Part 34: Chapter 25C: DamiendChapter 25C: Damiend
Slight note here: I'm using an alternate save for the pre-exam part of this update, so you'll see some discrepancies between these first few scenes and the exam ones. Hope that doesn't spoil your immersion or anything
Now comes the hard part- making Potsdam see things that way. That said, I don't think I'd have too hard a time of it. After all, apart from a few missteps here and there, I've actually been a much better student here in Iris than I ever was in the mortal world. I've got myself a few merit points, high levels in most of my Magics- yeah, I can do this.
Besides, apart from a few quirks which I've become used to, Potsdam really is one of the more reasonable members of the faculty- I'm sure she can help me out on this.
Okay, look, I begin, I know it sounds strange, but I know it'll work out, trust me!
Oh, my little leveret," Potsdam sighs. "Trusting people overmuch is what got you into this mess! If I didn't know better, I'd have thought he cast a spell on you! Have you forgotten so quickly that he tried to kill you?"
"But he didn't," I pointed out. "He couldn't- he'd already changed his mind before you arrived."
Potsdam wouldn't relent, though. Even if you believed that, he wounded you badly, she says. Perhaps you're right, perhaps he did change his mind- but if that's the case, what is to keep him from changing it again?
Damn, she's got me there. The best counter I could offer is a weak I don't know... but if he's really giving up his evil ways and looking for a fresh start? I'd say he deserves a chance.
Saying I'm shocked is an understatement. This must be what ticking Zeus off must feel like. You... I sputter, trying to force the words through my throat. You knew what he was planning to do?
Oh, I know many things, Mary, Potsdam says with a cheerful smile, and suddenly it's the beginning of the year all over again, with whatever it is lurking behind her cheerful facade terrifying the hell out of me. I had hopes about that young man and his future, she went on, before her face hardened into a mask of quiet fury. But the line has been crossed, and I must not show him any support at all now!
Not that I was willing to let go without a fight. You said it yourself that Damien's committed no crime!
And I also said that it does not matter, Potsdam says quietly. Not for me, nor for this school. Did you hear that, all of you?
It's only at that point that I realize that we've attracted an audience- other students staring at me as if I'd lost my mind.
And who could blame them?
There are acts for which being sorry is not enough, Potsdam says. Gaining the forgiveness of your victim is not enough. Being technically legal is not enough, she says sternly- right before she terrifies all of us.
Sparks fly from her multicoloured hair. The ambient temperature suddenly drops, and a slight layer of frost form on the windows. It doesn't last long before melting, but all present are reminded that despite how she usually acts, Professor Potsdam is one of the most powerful witches at Iris.
And just as suddenly as the storm came, it's now clear. Now, was that all you wanted? she asks sweetly, and I could only nod dumbly as she walks off, leaving me in the middle of a crowd whispering things- Damien' and Brainwashing being the most prominent fragments. I guess I have to write Damien and tell him he can't come to the ball- after I handle some more personal problems.
The additional question marks make it festive~!
What?! Ellen says disbelievingly, before turning to me. Mary... you wouldn't.
I find myself holding my hands up placatingly again. Look, that's not exactly what happ-
Oh really?! Virginia snorts. Because I heard you asked professor Potsdam to let him come to the ball. You know, because he's *~your boyfriend~* now.
That's kind of true, I begin. But-
Mary! Ellen gasps in shock.
What is wrong with you?! Virginia adds, throwing her arms up in exasperation. HE! TRIED! TO! KILL! YOU!
He's changed his mind! I protest, but even I could hear how lame that was.
How is that an excuse?! Ellen says disbelievingly.
Virginia's shaking her head. How could you forgive him? she asks. After all he's done to you?!
And here we see my first Mary Sue! Pity it couldn't have been in better circumstances, sadly.
My roommates stare at me, and I shift awkwardly in place, until-
Get out, Virginia says. Get out, Mary. If you're going back to him, even after everything he's put you through, then I don't want anything to do with you. You;re destroying yourself- might as well say goodbye now.
Come on, I say. You don't really mean that, do you? I ask, but I only receive silence. I turn to Ellen- surely she'll help me out, right?
You and everyone else in the thread, Ellen.
My eyes bug out in disbelief. But this is my room too!
You can come back to sleep, Ellen says. But no more. Leave.
I look to Ellen, then to Virginia, but there's no refuge to be found here. Unless I want to sleep, of course. ...Fine, I hiss, then stomp out the room. I lean against the hallway and slide to the floor. Who needs them anyway? If they were really my friends, they'd support me. Right?
The last two days of school pass by... uncomfortably, to say the least. Everywhere I go, I'm greeted by hushed, harsh whispers that die down as I approach. Ellen and Virginia won't speak to me, and evenings in our dorm room comprises us all doing our own things in complete silence. As far as Professor Potsdam's concerned, nothing's changed, but Grabiner told me in no uncertain terms that I was banned from his classes henceforth, so I spend my final days not studying Black and White Magic.
And then, as if that wasn't enough, the final day of school hits me with one last indignity.
This can't be right! I say, panic making me screechy. We're all scheduled for the same time!
Don't you know? Virginia says coldly from behind me. The finals exam is a group exam.
So if one of us fails, Ellen says from beside her, in equally frosty tones, we all fail.
And so, after class we all meet up in front of the examination room as instructed.
It will not be easy to find, she goes on to say, and there are many dangers, so you need to work together to succeed. Good luck! she finishes, before the world turns hazy and we're teleported into darkened chamber.
Or at least, it was dark until Ellen casts a Light spell, and the glowing sphere she makes reveals a vast dark space, empty and silent, far from any wall or landmark. Virginia's more affected than the rest of us, apparently. Put that light out! she hisses. It might attract monsters!
But we wouldn't be able to see! I protest.
Then huddle closely, Ellen says. If we huddle around it, the light wouldn't go far.
We do as she says. Okay, now what? Virginia asks, but after a few moments with no booming voice, we realize Professor Potsdam's instructions are all we're getting.
All right, I begin, but Ellen cuts me off.
Mary, wait, she says. Before we begin, we... we should talk.
And we're back to the Mary we all know and are currently shaking our heads in despair at!
I wanted to talk to you before! Ellen says I just wasn't sure you'd listen.
And I'm telling you she won't, Virginia scowls, turning away.
We have to try! Ellen tells her, before turning to me. Mary... you and Damien- I'm sure you can see why we're upset, don't you?
Ellen, it's not about you, I say, but Ellen cuts me off again before I could go any further.
Maybe, but that's not how this is! I protest. He really wants to change!
I told you, she won't listen, Virginia says, her voice breaking slightly as she turns away from me again. Later, after the test, I'd realize that she was trying not to cry, but at that moment, I was too caught up in my own emotions to pay attention.
People always say they would change, Ellen protests. But they don't! They never do!
How could either of you say if Damien's changed? I counter. None of you ever got to know him!
And you did? Ellen responds. And Mary? We may not know Damien, but we we know you. We... we're afraid you might get seriously hurt.
She already was, Virginia whispers, just loudly enough for me to hear.
Ellen ignores her. Next time, Mary, she says, there might not be a professor to help you. So it's up to us. She takes a deep breath before continuing, I don't want to do this, but... if it's the only way to make sure, the only way to show you how important this is to us...
Or else what? I sneer.
Or else I quit, and we all fail, Ellen says with quiet determination, causing my jaw to drop to far down, and so quickly, I'd swear I'd struck oil.
Fuck yeah, Ellen I'm really glad you guys voted her the next love interest.
Wh... what? I stammer out.
I'm sorry! I don't want to! Ellen replies. I want to pass this test, I really do! I want to prove that I can be a good witch!
She pauses to wipe a tear from her eyes. But if that means making my friend suffer, then it's not worth it. And if that's what it takes for you to understand that I'm serious, then that's what I'll do.
Before you ask, Mary, Virginia says. I'm totally cool with this. I don't really care about my grades anyway. The real question is: do you care? she snarls. You're already making yourself miserable- why should it matter to you if Ellen's miserable too?
Virginia, enough, Ellen says, holding up her hand before turning back to me. So make your choice, Mary- will you promise us, will you give your solemn oath that it's over between you and Damien?
The room is quiet for a moment, and I have a silent epiphany. I know exactly what I must do- and what the consequences would be. I promise, I whisper, then take a deep breath. I promise never to speak to Damien again.
Thank you! Ellen laughs, relieved, while a stunned Virginia gapes from behind her. I'm suddenly pulled into Ellen's arms.
-work on finishing this exam? I ask, Ellen being too busy sobbing to answer properly.
The rest of the exam proceeds just as before, all the way up to the celebrations, so I think we can skip those bits.
Confession time: In this path, Mary is, by default, a very passive character, even forgetting about the whole 'promises are a big deal' thing. Since I've been writing Mary up to this point as a very pro-active character, I thought it'd be out of character for her to suddenly turn into a simpering wreck. Also because passive Mary creeped me out for reasons I'll elaborate on at the end of the update.
I look down at the pink dress Ellen bought me the previous weekend- she had so much faith in me, even then. I knew you were a good person at heart, she told me, when she presented it. Truth be told, the dress was a little too small for me, and pink wasn't really my colour (my eyes and hair are genetic!), but I didn't have the heart to tell her. Or the voice, considering I broke into tears then. Ellen and Virginia had assumed then that I was touched by their support and sympathy, and they weren't wrong.
Too bad they were only half-right. Too bad they didn't know about the note I wrote.
Ellen, Virginia, for what it's worth- I'm sorry.
Mary? someone says from behind me. I sigh, take a deep breath, and turn around. I open my mouth, and suddenly, I feel my lips freeze. It's actually hard to talk, and it seems my body's a lot more law-abiding than my mind.
Sorry, body, but this decision was made for you... well, not 'long ago' per se, but long ago enough. I suddenly feel the urge to laugh- I'm actually curious about what might happen. God help me, part of me is actually anticipating what's about to happen. Hopefully, I'd be left with that little shard of myself when all's done.
Mary? Damien asks, suddenly concerned. Mary, is something wrong?
I stifle another giggle. I wonder what he's seeing? A girl who can't seem to decide whether to sob or laugh, caught choking back laughter and sobs, trembling in terror and mirth, perhaps? Or maybe I'm overselling myself. It doesn't matter. After the next few seconds, nothing won't- or at least, nothing I'd remember.
I stand up, straighten myself out, and doom myself. Hello, Damien, I say.
I force back another round of laughter- of course he isn't doing this. I know exactly why this is happening. I do gasp, however, as something is taken from me, something I never knew I'd miss but never knew I had, something that was an essential part of me. When light and sounds rush back into me, I feel empty. Emptier than I felt when Damien took part of my soul. Back then, I felt drained- incomplete, yes, but not broken.
Now however... all that's left of Mary Sue is a husk. All that can be made of Mary Sue... is a husk.
Mary...? Damien asks, kneeling down next to me. Mary... oh Mary, what have you done?
I shake my head. I made a solemn vow, Damien, I tell him. I vowed never to speak to you again. Oops, I smirk wanly.
Oh Mary, Mary... Damien whispers, as he takes me into his arms. Why? I'm not worth it, Mary! I'm not!
I hold him like I never want to let go. And I don't- I want to hold him close, I want this memory to be seared into my subconscious because I've come to realize I never want to forget him, even on my basest level. Come on, Damien, I sob against his chest. I'm a- I'm big girl, I can decide that f-for myself.
You innocent... Damien whispers.
I didn't want to lose you! I cry. I couldn't bear never seeing you again! And between that and never remembering you...
Mary, Damien whispers again before suddenly pulling away from me. We have to leave, now!
I know, I say, wiping the tears from my eyes. I-
Mary, Damien interrupts, placing a finger on my lips. I said 'we', he says, holding out a hand. Come on! I have to get you away as fast as I can! We need to hurry! Please, Mary, I need you to-
Trust you? I say, trying to keep the swelling hope in my chest from drowning me.
I do the one thing I can. I take his hand.
I stand at the top of the fortress, built upon a peak of obsidian. Down below, two innumerable hordes of demons battled, one horde doing so uselessly- I was standing in the very fortress they were trying to defend. In a few moments, the infiltration force will turn their own defensive weapons upon them. A few potshots, and the flying of our banners on the fortress's topmost parapets should be enough to cow the survivors into my service.
Well, our service.
Damien appears from behind me with two wine-filled glasses, liberated from the fortress's previous owner. What's left of him is being gently blown away by the breeze. To us?
To us, I confirm. And to the rest of the Archdukes falling in line.
Damned right, I smirk. We make a pretty good team, don't we? It's nice having you by my side.
And by your side only shall I ever remain, Damien laughs. Regardless of who says otherwise. Besides, considering this whole victory was your plan, I'd say it's a good place to be at.
I nod, and look over our victorious army. Our greatest victory yet, a moment to remember, a memory spoiled only by others that enter at the same time.
I remember Virginia, crying into my arms because she had to be who she had to be, not who she wanted to be. I remember Ellen, having to live in the shadow of her younger sister, even after being accepted to Iris. I remember that meeting after the claw machine with Potsdam, about how magic-users had to live in fear simply because of who they were.
None of them- Ellen, Virginia, Potsdam, wizardkind- none of them knew any better; I bore them no ill-will. After all, they didn't have the chance I now have, or anyone like Damien, who'll take it with me.
"Your parents and their masters created you to cause fear," I say quietly. "What say you that we end it?"
"Huh?" Damien responds, bewildered. I shake my head, and turn to him.
"Nothing," I smile. "At least, nothing that can't wait a few hours," I say, as I seize the front of his collar and draw him close. For now, I want to lose myself in the oblivion of Damien's kiss.
The end of the world as I don't want to know it can wait.
And there you have it, the final actual ending for Damien's plotline (though the entire Epilogue bit is just my *~fanfictions~*).
To be honest though? I hate it. While Damien's whole route is a take on the 'bad boy reforms through love' routine you so often see in fanfics (hell, I'm guilty of it myself) as well as real life, the 'abusive boyfriend' aspect of it is played up a hell of a lot more in this path than in the ones where Mary doesn't inform Potsdam, because in this route Mary's a whole lot more passive, to the point where it goes from being annoying to downright uncomfortable. Maybe I'm just a little too sensitive about these things, but while the happy ending does fit in with being a Mary Sue, the route's undertones (overtones?) just don't sit well with me.
Anyway, what's done is done. Stay tuned for the Ellen path, coming soon!