A/N: So... here's the ending... better than it was. Still not satisfied with it. Any comments, cares, concerns? I greatly appreciate any editing notes!
I was the first one awake the next morning, as was to be expected. Ed was propped up against a tree with his head lolled to the side in a position that looked like it was going to hurt when he woke. Dirg's wings were covering his body as much as they could, trying to shield him unconsciously from the early morning light, and Shawn wasn't having a nightmare. I stood and stretched, my abs and back, okay, basically my entire body, sore. Sleeping without a pillow for two nights straight was giving me a crick in my neck. I decided not to dwell on it and thanked God for the beautiful morning. I crept away as silently as I could to go relieve myself and found several berries and edible plants, gathering as much as I could. I rinsed them off at the stream and went back to where the three boys were still snoring away. I whistled tunelessly as I mixed the greens and had the wonderful idea to crush the berries to flavor the other vegetables. I noticed Dirg's eye half open and look at me sleepily. I grinned at him.
"Good morning, sunshine!" I greeted him enthusiastically.
He grunted and didn't move. Shawn jerked up from where he was laying at the sound of my voice, his eyes wide.
"Gosh! Don't scare me like that!"
Ed groaned as he awoke, reaching up to rub his neck. "Ow..."
Dirg didn't move. He was terrible at waking up, so I smiled his way and announced, "I made breakfast!"
He shot up at that and glared at the salad suspiciously. I rolled my eyes.
"No one can burn salad."
"Oh, if anyone could, you could," he grumbled.
I stared at him. "You just-"
"Talked? I know. I don't think there is a way I can get through today without talking."
I stood, the salad forgotten as our eyes locked. "What do you expect to happen today?"
He shook his head. "Were the berries red?"
"No," I huffed, annoyed that he didn't answer me.
"I think I liked it better when you weren't talking," I stated irritably.
He smirked. "I still won't order you to do anything."
I backed up so the boys could have easy access to the salad and sat against a tree. Shawn was the first to venture to eat my salad, probably because he had no prior experience with my inherited cooking tendencies. When he didn't seem to be dying, Ed took some, and Dirg stretched. He looked at it but didn't eat it. I watched him, trying to figure out what was wrong. He was tense, looking to the sky frequently, little lights swirling around his head. I frowned at that. He never lost control of his power; he would purposefully do that to intimidate people when he was angry but never accidentally.
He brushed himself off and turned to Ed. "At the rate we were going yesterday, we should be there in two hours."
Ed nodded, chewing a particularly fibrous plant.
"When we cross the barrier, I will black out, he will start screaming, and she will get dizzy. What do you wish to do?"
He chewed slowly and thought about it, his eyes flicking from Shawn to Dirg to me and back again. He finally swallowed. "Theo is at the border. He will catch Lucy. I should carry Shawn, and you can go ahead and fly ahead so you wake up faster."
Dirg looked at me from the corner of his eye. "Can you carry Shawn and make sure Lucy doesn't crash at the same time?"
I tensed. "I don't need anyone to watch over me."
Dirg turned to fully look at me but didn't say anything. The determination that set his jaw told me all that I needed to know. Of course I needed someone to watch over me. Of course HE needed to watch over me. I let out a huff and spread my wings and squatted, taking off quickly. Ed called after me,
"Hey! Do you know where you are going?"
I yelled an affirmative and went the same way we had been going, letting the boys scramble to catch up. It took a few minutes for the soreness to stretch out, and I grinned at the irony. I was flying! Dirg said I had high speed wings, so I decided to try them out a little harder and see how fast I could go. I flapped at a quick tempo and instinctively rose high up in the sky, until I was above the clouds. I laughed and flew on, feeling a pull in my chest that I took as the directions home. At least, that's what Dirg had said it was when I asked him during a break in flying the day before.
Neither ever caught up to me, even though I stopped to catch my breath and give my wings a break. I could feel the pull growing suddenly stronger, and a huge gust of wind shot me straight up into the sky. I began to panic, since this had never happened to me before, and I realized how stupid it was not to have an experienced flier around. I had to resist the temptation to close my eyes in fear as another air current hit my back and sent me straight down, towards the water.
"Help me, Lord!" I called in fear as I tried to fight the wind and another updraft hit me full force seemingly feet from the water.
I heard a faint, "Lucy!" From the distance.
"Help!" I yelled back.
I saw a golden pair of wings ahead of me and put all I could into getting to it. It was Dad! Thank God it was Dad! He came to me quickly, riding the currents up and down until he was near me.
"Lean into them!" he called.
What!? As in lean up with an updraft and down with a downdraft? That made no sense! Still, I did as told and he came beside me, calling me to pull up or down, depending on some weird timer I couldn't fathom at the time. Thankfully soon we were back in normal horizontal wind, but my wings were shaking from the exertion. Luckily, I could see home close ahead.
Dad looked over at me from across his huge, golden wing with a smile on his face.
He called, "You accepted Jesus?"
"Yes, I did!" I called back.
He whooped and did a loop-de-loop, quickly catching back up. I giggled. You'd think he was a kid from that reaction. He sobered as the barrier came closer, and I noticed a mass of darkness near the edge, and I recognized the black wings. King Zinx.
"Dad," I yelled over the wind, "I'm okay."
"I know. The twins told me. They have a lot of explaining to do when this whole mess is over with."
I landed as soon as the ground in the air started and nearly collapsed from exhaustion, but Dad caught me. The barrier was a good ten feet away, and the Darky king was inside, glaring death rays at me. Joy.
I left Ed and the toy behind trying to catch up to Lucy, but she caught on to flying quickly. Yay, she left me behind! She had the confidence to go out on her own! But... She left me behind. I can't help her or protect her from behind her. It was a win-lose situation, and I tried my hardest to catch her. I couldn't.
I became worried when I hit the over water air currents, for she had never faced these before. I prayed silently that she had help and wasn't drowning in the waves. Soon, the land of eternal light was straight ahead and it was with great relief that I saw Lucy next to the giant black and gold man who could only be her father. They were on the outside of the barrier, and just inside was a pulsating black mass that could be none other than the former king, Zinx.
I swooped in and landed next to Lucy. "Are you okay, Princess?"
She looked to me and nodded, her hand raising to trace her arm as she glanced at my father. He said not a word, but the fact that he was shirtless with his naked blade in his hand told me enough. When a male Darky felt wronged, it was customary to bare himself until he fixed the wrong against him. I assumed the Lightsy king had made him wear pants.
Said king glanced between me and my seething father. He ended on me, his gaze hard. "Why did you stab your father, Dirg?"
I met Zinx's gaze with one equally as deadly. His dark eyes narrowed.
"He gave me three options. 1: do as he said, go with him and leave Lucy to whatever fate he had planned, 2: willingly exile myself and declare that I was a Lightsy, which I AM NOT, or 3: kill him and do whatever I want. He didn't say the second two out loud, but we both knew what he meant, didn't we, Zinx?"
His grip on the sword hilt tightened, but he did not make a move. He spoke from behind clenched teeth. "At least I was willing to mend the gap you created. Now, all there will be between us is spilled blood."
I scowled. "I'm sorry, I think I just had a hallucination. Did you say you were trying to build a relationship?"
"Not the gap between us, you idiot! The gap between you and the throne! You were born to wear that ring, yes, but you have not been living the part!"
I scoffed at that. "Oh, so running around the world doing suicidal things is more kingly than owning up to a mistake and trying to fix it?"
"I was giving you a chance to fix your heart, and you blew it! What did you think not killing me yet stealing the ring would accomplish? Some misplaced superiority complex?"
"Who said I didn't mean to kill you?" I snapped back.
He laughed at that. Laughed. "You've been trained since you were born to kill me. If that was your best attempt and you failed, you aren't worthy of even those bleached wings. You are a coward, a despicable abomination, not worthy of this crown, and not worthy to be my son!"
"I've never been your son!" I yelled, fists clenched as one raised to Kindness.
Surprisingly, Lucy was the next to say anything. "And you can't label him the coward when you're the one hiding behind the barrier."
We both looked at her, and she glared at him.
"She has a point," I stated, returning my gaze to him.
He glared back at me. "Hand over the ring, Lightsy."
I tensed and spoke calmly. "I am not a Lightsy."
In a flash, he was in front of me, Headhunter, his sword, coming for my head. Kindness leapt to my hand to block his strike, which was quickly followed by several more.
Zinx and I had never sparred before. Tain had sparred with him and told me Dad always won, but I usually won against him too. That led me to believe we were about evenly matched, and it seemed as if we were for the first few minutes.
Our black blades weaved around us in a deadly dance, both of us looking for an advantage as we alternately lost and gained ground. His darkness rolled around him in waves, and I tried to penetrate it with my light, but he was still wearing the crown that amplified gifts, so his was stronger. I decided to give up that battle and just focused on the physical, letting his darkness engulf us. His back was to the barrier, mine was to the edge, and if either of us gave too much ground, the entire dynamic of the fight would change.
I had as of yet not been using my wings to my advantage. In fact, I noticed that Zinx brought his in. We were in a blade lock, glaring at each other as we both tried to out muscle the other, so I used that moment to launch back, spinning away. He was on me within seconds, thinking I was retreating. Then, I started using my wings to add power to my strokes. It took so much concentration that my mind blanked of all else. Who I was, why we were fighting, who he was, the beautiful maiden watching, it all disappeared into the back of my mind as my arms, legs, wings, and sword began working together in harmony. He started giving ground. His face became panicked. He stumbled under the force of my blows. He still matched my speed, but not my ferocity.
His guard fell just enough for me to slice the inside of his wrist on his dominant hand, making him let go involuntarily, and Headhunter flew. His eyes widened, and Kindness came to rest on his throat. We both froze, muscles tense and breathing hard. He tilted his chin up ever so slightly in submission, his gaze hardening, daring me to do it. The situation rushed back at me.
"Do it," he panted.
"Why?" I retorted.
"I don't want... My people dying in... Some pointless civil war."
"Then don't start one."
His eyes flashed, but his body remained still. "I didn't! You did!"
I pressed ever so slightly harder, and he didn't flinch back. They were right to call him mad. "I'm not the one who shoved myself into your business! I'm not the one who kidnapped and planned to harm a Lightsy princess, and I am certainly not the one who instigated this fight! Maybe, just maybe, I don't want the throne yet! Did you not think of that? Maybe I thought you were doing a good job and should keep it longer! Maybe I actually wanted a chance to get to know my father! So, who started this whole damn thing!?"
His dark brown eyes lost their spark and drifted towards to ground at that. I lifted Kindness from his neck and sheathed him at my back, crossing my arms over my chest as I glared at Zinx. He stood there silently for a while.
"Since this is the path you put us on, I am now the king. You can argue, you can rant, you can call me a coward and raise an army, but any following death is on your head, Zinx. I don't want to kill you, but if you push me, I will."
Finally, he looked me in the eye. "Not that I'm complaining, but why don't you want to kill me?"
"Because no one has told you about Jesus yet, and I would rather not send my father to Hell."
"What's Jesus that I have to hear about it?"
"Jesus is my Lord, Savior, and Master, and he is the one who turned my wings white. I am not ashamed to bear his mark. He lived, died, and raised himself back to life 2000 years ago, and he still lives today."
Zinx tilted his chin up, losing the submissive posture and again becoming arrogant. "And just who told you about him?"
"I met him through King Amora. Instead of having me beheaded for trespassing and attempted murder of his eldest daughter, he told me that Jesus loves me, and I studied this man from there until I decided to follow him and give him my life."
He sneered and shook his head. "I raised a weakling."
My temper flared at that, and I snapped at him, "You didn't raise me!" as I swiped the golden circlet from around his head.
He didn't make a move to stop me putting it on my head, and the moment it touched my brow, my gift felt different. I scowled at the thought that I was probably glowing as I turned and walked to the Lightsy king, still keeping a mental eye on my father. He might still try to kill me.
King Amora looked like a mixture of confused, angry, and hopeful as his gaze flashed between the former king and I. Lucy was grinning, but I knew I saw fear in her eyes. Fear of what, I had no idea. Ed had arrived whilst we were fighting, and his brother and Shawn were supporting him. He must be exhausted. Fon's husband stepped out from behind the barrier, his skin obviously burning. I looked over my shoulder.
"Zinx, gather some darkness around Hinak," I ordered.
When I looked back to King Amora, he seemed to be decidedly hopeful. I bowed my head in equal deference. "King Amora, I believe I have fulfilled my purpose in staying under your authority. I think Lucille has proven that she is back to being herself, and I request your leave."
"You have it... King Dirg."
That sent a shiver up my spine, and I smirked. "Thank you, sire. What is the current state of our peace treaty?"
He huffed out a breath and looked to Zinx behind me. "Okay, this is a bit to much to do at once. I really don't understand how in the world you are king."
"Darky politics. If you don't get it, ask your eldest. I think I fully explained it all to her. I just need to know if you take the former king's last action as an offense and wish to terminate the treaty."
He ran a hand over his bald head and looked to Lucy. "Since it came to nothing, I take no offense."
I nodded. "Then, we shall meet again upon the renewal in...a year and a half?"
He nodded back. "That we shall."
I turned to leave, flexing my wings and strode to the edge, Zinx and what's-his-face following me.
A soft voice stopped me in my tracks. "Dirg?"
I looked over my shoulder. She had stepped forward from beside her Dad, and her visage now reflected the fear her eyes had hinted at earlier. I could either just leave and let her deal with it on her own or tell her what I felt, in front of both of our fathers. I vacillated for an eternity of seconds before I turned around and paced to directly in front of her.
"I have to go," I stated.
She looked at Zinx. "I know. I-" her voice cracked.
Her pained light eyes said everything she couldn't, and I gently lifted my hand to her hair. I placed a chaste kiss on her forehead.
"Do you want to know what I want, Sunshine?"
Her heart was on her sleeve as she nodded, and I don't know if she noticed that I used the wrong name or not. She looked pained yet hopeful, loving with a side of fear.
"I want you to be happy, with a man that doesn't cringe in guilt every time you trace your scars, a man that you can love without that added measure of fear you will always have for me, a man that has never tortured you or bent your will to his, a man that you never called master and have never bowed to, a man that is not me."
Her eyes widened as I spoke, and I noticed moisture gathering at the edges of those innocent orbs.
"Even if I didn't have to go, I most likely would. I think my presence has done as much as it can for you." I snorted. "Heck, you mended yourself more when you were taken than I have done the past few months. You don't need me any more."
"But I do." She whispered.
"Nah. You need someone better than me." I tried to sound lighthearted.
I was acting like this didn't hurt, but I knew better. It hit me right then that I was doing the same thing as the last time I left her. I wasn't lying, but I was hiding my pain. I decided to forget everyone else watching and instead tell her the truth. I let my guard drop.
I nearly gasped as pain and sorrow filled his eyes, not diminishing his resolve but covering it slightly. A crease on his brow gained prominence as his face took on his emotions as well. He was never this open, this trusting. He paused to let his words sink in.
He was leaving me, because he loved me and he had to. He was willing to crush his own heart because he thought I deserved better than him. He didn't realize that I loved him too and this might hurt me as much as it did him.
I had to make him realize that.
"Dirg, no. Please."
That didn't come out the way I wanted it to.
His eyes saddened further and he backed up. "I'm king of the Darkies, now. You are the heir to the Lightsy throne. Ours is a forbidden love, and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can move on."
I raised an eyebrow. "We can move on?"
It was a question, not a statement. We both stared at each other, evaluating ourselves. As for me... Being away from him was still too hard to contemplate. Maybe time would separate his string from my heart pieces without ripping it away.
His mask came back on. "Write me?"
I nodded. He nodded back. There was an awkward moment before he turned and took off, the two darkwings hurrying to keep up. Dad came up beside me and put his arm over my shoulders reassuringly. He told me silently that he was there for me.
I watched until the man that kidnapped me, beat me, bent me, tortured me, drove me to near suicide, brought me back from the cliff he put me on, showed me Jesus, and stole my heart was out of sight.
My heart wasn't in pieces. I turned to look at Dad, and he met my gaze with a worried look.
"Are you okay?" He asked.
I nodded slowly. Then I shook my head.
He sighed and rubbed his head before he strode over to me and crushed me in a ginormous hug. "I'll make a law barring children born out of wedlock from the throne. Just promise me this, I get to walk you down the aisle."
I nodded into his chest. "I promise."
"Thank you. You will always have a home here."
I pulled back, a tear blurring half of my vision. "I know. I love you, Dad."
He grinned and let go of me. "I love you too, Lucy."
I turned and sprinted off of the edge, flapping quickly as my heartbeat accelerated. A huge grin broke out on my face as I spotted the three dark- covered blobs, and I rose higher. Soon, I was above them, so I tucked my wings in and dove straight at Dirg. He seemed to hear my descent, for he looked over his shoulder and went for his sword, but he seemed confused when he saw that it was I. Then, I hit him. HARD.
We were both falling, but I just hugged him tightly.
"Lucy! What are you doing?!"
"Choosing!" I yelled back.
"We are going to crash! Let go of me!"
"No! I'm not letting you leave me again!"
He fought to regain control, but four wings didn't work for flying. The wind was whipping us around, and the only direction I was sure of was the direction of Dirg. That was all I needed. He gave up and hugged me back.
"I won't okay? Just let go."
I sighed and let go. We were literally ten feet from the ground, so it took both of us a minute to recover and land without crashing. I grinned at him, and he looked at me with confusion. I expected a glare, or something, but I liked what I got.
"Did you not hear a word I just said?" he asked in a tone that sounded similar to awe.
"I did, and I decided to make my own decision. I choose you, Dirg. I know that's a new experience for you, but I choose you."
"Mr. Perfect doesn't exist. Even if he did, I don't want him. I want you."
He looked up at his father and Hinak coming in to land nearby. He then looked back to me.
"You are the future queen-"
"No, I am not. Dad said he would fix that. I love you, Dirg."
His lips twitched up slightly, and he took a step towards me. "Lucy, I'm no good for you."
I stepped forward and got on my toes, going for his lips. I could feel him smile as he kissed back.
"Maybe I like a little bad," I whispered when I pulled back slightly.
"But I don't want to hurt you."
I pulled back fully and crossed my arms, glaring at him. "Dirg, I have made my choice. Do you respect it at all?"
He scowled at that. "I do, but did you consider-"
"Yes. Do you love me?"
"Do you want to marry me?"
His eyes lit up. "Yes."
"Are you willing to call me wife and suffer the scorn of it?"
"Yes. I am willing to suffer the scorn for these white wings."
"Then let me help you. You shouldn't go through life alone."
He smiled. "I love you."
I grinned back. "Then marry me the Lightsy way for my father."
He nodded and pulled me close. "How does tomorrow sound? I still have to go home and soon."
I beamed at him. "Tomorrow sounds wonderful."
He leaned in and whispered in my ear. "You know what we shall be doing tomorrow night, yes?"
I rolled my eyes. "You are such a Dark."
He chuckled. "I know. Thank you."
I closed my eyes and leaned into him. Here we were, together finally. I don't think I had been happier in my life.