Sam grinned. "Of course she can. Lydia, I declare you to be free!"
Free. She was free. No longer under Freakshow's control. No longer under Sam's control. No longer under ANY control! She was FREE!
She wanted to scream to the heavens, but her long-unused voice wouldn't let her. She took off into the sky, and flew around for the sheer happiness of it.
Down below, Sam and Tucker watched, big grins on their faces.
A voice behind her said, "Sam, we're very, very proud of you. You too, Tuck."
She and Tucker turned to find Danny and Jazz standing there, grins on their faces.
"How long have you guys been there?" Tucker asked.
"Oh, we followed you out here," said Jazz.
"And stayed invisible while you worked the ritual," added Danny.
"But how? We didn't tell you," said Sam.
"No, Lydia did. She came to see us after she left your house yesterday," said Danny.
"She did?" asked Tucker, scratching his head, "Then that means you were in it with her the whole time."
"That's right," said Jazz.
"See, the problem was that I'm half-ghost, so I couldn't do the ritual; it requires a full human," said Danny, "I refused to help so you would be more determined to do so yourself."
"You used psychology on me!" gasped Sam.
"Actually, that was my doing," said Jazz, "Danny just carried it out."
Sam rounded on Tucker. "Did you know about this?"
"No, I didn't, I swear!" he said, taking a step back from the rapidly-angering Goth Girl.
"Tuck's innocent," said Danny, "He had to be, since you know what a lousy actor he is."
"HEY!" said Tucker, indignant, but the others laughed.
Just then Lydia landed beside them, all smiles. She put her hand on Sam's shoulder. "There is one more decision about me you have to make," she whispered.
Sam looked puzzled. "What's that? I don't think I forgot anything..."
"My payment for my freedom," she answered. She knelt before Sam again. "Send me away and never see me again, or accept my offer to be your friend and ally forever."
Sam grinned, put her hands on Lydia's shoulders, and raised the Goth Ghost to her feet.
"That's an easy one. Friend and ally forever." She and Lydia embraced in a tight hug. Tears ran down both their faces, while Tuck, Jazz, and Danny looked on, smiling.
Jazz went over, and from behind a rock pulled out a picnic basket. "It's nearly noon, and I'll bet you're all hungry," she said.
Soon they were set up in the shade of a huge oak, and working the sandwiches and snacks over.
Lydia said she didn't need to eat or drink, but she accepted some water, and nibbled at some of the snacks. She sat close to Sam.
The two Goths recounted the story of their fight, filling in details for each other.
After lunch they sat and rested for a while, enjoying the peace and quiet of the valley.
"Lydia, how do those tattoos work?" asked Tucker.
"They aren't really tattoos," Lydia said, slightly louder than a whisper. The water must have helped her voice. "They are ghost animals under my control."
"Are you going to free them when you get back to the Ghost Zone?" asked Jazz.
Lydia smiled. "They could leave me at any time they wanted, but after so many years they are my friends. My only friends, until now."
After a while, Jazz got out her laptop. "Lydia, can we do that interview now?"
Lydia nodded, and activated the paper spell again, putting the icon on the laptop. "It will be easier for me to talk this way for a while." Jazz opened it, and started typing questions.
Tucker looked at his PDA, and noticed the LYDIA icon now had green eyes, instead of red.
After the interview, Lydia discovered that Sam had left the picnic area. Hunting around, she found her sitting on a boulder overlooking the valley. She flew up and hovered beside her, hood up to shield her from the sun.
Sam looked at her new ghostly friend and smiled. "This valley is... nice."
Lydia nodded in agreement.
"I'm glad this is summer vacation," continued Sam, "I think I'd like to come here and spend a few days exploring. That waterfall was pretty, and the water good."
"If you think you could stand having me around for that long, I'll come with you," whispered
"LYD--" said Sam, then stopped and grinned. "Okay, you got me. I'd welcome your company."
Lydia nodded, and the two Goths fell silent and looked over the valley.
A couple of hours later they packed up the picnic, and put away the ghost-hunting equipment.
They decided to go back to Sam's place first. Danny would carry Jazz, while Lydia would once again carry Tucker and Sam.
The five of them flew up and toward the westering sun, back to Amity Park. The newly-freed Goth Ghost was taking delight in doing something because she wanted to, not because she had to. She resolved to herself to watch over and take care of her new friend.
Sam enjoyed the flight, feeling secure in Lydia's arm. The ghost had proven herself, and she was glad to have another Goth friend. Her efforts had given them a new friend, and a new ally, and that made it all worth it.
"I was right," Sam thought, as Amity Park came into view, "It really was a strange day."
Okay, so this isn't the third long-promised story in my Ember Trilogy, but it's one I had to write after seeing "Reality Trip". Sorry, but I'm still having problems with "Ember's Sacrifice".
I had a bit of fun by transferring the last line of Ch. 5 to be the first line of Ch. 6and make the most evil cliffhanger I've ever done. : )
Lydia struck me as a tragic character, with lots of pain and suffering in her past, and I wanted to tellsomething aboutit, and give her a happy ending. Sequel is in the works; "Goth's Night Out".
I'm also pretty sure she was named for a song in a Marx Brothers movie, "Lydia the Tattooed Lady". You can find the lyrics online.