He joined her at the window, unsure what to say. “The end of the world,” she whispered.
“Hard to imagine.”
“You won’t have to for much longer. We’ll be able to see it from here.”
“Are you still tempted to stop it?” he asked, glancing at her.
For a moment, she was silent. Then, without taking her eyes from the window, she said, “Once I let this happen, I won’t be able
to take it back. Rhys will be stuck. I’m not sure I’m okay with that.”
“I ’m definitely not okay with that.”
“You’re his father.”
“And you’re his Author.”
She let out a breath. “If I don’t do this, that makes me a liar, and he won’t learn or ever take me seriously again.”
“Then you have your answer,” he said, slipping an arm around her, as much to receive support as to give it.
She hung on tight. “Here goes, then.”
There is never a “good” tim e to break up with som eone, but Elle had chosen a particularly bad one.
Right after her fight with Stuart, Azula had graduated and m oved back to Sierra Plains, leaving her with no one she felt
she could talk to about it. She didn’t dare go anywhere ex cept to class, for fear of running into him , and she didn’t feel
close enough to any of her cousins to want to dum p on them . As for Billy, she loved him , but they had never had that
k ind of relationship. So, she k ept quiet.
At first, she threw herself into her studies, work ing harder than ever to stay on top of her work . Then, a random , sudden
thought that rem inded her how Stuart had loved the fact that she was a m athem atics m ajor deflated her and slowed her
m om entum .
It wasn’t long before she began spending her evenings just sprawled out on the couch, feeling sorry for herself.
O ne such evening was interrupted by a k nock on the front door. Elle didn’t want to answer it, but there was no one else
around to do so, as Billy was out with Snow, so she pushed herself off the couch and slum ped over to the door.
To her surprise, relief, and disappointm ent, the visitor was not Stuart or any of her other friends. It was, however,
som eone she recognized from three years before. “O h. Hello.”
“Hi. Elle, right?”
“Yes, that’s m e. And you’re Azula’s friend.”
“Yeah, m y nam e ’s Tristan. Nice to see you again.” Sm iling at her, he hook ed his thum bs in his pock ets and rock ed
slightly on the balls of his feet.
“Um , what are you doing here?”
“O h, well, I haven’t seen Azula in a while, so I thought I’d pop by and surprise her. Is she around?”
Elle shook her head. “She just graduated and m oved back hom e.”
“O h. I see.” He let out a sheepish chuck le. “W ell, I’m sorry I m issed her. Maybe I’ll give her a call instead.”
“I ’ll tell her you stopped by.” She wanted nothing m ore than to be rid of him so that she could go back to her wallowing.
The fact that there were guys out there, and that she would eventually have to m arry one of them and k eep the fam ily
line going, was the absolute last thing she wanted to think about just then.
“Thank s.” Tristan turned to go, and then turned back around before she could shut the door. “Hey, are you all right?”
“I ’m fine.”
“You sure? You don’t look so hot.”
“I …” She couldn’t finish, break ing down into tears.
The nex t thing she k new, there was a gentle hand on her shoulder, and Tristan was steering her toward a seat on the
couch. “W hat’s the m atter?” he ask ed, look ing concerned.
Elle found herself telling him the whole story. There was a part of her that k new sharing her personal problem s with
strangers was a bad idea, but she had k ept it all bottled up so long that she couldn’t help it. He was there, and she had
to talk about it with someone. “I m essed up. I pushed him away instead of trying to work it out, and now I’ve ruined
everything and he ’s not going to tak e m e back .”
“I ’m so sorry,” he said fervently. “That m ust have been awful.”
“I don’t k now what to do now. I loved him . I can’t see m yself with anyone else.”
“That’s too bad, Elle, really, it is, but…I can’t help think ing that m aybe you’re better off without him . You said he was
never openly affectionate with you, and I feel lik e guys who really care about a girl shouldn’t be afraid to be, you k now?”
“W ell, we talk ed about it. O nce. It’s his upbringing, he grew up in a place that was really conservative, and you really
can’t help the way you’re raised…”
“Did you ever think that m aybe that was just an ex cuse?”
She frowned. “Maybe, I guess, I don’t k now. I’m so confused right now.”
“That’s all right. You need som e tim e to recover.”
“I ’m so sorry,” she said, feeling self-conscious all of a sudden. “I didn’t m ean to dum p all that on you.”
“It’s all right,” he said reassuringly. “If I didn’t want to listen, I wouldn’t have stayed. Do you want a glass of water?”
She nodded, he got it for her, and then stayed while she drank it, m ak ing sm all talk , which she was grateful for.
Afteward, he ex cused him self, leaving her feeling a little bit better for having had the opportunity to talk som e of it out.
Two days later, he called her. “Hey, I know this is going to seem out of the blue, but I was wondering if you maybe wanted to
meet me somewhere. We could go for a walk, maybe do some window-shopping. You know, if you want.”
“Lik e a date?” she ask ed, feeling a sm ile beginning to form on her face.
There was a pause. “Yeah. Like a date.”
“Sure. W here do you want to m eet?”
“Miss Azula!” Gabriel im m ediately put down the phone and hurried over to her. “W elcom e hom e!”
Azula had to sm ile. She had m issed Gabriel’s easy-going ex uberance. “Good to be hom e. How are you? I see the house
didn’t burn down while I was gone.”
“All of m y functions are perfom ing correctly. Mr. Harry gave m e a tune-up yesterday.”
“Lovely. Have we got anything to eat around here?”
“O f course, I will prepare a chef salad for you.” Gabriel glanced over his shoulder. “You m ust ex cuse the large blue
rabbit in the corner. He appeared quite suddenly, but has said he does not intend to stay long.”
Azula a lso look ed in that direction, and seeing nothing, leaned over to Gabriel. “Gabriel, there ’s no one there.”
“Are you certain?”
“P erhaps som e of m y circuits are m alfunctioning.”
“I ’ll get Dad to have a look at you later. Just…ignore it for now, I guess.”
“C ertainly.” Gabriel look ed over his shoulder again. “Miss Azula has inform ed m e that you do not ex ist, and I will
sum m arily be ignoring you.”
The social bunny sm irk ed. “That’s what she thinks.”
Gabriel’s hallucinations were not the only problem s at hom e. Talk ing to either Harry or Mya proved to be som ewhat of a
chore, and after a day of sporadic, awk ward conversation, Azula stopped seek ing them out. Harry had finally k ick ed his
flu, but he still look ed constantly ex hausted, and she didn’t lik e seeing it.
Mya , on the other hand, did not seem inclined to speak at all, unless it was to Gabriel in regards to the businesses.
Instead, she put all of her energies into her work , which was fine with Azula a s it m eant less nagging. She needed a
clear head to focus on her job.
Not that she was having m uch luck in that departm ent either. For a while, there were no openings she could use, and out
of frustration she eventually took an opening in the Culinary track just for som ething to do. W hat she really wanted was
a position in the Law office, but so far, no one was offering, which worried her.
Fortunately for her, she had two uncles who lived just across the street, and her boyfriend happened to be living with one
of them tem porarily, so she found quite a few ex cuses to get out of the house.
“Is the underwear really necessary, Lex?” Dom inic ask ed, with a groan.
“Underwear is always necessary,” Azula said solem nly. “Nice woohoo box ers, uncle. Very fitting.”
Lex laughed. “Thank s, Zuzu. Don’t worry, I’m going to deposit this bowl in the sink and then get out of your way.” He
wink ed at Dom inic, who coughed and look ed away, trying to look innocent and com pletely failing.
“W hat’s with you?” she ask ed him .
“Seriously, what was that about?”
“W ell…” His e yes took on a m ischievous glint. “I got you som ething for your birthday, but I didn’t want to give it to you
until we were alone.”
“W e could’ve just gone up to your room .”
“It’s always about the bedroom with you.”
“Yeah, and who was the one who practically jum ped on m e that one--”
“Anyway,” he went on, cheek s reddening, “I hope you lik e it.”
“Dom inic!” She snatched the box out of his hands and opened it, staring in awe at the diam ond nestled inside. “I
already told you, you didn’t have to get m e a ring. How did you afford this?”
“I ’ve been saving,” he said sheepishly, “a nd I had a little ex tra laid by. Do you lik e it?”
“I love it, but you--”
“Shush. I want you to have it. Don’t worry about it.”
“It’s perfect. Thank you.”
“So you’ll m arry m e, then?”
“As soon as I can get out of that dam n house, regardless of the fact that you got m e a ring.”
“W ell, you’d better top a career fast, then.”
“You bet I will. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“So I have a date tonight.”
Billy hastily swallowed his bite of salad and look ed up, feeling hopeful. “R eally? Are you and Stuart back together, then?”
“No,” Elle said quick ly. “I m et an old friend of Azula’s recently and he ask ed m e out. His nam e’s Tristan Sm ith. I don’t
k now if you’ve m et him .”
Billy had heard the nam e before, in passing, from Azula, but never m et the m an. “No, I haven’t. Is he nice?”
“Very.” She sm iled, a little ruefully. “You can m eet him tonight if you’re not going out.”
“I ’m actually headed over to R ik u’s in a m inute to m eet Heidi. She’s in town for a few days, so they’re having a party for
her. I was going to ask you if you wanted to go.” Shrugging casually, he took another bite of his salad. He didn’t want to
let on that he was disappointed that she had plans--Stuart would be at the party, and if she had been able to go, they
m ight have had a chance to talk .
“Yeah, sorry. W ell, another tim e, m aybe.”
‘Another tim e’ proved to be sooner than Billy was ex pecting, because T ristan very quick ly becam e a fix ture around the
house. He cam e over nearly every day, and Billy could not walk anywhere in his own hom e without seeing the two of
them glued to each other. They barely paid him a ny attention, seem ingly off in their own world.
And she thought Snow and I were bad, he thought, eyeing them disgustedly one m orning on his way to the dartboard. The
PDA wasn’t even the worst part, as far as he was concerned, though he was worried that Elle was throwing herself too far,
too quick ly into this relationship.
The worst part was that he did not lik e the way Tristan spok e to Elle. “I love that you have long hair,” the m an was
saying, strok ing said hair during a brief respite from m ak ing out. “W om en who have long hair are so sex y.”
Elle beam ed at the praise, and they started k issing again, m uch to Billy’s disgust. There was a subtle put-down in
alm ost everything Tristan said to her, both in word choice and in tone, that he couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed yet,
but she was eating it up.
He k new it was none of his business. He k new that nothing was lik ely to com e of a rebound relationship. All the sam e,
he was deeply uncom fortable with the situation and wanted Tristan away from Elle as soon as possible.
It was tim e to run interference.
“The ‘occasion’ is m e finally having the house to m yself and getting to have the k ind of parties I want to have instead of
having to put up with the way the tyrants do things.”
“Your sisters are not tyrants, Edie.”
“You’re only saying that because you’ve never lived with them . Com e on. It’ll be awesom e. You can m eet Y ak k o, and I’ll
even invite the Bigfoot just for you.”
Elle definitely wanted to go. She hadn’t been out in a while, and an opportunity to m eet Shaw Bigfoot and Edie ’s fiancee
sounded lik e fun. She had already m ade plans with Tristan, however, and didn’t lik e canceling on him . “W ell…can I bring
“If you really want to, I guess, though I was kind of hoping just to have close friends over for it. A small thing, you know. Phil
and S--Kahlen are going to come, and Trent might too, I don’t know.”
“Is Stuart going to be there?” she ask ed, frowning.
“No, of course not,” Edie said, a little too hastily, confirm ing that Elle really had heard the slip-up.
She sighed. “Edie, I’d love to go, but I already m ade plans with Tristan. Ask m e another tim e.” Before her cousin could
protest, she hung up.
Edie glared at her phone for a few seconds, then resignedly dialed another num ber. “Sorry, Billy. No dice.”
“Yeah, I heard. Thank s anyway, Edie. I’ll try to convince her to go m yself.”
“Good luck. Ellie can be damn stubborn when she wants to be.”
“I k now. See you.” Ending the call, he sighed heavily. R oundabout attem pts to get her to places Stuart was sure to be
did not seem to be work ing. It was tim e for a m ore direct approach.
“Hi, Stuart? This is Billy Fitzhugh. How are you?”
“Ah…I am well, and yourself?”
“I ’m ok ay. Listen, I have a favor to ask .”
“Certainly, what do you need?”
“Um , could you…m ak e it a point to talk to Elle som etim e in the near future?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I know. It’s a little out of left field and you probably don’t want to. It’s just that she’s dating this guy right now who’s no good for
her and she doesn’t see that and I know she still cares about you--”
“Billy, I will not interfere in your sister’s relationship, and I think it is unfair of you to ask m e to do so and to go behind
her back in order to do it.”
“It’s none of my business, I know, and I’m not telling you that you should try to get her back. Just…if you see her, can you try to
just talk to her? She can do better than this, and maybe it would make her see that.”
“…if I should happen to m eet her som ewhere, I would not be averse to speak ing with her. I will not m ak e any prom ises
as to what to say or even to go out of m y way to see her, however.”
“Thank you. That’s all I’m ask ing. Sorry to bother you.”
Meanwhile, in Sierra Plains, the season of weddings had begun. Azula had already been to two weddings--Callie’s and
As her own would not be for a while--since the setting the date was contingent on when she could m ove out--nex t on the
dock et was Mik ey’s. He and Elphaba m anaged to find a sunny day in the m iddle of winter for their wedding, and had a
big crowd com e out for it…
…including one or two who hadn’t m ade it to the others.
After the cerem ony, Andrew Pitts ran into his m other and stopped her in her path for a m om ent. “I’m glad you cam e,
“I still feel lik e it was too risk y,” Marina said quietly.
“Yes, but think about what it m eant to Faba to have you here.”
Marina winced at that. She hadn’t forgotten. That was the reason she had even com e in the first place, and the only
thing k eeping her from bolting before then. She had previously been dead set against going, because she k new that
Dom inic Doran would be there, and the last thing she wanted was for him to see her. “Mom, please, you can’t not come to
my wedding. I really want you there,” her daughter had begged, and her tone was enough to change her m ind on the
Glancing to her right, she saw Azula a nd Dom inic standing way too close to her for her com fort and--she hoped casually--
threw a hand up to block her face. “I k now, and right now I’m on m y way to congratulate her and Mik ey so I can go. I
don’t want to cause a scene.”
“O k ay. I’ll call you later.”
“Thank s, baby. Tak e care.”
“You k now, m aybe Mik ey a nd Faba will let us use their arch for our wedding,” Azula was saying. “W e’re going to be
staying here while we look for a place, so I assum e we ’re going to have the cerem ony here, and--”
“Hold that thought, hon,” Dom inic said, tilting his head to look over her shoulder. “Ex cuse m e, I’ll be right back .”
“O h, dam n it,” Marina whispered, k nowing he had seen her.
She ran without a second thought, but she didn’t ex pect Dom inic to run after her.
She k ept running, but he caught up easily and took her by the arm . “Marina, wait.”
“Let go,” she said.
“W hy are you running away from m e?” He held on tight, trying to get her to look at him , but she stubbornly k ept her
face turned away.
“I said, let go.”
“Not until you talk to m e,” he said. “W hat are you doing here, and why are you leaving?”
Finally, she half-turned, not quite look ing at him , but it was enough for him to see the tears in her eyes and recoil.
“You’re m ak ing a scene,” she whispered fiercely. “Let go.”
Stunned, he released her, and she hurried away without another word.
He turned to see that Azula had followed him , and that they had the attention of a few of the other partygoers as well.
“W hat was that about?” she ask ed.
He bit his lip. “C an we go inside?”
“So wait, you’re telling m e that Marina was your nex t door neighbor when you were little? Dom inic, that’s not possible.”
“It isn’t? And why is that?”
“W ell, because you and I are the sam e age, for one thing, and Marina ’s lived in Sierra Plains since m y great-great-
grandfather first cam e here.”
“O k ay, that’s just crazy. First of all, it had to be her. Second, no one lives that long unless they’re a full-blooded elf.”
“O f course they do, there’re a bunch of people around here who have. Her, her husband, loads of her k ids, Gram pa
“O h geez.” Dom inic closed his eyes m om entarily in contem plation. “Look , Azula, I don’t k now what’s going on. All I k now
is that it was her, and she ran away when she recognized m e, and she look ed terrified. I don’t k now why, and I’m
worried, because she always m ade sure to talk with m e whenever she was over, I was lik e, her favorite of Mom ’s k ids for
som e reason. W hich is actually k ind of creepy now that I think about it.”
Azula studied him , and then pulled out her phone. “W ell, there ’s one way to find out.”
Marina had never, ever wanted to have this conversation with any of her Sim s. At this point, however, it was unavoidable.
Her brainless actions at the wedding had led to m ore confusion on Dom inic’s part than if she had just talk ed to him
then, and she could not ex plain now without revealing things that applied to m ore than just him . If any of the Fitzhughs
had to k now about it, she wanted them to hear it from her, and so she had ask ed Dom inic and Azula to bring their
siblings and Harry along with them to her house.
Look ing at the seven people in front of her, she swallowed, unsure how to begin. “O k ay. So…basically, the deal is that
I’m the Creator. O r, rather, the Creator’s a vatar. I ex ist to k eep an eye on you all, and I ’ve been trying to k eep it a
secret, but I blew it with R aik ov a nd then again at the wedding because I wasn’t careful enough and freak ed out.” She
addressed this part of her speech to all of them , but her eyes were fix ed on Harry and Dom inic, the two people she was
m ost worried about. “So I’m sorry for k eeping it a secret, but I’ve been trying to stay out of things.”
Harry visibly hesitated, casting a furtive glance at Dom inic, who stayed silent for the m om ent. Turning back to Marina, he
said, “W hy did you think you needed to k eep it a secret?”
“Because Rhys ask ed m e not to interfere with his fam ily, and I prom ised him I would let you tak e care of the apocalypse
on your own. W e agreed that he and his wife would not tell anyone else who I was so that you wouldn’t think to ask m e
for help.” She ex plained that she had allowed the apocalypse to happen as Rhys’ punishm ent for his m isdeeds in
Authorland, and that the Dorans were also her Sim s, whom she had guided to Sierra Plains after they had separated
from their parents because she k new they would be safe there.
“I don’t believe this crap,” Trent said, turning to his brother. “Dom ? Are you listening to this?”
“That’s what you call ‘staying out of it?’” Kahlen dem anded, eyes narrowed. “Seem s a lot lik e interfering to m e. If you
wanted us to be safe so bad, why couldn’t you just let us stay where we were?”
“Because I wasn’t the only Creator involved with your fam ily,” Marina said. “It’s…com plicated, but once the three of you
becam e teenagers, I couldn’t let you stay in Madison. You had to m ove on. I did the best I could.”
“That is so m uch bull--”
“Stop yelling a t her!” Billy interrupted. “That’s not going to fix anything! She can’t undo it now!”
“That’s easy for you to say,” Kahlen shot back . “Y ou weren’t uprooted from your hom e and separated from your parents!
You didn’t have to live in a tent for years! You didn’t have to constantly m ove from place to place, scared to death that
people who wanted to kill you could find you any second!”
“And attack ing Billy isn’t going to change any of that, so stop it,” Dom inic said.
Azula glanced at him . “W hat about you, Dom ? W hat do you think ?” It seem ed as though she understood that this was
m ore about the Dorans than the Fitzhughs, and that her own reaction could wait.
He look ed at her for a m om ent in thought, then turned to Marina. “So you were really just worried I’d find out and blam e
you? I think you overreacted. I was actually glad to see you for the split second until you ran.”
“That’s som ewhat com forting, thank s.”
“R eally, though, you were terrified. You didn’t even want to look at m e . W hy?”
Marina bit her lip. “I, um …well, I said other Creators were involved. You k now your m other was trying to found a Legacy,
and in a Legacy, one child is chosen as the heir, to continue the fam ily line. W ell, the Legacy continued, but it was k ind
“W hat do you m ean by that?”
“You were, for all intents and purposes, the ‘heir,’ and you shifted into the hands of another Creator. A third Creator also
took charge of the twins. But I lik ed all three of you, so I decided to create an alternate reality where you stayed
together and cam e here. I didn’t k now what was going to happen to the other you when I did that.”
Dom inic frowned. “There ’s another m e? W hat happened to him ?”
She swallowed. “He contracted the e lven disease that k illed your grandfather, lost his fam ily, and died alone.”
“I didn’t want to face you after I found out, so I tried to avoid you, ex cept that m y daughter m arried Mik ey a nd she
wanted m e to be at the wedding, where I k new you’d be.”
Dom inic could only stare at her in stunned silence.
The twins, in turn, watched their brother worriedly for a m om ent. “W hat happened to us?” Trent ask ed, without look ing at
“You eventually found som ewhere you thought was safe and m ade a life for yourselves,” she said.
“Did any of us ever see our parents again?”
“No, but the elves never found them and they stayed together until they died.”
“W ill they ever com e here?”
“No. I couldn’t bring Carli here without Ashley, and another version of him has already died in this reality.”
“W ait…” Elle cut in, “Ashley Pitts? Uncle Andrew’s dad?”
“That was him , yes.”
“So wait, they’re his half-siblings? Sort of? W hich m ak es you sort of their stepm other?”
“Um …I try not to think about that.”
She could tell that latest revelation hadn’t helped her case at all. Kahlen and Trent look ed about two seconds away from
letting her have it, and the shock and slight disgust the rest of them were feeling was evident. “I am so sorry,” she said.
“I k now that’s not going to m ak e it m agically ok ay, or m ak e you understand why I did what I did, but I feel terrible
about it. I can assure you that the elves are never going to com e here, so you’re com pletely safe. And I won’t interfere
“You’re dam n right, you won’t,” Kahlen snapped. “Because we’re not going to stay here another m inute.”
“No, I’m going to leave instead,” Marina said quietly, m ak ing a snap decision. “The Fitzhughs don’t need m e, so there ’s
no point in m y staying. I don’t want m y being here to force you from a place where you’re happy.” She look ed at
Dom inic. “Is that acceptable?”
Dom inic look ed torn. “This is your hom e.”
“It’s also yours, if you want it to be. I can be anywhere I want.”
He glanced at the twins, and then back at her. “Then I accept your apology, but we’re going to need som e space for
now. I’m so angry I can barely even look at you.”
She nodded. “I don’t blam e you. I’d be m ad at m e, too.”
She then turned to Harry. “And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry that Rhys’ punishm ent also had to apply to the rest of you.”
Harry look ed away. “I think we should go,” he said.
“O k ay,” she whispered, and they began to file out.
Elle stayed behind. “Sorry,” she said, once everyone else had gone. “It’s a lot to tak e in--”
“Ellie, you don’t need to apologize for them ,” Marina said. “I understand. I chose to com e clean k nowing this was going
“And you’re really going to leave?”
“Yes, I am .”
“C an I ask you som ething?”
“You k now I’m the heir, right? And about our fam ily and Stuart and Tristan and all that?” Marina nodded. “I don’t k now
what to do. Do you have any advice you can give m e?”
Marina shook her head. “You’re on your own, Ellie. I prom ised Rhys I would stay out of it, and I intend to k eep that
“Marina, I’m going to be head of the fam ily as soon as I graduate, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.”
“I can’t tell you what that is. You don’t need m e to, anyway. Trust m e, Elle. You’ll be fine.” She sm iled a little. “Y ou don’t
need m e, or anyone else, telling you how to live your own life. Rem em ber that.”
Elle nodded slowly and left.
An hour later, Spencer arrived at the house to find Minerva sulk ing on the couch and Claudius pacing the floor anx iously.
“I got your m essage. W here is she?”
“Upstairs in our room ,” Claudius said, look ing a little relieved. “She won’t talk to m e, and she won’t com e out.”
“I ’ll talk to her. W ait here.”
He took the steps two at a tim e, silently cursing the whole way.
W hen he reached her room , he walk ed in without k nock ing, k nowing that she would just tell him to go away if he tried
that and that he could probably m ak e her talk to him if he just went for it. “Marina?”
“Leave m e alone.”
“No. C laudius is worried sick , Min’s pissed that you’re going to m ak e her leave.”
“Min can stay here and go to college if she wants. I don’t care.”
“That’s not the point. You need to talk to them .”
“I will. I just want to be alone right now.”
Spencer let the door shut behind him as he walk ed over to her, silently observing the dark dots on her jeans. “W hy
didn’t you wait for m e?” he said, after a m om ent.
“You k now why.”
“I ’ve been helping you since we cam e here, Marina.” He had never been truly irritated with his Author before, and he
found it hard to contain, even though he k new yelling at her wouldn’t help. “T hat’s why you brought m e with you. You
should have let m e help this tim e, too.”
“I didn’t want to drag you down with m e.”
“You really think that can be avoided now? I’ve been with you since the beginning. Everybody k nows that.”
“But it’s m y fault.”
“It’s just as m uch m ine, Marina. I k new what you were going to do, and I stepped back and allowed it to happen. My
hands are as dirty as yours.”
She let out a loud sniff and hunched further into herself. “I really screwed up, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, you did. Com e on, look at m e.” He k nelt down and nudged her chin up. “It’ll be all right. W e’ll fix it. I’ll stay
here, wait for everyone to cool off and try to sm ooth things over with them . And Selina’s crew will be there if som ething
happens. O k ay?”
“O k ay.”
Dom inic didn’t say a word the whole way hom e.
Azula wasn’t used to silence. Usually, she and Dom could talk for hours about everything under the sun, and the fact
that he didn’t seem to want to talk about what had just happened worried her.
“Are you all right?” she ask ed, when they reached his door.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” He hesitated. “I was just think ing.”
“W hat about?”
“How set are you on having a wedding here?”
Her brow furrowed. “W hat do you m ean?”
“I was just think ing we could use our savings for a vacation instead of a wedding party. Apply for a Sierra Plains license,
but have a sim ple cerem ony abroad.”
“I don’t care, Dom . W e don’t even have to live here long-term if you don’t want to.”
He shook his head. “I don’t want to m ove now. The last thing I want to do is m ak e you leave your fam ily, and I’m tired
of the constant m oving from place to place. I just thought it m ight be nice to do som e traveling for a little while, and do
som ething other than the back yard cerem ony everyone else seem s to be having.”
“Then let’s do it. W e’ll m ak e plans later.”
“Thank you, Azula. Are you going to com e in?”
“No, I have to get hom e and see if they have an opening at the Law office yet. If they don’t, I’ll have to go in to work
later.” She m ade a face. “W ish m e luck .”
Billy and Elle m ade it back to the university later that afternoon. Elle was glad when Billy im m ediately ex cused him self to
go visit Snow, as she needed som e tim e alone to think . Absently, she grabbed a handful of darts from the board and
began throwing them aim lessly as she considered her options.
Even though she had had no idea about Marina’s real role in the situation, the fact that she was leaving m ade Elle feel
lik e she had even less support than before. She hadn’t talk ed about the heirship with anyone since her fight with Stuart.
It was som ething she didn’t lik e think ing about. However, she would graduate in less than a sem ester, and then it would
becom e real. She didn’t want to be unprepared, but she had no idea how to go about it.
Then there was the spouse question. That was her m ost im m ediate concern. Ideally, she should be prepared to get
m arried soon after she m oved hom e. The problem was that she wasn’t engaged, and if Tristan didn’t see their
relationship going that far, she would have to start look ing again.
She supposed that if she were going to find out, now was the best tim e.
Frowning, she threw another dart. It was tim e to tak e a step she had always been afraid to tak e with Stuart. She wasn’t
any m ore thrilled about going there with Tristan, either, but she had to have some indication--
Her train of thought stopped abruptly when she realized that she had hit a bullseye com pletely by accident.
“Hey!” She grinned. “W ho’s depth perception suck s now, Billy? Not m ine! Ha!”
O ddly enough, it put her back in a cheerful m ood, and she pulled out her cell phone after another m om ent’s thought.
“Hey, sweetie. Listen…I was wondering if you’d m ak e a trip hom e with m e so I can introduce you to m y parents.”
“Thank s for agreeing to do this. It m eans a lot to m e.”
“Thank s for ask ing m e. I’m surprised we didn’t m ak e this visit sooner. W hy wouldn’t your parents lik e m e?”
He certainly did m ak e an im pression on them . Both Harry and Mya were pleased with Tristan’s m anners and his
prospects--it turned out that he had a job in the Politics track as a Lobbyist and seem ed to be a favorite in the office,
which would work well with Azula’s governm ent plan.
“You seem lik e a very nice young m an, Tristan,” Harry said, after the interview was over. “I ’m glad Elle brought you to
m eet us.”
“Thank you, sir. It’s great to m eet you, too. I’m look ing forward to getting to k now you and Mrs. Fitzhugh better.”
“P lease, call m e Harry. Mya will want you to use her first nam e, as well.”
Tristan sm iled. “I’d be happy to.”
“Hang onto him , Elle,” Mya a dvised. “Y ou don’t often m eet m en lik e that.”
“I k now, Mom ,” Elle said. “I ’m glad you and Dad lik e him .”
“I ’m just happy you brought him to m eet us before getting too serious. W e still don’t k now Dom inic or Snow very well.”
“I ’m sure Zuzu a nd Billy would be happy to fix that if you m entioned it.” Elle wasn’t sure that was really the case, but she
said it anyway, choosing to believe the best instead of fix ating on the worst.
She could tell that Mya didn’t really believe that, either. “W e’ll see.”
“That went well,” Tristan said lightly, as they were leaving.
“Yeah, it did,” Elle agreed. “They really lik e you.”
“I told you they would. You had nothing to worry about.”
She sm iled. “W ell, m y parents and I som etim es have differing opinions. I was too nervous to do this with m y ex . Billy
and Zuzu never wanted to do this either. It’s com plicated.”
“It seem s a bit silly now, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, it does.”
He k issed her lightly, and she happily returned it, feeling glad for his warm th in the cold evening. “Thank you,” she said
“You’re welcom e,” he replied. “And now, I have som ething to ask you.”
The absolute last thing she was ex pecting was for him to get down on one k nee. “Marry m e?”
It was close to m idnight when she got back to the university. She found Billy in the living room , studying for a class.
“You didn’t have to wait up,” she said, sm iling.
“That’s what brothers do,” he said, nonchalantly, without look ing up. “Besides, I have an ex am in the m orning.”
“Did you just start studying tonight?”
“Not everyone lik es it as m uch as you do, nerd.”
He look ed up and grinned. “Always. So, how did ‘m eet the parents’ go?”
“It went well. They lik e him .”
“Ah, sorry to hear that.”
She snorted. “Yeah, that was funny before, but you’re not allowed to badm outh m y fiancee a nym ore, so watch it.”
“I ’m engaged,” she said, an ex cited grin beginning to pull at the corners of her m outh.
Unsure how to answer, Billy got up from the couch and returned his tex tbook to the shelf. He heard footsteps behind
him and turned to see that Elle had followed him over, look ing worried. “Aren’t you going to congratulate m e?”
“Are you k idding m e, Elle?” he shot back . “Did you honestly think I was jok ing? I don’t lik e Tristan, I never did, and I
think you’re m ak ing a m istak e.”
He hadn’t m eant to say it lik e that, and he instantly regretted it when a surprised frown crossed her features. “You don’t
get a say in who I m arry, Billy,” she said quietly, after a long pause.
“No,” he said, bitterly. “If I did, you would never have dated him in the first place.”
“W ell, I’m sorry, but we ’re engaged, and we ’re going to get m arried after graduation.”
“That quick ? Don’t you think you’re m oving a little fast? You m et the guy less than a year ago, on the rebound, even.”
“W ell, m aybe if you and Azula--”
“If m e and Azula what, Elle?” he dem anded, when she didn’t finish.
She changed her tactic. “If I weren’t the heir, this wouldn’t be a problem .”
“O h for--you m ade the decision to tak e it all on your own. You can’t blam e m e or Azula for that.”
“Then you can’t blam e m e for doing what I have to now that I have it,” she said flatly. “Y ou don’t have to lik e Tristan,
but that’s your problem , not m ine.”
The truth of the m atter struck Billy hard, and he turned away. “I’m going to bed,” he m um bled, before running up the
stairs and lock ing him self in his room .
He didn’t stop to think , reaching for his phone and hurriedly dialing the num ber he wanted. “Hello? It’s Billy. I’m sorry to
call so late, I didn’t wak e you up, did I?”
“I was about to retire, but I was not asleep. W hat do you need?”
“It’s my fault that you and Elle broke up.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“She took heirship because Azula and I wouldn’t, she felt pressured into it, and you two wouldn’t have fought over it if she hadn’t
done it and I’m so sorry and you have to talk to her, please--”
“That’s not how you repair a dishwasher, R ik u,” Phil rem ark ed.
“O h, bite m e.”
“O y, you lot,” Stuart said, over his shoulder, “pipe down, I’m having a conversation here, if you don’t m ind.” He turned
back to the phone. “Billy, I can’t understand you. W hat are you saying?”
“You guys need to get back together. You should never have broken up in the first place, and now she’s going to marry him if you
don’t do something--”
“She just said so.”
“I am sorry, Billy, but if she is engaged, then I cannot help you. Please do not call again.” He hurriedly ended the call
and turned off his phone.
“I ’m just saying, random ly beating the crap out of that thing isn’t going to fix it.”
“W hatever. Lik e you k now anything about appliances.”
“I k now plenty, dum bass--” Phil glanced over at Stuart and frowned. “Stu? You ok ay, dude?”
“P erfectly fine. I am tired, that is all. Do ex cuse m e.”
Azula was beginning to regret ever tak ing the Culinary job. Fix ing the rations, while a useful thing to do, was not
som ething she considered im m ediately necessary, but fate m ust have decided to be perverse because it turned out that
she was good a t her job. Her superiors loved her and wanted to prom ote her, but she was holding off, waiting for the Law
job. If she let them put her up any further, that was what she would be ex pected to fix .
Yet Law refused to show, and she was growing im patient. Elle would be hom e to get m arried soon, and she wanted to be
ready to leave the house when that happened.
Finally, toward the end of winter, she found an opening as an Entertainm ent Attorney in the online listings that her
degree just happened to be perfect for. W ithout a second thought, she snapped it up, and then check ed the prom otion
It turned out that she hadn’t played quite enough chess as a child. She would need one m ore logic point, and the
carpool would com e in less than two hours. “Hell, I can do it,” she m uttered, and ran upstairs to the book case, grabbing
a think ing cap on the way.
She hadn’t considered that she m ight be interrupted.
“W hat are you up to so early?” Tristan had m oved in the day before to begin work ing on his lift in earnest and help plan
the wedding, and being around him m ade Azula e x trem ely uncom fortable. She was all too aware of the fact that all she
was wearing at the m om ent was a thin nightdress intended only for her fiancee’s e yes, and squirm ed a little.
“Last-m inute sk illing,” she answered, hastily. “I took a new job and m y shift starts in a couple hours.”
“Do you m ind if I join you? I could stand to get in som e studying for m y prom otion, as well.”
“Mmm, you know I think that top looks gorgeous on you, but I think it would look better on the floor…”
She forced a sm ile. “Yeah, sure, just don’t m ak e a lot of noise.”
She succeeded in tuning him out enough to get her logic point just barely on tim e, and cam e hom e from work later that
day as The Law.
“They loved m y proposals, Dad! They want to im plem ent them im m ediately. I did it!” It was a good feeling. She had
been afraid that her position as a Fitzhugh--or her history with m en--would m ean that her co-work ers wouldn’t tak e her
seriously, but she had been able to present her ideas in an intelligent m anner, and could now use them to help people.
She could hardly believe it.
“I k new you would, princess,” Harry said warm ly. “C ongratulations. I’m so proud of you.”
Elle m oved hom e the nex t m orning, and Azula was so anx ious to get on with the rest of her plans that she barely stayed
long enough to ex plain what they were. “So Dom and I are tak ing the first flight out tom orrow m orning. Uncle Jon and
Aunt Suzy agreed to watch our stuff for us while we were gone, and after we get back we ’re going to stay with them until
we find a place.”
“I thought you were going to Mik ey’s,” Elle said.
“Yeah, we were, but…it’s not a good time for them to have us there,” Azula said, frowning worriedly. “Elphaba freaked out a bit
after that thing with Marina. She seems to think that Mikey thinks it’s a bigger deal than he does, and between that and the baby
she’s not dealing well at all.”
“How bad is it?”
“Seriously? Isn’t she overrreacting?”
“That was what I said, but Mikey knows better than I do what the deal is and he’s really worried. We decided it would be better to
let them have their space.”
“That’s too bad.”
“W ell, at least Uncle Jon has plenty of room , and we hopefully won’t be there long anyway.”
“Miss Ellie?” Gabriel interrupted, frowning at the com puter. “There does not seem to be a job opening at the police
“That’s ok ay, Gabriel. I’ll look again tom orrow. It was nice of you to check for m e, you didn’t have to.”
“It is m y pleasure.”
“So a nyway,” Azula continued, “I’m off over there now to help Dom get settled, and we’ll be back for the wedding later.”
“O k ay. Good luck with it.”
“You too. Don’t freak out and go Bridezilla on everyone.”
“W ould I do that?”
“I don’t k now, would you?”
Elle hadn’t wanted a large wedding, lik e som e of her cousins had had. An intim ate cerem ony with her fam ily and closest
friends present was enough for her. Tristan, to her relief, did not object. Their party effectively ended wedding season--
Edie did not want a big party, Phil wasn’t getting m arried at all, and Azula a nd Dom inic were going abroad.
To the relief of m ost, and the disappointm ent of som e, the cerem ony went off without a hitch. Tristan took her nam e,
and everything seem ed set for them to continue the work that Rhys had started by bringing in the nex t generation.
It took every ounce of willpower that Billy had in him to sm ile and clap, instead of what he wanted to do, which was rip
Tristan’s face off.
As the obligatory round of congratulations and well-wishing began, Billy hung back , unsure what to do. Snow found him
there and tried her best to com fort him . “It’s none of your business, sweetie,” she said quietly. “This is what your sister
wanted. You have to let her deal with it herself.”
“I k now,” he said, “but I can’t shak e the feeling that this is not going to end well. It’s a big deal. She can’t tak e it back .”
“You k now I agree with you, but you’ve got to m ak e the best of it. Don’t wait for the worst to happen.”
He swallowed and glanced over at the arch. Elle had started an ex cited conversation with Azula, while Tristan stood off to
one side, sm iling in their general direction. A quick shift of his gaze led to his catching Billy’s eye.
Billy sighed. He didn’t lik e Tristan any m ore than he ever had, but Snow was right--he had been in the wrong, and now it
was tim e to eat hum ble pie and stop contributing to the problem .
He walk ed over with leaden feet. “W elcom e to the fam ily, Tristan,” he said softly.
“Thank you, Billy,” Tristan replied, look ing com pletely sincere. “I’m happy to be a part of it.”
It did seem that he m eant it, and Billy could tell that Elle was over the m oon, som ething he hadn’t seen in her for a long
tim e. Hadn’t that been what he had wanted for her all along?
After the wedding, the ex citem ent am ong the Fitzhugh clan died down significantly. Billy went back to school for his
…a nd life at the m ain house went on as it always had.
“Afternoon, Harry. Is som ething wrong with Gabriel?”
“Buck et of bolts refuses to learn that he can’t fix the shower,” Harry said, affectionately. “How was work ?”
“P retty standard. Getting up to the top should be no trouble at all.”
“Glad to hear it. I think Elle’s upstairs.”
“Hey, baby. How are you and Junior doing?”
“W e ’re fine,” Elle said contentedly, as she bask ed in her husband’s affection. “I think the m orning sick ness is behind
m e for good, and he seem s pretty settled for the m om ent. I’ll be glad when this is over, though.”
“You and m e both,” Tristan m urm ured.
He m oved around behind her to rub her shoulders, and she sighed happily. “T hat’s perfect. You’re am azing, Tristan.”
“I k now.” He allowed the conversation to lapse into silence for a m om ent, and then went on in a casual tone. “Hey, Ellie,
I’m curious. W here did Azula a nd Dom inic go for their honeym oon? I was think ing about them at work today and I
realized that I never heard anyone actually say where.”
“R eally? She didn’t tell you?”
“Not that I can recall.”
“O h. W ell, I guess she wouldn’t m ind m y telling you, but you can’t tell anyone else, all right?”
“I am the soul of discretion.”
“They’re in Tak em izu Village.”
General R aik ov look ed up at Tristan through narrowed eyes. “You’re certain of this.”
“Absolutely. My darling wife trusts m e im plicitly. She would have no reason to lie.”
“W ell, then.” R aik ov’s e x pression slowly curled into a sm irk . “Tak em izu. Between that and Marina leaving town, I could
not have planned this any better. And you’re certain no one suspects?”
“W ell, m y brother-in-law doesn’t think m uch of m e, but he has no real reason to suspect foul play, and I intend to k eep
it that way.”
“See that you do. I will handle the rest.”
“O f course, General.”
“Zuzu, you’re going to have to slow down and e nunciate m ore clearly. The connection’s bad. I can barely hear you at
“W hat do you m ean, you can’t com e hom e?”
Hey, Servos can m ak e snow angels too. Don’t hate.
So…I don’t want to say m uch about this update because m ost of the rationale behind it is going into the nex t two. But
we finally got another lift and a spouse in, so it’s tim e to talk stats!
Azula’s Law lift basically m eans that Law Enforcem ent, Politics, and Slack er (all of which I am hoping to get out of the
way this generation) can be fully lifted now instead of just suppressed. It doesn’t do m uch else, but at this point in m y
plan it’s pretty significant.
As for Tristan, yes, he was one of Azula’s boyfriends once upon a tim e. He was actually m eant to be #20 (if you’ll recall,
it was Dom inic instead due to rebuild stupidity), and he is really as m uch of a jerk as he seem s. I didn’t want either of
the Fitzhugh girls to have m ore to do with him than they absolutely had to, so I k ept Azula’s relationship with him just
high enough to m ove him into the house, and at that tim e they were one Argue away from falling out of love, thank
Tristan is a Rom ance Taurus who joined the fam ily with several friends and a job as a Lobbyist. He actually m oved in a
few days earlier than the story says, because I k new he was in the lower rungs of his career and wanted him to have a
head start. He then irritated m e by being creepy around Azula a nd NO T GETTING FREAKING PRO MO TED, GRRR. I hate
his guts, and you’re m eant to, as well.
But on the bright side, BABIES. This little guy here is the fourth m em ber of generation 6, and the oldest m ain house
baby. I can’t wait to introduce you to him properly nex t update.
Finally, this update m ark s m y two-year Apocaversary. I was hoping to be com pletely done with the Apocalypse by now,
but as I’m sure you all k now well, life happens. W e are in the hom e stretch, though. All I need is for this generation to
do their lifts and for one m ore baby from Elle, because Law m ak es FIFTEEN. FIVE MO RE TO GO , FO LKS.
I want to thank m y cheer team (you guys k now who you are) for your encouragem ent while I was writing this update, and
also to those of you who helped m e with Elle’s wardrobe and m y outrageous CC requests. You’re all awesom e and I
appreciate it so m uch. :D
So until nex t tim e, tak e care and Happy Sim m ing!
Guest Sim s
Dom inic, Kahlen, and Trent Doran - The Boolpropian Round Robin Legacy
Stuart Legacy - A Victorian Legacy
Elphaba Uglacy - A Piratical Legacy
Larch Vetinari - The Vetinari Dualegacy
Claudius Caesar - The Ten Caesars
Snow Bohem ian - The Bohemian Legacy