Summary: Everyone was tired of Mercedes’ antics. Freud calls her out on it. [MercedesFreud] [Oneshot]
Freud sighed as he ran a hand through his errant brown locks, sweeping them back. The starry night was warm, and a thin layer of perspiration was forming despite the thinness of Freud’s clothes. His footfalls were soft on the grassy plain, but Freud knew as well as the woman he was approaching that she had heard him. He wasn’t planning to escape her notice anyway; only Phantom took a particular pleasure in sneaking up on his fellow heroes, and Freud was a mage, not a thief. What did he know about stealth?
“Mercedes,” Freud greeted warmly.
The elven queen swivelled her head, gazing up at the standing form of her friend, before snapping her head forwards to stare into the distance. Freud took it in his stride, taking a seat on the soft grass beside the elf. “You know, ignoring me like that isn’t going to chase me away.”
“Where’s Afrien?” the blond woman enquired offhandedly, attempting to switch subjects.
Freud frowned, placing his hand on her ornate shoulder guards that were more ceremonial than protective. She shrugged it off casually, twisting her body away from Freud. The wizard sighed, palming his face. “This isn’t the time for this, Mercedes. We’re on the verge of a mortal battle with the Black Mage, and you’re sulking. This isn’t you. This isn’t the Queen of the Elves that everyone looks up to.
“What right do you have to judge me?” Mercedes snarled at Freud, her face contorted in a rictus of righteous rage.
“If Aran, who can never pull his head out of the ass of the monster he’s training on, can tell me to go talk to Mercedes about her erratic behaviour, then I think I’m more than qualified to say that you are not being yourself,” Freud pointed out matter-of-factly. “So tell me, what’s going on?”
Mercedes huffed, crossing her arms over her chest plate and looking away once more. Freud grumbled under his breath about unresponsive elves and silly friends, before counting to ten to calm himself. It would do no good to get into a quarrel with Mercedes like Aran almost inevitably managed to do with every conversation. “Mercedes…please talk to me. We’re friends, are we not?”
“I’m going to go watch Phantom train. He’s so cool!” Mercedes gushed falsely, moving to stand up.
Her slim hand was captured by Freud, and the queen was pulled down back onto the grass. Startled, she found herself on her back, Freud leaning over her prone form with a sharp frown plastered on his face. Her face coloured, and she turned away. Freud guessed it was in ire, but she made no move to push him away, so he pressed on. “Another silly antic to attempt to distract us. Mercedes, you are adored by your people as wise beyond your elvish years, and possessing a maturity rivalling that of your own mother, a beloved queen in her own right. I refuse to believe that my friend of the past decade, one who fought and bled with me in hundreds of battles, would turn into this silly fan girl at the showmanship of Phantom.”
“Freud…” Mercedes pleaded softly, her brilliant turquoise eyes making contact with Freud’s azure orbs for a quick second. “Please let me be.”
“What, and risk losing you to the Black Mage?” Freud gritted his teeth, his exasperation with Mercedes reaching boiling point. “This isn’t just about you, Mercedes! Your mind is so distant, so far away right now, if we had to go into battle, I’d rather have Arkarium watching my back! I can’t afford to lose you, Merche! You’re my best friend! The only thing that will hurt me more is if I lose both you and Afrien! Can’t you just tell me what’s going on in that pretty head of yours?”
Freud growled in frustration at the elf queen, sounding almost like his onyx dragon partner. “Cut that out! You’re the elven queen, act like it! Where’s the strength your people and I admire so much about you, huh? Where’s the inner steel that has guided you through these tumultuous times? Where’s the fierce determination and elvish pride that has served you so well in battles against the Black Mage? Where’s the Mercedes I know and love?”
Mercedes bit her lip anxiously, unwilling to meet Freud’s intense stare. He cupped her chin gently, forcing her to face him. “Please come back to us, Merche. We need you. I need you.”
The fair-haired woman remained silent, pursing her lips. Freud heaved a huge sigh, feeling particularly drained. He plopped down beside Mercedes, his cerulean eyes staring at the twinkling stars in the vast sky. “If you won’t say anything, then I guess I’m forced to tell you that you won’t be accompanying us to the Temple of Time.”
“What?” Mercedes demanded, her voice an octave higher than earlier. “You…you can’t just decide that! I’m going to fight the Black Mage too! I have a responsibility as-”
“Which you are not fulfilling,” Freud interrupted tiredly. “Look, Merche, in your current state, you’ll only be a burden to us. We can’t fight like that, constantly looking out for you. Your people will be disappointed to see you in this state, Merche. Please tell me what’s going on, so we can work together and deal with whatever has you so troubled.”
“I…I’m afraid,” Mercedes admitted gingerly. “I’m afraid we’ll lose, and the world will plunge into deeper chaos. I’m afraid I’ll fail my people. I’m afraid I’ll lose…”
“Lose what?” Freud coaxed, a gentle smile etched on his features. Mercedes bit her lip, her eyes downcast. “…You.”
“I’ll always be there for you, you know that,” Freud smiled widely, before engulfing Mercedes in a warm embrace. The queen squeaked in surprise, a far cry from her usual collected self, but seeing as no one was around to see her indiscretion, she returned the hug, burying her face in Freud’s neck, mumbling so softly Freud could barely hear her words. “I know.”
They parted, soft smiles curving their lips as they made eye contact. Then, Freud leaned forwards, planting a chaste kiss on Mercedes’ lips. Her large eyes widened in shock as Freud broke the kiss, shuffling backwards in obvious embarrassment. He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly; now, he was the one unable to meet the gaze of his friend. “I’m sorry. I…I guess I just didn’t want to die with any regrets, you know? At least I managed a kiss, right?”
Mercedes’ hand went up to her mouth, still unable to form coherent words. Freud chuckled abashedly. “I didn’t want to enter a final battle with the Black Mage knowing that I never confessed to you. I don’t want to leave this world without telling you how much I love you. I don’t expect anything from you, really. You are nobility, and I am just a guy with an unnatural fascination for dragons. Let’s not even mention the age gap between us. I mean, how can you view me as anything other than a-mmmph!”
He had been promptly silenced by Mercedes, returning the kiss with fervour. Pushed to the ground by the sudden impact, Freud was left bewildered when their kiss ended, lips puffy and curved into a goofy grin. Mercedes’ enchanting eyes were brimming with unshed tears, though she too, had a great big smile on her elven features. “You big dummy. How can you even assume that just because we’re of different races and backgrounds, that I won’t accept your love?”
Freud’s brilliant mind quickly recalled the many things he knew about Mercedes. “But…what about that elven prince you are engaged to?”
Mercedes giggled sweetly, something Freud often wished was his sole privilege to hear. “He’s made up, Freud. I’m scared of rejection too, you know. Do you know how hard it is to pretend that I am in love with a fictional man when the one I love is right beside me every single day? I had to try so hard to keep my face from heating up and calm my racing heart when you come close to me. I think Afrien knows too, given how he’s always pushing you into awkward sleeping positions with me. He has much better hearing than even elves; I believe he can hear my heart palpitations every time you get remotely close to me.”
“He does have exceptional hearing,” Freud mumbled. “That no good meddlesome dragon. Always thinking he knows best.”
Mercedes giggled once more, her sweet laughter turning Freud’s insides to jelly. He could face down the king of the largest species of dragon as a young apprentice mage without fear, and the numerous battles with dangerous foes only left him with a light tingle of excitement running up his spine, but Mercedes could render him boneless with a little laugh. “I remember how you always blush and apologise when you wake up with your face in my bosom. Afrien always had a wicked sense of humour.”
“I remember how you stuttered and blushed whenever you wake up in my bosom,” Freud retorted cheekily. “That dragon doesn’t understand subtlety at all.”
“What does this mean for us then?” Mercedes asked quietly, pressing her head into Freud’s chest. She always woke up before Freud, and she loved to pretend to sleep whenever she found herself lying on his chest, listening to his steady heartbeat. It never failed to warm her soul in the cold and dark times they lived in, and now she could do it any time she wanted. In their private time, of course. It would do no good for Phantom to see it and give him any leverage on them.
Freud wrapped his arm around her shoulder, pressing his lips to the crown of her head. “I don’t know, Merche. We have a responsibility to the world, and no matter how much you want to pretend it doesn’t exist, we are from very different worlds, thrust together by the circumstances of our time. Can we make it work? And can we honestly put our relationship above the safety of the world? I think…I think we should deal with it after everything has died down. Who knows, we might not even survive against the Black Mage.”
“No!” Mercedes half-shouted, her eyes narrowed and filled with fiery determination. “We’ll defeat him, and we’ll get married and have plenty of children! I refuse-”
Freud pressed a finger to her lips, silencing her rant. “I love your optimism, but we must be realistic, Merche. Whether you like it or not, the Black Mage is the most powerful entity the world has ever seen. We have to enter the battle with the understanding that not all of us will escape his wrath unscathed, and there is the very real possibility of death. Please don’t make this any harder for me.”
“I understand,” Mercedes nodded solemnly, snuggling closer to Freud. “Don’t ever leave me.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Freud whispered.
You lied to me, Freud, Mercedes mused, grief threatening to show on her schooled features. You left me alone. I have nothing left of you but the sweet memories that we had forged together.
She watched as Evan struggled against the combined might of Phantom and Aran, the two former heroes pushing Freud’s successor to his limits. Mir, the last of Afrien’s kind, stood proudly by his master’s side; young, powerful and ready to take on the world. Mercedes quirked her lips in a small smile, as her mind superimposed the stunningly similar image of a confident Freud over the tiring, but smiling Evan. But Afrien left a powerful legacy in Mir, and chose someone so different, yet so similar to you to carry on your legacy. He looks just like you, Freud. He’s not the smartest, unlike you, but he has a heart as big as yours and he’s taken to his responsibilities as a hero like a fish to the water.
We’re training him intensively so we can take on the Black Mage once more, Mercedes thought, staring up at the cerulean sky which reminded her of his bright, cheerful gaze. He’ll do your legacy proud. You’d have loved him as an apprentice. Wish us luck, Freud.
I miss you so, Freud.
I love you.