Robin knelt low, tracing the edge of a muddied bootprint with one gloved hand. Not old - they were probably only a few days off from the main force. She stared out over the rapidly darkening horizon, conifers and wildflowers swaying gently in the chill evening breeze.
If they reached the Shepherds tomorrow, they’d be able to move forward with the march on Valm Castle. Ideal outcome, that meant dethroning Walhart within the week. Another week and they’d be on ships bound home to Ylisse, and after that…
Robin sighed. Perhaps they’d all get a much-needed breather before the next war reared its six-eyed head.
Regardless, for now she still had to worry about this war. She just hoped their sidequest would pay off in the end-
“Robin?” a voice called from several paces behind her.
Turning back, Robin took in Lucina’s stark blue form against the backdrop of the setting sun. Falchion hung sheathed at her side, and Robin could’ve sworn Lucina’s branded eye glimmered softly in the fading light.
“Lucina,” she greeted, jogging to stand before her. “With luck, we’ll reconvene with the others by tomorrow.”
Lucina grinned back at her, a small smile - one that she didn’t seem entirely used to, yet suited her perfectly nonetheless. “So the war nears its end.”
Robin smiled back, brushing a strand of white hair from her eyes. “Yeah. Hopefully.”
Lucina held her gaze a moment longer, before Robin spun to the side abruptly, eyes locked on… those trees. The ones over there. Very interesting trees.
“There’s a small gully just beyond that thicket,” Lucina said, nodding towards the trees in question. “And I spotted no sign of nearby patrols. It should make a suitable campsite.”
“Right,” Robin said, suddenly reacquainted with the oft-present ache in her legs. “Can’t topple an empire without a good night’s sleep, after all!”
Lucina’s head dipped stoically. “I suspect not. Though, such rest has been a valuable commodity as of late.”
Robin was tempted to point out the fact that she’d get more sleep if she stopped volunteering for every night watch under the sun, but with her work ethic… well, she wasn’t exactly in a position to talk.
A ten minute stroll through the woodland brought them to the site in question - a thick clearing resting about a dozen feet below the surrounding earth. In short, it was impossible to spot until you were directly on top of it, and the perfect place to law low for the night.
Lucina slung her pack off her back, kneeling and pulling her bedroll free. Robin bent down to follow suit-
“Robin?” Lucina called, peering at her from behind the bedroll as it unrolled onto the forest floor.
Robin crossed her legs, cradling her chin in her hands. “You remember the patrol that was on our tail?” It was a rhetorical question - said patrol had harassed them for the better part of the day, and it was only the size of their party that had allowed them to shake the Valmese troops. It had still been a close thing for a moment there, and in the commotion…
“I lost my bedroll,” Robin finished with a sigh. “It’s probably hours back by now.”
Lucina knelt across from her, passing her a stick of hardtack that she devoured ruefully. “It’s a good thing this cloak is so comfortable.”
Lucina snorted in response, and Robin squinted back. “Laughing at my misery, are we?”
Her face straightened quickly. “N-no, of course not. Forgive me, I thought that was a joke.”
“So my suffering is amusing to you!" Robin quipped. "That’s cold, Luci.”
“Not as cold as you would be, I suspect.”
Robin sputtered, choking as she leaned forward. Lucina hurried to her side, worried eyes wide as she clapped her back. “Robin, are you alright? I did not mean to offend, I-”
“You’re fine, you’re fine,” Robin reassured when she could breathe again, her coughing fit ending in the laughter it had begun as. “I just didn’t expect that from you, is all.” She nudged Lucina with her elbow playfully. “You can tell jokes when you want to!”
Lucina dipped her head, avoiding eye contact. “I… suppose I have been making an effort to improve on that front, when time permits.”
“Well, I say your efforts are paying off.” Robin flashed an earnest smile. “But really, I’ll be fine. This cloak has gotten me through Ferox plenty, I can handle one night”
To her surprise, Lucina shook her head. “There are better places to sleep than on the ground. My bedroll is plenty large enough for the both of us."
Robin's eyes widened, and she was quick to throw her hands in the air. "Oh no, I couldn't possibly inconvenience you-"
"It's no trouble," she assured. "We slept together for warmth often in my future."
Right. Right, of course. This was just the... tactically superior option. The bedroll was large enough, and it would make for a more restful night than the forest floor.
Plus, it would be warm.
Just the strategic choice. Nothing more.
Robin nodded slowly. "Alright. If you're sure. And if you change my mind I'll go right to the grass with my cloak - very cozy, been there before."
"I'm sure that won't be necessary," Lucina assured. She stood, beginning to slip off her belt and the scattered pieces of armor across her uniform. Robin weighed the merits of sleeping with her cloak on, but quickly confirmed there were too many sharp points and solid lumps scattered throughout her pockets. Sure, she could just dump them out into her backpack, but she had a very particular inventory method in place. Getting everything back into the right pocket would be... she shivered involuntarily. Nothing short of nightmarish.
Shedding it felt like leaving a part of herself behind - the cloak was her armor. Without it she was bare, and somewhat more vulnerable (never a good thing to be when you're a strategic target). The sleeveless shirt didn't help. Nonetheless, she gently folded her faithful friend and lay it atop her pack, giving it a final loving pat before turning back to Lucina.
She was already tucked snug inside, back against the earth as she gazed up at the first stars winking into existence. Robin slipped in slowly, and quickly realized that while the bed roll was large enough for the both of them, it wouldn't be sleeping on their backs. Lucina picked up on that as well after a moment, smiling apologetically before rolling onto her side.
The two lay there silently, backs against each other. Robin wiggled a bit, trying to find a comfortable position for her arms. Crushing one wasn't exactly comfortable, and she didn't have the luxury of a pillow to slide her hands under. Judging by how the body pressed against her was shifting, her partner (in bed. Bed partner. No, that sounded worse) seemed to be encountering similar difficulties.
They were war partners, to clarify. Comrades. Returning from a clandestine mission, er-
...best she quit while she was ahead.
"We should turn around," Lucina said, cutting through her inner monologue. "We'll get no rest shuffling around like this."
"Yeah," Robin conceded. "You're probably right." Hesitating only a moment longer, she flipped onto her other side.
She'd expected to find herself staring back into Lucina's azure eyes. Distressingly, she instead found her head folding snugly into the crook of Lucina's neck. And, perhaps moreso worrying, it was very comfortable.
"Robin?" she said, scooting up a bit to avoid knocking her head with her chin as she glanced down. "Is this alright?"
"Uh, yeah!" Robin said, voice coming out a bit squeaky. This close, Lucina's breath was warm against her face. She could make out the faint outline of a scar tracing its way up one cheek. "Everything's fine here. How are you?"
"Much better," Lucina said with a smile. Gods, even without her cloak this bedroll was feeling hot. "Do you mind if I-?" she asked, tentatively reaching an arm over her.
"That's why we're here, right?" Robin replied, wrapping one arm around Lucina's waist. Crap, did that sound bad? She knows I meant the rolling-over thing, not the sleeping together in the woods thing-
Lucina yawned, shuddering as she pulled Robin close. They were essentially embracing now, and-
Gods, she was soft.
"Robin?" Lucina murmured, exhaustion apparent in her tone.
"Yeah?" she yawned in response.
Robin smiled against her chest. "Good night, Luci."
Robin's eyes were slow to open, but the rest of her senses filled in the gaps. She was in her bedroll, laying on her stomach. Judging by the birdsong, it was around early morning. Something soft was clutched in her hands...
Sitting up with a frown, she glanced down. Clutched in her hands was... Lucina's scarf?
Suddenly, she was very awake. Face burning, memories of the previous night came flooding back. This was Lucina's bedroll, and-
Lucina was nowhere to be found.
What she did find as she cleaned up any trace of their camp was her Levin Sword, sheathed and pointed into the trees the way they'd entered. With a shrug, she slid it back beneath her coat. As far as signals went, it did the job fine.
Considering her light load and the fact that Lucina had already gathered her belongings (sans bedroll), the task didn't take long. The walk through the woods gave her a welcome chance to breathe in the cool morning air. And think.
They were allies. Friends, maybe. Lucina had offered her bedroll out of the kindness of her heart, because that's just the sort of person she was. That's all.
Her little pep talk failed to assuage the flutter of her heart as she emerged from the clearing and caught sight of Lucina once more.
This time, she was highlighted against the sunrise. Warm yellows, pinks, and oranges flooded across the brightening sky in a dazzling array of color. It was nothing less than picturesque.
She stopped at Lucina’s side, gazing over the horizon.
“It’s a beautiful sunrise,” Robin noted.
“I saw so few of them before coming here,” Lucina replied, staring onward as if transfixed. She turned to face her, a strange light in her eyes. “They remind me of you.”
Lucina smiled, gently grasping Robin’s hand. “Your eyes are amber. They have a... similar glow.” She took a deep breath, stepping closer still - almost as if they were back in the bedroll. “And they both serve as a reminder.”
“Of what?” she asked slowly. Her breath seemed heavy, head a little fuzzy like she’d stood up too fast, or she was dreaming.
Lucina seemed to pause for a moment, licking her lips. "I have been thinking," she began to explain. “That this world is not my own, not yet. That there are good things that need protecting. That…” she trailed off, nose nearly brushing hers. “That there are good things worth protecting.”
"I-" Robin started, then stopped. "You don't have to bear the weight of the world alone, Luci. You're... you're a good thing, too."
And then, suddenly they were close - much too close, and Robin leaned forward and-
Gods, Lucina was soft.
She was warm.
This line of thought jarred Robin from her trance. “I am- so sorry,” she sputtered, stumbling back. “I just- I thought you were-, and then I acted rashly, and I-”
“You are,” Lucina murmured slowly. “The most beautiful woman I’ve ever met.”
Robin stared back, eyes locked with the (mesmerizing) azure glow of Lucina’s own.
“Oh,” she squeaked.
Their next kiss lasted a fair while longer.