(A/N: So, though I love the Inkheart Trilogy, I am completely disappointed by the way the woman writes romance. While we fall in love with her characters, there's no satisfaction as to why they fall in love with each other. So, unsatisfied and left without any closure as to Meggie, Farid and Doria's ending, I'm writing my own.
Warning: I haven't finished Inkdeath, I just read the end, so this won't be completely cannon, but it's how I picture it in my head, and it is a little spoilerish. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own Inkheart.
Fourteen days. For fourteen days the men that I loved had been absent from my life. Mo. Farid. The Black Prince. Even the loss of Fenoglio was berating on my heart. Doria.
Had it only been fourteen days of searching for supplies, I might have been just a bit more relaxed, but my men were fighting for their lives. For the lives of our people. For my life.
Twice in the last two weeks a bird had been sent from Mo with a message of the battle, updates on their progress, where they were, how they were doing. He'd even slyly mentioned that Farid was a great help, and Doria was fighting braver than any young man he'd ever encountered. Unnecessary, but I knew Mo, and I knew he only put that down for my comfort, for my assurance that they were still alive.
Oh Mo! The last bird had come four days ago, and each day felt like another possible nail in their coffins as I roamed anxiously around the robber camp, helpless and useless. I tried to busy myself with Roxanne and her herbs, helping the sick wherever I could, and learning everything possible about what root cured what, and which were poisonous, but every face I saw reminded me of another. It was Mo that was sick and coughing up blood from the too cold nights with nothing to warm him. Each injury was Farid with a new battle wound that I couldn't attend to. Each man crying out for his son in the night was Doria, pining over the comrades he'd lose before his very eyes.
Each patient I attended to reminded me that I wasn't where I wanted to be, fighting by my father's side.
When I didn't have Roxanne's patients to distract me, I would sit by the ancient willow tree near the river, deep into the woods, and try to sort out my feelings between the two men who had stolen my heart.
I would remember Farid's warm lips against my own, and the way they'd send my heart fluttering through my chest, begging for an exit so it could expand to the full capacity it felt, but that thought was always followed by one of him leaving me alone in the Robber's Camp for days on end, never with a promise to return. I'd begun to think of him less and less, even before he'd left for the war with Dustfinger.
Dustfinger… I cringed at that name; the name of the man that stole my love's heart from me.
I tried to understand. Did I not love my own father more than anyone, including Farid? But I could leave my father's side to make time for him. Why couldn't he have done the same for me? I'd begun to blame myself. I didn't keep his interest any more. There was nothing about me that could hold onto him. I thought of the beautiful maids that surrounded him in Orpheus' home, and I knew the company they kept with him. Maids gossip just as bad as old ladies, and more than a few bragged about how the dark haired boy embraced them in the closet.
As much as it had burned my heart the first time I'd heard that, the sting had lessened as if covered in a calming salve that had taken effect over time, and that salve was named Doria.
Doria; the boy that brought me flowers every day, the boy that always seemed to turn up when tears started peeking at my eyes, the boy who would take my hand when I was troubled and assure me everything would work out, the boy that had a way of making me laugh and making me forget the troubles in this beautiful world that wasn't really real.
Slowly but surely Farid was exiting my dreams, and Doria was beginning to star in them. When I thought of him out on the war path, I worried for him almost as much as I worried for Mo, and I began adding his name to the words I spoke daily in hopes that they would protect my father.
How sweet his name sounded on my tongue. I whispered it out loud, though I new no one was near.
The sounds of the river filled my ears, and the long vines of the willow tree gently caressed my arms as a soft wind picked up, as if to say, everything was going to be alright. I saw Doria's face again, and imagined what it would be like to feel his lips on mine. Would it be different than kissing Farid? Would my heart pound harder than it did when I saw his face, even in my mind?
A horn blew out from the camp and I turned my head in its direction. My heart froze, but my body launched up into the air and my feet raced towards the camp as fast as they possibly could. My long, faded red dress snagged on a tree root that was growing out of the ground and I heard the tear, but I didn't stop running. The sound of the horn meant there was important news, and the most important news we could have received at that moment would have been about the soldiers.
As I got closer to the camp I heard voices. Women were crying out from every direction. I pushed my feet harder until I broke through the trees.
I stopped when I saw them. Our men, our soldiers, marching through the camp, faces mixed with pride and more sorrow than any person should ever have to know. Their numbers were cut in half from when they had left, and that was enough to cause my stomach to turn, the nausea threatening to bring up the soup and bread I had eaten earlier.
My eyes searched frantically, but the men were spilling out everywhere, finding their women and children. I saw my mother looking with the same urgency I was, and I knew we were thinking the same thing.
I saw him before my mother did and nothing could hold me back. He saw me running for him just before I hurled myself into his arms. I didn't stop to check if he was injured anywhere, but he held me tight, my legs hanging in mid air, and didn't let go. I buried my face in his neck and breathed in. Awww Mo. How much everything changed the moment I was in his arms. My whole world turned back to right side up, and for the first time in fourteen days, I felt safe.
I felt a body press up behind me and then wrap it's arms around the two of us. I recognized my mother's cry instantly, and felt her hot tears falling into my neck. I removed one of my arms and pulled my mother in, and suddenly the past angers didn't matter anymore. We were reunited. We were a family again.
My father put me down and pulled my mother into a tight embrace. He pulled back after a moment and cupped both her cheeks in his hands and brought her close till he could kiss her. The sight used to make me cringe and shut my eyes, but this time I smiled. I relished in the warmth that washed over me, and then turned my head searching for another.
I found Farid. He was waiting a ways off, his eyes anxiously on me. I took a step toward him and he waited in his spot until I reached him.
"Meggie," he breathed, and then reached out for my arms and pulled me to him.
Despite the fact I was still somewhat angry at him, I was still so relieved he was alive and safe, so I in return enclosed my arms around his waist, though I didn't pull as tight as he had.
I saw Doria from over his shoulder, and my heart instantly went into over drive. His eyes lit up as soon as he saw me, and he started to take a step closer, until he noticed exactly whose arms I was in, and then he stopped, watching us with curious eyes. I couldn't tear mine away from him, but then Farid put his hands on my arms again and pushed me back a little ways.
He smiled and then leaned down to kiss me, but I turned away and his lips met my cheek. He pulled back and stared at me confused, and I watched as a sadness seemed to take over his expression.
"You're saying goodbye to me, aren't you?" he asked in almost a whisper.
I took one last look at Doria, who was still watching us speculatively, then turned my attention back to the boy who had once captivated my heart so thoroughly, I thought it'd never recover when it broke.
"Come on," I said nodding my head off to the side.
He nodded in reply and then took his place by my side as we began to walk away from the noise and commotion around us. He tried to reach from my hand, but I folded them over the front of my dress.
After a moment he broke the silence between us. "I'm leaving I think."
"Where will you go?" I asked, but my thoughts were back at the camp, with another boy.
"I don't know. Anywhere. Everywhere."
He chuckled. "No. Not with Dustfinger." I looked at him surprised. "He's realized there's no where else in the world he'd rather be than at her side, and I think I can finally understand that."
I felt him turn his eyes on me but I didn't look back at him.
He put a hand on my shoulder and turned me till I was facing him. "Come with me Meggie. I want you at my side. Imagine all the places we could go, the things we could see, the creatures we'd discover."
The longing for this new adventure was obvious in his voice. His enthusiasm was almost enough to ignite my own, and for a moment I could imagine it. I'd always wondered exactly how far Fenoglio's world extended. Did it go only as far as he'd imagined, or did it create itself a whole earth, as it had seemed to do with the rest of its' world already.
I let those thoughts slip away, and shook my head.
He gripped my shoulders tighter, pleading one last time. "Please Meggie. I don't want to be without you."
"You've already been without me for a long time." He looked at me confused. "I waited for you Farid." It hurt to say the words, but they'd been burning on my tongue for so long now I didn't think I could stop them. "Every day I waited for you to come, but there was always something more important. Finding Dustfinger. Serving Orpheus. Cornering a maid in a closet." I raised an eyebrow at him, and he looked just like Despina did when she was caught stealing a treat from her mother's cabinet.
"Don't worry," I laughed. "I'm not angry about that anymore. I'm just… you were gone so much, my heart broke so much, and when it healed, it didn't paint you back into it."
I shrugged and then removed myself from his grasp. We stayed there a moment, facing each other, and finally he began to speak.
"But if you came with me, we would never be apart. We could always be together, and you would always come first."
"I don't think so Farid. You're heart breathes for an adventure that hasn't called my name. I want a home. You want the world. I don't think I could ever live up to that. No, I won't go with you."
I saw the resign on his face. He knew as well as Mo how stubborn I was when I'd made a decision, and there was no talking me out of it.
"Well then, Little Silvertongue, at least let me kiss you goodbye," he said, a sad smile on his face.
I stepped back. "No I won't let you kiss me. Not anymore. Come on Farid. Let's go back."
He followed me, his shoulders slumped, the air silent around us until we got back to the camp where an infirmary had been set up and injured men who'd just returned were being attended to. I immediately scanned the crowd for Doria, but I didn't see him.
Farid stopped and turned me to him again. I saw that same sad look on his face, and I pitied him for it.
"I'm sorry," he said in a low voice, his eyes digging holes into the ground. When he looked back up, he had forced a smile onto his face, and it was such a familiar grin I couldn't help the one that spread across my face. I would miss that look, more than anything else about him, I would miss that smile. It used to melt away all my fears almost as well as the sound of Mo's voice could.
He leaned down and I let him kiss my cheek. "Goodbye Meggie. Don't ever forget me," he whispered in my ear.
He pulled back and stared me in the eyes. "I won't," I promised.
He tightened his bag strap around his shoulder, and I saw it move. The martin must have been sleeping inside. He looked at me one last time and then turned and headed off, once again out of my life, and I had no idea when or if I would ever see him again, only this time, there was no pain rippling through my body.
Later Doria would tell me that Farid passed him on his way out of the camp, and turned and gave Doria such a glare he could feel it in his toes, but it didn't bother him much, because he knew when he saw that glare that I had chosen him and not Farid.
I found him helping attend to the injured men, and I froze in place a ways down until he saw me. When he did I could recognize the desperation in his expression. It was exactly what I was feeling.
We stayed like that for a moment, and then finally he took the first step. I followed suit. We both were walking at a quick pace at first, trying to maneuver through the throngs of people, but when there were not but a few feet between us, we quickly closed the gap and I was finally where I'd wanted to be all along; closed tightly in his arms, my hands gripping his shirt just above his shoulders, and my face buried in his neck.
I could feel my tears slipping down my cheeks, as well as a smile plastered on my face. He was safe. He was here with me and he was safe.
I'm not sure how long we stayed locked in each other's embrace, but I noticed blood dripping down his arm and I pulled back.
"What is this?" I almost shouted.
He followed my gaze. "Oh, it must have opened up. It's nothing," he offered when he saw the panic on my face. "Just a small wound from battle, only just from yesterday."
I placed my hands on his shoulders and pushed him down onto a log just behind us. He sat obligingly and smiled amusedly up at me.
I called for Roxanne and then pushed up his sleeve till the cut was visible on his upper arm. I gently undid the old bandage and then Roxanne appeared. She examined the cut and explained everything she saw to me.
"Do you see there, that dark area that looks like dirt?" I nodded. "It's infected."
I felt my breath catch in my throat, and noted the slight panic on Doria's face.
Roxanne didn't do anything to assure us, (she didn't have the best bedside manner) but instead placed a large leaf in my hand that she'd taken out from the basket she was holding. She then grinded a couple different herbs between her fingers and let them fall into the leaf. Lastly, she scooped out a substance from a small jug that looked like green clay. She plopped it on top of the herbs and then mixed it all together with her fingers.
"Here," she said, "rub this into the wound. It should clear the infection and help it heal faster." She then handed me a fresh cloth to wrap his arm in and turned her face to Doria. "Be prepared though, this will sting as much as the Magpie's face is ugly."
She winked at us, and then disappeared into the crowd.
I looked up at Doria's face, but he was looking down nervously at the muck in my hands.
I smirked at him. "Nervous?"
He didn't answer right away. "Oh come on then, just get it over with. The longer you wait, the more anxious I'll get."
I did my best to stifle my laugh, and then careful not to spill the medicine, I reached my body up, putting one hand on his cheek, and then kissed his forehead slowly.
I pulled back and boldly stared into his surprised eyes. "I'm glad you're safe," I said, my face and voice now more serious. He gulped and remained quiet as I leaned back down to the side of his arm. I scooped out a handful of the goop into my fingers, and then slowly pressed it against his wound.
He clamped his teeth shut and groaned while turning his head away from me. I winced at his pain. He clenched his fists and dug his boots into the dirt. When he turned back to me he was laughing, but you could still see the pain written on his face.
"She wasn't lying," he chuckled.
I smiled at him and then set my attention back to my task, though I could still feel his eyes on me.
"I saw Farid leave," he said after a moment.
I unconsciously slipped and felt my fingers that were wiping the muck on his wound push a little too hard into his arm. He let out a painful hissing sound and I quickly retracted my hand, some of the muck flying off my fingers and onto my clothes.
"I'm sorry," I apologized, my eyes turning to him, my body frozen in place.
He took a deep breath and relaxed, then smiled wistfully at me, but I could see a little worry in his eyes. I'd spent so much time staring at him in the last couple months I was becoming an expert at reading his facial expressions.
I cautiously began applying more of the goop to his arm and kept my eyes locked on what I was doing. I felt too bad to look him in the eye.
"So," he continued, "where's he off to? Everyone's so tired I was surprised he didn't stop to rest."
"Farid's leaving Ombra." I replied, searching for some pain in my heart at that truth, but finding none.
"Oh, he hadn't mentioned anything to me, not that we became best friends or anything in the last two weeks, though we were sent out as scouts quite a bit together." He chuckled. "Where's he going? Dustfinger's farm?"
"No. He's going to travel, see the world I guess, just like Dustfinger did before he disappeared."
Doria was silent for a moment and I stole a peak at his face. He was staring at me inquisitively. A slight breeze picked up blowing on his beautiful brown curls.
I put the last of the muck on and he cringed again, making another grunting noise. I gently wrapped my hands on his arm under the place the wound lie, and then softly blew on it, just like Mo used to do whenever I fell and scrapped my knee.
I pulled back, looked up at him and smiled. "How's that?" I asked.
He smiled back at me. "You're good at this. Doesn't even faint at the sight of blood." He shook his head incredulously. "I think you may be the bravest girl I've ever known."
I could feel myself blush.
"Will you miss him?" He asked me, and I stared at him confused. "Farid."
I looked off into the entrance of the camp, where Farid had departed. "Yeah, I will a little, but not enough to make me sad."
I looked back into Doria's eyes and he smiled down at me.
I picked up the clean cloth Roxanne had given me and began wrapping it around his arm. He silently watched me the whole time, and when I finished, I leaned down and kissed his shoulder just above the wound. I let my lips linger there for a moment and then pulled back and brought his sleeve back down his arm.
When I met his gaze he asked me if I wanted to take a walk with him. I smiled and nodded, and then let him take my hand and lead me away from the crowd of injured men and the women attending to them. We passed the deeper part of the camp where the children were playing a game together with a ball Fenoglio had written up and had me read out for them. We continued walking until we entered the trees and ended up at the same willow tree I had been sitting under earlier, watching the river.
We stood side by side there right at the base of the river. The wind was blowing the soft vines of the tree against my back and I felt it caress my arms and my neck, as if the tree were alive and comforting me.
We both looked out at the river for a while before Doria broke the silence.
"Did you think of me at all while I was away?"
Did I think of him? Every day. I was too embarrassed to give him that answer, so I tried to let him know while making my answer more subtle than the truth.
"I worried about you. So much it made me sick. I was afraid you wouldn't come back."
We didn't turn to face each other, and I wondered what expression he was wearing on his face just then.
"I thought about you every day," he said, and I felt my heart start to thud in my chest. It was something I had wondered about too. "Whenever there was a fight, I thought of you, and it gave me strength to go on. When I wanted to quit, when it all became too much," he hesitated for a moment, and I imagined there were memories he was trying to keep back.
"I would think of you, and it moved me forward. At night it would take me hours to fall asleep. The whole world is so much darker then, more than just the blackness of the sky, but there's a darkness that blankets around you then, when you're away from your home and the people you love, and it becomes so lonely, and so frightening, and I would think of you then, and even though you weren't there, I felt you with me, and I could finally close my eyes in peace.
"After so much killing," he choked on the word, "it seems to become so pointless after a while, and you forget why your there and what the point of it all is. It's enough to make a man want to lay down right there in the middle of the road and let the white women come for him, and it was in those moments as well, that I would think of you."
I felt his hand cup my cheek and he turned my face toward him. Both our bodies were still facing the river, but our heads were now turned towards each other, and he locked my gaze with his. I couldn't have broken away if I'd wanted to.
"Meggie, I fought for you. You were my reason. I looked over my whole life, and all I saw was you. The shining beacon of light in a world of confusion and darkness, and I knew, as I've known since I've met you, that I want nothing more than to protect you, to keep you safe, to fight for you and love you."
He closed his eyes then and I watched him drift for a moment before he came back to me. I absently leaned my face closer to his, and I closed my eyes then as he continued to speak.
"I've loved you since the moment I saw you Meggie. I was waiting, because I knew your heart still belonged to him, and if you still need time, I'll wait forever for you, but you have to know, one word from you and I'm yours forever, and I never want to be parted from you again."
It was such a comforting promise. After all the time my heart had broken while Farid was away, to see in my mind Doria by my side always, and I knew he would be true to that word. He'd already proved it in friendship.
I felt myself smile. Of course I loved him. There wasn't a doubt in my mind, or in my heart. I reached out and took his hand in mine. I heard his breath catch in his throat, and I opened my eyes to meet his.
He was looking at me in the way I loved most. There was so much warmth in that look. So much love. I wanted so much for him to always look at me that way.
"Doria," I whispered even though I knew no one was around. The moment felt too private, too sacred. "I'm yours. Forever I'm yours."
He smiled at me and gave a short and warm laugh. He turned his body toward me then and I mirrored his action. He reached out and cupped my face with both his hands and pulled me closer to him till our foreheads were resting against each other.
We both closed our eyes and soaked up the moment, until finally he tilted my face upward so that he could meet my lips with his own.
His kiss was soft and gentle, and as I wrapped my arms around his back and closed my fingers around his shirt, I felt an overwhelming sensation full of so many emotions I couldn't keep track of them all. I was loved, and I was safe, and I knew he wouldn't break his promise. I'd never admitted to wanting protection before, but I would gladly accept the offer from this man.
I squeezed myself closer to him and he deepened the kiss, and I could no longer think of anything else. I hadn't realized I'd been waiting for this moment until it was happening, until I could feel its power straight to my toes, and I saw that I reciprocated Doria's desire; I never wanted to be parted from him from this moment on.
When he pulled back, he didn't release his hands from my face, nor did he turn his eyes away. He grinned at me so wide, a smile spread on my own face as if his had been contagious. How I loved that smile, and I vowed right then I would do everything in my power to see it as much as possible.
"I love you Meggie," he said putting his forehead back to mine.
I inhaled the sweet, intoxicating air. I breathed in his scent. I committed this moment into the most treasured part of my memories.
"I love you Doria."
He kissed me again, quicker this time, but just as sweet, and then he took my hand and we walked back to the camp.
I thought about the girl who came to this Inkworld from a distant land, a whole other world, and it seemed so long ago I couldn't really pinpoint just when exactly she'd slipped through the pages of the place she'd come to call her home. How different that girl had been. She was so unrecognizable.
That girl hadn't been as strong. That girl had still been just a child. That girl had loved a different boy then the one whose warm hand was now enclosed against her own.
I imagined that girl on a ship, sailing out into the ocean, never to return. I imagined that girl waving with a smile on her face, and I had to smile too.
My life had changed so much. It had gone from something so dark and fearful, to something beautiful.
I watched that girl sail away in my mind, and whispered, "Goodbye Meggie."
"What?" Doria asked, looking down at me, smiling my smile.
I pushed up on my tip toes and kissed him again. "Nothing," I said and then looked back towards the camp, towards my life that seemed to be starting anew.
I could almost see the new me waiting there, ready to welcome me with open arms, promising me a brighter future than the one I had so recently expected.
I smiled deeper as she looked at me, a gleam in her eyes, arms open, and she said…