have a good look at the night sky and to easily hold hands, like that, we sat in silence. Our fingers intertwined, it was a magical moment, one I so longed for in my previous life. Stealing a glance at Eina, our eyes connected and we giggled, she was doing the same thing.
"Are you mad at me?" She asked me, squeezing my fingers as her smile melted into nothingness.
Raising my eyebrow, I replied with a half laugh, "Why would I be? Look how great it turned out!"
She bit her lip and looked at the stars, their flickering lights reflected in the bottomless azure of her eyes. In a brittle and quiet voice, she said, "I hate myself. I can't even give you that little bit of happiness you need."
My heart revving up, I propped myself up and ignored the pain, using my free hand to cup Eina's chin and turn her face towards mine. Looking into her watery eyes, I seriously said, "I am happy, just you being there is enough. Okay?"
"Okay," She mumbled out and leaned in for a hug that ended with a short kiss. Sniffling, Eina took her slippers off and curled up on her seat, looking at me, our fingers playing with each other. She suddenly chuckled and said, "I can't imagine myself doing this with any man."
"That's because we are cute," I said in a matter of fact tone, hoping to cheer her up. Raising my finger, I seriously said, "I know men like this exist but they are super rare and they would never do that in public."
"We are not in public now," Eina said, cutely pressing her eyebrows together.
"True, I don't think I could do that with people looking at us," I replied with a laugh, hissing in the air when a jolt of pain assaulted me. Cursing under my breath, I said, "I wish I could just drink a potion and be done with this rib."
"At least your fingers got better in the last week," Eina said, carefully caressing my hand.
"The ointment is really good, minty," I said sniffing my hand and smacking my lips in approval at the fresh fragrance. Eina laughed and I reclined in the seat, looking at the beautiful moon, so different yet so familiar from the one I was used to. In a quiet voice, I said to Eina, "I never told you this but I am not all that great."
"What are you talking about?" Eina seriously asked me, leaning in closer and worriedly looking at me.
"I used to lack confidence but it changed since I arrived there," I revealed, feeling a need to vent. Looking at her, I grimaced and continued, "It's tiring, keeping it up at all times. That's why I was so happy when we got together, I can just be myself."
"I understand how you feel," Eina said, her eyes filled with emotion.
Indeed, Eina understood it better than anyone else would, she herself was putting up a front at all times, a more stringent one than I did.
"Let's have our last dance for the evening," I said to her crawling up from the wonderful softness that the seat provided. Ticked off by a sudden realization, I looked at the seat and laughed.
Eina shoved her slippers back on and shot me a quizzical glance. After following my gaze, she asked, "What's funny about these seats?"
"Look!" I replied, carefully sitting down and saying, "I don't like you!"
Before Eina could react to my words, the underside of the seat glowed red, revealing my obvious lie.
"Lie detectors? Really?" Eina spat out, her eyebrows vertical.
"Dad forgot to disable them," I laughed as Eina helped me up. Grinning at her, I said, "At least you know I was being sincere!"
"I knew it even without a chair telling me," She quietly replied, her thumb caressing the top of my palm. That's what she said but I could feel it in her voice, she seemed to be more relaxed now.
Beaming, I dragged her to the gramophone where I was faced by a terrifying task of figuring out how this piece of junk worked. Tapping my chin for a moment, I let go of Eina's hand and picked up one of the vinyl recordings, placing it on the spinning plate and wondering what to do next.
"You need to lower the needle and turn it on," Eina chimed in, pointing at a thin metal arm suspended above the disc.
"Eh? You know how it works?" I asked her, taken aback by the ease with which she deduced it.
"You don't know how a gramophone works? Your dad invented them," She replied with a raised eyebrow.
Pursing my lips, I muttered, "I didn't know." Of course, the old man would recreate some of the toys from our world, using magic as a replacement for the technology necessary to produce them.
"Let's see," Eina said taking over operating the gramophone. She clearly used one before, it took her a few seconds to play the recording and frown at how speedy the melody was. She muttered, "Your dad didn't mark them, we need to look for one that you can dance to."
"What about this one?" I asked, handing her a randomly picked disc.
"Let's see," Eina replied, receiving it from me and skillfully replacing it, "Too fast."
It took us a few minutes to comb through most of them the recordings, we even started to believe that Nec simply forgot to leave a fitting one for us. Luckily, the next vinyl had a soothing melody, perfect for hugging out a calm dance.
Eina shot me a soul-stirring smile and gently pulled me into her embrace and just like that; we danced under the moonlight. This time was different because Eina wasn't distracted by people gawking at us, she smiled like a little girl and carefully spun me around.
When the music stopped, so did we. A passionate kiss was the icing on the cake, the crescendo of our dance. My breathing was getting ragged and my hands lecherously roamed around Eina's body, I loved everything about her shapes and her springy flesh.
And when she did the same, groping me in return, I jumped up and looked at her red face in disbelief. Flashing teeth like an idiot, I said to her, "How brave of you!"
"Look who's talking," She rasped out, licking her lips and then for the first time, her lips roamed below my face.
My quiet moan of pleasure soon transformed into a groan of pain, I had to pull away and bend in half while holding my rib. Furious that I was getting coochieblocked by a shitty injury, I shot Eina an apologetic gaze.
"You need to sit down, Marie," She seriously told me, helping me to the comfy seat.
"When you get healed up, I will show you what this mouth can do," I said to her, sticking out my tongue.
Her face still red, she said, "I didn't want to go that far, just give you a hickey."
Raising my eyebrow and smirking, I said, "Oh, you are welcome to do so!"
"I can't just jump on you! Every time you cringe in pain I do so with you," She said to me, caressing my cheek.
Since we couldn't get down to business, we just relaxed while holding hands and looking at the stars. Eina was actually interested in astronomy so she listed out some of the more interesting stars and constellations to me, I was sure that Nec would be thrilled to show her his telescopes. Time passed and the next thing I knew, someone was whispering into my ear.
I groggily looked at the bearded face and asked, "Wassup?"
"You two fell asleep but its time," Nec whispered to me with a grin, pointing at the other seat.
Eina was still asleep, our fingers were still intertwined despite the passage of several hours. I couldn't help but smile at her serene face.
"I walked in because you weren't reacting to my knocking. Sorry about that," Nec whispered to me.
"It's okay, I was too hurt for... anything," I replied with a blush and quickly added, "I'll wake her up."
Nec nodded his head and stepped back as I gently shook Eina awake. She opened her eyes and asked with a smile, "We fell asleep?"
"Yep, time to go," I said standing up and looking at Nec, "Will you teleport us?"
"Of course," He replied, sitting on his desk and dotingly looking at us.
Eina sprang to her feet and she nervously looked at Nec, "Good afternoon," was the only thing she managed to spit out.
Laughing, Nec replied, "It's the middle of the night but sure, good afternoon."
Reminded of something, I looked at Nec with a frown and complained, "You didn't check which records you gave us! We had to look through them."
"Sorry about that, we were in the middle of a really-" Nec paused there when he saw my face. Laughing apologetically, he said, "My bad, my bad."
"You should go to our room, I need to get back into the infirmary," I said to Eina, holding her hands.
"Okay," She replied with a smile, shooting a nervous glance at Nec.
Realizing that he was an obstacle, Nec said, "Ah, I forgot something," and disappeared from the room.
"Your dad is great," Eina muttered, absentmindedly staring at the spot from which Nec vanished.
"No time to waste," I said to her, tiptoeing to give her the last kiss of the evening.
When our lips separated she said, "I will visit you after lessons tomorrow. I am scared, to be honest."
"Ignore them! You are strong, smart and beautiful, they are nothing!" I said, doing my best to encourage her.
"If you say so," She said after a moment of silence, faintly nodding her head.
"Alright, time to sleep," Nec suddenly said, making us jump up.
Frowning, I asked him, "How long were you there?"
"Literally got there right now, haven't seen nothing! I swear on my beard!" He replied, pointing at his majestic facial hair.
"I'll believe it," Eina suddenly said, not letting go of my hand, for the first time in front of someone else.
Honestly, I was feeling ecstatic.
Jumping off the desk and clapped his hands, a wide smile adorning his face. He said, "You two look so cute together! I wish I had the means to take a picture!"
"You didn't make a camera yet?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Never felt the need to!" Nec replied, stroking his beard. He said, "I will make one when I have free time, it's a pretty simple idea."
"What's that 'cemra'?" Eina shyly asked, struggling to say the English word.
"Camera, it can instantly record a picture," I explained in a matter of fact tone.
"Oh," Eina replied, giving me a weird look.
"Anyway, you girls should sleep. I will teleport you first, Eina," Nec said.
"Okay," She replied, and gave him a ladylike bow, she stammered out, "T-thank you for going easy on us."
"Eh? Where we are from no one would bat an eye at you two dating," Nec replied with a shrug. He then added, "Contrary to that, I am happy she found such a great partner!"
Eina was taken aback, a faint smile blossomed on her face when the fact that Nec was praising her reached her heart. Before she could say anything else, she just disappeared, teleported away by Nec.
"Really?" I asked him in a disapproving tone, "She looked like she wanted to open up!"
"My bad, my bad," Nec laughed, clearly not sorry. His face grew serious and he said, "Sit down, remember that I had something to tell you?"
"Ah, you mentioned something," I replied, leaning against the soft seat.
He took a deep breath and clearly said, "Ash descended into the world."