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  1. It just so happened
  2. that on that day
  3. she woke early in the morn
  4. before the sun shone bright,
  5. being roused by dreams
  6. which thought not of the past
  7. troubled her just the same.
  8.  
  9. Yet troubled or no
  10. Edelgard set to it,
  11. her morning rituals.
  12. First she took to her hair,
  13. a careful, slow process
  14. of brushing and combing
  15. till the locks were neat
  16. and ready to be pulled back
  17. with light purple ribbons.
  18. Next came the undressing,
  19. which was followed by dressing
  20. in her particular order
  21. of undergarments, then stockings,
  22. followed by shorts, then shirts
  23. and the cravat and her cape,
  24. red and a sign of authority,
  25. before the boots were slipped on
  26. and a dagger slipped into her belt,
  27. just for safety's sake
  28. here at Garreg Mach Monastery.
  29. Then, finally, before she left
  30. to step out into the world
  31. she went over it all
  32. looking into a mirror
  33. making certain with fervor
  34. that each detail was right,
  35. not a hair out of place.
  36.  
  37. These morning rituals,
  38. they helped a great deal,
  39. an anchoring force
  40. that brought her down
  41. from those dream heights
  42. which troubled her so,
  43. and being so dressed
  44. with her mask set in place
  45. Edelgard stepped on out
  46. into the dawn's early light,
  47. soft and simple at it was,
  48. seeming almost a dream
  49. in its own right.
  50.  
  51. She left the halls
  52. of the dormitories
  53. stepping down stairs,
  54. then past the greenhouse
  55. and the fish pond too
  56. to the market gate,
  57. out which she slipped
  58. paying little mind
  59. to the call of a guard
  60. weary in the early hours
  61. save a reflexive, "Good morning."
  62.  
  63. A walk would do her well
  64. after such dreams as had,
  65. so she thought again
  66. as she slipped right past
  67. the monastery's high walls
  68. and into the wooded hills
  69. of Garreg Mach's land.
  70. These walks always helped,
  71. being an anchoring force,
  72. so why not that day as well?
  73.  
  74. But it just so happened
  75. that on that day
  76. she was not alone
  77. in those peaceful hills
  78. though she had presumed
  79. from habit and experience
  80. that she would be.
  81. For though she was alone
  82. for a time as she was
  83. greeted only by bird song
  84. and ever brightening light
  85. it was only for a time,
  86. and not nearly enough time
  87. for her head to clear
  88. of the dreaded dream fluff.
  89.  
  90. She stepped past a tree
  91. to a wooded grove,
  92. silent and sound
  93. save for the bird song
  94. but there stood another,
  95. just as silent there
  96. as the trees themselves.
  97.  
  98. The professor stood there
  99. unknowing of her presence,
  100. of Edelgard standing there
  101. stopping to stare silent
  102. just as the professor stared
  103. down at the tall lilies
  104. poking up from the earth
  105. each in full bloom.
  106.  
  107. Time seemed almost to stop
  108. and her breath was caught
  109. deep in her throat then
  110. as her heart leapt
  111. so taken by the sight
  112. right from her dream heights
  113. of the professor standing,
  114. illuminated as she was
  115. by the soft morning light.
  116.  
  117. Her hair hung, it did,
  118. less messy than before,
  119. spilling over her shoulders,
  120. that perfect deep blue
  121. cascading over the dark greys
  122. of that so familiar coat,
  123. as waters upon stone
  124. in a softly rushing river.
  125. Yet that hair, so beautiful,
  126. though it was less messy now
  127. than it had been before
  128. Edelgard had offered her advice
  129. on how best to keep it,
  130. there was still skill lacking
  131. in its keeping, she saw,
  132. and so the need arose
  133. right in that grove there
  134. to run a comb through it
  135. with slow, arduous care
  136. placed into every stroke,
  137. and fine attention to detail
  138. as the locks slipped through
  139. her fingers as she worked,
  140. dipped right into the stream.
  141.  
  142. Oh! The dreams, those dreams!
  143. The ones which troubled her so
  144. were back at the front
  145. of her troubled mind right then
  146. and though she'd think better
  147. were she more sound of mind
  148. she called out to her
  149. quite by impulse alone
  150. in this seeming dream
  151. to her professor standing there,
  152. voicing a pleading question.
  153.  
  154. Then as the professor turned
  155. she could be certain at last
  156. that she was surely awake
  157. for she could not push back
  158. the coming tide of dreams past
  159. which had roused her early
  160. on that very day here,
  161. for it had been that face
  162. that troubled her so
  163. in her sleeping hours.
  164.  
  165. She smiled then, the professor,
  166. though at the time before
  167. she looked with surprise,
  168. flat though it was
  169. until it was registered at last
  170. who it was that called her
  171. and as it did,
  172. a smile crept to her face,
  173. small though it was.
  174.  
  175. The smile was infectious,
  176. all pervading it seemed,
  177. leaving no room to hide,
  178. and brought one to Edelgard.
  179. A bright, warm smile -- grateful --
  180. which peaked right past
  181. her mask so carefully laid
  182. in the early morning hours.
  183. Then there was the voice
  184. that answered her back
  185. with a kindly, "Edelgard!"
  186. and a "Good morning," shortly after.
  187.  
  188. People called her voice flat,
  189. as blank as her face, the professor's.
  190. They said it was unreadable,
  191. seeming just a white page,
  192. but there were small tones,
  193. slight pitches and subtle signs
  194. which Edelgard had come to know
  195. and to which she clung tight
  196. with a girlish delight.
  197. The professor was happy,
  198. happy to see her there
  199. in that wooded grove
  200. quite alone and apart
  201. in the early morning.
  202.  
  203. Those words emboldened her
  204. and she set aside the dreams
  205. and left behind her mask
  206. just for a moment's time
  207. to ask the professor then
  208. what she had come to do
  209. right here in this wood.
  210.  
  211. "Look at the flowers,"
  212. so she said, turning back,
  213. to gaze down upon them.
  214.  
  215. "The flowers?" she asked
  216. spirit bolder still
  217. at being free again
  218. of her teacher's gaze,
  219. bold enough to step
  220. forward and on towards
  221. the elder woman there.
  222.  
  223. "Yes," the teacher said
  224. as she studied them hard
  225. those lilies so light
  226. with a gaze as intense
  227. as she gave all other things.
  228. A gaze that seemed to pierce
  229. right through all masks.
  230. A foolish thought, that,
  231. so Edelgard told herself
  232. for her mask was her life
  233. and the professor continued,
  234. "I never thought about them,
  235. not before now, not really."
  236.  
  237. "Truly?" she questioned
  238. baffled once again
  239. by her enigmatic mentor
  240. who seemed to care for nothing
  241. till at last she did,
  242. with distant, detached delight.
  243.  
  244. "They were just plants to me."
  245. That answer was cold, bitter,
  246. and it froze Edelgard
  247. right into place there
  248. and she remember then
  249. the unfeeling, unflinching gaze
  250. which had followed her
  251. in the earlier days
  252. when she was new teacher made
  253. For the days seemed too far,
  254. yet far too near her
  255. and her heart sank deep
  256. fearing for the return
  257. of that coldness, the void,
  258. of her professor from before
  259. she praised her works ever
  260. and consoled her even more.
  261.  
  262. "But they aren't just plants,"
  263. her teacher explained more
  264. in her even tone,
  265. calming and soothing
  266. even then in the grove,
  267. "There's something more."
  268.  
  269. And she turned to look
  270. right back at her,
  271. at Edelgard there
  272. a smile on her face
  273. as she said the words,
  274. "They're rather pretty."
  275.  
  276. They were stupid, silly.
  277. hardly elegant
  278. and not at all poetry.
  279. But the words cut through
  280. and spurred her on again
  281. getting her to step forward
  282. for the need to stand,
  283. to stand beside her then,
  284. the professor there.
  285.  
  286. Oh! ...but she tripped!
  287. Over a rock or a stone
  288. or her own foolish thoughts
  289. and went tumbling down
  290. into the grasses
  291. giving her time to think
  292. on her dreams again
  293. which troubled her so,
  294. for this was foolish, really.
  295. The professor spoke of flowers,
  296. and nothing more.
  297.  
  298. But the professor gasped
  299. and ran to her side
  300. to grab at her hand
  301. seemingly without thought,
  302. which killed the thoughts,
  303. worries and all,
  304. in Edelgard's mind then
  305. as she was helped up
  306. right back to her feet.
  307.  
  308. Yet standing again
  309. the hand lingered on hers,
  310. a firm pressure, warm,
  311. though the gloves she wore
  312. kept back the feel of skin
  313. leaving only the knowledge of it,
  314. and the knowledge burned
  315. deep into Edelgard's mind
  316. as her face burned too
  317. while she thanked her
  318. and chastised herself.
  319.  
  320. Which, of course, oh...
  321. the professor, she argued with that.
  322. Saying how it was fine,
  323. that there was no need
  324. for Edelgard then and there
  325. to tear herself down so
  326. over so simple a thing
  327. and so far from battlefields,
  328. and there was not a hint,
  329. not a single drop,
  330. of criticism at all.
  331. For her teacher was attentive,
  332. having learned her preferences
  333. be they for tea
  334. or for comfort.
  335.  
  336. Yet her face was flushed
  337. and her hair in disarray
  338. and her heart pounded,
  339. so Edelgard argued with it,
  340. that it was hardly becoming
  341. of a future emperor,
  342. an heir apparent, a princess,
  343. to fall over her own feet,
  344. only for the professor
  345. to argue right back
  346. that it was seeming
  347. for one still growing,
  348. to which she contested
  349. still and ever on
  350. seeking to hide again
  351. from her dream thoughts
  352. and the professor's hand
  353. which still lingered there
  354. right on her own.
  355.  
  356. But it just so happened
  357. that on that day
  358. when she had woken early
  359. roused by dreams that troubled her,
  360. that the professor showed her
  361. how she'd learned of metaphor
  362. as she turned to the flowers then
  363. to say they had been but bulbs
  364. until quite recently as then,
  365. and how now they bloomed
  366. into something most graceful
  367. with a beauty unlike any other.
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