Title: The Lost Children

Day/Theme: October seventeenth / the boy who could not shiver and shake

Series: fire emblem 9 (path of radiance) but quite au

Character/Pairing: in this chapter, Ike, Mist,

Rating: PG for now, probably up to PG-13 in future chapters

Summary: they were all searching for something, Ike for his father, Ena for her lost love, Soren for the happiness of the only person special to him, all of them searching for a jaded god who granted wishes but had unanswered wishes of his own

Note: perhaps this shows how much time I spent with fairytales as a child.

The numbers beside each chapter represent Ike's age at that point in time.

For the reference, Ike was born in summer, and starts out at age Ten. Mist was born in late spring, and starts out at four- almost -five, Soren is born in early fall, thus is ten as well.

Also I should note a certain structural change. Originally I set out with pairings in mind (and listed them) but in the end I decided this was more a friendship story, a journey than a romance. There's some things that people might see as subtext and there will be one or two canon pairings that I won't reveal just yet – but at its heart this is a tale about acceptance and bonds, of growing along the way than actual romantic love.

The Lost Children

I. The Boy Who Could Not Shiver And Shake. (Ten)

When Ike heard the news, something deep inside him turned still, silent and cold. It was as if for that moment he had been turned to stone, and when the curse was lifted, traces still remained. For a moment life lost all its realness, Ike was here, breathing, existing, and somehow his father was no longer there. No longer guiding him, teaching him swordsmanship or simply being there.

Greil had vanished into the air he had first appeared from.

Ike had been the last to see Greil alive. He remembered it, can still see the images float and dance if he close his eyes. It feels dreamlike, something unreal, born of a fever or of sleep. The moonlight had been an odd shade, yellow-red, that fell upon leaves that trembled in fear, or anticipation. The path hurdled in front of him as he ran, shaking unsteady towards the sound of conflict.

His father fought against a knight clothed in armor so dark, it seemed formed out of the night itself, just another facet of midnight, another nightmare sprung to life. Ike saw sword and axe meet, glinting silver in the wan light, his father and opponent reduced to silhouettes beyond the meeting of metal edges sharp enough to cleave bone. Ike screamed but no sound came out, voiceless and hollow, the only sound was feet over solid ground, dust dispersing around them, and of weapons laced in combat, everything else was swallowed up by the immense black night. They seemed evenly matched, each blow was met or parried, until Greil lost his footing for a millisecond, a mere fragment of time, stumbled – the knight struck. It looked as if they were embraced, Greil swallowed up in dark material under which arms and bone and a heart surely beat. Ike reached out, too far away, too young — "Father!"

There was no light, no forewarning of what was to come. The night became darker, too dark to see, his father and the black knight swallowed whole into the black hole of nothingness surrounding them.

Greil and the knight were gone. No trace of them remained, except footprints that circled to nowhere. Ike searched until a blister formed in his right shoe, following the tracks and the places they'd been. He walked through the woods, filled with the surreal feeling that he would wake up soon – the moonlight was reddened as the night lengthened, the color of spilled blood.

Ike walked and walked and walked, throat hoarse with a choking feeling inside clawing to get out.

When Ike woke the next day, he had leaves in his hair.

.

Already news had passed that Greil had vanished. By afternoon, the entire company. They seemed live waves of strangers to Ike, empty faces, blurs of people who once worked for his father and yet were nothing to him when his father disappeared. Titania had been away delivering a formal message to the nearby ruling Lord, Shinion had left immediately, Trevan and Yan had moved on to another group. It was clear to Ike – no one else was going to find his father, they'd already given him up for dead. That left only him, no one else to depend on.

There was few things to pack, a few outfits that would last the trip and the only sword that was light enough for him to wield, some food, a blanket light enough to carry and the few coins he had earned the week before running errands. He wouldn't dip into any other funds even if it was for a good cause.

Taking one last look at his room, he slipped out through the hallway.

He only got halfway through before he realized that Mist followed him

Mist followed him, dragging along a ragged stuffed animal behind her. "Brother..." she mumbled. "Where are you going?"

"I'm going to find father."

"You can't!" Mist clung to Ike, digging her fingers into his shirt, twisting for a better grip. At four, almost five she still had the softness of baby fat around her cheeks, especially noticeable when she smiled or pouted.

"But, Mist–!"

Tears gathered at the corners of her eyes, threatening to spill over. "Brother, please!"

Ike turned, steeling himself against her tears. "I can't. Father would never forgive me if you got hurt."

"Take me with you! I won't be trouble, I'll be good and I won't get in the way, I swear!"She tugged on his sleeve, demanding his attention.

"Mist, you're way too young to go with me. You should stay for when Titania comes. It's too dangerous for you to go."

She stomped her foot in frustration, "I'm four! almost five! I can take dangerous things too!"

"Mist, I already told you, I have to find father, and I can't do it if I'm worrying about you getting hurt" Ike said.

"Brother... Don't leave, not you too!" This time she really did cry, big splashes of tears that formed wet trails down her face, which was crumpled and red in anger/sadness.

"Mist... Alright. But don't leave my side."

She looked up at him, hope coming through the remains of her tears. "Promise you won't leave without me?"

"I promise." Ike said.

When they left it was on a side path through the nearby woods. The ground was moist, damp, smelling of earth and rotting leaves. A canopy of treetops surrounded them, shapes of sky peeking through the finger-like branches. Under the crooks of a bent, ancient tree, they slept there, the first night, on beds of leaves and soft moss collected from the north side of trees as makeshift pillows. Their sleep was dreamless, yet fitful.

The next morning they wove out from under the shade to meadows and a path that lead further, to somewhere uncharted, unknown, to where their father would surely be.