Just Look Around
By: Manna


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Prompt: "Four times he rescued her and one time she rescued him."

i. the only joy that i have ever known

Five-year-olds did not belong on the training grounds. Or, Seth thought as he stopped his training to watch the child, anywhere on the castle grounds, especially unsupervised. He let his lance rest against his shoulder as he moved in the direction of the tree the child was climbing. As he neared, he realized the child had found a safe seat on the lowest branch of the apple tree that bordered the fenced-off training ground.

His curiosity kept him moving closer, until he was directly under the tree. The child—a young girl, he realized—stared down at him.

"I am Princess Eirika of Renais!" she said, and got to her feet before planting her hands firmly on her hips. "Who are you?"

"Seth," he answered immediately. Perhaps it was force of habit. "Knight in training."

She grinned, pleased with his answer, but her shoes slipped against the smooth bark of the tree, and she fell.

He caught her neatly. She looked distraught for a moment, her mouth pressed into a firm pout but then she smiled at him. "Sir Seth!" she said, "you have saved me from sure death!"

Or at least a broken arm, he thought as he set her on her feet.

ii. just look around, and all of the people that we used to know

The echoes of war had faded from his ears, replaced with the soft blanket of night and the stillness it offered.

Eirika slept, though fitfully so, and he wished he could do something to reassure her. His wounds still bled and his horse was exhausted; he could see very little light in the world in that moment, even looking up at a blanket of stars.

"Seth?"

He had not seen her wake. "Princess Eirika," he murmured. "You should rest."

She looked at him with sad, moonlit eyes. "You nearly died for my sake," she said to him. "It is not easy to find rest this night."

He inclined his head in understanding or perhaps agreement. Their world was falling away from them; who knew how far it would fall before it was out of reach entirely?

They stayed up that night, wordlessly watching the stars and wondering what other sacrifices would have to be made before everything was over.

iii. i'm glad we're on this one-way street, just you and i

Water was beautiful when it rippled. She tossed small pebbles into the pond to watch the surface change shape, her thoughts a whirlwind. It wasn't long before she was hurling rocks at the still-rippling surface with desperation and anger and frustration. At last, a hand on her shoulder gave her pause.

"Princess Eirika," Seth's voice said from behind her.

She didn't dare turn around; she was nobility, and it would be shameful for him to see the tears that she could not push away.

"Why must everything be so difficult?" she asked at length, letting the rock fall from her fingers and hit the soft earth with an almost inaudible sound. Her thoughts turned toward her friends, past and present, her brother, her nation, and finally, those caught in between.

"I do not know," he murmured, and perhaps he was thinking of others things.

She said, eyes turned toward the water as the last ripples faded, "I apologize for my selfishness. I am not the only one suffering." Surely the commonfolk had lost more than she ever would.

He hesitated, likely unsure of what to say or how to say it, but finally he did speak, and his voice sounded strong and reassuring, "We are all suffering," he said, "in different ways and for different reasons." She felt the ends of her hair twist gently around his fingertips. "In this light, no one is truly selfish."

iv. everything has got its place and time

It was a classic romantic ballad, but in reality, and it happened so quickly she could scarcely remember it even an hour later.

She'd dropped her sword. She remembered the red of her own blood against the pale skin of her hand, and she remembered the pounding of hooves as Seth charged to her side. The tip of his lance protruded from the swordsman standing mere inches from her face, and the dead man slumped over the weapon.

Shakily, she scooped up her rapier with her good hand and fastened it to her belt before taking Seth's offered hand.

His white horse was splattered with the blood of the fallen, but she noticed they were headed back to camp—likely so she could get her hand treated. The camp was to the west. Eirika might have laughed at the silliness of it all—galloping off into the sunset, really?—but they were at war, and nothing about war was funny, even being rescued by a faithful knight on his noble white steed.

v. in your eyes, i see a love that burns eternally

How did a knight ask a princess to marry him? Was it even possible? He spent months trying to figure out the proper way of doing things, but always came up empty-handed. Either the proposal was very like him and too simple, or exceptionally extravagant and therefore nothing like him.

It caused him no end of stress—added stress, mind, as the reconstruction of Renais was more than enough just on its own—and for the life of him he could not decide how to go about it.

Prince—no, King—Ephraim had given his permission, though he'd said with an amused twitch of his lips that Eirika really needed no one's permission to do anything. Seth wondered at the words, but could not quite understand them.

He was caught quite unaware by a stern-faced Eirika on the training ground. The old apple tree she'd fallen from as a child was still there, off to the side, and he might have been amused enough to mention it to her any other time.

"Seth," she said, hands on her hips, "Ephraim tells me you've had his permission to marry me for three months."

He thought about spouting excuses, though making excuses was not something he was good at doing. He had some that were real, though. For one, he didn't know how to propose to her. No matter what he did, it would be too plain or so unlike him she'd think he was forced into doing it that way.

She didn't give him time to speak, anyway.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" Her grin betrayed her seriousness.

He took her hand, but didn't drop to one knee. He was sweaty and covered in grime, but he spoke anyway. "Eirika," he said, "will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"

Her smile widened. "Of course!" she said, and stood on her toes to press her lips against his. She brushed her nose against his, "I'd have said yes three months ago, too, just so you know."

"I could not decide how—"

"It doesn't matter how it's said," she insisted, fingers brushing through the hair at the nape of his neck, "only that it is."

He couldn't help but agree.


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Author Notes:

Oh my. I don't know why I try to write this pairing. I really can't do them justice. Well, at least I tried. Lyrics for the part titles are from Westlife's Swear It Again. For FE Fest over at Livejournal!