Beginning Note: Another chapter! It'll be nice to have another story finished. I'm trying my hardest to finish everything else. I finally had my inspiration to finish Part III. I hope you enjoy it and thank you all for reading and reviewing. My readers are what keep me writing! Love you all!
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Libba Bray. In this part, I did use dialogue straight from the book; else it wouldn't have worked otherwise. I beg everyone's humble forgiveness and tried to use as little as possible.
The minute Amar stabs her, time freezes and my world shatters, my hope fragmented like a broken mirror.
In the pieces, I see everything that was, that could be, and could have been. She falls against the Tree of All Souls, cradled by its heavy roots.
"Gemma!" I cry, felling the Winterlands creature I was fighting and racing to her side.
She is pale, her freckles standing out and sweat and tears cutting trails though the streaks of blood and dirt on her face. I am afraid to touch her, to hurt her more or have her blood spill and complete the sacrifice. She is still alive, but barely. Her breathing is shallow and her lips move slightly as if she's speaking to someone.
"Gemma, Gemma," I call to her, willing the magic of the Realms to return the girl I love to me. "Please, Gemma. Don't leave me. Not yet."
She moved suddenly, coughing my name. I choke back tears, telling her not to move. It pains me to watch her push the dagger fully into her side.
Without warning, the Tree of All Souls splits and spills its magic into me. It fills me, tearing me into pieces, ripping me raw with its power. I collapse onto the cold ground, breathing heavily and feeling strange. I feel powerful and dark as I struggle to my feet. I look at my hands and discover that I'm radiating a golden light.
"Kartik!" she cries, ghost green eyes wide with fear and determination.
She reaches out a crimson hand to me and blood drips from her thin, trembling fingers onto the ground, rousing a cry of glee from the Winterlands creatures. The giant tree begins to move eagerly, twining its roots around Gemma's legs like a cat. My fire-haired lover struggles against the creeping roots and her friends and Fowlson race to free her. It is not dead like we had hoped.
I turn my attention to the creature that used to be my brother.
"I told you that you would bring her to us, Brother. That you would be the death of her," he tells me, seeming saddened at what was going on around him.
I won't let her die, not here. And I won't let what is left of my older brother suffer anymore. He does not want to be a monster. I can see it in the shifting white-blue of his eyes. With a yell, I plunge his sword straight into his chest, releasing him. He lets out a wounded scream and is gone.
I turn to smile at the girl I think I've always known I loved. I knew what I had to do the minute the tree's magic entered my body, maybe even before that. I place my shining hands against her bleeding side, letting the magic of the tree and the Realms intertwine and heal. She shakes her head wildly. She sees. She knows what I mean to do.
"No," she whispers violently and desperately, red curls a tangled mess.
She couldn't look more beautiful to me. She looks like Kali the Destroyer, fierce, proud, and deadly. Ready to crush bone and let blood run. She tries to pull away but I won't let her. Not when we have no time left. If I am to do what I plan, I want the feeling of her to be what I carry with me forever. To be the last thing I ever remember.
"The debt must be paid," I tell her, at peace with my decision. "And you are needed in the world. I've waited my whole life to feel a sense of purpose. To know my place. I feel it now."
She begins to cry, sliver tears coursing down her sun-blessed cheeks. It's too soon for the both of us. We didn't even get a chance to explore what we could have been. She has always been the perfect fit for me despite all of our differences and difficulties. It was all of that which made me love her all the more.
"Now I know my destiny."
"What is it?" she asks, voice thick and sad with her tears.
"This," I whisper and pull her flush against me.
I kiss her with everything that I am, placing all my love and hope into our last embrace. All of me wishes I could stay. Stay and watch her hair turn silver with age. Watch our children, dark-haired, caramel-skinned, and green-eyed, run through the hot fields of India. She's crying harder, telling me the roots have let her go. I smile.
I feel them claiming me instead and my body becomes rigid. I cannot suppress the small cry of pain that escapes me as they dig into my body. My blood pounds in my ears, keeping time with the tree's heartbeat. I am sorry that I cannot stay and give her the future she wants with me. Her friends try to pull her away from me, but she rips free, running to me. She says she wishes she can undo it.
"There is never turning back, Gemma," I tell her, voice soft and full of love. Her beautiful green eyes leak more crystalline tears, making them shine like the ocean. "You have to go forward. Make the future yours."
I kiss her sweetly one last time, feeling the tree steal my life away. She kisses me back fiercely as the tree wraps its vines around my throat. The last thing I do is breathe out her name, giving her all of my desire in one word.
I can still hear her, feel her kiss. I sense her release the magic she holds back into the last. It strengthens my rooms and her power floods into me.
That's my girl, I think proudly as she falls to the ground and sobs at the base of me, calling my name softly as if it's a prayer.
Time passes, how much I am unsure, but I feel her again, her smooth cheek against me and her burning tears wetting the bark. I feel her arms tighten around me in an embrace, one that I long to return but cannot. I whisper her name on the breeze and smile, even though she cannot see me, when I feel her lips against the bark.
I won't ever leave her. I will be here and in her dreams, waiting until I can take her into my arms again and kiss her.
I sigh her name softly one last time before falling deep into myself.
A/N: I hope you've enjoyed Intertwined! I know that I've enjoyed writing it. I like writing from Kartik's POV because you don't really get to see what he's thinking. Half the time, I feel like you're thinking he's a jerk because of the way he acts. But I love Kartik and definitely cried hysterically when he "died." I thought about staging a protest, but really. What good would that do? Thanks for sticking by me! Leave me LOTS of love!