Note: I know this chapter was posted twice. Some weird stuff has been happening with email alerts, and I was afraid that not everyone got the alert for this chapter. I know you guys have been eagerly looking forward to the epilogue, so I'm just making sure you guys know it's done :)
Damn...I feel so bad, ending this story. I've been working on it for so long, and it's going to feel weird not writing for it anymore. But, I suppose, all good stories must come to an end...
Spectral Flame: Wow. What am I supposed to say to a review like that? Thank you very much :D
Lao Who Mai: Thanks for your review!
K-GForever: Yep, Jaffar smiled. Who wouldn't, in a situation like that :P
Hamano Ayumi: About Ninian and Eliwood...I'm not sure if you've read my other stories, but they all occur during the timeline of the game, and I always try to connect the events of one story to other events in another. At this point in my timeline, Ninian and Eliwood are a couple...sort of. But I still think they would act like the way I portrayed them.
Ryst: Actually, it was a complete coincidence that I finished the chapter on Valentine's Day. I had promised myself that the chapter would be done over the weekend, so of course, when it still wasn't done at around 10 PM Sunday, I worked my butt off to get it finished. It just so happened that at around that time, I realized, "Hey, tomorrow's Valentine's Day." So sorry, no hijinx for you :( Thanks for your review!
AmbieChan: Wow. Am I on a streak of inspiring other authors now? First hyliansage, then you, then...who knows, LOL. It's really great to know that my stories can do more than simply provide entertainment. Thanks for your review!
Dracobolt: Thanks for your review!
angel white: Haha. I had a lot of fun writing Jaffar and Legault in the last chapter, even if I did turn the former into somewhat of a dork. :) Thanks for your review!
FireEdge: Ah, OK, I see what you're saying about AIM. And thank you for your compliment of the dream! A lot of reviewers didn't seem to mention it...
foxfiresword: Thanks for your review!
Inferno-Hero: I suppose that's one way to describe the chapter... Thanks for your review!
Elzie Ann: You aren't the only one who thought Jaffar was a dork; angel white used the exact same word :P Thanks for your review!
MagicianFairy-bows- Thanks for your review!
erkxserra rule: What do you think I'm planning to do after this story is finished, stop writing? Of course I'll make more stories. Thanks for your review!
Hinata2005: Thanks for your review!
Merkiel: I hope that the last chapter didn't set a "standard," because IMO, I feel so good about it that it will be hard for me to surpass it. Thanks for your review!
Oswin the Nino Fan: Sorry, I don't do sequels...it's hard to make a new story out of an old one when everything seems tied off at the end of the first one, you know? I do, however, have a one-shot planned about this couple, though I don't think it'll be exactly what you want...
Dreamer of Riddles: Haha, since when has there been anything wrong with getting bunches of compliments? Thanks for your review!
FenixPhoenix: Thanks for your review!
Sword of Seals: Thanks for your review!
Flaming Soul: Haha...you're not the only one who's been surprised by my gender. Actually, I pride myself on being a male romance writer :P
Lemurian 04: Thanks for your review!
Icy AngelWings: Thanks for your review!
Nocturna-Fire-Demoness: I should be having a lot of fun with my Kent/Fiora one-shot. Keep your eyes peeled for that one :)
fire-emblem-girl: Thanks for your review!
timmycheese: Well, I've tried my best to make this a happy ending. Hope you like it :)
gentleness28: Well, like I said before, I don't care when you get the picture done as long as it's done in the end. Thanks for your review!
Kratos Aurion: You think the end of the last chapter was unsatisfactory? Well, how so? Remember, I can't fix something if you don't tell me what's wrong with it. Just saying it's "unsatisfactory" doesn't tell me anything.
RemedyTheThief: Thanks for your review!
CandaceOman: Thanks for your review!
Ragnarok-legend: Haha, yeah, the Grandia story... Unfortunately, I'm...not sure I'm going to be writing it in the end. A certain reader IMed me and made me realize just how difficult a novelization might actually be. To be honest, I was a bit unsure of writing it in the first place, but this reader finalized it. However, I still have some ideas for other stories, so I'll still be writing! I may still end up doing the Grandia novelization, but I would not get my hopes up. :(
And unfortunately, I must now bring you the...
The storm raged outside the small wooden house. Lightning flashed through the windows, strong peals of thunder quickly following, ripping through the night air. The rain beat down on the roof ceaselessly, the noise of its impact drowning out every other sound.
And Jaffar lay wide awake in the small double bed, staring desperately at the mess of bright-green hair visible from under the sheets on the other side of the mattress. It was impossible to see it until the lightning flashed, but in those instants Jaffar was hit with wave after wave of guilt. He didn't want to do this. He had promised her that he would forever remain by her side, and nothing in the world was worse than breaking a vow to the young woman he loved. But it had to be done, despite the enormous price he would have to pay. Her safety was more important than his desires, than his feelings, than his life.
Lightning lit up the room once again, and Jaffar took one more look at her, the flash of light seeming to drag on forever as he realized it would be the last time he would ever see her again. Then, as the bedroom was plunged into darkness, he violently wrenched his gaze away. If he stayed any longer, than he would never be able to do what needed to be done.
Slowly, he swung his legs off the bed, moving as quietly as he could. It was impossible to hear anything above the din of the rain, but Jaffar nevertheless was not taking any chances. She could not know of his departure. If she found out what he was trying to do, then she would try to stop him. And as much as he wanted to, he could not stay with her. His very presence was a threat to her safety, and...and any threat to Nino's safety had to be eliminated.
It had been four and a half years since their battles with Eliwood's army had ended. Nino had never been seriously injured again; though she stayed a good distance away from any enemy soldiers with physical weapons, she and Jaffar had discovered during a battle at Castle Ostia that she possessed an amazing resilience against all but the strongest magical attacks. She still disdained fighting, however, but because of her magical resistance and the mental support she provided Jaffar just by being there, Mark had decided to send the assassin into battles against mainly enemy mages, with Nino staying back and giving Jaffar aid if he needed it. Protecting the girl had been all the motivation Jaffar had needed to fight to the absolute best of his ability.
Outside of battle, as well, the two of them had become inseparable. One was never seen without the other; even when Nino was with her girl friends, Jaffar was always by her side. Rebecca seemed to finally get over her prejudice of the assassin and eventually welcomed his presence, but the other females of the battalion still were rather wary of him. Still, however, they appeared to realize that if Nino had fallen in love with him, he couldn't be too bad. Though they did not exactly grow to like the assassin, they never complained about him being there, and Nino was all the happier for it.
His love for the girl finally realized and returned, Jaffar, for the first time in his life, had been happy. Once she had learned that he loved her, Nino had begun to show her affection for the assassin almost spontaneously at times, and nothing delighted Jaffar more that receiving a hug or kiss for no reason at all from the girl he loved. While Jaffar had never been skilled at expressing his feelings for the girl in the same manner, Nino did not seem to mind. The smile that would appear on his face after receiving a gesture of affection from the young mage was all the proof of his love that Nino ever needed.
But as the battles against Nergal drew to a close, a problem had arisen: where he and Nino would live after their travels had ended. The Black Fang was in shambles, and neither of them had a home to go back to. When they had brought this to Eliwood's attention, however, he had quickly provided them with a solution: with his position as the territory's marquess, he could find the two of them a home in one of Pherae's villages. When Rebecca had heard the news, she had been thrilled. She also lived in Pherae and was overjoyed at the idea of living so near her best friend. Their future together already planned, all that remained for Jaffar and Nino had been to live through the final battle against Nergal.
In the end, they had barely participated. While Jaffar's speed and skill as an assassin was unmatched, his strength paled in comparison to the power of the legendary weapons that Eliwood, Hector, and Lyn had carried into the fight. Likewise, Nino's magical power was immense, but it was nothing when compared with the might of the Archsage Athos himself. Jaffar and Nino could do little but hold each other fearfully as they watched the spectacular battle play out before them, hoping that their efforts had not been for naught. But in the end, Eliwood's group had been victorious, and with the danger finally past, Jaffar had been free to dream about his future alongside the girl he loved.
The question of marriage had been somewhat thought about—Nino was quite young, after all—but in the end both he and Nino had come to the decision that they loved each other too much for age to really matter. Their wedding in Pherae had been a simple one, but Jaffar had not cared; the only thing that had mattered to him was that their marriage bound him forever to Nino. Rebecca and the young mage had grown so close over the short time they had spent together that each had chosen the other as her maid of honor, and the sniper had been so thoughtful as to bring her family when she had realized Nino and Jaffar's wedding would be rather sparsely attended. Jaffar, on the other hand, had been without a best man until Legault had appeared seemingly from nowhere and had asked for the responsibility himself, claming that the wedding could never have occurred without his aid. Jaffar had accepted; the thief had been right, after all.
And so their life in Pherae had begun. Their time together had been peaceful, for a time. Both of them had decided it would be best for Jaffar to join the town's militia, where he could put his skills to good use by helping to defend the village they lived in from local bandits. Nino, on the other hand, had found herself employment in the house of one of the village's wealthier inhabitants, working as a serving-girl for a kindly elderly couple. She was happy working there, and Jaffar was happy because she was happy. Neither of their jobs paid exceptionally well, but their combined wages were enough for the two of them to live in relative comfort. They had few luxuries, but that mattered little to them, because they had each other.
But that was when it had begun.
The Black Fang was in shambles; three of the Four Fangs were dead. But the legacy of the Angel of Death lived on, the stories spreading throughout the countryside. And there were those who believed they had the strength to match the Angel of Death, each thinking he would be the one to bring him down.
One of those bounty hunters just so happened to also be a member of the town's militia.
Jaffar had been unsure how he had been recognized, but the bounty hunter had nevertheless discovered his identity. But the hunter, a man that must have been overconfident beyond belief for simply challenging Jaffar, had greatly underestimated the Angel of Death's skill, and Jaffar had struck him down quickly once he had noticed the hunter's attempt to break into the house he shared with Nino.
That, however, had complicated things. Jaffar was a master of concealing the bodies of those he had killed, but the hunter's disappearance would not go unnoticed forever. Even worse, the hunter had most likely given Jaffar's identity and location to others of his kind. If he and Nino continued to live in the Pheraen village, they would most likely continue to be attacked.
So they had to leave.
They told no one of their departure. They had simply packed up and left, moving into another village in the nearby province of Santaruz. Nino did not protest; she seemed to understand that this was going to be a part of her life if she wanted to remain with the man she loved. Yet despite her acceptance, that was when the doubts had begun to set in. It had bothered Jaffar to no end that Nino would be willing to leave the village they lived in without any protests, and he had constantly wondered whether, perhaps, she secretly did not wish to stay with him. Perhaps her love for him was waning, fading because of the circumstances she was in.
And those doubts brought other insecurities. He loved Nino with all his heart and soul, and to him, she was perfect in every way. But he was an assassin, the Angel of Death, and his past crimes were innumerable. She was a shining star, like an angel of light in her purity, and she was the very antithesis of everything he represented. Did he really deserve the privilege of staying by her side? Did she deserve having to remain with a man such as him?
On their very first night in Santaruz, Jaffar had brought those doubts to Nino's attention. Her response had been disbelieving, almost hurt—why would he ever think such a thing? She loved him just as much as he loved her, she had said. She knew that living with him would be difficult, given the bounty hunters always on their trail, and she did not care. She also knew of the crimes he had committed in the past, but she knew he had changed since then, and his past did not matter to her.
Her words had alleviated his insecurity somewhat, but his doubts had still remained. She had been able to see it in his expression, however, and she had told him then, with absolute sincerity in her eyes, that she would rather die than live without him.
Jaffar had thought he would never again experience the sort of joy he had felt when Nino had first told him that she loved him. On that night, however, he had certainly come very close.
Their love for each other, however, would do nothing to stop the merciless bounty hunters that were constantly after Jaffar. No matter where he and Nino took up residence, no matter what he did to conceal his identity, he was always discovered in the end. Sometimes it would take more than a year, sometimes less than six months, but he was always, inevitably, found. When he was, their ritual was repeated: after the hunter was struck down, he and Nino would silently gather their possessions, moving to another village, another province, without a protest from either of them. There was no point in complaining about what fate had dictated for them; their inability to settle in one place was simply a part of their lives. They could not change it, so they had to accept it, and they did.
Their lives had slowly changed as a result of the hunters, as well. The constant threat of Jaffar's capture had made them realize that every day they spent together could be the last, which made them treasure all the more every moment that they shared. They kissed every morning before they left to their respective places of employment, just like any other married couple, but as time wore on, it slowly changed from a perfunctory peck on the lips to a passionate expression of their love for each other, with neither one wishing to let go. They both knew that after they left their home each morning, there was always a chance Jaffar might not come back. As a result, Jaffar and Nino were never at ease while away from their home, away from their loved one. It was only each evening, when they returned, when they saw each other once again, that their fears would dissipate.
Still, despite the fear always in the backs of their minds, they lived together in relative peace, disrupted only by the bounty hunters' attacks. Luckily for them, the four hunters that did work up the nerve to challenge Jaffar in the three years following his travels with Eliwood's battalion were vastly overconfident of their abilities, and the former assassin had been able to strike them down with little effort. In fact, after more than a year and a half had passed since the fourth hunter's attack, Jaffar had begun to think that perhaps his and Nino's troubles with the bounty hunters had finally come to an end.
The fifth hunter had been the worst.
Unlike those before him, this hunter had decided to raid Jaffar and Nino's home in the early evening, instead of the dark of night. He had found only Nino there, however; Jaffar had not yet returned home for the day. Furious, the hunter had demanded to know where the former assassin was, but Nino had fearfully yet defiantly refused to tell him. When the hunter had realized the young sage was not going to provide him with Jaffar's whereabouts, however, he had decided to take his rage out on her. Knowing that the girl would not be strong enough to physically resist him, the hunter had thought of a way to potentially cripple Jaffar's emotional defenses, and had attempted to take advantage of Nino.
He might have succeeded had Jaffar not arrived at that very moment and plunged his dagger into the hunter's back, killing him instantly.
White as a sheet, Nino had tearfully collapsed into her husband's arms, muttering to him between sobs how scared she had been, and how thankful she was that Jaffar was there to protect her. He could only hold her close, just as thankful that he had arrived in time.
That had been two months ago. Following that night, Jaffar and Nino had performed their ritual like always, packing up their possessions and moving, this time to the province of Thria. But that was also when doubts had begun to set in again, different insecurities than before.
Before the last hunter had attacked, Jaffar had been under the impression that the bounty hunters would only wish to harm him, not Nino. She was not their target, so there was no reason for them to go after her. The events of that evening, however, had brought that impression crashing down, creating a horrifying fear within him. He was not the only one in danger now; Nino was as well...and he was the cause.
And that fear was what had led him to his decision. He had to leave her. For her safety. Her safety was and had always been paramount.
That was why he now stood at the door of the house he shared with Nino, ready to head out into the storm raging outside.
He didn't want to do this. He had promised her that he would forever remain by her side, and nothing in the world was worse than breaking a vow to the young woman he loved. But it had to be done.
His hand rested on the doorknob, and Jaffar was surprised to find that it was shaking. Could he really do this? Could he really leave her?
But that question was never answered, as a voice broke him out of his thoughts, the sweet, melodious voice Jaffar had grown to know and cherish.
"Jaffar." There was none of that sweetness in Nino's voice now.
The former assassin turned to face his wife, instantly besieged by near-paralyzing waves of guilt, knowing his chances of leaving had just gone from small to infinitesimal. He could barely even bring himself to look at her face, so great was his shame. But he did.
She held a lantern in front of her, the soft glow illuminating her body and face. While Jaffar's physical development had already ended by the time he had first met Nino, her body had only begun to mature, and in the four and a half years following their travels with Eliwood's army, Nino had blossomed from a cute, cheerful girl into a breathtaking, serene young woman. She stood taller now, though Jaffar still had several inches on her, and her slender form was clad in a dark blue nightgown. Her hair, however, was still as messy as always—the fact that she had just woken didn't really help—and she still wore her dark blue headband.
Her baby-blue eyes, however, were not filled with the cheery sparkle that Jaffar adored so much. There was no happiness in her face now, but there was no anger, no sadness either. Her face was expressionless, just like her voice.
Jaffar could do nothing but stare at her silently, shamefully.
"You were going to leave," she said flatly. It was not a question.
There was a prickling feeling behind Jaffar's eyes, and he squeezed them shut, trying to block the feeling out. "I...have to..." he replied slowly, knowing it was the truth and at the same time not wanting to believe it. He was going to add, "For your safety," but Nino's reaction to his first words stopped him.
At his reply, Nino's emotionless expression vanished. Her eyebrows arching in sadness and disbelief, she shook her head, never once taking her eyes off Jaffar. "W-what?" she whispered, blinking rapidly. "H-how can you—what do you mean, Jaffar?"
Slowly, the former assassin drew in a breath, letting it out slowly. There was a strange feeling of a lump in his throat, making it hard to speak. The sensation was foreign to him, but he knew it was an effect of his guilt. "I'm..." he whispered, unable to speak any louder, "I'm a...danger to you. To...to your safety."
"Oh, Jaffar..." Nino whispered, setting the lantern on the floor. She took a step forward slowly, then another, and another, faster and faster until she had reached him. She flung her arms around his neck, pressing her head into his shoulder. Jaffar did not return the embrace. "That's—" she whispered despairingly, "—that's not true. You know it's not true. You know it isn't."
He could feel her tears on his shoulder. "Nino..." he managed to choke out through his constricting throat, "the bounty hunters—"
"I don't care about the bounty hunters," she cut him off, raising her head from his shoulder suddenly. Tears streamed down her face freely, and she let them flow, but they had no effect on her voice. She stared directly into his eyes, as though her gaze alone could persuade him to stay. "I don't care if they try to hurt me. I don't—I don't care what they want to do to me. I just want you to stay with me, Jaffar..."
"Nino..." The prickling feeling behind his eyes intensified sharply. "I want you to be safe," he whispered.
"Do—do you think I'll feel safe if you're—if you're not here?" she replied, her voice breaking, a helpless expression slowly making its way onto her face. "Do you think I'm—do you think I'll let you go? I'll—I'll follow you, Jaffar; I don't care w-where you go, I'll find—I'll find you. I want to stay with you, Jaffar...more—more than anything..."
The lump in his throat had grown; it was impossible for him to reply.
"Do you...do you really want to—want to leave?" she asked softly, despairingly. An arm that had been around his neck went up to his face; her hand caressed his cheek. She shook her head. "You can't—you can't want to. You—you promised, Jaffar...you can't want to leave me, you promised..."
And at those words, all restraint within him broke. Letting out a long, sorrowful moan, he threw his arms around her waist, burying his head in the crook of her neck.
Jaffar, the emotionless killer, the unfeeling Angel of Death, was crying.
"I d-don't w-want to," he sobbed, making no effort to stop the first tears of his life. "I-I don't w-want to leave. I-I'd rather die than leave..."
It was the truth; he wanted nothing more to stay with the young woman he loved for the rest of his life. But she had to be kept safe...
Nino rocked back and forth on her feet gently, trying to soothe the former assassin but at the same time hoping that his unprecedented reaction meant he had realized the error of his ways. "Jaffar..." she whispered. It was the only thing she could say, having never been in a situation like this before.
"I-I want you t-to be safe..." Jaffar whispered, his tears unending. "I-If that means...l-leaving you..."
"I-I want—I need you to stay," Nino whispered back, still crying as well. "I don't care about the bounty hunters..."
Jaffar raised his head, staring intently at the young woman he loved, blinking back the tears that were still flowing. He wanted to stay. More than anything in the world, he wanted to stay. "Nino—"
He never finished his sentence, because then, she kissed him.
It was as though her words were not enough, as though this was the only way she could fully express her desire for him to remain with her. He responded to her gesture quickly, pulling her closer, returning the kiss. In that instant, all thoughts of leaving her vanished. She was everything to him; he knew he would be unable to go on living if she was not there by his side. He would not run away from her to keep her safe; he would meet any threat to her well-being head-on, protecting her himself, just like he had when he had first met her so long ago.
He loved her. That would never change, no matter what. He could never leave her.
Nino finally broke the kiss, staring up at Jaffar helplessly. Then she spoke, trying one last time to persuade him to stay.
"I love you," she whispered.
She was an angel. Pure, innocent, and forgiving, so forgiving. Only an angel of light like her could have fallen in love with an angel of darkness like him. How could he have ever doubted her feelings for him? She loved him. And he knew that her love, like his own feelings, would never change.
"I love you too," he whispered.
He did not say anything about staying, but Nino still realized, knew without a doubt that Jaffar was not going to leave her side. She smiled then, serenely. Reaching up, she slowly stretched out her hand and brushed away the tears still remaining on his face. "Jaffar," she whispered, still smiling broadly. "Come back to bed."
He smiled then as well, albeit slowly. "Nino," he whispered. "I'm sor—"
She abruptly raised a hand to his mouth, silencing him. "You don't have to apologize for anything," she said softly, still smiling, wiping away her own tears now. "There's...there's nothing wrong with wanting to protect the one you love."
Jaffar could not think of anything to say to that. So instead, he smiled at her, staring at her silently. She merely smiled back, saying nothing. They stayed like that for some time, smiling at each other silently in the dim light of the lantern. Then, after a few moments, they walked back to the bed they shared, Nino picking up the lantern and putting it out. They kissed once more, reaffirming their love for each other, before getting back into bed, each slowly drifting off to sleep in the other's embrace.
She was an angel of light, he was the Angel of Death. They were complete and total opposites, but at the same time, neither could be more perfect for the other.
The storm continued raging outside, but asleep in each other's arms, the two angels didn't mind at all.
Is there anything I can really say? After almost six months, Two Angels is finally complete. And I hate it, because out of any couple I've written so far, only Jaffar and Nino have been able to provide me with this much inspiration. It's hard to let go of them...
As always, you, the reviewers, have been the reason that I was able to finish this story. I know that I've been begging recently for more substantial reviews, but even if you left me a review that only read, "This is great," you still have helped to give me the motivation to keep writing. It's an amazing feeling to know that I can make people happy simply by writing what I like to write. :D Thank you, all of you, for supporting me throughout this story and helping to make this hobby so much fun. I wish there was something I could do for all of you, but, well...I can keep writing, if that's any consolation. :)
So what's next, you ask? To be honest, I don't have any definite plans for any multi-chapter stories at this point. Some of you might have noticed in the past my plan for writing a novelization of Grandia II, but thanks to an IM conversation with a certain reader, I have become very unsure of it, and I don't think that I'll be writing it in the end. That does not, however, mean I'm going to stop writing by any means. I do still have a few one-shots planned, and after that...well, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is coming out soon. There's a whole new source of inspiration. :D
Once again, thank you all, and until next time...