Ruby Red and Gentilberry Green: A Fantastical Romance - Part XXXIX (END)

in #fiction6 years ago

This is the thirty-ninth and final part of a finished serial. Here are Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty-One, Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, Twenty-Nine, Thirty, Thirty-One, Thirty-Two, Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four, Thirty-Five, Thirty-Six, Thirty-Seven and Thirty-Eight.

When the porridge was cold and the story told entirely, Matthias said:

“So, I’ve heard enough. What are the both of you going to do about it?”

Simon took a deep breath and peeled his head from his hands. Lizzie placed her spindly hand on his lap, but her eyes stayed on Necristo. They were a brighter and colder blue than the ex-sorcerer’s own, more ice than ocean, and though they lacked the strange light of inhuman age, in them shone the cool fire of a woman’s intuition.

“Did you come here to ask for forgiveness, Necristo?”

There was no anger in her voice, but no warmth, either. Necristo cast his eyes down and shook his head, as if to acknowledge that she was completely correct.

“I’m not asking for your forgiveness. I don’t think I could ever earn it.”

“You’re damned right,” rumbled Simon. “Our Mattie isn’t someone we can just forgive you for taking.”

Necristo nodded, brow furrowed in clear pain.

“May I ask something, then?”

When no-one objected, the blond man pushed his chair back, stepped behind it, and prostrated himself, pressing his fringe straight into the floor.

“Oh, come off it,” groaned Matthias. “Get up, Necristo.”

“I know that I’ll never be worthy of your daughter,” said Necristo, “and I’ve harmed your family enough already. I understand that. I’ll leave. Right after this. Just, please, let me speak to Anne one last time.”

“Well, no-one’s asking you to,” said Simon, acutely and audibly uncomfortable. “Leave, that is. Get up, will you? We’re not gods.”

But it was Lizzie who stood and raised him, cupping his chin in her hand and staring straight up into his eyes, as if she were sinking an anchor deep into his soul.

“Young man,” she said, “don’t you ever dare say that you’re not worthy of my Anne. I won’t have it.”

“But…”

“No buts,” said Lizzie. “She went back to see you, we let her go, and we all knew she might never come back here again. She thought you were worthy. Are you calling our Anne a liar, Necristo? A fool?”

“Well, she does lie,” muttered Matthias, only to receive a hearty cuff from his brother.

“If you want our little hellcat, Necristo,” bellowed Simon, jumping out of his chair, “you can have her! You gave up your immortality, didn’t you? A myriad lifetimes? That’s far more time than she’ll ever have for you!”

Necristo took Lizzie’s hands and lowered them gently. He was shaking, eyes closed, but on his face was a smile as fragile and bright as a sunbeam.

“Honestly,” he laughed, “I do think she is a fool. A fool for wanting me, and a fool for going back for me, and a fool for giving you a good impression of me. But if… you’ll have me…”

“…Because you’re something like the pox, of course, and you don’t want to infect too many people while you’re at it…”

“Anne!” howled Simon at a rather alarming pitch, and ran to sweep her in his arms. She laughed and kissed his beard.

“Hello, Da. Hello, Ma.”

“I don’t remember you having that dress,” said Lizzie, but her eyes were shining.

Anne slipped to the ground and dusted herself off.

“You could call it a gift from myself to myself,” she said. “With a parting jab or two, of course, and a promise to meet again when I least expect it.”

“That’s… your dream-dress,” said Necristo. “Isn’t it?”

“Don’t tell me you stalked my dreams, too,” Anne hissed, eyes narrowed.

“I didn’t,” said Necristo, tilting his head in dismay. “Nothing looks like that. Nothing earthly, anyway. And I did see it, remember? We were having pancakes.”

“We… were,” conceded Anne.

Necristo untilted his head and began, very deliberately, to smile. Anne went red.

“B-But it’s not like you’re meant to remember that anyway,” she huffed, clutching her arms to her chest, “so there!”

But it was true. She was wearing the green dress she had seen in that wardrobe all those days ago, as weightless as light through glass, which she had clutched on her fall through the sky and seen hanging from Annabel’s own shoulders.

“Well, I do tend to remember these things,” beamed Necristo. “Except when I forget.”

“This is going to be a fantastic courtship,” said Matthias. “Keep the daggers ready. Matilda, I know you’re there, so why don’t you…”

His jaw went completely slack, but by the time he was able to master his own mouth and clamp his teeth back together, she was already standing in front of him, arms folded.

“What?” demanded Matilda. “Not ragged enough for your liking, cousin?”

Unlike Anne, her shoulders were covered entirely with a lace shawl, and her dress was as understated as her dry looks. It was white with a simple, unpretentious hem and a black-buttoned blouse. A ribbon, black with silver edges, tied back her hair in a bun, so that a stray strand hung down to touch her wrinkled cheek like snow.

“It could use a bit more decoration,” managed Matthias at last.

“And this is what I get for tying back my hair,” remarked Matilda. “Hello, Elizabeth. I’m sorry to tell you this, but I’m not your sister specifically, so…”

A patter of feet, a squeak of toes and the clap of a tight embrace.

“It doesn’t matter,” choked Lizzie. “It doesn’t matter at all. You’re not her, but you’re still… you’re still my sister. And I… oh, I’ve wanted to see you for so long, Mattie…”

Matilda stared down at her sister’s shoulder, pursed her trembling lips together, then broke down and began to sob like a child.

#####

If there was anything stranger, hypothetically, than a wedding between a former sorcerer and a farmgirl, perhaps it would be a wedding between two aged cousins, neither of whom was strictly related to the other. But these strange events did occur in due course, although not on the same day, and not in the same fashion, and most certainly not with the same effects.

There were children, for one thing, for the younger couple, a beautiful boy and a dashing girl, the former of whom could speak at one and the latter of whom could ride at two. This was generally agreed to be something very magical.

“I wouldn’t count on it too much,” the delighted father was heard to say one day. “Magic isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. As a matter of fact, love…”

“His heart’s weak,” announced the mother promptly. “And it’s not even him the children crawl over.”

The aged couple, now very satisfied with their ability to argue with each other on a daily basis, made a few curt remarks on the travails of parenting.

“But you will be my godparents, won’t you?” asked the three-year-old boy.

“Can’t complain,” said the older lady.

“I can,” said the older man. “Why did it take so long, anyway?”

“Well,” said the father, “we had to ask him, didn’t we? But first we had to explain it to him, and well…”

“Dada,” said the two-year-old daughter, scrambling for an imaginary pony and promptly falling over. The mother picked her up and began, begrudgingly, to fuss.

“I understand,” said the boy. “Magic isn’t that strong anyway.”

“I’m magic,” said the older lady.

“So am I,” said the older man. “Do you want me to send you straight to your bed again?”

“That’s the thing,” said the boy. “You’re both magic, and you’re both grumpy all the time. If you didn’t love each other, there’s no way you could stay together. Same with Ma and Da. Ma’s magic, and Da isn’t. Love is stronger than magic, isn’t it?”

There was a general silence at this.

“That’s right,” blinked the mother. “You’re absolutely right.”

“I sure wish I knew how magic felt,” said the father very loudly, to the acclaim of absolutely no-one. His wife reached over, kicked him lightly in the left shin, then pecked him on the cheek. Their daughter whined and squirmed.

“Can it, Mr. Sorcerer.”

A smile, a caress, and a full kiss in return.

“Yes, Miss Gentilberry.”

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Well done. It's a commendable romance story with fascinating doses of fantasy. It's not my preferred taste, but it held my attention nonetheless. May this be the first of many stories to come.

I figured it wasn't your taste, but I'm also very glad that you found it even the slightest bit interesting. Thank you very much for your support and praise.

This has been a gorgeous and magical read.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to imbibe.

And thank you very much for staying with me from the start! Your support is greatly appreciated.

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