Happy New Year's Eve, people!

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The Epilogue

"Rest in peace, my son."

Lightning stabbed the Flamberge into the ground and made sure it stayed upright.

She was kneeling next to the grave she had dug for Naruto near New Bodhum. It was a quiet place with a beautiful view over the landscape surrounding the town; something she knew Naruto would have appreciated.

She had decided to use the Flamberge as a grave marker and had jammed the switch to make sure it stayed in sword mode in case something touched it, even though wildlife rarely if ever visited this spot - part of the reason she had chosen it. She wondered if Naruto would have wanted to be buried with the gunblade instead, but she was sure he would have accept her decision.

With a heavy sigh, Lightning looked at the picture Naruto had kept in his pocket. It showed the two of them standing at the end of the pier during a beautiful sunset, smiling at the camera. In the picture, Naruto was hugging her tightly, while pressing his head against her shoulder. She smiled at the memory, remembering how enthusiastic and happy Naruto had been that day. He had even called it the greatest day of his life when Serah showed him the photo.

A sad smile on her lips, Lightning hooked a thin chain through a hole she had poked into the photo's upper right corner and locked it. Then she put the chain around the Flamberge's grip and made sure it would not slide down to the ground. The chain was from her necklace; she had left the pendant in the NORA House before departing.

"I'll have to get going now, Naruto," she said as she rose to her feet, "but don't worry about a thing." It felt odd to talk out loud when she was perfectly aware the dead couldn't possibly hear her, but somehow she had a feeling her words would reach him nonetheless.

"I'll come visit you when I get the chance," she said after a while. She wiped a lone tear off her cheek with the back of her hand, while giving the grave another sad smile. "I promise you that. Rest in peace, my son."

Without another word, Lightning picked up the prototype manadrive that she had entrusted to Naruto, turned around and walked away.

Unbeknownst to her, a transparent figure appeared on the grave just as she turned around, watching her depart with a wide smile on his lips.

"I'm finally home again," Naruto whispered before a sudden wind blew over his grave and he faded away.

The end.

Goodbye and happy New Year!

Fun Fact: The reason the words "my son" were so important is that Naruto was never called that by anyone in his life, and that was all he wanted to hear from Lightning before his inevitable death. This was originally supposed to be explained during his ranting in Chapter 16, but it didn't fit or feel right.