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Title: For My Lady
Genre: Romance? Angst? Total weirdness? I don't even know.
Fandom: Fire Emblem 7
Characters/pairings: Kent/Lyn, "Mark"/Lyn.
Summary/prompt: Anna, time goddess, makes a bargain with a certain knight. He will do anything to save his lady.
Prompt: "Kent / Lyn ... and Lyn / Tactician. Lyn discovers that Mark, underneath his hood, is Future!Kent, who has come back in time to save her life. (Yeah, I know, crack much?)"
I started this when I was first peeking into fandom, and then forgot about it when Magvel ate me alive, so this was over 2-3 months, during half of which I was bedridden. So it might be weird.

It had always struck Lyn as odd, the way Mark kept so tight a grip on his hood. Whether in the harsh, howling winds of Ilia or the suffocating singe of Nabata, his hand always clutched his hood over his eyes, leaving only his stern lips exposed to the sun. Then again, Mark was confusing in so many ways, all of them infuriating. One minute touching her hair, asking how she fared, the next encouraging her to be closer with Kent, only making the conflict she felt over the two of them worse.

She wondered if Mark did it on purpose. Was he trying to drive her away? Was he really that cruel? Or maybe, it was that hood- maybe he was horribly scarred underneath, and he thought her a petty noblewoman who'd recoil at the sight of it. No, that was even worse. He couldn't think of her like that, right? No, she'd show him. No self-conscious tactician was going to make choices like that for her.

She made up her mind that night, as they finished setting up camp. Eliwood and Ninian were sitting together, talking about something. Wil and Rebecca were chatting and restringing their bows. Lucius looked as if he was praying for patience while Serra played with his hair. Raven and Hector were arguing about something - from the sound of it, it involved hand axes. None of them would notice if she slipped away from the gathering for a bit.

She opened the flap to the tactician's tent and found him reading one of his numerous tomes of strategy and history. She could only imagine the strength he had, to carry those heavy books on his back, everywhere they went.

He looked up, his usually stern lips twisting into the reluctant smile she knew so well. "Yes, Lyn?" Her stomach went into knots at that, just like it did when Kent could be convinced to say it that way, instead of his usual "Lady Lyndis".

"I-I wanted to ask you something," she said. Her thoughts were full of curses. She'd never stammered before, and to do it now, when she meant to prove a point? She forced strength into her words, and asked, "Why do you always wear that hood over your face?"

The tactician was silent for some time. Lyn watched as his exposed lips twisted and tightened, and his hands, too calloused and strong for the scholar he claimed to be, tightened into stubborn fists.

"My apologies, Lyn. It's just a few scars I'm ashamed of."

Lyn's eyes narrowed. "You really think I'm the type to care about something like that?" she snapped. Somehow, the confirmation of her fears made her more angry than sad.

"Of course not, Lyn, I just-"

"Than why won't you let me see your face?"

The silence lasted far longer this time, as the tactician's hands moved to grip his hood and Lyn tried to peer in to see more. All she was able to spy was a shock of red hair before the tactician finally turned away.

"Please, if that's all, leave me," he said.

Despite everything in her wanting to say "no", Lyn did just that.

As Lyn left the tent, the tactician let his hood fall from his face with a heavy sigh. It was harder than he'd expected, keeping so many secrets, not only from her, but from the others. Sain, especially, seemed a bit too knowing when he had been positioned with Priscilla.

"How did you know I fancied her?" he asked. And the tactician had chuckled and replied, "Don't you fancy everyone?" before thinking. Playful banter, suited to a boon companion. Not a tactician.

But Sain had only smiled and answered, "Yes, sir!"

The tactician had taken on his father's name. "Mark". Simple enough, easy to recall. It had been a suggestion from the woman who had started all of this, the woman who had appeared before him when his mind went blank with grief that night, so long ago.

"My dear Sir Mark, how is your mission panning out?"

And speak of the devil - that might have been what she was, or perhaps a goddess - she was there.

"Anna," he answered, turning to face her. She smiled at the sight of his thinning red hair, the tight frown on his lips, even at the ruined half of his face, taken by the fiery breath of a dragon that never should have been. "Did you not say you would not interfere?"

She smiled and gave a wink, pressing her index finger to her cheek just so, a gesture that nearly always signaled trouble for her pawn. "Ah, but you are my pet project!" she sang. "I can't let you struggle here all on your own, now, can I?"

Perhaps a devil. Perhaps a goddess. "Mark" could never quite decide, and Anna's own words were little help.

He still recalled the night they'd met, if one could call having a strange woman appear out of nowhere a true meeting. It was worse than any night he could have ever imagined. He - his hand clutched to his face, lungs and throat aching from the scream that tore forth from them, the burning in his eye and his ear and his scalp and his neck. His lady, just behind him, blessed sword clenched tight in her hand, running ahead with his name on her lips. Not out of love, but out of friendship - nothing like the way he shouted her name back, begged for her to turn back. Nothing like the way he screamed when the fire overtook her and left her in a crumpled heap, when he realized he could not even crawl to her corpse's side to weep.

It was then that Anna appeared. Chipper smile, gentle hands, soothing embrace. He wondered if she was an angel, then. He'd make no such mistakes today.

"Who are you?" he'd croaked.

"I am many things to many people," she had chirped, with that eerie point at her cheek and the slightest of winks. "But here, just for you, I am Anna. All this? I can undo, for a price."

He learned later that Anna's prices were steep, but that he had received a discount of sorts, that she had many pawns, often more unfortunate than he.

"I met a prince, once," she told him. "Handsome boy, definitely easy on the eyes, but a touch too naive for my liking. He wanted to save his homeland from one empire or another - oh, no, you wouldn't have heard of it, don't trouble yourself, dear - and so, I helped him, pulled all the strings just right. But you know, he didn't come out of that so well, even with his little country back. A fun game to play, in that place? Give a man what he thinks he wants, take his real desires away. For him, plink! An arrow aimed just right, a pegasus falling from the sky, a lovely funeral for a princess... Ah, it was lovely! But I have better plans for you."

"Mark" learned slowly, but surely, of her many games. Whispers in the ear of a friend of that prince in the guise of a withered magician, promises of peace and prosperity sung in the dreams of a red-haired fool, madness that gripped that fool's bloodline and drove it into ruin.

"One time, I pretended to be a demon," she said to him once, with the cheery grin he'd grown to dread. "A big, ugly one with giant teeth - oh, that was fun! Be thankful you didn't ask for me then, 'Mark'. I've given back the dead before, but you don't want them like that."

But "Mark" would have taken his dead back in any state. Anna knew that. She seemed to know everything about him. It was she who'd suggested she take on the name of his father - whose homeland of Bern she knew as well, just as she knew his mother hailed from Pherae, and their faith to Caelin had been tried and tried again.

"I like you," she said. "I want to give you what you want, but of course it will cost you. Rewinding time, it isn't too hard, but things won't be simple. You recall that tactician of yours, don't you?"

Of course "Mark" recalled - the snotty little brat with the flowery name, whose foolish techniques had sent his lady running headlong into death.

"You will kill her," Anna said, smiling wide at him. "Kill her, and fill the role she filled. Lead your lady's army to victory, and save her from death with your strength. I know you're able."

But there were strings attached. He knew there were, for Anna hinted at them in giggles in his tent late at night. His lady would never have eyes for him, no. She would delight in the eyes of that nobleman Hector, let him stay by her side just as she had in his own tragic timeline. And he, he learned, would leave Lycia forever, sow seeds of war at every turn.

"It's so much fun to watch you," she sang at him then. "I guess destiny isn't on your side, now, is it? Don't worry. It never is. Not for anyone."

"Leave me, Anna," he hissed. It was the last night they had before facing the sorcerer who'd caused all this, and then the beast he would call forth from beyond the gate. He wondered, sometimes, if she'd whispered in Nergal's ear as well, for fun, if all of this was truly because of her.

"Suit yourself," she chirped, and then she was gone.

"Mark" recalled the night well. Sitting with Sain in front of the campfire, confessing to him what he'd already known - that he loved the lady Lyndis, that he so dearly wanted to be by her side, that he dare not say a word lest she pity him. And Sain had agreed. Their lady was happy with Lord Hector, wasn't she? There was no cause to burden her heart with the knowledge of his feelings.

Perhaps a change of plans was not in Anna's vision. Perhaps he could at least try.

"Mark" retied his cloak and found Kent at the campfire, just as he had been that night. The knight looked up at him just as Sain was shooed away.

"Tell her," "Mark" whispered to Kent. "Tell her everything tonight."

The knight's eyebrows furrowed in confusion, but "Mark" only smiled. "You know what I mean," he said, before turning away.

At the end of the day, "Mark" stayed Kent from charging ahead, and his lady as well. There would be no foolish charges, no heroic sacrifices, not on his orders. For his lady, he was the greatest tactician Elibe would ever see, a man whose words would lead to no deaths but those of his enemies, a man whose talents could throw a continent into chaos on a whim. Perhaps that was Anna's plan, more than anything. Nergal, he realized, was only a prelude to the horror her fantasies could unleash. "Mark" would be along for the ride, but as he watched his lady sidle up close to Kent's steed and reach for his familiar fingers, he felt a surge of victory.

"I expected that," Anna chirped from behind him. "I like it. An unexpected twist, Hector going off with a spunky pegasus knight - I'll try not to kill her the same way I killed that Caeda girl, that wouldn't be fun at all - and your lady, with you - well, not you. It's cute, even if it all ends the same way, every time. So, 'Mark', you have succeeded. What now?"

Just then, his lady ran to his side. "Mark," she said, ignorant of the demon-goddess at his side. "I just. I just wanted to thank you. And to apologize." Before he could protest, her lips were on his unscathed cheek, her hand clenched tight in his. "I will never forget you."

"And I, you," "Mark" answered, careful not to let her see more than his smile. "This was the least I could do for my lady."


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July 2011

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