“Thank you,” I smile at her effusive praise. If there is one thing I adore about Lucky, it is the way no thought is ever kept prisoner in her mind. She shares almost every semi-coherent utterance which forms inside her brain. That makes her incredibly honest, and completely trustworthy.
“I’d ask if the other Essence soldiers will accept the change, but I’ve seen how you do takeovers and I think we all know they won’t have any choice.”
“They will respect the will of Tyrant, and of the crown…”
“Or else,” she finishes with a fierce little expression on her face.
“Or else,” I agree. “How much did you hear?”
“Do you mean, did I hear that I was taken here to be your test to see if you could be king? Yeah. I heard that. And also the whims of your heart… gag.”
Gag indeed. This little human and I are very much in accord.
“Okay, bye then! Bye for now!”
Lucky stays on the intercom for miles and many minutes past the transmission point as our shuttle draws away, leaving Tyrant, Tania and Atom standing in the beautiful yard of their new Pandari home. I wonder what the future will hold for them. I know that leaving a life behind is not as easy as asking to be stranded on a far-flung colony. But these are not my problems. I have a different problem, and her name is Lucky.
We are attempting to have a romantic meal while orbiting the outer moon of the Pandari nebula, but nothing ever goes smoothly where Lucky is concerned. She has climbed into my lap and she is holding my food hostage for compliments and sweet words.
“Tell me again.” Her voice is hopeful and wistful. I know exactly what she wants to hear, even though she has not been remotely specific.
“I love you.”
Lucky smiles so broadly she is transformed, light sparkling in her eyes, and even more flickering off the piercings I never had the heart to make her remove.
“Okay, but tell me again.”
“I love you, brat.”
“Okay, but tell me another way.”
I sigh inwardly.
“Lucky. I adore you. You are the most precious creature in all existence, and I would die for you. Now, can we finish our meal?”
She takes another bite, before launching into another set of statements which very much get in the way of eating anything.
“My old boyfriends used to call me clingy and needy.”
“I prefer to describe your current behavior as affectionate and effusive.”
“You really do like me, huh.”
It has been over a month since I became king, but I am learning that four weeks, whatever solar cycle they might represent, are not enough to undo the damage of useless human caregivers and partners and the general emotional war zone which the typical human seems to have to exist in. She is wounded, but she is healing.
I made things worse, for a time, by refusing to acknowledge my own feelings for her, for believing that I was so much better than her, that she did not deserve my love, and that my feelings themselves were a shameful weakness. I thought she was too broken a creature to become engaged with, and that keeping my distance would keep us both safe. But I underestimated the desperation and power of a woman in love. Lucky would have destroyed herself to be with me, and keeping her at a distance only hurt her.
Now I know better. Becoming king has taught me that sacrifice and a humble heart go a lot further than arrogance and cruelty. Tyrant renounced the crown for his family. Now I wear it, and I feel the weight of the responsibility it comes with rather than the power I might wield with it.
Tyrant was wise when he commanded me to take a human. She has changed me. She has softened me. And she has made me wiser and more powerful than I ever imagined I would be.
It was not Tyrant I set off to defend when I got in that shuttle. It was this human in my lap, the woman for whom I would end myself a thousand times over if need be. What she saw as the act of a mad royal loyalist was an act of loving sacrifice. She may never understand that, and it does not matter.
I love her more than I knew it was possible to love anyone or anything. I have loved her from the beginning, and I will love her all the way to…