The music had stopped, a blinding crescendo of drums and string and one sole soldier playing a fabulous lute, and in the centre of the minor celebration, Olivia knelt into a demure bow as her dance came to an end. Immediately the crowd about her laughed and cheered, clapping for her performance and bringing a heady rush of pleasure and exhilaration to the breathless dancer. She returned their smiles happily as she brushed her hair back and out of her face, and the moment she stepped back many of her comrades came forward as the impromptu band that had been formed from other soldiers struck up the music again.

Stifling a laugh as she saw Skye playfully dragging a protesting Chrom into the circle of other soldiers who had joined in the fun, Olivia gracefully stepped further back and out of the revelry to get her bearings and take a few moments to recuperate. The dance had been more difficult than she had thought despite her weeks of practise, and the blazing bonfire that had been at her back the entire time hadn't made it any easier on her. Sweat had beaded on her forehead and arms, and she needed a few minutes of peace and quiet before she had the energy to return for a second round.

Even as she slipped away from the wide circle that had been formed in the centre of camp, she could spot several couples being cajoled into joining the growing dance. Lissa already had yanked Donnel by both hands into the middle of the entire thing, and the poor village boy was blushing to the roots of his impossibly curly hair as he tried to argue her laughing guidance. Just to their left Sumia was smiling shyly as Frederick politely bowed his head and held out his hand in offer for her to join him, and after a moment she rested her palm against his and led him lead her out with the others, a bright blush reddening her cheeks even as she beamed like the sun.

Contrasting Sumia's willingness in being led out to dance, Cordelia was shaking her head as Gaius playfully nudged her arm and nodded to the chaos of the spinning bodies and laughing friends. The redheaded pegasus knight was smiling in indulgence but showed no interest in joining them, even as the orange-haired thief prodded her with a sly smirk. Olivia wouldn't have believed it had she not seen it, but as the pegasus knight turned to reiterate her point to the irrepressible sweet-lover, Gaius popped something into his mouth, and firmly pulled Cordelia against him for a kiss.

The knight stiffened in honest shock, but before she could either push him away or return the embrace, Gaius released her and smirked cheekily at her. Cordelia raised a hand to her lips, a fierce blush rising in her face, and then she laughed softly as she pulled the piece of chocolate Gaius had slipped so keenly past her lips free. The brigand just shrugged at her playfully accusing glare, and as he opened his mouth to make an excuse or another smart remark, she popped the sweet on his tongue and burst into laughter at his shocked expression.

Unable to help herself, Olivia giggled too at their intimate moment and turned away from them to complete her escape. There were many other couples laughing and enjoying themselves, though admittedly none were as bold in their show of affection as the two she had just spotted. It made her heart give a quick throb in her chest as she returned to the pine tree not a stone's throw away from the party where she had stashed her canteen and towel. She hadn't seen her partner during her last dance, which had been strange even though he was not one for such kind of celebrations, and she knew had spotted him earlier in the crowd amongst her friends during her performance.

The Feroxi swordsman never missed one of her dances, no matter how short, or long, her performances sometimes ran. While he always faded into the crowd and made himself look uninterested and bored, she always felt his stare on her the second she began to dance. He was always there, always watching, and she felt more than a little disappointed that he hadn't been there to see her last number. Sighing as she approached the pine, she mused inwardly and with great petulance as she brushed her sweat dampened braids from her neck, 'And I had worked so hard on that one for him, too...'

Her heart stopped as she realized someone had beat her to her hiding place, and for a moment she stiffened with fright as the tall figure stood up a bit straighter from where they had been leaning against the sturdy and old pine. All too quickly that nervousness faded, and a smile curled at her lips as she realized why Lon'qu had left near the end of her performance.

He knew her routine well, and he knew she always needed a long drink and a slow walk around camp to cool herself down before she could return to the party and dance again. The lateness of the night and the size of the party made it risky to walk alone on the borders of their camp, which was her usual route, so he had slipped away to wait for her, and join her as had become his custom when her performances ran into the evening hours.

Smiling at him in greeting, Olivia didn't have to pick up her towel from the grass as he had it already in hand, along with her canteen. He returned her smile with a little nod, and she could see his lips curling upwards just slightly before he handed her towel wordlessly to her. A bright red hue that almost glowed in the dark covered his face, and she knew she was blushing just as badly as she accepted it from him and rubbed it gratefully against her neck and shoulders. She couldn't help but tease him as he next gave her the canteen, "I was wondering where you ran off to in the middle of my performance... I thought maybe you were bored."

Lon'qu shook his head slowly, and his eyes fixed firmly, intensely on hers as he rebuked her gentle teasing with a firm word and a hint of a scowl at her playful assumption, "I never tire of watching you dance. However, it is too late in the night to go walking alone, and I did not want you to go off without me. I thought it would be best to meet you here."

Feeling her face reddening even more at his compliment, blunt as it was, Olivia was glad to hide her smile as she took a long and refreshing pull from her canteen. The water was cold and soothing, and she sighed gratefully as she nearly downed the entire thing in her thirst. Using the small container to continue shielding her smile from him, she thanked him sheepishly but with a soft giggle, "Thank you. I thought it was something along those lines."

This time he nodded, and the firmness in his expression melted away a little to be replaced by that quiet, hesitant gentleness she had fallen so desperately in love with. It was so rare that he let down his guard in general, but Olivia had made the pleasant discovery that she could shatter his shield at will with a simple word or gesture now that they had grown so close. His voice had softened by several degrees as he answered her quietly as his gaze turned warm and as soft as his words, "You're welcome."

Draping the damp towel over her shoulders, Olivia couldn't suppress a little shiver as the cool autumn wind blew through her hair and reminded her cruelly that she had forgotten her cloak in her tent. Scowling at her forgetfulness, she pulled the towel a bit tighter about herself even though its dampness only worsened her cold instead of making her warm. "I knew I'd regret forgetting my cloak..."

Wordlessly, Lon'qu pulled the towel away from her and tossed it carelessly to the grass. He then removed the canteen from her hands, likewise discarding it with the towel. Before she could question him he was shrugging from his cloak, and she gave a startled squeak as he dropped it unceremoniously about her shoulders and clasped it around her front in a swift movement.

Surprised by the gesture but touched nonetheless, Olivia wrapped his cloak a little bit tighter about herself before she glanced up and smiled shyly at him. To her great amusement and pleasure he immediately blushed and averted his gaze from hers, and then set off on the walk without her. Laughing, Olivia jogged to catch up to him, even more pleased that she had embarrassed him to the point where he had to walk away from her.

Lon'qu's pace was slow and steady, just as he knew she liked it when she went on her little jaunts to cool down from the exertion of such a fast-paced dance. Matching her stride to his and grateful that he hadn't outright quit because of her teasing, Olivia apologized with a giggle she couldn't really suppress, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be mean. I'm just glad that you're here."

He grunted in a noncommittal manner in answer, brushing his hand errantly through his dark hair as they walked side by side in the furthest reaches of camp. Still, he was blushing, but that trademark embarrassed scowl of his had lessened into something almost sheepish, and it eased Olivia completely as she knew she was forgiven. He didn't really mind her, as he knew she was flying high from her successful performance and was always a little more bold than usual whenever she finished a dance.

They walked in silence, comfortable and at peace as the followed boundaries of their campsite. Though it was dark and the glow of the campfire they had left was distant to them now, Olivia had never felt more safe. It was a strange sort of confidence that she only possessed when in the midst of a dance that had sucked her completely in, but she knew exactly why she felt nothing but security when he was nearby.

More times than she wanted to count Lon'qu had saved her life on the battlefield, and she had rarely had the chance to return the favour, but never did he complain. He was always at her side, protecting her as she did the best she could to help her allies pick themselves up, and she always trusted him to have his sword at the ready when she turned her back on the enemy. He had never let her down, had never let her get anything worse than a superficial scrape, and she cherished his fierce protectiveness as much as it sometimes exasperated her.

She couldn't number the times she had returned to her swordsman to find blood staining his clothes, or the hours she had to spend scolding and berating him into letting her at least tie a bandage on him if he wouldn't go see a healer. Thankfully she didn't need to be so sharp with him now, as he had begun simply letting her have her way in doctoring his wounds. She admitted she had become much more proficient at it, though she didn't like the fact that she was only good at healing because he so frequently was putting himself in harm's way for her.

Still, as they walked together in the dark, his cloak resting heavily on her shoulders to guard her from the cool autumn breeze... She didn't mind it too much. His protectiveness only showed her how much he honestly cared for her, and since he was just as painfully shy as she was, she had to accept what overtures of affection he could manage.

He remained silent at her side, and risking a peek out of the corner of her eye, Olivia felt her heart skip a beat as she noticed the contented smile curling his lips. It wasn't often that she saw him drop his guard of his own volition, and she cherished every instant of warmth he showed her in that clumsy but earnest way of his. Pulling his cloak firmly about her front, she nuzzled against the stiff fabric and let out a soft sigh of contentment as the scent of steel and grass flooded her senses and soothed her nerves.

He heard her, as he always did, and he stopped mid-step to turn and look at her with concern darkening his gaze. She froze the second he did, and her cheeks immediately burned red again as she realized he had misinterpreted the sound she had made. His hand twitched at his side, a reflex gesture that he always fought when he had the urge to reach out and touch her battling with his phobia of physical contact, but after a long moment he finally did take her wrist in his hand as he asked her quietly, "What ails you? Do you wish to return to the others?"

"N-No, I... I'm all right... I just... was sighing with contentment." Olivia hastened to explain, but her voice caught as his fingers tightened gently about her wrist in a caring squeeze that was quite unlike him. Normally she had to initiate contact, and it was rare that she did so unless she was caught up in some excitement or fear brought on by combat. Both of them were simply too shy to really touch as often as other couples were able to, and while she didn't mind it so much, every time she felt his skin on hers her heart simply pounded out of control and made it difficult to speak coherently. Stumbling over her words, Olivia felt her blush rising all the way to the roots of her hair as she blurted out before she could think better of it, "It's... not often that we... get to be alone together like this."

Lon'qu blinked twice, surprised by her courage, and for an instant as he didn't react Olivia wondered if she had said too much. Then he sighed, and the stiffness in his body faded away as he crossed his arms over his chest and agreed quietly, "That is quite true... It is not often we have moments to ourselves in the midst of the camp."

Then he took a step forward, his eyes softening as he reached up and gently brushed a curl that had escaped her braid behind her ear. She gasped quietly as his fingertips whispered against her cheek, but before she could ask what had brought on his courage to touch her, he was leaning down and pressing his lips against hers.

Sense and thought left her mind, and she felt her feet growing roots as his left hand moved down her cheek to her neck, tilting her face further up to his. His mouth was soft, gentle in his kiss, almost as if he was scared he'd break her if he dared to put strength into the show of affection.

Before Olivia could think, she was standing on tiptoe to make up for their difference in height, pushing back hesitantly as she took courage from him. His hand grew suddenly tense on her neck, and she lifted her arms to curl them about his shoulders to better her leverage on him. It was the first time he'd allowed her to embrace him, and every sense she possessed was overloaded with the newness of it.

She'd always known Lon'qu was a tall man, but as he leaned down to better accommodate her height she was surprised by how large he seemed to her suddenly. His chest was broad as she leaned into it, and his hands were callused and strong as he trapped her against him. Yet he handled her like the most fragile of substances, and she understood it wasn't his phobia of women that made his kiss so hesitant but something deeper and more painful.

Then he was pulling away, sighing shakily as she loosened her hold on him and made impulsively to drop her arms and step away. She was surprised then when he tightened his hold on her waist, his hand still on her throat as he spoke in a fierce whisper, "Stay, Olivia. Do not draw away. I will... never be able to do more than this if you leave me now."

His words touched her, but she could feel him quivering as he held her against his chest in his strong arms. She wanted to stay there more than she could put into words, but not if it was to cause him to fly apart. Frowning, she locked her gaze on his as she answered in a weak murmur, "B-But you're shaking..."

"As are you." Lon'qu pointed out gruffly, and to Olivia's great surprise she realized she indeed was trembling as he held her. She wasn't sure why, as she felt no fear or anxiety, just an all consuming burn that made her blood hot and breathing quick. He breathed in deep, closing his eyes as he tried to take in everything at once to lessen the pressure growing in his chest. He loved her, he knew that, and to hear her soft and demure murmur of disappointment that he couldn't be with her more often had hurt him deeper than any wound he had ever earned in battle. Yet he hadn't known how to give her comfort, hadn't been sure of what to do to soothe her, and his body had found the answer for him before he'd been ready.

Now as he held her close, trying to fight the instinctive need to push her away and stand by himself, his body seemed ready to come apart at the seams. He liked holding her, liked it more than anything, but the sensation of her frail form being sheltered in his arms brought back bloody images and painful yells and shouts that haunted his dreams and shredded his heart. But it wasn't Ke'ri he was failing, it wasn't that young vibrant woman who had made his life bearable in the slums anymore, he was watching Olivia die as his sword kept falling short of keeping her safe.

Olivia's fingers curled in the back of his shirt, and he felt her pressing her face into his chest as her hold suddenly became tight. Lon'qu stiffened, unsure of what had prompted the change, but suddenly it didn't matter as she spoke softly, shakily, "I know that I'm not the strongest woman in the army. I can't be a frontline fighter like Skye, or like Panne, or Cordelia. All I'm good at is dancing, and my swordplay needs a lot of work... but I... I will become stronger. I'll train and train until I bleed... until I can stand at your side and keep you just as safe as you keep me. I can't keep my promise now, not like I am right this minute, but I swear... I won't make you lose me."

"I do not need you to be like Skye, or Panne, or Cordelia." Lon'qu scolded her quietly, shaking his head as he allowed her to hold him as tightly as she needed. Her trembling had increased along with her grip, proving her upset at her weakness. He sighed in soft exasperation, barely able to believe she would put such pressure on herself yet still strangely unsurprised. Gently he pulled her back, tracing the shape of her tears with his knuckles as he tilted her head up so their gazes could lock as he explained wearily, "I just need you... to be you. My fears... my insecurities... they are not burdens you should take upon your shoulders."

A look he didn't recognize crossed her face, so stark and fierce that for an instant Lon'qu had no idea what to think. Then she was pulling him down, her hands reaching to cup his face before she pressed her lips to his this time. Her kiss was different than his, loaded with emotion and strength that he hadn't been able to show her in his clumsy attempt to give her reassurance.

Confidence tinged with desperation forced her to shed her insecurities, her shyness, and Olivia clung to him as she forced his lips apart and slipped her tongue inside. He gasped in alarm, and for a horrible moment she thought he would shove her away. Then his hands became tight and firm, and he pulled her hard against him as he answered her passion with his own. His kiss became possessive and hot, and Olivia wilted with a weak moan as he nearly pulled her clean off her feet in his desire to hold her tighter.

Her fingers tangled in his hair, and his left hand slid down to hold her by the small of her back while the right touched and stroked the back of her neck. For a man who had never touched a woman he knew exactly where to hold her, and Olivia gasped for air when he finally pulled away when the need to breathe overcome his desire to kiss her. He was panting, breathless and wild, and trying to keep her thoughts together before he kissed her again and made her lose her focus, she whispered against his lips, "I love you, Lon'qu. Your burdens are my burdens. I want to share everything with you, even if it's painful. Especially if it's painful. That's the whole point of being together, isn't it?"

Lon'qu heard himself laughing, a weak and defeated sound at her ferocity, at her truthful words that cut him to the quick and reminded him what he really had been seeking from her the first time he had the strength to touch her. He wanted the intimacy of being with her more than he feared it, and the thought made his knees weak and his hands tight. "Yes, you're right... You are absolutely right. I am sorry, it seems I did not understand such a simple thing... I... love you, Olivia."

She could count how many times he had uttered those words to her on one hand, and just as it had every single time beforehand, her heart filled with pure and unadulterated joy. Riding high on that feeling and letting it take her away, Olivia gathered every ounce of her courage and stammered, "Y-You left before you could see my last dance... Would it be okay if I... showed it to you now before we go back? I... really wanted you to see it."

"H-Here...?" Lon'qu began, just as fumbling in his words as the dancer before him, but as he saw the courage, the desperation hiding beneath her nerves in her eyes, he found himself unable to protest any further. She was pushing herself beyond her limits tonight, much more so than usual, and the fact that he was the reason why she was being so forthcoming both exasperated and pleased him. He nodded as he accepted the knowledge that she had him completely wrapped around her finger even if she would never use him like she could, "Very well, if that is what you wish. Just take care, as this location is likely not the best place for a dance performance."

Smiling sheepishly, Olivia wisely hid the fact that the area behind the pine was her favourite practise place in camp as she unclasped his cloak and shrugged out of it. The light of the campfire barely reached them, but she had more than enough light to know the footing would be fine for her routine. Plus, with Lon'qu's steady eyes on her, she knew she wouldn't miss a single step. He had an odd way of bringing out the worst of her shyness while likewise filling her with the sweetest of confidence.

Counting down silently, Olivia took in a deep breath as she met his expectant eyes. He was leaning back against a nearby tree, arms crossed in front of his chest, and his expression was focussed and intense. He always watched her as if it would be the last time, and taking pleasure in knowing he was her only audience, Olivia began to dance.

Each step was measured carefully, bringing her forwards and to the side, and she lifted her arms as she let the music that had been playing earlier guide her movements now. She remembered every note, every single beat and silence, and she used the memory to her advantage now. As she turned and wove, moving like silk through water, Olivia half-closed her eyes in concentration as Lon'qu's stare caressed her skin.

Her heartbeat echoed in her ears, timed perfectly as the tempo of her steps grew faster. She spun in a tight circle, growing more and more aware of the flush in her cheeks and the warmth in the pit of her stomach. He was still watching her, even if she couldn't see him she knew he hadn't let his eyes even blink for half of an instant. She didn't know how often she had danced with him in the audience, how many times she had met his gaze in the crowd, but it was different now.

It was just him. Just the Feroxi swordsman who had eyes for her and her alone, whether or not she was in the midst of a performance. There was something strangely pleasant in having him be the only one to see her move like this now, so free of restraints and full of confidence. It was almost erotic. As if he could see beyond her clothes, into her skin, into her very soul.

Lon'qu held his breath as she moved, watching as her long sleeves whirled and clung to her hands every time she spun. She seemed strangely ethereal, like a goddess come down to the earth as she danced to no music, and he felt his heart give an anxious squeeze as he realized she wasn't dancing for just anyone now. The brief glimpse he had seen of her performance before he had left to wait for her at the pine had been completely different than what she was showing him now, though the steps and posture were the same.

It was her manner that had changed. While she was always more confident, more graceful and beautiful when she allowed herself to drown in her dancing, there was a new edge to her. Every time their eyes met when she turned back to face him, her lone audience member, there was something molten and breathless in them. She was showing him something she couldn't with her words, with her touch, and he understood as she reached the crescendo of her performance and came to an abrupt but perfect halt.

They stood in silence, Olivia breathing heavily as she tried to slow the pounding of her heart and the dizziness in her head as their eyes locked and remained fixed on each other's. She wondered if he had known all along how hard she had worked on that dance for him, if he understood what she had wanted to tell him when the words stuck in her throat and caused her face to redden. Somehow, as a tiny smile curled at his lips, as his eyes softened and he gave her a single and silent nod, she knew without a doubt that he had. That her message had gone through, and he knew, without words having to be spoken, just what it was she wanted to say.

This is me. Shy, weak, clumsy and determined. Elegant, confident, and beautiful. You bring this out in me. You make me what I am. And this is what belongs to you. I love you. With all that I am in this moment, and everything I will be in the days to come, I love you. Always.

With three easy strides Lon'qu cleared the distance between them, and he tugged her firmly into his arms. Forgetting that she was exhausted, that it hurt to stand after so much dancing, that she probably needed that towel again, she melted into his chest and wound her arms firmly around his waist. His heart pounded against her cheek, and his hold was strong, almost possessive, and she smiled as she relaxed happily into his embrace. He was her partner, though he never would join her in the centre of the floor. He was her only audience, even if there was a crowd of hundreds with their eyes on her. He was the man she loved, and as he held her she heard the words he couldn't speak in answer to her silent declaration through her dance, and she glowed with pleasure, with completion as if he had whispered them into her ear through his embrace.

This is me. Scarred, battered, and torn apart beyond repair. You have healed what could not be healed, and brought me peace after a lifetime of chaos and pain. My sword is yours. My life is yours. I... am yours. Even after death tears us apart, and my sword can no longer protect you... I shall love you. Always.

Lon'qu held her tightly, cherishing the quick breathing on his neck, her hands clutching him close and her small body pushing so warmly into his chest. She peeked up shyly at him, a silent question in her eyes as her face pinked to match her rose-coloured hair, and he smiled unconsciously as he knew what she was waiting for. Brushing his fingers along the colour of her blush, Lon'qu spoke quietly, firmly, "Well done."

Ducking her head as he continued to stare, Olivia had to press her face into his chest as her blush increased and her heart picked up speed again. She felt dizzy, though it wasn't because of the dance anymore, and her skin prickled in delight as he clasped her so tightly, so intimately to him. She wondered if he'd ever feel fear in embracing her ever again, but she didn't much mind the thought if it meant she could hold him to her heart's content whenever they were alone. Still, that gaze of his that penetrated her clothes and skin made her feel as awkward as it did happy, and she mumbled reflexively into his shirt, "Stop staring..."

"I'm afraid that is one wish I will never be able to grant." Lon'qu answered with a light chuckle, and the laughter deepened when she pulled back to gaze at him with a mixture of incredulity and shock at his candour and amusement. Releasing her but catching her hand, the swordsman kissed her fingers and spoke quietly without releasing his grip, "Until the day I die, I will always be watching you. Whether it be in battle, when you dance, or when we are walking side by side... My eyes will forever be fixed upon you. You will need to get used to my staring, Olivia."

"W-Well... If it's you... I guess I can try to get used to it..."

"I thought you would say that."

AN:

... I... don't know what happened, but... It was fun. XD It seemed so different than my usual fare, but strangely familiar. I liked it, but I don't know how well I did. I know I screwed with characterization in a major way, though, and that concerns me. -sigh- It seems harder to write for pre-established characters than it is for Skye or Cail, since they're almost like partial OCs when it comes to writing the Avatar who's personality is sort of already there but able to be expanded upon in writing... Meh. It came out the way it came out, and I'm mostly satisfied with it.

I hope I did a good enough job for the request, and I slipped in some Gaius and Cordelia, as was likewise asked for. (Heehee!) DonnyxLissa and Sumia and Frederick were my own additions, mostly because I got a huge laugh in thinking of Lissa dragging the poor boy into a dance, protests be damned. She's that kind of girl, after all.

Anyway, if there are any more requests, be it pairings or general ideas or moments in-game or out, please continue to throw them at me. As I said before, I can't promise to do them all, or to your satisfaction, but I do like having new ideas to draw from and it's always fun to please a reader!

Mood: Amused

Listening To: "Into The Night" - Nickelback ft Santana

~ Sky