Author's Note: So about a month ago I finally got around to getting Fire Emblem: Awakening, and at once absolutely fell in love with the game's story and the cast of amazing characters. Given how obsessed I've gotten over these past weeks in regards to all aspects of this great game, especially the large family of blue-haired dorks Robin ended with due to falling in love with his best friend's parallel future daughter (family reunions will be confusing at the very least), I started thinking about writing a fanfiction.
However, I couldn't make up my mind on what I wanted to write until I stumbled upon a fan theory about two weeks ago that, for lack of a better term, blew my mind and forced me to reevaluate my interpretations for several aspects of the story. This theory sought to explain the relationship between the game's main and future timelines with the third timeline of the Future Past DLC, and in doing so shed light on the origins of a certain time-traveling whose past is shrouded in mystery. This theory, in the end, inspired me to write this story, since while I cannot take any credit for the theory itself, I found myself with a ton of ideas for a retelling of the Future Past DLC that would explore the ideas it puts forth in more detail
I will not state what that theory here, but I'm sure some of you have already guessed it, given that I've already seen a few fanfics out there that have played out with it a bit. Besides, telling you now would ruin the fun for those of you who haven't heard of this theory.
This story will probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-10 chapters long, give or take a few depending on how things work out. As my top priority is my other ongoing fanfic, I, unfortunately, will have to stick to a slower update schedule for this story, with chapters probably coming out on a monthly basis, perhaps quicker if I find the time. Also, as my usual betareaders basically have no interest in betaing for stories not related to the other fandom I write for (those jerks, lol), I am wondering if anyone wishes to beta for this story. I can probably get by on my own just fine, but given my lack of editing skills a beta would still be welcome.
Anyhow, I have rambled on for far too long, so sit back and enjoy the story.
The first thing Robin was aware of was a throbbing pain at the center of his skull.
Gods, how much did I drink last night?
The tactician groaned, consciousness slowly returning. The hammer beating against the inside his head intensified with each passing instant as clawed through the groggy haze. Light stung at his eyes, unbearably bright even through closed lids, amplifying the pain.
Where am I? The last thing I remember it was morning… I'd just woken up, Lucina and I were going to—
Robin bolted upright, his eyes snapping open. He regretted this at once, his stomach churning with the sudden movement. He grit his teeth, fighting the urge to be suddenly, and violently, sick. Lucina, where is— His eyes fell upon the slumped form of his wife nearby, her blue hair spilled out around her like a curtain across the marble floor. Her eyes were closed as she lay motionless, for all appearances lost in a deep sleep.
"Lucina?" he called out. A moment later he gave a sigh of relief as Lucina stirred, her eyelids fluttering open.
"Robin?" she asked, her voice groggily. Blinking, his wife pushed herself into a sitting position, clutching her head with hand. "What happened? Where are we?"
"I was about to ask the same thing," a deeper voice replied. Turning his head, Robin saw to whom the voice belonged, his best friend and father-in-law (gods, he was never going to get used to that thought), Chrom. The Exalt was a few feet away from where they were, the blue-haired lord hoisting himself up off the floor to look around.
"Heh, so you're here too... wherever here is," Robin said. He raised a hand, greeting his friend in what was probably far too casual a manner given the circumstances. Dragging himself to his feet as well, the tactician staggered, his legs unsteadily under him. He swayed, feeling as though the floor was churn to and fro like the deck of a ship. Huh, maybe I really did drink too much. Steadying himself, Robin extending a hand to his wife, helping her up. She nodded to him in thanks before he turned away. At long last, he had a chance to look at their surroundings
They stood in a wide vaulted chamber of alabaster marble and azure stonework, its great columns reaching upwards up to touch the impossibly high ceiling above them. The ornately carved walls were set with countless archways that opened up into wide corridors. Peering down the nearest one, Robin swayed on his feet, feeling a sudden sense of vertigo as he saw that the hallway seemed to stretch on into infinity.
Yeah, that's clearly normal. Nothing unusual about that.
Tearing his gaze away, Robin noticed that the three of them were not alone. All in all, over half of the Shepherds were present as well, including all of those who had come from Lucina's own time-line and their parents from the present. One by one they began to stir, groaning and clutching at their heads as they sat upright.
Among those gathered there, Robin spied his now sixteen-year-old daughter, Morgan. She sat up upright, strands of her tousled mop of blue hair standing on end, looking just like she always did when she awoke from sleeping in far later than was necessary. She brought her hands to her eyes, rubbing them as she yawned loudly.
Stepping to his daughter's side, Robin extended a hand to her, smiling at the girl. "You okay?"
"Father?" She groaned, her speech slurred as if still half asleep. She blinked at him, her large blue eyes slowly focusing on his face. "What's going on? Where are we?"
"Not sure yet. I suspect though we'll find out soon enough," he replied, helping her up. "Speaking of 'where are we', Chrom, Lucina, any ideas?" he asked, turning back to the others.
"I'd say we're just inside the Outworld Gate, but there's something different about this place..." Chrom trailed off, his expression thoughtful.
"You are in a place that is both nowhere and everywhere," came a new voice. Each syllable seemed to reverberate around them, the voice's calm, yet commanding notes lingering longer than they should. A figure awash with white light appeared before them. Her, for it was a she, seemed to glow with its own light, her alabaster skin and snow dress appearing as though it had been formed itself from moonlight. Her green hair hung to her waist, flowing around the figure as if moved by an unseen wind. Stunned as he was, Robin recognized the figure at once. After all, this wasn't the first time the divine dragon, Naga, had appeared before them.
Chrom was the first to reply. "Wait, how...?!"
"You've arrived at last. It was I who summoned you here," Naga answered plainly. Her expression was grave save for the small hopeful smile that she regarded each of them in turn.
"...Summoned us? Why?" Chrom asked, his bewilderment plain to see.
"Yeah, I second that 'why'. Have you ever considered, I don't know, asking for help? Instead of kidnapping?" Robin added, moving to stand next to Chrom. "A little common courtesy is all I'm asking."
"In that regard I must apologies. As for the matter of why I have brought you here, it is more important than the inconvenience I may have caused you. A world stands on the brink of demise. But I have no power there to save it. Only those with the power to cross time and space can reach it in its hour of need... Only warriors such as yourselves."
For several moments no reply came. Robin saw that Chrom had turned to face him, his friend's expression uncertain. Robin smiled and nodded, knowing at once what the Exalt was asking with just that simple look. Of course, they'd agree to help, was that ever a question. Hopeless heroics in the face of better judgment was an unavoidable trend with them.
Chrom smiled in return, then turned his attention back to the divine dragon. "What world are we to save? What threat are we to face?"
"A world in which the ancient fell dragon has been revived, causing untold chaos," Naga answered. Robin's eyes widened at this.
Another world were Grima won? Like Lucina's future? He exchanged a quick, worried glance with Lucina, seeing that she was as alarmed as him.
Before he had a chance to ask this very question out-loud, Naga continued. "All hope for the future rests upon the shoulders of twelve valiant warriors, born with the power to alter their destinies. However, without intervention, these twelve will most certainly perish."
"All of them? B-But that's..." Robin heard Lucina breath from behind him, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Hear me. Four obtain Gules and Azure, but are annihilated before they can bear it home. Four more obtain Argent and Sable, only to expire in sight of their country's border. Three manage to successfully deliver Vert and the Emblem to where the exalted princess waits... But soon after, all four of them are slain," Naga explained, her tone growing almost sad. "Without aid that world fades into oblivion. This is its inexorable destiny. But some destinies are too cruel...and so I sought help. Warriors, I beseech you: intervene. Change what cannot be changed without you."
Robin frowned, a nagging issue coming to the forefront of his mind. "I hate to interrupt here, but I can't fail to notice you didn't exactly catch us prepared for a fight," he cut in, stepping forward. "I mean, Chrom has Falchion with him, but if we're going to—"
Before he could finish, Naga motioned with a hand to the gathered Shepherds. A white light suffused each of them, forcing Robin to shield his eyes with a hand. As the glow faded he saw that his sword now hung at his side, and he now felt the familiar weight of his tomes in the pockets of his robe. He was even wearing his breastplate. He had to give Naga some credit, she'd thought of everything.
Gazing around, he saw that the others were now likewise arrayed in the garments of war, each carrying the same weapons they had during their fight against Grima two years before. But of those assembled, only the sight of his wife gave him pause. An angel of war she appeared to him, beautiful and strong. Gone was the simple dress she'd worn in peace, replaced with the raiment of the Hero-King Marth. Her Falchion was buckled at her side, the blade's golden hilt and pommel glittering in the bright light.
"You're looking good," he said, a full-blown grin now spreading across his mouth. "It's been a while since I've seen you like this, I'd forgotten how stunning it makes you look."
"Robin, is this really the time?" she said, her cheeks burning red at his words. Embarrassed as she was, she didn't look displeased by the compliment however, a small smile tugging at the corners of her lips.
"I don't know, it never stopped us before. I mean, you remember our visit to those hot springs. I seem to recall that all those risen didn't stop us from—"
"—And before I'm forced to imagine things I'd rather not see, we move on," Chrom interrupted sharply, cutting the tactician off before he could continue any further with his thought. Lucina's face turned an even deeper shade of cherry red, Robin too felt his cheeks begin to burn.
Right, flirting with wife in front of her father. Awkward.
Chrom returned his attention to Naga now, speaking to her once more. "We will gladly lend our assistance, we'd never turn our backs on those in need so long as the power to help them is ours. That goes for this world and any other—even if our hopes are as thin as you say."
"Thank you. I shall send you now to the brink—the moment in time before the world falls. When you are ready, find the four with Gules and Azure, and see them through their task. After that, however, you must reach the others through your own means," the divine dragon replied, smiling at each of those gathered there in turn. "Here is my final counsel... The world you are about to visit bears a great resemblance to your own. You may encounter people you know or people you love... If you do, fight by their sides. It will give them great courage and strength. Now go, warriors. I know that destiny can yet be reshaped by your hands!"
. . . . .
"Gods, I hate teleportation," Robin groaned from where he lay face down in the dirt. Muttering under his breath he pushed himself upright. "Why did it have to be teleportation. Why not a nice portal we could just walk through," he ranted, speaking to no one in particular, as he began to dust off his robes.
"Quit complaining Robin, at least we got here in one piece," Chrom said, his tone bone dry. "Though, to be honest, there's not much of a 'here' for us to have arrived at."
Looking around him, it was easy for the tactician to see what Chrom had meant. The location the Shepherds had been teleported to was a wide empty wasteland. Long dead trees jutted from the rocky landscape as far as the eye could see, their bare branches reaching towards the sky like gnarled fingers. The parched earth beneath their feet was cracked and dry, with even the smallest movements kicked up clouds of dust. Even the sky was bleak, a gray haze seeming to hang over the heavens so that even the noonday sun appeared removed far away from the world below.
"What? No! ...No, it can't be," Lucina said from somewhere behind them.
At once Robin and Chrom turned to her. "Lucina, what's wrong?" the Exalt asked, speaking before the tactician.
"This is just like my future. Where I came from! It's all so similar…" Lucina said. Her breathing fell in heavy gasps, her skin paling to a ghostly pallor. "I could never forget. That enmity in the air—like the fell dragon threatens to crush us with every breath. The blighted landscape, devoid of life. The cold, empty skies." She was trembling now, her eyes wide as she stared off into the distance
At once Robin rushed to her. "Lucina," he said firmly, grabbing onto her shoulders so she faced him. Her hands latched onto his arms with a vice-like grip, her wide, terrified eyes staring deeply into his. Her attention now on him, Robin repeated her name, speaking softer now. "Lucina, listen to me. It's going to be alright. This isn't your world, it may look like it, but it isn't your world. The Grima who caused all this is dead, he died in our world. He can't hurt you anymore."
"But he's here, he's still in this world. We've made a terrible error coming here, I barely escape my world alive. You don't understand, if we stay here, we'll—"
Before she could finish Robin pulled her into his arms, wrapping her in a tight embrace. "You're right, I can't understand what you went through. I can't. But I can promise you, no one is going to die. We defeated Grima in our world, we can do it again." He rocked her gently, kissing her on the top of her head. "I won't let anything happen, I swear it."
Lucina fell still, her trembling ceasing.
"You good?" he asked, stroking her back gently. She nodded slowly, raising her chin to meet his gaze with her own.
"Good," Robin whispered, letting his arms fall away from her. He looked back at Chrom, evident concern for his daughter's well being etched across the Exalted features. Hesitating for half a second, Chrom reached out, placing a comforting hand on the princess's shoulder.
"Lucina, if you're right and this word is like yours, then the twelve heroes Naga mentioned must be this timeline's versions of you and your friends. Painful as they are, your memories of those events might be what we need to get us through this." Chrom paused, squeezing Lucina's shoulder in what Robin recognized as a comforting gesture. "Did anything like what Naga described happen in your timeline?"
Lucina nodded slowly, swallowing audibly, then spoke, her voice raw. "We attempted to seek out the gems and the Emblem not long before we traveled back in time. One of the gems had been lost in our time, so performing the Awakening was impossible," she paused, her expression becoming pensive. "I recall that Cynthia, Kjelle, Nah, and Noire were tasked with recovering Gules and Azure. All I remember of their journey was them recounting how they stayed a night in a ruined fort on their way back. I believe it's not far from where we are now. With luck, we can catch them there or at the very least pick up on their trail." She shrugged weakly. "Beyond that, I don't know. It's been too long. They might tell you more"
Robin nodded. "Sounds like making for those ruins are our best bet. I'll talk to the four of them, see if they remember anything of tactical significance."
"Good. Right now though, we need to get everyone in formation. If the stories we've been told are true, being careless in this world is a surefire way for us to all end up in early graves."
"Again," Robin said, a grim smile tugging at his lips.
"Again, right." Chrom sighed. "Gods that still strange to think about, that another me died in this world."
As Chrom set off to begin rounding up the other Shepherds, Robin turned to his wife. "Come on, help make sure everyone's ready to go. I'd imagine the others from your timeline aren't taking this much better than you."
Lucina nodded, "You always were concerned with everyone else, even the smallest things."
"Well, sometimes it's because I have a vested interest, particularly when… some… people are involved." Robin's cheeks flushed as he finished lamely. "Well, that certainly wasn't subtle."
Lucina smile at this for just a moment. She reached for his hand, intertwining their fingers. Setting off toward the others, the two of them stumbled across their future daughter standing alone not far away. She was staring off into the horizon, her lips pursed thoughtfully, her eyes half glazed over as if she wasn't looking at anything in particular.
"Morgan?" Robin called out, his daughter not responding to his voice. "Morgan? Earth to Morgan, this is your father speaking?" he repeated, this time louder.
His daughter jumped, startled by his voice. "Oh, father, sorry about that. I wasn't really paying attention," she said quickly, uncharacteristically flustered in her response.
Since when was Morgan ever caught off guard by something as silly as that?
"Are you alright?" he asked, arching an eyebrow at her.
"I'm fine, just had an odd feeling seeing all this. Like, it's familiar but … not familiar. Like visiting somewhere you haven't been in years and finding everything changed … I guess it's just strange, seeing what would have happened if we'd failed."
Robin nodded to her. "No, I suppose it isn't a happy thing to consider. Come on, we need to get moving. Your grandfather wants us to set out as soon as possible."
It wasn't long before the Shepherds were ready to depart, even after two years of peace the band of warriors managed to fall into order with practiced efficiency. Praised be the endless drills of Sir Frederick the Wary.
As he'd promised, Robin took some time to speak with the members of the second generation of Shepherds who'd been tasked with recovering Gules and Azure in Lucina's timeline, before eventually joining Lucina where she marched near the back of the party. She glanced up at him as he fell into place at her side, but otherwise took no further notice of his presence, her expression appearing troubled to his gaze
"Are you sure you're alright?" Robin asked her at length.
"Yes. It is just … it is not easy coming back here, to a world like this, after all this time. Too many painful memories." She shut her eyes, a barely perceptible shiver running through her.
"I would have thought that after Grima was defeated, you'd have been able to put some distance between you and the… well, memories. Hoped that two years of peace and happiness would have lessened the past's hold on you" Robin said, frowning deeply.
"I can't say I was happy during those years," Lucina replied, her voice barely louder than a whisper.
"Oh," Robin said falling silent. There wasn't much else for him to say. He'd left her alone when he'd chosen to sacrifice himself to end the threat the Fell Dragon posed once and for all. He'd made the choice knowing what the consequences would be for his loved ones, that he'd put them through the pain of losing him.
"I'm sorry," he said at last.
"It's alright." Lucina kept her gaze on the road ahead, not looking at him.
"No, it's not alright." He stopped, taking her hands in his as he pulled her around to face him. "I keep forgetting the pain I put you through when I… when I, 'you know'. I must be the worst husband in history, leaving you like that. I can't ever make up for that, but I can be there for you now." He squeezed her hands gently, his voice falling to a whisper. You can tell me what's bothering you, Lucina. You know you can."
"I'm scared, Robin," she whispered, leaning against him so that her head rested against his chest. "Not just because of seeing this world again, but because I'm terrified something will happen to you. I only just got you back. What if something happens."
She squeezed his hands tighter, clinging to them as if she feared he'd vanish the moment she let go "I can't bear losing you again."
"Lucina, I'm not going anywhere. I'm not going to leave you ever again," Robin assured her with every ounce of conviction he could muster, so that his words carried every bit of his belief in their truth. "Remember what I promised you? That I'd do everything in my power to support you for the rest of my life. That I wouldn't even let death stop me from being with you. That if I died I'd—"
"—find a way to come back," she finished for him. She raised her head, meeting his gaze. Her azure eyes sparkled with the wetness that had pooled there.
"And I kept that promise, didn't I? I did come back."
"I suppose you did," she conceded, a smile pursing her lips.
"Then trust me to keep this promise too," he said, leaning forward as he did to kiss her on the lips. "I'd be a poor tactician if I couldn't figure out a way to keep myself alive long enough to-"
A hiss of movement from behind them snapped the two from their attention. Alarm flashing in their eyes, they whirled around, weapons drawn.
Behind them stood Gaius, the thief casually sucking on a lollipop as if he hadn't noticed the swords pointed in his direction. "Yo, Bubbles, Blue Junior, I hate to interrupt, but Blue asked me to come to get you two before you fell even further behind. Seemed pretty worried about his daughter and best friend getting ambushed while they were 'having a moment'."
Looking around, Robin found that others had indeed already gotten far ahead of where he and Lucina had stopped. "Ah, right. Thanks for the head's up Gaius."
"Don't mention it," the thief nodded, before casually brushing past them to rejoin the other Shepherds ahead.
"Right, we should probably catch up too," Robin laughed, turning back to his wife.
"That would likely be for the best," she said, laughing for the first time since they arrived.
Robin wondered at the sudden, if not unwelcome, change to her mood.
Huh, maybe I'm better than I thought, he mused as they set off after the rest of their group.