Matthew watched as the port of Belinsk came closer into view. It wouldn't be long now. Soon their group would be breaking up. Matthew, Karis, and Tyrell would continue on foot from Belinsk, finding some way through Bilibin to reach Lookout Cabin. Amiti and Himi would stay with Eoleo and the ship for a while and let him drop them off. It was a necessity for Himi, and simply the easiest way to reach Ayuthay for Amiti. Rief would stay with Kraden. Matthew wasn't sure if they intended to follow them to Lookout Cabin, or if they would head off in search of ancient ruins to explore. He hoped they would join them for the last leg of the journey, but didn't really expect it.
Then there was Sveta. She would stay in Belinsk of course. She would tell her people of Volechek's final moments, and would lead her people from here on out. They would need a strong leader to help them rebuild the nation in the wake of the Grave Eclipse. Fortunately, this journey had done wonders for Morgal's international relations. Ayuthay, Champa, and Yamato would be fast friends with Morgal. While there was still bad blood between Morgal and Sana at least the leaders of the two nations were now in agreement for peace. Kaocho had been badly hurt by the Grave Eclipse, and even if what remained refused offers of peace from their neighbors they would still be unable to wage war for the time being. Bilibin and the Tuaparang were Morgal's only worries for the moment. Bilibin would have been hurt by the Grave Eclipse, but not nearly so much as Morgal. If they blamed Morgal they could start a war, and Morgal would not have much to fight back with. They would have to rely on allies from Sana and other neighbors to help them defend themselves. The Tuaparang were a larger problem, but not an immediate one. If they chose to attack, they could do it from almost anywhere. They could attack swiftly, withdraw to their ships, and leave before any reinforcements arrived. They were clearly an aggressive nation, and had big plans for the future. However, they didn't have anything against Morgal personally. They could just as easily attack Bilibin, or Kalay, or even another continent for that matter. Plus, they didn't seem to want to wage war. They preferred working from the shadows, and manipulating their enemies into fighting each other. Whether this would still be the case or not now that Alex seemed to have left them remained to be seen.
Still, Sveta would have her hands full. Matthew would find a way back home and deliver the feather. It seemed a rather anti-climactic end to this journey. He would deliver the feather, his father would fix the soarwing, his father would travel to Sol Sanctum, and his father would figure out how to save the world from the Mourning Moon. After having done so much, Matthew was back to being a simple delivery boy, so the real hero could do his job. Of course, he was now nearly as powerful an adept as his father was, and he was sure that both his power and experience would be useful to Isaac. He would likely still have a large role to play, but it would be second to that of his father. Perhaps he could even find an excuse to come back to Morgal?
Matthew turned to face the voice he recognized so well. "Yes, Sveta?"
"Could I talk to you? In private?"
On deck, Eoleo's crew was scurrying about, doing whatever it took to work a ship like this one. Matthew had never really learned much about how the ship actually operated. "Of course."
Matthew's cabin was another matter. It was the most private place in the whole ship; the captain's quarters. At first, Matthew had tried to insist that Eoleo take the room. After all, this was his ship and his crew. While Matthew was the leader of their group, Eoleo was the captain. Eoleo had refused. He had insisted that until the Eclipse was over, he hadn't yet earned his father's title. Matthew was leading them, and the room was his. Matthew appreciated it, but it could get lonely being the only one in the room. Especially because he had gotten used to sharing tents or rooms at whatever inn they were staying at with the rest of the group. Sitting up talking around the campfire until they got too sleepy to continue. Having a room all to himself seemed unnatural.
Matthew closed the door, essentially sound proofing the room. "What is it, Sveta?"
"I wanted…" she hesitated, and looked down at her feet. "I wanted to apologize."
Matthew was stunned. What did Sveta have to apologize for? "I don't understand."
"For what I did at the Apollo Lens. It was selfish, and stupid, and dangerous, and I'll understand if you never forgive me."
If Matthew had been confused before, it was a hundred times worse now. The Apollo Lens? Sveta had been the most generous, self-sacrificing, noble person he had ever known. She was the reason they were able to reach the lens in the first place. She had placed herself in more danger than anyone. She had lost her brother, and maintained her composure despite that. She had been ready to die if she had to. "I… I don't know what to say."
"You can tell me what you really think," she said, her voice quiet and quavering. "I understand how you must feel."
She easily could have if she used her Spirit Sense. Matthew wished he had a similar ability so he could tell what she was talking about. "Sveta, what do you have to be sorry for?"
She looked up at him, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. "I risked your life for nothing, just because I was selfish."
Matthew quickly hugged Sveta, without even thinking, and she began crying into his shoulder. "You did not risk my life for nothing. You were not selfish. You weren't even the one who risked my life."
"Yes I did," she said. "I didn't know if I could activate it on my own. I insisted you help me, and then I didn't even need to because Volechek-"
"Sveta," Matthew said reassuringly, rubbing her back through her thick hair. "You didn't insist, you asked. I volunteered to help you. Even if you didn't ask, I would have done anything I could have to help you. It did have a purpose too," he added. "No one knew Volechek would do that. After the fight we didn't even know he could do it. He probably never would have had he not seen how his wonderful sister was willing to risk her life to save everyone else."
"I don't even know that I needed you," Sveta choked out. "I was just afraid to go alone. Maybe I would've needed you, but maybe I wouldn't. But I didn't even try on my own. I knew that if you helped me you were risking yourself, and you had already been exposed to more light than anyone, but I just didn't want to face that on my own."
"I understand," Matthew promised. "Believe me, I understand." He sighed, and wondered how he could reassure this wonderful woman in his arms. "Sveta, you remember how I helped you?"
"How could I forget," she said. "You… you came with me to the lens."
"Do you know how I did that?"
Sveta shook her head. "I'd never seen anything like it."
"I don't know how I did it either," Matthew confessed. "I just knew I had to help you. I wanted to do everything for you. To give you the strength to climb that ladder. To give you the courage to face that light. I wanted to do everything for you. If by helping you, I could make it just a little easier for you to accomplish that, I would, whether we survived or not. And if my help gave you the strength to survive something that would have killed you otherwise, there was no way I could say no, even if it killed me. I had those thoughts. I wanted to do everything, and then it happened."
Sveta sniffed, and her shaking lessened a bit. "You would be willing to die to keep me alive?"
"Yes," Matthew said without hesitating.
"Why would you do that?" she said. "I don't understand you."
"And if you were going to die anyway, then I would want to be with you even more. I can't let you face that alone."
She shook her head. "You're too kind, Matthew. If you do that for all your friends, you'll have no life of your own."
"Not all my friends," he said. He pulled back a little so he could look into Sveta's eyes. "Just you."
Sveta swallowed hard. "Me?"
He nodded, leaning in close. "You." Their noses touched for a moment, and then their lips came together. They stayed like that for a time, just kissing and taking each other in.
"Matthew," Sveta said finally, breaking their kiss.
"I love you Matthew."
He smiled broadly. "I love you too."
As the people of Belinsk waved and begged Matthew to stay, he was highly tempted. The people loved him, their queen loved him, and he loved her. It was a beautiful city, and Morgal would need help in the days to come. Right now, though, he had a mission to finish. But once that was done, there was no reason he couldn't return.
Author's note: Yay! The first chapter of my new ongoing fic is up! Now, in case you were wondering, this does not take place in the same version of things as "Misunderstanding". That is a completely separate, stand-alone story. This does take place in the same version of things as "Learning From the Past". This chapter, as well as the next chapter or two, take place before "Learning From the Past" but this story will go past the events in that one. If you haven't read it, it does have some spoilers for this story (regarding the direction Matthew and Sveta's relationship goes). That one is also a mudshipping fic. Since it takes place in the same continuity as this one, it means mudshipping will happen here too. But it's not going to play a big part in this story, and both stories do completely follow Golden Sun canon to the best of my knowledge. So if you absolutely can't stand mudshipping, you've been warned. If you don't like it, but you do like spiritshipping and like this story so far, you don't have to worry much about it. I'm sorry this chapter is so short. The first two or three chapters of this will likely be pretty short, and after that I expect them to get longer. I plan on releasing a chapter a week. I hate telling people my publishing schedule, because then I feel bad if I don't make it. However, announcing my schedule does give me greater incentive to stick to it. Please review both this and my other stories! Thanks, love you guys!