Except for a brief foray into Achaea to ascertain that everything was alright and pick up the Grays and another, briefer foray into ancient Thera to make sure Dash's little kingdom survived, Danny and his friends remained in the Human World for the rest of the week. They had many, many loose ends to tie up, and Danni was more than capable of handling the Ghost Zone by herself for a few days.
Maddie and Jack would be called to court as soon as the latter recovered from his injuries. Even if they hadn't shot at him, threatened to dissect him, created weapons for the sole purpose of destroying him, and informed him that he was a no-good lying piece of scum, they would have been arrested for what they had done to him and Jazz as children. Both siblings had gargled ectoplasm in their youth, and they had constantly been exposed to potentially deadly explosions. To put the final nail in the coffin, not noticing that one of your children had been half-dead for four years HAD to count as child neglect.
When Maddie found out that she was being prosecuted for "doing her job," she snapped. It took almost all the hospital's security staff to restrain her. In the end, they were forced to dose her with enough tranquilizers to down a small elephant.
Walkingstick found the Fenton children an excellent lawyer- the daughter of the man who had convicted his own abusive mother. Her father had retired years ago, but he had left the family business in excellent hands. Violet Chae was even more competent than he had been, and prosecuting abusive parents was her specialty.
Since a great deal of the trial hinged on Danny's Phantom identity, and since he'd transformed in front of so many people already, he had Tucker organize a massive press conference in Caspar High's gym. "I'm not going to tell you how I got these powers," he told them bluntly after transforming between his two selves. "People will get ideas- and the people who get those ideas are the last ones who should get ghost powers."
After a brief summary of his half-life as a half-ghost, including explanations for his 'crimes,' and blowing Vlad's secret identity sky-high (Clockwork had thoughtfully provided footage that was compatible with human DVD players), he took questions. Most of them were rational- who else knew, are there any other ghost hybrids, what happened to Mayor Masters?- but a few of them were downright inappropriate. He was not going to tell a bunch of complete strangers how far he and Sam had gotten- though he did throw in the fact that they were engaged.
The sound of fangirls' hearts breaking into thousands of tiny pieces echoed throughout the country.
He finished the conference with a very casual invitation to his coronation next month. Then, fighting back laughter as he soared through the ceiling, the hybrid made his escape.
"You really shouldn't have done that," Sam muttered. But she was smiling.
Goth or not, she had been smiling a lot more lately. Finally reconciling with her parents had done wonders for the usually gloomy girl's mood. The ring on her finger, silver and gold bands intertwined with a scintillating diamond in the center, was also a great help. The diamond had been carved in the shape of a skull, a permanent reminder of the Ring of Rage (now Rejoicing), her first engagement ring.
"We'd already been there an hour too long," her fiancé grumbled. "I'll schedule another conference later. I just wanted to get out of there."
The second conference centered on his defeat of Pariah Dark and its implications. No one could get over the fact that a local child, a known troublemaker, had become both a hero and the lord of an entire species. Quite a few people couldn't even believe that ghosts were organized or intelligent enough to even have a High King. They were quickly silenced by a quick demonstration of Danny's new thrall army.
News of his title spread throughout the Ghost Zone, stunning everyone who heard it. The Right of Conquest wasn't exactly common knowledge. Those who had known about it had thought that it couldn't apply to a mere halfa, despite what persistent whispered rumors claimed. But the Crown of Fire, Ring of Rage, thrall army, and support of four monarchs in the Borderlands were enough to convince them that yes, this a half-human could indeed become King of All Ghosts.
Well, they comforted themselves, at least he couldn't possibly be worse than Pariah.
The coronation itself didn't occur until a month after the hybrid's return to the Ghost Zone, mainly due to the immense organization required. They had to find places for all the visiting ambassadors, both human and ghostly. They needed to provide food and translators for the humans (not many mortals spoke Esperanto, the lingua franca of the Ghost Zone), and to hide Pariah's Sarcophagus where it could never be found again.
Finally the day of the coronation arrived. Danny, exhausted, could hardly believe it. Was this really the day his half-life changed forever?
"You ready, little brother?" Jazz called softly. His head jerked up. He hadn't heard her approach. Not for the first time, the hybrid wished he had a human sense as well.
"You can't be late for your own coronation," Danielle's voice reminded him.
Smiling, Danny opened the door. "You're right. That would be really embarrassing, right?"
"Just a bit, yeah," his twin agreed.
Jazz's eyes filled with tears. "You look so handsome," she sniffed, and threw her arms around him. Danny turned beet red. Danni fought back a snicker. "My baby brother, all grown up and- and-" But here her voice trailed off, replaced by sobs of joy.
"Jazz," her brother groaned, patting her awkwardly on the back. "You're the top advisor to the Lord of the Underworld with a zillion scary-sounding titles of your own. Get a grip, okay?"
She kissed his head before disengaging. "Right," she hiccupped. "I'm just- so proud." A sniffle. "I wish…." She cut off with a flinch.
"I wish so too," her brother confessed.
His sister swallowed several times, wiped the tears from her eyes. "Right. It's not going to happen. So…." Her smile returned, bright and brilliant as ever. "Let's get this show on the road, okay?" His eyes glowed blue and green and teal. Rings split around his waist, changing his body into the form he had used to fight Dan.
Sisters at his heels, the High King of All Ghosts walked out to be crowned.
The remainder of the coronation passed in a brightly colored blur. He remembered cameras flashing… trumpets sounding… Sam, beyond gorgeous in her violet gown, standing between her parents… Tucker, PDA abandoned, grinning ear to ear, as his mother sobbed into a handkerchief… Valerie and Damien Gray, both in red, tears streaming from their eyes… Pandora, proud as any mother… Frostbite, crocodile tears dripping from his eyes… Dash in his soldier's uniform with a contingent of guards… Clockwork holding the Crown of Fire….
And then the Crown was on his head, and he was king in truth.
The guests cheered: deafening, cacophonous shouts of joy. Their cries went on and on and on; it seemed that the ecstatic din would never end.
Then the king raised his arms. The crowd fell silent, waiting eagerly.
"Thank you," he said quietly.
He had prepared a speech- yet another reason he'd needed two months to pull off this coronation- but looking out at the jubilant crowd, he tossed it into a mental garbage can. Screw the speech. He would speak from the heart.
"Things are going to change around here," he proclaimed.
He spoke for a long, long time, promising many things: peace with the Human World, international standards of justice, preservation of local customs (so long as they didn't violate an individual's most basic rights), strong trade, bliss….
He promised them that he would be their servant, wholly dedicated to their interests. He could not guarantee that he wouldn't make mistakes, but he would never, never make the same error twice. That he swore.
And those who knew him knew he spoke the truth. He had promised, and Danny Fenton-Phantom always kept his promises.
It's... over. It's really over. My baby is all grown up.
This is going to be a stand-alone fic. You guys guilted me into making a sequel for Kith and Kin, and I agreed because that universe has so much more POSSIBILITY. But there's not much of that here, because everyone's living happily ever after already. A sequel for Backpack would just be overkill.
Thanks to everyone who read, reviewed, faved, or whatevered. You guys kept me going, y'know? You rock!