Bound Through the Ages
A/N; Well I hope you all enjoy the final chapter of this story. It's been two years and ten months since I started this story and I hope you all enjoyed reading it. I think it ends on a nice note and it's been planned to end exactly like this since its original conception. I have no real intention of writing a sequel to this story so I hope you are happy with this.
Please enjoy the final chapter!
Chapter 14; Immortal
Extract out of the acclaimed 'The tides of destruction; An account of the Great Aeon.'
'In the hour of dusk, even as the citizens of Bevelle fled at the bequest of the Summoner Yuna and her Guardians, the first strike against Spira fell upon the capital city of Yevon. An enemy ages older than the creation of Sin swept slowly through the shallows of the ocean. Forgotten in the time since Zanarkand's destruction to all but it's Immortal Keeper, the living Fayth, punished through eternity for its creation. It rose steady above the greatest city in Spira and wrote out its place in our history. None remaining in Bevelle survived it's onslaught. It was awesome and deadly. Sin could not compare. Sin had already faced it and been destroyed. Spira was paying its dues for being free of Sin for eternity.
Many say the price was too high.'
Four hours after Sin's death – Above Macalania Forest
Tidus knelt on the deck of the Highwind, safe far above the ground, yet he trembled for what he and the others had done. They had known that there would be a price for releasing the Great Aeon and he only hoped that in the coming centuries Spira could finally recover once and for all. People had to fight for their freedom and for their lives and living under Sin was not a life. Even Harry had agreed with them on that. He'd known that Harry would be in pain after the Great Aeon's release but he and the others had never imagined that Harry had been the Great Aeon.
All Tidus had thought about for the last four hours was whether that would have changed his mind. He tried not to think about it and try to come up with a way to stop the Aeon like Simon had told him to and he knew the others were inside the bridge discussing plans and options but he couldn't help them when he couldn't get Harry's anguish out of his mind.
One other person was in a similar position to him, kneeling next to him with her own tears on her face. Yuna hadn't said a word to anyone since they realised that Bevelle was the first target and now, before them, they knew the time was up. By unspoken agreement the two had decided that if they were going to be the cause of all of this then they were going to force themselves to witness it themselves.
They'd warned Bevelle four hours ago and followed the Great Aeon as it slipped underwater towards the Yevon capital and the civilians, for the most part, had fled yet so many were standing true to the fact that Yevon would protect them as Yevon had delivered them from Sin. They understood Sin was dead but they saw the Great Aeon as some kind of deliverer to stand tall before and not run from. They didn't understand and when Tidus had wanted to go down there to explain it forcibly Rikku and Kimahri had restrained him.
The Warrior Monks and Crusaders within Bevelle had armed every defence they had and the many bells of the city, which had last run for Yuna's wedding, now tolled out a warning as beyond the city a great wall of water rose up in the shallows before flowing down against the high walls of the city as the Great Aeon emerged. It's dark silver hide glowing slightly red as the sun behind them struck it. It rose above the city and its wings opened high above it.
Then it started. A barrage of shots struck out at the Aeon. Tidus couldn't bear to think of it as Harry. All of the defences turned on it yet their shots bounced off of the hard hide like smoke. Yuna gasped beside him and Tidus tore his eyes away from Bevelle long enough to look at her. A small boy was standing beside her with sad eyes. "Christopher." Tidus gasped.
"Goodbye, Tidus." Christopher told him. "Tell Harry that I love him."
"Christopher?" Tidus frowned as the image faded and Yuna shot him a strained look before they turned back to the sound of a roar that rose up over the sounds of the defenders. A large, dark blue and red, Aeon rose up from the top of one of the largest towers, the temple where Christopher's Fayth resided. Tidus knew it was possibly the largest of the Aeons yet it was barely larger than the Great Aeon's jaws.
Yuna gasped before standing and throwing out her arms and Bahamut roared even as energy burst from Yuna and the clouds swirled and a shape fell down from the sky. Wings unfurled and Bahamut leapt up to join Valefor in the air. They attacked within the barrage of defensive guns but throughout all of this the Great Aeon had merely drawn steadily closer to the city although the emergence of the two Aeons drew it's head up to watch them. They attacked, a lance of red light and a beam of bright white struck out and slammed into the air a hundred feet from the Great Aeon. The air throbbed as Myst drained the attacks before the strikes ricocheted away and sliced deeply through the city below them, carving two lines through the buildings, walls and towers. Eight buildings crumbled to the attack.
"They don't stand a chance!" Wakka gasped behind them but Tidus didn't turn to look at them. He hadn't even noticed when they'd arrived.
The Great Aeon turned away from the two Aeons, ignoring them as the air began to shift and distort and as the group on the airship watched the towers on the far side of the city warped to their eyes and the defensive guns that the Warrior Monks had been using on the far side of the city went silent. Screams rose from within the city and Tidus sagged. The Great Aeon wasn't even going to enter the city, it didn't need to.
"What's it doing?" Rikku asked.
"The scene that Harry showed us." Lulu sounded distraught and Tidus wasn't surprised. "Of a great city of metal and glass. The Great Aeon just hung above it."
"And the people there..." Wakka caught himself before he could finish but the picture flashed through them all. Bodies distorting within the floods of Myst, dying even as their world twisted and faded around them.
The centre of the city was now distorted from their view, the tallest towers curving over even though they all knew it was just the light bending. The guns were all silent now and they knew the Warrior Monks, and anyone else left in the city, were all already dead. Tidus noticed it first and straightened up. The Myst had frozen in position like a dome around the city and it began to thicken right above the top. Bahamut and Valefor hung above the scene, unable to do anything but they'd obviously seen what was happening and probably knew what it meant. Tidus didn't have a clue though.
"No!" Yuna cried out a second before it happened. She clutched her head as the Myst struck inwards through the top of the dome and down into the tower that housed Bahamut's Fayth. It flooded into the tower and the Myst around the city faded just as the tower disintegrated into itself. It hit another tower on its way down, pulling that one down across the northern part of the city but Tidus knew there wasn't anyone alive to be caught under it.
Above the city Bahamut roared and flashed with a bright white light before vanishing. Valefor cried out before flying straight up into the sky and dismissing herself. Yuna sagged and turned to look at Tidus. "He's gone." She cried.
"Who's gone?" Lulu asked even though Tidus already knew the answer.
"Bahamut." Yuna hung her head.
"The Great Aeon destroyed Bahamut's crystal?" Rikku asked and Tidus nodded.
"At least it's something Harry wanted." He hung his own head unable to look at the Great Aeon as it sunk down away from the city again. "Christopher was like his son."
Yuna touched his arm but Tidus couldn't find it in himself to respond. He couldn't say to them all that Christopher was part of a group who's dreaming was allowing him to exist. Only Harry knew that. If Harry turned to the Zanarkand Summoners just north of them and destroyed them as well then Tidus would cease to exist.
Bevelle still stood but the silence of the normally bustling city throbbed against their ears in the unnatural stillness of the air around them. Already Sin had killed almost six hundred but at least they'd saved the eighteen thousand that had fled into Macalania Woods and across the Thunder plains to Guadosalam.
The next day – Airship over Luca
"We need a plan." Cid announced as he eyed the hologram that showed them the main continent of Spira. Over the last night the Great Aeon had destroyed the Remiem Temple and the Macalania Temple and although the Remiem Temple hadn't cost any lives the Macalania Temple had been strewn about with the dead. Refugees from Bevelle had fled there and nobody had even seen the Great Aeon approach. It had come up from underneath and the temple had burst into flames.
The only reason they knew that Remiem Temple had been hit was because Yuna had told them that the Delta Sisters were gone. And Yuna had been the one to tell them to go to Macalania Temple to find the ruins after Zara, or Shiva, had vanished as well. It became clear that the Great Aeon was targeting the Fayths that it came across.
"Well we know it's targeting Temples." Wakka pointed out. "The next one would be Djose so maybe we should head there?"
"And do what?" Rikku asked. "Throw missiles at it? The people back then used massive bombs and it barely irritated that thing!"
Tidus felt a bubble of anger as Rikku called the Great Aeon a thing but in the end he just looked at the hologram of the floating Aeon that was working its way down the western coast of the continent. It had already destroyed two small towns merely because they were in its path. One was a ghost town and the other had been swallowed up completely by a massive rise in the water.
"That ghost told Tidus that he could stop it." Lulu commented.
"He doesn't know how." Yuna sighed and Tidus knew she'd glanced at his back in concern. "Tidus can't just go there and hope for the best or the Great Aeon might just kill him too."
"The Great Aeon is targeting what angered Harry." Auron spoke up with a small sigh. "The Fayths for aiding in his release and he'll turn against us because we were the ones to actually release him."
Tidus walked away from them all towards the back of Brother's piloting chair and rested his hands on the back. "Harry, I hope you're also freeing them." He muttered to himself. "But his mind was being made up even as he stared out at the Mi'ihen Highroad. "If you're going to Djose then you'll see me there. I won't keep running from you, Harry. Not after I did this to you."
"Tidus?" Brother asked in concern although he didn't understand what Tidus had said.
"Land, Brother." Harry told him in stunted Al'bhed. "I'm getting off here."
Brother did as he was told and Tidus walked purposely back through the control room as Cid demanded an explanation from Brother who only told him what Tidus had said. Cid then demanded to know what he was thinking which clued in the others but Tidus was already moving into the corridor. If Brother didn't land then Tidus was planning on jumping off. They were over water after all.
The Airship hovered just above the entrance to Djose Temple by the time Tidus got to the hatch and he was surprised but it was obvious somebody had realised what he was planning. He stepped out on the dusty rock and Rikku stepped out behind him. He spun to face her. "Not a chance, Rikku!" He yelled over the sound of the Airship's engines.
"He's my friend too!" Rikku told him.
"I'm about to get myself killed!" Tidus argued.
"You'd better have a better plan than that." Yuna demanded appearing in the hatchway.
"Get away from here, Yuna!" Tidus demanded and shoved Rikku towards the hatch.
"I've betrayed him too, Tidus." Yuna pointed out though she didn't actually step out of the hatchway.
"Nobody betrayed him like I did, Yuna." Tidus shook his head. "He deserves to have me face him rather than just continually running away from him. "This isn't my world but I helped make the decision to destroy part of it. I still think what we've done had to be done but if by standing here I can stop this then I have to try even if it kills me. You've made your sacrifice and so has Harry. Now it's my turn."
"Go, Lady Yuna." A whispery voice spoke up from Tidus' shoulder and Tidus leapt around to find Simon standing there and he wasn't alone. Christopher was leaning under his arm and on his other side was Zara. "Tidus will not be alone."
"Rikku..." Yuna called and the girl turned to look at Tidus before leaping forward to hug him tightly. She kissed his cheek and backed away and up into the hatch. Both girls were crying and Tidus knew the chances of seeing them again were slim.
"We've got to go!" Cid's voice called from the speakers on the airship's hull. "It's nearly here!"
"Go, pops!" Rikku spoke into the intercom and the hatch began to close on his first friend in this world and his Summoner. The airship lurched and rapidly climbed up into the air and Tidus swallowed thickly and turned to Simon.
"You don't have to stay and watch this, Simon." Tidus told him with tears in his eyes. "I did this and now I'll let Harry have his revenge."
Simon stepped closer and laid a hand on Tidus' shoulder and leaned in to press a kiss to his forehead even though Tidus couldn't feel either of them. "They have given me the chance to stand beside you now and the other Fayth are supporting Zara and Christopher for the same reason. Harry loves you and he doesn't want revenge on you. He wants hope."
"I can't give him hope, Simon." Tidus turned away and walked towards the Mushroom Rock Road because he knew through every fibre of his being that it was where the Great Aeon would land before attacking Djose Temple.
He stopped on the edge of the platform where the Crusader and Al'bhed mission had been commanded from and merely waited. "Christopher?" Tidus asked the small ghost of a boy. "If I die what happens to me?"
"You're a dream, Tidus." Christopher smiled at him sadly. "Dreams never die."
"But I can cease to exist." Tidus argued.
"And if Harry destroys you here you will cease to exist. They could dream up an exact copy of you to replace you but you would be dream alone. It took us the life times of three generations to empower your mother, father and you." Christopher told him gently. "If they create a copy it will be nothing but a shell, a dream within their minds."
"So I'll just stop?" Tidus asked. "And where does a dream go when it ends?"
"You mother came to be with me." Simon told him. "I imagine you will do the same."
"I don't expect Harry will want to visit me in Guadosalam." Tidus muttered but then gritted his teeth. Harry shouldn't have to see him again. Harry would have been better off not knowing him at all.
Tidus frowned as the water began to rush out of the large bay, flowing out to sea even as the ground trembled beneath them. He could hear shouting from the direction of the Temple but the only people remaining were the Temple Priest and his acolytes who refused to leave their Fayth.
Something suddenly occurred to him and he looked at Christopher. "If by some miracle killing me stops him or seeing me is enough to calm him what will happen to the other Fayth that he hasn't destroyed yet?"
"They will remain trapped." Christopher nodded his head, reaffirming what Tidus had just realised.
"I can't..." Tidus gasped and looked around him desperately as if looking for another solution. "They'll be trapped still."
"I have spoke to them. Stopping Harry from destroying the population is more important than our freedom. We didn't help to release him to free ourselves, we did it to free Spira from its curse, to free Harry in the future." Christopher told him. "Harry raised me, Tidus. I love him as my father. The other Fayth love him also because of the sacrifice he has made for us. A sacrifice we will gladly share. He has released myself, Zara and the three but if we don't stop him soon then Spira will cease to exist except as a place for us to watch Harry wander alone."
The sun suddenly dimmed and that was the only warning that Tidus got before a massive shadow appeared over their heads. The Great Aeon's seemingly black hide flew overhead and settled down onto the dry bed of the bay. The water crashed violently out to sea and Tidus could see massive waves breaking against the far edges of the land.
The huge beast turned slowly to face the Temple but it's eyes spotted Tidus and the three ghosts standing above it and it's growl shook the ground. Tidus gasped when water flooded his ankles and he half turned to see water pouring over the top of the cliff behind him. It was sea water but it was thirty miles to the ocean in that direction. Had the Great Aeon pulled all of that water after it. The ground trembled as the Great Aeon rounded further on them and it's jaws opened and the air stilled.
"I'm sorry, Harry." Tidus swallowed the lump in his throat even as he stepped close to the edge. The water ran right by his knees now and he could barely see the edge of the land. The ground shook as part of the cliff on his right crumbled down and over the edge of the path. The water turned to steam as it hit the bay floor and Tidus looked down at where the beach and the bed of the bay were burning. Moving about as molten rock. Tidus looked back up at the wall of rising steam as the Great Aeon's head pushed through. It's black eyes locked down at their group.
Tidus felt himself relax knowing that he couldn't really change any of this now, just accept what was going to happen to him. He reached out his hand towards what he now thought of as Harry and he cried in quiet sobs like he hadn't done before the last few days. "You don't want to destroy the whole world, Harry." Tidus found himself talking, ignoring the water and the steam, the trembling ground and the three ghosts behind him as he stared at the still head of the Great Aeon. "You only want me. Kill me and I'll be with Simon. I'll watch over you. I promise."
The Great Aeon shifted and its tail lurched around and slammed straight through the cliff by the entrance to the bay but the tail didn't effect it. Merely passed through it. The ground shuddered and Tidus fell to his knees in the rushing water just before the cliff exploded. The ground tipped and Tidus scrambled up so his head didn't disappear under the water. The ground continued to tip and Tidus realised in shock that the entirety of Mushroom Rock road was turning slowly over, east over west. So much so that the water that had been running down the cliff halted and began to drain back along the road.
"Stop it, Harry!" Tidus yelled and felt something throb in his chest as he screamed at the top of his voice. If Harry continued like this he could turn the entire continent of Spira upside down. Harry had told him long ago about how the continents had sunk and the sea beds risen during the Great Calamity. If Harry did it again he doubted anyone would survive. "Kill me!" Tidus recklessly shouted and called up the most powerful magic he could harness and the Thundara slammed out from his hands and bounced harmlessly off of the side of Harry's neck.
A wave of air struck him and he was sent tumbling down the tilting ground. It was almost like a fly being swatted. Harry barely noticed it yet just sent Tidus sprawling. Tidus struggled back up even as his body burned at the effort but his adrenaline shot through his body. He couldn't let this continue. Hopefully if the Great Aeon killed him it would bring it back under control. Simon had assured him that Harry didn't want revenge against Tidus but maybe the pain of killing him, even unintentionally, would bring him to his senses.
His adrenaline shot through his body and Tidus did what was now common practice to him and channelled it into his magic and let his Divergent Overdrive flood through him. His feet rose above the water as his eyes tried to flow shut and Myst around the area shuddered as it was called through his body. A deep rumbling settled through Tidus as Myst grew around him. He felt it beating within his body along with his heartbeat but he could feel it around his body as well beating to a different heartbeat, a slower one. His eyes snapped open but he didn't use the Overdrive attack. The other heartbeat was the pulse of the Great Aeon that flowed and controlled the Myst. Tidus felt himself land gently on the now still ground but his heart beat throbbed through the Myst around him just as the Great Aeon's did.
In that moment they were connected. Human dream to Aeon and deeper within the Aeon. Tidus swallowed thickly as he felt the distinct presence of Harry in that heart beat and as the Great Aeon stood silently Tidus shut his eyes, feeling as though Harry was right there with him. Embracing him. He felt like he did when waking up in Harry's arms. When they'd woken up together on the Airship on the way to Bevelle after their first time making love.
Tidus smiled as the emotions overwhelmed him. It didn't matter that he was provoking the largest power to ever walk this planet. It didn't matter to him that he had betrayed Harry because at the moment the only thing that existed in Tidus' world was Harry and Tidus' love for Harry. And what was more was that Tidus could tell that the only thing that the Great Aeon was bothered about was Tidus and what Tidus shared with his Fayth. From his influence over the Myst, to his memories but most importantly his emotions and feelings. The basis of everything they shared was the love they had for one another and just like with Harry and Simon not even death could stop them loving one another.
He felt a hand against his back and in the closed in world that was his only existence right then he saw two figures lying together in a bed. One was Harry and the other was a young looking Simon and he knew that it was their first morning waking up together. He saw flashes of their life together and absorbed it all even as the Great Aeon watched it all. He saw them marry, he saw their house together, he saw them fighting together; two gods beyond any other fighters Spira would ever see. And he saw them grow together and Simon grow old and he saw Simon's last moments with Harry with Harry holding him in his arms as Simon closed his eyes to the mortal world for the final time.
Emotional pain like he'd never felt before flowed through him and he knew it was Harry's pain at the memory that they'd witnessed so vividly. Tidus felt the ground shake and heard the loud and painful throbbing through the air that was the Great Aeon's own pain. This was the first thing to ever actually pain the massive Aeon. The pain that Tidus felt was so much greater than anything that Tidus had ever imagined feeling before. His greatest pain was watching his mother slowly die of heartbreak and then of betraying Harry and watching the pain in his eyes. Harry's pain though was so much deeper, so much more powerful and his heart bled as he tried to get his own love to overcome the pain. He struggled for a time trying to overcome it himself but even when he managed that he could feel that Harry, as part of the Great Aeon, still struggled with it deep within himself. The pain that made him so angry at the world but the love that made his life worth living. The promise of hope that Simon and Christopher had spoken of.
It was hope and love that made Harry keep moving because all other emotions had become hollow and fleeting to him.
Tidus didn't know how long they remained locked as they were but suddenly the beating Myst was gone and Tidus fell to his knees with a gasping cry as air rushed back into his lungs. He'd forgotten to keep breathing and his vision dimmed as his brain complained but he pushed through it as he watched the Myst spiral around within the bay, ripping off chunks of the cliffs as it spiralled but he noticed something else. The bed of the bay, the beach and the cliffs were speckled with crystals. In the Great Aeon's pain it had effected the land around them but now it was tearing the crystal off into the maelstrom of Myst.
Christopher appeared standing just in front of him at the edge of the water. "You've done it, Tidus." He told him. "This is the end."
"Harry?" Tidus gasped just as the Myst exploded outwards throwing him backwards onto the ground and blowing rock and water up into the air around the bay with a boom that could probably be heard all the way south in Besaid. When Tidus managed to right himself it was to see a body falling down towards the bed at the bottom of the drained bay. It made no sound that could reach them when it hit the ground and Tidus cried out his name again even as the roar of water drew his attention to the massive flood of water that rushed through the entrance to the bay as it gave into gravity. "No!" Tidus cried as the water smashed over what had to be Harry's body, completely swallowing it. The water struck the beach and the cliffs and sprayed right up to where he was kneeling and Tidus could only stare down at the roiling mass of millions of tonnes of water.
"He'll survive, Tidus." Simon told him. "I will watch over him as I always have."
"As will we." Christopher told him and as Tidus sat on his heels at the edge of the tilted and crystallised Mushroom Rock Road the three ghosts faded.
Tidus knew what he was waiting for as he stared down over the edge of the cliff. He was hoping that Harry would surface and he could run down to him. He knew that even if Harry was conscious and hadn't drifted out to sea he probably wouldn't want Tidus and the others finding him straight away but Tidus was willing to wait here just in case.
Simon's words hung over his head. The ghost had told him that he'd watch over Harry but that only pointed out to Tidus that when the Dreamers stopped dreaming which they could do right now if they wanted to then Tidus would either fade from existence or he'd die and his soul would go to where Simon was. Either option would leave Harry alone and that thought alone made his chest ache. He didn't want to leave Harry alone again.
"Yet you share the same fate now that the Immortal Fayth does." Tidus gasped as he found himself staring out at a vast expanse of white. He couldn't even control his own body. It was like a bright light had burst in front of his eyes yet he felt nothing from the light, nor from his own body. Just an ache that he thought would be a part of his life for however long he lived.
"Oh that ache will fade." A different voice, one that sounded like his father, chuckled though there was no real humour in it. Merely an amused observation.
"The ache will fade but you will not." A third voice spoke and this time it sounded like Harry yet without any real personality. Tidus didn't really believe that his mother, father and Harry were actually talking to him.
"You're the beings that punished Harry?" Tidus realised.
"Yes." All three spoke one after the other, drifting around him as they did.
"Hasn't Harry been punished enough?" Tidus accused.
"You are not in a position to decide such a thing but we have come to appreciate his contributions." His mother told him. "And those that we have punished for their deeds have sought a way to free the world from this being, Sin, and so we shall allow Harry to continue to free them."
"Harry chose to pass over his only opportunity to pass on." His father pointed out. "That decision will not be revoked. He will evermore be a part of the mortal world yet always be apart from them as an immortal. He will always suffer his punishment. He will always be responsible for guarding his creation."
"And you will help him." Harry's voice echoed through his head. "Think of it as your punishment and our gift to you both."
Tidus gasped in surprise but he felt relieved. He had known he might be punished but this was a gift for Harry and Tidus and he knew that these beings recognised that. They weren't going to let Harry off of his punishment but they were easing his pain by giving him someone that could love him and be with him. Tidus paused in his thoughts as he remembered the extra memories that he'd witnessed earlier. The love and life that Harry and Simon had shared. It had always been Harry's hope that one day he'd be let off from his punishment so he could once more be with Simon in death but he'd had that ripped away from him when he'd chosen to stay in order to free the other Fayth.
Now Simon would be alone for eternity. He'd known that Harry might never be able to be with Simon but Tidus knew that in time when Tidus died that he'd be able to keep Simon company. Together Tidus and Simon could have watched over Harry, bound by their common love for Harry.
"Could I take Harry's original punishment?" Tidus asked as the ache grew in his chest.
"To what end?" Harry's voice asked and there was actual amusement in the voice.
"I'll remain on earth like Harry has done. Alone." Tidus begged. "In exchange for releasing Harry to die and be with Simon."
"Tidus! No!" Simon's voice echoed weakly through the area and something told Tidus that it truly was Simon's voice. Simon could hear the conversation just like Harry had told him that Simon had been listening to Harry's conversation with them after what had happened to him in Bevelle.
"A true sacrifice." His mother hummed as if in thought.
"Please!" Tidus begged. "He deserves to be with Simon."
"And you would suffer his punishment?" His father asked. "Walk Spira for eternity alone? Watch everyone you know die in their time as you live on, immortal and ever young? Never to fit in with anyone? That is what you want?"
"I want Harry to be happy!" Tidus snapped at them. "I don't care about anything else."
Tidus was met by silence but he knew that the beings didn't need time to decide. They didn't owe him anything.
"Our decision stands." His mother's voice was like a stab straight to the heart. He was happy to be able to be with Harry but Harry would have been so happy with Simon. Finally able to just die and be with Simon for the rest of eternity. It had been Harry's only true desire ever since Tidus had known him.
The world crashed back around him and he fell to the ground and stared up at the cloudless sky. He could never die and neither could Harry. Simon would remain alone to watch Harry and Tidus live through centuries and millennia together and Harry would always be saddened by that loss.
The airship appeared over the edge of the cliff above him and Tidus felt his hair being buffeted around his head as it slowly sunk down beside the cliff but he just laid there, unable to take in anything else.
Two weeks later
Harry stood looking down at the bay where the Great Aeon had given up its conquest, all because Tidus had stood before it and given himself up to whatever the Great Aeon had wanted to do. Harry could remember the desires that had run through his Aeon form at being faced with Tidus. Originally anger and betrayal had flooded the Aeon and it had turned its entire might against the single human boy. So much power and anger that the whole hundred mile long Mi'ihen Peninsula had begun to roll as the plate had shifted. Lucas had been hit with massive Earthquakes yet the plate had broken along the Highroad and spared it a much worse fate. The coastline on the west had sunk into the ocean by eight metres and the cliffs of the eastern coast had risen by a similar amount and were now quite obviously slanted inland.
Nobody would ever look at the Mi'ihen Peninsula again without remembering the might of the Great Aeon. The slaughter of the Crusaders and Al'bhed of almost six months ago now paled in comparison. Four hundred people had died along the western coast as their towns sunk into the sea and about forty people died in Luca during the Earthquakes.
Really though, Spira had gotten off lucky. Very lucky. Yuna, Tidus and the others had made their decision and Harry could only find it in himself to forgive Tidus because Tidus had been willing to sacrifice himself, not only to stop the Great Aeon from its rampage but also to free Harry from his punishment.
He'd heard everything that the 'beings' had said to Tidus. He'd heard Simon's cry from the beyond yet he'd remained silent until Tidus had gone. Tidus' presence would ease the coming years but he had come to rely on Tidus being there to relieve Simon's pain. The one true victim in all of this and he didn't have a loved one to share his eternity with.
The beings had charged him with one other task before he was allowed to hide from the world and possibly rebuild something of an existence but he was willing to do it because the other Fayth were beyond the point where they should have to remain here. The Zanarkand Summoners had ended their dream and the Delta Sisters, Christopher in Bevelle and Zara in Macalania had all been freed by the Great Aeon. So too had Anima been freed by the 'beings'.
Harry walked up to the flooded entrance of the Djose Temple. The area in front of it was strewn with crystal boulders from the brief moment when the Great Aeon had cried out in pain at the remembered death of Simon. Two men were working on a wooden scaffolding to cross the water but they looked up at him in confusion as he passed them by in the waist deep water.
"Hey!" One called to him but he ignored them and entered the darkened interior of the damaged temple. One of the men ran in behind him calling out to him which attracted the attention of the Temple Priest who was working with another man to try to light the fires around the entrance hall.
"Good traveller." The Priest greeted with a bow before looking up at him with confusion in his eyes. He flinched and then his eyes widened and Harry knew that Elizia had recognised him. This was the first time any of the others had seen him since the Great Aeon had been released. They'd known he still existed since his power still slumbered beneath the ocean but they knew not what he was doing. The Priest reached for his staff but then crumbled to the ground. The man with him was too surprised but Harry moved and caught him, easing him down to his knees. "I know what you are!" The Priest gasped. "Why are you here?"
"What is Elizia saying?" Harry asked, not able to keep the pain out of his voice.
"You know that name?" The Priest gasped. "She is tormented by what has happened."
"Come with me to her chamber." Harry requested. "You need not be confused. I am not here to harm anyone."
"You are the Great Aeon!" The Priest gasped and the other two men stumbled back away from him. "It's Fayth!"
"High Priest?" One of the men asked for orders.
"Will you be another to try to kill me?" Harry asked gently. "She won't allow you to summon against me. You can hear that yourself." Harry knew that would be true. Not after what they'd done.
"Stand back!" The Priest ordered his men who bowed. "Come, Fayth. We will go inside the Cloister."
Harry didn't say a word as they went though the trials but the route was open to them like it always was to Harry unless he was bringing Summoners through them and the Chamber of the Fayth opened for them as they approached. Harry actually found himself droping down onto his knees against the edge of the crystal as he saw Elizia standing on top or her crystal. He hung his head and she knelt opposite him.
"You've been through so much pain, Harry." She told him and the Priest bowed deeply to her and knelt at the edge of her crystal to one side. "We've known each other for how long now?"
"About fourteen hundred years." He looked up at him. Priest's head snapped up.
"You didn't know me when I was alive though did you?" She asked and Harry shook his head. He couldn't help but feel like a wounded child right now. "Not like you knew Zara before she lost control and destroyed her city."
"I'm sorry that she's free and you're not." Harry told her. "My Aeon was coming here to free you..."
"I don't blame Tidus for stopping you before freeing me. After here you would have destroyed Luca." Elizia nodded even as the Priest frowned in horror. The poor man was going out of his mind but he knew when a situation was better left alone and the two others in the room were the root of all of his own strength and an ageless immortal that his own Aeon respected utterly and had just become known as a Fayth for the greatest power anyone had ever witnessed. Elizia turned to the Priest. "Do you see now why we would never be summoned against him? Why I was so angry at your religion when it tried to hurt him?"
The Priest nodded. "I am sorry."
"You were not foolish, Gulliver." Elizia told him. "You stepped away and trusted my words over your own Maesters' authority."
"The Maesters have no claim over you all." Gulliver the Priest bowed his head.
"Do you know what I did to become a Fayth, Gulliver?" She asked and Harry snapped his head up to look at her.
"Elizia!" He gasped. "He doesn't need to know."
"Everyone now knows what you did, Harry." She sighed before turning to Gulliver. "Bevelle was testing weapons of destruction that you cannot imagine. I wanted to stop them so I came to their facility and destroyed their weapon."
"Elizia..." Harry hung his head.
"The explosion detonated their weapon." She smiled sadly down at the Priest. "Their weapon created the bay that you now see outside. The explosion destroyed four towns in this area, including the small fishing village where my husband and two sons lived. I died and this was my eternal punishment. I am now a Fayth as punishment for my decision."
"Elizia." Harry gained her attention. "None of that matters anymore."
"There is no more Sin." Elizia pointed out. "Nobody needs to believe in us any longer. We're not needed to give the people hope. Our terrible deeds can become known."
"Elizia. Your punishment has ended." Harry told her and slowly stood up and walked up onto the edge of her crystal. "They have sent me to free you and all of the others."
"They wouldn't..." Elizia gasped and Harry could see her shaking. "They have?" Hope bled from her face. "Michael, Trevor and Luke?"
"You can go to them now." Harry nodded and raised his hand. Pure white energy appeared there though it took nothing from his own energy. This power wasn't part of him but of something greater. Given to him purely to do this task.
"But, Harry, what about you?" Elizia gasped.
"I remain." Harry shook his head. "But you have paid your dues, Elizia. It's past time that you rested in peace."
"I'll always watch over you, Harry." Elizia swore to him.
"Give Simon and Christopher my love and tell Christopher that I forgave him long ago." Harry was crying freely and he let the white light in his hand drop onto the top of the platform. Elizia nodded, crying too. She closed her eyes and faded from view just as the Crystal below him shuddered. He stepped back off of it before it shattered into thousands of pieces and crumbled upon her body which scattered into Pyreflies.
He bowed his head to her and a small smile graced his lips even as Gulliver stared at him, looking rather lost without his Aeon in his mind. Harry gazed across at him and the Priest nodded to him to show he understood. "Where am I needed?" The Priest asked him.
"Head to Luca. There are still many wounded there." Harry told him. "Let this place rest. She deserves that."
"I will always honour her in my memory." Gulliver bowed to him as Harry turned and slipped out of the chamber. He would visit the others in turn and they now knew to expect him though each probably wouldn't believe that their punishment was at an end. He knew Yuna would know of Elizia's disappearance and even if the others didn't tell her he was sure she would realise what was happening. He would go to Besaid last. He just hoped that Tidus would be there waiting for him.
Yuna looked up at the gathering crowd around her from where she was on her knees. She had been watching from the side, resting, as the crowds cared for the wounded and cleared rubble. There were currently three Summoners like herself in the world, not including the Temple Priests who only had their own Temple's Aeon but she didn't doubt that both Isaaru and Dona had felt the sudden loss of Ixion from within their cores. To make matters worse her other Aeons were talking to her in a frantic state that she couldn't understand.
"Yuna?" Lulu called as she helped her to stand. "Are you alright?"
"Something's happened to Djose temple!" She gasped. "Ixion is gone!"
"Gone?" One of the Luca townspeople gasped loudly and it quickly spread through the crowd.
"I can no longer call on her." Yuna rubbed at her head. "The other Fayth are happy that she's gone."
Tidus was suddenly standing in front of her and he took her hands and focused on her. "Ask them..." He spoke for the first time since whatever had happened between him and the Great Aeon two weeks past. "Ask them whether it was Harry that did it?"
"How could Harry..." Wakka asked.
'Tidus speaks the truth of it.' Valefor's calm voice whispered in her mind, calming the other two. 'Only Yojimbo, Ifrit and I remain.'
"She says it was." She whispered to Tidus and watched something spark in her friend before closing away again as Tidus sunk down onto a crate. Yuna sat next to him.
"If it was Harry shouldn't we go find him?" Wakka asked.
Yuna looked around her and thought about it. Rikku and Auron were up in Bevelle organising the citizens there to help the Al'bhed travel between the smaller towns that had been the worst hit by the Great Aeon and Dona and Isaaru were up with them lending a hand. Kimahri, Tidus, Lulu and Wakka had remained with her to help the tens of thousands trying to clear their way through Luca even as survivors from the Mi'ihen Peninsula shift headed south to the city looking for aid. Boats crammed into the docks and people were being shifted up the coast to the relatively intact Bevelle. Not one person had complained about the Al'bhed helping out or their ships doing most of the work.
"No." Tidus whispered. "Leave him be."
"Are you sure?" Yuna asked.
"He'll come to Besaid?" Tidus asked her and Yuna frowned wondering why he was asking her.
'He will in time.' Valefor spoke once more and Yuna nodded to Tidus.
"Then we'll work to rescue Spira from this and then return home to Besaid. He'll find us if he wants to."
"If?" Wakka asked rather tactlessly and Lulu smacked him very hard on the shoulder. Tidus flinched regardless and walked away from the growing crowd to find somewhere to sit in silence. He'd yet to tell any of the others what he now was. What his punishment had been even after Yuna had told them of a short conversation that she had had. Yuna had been charged only with not shirking her duty to reform Spira. Tidus just couldn't bring himself to admit that there were now two immortals roaming Spira because he still dreaded the idea that maybe Harry would want nothing to do with him and that they'd merely avoid each other for all of eternity.
A week later – Cavern of the Stolen Fayth
"So you came this way first?" Ron asked him gently as he sat cross-legged above his own broken crystal. Harry sat down in the same position just at the edge of the crystal.
"There's only you, Hermione and Neville left." Harry shrugged. "And..."
"Tidus is in the southern islands?" Ron suggested.
"Is he?" Harry asked.
"You want me to spy on him for you?" Ron joked but then became serious. "We are watching him through Yuna's eyes. We've asked her not to let him out of her sight and she is trying, yet he's good at slipping away to be alone. Yuna is wondering what his punishment is. He told her he has none but..."
"You don't believe that?" Harry finished for him. "If he hasn't told Yuna then he doesn't want his friends to know. Tell Hermione and Neville but let him make his own decision about the others."
Ron smiled at him though it was still strained. "We do have a bit of common sense between the three of us."
"You mean Hermione does and you and Neville are just along for kicks?" Harry smirked and Ron smiled at him truly for the first time. "He now shares my punishment." Ron gasped. "There will be no end for either of us."
"But Simon?" Ron looked upset. Ron never let himself look upset even though Harry knew he normally was when it came to Harry.
"Tidus tried to make the 'beings' free me in return for leaving Tidus alone down here." Harry hung his head. "Tidus was willing to sacrifice his happiness so that I could die."
"They didn't accept it?" Ron asked though he already knew the answer.
"They asked me." Harry sighed. "I couldn't answer them. How could I make that decision, Ron? Die and be with Simon even though Tidus would be alone for eternity or stay with Tidus for eternity and leave Simon alone."
"Oh, Harry." Ron sighed. "The others will look after him for you."
"You too?" Harry asked looking up.
"Then you are to free me too?" Ron looked hopeful in spite of everything. Harry nodded. "And Hermione and Neville?" Harry nodded again. "What about you?"
"I'll have Tidus." Harry told him. "If he'll have me."
"Harry. He stood before the Great Aeon willing to give his life to stop you from having to destroy everything." Ron pointed out. "And I've seen him since. He spoke to no one for two weeks until Elizia disappeared and he hasn't spoken to anyone since then. He's helping in Luca right now."
"I'll free the others as soon as I can, Ron." Harry promised.
"Visit us from time to time, yeah?" Ron requested.
"As long as you look out for Simon." Harry wiped at his eyes as he stood. Ron followed him up and nodded. "It's been a long run, Ron. I'm glad I knew you but its time you rested. Say hello to all of your family for me, please? Especially your mum."
"Of course." Ron sighed with a happy smile. "I should be so sad to leave you Harry but I'll be able to talk to you now and again in the Farplane and I've so missed them all."
"Your mum, dad, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George and Ginny." Harry listed for Ron and saw Ron break apart at the idea of once more being with his family. Harry let the growing white light fall down on his friend's body and stepped back as Ron smiled lovingly at him before his body scattered into Pyreflies. "Goodbye, Ron."
Two days later – Bevelle
Harry had considered the different ways to travel south to get to Kilika and Besaid and come to a simple conclusion. The faster the better since it was Neville and Hermione's freedom that he had to consider. Travelling by land through the torn Mushroom Rock Road and Luca would take longer than going by boat and he should be able to get passage down to Luca easily enough with the number of ships plying back and forth in the wake of the devastation.
Bevelle was actually as busy as it ever had been before it had been attacked though the loss of the Temple was actually physically painful to Harry because it reminded him of someone else that he'd never see again except for the Farplane which was just another reason to avoid going by land right now. He didn't want the temptation. Because of the type of attack on the city most of the buildings were easily habitable so many of the refugees had flocked to the city and with the stores built up under the city it quickly became the centre for refugee care.
Hundreds of Ronso had travelled south to the city to aid in the rebuilding as had all of the Al'bhed previously scattered by the Guado attack and they were even working along with the Guado as if nothing had happened. Even dressed in his high collared armoured gilet, heavy black trousers and with his machina sword on his back he didn't really draw much attention within the busy crowds as he moved towards the temporary docks that the Al'bhed had constructed north-west of the city to house their ships.
He went unnoticed for about two hours before a little cry erupted from the crowd and a small boy darted through two Ronso and up to him. "Hello, Pacce." He greeted the little guardian who actually beamed at him.
"You're the...!" Pacce started but Harry clamped his hand over his mouth. So far people seemed to understand what he was if they recognised him. He'd rather the crowds didn't start gawking at him or even start a complete panic.
"Please don't shout that out, Pacce." Harry told him as he bent down onto one knee and released the boy who nodded before surprising Harry by throwing himself onto him in a hug. Harry rubbed his back but was rather surprised.
"Maroda and Isaaru say I should be grateful to you for everything you've done for Spira and that people shouldn't be afraid of you." Pacce told him. "And I like you!"
Harry smiled at the boy properly but his attention was drawn to the crowd when Maroda and then Isaaru broke through the crowd and stumbled to a halt. "Pacce!" Maroda cried. "What have I told you about running off?"
"Harry!?" Isaaru gasped as he recognised the man with his youngest brother. He gripped his head and slumped slightly.
Harry stood up but Pacce just clung to his waist. Harry bowed to Isaaru. "Hello, Summoner Isaaru and Guardian Maroda."
"Harry." Isaaru smiled and bowed low to him which drew stares from the crowd. "My Aeons greet you too."
"Tell them that I am on my way." He smiled and Isaaru's eyes widened in realisation. "It is passed their time to rest, Isaaru."
"I will miss them but I can feel their happiness at being freed from their state." Isaaru nodded. "I cannot begrudge them that. Dona agrees though we will both keenly feel their loss."
"What will you do now?" Harry asked.
"We're to travel south down the coast to lend aid in Luca. Yuna was there but she is to return home. There are so many heading south now." Isaaru told him. "I have heard from her through Ifrit and Valefor. She is concerned for Tidus, he is overworking himself in Luca and she wants to take him home so he can rest and recover."
"He gave up much when he faced..." Harry paused and glanced around but then just sighed. "When he faced my Aeon form he sacrificed much to stop it. For that I am sorry."
"So you really are a Fayth?" Pacce asked.
Harry swallowed and had to turn away from Pacce as his eyes strained not to cry. Pacce was simply too young to truly associate Harry with the hundreds of twisted and deformed bodies they'd have had to remove from Bevelle.
"He'll one day truly understand." Maroda told him sadly. "But hopefully not too soon and I doubt it will change his opinion of you. He speaks of you often since we met you in Djose Temple."
Harry smiled at them. "When do you travel south and how?"
"We were heading for the docks now." Isaaru told him. "Rikku is to travel with us."
"Sir Auron is still here?" Harry asked noticing he wasn't travelling with them. Isaaru didn't seem surprised.
"Yuna has agreed to Send him but he wishes to help for a while before that." Isaaru assured him.
"Let us go." Harry nodded and pushed Pacce towards Maroda. "I am sure Rikku will be thrilled to see that I am still alive." He winced at the wording but walked with the group down towards the docks and then along the floating jetties to one of the dozen Al'bhed ships tied up alongside.
He pushed at the end of the jetty when he spotted the short fiery girl who was yelling out orders to a half dozen Al'bhed who were busy loading up the ship. She huffed at something somebody yelled to her but Harry didn't really pay attention. This was the first of his recent friends that he'd seen since what had happened. Isaaru held onto Pacce as he walked out along the dock and stopped a few feet behind her.
"Rikku?" He asked and the girl froze up but didn't turn to look at him. "I'm not going to vanish if you turn around, Rikku." He forced a chuckle and she snapped around to look at him but still staggered back in shock. Her reaction getting the attention of most of the Al'bhed who looked at Harry and reached for weapons.
"Stop!" Rikku called in Al'bhed. "Get back to work!" She eyed Harry for a few seconds and Harry breathed out heavily before she sprung on him with a cry and hugged him. "You're really alive?"
"I can't die, Rikku." Harry sighed as she pulled away.
"Have you seen the others yet?" Rikku demanded. "Tidus?"
"No." Harry shook his head. "There's something I have to do first."
"What?" She demanded.
"I have to free the last two Fayth." Harry told her sadly. "Then I can go to Tidus."
"Sorry." She deflated and looked down. "I'm just worried. Yuna sent me a letter and she said she was worried about Tidus."
"I know." Harry nodded. "But they know I'm coming. The last of the Fayth told Yuna."
"Oh, Harry." She buried herself in his chest again. "I'm so sorry about..."
"No, Rikku." Harry hugged her back. "I don't want to talk about it. What's done is done."
"Yes it is." Rikku pulled back and looked down at her feet.
"Isaaru told me that you're taking him south to Luca." Harry prompted. "Can you take me too?"
"To see Tidus?" She questioned.
Harry shook his head. "In the right direction but I want to finish freeing my friends before I focus on fixing things with Tidus."
"Harry, you don't have anything to fix. If anything we and Tidus have..." Rikku gasped as Harry covered her mouth with a finger.
"Please, Rikku." Harry shook his head and pulled back his finger. "Tidus has paid a very heavy price for what he did. There is no longer any need to put blame on him. He will be paying for this for a long time. Do not add to his torment."
Rikku stared at him before going pale and staggering back. "You mean...?"
"I will not put it into words, Rikku." Harry snapped. "And neither shall you. To anyone, not even Yuna."
Rikku shed a tear but then smiled at him. She was smart enough to go straight to the pain that this would cause Tidus when his loved ones begun to die and all he had was Harry. Never being able to love again without causing pain to them and himself. "I'll take you to Luca but if it's Kilika you want to go to then I'll take you there afterwards."
"I don't need to go to Luca." Harry shook his head. "And people know what I am now and they know what I did to Luca. If I can help it I shouldn't show my face in that city for a long time yet."
"You didn't..." Harry shook her head to cut her off.
"I might not have had a choice, Rikku." Harry said as he spotted Isaaru and Maroda walking up to them. Pacce dashed up onto the ship gleefully and Harry continued when Isaaru and Maroda were paying attention. "Just like before I might not have had any choice but I was still the one that killed all of those people and I'm still the one that nearly sunk the Mi'ihen Peninsula into the ocean. Luca won't benefit from me being there. I'll travel with you but I'll remain on the ship while you're in Luca. It would be best if you don't tell anyone I am there."
Isaaru and Maroda nodded to agree to do what he said and headed onto the ship after their little brother. Rikku hugged him again and pulled him up onto the ship to get him settled in.
Nine days later
Harry stood beside Rikku on the bridge of her ship as it touched gently against one of the wooden docks of Kilika which no longer showed any signs of what Sin had done to it so many months ago. "Thank you, Rikku." Harry told her.
"We'll be here overnight." Rikku reminded him. "Do what you've got to do. I'll wait for you tomorrow and we'll head down to Besaid. I've got supplies to drop off here and down in Besaid."
Harry nodded and slipped down the ladder and out onto the deck and from there through the crowds and towards the forests. He purposely left it till night time before heading into the Temple because of the sheer mass of refugees that were praying in the Temple during the day and sleeping there at night. So much had been destroyed down the coasts of the main continent that the few untouched towns had become havens. Unfortunately Luca couldn't help people at the moment and so they were having to send people to Kilika. Few went on to Besaid which was why he expected Yuna to have taken Tidus there.
The trials opened out for him and warm fires lit his passage through the tunnels and the Cloister opened for him without prompting. Neville was standing on the Crystal. "Harry."
"Neville." Harry smiled at him.
"Hermione and I have been talking and..."
"Shut up, Neville." Harry actually laughed with a proper smile on his face. "Don't you think I know you two?"
"I don't..." Neville started but Harry just rolled his eyes.
"You didn't suggest it to Ron because you knew how much he loved and missed his family and didn't want to put the idea in his head." Harry rolled his eyes and walked up onto the crystal to stand right in front of his friend. "I know what you want to suggest but I could never ask that of you, Neville. The same applies to Hermione. It's sweet to offer to stay for my benefit but it's not right for me to let you."
Neville sighed and looked up at the ceiling but Harry knew he wouldn't try to hide his tears for long and neither did Harry. Neville looked back down. "We would have, you know?"
"I know, Nev." Harry smiled. "And that's why I love you. You've been a good friend and brother all of these years and I will miss having you around but you have people waiting for you."
"Like Elizia told you, we'll all look after him for you." Neville promised referring to Simon. "And will you tell Tidus from us that we are truly grateful to him for giving you back your smile and for what he tried to do to help you. We cannot tell him now through Yuna."
"Are you happy to go now, Nev?" Harry asked as he raised his hand and that white light grew in his palm again.
"I am looking forward to seeing a few people." Neville choked on his words. "Goodbye, Harry. Brother. I love you too and I'll never stop watching over you and Tidus."
Harry smiled and let the light fall from his hand. "Rest free, Nev." He whispered as he stepped back and watched Neville's body fade into pyreflies. He sat down against the wall and wrapped his arms around his legs and let himself cry as he pressed his head down on his knees until he finally forced himself up and back down to the port.
He slipped onto the ship in the middle of the night and found his cabin and simply curled up in his bed as he tried to sleep only to fail and shiver through the night. Wishing that he wasn't the one to have to see the happy faces of his friends. Part of him had decided this was just another part of his punishment but the rest of him knew that in time he'd be grateful that he'd had the chance to be the one to free them all. He just wished he'd had a chance to say goodbye to Christopher in person before the Great Aeon had freed him.
The next day
Harry woke late while the ship was sailing and figured that Rikku had checked on him in the morning and seeing he was there realised that he was finished in Kilika. Of course he expected her to have heard about what he'd done from the Temple Priest when it became known that Ifrit had gone. She'd clearly seen his state and left him be.
He dressed but didn't bother zipping up his jacket or putting on his sword and then ventured up onto the bow of the ship. He leant against the prow, feeling the spray hit his face, chest and arms and just stared down into the water as it slipped under the prow. Rikku settled next to him against the railing. "Harry? Are you okay?"
"It's just painful to let them go." Harry sighed truthfully. "It's been so long and I've shared this pain with them for centuries. Part of me hurts because they are finally free and I'm not but the rest of me is happy for them. And I'm glad to be the one that can make them so happy. To see them smile properly again after so long. It's just..."
"I think I understand." Rikku place a hand on his back. "My pop once spoke of the pain that he saw in your eyes. He said that he thought that what kept you going was a task to accomplish. He said you seemed happier during the quest to assemble the Al'bhed then when he first met you."
"I can be happy with Tidus." Harry sighed and looked down at the water. "The thought of being able to spend so much time with him really makes me happy but with that comes the loss. What he has sacrificed and what Simon looses."
Rikku didn't know what to say to that but she didn't back away and merely stood with him as the sun settled towards the western horizon and the small island of Besaid got closer and closer. Eventually she straightened up.
"We'll dock within the hour." She declared. "We won't set off for the village till the morning."
"I'll head up to the Temple straight away. I want to slip through and do what I need to do and then I want to find Tidus." Harry looked at Rikku and she slipped closer and hugged him gently. "I just hope he's happy to see me."
"If I know Tidus then he will be." Rikku assured him.
Harry slipped into the Chamber of the Fayth and sat down in front of Valefor. "Are you going to try to convince me that you're happy staying?" Harry asked her.
Hermione smiled at him. "I know you better than that." She told him.
"Then why suggest it?" He asked.
"Because Neville thought we should. I told him that you wouldn't accept that but the offer had to be made. If anything because you deserved to have the choice." She smiled. "You know what I'm going to miss about you, Harry?"
"What?" Harry frowned.
"Your ability to overcome everything that gets thrown at you." She told him. "You are truly one of a kind, Harry, and our lives really have been better for knowing you."
"Yes well, they'll be even better once you're freed." Harry announced not knowing what to say to her. Hermione laughed. "God, I'm going to miss you."
"Oh, Harry." She sobbed. "I'm going to miss you too but I won't really be gone. None of us are. We're all bound together by our love for you. All of us. We're a family and Simon is a part of that family. We'll all be together and we'll be watching out for you and Tidus."
"You've always been so good to me, Hermione." Harry smiled.
"You've always been so good to everyone, Harry." She countered before standing as Harry did. She reached out a hand and laid it unfeelingly against his cheek. "You've been my brother for longer than I can remember, Harry, and I'll always love you for it."
"You've always been the sister I never had and I love you too, Hermione." He smiled as tears slipped down his face once more. This was so difficult for him. The last of his friends. His hand wouldn't turn over to release the light and he sobbed in pain.
"It's okay, Harry." Hermione whispered. "We'll never truly be gone from your life. We'll all be in your heart. Always there for you."
"Goodbye, Hermione." He whispered and released the light and stepped away as the crystal shattered and her body vanished into pyreflies. The last of Spira's Aeons. The first to be made and the last to go. Harry fell to his knees by the broken crystal and sobbed uncontrollably for more than an hour.
When he finally made it outside he stumbled almost drunkenly down the steps to find Yuna and the Temple Priest Tornah standing together. Yuna was crying freely and Tornah stared at him with unrestrained sorrow in his eyes. Yuna and he had clearly been talking. Harry couldn't take it and fell to his knees and Yuna ran across the stone floor to reach him and he fell into her arms as sobs wracked his frame.
Yuna said nothing to him and he didn't say a word in return and finally he drew himself up and looked towards the door. "Tidus is using your house." Yuna told him with a bowed head knowing that Harry hadn't even considered forgiving her yet. Harry respected that in her and he headed out into the night knowing that Yuna and Tornah would give him the peace he needed right now. He walked through the newly beaten track out of the village and into the trees and found his little stone cottage and paused outside of the door for almost ten minutes before looking up at the stars.
"Please..." Harry whispered yet he didn't really know what he was asking for. He closed the remained gap with a little more confidence and opened the wooden door and walked into the one room house. A single light sat on the table, a sphere light from ancient Zanarkand that Tidus had clearly remembered how to use. It gave off enough light on its current setting to show him the inside of the room with the bed against the right hand wall and the body lying with the covers around his waist. He slipped off his sword and placed it on the table before moving to the edge of the bed. Tidus was sleeping seemingly peacefully but the covers had twisted enough to show that achieving sleep had been difficult for him.
Harry crossed the room and sat on the side of the bed, just next to Tidus' waist and reached out a hand to touch Tidus' hand that was settled on his stomach. Tidus reacted instantly, sitting up with a gasp. Harry moved back a little as Tidus took in everything before staring at Harry.
"You're real?" Tidus asked with a shake to his voice that suggested that if Harry proved to be a figment of his imagination he'd lose his mind right then and there.
"I'm real, Tidus." Harry whispered back and put his hand on Tidus' chest.
"Oh god..." Tidus choked and clung to Harry. "I..." Tidus sobbed and Harry turned and clung to Tidus just as tightly. "Harry, I..." Tidus clearly couldn't express himself.
"Tidus." Harry sighed and pressed his head onto Tidus' bare shoulder. "I know everything. I could hear them talking to you."
"Harry." Tidus sobbed and started shaking. "I'm so sorry. Please don't leave me!"
"Shh..." Harry tried to sooth him but he knew his own body was shaking just as much.
"I can't do this without you!" Tidus begged as he cried and trembled. Harry shifted and pulled off his clothing as quick as he could knowing that nothing but Harry being there with him in the bed would convince Tidus of anything. He pulled Tidus down into the bed and pulled the young man right up on top of him and wrapped his arms around his sobbing form as tears soaked his bare chest. "Please..."
"Tidus..." Harry sighed.
"Please don't go." Tidus cried. "I love you. Please still love me."
Harry reached up and pulled Tidus' head up to look at him but when Tidus didn't let him he rolled them over and pinned Tidus' head to look up at him and waited for Tidus to open his eyes. Tears spread down the side of his head as his chest shook. Harry stroked the sides of his face. "Tidus, look at me." Tidus did but just shuddered and cried. "I'm not going to leave you. Not now, not in a year's time, not in ten, a hundred, a thousand or even a million. I love you, Tidus."
"I did that to you." Tidus gasped out.
"Not now, Tidus." Harry told him simply. "This isn't the time to talk about that. We will but only when you know that I'm not going to leave you for anything. Now rest and know that when you wake up I'll be right here with you. I swear it Tidus."
"Please, Harry." Tidus begged. "Kiss me."
Harry nodded and leaned down and pressed a tender and loving kiss to Tidus' trembling lips and let go of his face so that he could run a hand up and down Tidus' side and across his chest to try to calm him down. Tidus shuddered as Harry pulled back and Harry kissed his forehead before rolling them around again so that Tidus could curl up on him. Tidus pressed his face into Harry's neck and breathed in deeply, reassuring himself. Harry wrapped him up in his arms and pulled the blanket up over them both.
"I love you, Tidus. Never forget that."
"I love you too." Tidus whispered into his neck and then fell into an exhausted sleep, finally giving up on the real world and happy to have Harry's reassuring body against his own. Feeling safe in this new existence he was facing. Harry understood perfectly and followed him quickly into an exhausted sleep.
The next morning
Harry was jolted awake when Tidus yelped and sat up. Harry rolled over as he came alert and noticed two things wrong with this scene. Or rather two people that weren't supposed to be there. He sat up as his hand reached out and magic welled through the room before crumbling as he took in the faces of the two people sitting around the bottom of the bed.
Christopher was sitting on the bed itself while Simon was sitting in a chair just under the window. Both were wearing what Harry best remembered them in. Simon in his travelling gear although it looked brand new and Christopher in his dark jeans and red t-shirt that he'd worn most before he'd become a summoner. His favourite red hoodie, a gift from Harry, was folded over his arms in his lap. Then Harry noticed that they were completely solid. In fact Harry could register the depression in the bed where Christopher was sitting.
Harry gaped before his mouth shut with a click. He couldn't think of anything to say in this situation. "Simon?" Tidus croaked out in confusion. The poor boy was already strained from last night and would have probably been under enough stress with Harry waking up next to him even without two dead people sitting around the bed. "Christopher?"
"Who else?" Christopher asked sarcastically.
"Whelp!" Harry and Simon but reprimanded naturally at the same time before staring at each other as Christopher giggled. Harry had always called Christopher that when he was playing up as a kid and he'd used the phrase enough around Simon that he used it naturally too. "What are you doing here?" Harry asked as the pain caught up to him and his eyes teared up. Simon obviously saw it since he cross the gap and sat next to Christopher, just by Harry's feet.
He reached out and held his hand just over Harry's leg before seeming to steal himself to something and then dropped his hand down the last gap. Harry gasped as he felt the weight of Simon's hand through the blanket and onto his leg and his body shook. Christopher just grinned and launched himself across the bed and into Harry who automatically caught him. Christopher laughed and hugged him tightly and Harry shivered and held him back just as tightly.
"Simon?" Tidus gasped looking around in shock. "What's happening?"
"After Hermione was freed the 'beings' brought all of us together in the Far Plane. All of the people that Harry has thought of as family over the years and all of the Fayth he has known over the two millennia." Simon rubbed his arm over his face to wipe away tears that were threatening to fall. "Even before they spoke to you they had made the decision to place you with Harry but truly Harry's punishment is over. They will make him remain on Earth but not alone."
"Me?" Tidus asked already knowing that part.
"And me." Simon breathed out and Harry and Tidus stared at him in shock. "I share the same fate as the two of you now. A gift rather than a punishment in my eyes. Harry was always my only family. There is no place I'd rather be."
"And Christopher?" Harry asked trying to comprehend that which he'd never dreamed possible was actually happening.
"They gave all of the Fayth a choice." Christopher looked up at him. "They all decided that they had reason enough to stay dead. You're the only reason I have. I asked to come down so we could be a family again." Christopher suddenly looked down at his lap, looking like a ten year old for the first time to Tidus. Looking nothing like the Fayth of Bahamut when sitting in the Immortal Fayth's lap. "If you want me."
"Oh, Christopher." Harry gasped and hugged the boy to him tightly. "You'll always be a son to me."
"Even when you're over a thousand?" Simon smirked before looking at Tidus. "We're the children here."
Christopher stuck his tongue out at Simon rather childishly. "Christopher will always be that little boy I drifted through the ocean with." Harry smiled at him and then kissed him on the forehead.
"Does this mean we have to babysit him?" Tidus asked cheekily yet his delirious happiness was evident in his sparkling eyes. Harry turned to him with bright emerald eyes the like that none of them had ever seen before. Gone was any of the pain that had always lingered there. Christopher laughed and moved to hug Tidus and sit in his lap, ignoring the inverted age difference and Simon sat down next to Harry and the two embraced like they hadn't in hundreds of years.
The group settled down to talk and elate over the new world that they now faced and decided that the villagers and Harry and Tidus' friends could wait till that evening for any form of explanation.
Epilogue – 500 years later
The Island of Besaid rustled in the gentle sea breeze that rippled around the mountains of the small island that had always been set apart from the new cities that had cropped up over the last few centuries since the defeat of Sin and the Everlasting Peace. Everyone knew that it was where the Immortal Ones lived and although the village had always prospered by the Old Temple people left them alone for the most part. They travelled the world and were met firstly by revered silence but then their deeds became known only as tales told from parents to children and read in history books and they were able to pass anonymously amongst most crowds as their faces were forgotten.
Harry stood leaning on the railing of their large balcony that ringed their house built into the top end of one of the secluded coves of Besaid Island. A pleasant beach filled the side of the cove but the house hung twenty metres above the water at the top end of the cove looking out over the sides of the cove and out into the eastern ocean. Occasionally ships passed as they ran around the island but few ever came into the cove because everyone knew that the house belonged to the Immortal Ones. A nice fifty metre sailing yacht sat alongside a jetty off of the beach and they used it on occasion to travel the world or meet with friends.
Hands ran up his back and a bare chest settled against his bare back and Harry easily recognised Simon's body against his own and sighed in satisfaction. He'd never tire of his two husbands and knew that they'd never tire of him or each other. "Where's Tidus?" Harry asked quietly as Simon's head rested on his shoulder.
"Tidus is here." Tidus' amused voice sounded as he slipped up next to him and leaned his back on the railing. Harry shifted and leaned into Tidus' front and Simon followed him. Tidus had shifted slightly over the years to a body of an actual adult but he still looked slightly younger than the two twenty-five year old looking men but his body was more naturally permanent this way and not that of a growing seventeen year old like he had been when he'd faced off with the Great Aeon.
"Chris is on his way." Simon told him. Chris had outgrown the use of his full name centuries ago. "His boat arrived this morning. He has a girl to introduce to us."
Harry smiled. "Does this girl know who we are?"
"Ah, no..." Simon laughed. "Chris' letter said that he hadn't told her who he is or who we are."
"That should be interesting." Harry mused. Because their faces weren't known throughout the world anymore Chris had been able to make friends. He was no longer the ten year old boy newly released after a thousand years as a Fayth but a young man of about Tidus' physical appearance and he'd gone through a very late rebellious phase where he'd caused unbelievable chaos that Harry had loved dealing with but no matter what Chris did and where he went or who he went with he was always tied to the three here and he always had a place here with them. Simon, Harry and Tidus might be an item but the four of them were a family.
Chris was the only one among them that didn't have someone to spend eternity with but so far he'd never met anyone that he couldn't live without and he'd told them that one day if he did then he'd make them part of their family for as long as he could and the three of them had agreed to that easily enough. They'd be there for him to try to make it work and they'd be there for him if it did work out and afterwards when Chris had to suffer with the loss.
They stood together for a while as the sun warmed them and they listened to the sounds of each others' bodies in satisfaction until Tidus whispered out the words that Harry was so used to hearing. "You happy, Harry?"
"As happy as you and Simon." Harry smiled up at Tidus as Simon kissed his neck. Tidus beamed at him knowing himself just how happy Harry was by the way that he touched Tidus and Simon and the way his eyes lit up whenever he was with any member of his Immortal Family.