28. Forgiven
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Content warning: mention of death

I woke up with a smile on my face and immediately knew it was going to be a good day today. I turned slightly and glanced at the clock. It was just past eight, Friday morning.

There'd been no visits from the cops yesterday. Mom's shift Wednesday night went fine, and she was at work again last night. Tonight she'd have her second-last shift, and tomorrow night would be her very last time working at the restaurant.

I still felt a tiny bit guilty about the fact that I wanted to celebrate my dad's death, but after a day and a half the guilt was fading. His death wasn't my fault. And the best thing was, me and mom were free of that jerk and he'd never bother us again.

I turned my head the other direction and grinned even wider. Melissa was there next to me, sleeping quietly. She was in her pink teddy, and she looked gorgeous. It was like waking up next to an actress or model or something. She'd been sharing my bed the last three nights. We hadn't had sex apart from that one time last week, but we cuddled and kept each other company and it just felt really nice.

Plus it meant every morning when I woke up I got to see how she'd changed since the day before.

I was positive she had to be almost done. Her hair hung down a few inches past her shoulders, it was about as long as mine now but hers was sort of wavy so it looked a little shorter. It got a bit lighter over the last few days too, sort of a sunny golden blonde. She was all hips and butt and narrow waist, and her chest had continued to fill out. She really needed to get some bras but there wasn't much point spending the money until she stopped growing.

Her mood had been generally up lately too. I figured that was because she was free from her parents, she didn't have to worry about them at all anymore. Her folks hadn't tried to come over here, they hadn't even called or texted since she moved out. And she knew me and mom would look after her.

After a minute or two I had to get up. I was a little too fidgety to just lay quietly in bed. I managed to get up without waking Melissa this time, and slipped out of the bedroom and went into the kitchen.

As I got myself some juice I sort of stopped to evaluate my mood and how I felt. It wasn't quite like that day when Lily fed. That day I was positively bubbly and couldn't stop moving. Today I was just happy and a little bit fidgety. I felt a little happier and more energetic than usual, but nowhere near as much as I did that other time.

I thought about that for a few moments, then decided it probably had nothing to do with my demon friend. I figured it was just thanks to everything else in life going so good. It was like every aspect of life was looking up now.

Me and my best friend were both trans, we both got amazing magical transitions into the bodies of our dreams. They both happened differently, mine was kind of rough and involved getting killed by an SUV, but I was ok with how it all worked out. And Melissa seemed happy with how things were working out for her.

Me and Melissa were going to the same college in two months, we were going to take the same courses, we'd be in the same classes. We both filled out the paperwork yesterday and paid the registration fees with my mom's credit card.

Mom was two days away from retiring from waiting tables, she wouldn't have to work again if she didn't want to. She already got herself a new car, and soon she'd get a nicer house. She was planning to go back to school too and learn a new skill or something.

It just felt like every possible thing worked out perfectly for all three of us.

I had a few gulps of my juice and asked, "Hey Lily?"

She replied right away, "Yes Mara, what is it?"

"How are you feeling?" I asked. "Are you happy with everything?"

She replied, "I assume you mean, am I happy with my current status, happy with our current state of affairs?"

"Yeah," I nodded.

"Then yes Mara," she replied. I was positive she was smiling, and maybe nodding her head. "I too am happy."

I grinned, "Good! I'm glad you're happy too."

After finishing my juice I commented in a whisper, "That was a pretty weird coincidence right? Dad managed to kill himself drinking and driving, you didn't have to get involved at all."

Lily took a deep breath then sighed, "Mara I did get involved. I did what you asked."

My smile slowly faded as I felt my face going pale.

I put down my empty glass and whispered, "What? But.. You didn't eat him. I wasn't all loopy with energy or whatever on Wednesday."

I lowered my voice even further and asked "You killed him but didn't feed?"

She sighed again then admitted, "It would have been very difficult and highly inappropriate Mara, if you'd been experiencing the side-effects of my feeding at the same time you learned of your father's passing."

After a brief hesitation she continued, "When I take a soul, I don't have to consume it immediately. It's less satisfying and less fulfilling, but I can keep a soul for a few days and consume it later."

I was numb again as her words sank in. I could guess the part she wasn't saying. She kept dad's soul two days then consumed it last night. That's why I was feeling good this morning, but not feeling as fantastic as that other time.

"Mara?" Lily asked after a minute or two. "Are you ok? Are you feeling guilty about this? You know I was worried about that..."

I sighed softly as I sat there staring down at the kitchen table. My body felt numb and my mind was racing and it all sort of sank in. Lily killed my dad after all. So he really did die because I asked a demon to kill him. And now my good mood this morning was a direct result of that. Lily had a small energy boost, so I had a small mood boost.

I found myself thinking back over the past four weeks, thinking about everything since I found that amulet in uncle Albert's junk box. So much had happened, so much had changed. And I couldn't deny that most of it was good. There were bumps in the road, but it was still good. If I had a chance to go back and not get hit by that SUV, I wouldn't take it. My life, mom's life, and Melissa's life were all way better now.

Not everyone had it better though.

Melissa's parents were unhappy, but that was their own fault for being transmisic jerks. Nobody made them that way but themselves. My dad was dead, but that was mostly because he was a greedy selfish jerk. If he didn't keep coming here threatening us and trying to get my mom's money, nothing would have happened to him. And that rapist guy was dead, but that was arguably better for the rest of the world even if it sucked for him.

There was one other death in the last four weeks that was related to me and Lily, the SUV guy. He killed himself, but if he'd been paying attention and didn't run me over he wouldn't have any guilt to deal with. And if he hadn't hit me, he might have hit someone else and maybe they wouldn't get reincarnated like I did.

I was still thinking about that guy when Lily spoke up again.

"Mara?" Lily tried again, "Please say something? I'm worried about you."

Another thought suddenly struck me and I frowned as I made a connection in my mind.

I closed my eyes and relaxed in my chair, then did that 'step backwards' thing and opened my eyes and turned around. I was back in Lily's big swanky apartment again.

She was in her natural demon form, sort of lounging naked on the large leather sofa. Her eyes were wide and her mouth hanging open slightly as she stared at me. It was pretty obvious she wasn't expecting me to just drop in on her like that.

She stared at me for couple more seconds then finally asked "How did you do that?"

I shrugged, "You taught me last week remember? And you said I could come visit again."

Lily shook her head, "But you only did it once, and that was with my help. I didn't know you could just come in here on your own whenever you pleased."

I sighed, "Lily I know I'm not the smartest person around, like when it comes to books and stuff? But I pay attention, especially to the important stuff."

"I see," she nodded slowly. "What is it you wanted to discuss, that you felt needed to be handled in person?"

"Did you eat the guy who ran me over?"

She blinked at me, she looked just as surprised by the question as she was that I was here in the first place.

After a moment she responded, "What makes you ask that Mara?"

I replied, "He died like four days after he killed me. Then a few days later, the day you wanted me to sign your pact, I woke up in a really good mood. I felt a lot like I felt when I woke up this morning."

"You just told me you can take a soul and sit on it for a few days. My dad died a couple days ago, now I feel like this. A few days after SUV guy died I woke up feeling good like this. So now I'm asking, did you kill SUV guy and hang on to his soul, then eat it right before you wanted me to sign your pact?"

Lily just stared at me. I couldn't read her expression, but she wasn't saying anything so I figured she was stalling.

I sighed, "You told me once that you wouldn't lie to me. What about withholding the truth? What about keeping stuff from me?"

Her cheeks started growing darker as she blushed, and she looked down at the floor rather than at me.

I waited another half minute, then stated "Azatholilitoth tell me the truth. Did you kill SUV guy, then eat his soul right before getting me to sign your pact?"

Her eyes went wide but she answered quietly, "Yes Mara. I killed the man who killed you, and I waited until the morning before you signed my pact to consume his soul."

She sounded shocked as she asked quietly, "How did you remember my true name? I only mentioned it once, three weeks ago when you were half asleep..."

"Like I said," I replied softly. "I pay attention to the important stuff. When you told me, I knew it was a big deal so I made sure to memorize it."

Lily sighed deeply, she was still looking at the floor by my feet. "I'm sorry Mara. I'm sure you've already realized, I consumed his soul that morning to influence your mood, to ensure you would sign my pact."

"Yeah I figured," I replied quietly as I watched her. "You know I'd have signed it anyways. I didn't want to go back to being dead again."

She continued staring at the floor, "I didn't want to take the chance. I couldn't lie or coerce or trick you, but I knew your emotions would be affected by my feeding, so that's what I did."

"Have you manipulated Melissa in any way?" I asked. "Did you make her sign a contract with you? Or did you manipulate the terms of the contract in any way?"

Lily shook her head "No Mara. I promise, Melissa made her decisions without any influence from me, and the terms she agreed to were based on what she wished for."

I was glad to hear that, but I had one more question for her. "Why did you kill SUV guy? Wasn't him hitting me just an accident? What did he do that was so bad?"

Her expression shifted to a frown, though she continued looking at the floor. "Hitting you was an accident. But how he reacted afterwards... His first thought wasn't regret or guilt or horror. He was angry with you for damaging his car, and because your death was going to make him late getting to his cottage. Before your body was even in the ambulance he was making plans to have his lawyers attack your family if they tried to sue him. He was rich, and he used his wealth to buy his way out of every problem he caused. And..."

Lily's cheeks darkened further, "And I was angry with him for killing you, even though that action brought us together."

I was quiet for a few moments as all that sank in. I continued just watching her as I thought that through.

She was still reclining on the large sofa, she hadn't really moved since I arrived. She still wasn't looking me in the eyes, she kept staring at the floor by my feet.

Finally she asked, "What happens next Mara?"

"We're still partners," I stated. "We're still bound together. And I still want to be friends with you, Lily."

Lily looked up at me, she looked almost confused. "You want to be friends with me? Even after learning what I did?"

"Yes," I nodded. "You made a mistake, but that happens. So we work it out and move on, right?"

She still looked confused, and I decided to show her I meant it, about moving on and being friends. I stepped forward so I was standing right next to her. Then I leaned forward slightly and wrapped my arms around her as best I could, and gave her a hug.

"Mara..." Lily sounded nervous, and even more confused. "What are you doing?"

I grinned, "I'm embracing my inner demon, silly. I want us to be friends and partners, and to get along and be happy together."

She slowly moved one of her arms around me as well, and tentatively hugged me back.

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