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The Bliss Between

Chapter Text

There's a mural that stretches across the far wall of Lord Eliwood’s ballroom, and Larum often finds herself standing before it.

It depicts a gorgeous woman with soft features and a tender smile, arms outstretched and ribbons circling around her. She's a dancer, of that Larum is certain, feet perfectly poised as the mural holds her mid-motion for all eternity. Her figure is hardly like the one Larum herself takes when dancing, and she imagines the music that accompanies their dances are far different as well. Nonetheless, the more she studies the mural, the more Larum thinks that she'd like to dance alongside the woman painted there.

“She was my mother,” Roy explains, voice soft as he finds Larum in front of the image for the fifth consecutive night, “and the late Lady Ninian of Pherae.”

“I'm sorry,” Larum says, mostly because she's not sure what else she ought to. For someone like her, with no maternal figure to speak of, sympathizing is difficult. But the look Roy has in his eyes is one of awe, not one of grief, so she more cheerfully adds, “She’s very beautiful.”

And she means it, especially when she glances back to “Ninian” and sees all the similarities between the dancer and Roy that she had been ignorant to.

Roy laughs, almost sheepish. “Dancers often are.”

Larum’s heart skips at the unspoken compliment, and she finds it skipping a second time as she looks to Roy to see his ears flushed a delicate pink. Despite the inevitable melancholy nature of their conversation, her own sheepish smile tugs at her lips, gaze dropping down to her feet. Her dancer’s feet, she thinks, studying her fitted slippers. Idly, Larum wonders if Roy’s feet are the same, wonders if he could carry himself the same way as the late Lady Ninian if he cared to. She's sure he could; Roy is a paragon, a boy who never fails to meet and exceed humanity’s expectations.

On the other hand, the idea of Pherae’s hero having two left feet is endlessly endearing, and she finds her heart skipping a third time at the thought.

“Did you ever see her dance?”

The question prompts Roy out of his own thoughts, bringing his own gaze away from the mural and to Larum’s face. “Several times. I was only a child when she passed, but this room was her kingdom. Her dance was the law.”

We are still only children, Larum wants to chime, but with Roy, her actions have always rung louder than her words. A cheeky smile pulls at her lips as she reaches for his hand, tugging him away from the mural and to the centre of the ballroom. He stumbles a bit as he follows her, but Larum is happy to notice that he makes no efforts to squirm away, even as his cheeks flush a bit pinker at the contact.

“Teach me!” she sing-songs, dropping Roy’s hand and turning to face him. “I want to see Lady Ninian’s lawful dance.”

Roy’s mouth opens, only to close a quick second later, blue eyes looking everywhere but at her. “She never really taught me herself, you know,” he murmurs, “It was nothing like the typical waltz... Her dance was special.”

“That's why I want to see it!” Larum replies, and when Roy bites down on his lip, she knows it won't take much more to convince him. “You said it yourself, right? You saw it all the time.”

A moment in silence passes -- ah, Larum wonders if the lack of music will be a problem -- but then Roy steps back, moving to hold one hand away from his body and the other above his head. “Don't laugh,” he says, before drawing in one last shaky breath, “I’m not nearly as graceful as you or Mother are.”

If Larum were to be honest, just the request not to laugh makes her want to tease him further, but any thought of doing so leaves her as soon as he begins to dance. Roy wasn't actually lying about not being graceful, and each step and twirl he makes look like something from a textbook diagram rather than something as fluid as this dance is obviously meant to be. Still, Larum wasn't wrong about how cute him having two left feet would be, and a fresh rush of endearment surges through her as she continues to watch breathlessly.

If there's any plus side to Roy’s stiff movements, it's that it makes the dance much easier to pick up than it might be otherwise. Clearing her throat, Larum imitates Roy’s initial stance and begins to dance alongside and around him. It takes a moment for him to notice, of course, most of his attention directed towards his own clumsy feet, but in time he looks up long enough for Larum to shoot him a playful smile. His own grin is much more uncertain, reminiscent of the way he used to smile when she'd approach him on the battlefield, and Larum bites down a giggle at just how cute Pherae’s hero is.

As they continue to spiral around one another, however, Larum finds herself almost forgetting that Roy is there at all. It’s a lonesome dance, she thinks, yet rejuvenating in a way that is both very different and very similar to her own. Her gaze flicks back to the mural, back to where the late Lady Ninian dances for all eternity, and wonders if she will ever breathe the same life into this ballroom as the former Lady of Pherae once had.

Chapter Text

As children, they always spoke of spring weddings.

“It's the best time of year for it,” Cordelia would say, with utmost seriousness, “Nothing else is nearly as romantic.”

And Sumia would nod; there was no time quite as grand as when all the flowers were in bloom.

But when they were children, they never spoke of this. All talk of weddings led to boys, to princes, to Chrom. It led to lovesick sighs and dreamy looks in Cordelia’s eyes, to Sumia’s eager encouragement and promises of being each other’s maid-of-honour.

Standing here, watching as Sumia nearly stumbles on the ends of her dress on her way to the altar, Cordelia is reminded that they aren't each other’s maid-of-honour.

“You're beautiful,” Sumia laughs, dimple spotting her cheek as Cordelia helps set her upright. “As always, of course!”

“As are you,” Cordelia says, and means it.

Standing before her, Sumia looks like a fairy tale princess. Her cheeks are aglow with a healthy flush, eyes sparkling even though her hands shake as she tugs and shuffles her many skirts. Flowers are interwoven in her hair and are scattered across the fabric of her dress, much like the ones that line Cordelia’s outer skirt and barrette.

Sumia’s beauty is the delicate sort. She's always been the type to look as though she'd break at the slightest touch — or stumble, as the case may be — despite her working her way into the Shepherds’ ranks. Her hands look so frail, yet Cordelia has held them enough times to know of the callouses battle has worn into her palms. She can't feel said callouses now, not with the gloves pulled over both their fingers, but knowing they're there constantly reminds Cordelia that Sumia is far from fragile.

Yes, Sumia is quite capable of sweeping Cordelia off her feet.

“I still can't believe it,” Sumia says, voice soft, hand squeezing Cordelia’s own. “I always imagined you would be whisked away by some prince.”

For longer than she cares to remember, so had Cordelia. Childish gushing grew to adolescent pining, which then grew to swearing her life and lance to a commander who would never look her way. Even at the start of the Mad King’s war, Cordelia remembers only dreaming of Chrom, of standing by the prince’s side and being his only comfort. But all that time, Sumia was at her side, Sumia was her comfort, and perhaps Sumia was always meant to be the one who grips her hand now.

Who cares for whether they were fated to be together or not, though? In this moment, Cordelia wants Sumia to be the one with her.

“I can't believe it, either,” Cordelia admits, “I never thought...”

She never thought Sumia could be in love with her.

But she doesn't have to finish that thought, not when Sumia smiles at her as she always has. Her eyes are alight with a warmth Cordelia’s never known from anyone else, an unconditional love almost alien to her despite her many admirers. More than anything — more than boys, than princes, than Chrom — that love is what Cordelia has always dreamt of.

“I love you,” she whispers instead.

“I know,” Sumia says, blooming radiantly, brighter than any flower either of them hold or wear.

There really is no time for weddings like the spring.