(Spoilers for Fire Emblem Engage up to Chapter 17.) Alear finally connects the dots about her feelings about Framme.
It had been a few days since the incident where Framme had been severely wounded by Marni. Pandreo had finally given her the go-ahead to rest. And Framme had tried very hard to respect what she'd been told - to treat her stitches with care, to take it easy. To help the medicine do its work. To sit still for a while.
But when the Divine Dragon was right nearby, it was hard to sit still. Framme's crush had not been dampened at all by the way the Divine One had swept her up into her arms and carried her away from Marni to safety as their allies' defensive perimeter blocked Marni's path behind them. Even though she had been injured too. Even though she was surely hurting too. She cared. She genuinely cared.
Careful to only take every other step instead of every third step, Framme bounced her way up the stairs towards the Divine One's sleeping quarters at the heart of the Somniel.
And there she was. Alear, the Divine Dragon. Fast asleep beneath a sheet and a half-kicked-off comforter. Having some manner of dream, judging by the twitches in her face and hands. Cheerful as she was, Framme knew that she was always working hard behind the scenes, trying to keep everyone safe and happy. That it weighed heavily on her, and that the loss of Alcryst and Framme's own injuries were upsetting. But now... looking at her placid face, it was clear she'd set all those burdens down. That she'd finally gotten some space.
Framme swallowed hard. She was such a beautiful woman. She had always been. It seemed like just yesterday that she was taken aback by how beautiful the Divine Dragon was up close. Just yesterday that she'd been shocked to see Alear's eyes open for the first time with Clanne by her side. And now...
Maybe it wouldn't be particularly hard to sit still after all. She gingerly lowered herself onto the bed, not wanting to wake the Divine One. Laid on the pillow beside her, just staring at her face while she slept.
Was this... weird? Would it be upsetting to Alear to find Framme in her bed? It wasn't like she meant anything perverted by it. Just... she missed her beloved Divine One. Alear's responsibilities to Florra Town and Framme's efforts to care for the devastated Lapis had kept them apart for the past few days, since that battle.
Her eyes scanned Alear's face, landing on her soft pink lips. They looked so soft and tender... Framme ached to feel them against her own lips.
This was a terribly familiar ache. The desire to feel their hands touch, the desire to be held by her, the desire to kiss her... Somehow, being so close to Alear had only made it worse, even though being close to Alear was also the only thing that made it better.
Framme had not had much time for romance, what with her parents' rigorous religious study program, her extensive martial arts training, and then her full-time steward duties. She'd never kissed anyone, much less been kissed. She'd never been touched tenderly. She'd never even had a real relationship, just been flirted with by someone she was studying with once. She couldn't imagine what those things would be like, exactly. But a part of her said they would be very, very good. And she wanted them more than anything in her life.
Her finger reached up, trembling, toward those beautiful pink lips. She couldn't really do it... but...
Alear's brow furrowed. The peaceful face was broken by a pained expression. Small whimpers came from her throat as she twitched in her sleep.
A nightmare? Framme gently reached forward, softly touching Alear's cheek. "Divine One, wake up!" She gave Alear's cheek a few light slaps, just enough force to try to wake her up without hurting her. "Come on, Divine One! Wake up!"
Alear startled awake finally, breathless like she'd just run a marathon. Her eyes, unfocused at first, scanned the girl in front of her, slowly syncing up and meeting Framme's eyes. "F... Framme... hey. What are you doing in my bed...? What's up? What time is it?"
"It's 10 PM," Framme said softly. "I just got back from spending some more time taking care of Lapis."
"Oh..." The Divine Dragon seemed confused at first, trying to remember the name. "She doing okay?"
"Yeah." The memory made Framme's lips curve upward. "She was so cute, falling asleep with her head on my lap like that... After like an hour, she called me fur face and shoved me off the bed, so I left after that. I really wish there was more I could do for her..."
"I'm sure she really appreciated the lap pillow," Alear assured her. "I would, if I were in her shoes."
Framme fidgeted with a corner of the sheet on the bed, letting her mind briefly wander to the image of giving the Divine One a place to rest her head right in her lap. It was a good image, and it made her stomach fill up with butterflies. "A-Anyway, I wanted to see you, Divine One, 'cause I really missed you. I was just watching you sleep for a while because I didn't want to wake you up... Sorry for being weird."
It got her a smile from the Divine One, at least. "I missed you too, Framme. I've gotten too used to having you right by my side. I don't want to be without you. And I admit, it's a little nostalgic for you to be watching me sleep. Actually, I... had a dream about you."
"A dream about me? Heehee, that means I'm the girl of your dreams, then!" Framme teased, but how happy she was that it was true, even in some limited sense.
Alear winced. "It was actually, er- more like a nightmare."
"Oh." The young steward closed her eyes, trying to swallow down her disappointment.
A delicate touch from Alear's fingertips on her cheek sent chills up and down Framme's spine, and she opened her eyes again. "Not like that. I mean that in the dream, I lost you."
"You'll never lose me," Framme said earnestly. "I'm going to be here for you as long as I live! Right by your side, every day..."
"And you won't sacrifice yourself for me, right?"
Framme scratched her cheek. What an odd question to ask of a steward... "Weeelll... I can't do a lot of protecting you if I'm dead... so if I was gonna sacrifice myself, it would only be to save you from something really dangerous."
"That's a relief," Alear breathed. A small tear dribbled down her cheek. "That's a really big relief."
"Is this about Prince Alcryst?" Framme asked in a small voice. "Because we lost him?"
"No... well, yes, partly, but just..." Alear's eyes got shiny with tears again. "I'd never seen you hurt that bad before. I was really scared you would die trying to protect me from Marni. I can't stop thinking about it."
Framme glanced down toward her stitches, embarrassed. "I guess I really messed up on that, huh...? Sorry to make you worry, Divine One..."
"No. No, don't say that. It's not your fault. And- well, it taught me something. It taught me that..." Alear reached forward, gently holding Framme's chin with one hand. "... I can't bear the thought of losing you."
"True blue steward, with you to the end!" Framme said cheerily. She patted the Divine Dragon's arm. "I won't leave you."
"No, it's... Just wait, okay? I'm not finished." Taking a deep breath, Alear added, "I want you to be closer to me. So I can know you'll always be with me."
"Closer?" Framme asked, tilting her head curiously.
Alear took up Framme's hands in her own. Two hands holding the Divine One's... Framme's heart melted.
"This is... really hard for me to say. And I can't promise anything until this awful war is over - I'm in too much danger all the time to know that I'll be able to be there for you forever. I wouldn't want to do to you what I'm afraid is going to happen to me. But assuming we both make it out of this alive, and however long this accursed war takes..." Alear paused, drawing in a deep, deep breath. "... I want you to be my girlfriend."
It was so sudden and unexpected that Framme's jaw dropped. She wanted to scream with excitement, but knew she'd rip her stitches if she bounced the way she wanted to.
But it seemed Alear had mistaken Framme's pleasantly surprised shock for distaste. "I-I mean, I don't want to ruin our friendship... I know it's not always easy taking care of someone like me, and I understand that you're here with me because it's your job-"
Framme put a finger to the Divine One's lips to stop this before it went any further. "Well, yeah, silly! It's my job because I love you. Because I've always loved you from the moment I first laid eyes on you."
"So..." Alear's eyes went between the comforter and Framme's face.
"Yes! Yes yes yes!" Framme managed to scooted closer to Alear with a laugh, tucking herself against her beloved. "Can we just start now, though? I'd rather love you and lose you than never get to love you at all."
Alear's body was warm and comfortable from the comforter, and she gratefully accepted her steward into her arms. "... Yeah, Framme. I'd really like that."
"Okay," Framme said in a small voice. "Then... I guess I'm your girlfriend..."
"You are mine, and I yours," Alear said gently.
The two women cuddled in silence, the longest time Framme had ever managed to keep herself from talking. She didn't want to fall asleep and miss a second of this moment... but eventually, the heaviness of her eyes got the better of her. Her first night sharing a bed with her beloved...
Maybe she'd even get a kiss next...