ONLY A DREAM
fanfic by volly
fire emblem (c) nintendo

...

zero:

"So what will their names be, your highness?"

The blue-haired woman gave a small smile and looked fondly down at the bundle in her lap.

"I think I'll call them...Eirika and Ephraim."

...

one:

From the very beginning, people thought the new heirs of Renais were a bit odd. They were quite active, for babies, and they never seemed to stop moving. They learned to speak from quite early on, and seemed to be exceptionally bright, for one-year-olds.

And they never cried, unless they were separated.

...

two:

"Eirik. Eirika," the blue-haired toddler tugged at his sister's sleeve, and she glanced up from the picture book she had been examining.

"What?"

Ephraim gave a toothy grin and held up a building block. "Play?"

"Alright!"

Their nurse glanced upon the scene idly as she sat atop a stool nearby, and she couldn't help but allow a smile to tug at her lips. Really, the two were so precious. She loved children, but the twins held a special place in her heart.

However, watching the toddlers always felt strange to her, as if she was looking through a window into a private and unknown world. Perhaps it had something to do with their uncharacteristic closeness, as twins, but the two never really took much notice of her and sometimes went so far as to totally dismiss her presence altogether. They engrossed themselves only in their many luxurious toys, and each other. It sometimes made her wonder what having a twin would be like. Wouldn't it be nice, she mused, to always have someone to rely on? To always have someone on your side? To know that she would never be alone?

She sighed and shook her head to dispel such poignant thoughts. Well, she really didn't have much to worry about. The twins seemed content to stay put, wherever they were, as long as they had each other. As a matter of fact, there really wasn't much for her to do at all.

She had the easiest job in the world.

...

three:

"...and then the princess married the prince and they lived happily ever after." King Fado closed the book of fairy tales with a soft clap of paper and beamed at his two children, reaching over to properly tuck them in bed. "Good night, my dears."

"Daddy," Ephraim asked suddenly, just as his father was about to leave the room. "What's 'married'?"

"Hm? To marry someone is...to stay with them forever," the king explained, tugging a bit on the tips of his short mustache. "Like me and your mommy."

"Oh?" Ephraim opened his mouth, as if wanting to learn more about this strange, unknown ritual, but he was interrupted with his sister's loud yawn. The king smiled indulgently, and it was with a final "good night," that he closed the door and left the room in darkness.

Eirika loved fairy tales, even though she could hardly understand half of the words in their bedtime stories. She also had a penchant for falling asleep just as the end approached. It never really bothered Ephraim much--despite having separate rooms now, the twins still preferred to sleep in the same bed. There was just something about the other's presence that dispelled all the nightmares associated with sleeping alone.

"Eirika," Ephraim whispered, turning to regard his sibling. "Marry me?"

But she was already lost in deep slumber.

...

five:

One of her earliest and most memorable childhood memories was fleeing to her brother's room during the summer storms. In truth, princess Eirika wasn't in the least bit frightened of even the fiercest tempests. She just used her fake phobia as a convenient excuse.

When the rain fell and the thunder boomed and the lightning threw straggled shadows upon the wall, the child would hop out of her massive bed almost cheerfully and make her way to the door. Her brother's room was just next door, and the trip never took very long. She would stop before the door for only a few seconds to properly compose herself before turning the doorknob and entering.

"Ephraim?"

Her small voice would never be enough to wake him up. Her brother slept deeply, and it was only after she would climb up on his bed to urgently shake his shoulder that he would finally open his eyes and yawn.

"Eirika? What're you doing here?" his words would still be slurred and groggy from sleep, but Eirika would find herself relaxing at the familiar voice. She would slip quietly under the covers and press her body against his, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and nuzzling against his neck.

"There's a storm. I'm scared."

"D'you want to stay here tonight?" Ephraim would ask. It was a question that both knew already knew the answer to, but nevertheless it was only after his sister's affirming "yeah," that he would return her hug. They would bury themselves deeper into the quilts. Ephraim would fall asleep first, but Eirika would continue to stay up for a while later, focusing on her brother's rhythmic breathing and forgetting all about the raging winds outside.

...

eight:

The twins loved going to the beach. There was a particularly lovely stretch of shore on Jehenna's eastern shore that they frequented, and for them no place on Magvel was more beautiful.

To be sure, it was amazingly picturesque, with gleaming white sands and elm trees and eternally cloud-free skies. The waves were fun, but never powerful enough to overpower the two small children. The sun was bright, but never hot enough to cause sunburns.

As soon as their coach came to a stop, Ephraim and Eirika would burst out the doors and sprint down to the sea. They would amuse themselves with the water for awhile, splashing each other and prowling the shallows for fish. After an hour or two of this game, Eirika would eventually wander off to collect shells while Ephraim would clamber onto one of the more climbable elms, pulling himself patiently from bough to bough until he reached the very top. He would sit back, a prince in his throne of swaying branches and rustling leaves, to survey his oceanic kingdom with a lazy eye.

Eirika would usually treasure-hunt along the ridge of a sheltered cove, out of her brother's sight. However, there came a day after a surge of high tide that she decided instead to stay on the main beach to throw stranded sea stars back into the water. Ephraim had observed the scene from on high, as always, but there was an odd fluttery feeling in his stomach as he watched the sea breeze ruffle his sister's bangs and the hem of her dress, and he couldn't help but notice that Eirika's long hair was the exact color of the sky. It was, he had thought, a very apt and fitting comparison, but for some reason it bothered him. They were twins, and yet he couldn't help but wonder if his own hair was the same shade, or if he ever appeared that graceful, or if he had ever been as big-hearted as his sister, who went out of her way to help lowly sea creatures return to their homes.

"Eirika," he had said to her on their long ride home. "What color is my hair?"

She had given him an odd look, but pursed her lips thoughtfully before reaching out to run her fingers through the tangles in his messy bangs. "Blue."

"Be more specific," he had said, feeling a bit irritated.

She had hefted a sigh, but complied. "Darker than mine. I s'pose it's more like a teal hue, or turquoise. Something like that."

He had accepted the answer, and turned his gaze to the window, where the desert dunes whipped by in a blur of wild color. Several minutes had passed until she spoke again, hesitantly.

"I think...it's the exact color of the ocean."

...

thirteen:

Time passed, and Eirika was acquainted with princess Tana of Frelia. It was truly a turning point in her life--she finally had her first friend, apart from Ephraim, and from that moment on she spent countless hours with the other girl, just chatting and frolicking like all girlfriends were apt to do.

She liked Tana. Something about her sunny personality and ever-cheerful smile enchanted her. Eirika admired the Frelian princess' optimism most of all--it seemed like no one could ever bring her down. She had never once seen the other girl cry...

No, that was wrong. Even Tana had spilt tears before, though the instances were few and far between. Eirika still remembered the first day she walked into Tana's room to find the dark-haired princess sobbing into her hands. She remembered her shock as she quickly ran over to console her friend.

"Tana? What's wrong?"

Tana just hiccuped and scrubbed at her eyes. "Nothing. Nothing at all."

"That's a lie," Eirika said angrily, whipping out her handkerchief from a pocket and dabbing at her friend's wet cheeks. She laid a hand upon Tana's shaking shoulder and forced a smile when Tana gripped back. In a softer tone, she asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"

"No," then, a few seconds later, "yes."

If there was one person who could ever bring Tana down from her cloud, it was her brother. Eirika never really saw much of Innes. She recalled seeing a lanky young man with sharp gray eyes, aristocratic features, and tousled iron-colored hair, but they'd never quite been acquainted, since Tana always yanked her off to other places as soon as she caught sight of him. Though the Frelian princess seemed oddly unwilling to let Eirika meet her brother, she spoke about him all the time, though her words shifted frequently between adoring praise and exasperated insults.

"Innes can be so cruel," she lamented, eyes shimmering again with unshed tears. "I love him, he's my brother after all, but he never seems to feel the same for me. Every time I speak to him, every time I try to say a friendly word--I can't even remember the last time he even smiled at me."

Eirika held her friend awkwardly, patting Tana's luxurious hair, thinking frantically of other methods to soothe the distraught girl. "I'm sure he loves you. He probably doesn't know how to show it."

Tana sniffed, blowing her nose briefly in Eirika's handkerchief before continuing wretchedly, "Eirika, I'm so envious of you. You're so lucky you have Ephraim."

"Huh?"

"He's the perfect brother. You two always listen to what the other says. He always supports you. You never fight," Tana hefted a sigh, lifting her gaze briefly to lock eyes with Eirika. "Sometimes I think it's a little unnatural. All siblings fight sometime, don't they?"

"They do?" Eirika asked, feeling rather light-headed. Tana just nodded, and the two girls sat in silence for a bit longer before the dark-haired princess was spirited off by a passing maid.

Eirika returned home from Frelia earlier that day, intent on finding her brother. She finally saw him in a courtyard outside, where he was busy mock-sparring with a friend. Usually, she would stop to admire his fluid movements, his graceful usage of his padded spear, but this time she simply marched up to her twin without preamble and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Ephraim!"

He flinched at the touch and spun, nearly breaking his sister's arm with a downwards chop of his weapon. However, he managed to halt the attack at the last possible second, and the staff came to rest softly against Eirika's wrist instead. Ephraim blinked, ran a hand casually through his mussed hair, and gave a strained laugh. "Ah, Eirika, don't scare me like--ow!" he winced as his fighting partner poked him in the back with a wooden sword. The prince of Renais rounded upon the other youth, who just smirked lazily in response to Ephraim's annoyed glare. "Forde, I was talking to my sister!"

"Sorry about that, my lord," the blond teen said, pulling back his weapon and replacing it at the belt on his hip. "Shall I assume practice is at an end?" he didn't wait for an answer, however, before giving the royal twins a last courteous bow and taking his leave. Eirika watched him stride back to the barracks before turning back to confront her brother.

"Ephraim, we need to talk."

"What about?"

"We need to fight."

"What?!" Ephraim quirked a brow, staring at his sister as if she had sprouted another head. "What do we need to fight for?" he was, understandably, puzzled. It was true that the twins never fought--they had never really felt the need to. So why did Eirika feel the need to change that?

"Tana said," Eirika paused to think back on the incident, recalling her friend's exact words. "Tana said that siblings who didn't fight were 'unnatural'. You want us to be natural, don't you? So we have to fight, right?"

"That's ridiculous," Ephraim scoffed, digging his practice spear into the ground. He liked Tana--she was his sister's friend, after all--but sometimes he thought she was a bit air-headed. "We don't need to fight to be natural. I always feel natural around you, and we never fight. Besides, what's so bad about being unnatural if it means we never argue?"

Eirika frowned and crossed her arms. "Are you calling Tana ridiculous?"

"No, I'm just saying that what she said is ridiculous."

"Ephraim, we have to be natural! If all siblings fight, we have to do the same, or else we can't be siblings!"

"What the hell? Who said we can't be siblings? Is there a set of sibling laws written down somewhere that says we absolutely have to fight sometime in our life? We can do whatever we want! I'm perfectly happy not fighting!"

"Well, I'm not!"

The two didn't realize how loudly their voices had risen. They didn't notice how their hands had unconsciously curled into fists, or how there were tears pricking at the corners of their eyes. All they knew was that, for the first time in their life, they were disagreeing with each other, and it was like being placed on opposite sides of a massive canyon, with no bridge for a middle ground. In all their previous conflicts, one had always yielded to the other, and most of the time their short and soft disputes were forgotten just minutes afterwards, anyways. This time, it was different. They were both set in their opinions, they could see no logic in the other's views, they couldn't tell what exactly the other was thinking, and it hurt more than either of them would care to admit.

"Ephraim, why won't you listen to me?!"

"I am! You wanted a fight, didn't you? Isn't this what you wanted? Aren't you happy now?!"

The words came out in a snarl, in a vicious tone of voice Ephraim had never known he'd possessed until now. Eirika just stared openly at her brother in shocked disbelief--he'd never spoken to her with such venom before. She couldn't hold back the tears rimming her eyes, and it was with a sob of shame and utter misery that she whirled and ran back to the castle. Ephraim watched her flee with a sort of angry joy, and it felt like a sinful fire was licking at his insides. The feeling was intoxicating. He had won his first fight with his sister, and he felt absolutely proud of it.

But the mood wore off as he saw her distant figure disappear through the palace's large double doors. The furious elation was abruptly replaced by utter dismay. What had he just done? He was her twin, her counterpart, the opposite half of her soul, and he'd just sent her off in tears. She'd cried before, but he had always been the one to console her. He had never been the source of her sadness. In that moment, Ephraim suddenly hated himself.

"Fool, fool, fool! What've you done?" ignoring the makeshift spear still embedded in the ground, he tore off after his sister, sprinting as fast as his long legs would allow him to. He reached the castle in a matter of minutes, and dashed past the numerous servants and pages without a thought, knocking aside those who dared stand for longer than a second in his path. "EIRIKA!"

She'd probably be in her room, he thought dazedly as he continued rushing through the long hallways. There was a stitch in his side as he ran, and he was breathing heavily as he pushed himself to a limit he'd never been aware of save now. The door to Eirika's room loomed into view, and Ephraim stopped before it for a brief moment to catch his breath, before pounding urgently on the wood. "Eirika!"

There was no answer. Ephraim tried the doorknob, but it was locked. Locked? Eirika never locked her door! An irrational panic seized him as he tried again, yanking at the handle violently, but without success.

"Eirika, open up!" he fancied he could hear a muffled weeping from within, and it broke his heart. "Please!"

She could never say no to her brother. The door opened with a click, and swung out to reveal his very miserable-looking sister. Ephraim quickly rushed forwards to envelop her small body in a crushing hug, squeezing her as if he could wring out all memories of what had just happened. She didn't seem to notice that her ribs were under threat of cracking, but just continued to cry into his shoulder, her tears dripping into his hair, down his neck, onto his luxurious clothes. He didn't care.

"I'm so sorry," he murmured, running his hands through her sky-hued locks. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he repeated the words, as if saying them enough times could make the pain disappear. He should never have done this, it was all his fault, he was lower than mud, he wasn't fit to be the twin of the most beautiful girl in the world. It took a while in realizing that he too was crying--it was only after Eirika wiped her thumb across his cheek that he glanced up at her face in surprise. She was wearing a rather forced smile, and it was with a great effort that he managed to grin back. For a short moment, everything felt all right again.

"It's okay," she said, leaning back against his chest, enjoying the feeling that everything would be fine and fall back into place, as it had been. "I got what I wanted, didn't I? We're natural now."

A small part of Ephraim wanted to further argue the meaning of 'natural', but he stifled the rebellious streak. In the end, it didn't really matter, anyways.

...

twenty-one:

She hadn't seen him for months, and it felt like someone had ripped a half of her apart. Admittedly, she appeared the same as she ever had on the outside--her strong willpower and inherent charisma came in handy when it came to leading her motley crew in search of the truth. No one, not even her most trusted adviser, Seth, could tell how crippled she was without her twin. She simply wouldn't, couldn't let her weakness show.

Ever since she had walked into his room that day and found him missing, it felt like life had been a dream, shrouded in a fog she couldn't penetrate without his help. The next day after his disappearance, things had passed in a whirlwind of death and mystery and bloody battles. Everything changed so quickly--Renais fell, Frelia was under threat, and Grado was still busy carrying out what seemed to be a total, absolute conquest. Everything became uncertain and hazy, almost unreal.

Everything came together again the moment she saw him.

They didn't really have a chance to properly talk in Fort Renvall. There were still enemies to fight and a fort to seize, and reunion time had to be limited. Their army had to always be on the move, and it was only after they left the Grado fortress and began their long journey back to Frelia that she could finally confront her brother.

The party had just set up camp, and the sun was setting, casting fiery rays of light across the landscape. Someone--perhaps Lute--had set up a campfire, and those who had already put up tents were now seated in a rough circle around it, snacking on rations and chatting with friends. The newcomers were settling in nicely, she mused. Kyle was busy discussing tactical strategies with Seth, while Franz was getting caught up with his older brother, Forde. Ephraim, meanwhile, was...where was he? The princess of Renais blinked, holding up a hand to shield her eyes from the sun as she surveyed the area.

Ah, he was still putting up his tent. She slapped on a cheerful grin as she stood up, stretching out her arms a bit before meandering over to her sibling.

"Need help?"

He glanced up, and a smile stretched across his tanned face as he recognized his sister. "Hey, Eirika. Yes, help would be appreciated, thanks."

They assembled the shelter together in a companionable silence, though Eirika still felt a bit uncomfortable as she searched for a suitable conversation topic. What could she say, really, to a person who had abandoned her and her country without warning? What could she say to a person who had thrown away everything to wage a private war against Grado with nothing more than a few loyal vassals? She couldn't help but wince as she recalled the disappearance once again--she probably wouldn't have minded running away with Ephraim and fighting by his side, and yet he had just up and left, without so much as a note for his twin...

"Ah, we're done," Ephraim noted, standing up and dusting off his gloved hands. "Thank you again for the much-needed aid, sister," and his grin was that of a rascal's, but it was bright as the setting sun and Eirika found that she couldn't look away.

"Well, I suppose I have an obligation to help out the...less-able members of the group, hmm?" she teased back. Ephraim laughed, and Eirika found her heart beating faster as he hooked an arm around her neck in an affectionate half-hug. It was just her brother, she scolded herself, and yet the familiar gesture now felt so strange. Maybe it was just his absence that made him now so...foreign.

"You're the same as ever, aren't you, Eirika?"

No, she wasn't. And she was surprised that he couldn't feel it. They were twins, and they used to be so close that they could practically tell exactly what the other was feeling, and yet now she couldn't help but notice that there was a long, jagged emotional chasm that now divided herself and her brother. He didn't notice her stiffen, didn't notice the way the corners of her lips twitched in a struggle to hold her strained smile.

For the first time in her life, Eirika didn't know what to do with her brother. No, that was wrong. She knew exactly what she wanted to do. She wanted to scream at him for leaving her, she wanted to slap him in his handsome laughing face, she wanted to grab him and shake him and beg him never to make her worry like that again, she wanted to hold him, wanted to kiss him, wanted to crawl into his bed again and have him chase away all her bad dreams, like he had done when they were children and young and carefree and oh so naïve...

Her emotions were a whirling mess, but she shoved through the turmoil and pushed it forcibly away. She wanted to do so many things, but for the first time in her life she couldn't relax with her brother and realized things could never be as simple as they once were.

Ephraim was looking at her oddly, and she realized she had stayed silent for about a minute, still caught up in his embrace and her own tormenting thoughts. She heaved a sigh and put on another fake grin.

"Yeah...I'm still the same old me, I guess."

...

thirty-four:

The wind blew through the open windows, bringing with it the scent of lilacs blooming in the garden. Eirika breathed deeply, closing her eyes as she absorbed the once-comforting atmosphere of the room.

She could remember everything so clearly. When she was a child, she never really got used to her own room, and spent almost every night over at Ephraim's chamber next door. Once they'd gotten older, they started drifting apart. As teenagers, it was no longer appropriate to sleep in the same bed, and Eirika always drew odd, accusing glances from the maids and pages whenever she dared slip away to her brother's room during a storm.

She shook her head, brushing her long hair away from her eyes and settling herself onto the bare mattress in the center of the room. It was devoid of the extravagant quilts and pillows that had once lain on its surface, but when the princess of Renais closed her eyes she thought she could recall the image of two young twins snuggling into the now-nonexistent covers.

"My, how things change," she said aloud, running her hands over the coarse fabric of the pallet. "Too quickly, and never for the better nowadays, it seems..."

She drifted off and cocked her head to one side as she heard footsteps approaching from outside. A moment later the door opened to admit her brother, whose face held a worried look. He brightened, however, upon catching sight of his twin. "Eirika, I was wondering where you went off to. What are you doing here?"

"Oh, just...reliving some memories, I guess," she said, chuckling. Ephraim was resplendent in his new, kingly robes, which shimmered with vibrant colors and various precious gems. He gathered up a few long folds of the vestment before sliding forwards to sit next to her on the bed. Eirika let her fingers draw idle circles on the bed's surface. "I suppose you're done packing everything up, are you?"

"Oh, yes," Ephraim glanced around the room fondly, lips curling into a smile as he lay back to lean against the headboard. "It feels strange, leaving this place. I've been at Renais all my life, after all, but if Tana wants me to move to Frelia, I'd best respect my bride's wishes, eh?"

"Yes, you should..."

Ephraim threw his sister a sideways glance, wondering why she was acting so oddly. "Is anything the matter?"

"Oh, not really," Eirika waved a hand airily, as if dismissing her little problems. "I suppose I'm just feeling a bit down from dealing with all these wedding preparations. It's been hard work, but I'll get through it. Anyways, enough about me, how about you? Ready for the big day?"

"Heh. I wish," Ephraim ran his fingers through his hair, a nervous gesture he kept from his youth. "But I guess it's natural to feel nervous. I just never imagined that I'd be married one day, and to Tana, no less. I always thought she just wanted to be friends."

Eirika smiled, but it was a mirthless one. Her brother could honestly be so blind at times. "Tana had always adored you." Who could not? she wondered mentally. "Do you love her back?"

"She's a wonderful woman," Ephraim replied. It wasn't exactly an answer, but she supposed it was the closest thing she would get. He stood up and gave a final look around the barren bedroom before offering his hand to his sister, who grasped it gratefully and was tugged gently to her feet. "You'll be at our wedding, right? I'll need your support."

Eirika laughed. When had she ever deserted her twin?

"You know I'll always be there for you."

...

author's notes: first time writing for the fire emblem fandom. :D i've been a long-time lurker, though. -wave- hello!

this oneshot may or may not have been inspired by the lovely song 'only a dream', by mary chapin carpenter. the lyrics are really reminiscent of eirika and ephraim so i wrote this thing. i intended on it being twincest, but it's so softcore that i suppose it can also just be sibling love. :/

anyways, enough of my rambling. :3 i hope i'll write more fire emblem--i've loved the series for quite a while--and please review! flames are also appreciated. it flatters me that you hate my story enough to waste your time screaming at me. ;D constructive criticism is also welcome, so go ahead and bludgeon me if you think my style is horrific or whatever, mmkay?