For Elfaria, it was hard to find time to spend with Koutarou. Her status as Empress followed her everywhere, but when she was with Koutarou, she could forget her rank and go back to just being a woman.
“…Still, that’s going too far.”
“If the citizens saw you in that outfit, they’d be shocked.”
Elfaria was dressed unthinkably for an empress today. She was wearing a baseball kit. And just like the women’s baseball kits, it had short shorts.
“…You’re not saying your disappointed?”
“I’m rather reluctant to actually say it, but it’s not like it doesn’t suit you.”
There were questions as to whether shorts that bared her glossy thighs like that, and a shirt which let her chest heave as it did when she moved and showed peaks of her midriff were suitable for an empress, but they showed her liveliness and sweetness well, so Koutarou couldn’t say so particularly strongly.
“Fu fu, is that all?”
“No. I’m going to make sure you go back with a good impression of baseball since you said you wanted to play catch.”
“…You meanie, Reios-sama.”
Elfaria wanted more direct praise. Elfaria was a woman, so there were times she wanted to hear those words clearly. And if that actually happened, she would… Those kind of feelings dwelled in her chest.
The two started playing catch. No one else was there that day, so the only sounds echoing across the floodplain were the sounds of the ball hitting the mitt and the words the two sometimes exchanged. The only other things around were the sun sparkling in the blue sky and the soft sound of the river water flowing. The time passed peacefully.
“Reios-sama, would you throw the ball a bit seriously?”
After they had thrown the ball back and forth dozens of times, Elfaria suddenly smiled. She had the face of a child who had just thought of a prank.
“By seriously, how seriously do you mean?”
“Using everything seriously.”
“Then put the mitt in front of your chest, and don’t move it at all.”
“Phew… how about, this!?”
“Owowowowowww… I couldn’t see the ball, Reios-sama.”
“Even so, well caught.”
“I don’t know about caught, it just stuck between and didn’t fall.”
Elfaria took the mitt off and smiled innocently as she showed Koutarou. The ball had stuck between the fingers and even as she shook it, showed no signs of falling.
“I was a little off then?”
“It seems so.”
“What about your problem?”
She was taking the ball out of the mitt, but when she heard Koutarou’s words, her movements stopped completely. Then she whirled in shock to Koutarou. If he had to say, her expression wasn’t that of an empress, but that of a woman.
“You were worried about something, right?”
“So you noticed.”
“Yeah. But you’ve always got through your worries, so I thought it was about time.”
“That’s right. I just made my mind up.”
“I guessed so, with that expression.”
“…You meanie, Reios-sama.”
Elfaria once more returned to smiling. But the extent of her smile was different, a reproach shone clearly through in it.
“If you said that from the start, I could have been spoiled by you.”
“An empress’ resolution shouldn’t be swayed so easily by others.”
Elfaria’s worries were about whether she must wage a war that would cause the victims among her people to increase. That’s why it was necessary to Koutarou for her to have resolved herself.
“But if you’ve made up your mind, I’ll listen to all your complaints.”
“Really, Reios-sama!? A knight can’t go back on their word, you know!?”
“Right, right, bring it on.”
The two of them kept playing catch until sunset. It was just throwing a ball back and forth while talking, but the two of them were very satisfied as they walked the road home.