EPILOGUE:

LIFE GOES ON

One year later

"I announce Regent Cid Fabool IX, and Lady Hilda Garde, of Lindblum!" the page called out after blowing his trumpet. Garnet smiled as Uncle Cid and Aunt Hilda took their seats below. Next to her, Zidane fidgeted in his finery.

"Zidane, stop that, or I will have Steiner tie you to that chair," Garnet hissed quietly to him.

"That doesn't work on me, Dagger. Remember when you tried that during my etiquette lessons?" Zidane retorted. "Anyway, I need to fire my tailor when I get back to Treno: he doesn't know how to accommodate for my tail."

Garnet and Zidane weren't the only ones who were in the Royal Box area. Mikoto, as sister to Zidane, was sitting in an elegant dress which, while it didn't quite suit her, she nonetheless managed to look quite good in it. While she normally resided at Black Mage Village these days, she sometimes came to the Mist Continent for special occasions. "Brother, stop fidgeting, or I will spike your water with a paralytic agent."

"Sis…" Zidane groaned. There was a downside to becoming Lord King of Treno, as well as becoming recently engaged to become Prince Escort of Queen Garnet til Alexandros XVII. The wedding was still some way off, though, at least months if not a year or so into the future. Garnet wanted to be sure, and Zidane couldn't blame her. Still, a spark most definitely was there, and Steiner and Beatrix were becoming more approving of the former thief. And for all the downsides of nobility, there were more than enough upsides to it.

"She's got you there, Zidane," Harry said. He and Eiko were sitting on chairs to Garnet's left, along with Freya, who was dressed not in her military uniform, but in the finery of a noble of Burmecia. Officially, Freya was the Burmecian ambassador to Madain Sari. Less officially, she was their adoptive mother.

It had been a busy year for Madain Sari. After learning about the place, many of the survivors of Cleyra opted to emigrate to the lost Village of the Summoners, believing that they could make a new start. Freya, making the decision to adopt Harry and Eiko, had opted to go to Madain Sari as well, given permission by the King of Burmecia, who had survived Cleyra's destruction. So too did Sir 'Iron Tail' Fratley, who wished to try and rebuild his relationship with Freya, even if his memory hadn't returned. With help from the survivors of Burmecia and Cleyra, the small village had been partly rebuilt, and even now was thriving. In a quiet, understated way, but it was more lively than it had been after the attack of the Invincible.

Sadly, the same couldn't be said about the Black Mage Village, or at least its original inhabitants. With the Mist gone (despite a brief resurgence in the wake of Terra's destruction, followed by the Iifa Tree becoming inert), no more Black Mages could be made, at least initially. But Mikoto and Vivi, between them in a lab, had created a new type of Black Mage, one who was capable of living a long and fruitful life, and one that didn't require the Mist to be created. The first generation of new Black Mages, dubbed the children of Vivi, were the new inhabitants of Black Mage Village, along with the Genomes, who seemed to be getting souls of their own. Mikoto had succeeded Number 288 as leader of the village.

Sadly, Vivi died only a month ago, his body running down. But he died fulfilled, his short life most definitely not a waste. Harry and Eiko cried copiously at the funeral, and Garnet, along with Anima, Valefor and the Magus Sisters, sang Melodies of Life for Vivi's departed soul. He was the last of Kuja's Black Mages, the ones who gained self-awareness, to die. But he wasn't the last Black Mage to live. His legacy assured that. The Black Mage Village was now known as Soul.

For a brief time, the Iifa Tree spewed Mist all over the world. Mikoto said this was actually a reaction to Terra's destruction, and soon, the Iifa Tree would become inert. Its interference with the cycle of souls had come to an end. Terran and Gaian souls were now intermingled in the same cycle. Perhaps one day, the Terran souls would be reborn.

Amarant and Lani soon left Garnet's service, though they were invited here to the play. They were currently sitting in the seating below. Both mercenaries had come through their experiences a little wiser, and Garnet still occasionally hired them if she needed to.

Gaia, and especially the Mist Continent, was healing after the war and the parasitic actions of Terra. New peace treaties had been signed, and were looking to be adhered to, Garnet not being held responsible for the sins of her mother. The jewels that had contained Alexander had been given back to their rightful owners, with Burmecia taking the Cleyra fragment, now that Cleyra was no more, and many of the survivors currently residing in Madain Sari.

Now, Queen Garnet was 17 years old, as was Zidane. Harry was nine, and Eiko seven, though she acted older. The nightmares still came, albeit with less frequency than they had before. But they had settled into their new life, and their adventures had given them bonds that would never break.

Steiner and Beatrix were recently married. The two had overcome their differences some time ago, and had fallen in love. The ceremony was rather touching and beautiful, and Steiner was beginning to mellow a little. His bickering with Zidane had died down to mostly good-natured snark. It helped that Zidane did a good job in his position as Lord King, keeping Garnet apprised of the various deeds going on. The youngest son of Lord Bishop, a former student of Doctor Tot, had emigrated to Soul, and was apparently courting Mikoto(1).

Quina had returned to Qu's Marsh, the one near Lindblum, though the Qu was frequently retained as a chef for special occasions at Alexandria Castle. Doctor Tot was retained as a chancellor to Queen Garnet.

Garnet herself had found a way to regrow the summoner's horn that was removed all those years ago. She used a special glamour to hide it, though, as the public considered her to be the daughter of Queen Brahne. Through their Eidolons, the three surviving summoners learned that Garnet's birth name was Sarah, and her birth mother was Jane. Now, Garnet felt more confident as a Queen, and as a summoner, and her Eidolons now were able to manifest themselves in more human forms if necessary. Despite her newfound confidence, she never quite lost her occasional impish streak. Especially when it came to etiquette lessons for Zidane.

Zidane had become a little more mature. He certainly stopped flirting with women left, right, and centre, though he never really stopped with Garnet. He never really stopped his thieving lifestyle, just how he did it, proclaiming himself to be a 'gentleman adventurer', and leading expeditions to find lost treasures, which he often did with Choco the Chocobo and Mene the Moogle. Sometimes, he managed to rope Harry, Eiko, and Freya into these expeditions. He had also taken control of the Desert Palace where Kuja once resided, though he rarely resided there, considering the décor rather too gaudy for his liking. Instead, like Oeilvert, the place became a museum. He still had ties with Tantalus, and indeed, became their biggest patron outside of Lindblum. He may never be an official member of the theatre troupe cum gang of thieves, but he still had them as family. The fact that he helped them offload some of their ill-gotten gains through the Auction House helped. He also never lost his casual air, despite many an etiquette lesson.

As for Harry and Eiko? They were kept busy, helping the rebuilding of Madain Sari. Okay, they didn't actually help any construction, that wasn't the job of children. But Eiko helped out as a medic whenever there were injuries, and Harry found himself helping with the cooking sometimes. And many of the survivors of Cleyra were scholars and mages, helping them refine their own skills in magic, and teaching them many things about Gaia, even things they hadn't learned before. They didn't agree with the pacifistic attitude of the Cleyrans…but then again, there was little conflict on Gaia, at least of any note. They were still rebuilding after the wars Kuja and Brahne sparked. And the Cleyrans were nice people.

So too was Freya. She still trained with her Dragoon skills, despite the slight disapproval of the Cleyrans, though they at least recognised some martial skills were needed to ward off any wandering monsters. She proved to be an excellent mother to the two summoners, and Fratley, despite his amnesia, was a good father. The two Burmecians were trying to have children, and expand their family. Even now, Freya was pregnant, though she hadn't been for long.

"I wish Vivi was here to see this," Eiko murmured rather solemnly.

"His children are," Garnet said, pointing to the Black Mages in the audience, Prince Puck of Burmecia sitting next to one of them and conversing. "But yes. I too wish he was here to see this. Without him, we may not be here today."

Mikoto seemed particularly glum at the sentiment. After being uprooted from her life on Terra, it had been Zidane and Vivi who reached out to her more than anyone else. Zidane, she already treated as an annoying younger brother (despite her being younger than he was), while Vivi was the quieter younger brother. After getting over the destruction of Terra, the young Genome became, while still stoic and reserved, more friendly. Harry and Eiko had visited Soul mostly to see Vivi during his dying months, but they had grown a friendship with Mikoto as well. Another big sister, along with Garnet.

Anyway, today was Garnet's 17th birthday, and with it, the annual performance of I Want to Be Your Canary, performed by Tantalus. Baku had joked he wasn't going to try and kidnap Garnet this time.

Soon, the performance began, and Harry found his mind drifting, even as he watched the play. He wondered what was happening back on Earth. He had the feeling that one day, his destiny would lead him back there. He still had that fragment of soul in his scar. The other Eidolons were considering having him go through a modified version of the extraction procedure, which would target the soul fragment, but not them. They wanted Eiko on standby with a Life spell, as the procedure could potentially kill him. Indeed, they wanted to wait until he was 16 first, just in case things went awry.

He wasn't sure whether he'd go back voluntarily, unless the man who killed his parents, the man whose fragment of soul he had in his noggin, became a threat again. He had a good life here on Gaia. He had a family, even if only Garnet was related to him to any great degree as his cousin. He had Eiko as a sister, Freya as a mother, Fratley as a father, and all these comrades whom he had fought alongside as a family, for that was what they had become, to a degree, bound by ties of experience than by blood.

He didn't know it, but forces on Earth would actually be ensuring he would be brought back there. One day, sometime in the future. But for now, they would be able to enjoy life and childhood, even if some of their innocence had been stripped away from them.


After the performance, Garnet invited Tantalus, and her guests, to a small after-performance party. Zidane was currently holding forth with three members of Tantalus, Ruby, Blank, and Marcus, about the horrors of etiquette lessons, while Baku and Cinna discussed some upcoming job they wanted help for with Lani and Amarant. Doctor Tot and Mikoto were discussing various biological precepts, particularly those relating to genetics, while Regent Cid and Lady Hilda were talking to Steiner and Beatrix.

And Queen Garnet? She was standing with Harry and Eiko, along with Freya. The people she had invited to this party all knew what she was, and she cancelled the glamour hiding her horn. Even with the horn exposed, it didn't look odd. If anything, it made her look more regal, almost like a unicorn given human form. "Thank you, for coming here," she said.

"No problem," Eiko said. "The Invincible's kind of cool to fly in, once you get over the fact that it destroyed Madain Sari and Alexandria. But that was Kuja and Garland. Mikoto's been teaching us how to fly it. Apparently it can even go to the moons if we want to."

"We'd need spacesuits if we wanted to walk on the moons, though," Harry said. "Apparently there's enough technology left at Oeilvert to help Gaia out. Mostly medical stuff, though. Mikoto's a bit worried about weapons. Not that many were left at Oeilvert, barring the monsters."

"And Ark," Garnet said. She had recently embarked on a trip to Oeilvert, escorted by Steiner and Beatrix, and managed to get Ark as a new Eidolon.

Zidane, having finally finished talking with his friends from Tantalus, strutted over. "Sorry about that, the guys wanted to catch up. You all right?"

"Of course," Garnet said. "It's hard to believe that it's been a year since you kidnapped me."

"It's harder to believe that we've ended up here," Zidane said. "I mean, I'd fallen for you, Dagger, but…if I ever thought about it, I never thought we'd be at this point. Engaged. Okay, it's a pretty long engagement, but even so…and me, a noble of Treno! I robbed the very house I live in now!" He looked a little pensive. "I have to wonder, though…could Kuja have been any different, if he got a better start in life? I mean, I only grew up the way I did because I was raised by Tantalus. If I didn't…I could have been like Kuja, or how Mikoto was. One of Garland's pet monsters."

"Nobody knows, Zidane," Garnet said. "Look at myself. What would I have grown up to be like, had Madain Sari not been destroyed, and I hadn't ended up at Alexandria, raised as a princess? Or Harry, had he remained on that world his parents sent him to? I feel that it is useless to speculate of such things. Better to live for the present, than to dwell on the past, and what could have been. We should remember the past, and those who fell, yes. But we should not let it stop us from living."

"Well said, Your Majesty," Freya said. "Sound advice for young and old alike."

Not that Harry and Eiko needed to take such advice. They lived their life as well as they could, and with bonds of family and friends that would last for the rest of their lives. Nothing could destroy those bonds. Nothing.

EPILOGUE ANNOTATIONS:

And here you have it, the end of A Third Summoner, my first Final Fantasy IX-related fic, and the first of my (to date) three crossovers with Harry Potter. One day, I may write a sequel to this fic, but at the moment, I've got too many stories around to even consider it. The hypothetical sequel will be set around the time of The Goblet of Fire, but with Harry at sixteen years of age, if my arithmetic of what age he should be given the different times between worlds should be.

Anyway, if you still want a Final Fantasy IX fix, I have plenty of fics for you to peruse. There's an ongoing Harry Potter crossover called Amethyst and Garnet, featuring a female Harry as Garnet's sister. There is Black Mage of Kuoh, a crossover with Highschool DxD where Vivi is reincarnated as Issei Hyoudou.

Finally, there are my pure Final Fantasy IX fics. Raison d'Etre involved Mikoto ending up on Gaia after Kuja kills Brahne, and has Mikoto having to cope with losing her purpose as an Angel of Death, even as she becomes friends with a Treno noble called Wedge. Zidane of Burmecia, meanwhile, has Kuja leaving an infant Zidane at Burmecia rather than Lindblum and Tantalus, and him becoming the adopted little brother of Freya. This seemingly small change has bigger consequences when the events of Final Fantasy IX come around.

Anyway, thank you for your support. Hope you've enjoyed A Third Summoner.

1. A reference to Wedgewood J Bishop, aka Wedge, the OC I made to be Mikoto's love interest in my story Raison d'Etre. Because I already had a character called Wedge in this story, I just alluded to that rather than naming him.