Eh, just out of habit...
Disclaimer: I do not own Fire Emblem, although I wish to.
Now that that's done...
Alone No More
It was finally over; Nergal was dead, Ninian was back, they stopped the dragons’ return, and everyone was happy…Well, not completely happy and not exactly everybody.
Undoubtedly, there were some a bit saddened to part with Nils, like his beloved sister, Ninian, and a few others because of Sage Athos' death, but neither of the two was the situation of one unique lavender-haired Falcon Knight…
The current occupants of the boat to return of Lycia were lively and happy. Many were chatting leisurely to battle partners, companions, friends, mostly social circles, and some even to lovers, and the main topic was basically anything that was on the mind of the one talking. It was an amazing thing to see, so many different people chatting like lifelong friends. As if they all had known each other for years.
But then again, one would be able to say that they did, for most, if not all, showed eyes that have seen a great deal of adventures and experiences that not even the oldest man could have seen.
That night, only a few people were on the deck of the boat, and majority being either pirates or workers on the boat, and those who were not were slowly going inside the boat.
However, one female looked like she wasn’t going inside soon.
Florina’s arms hugged her body as the cold evening breeze swept through her body, her hair swaying in response to the wind's caress.
‘I shouldn’t have left my armor,’ she thought, rubbing her arms. When she had got on the boat, she immediately went to her room and left her armor, and then she went back up to watch the sea on the side of the boat.
The sea was beautiful, the stars in the sky kissing the water’s surface with bright, shimmering light. The moon, herself, rested among them, sleeping silently on the sea.
She had been in the same spot for some time, meekly greeting familiar companions whenever another greeted her, except towards certain men such as Geitz, and whenever someone asked her what she was doing, like Nino, she would say it was nothing, and although not many were convinced, she was left to her pondering. Her only companion was the tense and unsettled air around her that repelled most of the sailors and pirates away from her.
‘Where can I go now?’ she thought, staring into the sea.
The sea was a welcome distraction from her current problem for the sea, to simply put it, was beautiful that night. The stars’ reflection shining on its surface, the full moon’s own reflection shining brightly in the dark night sky were what kept the Falcon Knight from thinking too much of her problem.
At first, she never pondered on her dilemma; in fact, she hadn't even known of it. She was as happy as everyone else, although she was a little somber over Nil’s departure and Athos' death. She was cheerful and was even more confident around the men of the army, despite it only being a little. That is, until she overheard her sisters’ conversation.
She could still remember it vividly in her mind…
Florina and her sisters were flying on their Pegasi on their way to the boat. Her sisters lead the way, while she was a bit far back, but she could somehow still hear her sisters’ conversation.
“So, Farina, are you finally going come back to Ilia after this?” an azure haired woman asked. She had a serious aura about her, but at the same time, it seemed motherly.
“Nah, I think I’ll stay in Lycia for a while,” Farina, a blue haired beauty, replied. “And besides, I’m thinking of becoming a pirate!” she added nonchalantly.
“A what?” Fiora exclaimed incredulously, looking at her sister as if she had gone crazy..
“A pirate,” she said simply, “I hear it’s becoming quite profitable.” She just ignored her sister’s surprised look.
Fiora, however, couldn’t believe what she was hearing and continued to stared at her sister unbelievingly. Farina misinterpreted it.
“You know, a pirate. Like Dart and Fargus.”
“I know what a pirate is!” Fiora said, frowning visibly. “And why in St.Elimine’s name are you planning to be a pirate?” she asked heatedly.
“That’s my business, little sister, and why do you care?” Farina exclaimed, clearly becoming frustrated and annoyed.
“Um…sisters?” Florina tried saying, but it seemed her voice was but a whisper in the strong winds.
“I care because you are my sister, and you have duties as a knight of Ilia!” Fiora said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Well, I’m staying and you can’t make me go anywhere I don’t want to!” she retorted, fire’s spark beginning to burn in her eyes.
“Ooh! I…fine…” Fiora finally said, defeat in her voice.
“Well I- wait a sec, what?” Farina asked, half surprised and half disbelieving.
“I said fine. Do what you want,” Fiora said calmly, although there was slight disappointment accompanying the sound of her voice.
“Okay…Look, it’s not like I’m complaining, but why are you giving up so easily?” Farina asked curiously.
“You have your reasons, I guess, and I’m tired of all the arguing,” Fiora replied, smiling. It felt good to be able to smile like that to her sister.
Farina smiled in return and said, “You take care, okay?”
And then, she said the statement that put Florina in her dilemma in the first place…
“And it’s not like I’ll be alone with people I don’t know, Dart and Murphy’ll be there with me.”
Florina sighed once more thinking on that one single statement that was making her wonder and ponder so much. It was a personal amazement to her why tears haven’t threatened to stain her face since she started gazing into the sea and sky. She guessed it was because she had become stronger emotionally…at least, she hoped she did.
‘I don’t want to be in a place alone with people I don’t know,’ she thought to herself sadly. ‘Lady Lyn will go with Sir Rath to Sacae, Ninian will stay with Lord Eliwood in Pherae, sister Farina will stay in Lycia, and sister Fiora will go back to Ilia and…and I don’t want to burden anyone,’ she thought somberly.
There it was.
She couldn’t go with Lyn because of all the plainsmen would wonder why there’d be a pegasus flying about; not with Ninian, Fiora, nor Farina to be a burden, at least in her mind, and not with anyone else because she was mostly too shy, or too scared, to males in general, to start a conversation with anyone, let alone stay with that person. And she only knew of a few men whom she talked to, namely Kent, Sain, Wil, Nils, a few knights from Caelin, some men in the army, Eliwood, and Hector.
‘Lord Hector,’ she thought, straying for a moment. She felt her heart skip a beat at the thought of the blue haired lord, and a few more moments later, she found herself wondering what a life with him would.
‘No! Not him,’ she told herself in her mind, shaking her head furiously. ‘I…I can’t go with him…’ she thought somberly, staring down at the dark waters beside the boat. It was then that tiny tears started to sting her eyes.
She sighed at herself for falling in love with him. She thought it shouldn’t be…that it couldn’t be. She thought of herself as only a mercenary and he as a noble who couldn’t possibly like her in that way.
‘Why did I have to fall for him?’ she thought. Of course, she already knew the reason; because he was everything she was not…her exact opposite.
He was brave, strong-willed, confident, loud, and bold, whilst she was too shy, fragile, timid, and was only a small whisper in the loud wind. He even protected her fiercely in battle, not that she didn’t do her part against magic users, but and not only that; he acted as a shield whenever archers and axe-users were nearby.
She shivered as she felt another breeze sweep over her body and wrapped her body in her small arms. And then she thought she saw a large figure’s reflection on the surface of the water just a few feet away from her own.
Slowly, she turned her head to face whoever the owner of the reflection belonged to, since the it was barely visible on the sea surface, and to her surprise it was the same person whom she was thinking about, and to add to her nerves, he was looking at her with an examining look, making her blush several shades of red.
“Ah…Lo-Lord Hector?” she called meekly.
“Hm?” he replied, still watching her, which only made her blush even more.
“Um…c-can I h-help you?” she asked, trying to be polite. She ducked her head to hide her blush, but her eyes were still on him and her arms closed around her body a little more.
“Oh, I just came out to get away from Oswin and all his nagging,” he said, frowning and disregarding her stutter. After all his time with her, he'd gotten used to her stutters and low tones, but she was improving. “He’s been nagging and annoying me ever since…you know what? Let’s not get to that,” he said, shaking his head before turning back to her. “What are you doing her anyway?” he asked, looking at her curiously .
“No-nothing really,” she said, her gaze quickly returning back to the endless horizon.
‘Why is he talking to me?’ she wondered to herself. She still felt that she was inferior to the lordling.
After a few awkward minutes, Hector’s voice broke the silence. “You know, I rarely see you without that pegasus at your side, even on the boat,” he pointed out, eyes widening a little in realization. “Where is that witless flying horse, anyway?” he asked, looking around as if the pegasus would suddenly appear right out of nowhere.
“Huey?” she asked, looking at him. “He is d-down below w-with my sisters’ p-pegasi,” she told him, tilting her head.
“Oh…Well, is there anything I can do for you?” he asked, concern in his voice. His voice had lowered a bit from his usual loud tone, which was a bit out of character for the man.
She looked at him, surprise in her face, and not only that, but she was blushing quite a lot. Of all the time she spent with him, and of all the comments she heard about him, she was surely surprised at his question. Of course, he was known to be concerned towards his friends, but he rarely, if ever, used that tone.
“Florina?” he said, snapping her out of her reverie. His face was now showing his previous concern.
“Oh! I…um…n-no. I-I’m fine,” she said, still a bit surprised.
‘Why did he ask me that question?’ she thought, but she couldn’t help but feel a bit happy that he was concerned for her welfare and found herself smiling, albeit faintly.
“Oh…well, I guess I’ll go back down then,” he said as he walked back to the door. However, before he went down the stairs, he turned his head over his shoulder and asked, “Are you sure?”
Florina, who watched him as he walked back, nodded as her smile widened a little bit more.
At that, Hector returned below deck, an unsure smile on his face. Florina thought she heard him sigh, but then told herself that she was just imagining it and she turned her attention back to the deep blue sea.
For a few minutes, she couldn’t stop thinking why he kept on asking her questions. She found many reasons, but one explanation kept on catching her attention as it persistently entered her mind.
‘He couldn’t possibly feel the same way,’ she thought to herself, closing her eyes hard.
“Could he?” she wondered, her voice almost inaudible to her own ears as she opened her eyes a little. She shook her head to get the thought off her head. “You should stop thinking about him,” she chastised herself in a sort of strong tone. And yet, there was a lingering hope in her that wished it to be true.
“Florina?” a new voice called out.
She once again turned to her back, and to her mild surprise, it was none other than Ninian.
“Oh, hello Ninian” she said, smiling at the cerulean-haired girl.
Ninian smiled back and nodded her head in greeting.
“Is there anything I can help you with?” Florina asked, head tilting and still smiling. She and Ninian were already best friends, even with the little time they spent together, and she almost never stuttered around her.
They seem to share a similar shyness, even if Florina’s was a tad stronger. And their bond only strengthened as they realized that they both came from the same land of Ilia.
“No, I just came here to watch the sky for a while,” Ninian said, looking up.
“Yes,” Florina said, also looking at the night sky. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?” Florina stated, her own eyes sparkling.
And they were right. Since the sea was only reflecting the night sky, it was beautiful, but it could not compare to the sky itself.
The stars twinkled and blinked at them, as if they were joyous that Nergal was defeated and the world was at peace once more, and it even looked like the moon was smiling serenely. And they just looked at the sky for a few moments.
And for that few moments, Florina was happy. Her problem hadn’t entered her mind. And for that, she was grateful, and even more for Ninian’s company, although some thoughts about the bold, blue haired lord did entertain her thoughts.
“Um…Florina?” Ninian suddenly said after a while.
“Yes, Ninian?” she asked, looking at her. Her arms seemed to have unwrapped themselves during the watch and her hands were clasped behind her, one hand over the other.
“I…I was wondering if there was anything troubling you,” Ninian said, looking a bit concerned.
“W-What g-gave you that idea?” Florina asked, surprise in her eyes. She knew for a fact that she didn’t look the part since Ninian arrived, so she wondered how she could have known.
“Well, I heard from…someone…that you looked like you were troubled, so I wanted to see if I could help,” Ninian told her, looking away for a few seconds.
“N-no, I do-don’t have a p-problem,” Florina said, becoming a bit anxious and trying not to show it, but she was failing miserably, as it was obvious in her stutter.
“Are you sure?” Ninian now looked very concerned as he stepped a bit closer towards Florina.
At first, Florina debated whether to tell her of her little problem. Other than Lyn, Ninian was her best friend, and she couldn’t tell Lyn because she would only make her more protective of her, and the Falcon Knight definitely didn’t want that. In the end, she decided that telling someone, especially one of her best friends, was better than telling no one at all.
“I…I guess I do,” Florina said hesitantly, looking a bit sad.
“Florina, I…I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have pried,” Ninian said, now looking, as she said, sorry. She didn’t want to force her to tell her, she just wanted to help a friend in need. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” she added, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“No, I think I need to tell someone, and you are the easiest to talk to,” Florina said smiling, but she also looked sad at the same time.
“I’m sure y-you know that Lyn is g-going back to Sacae w-with Rath,” Florina stated, and Ninian nodded in response. “And my s-sister F-Fiora will go back t-to Ilia report to a-another div-division while sister F-Farina will s-stay in L-Lycia n-near Badon with S-Sir Dart?” she asked, her stutter slowly increasing as pearl-sized tears began to materialize.
“Yes, I heard from Farina herself,” Ninian said, “but what does this have to do with your problem?”
“I-I don’t want to b-burden them with m-me, b-but I d-don’t w-want t-to be a-alone either!” Florina said a bit loudly, larger tears already threatening to fall from her eyes. Her smile was no longer on her face, replaced by a sorrowful sob.
“Oh, Florina,” she said, and made a move to hug her friend and Florina was only too grateful to return it. “You aren’t alone. You can come back with me and Lord Eliwood,” Ninian told her, rubbing Florina’s back comfortingly. “I’m sure he won’t mind.”
“B-but I d-don’t w-want to b-be a bu-burden,” Florina protested softly, reeling away from the hug.
“You won’t be a burden,” Ninian told her, eyes shining. “You’re a great knight, and don’t tell me otherwise. I’ve seen you fight so bravely,” Ninian said before Florina could degrade herself even more.
“S-still,” Florina protested, looking down at the wooden floor.
Ninian sighed, and held one of Florina’s hands. “Please, Florina, just think about it,” Ninian said, staring into her friend's eyes.
“…O-okay…I’ll th-think about i-it,” Florina said, wiping away some tears from her eyes with her free hand and smiling slightly. A small one, but a smile nevertheless.
Ninian smiled back and let go. “Come down soon okay? I’m sure that Lyn or your sisters would not like for you to catch a cold,” Ninian teased in good old-fashioned fun.
Florina smiled wider and nodded, although she knew that she wouldn’t come back down for some time, and that she wouldn’t get a cold because she was accustomed to such cold temperatures.
Ninian walked back, but before she could go down, Florina’s voice called out to her.
Ninian looked back, tilting her head.
“Thank you,” she said, her face looking grateful and relieved. Ninian smiled back and nodded, and went back down.
Florina sighed, now pondering more of her problem.
‘I guess I can go with Ninian…and I guess I’m not too much of a burden…I think,’ she thought, a little of spirit rising, but she still couldn’t help but still feel alone in the world, even with Ninian, Lyn or her sisters around…and she turned back to the sea.
The sky had darkened considerably, but the stars had yet to disappear; they had increased in numbers. Each star twinkled and sparkled, as if singing silently. The moon was still bright in the night sky, its reflection shining and rippling in the deep blue sea. The cool breeze had become cooler, and the wind had become a bit stronger, yet everything still had a calm and serene feeling surrounding them, giving one girl, still on the deck, a sense of security.
Florina was now sitting, her back against a small wall, but she was still looking at the sky. It was already past midnight, but Florina was too preoccupied that she never noticed.
‘I wonder what time it is,’ Florina thought, yawning. She covered it with her hand though. She rubbed her eyes with her hands and stood up weakly. ‘I hope that I hadn’t worried anyone,’ she thought as she slowly began walking to the stairs.
“Ahh!” Florina cried out, bumping into what seemed like a hard stonewall. She fell on the floor of the boat, which was quite hard, and winced. Fortunately, it wasn’t a wall. But much to her discomfort, it was none other than Hector.
He was without his armor however. He was wearing a dark blue sleeveless shirt with a V-shaped collar and brown pants. The outline and features of his body was quite visible under the full moon’s light.
“Hey!” Hector exclaimed, almost falling back down the stairs. Luckily for him, he was able to hold on the handrails. “Florina, are you all right?” he asked after regaining his senses and realizing that the person he bumped into was the lavender-haired girl.
“I…um…I th-think s-so,” Florina stuttered, very surprised and mildly frightened.
“Here, let me help you,” he said, offering his hand.
“Ah…” Florina made no move to reach out. In fact she just sat there, staring at his hand.
“Florina? Are you okay?” he asked once again, kneeling down beside her and looking at her face.
At that moment, she noticed how close they were and blushed profusely. The only time they were closer was when she fell on him in Laus, and right now, she really wanted to pull away.
“Um…I-I th-think s-so,” she said, looking away feeling embarrassed.
Hector seemed to have studied her at that moment, which did nothing to make her blush go away, the opposite really. Her face almost looked like a red tomato.
Then his face became stern and he said, “What are you doing here at this time of night? It’s already past midnight!” he exclaimed.
“Um…I-I w-was j-just…ah.” She tried to say something, but she found that she couldn’t properly say a word, let alone a sentence.
“You could catch a cold, or you could get sick!” Hector scolded her, forgetting the fact that she was from Ilia. However, even as he did so, concern was clear in his face, but Florina was too busy trying to form a sentence in her head to say something and too frightened to actually notice that she worried him.
“I w-was just g-going t-to go d-down n-now,” she finally said, and she now looked like she was going to cry and her blush disappeared, replaced by a flush.
“Florina…come on,” he said, standing up and pulling her up with him, which startled her greatly. “Are you sure your okay?” he asked, studying her face, his hands on her arms. His own face softened considerably after seeing her face, which already threatened to shed tears.
“I…I…” She looked like she was going to cry any second. ‘Don’t cry! Not in front of him,’ she thought, but that didn’t seem to help her dilemma and soon tears stained her pretty face.
“Florina…I,” Hector said, finding himself at a loss for words, and sighed. “I’m sorry,” he finally said, chastising himself for being so hard on the fragile girl as he bowed his head in shame and lowered his arms.
“Y-You d-don’t h-have to ap-apologize,” Florina said sadly. “I-I’m j-just being a bu-burden like always!” she told him, sobbing a lot more. She couldn’t stop her tears anymore, and she’d just shed more if she tried.
“No you’re not,” Hector protested, his face becoming stern once more, but his eyes still held the same softness and care from before. “You were never a burden, Florina,” he told her. “I mean, if it weren’t for you, those mages would have gotten me by now,” he said grinning, hoping to raise her spirits.
“B-but y-you always d-did more th-than that,” she sobbed. “Y-you p-protected me from a-all the a-axes and a-arrows wh-when you c-could g-go and fi-finish the b-ba-battle,” she said somberly. “I’m just a burden t-to ev-everyone!” she declared, her hands rushing to coil around her small body.
“Florina, stop it!” Hector exclaimed, grabbing her shoulders and, for once, losing his patience towards the lavender haired girl. That was enough to stop her from saying anything for he had frightened her, but she knew that it wouldn’t make anything better if she ran away, no matter how much she wanted to right at that moment. The tears, however, refused to end.
“How many times have people said that you aren’t a burden? I know that many people have, Florina,” he said in a knowing tone. “And you should stop calling yourself one or else you won’t be able to get it out of your head,” he said, his face softening once more. “And I will say it again, you’re not a burden,” he said, his hands softening their hold on her shoulders.
At that exact moment, he wanted to hold her, to comfort and care for her, to be there for her in her time of need.
“D-do you th-think s-so?” she asked, rubbing her eyes, her tears shedding lesser and lesser.
“I know so,” he said, smiling. His hands were now back to his sides, propped on each hip. “Besides, if you were, then I’d be a burning pile of heap with all those Fire and Elfire tomes,” he said, his smile becoming a good-natured grin. He may not be able to hold her as he would have liked, but he could at least be there for her, and he could at least try to make her smile.
And then, she did something that he never suspected. She giggled. She was closing her eyes and she giggled.
At first, it surprised Hector, but then he grinned and gave his own chuckle. This, then, made Florina blush yet again, and she ducked her head.
“You know, you look kind of cute when you do that,” he said, smiling. “I wonder how you look when you laugh,” he said, his eyes looking at her intently, only making her blush for what seemed the millionth time because of what he did or say.
“Um…ah…I th-think I should go now,” she said, smiling a little as she turned back to him. It looked like the waterworks had stopped…at least for now.
In Hector’s opinion, she looked beautiful, even with puffy red eyes and flushed face, but he didn’t want to let her go, at least, not yet.
“Florina, wait, I…I wanted to ask you something,” he said hesitantly.
“Um…w-what is it?” she asked, a little surprised and taken aback.
“You never answered my previous question,” he pointed out a matter-of-factly, crossing his arms.
“What are you doing here?” he asked once again, eyebrow raised.
“Oh.” She didn’t know what to say now.
‘What should I say?’ she thought, looking away, one hand on her chest. She couldn’t tell him of his problem…could she?
“I w-was just th-thinking about so-something,” she said vaguely, not really wanting to lie to him.
“About what?” he asked curiously. He didn’t want to pry, but he wanted to help her. In a way, he knew something was troubling her.
“N-nothing important,” she said meekly.
“Don’t give me that,” he said, a stern line on his lips. “I may not have known you for long, but I do know that if someone stays up past midnight, not noticing the time I might add, there has gotta be something wrong.”
“R-really,” she said, “i-it’s nothing.” She hoped she sounded believable, but somehow, she knew she didn’t.
Hector sighed, and for once, looked completely defeated. His shoulders sagged and his head bowed, stray hair falling on his face.
“Florina, you’re the only woman that ever made me this desperate, and I’m tired of all this guessing, now please Florina, tell me what’s wrong, you’re worrying me,” he said, sounding, like he said, desperate, as he ran his hand over his hair before looking at her.
She looked at him, and he didn’t look like the Hector she saw just a few seconds ago. Instead of stern, confident, and full of cheer, he now looked completely concerned, worried, and troubled. His eyes also seemed to show a deep sadness that struck at her.
“Lord Hector…” Florina now felt remorse for worrying him so. One look at him made her want to hate herself. “I g-guess…if y-you’re s-so worried about m-me,” she said reluctantly.
“So, let’s have it,” he said, slowly reverting back to his former self. He took a deep breath. He really was worried and concerned; he just wasn’t one to show that side of him often, even around his closest friend, Eliwood.
“I…I w-was just…th-thinking where I’d g-go after a-all th-this,” she said slowly.
“And…where will you go?” Hector asked. At first, Florina thought she saw hope lingering in his eyes, but she dismissed it as her imagination once again.
“I…d-don’t know,” she said, looking back at the sea. “I don’t want to b-be a burden t-to anyone, b-but I don’t w-want to be alone.” Her hands were now back in their previous positions: hugging her body.
Hector sighed as he shook his head. “Do we have to go back through this?” he asked, exasperated. “You aren’t a burden Florina, and if you aren’t convinced, I’ll just have to ask everyone in the army,” he told her as his arms spread out, “and you aren’t alone, Florina.”
For a few seconds, he just stood there and looked at her. Then he looked like he was going to say something, but it took him a while to actually say it. “Besides, I can name one person that wants you to be at his side,” he said hesitantly. And then he frowned. “Other than Sain, that is. He’d willingly go with any unlucky female he sees.”
He now had Florina’s full attention. Of course she thought that, but then told herself that no one would want to be with someone as shy and uncoordinated as her. Fortunately for her, she was wrong, and what he said just proved it.
“R-really?” she asked. She was almost too scared to ask her next question, but she wanted, no, needed to know the answer. “Wh-who?”
“You really don’t know?” he asked her back. He looked anxious, scared even, but no one who would have seen him then would go that far.
She shook her head. “Please, tell me,” she said. She didn’t even notice that she hadn’t stuttered and she was too caught up that she hadn’t noticed how nervous Hector was at that moment, nor did she notice that she stepped closer to him.
He muttered something almost inaudible, but Florina could hear it because of how close they were.
“What?” she asked. Her eyes were wide and her hand went to her chin; she restrained herself from covering her mouth in utter surprise and disbelief.
“It’s me, Florina,” he said with finality. “I want you to be at my side.” He then looked away and scratched behind his head. He thought that he would be confident whenever he was talking about this with the opposite gender, especially to someone like Florina; unfortunately for him, he was wrong, and that just made him really uncomfortable.
“L-Lord Hector…I…ah” It was her turn to be at a loss for words. It was a wonder for her that she hadn’t fainted.
“Look, Florina, I know that this seems…awkward…but I really do want you to be with me,” he said. “When I said I didn’t want you to leave my side, I guess I wasn’t only referring to the battlefield,” he told her, smiling uncertainly. “So will you stay with me?” he asked boldly, hope in his voice.
“Oh…Lord Hector!” she exclaimed, now crying once more, but they were tears of somewhat a combination of happiness and relief. She rushed towards him and embraced him. She buried her heard in his chest, as the tears started to increase in quantity, but Hector didn’t seem to mind that.
To Hector, this was a big surprise, especially with Florina’s normal attitude, but it was not an unwelcome gesture. He let out the breath he didn’t know he was holding and slowly returned the embrace, careful not to crush her petite form. He let his cheek rest on her head. He let one of his hands run through her hair as a small, satisfied smile appears on his face.
Florina hadn’t known what had gotten into her that night, but she was happy it happened, and she hoped it would have lasted for just a little while longer. It was all very surreal to her. She had always dreamt of him holding her like this, she almost thought it was, and she always woke up blushing madly after.
“So, I’m pretty sure this is a yes, right?” he asked, but he was pretty sure of the answer.
She let out something like a cross of a giggle and a sob and nodded her head against his chest.
Hector sighed happily and raised his head to look at her.
“Florina?” he said softly to get her attention.
“Hm?” She turned her head towards him. She was still crying a little, but his shirt dried up most of the tears. Her eyes were a bit red and puffy and her cheeks were a bit pinkish. Besides all that, she smiled at him.
‘Beautiful,’ Hector thought, entranced, even though her eyes were a bit red and puffy. Her face was cradled by stray, violet curls and her cheeks were pink. He cupped one of her cheek with his free hand and his other hand stopped running through her hair.
She closed her eyes and pressed her face against his palm. She half-opened her eyes and gazed at him dreamily. She was beginning to think that this really was a dream. But she knew this was real. And that made her very happy.
‘Oooh, he’s leaning closer!’ she thought ‘What do I do?’ she thought, but she couldn’t do anything either way, for it seemed that her body already made the decision for her. She leaned closer and closed the gap between them, closing her eyes.
It was a gentle kiss, not like the ones she used to see Farina do with her occasional boyfriends when they were so young. In fact, it felt like a soft and gentle caress, until Hector pressed a little bit more. They were so close that she could feel a few strands of his longer bangs that hung off his face.
Florina had never felt that way before. She thought that he tasted similarly to honey, but also a bit like wine. She was all tingly inside and she felt her cheeks heat up, meaning she must have blushed again. For Hector, he thought that her lips tasted sweet with a hint of sweet-tasting milk. He also had a somewhat similar experience as the Falcon Knight in his arms.
“Um…uh…well, that was…ah,” was all Hector could say after they broke the kiss. His hand fell from her face and to her back and he looked away, feeling a bit embarrassed, but he turned back when Florina gave another giggle. “Well at least I did something right,” he muttered, flashing her his trademark grin.
Her blush once again intensified, but she only rested her head on his chest, still smiling meekly. She sighed and closed her eyes as his head rested on her own.
‘I…I want him to know,’ she thought.
“Um…Lord Hector?” Florina’s voice piped, her eyes opening a little. She looked at him with sleepy but beautiful eyes.
“I…um…ah…” She couldn’t find the words to say to him anymore. Yet he smiled at her.
“Don’t worry, Florina. I know,” Hector said, pulling her head back to his chest and then he smelled her hair. Her scent reminded him faintly of lavender flowers, and it calmed and relaxed him to comfortable extent.
Florina’s smile lessened, but she was never happier than ever before that night. She closed her eyes and snuggled closer to him.
And they just stayed like that. Well, until Hector suddenly felt Florina suddenly becoming limp in his arms.
“Florina?” he said, looking at her face.
‘She’s asleep!’ he thought. ‘Well, she was up most of the night…I hope no one will mind if she isn’t in her room.’ In truth, he was almost as tired as her. It was a personal amazement to him that they were able to stay up that long.
He slowly slipped his hand under her legs and lifted her up, one arm under her knees and the other supporting her upper body. Her arms were still around him however, not that he minded.
He walked down the stairs, carefully carrying the sleeping girl.
‘Thank Elimine I left the door open,’ he thought as he went down with extra care, especially since it was hard to see inside, even with the torches and lanterns.
Hector sighed in relief when he was finally inside…that is, until a sharp voice sounded through the corridor of the boat.
“What are you doing at this time of night, Hector?”
Hector almost dropped Florina when he quickly turned towards the owner of the voice, which was none other than the tactician, Gales.
“It’s you,” Hector said, his heart slowing back to its normal speed. “I should ask you the same question,” he said, slightly irritated.
“I always wake up this early. You should know that, since I wake you and Eliwood up some of the times,” Gales retorted, frowning. Then he saw Florina and smirked. “And why, may I ask, is Florina in your arms, sleeping?” he asked mischievously.
“Ah, well, you see, that is,” he said. Hector tried to find an excuse, but he was drawing a blank all thanks to his tiredness.
“No need to explain,” Gales told him, raising a palm up. “I’ll see what I can do when Lyn and Florina’s sisters wake up,” he continued.
“Wha?” Hector, blinking, was dumbfounded.
“I know that Florina’s been there all night, and I think that she needs all the rest she can get with you watching her most of the time,” Gales said, folding his arms. “And don’t even try to escape from this one, Hector. I know that you’ve been watching her.” And before he could protest, he added, “And that you’ve been worried ‘bout her, so just get some rest,” he said with such finality that Hector decided to comply.
Hector shook his head in defeat. “How do you know, anyway?” Hector asked.
“That’s for me to know, and for you to never find out,” he replied smugly, walking the opposite way of Hector’s room before the blue lord could ask him the question again. Hector thought he saw a light blue object whiz towards Gales retreating form, but he decided that he just imagined it.
Hector gave up at that and went back to his room, still carrying the sleeping Florina and thinking, 'I need some sleep'.
When they reached his room, he laid Florina on his bed and he sat at the edge, gazing at her petite form.
“Beautiful,” he murmured as he looked at her, and he felt the urge and need to protect her hit him full force. “Hopefully, Lyn and her sisters will give me a fast death,” he said to himself, running his hand behind his head.
No, he didn’t underestimate Gales’ offer to ‘save’ him against the three, it’s just that he doubted that anyone, even Athos, could stop three enraged women who will most likely want to rip his head off. He knew how overprotective those three were when it involved Florina, especially Lyn.
He got a nearby chair and put it beside his bed. He knew how far he got with his relationship with Florina and he wasn’t going to push his luck. He got an extra pillow from the bed and laid it behind his head. Luckily, the chair was tall and it reached his head.
His last few thoughts before he fell asleep were only about the petite figure sleeping in his bed that night...
“Mmm,” a waking Florina murmured. She felt someone shaking her sleepiness away…most of it anyway.
“Oh good, your awake,” a familiar voice said to her.
Florina rubbed some of the remaining sleepiness out of her eyes and focused on whoever woke her up. To her surprise, it was Priscilla. She was sitting at the edge of the bed opposite to where she was sleeping.
“Lady Priscilla? W-where are we?” Florina asked, sleepily sitting up.
“We’re in Lord Hector’s room,” Priscilla told her, smiling.
“L-Lord H-Hector?” Florina asked, now fully awake. She looked around, but she found that the lord wasn't in the room.
“You don’t remember what happened last night?” Priscilla asked, frowning a little.
“It’s a l-little blurry, but I think I remember s-some,” Florina replied, her cheeks pinkish.
“Well, maybe it’s because you just woke up. You’ll remember sooner or later,” she said, smiling once more.
“Um…w-where is L-Lord Hector?” Florina asked meekly.
“Hm? He’s with Lady Lyn, Sir Gales, and your sisters. I think in Sir Gales’ room; I’m not really sure. Sorry,” Priscilla replied.
“Oh…” Florina was now sitting on the bed beside her.
“I hope you don’t mind if I ask, but what are you doing in Lord Hector’s room?” Priscilla asked, tilting her head.
“Um…I…ah…” Florina blushed three shades of red and looked away, embarrassed.
Priscilla giggled and said, “You don’t have to tell me. I was just curious.”
Florina smiled and giggled. And then she noticed how she was less shy around her now. ‘I guess Lord Hector was right,’ she thought happily.
Right then, she thought better of herself and that she should at least try to make friends with Priscilla. When she first saw Priscilla, she thought that she shouldn’t even try because of their social standings. She was a mercenary and she was the daughter of a noble, but she now saw that Priscilla was the same as any other person she met.
Of course, that still didn’t mean she wasn’t shy anymore; she was still the same shy Florina that everyone knew, just a little bit more confident in herself.
Then there was a knock on the door.
“It’s open,” Priscilla called out to the person out the door.
It wasn’t much of a surprise to Florina when she saw Lyn come inm but wondered where her sisters were. She found out much later that Farina and Fiora would have come, too, but Farina needed to talk with Dart and Fiora still had to feed their pegasi, so they let Lyn take care of Florina until they were done, at least, that's what Lyn had told her then.
“Good morning, Lady Lyndis,” Priscilla said politely. “I’ll take my leave now,” Priscilla said, walking away and waved Florina goodbye.
Florina returned it with a nod. And then she turned her attention back to the other occupant of the room.
“Um…Hello Lady Lyndis,” Florina said shyly.
And then she was bombarded by questions, each one punctuated with a concerned, “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Hey, hey, give the girl some air,” another voice cut in. The owner of the voice belonged to Gales, who just came in the room with Hector.
“Ah…g-good morning Sir Gales…um…L-Lord Hector,” Florina said, shyly looking at the pair.
Hector smiled and nodded. He didn’t dare say anything, especially since Lyndis was still furious with him, and it showed in her glare at him.
“I don’t know why I even bother with you, Gales!” Lyn exclaimed. She was also angry with Gales for not telling her where Florina was last night when he found out.
“She’s alright, ain’t she?” Gales asked back offhandedly. “Besides, would you rather wake her up when she stayed up past midnight?” he asked rhetorically.
“Well, no…I guess not,” Lyn said, frowning, “but you still could have told me!”
“And get beat up because you were cranky? Not a chance, Lyn,” Gales retorted, smirking.
Hector stared in wonder at Gales but said nothing. Gales was too competitive and too much of a daredevil, and he always found a way to get Lyn, and practically every other short-tempered person alive, aggravated at him, which he considered a challenge to get away from her. Of course, they still have a friendly relationship, since it was because of Gales that she was able to be with Rath, and because he was the foundation of all their battles won.
“Gales!” Lyn said threateningly.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry,” he said. “But you know I’m right. I sure still remember the last time I tried to wake you up,” he added, muttering the last part to himself.
“What did you say!”
“Nothing! Now come on, I still need your help in something,” Gales said quickly, walking out and then changing to a sprint when he was out of the room.
“Hey! I’m not done with you, yet! Come back here!” Lyn called out, running after him. And then a loud crash echoed into the room, followed by, “That’s it, Gales! I’m personally going to rip your head off and feed it to Heath’s wyvern!”
“Hey, don’t drag Hyperion into this mess!” Heath’s voice could be heard from down the corridor where Lyn ran.
And then, unsuspectingly, Hector burst out laughing, startling the timid Florina.
“Didn’t think she’d fall for that,” Hector exclaimed, his laughter dying down.
“Ah?” Florina was utterly dumbfounded. Sometime during the conversation, she had moved to sit at the edge of the bed right where Priscilla sat.
As Hector's laughing died down, he looked at her, laughter in his eyes. “Sorry, I kind of made a deal with Gales, since I wanted to have some time with you before we get off the boat,” Hector told her, moving to close the door.
He went towards her and sat beside her, his hand over hers, and she made no move to pull away. “I hope you don’t mind,” he added softly, smiling.
Florina shook her head slowly. She smiled slightly and her cheeks became pink. She ducked her head to hide it, however. Whatever she did, she could never help but be shy around him.
“So I guess what happened to you last night was a onetime thing, huh?” he asked, smirking playfully as he softly pulled at her chin to make her look at him.
Her blush deepened as she remembered how she just ran towards him and embraced him unexpectedly. “I-I guess,” she replied meekly.
“You are staying with me in Ostia, right?” he asked, eyeing her curiously. His eyes also held a silent fear; a fear that she might’ve changed her mind.
Florina, too nervous and shy at the remark, nodded meekly and smiled a bit wider. Hector sighed and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and index finger.
“D-Did I say something wrong?” Florina asked, concerned a little, her smile turning upside down for the moment.
“No, I’m just glad you remembered, and I’m still a bit tired thanks to Lyn and you sisters,” he said, facing her again, grinning a bit sleepily. And then he just stared at her again, a small smile on his lips.
‘Does he always stare at me like this?’ she thought, her blush intensifying a lot more. She felt like she had blushed more than a whole year in just a few hours, but her smile was once again back on her face, albeit slightly because of Hector's gaze on her.
Florina squealed as Hector suddenly pulled her towards him and on his lap and then embracing her. It took her a few seconds for her to respond, but she returned the embrace, letting her head lie on his shoulder, and his on hers. She sighed as she snuggled closer to him.
“And you don’t have to worry anymore, Florina,” he said soothingly, “I…love you…” He looked at her lovingly. “And you’re not alone,” he added with a soft but loving smile.
Florina’s smile widened. Hector never knew how much those words affected her, especially from him. His hand went to her chin and pulled her face to his…
…And then, she felt his lips touch hers into a passionate kiss…