The morning air was brisk with frozen humidity. The clouds couldn't decide whether to precipitate or let their wet insides fester. Cordelia stood before him, bright eyes alight with unshed tears. She was unsure, much like the clouds, whether to let them fall. She was his nation's most legendary woman – alive woman – and if she succumbed to joyous tears, the rest of Ylisse would follow.

Her hair fell in ringlets about her shoulders; she had been primed and preened for this momentous occasion. She was the blazing fire to his cold indifference, and her smile was more radiant than anything that had ever graced him.

She's beautiful. Truly, beautiful.

But the pang of guilt never subsided, even though the guilt was irrational. It had already smothered his soul long ago, and Cordelia was the only thing that dammed its advances from the rest of his being.

"Every day, I ask myself: 'Nocht, what have you done to deserve someone who makes your heart beat with more fury than a Pegasus' wings? How did you end up with the greatest man in all Ylisse: he who can make you laugh and sing without even trying, who can make your tears evaporate and replace them with a warmth the likes of which your soul can barely contain?' You are my life, Chrom. Without you to hold me up, I would surely have fallen apart."

He cursed himself. She's gone now. Been that way for five years. Everyone had moved on.

Despite what he had promised her, despite the determination he had felt that day, he had finally given up. He was tired of waking with no one by his side – so very tired of watching as the earth kept turning without her. Without Nocht, no person alive could keep the Shepherds together. One by one, hope dwindled and dissipated. It was abandoned to the swirling churn of the Great Eddy, the ever present turning of the Earth.

Chrom had realized it was Kellam, first, who had left. Then, Panne and Gregor. No amount of respect for him, the king, could make them stay. Only their love for Nocht. Eventually, Henry and Lissa left - his own sister. Frederick, his closest friend, followed suit with Sumia. They had all abandoned the search: they could move on. They needed to. Even he had begun to lose hope. His promise to Nocht seemed naïve and ridiculous, for his hope was already evaporating. It only took him five years to finally realize he had none left.

The priest looked at him expectantly. Shaking, Chrom threw himself off the precipice into the black abyss below, and murmured, "I do."

Author's Note:

Thanks for reading! I'm going through and editing this story, so if you notice that my grammar in subsequent chapters is worse than what you've experienced in this chapter, then don't worry, because I'm trying to fix it. Come back in a few weeks: you'll notice some minor changes (in punctuation, sentence structure, etc.) which will likely have increased readability. Or, if you don't mind my stereotypical misuse of semi-colons . . . then I guess there's no problem, there :P Again, thank you! (6/2/2015)