Kat Lee (katleept) wrote,
Kat Lee

Budding Toward Healing

Title: Budding Toward Healing
Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Batman
Character/Pairing: Ivy/Harley, past Joker/Harley
Rating: PG-13/T
Challenge/Prompt: puzzleprompts April 2018 Entry: ALL Categories
Warning(s): None
Word Count: 2,447
Date Written: 24 April 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to DC Comics, not the author, and are used without permission.

She used to love silence. The only sounds she had needed were the growing of the flowers around her and the gentle breezes lifting her beloved friends. She had been able to go weeks without saying a word or feeling the need to speak or be heard. But that’s all changed now.

Now she looks forward to -- she even craves -- these visits by the only human friend she has. Harley’s stayed a long time this time, and although Ivy adores her companionship, she worries about her these days even more than before. There’s something wrong with Harley, something even if the laughing, dancing hyenas seem unable to fix.

She still smiles. She still laughs. The bells on her clown costume still echo in Ivy’s garden. Everything seems normal, but it’s not. She hasn’t spoken a word about returning to the Joker this time, and although Ivy has for years wanted her to stay with her, she knows something isn’t quite right, and it’s not just because of the way Ivy suddenly appeared on her proverbial doorstep, a limp, hyena pup in her arms and blood covering them both.

A chill races through Ivy as she recalls that night. She’d been up late, planning her next siege of a company that was destroying her mother, but all such plans seem to no longer hold such grave importance for her now. She still has a world to save. She still has killers to stop. But there’s a bright life right in front of her that needs saving a lot more than even Ivy’s precious plants.

What’s happened to her? Ivy wonders as she stirs the crushed mixture of leaves and petals she asked some of her dearest friends for before plucking them, something, yet again, she never would have considered before Harley. Vines slide along Ivy’s muscular legs. One of her particularly large flowers strokes her calf and lets its petals hang low like a panting dog.

Ivy knows her babies are just trying to cheer up, but then she catches sight of two flowers twisting around one another and making the symbol of a heart. “Cut it out,” she hisses, slicing her gloved hand through the air, and then looks over to where Harley’s still laughing, clueless to anything else that’s happening around her.

It isn’t just her hyenas keeping her mind preoccupied though. She hasn’t spoken about that night, and Ivy knows she hasn’t allowed herself to think about it either. She’s keeping it bottled up, and sooner or later, she’s going to explode with the pressure. Ivy’s a little surprised the Joker hasn’t trailed her here yet, not that it would do him any good. She’ll kill that blasted psychopath the very first moment she gets without Harley being aware of what she’s doing. The poor girl thinks she loves the creep; that’s the only reason why Ivy hasn’t already ended his miserable existence.

She looks back down to the mug of tea she’s holding. The liquid is just now stopping its swirling motions, although she stopped stirring it herself when she signaled her misbehaving flowers. How dare they taunt her like that in front of Harley! It’s true, she knows: She does love the girl, but she doesn’t need her knowing it, not yet anyway.

She stares into the dark liquid, thinking back onto her own life. She can still remember when plants were only a hobby for her. As a child, she had discovered the thrill of creating new lives by nurturing seeds; soon thereafter, her plants had become her only friends. They had saved her from her abusive parents and from other people who had tried to hurt her. They’d given her a prosperous career as a botanist, and when her boss had killed her, they had even brought her back to life.

It had been then that she had discovered a bigger, deeper, and far more meaningful calling. Her plant friends were not simply meant to help her survive; she, in turn, as in any symbiotic relationship, was to help them. They had brought her back to life, and she was supposed to do the same for them, and for the world, by bringing back the mother of them all. It hadn’t taken long for Ivy to realize just how much mankind took plants for granted, or how much they thought plant life was supposed to serve them. She had been the only botanist in her entire company who had looked at plants as more than just a way to the mighty, green dollar, and she had killed the rest of those wretched humans with ease and glee.

She’s been working seemingly nonstop toward that goal ever since, but now yet again, she finds herself leaning on her mother and calling upon her strengths and gifts for another reason. She needs more from her. She needs more than just her own life, more than the lives of the plants she’s managed to save. She needs to somehow restore Harley.

Harls would probably freak if she knew Ivy had researched her past, but she knows the other woman used to be a brilliant Scientist. She had worked toward mending people’s lives like Ivy works toward mending plants’ lives, and somehow during her time trying to both understand and reform the Joker, that monster had changed her. Her brilliance had been lost. Ivy’s planned for years to somehow restore her beloved Harley to the bright, cunning woman she was before, but now her need to help her goes even beyond that. She needs to restore her to herself.

She needs to see her blue eyes shine again and the corners around them and her mouth crinkle once more in true amusement. She laughs all day and night now, but the laughter isn’t real. Ivy’s heart knows the difference. These giggles, even the ones she’s producing right now as her hyenas dance around and lick her fingers, are empty echoes of the woman with whom Ivy first fell in love years ago.

She is not the same. The Joker’s changed her again, and Ivy is determined to get to the bottom of it. She’s determined to get the woman she loves back, even if it is only as her friend. Ivy watches her as she begins to approach her cautiously. Harley seems as happy and carefree as ever, but her eyes are dead. Her eyes, the windows to her soul, are empty, and Ivy’s heart aches in sympathy every time her eyes lock with hers.

She’s almost reached Harley again when she feels a gentle tap on her bare shoulder. She turns to find a limb from one of her oldest tree friends holding another batch of crushed leaves and petals. The tree dumps the pile into the tea cup, then swirls it for Ivy. Ivy blinks back tears as she understands that her friends are also sympathizing with Harley not because they care about the clown but because they long for their one human friend to be genuinely happy again. Harley has made her happy, happier than she’s been in years, but that Harley isn’t the one sitting and playing with her hyenas now.

The pup yips, breaking into Ivy’s reverie. The limb pulls back away from her. Her vines lift the cup from Ivy’s hand, turn her around, put the cup back in her hand, and push her gently toward Harley. “Hey, Harls,” Ivy calls, trying not to let her voice tremble with her emotions, “drink this.”

Harley shrugs, for once not arguing. She hasn’t argued with her about anything since she’s come back into her life this time. She eats what she is given, drinks what she is given, and other than that simply lays around in Ivy’s garden and plays with her hyenas. She hasn’t mentioned the Joker, Batman, or anything since she’s been here, and the silence, despite being filled with giggles, jingling bells, yips, and more laughter from the hyenas, has become deafening to Ivy.

She watches, barely breathing, as Harley throws her head back and downs the contents of the cup. This isn’t the first concocotion Ivy has given her, but it is the first one Harley has followed with a great retching sound. “EUUW!” she exclaims, throwing the emptied cup onto the grass. With a flick of Ivy’s wrist, a vine hurriedly lifts the cup and scurries away with it. “WHAT WAS THAT?!”

“That,” Ivy says gently, crouching down before her, “was a wake up call.” She reaches out and gently caresses the blonde’s beautiful face which is already clouding up. “Harley,” she asks, her voice as gentle as the most caring of mothers or lovers, “what happened the other night? What happened before you . . . “

She doesn’t get a chance to finish her question, however, as Harley suddenly starts bawling. The plants shrink away. The puppy yips in despair, runs, and hides underneath the raised limbs of one of the great trees that are Ivy’s nearly constant companions. The other two, adult hyenas sit down and begin to howl.

Ivy pulls Harley into her arms and closes her eyes as she rocks her back and forth. Her heart is crying, and silent tears slowly begin to weep down her face. She hadn’t wanted this reaction, but she had known it would come. She had known it had to come if Harley was to ever return to herself and break the spell into which she had settled to make herself believe everything was okay. It had to be broken, or her friend would never be herself again.

“HE’S HORRIBLE! SO HORRIBLE!” Harley wails, and Ivy stiffens. She was right: The Joker was to blame, but for the first time in many, many years, Harley was beginning to see her boyfriend for what he truly was. “OH, RED! HE TRIED TO KILL SPOTS, AND THEN HE TRIED TO KILL ME!”

“He’s not going to,” Ivy whispers, hugging her tightly. “He’s never going to kill you or your animals!”

She hears a growl and looks to see that Spots has come out from hiding beneath the tree’s limbs and is shaking what others would mistake for a weed in his salivating mouth. Even seeing him hurt a plant, Ivy can not be angry at the pup for he’s only doing what comes naturally, and Harley’s hyenas are as much a part of her as Ivy’s plant friends are of herself. A vine snaps the pup’s rear end, making him drop the goldenrod, holler, and run back underneath the tree’s limbs.

Ivy returns her attention to Harley who is just finishing her sputtering story of how the Joker had taken out his wrath on her hyenas and herself that awful night. “He will never,” Ivy vows, holding her tight, “touch you again!” It seems like she’s waited for this moment for years, but Harley has at last come to her and awakened the true horror that is her beau. As long as she recognizes the Joker for what he is, Ivy has a chance of saving her from him. She kisses her cheek and vows once more, “He’ll never hurt you again.”

Then she simply holds Harley and rocks her as she cries, and the whole time the little clown cries, Ivy silently reflects. Mother Nature saved her, and now at last she is finally beginning to be able to save Harley. She will teach Harley, as she’s already began to do, about the importance of the green life around them. She will draw her further away from the Joker and train her in the way of caring for those who truly can not defend themselves. She, like herself, will become one of Mother Nature’s most cherished daughters, and eventually they will build a land together, a paradise where plants, hyenas, and women are never harmed, a paradise here on Earth where they can live together forever.

She feels a tug on her green leotard and looks down to see her vines having brought a pot full of friends to them. “Harls,” Ivy says gently, slowly pulling out of their embrace, “I think this is for you.”

Harley looks down through her tears and gasps at the beauty of the rainbow-coloured roses, one of Ivy’s most recent projects in which she had been testing out new colors of buds just for fun. She had some spectacular results, not the least of which were the roses that were now opening their buds up for Harley and singing. She looked to the secret love of her life to see if she would understand their gift and smiled as Harley gushed.

“They’re beautiful!” she cried but didn’t try to pluck them from the box. Instead she lifted the roses, box and all, and hugged the wooden box in which they sat. “They’re beautiful!”

“And so,” Ivy said gently, reaching out and wiping her tears away with her gloved fingers, “are you.” The Joker would never hurt her again, Ivy swore once more. Those corporate conglomerates would just have to wait. Joker was the next on her list. She’d kill him when Harley was distracted elsewhere and would continue to grow Harley with the same gentle, loving, and tender care she devoted to her plant friends. She would grow her back into the brilliant woman she had been before the Joker had infected her. She would save her -- the fact that she had been able to successfully break his latest spell on her was proof of that --, and together they would save the world.

“Hey!” Harley laughed, and this time, it was genuine. Ivy basked in the sound like a rose lifting up toward the sunlight. “Hey! Stop pushing!” Harley laughed again but was then almost thrown into Ivy’s lap.

Vines swept the boxes of roses to safety just before Harley collapsed into Ivy’s lap, but she caught her as she felt vines guiding her by pressing gently into her own back. She caught her, lifted her mouth up to her lips, and felt them both begin to heal in the warmth of their budding love as they kissed and kissed and kissed so more. Ivy smiled against Harley’s lips. The hyenas were laughing merrily again, and she could swear she could hear some of her plants clapping. Oh, yeah, Harley definitely belonged her, and she belonged to Harls just as surely and as fully as she belonged to Mother Nature. She was finally completely healed, and one day, her Harley would be too. She would see to that, and she knew she would succeed, as she always did, with the help of her dearest friends, the plants who were even now cheering them on.

The End
Tags: batman: ivy/harley
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