In Beauty
By: Manna (Kitten Kisses)

It was nearing early afternoon on their second trip to the Dread Isle, and the army was lounging around the deck of the Davros, sitting, or leaning against the rails, chatting with each other and the pirates that they were currently sailing alongside. A worn deck of cards was being divided among several players on one side of the boat, while the people involved in the game put on their best poker faces, so as to not give away whether or not they had been dealt a good or a bad hand.

Sain was making his way across the deck, avoiding the crew that were hard at work scrubbing sections of it, his eyes open for any of the young women of their little militia, so that he might woo them with his flowing words.

Every once in awhile, Kent could admit to himself- though he would never tell Sain- that he wished he had been gifted with an eloquent tongue. Unfortunately for him, he bore the burden of being rather frank with his speech, and though it could be a gift as the Commander of the Caelin Knights, it was anything but that when it came to the average person… especially women.

It wasn't as if he was timid around women, as Lady Lyndis's friend Florina was around men, but… when he would decide to say something to a woman, he wouldn't know what to say. What could he say, aside from the generic, "How fare you?" or something equally trivial. One certainly would not simply blurt out an "I love you", or flowery words of affection, either. No matter what Sain said, usually his poetic words did not have the desired effect of their speaker, particularly when the woman receiving the compliment was someone that his companion didn't know.

He was, at that particular moment, leaning against the wall next to the stairway that led below deck, to the cabins. His right leg was bent, the heel of his boot resting against the wall behind him, and his arms were folded over his chest, which was without armor, since he had shed it immediately after boarding the ship. Though he would normally argue such an action (after all, who knew when they could end up engaged in battle?), he was sore from wearing it all the time- sometimes even going as far as to fall asleep with it on by accident- and he was certain that, should a battle arise, he would have enough time to put it back on. And if he didn't… well, he would simply fight without it. The lookout in the Crows Nest could see another ship several miles away at the least, so he was certain they'd be just fine.

And on top of that, everyone else had taken off their armor as well; leaving them in clothes that allowed them room to breathe, for probably the first time in many months. He had lost count of how long it had been since their group from Caelin had departed with Eliwood's troupe, but the weather indicated that it could be nigh upon a year.

He kept his eyes on the various people wandering around above-deck. It wasn't as if he was people-watching, really… but he really didn't have anything better to do than train, and he knew better than to try it on a ship where space was something that there was not a lot of.

Sain wandered by, smiling and gesturing earnestly at Rebecca, most likely trying to convince her that she was the only one for him. Kent forced himself not to roll his eyes, and turned to watch the card game on the other side of the upper deck. Guy had a shocked look on his face, as if he couldn't believe something- he had just lost, the red-haired knight realized- and Matthew had a smile on his face that put even the most cunning of beasts to shame.

Lord Hector and Lord Eliwood were deep in conversation, though the blue-haired man continuously looked away from the other and towards Florina, who had fallen asleep, her head on a crate with both her sisters nearby, talking to one another.

A few minutes passed, and he heard chattering and footsteps as Sain came into view again, this time with Serra in tow. How long did it take the man to rid himself of one woman, only to find another? The cleric seemed to be a willing participant in the conversation, though, animatedly talking about whatever it was that interested her. (Which was presumably everything.)

His partner, also without his breastplate, suddenly stopped, putting his hand on Serra's arm to silence her as he grinned broadly at Kent, holding an item out for him to take. "This, my friend, is for Lady Lyndis, our esteemed liege, who is also the most beautiful Lord in our company!" Considering the fact that there were only three lords, Kent wasn't sure if that was a sincere compliment or not- though it was most definitely true.

The level headed knight put his right foot back on the ground, ignoring a cramp that had started to form in his calf, and took the bowl and spoon from the other man. He looked up at his friend, one eyebrow raised in a silent question.

"Oh!" Sain blinked as the setting sun burned his eyes. "It is her dinner, I think. It was given to Nino, who gave it to Canas, who gave it to Farina, who gave it to…well, a few other people, until finally, the lovely cleric Serra, here, gave it to me." He moved to walk away, waving back at the other knight. "I knew that you would not protest taking it to her, yourself, my boon companion!"

Kent sighed, rubbing his temple with his free hand. "Shirking your responsibilities," he muttered, his tone slightly annoyed. "How noble of you, Sain."

The ladies' man laughed a bit, his voice getting softer as he walked further and further away. "So did the other eight people before me," he said, nodding at Serra to let her know that she could continue her conversation with him.

His shoulders sagged in defeat, and he turned, entering the doorway that led down the stairs. It wasn't as if he didn't want to bring his liege's food to her… because it was actually quite the contrary, and Sain knew it. Any excuse to see her was a good one, and though he reprimanded himself for thinking along those lines right away, it was only a half-hearted attempt. Feelings were, as he had quickly learned, something that didn't simply evaporate into the air- instead, they seemed to linger at the back of one's mind, unhindered by something as simple as a mental scolding, or even the most genuine of pleas to Saint Elimine.

As the weight of his boots hit the wooden stairs, they creaked loudly, and he tread as gently as he could in the hopes that he would not awaken the crew that had managed to sneak away to fall asleep.

Though they had gone straight from Ostia to Badon, to leave for the Dread Isle, the journey to the port city had taken many days, and everyone was weary of sleeping out under the stars. Having food in their bellies and warm beds to sleep in seemed to do wonders for them all.

After a short walk, he was at the bottom of the stairs, facing a long hallway with rooms on both sides. Some doors were closed, and some were open. It would be easy to forget where one's room was, as every door looked no different from the one beside it. The knight in him knew where his Lady's room was, but the man in him knew that, and also which bed was hers, who she was sharing the room with, and where that other person was.

Lyndis's bed was on the right side of the room from the doorway, Florina was the one sharing the room with her, and the Pegasus Knight was above deck, sleeping while Hector watched her, and her sisters stood nearby.

He walked to the next-to-last door at the end of the hallway on the left side, and stood in front of it, his fist raised to knock. He stayed there for a few seconds, collecting his thoughts, but just when he went to lower his hand to rap on the solid wood, he noticed that the door was already slightly ajar.

He wrapped his fingers around the crude doorknob and pushed gently, glad that the door only squeaked softly once or twice as it opened inward.

As quietly as he could, he pushed the door back into place, not closing it completely. After all, he might be a stranger when it came to speaking with the opposite sex, but he certainly wasn't new to the rumors that circulated easily among a group of people who had nothing better to do with their time.

"Lady Lyndis?" His voice came out sounding a little uncertain, and he berated himself for it. As a knight, he was confident- complete with armor and his trusty steed- but with the woman he was sworn to protect with his life…he wasn't quite that confident. It had been easier to be around her when his feelings had been small enough to squelch, if only for a length of time equal to a short talk with her, but as of late, he had caught himself sneaking glances at her- even during battle- and finding any and all excuses to be near her.

Those kinds of feelings could not be simply pushed aside. He would do his best to serve her well, at any rate- feelings or no feelings. She was still above him, and he still owed her his loyalty as her knight.

He blinked a few times, his eyes adjusting to the lack of light in the room. A small candle flickered from where it sat alone on the small table by his liege's bed, casting weak light across the wall and the bed beside it. He set the bowl of soup and the spoon he was carrying on the table, and blinked again, moving his gaze to the bed, where he noticed his liege sleeping.

She was curled onto her side, lying on top of the woolen blanket that covered the straw mattress. She had to have fallen asleep while doing something else, and within seconds, he saw that she had been reading a map, likely given to her by the tactician. The fingers on her left hand were curled around it as she slept, and gently, he pried them from the parchment, setting it on the table, as far away from the candle as he could get it.

For a moment, he stood by her side, watching the steady rise and fall of her chest that signified sleep. The candlelight across her face was hypnotizing in a way, and he found himself noticing the various shadows that it cast across her eyes and mouth as the flame danced on the end of the short wick.

It didn't matter who said it, everyone was most definitely right- his liege was certainly a striking woman, to say the least. From the depths of her eyes to the shape of her nose and lips, she was of a different kind of beauty- one not often seen in Lycia or Sacae. She was half of each race, and she had seemed to take on all the good qualities of each of her parents- her father's eyes, her mother's nose and lips…- and a good mixture of both of their mannerisms and demeanors.

He shook himself free of those thoughts, and turned as if he was going to leave, but changed his mind at the last second, when he remembered that she had fallen asleep while studying the map, and had not covered herself with the blanket provided to her.

It was still relatively warm for the autumn season, but sometimes the nights could get chilly, particularly when one was at sea.

Now, he wondered. How should I go about this…?

When he had removed the map from her hand, her fingers had grasped onto the woolen blanket instead, fisting in the material. Her head was close by, laying on her other arm- that was probably asleep, he thought- and she was curled up, half in the fetal position. Her feet, luckily, had only socks on them. He didn't know what he would have done if he would have had to remove her boots. It would be almost as awkward as pulling the blanket out from underneath her so that he could cover her with it, especially if she happened to wake up in the middle of it all.

He flushed at the thought, hoping against all hope that it would not happen.

He would be a dead man… or at the very least, they would leave him at sea, floating in a barrel, only to let him starve to death or be picked up by a group of pirates that weren't exactly friendly.

Well…that was a slight exaggeration of his thoughts, but he was sure his liege would be anything but happy to find him so…close.

I had best get this over with, he told himself, before she wakes up, or someone else sees me and starts all sorts of gossip.

He took her hand in his and slowly pulled her fingers away from the blanket that she had been holding on to. After the blanket was free, but before she could grab onto it again, he leaned over the bed, pulled her arm over his shoulder, and slowly lifted her from the bed, careful to keep his hands only where it would not be considered offensive. Once she was in his arms- thankfully still asleep- he held her with one arm and pulled the blanket to the foot of the bed with the other.

Her weight was comfortable in his arms, and, though he had carried her several times- usually out of battle when he had not performed his knightly duties to the utmost perfection- those times had been vastly different. He was ashamed to admit that he had ever let her sustain even a single injury, but even so, carrying her off of the battlefield bloody, unconscious, or both, was definitely not the same as holding her when she was sleeping peacefully.

He fought the urge to just stand there holding her, for many reasons, but even though he knew he had to put her back down, he still didn't want to. He could feel her warm breath against the fabric of his shirt, and he thought to himself, feeling a little silly, that he could get used to it.

Slowly, careful that he didn't wake her, he lowered her back onto the bed and quickly pulled the blanket over her before he could have the chance to be tempted by the bare skin of her legs that peeked through the slits in her skirt.

Sighing to himself at his hopelessness where it concerned Lyndis, he smoothed back the bangs that had fallen in her eyes, and tucked the blanket around her, his gaze on her face the entire time. She was so peaceful when she slept… so serene, that she didn't look like a fearsome warrior, or a noble Lady of Caelin with her lips parted slightly as she breathed, and her face soft and unworried. She looked… like a woman, just a woman- one that he could love openly without fearing rejection by both her and the country that she ruled over.

He backed away from the bed, his eyes on her face until the moment when he blew out the candle by her bed, and everything went black.

"Goodnight, Lady Lyndis," he whispered, his voice gentle.

And as he walked away, he was startled to hear her soft, sleep-laden reply, though he was positive he flushed to the very roots of his hair at hearing it.


He failed to see the small smile on her face.

Author Notes:

Uh… I thought it sounded like a cute idea? It just morphed into five pages of its own accord, of course.

I tried to keep Kent as in character as possible, without making him sound like an idiot, a complete sap, a stiff, or an emo.

Constructive criticism (especially on characterization!) is more than appreciated, as always. I would love to hear what you thought, even if you don't have much to say.

Thank you for reading!