Author Notes: So, I saw the film yesterday, and fell in love quite rapidly. I decided to write a fic that would concentrate what I feel are all the key relationships, because most of the movie fics on here are mainly focussed on Tamina/Dastan alone, and I love the brother and father/son relationships too much not to write about them! Tamina will feature a lot too though, never fear! I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it!
This fic is dedicated to all those archaeologists who are still sitting their finals, while everyone else is outside enjoying freedom and the sun! And yes, watching the Prince of Persia can so be counted as revision for those who wonder :P
The water trickled languidly, the gentle sound drifting past the silk hangings that partially obscured the balcony. The sky was stained in a wash of orange and purple, tiny scattered points of light already blinking into being against the cooling night air.
"You know, if you don't go to him, I will." Tus blinked and turned away from the window to see his younger brother Garsiv standing resolutely at the entrance to his chambers. The dark haired man stepped further into the room, his face uncharacteristically grim for a night supposed to be filled with celebration, "I have only held off this long because I believe he is more likely to tell you the truth."
Tus didn't need to ask Garsiv to clarify who or what he was talking about. The middle prince must have followed him as he escaped the dinner celebrations, needing to be alone with his thoughts. Dastan had been distracted by a certain princess, and Tus had taken the opportunity to leave unnoticed. So much had happened in a day – the taking of the city, the realisation of their Uncle's betrayal... and then, there was something else. A flicker, blink and it was gone, but you knew you saw it. Dastan's eyes lingered too long, he stuck too close. To both his brothers, to Bis, but even to the strange beauty he had only met and been betrothed to that very day.
It was something that Tus could not quite define. Or perhaps, rather, he could not define it in relation to his youngest brother. He sighed, "I had half a mind to wait for Father." Their father, King Sharaman of the Persian Empire, would be riding in with the dawn, no doubt to demand answers of the treasonous discovery from his sons.
Garsiv walked to stand by his brother's side, "I understand why you might think that wise, but I do not ask you to talk to him out of curiosity. Father will be distracted over Nizam, and Dastan will slip into the shadows, as is his tendency. Our brother may not be as battle-hardened as us, but I know his stamina, I know his habits. He does not behave as one who helped take a city in a night."
"I know." Tus sighed again, and looked up to meet his brother's gaze. If Garsiv was coming to him like this, then he knew he would have to seek out the youngest Persian prince. A small part of him had been more eager to dismiss it all, but Garsiv had always been the most bluntly practical of the three brothers; if he had noticed something worth worrying about Dastan's strange behaviour...
"Come, brother. Let us return to the celebration, and you can capture our wayward brother for yourself." Garsiv offered a weak smirk of support, but it did not hold as it might have. Tus knew that, as the eldest, he would need to be the one to fix whatever was wrong.
The pair walked in companionable silence through the decadent halls, laughter and music skittering its way through the air as they drew closer. An explosion of colour befitting such a celebration met them, and it took them a moment to try and seek out faces they knew. It was not hard to pick out the shining white figure of Princess Tamina, accompanied by... Bis? An odd sensation settled at the base of the eldest brother's spine as he exchanged an uncertain glance with Garsiv. Where was Dastan? The man had as much as joined himself to Tamina for the duration of the celebrations, and now he was gone?
Tus strode over, "Bis, where is Dastan?"
It was Tamina who replied, her cool eyes settling on the elder princes with reserved distain, "My husband-to-be ran off not five minutes ago. One moment he was as normal as a Persian might be, the next he runs out of here as if a daeva were on his heels. I can't say the company has suffered."
Bis raised an eyebrow in askance to Tamina. Apparently she wasn't anywhere near to forgiving Tus for his attack on the city, although she seemed to be more accepting of Dastan. He wasn't even sure his friend noticed – he had been too preoccupied on making sure his knife was still concealed, although why he had insisted on carrying a blade to a peaceful celebration had been beyond Bis. Soldiers were still present at the entrances after all. The behaviour was paranoid – even for Dastan. Ever since they had taken the city...
"Where could he have gone?" Garsiv wasn't quite as quick to hide an inflection of worry in his tone as Tus had been.
Tamina quirked her eyebrow a fraction. So, Prince Dastan's behaviour was abnormal... Her mind wandered back to the 'gift' he had given her earlier that day, and the strange lilt to the conversation that had followed between them. Maybe there was more to be found in him than she had presumed. When he had given her the dagger with that look in his eyes, she had been confused but relieved, taking the tentative conclusion that he must have just recognised that he had stolen it from a Priest of Alamut. She had checked the level of sand in the dagger, and it had been no different. He could not have used it. And yet, his words to her, and now his brothers' poorly hidden concern...There was more here, concealed under a brush of sand...
Tus turned to Garsiv, "You might as well remain here and enjoy the rest of the feast. I will go and find him." He bowed to Tamina, "Princess."
Considering the size of the palace, it took surprisingly little time to find the wayward prince. Taking a chance, Tus had headed back towards the rooms they had been given, taking the less ornate ways as they were pointed out by a servant. As he entered his rooms for the second time that evening, he immediately felt the press of cold edge to his throat, just a hair's distance away from drawing blood. Surprising Dastan was never usually good for one's health, but then, that was normally in situations out in the desert, not in the relative safety they were in now. It was over in an instant as Dastan's mind overtook instinct, and he dropped the blade as if it had been resting in hot coals. It clattered to the floor, slicing through the gentle sounds of the evening as it thankfully had not Tus' throat.
Tus frowned, the horrified look in Dastan's eyes was unsettling as it continued to rest on the place where he had held the blade to his skin. Somehow, Tus managed a smile, bending to pick up the blade, "And there was me thinking that Garsiv was the clumsy one with the sword." He neatly flipped it, holding it back for Dastan to take, hilt first. When his brother didn't move, he continued, "We must have missed each other by moments – Garsiv and I just came from here. I wished from some quiet."
"Garsiv's alright?" Dastan blurted out, a wince on his face indicating that he immediately regretted the slip.
Tus sighed, withdrawing the sword and tossing it onto a pile of cushions as it became clear Dastan would make no move to take it back. "Of course he is alright. Why would you think he was not? What is going on Dastan?"
There was a flare of panic behind his brother's eyes, Tus was sure of it. What was he hiding? Had there been more behind Nizam's revelation that they had been led to believe? "I was just looking-"
"No." Tus cut across him, resting his hand on his brother's shoulder, trying to hide his dismay as Dastan flinched slightly, "I do not need to hear stories, little brother, I need to hear the truth. You are exhausted, far beyond what by rights you should be. You look at me and Garsiv as if we might fall to pieces in an instant, and you act around that cantankerous woman as if you cannot believe she is there, with a pain I know is not from having to endure her sharp tongue." There was a tiny flicker of a smile at that, but it was replaced rapidly by grim dismay.
"Why? Even when you were just a stray waif brought in from the market, you have never felt the need to lie to me before. The Dastan I know holds himself proudly, but you, you hold yourself as if you've lost the world."
"Maybe I did." Dastan muttered, mostly to himself as he tried to turn away, but Tus heard.
Raising his other hand, Tus took his palm to his brother's cheek, forcing him to look him in the eye, "I know Nizam's betrayal hurts, Dastan, but you were right before. As long as you, Garsiv and I remain true to ourselves and Father, everything shall be alright. We can keep each other safe."
Dastan snorted bitterly, "So the part where I nearly cause you to have your throat slit again is me keeping my brother safe?"
"You didn't even draw blood, and your nerves are clearly frayed. You can't..." Tus trailed off, Dastan's words fully registering, "What do you mean again?"
The panic and confusion had returned to Dastan's exhausted countenance, his thoughts struggling to get himself out of this impossible situation. In the end, he didn't need to; the situation got a whole lot more complicated before he could even try.
"I knew it! I knew it!" Dastan and Tus winced in tandem as Tamina's sharp tone accompanied her anger-fuelled entrance. Garsiv stood behind her, torn between annoyance over her stubbornness, and concern over Dastan's last words about his actions towards their brother.
"I-" Foolishly, Dastan attempted to cut her off before she could get started.
"You have used the dagger! When was it, in battle, did you save your brother's sorry neck?" She sneered, "You Persians are all the same. Self-serving street rats, blundering in where you do not belong, tearing up homes and gods-"
"Well, I'm sorry Princess, to have been such an accurate reflection of your assumptions!" Dastan snarled back, exhaustion spurring him into a confrontation with her, one that was all too familiar to him, but completely new to her.
Tamina took one moment to recover from such an open display of emotion from a man of royal blood, before returning immediately, "Only the coward fixes his mistakes with lies only he knows the truth of."
Even though he was an arrogant Persian prince in her eyes, she immediately regretted her words, which she could plainly see had cut through him like a spear to the heart. And then he replied, in a voice flat and dead as the desert itself, "I know."
Both brothers gaped at the admission, but Garsiv recovered quicker, "You? A coward? Dastan, what is wrong with you? You would let this woman cow into submission? She is not even yet your wife!"
But Dastan was past hearing. Blood pounded behind his eyes as his skin crawled with the weight of guilt he had somehow been pushing aside. All those days, all those nights...Father, Bis, and then his brothers, each falling after they began to believe in him... finally Tamina, before he... His head swam and he blinked rapidly, his wild gaze finding his brothers, but not really speaking to anyone but himself, an edge of exhaustion-driven hysteria to his tone,"Why shouldn't she name me a coward? I ran, I ran when Nizam killed Father and framed me. I didn't save Garsiv when the Hassansins attacked and they... and I couldn't even fix things when Nazim slit Tus' throat, because I'd used the last of the sand to make him believe me. And... and I let Tamina go..." He choked on his breathe, "I let her fall, I tried to hold on..."
Tus looked to Garsiv in horror, "He's raving." He tried reaching forwards to check for fever, but changed his position in an instant as Dastan's legs gave way, his body finally taking the decision that enough was enough. "Help me!" But Garsiv was already at his side.
"Dastan! Dastan, can you hear me?" Garsiv shifted his hold, and took his brother's face in his other hand, "He's unconscious. What is wrong with him? I can't feel a fever, and I know he is not drunk; hasn't touched a drop all night."
"His body probably decided that he really needed the rest." Both brothers looked up, momentarily surprised by the subdued tone of the otherwise outspoken princess. "It sounds as if he has had a trying time of late. No doubt he did not manage to get any sleep of a restful sort. You should put him to a bed – he will likely sleep for many hours."
An inexplicable anger welled up in Garsiv, and, after making sure Tus had a firm hold on Dastan's still form, he rose, striding over to her, "What do you know? What have you done to him?"
Despite the anger she was faced with, Tamina remained calm, "Settle him somewhere comfortable and I will do my best to explain what I can. Yelling will get you nowhere."
Tus nodded, and Garsiv somehow swallowed his fear-driven anger. Tamina waited patiently outside as the brothers carried Dastan to Tus' bed, removing his boots and over-clothing before covering him against the chill of the desert night. While they did so, Tamina debated internally. How much to tell? After much thought, and from some extra construing from Dastan's words, she was now almost certain that the now dead treacherous Persian man had forced an invasion of Alamut for the dagger. But how much could she trust to these princes? Clearly more time than a few minutes had been rewritten...could she infer from the rather possessive and familial nature of the youngest prince that she had once trusted him, even if she would never live that timeline? And then the others...
It became rather rapidly clear that the brothers were not going to leave Dastan, and so she re-entered the room, sitting gracefully down with them in a corner of the large bedroom.
And she told them, letting the words flow as if the gods were directing her what to say and what to withhold. She neglected specifying the dagger, preferring a more ambiguous reference to the magic of the gods, and skimmed over the secret that lay beneath the city, but by the end, she was almost certain that she had convinced them that Dastan had indeed lived through something that now could never happen. It helped that throughout his strange behaviour during the day, he had let slip many things that he could not have known. The eldest prince mentioned something about repeated private words used to persuade him to doubt their uncle.
It was far into the dead of night by the time she stopped talking, now certain she had persuaded the rather more placid of the two, while Garsiv still seemed jittery with distrust, willing to concede only because Tus seemed convinced. She hoped she had not been wrong, but something had told her that if she had not at least extended the small opening created by Dastan's words, the memories he alone held would surely kill him, lest his family had some idea of how to help him. And oddly enough, despite him being a Persian, she found herself not hating him. If she must be tied to anyone in marriage, at least let it be someone who knew of the secrets she kept and would hopefully be able to keep Alamut safe. Perhaps even she might one day understand why he sounded so broken when he had spoken her name.
Dastan stirred, his joints uncomfortable and his mouth feeling as if it was full of sand. He felt like he had been asleep forever, and was confused why he was lying on such a comfortable bed. What had happened? He blinked dazedly, and almost recoiled when he saw who was sitting on the bed next to him, clearly the cause of his waking. "Father?" His voice sounded pathetic, and he was unsure whether it was from lack of use or an overwhelming crash of emotion. Everything flooded back – he had stopped Nizam, he had changed time, no one was dead anymore. His head pounded.
"Your brothers tell me that you have had a rather trying time of late, Dastan. And I am inclined to believe them – you look worse than when Garsiv got you drunk on the soldiers' beer when you were children."
"I...It's..." Dastan stuttered, unable to compete with the fragmented memory of his father believing he had murdered him as he lay burning on the floor.
"Complicated, I am sure. When is it anything else with you?" Sharaman smiled indulgently, resting a hand on his son's shoulder, "I am glad you are awake."
"I missed you, Father." The words slipped out before he could stop them.
The King of Persia laughed softly, "As is right you should. Sometimes I worry if you and your brothers forget me as soon as you leave the palace gates, and I am to miss you alone." Dastan smiled weakly, unable to resist the familiar humour.
"Father?" Tus and Garsiv stood at the door, "Ceremony dictates your presence in the First Hall, to discuss...him." Tus' voice fell flat as he was unsure of how to refer to their dead uncle.
"Ah, of course. I shall return when I am able, Dastan, but until then, you need to rest. I want you more awake when we discuss this new bride of yours!" He smiled, leaving Dastan blushing slightly.
Garsiv hung back as Tus left with their father, "He doesn't know about last night – he thinks you contracted an overnight fever. We didn't really want to lie to him, but I don't think the alternative was really an option. I doubt that what we have been told is the full truth, but Tus is accepting of what she has told us."
Dastan struggled to a sitting position, confused, "You know? What? How can you-"
"We were up rather late last night talking about you I'm afraid." Tamina glided into the room, sly humour lilting her voice, "Don't make me regret my trust, Prince."
Not entirely sure to which of the brothers she was speaking, Garsiv replied anyway, "And don't make me regret mine, Princess. I must go also, little brother, but Tus asked me to remind you on both our behalves, and that of Father's – we are very much alive, and promise to stay that way within the best of our abilities. We're older, and therefore it is our job to worry about you, not the other way around – what happened will not happen, and what will happen we will meet. Do not linger on the remains of a past that will not ever be. Promise?"
Dastan swallowed thickly, unsure of how to answer, but at the same time feeling a huge weight lifting, "I'll try."
"And that is all we ask. You're enough of an attraction for trouble as it is, without going looking for ours as well. I will see you later, both of you."
As Garsiv left, Tamina sat down in the space the King had recently vacated, "I believe we need to begin yesterday's conversation again, don't you?"
Her smile was infectious, and Dastan felt an echo of the previous interactions they had never had, "That would probably be a good idea. What did you tell them?"
"Personally, I think a better question would be: what do you know, and what did you do?"
"All business, aren't we?" Dastan snorted.
"Is there a problem with that? We aren't married yet!"
"It's just, the Tamina I know would not be so...calm."
Tamina raised an eyebrow, "Then I find myself at a disadvantage, because I am certain that we do not know each other."
Dastan smirked, "But I do."
"Then maybe you can tell me if I always find you this irritating." Tamina shot back.
"Actually, this is me being amiable."
"So I am calm, and you are amiable, and yet while I am who I will never be, you are who you used to be, and will continue to be."
Dastan winced, "I don't even want to try and wrap my head around that."
Tamina smiled coyly, "Then let us begin in the now, instead of the remains of your past and my never-to-be future." She found herself enjoying talking to him, and could perhaps even possibly consider growing to tolerate him enough to not strangle him in their marriage bed.
Dastan kept his gaze on her, forcing out the memory of her as she fell full of terror into darkness, instead focussing on the sight of the shine of her obsidian curls as they shimmered in the golden sun, and the familiar stubborn smile, "I think I could try that."
Author Notes: So, what did you think? Reviews make me amazingly happy, and I'd love to hear feedback and thoughts from you!