A/N: I'm terrible at this updating thing. Not sure why, it was never a problem with me before, but suddenly now it is. Anyways, the long, awaited ending (for me) to a story that went on too long and should've stopped at five chapters. Overall, I would say I'm pleased with it. If I had known it was going to go onward through the Goddess battles when I originally started the story, I would've done a lot different. It dragged, it got confusing and a lot of times veered off from where it was supposed to go. I did enjoy doing interactions though, even the fight scenes were fun- I was able to really give in to some creative sides of it. The last few chapters were somewhat disappointing for me, I just got so far between updates and working on it that I just wanted it done and didn't really give it all the time it needed. Changed up the ending too because I hated the ending to Radiant Dawn; I needed closure, so I typed it for myself and anyone who reads this. All in all, I'll give it a good mark for now and check it off as completed.
Sometimes the passing months felt more like years, but they weren't nearly half the difficulty that the aftermath of the Mad King's War had been. It wasn't so much the reconstruction that did her in, but the meetings and conferences with the other countries. They had spent most of the war together, but never once did formalities or treaties even come to mind… They spent their time now focusing on them though. And it was tiring, tedious and more often than not, the end of the meetings left her head buzzing for some kind of relief. She was glad for it though; she appreciated everyone's efforts with the ordeal. They were exhausted enough taking care of their new countries, what with Micaiah and Sothe taking over Daein, Prince Skrimir reigning Gallia, and Prince Kurthnaga protecting Goldoa. She knew what it was like taking over a new country with little to no experience and she admired their efforts to balance the new responsibilities with making treaties as well. At the very least, they knew each other from the campsites and battlefields, so they weren't complete strangers.
It was going well though. With a few more meetings, they would be finished and be able to focus completely on other matters.
She wasn't completely willing to wait that long though. She had matters that needed to be handle almost immediately and she knew they wouldn't go over smoothly. And whether or not those matters would affect the upcoming conferences would depend on how well she handled her actions now.
"Queen Elincia, with all due respect, this council has been over this matter before."
She chuckled lightly at the councilman's response, his tone sounded just as tired and worn down as this topic felt. Still, she was holding over the exhaustion from the meeting three days before, the council could deal with a little repetitive speech. Fingers tapped lightly against her lower lip before she moved to cross her arms over her chest. "That was three years ago. He's a bit more than just a Mercenary now. He defeated the Goddess and helped to save Tellius as a whole; he helped to defend Crimea and saved a few of our forces in the process. Why? Why is this still not good enough?"
Before, she had once asked those questions with a sense of confusion and irritation.
Now, it was almost a game. She would've laughed it off had she not planned ahead for the debate.
The room was silent for a moment and she noted that each of the fifteen councilmen almost dared to roll their eyes at her questions. She didn't blame them if they did, they had their reasons to and she wasn't quite ready to roleplay the part of being an ever-fearing Queen. At least, not yet- if needed be.
"While all of that is a promising list, it still boils down to the fact that he is not of a noble name." another member, Tane, if she remembered his name correctly, spoke.
Ah yes, that old argument. As if she hadn't heard enough of it before.
As she had mentioned though, that argument came three years ago. She had been naïve about this position; she was young and easy to push around… she had let them take that as a victory. Although she didn't really put up the best of fights for it.
And because of that, as far as she was concerned, she drove him away for those following three years.
But she was stronger now, more determined and she knew exactly what she wanted. She wasn't going to make that same mistake again.
"I assure you, that will not be an issue." Elincia spoke as she kept to maintaining her smile from before, while still addressing with a formal voice. "Because, he will have a noble name."
"That's not possible-"
"He'll have mine." she interrupted. "Because I'm marrying him, no matter what. Now, you may bark and whine all you want over this issue, but… I've already gone over the arrangement and you have no say in it. I've already gotten the blessings from Daein, Begnion, Gallia, Goldoa, Hatari and Serenes. In fact, by tradition, the only person who can give me away in marriage would be a relative… this had been an issue before, but perhaps to your dismay, Sir Renning has agreed to do so. Noble name or not, he is a Hero; he has saved my life countless times and… I intend on making him my husband with or without the council's consent."
She could only judge from their facial expressions that it was either shock or disgust that responded to her words. And at this point, she didn't care for which ever one it was. Unfolding her arms, she picked up the loose sheets of paper she had brought with her- most of which were last-minute treaty details she needed to look over- before she made her way out of the room; ushering for Lucia to follow her. The blue-haired woman had been rather silent throughout the ordeal, but judging from her strained expression, it was all because she had been desperate not to burst out laughing in some way.
They barely made it down the corridor before she lost her control.
"Where the hell did that come from?" Lucia questioned between different spurts of laughter.
She had been rather successful with keeping her emotions together, but after watching Lucia break out into laughter... she couldn't help but to share the feeling. Her fingers ran through her loose, Emerald locks, tossing them slightly in her hold as she tried to keep her hands from shaking. "Well… I knew they were going to object to it, so I kind of wrote out a speech beforehand." Elincia started, grinning as she heard Lucia snort lightly before she covered her mouth with her hands. "I mean, I listened to them three years ago and look at what happened. I told myself I would never make that kind of mistake again and I intend to keep my word on it."
"Aww." Lucia mused as she moved to place a hand on her shoulder and gently squeeze it. She gave a comforting smile before she pulled her into a quick hug. "That's beautiful. Don't worry though, you couldn't possibly lose him this time around."
She smiled once more and nodded into her shoulder, before she gently pushed herself free. "You're right. Although, I suppose now… I should go see if he's back from his ride this morning. He said he wouldn't be long."
"Go get him." Lucia chuckled as she pushed her forward. "And while you're dealing with that, I have to go deal with a matter that include Count Bastian and the amount of flowers that are flooding my room right now."
With the end of the War came a lot of new changes and... a lot of old habits.
The palace still ran as it had before- a lot smoother though. Uncle Renning had chosen to simply act as an aid if she ever had any questions or a bodyguard if someone threatened her- or in some cases, if someone looked at her for too long. Lucia kept to balancing all of her previous businesses, although there seemed to be an influx of suitors now who enjoyed sending her gifts. None of them were quite as extravagant as the ones Bastian sent her. And after some long conversations and discussions between the two of them, Lucia decided to take some of her loosely-given advice and give the Count a chance. That only seemed to encourage more gift-giving.
There were still a few skirmishes now and again that the Royal Knights took care of, but when they weren't dealing with those, they focused on training the new recruits. Renning had given Geoffrey a hard time about being the Crimean General, but after a few well-observed battles and Healer visits, the two seemed to be on even ground now. Thankfully. The training sessions seemed to be going well from what little she had seen of them, but Geoffrey had once remarked that the new recruits seemed... uneasy around him. At first, it had been a question of why, but the answer was rather quick to come forward. Marcia and Calill had apparently told a few of the recruits some kind of made up, horror story about the scar on his face and things went from there. They had gotten Danved in on it as well, and despite the heavy rejection of such details from Kieran... the recruits apparently still carried the story with them. Astrid and Makalov had requested some time off once things had settled down, but she had insisted that they take the time now while it was still there. She knew Astrid would want to check in and see how her family was coping in Begnion and she wasn't going to hold her back from that.
It felt like she had walked around the entire palace several times over, checking the front courtyards, the stables, even in several of the wings, before she managed to catch a glimpse of him by chance. That was her one critique of the palace... at times, it was impossible to find the one person she was often looking for in here. Now, whether that was the ever-winding corridors or just him was still up to debate. She heard herself chuckle quietly as she watched him from a distance, noticing the way he was able to keep himself almost perfectly still- more than likely in thought as always. Then again, he was standing in one of the many balconies the palace had to offer and this wing tended to be rather empty at times; so no one was here to disturb him.
With the exception of her.
Drawing in a long breath, she made her way across the adjoining lobby and quieted her footsteps as she neared him. He didn't even turn as her boots clicked briefly against the tiles, stilling her for a moment before she continued onward. Even as she briefly crossed her arms over the thin railing in front of them, he didn't move. He seemed completely at ease; there was no tension in his features, his shoulders were slightly slumped downward and he seemed more concentrated on something in the distance.
Somehow, she still knew that look though.
"Thinking about leaving?" Elincia questioned softly, catching the way he jumped briefly at her words; his relaxed composure broken. She laughed at the quick glance he passed her way before he seemed to let out a heavy sigh of relief.
"No, no, I'm just… thinking, that's all." Ike answered as a brief mutter as he pushed his fingers through his loose bangs.
She gave him a short pause to recollect himself.
"I know that look." she spoke, fingers moving to fiddle with the cuff on one sleeve. "I always said that I would never attempt to tame it."
"And I said that I would settle down if I could do so with you." he countered, almost as though he had predicted what her words were going to be. "… Unless there was a problem with that."
It took her a moment before she smiled once more. "I have that part all under control for the time being. In fact, I just got out of the meeting about it."
He waited for her to continue, only to watch as she simply kept smiling towards him- as though waiting for him to question her first for the rest. It was always just a little game she liked to play with him- it gave her the fun of holding back information and watching him trying to struggle for it. He couldn't deny her the fun of it though. Not to mention, she was getting better and better at it. "And?"
"And… they'll just have to see it my way." she asserted, pushing her shoulders back slightly to look more powerful. "I pretty much told them that if they didn't agree with it, then so be it… but they could lick my boot over it because I'm not going to budge."
Her response ended off differently than expected and he laughed at the sudden change of tone. He pushed himself from the railing and moved to wrap his arm around her slender waist. "There's my Princess." he whispered as he brushed his lips against her forehead. "So… that means we need to work out a date then?"
"Oh no, I figured we could just run off and elope." she offered, almost feeling herself melt under the warm embrace. "It'd be less of a hassle that way."
"As tempting as that is, Titania would kill me for robbing her of her chance to see my wedding." Ike remarked with a bit of a wince at just the thought of what the woman might do. While Titania had been cautious of their relationship at first, the second time around for it seemed to had won her over. She once commented that she knew it was a useless battle to fight the moment she recognized the look they used to pass at one another during the Mad King's War. And while even fighting against the Goddess, she had warned him to watch his steps... she never outright corrected him. She had accepted them a long time before. She had taken Elincia under her wing for some time, taking care of her like she did with the rest of the Mercenaries; providing her with a maternal figure to look to.
She would kill the both of them if they chose to skip out on an elaborate wedding.
"And Renning would kill me for not giving him the chance to walk me down the aisle." Elincia remarked with another brief chuckle. Her Uncle had been weary of Ike the moment he heard her talking about him in... such a familiar tone. Lucia and Bastian certainly didn't help her case with that one, what with the both of them openly talking about their courtship to him. Ike didn't really get to know Renning until the war was over and things were being brought back together. She had organized a few meetings for them and while the first times were awkward, they seemed to get along shortly after. She wasn't sure Renning was completely okay with the proposal, but as he had once said, she had gone through so much hardship already, she needed someone who could make her happy. He was the only one she had left and vice versa; he wouldn't dare miss the opportunity to see their family grow once again. "So… we're really going to do this then?"
"Getting cold feet already?"
"What? No, no… of course not." she assured before she moved to lean back against the railing. "It's just, you know… I remember the first day we met. I remember all those days we spent together, all the things you used to tell me to make me feel better. And then the war was over and so were we." she paused slightly and watched as he moved to lean in next to her. "For three years, it was a hassle to get anything done; I used to be so exhausted at the end of the day that I'd just fall asleep in my desk right there. Sometimes I'd be thankful for the work because it used to keep my mind off of you… not all the time, but occasionally. And then this war started and we were side to side again. I tried to keep to my role as Queen, I tried to make this country proud, but… it was killing me. Because in order to do so, lawfully, I'd have to forget about you overall. And I couldn't do that. Then things turned out the way they did and I found out that it didn't matter, nothing ever did. I was just to scared to look at it head on. But that's not the case anymore and it… it feels great."
He listened intently to her words, expecting to find something hidden in them. "So… what's the issue then?"
"There is no issue, I told you that." she reminded. "I just get so caught up in wondering what it's going to be like coming home to you every day."
"You terrify me sometimes, Lady Crimea."
"I don't try to- although it's not hard." she added quickly.
He shook his head at her teased words. "Well, don't worry, you'll have an answer to your question soon enough. Although I should warn you that I'm not all that entertaining to come home to. I'll probably be asleep by the time you get home after all of your royal business."
"Ah see, as the newly appointed spouse to the Crimean Queen, you're required to accompany me to every royal conference there is." she corrected. "So get used to the endless traveling, the endless talking, the endless arguing and then coming back so you can repeat it all over again the next day."
He held a moment of silence before he let out a long sigh and pushed his fingers through his bangs once more. "Ah well… there are worse things I could be doing. At least I can argue with people that I know- and it's better than hanging out with Boyd and Ranulf all the time."
"Well, be prepared for the awkward questions." Elincia warned. "Like, when's the wedding? When's your first born? What's it like… in the bedroom? Be prepared for that last question quite a bit. You'd think we'd spend our time more wisely at some of those conferences. And Goddess knows I could've gotten by without all the details from last time."
"Tell them that the wedding's in a few months, give or take the actual planning and coordination of it. As for the first born, we're still working on it-" he started, laughing when she dug her elbow underneath his ribcage in an attempt to silence him. "As for the last question-"
"Tell them it's nothing that can be described- only experienced."
Her elbow struck him again, harder this time and with enough force that he tilted himself away from her; one hand moving to tend to the now tender area. "Perhaps we should reconsider this marriage thing." she remarked with a brief chuckle.
"You'd still rather have me as a Master of some sort than as a husband?" he asked.
"Whichever option keeps you out of my hair." she replied.
"I don't think it's your hair you should be worried about."
With a subtle push, she straightened herself up and removed her weight from the railing. "This was a lovely conversation we had, I'm glad we talked, but… now I must go inform Uncle Renning of the recent updates on this matter." she started, as she tried to ignore his attempts to stifle his own laughter.
He shook his head as he managed to clear himself up before he moved to follow her. "You're right, he would appreciate the news. Can we still have him joust at the reception?"
"I said no the first time and it's still a no."
"What if I get Geoffrey to agree?"
"No. And no to anyone else you'd be able to influence."
He shook his head at her quick ability to deny any other possibilities he might've had in his head- she always seemed to be able to do that. She must've learned to do so after all that time together during the War. He guessed he would have to get used to it or find a way around it eventually. There was plenty of time for that later though. Stepping forward to catch up with her as she moved into the adjoining room, he caught her by the arm and carefully pulled her around to him. "Asides from a brief meeting with Duke Renning, is there anything else you have planned for the day?"
"Not unless the council wish to grapple over this topic of marriage once more." she answered, before she caught the brief look in his eyes. She knew that look well, but still convinced herself that it was nothing more than innocent- although she couldn't deny the pressing grin on her lips. "Why? Do you wish to make plans?"
"Something like that."
Of course he would leave her with that kind of thought.
"Once I finish speaking with Uncle Renning and getting his consent once more... I'll come find you."