Word Count: 2, 141
This fanfiction includes character information that surpass that of what is written on their pages.
Also, read the 'If He has Erred, on His Head be It' first so you can understand as much as possible what is happening.
The Yankee found himself being dragged onto the floor, face-down. His arms were pulled over him with as little care as possible. His legs were tied tightly together. His peripheral vision told him that torches hung across the stone walls, and there were also windows draped with velvet curtains of maroon red.
The color Nicole loved.
The color of her blood as it dried on her golden armor.
The color of his heart as all emotion fled from it.
He groaned. The arm that yanked (ha!) on him pulled tighter. "Finally, you're awake."
With as much effort and equal amount of pain, he put his head up. His whole body was sore. "Wh-where?"
"Alisande's Estate," a familiar voice said. Clearly, he was trying to be blunt, avoiding as much conversation as possible. Painfully, the Yankee managed a smirk.
"Lance," he wheezed, "Nice to see you too, old friend."
"We're not friends," Lance's sword clanged against his armour. The Yankee squinted to see it. It looked just like Nicole's sword, silver instead of her bronze. The height, the hilt, all of it was just the same. His chest panged with grief, guilt and absolute self-loathing.
The young Lancelot stopped hauling the American and abruptly stopped walking altogether.
"Why am I here?" The Yankee asked bitterly. Alisande's Estate. Alisande, of course.
Lance chuckled. "Dishonourable of you, considering suicide after a massacre. The Queen ordered you to stop. You went into a bloodlust rage after that."
"I asked why I was here, du Lac," he tried to desperately reassemble his facade. "Not what happened after-" He trailed off.
"You killed Nicole?" Lance continued, "In case you didn't realize, she was my friend too, as well as Lady Carteloise. Who, might I mention, you should be thankful for. Your murderous scene three days ago earned enough for all of Camelot to order for your death. You killed more that just knights, Yankee. That didn't happen in the story!"
Lance's grasp weakened as he looked down at a disheveled mop of dirty blond hair. "Lady Carteloise had to pay Queen Pendragon for permission to handle your death sentence personally. That doesn't happen in the story either."
The Yankee was speechless. It was not all a dream. He had killed Nicolette Knightley.
He had killed Nicolette Knightley.
He had killed Nicolette Knightley.
He had killed Nicolette Knightley.
That, in fact, had happened in the story. And it was the only death that mattered.
"I killed her." He muttered. He muttered over and over again.
Lance pulled the Yankee to stand, despite his being bound. "Yes, you killed her. You killed more than just her! It hurts for everyone who lost someone, and I can't believe you. Everyone in Camelot wants you dead, and I'd do it myself if Lady Carteloise wasn't asking for you."
The Yankee's grieving trance stopped promptly. "Who is this Lady Carteloise? You're supposed to pledge allegiance to the Queen, not a distant relative."
"I'm surprised you don't know of Valorie," the anger in his voice hadn't quite dissipated yet, "And I do work for the Queen. The Lady's wishes do not perpetrate that of her Highness, so I am permitted to give services and help. Now walk, the castle is bigger than you may have thought, and the Lady cannot be kept waiting. Neither can I maintain my resolve without running you through with my sword."
Lance's sword hung against his armour. The Yankee's heart beat loudly in his chest. The knight drew his sword and severed the rope that tied the Yankee together.
They walked in silence.
"He's here, my Lady," Lance announced as the pair walked through a large set of dark oak double doors. "I will take my leave." Lance glanced carefully at the Yankee, wishing to see the American's reaction once the Lady would turn to face them both. He shook his head. He did not want to see the lady's well-sculpted face. He had enough heartbreak for the week. Lance nodded at the Yankee and curtly left.
The Yankee apparently did know Lady Martin, though under a different name. He entered the lavish room. Candelabras adorned the dining table, its length oddly peculiar as to the number of guests she had. She sat at the head of the table, as opposed to Queen Bryony's round table where there was no head.
Lady Carteloise, he now realised, had changed so little from when he last so her.
"Sandra de Martin," he said. "So, are we here to discuss the terms of my deaths sentence?"
Her auburn brown locks flounced as she stood with surprising tranquil, "Hello, Yankee." She stalked closer to him. Like all, she had heightened over the past years. Her style and taste remained the same, as she always left with her dresses of black and gold. She was Sandra de Martin, the enigma of Ever After High. Yet at the same time, she was not Sandra de Martin. She never was.
"Oh, right," He said bitterly, "It's Valorie Carteloise, isn't it? And apparently, you are also very destined to be someone in my story, and you clearly failed to mention this to me in the eight years that we've known each other, or can I say I've known you at all?"
She cleared her throat. "I am Lady Valorie Carteloise, yes. My destiny is to be your Alesandine, and it appears we both went off-script. I'm not here to kill you. I brought you to my estate to save you."
"Save me? You practically bought me with a lie to the Queen then, saying you planned on killing me," the Yankee snarked. "You pay her so that you can end my life, but you decide I needed saving. Don't you get it? I want to be dead!"
"I could just let you rot in the dungeons. No noble estate would be complete without them," Valorie smiled devilishly, "But I didn't, though I did let Lance leave you there for the past couple of days. I should say you needed it."
"How so?" The Yankee narrowed his eyes, asking for a challenge like he did with Queen Pendragon.
"The craziest, wildest and riskiest of actions are done under the influence of grief or love," she explained matter-of-factly.
"Double whammy then, huh?" He laughed nervously.
Valorie spread her hand to gaze at the back of it and grinned once more. "Yes, you and Nicole. Strange, how you never got to explain to her how you felt, though it appears you already have trouble explaining it to yourself." She twisted the gem of the ring on her fourth digit. Her brown eyes met with his own glass blue irises. Valorie was returning his challenge.
The Yankee's eyes widened significantly as their gaze dropped on the ring. A thin gold band decorated with a single square garnet. It was the ring. The same ring that dusted itself in a red box. The same ring he planned on giving Nicole for... reasons. The same ring that now rested on Sandra de Martin's delicate finger.
"Where did you get that," the Yankee's jaw stiffened. "That was supposed to be-"
"At the bottom of a lake," the brunette finished, "Precious things come easily to me now. Besides, it's a shame Nicole never got to see it. She's hardly ever had time for anyone anymore since the day we all graduated at the University.
"But her time is up," the lady took of the ring. "Take it. It seems to be discomforting for you, and all I wanted was to talk." She set the ring on the table, where it remain unmoved from then on.
The Yankee tried to pave the cement on every wall in his mind. "I recall that Sandy was a noble, but I don't think she was this rich. You married a lord? I mean, I knew you always hated your destiny, so you probably went out of the book."
Valorie visibly smiled at the mention of her new found richness. "No. I hated my family. My opinion on my prewritten path can be... arguable. I would've made off with a wealthy lord if destiny didn't see otherwise. My current treasure is all a gift from Maureen."
"Merlin?" He said aghast. In Queen Bryony's court, he had seen again the purple-clad witch, smiling deviously with her silver hair and scary fire-blue eyes. "You asked for a favour?"
"Called it in," she answered, "Merlin still owes me from our few days in Ever After. She hates you quite strongly, did I not mention? She's always been close to Nicole, even if it wasn't obvious then. And now that you've killed the knight, after having mirrored affection for so long, distaste has developed into absolute hatred."
"Of course," the Yankee laughed. "And as your usual manipulative self, you played witch more that Maureen and promised to have me punished, in return for absolute wealth and power. I definitely won't judge you for that. After all, you paid my life for all this. It definitely was worth it. Maureen lost. I lost. You win grand prize."
"Don't act like you've done any good," she sneered, "Last I checked, you just killed Nicole under a challenge and murdered a large portion of the Camelot common-folk in cold blood, mostly to ease yourself. You didn't just go out of the story, you went out of your mind."
"Oh, so it's my fault that these people are dead?"
"You pretend it isn't," she cocked her head to the side, "but it is. You killed these people, because you imagined it was fun. I hate it. People are flawed, but all the people I care about are so much worse. My mother's a weakling who can't let go of the man she once loved. My dad's a coward who can't trust his wife when she says she loves him. You... you're just like both of them. You can't accept your own emotions, so you decide to kill it!"
"-an accident to kill Nics. Yeah, we know that. You didn't know it was her under the visor. We get that you're grieving. But that fact that you decided to go on a killing spree for her? How cold can you get?"
An apology danced on the Yankee's tongue. No. Not yet. He needed his pride to be deeply wounded if he imagined he was going to beg for forgiveness.
He got a slap instead. A painful, face-burning, palm-on-cheek slap, parented by Valorie's right hand.
"Those other people you killed? You certainly don't give a single care for them. Or Lance's sister, who happened to be a casualty in your massacre. Lance could care less about Nicole when it comes to Lana, but you killed them both!" She picked the ring on the table and tossed it across the room, the garnet popping off on impact and shattering on the cobblestone floor that was not covered with a carpet.
"You can take this thing you call love and go kill another twenty people," she spat, "But it's to avenge Nicole, so it's not wrong." She spread her arms wide and smiled madly.
The Yankee fell to his knees. "I'm sorry," he managed to mumble.
"Destiny had other plans," she walked around the length of the table and closer to Yankee so she can lean into his ear. "You were supposed to be worshipped by Camelot, the man greater than Pendragon. You brought this up to yourself. The Yankee was meant to go down alone, embittered. You hated that future, so here's your other one."
Her voice dropped from a whisper to a snarl. "You can die, and I'll make sure it's more painful than anything that silly author of our story can cook up. I'll make sure those people who died won't be left alone, because you'll be joining them. I'll cut you open, and pour out every single cry you can make. Nicole never would've approved, but she definitely isn't here now."
The pain that racked both their senses was palpable in the room. Both their wounds were still fresh, or finally reopened. The bitterness of his own stupid actions mixed with the grief of her loss.
They were covered with them.
Wounds for Nicole Knightley.
For Lana du Lac.
Valorie's pain flooded.
The true reason she was at the lake when she found the ring. A stream of tears cascaded down her cheeks. A drop landed on the Yankee's skin, a mix of his pain and hers as the tears fell together and melded in an unending freefall.
"You wanted to rewrite your path, you let go of the pen and let it write itself."
She stood and brushed the Yankee's ragged breathing from her atmosphere. Lady Carteloise sashayed to the double doors and swung them open wide.
"Give him what he deserves."