"Love doesn't make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile." -Elizabeth Browning-
"The world is round, and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning." -Ivy Baker-
And the final chapter for 'To Win You Back' is here, the epilogue. We are all finally at the proper end of this fic after almost a year, several hiatus periods, difficult writing, and an almost-giving up phase. The epilogue's pretty short but I hope you enjoy regardless.
I thank you all for staying with me to the end, those of you who are reading this at this second. Thank you so much! And of course, I truly appreciate all of you who have supported me throughout this one year in writing TWYB, and those who have reviewed this fic with much enthusiasm. :D (and Uncoloured, thank you so much for the back-to-back, they gave me so much spirit and thanks for coming back to review!) I love you all and thank you. 200 story favourites and 1200+ reviews... and coming for a relatively lesser-known Bleach pairing, I am very happy and thankful for all the support! When I first started writing this fic out, I would never have imagined it to be like this and I thank you all for making it so.
I hope you enjoy the epilogue. :)
The fast footsteps swept across the smooth wood as the tall figure strode through the hallway, the much shorter and bent figure following behind.
"Where did she go, Kazumasa?"
"To the real world."
Byakuya suppressed an exasperated sigh. The real world?
After getting married, she's still the same…
And yet, a lot of things were never the same. Byakuya never had nightmares ever since the third day of his marriage thirty years ago. All he had to do whenever he got restless at night was to tighten his arms around the small angel sleeping next to him and feel her snuggle closer to him before drifting off to a wonderful sleep.
A lot of things were never the same. The Kuchiki mansion was never as lively as it was in these decades. Rukia ran about the mansion all the time, despite being reprimanded by Byakuya (who in reality did not mind the noise but rather did not want her tripping and hurting herself). The day Rukia became a seated office in her Thirteenth division (also secretly due to Byakuya's permission), her footsteps thundered all the way down the Kuchiki hallway to the study. The attendants peeked into the room in time to see their Lady excitedly tackle her husband as he looked up from his reports, sending both of them tumbling to the floor. And as the servants hurriedly smothered their laughter at the royal couple, Byakuya looked up and coldly dismissed them before secretly planting a quick kiss on his wife's nose.
Whenever an upcoming, promising festival in Soul Society loomed close, Rukia would spend the next three days wheedling a wary Byakuya into joining her for the occasion. The halfheartedness would then successfully give way to a wondrous evening amongst the noise and lights of Soul Society, often culminating in husband and wife sitting in each other's arms at the hilltops to watch the sunset over Seireitei, the purchased snacks and rabbit-themed accessories lying forgotten next to them.
In turn, Rukia could not escape Byakuya on the days he decided to teach her the refined arts of nobility, such as calligraphy and tea-making. Rukia had learned fast to detect that look in Byakuya's eyes (the 'Sensei' look, she called it) and hurriedly Flash off on the spot when she saw him coming towards her. The thing was, she had never managed to outrun her husband once all these years. She would feel his arms around her mid-step before she found herself standing in his study or the tearoom. However, she had developed a few tricks up her sleeves. Rukia would mischievously rub close against him during these sessions when he came close to teach her, causing Byakuya to forget whatever he wanted to say. On most occasions however, Byakuya often looked up from his current work progress to find his wife asleep over the paper she was supposed to be working on, a splotch of ink on her cheek. He would then chuckle silently and carry Rukia gently off to bed, watching over her as she slept.
But she was the same. She was forever the same. Byakuya still thought her as the most beautiful apparition he had ever laid eyes on in his life, still felt that unbearable pride and love in his heart that she was his wife. The blush in her cheeks remained as rosy as ever, felt as warm as they had always felt under his fingertips. Her skin was heaven to touch, no matter how many times over that he had touched her. And her lips... those softness and silkiness never failed at making Byakuya lose his breath, or his heart skip a beat. He still wanted her so much, still felt himself tremble with unbearable need and desire during those passionate moments in the bedroom as she lay so enticingly underneath him. Each kiss, each touch, each moment of possession was the same and yet a new gift to explore everyday... and forever for the rest of their lives.
Now, Byakuya stared at Kazumasa, not letting his disbelief show. Rukia went down to the real world?
"Oh, I forgot!" Kazumasa's eyes widened slightly. "She gave me a message to pass to you, my Lord."
Byakuya watched as the old attendant produced a folded piece of papyrus from his sleeves. The young master swiftly retrieved the paper before unfolding it.
'Byakuya, don't be mad! It was on the spur of the moment, Captain General requested someone from our squad to go to the real world. Don't worry, I will be back after three months.
You know I love you.
Below the words was a hasty drawing of a Chappy bunny embracing the Seaweed Ambassador. Byakuya did not know when she did but Rukia had successfully mastered drawing the Ambassador.
Byakuya started to put it down. He wasn't worried, he-
He jerked the paper up to his face and read it again.
Rukia was going to be gone a whole three months?
This was going too far.
She was still so unbecoming of a wife. What sort of wife left her husband alone for three months, and did it on a piece of paper?
Byakuya let out an exasperated sigh.
Three months without holding her in his arms by the window, hearing her giggle occasionally as he pressed his lips to her hair. Three months without having her run around the garden noisily while he berated her actions (she even had the guts to sometimes pick sakura petals from the ground and throw it over him while mischievously saying "Bankai!"). Three months without tasting her sweet, soft lips. Three months without seeing her look up at him from tangled sheets, her eyes glazed and passionately calling out his name.
One month would already have been torture, three months would kill him.
He was going to have to tie her up and drag her back.
Byakuya put the paper down as a sudden thought struck him. He turned to Kazumasa. "Have my travel robes ready in the main hall, Kazumasa."
"Yes, my Lord."
Byakuya walked to his study. Without stopping by his table, he went straight to the cupboard he kept his personal records in, and slid the door open. Byakuya moved three record files to the side, before retrieving a beautiful carved wooden box at the bottom of the cupboard. He opened the wooden cover lined with black and gold.
It has been so long…
Slowly, Byakuya lifted the long piece of cloth from the box. His modern black necktie from the real world.
… and I still have to do this.
Slowly, Byakuya's mouth curved in an anticipating smile.
To win you back.
And there you have it! :D Lol, the wife running away from the husband again, in the same way it all started before they fell in love. *smiles* I added in sweet scenarios from their thirty years of marriage to make it fluffier so hope you like that as well. I can totally imagine Rukia dragging Byakuya off to festivals (and then enjoying quality time together later) and Byakuya lecturing Rukia off to sleep on the finer aspects of calligraphy. Lol XD And now, Byakuya just can't wait to 'win' Rukia back... again. ;)
It's been a year since this fic started, and now we have all come to the end of it. :) Here is the super-long AN on everything I have to say.
I wrote TWYB out for three reasons. One, because I wanted to explore ByaRuki really in-depth, to the extent that nobody has ever explored before. Thus, I plotted out three peaks, each with an individual value which would correlate to ByaRuki. First peak is the one where Byakuya and Rukia finally make love together… and that is when both of them acknowledge the love they have for each other, which is built upon gradually by all the previous, sweet chapters.
Now the second peak is the Arrancar arc (my own arc, lol). This, here, I wanted to explore both parties' uncertainties and fears which would somehow hack into their love. If ByaRuki ever came to live, this is what I imagine the conflicts would be. Byakuya, who had once lost his wife, will feel the guilt when he falls in love with Rukia. And as he had once lost Hisana, he would be ever afraid of losing the one girl who stole his heart. As for Rukia, she would fear losing him as well, cope with the guilt, and also wonder if his feelings to her are genuine (given that Hisana looks exactly like her). And I also believe if they were to overcome this, their love would transcend all, which I have made it to be in my fic.
And the third peak (this one was fun to write) is the clash between love and the rules, which is a conflict unique to Byakuya. I wanted him to save Rukia without external prompt, because she is now the most important person to him, and the rules… well, be gone with them. Lol.
The second reason I wrote TWYB… is to inspire. I want to make readers smile, squeal, cry, be happy, angry throughout the TWYB plot as they read. I want you to read and at the end of it, say 'I think this pairing can really be beautiful if it came to pass' or 'Wow, that was a real rollercoaster'. And of course, I want to make the readers fall in love with this pairing and inspire potential fanworks in regards to this couple. I chanced upon a ByaRuki fic earlier last year, a day before I wrote the first chapter of Teach me How to Love, and I was inspired. And so I would like to pay it forward, to as many people as I can. I feel this pairing is beautiful, I think I can make it beautiful and so I want to share what I think and feel with you. It was with this thought that I started on TWYB. At the end now, I think I have given this fandom what I can as a fanfic author and I'm satisfied.
The third reason… is because I wanted to emulate some FF authors, who inspired me on ByaRuki. These two are wynn and katzemadchenchan. It is by reading their fics that the ByaRuki first came to life in me, and I told myself I was going to be like them, be one of the authors that jump into your mind when someone says 'ByaRuki', and make them notice me. I don't know how successful I am now (or if they have indeed noticed me) but I hope I did stamp my mark. And the day katzemadchenchan reviewed eighteen chapters of TWYB was a real happy day for me, lol. I thank both of you for kicking off the ByaRuki spirit in me.
I'm going to start my med clinical years in August and it will be real hell for me then. I don't know if I will ever get to write ByaRuki anymore (there's Demons and the TWYB sequel) but we will see. Things will turn out as they do. But as of now, I will cease to write fanfics... and I apologize to readers of Demons. I love Demons very much and I think you all will enjoy the potential chapters but I get tied down when writing fanfics (it's due to my personality). Everything has to be perfect and I fall under an obligation when I write out a fanfic. As my future schedule won't allow me to, I'm stopping it right here. We'll see how long it will hold.
It is hard work to get chapters out one by one, something that can only be done with much leisure and I don't think I have that with me anymore come next week. This is the major driving factor in me finishing TWYB because as a reader, I get very disappointed when there's a story I like that I've been reading and I see the author hasn't updated in months. So as an author, I decided I would finish one of my current fics, and I chose the long-running one (also because there is a VERY long way to Demons, there is so much I can write with it). With the ending of this fic, I hope to have fulfilled at least some role of a proper author and I hope you understand, and we definitely will meet again sometime. :)
There's some of you who have become correspondents of mine and so many of you whose usernames will stick with me for a very long time because all my motivation to write this fic came from your precious reviews and PMs (there are even moments when I go "Hey, where is she? She hasn't reviewed this chapter yet!" lol XD). I thank you and love you for all the support.
For those of you who want to get the harshies on regarding my fic now, I give you full rights. I have given it my all, wrote it out as I wanted to... and I have no regrets... just pure satisfaction that I get to share my work with you all. I have learnt a lot through this fic, to accept criticisms and such. I started to get a bit bigheaded the time I started out to be honest, I thought there would be no slipups, I would write fabulous and everyone would love it. Some reviews brought me crashing back when I received the toughest backlash at Chapter 16 or so. I lost my spirit then, wanted to stop the fic. But a lot of you pushed me on (I realized it would be pathetic to only keep the plot to myself... just because I felt crummy after a few bad reviews) and so we come to this. I hope I was worthy enough of your faith. And now, any harsh words just bounce off me (I even have some choice words to say back, lol). If you have constructive criticism to give now, I accept them all because as I said, this is the end and I have nothing more to hide or feel unfair if I'm planning something you are apparently picking on.
And since this is probably my last AN on 'To Win You Back', I want to give a shout out to the haters, the few of you who have had some really un-understandable things to say about this fic. I'm sorry, guys, I had to continue this eyesore of a fic to you. But if you are still reading this... oh no, wait a minute, why are you STILL reading this? Told you to stop troubling the both of us, didn't I? You, with your insufferable reading... and me, with your insufferable review. I have written it all out, and nothing you say is going to change anything now I guess.
Now minus those who generally love to hate everything, if you think this fic is bad, do give me your reasons for it, that would really help... but I really hate rudeness or bossiness in reviews, so if I could request you to not be too harsh. If you want to come outright and give me stupid comments like 'This fic sucks' then please take note of this personal answer of mine: IF YOU HATE IT, THEN IT WASN'T WRITTEN FOR YOU, HONEY. As I have done twice before, I have instructed people who don't like this fic to go find another story better suited to their taste and not to trouble me. If you are only going to demotivate me with a single-sentence review without even giving your reasons, man, you can take your jealousy somewhere else.
I'm now officially on hiatus from FF. If I find inspiration, I might jot it down for future writing. It was a wonderful experience sharing TWYB with all of you, all your support, feedback… I think it's taught me a lot as well. I hope this fic was not a waste of your hours or sleeptime (I know some of you definitely did lose some) and I hope it was a worthy read. I thank you all so very much.
Keep spreading the ByaRuki love!
p/s: Probably spare a last and most important (to me! :D) review for To Win You Back?