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The Troubles of a Lonely Heart

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The soft sounds of a pen on paper filled a largely empty and silent room.

Scribble. Scribble. Scribble.

At a wide, firm desk on the wall opposite of a grand, lavish bed sat a lone girl, totally focused and unaware of her surroundings.

Scribble. Scribble. Scribble.

An outside observer looking upon the silver-haired half-elf would presume that she was entirely concentrated on the various articles of paperwork strewn about her desk, especially considering the quick speed at which she wrote.

Scribble. Scribble. Scribble.

And if one were to look upon her pale face, adorned with brilliant amethyst eyes, they would find a look of utter fixation upon the parchment before her, her brow furrowed and small frown on her face.

Scribble. Scribble. Scribble.

But these appearances would fool said outside observer completely. Her thoughts were barely, if at all, concerning the task at hand. Instead, her mind was filled with a far more pressing matter than politics: that of the heart.

Scribble. Scribble. Scribble.

The half-elf thought to herself, "I hope that Subaru is doing alright. He's not fit to be in Vollachia. If he got hurt, then…"

Scribble. Scribble. Scrib-

She abruptly stopped her work, her mind still wandering, "No, my Subaru will be just fine."

A light blush came to her face and her eyes widened at the contents of her thoughts. She muttered to herself, "My Subaru…"

She shook her head, placed the pen down on the desk, and brought her hands to her eyes, rubbing them gently. She'd been doing nothing but paper work since the morning and the fatigue of non-stop reading and writing was getting to her. Had she not been thinking of the black-haired boy, she may have taken a moment to feel some sympathy for her diligent Internal Minister. Alas, unfortunately for Mr. Suwen, the King Candidate had matters of greater importance on her mind.

She opened her eyes, brought her hands back down to the desk, grabbed the paper she'd been writing on, and read it over. Her face flushed a shade of deep crimson at what she found.

"Concerning the domain of Subaru I really miss you, it is the humble opinion of the Margrave and myself that I really want you home soon, Subaru, it's been too long. Furthermore…"

Knock Knock Knock

Instinctually, she immediately crumbled the parchment into a tight ball and swiftly tossed it aside, letting out a smell yelp in the process. A familiar voice rang from the closed door, "Emilia-sama, may I enter?"

The half-elf took a deep breath, letting out a long sigh, and responded to the request, "Yes, Petra, come in."

The ornate wooden door opened with a soft creek, revealing an amber-haired girl of shorter stature, dressed in a well kept maid's uniform. Wearing a gentle smile, Petra walked into the room with a tray containing two tea cups and a kettle in her hands.

"How are your studies going, Emilia-sama?", politely asked the maid, placing the tray on an empty section of the desk and pouring two cups of tea.

"Ah, they're uh… they're going well, Petra, thanks for asking," responded the half-elf, slightly flustered and quickly looking over her other papers to ensure that none had similar embarrassing mistakes written on them.

The maid silently raised an eyebrow at her master's peculiar behavior but did not address it directly. Instead, she took the closer of the tea cups and brought it to her lips, taking a sip while eyeing the half-elf curiously.

After a moment, Emilia mimicked the action with the other cup, happy to share tea as relative equals with the maid, and drank down her first gulp.

"Are you worried about Subaru?", innocently asked the maid, a concerned look on her face.

In response, the King Candidate not-so-gracefully spit out the tea she had just taken a sip of, spilling a tiny amount onto the desk and spraying a more substantial amount towards the wall, narrowly missing the maid that Emilia had just turned away from.

Petra swiftly brought a handkerchief out of her pocket and wiped down the half-elf's slightly moist face as she coughed a tad, struggling to speak, "It's not cough cough I'm not cough cough".

The maid sighed and spoke calmly to the now blushing girl before her, "Breathe Emilia-sama, breathe." And, after a moment, she continued, "I'm worried about him too, we all are, it's nothing to be ashamed about."

The embarrassed girl averted her gaze, feeling rather humiliated. She was running to rule a whole country and this child, several years her junior, had to reassure her of such simple things as these.

The amber-haired girl efficiently and quickly set out to clean the small mess Emilia had made, filling the room with a great silence.

Shaking off her shame, Emilia came to reflect upon her reaction to the content of Petra's words. Why was she so embarrassed about her worry? She never acted like this before, never felt this way before… felt this way before…

"Are you alright, Emilia-sama?", asked the concerned maid, after having completed her simple task and unknowingly interrupting the half-elf's thought process.

Over the past year, Emilia had grown far closer with the maids of the Roswaal Estate. Petra and Frederica were far more casual with her than anyone before the Sanctuary incident. It was nice, having real companions.

She even considered Ram, especially after their conquest of the Pleiades Watchtower together, one of her closest friends. They have bonded quite a bit over the past few weeks, greatly aided by their mutual anxiety for their distant dear ones. The oni had lost her sister and Emilia had lost her knight… her Subaru.

She answered the maid honestly, the sincerity clear in her voice, "No, Petra. I just… I miss Subaru a lot but…"

It was hard to put what she felt into words. The feeling was warm and cold, comforting and anxiety-inducing, brilliant and terrible.

The maid silently regarded Emilia with a calculating glance. It was clear to her that the girl was on the precipice of realizing her own feelings for the black-haired boy after months of stagnation. Part of her wondered what could have happened in Priestilla and that tower to cause such a change. Another part of her, that was quickly suppressed, told her to sabotage the half-elf's emotional growth for the sake of her own love for Subaru. But she decided on a more neutral path: to give a bit of vague advice with no clear direction.

"Emilia-sama," the maid spoke aloud, tidying the desk and taking a step back, "maybe you could try to pretend to talk to Subaru."

This idea caught the half-elf's attention, "Pretend to talk to Subaru…?"

Petra continued, making her way to the door, "Subaru always said that keeping your thoughts in your head made them 'jumble up like an unfinished jeeg saa puzzle'"

She pulled it open and turned to face Emilia one last time, "and that sometimes it's best to 'lay everything out' to get a better look at it".

With that, the amber-haired maid closed the door and left Emilia alone with her thoughts.

She muttered to herself, "Pretend to talk to Subaru, huh?"

An hour or two later, Emilia finally stood up from her desk, having completed a satisfactory amount of paperwork for the day. She turned to look out the window, seeing the sun rapidly approaching the horizon and filling her room with a dulled orange light. It was almost the exact shade that lined her knight's tracksuit and, for some odd reason, it filled her with a mixed sense of comfort and longing. She stared at it for a moment before moving to the center of the room.

Lifting one hand up, she effortlessly casted a magical spell to construct something intended for combat purposes: an ice-based recreation of her Subaru. It stood only slightly taller than herself and shined with the light of the setting sun, adopting a brilliant tangerine hue that brought a smile, accompanied by a light blush, to her face.

"Dummy Subaru… you're such a dunderhead for leaving me all alone like this…" she muttered to herself, imagining the number of odd things he'd say in this moment if times were normal.

"Emilia-tan, no one says 'dunderhead' anymore," she imagined he'd say in his usual teasing tone.

But these words brought her a sense of emptiness rather than fulfillment. It was odd, really. It was the same feeling as when he lost his memories and when she'd lost her name and considered the prospect of him forgetting her too. It was cold, so cold.

She felt tears build in her eyes and, on instinct, approached the icy statue and brought it into a tight hug. Despite its literal status as a frozen object, it somehow brought her great warmth. She reminisced over their hug after his memories were restored… and his teasing remark about wanting to marry her. The thought of being Subaru's bride flashed through her mind as she squeezed the ice so tight that it started to crack.

"You know, Subaru… I don't think I'd really mind being your-"

Knock Knock Knock

Giving a loud yelp, Emilia dispelled her magical construct and snapped out of her odd fantasy.

"Emilia-sama?" asked a slightly surprised voice from the other side of the closed door.

The half-elf's face grew even more red as she glanced left and right rapidly, looking for some natural position to take at the center of the room.

A moment later, without waiting for permission, a pink-haired individual entered. She wore an equally well-kept maid outfit but, instead of the child-like innocence of Petra, she carried an air of authoritative arrogance about her, sharpened by the mild concern that colored her face.

She glanced around for a bit before landing her sights on the King Candidate, "Are you alright Emilia-sama?"

Emilia stood awkwardly at the center of the room, her hands rapidly switching positions, searching for a natural pose.

"Y-yep I'm okie!" hastily responded the half-elf, who settled on nervously playing with her hair.

Even with the deep orange tint of the sunset, the redness of her face was clear to the maid and, frankly, she did not know what to think of it. But, seeing as there was no clear and present danger, she decided to not press her for answers.

"Well, dinner will be held in about ten minutes," stated Ram, her gaze lingering for a moment before she turned and walked back out the room. The maid closing the door behind her, Emilia relaxed and heaved a sigh of relief, allowing the suppressed portion of her blush to return.

After a short moment, the half-elf summoned the ice version of her knight once more, raising a figure at it in admonition, "Really, Subaru, you almost got me caught doing some indecorous behavior in front of Ram. She would have scolded me for sure!"

Again, she imagined his response in her mind, "Emilia-tan, I see nothing wrong with receiving one of your angelic hugs! Also, no one says 'indecorous' anymore either,"

She blushed and felt warm at the thought of their banter, gazing into its icy eyes warmly, imagining the hazel that would normally be there.

"Y-you know, Subaru…"

She approached the statue cautiously, placing a hand on its cheek.

"It doesn't just have to always be hugs and lap pillows all the time…"

She leaned her head in, her lips slowly approaching the ice.

"I wouldn't mind it if you…"

A moment away from kissing the statue of Subaru, the door opened once more.

"Emilia-sama, I forgot to mention that-"

Emilia froze, Ram froze, even the frozen Subaru froze.

After a short moment, the maid smirked, crossed her arms, and let out her usual "hah" sound.

Blushing furiously and dispelling the ice construct, Emillia turned to the maid and whined in a voice that echoed through the halls of the mansion, "Raaammmm!"

Many hundreds of kilometers away, in a much less peaceful environment, a lone boy sat in front of a mirror, make-up in hand and a wig on his head.

Suddenly, he turned away and sneezed loudly, "ACHOOO!"

Wiping his nose on his sleeve, he looked back at the mirror and pondered aloud as he applied more eye liner, "I wonder if Emilia-tan ever thinks about me…"

After imaging a rather indecent scene in his mind, he blushed for a moment and shook his head lightly.

"Nah, that's just hopeful thinking. She's still too far off from anything romantic like that… right?"