All That Lies Between
Dedication: To the KentxLyn Circle, consisting of myself, and:
Sardonic Kender Smile
Time—as in too much of it—could be a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. Kent had known this for most of his life; Sain had proved it to him over and over again, after all. Somewhere along the line, he had begun thinking that problems beginning with idleness were Sain-exclusive.
But sitting in—of all places—a tavern, with three mugs of ale already in him…he was beginning to wonder if maybe he had been wrong. All things considered, he was feeling pretty good. Kent wasn't usually the drinking type. On occasion he'd have a couple of drinks, but getting drunk had never appealed to him at all.
No, he was a man who liked to remain in control of his thoughts and his actions, thank you very much.
Currently, the rag-tag group of people who had banded together—they couldn't technically be considered an army, after all—were stationed in Bern, awaiting news from Lord Pent and Lady Louise. They had been waiting all day, and when it had gotten rather late in the evening, Lord Hector and several other men from the group had decided to go for a night on the town.
Kent hadn't wanted to go, of course. Lady Lyndis was staying in the camp with most of the other women, and he didn't feel comfortable leaving the women alone, particularly the one he was sworn to protect. A few of the men had stayed behind, but most of them had gone with Hector, were busy training away from the camp, or were out attempting to gather information.
He stared down into his fourth mug of ale and sighed. Honestly, he would have found their situation to be much safer if they had secured rooms in an inn. But would Lady Lyndis really be safer, there? He never did figure out the answer to that question; a hard slap on his back startled him and made him look over to his left.
"Kent! Stop being such a straight stick! You're the only one here who isn't having fun!" Hector was having a great time, most likely because he was not under the watchful eye of Sir Oswin.
"Of course, Lord Hector." He forced himself to smile just the smallest bit and took a long drink of his ale. Really, he would rather be back at camp with the others…
"Go ahead and go, Kent."
He hadn't been planned on going, but Lyndis had overheard the invitation, and…
He sighed again, remembering her words, "You never get the chance to have fun. It might help you relax a little. It's only one night, you know." And with that, she had flashed him a pretty smile—not that all of her smiles weren't, it was just that that particular one was especially pretty—and patted his back reassuringly, nudging him in the direction of the others.
He'd do anything for her. After all, how bad could it be?
"Kent! Aren't you glad you listened to Lady Lyndis?" Sain sidled up behind him and leaned on his shoulder.
"Yeah, Sir Kent!" Wil nodded energetically from his other side and set another drink in front of him. "That one's on me. It's been a long time since I've had the chance to just relax!"
"It's nice, isn't it?"
Kent nodded half-heartedly, thinking about all of the things that could be going wrong while he was away. The fact that he was apparently still functioning seemed to satisfy the two men, though, and they went on their own way after a relatively short amount of time had passed. Maybe… maybe he could sneak away…
But he only just started to stand before Lord Hector and Lord Eliwood turned to stare at him. "You're leaving already?" Eliwood asked, probably still on his first drink, judging by the way he spoke.
"You'll do no such thing! It's a shame Lyn can't be here, but she entrusted you to Eliwood and myself… We promised her we'd help you relax. So drink up! And stop fretting. Everything is fine. What kind of man would I be if I didn't get some drinks in you?" The broad-shouldered man shrugged and grinned before taking a swig of his own drink. "Phew! Man, I wish Lyn was here," he declared, turning toward his longtime friend as he laughed wholeheartedly. "I'd ask her if she can hold her alcohol as well as she can fight!"
Kent was almost aghast at the idea of his lady liege drinking in a-a tavern! He fell back into his seat to wait for another opportunity to escape Hector's notice. It would be discourteous to refuse a drink from Wil, anyway…
Lyndis, in a bar! Drinking alcohol! The image wouldn't leave his mind, and a shudder worked its way down his spine. No, no, no, that was a horrible thought! Too many men didn't know how to behave themselves in bars…
In reality, he knew that Lyndis had been in plenty of taverns. Information could be easily obtained when a man's tongue was loosened by alcohol. But still…he couldn't say he approved of it. After all, Lady Lyndis was a woman, and taverns had the tendency to house all sorts of men of ill repute.
So consumed was he in his thoughts that he scarcely noticed he had downed most of the drink Wil had thought to buy him.
The only thing worse than letting his lady liege step into a bar would be letting her drink in one. He shook his head and sighed, nodding at the barkeeper as the other man thought to fil his glass again. No, Lady Lyndis shouldn't ever let something like ale touch her lips. It would be a disaster, he thought to himself as he sipped at his drink. She probably has absolutely no tolerance for alcohol of any kind…
There were always women in taverns, but they were not royalty, and they seemed to have no qualms about being touched inappropriately by men who were just as drunk as they were. He doubted that Lyn would be un-offended, though; she would likely start a fight.
Even though he admired and respected her for her strength—both in spirit and in body—he didn't want her to have to fight. It was his job, after all…no, it was…more than his job, wasn't it?
It was something he wanted to do if it meant doing it for her.
He sighed, looking down into his glass.
Gone, already? With that, he stood up. Hector turned to him and opened his mouth as if to speak, but Kent spoke first, "I'll be heading back now, Lord…Hector."
Hector grinned and nodded, his expression contorting strangely to Kent's eyes. "When you get back, do me a favor and tell stuffy old Oswin that I'll be back shortly."
Kent nodded in agreement and fumbled his way from the bar toward the exit. He was almost there, almost free when a loud voice boomed in his ear.
He winced but stopped in his tracks, turning to acknowledge his former commander. "Sir Wallace."
"What are you doing, m'boy?" The great big man patted the chair at the table next to him. "Come on, sit down an' have a drink with ol' Wallace!"
Kent really didn't want to. Hadn't he had more than enough? Mentally, he tried to count how many drinks he had already had, but he couldn't quite come up with a number. He hardly realized he was taking the offered seat before his backside met the rough wood of the chair.
"Good, good." Then, following a bellowing laugh, "A drink for the lad, please!"
Kent tried shaking his head. "I'm fine, Sir Wallace."
But Wallace stared at him. "Nonsense! You've hardly been here even five minutes!" In all actuality, he had been there well over an hour, but Wallace either didn't know or didn't care; maybe both, he thought absentmindedly.
Then the drink arrived and he tried one more time to protest, "I've really had enou—"
"You'll be fine! Drink up! And tell me all about when Laus invaded Caelin! I'm sorry to say I missed it…"
Kent's face was flushed, mostly in embarrassment. "I-I regret to say that we were completely unprepared for the attack, Sir Wallace…"
Well, maybe it wouldn't hurt to drink what Wallace had offered him. After all, the older man was experienced in the ways of war, in fighting… He was considered a hero to many people of Caelin; Kent was certainly no exception. And maybe if he had his mug to his lips, he wouldn't have to speak about Caelin's embarrassing defeat by Laus. Of course, they had taken the castle back again in short order—if one could call the time it took to seize it again short—but the entire thing still didn't settle right in his stomach.
He still felt guilty about it. After all, Caelin's own Knight Commander failing to not only see it coming, but failing to save his men? How many men had died, had suffered at the hands of the enemy? He took a long drink while he waited for Wallace to reply.
"Of course you were unprepared, boy! Even though Darin has always been a wretched man, he never seemed to act as if Caelin would be of any importance to him! And it still isn't! Your job, above all else, is to keep your liege safe." The large man flashed him a wide, toothy grin, "I've seen Lady Lyndis myself; she looks even better than when I first saw her! Seein' as how Lord Hausen is still alive, I'd say Caelin did mighty fine for itself…considering I wasn't there, of course." Wallace cut loose with another laugh and took a swallow of his ale.
Kent swallowed. He and the others had shamelessly fled with only Lady Lyndis, leaving Lord Hausen behind.
It had been on his order, of course. He remembered practically dragging Lady Lyndis from the castle. She hadn't wanted to leave.
Neither had he.
Even after all the time that had passed since that day, he felt terribly guilty about leaving Lord Hausen—still sick and weak from the poisoning incident a whole year earlier—behind. His fingers tapped the edge of his mug thoughtfully. He had had to make that decision, though…the decision to leave his lord behind. The elderly man was already weak and sick, would slow them all down—though it made Kent feel downright evil for thinking such a thing—and when it all boiled down to it…Lyndis was the heir to throne, still young and capable, and she had, in that moment, taken precedence over her grandfather. What he was ashamed to admit, even to himself, was that he had allowed his emotions to leak into that decision to take Lady Lyndis and leave Lord Hausen behind.
But Kent only nodded at his former commander, feeling uneasy about their discussion. "We, ah…" His tongue felt strangely thick, and everything seemed to be…different, strange. Maybe everything was happening too fast. "No harm befell—"
But before he could continue, fate decided to intervene in the form of his own lady of Caelin.
Lyndis put her hand on Kent's arm, interrupting the poor man and causing him to almost jump as he turned his head to blink confusedly at her.
"L-Lady Lyndis," he stammered out, bringing his drink to his lips as his eyes flickered down toward the tabletop.
"Lady Lyndis!" Wallace grinned at her and waved. "I see you have joined us here!"
She smiled a little and squeezed the hand that was still resting on Kent's arm. It felt strange to be in his presence without his armor on… It wasn't as if she had never seen him without it, because she had, many times, but…
It was just unusual, especially in the daytime.
"Good evening Sir Wallace. I just came to steal Kent. If…that's okay with you." She smiled again, and Wallace nodded eagerly.
"Lyn!" a voice shouted above the din. She turned and saw Hector waving at her. "Do you drink as well as you fight?!"
"I could drink you under the table anytime, you blasted oaf!" she shouted back, annoyed, though not angry. She turned back to Kent and Wallace as the older of the two men spoke up.
"Of course, Lady Lyndis, of course!" He made a shooing motion, and Lyn felt Kent shift beneath her fingers as he moved to stand, downing the very last little bit of his drink as he did so.
Truth be told, she was surprised that anybody had actually gotten him to drink; leave it to General Wallace, though. She could tell from the start that her redheaded knight looked up to the older man immensely.
Once outside and away from the noise and chaos that one usually found in taverns, Lyndis moved closer to him and took his arm with both of her hands. "Usually you try to wriggle your way out of situations like that… I thought you would have escaped much sooner."
He shrugged a little and stared at the ground just in front of him as if it was absolutely amazing. He seemed slightly unsteady on his feet, so she held him that much tighter. Really, it wouldn't do for him to fall.
"When you weren't back after an hour, I decided to come looking for you."
"Thank you, milady."
His words weren't quite right…they were almost… Well, they weren't spoken as stiffly as they usually were. After a few moments thinking on it, she finally reached a conclusion, "I see they got you to drink."
She was rewarded with the tips of his ears turning red, but he said nothing on the subject, and she decided to let it drop. It was too nice of a day to dwell on anything negative.
She watched him chew his lower lip thoughtfully as they walked; he was concerned about something…probably something unnecessary. He always had spent a lot of time thinking. It was actually kind of cute in its own way—at least she knew that what he said or did was in no way completely spontaneous…
When she stopped walking, he stopped too, though it took him a few moments to register the fact that they were not moving.
She hugged him a little tighter, to his quiet discomfort. She knew it bothered him a little bit, but unlike normal, he didn't try to methodically detach her from him by saying it was improper, and milady, I, this…I…
No, he was strangely calm about the whole thing, all things considered. Maybe it was because he had a few drinks in him, but he was accepting her closeness without batting an eyelash. What harm could it do to make their trip back to camp take a little longer?
"Let's go through here," she murmured, tugging him in the direction of an orchard that stretched alongside the road. It had its own small path, and seeing as how her favorite knight had not protested, they were soon walking down it, her watching the way he carefully set one foot in front of the other, as if he was afraid he would fall.
And maybe he was. That last drink of his was perhaps only beginning to take effect. She wrapped one of her arms around his back, and his steps became less thought-out and preplanned.
He was still thinking, and the way that his forehead was crinkled in concentration had her just the smallest bit worried. Kent had the tendency to worry about a lot of things… And then, randomly, the stress would cause him to explode in what Sain liked to call a panic attack.
She still wasn't sure if it was really a panic attack or not, though it certainly could be considered as such.
Suddenly, his eyes widened as if coming to some sort of realization, and he clumsily spun out of her arms and took both of her hands in his. He looked anxious, nervous, even scared, in a sense.
Lyn was nothing short of confused. "What is it, Kent? What's the matter?"
He said nothing for a good, long minute before he fell to his knees—literally, he just dropped to the grass—and held the backs of her hands to his forehead, his face turned toward the patch of clover between them. "I… Lady Lyndis…"
"Y-Yes?" Her heart was pounding in her chest a mile a minute. Half of her expected some kind of romantic confession from him—but that was probably just wishful thinking on her part, though really, why else would he act so anxious?—and the other half of her had absolutely no idea what he was about to say.
It all came out of his mouth in a rush so fast it nearly made her head spin, and she had to ask him to repeat it. He trembled slightly but obliged her despite his obvious nervousness, "I beg your forgiveness for my failures when…" He swallowed thickly, "When Laus attacked Caelin."
Puzzled, Lyn crouched down and looked at his face. "Kent, you've apologized for that before… Many times."
"I-I know, bu'…"
Something was troubling him that he hadn't mentioned before. The thought struck her forcefully, and she stayed where she was. He wouldn't even look at her. "Kent? What is it?"
He kissed the backs of her hands slowly before clutching them to his face; she ignored the fact that he had never been so messy about kissing her hands before. "When I gave th' order to leave Lord Hausen b'hind, milady, I…"
She waited patiently. Kent had never had an easy time talking to anybody, and she had not been much of an exception, unfortunately. No matter how hard she tried to poke and pry at the edges of his mental shell, she seemed to have only chipped away a little bit. The one man in the group that she desperately wanted to get to know was not used to confiding in anyone. Just her luck.
But she hadn't given up, of course. Lyndis never gave up; if there was something she wanted, she would work hard to get it.
She wanted the man kneeling right in front of her.
That meant encouraging him in every way to confide in her. If he had something to say—alcohol-induced or not—she wanted to listen!
Kent took a deep, shuddering breath and continued, "I did so b'cause—"
"B-Because all I cared about, in that instant, was making sure you—" his thumb stroked the back of her hand, "—got out safely."
She was shocked into silence. "But…"
"It's true, mil'dy… When I gave that order, I didn't th'nk that…that he would slow us down so much as I th'ught that it would take too long to get—"
She squeezed his hands gently, "You got me out," she said. "That was what was mos—"
"A knight's duty is to h's liege, m'lady…"
"Of which I am," she countered softly.
"But you are not the ruler of Caelin."
She licked her lips and sighed. "No, I'm not. But I was with you when—"
Her green eyes locked with his, then, suddenly, as he flicked them up to her; they were dark with anxious stress, "Only because I went to you first, milady!"
She didn't know what to say. What he was admitting was… "I…"
Not only had he come to her first, he had left the knights under his command to do so. But then, something struck her.
"You were not the only one to do so."
He lowered his gaze, "'Tis no excuse m'lady."
"Well, I forgive you." Her temper was starting to flare at his attitude. She would never suggest that he drink again if doing so would only make him harder on himself…
Or, she wondered absently, is he always this hard on himself and he simply chooses to keep it to himself?
A troubling thought, to be sure.
"I… Thank you, milady…" He seemed to weigh it in his mind, but after a few seconds he decided to look at her, his brown eyes expressing extreme relief.
She smiled at him, hoping it would make him feel less guilty. "Even though I fought you to stay in the castle, Kent, I was glad that you wouldn't let me stay."
If she had stayed, she knew that she would most likely have been killed.
And that was what Kent had been afraid of.
His response was to kiss her hands again, this time, though, her palms. Her fingers twitched reflexively at the motion, and she blinked, staring at him curiously. It had to be the alcohol, she thought. He would never be so bold otherwise. But if he did take the initiative, she told herself, he would be much…crisper? More formal?
A part of her was the smallest bit worried about his rather drastic—well, it seemed drastic—change in behavior, but the rest of her was absolutely delighted that he wasn't blushing and stuttering, saying how improper it was for them to be alone together.
She sighed a little and gave him a smile. "Shall we head back to camp, then?"
He seemed to agree, standing up abruptly and bringing her part of the way with him. But then she noticed that his eyes seemed to lose their focus on his surroundings, and then they were both falling.
They hit the soft grass, and she was knocked nearly breathless as he landed on her. One of his arms had gone around behind her back to keep her from landing too hard, but his weight, all of it at once, was a little too much, and she blinked in shock, her mouth opening as she tried to suck in air.
When she got her breath back, she laughed shortly, mostly out of nervousness. This had never happened to her before, not really…at least, Kent had never fallen on her. No, it was usually the other way around…she had tripped him up a few times before.
But those times were different. He had been in his armor, and at any rate, he had never been on her, leaning over her, his breath fanning over her face and neck. She felt her cheeks heat up as they had never done before, but she managed to stammer out a, "A-Are you okay?"
He stirred a little, raising his head to look at her. "L-Lady Lyndis, for…" He didn't finish his sentence.
Lyn knew how it was going to end, anyway. Kent always asked for forgiveness. But he had never fallen on her in such a fashion before. She was quite at a loss of words at the moment. Especially when he didn't do his customary apology.
So she watched him, watched his eyes as he looked down at her. Trying to ignore her traitorously thumping heart was a waste of energy, she decided after a mere second. His eyelids slowly slid partially closed and the hand behind her back slid out from under her; his fingertips brushed against her cheek for only a second.
"Milady," he whispered, his words sounding strangely coherent despite all of the signs that indicated he was far from it. "You are trembling."
It was true, she was. She exhaled, one long, shaking breath. Part of her was excited—he was so close, and he wasn't scrambling to get away, mumbling excuses about duty and impropriety—but the other part of her was uncertain.
This was so unlike him.
If he were quite himself, he'd have blushed madly and untangled himself and gotten more tangled and eventually she'd have stopped laughing enough to straighten out the whole mess, and his blush would be there for at least a full hour afterward because every time he saw her he would remember, which meant he'd never stop blushing because she would make it a point to continuously show up to check on him.
But this…this was Kent, and not Kent. She had no idea what he was going to do, because everything he would normally do he had not done in the full half-hour that had passed since they had left the tavern. It was thrilling, in a sense—the not knowing—but at the same time it almost…
It almost scared her.
She couldn't even form a reply, not really. Her mouth opened just slightly as she considered saying something—anything—but no words came out.
His head lowered, his nose brushing against hers; the sensation was foreign, though in no way unpleasant. He murmured her name as his lips pressed against hers, gentle, but absolutely unyielding.
At first—for just the smallest fraction of time—she let herself get lost in it. But then she realized—she remembered—that he wasn't, wasn't himself, and she felt horribly conflicted.
She…she loved him, and she had wanted him to kiss her for a long, long time. But this entire situation just wasn't right, and what would happen if she didn't say no to kissing? Would he want to go further? Would he listen to her if she told him no, then?
She tried to say his name to get his attention, but it was lost in his mouth, snapping her jaw closed before he could think to deepen the kiss. Her mind worked a mile a minute as she pulled her hands up and let them rest on his chest. His lips pulled away from hers for a split second as his teeth teased her lower lip, and she took that moment to push him as hard as she could.
It wasn't very effective, considering one of his hands were at the back of her neck and he was so heavy and nearly impossible to move. It only took a moment for her to speak his name, though, loud and sharp. "Kent!"
He stopped, blinking confusedly at her.
"No, Kent. No."
She wouldn't resort to pleading with him, not if he would listen to her otherwise. His hand slackened at her neck, and she gently removed it, pushing at his chest again so that she could sit up.
He got to his knees and scooted back away from her, his hands fisted in his lap, his eyes blinking furiously fast. Her breathing was quick, ragged, but so was his. She could only imagine that his heart was pounding against his ribcage in much the same manner, too, but she said nothing, merely smoothed down her long skirt that had ridden up her legs in the tangled fall.
His voice sounded so small, disbelieving. It made guilt clutch at her as she got the courage to look at him again. His mouth opened and closed several times, his teeth clicking slightly as he did so. He didn't manage to say a thing, though, and her heart only began to thud erratically at the sound of her name.
Lyndis. He always said, milady or my lady or, or just lady.
But twice now—twice!—he had spoken only her name. It made her want to go to him, but she couldn't. She couldn't make herself move from where she sat, the grass warm beneath her, her breathing slowly returning to some semblance of normal.
"Kent," she said evenly, just watching him, wondering what he would do. Wondering if this unpredictable side of him that only showed itself when he had had too much to drink would come back to her, or if he would stay where he was.
He took a shuddering breath and turned away from her so that she could not see his eyes. "I-I… L-L-Lady Lyndis…" And then he covered his face in his hands, bending forward as far as he could while still on his knees as a moan of what could only be described as despair escaped his throat.
"K-Kent…" It was whispered, so quietly that he had no chance of hearing it. Her throat immediately felt closed up as something grabbed at her heart, squeezing it. Despite…despite what had happened only a minute earlier…he…
He's still Kent.
She shuddered at the realization, at how much she had just learned about a man she had decided quite some time ago that she loved. Nothing about that had changed… She still loved him, still cared about him so much that it left her completely speechless, sometimes. But she hadn't known—hadn't realized—how much he cared about her.
"B-Because all I cared about, in that instant, was making sure you got out safely."
He had been drunk when he said it, but she knew it was the truth. When had he started to feel that way, she wondered? Her well-being and his duty were two separate things…but they were both top priority on his list.
It…it explained a lot of things. All of his suggestions, his insistence that no, he shouldn't spar against her, and no, she shouldn't spar against Lord Hector, and yes, she should sleep because he would take the third watch… It all made sense to her now. She had known he had been protecting her, but what she had not known was that it was more than because of his supposed sense of duty and worry that something would happen to her… He also did it because of the way he felt for her. The reason he was so determined to protect her was because…
She found herself smiling just the smallest bit as she got to her knees and made her way over to him. He was hardly making a sound—another very Kent-like thing, she thought, cringing slightly—but she knew that he was…
Terrified, anxious, horrified?
She reached out to touch him.
He jumped as if she had shoved a spear clear through him, and that hurt her heart just as much as the sounds of his distress.
Her fingers closed around his shirt, trailing down to his hands that were still covering his face. She threaded her fingers through his and gently pulled them away from his face. He kept his head lowered in shame.
She felt his anguish, then. Felt it on her fingers—Father Sky, they're wet—on his face. And she saw it, too, in the tears that he didn't even bother to try and hide before.
Her heart was pounding hard and fast; her chest it hurt as if someone had taken the flat end of an axe and swung it straight into her. She could hardly catch her breath.
M-Mother Earth, she thought frantically as she touched his face. I've never seen him cry, before. What do I do?
A part of her might have believed that he was incapable of crying, of shedding tears. But he was still human, still…flesh and blood, just like her. And Mother Earth had soaked up enough of her own tears that she knew, deep down, that just like her, he was capable of crying, too. But the entire time she had known him, he had only shown grief in his eyes. It was always his eyes.
She loved his eyes.
How blessed was she, she decided, to have someone who cared about her as much as he did? Not every man would have stopped so fast, so willingly. Not every man would feel such remorse for merely kissing her.
She didn't want him to kiss her when he was drunk… But it was just a kiss, only a kiss.
Her first kiss.
But at least it belonged to him.
And she doubted it would be her only kiss.
After all, it hadn't been a bad kiss…it had tasted of ale, perhaps of whiskey—though really, she couldn't tell the difference—and he had not been quite himself. But a bad kiss? No, not at all, all things considered.
Most men would shrug it off as a failed attempt at romancing her. Most men wouldn't let it bother them, wouldn't even care that they had been kissing her without even asking first.
After all, most men were not like Kent.
The timing was just…wrong. That was it.
"Kent," she murmured, brushing his bangs out of his eyes, trying to pull him up further so that she could see his face.
He wasn't crying anymore. The salty tracks that were left served as evidence, though…of just how much she meant to him. He shivered under her light touch.
"M-Milady?" His voice was quiet, trembling.
"What you did was wrong." She almost cried herself, saying it, knowing that it would lead him to lowering his head again. She refused to let him wallow in shame, though. "Please don't ever drink again."
She smiled slyly and rubbed her nose against his cheek, feeling a little bit of moisture on her skin. "Oh," she said coyly, pulling the collar of his shirt down before laying a kiss where his shoulder met his neck. "There wasn't anything wrong with the kiss."
He froze, his entire body stiffening. "B-But Lady Lyndis, I-I—"
"It was that you gave it when you were drunk." She put a finger over his lips, effectively silencing him. "Now come on, let's get you back to camp. You'll have a terrible hangover tomorrow, I'm sure…"
"B-But the kiss, m-milady, I don't even d-deserve to ask for f—"
She wrapped her arm around his waist and pulled him toward her so that his weight was leaning slightly on her.
"I…I can't go back like this."
He had barely breathed the words, but due to their close proximity, she heard him. "Oh." She pulled back slightly and looked him up and down. "It might be a bad idea to go back like that." She pursed her lips thoughtfully, "But I can't leave you here alone."
Kent let her think as they stood there, contributing nothing to the conversation.
"Maybe we could get a room at one of the inns?"
The silence between them stretched on for a long time, and Lyn soon realized that doing such a thing could possibly be the worst idea she had ever had.
"Okay, maybe not… We could just stay here, I suppose. It's quiet, off the road, and there isn't any fruit on the trees yet, so no one will think to come through here…" She let go of him and waited until he was steady on his feet before looking around. "It's almost dark, anyway. We could just go to sleep right now…"
"I'm not going anywhere." She cut him off before he could even finish his sentence, then she smiled at him. "I'll stay right here, with you, and that's that."
She crossed her arms across her chest and hoped that he understood she meant every word.
Sunlight drifted over his eyes, making him blink and turn his head as a groan worked its way out of his mouth. His head was pounding, his eyes hurt… An attempt to turn over was thwarted, though, and he opened his eyes completely to find a tree in the way.
His mind worked frantically to try and process this information. He couldn't remember any tr—oh, wait.
The tavern…he remembered that. As he sat up, he noticed his lady liege curled up into a tight little ball only a few feet away from him. His hand went up to cover his eyes as the bright sunlight invaded again.
No, back, back… Lady Lyndis had come to get him. Why? His brain flailed before recalling the reason. She was concerned.
And they had left… He had been thinking about something… I was worried. But about…what?
He couldn't recall. So he opened his eyes again and looked at Lyn as she slept. The steady rise and fall of her chest had an almost calming effect on him. I was worried about her.
But was he worried for her or…or for a reason concerning her? The word floated to his mind as he tried to move from his position on the grass. Laus. His face flaming red, he closed his eyes and groaned again. I told her the truth about Laus.
And then the orchard came flooding back to him—it was the place of his shameful confession concerning the Laus invasion—and then…
He blanched, nearly choking, despair flooding him as the last trail of memories from the night before came back to him. He couldn't remember everything. The images, the feelings, they came in chunks.
The taste of the alcohol on his tongue as he kissed her hands. He remembered thinking she looked beautiful. Her calm, sweet, forgiveness—she was too good for him, forever too good—and the way she had looked at him. And then the tangle of limbs, the feeling of her breasts pressing against his chest, unmistakable even through his thick shirt. The taste of her lips.
His heart plummeted, pounding as badly as his head.
The expression on her face as she said no. Her pushing him away, and he thought he remembered not wanting to let her do that to him. Hadn't he been pushing himself away long enough?
For a moment, he was scared. Terrified, even, that he had done something terrible to her, worse than kissing her. But then he could almost feel the warm tears, his anguish at having done the one thing he had never wanted to do to her—he had scared her, hadn't he? And she had forgiven him again.
As if he deserved it.
He put his head in his hands again just as Lyndis started to stir. He took deep breaths, forcing himself to calm down. He had to apologize. Somehow. But how could he apologize for forcing himself on her?
"Kent?" Her voice drifted over to him and he looked up as she yawned, covering her mouth. She smiled slightly afterward, "How do you feel?"
"I've been worse, milady."
"I know. Like that time where you nearly got your leg cut through by a lance. I was really worried, that time." She stretched and moved closer to him. "How much do you remember?"
Too much, he thought.
"I think…I remember most…everything." He swallowed, his tongue heavy with nervousness and the aftertaste of the alcohol he had consumed the night before. "M-Milady, what I did was inexcusable, and I swear that I will never touch y—"
"Hush." Her finger was on his lips, and he felt his heart racing faster than his headache.
He blinked, a shiver going down his spine.
"Promise me one thing, Kent."
"Y-Yes? Anything, milady."
"Don't drink again."
"On my honor," he said. "And I must apologize for forci—"
"Kent. I know it was unintentional. I know that under normal circumstances, you would never do such a thing."
He nodded, his face turning red in shame and embarrassment as he tried not to shrink back from her.
"And in case you don't remember me saying this last night…"
"There wasn't anything wrong with that kiss except that fact that you were drunk when you gave it to me."
He stiffened as she leaned forward and hugged him impulsively. "M-Milady, this is highly improper!" But she only squeezed harder, leaving him to wonder what exactly it was she had meant by her words.
Hector, in all his alcohol headache-induced glory, stepped out of his tent as the sun shone over the encampment the little rag-tag army had made the morning before. He stomped around in an absolutely terrible mood, considering his head was pounding and he had thrown up once. Finally, he found Eliwood—looking perfectly fine, of course—and took a seat next to him.
"Good morning, Hector," his friend smiled.
"Of course you're all chipper and giddy this morning," he harrumphed, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring daggers at Merlinus's left front wagon wheel. "I feel like I got ran over by Florina's demonic winged monster more than once."
Eliwood laughing lightly and shrugged. "That's why I usually don't drink very much," he said, nodding sagely. "Have you seen Lyndis around?"
"Lyn? I could still drink her under the table, even right now, but no, I haven't."
"I don't think she came back last night." Eliwood looked concerned and then sighed. "Marcus said that she left camp to head for the tavern to find Sir Kent. I hope she didn't get waylaid by anything problematic…"
"Kent?" Suddenly, he thought of something. "I saw them leave together, now that I think about it. Don't you remember seeing her there?"
"Yes, but I didn't see her leave, nor did I see who she left with."
"She left with Kent. Of course. You know. Red hair…kind of stalks her around all of the—"
"Don't be ridiculous. He's no stalker." Eliwood sighed again. "I think I heard Sir Sain mumbling about not having seen him today."
Suddenly, Serra perked up from nearby. Obviously she had heard every word. "Oh, Kent?" She grinned. "He hasn't come back yet, either!" And with that, she took off faster than one of Lucius's lightning spells.
"Kent…and Lyndis…left," Eliwood muttered.
"But they didn't come back… That means…" Hector muttered, groaning as his headache increased tenfold, probably due to his lack of an ability to fully process the information his brain was receiving. "Oh!" he shouted suddenly, understanding the implications completely. "Holy Saint Elimine's rocking chair!"
"Oh, guess what, girls?" Serra, looking radiantly cheerful as always, practically plowed into the healers' tent where Priscilla and Rebecca were rolling their new supply of bandages.
"Sain finally got what was coming to him?" Rebecca asked, looking half-heartedly hopeful.
"Uhm… Sain didn't call you beautiful today?" Priscilla smiled teasingly and winked at Rebecca.
"Of course not! Don't be silly!" Serra flipped one of her pink pigtails behind her head. "I look absolutely gorgeous today, after all! And what I realized is much, much better than that!"
"Oh?" Rebecca and Priscilla looked at one another, and then at Serra. "Well, what is it?"
"Lady Lyndis, and that knight of hers, Kent…" She took a dramatic breath and posed with one hand over her heart, the other on her brow, "They left the tavern last night together, but they still haven't come back!"
The mouths of both girls formed perfect o's.
The news spread like wildfire, perhaps even faster. When Kent and Lyn finally managed to make their way back to camp—with Kent looking just a little better than he had when he had awakened—they were greeted with many, many pairs of raised eyebrows, several waggling eyebrows, and one sly, sly grin that belonged to none other than Sain.
"So," the green-armored cavalier said, sauntering up to them. "If you two wanted some alone time, you should have just—"
His mouth snapped shut as Lyndis kicked him. Hard. Right in the shin.
And then she smiled at Kent, took his hand, and ignored both his blush everyone else's dropped jaws as they made their way through the camp toward Hector and Eliwood. "So," she said, sounding completely sure of herself, "Have Lady Louise or Lord Pent returned yet?"
I could say a million things. First, this all started when Kender and I...I don't know. At any rate, a challenge was issued out in our little Kent/Lyn Circle to write a 'fic where Kent or Lyndis was drunk. So there you have the Drunk'fic Challenge. I chose to write about Kent because I'm stupid. Seriously, writing Kent drunk is so hard...it's not even funny. The hardest part was keeping him in character while having him intoxicated. Getting him intoxicated wasn't easy, either. But he really looks up to Wallace, and he likes Wil, and he respects Hector and Lyndis, so...things just piled up. The poor guy.
I wanted to put a lot more in this, but I had a deadline to reach. And this is long enough, don't-cha think? At any rate, if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer them. The title comes from a line in the song Pictures of You by The Last Goodnight. The lines goes as follows: All that lies between us, all that lies between you and me.
Thank you for reading, and please drop a review if you have the time.