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The Road Less Travelled

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The O.Z., safe and pristine from afar, can become uncannily unfamiliar when you tilt your head to the slightest of new angles. DG found herself perilously in that position upon her return. Safe things were dangerous and those dark places your parents (robot parents in her case) told you to stay out of could sometimes be a safehouse or the answer to your prayers. DG puzzled this more than other things and her thoughts were occupied with one subject in particular.

Azkadellia. 

Once unlocked, her memories seemed to start flooding back to her in technicolour. Smells she couldn’t name, colours she didn’t know existed. Memories also spanned the scope of touch and it was her sister, who held her hand and hugged her close, whose long fingers stroked her hair, it was her sister that she remembered most. With the Witch gone, one would think the danger was through, that you could go out in the dark, say the Witch’s name three times and nothing would happen. Safe as houses. Just not for DG. Azkadellia only communed with a select number of people and she spent the most time with DG, which made seemingly safe ground start to churn and present its many dangers. It wasn’t so safe, not really. 

She loved Azkadellia, more than some other sisters loved each other, because she had too many years to catch up on. She loved Az, but the problem was…

Well, the problem was that she loved the idea of her sister. Azkadellia herself, that beautiful and haunted woman, she was a different story. DG liked Azkadellia. The problem came into the picture when you considered the inklings of shivers DG got when she thought of Azkadellia as a woman and not just her sister. Goosebumps over her arms and thoughts that made her bite her lip and think she’d had too much sun to be thinking the way she was. Now that she thought of Azkadellia’s hand in her hair, the reaction was not that of fondness, but an itch, a fiery spark of something DG was too scared to name.

It was dangerous, she knew that much. 

Don’t wander the streets of the Old Road after dark, Cain had warned her.

Don’t touch an unsuspecting and unprepared Viewer, said Raw.

Stay out of deep caves, her parents fearfully warned (as the O.Z. had two witches by myth, just as it always tended to have two princesses). 

Never back yourself into a corner without a way out and an apple, was Glitch’s favourite saying. 

No one said anything about how she had to beware the dangerous cloud of feelings one might have in the miasma that was Azkadellia. Somehow, that had slipped everyone’s minds and there DG was, trapped in the path of something that was potentially as dangerous as dark magic rooted deep in her. 

The only thing Azkadellia ever warned DG of was, don’t let go, don’t run. 

Azkadellia had her hooked, though.

DG couldn’t have run if she tried; not even if she wanted to and she so very badly enjoyed the snare of this trap. 

*


Glitch wandered through the reckless mess of portraits and paintings as if he were basking amidst the glorious smell of roses. Every so often, DG would hear a delicate ‘oh’ of pleasure from him and whether it was for her art or for her subject, DG felt an unmistakable swell of pride and possession. 

“I wish I could fill up a room with someone I love,” Glitch spoke hesitantly, fingers brushing the blushing cheeks of Azkadellia in a portrait that DG had drawn when the local scholars came to entertain them with pretty philosophy and prettier words. Glitch gave another sad ‘hmm’ as his hand went from the portrait to trace his zipper, tooth by tooth.

It was hard for DG to reply and only because she couldn’t place a finger on what Glitch needed reassurance about. The lack of love? The mangling of a once-great specimen of education in the O.Z.? Or was he somehow envious of DG’s increased attentions on Azkadellia?

“What do you mean?” DG asked, finally pulling her attention away from a half-finished sketch of Azkadellia. Sometimes, it was too easy to lose yourself in pictures of her, as though some haunted piece of her spirit went into each work of art. It made it feel like it was a very strange, very true ghost story.

“It’s hard being in love with someone who can’t show anything back,” Glitch said wistfully, having stopped in front of a watercolour of Azkadellia, sunning herself under a tree. “Can I have this? I think it’d brighten up my room. It desperately needs it.”

DG’s acquiescence was soft and distant, her mind occupied with Glitch’s words, trying to convince herself that he couldn’t possibly mean that he was in love with someone that was taken.

Couldn’t be, it couldn’t be. She insisted that over and over until, at last, she momentarily believed it and could turn her attentions elsewhere again, past the haunting and rhythmic insistence in her mind. All she had seen in her mind’s eye was a carousel of mocking reliefs; scenes of a secret courtship that her imagination had concocted. She struggled through it and nodded that he could have the painting, only faintly aware of her agreement to his question of whether she would paint another subject for him. 

He was gone before the traitorous thoughts washed away and he had taken the painting with him, leaving DG with one less emblem of Azkadellia surrounding her, adding to the dense fog of her unspoken desires.

She would finish a replacement by next week, but until then the fog had developed something of a pin-price – a way in which to see out to the clear fields beyond, where everything was safe and there were no secrets.

*

DG brought up Glitch’s strange words during a walk through the Solace Gardens, at Azkadellia’s request. They were a supposedly mystical place where the natural acoustics quieted all footsteps. “Does this mean Glitch was with Mom. Is…? Oh my god, what if he still is?” A hundred unbidden and immoral images quickly flooded DG’s mind, despite her desperate efforts to stop them. 

“I wouldn’t worry,” Azkadellia assured, her voice as soothing as her palm in DG’s hand – an old childhood habit they had reverted back to.

“It’s Mom. How do I not worry?”

“Here. Let me show you something.”

DG was hard-pressed to think past the safe warmth of Azkadellia’s palm, but let herself be led to a thicket of old trees whose trunks spanned at least seven feet across, at the smallest. Azkadellia walked forward with no fear, dress hanging to the ground and making it appear as though she were gliding. Eventually, they stopped and with her pinky, with a pink-painted fingernail, she pointed to a wide tree that was hollow inside, but not empty. “They come here,” Azkadellia explained. “And I wasn’t supposed to know, but I watched once and I can’t help watching ever since.”

DG could see Glitch well enough, but his companion was lost within shadows. All DG could see was the crush of green fabric in Glitch’s hands. 

“Who is it?” DG whispered and was met by a fingertip to Azkadellia’s natural rosy lips, telling her to wait, to pause, to let it play out.

“One night,” Glitch was begging fervently between kisses and the acoustics of the garden made it seem like his words were amplified. “One night,” it sounded like he would keep repeating those words until he got his way. “Please,” Glitch exhaled, leaning open-mouthed into a kiss. “No one will think less of you for it. One dinner out, even just as friends,” he insisted and through a minute change in position, DG caught a sliver of blue, that ice of Cain’s eyes that she knew so well.

In an instant, DG felt flooded with empathy for Cain and wanted to burst out and tell him that she knew exactly how he felt. How were you supposed to even begin to process newfangled feelings you didn’t know could even exist? It was terrifying and worse to navigate alone when you felt as though all you were was wrong.

Glitch loved someone who couldn’t show anything back. DG had never stopped to think that he might have meant that literally.

Their actions were intimate in their believed secrecy and DG memorized the way Cain’s hand brushed Glitch’s hip as she immediately replaced the players in her mind – Glitch and Cain for Azkadellia and herself – and she wondered how Glitch could miss the fact that Caindid show something back. He just didn’t know how to do it normally. God, did she ever empathize. There were nights yet in which she lay awake, unsure how Azkadellia interpreted DG’s words and actions towards her, wondered if she would ever understand.

“It’s a shame,” Azkadellia murmured. “Glitch deserves more than a hidden affair.” 

Something painful struck DG at that and she felt like she couldn’t breathe for all the hope that had been stolen from her in that too-short amount of time. How could she argue, either? To insist that Glitch couldn’t do better, that sometimes things just couldn’t be perfect and public (but that didn’t mean they weren’t loved any the less or wanted with anything but the relentless onslaught of desire), that would lift the topic into the spotlight of Azkadellia’s possible scorn. “He keeps going back,” DG pointed out, her own voice sounding strangled and strange. “They look happy. They do.”

“Still, something in secret seems like settling.”

DG mustered the most convincing smile she had and it felt weak, false. It felt horrible and worse than that, it felt somehow like she was lying to the person she loved the most. She just wished, later, that she had stopped to consider that DG wasn’t the only one lying that day.

*

Azkadellia had taken DG to the highest turrets of the Witch’s Tower. “It’s the only place around where you don’t have to look at it,” she murmured from the balcony, the high winds brushing her ethereally long hair back over the shoulders of her light chiffon lilac-coloured dress. The view of Central was hard to beat and their hands brushed, then touched, and then clasped for each other as the suns set into the once-sparkling spires of the city in the distance. Their hips touched and DG found her gaze craned to the side to study the swan-like elegance of Azkadellia’s neck. The lighter colours Azkadellia now wore made her seem almost mythological, her hair was loose and in endless waves down her back which leant to the appearance. 

DG stared at Azkadellia until the last oranges and purples and pinks faded away into the deep blue of twilight, at which point she held firmly onto Azkadellia’s hand, knowing that if nothing else, that one thing would protect her. 

“I never know my way out of here,” DG admitted, some echo of fear in her voice at the thought of wandering around inside the tower, lost without a single ounce of safety. There were too many ghosts haunting the halls and the idea of being stuck amidst them sent a chill down DG’s back.

At least, she attributed the chills going through her as fear and not a reaction to the way Azkadellia brushed her thumb over DG’s wrist (ignored the way it made DG’s breath catch in her throat). 

Azkadellia led the way down dark halls and DG refused to let go, not knowing whether it was for her own peace of mind or whether Azkadellia needed the support and strength to get her through the shadows and back to the light. Their exit stopped, though, when echoed mutterings came to their ears and they stopped to locate the sound.

“Is that…”

“Glitch,” DG exhaled worriedly, tugging on Azkadellia’s hand. “Come on!”

“DG!” she nearly wailed in panicky complaint. “DG, no! No more trouble.” DG nearly stopped, nearly fell down on her knees, fell to her sister’s whims (her sister, her sister, not just a woman, she was her sister and why wouldn’t that settle in DG’s brain, banish out the thoughts that didn’t belong?) But then, before DG could stop and apologize and tell her that it was okay, they could leave, the next words out of Azkadellia’s mouth were a resigned, “Just don’t let go.”

“Never,” DG promised, knowing that it was more than a promise of protection. She never wanted to release the feel of Azkadellia’s hand on hers, not now that she knew what it was like.

It took them fifteen minutes to discover Glitch and he was pacing back and forth in a corner, one hand tugging at hair. Small tufts of it fell to the floor in a seemingly mad descent, spiraling like Glitch had once spiraled from respected Advisor into the picture of the perfect headcase. 

“Glitch?” DG exhaled with genuine worry and her fingers slowly began to slide and slip from Azkadellia’s palm.

But they didn’t.

Azkadellia tightened her grip at the last moment, tugging DG back like the recoil of a whip and DG was left to stare at Glitch, a single ray of the moons (from somewhere, though no one knew where they shone in from) reflected on one side of her face. Glitch seemed so distraught, so at his wit’s end, and DG could feel herself wanting to make it all better. 

Glitch swallowed with some difficulty and glanced up at them. In the thick shadows of the hall, it looked almost like his eyes were puffy and red, but that was impossible. 

Wasn’t it?

“Oh, hey guys,” Glitch wearily greeted with a clumsy little wave of his hand. “How’d I…where am …oh!” He laughed anxiously, blurting out the laughter like it was a nervous reaction. “Huh. I got really turned around out here, huh. Guess that’s … um.” He smiled again, the whole thing looking insincere to DG. 

Azkadellia wasn’t letting go and Glitch wasn’t taking a step forward. She was trapped in the in-betweens.

“I guess I’ll just go follow him.”

DG never did ask who he intended to follow, but he left in a rush, too quickly for DG to ask anymore questions and to demand if he’d been crying or whether it was just a trick of the light in a place full of dark magic and darker mischiefs. 

*

Spring days in the O.Z. had become something of a dream to DG. She was sure that she was awake, that her heart beat in normal time as she wandered the lush fields and spent time amidst the cooing birds and the brilliant flowers, but it still felt like a waking dream. “DG?” Azkadellia’s voice interrupted her and brought her back to Earth (or, well, the O.Z., she supposed). Suddenly, the sounds around her seemed hushed in the face of Azkadellia’s voice and DG was pried from one world of beauty to another, gazing at her sister (her sister, why didn’t that label ever stick?) as she fidgeted with the thin strap of her pink tank-top, the layers of her pale purple skirt rustling with the breeze.

They were in the gardens of the palace and DG had a large sketchpad laid on her lap, a charcoal pencil in hand and beneath her lay a half-begun portrait of Azkadellia. She couldn’t do the older woman justice, but she tried and that had to be enough. 

“DG,” Azkadellia spoke again and this time it caught DG’s attention. 

“Hm?” DG snapped out of her reverie, bringing herself back to a reality that was genuinely still too dream-like. It fooled her once, twice, three times, and it was shame on her every time. 

Azkadellia shifted where she was sitting, her skirts sounding in a soft rustle and her hair fell over her shoulder as she turned from her repose to stare straight at DG with those unforgiving, penetrating eyes. DG felt like Azkadellia could see through all sorts of worlds and galaxies with those eyes and sometimes they were hard and sometimes they were so vulnerable that they might break at any second. 

“DG,” Azkadellia murmured one last time and DG genuinely felt a chill run down her back, like something deep somewhere inside of her had just been summoned. “What does it feel like to be kissed?”

The sound of the charcoal pencil falling to the sketch might as well have been deafening for what it sounded like in DG’s ears. She swallowed something thick in her throat and stared at Azkadellia like she had just announced that she wanted to pick up and become a stripper on Earth.

“You mean like, the Witch erased your memories of your first kiss?” DG clarified warily. 

“How could she do that?” Azkadellia asked and she sounded so lovely and young and sweet that DG felt suddenly like she was going to tarnish that by explaining any of this realistically. “I’ve never had a kiss to be able to remember.”

DG thought that impossible. 

Azkadellia was the most beautiful thing she had seen in the whole O.Z., more beautiful than pale pink blossoms on strange and exotic trees and more incredible than Central City glistening in the pale sunslight of dawn. Most of the time, she didn’t even seem to understand that. DG set the drawing aside and crawled to her feet to sit with Azkadellia and cup her cheek, fingers brushing the most sensitive and gentle of skin as she leaned in so very hesitantly.

“DG?” Azkadellia murmured, voice low and husky – and yet nothing like it had been when there was a Witch controlling her. “What are you doing?”

“I think it’s long past time you got that first kiss,” DG said with a playful little grin. Maybe it was just that she had a reason and an excuse. “Here, just, close your eyes,” she guided, the pads of her fingertips gently stroking Azkadellia’s cheek and brushing them over long lashes as she let Azkadellia relax into her touch. 

Now or never.

Now…

DG had once sat with Wyatt Cain and they talked about courage and how it came from the most unlikely of places. You had to save the world or else you died. But DG didn’t have to push forward and act on her feelings, but she did. Somehow, that felt braver to her than she had while dangling off a tower and the whole world was in the balance.

Her lips brushed Azkadellia’s and what happened shocked her.

There was a burst of warmth, a sudden increase of shivers, and a tingling sprinted down DG’s back and it felt…well, it felt just like it did when DG took Azkadellia by the hand. She felt safe and she felt protected and when she opened her eyes just the slightest bit, she could see the faint wash of a pale glow about them.

They were protected and encased by their own magic.

DG cupped Azkadellia’s cheek a little harder and let her other hand fall to the tank top, fingers brushing the material and finding skin beneath it, letting out the tiniest of whimpers as she pushed for more and more and experienced as DG might have been in kissing, she felt completely at a loss for what to do next. 

All the bravery she felt dried up and she found herself falling backwards without actually plummeting anywhere and stared at Azkadellia with widened eyes, her lips parted in confusion.

“Is it always like that?” was Azkadellia’s exhaled whisper. 

She seemed to be looking at DG with something new in her gaze. Her own hand went to DG’s hip and wound its way through beltloops and tugged just the lightest bit to bring her closer and DG’s intentions were shared, it seemed.

Now or never.

“No,” she said in a small voice, and sounded like a girl when she said it. Too young to understand what she’d started. Too young to know what to do next. All the times Azkadellia held on too tight and looked at her with all the hope in the world came flooding back to her and she wondered if she just hadn’t been seeing it right. “Az…”

She was interrupted by another kiss and DG could swear that her head was spinning – dizzy and endless and disorienting – and she fell again, this time into the kiss and a little more in love with the beautiful spectre of her sister and the woman she had always and never known. 

*

She ran. 

She let Azkadellia kiss her and then she ran to the nearest bastion and that just happened to be Cain, who was just recently left alone – if the swollen and pink impression on his lips was any indication – and she begged him and told him how much she needed him and asked if he would just drink with her.

“Anything for you, Princess,” had been his quiet and grave answer and his broad hand brushed her cheek and she flushed, wondering if the imprint of Azkadellia’s fingertips was still there (even though they couldn’t be). 

He kept her close and the drinks were constant and they sat there for hours until talk turned to looks and looks turned to a touch and then one turned to two, three, four, and then they lost track of it all. They had staggered to her room at some point and that was where DG started paying attention again.

They tumbled (high on liquors and spirits) into each other’s arms, Cain supporting her back as his fingers slid up to nudge past her bra. All DG felt was the draft of air against her bare back as she pushed up desperately on her toes, brushing his lips with hers and coaxing some feeling in her to equal the feeling she got when she’d kissed Azkadellia. 

There were moments during their endless (and truly pleasant) kiss that she caught him moving to brush his thumb across the middle of her hair, as if parting the hemisphere before remembering there wasn’t the cold steel of a zipper waiting for him. 

As for DG, she kept expecting Azkadellia’s softness and found herself cold for its absence, yearning for it and searching more desperately as she pushed her fingertips over Cain’s forearms, to his neck, to bury in the short strands of his hair and running slowly down his face like raindrops cascading to the ground.

They pressed on in their tight embrace with her chest pressed to his and strands of clothing littering the bedroom. DG was beginning to understand that desperation, in its most quiet state, could undo just about anyone. She exhaled his name against his lips, but it lacked something and when his hand cupped her breast in the fullest of his capacity to be gentle, it still wasn’t as soft as she wanted. 

“Cain,” she murmured now. “Cain,” she exhaled, pulling away. His shirt was fully parted and hers removed. His back lay pressed against the wall and DG swallowed the bitter pill of their reality. “I know.”

Cain’s gaze seemed muddled, confused. The half-drawn picture of Cain that Glitch had asked for lay upon her table, smudges marking the very same jawline she was staring at. 

“I know, about you and Glitch. But you don’t know about me and Az,” she pressed on, determined to finally share her darkest secret with someone who wasn’t the endless darkness of her lonely bedroom at night. “It’s not nearly the same, but I swear, Cain, I understand what you’re going through so much more than you can ever imagine.” She felt like that little girl again, the same one who let go of a hand, the same one who didn’t know what to do when Azkadellia kissed her. “We shouldn’t have to be ashamed of who we love,” she argued, words filled to the brim with desperate and passionate emotion. “You shouldn’t have to make him feel that way and I shouldn’t want to run. I want to run. Cain, I want…”

He kissed her again and quieted the litany of desperation and she grasped hold of the lapels of his shirt and nearly hauled herself up into his arms as he wrapped his arms around her and held her up and the desperation was palpable as she let out a high-pitched and frantic moan against his lips and kissed harder than before. 

I’ll never let go again.

She was the one who pulled away and slid to her feet and he looked at her and she looked back and there was no magic in the air and the desperation was already burning off. 

“Stop hurting him.”

“Stop running away.”

Undressed as they were, they stood and stared at each other, but it wasn’t so much that they were naked without their clothes as they were bare without their filters. He could see into her and understand it all and she knew all his secrets as they were laid bare. He was scared, she was terrified, but there was the hint of recuperation in the distance.

“It’s not the path most take,” Cain quietly admitted as he bent over and picked up her shirt, helping her to slide back into it. Their agreement to not go forward seemed to have happened in a split-second of a moment and they had both understood it with no more than a look. “He’s a zipperhead. She’s your sister. I love my wife. You’re expected to marry and continue the lineage.”

DG wearily stared up at him and brushed her thumb over the tiny mark of lipstick she had left on his lower lip. 

It was Azkadellia’s shade, not even hers.

“I thought you and I both understood that sometimes, you take whatever road gets you home,” DG said quietly. “Even if the bricks are missing and it’s too familiar and off-limits.”

Cain exhaled heavily, but DG could see the wry hint of a smile beneath his lips and she couldn’t help poking at the corners of his mouth with a finger.

“I can see you smiling,” she noted in a deadpan.

“Sorry, Princess,” he offered his apologies. “I’m just wondering how long you spent justifying this with a flimsy little metaphor.”

Far, far too long.

“Are you buying it?”

“I’ve heard worse speeches.”

And there they were, dangling on the thinnest of threads of hope that they could make it work and as she buttoned up his shirt and looked up at him where blue met blue and when he smiled at her, she laughed in turn and she eased up on her tiptoes to give him one last kiss. 

It felt like they were sealing their fate with that, to wander down that perilous road with bricks loose and the dangers not marked.

*

DG was there when Cain wrapped a steady arm around Glitch’s waist and pulled him closer, much to the surprise of both Glitch and herself. “Cain,” he hissed, eyes wide with alarm and landing on DG. “Ix-nay on the issing-kay, the rincess-pay is…”

“Ere-hay?” DG finished politely for him. “Glitch, don’t worry. He and I talked.”

“We’re going to help her out, sweetheart,” Cain murmured and leaned in to press a kiss to Glitch’s lips and to his credit, there was only the mildest of flinches and the barest flicker of hesitation in his eyes. DG let them be for a moment and ignored the whispered conversation they were having (even if she could hear each and every word of it and it mostly had to do with why they were kissing in front of DG and then there was a brief ‘…who are we talking about again?’), all the while DG was taking out a folder containing a single page of paper.

She returned to the both of them and presented it like a peace offering, even if Glitch was never going to know why she felt vaguely guilty (she and Cain had discussed that and decided that it wasn’t a burden Glitch and Azkadellia ought to bear). 

He took it into his hands and mouthed ‘thank you’ to her, though she wasn’t sure whether it was Cain’s mild progress or for the drawing – begrudgingly done in pin-up style, learned from night classes at her local college. 

“So what are we helping you with, sweetcheeks?” Glitch eagerly asked, bringing forth a burst of bemused laughter from DG. 

Maybe the world was still too splintered for her to see the big picture, but she was having a good time looking at all the small panes to be found while they worked with gluesticks and plaster to get it right again.

*

They sat so stiffly together that it was difficult to tell whether they were about to have a conversation or whether this was merely a standstill in a war that was about to fall. Before they had arrived, DG took Azkadellia aside and clasped their hands together, staring up into those haunted and soft brown eyes. “It’s going to be okay,” DG assured, pushing every last note of sincerity that she possessed into those words. “I swear. I swear on my life, this is going to be okay.”

And there they were. 

Azkadellia sat with perfectly stiff posture in one of the chairs and DG perched on the arm of it, trying not to take too much pleasure from the way Azkadellia would rest a possessive hand on the small of her back. Across from them, Glitch was pacing back and forth and fiddling with the zipper in his head and Cain was just leaning against the wall, hat hiding anything but the fact that he was awake.

“We need a plan,” DG broke the ice with the obvious pronouncement. “Azkadellia and I are on the cliff of something and I want to jump. I’m tired of counting to threes. But uh…you know.”

“Your mother,” Cain fielded his assumption with wry bemusement as though he didn’t have his own relationship that could too easily fall to public perception.

Azkadellia’s hand tightened and DG ignored the part of her mind that wanted to resume their explorations beneath silk covers and in half-lit rooms, candles burning down to the wick and the hot wax. She told herself that they could resume those discoveries when this was done and this was more important in the long run.

DG smiled wryly. “Gee, y’think?” she asked, scoffing lightly.

“So you need our help,” Glitch boiled it down to the basics with a gesture at himself and then one in Cain’s direction. He resumed his pacing and Cain simply lifting the toe of his boot to press against the wall, still standing there like a statue that refused to chip and crack away under pressure. “From us.” The three of them turned to Glitch and the decision seemed unanimous. 

They had all thought of it themselves, they just hadn’t dared to speak it aloud.

“Who would you like to be with, kiddo?” Cain asked, of DG, sharing a look with her from across the room. 

It almost made her laugh when she thought of what they were actually doing, spinning a wheel and putting on a show so the whole O.Z. didn’t think they had lost their minds (if you could call following your heart a way to lose your mind). It wasn’t as if the top choice for Advisor in Police matters could go out kissing a zipperhead and the Princesses weren’t meant to have eyes for only each other.

Maybe they were insane. Maybe that was the easiest way to explain it all. 

And Cain somehow wanted DG to choose?

“Az?” DG offered quietly. Azkadellia was the one who had to make her choice and her eyes fell across the room and landed on Cain and nodded the once. “Well, then, Glitch, I’m yours,” she announced with a bright grin.

Later, Azkadellia would whisper into DG’s ear in the midst of kisses and touches that she felt safest around Cain because in the event someone still wanted her dead, he could stop them, whether he loved her or not. 

Right there and then, they had their lies set out for them and a Queendom wouldn’t be anymore the wiser that their monarchy had their secrets hidden in shadows. 

“Time to jump, huh,” Glitch said, crossing the room to press a caring kiss to DG’s forehead, taking her hands in his own and looking more like Ambrose than he had in a very long time. “Take care not to hurt yourself when you land,” he warned quietly. “And I’ll do the same.” He pressed a loving kiss to Azkadellia’s cheek before he crossed the room and lifted Cain’s hat from off his head.

DG didn’t speak, worried to disturb the equilibrium of a moment that seemed to take so much courage to build up to.

“Well, Tin Man?” Glitch announced, cheer and vim, hat in his hands and DG could swear there was the slightest of smiles on Cain’s lips. “You ready to lie your handsome ass off for me?”

“Not the way I would’ve liked it,” Cain admitted heavily. 

“But?” Glitch prodded lightly.

Cain kissed him in reply and DG looked down at Azkadellia and offered the glimmer of a hopeful smile.

If this were insanity, then maybe it wasn’t so very bad.

*

The warnings changed as annuals passed.

“Don’t look back, Princess,” whispered Glitch as he escorted her down an aisle to her future, where robes and thrones and futures awaited, where Azkadellia sat sitting and waiting for her.

“Don’t blink,” warned Cain, who was decked in the finest of clothes as he assisted the Queen and Ahamo to their own seats and shared a graceful bow opposite of Azkadellia as her chosen accompaniment.

When she arrived to the front of the aisle and to stand opposite of Azkadellia, they clasped hands and for a moment, all the world was them and their magic and no one else. DG smiled warmly as she gazed up with love to her sister.

I love you was all Azkadellia had to say in their shared connection and DG took a seat to the new O.Z. around them as it sat in a new arrangement of what it once was and even though the lie still held strong, DG felt she could make it through unharmed.

She was safe so long as she had Azkadellia. 

And she wasn’t ever going to let go.