Edge of Reality
By: Manna


…-…-…

His fingertips pressed against his tunic, just above where his heart lay still beating within his chest. It ached with a fervor utterly indescribable; was it really all over?

The dragon lay before him, motionless. He took a step closer and marveled at the beast's size: Each leg was thicker than his own torso, and each talon as long as his hand. Somehow, they had managed to kill it. He didn't know how. Magic, legendary weapons had perhaps been the only reason for their victory, but Mark was not one to dispute a win. By the looks of the dragon they had slain, they had indeed won the battle.

Nobody dared to move more than a few feet in those first moments. Nobody dared to turn their head completely away from the sight in front of them.

They were all afraid that all of their hard work and determination weren't enough, that the dragon would, somehow, with a deep inhalation of air, spew fire at them that would leave naught but bones and ash in its wake.

The first to move was Nino; she crumpled to the ground with sobs wracking her body and tears streaming down her face. It seemed to shake the others from their statue-esque positions, and soon, men and women were embracing or giving relieved smiles to the people standing nearest them.

It didn't take long for them all to scatter, to go to the people who mattered most to them, for knights to go to the side of their lord or lady, for mercenaries to go to their friends or lovers, or for some to disappear, as if they had never been there to begin with.

It was, Mark decided, almost impossible to believe that it was over, but the dragon never took another breath in the minutes that passed after its initial crash to the earth, and when he was certain, he spoke softly, as if to convince himself it was true. "It's dead," he said, feeling dazed. "The dragon's really dead."

He caught Florina's eye as he slowly sunk to the ground. She regarded him curiously, and he wondered why he couldn't seem to keep his eyes open. Was it shock? Or relief so overwhelming that his body couldn't handle it?

"Mark?" he heard her ask as he felt himself slipping under. "M-Mark? Wake up!"

The darkness was all he saw, but it floated around him in a comfortable way, warm and sweet and full of smells he loved, like black coffee and scrambled eggs…

"Mark! Mark, get up!"

Finally he stirred, recognizing the voice and understanding at once that he needed to pry open his eyes and make a real effort to sit up.

When his bleary eyes opened, he first noticed his bedroom was filled with light, and that his wife was standing in front of him with a plate piled high with breakfast food.

"I dropped the kids off at a friend's house so that you could sleep in." She crinkled her nose in amusement before handing him the plate. "I d-didn't think you'd sleep so late, though."

He shoveled a spoonful of eggs in his mouth and after he had chewed them and swallowed, he shook his head. "Honey," he said, "I just had the strangest dream."

"So that's why you slept so soundly. Even with the kids shouting and trying to climb on you, you didn't so much as stir." She sat down on the edge of the bed and stifled a yawn. "So what kind of dream was it? Were you President of the United States again?"

"No, better." He took a bite of the buttery toast and chewed it thoughtfully. "I was a tactician for a medieval army."

She giggled softly and covered it with her left hand.

"No, really," he insisted. "And I was good at it, too!"

"You've been playing too many video games, I think."

"But that wasn't all. Remember when we were back in high school?"

"H-How could I forget? I hated high school! S-Sain kept chasing me around…"

He grinned and started on a slice of crispy, greasy bacon. "Well, it was like everyone who ever meant anything to me made their way into my dream. You were a pegasus knight, and not only did you fight like a champion, your stammer was back full-force..."

"R-Really?" she asked, bending down to pick up a dirty sock, "I haven't stammered very badly since I was a teenager."

"I know. But I was pretty much just a kid in my dream, too. It was nice being young again, you know."

She smiled, "Yeah, I can imagine." She tossed the sock toward the half-open closet door, and it landed haphazardly on the edge of the laundry basket. "Oh, uhm, Fiora told me that they could use my help tomorrow down at the ranch. They're getting in a bunch of special needs children, and they need some experienced people to help lead the horses."

"I can watch the kids and make sure that they don't destroy the house while you're gone."

"A-Actually, it'd be nice if we could all go…?"

"Sure, that sounds fine with me. They always like seeing their aunts. Farina spoils them rotten, though."

"I'll try to keep her in check…" And then, after a moment of watching him chew his food, she opened her mouth again, blushing slightly as she changed the subject back to his dream. "How did your dream end, by the way?" she asked.

He paused, and spoke with a full mouth, "We managed to kill the dragon," he said simply, as if it was something done on a regular basis.

"I wonder if that means the merger proposal you and Eliwood and Hector have been working on will go through."

He blinked. "Hey, maybe! I think getting Caelin Industries to merge with us would be beneficial to everyone involved." And then, softly, "Eliwood even jokingly said that he'd let me name his first child if it went through."


…-…-…

Author Notes:

I usually hate, "It was all just a dream!" stories, but it's partly Xirysa's fault. The other half of the blame falls on me; I realized that it'd be a great Fire Emblem idea.