Title: What Every Man Could Dream Of

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: PG

Summary: Prince of Persia. It has always been Dastan's way to think with heart and sinew before reason. 1000 words.

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

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

Notes: Companion fic for "Destiny By Any Other Name": Dastan's side of the coin. Title is a quote from the movie.

It has always been Dastan's way to think with heart and sinew before reason. His brothers have chided him for it often enough; but he is irredeemably a creature of instinct. Fortunately, it has served him well over the years: from the moment the King his father first saw him on the streets of Nasaf, to the moment he'd proven the truth of the Dagger's abilities to Tus in the time that never was. It had saved him in Avrat when he'd caught sight of his uncle's burnt hands; and it had set his feet on a completely unexpected path when a defiant Princess had chosen death rather than marry his brother- only to change her mind after catching sight of him.

It was that instinct that had led him to offer the Dagger to Tamina as a betrothal gift: without pause, without thought of its potential worth to his father, and without consideration of what conclusions she might draw from his method of presentation. He had not acted as a Prince of Persia in that moment; he had acted as the Guardian he had essentially become in the other timeline, and as a brash young suitor who wanted to make his chosen lady smile.

That desire to make Tamina smile increases, he finds, with every day that passes; with every moment they steal together at meals, amid repairs, or in the garden after her prayers. He is hers now before he is anything else- and he cannot find it in himself to regret that change.

This is not the first time Dastan's fortune has changed, after all. It has been fifteen years, but that day in the market when he'd acted to save his friend Bis and caught the attention of King Sharaman is as clear in his memory now as it was then. Once it had finally sunk in that the King wasn't joking when he called him son, Dastan had done everything in his power to prove himself worthy of that acceptance- while not losing sight of the loyalties he'd claimed before. He can only hope that it will be the same, this time; that becoming the husband of Alamut's high priestess will not lead him into conflict with his father and brothers. For he already knows there will be no turning back from this, any more than there was when he was an orphan boy clinging to Nizam's robes.

He does not truly fear they will ask him for more than he can give, though. Tus and Garsiv are more stubborn and hot-headed than he, respectively, but they still are, as they have always been, his brothers. They have taught him, teased him, and claimed him as their own since their father had first given them leave to drag him around the palace pointing out places and people whose names he'd need to know. And even though they don't remember- they both died for him, believing in him. They may react badly when he tells them he is remaining behind in Alamut, but he is certain they will forgive him for it in the end.

So too will their father, Dastan believes. Just as before, Tus has received word that the king left his prayers at the Eastern Palace to ride for Alamut at the first news of the army's change of destination. This time, he will arrive to find a city left unmolested apart from minor damage to one side gate- and a princess who has agreed to a political marriage with his youngest son. Attaching such a culturally significant city-state to the Empire by virtue of diplomacy rather than force will be a jewel for King Sharaman's crown; and having acquired such a soft yet important target, he will hopefully be only too glad to let the newly declared Lion of Persia stiffen up its defenses.

There are the Hassansins to prepare for, after all. Dastan has yet to decide exactly what he will say about what prompted his uncle's treachery, but he knows he must at least reveal that much, despite the pain the news is sure to cause his father. Bad enough the king will be faced with the fact of Nizam's betrayal; the continued existence of the secretive assassins will make it impossible to ignore just how long his brother had been deceiving him.

Dastan's part in that betrayal may be a small thing beside the decades of lies their father will be forced to unravel, Tus' frustrated grief at having to kill one family member to save another, and Garsiv's outrage at being manipulated, but it still burns within him, nonetheless. How many times had Dastan gone to his uncle in those early years, when he'd hesitated to speak to the king for fear of disappointing him? Nizam had bought him pomegranates, overseen his education as he'd struggled to catch up to his new brothers, and coaxed him out of the stables where he'd fled after his first official introduction to the Persian court.

It hurt to know that Nizam had just been 'making sure the king's wineglass stayed full' all those years; that he'd considered Dastan gutter trash given opportunities above his station. He'd never loved Dastan, not like Dastan had loved him.

He thanks the gods for his father, who does love him; who always says that a man should have the courage to do what is right, no matter the consequences. And he thanks the gods for Tamina, who will love him; who had seen all the worst of him and still wished they'd had more time together, who is beautiful and brilliant and every inch Dastan's equal; and who will join her life to his in two days time.

No, he is not the same man who climbed Alamut's wall to conquer her city; and she is not the same woman who demanded he let her fall to save the world.

But he dearly looks forward- heart, sinew and reason- to forging their destiny together, anew.