A/N: This is my first ever attempt at doing a one-shot, so please read and review for me. I hope that I did your request justice, ajani's apprentice. My most sincere apologies one last time.
If Morgan had one word for her ally's steed, it would be 'untamed'. She had tried to ride Minerva to try and see things from the perspective of the rider so that she could bare it in mind when she next sext sent Gerome and his mother on a scouting or combat mission.
The result had left her battered and bleeding, which explained her current destination. She was muttering mild curses about wyverns and those that rode them when she entered the medical wing to see her Aunt Lissa already working on her husband, Vaike.
"Mornin'!" Vaike called cheerfully as Lissa touched her staff to a long gash on his left arm. "How's the kid of Teach's star pupil?"
"Hi, Uncle Vaike," Morgan mumbled in reply. It seemed like even her jaw had suffered her little experiment. "Good morning, Auntie Lissa."
"Good gods above!" Lissa gasped as she beheld Robin's daughter. "Did you get mauled by a bear or something?!"
"Close, but no," Morgan groaned as she sat down on a cot. "I had a little altercation with Gerome's Minerva today. Gods, how does he ride that thing?"
"I'll kindly ask you this once not to speak of Minerva in such a manner," said a cold, familiar voice. Morgan stiffened slightly as she saw Gerome in his signature black armor and mask standing in the door. Vaike, having been helaed, decided to take his leave from the growing tension in the atmosphere.
"Just once, huh?" Morgan challenged.
"Yes, once," Gerome nodded. "Next time, you will find out what a wyvern considers to be an 'altercation', Morgan."
"Are you threatening me?" Morgan said quietly.
Gerome's lips twitched upward for less than a second before he said, "No. I am informing you what will happen on Minerva's behalf. She told me that you very rudely interrupted her nap and set her saddle on backwards when you attempted to fly her. It made her very agitated."
"That's the understatement of the millennium," Morgan muttered under her breath as her aunt moved to start working on her arm, where the wyvern had bit her.
"Shhh…" Lissa grinned as she spoke just loud enough for Gerome to hear. "Gerome there is very sensitive about his little Minnervykins. Do try to be nice to the poor little man." The two of them shared a giggle, much to the masked rider's discomfort.
"I'll be taking my leave, then," he said as he turned to go.
"Not so fast, young man," Lissa said as he was about to leave. "You're staying right here until I'm finished with Morgan. Then we need to have a chat."
"I'm afraid I'm busy at the moment, so this will have to wait, your highness," Gerome replied over his shoulder.
He was about to disappear around the corner when Lissa called out, "All right, but if I find out you were lying to the princess of Ylisse, I'm going to have a word with your mother and her Minerva about it."
Morgan had to hide a smile as Gerome quickly appeared back in the doorway. "I believe my appointment with the mask polish can wait," he said as he moved to stand at attention by one of the empty cots.
"That's what I thought," Lissa said a trifle smugly. She finished running her staff over Morgan's body and said, "There. You'll still be sore for a couple pf days, so just stick to the books, okay?"
"That's what father taught me to do," Morgan replied with a sad smile as she left the room. "See you later, Gerome."
"Hmph," was his only response. No sooner had Morgan left than did he receive a stinging slap across the face from Lissa, much to his shock and surprise.
"What in the-"
"What is wrong with you?!" Lissa demanded. "That girl is having a rough enough time as it is, and she doesn't need you making it any worse, do you hear?!"
Gerome tried to regain his dignity by snapping, "She is going through what all of my friends and I wen-" Another slap echoed throughout the medical wing of the castle.
"It is so not the same!" Lissa shouted, nearly screeching. "You all got to be reunited with your parents because you knew you were capable of coming back! Morgan has been waiting for nearly six years without knowing if her father is capable of returning!"
"You think that I lived without uncertainty?" Gerome growled, his temper close to breaking. It was only the sense of loyalty to the crown instilled in him by his father that held his tongue now.
"I know you did!" Lissa snapped. "But you don't now! Morgan still does, and she may for a very long time, if not for the rest of her life! So don't pull all this 'you don't know what it's like' crap on anyone in the Shepherds, especially on Morgan! She knows pain better than anyone here, except for maybe my family!"
"Then why all the smiles and rainbows?" Gerome retorted.
"You're not the only one that hides behind a mask, Gerome," Lissa replied. "Only hers still allows for clear vision." Those words, more than anything else that Lissa had said so far, cut to his heart. He was silenced in shock.
Seeing that her word had finally reached him, Lissa nodded and started walking out the door. "Might be time for you to swap masks," she said.
Morgan was deep in study when she heard a light rap on her door. "It's unlocked," she said as she scribbled some notes on a map. The door opened hesitantly to admit… Gerome?
Morgan nearly dropped her pen in surprise as she recognized the wyvern rider. "What are you doing here?" she asked.
"I am… here to apologize," he said, clearly uncomfortable. "There is something that Minerva said that I feel I should relate to you. I was too angry to do so earlier."
"Oh?" Morgan said with a raise eyebrow. "And what is that?"
"She say that despite the fact that you saddled and rode her like the village idiot, you never once hit her or mishandled her in any way. For that, we both offer our apologies; I for insulting you, and she for biting you."
"Apology accepted," Morgan said with a tired smile. "I suppose I should have gotten permission first, huh? Sorry about that."
"Dust in the wind," Gerome said as he waved a hand in dismissal. "But I must admit that my curiosity is piqued. Many grown men would hesitate to come within a mile of a wyvern, and yet you had the courage to not only get close enough to touch her, but to attempt to ride her. I would like to know why?"
Morgan shrugged as if they were discussing the weather. "I wanted to see what it was like to be a rider," she said in a matter-of-fact tone. "I wanted to take into account these feelings and sensations for when I drew up a battle plan involving riders. That way I don't have a romanticized version of the flight stuck in my head while I plan our movements."
"That is… most impressive, actually," Gerome said honestly. "But why go to all the trouble? We've not had a war in many years, so why plan for one now?"
"Something Dad told me," Morgan replied. "Always stay vigilant, even in times of peace. Calm is only shattered when you are unprepared for the worst."
"Your father was a good man," Gerome said quietly.
"He is the best," Morgan sighed. "Sometimes I wonder if he can see me, wherever he is. If he can, I hope that he's proud of me."
"I'm sure he would be," the rider said as he placed a reassuring hand on Morgan's shoulder. "All of our parents have expressed their pride in our accomplishments. Sir Robin would be no different."
"Yeah," Morgan nodded, her hand going up to cover Gerome's. "Thanks for saying that." Suddenly, they both realized where they hands were, and they jerked backwards in surprise.
"Erm, yes," Gerome said nervously. "Well, if you are truly interested in discovering what it is like to ride on the back of a wyvern, I would be willing to take you on a ride. If it benefits our tactician, I think I can make an exception to-"
"Are you trying to smooth-talk me?" Morgan teased. Unfortunately, Gerome didn't get the joke.
"What?!" he gasped. "No, no! That was not my intention at all! I apologize if I-"
"Gerome, I was kidding," Morgan giggled. "Although I would love to take you up on your offer in a couple of days. Right now I'm still kind of sore from my first attempt."
"Oh," he said, deflated. Then he shook his head in exasperation. Despite the past six years of growing up without a father, which had forced her to mature rapidly, Morgan still had her wild streak. Then again, considering who her aunt was, that wasn't a huge surprise.
"Speaking of being sore…" he muttered. "How is your mother, her Grace?"
Morgan scratched her blond hair a moment while she thought of Emmeryn. "She's doing pretty well, but her head still aches when she tries to remember anything from before her fall. Heh, I guess it just runs in the family, huh?"
"Lady Emmeryn and Sir Robin's cases have been explained," Gerome mused. "But not yours. Do you still have no idea how you lost your memory?"
Morgan shrugged at that. "Not really," she replied. "Lucina thinks that it may be because I forced myself to forget, but I don't see why that would be when I remember everything about my father. Why would I want to forget everything but him? I mean, yeah he's my hero, but… Oh, forget it, I'm rambling. Sorry, Gerome."
"Not a problem," he said. "But perhaps I should take my leave. It is getting late, and I do not wish to keep you from your rest. Good night, Morgan."
"Good night, Gerome," she replied with a tired smile. "And thanks again for the offer to ride Minerva."
"Of course," was the reply.
As soon as he had left with the door shut, Morgan sighed to herself. "Even if he is a bit of a grouch, he really can be a nice guy. I almost kinda wish that he had been trying to smooth-talk me. Heh. Wouldn't that be something?"
A week later, Morgan decided that she quite liked wyvern riding. When she had tried to take the reins, Minerva was a wild, bucking, brute of an animal. Under the guiding hands of Gerome, Minnervykins was a smooth, gentle ride, unless she was making a dive or a tight turn. But even then, Morgan felt safe on the back of the dragon.
"This is amazing!" she shouted to be heard over the winds. "I can't believe you get to do this all the time!"
Gerome was glad then that she was riding behind him, because it would have been impossible to miss the huge smile on his face that broke out for a moment. When he had his face under control, he turned back slightly and said, "Yes, well, I would be lying if I did not say that this method of travel did not have its… thrills."
"You got that right!" Morgan giggled. "So where are you taking me?!"
"That, my lady, is something that you will have to wait to see," Gerome said as he turned back to face the sky. "But it will not be long, I promise."
"What, are you taking me on a date? Morgan teased again.
"Something like that," Gerome muttered under his breath.
"What was that?! Speak up!"
"I said you're crazier than a bat!" Gerome said with his voice raised. Morgan said nothing in response, and Gerome hoped that her feelings weren't too injured. Putting aside his worries, he shouted, "Hang on!" And then he urged Minerva into a dive.
Morgan felt her stomach rise into the back of her throat as the earth hurtled towards them. She couldn't help but feel a small thrill of fear that added to her exhilaration, despite the knowledge that Gerome knew exactly what he was doing. It was simply human nature to be afraid of falling from such a great height.
Minerva flared her wings- at what Morgan thought was several seconds too late- and hit the brakes, causing them to slow dramatically before landing gently on a hilltop. Morgan declined Gerome's offer to help her get down, and immediately regretted it when her legs collapsed like wet noodles underneath her weight.
She fell into the soft grass and lay there, staring at the blue sky above. Gerome soon entered her field of vision, with what she could have sworn was a slightly smug look on his face. "You should have taken my offer," he said simply.
"Shut up," she muttered. "I never end up like this on a boat, so why on a dragon?"
"Wyvern's are much more unpredictable to those that are not holding the reins than those on the deck of a ship- for the most part," her friend replied. "The unsteadiness should not take very long to pass if you do not have an issue with motion sickness."
Morgan nodded and this time, when the rider offered his hand in assistance, she let him help her up. She still felt slightly unsteady, but her head was cleared enough to stand on her own, provided she didn't walk around too much.
Looking around at the open area, she had to ask, "Where are we?"
"You don't know?" Gerome asked.
Morgan glanced at him for a moment, then looked back at the surrounding countryside, trying hard to recall if she had been here before she'd lost her memory. But nothing came to her. "I'm not remembering anything," she said as she brushed her blonde hair out of her face, result of a slight breeze.
"I didn't think so," Gerome said neutrally. "According to a map Lucina showed me after she questioned her father, this is where Sir Robin was found when Lord Chrom recruited him into the Shepherds."
Morgan gasped slightly and looked at the area again with renewed interest. "I… Why did you bring me here?" she asked hoarsely.
"This is where your father began his life, according to his own words," Gerome replied. "And yet you've always avoided coming here. I was wondering why."
Morgan was silent for a long moment, but Gerome did not move. The man was patient, if nothing else, another tribute passed down from his ever-wary father. Finally, Morgan spoke again in a voice so soft, it could have been mistaken for the breeze itself.
"Father once told me," she began, "That if we expect to move forward in life, we should never try to visit a past that cannot be reclaimed, because it doesn't matter. All that we should look to is the future, where we still have control over what our lives become."
"So you avoid your father's rebirth site," Gerome finished. "You don't want to come here because it will only dredge up memories that cannot be changed." Morgan nodded, and Gerome sighed.
"Morgan," he said in a low voice. She turned to look at her ally- only to see him remove his mask and place it on the ground. She gasped, for in all the years that they had known him, none of the Shepherds had ever seen him take off his mask.
"I, too, avoided this place to avoid pain in my heart," he said as he straightened. "I would tell you, if you would be willing to listen."
"Yeah," she said immediately. "You listened to me, so it's only fair that I return the favor, ya know?"
"Hmm," he murmured. "I never wanted to come here because… Well, in my timeline, this is where my father and mother were laid to rest." Morgan was no less than shocked to hear this.
"How…" She asked.
"Southtown was the last stand before the Risen assaulted Ylisstol," was the reply. "Grima was coming from the south, having finished enslaving the Einherjar in the southern Outrealm portal. Father and Mother headed the defense themselves, as the last of the Shepherds, other than Lady Lissa, who was the acting Exalt at the time." Morgan could almost see the flames raging in his eyes as he recalled the worst day of his life.
"No one survived the attack," he said quietly. "And when Ylisstol fell, and Lady Lissa passed on the title of Exalt to Lucina just before her own demise, we happened to retreat in this direction. Brady and Noire found their bodies, and helped me bury them, right here in this hill. After that, it was just us twelve. And you know the rest."
For another long moment, there was only silence, save for the wind and Minerva's heavy breaths. Then: "I guess you and I aren't so different, are we?" Morgan said. "We both hide from our pain, and avoid that which will cause us harm within, all to show the others that we're just as strong as they are."
"Something like that," Gerome agreed.
"That, in it of itself, is a sort of strength," said a new voice. Well, not entirely new. Morgan and Gerome stiffened as they both heard the voice of one thought to be dead.
They turned as one to see a hooded figure standing before them, his features hidden by the cowl of his dark purple-and-gold cloak. But there was no mistaking the familiar tones, somewhat echoed in the throat of his own daughter.
"Father?" Morgan whispered, hardly daring to believe it.
"Sir Robin?" Gerome was equally astonished. "Are you…?"
"Morgan, I'm home," robin said as he held out his arms. "And I missed you."
"Father!" Morgan cried, running into his arms, the tears flowing freely, her sobs echoing across the grass. "You're back! Father!"
Even Gerome could not hide his smile now, and since he had placed his mask on the ground, there was no way he could hide the shine of a tear in his eye as he watched father and daughter reunite after six long years. Minerva seemed to share in the excitement, for she let out a triumphant roar that rang for miles around.
"Gerome, it's good to see you," Robin said as he continued to hold his crying daughter. "That look suits you. But do you think you could tell Minerva to tone it down? I've just come back from the grave, and I really don't want to have to fight off some angry farmers."
"My apologies, Sir Robin," Gerome replied. "But a Wyvern is her own master, and I am a simple rider."
"Was that a deflection tactic I just heard?" Robin grinned.
"I think so, Dad," Morgan laughed. "He's been around me too much, I guess."
"Has he now?" Robin pretended to glare at the young man. "Do I need to ready my Forseti tome if he starts trying anything funny?"
Both of the younger warriors turned beet red, but neither one of them could think of anything to say in response. Seeing their discomfort, Robin thought about toying with them, but he then he remembered something.
"Oh, Gerome?" Robin said. "I have a little surprise for you."
"I ran into some people you know on my way back here," he said with a small smile.
"People?" Gerome was confused. "What do you mean? Everyone I know is dea-"
"Hello, Son," said a familiar voice. Gerome's jaw dropped as two shimmering figures appeared on either side of Robin. One was in full armor, befitting his station as a Great Knight, the other one in lighter attire, suited to flying through the skies on her dragon.
"And hello to you, Minerva," said the pink-haired woman as the wyvern sniffed at her experimentally. Instead of letting out an ear-splitting roar, the she-dragon instead let out a strange warble and bowed her head.
"You've taken good care of her," the ghost of Cherche said to her awe-struck son. "Thank you so much."
"And you've done a magnificent job protecting the Exalt, like I taught you to do," Frederick said with a smile. "You do us both proud, Son. We could not ask for a better child than you, Gerome."
"F-f-father…" Gerome croaked out. "Mother… I… How…?"
"We don't have time to say all that we would like to," Cherche said as she raised a hand to forestall him. "For now, it will have to suffice to say that we love you, Gerome. And that as we fought our last battle, we thought of you, waiting for us back home. We are sorry that we broke our promise to you, Son."
Gerome shook his head, tears flowing down freely now, unable to hold them back. "You owe me no apology," he said firmly. "You did your duty, and that is why I revere you so. Thank you, for giving my friends and me another chance at life."
"You have made a good life here," Frederick said. "And that is all the thanks your mother and I need. …I'm sorry, but we must go now. But before we do, do you remember what I taught you? The code of our family?"
"He who bleeds beside me with the same cause in his heart is my brother," Gerome recited. "And I shall not abandon my brother, no matter my own plight."
"Very good," Frederick nodded as he and his wife began to fade. "Remember what we taught you, and you will live the life that we wished for you here."
"Good-bye, Gerome, Minerva," Cherche said. "Keep looking out for each other."
"We will," Gerome promised as they faded from view. Then he fell to his knees, and cried quietly. "Goodbye, Mother. Rest well, Father. Naga knows you've earned it."
Morgan looked up at her father, who nodded and gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze. She moved from her father, and knelt beside her friend, placing a hand on his shoulder. He seemed to crumble underneath the gentle touch, for he began to cry louder, mourning the parents that he had lost, one final time.
Robin's return was marked with an impromptu party thrown by the Shepherds, although Chrom warned them all that there was going to have to be a formal occasion later to officially recognize the Hero of Ylisse back.
"As long as there's plenty a' this stuff at the next party, the Teach ain't gonna complain!" Vaike bellowed as he downed another mug, shooting a daring look at khan Basilio, who was now semi-retired. The bald warrior grinned and accepted the challenge. Lissa shook her head in exasperation at her husband's antics.
Robin spent most of the party with his wife, Emmeryn, who was seen shedding tears of happiness for most of the night. Morgan was also there along with Chrom's family, including the Paradox Children and their younger counterparts.
The younger Lucina- renamed Lillina- looked on coolly as the younger Owain and Cynthia- otherwise known and Caeda and Oswin- bombarded 'Uncle Robin' with a number of questions concerning his 'heroic deeds'. The man didn't seem to mind, though, so the little princess refrained from dragging them off by their ears, as was her wont.
Looking over at the cerulean-haired princess, Robin couldn't help but tease Lucina by saying, "I can see the family resemblance between you two. If I didn't know better, I'd say you were twins." This earned him a good-natured slap on the arm from his future niece.
Morgan looked on all of this with a smile, overjoyed that her family was finally reunited. But it wasn't until the party was nearly over that she finally asked herself, "Wait… Where is Gerome?"
Excusing herself from the main hall, she quickly found her friend out on the balcony, looking up at the stars. "Hey there," she called quietly.
"Good evening," he replied, not taking his eyes off the sky. Morgan still found it hard to believe that he was no longer planning on wearing his mask, and seeing him without it made him look more… vulnerable.
"Whatcha thinkin' about?" she asked as she stood next to the tall young man.
"My parents," he replied. "About what they said. About how I should try to live the life that they gave theirs for, and what that entails."
"What does that entail?" Morgan asked curiously.
"For Mother, I'm certain it entails keeping Minerva happy," Gerome chuckled slightly. "And Father, ever the knight, I'm sure wants me to keep serving House Ylisse. Both goals are something that I would be happy to spend my life accomplishing."
"What about you own goals?" Morgan said, playfully shoving his arm.
"Like you can talk," Gerome said with the ghost of a smile. "All you've ever wanted was to become your father's equal, or surpass him. To become a fine tactician." He smiled to take the sting out of his words.
"Yeah, but that's my goal, not his," Morgan argued. "Come on, you have to have something you want to do besides ride around on Mnerva killing bad guys all the time."
"What can I say?" Gerome smirked. "I'm my father's son."
"You got that right," Morgan muttered.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Gerome sounded offended.
Morgan let out a hefty sigh right before she said, "Do I have to spell it out for you? Just like Sir Frederick, you can be so attentive to the craziest things, but when it comes to the big stuff, you completely blank out." Then she grabbed him by his jacket and kissed him on the cheek, causing him to turn redder than a tomato.
"Does that make things clear enough?" Morgan said as she let go of him.
"Perfectly," the rider said as he cleared his throat nervously. He straightened his jacket.
"Well then?" Morgan said, tapping her foot. "Come on, anybody else would have seen that coming."
"How?" Gerome was baffled.
"Let's see…" Morgan began to raise a finger for every point she voiced. "First of all, since when does a tactician care that much about how her rider's feel in combat? Second, why do you think I agreed to ride Minerva after that first terrifying episode? Third, for the love of Naga, how do you not understand that when a girl teases you, she is flirting?!"
"Oh," was all that Gerome could manage. Before Morgan could say anything else, though, he said, "Well to be fair, you're kind of putting me on the spot here."
"Ugh, I should have had Inigo talk to you before I came out here," Morgan groaned.
"Gods above and below forbid him giving me any advice on how to interact with women," Gerome scowled. "I'm still wondering how in the world Cynthia puts up with him."
"Hey, hey!" Morgan said, snapping her fingers in front of his face. "Stay focused here! You know how I feel. What are you going to do with that?"
"Erm…" Gerome's collar suddenly felt very tight, and he wished that his mask would hide his reddening face. "I… suppose I find… that I also harbor some affections towards you?" He finished weakly.
"That's it?" Morgan sounded disappointed. "No romantic lines or singing or poetry? Man, Severa totally misled me here."
"You were taking relationship advice from the daughter of Cordelia?" Gerome sniggered.
Morgan turned slightly red, and said, "Well… I mean, she and Owain seemed happy together, so I figured… Oh, forget it. If you don't feel the same way about me, I'll just- Oei!" Her exclamation was drawn out when Gerome grabbed her by the arm and drew her into a hug.
"I'm sorry, Morgan," he said. "I'm just not very good with this kind of situation. Like father, like son, eh?" She thought she could hear a smile in his voice. "But I meant what I said before. You are very different from me, but that is not a bad thing. I find it… endearing. So to answer your question, no, that is not it. I am very fond of you, Morgan, and I would love it if we were to spend more of our time together."
Morgan grinned and wrapped her arms around the brown-haired young man tightly. "I guess Severa knew what she was talking about after all," she giggled. Gerome said nothing in response, not wanting to risk ruining the moment.
From the shadows, a dark-robed figure looked on with a smile. He patted an old green tome in his pocket, knowing that should anything or anyone make his daughter cry again, he would be there for her. Gerome and Minerva, too.