Author's Notes: Written for fe_contest's fifteenth challenge on Livejournal, which is "crack pairings", at the urgings of both Mark of the Asphodel and Samuraiter, who wanted to see a seriously written Marth/Roy fic.
This is also AU, wherein Zephiel conquered all of Elibe (referred to as Ereb in Archanea) and Roy basically exiles himself from Elibe in search of a new life to live.
He was just a traveling swordsman, nothing more, nothing less. At least, that's what he told the innkeepers at all the places he stayed at along the way.
"A mercenary, you mean?"
He shook his head. "No, just a traveler." Though he was good with the sword, and carried one with him for his own protection, he wasn't selling his skills. Besides, what good was a mercenary in a time of peace, anyway? Archanea just got over a particularly destructive war, and the scars of it were evident wherever he went, especially in the capitol.
He left home to find some sort of purpose—sold everything he had, save for his weapon and the clothes on his back. Gave up everything so he could make a name for himself in a place where no one knew his history. It sounded like a good idea at the time, as all ideas tend to. He had no clue as to where he could find work—he had no other skills really—and his money was sifting through his fingers, no matter how tightly closed he held them. If it wasn't bandits or he wasn't giving his money away to people worse off than him, it was for food, or shelter.
When he stepped foot into Altea and stopped at an inn near the border of Altea and Gra, he inquired about jobs.
"I'll do anything," he said, a note of desperation in his voice. "I'll even sweep the floors."
The innkeeper was an older man who reminded him of one of his retainers back home. He stroked his greying beard thoughtfully, elbows at the edge of the coarse wood of the counter.
"I've heard that Prince Marth is lookin' for able-bodied men and women to fill out the ranks… If yer good with a weapon, you can always try there."
He leaned closer to the youth, and here his voice dropped to a whisper. "Word on the streets is that, after the last war wiped out nearly all of his men, the prince is a little desperate to find soldiers…"
He pulled away. "Make with that what ye will, boy."
The swordsman tipped his head and left him some gold. "Do you know where the castle is?"
The innkeeper took the shiny coins, shoved them into his dirtied apron pocket, and fetched him half a loaf of bread and some cheese to go along with it.
"'S about a few days west of here," he replied. "Just follow the trail—it leads straight to the castle town."
The youth grabbed the bread and cheese, said, "Thanks," once more, and left the inn so he could get a head start. It was still light out, and by his estimate he had plenty of sunlight left to maybe make it to the next village by nightfall.
Munching on his bread, he took his first steps towards what he hoped would be a good chance at a new life.
It took him almost a week to make it to the castle town, not because it was hard to walk all that way, but because it rained for three days straight.
Well, it was less 'rain' and more like a 'downpour' and he didn't feel like traveling while being soaked to the skin for three long days, so he stayed in a small village named Sera, which wasn't far from the castle at all, with a kindly old woman named Laura and her son Mark and her grandson Chris.
"You look like a young man I used to know," Mark said, after the youth had been wrapped in blankets and warmed by the fire. "Met him twenty years ago. He was on a journey to find his father."
"Did he find him?" the young man questioned.
Mark shook his head. "Sorry to say his father was dead. He married a Pegasus knight after the war that erupted, and had a son." He laughed at the memory. "Made me his godson. I haven't seen him in, oh, seventeen or so years now. I got to name him and everything."
Chris pouted. "Daaaad, you're talking about Ereb again."
Mark sighed. "Sorry about that… I'm sorry, I don't think I ever caught your name."
The youth smiled. "It's Roy."
Mark laughed. "Roy? That was what I named his son, too. What a small world!"
Small indeed, thought Roy, considering you knew my father.
He couldn't think of these things anymore—his father was gone now, as was his land and his title. That was why he left in the first place, to get away from it all.
I guess this wasn't far away enough.
The first few trials weren't too bad, Roy thought. He had yet to see this 'Prince Marth' person, though it seemed everyone else had at least once in their lives. Of course, they were also from around here, whereas Roy was not, though he lied and said he was. He didn't have much to worry about anyway—no one else was from Sera. They did think he spoke strangely, however—his accent was rather refined. One of them, a fellow named Luke, even remarked he sounded more like he was from Archanea.
"The prince would like to speak to you all for a moment," said a man, whose name was apparently Jagen. He moved to the side and out into the courtyard came a young man who looked a few years older than Roy, with medium blue hair to match his attire. Roy's breath hitched in his throat, and all he could do was stare.
In fact, he was utterly entranced. The prince's elegance and beauty could only be matched by one other royal he knew of. He briefly wondered whatever became of Princess Guinevere after her brother succeeded in conquering the rest of Elibe, but his thoughts quickly came back to the prince in front of him.
He found out rather quickly that he couldn't understand most of what the prince was even saying.
Somehow, the prince could easily understand him, which made the last trial just a little easier. He even switched over to Archanean so Roy could understand him. How thoughtful, he mused.
"I want you to come at me," the prince said, as he poised himself, rapier in hand. Roy had never seen that stance before, and figured it was just something unique to the area.
"Come at you, sire?" He hoped his Archanean didn't sound too broken. Marth nodded.
"Do not worry about my safety," he said with just the hint of a smile. "I can defend myself just fine."
Roy flushed before moving into proper form—well, proper form for him. This would for sure mark him as a foreigner of sorts, since forms were usually specific to different styles, and styles to specific areas.
"Whenever you are ready," said Marth.
Roy took a deep breath—Marth's voice had some sort of…indescribable quality to it that made Roy's heart quicken a little—and then lunged at him, sword parallel with his leg. At the apex of his charge, he swung his sword and wondered why Marth was going to let himself be hit…
…when Marth parried easily. It didn't register right away, and Roy noticed it only when he heard the sound of steel against steel and the ringing that occurred afterward. Marth sidestepped out of the parry and went to slash at Roy's back when Roy twisted out of the way, missing the blade by centimetres. It went on like this for a few minutes more, the parrying, the sidestepping, the meeting of blades, until one of the blades was dangerously close to cutting flesh, the only thing preventing it from doing so was the blade of Marth's rapier. He nodded and pushed Roy's blade away, sheathing it with easy.
"You did well," said Marth, and he had that smile again that made Roy feel all tingly inside. "Better than I expected, even."
Roy bowed. "Thank you for the praise, sire."
Roy later learned that the fight with Prince Marth was the trial that would make or break his chance at being a knight of Altea, or so Luke announced to all at dinner that night.
What if I wasn't good enough? He said I was 'better than he expected', but that doesn't mean I did enough to nail it.
"Luke, you've had enough ale to drink for tonight," scolded Rody, who moved out of Luke's reach.
"Aww, you're no fun!"
"Neither is a man who is drunk," Rody retorted.
Roy excused himself from the table and went to the room he was given to stay in. There, on the small desk not far from the door, was an envelope with his name in rather elegant looking script written on it. He picked it up and tore the seal open with the pocket knife he carried everywhere. Removing the letter, he carefully read the contents of it before moving it closer to his face, his eyes wide with disbelief.
You will be awoken at dawn, said the letter, in preparation for your knighting ceremony.
It was a beautiful day, too lovely to stay cooped up inside. After his morning lessons with Cain, who was teaching him the ropes of being a knight of Altea as well as helping him with his language skills, Roy slipped out of the castle and into the courtyard, where there were many trees that provided excellent shade and a place to sit, as well as bushes with buds that were just beginning to bloom lining the perimeter. He sat at the base of one of the trees, on one of the thick roots, opened his book, and began reading, trying hard to learn the language of his liege which, intriguingly enough, sounded similar to what the Sacaeans spoke back home.
"Might I have a moment, Roy?"
Roy was startled from his book by the prince of Altea himself standing a few feet away with a questioning look on his face. The sun was at its highest point currently—had he really been out here so long? It was almost time for his sword lesson! Of course First Commander Cain couldn't be angry at him for being late if he was with the prince, could he?
"Have all the time you need, Prince Marth." He closed his book and gave him his full attention.
Marth stepped nearer. "I have something I wish to ask you."
Roy quirked an eyebrow. "What would that be?"
"If I could spar with you today."
"But what of my sword lesson?"
Marth smiled. "I will be the one conducting it—if that is all right."
Roy jumped to his feet, almost losing his grip on his book. "Of course it's all right, sire. I'd be honoured."
Marth gestured to the door. "Shall we?"
It was just supposed to be a simple sword lesson, wherein he showed Marth what he had learned thus far and have a go at putting it to use against him. And he did, and Marth was pleased at how much Roy had learned in such a short time, proving him to be a natural at the sword.
So how the hell did he have Marth pinned against the wall, their noses almost touching, with nothing but their blades separating them? And why was he focused not on their swords, but on Marth's lips?
Focus, Roy, focus!
Unfortunately, Roy lost his footing and, due to how close he was to Marth, ended up embarrassing himself anyway.
He had just kissed the prince of Altea.
He pulled away as soon as he realized this, seven seconds too late. Backed up a good distance, nearly dropped his sword, turned as red as his hair. Marth had his fingers to his mouth and a look of surprise, and Roy couldn't blame him. His knight—his male knight!—just kissed him.
"S-Sire, I did not mean—"
The lips were there again, but this time, Roy was not the one who moved. In fact, he didn't remember when Marth moved closer, exactly. There was no exaggeration when they said the prince was quick on his feet.
It was then that everything started to make sense. Why Marth had decided to teach the lesson today instead of Cain. He had planned for this to happen!
"Sire," Roy said, nearly breathless, "this wasn't supposed to happen—"
Fingers pressed against his lips and Marth chuckled.
"To you, perhaps. I planned for this to happen from the start."
"Then you knew?"
Marth nodded. "You don't have to say anything about it if you don't feel comfortable doing so."
Roy knew from the gossip around the castle that the prince was not open about his feelings in regards to much, especially if it was extremely personal.
Marth flushed. "If you are not comfortable speaking about declarations of love."
"I don't believe it is wise of us to be open about our…feelings, sire."
Marth grabbed Roy's hand and pulled him closer, just a little bit closer. Roy didn't even resist.
"Just call me Marth—at least when it's just us."
Roy blinked a few times, and then smiled when Marth kissed him again.