DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Yu-Gi-Oh! and all related characters are the creations of Kazuki Takahashi.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well here it is, the final chapter/epilogue for 'Life'. I hope that you have enjoyed reading the story of Alexander and Valen as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Thank you for reading!

A Life for a Life

By Shadow's Mirror

1,200 Years Later...

The door to the Royal Magical Library opened.

As the Stern Mystic and Ancient Elf had a brief argument over being the first to enter, the Magician of Black Chaos slipped inside ahead of both of them. He grinned at the tall figure that came to greet him. The head librarian was always a welcome sight to behold.

"Greetings, Alexander." He clasped the birdman's outstretched hand and then leaned in close to speak quickly and very quietly. "Forgive the intrusion, but something has come up and they insisted on coming and speaking with you about it, personally." He gave his friend an apologetic look.

Alexander chuckled and nodded. "Do not worry, things are quiet here today so their visit will liven things up a little."

Chaos sighed the sigh of the long-suffering assistant. "That is what I am afraid of."

"What is that? If you are going to speak, boy, speak loudly enough for people to hear you!" The Stern Mystic scowled at the magician as he stalked into the room ahead of his pouting companion.

"I was merely greeting Alexander, Mystic." Chaos bit his lip and winced as he realised his mistake a little too late.

"Alexander? Who is that?" The Stern Mystic peered around and shrugged. "Well, whoever he is, it is not polite to greet someone when someone else is right in front of you. You should know better." He scowled more deeply but looked a little appeased as Chaos humbly bowed his head and nodded. "Good. Now then... greetings, Spirit of the Books. We have some business with you."

Alexander tore his gaze away from the very amusing sight of Chaos trying to hide the fact that he was desperately trying not to laugh and nodded at the elder. "Greetings, Elders." He included the Ancient Elf with another nod. "How may I assist you today? Another text on herbs or is it fungus you were wanting today?"

"Well, I could do with a book on growing radishes, actually..." The Stern Mystic blinked and shook his head. "No, what I mean is... We are not here to get books! We need to speak with you on a very urgent matter indeed."

"We are." The Ancient Elf nodded in agreement, but looked a little distracted as he eyed the birdman curiously. "Is that a different robe to the one you were wearing when I came here this morning, or are my eyes failing me? The embroidery looks different."

Alexander, knowing the elders and their eccentricities very well since they frequented the library, smiled and nodded. "Your eyes are as keen as ever. My other robe... er... had a little accident."

The Stern Mystic had been scowling at his companion's change of topic, but now he arched an eyebrow at the Spirit of the Books. Something that looked suspiciously like a mischievous twinkle appeared in his eyes. "He did it again, did he? Good thing the Dark Magician taught you that water spell or else this place would have burned down centuries ago."

Alexander smiled fondly and nodded. "I am eternally grateful to him. As are all of the books here."

The Stern Mystic almost smiled as well before he apparently remembered that he had a reputation of being stubborn, irritable and always grumpy. "Anyway, about that matter..."

"Papa! Papa!"

Alexander's eyes lit up at his favourite sound. He smiled at the two elders and nodded. "Why do you not both head over to the table? We can talk privately there. I will join you in just a moment." Before the elders could do more than give him nods and knowing looks, he had already turned to smile at the small boy who was entering the library from the passageway that led to their home.

"Over here, son."

As the boy smiled happily and ran towards him, Alexander mentally thanked Chaos again for his help that day so far in the past. So much had changed and yet it was all for the best.

He was no longer Alexander, the quiet and generally ignored human tutor who worried about the King's influence over the increasingly stubborn child he loved like his own.

Now, he was the Spirit of the Books, the respected and powerful birdman in charge of the Shadow Realm's Royal Magical Library. Now, his biggest worry was that his adopted son, who he loved more than anything in either the Realm or the mortal world, would get overexcited and accidentally set something on fire.

The child running towards him was no longer Prince Valen of Cantoria, the boy whose only wish had been for his father, King Roland, to praise him and spend time with him and love him. He no longer needed to be the perfect 'man' his father had ordered him to be, showing no emotion and having no friends and acting like a man who needed no one to love him. He was no longer a lonely little boy who had needed far more love than he had been allowed to accept.

Now, he was Fire Sorcerer, the powerful young fire mage whose dreams had all come true. His new father gave him all the love and praise he had ever wanted, and so much more besides. He was free to be himself, a sweet, gentle and loving little boy who had friends and was not afraid to give hugs to others or ask for hugs when he needed them, or just wanted them.

Alexander smiled as his son reached him and gently tousled the boy's pale ash-blonde hair. "Do you need me for something, child?"

Fire Sorcerer nodded very solemnly. "Yes, papa." He held up his arms and pouted. "It has been a whole ten minutes since you last hugged me!" He looked as if his entire world was on the verge of crumbling because of it.

As he laughed and swept his beloved, and rather precocious, son up into his arms for a tight hug, Alexander, the Spirit of the Books, knew that he had never been happier.

The End