Danmachi: The Cure

DISCLAIMER: Danmachi belongs to its respective owners. Everything that occurs in this story is of my own creation and the characters abide by the fictional laws in the setting.

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Commissioned by: Palik

Chapter 16: Red and more Red.

Part 18

"Bell, come here." Alfia pointed one of the two chairs beside their bedroom's only table. "We need to talk." Herself taking a seat in the other; legs and arms crossed, which precariously crumpled her usual semi-transparent choice of nightwear.

She had called for him when he was in the middle of changing into his own pajamas, and once he turned and saw her position, felt dread pool in his stomach. For him, the clothes were the least of his worries since Alfia only sat like that when something was truly bothering her.

"Hai," He joined his surrogate mother not a moment later, leaving the last button of his sleep shirt undone. "What is it, mom?"

Alfia didn't respond for a moment; instead, her mismatched eyes stared at him for a long time, making him squirm under the silent pressure his mom was exerting until at last, her voice steadily flowed.

"I want to know how you have been feeling as of late."

"Eh?" His brain faltered, as that was not what he was expecting to be asked.

Thankfully, Alfia noticed his befuddlement, "You've asked me to increase your training, while at the same time, you've been working harder with your other teachers. However, you have not yet told me the reason behind your motives."

"Huh?" He frowned; actually feeling slightly disappointed, "Because I need to become stronger if I want to cure you." He barely gathered his breath to continue, "As I am now, I can't do anything for you. I need to learn more about myself and the magic I have if Miss Airmid and I are to have a chance at dispelling your curse, and we don't have… too much time…"

Alfia's posture or stare didn't change, her breathing being the only visible movement. "No, I understand that. You have been very vocal about your wishes for me, to the point that you've broken our promises if it meant making life easier for me while you find a way."

She's never going to forget about that…

His brows furrowed more, "Then?"

"Is there nothing else besides me motivating you?"


"I am not blind, Bell." Alfia finally moved, uncrossing her arms to settle her hands on her lap. "I've seen the way those friends of yours look at you."



"Um," He swallowed, "You mean Alise and Ryuu?"

"And the Nine Hells, yes." Alfia looked away for a moment, which if his mental layout of the Hephaestus Manor was correct – Alfia was looking in the direction where Riveria slept. "Your growth has seen much improvement with their addition into your life, or have you not noticed this yourself?"

He had.

He just didn't want to think about it.

"I guess…" He glanced at his lap, "They're… the first friends I've made that I know I can trust. That's not to say I don't trust Lady Hephaestus, but she's a Goddess and they're…"

"Mortals," Alfia nodded, not that he could see. "However, that does not explain why you don't look at them the same you way you look at the little Saint."


That made him look up to notice something he hadn't seen in a long time.

Alfia was twiddling her fingers.

"Seeing as you haven't realized it yourself yet, you have changed a lot, my son." Alfia cleared her throat. "You used to be a lot quieter and more reserved, and lately I can't help but feel that you've grown distant from me…"

The feeling went both ways if he was to be honest.

Certainly, after realizing that he could actually cure his aunt after obtaining enough strength, he had spent every waking second either training or studying with his new teachers and spent less time with his mom, and while she was one of his teachers – there were worlds of difference between how the two acted when they were teacher and disciple, and mother and son.

"I'm simply curious if… You're looking forward to my health not being a burden to you anymore so you can live your li…" Alfia trailed off.

"Mom, you're not a burden." He didn't let her thought run any further, hands instantly grasping his mom's and gripping them tightly. "You're everything to me."

Alfia had given her all for him to grow as well as she could afford, even with her sickness siphoning the life out of her at every waking moment. If she believed herself to be a burden to him, then what else could he possibly haven been to her for the past fifteen years!?

"The sooner I can cure you, the more time we can spend together without worrying over what could happen." He made sure to look straight into Alfia's mismatched irises as he continued, "I want to eat at my favorite restaurant with you, I want to go to parties with you, I want to explore the dungeon with you, I want to do so many things we have never been able to do together, mom, but for that you have to get better."

Ever since they had arrived at Orario, the only time the two had spent together walking the massive city was when they arrived. After that, Alfia had taken to staying inside Hephaestus manor so as to hide herself from the people who would recognize her, to recuperate her strength as a high level adventurer, and to not put any more burden on her body which thanks to Hephaestus blessing, would help her withstand the curse for a longer period.

However, it did not mean that Alfia had gotten better just because she could withstand the curse's decay for more time.

Sapíla still drained her strength at every turn and the periods in which she could remain active shortened by seconds every day. Today she could be awake sixteen hours at most, in a month that time could turn to be fifteen or worse, even!

Hence, "I don't want you to be silently hurting anymore while we try to enjoy ourselves," His sight blurred a little. "You've already suffered so much for the last fifteen years that you've taken care of me. Let me take care of you now, mom."

Alfia chuckled a little bit, "Look at you…" Then pulled him into a hug that buried his face in her motherly bosom, "Oh how much you've grown. I'm sorry, mom's just been… afraid that you're going to leave her behind…"

"Never." He made sure to hug Alfia back as best as he could, what with her still sitting on the chair and him being half-pulled onto her and on his knees. "I'm really sorry if I made you feel like that mom, I'll try to spend more time with you."

"No." Alfia pulled him away from her bosom so they could stare at each other's face again. "You already have so little time for resting, I'm not going to have you cutting even more of the time you should have spent resting be spent on me instead."


"No buts," Alfia's irises sharpened. "You said it, son. The faster you become stronger, the faster that you'll cure me, right?"

He nodded fervently and felt something shift in him as his mother smiled so kindly.

"Also," Alfia gently pushed him back to his seat, "Is that why you accepted Hephaistos idea of having me as a guard tomorrow?"

That made him scratch his cheek bashfully. He should've known that Alfia would've seen through his idea or had an inkling of it. "I'm indebted to Lady Hephaestus for all she has done for us, and well… I thought it could be a way for us to spend some time together without it affecting the training she has set up for me."

Hephaestus wanted him to run one of her stands during the Monsterphillia so he could learn how to interact with the public as part of his training in becoming the new Runemaster of her Familia; hence, he felt that it could be an opportunity to do two things at once.

Spend more time with Alfia and continue his training.

"Hm," Alfia huffed with a smile, "You really have grown so much since arriving here. If that's your plan, then you have to be well prepared tomorrow considering how much of a hard time you have when meeting new people."

He cringed at that but knew that it was the one thing he really needed to get better at. "Yeah…"

Alfia stood up and ruffled his hair, "I'm sure you'll do well, you'll have me by your side tomorrow, after all."

That made him smile.

"Now let's get to bed, tomorrow is going to be a long day for you."

What he didn't tell Alfia as the duo of mother and son rolled into position on their sides of the bed (before Alfia started using him as a body pillow again) was that he wouldn't mind tomorrow being the longest day of his life, if only because she would be out there with him on the streets and they would finally have a chance to do at least some of the things he wanted.

In his mother arms, Bell had one of the best restful nights since his brutal training had started.

- 0 - T.C - 0 -

Alfia woke up first the next morning, her vision filled with her nephew's slightly bluish face from up close. Brows raised; she noticed her arms had woven around his neck sometime during the night and were currently cutting his precious air supply. Perhaps, the emotions she felt from last night had infected her dreams and made her unconsciously snare her nephew in an uncomfortable manner.

Not that he would reprimand her for it; he always loved seeing her become either affectionate or as he sometimes daringly liked to call her 'clingy', but after last night's talk, she could be forgiven for showing that side of hers.

She had spoken the truth when she mentioned them spending less time together – Alfia thought as she quietly left the bed, allowing for her nephew to sleep properly without her bothering him. Her gown soon hit the pile of laundry at the corner of their room before the Silence continued her morning rituals. Memories of how Bell and her spent their time together in the mountains came to mind, thanks to last night's talk.

Times of when it was just the two of them up there, living life quietly and with only her internal discomfort from her curse.

They rarely spoke words, settling mostly for hand signs. Years of living together made their habits mix, with Bell quickly learning that most days were a repeat of the previous one, so he would always end up doing the same tasks since early morning until their training started. Those were the times during which they spoke at length, or at least she did, if only because she was teaching him.

Dowsing under warm water made Alfia's thoughts pause as she sighed blissfully – Warm water had not been one of the comforts they enjoyed in the mountains, and it was one that was certainly doing wonders to the start of her days lately. What with the feeling of her bones being gnawed from the inside, her organs prickling at every stretch, or her the itching under her skin from the curse.

She had grown used to such discomfort, letting it remain at the back of her mind where it was exacerbated only when she used her Magic at length.

A need she hadn't herself requiring, as both Bell and Riveria were more interested in the theorical part of Magic rather than Magical exchanges, or at least the royal elven did. Her nephew always asked for something different every week for his training, and she had gotten rather creative as of late, perhaps a tad too creative.

It had been a long, long time since she had broken one of his bones with her magic during training.

Thankfully for her heart, Bell never hated her for taking it so far. In fact, it seemed to always spur him to try harder and match her until he depleted his Mind, and even then, continue their training when he should've blacked out from the magical strain.

How he managed to stay conscious, she had an inkling of the why, but as long as it didn't put his life in danger, she was fine with not investigating the cause further.

However, that elven friend of his from the previous day… She was very likely aware of Bell's ability to remain conscious when his Mind was depleted, which while Alfia hated to say, made her trust the girl with her nephew's safety. Not just because Alfia knew what those two friends of Bell had done years earlier, but because they had the gall to stand up to her when her nephew's safety and integrity was put in question.

Sure, it was Alfia who had used demeaning words when she received her nephew the previous day, but that was one of the ways to show her disappointment.

Regardless, they had stood up for her nephew, and she could appreciate that – Alfia admitted bitterly after toweling herself dry, and looked for her change of clothes in their wardrobe.

What she couldn't appreciate – Alfia snapped the band of her underwear – Was how affectionate those two were with her little boy. Hell, even her sister would've been irked if someone were to show such affection to Bell in her presence, of that she was certain.

Meteria may have been one of the kindest and most compassionate women in Earth to ever exist, but when someone dared to touch what was hers, well… Not even Hera had gotten away unscathed, emotionally or physically speaking, after one of Meteria's outbursts.

Alfia looked at her nephew who slept soundly, she approached him and sat at the edge of the bed to run her fingers through his hair that was so like their own.

'Sister, look at him… He's grown so much since you last held him in your arms…' Alfia climbed onto the bed, sitting seiza with her back against the bedrest before dragging her nephew's head to rest over her thighs. 'I'm… sorry for taking your spot in his life sister, and… thank you, for allowing me to care for him for so long.'


Ah, she had forgotten how easy it was to wake him up in the mornings. Damn, and she had wanted to watch him sleep for a little longer.

"… Why are you naked?"

"I was dressing when you called out for me in your sleep." Alfia lied through her teeth as her nephew closed his eyes with a healthy blush all over his face. "Were you having a nightmare?"

"I… can't even remember what I was dreaming about anymore," Bell grumbled and left the comforts of her lap, his knuckles immediately scrubbed at his lids. "What time is it anyways?"

"About an hour before dawn," Alfia trusted her internal clock, "Do you wish to sleep for a while longer?"

"No," Bell stretched both arms over his shoulders, popping them, "There was something I wanted to ask Lady Hephaestus before we go out to the stall."

Alfia withheld herself from prodding, "Did Hephaistos tell you where she wants us to set up the stall?"

"Somewhere near the Coliseum and the main street, said there'd be a good flow of people interested in the simple gadgets she wants to sell." Bell yawned before looking at her, then looked away again. "Um, why haven't you dressed yet?"

"Because I needed to know where we would be stationed." Alfia replied as it was the most obvious thing in the world, "Have you forgotten that barely anyone in Orario knows of my return?"

"Oh, I… hadn't thought of that, sorry." Bell apologized, "I'll get ready for the day then, see you in a bit mom."

"Wait," Alfia made him pause just as he was about to climb off the bed, her arms already extended.

Her nephew's face was red again, but he didn't deny her their habitual morning hug, one that she prolonged for as long as she could without making it seem awkward or reveal more of her 'clinginess' to him.

- 0 - T.C - 0 -

Bell was by no means a prude but waking up to his aunt's naked bosom covering half of his vision was by no means a healthy way for him to awaken. If Alfia was his real mother, maybe he wouldn't have had any issues but Alfia had made it quite clear over the years that despite treating each other as mother and son, they were still aunt and nephew.

Something his hormones reminded him at the most awkward of times.

One cold shower and a slap to the cheeks later, he carefully chose one of the lighter and more respirable clothes he owned to wear for the remainder of the day. Soon, he was searching for Hephaestus in both her study and personal forge and found the Goddess in the later in the middle of sorting some objects on a bench.

He knocked on the wall, on a portion made of wood, before, "Goddess?"

"Ah, Bell." Hephaestus dropped the little gem in her hands before smiling at him, "Didn't think you would be awake so early, nervous for today?" Her arms folded around herself, closing off the cotton robe she wore as sleepwear.

"Kind of," He scratched his cheek, "I wanted to talk to you before we went out."

"Oh?" Hephaestus grabbed a mug from the table before moving to his side, "What is it? Oh, have you had breakfast already?"

"Not yet," Bell accepted his Goddess hand around his elbow as they made their way back up to her study, "I wanted to know about… the other Gods."

Hephaestus hummed curiously, "Why?" She asked once she sat at her desk, mug resting on the surface along with her elbows.

"Well," Bell collected some of the cold treats Hephaestus always kept in her personal food storage and carefully filled two plates, "There's a chance that I'll meet other Gods today and I wanted to know more about what where they like…"

"Hmm, well, most Gods and Goddesses aren't all that different from regular folk." Hephaestus thanked Bell as he put her plate on the desk, "You'll notice when one approaches you because you'll feel their Divinity, and in your case, if you have your magic active, then you'll spot them easily."

"I guessed as much." Bell scratched his cheek as he bit into his cold meal, "Won't my magic cause them some discomfort, though?"

"Nope," Hephaestus sipped from her mug, "If it weren't for your magic making our surroundings quieter when its active, nobody would notice you looking at them with it. Perhaps, only the Gods most attuned to their natural senses would feel you looking at them, but then again, those kind of Gods are always aware of their surroundings so."

"Oh," He didn't know his magic was that imperceptible, "Not even when I'm looking at their souls?"

"Look at mine now," Hephaestus widened her robe's gap over her chest; not that she needed to do so, but the gesture was… appreciated.

His senses honed in, and again he could see the golden glow surrounding Hephaestus soul: A hammer made of scorching red flames glowing in beat with the distant thrumming of steel on steel.

"Were you not looking so intently at my chest, I wouldn't even be aware of when you started watching my soul." Hephaestus commented as he turned his senses off and quickly looked away as the gap was a bit wider than when they started the little experiment. "What does it look like, by the way?"

"A hammer made of flames."

"Hm… Does it ever change shape?" Hephaestus leaned forward, putting more of them over the surface.

"Er- Not sure, the noise does change from time to time, but I avoid looking at your soul, Goddess, because I respect your privacy."

"Look at it again and tell me what you see," Hephaestus ordered, and he complied, his eyes once again locking with her soul. "I'll tell you a lie, a truth, and then something rather embarrassing. Let me know if it changes shape as I speak, alright?"

He nodded and waited for his Goddess to start, though as seconds passed by while she gathered her thoughts, he wondered whether it was really necessary for her to be showing that much skin so early in the morning. Sure, he had gotten used to seeing her in less because she always discarded most of her clothes whenever she taught him her craft, but during those times, his mind was fully focused on her teachings and not her body.

The current blatant display though… It was hard to keep looking at her soul because while the image of it floated at the very center of her chest, the remaining area around it was very much the flesh. It wasn't like his view was some 'sonar' like thing, or a black and white view, it simply made the very center kind of transparent and that was that.

Hence, when Hephaestus leaned forward again, he bit his cheek, hard.

"Okay, first the lie," Hephaestus breathed deeply and started with a cutting, cold tone. "Due to all your recent failures, I will never allow you to walk into the Dungeon ever again."

There was no change, except for the flames glowing a darker color and her noise thrumming with deceit. He shook his head.

"The truth," Hephaestus placed a hand to her bosom, and spoke through a beautiful smile. "I have so many high hopes for you, Bell. And so far, you've made me so proud already, I'm extremely glad you accepted becoming my Child."

He looked away, red in the face and warm all inside.

"Brighter flames and… thank you Goddess, I will do my utmost best to meet your expectations."

"Hehe," Hephaestus giggled, "I know you will. And now, something kind of embarrassing… There's… two Children in the Familia I'm interested in, and I feel bad for giving so much attention to one over the other lately…"

"The shape is wavering a lot, Goddess, but I can still make out the original form easily." He looked away again; fingers twiddling together, "I'm sorry for monopolizing so much of your time, Goddess…"

"It's alright Bell," Hephaestus finally leaned back and took a long sip from her mug. "I've enjoyed every second we spent together, and not a single one has been wasted at all."

He looked down at those words, feeling all sorts of funny and warm inside. Alfia was not one to compliment him often, or at all if she could help it, so he was extremely weak to compliments…

"Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?"

"Ah yes," He swallowed hard before asking something that he needed to know after a certain incident the last day. "There's a Goddess I'm curious about due to our history and I was wondering if you could tell me a bit more about her…"

- 0 - T.C - 0 -

As his Goddess Hephaestus had informed Bell, the Familia's stall she wanted him to work at was extremely close to the Coliseum, three streets away from it, in fact. Even so early in the morning, Bell and Alfia heard clearly the shouts coming from the arena while they had finished stocking the booth.

Per Hephaestus orders, Bell had placed on display the replicas at the front table, while the true artifacts hung off the wall to one side and the back of the stall, and the others remained in boxes until they were needed. The Goddess had been with them only for a few minutes before she left to supervise another one of the Familia's booths, leaving Bell with one last minute detail that would be part of his training.

All the trinkets Hephaestus had trusted him with were enchanted, albeit with a single engraving, but it would be his task to sort them out and be responsible for selling them to the proper customers. Hephaestus trusted he would recognize all the enhancements she used since they were the same as the ones that she had taught him the last few days, and he would not betray her expectations.

Or at least that had been his intentions until the public literally flooded the streets no sooner had the Sun finally rose past Orario's walls.

"It has been some time since I've last seen you so stricken," Alfia's voice came from behind him, and he turned to look at his 'guard' hiding in the shadows of the booth. She wore one of her black dresses that exposed ample view of her cleavage and back, the skirt was on the shorter side however it was none the less frilly as her usual ones, additionally there were white stockings hiding the skin of her thighs and long white gloves the skin of her arms.

"Can you blame me?" He muttered, scratching his elbows in discomfort at the river of people flowing beyond the stall's table.

"No," Alfia sighed, "Were your magic not active around me, I'd probably feel even more uncomfortable than you do."

Alfia had almost fired a fully charged spell not fifteen minutes earlier from how overcrowded and noisy the streets had become, and he had been quick to use his magic to suppress any noise from reaching his aunt to make her feel at ease. He didn't worry about his magic running out since she wasn't actively fighting against it, nor did he worry that it would hamper her ability to serve as a guard.

"Say, m-" a glare, "Teacher, do you know how it usually goes with stalls like this?"

"Hephaistos didn't teach you how to treat customers?" Alfia crossed her arms, an unamused expression on her face.

"Not really, no." He scratched his cheek next, "Only said to smile and do my best…"

Alfia sighed and rubbed her temples, before adopting her teacher-like pose. "Expand your magic, look at the public, and call out those who resonate with some of the items in the stall. If you needlessly call for those without any interested in the first place, you will be losing time and more possible customers. Don't worry if you can't sell anything at the start, focus on getting the public's attention first and go from there."

Words of courage and guidance given, he turned back to the public and armed himself with the expectations set on his shoulders. He left the comforts of the chair, moving to the front to support his weight with the table and look at the living river across.


Hundreds of souls came into view, all so different from one another with a cacophony of different tunes mixing unharmoniously. They flowed to and fro, his gaze never staying long on one until it moved onto the next, until at last, one among the many shone with the same color as one of the bracelets on display. The person was far, but for a split second, she stopped to look around and her eyes paused for another split second on his stall before moving away.

'It's now or never'

"Hello!" He waved in her direction, her eyes returned to the stall then she pointed a finger at herself. He didn't trust his voice, so he merely nodded since he had her attention.

Thankfully, the message got across and her curiosity was roused enough to approach him. Then he finally recognized her once she was close enough, still, surely his mom would forgive him since it was all for the sake of learning and helping the Familia, right?

"Oooh, papa!" Shivers went up his spine at that, "I almost didn't recognize you with that headband, what are you doing there?"

"I'm part of the Hephaestus Familia…" He made sure to keep his gaze focused on her face, "And I'm trying to sell some of our items…"

"Ehh! I didn't know you were from the Hephaestus Familia, that's surprising." She bent slightly to look at the wares on display, flicking one of her braided tresses which wobbled similarly to her… charms. "I thought you would be part of an exploration Familia."

"The thought crossed my mind," He admitted while she browsed through the replicas, "But Lady Hephaestus spotted me first and we, uh, hit it off quite well from the very start."

"I see. Well, it's not like there's anything stopping you from adventuring into the dungeon either way," She finally picked up the one item he hopped for, "Though it's a bit of a shame that our papa isn't in the same Familia as us."

Another cold wave traveled through his spine, but he ignored it in the face of a possible customer, "Does that bracelet interest you?"

"A bit, but I didn't really bring any valis with me to spend today." She placed it back down on the table before scrunching her features, "I had planned on spending the day with our captain, but he was gone before I knew it. You wouldn't have happened to see him?"

"Ah," There went his plan on getting his first customer, "No, you're the first person I've actually called out…"

Another frown marred her features; one hand set on her hip. "It's midday already… papa, don't tell me you haven't sold anything so far."


"Haa…" She shook her head before glancing around, "Well… I don't have much else to do today, say would you give me that bracelet in exchange for helping you out for today?"

He blinked, surprised, and taken aback.

"You would do that?"

"Yup, besides I'm sure mama will be happy to know I helped you out, maybe I can even get her to owe me a favor or two," She smiled devilishly, "So, what do you say?"

"I'll be in your care."

- 0 - T.C - 0 -

Alfia twitched.


First, it was the dark-skinned amazon that had called her nephew 'papa'.

The Silence refrained from asking questions then and there, because Bell seemed to have gained an ally who acted as an attraction for the wares Hephaestus wanted to sell. The amazoness natural charm coupled with some accessories served well to attract the customers, so Alfia held back, albeit barely.

Then it was a cat woman who also called her nephew 'papa'.

Where Bell had obtained a maid uniform for that cat woman, Alfia didn't know. But soon, there was a scantily clad buxom amazon attracting customers and a cat maid attending to those who waited for their turn to pay.

Hephaestus wares were selling well, and it had been Alfia's idea to get her nephew to call out for people in the street. That it had developed into this… was somewhat her own doing, so she wouldn't interfere. Even if both women were far too affectionate with her nephew at times.

But it was fine, her son was more focused on doing well for Hephaestus's sake than them.

Until she appeared.

Alfia saw red and had almost left her spot in the shadows as she approached her nephew; the towering Boaz of a guard trailing right behind her.

"Interesting items you have here," Honeyed words and refined movements as she picked a set of earrings. "Ma-mister, do these fit me?"

"… They go well with your eyes," Her nephew's replied monotonously.

"And these ones?" A golden chocker and bracelets that matched.

"… The chocker might be a bit too much," Her nephew scratched his elbow, a sign of his nervousness that almost made Alfia move; again. "But it does suit you, I guess."

"Hmm~ I'll take them all then." Freya fished her purse from her bosom (Alfia twitched again), "Here, I trust you." And gave it to her nephew who hesitated on taking it for a moment before silently acquiescing.

Bell left his spot behind the table to fetch the authentic items from the back, the help of the cat maid and the amazon serving well to keep the other customers entertained, and her nephew soon passed by her side at the back of the booth.


"I know."


"She'll be gone soon."


"Could you fetch me these, please?"

Alfia bit her cheek and was about to respond in the positive when hands wove between her armpits and grasped what no man besides her nephew had ever touched.

The world slowed to a halt and the Silence(s) became deafening, then she turned around, slowly.

She was already seeing red.

And soon, there would be no more red left after she was done.

- 0 - Part 18 End - 0 -

Author's Note: Ehehe… EHEHEH, EHEHEHEHE!

Part 19 teaser, title: "I lived, Bitch."

- Jas / Shiiva

P.S: I've changed the timeline in which some events happen from the draft, so Part 18 switched with part 20, and original Part 18 (I Lived, Bitch) was moved to Part 19. Hehehehe