He was her burning flame—why did she have the feeling that her fire was going out?
Confetti from seemingly nowhere spun and fell around her head as all of Veldime, but especially Holt Village, celebrated their return to their former human selves. People that had once been Killer Puppets, Nekomatas, and Zombies, amongst other things, toted Adell around on their shoulders hailing him as the hero of the century. Raucous cheers of "Hip hip hooray!" filled the air and soon a band struck up a cheery song as various villagers went to work cooking delicious party foods, which was apparently enough of an incentive for even Etna to hang around longer than she had originally intended.
Children ran by, giggling and trailing colorful streamers, and Rozalin couldn't help but smile at their joy. She, Etna, Yukimaru, Fubuki, Tink, and a few others were the only demons present—everyone else, as previously mentioned, were now human. She almost felt left out. It was wonderful to see Adell's family back to normal though; they all looked so happy, hugging one another and laughing like the rest of Veldime probably was at this moment.
She, of course, most certainly did not want to join in their merriment. She was a demon, a proud one at that, and—
"What are you standing over there for, Rozalin?" Adell showed up out of the crowds, grinning widely. Just looking at him brought back the memory of their kiss, and she blushed slightly. If he noticed he didn't display it in any way, just grabbed her arm (despite her indignant protests) and led her over to his family.
Adell's mother, to her shock, grabbed her in a hug. "There you are! You're all right, aren't you? Not hurt from the battle?" She pulled back, hands on her shoulders, frowning. "You look a little tired."
Rozalin managed to extract herself and took a step back, somewhat embarrassed. "I-It is all right, I…am fine. How are you?"
"Me? I'm wonderful!" Mom laughed with glee, rubbing her hands together. "No more third eye! No more tail!"
"I don't have a face in my chest!" exclaimed Adell's father.
"Yes, your father—well not your father but their father—is handsome again!"
"In a nerdy kind of way I guess," Hanako put in.
Rozalin noticed the youngest member of Adell's family didn't seem very happy. "Hanako, what's wrong? Why aren't you smiling?"
She pouted. "Well, I'm not a demon anymore! It really sucks, because what if I can't be a Demon Lord like Etna now?"
Etna must have overheard, because she came over with a cupcake in each hand. "Don't worry Hanako, there's ways for someone to become a demon that doesn't involve a curse you know."
"Really? Do you know how?" Hanako's eyes glinted eagerly.
Adell's jaw dropped. "Wait, wait, wait! After how hard we worked to change Veldime back to normal, you want to be a demon again?"
She faced him with her hands on her hips. "Adell, Tardo and I were born demons so being human just feels really weird…doesn't it, Tardo?"
"I kinda have to agree," he admitted, toying with the cow-print tabard he had on over his clothes.
"On the bright side, Zenon's not consuming our memories and stuff now! And if I become a demon a different way I won't have to worry about becoming a mindless monster or whatever," Hanako added.
Rozalin smiled in spite of herself. "Well I suppose so…"
"See? Rozy agrees with me!" With that, she went off trailing after Etna who was meandering back to the buffet table.
Taro started conversing with his parents so Rozalin took this opportunity to look around. Several of their allies that Hanako had summoned were still waiting for her to find a way to send them back, this included people like Pram and Pleinair who were mingling with the rest of the crowds. The girl Marona seemed to be greatly enjoying playing with the other kids of the village who didn't seem to care she was best friends with a Phantom and could summon the dead. The aforementioned Phantom, Ash, was keeping a close eye on her all the while. There were others like Almaz and Sapphire, Overlord Laharl who was loudly chatting it up with Flonne, Asagi who was sitting moodily on the roof, and all of their mercenary buddies who had been with them since the beginning. She halfway expected Axel to show up and spontaneously start playing his guitar.
"You're really quiet, Rozalin. Is something wrong?"
She started guiltily and turned to see Adell watching her. His striking blue eyes caught her gaze and held it. "Nothing is wrong…I am just surveying the others, that is all."
He came to stand beside her, arms crossed. "Well, the curse is broken," he said after a moment to fill the silence between them. "Tink even turned back to his normal self."
She clasped her hands in front of her. "Yes, he did. I am very glad Fubuki consented to return him to his former state, it was most strange to see him as a frog."
Adell chuckled. "I didn't expect him to look like that." He pointed Tink out to her, who was speaking to Friday the Dimensional Gatekeeper. The blonde demon didn't seem to be having much luck when it came to charming the Archer, she merely waved him off.
Rozalin stretched her wings out absently. "Adell, may I speak to you somewhere in private?"
He seemed a bit startled. "Uh, sure. There's no one in the house right now, let's go in there."
She followed him to the "dog house" where Adell lived with his family. Though once she had turned her nose up at the notion of living in such a place, she had to admit it was actually pretty nice, as far as peasant houses went. They ended up in the living room, and he faced her with a perplexed expression. "So, let me guess. Something is wrong?"
"Not wrong, but…Adell…" Well damn. She was having trouble just getting the sentences out! "Do…you recall what happened after we defeated my father, that is, the false Overlord Zenon?"
His tone turned wry. "How could I not? We defeated Zenon, well the fake one but you get the point, I kissed you, and you got angry and shot at me." He tapped his shoulder, where she knew one of her bullets had clipped him.
"Yes, about that—"
"It's fine, the fact that you reacted like that meant you had returned to your normal self. That's just your style."
"No not that. Adell, why did you kiss me?"
"Oh…" He rubbed the back of his head and she swore his cheeks had the faintest touching of red to them. "You kept saying you were alone, and a 'being of solitude'."
"That's not an explanation," she huffed. "I have no intention of leaving you alone until you tell me why."
Adell made a face. "Okay, okay…"He took a deep breath. "Rozalin, I—"
Suddenly, there was a thumping sound as someone fell to the ground.
"Damn it, Tardo! Look what you did!"
"I couldn't help it!"
They both whirled toward the doorway and saw Taro and Hanako, having had fallen out of their hiding place behind an armchair, sprawled on the wood floor. They scrambled to their feet hurriedly.
"Taro? Hanako? What are you two doing?" Adell demanded.
"Yes, how long have you been there?" Rozalin added.
"We saw you go in and we went in right after," Hanako replied. She rounded on Taro. "Adell so loves her! You owe me five hundred HL!"
"Nuh uh, he didn't say it, and we don't know if Princess loves him too!"
Rozalin and Adell wore identical faces of bewilderment.
"There is a bet going on regarding Adell and I?" Rozalin spluttered.
"Well yeah! Everyone's in on it, like Mom and Dad, Yukimaru and Etna—" Hanako began.
"And Flonne and Raspberyl and Sapphire and Marona—"
"And Axel and Priere and Pram and all the mercenaries—"
"Even the lady who runs the Hospital!" Taro finished.
"What the…?" Adell seemed at a loss for words. "Even the shopkeepers?"
"This is quite insulting! Me? With him? Out of the question!"
Adell just continued to shake his head in disbelief.
"So c'mon guys, do you love each other?" Hanako smiled so deviously you would have sworn she had fangs still. "I've got a lot of money riding on this bet!"
"Wait, what if I say yes? Just how much money are we talking about here?" Adell seemed more disturbed by the concept of there being a betting pool rather than the outlandish concept of her, Rozalin, loving him, a human.
"I think it's in the millions," his little sister answered thoughtfully.
"Millions?" Adell and Rozalin echoed one another.
"Low millions though," Taro sounded disappointed.
"That's only because Laharl and Mao are being so cheap," Hanako seethed. "They're Overlords! They have more money than just a couple hundred thousand!"
"Even Mao and Laharl are in on this?" Adell applied his palm to his face and dragged it down slowly.
Rozalin was simultaneously irritated and embarrassed about what was going on. "Who was it that began this whole ridiculous thing?"
"Oh, Tink started this, Princess," Taro told her.
She clenched her fists. "How dare he…?"
"C'mon Rozalin, how about we pay our friend a visit?" Adell suggested.
Normally the thought of violence made her unhappy—fighting was sad, after all—but she pushed that to the back of her mind. As the daughter of Overlord…As a respectable demon, she had to do the properly demonic thing and pay her childhood companion back for his treachery, that is, the detestable creation of a betting pool regarding whether or not she ended up with the likes of Adell.
"Yes, let's," she said.
Morning dawned on Holt Village at its usual hour, the bright and cheery golden rays streaking across the horizon before vanishing from sight. Clouds scudded along aimlessly, their bellies tickled pink by the dawn.
Rozalin had seen it all unfold ever since the first tinge of orange had appeared amongst the stars. That was because, after yet another gruesome nightmare regarding her past life, she had been up ever since.
At long last she grew tired of idling in her room and after getting dressed, went out to see if Hanako was awake. Maybe the little girl could teach her how to cook, which was something she had read all about in her text books but had never really tried. She was surprised to see Taro in the small kitchen instead, staring dumbstruck at a crumpled note in his hand.
"Taro? What is it, what are you looking at?"
Wordlessly, he handed her the piece of paper. She recognized the handwriting on it, and she read aloud, "'Dear Tardo, I've gone with Etna to learn how to be a beautiful and sexy Demon Lord, just like her! Don't let Mom and Dad worry too much, and I'll write home often, I promise! P.S. I haven't forgotten about our bet either! Adell will end up with Rozy for sure! Love, Hanako'. Hanako has gone to train with Etna?" She blinked in shock. She had expected it, sure, just not so soon.
"Mom and Dad are going to be mad," Taro snickered, but he also looked a little sad.
She knelt down beside him. "Are you going to miss her, Taro?"
He looked at her gloomily. She realized for the first time that she was seeing the eye color of his birth, not the red eyes that all demons had. They were a shade of blue so dark they were almost black. "…Yeah I am, Princess. Do you think she'll be all right?"
Rozalin ruffled his gray hair. "Of course she will," she soothed. "She's Hanako, is she not? Etna will look after her. But I wonder, what about all of the people she summoned? How will they get home?"
"Oh, don't worry about that, Princess. When you and Adell went to beat up Tink, Mom told her how to send them all home."
"So they left before we could say good bye?" She was a bit disappointed in regards to that. She had enjoyed all of their company, even Pram's.
"Some of them said they had to go home right away, like Marona and Ash, they had to go fight something named Sulphur."
"Oh, well. I am certain we will see them again someday. That aside, why are you up so early, Taro?"
He rocked on the balls of his feet. "I was already awake. Can I ask you a question, Princess?"
"But of course."
"…I'm not a demon, but can I still be your servant?"
Rozalin smiled. "If that is what you wish, who am I to deny you?"
"I kinda want to be a demon again, though. I was born a demon so being human is really strange." He frowned and she kissed his forehead before standing up.
"Perhaps you will end up a demon again then," she said simply.
Taro seemed to be so flabbergasted about receiving a kiss (even just a little one on his head) that he appeared to be in danger of falling over. He performed a pleased little hop to straighten himself. "I feel a lot better, Princess. Maybe you can cheer Adell up too."
She froze. "Adell? What is wrong with Adell?"
"I woke up because I heard him get up a little while ago," explained the young boy. "Last night when you were talking with Yukimaru before she left, Mom went to go talk to Adell, and after that—"
"He went to bed earlier than usual last night," she recalled. "Do you know what your mother said to him?"
Taro shook his head. He then pointed outside. "He went to sit on the stone wall near that abandoned house if you're looking for him."
"Thank you, I think I'll go pay your brother a visit." Rozalin straightened her dress and headed for the door.
"Okay, Princess. I'll go wake up Mom and Dad and tell them about Hanako's note…" He heaved a sigh, apparently finding the task to be pretty daunting.
She pushed the door open and closed it softly behind her. It was summer, so it was still pretty warm out even though it was early morning. A gentle breeze stirred the grass stalks and made the trees rustle. The glowing white light that served as the dimensional portal was, for once, devoid of Friday's presence. The Dimensional Gatekeeper was probably exhausted after all the partying that had been going on in Holt Village into the late hours of the night.
It didn't take long to spot a familiar clump of spiky red hair perched on the old, low, gray and brown stone wall that was behind their house. Wait a second, their house? Did she consider this dog house her home? She wasn't quite certain how to answer that. Whatever the case, she crossed over to him as quietly as she could and only spoke as she neared.
Every muscle in his body tensed like a lion about to spring. However he must have recognized her voice because he soon relaxed. "Oh, Rozalin. Good morning."
She made certain that she had found a clean spot before sitting beside him. She didn't say anything, not only because she had no idea what words could cross the metaphorical gap between them, but because he suddenly felt very far away from her. He was staring down at his hands and she noted that he, for once, had his black gloves off. He had scars even there.
"So. Did Taro tell you I was out here?"
"Yes, he said your mother came to talk to you last night…" She waited to see if he would fill in the blank.
"Yeah, she did…" Adell closed his eyes and curled his fingers in on themselves. She saw his nails digging into his palms. "Rozalin, do you remember the Masked Man and the Masked Woman?"
"Yes, my father's servants." Not her father, but now wasn't the time to pursue it. That was pain she would keep locked up for now.
He swallowed hard. "Rozalin, their names were Shura and Selion…and they were my parents."
She gasped, her hand flying to her mouth. "You cannot be serious! How can you be certain?"
"Mom came in and told me now that she had her memories back…She remembered my parents, too. They had been demons from another Netherworld that had come to Veldime to escape war. The people of Holt Village accepted them anyway, and…and they masqueraded as humans for awhile. I'm guessing they had me when they were acting human and that's why I look…"
She was burning with questions but kept her mouth shut.
"When Zenon came, they tried to fight him, but…Mom thinks they were captured and stripped of their will somehow."
"I killed my own parents. Without even knowing." He closed his eyes again.
Rozalin couldn't even imagine the pain he had gone through. Whereas it was true, she had killed her own "father" but…his case had been entirely, entirely different from her own. She tentatively put her hand out and laid it on his arm. She saw the muscles standing out like cords beneath his skin, proof of how on edge he was. "I am so sorry, Adell."
"That's why Zenon's curse didn't affect me. I was already a demon."
"I do not understand…You don't look anything like a demon!" She studied his facial features. "No red eyes, no pointed ears, no claws, and no fangs."
"I don't get it either," he admitted. "But Mom's telling the truth, I know it."
She bit her lip and looked away. "Adell, this is not your fault. You cannot beat yourself up over this! They asked for death, after all, as atonement for their sins."
"I guess so…" He smiled just a tiny bit. "Maybe they're Prinnies somewhere in some other Netherworld and they'll get to reincarnate."
"Reincarnation is…always an alternative." She could feel his gaze on her.
"Rozalin, do you remember what happened after we fought your father? Before the kiss, I mean."
The dark flame within her chest? How could she forget? "I lost myself, to my previous incarnation."
"Yeah…I can't believe it. Everything used to seem so straightforward, and then it ended up twisted at the end." They both blew simultaneous sighs.
"Now both of our titles are so strange," she said. "'Overlord Incarnate' and 'Ex-Demon Hunter'."
"That's just our style. We'll be the only ones with titles like this in the entire world."
She smiled to herself and turned her ring around on her finger. "Adell, now that we are finally alone—unless Tink or Axel should deign to fall out of that tree—when do you plan on answering my question?"
"Uh, what question was that again?" deadpanned the former Demon Hunter.
"Though you are very talented at it, do not play dumb with me. You know very well what question I mean."
Adell laughed lightly. "Why did I kiss you…?" He repeated softly.
Rozalin noticed he was starting to blush again. "I have no desire to sit here all morning," she pressed.
"I know, I know." He took a deep breath like he was going to speak, but just ended up shaking his head. "It's impossible to describe it though."
He turned to her, and the he pointed at the two very noticeable scars on his face. "I got these after this stupid deal I made with some Succubi, remember?"
"Yes, I recall that being mentioned back at the Coliseum," she replied patiently.
"It's why I don't like girls or demons much. But for some reason, you're a girl, and a demon, and I…like you."
Rozalin raised her eyebrows incredulously. "A-Adell! Are you saying—"
"Rozalin, I kissed you because I love you, and I wanted to remind you…you are not alone."
Her heart sprang forward and nearly knocked itself unconscious against her ribcage. It then proceeded to excitedly bang against the wall over and over as if trying to escape into his hands. For demons, declarations of love were incredibly rare, and to have one being given to her by this…this…
"So…yeah." Adell cleared his throat and faced the other way. She could see how nervous he was. "That's all. I guess it's just my style to fall in love with someone who views me as being on the bottom of the social ladder."
Rozalin felt conflicted. Did she love Adell? He was always gallant, so honorable, like a knight in shining armor, a roaring flame that protected her from harm—even if the harm was caused by herself. But as she had just seen, her fire was capable of going out…Grief over what he had unknowingly done to his parents had almost doused him. She had managed to stoke Adell back up at least a little bit and now she knew her guardian blaze would soon return to his former glory.
Lame, cliché, cheesy fire puns aside…Did she love him?
Could demons love? Should demons love? Her text books had never prepared her for something like this.
She couldn't locate her voice, so she took his hand in hers and pushed her fingers through his. Hers were slimmer and totally free of calluses whilst his was covered in them.
"I suppose I was never a princess to begin with," she managed to get out. Once she started talking she couldn't stop. "I am probably from Yukimaru's clan, since she says she recognized my eyes, but…Either way I cannot be that much higher on the 'social ladder' than you. I suppose it is acceptable if we were to get together."
She didn't have to look at him to see his grin; she could envision it just fine by hearing his words. "I guess that's the best acceptance I'll get from you."
Rozalin was about to respond with something witty yet biting when he cupped the side of her face with his free hand, lifted her head and kissed her. She had no idea how he could be so brazen with things such as this, and she had half a mind to pull out her Noble Rose and shoot him an extra nostril, but decided against it because…it actually felt…pretty…nice.
She found himself leaning against him and he pulled her close, wrapping her in a warm embrace. It was a blissful moment that only lasted a few seconds because then—
"Hanako did what?" screeched Adell's mother from inside the house.
They jumped apart, startled, and wow did she have a pair of lungs on her! They could hear her so clearly it was like she was right beside them.
"…You do know Hanako left with Etna, do you not?" Rozalin commented.
"Yeah I figured as much…"
The pair stared at one another for a good couple of heartbeats. Then, Adell stood up and performed a little bow that made her giggle at his foolishness.
He offered her his arm, tugging his gloves back on after pulling them from his pockets. "Shall we go investigate the state of the house, Miss Rozalin?"
She tried to scowl but ended up smiling instead at his tone. "Yes, let's." She reached up and took his hand.
It fit perfectly.
Author's Note: Well here we have it, an AdellxRozalin that is probably God awful. Next is probably either an AlmazxSapphire or else a LaharlxFlonne. Yeah. Tell me what you think, drop a review! They're absolutely free! XD