The WRONGWAY Legacy
Generation Five, Part Four:
Maddie met up with Lee in Belladonna Cove, and realised it might be time to reunite with the family. Lance, Leda & Lance’s girlfriend, Gold, travelled to Belladonna to meet the family. Leda tried to express her concerns about the lack of meaning to her existence, but felt ignored. Tank and Maddie had a heart to heart which ended with a kiss. Ralph asked Ariel to stop hunting the Wrongways, and she declared she couldn’t as they had ruined her family. Leda walked out of a family dinner, after yelling about feeling pointless and inferior to Maddie. Lavender and Hex searched the streets for her, but ended up arguing, while Tank tried to convince Maddie she is still the right choice for heir. Meanwhile, Ariel found Leda, and convinced her that the solution to her problems was to kill Maddie…
Lavender and Hex hadn’t spoken since their disagreement about Leda the night before. Dawn had come and Leda still hadn’t been found, leaving Lavender quieter than usual. On top of this, it appeared she was avoiding Hex.
“Good morning,” Hex called as entered the hotel’s dining room. Lavender gazed at him briefly, before looking away.
Hex sighed, and took a seat at her table.
“You’re not still mad at me, are you?” Hex asked, quietly, “Because I’m sorr-”
“No. I’m more mad at myself.” Lavender answered, in a tight voice.
Hex was confused, “Why?”
“I shouldn’t have lost my temper with you like that.”
“Don’t be silly, Lavender. You were right,” Hex sighed, “I’ve been really selfish lately, and it’s not all about me. I need to do a better job as a guardian, and as a person.”
“You’re only human, Hex,” Lavender said, softly, “You’re never going to be perfect.”
“Even so, I should be doing a better job. I owe to you to be better, at least.”
“You don’t owe me anything. You know that,” Lavender told him, “Are you sure you’re okay?”
Hex sighed a little, “I don’t know. But I’m trying.”
“No one can fault you for trying, Hex. But it’s reasonable, even expected, not to be okay all the time. You’re allowed to fall apart.”
“Not without good reason.” Hex argued, but his tone was unconvincing.
“We can sort this out, Hex. We may be trying to keep my family together, but you’ve been around long enough to be considered part of the family.”
“That might be part of the problem, Lavender. I’m not part of the family. I’m an outsider with far too much influence over something that doesn’t involve me.”
“I don’t belong here, Lavender. And I’m sure the Wrongways would do perfectly fine without me.”
“You can’t think like that, Hex,” Lavender replied, a concerned look on her face, “Besides, I need you.”
“I need you because you make me a better person, Hex. I’m stronger with you behind me than ever before, and that’s why I need you.”
He should have been flattered, he knew that. But instead he felt dread – people depending on him, even loving him, had never ended well before.
“I love you, Lavender,” He murmured, but he wasn’t quite sure she heard him.
* * *
The morning was unveiling itself to be a bright and beautiful one, and Lance couldn’t think of a better excuse to go outside and explore, with his wonderful girlfriend in tow. They had ended up in the park, a fairly bare stretch of land on the edge of the city.
“I can dance better than he can,” Lance boasted, with a grin. Gold raised an eyebrow, but she was smiling.
“I’d like to see you try.”
“Okay, okay. Maybe I can’t. What do you say we give this guy a break and go for a walk?”
“Sounds like a plan to me, Lance,” Gold smiled, “There’s something I want to ask you, anyway.”
They started to stroll down one of the paths, “What is it?”
“How are you coping with Leda’s disappearance?”
Lance was surprised, “She’s upset, Gold. She doesn’t know what she’s doing.”
“Lance…don’t you think she’s being a little selfish?”
“No! She can’t be accounted for all of this when she’s so upset,” Lance sighed, “Even though she knows better than this.”
Gold said nothing, letting him continue.
“She never used to be like this,” Lance admitted, sadly, “I miss my twin.”
“She’ll come back to you, Lance.”
“I hope so.” His voice came out as a whisper, as Lance tried not to cry. A wave of sympathy washed through Gold.
“Hey,” Gold said, quietly, “It’ll be okay. Things will work out somehow. She’ll be fine, right? Maddie was, and she disappeared for a whole year!”
“Maddie and Leda are really different though…”
“I know. But they’re both strong in different ways, Lance. She’ll be fine.”
“I’m so glad I have you,” Lance said, suddenly. He was feeling a little better from his girlfriend’s good advice.
“Good,” She smiled, “Because I’m not going anywhere.”
“Oh yeah, about that. There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you…”
“Gold Elizabeth Wheeler, will you marry me?”
“Lance!” Gold gasped, and slipped the ring out of the box, “How long have you been carrying this around?”
“Quite a while,” He chuckled, rising to his feet, “So is that a yes?”
“I love you, Gold,” Lance said, setting her back on the ground gently, “More than anything.”
“I love you too, soppy,” Gold grinned, “Come on, I want to see more of the city before we head back and tell your mother.”
* * *
Hex and Lee were strolling down a street of closed up nightclubs and other small businesses, though Hex hadn’t said why they were out.
“If we’re just going for a pleasurable stroll, could we do it later?” Lee asked, lightly, “I want to explore this city for myself, not just for Leda.”
Hex rolled his eyes, “I wanted to talk to you.”
“And we had to walk a mile before you felt you could do that?”
“You’re definitely in a good mood.”
Hex pulled Lee to a stop next to a small café, “Look, I wanted to apologise to you.”
Hex frowned, “Why not? I was really hard on you about Maddie leaving, when you were just doing what you thought was best.”
“I got one thing right. There’s lots of mistakes I’ve made.”
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes too, Lee. It never gets any easier, but it’s fine. You can learn from mistakes.”
Lee appeared to wince, “I made a mistake relating to you, Hex.”
There was moment of silence.
“What do you mean?”
“It started awhile ago, and I did it the first time without really thinking,” Lee gave a nervous smile, “I didn’t think about it for quite a bit, actually. But-”
“Lee. What are you on about?”
Lee took a deep breath.
“The reason you haven’t been ageing is because I’ve been slipping elixir into your morning coffee,” Lee stated, “I only stopped doing it this week. I realised it wasn’t my decision to make.”
“Why did you do that?” Hex asked, tightly. His face was void of any particular expression, but his steady voice was unsettling.
“I didn’t think I could manage on my own,” Lee admitted, “I didn’t think I could handle the guardian thing, or anything else, without your guidance. So I did what any selfish bastard would do. I stopped you from growing old.”
“Let me get this straight,” Hex said, steadily, “You decided to ignore my wishes of having a normal future with Lavender, of growing old and finally doing something I want to do, because you were scared of being alone?”
Lee stared at Hex for a moment, wondering if he was about to explode into anger.
“Yeah, I’m selfish. I told you that,” Lee sighed, “I think I should go.”
“You’re just going to spring that on me, then leave?” Hex asked, irritated.
Lee glanced at Hex, “Yeah. I don’t think I should be here.”
Lee turned away and began walking down the street, while Hex watched.
“We’re going to talk about this later!” Hex yelled, suddenly. He raised a hand to his forehead.
This break was not going anything like he thought it would.
* * *
In West Belladonna, something sinister was happening behind closed doors. Red smoke pooled over the top of an old iron, cauldron, as the stirrer added yet another ingredient, pausing to dip a finger in the murky water.
Kimberly Cordial threw back her head and laughed. It was nearly ready.
“You keep laughing like that and the whole neighbourhood will be round.” Someone else in the room pointed out.
“You’re just upset that you couldn’t brew it without my help,” Kimberly cackled again, as Ariel rolled her eyes.
“You owed me a favour. That’s the only reason I’m here.”
“Sure,” Kimberly crossed the room to her old friend, “It should be able to charge your wand by tomorrow.”
Ariel sighed, but knew you couldn’t rush magic, “Fine. As long as it works.”
“What do you need it for?” Kimberly asked again, her eyes flicking over to Leda, who was prodding at things on the table.
“I told you, none of your business,” Ariel took another sip of her wine, “Same answer you gave to my question. When you tell me where Sam is, I’ll answer your question.”
Kimberly chose to ignore this, “You should really tell your apprentice not to touch things she doesn’t understand.”
“She’s not my apprentice.” Ariel argued, “She has no magical ability, as far as I know.”
“Then what is she?” Kimberly pushed, “Why is she here?”
“She’s a tool,” Ariel said, quietly.
“Don’t need to tell me twice, Ariel. I know all about tools.”
“She’s helping me get what I want. You know that family I told you about?”
“The one that took your children and turned them against you?”
“Yeah. This girl is going to help me destroy them.”
“Revenge, I like it!” Kimberly looked back over at Leda, “What are you going to do with her afterwards, though?”
“That’s still undecided,” Ariel murmured, before clearing her throat, “Leda, please don’t touch anything. Come have some wine.”
* * *
Hex hadn’t moved from downtown Belladonna all day. Not since Lee had left him there. No one back at the hotel would be able to help Hex, nor would he burden them with his problems. Not after being so selfish only the day before.
No one had stopped and asked him if he was okay yet, not even acknowledged him. That was, until this guy came into the alleyway.
“Hex?” He asked, cautiously. Hex looked up, startled.
“Ralph?” He raised an eyebrow. Hex scrambled to his feet.
“What the heck are you doing?” Ralph demanded, “Ariel’s here and I need to find her-”
“You need to find her so you can WHAT, Ralph?” Hex shouted, suddenly snapping. He seized Ralph by the shoulders and gave him a shake, “I’m not letting you terrorize this family anymore!”
“No! Ariel’s here because she’s going after Maddie! I’m here to stop her!”
“Sure you are.” Hex let Ralph go, sulkily.
“You are staying where I can see you. I don’t care what your mission is, if Ariel’s here, we’ll find her together. I’m not letting you off on your own, Ralph.”
* * *
Back at the hotel, Tank strolled into the room he shared with Maddie. She hadn’t left the room all day, and it was time to change that.
“What are you doing?” He asked, as he entered.
Maddie glanced over her book, briefly, “Reading. What does it look like?”
“Well, do you want to do something better?”
“Nope,” Maddie said, “I’m staying right here.”
“Really?” Tank sat on the other side of the bed.
“Why’s that so hard to believe?” Maddie asked, setting the book down so she could talk to him properly.
“There’s an entire city you haven’t explored outside the window and you want to stay in here?”
“I just don’t feel like exploring. For once.” Maddie tried to smile. Tank studied her for a moment.
“You’re still thinking about Leda,” He observed, “Come on, I’m taking you out. I’ll keep you distracted.”
Maddie gave him a playful smile, “Did you just ask me out?”
“Yeah, I did,” He grinned back, “No excuses, let’s go.”
* * *
“This is your ‘amazing’ idea? Roller skating?” Maddie said, in disbelief, as she gazed at the empty roller rink in front of them. The whole place screamed cheap and tacky.
Tank gave her a look of mock hurt, “We don’t have roller skating in Strangetown, I thought this would be fun.”
“To be honest, I’ve never been either,” Maddie admitted, reluctantly.
“See? It’ll be great!”
Five minutes later, Maddie still didn’t think roller skating was great. She was unsteady and cautious, while Tank had already done a full lap of the rink.
Roller skating was terrible.
“Look at you!” Tank grinned, “Like a baby deer.”
“Shut up,” Maddie told him, but she was also smiling, “I thought you didn’t have roller skating in Strangetown?”
“We don’t. But it seems I’m a natural,” he gave a shrug, and offered her a hand.
“Here, I’ll help you balance,” Tank said, taking her hands, “You’ll be fine.”
“Well duh,” Maddie rolled her eyes, “Kids roller skate all the time.”
“Alright, I’ll let you go and-”
Tank laughed, “See, you do like having me around.”
Maddie shook her head, but she was smiling, “Almost as much as you like having me around.”
“I’m glad I left Strangetown with you.”
“Okay, you’ve convinced me, roller skating can be fun,” Maddie announced after they finished kissing.
Tank laughed, his balance never faltering once, “This date’s not over yet.”
“What’s next? Bowling?”
* * *
“You know I was joking when I said bowling,” Maddie said, cheerfully, as she picked up the ball.
“Shut up and bowl already!” Tank called from the seats at the back of the alley.
“Alright, but prepare to lose,” Maddie said, narrowing her eyes. She’d been bowling plenty of times in Bluewater – Jason had liked to go.
She bowled the ball in an almost straight line, and knocked down all the pins but one.
Maddie grinned to herself, “Beat that, Tank.”
He shook his head, “I don’t know if I can. Strangetown doesn’t exactly have lots of bowling alleys.”
Maddie folded her arms, smiling, “At least give it a try.”
Maddie sat down to watch Tank bowl, amused at his poor technique.
“Yeah, keep bending over the lane like that! It gives me a great view of your butt!”
Tank chuckled as he let go of the ball, thinking that it was going to immediately fall into the gutter. Instead it slowly rolled to the centre, knocking over the majority of pins.
“Is that good enough for you?” He asked, turning around. Maddie beamed.
“Of course. Let’s eat.”
There was a fast food place next to the bowling alley, so Tank and Maddie slipped in for hotdogs. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t as fast as advertised, but this did give Maddie a chance to talk to Tank.
“Thanks for convincing me to go out today,” She said, quietly. He smiled.
“It’s not over yet.”
“What else could you possibly have planned?”
* * *
A short while later, Maddie and Tank found themselves in a bar on the same street as the hotel.
“Really? I thought you hated bars?” She said, cheerfully, accepting one of the drinks Tank had just bought.
“I used to,” Tank told her, “But remember, the first night we really spoke, we were in a bar. Maybe they can be good.”
Maddie shrugged, “Fair enough.”
Maddie got down from the bar stool, “If you’re going to take me to a bar, you’re going to have to dance.”
“Okay,” Tank replied, but he seemed slightly nervous.
“You’ll be fine, Tank,” Maddie grinned, “I’ll help you out.”
They headed out to the dance floor together, “You’ll feel more comfortable if you drink that, Tank.”
“Alright. Bottoms up.”
Maddie laughed, “To a night we’ll never remember.”
“To a night we’ll never forget.” He replied.
* * *
The next evening, after a day of recovering and sightseeing, Lance and Gold had announced they wanted the whole family to gather for a meal. There was still no sign of Leda, but the couple couldn’t wait any longer to share their news.
“Where’s Hex?” Lance asked, impatiently.
“He said he’d catch us up,” Lee shrugged.
“I’m here,” Hex said, hurriedly, as he entered, “I got held up.”
“Um, Hex?” Lee pointed to the figure walking behind Hex.
“Ralph found me yesterday. I’m not letting him out of my sight, naturally,” Hex shrugged, “I’m sorry.”
“No, it’s okay...” Lavender murmured.
An awkward silence fell over the table, broken only when Tank whispered to Maddie, “Who is Ralph?”
In the end, Lee cleared his throat, “Come on, Lance has an announcement.”
“Yeah,” Lance chimed in, “I don’t want to wait any longer!”
Lance grinned at his family, “As you know, I’ve been dating Gold for quite some time, and while we’d agreed to spend eternity together, we’d never really made it official…”
Lance reached out and took Gold’s hand.
“We wanted to wait until Leda was back before we said anything, but we’re getting married!” Gold said, cheerfully. The family erupted into smiles and congratulations.
“This is fantastic news, Lance,” Lavender beamed at her son and future daughter-in-law, “When are you planning the wedding?”
“We’re thinking a spring wedding,” Gold said, cheerfully, “Though nothing’s decided yet.”
Lance looked down, “I just wish Leda was here to celebrate with us.”
A voice interrupted from the doorway, “I am.”
Ariel said nothing as Leda stepped into the room, offering smiles to everyone staring at her, bewildered.
“Congratulations, brother,” Leda said, flatly, “You’ve accepted you’re only ever going to be a spare. Only ever going to come second to Maddie.”
Lance let out a sharp sigh as Leda moved to stand at the head of the table, Ariel following like shadow.
“Leda, this isn’t fair on your brother,” Lavender said, sternly. Leda shook her head.
“No, life hasn’t been fair to me or Lance. Maddie’s had everything, and it’s time she paid the price.”
Maddie rose from her seat, a faint feeling of anger running through her, “You know what, Leda?”
“I have no idea what your problem is with me,” Maddie said, sternly, “Or what happened to make you think that the sun shines out of my ass, but you need to realise that life isn’t like that.”
“Of course you’d say that.”
“Of course I would! I was supposed to go to college, meet a boy, marry him and pop out some kids! Instead I travelled the world and met Tank,” Maddie replied, “Your choices define your life, not some ancient tradition.”
“Maddie’s right, Leda. You have the ability to make things better,” Lavender said, quietly.
“Of course you’d say that!” Leda yelled furiously, “Maddie’s the golden child! Everything she says is right!”
Behind Leda, Ariel produced a wand from behind her, causing Lavender to take a few steps forward.
It all happened very quickly after that. Ariel, chanting some words that no one quite understood, members of the family rising from the table, the green beam aimed directly at Maddie -
The green beam which struck Lavender instead of Maddie, causing her body to crumple and fall to the floor.
“Mum?” Maddie said, softly, her voice wavering, “Mum? Please. . .”
Hex reached Lavender’s side before any of the other family members, tears forming in his eyes.
“Lavender! Please be okay,” Hex begged, “Please speak to me…”
“I don’t think she can…” Maddie murmured, tears falling down her face.
“There has to be something we can do!” Hex sobbed.
“Lavender, please…” Hex begged once more, placing his fingers on her neck to feel for a pulse.
Leda stood frozen, watching the whole thing unfold. Watching Gold sob against Lance’s body, watching Maddie and Hex frantically trying to rouse Lavender, watching the meal on the table go cold, untouched…