Unhappy Stories

(Spoilers for Fire Emblem Engage, up to Chapter 11.) Alear looks for Céline during a feast. They share some sad moments remembering the fallen.

Author's note: This game is giving me so much inspiration you guys.

Spoilers for Fire Emblem Engage up to the end of Chapter 11. Also content warning for death mentions and discussions of grief and loss. I'm having big feelings as I go through this playthrough and I'm writing them all out on this page babey.

(This includes the cast as it stands in my playthrough right now. A fair few people have died so far...)

Okay, but really, if you continue reading and get spoiled it's your own fault.

Ready? Let's go.

"Hey, Boucheron, could you move your tight ass over? Your enormous muscles are blocking the food."

The tall, muscular axeman scooted aside. "Ah, I'm sorry, Etie." It didn't get the redheaded archer to leave him alone, though. "... Is there something else you need?"

"I'm just watching what you eat," Etie said, hand on her chin in contemplation. "Maybe if I eat what you eat, I can finally match your build..."

"I promise you, no matter how many times you ask, there's nothing special I'm doing," Boucheron protested. "I'm just taking what looks good."

From the opposite side of the serving table, Alfred popped up into the conversation, handmade "Flex for the Chef" apron and poofy chef hat on and spatula in hand. "Oooh, are we talking about bodybuilding diets? Etie, take notes, I'm going to need that info, stat!"

"Already on it, my lord!" Etie chirped, matching Boucheron's plate as exactly as she could.

Boucheron sighed, an incredulous laugh bubbling out of him. "You two seriously can't be stopped..."

Beside them, already seated at a table, Alcryst and Lapis sat side by side. Candles were lit in front of two of the chairs of the six-person table.

"You were amazing out there, Lapis," Alcryst said earnestly. "I want to make it up to you."

"I keep telling you, you really don't have to worry about that kind of thing... Protecting you is my job, you know!" Lapis protested, though her voice suggested she wasn't quite sure if that was true - or if she was happy with it. "You make it up to me by paying me for it."

"That's not the kind of relationship I want to have with you, though," Alcryst insisted.

Lapis focused her attention on the food, a faint blush on her cheeks. "That's... sweet, but..."

"Relationships, is it?" Diamant said as he and Jade settled at the table. He chuckled, picking up a fork and picking at the salad. "Are any of you dating?"

All three of the others at the table stared at their food. Jade cleared her throat, her eyes darting between the food and her prince. "No, I don't believe there's time for any of that. There's a war on, Prince Diamant. And I'm quite busy with my novel..."

"Love can blossom even on the battlefield," Diamant insisted, raising his eyebrows. "Tell me, has anyone here caught your fancy? We will be in close quarters for quite a while... It might be a good time to establish some... diplomatic relations." He winked at Jade, who stared back at him in confusion.

At the table across the cafe, Framme's head perked up at the word 'love,' and she barely stopped her chewing before blurting out, "Do you love anyone here, Divine One? Anyone at this table, maybe?"

"Framme, please, eat like a lady," Vander groaned. "You are in the presence of divinity."

"I almost died out there! Everything tastes the best it's ever tasted!" Framme insisted through a full mouth. "Tell 'em, Divine One."

Alear was busy watching Ivy, who was sitting far from everyone else with Kagetsu and Zelkov. The two retainers seemed to be trying to appeal to Ivy, who was staring intently at Alear. Alear shook her head, turning toward Vander and Framme with a distracted smile. "Uh... yeah. It got pretty dicey out there."

"Would that I could have joined you," Vander said, head bowed. "Alas... these wounds keep me from the fight..."

Beside them, Anna applauded as Yunaka casually tossed her knives in the air, juggling them without even looking. "If I had skills like you, I'd charge admission."

"If you had skills like me, you wouldn't need to charge admission," Yunaka said, returning the knives to their sheaths. "I guess I should eat."

"Hey wait, what do you mean I wouldn't need to?" Anna asked, tagging along beside Yunaka as she went to retrieve some food from the selection Alfred had prepared.

"Nothing. Don't worry about it! Just forget about what I said."

There was one presence noticeably missing, however.

"Prince Alfred! Where's your sister?" Alear called to the cook of the day.

Alfred looked up from minding the grill. "Hmm? I don't know, I haven't seen her yet today. Why?"

"She should come and eat," Alear said, getting out of her chair. "I'll go get her!"

"I'll come with you," Framme said, hopping out of her chair too. "Always by your side!"

"That's okay, I'm just going to go find her on the Somniel." Alear patted Framme's arm. "You can keep eating, and I'll be back before you know it. But... thanks. I feel a lot safer knowing you're here."

The princess turned out to be sitting near the edge of Lookout Ridge, staring off into the distance.

"Princess Céline," Alear called. She sat down beside her, looking toward the horizon with her. "Your brother made quite the feast to celebrate us coming home safely. Will you be joining us?"

"I'm not hungry," Céline mumbled. Her stomach growled loudly, immediately proving her a liar. She turned her head away from Alear.

Alear frowned and put a hand on Céline's leg, a delicate touch for a delicate lady. "What's really wrong?"

"It's... I can't bear to see it. All of them, so happy together. I want to be happy for them too, but I'm just... I... I don't belong there."

"I think all of them would be happy to see you there. I know I would be." Alear tried to meet Céline's eyes and give her a reassuring smile. "Does this have to do with why you haven't fought alongside us since we undertook Tiki's trial?"

"I have never belonged on the battlefield," Céline said firmly, finally looking at Alear with tear-streaked eyes. "That was made clear to me then. So I gave my Emblem Ring to Prince Alcryst, and I resolved to provide support from the sidelines." She lowered her head. "Take the Emblem Ring from Yunaka and she is still a deadly shadow in the trees. Take the Emblem Ring from my brother and he is still a brave hero, a banner all can rally behind with his sword and his horse and his muscles. Even little Anna... She is frightening with an axe." Céline winced, shaking her head. "But without Celica I am nothing. Just a girl in a dress with a book, well out of place amid a war. I truly don't belong there."

"Do you really believe that, or are you just beating yourself up because of Louis's death?"

Céline looked like she'd been slapped, tears starting to her eyes. "N... not just Louis. Chloé, too. Clanne. And even Celica, now. All taken from us because of me."

Alear started to open her mouth to disagree, but Céline talked over her. "No. Don't try to reassure me. Don't try to make me smile. They died because of me. Their blood is on my hands. Everyone I have ever loved has gone into danger on my behalf and not returned. Chloé and Clanne trying to save my life after my foolhardy blunder. I deserved to die then, but I'm still here because of them." Céline was quiet for a moment. "Then there was Louis obeying my dimwitted orders to leave me and go to your side. He told me he thought he would serve better at my side, but I sent him away, because I thought surely..." Her voice broke. "Surely Louis..."

Alear wrapped her arms around the princess in a tight embrace as she cried. When there was a lull in the crying, she finally spoke up. "I won't argue with you if you don't want me to. But you must remember, they died to protect you. They died because that was the strength with which they loved you. So much that they would give their lives for you."

"I am not worth their lives," Céline insisted between muffled sobs. "I was never..."

"Are you going to say that their sacrifices were wasted? That they were wrong to love you so much?" Alear asked quietly. "Would you disrespect their memories like that?"

Céline shook her head, lips pressed together.

"Firene needs its princess," Alear told her. "And Alfred needs his sister. I have caught him looking around for you in battle. He misses you, even though he claims to understand your decision not to participate in combat. Louis and Chloé knew that."

"But I need my Louis and my Chloé," Céline whimpered into Alear's chest. "I can't be brave nor strong without them."

"You truly loved them, didn't you?" Alear asked, caressing the princess's back.

Céline nodded, chest shuddering with a sigh. "More than anything... Chloé and I would always chat about our fairy-tale dreams together... from when I was small... She told me she'd teach me to ride a pegasus one day. And then before I knew it, she was laying on the ground gasping out my name because even bleeding to death, all she could think of was my safety... And Louis... Always ready to keep me on my toes in training... He was so strong and stable, I felt like everything would be all right as long as he was here. He felt... he felt immortal. Invincible. But he was not. And because I believed he was, he is dead. I turned my back on him for a moment and he slipped away."

"It must have been terrible to see them fall," Alear whispered. "Céline... I'm so sorry..."

Céline looked like she was about to cry again, but her eyes couldn't manage any more tears.

"You know, you aren't the only one to suffer this sort of loss," Alear murmured, tipping the princess's chin up.

"What do you mean?" Céline asked, voice cracking unsteadily.

"Alcryst and Lapis hold little memorials for Citrinne all the time. Diamant has set up a small gravestone for Amber, and Jade visits it after every battle. The brothers from Brodia dearly miss their father. Framme still has nightmares and wakes up calling for Clanne. Anna has been alone since the day we met her. My mother... I'm brought to tears just thinking about the moments of being with her that I lost because of what happened to her. She was so excited to meet me, and..."

The Firenese princess lifted her head. "Oh, Divine One... I... I hardly even thought about..."

Alear gave a sad smile, shaking off the feelings. "It's all right. But what I mean to say is, you don't have to bear this burden alone. Even Alfred wishes you'd talk to him more about it. We're all here for you. We're all in this together."

"He noticed, did he?" Céline laughed wryly. "I should have guessed I wasn't being terribly subtle about my grief..."

"Louis and Chloé knew that in this war, they might one day have to make a choice between your life and theirs. They made that choice of their own will. I'm grateful that you're still here with us, even if I wish they could be too. And I miss them, but... we have to move forward. So that their sacrifice will not be in vain. To stop the Fell Dragon and his underlings from taking any more people from us."

Céline's head drooped. "... You're right."

"And Celica is not dead. Only missing from us. We will get her back." Alear squeezed Céline's shoulder. "And if it's okay with you... I'd like for you to be there with us when we do."

Céline smiled tearfully at Alear. "... I really should be there for that, shouldn't I?"

"Yes, you should." Alear stood, nodding encouragingly and offering a hand. "Come on. Let's go get you some food. It won't do for you to waste away from starvation after what's been given to keep you alive. And your brother has outdone himself today!"

Céline tentatively accepted the hand Alear offered. "Thank you, Divine One."

"Think nothing of it. We all look out for each other here." Alear beamed to the group as the duo returned, waving. "Hey everyone! Someone didn't hear the dinner bell! She's here now though!"

"Princess Céline!" Diamant called, beckoning her over. "I would love for you to sit with us, as my brother and our retainers are not exactly sparkling conversationalists. Please, come breathe some life into this discussion or I fear I may fall asleep in my plate before the meal is done."

"Hey, Lady Céline!" Anna yelled, rushing over toward Céline. "I got a new idea for my Firene branch I think you're going to like!"

"Oh, my! Perhaps you can come along with me to the Brodian table, then? We can even discuss extending your franchise to Brodia with Princes Diamant and Alcryst..." Céline chuckled good-naturedly, heading over.

Alear mouthed a silent thank you to Diamant before retaking her seat beside Framme.

"Geez! You were gone a long time, I was counting! Everything okay, Divine One?" Framme asked.

"I think it will be," Alear said, watching Céline take a seat with the party from Brodia. Alfred offered her a plate and she gave a wet smile, the siblings sharing some affectionate talk. Diamant leaned over to add something, and the whole group laughed. "Yeah, I think it will be. Anyway, I've barely had anything to eat! What's a dragon got to do to get some food around here?"