Here it is, the final installment of my little "epic." Thanks for letting me share my fluff with you. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And not just because of Ambrose's dimples. Or Wyatt's ass...but that's another story...
Ambrose remembered the first day Azkadellia walked into his office on her own volition. He was never sure what brought her there in the first place, only that she had come and that she continued to come around the same time every day without fail.
He worried, after the proposal letter debacle, that she would stop coming by, for it didn't take a genius to realize that she had turned to him for companionship in the absence of her sister. But no, she was there again, looking absurdly beautiful and vulnerable in a light blue sweater knitted from the fluffiest angora, and those close-fitting trousers that DG tended to favor. On Azkadellia slightly taller and more voluptuous figure, they were absolutely sensual. Not for the first time, he reminded himself that she was not only a princess, but eighteen years his junior. He had known her since she was a child for goodness' sake.
But whenever he looked at her, the Glitch side of himself—the side that seemed to defy logic and empirical evidence—could only notice how very, very beautiful she was.
And kind. She had been the sweetest child and now that she was exorcised, she was just as kind, though her intelligence had taken on a decided deviousness that she perhaps never would have learned without The Witch.
Oh, no one knew Azkadellia the way he did. They thought they did, but most of them had been exiled or imprisoned long before The Witch stopped hiding behind Azkadellia's innocent eyes and started showing herself in public. Ambrose had seen it almost immediately in her, for one day she had been a normal ten-year-old girl, and the next, she had been a stone-cold sociopath.
He had known that something had happened to her, and it wasn't until he had seen the tattoo on her back that he had started putting it all together. Ultimately, it had been his knowledge of Ozian history that had undone him. He suspected it was Elphaba. The original Dorothy Gale had banished the spirit, but she could not vanquish it. Only one possessed of The Light could have done it, and Glinda had not seen fit to do much more than seal the spirit into a catacomb. History usually painted Glinda into a fairly positive light, but somehow it never gelled for him. Ambrose had always felt a sort of…laziness when he read of The White Witch of the South. She seemed more content to foist her troubles off onto a weaker outsider than actually do anything herself.
Not that it mattered now. DG had managed to do what that long ago generation had not, and it was, so far as anyone knew, over with that particular evil. Of course, this was the OZ, and any other number of Evil might be waiting to have its way. Some even said that The West would ever have its wicked witch, and time would only bring him or her to light.
He mused over this while he waited for Azkadellia to enter his room again. He had hugged her, held her—something he had wanted to do for several months now—and he was still scared to death that when she ran off like a scared little kitten the day before, it was for good.
But oh, the feel of her lips against his cheek and her soft hair threading through his fingers...
Unconsciously, he lifted his fingers to that spot that still burned with her touch. His fantasies had run wild the previous night with the many, varied possibilities contained in that kiss. If he only had turned his head, or if he had forestalled her retreat.
Ambrose stood and walked to the large window that Azkadellia always looked out. The great mountains, purple in the late afternoon light, stood tall and proud, capped with white ice that hailed the turn of summer to autumn. Soon, the palace guards would start wearing their fur-lined capes and heavy boots and the maids would trade their short-sleeves for long ones and the queen would exchange her pastels for jewel tones. The Equinox would be hailed with a huge bonfire, cider drinking, pie contests, and a good old fashioned fair, if they could pull it off. If not at the Equinox, then certainly at the Solstice.
The door opened and Azkadellia walked in. At once, Glitch took over his brain. Maybe it was the pretty green dress she wore, or the way her braided hair fell over one shoulder. All he knew was that he nervously stuttered, "You came back."
She stopped moving and looked at him, her hands smoothing over her skirt nervously. "I…Yes."
He wanted to run to her and gather her in his arms and feel her lips on his cheek again, but he restrained himself. Instead, she came to him at the window and sat down on the little bench. He hesitated for a few moments before sitting next to her. Like a dream, her hand found his and she pulled it onto her lap. His brain opened a series of quantum reactions to this, instantly formulating how many steps he would need to take to carry her to the sofa at the other end of the room, the proximity of her lips to his, the logistics of locking the door while holding her, how much a beheading might hurt, and how hard Ahamo could punch if properly motivated.
Surely Wyatt and DG would come out on his side? DG was more than an 89% probability while Wyatt's acquiescence completely hinged on DG's complicity.
"What are you thinking about?" Azkadellia asked, her voice breaking through the mathematical equations in his head.
Ambrose almost shook his head at the sudden absence of probabilities, but Glitch managed to help him remember that the here-and-now was more important. "I'm sorry, Princess. I was thinking about you."
She blushed, but she did not look up at him. In fact, she seemed to be staring very hard at their clasped hands. He squeezed his around hers ever so slightly to bring her attention back to him, and she looked up at him after he cajoled her enough times. Her eyes looked green today, though they could be dark and black when she was angry and gold when she was happy.
"Why me, Ambrose?" she asked. "After all that I—she—did to you. How can you…"
He lifted his free hand to her face and lightly caressed her cheek with the backs of his fingers. "I honestly don't know," he said softly, rubbing his thumb over her bottom lip. "At first, I fought it. You are so much younger than I am, and I knew you when you were but a child. It was unseemly. It probably still is. But, Princess…Dellia…I do love you. And as for the things She did to me while inhabiting your body, perhaps it is my overly-logical brain that keeps me from holding you responsible. I know it was not you."
"But how?" she asked again. "Ambrose, I need to know, how do you know? How do you trust me when so few others do?"
He pulled her hands to his heart. "Is it so important to you? My thought processes?"
"Everything about you is important to me. Especially your thought processes. In fact, they may be the part I love best about you."
He laughed. "You only love me for my mind." But she had said that word. Love. She had said it.
"Would that be so horrible?" she asked with a smile.
"Everyone wants me for my mind. Just once, it would be nice to be wanted for my body. I mean, I know I'm no Wyatt Cain—"
"No, you're not," she said suddenly, which made his heart fall quite a bit. But her next words sent it soaring: "But if it matters to you, I do think you are a beautiful man and looking at you is a sort of poetry all its own."
"Oh, Dellia," he said and leaned in to kiss her.
"Wait!" Azkadellia put her fingers on his lips. "Please, Ambrose, I need to know. How is it that you can make a distinction?"
"Intuition, I suppose, if you want to call it that," he said simply. "I feel it. I felt it when you came back that day…you had been changed by something that was not you. It was an evil that, I think, could only be sensed."
Dellia seemed to contemplate this. "And what do you sense now, Ambrose?"
In answer, he took her face between his hands and pressed his lips to hers. It was perfection, the feel of her against him. She melted into his arms, all warm curves and silk dress and the sofa at the other end of the room started to seem like an oasis, if only he could keep kissing her. The lock sorted itself out, as Azkadellia simply sent a wave of magic along with a privacy spell at the door that sealed it off for the rest of the afternoon. After that, it was all they could do to remove each other's clothing and lay down the crochet afghan that would collect the evidence of their little encounter. And then Azkadellia pushed him down and came on top of him, worshipping his body and leaving it completely understood that she found him as beautiful as he was intelligent.
And then he wrested control and made love to her in a similar fashion, exploring all of those parts that he had fantasized about: the area just behind her ear, down her neck to her perfect breasts, and then down her stomach to that place that was so sweet and made her cry out in such an exquisite opera of pleasure.
And finally—finally—their bodies joined to a chorus of yes and perfect and wonderful and more and they both knew deep inside, where their intuition lay, that it was what should be.
In the solar, DG was reading a letter to her mother when suddenly the oddest sensation stole over her and she felt momentarily dizzy and oddly delirious and then…
"Darling, are you well?" the queen asked.
DG closed her eyes and tried to focus on the center of the feeling. Where did you come from? she asked it.
"Mom, you know how sometimes Dellia and I sort of share emotions? Like, how she knew how I felt about Wyatt and how we can always find each other even though there's no possible way we should know where the other one is?"
"Yes, I admire that about you two."
DG smiled. "Well, I just had a feeling from her."
"A good feeling?"
"Mmmhm. The best. She's at peace." DG opened her eyes and smiled hugely at her mother. "Mom, she's at peace."
Lavender clasped her hands together and then kissed her youngest daughter. "Oh thank the heavens!"
The End (or is it...?)