[A/N: Imagine me, playing Trails of Cold Steel 3, thinking a lot about these characters again, and trying to figure out a couple of ideas for writing a Laura/Emma fic, and also a Tita/Renne fic. And then I start writing Alfin/Elise instead. Why am I like this?
Perhaps this is in part due to the “what your favourite Trails/Kiseki ship says about you” list I saw on twitter the other day. Even with 32 ships on there somehow only one of my top three made it onto it, which I was a little surprised by. Like I don’t think either of the two first ships I mentioned above are so strange that they wouldn’t be brought up? Especially not compared to some of the really far out there ones on that list. And I would have thought Estelle/Joshua/Khloe as an OT3 would be blindingly obvious, but I guess not. While not in my top three, Elise/Alfin did make the list, so maybe that was enough to get my thoughts going in that direction.
So here you go. Just a short scene with the two of them featuring an accidental confession. I don’t really have a better/longer idea for now, but it was desperate to get out of my head and into text.
I stay away from spoilers tying this directly into the story in any way, except that Elise became student council president, I guess.]
Paperwork. Seemingly endless paperwork. Not that it had been entirely unexpected when Elise Schwarzer had become the student council president. She wasn’t so naive as to think it would be easy. Far from it. Yet some days it was harder than others. Especially those days where her thoughts were quite firmly stuck in a different place. It was like her eyes could see the words on the paper, but her brain refused to process them as sentences with actual meaning.
An idle thought made her wonder if situations like this were what made her father remove his glasses, rub the bridge of nose, and try cleaning said glasses before continuing to read. No, not these kinds of thoughts exactly. No way. Elise didn’t have any glasses to remove anyway, so she had to settle for letting out a deep sigh.
“They say your soul will escape if you sigh like that.”
“Eeeeep!” Elise jumped high enough in her seat that her thighs hit the underside of the desk.
“Elise! A-are you okay?” a startled voice asked.
“I’m okay…” Elise hadn’t had enough upward force for it to really hurt. She looked up. “I didn’t hear you come in, Your Highness,” she said to the golden-haired girl standing there.
“Ehe… well, I might have tip-toed in… a little bit. Didn’t think you would be scared that badly.” Alfin Reise Arnor, second child (and only daughter) to the emperor of Erebonia, had the decency to look a little embarrassed. For a few seconds. And then it was gone.
“I swear…” Elise shook her head. The princess was also her best friend.
“I’m sorry. I honestly didn’t think you were that deep in thought,” Alfin said, then a playful smile came forth. “But wait… that blush in your cheeks… were you perhaps thinking about… someone special?”
“W-what? Don’t be ridiculous,” Elise said. At times it felt like being the princess’s friend just meant you got teased more.
“Your deepening blush says otherwise,” Alfin insisted in a delighted voice. “Did you get an orbmail from your brother~? Full of loving concern?”
Elise mustered up enough defiance to glare. “Your Highness, please! You know that was just a childish crush,” she said. “I’ve moved on.” Which was the truth. She had told herself years ago how it wouldn’t work out, and being at St. Astraia for the past years had helped her accept it. Of course she still admired Rean, but no longer like that. Their paths were different. Though Elise’s path was…
“Oh really? Moved on? To whom, hm?” Alfin was apparently not inclined to leave it at that. It was possible she did not actually believe Elise, but was merely going along with it as a new avenue for teasing.
“That’s…” none of your concern, was what Elise probably should have said, but the words got stuck.
“Ooohhh, have you perhaps been swayed by a certain Marquis’s son? I’m sure Rean would be happy to hear that!” Alfin said, and giggled. It was a lovely sound.
But that didn’t matter at the moment. “Not funny,” Elise said. Patrick Hyarms had apparently had a ‘love at first sight’ experience when he and Elise first met, and while she was flattered, she had never felt the same. For various reasons. While Patrick and Rean had become friends since their rough start, her brother did not approve of Patrick’s interest in her. Though things would still be a lot easier if she could return those feelings. “Unfortunately my feelings are far more impossible…”
“Impossible?” Alfin gave her a confused look.
“Er…” Oh no. Elise hadn’t meant to say that out loud.
“What do you mean?” Alfin asked.
“Nothing,” Elise said. “Please forget it.”
“No way!” Alfin placed both hands on the desk. “Now I gotta know!” she said.
Elise leaned back in her chair. “Your Highness, please…”
The princess’s eyes were sparkling. “What do you mean by impossible feelings? Who are you talking about?” Alfin’s excitement was through the roof.
Elise wished she wasn’t seated with her back against the wall. Then maybe she could have escaped. Alfin was too intense to bear. Wait, there were the windows… no, that was too drastic.
And even if she could escape, Alfin would just press her the next time they met.
There was no way she could avoid the princess either. She was exceedingly clever, and good at figuring things out. Including where someone was. But also sometimes not clever enough.
“Just let it be, Your Highness,” Elise pleaded.
“Nope! I’m not leaving until you tell me!” Alfin grinned.
Elise knew she meant it, too. But there had to be some way out of this.
“Hmm… if you won’t tell me, I’ll just have to start guessing until I hit the right one,” Alfin said, and finally took her hands off the desk.
“Maybe my brother?” Alfin pondered. “But which one? … Olivert?”
“No!” Elise had never even considered that.
“No! Neither!” Maybe the window wasn’t that bad of an idea after all. It was only the second floor.
“How about one of Rean’s classm-”
Elise couldn’t handle it any longer. “Argh! It’s you, okay? It’s you, Your Higness!” Her head hit the desk. Or at least the stack of papers right in front of her, which softened the blow.
“Eh? Haha, good one,” Alfin said. “That’s not-” Then she paused. “Wait… you’re serious?”
Elise just groaned. She shouldn’t have said that. She definitely shouldn’t have said that.
“Elise? Are you serious?” Alfin asked again.
Elise lifted her head from the desk, and looked up. Alfin’s expression was a weird mix of uncertainty, apprehension, and… something else she couldn’t identify. Part of her wanted to try to take it back, but it wasn’t right to lie. “Yes,” she said, and nodded slightly.
Alfin’s eyebrows shot up. “But I’m…”
“The princess, yes,” Elise said. She was well aware. So there was no way it could work. Even if she wasn’t the heir to the throne, it was still a huge gap. Rean might have gained enough status that it might have been considered acceptable, but probably not even then. So for Elise it was absolutely impossible.
“Aha… I was going to say ‘a girl’, but that too I suppose,” Alfin said.
“Huh?” Elise hadn’t really thought about that as an issue, considering…
“I guess with being in an all-girls school such things aren’t entirely uncommon,” Alfin said, as if finishing Elise’s thought. “I had just assumed… hmmm…” She was tapping a finger against her cheek.
“Please just forget about it, Your Highness,” Elise pleaded again. “I shouldn’t have said any-”
“Okay! I’ll allow it,” Alfin said with a firm nod.
“W-what?” Elise stared at her.
Alfin placed a hand on her chest. “I, Alfin Reise Arnor, shall accept your feelings, Elise Schwarzer,” the princess said with a note of authority in her voice.
“Y-you… what?” Elise brain was struggling to catch up.
“On one condition!” Alfin raised a hand with her index finger extended.
“You have to call me Alfin.”
Elise blinked. “I… I can’t…” Even though she was her best friend, it had never felt right for Elise to call Alfin anything but ‘Your Highness’, or at least ‘Princess Alfin’. It just wasn’t proper.
“Come now,” Alfin said with a wide smile. “Surely you agree I can’t have a lover who doesn’t call me by name.”
Something went pop in Elise’s head. “L-lover?!”
“Yikes. I think the whole school heard that, Elise.” Alfin winked, and giggled.
Elise quickly put her hands up over her face. She didn’t even want to think about how she looked. “You’re just teasing me!” she squeaked.
“I’m not,” Alfin said. “Well… maybe a little, but…” Something warm touched Elise’s hand, and she peeked out between her fingers. It was Alfin’s hand, and she gently wrapped her fingers around Elise’s pinky. “I’m serious, Elise,” she said softly.
Elise was frozen. Alfin was so close.
“Besides, I kinda bullied you into blurting that out, so… I should take some responsibility, right?” Alfin smiled at her.
“Y-your Highness,” Elise managed to stammer forth.
“Though I am very serious about you calling my name,” Alfin said firmly. “So if you are also serious…” she left the sentence hanging.
Was she serious? Elise had intended to leave these feelings unsaid like she had done with those she used to have for her brother. But she wasn’t a child any longer. Even if it was by accident, Alfin now knew. And beyond that, she was reaching out to her. Even if it was impossible, perhaps she should aim towards a better future. Everyone else seemed to facing the impossible head on these days.
“I…” Elise slowly lowered her hands, though Alfin didn’t let go of her finger. “Y-you… I am. Or at least, I want to be… A… A-alfin.” Saying it felt really weird, but the reaction from Alfin was immediate.
The princess lit up like a lamp someone flipped the switch on. It was blinding. She grabbed both of Elise’s hands, and held them up. “Let’s do our best, Elise!” she said.
“Uh… y-yes, let’s,” Elise said, though she didn’t know what their ‘best’ actually meant in this situation.
“So! When did you fall head over heels for me?” Alfin asked excitedly.
“Uh…” Elise hadn’t said anything about ‘head over heels’. “I’m not sure,” she answered. She wasn’t sure exactly what that would be like, either. Maybe it was correct, maybe it wasn’t.
“Don’t be shy~. Was it love at first sight? People keep telling me how brilliant I am, after all~!” Alfin beamed. Sometimes it was very easy to see how she resembled her older brother.
“No,” Elise said quite simply. It definitely hadn’t been that early. It had probably happened gradually, and she couldn’t even quite remember the first time she had become aware of it. It had been a little while, though.
“Awwww, Eliiiiise!” Alfin pouted.
In spite of how overwhelmed she felt, Elise couldn’t help giggling. It was amazing how strongly Alfin had reacted to Elise merely saying her name. Perhaps… even though she was surrounded by friends, and admirers… perhaps the princess felt lonely.