Well, here's my attempt at a rather tragic one-shot. Starring one of the most innocent pairings in the series, of all things.
Things to expect from this fanfiction:
Character Death (And plenty of it)
Fluff (Of a non-happy sort)
Post- KOR Bad Ending scenario
Rather obvious spoilers to KOR
That's about it. I hope you enjoy it.
Morning had broken. But the sky was still enshrouded in the dark clouds that would doubtlessly give way to rain as the day went by. The skies had been clear for most of the summer, with rarely a single cloud to dot the sky. But today was perhaps set aside from the commonplace positive atmosphere that the now finally peaceful world would eagerly await. Perhaps the world knew just what was going to transpire on this day- the years of suffering and the years of pure emotional torture that would reach their climax. Perhaps the world was in mourning; as if it took pity on the poor heroes of the past, who would, upon this day, lose something that, in the case of Genis Sage, was more valuable than any amount of gold.
He'd dressed for the occasion. He was wearing a rather long raincoat- it was more like a trench coat. His face and silver hair were obscured by the black hat that overcast his expression. He stood atop the ship, where few passengers still remained. After all, it was going to start raining. No one wanted to become drenched in the incoming downpour. The elven boy, however, did not care much for the opening of nature's floodgates. In fact, he welcomed the rain. Today there would be a similar kind of storm. It was all too fitting. But he secretly coveted the rain.
It was his only hope, after all. His only hope that the World Tree and the reborn Martel could understand his pain. He could only hope that there was someone in the world that could possibly understand what he was experiencing.
"Hey mister." A small child who had been playing atop the ship with his slightly older sister suddenly approached him.
All it took was one look at the child for Genis to want him to go away. He was almost the spitting image of that man.
"..Yes?" Genis replied quietly, hiding his hateful eyes beneath his hat.
"Did you hear? Sir Lloyd is to be married to the Chosen Colette!" He smiled happily. Certainly this boy respected Lloyd for his accomplishments, just as countless children from both halves of this reunited world were.
Genis grins at the boy, slightly readjusting his shifting hat as to keep his eyes hidden. "Is that so? I hadn't heard."
"Yep! They're being married tomorrow morning! Isn't that wonderful?" The child smiled innocently at him.
"I suppose it is. Yes….It must be a wonderful thing."
The boy smiles even wider, but in a few moments he is distracted by his sister who had been calling him from across the ship. He runs off, leaving Genis to his thoughts once more.
That's right. Lloyd and Colette were to be wed tomorrow morning. It would have been more fitting to hold it on a day like today, Genis thought. Although if it were, he'd be there right about now- if for no other reason than to congratulate the wife-to-be. And only the wife-to-be.
He sighed as he gazed out upon the turbulent waves once more, as he continued to spend what felt like an eternity crossing the sea towards the research facility at Meltokio. As his thoughts darkened, the sky cried out with a loud crack of thunder. It hadn't started raining yet, but the storm was in progress. Genis knew that without a doubt now- Martel was crying for him….
Or perhaps she wasn't crying for him, but rather the other man involved in this age-old cold war.
Genis understood his failures when it came to his almost childish love for Presea Combatir. It wasn't very long after their original quest to regenerate the world that Genis began to realize something. Presea was sixteen years older than he was. She was years ahead of him, and as such was far more mature than he was. Her original disposition towards him was caused by her loss of all emotional content, up to the point where her exsphere was crested and maintained to the point where she regained her humanity. He was essentially a child who believed that the two of them might have had a future. In the end, given how much younger than her he was, she could never see him as anything more than a helpful and thoughtful friend. That's what he convinced himself had been his downfall when Presea went off with Lloyd to hunt for exspheres. Afterward, Genis focused primarily on completing school. He did so, and succeeded rather well as time passed. He still turned down any girl who requested his affections, with his memories of Presea still prominent. Perhaps one day, when they returned, he would have his chance.
A few years had passed and Presea returned to Ozette, while Lloyd continued to be missing in action. Genis had sought her out upon hearing of her return. But to his dismay, she was concerned with nothing but Lloyd. Lloyd and where he might have been was her primary topic of discussion for quite some time whenever he visited. But Genis gained something out of it- there was no one to comfort Presea but himself and Regal, who at this point in time was far too busy with the Lezareno Company. In the end, he had secretly hoped that Lloyd would never return, so his countless number of visits to Presea would continue.
But Lloyd did return. He had been framed for crimes that he had never committed. Of course the people who knew Lloyd would never denounce their hero and would stand up for him wherever possible. Genis, on the other hand, tended never to speak of Lloyd in the slightest. In the end he felt terrible about it. His friends all supported Lloyd, a genuinely good man, while Genis refused to purely out of jealousy. He hated himself for it, and for quite some time. He was still as much of a child then as he was now. Surely Presea would never have him. Not the way he was.
Lloyd eventually returned. He'd allowed his name to be tarnished by the public purely because it was part of his grand mission to save the world from the impending dangers of Ratatosk and the Ginnungagop. He'd slowly, yet steadily been reestablished as hero once again, and he was able to walk amongst the masses without the false guilt of the incident at Palmacosta to plague him any longer. Certainly, everything had been resolved in that regard.
But the greatest influence in his rebuilt life came with a greater cost. It was shortly before they made the descent towards their final battle with the power-mad Richter that the group decided to head to Flanoir. Given how Lloyd had been chewed out by citizen mere moments earlier, Genis decided that he would try to comfort his best friend as his atonement for being opposed to him in secret for such a long time. But he found Presea already with him. Lloyd had been on one knee at this point so the two would be at eye level. Genis could still remember his words.
No matter what people say- I won't abandon you again. I promise.
But perhaps he was mistaken. After all, he could've just taken a more friendly statement as a declaration of love. There was one way he could verify- the iron maiden. He knew the rumor about it, and how placing the hair of someone you cared about and leaving it there for seven hundred and sixty five days would result in the two of you being blessed with happiness. It was the only way he could verify it- the only way he could accept it.
The two headed into the inn, while the iron maiden was left outside in the snow. Genis managed to pry it open without much difficulty. Inside he found exactly what he had been dreading, what his heart had been pounding over for the last five minutes.
A single lock of brown hair.
Of course- he had finally realized it. It had been in the back of his mind, ever since Presea had lamented over Lloyd's disappearance. He had just forced himself not to accept it. Over those years- Lloyd and Presea- they'd found love with each other.
He lit the lock of hair on fire with a snap of his fingers as his left hand slammed the iron maiden shut. He fell to his knees, slamming his free hand into the snow covered gravel beneath him. He wasn't aware at the time that Emil and Marta, who had been planning on cheering up Lloyd themselves, saw the entire exchange between Genis and the iron maiden as well as the scene between Lloyd and Presea just before it, but in the end Marta was able to understand what he was feeling to a certain degree and decided to keep quiet about the whole thing. After all, she had just lost her father. But it would be more so later on when she would lose Emil much the same way.
Of course Lloyd and Presea returned to hunting for exspheres and Genis returned to his studies. He'd far surpassed Raine at this point and was now just furthering the strength of his magic. He'd found the secret to magic of the clerical art, and had taught himself all of Raine's own abilities and more. The years went on by, and Genis remained alone. What kept him going was that he knew that Lloyd was a good man, and as such she would be in good hands.
He saw her again four years later, about a year before that happened. She'd grown taller, much as he had. Apparently her growth had resumed, given some furthering of the technology that the Meltokio research facility had produced. She'd only become more beautiful, which made the dull certainty that she'd never be his only that much more apparent. They'd talked as if they were close friends who hadn't seen each other in years, which wasn't too far from the truth. The emotion was progressively returning to her voice on top of this, and Genis was able to share in her happiness over the fact. She'd introduced him to her daughter, Nae, who had more of Presea in her than Lloyd. She talked so fondly about Lloyd, and in the end Genis couldn't help but feel happy for her. In the end, Genis was able to speak to her while keeping his still wavering emotions in check.
He'd spent the rest of that morning in a good mood, even letting Lloyd imply that he was still really short. But in the aftermath, he'd felt even more lonely than ever, when he'd been left alone as everyone else went off to spend the afternoon on a budget set by Regal. He'd realized he'd been ignored rather like the child that he used to be. Perhaps Presea only appeared to have been pleased to see him out of nothing but her instinctive nature towards children. He realized that he hadn't mattered much in the long run. Perhaps he still hadn't changed after all.
The brief reunion ended, and Genis returned to his solitude. At this point he understood that the girl Nae was the symbol of Presea's unchanging feelings for Lloyd. He understood this, but still his heart was unwavering. He desperately wanted himself to stop this madness before it was too late and he did something unforgivable. Over the course of the next year, the girl Nae appeared in his dreams constantly. As a result, the directions he took his magic in were geared more towards a more violent range.
That following year was when everything changed- for the absolute worst. In February Presea suddenly became gravely ill. It was apparently the long term effects of the physical and mental strain her mind and body were forced to go through for years. She'd gotten so sick that she was forcibly sent to the Meltokio research facility, as no doctor anywhere else in the world could help her.
It was there that they determined that she'd become terminally ill- but the illness wasn't short term. She would remain this way for years before death finally claimed her. It was a tremendous shock for all of them, especially Genis. He'd received notification from his sister who'd visited him for the sole purpose of delivering the message.
Genis stayed with her as long as he could, although whenever Lloyd and Nae visited her he'd force himself to leave. She seemed genuinely happy to see him on those days.
But one day, things fell apart even further. Lloyd had, several years ago, been dubbed a knight- not just any knight, but a high ranking official who had to keep a strong public appearance. With his wife confined to a lab, Lloyd determined that his decision would be best for him.
He would leave Presea. He would leave her to rot for the rest of her days in confinement, all alone.
Nae would suffer as well. As having a child with another woman would not do well for Lloyd's appearance, Nae was sent to an orphanage, shortly before Regal took her under his care. But given how the man was now tied down to his company for the worse rather than for the better, she essentially lived out her days as alone as Genis had been. But Genis never so much as tried to visit her. After all, the girl's father should be the one doing something like that. Genis barely even knew her.
Of course Genis was completely shocked to realize just how far Lloyd had fallen from who he used to be. Was everything Lloyd was doing illegal? Absolutely. He saw him in a new light. Perhaps Zelos' death wasn't an unavoidable accident. Perhaps Emil nearly killing Marta happened because Lloyd failed to protect her well enough.
But what made him sick to his stomach the most was the fact that even before finally making the decision to abandon his current family; Lloyd had already taken steps to build a new one- with Colette, of all people. Genis knew that Colette really just wanted her Lloyd and would do the worst things in the world if it meant she could have him, no matter what her pleasant and cheerful expression would give off. She'd become that way after Lloyd had married Presea. Genis was fairly certain that they had been seeing each other since before Presea had even gotten sick. He spoke to her a few weeks after the divorce and she really didn't seem to care all that much. And now they were finally going to be married, a total of three years after the incident. They most likely had children of their own by now, so the whole concept of marriage seemed to be a tad pointless.
Of course Genis' hatred for Lloyd now ran deep. But he realized something, that despite all his hatred for Lloyd, in the end things were probably his own fault. He'd allowed Lloyd to take her, on the pretense that he was a good man. He'd been quite a coward, having never voiced his feelings in the end. He was still a child in that regard, in the sense that he hadn't been able to see the truth for what it was, that even the most honorable of people would doubtlessly succumb to power.
Genis stopped visiting Presea after he realized this. In fact, he'd tried to remove her, as well as the rest of his friends from his life in their entirety. Sure, Sheena and his sister weren't involved with this incident in the slightest, although Sheena cut herself off from everyone else around the time Lloyd became a knight and Raine….Raine seemed to have been turned against Genis, given the rather unorthodox approach he brought to magic and his recent surge in hatred for humans- or rather his hatred for Lloyd, which he masked as such. She accused him of being the same as Mithos once was- something that he nearly killed her for saying.
Genis tried to force himself to move on through the one outlet he had. After all, he wasn't the only one who had been abandoned and left alone at times such as the reunion from a few years earlier. In fact, it was right around the time Presea had been illegally divorced that he and Marta kissed for the first time. But as he had feared right from the start of their relationship, he ended up hurting her in the end, with his only true escape being his primary focus even now- his magic, and the now twisted and deadly spells that he had created over the last several years. Marta had reminded him about too many of the aspects of his own life that he wanted to forget, as the two of them had become fundamentally the same. It came to the point where their relationship was almost completely loveless, although Marta knew that it was simply because she had not moved on from Emil and Genis had yet to free his heart from Presea's bonds. In the end they split up, purely to keep themselves sane, although Marta still didn't understand just how deeply rooted Genis' feelings for Presea were.
Genis continued his state of isolation, with virtually no end to his madness in sight. With what he'd taught himself he could probably bring a city to its knees in a matter of hours. He was far beyond the level of genius than anyone had ever imagined possible as a magician. He had set himself up in a small house in Flanoir, using most of the money he'd amassed from his years of traveling, and had made quite a name for himself, even if not in the most positive connotation.
Genis had become rather feared by many, known as the Black Mage for his ruthlessness and his tendency to kill monsters and bandits on sight, regardless of how avoidable confrontation was. He'd become more widely known after he single handedly destroyed a bandit city overnight with nothing but his magic. As he became progressively more and more skilled, his magic had become more and more influenced by his inner turmoil. He transformed his Fire Ball into a molten rock, capable of burning anything in its path to dust. He transformed Stalagmite into something akin to a small earthquake. He had not only taught himself Resurrection, but managed to craft a spell that did the exact opposite. All the while he remained bitter and cold. After all, his feelings for Presea were still very real. But his feelings had been undermined by even himself. That was his sin, a sin that cost Presea what little life she had left.
He received the letter in the mail only yesterday. It was from the Meltokio research facility, and it read as such:
To Genis Sage,
We regret to inform you that Presea Combatir is in her final moments. Her condition worsened two evenings ago and her vital signs are progressively dropping. She will likely pass on in a day or two. Knowing how important she was to you and your friends, I have sent this letter so you may have a chance to visit her before she passes on.
That was about twelve hours ago, and now he was drawing closer to his destination. No matter what he felt about what had happened to her, no matter how guilty he believed he was, he absolutely had to see her. Simply knowing she was going to die- and most likely alone at that- had been reason enough.
The rain began to pour down lightly as he leaned against the railing. He could see Meltokio off in the distance. It wouldn't be any longer than ten minutes or so before he would arrive. He wondered if Lloyd would even show up. If he didn't, then Genis would have a wedding to crash.
Eventually the ship came to a halt as the rain increased its intensity slightly. Genis readjusted his hat once more and proceeded off the ship with the rest of the passengers. He stalked towards his destination, the feeling in his chest being something he hadn't felt in years.
It was that same anxiety that he felt when he opened that iron maiden all those years ago. He still remembered that moment as if it happened yesterday.
He opened the heavy iron door into the facility and moved down the hallway. He saw that man and his wife-to-be in tow leaving the room. They seemingly stopped to greet him, but as he passed them, he didn't so much as glance at them, not that they would be able to tell given how his hat obscured all of his emotions. Colette almost turned to call out to him, but Lloyd grasped her arm and shook his head, not so much as making a sound.
Oh, how far these once closely knit friends had fallen.
Genis, a mere hollow shell of a man, lost in his unrequited love and his inability to grasp the destiny fate had dealt his beloved.
Lloyd, a man twisted by a lust for power, who would do anything to better himself.
Colette, a lost lamb that was nothing without her Lloyd and who despite her now darkened intentions had really just wanted them all to be friends again, even though she should understand that such things were impossible now. Perhaps Genis' small shred of respect for her stemmed from that.
And in the end, it was all over one woman.
Genis proceeded towards the end of the hallway, hesitating to open the door into her room.
He eventually decided that she would most likely die in a matter of moments anyway. He had to see her one last time, and he was running out of time. The door slid open and he slowly entered the room.
Presea was virtually identical to the last time he'd seen her, only now she was deathly pale. She slowly turned her head towards the direction of the sound and, despite that hat that would always hide his emotions from the people around him, their eyes met.
She smiled at him. It was a pure, love-filled smile. He'd never seen her display such a heavenly face before. But he could only think of how many times Lloyd had seen the exact same face before he left her here to die.
"You came." She said, her voice doing nothing to hide her happiness.
"And so I did." He spoke, moving closer to her.
"Lloyd just left." As always, her conversation quickly focused on Lloyd. Some things would never change, no matter how much damage that man had done to her.
"I know. I…ran into him outside." Presea clearly understood his words.
"I haven't seen you in years."
"The same goes for me…" Perhaps there was a double meaning to his words. He pulled off his hat. He wasn't planning on hiding anything from her.
"…Is something the matter, Genis?" She truthfully had no idea. What a shame, that it would all have to come pouring out like this now.
"…As a matter of fact, there is. You know he's being married tomorrow, correct?"
"…Yes. They told me. In fact, they mostly spoke about how their lives had been going for them."
"I thought as much." Genis spoke with disgust.
"But he did come here. He remembered, didn't he?"
"That doesn't mean that he ever thought about you, per se. I'm certain he simply wanted to see you off, more than anything else. He wants this less memorable chapter of his life to end."
Presea frowned. "Is that really how you see him now?"
"I see Lloyd as a great many things. An honest and respectful man are not any of them."
"…I'm sorry to hear that." She broke into a coughing fit after she spoke, and Genis handed her the glass of water that she gestured towards at her side. She silently thanked him as she sipped from the glass and handed it back to Genis.
"…I've been meaning to ask…" She continued. "I never found out what happened to Nae. Is she still living with Lloyd?"
Genis' eyes went wide. All of these years had passed and Lloyd hadn't even told her what he did with her own daughter...?
"…She was put up for adoption."
"….Adoption?" Her moderately pleased expression faltered at that moment. "He…gave her up for adoption?"
"Having someone else's child wouldn't have done well for appearances. So she was placed in an orphanage for awhile. But Regal eventually took her in. So don't worry, I'm sure she's-"
"I know what happened to Regal. He was here by himself earlier."
Genis fell silent for a few moments. "I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault." She tried to smile at him but found it rather difficult.
"…" Genis knew that those words meant that it was time.
"…You're wrong, Presea. It is my fault. Quite a lot of things are my fault."
"What do you mean?" She was genuinely confused.
"…If I hadn't been so much of a coward in the first place, then maybe your life wouldn't have been so miserable."
"Genis…What are you-"
"Do you know why I came to hate not only Lloyd, but myself? Do you know why I turned into this? Certainly, you must have heard about what I've been doing."
"…I won't deny it…But I don't know. Why, Genis? Why would you hate yourself over something like this? There wasn't anything you could do."
"Exactly. There was nothing I could do, because I was far too late…No, perhaps the better phrase was that I was far too young."
"Genis, what are you talking-"
"If I hadn't been such a coward- if I'd told you how I felt sooner, then maybe you wouldn't have been left here like this for the last three years!" He raised his voice.
"Genis…" Her eyes were somewhat wider now.
"Maybe if I hadn't reduced myself to this, then I might have been able to be here for you. But I couldn't….I couldn't so much as look at you knowing that I let this happen all because I was too afraid." He let his hate filled words- hate for no one else but himself- flow out.
Presea shook her head, lightly grabbing Genis' hand. Instantly his un-bottled rage sealed itself up.
"You're here now, aren't you?" She smiled at him.
Genis couldn't muster up any words to counter that.
"…I'm sure you remember that time, right before Lloyd divorced me, correct?"
Genis nodded his head in response.
"You visited me every day. But whenever Lloyd came into the room, you'd leave, even if we were in the middle of talking about something." She laughed slightly as she said this.
"I'll be honest." Her face fell slightly. "As happy as I was to see my daughter, I was a bit sad whenever you left. After all, I had to see Lloyd."
"But he hadn't-"
"I knew…I knew for quite awhile that he had been seeing Colette. That's why even then I never wanted to see him. I would have just been happier if you and Nae were in the room. But then you stopped visiting. I think that was what got to me the most. You'd been one of my best friends for years, after all. No matter how long apart we'd been- and no matter how much I talked about Lloyd when we met- you'd still be just as glad to see me whenever we met."
"So you'll admit that it's my fault."
Presea shook her head. Even though he had chosen never to visit her, effectively leaving her to herself for the longest time, she still didn't blame him. Perhaps she understood his line of reasoning, no matter how unlikely it was?
"…So I decided. If you ever came back, I would finally be ready."
"…What do you mean?"
She turns towards the iron maiden that sat alone in the darkest corner of the room. "…I believe that today marks the seven hundred and sixty fifth day."
"Presea, what are you…?"
She started coughing again, but it subsided rather quickly.
"I've only got a few minutes at best, but would you like to see what's inside?" She smiled, releasing his hand.
Genis walked over towards it, opening it the same way he had years ago. What he saw inside brought the greatest mixture of feelings in the world.
A single lock of silver hair. He leans against the iron maiden, his feelings overtaking him. The last three years- the three years he spent in agony because he couldn't bring himself to see her.
She felt the same way. She felt the same way all that time and he'd been too afraid to visit her.
How stupid. How stupid you are, Genis.
"I know it's a bit late…But I figured that perhaps I'd get at least a few moments of happiness with you in the end."
"I'm sorry…I'm sorry I didn't pay enough attention back then. Maybe I wouldn't have been so quick to run off with Lloyd. Maybe you'd have had a better life." Was she really apologizing for everything that had happened?
He shook his head, still failing to look in her direction. "It's not your fault. I've been too much of a child all of these years."
She then shook her head, grasping his hand once more.
"You've never been a child, at least not in my eyes. But I understand why you'd believe something like that. After all, I never told you I thought that way, did I?"
"…But it was because I was a child that I drove you away, correct?"
"No…It was never like that. I just loved Lloyd at that time. If I'd known back then how things would turn out, things would've been different. I'm certain things would have been better for all of us."
Genis shook his head again. "No. There was no way you could have ever known that I'd treat you any better."
"But you would have. That's the fact of the matter, isn't it?"
This conversation still wasn't going anywhere. Genis knew exactly what this all meant, but in the end he had to accept the reality of everything. Genis moved back over to where Presea was, the lock of hair still in his hand. Much as he did with Lloyd's years earlier, he set it on fire.
"I can't…Not now. I'm years too late."
Presea used what little energy she had left to sit up. "You have five minutes." Without so much as another sound, she pulled him towards her.
It was essentially the first time Genis had ever so much as felt something besides the bitterness that had plagued him for years. What was it he felt? He had completely forgotten, despite having been in love with this woman for so many years, what love actually felt like.
They kissed, for both the first time and the last time. Despite how drained Presea was, she still put what little there was left of her feelings into the kiss. It became increasing passionate over the next minute, but eventually they broke, not because of the lack of air that practically shouldn't have been a problem, but because Genis couldn't stand it any longer. He knew that if this moment lasted for too long, that he wouldn't be able to stand it when it would be nothing but a memory.
"…I love you, Presea." He had no other choice but to say it now.
She just smiled at him. "I know you do…I love you as well, Genis." She began coughing once more. "…I decided, three years ago, that the trust I placed in you should've always been something more. That's why now I can say that, with absolutely nothing weighing me down." Genis felt somewhat similar.
"So even back then I decided. I decided that the day you returned that I would place everything in your hands."
"Presea, what do you mean?"
She reached under her sheets and pulled out what appeared to be a scroll of paper. Genis took it from her shaky hand and opened it.
He couldn't believe what he was seeing. The date imprinted claimed that it was ordered three years ago, but Lloyd must have subverted it at the time. He only needed to read the first two lines.
By the order of Presea Irving, under the absolute law of the court of Sylverant:
Custody of Nae Irving is to be transferred to Genis Sage, effective immediately.
"What the hell is…"
"Lloyd didn't divorce me legally, and so I figured that I still had the ability to do this. He probably bribed someone to keep the law off of his back, as I didn't have much say in anything of the sort and he could easily get away with it. He'd paid the medical staff to keep the finer details about my divorce under wraps, after all. So I decided to do this."
"No, no I can't do this. You know what I'm like now; you know this would be hell for her. You can't possibly-"
"You're a good man. That's all that matters."
Of course. A good man- something Lloyd hadn't been for years. Something that Regal had tried to be but failed ultimately. Perhaps Genis was still one of these.
"…You're the only one. The only one in the world who I want to be her father, Genis. You're the only one."
"…" He was still reeling over from the shock.
"Please, Genis. Please, give her a place where she can be happy, instead of being locked away with Regal for the rest of her life. I know you can."
He was still shaking his head. Presea pulled him towards her again.
"I trust you. I trust you fully. You should be her father now. That much I know. No matter how different you are, you're still you, Genis. You're still that boy who did nothing but try to turn himself into a man, just because he cared about one woman and wanted to protect her. You're still the person who went around doing wonderful things for people out of kindness. You're still the boy who tried his hardest to accept humans even though he was discriminated by them. You're still the boy who defended someone as corrupted as Mithos to the bitter end because you were friends. Even if you became something terrible, you're still that person. That's why you came here today. That's why you spent the last moments of my life with me. I know I've done terrible things to you, Genis. I know that even if I wasn't intentionally doing it I've been hurting you for years. But you still came. You're still here. That's why you're the only one. It's because I love you that I can understand all of this."
"I'll be gone soon…" She whispers. "But can you please stay here with me, just like this, until it happens?"
"…Yes. I will. I'll stay here."
She sighed with relief. "…I haven't told anyone this yet. But I'm so scared." She started to shiver. "I don't know what death will be like. I'm just afraid- afraid of the moment that I won't be able to feel you anymore, Genis."
"…You'll still be able to feel me, long after death. I swear it."
"Don't come chasing after me too quickly now." She smiled, resting her head against his neck.
A few minutes passed where no words were exchanged. Perhaps she wanted to spend her final moments in silence.
But then, as if they both knew, Presea spoke.
"I'm going to hold you to your word…That I'll still be able to feel this moment after I'm gone."
Genis nodded in response.
"…You know, Genis, I just realized something."
"…What's that?" Genis hesitantly replied, noting the sudden weakness in her voice.
"…I guess the iron maiden worked after all. I got all the happiness I ever needed."
And with that, her head fell backward. Genis caught it, staring into her eyes as the light left them. Her expression was peaceful. He continued to stare at the empty smile for what felt like an eternity.
He eventually raised his left hand to slide her eyelids shut. She appeared to be sleeping, as if she was having the most pleasant dream in the world.
A few moments later a doctor came into the room.
"I'm sorry, Mister Sage." An automated response. Genis did no such thing as respond to his words.
Genis rose, taking one final look at Presea before turning, never looking back. Indeed, the iron maiden had worked. They'd had all the happiness they needed in the end. The last few years of his life were worth living if only just for this day, the day he finally came to terms with his past and was finally able to openly love the woman who had captivated him years ago, even if only for a few moments.
It was all a memory now. Presea was unmoving, with death having finally taken her. But it was still happiness more valuable than anything else- but also happiness that someone had once taken for granted.
Genis placed his hat upon his head once more, his face hidden by its shadow. He could have been crying. He could have been smiling. He slipped out of the open door and moved down the hallway.
At the end of the hallway someone stood before him. He was about to push past them until he realized it was someone he knew.
She stood there before him. A dark and saddened look upon her face. It was an expression that Genis knew all too well.
"Marta." He breathed.
"…There's a mourning rally the doctors started up outside."
"…Is there? I suppose that's nice of them."
He almost walked past her, but then she did something unexpected. She grabbed him and kept him from moving. Genis remembered that Marta went through this same situation once, long ago. Now she was depressed and alone, although Genis had done more harm than good to her himself.
"…Don't cry. It's over now." She said, her own face lightly stained with tears. The little boy hadn't seen the hate in his eyes when he talked so admiringly about Lloyd. The doctor hadn't seen the death glare that Genis had sent him. Presea hadn't seen the look of anxiety on his face when he entered the room. But Marta- she'd seen right through the shadow. She didn't even need to see his face, as obscured as it was by the hat's shadow, to know what he was expressing.
He had been crying after all.
But more importantly, this was Marta.
"I thought I told you not to forgive me?"
"…I figured, why the hell should I listen to you?"
Marta pulled Genis into yet another kiss. It was the first one they had shared in two years. It held more meaning than those back then. This was Marta's sign that she now understood everything- why their past relationship had gone so wrong, and why Genis had been unable to move on from Presea.
Genis now understood. He didn't need Martel to cry for him. He already had Marta, who would cry for him unconditionally.
As soon as the kiss broke off, Genis spoke. "But are you sure you want to associate yourself with the Black Mage?"
She smiled somewhat slightly. "Maybe I just have a thing for midgets with grey hair."
"It's silver." His voice was still as cold as ever, but Marta could have sworn that he smiled for the first time in years. This time, he was the one who pulled her into the kiss.
But Genis knew that now was the time.
"…I have to go now."
"…Right. I'll be waiting for you, for when it's all over."
"…I know you will." With that, Genis left the building, leaving Marta to her thoughts. She already knew what was about to transpire, and there wasn't much she could do to stop it. So she decided that no matter what would happen, she'd still wait for Genis when it was all over. She owed him that much for having failed to understand him in the past. Now it was different, and now she knew that his decision would not necessarily be the right and just, but it would be the fitting decision.
Outside the group of people who had up until a few moments ago been mourning Presea's death were now crowded around the collapsed body of the well respected knight, while his wife-to-be kneeled at his side, a look of pure panic on her face.
Genis walked down the pathway towards the group. It seemed that everything had worked out the way it should have in the end. Genis had done a bit of bribing of his own.
He got close enough to see the two of them. Lloyd was collapsed on the ground, the glass of poisonous wine shattered near his feet.
It was then that the people noticed.
"I-It's him- it's the Black Mage!" Genis' arrival was met with screams of terror, gasps, and in about four cases cheers.
Genis walked over to Lloyd and hoisted him up by the collar.
"Get up." He spoke with pure malice in his voice.
Lloyd's eyes fluttered open.
Genis released him and Lloyd staggered to remain standing. Genis then punched him squarely in the stomach. Lloyd fell to the ground again. The fight was completely one-sided, with Lloyd barely rising to get a single strike in while Genis continued to wail on him. Admittedly, Genis didn't want to use the poison at first. But at least having him mortally wounded prior to going into the battle would make stomping all over him much easier.
"Genis, please, don't!" Colette cried out. Genis completely ignored her.
"You're not dead just yet. Get up and fight me."
Lloyd slowly rose to his feet and tried to throw a similar punch. But he was far too slow.
Genis then grabbed him by the collar again. "Right now, in front of all of them. Tell them. Tell them just what kind of devil you are."
Lloyd grinned. "Never."
"…Drugging me and then beating me up…? Do you have any class, Genis?" Genis couldn't believe his ears. Lloyd was still trying to taunt him.
"More than you've ever had. But I'll be blunt. I could've done this either way." He punches him again. "But you've had time to prepare."
"…Ah, that's right." Lloyd spoke, nearly choking as the poison began to take its toll on his dying body. "I'd forgotten."
"Well then it's your own damn fault. You brought my fury upon yourself."
Indeed, this entire situation came back to Lloyd like a ghost from his past. It was so long ago that he'd nearly forgotten. Perhaps this was why Genis isolated himself for so long and became the Black Mage, teaching himself the most gruesome forms of magic possible, for the sole purpose of this very moment.
"From the land of the living…" Genis began. With this it would all be finished- a spell so fitting it was almost poetic. Lloyd tried to move out of the way but he realized that escape was futile.
"Genis, no!" Colette cried out, trying to physically stop him. But one of the doctors stepped out of the crowd and held her back. Apparently the medical staff had all come to their senses and allowed the battle to go on. Genis would probably be able to get off easily for what he was about to do under the pretense that Lloyd was a criminal.
You're really going to do this? Are you going to let her suffer for the rest of her life?
"I call upon thee in the land of the dead…"
There's no way…Why? Why did I let you do this to her?
"To unleash thy fury of thunder…"
…Here's the deal, Lloyd. Remember this moment for the rest of your life.
This is my last promise, from me to you.
The day she dies- I'll kill you.
And that's the end of that. Not the most pleasent story, but at least there's a bit of a happy ending in there somewhere. Please review so I can figure out how I should/shouldn't change things up in the future. Thanks in advance.