Epilogue 3: Living
One afternoon, Illya was thoughtfully reading through some magazines. She observed the long dresses the models were wearing with a keen eye before suddenly speaking up.
“Arturia, when you will get married, can I help you choose your dress? And will you let me and Rin do your hair? You would look absolutely stunning!”
Arturia almost dropped what she had in her hand, completely astonished.
Before she could reply, however, Gilgamesh snorted.
“She does not need that, Illya. She does not need to be dressed fancifully to be beautiful.”
It took the woman all her self-control not to redden, while Illya, quickly recovering from his unexpected intervention, clapped with a thrilled expression on her face.
“You two are just so great together, Arturia! I wish that later in my life I’ll find someone who loves me as much as Gilgamesh loves you!”
Managing to suppress another unwanted blush, the King of Knights changed the subject, bringing up the preparation of Rin’s birthday cake for the following day.
Arturia thought she had successfully diverted the attention from herself, but she realized it wasn’t quite the case as soon as Illya had left to go buy the ingredients for all the sweets they were going to bake.
Gilgamesh was giving her a very smug smile, and there was a devious light in his eyes.
“Be grateful that I did not specify this in front of the girl… but you don’t need to be dressed at all to be beautiful.”
This time the blush was impossible to suppress.
She looked up from the pot where she was simultaneously stirring soup and teaching Illya how to do it.
“Will I have to move out when you and Gilgamesh have kids?”
Arturia’s eyes widened but, luckily, she was not holding anything in her hand – except for the ladle, which was inside the pot –, otherwise she would have dropped it.
Gilgamesh wasn’t as lucky. He was sitting on a chair with a book and it almost fell on the floor. His reflexes were fast, though, and he grasped it back in time.
There was a long silence, until Arturia spoke, slowly, “You will never be forced to leave, Illya, that I can promise.”
“About having kids… I am not sure I want to know what gave you such an idea.”
“You mean, you don’t want to have children?”
Another very awkward silence followed. Illya seemed to realize she had asked something a bit inappropriate and too personal, and looked embarrassed as she apologized. Arturia, however, reassured her, and the girl went to call Rin because it was almost time to eat, leaving the room quietly.
Arturia did not turn towards Gilgamesh, immersed in her thoughts.
Illya’s question about children had taken her aback.
She, of all people? Becoming a mother?
There was something outrageously wrong in that.
And Gilgamesh becoming a father?
Oh. Well… mmm.
Suddenly a pair of strong arms went around her waist and Gilgamesh’s chin was on her shoulder. It was obvious to what he was referring when he spoke.
“I was quite interested in hearing your answer, Arturia.”
She stopped stirring and stilled in his arms. His mouth went to her ear.
“Don’t tell me that you never thought about it.”
Her answer was truthful.
“I did not.”
She had never considered the idea of having children. She had only recently begun to accept the idea of being in a relationship, for heaven’s sake! She was not going further than that. At least not immediately.
And who had ever said that having children was the next step to take?
Her voice was serious as she spoke again, weighing her words carefully.
“Having children should be a choice, Gilgamesh. A mutual choice that two people make.”
He hummed slightly in her ear.
That surprised her. She turned her head slightly to look into his eyes.
Before she could question him about it, he continued, “Until I know your thoughts on the subject and you know mine, there is no choice to make. Would you not agree with me as well, King of Knights?”
It was in such moments that she really could see not only how much he had changed – and for the better –, but also how much she had come to love him. She smiled, relaxed and leaned into his embrace, beginning to stir again.
“I do agree, King of Heroes.”
In another room of the house, Illya related to Rin what had happened. The Tohsaka heir scolded her for her words, because they both knew that it was very likely a delicate subject for two people who had already lived an entire life, became Heroic Spirits and then were given a new chance in the modern world.
But, after agreeing not to ask anything else to their guardians, the girls talked about it among themselves. The four of them were already a family, in many ways, and if the two adults decided to expand it… it would not be something unwelcome.
Rin and Illya loved living with Gilgamesh and Arturia, and they would not have minded things remaining as they were, but should the adults choose to have children, they would be very happy about it, too. The two kings were more than capable of being parents, in their opinion. Illya especially could not help thinking about how Arturia had been – and still was – even more than a mother figure, to her first and to Rin later, and how Gilgamesh, even if much less warm as a person than Arturia, deep down cared about them and looked out for them in more ways than one.
Therefore, no matter what the adults’ decision was going to be – and it was not the wards’ place to interfere in it –, the girls would respect it.
After two years in Tokyo, the four of them decided the time was right to move back to Fuyuki. The remodelling of the Tohsaka mansion was not completed yet – at least, it wasn’t done the way Gilgamesh and Rin wanted it to be – therefore they went to stay at the Einzbern house in the middle of the city. Illya had missed her brother, and Rin had missed her sister, and now they could be together again. The four children often spent entire afternoons in each other’s company.
A matter that had already been addressed, but only briefly, was discussed between Arturia and Gilgamesh again. They talked about the possibility of them taking up an actual job in the modern world. To be fair, there was no actual need for them to do such a thing: the Einzbern and Tohsaka fortunes were large enough to allow them to look after the rightful heirs without any fears for the future, and they never indulged in meaningless expenses. However, to fit better into the society, Arturia thought that it might be beneficial to have a job.
The main problem was that for almost every job a qualification of some kind was required. The two kings knew that it would not be hard for them to enlist to a university and obtain a degree, but it was something that needed quite some time. So they opted for more inconspicuous things… things they involuntarily did and that helped them in socializing.
After Rin decided to take up archery and gave demonstrations of the techniques they taught her, Gilgamesh unexpectedly showed up at that class a few days later. In front of everyone at school, he made biting comments on the methods that were being used, pointing out with accuracy everything that was wrong with them. However, he also explained the correct way of mastering the necessary skills, and when he had finished, he simply motioned for Rin to come because it was time to go home. The girl later told him that he had made a deep impression on both the students and the teachers, and all his instructions had been followed immediately.
Arturia, after discovering that Taiga helped at kendo class, offered to assist her. At first the brown-haired woman had been politely doubtful, but she had soon changed her mind after seeing the flawless way in which the King of Knights was able to use the katana.
The petite blonde woman had quickly become popular among the students for her elegant countenance and her regal manners. Gilgamesh, after hearing of that from a chatty Taiga, had made sure to go with her, with one arm possessively and securely placed around her waist, and his aura had been threatening enough to make everyone keep a respectful distance, especially because the classy way in which he had verbally devastated the archery lesson had not yet been forgotten.
Many girls about Rin’s age stole glances at Gilgamesh when he passed next to their classes… and Arturia did not fail to notice. Very casually, she allowed him to strengthen his hold on her by putting her arm around him as well. The King of Heroes was not the only one who could be possessive.
Being often at school allowed Arturia to get to know most of the teachers, and together with the two girls she lived with, she often took part in volunteering works. In such a way, she could get to know more people and inconspicuously observe the environment in which the girls grew up. And that helped her look out for their future, allowing them to continue with their life peacefully.
As soon as Illya turned eighteen, Arturia was ready to give her the reins of the Einzbern heritage, which had prospered in the meantime… but the girl refused, because she knew that Arturia was very good at running that business and had her best interest in mind. The woman protested, knowing that it was Illya’s rightful possession.
So the two found a compromise. The status of the Einzbern possessions was not going to change until Illya turned twenty-one; from that point onwards, the girl and the woman would have joint legal power over the legacy. Arturia still found it a little unfair, believing that her ward deserved more, but Illya would not budge. For the white-haired girl, Arturia would always be someone half-way between an older sister and a mother… and she trusted her, utterly and completely.
A year later, Rin became of age as well. She made with Gilgamesh the same arrangement Illya had made with Arturia – neither of the two girls had the desire to control their patrimony, at least not until they were a little older, and even then, they would share the ownership.
Soon after her birthday, the black-haired girl told Gilgamesh and Arturia that she wished to go to London, to the Mage’s Association, to learn more about other Magi and therefore complete her education, becoming an expert in magic. It would be about a year of apprenticeship.
Gilgamesh was not pleased with the idea of the girl leaving, but only Arturia knew him well enough to see it. And she gently reassured him that it was only going to be for a very specific period of time.
Illya intended to leave for a year as well – but she would to go to Germany, to the hotel with the homunculi. She wanted to learn how to run such a place, and eventually become its legit manager.
The two kings brought both girls to Germany, where they left Illya at the Einzbern hotel, and then they continued towards London with Rin.
When the former Heroic Spirits brought the girl to the Mage’s Association, they saw Waver Velvet once again, and introduced him to the Tohsaka heir. They wished Rin good luck and reminded her to keep in touch with them regularly, and also with Illya in Germany and Sakura in Fuyuki.
As soon as the girl was on her way for the first classes she had to attend, they addressed Rider’s former Master again. Arturia asked him to look out for Rin, at least from a distance. More bluntly, Gilgamesh reminded him that he owed them because they had destroyed the Atram Galiast menace. The King of Knights did not approve of such a reminder, which was too similar to a threat for her tastes, but she knew that he was saying that for the girl’s sake.
Very sombrely, after asking him to make sure Rin was safe, the King of Heroes looked Waver in the eye.
“Prove to me – and to yourself – that you are still as worthy of my respect as you were during the war.”
Arturia was glad about his words – he showed that he cared about his ward. However, she was no longer surprised by it… she had learned to see how much he had changed.
As their wards were occupied in different countries for a year, often calling – as Arturia recognized both with pride and melancholy, they were growing up –, the two kings had some time for themselves.
And they did not dislike that.
They could travel again, on their own, without the girls. Even though they were very fond of them, some time to be alone was something they both appreciated.
They planned to all reunite in Japan the following year, around the time Sakura would come of age as well, and in the meantime, the two former Heroic Spirits could spend their time around the world the way they preferred… together.
They were sitting in the grass under a majestic tree on top of a hill, in the Middle East, in the Fertile Crescent that had once been known as Mesopotamia. They had just finished their late afternoon picnic meal, and were simply enjoying their free time.
Arturia was gazing into the distance, looking at the landscape with interest. She had never seen such places.
Gilgamesh stared at her intently, as a gentle breeze blew around them.
They were residing at a hotel for the time of their stay – a very luxurious hotel, of course – and, for once, he had not found anything to complain about.
The place was certainly well kept… and the bed sheets were soft. Very soft. A slight smirk appeared on his lips as his mind lingered on how they had spent the previous night between those soft sheets…
…and then his thoughts brought him back to the present, on the woman in front of him.
As elegant as ever. As fascinating as ever. As beautiful as ever. And more precious than ever.
He could not stop himself. He leaned forward slightly, one of his hands going to cup her cheek and caress it. She turned towards him, a little startled, and he took advantage of the closeness to capture her lips with his, kissing her deeply but also surprisingly very tenderly, his other hand going around her waist to pull her closer to him.
She shut her eyes, responding to his touch.
When they separated, he could see her slowly open her eyes again. There was a questioning light in her green gaze. It was not unusual for him to randomly kiss her – she did it too, sometimes –, but not in such a gentle and caring and loving way.
He knew she expected him to explain his unfamiliar behaviour – and he leaned forward, to rest his forehead against hers. One of his hands was still around her waist, while the other was caressing her face. They were very close.
Slowly, he allowed his hand to sink in her long, blonde hair. She had chosen to leave it unbound that day – a rare occurrence, of which he was going to take full advantage, even though he loved undoing her chignon himself.
His voice was low, but every word was clear as he spoke.
“Will you become my wife?”
Her expression went from puzzled to understanding and then to gently accepting.
“Do you need me to be your wife?”
He almost smiled… and without his usual smugness.
“No. But I would like you to be.”
The corners of her lips tilted upwards in a smile as well.
“I thought that changing our surnames already meant that we were tied to each other.”
They had indeed changed their documents with the help of the homunculi, because after the destruction of the Grail they seemed to have begun to age, even if more slowly than normal humans. Such a thing did not really matter to them, but since they needed the legal documents to be corresponding to their appearance, they had created new ones… with new names.
They still had their previous names, but both had a new surname added.
Which literally meant ‘life of long days’, or, as Gilgamesh preferred, ‘found long life’. Each of them had found a long life… there could not be anything more appropriate.
But that was not relevant for the matter at hand.
He almost scoffed.
“I do not care about the mongrels’ laws and formalities when it comes to this kind of things. I want to know your answer. Will you be my wife, Arturia?”
She smiled a little, tilting her head to the side slightly.
Then she leaned forward and, surprising him, pressed her lips to his, in a chaste but heartfelt gesture.
“You know that I will, Gilgamesh.”
His arms enveloped her body, pulling her closer to him so that she had no choice but sit in his lap.
They had already talked about marriage many years before, in Germany, when she had very resolutely and with good reason – though perhaps a little impolitely – rejected him and insulted him heavily. And back then, she had been more than justified in her reproaches. But now…
His lips were against hers again, in a replica of the way she had kissed him a few seconds before. Then his mouth descended to her neck, and nibbled the skin softly, making her shiver.
They knew that they did not need a wedding ceremony, or rings, or a huge party, or any other type of thing. All Gilgamesh had been asking was if she agreed to be his wife – for him to know, not really for the rest of the world. The only people they truly cared about, Illya and Rin, were already aware of the fact that they were together, so… nothing else was actually needed.
She suddenly pushed him away gently, ending the pleasurable contact of his lips with her neck. She narrowed her eyes at him, while his expression was questioning.
“Know that this does not change anything, substantially speaking. As a person, I am a king… not a wife.”
His hands were unmoving around her waist, and his face leaned closer to hers.
“You are not a wife… but my wife. And, even as you become my queen… you are still one of the greatest kings in the world.”
His lips were back on hers, and this time, the kiss was unrestrained on both parts.
After the year of learning was over, Arturia and Gilgamesh went to pick up Rin in London and went with her to Germany. From there, they were taking a plane with Illya to go back to Japan.
Arturia had felt… normal in the years following the Grail’s destruction. She had enjoyed her time in the modern world before that event as well, but there had always been the shadow of the corrupt artefact over her head. Now she could instead be more relaxed and actually be normal.
Looking at the man sitting next to her on the airplane, she couldn’t help wondering at how things had come to be the way they were. Twelve years before, when the Fourth Grail War had ended, she had not had the slightest intention to get to know the arrogant and prideful man that was the King of Heroes… least of all accept to become his wife.
He had certainly changed over the years, but she had as well… and she noticed it on the plane.
An elderly couple addressed them, complimenting Gilgamesh – who did not bother with his threatening aura among the normal mongrels anymore – on the lovely girlfriend he had.
He simply scoffed with a half-hearted glare, and replied that she was not his girlfriend.
She was his wife.
‘You mongrels’, he had added in a low voice.
She knew for certain that she had changed, over time, when she actually felt amused by his antics.
His hand remained on hers during the whole flight, while Illya and Rin were sitting in front of them. The two girls had not missed the short dialogue, and the way the two kings behaved towards each other, but they wisely chose not to comment on it, instead relating everything that had happened in the year they had been apart.
Back in Fuyuki, they moved to live in the Tohsaka mansion. The remodelling and changes that Gilgamesh and Rin had requested had been completed, and the large house was divided into several wings.
Illya, after spending the year learning how to properly run a hotel in Germany, had found that she rather enjoyed it and was quite good at it. Her idea was to turn the huge Einzbern house in the middle of the city of Fuyuki into a hotel, too, and Arturia approved it wholeheartedly. The girl therefore lived at the Tohsaka mansion with the others, and she had her own personal study in one section of the house.
Rin, after becoming a full-fledged Magus, intended to continue her studies and researches about magic. She had a natural talent for Magecraft but little desire to teach it, instead wishing to discover more about its properties, uses and limits. As a place to do research, Fuyuki was ideal, because the concentration of magical energy in that spiritual land was very high. One part of the Tohsaka mansion therefore became her laboratory and experimentation area.
Sakura, who had been recognized as the rightful heir to the Matou family, lived with Taiga and Shirou at the Emiya residence, and seemed to have completely moved on from the demons of her past.
Arturia and Gilgamesh, who lived at the Tohsaka mansion with their former wards, had a slightly larger wing of the house for themselves, which included a dojo and a large library. Their intention was to settle down in Fuyuki, where everything had started, and they had more or less managed to do so.
Arturia was very happy. The two girls they had taken under their wing were growing into beautiful, strong and successful women, and most importantly, they were serene, and not haunted by the past. Their destinies had changed, and their new fate looked brighter than ever.
For herself… Arturia knew that she had truly found a reason to stay in the world of the living. She had found something – or rather, someone – who had changed to become precious to her and fought to find a place in her heart.
She had never thought, during her long life, that she could fall in love… and with the king of arrogance, of all people. But, through the years, they had both changed, and learned to know each other so deeply… and without even realizing it, her feelings for him had gradually transformed and improved.
He had become… the most important person in the world for her.
The life she had not wanted had given her much, much more than what she had ever thought she deserved.
Together, the two kings continued with their lives. They keenly observed how everything – in a world that was now theirs as well as their former wards’ – changed around them, and always learned more about it.
To be fair, though, the King of Heroes wasn’t very impressed with the modern world. Even if he could recognize that in some ways there had been a technological advancement, the mongrels had destroyed many things during the years. As people, they also seemed to have become more arrogant.
He had noticed, however, that Arturia – who saw those same defects as well as he did – attempted to look more at the positives of the world they lived in… and she did it for Illya and Rin, knowing that that was the world they had been born into.
Therefore, even if he truly wasn’t too happy with how the world had become – generally speaking –, he bore it well enough… for Arturia’s sake.
And, well… even if he was probably never going to admit it aloud… any world would have been acceptable, as long as she was there.
He had rarely felt more pleased than when they had talked about the modern era, and she had finally openly admitted that she would not have continued living for the girls, who had been almost grown-up by the time the Grail had been destroyed, but because he was there with her.
That was more than proof enough of the fact that Arturia had given him her heart.
And having her heart… was enough for him. It was all he needed to continue living.
He knew she had his – she had obtained it a long, long time before, although he had not realized it immediately.
Even if Gilgamesh did not have his kingdom anymore, nor his best friend, nor anything else he had once deemed vital, he had the most beautiful and precious treasure in the world… the woman he had learned to love.
And nothing mattered to him more than that.
(for real this time)
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