Edea Lee has it all, except for maybe the company of the man who she abhors. But then, he was never a part of her world to begin with.
So the TRUE ending to Bravely Default was a little ambiguous when it comes to Ringabel and where he ends up, and I wanted to expand on it, so here you go.
As it is, a HUGE spoiler alert for Bravely Default, especially when it comes to the TRUE ending. If you have not obtained this ending yet, please don't read it!
It goes without saying that I don't own Bravely Default and its lovely cast of characters.
Edea had a habit of tapping her foot when she was excited and happy. For the first time in - how long had it been? She no longer kept count of time - a very long time, she felt like things were finally her way. Ouroboros had been defeated for good, and it was time to go home.
"I wonder if it's changed," she wondered aloud, helping Tiz carry the rest of the belongings onto Grandship. Sage Yulyana had warned them that if they didn't go through the portal in less than two hours, they would be stuck on this world.
It was a hard decision, but in the end, all four Warriors of Light had decided to go back to their original home. For Edea, it had been even harder. Swordmaster Kamiizumi was still alive here along with the rest of Eternia's best warriors. The only thing that was getting Edea through this decision was that Tiz, Agnès, and Ringabel would be going along with her.
"What's changed?" Tiz asked, as he hoisted a barrel into his arms.
"Our Luxendarc. I mean, now that Ouroboros is gone and the chasm is closed does that mean that time has reverted back to what it once was?" Edea threw a sack over her shoulder. "And what's in here anyway? Feels like bricks!"
"I guess there's only one way to find out," Tiz said as they both wobbled onto Grandship. "I think this is the last of the load. Can you tell Ringabel as soon as we board that it's time to get into the portal? We've only got about an hour before it closes up, and I need to find Agnès and make sure she's okay."
"Not a problem," Edea responded, giving him a sly wink. "Go have some alone time with your girlfriend. Datz and Zatz and the Proprietress... are they all on?"
"She's not my girlfriend!" Tiz stammered, although his face was bright red. Edea chuckled; it was almost too easy to tease Tiz. He may be the most mature one of them all, Edea had to admit, but when it came to Agnès, he was so easy to read. When Tiz gathered himself, he added as if nothing happened, "They should be. I told them to head in about a half hour ago."
Edea nodded, and began to board the Grandship. At the top of the ramp, she was breathing heavily and dropped the sack on the floor, dragging an arm through her brow. Though there was a pleasant breeze whipping through what was once Norende, Edea had never entirely gotten over any non-Eternian weather. The thought of the cool snow, made her grin. No place like home, she thought to herself.
She surveyed the lower decks of Grandship, feeling a rush of last minute affection for the large ship. This had been her home for a long time and though she knew she was going to her real home, she wasn't willing to part with it just yet. Admittedly, the Grandship looked a little worse for wear now that it had survived through seven Holy Pillars, but she was confident that once they arrived in Eternia, she would see to it that Ringabel got the parts he needed to fix it.
Speaking of Ringabel... where was he? Edea glanced at The Drunken Pig, and decided to check in. The worst possible place Ringabel could be in right now would be in the tavern; he was the only one who could drive this ship.
She ran to the tavern and saw the Proprietress wiping at the countertop. The round woman's face broke into a grin. "Looking for someone? Datz, Zatz and Agnès are above deck."
In response, the gray-haired woman pointed to the tables toward the stairs above. "He's getting a quick bite in before we leave."
Edea thanked the woman before dashing up the stairs, thoroughly irritated. "Ringabel!" she snapped. Out of all days, the man just had to pick today to slow the pace.
When she got to the top, she saw Ringabel at one of the booths with a basket of potato wedges with melted cheese on top. Next to him was a parfait with whipped cream piled so high, it almost doubled the whole height. A bright red maraschino cherry topped the whole thing. The thing seemed to be calling out to Edea, and she felt her stomach rumble.
Ringabel chewed on one of the potato wedges, his black eyes slinking to Edea almost purposefully. On most days that Edea had gotten to know him, his face was often animated. It had been extremely easy to read him; after all, all he ever thought about was girls. But in the past few weeks, especially after regaining his memory, Edea had noticed his silences were becoming more frequent. At first, she welcomed his quiet attitude with relief. But then she had almost started to miss it. Towards the end, she had grown uncomfortable about it.
Today, as she met his eyes, she couldn't tell what he was thinking about. Aside from his mouth which had begun to slow, he had grown still upon seeing her.
But only for a moment.
"My dear, you must simply join me!" he said, traces of his smirk growing on his face. He swallowed his bite and gestured to the food on the table.
"Can it, Ringabel! We've only got an hour before the portal closes. Don't you want to go home?" But even as she said the words, she slid into the booth opposite of him and grabbed the parfait.
His grin grew wider. "Of course, I do. But won't you miss it?"
"All this?" He gestured around the tavern.
"The Grandship is coming with us, Ringabel. I'm sure I could swing by sometime and ask the Proprietress for a parfait," she snorted. She slid a spoonful of whipped cream into her mouth, reveling at the light texture and the sweetness of it. She sighed. "I think I'm in heaven." It was almost as good as Eternia's famous parfaits!
Ringabel studied her. "I'm not talking about the tavern." He hesitated for a moment. "I meant all of... this. Us four working together, on an adventure, traveling across the seas of Luxendarc?"
Edea put down her spoon and met Ringabel's eyes. It was eerie how sometimes he seemed to understand how she felt about all this. But then she smiled and spooned in another mouthful of whipped cream. "Well, I mean a little. But we're still going to have each other. Agnès and Tiz will be across the ocean, so it might be a little harder to visit them, but that doesn't mean we won't make the effort!"
"Well, obviously! You might be a pain, Ringabel, but I meant what I said about living in Eternia. I'm sure Father will have a use for you after I explain everything about you. He pretty much treats Alternis as a son, so I'm sure he'd love to have you too. Just don't talk about girls around him, and be polite when he talks to you."
"I'm always polite," Ringabel responded almost indignantly. He swallowed the last bite of his potato wedges and began to wipe his mouth daintily with the cloth napkin, as though to prove his point. He waited for Edea to finish the rest of her parfait. "How was it?"
"Sweet," Edea said. "The Proprietress definitely knows her stuff." She watched the grin on his face grow and suddenly grew suspicious. "What? Is there whipped cream on my mouth?" She used her fist to wipe at anything on her mouth.
Ringabel stood up, drawing to his full height. "Would you consider this a date?"
Edea nearly coughed up her whole parfait she had eaten. "W-what? No!" She stood up too, glaring at him.
"But I paid for your meal, and it was only us two."
"Yeah, but it was only, like, fifteen minutes."
"A fifteen minute date is still a date," he said, his voice sounding satisfied. Ugh! Sometimes she couldn't stand that grin on his face.
"Whatever makes you happy."
He walked up close to her and her heart pounded. She wanted to shrink away, but instead she stood her ground, despite the fact that he was standing inches away from her, and he was staring directly down at her. Not for the first time, did Edea curse their height difference. She was taller than the average girl her age, but Ringabel almost stood a head taller than her. It rankled her nerves to know end to know that she spent a lot of time looking up at him.
"You don't scare me," she said, and wondered if it was the way her heart was beating that made her voice seem an octave higher than usual. Ringabel often did this, standing in close proximity with Edea, and even though she always made it a point to increase the distance between them or to tell him to scram, she always felt the blood in her body turn hot.
"I'm not trying to," he murmured, that maddening side smirk still on his face. He lifted his hand, and for one crazy moment, Edea thought he was going to use it to guide her head up into kissing him, but instead he grabbed her chin and used his thumb to swipe at the corner of her lip. It took everything in her to stay completely still. She held her breath and waited for him to lower his mouth to hers.
He didn't. Instead he took a step back and said, "There was some cream still left." He wiped his thumb on his trousers and his side smirk became kind. "Remember when you rescued me from the dungeon in Central Command?"
Edea nodded, not trusting herself to speak, waiting for her heart to stop pounding so furiously. It was the first time - and only time - Edea had ever entertained the idea of Ringabel becoming her boyfriend out loud. Ringabel had grown flustered and shocked and it was then that Edea had realized he hadn't much experience with girls in the first place. It had been slightly endearing to her, but mostly hilarious when he hadn't the slightest clue what do do.
"Well, I know this isn't romantic, or perfect or ideal, but I do hope you know how much it meant to me just to have your company here."
He seemed quite serious when he said it, and Edea saw a little bit of Alternis Dim inside him. She bit her lip. My Alternis is dead, she reminded herself. There was no way he had survived that fall down Grandship in her world. But Ringabel was still very much here and in that moment, Edea found herself not so repulsed by thinking about the future they'd spend together.
"I know," she responded cheerfully. And I enjoyed yours too. "Anyway, Tiz said you should start heading for the portals."
He nodded once. "Of course."
She followed him outside and up to where everybody else was waiting, thinking back to the moment he'd stepped so close to her. She touched the edge of her lip and wondered why it burned. She stared at the back of Ringabel's blond head and couldn't help the smile that graced her features. When it all came down to it, she was... happy.
"Took you two long enough," Tiz said, when they reached helm. "It's time to go Ringabel!"
"Of course," he said. He pressed a few buttons, cranked a few levers, and gripped the helm tightly with both hands as Grandship took off.
Edea watched Agnès struggle to find her footing and Tiz grip her shoulders to steady her, her heart suddenly aching. This would be the last time they would be together for a long time. She knew they all had their own duties. Agnès was the only living vestal, Tiz had Norende, she was in line for running Eternia next and Ringabel would probably be Father's bodyguard. She knew that they wouldn't be like this again.
The ship was roaring with effort as it lifted off and began to fly towards the portal. Feeling like her heart would burst if she didn't say anything at this point she yelled over the noise, "Guys, I think we should... agree on something."
Tiz raised an eyebrow and Agnès asked, "What would you want to do?"
"Let's make a promise that in six months we meet up, no matter what happens!" Her eyes began to blur, and she realized she was crying. Damn it, it's not like me to get sentimental! I'm Braev Lee's daughter! "You're the best friends I've ever had."
Agnès was silent as she regarded Edea. Then at last, she put her arms around Edea. "And you are all the dearest friends, the only friends aside from Olivia, that I would willingly die for. Tiz, Ringabel, let's do it!"
Edea was surprised when Agnès pulled Edea and Tiz into a group hug, and when Edea pulled back, she was relieved to find that she wasn't the only one with wet eyes. Agnès was fully sobbing, and even Tiz looked like tears were threatening to fall.
I guess it wasn't just me. She looked at Ringabel's back and touched his shoulder. "Promise me?"
He didn't answer, concentrating intently on Grandship's progress as he navigated through each world's portal. When they finally reached their world, he pulled a lever harshly and Edea nearly collided into him. Thoroughly annoyed at the Ringabel's handling of the ship, she took a deep breath and tried not to curse him out. Normally, he was really good at handling the ship. When she regained her bearings, she turned around, her hair whipping behind her to see Tiz and Agnès sprawled over each other giggling nervously at their close proximity.
They're so cute it nearly makes me puke! Edea thought to herself.
"We've arrived at your world," Ringabel announced. Edea's heart ached in anticipation as she ran towards the railing to look at the bright, clear skies. Home...
"It's so beautiful outside," she sighed to herself. A breeze riffled through her hair, and she couldn't remember the last time she'd appreciated flying on a ship. She had always taken flying on the Eschalot and with the Sky Knights for granted.
When she turned around, she saw Ringabel staring at her, his expression startlingly intense. His arms were crossed over his chest and he was slouched against the helm. Caught looking, he ran a gloved hand over his face, and turned away from her. "If you don't mind, I'll be taking the Eschalot."
Edea was confused. She'd been planning on granting him all of Grandship, now that its people had left and showed no plans to come back. But if he wanted the Eschalot too, she would have to talk to Father first. "Um, sure. You can have Grandship if you want too, you know."
His back was still turned to her as he pulled another lever, and Grandship began its descent. "Why would I take Grandship? You need to pilot back to Eternia, Ancheim and Caldisla."
She wasn't following, but a thread of ice had started to weave itself inside her, making her numb. "What are you prattling on about, Ringabel?" she snapped.
With a great lurch, Grandship finally sank into the waters. Once again, the landing was rough and this time Edea actually lost her footing, landing on her butt. Ringabel turned around, and reached a hand out to her. She grasped it, and he pulled her up. "Ringabel, what do you-"
"Hurry. I haven't the time." He tugged her along and she felt her cheeks grow warm at his holding her hand. It was ridiculous, really. Both of them were wearing gloves, so they weren't actually touching. And there were so many times where she'd grabbed his hand and pulled him along, and there were many other times where he had held her hand before asking her out on a date. But this time, it was different, she decided and she didn't know what precisely it was, but she followed him.
When they got to the part of the ship that held the Eschalot, Ringabel turned around. "This is where I say good bye."
Edea felt her blood still at these words. "Ringabel..."
He held a hand up to silence her, and the gesture was so authoritative, that it actually worked on her. She'd never been dismissed by Ringabel in such an abrupt manner before.
Luckily, Agnès wasn't so cowed. "Ringabel, what is the meaning of this? Are you not coming with us?"
Ringabel's face softened as he faced her. "It's been... I can't begin to describe how much the time I spent with you three has meant to me. I will never forget you all, but as you all know I don't truly belong here."
Edea's throat constricted. The blood drained from her face and she realized she was still holding his hand. She wrenched her hand away from him. She was using unnecessary force, as his grip on her was gentle, but she didn't care. "You can't do this..."
Ringabel still wasn't looking at her. "My time as Ringabel is over. I need to go back to my world, and become the man I was before Ringabel. I need to redeem myself and protect all of you from the previous world."
Edea felt herself grow unexpectedly angry. "No. You can't do that. I'm giving you a home in Eternia. You're supposed to stay in Eternia."
"I don't belong here, Edea."
"Yes, you do! You do. You belong here with me!" The words slipped out of her mouth before she had time to reconsider her words.
A shadow of that old maddening smirk came back on his face. "Why Edea, I knew all along that you had feelings for me."
Too late, she realized she had said 'me' instead of 'us' and she sought to rectify that mistake. "I meant with us! You belong with us!" But she was furious that he had the gall to smile at her like that, like this was all a joke. Nothing about this was a joke!
Tiz and Agnès exchanged glances before Tiz turned to Ringabel. "I'm not going to try and stop you, Ringabel. If you feel like this is what you have to do, then... We understand." He grabbed Ringabel's hand and clenched it tightly. "I'll miss you."
"And I, you." Ringabel said with a solemn face.
"Take care of yourself," Agnès said, her cheeks stained with tears. She was usually a lot more reserved but right now she pulled him into a fierce hug and dashed away before she could break down in front of him.
That left Edea and Ringabel. A full gust of wind blew through Edea's hair, nearly making her stumble backward. "Nice sailing conditions," he said.
"Shut up," she growled, and for the first time he flinched.
"Don't. Say. My. Name."
He was quiet as he watched her face redden. She glared at him for a full minute before she decided to speak. "You know, out of everyone here, you annoyed me the most. I couldn't fathom why you were even with us. You were dead weight. You were useless. It would have been better if you just dropped the journal here because that was the only thing that helped us at all. You with your fucking memory problems could not stop the problem from exacerbating. You were useless. Tiz was the leader, Agnès was the vestal and I helped us get into Eternia, but all you did was flirt and woo women in front of me. You're a shame to us and I hate you."
Ringabel bowed his head, and she was even more furious that his face seemed deadly still. Nothing she said was impacting him and she felt an uncomfortable restlessness overcome her, making her go crazy. "Then," he said softly. "It shouldn't matter that I leave to you. I must right my wrongs."
"Why can't you right the wrongs you've made here? You've certainly made enough of them."
He sighed through his nose. "I won't tolerate this abuse, Edea, even if it is well deserved. Goodbye." He walked towards the Eschalot, and had just climbed in when she spoke again. "Don't go, Ringabel. I'm serious. Please don't go." She couldn't believe it. She couldn't believe she'd said please, that she was begging.
Edea Lee did not beg.
Yet here she was, running after him, grabbing onto his arm even as he was unhooking the ropes that anchored the Eschalot to Grandship. "If you refuse to stay, please take me with you!" Under any other circumstances, Edea would have been ashamed. She certainly felt ashamed for saying them out loud. She wasn't the kind of girl who chased boys and shirked her duties for them. This wasn't her, and yet...
"Edea, listen to me." He slid his hands up her arms until they slid around her shoulders. He caressed them, giving her a tender look. "I'm with you, I'll always be with you. My existence is only to the Lee's. I will be here for you, just in another world. You cannot abandon your duties here. You and I both know that."
He was right, of course. She couldn't, but right now, she couldn't see reason to it. "I..." the words caught in her throat and died. Instead, she said, "I understand." The words were stiff and clearly said she did not understand at all.
He smiled sadly. "I love you and I mean it." He drew her to him and for the second time that day, she wondered if he would kiss her on the mouth but he didn't. Instead he pressed his lips, soft and warm against her forehead, hard. And then he pulled away from her, and her world.
She didn't try to stop him.
Originally intended this as a one-shot, but I'm not sure if I should expand on it. I had a few ideas as to how this would pan out. I had a few ideas but... eh, we'll see. Please review! This is totally not edited, so I apologize in advance if there are spelling errors and I definitely wouldn't mind if you pointed them out to me.