The Epilogue to Awakening!
This is the last chapter, so please drop a review, even if just an emoticon, to tell me how much you liked the story. I can tell you, I really enjoyed writing it.
Also, this story will soon be out of canon, I reckon. Final Fantasy XIII-2 has been confirmed.
In any case, I hope you enjoy this ending. 259 pages and 139002 words. Though technically it's probably less than that, as that'd include all the paragraph breaks and notes I added in my copy between chapters.
In any case, this is the longest thing I have ever written. I hope you enjoyed reading.
Now, back to the story!
The happiest day, so the saying goes. For Fang and Vanille, it was no exception.
There was a watching crowd around them. Lightning stood between Shemhazai and Serah: the fal'Cie had restored the soldier's memories. Snow stood next to the younger Farron, his arm over her shoulders; and the young Alexi smiled innocently from just below and between them. Hope and Asura stood together, Asura next to Shemhazai. Sazh completed the group, just to the side of Snow.
NORA were also there; Lebreau, Gadot, Yuj and Maqui, in a line near Snow.
The two Gran Pulsians were in front of the group: Vanille in a long, pale peach dress, and Fang in a similar, blue dress.
"Missing anyone?" Fang muttered to Vanille.
"Hmm," the redhead tilted her head, looking around. "Anima maybe. That's about all."
A snort came from the crowd. They looked at Hope questioningly; "Long story," the silver haired man chuckled.
Shrugging, the women looked back at each other, eyes meeting softly.
"I love you," Fang whispered.
Vanille giggled, not quite speaking in response. Fang just rolled her eyes.
"No chickening out," Fang muttered quietly to Vanille
"I suggested this in the first place," Vanille chimed back, "I'm not going to stop."
Fang smiled briefly, exhaling slowly. The elder woman leant forwards, lips almost touching-
"Hurry up!" Sazh shouted from the crowd, good humour restored by the setting.
Fang shot an amused look sideways; "It's my wedding," Fang said sardonically, "I can take as long as I like."
"Mine too!" Vanille hopped, "And I don't mind it when she takes a while."
"I was talking about the ceremony," Fang murmured quietly to the redhead.
"Me too!" her face was the picture of innocence, until the mask cracked for a split second. "Mostly…"
For the second time, the Gran Pulsians again leant closer to each other, both ecstatic, happy to the point of superlative. Their lips almost touched.
A blue light, flickering into existence between their close eyes, brought that to a halt.
A series of gasps interrupted the proceedings; more of the blue confetti rising, appearing in the air. They twirled, twinkling, before fading away.
Walking with silent footsteps, a stream of people rolled into view. Invisible, until a few metres away, the edges of the blue glimmers, where their translucent bodies first appeared. By the time they reached the seats, the main aspect of the wedding, they wee fully solid, as if fully there.
Dozens of them; men, women and children.
All slowly, gracefully moved to the array of living people. Ancient Oerba stood around them, illuminated now in the blue lights of the Goddess Etro: the lights which allowed these ghosts to walk.
The Cavalry were there. Half a hundred faces Fang could recognize, those who'd helped her when she was rescued from Euride. Following them, Cid Raines joined the wedding.
More old friends joined them.
Some of NORA walked to the wedding, those who hadn't stayed in crystal and had been lost centuries ago. They stayed the opposite side of Fang and Vanille to the Cavalry; grouping behind Snow, Serah and Alexi. There were not many, only around ten, but the carried enough joy for so many more.
Nervous, Rhoswen too appeared, stopping behind Hope and Asura.
Even the Eidolons began to appear. Hecatoncheir, Bahamut and Odin were the first, sitting, still slightly translucent, around the outer edges of the proceedings. Then, quietly, others began to appear. Mist Dragon floated above, Kirin hopped level with the circle, Alexander rested behind Hope, Brynhildr stationed herself behind Sazh, and the Shiva Sisters drifted into sight, arms linked, just behind Snow.
Still, more lost ghosts began to trickle into view. The next four to appear however, were by far the most important.
To begin, Bartholomew and Nora Estheim held hands, together for the first time in a long while, walking through the lights, until they stopped behind Hope. And then, Dajh walked into view, leading Choco with caring strokes, halting beside Sazh.
The seconds ticked past. The cerulean lights of Etro gave the proceedings an almost dreamlike quality, the Goddess's blessing making the wedding a fantasy, more perfect than they'd dreamed.
And then, the last ghosts slowly walked into view.
Those of Oerba.
Long lost to the world, the ancient ghosts of the citizens of Oerba walked again, those who lived in the last days before Ragnarok. Nodding, smiling, silently greeting the two Chosen from a distance. People of all conceivable looks and appearances formed a border, around the central group, circling Fang and Vanille, but closer than the Eidolons.
For the first time in almost a millennium, the people of Gran Pulse walked again.
Etro's beautiful azure continued to illuminate the air.
"Is my wedding gift to your liking?" the divine voice of the Goddess seemed to emanate from the air.
Slowly, Etro formed from the lights, a body borne of the magical confetti, standing near the Gran Pulsians, on the small raised platform the couple also stood on.
Vanille could not speak, tears building in the corners of her eyes: even Fang took a moment to regain her voice: "Y-Yes," there was no more to say.
The Goddess Etro closed her pale eyes for a moment; as normal, colourless save for those striking lips. Moments later, she opened them, looking up, around at the gathering.
"My gift is more than this; my debt requires so much more, for you have thrice saved my realm." Her voice retained the divinity it normally saved for when she was made of purely light; "These ghosts will walk among you for as long as you live. The friends you have lost are now here again; though they may no longer live, you will behold no change."
Her pale face gently looked at the Gran Pulsians in front of her: "You are now my messengers, my Eidolons. The rules are different now: I have much more freedom. This I may say: it will be a long time before we meet again."
Fang and Vanille smiled, still holding each other close. Fang leant forwards again, lips nearing Vanille.
"Third time lucky?" she murmured quietly. The redhead giggled.
"But first," Etro spoke once more, causing Fang to roll her eyes, "If I may?"
Eyes widening, Vanille soon nodded. Fang, quickly understanding, followed suite.
Giving a slow, graceful smile, Etro once again began to speak, a short, meaningful sentence.
"I hereby pronounce you, Oerba Dia Vanille, and Oerba Yun Fang, married, and not even death will do you part."
Surrounded by friends, both living and lost, and blessed by the Goddess standing just steps away, illuminated by divine light, they moved closer.
Oerba Yun-Dia Vanille, and Oerba Yun-Dia Fang, the Chosen of Gran Pulse, and saviours of Cocoon, their eyes watched each other, and drew nearer, until their lips met.