Observations
By: Manna


xOx…

The Microfic/Drabble Meme
:Christmas Requests:

For: Mark of the Asphodel
Prompt: "When gorse is out of blossom, kissing's out of fashion."
Flower: Yellow Gorse


xOx…

He appeared out of nowhere to stand by her side.

He didn't even bother with a greeting. One moment, the space against the wall beside her was empty, and the next, it was filled. Prince Innes had a scowl on his face that would rival that of the ugliest bandits on Magvel, and that startled her nearly as much as his sudden presence.

"A wonderful party, Sir," she tried softly, remaining at attention. The first winter celebration was a success; the castle and its grounds were packed with aristocrats from all over the continent.

His silence made her wonder if she ought not to have spoken at all, but she pushed those thoughts aside and concentrated on the goings on around her. Though it sounded silly to others, if she tuned out the chatter of over a hundred people, she could see better. Tongues wagged, wine sloshed over the edge of fluted glasses, and laughter abounded, but she saw only what was really happening. It was her duty, of course, to protect Frelia, its citizens, and those who visited the castle; she would not falter.

"You've spaced out again."

So caught up in her observations was she, that she could not suppress the sudden shudder of her spine at his words. She had nearly forgotten he was there!

"Oh, no, Prince Innes!" she hurried to say, eyes pointed straight ahead as an embarrassed flush started to creep across her face; she had been doing that more and more often as of late, and she had learned to hate it quite passionately.

"Then what do you call it, Vanessa?" He looked almost smug from what she could see, but in a lighthearted way; it was not at all the expression he used when he won a sparring match against his long time rival, Ephraim.

She blinked once, slowly, and inclined her head. "Observing."

It was obvious that he was looking at the same people she had been watching for the last few moments—his lips thinned and his eyebrows lowered. "That had better only be her third glass," he said.

"Her first this evening, actually."

"Good." Relief seemed to come over him, as his posture relaxed. "What are they doing?"

"Syrene promised Sir Kyle some Frelian seafood. It seems neither of them have forgotten." Her lips quirked up in a smile. "Princess Tana seems to be enjoying herself."

He gave a hesitant nod as a response. His lips quirked upward as poor Sir Kyle bit into something that didn't suit his taste; the uproarious laughter from his sister at the expression on the knight's face might have had something to do with it.

Despite his sometimes-cold exterior, it was clear—at least to Vanessa—that he cared about Tana very much.

She turned to get a better look at him, abandoning her observations of the others. "You look nice," she said honestly. He looked very handsome, and she bit her tongue before the words could slip out of her mouth.

"Thank you." And then, "You, too."

She flushed, "I'm not dressed up."

"I didn't say that you were." He was always very straightforward in his speech, and she doubted he would lie, but…

Shaking her head, she forced her wonderings away. It wouldn't do to dwell on silly hopes like that, now would it? No, of course not!

They stood together in silence for quite some time as musical orchestrations began to play and couples slowly made their way to the dance floor. She hardly realized that her gaze had focused on two very familiar forms.

With the rude sound that Prince Innes gave, it was clear he was looking at them, too.

"They're so close, they can't be pried apart." He crossed his arms over his chest and added, "Even with a spatula."

She gave a quiet laugh, but involuntarily snorted halfway through it; she covered her mouth, biting on the side of her index finger to keep from doing it again. How humiliating! Her cheeks seemed to burst into flame.

He gave her an almost-smile, amused at her strange way of laughing. It warmed her to see him smile, even if it wasn't a full one. Prince Innes wasn't seen smiling very often, and when she managed to put one on his face, however small it was, it really made her feel…

She wasn't sure. Special? Accomplished?

"I think it's sweet," she murmured when his eyes turned back to General Seth and the Princess of Renais.

"You think public displays of affection are sweet." He looked doubtful, an eyebrow raised. He was waiting for an explanation.

"N-No, not at all! I mean only that I think…they are." She flexed the fingers of her left hand nervously. "Sweet, I mean."

"The perfect couple." He sighed, but not with contempt or with jealousy. Vanessa found herself relieved.

"No, not at all," she said gently. "Things will be very hard for them… Very hard indeed."

"I don't see anything sweet about that."

"They have each other. They'll always have that, if they choose to." She couldn't help it—as the young couple brushed lips, she found herself smiling for them. "I think it's sweet that they're always together. Even though they both have friends they could be talking to instead—"

"—They monopolize each other."

Grinning as she watched Eirika rest her head against Seth's shoulder, she replied, "Perhaps they do. But it's good to enjoy the company of someone you plan to spend the rest of your life with."

"Hmph. I suppose."

"What do you mean, you suppose?" It was her turn to raise an eyebrow at him questioningly. "You would rather be wed to someone you can't stand to be around?"

"Of course not." He gave the dancing couple a halfhearted glare that they didn't even notice. "But the affectionate displays need not be public."

She chuckled as the princess and her general kissed again. Innes looked away.

"Kissing makes you uncomfortable," she noted, realizing a half a moment too late that she had spoken the words aloud.

"It's rude," he said.

"Rude?" She blinked and gave the room a sweeping glance. "So we have approximately 52 people being rude at this very moment? Including Princess Tana?"

"What?! How dare—" He took a step forward before he realized that his sister was only a few feet away, standing harmlessly alone; the young woman's gaze was focused on him, and she had a sly smile on her face.

Vanessa chuckled at having fooled him—for a few seconds, anyway—and leaned back against the wall.

"It has to go out of style eventually."

"What does?"

"The public displays of affection."

"It's hardly a fad." She straightened up again and looked down at her shiny boots. "When gorse is out of blossom, that is when kissing will be unfashionable."

He gave a disgruntled snort, "But that means—"

Smiling, she nodded. "Right. It will always be in fashion."

"I'm sorry to interrupt this…no doubt fascinating conversation," a voice said, and Vanessa looked to the right to see Tana standing there, her hands behind her back. "I have a special gift from Syrene."

Innes gave her a hard stare. "A gift."

"From Syrene!"

"From Syrene."

"Okay, from…Syrene and…"

"And who?"

"Me?" The Frelian princess tried to look as sweet and innocent as she possibly could, and it seemed to work. "We made it especially for you." She gave him a brilliant smile, and he shrugged.

"Fine."

Vanessa could have sworn that innocent smile turned somewhat wicked, but it could have been her imagination.

"Well, let me just hang it right here," she said, and stepped forward for a full second to slip something on the hook nearly a foot above her head. She backed away quickly and clapped her hands. "My work here is done!" she chirped, and moved a safe distance away.

Generally, both Vanessa and Innes knew when to ignore their curiosity. After all, curiosity killed the cat. But neither of them were felines in any sense of the word, so they turned to regard the supposed gift.

Once catching sight of it, Vanessa was certain that the princess had asked Syrene to make it, but that her sister had actually known nothing else about it.

A wooden pegasus hung just over their heads, its wings spread out as if it had been plucked from the sky mid-flight and placed there. It was the most beautiful piece that she had ever seen; she wondered how long it had taken her sister to carve it.

"How nice," Prince Innes said dryly.

In the flying equine's mouth was a painted sprig of mistletoe. Only Princess Tana would think she could tease her brother with such a trick! No one else would have dared to try.

Though her cheeks reddened in embarrassment at the mere idea of what ought to happen with mistletoe involved, she was fairly confident that her companion would refuse to follow through with it.

"Vanessa," he said.

She prepared herself for the inevitable denial. "Yes, Sir?"

"Royalty must keep up with the latest styles."

Startled, she blinked. "W-What?"

He pointed up, his expression neutral, his voice refusing to give away anything. "Shall we be fashionable?"


xOx…

Author Notes:

I apologize profusely if you found any of these characters to be OOC. Constructive criticism is very much appreciated. I do not write much in the way of humor nowadays, and I am not terribly familiar with the cast of The Sacred Stones, either. Hopefully it was still amusing?

Thank you for reading!