By: Manna

Wise men say
Only fools rush in,
But I can't help falling in love with you…
Shall I stay?
Would it be a sin,
If I can't help falling in love with you?

Kent was not the sort of man who was knowledgeable about the opposite sex. Sain would say that, as his best (and only) friend, he knew Kent better than anyone, and the redheaded knight was an absolute failure when it came to the beautiful creatures that shared Elibe with him. Kent would listen to his friend, say nothing, and go back to doing what he had always done best… his work.

Work was something that nobody liked doing, but that everyone did anyway for one reason or another. For Kent, work was the one thing that always kept him busy and quite distracted from other things in life- those "lovely creatures," for example.

While he didn't always disagree with Sain- because yes, most of the women he complimented really were beautiful- he certainly did not agree with how forward the other man was about his approach to flattery. Waltzing up to a woman he hadn't known for even a minute before declaring he was in love with her…hah! He would never do such a thing, himself.

They had been in Lady Lyndis's company for only a little over two weeks, and he was certain that Sain had hit on his Lady and her friend, Florina, enough to irritate everyone sufficiently. Lyndis never took his comments seriously, and Florina would only blush and stutter in complete embarrassment, which would earn the rogue knight a few well-placed glares and perhaps a jab or two in the side, depending on where he was standing.

Sighing, Kent forced himself to stare into the fire that flickered in front of him as he carefully added wood to it. The opposite sex was most definitely a mystery to him… Sain said they loved compliments, but the women in their little legion certainly didn't seem to appreciate them much… Perhaps not all women preferred blatant flattery?

He wasn't sure if he ever wanted to find out or not. By all means, he should have been considering marriage by his age. Why, his mother would turn over in her grave if she knew her adult son wasn't married with a brood of children!

He pushed thoughts of sticky fingers and grabby hands out of his mind and looked over beside him to see Florina and Lady Lyndis sleeping side-by-side. Both women were beautiful in different ways… Florina, with her flowing hair and sweet, shy nature, and Lyndis, with her high cheekbones, striking eyes, and determined nature.

"Kent?" The voice of his liege brought him out of his thoughts, forcing him back to reality, where she had opened her eyes and was staring at him sleepily. "Is something the matter?"

He found himself shaking his head slowly, his own eyes heavy with sleep, though he had done well to stay awake as long as he had. "It is nothing, milady. You should rest, you have had a trying day."

The battle that day had worn them all out, including Kent, but it was his turn to take first watch, and he would do so until he felt he should wake Sain to take the second watch. While it wasn't his favorite thing to do, it did give him a lot of time to think.

"Oh…" She paused, half-sitting where she was, as she pulled the single blanket she owned up with her. "We all had a trying day, Kent," she finally told him, blinking those large green eyes. "Shall I take second watch?"

His brown eyes widened at her suggestion. "I would never let my liege take watch," he said, his tone almost offended.

"Why not?" She genuinely sounded confused, and it took him a minute to remember that she was not used to their Lycian customs.

"That is the job of your protectors, my lady." He lowered his eyes back to the fire, watching the flames dance around one another as the wood crackled in the heat. It was a little awkward to be talking to a woman- before he was sent to find Lyndis, the last woman he had spoken with had been his mother...with the exception of the women he apologized to for Sain's actions, of course.. It didn't really compare.

Lost in his thoughts for a short moment, he was startled when he felt her sit down beside him in front of the fire. There were a few moments of unnerving silence, when all he could hear was the rustling of her clothes as she tried to make herself comfortable on the ground. She turned to him, giving him a tentative smile before she spoke, "I do not remember if I have ever thanked you and Sain for coming to find me." Her eyes shone with sincerity, the green irises looking shadowy in the firelight. "This may sound silly, but… knowing that I have a home, and someone there waiting for me makes me feel as if I have a goal I must reach." She turned her eyes away and let out a small sigh. "I had a goal before- to become stronger…to crush the Taliver bandits for those killed at their hands… But it was a goal I could not- and can not, yet- complete. This goal is one I believe I can accomplish, with all of you."

Her expression was hopeful, but also a little sad, and he turned his gaze to his hands, which were covered with his gauntlets, and laced them through one another. "We will be successful, my Lady."

Relieved, she pulled her blanket closer against her to combat the chill of the night, hunching forward to get closer to the fire as her bangs fell into her eyes, concealing them. "Kent…" she began slowly, sounding uncertain, "what kind of man is my grandfather?"

A good one, he wanted to say, but his mouth refused to give such a ridiculous answer. "He reminds me a little of you, my Lady," he said, not looking at her, but wanting to. "If it is not too forward of me to say so, I…think that you both are kind, generous people, and I know that I am lucky to be serving under you both." He flushed in embarrassment, hoping against all hope that she couldn't see it in the flickering light that the fire gave off. He was sincerely hoping that what he said did not sound as if Sain had thought of it first.

She laughed lightly, rubbing at her eyes with her right hand. "I don't understand why you think everything you say might be considered forward, of all things. I believe you may be the least forward of all the people I have ever chanced to meet."

"Forgive me," he muttered, glancing at her out of the corner of his eye.

"I don't think that warranted an apology," she said softly as she stopped rubbing her eyes long enough to peer at him through her fingers with a light smile on her lips.

He could have sworn his heart stopped beating for a second, and though he wanted to look away, he could not. Any eloquent word Sain might use would never come close to comparing to the woman who sat next to him. He bit back another apology and turned his brown eyes to her hands as she continued to rub at her eyes. "Is something the matter?" he asked, sounding concerned.

"Oh… well, my eyes itch, but it's really not so bad." She crossed her arms over her chest and looked at him, her smile still firmly in place. "Sleep does not come easily, to be truthful."

His eyes moved to the blanket wrapped around her before they found their way to hers. She was gazing into the fire, seemingly lost in thought. "Is it too cold?" he queried after a moment, wondering if she would ever admit to such a thing, even if she were chilled.

"Oh, no, not at all." She did not turn her head from the fire, keeping her vision focused on the burning wood as she spoke, "Sleeping with other people so close is…a little strange for me, I suppose." When he did not answer, she sighed quietly to herself, and turned to look at him with her deep eyes that reminded him of the dark waters of an ocean. "After six months- at least, I think it was six months- alone, I…got used to sleeping alone. Instead of the wind through the grasses, now I hear Sain's snoring and the horses nickering. I am not used to the noise."

He could get lost in those eyes, he realized. The undertow would suck him down before he could react, but he found himself locking gazes with her, regardless. I do not know what to say was the only thought that crossed his mind. At the very back of his consciousness, he was scolding himself for not listening to Sain more often. The other knight would probably have known what to say- or at least, half of what to say- and Kent was certain that anything would have sounded better than the absolute silence they were enduring.

After a few moments, she broke eye contact and fiddled absently with the end of her long ponytail. "I am sorry for unloading all of my problems on you, I did not mean to do that." She blinked slowly and continued, "I don't want to come off as sounding ungrateful, because I do appreciate everything that you all have done for me. It means a lot."

The redheaded knight felt his heart thud in his chest as guilt came over him for not answering her sooner. "My lady," he said, his voice earnest, "you need never to apologize to me… I do not think you sound ungrateful, and I will listen if you have any problems." It's my duty, he contemplated saying, but thought better of it before the words could fall from his lips. It was not his duty at all to listen to personal problems…but a part of him that he didn't normally think with- his heart- was telling him that he would listen to anything she would say, as long as it made her happy.

The smile that he was starting to look forward to seeing emerged, bringing with it her gentle voice, "I… Thank you, Kent, for listening. I would have told Florina, but…she has enough problems as it is, and I don't want to add to that number."

"Y-you are welcome, Lady Lyndis," he told her quietly, his face reddening at her words. She was too good of a person to get caught up in the mess she was in, he found himself thinking. She was too kind, too thoughtful… Every day, he found a quality about her that made his heart speed up… and that left him feeling more than a little confused and conflicted about what his heart was telling him.

I should not be feeling this way, he thought as he felt her eyes upon him. But I do not know what I can do about it.

A few minutes passed with only the crackling fire keeping them company, and he felt more awkward then he ever had in his life. It did not compare to any other experience in his life, even to the first time he ever held a lance in his hands.

He noticed her eyes drooping as the time passed, and after awhile, he decided to speak. "Milady, you should rest… Tomorrow will be another hard day for us."

"You're right, of course," she answered, yawning lightly, which put a small smile on his face. "I will do as you suggest." Standing, she leaned over to put a hand lightly on his shoulder. "Thank you again, for being so patient, and for listening."

His heart twisted in a bittersweet way, flopping over in his chest. "It was my pleasure," he muttered, mentally smacking himself for saying it. That sounded utterly ridiculous. Why can I never say the right thing when it concerns someone's feelings?

He watched her walk silently back to where she had been dozing off before, next to Florina, and mentally took in every detail- from the way she pulled her friend's blanket up over her shoulders, to the way she laid down to sleep- though he didn't mean to. She is an extraordinary woman, he thought, throwing his gaze back to the fire in front of him as he added another branch, noble in her own right, caring, kind, beautiful… an extraordinary woman, indeed.

He only wished that he could tell her that.

Author Notes:

I never know what to think when I write something that isn't utterly depressing. Thoughts and constructive criticism are, as always, appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read; I would really love to hear what you thought.

Also, do you think that I should stick to writing what I usually write, or continue my attempts at writing less depressing things? (Or perhaps a mix of both?)