I do not know when my heart changed. However, I do know that slowly, my life as a retainer meant less and less to me, and my feelings for her only continued to grow, spreading to every pore in my body until I almost felt as if it was not my own.
My duty- my servitude to House Caelin- still meant a great deal to me, but the more time that passed, the more I found myself realizing that serving Lady Lyndis as a knight was not what made me happy.
For a long time, I tried to hold back my feelings, but they had already taken root; every time I saw her, whether it was when she was talking and laughing in the gardens with Florina, or staring out towards the direction of Sacae from the top of a hill looking so very lost and unlike herself, those feelings grew.
Almost before I knew what was happening, I was thinking of no other, dreaming of no other, longing for no other. If I lost sight of her on the battlefield, if I looked over and did not see her standing close by, my heart would pound in anxiousness until I could lay my eyes upon her again, until I could see for myself that she was fine.
On the long, otherwise-uneventful ride home to Caelin after Nergal's defeat, it occurred to me why it did not make me happy to serve at Lady Lyndis's side. For so long, my happiness had been to serve others, but that day—the one that I am thankful for every morning when I wake up—I realized that I wanted to serve her no longer. I watched her scold Sain as Florina ducked behind her, blushing profusely, and it was at that moment I understood what I had been missing, what I had wanted for so long and had not taken the initiative to grasp hold of.
It was her, all her. Lady Lyndis, Lyndis, Lyn… her name mattered not in the few seconds it took me to process the information. Titles meant nothing to me at that moment.
Perhaps I had been wrong where duty was concerned. I did owe an almost blind loyalty to my liege, certainly…but where along the line had I forgotten about myself? When had I decided that my own happiness did not matter in the least? Maybe Sain had been right when he told me that one owed not only unquestioning loyalty to their liege and lady, but also to themselves, to their own heart. I can remember scoffing at it, once, but as I watched her, his words rang true to me.
She looked up, her eyes meeting mine, and when she gave me that half-sheepish smile of hers that makes my stomach twist into knots to this very day, I knew that I could never again be with her as a knight.
I had to stand at her side as a man.
So I smiled back.
I don't have much to say. I pretty much wrote this at work over two days at lunch. When I typed it, I tweaked it a bit, changed the wording of the ending, et cetera. I'm pretty happy with the results. 501 words is one of the shortest 'fics I've written in awhile, so that's good. (Also, first-person point of view...again? Sorry.)
Anyway, thanks for reading! Feedback is always appreciated.