In Need of Rest
By: Manna


xOx…

It was late in the evening and the army was still marching. They had stopped for far too long in the last village they had been forced to visit—due to stocking up on supplies—and with all the time they had lost in doing so, Lord Hector and Lord Eliwood managed to get the majority of them to agree that pressing onward to make up for lost time would be in their best interest.

Everyone was tired—there were no exceptions to that rule. They had been awake since before the break of dawn, and had been walking and riding since. They had paused for a quick, short lunch and continued on to the distress of several people, and to the relief of everyone else.

It was the second day they had spent traveling in such a manner, from before daybreak until after the sun set. It was already wearing people down. Complaints flew from the mouths of various people; someone's feet hurt—though really, anyone who walked on foot could rightly declare it—someone else had burrs stuck to their clothes—it was their fault for wandering off the road to pick berries—and yet another person was sweating—though really, who wasn't?

Kent's mare plodded along faithfully, and he blinked, his eyes strained and bleary from scanning the horizon all day. He was sick of hearing the complaints, as truthful as they were. Everyone was tired. Everyone wanted to stop.

But the need to keep moving was far more important. Couldn't they see that? And they had so much to be thankful for, really. They had suffered no casualties. So what were a few pairs of sore, aching feet? At least they weren't dead.

Turning his head slightly, doing another quick sweep of the horizon, he noticed Lady Lyndis ahead of him. She was still walking, albeit slowly, and every other minute or so she paused to stifle a yawn.

The corners of his lips turned up just the slightest bit at seeing her; really, she was the brightest part of his day. Admitting such a thing was absolutely out of the question, of course. She didn't need to know such things, and she would possibly question his sanity if he bothered to mention it to her.

It wasn't long before he caught up to her, considering the slow progress she was making, and he came to a stop beside her, dismounting as she smiled up at him.

The rest of the army ignored them, stepped around them, yawning and just trying to stay awake long enough to make it to the next stop, though none of them knew when that would be. It could be hours, yet, as the sun wasn't finished casting its light across Elibe.

"Kent," she said quietly, "how are you faring?"

She had always been overly concerned about everyone but herself, he thought absently to himself as he answered her, bowing his head, "Fine, milady. And you?"

"I'm okay."

Rebecca and Wil made their way around them, one on either side, talking animatedly about hunting; they were possibly the only two left with energy.

"You look tired…" He was merely stating the obvious, but he had an ulterior motive; it was convincing Lyndis to accept his offer that would be the hard part. Rarely did she ever allow herself to trouble someone else.

She smiled wider before turning her head to stifle another yawn behind her hand. "We all are."

"You have been walking all day." He tried not to let the unusual amount of concern that he felt flood his eyes lest she notice it, but some of it might have leaked through.

Sighing, she shook her head, "Kent, so has Wil. And Rebecca. And countless others."

"If you would like to, ah, rest your feet, milady, I have not walked a step today…"

"I'm not taking your horse from you."

With that, she started walking again, rather briskly, following the others in the army. He hurried to catch up, tugging his horse after him. Despite her fast pace, he could see that her feet hurt her. She was putting more pressure on her right foot than her left; he wondered if perhaps she had blisters, or something in her boot, or if there was a hole…or…

Shaking his head, he realized that it didn't matter. Despite her insistence that everyone was tired, she was his liege, and a woman at that. "Milady," he called after her, not speaking again until he had managed to step into place beside her. "Milady, it isn't right for you to walk while…"

"While what?" Chewing her lower lip thoughtfully, she slowed her pace a little, looking almost relieved after doing so.

"While I am not."

"Why is that, Kent? She's your horse, isn't she?" Stepping forward and cutting in front of him, she patted the neck and cheek of his mare, rubbing the animal's velvety nose before turning her green eyes on him curiously.

"Well, yes, but—"

"Don't be ridiculous, then. She's your horse, Kent."

"But you're my—ah, I mean Caelin's—liege…" Mentally, he sighed to himself. He could have left the part about Caelin out, but something in his mind told him that calling her his liege was too intimate…possessive, even. Though in all actuality, changing his words only made him sound even guiltier.

She laughed, startling him out of his thoughts, "I'm an adult, Kent. I can take care of myself."

He started to open his mouth to reply, but she yawned widely; he waited patiently for her to finish before saying anything, "It is as you say. But it would not do for us to fall under attack with everyone being so tired…"

"That is a valid point." She sighed, yawning again before she almost leaned against his mare as she walked. "Being ambushed after marching all day is far more likely than any other time except perhaps the dead of night…"

He nodded wordlessly.

"I suppose I should accept your offer." Then, sharply, "But this certainly won't happen again!"

"Of course, Lady Lyndis."

"And one other thing."

"Yes?"

"You're not walking, either. It certainly wouldn't do for one of our best soldiers to walk in all that heavy armor, would it? Of course not."

"B-But milady…" He found it hard to think properly after her compliment; as flattering as it was, he wondered if she was saying it simply because she was concerned about him, or if she really thought that he was one of the best soldiers in their group...

"I don't see why we can't ride together," she shrugged, covering her mouth before another yawn could escape openly. She put her left foot into the stirrup and swung her right leg over his horse's back, reaching behind her to tuck her dress beneath her.

Both of them flushed a little at that, Kent looking away for a moment afterward.

"Now it's your turn," she demanded, her tone telling him she wouldn't take any argument. For a moment, he wondered what she might do if he tugged the horse along and left her up there; there was the possibility that she would jump right off and…he didn't know. She could do anything; sometimes Lady Lyndis was very unpredictable.

He decided that it would be best to follow orders, even though it wasn't proper for her to sit practically in his lap, nor was it exactly proper for her to ride on his horse, especially with a dress on that scarcely covered her legs at all when she was astride a horse.

Flushing at his thoughts, he swung into the saddle behind her. Gingerly, he took the reins, one in each hand, and tried to keep his arms away from his sides before giving his mare a gentle kick to get her to move forward again.

He tired of that rather quickly—it was hard to hold his arms up and away from his body—but he didn't dare lower them for fear of touching his liege inappropriately.

Everything was fine for nearly a half-hour. Lyndis yawned off and on constantly, but at least she wasn't walking on sore feet. He even felt less guilty about doubling up when he saw Ninian riding in front of Eliwood, and Rebecca on the back of Florina's pegasus. But somewhere between the half-hour and the hour mark, Lyndis started to slump a little, and only a few minutes later, she fell back against him, though not heavily. No, she barely sagged against him, the back of her head resting against his bevor.

A little concerned, he raised both arms and touched her shoulders softly, "Lady Lyndis? Are you okay?"

She jerked forward almost violently, clearly startled, taking a few quick, shaky breaths afterward. "I'm sorry," she said, swallowing and leaning forward, away from him. "I didn't mean to."

"You've done nothing wrong…" He hadn't been certain that she had fallen asleep; what if it had been something serious? If he had known she had merely dozed off, he would have let her sleep, no matter how awkward it was, and no matter how many weird looks he thought he might receive from various other members of the—

Like the look Sain was throwing him. Kent attributed the smirk to jealousy on Sain's part that he didn't have a beautiful woman riding with him while he did. But then he shook his head slightly and adopted a stern expression to send back to his boon companion. Sain wasn't jealous, only teasing… He most likely saw Lyn nearly fall asleep and couldn't wait to pester him about it, even from a distance.

"If you are that tired, milady, perhaps you should sleep."

"Nobody…" she yawned, "else is…"

Looking around, Kent did notice that Nils was sleeping on the bench of Merlinus's wagon as the old man prattled on about…something or another, but he doubted that Lyndis would want to be held at the same level as the young man. "But if you are tired…"

She shrugged, just barely, and didn't say anything at all. He chose to keep his mouth shut as she slumped forward in the saddle, slowly, her back arched over his horse's neck. One of her hands held its mane loosely in a fist, and the other was tucked under her head.

When she didn't move again for a good long time, he looked around him, letting his arms fall back to his sides now that she wasn't as close to him. Wil had taken the reins of the team of horses that pulled Merlinus's wagon—the old man had dozed off beside Nils. Florina was on Fiora's pegasus, now, fast asleep also. Serra and Rebecca were on Huey—Rebecca holding the reins.

And Ninian… Ah…

He looked away, feeling uncomfortable at seeing the young woman held so…so close to Lord Eliwood, so tight in his embrace. She was smiling, though, and her eyes were closed either in rest or in sleep.

Sooner or later, they would have to stop. Everyone seemed to be falling asleep. The sun was nearly gone, and the light along with it.

Almost an hour later, the group came to a hesitant, slow halt. Their movements had become almost automatic.

Quietly, people dismounted, set up bedrolls, cooked a quick stew, and looked for water for the animals and for themselves.

Kent stayed in his saddle longer than was necessary, unsure about dismounting without waking Lady Lyndis first. With his feet out of the stirrups, he would still have to lift one leg over, behind his liege. He didn't want to accidentally kick her with his heavy boots or scrape any of his armor across her back.

But Sain was smirking at him again, and rather than wake her—because she looked so tired—he carefully pulled his right leg up and around, letting himself fall from the left side of his horse less-than-gracefully, landing with a rather loud thud as his boots hit the ground and his armor shifted.

Lyndis moved slightly, her hand flexing just the smallest bit, but she did not wake.

"Ah…Lady Lyndis?" he tried, but his voice was so whispery and quiet—like the rest of the army in the camp—that it wouldn't be enough to wake anyone, let alone his liege; he knew that she slept rather soundly.

Ambling casually up to him, his "boon companion" elbowed him. "Why don't you just put her to bed?" he asked. "Rather than wake her, I mean. She looks exhausted." Then, as an afterthought, "And stunning, even when she's sleeping."

"Ah… I don't know…" he answered, ignoring Sain's final statement though he knew his friend was right.

"I'll do it."

Kent glared at him, "Why don't you get her things ready?"

Grinning, Sain replied, "I already did." And then he pointed, to a neatly made and already turned down bedroll. "And I don't think you should wake her for dinner, either. Let her get some rest for now."

Hesitantly, he reached up for Lyn, nodding, but Sain's arm stopped him.

"Kent, Kent," he tsk'd. "First, let me take her boots. Second, take that armor off; she'll wake up the moment she comes into contact with that hard, cold metal you're wearing."

Normally, Kent would have argued and just ignored Sain, woken Lyndis up, and then helped her off of his mare like any gentleman would do for a lady. But he was too tired to bother, and Sain was right about one thing; Lady Lyndis looked as if she needed nothing more than to sleep.

So he quickly shed his armor—it wasn't like he would be awake much longer, himself, anyway—while Sain gently tugged her boots off of her feet. When the cold air came into contact with them, though, she shivered and tried to tuck her legs beneath her to keep them warm.

Before she could try hard enough to either wake herself up or fall off of the horse, his hand took hers and carefully pried her fingers off of his horse's mane so that he could lift her off.

It wasn't an easy task. No, his horse was easily sixteen or seventeen hands high, if not taller, and he didn't want to hurt her by dragging her bare legs across the saddle. Sain helped the best he could, and finally, he had one lady liege in his arms, a smirking friend next to him, and in all honesty, he wanted out of the situation he had just put himself in.

"I'll take care of her for you, Kent."

Sain grinned, and for a moment, Kent almost snapped back at Sain that no, he would most certainly NOT, but his expression slackened when he realized Sain had his mare's reins in his hands and was already unbuckling the bridle, sliding it over the horse's ears.

He suddenly felt very stupid.

It was a good thing Sain wasn't paying him any attention or he would never, ever hear the end of it.

Ever.

"Thank you, Sain," he managed to say before hurrying away. The way Lyndis's head was leaning against his shoulder was… Well, it was nice, but her breath kept tickling his neck, and he didn't mind it one tiny little bit. Which was a problem, as far as he was concerned, because he had given up trying to deny that he loved her. And little things like her warm breath against his skin? It only made him feel more affectionate toward her. As if just loving her wasn't easy enough…

He was half-afraid that if she didn't stop making him love her more every single day, that before he knew it, he wouldn't be able to help but tell her himself. And then where would he be? Ah, she would certainly question his sanity…

Shaking his head, he realized that he had been standing next to the bedroll that Sain had so generously put out for their liege, and he also noticed that all three pegasus sisters were staring at him.

Fiora just blinked, Farina grinned, and Florina clutched her eldest sister's sleeve as she smiled sleepily at Kent with…with something in her eyes. It looked like approval, but he didn't dare dwell on it.

He had the good graces to blush, slightly, and he kneeled down to lower his lady to her bed for the night. He was almost done, merely leaning down to cover her legs with her skirt, since it had gotten tossed slightly to the side, when her hand clutched at his hair.

He wasn't sure how her hand managed to get there. Well, his head was terribly close to her stomach, and her hand had been resting there.

Either way, he let out a startled grunt of almost-pain as her fingers pulled at the roots of his hair.

He hadn't been expecting that, and perhaps he should have, considering the way she had gripped his horse's mane, so he stayed frozen for a moment as he heard a loud snort—he knew exactly who that was, and it wasn't Sain for once—and tried to figure out what to do.

His hand grabbed hers, and unable to see how exactly she held his hair, he could only guess at pulling up her fingers. At his touch, though, they relaxed considerably, and he pulled her hand away easily, only one or two red hairs lost. And one of them, he idly noticed, was stuck in one of her broken fingernails. So he pulled it out.

And before she could grab at him again, he pulled the woolen blanket up and over her; moments later, she turned onto her side and curled into herself, sighing almost inaudibly as she got comfortable.

Raising himself back to his feet, he stayed crouched next to her for a moment, just to…make absolutely sure that she was okay. Sain walked up and set her boots down beside her, mussing up Kent's hair horribly.

"Cute, isn't she?"

The redheaded knight commander slapped his friend's hand away in an annoyed-but-lethargic manner. "Mmm…" he agreed.

"Come on, buddy," Sain insisted, kicking the back of one of Kent's feet, nearly making him fall forward onto Lyndis. "You can't stay there and stare all night long."

Kent considered arguing, but it would only serve to incriminate him by retorting with the truth—which was, of course, that he most certainly could stare at her all night long. And not grow bored at all. So he snapped his jaw shut and shakily stood to his feet. His legs were a little rubbery and half-asleep from crouching, and he stifled a yawn.

Sain elbowed him. "Don't you dare fall asleep on me."

Kent turned to stare at him with an almost confused expression on his face as he yawned again. "What?" he managed to ask.

"I'm not carrying you off to bed." Slyly, he winked and nudged his friend. "I might be inclined to cover you with a blanket, however…" And then, a moment later, after a dramatic pause for suspense that only made Kent impatient, "I would certainly be inclined to drag you over to lay right next to Lady Lyndis beforehand."

"Don't be vulgar!" It sounded better in his head. It came out sounding slightly slurred. He yawned again, ruining the intended effect further.

"Kent! Where is your mind today? There's nothing vulgar about that! It's not as if I'd put your hands on her. However," he grinned, continuing, moving away from Kent as if he might be afraid of being kicked, punched, or even tripped, "I have a feeling that when you woke up, you might find yourself in a vulgar position indeed! She clutched at your hair so easily, Kent…! Imagine what else she might—ouch!"

Lyndis's left boot landed on the ground quite some distance away; Sain tried to look sad as he rubbed at what would no doubt end up being a bruise on his shoulder.


xOx…

Author Notes:

I thought the Fire Emblem fandom could use more pure, 100% unadulterated crap, so I wrote this. I thought its pointlessness might make it more like pure, 150% unadulterated crap, and since we all love crap, I figured…why the heck not? (Crap is a joke for those that have no idea what I'm talking about. So yes.) Kent's characterization might be off a little bit... I played with the idea that he might be a little grumpy if he gets tired. Hahaha.

Hope it was amusing at the very least. Thanks for reading! As always, feedback of any kind is appreciated.