AN: Last chapter! Congrats to making it to the end! I hope you enjoyed the ride and apologize if you didn't, but hey, come on, you gotta at least love the romance between the main two protagonists, eh?
Also, previous chapter recap for those who skipped: It was predominantly description about how the last finishing touches were put on the four war camps and once it's all done, Storm feels like she has no excuse to exist anymore, especially since Iris is gone and all the war camps are fixed. Iris stops her before anything can happen, having dragged her way back into humanity and remembrance. And when she wakes up, she is able to help all the other survivors wake up too and they are all able to go home, restored to who and where they used to be. That's where the chapter ends: Iris is home and Storm is alive and everyone (from Mae to Gale to Maxim, who is retired) is happy. Now, onto the last chapter...
The war was over, but things were still changing fast. For worse and better, Denbar would never be the same again. From the macro to the micro, the country was changing. But even amidst such a busy time in Denbarian history, there was always moment to spare for Iris and Storm. It happened on one particular night, September first, on Iris' 23rd birthday. It was also their fourth year as a couple and fifth since they'd first met.
The two lay side by side in Storm's bed, a second one finally being brought in for Iris that was currently pressed up against Storm's bed so that the two could lie in each other's arms. It felt so strange to both of them to think that, in this one little moment, everything and nothing had changed. On the one hand, they were very different from what they had been five years ago when Iris was still only 18, but on the other, just lying in the dark in each other's arms felt so very familiar and old, like nothing had changed for them at all. The love was still very much there, after all, and that was all that really mattered, right?
"You never told me what your saving memory was," Storm said suddenly as they lay together in the dark. "I mean, I know it was your knife. But what about it really? What about the knife saved you? Why won't you tell me specifically?" the blond looked at Iris through the dark.
"I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to know until now," Iris replied playfully. "I like to keep you waiting."
"Don't I know!" Storm snorted, fully back to her sarcastic self now that she knew Iris was safe with her again. "So tell me now, please."
"Well, I just thought of me and you," Iris shrugged. "I thought of Iris and Storm," then Iris elaborated.
After being committed to Labelle's asylum, she was stripped of everything, including the knife Storm gave Iris the night Iris became a soldier. Although Iris had been a Noctifer, something deep inside her felt connected to that knife and she refused to give it up. Then, the more she focused on the knife, the more her memories returned until her human side was in control. Every night, she thought of Iris and Storm and all they went through over the past five years as comrades and friends. Iris' saving memory was of the night Storm gave her that little knife and then every other memory to follow that first one had been all about all the things they did together from their first meeting to the last kiss they shared before Iris was forced into her Noctifer side.
"So you did save me," Iris promised, showing Storm the old knife. It was battered, but still in one piece. Kind of like its owner and maker. "Without you, I would've lost myself forever. That knife was a symbol..." the tiny brunette murmured as she stared both at Storm and her knife. Storm wanted to snap at Iris for being so darn sappy about all the memories and salvation, but she was too choked up. Instead, she could only meet Iris' beautiful, purple eyes, but that was enough. Purple met blue. "You saved me and you brought me home…"
"I've missed you so much," Storm answered, voice cracking. "I was so afraid that I had lost you."
"I know Storm. But you didn't. I'm here now," Iris replied. "And I won't leave you again. We'll be together forever this time. Iris and Storm."
For a moment, silence reigned between them as both of them tried to find their composure again. Iris was the first to recover.
"That knife," she said, pointing to the object still in Storm's hand, "Is not the only thing acting as a symbol of our relationship though."
"Oh, really?" Storm gave a wet laugh, trying hard to keep her tears at bay as Iris stared deeply into her eyes.
"Really," the tiny brunette drew away from Storm, sitting up. Storm seemed surprised by the sudden loss of contact with Iris, but she sat up too. The purple-eyed soldier fished around for something in the sheath she had for Storm's dagger-sword. When she finally managed to get a grip on it, Storm felt her own grip on her self-control begin to fall. It was a ring. A small golden band with an amethyst and aquamarine at the very top.
"Are you serious?" Storm was shaking violently, never having been so scared or excited in her whole life.
"Absolutely," Iris held the little ring out. Although she wasn't shaking, Storm could see the way her purple eyes were shining that she was just as scared as Storm. This proposal was a pretty big deal, and no doubt, Iris was worried that it felt too soon to be thinking about such things, but she refused to wait a moment longer and had thrown all she had into this one little question. She continued to hold the shining ring out to Storm, a symbol of what she thought of when she thought of the love that they shared. Storm took the ring and inspected it closely in the moonlight. Engraved on the inside of that gold ring were three simple words and Storm was able to respond to Iris' silent question in two.
AN: So there you go. You did it, you made it, it's over, the story is over. After years of writing (started in 2015) and months of posting, Iris' first story is over. I really hope the conclusion was more sweet than cheesy, but I'll take either now because, to be honest, I really am satisfied with how this story turned out. Sure, there's a lot I could fix, but I'm still proud with it. This was not easy to write and went through a lot of drafts. This finished product is vastly different from the very first draft, but I'm still proud of it and how its grown. This story really is like my child, and so are all the characters within in. So I implore you, even if you hated the story and thought my writing technique sucked, be kind and gentle. This story was written with good intention, but that sometimes gets lost in translation, so be nice, I thank you all so much for reading and I hold my reviewers in particular in very high regard. Thank you all for your feedback!
One last shout out to the best of them all: penguinlover611!
Also, if you paid attention, I said "first" story. I have three short prequels and two long sequels (about as long as this story was) along with a character list and several fanfics (of my own works because I'm that arrogant and narcissistic) already written out, but it will be a long time before any of them reach you guys. I'm taking a break from Denbar for now, but I will come back. The story is not over, not even close!