SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1***

Chapter 26

Epilogue

It was not a good time for this sort of thing, as Rikku had told Yuna and Tidus a thousand times. The middle of summer, out in a desert, within an overheated metal hull where everyone had to sweat it out politely, dressed in their finest, of course–definitely not a good time.

But Yuna and Tidus had opted to hold it as soon as possible, reasoning that they didn't have all the time in the world. Rikku supposed they had a point.

So they'd gone to Cid, who'd produced a marriage contract and prepared a ceremony in record time. It was all automatic for the leader of the Al Bhed, who performed every ceremony that took place within the Al Bhed community.

On that day it was so hot that the flowers were wilting, but the hall they'd set up for the ceremony still looked quite beautiful, with flowers covering nearly every inch of the floor that was not otherwise occupied by a chair or person. Rikku's job was basically to run around and make sure everything was as it should be. She wore a strapless, backless emerald green dress that, according to Yuna and Lulu, perfectly matched her eyes. She didn't care much about the color of the dress; she was merely trying to keep from stepping on and tearing the hem.

She hung around the boys for a while first, to make sure everything was okay on their end. Their group was comprised of Tidus, Jecht, Wakka–who had mysteriously disappeared–and Kimahri. Auron had a different task to perform. Meanwhile, Jecht was keeping Tidus busy.

"Nervous?"

"No."

"Excited?"

"No."

"Scared?"

"No."

In Rikku's opinion Tidus looked as though he were ready to throw up, though it couldn't be that bad if he was putting up with Jecht's badgering. She slipped around behind Jecht and put a hand on Tidus's shoulder.

"Happy?" she whispered.

He looked back at her, startled, then smiled. "Yes."

Rikku patted his shoulder. "I'm going to find Wakka."

"You do that." Tidus went back to looking sick.

Rikku skirted the wall on her way out, avoiding the crowd. They were mostly Al Bhed, but a few priests were mixed in as well. The refugees that had left Bevelle with them were guests of Home–many of them, with Cid's help, had moved on to find homes of their own throughout Spira, but others, surprisingly, opted to remain among the Al Bhed. It took some getting used to, but Rikku had to admit that it was interesting, if anything, to see priests on friendly terms with Al Bhed. A few of them were even taking the trouble to learn the Al Bhed tongue.

I suppose Yuna was right after all, Rikku thought in a moment of reflection. Without us constantly at each other's throats, we've discovered that many of Yevon's priests and priestesses aren't all that bad.

It was the highest compliment she'd ever paid to the Yevon clergy.

Rikku found Wakka in a room outside the main hall, seated in a chair and looking comfortable. "What are you doing?" Rikku demanded. "Why aren't you inside?"

Wakka grinned at her. "It's cooler out here widdout all dose people around, ya?"

He had a point, but Rikku shooed him back in anyway. "Don't make me go chasing around after you. You're supposed to be in there supporting your friend."

"All right, all right." Wakka groaned as he stood, then looked her over with a smile. "Did I tell you how pretty you look?"

"Only a hundred times. Flattery won't get you anywhere." Rikku stuck out her tongue at him.

"All right den, I just won't compliment you anymore. By de way," he added in an offhand tone, "you wanna get married next week?"

Rikku smiled. "Sure. I'll borrow Yuna's dress."

Wakka raised an eyebrow. "You mean dat?"

"No, I'd rather die an old maid, actually."

Wakka laughed and stole a kiss from her, then went back inside the main hall.

Adjacent to the main hall was another room, empty save for a pair of chairs and a floor-to-ceiling mirror. Inside Lulu waited patiently, seated on a chair, wearing a slender, floor-length gown with a small train–black, of course. Yuna fidgeted in front of the mirror, looking pale but happy. She wore blue silk patterned with gold butterflies, symbolizing good luck and love–traditional wedding garb of the Al Bhed.

The two women looked up as Rikku slipped inside, closing the door behind her. "Where's Auron?" she demanded.

"Somewhere cooler, I suppose," Yuna replied, smoothing imaginary wrinkles with hands that trembled. "I'm sure he'll be back in time."

"He'd better be," Rikku grumbled. Right on cue there came a polite knock on the door.

"I'll get it," Lulu said breathlessly, her cheeks rather pink.

As expected, Auron waited outside the door. He gave Lulu an appraising look as he stepped inside. "Hello, Lulu. You look very nice."

"Thank you," Lulu replied quite calmly, though her cheeks were still pink. "Same to you."

"They're ready for us," Auron reported to the women.

"Okay. C'mon, Lulu, let's get this over with." Rikku kissed Yuna on the cheek. "See you outside. Good luck!" She left with Lulu, shutting the door behind her.

Yuna smiled nervously at Auron. "How do I look? Not too wound up, I hope?"

"Radiant, actually. Just remember to smile."

She did, genuinely. "That's an easy one. Thank you for giving me away, Auron."

"It's my pleasure," the man assured her. "I'm only sorry your father isn't here to perform the task."

"He'd want you to in his stead, I know," Yuna said promptly. She hesitated, smoothing the front of her gown again. "Do you think he's proud of me?"

Auron smiled. "Of course he's proud of you. We are proud of you. Especially me."

Yuna stared at the floor, her cheeks stained crimson. "You don't know what it means to hear you say that," she whispered.

"It's merely the truth. The value of your deeds is immeasurable. You are the most magnanimous, compassionate young woman I have ever met." Auron gently smoothed her hair away from her face, then offered his arm. "I hope you're happy, Yuna. You deserve it."

She smiled up at him, threading her arm through his. "I couldn't be happier."

Bells tolled throughout Home as Yuna and Auron entered the wedding hall, heralding the coming of a bright future.

- The End -

***

Waking Dreams

(c) 2003

***

A (final) note from the Hime no Argh herself–

This is kind of a habit of mine, to write a big long author's note at the end of a big long story, in addition to all the little notes sprinkled throughout the chapters. I use this section to do a little wrap-up discussion on the story, give some thanks and acknowledgments, and of course, say goodbye to the work I've poured my heart and soul into over the last half a year. Feel free to skip it entirely if you so desire, but I hope you'll go ahead and read, because you might find something interesting.

When I first started Waking Dreams it was more or less because I was dissatisfied with the ending of FFX and wanted to create a somewhat happier conclusion. I knew from the start that I was going to reunite Tidus and Yuna, and I thought that was going to be it. I didn't actually come up with Miralesca and the concepts surrounding her until I was well into the story.

When I did create Miralesca, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with her, but her story slowly built itself and, looking back on it, I think it stemmed a lot from current events. While I was in the midst of writing this story, my country was in the midst of a war with Iraq. I spent a lot of time wondering if the world would be any different if we had something like Sin to worry about. Would there still be wars and conflict and evil in the world? Or would everyone be united in the cause of defeating our Sin? After all this time, I think I've arrived at an answer. Maybe.

Yuna's reunion with Tidus, which, though a wonderful device, was not enough to maintain an entire story on, as it turned out. So I revisited the world of the priests and brought a little of their story into the mix as well. I think Miralesca is very closely modeled after Seymour, because they both shared a vision of a better world, and although the motivations and even the end result were somewhat misguided, the vision was pure. In the end, there would be peace, one way or another.

To go off on a bit of a tangent–I never liked Yuna. She always seemed to me like a very weak character. Since finishing this story, however, I think my opinion of her has changed somewhat. She was my main protagonist, the one who stood against the vision of the antagonist with her own hopes and ideals. She stood firmly by those ideals, and I admire her for that strength. In her, I found a little bit of an answer to my original question. Even if differences were set aside and people were united in the purpose of defeating a Sin of their own, this relative peace would somehow be false. I don't think our world and its people can ever truly be at peace unless we learn to understand each other, as Yuna advocates at the end of Chapter 25. (Was I speaking through my character there? Oh yeah.)

So I tried my very best to present a side of the priests that even we, the veterans of FFX, could understand. Traditionally we side with the protagonists, and in our eyes the antagonists are the enemy, plain and simple. But I very much hope that there was a reader out there who sympathized with Miralesca and the priests, as I did. Understanding the motives and desires of the antagonist, seeing them as human rather than just the enemy, is the first step to peace.

That's basically all I wanted to say on the story. Again, current events were a heavy influence. Feel free to share your opinions, I'd love to hear them.

Now that that's done, I have a few acknowledgments/thanks to ramble through...

Firstly, a great heaping load of thanks are due to my beta, Dori-dori, also known as Dual on ff.net (go check out her stories!). She didn't want to be mentioned by name but I'm mentioning her anyway, hopefully she won't be too mad at me. ^^; There's really nothing I can say that will express my gratitude enough. She was an unbelievable help throughout the course of writing this story, to the point where even just having a conversation with her got me through a few enormous blocks. Her encouraging comments, sound advice, and great sense of humor were invaluable to helping me plow along through this story. I love her lots and hope that she'll continue to beta future writing endeavors. Thanks so much, Dori!

Secondly, an acknowledgment is of course due to Square and the makers of Final Fantasy X, because without them this story would not exist at all. Thanks for giving me inspiration!

And last but definitely not least, my heartfelt thanks and appreciation are due to you, the readers. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who read and reviewed this story, because without your enthusiasm and support, I would never have finished Waking Dreams. I would never even have gotten past the first chapter. You are the ones I write for; your favorable opinions are everything I strive for. Knowing someone out there is reading and enjoying my work is the very reason I want to be a writer. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Finally...yikes, is it finally already? Okay, not yet. First, let's hear about what's new from the Hime. Only one project is planned as of now, and by the time you read this note the first chapter will have already been posted. My new serial is called The Destined and it's a Legend of Zelda fanfiction, so if you're into the Zelda games I sure hope you'll give it a look! ^^ There are no other projects planned as of now, but if you like you can check my bio periodically, I'll always have information on what the Hime is up to available.

I suppose it's time at last to say goodbye. I hope you enjoyed reading Waking Dreams as much as I enjoyed writing it, and thank you so much.

Bye bye. Or as they say in the world of fiction...

The End

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Waking Dreams, copyright 2003 to C.F. No part of this publication may be used in any way without the author's express permission.