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Bittersweet Wishes

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It's his wedding day. Mother and Father, Leo, Camilla, Elise, Corrin, everyone's there to celebrate. His bride will be coming down the aisle to him any moment.

"I'm proud of you, son," Father whispers. He's aged gracefully, the wrinkles in his skin and the graying of his hair only make him look more dignified. He recovered well from that strange sickness, just like Mother did years ago.

"Thank you, Father."

All of Nohr and the Hoshidan royals are gathered for the occasion. His bride, though not of noble blood, is a beautiful and brave woman who won the hearts and the approval of his family. Even those who frowned and turned up their noses at her have learned to at least keep quiet about their dislike...mainly due to their fear of angering the future Queen of Nohr.

And she'll be an excellent Queen of Nohr someday. Mother and Father still live, but the throne is more than secured when their time to leave this world comes. Not that Xander or his bride are in any hurry to succeed them. Father's rule is steadily improving Nohr, now that he's made peace with King Sumeragi. Hoshido has been very generous with their resources.

"All rise," the minister says, "the bride will enter now."

"Good luck, Xan-"

-"der. Xander..."

Pain shoots through his body, the happy scene disappears and he smells blood. Camilla looks down at him, her face pale and her eyes red from crying. Laslow's still crying, Peri's too angry to form words.

"Where...what..."

"We didn't think you would wake up," Camilla says quietly, and Xander remembers the arrow piercing him, falling from his horse, Peri screaming. His vision is still blurry and he feels sick.

"You're alive, though. Sakura, Elise and Lady Hinoka's retainer say you'll be fine as long as you rest," Camilla continues. "We won't leave your side." Too tired to say anything, Xander tumbles back into sleep.

The boy has his mother's hair, but everyone agrees he looks just like Xander did as a little boy. He's growing like a weed, getting bigger and more alert every day. Camilla dotes on him, Elise spoils him with new toys and Leo reads to him every day.

"Books are just as important as swords," he says. Xander rolls his eyes at Leo being Leo as usual, even though he does agree and so does his wife.

"Your child, once you have them, will be the most well-read in all of Nohr," she teases. Leo turns scarlet; Xander knows he's had someone on his mind lately but he won't say a word. They'll meet her during the summer celebrations, he promises, but that doesn't stop the curiosity of the whole family and their retainers.

"There's no reason Siegbert shouldn't be as well," Leo says.

"Just as long as he still has enough time to play!" Elise says. She's carrying another toy in her hands, at this rate Siegbert will have more toys than even she had growing up and Xander wonders if maybe all three of them spoiling her at once may not have been for the best.

Still, as long as Siegbert grows up happy, safe, healthy and well-mannered he supposes he doesn't mind.

Mother and Father are completely enthralled by Siegbert. Mother cries tears of joy that in the end she survived to see her son become a father, and Father sings his praises as well as Xander's.

"You make me prouder every day, son."

"Thank you, Father. I-"

"-think he's waking up again." Lady Hinoka and Elise this time, Elise holding a bowl of broth and Lady Hinoka placing a damp cloth on his head. Xander obediently allows Elise to check his wounds while Hinoka feeds him. He's quiet, docile, almost as if he's sure this is the dream and he can't wait to wake up again.

He sleeps and wakes many more times that night, though, leaving behind the world of what could have been. Father alive and well, Mother still here, no war, no violence, Lady Mikoto and Lord Sumeragi. He meets Leo's future bride, watches a young man steal Elise's heart, Camilla settle down.

He watches his son grow surrounded by peace and family. He watches his siblings make their way in the world, watches Corrin become an ambassador to both kingdoms to keep the peace strong.

"This is the end for me, Xander, but don't mourn. I've lived a long life...and I'm happy I was able to see you and your brother and sisters thrive."

"Father..." He swallows. He knew it was coming, a man can only outrun age and death for so long. Even someone as strong as Father had been until the very end. "Thank you. For everything."

"I'll always be proud of you, son..."

"I love you, Father."

He awakens the next morning with tears in his eyes, blinking them back as Elise comes to check his wounds and Corrin brings him breakfast. A little voice tells him that this reality is more than enough, but the images from his dreams still linger and he tries to hold onto them.

"It's time to let go, Xander."

Camilla squeezes his hand and leads him from the room, where Father has just drawn his final breath. He fights back tears as he follows her, the door shutting behind them with a soft click.

Time to let go.

"Goodbye, Father."

Elise blinks, tying off the last of the bandages.

"Xander?" He shakes his head, smiling sadly.

"It's nothing." Elise, Leo, Camilla, Corrin, everyone else. This is real, this is enough, it's time to stop trying to revive the past. For the sake of their worlds, he must move forward.

The next time he falls asleep, he doesn't dream at all, and when he awakens next the visions have almost faded.