A/N: Welcome to my FE Fanfic! Hope you like it!

Summary: This is about a short-termed romance of Ranulf and this bright beorc girl sent to Gallia by Daien (notably Prince Soren, he is the rightful heir to Daien!!) to study the laguz culture.

Note: This is set after FE10, where Daien is being rebuilt and Soren finally laid claim to the throne as Prince Daien. And after I trashed Pelleas. Mwa ha ha!

Disclaimer: I do not own FE. If I did, Leila would not have died and Ranulf would have more supports with girls and Soren and Lethe would support and the whole of FE9 and 10 would have better supports. Oh, and if I did own FE, I'd be rich by now.

"Ranulf. Are you paying attention?"

"Oh, oh. Yes." I told Soren, who had that grave expression on his face, just as always. He is so high-strung, I tell you. I wish he'd just snap one day.

"So, I want you to take care of her, or else..." Soren began again.

And I, once again, stared at the young girl... probably in her late teens... behind Soren. She had black eyes that surveyed the forest of Gallia, matching her black hair, which was tied up on a complicated bun on the back of her head. She was carrying a sling bag filled with papers or something. And to top it all off, she smelled like strawberries. Yes, strawberries. It was such a strong smell...

Okay, Ranulf. What's with the in-depth description with the girl? Well, it's a necessity. Soren here just comes to the edges of Gallia's forest and tells me to take this girl to Gallia. I mean, I can't just take any person--especially if she's not laguz--to Gallia, right? I think Soren told me a few rational reasons why I have to bring her there, but they slipped me.

"Look, look." I snapped at Soren, who was still in the middle of another explanation. "I can get her to Gallia, sure, but getting her a place to stay there is no easy feat."

"I have heard that there are a few beorc who have settled in Gallia." Soren reasoned. Darn. He sure does his research well. Oh, man... "So, take her. I won't take no for an answer. Just take her to Gallia."

I watched as the girl turned to Soren, and she gave him a hesitant look. Yes, girl... you know you don't want to go with me to Gallia...

"Lleine, you know you have to go. Despite looking like that, Ranulf doesn't bite. And if he does, he's had his shots, so don't worry."

Whoa! Was that just Soren talking? No way!

"Oh... Alright, Prince Soren..." The girl just nodded, as Soren patted her lightly on the head, and then Soren just went on his way.

...Was that really Soren?

After Soren had vanished from view, all that was left for me to do was getting rid of this girl...

It's not like I had some personal grudge against her and Soren, it's just that... I have responsibilities to Gallia and I can't waste time babysitting some girl. Besides, I wasn't good with girls... I think my only friend that's a girl is Lethe...

I then caught the girl blinking innocently at me, with her round, black eyes... Must be her first time seeing a cat laguz.

"Oookay." I backed away from her, not that I was close to begin with. "I know you value your 'Prince Soren' and his words, but I don't really bite, so there's no need to look at me like that."

"You have fangs." She pointed out, like that that explains everything.

"So what? I don't bite! ...Unless provoked, of course."

"Well, anyways, I'm going to Gallia, whether you like it or not!" she suddenly declared, a hand on her hip, and this determined look in her eyes. Sheesh... women. They're really a pain.

I sighed. "What's with the---Hey!" I began to ask, but the next minute, I see she's going into the forest, and I, being an officer of Gallia and a gentleman (Yes, I am one, just so you guys know), had to follow her and see her through safely.

-------------

What was with that cat?

Not only did he stare at me with such an unnerving stare, he... let out this little... growl... from time to time.

In Daien, I was taught that laguz were filthy beasts who loathed humans so much... who killed humans... but of course, since I was quite a bright individual, I wasn't convinced by those Daien lies. But I've never really been in the company of a laguz, so I can never tell...

But so far, I've come to think Ranulf has no plans of shredding me to strips of human flesh. After all, he isn't in his changed form. I was actually astounded to find that he looked a lot like a human. He just had a tail, and his ears were cat ears perched on his head. His eyes were just strangely one aqua and one purple, and that was it. He also had this beige headgear-thing... I thought he'd be... more hairy... or furry... or something.

Maybe the Daien stories are just fables picked up out of nowhere. Maybe---Ahhhh!!!

Darn it, I tripped on some vine and fell flat on my face!

A laugh filled the air, that of a certain cat's. Oh, where were his manners?! Why doesn't he just help me--?

I looked up to see his hand held out to me, and this smile on his face. "You should watch where you're going."

I took his hand and got up, shaking the dirt off my dress. "Well..."

He took something from this pouch attached to his belt, and he handed it to me--it was a white handkerchief. "You've got soil on your face, girl."

I took the handkerchief and wiped my face clean with it. "Thank you. And Sir Ranulf, my name is not 'girl', mind you."

I handed the handkerchief back to him, and he just gave me a blank look.

Oh, by the goddess, don't tell me...

"Sir Ranulf, you don't know my name, do you?" I tried.

He just gave me a sheepish smile. "Uh, nice weather, huh?"

I almost screamed something like, "Stupid cat", but I didn't. After all, this was my first ever interaction with a laguz, so...

"Sir Ranulf, I am Lleine." I reintroduced myself. I was sure Prince Soren introduced me earlier! "I've come to Gallia to study laguz... culture."

"Oh, I see." he said, as we continued our walk in the forest. "So, why are you going to study laguz culture?"

Ooh, Prince Soren has discussed this earlier...

"Because. I was sent here by Prince Soren to do so. He wishes, after becoming King of Daien, to establish friendly relations with Gallia. And he wishes to properly educate the people of Daien of the truth about laguz."

"Aaaand, what does you coming to Gallia have to do with that?"

"I am the representative of Daien. I will record what I see with my eyes."

We stopped walking, and then he turned to me. "Soo, you gotta experience the best there is in Gallia, huh? The friendship of Gallia and Daien is at your decision?"

"No, simply whether the people of Daien will come to understand laguz. I'm sure Gallia and Daien will be allies, for Prince Soren will push for that. And I believe King Gallia knows of Prince Soren as well."

"Well, what exactly is the entire story? If you've an important role, maybe I should bring this up with the king..."

I barely heard his last statements. I wiped off the sweat from my neck with my hands. I was already panting... How thick is this forest, anyway? How far is Gallia?

"Sir Ranulf, kindly tell me how long it would take to reach Gallia..."

"Oh. A few days on foot." he answered, so nonchalantly.

Days? What have I gotten myself into?!

"Eerr, surely you have other means of transportation aside from 'on foot' to take you to Gallia faster..."

"Well, in my transformed state, Gallia would be a few hours away, but..." he shrugged, "you are a beorc and you can't run like me..."

Panting, I suggested, "Can you transform and let me ride on your back?"

To that suggestion, his eyes widened in surprise, and he backed away. I guess that means, "No."

"Right. I was just kidding."

"Err... Lleine?" he called my attention. "You know, I may want to do that for us both, but that's just impossible, because even if I change forms, I'm not huge enough to accommodate you on my back."

He sat down on a piece of foliage on the ground, perhaps taking pity on me for being a weak human. I too, sat down and rested my back on this tree...

A few minutes of silence...

"...If I could get one of my tiger friends though, and have him carry you, this would be a breeze." he suddenly said.

"...Yeah..."

My eyes feel heavy... and I feel so tired...

------------------

"Ooh, you sure got King Caineghis worried, Ranulf." Came a female voice in Lleine's head. She opened her eyes, and found herself... moving. She looked around and found herself on the back of Mordecai, in his beorc form of course, and there was also Ranulf, and the female cat Lethe...

"The king had orders, Ranulf." came Mordecai's deep voice. "He asked for you.

"Well, yesterday was supposedly my day off..." Ranulf reasoned with Lethe and Mordecai, trademark grin still on his face. Lethe just raised an eyebrow.

"It was a half-day off!" Lethe corrected. "You said you'd be back before sunset! And so Mordecai and I get dispatched to look for you--and by the goddess! We had such a hard time picking up your scent because of those strawberries!"

"...Strawberries?" Lleine finally spoke. She has just recalled the pack of strawberries in her sling bag. "...Prince Soren made me take them. They're sweet."

At her statement, the two laguz (Ranulf and Lethe) turned to look at her. (Mordecai was unable to do so because he was carrying her.)

"Yes, you never really told me who this girl is, Ranulf." Lethe questions Ranulf.

He only shrugs and says, "Hey, she seems to be Soren's girlfriend or something."

"Girlfriend?!" Both Lethe and Lleine erupted at the same time, and both ferociously fought back the blush on their cheeks.

"I am not Prince Soren's girlfriend!" Lleine seems to have fully awakened thanks to the topic. "I'm not fit to be!"

"Definitely!" Lethe agreed. "Soren fancies men! He can't like a girl!"

"Wonderful reaction there, Lethe! You should've seen how red your face was!"

Lethe turns her face sharply away from Ranulf's mocking grin, and says, "You there, girl. Introduce yourself and tell why you are here."

Lleine sighed. This was the second time she had to explain herself...

"She's an envoy from Daien." Ranulf explained it in a short manner. "Soren says she will study the Gallian laguz' culture, a part of Soren's program for educating the citizens about the truth regarding us laguz."

"I did not understand." Mordecai made himself clear. "How is this girl related to all that?"

"I second what Mordecai says." Lethe nods slightly.

With a sigh, Ranulf turns to Lleine and said, "Sorry, Lleine, I third it. I know you've explained it to me a little, but I have to clearly know things."

Lleine takes a deep breath before explaining herself. She knew this would be a loooong explanation. "Alright. I am Lleine von Minatossa, I hail from one of Daien's noble houses. Albeit my being a noble, I'm a pretty normal girl. And I am not involved in politics whatsoever. Well, at least not until now. See, in Daien, Prince Soren pushes for the alliance with Gallia, and the proper knowledge about laguz to be spread in Daien. But of course, he still has to go through the Senate--the heads of the noble houses in Daien. My father is one of those heads. Unfortunately for Prince Soren, the members of the senate all despise laguz for some reason or another... probably because they still cling to the teachings in Daien about laguz..."

She stops to catch her breath for a while, but she is pushed to talk further by Lethe saying, "And...?"

"And so, Prince Soren dared the senate to try how it is being with laguz for once--for them to go to Gallia. But alas... no one wanted to go for it. The next thing I know is that I get called to go to Gallia on such short notice by the prince himself, saying that I will serve as the eyes of the senate. I don't know why it has to be me. Perhaps I was the only person they agreed on--the prince knowing I was a bright individual and the senate knowing I was raised to hate laguz. My father was clearly against this, but the prince managed to talk him through. So now I am here."

"Quite a lengthy explanation there." Ranulf commented. "But... question. If you were visiting here, Soren should have sent word to our king first before actually sending you here..."

"Well, I have no idea why he didn't do that, but I bear a letter from Prince Soren himself, I think that shall suffice."

Lethe rolled her eyes. "Oh, gosh. Calling Soren, 'Prince Soren' has never crossed my mind. I can't believe he is Prince Daien."

"...Mordecai did not understand all the fancy talk of Lleine." Mordecai said.

"Oh!" She gasps, wondering why the tiger laguz didn't understand her. She believes she made herself clear...

"Ooff, pardon Mordecai, he isn't that skilled in the beorc tongue. And especially with noble talk." Ranulf explained. Then he turned to Mordecai, "Mordecai, just think that Lleine is a good beorc. She's come here to Gallia for a vacation."

"How can you be so sure she is a good human?" Lethe arches an eyebrow. "You know humans all have at least two faces..."

Before Ranulf can talk back at Lethe, Lleine whispers to Mordecai, "Oh. Sir, if you may, you can put me down. I can already walk on my own."

Having heard this, Lethe snaps, "Quiet. You are slow and weak. It would take us ages to reach Gallia if we let you walk on your skinny limbs. This could all be faster if we just transformed...!"

"Lethe, why are you so hot-blooded?" Ranulf said with a low groan, which sounded like a whisper of a growl to Lleine's ears. "We've got to make her see nothing but the positive in Gallia and of us laguz. For the sake of laguz and our country, you have to at least be a little nice..."

Now Lleine was sure she heard a low, feline growl from Lethe. "Rrrr... You may be right. But it doesn't hurt to be cautious."

Ranulf sighed.

And for once Lleine was speechless to Lethe's words.

"We are getting near." Mordecai declared in the midst of the temporary silence.

And with that statement, Lleine was getting more and more excited to see Gallia...

-------------

Aah, I fell asleep again...

I woke up to a slight poke at my side. "Hey. We're here."

I opened my eyes to the sight of Ranulf, Lethe and Mordecai looking down at me. Apparently I had been settled down nicely on some soft piece of foliage and...

Wait, did they just say we were in Gallia?

I immediately got up, and surveyed the surroundings...

There was an astounding stone castle in front of me. The castle walls were not so high like the one in Castle Daien... and I was standing on a field of deep green grass, soil, and trees. This was very much unlike in Daien, where I would be standing on stone paths. It actually seemed cool, much thanks to the wind and the trees. I studied the skies. It seemed to be sunset...

I studied the vicinity closer. There were more feline laguz wandering around. By the castle were laguz guards, and outside was the castle town I assume, where normal laguz were getting on with their business.

Actually, aside from the setting, this seems no different from a human country...

"Amazing how you can sleep at any time, Lleine." Ranulf remarked with his smirk, and added, "Well, we have to go see the king. I'll put in a word or two about you, so don't worry."

"May I not go with you?" I asked.

Unfortunately, he shook his head. Lethe and Mordecai as well. "Eh, sadly, I can't just bring you to the king out of nowhere. You just wait here, and I'll get back to you." Ranulf told me.

"Okaaay... but do give this to His Highness for me..." I rummaged through my bag and produced the letter from Prince Soren.

He took it, and he just said, "Just stay here, okay? Don't wander around. Gallians aren't generally ready to pounce on beorc all the time, but some might just do that. So wait here."

And like an obedient child, I just nodded, and the next thing I know, they were heading towards the gate to the castle, leaving me behind.

What awesome hospitality...

But then I figured, should I have a laguz friend I want to introduce to the king of out human country, I can't just let him in so easily, even if I were close to the king...

There is, after all, an invisible barrier between laguz and humans...

I turned to studying the laguz around me. None of them were actually close to me--they were all a distance from me. Funny, every time I locked eyes with one of them, they would pull their eyes away...

And I thought, I was lucky to be only getting this, if I were a laguz in a human country, especially Daien, I would probably be getting stoned by now.

And so I sat once again on the grass, finding myself a comfortable tree to lean on, and got out a blank book, given to me by the prince. I was told to write down my observations here, or just think of it as my journal. I took my quill and ink as well, and I began writing.

'The journey to Gallia was oddly easy, much thanks to the guide the prince introduced to me. He is Ranulf, a general from Gallia, or so I heard. Oddly, he pretty much looks like a human--we just need tails and cat ears, we'd all look like cat laguz, I'd bet.

'Thank goodness I was with Ranulf, or else I could've been stranded in Forest Gallia for weeks. And just so people know, I received no form of clawing or physical harm. Not even killer looks.

'I've also met Mordecai, a tiger laguz, and Lethe, another cat. Lethe was very much cautious of me, while Mordecai, I can tell, was a kind laguz. I understand Lethe, though. She didn't really say anything that harsh, but I figured if I were a laguz stuck with Daien citizens, I would probably be stoned.

'They talk pretty normally, albeit those low growls or roars I sometimes hear in their throats--but I think it's just natural to them. And. They're not hairy or furry--at least not until they change forms. They're not ugly, either. As I've just said, we just need tails.

'The townspeople give me odd looks, but at least I've not been harmed.

'I've confirmed from Ranulf's statements that there are some laguz here that really have a hatred for humans, but he hinted that they were rare.

-------------

"Hey! Lleine!"

Oddly, I found the girl on the ground, writing some stuff onto this book...

Really scholarly. Just like Soren. And with the black hair and eyes and that pallor, I wouldn't be shocked if she were Soren's sister or daughter or something.

Whoa there, Ranulf! You had a point! Maybe...

"Oh, Sir Ranulf." She stopped writing and she looked up to me. "How was your talk with King Gallia?"

"Well, to put it short, he doesn't want to see you." I answered, straight to the point.

And as expected, she had a puzzled reaction. "What?"

"He said something about Soren saying something in the letter to not meet you. Something about the senate members not wanting you to be spoiled by the king just to write down good stuff." I explained.

I could tell she was let down, but only slightly. "Oh..."

...Ah, those black eyes... she really must be Soren's sister... but I don't see a mark of being a laguz or a Branded anywhere... and I know Soren's a Branded because Lethe told me. And besides, you can sniff out your own kind--I mean, for Soren being part laguz, that is.

She tidied her things, stood up, and blinked at me innocently again. "So, Sir Ranulf, what am I supposed to do now?"

Before I could answer, my cat ears twitched again. How long have I been hearing that 'Sir Ranulf' by now? Eeek! I can hardly stand it! "Uh, Lleine, I'd love it if you just called me 'Ranulf', putting a 'Sir' before it makes me look old... or something."

Oh, shoot... I shouldn't have talked about age... I'm sure she'd get curious about the cat laguz aging system or something...

"But I've heard from Prince Soren that you're a Gallian general." she reasoned.

"Oh, good! I thought you'd ask about our aging process." I sighed with relief.

She just giggled, and answered, "I was thinking or asking that, Sir Ranulf."

"Will you please cut it? My ears are twitching from the 'Sir'!" I finally blurted out.

"But I've been calling you 'Sir' all this time!"

"I thought it was going to be bearable at first, but now my ears twitch because of it, and I don't wanna feel all... twitchy." I explained... uh, that wasn't a good explanation, I know...

"Oh, now I want to touch your ears!"

"Ooh, I shouldn't have put emphasis on the ears...!"

When she saw I was feeling less than my cheerful self, she finally simmered down from giggling. "Ranulf? Where are Lethe and Mordecai?"

"They have other orders."

"...What do I do now?"

What a stupid question.

Alright, I'm feeling less than Ranulf, I'm sorry. Why? I've just been ordered by King Caineghis to watch over the girl, and that's... a little troublesome. I mean, I wasn't gonna be her tour guide or something, but the king did tell me that she might witness or experience some things she wouldn't understand, and concluded that her whole mission would be easier if she had a Gallian friend guiding her. I'm sure the king would have made it easier for himself should he have just said that he wants me to be a baby-sitter.

Lethe would be so much better for this job...Err, maybe not. She's opened up to beorc a lot, but there is still occasional... friction.

I know, it had to be me...

Well, after all, this might be fun! I've never really known a female beorc before, I might discover sorts of things as well!

"Do you want to jump to your 'learning laguz culture' already, or do you want to rest up somewhere?" I asked.

She put a hand on her mid-section, and blurted out, "Erm... I want something to eat, please."

Darn. There's gonna be some problem there...

--------------

"Eeeww!" she shrieked. "You eat field mice alive! And raw fish!"

"Hey, eating raw is healthy." He told her, matter-of-factly. "And don't argue with me with the fish--eating the fish right after you catch it is good."

"Eeeww!" she shrieked again in disgust.

The two of them were walking in some town, Ranulf leading the woman to his house (which was pretty near the castle). Well, there was no place she can stay as of now...

He stopped right before his house--it was a small, one floor stone house. He opened the door, and invited her in.

"This is... where you live?" she asks. She was a bit surprised. He was a general, and his house was just...

"I bet you're surprised because generals in beorc countries have mini-castles or something."

"Well, you're correct, but I'm not about to complain." she made it clear, as she enters his home.

His house was made of wood inside, and it was quite cool and neat... but there seemed to be a thin layer of dust all over the place. He obviously didn't spend much time in there...

"I'll go get you some food. I'll be back in a short while. Stay there, alright?"

"Just get me human food, at least." she reminds him, and he just shrugs, as he exits the house again, closing the door behind him.

She, in turn, just whispered something in the lines of, "I am not eating mice, no way", then taking a cloth" she found in the house, using it to wipe the dust off a small dining table.

He returned with a small pack of food (it was packed inside huge banana tree leaves), putting it on the small dining table in front of her. "I hope you're not picky about food, because the beorc on the outskirts don't really cook a lot of food for noble types."

"I'm completely fine with any food, so long as it isn't raw." she started setting the food for herself, and she ate right off the leaves, with her hands.

"Hey, I'm sharing some of that!" He took a seat beside her, his hands also reaching for the food.

And she willingly shared. The meal was bought by his money, after all. "Mmm... so, Ranulf, laguz also eat beorc food?"

"Of course they do!" he answers in between stuffing his mouth. "We have other cooked delicacies in Gallia that are exclusive to us! Mostly meat. But of course, being the beast tribe of laguz, most of the time we just hunt for our meals."

"That explains why this dining table is rarely used, I guess." she concluded. "You always... eat outside, huh?"

"Yup! Fish is my favorite." He says with a grin--a grin laced with some meat sauce. "Eating fish fresh from this stream... then taking a catnap after... aww, that's just the life."

"I see..." she says with a nod."I wonder how they eat in other laguz countries..."

He shrugs, "I've no idea about the dragons in Goldoa, but the bird tribes eat various things, I heard. The herons stick to nuts and berries--and they say they can make a lot of sweet treats from them! Hawks take nuts and berries, too, but they also" eat meat. And I've heard they have good meat there!"

She giggles, "You're quite enthusiastic about food, Ranulf."

He shrugs again. "What? Nah. But laguz and beorc just have such different worlds when it comes to food. But it's fun trying them all!"

Her giggle doesn't vanish at all. "You may say so, but I'm not eating the raw fish or the raw field mice!"

She laughs again, and for some reason, he laughs along with her.

When the laughter has died down, she asks, "So... beorc are... us, right?"

"Oh, beorc are you humans." He explained, mentally scolding himself for not explaining earlier. "And beware of laguz that call you 'human'--they mean it like when you call us 'sub-humans' or 'half-breeds'."

"Ah, so it's an offense to be called 'human'?" she mused. "I never thought of that..."

"Well, just beware of those laguz." he warned. "They have obvious hatred for beorc."

"Lethe calls me a human, as I recall..." she remembered.

"Oh, that's Lethe." Ranulf just shrugged nonchalantly. "She still is cautious around beorc, but she's nice. Simply calling you a human is a slip of the tongue for her."

"I see..." she mused again.

"I hope you pardon Lethe as well." he continued. "Her words just cut as deep as her claws do, but she's really nice."

"Alright..." she just nodded slowly, and then adding the question, "...Is Lethe your girlfriend or something?"

For a few seconds there, there was silence. Ranulf blinked innocently at Lleine, before blurting out, "Are you kidding? Lethe, me, no way!"

"Oh." she said thoughtfully, while opening a banana, and then biting it, and then talking while chewing, "I just thought... never mind."

"Hey, don't talk while eating! Where are your manners, noble?" He tells her off with a grin. "I don't really want to see your food in its pre-digested state, you know what I mean!"

She shuts her mouth, swallows, then says, "I'm not in a noble house, so I may rid myself of manners!" she reasons. "Abiding by those stiff rules tires me..."

"So..." he had a thought, "Maybe you should go all the way and rid yourself of the noble talk as well. Fancy words and all that... a lot of Gallians wouldn't understand you. I just do because I do. I'm quite skilled with the beorc tongue."

"Yes, you seem to be." she mused again. "Well... start speaking normal? I will try..."

After a few more words, and when the food was all gone, both of them were left licking their fingers, and all that was left to ask was, "Well, what do we do now?"

-----------------

"So, when the evening comes, you still have perfect vision?" she mused again. "Wow. You've a lot of skills. We humans... err, beorc... are inferior."

Well, the girl and I have been walking around aimlessly, and now we were walking by these plains, with this stream nearby. It was already dark, but with all the catnaps she took, she wasn't tired yet. It's a good thing I'm a cat that can pull out energy out of nowhere.

Wait... Did I just say...? Stream? Water? FISH!!!!

"Ranulf?" she snapped me from my thoughts. "I was asking something."

"Oh. I beg your pardon, then." Stupid me. Not paying attention to the person with you... ah, I need to have more cat manners...

"How was your meeting with King Gallia? I hope you weren't scolded or anything."

Oh. That. Did she just have to ask?

"Well, I wasn't scolded." I found myself telling her. "In fact, I've been given a longer vacation... shoot."

"Longer vacation? Are you suspended or something?"

I couldn't keep myself from rolling my eyes. "Well, I was told to keep watch over you or something."

"Oh." she said with this odd tone to her voice.

"Hey, hey, not that I don't think it'll be fun!" I told her before she could think I felt her a burden. "Though we laguz are less extreme, something harsh might still happen to you if you're left alone in Gallia. It's not war time or anything, so the king found it right to just give me a break--or another job, that is."

She just sat down on the dry grass, by the stream, and looked up to the full moon.

The moon quite nicely lighted up her face, and her eyes twinkle...

Actually, now that I stare at her, she's kinda cute...

"...Beautiful..."--darn it, I wasn't able to stop myself from saying that out loud!

She turned to me with this nice, contented smile, and said, "King Gallia is most gracious to have one of his most trusted men look after me. Please send him my thanks..."

...Oh. She's happy because of the king. Or maybe... nah. Nothing. Whatever.

"Yeah, sure, I'll tell him." I just said with a shrug. "When your whole adventure here in Gallia is over, you should meet the king, before setting off to Daien again."

She nods, still with that odd smile...

Damn that smile...

"Oh, yes, Ranulf." she suddenly recalled something. "You were saying something in the lines of 'beautiful'?"

Whoops!

"Yup, the moon is beautiful, right?" I quickly (and quite calmly) said.

Of course, Ranulf. It was the moon and the scene that was beautiful, not the girl. I just said she was cute. And cute is nice. And that's it. Ha ha!

"I rarely see the moon like this in Daien." she told me.

"I have the feeling this is gonna be some teary story of your past or something." I just chuckled, sitting on the grass beside her.

"Not. I don't have some teary past." she corrected me, lightly hitting me on the head. "This is just about the moon. Why do you elaborate like that?"

"Right... why do I elaborate like that?" I laughed at myself. "Maybe lack of sleep has to do with this. My head's all weird. Sorry, Lleine."

All she did was repeat, "...Lack of sleep?"

I figured I should at least tell her. After all, knowing won't hurt. "In Gallia Forest, when you fell asleep the first time, I just decided to carry you. We can't waste precious time lying there, you know. I even lost sleep doing that! And when I came across Mordecai and Lethe in the morning, Mordecai took over for me. And then--"

"I see... So that's how we reached Gallia so fast." she cut me short. "I'm sorry, Ranulf."

"What? Sorry? Oh, c'mon, you don't have to be." I told her. "You're Gallia's special guest!"

She just giggled. "Okay. If there's anything I can do for you though..."

"Now, that's bright!" I remarked. "You can do something for me! Just stay there and let me take a nap, okay?"

-----------------

Ooof... oh, it's bright already?

Rise and shine, Ranulf!

...huh? What is Lleine doing curled beside me and embracing me and...

Eeek...!

Whoops, Ranulf, don't panic. What's the situation? I just woke up from my nap on the plains, and I wake up to see the girl coiled beside me. ...Wait up. She's so cold...

Dammit, I think she caught a fever...

Stupid, stupid, Ranulf! This is your fault! She got cold last night, and you know beorc have thinner skin then laguz! ...Oh, man...

I tried to get up, but then came Lleine's shivering voice, "Ranulf... d-don't... leave... so... cold..."

I groaned. Ooh, what a tough situation... "Lleine, did you already sleep?"

"I couldn't! It was... so cold... I always become like this when it's cool, and..."

"Why didn't you wake me up? We could've gone back to my house!" I scolded her. Ooh, should King Caineghis now what foolishness I've done again...

"...But you looked so cute sleeping there, so contented, and you purr..."

"Ah, like that's enough reason!" I got up, and took the girl and carried her on my back. I was getting used to her weight... and she's kinda light and all. Actually, too light for my tastes. Maybe I should feed her more meat and sweets...

-------------

"Ranulf!" Lethe continued to scold the male cat. "You dream! This is a beorc! And a female beorc! And she's weak! You have to watch her all the time! If she dies in Gallia, ooh, you bet that alliance in Daien will be close to nothing!"

"Well, sorry, Lethe." was all Ranulf can say, as he added another layer of a blanket over Lleine, who was resting on his bed. "I'll do much, much better next time..."

"You'd better!" She threatened. "Rrr... why did the king put you in charge of that girl?"

"Wanna trade places with me?" Ranulf offered with a smirk.

Glancing at the shivering Lleine, Lethe was quick to reply, "No. But sometimes you only think of yourself, since you are used to being alone, Ranulf. You had better... make some adjustments. I'm going off. She'll be fine with some sleep. If you need me, just roar or something. I'll be there as long as I'm not busy with something."

And with that, Lethe was off...

"Oh, boy." Ranulf groaned. He sat beside the bed, and stared at Lleine.

The girl spoke, and said, "Ranulf... sorry..."

"You're too kind." was all he said. "You don't have to be sorry for being sick."

She nodded ever so slightly, but still she reasoned, "...Still... I'm a burden, right?"

He just smiles, chuckles, and says, "No! In fact, I'm quite humored here--I feel like your dad or something!"

She giggles lightly, and whispers, "Yeah... dad..."

He felt like talking about it, so he said, "Matter of fact, let me tell you, we're probably around the same age."

She exerted effort to knot her eyebrows a little, and say, "Huh? You clearly seem older than me..."

"Cat laguz age faster."

"Oh, I see..." she muses."It's odd and intriguing, but I somehow just don't want to think about it."

"Yeah, you need some rest!" he insists. "That's why your head can't understand stuff!"

She chuckles, and says, "Well, you're correct... but only partly. My point is, age doesn't matter at all, does it?"

------------------

It's been about four days and my fever has finally subsided. Finally! I mean, what a waste of time that was. I could've wandered around the country, exploring new stuff, but I just had to get a fever! Well... I've always been vulnerable to the cold, and...

It wasn't exactly a waste of time. I had Ranulf with me, and since I was resting, he probably used up all his stocked stories on me! I knew a lot about the laguz through him--he told me much. He practically didn't leave me unless he had to do something urgent. I guess he does take his king's orders seriously--a tad too much sometimes. Oh well...

And now, I was ready to go out once again!

"Hey, hey, you'd better not strain yourself!" the cat scolded me, as I was stretching my arms that evening. Oh, Gallia's gonna get all cold again...

"C'mon, Ranulf! I won't get a fever like that again. Promise." I told him, holding my hand up as if to take an oath.

"Bah. You can't decide whether you'll get sick or not." He tells me in his matter-of-factly manner once again. "And if you get sick, and it wasn't your fault, you'd break that promise."

"The first day was different!" I reasoned. "My body was just getting adjusted to the climate in Gallia. This time, I'm fine!"

He shook his head, as if not believing me. What? Did he think I was lying? I felt fine all over!

"Anyways," he put a hand on my head--he was a tad taller than me and all, "We're going out, but expect the castle town--eh, maybe the whole of Gallia to be... busy."

"What's going on?" I looked out the window, and though we were in the residential area of the land, I found more laguz than usual.

"Festival of some sort." He explains. "It's for...lovers, so I'm out of it. But we can check it out."

"I hope it'll be fun!"

He just chuckled and he said, "Well, come on, we have to do some walking!"

---------------

The castle town of Gallia seemed busier than usual. There were more people on the streets, and more shops and booths set up...

There were female cat laguz walking around together, murmuring things. There were also male cat laguz, but most of them were by themselves instead of in groups. And of course, there were pairs...

But an odd pair to see, of course, was a male cat laguz and a female beorc...

"Don't wander around." He told her, in a serious tone. "If you see someplace you want to go to, tell me."

"Alright." She nods, carefully walking beside him in the crowd. She noticed an awful lot of the laguz give her and Ranulf odd looks, but they seemed to know better than to ask Ranulf. (After all, he was a Gallian general; they knew that he knew what he was doing.)

She wrapped her arms to herself, the cool night breeze already getting to her.

And he managed to notice it.

"You're getting cold again." He stopped walking, and so did she.

"I know. But I'm not going back to your house."

(She was a stubborn girl in her own right.)

He groans, and studies her clothing--a short dress of black and white. "Didn't Soren think of giving you a cloak?"

(He, in fact, didn't have a cloak himself--but it was because he was used to the climate.)

"Do you have to blame everything to our prince?" she talked back, but with a smile. "Myself lacking a cloak is my own fault, not his."

He groaned again, and since she had good ears, she could detect that low growl in his throat.

"When you groan like that, I could make out a faint growl in your throat." She finally told him. "That is natural, I guess...?"

"Oh. Yes it is." He answered, and amused that she was keen enough to notice. "I just... want to growl sometimes, but I stop myself. After all, it's not in my nature to growl. Does it scare you?"

"No. I just find it... odd."

The way she said that intrigued him. Odd? Odd in what sense?

She took to a wooden bench, and sat down. He followed after her, still curious to her last statement.

"Odd in what sense?" he asks.

But she doesn't seem to hear, for her gaze was fixed on the vicinity. By this time, a few laguz men were putting up some very pretty lights, and soon they both decorated the town and lighted up the area as well. More and more laguz were filling the streets...

She watched the place get livelier, with more people...

And he stared at her fascinated face...

And he only snapped from doing that when she spoke, "Tell me, Ranulf, about this festival."

He muttered another curse--he cursed that beautiful, innocent face of hers. He just had to stare...

"And what would you hear about it?" he asked back at her.

"The basics, of course."

He just shrugged--something that was becoming a habit of his--and then replied, "Alright. It's an annual festival in Gallia. It's not as extravagant as beorc festivals, I know... but it's the thought that counts."

"So, what is this festival all about?" she pressed on the question again. "You mentioned something earlier about this festival being for... lovers?"

He nods slightly. "Oh, that. Yup. This day is for... special friends. It's for declaring your love or something. It's timely because this day, the skies have a tad more stars. You could clearly see all the constellations. The festival is for stargazing, and it starts at midnight or something. You just go around Gallia and find a nice spot to cuddle with your loved one and gaze at the stars. Quite nice, but I've never really done it before..."

She pondered on his words for a moment, and remarked, "Well, we don't do that in Daien. Or at least I've never done it. I've never been in any festival. Lying in some grass, staring at the stars... that'd be nice, but I wouldn't be caught dead lying on the ground in Daien. My father thinks it degrading."

"Aww, that's a pity..."

After a few more seconds of silence, and moments of him catching the obvious fascination in her face, he offers, "Hey, since we're here, let's just tag along the festival!"

She looks surprised for a few seconds. And then she said, teasing tone to her voice, "Oh, Sir Ranulf... you're asking me on a date...!"

His cat ears twitched again. "No, spare me the 'Sir'... And is there anything wrong with asking you on a date?" He was a little nervous speaking about it, but since he is the all-cool Ranulf we all know, it was barely noticeable. "I asked Lethe once, but all I got was an immediate refusal."

"I see."

He cursed again in his mind, "Darn your short mysterious answers, Lleine, it makes me all too curious..."

And he just recalled, 'Curiosity killed the cat'.

He groans.

--------------

Okay, so curiosity killed the cat, eh?

I wonder what stupid beorc came up with that saying.

I mean, curiosity may be sometimes good, and a healthy dose of it is good--it sends someone's head to work. And Lleine, in my opinion, just does that--sends my mind to work.

She's innocent, yet mysterious--cute little kid...

Obviously, I view her only as that--a cute little kid.

...Did I?

Oh, Ranulf... there's no point thinking about it, is there?

You just want to have fun! That's all!

"Oh, you are so stupid!" Lethe's voice snapped me from my thoughts. "Letting the girl go off to the outskirts? Oh, I just pray she be safe...!"

"Lethe, I do believe I can be able to sniff out if she'd be in trouble. And you can hear a pin drop inside a crowd--with our superior hearing, if she ever screamed, we'll hear it!"

Yes, since it was not yet midnight, Lleine asked for some time off--saying she needed to do something first. I trust my fellow Gallians wouldn't be so hot blooded during a festival like this and all--so she'll be fine!

"What are you doing here anyways?" I questioned Lethe, who was trailing after me as I checked some of the stuff in the merchant stalls. "I hope you've got a date, 'coz obviously I've got mine."

"I know about you and the girl." She said in what sounded to my ear as a roar or some sort. "And just so you know, I... uh, nothing."

I dismissed whatever I was doing, and turned to Lethe--to tease her, of course! It was a fun thing to do. "What was that, Lethe?"

"Nothing."

I chuckled. "Doesn't sound like nothing to me. Tell me, does this day involve either Ike, Soren, or... Skrimir, by chance?"

Lethe raised an eyebrow, and said, "Does not. You're saying random things."

Aha! I caught that tail trash, Lethe!

"Unfortunately, Lethe, I saw you trash your tail."

"Rrr... Whatever!" she declares, before running off out of sight.

Goodness gracious, I think Lethe has gotten herself a love life... well, it was about time!

So, I just continued walking around the stalls, keeping a constant nose on Lleine's location.

----------------

I should've done this before. But the fever stopped me from doing it. I should've gone to a beorc home and used these strawberries to make a dessert or something!

I know, Prince Soren being a considerate person, he probably enclosed the berries in some magic--ice, perhaps--which is why I can still smell the strawberries fresh in my pack.

I've heard there are a few beorc living in the outskirts... maybe I can borrow a kitchen and---

"Oh!" I ran into a thick wall of flesh--and looked up to see the threatening eyes of a big male tiger laguz looking down on me.

He just stared into my eyes for a few seconds, and so did I, before I blurted out, "Oh, I apologize, Sir. I wasn't looking in the way..."

I felt nervous when I saw his big hand rose, but felt a little better when I felt that hand rest on my head, and pat me there lightly, like I was some little kid (which I probably was in his eyes). It was faint, but I could feel his hand was shaking as he held me...No, that must be my imagination.

And then he went off--without so much a word or a smile.

...Well, that wasn't so bad. At least I didn't get harmed or something.

"You are all alone, beorc?"

"Oh!" I turned around to that voice from behind me. It was a familiar voice, the voice off... "Mordecai!"

"Yes... Lleine?" He asked for a confirmation of my name.

"Yes, yes..." I nodded, quite a bit enthusiastically.

"You are alone, Lleine. Why?" He asks.

"I just... I just am alone, that's why. I wanted to borrow a beorc kitchen, so I thought I'd go to their settlement in the outskirts."

"Ah... Grr... I will... go with you." He offered. "It is not safe for you to be alone."

Well... having a guide with you really would help, Lleine...

"Alright, then." I said. "Please lead the way."

The next few minutes were filled with the scenario of me just following Sir Mordecai. Gallia, the country itself, was still made up of a few forests, albeit not as thick as the forest you need to traverse to get here.

"Oh, I forgot to thank you for that time you carried me, Sir Mordecai." I told him as we walked. "I'm sorry I had to make you carry me..."

"It is no big deal." he says with a slight nod. "You... are good beorc."

"Hmmm... how can you tell?" I questioned.

"I... I can smell that you don't hate laguz."

Oh... they really do have handy skills, the laguz...

-------------

It was almost midnight.

Ranulf knew he had to find the girl--and fast. All of a sudden, her scent sort of just... disappeared.

Her scent? Ranulf knew he was just holding on to the strong scent of the strawberries in her pack--and now that scent was gone!

He's in trouble now...

"Oh, the king is gonna kill me..." he groans, staring at the present he had for the girl in his hands. He picked it up from the town a while ago...

He was once again, at his fishing spot--and area of plain dried grass and there was this stream--he has been there with Lleine before.

And suddenly, his ears felt all... twitchy.

He listened harder, and heard her screaming his name with enthusiasm--and with a 'Sir' attached to it once again.

"Oh, Lleine..." he groaned, as he saw the girl come nearer towards him, until she was there in front of him, trying to catch her breath from running.

The first thing he did was to lightly hit her on the head. "I told you not to tire yourself silly again!"

She just looks up to him with that innocent smile, and mumbles an apology.

"But we're gonna wait for midnight, right?" she said, a finger of hers raised in the air knowingly. Then she showed him this small box she was holding. "I got us something. Guess!"

"Err, sorry to get your hopes down, I can't guess." he said, and he watched a puzzled expression take over her face.

Before she could question him, he giggled, and said, "Because I can already smell. That, Lleine, is cake. I can deduce you've used the strawberries on this cake, 'coz the strong scent of the strawberries in your bag suddenly vanished."

"Oh, you're so smart!" she exclaimed in glee, putting down the box of cake on the ground, and sitting down as well.

"I'm not smart, Lleine--any creature, laguz or beorc, would just be able to smell that delicious cake." He got down and settled himself on the grass as well. "Where'd you get it?"

She tilts one head to the side, if only slightly, then says, "The cake? I went to a beorc home here in Gallia and asked to use their kitchen. Sir Mordecai accompanied me, by the way."

He just nods, and was about to speak something, when her eyes make their way to the item on his hands. "What's that, Ranulf?"

He was surprised she spied the item so quickly, but he just held it up to her. It was a scarf--pink in color, and made of a thick fabric. "Oh, this is for you. Since you're always getting cold and all that."

He offered it to her, and she graciously took them in her hands. "Oh! You are most kind, Ranulf..."

He arches an eyebrow, saying, "What did I say about the noble talk?"

She chuckles, and corrects herself, as the wraps the scarf around her neck. "I mean... Thank you, Ranulf."

"Psha, don't mention it..."

She just smiles, and then she coyly tucks some of her stray raven hair from her face to behind her ear.

"So, you made the cake?" He asks, opening the box of cake she brought with enthusiasm.

"Oh, yeah." She casually answered. "It's just--"

"Oh, wow!" he exclaims upon opening the cake box. It was a beautiful chocolate and strawberry cake... the cake was covered in dark chocolate and topped with strawberries... and of course it came with a pair of forks.

"I'm not sure if it tastes good--I had limited ingredients after all." She explained. "I'm used to baking at our house in Daien, and---"

"Just shut up and eat it!" he cuts her short, and she sees that he's already taken a bite of the cake. And he was holding out a bit of cake on a fork.

She smiles, and bites the cake off the fork he was holding.

"...Not half bad..." she muttered, after taking in the taste of her own creation.

And of course, he heard that, and he objected, "What are you saying? It tastes awesome! Delicious! Sweet!"

She giggles...

"Oh, Ranulf, look..."

She pointed to the sky.

A myriad of stars clouded the sky, beautifully lighting the night...

They both smile in fascination...

And he mutters, "Can anything get better than this?"

Apparently, it can get better.

He was, after all, in the perfect setting, with good cake, and with a cute beorc.

They were lying down on the grass, staring up at the sky, and occasionally eating the cake.

"It's really beautiful..." she whispers.

"Yup. And you, too."

She heard that.

She turns to him.

"Well, thank you, Ranulf."

He sighed, with a puzzled look, "Lleine, are you dense or what?"

She too, looked puzzled, "...What?"

"I like you." he blurted out.

"Oh." she said, "Well, I like you, too."

That nonchalant, all-too-innocent look was starting to get to him.

He couldn't understand what she meant by that.

But of course, since he was Ranulf, he just laughed.

And she laughed along with him.

"You're weird." He told her, as he got up to take another bite off the cake.

"In what manner?" she asks, as she too gets up and concentrates on the cake.

"You're different from most beorc." He explained. "You're too... pure. Too innocent."

He saw a scheming smile form slowly on her lips. "You think so?"

He shrugs. "That's the way I see it. But since you're a noble, and a beorc, I'd bet you have a whole different side to you."

"I'm innocent, but not helpless." she elaborated. "Generally, I think I'm just happy. You, too. You're always smiling."

"Ha ha!" he laughs. "Yeah. Whatever."

And strangely, she just nods. "Yeah... whatever."

When the cake was gone, both of them still weren't tired of staring at the skies...

"Hey, Ranulf?"

He found her lying right beside him, facing him, a hand of hers unmindfully placed on his chest. "Yeeeess?" he asks with a smirk.

"I want to live here in Gallia."

He smiles wider. "Why?"

"I'm free here." she said, like that explained everything.

"You've got responsibilities to your country, your prince, and your father." he pointed out.

"I want to run from them."

"And I won't help you with that." He grinned. "You can always visit Gallia, but you're tied to Daien, you know."

She sighs.

And all of a sudden he comes closer to her.

"Hey!" She backs off, for his proximity was getting too much for her tastes...

"Don't move." He solidly tells her, holding her by the shoulders.

"What are you--" she protested, but she didn't move as he told her.

And she feels his face close in on her neck, and...

He sniffs.

"Hmm... thought so." He said, after he backed away.

"...What was it?" she was puzzled--and moreover, she grew a little awkward of that event.

"Your smell." he explained. "It's hard to sniff out. At first I just followed the scent of the strawberries in your bag to find you... But I got it. Your scent, I mean."

"...Oh." she sighed a sigh of relief. "...So, what do I smell like?"

He looked at her with this grin, and said, "You smell like you. An innocent young girl."

Another "Oh" from her.

And he sensed the disappointed tone in her voice.

"...Did I say something wrong?"

"You said nothing that was not said to me before."

"Damn your way with words."--that one was a thought, but it came out loud. She seemed to ignore it, though. "Lleine, can you for once just be brutally honest?"

"But that was an honest reply." she reasoned.

"But it was a tricky reply!" he spoke, he felt like he was bargaining with her or something. "When you were sick the past few days, I felt you knew anything about me--I told you everything. But you... never said anything past you being sent here by Daien."

"Ah, so you think it unfair..." she concluded."But, Ranulf, I didn't ask to hear all those stuff. I liked hearing them, but it wasn't like I requested it."

He groaned loud, the groan coming close to a growl once again, as he said, "Oh, you don't get it at all, do you! You're so dense..."

"I might get it; I just fail to make assumptions."

"Didn't I say that I liked you? So, naturally, I'd like to know more about you, and you don't let me." He pouted.

She just blinked, and responded, "Didn't I say that I liked you, too?"

"What manner of like?" he pressed the question further. "Like-like or like-love or what?"

Casually, she answered, "Like. You know, if you keep thinking stuff out of nowhere, you're just gonna get a headache. You should just enjoy what's happening now, Ranulf."

"Yeah, right." he said, sarcastically.

"After all, the stars are nice, and this is just once a year." she turned her attention back to the skies, and she smiled.

That accursed cute smile...

But thanks to it, he was suddenly feeling better again.

------------

Darn it.

I ruined it.

I think I'm falling for a beorc.

...I didn't know it was possible.

I kept teasing Lethe with Soren for the sheer fun of it, not knowing or even finding out if she ever had feelings for the beorc--or Branded, I mean.

I didn't even consider the thought that it could actually happen...

And that it might happen to me.

And it was the last thing I wanted to happen to me.

But there was no way in Tellius that I was ridding myself of Lleine.

After all, I should just enjoy what's happening now!

"Darn, no beorc has done this to me before..."--Ranulf! That one came out loud!

"Huh?" Lleine turned to me, a puzzled look dawning her porcelain features once again.

"Nothing." I lied. Ha ha! "Just me talking to myself."

"Oh." She then grinned, "Well, you'd better not do that often lest you want me to think you're out of your mind or something."

I laughed. Hah! She had a point there!

"What are you thinking?" she asked me.

"What are you thinking?" I turned the question back at her.

"Lots of stuff." She answered like she always does--as short as possible.

"You always answer incomplete answers." I told her. Perhaps she hasn't realized that fact. "Your answers make way for more questions--are you really like that?"

"Perhaps."

...I thought so.

"No beorc has puzzled me like this before, you know?" I told her. Well, I just felt like telling.

"If you don't want to be puzzled, you shouldn't bother with me. I've learned that you Gallians are generally nice, so I can do my research on my own, thank you."

"As if the king would let me do that. I can't leave you."

Ranulf... is this really about the king's orders or entirely something else?

I saw her fingers hold onto that pick scarf I gave her, and she just said,

"Well, that's good..."

Yeah, whatever it was, so long as I can see you smile like that... it's all good...

------------

They had an agreement.

It was the type that was unspoken, unwritten, unexpressed in any manner--but clearly felt.

A mutual agreement…

A mutual understanding…

"Alright, guys!" Ranulf called on the attention of his unit--he and Lleine were inside the barracks, along with about twenty of his male Gallian warriors. "This cute little beorc girl here is Lleine, she is an envoy from Daien and--"

"Wasn't Daien our enemy?" a warrior immediately asked.

He was about to answer for her, but she replied faster than he could, "That is true--Daien and Gallia were once enemies. But soon, Daien will have a new ruler, and this man aspires for good relations between laguz and beorc."

A chorus of "...Oh..." in the barracks.

She sighed. "Well, I know you couldn't care less about alliances, and you all think it's impossible to work out... but if we all compromise, there might be a way. Right, General Ranulf?"

She turned to him, eyed him, and he just said, "Yeah. Sure. I guess so."

She raised an eyebrow, and put a hand on her hip. "What's with the 'I guess so'? That wasn't necessary at all!"

"Well..." he hated to be doing this, but he just had to reason with her. "It is possible, but it'll be difficult. Besides... though I may like some beorc, laguz are still different. They're my brothers..."

"And so you don't trust me?"

"I do, but...!"

"Oh, don't worry, Ranulf. No offense taken." She snapped, arms crossed in front of her chest. "I don't trust you as well."

"Hey!"

For a brief moment there, Ranulf's subordinates giggled.

"What?" He turned to his units, quite a frustrated look on his face.

(They've never seen their usually calm and collected general like this!)

A chorus of, "Nothing, general..."

"After all," she spoke, her irritating nonchalant voice ringing in the air, "Laguz are filthy, hairy, sub-hu---"

Her next words words were halted by his hands covering her mouth. "Stupid! You want to get clawed to death or something?!"

She bit his hand.

"Ouch!" Ranulf yelped. His soldiers chuckled some more--they were clearly humored by the way their general was acting.

"You don't trust me. There's no point in being here, considering I've given my life in your care and all that!" She argued.

"Hey, Lleine, calm down--"

She held a hand up to his face, which he knew meant one big, "Shut up."

And she walked out.

"Darn it!" he cursed, and he pouted, "If you weren't such a cute little beorc, I'd have---Rrrr!"

And he followed her.

His units in the barracks now started laughing out loud.

For some odd reason, they can find that they did trust the female beorc--if only little--and they could notice their general (who was usually carefree and all that) had a little something with the beorc...

Ha ha ha!

------------

He didn't trust me. He didn't trust me. What a liar. I mean, everything was this lie.

No, I wasn't overacting. I was just... acting, maybe? Sometimes, I just like to irk Ranulf. I don't know. Maybe it's from the noble blood in my veins. Nobles like to irk people up to feel special! (Yes, they do that!)

"Oh!" I was about to continue running, but I saw him in front of me already. Oh-kay. There was no outrunning a laguz. And a cat laguz, by the way.

He hit me lightly on the head again. "Stupid little beorc! I know I'm starting to sound like Lethe here, but you really are. Ah, don't make reasons for me to hate beorc, Lleine. What you did not only--"

"Oh, just shut up!" I said, but with laughter. "Ranulf, you're just so cute!"

He blinked at me.

Ha ha! That is soooo cute!

"I wish I had a cat!" I blurted out, giggling. "Oh, Ranulf! Be a little kitty for me, pleeeease?"

He blinked again. "Lleine, I'm an adult cat. And a huge cat at that. I can't be a kitty."

"Aww..." I must've sobbed some. "You know, I should put you on a leash! And then bring you back with me to Daien and--"

"Enough with the creative ideas." He said, well... I was being serious! "I don't like having something tied to my neck."

Aww, I think I angered him...

"Ranulf... I was kidding, alright? Or being sarcastic. Or something in between." I explained. "Don't be mad anymore..."

He blinked again. "I'm not mad."

I could just discern what he was doing. He was using my tried-and-tested tactics against me. I musn't play right into his game. I must not...

"I'm not mad." He unexpectedly said, and he put a hand on my head, and patted it.

For some reason, I felt like saying, "Meow."

He chuckled. I liked hearing him laugh again.

"Are you a cat?" He asked.

"Nope! But I loooove cats."

I clung onto his arm. He didn't protest.

"C'mon, I'll show you around some more."

And as we walked, he hand expertly found its way into mine, and he held me.

...Sly cat...

---------

(A month after)

There was no explaining the slight shock Soren felt when he saw the subordinate with the cat laguz that day.

He saw it. He saw it. It was too late to cover it up.

His subordinate Lleine holding hands with the Gallian general Ranulf while walking in the castle--only for them to pull their hands apart upon seeing the Daien prince.

"Lleine." Soren spoke, tone monotonous and serious as usual.

"...Prince Soren. I'm glad you came to visit Gallia as well." Lleine greeted her lord, being a professional noble, as always.

Glancing at Ranulf, Soren just says, "I'll just pretend I didn't see that... whatever it was. Not that it was bad."

---------------

It's been about a month...

I've stayed in Gallia for about a month, coming to understand the nature of Gallia's denizens of laguz... coming to understand their similarities and differences to us humans... and coming to quite a... healthy... and scandalous... relationship with one of them.

Ranulf is a Gallian general, after all... hearing his subordinates mutter about him and me is just... annoying. King Gallia, being the kind man I think him to be, doesn't care two figs for this--and I'm quite glad of that. I understand how a relationship between a laguz and a beorc is still a taboo... but... can't we just... be away from criticizing eyes even for a short while?

If my father in Daien ever heard of this, I am dead.

Not to mention Prince Soren has visited Gallia without notice, and in the process... seeing me holding hands with Ranulf...

Ah! Prince Soren is kind, but sometimes he's just...

"Lleine, fear not, I'm not telling your father." He whispers to me, as we were walking to King Gallia's throne room, Ranulf not far behind me and the prince.

"Prince Soren, you are most kind..."

"But I'm quite bothered with your choice of man." he said, just right before entering into the doors of King Gallia's throne room, and vanishing into shut doors.

What did he mean by that?!

"What did he say, Lleine?" Ranulf asked me, in his casual manner--as usual. He's almost always calm--I loved that about him.

"Something about not telling my father, and then something about being bothered about my choice of man." I replied honestly, with a shrug.

"He's got a problem with me?" Ranulf looked a little frustrated. I heard him mutter, "...High-strung little prince..."

"Well, I hope his words have nothing to do about past arguments between you two."

"Well..." he thoughtfully looked up to the ceiling, "I did call him names, but not in front of him... I heard he's had quite a bit of... friction with Lethe as well..."

"Friction, meaning?"

"Tense arguments that people who don't realize they're in-love with each other tend to have..." he suggested, and he shrugged. "It's just too good to be true to think of Soren as... Prince Soren. I wonder how he'll rule Daien."

When I offered no answer to him, he suddenly asked, "Hey, Lleine! I've never asked you, but is Soren your brother or something?"

I took a deep breath, and told him, "Prince Soren is... supposedly my fiance."

All he did was raise a quizzical eyebrow.

"Soren is your boyfriend?"

"...I was just joking, Ranulf."

"Hah." He laughed, sarcastically--if laughing sarcastically was possible. "I can imagine Soren falling for you--with your evil charms, but I can't imagine myself giving you up so easily, no can do."

"Possessive. I am loyal to my prince like you are loyal to your king." I told him.

"Yes!" He quite proudly announced, walking behind me and putting a protective arm around my mid-section. "I don't doubt you being loyal to your lord, but I am a guy and my king is a guy, and you are a girl and your prince is a... guy. I can't help but feel all... itchy, thinking you serve him with such loyalty."

"Oh, cut it out!" I told him, and I giggled. "Forget about it, okay?"

"Yes, yes I will..."

Later that evening, when the Prince Soren's meeting with King Caineghis was over, Ranulf and I were walking him back to his wyvern... when he said something... unexpected.

"Lleine. You are required to report to Daien immediately." He sternly told me.

Oh. "Can't I report to you now, my lord?"

"Well, the matter is... your father fell ill. And he died."

"What...?" I managed to ask him in my state of shock.

"Lleine, you are to replace him as head of your noble house. You are his only child, after all. And more importantly than that, you have to attend his funeral... truthfully, I am here to tell you that, aside from the few words with King Gallia."

"Then, I would... I would leave Gallia, right?"

I didn't have to ask. The answer was quite obvious.

"Yes. You will be a member of the Senate, too, as law dictates."

"Oh... Am I not too young?"

"There is no rule that states that you are too young."

"What if I want to stay here longer, Prince Soren?"

To that, he stopped walking, and gave a sharp glare to both me and Ranulf, saying, "Lleine, didn't the gravity of my words hit you? Your father is DEAD! Surely you understand that his subordinates are in chaos. And surely a part of you mourns. You have to be in Daien. I believe your month here was enough. You have to fix things at home first. Unless that cat wants to go with you..."

"...You're just like this because things didn't work between you and Lethe." --That was Ranulf.

"Silence, sub--laguz." Prince Soren said. I believe he was tempted to use the 's-h' word.

I heard a low growl from Ranulf.

"I'll be by my wyvern." Prince Soren said, before vanishing from view.

For some reason, my decision was pre-made... or something.

"Good-bye, Ranulf..."

He was about to say something, but I ran off... Just like that.

----------

"I'd like to believe you had fun." Soren told the girl, as they were already in the air, settled on his wyvern.

"...I guess I did." she said, but she sounded unsure of her answer. She was looking back at Gallia...

"Laguz are quite perplexing, aren't they?"

"I believe they think of us beorc in the same manner."

She held onto his shoulders, "...Prince Soren?"

"Yes, Lleine?"

"...About you and Lethe..."

"You will speak none of it."

She rests her head on his shoulders, and sighs. "Actually, I'm quite depressed..."

"Why?"

"My father... well, though he wasn't my real father, but he... he was kind. And Ranulf... he was kind to me as well."

"Such a relationship is hard to work out. I apologize for running into the scene... but uncle was worried. Worried that the only special girl in his life is alone in Gallia..."

"Soren." she calls his attention.

"Yes?"

"What if... I loved Ranulf?"

"Love in such short time is highly impossible."

"Yet..."

"I know how you feel... but Lleine, just take it slowly. You will live for long. After all, you and I are the same..."

"I understand."

"You can return to Gallia someday... someday..."

"Yes... yes, Soren..."

And she falls asleep, leaning on him.

"Really, Lleine. Your ability to sleep at any given time..."

END

A/N: Bad ending, because my bro was bugging me to finish it. T.T

I want Lleine to end up with Ranulf!!

I don't know if I'll make a part 2--the ending leaves too many mysteries open...

Possible explanations: Lleine is Branded, like Soren. Lleine is the girlfriend of Kurth. Lleine and Soren are cousins? Whatever. I don't understand what's going on myself.! o.O Anyways, poll's up for a better ending. And spare me the harshness, this is my first fic and I've not played FEPoR (gasp!) or FERadiant Dawn (double gasp!)

Ranulf: Wait!! What happened to me?!

Author: Obviously, Ranulf, the yaoi fics continued and you continued to be portrayed in other fics as gay.

Ranulf: NOOOOO!!! Give me back my Lleine!!