Hey, Fire Emblem fandom. How do you do? Think there's space for another writer? No? Sucks for you, FE dearest; since my last search for a fic with these two characters resulted in a whopping zero, it appears that my work here is far from done. But fear not, I'll do my best to seduce you. And if that should fail, I'm barging right in.

Good evening, FE fandom, I do hope our meeting is pleasant!

Beware of pseudo though-producing content, unclear relationships, and Tormod. Explodey kid, that one.

Sand Into Soil

One-Shot Unique Chapter

Man and beast, both ever so busy digging their own graves, often ignore one another and decide to assume, to blind themselves with the sight of their kin's misery and to do nothing at all.

Muarim, however, remains foreign to such cases, or so he has learned to be. A sub-human is nothing more than that spitefully-given term until he learns to see the equally spitefully-named humans as no less than beorc and fellow tellians. And this, he believes, is no easy achievement; he never did rise above the level of those who captured his companions and treated them as slaves until he was met with the mind-blogging sight of a beorc child in the desert, alone and, most importantly, alive.

It all came crashing unto him in a second. For once and forevermore, he understood.

Watching the same scene unfold before him again, he forgets the very terms that have kept beorc and laguz apart for so long and welcomes the lone child for the last time, not because he is not to return again, but because he will never face the desert without Muarim's company.

Tormod is a stubborn one, peculiar for the inherent fragility of his kind, and Muarim expects another discussion before the day is over. Such obstinate nature shows in every aspect of the approaching figure: his blackened gloves and burnt fingertips, surely a result of his distaste to forfeiting a fight, his sweat-drenched clothes and the way in which he, already out of breath, rushes his steps toward the beast and tucks every warm welcome in a light wave of his hand.

"Hey. How'd you hold down the fort without me?"

Muarim can't help but laugh at Tormod's ways, aware that the young mage's jovial tone is just a disguise for his fatigue. "Just fine," Muarim replies. "Make sure to collapse in the shade, you'll smell terrible if you start frying out here."

"'m not gonna."

Another deep-voiced laugh escapes the elder as he follows the beorc into his temporary tent, transforming back into his natural form as he does so: a tiger of rich green fur and golden eyes. He walks by the Tormod's side as he retires to the back of the tent, where the shade is cooler and his makeshift bade lies in disorder, tail waving behind him complacently.

"That's better," Tormod comments, sitting on the thin layers of fabric he has called a bed until their mission is over. Muarim looks at him, head tilted and fangs irremediably visible; it is not a menacing look, but merely an inquisitive one. "You don't have to look like a beorc for me, you know. Even I hate them sometimes, too, so-- hey, watch it, don't tear my bed."

Muarim responds with a growl that reaches his companion's ears as nothing more than a low hum, some sort of apology as he invites himself in and lies behind Tormod. The mage, as if by habit, leans back and allows himself to rest against the tiger.

"All set," the younger male says, yawning. "We can go on with the plan tomorrow morning, if you want."

Muarim growls his approval and silently rests his head on his crossed paws, eyes still open.

"You're not mad 'cause I went by myself, are you?"

Silence. Tormod curls up against the beast he has as foster father, brother, friend; whichever Muarim is, or all of those. The child smiles mischievously and grabs a single one of the tiger's whiskers between his fingers, pulling on it softly. Muarim growls dangerously as he entertains himself by pulling on more whiskers and admiring the long, exposed fangs, tapping them with his fingertips as he asks again, "C'mon, are you mad?"

Muarim turns his head away, quickly licking the fang clean, and growls once again.

"I know I taste funny, I got a little burnt while I was training," Tormod retorts. "But I can do a bigger fire spell now, so it's fine. I'll show you tomorrow; I promise you'll be surprised."

The laguz raises his head and looks at the mage with piercing golden eyes, giving another dangerous growl as the beorc fearlessly holds his gaze, perhaps too acquainted with the subtle differences in a tiger's speech.

"Fine," he finally says. "I won't go into the desert alone ever again."

With that, he yawns again and returns to the previous task of finding a comfortable position to rest in, only to be stopped by a loud growl and a hit of the tiger's tail on his shoulder.

"Okay, I promise!" He exclaims, crossing his arms in a long-forgotten childish manner. "You're really pushy sometimes, you know?"

He only receives some sort of content purr in return.

"That's what I thought."

Muarim bows his head and closes his eyes, deciding that he must let the child rest now and converse later, perhaps after their current mission is over. Temporarily absorbed in the calm atmosphere of the afternoon, he simply waits for the boy to fall asleep before he can leave the tent and inform the others about the situation; restless as he is, however, Tormod soon begins to toss and turn against Muarim, a clear sign that he no longer wants to sleep. It is this kind of behavior that makes the beast wonder whether all beorc are like this, but he soon decides that the charm lies within the oddity of such acts and the unpredictability that always seems to surround the fire mage.

"Y'know…" Tormod begins, turning once again to face his equally awake partner. "Someday, when all laguz are really emancipated, then maybe…" He pauses, momentarily searching for words before he shakes his head and starts over. "Well, even if everyone is free, there's no telling whether beorc will accept them, right?"

Muarim observes the child's expression, studies it carefully; there seems to be no underlying melancholy or bitterness to the sudden words. He remains silent, at a loss for speech himself.

"I think we should build a village or something, a place where no one can bother any laguz," Tormod speaks with a calm tone, words laced by quiet vehemence. "It'd have to be somewhere else, though, away from the desert. Soil, you know."

The tiger seems to doubt, quietly urging the mage to continue.

"I had this dream last night," he sighs, eyes downcast in an expression of… beorc embarrassment, perhaps? "About a white bird that sang like a beorc, but not in their tongue, and then the desert… suddenly turned into soil," he pauses to chuckle in a half-hearted manner. "Crazy, I know. It just gave me the idea."

"It's a good idea, Tormod. I'd like that."

The words cut off his own comments before he can even question the shift of Muarim's form behind him; and before he can explain again that he prefers Muarim's tiger form to his beorc-like one, the man has already undergone the transformation.

He places a very much beorc-like hand upon the boy's head and gives him an honest smile, a motion and a form altogether that he reserves only for the boy; it is far too natural, however, seeming as if it is the form he's always had. Still, the difference is far too big and unwelcome to compare to the subtlety of a beast's expression.

"Muarim, you don't have to--"

"This is what beorc do when they are proud of each other, is it not?"

Tormod stops himself, falling silent. Quick of choice as he usually is, he decides to make a minimal exception and play along for the sake of his return and the calm of the welcome. He only grins at his companion, welcoming the gesture. "Yeah, it's what they do."