Lapis Lazuli stood on the top of the cliff, overlooking the sea. In her hand, she held a mirror, the glass long shattered.
It had been a long, long time - long enough that she had a new form once more. It was something of a mix - the old ribbon and dress of her Homeworld outfit combined with the basic pattern and the sandals of her first Crystal Gem appearance. It was a reflection of where she had come from and where she was now - a statement, she thought, of acceptance.
But there was one aspect of her past she was no longer interested in retaining - one that had scarred her for so long.
The mirror in her hand.
At times it felt like a dream, as if she’d slept for five thousand years. At others, she found herself dwelling on the immobility, the inability to escape, to even scream. But as the years past, that pain slowly receded - no, it healed. She healed.
She took a deep breath and looked down at the broken mirror.
“I let you define me for so long,” she whispered.
She looked out at the raging water, and in her mind’s eye she saw Malachite, writhing and thrashing at the bottom of the ocean. She remembered chains, chains of her own making, torturing Malachite, torturing Jasper, torturing herself, all in the name of… protecting Steven? Had that even been the point after a few months? Had the pain become its own end? Had she used him as an excuse to unleash all her anger, her pain, her demons?
For years, everyone seemed to have understood that it had been necessary - largely because Lapis had been too afraid to tell them the truth. That she’d relished in those dark months, and that thinking about it terrified her. The idea that she could do that to anyone - even to the two people she’d hated most at the time - was uncomfortable.
She remembered talking to Jasper, those first few weeks after she’d been healed. How her own excuses melted away, how the orange quartz drove her to admit that she’d wanted to feel in control, just for once…
It had been ugly and unpleasant, but ultimately it had been healthy. While Jasper would never be her best friend, they had an understanding at least.
She glanced over to a green tree, swaying in the wind, and thought of Peridot.
They’d tried, for a while, to go back to the way things were - albeit in a room in the Temple rather than the barn. And yet, there was an underlying discomfort to everything - Peridot stepping so delicately so she wouldn’t leave, and Lapis desperately trying to make up for something she feared she could not - that it ultimately became untenable.
She got her own room, her own quiet space. For that she felt perversely grateful. They never stopped being friends, but Peridot spent more and more time with Amethyst, until eventually there was another wedding on a beach, Lapis standing to the side and wondering what might have been.
For a while, she fell into a vicious cycle of self-blame. It was easy to convince herself - everyone was worse off for her being around, and she’d have to work hard for forgiveness. It was a feeling of worthlessness born from a self-hate that had lingered under the surface for so long and now erupted, threatening to consume her.
She looked down at a little pink flower.
“You can’t keep doing this, Lapis.”
She remembered them at the door to her room, after an impromptu family dinner held by Andy that had gone badly wrong. Normally, the gems would give her ‘space’ when this happened, but Stevonnie combined Steven’s compassion with Connie’s stubbornness, so perhaps she should have expected them to come.
“I know what it’s like,” they’d told them, “Because that was me. Well, Steven-me, anyway. And you can’t… you just can’t…”
She remembered their hand on her shoulder.
“Let me help you.”
It became a thing - suddenly, Fridays were Hang Out Days, when Stevonnie would take her out to do whatever she wanted, be that Funland or flying or laying around doing nothing; where she could tell them how she felt, and they’d promise never to tell anyone, and slowly, ever so slowly, she could come to accept herself. It took time - years and years - but she opened up. She spoke to others, she opened up, she confronted her demons.
Time flew by. She remembered Bismuth and Pearl’s ceremony, again on the beach. She remembered a funeral, and for once being the one to listen to Stevonnie’s feelings. She remembered a third beach wedding, Steven and Connie exchanging vows, kissing, fusing…
And now here she was, standing in front of the sea, mirror in hand.
She looked back down at it and smiled.
“...but I don’t need to anymore,” she finished, “Because the only one who defines me is me.”
She pulled her arm back and threw, pelting the mirror off the cliff and watching it fall into the waves below. She watched it splash and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath.
Then she turned her back, wings extending from her gem. She was due to meet Stevonnie later, and then maybe they’d try that new restaurant (eating had proven surprisingly fun.)
She kicked off and flew into the deep blue sky, leaving her past far behind.