Final chapters. The bane of my existence.
Beta: College Fool
Cover Art: Kegi Springfield
Peace at last?
Ironwood signs treaty with Grimm.
Gods among us; time to find religion?
White Fang fights beside Atlas.
Councillor says no to Grimmigrants!
Mercury let his scroll fall and leaned back in his seat. The headlines were going wild and had been ever since General Ironwood returned from his `crusade` with a fanciful tale of Gods, Grimm and the end of the world, along with the evidence to back it up.
It was probably supposed to be kept secret but had been leaked in less than twelve hours. Personally, Mercury thought Ironwood was the one to leak it – or he'd let someone else do it. This benefitted him after all and seemed like something Cinder would have done. Either way, the world had gone wild with the news. Oh sure, there were people claiming it was a hoax, a forgery or the lizard people taking their rightful place at last, but those in power – those who mattered for making such decisions – couldn't afford to ignore what they'd seen and heard.
"Did you read the news!?" Velvet asked, appearing behind him.
"Amazing, isn't it?"
"Hm." Mercury sipped some soda. "Can't believe he want to call them `Grimmigrants` though."
He laughed as Velvet slapped on his shoulder, upset with his teasing. "I know, I know." Hooking an arm around her waist, he brought her in to sit on his lap.
Velvet didn't resist, but she made a show of crossing her arms and looking away to make it clear what she thought of his sense of humour.
"I read the news, Velvet. Not like I could ignore it. Did you hear that Oobleck has turned all his lessons into watching the recording? He says that we're living in a moment that will go down in history, so it still counts as a lesson."
"Grimm, humans and faunus at peace. What do you think we'll do now? We're out of a job."
"You could become a stripper."
"That's not funny!"
"Ow! Ow!" Mercury shielded his head from her blows, though he couldn't quite hide is grin. It was always fun to get her riled up. Velvet became so much more assertive. "You know I didn't mean it like that. The only one I want you taking your clothes off in front of is me."
"Smooth, man. Smooth." Coco swept in with her usual flair and ignored Velvet's flustered beating of her boyfriend, sitting down across the table. "Nice to see you two already starting your daily BDSM session."
"I can't help it!" Velvet wailed, red-faced. "He always says stuff to embarrass me."
"Heh. I think he gets off on it."
Catching Velvet's arms and wrapping them around her stomach, Mercury manoeuvred the irate faunus into a more comfortable position on his legs. When she growled his name, he silenced her with a quick peck on the lips. It always worked to calm her down.
"If you're done talking about my fetishes, Coco, we were discussing the recent news."
Coco rolled her eyes. "Who isn't? So, Vel, how does it feel to know you could have been princess of the Grimm if you hadn't settled for this bum?"
"Oh, I've made mistakes."
"Hey!" Mercury said again. "I'll have you know I'm King of my own domain."
"The domain of half-robotic people?" Fox asked. "Because I think Ironwood pulls rank on you there."
"At least I have depth perception."
"Children." Yatsuhashi warded off another squabble with a wide smile. "We should not be fighting here. Today is a day for celebration; a day where the battles of the past become just that and we have a chance to look forward, towards a better future."
"Yeah. Councillors whining about Grimm immigration."
"I said better," Yatsu pointed out. "Not perfect."
"They'll get over it," Coco said, "Once they realise that they can now expand, like, anywhere they want. Need more room? Let's just double the size of Vale. The only thing stopping us now is building materials and labour."
"More jobs as a result," Yatsu said. "More industry. Cheaper homes. Cheaper insurance. Not only in Vale but across all the Kingdoms. There will be an economic boom from this, not to mention a population boom."
"I think the real question," Velvet said softly, "Is whether I can get a Beowolf puppy."
Coco perked up. "Now that's not a bad idea!"
"No," Mercury said. "I'm fairly sure it's a terrible idea. Think of the poo. Think how big it'll grow. Think of how big the poo will grow when it does!"
Velvet squirmed and turned to face him, biting her lower lip, eyes watery.
"Velvet, no. Come on. How about a normal puppy? How about a cat?"
Her long ears drooped down on either side of her head.
"I-I'll get you a Beowolf puppy…"
The one-eighty was all the more jarring because he knew he'd been played. Velvet squealed happily and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him so tight that he couldn't help but find the concept of calling up Jaune for a favour perhaps worth it.
"Whipped," Coco said, making a cracking sound.
He couldn't really deny it.
"The kid actually managed it." Roman shook his head, amazed. "He actually pulled it off."
Neo, sat beside him on the sofa in their warehouse, nodded her head. Her eyes were fixed on the TV, which was showing, for what felt like the fiftieth time, the final fight once more. Showing people being knocked around like they didn't matter as two beings who had come close to destroying the world duked it out.
"You know, this could have blown up in their faces. They technically put all of Remnant at risk. If it failed, we'd have all been wiped out."
Annoyingly, Neo seemed happy with the idea.
In the end, it wouldn't matter. Roman could read the tides of public opinion better than most; it was important in his line of work. People would point out what he had, but those that did would be shouted down. What really mattered was that the three biggest factions who hated one another – humanity represented by Atlas, faunus by the White Fang and Grimm by… well, the Grimm – had all fought together against a bigger threat.
If there was one way to unite people, it was by making them hate someone else more.
The God of Light would become that someone. Ironically, the God of Darkness would become beloved by all, along with the Grimm – who were technically his creatures. That alone would go a long way to preventing people speaking bad of them.
Who wanted to piss off the God of Dark by killing his creations?
"Things are going to change around here, Neo. Mark my words. The city is going to grow, get richer, and the police will be a whole lot less busy now that the Grimm are gone. Huntsmen will be tasked to dealing with people like us."
Neo looked intrigued.
The goons behind Roman looked confused. "Boss, are you saying…?"
"I'm afraid I am, Perry."
The man shook. "But thievery is all we've ever known. What will we do?"
"What?" Roman looked back, hooking an arm over the back of the sofa. "We're not giving up the game, you numbskull."
"We're not? But I thought you were saying it would be harder than ever."
"It will be. The risks will be greater, our enemies more united." Roman grinned maniacally. "But doesn't that just mean the rewards will be greater, too? More wealth and power than ever for the taking. We'll make new names for ourselves, a new empire." Standing, Roman pointed at a random goon. "You."
"I want a miniature state of the God of Darkness in every room. White Fang want to claim him, do they? The dark has ever been the domain of thieves like us, boys. If anyone is taking him as their patron God, it's us!"
Some of the boys stood a little taller.
"There are new opportunities everywhere, boys! New homes, new neighbourhoods, people who need protection. More population, money, even more space the coppers will have to patrol. There's a whole new world of profit out there just waiting for someone to reach out and take it."
The men looked excited. Neo was standing on the back of the sofa, gripping her weapon with a manic grin. This was what they lived for; not for peace, but for the thrill of the moment. Maybe it would be a short life, maybe not, but whatever the case, it would be glorious.
"Who's with me!?"
Every single one of them cheered.
Jacques Schnee sat and stared out of his office window.
The winds of change were coming.
At the SDC, things would need to change as well. It was inevitable. The pursuit of profit was something he did not regret, even if many hated him for it, but the truth was that the old ways would not work again now. With the Grimm turned peaceful, expansions towards dust would not need armed security. Competition would rise and they would offer better wages and care packages for workers.
The SDC's miners would leave in droves.
Even were he to pre-empt it and raise wages now, they still might, if only on principle. Not raising wages, however, would be a disaster. If the White Fang didn't lash out at him, Atlas would for endangering the peace deal Ironwood had made, and there was always the chance the Grimmlands might come for him directly.
Profit was one thing, but survival was another.
Like it or not, the SDC's reputation had been badly tarnished. It had never mattered before because Jacques knew the world needed them. Needed their dust, their commitment to mine it cheaply in a hostile environment, and even those who hated what they did to the faunus didn't quite hate it enough to go without heating, electricity or the other conveniences of life.
Now, they would.
His time was over.
"Yes, Mr Schnee?"
"Contact the press associations and schedule a press release to run tomorrow. I believe it is time I tendered my resignation."
Klein, the insufferable man, did not quite hide his smile well enough. "If I might ask, sir, who will take over in your place?"
"I am sure you know the answer to that already."
"As you will." The man bowed. "Please excuse me, sir. I shall have the PR department make arrangements. In the meantime, I should Grimm Dragon-proof the manor."
"Yes," Jacques said, closing his eyes. "That might not be a bad idea…"
Perhaps as part of the rebranding process, he should suggest Weiss change their family symbol from a snowflake to a dragon. No. The decision was no longer his to make. Whitley would be furious, but there was little he could do. The boy's reputation was as bad as his own, while Weiss had essentially made herself one of the most powerful people in the world right under his nose. Her connections included General Ironwood and the future King of the Grimmlands.
She had even faced down a God.
A strange, uncertain feeling welled up inside of him.
Was this pride?
He thought it might be.
"Well played, Weiss. Well played."
"The news just came in, boss. Your dau-" Vernal winced. "Yang and her group defeated the God of Light. People are talking about peace between human and Grimm. Not to mention the White Fang calming down."
Raven stared out over the camp. "I see. Thank you, Vernal. Go about your business."
It looked like Vernal wanted to say more but, knowing she was dismissed, the girl nodded and hurried away. It was a starry night, one fit for memories and reflection. Something Raven usually hated. Something she hated now as well.
"I guess you were right in the end, Summer. If I'd kept fighting…"
Her eyes closed.
If, if, if. She'd thought on that simple word a lot in the last sixteen or so years. Hard not to.
It didn't matter.
She'd burned her bridges, made her mistakes and chosen to live with them. Going back to Taiyang now, if the love even existed anymore, would only bring pain to everyone. They couldn't pretend to be what they once had been, and Raven wouldn't insult Yang by trying to become her mother once more.
Life was living with the consequences of one's actions, for better or for worse.
Things will change in Mistral. The huntsmen population is down, but with the threat of the Grimm gone, it won't matter. The authorities will finally be able to turn their attention on the criminal families that rule the city. There will be a reckoning for sure.
None of that was her business. Not much was. The tribe, Vernal, herself. Those were the only things she could hold claim to, and with Salem having given up her hunt on the maidens, even that small responsibility was no more.
Life would continue.
It always did.
She would have to find her own way in it.
"Good luck, Yang," she said, raising a toast. "Not that you'll need it. You're a smarter girl than me. You'll hold on to what makes you happy… and not run away like a coward."
Her daughter would do better.
In Vacuo, a member of the Council spoke up.
"Looks like the Grimm have made peace."
"Cool." another said.
"And Gods exist."
Not much happened in Vacuo.
Not much ever did.
"I can't believe it's actually over."
Nicholas shifted slightly, looking down to his wife, who was laid against his side, one hand thrown over his chest and her legs against his. One of his arms was under her head, already going numb. With a great force of effort, he forced it up and around her shoulders.
"Nothing," Salem said. As pale as snow to some and inhuman, but to him the most beautiful woman ever in the world. "I just… I'm not sure I believe it. My whole life, my whole existence, feels like something I never had a choice in. First the tower, then Ozma's death and finally my curse. What few moments I did have to myself… I made such mistakes."
"Mistakes I'm thankful for."
"How can you say that?"
"Because those mistakes let me find you."
Salem's head came down on the crook of his shoulder. Her hair tickled the skin of his arm.
"We've got our lives ahead of us, Salem. Our human lives. Not forever. Not eternity. Maybe thirty – forty years, and that's it. We're not going to live forever. Neither of us."
"Do you regret it?"
"No. Of course not. I… I could not see you die and not be able to follow. The first time that happened, it broke me. If the same happened here and then I was forced to watch everyone else die, as well? All our girls. Jaune. I would not have come out the same. I'd have been driven mad."
He held her close. "Don't think of it. That's not what happened. That's not what will ever happen now."
"You're right. I just…" Salem laughed softly. "I suppose I can't stop thinking about it. The possibility, what nearly happened, what could have happened. My mind hasn't caught on to the fact that it never will. Maybe it just hasn't sunken in yet."
"Give it time," he said. "We have plenty of it now."
"Yes." Salem's eyes drifted shut. "Yes, we do. All our lives ahead of us."
Satisfied that he'd calmed her down, or that she'd feel better when she woke up in the morning and realised this was all real, Nicholas leaned back and closed his own eyes as well. "Didn't expect it would be Jaune of all people to manage this, though."
"Oh. I had an idea," Salem giggled.
"That, my dear, is a lie. You tried to drag him back from Beacon."
"To motivate him."
"Sure. I'll pretend I believe that." He couldn't say he knew what it was, really. Cinder? He doubted it. Cinder was lovely, sweet and kind, but she wasn't the type to teach Jaune how to save the world. Even he had to accept that.
Maybe it was just Jaune himself.
Maybe it was pure luck.
In the end, it didn't really matter.
"I can't help but think I'm forgetting something, though," Salem whispered.
He'd done it.
After so many months, he'd done it!
Hazel Rainart threw back his head and laughed towards the heavens, arms held out wide and his eyes wide. Gripped in one hand was a lead rope, which trailed along the floor towards a black equine Grimm with armoured plates on its chest and flank.
And, most importantly, a jagged horn on its forehead.
"I HAVE FOUND THE GRIMM UNICORN!" Hazel roared. "THE TITLE OF BEST UNCLE WILL FINALLY BE MINE!"
The unicorn neighed.
"Ahem. Yes. Well, it's time for us to make our way back to the Grimmlands." He tugged on the Unicorn Grimm's rope and it calmly walked behind him. "I wonder what everyone has gotten up to in my absence?"
Probably nothing important.
Twenty Years Later
"I'm fully aware, Councillor, and the Festival of Darkness will continue as it always has. Yes, I'm aware of the tight deadline. Yes, I… Yes, well. No, I haven't invited them yet. Yes, of course I'll invite his majesty and his family. Yes." Oscar pinched the bridge of his nose. "I will discuss an extension on our trade agreement. Please, Councillor, leave it all with me."
The person on the other end of the line did no such thing and continued to rabbit into Oscar's ear, leaving him to slump against the wall of the elevator and hope for it to crash. That or break down so he'd have an excuse to accidentally drop the scroll and break it.
"Hm? Yes, yes, of course I'm listening to you. It would be rude of me not to."
Oscar ignored the laughter in the back of his head.
"I'm afraid I'm about to enter a meeting at the moment, though, so I shall have to cut you off. First day of Beacon. Very busy. You know how it is." He sighed and listened. "Yes, I'm aware this is important, but I also have several VIP students this year, so it's important we make a good showing."
The Councillor challenged him on who.
"Well, there is the young Mr Ironwood for one."
The Councillor choked.
"And then there are the Crown Princes of the Grimmlands, both of whom-" Oscar grinned. "Oh, you think I should spend time planning for them? I'm glad you agree. Thank you for understanding, Councillor. I'll talk to you at a later time."
The call ended. The elevator door opened as he reached the top of the tower and stepped out into his office.
"To hell with politics. I've no idea how Jaune dealt with it for so long." No, he did. He had Weiss do a whole load of planning, and then fumbled his way through the rest of it on instinct alone. Oscar wished he could manage the same, but alas, despite spending so much time with them, he hadn't picked up their habits.
Well, their good habits anyway, he thought, reaching for a cup of coffee with an almost reverent smile. He'd never really understood why Ozpin constantly yearned for it and hadn't until he'd gone and gotten himself a job.
Oh God, after working for a couple of years, he'd learned the necessity of the wonderful drink.
"You know, I had to do this for hundreds of years."
"No one asked you, Ozpin."
"I'm just saying."
Oscar rolled his eyes. Ozpin had a habit of `just saying` whenever Oscar did something that the much older man deemed `not quite good enough`. The term backseat driving had never described his situation better.
"Don't be like that. You're Oscar Pine, the youngest headmaster of Beacon for generations. What would your students think if they heard you talking to yourself?"
"Being an eccentric old coot worked for you, I'm told. I'll be fine."
Ozpin chuckled inside his head.
It had been twenty years, give or take a year or two, that they'd been together. Twenty years since the treaty between the Grimmlands and the other Kingdoms. Twenty years since Grimm and humans had truly fought as enemies.
It had been a good twenty years, Oscar reflected. Not the easiest; for every person happy with the new way, there was someone who wasn't. People who had lost loved ones to the Grimm and still wanted revenge. Old huntsmen and huntresses who couldn't lose the thrill of hunting large beasts. Accidents continued to happen, even now.
"You cannot save every person, Oscar. We must look at the bigger picture."
"I know. I'm not fifteen anymore, Oz."
The boy he'd once been was long gone. After the fall of the God of Light and the battle that brought all the different sides together, he'd been lost on what to do with his life. Ozpin's quest, his journey, was over. With the threat of them merging gone and Ozpin choosing to fade into the background and let Oscar live his own life, the world had suddenly been very open and very frightening.
The first thing had been going back to talk to his parents.
"And wasn't that a fun conversation…"
"Not my fault. You literally used my body to fight the God of Light, something that was shown across all the Kingdoms. Mom freaked when she saw it!"
"Don't act like it didn't benefit you as well…"
Oscar's cheeks flushed. Well, the attention had been nice, especially from all the women who fought he was `just dreamy` and `so brave`. He'd been fifteen, turning sixteen, alright? The world could forgive him for being hormonal.
"Someone has to forgive me, since a certain someone wouldn't let me have a chance with any woman under the age of twenty-one."
"I am over two thousand years old, Oscar. I refuse to sleep with a teenager. Even as a passenger. Besides, I still say you should have tried your luck with Glynda."
"Glynda scares the ever-loving crap out of me."
"It's a part of her charm."
"Enough about women," Oscar said, coughing. "If Melanie hears me talking about other girls, she'll kill me. If her sister finds out, she'll castrate me first. Besides, you're hardly one to talk about women, Ozpin. We all know what a travesty your love life was."
"I have made many mistakes…"
"Yes. Yes. We all know. You still need to respond to that invitation from Salem."
"Do we? Do we really?"
"Ozpin, she's getting married. That's not a small thing."
"She gets married every two years."
"They're re-affirming their vows."
"They're making not-so-veiled hints at their oblivious children, you mean. Most people get married once in their life, maybe twice. Salem has married me once and Nicholas what feels like twelve times."
"Fourteen," Oscar corrected.
"There was the issue with the false priest, remember? She was afraid it wouldn't stick, so she had it twice that year."
"Ah. Of course. Fourteen it is." Ozpin sighed dramatically. "Let me have control later and I'll sign it. I suppose it's not so bad to spend a little time with everyone. Diplomacy is important, and it would be nice to see how Qrow is doing. Whether having six children hasn't killed him already."
"Coral hasn't broken him yet."
"Give her time…"
Oscar laughed to himself and thumbed through the documents on his desk. Over the years he'd become a master of working and talking in his head at the same time. Ozpin helped, adding his vast experience in paperwork to Oscar's own understanding. The true path to enlightenment, he'd learned, was in having a very good personal assistant.
He'd wanted Weiss Schnee for it, but, well, she was busy reforming the SDC and also Atlas at the same time. A worthy task on both ends, and one more important than keeping Beacon up and running. He'd settled for Nora instead.
"I still cannot believe she became a teacher, let alone took Glynda's position…" Ozpin made a coughing sound. "On the other hand, I can fully believe that she took over Fort Port and issued a challenge to all students to storm and conquer it for extra credit."
"The world works in mysterious ways. When it comes to Nora, I don't ask questions. I think Ren is a calming influence." Oscar personally wondered if that was due to his Semblance, but it felt rude to ask. Either way, Ren was the perfect history teacher – though Oobleck was still kicking around and often came in to guest teach, when he wasn't busy exploring and cataloguing the world now that the Grimm weren't stopping people.
So much to discover, Oobleck would say. So many ruins and sites to explore.
The friends he'd made were still kicking around – life expectancy being as high as it was now, they'd still be around for another forty or fifty years probably. Weiss and Emerald had taken over the SDC, and Blake had worked there for a while as well just to make sure the faunus were fairly treated. When her parents retired, however, she'd returned to Menagerie and taken over. Last he heard, she lived with Sun and Ilia, and while no one seemed to know what was going on with that, everyone agreed that Blake's love life was way too complicated to try and understand.
Pyrrha was the headmistress of Haven, and likely to come and visit during the upcoming festival. She'd done well with the place, fixing the wholes Leonardo left and turning Haven into a powerhouse when it came to international competitions. Most huntsmen now didn't fight to survive, so much as compete for entertainment.
And the glory of the God of Darkness, of course.
"Praise be unto He," Ozpin added.
Jaune and Yang were busy ruling over the Grimmlands, making the occasional public visit for the sake of diplomacy or otherwise working on the army of grandchildren Salem demanded. They'd come and visited every now and then, but mostly kept to themselves.
He hadn't seen Ruby for a long time. He had no idea where she was. The occasional message, the occasional scroll call. She would show up for important events, but otherwise do her own thing. Yang had told him not to worry, and that Ruby was fine. He was sure she was still alive out there. Hard to imagine anything could bring her down.
"The world sure has changed…"
"For the better, perhaps. The White Fang have finally disbanded; the battles are over. Vale's walls have been repurposed for building materials and thanks to the trade agreements with the Grimmlands, the dust crisis is a thing of the past. Life is easier."
"It's Beacon's turn to host the Tournament of Darkness this year."
"Life is harder," Ozpin moaned.
"Ironwood wants to come and discuss the security.
"Does it get any worse?"
"He's bringing his wife."
Ozpin's groan echoed through his skull.
"Cinder isn't that bad."
"She really is. I shouldn't have been surprised that she would marry into power, even if Mr Arc was off the table. Still, I can't believe those two joined forces – or how problematic they are."
"Their son is among out students sleeping downstairs."
"Don't remind me. I fully expect him to somehow take over the school within the next four years. That or turn it into a military dictatorship."
Laughing, Oscar worked through the student dossiers on the desk in front of him. It was the first day of Beacon, which was to say not the classes but the day before, the day when everyone would sleep in the main hall in preparation for the initiation.
"There are a lot of promising students this year and we need a decent initiation for them."
"Catapult them into a forest. Worked for me."
"Yes, but you had Grimm who would fight them in the forest. I'd have to put traps everywhere to get the same effect, and even then, I'd feel bad for any wild animals or Grimm caught in them." It really was difficult to keep it new every year – but if he didn't, then students would sell information on what the initiation was to prospective students.
"How about," Ozpin said, "And hear me out here. We declare a war in the middle of Beacon. A fake war. Two sides – or maybe four sides. It'll teach them the importance of strategy, intelligence, teamwork and even diplomacy."
Shrugging, Oscar wrote the idea down. "Works for me. You think Nora will accept-" Oscar paused as he realised what he'd just been asking. "Man, I must be tired. Of course Nora will accept; she'll probably declare herself a fifth side along with Ren."
"Make it an instant pass if one side can take those two out."
"Way ahead of you, Oz. We'll need to balance the teams."
"Ironwood and Cinder's spawn is on a team on his own."
"Balance them fairly, Ozpin."
"Qrow's second daughter gets an automatic pass."
"Fairly! Just because she calls you Uncle Ozma is no reason for favouritism."
"It's every reason, Oscar. Young Sparrow is the definition of adorable."
"Sure. But you don't see me letting students cheat because I like them. Anyway, we'll split the teams up fairly. You think we should make it so the losing team doesn't get in? Or should we assess individual performance and judge that way?"
"Individual performance. Even the losing side may show valour. We'll get rid of those either unwilling, unable to work together or too lazy to put the effort in. There's always some."
True. That would require them to go through all the footage, but it shouldn't be too hard. He had a good team. As Oscar pushed through the applications describing each student, he found himself pausing on a pair. Two brothers; both similar, and yet somehow different. Both blonde, but one tall and one short.
"The Arc brothers," Ozpin chuckled. "Twins as I understand it, though you wouldn't know it to look at them. They're both seventeen, however, and came quite recommended. Studied at Atlas under Winter Schnee herself."
Jaune and Yang's kids, or two of them, anyway. They had some younger ones running around already, but these had been the first, born only a few years after the two had tied the knot and the world settled down and began to accept the Grimm. The two boys had high scores from what he could see, and considering who their parents were, Oscar was sure they'd perform well.
"The first case of human-Grimm hybrids openly coming into Vale. It's bound to cause a stir. People will be watching and looking for them to act out of line."
"They did well for themselves in Atlas. I'm sure they will be no more difficult than any students."
"An absolute nightmare, them." Oscar sighed. "I'll have to have a meeting with them, impress how important it is they don't use their abilities for harm or personal benefit. Not unless it's sanctioned combat."
"Let them use them for entertainment. Students seeing them act like children would will help calm them down. People fear that which they do not understand."
They'd make it work however they had to; it was just that he'd have to keep an eye out for any bigots who wanted to make an issue of their presence here. If they couldn't deal with it themselves. Luckily, Beacon already had a no-tolerance policy on discrimination against faunus, so it wouldn't be hard to extend that to Grimm hybrids. He was about to put the documents away when something caught his eye.
"The smaller one. Notice anything unusual about him?"
"I don't- Oh!" Ozpin laughed. "Well, I suppose that explains where she has been. My, my. I did not expect that of her."
Oscar laughed too. It really did explain a lot. A lot, and also too much. There were certain things you didn't need to know. Somehow, it still wasn't as complicated as Blake's love life. "I'll have to send them a fruit basket," Oscar said. "Congratulate them. See how Ruby reacts."
"A hundred lien says she goes bright red and tries to deny it."
"That's a fool's bet, Ozpin, and you know it."
The smaller boy in the picture was smiling at the camera. He had Jaune's nose and hair, as did his older brother beside him, but that wasn't what Oscar and Ozpin paid attention to, or what amused them so much.
The boy had bright silver eyes.
And Ruby stakes her own claim.
I really wasn't sure how to do the wind-down chapter here. Full confession; when I plan a story, I plan the main plot points of it, so I plan from the beginning to the end, but the "end" is usually the final climax and its resolution.
I don't plan the "climbing down" section – which I probably should!
As such, chapters like this, the "after the adventure" chapter, are pretty much made up on the spot. With this one, I wasn't sure what to do. Zoom in on the characters themselves? Their battle is over and I wasn't sure what they would say other than to reiterate all the things they already did. I just wasn't sure what they would say other than "We did it" and "Great job" and such. Felt like it was said enough at the end of last chapter.
In the end, I decided to look at the situation from the point of view of minor characters. See the world, show what the effect is in the respective Kingdoms, and leave the immediate actions of the core cast to people's imaginations.
Well, that's it for White Sheep. It was a fun story and although I made some mistakes in it, I also learned some valuable lessons. One was to not play catch-up to canon as it happens. Despite that some of the canon lore ended up being hilariously similar to White Sheep (Salem being an ex-wife, having children, etc), I should have stuck to my plan and NOT tried to incorporate it.
It's not to say RT's ideas were bad, but trying to fit them into a story which already has a plan? That was bad.
If I went back in time, I'd also likely cut down on the dance drama (as was mentioned at the time) and maybe even change Volumes 4-5 section. With the story diverging, there was no technical need to follow canon at that point. I could have had things change. I think I will keep that in mind for Headmaster Arc.
In conclusion? Probably not my best work, but a fun one nonetheless. I can see places it could be improved even as I can see places it did well. Am I happy with it? Eh. I'd say I'm content with it. Satisfied. It could have held onto the slapstick better than it did, especially looking back on early chapters like Jaune being de-pantsed in Forever Fall, or the comedy of Cardin-Chan and his attraction to the oblivious hero.
Next Story: Professor Arc Two: Headmaster Arc
Release Date: 28th February (TWO WEEKS)
P a treon . com (slash) Coeur