Indweller

By Misanagi

Rating: R

Pairing: 3x4, implied 1x2 and 5xM

Warnings: AU, fantasy, angst, some violence.

Summary: Ten days can be enough to change the faith of a kingdom. Can they also change the lives of two men?

Disclaimer: I don't own GW or the characters used in this fic.

Archive: Gundanium Line

Notes: Written for the Whumped!Quatre Ficathon, filling Lil 1337's request. hugs Lil I hope that you like it.

Thanks a lot to Anne for the beta.


Day Six

It wasn't strange for guards to go outside the palace on their free nights. There was a tavern near the palace and it was the favorite place for guards to visit. They served alcohol at reasonable prices and there was an inn beside it where the guards could take the waitresses or any willing woman.

Trowa didn't particularly like the place. In fact, this was the first time he had visited it while posing as a guard. He got preferential treatment. After all, palace guards were feared and people preferred to give them everything they wanted rather than face the possible consequences.

After just a couple of beers, Trowa took the arm of a waitress and sat her in his lap. The guards around him gave him encouraging looks and cheered him out loud when he and the waitress left the tavern and headed for the inn. The moment Trowa closed the room's door, the waitress slapped him.

"Trowa Barton, if you had been anyone else I would have ripped your balls off for touching me without my permission!"

Wincing a little, Trowa massaged his sore cheek. "I'm sorry, Hilde. I needed to make a good show."

Hilde rolled her eyes and sat on the only chair in the room. "This better be good. You know it's risky for you to contact us directly."

"It's an emergency." Trowa headed for the window. "Would you cover for me?"

With a smile, Hilde waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. "Don't I always?"

Trowa nodded and climbed out the window. He jumped two stories down and managed to land on his feet. Then he moved quickly through the familiar city streets, keeping to the shadows, and finally knocking on a wooden door. Another knock answered from inside and Trowa knocked three times slowly. The door opened and he was pulled inside quickly, before the door was closed again.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

"Nice to see you too, Duo." Trowa smirked. He had missed talking to his friends and the house they all shared. It was good to be home, if only for a little while.

"Are you okay?" Duo walked to Trowa, looking at him carefully. "Did they discover you?"

"Duo, I'm fine." Trowa walked to the small dinning table and sat down on his chair. "Where are Heero and Wufei? We need to talk."

"We are here," said Wufei. He and Heero were walking out of the adjourning room. They moved to the table and took their seats. "What's your cover?"

"Hilde is covering for me."

Duo nodded and joined them at the table. "We are all here, Trowa. Spill."

Trowa took a breath and said, "I think I found a way to defeat the Sorceress."

Silence.

The others just stared at Trowa, managing only to blink. Finally, after a while, Duo asked, "What?"

"I found out how she's controlling the King," explained Trowa. "She's keeping a powerful empath captive and she's taking the empath's magic and using it to make a potion."

Heero raised an eyebrow. "An empath capable of controlling people? That's a thing from legends."

"Does the name Quatre Raberba Winner means anything to you?" Trowa asked simply.

"Everyone knows who he was," said Duo, rolling his eyes. "Where are you going with this?"

Trowa smirked. "He's the empath. He's alive."

Once again the only reply was silence.

"He's trapped in a room, with a collar around his neck that prevents him from using his magic," explained Trowa. "If we get him out the Sorceress won't be able to control the King anymore."

After a moment Wufei asked, not questioning the veracity of Trowa's statements, "She's taking his magic away? How?"

"A ritual draining him from his magic and pouring it into a stone, crystallizing it." Trowa winced remembering the state Quatre had been in the first time he'd seen him. "It leaves him unconscious and quite weak for a few days."

Wufei winced too. "It must feel like he's being ripped apart." He looked at Duo and Heero and finally at Trowa. "We need to help him."

Duo spoke softly. "If he's Quatre Winner, he has been there for a very long time." He clenched his fists. "We need to take the Sorceress down."

Heero nodded. "Tell us about his restraints."

Trowa smiled, relieved that his friends had believed him and were willing to help. It showed that they trusted his judgment, even when Quatre's story was difficult to accept. "There's a collar around his neck and attached to the wall. It doesn't have a lock. Besides that, the door is charmed. The lock is pretty easy to open but Quatre says the only time he got close enough to touch it, he passed out from the pain."

"Magically sealed," said Wufei, thoughtfully. "If you manage to destroy the door he should be able to leave the cell. The collar seems more complicated."

"We need to find a way to cut it open." Duo was taping his fingers on the table. "I might be able to enchant a blade, and it would hopefully cut through the spell."

"No." Heero glared at Duo. "The last time you tried something like that you were unconscious for a week."

Duo shrugged. "But it worked." Then he smiled and placed a hand on top of Heero's. "This could bring the Sorceress down." The smile turned to a wink. "I'll make it up to you afterwards."

They looked at each other for a while before Heero nodded. "You better be right about this, Barton."

"Go back to the palace," Duo said to Trowa, ignoring Heero's warning. "We'll find a way to get it to you before the Sorceress' visit."

"Meanwhile, remove the door," added Wufei.

Trowa stood up. "Thank you," he said before he left.


Day Seven

"You were reading that same book last time," said Trowa when he entered Quatre's cell.

Quatre closed the book and placed it on the floor on top of the other four he had. "I can recite the words. Dorothy was kind enough to allow me these books but I finished them long ago."

Trowa frowned. "Kind enough? There's nothing kind about what the Sorceress has done to you."

Quatre stood up, the chain making a jingly sound as it was moved. "It could be worse."

Not wanting to think how worse it could be, Trowa simply placed the small axe he had brought on the floor and took off his uniform jacket.

"What exactly are you doing?" asked Quatre.

"I'm taking that door down." Trowa lifted the axe and walked to the door. The door was made of strong wood and it was attached to the wall by long steel screws. Using all his strength, Trowa hit the wood beside the screws with the axe. It made a dull sound. Trowa hoped it wouldn't be heard in the dungeon or that at least there wouldn't be a guard close by to notice the noise.

Trowa hit the door again and again, concentrating in hitting the same spot always. By the time the top half of the door was detached from the wall, he had forgotten that Quatre was there. However, a few moments later there was a hand in front of him holding a cup of water. When Trowa took it he noticed that the hand holding the cup was shaking. He turned around to see Quatre with his lips pressed on a thin line, shivering and taking deep breaths.

The axe fell to the floor. Trowa put an arm around Quatre's waist and forced him to take a few steps back. Quatre visibly relaxed and gave Trowa a small smile. "It's okay," Quatre said. "I'm fine now."

Not very convinced, Trowa made Quatre sit on the mattress and sat beside him, the cup still in his hand. "Why did you get so close to the door?"

"I tried calling you but you didn't hear me over the noise." Quatre smiled again. "You looked tired and thirsty."

"Thank you," Trowa said. He brought the cup slowly to his lips and drank, allowing himself a moment to rest. His next shift was in the morning so he could stay all night in Quatre's cell if he wanted to. The room was small and depressing. The everlasting single candle didn't provide much light; there was no windows and nothing to look at but the same four bare walls. Still, Trowa found himself thinking that he'd rather stay the night there than go back to the barracks.

When the cup was empty, Trowa stood up and went back to work. He wasn't sure how much time it took but eventually the door cracked and fell to the floor with a loud thud. Trowa looked around, trying to find a place to put the door. The corridor wouldn't do. It was too narrow and Quatre wouldn't be able to walk close to it when the time came. He turned to the room, noticing for the first time how the mattress was placed as far away from the door as possible. The only place for the door would be the corner opposite to the basin. It would probably cause Quatre problems when he went to collect his meals but it would only be for a few days. Quatre wouldn't be there for much longer.

Bending down, Trowa lifted the door and dragged it slowly to the corner. The door was heavy and by the time he was done placing it against the wall, he was panting. Quatre got him another cup of water and Trowa didn't miss the flinch Quatre made when he walked to the basin.

"Bare with it for a couple of days," said Trowa after drinking all the water in one swig. He sat on the mattress, letting his back rest on the wall and giving his sore muscles a chance to relax. "I'll get you out. I promise."

Quatre sat in front of him and took Trowa's hands in his. He inspected the red lines on Trowa's hands and the blisters that had formed for holding the axe for so long. Using the tips of his fingers Quatre traced the lines slowly, caressing Trowa's palms. Trowa could do nothing but look. He wanted to say something but no words came; he thought he should pull his hands away but he liked Quatre's touch. Then, Quatre leaned closer to Trowa and their lips touched. Trowa closed his eyes. The kiss was soft and tender, and over too soon. When Trowa opened his eyes Quatre was sitting in front of him again, looking at Trowa's hands, still held in his.

The words came as a whisper. "Trowa, I think I'm falling in love with you."

For some reason Quatre refused to meet Trowa's eyes. This time Trowa was the one to lean closer. He pulled one of his hands away from Quatre's and used it to lift Quatre's chin. Trowa waited until Quatre's eyes were focused on him, until he was sure Quatre would hear what he had to say. "I think I'm falling in love with you too."

Trowa brought their lips together and they shared another kiss.


Day Eight

Trowa had left Quatre in the morning. He spent the whole time guarding the south gardens remembering. They had kissed last night. Trowa had held Quatre in his arms and touched him, letting Quatre touch him too. They had talked while they held each other. Quatre had told him about his life in the mountains, his sisters and the people in the village. Trowa had talked about his life in the city before the Sorceress. How he used to perform with his sister on the street and always got enough coins to buy food. How he had met each of his friends and how Heero and Duo had discovered they loved each other after Duo had been unconscious for a week for putting to much effort into one of his enchantments. He had spoken about Wufei and how much he missed his wife, Meiran, who had been the Princess' handmaid and had disappeared with her but still managed to send letter to Wufei every few weeks.

The kissing had led to talking and to knowing each other better. Trowa didn't remember exactly when they had fallen asleep but when he woke up, Quatre was in his arms. Trowa woke up at the same time every morning, so knowing he couldn't stay, he had shared a kiss with Quatre and left.

His muscles were still sore but Trowa ignored them. He only wished for the day to move faster so his shift would be over and he could go back to Quatre. When his replacement came he had some news to share. Apparently a rebel had caused a commotion in front of the palace doors that morning, and had been taken to the dungeon. However, before the guards could control him, he had rendered seven of them unconscious. They suspected he was one of those magic fighters, who used their magical powers in combat making them faster and stronger. Trowa only knew of one rebel who was a magic fighter: Wufei.

As soon as he could, Trowa headed for the dungeon and walked through the cells, looking for his friend. Sure enough, in one of the smaller ones was Wufei, lying on the floor, his eyes closed and a huge bruise on his face. Looking around to make sure no one was watching, Trowa opened the cell door and walked inside. He kneeled next to Wufei and put a hand on his shoulder. "Wufei, can you hear me?"

Wufei opened his eyes and moved himself slowly into a sitting position. "I'm not deaf, Trowa." He flinched as he moved his hand to his clothes. He retrieved a dagger and handed it to Trowa. "Duo says to use it to cut through the metal of the collar."

Trowa took the dagger and hid it in his clothes. "How is he?"

"Unconscious. Sally was treating him when I left." Wufei flexed his wrist experimentally, wincing slightly with the movement. "Heero wouldn't leave his side."

"So you came instead." Trowa bowed his head slightly, showing his gratitude. He offered a hand to Wufei. "Come, I'm getting you out."

Wufei shook his head. "You can't. Not yet. Heero says that the empath might need some time to adjust after you take the collar off." He leaned back on the wall and closed his eyes. "You'll need to take care of him and be sure he's ready. I'll be here when the time is right."

Trowa promised to come back later with some food, and left Wufei's cell. Wufei had taken a huge risk by letting himself get captured and by letting the guards suspect his powers. It assured that Trowa would hear of him and come to find him but it also meant that sooner or later the Sorceress would know that she had a magic fighter in her hands. She would try to make Wufei one of her followers, like she had done with many others. Trowa headed quickly to Quatre's cell. They didn't have any time to lose.

Quatre was lying on his back, looking at the ceiling when Trowa walked in. "Are you alright?" was the first thing out of Trowa's mouth.

Leaning on his elbows, Quatre looked at Trowa and smiled. "Yes. I was just thinking. There's not much to do in here, but since you came, I've had nice things to think about."

Showing the dagger to Quatre Trowa said, "A friend sent me this. It's enchanted." Trowa moved closer to Quatre and kissed him softly. "Sit up."

Quatre kept his eyes trained on Trowa, even when Trowa moved the dagger to Quatre's neck. The sincerity in Quatre's eyes said clearly that he trusted Trowa.

The collar wasn't tight and Trowa was able to slip two fingers between the collar and Quatre's neck. Quatre swallowed and Trowa felt the movement on Quatre's throat, pressing on his fingers. With his other hand Trowa brought the blade to the collar, just over his fingers. If he made a mistake he wouldn't be cutting Quatre's flesh. The dagger made a horrible screeching noise as Trowa pressed it to the collar. Quatre was shivering and Trowa noticed that his eyes were shut and his hands closed into tight fists. Trowa moved the dagger away. "What's wrong?"

A soft sigh escaped Quatre's lips. He didn't open his eyes. "It stings," he said. Trowa moved to pull his fingers away but Quatre's hand grabbed his wrist. "It's working. Don't stop."

Trowa nodded. He caressed Quatre's cheek before he pressed the blade to the collar again. He could feel the blade digging into the steel. The progress was slow but it was working. Now and then Trowa would hear Quatre wince over the loud screeching on the metal but he didn't stop. He had to keep going. Too much depended on it. Then, he felt a sting on the tips of his fingers and realized that he had cut himself. With a swift movement of his wrist Trowa pulled the dagger away. Quatre sighed. Trowa slipped his fingers from between the collar and Quatre's neck. There was a sharp red mark on Quatre's neck, just where Trowa's fingers had been. Somehow Quatre had felt Trowa cutting the collar and it was reflected on his skin.

"Did it work?" Quatre asked, his voice sounding a little shaky.

"Yes, but I still can't pull it out. I need to make another cut."

Closing his eyes Quatre nodded.

Trowa grabbed the other end of the collar and gave Quatre as small kiss. "I'll be as quick as I can," he said.

"I trust you," replied Quatre, still with his eyes closed.

Again the blade made a loud sound when Trowa started to cut the steel and again Quatre winced now and then. It took less time than before. When the dagger touched Trowa's fingers, he gently pulled the pieces apart, finally releasing Quatre.

Quatre's eyes flew open. He gasped loudly and collapsed in Trowa's arms.


Day Nine

Trowa had stayed with Quatre as long as he could. Quatre had stirred in his sleep, moving around and mumbling things Trowa didn't understand. He wouldn't wake up. Trowa had spent the night in Quatre's cell, watching helplessly as Quatre dreamed. In the morning, he had gone to work his shifts, guarding various places of the palace. All the time thoughts of Quatre invaded his head. Trowa was worried. He hadn't known what to expect when Quatre's magic was released but not being able to wake Quatre up or talk to him was making Trowa anxious.

On midday, after checking on Quatre and noticing that he was still sleeping, Trowa had gone to visit Wufei. He had brought his friend the promised food and was happy to see that Wufei was a lot better. He seemed stronger and the bruise in his face was fading. Like all the other magic fighters, Wufei healed faster than other people.

After Trowa told him about Quatre, Wufei had said that Heero had expected something like this to happen. Empathy and telepathy, while very different, shared the same basic traits. Heero could relate to what an empath would feel when his powers were returned after such a long time of being deprived of them. "It would be like standing in the path of a river," Wufei had said. "There's nothing to do but brace yourself for the impact and then learn to go with the flow."

The sun was starting to set by the time Trowa could return to Quatre's cell. He walked inside, not wanting to disturb Quatre if he was still resting, even though nothing seemed to be able to wake him up.

Surprisingly, Quatre was awake and waiting for him. He was smiling. Trowa had never seen him smile like that. His eyes were shining and if it was possible he was projecting happiness. Trowa didn't have time to say anything before Quatre hugged him, burying his head in Trowa's neck.

"I can feel you, Trowa. I can feel again."

Trowa returned Quatre's embrace. "Are you alright?"

"Yes," Quatre whispered. "Better than I've been in a long time."

"Then, it's time to go, Quatre. It's time for you to be free."

Quatre leaned back and looked at Trowa. "There's something I need to do first." His expression was serious and Trowa could see the determination in his face. "We need to destroy the remaining potions, and I need to face Dorothy."

"No one has faced her and lived," Trowa said, already knowing that he wouldn't be able to stop Quatre.

With a little smile, Quatre said, "No one knows her like I do."

Trowa nodded and took Quatre's hand. He held his breath as they walked through the threshold hoping that with the door gone, Quatre would be able to pass.

Quatre had no problems, and with a small smile that couldn't be seen in the dark corridor, Trowa guided him to the entrance of the secret passage. He didn't give Quatre time to look around and just pulled him towards Wufei's cell.

While Trowa unlocked the door Quatre looked at Wufei and then asked, "Is this one of your friends, Trowa?" When Trowa nodded Quatre bowed his head. "Thank you," he said to Wufei.

"Any friend of Trowa is a friend of mine," Wufei replied.

There was no time for long introductions. When the door was opened, the three of them hurried out of the dungeon and headed upstairs, to find the Sorceress. For some bizarre reason all the guards they encountered in their way either ignored them or were fast asleep. It took Trowa a while to notice that Quatre frowned every time a guard was near. "What are you doing?"

Quatre smiled. "I'm making them feel indifference or exhaustion. They are under Dorothy's influence, the whole palace is. It's not their fault."

If Trowa had any doubts of Quatre's powers they were dissipated then. They had passed at least fifteen guards and Quatre didn't look tired or dizzy at all. Heero was a very strong telepath but even he couldn't project so many thoughts to so many people in such a short amount of time without draining himself. Trowa had completed his mission. He had found the Sorceress' greatest strength, and now that Quatre was free he had become her greatest opponent.

They stopped when they reached the closed doors of the throne room. "Stay behind me," said Quatre simply before the doors opened without him pushing them.

The Sorceress and the King were there with just a few guards by their side. The Sorceress stood up quickly, surprise and anger clearly visible in her eyes. She looked at the guards beside her who didn't seem to notice the commotion.

"This is impossible!" she snarled and glided towards them. A ball of raw magic shot from her hand, and headed straight for Quatre, but it exploded in mid air.

"You might be more powerful than me with magic attacks, Dorothy, but you know that that isn't enough to defeat me." Quatre's voice was hard and cold, but Trowa heard a hint of sadness there.

The Sorceress' eyes were becoming red. She focused them on Trowa. "You let him out. You'll die." Suddenly she was in front of him, her eyes glowing furiously and a ball of magic forming in her hand. Trowa tried to move back but he couldn't. Her stare had frozen his limbs and he was vulnerable.

Then, the glow disappeared from the Sorceress' eyes and they became cold blue again.

"You won't hurt him," Quatre said, walking around the Sorceress to put a hand on Trowa's shoulders. He was glowing slightly, with a blue light that reminded Trowa of the crystal the Sorceress had carried out of Quatre's cell that first day.

The Sorceress was looking at Quatre, mesmerized. "In fact, Dorothy," he continued, "You won't use magic ever again."

"You can't do this to me." The Sorceress' voice was deceptively calm. "You vowed never to project permanent emotions."

Quatre's eyes were sad. "You forced me, Dorothy. I can't allow you to hurt more people."

The Sorceress blinked and suddenly the rage was in her eyes again, but this time they didn't glow or become red. "You are a hypocrite, Quatre Winner." Her words were filled with hate. "There is no difference between you and me. You are abusing your powers, just like I did. You are no better than me."

Trowa opened his mouth to deny the Sorceress' accusations but Quatre spoke first. "Maybe we are the same, Dorothy, but I've done what's needed."

The Sorceress screamed and brought her hand back for an attack but no ball of magic materialized.

"It's no use, Dorothy. I've sealed your powers." Quatre then turned to Wufei. "Would you take care of the King? Dorothy's potions don't last very long on him. After it wears off, he should recover his will."

Wufei nodded and walked to the throne. The King hadn't moved from his place and had been looking at the scene in front of him with detachment. Wufei helped the King up and they left through one of the side doors, probably going to the King's chambers so he could get some rest.

"The guards will take you into custody," Quatre explained to the Sorceress. "When the King gets better he will make a decision."

The guards, who had been watching impassibly, approached them and took a hold of the Sorceress' arms. "Please make sure she doesn't go anywhere," Quatre said. The guards nodded and escorted the Sorceress out.

The Sorceress screamed something but Trowa didn't hear her. She was no longer his concern. Quatre exhaled and smiled at Trowa. "The kingdom is free."


Day Ten

King Milliardo had recuperated in only a few hours. He had slept and when he had woken up he was himself again. He remembered what Dorothy had made him do but he had recovered his will, and instead of lamenting, he was determined to return the life to his kingdom. The guards, as well as all the workers in the castle, were freed from the Sorceress' spell.

The moment the news about the King's recovery left the castle there was joy in the city. The people went to the streets to celebrate, singing, drinking and dancing. Trowa had watched it all from the tower, and had also seen the Princess and Lady Lucrezia's arrival to the palace. The King had welcomed them with open arms. With them, was Meiran. Trowa had watched her reunion with Wufei with a smile.

A while later, Duo and Heero arrived at the palace. Duo was still feeling a little dizzy but he was more cheerful than anyone and didn't miss a chance to tell how he had helped to bring the King back into power.

Entering the Sorceress' chambers was something no one had ever accomplished, but with her powers sealed, the spells protecting her room were gone. Quatre had destroyed the remaining potions in the Sorceress' chambers along with all her magical possessions. He had said they were too dangerous to be left lying around. Quatre still hadn't talked to the King, and he had said that he would present himself to the King when the Sorceress was summoned. For some reason, Quatre believed that he should be judged by the King as well since he had helped the Sorceress.

Trowa had tried to tell Quatre that he had been forced to do what he did but Quatre would hear none of it. He felt guilty for what the Sorceress had done with his magic and he was prepared to face the consequences.

They didn't have to wait long for the Sorceress' audience. The King was feeling better and he wanted to start rebuilding the kingdom as soon as possible, and the first step was dealing with the Sorceress.

The court was filled with many nobles and even some commoners who had been selected randomly from the street to watch the sentencing. Trowa, Quatre, Wufei, Meiran, Heero and Duo were there. They were standing at the side. The door opened and the Sorceress walked in, escorted by two guards. She was wearing the same dress as the day before but her hair was tangled and her hands were shackled. She walked towards the King with her head held high and a defiant look in her face.

When she walked by Trowa and his friends, Quatre moved forward. Before Trowa could stop him, Quatre was being stopped by a guard for interrupting the sentencing. "I believe I need to be sentenced too," he said in a firm voice.

The guard gave him a puzzled look and then the King intervened. "Walk forward and explain your case."

Quatre approached the throne, stopping at the appropriate distance and giving the King, Lady Lucrezia, and the Princess, a bow. "Dorothy is appearing before you today to be sentenced for the crimes she committed against the King and the kingdom. I come because I aided her and to plead, if your highness permits it, for Dorothy's life."

The room was filled with murmurs. Trowa couldn't believe Quatre was asking for mercy for the woman who had locked him up and tortured him for so long. Moving between the crowd, using his ability to slip unnoticed, Trowa got closer to Quatre, until he was just a few feet away from him, while still hiding behind the other spectators.

"What's your name?" asked the King.

"Quatre Raberba Winner."

More whispering followed those words and the King had to lift a hand for the crowd to quiet down. "I was informed that you defeated the Sorceress and released me from her spell. Was I lied to?"

"No, your highness," answered Quatre. "However, I also aided Dorothy in taking control of your highness' mind."

"You didn't help her, Quatre, she captured you and tortured you to get what she wanted. It wasn't your fault." Trowa had walked forward, standing beside Quatre. All the eyes on the room were on him but Trowa didn't care, he just cared for Quatre at the moment, the rest didn't matter.

"What's your name?" The King asked Trowa.

"Trowa Barton."

The King nodded. "You are part of the resistance and were sent to infiltrate the palace and gather information on the Sorceress." The last word was spoken with disdain.

Trowa didn't wonder where the King had gotten his information. He just took a step forward and spoke. He told the court how he had found Quatre and what he had learned from him. He explained how Quatre had been used by the Sorceress against his will, and finally he told how he had helped Quatre escape and how Quatre had stopped the Sorceress with no aid.

The King hadn't interrupted him once and waited for Trowa to finish before he spoke. "The both of you," he said looking at Quatre and Trowa, "as well as your friends have provided a great service to the kingdom and for that you should be rewarded." He fixed his gaze on Quatre. "Lord Winner, you are as guilty of the crimes you claim as I am for what the Sorceress did to the kingdom while I was under her spells." His expression softened a bit. "If the kingdom has found a way to forgive me, then you must find a way to forgive yourself. To me and to the kingdom you committed no fault."

A loud applause was heard. Trowa had to resist the urge to make himself blend with the shadows. Beside him, Quatre's head was high but his eyes were downcast.

The King held up a hand and the applause died down. "Lord Winner, because you've earned my favor and my respect, I will allow you to plead the Sorceress' case, but have no illusions, the punishment will be severe."

"I'd rather be burnt alive than have him speak for me!" the Sorceress said. She hadn't spoken a word during the whole procedure but apparently the idea of having Quatre defending her was enough to make her protest.

"That can be arranged," replied the King, calmly.

"Your highness," said Quatre. "Regardless of Dorothy's feelings towards me I would like to plead the court for her life. I know how much her actions have crippled the kingdom and I'm aware of the hurt she has caused so many people. However, she's no longer a threat. I've sealed her powers for life. She's harmless now. Would a court condemn a harmless woman to her death?"

Quatre's words were met with silence. The King delivered for a moment before he asked, "Can this seal be undone?"

"Not unless it's undone by me," Quatre replied.

"Your powers exceed those of the Sorceress," the King observed. "If you wanted, you cold take over this court more easily than she did."

Trowa held his breath. He didn't like where this was going.

"I could," replied Quatre truthfully. "But I won't. If the court doesn't trust my word, they can do as they see fit with me."

The Princess whispered something in the King's ear and the King nodded. "I believe you," he said to Quatre softly. Then he turned hard eyes to the Sorceress. "I've made my decision. For the crimes committed against the kingdom, Dorothy Catalonia shall be banished from the land, and is never to step on Sank's soil again." He made a gesture with his hand and the Sorceress was escorted out. She gave Quatre one last glare before the doors of the court room closed behind her.

The court dispersed after the King dismissed them and retired, probably to catch up with his sister and fiancé. They had been informed that they would always be well received in the palace and that the King would take care of any needs they had. Quatre and Trowa left the palace, followed by Heero and Duo. Wufei would be staying with his wife.

Duo and Heero returned to the house quickly, so Duo could get some rest since he hadn't recovered all his energy yet.

Trowa and Quatre stood in the middle of the town square. Quatre was looking up at the sky and Trowa was looking at Quatre.

"I had forgotten how beautiful it is," Quatre said.

Trowa watched the way Quatre looked under the sunlight, the way his hair shone and his eyes sparkled. "It is too beautiful to be forgotten."

They shared a kiss, their first one under the sky, but certainly not the last.


- The End -