[A/N: Originally this idea was just to have some goofy scenes of the four young girls asking someone older for advice, then I felt compelled to add a scene for that advice bearing fruit for each pair as well. Honestly didn’t expect to get this many words out of it.
I guess this is part me wanting to do a follow-up on the Alfin/Elise fic I put out before Chris-mas, and part me being a frustrated Renne/Tita shipper watching Cold Steel 3 push its Agate/Tita agenda heavily and explicitly. I didn’t like it in Sky, and I don’t like it now. I will never surrender, no matter what the canon says!]
Princess Alfin Reise Arnor had some new developments in her life that she desired some advice on. And her best (by virtue of being her only) option was her older brother prince Olivert. Maybe that was an unfair way of thinking about it. Unless his stories were all complete fabrication, this was an area he had some experience and insight into.
And it just so happened that the two of them were in the same place at the same time, which was rarer than Alfin would have liked. He had his faults, but she really liked her brother. So she knocked on his door.
“Come in,” said a voice from inside.
Alfin opened the door. “Good afternoon, brother,” she said as she stepped into the room.
“Alfin!” Olivert sounded delighted. “To what do I owe the pleasure? Wait, we didn’t have some meeting I have forgotten about, did we?” He was holding a book that he had probably been reading.
“No, none of the sort,” Alfin said as she walked closer, and took a seat. “I need your advice on a very important matter, Olivert.”
“Oh?” He placed the book down on the table, and gave her an intrigued look.
“How do you make a girl happy?” Alfin asked. She had considered several options to find a delicate way of asking, but in the end decided it was for the best to be straightforward.
“Oh, Alfin!” Olivert’s expression lit up. “Has your flower finally bloomed?” he asked.
Alfin blinked. “Has my… what?”
“Yes, I can see it in your eyes,” Olivert said. “What wondrous news. And you have no idea how happy I am that you would trust me to guide you, dear sister.” He reached for the special artefact he always kept close.
“H-hey! Who are you calling?” Alfin asked, but Olivert ignored the question. “Olivert!” She raised her voice, but still didn’t get a response.
There was a moment’s waiting, and then: “Maybelle! How are you faring?” … “Do you not remember me?” … “Indeed, it is Olivier, bard without peer.” … ” Yes, it’s been a while. Listen, I would love to catch up, but first I have a very important favour to ask of you. There is a certain cottage that you and Lila occasionally retreat to for some much needed privacy, yes?”
Until that point Alfin had only been able to hear Olivert’s side of the call, but a sudden and very loud outburst came through clearly: “HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY KNOW ABOUT THAT??”
“Let’s not worry about such details. I merely request that you make a reservation for two, with all the privacy you are usually privy to.” … “No, not for me. This time, at least. It’s for someone very dear to me.” … “Let’s see… two weeks from now would be perfect.” … “Yes, thank you. I owe you one.” … “Well, that’s… details. We can discuss it later, I have a conversation to return to.” … “Good day to you too. And thank you again.”
“W-wha… Olivert?” Alfin was confused about what had just happened.
Olivert put his artefact away. “There we go. I have booked you a stay at a cottage near Bose in Liberl. It has a beautiful view of the inland sea,” he said.
“Uh… um… thanks?” Alfin still felt bewildered. “But-”
“Don’t worry. Two weeks from now is a holiday week, right? So you are free to go on a trip,” Olivert said confidently.
“Um…” It was true that she hadn’t made any plans for that week. None that couldn’t be cancelled, at least. “I suppose so…”
“See? Then you can do whatever you want with your beloved,” Olivert said, in a very suggestive manner.
Leaving his tone aside. “But what do I actually do, Olivert?” Alfin asked. That was what she had come here for in the first place.
Olivert’s eyes twinkled. “Do not worry, Alfin. I have some ideas on that,” he said.
As Alfin listened to what he had to say, some of which made her face feel very warm, it occurred to her that he hadn’t actually asked who she was going with.
* * *
Elise felt rather nervous as she listened to the dialing noise, waiting for the receiver to pick up. Maybe this was a bad idea.
A sudden click interrupted her thoughts. “Y’ello, Angelica Rogner speaking,” a husky voice said.
“Y-yes, hello,” Elise said. “I’m Elise Schwarzer, I… I don’t know if you remember me.” It wasn’t like they had talked a lot in the brief time they had been in proximity to one another towards the end of the civil war, but at the very least Angelica was a person who was hard to forget. And who had a certain reputation that might mean she was in a better position to help Elise out than anyone else available to her.
“Oh, Rean’s pretty, little sister,” Angelica said. “Don’t worry, I’d never forget someone that cute~.”
“Thanks?” Elise wasn’t sure how else to respond.
“Angie? Did you say something?” A voice in background on Angelica’s end spoke up.
“I just got a call,” Angie responded, her voice lowered as if she’d turned away from her phone. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” she asked in a clear tone.
“Well…” Elise pondered again if this was a bad idea, but she had gotten this far. Might as well go through with it. “See, I recently entered a relationship. My first relationship. And… I’m not sure how to be a good girlfriend. Can you help me?”
Angelica whistled. “Congratulations. That’s a big question, but I might be able to help. Is it anyone I know?” she asked.
“Um, yes. It’s Alf- princess Alfin.” Elise just barely caught herself. While she was getting better at being more familiar when alone with Alfin, she still felt she should be more proper when talking to others.
“Whoa, the princess? Nice!” Angelica sounded impressed. “Maybe I’m the one who should be asking you for advice.”
Elise felt herself blushing. “T-thats…”
“Anyway, I’d say that falls within my field of expertise. Maybe not princesses specifically, but in a sense every girl is a princess, you know?” Angelica said.
Elise wasn’t sure if she knew.
“I can definitely help, don’t worry. You’ve called the right woman,” Angelica assured her. “What is it you want to know? How to be intimate, perhaps? I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been asked ‘how do two girls do it’. It’s honestly not that complicated.”
“N-no!” Elise said quickly before Angelica got to say any more. That didn’t sound like something she was ready to hear. “More just… regular girlfriend things.” Even if she was unsure what that actually meant. She tried thinking of ways to word it. “How do I treat her? What sort of things should I do? I want to be serious about this.” The confession might not have been ideal, but she didn’t want to make it seem like she was just playing around.
“Maybe you’re taking it too seriously,” Angelica said. “Relationships are supposed to be fun. But I get where you’re coming from. You want it to be special, right? I suggest some grand gesture to make your feelings clear. Like… kidnapping her, and running off to Liberl.”
“… eh?” Elise thought she must have heard that wrong.
“Something like that is sure to leave a big impact on her heart,” Angelica said.
Before Elise could think of anything more to say, a voice spoke up in the background again. Rather loudly: “Angie! Are you telling people to commit crimes again?!”
Elise blinked. “A-again?”
“Crimes don’t apply to nobles, babe,” Angelica replied.
“They most certainly do! Gimme that!” The voice was getting closer.
“But Towa. Is it truly a crime if it’s done for love?” Angelica asked.
“Yes!!! Give… me…” There were sounds of struggling, and some scratching noises. Then suddenly: “That!” The voice of Towa Herschel was suddenly clear to Elise. “Hello?”
“H-hi. Um… Towa?” Elise was confused. Why would Towa be with Angelica?
“Oh, Elise! Hi. Please disregard anything Angie told you,” Towa said.
“You wound me, love,” Angelica said dramatically in the background.
“But… um… why did you call?” Towa asked.
Elise quickly explained the situation again, and Towa promptly took it upon herself to give her some sensible advice. Though Angelica apparently couldn’t resist heckling her a bit in the process.
* * *
Elise was in her room doing her homework. Just because student council work was plentiful and important, it didn’t mean she could neglect her own responsibilities. She had been thinking about everything Towa had told her, and felt she had a better understanding of things. And that she might have been overthinking things a little. Though Angelica’s words hadn’t completely escaped her head either, regardless of Towa’s pleas.
A grand gesture, huh? While she wasn’t as taken with romance stories as some of her schoolmates, she had indulged a few times. But something like that probably couldn’t happen in real life.
Suddenly her door flew open. “Elise!”
Elise jumped as her thoughts were interrupted. “Wha?”
It was Alfin, who hurriedly closed the door behind her. She looked very excited. “We’re going to Liberl!” she declared.
“Oh?” All of Elise’s thoughts piled up, then crashed. “Uh, okay.” Maybe she had been wrong.
“I felt a little weird about the idea at first, but now I can’t wait!” Alfin said. “I’m not sure what to bring. Do you think a swimsuit is too optimistic? It’s warmer down there, right?”
Elise got up, and headed over to her dresser. “I think so,” she said. As sudden as this was, she felt a certain thrill. Like butterflies in her stomach. It was a weird idea, but… “Did you also talk to Angelica?” she asked as she started looking through the drawers. She was fairly certain the two knew each other, considering their positions. And it would make sense that Alfin would be bold enough to follow through with something that made Elise hesitate to even suggest.
“Huh? Angelica?” Alfin sounded confused.
“Yeah, since we’re going to Liberl now, like she suggested,” Elise said. There should be a suitcase in her closet. She might only be able to bring the one.
“Elise? What are you talking about?” Alfin asked. “We’re not going right now.”
Elise stopped, and looked at Alfin. “Huh? But I thought…”
“You thought… what?” Alfin cocked her head to the side while giving Elise a funny look.
So the two of them sat down, and Elise explained how she had called Angelica Rogner, and what the two of them had talked about.
“Hahaha!” Alfin’s laugh was musical. “No, I’m not kidnapping you, silly. I have booked a trip… well, my brother booked a trip for our holiday two weeks from now. A cottage by the inland sea in Liberl, he said,” she explained.
“Oh.” That made more sense. Elise felt foolish.
“Wait a minute…” Alfin leaned a little closer. “You were going along with it, even though you thought I was… did you want to get kidnapped, Elise?”
“W-what? No!” Elise protested.
Alfin grinned. “Maybe you got a taste for it when it happened last time?” she teased.
“Of course not! I just… I mean… maybe if it was you…” Elise decided it was probably for the best to stop talking there.
Alfin giggled, and suddenly hugged Elise before giving her a kiss on the cheek.
Elise squeaked in response.
“You’re so cute,” Alfin said.
Elise tried to calm down. The kiss had sent a jolt through her. “It kinda feels like you’re just happy to have found a new way to tease me,” she said.
“Hm… maybe a little,” Alfin admitted.
“I’ll get you back somehow. Some day,” Elise said. She wasn’t sure how yet, but she’d figure something out.
“Looking forward to it.” Alfin didn’t sound concerned at all. “You know…” She settled down, and gently leaned her head against Elise’s. “When we first met, I never would have imagined we’d end up like this.”
“Alfin?” Elise glanced towards her, careful not to disrupt their position. It felt nice.
“I like to think I’m quite clever, yet I somehow didn’t notice your feelings.” Alfin’s hand rested on top of Elise’s. “But… I have a good feeling about this. I’m kinda excited.”
“Mm…” Elise hadn’t exactly imagined she would fall in love with her best friend either. But… “Me too.” They already knew they got along, so hopefully that was a good start.
* * *
Tita felt a little nervous as she waited for the call to connect. She didn’t really have a good plan for what to say. Maybe there would be no answer, and she could try again later. After writing a script, maybe.
Then there was a click. “Hello?” a familiar voice said.
Tita steeled herself. “Hi, Anelace. It’s Tita. Tita Russell,” she said.
“Oh, Tita! Hi, cutie~,” Anelace replied. “What’s up? How long has it been? Like a year?”
“Uh, yeah, something like that,” Tita said. She couldn’t remember exactly. With everything that was always going on, it felt like she never got to see everyone enough. “Sorry for calling so suddenly. I wanted to ask you something.”
“Oh yeah? No worries, go for it,” Anelace said.
With her not really having a plan, Tita decided to just try saying something. Anything. “Um… you know about girls right, Anelace?” she asked.
“Well, duh. I am a girl,” Anelace said. “I thought you knew that?” She sounded a little confused.
“N-no. I mean, yes I know, but I mean… I mean…” That wasn’t a great start. “You like girls, right?” Tita tried instead.
“Sure! Girls are cute, and I like cute things,” Anelace said cheerfully. “Why do you ask?”
Tita wasn’t entirely sure the two of them were on the same page yet, but all she could do was try to charge ahead. “Well… you see, there’s a girl I like…”
“Is she cute?” Anelace asked.
“Huh? Yeah,” Tita answered. “Very cute, but-”
“Nice! No wonder you like her.”
“Anelace, please. I’m trying to be serious here.”
“I’m always deadly serious about cuteness,” Anelace said solemnly.
Tita face-palmed. She was unfortunately used to people not really listening to her, but it never ceased to be frustrating. “Please just… I’m in love with a girl, okay?” Maybe being direct was her best course of action.
“Oooooohhhhhhhh. Why didn’t you just say so from the start?” Anelace asked.
“I was trying to, I-” Tita sighed. “Never mind. See, the problem is that… uh… I don’t actually know what I’m supposed to do.”
“Tell her?” Anelace suggested.
“W-what? No, I have! Well, actually she told me, but… I mean, she knows! We… ah… w-we’re dating, I guess.” Tita was stumbling a little, but hopefully she was getting the idea across.
“Thanks. But… um… I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do now,” Tita said again. “I’ve never dated anyone before, and… I haven’t exactly learned much about how it works, or what you’re meant to do.” Her mother was rather on the protective side, so she certainly hadn’t gotten much help there. “Especially not with another girl. But I always got the impression that you like… that you are into girls, so I was hoping you might…”
“Aha, I see, I see,” Anelace said. “Well! Big sis Anelace will do her best to help! My first tip is to not think too hard about it. I never do!” She seemed a little too proud of that. “I do have an important question before we proceed.”
“Does she like cute things?”
Tita blinked. “Uh, yes.”
“Good, good! I guess if she likes you, that much is obvious, but I had to make sure,” Anelace said, though it felt like she was maybe making a bigger deal of it than it was. “That makes it much easier to give you suggestions. Like, if we’re talking going on a date, I know some really good locations. And what might be good gifts.”
Tita grabbed a notebook and a pencil, and got ready.
* * *
Renne knocked on the door, like a good, polite girl. After waiting for a moment, she wondered if her fist actually made enough noise. Maybe she should think about an alternate method. But before she actually got to that, she sensed movement inside, and the door opened.
“Yes?” A man with a thin, brown moustache looked down at her.
“Hello, grandpa!” Renne said.
“Oh, Renne! Come in, come in.” Cassius Bright stepped aside, and Renne hopped over the doorstep. “What are you doing here so late?” he asked as he closed the door behind her.
“I’ve come to see you!” Renne said cheerfully. She had figured it was probably best to come after dark, considering her circumstances. Sure she was now working against the organisation to help atone, and all that, but she was still basically on everyone’s watch lists.
“I appreciate that,” Cassius said. “But I would have thought you’d be too busy… wait, how did you get here?” he asked in a wary tone.
“Pater-mater brought me here,” Renne answered.
“Ah… and where is it now?”
“We found a nice spot for them to wait nearby.”
“Don’t worry, they know how to defend themselves if something should happen,” Renne assured him.
“That is exactly what worries me…” Cassius mumbled.
Cassius let out a sigh. “Never mind. Is this just a social call, or did you come here for anything special?” he asked.
“I always knew you were a clever man, grandpa,” Renne said. Maybe not quite as clever as herself, but who was. He did have an edge on her in experience, though. “I actually want to ask you a very important question.”
“Oh?” Cassius sat down. “And what might that be?”
Renne also took a seat, and tried to sound as serious as possible. “How do I make someone my wife?” she asked.
Cassius stared at her. “Pardon? Your wife?”
“Yes.” Renne nodded. “There’s a girl I love, and I want to make sure we’re together forever,” she explained. “But I don’t really know a lot about that stuff.” A general lack of experience with much beyond murder and mayhem was one of her biggest shortcomings. There was only so much one could figure out on one’s own, no matter how clever. But knowing the right person and the right questions to ask was also an important skill.
“I… I didn’t expect that,” Cassius said. “Wouldn’t it be better to ask Estelle and Joshua? It’s been a while since my time.”
“I tried, but they didn’t have much useful to say,” Renne said. “But I thought that since you used to be married, you probably have better advice.”
“I can see your reasoning, but I’m not sure…”
“I…” Cassius sighed again. “I guess I can try.”
Renne grinned. “Yay!” It truly was a magic word. “So? What did you do to get married?” she asked.
“What did I do? Hm… when Lena and I met… Aidios, it feels like an age ago now… a whole lifetime away.” Cassius seemed to be looking at something far away.
“Oh… sorry.” Renne started to wonder if maybe she shouldn’t have brought it up.
“Oh no, no worries.” Cassius seemed to return to the room, and smiled at her. “Well, when we wanted to get married, I went to talk to her parents, and asked for her hand.”
Renne’s eyes shot wide. “Her parents! That’s it!” If she could get their approval, there would be no problem. It seemed so obvious now that she knew.
Cassius blinked. “Huh?”
“I’ll go talk to her parents! Thanks, grandpa! You’re the best!” Renne sprung on her feet.
“You’re welcome, but are you going to go right now?” Cassius asked.
“Uh…” Renne paused. “Good point. I should probably formulate a plan of attack first.”
“I meant more that it’s rather late, and it’s probably better to talk about something like that during the day,” Cassius said. “I also suggest bringing the girl with you. May I ask who it is?”
“It’s Tita!” Renne said with a big smile.
Cassius gave her a blank look. “Tita? Tita Russell?”
“Daughter of Erika Russell?”
“Oh… well… good luck.”
“Thanks!” It might be a tough challenge, but Renne felt pretty good about her chances.
* * *
The atmosphere inside the Russell estate in Zeiss could be described as… tense.
“What on earth would make you think I’ll allow my darling daughter to see a wanted terrorist, let alone marry one?”
Everyone who knew Erika Russell was aware that she could be an intense and imposing figure, who was very protective of her daughter Tita. Perhaps a tad too protective.
“Are you taking her side, Dan?”
“I’m not taking anyone’s side.” Dan Russell generally attempted to take a calmer approach to things, even when it wasn’t easy. He also wanted what was best for Tita.
“Mom, please…” Tita Russell looked rather embarrassed by the scene.
“Well, you haven’t thrown me out yet.” Meanwhile Renne Bright was standing (or rather sitting) her ground.
“That is still on the table,” Erika said, her tone as sharp as a knife.
“I came here in good faith,” Renne said. “If we wanted to, we could have eloped.” Tita gave her a shocked look, since the two of them hadn’t actually talked about that.
“I would have found you,” Erika said. Which was probably the truth. If she felt the need to, she could probably topple a nation to ensure Tita’s safety.
After some careful thought, and discussing the matter with Tita, Renne felt like she understood the difficulty of this task. It was highly improbable that Erika could be swayed by appeals to emotion. Her primary emotion was to protect Tita, and no matter her current position, Renne’s past was what it was. Mere words would not overcome that. It was also impossible to intimidate her. Even if it had been possible, Tita would never have approved of it.
So they needed something to offer. And Renne had one solid bargaining chip. Part of her really didn’t like the idea of using them that way, but she felt sure that they would also want her to be happy. Everyone had to make some sacrifices. Erika was a Russell through and through, and Renne was banking on appealing to that engineer blood.
“If you let me have Tita, I will let you examine Pater-mater,” Renne said. It left a bad taste in her mouth to say it out loud, but she couldn’t take it back.
Erika raised an eyebrow. “Oh? I have a counter-offer. Let me examine that doll of yours, and I will let you remain friends as if this never happened,” she said.
“Mom!” Tita did not sound pleased. “You can’t deny me having friends!”
“Yeah, that’s not a deal I get anything out of,” Renne said. While she didn’t like them being referred to as a ‘doll’, this was not the time to start an argument over that.
It wasn’t like Erika could actually stop Renne and Tita being friends, or being together, especially when Tita was away from Zeiss, but Renne knew that at least Tita wouldn’t want to go too far behind her parents’ backs. And she knew that Estelle and Joshua would not approve of doing that either, which bothered her more than she would have preferred. In a way her time with Ouroboros had been simpler than all this ‘doing the right thing’ business.
“And I don’t really have an incentive to…” Erika paused as she looked at Tita. “Well, I don’t want it to be said that I’m an unreasonable woman,” she said.
Renne just barely managed to keep herself from saying: ‘Since when?’
“Give me free access to the doll, and I’ll let the two of you play around for a while,” Erika said, with the clear implication that she meant: ‘Until you’re bored.‘
“That’s asking a bit much,” Renne said. “But I could agree to giving you an hour for every time Tita and I go on a date.”
“Date?!” Apparently Erika didn’t like that word.
Erika cleared her throat. “An hour would barely allow me to set anything up. I’d need at least three,” she said. Her composure was impressive.
Renne wasn’t keen on letting Erika poke around Pater-mater for that long, or at all. What if she took apart something she couldn’t put back together? They had been together for so long, and if that was broken… yet… she looked over at Tita. If all went well, that could be her future. And that future would require hard sacrifices, and trust. “Three hours maximum,” she said. “And you’d best be careful about not breaking anything.”
Erika scowled. “Fine. I can work with that. In return, I won’t object to you… dating.” She was definitely not fond of that word, but the allure of the research seemed to be overriding her distaste. Maybe there were other things influencing her as well.
“And if this leads to you making a significant breakthrough, then Tita is mine forever,” Renne said.
“What??? No way!” Erika slammed her hands onto the table.
“Mom.” Tita gently placed a hand on top of her mother’s, and looked at her with wide, soulful eyes. “Won’t you accept the deal? For me? For my happiness?”
The brutal link attack of Renne throwing Erika off-balance, then Tita delivering a critical blow proved to be too much to withstand. While it wasn’t quite explicit marriage approval, the deal was struck. Renne’s future looked bright. Brighter, at least.
Posted on December 28, 2019, in Fiction, Storytime and tagged Alfin Reise Arnor, Anelace Elfead, Angelica Rogner, Cassius Bright, Dan Russell, Elise Schwarzer, Erika Russell, fanfic, fluff, Olivert Reise Arnor, Renne Bright, Tita Russell, Towa Herschel, Trails in the Sky, Trails of Cold Steel, yuri. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.