A/N: Alright, time for more Fire Emblem fics! Yay! Okay, this pic is dedicated to my one of my favorite pairings, Eliwood and Hector. They're just... so CUTE! 8D Ahem... Anyways, this takes places pretty early in the game plot, so there's no Ninian or Lyndis to whine about. I hate love triangles, they're so annoying. :( But anyways, I worked hard on this, and it turned out WAY longer than I expected it to, so bear with me. Please, read on!
I'll Be There
A bond between friends is strong.
A unity that can stand the test of time.
We're always at each other's side, through thick and thin.
Though it's mostly you who needs the support.
But know that you are not weak.
You could survive on your own if you tried.
But just know
That no matter where you are,
No matter what happens,
I will always be there for you.
"...Hmmp. They really are preparing for battle..." Hector grunted disdainfully as the small army stepped into Laus. The villagers seemed to take no notice of the foreigners as soldiers from the castle distributed weapons to all able men and merchants cried out their prices desperately to clear out their merchandise before the fighting began. The voices dulled into an agitated roar, creating an air of anticipation, but not one of pride. Each man who took a sword or a lance into their hands, coarse from innocent farm work, seemed hesitant and almost remorseful. It was painfully obvious that they were preparing for a war they did not want.
Hector turned his attention away from the morbid scene around him for he didn't need to see any more, and focused on his companion, strolling beside him in a slow, monotonous march. Eliwood's crystal blue eyes glanced over and through the crowds in deep contemplation. His thin jaw sulked in melancholy dismay, but his brows narrowed in regret, his gaze shifting towards the grand castle that stood against the porcelain blue skies in the distance.
The Ostian lord read him like an open book. "You look like you don't want to go to the castle."
Eliwood dropped his gaze at that statement, those... beautiful eyes glued to the dry ground. The sadness revealed itself more with a sigh. "...If we go and learn the truth... we may have to go to war."
Despite the magnitude of his words, a chuckle rolled playfully in Hector's throat. "That's fine with me."
The redhead showed no mirth in contrast. "I...I've no love for war. If I concentrate on the foe before me, I'm fine..." His sapphire eyes scanned over the soon-to-be warriors. "But look at them all. They're all innocent people, caught up in our foolish politics. What if I were to confront one of them in battle? Then I'd picture the families torn apart when fathers and sons answer the call, and..." His glittering eyes hid away as they shut in woe. "...And all I can do is pray for a way yo solve things peacefully, without bloodshed and sorrow..."
Hector grew quiet, wishing he didn't bring up the painful topic and causing dread to cross his face. He felt horrible for laughing as well, but luckily Eliwood was too wrapped up in his raw emotions to be offended by the insensitive gesture. Besides, he knew better than to be truly insulted by his comrade's familiar sharp tongue.
So deep they were enveloped in their thoughts, they barely noticed Sir Marcus approaching with a message. "Lord Eliwood, a knight has ridden forth from the castle."
The Pherean blinked, seeming to push his concerns away for now and focus on the task at hand. "A lone knight?"
"Yes. I believe it to be Marquess Laus' son, Erik. He is asking to see you."
"Gah! Why that buffoon?" Hector spat.
Ignoring that comment, Eliwood nodded. "I will see him. Let him come."
Hector was tempted to stay and chastise the spiteful lord, but as the seriousness of the situation sunk in, he decided against it. "You go ahead. I'll go for a ride and survey our surroundings."
At Eliwood's understanding nod, Hector was off north, crossing the river and searching the wide fields and forests for suspicious activity. Curious, he glanced back and watched as Erik rode forth and spoke to Eliwood with unnatural cheer for the environment around them. The other remained stern and cautious, properly suspicious of the knight's intentions.
As Erik continued to drabble on, Hector sneered in disgust. The toad had recently become way too friendly with Eliwood, as if all the pain he had caused years ago had simply vanished. But it hadn't, and that was the truth.
"N-n-no! Please don't! Let me g-UNH!" A young boy was slammed against the stone walls of Castle Ostia's courtyard, his slender limbs battered and bruised and his flaming red hair mussed and ratted with strands of grass and clumps of dirt. He squealed in terror as two giant hands took hold of his stained shirt and pushed him further onto the wall. The brunette boy before him smirked with unnatural wickedness for one of his age, as if the smaller boy's dread gave him absolute joy. The brute held him up to his own eye level, suspending him high enough that his feet could not touch the ground. Two other masculine boys stood in the background, their purpose to further discourage the boy with uneven numbers and provide the mocking laughter which would keep him in submission.
"Whaddya think of trespassing now, ya Pherean brat?" the leader snapped, causing the child to yelp. "Explain yourself!"
"I-I..." Young Eliwood whined, fearful tears gathering in his sparkling eyes of blue. "...L-Lord Damian... h-he said I could look in the gardens while the grownups talked..."
"Liar!" Erik shoved him further onto the wall to the point where the redhead cried out in pain. "You lying, sniveling rat! I'll teach you what happens to filthy liars!"
He clenched a mighty fist and thrust it into Eliwood's stomach with impeccable force. He gaped and grunted in pain as if a lead weight had been thrown into his abdomen, dropping to his knees as Erik let go of his collar. He coughed and wheezed, having the breath knocked out of him, but all the larger boys did was guffaw in delight as if playing with their favorite toy.
"P...please..." he choked out. "I'm... s-sorry... P-please don't... hurt me... I-I'm sorry..."
But he plea fell on deaf ears as Erik stood looming over his puny form, a smug look crossing his crude face. He reached out a hand to one of his associates without turning his eyes away. "Paul, give me the knife."
The brutish adolescent snickered and pulled out the weapon, its silver blade glimmering in the sun. Eliwood's scared eyes bulged in horror as Erik gripped the golden hilt, the sharp edge directed his way.
"N-no!" he squeaked, recoiling in alarm, especially at the mad look in the monster's eyes. "No, no, please, n- AHHHHHH!"
Erik grinned in glee as the crimson fluid drained from the tear in Eliwood's arm, staining the steel edge and dripping down onto individual blades of grass like ruby gems. The poor child wept at the sight of his own blood, and even the other two seemed distressed by the open wound.
"Erik, cut it out! You said we were just gonna rough him up!"
"Yeah, we're gonna get in trouble!"
"SHUT UP!" he thundered, facing the hurt boy before him with a maniacal smile. Reaching over, he held the knife to Eliwood's neck, taking pleasure in his feverish wails. "So, any last wishes before I cut you up?"
"Whatever it is, it's already been granted," a gruff voice snarled behind him as a hand clamped onto his shoulder. Startled, Erik turned abruptly to confront a mighty fist the struck a blow to his face and threw him away from his prey. The weapon flew from his fingers and planted itself point-first into the earth.
"H-Hector!" Eliwood cried out feebly as the new lad stood in front of him protectively, scowling with angry eyes of azure under his matching blue locks.
Clutching a swollen, bloody nose, Erik glowered up from the ground at his victim's new defender, tawny eyes burning with fury. Stay oudda dis, Ostian oaf! Dis is between meh an de brat!"
"I don't think so," Hector growled, his fists tightening. "This 'brat' is my friend. You've got a problem with him, you've got a problem with me." He towered over Erik in an intimidating manner, discouraging anymore resistance from the foolhardy bully. Seeing this and the fact that his cohorts had already fled the scene, Erik stumbled to his feet to escape as well.
"Dis isn't over, Eliwood!" he snorted through his broken nose, then bolted away at the speed only a coward could reach.
Hector sighed, easing out of his menacing pose as the danger was over. He glanced over his shoulder at a frail little Eliwood, whimpering like a hurt puppy, and his stone-hard complexion melted in concern. He knelt into the grass beside him and soundlessly inspected the thick gash, inflicted carelessly with unneeded force. The satin sleeve of Eliwood's ivory shirt had also been sliced through, so he simply ripped off the flimsy fabric and began to wrap it around his arm as a temporary bandage until he could get his injured friend to a healer.
Eliwood sniffed and rubbed his nose, quietly watching Hector do his work until he spoke up shyly. "I... I'm sorry..."
"Don't be sorry until I know it's your fault," Hector commanded, not wavering in his task. "Tell me what happened."
"Y-your father, he said I could walk in the gardens during their meetings... And then Erik came and called me a liar, and..." Tears welled up in his eyes again, and he hastily brushed them away, a useless attempt of hiding them from him. "I-I'm sorry, I'm so much trouble..."
"No you're not," Hector argued briskly. "Erik's a yellow-bellied coward who can only pick on people smaller than him."
"B-but I could've been braver! I could've fought back!" Eliwood burst into tears. "But I'm too weak..."
"Don't be stupid!" Hector shouted, causing Eliwood to flinch in apprehension and stop his cries. The cobalt shoved a finger into his chest. "Don't you ever say that again! You are anything but weak! Your sword arm gets stronger every time we spar!" Seeing the guilty look cross his face, he calmed himself to sound less nagging and more comforting. "...You just get scared, that's all."
"S...scared..." Eliwood mimicked, his fingers fumbling about each other, thinking of what the word meant. As the emotions he had experienced during Erik's assault hit him hard, his eyes began to sting again and he began to tremble. Noting this change, Hector did the only thing he could do. He outstretched his arms and allowed Eliwood to fly into a warm embrace, bawling into his shirt without anymore self-restraint.
"I... scared... so scared..."
"Hey, quit it," Hector muttered with an amused grin, though Eliwood could not see it, his face obscured in the textiles of his clothes. He could feel the tears soak through and dampen against his chest, so he took his hand and started to pat his back softly and soothingly as Eliwood continued to cry and let go of all he was holding.
"Oh, come on, there's nothing wrong with being scared," Hector continued in a passive voice. "And as for you being any trouble for me, that's not true either. You're my friend; you're worth all the effort it takes me to punch that jerk in the face."
That got a tiny chuckle out of Eliwood in between the sobs, and he snug in closer to the hug in solace. And for a split second, Hector felt a certain feeling his juvenile mind could not comprehend, but for some odd reason, it felt so right, and he enclosed his arms more firmly around Eliwood's miniature form. He planted his chin within the locks of vermillion and caught the boy's scent, something between cotton and freshly-cut flowers. He smelled so...nice.
But before he could further enjoy this odd sensation, he noticed the slight shivers Eliwood's body imposed, not from emotional weakness. At his sickly pallor and the blood seeping through the makeshift bandage, Hector was able to diagnose the problem.
"You're losing blood pretty fast," he mumbled, lifting the limp child into his arms. "Let's get you to a cleric."
A feeble smile crossed Eliwood's face. "Thank you, Hector."
"...Lord Hector? Are you alright?"
"Hmm?" The Ostian lord blinked, snapping out of his thoughts and glancing at Sir Oswin confusedly. "Oh, yeah, I'm okay..."
"Then I advise we rejoin the group."
Hector's brow narrowed. "What're you talking about?"
The knight pulled him to his side by the elbow, pointing with his lance at the northern forests. "Look between the trees. Soldiers, dressed in Laus mail, are waiting for the order to attack."
Hector leered in revulsion. "I knew it. The knave's been waiting for us." It was then his turn to pull Oswin away. "Let's get back and warn the others."
Crossing back south, it looked as if the tension between Erik and Eliwood had escalated, and as Hector subtly approached the two, the Pherean had lost his patience and began to announce his suspicions.
"Everywhere I look, Laus prepares for battle! What are you and your father planning?" He took a forceful step forward. "I will know the truth!"
Erik had by now lost his pleasant demeanor, glaring at his childhood rival. "Hmmp. I'd hope to wait until you'd told me of Ostia. Or whether you'd spoken to the marquess or not..."
Eliwood's eyes narrowed, red caution lights flashing in his brain as his lithe fingers subconsciously curled around the hilt of his rapier. "And what is that supposed to mean?"
Suddenly, Erik's expression had changed dramatically, laughing with a heinous sneer and drawing a well-decorated lance. "Hehe, dear Eliwood, I've always despised you. You don't know how long I've dreamed of smashing you and your pathetic morality into pieces!"
"It's a shame you won't live to fulfill that dream." Hector decided no to step up beside Eliwood, his axe at ready. The response to his entrance was a confused side-glance from his partner and a sudden anxious look crossing Erik's face.
"H-Hector! You... you couldn't..." Beads of sweat began to collect on his forehead in worry. "You couldn't have already contacted Ostia...!"
Hector smirked, reveling in the dread he brought the conceited Laus lordling. "Maybe we have, maybe we haven't," he taunted, getting a grimace in return. His amusement faded when he addressed Eliwood, gesturing to Erik with his weapon. "Eliwood, this mongrel has troops lying in ambush all around us. Laus regulars, every one of them."
The pretentious grin returned to Erik's visage, though appearing more maniacal as it mixed with his distress. "Haha, there's little point in fighting. Our most elite knights and endless soldiers have you trapped! I wonder, how long can you pompous mice survive?"
"Fiendish cur!" Eliwood bellowed, yanking out his sword to attack, but too slow as Erik roared in triumph, riding away to summon his forces. Driven by rage, he would've followed had not Hector tugged him back by the arm.
"Don't rush blindly like a fool right into an ambush," he advised. "We'll get together, press our attack as a group, and beat him at his own game."
"Ah... Right!" Eliwood nodded in agreement. "Let's regroup east of the river and go from there."
"Sounds like a plan." Hector patted his shoulder roughly, but not too much. "You ready?"
"There he is, over the last hill!" someone exclaimed over the melee, directing towards the castle where Erik was positioned, looking as if trying and failing the retrieve reinforcements. By now, only Erik and a few stragglers were left, and a small group was protecting Merlinus' tent from a few pirates approaching from the south. As was the case many times before, the invasion army was sorely underestimated, so reinforcements on the opposite side were not uncommon by now. But for some reason, Erik could not get his extra men, fuming his extravagant temper on a random soldier of his.
"...He seems distracted," Eliwood mused, Hector at his side as he had been for the entire battle. "I believe now is the best time to take him on while the others deal with the remaining soldiers."
"Just you and me? Are you sure that's smart?" Hector questioned skeptically.
"We can have Oswin and Marcus right behind us." He turned to look at Hector with pleading eyes, though their was no change in his determined expression or his musical voice. "...Please."
Hector scrutinized his face carefully, knowing what he wanted. It was a bit of a selfish desire, and normally he wouldn't have approved of such a motive as vengeance. But with the memories of the pain and fear inflicted upon Eliwood still fresh in his mind, Hector really couldn't blame him. Now was probably the last chance to confront the source of his childhood sufferings, and it wouldn't have been right to take that away.
"...Alright," he sighed submissively. "You just be careful, okay?"
At his approval, Eliwood gave him a bright smile of confidence. "Of course. I wouldn't want to waste the life you've saved so many times."
Hector was taken back by that strange comment, but before he could question the meaning of it, Eliwood was off like a shot. He stared off behind the advancing lord, mouth left open in mute befuddlement.
After some time, Hector shook himself, cursing at how easily he was thrown for such a loop as he moved forward. Of course, there were numerous times when he brought Eliwood away from a close call in battle. But did he mean more than that...?
Erik took notice of his enemy, turning his mount around to meet the challenge. Their duel was about to begin.
Eliwood grounded his royal blue boots into the soil, damp from the previous rain. The point of his blade matched his eye level, that sapphire gaze locking with his foe's. Those umber eyes, mad with ecstasy, Did a number on his nerves, but the Pherean was determined to not let the fears take over like they did so many times before, facing the menace bravely.
Erik urged his mighty horse a few trots forward, slowly closing the distance between the two as he readied his Silver Lance. "...I've dreamed of this day for as long as I can remember..." he growled malevolently, grinning.
"As have I," Eliwood replied morbidly. "But before we start, tell me something. Why? What was the reason for all the torment when we were only children?"
"Don't be so thick!" Erik shouted as old wounds revealed themselves. "You and that ogre Hector stole all the glory! In class, on the training grounds... Everywhere! You sapped it all away and left none for anyone! None for me!"
"...I see." Eliwood understood his reasons perfectly, and that was all he needed to know. There was no chance of persuading a twelve-year-old perspective otherwise, so he did not try to. Instead he furthered his battle stance. "Then there's nothing else left to say."
"No, there isn't," Erik agreed. "I will bring your puny, bloodied body down to the earth at last! There is no escape this time!"
And with this last bold statement, his war horse charged, lance leaned to skewer his target through the throat. Eliwood reeled to the side and swung the dull side of his rapier across the waist in an attempt to dismount him. Erik did not topple, but cringed all the same as the blow rippled past his armor and padding to bruise his side pretty well. He turned his horse around in a wide circle and charged again, and Eliwood believed he was ready to meet him.
But then Erik did something he did not expect. As he dodged what would've been another stab, he turned to back to find the horse had abruptly stopped, and the Silver Lance swerved up and was caught under his armpit. The next thing he knew, he was lifted off the earth and suspended in the air at a height that seemed dizzying to him. His distressed glance traveled up the lance to Erik, sneering as he held it up with both hands.
"Archers! Knights! Advance and FIRE!" he called into the air, kicking his mount's thighs to make it begin to speed forward.
Eliwood held on for dear life, terrified eyes of cerulean peering downwards as his legs dangled above the rapidly rolling ground below, and the beast's powerful legs thundered on and on and would surely crush him like a broken weapon under the thick hooves if he were to let go. And as if this wasn't frightening enough, he found arrows and javelins sailing past him, intending to strike while he was most vulnerable.
Scared beyond belief, Eliwood swung about wildly, all thoughts gone except holding on and not getting punctured by projectile weapons, which would in turn cause him to let go. The latter wish went ungranted as he felt an arrow plunge into his hip, crying out in pain, but he only gripped the lance tighter with white knuckles as the wind blew about his clothing and threatened to sweep him away.
At last, the ride ended with a sudden jolt that was sent through his spine as he was thrown into Castle Laus' outer wall, and before he could look up or even crumple to the ground in weakness, he screamed as the same lance that saved him from immediate death stabbed through his left shoulder and pinned him to the wall. Moaning in pain, Eliwood dragged up his eyes to encounter the most wicked smirk he had ever seen upon Erik's face, and old horrors instantly came back to haunt him.
"My, my," he jeered mockingly, twisting the lance and taking much pleasure in Eliwood's painful contorts. "This looks awfully familiar, doesn't it?"
"Sure does." Erik straightened up at that familiar, gruff voice behind him, turning to face an enraged Hector with the Wolf Beil already raised above his head.
Panicked, the cavalier released the lance and leaped off his mount as the axe came down on the horse's back. The poor creature whinnied loudly as the blade cleaved through the saddle and into its spine, and it tumbled to the moist ground. Clutching the weapon embedded in his shoulder, Eliwood as well slid to the ground. The defeated Laus lord plummeted down, sliding briefly across the slick grass. There was a slight tremble for a second, for Eliwood, Erik, and the horse had hit the ground simultaneously.
After the pain from the impact cycled through his body, Erik made an attempt of escape, scrambling desperately across the muddy soil until a boot firmly pressed down upon his back. He grunted as he hit the dirt again, roughly turned over to face the grey, cloudy skies. And there above him stood Hector, a looming giant from his viewpoint, glowering down at him.
"You aren't slithering away this time, snake."
"Lord Hector!" Sir Oswin called out. "I believe we've eliminated the rest of the enemy. Sir Marcus and Lowen are riding out to be sure."
Hector nodded, slightly lifting the pressure of his foot on his captured prey. "Keep him contained while we search the castle for Marquess Laus."
The knight nodded, taking Erik by the wrists as Hector withdrew. The pig squealed such things as "Unhand me!" and "I'm no one's prisoner!" as Oswin tried to keep him under control. But that scene no longer had his attention.
Now he knelt beside Eliwood, groaning in pain and still holding the lance as if clinging to life. His face was terribly pale from the amount of blood he had lost, collecting in dark pockets on his drooping cape. Those sparkling porcelain eyes gazed back, begging for help, and a soft whine completed the picture of the most gut-wrenching image Hector had yet to see.
"H... Hector..." Eliwood's voice quivered, and he swallowed a welt of blood gathering in his mouth bitterly. "I... I thought I was going to die..."
"Shh," the Ostian quieted him gently, wiping away the thin trail of rust red running from the corner of Eliwood's mouth with his thumb. "You aren't dying yet. Not until we find your father."
Eliwood retched slightly, but nodded all the same.
"Hey, Serra! Get your behind over here!" he shouted into the air, and his response was a shrieking "I'm COMING!" He sighed groggily, then turned back to Eliwood, gripping the lance himself. "I have to pull this out. It's gonna hurt," he warned.
Eliwood physically shook, but nodded once more, a bit more eagerly. Hector made it quick and yanked it out, and as expected, the Pherean yowled in immense pain, his fingers clawing into the earth, and yet he made no protest. Hector went and pulled out the arrow as well, and luckily the arrowhead came out with it, preventing the complication of digging it out, and he was glad for that.
Serra approached with a Mend staff at ready, and in no time, the healing blue glow enveloped his injuries. One could clearly see his tense face melting away at the comforting sensation of the pain leaving his body. And for Hector, seeing Eliwood sigh deeply in relief ended up bringing him much solace as well.
Rejuvenated, he shakily got to his feet, taking the gloved hand Hector offered to him. The Ostian noted how he kept hold on that hand longer than he had to.
When at last he let go, Eliwood straightened up. "Let's find Lord Darin."
"Urgh... damn you..." Erik grunted, his slightly wounded body laid upon the stone floor of Castle Laus' entry hallway and watched carefully by members of the victorious army. As Eliwood and Hector approached from within the castle interiors, he leaped up in agitation, held down by the combined forces of Marcus and Oswin. "YOU! You peasants! You can't treat a proper noble like this!"
"Too late for niceties, swine," Hector growled. "Be thankful you're still breathing!"
"Erik..." Eliwood stepped forward, less aggressively and more pleadingly. "Where is your father? We've searched the entire castle and found no one."
"...So that soldier was right..." Erik mused miserably. "...he must've left with Ephidel, the dastard..."
"Ephidel? Who's that?" Eliwood prodded, but Erik kept a tight-lipped silence.
"Speak, cur!" Hector barked, lifting his axe threateningly.
"Hector, peace!" Eliwood spread his arm out, and that was all that was needed to keep him back. "Erik... please. You must tell us everything you know. I... I just want to know where my father is."
Erik hesitated, but slowly began. "...Ephidel... He appeared at the castle a year ago... and my father changed. Ostia's position had always bothered him, but... he'd never gone so far as to speak of rebellion..."
"Rebellion?" Hector questioned, brows raised.
"...Ephidel had something that convinced my father to set the plan in motion. He then sent envoys to other marquesses of Lycia... Fist came Marquess Santaruz's supporting reply."
"Lord Helman... How could you...?" Eliwood muttered remorsefully.
"Then came Marquess Pherae." He smirked, breaking the tension. "He had approved of the idea."
"WHAT?" Hector shrieked.
"Never! My father would never agree to such a thing!" Eliwood countered pressingly, though the fear of the truth shone in his eyes, wide with shock.
"Believe or disbelieve. That is your choice. Marquess visited Laus six months ago to seal his approval," Erik stated, enjoying the disbelief and dread realization coming to Eliwood's soft features.
"N-no... that's... not possible..." he rambled, distressed.
"Our fathers argued vehemently that day," Erik continued. "Marquess Pherae always distrusted Ephidel, and he tried to convince my father to send him and the Black Fang assassins out of Lycia. My father would not be persuaded, and Marquess Pherae left the castle. And as you know, he then disappeared." He chuckled almost mirthfully. "I doubt he's still alive."
"NO!" Eliwood cried out in horror.
"SHUT YOUR MOUTH!" Hector ordered hotly.
Erik grinned slyly. "What? Eliwood said he wanted to hear everything. My father... is only Ephidel's puppet now. He'll listen to anything the villain says, even... watch his own son die..." The regret faded to be replaced with sick joy as he sneered at Eliwood. "Those are the sort of people you're dealing with. Marquess Pherae betrayed them, and they would not let him live!" He chortled insanely at his rival's thunderstruck pallor.
"N-no... No, you lie! Liar!" Eliwood bellowed madly, hands clutched in trembling fists. For a moment, it looked like he would lose his temper and tackle Erik, but instead he turned on his heel and raced towards the outside of the castle.
"Eliwood!" Hector called out before realizing it would do him no good. He watched his friend disappear down the corridor, his light footsteps echoing down the marble walls long after his frame vanished from sight. Hector sighed a hissing sigh through his teeth, turning to the knights detaining Erik. "...Let the knave go."
They released him roughly, and he rubbed his sore wrists gingerly as he got to his feet. Glancing up, before he could so much as blink, a fist clashed against his face, knocking him back down to the floor. The knights gaped and gathered near his unconscious form, blood beginning to flow from his broken nose.
Hector loosened his fist. "...Bastard." He then took off in the direction Eliwood had gone.
By now the day had reached its end as the sun began to settle behind the trees to the west. The skies burned in a soft blend of pink and orange, laced with wisps of violet clouds. And it was this breathtaking array of color that surrounded his thin, defined form, standing atop a nearby hill as the sunset glowed behind him and made him look holy. The breezes played with his locks and the loose tails of his tunic, his still-bloody cape flowing behind him weakly like a flag. His figure was stiff; most likely he was gazing out into the sunset in deep thought.
Not wanting to ruin the atmosphere, Hector approached most slowly from behind, standing at his side. Eliwood made no movement to suggest he knew he was there, eyes fixed on the horizon, even as his bangs danced idly in the breezes. As Hector glanced upon this serene image, that queer feeling from years ago cycled through again, and he bit his lip, trying to keep it concealed. When there was still no reaction from Eliwood, he broke the silence.
"...Are you alright?"
It was some time before Eliwood sighed, shutting his eyes once more. "...My father is alive... And... I cannot believe he supports rebellion." He subconsciously shook his head. "There... There has to be a reason..."
"I know," Hector nodded in agreement. "I don't believe any of this for a second. My brother trusted Lord Elbert more than anyone. We'll find him and discover the truth, alright?"
"Yes, of course..." His head tilted and his azure gaze met Hector's, and the Ostian wanted to drown in those apologetic crystalline eyes. But unfortunately, Eliwood turned away shamefully as if not worthy. "I'm sorry, Hector..."
"Oh, quit it," Hector grinned, the memory still fresh in his mind. "Your father is surely alive, right?"
"N-no, not that..." Eliwood interjected, to Hector's surprise. "...Back on the battlefield... I shouldn't have faced Erik on my own... When he pulled off that stunt... I-I got... so scared..."
Hector was silent, not quite sure what to say. Then he caught the glimmer of a small tear, silently running down his pale cheek. The odd feeling told him to reach up and brush it away comfortingly, and he did so with his thumb. "...Don't worry about it. There's... nothing wrong with being scared."
"If you say what I think you're going to say, you'll be in big trouble," he warned playfully, and Eliwood glanced up with a confused frown. "You are anything but weak. If you were weak, you would've never embarked on this quest in the first place."
Eliwood considered this, softly beginning to nod. "...B-but still, I've gotten into so much trouble, only to have you pull me back out... I-I don't know what I..."
"Eliwood..." The stuttering lord stopped at his name, turning to give his comrade an embarrassed smile, but what he faced made him stop short. Hector's face had become unnaturally soft, dark blue eyes creased slightly in an... affectionate manner? In addition, he hadn't realized before how close they were finally sensing the gloved hands on his female-like hips, the fingers teasingly running across the fabric in slow movements. Eliwood wasn't quite sure what was happening, but what was before him kept him there, unmoving with a tiny gape slacking his jaw.
In fact, Hector himself wasn't clear on what was happening either, but being this close to Eliwood felt so right, feeling his warmth against his body, even as the evening chills threatened to take that warmth away. He leaned his face into the scarlet locks, and much to his pleasure, that scent was still there: freshly-sewn cotton (now with a tinge of iron) and the fragrant flowers Pherae was known for. Pherae was renowned for its natural beauty, and that was proven to Hector in his form of this red-haired youth.
He lifted his head slightly and whispered into Eliwood's ear. "Don't you remember what I told you? We're friends. We're meant to take care of each other. You just need support more than I do most of the time."
"Shh..." He parted some strands of hair aside. "That doesn't make you weak either. If you really tried, you could last on your own. But just know... I'll be there for you." He lightly pressed his lips against creamy skin and kissed his temple. "No matter what happens, that will never change."
"I... Hector..." Eliwood's cheeks flushed a hue of pink as his adorable modesty surfaced, only getting a smile from the cobalt. Their eyes, identical shades of blue, locked, and for one serene moment, nothing else mattered. The search for Marquess Pherae, Marquess Laus' disappearance, Black Fang assassins, the possibility of war... Now of it was important right now. All that mattered was them.
So caught up in the moment they were, before they knew it, their faces met in the bond of a chaste kiss. Both sets of eyes were shut as they pushed their thoughts aside and gave in to their hormones, massaging their lips against one another's with no concerns or worries present. Hector ran his fingers through the mop of cardinal hair, sighing as he drew in his tongue, caressing Eliwood's teeth and encouraging him to join the dance. To his joy, his partner complied, twirling and twisting about like his sword in one of their practice matches. Hector enjoyed every second of it, and with the soft moans given out, he knew Eliwood did as well. But there was another reason why: the knowledge of his companion always near, and never having to be alone.
"...Thank you, Hector..." he sighed in between the union of flesh and soul before swiftly returning. "Thank you..."
A/N: Jeez, finally! XD Yep, I know, there was no tactician. I totally forgot about him in the heat of my writing. XD Oops. Oh well. OMG, I LOVE Eliwood and Hector! Please review!