Author's Note: This is my first Zatch Bell fan fic and my first full fan fic in a long time! Thanks God for giving me motivation and inspiration! I was only up to episode 51 when I first wrote it last week and at 65 since my last edit yesterday, so I apologize for any mistakes. However, I intentionally re-wrote this canon incident (which I have not yet seen but my boyfriend told me it wasn't as good as it could have been) into a cute idea I got. I hope you enjoy it :) Characters belong to the creators of Zatch Bell! 9/5/2012

The Mamodo Queen

Fire. Unquenchable fire. Nothing they could do now would save the book. He couldn't believe it was happening. "N-no!" he fell on all fours and tore at the grass beneath his fists, tears watering his battle-wounded arms. "Please no!" It had to be a nightmare! Maybe if he closed his eyes hard enough, things would return to normal. His wet eyes reopened but the vanishing did not cease. "NO!"Helplessness mocked him as his heart wrenched from his body. Immediately, his distraught mind rewound itself to a week before…

"NO!" Zatch sped down the sidewalk, a ridiculous look of terror on his face. "AAAAAAAAAAH KIYO!" The tiny speck of his book owner sitting on the park bench grew clearer and larger as fear drove him on. Within seconds he was clinging to Kiyo's pant leg, bawling like a toddler. "KIYO YOU GOTTA HELP ME!"

Kiyo was startled by the random appearance of his over-dramatic mamodo and pained at the sensation of his ankle being crushed. The pain mechanically channeled itself into annoyance and he flew from his seat, kicking his leg violently. "ZATCH, GET OFF ME!"

Zatch refused and maintained his grip. "But Kiyo!" he wailed, "You have to save me!"

A certain pop star, who had been forgotten in the midst of this outburst, rose from her spot on the bench and bent over the lightning-blonde mamodo, concerned. "What happened, Zatch? Are you okay?" Megumi asked.

"NO! I never will be okay again! My life is OVER!" Zatch cried, burying his face into Kiyo's slacks.

Kiyo paused to compose himself for his lady-companion's sake, and then replied as calmly as he could, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOUR LIFE IS OVER? BE SPECIFIC, PLEASE!"

"How can you be so heartless? It's too horrible to talk about!" Zatch shot back.

As Kiyo rolled his eyes he caught sight of Megumi watching him. His cheeks turned red and he jettisoned his frustration with a sigh. Sincerely calm this time, he asked Zatch, "Can you at least try?"

"Well," the little mamodo blubbered, "I said something really bad to Tia."

"Oh, and she's chasing you down to make you take it back?" Megumi guessed. She was familiar with her mamodo's violent nature.

"No, worse! She's chasing me down to make me keep my word!"

"What?" Kiyo and Megumi asked simultaneously. They were both very confused. What exactly did Zatch say to Tia…?

Finally, the reason refused to stay hidden any longer and burst from Zatch at full force. "I ASKED TIA TO BE MY QUEEN!" He resumed crying as the words brought back memory of the incident that took place only minutes earlier.

It was beneath the lush canopy of the forest that they took a break from jogging. The afternoon was beautiful; the light that found its way through blue holes of sky that perforated throngs of green leaves danced on the grassy floor. Zatch was bent over, hands to his knees, attempting to calm his heavy breathing. Tia had carefully propped her back against the trunk of an oak and sat on its protruding roots as she relaxed her body. She felt so alive as she soaked in the stunning scenery through adrenaline-powered eyes. "Earth… is an amazing place," she remarked between gasps.

"Mmhm!" Zatch panted, looking at her upside down from between his legs. "Even when… it has strange… gravity."

Tia giggled. "Zatch, I'm being serious. I-" she paused, and her companion saw a sad thought cross her face. He immediately righted himself and went over to sit down next to her.

"Is something wrong, Tia?"

"Oh, it's not important," Tia dismissed, trying to shrug off the feeling. Secretly, she wanted Zatch to keep asking, but she figured he wouldn't care to know. So why bother him?

"I'm sure it is! Everyone has something important to say," the lightning boy said sincerely.

Tia blushed. "Typical Zatch, always caring about others. I hate to admit it, but he would be a great king…" she thought. She exhaled as the wave of sadness returned, and then she spoke her heart. "You can't tell anyone this-" she waited to receive consent from Zatch. He nodded and she continued, " but I really like this world. I like it…" she chose her next words as carefully as possible, "…so much that a few times in a fight I think more about not wanting to leave instead of not wanting to lose… Megumi's the best, and I can't imagine life without her. But, ughhh," she moaned at how weak she was sounding, "that means I'll be a bad Mamodo king… well, queen."

"No, Tia, it doesn't! Don't say that!" Zatch replied seriously, grasping her arm. Her heart skipped a beat at the unexpected touch, and Tia found herself draw into his words. She stared into his face with sparkling eyes as he continued, "I can't imagine life without Kiyo either; he's my best friend. I think wanting to stay with our book owners is part of every good mamodo's motivation to win. Making friends is the only good thing about this battle. But win or lose, we all have to return to the mamodo world…" He was silent for a moment as sadness crossed his features. It left as quickly as it came and he finished strongly, "But, don't you want to leave as King so you can help our world and prevent these terrible fights from happening ever again? I know I do."

"I do too," Tia replied with confidence. But her normally tough demeanor collapsed once more. "I- I know I'm powerful… but I don't have the best attacks. I really want to help our world, but somehow I get the feeling that I'm not going to win…"

Zatch marveled at her uncharacteristic openness. "Maybe this is who she is inside…"

"But I fight it!" Tia interjected. "I believe I can shape my destiny, and I'm not going to let any stupid worry get in my way!" She stood up triumphantly, her strength fully restored physically and emotionally.

"That's it, Tia!" Zatch encouraged, jumping to his feet also. "Don't let losing be an option!" Then he added as a joke to get Tia's competitive spirit up and running, "And if you lose to me, I can make you my queen! After all, every king needs a queen." He flashed his boyish smile.

Much to his chagrin, Tia did not take his remark as a challenge, but instead gasped and blushed. Suddenly, Zatch realized the implications of what he had said and he froze with fear. His brain reeled and the world seemed to end before him. "E-every, k-king, needs…a…" he stammered, his whole body turning red.

"Wow, Zatch…" Tia said softly when her voice finally returned. "I can't believe you just promised me that…"

"P-p-promised?" His heart sunk like an elevator. On its way down to his stomach, it passed his chest, which was heaving with conflict. What were those strange feelings wrestling inside? This was crazy! A promise? Tia would never let him live down an unfulfilled promise; he was trapped! He was going to have to keep… "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" he yelled at the thought. And, with that, he took off running toward the park, faster than the speed of light.

Both Kiyo and Megumi stood frozen, momentarily dumbfounded by Zatch's confession. When they thawed out they smiled at each other with traces of color gracing their cheeks.

"Well, Zatch, I didn't know you had it-" Kiyo began to tease, but Zatch cut him off with a scream. He had spotted Tia coming over the horizon.

Clinging harder to his book owner's feet, the mamodo wailed, "PLEASE, KIYO, YOU HAVE TO HELP ME GET OUT OF THIS!"

"Oh, I don't know, it's not a bad promise," Kiyo remarked playfully.

"AAAH! Not a bad promise!?" Zatch squawked. "IT'S TERRIBLE! Do you know what having Tia as my queen would mean!?" Before either human could reply he finished in a terrified whisper, "It would mean we would have to get married!"

"Well, what's wrong with that?" Megumi joked, with an edge of defensiveness creeping into her voice. After all, it was hermamodo he was talking about, and she knew Tia secretly admired Zatch.

"WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?! I'm not as old as you guys; I'm too young to get married! I have my whole life ahead of me!"

Kiyo's face flushed deep red from a mixture of anger and embarrassment. "I'M NOT OLD ENOUGH TO GET MARRIED EITHER!" he yelled in Zatch's face.

"Susie says in some cultures you are."

Kiyo facepalmed and Megumi raised an eyebrow.

"BUT ANYWAYS!" the lightning blonde exploded, finally relinquishing possession of Kiyo's leg in exchange for the duty of wearing out the pavement with frantic pacing. "I don't want to lose my freedom… and worse – live in a pink house! We gotta think of a way to get me out of this!"

Kiyo sighed with relief and massaged his sore joint, but its liberation was short lived. Tia had caught up to her friends and in a flash Zatch had latched onto his partner's ankle, this time from behind. Now Kiyo was caught in a bent-over position with his hand being squashed along with his ankle. "ZAAATCH!"

"Hey guys," Tia said casually. She was surprisingly calm for a girl who was said to be on the difficult mission of making a male keep his word. Her cheeks were pink as she gave Zatch a little smile. "I heard Zatch tell you the news," she told the humans dreamily. Before they could remark, she addressed Zatch, "Sooo, Sweetie, I was thinking the color scheme at our wedding could be pink…"

"S-sweetie? Wedding!? PINK!?" Zatch fainted as soon as the last word left him. Kiyo was grateful to be free from his iron grip and jumped a few feet away so his mamodo wouldn't be able to resume his position when he regained consciousness.

Tia looked up at her human friends and winked as she walked over to the vulnerable mamodo sprawled on the ground. Megumi winked back.

"Ah," Kiyo realized, "She's just playing with him."

Tia bent over Zatch, pushing a lose strand of her long red hair behind one ear, and gushed, "I can't wait to start spending all your hard-earned money!"

His body remained limp and his reply was barely audible. "M-m-money?"

"Yeah, you know, the stuff people sell their time for to earn with boring jobs like organizing papers for eight hours straight so they can buy the necessities of life."

"T-Tia?" Zatch whispered weakly.

"Yes, Sweetie?" Tia inquired, bringing her face closer to his.

"I just want you to know…" he murmured, "That I would faint right now, if I wasn't already unconscious." With that, his tongue lolled out of his mouth and his head followed.

Tia, Megumi, and Kiyo burst out laughing.

Zatch barely had time to recall waking up to Tia ridiculing his gullibility as the present returned to view, rearing its hideous head. He was back on the battle field with a breaking body, and a busted heart. He looked up; the fading didn't stop. "NO!" he wailed again in deep anguish. "Tia, you can't leave!"

Ten feet away, the red-haired mamodo clung to Megumi's waist in a tearful embrace.

"Oh Tia!" Megumi sobbed as she hugged the vanishing girl. "You put up an amazing fight. You always do. Thanks for being the best companion a star could ever have! The best friend a girl could ask for… I love you and I'll always remember you!"

"Megumi," Tia cried, burying her face into the pop star's dress. "I wish I didn't have to go… I love you too!" The girls sobbed harder. "And I'll never forget you… You changed my life…"

"You changed my life!"

"I'm so glad you are my book owner! You're the best singer in the world and the nicest girl too. Keep on singing; I'll be listening," she finished, trying to put on a brave face.

Five feet away from Zatch in a different direction, Kiyo was on his knees, tears streaming down his face. "Tia, I'm so sorry we couldn't help you!" He punched the ground out of deep frustration.

"You did! More than you know," Tia sniffled, glancing over at the boys. She caught Zatch's tear-stained eye and in an instant both mamodo found them drawn together like magnets, racing toward each other to share a tight embrace.

"Ti-ii-a!" Zatch bawled, as he wrapped his arms around her. "It's all my fault! We were a team and I didn't protect you!"

"No, Zatch, you did all you could! I-it had to be this way," Tia blubbered. "You will-"

"Tia, will you be my mamodo queen?" Zatch interjected with a strength that seemed to come from nowhere.

Tia gasped. Did he make the same cute slip of the tongue again? She looked up at his face; she had never seen his amber eyes burn with such sincerity. He meant it with all his heart. She buried her head in his shoulder, tears never ceasing their course down her face, then kissed his cheek, then pulled back to answer, "I'll have a fresh plate of sushi waiting for you, my king." With a wink she added, "This time I'll get it right – full-bodied yellow tail!"

In the midst of his bitter sorrow, Zatch's heart found a moment to soar. He wanted to thank her for all the fun times, for all the insults that challenged him to improve, and for her special lunches – regardless of the lack or complete absence of yellowtail. But there was no time left; her spell book was nearly ashes now. He would have to tell her when he rejoined her in the mamodo world – as king.

"Goodbye, Zatch," Tia whispered as she felt her connection to earth being severed.

"Goodbye, Tia," Zatch replied numbly. Then he was left hugging the air.

Zatch stayed frozen in that position while Kiyo rushed to Megumi's side. She had collapsed to her knees and was sobbing uncontrollably. "Tia, I'll miss you!" she cried into the sky. Seeing a blurred image of Kiyo through her misty eyes, she readily opened her arms and collapsed in his. This alleviated the pain a small percentage; Kiyo was the only other person she loved. At least she didn't have to worry about saying goodbye to him… but nothing would ever replace the special bond that book owners share with their mamodo.

Every type of emotion imaginable fought to overflow Zatch's senses, but the feeling of determination triumphed. Zatch did his best to push away all other thoughts as he rose to his feet, stronger than he had ever been before. Not only did he have the strength from Kolulu but now also the intense fire of Tia inside his will. He turned around to face the direction in which their opponents had retaliated. He had a battle to finish.