She doesn't necessarily like it, but Roy always tries to give her the reassuring smile that tells her everything is fine, even when it's not. He's developed the bad habit of showing that he can handle anything and that it doesn't affect him; he's trying to fit into his father's shoes sooner than he should, and that never goes well with the doubts that never cease to plague his mind. Many times they had a conversation about their roles as future rulers, especially after Lilina's adamant refusal to take on any duties before the end of the war, but stubborn as he is, Roy keeps displaying that confident front Lilina sees right through. He can't hide his feelings with her, it doesn't work this way. She doesn't blame him for wanting to appear in control, but she's still sad to watch her best friend acting like he needs to, when he can rely on her.
“I promise I won't let myself get overwhelmed,” he says as he heads to the council of war.
“I'm coming with you. And that's not negotiable.”
Roy's footsteps falter an instant, and Lilina waits for the expected disagreement. However, he just smiles, softer than usual and a bit tired, maybe, then gives a single nod, and suddenly Lilina recognizes the awkward boy she grew up with—the one who admits he's not strong enough.
Lord Roy's tenacity in a battle is perhaps not unanimous, but Wolt is always happy to sing his praises to anyone willing to listen. Many soldiers consider him a general with a good head on his shoulders and charisma to lead them, but some of them think he might not be suited to fight in prolonged battles. Wolt begs to differ, since he often has the opportunity to watch his lord take out the enemy and hold on his own with his defensive stance, so he won't let people dismiss their general's prowess.
"Lord Roy, you are truly amazing! I will train harder to be able to protect you and become a knight as powerful as Sir Marcus!"
Wolt remembers Lord Roy chuckling when he said this kind of audacious promise when they were younger, and he would accept it with a huge smile on his face.
Now, however, Lord Roy stares at the ground, not really pensive but definitely angry enough that it shows on his face, and Wolt's stomach drops.
"Alright, Wolt. Do your best."
Lord Roy didn't answer with a smile.
Little Roy was a ball of energy with a radiant grin ready to start training to become like his father. Lord Eliwood decided to send him to Ostia to attend lessons on magic, an odd choice coming from the Marquess of Pherae, but Marcus didn't object and thought it would do good for Pherae to have a lord versed in magic.
But General Cecilia sent out word that Lord Roy couldn't learn magic, despite her methods, and recommended that he take up the sword, just like any heir to a Lycian throne. If Lord Roy showed a bit of disappointment, he quickly pocketed it to focus on his new training; Marcus spent a few months in Ostia to watch over his young lord, and the progress wasn't as smooth as he expected, but Lord Roy wouldn't be completely defenseless. They sparred, on his request, though he never won—but that didn't deter him in the least, saying that Marcus was the strongest knight he knew.
And now thrust into a position of power, he has a lot on his plate but still wished to see how far he's come.
“You could ask Lance or Alen to spar with you," Marcus points out. "Sparring against an old man like me is not worth it."
"Marcus, you are still considered one of our assets in the war. And I never beat you in a spar."
Lord Roy says this with such a serious face, gripping his training sword like it would give his words the necessary strength to go through Marcus. He gained a lot, these past months—knowledge, confidence, technique. Marcus thinks that his young lord has changed immensely, in a good way.
"Perhaps I can indulge you this one request."
The serious expression breaks to reveal a grin from ear to ear, unrestrained and holder of many hopes that Marcus can't help but welcome.
He knows that his son has always been worried about not being good enough, even after he's led an army and helped reconstructing an entire continent, so that's why Eliwood does his best to show that there is nothing to lose his composure to. Even with trembling fingers he can still squeeze Roy's shoulder hard enough to get his attention, to push his beliefs and energy into him, and when Roy looks at him, Eliwood smiles.
“You will do great. This is simply a ceremony, everyone already knows what you are capable of.”
Roy remains tense, fiddling with the cuffs of his shirt, and Eliwood gently admonishes him for doing so. He sheepishly smiles.
“This is still making me nervous,” he mumbles. “Officially becoming Marquess Pherae is a bit scary.”
“I know. I wasn't very serene either when I had my own ceremony. You can ask Marcus or Lowen, I was fidgeting and kept stumbling over nothing.”
This draws a giggle out of Roy, who was found guilty of doing the exact same things as his father did. He rolls his shoulders, takes a deep breath, and looks ahead, focused on his path. He tentatively grins at Eliwood, the edge of his lips wobbling, but it's still an effort worth everything.
“Thank you, Father. I think I'm ready.”
She laughs when her little baby attempts crawling for more than a meter, but when it's clear it requires way too much energy for his small body, his arms drop on the floor and he stays there, unmoving. She picks him up and positions him comfortably in her arms, looking at his wide blue eyes taking stock of what's in front of him. Roy is smaller than other babies, but he's curious about the world, always staring at what he doesn't know and reaching for it. Ninian is glad that she can be here for him, to direct him in his early years, even if it might seem insignificant to other people.
“You are going to grow into a healthy boy, then become a strong and great man.”
She kisses his forehead, right next to the birthmark that can't lie about his heritage. Ninian fears this will prove to be a burden for him, she can only wish the world will become kinder to accept the differences that never cease to divide people.
Roy takes a strand of her hair into his hand, and when Ninian tilts her head with a questioning hum, he opens his mouth and lets out a short chuckle, a grin stretching his features. Ninian puts a finger on his nose.
“Yes, you are a happy baby, and I am a happy mother.”
He thought about it many times, when he was in one side of the universe and his sister on the other, but he didn't imagine it could become real. In Askr, apparently everything is possible; he sees adults reuniting with their grown-up children, people from different timelines resenting the one that's not theirs, dead people coming back to life.
He falls into the first category. He immediately recognizes Roy as Eliwood and Ninian's son, since he exults the same kindness and his aura is just as bright as his sister's. Roy doesn't know who he is, of course, but Nils is intrigued, a tad nervous maybe, so he approaches him. To anyone's eyes he's a boy with a flute reproducing Ninian's powers with a different art, but he knows that many of them recognize the strength he carries. Roy probably senses it too, because when he turns around to face him, he's surprised, a bit dumbstruck, and Nils doesn't blame him, so he simply chuckles.
“Hello Roy, I'm Nils.”
It takes a full second for Roy to realize what this implies, his eyes gleaming with sudden joy and his lips curl upwards, genuinely, his face beaming.
“Are you my uncle? My mother's younger brother?” he asks eagerly, taking a step forward. “Mother told me so much about you!”
Nils nods, a smile mirroring his nephew's blooming on his face, and he thinks that it's a miracle he can see what kind of heir to the Ice Dragons and to the Pheraen throne will rise, sheltering such a dazzling and beautiful soul.