He had them search for the cup of dispel that might have been discovered.
And he decided to let the search continue for about a week.
Even this time, he had already left a day to search for the dungeon. After all, if they take more time, Avalon might spread out again after it has shrunk.
Now, the soldiers conducted the search, and Alexis was to wait for the report at the fort.
In the meantime, Fatima takes care of the fort, Sara and Lily are still busy as medical officers, and Dorothea, along with her grandfather and other blacksmiths, prepares and carefully maintains their weapons. Valencia practiced swordsmanship, Maria did the paperwork, and Eden still wanted to guard Alexis, but when she learned that there was more work to be done at the fort, she started to devote herself to patrolling and training with Valencia.
In short, life went on as usual for each of them.
They had no choice but to do so, even though a severe battle might be coming next.
（I have studied God thoroughly. There was no weakness that I could find, and the cup of dispelling was the only thing I could rely on...）
Alexis, too, heads to the command center today for routine work.
A fortress is a fortress, and there are various tasks. Managing the soldiers, coordinating the training, and so on.
Upon entering the command center, there was already a visitor.
Fransisca was sitting on the desk chair, looking over the documents at hand.
The sound of the door opening seemed to alert her to the presence of a visitor, and she looked up, her face lighting up immediately.
"Ah...Alexis-sama," Fransisca's voice said.
Fransisca's voice is met with a nod from Alexis.
「Ah, Fransisca... you're always early...」
「...Yes. It's part of my routine」
Fransisca looks down at her hand again.
Alexis walks up next to her and sits down in the vacant chair.
She reaches for a stack of papers on the table.
Only the sound of flipping through the papers echoes from time to time.
In the quiet room, Alexis is suddenly aware of something.
（...Come to think of it, it's been a while since I've been alone with Fransisca...）
When he is aware of something, he is conscious of it.
And he becomes fidgety and restless.
When he glances at her profile, Fransisca's lips are pursed, and she is checking the papers in her hand with a serious expression.
He can clearly see her well-shaped nose, lips, and chin from the side.
（...she's beautiful, isn't she?）
He has not seen her for a while and is reminded of her again.
Even now, she still looks neat and dainty. Unless Alexis says so—no, even if he does, no one knows or can imagine it. She is his own woman.
（...I guess she's mine...）
Thinking like that again, he wants to feel it.
He starts to have a lustful feeling.
But suddenly, Fransisca stops her hand and closes the document she was turning over. She must have finished.
Alexis calls out.
She looks up, and her silver hair flows over her shoulders.
Fransisca smiles with a small tilt of her head. Her smile is mild, almost saintly.
However, knowing that Alexis has the right to defile her smile, he naturally leaks a smile too.
「Why don't we take a break?」
Alexis wonders whether Fransisca has realized what Alexis is saying or not.
Still, "—Yes," Fransisca nodded.
「...Ah, right, there is something I would like you to see, Alexis-sama. Would you like to join?」
Suddenly Fransisca put her hands on top of his as if she had an idea.
And Alexis wondered.
But Alexis nodded.
* * *
Fransisca brought Alexis to the courtyard of the fort.
Then, pointing to a corner of the courtyard, she said, "Look."
「The kalmia flowers have finally bloomed」
Fransisca's face breaks into a smile as she looks at the peach-coloured blossoms that have grown on the shrubbery.
「This tree used to be in the castle. I found one just like it in the remaining land of Sagrado, so I brought it here and planted it last year... and it finally bloomed」
Fransisca was beaming, but then she looked back at Alexis and murmured.
「A-Are you not really interested in...?」
Fransisca looks embarrassed.
Alexis realized he had not smiled and nodded, "Oh."
「...You take good care of this place, don't you?」
Indeed, he is not interested in this place. After all, he is not a girl...
「With everyone else, in turn. But these days, it is more and more often left to the maid from Krangal」
Fransisca is beaming.
Even her expression was innocent and cute.
"...Well. Now, how do I get her to do it?" Alexis begins to think. It's been so long since he's had contact with her that he's been wondering how to get involved.
But there is no need for that.
Fransisca suddenly becomes restless and looks around.
When she was sure there was no one around, she walked up to him and clung to him tightly.
For a while, Fransisca held on to Alexis, enjoying his warmth, the size of his chest, and his smell.
Fransisca let out a giggle.
Aleix was upset but hid it and asked, "What's wrong?"
「I haven't done Alexis-sama in a while」
Fransisca's voice was bubbly.
「It's been a long time since we've been together like this...」
Alexis hugged Fransisca back, and she looked up with a startled look on her face.
Her amethyst eyes widen in astonishment as she looks up at him, and Alexis is puzzled.
「...No, I mean...」
Fransisca's cheeks were flushed, and her gaze drifted.
She seemed to be debating whether or not to say something for a while.
But then she slowly opened her mouth.
「...I'm surprised... I didn't expect you to hug me back. I didn't think...」
Her voice is almost muffled, and "Huh?" Alexis' confusion deepens.
Fransisca does not make eye contact.
「Because... you've been so busy. I can't do anything for you... and you don't ask me to do anything. I thought you didn't want me...」
Fransisca's voice is beginning to tear up.
「I-I thought that I love Alexis-sama, but... it's one-sided...」
For the first time, Alexis saw Fransisca crying like this.
Come to think of it, she had never shown tears before. Not when the desperate situation of Avalon confronted her, not when she was betrayed for the safety of her people whom she had hoped for, not when she killed her father, who had turned into a monster.
Seeing Fransisca sobbing, Alexis had sudden clarity.
（...I see. For her, I'm her support）
Now she would never be without him.
Alexis strokes her hair and opens his mouth.
He thinks it's not a rattle... but he whispers.
「I love you」
Her ears turned bright red, and her mouth was flapping.
"Was this really such a surprise?" Alexis wondered but then covered her lips.
For a moment, Fransisca's shoulders jerked.
But then she immediately relaxed.
Slowly closing her eyelids, Fransisca tightens her arms around Alexis' body.
Now she is letting the warmth of Alexis' body into hers as if she is trying to feel his touch.
All she can see is the Kalmia and the other flowers blooming all over the garden.
As their lips part, Fransisca whispers.
A sweet voice that only Alexis could hear escaped.
「...Please hold me」
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