Definition of a
Family- Part Four: Endings
By: Manna (Kitten Kisses)
After two hard days of riding, Kent had managed to make it back to the castle, and he felt guilty at being gone so long when he noticed that Sain had already returned. The older man smiled widely and ran up to him after he had dismounted in the barn, handing Solitaire's reins to a young boy of about eleven.
"Well met, Kent," he said, his smile wavering when he saw his friend lean against a wall for support. "What happened? Should I call a healer?"
Kent found himself laughing at the serious expression on Sain's face, and he wasn't sure if it was because it really was funny, or because he was so tired. "No, no healer… it is not that serious." He took a few breaths to calm himself, and started in the direction of the barracks, inside the castle itself.
"Are you certain? You don't look so good…" Sain looked at him quizzically, but when the redheaded knight did not answer, he shrugged. "Lady Lyn and I had been wondering where you had gotten off to. We were a tad concerned, but I told her not to worry- my boon companion could take care of himself!"
Kent smiled at him weakly, pressing his hand to his side in obvious discomfort. "Forgive me for worrying you," he muttered, shaking his head to clear the fogginess before he continued on. "I am fine." Silence came between them for a few moments, except for the sound of their boots against the stone floors and the clanking of their armor. "Have you reached a decision concerning Miss Serra?" he asked his friend after a time, not realizing that he was holding onto the wall for support again. He could see the door to the room that he shared with Sain already…
"I have," Sain admitted proudly, a wide smile covering his face instantly. "And I'm going to go to Ostia in—whoa, partner!"
He kneeled beside his friend, who had fallen to his knees, his right hand pressing tightly to his side. It was not bleeding badly- hardly at all, in fact- but Sain did not think it looked healthy in the least. How long has he let it go untreated? he wondered.
"Let me help you up, partner," he said, gripping Kent's left elbow and hauling the other man back to his feet. He did not let go until his redheaded companion was seated on the edge of his bed, and it only took a few minutes of searching for him to come up with a roll of bandages that Kent always kept in the small chest at the foot of the bunk that they shared. "Take that armor off," he ordered, his smile still in place, though his eyes were serious. "I'll bring some water to clean that wound out with."
The hazel-eyed knight left quickly, rushing down the halls with surprising speed, considering his armor. When he reached the throne room, he immediately spotted Lord Hausen and Lady Lyndis, and strode up to them both, calling over a servant girl as he did so, ordering her to bring some hot water.
"My Lady," he said, his tone rather serious. "Kent has returned."
She smiled, sitting forward in the chair she had been occupying beside her grandfather. "Why did you not say so earlier?" she asked him, her tone eager.
"He only just arrived," he said, laughing lightly at the excited expression on her face. "But I'm afraid he took some sort of injury in his absence."
"How bad is it?" she asked, standing. "The healer just left- maybe ten minutes ago."
He shook his head. "I might be an expert when it comes to wooing women," he told her, "but I don't know a thing about medicine. I do not think it looks good, however. It looks as if it has not been treated for at least a full day or two."
Her eyebrows furrowed, and she looked as if she were thinking for a moment. When the servant girl brought a basin of hot water back, Lyndis took it from her before Sain could, and she turned to him and said, "I want you to go after Rena- that's the healer- and bring her back. She lives just south of here. Bring her to the barracks as soon as you return."
As soon as she finished what she was saying, she left, taking the steaming basin with her.
Lord Hausen laughed. "She makes a fine Lady, doesn't she?" he asked Sain, running a hand through his snow-white hair.
"Certainly," Sain told him, already on his way out of the room, "but she will make some lucky fellow a finer wife."
She wasn't quite sure why, but she found herself running as fast as she could- without spilling the water, of course- in the direction of the room that Kent and Sain shared. While she was fairly familiar with the castle, she only knew to whom a few rooms in the barracks belonged to; luckily, their room was one she was familiar with.
It only took her a few minutes to find the right one, and she didn't even bother to knock before she threw the door open, letting it bang into the wall on the inside of the room. She walked through the open doorway and set the basin down on a small wooden table that held a single candlestick and a handkerchief; the latter was carefully folded.
"Lady Lyndis!" he said, startled at her presence, and his flushed cheeks gave his embarrassment away. "I…I thought Sain was…" He had been fumbling with his gauntlets in an attempt to remove them, but he stopped to stare at her, his face- save for his flushed cheeks- pale and unnaturally drawn.
"Oh." She turned to look at him, taking in his entire appearance instantly. He certainly did not look well, she determined, noticing that his face was pale, even though he was sweating. "I sent him after a healer," she told him, "and it's a good thing I did, too. I'd say you're in need of one." She swished the cloth that had been hanging over the edge of the basin in the water and kept her eyes on him as he managed to pull his gauntlets from his hands. He had already removed the armor covering his chest- she could see it laying at the foot of his bed- and he reached for the plates covering his legs, but she stopped him.
"Don't worry about those," she said, wringing some of the hot water out of the cloth as she pushed a finger against his chest, forcing him to lie down despite his feeble protests. It only took a few moments for her to find the wound that Sain had mentioned, and she grimaced a little at the dried- and fresh- blood before she threw the cloth back into the water. She would need both hands for this…
Gently, she prodded around the wound, and after a minute or so, she found a small hole where the dried blood had not sealed his shirt to his skin. Pushing her finger underneath his shirt, she pulled upwards gently, cringing as she felt the material pull away from the dried blood, bringing skin up with it. "This is going to hurt…" she muttered, and she saw him nod in understanding. She pulled at the shirt quickly, yanking upwards in an attempt to pull it all away at once. She saw him flinch, but he did not say a word to her.
Gripping his shirt at his waist, she untucked it and folded it over on top of his chest, above the wound in his side.
"My Lady," he began, his face flushed in embarrassment again. "This is hardly proper!"
"What's not proper about it?" she asked, only half paying attention. "It's not as if you are a woman, and I am a man." Gingerly, she pressed a fingertip around the edge of the wound, and she noticed the muscles of his stomach tighten at the contact. The skin was red and inflamed, and it was hot to the touch. Letting her cool hand rest over the wound that had started to heal itself, she asked him, "How long did you let this go, Kent?"
"Only three days, m'lady…" He looked at her quickly before turning his brown eyes downward. "I am ashamed to admit I did not bring any bandages with me... or even a vulnerary."
She patted his arm with one hand reassuringly. "It's not your fault," she said to him. "I should have made sure you had some with you before I let you and Sain go." She pulled the cloth out of the basin and wrung it out again, saying, "But from the looks of you, I would say you forgot more than just bandages and vulneraries. When was the last time you ate? Slept?"
He did not answer her, instead merely shrugging his shoulders. In all honesty, he had been in too much of a hurry to get back to the castle to care, but he wasn't sure what she would say if he told her that.
She sighed and started to scrub the dry blood from his skin, mopping up the fresher blood and rinsing the rag out often. "By Father Sky!" she exclaimed after a few minutes, bending down to look at the wound closely. "How did you get this? Nobody keeps such a filthy sword!"
She could see dirt inside the wound, and she was certain that it was what was causing the infection.
"A knife, milady," he answered. "Forgive me for being so careless."
"Oh, Kent," she smiled, shaking her head. "You don't have to ask for forgiveness- I am…your friend, and it will always be given." She squinted at the wound and shook her head. "But I fear that this will have to be scrubbed out thoroughly." She didn't tell him that the wound had started to seal on its own, or that she suspected he had torn it open quite a bit by pushing himself too hard.
"If that is what must be done," he said quietly, his eyes half open as he looked at her. "But…shouldn't you wait for the healer?"
"I know what I'm doing. Sain will bring Rena back shortly, but really, she'll only do the same thing I am doing, first." Standing, she arched her back and stretched, pointing a finger at him. "I'll be back in a few minutes. You stay here and rest."
She came back in less than five minutes, but when she entered the room, she saw that he had fallen asleep. In her arms were several smaller towels, and more rags. On top of the pile sat a bar of lye soap, known for its concentrated cleaning power. She was glad that she had never had to use it while she lived on the plains- the soap was strong, and often left your skin burning for hours afterward.
She set everything down by his bed and sat on the edge of it, taking just a moment to watch him sleep. Leaning over him, she took a dry cloth from the stack and used it to wipe the sweat from his forehead, face, and neck. He always tries so hard, she thought, sighing a little as she pushed his bangs away from his eyes. He might not say much, but his eyes tell me everything.
Gently, she shook him awake, speaking his name softly as she did so. He honestly needed sleep, she knew- he had probably not slept well for days- but a sudden awakening to lye soap on an open wound could only be a catastrophe… She could just imagine it! Being a soldier, his first instinct would be to smack or punch her- probably right in the nose. Then, he would be shocked and ashamed of himself, and he would fall to his knees, probably tearing his wound open further than he already had in the process…
She was glad when he opened his eyes sleepily. "…Lyndis?" he asked.
She smiled at him and put her hands on his shoulders lightly. "Yes," she answered him. "I'm back, now… I'm afraid that this will hurt rather…excruciatingly, and I wanted to warn you in advance." She smiled again, this time apologetically.
When she pressed the warm, wet, lye-covered rag straight into his half-open wound, the response was instantaneous; his whole body tensed as if a hot poker was being pressed against him, and she knew he was trying not to say anything from the way that his eyes were squeezed shut. She scrubbed hard and quick in an attempt to get it over with as quickly as possible, but she couldn't help but feel her heart clench at his muffled groans.
Five minutes seemed like hours to her, and she could only imagine that it seemed even longer to him. She only had to leave once- to order someone to bring her clean water- but once the wound was cleaned and rinsed, she let him rest while she mopped the sweat off of his face and neck.
After he had rested for a few minutes, she leaned over him again. "Kent?"
He started, his eyes snapping open. "Yes, milady?"
"I am sorry to disturb you, but I still have to bandage it up." She smiled at him again, her green eyes starting to droop- it was getting dark outside, and she wanted to get it done before the candlelight became her only source of light. "I can't do it by myself… but all I need you to do is lift yourself off of the bed; just don't sit up completely, I don't want you to make it bleed again."
He nodded in affirmation and tiredly propped himself up on his elbows, arching his back off of the bed as best as he could so that she could use both hands to wrap the roll of bandages around his middle. Occasionally, he felt her hand brush against the bare skin of his back, and he would suppress a shiver, hoping that she did not notice the effect she had on him.
In a minute, it was all done, and she pushed him back against the bed, lifting his head just long enough to adjust his pillow. "Rest now, Kent," she ordered him, walking to the other side of the room to gather up the water and dirty towels.
His face was flushed lightly in embarrassment, but he nodded tiredly and said, "Thank you…milady…"
Smiling, she left the room, taking her things with her. Only a few feet down the hallway, she spotted Rena and Sain, and she stopped them. "Rena, thank you so very much for coming back. It doesn't seem to be anything too serious…an infection, but it's already been scrubbed out thoroughly with lye. Just do anything you can, will you?"
Sain grimaced at the mention of the lye. "You did that yourself, my lady?" he asked, clearly impressed.
"Of course!" she told him. "Now, when Rena is done, I want you to change his clothes for him- that shirt is covered in blood, and I'm sure his pants are soaked thanks to the water that I probably spilled all over him."
"Sure thing," he answered her, and turned to enter Kent's room.
"So," Sain said to Kent after the sky had darkened completely and nearly everyone had fallen asleep. "You spent some time alone with the lovely Lady Lyndis, eh?" A conniving grin covered his face, giving him the appearance of a troublemaker. "Did anything…happen?"
"Don't be vulgar, Sain."
Brushing his own bangs out of his eyes, Sain had the decency to look offended. "I'm not," her answered. "I'm merely asking a question."
"No. Nothing happened."
"…Nothing at all?"
"Don't be so angry, Kent. And don't sound so disappointed, either." After a moment of silence, Sain's grin returned, twice as wide as it had been, before. "You had the delicate fingers of an angel caressing your brow, and still you did nothing? I can't believe you!"
It was clear that Kent couldn't bring himself to answer- he was too busy fighting off a blush to say a thing.
The next day, Lyndis found herself standing at the door to Kent's room, and she knocked lightly, waiting for his affirmative before she entered.
"How are you feeling?" she asked him, taking a seat on his bed beside him. Sain and Rena had cleaned him up the night before, and he had clean clothes on. He looked a lot better then he had the night before.
"I am better, Lady Lyndis," he said to her. "But I feel I must apologize for being bothersome… I did not intend to become a burden."
"Kent, you have never been a burden. If I had not wanted to help, I would not have."
The smile that she flashed him set him at ease, and he felt his heart flutter anxiously when she took his hand. "As long as you are near me," she murmured, "do not worry about being a burden, about me, or about duty; worry more about yourself, please."
He could feel a blush starting to work its way across his cheeks, but he could not tear his eyes away from her own. She has such lovely eyes, he thought.
"I…thank you, my lady," he found himself whispering, and he grasped her hand that was holding onto his own and leaned forward, pulling it close to his lips to kiss the top of it.
She found herself blushing lightly at the feel of his lips against her skin, and she pushed thoughts away of what it might feel like to have his lips against her own, lest she follow through on the idea herself- and at that moment, she sorely wanted to.
Suddenly, she noticed the handkerchief that had been lying on the table from the night before. Reaching over with the hand that Kent was not holding, she picked it up. "I've never seen this before," she muttered, flicking her eyes up to meet his. "Do you always carry it with you?"
"No." He realized he was still holding onto her hand, and gently laid it back onto the bed, lacing his own hands over his stomach.
She gently unfolded the kerchief and ran her hand over the beautiful embroidery work in the corner. "Ellen?" she asked him, sounding out the word slowly, as she was still fairly new to reading. She smoothed out the small cloth in her hand. "Who is that?"
He flushed deeply. "My mother," he was quick to reassure her, though he could not stop his face from burning, and he had no idea why he was reassuring her ofanything, let alone the fact that the kerchief did not belong to a young lady.
She laughed lightly, and he felt as if his face was on fire. This is uncomfortable, he thought, fighting the urge to squirm.
Her eyes twinkling, she folded the cloth back the way it had been, and laid it on the table before she leaned forward to grab onto his hand again before giving it a squeeze. "It is nothing to be ashamed of," she said. "These belonged to my mother, after all." The hand that was not holding Kent's reached up to her ear and flicked at an earring. "I do not think I could bear to rid myself of them."
Reluctantly, his blush faded. "They are very beautiful," he found himself saying, but he was glad he had enough willpower not to say the rest of the truth, for fear he would sound too much like Sain. Though you are the one to make them that way.
"Thank you, Kent. Is…is your mother…still alive?" She hated asking it, because it was always hard to tell what the answer would be.
He shook his head, "No," he said to her. "She died…many years ago."
Her face fell slightly, and she muttered an apology, squeezing his hand lightly as she did so.
"Think nothing of it, my lady." His voice was gentle as he continued, "It was not your fault…and as I said, it happened many years ago."
She nodded at him and then cocked her head to the side. "But your father…he is alive?"
Kent hesitated, and she could see that he did not wish to speak of it. "…Yes," he eventually said, and Lyndis nearly sighed with relief at his words. After a few moments, he spoke again. "He…is the one that I went to see while I was gone," he whispered, and Lyn found herself struggling to hear what he had said.
"Forgive me for pressing…but… is that how you got this?" she gestured to the wound that was bandaged, her face solemn. "Did he do it?"
He did not answer her, and she feared that she had offended him, but after a few minutes of silence, he said, "He says that he has no son."
Deep down, Lyndis knew that even a man like Kent, who usually kept to himself and didn't exude his emotions like a leaking sieve, would be saddened by his father's hurtful words. Her smile faded, and she found herself leaning forward in the bed until she was close enough to wrap her arms around him, and she did so, pressing her face into the crook of his neck. "Why?" she whispered, not afraid of the answer, but curious to know why a parent would want to disown their own child.
Shocked at first by her display of affection, he soon wrapped his arms around her lightly in return, ignoring the part of his mind that told him it was not proper, and to get his hands off of her before someone happened to see. "I…" He thought for a moment, pondering the reasons his father had given him…and in the end, he could not think of a single reason- a reason that was legitimate enough that other people might have used it- and he settled for a sigh. "I…do not know," he answered honestly, and she pulled away gently, but not so far that his arms were not still around her. Her face was only inches away, and he frantically squelched any thoughts of kissing her.
"I…" he whispered, and she could feel the confusion in his words, though she chose not to comment on it, and instead listened intently, watching the emotion that came out through his gentle eyes. "I had thought that he wanted nothing to do with me because I was a weak child, but even after I went back as a Knight of Caelin, and a man…he wanted nothing to do with me."
His voice was sad, and she was surprised by the sheer amount of emotion she could feel coming from him. Her hand that had been behind his back found its way to his face, and she rested it on his cheek lightly, her eyes shining. "I do not know what kind of childhood you had with him," she said to him softly, her thumb rubbing against the skin of his cheek unconsciously, "but he…does not seem to be worth your time."
He nodded slightly, and breathed a gentle sigh of relief. "You are right, of course, milady… I do not know what I did wrong, but it's not as if it hardly mat—"
He found her lips pressing against his own, and his eyes widened in surprise and confusion while his mind asked him what the hell it was he thought he was doing. She pulled away after the shortest moment of his life, and looked at him through half-lidded eyes, her lips less than an inch away from his.
"If that is the only way to keep you from insinuating that you are unworthy or not good enough," she murmured, "I will do it again and again. Do not put yourself down. You have never failed me, and you have never failed Caelin." She stopped speaking for a moment, wrapping her arms around him again before giving him another hug. "If this man does not call you his son, then it is he that is truly not worthy of you."
His heart was beating so quickly that he was certain it would explode from his chest in a manner befitting an Elfire spell, but he could not make it stop. "Lyndis…"
She smiled, her heart soaring at the use of her name without the title. "Yes?" She pulled back to look at him again, close enough so that their noses were almost touching.
I love you¸ he wanted to say, but found that the words refused to fall from his lips as easily as they did his thoughts. I thank St. Elimine for you every day, I would give my life for you in an instant, knight or not, I will always be by your—
"Thank you," he said instead, resisting the urge to lean forward and kiss her. Even though she had pressed her lips against his first, he was not sure if he was at liberty to do so himself. It was awfully forward, after all… and what would people say if they knew?Imagine the scandal…and her reputation, it—
"You're welcome." Her words startled him out of his thoughts, and he wanted nothing more than to throw caution to the wind and press his lips against hers in a gentle kiss when he saw her right in front of him, her eyes nearly closed, and her lips only slightly parted.
Before he knew what he was doing, he was leaning in closer, and his lips were pressed against hers in a feathery kiss that left both of them only wanting more. "Lyndis…" he whispered, and she smiled against his lips.
He responded by pulling her closer, and she let him, giving him a long kiss that seemed to linger on, leaving his lips tingling almost as much as his heart was. "I love you," he said, and he found that he had not even wanted to make an attempt at stopping the words from falling out of his mouth.
"I—" she started to say, but she was interrupted by a loud clapping from the doorway that made them both jump and flush. Lyn hurriedly moved towards the end of the bed, and Kent sunk downward, leaning his head back against the pillow as far as he could make it go.
"Well said!" Sain declared, and he ignored the glares that both of his friends were sending him.
"Sain! How much did you see?" Lyndis demanded, the beginnings of a scowl on her face.
"Everything," he shrugged, nonchalantly. "I was coming in to visit my brother, my boon companion, you see, but then I heard these voices, and…"
"You eavesdropped!" Kent exclaimed, wanting to smack his palm against his own face.
"Well…yes. But I—"
"No excuses, Sain," Lyn said, pointing at him with one finger. "I can't believe you did that!"
"But I wasn't the only one!"
Silence filled the room as Lyndis and Kent looked at one another, and then back at Sain, who was pointing at someone standing outside the door. Both of their faces paled instantly.
Lord Hausen emerged from behind the door, his face expressionless.
"Forgive me, my lord!" Kent nearly fell over himself trying to get out of bed and onto the floor to bow on his knees, his embarrassment forgotten in his haste to apologize for fear of losing his position, his lady, and his life...
"It really wasn't his fault," she said, defending him. "I jumped all over him, and—"
"Kent," the elderly man said, his mouth turning upwards into a smile. "You know…I think you would make a fine grandson."
"My lord?" Kent looked bewildered, and his mind ceased functioning.
"And Lyndis," he continued, looking at his granddaughter. "I can tell you and I are related… that is exactly how I won my own Lyndis over! Under different circumstances, of course, I simply marched up to her and kissed her!"
"And she fell for you?" Sain asked incredulously.
"Well, first she slapped me," Hausen admitted. "But that was only because she had not been expecting it, and I kissed her eye instead." He smiled broadly at Lyn, and then at Kent, motioning the other man to stand up. "In all seriousness," he said, "I know that you wish to return to Sacae, Lyn, and if that is indeed what you intend to do, it really does not matter who you marry."
Sain wanted to yell,Pick me, pick me, but he refrained from doing so even though it would have been amusing to him, and simply smiled broadly at the two of them. "Actually," he said, "I was kind of counting on that happening. I have already resigned, and I will be on my way to Ostia, first thing tomorrow morning."
"Ah, Sain…" Kent looked downhearted at the thought of his friend leaving him.
"No worries, my boon companion! We are like brothers, you and I! If you and the Lady Lyn wish to live on the plains of Sacae, I will come to see you there."
Kent's mind was spinning so fast, he wondered if it would cause his head to roll off of his shoulders and out into the corridor. He looked at Sain, smiling as always, and at Lord Hausen, who smiled gently…and then at Lyndis, who was looking at him with longing, though he thought he could see the same hope shining in her eyes that he was sure were shining in his.
"May I?" he asked, turning to his lord.
Lord Hausen laughed. "Kent," he said, "I tried to make a decision once…about who Madelyn should have fallen in love with, and in my eyes, I thought that Hassar was not the one for her. But it turned out that I was wrong. What a mistake I would make to repeat history with my granddaughter! What kind of man would I be, now, if I did not let her decide for herself?"
He sighed in relief and turned to Lyndis, falling to one knee in front of her. Taking one of her hands, he kissed it gently, and lifting his eyes to hers, he asked, "Would you have me…as your husband, Lyndis?"
"Yes," she murmured at first, falling to her own knees in front of him and pressing her lips against his briefly before throwing her arms around him in a light hug that would not jar his wound. "Yes, yes, yes!"
"Sain," Hausen said, looking to the green-armored knight beside him. "I can't tell you how happy it makes me that I might live long enough to see my granddaughter married… It saddens me, even to this day, that I never saw Madelyn walk down the aisle." His eyes were sad, but his smile was wide. "It is a fine day in which I have acquired yet another grandchild!"
"Nearly two," Sain informed him, "considering that Kent and I are almost as close as brothers…isn't that right, partner?"
The auburn haired man smiled, briefly wondering if his mother could see him where he was. "Of course we are like brothers," he answered his friend. "Only we are closer."
"Kent," Lyn whispered, and he leaned in close enough to hear. "Do you remember when you found me in Bulgar? After being alone for six months, I found out that I had a grandfather… How I felt, then… I am imagining that it is almost how you feel, now."
He could only nod in agreement before he felt her lips against his, again.
I don't really have much to say. I added in one extra scene after sitting on this chapter for a couple of months. I wanted to make it longer, but the words refused to come to me. I still feel that things are a little rushed…but I do not have the time to completely re-work this chapter.
What's really funny is that in the first chapter, I mentioned Wallace accidentally leading them to Ilia instead of Caelin? At the time, I didn't even know that in his ending, that's where he goes…accidentally.
That was it, guys. This story is over. It was a lot of fun to write. Constructive criticism is, of course, appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this! Please review if you can.