A/n- Final part! Thanks to those who did review!
Summary: Our glorious heroes return! Erm- right.
"When Pepper said they were hard to find I didn't think she meant this."
Gunther snorted, "Obviously."
"Hmm…" Jane whirled her tongue against her teeth, thinking. It was too far out to jump to, and besides, there were no flat parts to land on- the mushrooms were nestled upon a bed of moss in a crack on a protruding stone.
There were, however, plenty of hand and foot holds.
Gunther's voice was close, in her ear, and she could feel him beside her.
"Jane," He said warningly.
Jane, I know what your thinking.
Jane, don't be stupid.
A shiver ran up the girl's spine. How did he manage to mean all that with just her name?
The girl put a hand on her hip, "It would be so easy. Just climb down the slope, hop across the flat part at the bottom, and climb back up the other side."
Her companion shook her head, "Too dangerous. Wait for Dragon."
"If we don't get them now, then Pepper will be in trouble. We can't wait for him," the girl inched towards the declining edge. Gunther dropped his pack.
He tried to seize her shoulder, to stop her, but she had moved forward already and his fingers missed the fabric of her tunic. Slipping on the loose rocks, Jane issued a surprised little 'oh' as her footing gave. Gunther took a rather large lunge forward and gabbed her, his arms encircling around her waist, hauling her back so she was upright.
Jane felt the heat of Gunther's chest against her back where she was flush against his bare skin. His grip of her tightened as he leaned in to hiss, "You're staying here," before letting her go quickly.
He stooped, momentarily, to gather his things, and then shoved the awkward parcel into Jane's arms. She stared, openmouthed at him. Gunther leaned toward her, "Don't move."
Turning away, he crouched down, letting one foot over the edge as his hands grappled for a larger stone.
"Be careful," Jane bit her lip. The boy glanced up, eyes semi-wide, eyebrow quirked. Jane could feel herself go red, and the grip she had on his shirt became a tad harder.
Slowly, Gunther let himself down onto the rocky embankment. Instead of trying to stand and walk upright, he nearly sat down fully onto the side of his hip and slid a few inches to a well-anchored rock. There he paused, looking for another spot down from him.
Up above, Jane watched.
Perhaps he had been so reluctant to let her try because of what happened last time. She distinctly remembered his fit about her jumping across to the Skyleaf. She also remembered how he had appeared before she had jumped, his head turned sideways as to not look at her; his profile noble, but resigned at the same time.
Jane got to her knees so she could peer over the edge.
His shirt was wrapped round her fists, and she could smell his scent on the cloth. He had always smelled the same; of the spices his father traded. He smelt of saffron and sweat, barley and leather.
When they spared, and he would push her down upon the earth and lean over her, stave pressed upon stave, she had forced herself not to tilt up against his advance. He was reproachable, but Jane had always been drawn to him.
He was a challenge for her.
It was funny; she ignored a readily available attraction to Gunther's glares and burrs.
For, Jane knew that a certain blonde had very strong feelings for her, she knew that, but his love would always be too much of a comfort, too easy. There would be no heat, no ardent passion.
With Gunther she knew there was no romantic love, but the was definitely passion. If she couldn't have his heart, she had his spirit, for his spark when he sparred and jested with her was enough to eclipse any adoration.
But sometimes, when Jane would fool herself and purposely mistake the look of competition in Gunther's eyes for one of admiration and love, a longing would ignite within her, and she would always loose the match.
The girl looked down; "Yes?" she called back, weaker then she would have liked. She was imagining a horrid lot of unladylike things.
Gunther had made it to the bottom, jumping as nimbly as was possible to the opposite rock face. He was clutching the stone, looking back at her.
"What is it?" She asked again.
"If I fall-"
A thrilling fear encircled the girl's heart. "You won't."
Gunther frowned, a shadow crossing his features. He contemplated arguing, but instead just pushed what he was going to say back down. This was no point in expressing everything he felt towards the redhead; he wouldn't fall. But then… if he did…
Ignoring the sound of his pulse within his ears, Gunther found a foothold and pushed up, beginning his accent.
All this for stupid ingredients, his mind screamed.
He would never volunteer for anything else ever again. Instead, he wished he were back at the little pool, swimming under the surface of the cold, blue-black water, the liquid cooling his sun-heated skin.
The rock he was climbing was sharp, much sharper then Gunther had though it would have been. He regretted not donning the shirt.
Looking over his shoulder, Gunther saw that he was already past Jane, and had climbed higher nearer the mushrooms. She was standing again, and holding the bundle he had left with her tightly against her chest.
"Be careful," her voice reverberated within his mind, and then he realized he wasn't imagining himself alone anymore.
Gunther couldn't really pinpoint the exact moment Jane had entered his mind, but she was there with him now.
He had her hand, and she was wading into the water as he guided her. The surface was glassy, and Gunther could see her tunic stick against her frame as the cloth was wetted.
And then the bottom was too deep for her, and she would lunge, clutching onto him, as they both fell backwards.
Why was Jane occupying his imagination?
He saw her in his mind, soaked through, pressed against the stone, water falling over her.
Something internally clicked.
Gunther's left hand slipped, coming away from the wall as he wrestled for a new crevice to thrust his fingers into. He grunted as a sharp rock came into contact with his upper arm and scraped it. Tiny dots of blood welled up upon along the thin mar. The boy hissed and tensed up, sucking in a breath.
"Gunther! Are you alright?"
He scoffed, "Oh, just champion Jane, really." He looked back up to where he was heading.
"You're almost there! Just reach for it!"
He moved, shuffled, over a few holds before he was eye-level with the clump of fungi. Tentatively, with his hand, he reached for the small crevice. The red caps were so small; he could encircle the entire bunch with one palm.
Plucking his prize from its perch, Gunther now felt a sinking feeling.
How was he going to get down?
A booming voice cut through the air, "You short-lives! Can never leave you alone, can I?"
Jane turned to see Dragon landing near her, "Oh thank goodness."
Dragon hiked a thumb towards Gunther, "What's he doing?"
"Ah, yes," a pause, "Why?"
Jane felt a burning shame. They should have just waited, like Gunther had suggested.
A voice distracted the pair. "Uh- don't mean to interrupt, but can I get down now?"
"Oh! Right. Come on, Dragon." Jane swung onto her friend's neck as he bent down, wings unfurled. She settled the pack in front.
Giving a little push, Dragon floated off the earth, hovering up where Gunther was clinging.
"Can you reach him?"
"He'll have to jump. My wings get in the way."
Gunther looked terrified, "I'm not jumping onto that overgrown lizard! He'll drop me!" Dragon said nothing, which helped not at all.
"I promise he won't drop you, alright?"
The boy did not look comforted.
Jane sighed, "He promises, don't you Dragon?" He crossed his heart with a taloned claw.
Gunther looked at Jane, eyes locked on hers. She gave a slow nod and, steadying herself, and raised her arms as if to coax him.
The boy crouched, tucking in and tensing. With a giant leap he flung himself outward into space.
Dragon dipped, and Gunther fell hard and flat behind Jane, slung over the dragon's neck. Jane's arms were around his neck and shoulders.
"I hate flying," her companion mumbled as he moved to right himself, shoving the mushrooms into her open arms in the process. Dragon beat his wings and took flight.
Twisting round, Jane saw the little cut on Gunther's skin. Tentatively, she reached out to touch it. She surprised herself with the boldness of her move. It was even more surprising that the boy she was touching didn't jerk away.
"Sorry," she murmured weakly, handing him back his things, "That was very brave, thank you." She didn't look at him, and he didn't utter a word.
The sun, which had been a bright beacon when they had first left earlier in the day, was now a receding figure in the sky.
The three touched down easily in the courtyard, coming to a short halt just outside the kitchen. Jane thanked her friend before sliding off, Gunther doing the same right behind her. She walked forward a few paces and saw Pepper, with the three other boys behind her, running out from the Kitchen.
"Oh, Jane! Thank goodness! Did you find them?"
The redhead opened her palms; prize sitting there looking like blood.
Pepper hugged her around the neck, "Thank you! How did you ever get them?"
Jane shook her head, smiling. "It was G-" But when she turned, she saw that the boy had disappeared. Even as Jester patted her shoulder in praise and Pepper hugged her again, Jane craned her neck to see where Gunther had gone off to.
She couldn't spot him
"I didn't take credit for it, you know."
He was sitting upon the battlements, upon the stone, legs hanging over the side as he watched the sun bleed orange and red across the horizon. Jane had found him a few seconds before.
"Why did you leave?"
He shrugged, the cut on his arm brushing against the fabric of his tunic and leather plate. He had re-dressed almost fully, ignoring only the gauntlets this time. The boy stiffened as Jane climbed up to seat herself down next to him.
"It's not as if they would have been angry."
"I know that," he clipped scathingly.
Jane fell silent, looking out over the trees and hills. "Thank you for helping today, I know- I know it takes time away from…" but she could think of nothing to say. Gunther sighed, running a hand through his hair and then placing it down next to him, leaning back on both his palms.
The sunset created an almost dreamy atmosphere where, for a moment, Jane felt as if she were watching herself from a very long way away; as if her brain were detatched from the movements it had always controlled.
Slowly, her fingers dipped to brush Gunther's where they rested against the stone. She could feel the heat of his skin and remembered his arms around her, protectively dragging her backwards. Her thumb circled the bottom joint of his index finger, and it was then that she forced herself to look up.
Gunther had twisted his shoulders and was now staring at her, his slate-grey eyes half-lidded, as if he too were breathless. He turned over his palm he caught her outstretched fingers.
"Sorry-" She began.
"Why must you always apologize?" His tone was annoyed, as if he were frustrated with her- with himself.
She laughed lightly; one airy, tentative note, "I am undoubtedly afraid you are angry."
Her cheeks reddened, "But…. I suppose… I've been more angry with myself lately." She was referring to the barrage of feelings she had been experiencing as of late. He chuckled half-heartedly at this, nodding as if he knew how she felt.
Briefly, as Jane heard his unguarded laugh, she could imagine how distant from everything he must have been down in the forest; before she and Dragon had stumbled upon him. So carefree.
Her heart ached.
Slowly, Gunther reached to rest a finger under the girl's chin, tilting it up so he could look at her. He was frowning.
"You are… exceedingly confusing."
She blushed scarlet, but before she could utter a retort Gunther had leaned in, capturing her parted lips with his own. A ribbon of electricity flooded her, and her widened eyes began to close. The touch was light at first, but he pressed into her; his touch gentle and warm.
They broke away for breath; Gunther raking in a long gasp. Jane stared at him- he was as pink around the face as she was, but the turmoil in his eyes had settled. She smiled at him, shyly.
He squeezed her hand and looked back out at the skyline, "I'm not angry."
"Me too, Jane."
A/n- Please review!
Just so you know I'm planning on three more J x G fics; they should be up soon. Oh, and I don't know if I said this before, but the title of this fanfic is the name of a rare red mushroom found in England.
Sadder note: I emailed Wetta (I know I'm a dork) and asked them when there would be a JatD Season 2, this is what they said:
"Thank you for your email and kind words. However, at this stage, there are no plans to produce a second series of Jane and The Dragon. If this changes in the future, an announcement will be made on the website: (insert JatD official url)"
Oh well, at least this is what fanfiction is for.
Please review if you've been reading! Review!