A/N: I would just like to say thanks to Forestwater for her help beta-reading throughout the past two years ^_^

Disclaimer: I don't own House of Night, but I do own this story.

I could never believe it. After all the fighting and wars, the simplicity of watching the sunset was mesmerizing. It always washed away my fears, so that for one moment, I could forget. Forget the responsibility thrust onto my shoulders, the endless heartbreaks and troubles. Forget that somehow I was supposed to save the world, but that it was all too easy to make a choice that could destroy it. I just wanted to escape and drown in the sunset. The simple concoction of reds and oranges as they climbed their way up the skies, resting briefly on the water's edge as the water danced with it, the way the ocean tickled your toes, tempting you to join it in dance. I wanted to delve in the ways of the ocean, never to return to the surface. I wanted freedom.

I wanted nothing more than to just sit in the sand without a single worry. From the cliff where I sat, the land stretched out around me, just a few moments from the shore's edge below. On the tip of the horizon I could see many islands. It was probably deserted, peaceful. Free of danger and responsibility. I wondered if anyone would notice if I slipped away.

I heard footsteps behind me, and soon two warm, muscular arms wrapped themselves around me. I couldn't help but collapse into them.

"It could all be ours you know. Just say the word," he said, his breath hot on my neck. "Just the two of us, we can be free. They won't bother you anymore." He left a trail of kisses along my neck, moving slowly upwards. I turned to face him, but couldn't help longing for his lips. My whole body ached to be with him, but there was something . . . something at the back of my mind telling me to keep my guard up. Something telling me this wasn't right. He wasn't right.

"How can I trust you?" I asked.

"How can you trust them?"

I narrowed my eyes.

"I'll tell you anything – anything you want, give you anything you want. I just want to be with you again. You can't leave me this time. We're meant for each other."

That was it. The one choice that fuelled the downfall or rise of Kalona: do I give in to him, or do I fight back? Imagining life with him was so easy. I could do anything and be anyone. Being with him just felt right, but it wasn't me that felt right; it was Aya. The only option was to fight back. I couldn't turn my back on everything, not after all I'd been through. All my friends had been through. If I turned my back now, they would have died for nothing. It would have been all for nothing.

But what if I don't want to fight anymore? What if I can't?

I am but one person. I cannot shoulder the responsibility of the world. I am not Nyx, and neither am I Aya. I should not have to make the choice that was not rightfully mine. But the world is coming to an end, and time is forcing the decision onto me. I have to choose.

Do I fight, making the worst enemy known to man and fighting a battle that is near impossible to win?

Or do I give in to him, letting go of all my worries, never having to fight again, but at the destruction of the world around me?

I don't want to do this anymore. These choices are not my own. I just want —

"Freedom." Kalona looked at me, a puzzled expression on his face. "I want freedom," I said, shoving his arms off of me and turning away from him. "Whatever I choose, people will die. If that is the cost of my choices, then maybe I don't want to make the choice." I stepped away from him. Away from the entity that should never have existed and that same one that drove every part of me into a frenzy. Was it possible to love and hate someone at the same time? To have such opposing thoughts about one person, just as they oppose the one you looked up to? It was like being the gray between black and white, never knowing for a moment which direction to go.

"This is not my war. This is not my life anymore. Everything I do is controlled by you or Nyx. You both say I have free will, to make my own choices, but what freedom is there if you both toy with my life like two children in a tug-of-war? If I can't choose my own life, then I will never be free." I paused, taking a deep breath before looking down at the waters beneath me. "Except in death."

I stepped off the edge and awaited the plunge into the harsh icy waters below. The wind whistled past me, refreshing me in my last moments as the puppet. It was all I ever wanted, just one simple thing: to be able to make your own decisions; to be myself and no one else. I wanted to be free. And now, my freedom lies with death.

It would be the happiest moment in my life, except I am not even allowed that one simple joy, and two large arms drag me up. Drag me back into hell. Once more I am the puppet, my life controlled by others. My life depended on by others. And now, my life sacrificed for others.

I am Zoey Redbird and I live for you.

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