Harle opened her eyes in time to see the first rays of sunlight battling through the ceiling of leaves above her. Her vision was blurry, which she knew was due to her head aching as if split into two. She found it hard to breathe, and kept her breaths as shallow as possible. Looking around, she saw nothing but trees above her. She decided to get up but found herself hardly able to. With all her strength she managed to sit up, smiling slightly at the achievement, even though her whole upper body hurt worse than before. She turned around to see where she was. It looked exactly like the place where she had spent her first night in the forest. She couldn’t remember too well what had happened afterward, but she felt as if it came back to her slowly.
Then she detected Kidd lying on the ground about five meters away from her. The sudden information flooding her brain made her dizzy, but after a few moments she could remember having fought against the Black Dragon. Harle wanted to get up and run over to Kidd but her wounds didn't allow her to move any further. "Kidd.", she whispered, biting her lips in pain. She had no idea what had happened to Kidd. "Are you okay? Kidd, stand up…pleaze.."
Harle almost thought the other girl was dead until Kidd’s right hand twitched slightly. A few seconds later Kidd took a deep breath and stood up, having obvious difficulties in keeping her balance. She then looked right into the jester's eyes and saw a few tears making their way down her face. When Kidd’s eyes widened at the sight Harle noticed them and wiped the tears away as quickly as her tired and battered arms allowed.
Kidd was overcome with joy that Harle was awake but she didn't want her to see that, so she masked her expression quickly. She didn’t even know Harle, it wouldn’t be a good idea to show her feelings so freely. She had to be on her guard.
Nevertheless Kidd took a few steps towards her. Harle was hardly in a state to hurt her, anyways. Harle noticed Kidd's hurt foot right away due to her uneven steps. She was hardly able to walk.
Kidd came to a stop two meters in front of her, swaying slightly. "Are ya okay? Ya shouldn't move." Kidd's voice seemed almost cold and emotionless.
"Ah oui. Moi iz fine, merci beaucoup." Harle answered hesitantly but tried to smile a bit.
"Fine. Take all the time you need. I'll finish ya off when you're ready." With these words Kidd walked off slowly, leaving Harle’s area of sight. Harle's smile faded, she didn't understand. She had felt safe for a moment, but no realized that she shouldn’t have. She was trembling all over her body, but couldn’t help it. Why did Kidd say such things?
"You're such an idiote Harle. What did you expect?" She knew that Kidd hated her to death, but why had she cured her if she wanted to kill her? ‘Moi iz not dead. Why iz zat?’, she asked herself. She really had no idea.
"Kidd! Turn around!", Harle shouted as loud as she was able to. Kidd stooped abruptly.
‘What does she want, now? Why did I say such things?’ She turned around and walked back to Harle. She saw her already standing and wondered just how Harle found the strength to do that, after having been on the brink of death for several days.
Slowly and swaying, she walked into Kidd’s direction, but her legs soon gave out and she fell to the ground.
"Kidd...if you want to kill moi, zen do it.", she whispered. Tears ran down the jester's cheeks as she lay there on the ground fifteen metres away from Kidd. She felt terrible, and genuinely wished that Kidd would make it quick. She could hardly bear it anymore. The sin, the loss, the dragons, the pain. It was too much. She knew now that her shoulders were too weak for her punishment. They were too small and too frail to bear the burden.
"I...I just…" Kidd stuttered, unsure of what to say. She didn't really want to kill Harle after all she'd been through with keeping her alive, she just hadn’t had the chance to admit it to herself until now. She should just let it go. As things stood, she didn’t have enough power to kill her anyway. She regarded Harle for a few moments, regarded her motionless form on the ground.
"Bloody fool!", she cursed and walked over to her, carrying her back to their camp. Harle's breathing was even worse now because of her fall and the resulting pressure on the still delicate lungs. After making sure Harle was slowly recovering, she lit the fire again and sat down beside Harle.
"Why do ya wanna die?" Kidd's voice was softer and calmer now, she was too tired to shout or curse. It was so meaningless anyway.
Harle turned her head to Kidd, thinking. "Moi haz nowhere to go. The dragonz want to kill moi. You want to kill moi. What do you expect?" Harle wanted to laugh but it only resulted in a fit of coughing.
"Do it. Moi iz not afraid.", she said but her voice trembled ever so slightly, betraying her where her face did not. Kidd regarded the fire, its flames causing her blue eyes to glow.
"I'm not gonna do it. Ya destroyed my future. If death's what you want, I won't give it ta ya, although ya deserve it more than anythin'." Her voice was completely even as she said that. No hint of anger, nor sadness, nor regret.
Harle turned her face to the fire as well. "Kidd...moi iz sorry. If moi could juzt…" She couldn’t end the sentence. Did she even have the right to apologize, after all she had done?
Kidd stood up, facing the opposite direction of Harle. "I know. Just survive so that my work wasn't for nothin’" She cast a Cure element on Harle, and Harle enjoyed the blissful feeling of her pain being reduced to a mere dull throbbing.
"You should sleep now.", Kidd added, but her words were useless, for Harle was already asleep. Kidd found herself smiling unwillingly and hobbled to the brook nearby. Upon reaching it she took her clothes off and walked into the cold water. She wished she had a piece of soap.
After she had finished her cold bath she went back to the fire. She felt nasty for having been so rude to Harle. She was kind of glad that Harle was getting better but she also felt she could never forgive her for burning down her orphanage. But…Lynx had been there as well and she was sure he would have burned it down even without Harle's help. She had been just a puppet, hadn’t she? Kidd decided to excuse herself the next morning. Then she fell asleep.
She found herself in a burning house. Flames illuminated her and she could hardly bear the excruciating heat. The way to the entrance door was cut off by the flames, so she had to find another. She searched for her friends but nobody could be found. The flames came closer and she decided to go upstairs. She passed a few dead bodies on her way which weren't recognizable anymore. The smell of burning flesh was all around her. She started crying. ‘Lucca! Where are you?’As she thought of her being dead as well she cried even more. She went into her room, but nobody was there. Her breathing became shorter for there wasn't too much oxygen left. She had to get out. She ran out of the room to the next. If she had to she would even jump out of the window. She ran as fast as she could into the next room. When she saw the two figures standing at the window she stopped abruptly. Cold fear seized her, making her unable to speak or move anymore. She stared into the eyes of a demi- human and a red- eyed harlequin. The jester smiled devilishly.
"No!", Kidd yelled and sat up. She was bathed in sweat and quivered all over her body. She was breathing hard and upon touching her wet cheeks she noticed she was crying. Harle woke up as well, looking over to Kidd. She wanted to say something but decided to keep her mouth shut. Kidd tried to calm herself by telling herself over and over that it had just been a dream. A dream, nothing more. However, as she turned over to Harle she looked straight into her crimson eyes, which reflected the fire. Harle smiled.
Kidd's heart began to beat wildly and fear seized her again. "No! Go away! Leave me alone!", she screamed in sudden terror as she stood up and ran away. She ran as fast as she could, not even noticing her hurt foot anymore. She didn't dare to look behind her, she just ran straight ahead. The darkness and the tears in her eyes blurred her vision, but Kidd didn't mind until she stumbled and fell into the brook. She yelled at the sudden and unexpected touch of the cold water on her skin. She needed a few seconds to find out where she was. She tried to get out of the water but stumbled again. It was too damn dark.
Eventually she was able to get out, with her heart still pounding wildly and her foot hurting. She kneeled on the ground, panting for breath. ‘What was I doing? I was so afraid.’
"You're such a fool, Kidd. It's not Harle's fault.", she mumbled to herself. She then noticed a few steps and looked up from where her eyes had regarded the ground beneath her. Harle was walking towards her, holding her shoulder.
"Mais oui, it iz mon fault. Moi iz so sorry, Kidd." Harle extended her hand towards Kidd and she took it and stood up. "I t'ink moi iz fine now. I should leave zis place. Merci beaucoup pour saving mon vie. Au revoir.", Harle bowed slightly, careful not to lose her balance and fall to the ground. Then she turned around and walked away from Kidd.
It was the right thing, wasn’t it? There was no more she could do, except apologizing and thanking her for sparing her unworthy life. She was alone from now on. And she had only the dragon’s to expect from now on.
"Ya tellin' me you're fine? Ya can't even walk properly!" Kidd shouted, a bit angry but also oddly amused.
"Mais you can?", Harle asked without looking at her, her voice serious. Kidd stamped her foot on the ground and walked to Harle as good as her foot allowed.
"Where do ya wanna go?", she asked with genuine interest. Harle turned around. Her paint was all but smudged, looking more like a grimace than a smile.
"Away. I see zat you are not feeling well when moi iz around. Ze dragonz...and nightmarez. You cried more in ze last dayz zan on our whole journey with Serge. So I t'ink moi should leave." She looked down and a few tears dropped to the ground.
"No, please stay. I don't care about the bloody dragons!", Kidd said eagerly, taking Harle's arm carefully to it over her shoulders for support. She didn’t know she wanted her to stay, but she couldn’t bear seeing her leave like this either. In her state, the dragons would get her in no time. She didn’t want everything to have been in vain. And if that meant that she had to get rid of every single dragon left, then so be it.
"Anyway, we should go back ta the fire. I'm really cold.", Kidd suggested and Harle noticed Kidd shivering. She nodded and they made their way back.
"By the way, I'm sorry for bein' so rude ta ya. Sayin' things like finishin’ ya off, ya know. It was just...ya know...the orphanage n’ stuff. I know now that it was all Lynx' fault.”, Kidd scratched her head while saying this, trying to think of how to continue. “A-Anyway..I think I can forgive ya. Are we cool now?", she asked with almost unnatural shyness, causing Harle to giggle.
"Oui, merci beaucoup."
They went back to the fire with a smile.