Crying was a daily occurrence. Panne was thankful that nobody had to know that she had ever shed a tear, but the tough facade was hard to keep up when it broke so consistently. At least she could take solace in the fact that she didn't interact with any of the Shepherds on a regular basis.
Over the course of the rest of the post-war peace, Lissa would visit Panne once or twice a month to provide a listening ear and offer a shoulder to cry on (though that second offer was never taken). One day, she let slip a secret that nobody outside the royal family was allowed to know yet.
It wasn't a big deal, Panne wasn't the jealous type, but the way Lissa was acting, one would think she would try to do something drastic with the news.
"Gods, how embarrassing! My boyfriend doesn't even know yet, and now I tell you by accident. I'm so sorry."
Panne shrugged indifferently. "It's fine. Trust me, I don't plan on telling anyone Chrom's secret. Even if I wanted to, you're the only Shepherd I still talk to."
"Whew," Lissa sighed, wiping sweat off her brow. "I thought you might be mad or something."
Panne shook her head. "What other people do is no concern of mine."
"Right, I should have known." Lissa giggled sheepishly and began looking for any excuse to change the subject.
True to her word, a new baby was born in the castle a few months later, and like she said, Panne did not care, nor were her emotions affected.
After far too long, her mental state was starting to repair itself. Other than taking the time to cry once every few weeks, she had gone back to bottling up emotions just like she had before the whole debacle started. The child buried in the backyard with a hastily put together tombstone and Virion's betrayal had finally started to become things of the past.
And then the call went out to reassemble the Shepherds. The news reached her by way of Lissa at her front door. She seemed nervous to deliver the information that they were going to Valm to fight a megalomaniac general who had conquered the entire continent, but Panne merely nodded, grabbed her beaststone and armor, and followed her newest friend out. What Lissa knew that she didn't was that a familiar face was the reason this new campaign was kicking off, and that he was giving a flowery speech as they headed toward the castle. Knowing that the last person who wanted to see him was rapidly approaching, he quickly wrapped up and ducked away to talk strategy with Chrom and his tactician. Moments later, Lissa and Panne made their late entrance; Panne looking around curiously. "Was I the last you told?"
"I wanted to tell you personally," Lissa told her. "Everyone else was told by much faster messengers who do that for a living."
Panne couldn't argue with that, nor did she try to when she was spotted by a very friendly Shepherd. "Hey, is Panne!"
"Hello Gregor," the girls greeted, one less enthusiastic than the other.
His grin only grew as he put one arm around each woman's shoulder. "I see you ladies are liking to be fashionable but late, yes?"
Panne rolled her eyes. "Sure."
Gregor barked a hearty laugh and let the girls go. "Well, good to be seeing you, as all ways. I cannot wait to be fighting with you again!"
With a sigh, Panne muttered, "I forgot how much I didn't miss anyone here." Lissa flinched a bit when she added, "at least I don't have to see Virion."
Soon after, the Shepherds set out on their second campaign, and resumed what became business as usual during the first go-around. Every once in a while, Panne would spot a new face around camp, and something about her presence bothered her. There was no reason to be suspicious of the girl with the dark pink hair and ferocious wyvern at her side, but something about the way she carried herself seemed...familiar? Unsettling? Panne couldn't put a word to the gut feeling that told her this woman was bad news. The next time she got Lissa alone, she asked about the new recruit. "Oh, that's just Cherche. She lived in Valm and she, er, helped bring the news of their distress to us."
Panne nodded understanding. "I don't like her."
"She takes some getting used to," Lissa said with a giggle. "Her and that wyvern of hers can be pretty intimidating."
"The way she carries herself," Panne explained. "It just reeks of pretentiousness."
Lissa laughed nervously. "Huh, wonder why that is."
After Panne thanked her and left, Lissa breathed a sigh of relief, after which Maribelle approached her with a raised eyebrow. "You still haven't told her," she asked when she was confident Panne was out of hearing range.
Lissa shook her head quickly. "Oh gods, no! Can you imagine what she'd do to him? To me?"
"Oh please, I don't think she would harm you dear," Maribelle assured her.
Lissa threw her hands in the air. "Sure she would! Have you ever heard of killing the messenger?"
The girls shared a laugh, but elsewhere in camp, someone was trembling in his boots as his faithful retainer watched. "I am marvelously lucky that she hasn't spotted me yet, but I don't know how much longer I can keep this up."
Cherche rolled her eyes, which felt like a habit now. "I don't know who you're so terrified of or why, but Minerva and I can surely protect you from their wrath."
The man shook his head. "Absolutely not. It's a situation I got myself into, so I cannot have you take care of it for me."
Cherche looked at him with a puzzled expression. "Then why do you keep coming to me about it?"
The scared man couldn't come up with a response, signaling the end of the conversation.
Due to the relative normalcy of the last war, Panne wasn't expecting anything to be out of the ordinary this time. If she had known that the events following the late night surprise attack would turn everyone's world upside down, she would have either fed herself to the Risen or gone home immediately; whichever option was easier.
The mysterious warrior from the night Emmeryn was attacked revealed herself to be Lucina, Chrom's child from the future, in confidence that it would remain a relative secret. However, she vastly underestimated her aunt's potential for gossip, and as such, the entire force knew within the day. The air around the Shepherds was alive with chatter and speculation as to who had kids, what they were like, and where they would find said children. The constant talk was as annoying to Panne as one would expect, and she was not thrilled to learn that the tragedy that she had just recently come to terms with was essentially being thrown back into her face as if Lucina had personally dug up the deceased child and handed it to her. It got even worse when one potential mother started getting curious and asking around camp for opinions.
She approached Panne during a meal that day and played it off as if she were eating alongside an old friend, despite having joined the Shepherds at the tail end of the last campaign. "Say, you've heard about Lucina, right?" She asked.
"Unfortunately," Panne sighed.
Despite the very clear body language and tone telling her to go away, the woman continued, "so like, what do you think of it? You know, what do you think your child is like?"
Panne took a deep breath to try and keep herself collected. "I would rather not talk about it."
The girl bounced, her ornately decorated hair going with her. "Aw, come on, You have to have at least thought about it!" Wasn't this girl supposed to be shy? "I know I have. I wonder if I have a boy or a girl. I know I'd name a girl Soleil, but I haven't thought of a good boy name yet... Do you have any potential names?"
...It just dawned on her that she never named her lost child. "I don't want to think about myself having children ever again, thank you." Without allowing a reply, Panne quickly removed herself from the situation, hands shaking in anger. How could she move on with her life if her life insisted on reminding her that she failed to give birth to a child? Now, when all the children from the future joined, people were going to start pelting her with invasive questions. Say Panne, where's your kid? Do you think you ever got one? Do you think your child will be a Taguel like you? Do you just not want children? Just the thought of all those questions was enough to drive her insane.
Crying was quickly becoming more common.
Lissa continued to comfort her every once in a while, but that all changed after one visit to a small church town, during which the group met Lissa's...intriguing son. Once he had joined, Lissa's time had all gone to either him or his father, leaving Panne all alone.
Not long after Owain joined the ranks, the secret someone else was trying so hard to keep got spilled. It was during a battle in a sanctuary, and the Shepherds were trying to protect some villagers from a gang of thugs. Panne was battling, of course, but she was slightly more preoccupied by fuming about Maribelle's newly recruited child from the future. What did a brat like her do to deserve a child, while Panne had to be punished the way she was? Lost in her thoughts, she wandered a little too far from the rest of the group and found herself surrounded by enemies. She easily took care of one or two, but one she didn't quite see had the upper hand in the form of air transportation and a wickedly sharp lance made especially to combat beasts like Panne. After circling around out of sight, the rider leveled her beast killer at her target and charged.
The voice came as a complete surprise, and instead of heeding the call and jumping out of the way of her attacker, Panne stayed perfectly still, frozen by the shock of hearing it again. Her attacker only managed to cause a minor wound before an arrow shot the pegasus out of the sky. Now equally shocked by the pain, Panne smacked the rider—and her lance—away before turning to the source of the voice. The infuriating head of blue hair jogged over to her, bow in hand and short of breath. "Whew, that was too close," he said, looking around for any other potential attackers.
He didn't take into account the one right in front of him though, and let out a high-pitched scream when Panne batted him twenty feet away like am ugly, pretentious cat toy. Not even caring that enemies might take advantage of his vulnerable nature, she bounded back into the church without a word. Virion lay prone for a moment to catch his breath, gripping the grass beneath him tight and feeling the heavy footfall of transformed taguel feet causing his bones to vibrate. "She might be mad," he wheezed.
No matter how hard he might have tried, he knew that trying to speak to her during battle was a hopeless effort, so he waited until everything was wrapping up. While everyone else was distracted by Maribelle and her damaged child crying into each other's arms, Virion had slipped away to find Panne. When he found her, his call was identical to when he had saved her, but she was braced for it this time. She whirled around, hand outstretched for a high-speed smack, but Virion leaned back just in time to dodge it. "Don't talk to me," she spat, angry that her energy had gone into a smack that didn't connect.
Virion held up his hands, partially to show he meant no harm, and partially to prepare himself for any further onslaughts. "Look, I know I have a lot of explaining to do."
"You're damn right you do," she said, pointing a finger at him accusingly. "However, I am not interested in hearing your half-assed excuses."
"Half-assed?" Virion parroted indignantly. "I'll have you know everything I do is full-assed, thank you very much."
He was hoping the light-hearted comment would calm Panne down, but he overestimated her sense of humor and the gesture ended up pissing her off more. "We are done here."
"You're lucky I don't rip your head from your shoulders right here and now, so fuck off!" With that, she whirled around and marched off, holding back tears with the sheer force of her anger.
Virion bit her lip as he watched her storm away. "Shit."
That night, Panne's rage ended with a shredded tent. As she stood above its tattered remains and admired her handiwork, she was approached by a very concerned healer. "Panne...are you alright? Do...do you need a new tent?"
An ignored offer was thrown out. "She can sleep in mine. Most people think it's a ghost tent anyway, since nobody seems to notice the person sleeping inside it..."
Panne took a deep breath before answering Lissa. "No, I'll be fine. I've slept outside plenty of times before." Lissa knew the answer, but she asked about what happened anyway, flinching a bit when it actually came out of her mouth in fear of the repercussion. The answer came in the form of Panne turning around and glaring at her. "You knew he was back," she accused. When Lissa responded with stammering, she continued, "how long has he been here?"
"W-well, you see," Lissa tugged at one of her pigtails nervously. "He...kind of alerted us to the trouble in Valm, so he's been here since the start of this journey."
"And when were you planning on telling me?" Panne snapped.
Lissa pouted and gestured to the destroyed tent. "So that didn't happen to me!" Panne's eyes glazed over, and Lissa could sense a mood swing coming on. She relaxed her voice before continuing, "and I wanted him to tell you himself. On his own time. None of what's happened between you is my business, so I shouldn't interfere." The starkness of the mood change overwhelmed Panne, and she felt herself get dizzy. Lissa—and some other invisible force—rushed to her side to keep her from falling, fanning her face in the meantime. "Ohmigods, are you alright? You should really take it easy."
A few moments later, Panne was sitting in the middle of her wreckage, taking deep breaths and calming herself. When Lissa was sure her friend was okay, she left with, "I know you'd rather not, but at least hear him out. You don't have to forgive him, but he seems to have a reason for not coming back."
Those words haunted Panne for the rest of that night spent under the starry sky. Why should she give a damn what Virion had to say? He said everything he needed to by leaving without a word, so what was the point of listening any further? In the end, she was only going to hear that upstart spin some flowery version of "he didn't love her now that she wasn't pregnant with his child."
Wait, no, love was never involved. Why would it have been? Regardless, hearing him try to climb out of the chasm he dug himself was not appealing, so she resolved to not even give him the opportunity.
Unfortunately, he took every opportunity he could to try and explain himself, which was met with cold shoulder after cold shoulder, and one time that even came with a punch to the gut. Days passed, and battles were fought, during which Panne and Virion both underperformed thanks to everything that was on their minds. Of course, the genius that was their tactician picked up on this immediately, and asked Lissa, who was definitely closer to Panne than anyone else, to help out a bit. "I've no clue what Virion's issue is, but I'll trust Cherche to handle it. And since I doubt the two are connected, that would leave it your job to dig Panne out of her rut."
Unsure of how she kept getting dragged into this, Lissa took her assignment with a sigh. She did have a plan though, and that involved the good old inviting both people to the same place and forcing something to happen strategy. Owain thought of it; she only hoped it would work. After extending the invitation to Panne and asking her cohort in this scheme to invite Virion, the two sat in her tent, nervously awaiting the visitors. Panne was the first to duck in, visibly unhappy with the third person in the tent. Regardless, Lissa invited her to take a seat right next to her so they could chat. "I hope you don't mind Owain being here. His father's busy for the night," she said. He actually was busy with patrolling the camp, so it wasn't a lie, and therefore couldn't be called out by Panne's sensitive ears.
"It's fine." The tone with which she said it made Lissa wish she could hear heartbeats herself. "What is the occasion for inviting me over?"
Lissa nodded, making sure to word what she said in a way that was still true enough to not cause an increase in heart rate. "I just wanted to talk about what's been going on recently is all."
Panne looked nervous, eyes darting to the third person in the tent. "With him here...?"
"Fear not," Owain assured her. "While I don't know exactly what's going on, I swear on my twitching hand that not a word of it will leave my lips." He dramatically held one hand in front of his face to illustrate his point, which ushered in a moment of awkward silence.
The silence was broken by the plan coming into place. Virion pushed into the tent and started to greet Lissa and Owain, but stopped cold in his tracks when he saw Panne sitting next to Lissa. "Er, wrong tent?"
At the same time that Panne tried to command him to leave, Lissa jumped to her feet and grabbed his arm, urging him to stay. Owain also held a hand up to tell Panne to stay where she was. "Alright you two; Robin's noticed you guys being distracted during battles, and we don't want the Shepherds losing two of their most valuable units." Perhaps Owain wasn't the best person to deliver the ultimatum, but he did, dramatically posing as he said, "in all her plucky wisdom, my mother thinks it may have something to do with your relations to each other. Now, I don't what went down between you two, but nobody is leaving this tent until it's resolved!"
Lissa nodded, walking Virion further into the tent and making him take a seat across from Panne. "If you need us to, we can step out so you can handle your problems privately, but tonight, you two are coming to a peaceful, civilized resolution to your problems. Virion, you have some real explaining to do, so you start." When she finished speaking, she nodded to Owain, who took the hint and slipped outside quietly (for once).
Panne crossed her arms and cut Virion off with, "I'm not interested in hearing his excuses."
Virion sighed, looking to the ground in between them solemnly. "I don't blame you," he said. "I know that what I did was unforgivable, inconsiderate, and extremely stupid, but you at least deserve to know why I did it."
Panne was quick to supply a reason. "Because you didn't give a damn about the feelings of the woman who was carrying your child. If there was no child to take care of, why did it matter how distraught I was going to be?"
"Hey, that's not true!" Virion leaned forward, indignant. "There was a reason I had to leave!"
Panne wasn't convinced, asking, "what if the child had lived? Would you have left then?"
Virion opened his mouth to respond, but nothing came right away. "I...that's a good question."
Without another word, she pushed him to the ground and stood to leave. "I've heard enough. We're done here." Lissa held her arms out in front of the exit with a determined look on her face, but was quickly dispatched by a threat to transform while still inside the tent and tear it to shreds.
Perhaps mending the mistakes of the past was going to be more difficult than anybody thought.
This is a bit of a shorter chapter, but I hope enough happens to make up for it.