islands in the sea
epilogue - today we had love

What started with a knock on the door of his office ended up changing his life.

Every day that he wakes up to sunshine, the salty smell of the ocean in the air, and a tangle of red and white hair on the pillow beside him is like something out of a dream. In the year that has passed since moving to the island, not once has Hubert risen out of his bed in a bad mood.

Most days are the same, and he doesn't mind that. He enjoys the routine because it's a better one than he had before - a routine that had left him alone and miserable in the Oswell manor or tied down to his desk in the city. Now he rises automatically shortly after dawn, pressing a kiss to his wife's cheek or forehead before leaving their bedroom. He bathes, dresses, and combs his hair, and by the time he is finished and goes to the kitchen for breakfast, Pascal is out of bed - though not usually fully awake - and feeding the baby. They have breakfast together and then he's off to work, walking half a mile through the sand along the coastline until he arrives at the military base on the other side of the island.

As colonel, he never sits still. There is always something to do: the Sol Islands military force is an almost entirely mobile unit, and they assist with a variety of tasks both inside and outside of Strahta. They go to the mainland to eradicate newly discovered nests of vicious monsters, assist with the construction of housing on other islands, accompany important visitors to and from their destinations on each of the isles, and occasionally travel to Fendel or Windor to help with their own military efforts. Hubert also overlooks the research and development that occurs within the laboratory on Thetis, now populated by a handful of engineers and Amarcians - but they are in good hands without him, considering that a certain Mrs. Oswell has become the director of laboratory operations.

He works until the afternoon and comes home about an hour before Pascal, who arrives shortly after him with their daughter in a sling on her back or cradled in the crook of one arm. He's not sure exactly how she persuaded Dylan Paradine to allow her to take their child to work with her, but he thinks the president - and probably half of Strahta, for that matter - would do anything for the sake of Tessa Oswell. Their little girl is only four months old and already well-known, and every time Hubert ventures back into Yu Liberte, crowds gather to see the child who is expected to one day be nothing less than a prodigy, "just like her parents."

They spend their evenings together, eating dinner, relaxing, and occasionally seeing guests. Malik and Fourier visit almost every week, first separately and then together; Fourier always claims this is because it's convenient and pretends not to notice the enormous grin on Malik's face. Poisson is also a frequent visitor, and Asbel, Cheria, and Sophie come once a month, recently for the sole purpose of fawning over the baby. Garrett Oswell eventually visits, too - reluctantly - but he is surprisingly polite and apparently impressed by the life his adopted son has made for himself, and ends up as charmed by Tessa's bright amber eyes and happy, toothless smile as the rest of the world.

Marriage and motherhood haven't changed Pascal very much; she's perhaps a bit neater, especially when it comes to Tessa's things, and when the baby is napping she's careful not to raise her voice, but she's otherwise the same lively, spontaneous, and insanely intelligent woman Hubert fell in love with years before. If anyone has changed, it's him: he's loosened up, learned to relax, and has even made attempts to change his rigid and occasionally cold manner of speaking. His soldiers sometimes comment that he's a new man, thanks to his wife, and he doesn't bother to deny it. He barely even remembers what his life was like before Pascal came into it. It was much more quiet, certainly... but it was also dull and boring, and he hadn't been happy.

He wouldn't trade the world for this, he thinks, sitting up in bed on the first anniversary of his move to the island. Sunshine is creeping in through the windows and he hears the faint sound of birds chirping in the trees behind the house. Pascal is beside him with their daughter cradled in her arms, both of them sleeping soundly, unaware that a new day is beginning. Hubert watches them sleep and smiles, and he's glad that it was her he'd been stranded with - that it will always be her by his side, that he will never lose her again, come hell or high water. No matter what happens they will always be together, at home on their little island in the middle of the sea.

author's note: I can't believe I finished it! Oh, man. When I first got this idea I didn't think I would finish it, but I saw it through to the end and now here we are. After the futatsu boshi series I really thought I was done writing hupasu chapterfics, but nope... /laugh

I want to say thanks to everybody who's been reading this series. Some of you have left me reviews after every chapter, and I can't even begin to explain how much that means to me. And for you silent readers, pipe up and lemme know what you thought, yeah? This thing was torture, and I'm so glad it's over, but I'm even more glad to see that so many people have been enjoying it.

I'd like to dedicate this fic to my friend Elle, because she's awesome. You all have her to thank for harassing me constantly about islands, trying to get me to finish it so I'll go back to writing her delicious MalikxFourier smut... ;)

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!