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Episode 1 Airi Chapter – Love Story At Tea Party In A Certain Day – Part 1 「──Is everyone here? Does everyone have tea and snack at hands too? Have you all finished taking a bath and homework properly? ……Is that so. Then, let’s begin the tea party tonight.」 「Yes-!」 At night of a certain day. In the dining hall of girl dormitory at Cross Field’s Academy. Inside the place where several lamps are being faintly lit, small cheers are spreading when the girl who acted as the coordinator said that. 「…………」 The night tea party that is held once a month between students of the same year is a custom event where most of the students are participating. Tonight it’s the first year students’ turn, it seems that this place is reserved for us. It’s a tranquil time where sweet snacks and gentle night wind soothe the heart. This meeting’s main objectives are for information exchange, relaxation from the daily Drag-Ride training, and most importantly──to deepen the friendship between fellow students. In that space where the girls’ friendly conversation are fluttering around and the tea cups are making small sound, I, Airi Arcadia am reading book at the corner. 「What is Airi reading since some time ago there?」 A black haired girl who is addressing me from the side is my classmate, she is my friend, and also my roommate──Noct Leaflet. She is also one of the Triad, a famous trio of the Academy. 「It’s a book that a biologist wrote. If I don’t also read anything other than Ruin’s ancient documents and academic book, my knowledge will be one-sided.」 I responded curtly with my eyes still fixed on the book. Half of that reply is the truth, while the other half is a lie. 「Yes. I can understand that thinking itself, but aren’t you tired instead by reading such difficult book?」 Although Noct is blandly retorting like that, she is also staying at my side with her usual quiet bearing. This girl who is from a family lineage of servant while also possessing noble status act modestly toward everyone. She is worrying about me moderately. The existence of such friend is a meager salvation for the current me. Honestly speaking──it’s because I’ve become poor with dealing with this time. It’s weird to say this myself but, I am a sociable person in the Academy. ──No, to speak in a more accurate term, I was behaving myself as a sociable person. I also wouldn’t do anything that doesn’t match the situation, like intentionally reading a difficult book alone in a tea party where everyone is gathering once a month. That was until my Nii-san got admitted into this academy of noble girls that is. 「Hey hey, Airi-chan. Is your big brother all right? I heard that he defeated a strong Abyss that somehow appeared inside the Academy the other day though──」 「Nii-san is only lightly injured and tired. He is mostly completely recovered already.」 I respond to my classmate’s question with a calm smile. The existence of human shaped Ragnarok, Sacred Eclipse and the incident of the other day aren’t informed to the majority of the students. It seems that in order to avoid mayhem, the incident is blamed as the work of the Dragon Marauder’s attack and Abyss’s act. 「I see, I’m glaad……. Then, I wonder if I can ask him to accept a request from me this time?」 ……Aa, here it come. This is the reason why I stop acting sociable in the Academy. I am a survivor of Old Empire Arcadia, an empire that imposed tyrannical rule and tendency of male chauvinism for a few hundred years in the past. After the empire was destroyed by coup d’etat, myself was acquitted by the amnesty of her majesty the queen of the new kingdom even while I am given the status of criminal. Because of that complicated circumstance, I was spending my days in the Academy without sparing any effort in acting social so I can be accepted by everyone, but──. 「Right right. I heard that the girl who requested Lux-senpai before this to coach her in piloting Drag-Ride passed her Class promotion exam──」 「Ee, I don’t wanna making that kind of request outside of the Academy’s practice class. It’s a rare chance, so I will want to make a request like shopping outside or something.」 (As I thought, it turn into this kind of topic in the end……) I control myself so I don’t make a sigh while smiling awkwardly at the girls around me. Since Nii-san came to the Academy, various incidents occurred in succession. The admission into the Academy after the duel against Lisha-sama, the princess of the new kingdom. The 『lover』 incident from the request that was made by Krulcifer-san, an overseas student from Ymir Theocracy. The official acceptance to join Syvalles after Nii-san was recognized by Celis-senpai, a third year student, the strongest in the Academy, and someone from the four great nobles. And then the accomplishments of saving the Academy from various threats during that time. Even though Nii-san also has special circumstance that gotten him called as the chore prince in addition of his position as an imperial family of the old empire, the more time pass, the situation isn’t calming down, far from that Nii-san is instead becoming a person with endless problem in various senses. And so, now that it has come to this, taking the stance of talking cheerfully by my own initiative or listening to the talk of the girls is the same as meaningless. If I am thought to be participating in the conversation, oh dear, I will be rained down with concentrated fire of questions regarding Nii-san, like 「What is your big brother’s hobby?」 or 「What kind of girl is his type?」. That’s why I’m pretending to be absorbed into reading a difficult book and suppress the damage to minimum. (……Well, if I can accept reality, it’s comfortable in its own way though.) Noct who is staying by my side is a silent person in the first place, so if I can be together with her, it won’t be standing out even if I stay quiet. Like that, a bustling time is passing by along with the usual tea party. Even so, when I heard Nii-san is getting lionized in this kind of event, my feeling will grow quite complicated. It should be a good thing that Nii-san is recognized and depended on by everyone in the Academy. And yet──why is it, this itchy feeling. (It’s like Nii-san belongs to everyone──does it feel like that?) I drop my gaze to the book’s page to suppress down such fretfulness. The book’s content is the academic regarding living thing, their ecology, and their instinct. A study is written that there are a lot of animal’s children with adorable appearance so that it’s easier to raise them and raise their survival rate. And then, there is opinion that the working of an animal that is just born gets emotionally attached to their parent is also for such reason. Because they are a living thing that is still weak and immature, they will instinctually fawn on other, depend on them, and get emotionally attached to them so that they will be protected. – 「Say say──Airi-chan, do you have anyone?」 「……Yes?」 When the classmate in front of me suddenly asked me, I replied back with a stupid look. 「The theme of the talk just now seems to be 『story of first love』, Airi.」 Noct followed up from the side for me who got completely disconnected from the flow of the talk. But, this is troubling. 「First love is it……. Eerr──unfortunately, right now I still have never experienced it.」 「Eeehh……」 The girls who have already told their story raised their voice in dissatisfaction hearing my answer. 「Geez, if you’re like that then isn’t it the same like Noct? Is there no one around you that you are curious about? Like──a person who is similar like Airi-chan’s big brother or something.」 「……-!?」 Suddenly my back stiffen with a twitch as though my nape just get caressed. My face reflexively got heated up and I looked down slightly. (……Wh, why am I making this kind of reaction?) I glanced around, but it seems that everyone doesn’t notice my agitation, so I’m a bit relieved. 「Oi oi, don’t drag Airi-chan into forbidden love. And then, how is it? There should be one or two people you are curious──」 「The, there is none. That……I’m still busy with my study, and there is also my position to consider.」 I put up a mask of calm and somehow deny it one more time. ‘Tsk─’, I dodged the question of my dissatisfied classmates and escaped somehow. 「It can’t be helped. Then, we will have Airi-san to talk about something at the next tea party, the next person──」 (Fuu, ……I’m saved.) I let out a relieved sigh that the danger has passed while leaning my ear to the talk of the next girl. Her first love was the man who was her private tutor. Different from her strict parents, that man was gentle to her and reliable, so it seemed she fell in love, but──. 「But, in the end it was just my misunderstanding. At the past I thought he was an amazing person who can do anything but……thinking carefully, I noticed that he was kind to me only because he was hired by my parents.」 「…………」 However, in the end it was a misunderstanding because the man was passionately instructing herself who was his young student. ──It seem the result was only that. 「That’s lonely. But, that kind of thing often happen isn’t it? That anyone will think like that to a person who have done them a favor.」 「Eee……? Drag-Ride instructor is also quite my type normally though. Remember, the one who sometimes came from the capital──」 「That instructor is three times older than you, you know……? He got beard, and he also has wife and children……」 Like that, the first love story develops into silly funny story. Normally I will also smile and join the talk, but for some reason only for today I am chasing after the letters of the book with a serious face. 『Living thing that is still young will get attached with nearby living thing that is giving them protection. That is one kind of defensive instinct.』 The conclusion of the academic book that I’ve been reading since some time ago was printed like that. 「…………」 I close the book I was reading with a snap and slowly stand up from my seat. Then beside me Noct tilted her head slightly and look at me. 「What’s the matter, Airi?」 「I recalled that I have a bit of business, so please excuse me early for today. Everyone, please enjoy yourself.」 I told them like that with a smile and leave the dining hall. I am quickly walking through the corridor while being aware that I am making a glum face. 「Sheesh, just what’s with me.」 I cannot understand at all. Not toward the story of the girls, but toward my own emotion that suddenly turned displeased. What the girl before this was saying was an ordinary and trivial story. My emotion is only getting the wrong idea, it’s a failure in my part. Even though it would be fine if I just listened with a smile, for some reason I became unable to stay there very much, and like this I exited the dining hall. 「At this kind of time, there is nothing better than venting out the anger.」 It’s also annoying to just return to my room like this, so I go to the medical office to look at Nii-san’s face. Nii-san who had just fought Sacred Eclipse the other day is staying there in order to rest peacefully. 「Nii-san──are you awake?」 *Knock knock*, I lightly knocked and asked. 「……Airi? Yes, I’m awake. Come in.」 I’m relieved that a calm voice replied back and opened the door. The smell of medicine that is peculiar for the medical room and flower faintly tickle the nose. 「What’s the matter, visiting this late? Did something happen?」 Fortunately there is also no girl visiting, Nii-san is alone by himself. 「It’s nothing so please lie down.」 I mildly stopped Nii-san who is trying to lift up his body. Seeing Nii-san asking about me considerately right after we met caused my pace to go completely out of order. 「……It’s nothing. I come to check whether Nii-san is acting reckless again or not. After all compared to Nii-san’s injury and exhaustion, most things doesn’t amount to much.」 「A, ahaha……」 After I let out an exasperated sigh, Nii-san who seems to remember something to feel guilty about from that smiled wryly. 「Naturally, even after Nii-san’s body is healed, you must not receive chore request for a while.」 「Eh……!? E, err, that──right.」 「Please say that while looking at my eyes. Have Nii-san accepted such request already? You have haven’t you?」 When I’m asking reproachfully, Nii-san make a flustered face while making excuse. 「No, that, it’s only a verbal promise……and my body is already fine.」 「Haa……」 Astonishing. It’s always like this. Even though Nii-san went through difficult experience like every time, as expected Nii-san is strange somewhere. 「Surely Nii-san doesn’t think anything about it if it’s for the sake of someone else but, making promise without even thinking about your own body look even more irresponsible instead you know?」 「Uh……」 Nii-san stiffened still with an expression as though he is poked where it hurt. A faint superiority complex tickles my heart pleasantly. 「Besides, was the one who made the request a girl first year who usually never really made request? Nii-san is really pampering to younger girl aren’t you? It’s filthy.」 「N, no, that’s because it was a really small request. Doing it for rehabilitation is──」 「What kind of request it is?」 I readily pressed the question to Nii-san who is lying down. When I heard the detail, it seems that it’s a request for accompaniment when going shopping outside. 「For now, rejected. The time for the outing is also ambiguous, and depending on the weight of the baggage Nii-san will be made to carry, it can become a burden for your body that has only recovered, I will go apologize to that girl and ask her to withdraw the request.」 「No, I’m fine so──」 「Who was it that told me to not worry and yet still got close to death every time?」 When I make a sweet smile, Nii-san fall silent. 「Err, sorry Airi……. My bad but, if you can apologize for me to that girl──」 Nii-san tell me the detail of the of the girl who made the request. 「Yes, I’ll do that. ──With this, it’s my 107th win from 107 fight. I wonder, when will the day come where Nii-san defeats me?」 My chest feels refreshed. (As I thought, my heart calm down when talking with Nii-san.) I leave the medical room with a different smile from the one when I came. While going back to the girl dormitory from the school building through a passage, it seem that the tea party is over right at that time. Girl students are flowing from the dining hall to the girl dormitory. I find the girl who Nii-san promised to go shopping with and talk to her about the matter just now. 「And because of that, can you please wait a bit more about the request? If Nii-san’s condition turn better, I will come to inform you.」 「I understand. It’s unfortunate, but it can’t be helped. Airi-san too, you must be worried for you big brother──」 「Eh……?」 The girl smiled bitterly and gave up, but it feels like my chest got suddenly pierced. My face reflexively turned serious. While the chatting girls were walking through the passage, I am standing still there in a daze. 「…………」 These girls don’t know in detail of the Sacred Eclipse matter. They also don’t know how Nii-san got injured and exhausted for the sake of saving the Academy with Celis-senpai this time too. The same with the matter of how until now Nii-san had also exposed himself to danger several times in the place that these girls didn’t know. Those are matters that are included in the information that is prohibited to be revealed, so I cannot convey it to everyone. That’s why, I also understand about their misunderstanding. Perhaps they are thinking that I’m worried about Nii-san more than necessary and trying to monopolize him. 『but it can’t be helped. Airi-san too, you must be worried for you big brother──』 (……No, I’m over thinking it.) It wasn’t like they were saying that to me sarcastically. I’m trying to monopolize Nii-san for my own sake, what I’m doing shouldn’t mean like that. 「What’s the matter Airi? Has you finished the business you mentioned before this?」 Suddenly Noct who was walking toward me come to a stop and look at my face. Somehow, I’m feeling excessively gloomy. I become unable to act the role of noble lady in my image like usual. Even myself don’t really understand what this itchy feeling is. 「Say──, I know this is unreasonable but I have a request, Noct.」 But, I’m talking driven by the strong impulse welling up inside me. 「Can you, teach me the way to use Drag-Ride?」 With such voice that is filled with just a little stubbornness and resolve. – Part 2 「We are going to practice Drag-Ride here?」 「Yes. There is no other place more optimum for training than the practice ground, but it can’t be helped.」 The next day at the early morning. At the time when even the sun hadn’t fully rise, I and Noct are at the back of the practice ground. We arrived at an empty space that is surrounded by trees. Originally, a test run of Drag-Ride should be carried out in practice ground that is exclusively used for training. But only this time the objective is so no one else won’t find us, so we are holding the training at an empty lot inside the Academy’s ground. I received permission from the headmaster, Relie-san and I have already borrowed a Sword Device and general-purpose Drag-Ride Wyvern. 「We have finished the Drag-Ride’s authentication just now, so this time please change into the pilot suit, Airi.」 「Understood.」 I nod to Noct’s instruction and put my hand into the sleeve of the pilot suit──the clothes that is exclusively used when using Drag-Ride. Finally the time has come for me to use Drag-Ride for real. (……For some reason, my heart is pounding fast.) When I enrolled into the Academy, I was also tested for Drag-Ride’s 『authentication』 and 『contract』. The people around me don’t really aware of it, but my Drag-Ride aptitude count is at top level even among my year, because of that I’m holding a bit of expectation. Of course, I who until now was doing nothing but learning through classroom lecture will experience difficulty to become able to use Drag-Ride. 「──Wait, what’s with this appearance!? This is really embarrassing though……」 I who finished wearing pilot suit reflexively cover my chest and abdomen with my hands while muttering that. Although I am more or less also a civil official candidate, but I have been staying for long in the Academy, so I should be used ti look at the figure of other students wearing this but──. 「Yes. I have been wondering whether Airi can immediately get used to it. After all it’s something like that.」 Noct told me with her usual bland expression. I am also not wearing underwear, the shape and peculiar fabric are also clinging tightly on my body, so when I’m actually wearing it for real, my face turned red. 「It’s amazing, that you can be so nonchalant wearing something like this every time……」 After all, with this the body line of the wearer is completely exposed, so it make me feel really bothered by other’s gaze. And then it also cause me to be a bit conscious of Noct’s figure who is also wearing the same outfit before me. (……As I thought, I’m──) 「Airi, there is no need for you to mind about my breasts. I have heard that Airi’s breasts in its own way are strongly demanded by male of specific interest.」 「I don’t need such follow up-!」 When I yelled that with my face turning warm, Noct deflect 「My apologies. But, Airi looks good in that」 with her usual composure. 「Then, can you equip the Drag-Ride right away?」 「……Yes.」 I pulled myself together and took a deep breath. With a voice that is shaking with nervousness, I pull out my Sword Device following Noct’s instruction. Bizarre silver line is running on the surface of the Drag-Ride’s controller. I push the button on the grip and send the thought of summoning. 「──Come, the winged dragon of crest, the symbol of power. Obey my sword and soar, Wyvern.」 Right after I muttered the Passcode, particles of light gather in high speed and the flight type general purpose Drag-Ride──Wyvern is summoned. 「Connect – On」 When I further perform the connection operation, the Drag-Ride quickly unfold into countless armor and instantly cover my whole body. The sensation of thick and heavy metallic armor causes me to hold my breath spontaneously. Until this point it’s going just as I imagined but──, 「……-!? Wha, what is this, it’s really……heavy……!?」 When I try to move my body, I notice that I almost cannot move. It’s stiff──heavy. It feels like my body is buried within a lump of steel. 「Yes. It’s something like that. It will become like that if the Drag-Ride’s movement doesn’t move in tandem with the user’s flesh body, so it will be quite tiring just from wearing it while you are still not used to it.」 「I, is that so……?」 The driving force of Drag-Ride come from a special jewel called Force Core. That was why I completely thought that there will be no weight burden to the user but──I was naïve. 「Then first, I wish to teach you the basic of movements. Airi, are you prepared?」 「……Ye, yes!」 I nod at Noct’s question and challenge the basic of the basic of basic movements. And then, a time that is completely unfitting for me begin. – Part 3 「Haa, haa……haa……-!」 ──A few minutes later. Pathetically, I am unable to do even the basic movements properly. The armor was dispelled and I’m sitting down under a tree. 「I finally remember……. Why I wished to enroll as civil official candidate of a military officer cadet──」 In the test half a year ago when my enrollment was processed, certainly my aptitude count for Drag-Ride was outstandingly high. But, my score in the essential piloting skill, reflexes, stamina, and the like were remarkably low. So I gave up that path from early stage. 「Yes. Certainly Airi’s Drag-Ride aptitude count is high, but Drag-Ride cannot be handled with just that. Even if you have the disposition to hold your breath for long underwater, that doesn’t mean you will be able to swim well. This is the same.」 「……I see, I understand clearly.」 I comprehend it while breathing hard with heaving shoulders. My hope that perhaps, I too can also fight as a Drag-Knight is crushed. Even so──. 「However, I will show you that I can at least master the basic control. At the very least when I’m isolated, I will be able to evacuate to a safe place by my own strength──」 「No, you should stop with that, Airi.」 「……Why is that?」 I ask back when Noct instantly disagreed. What is there is Noct’s calm expression that isn’t particularly different from usual. 「Airi is clever, so you should have understood already. Just how dangerous it is to use Drag-Ride with half-baked skill.」 「…………」 I cannot reply right away at what Noct pointed out matter-of-factly. I know. I know, but I was pretending to not know. The pertinent knowledge and skill are indispensable for controlling Drag-Ride, using it in the wrong way will invite great danger instead. And it might not affect me alone, but it can even harm someone else. But──. 「I’m sorry. Can you teach me just a bit more?」 I endure it with an effort and ask that. 「But──」 「Please. Just a bit more, it’s fine even if it’s just several hour. If it seems that I’m still cannot do the basic properly even then, I will give up, that’s why……」 「…………」 This time, I’m borrowing the Drag-Ride in the end is for the sake of tuning it. That is how I’m telling the Academy. If it’s exposed to the Academy that I am using the Drag-Ride without permission, not just me, even Noct might receive punishment too. I know that I’m asking for something unreasonable. That’s why, I intend to give up if I’m denied further than this. 「Yes. I understand.」 「……Eh?」 While I’m silently casting down my gaze, the Drake Noct is wearing is approaching my Wyvern. A cord is stretched from the shoulder mechanism and connected to my Drag-Ride. Right after that, a character string made of light is surfacing on my Wyvern’s head. 「Use your Sword Device to allow adjustment by my Drake. I will put a limitation so that the Wyvern won’t react to command outside of basic movement.」 「……Please.」 It seems Noct is putting in minimal lock so that I won’t commit a large mistake. With this, it seems the great danger of rampage due to control failure is gone. 「As long as you practice in this empty lot, I believe the probability of getting found out is low if it’s only for two or three days. I will also patrol around secretly.」 「I’m sorry, Noct.」 「Please don’t mind it. In any case, Airi is Lux-san’s little sister as expected.」 「Eh──?」 Noct who is always silent and bland is unusually making a faint smile while speaking. 「You are unexpectedly forceful and reckless when it’s for the sake of someone else. That side of you two is really similar.」 「…………」 Noct dispel her Drake while saying just that. Then she leave. 「──Yosh.」 I resolve myself, then I restart my Drag-Ride training with a bit of rest in between. And then──time pass for a while. (Even so it’s the worst.) Annoyingly, the more I do it the more I notice the nonexistent of my talent. Perhaps because of the height of my aptitude in mind control operation, I’m relying on that, but my in the end my body cannot catch up and the body control operation doesn’t work. The switches that are installed at the inside of the armored arms and legs will adjust the power output and angle when they are operated in precise order and timing that match the action, and yet operating them require quite the strength, and doing it with precise movement is far more difficult. If the armor’s movement and the flesh body’s motion don’t mesh with each other in high precision, it will only become mere burden on the body. My stamina that is already little even at the best of times is getting taken away entirely in the blink of eye. Certainly if enemy find this kind of sluggish Drag-Knight, I will become nothing but target. After all someone holding a weapon also means that they will be targeted as threat. 「Kuh, haa……」 The pilot suit feel unpleasant with all the sweat soaking it. Even so I’m simply continuing the basic movements Noct taught me. I who was sickly as a child and lived in the imperial court of the old empire where there was nothing but enemy around was completely reliant to Nii-san, my only family who I can trust. Right now I have grew up, accumulate knowledge as civil official candidate, and I also can decipher Ruin’s ancient document, I also can receive work from the Academy. But──, – 『but it can’t be helped. Airi-san too, you must be worried for you big brother──』 『Living thing that is still young will get attached with nearby living thing that is giving them protection. That is one kind of defensive instinct.』 – That sentence which I heard from my classmate and the description from the book that I was reading at that time were overlapping inside my head. ……Perhaps, I haven’t changed. Perhaps I was depending on Nii-san since the past in order to protect my sickly self. Perhaps even now I am using my position as little sister, trying to monopolize Nii-san simply just because I don’t want anything bad to happen to me. The love and feeling as family inside my heart, they are all just misunderstanding──. 「That’s, not true……!」 That’s vexing, unforgivable──that’s why, I’m doing something like this, thinking that if only I have the strength to protect myself even just for a bit…… 「Am I thinking, that I don’t want to be treated as a child……」 I’m making a self-depreciating smile while moving the Drag-Ride further. 「Nn……? Cold-!?」 The sensation of water drop falling on my nape caused me to look up to the sky spontaneously. The cloudy sky visible in circular shape from this space that is surrounded by trees is starting to rain drop by drop. *Achoo*. A small sneeze leaked out. The autumn rain is freezing cold. A heavier rain will come soon. There is no place where I can properly avoid the rain nearby this empty plot. 「…………」 I stop taking break in between so that my body won’t cool down and continue the training of basic movements. Walking, low altitude flying, then swinging Blade. As expected, it’s not going well. Because a degree of alignment with flesh body’s movement is necessary, it will be no good unless I also learn the best motion for swinging sword. It’s also no good if I don’t have basic stamina to some degree. I finally understand the meaning why the class of military officer cadet also include training like sword art, archery, and running. I also comprehend the reason why Syvalles’s captain, Celis-senpai is that strong. As for me──it’s impossible. The weight of fatigue is coiling around my whole body, my muscles are even starting to feel pain. 「Nii-san, I……」 Even so, while I’m continuing to simply swinging the sword stupidly, the limit comes too quickly. 「-……!?」 *Flash-* The head part of the Drag-Ride I’m wearing shine, and the armor vanish from my whole body. It’s enforced cancellation when the user’s stamina reaches the limit. Strength leaves my body along with an intense dizziness, the ground slant and my consciousness is receding. 「U, a……」 Unable to even support my tottering body, I sink down on the ground. The rain that is getting harder gradually is mercilessly wetting my body. 「……It’s, cold.」 The sensation of my body is dulling and getting weaker. Just like those days, when I was doing nothing but lying on bed in the imperial court. I hate my body constitution. But, perhaps it’s actually like this. In the end, I’m, just taking advantage of Nii-san, depending on him──. – 「──There you are, Airi.」 – 「Eh……?」 The voice that suddenly come make me lift up my face. A man with gentle impression, with silver hair and grey eyes like me. It’s no one else but my Nii-san who is in front of me when I notice. I am dumbfounded for a while seeing that sight which should be impossible. Seeing me unable to reply well, Nii-san scratches his head with a troubled look. 「I heard from Noct that Airi is here. That──sorry I’m always making you worry. But, I’m fine. That’s why, next time I won’t make Airi worried for sure.」 Nii-san make an apologetic smile to reassure me. Nii-san often made that kind of face at me when it was a painful time at the imperial court. ──Aa, as I thought. Nii-san is the best person in the world who can make me feel relieved from the bottom of my heart. 「……I’m not forcing myself or anything. I’m all right.」 But the current me reply brusquely like that. 「I only wanted to obtain information of Drag-Ride. Writing record and investigation and information gathering are works that I can do.」 「……I see.」 Nii-san smiles wryly and lend a hand to me who are still sitting on the ground, unable to stand. 「-……!?」 I who take that hand and try to stand up totter on my feet. Seeing that, Nii-san turn his back on me and crouch down. 「Wai-……, what are you doing!? I’m not──」 As expected, doing that is embarrassing. Getting piggyback from Nii-san at this age, such thing…… 「It’s quite far from here until the dormitory, the strong is also getting stronger. Let’s go home quickly.」 Nii-san reject my opposition with an expression that doesn’t care at all. In the first place this is something that started from my selfishness, with that being the case, I folded after feeling conflicted for a few seconds. 「It will be fine, no one is looking, so it’s not embarrassing.」 「That’s not the problem……」 I’m still dressed in pilot suit. I’m soaked wet with rain and sweat, my skin is also exposed a lot……various things are problematic. I’m carried on Nii-san’s back while feeling my face reddening from embarrassment. Somehow, Nii-san’s back that I’m feeling for the first time after a few years feels really wide──but, it’s warm like in the past. 「I’ll hurry a bit, so hold on tight okay?」 Nii-san is going through between the trees with the speed of fast walking. 「Somehow, this feel nostalgic.」 Nii-san is talking to me while my consciousness feels sleepy, between reality and dream. 「……I’m sorry that I made you worry, Nii-san.」 I loosen my heart that was acting brave and muttered that honestly. A kind voice come back toward such me. 「I’m not forcing myself or anything.」 Nii-san’s voice was gentle and warm. 「Because Airi is there, because my only family is staying there for me, that’s why I can do my best.」 「……I know.」 ──After all I’m the same. I studied a lot in the Academy, accompanying the people in high position, everything is for the sake of Nii-san. For Nii-san, my only family. I cannot say that out loud, instead I quietly put more strength into the arms holding on Nii-san’s shoulders. – And then, my challenge that is really unlike me──the Drag-Ride training quietly closed its curtain without anyone knowing except Noct and Nii-san. – Part 4 「……You can go back already, Nii-san. Or rather, how long you are planning to stay in this room?」 More than ten minutes later, inside the Academy’s school building. I’m sitting on the bed inside medical office and said that with an exasperated face. After returning to my room at girl dormitory, I was helped by Noct to change from the pilot suit into plain clothes, wiped my body, warmed myself. After that, I might catch a cold, so I received examination from the female doctor, and just in case I was told to stay here for a night but──. 「No, I’m a bit worried. The doctor has gone home already too──」 「Haa……」 I let out a sigh and drink the beverage prepared by Noct for me, hot water with honey and ginger added in it. The taste is a bit particular, but it’s delicious and warm. It seems to be a secret formula of Leaflet house that is from lineage of servant. When I recovered my usual composure, I direct an exasperated fixed gaze at Nii-san. 「Nii-san who was ordered to rest until only a little while ago, why is it necessary for you to stay close to me when I’m only at risk of getting cold for now? I’m fine so please just go back.」 「Ah, yo, you’re right. Just this much won’t be a problem for Airi anymore isn’t it? Then, if there is something, call me right away okay?」 「I understand. I will call. I will rely on Nii-san. Now are you satisfied?」 「Ri, right. Then rest well, Airi.」 「Good night, Nii-san.」 We exchanged only those words before Nii-san quietly get out of the medical room. ‘Fuu’ I let out a small sigh and lie down on the bed, staring up to the ceiling. 「……It’s a little lonely when Nii-san actually left.」 Honestly speaking, I’m so exhausted I cannot even lift up my body already. My muscles here and there are painful. 「But surely it’s fine like this.」 I muttered that with a smile and closed my eyes. Even though it’s different from the past, right now there is a way to depend for the present. I’m not just fawning on Nii-san like when I was a child. I will do what I can do to the best of my ability, and only ask for Nii-san’s help in things that I cannot do. 「That is, the proper relationship that should be between the grown up me and Nii-san. Surely……」 My consciousness is suddenly falling into darkness. It will be nice if I can see a dream of me and Nii-san when we were little. I’m sleeping while thinking a bit like that. – Part 5 「Fua……」 The next morning, when I wake up, I rub my sleepy eyes while crawling out from the bed. The dazzling sunlight is shining in from the curtain’s gap, telling me of the autumn morning. 「-……!? My body feels very painful here and there. I wish Noct can lend me her shoulder.」 The result is terrible as expected. Perhaps I’m lucky that at least my bone and muscle aren’t damaged. In order to return to my shared room in the girl dormitory, I’m slowly getting up for the time being. Then──. 「──Eh!?」 At the other side of the cloth that is partitioning the bed from the room. Inside the room where even the doctor shouldn’t have come yet, there is the figure of a person. 「Zzz, zzz……」 It’s Nii-san. He is still in his uniform like yesterday, sleeping right nearby in sitting position with a single thick blanket wrapped around his body. While I am stiffened in a daze, Nii-san seems to detect my presence and slowly open his eyes. 「N, nn……. ……Ah, good morning, Airi.」 「It’s not good morning. What are you doing there, are you stupid?」 「Uwa, that’s cruel-!? N, no, I plan to go back once when it’s dawn but──I got careless」 Nii-san is making excuse like that while being strangely abashed. As expected, it seemed Nii-san was worried about me and stayed inside the room for the whole night. Just like how he waited on me the whole night when I was tormented by fever at my childhood. ……In the end, it’s like this. Both me and Nii-san hasn’t changed in the slightest in this aspect. 「……Haa. It will be troubling if Nii-san collapsed because you are looking after me, so can I ask Nii-san to call Noct here for me? If it’s this time already, surely she has awoken now I believe.」 「Ah, ri, right. Got it! Wait for a bit!」 Perhaps Nii-san is relieved seeing my healthy state, he smiled wryly even while walking away in a hurry. I saw off that familiar back with a faint smile. 「Surely, it’s like that.」 I put my hand on my chest and mutter that with a peaceful feeling. It’s not the imprinting from when I was sickly, it’s also not instinct as living thing, much less of it being misunderstanding or whim of puberty. I understand that this feeling of mine isn’t anything like those. 「There is no way it will change now after this long. After all my feeling toward Nii-san is the same all this time since the past.」 I open the curtain and window and breathed in the tranquil air of the morning. The warm sunlight and the perfectly clear autumn sky. – A day of Academy of Cross Field will begin today too.