Chapter 3

Hey, ho... another Shepard exhibition, another awkward silence. Chrom explained the situation to the other shepherds and they weren't exactly pleased with Lissa. Ricken was mad at her for getting Sumia to cuddle and patronise him in front of the others. Sully was mad about Sumia jumping into her arms and Vaike was mad at Lissa taking his weapons grade rum, which in turn lead to a bollocking from Chrom for having alcohol about his person on duty (although he latter admitted that possessing the alcohol was really more his own fault than Lissa's). As they walked down the streets, Lissa looked at the pouting young wizard walking along side her.

"Come on, Ricken, are you really going to hold a grudge forever?"

"No. Just for the rest of my life." the boy huffed "You and Sumia humiliated me."

"We've all been humiliated!" Sully joined in. "The way she jumped into my arms and gave me... that smile...I almost thought she was going to kiss me!"

There was a silence. Chrom looked as though he was starring into space. Then he turned red and shook his head violently.

No. No. I have stay focused. I can't have THAT image floating around my head.

Whatever image Chrom was talking about, it seemed to drift over to float around Vaike's head and he looked as though he was loving every minute of it.

"Anyway!" said Chrom "Sumia isn't the one to blame for that display, earlier. Just be glad Frederick was away running an errand, otherwise the consequences would have been a lot worse."

Thinking about what punishment the stern lieutenant of the shepherds could have dished out, Lissa and Vaike both turned a good several shades whiter. It wasn't quite fifty shades, more around twenty, maybe twenty five.

"Still, I don't see why the rest of us have to come too." moaned the young wizard.

"Because, Ricken, letting Sumia know that all is forgiven is the adult thing to do."

Ricken's face perking up at the word "adult" was evidence that Chrom certainly knew what buttons to press.

"Ah! So if I forgive her, instant adult!"

"Well, not quite instant, but it's a step in the right direction." said Chrom

Presently, they arrived at Sumia's house. They were greeted by a maid who's face was covered in soot and who's hair was twisted as if she had been caught in a tornado.

"Good evening, my lords." said the maid, giving a courtesy to Prince Chrom and his party. "I take it you are here to see Miss Sumia?"

"Um, yes, that's right." said Chrom, trying to make sense of the dirty faced maid.

"Please, come this way. Miss Sumia is in the kitchen."

Ah. That explained it.

They were led into a smoky kitchen, with water covering the floor. A second maid diligently moved her mop around as a sooty faced Sumia bowed her head up and down bleating "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"

The first maid coughed to get Sumia's attention. She turned and nearly jumped back at the sight of her visitors.

"Prince Chrom and his party are here to see you milady."

Sumia looked quite a sight. Her hair was undone while her face and tunic were covered in all manner of smoke and cake ingredients.

"Um...thank you. I will see our guests...here. Could you two please excuse us?"

"As you wish milady." said the maids as they gave a bow and left the lady and her guests to their own devices. Lissa had to admire these maids. Working in servitude look a lot of patience in any household, but to be so calm and professional, working for someone as accident prone as Sumia must really take a will of iron.

Yet another awkward silence.

"Hello, Sumia." said Chrom, giving the friendliest, most not-angry-at-you-whatsoever-even-though-you-threw-up-on-my-best-shirt smile he could muster. "Lissa explained everything. What happened in the barracks wasn't your fault. There's still a place for you in the shepherds, if you want it."

Sumia's fingers played about with her lose hair. With no flowers on hand for her to pluck the petals off, it was the only thing she could do when she was nervous.

"I...um...are you sure you want me? After I embarrassed everyone..."

"Meh. It's cool." said Sully.

"Yeah!" Ricken added, desperate to prove his adultness by letting bygones be bygones "It's all water under the bridge!"

Chrom continued "I've told the other shepherds not to bring it up again. I'm sure we'd all like to put that embarrassing display behind us."

"And if anyone makes fun of you over it," said Vaike, "I'll pound on them for you."

Lissa took a step forwards.

"Sumia, I'm really sorry about putting all that rum into your gourd." she said with her hands clutched tightly together "This whole thing was my fault. I know I don't deserve your forgiveness after the way I acted in the cook house this morning but I really am sorry. I never meant for you to quit your job."

Sumia look up, stunned.

"What? I never said that I quit my job!"

"You're not? But you said you were leaving!"

"No. That note I gave you to give to the captain was just asking for a leave of absence. I was going to come back after things had died down and I could make it up to everyone for all that stuff I did."

Chrom turned to his sister.

"You never said anything about a note!"

"I'm sorry! I was so upset about Sumia leaving that I forgot about it!"

Lissa fished the aforementioned note out of her pocket and handed it to Chrom. He read through it. Then he turned back to Lissa with a face like thunder. It was Chrom's patented "When we get home, you're in for such a scolding!" face.

Then he turned back to Sumia with his "I forgive you for vomiting on me." face.

"So, what are you doing right now?"

"I was trying to make you a new cake, to make up for ruining the one Lissa worked so hard on. And getting drunk. And ruining your shirt." her eyes turned to the pile of black ash on the counter "I still haven't got the hang of it...I was hoping to make it big enough to share with everyone."

Lissa walked up to Sumia and took hold of her hand.

"How about I help you to make it? I figure I owe everybody an apology, too. Especially you."

Sumia smiled in wide eyed admiration, as if Lissa was a wonderful, glowing goddess of confection, come to answer her prayers and pull her up from the depths of despair.

"I'd love to make it together, Lissa! Why don't we all pitch in? Then it'll be extra big!"

"Sure, I'm game." said Chrom.

"Me too!" said Ricken.

"No, no, noooooo..." Sully moaned "I don't do kitchens! I suck at all that domestic stuff!"

"I'll tell you what," said Chrom "Why don't you go get us a wagon and some horses to carry the cake back to the barracks in?"

"Now, that I can do, no sweat!"

Vaike, being a fellow member of the species who doesn't quite do aprons, went with Sully to fetch a wagon.

The others made a cake of two layers. Both tins of mixture were put into the oven and now all they had to do was play the waiting game. Of course, the waiting game proved rather boring so they decided to play Botticelli instead. Then when the cake was baked, they decorated it. Sumia was thankful for Lissa's baking advice and doubtless, the maids were looking forward to a life with fewer kitchen disasters.

Vaike and Sully returned with the wagon, and they took the cake to the barracks to share with the entire platoon.

It was a small gathering over cake and a limited supply of beverages.

Lissa sat next to Sumia and took a sip of her drink.

"Your cake sure is popular with the others!"

"It's all thanks to your advice in the kitchen. I tried about seven times to make a decent cake before you came along to help. I'm just glad the captain got his cake in the end."

Lissa took another sip.

"Ugh! There's something funny about this apple juice. Anyway, you offered to help make a new cake this morning and I just threw it back in your face. If I'd just been a little more patient we could have avoided that embarrassment earlier."

Sumia put an arm around her and took a big gulp of her own juice.

"Ugh, you're right. Maybe the juice has gone off. Anyway, it's water under the bridge!"

They clicked their glasses together and both took another sip.

Vaike went over to Chrom

"Happy Birthday, cap!"he said as he shoved a glass into his hand.

"Are you carrying alcohol on duty again?"

"Of course not! I just got this here cider, off duty! What do you say?"

"I don't know, I have to be up early tomorrow."

"Aw, come on! A quick drab won't hurt."

Realising that this was one of those situations where Vaike wasn't going to relent until you caved in Chrom decided to steel himself and just drink the damn cider. He took a large gulp as Vaike started chanting "Chug, chug, chug!". Nobody joined in though.

Chrom swallowed his drink.

"Hmm...it's a little on the mild side, isn't it?"

"What? I thought it was the super strong stuff."

Chrom handed Vaike the glass, so he could taste for himself. He gulped down a large mouthful of the amber liquid.

"The hell? This isn't cider, just normal apple juice! I must have picked up the wrong bottle..."

A look of sheer horror covered Vaike's face as he realised where he must have left the real cider bottle. There was a sound of laughter from the corner. Chrom and Vaike turned to see a hysterical Lissa and Sumia dancing an idiotic looking take on the tango, as they loudly and obnoxiously hummed the tune.

"Dum! Dum-Dum-Dum-DUM! Dum-Dum-Dum-DUM! Dum-Dum-Dum-BURP!"

Chrom buried his face into his hands

"Oh gods, not this again..."

The End