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“Would you stop being so hopeless?”

That caught him off guard.

“I-I’m sorry, what?”

“What I’m saying, Leo, is that if you keep staring at my brother like he’s the cutest pegasus in the stables any longer, my skin is going to start desquamating.”

“Desqua- Corrin. I didn’t even know you knew what that meant,” Leo exclaims.

“I didn’t. I read it in one of your books yesterday,” she explains, picking at a loose thread on her blanket. “But you’re avoiding the question.”

“You said your brother. Surely you don’t mean Xander,” he implores.

“‘Surely you don’t mean Xander,’” Corrin mocks, her voice taking on a squeakier quality. “Of course I don’t mean Xander, you idiot. I’m talking about Takumi. Long hair, pouty face, attitude like someone slipped a fish in his boot - you know the one.”

“Yes, yes, I know the one,” he humors, rolling his eyes. “What does he have to do with anything?”

“He has everything to do with anything,” she answers as if that explained it all. “Don’t play coy.”

“I’m not- agh whatever. I can’t even talk to you right now. You’re never this blatantly acidic, and frankly I have no idea what’s gotten into you, sister.”

Leo has never known his sister to act so...brash. When she’d called him up to her room, he thought she just wanted to return the books he had lent her, maybe ask for some new ones. He hadn’t expected...whatever this was.

“Don’t you ‘sister’ me,” Corrin berates him. “And it’s all your fault, anyway.”

She puffs out her cheeks and looks down at her feet. Pouting.

Ah, there’s the sister he knows and loves. It’s not like her to be so irate, so when she reverts to her default manner of petulance, Leo can’t say he’s not relieved.

He comes to sit next to her, gingerly placing his hand on her back.

“Sister, please tell me what’s wrong. I’m afraid I still don’t quite follow.”

He hears her breathe out a laugh. She shakes her head and looks at him with a certain softness in her eyes.

“You don’t even have an inkling of an idea?”

Leo shakes his head.

“So book-smart, yet so socially hopeless,” Corrin chuckles, patting her brother’s head fondly.

“Says the girl who spent over a decade secluded in a fortress,” Leo mumbles.

“Alright, alright. Truce,” she waves her hands in front of her. “Okay, let me lay this out plainly for you: You want to bed my brother.”

“I - I want to what?!”

Corrin snorts. “You know. Sleep with him. Bone him. Have se-”

“THAT’S enough,” Leo’s standing now, heading to the door.

“Wait, Leo, I-” she calls between bouts of laughter. “Wait, wait, waitwaitwaitwaitwait -”

“What?” He says over his shoulder, hand on the doorknob.

Corrin gulps in a large quantity of air. “I’m actually being very serious.”

“Clearly,” he gestures back to her as she continues to wipe tears from her eyes.

“Don’t be like that. Hear me out, little brother.”

“Fine.”

“I know that look in your eyes, the one when you look at him. You’re usually all rigid and stoic or whatever, but when you guys are together, you loosen up a bit. Laugh more. Enjoy yourself. I really do think you like him a lot.”

Leo is red down to his neck, and does everything he can to avoid eye contact.

“I don’t - Do I really? I can’t, I mean, I’m not in love with him or -” he heaves a deep sigh. “He’s a good friend, a better one than I’ve had in recent years. I don’t think of him like that. I can’t,” his flush deepens. “And even if I did, we’re both guys, and -”

“Please,” it’s Corrin’s turn to roll her eyes. “This is the army we’re talking about. You don’t honestly think that people of the same gender don’t get together all the time. Gods, your own retainer could tell you the same.”

“What Niles does is his own business,” he murmurs.

“Precisely! It’s his business! So if you like Takumi, that’s your business.”

“I...I guess…” he agrees. “But that doesn’t mean I like him or anything!”

“Sure, whatever you say. But please, would you do me a favor? Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, please consider your feelings. I don’t think I can take any more of your puppy dog eyes, or Takumi’s pestering -”

“His pestering?”

“Oops!” Corrin smirks. “Looks like I’ve said too much!”

“Wait, Corrin -!”

“Well, it was nice talking to you! Let me know how everything goes okay bye!” She shepherds him from her room without another glance.

 

Leo is a mess.

Ever since his talk with Corrin, he’s been obviously out of sorts.

He likes to tell himself that she’d been putting ideas in his head; crazy, convoluted, impossible ideas. He likes to tell himself that he’s only been paying attention - scrutinizing attention - to Takumi as a result of her harassment. He likes to tell himself that no, he hasn’t become self-aware of existing behavior, but of behavior that has just taken a sharp turn.

Leo likes to tell himself that he’s never had feelings for Takumi, and that his careful observations of his Hoshidan counterpart only came about because of his sister’s interference.

 

“But Corrin -”

“No, Takumi! How many times do I have to say it?”

“You can’t be serious. You won’t even help me through this one thing?”

“Agh,” Corrin sighs, furrowing her brows. “Look, let me be honest. You and I both know I’ll cooperate whether I say I will or not. So why are you going out of your way to bother me?”

Takumi’s shoulders drop in relief. “So you will help?”

“Yes, stop looking so surprised,” she puts a finger up to his chest. “I told you I would last month, remember? You know I never go back on my word.”

Takumi mumbles something indecipherable.

“Oh, stop your moping, brother. I talked to him last week, you know.”

“Y-You did?”

“Of course. I’m doing everything I can to get my dear, sweet, idiotic brothers together as quickly as possible.”

Takumi wrinkles his nose. “Please don’t put it like that, Corrin. When you say you want your two brothers together it makes it sound like -”

“Oh, hush, Takumi. You know as well as I that out of the three of us, none of us are actually even blood related. Stop being a baby.”

Takumi scoffs. “You don’t need to remind me, sister .”

Corrin raises an eyebrow. “Don’t use that tone with me. Next thing I know, you’ll be calling me ‘Nohrian scum,’ and then who will you go to for relationship advice? Hinoka? That girl would rather stick her naginata through a training dummy and gawk at Camilla - she’s got her own problems.”

“Sorry,” Takumi looks at the floor.

“Ah, don’t be,” she pats his shoulder. “I know you’re just being grouchy as ever, little brother. I might even say that Elise has surpassed you in her maturity since the war’s been through.”

“I - Wha -? Hey!” Takumi exclaims. “You’re no Rainbow Sage either, if I remember your episode from last week correctly.”

“That was hardly unjustified. It’s not exactly easy to lose an entire grand piano.”

“Yeah but you kept whining like a little -”

“I get it I get it. Jeez, now I know how Leo felt when I kept yapping.”

“Speaking of which,” Takumi switches the topic of conversation. “What exactly did you talk to him about?”

“Oh, a little of this, a little of that,” she taps her chin, pondering. “I told him to talk to you a bit more, that kind of thing.”

“Are you sure that’s all you told him?”

“Well, basically, yeah. I may have sort of implied that you like him -”

“You WHAT?!” Takumi explodes, grabbing his sister’s shoulders and shaking her.

“Relax, it’s not that big a deal.”

“Um, excuse you. No wonder he’s been acting distant lately….” Takumi releases his vice grip and turns to take a seat at Corrin’s table. “Sister, you’ve probably given him an existential crisis. When I asked you for help, this isn’t what I’d pictured. I thought that, since you know him better than anyone, you could help , but instead -”

“Hey now,” she interrupts. “I am helping. Regardless of the person, I think that once someone is aware of their feelings and affections, it’ll be easier to act on them, no?”

“That’s easy for you to say,” the young prince gives his sister a pointed glare. “Half the army is in love with you, and the other half hasn’t realized it yet.”

“You flatter me, brother. But stop diverting the conversation. This is about you. You’ve told me a million times how pretty you think he is, how clever, how dedicated,” she enumerates. “Quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing about it. So I thought only to speed up the process of getting this damn thing over with so you can both be happily wed and out of my hair.”

Ouch. Harsh.

Takumi flushes, but offers an indignant response nonetheless: “For the record, I haven’t told you a million times -”

“Okay, so like fifty, realistically. Still too many, though.”

“- and I fail to see how this affects you to the extent that you’d make such a rash decision,” he continues, ignoring Corrin’s interruption. “You’ve gone and given the poor Nohrian a heart attack!”

“Relax, Takumi,” she tells him. “I actually did think things through before inviting him over, though it was perhaps more rushed than I’d have liked. Leo is the kind of person who likes to think, to deliberate. He’s going to continue sitting on this until he reaches a logical conclusion, and then you’ll find out how much he adores you.”

“If you’re sure….”

“Of course I am.”

 

Corrin was wrong.

It’s been three weeks, and still nothing.

Actually, Takumi thinks, it’s even less than nothing. He and Leo have held maybe two meaningful conversations since their respective talks with Corrin, and little else in between. Before all this had happened, he and Leo would talk nearly every day, train together, study together. The sharp turn of events was a shock, to say the least.

Now, occasionally, Takumi’s periphery would pick up Leo’s stares. Every time he turned to catch him in the act, the Nohrian prince would look away.

It was infuriating.

It wasn’t Leo’s fault, Takumi would tell himself. Corrin’s just been messing with the boy’s head. He could tell that Leo was conflicted, but every time Takumi made to talk to him, he thought better of it.

Holding in his emotions for this long is something Takumi is unaccustomed to. He usually had no problem speaking his mind, but this was something incredibly delicate. He couldn’t just break his silence with foolhardiness and fervor. He had to be careful.

And it was killing him.

This leads him to his most obvious solution: it’s been a while since he shot something.

Takumi grabs his Fujin Yumi and makes his way to the training grounds. No one’s around at the moment; most of the army is either travelling about between countries or, for the ones who remained at camp, still full from dinner.

He starts with a warm up. Simple stretches. A lap around the field to calm his nerves. Then he moves to the targets, squaring up and letting out a deep breath.

He closes his eyes, string pulled. He opens them on the release; an arrow finds its home at the edge of the target, then dissipates. Takumi sighs.

Well that’s no good.

He plants his feet once again, raising his elbow almost perpendicular with his body and pulling the string once again. Lets out a breath. Releases.

The magic arrow strikes the bulls-eye.

Heh. That one’s for Leo. Damn bastard.

The thought catches him off guard, but he’s already drawing the bow again before he can elaborate.

The arrow strikes the center once again.

He won’t talk to me.

He draws again

Won’t even make eye contact.

The arrows keep striking their target.

Why won’t he just make up his mind, dammit?

Takumi can’t feel his fingers.

Maybe it’s me.

His eyes burn.

I should have said something.

His throat is dry.

Should have talked to him instead of going to Corrin and made everything more confusing

His brows furrow.

It’s my fault.

Eyes squeeze shut.

My fault.

The arrows aren’t even hitting the target anymore.

My-

“Takumi! Hey! Takumi!”

Who is that?

“Takumi! Are you alright?!”

They’re getting closer, but Takumi doesn’t care. He stands there, string pulled.

“Talk to me! Please, what’s wrong?”

Takumi lets go, but he doesn’t feel anything slip through his fingers, doesn’t feel an arrow being loosed.

The Fujin Yumi is a special weapon, Takumi remembers. It requires a high level of concentration to make the arrows, or even the bowstring, appear. Intense mental effort is needed to wield it. This mental strain is something that Takumi has honed over the years, finally approaching the point where drawing it is as simple as breathing.

Yet even he can’t maintain the focus that the yumi demands in this state of mind.

“H-Hey...It’s okay,” he hears the person say. “It’s okay, Takumi.”

There’s a hand at his back. “Takumi. Look at me.”

He blinks. Looks up.

“Leo.”

The Nohrian prince smiles. “Hello Takumi.”

“Uh…” Takumi’s not sure what to say. His yumi is on the ground - when had he dropped it? - and he’s on his knees.

“You’re crying, you know,” Leo points out. He’s never particularly been the best during emotional conversations.

“I am,” Takumi had meant for it to be a question, but it comes out flat. He wipes his eyes and finds that his hand comes away tear-stained.

“Why are you out here all alone, Takumi?”

“I was...training…”

Leo exhales through his nose, disbelieving. “Sure you were. That’s why your yumi wasn’t shooting off any arrows, or why you’re sitting on the ground.”

That snaps Takumi back to life. “Well maybe I was just taking a break!”

“For some reason, my friend, I don’t believe you,” Leo shakes his head.

“Well why are you out here?” Takumi says accusatorially.

“I came to find you, actually. Corrin told me I might find you out here.”

“Corrin told you, huh? That damn dragon.”

“I see you’re not too happy with her right now. She told me you might not be, either.”

“Damn right.”

Leo sighs. “Look, Takumi, she was just trying her best. We put her in a really awkward situation.”

We put her in a really -? Leo, you can’t be serious.”

“Oh, but I am.”

“Agh, whatever. So, what did you want, anyway? After weeks of not speaking, all of a sudden…” Takumi trails off, unwilling to finish that statement.

“That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about,” Leo says. “I, uh, wanted to thank you. Uh, for giving me space, I mean. While I sorted things out.”

Takumi blinks.

“I know you enlisted our sister for help, and I know the reasons for that,” Leo continues. “I think I understand all of that perfectly. I really just needed time to think things through on my own, you know? It took a while, and for that, I’m deeply sorry.”

“Sure, uh, don’t be sorry. Even though I’m not quite following.”

“Takumi,” Leo says, face blushing a bright red. “I wanted to be certain.”

“Certain? Certain of what?”

“This.”

And with that, Leo leans in and presses his lips to Takumi’s.

Takumi freezes.

What the - Is this actually happening?

He’s still not quite sure what’s going on, although he does have some semblance of an idea. But he does know one thing for sure.

So he presses back, finally, enjoying the pressure that Leo’s lips leave on his own.

Breaking away, Takumi smiles. “Well, I guess Corrin is good for some things, yeah?”

Leo just laughs, bowing his head down onto the other’s shoulder.

“Yeah.”