Disclaimer- I don't own Suikoden III.
The first time she saw him, really, truly saw him, he was wreathed in fire and roaring with hatred, blade in hand as he tried to kill her.
That should have been an indication of the way they'd meet from then on.
She felt sick and tired and drained- like a corpse- even as she fought him off, and gladly spared his life.
Because next time, he might just kill her.
The second time, he tried to ambush her and stick a knife in her back, in broad daylight on neutral ground, without warning and without provocation.
And again, she could not bring herself to kill him.
It was rather amusing, if it weren't so serious.
The first time they met after the war, it was completely by chance, a crossing at the celebration over the defeat of the insane Luc.
She found him leaning into a tree, sipping a drink quietly as he watched people dancing and laughing. He looked the same as ever, tanned and with wiry strength, his hair platinum blond and black as ever.
Such was the way of the True Rune Bearers.
"Why are you just sitting there, Flame Champion?" Chris asked, only half teasing.
Hugo gave her a sort of tired grin, one that spoke of memories and things best left forgotten. "Just... remembering something." He replied, that grin slowly dying on his face.
They said no more, and Borus took her away to dance, but all the while, she was looking at him, and he was looking at the world.
The music played on and on, and still Hugo stayed where he was, watching the people dance on by.
The first time he is aware of just how different he is, Fubar passes away. He is sickly and weak, unable to fly and barely able to move, keening softly and tiredly.
Hugo stands next to the griffin, wondering why he is still so young and Fubar so old.
He cries for a while, missing the partner upon whose back he had fought so many battles, and all the while, the worlds keeps turning.
When Sergeant Joe goes, he is fraught with guilt. Assassins, rogues who want to claim his life and his Rune, rushed him, blades raised.
His knife tore through them, and his rune thrums and hums with power. He feels invincible. He feels immortal. He feels like a God.
And that's when an arrow flies toward his heart.
Only a shout "Hugo!" and crimson blood raining around him.
And then someone else had passed through his life.
He buried his beloved uncle/father/protector figure in the Duck Village. He would have liked to place Joe in Karaya, but the Duck Clan forbade it.
Even the Flame Champion could not deny tradition.
So he watched the body float down into the water, deep into dark depths, and said goodbye, so small and so alone that it would never reach the departed.
His tears mixed with the water as a final elegy.
It doesn't really occur to Chris that she isn't older until the day she first notices Borus' graying hair. His sweat streaked face panted with exertion as they fought off the monsters, and he seemed slower, weaker, more vulnerable.
Concerned, she knelt next to him and asked why he looked so... well, old.
With a laugh, her long time companion merely shrugged. "The beauty of the Silver Maiden is everlasting... yet I am but a mortal." Borus replied wearily, trying to smile through a face scarred by war and time.
Stunned, she looked back at her other knights. Salome had long since retired, weary and with a scar running from his cheek to his throat. Leo was collapsed against his axe, a mighty oak felled by the axe of time. Percival's spiked hair had grown gray, and his eyes were weary, his body trembled every time he rode his horse. Roland was least affected, yet even his hair had streaks of silver running through it.
Louis looked at her with battle hardened eyes, smiling in a cold sort of way with his bloodstained sword, the blood of the child within him bled out.
And she realizes she's been standing still for a long, long time.
It is quietly that the Silver Maiden of Zexen retires. No fanfare and no gossips, but a simple, quiet handing over of her armor and her lead to a hardened veteran that went by the same name as her squire.
No one asks her to stay.
Borus might have tried, except that he was now confined to the bed, unable to do more than walk in the garden... on good days.
The new Knights of Zexen are not hers to command, nor do they treat her like a commander.
Instead, they treat her like a Legend.
So she leaves.
And the moment she steps out of the city, she feels her step lighten, just a little.
She knows she should be surprised when she sees him again, leaning against some ancient tree that's not even half his age, watching a campfire. But he isn't surprised, and she suspects that it's part of their job to stop being surprised.
Chris Lightfellow takes her job seriously.
Instead, he offers her a fish.
"Take it," he says lightly, expecting resistance.
Nodding, she decides to follow the path of no resistance.
As she bites into the roast, Hugo looks vaguely amused. "You know, I always wondered where you'd end up." He chuckled, tapping his knife against the tree, the weapon looking as pristine as the day they met.
"Didn't expect the Silver Maiden to give up war?" Chris asked, half in challenge. She's rusty at it, though, and watches the smoke barely drift between them.
"On the contrary." Hugo replied, smiling easily. "I actually thought you'd end up tied down in a home somewhere, married." The fire crackles and cackles, like an amused child.
"No thanks." She said, half annoyed as she wrinkles her nose. "I'd rather not end up looking like my children's sister, and then their daughter."
It's her greatest fear, really.
"We leave everyone behind, in the end." Hugo agrees, watching the fire leap out once, before retreating. "That's just who we are."
In the morning, she doesn't ask to follow him, nor does he ask to do the same.
But they do end up going in the same direction.
Hugo doesn't walk too fast, and Chris doesn't walk slow. So they also end up keeping the same pace, coincidentally.
They don't say anything, and in fact, they both pretend like they're alone.
It's something they're used to doing anyway.
It's only at night, after dark, when they both decided to stop at the same time (but decided separately, of course), after the fire's been made (shared, because otherwise that would be a waste), that they speak.
"Where exactly are you going?" Hugo asked, nibbling on some venison he had been fortunate enough to catch.
Chris looked away, and out into the night, away from Zexen.
"I really couldn't care less where I'm going." She replies honestly, and smiles.
"After all, I've got all the time in the world."
Hugo smiles at that.
After a few more nights that pass in silence effortlessly, Chris decides to speak.
"I thought you were going to take over the Clan." She murmurs, watching him through lidded eyes, through the haze of gray smoke that obscured everything.
Hugo smiled again and shrugged. "I did. And I did everything a Clan leader should. Except that one about dying and passing on and having heirs and stuff." He paused, as if considering something of little importance. "After a while, there was nothing to stick around for."
"Your mother?" Chris asked, feeling that there was no need for propriety. They were both immortals, after all.
"Dead." Hugo said, without explanation, as though it meant nothing at all.
Chris wanted to apologize, but realized that it really didn't mean anything anymore.
After a certain amount of time, very little starts to matter.
"Do you mind if I come with you?" she asks instead. "I'm terribly bored."
Hugo laughs at that, rolling his eyes and slapping his knee. "Sure, why not. I've been bored for a while too."
The first time they speak on the road, it's Hugo who starts.
"You know, I really thought I was going to kill you one day." Hugo says lightly, and a breeze drifts on lazily. "Before the whole, 'Your father is like an uncle to me' deal."
Chris doesn't really want to remember Jimba Lightfellow anymore and so she decides to play along. "I don't think I'd ever mind it if you killed me." She murmurs, tucking her long hair backwards, so that the breeze wouldn't catch it.
"Don't worry. I doubt I ever will." Hugo replied calmly, hands loosely at his side. "After all, then who would I have to talk to?"
"Thanks." Chris said dryly.
Hugo grinned boyishly, belying his immortality. "I'd like to think I've grown out of ambushing beautiful women for revenge."
"What about that boy?" she asked quietly, shuffling her feet on the road.
"Lulu?" Hugo's tone doesn't change a bit. "I wish I could say I think about him every day... but I don't." He glanced at her, almost pleadingly. "Is that wrong?"
Chris shook her head gently, and her hand brushed up against his.
"No... I think that's just time."
They are attacked by bandits one day, people who thought that they were only targeting a simple maiden and a savage boy.
They were dead within moments.
"Idiots." Hugo murmurs, wiping the blood off his knife deliberately. "Isn't this a little too cliche nowadays?" the complaint is issued to no one.
"There will always be fools." Chris said quietly, accepting humanity's foolishness. "That's how we know who is wise." Her words feel repeated and old and simply boring, as though she's simply parroting something someone else said. And maybe she is.
"No one is wise." Hugo grunted, sheathing his blade with a soft click. "And no one is strong." His words are honest and pure, like his blade point.
"Not even us?" Chris whispered, her sword remaining stained and bloodied.
"Especially not us." Hugo said quietly, and decides that they'll have to dig graves today. "We, after all, are tired."
She nodded at that, and thought she felt a tear slip on by as she wiped her own sword clean.
Hugo pretended not to notice, watching the horizon. "Very tired indeed."
"Do you ever miss your home?" Hugo asked, obviously feeling that their journey had stripped any need of propriety.
Chris shook her head. "Not anymore." Her shoulders are loose and her head leaned back to look at the stars.
"What about the people? Your knights?" he pressed, obviously quite curious.
"What about your Clan? Do you miss them?" Chris responded, in lieu of answering.
"Not so much anymore." Hugo replied, after a short pause, shrugging his shoulders. "I think I did once, but I don't think about it anymore."
Hugo looked up at the stars, and smiled just a little.
"I don't think it matters." He glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes.
They're standing on the edge of a cliff one day, not smiling at the indigo, purple streaked sunset because there would be more.
But they would smile at each other.
The water glimmered and shone like sparkling glass made by a master. The horizon stretched on and on, but the sun would always be able to catch up.
They watched, because they'd like to do that for awhile.
"Hey." Chris' head turned toward him, while Hugo continued to stare out over the expanse. "Are you happy?"
Chris had to laugh at that, and Hugo actually looked surprised when she rolled her eyes and stamped on his foot. "What kind of question is that?" she muttered.
"A sensible one." Hugo said defensively. "I was just asking."
"We've lived longer than pretty much everyone, and we'll live forever to boot. And you think that's sensible?" Chris continued, rolling her eyes in annoyance.
"I thought it was." Hugo murmured, crossing his arms in a huff. "You're avoiding the question, you know." He said pointedly, glaring at her in irritation.
She ignored it. "To answer your question... yes." Chris smiled, and watched the sun go down with apathy, knowing it would be back up tomorrow. "It took me a while, but I suppose I am."
"I'm glad." Hugo said quietly, and gently scraped his foot against the cliff side, all the while keeping his eyes on her, lit up by the falling sun.
"It took me a long while to be happy too."
When they come upon a town, one they do not remember being there, they are a bit glad that there is no one there who remembers a time when a Silver Maiden or a Flame Champion was ever needed.
Of course, it is a bit embarrassing when they walk into an inn and are promptly given the honeymoon suite, overriding protests.
Neither of them is blushing (centuries old warriors of old do not blush), but Chris feels that the room is decidedly warm.
There is only one bed.
"Well, I suppose we'll have to share." Hugo says plainly, simply, but he is pointedly not looking at her, or the bed.
"Yes." Chris agrees, but is also pointedly not looking at the young man (well, young in looks) next to her.
When she turns around, simply because they'll have to look at each other eventually, she feels warm, soft pressure against her lips.
Hugo pulls away, and smiles gently. "You know, I've wanted to do that for a long time." He remarks airily. "I've always had a bit of an infatuation with you, I'll admit."
Chris Lightfellow is certainly not blushing like a silly schoolgirl. Certainly not.
The Flame Champion turned away, waving his hand dismissively.
Chris Lightfellow is also not one to take surprise attacks well, and is known to respond in kind with great tenacity.
Hugo finds he doesn't mind this surprise attack one bit.
"What did you mean, you were always a bit infatuated with me?" she asks later, leaning against him, feeling more secure in his arms than in armor.
"I was a teenage boy when I met you. And you are very beautiful." Hugo said plainly, shrugging his shoulders as he gently nuzzled her neck.
"Is that why you gave me that hug?" Chris demands, turning her head slightly, narrowing her eyes at the nonchalant Flame Champion.
"Maybe... though that armor of yours was pretty restrictive." Hugo says innocently, looking pointedly away.
Chris frowned at that, and sighed, letting go and leaning into his chest.
"Yeah... it was. But it's gone now."
Chris meets up with Hugo at the gate (having decides she was not going to live on foraging and hunting all the time), and finds him lazily leaning against the wall, half watching the crowds of bustling mortals walking by.
"You know, I don't like crowds." Hugo states as she walks up, looking bored.
"They can be grating." Chris agrees, idly hefting her pack once. "But you get used to them."
"Hn. Come on then." Hugo murmurs, instead of answering, pushing off against the wall.
She didn't move for a moment, and he turned to look at her curiously.
Chris grasped his hand, moving her fingers across his knuckles gently. To his credit, the Flame Champion barely seemed affected, but squeezed her hand all the same.
"What's the rush?" she asked. "We've got all the time in the world."