Robin and Lucina sat across from each other, he on his cot and she at his desk's chair. The silence between them bore down on Robin. He didn't make any attempt to break it, though; he welcomed the time to think, to make sure that he had everything in his mind and his heart perfectly ordered. What he would say in the next few minutes would likely be the most crucial words of his life. He wouldn't—couldn't—permit himself any mistakes. One misstep could end with Lucina's departure.

More important than that, though, was the distress that he was sure that she was experiencing. She had sought him out, but hadn't said a single thing once they were within the privacy of his tent. Her eyes were fixed on the flickering lanternlight and her body was completely still. Robin didn't dare to hurry her. He would wait however long she needed him to wait. He would give his life for her in the blink of an eye; what were a few more minutes?

Eventually, Lucina raised her head, met Robin's gaze, and spoke. As he'd expected, her question was straightforward, soft in intonation but cutting to the core of the matter.

"Why did you save me?"

Just as he'd already decided to do, Robin answered her with a firm voice and equal forthrightness.

"Because I love you."

Lucina went rigid. She was momentarily lost in a daze. She had suspected—hoped—that this was to have been Robin's response, but now that she had it, she couldn't process it. Baffled, desperate, she searched his eyes, every part of her screaming to reject those words and every part of her screaming to reciprocate them.

The reason couldn't have been that simple. It couldn't. How many people would now die because of something as inconsequential as whatever affection the two of them might share? There had to have been a consideration that she was missing, some explanation that justified the sacrifice that Robin had made without anyone else's consent. Something that made it right for her to have survived when others would now be deprived of that chance. The notion that Robin was telling her the complete truth, that the strength of his feelings for her had been the only impetus that he had required, completely terrified Lucina.

And in her heart of hearts, contemptible person that she was, she was elated beyond measure.

She stifled that joy, striking it down and shoving it deep as it would go into her being.

"Do you have any idea what you've done?" she whispered. "Not just to all those innocents you've endangered, including my aunt, but to me as well? For as long as I live, I will have to carry the weight of the deaths to come."

Robin grimaced. Obviously, a confession wasn't enough to wrap this up nice and tidily. He ignored the part of himself that was frantic to learn if Lucina shared his feelings.

"I know. And I'm sorry." He twisted his lips, shaking his head. "What I mean is, I'm sorry that those were the consequences. But like I said, I have no intention of apologizing to anyone for saving your life—not even to you."

Lucina looked away. She folded her arms around herself. "You didn't have the right, Robin."

"No, I didn't," he agreed. "But what's done is done. Neither of us can take that back anymore. All we can do is pick ourselves up again and try to change the future for the better." He raised a hand and clenched it into a fist. "Just like we always have."

She fixed a hard, sidelong glance upon him. "And you think that because this reasoning is supported by love, it is unassailable?"

Robin was taken aback.

"We're not special, Robin," Lucina continued. She frowned. "Well, I suppose that you are, given that you were born as the Heart of Grima. But I'm not nearly so significant. Anyone with Naga's blood could take over my role. I'm expendable—no more valuable than anyone else."

Frustration began to take root in Robin—an unintended development. "Wait a minute," he began to protest.

Lucina ignored him, pressing on. "There are also many who feel the exact same way about someone as you claim to do about me."

"It's not a claim!" Robin interjected, indignation rising. "It's the truth!"

"Be that as it may, you've this day created widows who've yet to lose their husbands." Lucina's expression became pained. "And for what? My sake? You could find a slew of replacements to choose from in other worlds. My life is of no import. Just like the other me you knew, I-"

Robin's eyes shot wide. He sprang to his feet and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Don't ever say that!" he shouted.

Lucina gaped at Robin's intensity. The only other time he had angered toward her in earnest before had been at Arena Ferox, and that paled in comparison to the mien that Robin gave off now. Did her words actually aggrieve him more than pointing Falchion at his heart had?

"I hate the way you treat your life like it's something worthless!" Robin snarled. "I hate it! Why can't you accept that you deserve to be happy?! What terrible sin have you committed that you think it's you who's wronged the world and not the other way around?!"

Lucina was stunned, briefly rendered unable to muster a response. Then anger of her own swelled in her breast. She jabbed a finger into Robin's chest. "And who are you to decide how that life must be spent?! I made my own choice in that moment! I resolved to die for what I thought was right, and you disregarded that entirely!"

"That just proves my point!" Robin snapped. "Why should someone as selfless as you keep getting the godsdamn short end of the stick?! It's a sick fucking joke!"

"Whatever fondness you might have for me does not absolve you of wrongdoing, Robin!" Lucina yelled. "I should have died, and you should have let me!"

Robin's arms went slack, though his hands remained upon her shoulders. His face bore the exact same anguish that he had worn earlier when Emmeryn had been taken.

"Do you really not want to live, then?" he whispered in a wounded, desperate tone.

The question drove the breath from Lucina. "I-" She faltered. She knew the words that were supposed to come, but they refused to heed her.

Here was the man she loved, confessing that she was in his heart as he was hers. Here he was, doing everything in his power to give her a future, heedless of cost. Did she really have the strength to cast that away? Wouldn't she have done the same things for him that he had done for her? Could she ever have brought herself to stand aside and allow Robin to meet a cruel end had their positions been reversed?

The accusatory finger that she had been brandishing toward him lowered. Her vision blurred beneath budding tears.

Naga damn her. Why was she so weak?

"I'm sorry for putting you through this," Robin murmured, face downcast. "It wasn't what I meant to happen. None of it was. If I'd been stronger-"

A noise of exasperation slipped out of Lucina's mouth. She tried to rub her eyes dry. "Once again, you attempt to take all those wrongs of the world you speak of upon your shoulders, as if you alone have the fortitude to bear them. One might call that arrogance."

Robin fell silent, evidently surprised and worried. Seeing this, Lucina made an effort to soften her tone.

"I hate that you try to take all the blame and responsibility onto yourself," she said. She brushed her fingers over the bandages on his arm. "I hate seeing you suffer because you think it's the best outcome that can be managed."

"Then you understand exactly how I feel about you," he replied.

Lucina closed her eyes. "I would like to think so." She centered herself, then opened them. "Changing the future is as much my duty as it is yours. If you are at fault for misusing power, then I am equally so for my lacking it." She met his gaze. "The guilt is ours to share."

Robin growled. "But you didn't do anything wrong! You shouldn't-"

"The guilt is ours to share," Lucina insisted. "As is the atonement."

Robin stopped, searching her. Something in his expression was hesitant, guarded but hopeful.

Lucina felt as if she were standing upon a precipice. There was a chasm before her. She continued, skirting its edge. "I cannot in good conscience waste this life of mine that came at such horrendous expense. To do so would be an unforgivable insult. I will use my survival to save as many people as I can, and pray that this is enough to absolve me. That is what I've decided."

Pensive, Robin nodded. "All right. I'll do the same. That's the least that I owe after what I've done."

No, that wasn't true at all. He had far greater obligations. He couldn't allow Lucina to destroy herself with her good intentions. She needed to understand that what had happened hadn't invalidated her right to happiness. If he could just make that clear, get her to see that-

Shut up, he chided himself. His own selfishness was speaking. The strategic part of his mind was caught up in pursuing the sequence of events that led to Lucina choosing to be with him. He was so odious, so fucking transparent. What was I want Lucina to be happy if not shorthand for I want Lucina to be happy so that I can be happy? Robin was disgusted with himself.

But even still, he couldn't stomach the thought of Lucina living in a state of perpetual penance, never allowing herself anything resembling peace. Fear of that drove Robin to speak.

"Just promise me that you'll actually live."

Lucina was bewildered. Where was Robin going with this?

The chasm whispered to her, plying her to fall.

"We've a long road ahead of us," Robin said. "Wars to end, demons to smite. But there is a future at the end of it all. There has to be. And I don't want you doubting that you deserve to see it. I want you to be able to smile every day and look forward to every tomorrow." He swept an arm out. "So don't live like you're some Risen, shambling from objective to objective and never feeling so much as a scrap of happiness! You can regret what happened, but don't let that be all that defines you!"

Her heart hammered in her chest. The chasm beckoned.

Robin hesitated. "I... I know it's not my place to say this. But I'll do whatever I can to make you happy. I'll follow you down any road if you let me." He gave a wry, uneasy expression. "It's... It's fine if you don't love me. But-"

Without realizing it, Lucina threw herself from the precipice.

And in doing so, she found that it had been the horizon all along, and that she was now floating in the dawn.

"Of course I do!" she shouted. "Of course I love you, you stupid, brilliant man!"

Robin's face went slack, then slowly turned red. "R-Really?!"

Lucina swallowed and nodded. Her cheeks burned.

Robin brightly grinned.

Lucina struggled to stick to the impetus of their conversation. Her eyes were stinging. "I can't be expected to fully move past what happened today with any speed. It will be slow going between us."

His smile became more subdued, more tender. "I know. I'll be there with you every step of the way to help you through."

Tears began to fall freely from her now. Lucina lunged forward and pulled Robin into an embrace, which he immediately reciprocated.

"Is this really all right?" she whispered. "Am I really allowed to know happiness while surrounded by so much misery?"

Robin kissed her on the brow. "Of course. And anyone who wants to stop you will have to get through me."

She arched her head upward and kissed him on the lips in reply. They held like that for a dizzying length of time, and when they broke, Lucina felt an exultation that she hadn't imagined possible.

For all the harshness of the world, for all its and Lucina's inequities, Naga had still been merciful enough to offer her blessings.

Though she was crying, Lucina was also smiling like she never had before.

There wasn't any conversation about the sleeping arrangements. They let go of each other momentarily, sank into Robin's bed, and then were once again in each other's arms. Neither of them attempted to escalate their intimacy—Robin could tell that Lucina was as exhausted as he was. He carefully brushed lingering, errant tears away from her face, which earned him a faint, precious smile. Lucina was soon sleeping peacefully, her head pillowed in the crook of Robin's arm. His own eyes began to close, too soon for him to fully revel in a dream come true.

Their trials would begin in earnest come morning. But that was fine. The night protected this moment, and it was all that they needed.



Well friends, I think I have some explaining to do . Let's have a fireside chat with your erstwhile pal, Yosei. Firstly, I'm sorry that I dropped off the face of the earth. That was shitty of me. In the coming days I'll be trying to catch up on my correspondence, so please don't think I'm ignoring you if you see that this chapter is up, yet I've not responded to the PM or review you sent ages ago.

As to why I stopped working on this project: Well, for one, I became engrossed in my professional work, which still hasn't gotten anywhere and likely won't for a long while yet. (I have faith in it, of course, but this is one of those big-fish-small-pond deals.) I became increasingly convinced that working on a fanfic I could not (and wouldn't have even if I could have) profit off of was a dead end, and while not a waste of time per se given that any writing practice is beneficial and that I do feel a level of responsibility to my audience, I had a hard time convincing myself that the effort an involved project like this requires wasn't better spent on original works. I still had affection for Another Again, though, so I found myself unable to pull the trigger and abandon it completely. In retrospect, I wish I had been more transparent and made it clear in my own words that I was no longer feeling incentivized to continue writing this story. Again, I apologize for that.

In the time since the last update, I've learned (and hopefully, improved) a great deal. I've met fantastic authors and friends whose insights have had unquantifiable value to me. And recently, I feel like I've recaptured a spark that I hadn't realized had dampened. I went back and reread works that I had admired, and they reminded me of the things I love about writing. They reminded me about how much I love well-constructed settings and well-realized characters, how much I love beautiful prose, how much I love clever turns of phrase and dialogue exchanges. They reminded me how I want to keep trying to create these things in my own right, how I want to improve at it as much as possible. And, well, as it turns out, one of the things I wanted to keep creating was this story.

So where does this leave us? I'll aim today for the transparency I failed at before: I don't know. I can't guarantee this isn't a flash in the pan bout of inspiration and that my desire to continue here won't wane again. I can't guarantee that I'll have anything resembling a remotely consistent release schedule. I won't make arbitrary promises or even assure that there will be another installment after this one.

But I do have this one short, greatly overdue chapter, and I hope it was at least a little worth waiting for.

(...I did consider hammering this chapter out a while back and throwing it up with complete seriousness on April Fool's. No author's notes, no nothing. Would've been a lark imo.)