selenias: (Sheena)
[personal profile] selenias
Title: See Through
Fandom: Tales of Berseria
Characters/pairing: Eleanor, Artorius
Rating: all audiences
Word Count: 533

She looks like any other exorcist with the white cape and the emblem of Innominat embroidered into the front of her tunic. Save for the blue tassels in her hair her coat is freshly pressed, boots wiped clean of dust and standard black leggings crisp and neat. Even though they aren’t form-fitting and require serious belting on her fifteen year-old body, she looks professional. The quarter mistress must have thought her body would catch up to the length of the sleeves but it’s only a been a year and a half since they issued her a new one. Still large, but maybe the Abbey will find a way to fix her femininity, too.

On the dais where Artorius introduces them all, the crowds flock beneath him to get a good glance at the Abbey’s newest recruits. The first three years of training were rough. Character building exercises juxtaposed between the grit of teaching her body to remember the sweep of a lance and the harsh rebuttal of the flat of a sword. Praise didn’t come easy. She rewarded herself with a look at her mother’s compact, which at all times she kept locked in a flat cedar chest in the back of her nightstand drawer. Everyone has their reasons for how they got here.

She learned to operate as a single unit before the Abbey commissioned her and for the first and last time she looks at her classmates beside her and sees visions of white. Confidence blooms in her chest and when her teacher calls her name, she’s at the head of the line and all eyes swiftly fall onto her. The weight of them is crushing but she doesn’t allow herself to falter. Teresa and Oscar to the left, her roommate Ellis on the right. How proud her mother would have been to see her walk the same path as those that came before them.

Eleanor shakes hands with the one that made it all possible and has a moment to wonder. If she is tenacious than Artorius is invincible; how she had recited his teachings to make herself strong and how quickly they fail her here in the presence of the one who brought all of these faceless beggars together; her eyes sting when he grips her hand and it’s joy, but she’s not supposed to show it. The illusion is shattered when she stands from her carefully low bow.

There exists no living man in that wintry gaze.

Nostalgia looks wistful on everyone else, Eleanor thinks, bad on him. Still. He wouldn’t dare show that part of himself to her. Even if -- even if he was feeling anything at all in this moment, her heart is ready to burst.

She catches a glance of herself in the glass window of the sanctuary as she shifts with her classmates from one ceremony to the next -- the one where they name and collect their first malak -- arms full of flowers from friends and courtiers alike and adjusts her sagging leggings when no one is looking, breathing deep.

In this moment, she looks like any other anonymous soldier.

The flat line of her mouth reveals nothing, just like she’d been taught.
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