Loving Duty
By: Manna

The sound of stone against metal was not a pleasant one, but it served its purpose well; it drowned out the world.

When he was sharpening his weapons, Sain ceased to flirt, Serra was suddenly silent, and to him, everything was peaceful…except one thing; his heart was conflicted.

But duty came first-always came first- and as long as he had a duty, a task…any work at all, he would never have the time to let his mind dabble in places where it ought not to be. Right?

His sword would be the sharpest in all of Elibe. For that matter, so would his lance.

Glancing to his left, he noticed a messy pile and grimaced at the sight before sighing. He wouldn't say he was overjoyed to see it, the pile of axes, swords, and lances lying beside him…but he was in a sense, happy to have enough to keep this thoughts occupied for the entire evening.

If he only sharpened the weapons, concentrating wholly on his task…then perhaps his mind would not wander like it often did when unchecked. He pushed the thoughts of his dreams out of his mind- dreams were dangerous things, they could so easily lead a person astray- and continued with his work, the hilt of the sword in his hand comforting to him, in a sense.

The battle that fought day had been long, but regardless, they had emerged victorious, and with relatively few injuries. He had done his duty, as he always had- and always would, he reminded himself- never leaving her side, even for the smallest fraction of an instant. The amount of time it could take him to turn around or to jump in front of a would-be attacker before they could strike her down…could be one second too long, and he would not risk it.

Finished, he thought, holding his blade to the light of the setting sun to see his handiwork. Satisfied, he set it on the ground beside him and picked up an axe- probably Hector's- and as always, went back to work.

Soon, Kent realized that repetitive motions did nothing to cease brain function, as his brain continued to whirl, his thoughts jumping over one another to be the first to be considered.

"She's beautiful, isn't she?"

He remembered Sain saying it to him, once, in front of the fire when it had been their turn to take watch. He slowed the speed at which he was sharpening when he thought of how his companion had pointed her out as she had slept, her face the most relaxed and peaceful he had ever seen.

He had not wanted to answer, but the truth would supposedly set one free, and the words had fallen from his lips before he could stop himself, "Yes."

A wide smile had covered his friend's face as he reached out a hand to clap him on the back. "Congratulations," he had said softly, "on finally admitting even that small truth."

Sain's hazel eyes told him that he knew things he would never say, but Kent had not spoken, then. He had only watched her sleep, thinking that he would never let any harm come to her if he could prevent it; he knew the lengths he would go to in order to keep her alive and well.

Shaking his head, he resumed sharpening the axe, only to find that it had been finished. As good as new.

It was amazing how your mind could wander while you worked.

Another sword was in his hand shortly, and he was grinding it against the sharpening stone, half-heartedly trying to keep his mind on a task that his heart was not into.

He had a million excuses- though he called them reasons- for his actions. As a loyal knight, and her personal vassal, it was his duty to protect her, to stay by her side, to keep watch while she slept. Sain's flattery bothered her, and he always put a stop to it- it was most certainly not jealousy that drove him to it. She had earned his trust, his unwavering devotion, his need to do anything she asked of him with nothing but a Yes, my lady.

Infatuation had turned into something else as time passed, the seasons turning as surely as the tide came and went. Perhaps Lord Wallace's words had driven him to finding himself- the man that he truly was, buried beneath years of blind loyalty.

Loyalty to one's lord is like love itself, the booming voice of the general had said. And Kent had believed every word. But blindly following orders was what he was used to doing, and many times, his elder's words crossed his mind. So long as you keep the love of your lord in your heart, your loyalty never truly wavers.

He understood now why Wallace had gone against his liege's orders…letting Lady Madelyn and Lord Hassar go, and even going as far as to lie to him, telling him that they had eluded him.

While shocked at first by such disobedience, he had come to understand Lord Wallace's reasoning. The other man had followed his heart.

Kent wondered if he would have done the same.

Lyndis was as beautiful as Sain bragged, as good with a sword as Hector would grudgingly admit, and as kind-hearted and generous as Eliwood and Florina said.

She was everything he could ever want, and so much more. He would do anything for her, if she would only ask, and he would give her anything she wanted if he could provide it. He realized- not for the first time- that he would die for her if he had to. If it would keep her alive, keep her smiling…he couldn't think of a thing he wouldn't do.

His thoughts were shattered by voices, and he was startled to find that he had stopped sharpening the sword while he had been deep in thought.

"You know, I heard that Lady Lyn…" Nino, speaking softly, was talking to Serra and Rebecca. Her voice sounded concerned, and the redheaded knight wished fervently that he had better hearing.

"Ill?" Rebecca had nearly shouted, causing Nino to back up a step, and Serra to adopt an annoyed expression.

"Oh, relax," the cleric said. "Priscilla's on the job, I'm sure she'll take care of things just fine."

The other girls looked relieved, but Kent certainly didn't feel the same. His liege had fallen sick while he was out sharpening weaponry? What kind of protector was he? (What if she had needed a blanket, or tea…or…)

"…but it was so sudden," Nino was saying, eyebrows furrowed. "Guy said that he thought perhaps she had been injured this morning, and refrained from telling anybody."

"Nonsense!" Serra grinned, flipping her pigtails behind her. "I heard she was only lovesick!"

Kent didn't know what to think, hoping against all hope that she had not been injured- escaping his notice, nonetheless- but knowing better than to believe his liege had fallen ill from a disease that did not exist.

As the girls moved out of his hearing range, he slowly stood, torn between staying where he was and going to the one person he always wanted to be with. Worry was something the sometimes rather solemn man did not like feeling, and he found his feet moving in the direction of his lady's tent, passing Bartre and Dorcas, then Lowen and Sain, and finally Priscilla as she emerged from the tent where the Lady Lyndis normally slept.

"Oh," she spoke, her gentle voice half-shocked as she saw him. "Hello, Sir Kent."

He nodded in reply, his brown eyes questioning. "How is she?"

The healer smiled. "It was only a minor concussion," she said. "Florina was concerned when she went back to sleep after the battle early this morning, and did not return for many hours. There is not much I can do for her, but…she will be fine in a few days, now. I am certain she will be glad for some company, if you would like to see her."

He hesitated, but went inside anyway, closing the tent flap behind him. Inside, her tent was dark, save for a single candle burning next to her. She looked up when he came in, and she smiled tentatively. "Good evening, Kent," she said.

Kneeling beside her, he allowed himself a glance before he turned his eyes to the ground, bowing his head. "My Lady," he murmured, "I beg your forgiveness for not noticing you were injured."

She laughed lightly, and he lifted his head, his expression quizzical. "There is nothing to forgive," she told him, her laughter stopping midway as she put her hand to her head in obvious pain. "You worry too much about the small things…"

"M'lady, your health is hardly a small matter… It is my duty to protect you from anything that may bring harm to you."

"I know," she sighed, leaning back against the hard pillow and closing her eyes tiredly. "Duty is…very important."

"Yes." He sighed, not knowing what else to say to her. Even lying there in a dark tent with her hair tousled and her eyes tired, she looked lovely. He wondered if she knew that he held back feelings for her that were anything but knightly and dutiful. "Lady Lyndis?"

Her forehead was wrinkled with what he assumed was pain, and he felt ashamed that he had allowed anything at all to happen to her.

She opened her eyes, and he could tell just by looking at her that she needed to rest. "Yes?" she asked.

"You need to rest, milady. Do you need any extra blankets?" He couldn't help but notice that she was in possession of only one, just like every other person in the little army. She was never the type to want special treatment, even though the nights could get chilly.

"Kent, do you know why I dislike titles?"

Confused, he shook his head. "No, my lady, I do not." What did this have to do with needing another blanket or not?

She blinked slowly, as if she were trying to force herself to stay awake. "Titles are…so very formal. As Lady Lyndis, I have vassals…and they all use my title." She paused, furrowing her brow as she thought of a way to phrase what she wanted to say next. "When people do something for me, Kent… and they use my title, I feel as if they are doing it for their liege…because it is their duty to do so. But when they do it…and they don't use a title… I know they are doing it for me because they want to, not because they have to." She sent a small smile his way that made his heart flip over in his chest.

Perhaps Lady Lyndis was his duty- protecting her, serving her… but since he had gotten to know her, he knew he cared for her in a way that not every vassal would care about his or her liege. He wanted nothing more than her happiness.

He stood and paused at the flap of the tent, turning to look at her face that could barely be seen in the candlelight. "I would not do these things if I did not care," he said slowly, glad that the shadows hid the small blush he knew was on his face. "I will look for another blanket for you. Please, rest well… Lyndis."

Author Notes:

Once again, another light-hearted piece, and once again, I'm not sure what I think of it. To me, it feels a little disjointed and the words don't quite...flow (and you know I want my writing to flow from one subject to another).

The title was a "working title", but I couldn't come up with anything better, really, so it stuck. Lady Lyndis really is his duty, and I'm sure (at the very least), he doesn't mind it. Might even love it.

Anyway, thanks for reading- opinions are welcome, as always.