Here it is, the very last... it didn't quite turn out the way I wanted it to, but I think it turned out pretty good. x)
Hehe, I'm sure if you've ever uploaded a final chapter, you might know just how nervous it makes me. Well, here goes!!
It had taken what seemed like ages for Lavi to convince Cross that he couldn't intoxicate himself in any way while they entered Aquila. Even so, the man had managed to sneak a single bottle of booze out of his wagon before they had cleared it out and turned it into a cage. They had draped a blanket over it, concealing the fearsome wolf inside, before setting off for the holy city. Anita, Cloud, and Lenalee all sat up front with a very pleased looking Cross, all three women dressed in black cloaks that hid their faces from prying eyes. The fact that he had been able to sit out the entire ride into Aquila, with Goliath pulling the wagon along with Cross's lazy bay horse, sitting next to three gorgeous women was enough to satisfy the man, and it was able to keep him sober for just the right moments, such as this one.
"Hold! What have we here?" barked the portly guard as they approached.
"What do you think? A gift for the fa- His Grace, a fine pelt for his wall," Cross returned, with forced politeness. His companion, a lanky figure with a hooked nose and beady black eyes, tore at the cloth concealing the black wolf, which jumped at the cage, snapping his fangs at the man and growling. The guard stumbled back onto the stony ground, cursing under his breath.
"Heh. I've never had the pleasure of killing a wolf before," the first guard growled, drawing his blade and attempting to stick it into the cage. Next to Cross, Lenalee tensed, grabbing his arm tight.
"How strange," Cross drawled, sarcasm accenting his voice, "That's exactly what His Grace the Bishop said. I'm sure he'll understand if you deprive him of that pleasure, he's a very forgiving sort of man."
At that, the guard paled, swallowing hard and sheathing his blade. He knew very well just how forgiving His Grace could really be. With one last glance at the growling beast, he threw the tarp over the cage again, concealing it from view.
"Very well. Pass on."
Cross smirked at the man, wondering somewhere in the back of his mind where he'd put that alcohol.
"Wise decision," he commented, as the guard bellowed for his fellow men to clear the post, "Be glad you aren't a complete idiot, like a certain somebody I know of."
Before the guard could ask who he was talking about, the wagon began to move into the city. Nobody noticed the lithe figure that disappeared from underneath the wagon and into the river gates...
"This-!" The grimy gate forced him to plunge under the murky water once again, taking in a huge breath and diving below the drainage gate, on the other side of which accumulated unknown filth that couldn't make it through the grate. The aroma of the balmy, dry winter air left him the moment he emerged.
"- is so gross!!" Allen gasped as his snow white hair broke the surface. Once again, the teen found himself in the Aquilan sewers, this time to get in rather than out. The underground passageways didn't seem too different from the last time he had been here, which he was thankful for, at least. The fact that they were vaguely familiar allowed him to easily find the pipe that lead upward – directly into the Grand Cathedral of Aquila, where took place the morning mass.
"Well, I've come full circle here, Mana. I'd like to think there was some higher meaning to all of this, it really would reflect well on you!"
As he had done before, Allen used his claw to climb steadily up the drain, but was stopped as one of the clergymen stood over the grate ("Damn..."). Allen rolled his eyes, giving the grate a good push. The clergy man gasped and looked down, but failed to move from his position. Allen grimaced, with only one more option at his disposal. Using the tip of his claw, he jabbed it into the sole of the man's foot. Finally, the man jumped off the grate with a surprised cry, startling another clergyman next to him. When the latter gave him a strange look, he quickly muttered something that sounded like "mice" ("Rats?! Here?! Scandalous.") Allen almost chuckled at the irony as the two men returned their attention to the mass.
This was perfect because, with nobody's eyes on the floor and all attention directed toward the front, Allen was easily able to lift the drain away (alert as he was for approaching feet) and slip out of the pipe. Cautiously, he made his way behind a marble column, rejoicing at his amazing luck as he discovered a white cloak hung up on the wall beside him. Draping the disguise around his skinny body, hiding his face behind its milky white hood, Allen weaved his way cleverly through the shadows toward the back of the mass, where he was frustrated to find two guards already working on locking it up. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, gathering his nerves. He would have to do this fast.
'Alright, Mana, if you ever decided to count up my good karma, now would be the time to return the favor,'
"It's too late, the mass will be over soon!" Lavi growled impatiently, pacing before the other red headed man who was now indulging in his well-earned booze, sitting between Anita and Cloud. "I can wait no longer, old man. If Allen has done his job, I can kill the Bishop now."
"Old man...?? Stupid brat... I'm hardly even forty..." Cross hissed under his breath, which Lavi didn't hear. The younger man stopped his pacing and looked up at the hawk perched atop the wagon. The small party was hidden in an absent street behind the cathedral where nobody ever wandered into. Lavi sighed, as if he were saying farewell to her, then brought his green eye back down to Cross.
"I'm going. If the service ends peacefully, if the cathedral bells begin to toll... then you'll know that I've failed." Lavi began to unfasten Goliath from the wagon, and Cross eyed him quizzically.
"But-!" Anita cried suddenly, glancing up at the hawk, whose face was hidden by a small hood, then back again at Lavi, "What about Lenalee? What will happen to her?"
Lavi paused, looking to the ground in sorrow.
"I beg you, take her life. Quickly. Painlessly."
Cross snorted. ("Idiot.") Lavi shot him a glare.
"I ask one thing, old man - take her life!" Lavi barked, voice accented by his desperation. His eye then melted away sadly, "She wouldn't want to be... like this. Forever."
"She wouldn't be if you'd just hold your impatience!" Cross bellowed, standing, swaying, and falling back on his bottom.
"I'm not impatient, I'm taking my opportunity and embracing it!" Lavi countered, climbing atop Goliath, "Just know this; I'm grateful."
Cross looked up skeptically.
"I'm thankful for everything you've done for me. For her. Just know that I forgive you."
With that, Lavi galloped away to confront his destiny. Cross watched him go, frowning. He then sighed long and deep, draping an arm around the two ladies, who watched the younger man with worry.
"God help him."
The dawn emerged, bringing with it Lavi's new found humanity. Just as he predicted. He could feel his form – the soft skin, his messy red hair, the tired muscles that had been working on their own all night long to run about the forest. And the cool air, biting at his skin, daring him to open his eyes and face the reality of his current situation. The same skin that, so longingly, begged his body to move from the cold snow it lay in. But he didn't want to.
His fingers twitched. What did this all mean? Lavi groaned in frustrated confusion; bafflement that was slowly making shapes in his mind. He couldn't remember anything. Why was he here, without his clothing, in the snow? The last he remembered was the sun going down, and then everything after was a blur. The night, a horse, a girl... Lenalee...
His eyes shot open as the hawk flew overhead, cries piercing the air. The morning sky, overcast and white as the snow he lay in, met his eyes. Nothing seemed unusual about it. Nothing at all. It was just a normal day, a day like yesterday, and a day as tomorrow soon would be. But something was amiss. His jade eye followed the hawk in the sky.
There was a whimper to his left. As his head turned, the small, fearful face of a young girl hid behind the small fence post. Tears streaking her face, she watched Lavi with her blue eyes wide and alert, looking so alone and helpless. Why was she looking at him like that?
Lavi sat up, bringing a hand behind his neck. It was awfully sore, almost as if...
He brought his hand back before his face, examining the red that tinted his skin. It was then he felt the wound where he's been struck. The half memory came back in a flash. A man. His wife. Their child. Anger. Pain. Blood.
Lavi's head turned about, observing his surroundings. There was but one shack here, a small house just big enough for a small family. There were a few dead, mutilated chickens laying around, and a small stable that looked as if it might have once housed a horse. By his leg, buried slightly by the snow, lay a broken pole, its handle snapped at the end, splinters jutting out like a porcupine. As if to answer the question that surfaced, a pain in the back of Lavi's head reminded him that he had been struck by such a pole.
His eye then settled on another lump in the snow. Sickeningly, Lavi knew what it was. As if to confirm his suspicions, Lavi brushed a hand over the lump, shuddering as it revealed the pale, icy skin of a man. This man, who had bled out through his neck, whose last efforts to harm the beast was knocking it out cold with the nearest weapon – a plank of wood. And now, in a painful, sickening revelation, Lavi understood what had frightened the poor girl.
It was guilt and shame that made him desire anything but to look again, but he did, and rehashed the feelings as if he'd been bathing in them as the girl shrunk backward into the snow with a small cry. What have I done? His stricken appearance betrayed the little girl, who, between them, deserved the reaction more than he. And he was left again with the guilt he so selfishly wanted to mend. He wanted to help her. But what courage did he have – to go up to that girl whom he had taken everything from, expecting her forgiveness, and to try and make himself feel better by bringing her with him? How selfish! But what could he do? Leave her?
He picked himself up out of the snow, approaching the girl gingerly. She struggled more and more against the fence, backing into it to such an extent that Lavi decided she might as well break it down. He held out his hand to her, but she swat it away with a small cry as if it might bite her.
Lavi grimaced. He didn't blame her. But what was one to say in a situation such as this? I'm sorry I brutally killed your family? No, that wouldn't cut it. And it seemed nothing would.
"I know you hate me right now," he spoke, frightening the girl, who probably expected a growl or wolfish sound, "And I won't ask you to forgive me, either. If there's anything I can do, there's no way I can fully apologize for my behavior."
He didn't even know if that fully expressed his position, but he didn't think the girl even cared. In the next moment he was on his feet, wandering aimlessly in search of his camp. It wasn't long before he found the small setup, where his clothes were sprawled out on the ground in a heap. Dressing quickly, he began to take care of Goliath in hopes he might remember what exactly had transpired the night before. The horse wasn't too used to his presence yet, probably wondering when his master might return; and Lavi was glad in a way that horses couldn't talk, because he didn't think he would be able to explain the sad fate which befell the previous owner.
In the weeks that followed, Lavi continued to have foggy dreams about the night, waking in the morning on the ground or next to some dead animal. It wasn't until the fourth week that he decided to investigate this phenomenon, because he knew without a doubt that during the night, something was happening to him that caused him to become berserk, losing his senses, logic, and reason. He thought of leaving Lenalee a note, but the idea was immediately shot down when he remembered that Lenalee couldn't read. As his frustration grew, as did his wandering. As chance would have it, he awoke one peculiar morning in, of all places, a castle. Well, more or less, in a cage, but a castle no less.
The cage was indeed small, cramped, and only fit for an animal. It seemed he had been shoved into the small encasement during the night, placed in a corner, and left there. Confused, he shifted about in the cage, pressing against the rusty iron bars. And as luck would have it, he managed to dislodge the top with much force. Freedom. Rising from the prison, he looked about the room he was in; the floor was what Lavi guessed to be the accumulated filth of centuries, with dust, dirt, and straw littering the cobbled stone floor, and the walls not too different, although thanks to the force of gravity, they lacked the same straw that was about the floor, instead lined with all sorts of weapons and sharp objects. His gaze continued to wander, to a window on the opposite wall, where which sat an enormous rat, nibbling at a piece of dry bread, focusing all the time an intelligent and inquiring eye upon the new occupant of the room. Below the window was a pile of worn cloth, which Lavi took the liberty of draping around his bare skin like a robe. With this, he wandered his way down the hall that adjoined the room. Imagine his surprise when he came face to face with an impressively tall figure with equally red hair. The latter hadn't even time to blink before Lavi sprang at the man, grasping him by the shoulders tightly.
"Sir, you, I beg you, have I done anything wrong?" The man eyed him with scrutiny, brushing his two shaking hands from his coat.
"Since you asked, I'll be frank with you – yes! Yes, you have done something terribly wrong!"
"Tell me I haven't killed somebody!"
"You may have killed me! First, you touch my coat – I've just washed it – and now you intend to deprive me of a new one!"
"Not agai- ah, wait. What?"
"I'll venture a guess, boy, tell me your name."
"I'm..." Lavi hesitated a moment, "Bookman. They call me Bookman." The taller man rolled his own eyes behind the spectacles, as if he didn't quite believe him.
"Well, 'Bookman', you have one eye. Green, that is."
"Yes?" Lavi returned, urging him to continue and wondering what this had to do with anything.
"Ah, well, it makes sense, you know. You must be her love."
"What are you talking about?!" Lavi insisted, his voice becoming panicked. The older man sighed, turning and waving a hand for him to follow. Lavi pursued the man the length of the hall until he entered into a much bigger room, slightly cleaner by the looks of it, which housed a bed and a wide window. The man turned, ushering him to the window. Lavi obeyed. With a gasp, he immediately noticed the hawk circling a tall tower above them.
"And with that, I'll go ahead and suppose you know her half," the man said after a moment to light up. Lavi wrinkled his nose in disgust, but said nothing.
"She brought you here last night. You're quite a wild thing, aren't you? Had to put you in a cage. I was about to let you out, but it seems you did that on your own."
"Lenalee?" The man nodded.
"She's told me about you. Made you sound like a real man. Tch. I should have known better." The man eyed him scrutinizing once again, looking him up and down.
"Who are you?"
"And you're seeing Lenalee?" Lavi asked, feeling a little betrayed.
"Seeing her? You could say that."
"Me? Isn't it you who possess her heart?"
"You're seeing her!"
Cross rolled his eyes.
"In any case, she wanted me to help you two. Said you were being hunted by the fat ass, and needed a place to stay. She told me her suspicions, about your little... situation... she thinks you're cursed. Says she's been waking up every night to see a wolf."
"Yeah, a wolf. Apparently, that's you. Now I've confirmed her suspicions."
"But how does she know...?"
"Idiot! What have I told you?" Cross bellowed, throwing up his arms in annoyance, "Your eye! That one, green, annoying, stupid, damn eye of yours!"
Lavi blinked said eye.
"And her? She knows?"
"Haven't told her yet, but she will. She thinks she has it figured out. She has what she describes as 'cloudy memories'. Stuff about flying, being able to see things clearly from the sky, waking up in trees..."
Lavi nodded. That sounded just like what he was experiencing. But, as a wolf, it seems. But the revelation was just so shocking, so blindingly perverse that he could hardly bring himself to terms with it. A wolf! Of all things, he was turning into a wolf every night. But wasn't that a myth? Had he suddenly become one of those beasts that roam the night on full moons in the old tales? But no, every night! And all the evidence pointed to it, without question!
And to be a Bookman...
"My name is Lavi..."
Cross raised a brow, exhaling the poison, and smirking his way.
"I know. Lenalee told me."
"Then why did you ask??"
"Curious." Cross shrugged with the statement. Lavi turned around, gazing out the window. He had given up his life, he concluded. His life as a Bookman was now over. He was too involved – his new destiny was clear to him. He was living for her. Lenalee was all he had left. That hawk – looking to another like any ordinary hawk – she was his life. And with no other option, he had to earn their right to be together.
And thus 'Lavi' was no longer an alias.
Lavi galloped his way around the building to the cathedral doors, where stood a group of men dressed in red. The knights, led by two mounted commanders, drew their blades, recognizing the man. Lavi raised his hand.
"In the name of a man who was once your Captain, let me pass!" he declared, eye focused with determination on the two commanders. Said commanders giggled at him mockingly.
"We have orders!" cried the one with shorter, dark hair.
"Yeah! So bugger off!" added the twin commander, whose lips, to Lavi's disgust, appeared to be sewn together. Ignoring this, Lavi readied Goliath. The two laughed.
"Where's your weapon?" asked the one with his long, blond curls swaying as he bounced around in his saddle with giddiness.
"He's going to fight us weaponless, Jasdero!"
Lavi growled. From the saddle he withdrew a slim sword that Allen had 'acquired' and wielded it as he charged at the two. Immediately they cried in surprise, drawing their own weapons.
"Oh, not as dumb as I thought!"
"Look, look! He's attacking us, David!"
The twins danced about on their mounts, dodging Lavi's untrained swings. Crying out in frustration, Lavi leapt out of his saddle and ran at the commander with the short, dark hair. His inexperience with a sword was blindingly clear, as Lavi wielded it like he did the hammer.
"We're going to arrest you!"
"We're going to arrest you!" The twins chanted, toying with him.
"And there's nothing you can – Ah!! David! I am wounded!"
The short haired one rushed to his twin, who fell off his horse shortly after Lavi managed to stick him in the side with the sword. The teen crumpled pathetically on the ground, sobbing and writhing in pain. Lavi could tell right away he wasn't suited for his job.
"Oh, David! I'm dying! I'm dying!!"
"No you aren't! Be strong!"
"But it huuuuurrrrtttssss!!"
Jasdero brought a hand to rest over his forehead dramatically, and Lavi rolled his eyes, remounting Goliath and slashing his way through the rest of the guards.
"You'll be fine, brother, hang in there!"
"I don't think I can, David, I'm bleeding! Oh, by the Earl, blood!"
"Don't look at it!"
"I can't! I can't!"
"Don't even think about it!"
"I can't David! Please, come closer!"
"Ah, I shall!"
"To die in your arms...!"
"You won't die, I tell you!"
The other teen grasped at his twin as he simply passed out, holding the latter close to his body. He cried into his shirt a moment, then picked him up bridal style and carried him away to the medical wing.
"Come on, open! Come on, come on!!" Allen hissed as he struggled to move a particularly rusty bolt. Most of the small locks were easy to remove on the door, but one of them was being a bit stubborn. With a quick glance around him, Allen caught sight of a guard making his way though the crowd, noticing his actions. With a small yelp, Allen vigorously worked at the lock, which still didn't seem to want to budge. Just as the guard raised his blade, Allen gave a fierce tug at the lock, and the doors swung open with such force that it knocked the stunned guard back. Allen, who managed to avoid the collision, watched with a dumbstruck expression as Lavi galloped inside the cathedral, gaining alarmed gasps from the crowd of clergymen as they parted. The path was cleared now, and Lavi's fierce gaze tore straight ahead of him, boring into the surprised ones belonging to both the Earl and his dog, Tyki Mikk. Lavi raised his sword, pointing it in Mikk's direction. Accepting the challenge, Tyki smirked, approaching the man on his own steed at the other end of the hall.
"We meet again, Bookman," he regarded, giving him a small salute. Lavi snorted.
"I am no Bookman," he corrected, "It will be known that, the man to drive this weapon through your heart shall be I – Lavi. The Bookman is dead."
"Ah! I see! And you were his apprentice, yes?"
Lavi made no attempt to respond.
"Well if I've already killed the master, I don't see why I can't kill his underling!" With that, a violet force surrounded his left arm, and Mikk, pulling a golden helm over his head, charged toward the man.
Allen took the chance to slip past the doors, escaping through the same bridge Lavi had just came through, and made his way to the wagon. Avoiding Cross, Allen slipped under the wagon, searching the wooden underside and withdrawing a slim bundle.
"Oh, thank you Mana!" he cradled the bundle in his arms as he raced back to the cathedral, praying that he make it back on time.
The two enemies charged one another, clashing in the middle of the hall with a sharp ringing sound made by the steel meeting the sharp, spectral force surrounding Mikk's arm. After several rounds, Lavi finally swung at the Captain with such a parried force that the blade broke through the violet rays, slicing through Mikk's unprepared hand and chopping it clean off his wrist. The man yelled out in pain, falling off his horse and grasping his wounded appendage. Lavi slowed Goliath, riding up next to the man and lowering his sword as if to demand his surrender, although both knew there would be none of that in this duel. Furiously, Mikk tore the visor away from his face, pulling off the helm and chucking it away. It flew upwards, crashing into a stained glass window and shattering it. Lavi gazed upwards as the sun shone through the skylight. Taking advantage of this momentary distraction, Mikk grabbed hold of Lavi's ankle, tearing him from his saddle to join him on the floor. Lavi was quick however, and recollected his footing, landing a kick hard to Mikk's gut, who again did not suspect such a move. And much like Mikk had just done, Lavi took the moment in which Mikk recoiled to the blow to strike his face with his boot. The attack sent what Lavi knew for sure was a tooth flying across the marble floor, and a gasp from the crowd confirmed it.
Lavi then turned his attention to the Earl, who was slowly backing away against the altar. Lavi then slowly made his way up the aisle, easily cutting down the holy guards who attempted weakly to stop him. As Lavi continued his grim march, Allen appeared in the doorway, unwrapping the bundle. With the cloth that concealed it fluttering to the floor, Allen now held Lavi's hammer, which he had kept despite lying to the man that it had fallen into the lake. He was hopeful that its loss would prevent Lavi from confronting the Earl alone, but now it seems he wished he'd brought it sooner. As he passed the weapon to Lavi out in the aisle, his gaze happened to fly back to the shattered glass. Lavi's jade eye flew open at what he saw – it was like no sun he had ever seen. It was there alright, but it looked as if something was blocking it, the sun's rays merely a ring surrounding a mighty black circle. Lavi recognized the phenomenon as a solar eclipse. He remembered Bookman mentioning it once...
He stared in wonder as the realization hit him like a big rock. Cross was right! The drunk was absolutely, positively right! But, along with the stupefying revelation, Lavi suddenly felt an immense wave of fear, remembering what he had told the man prior to entering the cathedral.
"No! Oh, no, no! Cross, wait!" he cried as Mikk recovered. He rose up, and without a sound sprang at Lavi. The latter cried out again as he was brought to the floor under Mikk's weight, and anticipating the next moment, quickly made to push Mikk off him and distance himself from the man. He gathered his hammer and it grew to the size of a horse. Holding it out before him, Lavi pushed Mikk away with the one thing the Captain could not pass through – Innocence. Mikk returned from behind, elbowing Lavi hard in the back and sending him reeling forward, following it up with a kick to the jaw. Lavi could taste the blood accumulating in his mouth, but was forced to ignore it as he raised his hammer to block Mikk's incoming attack. They were so close now, with their tools of death ever so near one another's throats...
"You're dead," Lavi growled, giving a mighty push and rolling out of the way as Mikk's fist plowed on and connected with the floor, crumbling the marble. Lavi, with the most agility Allen had ever seen the man use, twisted his hammer in his grip, slamming the handle of it down into Mikk's exposed back. The incredible force of the blow was so great that it pierced through his armor, and Mikk hadn't enough time to react before it tore through his chest and into his own heart. Mikk stared up at Lavi, shock and despair at his loss apparent in his eyes. Then something most unexpected happened. Swarms of Tease emerged from within Mikk's sleeves, surrounding their master.
"N-no..." Mikk whispered breathlessly as the Tease found their way into his dying heart, gnawing away at the flesh. Lavi grimly removed his hammer, wincing as blood spurted out of the wound. Had Mikk lost his touch? No... hold on...
The Tease seemed to become excited as the blood rose from within his chest. Blood.
The Tease must love blood.
And then another most unexpected thing occurred, this time meaning more than his victory. It was a horrid sound that represented his loss. The worst sound Lavi could ever imagine rang out through the cathedral, and he dropped to his knees in disbelief. The bell keeper performed his duty like clockwork, oblivious to the events that had transpired below. The service was over, and as far as Aquila was concerned, it had ended most peacefully...
"NO!" Lavi roared, the anguish choking him to the point where he could crumple into the floor, never to be seen again. All this! After this struggle, after coming this close to his victory, he had yet failed. And all because he was so stubborn... why?! Why had he given Cross such an instruction?! Allen stared at the man in confusion, while the Earl simply glared, wearing his expression of loathing. Nobody in the cathedral realized that Lavi's world had just ended.
With deliberate anguish, Lavi rose to his feet, weakly gripping the hammer which he intended to kill the Earl with. There was nothing left for him to do than to carry out the revenge in which he had promised the Bishop for almost three years. Nothing left but his hatred. With unwavering resolve, Lavi began his grim march anew, rounding on the Bishop, who despite his overwhelming fear of his clear as day fate, remained absolutely still.
"But kill me, my dear Lavi, and the curse will see no end," the Earl said coldly, "You must think of Lenalee."
"Lenalee... is dead. Damn you. Damn you to hell." Lavi raised his weapon to strike. Just as he was about to deliver the deathblow of the century, a clear, soft voice rang out through the cathedral.
His grip loosened slightly as the familiar voice passed his ears. Could it be? His hopeful expression followed him as he turned around slowly, almost dreading the cruel trick. But he was forced to blink as his eyes were surely deceiving him – at the end of the hall, standing in the little light given by the solar eclipse, was the most beautiful girl he had ever laid eyes on. The angel stood with an equally dumbstruck expression. Words began to form on Lavi's lips, but finding no breath to speak them, watched as the same happened to his beloved. Even Allen found himself speechless at the scene, and jumped slightly as a tall figure appeared behind him, pounding his hand heartily into his back and giving Lavi a look that could have said 'I told you so!'.
Breaking from his concentration, Lavi turned dramatically, grabbing the Earl by his robes and slamming him down into the marble floor.
"Look at her!" he barked, forcefully yanking the holy man's head up. His jaw was open in a silent scream as he was forced to look upon the very object of his obsession. His head was then jerked upward.
"Look at me!" Lavi growled as their eyes locked in a glare so poisonous that words couldn't begin to describe the hate in between. Then Lavi, picking up the discarded sword, pointed it directly in front of the Earl's heart, stepping down and kneeling next to Lenalee.
"Look at us." For a moment, the Earl refused, hiding his face distorted by pure rage.
"LOOK AT US!!" Lavi roared, backhanding the man, causing his eyes to fly open. The Earl was unable to contain his utter madness, looking at the couple – the girl he had tried so desperately to win, and then that bastard who had stolen his precious flower away from him. Together! Ah, the humility of it all!
"It's over," mumbled Cross, chuckling. He placed a hand on Allen's shoulder, and the boy shuddered despite his gratefulness that there was finally and end to it.
Lavi turned to see Lenalee as the shadow began to fall away from the sun. It was over, the curse was truly broken. He stared at Lenalee for a moment before breaking into a run, taking her hand. He felt warm to the touch – the touch he had been denied of for nearly three years. And it felt wonderful. Suddenly Lenalee looked surprised, peering down at their hands, which were joined. Lavi felt something small and leathery in her hand, and with utter disgust, realized what it was. Lenalee withdrew from their united hands, and made her way up to the altar. The Earl suddenly looked up, hope in his eyes. He knew Lenalee would return to him! On his knees, he held out his arms for her, a move of mad expectation.
Lenalee avoided both his gaze and his outreached arms, holding her hand out before him. Crumpled up in her delicate hand was the small hood she had worn as a hawk, and she threw it down before him in a final and utter rejection. The Earl sank to the floor in defeat. Lenalee returned to her lover.
As Lavi was distracted, the Earl withdrew from his robes a thick sword emblazoned with a mighty black cross, and with a look painted by his fury and inconsolable rage, he charged at the two with a final and desperate cry: "Then no man shall!"
Allen started. "Lavi!!"
Lavi was a step ahead, however, and picking up his hammer, willed it to extend. It collided with the Bishop's sword, knocking it out of his weakened grip, flying past and jabbing the sharp tip into his heart. The hammer continued to extend until it had pinned the Earl against the crucifix on the mighty back wall, violently impaling him.
"Lenalee..." his eyes hadn't left the girl all the while, and as his last strength drained away from his body, he made final attempt to glare at Lavi, cursing him to every hell he could name. Finally his form became limp, and the crowd stood utterly and completely stunned at this gruesome defeat.
Lenalee and Lavi also stared, their faces speechless once again, hardly able to believe it was finally – without further ado – over. Lenalee then turned to Lavi, pulling him to his feet and locking him in her tight embrace. Her joyful laughs echoed like the song throughout the cathedral as Lavi picked her up, raising her high in celebration. She hunched over, legs wrapped around his shoulders, slamming her lips into his in a most passionate kiss. Lavi followed into it, and for a long moment they conveyed such emotion in one action that Allen could feel his own heart melting. They were finally reunited. Allen smiled, feeling a tear fall down his cheek. Cross chuckled, sauntering over to the corpse that was the Earl, pulling out the hammer that Lavi seemed to have forgotten entirely about. He then turned his back on the man, not giving his body another thought.
After what Allen thought was an eternity, Lavi and Lenalee finally broke apart, and Lavi set her on the ground. Lenalee immediately clung to her beloved, tears of joy streaking her face. For the first time ever, Allen was witness to a true, honest smile. The biggest, happiest smile he had ever seen Lavi wear.
"You're the truest friend we could ever have, Allen, a true miracle," Lavi said, his voice so strong, with so much meaning in his words, "I fully intend to meet you at the pearly gates, little thief. Don't you dare disappoint me!"
Allen was so overcome with emotion that he choked on his words.
"I'll meet you there, all of you. Even if I have to pick the lock!"
Everyone laughed, even Cross, who had been pulled into a quick, thankful hug by Lenalee.
At last, Lavi and Lenalee returned to each other. Lenalee looked up into Lavi's stunning green eye, and he returned his own gaze to her beautiful almonds. With another hearty kiss, they said their farewells to their friends and rode Goliath out of the cathedral in search of the nearest vacancy.
Allen watched them go, smiling.
"Mana, I have always believed in miracles. I'd always hoped they would come to me – but how, I ask, did it ever happen that I was the miracle itself? Life is a strange adventure, Mana. I guess I shouldn't expect so much. Oh, what am I saying? I think I've turned over a new leaf! No more lies, Mana! None! Allen Walker will never steal again-"
"Shut up, annoying. You still owe me."
"For what?" Allen rubbed his head where his master had struck him.
"Remember what I sent you away with? I said if you were to return, you would bring me something worth my time. And what, praytell, did you bring me? A bird." Allen stared at the man incredulously.
"You think saving Lenalee wasn't worth your time?!"
"Ah, of course not. But the fact of the matter is that you brought me neither gold nor women, and therefore, you owe me. Besides, what do you think I came all the way out here for?"
Allen groaned, unable to find the strength to argue further with the man. He then followed Cross out of the cathedral to the man's favorite tavern, despairing that he would have to go against his recent pledge to Mana in order to pay for the unbelievably large and upcoming tab.
I just wanna thank everyone who stayed with me til the end here and I'm sooooo glad that it's finally finished! Thank you everyone!! n.n