by Nancy Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org)
copyright 1997, 2001
As always, the characters and locations belong to Disney and Buena
Vista. This particular dance belongs to me, though I'm not opposed
This story has been bubbling and brewing in one of my
unconsciousnesses for quite some time, but the final spark of
inspiration was finally given by a line in "The Hills Come Between
You and Me." I'd highly recommend reading that story to anyone who
hasn't. (This story takes place in a different universe, although
the characters do occasionally meet for tea and raktagino [extra
hot with two allotments of kava].) More than a healthy bit of
inspiration also stemmed from "Angela's Awakening." Let that
be your "mature situations" warning.
Again, I offer my apologies to the Inlink siblings (no puns this
time; Zippy the Wonder Idiot forgot to run it through spell check
before you saw it last).
With less noise than a mouse would make, and far more care,
Titania slipped out of the tangle of fur and silk and gossamer that
made her bed. Oberon shifted in his sleep, but did not awaken, not
as she bid a spider-thin dressing gown appear around herself, nor
even when she opened the lead crystal door leading out to her
balcony and shut it behind her again.
Avalon slept. The many creatures that called it home, the
hoofed, the furred, the winged, the immortal, and the rest,
slumbered with it, or shambled near to the remnants of fires,
muttering amongst themselves beneath the dying starlight. The
fevered celebration for the return of all Avalon's children, save
one, had withered away as long-separated friends and anxious lovers
drew to their groups and pairs and wandered into the welcoming
night. Morning approached, and even the gargoyles were readying
themselves for their dawn-enforced sleep.
The Gathering had come. Although it had been over a month as
mortals held time, only three days had passed here since her Lord
and husband had decreed the banishment of all their people was at
an end. She found it difficult to believe yet. This was her home,
her Island, the land of her birth, and it had been ten centuries
since she'd last stood on this balcony. Could it really have been
Often during her exile, she had tried to picture what it would
be like to come back, come home. After the first three hundred
years, she would have nights when she woke, uncertain of who or
what was real. Titania? Queen of the Fairies?! Madness. Her
name was Elizabeth, or Kate, or Anastasia, and Avalon was a dream-
place in those stories by Malory. But now the World was the dream,
and the people in it, dreams who had looked on her faces, and
called her friend, lover, mother.
It would take a very long time for Fox to forgive her. She
knew that, could understand and accept that there would be a time
when she would not be welcome in the lives of her daughter and
grandson. Such time would pass quickly here among the ageless
flowers that were her own people; her worry was that she might miss
out on too much of those fragile lives she had left earlier this
She had promised herself that this time would be different,
*this* child would not grow up like her sisters, petty and vain,
using their powers to amuse themselves and pay back tiny stings
with horrible retribution. She would raise this one as a human,
never let her know the power to which she was heir, and perhaps,
this time, make it right. For them all.
It hadn't worked, of course. Even keeping her youngest mortal
hadn't spared her from the curse of her blood. She'd been in San
Francisco when she'd seen the broadcast, as an addendum to the six
o'clock news. Her child, her face a mask of rage and fear but not
an ounce of remorse, held a gun to a terrified woman. She'd been
arrested. Neither she nor Halcyon had attended the trial; Fox had
made it patently clear the last time that if they tried to help she
would make them regret it. And she had gone to prison, for
reckless endangerment, illegal possession of a firearm, other
charges as the D.A. saw fit. That was another face she hadn't been
able to forget: Maxwell, looking too young for his job, announcing
on her television that her daughter had been found guilty. She
remembered thinking that she was too old for this, far too old for
children like this to be telling her that her own child, the one
she had tried to protect the only way she could, had still fallen
prey to the hunter in her own soul. She'd turned off the
television and sat in darkness for a long time.
The sun peeked over the horizon, casting long shadows
everywhere. She heard the sound of stone forming on arms and legs
and wings. It was the sound of life, biting its own tail over and
again. So were the sounds emanating from the long-abandoned
chambers and the occasional dark corner, as old lovers rediscovered
one another. Even those noises were almost gone. She was alone in
her sunrise, as she had been at the beginning of things, longer ago
than time itself.
"Titania, come see!" Her mother was nowhere to be seen, but
that had never stopped the woman from knowing precisely where she
was, what she was doing and thinking. Nor did it prevent Titania
from knowing just where to go.
"Yes, Mother. What is it?" She hopped off her sunny perch at
the edge of her balcony and floated gracefully down to the
courtyard. Teleporting would be ever so much easier, but she'd
recently discovered floating, and found it much more fun. It took
her longer, of course, but time meant nothing to her, and Mother
would always be waiting there patiently, a warm smile on her
Mother would be in the main hall. She'd been there a bit
lately, setting things just so. If Titania had been older, she
would have said her mother was getting ready for company. However,
Titania, who danced through the courtyard to the hall, had never
had company. In all her memory, it had always been the two of
them. It was only recently that they no longer slept on the sweet
grasses of the hills. Mother had decided they would have a palace.
A huge palace. A palace big enough for hundreds of people, had
there been anyone else. It was another game, Titania had decided,
and had gone into it with the same near-happiness that she did
"I have a new friend for you." Titania paused at the entrance
to the hall. Mother was trying again.
Since she did not mark time, she wasn't sure when it had
happened. It had been somewhere between a long time ago and before
the palace. She'd asked her mother why there were no others with
them. Her mother had explained that there had been another once,
her father, but that he had died even before she'd been born, and
that her mother had been so very happy when she'd come because now
neither of them had to be alone.
Titania had pressed. Why weren't there others still? Had her
parents known other people like them? Where had they gone? Her
mother had looked away, and tousled her hair, and had told her it
was a story for another time.
The following day, she had presented her daughter with a gift:
a friend. More specifically, she had gone into what Titania
learned was the World, and brought back one of the creatures there
for her as a companion. It had been about her age, or at least,
the age she reflected outwards. It walked upright, and wore what
appeared to be the skins of animals stitched together and draped
over its dirty body.
Her mother had tried to get her to talk to it, interspersed
with telling the creature not to be afraid. Titania refused to
touch it, and buried her face in her hands until her mother finally
relented and sent it back to where she'd gotten it. Afterwards
she'd received the first remonstrance of her life.
"You're looking at the form, child," her mother had said.
"But it smelled, and it looked strange." She had sniffed out
Her mother had sighed, and looked very sad. "Someday you will
learn to see more than what is on the surface. These creatures
have great potential, which you will someday discover."
"Yes, Mother," she had responded, not really caring. If she
wanted a pet, she'd tame one of the many deer in the forest. She
didn't need a smelly mortal who looked like a bad reflection of her
and her mother.
The next try had been a little more successful. Her mother
had gone back into the World, and retrieved ... bones? She ha
found rocks in the shape of ancient bones, and she had brought them
back to Avalon.
"These once belonged to great creatures who roamed the World."
She had looked at the clutter. "Did they get lost?"
"You could say that. The World changed, and the ones who
couldn't change died." She directed that comment directly at
Titania, who had simply shrugged and poked at what had once been a
Her mother had called her back from the pile, and had bid them
come alive again. Stone became flesh. Of course, what Mother
hadn't been able to know, and what Titania only learned when she
played at being a human named Anastasia, was that the bones were
not all of one creature, but several. One had flown, and a few had
walked, and two were warm-blooded and one's descendants would live
in the New York sewer system.
The resulting creature was a composite of all these, a being
who could walk and fly, but because of the magic used to create it,
could also think and reason. And because it had come from stone,
every day, it returned to stone. But it was wild, like the stags
and the eagles, and Titania had feared it, and her mother had
eventually sent it into the World, after creating another to keep
it company. And the two of them had been alone again.
Now Titania stood at the edge of the hall in the new palace,
and wondered what her mother had done this time. The last friend
had been half magic; would she make a new friend of pure magic?
Her mother glanced over at her, and graced her with a perfect
smile. "Come here, my sweet one. I want you to meet someone."
She readied herself for the worst, and approached.
The glimmer of magic expended still lay on it like a second
skin. It looked a little like the mortal creature her mother had
brought her before, but it was different. Better. She felt a grin
spread over her face, as the same rapport she knew with her mother
slid into place with this new being. Her heart sang with the
unspoken thought, "Like me! Like me! This one is like me!" The
new being reflected her joy, and she felt the same thought echoing
back at her.
Her mother looked from one to the other. "I take it you like
Titania said nothing, but nodded. The creature was perfect:
her own height, which was a bit smaller than her mother, and
certainly much smaller than the last creature; its eyes were
diamond-bright, its face expressive, intelligent.
"Good. You may call him Oberon."
"Hello, Oberon," she said.
"Hello," he said, and grinned back at her.
"My Queen." His thoughts beckoned her from their bedchamber.
Titania drew the dressing gown closer against her and went back
inside. Oberon rested his back against a large pillow, the
coverings spilled in his lap. He had bid the fireplace light, and
the rich red glow cast his skin into lavender. His hair had become
unbound sometime between midnight and the early morning hours, and
lay draped on his shoulders and chest.
"Already you forswear my bed and company?" He raised one
noble eyebrow, allowed a smirk to touch his lips. She wondered
what his reaction had been upon seeing the play for the first time;
was it anger, as hers had been, or mirth, as she had been forced
into by the end? And did it matter? The two shadows on the stage
had reconciled, as had the shapes behind them, finally. All's well
that ends well, and all that. He extended his hand to her, pulled
her to the floor with him when she took it.
"Not quite yet, my Lord," she replied. She pressed her lips
against his smile, until he met her with a hungry kiss.
He pulled away from her mouth to taste her cheek, her ear, his
strong arms and hands pleading, demanding, enticing. "I missed
you," he sighed. "Every moment for a thousand years, I thought of
you, wanted you." His teeth found her neck and began caressing it
It was a lie. She knew him much better than that. She also
knew that he probably believed it to be true, now, just as he would
believe tomorrow that taking Alexander had been his own idea. He
was like that. And still she loved him, and for his sake, would
believe it to be the truth as well.
He made love to her slowly, savoring the delights that coul
be found in these familiar forms. At first, she allowed him to do
as he wished, feeling more sleepy than sensual, but his continued
ministrations reawakened the fire in her veins, and she returned
the pleasure he gave her with interest. It had been so long since
they'd been lovers, each joy refound was as newborn, and when
release came, it was a welcome return. He was truly her husband
A day had passed in the World by the time she lay content in
his dozing embrace. The fire was lower now, but a touch of magic
made it glow with the same heat still rippling through her. She
could not recall the last time he had been so generous, so tender
to her. By the time they had returned from the World the night
before, he had been in a short temper, and even the grand
celebration had only lightened his mood slightly. He'd pulled her
from the party shortly after midnight, and once in their chambers,
told her to change into the mortal form she'd worn these many
years. She'd complied, thinking it one of his games, but it had
been no game. The anger hadn't yet abated from the battle, the
humiliation of being hurt by mortals, the betrayal of the Puck, and
much of that anger showed itself in his lovemaking. Had her body
been truly mortal, he might have hurt her, both with his force and
with the flat expression in his eyes. But she was not mortal, and
now he was quiet, still, content, and she could drift in memory
again, to the first time she'd held him in her arms and had not let
"Where are we going?" she hissed. Her eyes were lightly
bound, leaving her to rely only on the touch of the hand that led
her through the forest. She'd tripped once already and he didn't
want her to float.
"You'll see," said Oberon, his voice mischievous. That's what
he had said since they'd started, a good hour past. She didn't
like it any better now.
He tugged at her arm again and she followed, not sure why she
continued, why she didn't at least pull off this silly blindfold.
couldn't. He had that effect on her, made her do stupid things
like staying out long after Mother had called her back, or sneaking
into the World for a game, just by asking. His eyes would plead,
and she would melt a little. She could tell him no. She just
didn't feel like it.
The day her mother had created him, Oberon became her best
friend. She told him everything, taught him absolutely everything
she knew, made up stories for him, listened to stories he made up
for her, and played pretend all the day long. Every night as she
lay down to sleep, she thanked her mother for bringing her this
friend. Her mother would tease her about no longer needing her old
mother around now that she had Oberon, and then kiss her good
Lately, though, Titania would catch her mother watching Oberon
and frowning. She had created dozens of other children much like
him since, boys and girls and beings of stranger design. Some
spent much time in the World, others stayed near to the Island, as
if afraid of bigger places. Titania went as she pleased, playing
with the others as she chose. Mostly, she chose to play with
Oberon. He was her first friend, her closest friend, and she
couldn't imagine what her life had been before he'd been there to
suggest games and make her laugh.
Mother encouraged her to play with the others, though, and
when she went back to meet Oberon in the World, or up a tree, would
again frown, and ask why her daughter spent so much time with just
one person. The close touch they had once shared together was
fading, but Titania could still sense the other question, why
wasn't she spending time with her mother any more? She couldn't
"We're almost there," he informed her. "Now step up and over.
There's a fallen tree." She raised her leg, feeling supremely
idiotic, and scraped her bare leg against something rough.
Definitely a tree.
A few more paces, and he stopped. She felt him move behind
her and remove the blindfold. Her eyes were dazzled with the
light, as a good thousand fireflies beckoned one another through a
ring of bushes. They were in the midst of a small clearing, near
a still pool of water. The moon, high above and almost full,
reflected sparkles through the small plot of grass. It was
Titania let out a most unadult squeal of joy and wrapped her
arms around Oberon's neck. His arms came around her to hold her
there, and she breathed in his scent as she asked, "How ever did
you find it?"
"I went exploring. Like it?"
"Love it." His long white hair fairly glowed in the
moonlight, giving him a magic all his own. Something stirred
inside of her, strange and achy, as he pulled her own hair behind
the tips of her ears, and traced their points with his thumb. He
The shock of his lips against hers made her start, and only
his gentle hands at her back kept her from falling. Knowledge
without form slipped through her, knowledge of where she had come
from, how her parents had created her between them. She saw it in
his eyes, matched with a longing she had never before seen, but
felt now and understood completely.
She pushed her lips against his again, felt the charge run
through her, like the feel when lightning was near, the feel of
power about to be unleashed.
"Titania ... " he whispered.
"Titania," she felt in her mind, and was momentarily confused.
"Mother?" she called.
"Come back to the palace, child. I've created something I'd
like you to see."
Impatience, the first she'd ever felt, flared through her.
last thing she wanted to see right now was one of her mother's
creations, except for the one in front of her. "I'll come in a
Curiosity and hurt moved back from her mother. "Why can't you
come now? Surely whatever game Oberon has introduced to you this
time can wait."
She flushed. She wasn't sure this one *would* wait. He was
warm and inviting in her arms now, and she could sense him getting
ready for ... something. His lips brushed her jaw.
"I said I'll be back later."
"I would see you *now*." There was no denying that call; it
was the pull of the Ruler of the Island to all her children, and
her daughter most of all.
Oberon muttered a curse as he felt it, too. "Now what does
she want?" His breath was ragged.
"Me. We have to return to the palace."
He held her wrist. "Let's not. Let her stew in her own
juices for a while."
She pulled free. "I can't." She turned towards where the
palace lay, the pull more direct than a compass on her, bidding her
return. Oberon stayed a moment longer, cursed again, and followed
"I don't see why she has to decide where we go and what we
"She's the Queen, and she made both of us. We must do her
bidding." She said the words, but more than that, she *knew* them
to be the ultimate truth. Disobeying her mother on this would be
like denying the existence of the moon above them.
"And will we have to do your bidding when you are Queen, my
She stopped short. "I'm not going to be Queen." Love, she
thought, he called me his love. A thrill went through her, and a
feeling of rightness.
"She's the Queen. You're her daughter. You'll be Queen
someday, and the rest of us will have to serve you." He mocked a
bow before her, then zipped away before she could swat him. He
perched in the air just out of reach.
"You're being ridiculous. I don't want to be Queen."
"That doesn't matter." He returned to the ground. "She's
going to die someday, and then you will rule."
It must be a game, she thought, and settled the beating of her
hummingbird heart. "Then my first decree will be that you must do
whatever I ask."
He knelt before her. "Whatever you ask, my lady." His voice
was pitched with such sincerity that she found herself wanting to
believe in this game. But there was no way it would be truth,
could be truth. She levitated over his head and flew towards the
palace. He caught up with her again.
"I would do anything for you," he said. She said nothing,
only kept on her path.
They remained in silence until they reached the main hall. As
they were about to enter, she said simply, "I know."
"So, my daughter finally deems to show her face."
Titania approached where her mother stood and bowed her head,
remembering a time when she would have run into her arms instead.
"When I summon you, I expect you to come. I ask so little
from you. Can you not at least grant me that?"
"I know, Mother. I'm sorry. We were exploring the Island."
Her mother looked as though she would say something, then
simply sighed. "You're here now. That's good enough." She
glanced at Oberon, and Titania felt a chill pass between them.
"My Queen," he said, like silken ice.
Then she ignored him as she addressed the rest of her
children, who had also been called by her summons. "Hello, my
pretty ones. I would like you to meet someone new. This is
The rest crowded near the new Child to greet him, but Oberon
pulled Titania to him to whisper, "Tomorrow night. An hour after
moonrise. Meet me there." And he was gone.
Titania went to meet Hanuman, but even as she touched his
leathery hand to hers, she heard Oberon's whisper in her ears, felt
his lips against hers again, and could not wait for the following
"Oberon?" She'd come, a little early perhaps, to the place
they'd been the night before. Too early, it seemed. He wasn't
there. Disappointment filled her as she sat down on the grass to
wait for him.
"Hello, my love." He stepped out of the shadows into the
moonlight. She bit back her startled gasp. He was Oberon, her
oldest, dearest friend. Tonight, he was also something more,
something stronger, older, unknowable and undefinable. The same
feeling she'd had before moved her the way a hurricane moved
daisies, as he stood before her like a god framed in soft light.
"I thought I was early."
"You came just in time." He opened his arms and she enveloped
herself in them, her entire being yearning to be one with his,
pushing her shoulders against his as though they could become one
"I think Mother would be unhappy to know I was here with you,"
she said, as he placed his mouth around the point of her ear.
"Let her be unhappy." He bit her, and making her mother happy
became dead last on her list of things to do. "Titania ... " he
A flurry of emotions ran through her. "I love you," she said.
He paused. "Marry me."
She pulled away from him. "What?"
"It's a mortal custom. You promise to love me forever. I
promise to love you forever. No one can ever come between us then.
We'll grow up together, live like this, but in the palace. Maybe
even have children of our own."
She caught his gaze, trying to see the trick in his eyes.
There was none. He was dead serious, and that expression on the
face of one she knew mostly for his pranks was what convinced her.
"What do we have to do?"
He thought a moment, then took her hands and placed them
against his heart. "Something like this. By the moon above, I
Oberon promise to love you Titania for all the rest of eternity,
and have no other above you in my heart."
It was mad. It was silly. It was ... sweet. She took his
hands and pressed them against her own heart, and repeated the
words. "So are we married now?"
Instead of answering immediately, he kissed her again. Her
head spun, as his thoughts and emotions flowed through her, finally
leaving her as he broke the kiss, but remaining always like her own
thoughts. "I'd say so."
She offered him her thoughts and feelings back through the new
link, opening the last secret bits to his sight, letting him into
everything he did not already possess, again breaking, but never
completely gone from him. "That was nice." He nodded, his breath
caught. "So now what do we do?"
They weren't interrupted this time, as they took on a new
exploration. His hands trembled and faltered, and then she would
show him. She would feel shy, restless, and he drew away her
apprehension with reassurance. They touched, and held, and
learned, and touched again, and the sound of him crying her name
was the sound of the earth being reborn from fire into the night.
When she could feel the grass beneath her again, she kissed
him gently. His eyes were closed, but a lingering smile remained
when she pulled away to rest her head against his arm. The moon
watched from above them, silent witness to the union of their
And there was another. With her senses already at their peak,
she could feel another spirit near, and the same sense of likeness
with which she'd first greeted Oberon echoed through her again like
a new verse for an ancient song. She stretched out, mentally, and
tried to find where the stranger waited. Her senses circled back
upon herself, and again with knowledge of which she understood not
the source, she knew she had conceived a child; a daughter, if she
was not completely mistaken. A queen yet to be, she thought in
lazy joy. Her mother would be pleased. The rest of her thoughts
jumbled together, and she drifted into sleep in the arms of her
"I summoned you three hours ago." The Queen's voice echoed
through the hall, sending fear and some excitement through those
The object of her displeasure stared back defiantly. "I was
"You were in the World, no doubt wreaking havoc among the
mortals again. And that after I forbade you to go.
Oberon crossed his arms. "I do not recognize your authority
to forbid me to do *anything*. I wanted to go. I went." So he
had. They had spent the two days since their secret marriage split
between enjoying themselves tremendously and keeping the rest of
the Island's inhabitants from discovering them. Oberon had gone
into the World to look for a place they could hide themselves
should the need arise.
Titania had never seen her mother's fury. Now that it was
written clearly on her features, she never wanted to see it again.
She edged closer to the wall, fearing the two opponents, and
fearing more for them.
"I created you, child. I formed you from pure magic and
desire, and shaped you. I raised you as my own son." She
indicated the assembly. "I raised all of you as my children."
"We are no longer *your* children."
Her mother laughed humorlessly. "Ah. So instead of being my
children, the rest of you would rather be children of Oberon?" She
looked out among them again. Not a soul dared to speak. She met
Titania's eyes. Titania didn't move, didn't blink. She knew what
was to come, what had been brewing since perhaps the day of
Oberon's creation. There would be a duel. And one of the two
beings she loved most in either world was going to die.
When her mother saw there would be no help from her, she said
quietly, "So be it."
The battle began.
Power like none ever seen, before or since, was unleashed and
hurtled through the room. Oberon shapechanged into a dragon, her
mother into a giant unicorn, Oberon to a wolf, her mother to a
tiger, and with tooth and claw and horn and fire, they struck at
They fought for two days without pause for sup or even breath,
magical energies firing across chasms not only in time and space,
but dimensions with no names. They fought, and though Titania
stayed out of the battle, she saw enough to know they stood between
epochs as they shook Avalon to its core. In the World, floods
washed over the earth, mountains crashed to the sea, a continent
sank beneath the ocean and was gone. The World cried out
Her mother stopped, suddenly. Oberon, finding himself
fighting a statue, also stopped. The blue of his skin was almos
grey from exhaustion; her mother hadn't fared any better, and
drooped like a rose in November. The woman stood stock still, and
listened to a sound audible to them all: the cries of the World,
being hurt by the repercussions from their fight. She put her
hands down. Without speaking, she told them she would fight no
Before Oberon could claim his prize, she turned to him. "You
were as my son. Someday, your sons will also stand against you and
yours. They will bring your defeat, and dance upon your bones."
"You don't scare me, old woman," he replied, but uncertainty
remained in his eyes.
"Daughter." Unable to resist, Titania approached her mother.
"You did not aid me, when this usurper came to steal your
birthright." She looked through her, and frowned. "You carry his
child." She nodded. There was nothing else to say. "For whatever
reason, you have chosen him to be your mate. But you did not aid
him in the battle, either." She raised her arm wearily. "Because
you chose not to fight, you never shall. Whatever battles come,
you will never participate. You may plot, and you may scheme, but
be assured, you shall not interfere." Titania felt the spell move
through her, bind her. She gasped, and Oberon touched her arm,
steadied her. Her mother saw, and winced.
"You were my children, and you betrayed me. Both of you. And
so you have set your own destinies. Your children will fight their
own. Your daughters will have the hearts of murderers. And
Titania, you know the cost of bearing a son. Do not make the
mistake I did."
She began to glow, until she was too bright to see. Titania
threw her arm over her eyes, sensing as her mother gathered herself
into a single ball of power. The electric sphere shot directly
through Titania's body, out the other side, and was gone. She was
never seen on Avalon, or anywhere in the World, ever again.
At that moment, Titania didn't care. She collapsed, clutching
her abdomen, feeling her daughter screaming from inside her as the
residual effects of the raw magic coursed through her. Unable to
do anything, she felt her child being ripped apart, and settling
finally into three identical, interlinked souls. Her mother's last
"gift" to her. The pain subsided, and she rested against Oberon,
whose strength was already ebbing low. At that moment, had one of
the other Children thought to seize power, neither of them could
have stopped it.
No one made the attempt. Oberon had defeated the old Queen,
was already married to her only daughter. For better or worse,
Avalon had a king.
Midday had come before hunger and the desire to see other
faces finally drew them from their bedchamber. No one commented as
the King and Queen made their way to the main hall to break their
fast, save for bows and wishes for a good day. Titania noted with
amusement that many of the Children were still abed, and not only
the Children; Katharine and Tom hadn't wakened yet, either. She
supposed having gargoyles about would probably put much of
their life on a more nocturnal schedule. Not that she minded. She
still loved the night, even after all that had come after that
fateful moonlit meeting.
"Are you well, my love?" Oberon asked, noting her distant
"I've never been better." She layered the response with just
enough amorousness to encourage her husband to eat quickly.
He watched her face as he ate and she played with an orange
peel. "There is something."
"I've just been thinking. About our *first* wedding night."
He set his fruit down and took her hand carefully. "My Queen,
are you ... ?"
She laughed. "Hardly."
"Would it be so bad to have another child running through the
"Only if you swore to change this one's nappies. As I recall,
you were supposed to change all the Puck's when he was a babe."
His gaze froze, and she regretted her jest. The time wasn't
right to mention the boy. She would press him later, when the
wound had healed over more, at least get the two of them to talk.
It would have to be soon. Banished or no, the Puck *would*
return to Avalon before long. As soon as she'd heard Katharine's
tale of how the gargoyles had come to the Island, she had known and
felt the old fear.
Her mother had cursed her children, and his. Your daughters
will have the hearts of murderers. Oberon's sons will stand
against him, against their own blood.
Yes, the Puck would come. He would probably bring Fox with
him. Perhaps she could make peace with her own daughter, and if
that happened, there remained a chance, slim but still present,
that she could avert the battle looming like a storm cloud just out
of her vision.
She offered her husband a smile and took his hand. It meant
saving their children from the destiny the two of them had created
for the six. Five now, she thought. She could wait until the last
two came home.
For their sakes, she hoped they would not tarry long in