And... This is the last chapter. Though I like to write multiple fanfics in the same AU, I'm pretty much done with this one other than a one-shot about the Lord of Nightmares and Bernkastel that I'm not sure I'll post. If I do, it'll be in a crossover category, though it'll lean heavy on one fandom and not really be a fair 'crossover', just like this story. Still, I thought I'd note it to watch out for in case anyone would be interested.
I do plan to write more actual Slayers fanfiction, even though another fandom has my attention for drafting stories at the moment. If I ever do finish/post another Xellos/Filia story, keep in mind it'll be different in a lot of ways from this one, though it'll still be me with my interpretations so not completely so. Canon as a backstory, which I'd want my next Xellos/Filia story to have, would change how that manifests though.
Xellos had been ordered by Filia to stay home in bed and rest. He knew it wouldn't make much difference if he did or not, but followed her instructions to stay, as his master had also ordered it. Filia was out and about at the moment, as she was the majority of the time, helping to repair the temple which was almost unrecognizable at this point. In addition to Valgaav's attack, the phenomenon caused when Xellos had cause further damage to many buildings around them. Still being loyal to her clan, Filia was kept busy.
When she came home, Filia made Xellos lie still and silent and prayed nearby him for hours until she fell asleep. Xellos hadn't be sure if it really worked at first, but just as his master said, it was starting to purge the excess miasma that plagued him. Eventually, he started to feel less sluggish, and was rather bored with just playing the sick person in bed alone, particularly that day, when he felt almost back to normal.
"Feeling better, Xellos?"
Xellos saw Bernkastel next to him, and sat up. "I was just wishing for company," he said. "Would you like some tea, then?"
"Fine then, I'll drink your badly-made tea," Bernkastel said. "What kind do you have?"
As if Bernkastel were a true being, Xellos explained the small selection. Bernkastel scowled as she made her choice. Xellos still made her the tea, and then sat across from her. "So, what brings you here, Bernkastel-sama?"
"I imagine your creator god is very displeased with you at this moment, Xellos. I came to tell to that in her place, since she can't interact with her creations very effectively," Bernkastel said.
"Is she?" Xellos said casually. "I wonder, was that even the great mother of all things that I spoke to? Despite existing in some sense, I do realize that you're a being of illusions, Bernkastel-sama. Was 'L-sama' just another of those illusions?"
"Hmph. What do you think, Xellos?" Bernkastel said.
Xellos didn't find her answer in question form very telling. It was likely she'd never reveal to him the answer. Even if she did, he couldn't really believe her for certain, so it didn't make much difference. Xellos shrugged. "Beast Master-sama believes that the being I met called L-sama was a meaningless delusion, and it was part of my illness that I listened to it."
"Yes, I can't say I don't like that master of your's," Bernkastel began. "Breaking apart people's beliefs is a hobby of mine, and she gave an amusing attempt. But it didn't work, did it? I know you're only acting as if you shared her perception. Why don't you share your own with me?"
Xellos nodded. He wouldn't share this with anyone else, but knew his witch 'friend' was a being that could speak to no one other than him in this world. "I do believe that 'L-sama' was the great mother of all things."
"Oh? How interesting. I suspected as such. You also still believe in me, I wouldn't have been able to appear in front of you like this if you didn't."
"I do," Xellos admitted. "I would kindly request you no longer appear in front of me. I know it deepens my sickness when I speak with you, and if I would continue to possibly burden Beast Master-sama with my illness, I would have to take steps to purge myself of my beliefs of you."
"Fine, so is that the deal, Xellos? I no longer speak with you, and you'll continue to believe in me?" Bernkastel said.
"I would be gratified if you'd agree to such, Bernkastel-sama," Xellos said, taking another sip of his tea.
"I might agree to that, I might not," Bernkastel said. "But tell me why you'd agree to such a thing? You know then you'll continue to be my vessel, don't you? Won't you be betraying L, then?"
"I don't believe so," Xellos said. "Though the mazoku race will eventually destroy the world, there's no telling when that will be. Since we're suffering from the results of not only the Koma War, but not Valgaav's recent attack, it may take a while. I'm a mazoku that lives a long time, but your vessels in other worlds were humans, weren't they? I'm afraid their life spans are far shorter than mine, so you may not have the resources you need when the end finally appears."
"I will have those resources. I'll replace all my vessels if they're eliminated, including you. I'm a being with infinite time to do so," Bernkastel said.
"I see. I'll wish you luck with that then, Bernkastel-sama," Xellos said.
"Cheering for me instead of your creator then?" Bernkastel asked.
"Oh no, not at all. I don't believe my creator's will could be so easily defied," Xellos said.
"Why not? You did it," Bernkastel pointed out. "You accepted your direct master's will over your creator's."
"But there's a fallacy in that thinking, Bernkastel-sama. You see, L-sama admits she purposefully created the mazoku race, that we fit her intentions perfectly. It's our nature to serve our masters loyally. I would fail her intentions by not doing so, and I indeed failed her by not realizing that."
"Wouldn't it have been too late, going through that hierarchy?"
"There's no way to know what would have happened then. That would be for a being like you to discover, hm?" Xellos said.
"If I was interested," Bernkastel said.
"Yes. But if we're considering what-ifs, also consider that I may not even have been powerful enough to complete the task. Beast Master-sama believes that even if I were allowed to continue, I couldn't have properly eliminated existence. If I'd only greatly damaged the world without destroying it, and then aggression toward mazoku would have increased. That's why Beast Master-sama had to stop me. We hardly need more animosity." Xellos sat back, sighed and laughed. "It embarrasses me that I was so conceited as to think I might accomplish the mazoku race's goal all on my own!"
"So the flaw is in you, not L," Bernkastel said.
"Of course," Xellos said.
"Even though you're a part of her perfect race," Bernkastel continued.
"It's the whole that will bring about perfect destruction. As a piece on my own I'm terribly flawed," Xellos said.
"Well, I'd agree with that," Bernkastel said. "I'll leave you to believe as you wish, Xellos. People will find reasons for any belief if they look long enough, and I know you will. Just be sure those beliefs include my existence."
"And of course they will," Xellos said. "You know, Bernkastel-sama, the idea of your miracle does appeal to me at times."
"Oh?" Bernkastel said, raising her eyebrows. "If only you were this naïve to begin with."
"I'm hardly naïve. I know I have to deal with reality as it is, but the idea of a different Galen being allowed to live beyond that day does appeal to me, even provide me with comfort at times. Our great mother really was at conflict with her love and hate for the world. If she did change her mind and allow your repeating worlds, do you think that could really happen?"
"Easily enough," Bernkastel said. "He's in a lot of dangerous situations, but there's no threat directed specifically at him at that point in the story. I don't think it would even qualify as a miracle to have him survive."
"Would that make it outside your realm of interest, then?" Xellos asked.
"Oh, no. Because simply living past that day, even with a normal human lifespan wouldn't mean a happy ending. There are many possibilities for tragedy after that. Just think about it from your own point of view to start. Your son was being raised to worship the gods that oppose your kind. He'd grow up to hate you and be your enemy. Does something like that leave a bad taste in your mouth?" Bernkastel smirked as she spoke.
"Would he? I'm not sure I agree that would happen, but if he made that choice, I'd have to just accept it. He's also a being with free will," Xellos said.
"Oh? Don't think I find accepting the suffering of a different version of yourself to be noble," Bernkastel said.
"I'm not really accepting it. I don't think that would be the conclusion. You wouldn't know yourself until you were able to see the kind of world where Galen-san lives to adulthood, would you?" Xellos asked.
Bernkastel smirked. "You think you can manipulate me to do what you want, Xellos? How distasteful of you." Bernkastel paused, taking another sip of her tea. She sighed and spoke again. "Well, I may go ahead and search for that kind of fragment just to crush your hopes. It might cure my boredom for a moment."
"Thank you, Bernkastel-sama," Xellos said. "I really do wish you luck, but it's our great mother's approval that you'll need, not luck."
"Maybe. Oh well," Bernkastel said.
The witch left abruptly without any salutations. The childish abruptness was her nature, Xellos knew. He also realized that his imaginary friend may no longer be keeping him company, and felt a bit of loneliness. She had been cruel and coarse in her conversations, but served the purpose of keeping him company when no one else would, even if it was only for her own intentions. Xellos cleaned up and shrugged to himself, soon getting over it.
Filia decided she had finished her work for the day. This plan for recovery was entirely her making, and she'd been both surprised and pleased at how her clan had accepted it. With their numbers dwindling, her earned status was becoming more and more respected. Now she just had to follow through, and Filia was determined to put it as much or even more effort than anyone else. The project would take a lot of time and energy, and she didn't want anyone to think it had been something she'd mapped out on paper only with the intention for others to follow through. She'd exemplify the perseverance that was necessary.
At the same time, Filia thought, she was nursing one of their enemies back to health. Filia felt guilty even as she looked forward to seeing Xellos again. Her clan would judge her harshly if they knew, wouldn't they?
Well, let them, Filia decided. She wouldn't confess it, but she wouldn't hide it or let herself feel shamed for it if she were ever found out. Xellos had done horrible things, but so had they. Even if Xellos himself didn't support peace, Filia felt she supported that ideal by caring for him.
She also wanted to for her own reasons. Though performing the rituals only piled onto her exhaustion, Filia looked forward to seeing him each day. She sincerely hoped she could heal him, no matter what the consequences for that might be.
As Filia returned to her home and transformed back into her human form, Xellos walked up to her. "Welcome home, Filia-san," he said.
"Xellos, I have to eat, so go lie down. I'll be there in a moment."
"There's no more need for that, Filia-san, though I do thank you for you help," Xellos said.
"No Xellos, you can't give up," Filia said. "I'll still do everything I can to help you."
"I'm not. Beast Master-sama was here before, and she agreed with me. My astral form has healed, it's back to the shape it should be. Any more of your rituals, and I'll just be weakened, not helped."
Filia was silent for a moment. She'd hoped this day would come, but what he said still filled her with unease. "I see," Filia finally said. "So I'm done, am I?"
"Yes. I really do have to thank you, Filia-san. I was able to heal so quickly only because you were by my side."
Xellos put his hand on Filia's, and she quickly pulled away. "I'll have more time now for the rest of my duties now," she said.
"Your hard work is admirable, but why not take the extra time to rest now? I'd keep you company."
"For how long?!" Filia demanded. "A few days before your master takes you away?"
"Well... Beast Master-sama has still ordered me to stay here for now, but I do imagine she'll be putting me to work again very soon," Xellos said.
"And then I'll just be by myself," Filia said. She knew she couldn't have Xellos all to herself, though she wanted him. That was the truth. His nature demanded absolute loyalty to who had created him. Though he had recently wavered in that loyalty, Filia knew his unaffected mind had always remained loyal to Zelas. Xellos stayed with Filia of his own will, but Zelas's instructions would always override that. So yes, she'd be alone. Tears began to form in her eyes from her frustrations. Galen wouldn't be back, and now that Xellos no longer needed to be taken care of, he'd go as well. She'd completely lose her makeshift family.
Xellos wrapped her arms around Filia. "Don't think that way. Even if I'm not around, you're respected by the remaining members of your clan, aren't you? And the humans of that town were easily charmed by you. You won't be alone, Filia-san," Xellos said.
"But I don't want to lose you, Xellos," Filia admitted.
"I don't want that either, Filia-san. I love you."
Filia was silent. She wanted to believe those words, the ones she'd rejected upon hearing before. She knew that Xellos also desperately wanted her to believe them. It may be out of deceit or what Zelas described as an 'illness', but Filia could also assume that desperation was truly out of love. The latter would be a much more appealing option. Filia really did want to accept it as the truth. So, thinking of the times Xellos had been there for her, including that exact moment, she decided she would.
Filia turned around and hugged Xellos. "I know you love me," she said. "But your master's wishes are still your top priority, isn't she?"
"Yes, as they have to be. But from the start, Beast Master-sama never really ordered me not to pursue my relationship with you. As long as I properly perform my duties, such trivial things don't concern her much. I won't abandon you, Filia-san. I'll be in your life as long as you wish it."
"I do wish it," Filia declared.
Xellos's smile was genuine this time. He knew much could still go wrong in their relationship, and that Filia-san could still reject him for a more appropriate mate. But at the moment he was winning her affection, and would continue to fight for it. As long as the world continued to exist, he'd persist in his love. As flawed and weak as the illusionary idea was, he'd continue to believe in it.