Dedication: Souseki Naora/Bloodynaked for the Christmas 2009 Fire Emblem Exchange via LiveJournal.
The smell of baking bread coated the air, and she smiled at him from across the kitchen of Castle Ostia. A smile was all that was needed. Perhaps the war had changed her—for the better?—as she had long ago determined that sometimes words did not need to be spoken aloud to be understood.
He nodded at her, once, and turned to leave through the double doors that led outside. She followed.
Since returning to Ostia, he'd immersed himself in his work. It was something she did not approve of—and she wasn't the only one. It worried Oswin, and even Lord Hector, as busy as he was with patching things up, had admitted—gruffly—that he was concerned.
"Matthew!" she called, stepping lightly on the still-dewy grass. "Maaaaattthhhhhh-yoooo!"
He cringed, head tilting to the side as if he could shake the horrid sound of her screech from his eardrums. "What's the matter with you?" he asked when she drew close.
"You just got back." Her arms crossed over her chest as she huffed good-naturedly. "You can't possibly be heading out to spy on someone else already. Lord Hector isn't even awake! He can't have given you orders, yet."
His expression told her that he felt trapped. "He will the moment he wakes up."
"Only because you'll insist on it."
His mouth opened, then closed. He blinked. "And why wouldn't I? I don't have anything better to do."
That stung, just the smallest bit. "You haven't had rest in weeks."
She wanted to tell him that Leila wasn't coming back, and no amount of working himself into the ground would bring her back or help him forget.
"You look tired," she said. "It worries me."
She knew what he was thinking: It's not your place to worry about me.
Leila had never worried about Matthew, just as he had never truly worried about her. They were both spies. Casualties could and did happen on occasion. Every mission was dangerous. Worry would have eaten them both alive.
She knew that she could never replace Leila.
She didn't want to.
The last thing Serra wanted was for him to see Leila whenever he looked at her.
"Just one day, Matthew. Please."
She could have added a million self-important phrases to the end of that, such as, I'm the best healer around and I know what's best for you, but she knew that just like her presence in his life, and his in hers, those words were not necessary.
"If you want to leave tomorrow, I won't say anything at all, but—"
"I'll stay." A sigh of resignation escaped his lips. "Just today, though," he said sharply, glancing back toward the kitchen. "And only because you said please, not because of—"
"My amazing charm and wit? My ability to convince people to do whatever it is I need them to do? My fabulous hair?" She grinned, throwing him a teasing wink.
"All of the above," he said, and his tone might have been a bit dry, but he smiled back at her.
I don't think Serra and Matthew need each other. I'm sure they (eventually come to) enjoy each other's company (post A support), but their relationship stands apart from all the others in the sense that they do not rely on one another as most couples do. Two very independent people (with independent personalities) still enjoying time together, caring about and worrying about each other says a lot, though. So while Serra's worry might have been unnecessary, perhaps it was also appreciated.