Hello readers.

I am both saddened and somewhat proud to present to you the finale of this story. I'm sorry to those of you who were hoping for more... But my imagination just ran its course for this story. I tried not to end it lamely, and I hope this tale can stand proudly as a whole. It has been quite a pleasure writing this for you guys, you've been a great audience. I've gotten so many beautiful reviews on this and I'm hoping to start a new story soon. Not sure what pairing yet, but my creative muse will emerge yet again, soon enough. Again, thank you all so much. You make writing worthwhile, and you make my day :)

~ Illumination

Like a Moth to the Flame

Written by Illuminate the Shadows

Chapter Seven ~ Epilogue

926 words ~

… Whatever heart I had nearly tore in half.

I'd been expecting it. Of course he didn't really remember me. He wasn't quite Ichigo… Well, he was, but his mind wasn't the same. What really fucked me up was…

He didn't love me anymore.

Whatever look was on my face must have been enough tell him something was off, because he took a step closer. "… You knew me, didn't you? Are we… Family…?"

Raising my eyes to him, I gazed at him. Despite the lack of 'heart', a small smile formed on my lips. His voice was reassuring.

"Nah, we ain't family. We, ah… We were friends."

The young boy stared at me, examining my eyes, my features, my hair.

"You look so familiar…" he murmured quietly, taking a step closer. Brightening up a bit, I watched him closely. "What's your name?"

"Ichigo, we gotta get you to Seireitei."

His blank stare was priceless. "What's Seireitei…?"

Smirking, I reached forward to take his hand. "Hold on."

"How is he?"

Urahara took his hat off slowly, avoiding my eyes. My fingers flexed as I gazed at him desperately. I was desperate. Fuck me.

The former shinigami simply smiled.

"Why don't'cha go see for yourself?"

The swing of a door.


A smile.

"… Grimmjow."

Long, lost lovers. Reunited.

It hadn't been forever, but then, just a few hours without him felt like forever to me.

He held onto me, strong arms wrapped around my lean figure. I never wanted him to let go. His reiatsu swirled around me like a thick fog, wrapping me in its warmth. I fell in love with him all over again, and the beautiful thing was, I wasn't sure I'd ever fallen out of love.

There were many things to do. Decide what I would do now. Join the academy, if that was my choice. Reunite with my friends. My dad. My little sisters. But all that could wait. He had missed me so desperately, and although I hadn't quite felt it at the time, I had missed him terribly as well. We both needed this time.

He carried me to the park. That spot where we had spent time together before my death. He sat down, with my under the tree, and I laid my head on his shoulder. There was nothing but peace. Serenity. Love.

"'M not gonna be able to say it 'nough times. I missed ya, Berry," he murmured into my hair. A smile turned my lips upwards.

"How much…?"

I raised my eyes up to him, startled by his weakened azure gaze. "A lot," he admitted, tightening his arm around my midsection. "I didn't know what ta do with myself. I wandered around. I was so mad that I couldn't'a done somethin'. Mad that you hadta go. Worried I'd never see ya again. A… Afraid that somethin' bad had happened to ya."

Our eyes met. It was obvious he wasn't lying. He had really been afraid for me… This man whom I had always thought was invincible. The man who, in the process of saving my life, had murdered three men mercilessly. This man before me had killed hundreds – if not thousands – of innocent souls. He had always been known as rude, sadistic, ruthless, by not only me but my peers, and his own allies. Yet here he was before me, bearing his soul. He did have a weakness; something that could break his confidence, make him feel real emotions, underneath all of that armor he had built up over the years. His weakness was me.

It felt good to know I was so important to someone.

I started training in the academy. It felt good to learn everything all over again. It was something familiar. Grimmjow was allowed into Seireitei. It was refreshing – if not a bit strange – to see him interact civilly with the shinigami I'd known for years.

I went to see my family with Grimmjow. We explained it all to my dad first… And he came up with an explanation for my little sisters. It took a bit of convincing, but eventually I could see them. I had really missed them all, even my eccentric dad.

Grimmjow rarely left my side. And when he did, it was only because I was training at the academy in Seireitei. He would be waiting outside my class. Eventually, I didn't care what the other students, or any of my peers thought. I held his hand in public, and even allowed a kiss or two.

Every night, I would curl up against his body in the darkness of my quarters. His breathing was my lullaby. Some nights we would make love. But our relationship wasn't just about sex anymore. It was deeper.

We were in love.