Title: Hello
Florina, Lyndis, Wil, Sain, Kent, Hector
Friendship, Angst
Written for StarlitLady, as she requested this from me in January. The lyrics are from Fuel's Shimmer.
Four hellos and one goodbye with Florina.

i. Feeling short of stable

It's not a simple word for her to say, hello, a greeting like any other, a short, quiet word, quite like "greetings" or "salutations" but much shorter, easier to say. It rolls off the tongue, but she finds that she just can't say it, not first. She blames it on her shyness, on her inability to look other people in the eye when they are speaking to her, even though she knows it's rude not to.

But she's dangling from a tree, from this spindly ugly tree half covered in foliage, and bees are buzzing about her head, and when she looks down to see a strange girl around her age, peering up at her with an expression that mirrors uncertainty, confusion, and a smidgen of worry, she can't help the sheepish smile that stretches and lifts her own lips.

"Hello," she manages without a stammer, with her voice strong and true and not half as embarrassed-sounding as she feels.

ii. She says she's ashamed

"I don't bite, you know." His voice is warm and friendly, his demeanor the sort of polite that aristocrats laugh at, but it makes the village girls swoon. He keeps his distance, but waves now and again at her from across the courtyard.

She's not sure when it all started, when he got it into his head that she was a friend, that she would be open or receptive to such wild ideas as being friends with the sort of boy who keeps a bow and arrow on him at all times, ready to shoot something out of the sky. All too often she has dreamed that that something would be Huey, would be herself. And the thought haunts her dreams, sometimes.

She mumbles a reply to him and leaves, but the next morning, as she is flying over the battlements, her gaze drifts downward, and there he is, watching her fly, and she thinks, for just a moment, that maybe he isn't so bad, not really, and when she comes back around the same way, she raises her hand in a silent greeting to him, and manages a wavering smile.

iii. And can I be a friend

Two knights are conversing in the corridor ahead, arguing good-naturedly about something or another. She pauses on her way through, hopes they don't see her, but they do, and they recognize her.

One of them gives her a smile, while the other nods vaguely in her direction and continues to argue his side of things.

She wonders if that's it, if they'll expect her to greet them because she knows them, because they know her, because she's friends with Lady Lyn, and Lady Lyn knows them, if—

She forces herself to keep walking, to walk past them, and as she passes she realizes she really doesn't have to say much, doesn't have to stop to talk. It'd be rude to ignore them, to walk by without saying anything, and so she gives them a squeaky, "Hello," as she passes, barely managing to look their way as she says it.

"Hello, loveliest Florina," says the first cheerfully, and the second elbows him in the side, hard.

"Good morning," says he.

And she continues on her way without looking back. Now, that wasn't so hard, now was it? she asks herself.

iv. Love is for fools who fall behind

"Look, Florina," he says, his brusque voice tinged with annoyance that he's attempted to bury, "I love you, you know that…"

"I love you, too," she murmurs, trying to assure him, trying to do anything to keep him here, to keep him with her, to keep herself from inadvertently ruining the best thing she's got going for her right now, because surrounded by war and chaos and the threat of death every day, it's hard—hard to live, hard to breathe, hard to keep going, sometimes, and he's always there with a offhand comment or a smile to help her; she doesn't think she can bear to lose that, to lose him. She does love him. "Very much."

They're sitting with their knees touching, and her head is bent over, studying the legs of his trousers, the edge of his cape as it flutters against his leg with the wind.

"It's just… I…"

It's uncharacteristic of him to stammer, to stutter, to get flustered and confused, to feel or be out of sorts. It piques her curiosity, and she looks up, just a flicker of her eyes peering through her lashes, and she catches a smile from his lips. She can't look away, not for a long moment, but then she does, out of fear or insecurity or awkwardness—she's not sure.

"You have pretty—I like your eyes," he says, and she doesn't think she's ever heard him sound quite so sincere about a little compliment like that. "I just wish I could see them more often."

She finds herself blushing, and he reaches a hand up to her chin, and tips it up until she's looking at him.

She smiles shyly. "Hello."

"See," he whispers, his smile even bigger than before, "that's not so bad."

And she realizes that no, it isn't, not really.

v. All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade

She hasn't heard from Lyn in years. Her best friend went to the plains, back to her home, and she hadn't bothered to write. She'd simply left one night without telling anybody that she was going. Florina knows she will always regret not going out there, just once, to check on her, to see if she was okay, to see what had become of strong, proud Lyndis. So in her mind, Lyn is living on the plains, alive and healthy and well, and she thinks that she will always be that way.

Wil didn't live for very long after the war. She heard it from Serra who heard it from Erk, who heard it from Lady Louise; six months with Rebecca before the effects of his wounds took him. She wonders if maybe she could have been a better friend to him. If only her fear had not gotten in her way.

Sain is her brother-in-law, living in Ilia with Fiora, and it is on occasion that they write her. His handwriting is elegant compared to her sister's scrawl, and it makes her laugh to read his exaggerated spin on their "adventures" together. The letter Florina sent them weeks ago will not arrive until it is too late.

She has never heard anything from Kent, not since she'd parted ways with both he and Lyn and Sain, not since she'd come to Ostia. Rumors came to her ears through Serra, but even Serra did not know for certain what had happened to him. Perhaps he was with Lyn, for he had always fancied her something fierce, or maybe he took up a less demanding job. Nobody knows for certain. She simply hopes that he is happy, wherever he is, whatever he is doing.

Hector is in a meeting. Lilina is with Serra. And Florina can't be angry about her husband or daughter or friend being with her, because she had been the one to order Serra to take Lilina and go, and Hector, well, he had never been able to make much time for her, now had he? It isn't his fault; she doesn't blame him. It's all a part of being a marquess, and she knows now why Lyn had fled at first opportunity, before her grandfather's corpse had even gone cold. She watches the ceiling and waits, waits for what she knows is coming, because it's been coming for so long that she's certain her end is inevitable. But death is a personal, private thing, like praying, and it has always been her preference to go it alone from there, anyway.

It is, in her last moments, before her airway becomes too restricted, before her body gives out on her completely, that she chokes out a soft, quiet, "Goodbye."

She knows nobody can hear it, but her goodbye is still for them, not for her.

She knows the next word she will utter will be hello.