Time hit against her senses and Alma immediately jumped out of bed with panic.
"Get up! Everybody get up! It's morning!!"
She ran over to the two knights and shook them each hard by the shoulders.
"...unnn...a little more..." groaned Lavian while the red head didn't even stir.
Alma let out a low growl of annoyance from their lack of response before dashing off to her desk.
"Why did I fall asleep, why?!!!"
She dug furiously within the mess of paper for those cursed arithmetic questions. The last thing she remembered before unconsciousness was a clean sheet of unanswered problems though she dreamt of its completion.
Alma bellowed another rising call which finally reached the dull and sleepy minds. Upon realization, they too began to fret, fumbling clumsily with Mime Mammons and ink.
"Ah, there they are!"
Alma picked up the booklet and began to thumb through the thick pile hysterically but became still when she reached the last page.
Alicia and Lavian became silent as well upon discovering a stack of paper which had "I will pay attention in class and learn to become a proper lady from now on" written all over in neat columns of calligraphy.
They simultaneously pointed at each other, questioning its completion but returned head shakes of denial. If it wasn't them, then who did it? Their question was answered once they noticed the still slumbering figure on the bed.
Ovelia finally began to stir from all the racket but surprised to find herself on the bed, warm with a blanket secured tightly around her. She was sure she was on the floor with Agrias not very long ago.
'Agrias! Did-did she carry me to the bed?'
She shyly curled up at the possibility, unsure as to how she should react to this. Agrias picking her up, then tucking her in. That didn't seem like something her bodyguard would do but imaging the situation sent her mind boiling with heat. Agrias had seen her asleep and she hoped she didn't do anything embarrassing during it. But before she could worry further, every inch of air was being squeezed out of her lungs as her mind snapped out of dreamland and into the face of Alma.
"Ovelia! I love you so much I could kiss you!"
"What?" struggled Ovelia within Alma's tight and strangling embrace.
"The math questions, silly! You're so smart!"
Ovelia grinned evilly from what she was going to say.
"I wasn't the one who did them. Agrias did."
The look of shock from the each of them was precious.
"Tell me you're joking." warned Alma, dangerously. There was no way she could accept a favour from her worst nightmare. That would entirely twist her previous impression of the knight and she wasn't about to take it back, admitting her mistake which was already embarrassing enough with the bathroom incident.
"I'm serious. She came over last night...well, morning, and she helped."
"Impossible. I'd be surprised if she could even solve 1 plus 1." Retorted the blonde.
"Actually, it is possible. The captain's family had been calculators for generations though they're only well known if you're in the field." Said Lavian.
Her visage scrunched at the crustiness that was still on her face and hair, reminding Alma and Alicia of their ink mess. Ovelia was quite thankful that she got hers off last night and brought over the wooden basin that sat over at the drawer. Everyone welcomed the towels and water quite eagerly.
"I've heard that her great grandfather was THE royal accountant and treasurer and her great great great grandfather was known as the "Master Mind", able to solve any math problem that existed." Added the red head as she worked to clean the stubborn panda eyes.
"Rumours. Probably fake." Scoffed Alma. The image of an idiotic muscle head, Agrias was too strongly imprinted in her mind and so was the ink around her lips.
"It's true! I think the name was Cata...bia ...something like that."
"Catabia-what? More like a fruit then a name?" snorted Alma, gracelessly.
"It's a last name." Corrected Alicia.
"I thought Agrias's last name was Oaks." Questioned the princess.
"Eh, it's a Fovoham thing. Names in Frovic are harder to pronounce so they use Ivalician middle names as their last name instead."
Ovelia gave a nod of understanding while Alma still looked highly displeased.
"I don't care what her last name is. The fact is she shouldn't have stuck her nose where it was not needed. We could have finished it ourselves." Retorted Alma.
"I'm not about to argue with you so early in the morning. Now that it's done, let's forget it and be happy." Concluded the princess.
It was pointless to dispute with that stubborn girl and she had to be cautious, afraid that a certain topic would come up.
"Yea! I can't wait to see the look on Ophion's face! " exclaimed Alicia.
"I bet a million gil he didn't expect you two to finish!"
They all smiled widely at the thought when suddenly, a couple of knocks hit the door. They went into a frenzy for a last minute attempt of cleaning while Ovelia panicked for a place to hide for her prohibited presence in Alma's room.
"Don't bother. I know you're all in there."
Ovelia immediately recognized the voice and sprung out from under the bed to open the door. A little too enthusiastically much to Alma's dismay.
"Good morning." She greeted cheerily.
Agrias gave her usual bow of respect.
"Oh, it's you." Grimaced Alma though quietly relieved that it was not Ophion. She had felt bad for the slap but Agrias's attitude didn't allow her to back down.
The knight didn't bother to acknowledge the unwelcoming salutation and simply went on to her purpose.
"I've come to escort your highness to breakfast."
"I entirely forget!" remembered Ovelia as she immediately went to pick up her share of papers within the mess. Ophion habitually checked on them every morning and she knew she didn't have much time left to make it back to her room.
"Alicia, Lavian, change then practice." She commanded.
"Yes, Captain." They replied obediently.
Though, Alicia and Lavian both felt obligated to help with the clean up but her captain's fury was something they feared most in this entire world aside from rats.
"Wait! What about my room? Ophion is coming soon!"
"I was placed in charge of morning call. Your room is now approved."
That was not the answer she or the others expected.
"Woo Hoo! Go Captain!" cheered Alicia and Lavian which was silenced with the classic icy look. Now they don't have to feel guilty or actually clean up.
It changed everything as they relaxed though Alma sat there in silence and mixed emotions as Agrias bowed then began to leave the room with her subordinates and Ovelia tagging behind.
Ophion was indeed surprised, even looking a little blue when four stacks of paper were slapped onto his desk. However, he was suspicious about the five different types of handwriting but his students claimed its variations came from weariness. It was obvious where the difference came from but luckily he left it at that after some scrutiny and their most humble apology.
Classes went on and Alma for once behaved. Partly because it was music class which she did enjoy but mostly out of fear. Sadly, Ophion did continue his revenge by criticizing their singing consistently. Every note was deemed off tune though sounding perfectly fine to their only audience, Agrias. She, of course, did not say it out loud.
As every refined lady was expected to sing, an instrument was also a must. Alma had chosen the flute while Ovelia had the harp though it wasn't entirely her choice. The harp was considered a very expensive instrument, practiced only by high class nobles. Her, being royalty, was almost forced into the decision though she did learn to like it.
Music class was followed by math and the girls had to endure a good hour of rigorous note taking that the priest took straight out of a thick book. In addition to that incomprehensible lesson, Ophion assigned plenty of questions "to keep them busy and out of trouble". Alma and Ovelia's first reaction was to consult Alicia and Lavian but that, of course, accomplished little. Their bickering over the problems only led to the discovery that neither of them had ever taken arithmetic. Now only one resource was left; the descendant of the Catabia something something calculator family.
'Should I...or should I not.'
Ovelia pondered circles after circles, trying to decide on this difficult issue. She had wanted Alma to accompany her but of course, she rejected and without her friend the princess had lost the courage to ask Agrias.
'I should.' She finally decided.
But upon reflection, approaching the knight seemed impossible. Her tranquility scared her yet gave off this chilling enigmatic attraction; the same force which sustained her after Agrias's hint of rejection during the first day. Despite their distance, the princess felt her bodyguard's reservation came only from shyness. She too was quiet and timid before meeting Alma. A childhood of isolation gave her nothing but ignorance and silence. It was her first and only friend's determination that pulled her out of a shell of loneliness. And now, Ovelia wanted to be the one to help Agrias out of her confinements. The memory pulled her resolve together and the princess took up her notes then marched out to the room just beside hers. Someone had to take the first step and she was going to. Raising a tense fist, she rapped her knuckles stiffly on the wood and the door opened.
"Go-Good evening, Agrias." Stammered Ovelia.
She had expected complaining idiotic knights or even that senseless Beoulve to share some interesting threats but not the princess at all. Blinking out of her surprise, she bowed her greetings.
"Good evening, your highness." Answered the knight evenly.
Ovelia immediately felt the visit was worthwhile. Agrias was not only out of her armour but the blue jacket as well. The simple beige shirt she wore allowed some curves to show while a pair of brown slacks hung loosely from beneath the shirt. The material was much lighter compared to her uniform and Agrias looked even slimmer then yesterday night. She liked this casual appearance which relaxed the air and pulled away the untouchable image.
"Excuse my disorderly clothing at the moment. I'll go change." Suggested Agrias, noticing Ovelia's stare.
The princess futilely hid her anxiety, unknowingly curling the paper behind her back into a tight roll. She suddenly felt unprepared to face Agrias and her mind was not cooperating to produce decent words. Her bodyguard's concise and confident responses further degraded her own certainty. How she wished she had prepared her lines beforehand.
"I...I-I just want to thank you for helping us again."
"I was only finishing the job."
Ovelia tried to urge herself into the main topic, rearranging words and phrases within her mind but no matter how she shuffled her thoughts; the product simply did not match her requirements. Her hesitation to speak left her idly standing and that familiar silence jumping between them.
"Anything else? It's past bed hour." Started Agrias.
That was it. Ovelia knew this was her last chance and she rushed out the words.
"Well, I-I...I was having trouble with math and si-since-since you were able to solve those questions yesterday I-I-I..."
The thought of a stuttering idiot crossed both their minds and Agrias could already sense her charge's motive but allowed her to finish.
"I was wondering if you could help me." Blurted Ovelia. "Of course, if you're busy or tired, just ignore me."
'I wish.' Thought Agrias ironically.
"May you pass me the questions?"
Ovelia took the papers from behind and faulted at their condition. Her attempts to revert them back to a straight state also failed and they immediately curled back into a roll once in Agrias's hands.
"I'll give it to you in the morning." Replied Agrias without another look. Though it was her charge's responsibility, she was not in the mood to talk and chose the most efficient option available.
"No, no. I didn't mean for you to do it for me. I meant if you could teach me how to do it." Interrupted Ovelia just as Agrias turned to leave.
'Great. Just what I needed.'
"Lord Ophion is your professor in this subject therefore it is best if you consulted such problems with his grace. I'm not qualified to help."
"It's due tomorrow and he's probably asleep by now. Please, just this once."
She looked at Agrias hopefully.
"Whatever pleases you, your highness."
Reluctance was carefully hidden away as annoyance ate at Agrias's mind while her charge took a seeming interest on the floor.
Unsure of the next step, a gap of stillness ate at their conversation until Ovelia unintentionally blurted one of her secret desires.
"May I come in?"
'Oh my god, oh my god! Why did I just say that!! Where did that come from! Someone save me!'
The request felt stunning. Agrias took a quick glance behind her while the princess reverted her attention back on the floor. Visitors were as rare as a blue moon so she never bothered to keep her room in condition. Letting the princess in was not a great choice but she can't possibly shut the door on the princess and ask her to wait a second. It would be rude.
"Something wrong?" asked Ovelia innocently, noticing her bodyguard's hesitation.
The princess smiled and slid past the older girl. She knew she should have asked but Ovelia was eager to have a peek at what a knight's room would look like.
She had expected it to be clean and organized, considering Agrias's personality but surprisingly, it was quite messy. The bed was not made, clothing and pieces of armour were tossed carelessly around while the small desk had books and paper piled and scattered all over. Only a single candle was burning in the entire room which sat alone on the writing table, making the atmosphere of the room seem a little cold and desolate. Agrias sheepishly walked to her bed, roughly flipping the covers over the mess then tried to inconspicuously push her pile of garments, which consisted of more personal items, underneath with a foot.
Ovelia let out a soft chuckle.
"Don't worry about it. I don't mind."
'Better not.' Thought Agrias, irately.
Then something caught her eyes over at the shelf beside the desk. As if drawn by magic, Ovelia walked towards it with wonder and curiosity. There stood three clear bottles of interesting shapes each sealed with a cork, standing out within all this simplicity. One was a sphere, the other resembled a large cup and the last one was shaped like an upright cat. What was even more amusing were the little stars inside. Small like pebbles but puffy with different colours and patterns. Countless of them filled the bottles until their rims though the cat had only a few inside. She had never seen anything so pretty. No portrait hanging in the halls, no sophisticated carving could compare to these.
"What is this clear stuff?" she whispered, mesmerized. Ovelia gingerly reached out and touched the cat. It felt cool, smooth and even a little slippery underneath her fingers.
"A type of material produced in Fovoham."
Ovelia continued to admire the beautiful piece of art until Agrias reminded her of her purpose. They went to the desk where the princess immediately noticed the strips of colourfully decorated paper, two finished stars and another one is the midst of completion.
"It's so pretty!" exclaimed Ovelia. "Did you make all those stars in the glass bottles as well?"
"Could you teach me how to make them?" she asked eagerly.
"Princess, your questions?"
"Sorry. " whispered Ovelia shyly. Once again, she had digressed and now fretted about leaving another bad impression.
Her bodyguard pushed books and paper out of the way then politely pulled out the chair in which the princess sat.
"What do you not understand?" asked Agrias, hovering above.
"I'm not sure. I just can't do any of the questions."
"None." Confirmed Ovelia.
That was not the answer the blonde knight wanted to hear. Nevertheless, she randomly picked a problem then began systematically jotting down the steps, wordlessly. Her charge watched in amazement as the quill danced effortlessly across the page.
"Now do you understand?"
Ovelia blinked, scrutinizing all the numbers only to return another highly disappointing answer.
"Sorry, but do you think you could slow down a bit and take me through the steps?" she requested uneasily.
'We've get a long way to go.'
With great dislike, Agrias started with a definition of the topic then gradually went in depth. For every new concept, she would perform an example, watch the princess do a few then proceed to more difficult materials. Surprisingly, Ovelia was a quick learner unlike her two apprentices and the session was not as torturing as she had imagined. As they sailed through the notes, her voice unsuspectingly softened and Agrias became more tolerant with her charge's mistakes. This was the feeling she had forgotten; a slight excitement from completing problems only this time, her gratification came from another's accomplishment.
Ovelia noticed the slight change and felt more comfortable under the instructing wing. The chilly gaze was gone, her face was out of their usual frown as those full lips moved with fluid motion. But what she noticed most was Agrias's voice; it sounded almost half an octave higher compared to the usual low voice. It also made her happy to know that it was Agrias who did most of the talking and for once Ovelia actually appreciate her bodyguard's concise method of speaking. Everything was precise and said with a purpose as the work depleted at an efficient pace. Math wasn't so bad and if Agrias was her teacher instead, she would definitely pay attention.
'Alma doesn't know what she's missing.'
"I get it now! Thank you." Announced Ovelia with a full grasp on Ophion's lesson.
Sadly, when she looked up, everything was back in place just like last night. A quick glimpse of another Agrias then gone again as if it didn't exist.
"Your welcome, princess. Now may I escort you to your room. It's very late and you have a tight schedule tomorrow."
Even the professional low voice returned.
Ovelia nodded, picking up the finished papers. Agrias took her sword, securing it to her waist then led the way out her room. As they left, Ovelia took a last look at the glass cat that was barely filled with beautiful stars.
"Thank you again, Agrias." Smiled Ovelia once they were in front of her chambers.
"Your welcome, your highness. If you have any other questions, I'd be honoured to help with whatever I can."
She immediately kicked herself for offering. What caused her to she did not know. However, what's done is done and the experience was tolerable. Just something else to do for the evening.
"Well I do have one question which had been bothering me for the whole day, though it's not related to math." Asked Ovelia shyly, shuffling her feet nervously.
"Yes, your highness." Replied Agrias, carefully.
'Do-Does she know already?'
"What is your last name?"
That was the most random question she had ever heard and Agrias felt quite foolish to have thought it was something serious. She was sure Ophion and her had been careful and there was no way the princess could have known.
"Oaks." She answered plainly.
"No, I meant your real last name. Oaks is just your middle name, isn't it? I heard from Alicia and Lavian that people from Fovoham like to use Ivalician middles names as last names."
Agrias hesitated before answering. She wished the princess hadn't asked.
An entirely different accent. Each syllable sounded elegant but when she tried to mimic the word, her tongue and mouth couldn't coordinate and reproduce the sound. Now she knew why that tradition was in place.
"If there's nothing else, I suggest your highness to return to your chambers. It's well past bed hour."
As much as Ovelia wanted to talk for a little longer, she sensed her bodyguard's impatience and obediently agreed.
"Yes, of course. Good night, Agrias."
"Good night, princess."
Just as Ovelia opened the door, her bodyguard noticed a faint glimmer along the wall. The reflections of blades were all too familiar for mistakes and Agrias immediately wrapped an arm around the princess, pulling her back out around the opening. Sharp knives promptly flew into the space where Ovelia stood, threatening to tear through whatever that dared to stand in its path.
The firm hold around her waist was driving the princess wild with panic. She blushed hard at the unexpected contact, her mind too confused to think. However, she was pulled out of her trance when Agrias's sword came out of its sheath.
"Agrias..." came the perplexed whisper.
Her bodyguard didn't answer but only slowly removed her arm and motioned for her to stay where she was. Agrias's face was unreadable as always but looked tighter with concentration. Ovelia nodded nervously and obeyed.
'Not again.' She thought.
Agrias inched towards the door, eyes sharpening as she gazed into the quiet room, barely lit by the moonlight.
Another glint caught her attention and she dodged to the side as more shurikens soared towards her. The faint light revealed the intruder's location beneath the bed and the knight swiftly ran towards it. The mattress flipped up but Agrias didn't hesitate a second to plunge her sword into it. Taking another step to add pressure and weight, her blade sank through cotton, flesh and bones and a gruesome yelp confirmed her attack. The ripped mattress shook faintly from futile resistance but seconds later, it ceased.
Just as she thought the attack was over, the closet beside the door suddenly burst. Agrias laid a foot on the mattress and roughly jerked her sword out to see another trespasser quickly approaching the princess. Instinctively, she threw her sword. The fierce edge punctured into the wall but missed its target as the blood painted mattress and dead assassin collapsed to the floor without support.
Agrias knew it was stupid to disarm herself but the desperate situation allowed no other option. Taking the chance, she tried to recover her weapon but not fast enough to evade the strong punch that hit into her left side.
The jolt of power sent her flying out the room, scorching the ground. An exploding pain started to spread and trapped her breath within her lungs. Ovelia ran to her side with concern, placing herself into range.
"Anger running through my arms..."
Agrias recognized the words and pushed the princess out of the energy's path and rolled to the other side with the recoiling force.
The floor exploded with splints of wood, effortlessly imprinting a large hole. Looking back, Ovelia screamed at the destruction as fear struck her mind deeply. Ignoring the increasing pain, Agrias stood up and dashed into the emerging figure from the door, forcing them both back into the room. With the intruder beneath, cushioning her fall, the knight was able to recover faster and sent a hard punch square into an open jaw. The monk lost his strength from the blow and his mind dazed from the pain. Agrias pulled his shoulder to the side, flipping him over then twisted his arms behind to secure his helpless state.
"Who sent you?!" she asked fiercely.
But instead of earning an answer, the monk nimbly tossed his legs into the air to gain enough power to his back, throwing Agrias off. Just as he was about to stand, the fallen knight crossed her ankles onto his feet and he stumbled back on the carpet. Clutching her side, Agrias stood up then sent a kick into the monk's stomach to keep him occupied for her to retrieve her sword.
The assassin knew he had lost his advantage without his partner and took the chance to escape, jumping out the neighboring window opening.
She watched with frustration but her injury did not allow her to chase after the intruder. But at least the confrontation was over and Agrias breathed hard with relief. Her side burned with pain without adrenaline to numb it and she stood idly to recover her calm.
Noticing the silence, Ovelia tentatively peered around the door.
"Don't look!" warned her bodyguard.
Agrias limped in front of her charge to block the sight but it was too late.
The fallen corpse resting on her turned mattress, the stained walls and the strong coppery smell of blood pierced her heart. Her stomach crunched and churned with fear as her throat collapsed, filling her with a need to vomit. It was only a short glimpse but it had already burned its place in her memory for years to come.
"Are you injured, your highness?" inquired Agrias, routinely.
"Your highness?" she asked again.
Ovelia didn't answer but only stared at her bodyguard's sword, still dripping with fresh blood; the same blade, which protected her by sacrificing another's life.
'Weak, fussy, princess.' Thought Agrias. She was about to return her weapon back into its sheath, despite the chances of rusting but just a slight movement of her arm caused the princess to jump back.
Ovelia was now staring at her, eyes wide with delicate lips visibly trembling. God, she wanted to run.
The way the princess looked froze the knight and a new silence fell dangerously between them, shockingly quiet.
That voice wrapped around her mind, and freed her from the binding stillness. Alma was sprinting, worriedly towards her and Ovelia immediately found the strength to run into her friend's arms.
"I heard you scream! What happened? Are you alright?"
The princess nodded into her shoulders but dared not to look back or speak. She did not want to stay another second.
Alma carefully removed Ovelia from her arms then curiously walked towards their bodyguard for a better understanding of the situation but her friend pulled her back desperately by the arm, coiling with fear. Why Ovelia was acting so strangely, she did not understand but obliged to the direction she was being led towards.
Ophion arrived calmly at the scene with the top of his tall sleeping cap, draping to his shoulder. He quickly surveyed the area but already knew what was behind the captain's back.
Agrias remained silent. He felt a little insulted to be ignored by a mere knight.
"Ophion, may we stay in my room for tonight?"
He noticed the frantic princess and nodded. Alma was then quickly pulled away.
Ophion reverted this attention back on Agrias.
"It's late. We'll discuss this first thing tomorrow morning."
"Yes, milord." She whispered.
Ophion shook his dead with disgust but was too tired to fuss with details and left for his chambers.
Once he was out of sight, Agrias allowed the pain to take her strength and she slid onto the ground. Something was gripping at her heart, tugging, ripping, threatening to tear her insides out her throat. Mouth wide, trying to suck air, she felt as if she couldn't breath until slamming her arm, full force, into the side of the wall. The pain dispelled the choking sensation and her senses returned.
That look was all too familiar.
To be continued...
Go to http://www.lovecalculator.com then type in Agrias and Ovelia. You'll be surprised! Then try Ovelia and Alma and you'll be in for a bigger surprise! (but do remember this compatibility only refers to names and nothing else therfore don't get too serious) Also try Ovelia and Delita which supports my support for Ovelia/Agrias. Then try Agrias with any other name and you'll be highly convinced that no one but Ovelia is her perfect mate! They belong together! Agrias and Ovelia forever!~ ^0^
FIC NOTES FOR CLARITY:
Frovic: Official language of Fovoham, known as French in our world. Fovoham was captured during the very beginning of the 50 years war through a sea battle. It wasn't returned to Ivalice until the end of the war as part of the terms of the peace treaty signed between the kingdom and Ordallia. For almost 50 years, Fovoham was Ordallian territory and its language and customs were strongly influenced by the invading country hence the change of language. Fovoham is the coldest part of Ivalice and the only place which has snow in the entire kingdom. It is famous for the production of glass and diamonds.
Just one more note: the name Chateaubriad, I burrowed from an anime series named Sakura Teisan (sakura wars) from a french girl named Iris.