Epilogue ~ A Place in Time
Robin let out a sigh, enjoying the feeling of the soft grass beneath his hands as he slowly rose back to consciousness.
There was some soft giggling from above him, prompting the tactician to lazily crack one eye as two familiar shadows loomed over him.
"Oh, hi there!" Lissa smiled at him. "We didn't mean to wake you."
"There are better places to nap than a field, friend," Chrom said down to him with a cheeky grin on his face.
"Bite me; this bit stopped being funny a long time ago," Robin groaned, closing his eyes again.
The two royals burst out laughing as they sat on the grass on either side of him, Chrom flopping back to lie down next to Robin as Lissa rested with her arms stretched out behind her.
"I can see why you keep sneaking out here," she said conversationally after a few moments of companionable silence. "It's nice. Calming."
"And doesn't smell like a hospital," Robin added with a grin.
For the last month Robin had been confined to a bed in the small hospital for the wounded Shepherds that Libra had set up in Southtown, whiling away his days with reading, the occasional visit from the other Shepherds and waiting to have his bandages changed. For nearly a week before that he'd been all but comatose as his ruined body had fought to remain among the living. The second that Libra had cleared him to move about he had disappeared for the entire day, only to reappear at sunset with a sheepish smile as he explained how he'd fallen asleep in a field, much to Lucina and Morgan's chagrin.
"You are far too overly-familiar with this field," Chrom laughed, giving a stretch and repositioning himself to be more comfortable.
Chrom was wearing a high-quality blue long-sleeved tunic and pants emblazoned with House Ylisse livery, a far cry from the usual training gear he wore when relaxing. Robin had joked that it actually made him look almost like the Exalt he was supposed to be. Lissa, too, had opted for more casual dress, wearing a plain yellow sleeveless sun-dress rather than her usual battle-dress. Robin felt out of place, lying there in his sterile white hospital clothes; the only saving grace to them was the coat he insisted on putting over them.
The tactician let his hand wander, running his fingertips over the scars his beloved coat had acquired in the final fight. At Chrom's urging the coat had been repaired by the finest tailors in Ylisse, and the spells on it had been re-applied while Robin had still been sleeping. This time, however, the entire Ylissean College of Mages had assisted Miriel with her spells, and Tharja had been assisted by Aversa, Henry, Morgan and Noire for her hexes and curses. The garment was lighter than ever, and so strong that he'd actually stood there and ordered one of the guards to stab him as hard as the man could, to no effect.
It was like wearing a feather, and it was so tough that the poor guard had tried all afternoon to stab Robin and achieved nothing.
"So what are you two doing so far south?" Robin asked casually. "Are the victory celebrations already over?"
"While there has been some 'unofficial' revelling, we have yet to hold the victory celebration," Chrom said lazily.
"We can't have a party while the guest of honour is still in the hospital," Lissa added.
"Besides, it's my kingdom," Chrom added defensively. "I can go wherever I want in it."
Robin snorted with laughter, finally sitting up. It was a slow process, considering just how hard it was to move when wrapped in thick bandages, but he finally made it up without aid.
"So what?" he asked mischievously. "You have to suffer through long and boring victory speeches, so I do to?"
"It's not that bad," Chrom insisted. "Roark is a man of few words, and Cullen's not much different…"
"Yes, but I know you'll invite all the others that helped us beat Grima," Robin pointed out. "And I know for a fact how long-winded Maribelle can be; Mustafa's going to want to make some massive speech about building bridges between the nations, and we'll be lucky is Basilio and Flavia don't start a fist-fight on stage."
"Which is exactly why I need my tactician there to help me maintain order," Chrom laughed.
Robin sighed and ran a hand through his hair, careful not to disturb the bandages still wrapped around his forehead.
"Chrom we've been over this-"
"I know, I know," the Exalt assured him, sitting up now, too. "But you can at least back me up one last time."
The first words out of Robin's mouth when he'd woken up in Southtown had been "I quit". He'd repeated those two words until Chrom had actually started to take him seriously, and the two had had a very long conversation about it. A conversation about how Robin was sick of being hurt; about how, now that the threat of Grima was over, he needed to find his own place in the world; about how there was no way Lucina could stay in the capital with him, having her own Mark of Naga. Chrom had listened quietly to all of Robin's reasons before nodding and standing.
"As the Exalt of Ylisse I hereby relieve Tactician Robin of his rank and standing in the military, and all of his authority."
That's what Chrom had said. The moment had been spoiled when Chrom had given him a grin and a wink promising that he wouldn't be getting off that easy, but at that moment Robin had become a free man.
"It's just politicians," Robin assured him. "How scary can they be for the man that slew the Dark Dragon?"
Chrom looked at Robin silently, one eyebrow raised.
"Okay, point," Robin sighed after a moment.
Lissa snickered as the two men both sighed and leaned back, propping themselves up.
"It never ceases to amaze me just how you two communicate without actually talking," she said, playing with some of the grass at her side.
"It comes from telling your brother what to do every second of every day for the last three or four years," Robin deadpanned.
"Excuse me, but I believe I married Sumia, not you," Chrom interjected.
"I'm telling her you said that," Lissa said.
There was a brief moment of silence before all three of them burst into laughter, the two men falling onto their backs while Lissa held her sides. Chrom sighed once their laughter died down, sitting back up and squinting at the position of the sun.
"We should be getting back soon, before Frederick sends out a search party," he said as he stood, dusting off his pants before offering a hand to Lissa.
Robin made no move to follow them to his feet, instead placing his hands comfortably behind his head and letting out a contented sigh.
"Are you coming?" Chrom asked him.
"I'll catch up later," he said lazily. "I just found the sweet spot, so I'm not moving again anytime soon."
Chrom rolled his eyes as Lissa giggled again, moving to Robin's side and dropping a small bag on his stomach.
"I thought you might say that, so I brought you a snack," she explained.
Robin nodded, reaching into the bag and pulling out a piece of crystalized honey.
"Lissa, I love you," Robin said, popping the candy into his mouth. "Marry me. Let's elope."
Chrom snorted, giving the ex-tactician a light kick as the princess burst out laughing.
"You're not getting away from my daughter that easy," the Exalt muttered darkly, spinning on his heel and marching off towards Southtown again.
Lissa grinned and followed her older brother, giving Robin a playful wink over her shoulder as she followed the blue-haired man. He grinned, popping another of the candies into his mouth and settling in for another nap.
Robin snorted as he snapped back to wakefulness, the sound of nearby footfalls interrupting his second nap that day.
"Go away," he groaned, laying a hand over his closed eyelids.
Aversa scoffed at her brother as she stood over him.
"And to think that Mustafa actually wanted a lump like you to lead our nation," she said, baiting him.
"I am a man that belongs to no one nation," Robin sighed, accepting the fact he wasn't about to get back to his nap any time soon. "And that's 'Prime Minister Mustafa' now, by the way. What do you want?"
"The latest correspondence from Plegia has come through," she said irritably. "And might I add that I don't appreciate being your clerk."
At Robin's request Mustafa had taken up stewardship of Plegia. He'd never had any plans of being a monarch like Chrom or Say'ri, especially not with the way that his father had come to power. He'd abdicated his throne and given up any claim to it, installing Mustafa as the country's Prime Minister with trust that the big bearded man would do things right by the remaining citizens. It hadn't been a popular move for any level of Plegian society, but Mustafa knew that if Robin didn't want to rule there was no point in trying to force him.
Robin shrugged on the ground, glancing up at Aversa through his fingers.
"How's 'Offensive Magic Instructor' for a new generation of tacticians sound?" he asked.
"I… what?" Aversa said, stumbling over her tongue at this unexpected question.
"Will you sit already?" Robin laughed. "You're making me antsy."
Aversa silently sunk down to a sitting position next to Robin. She seemed tense, he noticed.
"I'm thinking of making good on my idea to start a school that trains tacticians like me," he explained. "I had initially wanted to ask Tharja to take the position of mage instructor, but she seems busy with her plans in Plegia rebuilding the Dark Mages."
"And I don't have plans for the future?" Aversa asked defensively.
"Firstly, you're still technically a war-criminal, and that kinda limits your options," Robin reminded her. "Secondly, I'm actually giving you a second free pass here. Take it, or live the rest of your life in exile off in some cave. Your call."
Aversa shifted uncomfortably, glancing away from him.
"I do not want your pity," she said after a moment.
"It's not pity," Robin said, finally sitting back up. "I haven't told anyone else about this besides Lucina and Morgan, okay? So don't go repeating it. But… when I was sucked into Grima I saw… the people we'd lost. They helped me get back to the rest of you."
Aversa's eyes went wide at Robin's admission, and she grew perfectly still as the ex-tactician continued.
"I… I saw mom. I promised her that I'd be nice to you; that we'd try to get along again. Aversa, I don't remember my old life or my childhood, but, and I can't believe I'm about to say this… I want you to be a part of my future life. So… come and help me start a school."
Aversa was silent for another moment before she exploded into a fit of laughter so intense it made her roll onto her back, clutching her sides and rolling about like a child.
"Okay, wow," Robin said, watching the older woman rolling side to side as she laughed. "I so retract my offer. Go live in a cave somewhere. You're adopted and no one loves you."
"Oh, but I know somebody that still loves me!" she laughed right in Robin's face, making the tactician scowl.
"You know, I was having a nice, peaceful day until you showed up…" he muttered darkly.
"I am… so… not… sorry!" Aversa gasped between laughs.
"Do you want the job or not!?" Robin shouted, losing his patience.
This only served to increase Aversa's laughter, the woman breaking into a new fit of hysterics.
"I will hex you into silence if I have to," Robin warned, starting to go red from embarrassment. "I've spent the last four years around Tharja, so I've picked up quite a bit that she doesn't know about."
"Okay… okay…" Aversa gasped, holding her sides as she rose up onto her knees. "My sides… oh, they ache… I haven't laughed like that in… why are you glaring at me like that, brother dear?"
Robin simply sat there, glaring and fingering Raziel's hilt as Aversa continued snickering.
"Well?" the ex-tactician prompted.
"Oh, were you being serious?" Aversa asked sweetly, her voice still tinged with the final notes of her laughing fit.
"I'm not going to ask a third time," Robin growled.
"Then if you believe you can make me laugh like that again, I will accept your offer," Aversa said, flipping around and sitting on the grass next to Robin.
"I really hate you sometimes," he sighed, running a hand through his hair.
"And I, too, find you rather abrasive at times," Aversa admitted.
"Why, because I outsmarted you at every turn in Plegia?" Robin asked goadingly.
"Don't push me," she warned, giving him a gentle shove.
Of course, considering the current state of his body even a well-placed nudge was enough to make Robin hiss in pain and clutch his side.
"Alright, alright," he said soothingly, holding his hands up in surrender.
Silence reigned between the two for a time as they simply sat there in the sun, watching the trees in the distance swaying in the wind.
"What…" Aversa started, breaking the silence. "What else did mother have to say?"
Robin quirked a brow at the question, watching his sister cautiously out of the corner of his eye.
"Just that we should try to get along," he said. "We didn't really have a lot of time. I was kinda busy trying not to die."
Aversa nodded, remaining silent.
"But," Robin went on. "I did get some second-hand memories from my future self before I… ya know…"
Aversa glanced up at Robin's admission, watching him curiously.
"The night Mom and I escaped from the Dragon's Table," he said, his voice growing serious. "Mom went back for you. We both did. We tried to get you out, too, but Validar had already moved you. He attacked Mom and drove us out. I… think we spent the next few months trying to catch you on the road, but… we never did."
Aversa went silent again, before giving a weak laugh.
"I thought she would have done something like that," the sorceress said softly. "When I found out you had been taken, I honestly waited for her to come back for me. But…"
"I'm sorry, sis," Robin said, laying an arm across her shoulders.
Aversa nodded, taking a deep breath.
"Thank you for telling me that," she said, reaching into one of her robe's inner pockets. "Now I have something for you in return."
She pulled out a small red velvet pouch and handed it to Robin. The tactician pulled his arm back to accept the gift, opening the bag curiously.
"It was mother's wedding ring," Aversa explained as Robin pulled a small golden ring out of it. "She told me… that Fa- Validar never bought her one, so she bought it herself. To… make us feel more like a real family. So it bears no ties to that man, at the least."
Robin nodded, looking wordlessly at the delicate yet simple gold band in his grip, a single perfect diamond set in the clasp atop it.
"I believe you have more pressing need of a wedding ring than I do," Aversa said, her tone returning to the more familiar teasing one she usually used.
Robin groaned, realising what she was saying.
"Wanna be a groomsman?" he asked defeatedly, falling backwards onto the grass again.
Aversa just laughed, shaking her head at the question.
"Thanks," Robin said softly, holding the ring up to the light to look at it again.
Aversa just nodded silently, staring out into the distance again.
They sat in silence for a while, having finally come to an understanding, before Robin broke it by snickering.
"Did you really name your creepy black pegasus 'Malice'?" he asked, still snickering a little.
"Oh, shut up, you," Aversa muttered, giving him a sideways glare.
The sun was already starting to set by the time that Robin wandered back into Southtown, fresh from another day spent lying in a field. It seemed to be becoming a favourite pastime of his; at least until he could lift a sword again.
Aversa had left him sometime after he'd fallen asleep a third time, leaving him to wake up alone when the evening chill started to descend. And having stolen the bag of sweets that Lissa had left with him, too.
"There you are!" an irritated voice called out behind him. "What did Libra say about moving around so much?"
Robin shrugged as his daughter rushed up to him, glaring at him from under her fringe. She was still wearing her own battered black coat, but beneath it was a crisp and neat Ylissean Army Tunic. Now that Robin was officially stepping down, or rather because he was stepping down, Morgan had decided to permanently accept the role of Grandmaster.
"Don't overdo it?" Robin offered. "You can relax, Morgan; I spent all day sleeping."
The girl huffed, crossing her arms and giving Robin a good hard glare. He smiled in response, and after a few seconds Morgan's glare broke and she looked away, the corners of her mouth turning up a little, too.
Just to see how far he could push her mood Robin flopped an arm over her shoulders, leaning heavily on her.
"Mooorgaaaaaan, I'm still wounded," he moaned plaintively. "Carry me back to my room?"
The brown-haired girl snorted with laughter as she tried to get out from under her father's arm, failing and simply leading him through the small village back towards the old house that had been converted for the wounded Shepherds. A few of the others had taken serious injuries during the final battle, and for the last month Robin had had Lon'qu, Lissa, Owain, Severa, Inigo, Tharja and Henry as room-mates, along with Libra and Olivia running things. It had been… an interesting month.
And, Robin mentally reminded himself as Morgan dragged him through the door and face-to-face with another important woman in his life, that he'd been living with Lucina as well.
"Hello, Robin," she greeted, taking his arm off of Morgan and draping it over her own shoulders. "You over-did it again today, didn't you?"
"Nah, just faking it to spend some quality time with my daughter," he snickered as Lucina led him towards their room.
"I heard that!" Morgan shouted indignantly as she beelined for where her friends were no doubt waiting for her.
Robin and Lucina both laughed as they left the small entryway and went further back into the house, past the room that Libra had claimed as his surgery/clinic. The blonde priest glanced up from whatever book he was reading, giving Robin and Lucina a warm smile before going back to his reading. It appeared that he and Olivia would be permanently settling into this house and using it as a regional hospital.
"How was your day?" Robin asked as he allowed himself to be led through the halls.
They passed Owain's room, where he and Severa were talking animatedly about what they could do with their lives now. The redheaded girl looked up and spotted a grinning Robin as he passed, her face instantly going the colour of her hair before she was out of Robin's sight.
"It was… good," she said, a smile rising to her face. "I spent the morning training like usual, and then spent the afternoon with Father and Aunt Lissa."
Robin smirked a little as they went passed Inigo's closed door, making him wonder just which village girl the silver-tongued boy had roped into 'helping with his physical recovery' that night.
"Did your dad mention anything about the upcoming peace summit?" Robin asked conversationally.
"No… he was more interested in any upcoming weddings," Lucina said innocently.
Robin choked on his own tongue, stumbling a little and making Lucina laugh at his side.
"I swear… your mother must have gotten to him…" Robin muttered darkly.
"He also mentioned that Little Lucina has begun to take her first steps," she went on.
"Yeah, it must be strange being in the same timeline with yourself," Robin mentioned offhandedly.
"I am not her," Lucina said as they finally arrived at their room. "She will have… a far better life than I did."
Robin snorted, finally standing up on his own again.
"Okay, I'll admit that I have some work cut out for me in making a perfect life for you now," he said, stretching out his stiff joints. "I'm almost well enough to travel again. Where do you want to start?"
Lucina smiled as she lit the oil lamp in the corner and Robin hobbled to their bed.
This was something that they had spoken at length about in the last month; what to do with their lives now. Robin was an amnesiac who knew nothing but war. Lucina was a time-travelling hero, who also knew nothing but war. They had been lost at first, lying there after Robin had proposed the question one night and staring at the ceiling, mulling it over. Now, they had an entire list of things that they wanted to do.
"Let's start with the thing that's farthest away, and work our way back," Lucina suggested, sitting down next to Robin on the edge of their bed.
The ex-tactician nodded, reaching over to where his pouch was hanging next to the bed and drawing out a heavily-written-on sheet of paper.
"Okay, so… going back to Imperial Valm as a tourist would probably be the furthest away… but the Garden of Giants off the southern Valmese coast will probably be the hardest to get to…"
Lucina chuckled, plucking the paper out of Robin's hands and setting it aside.
"Why don't we decide when we get there?" she asked, nuzzling up to Robin. "After all, we have all the time in the world now."
Robin nodded, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her closer. As they sat like that in comfortable silence a thought occurred to him.
"You know… I am pretty much healed now…" he said suggestively, trailing off as Lucina glanced up at him.
It took a moment for her to catch onto his meaning, a seductive grin appearing on her face as the other foot dropped.
"What has Inigo been calling it?" she asked, gently extracting Robin from his coat.
"'Assisting with his physical recovery'," Robin repeated, grinning at Lucina. "And I have to tell you, I'm still really wounded…"
Lucina chuckled, her voice husky as she pushed him down onto his back and swung one leg up and over him, sitting on his lap and grinning down at the ex-tactician now at her mercy.
"Don't worry. I'll take good care of you…"
Robin frowned the next morning as he looked at his reflection in the mirror. A criss-cross of fresh scars covered his chest and stomach, and no doubt his back, too. Two puckered circles on his chest and one on his stomach marked where Grima's weird beam attack had hit him. All his old scars added into the equation, and Robin was surprised he couldn't just turn a blow with his bare flesh.
His eyes flicked up to the bandages around his forehead. Libra had told him it would be okay to remove them…
Slowly and carefully he peeled the gauze away from his face, letting his hair fall freely for the first time in weeks. There on the left side of his forehead, starting at his eyebrow and disappearing into his hairline, was a pink, leathery burn scar. At least Libra had healed the damage around his eye and jaw. The damage to the majority of his face had just been from the periphery of the spell; the brunt of the spell had still grazed his forehead, though. There was nothing anyone would be able to do. He'd just have to grow his fringe over it.
"Well, at least it adds character," he muttered, leaning towards the mirror to get a closer look.
Robin frowned as he drew back again, slowly tensing his muscles. Thinking back four years when his journey had begun he didn't recognize the scrawny tactician in his memories. He was still thin, but wiry limbs had given way to whipcord muscle. In fact, he was usually more muscular than he currently was, having lost a decent amount of mass during his bed rest.
"What in Naga's name are you doing?" a familiar voice deadpanned from behind him.
"Severa!" Robin shouted, blushing hard as he spun.
The redhead looked at him as if he was something she'd scraped off the bottom of her boot, her face softening somewhat as she registered the scars coating him.
"I… was just thinking that I'd changed a lot over the last few years," Robin admitted, desperately hoping she'd take the bait.
The redhead nodded in his doorway, frowning in thought.
"I think we all have," she admitted after a moment, in which Robin pulled on a light cream coloured shirt.
"Though I don't think there's enough of you left to be saying you've changed," Severa added with a cruel grin.
"That's harsh," Robin laughed. "I seem to recall… getting this one saving your life."
He pulled down the collar of his shirt and pointed to the scar near his right shoulder that had been caused by a cutlass, back on the boat to Valm.
"Did you honestly memorise every one?" Severa asked, sounding unimpressed.
"Nah, just the important emotional-blackmail ones," Robin shrugged, throwing his coat on over his clothes.
"Lucina was looking for you," the redhead sighed, rolling her eyes. "She said something about her father planning a ball for all the Shepherds, now that everyone's up and moving again."
Robin froze halfway through strapping his spellbook to his hip, looking up at Severa with terror in his eyes.
"Oh please dear sweet Naga tell me you're still just teasing me," he pleaded in a trembling voice.
A week later Robin found himself sighing as he strode through the hallways of Ylisstol's palace, tugging at the neck of the fine ruffled shirt Virion had loaned him.
"I hate parties," he muttered.
Lucina chuckled on his arm, prompting him to look down at her.
"I would assure you that you are not the only one uncomfortable right now," she said, squirming uncomfortably.
She was wearing a beautiful form-hugging white dress that Sumia and Cordelia had picked out for her, laced up the sides and reaching down to her ankles.
"I wish my figure was not so masculine," she complained softly, prompting Robin to smirk.
He had to grin and shake his head. One of the things he'd learned about Lucina in the recent peacetime was her low opinion of her body. She was certainly more muscular than most women, and not quite as well-endowed as some of the other female members of the Shepherds, but she still had a lithe grace about her that all of said other women would probably kill to have. It was hard to reconcile the peerless, confident warrior with the woman she presented to him sometimes, but it made Robin beyond happy that she trusted him enough to let him in on that kind of secret.
"As long as you don't grow arms like Sully, I don't think it's going to be an issue," Robin laughed. "Besides, I love you just the way you are."
Lucina tightened her grip on his arm happily as they entered the ballroom, all of the other Shepherds there and already celebrating. A few still moved stiffly or with a slight limp, but everyone was happy and mostly healthy.
"Robin!" Virion called out happily as he spotted the ex-tactician, waving him over.
The archer's smile dropped a little as Robin and Lucina approached, the man actually clicking his tongue when they arrived. He was standing with Cherche, Tiki and Say'ri, the four of them obviously discussing the future of Valm. Say'ri was wearing some ornate kimono-thingy from her homeland, while Virion and Cherche had opted for more traditional formal wear. Strangely enough Tiki was wearing flowing white robes similar to those of the Naga Church's clerics, but somewhat more ornate.
"I loan you a magnificent suit, and still you insist on wearing that coat," Virion half-laughed, half-sighed when they arrived.
"Don't even bother," Lucina sighed. "It is not as if I didn't try before we came."
Virion and Cherche both looked surprised for a moment before bursting into laughter. Even Say'ri and Tiki chuckled a little at Lucina's joke.
"I see you are adjusting well to your hard-won peace, Princess," Virion said with a shallow bow.
"Former Princess," Lucina reminded him with a small smile. "I am merely Lucina now."
"Yes, Lucina the hero," Tiki pointed out. "Stories of your journey will be passed down for generations. I'll see to it personally."
Lucina blushed at the compliment and looked down, unused to such flattery. Robin chuckled as the song the band was playing ended and another started, one with a faster tempo. A large number of the Shepherds were already dancing, laughing and smiling happily as they stepped and spun.
"Robin, why not take the lady to the dance floor?" Virion suggested.
The tactician gave a sad grin, indicating his left leg.
"Still wounded," he said. "It's hard enough to walk normally. Why don't you dance with her?"
Lucina's eyes went wide at Robin's suggestion, and Virion let out another laugh.
"A brilliant idea!" the archer said, offering his hand to Lucina with a flourish. "Milady, may I have this dance?"
"I… uh… regretfully cannot dance…" Lucina stammered as Robin extracted his arm from her grip.
"It is very easy," Virion assured her as he took her hand and led her to the dance floor. "I have often been told I am a very good teacher…"
Lucina gave Robin one final, pleading look before Virion pulled her onto the floor with the other Shepherds. Robin gave her a bright wave, making sure she saw him put all his weight on his 'wounded' left leg as he turned to the three women he was left alone with.
He didn't dance. Period.
"That man is dangerous," Say'ri said in a low tone.
"Yes," Cherche agreed laughingly. "However he also has a healthy fear of Minerva, so I do not worry."
Robin snickered at that, recalling just how often Virion complained about the wyvern.
"So is everyone ready to go back to Valm?" Robin asked conversationally, accepting a glass form one of the House Ylisse servants wandering around with trays.
The three women nodded, and Say'ri gave Robin a knowing look.
"We are," the Queen of Chon'sin said. "However I was not expecting the two of you to be joining us so soon."
Robin shrugged in response, taking a sip from the glass of delicate wine he'd taken.
"What can I say, I don't like to sit still."
"Yeah, you must really hate to sit still if you're planning to get on a boat voluntarily with your seasickness," Tiki pointed out mischievously.
Robin's face fell as he sighed and slouched a little.
"Dammit, I knew I was forgetting something," he muttered, much to the amusement of the women around him.
They lapsed into silence, and Robin turned to watch the dancing with them. Surprisingly, Virion seemed to actually be doing a good job of teaching Lucina the more basic dance steps on the edge of the floor. She looked a little flustered, but was obviously enjoying herself. Robin watched as Chrom and Sumia moved about, the big man showing a lot more grace than he had on the dance floor at his own wedding. Cynthia seemed to have Gerome in a vice-grip, leading the masked boy around the floor rather than the other way around. Robin actually found himself giggling a little, imagining the slight Pegasus Knight dipping the bigger wyvern rider. Apart from that there were all the usual couples; Miriel and Vaike, Olivia and Libra, Cordelia and Frederick, Nah and Laurent, funnily enough Severa and Owain, Tharja and Henry…
Robin blinked in surprise at the last couple, spinning in time with the music and the rest of the dancers, perfectly in sync.
"Wow," he breathed, watching the two Dark Mages flow about the floor. "I… didn't think either of them had it in them."
"I know," Cherche agreed wistfully.
Robin grinned as Tharja slipped up and smiled a little, filing that information aside in case he ever needed a favour from the woman.
"Is Morgan packed?" Say'ri asked conversationally.
"She is," he said. "She told Chrom she was taking some leave to re-connect with her roots. Cullen was almost in tears when she told him that he had to come out of retirement again."
Robin glanced over to where his daughter was chatting with Panne, Gaius and Yarne across the room, the young Grandmaster looking striking in her Dress Uniform. Say'ri followed Robin's gaze, letting out a disappointed sound.
"I would have preferred she wore a dress," the woman admitted.
"She's just excited about her new position," Robin said with a smirk. "I hear rumour of her being an ambassador now, too."
Say'ri cleared her throat, blushing a little as she shifted her weight uncomfortably.
"It was… the most logical choice," she excused lamely.
"And obviously has nothing to do with the fact it would mean travelling to Chon'sin a lot more often. I got you," Robin said in a mock serious tone.
Tiki and Cherche both had a quiet laugh at Say'ri's expense as Robin could have sworn he heard the woman growling under her breath. As the other two women returned their attention to the dancing couples Robin leaned over to Say'ri.
"Quite frankly, I think it's a brilliant idea," he whispered to her. "Keeping her busy keeps her away from a certain half-Taguel."
Say'ri grinned over to Robin, who shared a conspiratorial wink with her.
Virion and Lucina chose that moment to make their reappearance, the princess breathing heavily and flushed from her exertions. Of course, Virion had barely broken a sweat.
"My dear, would you care to finish this dance with me?" he asked Cherche, bowing and offering her his hand.
Robin rolled his eyes as the pink-haired woman curtseyed and joined the archer back on the dance floor.
"I don't know how he does it," Lucina said once she'd caught her breath.
"You're just not used to using those muscles," Robin said. "Trust me; he uses them far, far more than any normal man should. Him and Inigo both."
The four of them shared a laugh before lapsing back into comfortable silence and watching the other dancers. Lucina reached out, holding Robin's arm and leaning against him as they watched the spectacle, a rare show of public affection for the Princess.
The song finally ended, and the floor began to empty. Chrom moved to a small podium on one side of the room, standing tall and clearing his voice.
"Shepherds!" he called out, and all at once the room went silent. "My staunch allies! My friends! Tonight, we celebrate our victory!"
"And it's about damn time!" Sully called out, lifting her mug of ale high.
"Here-here!" Robin agreed, and the room erupted into laughter.
Chrom held his hands up after a few moments of laughter, grinning ear to ear as the room quieted again.
"I wanted to say a few words tonight," the Exalt went on. "But it didn't feel right. This was my fight, yes; this was all of our fight. But one man led us above me…"
"Oh Naga please don't," Robin groaned, already knowing where this was going.
Lucina laughed at his side, giving him a knowing smile as she removed herself from his arm.
"Robin, if you would like to say a few words?" the Exalt offered, grinning as he moved to one side of the podium.
The room erupted into cheers and clapping, Robin wincing before taking a deep breath and approaching the small stage.
"Chrom, the reason it doesn't feel right for you to be speaking is that you're not drunk enough yet," Robin said loudly as he climbed up onto the stage, to great approval from the crowd.
The Exalt howled with laughter, too, slapping Robin on the back so hard he almost fell off the small stage.
"What can I say?" Robin asked when the laughter died down.
He looked out over his assembled friends and family, meeting everyone's eyes and smiling at them in turn. He fingered the small ring in his pocket for a moment before releasing it, deciding now wasn't the right time.
"I may have given the orders half the time," he improvised. "But honestly, how often did you lot actually follow them?"
More laughter rippled through the room, Robin grinning along with them. He let out a small sigh, growing serious.
"I'm sure word's already gotten out about my retirement," he said as the room fell silent again. "The last four years have been the best in my life. Well, they've been the only years in my life, considering the whole amnesia thing, but hey! I'm not going to split hairs. What I want to say is thank you all. Thank you, all of the Shepherds who stood by me. Thank you, all of the future-children that came back to help us. Thank you to all of the world leaders that gave me entire country's armies to play with. Without any of you, none of us would be standing here tonight, drinking all of Chrom's fanciest booze and celebrating the fact that, in the end, we proved the strength of humanity in the face of certain doom!"
The loudest cheer yet rose up, rattling the windows in their panes and making Robin wince. Chrom clapped him on the back again, nodding in approval from behind him.
"Now, as nice as this is," Robin added once the noise died down, "I want to announce that I'll be picking up the tab tomorrow night at the Drunken Goat near the merchant quarter for some real drinks!"
If the roar before had shaken the windows, Robin was surprised that this time they didn't shatter. Chrom just smiled and laughed behind him, saying something about Robin being about to regret that decision, but he didn't hear it. He was too busy being dragged off the stage by the people that wanted to talk to and drink with him.
Robin grinned to himself as he managed to pick up four mugs of ale at once, carefully navigating the crowded bar to bring them back to the table and his waiting family. All around him the Shepherds and their allies were drinking and relaxing in the casual surroundings, the Drunken Goat being the same place that Vaike had brought them to four years ago when Robin was just getting used to the original Shepherds. Now they filled up the entire bar, two generations of soldiers and warriors, heroes one and all.
"I don't see what was so wrong with my party," Chrom mumbled, feigning at being hurt as Robin placed one of the mugs in front of the Exalt.
"It was a lovely party, dear," Sumia soothed from her husband's side, sipping on a glass of wine.
"I don't see why you made me come tonight," Aversa muttered darkly as Robin plonked a mug in front of her.
"Welcome to the family, Auntie Aversa!" Morgan laughed, once more wearing her casual clothes as she snatched the mug out of Robin's hand before it could even make it to the table.
Aversa and Say'ri both made faces at Morgan's statement on either side of the girl, Say'ri's face falling even more as she beheld the mug Robin placed in front of her.
"Must I… honestly drink this?" she asked.
"Tradition," Chrom said simply, relishing the ale he was drinking.
"You will get used to it," Lucina said with a grin, taking Robin's last mug.
"Okay, hold on while I go and get-" he started to say, cutting off when he noticed a full mug sitting on the edge of the table.
The occupants of the corner booth looked at the mysterious mug for a moment before Robin noticed movement out of the corner of his eyes and spotted Kellam walking away from the table.
Grinning, he sunk down into his seat next to Lucina and lifted up his mug.
"To our future!" he toasted.
"To our future," everyone echoed, raising their own mugs and each taking a deep drink.
Say'ri coughed, nearly spitting the harsh ale all over the table. Aversa grimaced as she placed the mug back down, eying both it and Robin with a certain level of contempt. The other four people at the table grinned at the two women, placing half-empty mugs and one wine glass down.
Someone cleared their throat behind Robin, and he turned to see an entire room full of faces looking at him expectantly.
"Oh relax, I was getting to you lot," he laughed, climbing up on his chair and holding his mug aloft.
"Here's to all of us!" he toasted loudly. "For being so awesome and kicking so much ass over the last four years!"
"To us!" the entire bar echoed, lifting their individual drinks before the revelry began again.
Robin shook his head, grinning as he stepped off his chair and re-joined the others at the table.
"So a school, huh?" Sumia asked him, grinning excitedly.
"Eventually," Robin nodded. "After we get out and see the sights a little. It'll be nice to travel without an army behind me for a change."
"Have you put any thought into where you're building it?" Chrom asked over his mug.
"Flavia's offered me a nice fort in Eastern Regna Ferox," Robin said. "Aversa's going on ahead with a few others to get it ready."
"Because Naga forbid I get to do any travelling," the sorceress muttered darkly into her mug, making Robin laugh.
"You don't like people, why would you want to travel?" he asked with a grin. "Besides, this way you get first pick of classrooms and offices."
Aversa grumbled into her mug, seemingly somewhat mollified.
"She's going to be a teacher?" Chrom asked incredulously.
"Battle and Applied Magics," Robin said proudly. "Lucina's on-board too, as my fencing instructor. And I'm still trying to poach Frederick as my riding instructor."
The blue-haired woman at his side nodded, blushing a little as Robin beamed at her.
"Yeah, good luck with him," Chrom scoffed.
"It's going to be so great!" Morgan said excitedly. "I'm gonna help him come up with curriculum and everything!"
"Aren't you going to be a little busy, dear?" Say'ri asked.
"We have an entire boat-ride to Valm for me to work on it!" Morgan pointed out undaunted.
Robin and Say'ri both let out a moan, the ex-tactician actually letting his head fall to the table.
"I hate boats," he groaned.
"I hate water," Say'ri agreed, taking another long sip from her mug.
Aversa let out a cackling laugh, grinning at Robin.
"All of a sudden I am glad I'm staying here," she chuckled.
Robin rolled his eyes, and the group descended into a comfortable silence. Sumia was the one that broke it, looking over to Robin questioningly.
"So… if you don't mind me asking… but… did you ever figure out… when you killed Grima you didn't…"
"Stay dead?" Robin asked her, cutting right to the point.
He shrugged, looking to Aversa. Both she and Tharja had sat working with him on various theories when he'd woken up, coming up with nothing in the end.
"Honestly, we don't know," he sighed. "It could be any number of reasons. Maybe I'd absorbed enough of Grima's essence on Origin Peak to maintain my own life-force. Maybe I'm a lot fitter than the other me was at this age. Maybe a certain Dark Mage forgot to remove the hex that stops me from taking my own life. We're not entirely sure. I think it has something to do with the timing when Chrom killed the dragon, but I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, though. Libra says I'm healthier than ever, so all's well that ends well."
"Yes, and now we have to spend the rest of our lives hearing about how he 'slayed the dragon'," Aversa sighed.
"Actually, Chrom slayed the dragon," Morgan pointed out brightly. "Dad just killed the dragon's avatar."
"Yes, thank you for clarifying that," Aversa deadpanned.
Morgan just smiled brightly, completely missing her aunt's sarcasm.
Robin just grinned and shook his head. Here, sitting with him, was everything that was important to him. His past, both his own and his future self's in the shapes of Aversa, Say'ri and Morgan, currently all discussing the finer points of their respective teaching styles; his present, in the form of Chrom and Sumia where were laughing at the conversation going on next to them; and his future, in the form of the woman sitting at his side, holding his hand beneath the table.
He took a deep breath, grinning from ear to ear as he stood up.
Putting two fingers in his mouth he made a high-pitched whistling sound, catching the entire room's attention again as he reached into his pocket.
"I've got one more thing I forgot I needed to say!" he said in a clear voice.
Turning on his heel the ex-tactician looked down at Lucina, a curious look on her face as she stared back up at him.
"Lucina," he started, taking one of her hands in his. "You were with me from the very beginning in one way or another. You've been at my side this entire time, you've saved me from myself and taught me so much over the course of these last few years. I can't imagine my life without you, so…"
The crowded bar let out a collective gasp as Robin dropped to one knee, presenting the princess with his mother's old ring, cleaned up and reflecting the torchlight in the bar on its gleaming surfaces.
"Lucina, will you marry me?"
The entire room held their breath, silence looming as Lucina blinked in shock. After a moment that stretched on long enough to make Robin sweat, she let out a laugh and accepted the ring.
"What took you so long?" she asked, leaning forward to kiss him.
"Of course I will."
The Shepherds all roared their approval, surging forward as one to congratulate the happy couple.
Robin just grinned and bore with it as he was pulled back up to his feet.
It would be sad to see this life end, but his new life was just beginning.
And he couldn't wait for it.
Another mug of ale was shoved into his hands, making his grin widen.
Perhaps he could wait one more night, though.
THE FINAL FREAKING AUTHOR'S NOTE
This epilogue was just supposed to be a bunch of happy little vignettes; nothing serious. This was just meant to be a little fun, a little closure. It wasn't meant to be spectacular, just some fluff to round out the story with.
I did it! I finally did it! Ha ha ha! YES! Invisible Ties is over! After more than a year, after writing four full novels worth of story, after all the trials and tribulations and blood and sweat and tears, IT'S FINALLY OVER! I genuinely don't know what to say. It's been so long, I never thought it would end. I'm tearing up here…
Obviously I should say my thanks now. Thanks go to (in no particular order): my baby brother for getting me started on this path; without him, I never would have even posted the first chapter on this site. Massive props go out to Dane Namor for giving me the most unbiased feedback, which ultimately helped me improve my skills as a writer in both the realms of fanfiction and my own original work immensely. X the Reaper, for reviewing literally every single chapter since this story's inception. bronze andromeda shun for leaving the very first review on this story. Every single person who at any stage offered constructive criticism or made a suggestion for the story, especially for Part 4. AdvanceStrat for editing chapters 53 through 63 (and doing such a damn-good job). RedwinGardner, LoveGlutton, DulcetRequiem and BlindingDarkness52 (just to name but a few) for making me feel like a big-shot author this entire time (even though I'm not).
Now, Ramix; for editing during the initial re-write debacle around chapters 27 – 33, and then for helping me finish the story from chapter 63 onwards, you get your own special thank you line. I've said it before, but without you, this story would have been taken off the site when I originally fell flat at the end of Part 2. EVERYBODY THANK RAMIX. Because Naga knows I'll never be able to thank him enough for what he did for not just me, but every person who's enjoyed this story.
Most importantly, though, I want to thank every single person that read, reviewed and enjoyed over the last year and a bit. All of you, this wouldn't have happened without you.
Many places I have been, many sorrows I have seen, but I don't regret, nor will I forget, all who took that road with me.
- metallover, 2014
AN2016: So it's been more than two years now since I finished this story. I look back fondly on it, and to say that the experience changed me would be no understatement. Previous readers may have noticed that I've finished rolling out the updated and edited version of the story, too. The changes were a little more subtle than I'd intended originally, but that's okay. It's amazing what a difference one little sentence here and there can make. At this point, two years later, I've decided to let sleeping dogs lie. It's time I moved on. Or so I say, but I'm still working on the sequel story Future's End, where I finally use the Future of Despair DLC stuff… Check that out through my bio page! I've also started working on a Fates novelisation, too! A Song of Dusk and Dawn, updates whenever I can be bothered.
Make sure you check out my podcast and YouTube channel, links are all on my bio page! You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter, too, if you want. Again, check my bio page.
Anyway, thanks again, guys! Trust me when I say, I'm nowhere near done with Fire Emblem fan fiction! You've all been awesome, and I hope you'll continue to read my work for years to come! Nagaspeed to all of you!
- metallover, 2016