Title: Even If You Cannot Hear My Voice
Character/Pairing: Eliwood/Ninian, Nils
Notes: I wrote The title comes from "Run" by Snow Patrol. Spoilers everywhere (do I even have to mark for Rekka spoilers?)
They've been running for so long that they can barely remember what a peaceful life feels like. They've traveled with gypsies and dancers, with people colorful enough that they almost blend in. Some are kind, but most are not. They are a marked, and do not seek more kindness than is strictly necessary. At night she crushes medicinal plants and picks the burrs from her brother's hair. She plucks out the gravel that got imbedded in his foot and rubs it clean with river water. When blood stains her gown, one which they will not have enough to replace, she scrubs at it without a word and then quietly rips off a pieces from the bottom to mask the stains. She has hemmed up her dress three times now.
Nils never even cries out, even when plucking out thorns, or cleaning up scrapes.
They sit around a low fire during the night. Any higher and they might be caught. Any lower and their cold, cold blood will slow. His piccolo rests against his thigh, for there is nothing but low lullabies at night where the Black Fang or any other captor could be lurking. Any shadow is suspect
"Do you ever stop believing?" Nils asks..
"No. For now, hope is all we have left," she replies.
She doesn't strictly remember the first time she meets Lord Eliwood. She hears is secondhand, and begins to wonder about this person who saved her and carried her away. She never indulges in those sort of fancies, but with only the tedium of the road and the constant fear of getting caught, daydreams of the man who saved her are a welcome change. She tries to form him in her mind.
"You saw him, Nils. The man who rescued me. What did he look like?" She whispers across the cool grass. They lost their only blanket while crossing a river. His back is to hers, each sleeps light so as to hear the tread of a footstep or a crack of a twig in the dark.
Nils pauses. Crickets chirp. She wonders if he has not heard her.
"He had red hair," Nils says. "He looks kind."
She does not press for more. Instead, she tries to form a likeness in her mind. A kind person with red hair. What is his smile like? Are his hands coarse, or soft? He is a Lord, so his hands must be soft, she thinks. Long fingers, dexterous and gentle.
She thinks deep inside, and asks her body for memories of what he must have been like.
Her body does not reply in concrete images, but in senses. In feelings, not words. She remembers warmth, and being lifted. She wonders safety and comfort were found in that embrace. She must have. It is the first time she can remember such kindness. She holds herself and remembers what person this must have been.
When she finally meets him, she finds that Eliwood looks much like the image she has made of him. He is kind, and he is gentle. His hair is as bright as flames. She wants to touch his hair, to touch him. She stays back at first, but there are explanations and findings. Most of all, he seeks her out, and looks at her in a way that she has never thought possible.
He grips her arm as she sways from the weight of this world, one not made for dragons. The feel of him is slim, yet solid. She does not fall in his grip.
"I'm sorry..." She lowers her gaze.
"There is nothing to apologize for, Ninian."
"But we've caused you nothing but trouble," she responds.
He holds to her arms still, a tight grip. "You didn't draw my father away. You didn't start this war or sow the seeds of insurrection."
"Lord Eliwood...you're very kind."
He smiles wryly. "Too kind, according to Hector. I consider it one of my better aspects, but he disagrees. Why don't I walk with you? In case you faint."
"I cannot refuse, Lord Eliwood."
"Of course you could. I wouldn't hold it against you if you did," he says.
"I do not want to refuse," she replies.
"Now that's a better answer. It's no trouble at all. I promise."
Did she know that it is her father that would be their undoing? A part deep within, perhaps.
Death is a cold place, and yet she is very aware. She watches, sad and still from outside herself. There is the thick regret that ways her down of having attacked Lord Eliwood. Even if she knows he would forgive her, that she was not sane and in control of herself at the time.
At night, she places her hand over, and then through Eliwood's own. She has made her choice.
When life returns to her, she already knows the path that she must take. When Negal, and the Fire Dragons are returned, Nils makes plans of returning through the dragon gate.
"I cannot abandon Lord Eliwood..." Ninian says finally.
"You do know what this means, sister," Nils says. He looks grave, worried. A part of him is cracking, she knows. As his energy flows, his heart beats, so does hers.
"I know that without you here, I will not survive long....but I would rather live a short life with him than a long one without him. I hope you understand."
"Be happy," Nils says. His voice cracks. He tries to keep a calm face, but deep inside he is her brother. She brushes her fingers over his forehead.
"Go ahead, cry," she says.
Nils buries his face against her and sobs the kind of body-racking, deep sobs that she has never heard from him. Even when their mother died, even when they were lost to each other. He's always kept it all inside.
"I'm never going to be truly away from you, Nils. Remember that."
He looks up at her, tear stained, bleary and blotchy. "It's hard to remember when you're not here."
"But it's true."
And she sings the song of her mother, in an ancient, half-remembered tongue. A song that never fails to calm both him and her. The words are lost to them, but the meaning is not. It is a song of remembrance, of love. It was the last thing their mother taught him before her death, and a song they sometimes catch in storm, or through the night winds.
She never forgets the look on his face as the gate closes around him.
For a while, she is happy. It isn't her happiness that ceases, but time that steals her away. She wears his mother's white, lacy dress to the marriage. It has lace all the way up her collar, up her neck. The sleeves are tight, in a style very unlike her. But the look in her husband's eyes is enough. There's something so tender, so open and joyous, even fulfilled that she does not regret her choice a moment.
It isn't long before she knows that she will give Lord Eliwood a son. Even as she knows this will sap her life, perhaps even halve the time she will be able to stay with him, she is glad for the company and part of her that will stay to watch over him.
The second time she dies, it is only with small regrets. She's sad that she could not stay longer, that Roy will never remember her. But she is always with them. She can slip into the world of dragons and listen to a song, or whisper a lullaby to the air of a crib. Roy is such a good baby. He almost never cries. A dragonsong lulls him to sleep, to dream of a future that will be his.
And in her amorphous, lasting form in the world of death, she finally is with the ones she love. They'll never be parted, truly, never lost.
Even if they cannot hear her voice, she is still singing.