Pairing: (one-sided) Risa x Dark

Summary: They say that the more things change, the more they don't. Risa realizes this firsthand.

Author's Notes: It's really been years since I last watched D.N.Angel and wrote a fic on it (I'm not even sure if it's still up), but I was really bothered by the abundance of Risa-bashing fics when I revisited the fandom. I mean, by the end of the series, she grows into a mature woman, so I don't see the need to hate her so much. Yeah, she was an idiot at the beginning. Dark was also a womanizing SoB at the beginning. So anyways, my point is that I probably have some of the facts wrong, so forgive me, because it's been forever.

Also, the title is totally not inspired by Star Ocean III. It's totally a coincidence.

The End of Time

It was the last day of February, the last month of winter, the last year of high school. I had decided to chance the chill of winter to seek some excitement, rather than stay at home, wondering how in the world I was going to fit those wardrobes of clothes into that studio apartment I rented near my college.

Riku and Daisuke were out on a date together, and Daisuke, whose almost childishly kind nature hadn't changed over the years (as so many other things did), asked if I'd like to come along. I laughed, as usual, and told them to go out and have fun without a third wheel.

It was already well into the afternoon when I set out; much of my morning had been spent sleeping in and then staying under the covers because I was absolutely convinced that I would freeze to death in the three seconds it would take to throw on a sweater (and perhaps a tundra jacket or two). At noon, when I finally deemed it safe to hazard the dangerous depths of my room, I found that it was actually quite warm for a February day, and the sun was brilliantly filtering in through the sunroof.

I went out, clad in a white jacket and light purple scarf, and made up my mind to take a stroll around the town, and then come home to hug my radiator (because hugging the fireplace would prove too dangerous) and scream at my sister for not warning me about winter's wrath.

But even with a sting on my face, winter's scenes were magnificent. There was something so enthrallingly picturesque and melancholic about a simple street piled in snow.

Some things are, however, too pretty for their own good. Seeing the lamp post marked path to the town square, perfectly and evenly blanketed with snow, I could barely bring myself to take a step and ruin the picture. I managed somehow, and found a raven pecking at the snow – someone probably threw bread crumbs there – and I stood there staring at it, almost as if the contrast of color made me forget that I had seen ravens before. Its head jerked up to stare at me, but it quickly went back to its feast. I walked closer to it in a dreamy manner. With a squawk and a rapid flapping of its wings, it flew off, but left a feather that drifted down in its wake. It came towards me and—I think I was trembling—I reached out a hand to catch it. A gust of wind came blowing it away from me, but onto a patch of snow. I trotted over to pick it up, before another wind would come and blow it off into the sea. I bent down to get it, but paused for a moment to stare at it. It looked like a miserable, pitiful little thing, a dot of a black feather in a sea of white. But it was beautiful. Beautiful in its tragedy, beautiful for its tragedy.

I quickly stuffed it into my handbag, and headed back home. I was starting to miss the radiator terribly.

Once home, and comfortably in a sofa near the heater, with a cup of chocolate in hand, I took the feather back out. It was slightly rumpled and looked less dignified, but it was still a pretty sight. I simply held it up at eye level, twirled it around by the stem, and stared.

My God, I loved him. It might not have been for the best, or even the right, reasons, but he was the world to me. And sometimes, I wonder if he still is. I think that, if he were to appear before me right now, if he were to ask, I would still follow him to the ends of the earth and back. Because I usually don't stroke every feather I find this softly and with such tender care.

It was shallow, it was superficial. I freely admit it now. But it was love all the same. I did love him, as surely as Juliet loved Romeo. I'd do anything for him. I climbed rooftops, I got kidnapped by Krad. Or at the very least, I loved him enough to let him go in the end, didn't I?

But I did let him go. And he's gone now, and isn't coming back, least of all for me.

I think, even now, I'm somehow expecting him to come back. Excepting him to come sweeping in through the window telling me he loves me. He doesn't love me. I know he doesn't. But I wish it anyways. Because I love him to this day, just as fervently as when I first laid eyes on him. But the present is the present, and he isn't coming back for a fact, no matter how hard I wish. I know that.

And besides. Did I love, do I love him? Him? If I ever knew who he was, I don't any more. I remember a hero, I remember a charmer, I remember a man that made me melt. But do I remember Dark?

So yes, I loved him, but not him. I love an ideal of a man that I created, with the face and story of a phantom thief, and every man I meet afterwards will be measured up against and lose to him. The funny thing? If Dark were to come back, with another face and another name, not even he would compare to the god I've created. As the first person to catch my fancy, I gave to him every quality that would catch my eye.

Isn't it a bit sad and pathetic? To love a memory, to love a false memory that straddles the line between reality and fantasy.

But who and why are inconsequential. Because regardless, I love; I love from the bottom of my heart. Whoever, whatever it is that I love, for whichever reason.

I give the feather one last twirl, and softly bring it to my almost trembling lips. My eyes are starting to water, but I refuse to let any tears fall. I release the stem and watch the feather float out the window and off to the sea, now sparkling with the last rays of the sinking sun.

I dream nonetheless, and will continue to do so until the end of time.