Hey guys! So I suck, I know. But I got a massive writers block and could NOT think of what to write. Believe it or not, the idea came in a dream. Any way so this one's a bit of a tear jerker, but I promise it's not too bad. Next is the epilog and then we'll see where things go from there. Let me know if there is anything ya'll wanna see or want me to do next and after the epilog, I'll post an Authors Note saying what I'm going to end up doing.

So please excuse any misspelling, cuz I did this at midnight ^_^

-Rin

Chapter 20

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The clash of metal and the pop of guns echoed around me as the boys and the others aimed blows to the dark creatures. They seemed to be solid, as some of the shots made contact and they sunk into the earth.

I swirled my way through the onslaught and darted between blades, finally making my way to Jay.

An evil grin crept to my face as I imagined the joy of killing him. He would definitely pay for kidnapping Maria. I was sure of that.

But before I could raise my blade, Maria screamed out my name. I turned just in time to sidestep the lunge the stinking heap of rotting scales had thrown at me. It overshot, meaning to use the power to kill me, and bit into the boy just behind me. Jay stood wide eyed, mouth open to form an 'o'. The snake removed its fangs from him and the boy collapsed, dead before he even hit the ground.

"Ah, come on! That one was mine!" I grumbled sarcastically at the disgusting beast.

Oops. It hissed before lowering to lunge again. It released, body flying through the air and it took all my balance not to fall over from the weight as I parried the blow.

It bit and bit and tried to get at my face, thrashing about. It was a good thing I was quick, though all the dodging had ripped open by wound and I could feel blood dribbling down my side.

I had just backed it into a corner when I smelled smoke and heard a chorus of Maria's name being yelled. I turned and saw, with horror, Maria coughing and hacking as she tried not to breathe in the deadly fumes, flames licking up the wood and making its way to her feet.

Oh,no. it looksss like I acciiiidentally knocked over the torch. The viper hissed a laugh. I turned and lashed out in anger, just as the snake made another leap for my throat. This time it wasn't so lucky as I felt my blade slice through its neck, its purplish blood dripping onto my arms and searing the skin.

I wasted no time by admiring my clean cut that had severed the head of the beast and rushed to douse the flames. But I couldn't find water. With no option and no time to lose, I threw myself into the flames and tried to untie the ropes that held her.

"Robin…" she wheezed.

"I'm here, Princess. I'm going to get you out of here." I muttered back, frustrated by the tightness of the knots.

"You… have to… get out…" Maria coughed. "You'll… die!"

Of course. Always thinking of others instead of herself. That was the thing I hated most about her. She cared nothing of her own safety if there were others that could be affected.

"Don't worry. I'm fine." I lied through my teeth as I felt the combined burn of the poison and flames lick my skin.

"Ugh…"Maria groaned as she slipped from consciousness.

"No, no, no!" I hastily said, patting her cheek to try and wake her. "No, love, don't shut your eyes. Stay with me."

Finally, I had ripped the last chord and Maria's body fell to me. I clutched her tight as I covered her face. The fire had already climbed high and it was going to be hot getting out. I didn't want her hurt.

I jumped through the roaring flames and hurriedly patted down Maria's back, extinguishing any coals that might have attached themselves to her.

I laid her on the ground and shook her lightly, hoping for her beautiful eyes to flutter open. I waited and nothing happened. I frantically moved my hands over her, prodding and shaking her, trying to get a response as the others moved closer.

I leaned forward, trying to hear if she still was breathing, listening for that tiny wisp of hope. There wasn't. I put my ear to her chest to try and hear that steady and fierce heartbeat I knew should be present, but was crushed when I couldn't find it.

I stared at the girl in my arms in a daze, not really seeing as my mind went into overdrive. This was impossible. She couldn't be dead. There wasn't that much smoke, right? This had to be a sick joke. A false alarm. Something, anything, to disprove what I was seeing.

The truth hit me like a draft horse in full gallop. Maria was dead. There wouldn't be any more hugs or kisses, laughter and inside jokes. She was gone. She had slipped through my fingers again. All because I couldn't untie a few stupid knots.

It was all my fault.

And I cried. I didn't care if my men and father were watching. I didn't care that my cousin was there, staring down at the crippled form I held.

A sob ripped from my chest as I yelled her name. I lifted my face to the sky, features contorted in anger and misery.

"WHAT DID I DO?!" I screamed. "WHAT THE HELL DID I DO THAT I DESERVED TO BE PUNISHED LIKE THIS?! TAKE ANYTHING ELSE, JUST- JUST NOT HER!"

I held Maria's lifeless form close. This couldn't be real. This shouldn't have happened- not to her…

"Take me…" I whispered. Then I looked wildly around, finally settling on the now high moon.

"TAKE ME! TAKE ME INSTEAD! JUST- " I paused to wipe my nose on my sleeve. "Just don't take Maria." I finished sounding desperately calm.

I sat there in silence, waiting for an answer. When none came, I felt a steady pressure on my good shoulder.

"Robin…" My father's somber voice said lowly.

"No." I shook him off. When he tried to place it again, I turned and batted his hand away, glaring as I did.

"I said no!" I let my sorrow enter my voice as I said weakly, "Just leave me be."

The sky broke apart and the build-up of Maria's storm finally gave way to rain. It covered us all, though none made to move. I could dully hear Loveday choking sobs into Sir Benjamin's shirt and Miss Heliotrope had evidently collapsed into her fiancées arms.

And yet, the only thing I could think of was the way that Maria's skin was still smooth and porcelain despite the smoke that had choked her. I ran my fingers lightly down her cheek and let my tears flow freely, some dropping lightly to her face.

"I love you. And I will always- always- love you." I whispered into her hair as I brought her forehead to my lips.

Suddenly a bright, warm light filled the air around me, the rain slowing to a stop. I laughed drily as I looked up.

"Finally decide to show up, huh?" I glared at the woman in front of me, the glow originating from her.

"Well, hate to burst your bubble, but, you're too late." I let the tears pool in my eyes but refused to let them glide down my cheeks.

"Your purity is astounding." Mother Nature said, seemingly oblivious to the words I had just said.

"Yeah? Funny you mention that seeing as you just killed off the purist damn thing in this world." My words sounded as venomous as the blood of the snake that lay pooled a few feet away.

"Purity is an amazing thing. Even in death, it cannot me killed. It cannot be put down by this world's weapons. It is everlasting, eternal, and omnipresent." She continued, now slowly gliding to stand in front of the couple.

"It can even bring back that which is dead. My daughter, Maria, she was a special kind of pure. She was like the purity of fire. It is without flaw and can spark in even the most ill-tempered fools a kind of softness and tameness. It is warm, but if you prod it or try to force it to your will, it will lash out and burn you."

A kind look was bestowed upon me as she continued, "But you, your purity is that of the forest. Indeed, you are wild and uncontrollable at times; a trait that is not always a good thing. But you are also fierce and genuine. You never have lied in a way that would help yourself. You are brutally honest, in fact. You are strong even when the toughest of storms rage."

I looked at her in confusion and she held her chin high.

"Robin De Noir. I don't often bend the rules, seeing as I was the one who created them. However, finding a young man as vibrantly pure as you is a rare occasion. Finding a young man in as pure a love as well is even rarer. And for that I grant you one wish."

I blinked at her in disbelief. "Anything I wish for will happen?" I asked, awestruck.

"Anything." Mother Nature nodded.

"I wish for Maria back!" I said immediately, almost not letting her finish.

She smiled as she knelt down, whispering, "I knew you would choose that."

Mother Nature placed her pale hand on Maria's even paler forehead and hummed an ancient sounding song. The song sent warm tingles shooting down my spine. The pain in my side from where the stitches had come undone faded to nothing and the ache in my arms left.

A pink glow formed in Maria's cheeks and a sharp intake of breath shuttered through her. Her eyes fluttered and she squinted up at me, hand reaching for my face.

"Were you worried, Robin?" She asked playfully, though still soft.

"Immensely. But not just anyone could do that." I laughed shakily, letting tears of joyous relief slide down my face. "Only you could do that."

Maria's eyes widened at the sight of me crying and she hesitantly moved to sit in my lap rather than lay there.

"Robin, why are you crying? I was only joking." She began, but I cut her off.

"No, Princess. You don't understand… I thought I had lost you. And it was worse than poison. I was holding you, and yet, you weren't here."

"What? You mean I was… but then how?" Maria questioned, confused.

"Let's just say Mother Nature is looking out for both of us." I shook my head. That was a story to tell her later.

At remembrance of the lady, I looked around, but she was gone, vanished.

The group around us had started to move closer and where saying things I couldn't register. My brain was over worked and I was emotionally spent.

Though her uncle, Loveday, and even little Mouse tried to pull Maria in for hugs and kisses, I refused to loosen my grip on her. When she looked at me in question, I just smiled sadly and whispered, "Not just yet. I don't wanna let go just yet."

To that answer she smiled and contently leaned into me, the feeling warm and good. Never again would I lose her. Not to anyone. I made the commitment and I was determined to follow through.

Please remember to review! Lots of hugs and fluff to you all. And see you on the next chapter!

-Rin