Heaven In My Arms
By: Manna


xOx…

The Microfic/Drabble Meme
Requested by: Sailorvfan10 (Livejournal), Jayden und Verwelkt (FFN)
Prompt: "Closest thing to Heaven."
Pairing/Characters: Eliwood/Ninian
Fandom: Fire Emblem 7: Rekka no Ken


xOx…

She could hardly walk on her own, anymore.

The realization hit him like a punch to the stomach, or perhaps like he would feel should a horse decide to stomp on his soul. It hurt him to see her like that.

But she was still so beautiful.

"Mama! Mama!"

Eliwood managed to smile at the little bundle of energy and joy that wobbled up to Ninian and stood there before resting his chin on the edge of her knee. The little boy that looked like a tiny replica of the current lord of Pherae blinked at her and waited for a response.

"What is it, Roy?"

Her voice was soft and breezy, like the sound of the wind in the trees, and he tried to ignore the fact that it sounded even weaker than it had the day before. Oh, it did hurt to see her like that… His hand found its way to his chest, almost without conscious thought, and he pressed it against his aching heart.

"Marc's an' I found 'em, Mama! Come and see! Come and see!"

Both Eliwood and Ninian looked up, and Eliwood mouthed Marc's? at the older, faithful knight who stood in the doorway. Marcus shrugged and gave a slight smile of his own, shaking his head in amusement.

"Okay, okay, be patient…" Eliwood stood and leaned down to pull his wife from the rocking chair she sat in while their son clapped his hands in excitement and ran over to Marcus to wait for them, bouncing slightly on the balls of his feet.

"I want to walk," she murmured in his ear as he started to lift her from the chair, and he tucked a few silken strands of her hair behind her ear and nodded in agreement. Her gentle smile of thanks was all he needed to feel that he was doing the right thing.

After a few long minutes, she was standing, and her husband put his arm around her for support. It was a long trip to the stables, where Roy was inevitably leading them, because Ninian could not walk fast, and the journey was full of guess what we found and hurry, hurry.

Finally, the stable doors were opened and their two-and-a-half year old son ran inside, straight for the back corner of the barn. "Lookit, look!" he shouted, his eyes widening as his gaze flew to the tall form of Pherae's most loyal knight. He immediately clapped a hand over his mouth and then pressed a finger against his lips, turning to his parents. "Shh," he warned them. "Quiet."

Ninian's sweet laugh filled his soul with more joy than he'd felt since the rapid decline of her health had begun. He rubbed her arm as they came to a stop to see what it was Roy wanted to show them.

Suddenly, Roy screeched and jumped back. Ninian's eyes flew open and Eliwood took a step forward, but then they both bit their lips and watched the scene play out. A kitten had pounced on Roy's foot from where it had been hidden in the straw, and the animal's tail swished back and forth contentedly as it watched him.

The little boy erupted into giggles and fell into the straw on his back, and suddenly, there were five other kittens there, all crawling on top of him, one settling on his chest as it purred contentedly.

"Mama," he whispered, patting the tiny black and white cat. "It makes funny sounds."

"He does?" she asked, slowly lowering herself to sit on a bale of straw.

Roy nodded. "Uh-huh, c'mere an' I'll show you."

"I can't, honey... Will you bring him here for me?"

Eliwood's heart sunk in his chest at his wife's words. No, she couldn't go to her son to pet a kitten. She couldn't dress herself in the morning, nor at night. She couldn't bathe herself or climb the stairs herself or—

"Here, Mama."

Oh, his heart clenched at the sight of his little son gently setting the kitten on his mother's lap, arms circling around it as he tried to corral it there. Children understand more than adults give them credit for, he thought to himself.

After a few short moments, the kitten flopped onto its back and rolled slightly, curling its paws and closing its eyes. It wasn't long before it started to purr, and Roy jumped slightly at the sound. "Hear it, Mama? Hear it?"

"Ohhh," she smiled, tilting her head to hear better. "What do you suppose he does that for?"

"I dunno."

"He's telling you he likes you," she murmured gently.

"Like Marc's does when he's hun'ry?"

Eliwood and Marcus laughed, and Ninian reached out to ruffle her son's bright-colored hair. "Something like that," she said.

Roy lowered his head to the kitten and let his ear rest gently on the its belly. He jumped again and pulled back, blue eyes wide. "Whoa," he whispered, coming closer to put his hand there. "Feel this," he told Ninian, and grabbed her hand and set it on the kitten's tummy. "He's happy?"

"Very happy."

"Like me?"

"Just like you."

Eliwood's hand tightened on her arm as Roy ran off to play with the other kittens in the straw, and he tilted against her and kissed her cheek while her fingers absently stroked the soft fur of the baby sleeping in her lap. "You're a perfect mother," he told her, his voice a light whisper against her ear.

"I love you," she said to him, leaning against his chest slightly and letting her eyes slide half-closed.

"I love you, too, Ninian." His hand settled around her waist and squeezed her side. "Are you feeling well enough to stay out here?"

"No," she admitted. "But I want to…just for a few more minutes." She watched as Roy pretended to be a kitten, even trying to pounce on Marcus's feet once. "This is…perfect…" she whispered after a time, letting her head fall back against his arm. "It's like…"

"Heaven?" He smiled and nuzzled her neck.

"Yes… Or as close to it as we can get while on Elibe." She turned her head and kissed him, her lips on his as light and airy as a cloudless day. He felt his heart melt a little at the love he could see plainly in her lovely eyes, still lovely even after all she'd been through. Forever lovely…

"I wish it would last forever." He hadn't meant to say it, but even so…the words had spilled from his mouth, and he could not take them back.

But before he could open his mouth again to change his words, to try and make them seem less…truthful, she spoke up, her tone one of understanding. "I know, Eliwood, I know… I do, too." She smiled at him, and it reminded him of the shy smile she'd had on her face on their wedding night. "You'll do fine, even without me."

"Please don't talk like that…" He sounded as if he was pleading, and in all honesty, he was. She'd been getting worse since Roy's birth, but he had never imagined that letting go would be so hard. That just simply accepting the fact that she would die soon would be an impossibility for him. I love you too much to ever let you go… Oh, Ninian…

"You will." Her smile was reassuring and full of love and hope. It both made him feel sick and put him at ease at the same time. "And when it's all over, you will have me waiting for you."

"I'll wait for that day," he murmured, if only to humor her because the thought of her not being beside him when he awoke… It was enough to hurt. How would he feel when he reached out for her in the middle of the night and he found nothing?

Empty.

"Eternity won't seem long at all when you arrive," she teased him, eyes finally closing.

His heart clenched painfully again at the obvious evidence of her inevitable end. "Do you want to go inside?"

"In a minute… I… Let us stay here for …just a little while longer, please."

"Of course." And he held her tight as she drifted off to sleep to the lullaby of their son's giggles and the light meows of the kittens that he seemed to love so much. After a few minutes had passed, he inclined his head towards Marcus, and the other man came to stand beside him, back rigid as he awaited orders. "Those kittens," he told his old friend. "I…would like them to be brought inside the castle… I know it sounds strange, but…"

"M'lord, it is not my place to question you. They make him smile, and in turn, her. I'll see that it gets done."

"Thank you," he answered, his words betraying his worry and relief all at the same time. He felt relief that such simple things in life could make her happier than any woman in the world, but he worried that she would not be around much longer for him to make happy. He started to stand, scooping her up into his arms so that he could take her to bed for the night.

Marcus smiled slightly. "Come, Master Roy!" he said, his voice rough but his tone gentle. "You'll be returning tomorrow, but for now, you must rest."

"I don't wanna!" Roy's tears didn't affect the hardened knight, and Eliwood laughed a little, reminded slightly of his own childhood and how his own tears had never affected anyone but his mother.

"Roy… Go to sleep. If you do, in the morning, you can pick one of these kittens to keep for yourself."

Eliwood's words seemed to have the desired effect, and little Roy ran out the stable doors with Marcus following behind, insisting—without much obedience on Roy's part—that the youngster slow down.

It was then that Eliwood realized the tiny black and white kitten was still lying on Ninian's lap, and had rolled down and fallen asleep on her chest when he had picked her up. He smiled, gently, and decided to take them both inside. It certainly couldn't hurt…and he remembered when, as a child, he'd been bold enough to sneak a kitten into his room, and how it had pounced on his toes as he slept.

He chuckled at the memory and leaned down to kiss Ninian's forehead. Yes…he supposed he'd be waiting to be with her again in the future, but for now… For now, he had her, and that was as close to heaven as he'd be until he saw her again.


xOx…

Author Notes:

I had to squeeze both angst and romance and Roy in there. (I couldn't help it, really.) Ah, I hope it's okay… If not, I apologize. Reviews are appreciated, constructive criticism is accepted, and I hope you were at least amused by reading this.

Thanks for reading!