Dorothea had always hated war. When she was young and a child, she worried about battles and what the point of war even was. When she was performing with the opera, she cringed over the depictions of war and tried her best to perform without making her discomfort obvious. At Garreg Mach, while she was grateful to be there, she hated every time they were in battle.
Now, though, there was an actual war going on. Dorothea fully believed in and chose to fight for both Edelgard and her cause. But she still hated war. While she didn’t always agree with Edelgard’s belief that fighting was the only way, she agreed with her about her goals and, thus, fought with her. She would stay by Edie’s side no matter what.
But, Dorothea hated war - and she was reminded of how much she hated war when she lifted her head up from casting a spell on the battlefield to see Ingrid in her sights.
Her heart caught in her throat as she stared across to see Ingrid - beautiful, wonderful, funny Ingrid - on her pegasus staring at Dorothea with shock in her eyes. For a full second, memories of kissing Ingrid, going on dates to the main town, dancing at the White Heron Cup flew through her mind. Memories she’d fought to keep at bay and forget once Ingrid informed her she wouldn’t be joining Edelgard’s cause - she’d be staying with Dimitri.
“Dorothea,” Ingrid said, as soldiers fought, swords slashing and spells being cast as the battle raged on around them. Her voice was deeper now and her hair was shorter than Dorothea remembered. She looked even more beautiful than she did in Dorothea’s memory, lance at her side, sitting beautifully atop her pegasus.
Dorothea swallowed harshly, her mouth and throat suddenly dry. She opened her mouth to say something back to Ingrid - but what could she say? What was she supposed to say to someone who had promised her that they would stand by each other’s sides no matter what? And then left?
Dorothea could hear the battle raging on still, but it was so far in the background it was almost like she was watching an opera about war.
“Ingrid,” She said, and while saying her name used to fill Dorothea with a feeling of warmth and safety, all Ingrid’s name does now is fill her with an icy sense of dread of hurt. Despite Dorothea’s internal reaction to Ingrid’s name, a small, private smile filled Ingrid’s face, a smile Dorothea had been so used to seeing.
Dorothea had thought her feelings for her former paramour were gone - apparently, she had thought wrong.
“I’m glad you’re alive,” Ingrid said, dismounting off her pegasus and walking toward her. Dorothea still hadn’t moved, almost frozen to the spot. As Ingrid approached closer, maybe about two feet away from Dorothea, she let out a loud, “Stop.”
Ingrid stopped abruptly, eyes almost comically wide. They stood, staring at each other for a moment, as Dorothea fought to find her words. She had wanted to say a million words to Ingrid when they fought at Garreg Mach, but all those words seemed to have left her. Say something, Dorothea demanded of herself.
“W-what are you doing, Ingrid?” Dorothea asked and she cursed herself for how heartbroken she sounded. Ingrid’s soft smile, which had been on her features, quickly fell.
“I-” Ingrid started to say but she didn’t get to finish - now that Dorothea had said something, all the anger, all the hurt, rushed through her.
“We’re enemies Ingrid - you made that abundantly clear when you left me. When you decided following Dimitri was better than following Edelgard who’s goal is to dismantle a system you hate -”
“Do not speak poorly of my king, Dorothea. Edelgard is not trying to dismantle crests, she’s trying to -”
“What, Ingrid? Provide equality for the people? Making a person’s worth not based on whether or not they have a crest? Letting people choose their own destiny? I thought you of all people would understand that.” Dorothea’s voice had hardened and at those words, Ingrid took a step back, almost as if Dorothea had slapped her.
“Dorothea…” Ingrid said, clearly trying to say something else but all she did was trail off.
Dorothea knew, later, she would cry about this. She would climb in the cot that the army was using while they traveled and cry about things that she couldn’t control. Ferdinand - and that was still weird, that she considered him a good enough friend to cry with - would fret and make her a cup of tea and hold her as she cried.
Now, though, Dorothea had to be strong. She was not going to cry over losing Ingrid, no matter how much it had hurt.
“Dorothea,” Ingrid said again, and Dorothea shut her eyes briefly, her name coming out of Ingrid’s mouth causing a wave of hurt to flow through her, “we...were close, once. We were one. I dare say we were almost the same.”
A million emotions Dorothea couldn’t even begin to describe rose in her at once and she let out a slow breath, closing her eyes briefly. They had been close, they had been one - Ingrid was right. But that had been what felt like a lifetime ago and Dorothea and Ingrid? They had never been the same.
“We were never the same,” Dorothea said firmly, her voice as sharp as knives and as unforgiving as the cold Faerghus winds Dorothea had experienced, “and we never will be.”
At those words, Dorothea watched as Ingrid’s face fell, her expression crumbling from almost hopeful to devastated in a matter of seconds. Internally, the girl who had fallen in love with the shy, spunky blonde Faerghus noble, broke. Outwardly, Dorothea stood firm, her gaze sharp and strong, staring at Ingrid, as if daring her to disagree. Ingrid still looked devastated and opened her mouth to say something but Dorothea didn’t want to hear it.
She knew it wasn’t going to be, I’ll join you, Dorothea. I’ll keep my promise to you. I’ll stay with you, so what did it matter what Ingrid said? Ingrid had already broken her heart once, she was not going to let her do it again.
“Ingrid,” and she wanted her voice to be strong, to be cold like ice, but it came out raspy and weak, like Dorothea was on the verge of a breakdown (she was), “please. Go. I don’t want to hurt you.” All the fight that had been Dorothea moments earlier fell out in a rush and she suddenly wished she had never seen Ingrid.
“Meet me,” Ingrid said and her voice was as unstable as Dorothea’s. Dorothea floundered at Ingrid’s words, at the implication of them.
“When the war is over - we’ll meet and we’ll talk. And...go to those stupid operas you love so much,” Ingrid said and god, Dorothea wanted to cry then. When the war is over, Dorothea thought, then we’ll meet.
It was a nice thought and Dorothea smiled at their own naiveté. Who’s to say they were even going to be alive when this war ended? But Dorothea, despite her best efforts, was a romantic at heart. And she still, somehow, loved Ingrid.
She’d wait for her. She would’ve moved mountains for Ingrid at Garreg Mach and she’s only lying to herself if she said she wouldn’t now.
“Okay,” Dorothea said quietly, giving her a sharp nod, “after the war. I’ll send you a letter. We’ll meet at a marketplace or something. Meet at those taverns Sylvain likes to frequent,” Ingrid nodded sharply at her, giving her a sad, soft smile.
“Yeah,” Ingrid said, backing up towards her pegasus, that heartbreaking smile still on her face, “after the war.”
Ingrid mounted back on her pegasus and Dorothea was once again taken aback by how beautiful she looked. Foolishly, she wanted to run forward and kiss her, but she didn’t. They were on opposites of the war - they were enemies. Dorothea tried to give her a watery smile and Ingrid seemed to notice, only looking at her in such a way that Dorothea knew that Ingrid knew what Dorothea she was trying to say.
I love you, still. She tried to say, but her lips couldn’t move.
I know, I love you, too, still. Ingrid seemed to say back and Dorothea swallowed hard, again. Ingrid said something to her pegasus, that Dorothea couldn’t quite catch, and suddenly she was gone. Her pegasus was up in the air and Dorothea was left on the battlefield.
Dorothea let out a shaky breath, blinking rapidly so tears did not fall down her cheeks and gave herself a shake. Don’t let Ingrid distract you from winning this battle, she thought to herself, sucking in another deep breath so she felt more in control of herself.
A hand, touching her shoulder, jolted her out of her thoughts and she jerked away from the touch and looked back, only to see Ferdinand.
“Dorothea,” Ferdinand said, as he sat proudly on his horseback, looking worriedly down at her from above, “are you alright?” Dorothea nodded, breathing in deep and letting out a long breath.
“Yes,” Dorothea said, looking up at Ferdinand, “I’m okay.” The words were almost true. Ferdinand looked doubtful, opening his mouth to object, but Dorothea reached her arm up to squeeze his hand with hers.
“We’ll speak about it later, I promise. Let’s focus on this battle,” Dorothea said, giving Ferdinand a smile, and while it was still a little watery, it was stronger than before. Ferdinand gave a nod and a quick smile, squeezing her hand back, before dropping it and riding out ahead to find another enemy to take down.
Dorothea flexed her hands and followed. She would worry about Ingrid later - there was no time for it now. Now it was the time for war.