It was nothing short of a miracle that they'd managed to save him before he was too far gone. It had taken exhausting the power of the Sacred Stone as well as the Latona, and by all accounts it shouldn't have worked. But he was here, he was Lyon again, and he lay half-conscious in Ephraim's arms. Eirika wept with joy, Natasha praised the saints, Grado's knights sighed in relief and Knoll had practically fainted. It was a miracle, their miracle.
"Lyon," Ephraim choked, holding the slight body tighter against him, "Lyon, Lyon."
"Mm...that's right. That's me." Lyon coughed, a pale hand reaching up to grip Ephraim's cloak. "I'm not dreaming, am I...?"
"It's not a dream, Lyon. It's not..." Eirika whispered as she knelt beside them. "Oh, Brother, Lyon..."
"Ahem! As much as I loathe to interrupt the happy reunion," L'Arachel called, "there's still the matter of the beast looming before us!" Oh, right. Healing Lyon hadn't exactly killed the Demon King but rather exorcised him from his body, and now he waited to feast on the flesh of everyone who dared challenge him.
"Ephraim, take Lyon somewhere safe," Eirika said. "We'll finish this." And Ephraim stood up, carrying Lyon in his arms as they left the temple. For once in his life, something was more important than battle.
Outside, it was easier than he'd thought to find that somewhere safe. A small glade, free of monsters and other inhabitants. A small glade just like theirs back in Renais.
"Lyon," he said, brushing the other's bangs away from his face. "I still can't believe it's you."
"Mm." Lyon nodded. "I'm sorry, Ephraim. For all the worry I've caused you and Eirika. For all of this..."
"No, Lyon, don't. It wasn't all your fault, it was the Demon King!" Ephraim said. Lyon shook his head, closing his eyes.
"But it was my weakness, my inability to cope that led me down this path. I invited all of this simply because I felt unfit to rule." His shoulders hitched slightly. "All of this...if only I'd been stronger..."
"It was my weakness that killed your father and destroyed our lands," Lyon continued. "I've made you and Eirika suffer for so long."
"You did," Ephraim said bluntly. "You were reckless. You messed with something you shouldn't have and it turned you into a monster." Lyon blinked back tears.
"So why did you save me?"
"Because we wanted to." Ephraim held Lyon closer, burying his face in his hair. "Even after all you put us through, we just wanted our old friend back. We knew the real Lyon had to still be in there somewhere. The one who's going to be a perfect Emperor of Grado someday because he cares for his people."
"Ephraim..." Lyon smiled sadly. "Even now you still think too highly of me. We both know I'm not perfect."
"No," Ephraim murmured, stroking Lyon's pale cheek. "You're better than perfect." And he kissed the other boy before he could say anything, drawing back after a long moment to stare into his eyes. "You're Lyon." He kissed him again, quickly. "You're my Lyon."
For the first time in forever, Lyon smiled. A real smile.
"I am." He nestled further into the embrace. "I always will be."
And as he savored the feeling of Lyon, warm and slender and alive in his arms, for the first time since the campaign began, Ephraim let his tears fall.