A Place to Rest
Game: Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Characters: Ephraim, Myrrh
Pairing: Intentionally open-ended. You can interpret it as platonic, sibling-like, or romantic depending on whatever seems right to you.
Summary: Myrrh has grown weary from keeping up with the sporadic ordeals of humans. Dragons need to rest, but their sleep is long and lonely.
Notes: This is my first Fire Emblem fic. Not my favorite FE game/characters either, I just happened to get random fic inspiration when I beat it. I hope there's no typo/mispelling/etc. but let me know if there is.
The Darkling Woods had grown somewhat more pleasant to walk about in now that the Demon King was destroyed. Still, the memory of what once slept in this place guarded so carefully by the dragons hung in the air like a miasma. Only the creepy crawly things dared to live here, and even the trees had a sickly color so unlike the lush greenery of Ephraim's homeland. To say that it was less unpleasant as of late was to say that the reek of death was just a bit more tolerable. Certainly a sign of improvement, but still Ephraim could not stand to be here and he could not imagine Myrrh enjoying her surroundings even taking into account the significant cultural differences between humans and dragons. It was simply not inhabitable.
He found Myrrh in a clearing where the sunlight fought through the murk and brush to illuminate and warm a small section of the forest. She sat under the sun with her knees folded underneath herself. She looked up when he approached but did not move from this spot. He wondered if the clearing was her special place at the heart of the woods where she once slept in the caress of her father's mystical presence, and if she simply sat here for days and weeks on end doing nothing except aging very slowly.
"Ephraim," she greeted him with a severe lack of enthusiasm. Her head barely rose. "I didn't expect I would see you so soon."
"I snuck away from home for a bit," he chuckled. "My apologies that Eirika could not come with me, you see... I sort of left her with all of the work.
"You are the king now," she scolded him in a soft voice, letting her eyes drift sleepily away. "You should be in Renais."
"I promised that I would come to visit you," he said, steeping into the clearing now. Without waiting for an invitation, he sat down in front of her. "I expected you to be happier to see me," he sighed with playful sarcasm.
"It's not that," she replied. "It means very much to me that you came. I always hold our meetings in my heart very dearly."
Ephraim found himself embarrassed by that statement and shifted uncomfortably where he sat. "I do too," he said. "That's why I want to know something. I know that you don't believe that you can live among humans, but what if you came to visit us for a little while? It's been a few months and you're still here, cooped up in the dreadful forest. We don't have to fight anymore, so I think getting out a bit might be fun for you."
"I have decided to stay here," she answered. "I'm very sorry."
"Why must you stay?" he asked. He hated to press it with her so much when it clearly made her uncomfortable, but he simply could not live with the idea of her living out a lonely life here without even trying to live in the outside world. "The Demon King no longer sleeps in these woods. You are the last of the Dragonkin and there is no one to take care of you here. Not to protect you I mean, but to always be with you. I can't bear to see you here completely alone in these dreary woods."
"The Dragon King no longer taints these lands," she explained. She began to pat the ground with her hands. "Look... the grass in this clearing has gotten soft. These woods will flourish with life very soon. The people of Caer Pelyn will keep me company until that happens."
"Still, I feel I must object," he continued. "You came to me wishing to be one of my family, my sister just as Eirika is. I accepted that duty, and so I have to look out for you. It isn't right for family to separated this way. You deserve to be with us and to see the world as we rebuild it."
"Ephraim..." Ephraim knew from the way that she paused to consider her words that there was something within her which he failed to grasp. "I am tired."
"Yes," she said. "Humans are... amazing. Even in those times of hardship and darkness, there were so many moments where I felt... happy. In those happy times, even despite the darkness that I could constantly feel creeping into this world, it was possible for even me to smile."
"We humans don't live as long as you," Ephraim laughed softly. "We have to make the most of the time we have, even if situations are dark." He lowered his eyes for a moment. When they rose again, he was no longer smiling. "Those happy times are here now," he said. "You helped us so much to fight. You deserve to enjoy this happiness with us just as much--more even, than anyone else."
"I am sorry," Myrrh replied. She clasped her hands concealing frustration with his lack of understanding and likely shame. "All of these human emotions all going so fast... it exhausts me. Happiness, sorrow, hope, despair, and even envy... I can't make sense of it all so quickly, all rushing to me at once."
"You are envious?" he asked her carefully. "Of who? Eirika?"
"Yes." When she answered she gave a shameful frown that reminded him of a pout Eirika might have made. "Both of you. What you have together. I realize now that it's why I felt so... strange."
"That's just it, Myrrh," he said as he reached out to take her hands. He held both in his. They were so small like a child's, yet he knew she was an elderly being beyond human knowledge. "I want you to learn to understand sharing happiness with others, to have a family of many members who all love each other rather than doting only on one--to learn all the different kinds of love and how to express all of them. I guess that I really want to see you mature and find happiness."
Myrrh sighed. "Just as humans cannot live long, I cannot grow up as quickly and easily as a human. I discovered that when I tried to be a normal human girl with you. I insisted that I was not a child because I am so elderly compared to you humans, but I keep feeling like I am just a little girl. I am not ready to be a human. Not yet."
"But someday you may be?" Ephraim asked, holding out for the hope that at least she would not make her mind up stubbornly that it could not be undone.
"My father lived among humans for a time," she said. "He told me many stories about them from long ago. Maybe... someday when I am grown in the eyes of a dragon, I will be able to go to your lands and live with your people."
Ephraim let her hands slip away and sunk back. He suddenly understood that he was not completely altruistic in his wishes (Innes would laugh), but that it was for his own need for companionship that he wished to be near her. "That may not be in my lifetime."
"I don't know if it will," she said. "But... I will see you again."
Ephraim glanced up and it became difficult all at once not to shout in outburst or break down and cry. Only Eirika had seen him act this way, not often and not in a very long time.
"I am going to go to sleep now," she told him. "It will be a short while for me... only enough for me to feel rested and to wake up more... more prepared to change. For you it will be a long time... and that is why I feel so sad. You look so sad to see me leave, and yet part of me is not sad at all... part of me is happy that you feel so strongly for me that you shed tears for me. It's a dark feeling, taking joy from sadness. It is not that I wish to run away from it, but I..."
She stopped, unsure of her words. "You need to sleep on it," he answered. "I understand. After so much work and such a big change in your world, it's only natural that you need to rest... and rest for a dragon must be a long ordeal. Do not worry about me."
Myrrh looked down at her hands with her eyebrows furrowed in an expression of deliberation. Then she returned her eyes to his, their other-worldly shine pushing into his spirit though they were so guarded and vulnerable. "I want you to have this," she said, and held the softly glowing crystal she treasured so much in her hands between them.
Ephraim touched the dragonstone and discovered that it was warm as if it had been lying in the sun. He took it in his hands. "But this is very special to you," he said in a breathy voice as he gazed in awe at the faint glow of the stone. It was even more beautiful than the sacred stone.
"I want you to keep it for me," she said. "Its power is almost diminished now, but it will grow stronger as the days pass just as this forest will flourish and your own lands will be born anew. On the day that its power has completely returned, come here again. I will be here."
"I will be here on that day," he said gravely, taking a vow. "I promise that the first face you see when you awaken will be mine."
Myrrh smiled. It was a rare but wonderful occurrence. "I will be so happy to see what kind of man you have become and what kind of life you have led, what sort of king you've been. I wonder if you will be married or even have children." When she said this she smiled, but her eyes were completely unconvincing. Ephraim could not decide if you was proud or just sad that she had learned so much as to mimic emotions. "And maybe then," she went on in a whisper, "If I can see how you've changed... I will be able to leave this forest with you."
Ephraim found himself forcing a smile just as pathetically. "I will always think of you, remember you, and honor our promise."
"Ephraim," she said, a shy little girl speaking once again. "There's one more thing that I'd like you to do... if you don't mind..."
"What is it?"
She inched towards him on her knees until she was very close. "I know that you told me to ask Eirika," she said, "but I would like it very much if you would stay with me until I have fallen asleep."
Ephraim took a deep breath and smiled again, this time with sincerity. "I would be honored," he said. "Here. Rest your head on my knee."
Myrrh did so, and he stroked his hand across her hair. She laid there for a moment, no doubt wondering if it was wrong to have such a selfish desire. He decided not to tell her that Eirika used to rest with him much the same way. He would rather she never again desire to be Eirika, and neither would he think of her as a young Eirika--one who had grown up years ago, or a substitute Eirika--one who would never get married or grow out of her need for him. She was Myrrh and only Myrrh.
"Thank you, brother," she said in a yawn. She was exhausted indeed, he could see that clearly now. "Please tell Eirika and everyone else that..." She stopped to gather the words. "That I love them, and I will see them again."
"I promise," he answered. "Now get some rest. Have wonderful dreams about the world as it will be when you wake up. A better place."
Myrrh said nothing more. He could feel her warmth and her breathing as she slept just as any normal girl might sleep. He tried very hard not to stir and wake her, but when he inevitably did, she would not awaken. The expression "dead to the world" came to mind. She was very much vibrantly alive, and yet dead to his world.
He placed her head gently on a tuff of the soft grass and draped his cape over her shoulders. It completely covered her small body shoulder to foot like a blanket, even her wings. There she slept peacefully and oblivious to the changes going on across the continent as nations were rebuilt. Even the marvelous changes that came to the Darkling Woods little by little went unnoticed by the sleeping dragon.
As time passed, death and despair were no longer residents of Myrrh's homeland. Lush green plants took root and wildlife prospered. Birds sang in the bows of the branches, once snaggy and leafless. The people of Caer Pelyn often entered on their own accord rather than desperate errand without fear of the darkness to pay homage to the Great Dragon.
And every year the king of Renais would personally deliver a different species of the most beautiful flowers in all of Magvel to the Darkling Woods to take root in the soil there.