By: Manna

She was one of those people who like to touch things. Touchy-feely, people called her behavior. She liked to sleep with her pillow against the side of her face, and the soft material of her blanket against her cheek. When she spoke with Florina, or Wil, or Eliwood…she liked to reach out a hand to touch their shoulder, their arm, their back.

She had not always been this way. She could remember when her people had been alive, her parents still there with her…and she had not acted that way. Perhaps their death, and the resulting loneliness, had been what had driven her to feel the urge to touch. Sometimes, she almost felt as if she did it to confirm someone's presence, or perhaps their mere existence.

Even after she had been reunited with Florina, she could not help but reach out and enfold her friend in a hug on an almost-daily basis. People assumed that so much physical contact was a part of her tribe, a part of her heritage…but it really was not. She didn't have the heart to tell them that it was just her- only her- and that in the Lorca clan, people did not normally act so close to anybody in public… not even their own spouse.

The men and women of their little ragtag army accepted her odd behavior as a part of who she was, and they paid no attention to the fact that she would touch them when she spoke to them, or hug them impulsively.

Except one man- he was untouchable, and it drove her nearly insane. He was so distant- not in the same way as the others…who occasionally had a past they wanted to hide... He distanced himself purposefully, mentally and physically, and no matter how hard she tried to understand it, she could not figure him out.

"Why do you think he does it?" she had asked her lavender-haired friend one night as the stars sparkled overhead.

"P…perhaps he is afraid," she answered, her smile wavering.

Lyndis turned over and held her friend's hand in her own. "Of what?"

"It is not my place to say." Florina smiled timidly at her, squeezing her hand. "I know," she continued, "but I cannot tell you."

The light blush across Florina's face did not escape her notice, but she chose to end the conversation.

The more time that passed, the more she found herself trying to figure out the puzzle that was Kent. She tried touching him, several times…but whenever her fingertips brushed against the material of his shirt- at his elbow, his back, or his shoulder- he tensed, and though he did not move even an inch, she could tell that every bone in his body was telling him to back away. Reluctantly, she let him go every time.

"Sain?" She approached her other knight, friend of Kent, lover of women. "May I ask a favor of you?"

"Of course!" His smile was bright, but slowly faded when he saw the look of confusion on her face. "Is something troubling you, Lady Lyndis? If I can wipe away all your troubles, I would certainly do so! Nothing should mar such a pretty face." His smile returned, but it was softer, gentler.

"Don't be silly," she told him, resisting the urge to roll her eyes at his playfulness. "Do you know why Kent acts as if he does not want me too close to him?"

The cavalier laughed then, his voice loud and unexpected. "Of course I do!" he said. "Why do you ask?"

"Well…" She thought for a moment before speaking. "I tried to ask something of him earlier, and…he tensed up like he wanted to run away from me… I don't quite understand why."

"As a knight," he said, "I can't lie to you, but… I really should not tell. Though I say I will do anything to make you smile, I don't think that I could betray the trust of my closest friend."

She sighed, knowing that if she ordered him to tell her, he would, but she did not want to abuse her so-called power. She hated holding any position of power over someone else, but the temptation to use it did present itself occasionally.

"Just a hint…anything?" she asked, feeling like a child. She could tell that Sain was starting to cave in by the soft look on his face.

"Just one," he teased, smile in place. "In all honesty, he is ashamed of something. But that's all I can tell you!"

Mentally, she was in a daze for the rest of the day, and for many weeks to follow. Ashamed, she wondered, ashamed of what?

That night, as she lay underneath her blanket under the stars, she could not help but think of Sain's words more. She found her hands winding themselves around her blanket idly as she thought, and after a few restless hours, she forced herself to sleep despite her curiosity.

Weeks passed, but as always, he was there. Oh-so faithful and loyal Kent stood relatively close to her all the time- a part of his duty, he had told her once. She had never questioned it before, but as she watched him out of the corner of her eye, she began to wonder. He did not move, did not walk up to other people to talk…he merely kept his distance- close enough to be summoned if he was needed, but far enough away that she could not touch him. So close, and yet...so far out of reach.

She approached him after lunch one day, while the army was on the move. He had dismounted and was leading his horse by the reins, and she thought that it would be a good time for her to speak with him. "Kent?"

He looked up from the ground in front of him, his brown eyes questioning. "Yes?" he asked, and, clearly startled to see that it was she who had spoken, he hurriedly bowed his head and added, "Lady Lyndis?"

She smiled warmly at him, but was discouraged to see him move unconsciously closer to his horse, as though he wanted to make a fast getaway. She fought the urge to put her hand on his shoulder or his arm, and instead forced her hands to stay at her sides, though they quickly tangled themselves in the fabric of her skirt.

Suddenly, she was rendered absolutely speechless by the almost-cornered look in his eyes, and she fumbled mentally for words to say. "How are you?"

She nearly lost her resolve to speak with him when the words came out of her mouth sounding as weak as a newborn calf's cry.

"I am fine." If the question bothered him, he gave no indication, and she nearly sighed with relief. "Are you faring well?"

She nodded and continued to walk next to him, but in complete silence as the words she had contemplated saying refused to come to her. She watched him out of the corner of her eye, and for the longest time he only kept his eyes on the ground in front of him, seemingly lost in thought.

After some time had passed, he turned to her as if he wanted to say something, but his face instantly flushed red and he stuttered, waving a hand at her as he politely turned his head. "M-my Lady!"

She looked down and nearly squeaked with embarrassment when she saw that her hands had twisted the fabric of her skirt up dangerously high. She let the material go, and crossed her arms, muttering out an apology, but Kent was already seated on his horse again, begging for forgiveness for seeing, and also begging her leave.

That night, she could not find sleep, even after many hours had passed. Her mind was mostly a whirl of emotions- confusion and hurt being at the top of the list. After tossing and turning half the night, she sat up with a sudden realization. His duty, the way he shied away when she got too close, his fear, his shame…it all made sense to her!

She hurriedly squashed her hurt feelings and stood silently. She didn't care how late it was, or what anybody might think- she had to know if she was right.

Suddenly, she was shaking him awake, kneeling so close to him that one of her knees was pressed against his stomach as he slept. "Kent," she whispered in his ear, "Kent, wake up."

Groggily, he started to sit up, and she pulled her face away from his lest she scare him half to death. When he realized who it was kneeling beside him, his hand immediately went for his sword as his eyes snapped wide open. "Is something the matter, Lady Lyndis?" he asked, his voice betraying his tiredness.

"No," she said. "I need to ask you something."

He fell silent and let his sword fall back to the ground with a soft thunk before turning to her.

She did not touch him, forcing her hands to intertwine on her lap instead. "Kent," she whispered, her voice so quiet that he had to strain to hear it, "are you ashamed of me?"

"What?" His tone was confused, his mind clouded with sleep. "What do you mean?"

"Well…" her eyes fell to her hands as they twisted in her lap. "Your duty is to stay near me…but when I come near you, you act as if you want to run. Sain told me that you were ashamed of something, and Florina mentioned fear… so…" Her eyes rose to meet his, and she willed the moisture in them to disappear. "I know I'm not a very good leader…and I guess I can't blame you if you are embarrassed or ashamed to…serve me, but you should not have been afraid to tell me of it."

His cheeks were red, though she could hardly tell in the dark. "I am not ashamed of you, m'lady!" he insisted, his voice rough and almost loud in the stillness. He softened the tone he was speaking with, looking away from her before he continued, "I am proud to serve under you."

"But…" Now she was confused. Her hands untangled themselves and one settled on his shoulder. "Then what are you ashamed of?"

He did not answer her; he merely shifted his gaze to his lap.

Her other hand touched his elbow, barely grazing the material of his shirt, but she could feel him tremble beneath her fingertips.

Slowly, he shifted until he was kneeling beside her. His dark eyes were full of what she assumed to be fear, or regret, but he quickly bowed deeply, his head near her knees, his expression lost to her.

"Forgive me," he muttered, "but I have tried to stop feeling as I do, and…I cannot. No matter how many times I try, these feelings keep coming back." He paused, as if gathering his thoughts, or courage, or perhaps both. "I am not myself when you are around," he continued, his voice gentle. "I would never be ashamed of serving you; I am only ashamed of myself."

"Why?" she asked him, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him up from his bow. One of her hands went to the back of his neck, smoothing down his auburn hair, and the other went to the middle of his back, pushing him against her. She could feel his heart pounding through the material of his shirt, but she chose to ignore it. The fact that he had not pulled away from her was confusing and pleasing to her all at the same time, and it was all that she had time to contemplate.

He rested the side of his face against her hair as he sighed softly and said, "For loving you."

His heart continued to pound, but hers seemed to stop when his words reached her ears. He had not said he was ashamed of his love for her, only that he was ashamed that he loved her, and it left her a little dazed. She merely held him against her as if she was afraid he would disappear as her mind struggled to keep up with her emotions.

"Please, m'lady, forget…that I said anything at all."

Before he could say anything more, she spoke, "What were you afraid of, Kent?"

He tensed quickly before relaxing again, but then he sighed, his breath tickling her ear. "Of my lady finding out," he whispered, his words nothing short of completely sincere.

She wanted to ask why, again, but stopped herself. She knew why. Though it was a reason that she did not agree with or quite understand, no matter how long she could devote to thinking about it. Lycian ways were so confusing and different…What was the use of a society that deemed some people more important or "worthy" over others?

Her people had been nothing like the Lycians… They had a chief, and though he was an important person, he listened to the words of every person in the tribe- from the oldest to the youngest- with a smile and a kind word. What was wrong with the Lycian government, as they called it, when the people who were supposed to care about the lord they served could not feel anything more for them except duty? It made her shudder involuntarily, that a man as steadfast and honorable as Kent would be afraid of admitting that he loved her…that he had started to fall in love with her… He could care for her as his liege, but never as anything more? She struggled to wrap her mind around the idea of loving someone but not being allowed to love them, and she found herself failing miserably.

After a long moment of silence, she found him pulling away from her gently, and she looked at him, locking gazes. "It was my wish that you would never know of it," he said softly, "but now that you do, I would ask that you try to forget." He lowered his gaze, looking embarrassed.

"Kent." Her words stopped him from speaking further, and she found her hand resting lightly against his cheek. As his eyes rose to meet hers again, she continued, "I won't pretend to understand why you didn't want me to know, but in Sacae, we love freely…without shame or regret. I can never understand a society that would try to prevent something that is supposed to be celebrated."

"But…M'lady, I…"

She looped her arms around him and leaned the side of her face against his, whispering in his ear, "I'm not a noble, Kent. I may have some blood running in me, but I neither look the part, nor act the part..." She sighed, resisting the urge to run her fingers through his hair; instead, she pulled herself back a few inches and let one of her hands rest on his chest, while the other one stayed on his back. "I am merely the granddaughter of a Marquess who can not seem to learn proper mannerisms, nor erase her accent, and I do not intend to become someone that I am not. I do not want to live in a society where I can not love freely."

He did not respond at first; he only let her lean against him, and she had a feeling that he was fighting against the rational part of his mind that told him she was a noble no matter what she said, that it was improper for them to be together in the way they were, and that he was overstepping his boundaries by allowing her to cling to him as she was.

"Forgive me," he said, "for feeling ashamed…I did not mean any disrespect by it."

"I know you didn't…" She smiled at him in relief- mostly because he wasn't ashamed of her- and pulled away. "Thank you for telling me. I would ask of you one thing, though…"

"Anything, Lady Lyndis."

"Don't hide it anymore, please?"

She could see him smile softly at her before he answered, bowing his head slightly as he spoke. "As you say. But what-"

"Oh, none of that," she teased, pressing her forehead against his. "I don't care what other people think, or if they see us right now…what really matters is what we think…wouldn't you agree?"

His smile and dark eyes answered for him, and Lyn found herself smiling; he had not moved away from her since she had come to him to wake him up! The fact made her heart leap in her chest.

"Good," she said, reaching one hand up to rest on his cheek.

Only a few moments of silence passed before she heard him speak, his voice hesitant, "May I…?" He trailed off as if he had lost the courage to finish his sentence, but she only smiled warmly at him in return.

"What is it?" she asked.

His face flushed as red as his usual armor, and she could tell that he was gathering courage to speak when it took him nearly a full minute to reply, his voice a light whisper. "May I kiss you?"

You can kiss me whenever you want, she considered saying, but thought better of it, lest she embarrass him to the point of no return. "Of course," she said instead, and not even a moment later, she felt his lips against her own as he wrapped his arms around her loosely.

The kiss was short, chaste, and not as clumsy as she thought it would be, considering it was her first. When they pulled apart, she smiled at him and ran one of her hands through his auburn hair. "I love you," she whispered, both her mind and heart content with the feeling of his arms around her; it was him touching her, reaching out for her…it was a nice change of pace.

"I…love you, too," he answered, his hand resting on the back of her head. "But…M'lady, you really should get some sleep…"

She pulled away regretfully and sighed. "You're right… I will. But only if you kiss me again tomorrow." She threw him an impish smile and made to stand up, but he pulled her back down and pressed his lips against hers for the second time that night.

"How about right now?" he murmured before kissing her a third time.

"That works…but tomorrow, too." She smiled against his lips and kissed him. Four kisses in one night, from a guy she thought was untouchable. That was almost unbelievable! Slowly, she pulled away from him and stood, loving the smile that was on his face. "Goodnight, Kent," she whispered. "I'll see you in the morning."

She turned and walked back to where she normally slept- next to Florina- hearing only a soft "Good night, Lyndis," from Kent before she was too far away. She snuggled down in her blankets, a smile plastered on her face, but she found herself unable to sleep. After a few minutes, she turned over and shook her friend gently.

"Florina," she whispered. "Wake up! You'll never guess what just happened…"

Author Notes:

That was, quite possibly, the most insane thing I've ever written. I'm not used to writing Lyndis… hmm… Anyway, did you expect that she thought he was ashamed of her? I couldn't resist putting that in there- sometimes mis-communications can be rather terrible, wouldn't you agree? She thought he was embarrassed of [serving her, and afraid of telling her so...which really doesn't make sense-- considering Kent is not really that type of person, but when you find yourself confused and unable to understand someone else's behavior, I think jumping to a conclusion is a possibility (though a dangerous one).

Something seems a bit "off" about it. Maybe it's just because of the point of view—something I'm most certainly not used to writing—or perhaps I should stick to more serious things… I will admit that I kind of struggled with the ending, finally settling on what you see here. (Which was actually more than a full page from where I was going to end it to begin with.)

Opinions are very much appreciated on this one, guys… I'm not sure if I've done something wrong or not, but I've edited this about a million times, and I can't tell if it seems in character or not. Thank you for reading!