Fandom: Fire Emblem 9
Rating: PG at the very most.
Summary: Some things can never be mended, and yet, some things can still be pieced together. Some Ike/Soren.
A/N: Has very light spoilers for the latter chapters of POR, nothing too much to worry about. Just some fluff that happened after I replayed through chapter 26 again (Which is an annoying chapter, mind you.), and my own personal habit of never letting Ike's Regal Sword break.
Yeah, this is another "written at five AM" type fic. Thanks to Saaski for the quick beta
Soren could tell Ike's mood in an instant. It was a skill he perfected through many years of watching; he focused on each gesture, each smile. Staying beside Ike, Soren made it his habit to anticipate Ike's wants and needs. These days, Ike barely would mention his hunger before Soren would be handing him the extra food he had packed specially or the extra water skins squirreled away.
Perhaps no one else would've noticed. It was a subtle sadness. But to Soren it was as obvious as a bright object in the sun, a splash of color in monochrome.
The battle had been a long and grueling one. There had been no casualties, yet he sensed a faint discontent had come over Ike; a weariness that wasn't completely physical.
Later on, when twilight brushed the sky and stars showed faint in the blue black velvet sky, Soren approached him.
"Ike, what is it?"
Ike shook his head.
"It was just a sword," he said. "Don't worry about it."
Soren looked at him questioningly, but Ike offered no explanation.
"I'm tired, can we take care of this another time?" Ike said.
"Of course. We can run by the plans tomorrow morning."
Ike turned. His eyes seemed unfocused, looking somewhere beyond Soren, past to the day's last events.
Ike nodded and muttered something that sounded like you too.
Something had been bothering Ike. Soren frowned as Ike left, worry rising within him.
Whenever something affected Ike negatively, Soren felt it. It was as if they were bound together, or just that Soren was so attuned to Ike that he couldn't withdraw himself.
Soren couldn't rest until he had solved the problem, corrected the need that plagued Ike.
When Ike left, Soren checked through Ike's belongings. It wasn't as if looking through his things was an uncommon occurrence between them; Soren always made sure that Ike had the best of weapons, elixirs, and vulneraries packed. He could not watch Ike every minute, and Ike was prone to charging ahead even when seriously wounded. The least he could do was make sure that Ike's sword didn't break mid-battle, leaving him helpless to the hoards of enemies.
Soren knelt beside the bag and carefully opened it. Light reflected off of the metal blades. A Silver sword, a few vulneraries clinked at the bottom, along with an elixir. Most of the space was taken by the legendary blade, Ragnell, which was so heavy it took all his effort just to move it aside.
The sword Ike's father had given him was gone. Soren frowned for a moment, and looked deeper, surely Ike would've not left it with the supplies? Ike was not given to sentimentalism, but it had been the first sword that was truly his, the last thing his father had given him. Even if time had rendered it far less useful with legendary unbreakable swords, Ike always kept it beside him.
Ike's words came back to him then. It was just a sword.
How many things had Ike given up through the years? A home, a childhood that ended too soon; that sword had been his one liberty.
Soren had never been skilled at comfort. He could never make himself tell happy lies. The truth was harsh, hardly a comfort; kind words wouldn't bring back Ike's father, they wouldn't stop the war, killing, the chaos over the land. But for once, a plan formulated in his head. Perhaps, for once, he knew how to mend this.
Soren never had to account for what he took from the supply room, and no one even blinked when he set out with a newly boughten wind tome, a fire tome, and the staff that Aimee had given him.
He didn't offer an excuse, the soldier at duty didn't ask for one.
The Hammerne felt fragile in his hands, twig-like. Sure that it could break at any moment, Soren held it carefully, like fine china that could easily shatter if dropped.
When Soren left, the sun was already fading in the sky. The daylight would only last for a few more hours, and the last battlefield they'd fought on was a long walk away. Even then, the search would be a difficult one. In truth, it was most likely a waste of energy. The sword hadn't been particularly special other than the sentimental value. There were often far more powerful swords, but Ike always had kept this one at his side.
If someone had suggested that Soren would be on his hands and knees scrounging until his nails were dirty, his robes muddied and ripped looking for pieces of a sword that only held personal value, he would've scoffed and quickly walked away.
But here he was, taking part in a futile search for the lost fragments of metal. He cursed himself for not going earlier when the sun might've easily caught the pieces in reflection, but at this late hour the trees already cast long shadows across the path.
Still, hopeless as it was, he searched. Nothing was too much for Ike, after all.
Soren searched until twilight came and stars appeared in the sky. As careful and prepared as he ever was, Soren had brought along a lantern should he need it. He flicked open his fire tome and decreased the spell, held it in his fingers until it was a mere spark, using the ember to set the wick alight.
In the darkness he became more alert--every sound made him take notice. He could be easily ambushed, and he had not informed anyone of his whereabouts. There would be no hope of reinforcements should he be captured.
Soren shook his head to clear it. Bandits weren't particularly common in this area. While the mountains afforded a nice shelter, the closest establishments were military bases. The bandits preferred more unprotected areas. Soren was, however, ever careful. He quickly constructed a plan as he worked. Even with unlikely events, it was always best to be prepared.
Even when his fingers were worn almost raw, close to the point of bleeding, Soren kept searching. He found so many false leads, spears broken in half and shattered axes, stones that looked metallic in the wan light…
While he brushed away dust and debris, bent low to the ground, his mind wandered from the robotic monotony of the work. He remembered the first time Ike opened his arms to him, and the so many subsequent times. Ike pushing him aside to take a hit meant for him, Ike helping him up when he had stumbled. The churning feeling in his gut when Ike had left alone to fight the Black Knight, and his inability to follow and ensure his safety, or at the very least, make sure that if they were to die they died together.
Soren knew that he would not have another chance to look; soon they would move on further and leave this battlefield behind, the sword and all the memories associated with it left as greying bones in the glare of the sun. Even if the chance was slim, the idea preposterous, Soren wanted to try. Perhaps it was a coalescing of all the gratitude he could never give back or properly express. Without Ike he would have no reason to live, without Ike he wouldn't even be alive today.
A preposterous quest at entirely the wrong time for a broken, scattered sword was the least he could do.
Several hours of working later, his hands brushed over something cold. He was exhausted by this point, and half expected to find a stone, or the broken shards of another sword, but sifting through the dirt, his fingers found a hilt he recognized.
The sword had not merely been broken in two, it had splintered into many pieces from the force of its final blow
Ike never did things half-heartedly, Soren thought with a wry smile.
Even finding these, it made it so much harder to mend.
The Hammerne was made to repair weapons that were nearly broken. Stories said that a goddess descended from the heavens with the staff in her hands, that it was used to fix a holy sword that saved the world from chaos. A nice tale, but Soren was skeptical. It was far more likely to be a staff from some long forgotten alchemist or magician. The last remains of some discovery lost to time.
Like vines over ruins, legends had a way of creeping up from mundane happenings. It was far more fascinating to find the one tiny grain of truth through all the embellishments.
It took Soren far more time than he thought it might to find all the scattered pieces. He no longer knew the exact time, but many more hours had passed since he had first found the hilt. He guessed it at long past midnight, nearing closer to dawn.
He finally assembled the sword, ignoring the plaintive aching of his fingers as he did so, or the red smudges the shined on the metal.
He drew a circle around himself for protection, filling in the edges with runes and symbols, just as the sage had taught him. It had been instructed to him so many times he could replicate exactly what was needed with his eyes closed, in a numb state near sleep.
Soren knew the amount of power it took to mend this sword might very well break the Hammerne itself, and didn't want to take the chance of it backfiring.
Muttering the proper incantation, he held the staff as it heated. White light seared through the sword and himself. The entire circle was encased in the power, something ancient, not from the elements. It surged through him, and his hands shook and the force of the power met his own power.
Even if his body felt drained, his mind was clear. Soren held on tight to the staff. He refused to allow his power to become overwhelmed, to let the mixing of powers, ancient and new turn sour. He focused until the raging light calmed, settling to the sword itself. The outline of it glowed, and Soren had to turn his face away, the light had reached such a brightness.
In the moonlight and dim flame of the lantern, Ike's sword lay perfectly reformed.
The walk home felt so much longer than the journey to the field had been. His whole body was sore and he longed to rest, but he knew there were still miles to go. Darkness brought new dangers, wildcats had been known to hunt beyond the mountains, and bandits were more often to roam by night when it was far easier to take their victims unaware.
Soren felt wary, but not afraid.
He reminded his aching limbs that every step brought him closer to home. To Ike, who would probably be deep in sleep, oblivious to everything around him. Just as usual.
The north guiding star was very bright in the sky, and he focused on it. He knew the trails, yet it was easy to lose one's way in such impenetrable shadow. At least the moon was partly full and the stars out. If he had only relied on his own lantern, Soren would've surely lost his way.
As weariness pressed down on him, palatable in the night, he again focused on Ike. The angles of his face, the shape of Ike's fingers when interlocked with his own, the lean muscles that Soren had glimpsed when Ike took off his tunic, to show him the scar on his lower abdomen.
His mind – and eyes- elsewhere, Soren didn't see the large stone in the middle of the road. It all came so fast, a whorl of stars, spinning sky, the ground so much closer than he thought. The lantern crashed to its side, the flame flickering out. The sword clattered away from him.
The fall knocked the breath out of him, and what little strength he once had seemed so far away now, far beyond his reach. He could hear a ringing in his ears, like being underwater or in the midst of battle. Despite the part of him that wanted rest, that wanted to simply give up and fall asleep in the middle of the road, despite the discomfort, Soren shakily pushed himself up.
He brushed off the dirt and began his search. Using his bruised and bleeding hands he felt over the dirt, through the damp grass at the side of the road, for the shape and feel of the cold metal latticework of the lantern, and the reformed sword, which still held some heat from the Hammerne inside the blade.
He ran it over and over through his mind, a mantra, a chant. Pieces like amulets, the color of Ike's hair, the sound of his voice; the distance between two objects, Ike and himself.
Finally, he felt his hands brush against the cool filigree of the lantern, wet with dew and sprinkled with dirt. A few paces aside, he located the sword again.
Sword in hand, Soren stumbled towards home.
There had perhaps never been a time he had been more glad to see the stones of the fort in sight.
Darkness receding and dawn close on its wings, Soren finally slipped past the trees. He had always scorned such large shows of affection, long lost sailors kissing the ground in sheer happiness, but now he understood as relief came over him in waves . His body felt woozy, faint, as if he might keel over at any moment.
There was a blister on his left foot, too many cuts to count, each step was agony, pain shot right up his spine, but he pressed on. He knew the side door would be locked, but unguarded and only he had the key. Soren doubted his presence had been missed. Most of the troupe would still be sleeping, and he could perhaps spare an hour or two of sleep before he had to rise again.
He was usually already up by this hour.
As he thought, the side entrance was unguarded. It was a tough bolt that would be difficult for the common thief to break, and the wood had been enchanted to only open on his command. He would be alerted immediately should anyone succeed in breaking the spell.
The door shut behind him, far too loud, but he was too tired to do much of anything about it. Soren leaned on the wall. He felt on the verge of collapse, but he still held the sword tight against his chest, supported with both his hands.
There were burns on his palms, he hadn't noticed them before, but now they throbbed, demanding his attention. He made a mental note to wrap them and apply ice as soon as possible.
He did not lift his head immediately when he heard footsteps and the door opening. Only when he heard the voice he recognized and adored did he move at all.
"Ike..." his throat was dry, his was voice barely above a whisper.
He hadn't expected to see Ike, but he had prepared what to say should he meet him. Even as unlikely as Soren thought that would be, he always kept another plan ready.
But he was pushed so far, the prepared speech was a mess of jumbled words in his head.
There were dark circles under Ike's eyes. He rubbed at them, to push away the drowsiness that threatened to rest there. So Ike hadn't slept peacefully in his absence after all.
"What happened? Were you attacked? Oscar said you'd gone for a walk earlier, but you never came back. We searched everywhere in the fort, and later checked the surrounding area, but we couldn't find a trace of you."
"You looked for me? I..." Soren said.
"Of course I did.. Are you hurt?" Ike said.
"Nothing serious," Soren said.
Soren pushed himself up and stepped forward, a shaky step and Ike moved to steady him.
"Lean on me. You're walking pretty rough," Ike said.
"It's just a blister," Soren replied. He gratefully leaned against Ike, and breathed in the raw, masculine scent of him.
For the first time, Ike noticed what Soren was clinging so tightly to.
"Eh? What's that in your hands?"
Soren held out the sword to him, and Ike took it.
"That's... my father's sword."
"How did you get this? It was broken last battle."
"I…have my ways," Soren said quietly.
"You didn't have do this. He may have given it to me but... It's still just a sword."
"I wanted to," Soren said. And he had, so many times there had been things he couldn't fix, times he couldn't comfort. But this time, he had been able to, and that made every blister, every scar, ache or pain completely worth it.
"Thanks, Soren. ...I'm really grateful."
Ike smiled then, more a half smile than a true smile, for they were both far too given to frowning, but Soren felt warmth spread through him all the same.
"You should rest," Ike said.
"I can't go to bed like this. It's...dirty."
"You'd fall asleep in the tub at this state. I'll help you."
"Nnhm," Soren mumbled. Ike's embrace was far too comforting to resist. He allowed himself to be led as Ike helped him limp towards the washroom.
The washroom was compact. It was covered with stones of varying sizes from floor to ceiling, and there was a small vent near the top to let smoke through, but there was little else.
The room was filled with steam. Soren would have heated the water himself, but Ike had insisted he rest. Ike brought in an all too wiling Tormod who was positively gleeful that finally, someone was telling him to burn things.
Soren lay limp and let Ike undo the fastenings of his robe. Ike's hands were surprisingly gentle. Soren had expected them to be clumsier.
The warmth of the water relaxed his sore muscles, but the soap stung against the scrapes and various cuts he had managed to amass along the way. Soren hadn't noticed the bug bites, yet somehow he'd amassed near hundreds of insect bites all over his skin. Red and blotchy, they itched and he resisted the urge to dig at them. The soap suds slid down his back as Ike massaged them in with circular motions.
The water turned grey as it rolled off him. Ike took the washcloth and wrung it out, then moved to again to use it, taking what seemed like an unusual care with what he was doing. Soren focused on the wall. He had counted fifty stones, but after that he'd lost his place with the heat and the weariness and Ike's hands on him.
Soren felt a tingle as Ike massaged the specially concocted rinse into his scalp. The rinse had been a good find while leafing through old alchemist notes. It was made of equal parts water, oil and an odd assortment of herbs, all which were easily gathered. Soren found the results quite acceptable. (On more than one occasion, Ike had remarked that something smelled nice. These times had brought Soren to the brink of smiling.)
Without meaning to, Soren leaned back into Ike. He was already on the edge of sleep. He lost track of what Ike was saying; it was a pleasant blur of sounds, a lullaby to his ears.
Soren barely remembered, as unfocused as he was, but Ike must've helped him dress. The only thing he remembered was the feel of Ike's hands on him and the brush of cloth. The shift was a spare he kept, not for sleeping, but Ike never could tell the difference. There was then the cool, blessedly welcome sensation of cream on the cuts, bruises, and burns, and Ike carefully wrapping bandages around Soren's hands.
After that, Ike lifted him as if Soren weighed nothing, a mere feather in his hands, and carried him to a bed, not Soren's own, and gently laid him down, following and rolling over to lay beside him. Ike pulled him nearer, and Soren nestled into the warmth of Ike's body. The bed felt softer than it ever had before to his achy body. He voiced no concern that this was Ike's bed, not his own cot, his mind incoherent enough to only offer the smallest of objections. He ignored them and sunk deeper into Ike's embrace.
"We can sleep in today." Ike said. "I think we earned it."
And they did.