I don't own Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria, nor any of the characters from that game. If I did, the ending to VP: Silmeria would be a wee bit different. Instead we get stuck with what Square Enix decides to throw at us...Spoil my fun, why doncha ya? shakes fists at the mighty game company.

----Michelle

"Humans are but dirt beneath our fingertips!!"

It was that statement that greeted Lenneth's ears, brought her back from the pit of darkness she had been cast in. It had been an unpleasant experience, nearly all of her senses sealed away, leaving her only with the blackness beneath her closed eyes, and a searing pain. Occasional flashes of icy blue appeared in the void underneath her eyes, sending shivers up her spine, and yet she could not move. Could not even lift open her eyes, that which was the simplest of tasks, but she remained frozen. She tried to call out for help, and despaired to learn even her voice had been stolen away from her.

Have you ever needed to speak but couldn't? Found you could not form the words, could not even make a single sound deep in your throat? To scream, and yet not say a single word? Lenneth knew, and it would be an understatement to say she did not like it. She had never been conscious during a soul materialization before. Odin had always sent Freya to put the valkyrie to sleep long before he performed the Sovereign's Rite on her. But then, she had never had the Sovereign's Rite performed on her by anyone other than the former Ruler of the Gods.

The pain had been immense, and she could only wonder how much worse it would have been had her sisters not been there to partake in some of the damage. How they had screamed, their voices mingling as one, even as their sisterly bond was torn asunder, and they were separated. Lenneth could only guess as to what had happened to them. Surely they shared her fate, trapped in endless darkness of their own.

How had they come to this fate? Lenneth still found it hard to believe...the power of all three valkyries should have been enough, boosted by the Dragon's Orb held by the Vampire Lord Brahms. A legion of einherjar had been with them, souls collected by her sister Silmeria, along with her human host, and that half elf Odin hoped to use for his own body someday. The odds were overwhelmingly in their favor, and yet they had been taken by surprise.

The one they had been after, a sorcerer who practiced necromancy, had already merged with Odin's body. The fallen God would be dismayed to learn he had been assimilated, body and soul, his personality lost...suffering the very fate he had intended to inflict on the half elf man. Lord Odin's power was surely enough to drive a mortal mad...if he had not dabbled in insanity long before the merger.

He had certainly ranted and raved like a madman when they confronted him. Talking about how all he had done was for her---HER! As though she wanted the blame to be placed on her shoulders. Her cheeks had flamed bright red when he talked about how he wished to rule no other but her. Brahms had snorted in disgust, disbelief in his voice as he questioned the necromancer. "All this was merely to satisfy your lust?!" Embarrassment colored her words, as she had shouted at him, called him a savage, boldly proclaiming she would exact justice on his soul.

A fight broke out then, them against him. Their numbers had been many, even Odin would have been forced to stand down. And yet, Lezard had merely laughed, eagerly casting spell after spell, inundating them with his power. They battled long and hard, never realizing they were playing right into his hands. It was when she and her sisters were positioned side by side, did he spring his trap. With a wild laugh, he flung out his arms, lifting off the ground in flight. Gungnir tightly clenched in his right fist. He lit up, a rainbow of colors all around him, and sent out the power in a blast strong enough to shake the grounds. Alicia fell away from her spot near the Valkyries, and the three battle maidens struggled to remain upright. Too late did they realize his intent, the ground around them glowing blue, a circle with white runes inscripted on them spreading outwards, freezing them in their tracks. Out of the corner of her eye, Lenneth remembered Brahms running forward, slamming up against a forcefield.

Rufus, the half elf recognized this power from when he encountered it in the castle of Dipan. "The Sovereign's Rite!" He shouted, and threw his body atop Alicia's, desperate to protect her from the energy backlash.

"Stop you fool!" Brahms snarled. "What will happen to this world should the three Valkyries cease to exist?!"

But Lezard paid them no mind, his eyes closed, a serene smile on his face. It made her shudder to think that sight was the last thing she had seen, before being lost into the darkness. Time had no meaning here, she had no idea how much had passed since being caught in the soul ritual. Had it been minutes? Hours? Even years? She was confused to find herself suddenly free, free and falling through the air, with no one to catch her. The impact left her gasping on the floor, and she lay there for an instant, gratified for the experience. Her body tingled where it had met the ground, letting her know she was still alive, still capable of feeling.

Putting her palms flat against the floor, she warily looked up. The Necromancer floated in the air, his back to her. His midnight blue cape flared out as he hung in the air, laughing to himself. A crystal was before him, huge enough to house a person, it's front shattered open. He ran his left hand across a jagged edge, slicing it open. He watched the blood well out, a few droplets escaping before his skin healed over, his hand whole once more. Again he laughed, not noticing as the fallen blood mixed with the ground, a green shoot sprouting up in it's place.

Lenneth stayed on the ground, trying to assess the situation. The cavern they were in was beautiful, crystallized ice interlocking together, to form a webbed cage all around them. It sparkled, as moonlight hit it, gaining it's entrance from the very center of the top, where a round hole was cut into the ceiling. Turning her head to the left, she spotted another opening in the crystal dome. Freedom lay in that direction. She wasn't sure what to do...did she dare confront him on her own, weaponless, friendless...or did she sneak away and live to fight another day?

She got onto her knees, eyeing him warily. He seemed completely oblivious to her, as he conversed with himself. Could it really be that easy...? Licking her lips nervously, she silently said a prayer in her mind, wishing for Sleipnir's speed. She sprang up to her feet, skirt rustling, armored boots banging against the floor loudly. She inwardly cringed, hating that her armor made so much noise as she ran.

No cries, neither dismayed ones of stop, or even a word of warning came. It was as though she was beneath his notice, and for a second Lenneth dared to hope she'd get away. It was dashed when Gungnir came crashing down before her, effectively blocking the doorway. "Ah..." Lezard said from behind her. "Lenneth Valkyrie. Going somewhere?"

She did not dignify that with a response, instead grasping Gungnir by it's center. With a loud battle cry, she spun on her heels, thrusting the weapon with all her might through the necromancer. It passed through his midsection as though he was a ghost, and she nearly fell, caught off balance as her swing went uninhibited. She righted herself, and shot him her best glare.

"That icy stare of yours sends chills down my spine!"

"Then let it be the last thing you ever see!" She tried to swing Gungnir upwards, intent on smashing it through Lezard's face, but it would not move. A sly smile on his face, Lezard held up his hand, it glowing pearl white. Gungnir responded to his call, straining in her grasps towards the wizard. Lenneth tried to hold on, digging her heels into the floor, only to be dragged forward bit by bit. It felt as though her arms were being wrenched out of her sockets as she tried to hold on, her muscles screaming in pain till she was forced to let go with an anguished cry. Gungnir eagerly leapt into Lezard's waiting hand, and with his left one he pushed his glasses back up his nose.

"You see Lenneth Valkyrie." He laughed. "Gungnir recognizees it's rightful master! It's time you do the same!"

"Never!" She hissed, fingering her throbbing wrist.

"Never is a long time my dear!" With a wave of his hand, she flew forward away from the entranceway. "And we have all of eternity to spend together! Past, present, future! Your fate belongs to me!"

"I make my own destiny!" She struggled, managing to break free of the wind that guided her across the room. "And you will be no part of it!"

"Yes, yes! How passionate you are!" He smiled widely at her, teeth flashing. "That self-righteous anger, that fire in your eyes! How I love that about you!"

"I hate you." She told him scornfully.

"Hate?" He arched his eyebrows. "That's good...better to feel something for me, than nothing at all! It simply means other feelings can develop!"

"You're mad!"

"Mad with desire!" He flew up to the center of the room, and spun around slowly, arms extended to the side, in a grand gesture. "What do you think of my world?" He asked her. "I created it just for us."

"I think it's as twisted as you are." Lenneth said, making him laugh at her response.

"You will add balance to it then."

"Me?!" She asked.

"Yes you!" Lezard touched down on the ground, thrusting Gungnir into the floor so that it stayed upright when he released his grip on it's handle. "You will be Frigga to my Odin!"

Her stomach turned at the thought. She had no desire to create a race of new Gods with him. "Ahhhhh...Lenneth Valkyrie, it was inevitable..." He walked towards her, his amethyst eyes alight with desire. "It was inevitable that we come together in the end."

"Stay away from me!" Lenneth cried, backing away from him.

"My love!" He quickened his step, easily keeping pace with her.

"What have you done with the others?" She demanded, her back hitting against the wall. She stayed pressed up against it, sliding along to the left, thinking she might be able to keep moving until she reached the entrance.

"Those insignificant worms are still alive, if that's what you're asking." He gave a graceful shrug of his shoulders. Lenneth closed her eyes, and let out a sigh of relief. "They matter not to me. Only you are important." He was suddenly within a hair's breath from her, taking hold of her hands. "Lenneth Valkyrie." He kept saying her name in a possessive tone, as though he could own her as easily as he did her true name. She tried pulling her hands from his, but he held on, pulling her into his embrace. He gave a low, throaty chuckle in her ear, causing goosebumps to rise on her skin. "You thought me lower than a snake, yet I have caught you!"

"No..." She denied, though his holding her proved otherwise.

"Yes..." He whispered, a kiss gracing behind her ear lobe. He reached up, unfastening her helmet with one hand, the feathered metal hitting the floor with a bang. He pulled back enough to stare at her, her luminous blue eyes wide and wary of him "Beautiful...so beautiful..." He grasped her by the back of her head, pushing her forward. "Lezard..." She managed to say, before he forced his mouth onto hers. She struggled, trying to resist, not wanting to return the kiss. His tongue pushed insistently at her lips, demanding entrance. She gave it to him, when she opened her mouth to bite at him, and with a pained cry he pulled back. With a shove, he had her on the floor, while he towered over her, fingering his mouth. His eyes narrowed as he stared at the blood on his hand. "Fine then." He flicked the blood at her, and she turned her head to the side. "There are other things we can do besides kiss."

"What are you..." She shrieked, as with a snap of his fingers, vines entwined around her body. "Spiritual Thorn!" Lezard said in a commanding voice, the spell draining away most of Lenneth's energy. The Goddess slumped weakly on the floor, Lezard crouching besides her.

"No stop!" She tried to move away from his reaching hands, hands that went straight to her armor. He snapped open the shoulder pads, tossing them over his shoulder. With a smile he reached for the metallic blue breast plate, and with his new found strength only a tug was needed to break it open. Underneath was revealed a white dress, sleeveless, with a modest neckline that gave just a hint of her breasts to him. He leaned into her, hands reaching up to cup those breasts, even as he kissed the side of her neck. He licked and he bit, marking her as his, even as he fondled her tender flesh, causing her nipples to pebble beneath his fingers. "Perfection given human form..." He whispered to himself, fingering the strands of her hair that had come loose. "Tell me Lenneth Valkyrie...if Gods and mortals cannot fall in love with each other, why do they mimic each other so much in appearance...?"

"Stop..." Lenneth said, trying to twist away from his wandering hands.

"I wonder what it will be like to make love as a God...surely it must be something spectacular!" His mouth slowly made it's way down from her neck, a wet trail going ever lower until it reached her breasts. He kissed between them, causing her to gasp and wiggle even more. His one hand dropped from her chest, going to encircle her waist, pulling her into his lap. The vines snapped free of the floor, though remained tied about her body, restricting her to only the briefest of movements. He had her propped up in a sitting position, her front nearly even with his face. He rained kisses down on her skin, moving to take her left nipple in his mouth, covered though it was. He sucked wetly against the thin material, feeling her writhe and moan against him. His free hand played with her right mound, loving the feel of it's roundness, it's heavy but supple skin being molded against his hand as he squeezed. "Lezard!" Lenneth gasped out, her eyes half lidded from the intensity of the feelings he wrought upon her body.

"Are you excited?" He asked her, looking up from her breasts. He practically purred the next line. "Fear not, soon we shall be united as one."

"No!" She feebly protested. "...the others..."

"Oh they would be fools to come here." Lezard informed her. "But they view themselves as heroes! Out to save the world, and you, my sweet." He tossed back his head, a near hysterical laugh echoing in the crystal chamber. "As if you need saving from me, the one who worships and adores you, the one who loves you!" But he held off from touching her any further. "You're right you know..."

"Am I?" Lenneth asked, confused as to what he could mean.

"They will be coming here. They can't help themselves!" His eyes flashed with menace. "And as much as I am loathe to put off our joining, I'd sooner wait and destroy them, then have them come and interrupt us!" He smoothed back the hair from her face. "Oh do not worry my darling. It'll only take an instant to squash them like the bugs they are!" He risked her teeth, to give her a quick kiss on the lips, the Valkyrie too dismayed by his plans to react in time to draw more blood.

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When Alicia and the others arrived, they saw Lenneth, free of the crystal, laying unconscious on the floor. Her armor was removed, and tossed haphazardly on the ground. "Lenneth!" cried out Brahms, aghast to see her like this. He supposed he should be relieved she was still dressed.

"Lezard! Show yourself!" demanded Rufus. Laughter greeted his ears, as Lezard floated down from the ceiling, clad in midnight blue. "Welcome my friends!" He swept out his arm, mockingly bowing at the waist. "I'm honored you came to celebrate, but really, you shouldn't have..." The ground shook, and began bubbling, their legs sinking into it.

"Move!" Rufus said, scooping Alicia into his arms. He leapt out of the liquidfying dirt, landing on more solid ground. Arngrim and Brahms doing the same.

"Dark Savior!" Lezard commanded, the red and black blades striking at the two men. The necromancer laughed as they scattered, doing their best to stay out of the way of his deadly magical blades. "Yes, yes! You puppets dance on the palm of a God!"

Rufus set Alicia down on the ground, and reached for his bow. He cocked back the string, sighting an arrow down at Lezard's back. "Blinding Blaze!" He cried out, as the arrow was released. It sped towards the wizard, picking up speed, until it was a blur of light. Suddenly color was added to it's whiteness, a bright magenta whirling about the arrow's head. The white and purple blended together, and then split apart, raining down a hale of light arrows towards the new God. "Forcefield!" shouted Lezard, an invisible shield going up all around him. The arrows bounced off the see through wall, ricocheting back towards their sender. "Rufus!" Alicia cried out, as he was hit with his own attack.

"Argh!" The half elf cried out, falling backwards to the ground.

"Damn you!" Alicia drew her sword.

"Come at me, my pretty little princess!" taunted Lezard, dropping his forcefield. Brahms leaped up behind him. "Bloody Knuckle!" Lezard dodged to the right, and then the left, laughing all the while. Brahms bellowed in rage, throwing punch after punch at the wizard who stayed just out of reach. "Gungnir!" The blade materialized in his hand, and he swung it up, knocking Brahms from him as though he was swatting a flea.

Even as Brahms fell, Arngrim moved to take up his place. "Come over here you little twerp!" He swung his heavy blade at Lezard, the two weapons meeting in a clash of sparks. "And you sir, are a musclebound idiot." Lezard placed a hand on Arngrim's face. "Lightning Bolt!"

"It's not over yet!" Rufus shot off another arrow, even as Alicia leaped into the air over Lezard. She brought her sword down in front of her, hoping to cleave him into two, but he turned and blocked with Gungnir. She kicked out with her leg, hitting Lezard in the kneecap. He grunted and bent forward, and she smashed the hilt of her sword into his face. Lezard let out an enraged cry, one hand over his face, the other reaching out to blast Alicia away from him.

Rufus hurried to catch her in his arms, even as Brahms and Arngrim tried to tag team Lezard. Leaping onto Lezard's back, Arngrim grabbed hold of his arms. Lezard struggled, waving Gungnir around wildly, as Brahms tried to pummel his stomach. "ENOUGH!!" He glowed with white light, the two men being flung off of him. "I grow tired of this..." Lezard grinned. "It's time I do away with you gnats once and for all!"

"No..." Alicia cried out, as she found herself unable to move, encircled by dark magic.

"Got to get away..." Rufus shouted, also struggling to escape the black energy bands that circled about his body, lifting him into the air. Brahms and Arngrim also suffered a similar faith.

"Oh don't worry...I'll send you far, far away..." Lezard promised, his voice dripping with satisfaction. "Open the gates to Nifleheim...More souls await!" He began chanting in a long dead language, his eyes going pupil less as power flowed over the room. "Ha Moc Na Min!"

Their voices raised together in fear, all screaming, even the mighty Brahms as pain washed over them, their bodies twisting in place as they tried to escape. But it was all for not, and all too soon they fell from the sky, turning into golden powder upon hitting the ground.

"What have you done?!" asked Lenneth in a shaky voice, having woken up just in time to catch the end of the battle.

"Merely sent four fools to their long overdue graves!" Lezard told her, landing besides the valkyrie. "Now..." He smiled, pulling her up off the ground. "Where were we?"

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Alicia felt as though her body was being torn apart. She screamed and she screamed until she thought her throat would break from the effort, and still the pain persisted. It felt like a million pins and needles jabbing themselves into her body over and over. Dizzying she felt a falling back motion, which only made her cry out even more. "Alicia!" A familiar voice cried, arms going around her, cradling her against his body. "It's okay."

And still she screamed, unable to believe him, the pain was just too real. The experience to fresh in her mind. She could remember falling INTO the floor, her body splashing against it as though she was nothing but water. If not for the pain she would have thought herself dead, but you couldn't hurt like this in the afterlife...could you? It would be too cruel, to terrible to contemplate feeling like that for all eternity. It hurt worse than when the ghoul powder had started to take hold of her body. That had been a light slap in the face compared to what Lezard had done.

Her ears had long since gone numb to her cries, and her eyes were no better. Seeing without true sight, unaware of her surroundings. And then...a warm mouth, gentle and soft against her, kissing her slowly but sensuously. A muffled cry came out from her before she could stop it, the man kissing her deeper for it. She blinked, feeling safe and loved...but what trickery was this...

"Are we dead?" she managed to ask when he pulled away from her, breathing in deeply of the sweet scented air.

"Not quite..." Another voice said, grim and tired sounding.

"Not all of us at any rate." said a third.

Alicia raised a shaky hand to her eyes, squinting as light from the sun blinded her. The sun?! It had been dark in Lezard's domain. What was going on...?

"Are you feeling better now?" asked the one who held her. She turned and looked at him. Rufus. "Screaming won't do any good."

"Ah let her scream." The warrior in blue gauntlets said, throwing his hands up in the air in disgust. Arngrim. "I certainly feel the need to after all that has happened."

"Drink this...it will make the burning go away." The dark haired, brown skinned one said. Brahms. She thought, taking the fairy tincture from his hands gratefully. She gulped down the drink, the cool liquid sliding down her sore throat, refreshing her from the inside out.

"Thank you." She said, when she finished downing the mixture. "I...I guess we lost..."

Rufus nodded, while Arngrim rolled his eyes at her statement. "But...why are we still alive...I would have thought Lezard would have killed us!"

"He tried to." Brahms said. "OR rather, he DID kill us."

"We got better." quipped Arngrim, trying to make light of the situation.

"But how...?" Here the men looked away from Alicia, none wanting to answer her. "Rufus?" She reached up to grasp his face in her hands, turning him to look down at her. His green eyes looked sad, and she swore the shine to them was of unshed tears. "Tell me? Please!" She looked imploring at him, and he had to close his eyes to block out the sight of her face. "Brahms? Arngrim?" Her voice grew shaky with fear. "Why won't you answer me?!"

"It was Silmeria..." Rufus said at last. "Silmeria and Hrist."

"What do you mean..." Her hands fell away from his face, and they shook in her lap as she braced herself for the worst.

"It was only through the sacrifice of the crystals that housed the spirits of Silmeria and Hrist..." Brahms spoke up, drawing her attention to him. "It was through their deaths, the release of their energy that we were able to survive." She gasped, her hand going to her mouth as she fought not to scream. Alicia had known by their refusal to talk to her that there was bad news to be delivered, but she hadn't expected to learn of the deaths of her dear friend and soul sister.

"Silmeria is dead..." She blinked back tears. "Hrist too..." She glared at Brahms. "It was you!"

"Alicia no!" protested Rufus.

"Don't tell me to be quiet!" She snapped, struggling out of his arms. She pointed at the vampire lord. "You were the one carrying the crystals...you killed them to save yourself!"

"..." Brahms merely looked at her sadly.

"I should have listened to Hrist when she said you were not to be trusted!" She turned her back on Brahms, her shoulders shaking as she tried to suppress her rage.

"Believe what you will." The dark haired vampire said, turning to leave the clearing.

"Alicia, listen to me!" Rufus grabbed her by the arms, spinning her around to face him. "It's not Brahms fault. Silmeria herself chose this route."

"What..." Her eyes widened in surprise.

"She was glad to die, if it meant saving you..." Rufus explained. "Both she and Hrist agreed this was the only way..."

"I...I could believe that of Silmeria perhaps...but Hrist..." Alicia shook her head. "Hrist cared nothing for me!"

"She liked you more than you think." replied Rufus.

"It's true." spoke up Arngrim. "She spoke of you often while we were in Valhalla. She didn't want to kill you, and she even wanted to spare you seeing your father get killed. It's why she sent that archer to delay you on the road to Dipan."

"The boy God..." murmured Alicia, stunned by this news.

"The two of them combined their powers to save us all..."

"How do you know all this?!" Alicia demanded, still suspicious. "On whose word did you get this story."

"I witnessed it." Rufus said. "You were still unconscious, but they appeared to us, to say good-bye one last time..."

"And I missed it..." A tear slipped out of her eye, trailing down her face. Why must she always be so weak! The first to fall in battle, the last to rise. It had her cost her one last chance to see her dearest friend.

"...Yes..." Rufus agreed, not knowing what else to say. He reached up to wipe away her tears, wishing he could do more to comfort her.

"So now what..." Alicia asked dully, leaning in to Rufus' touch. "Where do we go from here...wait...where is here?"

"We're on the outskirts of Villnore." said the heavy blade warrior. "About a day's journey away."

"We're on Midgard?!" Alicia gasped, reaching to grab Rufus' hand. "Rufus! The ring! You need it back!" She went to pull it off her finger, but he stopped her before she could slip it off completely. "Keep it." He told her. "I've no need of it now."

"He's been talking to you all this time without pain." pointed out Arngrim. "I'd say this means the curse was lifted when Odin was killed."

"Really?!" Alicia exclaimed excitedly. "Oh Rufus! I'm so happy for you!" She threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. His arms went around her, returning the hug.

"It's a good thing too..." Rufus' eyes were relieved. "I don't think we'd be welcome on Asgard...and you need the ring to stave off the effects of ghoul powder."

"...right..."

"Don't tell me you almost forgot!" Rufus exclaimed in astonishment.

"I haven't!" She was quick to reassure him. "It's just, there's so much to take in...I'm glad your soul won't be burned away without the ring."

"I'd take the curse back in an instant if it meant there was a way to cure you of your affliction." The archer told her, caressing her face slowly.

"Ahem..." Arngrim coughed pointedly, and the two pulled apart, both blushing in embarrassment. "So what are you two kids planning to do next?"

"Well..."

"Shouldn't we try to face Lezard again?" asked Alicia.

"I don't see how...we have no way to get back to his world." Arngrim said. "The mirror fragment was lost."

"We could always try the original water mirror..." Alicia pointed out.

"We could...but are you that eager to die again?" asked Arngrim. "We have no one to pull our fat out of the fryer this time. Even Brahms has abandoned us..."

"...I hurt his feelings..." realized Alicia. "I hope I get a chance to apologize..."

"Do we have to decide this today?" asked Rufus.

"You don't want to go back either?" Alicia turned hurt eyes towards the archer.

"I don't think any of us want to..." He said uncertainly. "But we will if we have to. It's just...let's wait and see what happens. Perhaps the little twerp will be content to stay in that horrible world he created. He may leave Midgard alone."

"I don't like leaving things to chance..." Alicia said. "It's too risky."

"We'll talk about this tomorrow morning, all right?" asked Rufus. "I think we should all sleep on it before making any big decisions."

"All right." Alicia agreed, and Rufus let out a prayer of thanks for her compliance. He hoped that when the morning came he could convince her to forget about going after Lezard, and try for a more attainable quest. Like getting a cure for the ghoul powder. He thought with a groan, as he followed the others towards Villinore.

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Erm...maybe the fight scene was a little rushed? Don't expect this to go anywhere else. Er...except maybe full blown lemon territory, but...shrugs Ah...know I should be working on other things, but after replaying the ending of VP: Silmeria, I got all depressed again. Redid the final battle without Valkyrie in the party, just to be rewarded with a few seconds of blink and you miss him, Lezard as a boy in the background, "scene". Still doesn't make the ending any less sad. So I wanted to do a fic where he got a different ending, and succeeded. Even if it's just to cheer myself up! ;-p Hope somebody else...found it interesting as well. And yes, I worked in a lot of those lines he says to the crystallized Lenneth. Found them quite delicious and fun!

...actually I think I could write something more without having to go into lemon land...maybe I should...who knows...depends on where the whim takes me...dang it...this was supposed to be a one shot...and now I plot bunnied myself...

--------Michelle