Before we get to this final chapter (omg), here it is, the playlist you've all been (probably not) waiting for:

(You can just skip past this part if you're hella lame and don't find music as fascinating as I do.)

My additions (in no particular order):

-Demons by Imagine Dragons
-Cough Syrup by Young the Giant
-What If I Told You by Jason Walker
-Lover of the Light by Mumford and Sons
-Youth by Daughter
-Only the Young by Brandon Flowers
-Thought I Had Died by The War
-Sleeping Sickness by City and Colour
-Better Than I Know Myself by Adam Lambert
-Run by Snow Patrol
-Fallen by Vib Gyor
-Ghosts That We Knew by Mumford and Sons

Reader additions (again, in no particular order):

-Cactus In the Valley by Lights
-Slowly Freaking Out by Skylar Grey
-Counting Stars by OneRepublic
-Hearts Without Chains by Ellie Goulding
-Dazed And Confused by IKO
-Canvas by Imogen Heap
-I'll Be Alright by Passion Pit
-Call Them Brothers by Regina Spektor
-Decode by Paramore
-Runaway by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
-Mad World by Gary Jules
-Soldier, Drink Me, Consider This, Breathe (2 A.M.), Catalyst, all by Anna Nalick
-It's Time by Imagine Dragons
-Missing by The XX
-Over My Head by The Fray
-Look After You by The Fray
-The Ghost of You by My Chemical RomanceS
-Fatigue by Kajira Yuki

Thanks to anyone who shared song ideas, and if you were late to the party and want to add songs, let me know and I'll either create a supplement for it on my profile or just edit it in.

Without further ado, please enjoy Chapter 26 of My Roof, My Rules.


Link took a few slow steps across the balcony overlooking Castletown. Dusk was beginning to fall, and the city was bustling down below, the rumble of chatter taking flight and encircling Link, sending a shiver through his skin. The sky was streaked with red, the castle a silhouette against the setting sun. A flag had been risen in victory, and it flapped with pride that Link found almost unsettling.

Now he glanced over his shoulder. Nobody else was up here, it seemed. Certain of his solitude, he settled to the floor of the balcony, slipping his legs through the bars and allowing them to dangle over the edge. He pressed his forehead against the cool bars and let his eyes fall shut, body relaxing thoroughly.

The embers from Auru's funeral pyre were still burning in his mind. The ceremony had been that afternoon. Telma and Zelda had given very nice eulogies in Link's opinion, and the words hung in his mind.

"Auru made it his mission to leave the world a better place for the generation to come…" Zelda had said, and Link still couldn't shake the feeling that with Auru gone and Rusl retired, he and his friends had taken their place.

His eyelids fluttered open and he gazed over the town once more. A buzz of excitement was rattling the city dwellers down below. Zelda had promised them a celebration of some sort in honor of Link's great achievements.

Link had been quick to protest.

"Please don't," he'd begged, but Zelda had just given him a bitter smile.

"We haven't got any choice," she'd answered. "They're going to celebrate whether we endorse it or not. At least if the government gives them some guidance, we can ensure that they won't act too inappropriately."

And so he'd agreed, however bitterly, to her plan. Ashei had been blunt in labeling it as "a shit plan," but Link was and always had been firm in his decision to stand beside the princess on most matters. Which Ashei had been slightly bitter about, but that was Ashei through and through, he supposed.

"Beautiful night, yeah?"

He glanced up. Ashei was leaning in the doorway behind him, scrutinizing the darkening city. Lights were beginning to flicker on in the windows, glistening against the sky which was becoming quickly drenched in a rich shade of violet. Street lamps were casting long shadows across the square, and the air was taking on a chill that Link hadn't felt since the preceding winter.

"Yeah," he finally answered. Ashei grunted as she settled down next to him, swinging her legs over the edge of the balcony and pressing her weight against him. She was warm compared to the cooling air.

"How'd you find me?" Link asked. He never came up here. Ever. It had been awhile, he realized, since he'd last sought solitude.

"I never really lost you," Ashei answered bluntly, and cast him a sidelong glance. "What I mean to say is, I followed you."

Link allowed his gaze to roam over her, the westward sun crowning the frayed edges of her hair as they fluttered slightly in the wind. She looked so simple yet so glorious, and he felt his stomach flip in a way that he was still getting used to. It was a good thing, and he smiled to himself, turning back towards the city.

"Tell me," he finally mused, "do you ever feel a strange sadness as dusk falls?"

Ashei paused. "What the-"

"I don't know what it means, either," Link cut in. "Rusl said it once."

Ashei pondered this for a moment. "Sounds like Rusl," she decided, and flopped onto her back. Link followed her example, snaking an arm around her shoulder and pulling her in.

"I've decided something," he told her.

"And that is?"

"I've decided that being a human… it's damn rough, Ashei. Damn rough."

"You've just decided that now?"

"Yeah."

"All right, then," she said, and leaned into him. "Are we allowed to be up here?" she asked.

"I don't care," Link answered.

"Good. Hey, you know what?"

"What?"

"It's worth it."

"What is?"

"Being a human," she answered. For a moment, they both were silent, letting the movement down below vibrate in the air around them. Then, Link spoke.

"You're right, of course," he said.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

Ashei held him tighter after that, remaining wordless. Locked arms and calm, deep breaths could do the talking.

"Don't fall down."

"Don't let go and I won't."

"Can you reach it?"

"Nearly."

Ilia's slender white arm shook as she extended it upwards towards the top shelf. She was on a ladder, balancing deftly on her toes, and Shad, several rungs beneath her, had his hands wrapped firmly around her waist.

"Almost there- aha!" she cried as her fingers closed around a dense leather book, and a grin crossed her face. "Told you I could reach."

They descended the ladder steadily, Ilia balancing the elusive volume in her arms as they crossed the cavernous castle library. They found an elaborate velvet couch near the fireplace and Shad settled into it, Ilia flopping next to him and tucking her feet off to the side. She allowed the book to fall open across their laps, and she read the title aloud.

"Medicine as a Private Practice," she recited, and flipped to the first page. "Introduction: The Country Doctor… The country doctor is a crucial figure in any small town as he can provide educated care for a group of people that might otherwise treat themselves either inefficiently or incorrectly. Shad, this is just what Ordon needs, but-" she caught his eye. "Are you sure that this is what you want? To leave the city behind? I know you love it here."

"I'm positive," Shad answered. This was probably the hundredth time Ilia had asked him the same question.

"Well," she breathed. "Well, then. Okay. I know. I know you're positive. I just- I just can't believe it, that's all," she said, and settled back with a bashful smile. "Say, Shad?"

"Mhm?" he answered, already buried in the book.

"What are we gonna name our kids?"

"What?!" he cried suddenly, and Ilia giggled at how quickly she'd retrieved him from his pursuit of knowledge. "I- don't ask me- Shad Junior and Ilia Junior," he stuttered.

"But that's only two of them," Ilia pressed. "What about the others?"

"The others?!" Shad nearly screeched.

"Yeah. We're gonna have a dozen, right?"

"A dozen?!"

"And a half.

"What- how can you have half a child?!"

She didn't answer for a second. "I'm still working that one out."

"Yes- all right- whatever you say, dear," Shad resigned with an exasperated smile.

"How about Telma Junior?" Ilia now asked. "And another can be named Auru Junior. And Rusl Junior."

"Sounds wonderful," Shad said, "but what about Link and Ashei?"

Ilia bit her lip. "Well…" she began, and then a hush fell over her. Shad peered at her out of the corner of his eye.

"Oh, wow," he said. "Are you and Link fighting?"

"Not really," she answered. "But- but never mind- it's not really… I mean… it's just that, Shad, I don't know what to do. I want to talk to him. I do. But… I don't."

Shad shut his book absentmindedly. "Why not?" he asked with sincerity.

"It's terrible of me, but… I don't trust him," Ilia said. Her face fell into her palms. "Oh, my. I'm awful."

"You're not," Shad protested automatically. "Just- just tell him how you feel. Link will listen to you. He holds you in high regard."

"...I know that."

"Ilia," Shad said, and caught her eye. "If you don't reconcile with him while there's still time, then you might never have the chance to again. Pretty soon we're going to go our separate ways, and when that happens, I don't want you regretting anything."

Ilia bit her lip. "Okay," she finally said. "I- I'll talk to him."

"That's the spirit," Shad said with a smile.

"You're always right, Shad," Ilia sighed.

"You sound so glum."

"I feel like I pale in comparison."

"The feeling's mutual," Shad replied.

"Okay. Good. That's how it's supposed to be, isn't it?"

"I think so," Shad answered. "Now, where were we?"

Quietly, they returned to their book, the crackling and popping of firewood the only sound that split the air.

"Go-time is in a few minutes…"

The frantic whisper met Link's ears for the hundredth time that next afternoon. A servant combed his hair from his eyes, adjusting the green tunic that had been hastily patched up the day before. In the shadows of the arcade, the white sunlight and festivities outside seemed distant and muffled, but in reality, they weren't so far off. Only a few hundred feet below the viewing platform, hundreds of people had accumulated in the main square. Streamers and confetti sailed through the air, gleaming in the white blaze of sunlight. Voices drifted upwards like plumes of smoke, filling the air around Link in a lazy, dense sort of way. He did not feel tired, and yet he did not feel totally alert; here, protected by the shadows, he felt very much at a midpoint between the world and somewhere else entirely.

"Two minutes," another whisper sounded, and he was pulled back into the present moment. A maid was adjusting his collar and muttering in his ear.

"Smile- wave-"

"I don't want to smile," he said. He didn't know why he was protesting.

"Smile anyway," was the reply. "Force it if you have to."

"Okay." His voice felt dull.

"One minute! One minute!" a shrill whisper shrieked, and Link glanced around the arcade one last time. The servants were pulling away from him now, and out on the balcony, Zelda was tying up some speech.

"...And that is why we owe our liberties- our freedoms- our abilities to live our lives and practice our beliefs as we choose… all to him, our valiant one… please extend a warm welcome-"

"-Go, go, it's time!" a final servant screeched, and Link was pedaled out of the safety of the arcade and into the blinding light of day.

The world exploded beneath him, the crowd roaring and going wild. His head spun and he squinted against the harsh white light, adjusting to it far too slowly. Zelda's hand was guiding him towards the edge of the balcony, and as the world came into focus, he noticed that it was spinning.

I don't want this, he thought, and then forced a grin.

It felt incredibly false, and the only words running through his mind were you don't understand and Auru is dead and none of this is real to you. He made sure all of his teeth were showing with that grin, squinting his eyes as the crowd raced towards the balcony in waves, extending their arms toward it greedily. They were a blur of colors as they scrambled around and between and overtop of one another, all craving a glimpse of the hero that had saved them not once, but twice.

The grin still spread painfully across his face, Link opened his arms as if to embrace the entire city. They roared with feverish enthusiasm, a giant haze of mad, confused human beings that didn't understand a thing about who Link was or what he had done.

Don't you realize how ignorant you are? he thought, and smiled harder.

Then he was ushered back into the shadows, and the crowd never stopped cheering, drunk with confused happiness. He wandered down to the streets, a few servants lingering after him, and found a cool crevice that was nearly concealed from the city. The celebration raged on Castletown, and he settled against a wall, his palms sweaty and drawn into tight fists.

"Link!"

He glanced up, and relief washed through him immediately. Ashei had materialized from the crowd, and he raced towards her, falling into her and locking his arms around her. He gripped the fabric of her shirt and breathed her in, the world falling perfectly back into place as they backed even farther into the shadows.

"You'll have to come out sooner or later, yeah?" she murmured into his shoulder.

"Not right now."

"No. Not now."

They hobbled behind a wall of crates and Link kissed her hard, not really knowing, not really caring where he was or what was going on. Her arms wound tighter around him and his stomach swooped and then soared.

"Let's go," he breathed, breaking away. "Let's go now."

"Where?"

"I don't know. On an adventure. You wanted an adventure, you said so- let's go now."

Ashei's eyes wandered over his face, brighter than ever. "What about everyone else?"

"I don't care about anyone else," he said. "There's only you."

She had gone quiet. "After all this time, you've decided you want to leave everything else behind?"

He drank in the sight of her- slack posture, shoulders back, slight smirk lit from one side, all of her proud, all of her concrete against the backdrop of a reality that seemed to always be slipping away…

"Yes," he answered, and he'd never been more positive of anything in all of his life.

"Then let's go."

They found their way around the outskirts of town, hiding their faces behind layers of tapestries and festival decorations. The crowd was so drunk in their excitement that they never took notice of the hero as he slipped quietly away onto the southern thoroughfare. They maneuvered their way to Telma's Bar, breaking away from the city and breathing in the familiar scent of a building that had become their only home.

The door slammed shut behind them and they were met with a gust of warmth, eyes roaming the bar. It was nearly empty, but it looked very much the same as always- threadbare carpets, heftily-stocked shelves, and a few well-lit lamps swinging overhead. Link smiled without realizing it, his entire stature relaxing as he took a few more steps into the building he'd come to love so much.

"Welcome home, honey."

Telma was standing behind the counter, wiping it down with a dishrag. She gave a wink and came to a halt with her scrubbing. Her face fell. "Oh," was all she said, and she understood at once what was going on.

"What? What is it?" Shad asked jubilantly. Link glanced over in surprise. Shad and Ilia were seated at a game of chess, and Shad at this point had nearly nabbed all of Ilia's pieces, as she clearly had never played before.

"I'm leaving," Link said before he could stop, and now Shad's smile collapsed.

"Oh. Okay. I thought so."

Link faced Ilia, but as soon as her eyes met his, she ripped them away. She was clearly troubled by something.

"Do you want to get your things together?" Telma now asked.

"What? Oh- oh, yeah," Link said, snapping back to reality. "Hold on- it'll only be a second, I promise." He loped across the bar, dashing up the stairs two at a time.

"He just can't wait to leave, can he?" Shad remarked, and returned to his game of chess.

"There's something you all should know," Ashei announced. "I'm going with him."

Now three sets of eyes widened.

"Oh, honey," Telma said softly, "come here."

Ashei wandered over to the bar and hopped up on top of a stool. Telma leaned in close.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" the older woman asked, gazing at the staircase where Link had disappeared.

"That Link's headed straight for another one of his highs?" Ashei answered, and Telma nodded slowly.

"You're going to be able to take care of him, though, right?" Telma continued, her dark eyes meeting Ashei's, and Ashei frowned.

"He doesn't need taking care of. He's his own person, yeah? He doesn't want a nanny."

"Ashei," Telma muttered condescendingly.

"Telma-"

"No resources- no medicine- no doctors-"

"He'll be fine- we'll be fine," Ashei promised. "Telma, listen to me. Nobody knows him like I do. No doctor knows him like I do."

"I know, honey... I trust you."

A smile crawled across Ashei's face. "Thank you, Telma," she finally said.

"For what?"

"For everything."

Upstairs, Link was throwing anything and everything he could find into a satchel. Underclothes. Tools. Soap. His wallet. He checked for matches- he was doing well. Checked for money- ...all right, not as well, but well enough. Money was just an idea anyway, right? Right.

He reached towards the dressed and let his hand close around a comb, but as he did so, he froze.

The man in the mirror was hardly recognizable.

He drifted towards it. His reflection was dim, but he could still see the outline of a face that looked so much unlike the one he remembered. Every last line, bag, and crevice in his skin seemed so much more defined than it had been months ago. His skin seemed tighter against his skull, his jaw more defined, and his eyes looked so much paler in the middle and redder on the edges. If there had ever been baby-fat clinging there, it was gone. If he had ever been handsome, then he didn't look it anymore. There were traces of the boy that he remembered in that face, but more than anything he saw a new man staring back. It was eerie, and yet it felt right. So right.

"Hi, Link."

His head snapped up. Ilia was standing in the doorframe, and when she spoke, her voice trembled.

"Ilia?"

"Yes. Can I come in?" she asked nervously.

"Of- of course," Link answered, wondering why Ilia even thought she had to ask. She entered slowly, glancing back and forth. She knew this room, so why was she acting like she'd never seen it before?

"I'm going to miss you… Link."

His name seemed foreign coming off of her tongue.

"I'll miss you, too," Link replied. And he would, he truly would- he stared at her, realizing with a pang that he wouldn't be looking at her again for a long time. She really was extraordinarily beautiful, and she was the perfect manifestation of everything innocent he had once adored about Ordon. But innocence had transformed into ignorance in his eyes, and now there was something about naiveté that he found irksome.

And yet in spite of everything, Ilia had remained pure to him.

"I- I'm sorry."

"Stop stuttering," Link commanded. He couldn't help himself.

Ilia was fighting back tears. "Sorry," she repeated. "Really, I am- I'm just frustrated."

"Frustrated?"

"Why did you act the way that you did on that balcony?" she asked, changing the subject suddenly. Link took a second to realize what she was referring to.

"You mean at the celebration? In front of the crowd?"

"Yes."

"I was acting," he answered blatantly. "Wouldn't you have done the same thing?"

But she was quiet. "It didn't look like acting," she finally admitted, and her head fell in shame.

Link felt defensive all of a sudden. "Well it was," he said, "and I dare you to think for a second that I actually wanted any of that."

"I know you didn't."

"That's right."

"I'm sorry!" she exclaimed once more.

"What for?!"

"For- for myself- for being the way that I am- for not being able to understand you-"

"-What?!" Link interrupted. "Sorry, say that again."

"I said I can't understand you," Ilia answered hotly. "I've been trying for months to figure out who you are, Link. All I wanted was to understand what kind of person you'd become, I wanted to understand what motivated you to feel and how you felt, wanted to know how you worked so that I could be what you needed me to be-"

"-But you were-"

"-But I wasn't," Ilia countered, and her hands flew up to her face, fingers wiping the tears out of her eyes frantically. "After all this time, Link, you're still an enigma to me. And that's why I'm upset- because I realized I won't just miss you because you're leaving- I'll miss you because I'll know in my heart that you- the you I understood- left months ago, and I never got to say goodbye."

She was crying, now, and Link just stared at her in shock.

"You know," he finally said admiringly, "you've always worn your heart on your sleeve, Ilia. Come here."

He opened his arms and they fell together like magnets. He placed a long kiss on her forehead.

"I don't want to lose you, Link," she said tearily.

"Just because I'm leaving- because I've left- doesn't mean you've lost me."

"Is that what she told you? Midna?"

Link took a step back, stunned that Ilia had even thought to mention that. "No," he answered slowly. "No, Midna didn't tell me anything. She never told me who she was or how she felt, and that's why it hurt so much when she left." A curious expression crossed his face. "I don't want to hurt you, Ilia," he remarked, "and that's why I'm telling you now- I'm your friend- I'll always be your friend- and I love you, Ilia, with everything that I've got. I always have. And now you know."

Ilia gaped at him blearily for a long moment, and then she buried her face in his chest.

"Take care of Epona," she said, which was so spontaneous and yet so characteristic of her that Link couldn't help but smile.

"Of course I will."

"For me."

"For you."

When they returned to the bar, Ashei had gathered her belongings and was saying farewell to Shad.

"Take care of yourself, dumbass," she remarked, and patted him so heavily on the shoulder that his knees buckled.

"Yeah, yeah," Shad answered. "Move along, you big bully." He was grinning from ear to ear as he said it. He leaned in suddenly for a hug, but Ashei backed out at the last minute and Shad nearly fell flat on his face. Ashei erupted into a fit of laughter and then hoisted him to his feet, throwing her arms around his skinny shoulders for a brief moment before letting go once and for all.

"Moron," she mumbled, and turned to Ilia. "Look after that ginger of yours, yeah?"

"I will," Ilia answered sweetly, and giggled as she gravitated towards Shad.

Link returned to Ashei's side and their eyes locked together.

"Ready?" Ashei asked.

"Ready," Link answered.

One last time, they let their eyes roam over their friends. They stared at Shad and Ilia for what felt like an eternity, and Shad and Ilia stared back for what felt like longer. And then Link smiled.

"This isn't it, you know," he promised. "We'll be back. But not now. I need to get out for awhile; Hyrule needs a break from me. And maybe… you know, someday… we'll come back."

And then they turned and left, just like that. When the door slammed shut behind them, everything fell impossibly quiet.

"Wow," Ilia said, and sat down gingerly, as if that one tiny action might cause her entire world to shatter. Shad sat next to her, and they continued playing chess, though their minds were elsewhere. The silence ensued for a very long several minutes, Telma still wiping down the counter and humming something to herself.

The door burst open suddenly and there was Mildred, tiny Mildred, shaking visibly.

"WHERE IS HE?!" she cried frantically.

"Link?!" Telma answered. "He- he just left-"

"He is leaving?!" Mildred pressed, panicking.

"Well, yes-"

"I NEVER GOT TO SAY GOODBYE!" Mildred exclaimed, and curled up in a ball right there in the doorway.

"Oh- well, he, um- he's leaving out of the western gate, maybe you can catch up with him-" Ilia offered from across the room, and just like that, Mildred scrambled to her feet and bolted away. She left the door ajar behind her, short, stumpy legs flying as she clambered up onto the Southern thoroughfare.

"EXCUSE ME, PARDON ME!" she screeched, and the people she passed screamed and cringed when they saw the three-foot tall "monster" barreling down the street. She found a shortcut that she knew rather well, lungs working overtime as she sprinted faster, faster…

The western gate came into view and she launched herself through it, scampering through the tunnel at the end and coming out upon the vast field at the other end- her breath hitched in her throat-

"MASTER LINK!" she cried, for there he was, saddling up his horse. Dusk was beginning to fall, and Link looked up in surprise. What he saw was a blur as Mildred threw her entire body in his direction and wound her arms around his leg.

"Mildred?"

"Do not leave me," she whimpered, and held on tighter. Link looked up at Ashei, who had stopped in the middle of tying on a saddlebag to her own horse to laugh.

"Oh, Millie," Link said, and Mildred's eyes widened.

"Millie?"

"What? Don't you like that name?"

"V-very much, Master Link," the bulblin answered, "for it is you who bestowed it upon me."

Ashei was smiling to one side, but she said nothing. Link pried Mildred from his leg and kneeled down so that they were eye-level. He placed his hand on her shoulder.

"Listen, Millie, I've got to go, now. I can't stay in Hyrule; not right now, anyway. And so I'm going to have to ask you to leave service, Mil. Go back to your… uh… people." His mouth contorted to the side. "Bulblins… people… eh, close enough."

"B-b-b-b-b-but-"

"-Mil-"

"But I love you!" Mildred cried, and threw herself forward again.

"There, there," said Link weakly, patting her on the back. "You'll be all right."

"But- will you?" the bulblin asked as Link pulled away from her and stood up.

"Hey," he said, and looked at her honestly. "I'll be just fine." He glanced at Ashei, and she nodded.

"Promise?" Mildred pressed with a sniffle.

"Promise," Link replied, and turned away. With a grunt, he mounted Epona, who had been waiting patiently. Ashei had already mounted her own horse, and now they trotted forward experimentally.

"This is the first time I've ever left home with no intention of coming back," Link remarked. Behind him, Castletown was still resonating with sound.

"They've got no idea you're leaving," Ashei realized, and the horses took a few more steps forward. The reddening horizon was austere and vast. Link's heart was pounding, and he turned to Ashei suddenly, a bit at a loss for words. For the thousandth time, he thought of how magnificent she was- how magnificent everything was, if only in this moment.

"There's a lot of good in the world," he decided finally, and then cracked one unprecedented grin, spurring Epona and causing the both of them to rocket forward. Ashei cackled with laughter and then spurred her own horse, the world churning beneath her as she raced after Link, her heart hammering and adrenaline searing her nerves.

They careened over the plain and through ponds, sloshing through crystalline water and kicking up mud in their wake. The wind rushed through their lungs, lungs which pumped violently as they forced the oxygen through their body and to their minds, igniting every part of their being with life.

The horizon drew nearer and the heavens arching overhead were on fire, the setting sun blistering the sky with scarlet streaks. The horses' hooves never stopped thundering against the earth, and when Ashei looked at Link and saw the way his grinning face shone scarlet in the twilit blaze, her breath hitched in her throat.

"WHY ARE YOU SMILING?!" she shouted over the roar of the hooves.

"I DON'T KNOW!" Link answered, and just like that he broke away, towering taller and seeming so much more brilliant to Ashei than he would ever come to realize.

...

The End


Woowwwww okay, I did it, here it is. To those of you who have been reading this from the beginning, holy crap. To those of you who read this all in one go, holy crap. For those of you in between, holy crap.

Holy crap, you guys.

Sorry. It may seem like I'm overwhelmed, but I'm actually just sitting in my room in my bathrobe staring at my computer screen really impassively.

There was originally an epilogue at the end that I edited out. I don't want to tell you guys what happens to these characters after that final scene. I've tainted them enough. They're in your hands, now.

What else. Um. Thank you. Thank all of you. Except for that guy that left like ten reviews to tell me how crappy this story was without bothering to read it. I hope a bird poops on you, guy, I really do.

But to the rest of you: I wrote this story for you, you know- I wouldn't have finished it if you didn't want me to, and so I really tip my hat to you for kicking me in the pants every time I failed to update/ meet your standards/ what have you. You forced me to challenge myself with this fic, and while there were definitely times when I bit off more than I could chew- okay, so that happened a lot- I think I'm coming out of it with a strong grasp on where I want to go with my writing, and even more than that, I've got a strong grasp on where I don't want to go with my writing. I owe that to the 101 of you that faved, 114 of you that followed, and 10000000 of you (okay, maybe not that many) who read Chapter One, said, "Woah, this sucks," and sauntered on anyway.

You know who you are.

I'm sorry for this über-long author's note. I just feel like I've put you through this crazy fic and you deserve to know what I've been working on besides MRMR (hint hint: the real reason updates took so long), so there you have it.

A final thank you to every one of you, even those of you that forced yourselves to read this fic because it was just so bad you couldn't look away. Kind of like how people are compelled to stare at a car crash.

-Ctj

P.S. :)