Fandom: Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Character: Eirika (Seth/Eirika)
A/N: Seth/Eirika Modern-Day AU (Takes place after events of Seven but works just fine as a stand-alone)
Link to Table
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"No no no. You must stand over there." L’Arachel’s voice carries through the hall quite spectacularly. Ephraim, Seth, and Kyle, at the far end of the room, look bewildered as she grabs Kyle by the arm and displaces him about... half a foot. "There! Right there."
My stomach flutters. They’ve already begun decorating for Friday. I can hardly believe it. After all these months.
"Earth to Eirika."
Tana grins at me. "This is just the rehearsal. Imagine what you’ll be like ta the actual wedding."
"So what did you and Ephraim do yesterday?" I ask in a whisper.
"You mean while you and Seth played hooky all afternoon?"
"It was your idea."
"And a good one, wasn’t it? You needed to relax."
"You’re changing the subject," I hiss. At the far end of the room, L’Arachel is still trying to position the groom and groomsmen to her satisfaction.
Tana sniffs. "We had a long lunch."
"And," she drawls, "he finally answered my question."
I grab her arm and spin us both around so our backs are to L’Arachel and the men. "What question? And what does this have to do with the other week? Ehprain skipped out on one of his favourite operas because of you. Spill!"
She darts a glance over her shoulder in Ephraim’s direction. "Well..." she begins in a low tone so that I have to strain to hear her. "I told him that I needed a straight answer on whether we’re seeing each other or not. Because if we aren’t then I need to know in advance because Cormag would need to get a suit to come to the wedding in."
I cock an eyebrow. "So do I need to add Cormag to the guest list?"
A gushy sort of happiness spreads through me as I watch a smile creeping onto Tana’s face. "No, you won’t need to do that."
I laugh and squeeze Tana’s hands. It's while we’re in this pose of girlish glee that L’Arachel turns her attention to us. "This is no time for gossiping, ladies!" she hollers from the other end of the room. Her voice certainly carries well. "Ephraim!" He stiffens. "Go stand by your sister."
"I know, I know," he mutters and crosses the room. Yet as he turns to face us he’s smiling A sideways glance at Tana: she’s smiling too with eyes only for Ephraim.
When Ephraim takes my arm and we rehearse our walk down the aisle, I have eyes only for Seth.
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"I’ve had word from Duessel." There’s an audible intake of breath in the meeting room as Ephraim speaks. "An arrest warrant’s been issued for Pablo."
"Duessel doesn’t waste any time," Gerik says.
Ephraim nods. "The FBI was quite appreciative of information on Riev. I don’t know how you did it, Gerik, but they owe you for that. And so do we."
"All in a day’s work," Gerik says, grinning. He still reminds me of a tiger.
I look at the faces gathered around the long boardroom table: Gerik, Marisa, Tethys, Ephraim, Seth, Kyle, Forde, Franz, Lute, Artur, Innes, Tana, Syrene, and even L’Arachel. All these familiar faces. They should be here to celebrate our wedding– and tomorrow they will be, but today they’ve gathered for reasons far less pleasant.
"There’s a long list of charges, for crimes against Renais Enterprises and Carcino Ltd. but also against Frelia Co."
Kyle looks surprised. "Frelia?"
Innes nods. "I’m afraid so. We only realized after Gerik began his investigation, but there were incursions into our systems as well. It seems that a few months prior to his visit here, he had made attempts to divert Frelia funds into another account, but he wasn’t able to complete the transaction and apparently moved on to Renais afterwards. "
Lute sniffs. "Pablo has some skill, but his code is extremely deficient." Artur’s lips are quirked into a smile as he looks at Lute. "Isn’t that right, Artur?"
"Oh. Yes." He looks embarrassed as everyone’s eyes turn to him. "It’s like a dog leaving muddy tracks all over the floor... though you’d have to know what to look for in the first place."
"Your help’s been greatly appreciated, both of you," Ehpraim says, turning to our two hackers. It’s amazing that so many people, so many companies– competing companies even– have come together like this. Ephraim clears his throat. "He’s on the run now. They’ll catch Pablo– and Riev too for that matter." He looks me in the eyes as he says it.
I let out a deep breath. It’s as if a weight has been lifted from me. It’s not complete. It won’t be while I know they’re still out there, but it’s different this time. We’re safe.
I look across the table to Seth. I catch his eye and he smiles. Tomorrow, we’re getting married.
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When I was a little girl and imagined having a big wedding, I don’t think I ever realized how... chaotic it would be. It looks like mayhem to me with people going to and fro, carrying chairs, bouquets, food, escorting guests, doing security checks. Our security staffers speak into their walkie talkies in clipped tones, keeping an eye out while trying not to look too overawed by some of the better known guests. Amidst the confusion, L’Arachel is perpetually on the move. If I didn’t know better I’d swear there were two or three of her.
Seth is another matter. I think he may be hiding.
It’s not long before I have to start getting ready. I have a hair stylist and a makeup artist coming in and then there’s the matter of getting the dress on. I wish I could see Seth, though. He was so nervous this morning. I don’t think he slept well either. He was up even earlier than normal and went out for a long jog. I know he’d have preferred a small wedding, a reception with only our friends and family. I wish I could have given him that.
"You look perfect!" Tana says as we stand together before a full length mirror.
"Are you sure it’s me? I can hardly believe it..." The gown is a beautiful, shimmering white and crinkles when I move. I have goosebumps as I stare at myself in the mirror.
Tana’s hands are warm on my bare skin as she squeezes my shoulders. We stare at ourselves in the mirror the way we did as little girls playing dress-up. But today the dress-up is real and I have to blink rapidly to keep from tearing up and making a mess of my mascara.
A knock on the door.
Ephraim smiles as he walks into the room and sees us both. He looks very dashing in his tux and it’s hard to miss the way Tana’s face lights up at the sight of him. "Do you two need more time alone with the mirror?" he asks with a lopsided smile. Tana swats him and I just roll my eyes. He grins and then, more earnestly. "You look lovely. Both of you," he adds, glancing at Tana. She looks flushed.
"Do you need a few minutes?" Tana asks.
Ephraim nods. "Thanks." She squeezes his hand and he smiles at her and watches her leave.
I raise an eyebrow. "Flirting with the bridesmaid?"
"I’m flirting with my girlfriend," he says with a sniff.
"Well I’m glad you finally stopped waffling."
He groans. "I know, I know. But this past year’s been so..."
"I know," I whisper. "I... I just wish dad could be here today."
"Me too." I had always imagined my father giving me away, pictured him walking next to me, tall and beaming with pride, giving a nod to the groom as we reached him, and then kissing me on the cheek before handing me off. I miss him every day, but right now I feel his absence more keenly than ever.
Ephraim takes me by the shoulders. "You look beautiful."
He moves as if to embrace me and then stops. "Can I hug you or will I mess up your hair or something?"
"Don’t be silly," I say and wrap my arms around him.
"If I have to give you away, I’m glad it’s to Seth." My stomach flutters at the name. "Because you know," Ephraim continues, pulling back to grin at me, "if it had been Innes I don’t think I’d have been able to stomach it."
"You realize the two of you could end up as in-laws."
He grimaces. "Don’t remind me."
There’s another knock on the door. "Come in." I’m expecting Tana or maybe L’Arachel, and I’m surprised when, instead, it’s Seth.
"May I come in?" he asks, shifting from foot to foot.
"Is everything all right?"
"I–" He glances over his shoulder and then back at us. "Is it possible that I just saw George Clooney?"
"You know..." Ephraim begins with a smirk. "They say it’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding."
"Don’t tease, Ephraim."
"All right," he says with a laugh, slapping Seth on the shoulder, "but remember it’s too late to elope." He winks at me and then leaves, shutting the door behind him.
Seth looks pale and I come closer and squeeze his arm. "Are you okay?"
"Yes. It’s... a bit overwhelming."
"Remember, trophy husbands don’t have to talk. You just need to nod and look handsome."
He smiles then and takes my hand in his. And we fall silent, just looking at on another, taking it all in. He’s so handsome in his tux, more than usual even, and it dawns on me– on us both I think... We’re getting married!
"You’re gorgeous," he says, and it’s only as he reaches out to brush his fingers over my cheek that I notice his sleeves. Cufflinks with a cut sapphire, ringed with yellow and white gold.
I snag his hand and peer at his sleeve. "You still have them," I whisper.
"Of course I do. They were from you." And again he strokes my cheek and the look on his face... That something could be precious to him because it was from me... My heart swells and I squeeze my eyes shut. I cannot afford to tear up. Not now.
"Are you two ready?" Tana calls from outside. "L’Arachel wants to get Kyle and Seth into position."
"In a second," I reply. Seth is shifting from foot to foot again, casting anxious glances at the door. I take his hand in both of mine. "It’ll be all right. I promise I won’t keep you waiting up there for long."
He takes a deep breath and nods. It’s as if he’s donning armour: he straightens his shoulders and his face becomes a mask of calm resolve. He spins to face the door– but then turns back to me and pulls me into his arms. "I love you."
I can hardly breath for how much I love him. I only just manage to whisper, "I love you too."
The room falls silent as I walk down the aisle on Ephraim’s arm. The rows of guests, the photographer, the filmographer, everything falls away except for Seth, standing there at the far end of the aisle. He’s all I can see, and in spite my resolve, his outline grows blurry, leaving me to dab at my eyes.
When we reach the far end of the room, Ephraim kisses me on the cheek and then, with a nod, hands me off to Seth. My heart races as he takes my hands in his and we stand facing each other.
The ceremony is a blur as I stare into Seth’s face. Though his hands, gripping mine, are slick, he’s smiling. Not the small, quiet smile most people are used to, but the glorious, wide smile he saves for when he’s at home. My chest clenches. I can’t believe it. Any moment I’ll wake and this will all have been a dream, an achingly beautiful, perfect dream.
Startled, I glance over my shoulder. Forde. Of course.
And then I smile. People don’t sneeze in my dreams. My fantasies are perfect. In them Seth’s palms are never slick, and he never misses a beat. In my fantasies he doesn’t start as the minister signals us to speak our vows.
Seth nearly keeled over when L’Arachel suggested we write our own vows. He was afraid that anything he came up with would sound like a Hallmark card. We settled on something simple and traditional. He licks his lips and clears his throat before beginning. My heart starts to pound.
"I, Seth Knightly..." He pauses to draw breath. His expression is so earnest that I want to throw my arms around him. Instead, I just squeeze his hands. "Take you, Eirika King, to be my wedded wife. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part." His voice is little more than a husky whisper as he finishes. "And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness."
My hands, clasped in his, are trembling as I look into his eyes and speak. "I, Eirika King, take you, Seth Knightly, to be my wedded husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer..." And here I can’t quite keep my lips from quiriking. I take a breath– I feel giddy, lightheaded almost– and go on. "In sickness or in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness."
He’s grinning. My darling, ever-so-serious head of security, is grinning like a schoolboy. But then so am I.
The minister asks for the rings and Kyle steps forward. He reaches into the inside pocket of his jacket and removes a pair of plain, gold bands. Platinum seems to be popular right now and rose gold as well, but we were both adamant about old-fashioned yellow gold rings. Our names are engraved on the inside of them, but they’re otherwise quite traditional.
I take the ring from Kyle and reach out for Seth’s left hand. My heart flutters as I slide the wedding band onto his finger. "With this ring, I thee wed."
Seth’s hand squeezes mine before he turns to Kyle and takes my ring from him. My breath catches in my throat as, for just an instant, he fumbles and it almost slips out of his grasp. That, too, would never happen in my dreams. Reality is far more memorable. I know it won’t always be easy. It may be the day to day trials and tribulations that grind people down, but even so I believe we’ll see it through. Even when things aren’t perfect, I want to remember what matters to me. Because I know how easily it can all disappear– in an instant.
The tang of blood, stale smoke in a cheap hotel– that moment haunts me. I lost my father. I could have lost Seth. But it also reminds me to be grateful for the gift I’ve been given, this life together that we’re beginning. I want this more than anything.
Seth takes a breath to steady himself and then turns to me, the ring safely clasped in his hand now. I hold out my left hand. He takes it in his. I can hardly breathe as he slips the gold band onto my finger. "With this ring, I thee wed."
I can barely hear over the pounding of my heartbeat.
"–vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife."
As the room thunders with applause, we wrap our arms around each other and his kiss... his kiss is better than perfect.
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Wrapped up in a fluffy wine-coloured bathrobe, russet hair still damp from his shower, and smelling faintly of Irish Spring soap, Seth is a sight to behold on this glorious, sunny morning, as we sit amidst our throughly crumpled sheets, eating breakfast in bed.
It was fairly late when the reception ended and we finally got up to our hotel suite. And of course we stayed up quite a while after that. A wonderfully long while. And then to sleep in... Ah! Heaven! Our flight doesn’t leave until late this afternoon. We planned it this way so we’d have time to relax this morning and I’m glad we did. It feels decadent to be eating bacon and eggs and syrup-laden pancakes at a quarter to eleven in the morning.
"Have some of this," I say, holding out a bit of pancake skewered on my fork. "It’s real maple syrup, not that fake stuff." I feed it to him and giggle as some of the syrup drips off at the last second onto his chin. Before he can wipe it away I lean in and kiss the sticky syrup off his skin.
As I brush a kiss over his lips, I feel his hand against my cheek. My heart skips a beat at the smooth touch of his wedding ring. Drawing back, I take his hand and for a moment I stare at it, the shiny gold band on the fourth finger of his left hand.
When I look up, he’s smiling. "Come here," he says, opening his arms to me.
I almost knock over my plate of pancakes as I move towards him, but the sticky disaster is narrowly averted and then I’m lying back against his chest. He takes my left hand in his and intertwines our fingers so that gold meets gold.
Sitting here with him on our first morning as husband and wife... it means more than I’d expected, and I wish– like every cliche in every love story– that we could stay like this forever. I suppose in the romances Tana reads, though, no one’s stomach ever starts to rumble in a moment of such touching intimacy.
I was hoping he hadn’t heard, but he chuckles. "You should finish your pancakes before they get cold." And then he reaches for a piece of bacon. Sitting as close as I am to him, I can hear him chewing it.
So I set my plate of pancakes on my lap and finish our eleven o’clock feast, our left hands clasped all the while.
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"You’re where?" Tana, over the long distance line, sounds more than a little surprised.
"No, Wisconsin," I say, without sarcasm.
"There’s a Rome in Wisconsin?"
"Apparently." It’s the first time I’ve been stranded in an airport at this time of night. I glance over at Seth who’s on guard by the luggage. Arms crossed over his chest and scowling at anyone who approaches, Seth is very much in head of security mode– even if he’s in pair of slacks and a T-shirt instead of his suit. "Our plane had mechanical difficulties and they rerouted us here."
"Are you all right?"
"Yes. We had a bit of a scare but it’s nothing too serious. I’ve been trying to call Ephraim all evening." Ephraim made me promise to call when we got in. We may be twins, but he does so love to play at being the big brother. And I love him for it.
"His cell phone died this afternoon."
I knit my brows. "How do you know that?"
She giggles. "No reason."
"Tana, what have you two been up to?"
"Nothing much. Do you want to talk to him. He’s right here."
"Oh is he now?"
"Hi." He sounds sheepish.
"Hello, brother dear."
"We went out. And then we came back here for a movie."
His tone turns serious. "Are you okay?"
Tired as I am, it takes me a moment to realize he can’t see me nod. "We’re fine. Just a little worn out. I just wanted to let you know what was up so you wouldn’t worry. We’re stuck here for the night." I heave a sigh. We should be the Bahamas right now, sleeping soundly under silk sheets to the sound of ocean waves lapping at the shore. "They’re supposed to put everyone up in a hotel but there’s been some holdup."
"You should’ve taken the jet like I said."
"It’s a moot point."
It’s hard to believe that it was only this morning that I was eating pancakes and feeling so utterly relaxed. Well.. Technically I suppose it was yesterday morning now. I’ve never been much of a night owl and even when I was in college, staying up past midnight was the exception to the rule. I feel drained. "I should go," I tell Ephraim. "I’ll call you tomorrow when we get there."
"All right. Take care."
I hang up and go back to Seth who’s still glowering at our fellow passengers as if they’d somehow engineered this debacle for the sole purpose of stealing our luggage. I squeeze his arm. "At least we can say we spent a night in Rome during our honeymoon."
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Our second day here is proving to be far more interesting than our first. After flying in to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas (which I’d like to visit properly while we’re here), we took a chartered flight to our little rental island... and then we had them take us right to our room so we could both collapse into bed for a long afternoon nap.
Today is better.
After a good night’s rest in a gorgeous four-poster bed– curtained no less, like something out of a movie– I’m feeling so much better. We had croissants and jam and fresh fruit this morning for breakfast and then had a proper tour of the place. It has everything we could possibly need: tennis court, billiard room, Jacuzzi, gym, and a private beach just off our villa. By the time we were up and out it was too hot to take a jog so I’m making use of the treadmill while Seth, being rather more adventurous, is off snorkelling. But even running in place seem exciting when you’re doing it while staring through a glass wall at an endless expanse of rolling turquoise waves.
And yet my thoughts keep turning to other matters, to Pablo and to Riev. They could be anywhere. They could be lounging on a beach somewhere not so far away– Cuba perhaps or Haiti. I want so much to put it all behind me, but how can I when it never seems to end? Riev was one of the masterminds behind the attack on my family last year. We thought he was dead. What if the others are alive too? Valter... but no, Seth shot him. I was there.
All at once I realize I’m no longer jogging, I’m running. I don’t even remember changing the settings on the treadmill, but I’m racing as if for my life... and getting nowhere at all.
I step off the treadmill and concentrate on my breathing for a minute until my heartbeat begins to slow. In and out. In and out like the turquoise waves. It’s been less than a year. I need time, that’s all.
I start, spinning at the sound of footsteps.
But it’s only Seth and I chide myself for the way my heart has leapt into my throat. We’re safe. Of course we’re safe.
He’s still holding his snorkelling gear and dripping wet. You’d think he’d feel chilled in the air conditioning, but he’s smiling– grinning even. He looks so thoroughly delighted that I find myself smiling in return, my fears drifting away with the tide.
"You had fun?"
"I saw a ray and an angelfish, even a puffer– the one with the spines."
"How was the water?"
"Warm. And very clear. Perfect for snorkelling."
I squeeze his arm as he stands there, his swim trunks dripping seawater onto the floor. He forgot to towel himself off. It’s so unlike him, so rare that he gets this excited. "I’m glad you had fun."
"It was amazing. You should come with me next time," he says, brushing a damp strand of hair away from his eyes. "I can show you how– it’s not difficult."
"I don’t know, Seth... You know I’m not the world’s best swimmer."
"I’d be right there with you."
I smile– wanly, I realize– because as much as I love Seth, I know his being there can’t stop bad things from happening. I wish it could– or at least I wish I could believe that. As a child, he seemed like a super hero to me. The suit and tie were his disguise, his armour. The night he was shot I saw what was under that armour and it was flesh and blood and bone.
The drops of seawater that cling to his skin catch the sunlight and he glistens. Seth doesn’t need armour to shine.
"Eirika?" he says again, sounding worried as I wrap my arms around him.
"It’s nothing. I’ve been fretting, that’s all."
He squeezes me tightly. I draw back a moment to press my lips against the pale scar on his right shoulder and his skin tastes like sea salt. If even Seth can relax so completely, can find such child-like joy during our time here, then surely there’s hope for me yet.