Out With The Old, In With The New
A knock at the door startled Buffy awake. She wanted nothing more than to snuggle closer to Barinthus and drown out the world. She grinned at her choice of words, considering her lover was an actual sea god. She pushed on his shoulder to wake him but didn't need to bother; his expressive eyes were already looking up at her.
"Someone's at the door, and I don't think you want them to see you like this.” She playfully patted his bare behind as he crawled from the bed.
"Be careful, Pixie, if you want me to leave this bed then don’t play," he growled teasingly in her ear, giving her a quick kiss before strolling to the bathroom.
"Come in," Buffy called out, after making sure she was decent.
The woman, who had waited on her the previous day, cautiously entered the room. She hesitantly walked toward the bed, her large eyes looked everywhere but at Buffy. It bothered Buffy that it seemed as if the poor woman expected abuse from her. When none came, she laid a beautiful emerald dress trimmed in gold on the bed, and quickly stepped back. It didn’t pass Buffy’s notice that she moved outside striking distance.
"I brought your dress for this morning. The entire court is abuzz about what will be announced, milady.”
"Do you want me to draw a bath?"
Buffy immediately regretted her outburst. The poor woman practically curled in on herself. Buffy inhaled slowly, working hard to control her temper. No one deserved to live like this. She purposefully softened her tone, while sending what she hoped was an encouraging smile at the poor woman.
”I mean that I can do it. I'm not used to having someone wait on me, but thank you for asking.”
The older woman nodded and knew it wasn’t her place to understand the workings of the Royal Court. She admitted that she didn’t understand this tiny human child. Her head shook at her musing. It wasn’t her place to understand her king, simply to serve him as her family had done for centuries. She wasn't used to anyone treating her graciously. This small woman-child was strange to say the least.
Merry rolled closer to the warm body next to her. She moved a hand down to touch her stomach where the child slept safe and warm. Her thoughts drifted to what the day's outcome would bring, not only to her little family but also everyone that had once shared her bed. Andais wasn't known for her benevolent nature, especially when it involved Cel or threatened her right to rule.
"There's nothing we can do, Merry. We just have to hope that Buffy told the truth about her magic protecting you and the babe," Frost's deep voice rumbled close to her ear.
"She did, I know she did.” Sage fluttered close to the parents-to-be. "You only have to look in her eyes to know that she wouldn't let anything happen to Merry or the baby," the normally sneaky demi-fey said with a straight face, his tone serious and honest.
"I hope Buffy and the others are all right. Taranis is unpredictable, not to mention being completely insane."
"Rhys, be careful the walls have ears.”
Merry looked over Frost's shoulder to her former lover. He stood there with a proud, hard look in his tri-colored blue eye.
"No, the time for being quiet is over. We've stood by long enough, watching our rulers break our most sacred laws."
"You maybe right but starting a war now won't help Merry or our babe. We must fight one battle at a time. Right now, we need to prepare Merry to fight Cel. He won't fight fairly; his only goal is to remove her as a threat to his ascension.”
Frost got out of bed, and immediately started pacing the floor. Merry couldn't stop the grin from crossing her face as she watched. She thought he resembled a snow leopard, all sleek muscles, grace and power wrapped in beautiful, glowing skin.
They jumped when someone knocked on the door, exchanging nods, Rhys moved to open it. Onilwyn stood there with his dark green hair pulled back from his coarse face, wearing an evil smirk while his eyes scanned the room for Merry. "The Queen sent me with a message for Merry."
"That's Princess NicEssus to you, Onilwyn.”
Rhys’ hand went to the gun at his side, while his expression clearly shown with contempt for the other man.
, Queen Andais requests your presence at tonight's gathering. Ensure that you and your consorts dress appropriately, and arrive promptly at seven. Queen Andais wanted you to know that the houses will be in attendance.”
He turned to leave but stopped to spin back around. Onilwyn looked as Merry much the way one did a pig ready for slaughter.
"Cel said to tell you that he's looking forward to making you bleed."
Rhys strode across the short distance to grab the much larger man by the throat. He pushed Onilwyn up the wall several feet above his head.
"You may send Prince Cel a message for me. If he thinks to try anything dishonorable during the challenge, he will be immediately engaged in another…with me."
Frost suddenly appeared beside them. Even used to Sidhe swiftness, no one had seen him move.
"Should I let Geamhradh Po'g
help you remember? I'm sure the Winter's Kiss would happily free you and Cel from the love of flesh, or anything else for that matter.”
Onilwyn paled at the implied threat. He shuddered at the mere idea of never feeling passion again. He eagerly awaited the day Cel took the throne, and lifted the Raven's geas. Onilwyn shook his head afraid to infuriate the former second-in-command further.
"Good, now leave, you're fouling the air."
Taranis sat on his throne, in all his golden glory, wearing gold from the crown on his head down to his shoes. It was as if he wanted to remind the court he was their king. He heard the murmurs and caught the glances cast about the room. Slowly but surely, his hold as king was slipping through his fingers, but after today no one could doubt his right to rule.
Two Seelie guards escorted Buffy into the room. The figure hugging green and gold dress complimented her coloring to perfection. Once again, he regretted her non-Sidhe status. She would make a wonderful queen with her looks and regal bearing. Buffy gracefully curtsied before him, and then simply stood there as if she had all the time in the world. He sent her a pleading look, pouring every ounce of power into his glamour. Two huge gold-flecked green eyes stared at him unaffected. Her expression remained smooth and calm, as she waited. It was clear to Taranis that she wasn’t about to budge.
Standing before his throne, he addressed the Seelie Court. "My loyal subjects, I come before you with grave and joyous news.”
The court started whispering loudly only quieting when Taranis raised his hand.
"Please, wait. You will see the good far outweighs the bad. I know it has not gone unnoticed that I have not produced an heir.”
Quieter whispering passed through the court in waves. Heads nodded as the rumors heard for years came to the collective crowd’s mind. They moved closer together as if they had one thought, and one body.
"There is more I would tell, but won't speak over you.”
It had the effect of ice water, splashing in their faces. All eyes turned to the throne. "Thank you, now as I was saying, I must first tell you the bad so we may rejoice in the good."
His eyes went to Buffy, who had started swaying gracefully from side to side. Her eyes were half closed as if she danced for a lover. Taranis found it hard to turn away from the picture Buffy created.
"I have ruled you for over a thousand years, and sadly there are no children to show for it. I must tell you the fault for this lay with me, not my former wives.”
This time nothing he did could stop them from whispering aloud. Some braver ones shouted out their scorn for the man who governed them.
"You killed Emrys for speaking the truth...You banished Maeve...Step down, step down.”
They shouted angry words at him. Their anger fueled the air with their power.
Taranis didn't hesitate to brandish his in an attempt to calm them. He was the Lord of Light and Illusion. Where his illusion transformed him into the most desirable person in the feydom, his power over light was something more. It had been many years since he had used his power, Taranis didn't hesitate when he saw his throne threatened.
A huge flare of light burst from his hands. It burned so brightly that it blinded the court, forcing them to throw their hands up in defense. Now, came the rest, the light grew in intensity until it reached that of a finally honed laser. Screams were heard when more than a few of the closer courtiers felt it slice through their skin and bones like butter.
Buffy stepped forward, immune to the intensive burning light. She put her hand on his arm causing Taranis to look down at her. Buffy frantically shook her head.
"No, no, bad men don't get to have babies.” The singsong pitch was back in her voice, making her sound like a little girl, talking to a naughty doll.
Taranis immediately stopped, causing sighs to echo through the court. All eyes turned to the small woman beside their king, wondering for the first time what she was and what she had to do with the Seelie.
"Forgive me; there's more to the story if you would allow me to continue.” He paused noting the court's silence. "That's much better. Now, as I was saying, I remained sterile all these years, no matter what I tried; it always ended in failure. That time has ended with this child’s arrival in our court. A new Sidhe will one day soon ascend to this throne as my true heir. The seers say she has the gift to make the fey fertile. She will ensure my line continues to rule the Seelie Court."
"That isn't exactly true, Trainwreck," Buffy announced in a clear, firm voice.
She stared him straight in the eyes with no hesitation. Her eyes were clear, and her voice no longer held that childlike quality.
"What! You'll do as you're told or I'll flay the skin from your body one piece at a time," Taranis roared, while his hand extended to grab her.
Buffy easily slipped his reach. Her hands went to her hips in anger, as she shook her head at his stupidity.
"Please keep your to yourself. That's if you want to keep them. Besides, I don't think that my lover would appreciate you handling his woman."
"That's the truth, Pixie. I'm the only man allowed to handle
Barinthus strode into the room like the god he was.
Taranis paled, and stuttered,"Barinthus, what's the Kingmaker doing here? What do you know of this woman?"
"I'm here to find who worked with one from the Unseelie Court to have Princess NicEssus kidnapped and killed.”
He stepped behind Buffy to wrap his arm around her tiny waist. She leaned into his tall, hard body with a soft smile gracing her lips.
"We know everyone involved, but are only interested in the one that wanted Merry dead."
Taranis, though insane, wasn't stupid. He knew they weren't announcing his part in the plot. His blue within blue eyes caught sight of his personal guards coming for him. If the court knew about his involvement in an attempt to murder a member of the Unseelie Royal Family, he would be executed immediately.
"If you know who is responsible, take them and leave my court.”
He waved a hand at them, wondering if could possibly find a way to keep his throne. Everything was falling down around him, and he wasn’t sure how to keep his throne.
Doyle silently moved into view with his hand wrapped around Besaba's arm. Merry's mother shrieked and kicked at the Queen's Darkness with little effect. Buffy and Barinthus looked at the woman who had conspired to have her own daughter killed. They stared at her with contempt, and Besaba couldn't stop the shiver that raced down her spine.
"I don't know what you're talking about, release me at once. Taranis help me," she begged her lover, having missed the events before her entrance. She wasn't aware that Taranis would be lucky to be able to help himself.
"Take her and go, the Seelie Court has no use for any of you."
"Not quite yet, Trainwreck. I have some other news for someone here.”
Turning without a backward glance, Buffy walked across the polished floor to a beautiful woman who stepped back.
"You don't have to be frightened; I have good news for you and your husband.”
She smiled at the woman, not missing the protective hand that came up to defend her.
"What do you want with my wife?" the man said, moving his wife further behind him.
He stood taller than any other Sidhe, except Barinthus. He had sun kissed skin, and beautiful brandy colored hair that fell in a straight cape to his knees. His tri-colored mahogany hued eyes ranged icy-pink to the deepest maroon, and glowed with some inner light, Buffy hadn’t seen in the other Sidhe, except those close to Merry. They should appear cold or hard, instead they gave off a warm feeling, rather like a toasty fire. The woman in his arms had beauty only capable in the Sidhe Sidhe. Her coal dark hair fell in riotous curls to her ankles and rivaled Doyle's own darkness. When the light hit it rather than highlights of red, it cast out prisms in blues, purples and pinks. Her eyes were varying shades of purple from the deepest royal to deep lilac. Her cheekbones accented the perfectly heart-shaped face that framed a Cupid's bow mouth that seemed right only when it smiled.
"Are you Merry's aunt?”
Buffy already knew the answer; she had dreamed about her before they left their underwater abode. The woman nodded unable to stop the soft smile that forced itself through her feelings of confusion and fear.
"I've come to ensure the Seelie Court is given a just and fair ruler."
"No, you were brought here to help me sire a child.”
Taranis made as if to stop Buffy, but quickly stopped when Barinthus gave him a hard look. Andais wasn't the only royal that knew the Kingmaker's past and current status.
Buffy ignored his outburst, and gently took the woman’s hand.
"You and your husband are the new rulers. There's something else.”
She wiggled her finger getting them to step closer. "You'll have another child, soon. I can't tell you're the exact date but I've seen it. When the time's right, I'll return and ensure the Seelie Court has another royal heir. Please, make sure you choose wisely who among your children you name as heir. Do not worry, that time is many years from now. You will have your hands full getting this place under control.”
She smiled at them then kissed them on the cheek.
"Good luck. I imagine your first orders will be to decide what happens to Glamourpuss. I'm just glad I don't have to deal with him.”
She grinned mischievously at them. They couldn’t help but smile back, unsure about the woman who had turned their world upside down
”I'd be tempted to make sure that he wasn't only sterile but impotent too.”
She walked back over to the former Seelie King. The court watched in awe as their “king” stepped back from the tiny human. Their awe turned to shock when they heard what she said next.
"Trainwreck, you've been a bad boy. You should have known better than to break the rules. I'll make sure Nightmare knows that you weren't involved in the plot to kill Merry.”
Buffy paused to allow her words to filter through the court. She sent Taranis a feral smile, and she raised her voice to ensure everyone heard her.
”You are on your own with regards to the rest. Now, if you'll excuse us we have a mother and daughter reunion to make.”
She slipped her hand into Barinthus' while Doyle dragged Besaba closer. The court had no idea what to expect next, but it certainly wasn’t what occurred before their eyes.
"Here goes nothing.”
The court gasped when a blue portal opened before their eyes.
"Relax, it's just a big ole hole in the world.”
She giggled , stepping through with her lover with Doyle and his prisoner following closely behind them.
Merry felt surprisingly peaceful as she prepared for her challenge with Cel. She wasn’t sure why but she wasn’t worried about the challenge. Merry wondered if it was the babe, or Buffy’s reassurance that they could come to no harm until she safely delivered.
She pulled on black leather pants, a matching jerkin and strapped her father's sword to her still slim hips. It somehow made her feel as if he watched over her, helping fight against her most dangerous foe. Next came, the leather gauntlets Barinthus gave her on her sixteenth birthday. Strong black boots with three-inch heels completed the outfit.
Beneath her eyelashes, Merry watched Frost dress in matching clothes. He looked utterly delectable in complete black. It made his silver hair shine, even brighter catching the light against the stark coloring. Merry knew he kept the fear for her and the baby from showing on his beautiful face. She slid two stilettos into her boots and put a smile on her face, before turning to her lovers - past and present.
"So, how do I look? I want to cause Cel to quake with fear when he sees me.”
Merry held her hands out to her sides, allowing Frost and Rhys to appraise her outfit.
"Merry, you look beautiful as always, even a little dangerous but not fearsome," Rhys said, trying to keep a playful note in his voice but failing terribly.
"Rhys, I promise you, that I, we, will be okay. I can't explain it, but I know this is the right thing to do. It's almost as if my father's talking to me, telling me what moves to make. I can almost see the whole challenge and how it plays out in my mind's eye."
"Could you let us tune into the same channel, because I've got to tell you, my mind's playing a whole different feature."
Merry walked over to Rhys, her alternate next choice for who she wished as the father of her child. She swept his pure white hair from his face. It felt as soft as cotton to her touch. "I promise that we'll survive this."
Rhys closed his one good eye and rubbed his face in her hand, gathering comfort from it. Frost came up behind her, wrapping an arm around her. She closed her eyes and leaned back against his broad chest. Rhys went to pull away but Frost stopped him.
"No, let us take comfort in one another.” Frost extended his arms to include one of his oldest friends as well as the mother of his child. They held one another for a few moments, only moving away when Sage interrupted.
"What about me? I need some Merry loving too.” His small arms crossed over his chest and his bottom lip jutted out in protest. Merry laughed, moving out of her human cocoon.
"Come here Sage and give me a hug."
A knock at the door announced that the fate of their futures had arrived.
Andais stood before her throne dressed in black velvet. Her coal black hair fixed atop her head to look like a crown with diamonds and pearls interlaced in an intricate design. The precious jewels captured the light each time she moved. No one looking could tell that she wanted to claw her own skin, or better yet, someone else's. Her mind reeled with the consequence of this challenge. If Cel won, and it became public knowledge that Merry carried a child under her breast, then they faced the death penalty. If Merry won, Andais still lost Cel when Merry announced the pregnancy not to mention his attempts on her and the babe's lives. She couldn't foresee anything about tonight ending well.
She saw Merry and her lovers enter from the left at the same time that Cel entered with Siobhan and Onilwyn from the right. Looking at her son, Andais couldn't stop the pride that swept through her. Ready for a fight, looking like this, he reminded her of his father - Owain. Not for the first time did she wonder how different Cel would have been if her Owain had lived. She became her most vicious, earning her nickname Lover of White Flesh, when her anguish over Owain overcame her even after all these years. Andais only found relief from her still broken heart when she induced someone else to hurt as much as she did, even if their pain was only physical. Raising her hand, the court became silent with anticipation for tonight's event.
"Thank you for coming tonight, it will be a night none of us will ever forget.”
Everyone wondered at the strange note in the queen's voice but waited patiently to learn its cause.
"You've been invited here tonight to witness a challenge between my son, Cel and Merry.”
She didn't mention Merry's status as her niece, not wanting highlight their relationship due to the circumstances.
"The challenge was witnessed and the rules have been met."
"What's the cause for this defiance? Don't they still race for an heir and the throne?" a voice shouted from the back of the court.
"Their reasons are their own, but I've witnessed it and am in agreement with the challenge.” She dared anyone to question her word. "Very well, Cel, Merry, step forward so this can begin."
Merry squeezed Frost's hand. "Remember that we'll be all right and that we love you.”
Before he could utter a word, Merry approached the throne. Cel confidently strutted forward. He had determined that he would easily win this challenge then no one would stand between him and the throne. He too was dressed completely in black with his large broadsword lashed to his thigh.
"I'm prepared if you are, cousin.”
He smirked at Merry but couldn't stop the strange chill that raced down his spine. The hair on the back of his neck stood up and goose bumps rose across his skin. Cel shook off the strange feelings, before moving forward to take his place.
As soon as the protection circle closed around them, Merry spoke out.
"I declare this a match to the death."
Gasps and protests echoed through the crowd. Andais protested, "You can't do that Merry."
"I can and will, aunt, unless Cel's too afraid," she clearly provoked, waiting for her cousin to take the bait.
"The day I'm afraid of you, Merry, is the day I die."
"As you wish, do you give your blood oath to that fact?"
Requesting a blood oath was the biggest insult one Sidhe could give another. Sidhes don't lie. Asking for the oath meant that the Sidhe was a potential oath breaker. Cel all but growled at his cousin, she had painted him into a corner. If he refused, the court would brand him liar, which for the fey was a death sentence.
"Of course I do, cousin; I have nothing to hide and will be more than happy to take a blood oath."
"Remember you own words, cousin. Now, let's get this done, I wish to spend the remainder of the night with my lovers.”
She said loud enough for the crowd to overhear. It kept the facade up that she still trying to get pregnant.
"As you desire, I offer you first choice. Do you want to cut me or should I cut you, so we may state our oath before these witnesses."
"You may go first, Cel. I know that you wouldn't want anyone to assume that you've no honor.”
Merry's gold and green tri-colored eyes told Cel that she didn't trust him not to follow the rules of challenge. Saying it aloud for everyone to hear insured that he could do nothing underhanded. He drew his broadsword and cut a shallow dash into Merry's palm. "Now, it's you turn, Merry. I trust you also are honorable.” Even to his own ears, his returning salvo fell short.
"Here Cel, accept this in the manner it's intended.”
Merry gave a cold smile while she sliced his hand.
"I say that we begin, what say you?"
Cel didn't reply, but instead simply brought his sword down in an effort to knock hers from her hand. Merry anticipated his strike and met it. She understood that she wouldn't last long if they exchanged blows. As a full-blooded Sidhe warrior, Cel was strong. She had to press him into exchanging these weapons for another.
"Is that all you have? I think you're slipping, cousin. Haven't you been practicing or did you assume no one would dare challenge you? You probably don't even remember how to use your hand of power; it's been so long. That's why it didn't work on Buffy," she mocked, while swinging at his head.
Cel barely moved in time. His anger caused his face to flame bright red when he heard snickers from the crowd. The whispers reached him about how easily the last woman he fought beat him. Throwing his sword aside in a fit of temper, he his arm received a nasty slash when Merry carried through with her sword.
"Enough! Let's finish this and be done with each other. I'll show you how well I still wield the Hand of Old Blood.”
Even as he spoke, he easily pulled his power about him ready to throw it out at his opponent. Cel silently thanked Merry for insisting on a blood oath. His hand of power only needed blood to allow him access. The Hand of Old Blood could cause blood to flow from any previous injury - old blood.
When Cel threw his power out at Merry, she pulled on her new power - the Hand of Blood. She asked for the blood oath on purpose, and intended to use her recent power to draw Cel's blood from his body.
As the dueling power hit their respective targets, a portal opened and four people walked through. Screams echoed throughout the court. Everyone watched as the hole winked out of sight, leaving its occupants.
Only Andais, Merry and Cel's people viewed what took place next. The power aimed at Merry bounced off, leaving her unscathed; however, hers hit Cel full-force. The court turned back in time to see their prince fall to the floor with blood gushing from every orifice.
Merry used the Hand of Blood with ease. She pushed the power forward with each step she took toward her cousin. The whispers ran amok. It was over a thousand years past that anyone had wielded the Hand of Blood by Andais' own father, the Mad King. The court believed the hand lost with the old king along with so many other fey powers.
What did it mean for Merry to wield two such powerful hands as the Hand of Flesh and the Hand of Blood? She had only come into her first hand six months ago and now an additional more deadly hand shows.
Andais ignored the political uproar while she watched in horror as her son’s lifeblood seeped from his body. It's true the Sidhe were immortal, but if drained of their blood, they would pray for death. Her father only used the Hand of Blood when there was no other recourse, or in times of war. Her heart broke once more as she watched someone she loved fade before her eyes. Cel started writhing as his body convulsed from lack of blood to take oxygen to his brain.
"Enough, Merry, enough.” Andais didn't realize that she spoke out until all eyes turned to her. "Bring me Mortal Dread."
The court didn't know how to comprehend what was happening. A blood challenge, an ancient hand of power, and now the queen calling for one of the few things that could kill a fey. Mistral, the commander of the queen's guard, brought the weapon that all fey feared. It was a short sword forged with mortal blood, which could kill the fey.
"Release the circle, Merry.” Andais ordered for only the challenge winner could open the protective circle.
"Who will you use that on aunt, me or your son?” Merry challenged, taking another step toward Cel, pushing her power at him with the force of Mac truck.
"I would end my son's pain," Andais' whispered, allowing Merry to hear the pain hidden in the words.
Merry stepped back and said the necessary words, "This challenge has ended. I'm triumphant, let the circle fall away."
Andais rushed forward and without a second thought pushed the sword through her son's heart. He looked at her in confusion then without a word died. Mistral rushed forward to catch his queen when her knees buckled.
Buffy stepped from the portal and instantly took in the situation. Barinthus took her hand to keep her from rushing forward. Doyle dragged Besaba who was still trying to break his hold on her arm. Mistral sat Andais on her throne then raced to get Eamon, the queen's consort. He didn't like the way Andais kept repeating, "Not again," while she rocked back and forth.
Frost and Doyle caught each other's eyes, understanding immediately what was happening to Andais. Few people knew that she had delivered the deathblow to Owain during the wars after a goblin's bite had poisoned him. She forbade anyone else to kill her love and end his misery. The former Ravens didn't think the queen's sanity would return from Cel's loss. When Owain died, she had Cel to think about but with him gone, Andais had nothing to hold her to this world. Frost moved to Merry's side to ensure for himself that she had come to no harm. Doyle dragged Besaba, not to the queen, but to Merry. Without any official proceeding, Merry became the new ruler of the Unseelie Court. It was confirmed with the words spoken next.
"Your majesty, I bring to you the traitor who plotted to have you abducted and assassinated. She not only put your life in danger but that of your unborn child."
Shouts of incredulity and anger came from the royal houses that made up the court. Sholto, the King of the Slaugh, moved forward, causing the other houses to calm.
"Is this true, Princess?”
He dared not call her by her new title, until the formalities were met.
"Yes, I'm with child, and this woman, my mother, conspired with Cel to have me kidnapped then killed.”
She looked up at her aunt and felt pity. "Though I'm not sure whether Cel was involved in all her plans, Doyle and Barinthus have witnessed my mother's involvement. Take her to Ezekiel until sentence can be passed on her.” With those few words, Merry took on the full mantle of becoming their new queen. No one protested, they knew that Andais had promised to step down when either produced an heir. Looking up at their former queen, they understood she was no longer in her right mind, if she had ever truthfully been since Owain's death.
"I protest. I'm not part of this court and can't be judged by anyone here, certainly not her.”
Besaba pointed a finger at her daughter. All the hatred and jealousy that had grown over thirty years was easy to hear in her voice.
"Now, that isn't precisely true, Beelzebub. Trainwreck handed you over to be judged by this court. He sent you packing; of course, he lost his throne and wouldn't have been able to assist you."
"Shut up you little bitch," Besaba snarled, lunging at Buffy but Doyle caught her.
"Merry, your mother has a potty mouth. You should thank Points there for saving your butt. I'm not someone you want to tangle with Beerstain. Of course, if you'd like to discover for yourself I'd be happy to demonstrate."
"Take her away, Doyle, before I allow Buffy to use her for target practice," Merry's voice said weary but forceful.
"You can't do this, I'm your mother," she screamed over her shoulder as Doyle dragged her from the hall.
"Gotta say Merry, your mother's got a loud voice. My ears are still wringing from her bitching.”
Buffy made a show of shaking a finger in her ear. Merry smiled at her antics. She admitted life would never be dull with Buffy around.
"I'm afraid you're right. I take it from your appearance Taranis is no longer the Seelie King."
"Nope, your aunt and her husband are the new muckity mucks. How could your aunt be so nice and your mother be so…"
Barinthus put a hand over his lover's mouth. "We're happy to see you doing well, Merrygirl. The Seelie Court's taking care of your uncle and the new rulers accepted their change in stature with dignity. Buffy even told your aunt that she'd have another child. We're to return when it's time but they'll need to get everything under control first. They have roughly a thousand years to straighten it out. You have some cleaning up of your own to do.”
He looked on his oldest friend's daughter with pride at the woman she had become. Merry will be a wonderful queen to her people. There's once again hope for the Sidhe of both courts.
Merry and Frost married one week later. Andais retired to an area of the Sithin to be watched over by Fflur for the rest of her days. She just rocked back and forth, talking with Cel and Owain but no one else. Merry removed the geas and reinstated Doyle as the commander of the Queen's Guard.
Kitto and Galen arrived later that day after everything was over. They were happy to reunite with their friends. Kurag gave Kitto to Merry as a wedding present.
Buffy and Barinthus left the court to return to the sea, promising to return for the baby's birth. She felt as if she had finally found a home, her place in this world. She swam with Barinthus, meeting the underwater creatures under his command, chasing Sebastian and loving Barinthus more each day.
Buffy was happy in the underwater kingdom with her lover.
They lay wrapped in each other's arms, their passion once again sated.
A shadow fell over the bed as a figure looked down on the lovers. A smile crossed Whistler's face as he watched a small glowing light encompass the two people who knew him in both of his lifetimes. A soft chuckle escaped his lips.
"Oh kid, wait till you see what they gave you this time. If anyone deserves it, you do. You do good work.”
He disappeared at the same time the glow stopped. The End
d from the site, and ones that were never housed here.