Disclaimer: I only own the plot bunnies, characters you've never seen, and a copy of Tin Man on DVD. Just making sure you know that. In case you forgot.
A/N: And this is the end. I am sad. But it has been fun. : )
Effie, love, this is for you.
To all of you AMAZING people who have reviewed or alerted or favorited (or all of the above) thank you!! from the bottom of my heart! This has been a wonderfully crazy ride and I'm so happy you've enjoyed it as much as I have. Your words helped quell my fears and urged me to finish this fun, flangsty fic (oo, look at that alliteration). You have all been so kind, I just can't thank you enough. I hope this epilogue makes you happy! Enjoy!
Lurline swept her thumb across the silver twister symbol of Lucrezia's pendant and glanced up at her youngest daughter. DG stood with her hands behind her back, relaying the story of recapturing her magic, in the middle of the Queen's office at the Northern Island.
She and her husband - along with Ari's parents - had arrived there shortly after receiving word from Ambrose - Glitch - that the companions were safe and resting in the Palace, awaiting the Queen's appearance. It had been four more days until Lurline and Ahamo had stepped foot inside the icy stronghold.
Now she was listening to DG explain events that made the Queen want to shudder in fear for her daughters and their friends, but the young princess didn't seem fazed by it. In fact, there was definitely a renewed air about DG that her mother was interested to investigate - she had a feeling it had something to do with the Tin Man standing near the door.
"You never can do things halfway, can you Spitfire?" Ahamo chuckled lightly, giving his daughter a bright smile.
"Wouldn't be me if I did," she replied, her blue eyes radiating happiness.
"Your father and I did some research while you were on your journey," Lurline said, pulling out one of the tomes she had brought from Kiamo Ko, "Elrin and Melaina had far more expansive records than what is left of ours." Most of the history books that had not included information on the Emerald had been destroyed by the Witch.
"Did you find something about the crazy Countess?" DG inquired leaning forward over the massive book.
"Yes, Lucrezia, the third daughter of the Queen Marina of the House of Gale, she is the great-granddaughter of Dorothy Gale - extremely ancient," Lurline pointed to an etching of three dark haired women standing around the sitting Queen, "According to these texts, Lucrezia was the most powerful of her sisters, and greed overcame her, but when her sister became the Queen, she left the Royal residence and married Count Dilay of the Northern Realm. It's said that she kept amassing magic, until her sisters banded together to defeat her. She was thought to have been killed in the Great Frost as well."
DG rolled her eyes, "Huh, yeah, apparently not."
Lurline smiled softly, "After that, it was forbidden to go to the Northern Realm until most traces of Lucrezia's wickedness was forgotten."
"What is it with this family?" DG gazed at her parents, her hands on her hips.
Ahamo laughed, "Well, we are royal."
DG grinned again, her face going from confusion to amusement in a fraction of a second. Lurline noted the shift of her daughter's gaze to Mr. Cain and the Queen's soft smile grew - her lavender eyes shining knowingly.
"Did anything else happen that you'd like to share with us, Angel?" Lurline asked offhandedly. DG straightened to her full height, eyes on anything but them; and Mr. Cain seemed suddenly far more interested in the conversation than he had been.
DG hesitated, "No…"
Ahamo apparently shared his wife's intuition, "Nothing important might have happened?"
DG's blue eyes met her parents' - both of them wearing identical smirks - and she shook her head in disbelief. She'd known that her father had figured out she had feelings for Cain before they'd even left Kiamo Ko, but her mother hadn't seemed to be aware. It was painfully obvious how wrong she was.
She kicked the toe of her sneaker against the ground, "Well…now that you mention it, there was something else."
Lurline laughed lightly, holding up her hand, "It's all right, angel, we can discuss it later."
DG visibly relaxed. She had no problem talking to people about Cain. She didn't regret it or want to hide it, but she was relatively normal and talking about her love life with both her mother and her father while said love was standing behind her - just a smidge too awkward even for her.
"You may go now, darling," Lurline nodded gently. DG nearly pounced on them but resigned to giving them each a peck on the cheek and walked - pretty briskly - to the hall, her Tin Man following closely behind her.
"He's going to have his hands full with her," Ahamo shook his head with a smile.
"Oh, I have no doubt," Lurline agreed, "I must say, I think it was quite a surprise for them."
Ahamo nodded, squeezing his wife's hand tightly, "The best ones always are."
"I have a surprise for you," DG said, latching onto Cain's arm as they stepped from her mother's office.
"What's that kid?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. She was staring at him with that mischievous little smile on her face that always made him a bit nervous.
"It wouldn't be a surprise if I told you," she replied incredulously.
"I'm not really a fan of surprises," Cain reminded her, but even that didn't seem to deter DG's enthusiasm.
"You'll like this one," she answered, taking a couple steps in front of him and turning back to face the Tin Man - her hand outstretched, "Do you trust me?"
"You know I do." He still hesitated. He couldn't help it. She had this ability to make him do anything she wanted with one look, one dangerous look - and he'd be wrangled into whatever she had planned, "I'm just remembering a promise someone made about not getting into trouble for at least a week."
"First of, it has been six days since I said that - that is almost a week; and second this isn't going to get us into trouble. I promise." She looked sincere. She wiggled her fingers at him, waiting for him to put his hand in hers.
"Come on," she urged. He was getting an annoying sense of déjà vu - the kind where he pulled the exact same line on DG almost two weeks ago at Kiamo Ko - the results of which had actually been quite good, "You know you want to - come on Cain."
He groaned. He couldn't say no to her.
The tiniest laugh escaped her lips as she took his hand and pulled him along after her. She led him down to the end of the hall and through a tiny door he'd never noticed before. Where in Ozma's name is she taking us? She didn't look back as she dragged him inside and down another hallway. They were in the servants' wing now but she didn't stop. Instead she opened a second door and took him up a winding staircase that ended in a final door.
"Princess, what're we doing?" he asked. She turned back to him then, her eyes sparkling brightly, as she pushed the door open and Cain felt cold air hit his face.
"I wanted to show you something," she said quietly. He looked around - they were at the top of one of the large towers, a small round balcony. On the stone floor was a hefty pile of blankets, his duster and hat and her heavy coat.
"You wanted to show me a balcony?" he gave her a smirk that she merely rolled her eyes at, buttoning herself into her coat. She handed him his duster, which he gratefully slid into, and pushed his hat down onto his head.
"Ha-ha - no, I wanted to show you the best view of the Ozian sky," she pointed upwards and his gaze followed her movement. His eyes went wide as he took in the sight above them.
It really was.
Like the night before DG had run off to find her house, the cold air of the North kept the humidity from hazing over the stars, so they all glittered brightly against the black sky. But tonight with the position of the palace on the lake - with only a few peaks taller than this tower - they had arguably the best vantage point in the entire realm.
She had brought him up here, like he had in the Vinkus, to show him something she'd thought he'd like.
And he did.
But it was more the girl than the view.
"Do you like it?" she asked - a nervous touch to her voice.
He smiled, "Come here, kid," he let her curl into his side, pressing a kiss against her temple.
He pulled both of them down onto the blanket pile that DG had so thoughtfully, and then tossed two of the heavy cloths over them both as they leaned againt the wide stone ledge.
She curled tightly into his chest, resting her head against his shoulder, and sighed. He shifted a little and she looked up at him. He was watching the stars above them, his head tilted upwards slightly, the corners of his mouth tugged in half a grin. She didn't tell herself to stop this time as she leaned up and pressed a kiss against one of those corners. He glanced down at her, a surprised sparkle in his baby blue, but an actual grin on his face.
"What was that for?"
She shrugged, "Gotta keep you on your toes, Tin Man."
He nodded softly. She let her hand flutter across his chest - he caught it, pressing it against his coat - his thumb running up the back.
"Somehow, I don't think that's ever going to be a problem for you, Kid," he replied with a smirk. He kissed her squarely on the mouth and she sighed in contented happiness. Maybe this really was her happy ending - nah, there's so much left to go. If it's happy, it's never the end.
"Me neither." She pulled away, smiling brightly at him - her Tin Man - her friend - her protector - and then snuggled back against his chest to watch the stars, like they had so many times now.
She was right.
Quiet and simple.
Just like him.
A/N 2: The End. Sadness. Oh, well, leave me some love!