Title: Destiny By Any Other Name

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: K+

Summary: Prince of Persia. I cannot imagine what circumstance would have led me to invest such faith in any outsider, no matter how earnest and charming he appears. 1000 words.

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is Disney's.

Spoilers: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

Notes: Because time travel plots always fascinate me- and because Tamina is a BAMF.

As I kneel before the shrine of the Dagger on the eve of my marriage to Prince Dastan of Persia, I cannot help but wonder what it was like between us before.

For there must have been a before, despite the fact that I never laid eyes on the man before last week. Before he nearly single-handedly broke down the east gate of my city and delivered holy Alamut into the hands of his brothers; before he was presented to me by Prince Tus as part peace treaty, part apology in the wake of said unlawful invasion, and approached me with flattery on his lips and the Dagger itself in his hands. The very Dagger I had sent to safety only moments before.

I suspected the moment he handed it to me, claiming that the only betrothal gift he had was that which already belonged to me, that he must, however impossible, have some idea what it was. I feared, when I heard from the priests of his confrontation on the steps with Prince Nizam, that the treachery he'd exposed and the Dagger were somehow intertwined. But it was not until he walked with me and claimed under my prodding to have become a new man since entering the city- until I accused him of discovering something in Alamut, and he dodged my questions to stare at me with undue warmth in his eyes and claim he could not wait until we knew one another well enough to mock- that I knew my suspicions must be the truth.

I have watched him, since that moment. I have seen the way his eyes linger on the Dagger's presence when he visits me at my prayers. I have felt the caress of his eyes upon me at every meal, and in every moment of conversation we have stolen together between the hasty repairs to my city and the preparations for our wedding. And I witnessed his reunion with the Persian King but a few hours ago: a prolonged clasp of arms, as though he had feared to never see his father again in this life. It fits; I cannot understand why the gods allowed it to happen, but it all fits.

He has used the Dagger. And not only that: he has used the Sandglass itself. The chamber in the dagger's hilt holds only two charges of the Sands of Time, barely enough to undo a few breaths each; he could not possibly have learned everything he would have needed to know in such short spans of time. He must have taken the Dagger beneath the city; he must have opened it while it was inserted into the Sands. And he must have then removed it as well, before the glass could fully shatter and release utter destruction upon the world.

There is only one way he could have done this; only one way he could have known exactly where to go and what actions to take. One of us, one of those charged from birth with the truth of the Dagger and its protection, must have told him everything. The cost of not acting must have overshadowed the danger of placing ultimate power into a stranger's hand, however unbelievable that sounds.

And it must have been me, by the familiarity with which he treats me. I must have told this foreign prince- the conqueror of my city- of its most sacred secrets. It baffles me; I cannot imagine what circumstance would have led me to invest such faith in any outsider, no matter how earnest and charming he appears. Yet how else can it have happened? I have always believed that I would die before failing my mission; that if the Dagger were ever in danger, I would take it to the cave where the exchange with the gods was first made rather than allow it to fall into unconsecrated hands. I cannot reconcile the truths of my training with the logic of this discovery:

This brash young prince, this leader of an uncouth and warlike race, not only knows my city's secrets- he has acted to preserve them.

I consider, again, the possibility that his knowledge came from less savory origins: that Dastan suborned one of my priests, or seduced the secrets out of me and betrayed me, or used force upon me in some manner. And yet- a man who could do such a thing, would he not have joined forces with his treacherous uncle rather than expose him? He could have simply taken my hand and kept the Dagger when his brother made the offer. He could have made a gift of it to his father. He could have done anything but what he chose to do: place the Dagger safely in my hands, in such a way that I would know he knew of its significance.

For he cannot have known me at all, and not have realized that I would see through his transparent hints and insinuations. That is, if he even thought it through; when he looks at me, it is as though the whole world is in his eyes. It is intoxicating, and somewhat unsettling. What did pass between us in the time that has been undone?

But perhaps it is better that he does not tell me; that whatever led him to set his hand on the Dagger instead of mine not cloud this future. When the hand of the gods is this obvious, who am I to question their gift?

I smile and raise my forehead from the steps, the gold beading of my veil scattering the light of the candles like sparks of the gods' grace. We make our own destiny, Dastan has told me; noble, puppyish, impossible- and very pretty- Prince Dastan, who seems to have done so by joining his to mine.

I may not remember what bound him to me, or why I trusted him.

But I hope- no, I believe- that I will enjoy discovering him anew.