Story: A new life (chapter 16)

Authors: Tukuyomi

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Chapter 16

Title: Chapter 16 - Love me

“Who are you?”, both guards asked as Kidd and Harle approached. Crossing their spears, they blocked the way to the entrance, watching the two strangers sternly.

“I wanna see queen Marle. Tell her it’s Kidd. She’ll be happy ta hear it.”, Kidd answered without hesitation and with a knowing smile on her lips.

“I doubt that.”, the right guard said, eyeing Kidd suspiciously. Her clothes were more or less in rags, she looked even more like a thief now.

“Aw, just go and tell Marle.”, Kidd complained.

Both guards looked at each other and nodded. The left guard arched his brow and looked at Kidd again, then briefly at Harle, but then he turned around and went inside.

Kidd and Harle waited a few minutes, Harle just standing behind Kidd, and Kidd tapping her foot on the ground with growing impatience. She was just about to say something when the guard returned from inside, looking somewhat disappointed and sceptical.

“Go in.” The guard said and together with the other guard, he pulled the entrance doors wide open and let the girls go inside.

Harle followed Kidd a few steps behind, but Kidd was too excited about what was going to happen, so she didn’t notice.

Finally she was close enough to see Marle, sitting on her throne in dignity. She looked a lot older than Kidd remembered, but it was positively her. Kidd’s face brightened up and she ran the last few metres to Marle.

The queen stood up and welcomed her in a tight embrace. Kidd laughed and giggled like a little girl. Finally she had returned. She was so happy to see Marle again, she was even close to tears.

“My, you have grown, my dear. But you still look the same.”, Marle said, while holding Kidd’s shoulders to regard her.

“Ya too, auntie Marle.”, Kidd answered and giggled again.

“It has been such a long time...since you left. I’m very glad to see you are well. What brings you here, Kidd?”, Marle asked with an expectant smile.

“Umm...I’ll explain everything later.” Kidd responded.

Marle hugged her one more time before letting go of her and sitting down again.

She smiled at Kidd when her look fell on Harle, standing a few metres behind Kidd. She looked somewhat shy and lost, Marle thought.

And exactly this was how Harle was feeling. Harle looked around, careful not to linger on one spot for too long. She could sense the eyes of almost every guard on herself. Harle felt like an unwelcome guest or even an intruder. Maybe she was.

“So...would you mind introducing us, Kidd?”, Marle asked, looking over to where Harle was standing.

“Oh yes, of course! Come closer Harle.”, Kidd said and smiled reassuringly to Harle. This relieved Harle a bit and she walked slowly closer to the throne.

“Harle, this is the queen of Guardia, queen Marle! I’ve known her all my life.”, Kidd explained and laughed, gesturing dramatically at Marle. Kidd’s antics caused the queen to giggle, Kidd was still the same girl she knew so many years ago.

“And this friend Harle, we’re...travelling together.”, Kidd finished less enthusiastically, not sure if her explanation was the best one.

“I see.”, Marle stood up and extended her hand to Harle, ”Nice to meet you, Harle.”

Harle bowed deeply in front of the queen and took her hand. “Trés nice to meet vous az well, reine Marle.”

Marle was obviously surprised at hearing Harle’s accent. She looked at Harle intensely, trying to remember.

“Have we...have we met before? Your voice seems so...familiar.”

Kidd inhaled sharply and looked at Harle blankly. The last thing they could use now was trouble.

Harle stepped back from Marle, looking around anxiously. She started trembling as she looked at the guards. She could swear they came closer. All of them seemed to stare at her, piercing through her with their eyes, all too ready to take their weapons out. Harle suddenly panicked and wanted to run away. Run away from this place, where she wasn’t welcome, the place which could easily become her grave.

But no. She couldn’t run away anymore. She looked over to Kidd and sighed. She had to be strong. Strong for herself, and for Kidd as well. She didn’t want to lead Kidd in any more trouble than she already had. Kidd had given up so much for her. She lost a lot of friends because of her. The devas, for example. Harle was genuinely sorry for that.

When she looked back now, she realized she had always been running away from her old self, trying so hard to become like a human...and simply forget about the evils she had done. But it wasn’t that easy. She couldn’t make the sins undone now, but she could at least take the responsibility. This was the first step to make up for the sins. To realize them as sins, and to take full responsibility for them.

Harle took a deep breath and stepped forward again, standing straight and with a serious look on her face.

“Oui, we met before. It waz about ten yearz ago, moi t’inkz.” Harle eyed the queen intensely, trying hard to show no sign of fear, “I waz here...accompanying monsieur Lynx. He had some buziness wit’ your father.”, Harle finished. Her voice was deep and serious. She wanted at least to appear strong. Inside she was a wreck. She wanted to cry and run away, and never come back. But now she had started this, and she wanted to finish it as well. Harle dared not to look at Kidd, she feared she would fall apart when seeing Kidd staring at her like that. So she just focused on the queen in front of her.

“Lynx!”, Marle shouted and one second later Harle was surrounded by almost every soldier of the whole castle, each of them aiming their weapons at her.

“No!”, Kidd yelled and wanted to push the soldiers aside to get to Harle, but without success. The situation was going completely out of hand and Kidd hated to see Harle surrounded by all those soldiers. But it was useless, the soldiers were too strong for her. She tried again to get through to Harle, but one of the soldiers harshly pushed her away, causing her to fall backwards. With eyes wide open she stared at the scene in front of her, not yet believing what she saw.

Marle didn’t even notice Kidd in her rage, when she stood up and walked to Harle.

“So you are the harlequin! How dare you to come into my castle after all you have done! I heard it all! You were the one burning down the orphanage and you killed Lucca! And you came here with Lynx to manipulate my father, so he would start a war with Porre! And now? Why do you come here again? What is there left you could destroy here? What?”, Marle cried and broke down to her knees, shaking uncontrollably.

“Why...why do you destroy everything!”, she shouted after a few moments, slowly getting up again. She looked at Harle furiously.

Harle listened to all of this without changing her expression. She hadn’t moved, and her eyes were still fixed on queen Marle.

“Moi iz...sorry.”, she said, and no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t avoid one tear running down her right cheek.

“Sorry!”, Marle yelled as if she was going insane. “How dare you!”

Kidd watched the whole scene, completely horrified.

“Get her out of my eyes!”, Marle shouted and the soldiers which surrounded Harle grabbed her and took her away.

Harle looked one last time to Kidd and then turned away, giving in to the soldiers, and following them to the stairs, which lead down to the prison.

“Wait...”, Kidd said hesitantly, hastily looking from Harle to the queen, and back.

“Stop it, dammit!”, she yelled, but the soldiers didn’t stop. They forced Harle around the corner and downstairs.

“Marle! Let her go! Dammit, let her go!”, Kidd shouted, while pushing Marle’s shoulders back and forth harshly.

“Stop it!”, the queen shouted and slapped Kidd as hard as she could. Kidd stumbled backwards and fell to the ground, looking at Marle in shock. She didn’t know her like this at all.

“Just what are you doing! She killed Lucca, don’t you understand? Why do you want to help her? Why have you brought her here?” Marle didn’t shout anymore, but her voice was filled with hate and anger.

Kidd got up to her feet again, trying to calm down. “I know she killed Lucca! But...she was manipulated, she isn’t like that! She has changed!” Kidd’s voice sounded almost pleading.

“What has...what has become of you Kidd? Lucca...she was like your sister...she loved you. And now...she’s dead and you turn against her? What would Lucca say if she knew you’re trying to help the one who killed her?” Marle was crying now, overwhelmed by the images of the past which returned before her eyes. She could still remember the day after the orphanage burned down. Everything had lain in ashes and Marle could still remember the smell of burned flesh. Just the thought of it made Marle nauseous. They had found five dead bodies, four of them children, the other one Lucca. They were almost burned to the bones, they had hardly been able to recognize them anymore. It had been horrible.

Marle still had nightmares about that day every once in a while. Thankfully, most of the children had been able to escape, like Kidd. It was a miracle. But still, losing Lucca had been hard for all of them, both the children and the friends of Lucca, Marle and Crono. The children hadn’t stopped crying for days and then...Kidd had run away. Marle could hardly bear it, although she could understand why she left. Kidd didn’t have a lot of friends among the children, the only person she had really loved and trusted was Lucca. And with her gone, Kidd had had no reason to stay there anymore. But for Marle it had been even harder without Kidd. First losing Lucca and then the disappearance of Kidd...Marle had been worried to death. But a few years later she had heard tales of a pirate clan known as the Radical Dreamers. And Kidd was part of it. That had given her hope and she had never stopped believing that Kidd was still alive. And now, Kidd was here again...and she brought that demon from the past with her.

Kidd walked towards Marle and took her into her arms, rubbing her back to reassure her.

“I know...I can’t make ya believe that Harle has changed. What she did is unforgivable, but I know what Lucca would do if she was still alive. She would give her a second chance. Ya know...she used ta tell me that people always do mistakes, sometimes they’re small, sometimes big. She always said no one is infallible...she was an exception, of course.”, Kidd said and chuckled, still holding Marle.

“When I remember myself back then...I did an awful lot of mistakes. But she was never really angry for longer than one hour. Not when I beat up one of the boys, not when I stole somethin’ from the other kids, not...when I destroyed her newest invention. And I’m sure...” Kidd stopped for a few seconds, trying in vain to suppress the upcoming tears, “...I’m sure, if she knew Harle like I do, she would give her a second chance. Because she...she knew what could become of people who didn’t know love. Without Lucca, I would have become the same.” Kidd finished and broke the embrace, looking at Marle worriedly. Marle had stopped crying and had calmed down.

“Maybe...maybe you’re right.’s just so hard to accept. I mean, the way she looked at me. You tell me she has changed, but when I look at her, she’s still the same. When I look into her eyes, they still have the same evil glow they had ten years ago. How can you be sure she has changed? One can never really know. She may be like that now, but who knows what happens when she gets out of control.” Marle voice was sad and worried. She didn’t know what to do.

“I know she has changed. I’ve spent enough time with her. You know, when I met her again a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to kill her. Really. But when I looked into her eyes, I couldn’t. And when I look back now, I don’t regret it. God knows, maybe I would be dead now without her. And if she ever...gets out of control...I will be by her side to stop her, so don’t worry. She won’t do any more bad things.” Kidd looked hopefully at Marle, and she smiled a little. Maybe Kidd was right. “Please Marle, let her out of the prison. If we’re not welcome here, we go anytime. But please, let her go.”

Marle laughed quietly. She laid her hands onto Kidd’s shoulder. “Silly. I haven’t seen you for almost ten years, and you think I’m letting you go away just like that? You can stay here as long as you want, you are always welcome. And about your friend...”, Marle stopped, debating about what to do with her now, “I will go and talk to her. I am willing to grant her a second chance, it’s up to her now.”

Kidd beamed all over her face and hugged Marle again.

“Thank you so much, Marle!”, she shouted in delight. Marle giving Harle a second chance meant a lot to her.

“Now stop that you brat!”, Marle said and laughed, pushing Kidd away, “I didn’t say I’ll let her go, I said I’ll give her a chance. If your friend is mean to ME, the queen, I’ll keep her till doomsday!” Marle smirked. Then she turned away from Kidd and walked towards the stairs.

“Make yourself at home.”, she said without turning to her and waved her hand. Then she disappeared behind the corner.

Kidd smiled and looked around to search something that would keep her occupied until Marle came back. She didn’t find much, so she just sat down on the throne, earning a few warning glances from the soldiers. However, they didn’t say anything, the queen told them she was a special guest, so they let her sit on the throne. And Kidd obviously enjoyed it.

Marle went down the dark stairway until she reached the bottom, where three cells were. Two of them only inhabited skeletons, leaning against the back wall of the cell. Harle however was in the first one, sitting in the dark corner, her head buried in her arms.

“Hello, young lady.”, Marle said in a very strict voice.

Harle’s head jerked up and she stared at the queen suspiciously. She didn’t know what to expect now, she almost feared the queen had come to tell her about her execution.

While Harle could see the queen very well, Marle could hardly see Harle, the corner was too dark. The only thing she saw was this pair of red eyes, staring at her. Those eyes unnerved her greatly and she asked herself if it was really such a good idea to grant her a second chance. When she looked into Harle’s eyes, no matter how hard she tried to see something different, she always saw a monster, a demon.

“Come a little closer...Harle.”, Marle said, her voice still devoid of any emotion.

Finally, Harle came closer to Marle. Marle was surprised to see a sad look on Harle’s face. She even looked afraid. Suddenly Marle was sorry for her, but she didn’t let that feeling come too close. Harle was still the murderer of Lucca, pity was the least thing she would allow herself to feel. But she began to understand Kidd a little bit now. Harle looked so afraid, so fragile.

“I want to apologize...for taking you here without having talked to you properly.” Marle said, frowning at her words. She hated to apologize, and as a queen, she wasn’t really used to do it very often.

“Are you going to kill moi?”, Harle suddenly asked.

Marle was more than a little surprised by that, she hadn’t expected her asking something, instead of answering.

“Excuse me?”

Harle sighed and looked at Marle, scrutinizing her.

“Are you kill moi?”, she asked again, but hesitated. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to hear the answer at all. Her hands trembled, and she could hardly stand looking at the queen anymore. She already regretted telling her about herself and Lynx. What if she wanted to kill her? Harle wanted to cry, but tried to save that last bit of dignity.

“I want to be honest to you.”, Marle started. Harle stopped breathing. As much as she deserved it, she didn’t want to die yet. Not after she finally had someone she loved. “I think you deserve death, after all you have done. And I hope you are at least aware of how much pain you caused to everyone here, but especially to Kidd. I don’t think you can understand how much Lucca meant to her, and how much Kidd has suffered from her death. Therefore I am surprised that she of all people is the one, who begs me to let you go. She told me you have changed, and regarding how much she has forgiven you, I am willing to believe her. I won’t kill you.”

Harle started breathing again, inhaling deeply before breaking down, crying. She buried her head in her hands, sobbing and shaking uncontrollably. She was ashamed of letting herself go like that, but she couldn’t help it. She was simply overwhelmed. All her worries suddenly vanished. Of course, she was still in that prison, but at least she wasn’t going to die, and that was all that mattered to her right now.

Marle watched her for a while, but then knelt down in front of her.

“Are...are you all right?” It was a stupid question and she knew it, but she couldn’t find better words at that moment.

Harle managed to nod and then wiped away her tears. Still sniffling she looked at Marle, but less anxiously this time. Marle really began to wonder if this was the Harle she met so long ago. The Harle now seemed so much like a child to her, no matter how much she tried to hide it.

“You know, I think you mean a lot to Kidd. They way she protects you and talks about you, you must be a really special person. It’s sad I can’t see you the same way, but I’m going to try.”, Marle sighed and looked away for a moment. She still couldn’t believe she was actually talking to the one who had burned down the orphanage, “But tell me that one thing. Why did you have to kill Lucca and destroy the orphanage? Just why did you do that?”

Harle wasn’t surprised by that question, she knew sooner or later she had to face it, although she had expected Kidd to ask her that question.

“Monsieur Lynx...”, Harle started, but was disgusted by still calling him that. It was as though she still worked for him. “He wanted to ask Lucca about Promet’eus. Moi doezn’t know about what exzactly, mais it had to do wit’ Chronopolis and Fate. I guezz Lynx could not control Promet’eus, so he wanted answerz from Lucca. Mais...being a proud femme az she waz, she didn’t tell him. Who knowz, maybe she saved ze world wit’ zat. However, Lynx t’reatened to burn down ze orphanage. Lucca...she cried...and begged him not to do it...”, Harle stopped for a moment, trying to concentrate and not burst into tears again, “Lucca said he could kill her, but begged him not to harm ze children. She waz...ready to give her save ze children. Mais Lynx...he ordered me to kill her...and moi did it.”, Harle couldn’t hold back the tears anymore, so she let them run down her cheeks freely. She didn’t care about them anymore. “Zen...when moi wanted to leave...he told me to set the house...on fire...and moi did zat az well. iz so sorry.” Harle looked away, she wasn’t able to look at Marle anymore.

“It is too late now to apologize, but...I guess I can imagine now. I always wondered about what happened back then, but there wasn’t anybody who could tell me...thank you...for telling me the truth about what happened.” Marle stood up again and so did Harle. Again, Harle wiped away her tears and hoped this would be the last time, at least for that day.

“I’m glad I had the chance to talk to you, Harle. I guess I just have to believe Kidd. You have changed. One last question, though.”, Marle looked at Harle sceptically, “What do you think of Kidd? What does she mean to you?”

Harle didn’t have to think about that. “Kidd iz everyt’ing moi haz.” Harle stood proudly in front of Marle. She truly meant it and Marle believed that, even though she couldn’t understand exactly how Kidd and Harle could get along. They were so different from each other. Marle decided not to think about such things, it wasn’t her business.

Marle took a silvery key out of her pocket and unlocked the door. “I think there is someone waiting for you.”, Marle said with a smile and gestured Harle to go out of the cell. Harle did so and bowed deeply in front of the queen. “Merci beaucoup, reine Marle.”

Then she started to leave, but not before looking at Marle one more time. And this time, she was smiling, something Marle hadn’t expected to see from Harle. She smiled back and let Harle leave upstairs. She leaned against the wall and took a deep breath. She just hoped she did the right thing. “Was it...the right thing to do...Lucca?”, she asked and looked at the ceiling, not really expecting an answer.

Kidd was about to fall asleep when she heard footsteps coming closer to her. When she opened her eyes she saw Harle standing in front of her, leaning forward.

“Harle!”, Kidd shouted and jumped up, hugging Harle. Harle just stood still and rested her head on Kidd’s shoulder. After all that talking about the past, she was tired. But she felt better, now that she finally had faced her past.

“I’m so sorry Harle. Were the soldiers mean to you?”, Kidd asked, babbling like a child. Harle shook her head and smiled at Kidd. “Good! Ya know, if they were, I’d kick their sorry arses so hard they’ll kiss the moons!”, Kidd said proudly and both laughed.

Marle watched them from afar. Her decision couldn’t be that bad, if it made Kidd happy, it was worth it. Marle really loved to see Kidd smile and laugh like that. It had been so long ago, when she had seen such a smile the last time.

“You two look tired. Maybe you want to show Harle her room? I guess you still know where the guestroom is?”, Marle said as she approached the two, smiling all over her face. Kidd nodded quickly and grabbed Harle’s hand. She wanted to go and show her the guestroom, but she turned to Marle again. “Thank you so much, auntie Marle.”, Kidd said and smiled. Then she turned to Harle again and they went towards the stairs, which lead upstairs to the guestroom. The tower was pretty high, they had to ascend more than hundred steps to reach the room at the top. Both were exhausted after that, but they were rewarded with an breathtaking view over the forest behind the castle, up to the huge mountains behind.

“Trés chouette.”, Harle said dreamily.

“Aw, that’s nothin’. Ya don’t even see Truce Village from here. But come, I’ll show ya a bloody nice view over Truce.” Kidd went to the window and stepped onto the edge. She turned to Harle and gestured for her to do the same, before she looked up to where the top of the tower was. On the wall beneath it, a few bricks were missing. Kidd put her hands and feet in those holes and made the short way up to the top. Reaching it, she turned to Harle, extending her hand to her. Harle looked at the ground about forty metres below her. She almost lost her balance, but pressed herself against the wall to prevent it. She wasn’t sure why she was afraid of heights just now. She anxiously looked up to Kidd, who offered her a reassuring smile. Harle took a deep breath and began to climb up as well. The top of the tower was about eight metres wide and equally long, with two rows of stones surrounding it.

Kidd went to the front and Harle followed her. From this side of the tower, they could clearly see Truce Village. And together with the descending sun in front of them, the view was beautiful beyond words. Both of them sat down and watched it silently. Harle laid her head onto Kidd’s shoulder and smiled.

“At least un happy end pour un terrible jour.”, Harle said and took Kidd’s left hand in hers.

“Hmm.”, Kidd simply said, looking over to Harle. “It really wasn’t such a nice day, Marle practically went mad.”

“Moi iz...sorry.” Harle looked away.

“Don’t excuse yerself all the time. It’s not yer fault...nor is it Marle’ was just a difficult situation...for all of us.” Kidd tried to reassure Harle with that, but she still looked sad.

“So...what did ya two talk ‘bout?”, she asked with genuine curiosity.

“She deserved to die, mais she trusted you. We talked about ze past...and about Lucca...”, Harle looked down sadly. Kidd noticed that and laid her arm around her shoulder, pressing her closer to her.

“I’m...I’m sorry I brought this up. I didn’t wanna make ya sad.”

Harle shook her head and forced herself to smile slightly. “Non, non it’z alright. Moi iz happy we talked about zat. Moi haz done terrible t’ingz. But moi will do better in ze future.”, Harle said and sighed. She didn’t know exactly how she would do better, but she would think of something, for sure.

“I know, Harle. We’ll just kill the last dragon, and then we can live like we’ve always wanted. By the way, what do ya wanna do after the Sky dragon is defeated?”, Kidd asked curiously. It felt a little awkward for her to ask that, and she hoped Harle wouldn’t tell her about Marbule again. It wasn’t like Kidd didn’t like the demi- humans there, but still, the people there seemed a bit too odd, for her taste.

“Je ne sais pas, mon ami. Mais it doezn’t matter, az long az moi iz wit’ you.” Harle smiled shyly and put her arm around Kidd’s waist.

“Harle...”, Kidd said hesitantly, blushing. The answer was a bit surprising for her, but she liked it nonetheless.

“Oui?”, Harle asked, moving her head to look at Kidd. Her red eyes met Kidd’s blue ones.

“I wanted to tell you...that for a while now...”, Kidd started and Harle could feel Kidd’s hand trembling on her shoulder. Harle squeezed it gently with her right hand.

“I...I didn’t, because of the dragons...I feared they would take you away from was selfish I know. But now...I don’t want to waste the time we have left...maybe it’s all over tomorrow, maybe not. I don’t know. The only thing I know is...”, Kidd laid her other arm around Harle’s neck as well, drawing her closer to her. Both looked at each other deeply. Their faces were only a few centimetres apart, both could feel the breath of the other tickle on their skin.

“I love you, Harle.”, Kidd said softly. Eventually she moved closer to Harle and kissed her hesitantly. To her surprise Harle responded immediately and kissed her back passionately. The sensation of Harle’s lips onto hers almost made Kidd fall unconscious. This feeling was overwhelming. They had kissed before, but this time...they both wanted it completely and it felt totally different. After a while Harle broke the kiss, but didn’t take her eyes off Kidd even for a second.

“Je t’aime.”, she said and kissed her again. Kidd’s heart beat wildly, she couldn’t believe what was happening just now. There were so many feelings crushing like a wave onto Kidd at that moment. She didn’t know how to deal with them all.

Harle was so happy. She couldn’t fully believe it yet, but she knew her wish had finally come true. After all she had gone through in her entire life, she had finally found happiness...and real love. She wished this feeling would never go away again, because right now, she felt like the happiest girl in the whole world. Now it didn’t matter anymore, if the whole world hated her for her sins, as long as Kidd was by her side, she could bear practically everything.

Harle gently pushed Kidd down. She lay above Kidd, caressing Kidd’s cheek affectionately. She smiled a wonderful smile. Kidd played with Harle’s locks dreamily, curling them around her finger. With her other hand she wandered along Harle’s back. Then she rolled to her side and pulled Harle with her.

With both arms around Harle’s waist, Kidd snuggled closer, burying her head in Harle’s locks. Kidd found the smell of Harle’s hair simply entrancing.

“I can’t believe this.”, Kidd whispered softly into Harle’s ear. So this was what it felt like.

“Moi neidder. “, Harle whispered back. A single tear ran down Harle’s cheek, although she was smiling, and Kidd kissed it gently away. While caressing Harle’s arm, she noticed it was cold, so she rubbed it gently. The sun was already down, leaving both of them in darkness.

“Let’s go in, it’s gettin’ cold.”, Kidd said and stood up, extending her hand to Harle. She took it and stood up. Both made their way down again and went through the window to get in.

The sight of the beds made Harle realize how tired she actually was. She went to the bed closest to the window and began undressing herself, starting with her shoes. Kidd did the same, but then went over to Harle, hugging her from behind. She kissed Harle softly on the neck, causing Harle to shiver slightly. With her hands on the bottom of Harle’s tank top, she slowly pulled it up and off Harle.

Harle then turned around and did the same with Kidd’s clothes, starting with her vest. Soon both of them stood in front of each other, completely naked. Harle giggled cutely as Kidd dragged her into bed with her, embracing her tightly.

Harle then pulled the blanket above both of them. She hesitated for a short moment, but then started to cover Kidd’s whole body with kisses. Kidd quivered and moaned slightly, earning even more kisses from Harle. She had trouble to deal with all those feelings but she tried her best not to think about her nervousness. She stroked Harle’s hair gently, causing Harle to look up. Kidd could see a mischievous smile on Harle’s face and couldn’t help but smirk herself. She gently pulled Harle up to her, kissing her while stroking her back. Both closed their eyes and completely gave themselves to the other. Kidd’s hand wandered along Harle’s side and up to her breasts. She cupped Harle’s right breast tentatively, unsure of how Harle would react, but Harle just smiled and laid her own hand above Kidd’s, pressing it closer against her breast. Then she kissed Kidd again, moaning quietly as Kidd’s hand moved all over her body. Harle had never felt like this before. She felt so content, so “whole”, a feeling she’d never thought existed.

Harle sighed and leaned her head onto Kidd’s chest, while Kidd laid her arm around Harle’s shoulder, stroking her hair. Harle looked up to Kidd’s face. The moon shone through the window, bathing Kidd’s face in light.

“Je t’aime.”, Harle whispered and pressed herself closer to Kidd, as if she never wanted to let go again.

“Love you too.”, Kidd answered and kissed Harle’s forehead.

Soon Harle fell asleep in Kidd’s arms. Kidd watched her with a content smile. Now that she had time to think again, her thoughts wandered to the dragons again. Only one was left. Serge had already beaten him once, it couldn’t be that hard to finish him off once and for all. But she worried a little about Harle. After all, the Sky Dragon God was her creator, the one who had guided her as a child. Even if he forced Harle to do such terrible things and work together with Lynx, Kidd was sure Harle respected him in a way. It had to be hard for her to kill him. She would be the last one then. Sometimes...Kidd wondered how it felt to be half dragon and half human. She looked like a human and acted like one, but still there was this dragon deep inside her. Kidd wanted so much to be able to help her, but she couldn’t. Harle was alone with that. However, Kidd would always be with her and do as much as she could to help Harle.

She wondered just when Harle had sneaked her way into her heart like this, bringing out emotions in her she had wanted to disappear. She wondered why they were here now, despite the cogs of fate having turned against them.

Glancing over to Harle once more, Kidd fell asleep as well. Their sleep was peaceful and quiet, Harle didn’t have any nightmares that night. It was the first night without them for a long time, and Harle hoped now with Kidd by her side every night, the nightmares would never haunt her again.

When Harle woke up again by the first sparkles of sunlight, she felt great. And one look to her side made her feel even better. Holding her with her strong arms, Kidd lay close to her, with a hint of a smile on her sleeping face.

Harle turned to her, kissing her gently. Kidd however didn’t fully wake up, she just tightened her embrace unconsciously. Harle giggled and nuzzled her head against Kidd’s chest. She remained like that for a moment, then lifted her head to whisper into her ear.

“Bon matin, mon amour.”

Kidd slowly opened her eyes and was greeted with Harle’s face, smiling at her.

“Good mornin’.”, Kidd answered. With her index finger she traced down Harle’s face, from her eyes to the tip of her nose and down around her soft lips. Both smiled lovingly. Kidd gave her a quick kiss and started to get up, but Harle quickly put her hands around Kidd’s waist and gently pulled her back to her.

“Already leaving moi?”, she asked and tried to sound disappointed.

“I guess...we can as well stay here for a while.”, Kidd answered and smiled affectionately. She lay down beside Harle again. Harle caressed Kidd’s arm, while leaning her forehead against Kidd’s.

“Moi’z wonderful...mon amour...”, Harle whispered.

“I...wanna live the rest of my that...with you...” They didn’t look at each other while saying this, but they knew the other would understand. They remained like that for almost an hour, only listening to the wind and the birds outside, caressing each was the most beautiful time both of them had ever spent. Eventually, Harle stood up and stretched herself, and Kidd did the same.

With a huge grin on her face Kidd looked at their clothes, which lay scattered across the room.

“What a mess!”, she said while collecting her clothes to get dressed. Harle just giggled and picked her clothes off the floor as well. Both got dressed quickly and headed towards the door. But just when Kidd was about to open the door, Harle took her hand off the doorknob and kissed Kidd softly. Kidd smiled and laid her hand onto Harle’s cheek, causing her to smile as well. Then they left the room, walking hand in hand, and made their way down to meet Marle.

The queen sat on her throne as always, already waiting for the two to come.

“Good mornin’, Marle!”, Kidd shouted and ran towards Marle, giving her a quick hug. Harle followed her slowly, greeting the queen with a simple nod.

“Good morning, you two. Slept well?”, Marle asked cheerily.

Kidd flushed slightly and nodded. “Yeah...thanks for lettin’ us stay.”

Marle just waved her hand. “No problem, you’re welcome. So...I guess you are hungry? Let’s go to the hall.”

Kidd nodded eagerly and followed Marle. Harle did the same, but she walked a little slower, noticing the glances the soldiers gave her. But she refused to let it bother her.

The three of them entered the well decorated hall, with a lot of expensive looking décor everywhere. Kidd wasn’t impressed in the least, she had seen it many, many times before. And besides, things like golden plates and expensive paintings weren’t things Kidd wanted to have anyway.

They sat down at a large wooden table. The queen sat at its end, with Harle to her left and Kidd to her right.

Soon a few maids entered the hall, bringing huge plates with food with them. After a few minutes, the whole table, which wasn’t exactly small, was full of plates. Harle was quite stunned, but she tried to hide it as good as possible, she didn’t want to draw attention with gawking at the food.

All three of them soon began to eat. Harle ate very slowly and mannered, she wasn’t particularly hungry anyway, but Kidd again was eating far too fast, obviously not thinking about manners and such. But the queen just smiled. She had known Kidd like that all the time, she didn’t bother. Besides, before she had become the queen, she had been a little like Kidd too. She hadn’t liked living in the castle all the time, and her adventure with Lucca, Crono and all the others had been the best time in her life. She too, just wanted to be normal, but now she had gotten accustomed to her “job”. Anyway, it wasn’t all that bad to be a queen. Marle had to smile suddenly, but decided not to dwell on this for too long.

“ still owe me an explanation, young girl.”, she said and faced Kidd.

Kidd wanted to ask what it was, but decided to eat up before talking. She quickly chewed the last bits of her breakfast and turned to Marle.

“What explanation?”, she asked.

“An explanation of why you came here, of course. As much as I would like to hear it, I highly doubt you just came back to see your beloved “auntie” again, am I right? So, what do you want from me?”

“Well...”, Kidd blushed profusely, feeling a little guilty for not having come to visit her for ten years, “...are ya mad at me?”, she asked hesitantly.

“No, no of course not! How could I ever be mad at you? But still, what’s the reason you came here?”, Marle said, and couldn’t suppress a smile at Kidd’s childish worries.

Kidd sighed in relief, then moved on. “Ya see...the dragons are after us. They just attacked us out of nowhere and tried to kill us...we don’t even know why they’re after us...and...”

Harle listened to Kidd for a while, but decided to speak for herself. “Ze dragonz...are juzt after moi...zey want to kill moi for betraying zem, for running away...” Kidd looked at Harle in disbelief and tried to say something when the queen interrupted her.

“So...I’ve heard of those dragons in El Nido...they were known as the protectors of the planet, living along with the demi-humans...the news of their deaths spread all over the world. The humans didn’t seem to care much, but the demi- humans were in complete outrage. That leaves the question: Where did these dragons come from? They were dead, after all. And many are there?”

“Originally...zere are seven dragonz, mais Kidd and moi already killed five of zem...ze Sky Dragon iz ze only one left...beside moi.”

“Beside you? Does that’re a dragon?” Marle was greatly surprised by that, but suddenly she started to understand. That glow in her eyes, this evil aura she had had back then.

Harle nodded solemnly and looked down, fidgeting nervously. Kidd noticed Harle’s nervousness and reached her hand over the table, taking Harle’s hand in hers, offering her a friendly smile.

“I begin to understand now. You turned against the dragons, because you didn’t hate the humans like the other dragons do. And so...they somehow managed to get back and they tried to kill you, with no success so far. And now you two want me to help you defeat the last dragon. Is that it?”, the queen asked, comprehension dawning on her.

Both girls nodded silently, looking at each other and then over to the queen.

“Well, I’m sure my men would be proud to lend a hand to defeat that monster.”, the queen answered and smiled.

Harle nodded towards the queen and smiled gratefully, while Kidd jumped up and ran over to embrace the queen.

“Thank you so much again. What would we do without ya?”, Kidd shouted joyfully. Now the two of them started to laugh and even Harle allowed herself to smile a little.

Finally, Kidd let go of Marle and the queen was able to stand up.

“Now, I think we should start preparations, the dragon could come anytime now. I have to call the soldiers and gather them in front of the castle. Together, we have to think of a plan. We have to divide the soldiers as effectively as possible. They have to distract the dragon from you long enough for you to figure out how to beat him.”

Both girls nodded in agreement and stood up as well, following the queen outside the hall. From now on, it wouldn't be long until the final decision: Death or a new life. Harle didn’t even want to think about the outcome of the battle, but one thing was for sure: She wouldn’t give away the chance of a new life that easily.

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