Azur Lane: Episode of Belfast Volume 1 Chapter 4 Part 8
Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
[When I asked that Akashi girl from the store to help me out a little bit, she quickly prepared a variety of different outfits that are sure to cover a huge range of different tastes.]
Now that Belfast knew that it was not Queen Elizabeth who prepared those outfits, Belfast could let out a sigh of relief deep down inside of her heart. However, there was no way that Belfast could afford to wear any of those outfits for the purpose of the promotional photo shoot.
[Your Majesty…… Umm, I would just like to check real quick, but you have not actually forgotten the theme that the Royal Navy decided on for this year’s contest, have you?]
[Of course I haven’t forgotten about it! It’s all about “elegance” and “beauty”, right? However, I know that this is for the sake of our promotion, but just because it is like that it doesn’t mean that you have to wear your usual maid uniform, Bel. Besides, I want this dress to be kept a secret until the very end, when it is finally the time for the contest to take place. As for the overall theme, once you are on that stage you can express yourself in any way you like, so for now pick one of those outfits so we can get this photo shoot started! Then we can pick the best pictures and decide on the poster that will appeal to everyone around the port!]
At that moment Belfast thought that it was entirely possible that Elizabeth failed to understand what the Head Maid was hinting at here.
So, even though Belfast was admiring just how fired up Elizabeth seemed to be about this entire thing, she had to make sure that everything was perfectly clear.
[Your Majesty, I believe it would be best if we were on the same page about this entire matter. Otherwise we are running the risk of losing out sense of purpose and direction here.]
[Well, that may be so, but……]
「Please, Your Majesty. I implore you: just this once, since I am going to represent the entire Royal Navy, I would like you to listen to my words and refrain from doing what your whims tell you to do.」
This was the only way to resolve this situation, even though it was also something that Belfast was honestly hoping that she would never have to say out loud to her beloved queen.
It was already a tremendous weight being put off of Belfast’s shoulders that this swimsuit picture was scrapped for a promotional poster, but if their original theme was going to deviate even further from what it was supposed to be, it would become completely ruined and unsalvageable.
「Ugh…… Alright, I guess. Then, can you stand right there for a moment?」
While sounding all grumpy and disappointed about this, Elizabeth pointed towards the window while she was holding onto her single-lens reflex camera.
Feeling relieved, Belfast stood where she had been told. Elizabeth then looked into the viewfinder, but then she took her eyes off of it after a moment.
「Aren’t you going to strike a pose or something like that? If you don’t at least do that, there’s no point in making that picture into a poster-worthy material.」
「A pose, you say?」
That statement was actually true: just casually standing by the window and doing nothing felt rather dull. As a test of sorts, Belfast tried to pinch the hem of her apron.
「What do you think about that?」
Elizabeth took her eyes off the viewfinder once more and nodded her head.
「I think that it’s pretty good. Also, how about you try to change your facial expression for a bit? Try to smile a little, and then tilt your head to the side…… Yes, that’s it! Just like that! Also, rather than having a boring straight angle like this, we might want to try to adjust the angle her for a better effect.」
Doing as she was told, Belfast tilted her head and tried to smile softly, in response to which Elizabeth moved to the side and snapped the shutter in an instant.
「Yeah! That’s the good stuff! That honestly felt like a really good photo right there! But I feel like it would be a huge waste to use it solely for the purpose of poster-making.」
Belfast approached Elizabeth, who seemed to be genuinely satisfied with how the photo ended up.
「As for me, well, I guess I cannot really say anything until we develop the film and see how the picture turned out.」
「Oh, rest assured. It is a really good photo. I’m going to make it into a poster by tomorrow, and then we can just go and distribute them all over the Home Port!」
Placing the camera on the table in her room, Elizabeth glanced at Belfast.
「Also, Bell. I think it would be a whole lot better if you were smiling a little bit more in front of other people, you know? I know that there are people out there who are genuinely oblivious to their own charms, but that’s taking it a little bit too far, don’t you think?」
「Being oblivious to my own charm…… Your Majesty?」
Belfast thought about it for a moment, but that only resulted in her becoming even more lost and unable to understand it.
Edinburgh said something like that to her once before. That she should take a moment to look inside of herself and do whatever feels natural for her. However, since Belfast was only focused on serving others with all of her might for as long as she could possibly remember, she never actually had time to go and take a good look inside of herself. That’s why it was hard for the Head Maid to understand.
「Hm? What’s wrong, Bel?」
Seeing just how troubled Belfast seemed to become, Elizabeth looked at her face with a curious, but also slightly worried expression.
「I-I’m sorry, Your Highness. It seems that I was lost in my own thoughts a little bit for a moment out there.」
Just as Belfast was about to tell Elizabeth that it was nothing and that there was no need for her to worry, she suddenly remembered what had happened at the previous meeting.
「Speaking of which, Your Majesty. I would like to talk to you a little bit about the role of the Maid Corps throughout the duration of the School Festival ––––––」
* * *
Ever since that moment, Belfast has been thinking about what she wanted to do for the contest specifically while doing her daily maid work flawlessly.
When he had free time to spare, she would just stare vaguely at the puffy clouds floating in the autumn sky from the window, or while watching the waves crash against the shoreline, she would ponder how she would express herself in the form of a performance that everyone would find entertaining. However, so far she was drawing up a blank. And that fact worried her to no end.
Everyone from the Maid Corps who would see Belfast looking all melancholic and lost in thought like that would oftentimes approach her and ask her what seemed to be wrong, but every single time she would just laugh it off and dismiss the matter as nothing all that serious.
–––––– Perhaps she was simply overthinking this entire matter. Maybe the best kind of performance is the one that comes naturally, without planning and thinking about it for so long?
That’s was what she thought the night before the School Festival was about to begin. Belfast, who had come to Illustrious’s room again after cleaning up after the dinner was over, finally got to try the dress out for herself, in order to get the feel for it before the Beauty Pageant would begin tomorrow.
Illustrious, who had just finished checking out the dress’s waist, looked up at Belfast’s face.
「Everything’s alright? Is it not too tight? No trouble with breathing?」
「Huh? Ah. N-No, it’s fine. Everything’s fine.」
Perhaps relieved to hear Belfast say that, Illustrious stroked her chest and sat down on the chair while letting out a small sigh.
「That’s good to hear. I’m glad we were able to adjust the dress in time.」
「And with some finishing touches here and there, it’s literally perfect!」
While Victorious also nodded her head in satisfaction, Belfast cast a quick glance towards Unicorn.
She was just gazing at Belfast in complete silence while hugging Yuu-chan close to her chest.
「Unicorn-san? Is something the matter?」
When Belfast called out to her, Unicorn blinked in surprise and then she quickly turned her gaze away from the Head Maid.
「…N-No, it’s nothing……」
Seeing Unicorn hide behind her big sister Illustrious back in a hurry, Belfast was able to vaguely remember that the little Aircraft Carrier was also looking at her like that with her absent-minded eyes when they were taking her measurements before.
「I-It’s just that…… You really look like a genuine Princess while wearing that dress……」
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Azur Lane: Episode of Belfast
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