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princess of the battlefield

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For Guts, being a mercenary in the Band of the Hawk had always been different from the experience of being a mercenary in any other group. Apart from the obvious things like never losing battles, it meant that when everyone was killing time in between jobs trying to drink themselves to death, Guts didn’t feel too weird about joining in. It helped that he’d watched just about every Hawk throw up all over themselves or pass out in a puddle at least once, and that he was sure he could take just about all of them in a fight, even if he were drunk off his ass. So when he was called over the night after they left the capitol Guts just grabbed a drink and a seat down on a log between Casca and Pippin in front of a fire.

Griffith wasn't around that night which, if Guts was being honest with himself, was a bit of a disappoint if not too surprising. Still, the company wasn't bad. Most of the other Hawks were pretty drunk but a couple were still working their way through dinner at the same time, and when he sat down Rickert passed him a bowl of stew. He was feeling a comfortable level of full and drunk when Corkus managed to spill his ale over him and Pippin.

“Woah, watch it!” Guts said.

Ignoring him, Corkus leaned drunkenly over Pippin’s shoulder, “Hey,” he said loudly, not addressing anyone specific. “Hey. Whodya think the princess’ll kiss when we get back?”

“Charlotte?” Judeau asked as he sipped his drink. “I don’t think she’s that type of princess.”

"No no no," Corkus said, waving his mug around as he spoke, "she's gotta award one of us for our bravery and valor and sportsmanship! It's a rule!"

 “I thought princess kisses were just for tournaments,” Rickert said.

Guts grunted his agreement. “Those and fairytales.”

“Bah, what do you know!” Corkus said. “You ever read a fairytale?.”

“What, can you read?” Guts asked.

“No! But - ah, whatever. Screw you.” He slid off of Pippin’s shoulder, sloshing more alcohol on himself. Pippin gave him a sympathetic pat on the head. “Man can’t even dream about kissing a princess without you bastards getting on him about it...”

“She’s our princess,” Judeau said, “but she’s not our princess you know?”

“Eh? What the hell does that mean? Who would the Hawks’ princess be then?”

“Probably Casca,” Judeau said mildly. 

Casca, who’d been reclining against a tree trunk and biting into a potato impaled on her knife let out a muffled, “Ha?”

Guts laughed and Corkus said, “But princesses are supposed to be all elegant and ladylike!” Guts immediately stopped laughing and scooted away from Corkus just as Casca threw her knife just shy of Corkus’ ear. He fell over into the mud and briefly struggled to get back up before relaxing into his new position with a sigh.

“I’m lady-like,” Casca insisted. No one responded except for Judeau who mumbled a quiet “sure” into his mug. The air stayed tense as Casca bit savagely into her potato again.

“So,” Rickert finally said. “You really don’t think the princess will kiss Griffith when we get back?”

Guts shrugged. “The royal family’s got a pretty tight leash on her. Don’t think she’s allowed to run around kissing random knights.”

Casca made a muffled sound of agreement through her full mouth. “Not that she doesn’t want to kiss him.”

“Yeah well, he’s Griffith,” Guts said a little quieter, “everybody wants to kiss him.”

“They do?” Griffith said from behind him. Guts shouted and fell off his log, his bowl of stew landing next to Corkus in the grass. Casca jumped at the sudden noise, trying to grab her sword one-handed.

“What the hell Griffith,” Guts said, clutching his chest. He saw Casca stashing her sword away out of the corner of his eye. “You scared the shit out of me."

“Oh, sorry,” Griffith said casually. He was sitting on his heels with one hand on his chin, looking poised and calm but he was just a little wobbly. He stuck out a hand to help Guts back into a seated position, grinning widely as he did. Guts was pretty sure he was very drunk.

“Ah!” Corkus shouted, still laying on the ground. “Griffith should be our princess!”

“Shut up Corkus,” Casca said.

“Me?” Griffith asked, pointing at himself. He looked upwards for a moment like he was thinking deeply about it then said, “Sure. I think I’d make a good princess.”

“Griffith, you don’t need to humor him,” Casca said.

“Well it’s the truth!” Corkus said. “He’s the most elegant and ladylike and stuff!” An image of Griffith in a frilly dress popped into Gut’ head without his permission and he nearly choked on the last bit of ale in his cup.

“Huh? Who gets a kiss then?” Rickert asked. Pippin covered the boy's mouth and shook his head slowly.

Everyone but Griffith turned to stare at Casca who put up her hands defensively. “Don’t - don't look at me!”

Griffith hummed, looking entirely too innocent with his chin in his hands.”Well it wouldn’t be unheard of in a story for a knight to receive the favor of a princess before a battle. Or perhaps as a congratulatory tool after a long quest.” Guts didn't think Griffith was drunk enough to try and kiss Casca, but then again he was rarely a predictable man when sober. 

Judeau laughed. “Who are you kissing then?” He was very obviously joking but Griffith, apparently comfortable with his new role as the princess, turned to Guts with the kind of mischief in his eyes that made Guts wonder if he should run away. But he only had a second to consider that thought before Griffith had him by the ears was kissing him in a way that was neither elegant nor ladylike.

Guts didn’t move when Griffith let him go, stunned into silence like Griffith’s tongue had stolen his ability to talk. Griffith sat down and picked up his drink again. It was dead quiet around the campfire and Casca’s potato rolled off her plate to land in the mud with a plop.

“I don’t think that’s how princesses kiss,” Judeau said quietly.

“Think so?” Griffith said, and damn him was smiling a little when his eyes meet Guts’. “Should I do it again? 

“No!” Guts yelled, finally unfreezing and getting to his feet. Someone was definitely giggling and Guts could feel his face getting way too warm for his liking. At the risk of saying something incredibly stupid like what the fuck, that was my first kiss or worse you're a really good kisser Guts started backing away from the fire. He clearly wasn’t sober enough to exit gracefully so he settled for running away at top speed and spooking several horses when he crashed through a nearby tent.

“Sweet dreams, brave knight!” Griffith yelled after him and the camp filled with laughter.