Grima's back, two years ago
"Nikat what are you doing!?"
Nikat staring at Grima, his robes ripped and torn. His black armour had become just dented scraps of metal clinging to his body. The Arcthunder tome in his hand, charging in power, electricity licking his armour as he prepared to delivered the final blow to his weakened counterpart.
"I am putting an end to this here and now…Panne…please."
"What are you doing Panne? Get out of the way!" Panne, Morgan and Yarne stood in front of Chrom. The wounds were a second thought as they barred the way from the Commander, refusing to let him through. Their faces in grim determination, tears welling up in both Morgan's and Yarne's eyes.
The anguished roar from both dragon and man. Grima's mortal vessel was burning, his skin blackening as he continued to scream. Flesh burning away as bone was exposed to the air, before he could not stand it any longer. Whatever remained dissipated in black smoke, covering the descending dragon as it dived towards the rising ground.
"Chrom, thank you for all you have done. Tell the others that I am sorry. This was the only choice." Nikat said, refusing to show anything but happiness and pride to his angered friend. You know this is the only way. You'll forgive me when we meet again.
Nikat turned his gaze to his eldest child, reassurance and love flowing through his face as he lost feeling in his legs. He did not dare look at his body. "Yarne, I won't break my promise. Not to you or your Mother. I will…just be going away for a while." Nikat could not see his face, but watched as his body shuddered from the tears threatening to burst forth.
"Morgan." She jumped at her name. "You are brilliant. You will surpass me sooner than you think. I hope your skills would never be needed after this. Too much death has already happened. I hope this gives you peace." Nikat could hear her whisper repeatedly, don't go, don't go.
"Panne…" He started, but was cut short when her voice shattered his farewell.
"Don't you dare say goodbye to me!" "Your life belongs to me, Nikat you will pay your due to me. No matter how long it takes for you to come back to me." Panne did not turn toward him. She knew that if she saw him now, the tears would never stop from the image of him dissolving before her becoming etched in her mind.
"I love you..." The whisper was carried on the wind, his body dissolving into dust as he disappeared.
"Nikat…" Tears streamed down her face, collapsing to her knees as Naga teleported the Shepards off the falling dragon.
Little Chambray's arms twirled back and forth, trying to stand upright without falling. His ears flopping against his body as he teetered within arms' reach of his father. The smiles on their faces showed the true joy he had earned in this era of peace.
Playing with a small toddler did not require armour plates and sharp objects. Nikat shed the clothes that became almost a second skin and replaced them with a cotton white shirt and a comfortable pair of pants. Not much to do after coming back from the dead. He chuckled lightly to himself just as Chambray tottered backward.
The grass provided some cushioning just as Chambray fell on his behind with a small thud. A smile on his face as he could finally stop moving. The brown shirt and pants that Nikat insisted he wear, not wanting he son to be naked to the world. His long ears reaching down to his tiny shoulders, they twitched. Chambray looked toward the woods with surprise in his wide eyes.
"Nikat!" The curly haired tactician looked up to see the Exalt approaching the cabin through the woods ahead of him. Along with him were two guardsmen who seemed to be uncomfortable being this close to two heroes of Ylisse. They turned their backs and waited at the gate as the old friends had their meeting, as it had become their part of a weekly routine after Nikat returned two weeks ago.
"How you enjoying the new home?" Chrom asked, taking in the newly built cabin for his friend's family. The quaint dwelling was enough for the mixed family, far enough from Ylisstol they will not be bothered, but close enough for visits and company now then.
"Quite nice, tell the carpenters thank you for getting it done so quickly. Take a seat, I will be right with you."
Chrom took a seat in one of the wooden chairs on the porch of cabin, as Nikat picked up the tottering Chambray and carried him back to the home. Nikat settled in the other chair beside Chrom with the little Taguel in his lap as he fiddled with the plain white shirt.
The two friends sat back and enjoyed the weather in silence. The sun shined down on them basking the area with happiness.
"So…" Nikat started, "You wanted to kill me?"
Chrom's face showed the strain of the shame weighing down on his conscious. He breathe in, trying to think of what to say to his closest friend-but Nikat beat him to it.
"There is no need to apologize. I would have done the same thing. A powerful Risen roaming the land is far too dangerous to be left alone." The smile on his face did not reach his eyes, the cold, calculating gaze. Generals saw that look before their plans unravel around them, torn at the seams by his superior mind and will.
"After all you have done for me…for Ylisse…I just turned my back on you. You deserved better than a blade in your back. Gods, I was there when Panne gave birth to Chambray. I would have never been able to look your son in the eye." Chrom's eyes fell to the baby, cooing softly in his father's lap.
"The way Panne looked when I told her that we were going to kill you if we had no choice. It devastated her. I never knew her of all people could look so…broken." Chrom said, his head tilted back on the chair.
Nikat shuddered on the inside. Panne was the strongest person he knew. Part of it was her pride; the other was because she had only herself to rely on till she joined the Shepards. It was that strength that let Nikat make the choice to kill Grima.
"What is done is done. I do not think of you any less for your decision. It was a hard choice, but it had to be made." The response was kind, as Nikat tried his best to take his friend out of the gloom.
"That does not mean I forgive myself for saying-even thinking of it." Nikat placed his free hand on Chrom's shoulder. Warmth from the gesture as Nikat gave him a tight squeeze.
"Chrom, you have been the Exalt for two years now, you are responsible for all of Ylisse. A ruler makes sacrifices for his people." A pause. "The needs of the many out-weigh the few. Besides, I pretty sure Panne will forgive you for it…eventually." Nikat reassured him, warmth coming back to his eyes.
Chambray laid his head against the shirt as he continued to play with the fabric. His eyelids drooping.
"Were you able to learn more about Harl? Panne wants to know what exactly he was talking about that night." Nikat said, changing the subject.
"I had Fredrick do some digging. Turns out he led his drugged servants in the slaughter of multiple warrens across the continent over two decades ago. After the first massacre, Harl used it as blackmail against his men to force them join his "crusade" for the other attacks."
"Those "soldiers" looked pretty young, not to mention inexperienced."
"They were sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. More blackmail by the Ex-Minister. Either join him in his righteous mission, or tell the world of the crimes their families committed when they were still in diapers."
Nikat simply nodded, those people were unwilling throughout the entire night. Most of them did not even know how to use a blade, let alone be able to kill. Made sense with their reactions during the kidnapping and how they seemed reluctant to face the Shepards in a fight. Granted after Valm, anyone with common sense knew better than to fight Ylisse's elite.
"So I take it Harl is having a nice stay in the dungeon?" Chrom chuckled lightly before he wiped the grin off his face.
"Only for another few days. He will then be executed for genocide and rebelling against the Halidom. Before you ask, all the people under his command are doing civil services as reparations to the country. I will never kill innocent people Nikat, you know that." Chrom made sure not to let the man interrupt him by answering the obvious question.
Nikat sighed as he laid back in the chair, placing a hand on Chambray's back to keep him from falling off his lap. The toddler long gone off in dreamland, head against his father's chest.
"Oh and I am making you my chief advisor." Chrom mentioned.
Nikat would have sprung up and out of the chair had it not been for Chambray in his lap.
"What in the blazes?" He struggled to keep from raising his voice. No one wants to deal with a child woken up early from their nap.
"Ylisse does not need a tactician against a few bandits every now and then-but I need someone who is not afraid to say no to the Exalt." Chrom turned toward him, "Besides someone needs to make sure you don't go crazy from reading till the day you die." A smirk on his face, "Or from the swelling of your brain from all that information."
A sarcastic chuckle emanated from Nikat, "I said I would always stand by your side as your friend. Didn't know this would be the time when it would bite me in butt." He rolled his shoulders, carefully not disturbed the sleeping Taguel.
"I suppose for the sake of my own sanity, I accept. Does this mean I have to go to all those stuffy balls with "high-class" society?" Nikat can already see their noses so high up in the air that they could use them to catch insects.
"Only the big ones, the rest of the time you are stuck with me, day and day out, offering your own input. Which I do sorely miss. Most of those nobles just want to lick my boots so they can have a bit more power in court." Chrom said. Both men heard the bushes rustle and look past Chrom's escort that readied themselves for an attack.
The men enjoyed the peace before Panne arrived home. Much like her husband, she stopped wearing armour, though she still kept her beast stone in the pouch around her waist. Nikat did not think she would ever wear something other than armour, she was coming home in a black blouse over her body with a dark poncho. Her eyes met his before she turned her head away, striding forward.
Nikat swore. Is she actually blushing?
She walked past the dumbfounded guards and up to the porch. She saw Chrom, and any chance of a smile on her face disappeared.
"Chrom." A cold greeting with no warmth in her eyes whatsoever. Chrom took it as a sign, and got out of the chair. He dusted himself off and waved a farewell. He knew better that if he stayed longer, Panne would burn a hole into the back of his skull with her eyes, while fantasying the best way to pummel him without killing Chrom.
"I will see you at the castle tomorrow Nikat. Take care." He took his leave.
Panne watched Chrom leave, disapproval written across her face. She has always been stoic, but when you are close it's the small things that give way to what is on her mind. A sliver of a smirk, twitch of the brows and simply the way her eyes take a person in.
That disapproval could be seen in the hardness of her gaze. Panne did not even blink as Chrom left the clearing with his escort.
Nikat sigh could not be heard over the wind rustling the leaves. "Why are you still friends with him?"
"Chrom is also my closest friend and always will be. I can forgive him for making a sane decision-and speaking of friends," He gave her a wily grin. "I did not know it was even possible to get you to put down your armour except for our wedding."
Tinge of blush on Panne's cheeks, but did not back down from her mate's challenge. "I can forgive my friends, no matter what ridiculous trips they plan."
Cordellia and Olivia, to her dismay, had decided to take her clothes shopping. Nikat could not help but to snort as she was dragged out of the home and forced onto the Pegasus's back, her displeasure unheeded. Nikat watched the entire scene and tried his best not to laugh.
Now that Panne was back, it was quite alright to laugh in her face about it though.
Panne's stare caught his merriment in his throat. It softened as she got closer and picked up Chambray and cradled the sleeping child in her arms. She took him inside to his bed behind the oak door of their home.
When Panne returned, she sat in Nikat's lap, the chair groaning with the extra weight. Awkward, but the closeness has become the norm since his return, he wrapped his arms around her waist keeping her firmly where she is.
It is something Nikat happily obliges for reasons that just feel right. The way her body feels so close to his, the forced closeness between the arms of the chair. He never wants to leave her alone again.
Panne lays her head on his shoulder, both of them speaking in hush tones, as if the smallest of noises would shatter the serenity.
"How are Yarne and Noire?"
"They are both fine, except for a few minor burns that are still healing on Noire. Though I think Tharja had planted a few curses on Harl's men that would probably last for the next few weeks."
Nikat shuddered at the thought of Tharja's diabolical musings and the suffering that would come to those poor people. "It's a good thing Morgan came rushing back to Ylisse then, or else she might not have been able to rescue her in the nick of time." He said.
"Morgan tends to have your luck of being at the right place at the right time. Seems like she was only a few hours behind me when I arrived in Ylisstol. She is already planning to leave again and will come by to say farewell."
Nikat nodded his head just listening to her voice. "Morgan is also taking Laurent with her."
His body tensed up, Nikat resisted the urge to jump out of the chair. "I trust both of them to do the right thing, but I don't like it."
Panne simply smiles, "No parent ever likes the idea of their little girl alone with a male. Remember the looks Yarne got from both Tharja and Libra? This is all part of life." Tharja's glowing eyes and muttering whenever poor Yarne passed by her in camp and every morning Libra was praying for the strength not to hurt the poor boy.
The cool shade bathed the couple laughed quietly at the memories of the good times during worst wars in recorded history. The sounds of birds chirping in the forest around echoed around them. Nikat took this moment to ask the question that has been plaguing his mind.
"Can you forgive me?"
Panne lifted her head of Nikat's shoulder and looked him into his eyes. No humor, no mirth. Just a piercing gaze straight into his soul. "Now that you are back, I will never let you do anything like that again." The mood changed between them.
Nikat placed his hand near her face, fingers dancing along her facial lines. Panne never showed others how she truly felt. Her friends and family need to pick apart every expression, every movement and watch her habits to have any idea what she is truly thinking.
Nikat's fingers melted her defenses, the weariness on her face becoming easier to see with every passing second. Her fears she kept buried beneath the hope of knowing that he would come back. He traced his fingers along the lines, feeling her concern for him melt away at his touch.
"I will never leave you or our children alone again. I have a promise to keep to each of you." Panne eyes never wavered from his, Nikat could tell she was listening for his heartbeat, as if to dare him to lie to her. Her face softened, she leaned forward to place their heads together, their hearts in sync. Panne knows he is telling the truth and will never allow him to leave them like that again.
A/N: My first long fanfic is over! That is the most I have ever written on a topic outside of school. Whew. Anyway, just looking at the results of the poll, and thanks to anyone who voted. After I do these here oneshots I am going to take a break from FE. I have had a hankering lately to write about...magical ponies. And it will be be fluff or romantic(in a good way).
I do like reviews, responses and general conversation so just give me a shout. Hopefully, I can get the winner of the poll up within the next week or two, so until next time, see ya.