A Life Less Ordinary: Epilogue
By Sulia Serafine
[1-13-01. This is a Protector of the Small fanfic; all credit goes to Tamora Pierce. I'm broke, so you can't sue me.
Oh, one more thing: BAD LANGUAGE (I. E. cursing, swearing…). You have been warned!
I'd also like to thank those who gave me help with the character descriptions. Your names will be in the "closing credits" of the new stories as soon as I do them. If anyone else want to help me, please e-mail me atsilverwLng@aol.com, okay? I'm finally getting around to working on my tiny website, and there's a new section for my Tortall stories. I'll tell you the address when I deem it worthy to be seen by you. Enjoy the chapter, I know you've been waiting for it! Please, tell me what you think.]
A few weeks later.
He watched her walk down the forest path, heading back towards the rebuilt palace. She seemed lost in her thoughts, completely oblivious to the world around her. He realized she did that often whenever she walked by herself. And all the same, he couldn't help but wonder what it was that had her so absorbed.
He sneaked past her, through the thick foliage and was careful not to make a sound.
Keladry sighed as she shoved her hands in her pockets and came out of her thoughts. It had been weeks since the end of the Miran war. She decided to start over. Lord Wyldon actually asked her to take the Test for knighthood since she'd more than proved her skill and discipline out on the battlefield. She obliged, not as entirely happy as she should have been.
"Wow, Kel. I must admit. You look like a wreck."
She blinked. "What?"
"I said, you look like a wreck. What, are you deaf now?"
She turned to her right and spotted the source of words. Joren lounged comfortably on a small boulder with a catlike grin plastered on his face. He stroked his chin, then ran his hand through his hair like he always did. "You know, I take it back. You don't look like a wreck. You look like a lump."
She gaped at him. "I can't believe you! Who do you think you are, coming back like this?"
"Hey, there's no law keeping me out. I am a citizen of this country," he shrugged and hopped down from the boulder. His confidence annoyed her.
"I didn't mean that. What do you want? I thought you were a mercenary now. Funny, you didn't bother to help us with the Mirans."
His grin disappeared. "I wouldn't be so sure about that."
"What?" She narrowed her eyes at him.
"Nothing. Look, can we talk?"
"Why? I thought you didn't want to be anywhere near me."
He grimaced. "I know, I know. I said a lot of things that I want to take back."
She stared at him with her now fierce hazel eyes. "Why do you want to take them back?"
He held up his hands. "Wait, wait. Just play along with me for a second, okay?" He reached into his belt pouch and took out a small ivory cat that looked as if it had been hastily glued together from many pieces. She recognized it, but wasn't so sure of his motives.
"What's this?" she looked at him suspiciously.
"Just play along for a second!" he smiled again and cleared his throat. "Repeat after me. My name is Joren."
She stared at him as any person stares at a lunatic.
"Don't give me that look, lump! Just repeat after me. My name is Joren of Stone Mountain."
"Fine. I'll humor your pathetic self," she grumbled and took a deep breath. "My name is J…" She stopped. She took another breath and began again. "My name is J… Keladry." She lifted one eyebrow at him.
Joren started laughing. "Do you see?"
"You couldn't say my name as yours, could you?"
"No. So…" She frowned. Then it hit her. She gasped. "Dear Goddess, this isn't…"
He nodded excitedly. "Exactly."
"But how--" Before she could speak further, he held up his hand to shush her. Then he took the ivory cat from her and held it up to eye level. She folded her arms and continued to glare at him suspiciously. Joren was never this happy. She was convinced something terrible was going to happen. Maybe even a bucket full of glue and feathers.
Joren took her other hand in his. "I, Joren of Stone Mountain, do hereby swear from this day on to stay with Keladry of Mindelan no matter what happens-- through thick and thin, regardless of how many fights we have and how many times we say we regret our relationship. I also swear to try my best to let Keladry of Mindelan win every single fight we may ever have." He paused. "Oh! I almost forgot. I also swear that if a labafret ever crosses our paths again, that I will let Keladry of Mindelan have the first chance at revenge."
She couldn't help it. She smiled.
He put the cat back in his belt pouch and squeezed her hand. "So? What do you think of that?"
"I don't believe it."
"What?" he exclaimed. "How can you not believe it? I was holding the Truth Stone!"
"It could be a spell you cast on me," she shrugged.
"I don't have the Gift!"
"Then someone with the Gift is out here hiding, working for you."
A few yards away, Egavar blanched. He had magic, and he was spying on them, but he was pretty sure he wasn't casting a spell on Keladry. He shook his head and ducked down further.
"Aww, come on! You know it's real!"
She nodded. "I know. I was just joking."
"The Yamani Lump? Joking?" Joren chuckled. "Now that is unbelievable."
She elbowed him in the stomach. "Oh, shut up."
He caught her wrist in his hand and kissed her. She kissed him back, of course, oddly aware of how like a fairy tale it all was. He ended the kiss and looked at her again with that confident smirk of his.
Egavar couldn't contain his happiness. "They've really stopped fighting."
"You really meant it."
"Yes!" he rolled his eyes. "I really meant it."
"Oh, well then…"
She punched him. Joren's head snapped to the side. He almost lost his footing. Keladry had a strong arm, he couldn't forget. He felt his sore jaw and stared at her. "FOR GODS' SAKE, WHAT WAS THAT FOR?"
She folded her arms again and had a smirk of her own. "For being an asshole."
Egavar closed his eyes. "I spoke too soon."
"You heard me! It took you this long to come up to me and apologize?" Her hands now rested on her hips.
"At least I came back!" he shouted.
"Well, it couldn't have been longer, could it? I suppose you were just wandering around the countryside, huh?"
"Oh give me a break! And by the way, I'm not the only jerk here!"
"What are you calling me?"
"Oh, I'm not calling you anything but your name! LUMP!"
"Oh, why you insensitive…"
"Come on! Punch me again! I dare you!"
There was a clearly audible sound of fist on jaw.
"OW! I can't believe you punched me again!"
"You ASKED for it!"
"Mithros' shield! I don't suppose it's not too late to take back that oath, is it?"
Egavar stood up and walked away. He shook his head, chuckling to himself.
He turned around and faced the couple.
"Just how long have you been eavesdropping?" Joren cracked his knuckles.
"I didn't think privacy was at a shortage here," Keladry glared.
Egavar's eye twitched. "Uh… I think I heard someone calling me! Bye!"
"No, come back here, Nodestrum!" Joren ran after him.
"Oh, you leave him alone, you jerk!" Keladry followed Joren.
"Me? Talk about you!"
"Oh, I'm so offended! I think I just might die all over again!"
"If you do, can I have your sword?"
"You never change, do you?"
"Well, neither do you." He stopped in his tracks and turned to her. "And I guess that's what keeps two lunatics like us together."
She took his offered hand. "I have to agree with you on that one."
"Good! Now, just don't punch me again…"
"I won't. Hey! Where's Egavar?"
Egavar grinned. "Ha! You can't catch me!"
"Oh, I think we will, Mr. I-Miss-My-Fishing-Pole!" Keladry called.
"You should talk, future wife of Sir Snores-a-Lot!"
"I DO NOT SNORE!"
Author: What? * looks around* What? Stop looking at me like that! Did you actually think I was going to have a mushy ending? Keladry of Mindelan having a heartfelt scene with Joren of Stone Mountain? If you did, then you obviously don't know these characters. They'll argue forever. * grin*
I'd like to thank everyone who has made my story a success. I'd especially like those who gave me feedback on ALLO. It makes me very happy to know that I have turned the least likely couple of Tortall into a popular one. This is all for you, people.
Please check back regularly for my second Kel/Jor story, called "It Could Be Worse". As I've already mentioned, it's going to be an alternate universe, but the focus won't necessarily be our unlikely couple. (Yes, that means Neal, Roald, Cleon, Lalasa, Alanna, Daine, etc.) And it just might be as long as this series…