Epilogue: Pride and Joy
Excuse me, won't you, while I brag a little?
Dude, it was freaking AWESOME! I kicked ASS! And the crowd totally went nuts at the end! I RULE!
Sorry about that, had to get it out of my system. Anyway, the concert went great, and everyone had fun, and I kicked ass. Ahem.
My friends all gathered around to congratulate me afterwards, while I was busy eating as much junk food as I could stomach.
"Dude, you're amazing," declared Skunk. "And someday when you're rich and famous I'll be able to say that I was friends with you back when you were an uncool loser."
"Well, I'll be able to say that I dyed his hair," said Melania. "You rule, Hotshot."
"Yeah, good job, Hotshot," said Serpentine quietly. "You'll probably make a lot of money this summer."
I slapped myself on the forehead. "Summer! That reminds me! 'Scuse me for just a second, guys, I gotta go find Amlaith."
Amlaith, when I found him, was happier than I'd ever seen him. "Maglor, you were brilliant, effing brilliant! I knew you'd do well. You're gonna take over the world this summer. I've been talking to some people…"
"Um…Amlaith, about summer," I said. "There's kind of a problem."
"Maedhros says my family's been having some problems and that I need to come home early."
"How early?" Amlaith asked, frowning.
"Tomorrow. And I think that if my family needs me, that's more important than getting rich and famous. But you're not my dad, Amlaith, and I respect you. So I'm asking for your permission. Can I go home and fix up my family, or do I have to stay here for the summer and take over the world?"
Amlaith looked at me and shook his head. "You know, Maglor, it's hard to believe how much you've changed while you've been here. Last fall I don't think you ever would have stood up to me like this."
"I've grown up a lot," I said.
"That you have. Well, since you were able to stand up to me and since you did ask, I'll let you return home to your family. Far be it from me to deny the Feanoreans a good guy like you."
"Hey," I said. "You didn't call me a kid."
Amlaith shook his head. "You're not a kid anymore."
I'm not gonna tell you that it was an easy decision, leaving Alqualonde. Actually, I think I felt worse about it than I did about leaving Tirion. But after seeing Maedhros and Fingon's joyful reactions to the news, I knew I'd done the right thing.
We saddled up the next day, and the entire gang showed up to bid me farewell. The first one to arrive was Serpentine, weirdly enough.
"Hey, Maglor," she said. "Can we talk?"
"Um…sure," I said, leading her a few feet away from where Maedhros and Fingon were talking. "What's up?"
"Look, I was kind of a bitch, and I'm sorry. You're a good guy. You didn't deserve that."
"Hey, don't blame yourself too much. I was a jerk, too. I shouldn't have gotten that mad at you. I'm not saying that I want us to be boyfriend and girlfriend again, but can we at least say goodbye as friends?"
"Yeah," said Serpentine. "I'd like that." She grinned. "And don't worry, Hotshot. Someday you'll find some totally crazy girl who you'll fall head over heels in love with, and you'll get married and have a ton of kids. And I'll give them dancing lessons."
I smiled. "Sounds good."
Street Rat, Kitty, Smoke, and Shark showed up next. All of them slapped me on the back and told me how awesome I was.
"And if you don't come back next year, Hotshot, we'll hunt you down and kill you," said Smoke.
"Aye, that we will," said Street Rat. "There's always a place in the underground for ya."
"I'll keep that in mind," I said. "Kitty, I hope you and Street Rat are very happy."
Kitty shrugged. "Eh, I'll put up with him for now. Eventually I'll probably give him back to Smoke."
"And in the meantime, I'll go out with Smoke," said Shark, grinning at Smoke suggestively.
Smoke scowled at him. "In your dreams, bro."
"Guys, guys, guys!" said Melania, running up to us with Skunk and Lucky in tow. "I have to leave in like two minutes, but I had to say goodbye first. I'm gonna miss you so MUCH, Maglor!"
Everyone stared at her.
"Melania?" I said. "You just called me by my real name."
"No I didn't," she said quickly.
"Yes, you did," said Skunk. "You totally did."
"You guys are delusional," Melania said, rolling her eyes. "Anyway, bye, Hotshot! You rule!" She kissed me on the cheek and ran off again.
"Weird girl, that," said Lucky.
"But cool," I said. "Anyway, goodbye, everyone! I love you all! See ya next year!"
"Okay, move aside, people," said Amlaith, pushing through the small crowd. "I have to say goodbye to my apprentice."
"This'll be good," Maedhros commented to Fingon.
"Well, Maglor, I'm very impressed with you," Amlaith said. "I knew as soon as I met you that we'd get along, and you never proved me wrong. You've made great improvement this year in every way, and I know you're going to have an excellent musical career."
"Thanks, man," I said, getting up on my horse. "You've been a good teacher."
"Damn right I have." He leaned over to me conspiratorially and whispered, "And you're going to score some good gigs back in your hometown, my friend. I have some excellent connections in Tirion."
"Okay, you'll miss him, he'll miss you, it's all good," said Maedhros. "Can we go now?"
I looked down at my friends and grinned. Yeah. It was all good.
"Let's go," I said. "Before I change my mind."
And with that, we were off.