The Fairest Lady: Chapter Twenty-Five
Bakura threw another handful of dust from him, coughing and waving away the airborne particles that were clogging his eyes, nose, and throat. After stumbling to the door and opening it, hurrying outside of the laboratory, he sent a bitter look inside to where a collection of colourful dust was streaming out, polluting the air. As usual, yet another experimentation had done him no good. Irritable, he covered his face and entered the lab and retrieved the ancient book that was sitting on the laboratory table. He frowned, pressing his lips firmly together. Only he was able to understand any of the words written within this book, as it was in the language of his people and it was one that had been lost long ago. However, even he had trouble deciphering some of the words due to the age in the pages. He had attempted several different spells, potions, and to no effect. It was only his determination that led him to continuing the spells and potions and not simply abandoning everything and returning to the past time that had controlled him last season.
He sat on the ground outside the lab as dusts continued to flow outside the small building, although slowly ebbing away. He planted his feet flat on the ground and shoved his hands within his hair, positioning his elbows against his knees as he stared down at the opened book. There are multiple spells and potions in here to erase your memory, he thought, yet somehow I can't even master them, although they are far simpler than any other spell I've attempted. None of my books have failed me up until now.
He lowered a hand and flipped through the pages, his eyebrows slanted down in concentration. Some pages were indecipherable, others more clear. One such page he had already tried and yet nothing had resulted with good results as of yet. One had come out promising, but when he had taken it, it simply gave him a headache. At last irritated, he slammed the book shut moodily and crossed his arms, glaring ahead of him as he pressed his nose and mouth against his arm, covering them. My ancestors must be laughing at me, he concluded, if they think that a headache potion is the answer to wanting to rid oneself of certain memories.
Unbeknownst to him, Seto had exited the cottage when he saw the dust exiting the laboratory and was watching Bakura with a shuttered expression. Bakura swore to himself and kicked at the book angrily. Seto may not have been able to read the language within the book, but he knew enough of potions to know what the ingredients within the potions were needed for and while he was surprised at the sudden fervor that Bakura was showing in memory potions, he felt more pity for the man than anything else. And, given that Seto and Bakura were often in the lab together, he knew that the potions were not working out well, not even for their most skilled sorcerer.
"What do you plan on accomplishing by forgetting Anzu?" Seto spoke up from behind him. Bakura raised his head and turned to him, his eyes narrowing.
"What are you talking about?"
"Don't be so proud," Seto said sharply.
"I don't exist for her," Bakura snapped back, rising to his feet. "She doesn't even realize who I am. All I am is what I once was when I first met her...the famous sorcerer, Bakura, who fled from Kraion and had practiced the Dark Arts. I'm not..." He stopped suddenly, as if realizing to whom he was talking. He snorted and then turned his head from him, muttering, "It doesn't matter. She made her choice."
"And so did you," Seto said, crossing his arms over his chest. "You could have easily turned back and stopped her, but you didn't. You let it happen. It wasn't a result of her actions alone, Bakura. For once in your life, endure the consequences of what you did rather than walk away."
"I've endured it for three years!" Bakura spat at him. "I watched her from afar, almost every day, for an entire year. I sought her out, even though I knew I couldn't say a word to her, even though I knew that if I had, she would have fled from me in fear. It was all I could do not to simply use my magic to ensnare her, to return her back to us again. I deserve a reprieve and if it means forgetting her entirely, I would rather do that than continue to live this way." He snatched the book from the ground and stormed back into the lab, shutting the door hard behind him.
Seto stood for a long moment, staring at the lab and then, with a long sigh, he turned and entered the cottage again. He returned to the dinner that he had been preparing and then paused in cutting a carrot. He recalled the time before he had become close to either Bakura or Malik and would slip into Kraion and go to the place that Kisara rested. He remembered the tears he had spilled over her grave, sobbing like a lunatic even though he felt that he did not deserve to shed tears. He shook himself from the memory, yet his hand was unsteady when he tried to return to cutting the vegetable, forcing him to set the knife down and rest his hands against the counter.
"What's wrong with you?" Seto looked up to see Malik had entered the cottage, looking slightly disheveled, likely from the heat.
Seto merely raised a hand, waving it, and stepped aside and sat at the table. Malik eyed him and then moved to the counter, continuing what Seto had abandoned. The two were silent, absorbed in their thoughts. Seto sat staring ahead of him for a long time, his mind returning to Kisara. Her blue eyes stared up at him adoringly, her long locks spilling over her shoulders. The image shocked him so badly that he jolted out of his seat, causing Malik to frown and raise his eyebrows at him.
"Maybe you should go take a rest," Malik cautiously suggested, uncertain of the male's temper.
"It's that damn Bakura," Seto said, glaring out the kitchen window. Outside, the sun was already beginning to sink behind the trees, its warm light spilling over the tops of the forest, casting long shadows upon the ground. Warm, vibrant colours splashed across the sky, forecasting the sunset and the lull of activity from the animals in the forest as they settled in their homes to allow the night animals to take over signaled the coming of evening.
"What about him?" he asked, unbothered. Seto shot a quick, angry look towards him, but just as he was about to respond, they were interrupted by a knock on the front door. "What the hell? That can't possibly be Otogi again..."
"Again?" Seto repeated as the two of them moved through the den towards the door.
"I just saw him today in the forest," Malik explained shortly. "I was closer to Siruean than I had thought. I wonder if Bakura sensed anyone entering the barrier."
"I doubt he cares either way right now."
Malik tilted an eyebrow towards him again, but said nothing as they approached the door. He opened it in a somewhat exasperated manner and then froze. Beside him, he felt Seto still as well. Mai was standing outside with a hand on her finely curved hip, with Jounouchi standing beside her as a possible use of protection, although appearing slightly giddy. However, there was a third addition to their party and that was the shorter and smaller female that had clearly been the one to initiate the knock. Anzu had stepped back, but when their eyes fell on her, she offered a hesitant, sweet smile. Malik opened his mouth, closed it, and then cleared his throat. "Can we help you?" he queried slowly, uncertain as to the nature of these events.
"Where's the big bad wolf himself?" Mai asked, stepping forward and peering past them into the cottage. It was odd to see her alone and without her djinn. Unknown to them, however, was that Mai's djinn was safely ensconced in the castle of Kraion because while she was unwilling to work with that type of realm any longer, she did so love her djinn and he had been nothing but loyal and adoring towards her. While he had wished to come with her, she felt that this trip would be better suited for Jounouchi, who was unaccustomed to this type of company.
"Sulking, I'm sure," Seto answered, although his eyes flickered to Anzu, who was strangely silent during this exchange.
"The lab in the back."
"Jounouchi," Mai turned towards the captain who gave her a puzzled look. "Will you please take Anzu back to see him?" Anzu cast Mai a reluctant stare, which the latter pointedly ignored. Jounouchi took Anzu's arm and tucked it in his and the two of them rounded the cottage. Mai, meanwhile, shoved her way inside the cottage, wasting no time.
"Wait a minute." Malik snapped out of his stunned reverie and after shutting the door, he followed her into the kitchen where she was sampling their dinner. "What the fuck is going on here? What is she doing here? She's not welcome!"
"Don't be a dick," Mai said, rolling her eyes. "She's the most welcome person in the world here and don't you dare let me hear you say that again." Malik opened his mouth to demand how she had even found the cottage, but then he recalled Otogi's strange appearance at the river, his unusual behavior and the way in which he had glanced towards the path he had been riding on.
Of course Otogi would be the culprit. "That's not the point," he snapped. "What is she doing here?"
"Oh, very well," Mai sighed, leaning against the counter and inspecting her hand interestedly. "I guess I should start by saying that Anzu has been in Siruean for the past two years and has been living there ever since she and Yami broke off their betrothal. They still talk, of course, as it had been a mutual decision between the two of them. So, she's been quite near you three for some time. Your cottage lies dangerously close to Siruean soil."
"We're aware of the fact," Seto said as he entered the kitchen, looking none too pleased.
"Good," Mai said, smiling.
"But that doesn't explain – " Malik began impatiently, but Mai interrupted him.
"Ah," she said, cutting in, "yes. There is one thing that I suppose I ought to have started with." She dropped her hand and smiled at their confused expressions. "Anzu ended up rejecting Isis's offer after you left."
They stood, stunned, at this information. Outside, Jounouchi and Anzu had found the laboratory and could be seen standing outside the small building through the kitchen window.
"I don't understand...Otogi told me that Anzu had been acting as if it hadn't happened, that she hadn't been making any potions."
"That's all true," Mai said agreeably. "She hasn't wanted to discuss anything to do with Bakura in the past three years and she certainly wanted nothing more than to avoid doing anything that would remind her of her situation with him. She tried with Yami, convinced that was the right thing to do, but when he decided to actually be a man and discuss it with her, she knew that she would have to return to Siruean. They care for each other as much as they always have, but without the additional stress of an upcoming marriage, their friendship is much better. Since then, Anzu has been in Siruean and has been struggling with her own thoughts. She knew, from overhearing conversations Otogi had with Shizuka, that your cottage was near and she even ventured out in the forest once or twice to try and find it and I think she might have come close at one point, but she was afraid of your reactions and she was especially afraid of confronting Bakura."
"We would have given anything to see her again," Seto said candidly. Malik nodded his agreement, his brow creased in concern.
"Yes," she slowly said, "but she and Bakura left a very...bitter...situation between them that she didn't tell anyone but me until recently. Bakura never clarified his feelings for her and neither did she. It's not easy to simply return to that after such a long amount of time." Mai frowned, crossing her arms over her chest. She glanced out the window, where Jounouchi was walking towards the kitchen door. Malik saw her mouth soften the slightest bit and raised his eyebrows inquiringly at Seto, who seemed intent in ignoring him. "Bakura's words were still in her mind when Isis had given her that offer...and when they left, I imagine that Anzu's words were still in Bakura's mind and it helped fuel his desire to do the right thing for once. Or what would usually have been the right thing."
"Her words?" Malik repeated. "What did she tell him?"
"I guess they bumped into each other in the courtyard only a bit before all of you left and told him she had wanted him to leave without saying anything because he was, more or less, foul and evil anyway."
"Foul and evil," Mai said smiling. "Yes, I think Anzu realized that it was much like calling the kettle black and she regrets leaving him with those words. But there's not much more to say about that than what I have. What happens now is up to them." Jounouchi entered the kitchen cautiously as Mai ended the discussion, his eyes darting around anxiously. Perhaps he had been expecting cobwebs and dead animals in jars because he looked slightly confused as he slipped in and shut the door. "Do you mind if we retire to the den? I'm exhausted and I could use some cider, if you don't mind."
"How do you know we get cider now?" Malik asked suspiciously.
"Who do you think sends it to you?" Jounouchi spoke up, scowling. Mai merely snickered.
Anzu watched as Jounouchi entered the cottage and only after the door had shut did she turn back to the laboratory. She felt her palms grow damp and wiped them on her dress, feeling as though her heart was trying to explode from her chest, thundering against her rib cage. She put a hand on her chest, hoping to calm herself somewhat, but it merely caused her to stand, clutching at the collar of her dress rather than encourage her. She had been mad to allow Mai to talk her into this. When the princess of Kraion had come to Siruean, Anzu had thought it was a simple social call up until Mai began to unveil her true incentives.
"I know that you miss him," Mai said to her privately. The two women were sitting across from each other, but Mai had leaned over to take Anzu's hand in a gesture of comfort. She was not the vixen that she been, but was dressed more modestly and while her hair still tumbled over her shoulders wildly and she still held the same beauty, she seemed like an entirely different person. "I was his apprentice and now that I've had time to appreciate things more, I miss him, as well. I know how you felt towards him and how he felt towards you...it's time that you simply let go of this fear that you have and go see him."
"What fear?" Anzu withdrew her hand. "I don't – "
"Anzu," Mai interrupted gently, "trust me on this. I know why you refuse to talk about him or any of the other men. Other people are not as perceptive, but I lived with you four for long enough that I know too well how close you were to them. And I also know the fear of loving someone and can recognize the signs. Why couldn't you just allow him into your heart, even just a little bit?"
"I have," she replied softly, "and that's my biggest issue...that I let him inside at all."
Breathing in deep, Anzu took the handle of the door and collected what little courage she had and pushed it open. Inside, it was lit up with a few candles and she immediately noticed how spacious it was. She quietly closed the door behind her and her eyes traveled to the far end of the room where Bakura was peering up in a cupboard of jars that held collections of stones and other minerals.
Without looking behind him, he said, "I told you I'm not interested, Seto," and his tone was tense, as if preparing for an unwanted fight. Anzu's body began to tremble at the sudden horror of her situation. She stumbled backwards, towards the door, intending to flee out of the forest towards Siruean and away from everyone. However, with an exasperated sigh, Bakura had turned around to face his offender and froze. Anzu had just backed into the door and had been fumbling for the knob when his eyes touched hers. She, too, stilled her movements and was caught by his startled gaze. His face was as she remembered it, if only slightly more drawn than usual. It had been years since she had last looked upon him, although he had been able to see her without her knowledge. She swallowed quickly and then withdrew from the door, taking a hesitant step towards him. "How are you doing...Bakura?" she queried and she could hear the tremble in her voice.
"I don't understand," he said dumbly. "What's going on?"
Anzu had rehearsed her story to Mai several times to make certain that she knew what she was going to say, full of explanations, full of regret and sorrow and every other emotion that she had been feeling in the past three years. Instead, she found that the words and sentences were breaking down in her mind and only a few of the words seemed to remain. "I'm here for you...I love you."
This seemed to confuse him even more and he appeared as though he were struggling to find something to say. Anzu waited, feeling slightly panic-stricken the longer he remained silent. She had never seen him in such a wordless state. For her, it may as well have been a rejection. Of course, she had thrown it on him without any explanation as she had intended. In her mind, she had imagined a euphoric response rather than this dumbstruck silence. Hastily, she said, "I rejected Isis's offer...and I'm not married to Yami. I've been in Siruean, at my family's palace."
"No, I know that...but why? Why did you not let Isis perform the spell on you?" He frowned and then he seemed more like himself as he asked somewhat harshly, "Why haven't you contacted me?"
"Because of what you...and I...said...I didn't know – "
"I wasn't going around doing stupid heroic shit for nothing," Bakura exploded unexpectedly. Anzu blinked, somewhat offended and baffled at his sudden reaction. "It's not as though I wanted to go around being the good guy. I wasn't trying to prove anything to Yami, that's for damn sure, and Malik and Seto already knew why I was acting like a complete dumbass."
"Anzu," he sighed, running a hand through his hair and closing his eyes, "think about who I was talking to at the time, will you? Your fiancé. Would it give me any pleasure at all to go up to him and say, as he's accusing me of things that, by the way, I'm rather fond of your future wife, mind if I steal her from you? No. He'd have run me out of Kraion and then I'd have to kill half of his soldiers and come barreling back into Kraion and frankly, I didn't know you were going to pop out of nowhere to hear that. As for what you said, we both know that you never meant that and I'm an ass, so of course it gave me satisfaction to see you regret your words."
Anzu stared at him. He opened his eyes and seeing that he had struck her speechless, gave a small smile and dropped his hand. He hesitated and then stepped towards her, taking her shoulders and peering down at her. She raised her eyes to his uncertainly. "Unfortunately," he said in a grim tone, "you're quite a bit more than just entertainment for me. It's too late for me to do anything about that now, though."
"I missed you," she said, tears pooling in her eyes. She sniffled and drew close to him, circling her arms around him and pressing her face against his chest. He released a relieved breath and encompassed her in his arms, his hand burying in her hair as he rested his cheek upon her head. "I never stopped thinking about you, it was awful...I would think about you all day and then go to bed and dream about you. It was an endless cycle. And sometimes it seemed like I was hallucinating you."
"Oh?" Bakura mouthed a swear word to himself above her head. He decided that small detail he would keep from her for now.
"I'm glad that Mai convinced me to come here...And that Otogi agreed to show us how to get here. Don't be mad at him." She withdrew, wiping her face. "He was just doing what he thought was best for me."
"For me, too, it seems," he said with a smile. He brushed her hair from her face and framed it with his hands. "You've been haunting me these past three years, as well, you know." Through her tears, she offered a watery smile. He leaned down and kissed her softly, breathing in her tender scent. When he withdrew, she buried her face against his chest again and he held her for some time until there was a knock on the door and Malik popped his head in, glancing at them and then casting a jealous look to Bakura. "Oh, fuck off," he muttered to his friend.
"Stop hogging her," Seto said, appearing behind Malik. Anzu turned and then laughed. She quickly gave Seto a hug and then was enveloped by Malik's arms immediately afterward. Bakura scowled at their embrace and then looked to Seto instead. "Mai's in the cottage with her captain."
"Oh, so she's finally calling him that?"
"No," Seto answered, "but it's obvious."
Once they had returned to the cottage, Mai was sitting at the table, watching as Jounouchi struggled with finishing dinner, his tongue sticking out in concentration. She had an amused smile on her lips that immediately turned into a grimace when they entered the kitchen. She straightened and looked to Anzu's face and then beamed after a moment. "Did you take care of everything?" Anzu blushed and nodded. "Perfect!" She stood up and went to Bakura, raising an eyebrow at him as she glanced up at him. When he simply stared down at her with an indifferent expression, she asked, "Well? Don't you have something to say to me?"
"Yes, I suppose I do," Bakura admitted after a pause and looked at Jounouchi, who was evidently trying to ignore the entourage in the kitchen. Jounouchi's boy crush on Mai had always been obvious, but he had struggled with his loyalty to Yami and Mai's own sordid reputation. Nonetheless, it was clear that after the two siblings had mended that particular rift in their relationship that Jounouchi's reservations towards the princess had eased somewhat. "Take pity on him already. He's been waiting for over ten years."
An odd thing happened then. Mai, who had done her fair share of sinful things, began to blush, a pink settling over her cheeks. Rather than lowering her eyes demurely like Anzu had, however, she pursed her lips in agitation, looking more than a bit uncomfortable with the conversation. Jounouchi treated the topic somewhat better, casting a sheepish look to Bakura and then burning himself on a pan, which caused him to begin to swear. "Ah," Bakura said with a smirk, "you've already been giving him some attention, have you?"
"Shut up," Mai muttered, dropping her gaze and crossing her arms defensively.
Bakura could tell that the topic was sensitive and based on Jounouchi's still figure, he let it drop. However, he could deduce a few things from Mai's behavior. Her sudden modesty was not simply because of her own change in actions after nearly destroying the world with her use of the Dark Arts, but likely from some warm affection from the captain. Jounouchi was clearly not one to take control, especially when it seemed that Mai was tentatively opening herself up to him. Knowing Mai too well, Bakura was unsurprised to see that, even after as many years as Mai had to work on herself, she was still adjusting to a life of normality. He, too, felt the hesitation, expecting rejection.
"What the hell are you doing?" Malik's voice broke through his thoughts and he turned his gaze to where Jounouchi was standing at the stove with Malik staring down at the pan.
"Did I not do it right?" the blonde asked blankly.
"Does it look right to you?"
"Doesn't look wrong," Jounouchi murmured, staring down at it for a long time.
Malik and Jounouchi stared at each other and then Malik asked, "How do you survive?"
"My sister cooks for me."
"Are you hearing this?" Malik demanded, looking to Mai and pointing at him. "He can't even cook!"
"Well, he's a lot nicer than you are," Mai grumbled.
Malik opened his mouth, seemed unsure of what to say and closed his mouth and shoved Jounouchi away from the stove and fixed the mess. Jounouchi scratched the back of his head, looking to the Kraion princess for some sort of explanation, but she merely sent him a small, reassuring smile. For the first time in a long time, it seemed like everyone was content. There were no draining demons, no barriers, and only companionship. When Otogi burst in rather worriedly, as though Anzu had been blasted away by Bakura, he was immediately attacked by Malik, who went on a long tirade of having his trust betrayed. Otogi had the grace to look shamefaced, but Mai inserted herself into the conversation. The others watched, eating their dinner, as Mai and Malik became involved in a heated argument that ended with both snorting and then ignoring each other for the remainder of the night. After Bakura made some minor fixes in the cottage, everyone retired to their bedrooms.
"Bakura?" Anzu asked that night, lying quietly beside him in bed.
"What?" he mumbled, turning to look at her in the dark. She smiled and took his hand, resting her cheek against his knuckles.
"For keeping me at the cottage," she explained. "We never would have gotten this far or this close if I hadn't stayed at the cottage..."
"Should I thank you for putting up with me then?"
"Maybe," Anzu said teasingly. He chuckled and then drew her closer. She nuzzled against him and rested her head against his chest, releasing a long sigh before she drifted off to sleep. Bakura remained awake for a long moment, saying nothing and simply gazing at the female in his arms. He stroked her skin absent-mindedly, absorbed in his thoughts. He had never thought that she would ever return to him and he certainly hadn't thought that he would ever have the chance to have this type of happiness. Ever since he had been ruled by the vengeance of his people, he was certain that nothing else would exist for him. He closed his eyes and briefly pressed his lips to her forehead. She probably was unaware, but for him, nothing else mattered other than her. She was the one precious element in his life, the only constant. He had experienced life without her and it was impossible and near life-threatening for him to exist without her.
If it's an addiction, he thought, then so be it. I would rather die than be without her. He relaxed his head back upon the window and after watching her slumber for a few more moments, he was lulled into sleep by her soft, deep breaths.
Yami flinched as a firework went off nearby him. There was a joyous cry from the surrounding children as the sorcerer manipulated the firework in the sky and as the sparkles came showering down upon the ground, they turned into silvery water droplets that landed on the children's faces. They screamed with glee and the older man laughed at their delight. Yami smiled before he turned away from them, twining his way through the crowds at the festival. It had been some time since he had last visited Siruean, but it was clear that the festival held for the sorcerers was a successful one. In Kraion, there was still a good deal of misgivings regarding those with the arts, but it seemed that the Siruean people were eager to embrace their sorcerer counterparts.
Yami passed many people, none of whom gave him a second glance or seemed to even recognize him. The power of anonymity was pleasing, as Yami was far too accustomed to being stared at and bowed to in his own kingdom. There was an explosion above him and he paused, turning his face to the dark sky as it was lit up with a bright shower of sparkles. The light danced on his face as he watched the sparkles twinkle far above him in the sky. He closed his eyes briefly and then continued on towards the center of the festival.
At the center of the grounds was a large dais where the king of Siruean was sitting with his wife, laughing and taking questions from his people and joining them in the merriment with a jester that poked fun at his royal masters. Yami chuckled as the jester danced around the king, seeming to act out some sort of play that had the drunken crowd crowing with laughter. He watched patiently and once it had ended, he approached the dais. "Ah! Yami," the king greeted with a smile, offering a hand to him. "It's good to see you. Anzu told me you would be here."
"Thank you," Yami said, inclining his head.
"I believe this young lady is your companion?" he indicated the girl that was perched on the side of the dais casually. Yami appeared relieved and nodded. "She arrived just some time ago, saying that she got separated for you. Of course, I wasn't going to simply turn her away. Anzu is here somewhere, with that man of hers...Probably forcing him to enjoy the festivities," he muttered gruffly. The matter of his daughter with a strange man was obviously one that he was still becoming accustomed.
"I believe they're up in the tower, dear," his wife said from behind him. The king, who had his hand on Yami's shoulder, turned with a puzzled look. She pointed up at the sky. "Look, another firework!" Indeed, as they turned their gaze upward, another shower of colourful sparks was filling the sky. "The tower is just up ahead, Yami," she said as her husband was distracted. "I believe Anzu and Bakura are there."
"Thank you," he repeated, bowing his head once more. As he escaped the dais, the girl jumped from her relaxed position and he offered his hand to her. She took it with a smile and the two of them carved a path through the crowds of people. As they arrived at the tower, Yami glanced upward and saw another shot of fireworks erupt from the top of the tower. He smiled and with a gentle tug, he pulled the girl into the tower and together they ascended the staircase that wound up the tower to the top. As he opened the door to the top floor, where a collection of boxes were set up and a stand, he spotted Anzu standing next to Malik, both of them digging through the boxes. At the stand, Seto and Bakura were setting up another firework. "I wasn't aware that you were in charge of fireworks."
"Call it an experiment of ours," Seto said, frowning at Yami's intrusive manner. He blinked, noticing the girl next to him. "Ah...?"
"Yami, I'm glad you made it," Anzu chirped from the boxes. "Hurry, close the door! We don't want any smoke getting down there." Yami closed the door behind him and as Anzu approached him, she also took note of his companion. "Oh! I remember you telling me you had someone that you wanted us to meet when I wrote to you about the festival." Bakura had turned slightly to watch the three interact, his eyes narrowed.
"Yes, this is her," Yami said, turning his gaze to the female.
"Hello, nice to meet you," the girl said, bowing. She had a darker skin tone, more akin to Malik's, and her hair was a dark chocolate colour. "My name is Mana. I'm a sorceress from Hoshäi. I've been helping Isis in Kraion with integrating the arts back into the kingdom."
"She is also, ah...my fiancée," Yami added somewhat awkwardly.
"Fiancée?" Malik repeated, sounding mildly surprised.
"Yeah," Mana answered in a slightly defensive tone. "Do you have something to say about it?"
"Uh – " Malik sounded taken aback, so Anzu hastily intervened.
"I'm happy for both of you," she said, smiling warmly at Mana, who instantly relaxed. "I already know that you two will do great together." She looked from Mana to Yami, her smile widening slightly. He gave a small smile in return, as though relieved that she had interrupted Malik's not-so-tactical response. "Come! Enjoy the fireworks. The view is wonderful from here."
She poured them some tea that had been warming over a small collection of stones that Seto had been keeping warm and then she returned to where Bakura was standing. Yami held Mana's hand in hers as she blew on her tea. The two of them watched as Seto released another firework into the air and then Yami turned his gaze to where Anzu and Bakura were standing. Bakura was watching him and their eyes met briefly before, with a slight tilt of his mouth, the sorcerer turned away. Bakura pulled Anzu a bit closer to his side and she rested her head against his shoulder. Yami smiled at the subtle affectionate gesture and then turned his gaze to watch the glowing yellow sparks float in the sky.
On the ground, there was a collective cheer from the people as the glistening sparks exploded, one by one, into shimmering bright blue strings of light.
DIS: Yay! It seems I'm more able to update when I shove a time limit in my face. I am glad to have finally finished this, it's been long overdue and when I get time, I will go through it and edit it. In the meantime, however, please leave me a review giving me some last feedback. Criticism is always encouraged and embraced. So, for now, ciao! Hope to see you next story :)