Beginning of the End
By: Manna


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Prompt: "I will never leave you."

The End.

To begin a tale with the ending defeats the purpose of telling the beginning and middle, but sometimes the most important part of the story is the end. (For every tale, every life, everything has an ending—every beginning must eventually come to an end.)

In the thick of battle is where this picture must be painted, for that is where the ending itself began—first with the sickening sound of metal through flesh, followed by a groan, blood, and finally, a last-ditch attempt to stop the enemy before they might be given the chance to converge on the others—could swoop in and overwhelm another man who'd been separated from the group.

Only partially successful, the wounded man slumps to the ground. (The enemy leaves, for what can a person do with a fatal injury but die?) It might be odd to think that anyone would notice the loss of a single man in combat, but one person does, and she pushes her way through the throng of battle with the sharp point of her sword to make it to the her ally's side.

When she finally gets there, there is but a moment to spare; on a crowded battlefield there is hardly time to breathe, let alone shoot the breeze with the dying.

Hoofbeats and the clanging of steel ring in both of their ears, and she kneels beside him, hands frantically trying to push the blood—and it's a lot of blood—back inside the gaping wound in his side.

But there are entrails mixed with the warm stickiness, and her fingers tremble as the realization dawns on her that he will not live more than a minute. (And what is a minute, she thinks, but two times blinking, and she refuses to blink for fear she will, in those fractions of seconds, not see him.)

His face is pale and drawn. Hers is no different.

"Leave," he manages to say, and his voice is nothing but a whisper against her cheek.

(She wants nothing more than to smooth out the lines on his face, but she cannot touch him with her death-stained hands.)

"No," says she, lips brushing over his skin as if the motion will ease his pain, his suffering. (As if it will make him whole again, though she knows it won't, and perhaps the gesture is as much a comfort to her as it is to him.) "I won't."

Her heart beats only a handful of times before he slips away in the chaos surrounding them. (A slight tip of his head, a slackening of his muscles; she knows he's gone.) Letting him go is the hardest thing she's ever done, but she reminds herself that what she sees is merely a shell. The heart within it has stopped beating. (And suddenly, the pounding in her chest is a hundred times more painful, more poignant. She swallows thickly.)

With white-knuckled hands, she grips her sword, and a moment later notices that handprints made of his blood are on the hilt. (It's almost like he's with her, still. She fights back tears. Now is not the time—not the time. She must return to the battle.)

She'd like to take the lives of those who dared to take him from her, but she has no way of knowing if the lives taken are those responsible for his death. Turning to join in the fray, she decides that it doesn't matter.

They will be triumphant. And when the battle is won—though she will hardly feel victorious—she will allow herself a moment to grieve, a moment that lasts as long as it takes to dig a hole for his body to rest in. (A shell with auburn hair and brown eyes, calloused hands and a strong jaw. And Lyndis wonders if she will have the strength to push the dirt in over him in the end, for the shell is still synonymous with Kent, and she loves him.)


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Author Notes:

This was, in part, a different sort of attempt style-wise. Feedback would be great. (Thank you for reading!)

For FE Fest on Livejournal.