So, this is the end of this journey. It took a lot longer than intended due to many technical issues, but alas, it has come.

Thanks to WolfSinKyros, Elocinaqui, and my friend Reicchan for all being beta readers/listeners at some point during the writing process. Without your input and encouragement, I probably wouldn't have finished this one.

Thanks to all my readers, those who have been with me from day one and those that are brand-new. You have no idea how your loyalty and reviews and praise means to me. I'm really not all that great. :) But thanks for making me feel like I am, and thank you for making this my new number-one fic. More reviews and hits than Never Mine! I'm speechless.

I don't know how long it will be until I post another Monochrome Factor fic after this one. I have several in process, but none anywhere near completion. If you want to keep up with me, you're free to look at my stuff on deviantArt or follow my translation/Monochrome Factor blog, where I will post thoughts and other such things on a semi-regular basis. I am a regular on messenger, so if you'd like to add me on MSN I'm open to that as well. I do want to keep up with you!

Thank you again, and I hope to see you all back when I do complete another fic.


Epilogue

It was December, and the wind and snow were howling outside the cathedral. Those inside, though shivering slightly with the cold, didn't mind it. They didn't even mind that they were there for a memorial service, or that a solemn sense of sadness permeated the air. They were too entranced with the voice of the young priest who was leading the ceremony. His auburn hair shone softly in the light of the candles, grey eyes flickering like silver. There was something about him that commanded absolute respect… there was a royal aspect to his being.

Akira closed his eyes and let out a sigh as the ceremony ended; as the masses flowed out of the cathedral, he tiredly rested his hand on the altar.

"Good job, Akira," came Shisui's voice – the boy opened his eyes to look up at the bishop, who was smiling softly. "You did very well."

"I suppose it's all I can do." Akira turned his head slightly. "To repay the one that saved my life."

"He wouldn't care about you repaying him, but he would care that you did this so carefully, so heartfelt."

Akira raised his head as someone else stepped into the sanctuary. He pulled his black cloak back, allowing his long silver hair to shine and glisten in the candlelight.

"Well done, Akira."

A weak smile. "Thanks, Shirogane."

There was a long silence between the three of them. Then, Shisui spoke.

"You're still going then, Akira?"

"Yes, I'm still going."

A bit of a sigh. "All right."

"I'm sorry, Shisui."

"No, that's not it. Just that I'll miss you, is all." That kind, gentle smile stretched out across Shisui's mouth again. "Just remember to come back. You're still next in line, no matter what."

A trembling smile made its way onto Akira's mouth. "You'll get in trouble."

"After all the trouble I've gotten into because of you, what's a bit more?" Shisui reached out and ruffled Akira's hair. "There is no one but you that's fit to take over after me. Your name has been recorded, and it's not being taken off. So please, make sure you come back. All right?"

He nodded. Shisui drew Akira into a tight, warm hug – Akira bit back tears, returning the embrace. They remained in it for a long time before the bishop pulled back and said softly, "Go, Akira, and be free. Go, and be happy."

Akira threw his arms around Shisui again for a few moments before slowly he backed away, retreating out of the sanctuary. He lifted his eyes to the tops of the lance windows one last time before he turned and left, trailing Shirogane from the cathedral.

The storm had calmed down, clouds parting way for the night lit only by stars. For awhile, the two walked in silence. Then, Shirogane said quietly, "I'm sorry."

"I made the choice. I'm the only one that can feel sorry… and I'll miss Shisui, but I won't regret it."

They stopped on a high hill, just outside of the cathedral grounds. Akira was looking around interestedly, having never been outside the church grounds, but a gentle, cold fingertip under his chin guided his gaze back to Shirogane's blue eyes.

"I love you, Akira."

"I love you, Shirogane."

A smile, then a soft kiss. Akira closed his eyes as Shirogane tilted his head back and pressed cold lips to his throat.

"You'll be with me forever, Akira."

"That's all I want."

A bit of a pause, and then he felt the pricks setting in his throat. He took a deep breath to steady himself, wrapping his arms around Shirogane's neck – there was a stillness to the air, and then the spears plunged in, piercing completely through. Akira stifled the scream of pain, the lance of fear that tore at him, and then was fine. His fingers knotted in Shirogane's hair. He could feel the poison flowing into him, deeper and deeper, and suddenly Shirogane released him. Weakened, and suddenly losing his support, Akira's knees buckled, but Shirogane caught him and swept him up, holding him close.

A gentle hand brushed his bangs away from his sweaty face. The light in those blue eyes was one Akira would never want anyone else to see. It was his... it was for him alone.

"Happy birthday, Akira."

He couldn't help but manage a smile before he slipped into sleep. Shirogane stood, hugging the boy's body close, before he raised his eyes to the clear black sky.

Akira's life had begun under a dark moon. Now it would end, and begin again.