Sorry for the delay, both the big one and the small one. The big one being the two years and the small one being for not following my update schedule.
HOAD actually should have been updated in October a few months back, but I was on a bit of TBTB kick and then I lost a chapter due to a bad backup on my part (saved over the new with the old) and become pretty morose about that, so I wasn't able to shift my focus away until I finished/started and finished again the chapter I lost, and that ate up my time, because I also didn't want to write for two weeks after losing the chapter, as I spent that time trying to recover some of it.
I had actually planned to do a few more chapters for TBTB, but only got through one more because losing a chapter left a bitter taste in my mouth, so I decided the best option was to switch archives.

Funnily, I then did the raw for this chapter in 8 hours last weekend. The other good thing is I plan to do a few chapters before switching stories again, as I am keen to get started in showing the parallel actions of Issei and the ORC. I plan to do two separate paths that happen to meet up occasionally. Might come across coincidental, might come across as authored BS, and might come across as nonsense, but I won't know until I try, and I think the attempt has been going ok with my experience on WHBTS.

I also went through and proofread this entire thing again and found an error in all but 2 chapters, so they've all been fixed and uploaded now. I need to stop doing this because of how much time it takes, but if I see an error, I can't let it slide, annoyingly.

I won't talk too much about reality right now, as I can imagine it all sucks for everyone as well. Interesting time to be a doctor, but really stressful as you can imagine. Unfortunately, we are kind of going through the bottleneck right now where everything is a tight squeeze and we should be through it in a few months (although then we head into winter again…), but honestly, until things are under control across the globe, not just specific countries, this situation is never going to be over.
Interestingly, I also got a free copy of Vampyr on PC during a Christmas deal and while I already knew of the similarities between the Spanish/Influenza pandemic of 1918 and COVID-19, (having majored in Microbiology and Immunology in ungrad), playing a game where it shows you posters in game about how to make a cloth mask, curfews and people not going to hospitals due to them being overwhelmed… wow, people do not learn from the mistakes of the past, although I am sceptical vampires are causing the current pandemic, but who knows… oh, and Vampyr was released in 2018… great game too though.

Either way, I hope everyone is staying safe, looking after each other and being kind. I hope this more light-hearted chapter also helps things along for everyone.

Hang in there.

SSJ3 Kyuubi Gohan.

Previously:
Issei and Kuroka discussed how their interaction with Serafall had gone with Raynare, Karlamine and Xuelan. Issei would leave the group after the conversation went off topic, assuring them he was confident in his dating skills due to previous gaming experience. This would then lead to Raynare searching for any traces of Issei's dating simulator experience, with Xuelan and Karlamine joining her. Issei would make his way around town, before going to the church where Asia had been killed, only to run into Dohnaseek. After a brief verbal exchange, Issei would leave, with Dohnaseek warning a hidden companion of the need for secrecy. Cao Cao would arrange a brief meeting between the heads of the Old Satan Faction, Shalba Beelzebub and Creuserey Asmodeus, in addition to Vali and Bikou. Shalba and Creuserey would leave upon hearing the meeting was to discuss a group of reincarnated devils who may join Khaos Brigade, leaving only Vali and Bikou to hear about the group in question being the Conduits.

Disclaimer – I don't own anything from the High School DxD anime/manga/light novel. All I own are my original characters and plot twists.

'Talking'

"Thinking"

'Ddraig talking and Sacred Gear sounds'

"Ddraig thinking"

*expression*

Flashback

Chapter 30 – Rise and sparkle

Issei returned home after his brief walk and continued to mull over his thoughts.

"Am I just overthinking things? Wait, am I now overthinking about overthinking? Ugh, my head is a mess." Thought Issei, palming his face, as he plopped himself down on the couch.

"I guess when I think about, my dating experience so far has been pretty terrible. Raynare stabbed me and Akeno traumatised me… I wonder if that is just because of them being fallen angels. After talking with Raynare and Azazel, I would have thought a date with a fallen angel would lead to sex rather than pain, although, I guess with Akeno, the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive." Thought Issei, before hearing a groan of frustration.

'You are really bad at this.' Commented a voice.

'I think in ten minutes, you've triggered five bad endings and made fifteen bad decisions.' Added another voice.

'This game is bullshit! What kind of options are these?' Screamed another voice, which Issei instantly picked up as an exasperated Raynare.

His curiosity piqued, Issei made his way to the sound of the noise.

'Just look at these options. A, compliment her breasts, B, tell her she needs a makeover, or C, invite her to go grocery shopping. What kind of options are these? I can't believe he played through this game even once.' Shouted Raynare.

'Well, maybe if you approached the game like a regular person instead of a sex addict, you'd get some better paths.' Suggested Karlamine.

'It is a DATING simulator. The point of dating is to lead to sex, so as soon as the opportunity comes up, you should take it.' Protested Raynare.

'You did just meet them.' Pointed out Xuelan.

'Who cares? If both of them want to have sex with each other, why wait? This game is rubbish.' Grumbled Raynare, flinging the controller on the carpet and standing up in frustration, whirling around to stomp out of the room, only to see Issei leaning on the doorframe, listening to their discussion.

'Issei! When did you get back?' Screamed Raynare.

'A few minutes ago. Which dating sim were you playing?' Asked Issei.

'Juicy booty grocery store.' Answered Karlamine.

'Oh yeah, that one is a killer. The trick to that game is you need to lock down only one girl and can't have sex until marriage.' Said Issei.

'Seriously?' Exclaimed Raynare in frustration.

'Look at what country it was made in.' Suggested Issei.

'Japanese localisation, made in Italy.' Read Xuelan.

'Marriage comes first there, but you can kind of guess a place which has one of the major hubs of Christianity would be like that.' Explained Issei.

Issei then walked over to his closet and shuffled around some things, before pulling out another game.

'Try this one.' Suggested Issei.

'Rice cake adventures? What the hell is with all these stupid names?' Fumed Raynare.

'Race cakes are round, what else is round? Also, it is set in China, around the time when harems were still pretty common, so you'll probably enjoy it a bit more. Besides, what would you call the games, big boob fantasy? It is all about marketing to the right audience.' Said Issei.

'I mean, I feel like big boob fantasy would make a great game and you'd be all over it.' Commented Raynare, to which Issei shrugged in agreement.

'Fair enough. So, rice cakes?' Asked Issei, waving the game case around.

'I wouldn't mind trying it out then.' Said Xuelan, taking the game from Issei.

'No fair.' Whined Raynare

'Fair is fair, we each got to pick one game. It isn't our fault that you can't get a good ending.' Said Karlamine.

'Have you picked one yet?' Asked Issei, only for Karlamine to shake her head, causing him to go back to the collection.

'Try this one.' Said Issei, handing a game to Karlamine.

'A Knight's Tail.' Read Karlamine.

'It is set during the time of the Crusades and follows a charismatic knight on their journey.' Explained Issei.

'Why did they use Tail with an "IL" then?' Asked Karlamine.

'Because you, the knight, can get lots of tail, it is a play on words.' Said Issei.

'We should try that one then.' Said Raynare.

'We? You had your turn; I'm going to try that one.' Said Karlamine, swapping in the new game.

Issei went and grabbed a few chairs from the living room and brought them into his room, so everyone now had a seat.

'Seriously, why are we starting as a little kid?' Asked Raynare.

'Because you have to start as a page and work yourself up to a knight. Besides, how else are they supposed to do world building, not to mention, building up your first few relationships.' Said Issei.

'No more commentary.' Said Karlamine.

The next few minutes passed in silence as the game rapidly introduced the main character's motivation, before a chance encounter with a mysterious woman.

'Ask to have sex with her!' Blurted out Raynare, only for Issei to bop her on the head.

'She isn't a path, no wonder you got so many bad endings, I bet you just tried to hump everyone you met during your game.' Chided Issei.

'Besides, you're not even a knight yet, it wouldn't make sense from a story perspective.' Said Xuelan.

'How do you know, maybe this is the first event that leads to bigger and better things?' Protested Raynare.

'Hey, stop giving bad suggestions and at least let me get to the right rank first.' Huffed Karlamine in frustration.

'That's right, no more commenting until we become a knight.' Said Issei, causing Raynare to pout.

Eventually, Karlamine reached the rank of knight and started to meet more important people.

'Oh, do her!' Said Raynare.

'She is the town mayor's wife.' Protested Xuelan.

'That doesn't necessarily mean she is off limits.' Countered Raynare.

'She's not wrong, but also not right, besides, this is Karlamine's playthrough, so no more commenting about doing anyone.' Said Issei, causing Raynare to huff.

Eventually, Karlamine had her first proper encounter after a jousting performance.

'Oh come on! She even said you wielded your lance masterfully. If that isn't verbal foreplay what is?' Questioned Raynare in exasperation.

'In the stables? You want her to have an encounter in the stables where anyone can come by? Did you forget when this is set, if she gets caught, that is the end of her career?' Questioned Issei.

'Oh, I can't take this anymore.' Said Raynare, before huffing and stomping out of the room.

'Where do you think she went?' Asked Xuelan.

'Probably to play with another lance.' Said Issei.

Karlamine eventually chose to delay the encounter, after which, the town was raided and the potential encounter was killed.

'You know, if Raynare was part of a real dating sim, she wouldn't even get past the first stage.' Commented Issei.

'I think we all realised that after she managed to have a bad ending every two minutes, when more than half of that was dialogue time.' Said Karlamine, choosing the option to attack the invaders.

'Are you sure you want to do that?' Asked Xuelan.

'Yeah, it was a surprise attack, I'm sure we can take them.' Said Karlamine, successfully repelling the invaders and being promoted in the process.

'We should probably go get Raynare back, the fun is actually about to start now.' Commented Issei.

'I'll go get her.' Offered Xuelan.

The former rook made her way to the fallen angel's room, only to hear the sound of grunting.

'Stupid dating simulators.' Muttered Raynare, just audible through the closed door.

'Raynare, Issei said you can come back now. The encounters are about to start.' Said Xuelan, after knocking on the door.

'Stupid grocery store.' Grumbled Raynare.

Xuelan knocked again, before opening the door. Raynare was found in quite the compromising position once Xuelan had opened the door enough. She had grabbed a piece of rope and tied her left leg to a bedpost. She was lying on her right side and had her right arm tied to another bedpost. Her left hand was pawing at her chest furiously, while a pink appendage buzzed, twisted, and turned in the space between her legs. Xuelan observed the scene for a moment, before undoing her previous action, closing the door quietly before Raynare could notice her, and heading back to the others.

'No Raynare?' Asked Issei, once Xuelan returned.

'She's… tied up at the moment and won't be joining us.' Said Xuelan, to which Issei nodded.

'She is a bit of a sore loser. She walks through life almost expecting everyone to have a hand tied behind their back when it comes to her.' Said Issei.

'Well I don't know about it being behind her back, but her arm is definitely tied.' Said Xuelan quietly.

'First encounter.' Said Karlamine.

'First one that won't get you killed at least.' Said Issei.

'How do you know that?' Asked Karlamine.

'Well, after you finish the game, you're supposed to go back and get all the bad scenes that lead to a bad ending. Even if it means you lose, someone worked hard on those scenes. Hmm, working hard on scenes… I think I have an idea now.' Said Issei, before leaving the room.

As Karlamine continued to play, Xuelan had a question for the knight.

'Why are we still playing the dating sim?' Asked Xuelan.

'It's surprisingly fun, besides, wouldn't it be nice to know where you go wrong in life and do it over?' Commented Karlamine.

'I guess, but can't you do that in real life too?' Asked Xuelan, causing Karlamine to pause.

'Dating sims are stupid.' Said Karlamine, turning off the game.

-line break-

The next day, Issei awoke for his date with Serafall. He had spent most of last night getting his preparations in order, so upon waking, he only had to get himself ready. At noon sharp, a magic circle appeared in the living room, before it exploded into sparkles.

'Have no fear, the great Serafall is here!' Exclaimed Serafall.

Serafall was wearing a pair of sensible purple heels, with black leather stockings reaching to mid-thigh. Following this up was a sleeveless black robe tied up with a purple bow, with a heart-shaped buckle under her bust. Under the robe was what looked like a bra, but was actually closer to a small black top, under the robe, covering most of her surprisingly large bust, but still leaving a large amount of cleavage on display. To complete the look, Serafall had a dark purple, glove-bracelet mash up made of lace on both hands. Lastly, her hair was tied up with two pink bows into her signature twin-tails.

'Right on time.' Said Issei, walking over to Serafall, holding a backpack and a picnic basket.

'Hey, what's all that?' Asked Serafall, pointing to the things Issei had gathered.

'Um, they are for our date…' Said Issei in confusion.

'I said I'd pick you up, so I planned the date.' Said Serafall, with a small pout.

'Oh… my mistake.' Said Issei in embarrassment, only for Serafall to wink.

'Don't worry, if you planned a date too, then we can just do your date after mine, we're both free today after all.' Said Serafall.

Issei would have said something to refute this point, but he really didn't have anything else to do today, so he settled for giving a nod and a shrug.

'Ok then, let's go.' Said Serafall, holding a hand out towards Issei.

'Just give me a second.' Said Issei, taking his bag and basket back to the kitchen and dropping them off, before returning.

Issei walked over to Serafall, who held her hand out expectantly.

'You don't want to get lost in the transport, do you?' Asked Serafall, with a raised eyebrow.

Issei then took the energetic girl's hand, before her magic enveloped the two and they disappeared.

'I don't think there was ever a scenario in the dating sim where you would have two dates in the same day, with the same girl.' Commented Karlamine, walking into the room once the two had left.

'Really? Maybe we should keep playing them to see then, maybe we didn't go far enough.' Suggested Xuelan.

'Guess we don't have much to do today either.' Said Karlamine.

'AH DAMN IT!' Shouted Raynare loudly, her voice echoing throughout the house.

'Maybe we should take the game to play somewhere else. We probably don't want to interrupt Raynare.' Suggested Xuelan.

'I agree, she is too frustrated.' Commented Karlamine.

'NOT ENOUGH! ARGH!' Shouted Raynare again.

'I'll get the game.' Said Xuelan, quickly leaving to retrieve the game.

'We're going to need earplugs at this rate.' Muttered Karlamine in annoyance, hearing the frustrated yells of Raynare echo through the house.

-line break-

Although Issei had consider the possibility, he was still somewhat disappointed that they had arrived in the Underworld.

'Now I know what you are thinking; grumble, grumble, devil place or something, but I promise it'll be fun.' Said Serafall.

'Am I really that transparent?' Asked Issei.

'Of course not silly, but we did see you annihilate poor Katerea and even though my dear Sona doesn't have time for Yuri action, she does send reports through every month.' Said Serafall.

'This is still a date right, not an interrogation?' Asked Issei.

'Of course, I'm doing you a big favour here, trust me. Now let's go to our first stop!' Said Serafall, before pointing in the direction to what Issei guessed was an amusement park.

As it turned out, Issei's guess was right. What Issei didn't expect, was just how similar the attraction was to the ones in the real world. First, they started out with bumper cars and followed that up with go-karts. Next, was a few dizzying rides, which had enough velocity that Issei basically saw Serafall in her underwear in many different angles and directions. Afterwards, the two went by some food stalls and got some cotton candy and popcorn, before coming to their last ride, which was a Ferris wheel. By the end of it, even Issei was tired, so he wondered how a much older devil than himself had tolerated things. Frankly, Serafall was beaming and still seemed to have energy to burn. As the ride started up, Issei felt himself slump a little, enjoying the nice slow ride.

'How're you doing?' Asked Serafall.

'If I'm being honest, a little tired. How do you have so much energy… and when did I get so old?' Asked Issei, causing Serafall to giggle.

'Energy is one of those things you need to build up. It's like a muscle, if you don't use it, you lose it. I can't imagine you had a lot of time to have fun growing up. I didn't either, but now I'm important enough that I can get away with it.' Said Serafall.

'So what you're saying, is I'm an old man already. Maybe I should take Raynare up on one of her offers… at this rate, I'm going to be an old man with a limp noodle.' Said Issei dramatically.

'Oh, noodles! I know where we should go next!' Said Serafall, completely ignoring Issei's underlying meaning.

'Actually, I could use something else to eat.' Admitted Issei.

'Okay, leave it to me.' Said Serafall cheerfully.

'Hey, I was wondering, did you ever get to do any of this stuff with Sona, she doesn't seem like the amusement park type?' Asked Issei.

'Hmm, are you fishing on information on my dear Sona?' Questioned Serafall suspiciously.

'No, I was just curious, honest.' Said Issei.

'Sona had a lot more free time when we were kids and I got to spoil her a lot *sigh*, but she is so important now that we don't have time to spend together anymore.' Said Serafall mournfully.

'That sounds tough.' Said Issei.

'I know, Sona is working so hard and doing so well.' Agreed Serafall.

'Um, I didn't mean for Sona, I meant for you.' Said Issei, causing Serafall to blink.

'What do you mean?' Asked Serafall.

'Well, I mean, it sounds like how I felt when Irina left. Lonely, empty, sad, and missing my friend. Sona might be your sister, but it sounds more like she was your friend… I guess with what you said yesterday, you probably don't have time for too many friends either and let's be honest, you probably scare a lot of people because of how strong you are.' Clarified Issei.

'All true I suppose, did you have a point to this observation, or did you just want to point it out?' Asked Serafall.

'I mean, I guess my point is you need more friends, but it might be hard for you.' Finished Issei lamely.

'You know, I don't think you're supposed to say things like that on a date.' Commented Serafall matter-of-factly.

'Yeah, I know, that would probably get me a bad ending, but I guess we've already got a second date planned, so maybe I can make it up.' Said Issei.

'Well, what if I want to end the date now?' Asked Serafall.

'You won't, you're having fun.' Said Issei, causing Serafall to beam.

'Guilty as charged. Come on, let's get those needles and then see what your next act will be.' Said Serafall, as their ride stopped, and they disembarked.

Making their way through the park to a small restaurant strip, Issei was caught off guard by something.

'Why are there so many cameras?' Asked Issei.

'I'm the Underworld's greatest idol, of course the cameras would be here. You're welcome by the way.' Explained Serafall, much to Issei's confusion.

Arriving at the restaurant, Issei saw they specialised in stir-fried noodles.

'Lady Leviathan, how nice to see you again.' Greeted the restaurant owner.

'Nice to be back of course, could we get two Leviathan specials?' Asked Serafall, only to get a quick nod and be ushered towards some stairs.

'You have a dish named after you? I'm guessing you are a regular.' Commented Issei.

'No and yes. The dish isn't named after me, it is named after my role, if it was named after me, it would be the Sera special. I am a regular though, to here, and pretty much every restaurant in the Underworld. Diplomatic relations do best on a full stomach after a good meal.' Explained Serafall.

'Hmm, guess that makes sense.' Said Issei.

'So when you say diplomatic relations, before the alliance, who did you meet with?' Asked Issei.

'Well, there is more out there than just angels after all. Don't forget about Youkai, Deities, Avatars, Demi-gods, Valkyries, plus a lot more. You've really not gotten out much.' Said Serafall.

'Hey, I've travelled plenty, but the people I mostly ran into were Devils or Fallen Angels, with the occasional Youkai or something else thrown in for good measure.' Said Issei.

'Oooh, tell me more about the something else.' Said Serafall.

'Well, I've run into some undead, well, I guess reincarnated Devils are also sort of undead… I mean like Liches, Draugr and Werewolves. None of them are really good conversationalists.' Issei recalled.

'When did you run into Werewolves?' Asked Serafall curiously.

'London.' Said Issei, causing Serafall to tilt her head in confusion.

'London? Like in Europe?' Asked Serafall, to which Issei nodded.

'That's interesting. Most devils don't go to Europe, given how many holy landmarks are around.' Said Serafall.

'I mean, I get somewhere like Italy, but what about somewhere like Norway or Switzerland?' Said Issei.

'Well, we go there to meet with the Norsemen, but they aren't in plain sight. Devils aren't very well liked there, or in most western areas. The media is usually pretty anti-devil in those areas.' Explained Serafall.

'Well yeah, because they think there is one of you and it is the big bad guy who causes all problems in the world and is anti-God.' Said Issei.

'Exactly what I said. I mean, if you came around though, maybe the rest of the world will in time, but I don't think it is going to become a tourist destination for us any time soon.' Said Serafall.

'I don't know, with contracts, I reckon you could make some pretty good strongholds in a few places.' Said Issei, before their food arrived and was placed on the table.

The Leviathan special was a plate of soba noodles on a bed of fried rice with shredded shishito peppers, julienned nagaimo and thin strips of beef with a daikon-ponzu dipping sauce.

'What do you think, it's called the Leviathan special because everything looks like a snake and you might get a sting depending on the shishito peppers.' Said Serafall.

'Well, it's unique I guess… which is kind of ironic, considering there were two Leviathans only a short while ago.' Said Issei.

'Well obviously, it was named after the one who eats here. Hmm, I guess I am the only Leviathan now.' Said Serafall.

'Do you, I mean, did you want Katerea to be alive?' Asked Issei.

'I admit, I had hoped she would come to see eye-to-eye with us, but I guess it wasn't meant to be. Everyone knows if you make an enemy of a Longinus wielder, you shouldn't leave them to come back for revenge, or it will probably be the last mistake you ever make.' Said Serafall thoughtfully.

'You don't have to tell me.' Said Issei, giving a small scowl.

'Hmm, no more talk then, time to eat.' Said Serafall, breaking up the topic of conversation.

Issei's scowl changed to a small smile and dug into the meal.

-line break-

'Uwah, I think I'm ready for a nap now.' Said Serafall, walking down the street with Issei, after the paid had finished their meal.

'I guess even you would get tired after a full day of activities.' Said Issei.

'That's not it, I just know I have to nap when I can to keep my energy up.' Explained Serafall.

'In that case, maybe we should move on to what I had planned, if that's okay with you.' Suggested Issei.

'Sure, sounds good to me.' Said Serafall, before the pair moved to a secluded area and transported back to the human world.

Issei quickly grabbed his bag and basket, before Issei told Serafall their new location through coordinates and had her teleport them there. The pair appeared on top of a downward sloping cliff, overlooking a beach which was largely empty now. They had a clear view of the horizon showing the sun, which while still high in the air, was well in the process of starting to set. Issei opened his backpack and pulled out some blankets and pillows and placed them down, before gesturing for Serafall to join him as he sat down.

'So were you planning a picnic?' Asked Serafall.

'Yeah. After thinking on it and watching the others play through some dating simulators, I figured the best thing would be something simple. I figured you probably don't get a lot of time to just stare at the clouds or watch the sunset.' Said Issei.

'That sounds fun.' Admitted Serafall, before joining Issei and lying down, with a pillow under her head, as she crossed her arms over her waist and watched the clouds.

'So why were you playing dating simulators?' Asked Serafall.

'I wasn't, the others were. While they were playing though, I realised the scenarios were usually crazy, because it was with normal people. So, I figured someone as busy and important as yourself might want something simple to relax.' Explained Issei.

'Hmm, I'm impressed, you barely know me, but you put a lot of thought into things.' Complimented Serafall.

'Thanks. I'll admit though, this is also something I wanted too. Life has really been crazy this year and I think it is important to think about the simple things in life sometimes, like just being happy to see the clouds move across the sky, watch the sun set and not have to worry about anything.' Confessed Issei.

'That does sound nice. I guess when you are busy all the time, you forget the simple stuff.' Said Serafall.

The pair spent the next ten minutes or so just staring at the sky peacefully, after a while, Issei noticed Serafall had closed her eyes, but seemed to be awake. Issei mirrored her actions and also closed his eyes, letting the sound of the wind passing over them and be the only external stimuli he focused on, blocking out the sound of his heartbeat and breathing. It seemed like only a minute later, but when Issei opened his eyes, he had to blink a few times, as the sky had started to darken.

'You almost missed it.' Said Serafall, sitting up cross-legged, with a pillow under her bottom, as she watched the sun setting.

Issei gave a small grunt as he sat up, before putting his pillow in front of him and lying on his stomach, resting his head on his left hand, with his elbow resting on the pillow.

'Yeah, it is nice to see, but my favourite is when it just dips below the horizon.' Admitted Issei, as the sun continued its descent.

As the sun disappeared and the sky darkened to a soft purple, Issei rolled over to his back.

'I forgot about the snacks.' Said Issei, making to sit up, only to find Serafall had dropped on to her side and rested her head against his ribs, looking across at him.

'It's all right, I'm not hungry.' Said Serafall.

Now that the sun had set, Issei noticed how bright Serafall's blue eyes were, it was like looking at the daytime sky, only much more playful.

'Well okay then.' Said Issei, letting his head drop against the pillow and look up at the darkening sky.

Seeing she had succeeded in stopping Issei from getting up, Serafall rolled over, now looking away from Issei and brought her arms and legs around to rest on Issei.

'You're really warm.' Commented Serafall after a few minutes.

'Dragons are very warm blooded, and our metabolism is really high.' Said Issei.

'You feel really cool on the other hand.' Said Issei.

'Ice magic. I never have a problem keeping my ice cream from melting, but it does take some time to get comfortable with the cold.' Said Serafall.

'Well I like the cold, being too hot can be a problem for dragons.' Said Issei.

'That's funny, most people don't like the cold.' Said Serafall.

'I'm not most people.' Replied Issei.

'No, you aren't, are you? This has been nice Issei, thanks for treating me to some fun.' Said Serafall.

'Hey, as long as there isn't some world ending thing that needs to be fixed, we can do something again, maybe we can even convince Sona to join us.' Said Issei.

'I don't think Sona would enjoy anything similar to what we did today.' Sighed Serafall, causing Issei to tilt his head down slightly.

'Why do you say that?' Asked Issei.

'Sona's has her dreams and wants to pursue them. My dreams are to help Sona with her dreams, and I know if she spent the day with me, it would be as a favour to me and she wouldn't really enjoy it, not when there is some magic she could be studying, or strategy she could be planning a counterattack for.' Admitted Serafall.

'That's your only dream?' Asked Issei softly.

'Well, before the war, I dreamed about ending the war, but otherwise, all I've wanted is for Sona to never have to go through something like that and follow her dreams. My job now is to support her the rest of the way.' Said Serafall.

Serafall was slightly surprised when Issei brought his arms around her and gave her a light hug.

'Don't forget about yourself, I'm sure Sona wants you to be happy and have your own dreams too.' Said Issei.

'Hmm, maybe you're right, but for now I think I will just settle for some actual dreams.' Said Serafall, giving a small yawn, before snuggling further up to rest her head on Issei's chest.

'Why are energetic girls with twin-tails so considerate all the time?' Questioned Issei, before also falling asleep under the stars, lulled to sleep by Serafall's quiet, rhythmic breathing.

Rias the Japanophile – Chapter 2 - Yamato Nadeshiko

Sirzechs decided to check in on Rias. It had been a few weeks since he had gifted her ramen and she had yet to eat it. Finding this sat poorly with him, Sirzechs decided to determine what else he could do. He had considered simply buying more ramen, but if Rias then treated them all the same, her room would be filled with cups of food destined to never be eaten. Eventually, Sirzechs decided to bite the bullet and just ask Rias what she wanted. Knocking on the door of his adorable sister, Sirzechs asked to come in. Moments later, the sound of padded footsteps was heard, with Rias opening the door with a curious gaze.

'What do you want big brother? I'm still not eating the ramen!' Said Rias suspiciously.

'I know, and I accept that, but I really want to see you enjoy something, so I wanted to come and ask you if there is anything else you want me to get you.' Explained Sirzechs, causing Rias to perk up.

'I want my own Yamato Nadeshiko!' Exclaimed Rias, with no signs of hesitation.

'What is that?' Asked Sirzechs, which caused Rias to open her door and gesture for Sirzechs to come in.

Grabbing a manga book off her bookshelf, Rias quickly flicked through a few pages before coming to a stop and showing it to her brother.

'This, I want this!' Said Rias, showing Sirzechs a page in the manga.

'So you want more of these books?' Asked Sirzechs in confusion, causing Rias to shake her head.

'No, not the book, the thing in the picture!' Insisted Rias.

Sirzechs looked at the picture and noticed it depicted a dark-haired woman wearing a kimono holding a tea set.

'So, is it the kimono or the tea set you want?' Asked Sirzechs, causing Rias to comically pull her hair.

'The person. Yamato Nadeshiko is the ideal Japanese beauty.' Explained Rias.

'So you want me to find you a person that looks like this?' Clarified Sirzechs.

'No, it isn't just about looking like this, they need to behave a certain way as well.' Explained Rias, before launching into an in-depth explanation of what it took to be the ideal woman.

'I see. I will keep my eyes out then.' Said Sirzechs, before leaving Rias be for the time being.

-line break-

It was surprisingly hard, or easy, from your perception of time, for Sirzechs to find what Rias wanted. Having heard of a young girl who had been purifying evil spirits in Japan, Sirzechs set out to observe the girl briefly. Sirzechs quickly checked through the points Rias had described. The girl was Japanese, the first and easiest point to tick off the list. The second was her demeanour, having seen how polite and kind she was with others, Sirzechs was sure she satisfied the personality criteria. Her appearance did not quite match the image Rias had shown, but given she was still young, it was difficult to make that assumption. She did have soft facial features and well looked after hair and she was reasonably tall for her age as well, in addition to the fact that she wore traditional Shrine Maiden attire. Sirzechs figured it would be more appropriate to bring someone closer to Rias in age anyway, rather than a twenty-something-year-old more than twice Rias' age. A stumbling block was that she seemed to be a fallen angel and Sirzechs strongly considered the implications and potential future repercussions, however, after hearing of her being hunted by a group of Shinto priests and priestess', Sirzechs made his decision.

Making his way back to the Underworld, Sirzechs quickly spoke with his father and explained the situation, before requesting one of his peerage members to assist, as Sirzechs getting directly involved would be quite the statement. After mulling the thought over for a minute, Zeoticus Gremory agreed, also a keen advocate for spoiling Rias, and called for his Bishop, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, by far his most diplomatic piece. The pair then explained the plan to the bishop, before the three went to see Rias. Knocking on her door again, the same muffled sound of footsteps was heard, with Rias opening the door curiously, before opening it completely upon seeing who was there.

'Is something wrong?' Asked Rias worriedly.

'Oh no my dear, it seems your loving brother has found something for you.' Explained Zeoticus, before gesturing for Heinrich to explain he would be taking Rias to pick something up.

Rias beamed and quickly slammed the door shut, before the sound of rapid movement could be heard. Thirty seconds later, Rias was fully dressed and ready to go.

As the two vanished with a magic circle, the two Gremory shared a moment.

'Isn't Rias adorable? Her excitement is infectious. I don't suppose you know where I could find your mother?' Asked Zeoticus.

'I think she was having tea with Lady Phoenix.' Said Sirzechs.

'I will take my leave then.' Said Zeoticus.

Sirzechs decided to wait outside Rias' room, full expecting them to be back shortly. It was as Sirzechs had expected, only a short fifteen minutes later, before the pair returned, bringing with them a new addition.

'Big brother, this is Akeno of the Himejima clan.' Introduced Rias.

Akeno stepped forward and gave a small bow.

'How do you do? I am Akeno Himejima.' Said the dark-haired girl, giving a small bow, even as Rias seemed to swoon slightly.

'A pleasure to meet you, Akeno. Please look after Rias for me.' Said Sirzechs.

'Of course.' Replied Akeno, before Rias opened her door and started to lead the girl in.

'Thanks big brother. Don't disturb us please.' Said Rias.

Sirzechs smiled in amusement, before briefly asking Heinrich how things had gone, with the bishop explaining her clan had confronted them, but cited their terms of agreement and that as long as she stayed with Rias, she would be left alone.

'That's nice.' Said Sirzechs, only to overhear Rias say something odd.

'You are so good at that, can we do it again a bit more slowly? I've never done something like this before, can you help teach me?' Asked Rias.

Sirzechs curiosity got the best of him and knocked, before opening the door.

'Rias, is everything ok?' Asked Sirzechs.

'Big brother, I said don't disturb us.' Said a pouting Rias, who was now wearing a cosplay shrine maiden costume and was holding a small tea bowl and bamboo whisk.

Akeno was sat in front of a small table, an iron pot nearby.

'Sorry, just wanted to make sure everything was okay.' Said Sirzechs, before closing the door.

"What did I think was going on anyway?" Thought Sirzechs, before shaking his head and walking off.