Cordelia scanned the book shelves, absent-mindedly reading the titles but not finding anything particularly interesting. She wasn't an avid reader by any means, but when Robin, Sumia, and Miriel invited her to go to the bookstore with them, she agreed nonetheless. She had no other duties, chores, or even training to complete for the rest of the day, so she thought it might be nice to spend some time with the other female Shepherds. She wasn't really in the mood to shop, but the company and the distraction was a welcome change of pace.
Predictably enough, Robin was analyzing the various tactical manuals in the reference section, but also continually allowed herself to be distracted by Sumia's excited musings on which book series to start next. Miriel was flitting back and forth among various sections, muttering about the "lamentable lack of nonfiction available in this particular establishment". The Pegasus Knight stuck close to them for a little while but eventually wandered off into other areas, searching for nothing, but just browsing to see if anything would catch her eye.
She found herself in the aptly named "How-To" section, and at first, it occurred to her that she might find a useful book on fashioning spears and javelins. She had gotten the idea a few days ago upon speaking with Robin, whom she'd only just recently been formally introduced. But as she leaned over to examine the various titles with increased curiosity, something entirely different jumped out at her. It was small pink leather bound volume with its name inked in sprawling flowery calligraphy, Make Him Fall for You in a Fortnight. Cordelia stared at it for a bit, reading the words over and over again. She straightened and glanced around self-consciously to see if any of her companions were nearby. Seeing no sign of them, she blushed lightly, gingerly pulled the book from its place, and began to glance through it. From the little she saw at first glimpse, the advice seemed sound enough and easy to put into practice; in fact much of what was suggested was already in line with her own diligence and personality. If she WERE to incorporate its procedures… could it be possible…?
She looked out through the nearby shop window as nonchalantly as possible, towards a group of men gathered in the town square just visible from her position. Among them was a young man with dark blue hair and eyes, wearing clothes and armor befitting his princely station. His charming smile nicely complimented his noble bearing, and more than a few passing maidens appraised him approvingly.
Her heart fell a little at this, but swelled with hope again as she turned her attention back to the tome in her hands.
"Eek!" Cordelia just about leapt out of her own skin and her precious find clattered to the floor. Before she could recover herself, a young woman in sweeping mage robes, an over-sized floppy pointed hat, and glasses stiffly bent down and retrieved it for her, assessing it in turn.
"This book claims to offer its readers directives in order to attract a specifically desired mate." Miriel's framed eyes met Cordelia's inquiringly. "Is it your intention to use the information in this manual to do so?"
She turned bright pink and shook her head vehemently. "What?! N-no, of course not! Why would I?"
The Mage raised a single eyebrow doubtfully. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you not in the stage of life when males and females begin various courting customs for the purpose of marriage and procreation?"
Cordelia didn't think it was possible for her face to get any warmer. Surely she would spontaneously combust from embarrassment soon, especially at the mention of "procreation". "M-maybe. But first of all, I'm a knight sworn to serve the realm. That will always be my principal duty; I don't have time for such things. And second, even if I was thinking about it, I… I hardly need a book to help me find a husband."
Miriel looked confused. "Books are an invaluable resource; there is no shame in consulting their wisdom in matters with which you are unfamiliar or unskilled."
"Unskilled? You're saying you don't think I COULD get a guy if wanted to without this?"
"That is not what I was implying…"
The red headed rider stomped up to her and snatched the book from her hand. "WHEN or even IF I decide to settle down, I certainly don't need advice from this…"
The young scholar cleared her throat loudly to get her attention and nodded to the other store patrons, who had stopped shopping and were watching them with interest. Luckily, at least Robin and Sumia had already purchased their items and had exited the shop.
Cordelia quickly shoved the book in a random place back on the shelf and started to head for the door, but Miriel intercepted her.
"Please, permit me to clarify. It was not my intent to suggest that you are in dire need of such a resource, though I don't quite understand why you should be embarrassed even if that were the case. You admitted mere moments ago that such pursuits are not part of your customary routine as a Shepherd. Therefore, I believe it to be a perfectly logical assumption that military personnel such as ourselves would find this material useful."
Cordelia felt skeptical, but she had to remind herself that Miriel probably meant no offense. She was simply not aware of the impact of her general social unawareness. If anything, she was just curious.
"In truth, the basis for my inquiry was to ascertain why you in particular should feel compelled to seek guidance on the subject matter. It is a generally held supposition that very few, if any, male would refuse you as a mate and consequently, you would be welcome to select whomever you prefer."
She blinked a few times, trying in vain to wrap her head around what her companion was saying. "I'm sorry? I'm not quite sure I understand."
Miriel sighed, displeased that she should have to explain herself. "Objectively quantifying the internal attributes that most find admirable and the external traits that men find physically attractive have often vexed me. However, I have often looked to you as a control in my hypotheses, as many of the male Shepherds have indicated that they hold you in the highest regard in terms of beauty and character."
Once Cordelia worked through what she was saying, her face flushed at the implication. "Wait a minute... how did you come to know this? Did you ask the guys what they think of me specifically? Or were you just generalizing?"
"My survey began with a broad spectrum of queries and examples, but when you emerged as a commonality, I altered my questions to specify you as the fundamental core."
"Miriel! How could you?! Gods, this is so embarrassing!" Cordelia covered her face in shame.
She frowned and adjusted her glasses. "I fail to comprehend the reason for your ignominy. As I've already stated, nearly every male I've spoken with proffered a distinctly positive assessment. The only exceptions were Lon'qu and Chrom."
Cordelia peaked through her fingers. "Really? Um... did either of them say why they don't like me?" She didn't actually know the Feroxian Myrmidon enough to value his opinion of her, but Chrom was another story. She wasn't narcissistic by any means, but she had always wondered if there was something about her that would deter the prince from showing any interest whatsoever.
"You misunderstand," the magic specialist said. "I could not include their judgment on the matter not because they differed from the majority, but rather because I have been unable to question them. Lord Chrom is understandably predisposed most of the time. As for Lon'qu... I do not know the reason, but he resolutely refuses to engage in any sort of interaction with females outside of battle." Her eyes narrowed the way it always did when she was thinking hard. "It is a most intriguing phenomenon. But rest assured, I intend to find the cause of this anomaly."
"I, uh... I'm sure you will." She cleared her throat and fiddled with her armor uncomfortably. "Well, if that's all, then we should probably finish here and catch up to the others."
"Agreed." Miriel pulled the book from the shelf again and held it out to her.
Cordelia held up her hand and shook her head. "That's alright. I think it's best if I save my money for more important things like weapons and armor."
"As you wish. Rather a shame though. I had hoped you would purchase it regardless of our previous miscommunication and endeavor to put its tactics into action. I'm sure it would have been a most enlightening experiment."
Miriel skimmed its pages, quickly absorbing more than the Pegasus Knight certainly would have in such a short span. "Some of its proposals strike me as dubious, while others seem relatively conventional. Since we have established that you are already a highly desirable woman, I wondered if or how this book would affect your appeal to the opposite sex. Would its processes increase your potential, and if so, to what degree? If there is a man who has been resistant to your unique charms, would such imprecise methodology invoke a favorable response?" She sighed, somewhat melodramatically. "I have yet to broaden my studies in the area of male and female relationships. It is unfortunate that I will be unable to capitalize on a prospective new field." The book was returned to its proper place. Since she hadn't found any other books she wished to buy, she started for the exit, mumbling to herself, "Another time perhaps. I do have a multitude of other ongoing projects I should attend to..."
Cordelia moved to follow, but hesitated with her hand on the door, bright eyes staring at the floor thoughtfully. She looked up and around again, but saw none of the other Shepherds in the store and the rest of the customers were too busy with their own pursuits to pay her any mind.
Her gaze fell on the pink spine of Make Him Fall for You in a Fortnight. She exhaled, shook her head and started to push open the heavy oak door. The tinkling of the shop's bell gave her a second pause. With a soft groan of resignation, she turned around, grabbed the book, purchased it as quickly as possible (without meeting the peculiar stare of the shop owner), and hurried to catch up with the rest of the Shepherds.