Title: healing descant
A/N: For the Fire Emblem Writer's Zine! I got to write about Azura and her healing descant!I wanted to focus on some early Hoshido/Azura love.
Summary: As far as Azura was concerned, Hoshido was the same as Nohr. No one liked her here, no one needed her, and if she got hurt, well, she was on her own.
However, as far as the royal family was concerned, Azura was one of them now. And family took care of family, no matter how small or big the scrape.
Azura tried not to cry. Lying flat on the stone path, she wanted nothing more than to curl into a ball and ride out the pain shooting up her legs. Unfortunately, she was in the middle of the Hoshido gardens. If this place was anything like Nohr, where prying eyes were rampant and a harmful hand might make her bruises worse, then she needed to find a safe place to take care of her injuries.
Gritting her teeth, she pushed herself off the ground. Her knees burned and she forced herself to ignore the pain until she was sitting. Inspecting her stinging palms, Azura's eyes widened as she took in the blood and dirt smearing her skin. She must have fallen harder than she'd thought. Azura only had herself to blame; she hadn't really been paying attention to the ground as she'd explored the Hoshidian palace. As with Nohr, the gardens were her safe havens, though the ones here were filled with lush green plants and clear ponds, unlike the thorny rose bushes of home.
Home. Home was Hoshido now. Azura felt her vision grow blurry and she hastily wiped her eyes. She had been in Hoshido for all of a month and she wasn't sure what hurt more: that no one had come to save her or that no matter where she went, she was hated. The eyes here were just as sharp as the ones in Nohr, the words equally cruel. Servants whispered loudly about the lost princess, about the evil girl stolen in her place, not caring a whit if Azura heard them or not. While the royal family had been kind when she stood in front of them, trembling, that must have been an act. It wouldn't be too long before there was a knife in her back.
In the end, home was nowhere. Most likely no one in Nohr even noticed she was gone. Maybe this was her fate, to be carted from place to place, a bargaining chip until she was no longer needed.
A small dagger of pain pricked her knee and Azura shook her head. Now wasn't the time to feel bad for herself. Examining her legs, she winced. The bottom of her skirt was dirty and torn and pulling it up revealed two scraped knees. Small droplets of blood welled up even as she patted them clean. She'd have to find some bandages. Maybe if she snuck into the infirmary, she could take some and find an overlooked corner to take care of herself. Hopefully the first aid kits were left unattended.
She started at the sound of her name. Looking over her shoulder, Azura stared in surprise as two girls ran toward her. If she remembered correctly, the older redhead was Hinoka and the slower, more exhausted one was Sakura. The royal princesses of Hoshido.
Who knows what they'd do to her—quickly, Azura scrambled to her feet. Her knees ached as she stood and she hunched down slightly, trying to keep her legs in a comfortable position. "Y-yes?" she mumbled as the pair got closer, not sure if she should run or stay still. Garon's retainers liked to chase and it was usually better to just let them push her around.
"Azura! I saw you fall!" Hinoka panted, almost falling over herself as she came to a stop. Hands on her knees, chest heaving, she breathed heavily as she asked, "Are you okay?"
What was she supposed to say to that? If she took Hinoka at face value, Azura could almost believe she cared. "I-I'm fine," she answered hesitantly.
"Y-y-you're hurt," Sakura stuttered, finally catching up. Her face was bright red, and Azura wasn't sure if it was from running or shyness. "Y-y-you n-need healing!"
"Healing?" Hinoka straightened up before studying Azura. Her jaw went slack as she caught sight of the blood stains on Azura's skirt. "YOU'RE HURT EVERYWHERE!"
Azura flinched as Hinoka reached out for her. Stepping back, she shook her head and clutched her arms. "Thank you for your concern, but I can handle this."
"You can't!" Hinoka bounced on her toes impatiently. Her hands pumped around wildly like she had more energy than she could contain. "You're hurt."
"M-mother can h-heal her," Sakura suggested, gesturing at the palace behind.
"That's right!" Hinoka grinned, hugging Sakura excitedly. "We can go there." She rushed over to Azura's side. "You can lean on us until we get there."
"What?" Before Azura could react, Hinoka wrapped an arm around her waist, holding her tight. It had been a long time since she'd stood this close to anyone, a long time since anyone had touched her without meaning to injure. She stood stock-still, staring at the slightly older girl in confusion.
"Hmm?" Hinoka raised a brow. Her expression turned apologetic and she relaxed her grip. "Sorry, was that too tight? Does it hurt?"
"N-no," Azura replied, shaking her head. Hinoka's hand was warm, even through the layers of her dress. It was strange. It was nice.
"You sure?" Hinoka repeated, leaning forward to peer at her knees. "I mean, those look really bad, you even tore through your pretty dress." She huffed out a self-depreciative chuckle, running a hand through her short hair. "I guess I'm not one to talk, I get like this every now and then too. Ryoma always yells at me after."
A loud, male voice called out behind them, "Azura! Hinoka!"
"Yep, just like that." Hinoka sighed sadly. "Always tell me to take more car—" Her skin paled as she realized that this wasn't her imagination, this was real, and Ryoma was quickly jogging up the path toward them, Sakura in tow. Red-faced, she was gesturing at them and then at the palace. "Ryoma!" Hinoka squeaked, almost letting go of Azura.
"Are you okay?" Ryoma asked, coming to a stop in front of them. Azura had a brief feeling of déjà vu. He crouched down, resting a hand on Hinoka's shoulders. "Did something happen?"
"Y-yeah." Hinoka's voice maintained an unnaturally high pitch as she nodded her head quickly. "Azura's the one hurt this time, not me."
"Azura?" Ryoma turned to her. Up close, he was even bigger than Azura remembered, a giant teenager who felt broader than she was tall. His hair was like a lion's mane, just barely pulled back into a ponytail. For such a fierce looking man, his expression was oddly gentle.
Still, despite that, she recoiled slightly when he reached out. His eyes widened and she flushed, ashamed. They were so kind, so very very kind, and here she was, expecting the worst out of them. "Sorry."
"It's okay," he reassured her, still looking soft. No matter how hard Azura searched, there wasn't a trace of anger over her rejection, just an ever-flowing well of caring. "It must be hard, living in a new place." Ryoma kept his hands on his knees and inspected her from a distance. "That looks like it hurts. Is it okay if I carry you back to the palace?"
No, she almost said, but she wanted to be brave. Wanted to try, for these people who were trying to reach her. It was all strange and all new and she clutched the hem of her shirt tightly. "Please."
Somehow, he understood her plea and nodded. "Alright then." Turning around, he said, "Hinoka, help her on my back."
"A piggy-back ride!" Hinoka grinned, firmly holding onto Azura as she struggled onto Ryoma's back. "Lucky!"
"Yes," Azura muttered, wrapping her arms around Ryoma's neck. She buried her face into his thick hair. "Lucky."
Lucky she had been kidnapped to such a bright place. Lucky the people living here were so kind. Next time, next time she'd be the ones helping them. Healing them.
Her sight blurred again, and this time she didn't fight back the tears.