"UGH" Odd screamed. He kicked the metal door in a rage then jumped up and down holding his injured foot.

"There has to be a way out!" Yumi growled. "Jeremy! What was that! Why didn't you say anything!"

"Because I couldn't Yumi!" Jeremy yelled back. "If they sweep my computer before the trial they can delete any files that prove all we've worked for! Lyoko can declare war on France and I won't have any proof of my defense!"

"But we know Aelita is the Princess!" Odd growled.

"You think there's any way for us, with the labels of criminals, to prove a girl from an orphanage who only attended Kadic because of a lottery is the lost Princess? They won't take us seriously because it sounds ridiculous!"

"Stop fighting!" Ulrich had had enough. "This sucks for all of us! Now we won't even get to graduate and I don't know about you all but my parents will kill me!"

Aelita looked downcast.

"I'm sorry," she suddenly whispered. Everyone fell silent. "Because of me now you all won't be able to graduate and Lord XANA is going to hurt your countries." She sniffled as the first tears fell and everyone rushed to comfort her.

"It's Not your fault!" Jeremy said firmly as he took the girl he loved in his arms. "We agreed to do this and we were right."

"Yeah, Princess," Odd said, emphasizing her title with meaning this time. His eyes were hard. "It's XANA's fault. You're the Princess of Lyoko and a Lady of the Hopper family. We weren't expecting a final attack is all."

"We need to though," Yumi said as she gently rubbed Aelita's shoulder as comfort. "We can't keep fighting each other. There has to be something we can do."

"Unless there's a way to get out of here in time, I doubt it," Ulrich sighed as he collapsed against a wall and slid down.

"Can we break out?"

"Not without the key code," Jeremy said. "I could easily hack it with my laptop or phone but they took our devices."

"So we're stuck until they come to get us out?" Odd groaned.

"Looks like it. We can plead our case in two days but not much else."

"It won't matter then, will it? Sissi will already be Queen by then." Ulrich said. "What's the point?"

"It could save political ties," Yumi pointed out.

"If they refuse to give Aelita back her throne and don't let her graduate, she can come back to Italy with me." Odd stated. "She's my cousin and my family will welcome her when they find out she's alive."

"They're right," Jeremy nodded. "At this point the best we can hope for is saving political ties. They may agree Aelita's the lost Princess but if Sissi's crowned, I don't think they will let her claim it. The best we can do is fix political relations. We'll get minor sentences with me getting the most severe probably. We'd get our degrees from Kadic but private coronations back in our own Kingdoms."

"It's better than nothing," Ulrich agreed.

The group fell silent then. Aelita still looked awfully guilty despite everyone's comfort. There was little else to say. The mood was somber until Ulrich broke it.

"Remember, when Odd spilled his entire tray and Rosa wouldn't give him seconds?"

A snort and a giggle. Odd moaned.

"Don't remind me! I was starving that day!"

"Your fault you didn't watch where you were going, Odd. And we all went out to eat before curfew just because of you."

"It was my first time eating at a proper fancy restaurant," Aelita recalled with a half smile.

"You looked so amazed!" Yumi agreed. "It was… humbling. Guess we all took our lives for granted before you came." The raised royalty nodded. Meeting Aelita really had changed their perspective a lot.

"You better take her to some nice ones in France when we get out of here, Jer," Ulrich snickered.

Jeremy blushed and looked away. Aelita looked confused.

"What do you-"

"Hey remember when we ended up destroying Herve's foreign reforms paper on accident the same day he was planning on destroying Jeremy's robot and cheating during the Bot Fight."

And so it continued. The family of five recalled memories new and old. They told Aelita stories of before she joined them and reminded each other of everything they accomplished in the last year until they were all in fits of laughter in the cool floor of the detainment room. The hours slipped by and they almost missed the voice at the other side of the door.

"Hey!" It hissed. The young royals scrambled to their feet and ran to the door.

"Who's there?" Ulrich commanded.

"It's me! Sissi!"


"Don't sound so surprised!" The girl grumbled at the chorus from behind the door.

"What are you doing here, Sissi?" Odd recovered first. Then a spike of anger ran through him. "Come to taunt us some before your coronation tomorrow? Rub it in our faces that we lost?"

"No!" Sissi yelled back. "I-I-… I just want to know if its true… and if it is… I want to help." There was a pause then, "So you better watch it Della Robbia! I may just decide to leave you all here after all!"

Odd was about to retort but Aelita spoke first.

"What's true, Sissi?"

Silence… then, "Is it true you're Princess Maya?"

The group felt a spike of fear rush through them. Had Sissi overheard them despite how careful they had been? Was she the one spying and telling Lord XANA?

"How do you know about that?" A sharp voice asked.

"I overheard you all talking on the first day at the Palace. You were practically yelling it." Sissi huffed at the cold tone.

"Why do you want to know?" Jeremy took over. An indignant huff was heard through the door.

"I already told you! I want to help!"

"Why would you? If it's true that means you can't be Queen." Yumi pointed out.

"I- I don't want to be Queen if its not meant for me." Sissi's voice was barely audible this time.


"I DON'T WANT TO BE QUEEN IF ITS NOT FOR ME!" She shouted. "Everyone knows I won't be good at it anyway… Besides… I just want to do the right thing for once. Like Mama-" She cut herself off. "Anyway, do you want my help or not!"

The trapped nobles looked at each other for a few minutes a silent discussion crossing their expressions. Sissi's despondent voice had struck a chors in Aelita though. She knew that voice and its matching expression. It suddenly occurred to Aelita why Sissi acted the way she did. Always boasting her special selected position as the future Princess of Lyoko. Always bossing others around. The girl had only ever wanted to fit in with people who she felt were unlike her in the only way she knew how. In reality she had only ever wanted friends who understood her but hadn't found them quite as easily as Aelita had. That realization solidified the decision in her mind.

"I am the Lost Princess Maya," Aelita declared. She had decided to trust Sissi. It was the first time she had said it out loud to anyone, even her friends. "We have proof and Lord XANA knows. He… He killed my parents."

Unknown to them Sissi's face had softened and hardened in the few seconds it had taken for Aelita to say that. "How can I help?"

"Does he know you're here?" Jeremy instantly went into work mode.

"No. I snuck out. The coronation is today. It's already 3 AM." Sissi told them.

Jeremy hissed. They hadn't realized how much time had passed already. They'd been captured after dinner and hours had passed since then. "Sissi I need you to see if there's a way to unlock the door, if not, I need you to run back to my room and get my laptop. If it's not there, bring any laptop. Even your own. But hurry!"

Sissi looked around the hall where she was standing. There was a keypad in front of her but she didn't know the code. The rooms nearby were all locked as well.

"There's nothing here." She finally said. "I'm going to get the laptop."

"Don't let Lord XANA or the guards see you!" Jeremy warned.

"Be careful, Sissi." Aelita added.

Sissi returned almost an hour later, out of breath, but with Jeremy's laptop.

"How do I get it to you?" She asked. There was no crack under the door. No way to get the laptop to Jeremy.

"I'm going to guide you how to connect my laptop to the security system. You need to listen to me very carefully, Sissi. I'll guide you through the whole process."

Sissi's face was overcome with a nervous look which was quickly masked by determination. She muttered a quick affirmation then got down to following Jeremy's instructions. The process was painstaking and took more than a few hours. The group winced every time the alarm warning went off and Sissi was sweating buckets trying to follow Jeremy's walk through.

"Jeremy…" Aelita eventually set her hand on the stressed boy's shoulders. "We'll make it." She looked at him with trust, gently setting her other hand over his fearful racing heartbeat. She knew he felt responsible for this mess and for getting them all out despite having done so much already. Now there was the added responsibility of saving his parents' face and his own kingdom as well as Ulrich, Odd and Yumi's. She leaned forward and kissed the corner of his mouth to reassure him. Jeremy's hand came up and held Aelita's over his own for a moment. He took a few deep breaths, exhaled and then finally turned back to the door.

"Sorry Sissi," he apologized to the struggling girl who ahd put so much on the line for their sake. She accepted after a moment and Jeremy again started to walk her through the rest of the process, more gently this time. Aelita didn't leave his side the whole time, her hand a steady comfort the entire time.

"It's 9 o clock!" Sissi eventually said. "Lord XANA will be coming to see if I'm ready for the ceremony."

"Just half an hour longer," Jeremy said, desperately.

"Please Sissi," Aelita asked.

"I'm not smart enough for this!" Sissi growled. "I know I said I'd help but I can't! I don't know how."

There was silence.

It was Odd who spoke up suddenly. "Listen Sissi, I know we've been unfair to you, me especially. But as long as I've known you, you've never given up! You've done the best you can at whatever you put your mind to even if you were a pain to everyone else in the process. You've already made your mother proud by helping us… but if you finish this, we'll all be able to fix the things that went wrong. Isn't that worth it."

Sissi was silent.

"Odd's right, Sissi. Remember that time when we were kids? We wanted the cook's special chocolate cookies before lunch? Jeremy and I were too scared to steal them from the kitchen after our parents tricked us and said no but you did it. And you even shared them with us."

Jeremy grinned at the memory. "Cook remembers that memory fondly quite often," He mused. "She often makes them just because of you."

"See! A woman after my own heart there, Sissi," Odd exclaimed. "Hacking into this prison is nothing on stealing cookies as a toddler!"

"I…" Sissi sighed. Against her will, her lips broke out into a smile. As tired as she was, this feeling of getting support and friendship that she'd always longed for was worth it. "What's the next step, Jeremy?"

Yumi, Ulrich, Aelita and Odd cheered for her as Jeremy dictated the next few stops. A warning bell resounded again and Sissi groaned.

"You can do this, Sissi!" Yumi called out. "You've made it this far!"

Sissi grit her teeth as she focused again. Her ears were ringing as she tried to figure out the complicated programs but eventually sighed in relief as, at exactly half past nine, the light above the detainment room lit up green. A bell rang and this time the doors slid open. The teens trapped in the room yelled in joy and Sissi found herself tackled in a hug by the very people she had been envious of for years.

"Thanks, Sissi!"

"You're incredible!"

"We owe you so much!"

"Take that XANA! The best double agent ever seen! Elizabeth Delmas!"

"Don't call me Elizabeth!" She laughed but her eyes were moist with relief and joy. She had succeeded!

"We have to get going," Jeremy said grabbing the laptop off the floor. "Sissi, go and get ready. The rest of us will have to lay low and it'll take me some time to get our proof in order in time for the coronation."

"Can you manage it? There's less than two hours left, Jeremy?" Aelita asked as the group escaped the Palace grounds thanks to a secret passageway Sissi had shown them.

"I have some of the files already hidden in my room. It'll be close, but I can manage it if I hurry. You all go and get ready too." The French prince looked determined. "We're all graduating today."

Aelita leaned up to give Jeremy a hurried kiss for luck on the cheek as they all rushed off.

The Lyoko Palace's Grand Ballroom was beautiful. Glass chandeliers hung from the ceiling and the floor was glass jewels encrusted in marble. No expense had been spared for the ceremony because this time Lyoko's own Kingdom was getting their own Princess. Beautiful tapestries hung from the walls. Plant arrangements were spread out giving the ballroom an almost fairytale aesthetic. Attending guests were seated above the main ballroom in numerous balcony boxes while the graduating students were seated on the main floor. A red carpet was spread out from the door to the altar on a raised platform where each student would be crowned and given their title.

Sissi stood at the end of the line. As Lyoko's Princess she would be crowned last before the celebrations started. She looked up at the box where Lord XANA and her father were sitting. She hoped her new friends would make it in time. They had had to wait before everyone left before they could start preparing for their own graduations. She also knew they had to evade the guards at the door who had no doubt been warned against letting them in.

The line moved slowly as each Prince, Princess, Duke, Duchess, Lord and Lady of the kingdoms was announced but as Sissi found herself getting closer and closer to the altar, she worried about her friends. Where were they? Sissi didn't know how to stall without outright exposing her intentions. When she finally stepped up on the platform, her ears were ringing as she heard the Priest declare this as a very special coronation and detail the reasons why.

Right as the crown was about to be placed on her head Sissi felt time stop for a moment. It was hard… so hard to speak up in front of all these people. Would it really be all that bad if she got crowned instead? She had been training for it half her life, after all, even if she still wasn't the best at it. In a split second she had to make a decision. It was the most difficult one of her life.

Closing her eyes, Sissi inhaled sharply as she yelled, "WAIT!"

Everyone gasped in surprise and Sissi found herself resorting to doing something she had become an expert at years ago – Confidence and excuses. She had always been the best at throwing tantrums and getting what she wanted. This would be the show of her life.

"Have we followed the entire royal protocol for the coronation?" Sissi demanded.

The priest crowning her paused. "Um… Your Hi-"

"You're telling me… I'm going to be Lyoko's first Princess in almost two decades and we aren't doing this properly?" She huffed. "The ceremonial procedures should all be followed. I want my rule to be authentic."

The priest looked towards Lord XANA and Principal Delmas. The former looked displeased and the latter looked embarrassed and resigned. Finally, Lord XANA allowed the large book of royal protocol to be opened and the ceremonial procedures began starting from Sissi herself and moving to the servants and the audience members. Sissi gulped as she saw Lord XANA whisper something to his guards who swiftly moved out of the ballroom. It was clear the man had already grown suspicious. Sissi hoped the others would avoid getting caught. 'Hurry Up, please…' she thought while plastering a smile on her face as the first procedure began.

It was during the fifth procedure that Lord XANA finally lost his patience. He had been expecting Sissi to give it a rest after the first few but that seemed not to be the case. He realized she was stalling on purpose as he suspected. "Enough! The rule remains authentic. The outdated ceremonies have been satisfied!" He turned to the priest. "Crown her!"

Sissi slowly backed away as once again, the crown approached her head, until… "STOP!"

The ballroom doors slammed open with a resounding thud and five young adults stood in the doorway. Sissi gasped in relief. Aelita, Jeremy, Ulrich, Odd and Yumi were standing there. They were out of breath and despite having cleaned up they looked somewhat ragged. But that wasn't important. What was important was they had made it!

The five nobles in the doorway moved further into the room, jumping suddenly out of the way when a large guard jumped at them, running in from the doorway. A small dog was yipping at his feet, growling and biting at his heels making sure the man would trip if he took a step forward.

"Good boy, Kiwi!" Odd shouted.

"By order of Lord XANA, you're all under arrest for treason and spying against the country of Lyoko and the former Royal family!" He growled. The audience gasped. The parents of the nobles he was addressing sitting in the audience gaped in shock.

"Seize them!"

The guard jumped to obey and was met by Ulrich blocking a hard blow. "GO!" He yelled back. "Jeremy! Aelita!"

Amidst the struggle, Aelita made her way to the stage where Sissi moved aside for her and with a deep breath, loudly declared: "I am Princess Maya Aelita of the Lyoko Family. Daughter of King Waldo Franz and Queen Anthea. I am the Rightful Heir and I'm making my claim to the throne!"

The gasps in the audience were even louder this time.

"PREPOSTROUS!" Lord XANA roared. "They're criminals!"

"We have proof!" Jeremy said in a commanding tone. He held up a file of documents for the entire room to see. "DNA tests between Queen Anthea and Aelita. They've been verified by multiple labs and were conducted by France's most advanced medical research center."

The audience was spellbound.

"Why should a French research center be trusted! It's clear you rigged the lottery to place a spy on the throne. Your computer activity would certainly prove it Prince Jeremy!"

Jeremy's face remained impassive although a cold fury was hidden behind his eyes. "Lyoko's medical centers also confirmed it. If there is any doubt, they can be retaken. But I don't think there should be any doubts considering Aelita's resemblance to Queen Anthea."

Aelita felt everyone's gaze drawn to her and murmurs broke out affirming that Jeremy was correct.

"She's just a decoy! She must be related to the Hopper family! France and Italy have had close political ties for years!"

Queen Marguerite stood then supported by her husband. Her face was a stark white with shock and her eyes bright with tears. "This girl… is not one I have ever met before. She cannot be from my known family."

King Robert frowned. "Be careful what you're insinuating Lord XANA." He warned.

King Michel was next to him. "France and Lyoko have always had peaceful relations. It is not in the interest of your small nation to be making such antagonistic claims."

Lord XANA smiled sinisterly. "It is not I who's sent his son as a student undercover to steal Lyoko's secrets by hacking into private royal servers. Thus, I think we can agree it is certainly not I who is threatening peaceful relations, Your Majesty."

Everyone turned to look at Jeremy.

"Son…?" Jeremy's parents looked at him pale-faced, begging for this to be untrue. Their eyes assured they trusted him but this had dangerous implications and had to be treated properly.

Jeremy took a deep breath. "I did hack into Lyoko's Royal Servers." He admitted openly. "However, I had a reason for it!"

"HE ADMITS IT!" Lord XANA declared loudly. "Let it be known that Lyoko did not incite war. It was France's only Prince!"

"I had a reason!" Jeremy repeated forcefully.

"He was aided by Yumi Ishiyama of Japan, Ulrich Stern of Germany and Odd Della Robbia of Italy!"

The murmurs grew louder as everyone looked horrified at the group of nobles standing in the middle of the room. Lord XANA's words were winning them over. Yumi's mother, Queen Akiko had slumped over in her seat, as had Ulrich's mother. Their husbands only hardened, their faces marred with sharp anger at the claims.

"QUIET" A new voice screeched.

Sissi stood in the middle of her group, eyes wild. "They have a REASON. I, Sissi Delmas, chosen of Lord XANA to assume Lyoko's throne, am witness to it." Her voice shook as she stepped back, giving the floor back to Jeremy.

He looked at her, conveying his immense gratitude through his eyes. Sissi nodded and Aelita took her hand to comfort the shaking girl. Jeremy looked at his audience, took a deep breath and then began.

"King Waldo and Queen Anthea's death was no accident. It was staged by someone close to them. Princess Maya was not yet one. She somehow ended up in an orphanage. No one had seen her in the Palace the day of the wreckage…"

They boy turning man slowly told the story to the shocked audience as Lord XANA grew paler and paler. He had not at all anticipated the teens to have put this much evidence. He had only thought they knew about Aelita's identity with no proof to his involvement in the murder. As Jeremy finished speaking, he growled as he stood and marched down to the main floor.

"YOU!" He screamed. "You ruined EVERYTHING I worked for! YES! I staged Franz and Anthea's deaths! I worked HARD for my power and I DESERVED a throne. And YOU…" He swung violently towards Aelita. The pink-haired girl stepped back in alarm as Odd and Ulrich took up protective stances in front of her, daring Lord XANA to come closer. "You were supposed to die too! I don't know what happened but you were gone from the Palace when I came back! I thought you had been kidnapped but it was easier to say you'd died with your parents to convince the people!"

Spittle went flying as Lord XANA confessed to his own crimes. "My Plan was PERFECT! I had a useless, hairbrained royal chosen as successor to the throne! Manipulating the Delmas family was only too easy with one being a dim-witted Principal with no experience ruling a country himself and his daughter being the weak-willed, selfish idiot she is! Give them what they want and they do your bidding! The perfect PUPPETS!"

Sissi felt her heart fall as she heard those words. All her life… she had wondered why Lord XANA had chosen her among all others from Lyoko's royal hierarchic families. She had wondered if she had possessed an elegance and grace none of the other prospective princesses did. Was it because she was a better negotiator than the potential princes? Was she more diplomatic and beautiful than the potential princesses? All this time… It had been because she was stupid. Because Lord XANA knew he could control her without question.

"Don't call her that!"

Sissi looked up, her eyes full of tears, to hear the young nobles surrounding her who were now defending her.

"You'd be surprised… Lord XANA," Jeremy said sardonically. "Who do you think helped us escape?"

"She's known my identity for months!" Aelita whispered furiously. Lord XANA's admittal to murdering her family had cut deep but she wouldn't remain silent when her friend needed defending. "She refused to tell you."

"She gave up a chance at a throne!" Yumi shouted. "She didn't have to help us but she did!"

"She's been my friend since we were little!" Ulrich said. "She's always been strong willed, determined and intelligent."

"Her strategy is always out of the box. She NEVER gives up!" Jeremy added.

"She's the most resilient person I know!" Odd finished. His eyes were angry but he sent a small smirk Sissi's way, almost like an inside jerk as he continued: "And you'll regret thinking you could play with her without consequences."

Sissi felt her eyes sting with her unshed tears and her lips twitched with a smile at Odd's reference to their own antagonistic game over the years. She had once told him he'd regret playing with her when he'd pranked her. Now he was defending her with those same words. Straightening her shoulders, Sissi swallowed the tears and took a step forward. She looked Lord XANA straight in the eye.

"You underestimated me." She hissed. Her eyes held a fearsome ice. "I'm not your puppet and neither was my father! I am your downfall!"

Behind her, the priest had heard enough. "GUARDS!" He yelled. "Take him to the dungeons."

There was a minor struggle and Aelita took the moment to step forward. "You killed my parents," She said quietly. The ballroom was silent as everyone strained to hear her. "I have no idea how I survived. But I'll make you pay!" She spat. She turned around, waving to the guards to take him away. Her friends surrounded her once more.

Lord XANA vowed vengeance as he was dragged from the ballroom, kicking and shouting. He was followed by a guard each from the Japan, Italy, France and Germany entourages for extra security.

There was a sudden shocked hush that fell over the room once Lord XANA left.

"If I may…" A voice spoke up. It was Jim. He looked bashful as he stood up from his seat next to the students and looked around the room. "I know how you survived, Princess Maya."

Aelita looked up hopefully at the kindest teacher she had met during her time at Lyoko.

"I…I was a guard at the Lyoko Palace when you were little," Jim explained. "I'd rather not talk about it… It's difficult to recount so I never had. But your father… he suspected something was wrong. The moment the Palace got the notice your parents were in a crash I took you to the orphanage nearest. I was planning on bringing you back as soon as you were of age. But you won the lottery…" Jim looked embarrassed. "Staying silent for longer seemed to be the better option."

"You knew, Jim?" Ulrich asked in shock.

"Of course! Why do you think I supervised so many of your tutoring lessons with her?" He asked.

Aelita suddenly flung herself at the older man and hugged him tight. "Thank You," she whispered. Jim had saved her first on her father's orders. The man hugged her back and gave her a gentle pat. "I just hope I did your parents proud, kid. They didn't tell me much of what to do. I'm sorry for leaving you like that but I didn't want to risk Lord XANA finding ya."

"You did enough Jim," Aelita answered, eyes still wet. "I owe you my whole life."

After that revelation, for a moment, no one knew what to do. Then, Queen Beatrice stood up from her seat. "Shall we continue the coronation?" She gently prompted.

The group of nobles yet to be crowned looked at each other and burst into laughter. A few tears even slipped out. They had certainly cleaned themselves up but their clothes were rumpled from running and hiding from guards to make it to the Palace on time. It didn't matter though. The group lined up as the Priest commenced the ceremony again to crown the final six students of Kadic's graduating class.

"Lady Royal Sissi of Lyoko."

"Princess Yumi Ishiyama of Japan."

"Prince Ulrich Stern of Germany."

"Prince Odd Della Robbia of Italy."

"Prince Jeremy Belpois of France."

And finally,

"Princess Maya Aelita of Lyoko!"

A chorus of cheers rung out from the attendees as the six, newly crowned, royals walked to the front of the stage. They linked hands as the audience in front of them dipped into curtseys or bows, thanking them for finally returning the Lost Princess home.

After the ceremony, the ballroom was cleared for a party. The graduating students had their photographs taken and Aelita, Yumi, Jeremy, Ulrich and Odd quickly went to get changed. The clothes they had worn while rushing to the ceremony were more than a little frumpled and were more casual than they enjoyed wearing at a formal ball in celebration of not only graduating but their victory against Lord XANA.

Aelita sighed as she sat down on one of the chairs. Her hand reached up to adjust the tiara resting on her pink locks.


Aelita looked up to see Queen Marguerite standing next to her. Odd had introduced her to his parents a while back and her mother's cousin had hugged her tightly with tears running down her cheeks. "If only I had known…" She had sniffled. "Never would I have let Anthea's daughter grow up in such a way."

Aelita didn't remember how her mother would hug her, but she imagined it had the same warmth as Queen Marguerite. They were cousins after all. Aelita had felt a lump rise in her own throat and had hugged her aunt back just as tightly. It wasn't her mother but it felt close enough. She could see both Odd and Anthea's face and now that it had sunk in that she had some family left alive, it finally felt like her missing piece was complete.

"Just a little," Aelita nodded as her Aunt sat down next to her.

"You don't have to get used to ruling right away, you know," Her aunt said. "Come home with us. Get to know your family."

Aelita bit her lip as she considered the offer. "Who will take care of Lyoko? I-I want to… but…"

Queen Marguerite sighed with a smile. She took Aelita's hand, her eyes fond. "Just like your mother."

"I am?" Aelita looked hopeful. Her aunt only smiled.

"More than you know…" She replied wistfully. "Heavy is the head that wears the crown. And you're wearing your mother's tiara."

Aelita felt her hand unconsciously go back to her hair.

"Franz had it made for her specially. Called me in the middle of the night the week before the wedding to ask what Anthea would like because he said he could work on nothing else with her on his mind. He was foolishly in love with her, that one. Looked at her like young Prince Belpois over there looks at you," Her aunt gave a laugh as she noticed Aelita's blush when she nodded at Jeremy. The older woman then got lost in memories. "He adored you too. Franz was so excited after you were born whenever we would talk. Anthea used to joke he loved you more than her."

"He protected me til the end," Aelita whispered as tears came to her eyes. Jim's story of how she had escaped certain death at Lord XANA's hands was still taking time to sink in.

Queen Marguerite reached out and touched Aelita's cheek. "They would be so proud of you, dear. That you grew up so well. That you found your way home. That you have good friends. And that you're so responsible and brave. And so am I."

Aelita felt the lump return in her throat as the first tears fell. She was the one who initiated the hug this time.

Jeremy gave a sigh of relief as he looked out at the rest of the room full of laughter and chatter and celebration. He hadn't ended up getting France embroiled in war. He knew Lord XANA would play that card against him but the political ramifications were a risk he had had to take for Aelita's sake. He would do anything for her sake. But things had turned out well and all charges were dropped. His mother had both hugged him and given him a light tap on the head for messing with something so dangerous without at least telling them and asking for help. In hindsight that did seem like a pretty stupid move but at the time none of them had actually considered telling the adults would help with the kind of strict foreign relations they had to follow.

But Jeremy's parents were proud of him. They had known the King and Queen of Lyoko. Knowing Aelita was their daughter had come as a shock to them but they were glad the truth had been revealed. They had assured the newly crowned young adults that they would be following up on Lord XANA's trial and offering whatever assistance necessary. That support was backed by the King and Queen of both Germany and Japan who were still quite surprised by the events but were simply relieved that their children's actions would have no repercussions. Italy's support went without saying.

Aelita had been grateful and felt more a part of Jeremy's family than ever when his parents had offered their assistance. She had hugged him tight once they had gotten away, whispering 'Thank Yous' that made him feel on top of the world. It was all worth it.

A part of Jeremy still couldn't believe they had done it. The month and a half of sneaking around and hacking into files and research had all proved what he had initially figured out about Aelita all those months ago. She was Lyoko's lost princess. It was a relief they had managed to succeed. But that didn't mean a part of him still wasn't sad about what it meant for him and his hopeful plans.

A part of him was relieved. Aelita had a family now. She knew her history. Where she came from. It wasn't at all a happy story. But it had a happy ending. Jeremy found himself wondering what would have happened if Aelita hadn't gotten drawn in the lottery. She had told him she had only entered her name thrice this time, as opposed to previous years. Would Jim have somehow gotten her accepted some other way? Would he have still met her and befriended her if that was the case? Jeremy finally concluded that some things certainly existed pure on chance and destiny. What mattered was, she had entered into his life and brightened it up considerably and now he hoped she would remain so forevermore. That was what made him sad… the doubts about whether it was possible.

Kadic had been a safe haven for them all. While Jeremy knew he would miss Yumi and Ulrich and Odd, his friends since middle school, it was Aelita who was in his heart who he was the most scared of parting with. He had had a plan for that before. One practically everyone had known. One he had been too shy to voice for the longest time not realizing it wasn't even needed.

Aelita had asked him one day back in the beginning, if anyone would choose her to be their advisor with her lack of practical experience growing up. He had comforted her then reassuring her she was one of the smartest in the class and so many would want her to be their advisor. He hadn't been lying. What he didn't know was that no one would dare ask her because they all knew Jeremy would. And Jeremy did plan on it. But now Aelita was a Princess and he hadn't had any time to come up with a new plan.

A sudden panic seized his heart. Would Aelita still want to be his friend now that she was a Princess? Logic told him Aelita was certainly not the type of person to use him but his confidence gave way to insecurity sometimes where it mattered the most. Lyoko and France were neighboring countries. It wasn't too difficult to come visit. But if they got busy, then what? Would Aelita still bother with him? What about their mutual feelings? What would become of them? Should he confess or was Aelita happier as she was now. Was it even the right time to confess now that so much had occurred in the past 24 hours? Jeremy suddenly felt like he needed Aelita more than she needed him and he wasn't sure what to do about it except panic.

His brooding was cut short by one of his obnoxious best friends.

"Well, well, Einstein. We won! Why so serious? Lighten up now at least," Odd said, slinging his arm around Jeremy's shoulders.

"That's not it, Odd." Ulrich smirked. "Aelita's a Princess remember? Looks like Jeremy here has quite the dilemma he's still struggling with."

Jeremy flushed and refused to meet his friends' eyes.

"Ohhh!" Odd sounded in realization. "He's right Einstein! Times running out. You gonna ask her or what?"

Jeremy shrugged out of Odd's grip. "I…I don't know." He mumbled. "What if she doesn't feel the same?"

His friends' expressions told that even they knew that was a lie. Even Jeremy and Aelita were aware of the other's feelings.

"What if it's not the right time? So much has happened and what if she just wants to stay friends for now?" He tried again,

"Smartest in our graduating year and still such an idiot?" Odd said woefully slapping his palm against his forehead dramatically.

"Hey! Aren't you supposed to discourage me as her cousin or whatever?" Jeremy asked weakly. "No threats? Nothing?" He turned to Ulrich. "And you… you're in the exact same position as me! When are you going to tell Yumi?"

Odd rolled his eyes. "I'd discourage you if I didn't know how much you already loved her, good buddy. If you hurt her then it's not just me you'll have to worry about so I'll take my chances. But if you're gonna be an idiot and ignore that she loves you too and nothing would make her happier than you fessing up, I might just be tempted."

Jermey frowned as he looked out to the dance floor where Aelita was goofing off with Yumi and Sissi. His eyes softened as he looked at her. "She deserves so much…" Was the only explanation he offered.

"And you are enough," Ulrich replied, patting the newly crowned French prince on the shoulder. "So go tell her now before it's too late and you regret it. She can't come to France with you but you can still make it work." Seeing Jeremy's raised eyebrows, the German prince continued, "And I'll go tell Yumi before its too late for me too."

Aelita pulled Yumi and Sissi aside on one of the ballroom's open balconies away from the hubbub.

"So… I was told I needed to make a decision about my Royal Advisor." Aelita said to the two girls in front of her. "I was given time because of the circumstances of course but… I think I already know my choice."

Yumi and Sissi looked at each other. Yumi looked excited but Sissi's face seemed to fall fixed by a quickly plastered faux smile. She was about to turn away when Aelita said, "Sissi… Would you be my Lady Royal?"

Both dark-haired girls gaped in shock. "M-me?" Sissi asked in disbelief. "Why me? I was awful to you."

"You did the right thing in the end," Aelita shrugged. "And I could really use someone who's been studying politics longer than me."

"But… why not Yumi?"

Yumi wanted to know the same. Her eyes were clouded with hurt in a way never before but she refused to speak out in front of Sissi. Partially out of politeness and partially pride. "Why not me?" She seemed to ask Aelita without words. "I'm your best friend since the beginning. You know how much I've wanted to stay close to you guys so why her?"

Aelita read all these questions and more. She took the older girl's hands in her own.

"I didn't choose Yumi for a very important reason," Aelita said to both but mainly addressing her older friend and roommate. "Trust me, Yumi. You know I'd never hurt you. You'll find out why soon enough."

Some of the hurt abated and Yumi nodded. In her eyes, lingered a curiosity but for now she let it be.

"Congratulations, Sissi," Yumi said warmly. There was no resentment and Sissi was even more taken aback.

"You really don't think I'm too stupid for this?" Sissi looked downcast. Lord XANA's vicious words had been weighing on her throughout the party. "You really trust me after I was awful to you all year because I was… j-jealous?" She said the last word so bitterly and Aelita took Sissi's hands this time, forcing the girl to look at her.

"Never," Aelita affirmed. "You're one of the most trustworthy, strong willed people I know. The past has been forgotten."

Sissi finally smiled then. "Well then I'm honored to be your Lady Royal, Princess Maya."

Grievances forgotten and a bright future to look forward to, the three friends laughed then. Hand in hand, they went back inside to dance.

It was a little while later that Jeremy came to pull Aelita away and soon Ulrich followed suit, wanting to talk to Yumi. Sissi was about to go sit down, not wanting to dance alone by herself when someone unexpected offered his hand.

"Want to dance, Sissi?" He asked.

Sissi looked at the purple-suit clad prince with mock disdain. "You've graduated Della Robbia. Please don't tell me you've forgotten proper etiquette of how to dance with a lady already!"

The prince shot her a grin as he grabbed her hand anyway, recognizing their fights which had now become a game. Sissi didn't resist. "Nah, but I don't need all that to charm the ladies."

Sissi snorted but allowed Odd to lead her in the dance.

"I heard Aelita made you her Royal Advisor," Odd said.

Sissi nodded. "I thought it would be Yumi."

"There's a reason why it isn't Yumi," Odd shrugged. He looked to wear Ulrich and Yumi had left through a while back and Sissi suddenly realized.

"If Ulrich weren't going to ask her then Aelita would never have picked me." Her voice was almost bitter.

"Then Jeremy or I or Ulrich would have," Odd said nonchalantly as if it was a fact and no big deal. Sissi almost wrestled her way out of his arms then and there.

"You can't be serious," She bit angrily. "You all have hated me forever. Especially you, Della Robbia. Just because I helped you once doesn't mean you have to pretend to be nice."

"I'm not," Odd said. It was the pure honesty in his voice that kept Sissi from storming off. "We've never gotten along Sissi but what you did for my family is a debt I can never repay. You were awful to us but we were awful back. And I admitted I really didn't like you for the longest time but that was before I understood what the reason was. I think we can put it behind us now, don't you think?"

Sissi frowned as she thought this over. "Deal," She replied after a moment.

"Great!" Odd was ecstatic. "Now that the serious stuffs out of the way, I can do this." He surprised her with a dramatic dip and Sissi shrieked. Odd cackled as the dark-haired girl yelled at him. She decided to step on his toes in retaliation as they continued to dance.

The dancers in their surroundings looked at the strange pair. The Prince in his purple suit and the Lady in his arms who was glaring daggers at him as they danced, her hair a mess from the way he had dipped her. They shook their heads as they watched them continue to bicker as they danced; the most unlikely of pairs.

Ulrich led Yumi out to the balcony where Aelita had talked to the girls before. She had been surprised but not unhappy when the brunette prince had led her away. She had a feeling where this was going and she'd been waiting for a while for this moment.

"What a day huh," Yumi broke the silence. "We managed to reveal the truth about Aelita, lock up XANA and graduate too."

"Yep." Ulrich nodded. "Quite a rollercoaster."

There was silence for a moment again then, "Now, you're going back to Japan now that this is all over?" Ulrich looked at her tentatively. He took a sip of the juice he'd brought from inside.

Yumi took a sip of her own drink. She looked contemplative as she looked onto the horizon where the sun was almost setting. "That depends…"


"If I have a reason to stay."

Ulrich joined her in watching the horizon. "Don't you? Hasn't Aelita asked you to?"

"She asked Sissi to be her advisor," Yumi answered. "Said she had a good reason for not picking me too. Did she?"

Yumi turned to look at Ulrich and the German Prince realized what Aelita had meant to do. Their sneaky pink-haired princess had given them both a chance.

"Yeah…" Ulrich replied as a smile slowly grew on his face. He stepped forward and gave a slight bow then held out his hand. "Princess Yumi Ishiyama, would you come back to Germany and be a part of my court. As my Royal Advisor and… and the woman I intend to court? I trust and care for you more than anyone else. There's no one I can think of better."

Yumi smiled at Ulrich's confession. With a returning curtsey she shook his offered hand. She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek then. Both of the normally stoic young royals blushed as they stood together and turned to look out at the pink horizon together.

"I accept your offer, Prince Ulrich Stern of Germany. I would love to be your advisor… and I care about you too."

On another balcony on the other side of the ballroom, a shy Jeremy stood with Aelita. The prince had never seen her happier and seeing the pure joy on Aelita's face only made his heart beat faster and his cheeks grow warm.

"You're having fun?" He asked her.

"It's great!" Aelita replied. Then she looked down as she leaned back against the stone railing. "I… It feels so strange, Jeremy. That it's all over. That it's true. That Jim saved me. I haven't had time to fully digest it."

Jeremy stepped forward and hugged Aelita. She held him tighter, listening to his heart beat with a content sigh. Jeremy made her head spin but cleared it too. It was the best feeling. She felt his chest rumble as he talked, "I feel the same way, Aelita. It seems so long ago that I figured out the possible connection but at the same time it feels like no time has passed and we've already succeeded."

Aelita pulled away then her eyes bright with unshed tears. Their faces were still close. "Thank you, Jeremy. Without you… I never would have known. Not until it was too late."

"Anything for you," Jeremy whispered. His eyes were soft as he took her hand and raised it to his lips. Aelita looked up at him hopefully, her heart beating just as fast as his, His blue eyes shone as bright as the first stars that slowly began to dot the sky which was transitioning with the sunset from soft orange to purple.

"A-are you happy, Aelita?" Jeremy asked cautiously.

"Yes." Aelita replied without hesitation. "You've made me so happy, Jeremy. I'm so glad I ran into you on the first day." She giggled as she recalled but there were nostalgic tears behind her laughter too. Jeremy smiled. His heart rose to his throat as he tried to force the words to come out.

"You remember when you asked back in the beginning, if anyone would ask you to be their Royal Advisor?"

Aelita nodded.

"I-I was planning on it. You're my best friend. And you mean everything to me Aelita, I-." He paused. "O-Of course… now you have to stay on Lyoko and I must return to France but…"

Aelita squeezed Jeremy's hand, her eyes begging him to continue. Their feelings had been clear to even each other for so long.

"I can't be without you," Jeremy finally said. "A-Aelita I… I love you."

Without waiting a beat Aelita responded. "I love you too, Jeremy!" She whispered.

She raised her hands to cup his cheeks as she gazed at his face in adoration. This was her first friend. Her best friend. He had offered her kindness and safety at Kadic. He had offered her his family and home when she had none. He had offered her his time and sleep and energy to unveil the truth about her identity. And he now offered her the love she had felt for him for so long too. The love they had felt for each other, together.

He leaned down as she leaned up.

"I love you," they repeated as their lips finally met in a tender adoring kiss.

It was what they had waited for, for so long. Their longing glances, their shy blushes, the spark they felt every time they danced. The trance that had them forgetting everyone around them when they were with each other.

They finally pulled away but Aelita kept her arms around Jeremy's neck and he held her close around the waist.

The music from the ballroom filtered in as twilight fell and the stars came out and twinkled above them. The breeze tickled their hair and the rose brambles growing around the stone balcony released their fresh scent into the atmosphere. They stood there in a loving embrace, two best friends, two lovers, and both of them finally felt that they were home.

And that brings us to the end of the story. I wrote an epilogue but I'm not fully satisfied with it so not sure when it will be up (if at all). Not wanting to leave questions unanswered though I'll link my original headcanons post as well. In summary, what happens is:

-Jeremy and Aelita get married and combine Lyoko and France into one Kingdom
-Yumi and Ulrich get married and Yumi becomes the Queen of Germany alongside Ulrich
-Odd stays in Lyoko more often than Italy because his sisters are enough to run the Kingdom. He prefers to spend time in Lyoko closer to (annoy) Aelita and (court) Sissi. Jeremy visits often when courting Aelita and so do Ulrich and Yumi since they also live in a Kingdom bordering Lyoko. He ends up marrying Sissi eventually as well and much to Aelita's grief, she can never get rid of him and his pranking ways from her Palace halls. xD


I absolutely LOVE the idea of Odd and Aelita being real cousins or siblings. They really have that kind of relationship on the show too. Caring for each other but irritating each other as well. I just had to incorporate it in this story as well. Not only was it important to the plot development, but we get to see Aelita have a real family too. I hope the Odissi and Ulumi was in-character and sufficient as well. This was mainly a Jerlita story cuz they're my favorites so I tend to write the others in mostly sibling-like roles and background ships.

Once again, PLEASE leave a comment if you enjoyed this story. I struggled a lot to write and post this. I was worried no one would be interested in such a detailed obscure AU so if you enjoyed it... pls validate me... But yes, comments would make my day and I always appreciate them. Constructive criticism too!

I'm OceanSpray5 on Ao3 so you may see this there as well although I post there more frequently. My tumblr is Oceanspray5 too.