I made it through the wilderness,
Somehow I made it through.
Didn't know how lost I was
Until I found you.
I was beat, incomplete,
I'd been had, I was sad and blue
But you made me feel,
Yeah, you made me feel
Shiny and new!
— Like a Virgin
From the album of the same name by Madonna
He couldn't bring himself to destroy the marble sculpture as he had planned. Instead he bequeathed it to the town, and Milford happily put it on display in the lobby of Town Hall. Nevertheless, Robbie was all too glad to be rid of the thing, dusting his hands of lonely idolatry forever.
"You did WHAT?"
Níu grinned the grin of an elder monkey: wise, satisfied, full of cheek.
"I told them to ignore you. They quickly passed the message on to every elf in the country."
Robbie fumed. Before he could launch into a full-on verbal assualt:
"You needed to learn your lesson, young man. You flew off in a rage to search for love and a home and a family, without appreciating that they were already right under your nose."
Sportacus beamed at Robbie, squeezing his hand.
"Fear not, though," Níu said placidly. "Now they know of you, your grandmother, uncle, aunts and cousins are eager to meet you. I'm sure you'll find time to visit. If not, your granny will make time for you… she's always been quite the old battle-axe."
His granny was a battle-axe. Even the mere thought of this filled Robbie with affection.
"You know," Stephanie interjected, reclining against him, "it totally makes sense in a lot of ways that you're an elf. Like the fact that you always managed to fool us all behind those costumes."
"Not to mention fighting off that plant," he murmured pensively, pulling up the hem of his trouser-leg to examine the scar that was still embedded in his shin.
"Speaking of which," Stephanie asked, "how is my great-grandmother's lilac plant?"
Robbie smiled at her. "Just fine, Pinky. And I know exactly what I want to do with it."
Before he could divulge this, Milford interrupted with another serving of sandwiches for the group.
A special area was arranged in the middle of Lazy Park. A ring of posies and bluebells half-encircled the patch of rich soil.
Once the hole had been dug deep enough, Robbie lowered his mother's heart into the grave. The beautiful lilac shrub, which had withstood the loneliness and desolation of Deverhill Manor for so many years, was planted on top of it. No fancy headstone, iron statue or sculpted angels marked the place, only a small brass plaque that Bessie had commissioned.
"You've done her proud," she told the dutiful son.
Sportacus put an arm around him, allowing him to shed as many tears of exhaustion and absolution as he needed.
The elf had taken to calling his lover 'Glanni', dropping the old suffix. Because, he explained, not only was he not Italian, but to him, there was nothing 'little' about Robbie at all.
"So it was all this time, Glanni…?"
The two were knotted together upon the recliner, legs and arms coiled about one another. Sportacus slowly unravelled the locks of heavily-gelled black bangs that were twisted around his fingers.
"All this time we've known each other. You've really loved me that long?"
Robbie grinned. "Not exactly. At first I just thought you were cute. And really annoying."
The other man laughed, quite satisfied at this capacity of his to annoy.
"Not a moment passed when you weren't on my mind, in one way or another. Then one afternoon, it just hit me."
"It was when one of my machines— my makeshift trebuchet, no, I think it was my iron bombard— it backfired on me and I ended up rocketing through the troposphere. You zoomed up on that flying scooter thing of yours and caught me in your arms. My God, how everything swam and ached and tingled. For days and days afterwards. The moment I slammed into your clutches, I knew that I couldn't exist for another second without adoring you and wanting you madly."
Sportacus squirmed with pleasure, planting his lips on the side of Robbie's face.
"Not that I didn't kick and scream and struggle against it," he added mindfully. "Like I said, I thought I was no good for you. For your sake, I spent a lot of time hoping that you'd find some pretty, pouty damsel to fixate on… or better yet, that years from now, you'd look at Stephanie and see a beautiful grown woman. At least she's a chip off your own block. She's patient and gentle and could look after you far better than I could." A touch of sadness had crept back into Robbie's voice, and Sportacus bristled with the desire to chase it off.
"No," he answered firmly, scooping his Glanni into a passionate embrace. "Stephanie will always be my little sister. I'm afraid that it's the pretty, pouty damsel who has stolen my heart."
The elf kissed Robbie's petulant sneer, and they dissolved into a muddle of wordless, delectable intimacy.
Eventually, later in the day, they surfaced.
"By the way, my father wrote me," Sportacus mumbled, amidst pressing a rather swollen pair of lips to his lover's shoulder.
groaned, leaning his head back to allow better access to the smooth
skin of his neck. "What does the old codger want? Another excuse to
meddle, I suppose?"
"Probably. He's asked that you, I and Stephanie all come to visit in September. And you have to bring some of your inventions to show your family."
Robbie sighed. "I suppose he's been boasting about me obscenely."
Sportacus nuzzled him adoringly. "Who wouldn't?"
Before he settled back down, Robbie posed another question. "Why does he want Stephanie along?"
The ministrations stopped. Those blue eyes fogged over with ambivalence. He looked as if he was considering divulging a bombshell of a situation.
Quite conveniently, his crystal beeped.
"It's Trixie, she's skateboarding without a helmet," the hero announced, leaping up. "Back soon, kettlingur."
He made himself decent, blew a quick kiss and dashed out of the lair.
Robbie shook his head, allowing himself a smirk. That sweet, dopey hero!— if Robbie himself was able to figure it out so quickly, then by the end of the day, he was sure to hear Stephanie's elated squeals at the idea of being coronated the eleventh heir of the Íþróttaálfur legacy.
He crossed the lair, sat at his workbench and tinkered placidly away, awaiting the return of his blue-eyed soulmate, and the little pink bundle of excitement that would no doubt follow him.