Tune4Toons: Just to disclaim, this is based on a certain character ending (that someone has beaten me in using, aye yah, but whatever). I've always wanted to try this style after seeing it a bunch of times (and Henry is not an easy one person to write for first of all haha), so here's to that. This idea came to me the moment I saw a certain Henry and Ricken comic on Tumblr, and I just had to ask jusuinegai if I could use her comic scene as a prompt. Seriously guys, check her stuff out! Link's on my profile if you want to see. *promotes*
Henry had no interest in moral causes.
These Shepards must be kidding themselves if they think they can convince him to change his reasonings, but that's just who he is, what he grew up to be. Though so long as there are Risen to kill, he won't mind playing along either way.
The rest of the Shepards scatter throughout the camp as Henry sets his tent away from the rest. Doesn't take long to hear a plague of whispers spread like wildfire.
But that's okay, he tells himself. He's heard worse. Felt worse too.
Tome tucked under his cloak, he flings open the tent flaps ready to go, yet in that same second in front of him, a short figure wearing a pointed mage's hat half his body size stumbles backwards onto the ground. The figure peeks up from under the hat brim, and Henry chuckles when he watches a small boy's face pale up when his gaze locks onto the other's.
"I-I am so sorry," the mage boy stutters. "I wasn't trying to do anything, I swear!"
Or maybe this kid could amuse him instead.
Henry laughs. "That's okay—"
But before he can say so, the mage boy staggers up onto his feet and dashes away. Like a lost puppy, Henry muses to himself. He watches as the boy's long robes kick up a dust trail behind him. Then he chuckles.
Maybe joining the Shepards wasn't such a bad decision after all.
"I need you out on the field today, Henry," Robin tells him, but the rest of the his words became background noise to Henry's ears.
He doesn't mind having Robin instructing him around though; it's already interesting enough to watch the Shepards be guided by a Plegian for a tactician. As long as he gets to blow up a couple of Risen though, he's good to go. He watches as his hands swirl around the map laid out in front of them inside the big tent. It's the first time he's been to a strategy meeting. So boring though.
"I also need you to stick close by to Ricken," he continues. "Make sure you're covering for him and he'll cover you, especially when you two head near the cliffs here."
Robin nods. "I'm pairing you guys up for this one. Rocky place, so stay on high ground if you can. Snipers will be near you guys, but you two are covering for them too."
Soon they hear tent flaps fling open behind them followed by a breeze blowing in and the sound of footsteps. Robin glances over Henry's shoulder and smiles. "And there he is. Ricken, this is your new partner. Did you say hi yet?"
Turn around, and there stands a wide-eyed boy staring at him from under his giant mage's hat.
Henry laughs. "You're the one who was at my tent, right?"
No answer, only Ricken sputtering out "B-but—" to Robin only to have his stern stare keep him back.
Ricken, Henry repeats in his head.
Looks like this meeting won't be so boring after all.
How lucky of him to find an entire ditch of dead Risen today.
Henry hops into a hole about twenty metres away from camp, immediately grabbing arms and legs while examining their sizes and weight. Soon he hears a voice call out from behind.
"What are you doing there?"
Sighing, he dusts off his cloak before picking up a leg he finds laying a few centimetres away from a dead body. Turn around and there stood Ricken—but his face pales as he stares wide-eyed.
"Yup!" Grinning, Henry hops out of the ditch and holds the leg out—though Ricken stumbles back to get away from it, face grimacing. Henry chuckles. "See how thin this one is compared to the other Risen? Been meaning to get one of these for my collection, and there's an entire ditch full of them too! You should've seen the eyeballs I used to collect before I lost them. Had to rip them out their sockets, but—"
Then Ricken shakes his head. "No, I meant the blood all over your clothes."
"Don't worry. The blood's not mine—unless it is. The more blood, the better!"
"How could you say that? Look, we need to get you cleaned up. Frederick's gonna kill you if he sees this!"
He grins. "That sounds fun! I'd like to see him try. Besides, all my clothes have blood on it, so it's—"
But Ricken glares at him before he finishes. "We are cleaning the blood out and that's final." Then he grabs Henry's hand as he drags him away from the ditch towards the camp. "You'll give people heart attacks if you walk around looking like this."
"Even better! Come on, Ricken. Let's go see everyone!"
Next thing Henry knows, he steals the lead as he makes a mad dash towards the tents, pulling a screaming Ricken along behind him like children.
Cordelia's covering his left flank, Stahl by his far right, but Henry has Ricken in his direct line of view.
For a rookie, he's a great mage, Henry catches himself thinking in the middle of a raging battlefield. He watches as Ricken whispers a quick chant. Then flames burst out of his hand, blowing an incoming soldier off his feet. Such a serious face he has on too. Sweating. Panting. Though everyone's gritting their teeth now.
A soldier slips past Cordelia and charges in from Ricken's left flank, but he doesn't see him. Everyone hears her call from a distance:
"Guys, watch out!"
But Henry's already on it. He gathers a burst of magic in his hand before shooting it towards the ground beneath the soldier's feet, blowing up the dirt in one big explosion. Ricken gasps, turning to see the soldier's armour flying out of the blast zone before staring at Henry.
"Got him!" Henry says before laughing to himself, watching the blood fly everywhere. Ricken turns around and mouths a thanks to him before returning his focus to the field. Henry sighs.
He doesn't remember fighting ever being as much fun as this before.
Ricken's the first to find a deep cut on Henry's side. Still bleeding out, but Henry doesn't feel the pain. He can't. Nerves never worked there for a long time.
But Ricken continues spouting an endless string of rants as he scrambles to find medical supplies for him. Henry only laughs it off.
Silly Ricken. It doesn't hurt.
It really doesn't.
In the barracks, Henry spots Ricken talking with Nowi in the cafeteria. They'd been talking to each other a lot lately, he's noticed. Sometimes he'd see the two of them laughing about some subject or another. Other times, they'd just be talking—but Ricken always seemed happy when they did.
So instead, Henry's eyes scan the area for Panne. Just her scent is enough to remind him of the wolf who took care of him when he was younger. Funny how many of the Shepards remind him of the animals he once knew. Stahl the cub, Sumia the squirrel, Olivia the birdie.
Ricken the crow.
Too bad they're all gone. The village he used to live in killed his wolf and the rest of the animals have left a long time ago, but that's in the past. The Shepards are his friends now—
"There you are!" he hears Ricken calls out from behind. A glance over his shoulder, and Henry spots him waving goodbye to Nowi before walking up towards him.
"Wanna go practice some magic?"
"What about Nowi? Weren't you talking with her?"
"But I want to hang out with you. Nothing wrong with that, right?"
He smiles. "Sure, why not? Guess that means I can show you this cool new hex I saw Tharja do the other day. She's a little creepy, but she can do some weird stuff. Watch."
With the swipe of a hand, energy transfers from his palm to the drink on the table in front of Chrom. It starts bubbling, soon catching Chrom's attention as he stares into his cup. Then it explodes in his face, water spewing around them as it splashes onto Lissa, Frederick, and Robin—who'd been sitting around the table at the time of the blast. Ricken gasps, Henry chuckling, and Lissa screams as people nearby stare wide-eyed. Whispers quickly bounce around the room.
And soon enough, Henry spots Frederick glaring in their direction.
So Ricken grabs Henry's arm. "Run!" Then they make a mad dash out of the cafeteria. Henry can't help but laugh the entire way as they shove passing people out of the way without any regards to safety. He grins.
Guess having friends doesn't sound too bad after all.
Henry loves kids; they just brighten his day.
But there was something about watching these people from the future join the Shepards that twisted him inside.
The masked woman, Lucina, was the first, introduced to the camp alongside her father Chrom. Before Henry knew it, more appeared. He can remember their arrivals perfectly: Owain charging into Lon'qu to grab him into a hug, Cynthia jumping up and down beside a staring Gaius, Brady crying at the sight of Donnel, and Severa glaring at Stahl upon meeting.
It was an odd feeling for Henry to watch them each claim a father for their own, but he shrugs it off.
Today he spots a short figure in a hood amble around the tents at the camp. Plegian cloak. Just the tactician Henry wants to see, so he walks up towards him.
"Hey Robin, is there something I can do today?"
He grabs the figure's shoulder, but the moment the person turns around—
"Oh, my bad," Henry says, letting go. The figure looks up, and he meets the gaze of a young girl with cropped silver hair—locks so similar to his own, he muses. "You look just like Robin in that hood. Take it off or you'll confuse people."
"You know my father?" she says, but his chest twinges at the sound of her words. So she's not his child either, though the cloak should've given that away already.
But Henry laughs it off. "Of course I know your father. Everyone knows him! He got us through a lot of battles, and no one from the Shepards has died yet, but lots of the enemies did, so I sure had fun."
"So my father really is a great tactician!"
"Yup! You have a great dad, you know. Mine never wanted me. My mom and he left me at an elite boarding school to get rid of me, but I bet Robin was thrilled to see you, right?"
She nods. "Yeah, he was. I'm Morgan, by the way. You?"
"Well Mister Henry, I think you'd make a great father too."
He chuckles. "That's real sweet of you, Morgan, but I'm no dad."
"Is there someone you care about though? Someone you'd want to protect dearly?"
Henry rubs his chin, but soon hears the sound of opening tent flaps. In front of them, Robin steps out in his tent, wearing the same cloak Morgan has on. Morgan gasps. "Father!" And runs up to him.
Henry laughs and soon walks back to his own tent, but a quick glance over his shoulder and he spots Morgan waving at him. He waves back smiling, though he knows he hasn't answered her question yet.
Not that he was sure of an answer himself right now.
"How come you don't open your eyes much?" Ricken asks while the two of them sit near a cliff edge after another one of their battles. In the distance, the sun's descending behind the mountain range, painting the sky with a blend of orange and blue.
"What do you mean? They're open," Henry says, gaze transfixed to the distance. "You think if I stare at the sunset long enough, my eyes will melt off?"
Ricken sighs, but also stares at the sunset himself. Henry glances at him, noticing his somewhat sullen face and the bags under his eyes. Must've been exhausted from their constant battles—or maybe it was because of Henry talking the Plegian soldiers he used to fight for. "They seem more normal than I thought," Ricken had said when he'd spoken about them, not that Henry had cared as much about them either.
"What about flying?" Henry continues. "What do you think that'd feel like?"
Ricken shrugs. "Ask Sumia or Cherche. They fly, don't they?"
"But they're on saddles; it's different." Soon Henry stands up, leaning closer towards the cliff end before glancing down. It's a long drop, more than fifty feet, he guesses. Then he raises his arms up and moves them around like a bird, dangerously inching towards edge where down below is the ruins of an abandoned village. "I mean what if we had wings? How cool would that be? Then we'd be like werrrrr, then whoosh—!"
But Ricken shoots up onto his feet, quickly grabbing Henry's cape and yanking him away from the edge, causing them both to stumble back. "Are you insane?! You could've fallen off!"
"But then I would've been able to fly! Falling's just like flying, 'cept falling has a more permanent destination."
"And if you died?"
"What about it?"
"You're my friend. I don't want you to die."
"That's real sweet, but I don't die easily. Besides, everyone dies eventually, and if I did, hopefully there'll be a lot of blood—"
"No, don't do that either!" Ricken buries his face in his hand. "You know what? I'll tie you up with a cloth to my wrist if I have to. You're not killing yourself and that's final."
Henry can't help but laugh—as if he hasn't done enough of that already. "I won't, don't worry. Besides, I'd rather be here with you."
"Of course! They'd have to kill me before they try to kill you. Oh yes, there will be blood—"
Before he knew it, Ricken grabs his hand— "That's it. We're heading back before you keep this up any longer." —and drags him back down to where the others have gone to. Henry's fingers curl tighter around Ricken's—soon realising he doesn't want to let go. He'd be fine if they stay like this, but he knows Ricken will let go eventually. Just a matter of when.
When did he start thinking like this, he wonders.
He never expected to see today.
Henry spots Ricken leaning against a pillar within the ruins they were in, Nowi beside him tending to his wounds. They'd just finished battling another intense fight, but everyone's holding up fine. Henry smiles as he waves at Ricken, waiting for him to see him and wave back.
But then a small girl with two red braids bursts out of the crowd of Shepards behind him and runs towards Ricken and Nowi.
Ricken and Nowi look up, eyes wide as they glance at each other before staring at the girl. A few seconds later, Henry watches them talk amongst each other, and soon the girl hugs them as they give an embrace back. Henry forces a smile and walks back towards where the rest of the Shepards have gathered. The girl's name is Nah, he overhears from them. Strange name, he thinks.
But for the first time, he forgot what he wanted to say to Ricken.
Another battle. Another bloodbath. Sounds of clanging swords all around him bristle in his ears.
Ricken's fighting beside him again as they both shoot out flurries of flames and lighting bolts at incoming enemies. To his left, one blast and the earth explodes beneath the enemies' feet. To his right, a blast of fire bursts through armoured bodies.
However, he doesn't hear the soldier charging behind him. Ricken turns and spots the enemy, eyes wide as he quickly runs towards Henry.
But he doesn't have time to react before Ricken shoves him. Henry stumbles to the ground, dust kicking up beside him. He watches Ricken stare back at him.
Then it hits.
The soldier swings his axe and knocks Ricken off his feet. Henry only stares. Eyes wide. Blood's there. Flying everywhere. What a beautiful sight, but he can only gasp. That almost hit him; that could have been him. Soon Ricken drops to the floor, collapsed on the dirt. And the scene finally processes in Henry's head.
No, no, no! Henry scrambles to his feet as he crawls in beside Ricken, shaking his body, but he doesn't respond. Laying sprawled on the floor with loose limbs, blood oozing down his head and from his stomach where the axe struck him.
"Ricken…?" Henry says again, this time voice so weak he doesn't believe it's his. Silence. Barely moves. Look down. Blood's there on his hands and on his clothes too, but the feeling's not the same. Not the usual joy he finds whenever it stains, when it smears all over him. It's Ricken's, and he's not waking up. Why isn't he waking up? Why?
A surge of energy flows through Henry as he stares at his friend's body. The soldier, where? Henry glances around. Eyes glare over his shoulder to the axe wielder, the one who attacked Ricken. He smiles the moment his gaze locks onto him. Stands up.
Should've been him instead.
Soon magic explodes out of the palm of Henry's hand as blast of lightning bursts at the soldier. The soldier flies into the air, and Henry shoots a flurry of bolts at him. Die, die, die! Each bolt pieces through his armour and blood spews with every wound. Yes, yes! This is much better, he thinks. Watch it rain down on here like a hail storm across the field.
The soldier then collapses onto the dirt in the middle of the battlegrounds. Henry picks up the closest rock and marches towards the collapsed body. He doesn't speak, only smiles as he straddles the lifeless soldier. Doesn't need to see the soldier's face as he raises the rock above his head.
Then he smashes it onto the soldier's face. Up, then down again. Smashes his face hard, then again, then again until his arms start to ache, but he keeps battering the rock against the soldier's head, grunting as he puts more force into each and every blow.
Rock's above his head again, only this time he feels a weak hand grab his. Henry glances over his shoulder. Eyes widen. Not once does he expect it to be Ricken crawling along the floor with a shaky hand grasping his own. His wound's still open, he realises, when he feels Ricken's blood seeping into his own clothes, but he doesn't care. Ricken shakes his head as he lowers the rock in Henry's hand. Then he collapses as Henry holds him in an embrace.
"Shh, it's alright, Ricken." Henry stokes his head as he lay there in his arms. "I got him good for you, see?"
In the distance, Lissa calls out to them as she runs, but Henry doesn't notice as he keeps a sleeping Ricken close.
Just wake up soon, okay?
Henry spots Olivia walk out of the medical tent as she approaches him by a tree—he can see the bags under her eyes even from a distance. Soon standing beside him, she drops a hand on his shoulder and grasps it tight, but not once does he meet her gaze.
"He's gonna be alright."
Henry puts on a smile, but it doesn't feel the same.
"It's not your fault, Henry. You don't have to hide behind your mask."
He continues staring at the tent when he chuckles. "What mask?"
"There's no need to act anymore."
But all he does is sighs and waves it off.
He's gonna be alright.
Before he knew it, the war ends and he finds himself bored as he sits by a cliff side overlooking the distance. By now, most of the Shepards have left. The married have gone off their merry ways, their kids as well, leaving behind only a few people who decided to stay at the old campsite for a little longer.
Ricken sits down beside Henry as they look up at the night sky. This is going to be their last night together, Henry realises. Strange feeling, but he shrugs it off instead.
"Good to see you live another day," Henry says.
Though Ricken sticks his tongue out. "No thanks to you. Where are you heading after this?"
Shrugs. "Dunno. You're leaving with Nowi though, right?"
"Yeah, we'll be going back to Ylisse for a while. Seems like almost everyone's paired with a kid too."
"Almost everyone." Comes out quieter than he expects, so he smirks. "You guys have fun making a Nah now, okay?"
Then Ricken blushes till his cheeks are almost blood-red. Been a long while since the last time Henry's seen his face like that. A few seconds later, they both burst into laughter like old times, Ricken playfully shoving Henry aside. However, something in his chest ached—faint, but there. Henry sighs and for the first time, he doesn't feel like smiling. Just exhausted.
"Look, a shooting star!" Ricken says, pointing at the sky. "Make a wish!"
Henry glances up. "Why?"
"What do you mean why? When you see a shooting star, you're supposed to make a wish. Like to be taller or stronger or both!"
It takes a while for him to think on it. Such a silly thing to do, but the way Ricken lights up at the sight of it is enough for him to give it a try. A silly boy for a silly wish.
"I want Ricken."
Not once did either of them expect those words to come out of him.
"What do you mean, Henry? I'm right here."
Henry chuckles, waving it off. "Never mind, forget it."
"No tell me! Tell me!"
Now he's begging like a kid, eyes sparkling wide as he continues asking. It's kinda cute, actually. But then again, it was just a silly wish, one Henry hopes Ricken will forget soon. "Too bad. It's your turn, so what's your wish anyway?"
He sticks his tongue out. "Not telling."
"Because it won't come true if you say it."
"Well that's not fair!" Yet Henry can't help but laugh. "You could've told me that before!"
"I didn't think you'd say it! Besides, that's what you get for not telling me what yours meant." Then Ricken sighs. "Promise me something."
"That we'll see each other again."
Henry glances at him. "Of course! I hear the afterlife has quite the party."
"I'm serious! You scare me sometimes, but I'm glad I met you. You're my best friend, you know."
"Best friend…" The word dances on his tongue, but it carries a foreign taste to it. "Yeah… That sounds nice."
"Ricken, let's go!" they hear Nowi call out in the distance, so Ricken stands up and dusts of his robes.
However, Henry grabs his hand without thinking, and Ricken glances down at him. "What's wrong?"
Henry flinches and for several moments, they stay like that as he wonders why he grabbed him in the first place, but then he sighs, forcing a smile as he lets go. "Good luck with her. Stay well, and don't let the Risen get you."
"You too. Take care!" Then he salutes a goodbye as he races over to where Nowi is waving in the distance. It's then when Henry realises something as he watches Ricken dash away.
He's not a kid anymore. Neither of them are. And for the first time in a long time, no one's around him anymore.
Everyone's gone home with their partners or kids.
All that's left of his home is the village he killed off as a kid. Home to the people who murdered his wolf when he was younger.
The one laying in ruins below the cliff.
It's alright. They're gone now.
All of them.
Henry begins to wonder what falling will feel like as he stares down the edge of a cliff. No one else's around. No animals. No people or friends.
It'll be like flying, right? Flying sounds fun right about now.
Soaring away like a bird.
Like a crow.
Like he did.
Like a cold, clean break from history.