Disclaimer: The characters herein are not mine. No infringement is intended.
The summary comes from a line in the Dixie Chicks' song "Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)".
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Warning: Character death.
The harsh tear of the bullet through her chest does not buckle her. In fact, she stays upright long enough to pull a revolver from her ankle and fire two shots of her own, felling her assassin as he approaches through the crowd.
DG falls only once she's checked to make sure her parents and her sister are safely within the company of the Royal Guard and being ushered quickly back to safety.
They all knew this had been a probability. Not even a possibility, but an almost certainty. It was why Cain had taught her to shoot, why she'd taken to hiding his backup pistol beneath the confines of her skirts.
It doesn't make it hurt any less.
Cain's face is the first one she sees, his hands the first ones she feels on her face. They are sticky with her blood and the sweat of his fear. She tries to swallow and clear her throat, and tastes not words of goodbye, but the copper of flowing blood. When she tries to speak, the gurgle sprays Cain's chin. He does not flinch, so she does not either.
He soothes the terror out of her in that moment, just as he has for as long as they've known each other. He is the white light so many spoke of, and promised would carry her through this world, and the next. Even as the cold panic works through his eyes, she focuses on the love and admiration hiding behind the horror. Those are the last things she wants to see in this life. That is what will warm her on the next part of her journey.
His face swims hazily as she begins to lose consciousness. Other, long forgotten visions play across her eyelids.
Her first ride on her motorcycle, the wind and sunshine dancing in her hair, how the initial feeling of nervousness transformed into exhilaration, excitement so intoxicating she found she needed a drink just as an alcoholic would.
The faces of her parents--Emily, Hank, Lavender and Ahamo--all smiling at her, because of, or in spite of, all the things she'd done in her short life.
Azkadellia, once as lost and desolate as her little sister had been--finding enough grace and forgiveness for both of them; creating light and hope out of darkness, despite all they'd seen, despite all those who said it could never be.
Raw, her faithful friend, who could explain more to her about her feelings, about the world, than she could ever understand, but who never thought less of her for it.
Ambrose, who would forever be Glitch to her, who was quick with a smile and a laugh--no matter how unintentional--and who loved her family almost as much as she did, who would protect them when she was gone.
Cain, whom she'd rescued, and who rescued her right back, in more ways than one.
As the colors begin to fade, she sees things that will never be.
She sees him in the early morning light, laughing at something she'd said. She sees herself batting at his bare chest in mock indignation, letting him catch her hands and pull her towards him, silencing her own delighted laughter with a kiss.
She sees him waiting dutifully in the doorway, hat in hand, as she worries not about the amount of ruffles on her godforsaken dress, or how her mother's definition of propriety and her own could not be further apart, but about what anyone ever saw in her that would make them think she could be a fair and proper ruler. She sees him cross the room, settle his hands on her hips from behind, and meet her stare in the mirror. She feels him kiss the back of her neck and whisper that everyone sees what he sees: a brave woman with a good, loving heart; someone who wants to do right in the world, no matter the danger or the cost to her; someone who has saved more people than either of them can count. It is unspoken, but evident in their shy, matching smiles, that he places himself at the top of that list.
She sees a quiet dance for two in the gazebo in Finaqua, interrupted by the bright laughter of children. The little girls, a perfect mixture of their Princess mother and Tin Man father, leap into their parents' arms, just as she did when she was a child. She settles one effortlessly on her hip, catching the girl's chubby fingers with her own, twirling the dark-haired sprite beneath the moonlight in a manner that would make Ambrose proud. The other child places her feet carefully on her father's toes, and they, too, dance and spin into happy oblivion.
She forces her eyes open one more time. Cain's worried gaze still lingers on her face, his eyes full of tears. In her final moments, she feels guilt, horrible that he has to lose something so precious to him again.
She finds the time and energy for one last movement, and she reaches up to cup his face, stroking his cheek tenderly. His blood-stained hand immediately covers hers, and his tears cascade over their linked fingers. He leans down to better hear her.
Her whisper is fleeting, but the thankful devotion behind her words is not.
"I love you for all the days you gave me, and for the ones we'll never have."
Her eyes slip shut again, finally, and the sun hides behind the clouds in mourning.