A/N: So, this is it. The last chapter of Love's Status has arrived. I know that apologizing for the length of time that it has taken for me to finish this short story is pointless, as it doesn't get the ending to you any faster. Even so, I do apologize. Every review, every piece of constructive criticism, and every read is deeply appreciated. I especially have to thank Julia (InfatuatedCritic) for her endless support.
I can only hope that I will be able soothe any wounds that you might have received from the previous chapter. Since it has been so long since I have updated, it might possibly be a good idea to refresh yourself a bit with the story so that this final chapter makes sense. If you don't feel like doing that, then dive in and enjoy. Once again, thank you all, so very much.
Princess Giselle sat on the lush window seat, staring into the ether. It had been a month and a half since the execution, and the humans and creatures of all of the realms had long since regained their civilized personalities. The fearsome memory of their bloodlust at the execution had kept Giselle awake for several nights, for she had never known of such impurities. But as time progressed, as daily activities commenced, they all fell back into their normal habits. Life continued on, as it always does.
Though the execution brought many mixed emotions for the princess, there was practically no time for her to express them. Though her kingdom's reputation had been irreparably damaged, so had Endeth's. The only solution to regain some sense of normalcy and repute would be to continue with the engagement. Prince Dimitrius' younger brother, Doran, would be immediately shipped to Nouvelle to wed Giselle. There was no choice in the matter, for either of them. The princess was not afraid, however. Although she had heard of Doran's love of gambling and drinking, she had also heard of his kindness. At this point, that was all she had to bet on. As the sun rose higher in the sky, Giselle couldn't help but reflect on the night before the execution.
"This way, sir," Giselle whispered. She held the smooth hand of her companion as they navigated through the dungeon tunnels.
"It's not much farther, I promise," she said softly.
"Make haste, my dear. We don't have much time."
"It's here, sir. Right through this doorway," she replied.
The princess and her companion passed through the opening and finally came across the cell of Lila and Dimitrius. They stirred.
"Who's there?" Lila asked, clearly frightened.
"Now!" Giselle whispered fervently so only her companion could hear. Suddenly, there was a burst of all encompassing light. Dimitrius woke instantly, shielding Lila from whatever he thought was happening. The bars of the cell were gone, disintegrated into a pile of ash on the floor. Giselle pulled the hood of her cloak down, finally ready to answer Lila's question.
At first, there was silence. Lila and Dimitrius stared at Giselle it complete disbelief. It was only when the soft beam of light that encircled Giselle's companion grew brighter did Lila realize that he was even there. She recognized him immediately.
"Alvar?" she whispered in incredulity. Dimitrius looked back and forth between the others.
"Hello, dear Lila. I was hoping that we would meet again, though perhaps under better circumstances," he replied. Dimitrius nudged Lila in the ribs, not taking his wide eyes off of Alvar.
"Who is this?" he asked. For the first time in weeks, Lila allowed herself to smile slightly.
"Dimitrius, this is Alvar, one of the few Fairy Elders. I first met him years ago, but when I went to deliver the news of your engagement to Princess Giselle, he allowed us into his realm. And if I'm not mistaken – and I dearly hope that I am not – he is here to help us," Lila replied hesitantly. Alvar smiled.
"Quite right you are, Lila. Come now, you two, we haven't much time," he responded. Lila and Dimitrius stood shakily and stepped out of the cell. The ash of the bars immediately formed fully back into what they once were. Lila looked at Giselle and Alvar.
"What now?"she asked.
"Now it is time to go," Alvar said. Lila turned to look at Giselle, who had been quiet for some time. The two women shared a long, silent exchange before the princess took a deep breath.
"Lila, I have always known you to be strong willed and awfully stubborn. You are harsh too often, and spoiled in your own way. That being said, you have been – and will continue to be – one of my dearest, most beloved friends. You and Karmella were the only two people in my world that I felt I could trust. There were many times when I suspected that you and Dimitrius…but that's neither here nor there. When Karmella was…murdered, and I realized of your deception, I did not know what to think. My dear, beloved Karmella was dead, gone, nothing but a carcass, and the only other person that I knew without fault had betrayed me. I won't lie to you, Lila. I was livid. I was hurt. I blamed you and Dimitrius for her death. If the two of you had never started what you did, she would be alive," Giselle said, her face serious as stone. A heavy silence hung in the air as Lila's filled with tears. Dimitrius grasped her hand, an act that did not go unnoticed by Giselle. She continued.
"But, then, after time, after my grief had begun to subside only slightly did I realize something. It was not you who took Karmella away from this world. She did not die by your hand, and it was neither of your faults. The persons who are at fault will be held accountable, make no mistake. But that is for another time. For now, all I can do is the right thing. And the right thing, is to let go. After these words that I am about to speak, I am no longer your princess, nor your future queen. I am only your friend. You will go with Alvar, and he will take you somewhere far away from here, a place that not even I know of. You will finally have each other. You will be free," Giselle finished.
There was a pause, a rush of silence that swept through the chilly dungeon quicker than a dragon's flame. Then, as if a barrier had been broken, Lila rushed toward Giselle, enveloping her in a crushing hug that almost knocked the princess off of her feet. They both began to cry.
"Giselle, I-I did not plan this, I s-swear," Lila sputtered, "I never meant to hurt you or Karmella. You mean so much to me and-"
"Shhh, now." Giselle said, "I know. I promise, I know. I wish there was more time, but you must go. Morning will be here soon, and there is still much to be done."
"What about the execution? It will surely be noticeable if we aren't here," Dimitrius asked. A dark look flashed across Giselle's face, one that Lila had never seen before.
"Do not worry. You will be safe," was all Giselle said, and Lila did not question it. Dimitrius nodded, and took Lila's hand, pulling her from Giselle's side.
"We must go now. Princess, all the rest is in place," Alvar said. Giselle nodded. The fairy put one hand on Lila's shoulder, and the other on Dimitrius'. As the trio began to disappear in ray of light, Lila caught Giselle's eye. They simply gazed at one another, both of them crying. Dimitrius kissed Lila's hand, a small bit of comfort. As the light grew brighter, Giselle smiled a small, sad smile, and Lila returned it. Before the light became too much for Giselle to look at, Lila gave a slight wave of her hand. Giselle lifted her hand and curled her fingers into a small waving gesture. 'Goodbye,' she thought. Then, with a flash of light, Alvar, Dimitrius, and Lila were gone.
A split second passed before Giselle ran to the spot where Lila once stood. She began to take in sharper and sharper breaths. Soon, she sank to the ground, her eyes filling with tears. The princess opened her mouth to scream, but no sound was released. Giselle did not know how much time had passed before she stopped crying. She sat in the same spot, wiping at her cheeks to rid her face of tears, smearing slight patterns of dirt across porcelain skin. She sniffed, and pulled herself up. There was only one thing to do.
Giselle walked out of the tunnel in which Lila and Dimitrius had previously been housed. She rounded the corner, and took the left passageway and came to another cell. Within the cell, on the filthy floor, sat two people tied together, back to back. As Giselle approached, the faces of Lila Brede and Dimitrius Cane looked up, fear in their eyes, their mouths gagged. Giselle curled her upper lip in disgust.
"Hello, Ulric. Fendrel," she began slowly, "You can thank fairy magic for your transformation. I hope that it was as painful as possible. If it wasn't, there's no need to worry; you'll be losing your heads in the morning. I'll be sure to inform the proper guards that I had you moved to this cell."
Giselle took this moment to lean her face as close to the bars as possible. Although Ulric and Fendrel looked strikingly like Lila and Dimitrius, she could tell by the looks in their eyes that they were, indeed, the two overseers.
"You have taken away too much from me. You murdered Karmella, Lila and Dimitrius are gone, and so is my innocence. I hope you enjoy the pain that you will be receiving, because it's going to last forever," Giselle said. And, with that, she turned on her heel and left the dungeons.
Giselle heaved a sigh and wiped away a tear. Though justice had been swift, no one else in the kingdom knew the truth. Unfortunately, that was the way that it had to stay. With Ulric and Fendrel dead, Giselle had found her vengeance. But with Lila and Karmella gone, she had lost herself. The princess did not know what would happen from that moment on. She did not know what further heartache or –dare she think it- adventures life would bring. All she knew was that, because of her two handmaidens…her two friends... she would lead her kingdom, her heart, and her life differently. Would it be for the better?
A knock at the door interrupted Princess Giselle's thoughts. Her new handmaiden, a girl with honey hair, olive skin, and no known resemblances toward Lila or Karmella poked her head in.
"I beg pardon, Your Highness, but the court is ready. Prince Doran is waiting for you at the end of the aisle. It's time for your wedding," she said in a soft voice. Princess Giselle smiled at the girl and nodded her head.
"I'm on my way," she responded. The girl curtsied and left. The princess stood up from the window seat. She smoothed out her wedding gown and spared one last glance out of the window. Her thoughts returned to her previous question. Would all this change really be for the better?
Princess Giselle took a deep breath, forced a smile, and walked through the door.
She could only hope so.
4 Years Later
Somewhere far away, in a land still held carefully by magic and enchantment, a man traveled. As his white steed sped through the forest, he couldn't help but smile. For the first time in his entire life, he felt free. The man rode past the forest and into a clearing. As the horse slowed, the man came upon a rather curious house. It sat not too far away from a clear water stream, and the structure itself seemed to be held together by magic. After dismounting and leading his horse to the stables, the man walked back toward the house. He didn't make it far before the door swung open.
"You're late, you know," Lila said in a mock angry tone. Dimitrius smiled and ran to meet her. She let out a loud laugh as he lifted her off of the ground and spun her in circles. Once her feet met the ground, she pulled Dimitrius into a passionate kiss. He cupped her cheek and she wrapped her arms around his neck, entwining them even closer.
The sound of playful disgust broke the passion, but Lila and Dimitrius only smiled and turned to face the house. A small girl with green eyes and dark, curly hair grinned back at them.
"Karmella, come give your father a hug!" Lila shouted happily. The little child giggled and raced toward Dimitrius, running as quickly has her chubby legs would allow. The former prince lifted his daughter into the air and caught her. He kissed her cheek, and then set her on the ground.
"Try to catch me!" he shouted, and Karmella ran after him, laughing the entire time. As Lila watched her husband and child play, she could only think of her own childhood. She was denied a full experience of joy, but she would make sure that her daughter would live the best life possible, full and happiness and love. Lila and Dimitrius' love for each other had only grown in the past few years, and she could not wait for what was to come.
But, then, there were some days that, although she had everything she could have ever wanted, Lila yearned to go back, if only for a moment. She wanted to embrace Karmella, she wanted to mock suitors with Giselle. She missed them both dearly. It was in those times that Lila only had to look at her husband, with his endearing smile and full heart, and her daughter, with her wild hair and eyes full of wonder. Then she would know the status of love. Some kinds of love were fleeting, some kinds of love were random, and some kinds of love were forever. But no matter the type, no matter the category in which it fell, it was still love. And this was her love, Lila's love.
"Mommy, come play with us!" Karmella shouted. Lila smiled and chased after her daughter and husband, the three of them erupting with laughter.
Yes, this was Lila's love. And finally, finally, it was all that she could ever want.