She watched the pyre burning to its last ashes, taking with it two parts of her soul, and struggled with the guilt and the relief burning in her heart. Her expression was twisted into a suitably pained appearance as she both tried to smile and fought not to do so.
A hand touched her shoulder, feather light, and she turned to face two dark brown eyes, bright with understanding. Without a word, they walked away from the pyre, away from the clan, into a patch of silent desert. She rested her head against his when they sat, her blond hair mixing with his black as had happened thirty years earlier. “I'm relieved,” she whispered. “They're dead, and I'm relieved. What kind of monster does that make me?”
“You're not a monster,” he replied softly. “It's only natural to feel so. The Secret doesn't matter anymore. They can't be hurt if it comes out. You're not glad they're dead, you're relieved that they're safe and beyond pain. They can never remember what happened now. It's normal that you should feel glad that it's finally over, after three decades of being afraid for them.”
“I was afraid,” she admitted. “When neither of them were able to walk into a temple, when he'd pause by the lake with that look, when she'd wake up screaming with those nightmares... Hell, when Thelon started poking around...” She shook her head. “I was so sure... So very sure that soon it would all come out... That they'd remember what happened... what they had to do... And...”
“It didn't happen,” he told her firmly, wrapping around her. “We didn't let it. Tres and Zap can't be hurt by the past, Artica, and we can finally move on.” He tilted her face upwards and kissed the tip of her nose. “You might even be more willing to smile again.”
Artica laughed. “I smile, Flash. But maybe it'll be a little easier now.” She turned her head towards Maelstorm, frowning thoughtfully. “I'll have to decide what to do with the farm now. And... They'd have wanted to be laid to rest on the winds of Tres' precious desert... But there should be a marker in Sparkstike for them, don't you think? Just as... a reminder. Only, what should it say?”
“There is no greater loyalty then the bond between twins, those abandoned or both,” Flash replied at once, smiling sadly. “As you said, it should be a reminder. And... We'll place it together, Artica. A reminder in exchange for the memory we kept hidden.”
“It's fitting,” Artica agreed quietly, closing her eyes as Flash wrapped an arm around her. While the light faded around them, the two friends would have sworn the evening breeze carried with it the sound of two laughing ghostly children...