Disclaimer: I own nothing except my imagination and doubtful skills
WARNINGS: Major spoilers for the ending of TW2:AotK game. Might contain OOCness.
A/N: I always spare Aryan La Valette.
The negotiations in Loc Muinne came to an end. Temeria didn't vanish from the Continent's map while John Natalis kept his regent position. The veteran was delighted by Blue Stripes' captain's patriotism as the man handed Anais to him during the meeting at Loc Miunne. Within hours after the event he announced Roche as the future queen's personal bodyguard.
For a time being Anais La Valette was taken back to La Valette's castle. The girl was visibly delighted by coming back home and meeting her remaining family. Aryan did his best to hide his wounds and worries from her. Yet, even if happy and relieved by youngest family member well being, his smiles and gestures of comfort were forced and pained.
As a royal child's guardian, Roche had to leave Blue Stripes unit, leaving the leadership in Ves' hands. His decision shook the whole military structure in it's foundations, but Roche's word remained unchanged. Natalis decided to trust once more one of his most efficient soldiers.
Every since becoming a personal guard Roche rarely got any news from the 'front lines', even about no. 1 public enemy and his personal nemesis Iorveth. At the castle the days were slowly passing by. To Roche's relief, Aryan turned out to be better swordsman than he previously estimated, hence both men became regular sparring partners. There was even some sort of makeshift comradeship forming between them as they both shared the same goal – keeping Anais safe.
During their duels the future queen would often sit in safe distance from them and watch curiously as the men were exchanging blows. Her eyes were glimmering with excitement when their swords clashed against each other. Those particular sparks and eagerness to learn how to fight made Roche proud, while Aryan's face was stern and long upon a discovery that the girl preferred to sleep with a special forces dagger now, abandoning her favourite dolls.
As a bedroom Roche got a small, stuffy, windowless room right next to future queen accommodation. It was nothing fancy, seemingly an ex-closet of some sort. But the ex-captain preferred the almost suffocating room over highly luxury room. He rarely spent more time there than mere few hours – mostly to just to doze off at night - while hard as rock bunk prevented him from being overly lazy. From time to time even, when he woke up in the middle of a night, not yet awake or fully aware of his own surrounding - Vernon felt just like good old times. The only thing missing in this cluttered, dusty pitch black idyll of his, was constant, rhythmic breathing of his men and never-ending, pained moaning of the captured.
One night, however, a scream tore the silence. Roche immediately picked up the high-pitched tone of the future queen. Within seconds he rushed to her side. His sword bare, ready to face any threat present in the queen's quarter. Yet apart of Anais the room was empty.
"what happened my queen?" Vernon asked rushing over the bed's edge, kneeling in front of the child, placing his hands on her petit shoulders. The girl was trembling like a leaf. Anais immediately embraced him, clutching to his yellow-green uniform, burring her small head in the crook of his neck. Girl's soft sobbing turned into loud wailing. Roche's was kneeling before the future queen, petrified – not from fear, but from the simple fact that he didn't know how to react for such behavior. Should he shrug the child off of himself? Embrace her? Console her? The man tried to question the girl what was wrong, yet she didn't answer. For the first time in his military career, the captain didn't force the confession, he waited for the story to unfold letting the girl sniff to his shoulder.
"Thank you Roche" Aryan admitted the next morning as they both met in a castle's kitchen. Roche was having breakfast, a oatmeal so thick that a spoon could stand upright on it's own, while Aryan, obviously, must had come downstairs only to meet his sister's bodyguard in private.
"for what, my lord?" Roche asked dumbly stuffing his mouth with spoonful of the thick mass.
"for calming down Anais yesterday. She told me all about it during our breakfast. I thought that you weren't capable of such empathy" The young man answered sitting down next to the bodyguard. Immediately another bowl appeared on the table, yet the baron refused the cook's offer.
"so did I" ex-captain admitted "anyway if I can ask you, what was the reason for her odd behavior? I've checked every corner, every window of her room – everything was clean and untouched. No one was in the room that night"
"monsters" Aryan simply replied
"monsters, m'lord?" Roche questioned confused.
"every since she was a younger, Anais was afraid of monsters. Maybe it was my fault - " the baron mused "– I've always managed to persuade our nanny to tell us bed time stories about Geralt of Rivia so, whenever or not, she and Boussy were forced to listen about gruesome creatures master Geralt had been facing on daily basis - " Aryan winced to the memory, there was a while of silence as he lost himself in his thoughts "- anyway…" he continued "-Anais knows that you can oppose any of humans and non-humans menace alike. 'with just 'whoosh! Whoosh!' of a sword' she claims. To my utter sadness, Anais saw it for her very eyes. But you're no monster slayer, Roche and she knows it. As long as Geralt was with us, she felt save but every since he left in a hurry to Nilfgaard her fears re-surfaced"
"but why didn't she tell me that?"
"Maybe because she holds you in high regard and doesn't want you to think less or her? maybe because she has a crush on you? I don't know really" Roche almost choked on the porridge.
"pardon?" the man asked flatly.
"why not? You saved her." Aryan laughed at confusion written all over ex-captain's face. "that kind of action deserves woman's trust. At least that's what folk-tales say about that matter"
"folk-tales" Vernon echoed as young baron stood up and left the kitchen.
Roche didn't know how to deal with the whole mess. Monsters… sure they were real and dangerous, but they rarely came so close to the populated area and even if they did, the walls were high and security was tight. There was no way they would turn out as a real threat. While the crush issue… if not handled properly it would turn out to be destructive at least. It's not that Roche didn't encounter the females crushing over him. There were, for example, Ves and Brigida. Both of them had pretty much same reasons as Anais – at some point Roche saved them one way or another. Yet they were grown-up women at which he could bark and set them straight as he pleased if they were too nagging. But Anais was a child, furthermore a future queen. How he could possibly talk her out of such silliness without his usual rudeness?
At night Roche had a hard time sleeping in his 'room'. He was arranging a speech in his mind – a practice he developed during his service to the king Foltest. The words addressed to Anais, on contrary to the speeches to his king, were much softer in tone, spiked up with white lies: that Geralt taught him a trick or two known only to witchers or that he presented Roche a secret weapon against any monstrous spawn as he left. Roche restlessly shifted in his bunk, weighting the sentences, recalling and rearranging words, trying to sound convincing not only to Anais, but also to himself.
"I won't let anything or anyone harm you, m'lady" The man finally said to the dark void of the room. He rolled the sentence on his tongue. It sounded nice – it was a military wise promise he wanted to keep at all cost.
Eventually, when the time came, it was all he said to Anais about that matter.
Oddly enough it was all she needed to hear.
comments, advices, constructive criticism etc. are always welcomed and appreciated!