Well, since the New Year's fic, this one has just broken my new record for longest one-shot. This is the first real angst fic for RWBY I am posting, so it will be slightly different from the rest. I hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: I do not own RWBY.


Transiency

"Ruby-!"

Weiss lunged to her left with a hasty jump as the massive sickle of Crescent Rose swiped at her, just barely avoiding lopping off her arm. She clicked her tongue as the deleterious blade moved out of range. "Watch where you're aiming that thing, would you?" she chided harshly, understandably so.

"Sorry!" Ruby brought her free hand to her lips in half the motion of a prayer and bowed her head. "Are you okay?"

"This time..." Weiss snapped, cautiously strutting back to her leader's side. She let out a long sigh. "But gracious, Ruby. I swear, one of these days you're going to kill somebody with that thing. And it won't be a Grimm." Weiss sheathed Myrtenaster with a swift motion. "That's enough for today. I've have enough harrowing experiences," she quipped.

Ruby's dejected eyes did not faze her this time, and Weiss stalked past her partner as she made way back to Beacon's school building; even after more than a year of being together, Ruby's puppy-like facial expressions had never changed.

The two of them had been training relentlessly together in the forests on Beacon Academy's grounds every day they could, a sort of routine they had decided on many months ago in order to attempt perfecting their fighting styles. Considering they were stuck with one another now, and had been for quite some time – despite how convenient it may have been for the two lovers – they had never ceased their assiduous endeavor to improve their combat expertise.

Naturally, each girl's individual skills were more than proficient on their own, but when put together their techniques left much to be desired. Judging by appearance alone, Ruby's bulky scythe with its wide swing and long-ranged blade was anything but a compliment to Weiss' slender, more precise rapier.

However, through persistent training practices implemented by the heiress herself, be it sleet or shine, the two of them had worked around their disadvantages, doing everything within their power to harmonize the juxtaposition.

After being together for so many months, their bodies had grown accustomed to the other's movements during battle, their ears particularly perceptive to their partner's voice above all others. However, while their militant skills had been shaved and perfected enough to get them out of most battles ultimately unscathed, there had been more than enough close calls Weiss would rather not recap.

As she stalked away at present, she was hardly surprised when she heard that pitifully apologetic voice call out to her again.

"Weiss, I'm really sorry. Just one more try. Please? I'll get it right this time."

Weiss felt herself scoff, irked that she had long-since lost the ability to refuse the other girl.

"I'll hold you to those words."

The heiress spun around again and trekked back toward Ruby, dead leaves crunching angrily beneath her heels. Weiss drew her rapier, lifting the cold handle to her right cheek as she crouched into her trademark stance, envisioning the fanciful pack of Grimm before her. Ruby bent her knees, leaning forward as she swung Crescent Rose around her body, readying it behind her. She glared up at their invisible adversaries, the ones that always came to assist them in their practices.

"And..." she muttered.

Weiss held her stance, still as stone as she awaited her leader's order.

"Now!"

Weiss let her Dust sprinkle down to encircle her feet, propelling herself forward in a single second. Within the time it took her to get out of range, Ruby swung Crescent Rose horizontally, lopping off the heads and limbs of whatever beasts that would have been near enough.

Weiss felt the rush of the scythe behind her as she darted forward, striking out to pierce the skull of another fantasized Grimm. Tightening her grip on Myrtenaster's handle, she twirled in a circular motion as she extended her weapon, spiraling like a rotating blade with deadly precision that sliced every throat in her path. The whole motion took her a total of six seconds, and she counted, waiting.

3...2...1!

The heiress never stopped moving for a second as she cast another glyph, leaping up into the trees just as Ruby hooked her scythe in the very spot her partner had previously been standing.

Bark cracked beneath her boots as Weiss landed against a tree, already poised for her next attack. She waited the split second for Ruby's head to turn to the left - her direction - waited for the longer strands of her lopsided hairstyle to dangle in midair, until they were just even with her nose...

Weiss launched herself forward, rapier directly before her as she poised herself in aligned trajectory, one she could follow even with her eyes closed if need be. She leapt over Ruby's shoulder, landing on her leader's blind side, defending her back; she had three seconds to fire her shots before Crescent Rose came around again.

As Weiss saw the gaping sickle in her peripheral vision, she gathered her weight and jumped, clearing the blade like a hurdle before charging off to strike a combination of blows onto any remaining beasts.

Meanwhile, Ruby raised her weapon above her head, bringing it down into the earth before her enough to make a denting ripple. Her body was easily see-sawed up into the air, and she fired a round of bullets to bring her scythe up with her.

Weiss had a full ten seconds to do as she pleased during the time of her partner's jump. The heiress dashed to her right, stabbing a flurry of invisible opponents as she went. She straightened her arms to the sides for a split second, solely to enhance her balance.

She then drew Myrtenaster's handle to her chest, hard, calculating eyes pinpointing her final line of fire. She launched, jumping upward, arching a half circle, her skirt fanning out around her knees in a flawless ring of blue. Weiss landed, knees bent as she waited the final second before-

"Yaaaaah!"

Ruby's triumphant battle cry rung through her ears as the younger girl twirled her weapon's blade in a slicing motion just before she landed. Weiss held her breath as the blade swung toward her.

Too close!

At the last second, Weiss stumbled backward before she leapt, feeling the rush of the scythe's tip brushing against the soles of her boots. She staggered as she landed, but quickly regained her posture as Ruby's final attack came to an end. Crescent Rose rested with its tip slightly buried in the earth, its master locked in her stance as she caught her breath, her red cloak still flowing in the disturbed air that had not yet caught up to her.

Weiss let out the breath she had been holding, sheathing her rapier quickly so the blade would not disclose her slight trembling, still able to feel the cold metal of the scythe beneath her feet. She had half a mind to go off on yet another lecturing tangent about her partner's haphazard fighting style.

But when Ruby turned to look back at her with that stupid, lovable grin covering her lips, the quips died on Weiss' tongue.

Ruby retracted Crescent Rose to its most portable form, sheathing it within seconds before she bounded over to Weiss; it was times like these the heiress truly believed her partner was part Faunus, as she could clearly see the perked ears and wagging tail outlined around her.

"I did it!" Ruby cheered. "Well, we did it, of course, but I mean I didn't mess up!" She slid in, nudging Weiss' ribs with her elbow. "Just like I said. I didn't mess up."

Weiss longed to snap at her and inform her that she had - in fact - messed up, and there was hardly room for adulation. Ruby's landing had been off course, causing her to land precariously close to the heiress, and her swing had been leveled far too high.

But when Weiss looked into those silver eyes, eager for praise - her praise - she relented.

"Yes. Well done." Weiss' voice was clipped as she brushed past her partner. "But we've still got a ways to go before our chemistry is in unquestionable equilibrium."

Ruby was at her side again in an instant, whining. "What?! What do you mean by that? I think we had perfect chemistry just now!"

Weiss sighed in exasperation. "Ruby, I could tell you every single thing wrong with the performance we just gave, but I'd really rather not, right now."

"No! Tell me what I did wrong!" Ruby demanded. "I want to know how I messed up this time-"

"Ruby!" Weiss groaned as she grabbed the brunette's collar and pulled her into a furious kiss, the kind the heiress used when she wanted Ruby to shut up; Weiss had realized she preferred this method over shouting the harsh words anyway.

Ruby's lips released a slight squeak as her mouth was crushed against Weiss', but she instantly closed her eyes, obeying the heiress' demands, kissing her back softly. When Weiss knew she had gotten Ruby's attention, she too, made the kiss more gentle before she let her go. "Just... stop talking."

Ruby nodded, the remnants of her trademark grin pleading to break through her blush.

Just then, a light flurry of white snowflakes began to descend from cotton clouds, and the two of them looked up.

"Come on," the heiress sighed. "Let's get back inside."

As Weiss twirled on her heel to head back to the school's campus, Ruby's fingers found their way into her palm; at least there was one aspect between them where their chemistry was infinitely flawless.


That evening, Ruby received orders from Professor Ozpin himself. She was summoned to his office to be briefed on the situation.

While her partner was absent, Weiss showered and changed into her sleepwear before sitting on her bed, propped up against the headboard. She had dried her wet hair, pulled the blankets up to her, so why was she still shivering?

With Yang in the room, winter nights were hardly an issue for any of them, but Weiss found that tonight she could not stop the insistent shaking no matter what she did.

Even after being together for well over a year now, the four girls had never altered the style of their room very much; the bunk beds remained, still as haphazard as ever, only the sisters hardly ever utilized them anymore.

Weiss found she could only ever stop the anxiety when Ruby crept into bed beside her at night.

Blake had been reading as she waited for Yang to emerge from the shower, but the Faunus girl had quickly noticed something was amiss with her teammate.

"Weiss, you should try to rest. If Ruby's been gone this long, you know that means we have a mission tomorrow."

"I'll rest when I'm tired," Weiss snapped.

She was not tired. Just anxious, and a little colder than usual.

Golden eyes flicked up from the pages they had been scouring to look to the side, finding Weiss with posture erect, eyes narrowed toward the door; she always got like this whenever Ruby took too long to return.

Blake did her best to try and comfort her.

"She'll be back soon," she offered.

Weiss said nothing as she continued to wait, curling her stiff fingers into her palms.

Yang stepped out not long afterward, giving herself an exaggerated shake like a wolf that had just crossed a river.

"Whoo-wee! It's a bit chilly tonight, isn't it?" She crossed the room and tossed her towel onto her bed. She was about to head for her partner but stopped when she caught sight of Weiss huddled beneath her covers with her knees pulled in. "Well isn't this a rare sight? Feelin' a little cold now, are we princess?"

"Shut it." Despite her tart comment, Weiss knew Yang would approach her anyway, and she did.

The blonde placed a hand on her shoulder, emitting a faint amount of heat that spread through Weiss' body. It was a silent action, but it was Yang's way of offering support; Weiss tried to appreciate that as the warm sensation traveled through her chest.

She shivered again.

Yang frowned when she felt her quiver and was about to say something.

However, when Blake's ears twitched upward and she glanced toward the door, they all knew that Ruby had returned. A few seconds later, their leader opened the door and stepped in, a bit of a perplexed expression on her face.

Although the face Ruby was displaying made Weiss a little uncomfortable, just the fact that her girlfriend had returned was enough to have her sigh in relief.

"Welcome back," Blake said. She put aside her tome and looked expectantly to her leader.

"So what's the verdict, lil sis?" Yang wondered.

"Well, nothing much different from the usual..." Ruby reported as she speedily darted into the bathroom, changed into her sleepwear and darted back out all within the course of speaking her sentence. "Just another pack of Beowulves causing trouble near town."

"Oh." Yang shrugged.

"And possibly some Ursai."

"Oh..." Her sister groaned. "Wait, 'possibly'?"

"He says the reports aren't that clear. It could be a bunch of them or just a few. Either way, he thinks it's best to send us out just to be on the safe side."

"Well, I guess I can't blame 'im," Yang chuckled a little smugly. "We are one of his best teams, after all." By this point she had gone to Blake and moved from Weiss' side, leaving a kindling heat on the heiress' shoulder that faded all too quickly.

But that was alright, because Ruby was here now.

As she sat down beside Weiss, the brunette let out a sigh, the sigh of a girl who had a daunting task weighing on her shoulders but would never dare to complain about it; this was what she had dedicated her life to, after all.

However, Weiss allowed a small smile to grace her lips when she was reminded that being a successful huntress was not the only thing Ruby had committed herself to.

"Hey, you okay?" the younger girl wondered. She pressed her shoulder against the heiress' and let her lean there for whatever support she needed.

"Yes," Weiss replied, offering a small smile. The bout of shivers finally ebbed away as Ruby pressed against her, sharing her soothing presence.

"Okay..." Ruby reached out to cover Weiss' hands in her lap, brushing her fingers over her girlfriend's cool skin. For a moment, she allowed herself to get lost in the scent of distant winter ponds before speaking up. "We should get some sleep, you guys," she announced.

"Right!" Yang gave a salute from where she had sat beside Blake. The Faunus girl put away her book before flicking off the beside lamp.

"Goodnight," she said.

The four girls laid down beside their respective partners.

Yang draped her arms around Blake's shoulders as the latter curled herself into her partner's collar. The blonde kissed her forehead before resting her chin between two warm, furry ears.

Ruby positioned herself in a similar fashion, gently hugging Weiss to her chest. She felt the heiress sigh as she snuggled into her; only when she was beside Ruby did she ever truly feel warm.

Weiss lifted her head a little to kiss Ruby's cheek. The brunette's eyes opened wide; this was quite an unusual thing for Weiss to do, even after they had been together for so long. But she asked no questions, returning the kiss with equal affection.

"Get some rest," Ruby murmured, rubbing Weiss' shoulders.

"You as well, you dunce," the heiress muttered.

Ruby chuckled. "Of course!"

By this time, Yang's wheezing snores and Blake's contrastingly quieter breaths already filled the room.

"Goodnight, Weiss. I love you."

"I love you, Ruby."

Weiss nestled closer.

Before very much longer, Ruby had fallen into slumber, her body curled protectively around her partner. Weiss sought out that warmth even further as she finally closed her eyes.

But she failed to suppress another shiver.


The air was frigid, painfully so.

Weiss winced every time she inhaled deeply enough to feel her lungs fill with it. She could taste the uneasiness in it. Taste the anxiety.

But it took her until the team had trudged through half of the Emerald Forest before the heiress realized the unsettling feelings were not mutual amongst her teammates; they were hers alone.

She had awoken that morning with a foreboding seed taking root in her stomach, digging into her bones, so tangled she had hardly brought herself to eat before they were dispatched on their mission.

The heiress' eyes had been flicking from side to side all day, like timid prey being stalked by a predator she could smell rather than see.

Ruby had noticed, Weiss knew she had. Even now, she kept close to her partner's side, several inches closer than usual. Five, actually, Weiss knew that much; she was always keeping an eye on Ruby as well.

Yang and Blake walked on ahead, oblivious to the slight discomfort their teammates were displaying. Yang seemed to be the most relaxed of them all, walking with her hands behind her head as she mumbled to herself about the ridiculousness of the mission. "Ursai infestation," she spat distastefully for the umpteenth time. "Why is it always the damn Ursai?"

Blake moved in closer beside her partner, offering her a crooked smile to reassure her. The Faunus girl's ears were perked high as she listened for sounds of the danger they all knew to be lurking within the black trees.

Snow crunched beneath their feet as the four girls continued to walk, flurries drifting about them as they proceeded deeper into the heart of the abnormally quiet forest.

If for nothing else, Weiss was glad it was snowing. It gave her an excuse to shudder.

Her usual confidence was lacking today, and it irritated her distressfully because she did not know why.

Ruby watched her partner carefully as they walked, noticing the excess quiver in the white puffs that billowed forth from her pale lips. Suppressing a shiver, she inched closer still to her partner. She could not bear to see Weiss so conflicted, so on edge, jumping at every sound of a cracking twig even though they were all caused by her own companions.

"Weiss, what-" Ruby's query was cut off as Blake shot her arm out to her side, effectively blocking Ruby from taking another step. "Blake?"

"They're coming," she muttered, reaching for Gambol Shroud.

The dissonance was almost tangible.

Yang brought her arms down, cocking her fists before her.

"How many?"

"..."

Blake let out a long breath, shaking her head, her ears already twitching on their own volition as they were overwhelmed with distant sounds of guttural howling. "Too many. And it's not just Ursai, either. Wolves, too. And Borbatusk. Tajitu..."

"What the hell?" Yang's voice was steady, but dripped with anger, leaking with just enough anxiety to raise the others' hackles; when something made Yang nervous, they all knew it was trouble.

But the blonde did her best to cover it up, quickly sweeping the three of her teammates into a tight embrace, a pre-combat ritual they had long-since grown accustomed to. "Welp, it's our mission," Yang declared as she let them go. "We've got to take care of it."

"Right." As uncertain as Ruby felt, she had to speak like the leader she was supposed to be.

She stole another glance at her partner, not forgetting the shiver she had felt rack Weiss' body just seconds before amidst the embrace. But Weiss merely drew her rapier, silent as death itself, raising her chin indifferently against the biting cold wind that carried the ravenous battle cries of her enemies.

Ruby took Crescent Rose into her hands, extending the scythe to its fullest form, the black metal reflecting the contrasting white of the snow surrounding them. She caught sight of her teammates reflected in that blade, which proved to remind her why she was here right now, why she was fighting.

The stilled air gradually began to grow heavier, more frantic, more threatening with every passing second. The instinctive swiveling of Blake's ears toward the source of the sounds told Ruby they were completely surrounded, and she bit her lip.

But she could not hesitate in front of her team. She needed to be strong; for them, if for nothing else.

"Alright," she said so they could all hear her. "Let's do this."

"Right," they all replied, just like always.

So why did it send a trickle of ice down Ruby's spine?

The sounds of the approaching Grimm could be clearly heard by the unaided human ear by now, their hungry growls shaking the air. The four girls were crouched low, prepared to strike, back-to-back, scouring every direction.

All but one.

A tornado-like blast of air disturbed the fading stillness as the sky turned black. The forest shook from an almighty shriek, announcing the presence of a Nevermore, yet another beast they had not been dispatched to fight.

"Shit."

Ruby heard Yang's curse as she stepped closer to Blake, her fingers entwining around her partner's, preparing to drag her away at any given second. Ruby sought out Weiss, but just before she could glimpse the pale, peach-tinged hue of her cheek, the forest around them exploded with Grimm.

"Go!" Ruby shouted.

She hated to give the order when she was not yet certain how badly outnumbered they were, but she had no choice.

She trusted they had all obeyed her command as Ruby herself shot forward into wave of beasts. Savage claws swiped at her, missing every time, being met with the blade of her weapon before they could get close enough for her to smell their rancid breath. Ruby twirled, her mind registering how many there were, their present locations, as well as their anticipated targets.

Unfortunately, the Grimm were not wholly mindless creatures; the majority of them knew better than to engage Ruby's massive scythe, deciding that Weiss' thin rapier would yield much easier prey.

Normally, Ruby would not worry so much about her partner, and instead she would focus on the blood-red eyes of her adversaries. But now, she could not stop her gaze from peeling away from the beasts, seeking out that familiar white attire.

She was relieved to see that, despite her misgivings about the mission, Weiss was not allowing herself to be labeled as an easy target. The heiress maneuvered herself with skilled execution that spoke of her many years' worth of training. Dust peppered the air around her in an assortment of colors as she darted about in all directions, performing many of the moves she had practiced with Ruby the day before.

She's fine, Ruby noted, taking a grain of solace as she watched her partner briefly.

But it was only a few seconds before the next Beowulf was upon Ruby, and she was forced to look away from her team.

For a few minutes, the air was shattered with deafening howls and short-cut yelps from the monsters as Team RWBY retaliated against the creatures' intended ambush. Blood sprayed the snow and trees, limbs littering the forest floor - one for every bullet shell that landed beside it.

From her peripheral vision, Ruby could see Blake's darker outfit highlighted against the snow as she skillfully swiped Gambol Shroud down the spines of the beasts and around their throats. She could also hear, rather than see her older sister as Yang let out shout after shout of triumph with each opponent she crushed under her flaming fists.

But it unsettled Ruby how Weiss was the most difficult for her to pinpoint in all of this, small and pale as she blended in with the natural backdrop of the wintery forest.

Ruby swung Crescent Rose in a circle as an excuse to search the area for her partner, and she cleaved off a few heads as she went. She found Weiss using her Air Step a good distance above her teammates as she attempted to tackle the circling Nevermore that blocked out the sun, leaping up to slice at its throat as it rained blood down to the world below.

Certain that Blake and Yang were also a safe distance away, Ruby allowed herself to get a little wild, her inhibitions forgotten. She cocked the trigger of Crescent Rose's sniper rifle and shot the onslaught of Grimm between their eyes; her marksmanship was not nearly as elegant or precise as Weiss', but it got the job done.

Before very long, corpses of all types of the attacking Grimm lie scattered about the area. Ruby hooked her scythe around the tusks of a boar before yanking them clean off, leaving the screaming, soulless beast to collapse in a pool of blood.

A rush of air then directed her attention back up to the enormous bird that kept trying to pick them off from the sky.

"Watch out!"

Weiss' warning alerted her teammates of the oncoming attack, and they all briefly sought shelter within the trees as the Nevermore shot an array of deadly feathers down at them. The attack managed to impale several of the other beasts, sending the remaining ones blundering off through the underbrush in retreat.

Ruby let out a sigh of relief as they were given a small blessing, and all four girls were allowed to focus their attention on the Nevermore.

Being at a natural disadvantage in the arial battle that hovered too far above the trees to perch there, Ruby, Blake, and Yang all relied on Weiss for their vantage points. The heiress conjured up a powerful spell that split her glyphs into four, one for each of them, elevating them in midair.

Yang launched herself through the air and onto the beast's back, grabbing one wing where the bone met its spine and began to sizzle it, the pungent scent of burnt flesh filling the air instantly.

At the same time, Blake lassoed Gambol Shroud around the other wing, slicing a few feathers as she did so before pulling with all of her might. She struggled against the creature's brute strength as she tried to slow the flapping motion enough to immobilize it; combined with Yang's burning, the beast let out an ear-shattering bellow that shook the forest as its wings failed and it began to plummet.

Assuming the other two could take care of themselves, Weiss now focused her abilities on Ruby, preparing an agility spell. Ruby readied her scythe, staring up at the Nevermore as it fell toward her. Within seconds, she felt the spell beneath her feet propel her upward and Ruby jumped with perfect timing, soaring up to meet the massive bird's throat with her blade and sheave it clean off as it fell past her.

She continued to climb into the air for another brief moment before she began to descend once more. She could not spot her partner, but she felt Weiss cast her another circle to ease her landing.

Ruby jumped back into into the snow of the forest, lifting her head to survey the area. Many trees had been destroyed in the battle, and the bodies of the disintegrating Grimm stained the ground with leaking crimson.

Not a moment later, Yang and Blake were let down beside her from white circles that slowed their landings. Ruby breathed a sigh of relief only when, at last, the heiress herself dropped down from the broken treetops. She was panting heavily and Ruby winced when she saw the blood that sprinkled her white dress, albeit it was not hers.

Ruby retracted Crescent Rose as she stepped up to her partner, lightly placing her hands on Weiss' shoulders as she gently pressed her lips against hers. This was something Ruby often did, as she knew it calmed the heiress down.

Surely enough, Ruby pulled away to find Weiss breathing less raggedly after having something else to focus on for a moment.

"Are you okay?" Ruby looked her over with calculating eyes, making absolutely certain there were no wounds on her body.

"I'll be fine," Weiss sighed, briefly checking Ruby in return.

Blake and Yang stepped up beside them, the former putting away her weapon as the latter dusted snow off her clothes.

"That sure as hell wasn't what they told us to be expecting." Yang frowned. "If it was any other team, they would have been in trouble."

"I don't think I've ever seen so many different types of them together at once," Blake commented, sounding a little troubled.

"Exactly why we should get back and report it," Ruby decided. To be truthful, that was only half the reason she wanted to go back; the other half was standing before her on trembling legs as she sheathed her rapier.

The others nodded, and Ruby knew she saw a flash of relief in Weiss' eyes; clearly the thought of returning home quelled whatever had been troubling her all morning.

The four of them seemed to fancy the thought of returning to Beacon rather than pursue another fight, and they all set out back the way they had come, moving quickly, not deliberately trying to draw any attention this time.

But before they could travel so far as half the distance they had covered on the journey there, Blake's ears flicked as the low rumbling of assorted beasts sounded from nearby. She flashed a glance at Ruby who quickly shook her head.

"Keep going. If they reach us, then we'll fight, but until then we should try to avoid it." When she was certain the others were not looking, she chewed her lip nervously, feeling a shudder run through her. Please let us make it home safely!

Not a second later, the trees erupted with more writhing black bodies, bone masks of all sizes charging directly at them.

"Damn it!" Yang shouted as the tail of a Tajitu whipped past her face, she immediately jumped back, staying close to Blake, but her sister was now separated from her. "Ruby!"

"It's fine!" the leader shouted back. "We can split up! Just try to get back to the school!"

Yang growled in frustration when the snake poised its head in front of her and she furiously smashed her knuckles into its jaw to sever it. Blake defended her partner's blind side, lashing out with her blades to repel the advancing Ursai.

Yang spat out several more curses as she continued to pound in the skulls of any beast that got close enough, the acrid fumes of burning flesh again polluting the air. Blake was the only other of her teammates she could see now, so she called out to her.

"Where's Weiss?"

Blake had to leap up into the branches of a nearby tree for a fraction of a second in order to concentrate on the things she wanted to hear. She picked up on the rush of air that sounded like shattering icicles as it pelted away through the forest.

Once Blake heard what she needed to, she dropped back down to jab her sword into a Borbatusk's spine. "She's with Ruby," Blake answered. "They've split from us and are headed away into the woods, taking a good portion of the Grimm along with them."

Yang realized that the smell of smoke and rotting flesh coming from around her must have been dissuading many of the monsters from attacking now, and as she and Blake continued to pile up the bodies, fewer and fewer of the creatures advanced on them.

"Let's finish this up quickly," Yang barked as she took another soaring jump into the air, golden hair aglow with hellish flame.

"Right!" Blake launched herself up into the air beside her partner, and together they descended upon the wrathful, demented faces of their adversaries.


Ruby knew that Weiss was right behind her, but she had to keep flashing a glance over her shoulder, just to be absolutely certain.

They needed to get to a clearing of some sort, where there were fewer trees to hinder the use of Crescent Rose and slow down Weiss' glyphs.

They continued to jump through the trees - for how many minutes Ruby did not know - each of them occasionally having to drop down to handle a Beowulf that came a bit too close. The sense of urgency was palpable in the air; Ruby knew her semblance was sufficient enough in running for extended periods of time. It was Weiss she was worried about.

The heiress' Dust supply could only take her so far before she began to display signs of enervation, and Ruby had realized long ago that her partner grew tired very quickly after brawls that drew great amounts of energy from her. Even though Weiss had greatly improved her stamina over the years they had trained together, Ruby still noticed the way she swayed after a fight, how her body would betray the weakness she so adamantly tried to conceal.

I won't let it come to that, Ruby vowed silently.

At last, she found what she had been seeking, a wide clearing up ahead, separate from the surrounding trees. Weiss knew her leader's intent instantly and followed her there, skidding to a halt in the soft snow as she wheeled around, rapier drawn, to face their opponents.

There were only a few seconds of silence for the two girls to catch their breaths before the trees shifted, teeming with dark bodies.

Weiss shot forward without a second thought, delving directly into the midst of the beasts, Ruby following suit not a second later. The younger leader cleaved a path for the heiress, swinging Crescent Rose full-force at anything and everything in her path that was darker than white. She leveled a good section of the forest in the process, further expanding the clearing and giving them the advantage of space.

Ruby grunted as she dashed into the mass of bodies, all types of Grimm having gathered in a hoard like never before. But she was a fairly experienced huntress, now having been on her fair share of expeditions where conditions were far less than favorable or expected.

As if reading her thoughts, Weiss landed beside her leader for a split second, a temporary armistice the air allowed them, and the heiress cast a determined look in Ruby's direction. Mist-blue connected with silver and Ruby gave a slight nod before charging forward again.

Weiss hesitated, just a second as she watched her go, suppressing another shiver before she followed.

The trees Ruby had felled and the bodies that were beginning to pile up were proving beneficial to the pair now; as the blundering brutes trounced through the cracked branches and decaying corpses, they often stumbled or got snagged, making themselves much more vulnerable targets to add to the mounting pile of bodies.

At one point, an idea struck Weiss and she used her spells to cast ice upon icicles that had already naturally formed within a nearby tree, increasing their size and sharpness with her Dust. She then charged forward, kicking off the trunk with a mighty jump, sending a tremor through the entire tree until the terrifying daggers snapped, slicing through the air at breakneck speed to impale several Ursai through their skulls.

Ruby nodded in approval; Weiss' ability to think on her feet and adapt to her environment in order to use it to her advantage never ceased to impress her.

Ruby shot round after round of silver bullets into the snapping jaws that snarled at her, breaking claws and tusks left and right, snapping necks and severing limbs.

At this point it was mindless slaughter, but it needed to be done.

Weiss found it wonderfully ironic how the snow still continued to fall, softly, quietly, as the forest shook with writhing bodies, the air broken by constant, deafening roars; it was almost as if the snow fell simply to be dyed red. The slow spiraling of the flakes descending was such a great contrast to the violent bloodshed that it almost made Weiss laugh bitterly.

The heiress leapt into the air once again, momentarily suspended as she cast more ice down upon her adversaries, simultaneously surveying her surroundings. Her other two teammates were still nowhere to be seen, but a distant cloud of dark smoke suggested they were handling themselves quite well.

For a second, Weiss tilted her chin upward and the only thing she could see was the solid white of the winter sky.

Seconds later, gravity took her back down into a scene of scarlet violence.

Weiss had lost track of time for how long they had been fighting, but now she could tell that the numbers of Grimm were dwindling. She was exhausted, but when she caught Ruby's knowing eye, her silver gaze burning with fierce determination, Weiss could not help but feel rejuvenated.

The heiress was about to charge back into the heart of the fray, but froze when she caught sight of Ruby and noticed her familiar stance. Weiss had seen that pose more times than she could count and smirked a little bit to herself; Ruby knew this would be the final attack for them, so what better way to finish things off than with their most-practiced moves?

Even above the growling and hissing, Weiss naturally picked up on Ruby's voice alone.

"And... now!"

Upon her leader's orders, Weiss shot forward courtesy of her glyphs as Ruby simultaneously swung Crescent Rose in a horizontal motion. How many times had they practiced this routine? Neither knew. But they were both aware of how satisfying it was to finally see their efforts bear fruit in a legitimate battle.

Instead of imaginary beasts, their synchronized motions presently defeated Grimm after Grimm, slaughtering the soulless beasts that tainted their world.

Weiss could feel the blast of air from behind her as Ruby swung her scythe, and the heiress took her silent cue. She did not even have to think about her next course of action, as her body was already so accustomed to the formation they had practiced so often.

Using one of her glyphs to keep her balance, she spun rapidly, ferociously, rapier lashing perfectly straight as she held out both arms tightly. She could feel the fur and flesh tear at the end of her blade, barely an arm's-length away from her, and the warm spray of blood splattered her dress. She knew this motion only took six seconds so she counted down.

3...2...1!

Weiss leapt up into the trees just as the mighty scythe cleaved the remaining beasts where she had stood not a second ago. She positioned herself against the side of a tree, holding herself in place with another glyph as she waiting for Ruby to turn to the left...

Weiss shot forward, heart pounding as she soared through the air to land on her leader's blind side, striking out at a Beowulf that had crept up there. She brought it down along with another Borbatusk before her three seconds were up. She could see Crescent Rose coming around again and Weiss gathered herself for another jump, clearing the sickle that a small Tajitu was unfortunate enough to bite down into.

Weiss fought off what she observed to be some of the final ten of their opponents now, never missing a single strike as she slashed at throats and dodged between knifelike claws and deadly fangs.

She then heard the unmistakable sound of Ruby's final attack perpetration, saw her leader's mighty weapon as she lifted it above her small form before impaling it into the ground, through the back of an Ursa.

Ruby was flung high into the air, and she fired several bullets to dislodge the scythe from the flesh and bring it up into the air with her as she readied her stance mid-flight. Weiss smirked to herself as she watched Ruby's motion, one she had watched in training dozens of times before.

Not hesitating a second longer, Weiss took her cue and darted forward into the remaining cluster of beasts. She froze hooves and claws, jabbed crimson eyes, and dismantled the creatures in an array of slashes. She jumped backward into a half-circle, her skirt fanning out about her knees...

In a few more seconds, right on cue, Ruby's battle shriek would break the air from directly above her-

"Yaaaaaah!"

Weiss felt her blood run cold.

The past hour of heated combat had made her forget her foreboding chills, blissfully lost in the sense of camaraderie, addicted to the delicious thrill of battle.

Now, she was consumed with terror as Ruby descended beside her.

Her leader's timing was off.

It was far too soon, but everything was happening too quickly for Weiss to even shout out. The heiress was still amidst her jump when Ruby landed, swinging Crescent Rose from left to right to hook the blade around the malicious throat of the last Beowulf.

Weiss could measure with her eyes; no matter how she angled herself now, she knew that any way she landed would put her in Crescent Rose's path.

No.

Was she truly going to allow this to happen when she could clearly predict it?

It was only for a spilt second, but Weiss mustered every ounce of strength left within her body. Her feet made contact with the ground just as her leader's scythe swung toward her, dripping with the blood of their enemies.

Ruby was not looking, too focused on her final swing that had brought them to victory. She was not supposed to have to look. That was part of their routine. Ruby depended on Weiss to know her position and be where she was supposed to be.

Weiss refused to let her down.

The heiress had less than a heartbeat before she forced herself to desperately kick off the ground once again, stumbling slightly in the process. Not a second later, Crescent Rose sliced the air beneath her feet as Ruby finished her motion.

Weiss let out a cold sigh that seemed to echo as she landed clumsily but majorly unscathed. There were several wounds on her body courtesy of the Grimm, but none were dire. Her aura was running low, but with proper rest, it would replenish within a few days.

She steadied herself and limped over to her partner. The brunette's back was turned to her, but Weiss could tell Ruby was even less injured. The heiress smiled slightly as she headed toward her leader, exhausted, yet proud words of congratulations on her lips.

But before Weiss could speak, Ruby spun around in her excitement. "We did it, Weiss!"

As Ruby turned swiftly to face her partner, a familiar sound of rushing air immediately followed. As she turned, Crescent Rose swung with her.

Weiss failed to see it that time.

The soft smile on her lips remained, even as the blood began to spill forth from them.

Ruby screamed.

It was a deafening caterwaul that shook the forest even more so than the stampede of Grimm had. It was a distraught sound constructed of horror and despair and everything nightmares were composed of.

She dropped her weapon as she rushed toward her partner, catching Weiss gently in her arms. Myrtenaster fell meekly from her grip as Ruby collapsed to her knees with Weiss in her lap. The crimson stain was spreading across her torso faster than Ruby's mind could register it all. She clutched her partner – her girlfriend – with trembling arms as merciless tears rolled down her cheeks unstoppably.

"W...Weiss... Weiss!" Her voice was strained, cracking, broken. "Weiss! WEISS...!" Ruby's body was racked with sobs as she hugged the heiress to her. She could feel the warm blood seeping into her lap, into the snow, into the earth itself. "What have I done...?" she croaked. "Oh god, Weiss!"

Ruby screamed again, hysterical as the world-shattering guilt gnawed at her insides. Violent shudders shook her body as she clutched Weiss to her; her greatest victory had been shredded into her greatest mistake in mere seconds.

She wanted to throw up. She knew the wound was far too great to be healed, even with proper medical treatment; if the creatures of Grimm could never sustain a blow from Crescent Rose, how ever could such a petite girl?

Ruby tried to share her aura with Weiss, but the cruel wound never stopped bleeding. She continued to shout out Weiss' name over and over and over again, as though it would somehow erase the events that had transpired, as though it could somehow stop time.

But time was cruel, and it was jeering at her now.

All the while, Weiss could feel herself being jostled slightly as Ruby wailed above her. The heiress knew she should have felt cold, as she had been for hours, but instead she felt warm; she tried to tell herself that all of that warmth was coming from Ruby and not from within her own mutilated stomach.

She was not sure what she felt. Initially, there had been pain. Searing, agonizing, indescribable pain. It twisted and knotted throughout her body, burning, feeling as though her own lifeblood was on fire as it betrayed her, scorching her from the inside out.

But her fall was silent; screaming out in pain was not something Weiss did, and she was certainly not going to start now.

She knew Ruby was in far greater pain. She could not even begin to imagine what her leader was going through. She did not want to think about it. She did not want to think about anything...

Weiss' eyes blinked slowly, dully, her body having long-since become limp to her. The mixture of the cold air and the snowflakes falling gently around her gradually soothed the fire raging throughout her body.

Ruby was still screaming, weeping, yowling curses at herself.

That was something Weiss would not accept.

The heiress channeled her remaining energy into her left arm, unraveling her fingers from where they had been previously curled about the handle of her rapier. Slowly, with painstaking patience, she lifted her arm.

But she was shaking too much, from fear, from the cold, from what she knew was to come.

Weiss' arm collapsed back to her side, the air having provided too great a challenge for her to conquer. But she still had feeling in that arm. She tried again.

It took everything she had to lift her arm up like that, but she finally managed to brush her cold, quivering fingertips feebly over Ruby's cheek one last time.

But just before her hand could fall away, she felt another warm palm press over the back of her hand. Ruby's tortured, silver eyes met Weiss' fading mist-blue ones.

In that spilt second, everything was spoken, and yet nothing at all.

"...Weiss..."

Ruby knew what she had done. It was in her voice, in her countenance, in the desperate way she held onto Weiss' hand on her cheek, refusing to let go. With her free hand, she pulled Weiss to her, almost as though she imagined doing so would stop the ruthless bleeding.

But Weiss knew nothing could stop it; what was to come had been inevitable for quite some time.

For the first time in all her life, Ruby was lost. She had found her way back onto her path before, both in the woods and in her heart.

But now, there was nowhere left for her to go. She was aimless, ripping apart at the seams, her mind forgetting how to work properly as her body continued to shudder.

Weiss felt cold now, which was how she knew it should have been. She welcomed it, breathing it in through her nose carefully, savoring it for what she knew to be one of the last times.

More blood spilled from her wound; even now it refused to stop. And yet her leader continued to share her aura with futile desperation. Weiss shook her head ever so slightly, asking Ruby to stop, to save her energy.

The younger girl choked on another sob as her own trembling became too great, and her focus wavered, the flow of healing energy finally severing.

Ruby could feel her heart breaking.

Weiss could feel her heart slowing.

Despite how difficult it was becoming to breathe, the heiress inhaled deeply.

"Ru-"

But she had to stop. Her vocal chords shook as she felt hot liquid seep into her lungs. Weiss turned her head away and coughed violently, sputtering mouth-fulls of blood into the snow.

That was when her tears finally began to form.

"Weiss!" Ruby cried. She hunched forward, her free arm supporting her partner's shivering shoulders as she maintained her hold on the pale hand on her cheek. More tears poured down her face, seeping into Weiss' dress, mixing with the blood.

The heiress was wheezing for air now, her chest heaving weakly. Ruby forced herself to pull away, alleviating some of the pressure from her girlfriend's body.

"Weiss don't... don't speak..." Ruby sobbed.

She did not want to say it; if she was honest with herself, she knew she wanted nothing more than to hear Weiss' voice right now, hear her say that she was going to be alright.

But Ruby had to try.

"Don't speak..." she whispered again.

She felt Weiss shift slightly, fragilely, beneath her, and a small sound came from her throat - Ruby would recognize her girlfriend's chuckle even now.

Directly disobeying her leader's orders, Weiss parted her lips again.

"You... dunce..." she rasped. "Now is... my last chance to speak to you..."

Her words were quieter than the snowflakes, but Ruby could hear them.

"No..." She shook her head. "No, Weiss... don't say that. You're... You're going to be..."

She could not say it.

Was lying truly the last thing she wanted to do to Weiss?

They both knew the truth.

Weiss maintained the hopeless smile on her lips.

"Ruby-"

Her body jolted as she coughed again, expelling more blood into the white snow. Ruby tried to drown out the sounds, biting her lip until it bled as she desperately held onto the hand that only continued to try and slip away from her grasp.

When at last Weiss was silent again, her mist-blue eyes found great difficulty in gazing upward to her partner's face.

Perhaps it was the numbing pain. Perhaps it was the tears. But she believed it was something else.

At that moment, Weiss noticed a beautiful ray of sunlight that broke through the clouds. It shown brilliantly, and yet softly behind Ruby, gradually inching closer and closer. It was ephemeral, but also warm and inviting, and Weiss knew she had no choice but to accept it.

But not yet.

She sniffed once, swallowing down more blood.

"Ruby..." She forced her eyelids to stay up; if not for the blurring wetness in her vision, Weiss never would have realized she was crying. Her senses were too dysfunctional now, so she could not even feel the sting of her pain, nor the run of the tears down her cheeks, nor the blood down her sides.

But she could still see, and therefore knew that Ruby was listening to her final request:

"Ruby... take care of those two... I know you will..."

However, it was a request Ruby could not fulfill. A bitter smile crossed her lips and Weiss' own smile faded.

"Ruby...?"

"I'm sorry, Weiss," Ruby uttered. "I can't... I can't do that." Her fierce silver eyes were completely decisive as she whispered her next phrase, the one that seized Weiss' weakening heart with icy claws:

"I'm not letting you go alone."

Weiss felt a new pain shoot through her chest, and her breathing became more labored.

"No... Ruby no, you can't..." she gasped. "Y-You can't do that to Yang... to me... I won't forgive you... I-I want you to live... more than anything... please d-don't..." Her pale fingertips curled despairingly into Ruby's cheek as the brunette held her hand tighter. "Ruby, you can't..."

"Weiss..."

The way she spoke her name elicited a fresh wave of tears to swell in the heiress' eyes. Ruby had decided.

"Weiss... I have to. I know I... if I was in your position right now... I'd be telling you the same things. And I know... you'd do the same for me, no matter how many times I told you not to..."

She leaned down to bury her face in Weiss' trembling shoulder. "Yang..." It hurt her more than she thought it would to speak her next words. "Yang will understand... She'll scream, a-and she'll cry and she'll punch the walls until her knuckles bleed and she'll blame herself for everything... but she'll understand. Blake will help her. She'll be alright... someday..."

Ruby felt her stomach turning itself inside out; she felt sick, imagining her elder sister's reactions once she found them... But there was no way she was letting Weiss go by herself.

"No..." The heiress was fading, but she refused to let Ruby throw her life away so easily. "Ruby, you-" She coughed again, hearing Ruby let out another strangled sob.

"Weiss, don't speak, please... "

"No..." she rasped. "You're going to hear me out... until the end..."

The blood was still flowing. The shaft of sunlight was drawing closer. Weiss could feel it. But she persevered.

"Ruby... you're one of the most talented people this world has come to know. You're going to do great things, and I won't let you waste that potential on someone like me..."

She paused for another feeble breath, choking back the blood that rose within her throat. "If... If it was me in your position... it would be fine, because I have no one else who would miss me... But you... you have family. You can't let them suffer alone, if you can help it... You'll hurt them more than you could ever comprehend if you go through with this... Don't be reckless. Don't throw your life away for this... please..."

Weiss closed her eyes to blink away the tears, but was terrified she might not have the strength to open them another time. She felt Ruby's fingers brush through her hair, ghosting over her cheek.

Dizzyingly, Weiss forced her eyes open once more with great effort. Ruby was smiling down at her again, and the heiress watched the tears drip off her chin one by one.

"Weiss..." she mumbled. "There's so much wrong with what you just said. You do have a family; you have us. You have me. And you'll always have me. I'll make sure of that."

She twirled a lock of silky white hair around her finger, snowflakes having crystallized there, making it shine. "Of course I would give up my life for you. You mean... more to me than you could ever imagine."

"But you don't have to!" Weiss rasped painfully. "You're not injured! You're perfectly fine! There's no reason for you to..."

But Ruby shook her head.

"Weiss, none of that matters. I'm..." She sucked in a sharp breath. "I'm the one who did this to you. I have to repent for my crimes."

"No... Ruby, no," Weiss begged. "Ruby, it was an accident-"

"It was my fault," Ruby cut her off gently. "And besides..." Her eyes then softened as the tears continued to flow. "Like I said... there's no way I'm letting you go alone."

"No... no-!"

"Shhh..." Ruby gave Weiss' hand a squeeze as she gently wiped her other thumb over her girlfriend's tears. "Weiss, it's okay." She smiled as she spoke the words that broke the heiress' resolve completely:

"I love you, Weiss."

"R... Ruby, no... no..." Weiss cried out, pleading, begging, her voice cracking with desperation not to let her do this, even though she knew it was inevitable now. Her body trembled, her chest heaving faintly as Weiss began to hiccup, drowning in her sobs, the blood rising in her lungs.

She let out a pained shriek as the agony suddenly seared through her chest, but it was not from the wound. Rather, it was the pain of thinking about what Ruby was going to do.

"Weiss?" Ruby's voice rose in panic as she felt the strength drain from her partner's arm; Weiss' hand fell limply away from her face, slipping through Ruby's fingers. "Weiss?!"

The heiress cracked an eye open to gaze up at Ruby.

The sunlight had reached them.

Ruby was enveloped in a brilliant diaphanous glow, the light reflecting off her tears as they continued to fall. Even though she was still blubbering, her eyes were full of affection; Weiss believed it may have been the most beautiful scene she had ever borne witness to, because right now, Ruby truly appeared to be an angel. If that was how she was going to leave this world, she thought it might not be so bad.

"I'm ready..." she whispered to nothing and no one in particular.

Weiss' vision shifted slightly as she gazed up at the softly-flurrying snowflakes, highlighted in the glow of the sun.

It was time.

In a final effort to deter Ruby from following after her, even though she knew it was fruitless, Weiss offered one last reprimand:

"You... dunce..."

A faint smile graced her lips as she finally felt the last drop of blood spill out of her body. A rusty tang filled her lungs to capacity, slowly suffocating her from the inside.

Ruby could see the fear in Weiss' eyes in that moment. Just like always, she was trying so hard to hide her emotions, trying to put on the act that everything was alright.

But now, that act finally broke for the last time as the terror filled her eyes: she did not want to die.

Perhaps a few moments ago, she had accepted the thought of it all, but now that she was on the border with one foot in each world, she could not bring herself to take the last step.

Ruby refused to let her go like that.

She pulled Weiss up into a gentle embrace, momentarily hiding her expression from view as she plastered a smile across her lips.

But it was then the harsh reality of the moment crashed over her. She could hear Weiss' strained breathing as it began to slow to an unnatural pace, choking on a thick, vital substance that was leaking into all the wrong places.

She could smell the strong tang of blood more than ever before, mixed with the sharp, fresh crispness of the snow, making Ruby's nose sting in addition to the tears.

She could feel Weiss' body as she began to shiver gently, but unlike the violence of her previous shudder, this was somehow even more terrifyingly calm.

She could feel Weiss' heart in its final frantic flutters for life, faltering with each passing second.

Weiss was scared, but Ruby would not let that be the last thing that she felt in this world.

She pulled away, and Weiss missed her protective warmth so much that it forced her eyes to open again, even though she had been so certain that would be the last time she closed them. She knew she would not be able to hold her eyelids up any longer, but she focused her gaze for one last time.

Ruby was beautiful. A wondrous, golden mist shimmered behind her, making her white skin glow. Her tears were accented by the light, soft and comforting. And her smile...

Her smile reminded Weiss of all the times they had shared together in their years together at Beacon. Despite whatever hardships had arisen throughout that time, regardless of the heiress' own reaction, Ruby's response had always ultimately been to smile.

That smile had seen Weiss through to the end.

The heiress still prayed that Yang and Blake would appear before Ruby could go through with her reckless plan. And yet, Weiss felt wretched in thinking of how she did not want to go alone...

She blinked again, forcing her eyes open with great effort so that she may gaze upon her angel one final time; she needed to say something, one more thing, even if that was what ended up killing her.

Weiss forced herself to draw another breath as Ruby struggled against all odds to maintain her smile, for her partner's sake. Weiss offered a tiny smile in return as she found her voice, making sure to speak clearly as she whispered her final words:

"I love you, Ruby..."

It took everything within Ruby's power not to break her expression. She needed to keep smiling, needed that to be the very last thing Weiss would see.

Ruby nodded once, biting back her tears; it was clear she wanted to cry out, and Weiss thanked her for trying so hard to suppress it for her sake. Ruby nodded again as two more tears passed over her strained smile. She, too, made sure her voice was strong and clear:

"I love you, Weiss..."

Weiss smiled from the bottom of her heart, from within her very soul.

Ruby leaned down and kissed her, taking Weiss' final breath, gently pressing against the violent sobs and pain that sought to rack her partner's body and instead making it soft and quiet.

Their final kiss resurfaced so many memories in that moment: their first clumsy kiss, their bickering arguments, their heated fights, their silent resolutions, their warm embraces, their shared laughter, their gentle and passionate love...

Weiss closed her eyes.

And she was warm...

...

..

.

..

...

Ruby continued to press her lips against Weiss', tears streaming down her face all the while, until at last, her girlfriend stopped shivering. She grew cold in Ruby's arms, and the feeble rhythm within her chest finally ceased.

Weiss was gone.

Ruby pulled away, her mask finally shattering as she gazed down through the tears at Weiss' peaceful expression, her smile...

Ruby knew it must have been excruciatingly painful, and yet Weiss had smiled in her final moments. It made Ruby content for just a second.

"Goodbye..."

Then, the cold breeze blew by, buffeting her hair, stirring Weiss', and Ruby truly realized that her girlfriend would never move again. Weiss would never snap at her anymore, never flick her forehead when she made a mistake, never study with her again, never roll her eyes at her...

...never sleep beside her anymore, never smile at her, never look at her with those beautiful mist-blue eyes, never kiss her ever again...

That reality was what truly killed Ruby.

She threw herself forward, hugging her partner to her desperately and screamed not unlike one who had gone mad. She screamed curses at the world, at the sky, at the Grimm, at everything.

She screamed words and she screamed emotions, sobs ripping from her throat until it was sore. Her cries echoed throughout the forest, breaking the wind.

But once she had finally lost her ability to shout, she realized just how much of a child she still was, just like Weiss had always affectionately told her.

She parted her lips into a heartbreaking wail, the wail of a child who had lost her entire world as she held it in her own arms.

The grief was unbearable. Even now, Ruby knew she would never be able to truly live her life for the rest of her days without Weiss by her side. She knew what she planned to do now was not reckless thinking as Yang would surely later blame her for.

Ruby knew - she had always known - that Weiss was her other half, her partner, through thick and thin, through life and death and beyond. Even if she were to live on without her, Ruby knew it would not be living.

She blinked her eyes open as she coughed out another sob, and she noticed the glinting sparkle off the snow; it was golden, and though it was freshly-fallen snow, it was somehow warm.

Ruby hugged Weiss to her one last time before she carefully laid her down in the shining snow; she noted how utterly, incomparably beautiful she looked surrounded by her namesake.

She wiped her face again and whispered:

"I'll be with you soon..."

Then, she stood, her legs shaking, being assaulted with shivers for countless reasons - what she had done, what she was going to do...

Ruby halted when she caught a glimpse of the clearing they had fought their final battle in, the devastated trees, the crumbling shapes of the Grimm...

And yet of all things, Weiss had died by her own hand.

Therefore, Ruby thought it only fitting that she go the same way.

First, she picked up Myrtenaster and laid it down by Weiss' side. Then, she retrieved Crescent Rose, staring with unflagging eyes and moving with a resolved heart as she gazed at Weiss' final smile.

The massive weapon was still wet with the heiress' blood, and Ruby made sure to let it taste the blood of its master as well.

Ruby never shuddered nor hesitated as she positioned the blade of the scythe against her stomach.

She whispered one final apology - to Blake, to Yang, to her mother, to Weiss - before she gave an almighty tug.

The pain was overwhelming and immediate, so much so that she felt as though it was unfair to Weiss after Ruby had seen the way she had gone, how the light had gradually dimmed from her eyes over several torturous minutes.

But Ruby wanted to get to her, to see her again, as soon as possible.

She staggered as she fell to her knees, blood spilling forth, darkening her cloak, staining red into the pure white snow until it blended with Weiss'.

It was a terrible scene, and yet tragically beautiful.

Ruby collapsed beside Weiss, pulling her into one last embrace before she closed her eyes.

"I love you..."

...

..

.

..

...

Weiss opened her eyes.

She knew who she was - her mind had maintained every single memory, every lesson, every battle, every kiss.

She had form, which as far as she knew, bore a great resemblance to her once-living body, a long gown flowing down to her ankles.

There was white, and yet there were all colors. There was some ethereal glow giving herself form, and yet she was invisible.

But perhaps most blessedly of all, there was no cold, and there was no pain.

But she knew someone else was in terrible pain right now.

Weiss looked up at the trees stretching above her, the golden light splashing down through the branches onto a scene of white and red.

Her ears trembled as she listened to Ruby scream, though to Weiss, it was nothing more than muffled agony. She could not hear her partner's voice properly; she was of another realm.

If there was any notion of fear within this realm, Weiss experienced it when Ruby stood and picked up her scythe. Weiss parted her jaws, longing to cry out, compelling Ruby not to go forth with it all, but she could do nothing to interfere.

She closed her eyes as Ruby took her own life.

Weiss knew tears should have been falling down her cheeks, but nothing came.

The golden light misted around her; this was no place for tears of sadness.

And besides, Ruby needed her now...

..

.

..

Ruby opened her eyes.

She saw the forest, she saw the snow, she saw the part in the clouds where the sun was shining through.

But none of that mattered.

Although Ruby was aware that her form was unstable, she still felt a hand taking her own.

Weiss was there. Her partner, her angel, her soul mate.

She smiled, grasping Ruby's hand tightly as she pulled her away from her body, away from that world.

There was something that wanted to hold Ruby back, trap her as it tried to drag her back down. But she shook it off fervently, so completely that it vanished altogether as she stepped forward.

Ruby threw her arms around Weiss, and only then did the tears begin to fall; this was not a place for tears of sadness, but rather for tears of joy, acceptance, and love.

Ruby and Weiss harbored all three as their lips came together in a soft kiss.

Weiss could hear Ruby's voice again as she cried out her name, and Weiss did the same, embracing her tightly, never to let go again.

The golden mist encompassed them in its ethereal, transient shroud, snowflakes spiraling gently downward, glittering in the light.

Ruby and Weiss kissed again.

They knew now that everything was going to be alright. They would help their friends through the event of their passing, let them know they were happy together on the other side, let them know they would wait for them however long it may take...

But for now, there was somewhere they needed to go.

They both looked up to the white sky where the clouds parted in warm, welcoming sunlight, beckoning them.

A distant laughter could be heard as they began to rise up:

"You dunce..."

"But I'm your dunce!"

Then, two voices spoke in resonated unison as they ascended ever upward.

"I love you."

They drifted up into the vast white sky on celestial wings, side-by-side, hand-in-hand.

Together.

Forevermore.


.

A/N: I hope you could enjoy this little tale of mine. I'm not one for ending on discomforting notes, but they'll always be together.

Please review!