title: arrows bent

fandom: Fire Emlem 8 / Seima no kouseki

rating: pg-13

A/N: Ephraim/Innes from an earlier request meme. (request being "much seduction of poor Innes")

I like this for some reason, whether Seima nostalgia or simple like of the pair.

It threatened to turn into smut, which I'd happily write, but I figured more pacing would be needed -- otherwise it'd be rushed.

I might continue it someday, or turn it into a ficverse, as this fandom/pairing really needs more love.

There's apparently far less E/I than I thought there was. Woe.

Innes had merely wanted a moment alone. He took to practicing during these times, a makeshift target shoved between the twisting limbs of a tree. There was little worry of being ambushed here, the only monsters in this area were the pathetic variety that even a housewife could take down with a frying pan. Innes probably could even beat these creatures by hitting them with his bow, though he wouldn't want to risk destroying it to find out.

He needed no practice for archery, but it was soothing. Taking the curved bow in his hands and letting arrow after arrow fly until it felt like his fingers would bleed. There was a calm in listening to the thwush of each arrow soaring through the air, of each one hitting the designated spot on the target without fail.

He only took a limited supply with him, and after his quiver was emptied, he moved towards the tree to pull them back out again. While they couldn't be used for battle, he could use them for more practice or even firewood, as much as the thought pained him.

War brought on shortages, and as the future ruler he'd have to limit himself even in the most minute ways.

He pulled them out of the light, painted corkwood and had almost finished when he spied something through the limbs – or to be more precise someone...

Ephraim was completely nude, his back turned as he lathered himself in the small, clear pond. Broad shoulders and muscle moved rhythmically as he washed himself in a way that seemed too thorough to Innes' eyes.

Innes frowned. Ephraim was always freer nudity than himself, but he hardly expected Ephraim to take to bathing in swimming holes like a common peasant. Even as the sight was somewhat fascinating (perhaps he could learn something yet about his rival) Innes wrenched his gaze away. His skin already felt somewhat overheated, he blamed it on the season.

He turned, meaning very well to leave Ephraim to his own callous ways when he heard a chuckle and Ephraim's husky voice.

"Ah, there you are. Come on in, Innes. The water's fine," he said.

Innes scowled. He was used to Ephraim's callous ways – everything from being late to visits from tramping out in the wilderness with his knights to coming in with leaves still in his hair and his cravat done up in the most clumsy and careless of manner. This, however was an entirely new low.

His eyes narrowed in what he reminded himself was jealousy. Innes' own training resulted in a streamlined body, muscled but not too much so. Ephraim however, as per usual had taken it a step further beyond gentlemanly decorum. Not too much in excess, but enough to be somewhat

"I didn't think you'd be afraid of water, Innes. Or is a little cold water too much for your delicate skin?" Ephraim teased.

Innes huffed and set aside his implements. He pulled his tunic over his head and stared defiantly at Ephraim. The bastard didn't even have the sensibility to turn away

"Apparently you forget our swimming match three years ago during the winter," Innes said.

"You beat me, but it was close."

Innes took off his boots and finished on his leggings and finally, his last underthings. He was just as nude as his rival now, and he glared back to Ephraim's determined gaze.

"I wouldn't dive if I were you, it's shallow," Ephraim said.

"Tch," Innes said.

Even as he was tempted to dive in just to spite Ephraim, Innes was hardly stupid. He wasn't going to risk breaking his neck just to make a point.

The water was cold, especially for the warmness of the season, but Innes had felt far worse and thus ignored it. Innes tried not to think of whatever could be in the mud below, it squished beneath his toes in a sickening manner and while he found it disgusting, he wasn't about to let Ephraim know that.

Ephraim had already washed yet he lingered about, making idle comments.

"Want me to wash your back?"

Before he could refuse, Ephraim closed the distance and put his calloused hands on his shoulder blades. He gripped them for a moment, and then removed them, only to start lower, massaging his way up. Even with gloves, Ephraim's hands were rough and yet it proved a tactile sensation to his skin; the soap and the feeling, the touch almost lulled him into relaxing.


Despite the cool water, Innes felt his skin heating, flushing despite his resolve at composure. He tensed as Ephraim's touches took a sudden, more sensual turn.

"What's wrong, Innes?"

He could feel Ephraim's breath against his skin, ghosting over the back of his neck. It felt all too pleasant, left him wanting more.

"Nothing," he spat out.

Innes broke away from Ephraim's touch.

"Enough. I'm finished," Innes said.

Innes gathered his things – he'd change in some place where he knew that Ephraim's eyes weren't watching him.

He'd be damned if he'd let his rival see him blushing.

The water had lost its appeal without Innes there. Ephraim dried himself off and collected his things. He'd have to chalk it up as another failure.

Ephraim sighed.

"I'll win one of these days, Innes."