A/N: Lookies, I'm hurrying, I'm hurrying! Yup, this is the LAST CHAPTER! The very last! There's no more of this story after this!
...Yes, I think everyone got the point.
Actually, there might be something more. You'll just have to wait and see. (BTW, for those of you who have read "Learning to Love", which I posted looooooooooooooong ago... I have compiled a nice, super-edited full version of it. If you waaaaaaaant it, you'll have to go to my fanficcy contest site.)
:grins: Oh yes, and I'm very proud of myself for making so many of you cry. (Nope, I didn't cry when I was writing it, though.) Oh, and I will be finishing up "What is Gentleness" after this, so please watch for it.
Disclaimer: You know, I was hoping I'd own it by now, but I guess not. I do, however, very much want to buy the rights to Yu-Gi-Oh so I can do the sequel. If anyone wants to donate money for that cause or help me do business contacts and stuff, that would be greatly appreciated. :winks: Yes, I AM half-serious. If I can get the rights, I WILL draw the sequel. (Yes, I can draw. Kinda?)
Warning: Yaoi, YxY! Although if you don't know by now, there MUST be something wrong.
Epilogue Waiting's Reward
The most beautiful, they were; the bards lifting their voices to rival nightingales, the dancers leaping and drifting as snow-white feathers upon the storm's breeze. The beauties, the sweets, they were driven to the sea, to their destruction. By jealousy they were destroyed, and their beauty no more in this world rest.
The prince looked up, his garnet-red eyes dark and solemn, their sorrow too grave for one so young, just barely into adulthood. His hands, tanned and long-fingered, absently smoothed the pages of a worn, leather-bound book, its yellowed pages still in good condition and covered with words and drawings of a beautiful, ancient script.
It was not complete. It told only half the story; the other half belonged to them.
Their destruction was not complete, and a curse they threw upon he who wronged them. Never shall he rest, as his heirs forever live in torment. A curse strong, it binds him and his, that shall be removed only through the forgiveness of the pure.
He understood now, as much as he could from half a book. He knew who they were; he knew that they lived.
The young prince reached out, his slim fingers resting on a delicate stem. An amaranth; his Yugi's amaranth. Its petals drooped as if in sympathy, so much like blood... so much like tears...
This legacy will die. It must die!
"Dark..." A murmured summon would bring the magician to his side immediately. "Dark, come here, please?"
The violet-haired man bowed to him respectfully. "My prince."
"This book. You know to whom it must belong."
"I know, my prince."
"You know when it must go to him."
For a moment, the mage was silent. After a long-drawn sigh, he nodded. "...Yes, my prince."
Eyes of clear emerald skimmed swiftly over a thick volume, protected by strong magic to endure in the water of the ocean. Tendrils of moon-pale hair floated ever which way, as the young mermaid read words that were lost to her before.
This time, of all times, she understood. She could utter only one thing in her grief. "Is he truly gone, then?"
Her brother was the Keeper of this book. Yugi's book now belonged to her.
And in his grace, he loved and forgave. And in that forgiveness, they were saved, they who wronged his people, they whom he truly cherished. In his death they suffered, and thus the ancients were avenged.
She understood its truth. It was not Yugi who was hurt now, but those he knew and left behind. After all, the dead could not cry.
No, that was a job for the living. That was a job for the Prince and for her, now tied together in their love and loss.
"That love should never have existed…" the Princess of the Sea murmured softly. "Nor ours… Nor hers… Now we know why it is forbidden between the people of the Sea and the people of the Land."
But in the book, something changed.
Their sacrificed paved the way…
Now the curse has lifted. Now the heart can live.
"But not the hearts that have already died…"
The book did not hear. It was, after all, only a record of the happenings…
More than a year had passed since Yugi's death, and still, the mourners shed their tears. In the birth of a new prince, the sweet heir to the seaside kingdom, there was little joy.
Slowly, the amaranths died, and with them died the tears of their curator, the young king Yami, beloved of the people, beloved of the Treasure of the Sea. Their absence did not diminish his pain, did not lessen his longing. He had provided an heir; his duty was fulfilled. He knew where he belonged.
"…Yes, Lady Anzu?"
There were voices at his door. He knew them. Yes, yes he did. His queen, and his mage. Anzu was sensitive; she would know if something was wrong.
This time, it was not to be prevented.
This time, it could not be prevented.
"Dark, what's going on inside? Is something wrong with His Majesty? Is…"
"…" In his mind's eye, the young king could see violet-haired magician bow his head, could hear the restrained forcefulness in his voice. "He has ordered that no one is to see him."
The queen took a few deep breaths. Loud, that Yami could hear them, so upset she was. When she spoke again, her voice was small and tight. "When would I… be able to see him again?"
He did not have to say it. She knew. They all knew.
In the deathly silence, an infant wailed in a room not far from where they stood. The son knew that his father was… never returning.
A moment of pause, then hurried footsteps. The young woman knew that her place was with her child, with the new hope of their kingdom.
Silence, now. There was not another sound above the splashing the waves. There needed not be another sound.
And the ruby-eyed king's room was sealed for all eternity.
The flap of wings; a lithe body turned, large amethyst eyes fixed upon the approaching stranger. Wings, wings so pure and white as to seem like the pristine, newly-fallen snow. Another angel, he knew. Another messenger, bearing the news. Fatality was approaching…
When the angel came within range, Yugi spoke softly, turning back to his gaze upon the world. "I am not leaving. You can stop asking."
"But young one…" The angel's voice was as gentle and sad as falling teardrops. "This is… your final chance. It has been a year. If you do not come now, the Gates of Heaven must forever be closed to you."
"I can't go," the boy murmured softly, his eyes, for a second, straying to the lily-white robe that covered his legs – his human legs. Stretching in a graceful, fluid motion, he unfurled his own wings momentarily, shimmering like the moon itself, knowing that he would soon lose them. "I have to wait for him. I promised him. And I… promised myself."
"But young Yugi…!"
The mer-boy shook his head slowly. "It's all right. I know the promise was for a year. I know that… I would never again be able to go into that paradise, if not now."
"But then, why…?" A look of confusion spread across the angel's visage. "If you come now, your tears will be wiped away, your sadness erased forever. Your sweet, pure soul will shine brighter than any star as you are enfolded into paradise…"
Finally, Yugi turned to him, eyes of sunset sky clear and firm. "Because it is not a paradise without him… Because I… don't want my tears and my sadness to disappear. I don't want these memories to disappear. I just… want to be with him."
"And what if he does not come?" The same arguments, all over again. "What if you finally regret your choice? What then will you do?"
A small, sad smile lifted the corners of those petal-soft lips. "I would regret not waiting more, ever so much more."
"You will never be able to change this decision."
The violet eyes closed in acceptance. "I know."
Days passed since King Yami's death; days into weeks, weeks into months, and all count was lost and forgotten in the care of those who were still alive.
He preferred that, they knew. That did not stop them from grieving, for both his death and their own inattention.
This day, the last of the amaranths died. The last of the flower that reputedly lived forever.
Young Prince Yugi, thus named for the youth so loved by the late King, stood by, watching them die. He did not know what they were, as his pale lavender eyes followed the petals that drifted on the wind, but he understood their sadness. He saw them fly, the crimson petals dancing, fluttering, borne on the breeze towards the sea. They landed on the water, amidst the pearly foams of the deep.
To him, they were tears of blood, the same tears his father had shed, the only tears.
Despite a wave of instinct, warning him of peril, he wanted to follow them. The only one who stopped him was the young, widowed Queen Anzu. He wrenched out of her grasp, ran on unsteady legs to the solitary man standing by the sea. Dark, he knew. His father's friend.
"They are together," the mage murmured. As he looked down, his glacial eyes softened. In the distance, emerald scales flashed in the sunlight, an agreement, an acknowledgement. "Finally, they are together."
A drift of red petals, a clash of white foam. Two figures, entwined in eternity.