The team gets turned around in the Lanzelt Snowfields. It's cold as balls, and Rain didn't pack a good coat. So him and Lasswell gotta cuddle for warmth. Completely platonic warmth cuddling. No repressed romantic feelings here.
(Hint: There might be some romantic feelings here)
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
So thing's weren't looking so great up in the mountains. A nasty snowstorm swept in, and after a few battles with monsters, Lasswell got disoriented. he didn't tell the others, the chosen one and the crystal girl. He couldn't fail them. He'd get them back on the right path none the worse for wear.
That was over an hour ago, and he knew they'd passed through this frosted glade before. If Rain noticed, he hadn't let on. Fina kept him distracted with her chattering. Sweet girl, every thought and sensation was brand new to her, so she shared freely. Although they hadn't seen the sun since starting up the mountain pass, Lasswell could tell it was beginning to set as the gray shadows grew darker, and the winds grew colder.
"We should stop here," Lasswell said. "We'll get ambushed if we continue on in the dark."
He braced himself for an argument. Both Rain and Fina were prone to bouts of stubbornness and rash action. And by bouts, he meant that those were just their entire personalities.
But he'd never say it like that. Outloud.
To his surprise, they agreed. He tuned them out as they worked together to stake the tent in the best shelter they could find beside some jagged boulders. This was all his fault. If he hadn't gotten them lost, they'd be out of the mountains by now. Fina didn't let him brood for long.
"Lasswell! Stay still!"
His hand immediately went to his sword's hilt, expecting another bas. Instead, Fina took a lock of his hair in her hands and examined it.
"They are different! Rain, how did you know they would be?"
"I learned it in school," he answered.
That wasn't good enough for Fina. "And how'd school know it?" Lasswell smirked when Rain looked stumped.
"Uh.....because sometimes snowflakes get stuck on your eyelashes, so you can see them close up."
Fina felt her eyelashes. "Mine are too short. They're not catching any. Do yours?"
"Well yeah, see-"
"Can we continue this conversation in the tent? Or would you two prefer to turn into ice sculptures?" Lasswell held the tent flap open, and all three clambered inside. It was still cold, but without the wind it was almost tolerable. In the scramble to get out of the snow and into the cramped quarters, Rain ended up with his shoulder pressed into Lasswell's chest. He could see the snowflakes sticking to Rain's long eyelashes. Lasswell felt his cheeks start to warm when he realized he had already stared for a second too long. Maybe he should sleep outside after all. They'd done it for most the journey, when the weather stayed nice. He could go stretch out and not be too many inches too close to Rain and-
"Jeez Lasswell, you're like a furnace." Rain stuck his arms inside Lasswell's coat.
Lasswell yelped when Rain's cold hands found a spot of bare skin.
"What are you fussing for?" Rain frowned up at him. "You're cold too."
"You're being a bad influence on Fina. She shouldn't learn to put her hands in other peoples clothes," Lasswell scolded.
"Fina's already asleep, jackass." Rain jerked his head to the other side of the tent. The amnesiac had already curled up under her blanket and was fast asleep, not even bothering to take the ribbons out of her hair. "So calm down and share. Your coat is better than mine."
Lasswell couldn't resist an I told you so. "You're the fool who didn't prepare for this trip like I said to."
"You're the fool who didn't blablahbah," Rain mocked with a nasally voice. He unwrapped his arms from Lasswell's waist and pulled away. The space where they had been suddenly chilled Lasswell to the bone. "Fine, I guess I'll just freeze to death."
"Why not sleep near Fina if you're so desperate for stealing heat?" Lasswell didn't actually want that either, but the words left him before he could decide better of it.
"She doesn't like being crowded, you know that. Besides, I don't think the weather ever affects her. She did just fine out in the desert. Seems here is just the same." Rain sat with his legs crisscrossed and dug through their knapsack for another blanket.
Lasswell watched for a moment, chewing the inside of his lip. He took a deep breath and let it out as a sigh. He could see it cloud in front of him. Gods it was cold. He couldn't let his bashfulness get in the way of sense. He retrieved the blanket from his belongings and laid it over his bedroll as another layer of separation between them and the cold ground.
Because that's what this was. Sense. Just that. Completely and utterly platonic, reasonable, sense.
"...Rain, come on over here." Lasswell did everything in his power to ignore Rain's triumphant smile. Lasswell pulled his coat off to drape it over the both of them as Rain wiggled up beside him on the bedroll.
Lasswell laid on his side and watched Rain arrange the coverings. He always had a particular way of layering things, even when they were kids. All the blanket forts had to be built a certain way. When they shared beds back then, it was the same deal. Lightest layer below, heaviest on top, unless one was softer than the other.
He settled in beside Lasswell after what felt like forever of fidgeting. Rain tucked one arm beneath his head as a pillow, and the other draped over Lasswell's waist, keeping him from backing out of this deal.
"Just like old times, eh?" Rain said. Lasswell could feel the warmth of his breath against his chest, even through his shirt. Or maybe that was just Lasswell's own heart, beating 1000 times a second, imploding.
"If you tickle me, I'll hang you from a tree by your beltloops," Lasswell threatened.
Rain laughed. It wasn't his normal hearty, cheeky laugh. It was softer, quieter, followed by that little tune he would hum whenever he was happy. Lasswell had long since forgotten which song it had come from. At this point in their lives, he just considered it Rain's song now.
"Maybe next time," Rain said, then fell asleep just as quickly as Fina had, leaving Lasswell alone with his thoughts.
Lasswell was in Trouble.
Any and all interaction with Fina will be platonic because like....y'all she has no memory. She doesn't need gross messy emotions like that coming at her. And also because the writers made her act like a child while still implying she's supposed to be a romantic interest? Yikes.
Anyway I literally just beat Lanzelt Ruins so I don't know shit about shit please enjoy
"Remember tenet number fifteen: A knight's heart is ever humble."
In which Lasswell thinks about Rain's habits, and gets a little too into it.
I guess I have a thing for weather prompts or something. I just wanted these stupid idiots being gay and playing in the mud.
Rain had never been humble. Even as a child he would flaunt his talents for attention, the little showboat. It wasn't until years later that Lasswell realized most of this was an act Rain put on to make others smile. An act Lasswell himself didn't notice until Rain stopped putting it on in front of him.
Lasswell remembered that day fairly well. The weather was practically identical with black thunderheads closing in above them. Rain had to have been 15 at the time. He couldn't remember for sure if it was before or after his 17th birthday, but the range was correct. They sparred together out in the yard, as they did almost every day. The session ended early when the sky turned cloudy. They collected their weapons before the storm caught them in its wake, then took shelter in the alcove of the storage shed. Maybe Rain summoned it with his furrowed brow and dark frown. He had another argument with Sir Raegan.
"He just won't lay off me. It's not fair. He doesn't treat anyone else like this," Rain had said.
"Sir Raegan knows you're meant for great things, Rain. He's just trying to help you get there."
"I don't need his help. I don't even want it." Rain pulled his knees to his chest and glowered at the puddles forming in the yard. "I hate him."
"No you don't," Lasswell said, putting a hand on Rain's shoulder. Rain shrugged it off.
"Who says I'm meant for greatness? Maybe I'll grow up to be a bum like Old Certus down at the tavern. He says he was meant for big things too."
"Old Certus is a drunk who hasn't walked a straight line in 10 years," Lasswell frowned. "Don't you dare compare yourself to him."
"Yeah, you're right. He's better at life than I am. At least he knows what he's doing."
Lasswell started to laugh, but it faltered quickly when he realized Rain wasn't joking. Rain had his face almost completely buried in his knees. His blue eyes were just barely visible, still gazing sullenly out at the storm. Lasswell decided not to mention the tears of frustration he could see building up. He couldn't think of what to say, so he placed his hand on Rain's shoulder again. This time, Rain didn't shrug it off.
It had hailed then. Lasswell hoped that wouldn't happen now, not with little Emma in tow.
The Rain that walked beside him now had changed so much, but there was still some of that angry 15 year old inside him. Lasswell saw it in the wrinkle of Rain's brow and the purse of his lips as the winds hit them from the side.
Rain glanced over and caught Lasswell's gaze. Before Lasswell's cheeks could even start to burn with shame, Rain leaned in closer.
"We should find shelter for the girls," he said over the noise of the wind, with a gesture to Emma, who was guarded between Lasswell and Fina.
"And for us?" Lasswell asked.
"We find the mountain trail and make sure it's safe for them," Rain answered.
The marsh was already perilous enough without the storm. Lasswell nearly lost a boot to the soft mud banks and moss. Emma could be sucked away in an instant before any of them could notice.
Lasswell nodded. "After you, Rain."
It took them nearly half an hour, but they found a downed magnolia tree. It's massive network of roots created a gnarled roof for the creatures below, which, to Fina and Emma's delight, there were a few.
"If there's any sign of trouble, send up an Arch Blast." Lasswell held Fina's hand to keep her attention. "Promise me."
"Don't you worry none. Nothing'll get past me!" Fina gave him a salute and a bright smile.
Rain knelt beside Emma. "You'll be good for Fina, right?"
"Yes sir!" Emma chirped
Lasswell shrugged off his coat. The outside was soaked, but the thick layers kept the inside mostly dry. He draped it around Emma's shoulders. "Keep this safe for me until we get back."
Once he and Rain were out of the girls' sight, Rain slugged Lasswell's shoulder.
"Ow! Hells, what was that for?" Lasswell glared at Rain, rubbing his bruising bicep.
"If you get pneumonia and die, I'll never forgive you," Rain threatened.
Lasswell rolled his eyes. "I'm healthy has a horse."
"Sure, a stubborn horse that gets sick in the desert too. What're those called?" Rain tapped his chin in mock thought. "Oh, I know! A jackass." Rain's angry façade broke into a playful smile.
Lasswell gave Rain a light shove. "I'll be fine. It's far too warm here to catch a chill from this storm."
"In the meantime, you'll just look like something the cat dragged in."
To Rain's credit, he was right. Lasswell's shirt clung to him like moss on a tree, and his hair had to be a wreck. Not that Rain was any better off, with his silvery blond hair plastered to his forehead and cheeks. But Lasswell still played along. "Not everyone can be as immaculate as you, Rain. And speaking of your perfection: have you been teaching Fina grammar? Because if so, then you need to stop that immediately. You'll ruin her for sure."
"Right, right. Because the magic crystal girl needs her speech to impress people."
Lasswell started to go for another push, but stopped and changed direction, going for Rain's hair. He smeared Rain's bangs back from his forehead, getting them to stick up in the air at odd angles before the ends flopped over, too heavy with water to hold shape.
"With you around? She'll need all the help she can get."
"Yeah, help with getting the attention off of me!" Rain flexed his arms, the curves of his muscles barely showing through the weight of his wet jacket.
Lasswell stopped to stare for just a second, because the next he was doubled over with laughter.
"Hey! What's so funny?" Rain stopped too, crossing his arms.
"You... you are absolutely ridiculous, you know that?" Lasswell had only just caught his breath when Rain took a hold of his chin, leading his gaze up to meet Rain's eyes.
"Says the knight with mud on his face."
Lasswell was still stunned from the intimate touch. "What're you--"
Too late. Rain ran his free hand across Lasswell's cheek, and with it, mud. The stripes started at his cheekbone and rain nearly to his shirt collar. Rain was nothing if not thorough.
Thoroughly a bastard.
"That's it! You get over here!"
Rain dodged Lasswell's swipe with a laugh. "Gotta be quicker than that, Welly, or we'll never find this trail."
Their chase took them to the edge of the marsh and the thunderstorm. They leaned against each other, winded, as the sun started to break its way through the thick clouds. In the light, they looked at each other again, and their laughter started all over. Lasswell knew he was smiling like an idiot, if Rain's expression was anything to go by. He reached over and took hold of Rain's sleeve, then used it to wipe the mud off his face.
Rain pointed a finger past Lasswell. "Hey, jackass, I think that's our trail over there."