Author's Note: Fire Emblem is the property of Intelligent Systems and Nintendo.
"You're taking an age to open that thing on purpose, aren't you?"
"If you'd be quiet for just a second, and let me concentrate..." Matthew grunted; a typical response. It was just like Matthew, to blame something like this on her, however indirectly. As though she wouldn't notice!
Serra heaved a melodramatic sigh, leaning against the stone wall behind her, twirling her staff idly as she watched Matthew work. As usual, the man had been sent to pilfer various treasure stores, and as usual, she was expected to stay by him in the unlikely event that he ran into trouble along the way. Of course, he'd let slip once or twice that Hector expected him to protect her, in turn it was something she liked to bring up every so often, in fact. It always brought him down a peg when he occasionally got out of hand.
She smiled, though only briefly, for as amusing that line of thought might have been, it did not change the fact that snooping about for treasure was dreadfully dull work. The sounds of battle echoed in the distance; faint shouts and the clashing of weapons outside of the tiny room they were, for the moment, confided within. Serra glanced longingly for the door; it was terribly dark, and she, predictably, couldn't see a thing through that threshold.
"Hn…" She raised a brow at Matthew, though his back was turned to her for the moment, and tossed her head back flippantly. "Please. You don't have to hide it from me! But really, Matthew, if you're so desperate to spend time alone with me, there are better ways. You're not fooling anyone, fumbling around with the lock to that chest!"
She watched, a half smile again gracing her features, as the thief turned around to fix her with an incredulous stare, the lock pick he held in his hand glinting briefly in the eerie darkness that surrounded them.
"…I am not even going to grace that with a response," He replied, and though his face was partially obscured in shadow, Serra could just imagine that disapproving stare he must have been sporting. He always had that look on his face, it seemed, when he spoke with her.
She didn't mind. It must have been hard, after all… smitten with an Eliminean Cleric, and all. She smirked.
"Your silence is very telling, Matthew…"
"Perhaps you should take the hint!"
"Well, you don't have to take such a rude tone!" Serra took on a hurt expression, her hands going automatically to her hips, her staff dangling idly from the crook of her arm. It was a pose she'd adopted often when dealing with Matthew, truthfully.
There was no reply from the crouching figure before her; she sighed again, noting that the sounds of battle had faded even further – she wondered briefly if they'd managed to rescue that prince. She shifted impatiently. What if someone had been injured? It really wasn't fair to keep their only sister confined like this, waiting for Matthew to perform boring tasks!
"Fine. If you're going to be that way… maybe I should go on and leave you be, hm? Maybe… I'll go find someone who'd appreciate my support!"
"Support!" Matthew snorted, without even bothering to glance in her direction. "Right, good luck with that, then."
"You'll get in trouble, you know," Serra crossed her arms, frowning. "Hector told you to watch out for me!"
"Well, Mark told me to open these chests."
"Yes, and we've seen how successful you've been with that, haven't we?" Serra teased him; he grunted noncommittally in response. She sniffed.
"Fine! I'm going."
No response. She took a step for the door. It was rather dark out there…
"Do you hear? I'm leaving. Just a sweet, innocent sister, walking out onto the field of battle, completely unprotected…!"
No response. She swung her staff around, using her free hand to push the door that separated her from the rest of the manse, and the battle within it, further open. She could still hear the sounds of battle; a little clearer, out of that room. She stepped outside, into the open hall.
"Hmph. As though I need his protection – he's so ungrateful! He'd have been dead a thousand times over if it wasn't for my healing… he's lucky, in fact, that I'm so very generous, to patch him up when he's so… so…!"
She trailed off, a scraping sound at her back freezing her words in her throat. She looked back; she had wandered rather far from that room, in retrospect. She hasn't meant to go so far. It was so very dark.
"M-Matthew?" She called, rather tentatively. He was probably doing this just to scare her! It'd be just like him! "That's not funny, knock it off!"
Footsteps, and a shadowed figure; she could hardly make it out in the gloom.
"…Will you stop skulking like that?" She exclaimed, taking a few steps back despite herself. "If you're trying to make me regret leaving you, I…"
Again, her words tumbled into nothing; as the man edged nearer, it became increasingly clear that he was definitely not Matthew. For one, Matthew did not wear flowing robes – just that silly cloak he was so attached to, and… her blood froze as a guttural voice emanated from the figure before her. A voice utterly devoid of thought, of feeling, of the barest emotion.
The thought flashed briefly in her mind before she regained sense enough to move – she dove blindly forward, a rush of air and a peculiar sense of… warping pulling at the corner of her senses as the morph shaman's incantation reached its completion. She had no idea what she was facing; she was only vaguely aware of the fact that she had just narrowly avoided what could have been a critical injury.
If there was one thing she did have in common with Matthew, it was, of all things, speed.
She could already hear the man beginning another chant, and there was nothing she could do to stop him – if only she'd paid a little more attention to learning light magic, or if Merlinus even had a spare tome – she came dangerously close to letting a shrill laugh escape her lips. She was fast. She could outrun
Another explosion of night, impossibly blacker than she could have ever imagined, erupted around her. She did scream, then – a foul sense of pressure, an overwhelming sense of sorrow, and Lady Elimine, she couldn't breathe – could anyone even hear her?
I am not going to die here!
The pain passed; the spell faded away, and she was left on rubbery legs, gasping for air. Another would be coming. Another, and another, until she had perished. A new incantation began.
Her body tensed of its own accord – Oh, Saint Elimine, have mercy on your servant – but the shock she had tensed herself for never arrived. She heard a curse, a familiar voice, and relief flooded through her, so strong that it nearly brought tears to her eyes.
Relief, and then a sudden, cold sense of worry.
"Matthew!" She cried, aware that her voice was high pitched and shrilly – really, quite unbecoming for a woman of her lineage – "Matthew, where—"
"Stay there!" He shouted back, and she could just make him out, now, a slippery shadow at the edge of her vision. Something about the way he moved was… wrong. She remembered the last incantation she had heard, the attack that had never came, and she suddenly felt very cold. She was already shrugging off the effects of her injuries; magical attacks were less damaging to her… but to Matthew…
"I will not!" She exclaimed furiously – how dare he order her away, when he was injured, no less –
The enemy paid her no mind, regardless, its attention completely on Matthew, who had sprung quite abruptly, sword in hand and face a mask of determination. His first strike elicited not even the barest sound from the morph he had struck; in fact, the man went on chanting as though nothing had happened. Serra let out the tiniest of screams as another cloud of black energy burst forth, obscuring her already poor view of the combatants. There were muffled sounds, the distinct noise of a body falling heavily to the floor – her heart skipped, and her paralysis broke.
She ran toward them, tears filling her eyes.
The cloud dissipated, and she allowed her eyes a wild search.
"Will you stop shouting?" A blessedly familiar voice. "Do you want to call more of them to us?" Oh, yes, he sounded annoyed, now. That was Matthew, all right – but for once, she didn't mind.
"You're hurt. Hold still," She insisted briskly, pretending quite admirably that she had not, in fact, been ready to cry a moment ago for his sake. He didn't need to know!
"So are you," He muttered, even as her staff shone brilliantly, illuminating the area around them for a brief moment Matthew's tired gaze, the corpse of the morph he had just managed to best beside them.
"I'm all right," Serra insisted, watching as Matthew got to his feet, with that – dare she say it? – adorably bewildered expression he always sported after being healed, as though he had expected her magic to have no effect. She wouldn't put it past him to think such a thing. So ungrateful!
"You shouldn't have taken off like that!" He insisted suddenly, raising his voice in a manner that was rather odd for him. Was that worry in his voice? "You… are… insane, to go running out here like that, when you can't even see, and you don't know what's ahead of you – why are you laughing! I'm serious!"
"Awww…" Serra giggled, slinging her arm around him, much to his dismay. "Was poor, deluded Matthew worried about little old me?" She blinked at him in a innocent, yet still somehow provocative manner. Matthew vaguely noted that clerics were not supposed to be provocative.
"What do you mean, deluded?" he insisted, shaking her off of him at once.
"About your feelings for me, of course!" Serra batted her eyes again, and Matthew cursed the fact that he could see her quite clearly, even in this darkness. Serra was not appealing. Not at all. So what if she could be cute, at times?
What was he thinking?
"Oh, come off it," He muttered, turning away from her, very glad that she, at least, couldn't see him – he was fairly certain he was blushing. Clerics were not supposed to make men blush. "It's no different than what you said before – if I let something happen to you, Lord Hector would be furious. Though I can't imagine why!"
"He's probably smitten with me, too…" Serra sighed dreamily, and Matthew made a very distinct gagging noise, prompting her to frown at him most disapprovingly. "It must be so hard for you boys, to be in love with a sweet little cleric like me…!"
"Oh, please…" Matthew sighed, indicating for her to follow. "We'd better find the others… hurry up, will you?"
"You're telling me to hurry up? Hmph!" She sniffed, tossing her head back, her pigtails bouncing childishly. Innocently. Adorably. Matthew frowned. "I take it you managed to get those chests open, finally, did you?"
"What was inside?"
"Liar!" She complained, rushing to catch up with him, for he'd spun quite abruptly on his heel and was retreating away from her at a rather quick pace. "There had to be something, what was it?"
Matthew smiled. She was crazy – Elimine's craziest cleric. Perfect.
"I'm not telling," He decided, quickening his pace.
"Ooooh! You are so mean! The least you can do, after making me wait all that time ..."
She continued talking, of course, as only Serra could – he'd never admit it, but when he'd heard that scream… well, getting in trouble with Lord Hector hadn't been what had made his blood run cold, he was sure.
Her words ran together as he let his thoughts wander, but he didn't mind.
The sound of her voice was all that mattered.