So there I was, at the bottom of a pit. A simple, dug out pit covered with vines and leaves that they use all the time in cartoons. It was the simplest trap that I should have seen right through. But like an idiot, I sprung it and ended up in a pit. Well, at least I wasn’t alone, although considering the company; I thought I might as well have been. See, the other person in the pit was Derek.
“Vanessa, is that you?” asked Derek when I hit the bottom.
“Derek? What are you doing down here?” I asked.
“I came earlier this morning, but…well, you might be able to guess what happened,” said Derek.
“Derek, I have to tell you…Jack’s back,” I said, feeling slightly ashamed.
He looked at me. From the dim light coming from the top of the hole, I could see his face. He looked pained and shocked all at the same time. The look on his face made me feel like I had done something wrong. Like I had taken his heart, torn it out of his chest, and made him eat it or something.
“You went to Jack? After what he did to you?” asked Derek, sounding like he couldn’t believe it.
“I forgave him. Just like I forgave you Derek,” I replied.
“Did I kill your friend?”
“Yes, actually. And Jack just refused to help Terence. You just outright murdered over twenty of us.”
“How many times do I have to apologize for that?”
“You don’t, I forgave you.”
“Well, you sure like to keep bringing it up.”
“Just leave me alone.”
He pulled out his dagger and I gasped. I scrambled, trying to get up the wall, but he rolled his eyes.
“The knife isn’t for you Vanessa, it’s for me.”
I looked at him in confusion. “What do you mean it’s for you?” He tossed the knife at my feet and knelt down in front of me.
“Do it. You’ll get to finally be rid of me. I won’t get in the way of your relationship with Jack. I’ll never hurt you again. And maybe I’ll be granted with glorious freedom from the cruelties of this world.”
I realized with horror that he wanted me to kill him. He wanted me to kill him because he was a burden and sick of life. I felt tears burning in my eyes, threatening to spill over my cheeks and drop to the ground. I stood against the wall, staring from the dagger to Derek to the spot of light at the top of the hole, the lump in my throat growing bigger and bigger in my throat. Was this what Mickey had meant? Was I to sacrifice a life to save a love that would one day save the kingdom? I hoped against all hope that it wasn’t the right sacrifice, that this was just a bump in the road. When almost three hours had passed, Derek sat up and looked up at me. He saw in my eyes that I wasn’t going to do it. He reached out for the dagger and snatched it up in his hand.
“Watch or not, I really don’t care. As long as I’m not alone when I go, I can go in peace,” said Derek. He took a deep breath and was about to plunge the dagger into his heart when I flew at him and grabbed the dagger. I stabbed it into the dirt wall of the pit and clung onto Derek, the tears finally spilling from my eyes.
I couldn’t stand by and meekly let him die. I had loved him once before, no matter what kind of magic Manny used to make me think otherwise. Derek may have been scarred then, but I had done this to him. All he’d wanted was for me to go to a dance with him, but Manny got in the way, making me kiss Jack. He knew that I would start to cry. He knew I would run to the gazebo. He knew I would find Derek there. He knew Derek was going to ask me to that dance. He knew I wouldn’t be able to say yes. He probably knew Derek would fake his death and run to Pitch’s deception. He’d known everything all along and yet hadn’t stopped any of it from happening. He was supposed to be guarding children. Derek, although fourteen, still qualified as a child. Manny and I were both responsible for pushing the scarred boy over the edge.
“Derek, I’m sorry. This is all my fault. If only I had just said yes to go to that dance with you none of this would have happened,” I said through my sobs.
“How could any of this be your fault? I made everything complicated. I ran to Pitch when I knew what he’d done. I’m the problem. I need to be gone,” said Derek, stroking my hair.
“No! That isn’t true!”I exclaimed. “This is all Manny’s fault.”
“The man in the moon? Please Vanessa, he guards children. How could he be responsible for all of my problems?”
“That day in the gazebo, when you wanted to ask me to that dance, I wanted to say yes. There was a little voice in the back of my head that told me to say yes. Manny was controlling me, making me cry when there was nothing to cry about, making me feel nothing when everyone else was crying. When they told me you were dead, I didn’t shed a tear until almost half an hour later, and all because Manny wanted me to get to know Jack. He’s been controlling my emotions ever since the day Jack showed up.”
“So you don’t really love him?”
“No, I do. Just…I would have been with him sooner or later, but Manny needed sooner. All of this is happening for a reason. He needed you to run to Pitch. He needed us to fight the hobogoblins. There’s a bigger threat coming. All the pieces will fit into place the moment that bigger threat comes along.”
“So, I’m supposed to be the bad guy? Well, I’m nobody’s puppet. Be like Merida. Make our own fate.” He reached for the dagger in the wall, but I pushed his arm back down.
“Derek, maybe making your own fate isn’t such a good thing. I was supposed to make a sacrifice. I don’t know what kind of sacrifice, but I will have to make it.”
“Is that really so good? I’ve sacrificed everything I had, everything I am, because of you, and yet you don’t even love me.”
“That is not true.”
“You told me moments ago that you loved Jack. You can’t have it both ways Vanessa. Either you love me, or you love him.”
“Derek, I don’t…”
“No excuses. If you want him, fly away and leave me to my dagger. You want me, we both leave together and you break up with Jack.”
“But…Derek, Jack and I were supposed to have a daughter who will save the kingdom someday.”
“If you loved me, the kingdom would be nothing to you. You’d trade anything to keep me in your life.”
So this was the sacrifice Mickey was talking about. Derek or the fate of the kingdom? What was more important? I guarded the strength of children all over the world. I could make him strong again. All I had to do was say yes. But how could I do that with the kingdom on the line? Being a Guardian wasn’t fair. There’s no room for choosing both, you have one or the other. So, with tears in my eyes and the future of the kingdom cast aside, I kissed Derek. We held onto each other and I could feel him growing stronger. Really, I could. I can sense stuff like that. Just to be cool, I made a tie out of the wonder sparkles like he’d been wearing on the first day I met him, blue with black stripes. I put it around his neck and smiled.
“There. Now, you have to promise me Derek. You have to stay away from Pitch and dark magic and everything else like that. And your dagger is never going to solve any of your problems. Can you promise me you’ll stay away from it?”
“I’d promise you anything Vanessa.” He kissed me again. I flew out of the pit and threw a rope down for Derek to climb up. When we were at the top, we ran for the tower. I flew up through the window.
The battle had apparently gotten heated while I was sitting in a pit. Merida’s left arm was in a sling, and Hiccup’s good leg was in a cast, making it no longer his good leg. Technically speaking, he didn’t have a good leg anymore. There was a dark girl I didn’t recognize, with her black hair in hundreds of tiny little braids. She had a bandage all up her arm. I didn’t see Jack, but the rest of them finally noticed me. Merida ran over and wanted to hug me, but she thought better of it before she lifted her arm.
“Thank the Lord! Jack’s out looking for you. Second time today,” said Merida.
“What time is it?” I asked. It was dark outside and the moon was out.
“Full past two in the mornin’,” said Merida. “Oh, so be quiet, because a lot of the girls are sleeping.”
“Okay, but could I borrow a rope? Derek’s down there,” I replied. Merida looked livid.
“If there were, I wouldn’t tell you about it. He kidnapped all these girls, I don’t know what would happen if we brought him up here,” said Merida.
I looked around for Jasmine, she always knew what to do in circumstances like this. When I’d searched the room four times, I realized she wasn’t there. I turned to Merida.
“Where’s Jasmine?” I asked.
“She fell in battle. Why do you think I don’t want him up here? Aladdin would kill him! For that matter, so would almost everyone, including me.”
“You guys can’t just put it aside for two minutes?”
“No! If I forgive him now, what’s the point of even staying? I would be lying to myself and so would anyone who forgave him. Including you.”
“You hate him. I can see it burning in the back of your mind. Anything that you say or do with him is all fake. He means nothing to you! Admit it!”
“He means something to me!”
“Would you trade his life for Jack’s?”
That question made me pause. What if I just had? What if saving Derek meant losing Jack forever? If that was true, maybe what I’d just done was a mistake. If Jack found out…I didn’t even want to think of what might happen.
“Merida, what should I do with Derek?”
“What, you didn’t want the truth? Fine. Send him back to his fortress.”
That actually wasn’t a bad idea. I flew out the window and landed next to Derek.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to go in there. Maybe you should just go back to your base.”
Derek looked angry. “Well, I guess I’ll be killing myself then. Goodbye.” Then he turned around and stalked away. I wanted to stop him, but I knew I couldn’t.
I flew back up into the tower. Merida seemed happy that Derek wasn’t with me. She settled down for bed and I sat up waiting for Jack. He came almost two hours later. He probably wouldn’t have known it was me except for the fact that I was making random stuff out of wonder sparkles and then turning it back into sparkles, repeating the process again and again. When he saw me, he ran at me and scooped me up in a bear hug. I hugged him back, happy that he was okay.
“Where were you?” asked Jack.
“I fell in a pit. But I’m not hurt,” I said.
“Thank God. So, what happened?”
“It was that stupid simple trap from all those cartoons. You know those ones they cover with leaves to make it look like there’s nothing there. Yeah, I can’t believe that I fell for that.” Jack laughed.
“Well, I found some stuff out. Like what we’re going to face in a few days. And the worst part is, the only way to get rid of it is with a sacrifice.” I gasped. This was important. I settled down as he told me everything he’d found out.
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