So, this is the last chapter of Knight of Salem. I wasn't initially sure what would come next as I kind of wanted to bring "Raise" to Monday and release the next story on the Tuesday slot, but I'm cognisant of the fact that not everyone likes Raise because it has a very heavy and emotional beginning to set up eventual recovery and happier times later, and the world is already a pretty damn miserable place right now with what's going on. As such, I'm probably going to release my new comedy story on Mondays instead. It'll start in two weeks from now, giving me the customary one week of no update in the slot to plan and write ahead.
Since I know people will forever be wondering if I'm going to whine about how I don't like Volume 4 and beyond and how I want to stick to V1-3, well, I've decided this time to do away with the seasons entirely. There will be no season adherence, there will be no canon adherence. It will be RWBY, it will be Beacon, but the Cinder and White Fang plot? Gone. Not a thing. There will be different challenges, different obstacles and no time limit hanging over Beacon's head until its imminent destruction.
Also, I'm going to try and keep it leaning toward more comedy. I want to try and embrace a very Terry Pratchett kind of vibe for it, where even if I do have serious plot, it never fully stops being funny. I don't always succeed with that but hey ho. These are my goals. Anyway, let's finish this story first!
Cover Art: Mystery White Flame
Pyrrha Nikos. Huntress, Invincible Girl – woman now – and Emissary to Jaunesville. She never quite knew what to make of the latter epitaph, which only came up once a year when Ozpin and General Ironwood would call on her, load her up with fruit baskets, wine cases and baby toys and send her off to a remote village in the middle of Mistral to try and convince the very powerful, very dangerous, woman there not to get bored and conquer the world.
"The fate of the world my well rest on your shoulders," they had said, and "You must make sure the monster never leaves." The last was typically from General Ironwood, who even ten years on had never quite forgiven Salem for turning him into a penguin. To be fair, that wasn't normally a forgive and forget kind of thing.
She was more surprised she'd managed to avoid any animal-related fates to be honest, especially since Nora and Yang had a betting ring going on as to what she'd be turned into. Then there was Ruby, who kept floating the idea of how it wouldn't be so bad if she could turn into a puppy. No one quite knew how serious she was being and if she wouldn't sneak out to Jaunesville to try and get herself turned into one.
Team RWBY had mellowed out a lot since Beacon. That wasn't saying much since they'd been complete maniacs back then, quite literally winning the Vytal Festival back-to-back and leaving a trail of traumatised students in their wake. It was said that their dormitory was still uninhabited to this day, and only because no amount of searching it could remove all the booby traps. The last time Ozpin thought he had and moved a team in, they'd come out tarred and feathered with glittery sequins stuck all over them.
Of course, no amount of mellowing would convince Ozpin to send any of them near Jaunesville, the odd, lawless but somehow still lawful den of weirdness that had become Mistral's most despised location, and yet also a premier holiday destination at the same time. Pyrrha sighed yet again as she approached the large, stone walls. The left side had been taken over by some admittedly nice graffiti art of a sunset, while the right still had wanted posters for Jaune and Salem – an inside joke, the guards assured her as she was let in,
"It's busy today," one of them warned her. "It's happy hour right now."
"When is it not happy hour here?"
"When the booze runs out."
That was a standard answer for Jaunesville. The village had apparently been founded by Salem accidentally securing leadership over a tribe of bandits and thieves, then forcing them to release their hostages and form a village with them and pretty much running off to Vale and leaving them to it. The rest could have only ended in a massacre normally, but through a combination of luck, devotion and fear of Salem coming back and kicking their butts if they didn't make it work, it hadn't. The bandits and their former hostages had formed a thriving, if messed up, community.
It was to be expected she supposed when you took criminals and put them in charge. Jaunesville was known for two things – well, three, but the third was Salem, so she didn't count – alcohol and gambling. Also fighting, but the fighting could be bet on, so it fit into the latter, and the fighters were drunk most of the time as well so it was more of the first. Or so the locals would say. Pyrrha had given up understanding it long ago, even if Mistral made a half-hearted effort each year to collect tax. Salem would, as always, take all the money the tax collector had and say their taxes had been collected. The worst part was that she honestly believed Mistral paid taxes to them. And in a weird way, they did. Leonardo Lionheart had almost had a heart attack when the Council of Mistral asked him to send huntsmen to collect their stolen tax money. No one had tried since.
She walked past several open-air bars, several more terrible singing contests and at least two former schoolmates she recognised either throwing up or passed out on the side of a road, and one white-robed man giving a sermon on Salem to a small crowd of onlookers. Pyrrha was not surprised to see Qrow Branwen among a drunken gaggle of men risking life and limb playing darts, but she was a little surprised to see Yang being held upside down over a metal keg, a tube pushed into her mouth and a host of people chanting "Chug, chug, chug!" at the tops of their voices.
That was Jaunesville in a nutshell. Legally, it was a terrible place. Officially, no self-respecting person came here. Realistically, a lot of Huntsmen and even normal folk took "sabbaticals" in Mistral and tended to be very vague about what part of Mistral said time off took place in, and why they'd returned with someone else's name tattooed on their rear and stinking of alcohol. It was pretty much a given now that when a stressed huntsman said they were "taking time off in Mistral" it meant they were coming here to drink and party until they couldn't remember why they were stressed out in the first place.
It was also a given that your teammates would play dumb and pretend it never happened, much like how Pyrrha pretended not to know where Ren and Nora went last year and pretended that their spontaneous shotgun wedding that neither could remember and neither had invited her to was totally normal. They were going to have another, more traditional, wedding in a few months to make up for it. Weiss had suggested they annul it and marry officially if that was their concern, but Ren had, with a heavy blush, admitted that they'd perhaps consummated it a few too many times for that to be an issue.
Nora's very pregnant stomach attested to that.
Sighing again at everyone's antics, for she had never and would never let herself go in a place like this, Pyrrha Nikos made her way to the large mansion at the back of the village. It was a ridiculous looking thing shaped and designed like a castle from several hundred years ago, replete with a tall tower that Salem had said brought back good memories. It didn't fit the local architecture in the slightest, but since when did Salem care about conforming? What she wanted, she got. A pardon for her crimes, autonomy, sovereignty, a mansion and even the right to spread her own religion. Pyrrha had slammed the door in the face of a man who'd had the balls to knock and ask her if she had a moment to talk about Salem just the other day.
Sighing, Pyrrha let herself through the gate and stepped out of the absolute anarchy that was Jaunesville. No one dared drink or throw litter on Salem's property obviously, so it was like stepping into another world. A slightly worrying one. Pyrrha always wondered, as she walked between rows of apple trees, whether they were had always been apple trees or hadn't once been people who annoyed her. Salem would only smirk and say she couldn't remember when asked. Reaching the large front door, Pyrrha eyed the sign reading "door to door salespeople will never be seen again" and knocked.
When the door creaked open, she at first didn't see anyone there and wondered if the place wasn't haunted, but a quiet sound had her looking down instead. A small girl some three and a half feet tall looked up at her with big, blue eyes and the most beautiful pale blonde hair. "Auntie Pyrrha," she said softly, then held her hands up expectantly.
Most people would have taken that as a sign she wanted to be picked up, but this was Salem's child. Naturally, Pyrrha reached into one of the gift baskets and handed over a packet of chocolate, which the girl quickly tore into and devoured. The price paid, her tithe received, little Isabella Salem-Arc opened the door far enough to let her auntie inside.
"Should you really be opening the door to strangers on your own?" she asked the ten-year-old girl. "What if I'd been someone trying to kidnap you?"
"Eh." The little girl shrugged. "Uncle Tyrian would have hunted you down and killed you. Or Uncle Watts or Uncle Hazel." Hearing so young a girl talk so candidly about death should have been harrowing, and yet this was Salem's daughter and she had grown up in Jaunesville. "Besides, after the last guy I don't think anyone else will try."
"Someone tried to kidnap you!?" Pyrrha gasped.
"Mm!" Isabella nodded cutely. "He told me he had candy in his van."
Pyrrha began to sweat. "You didn't go in, did you?"
"No. I told him if he had candy then he should deliver it to me like the peasant he is." Isabella scratched her cheek. "He didn't like that. Then he said he had puppies, but it was a hot day so I shouted that he shouldn't keep them locked in a van because they can get too hot. Then some happy people came up and smashed his window to get them out, but there weren't any inside and they got angry and beat him up for lying."
Happy people must have meant drunks. It was so Salem to teach her child murder and to call people peasants and yet not want to broach the topic of alcohol yet. Pyrrha dreaded Isabella's first crush, because the fallout of that was probably going to make national news.
"Where are your parents?"
"Oh, I didn't know you had horses here."
"Neither did I," the girl said flatly, "And I keep trying to find where they're kept. We don't even have any stables."
"Then why do you think they're riding horses?"
"Because I asked Auntie Vernal where they are and she said mommy was riding daddy again." The girl paused to look at a rapidly blushing Pyrrha. "Does that mean daddy is the horse…? Can I ride daddy?"
"No!" Jaune Arc said at the exact same time, stumbling into the hallway while still buckling up his jeans. He had the good grace to look ashamed, even if that was lost a little due to the bite marks up and down his neck. "And Auntie Vernal was telling you a lie," he told his daughter, picking her off her feet and kissing her cheek. The girl wrapped her arms around his neck to steady herself. "And once your mother finds out, Auntie Vernal will be feeling very sorry for having told you that. Hello Pyrrha. Is it that time of year again?"
"Hello Jaune." Pyrrha returned with a wave. He was about the only sane person in all Jaunesville, which both said something about the place and also him for having decided to live here. Most sane did not necessarily mean sane, just less batshit crazy than everyone else. "Yes, it is. I have the annual funds and transfers ready along with a contract saying you won't conquer the world for the next twelve-month period."
"Leave it with me and I'll get Salem to sign it. I can have you a room made up."
"Further away from yours this time please," Pyrrha begged. "While I'm fully aware of what a married couple do, I do not need to hear it in such precise detail."
Jaune blushed again. "To be fair, I think she does it on purpose when you're around."
"Of course I do." Salem Arc swept into the hallway as if the hallway should be bowing down to her. She wore a beautiful white dress that wouldn't have looked out of place in a wedding boutique and a silver crown nestled in her hair. Most noticeable was the bump where her normally taut stomach would be. Another one? Ironwood would have a fit. "How else can I convince you to take your rightful place as concubine if you aren't aware of what benefits it brings?"
"I've told you I'm not going to be that."
"Are you sure? Last I checked, you broke up with your most recent boyfriend two months ago."
"Yes, I did. It wasn't working-" The rest of the words filtered through her head. "Wait, wait, what do you mean the last you checked? Are you spying on me? Why would you be spying on me!?"
"I like to keep tabs on important matters."
"Since when has my relationship status counted as that?"
"Since this became a thing," she said, touching her stomach. "I'll soon be at a stage where it isn't safe to – ah – spend time with my husband. He will need someone to take care of his urges."
"I really won't." Jaune said. "I'm not a wild animal."
The way Salem cupped a hand to her cheek and giggled with a faraway look in her eyes suggested that yes, he was, and no damn it she wasn't curious about that. She absolutely wasn't! So what if she hadn't been able to find a steady relationship, there was nothing wrong with that. She was twenty-eight. There was plenty of time left to look.
"Curious?" Salem teased.
"No." Pyrrha lied. "I'm here to get your year list of demands for not waging war on the world."
"Mommy's list of demands," Jaune chided softly.
"I can wage war on the world too!" Isabella said with a fierce pout.
"Honestly, a pony would be a small price-" Pyrrha began.
"Absolutely not. Then we'd need stables and tack and I'd have to trust my baby girl's fate to a wild animal. Hazel!" she roared.
The man appeared quickly. "My lady?"
"My daughter wishes for a pony. Down."
The man who was strong enough to rip Pyrrha in half sighed the sigh of the damned and got down on all fours. Isabella squirmed out her daddy's grip, clambered onto her uncle's back and dug her heels into his sides. "Yay! Giddy-up!"
Pyrrha, Jaune and Salem watched Hazel trot away with the girl on his back. It was cute, she supposed. It should have been cute. Conventional wisdom said it should have been cute. Pyrrha chalked the wrongness up as more of Salem's nonsense and tried to purge it from her mind.
"Daughters." Salem said as if nothing could be done. "You love them but they're always demanding. Want, want, want. Why, just the other day she said she wanted a village of her own one day. I told her she can have her own village if she does well on her school exams."
Pyrrha felt the sweat trickling down her neck. "That might upset certain people. Such as the people of the village you take over for her."
"Oh, don't worry. I'll just have a few of ours make an outpost, call it a village and proclaim her princess of it." Salem rolled her eyes. "She'll be bored of it within the week. She's ten, dear, she doesn't know what she wants except that she wants everything and anything, and especially anything she sees on adverts between cartoons. Just the other day she said she wanted a toy doll that cries, barfs and pees tap water on you. Why is that a thing? Why is that a toy? How is that fun?"
As a girl who had grown up with toy weapons and always been more interested in that side of things, Pyrrha honestly had no idea. She'd seen other girls pushing toy prams with toy babies around and really hadn't seen the appeal. I'm agreeing with Salem. Don't agree with Salem. Note to self, check in at a psychiatrist to make sure I'm still sane.
"What demands do you have then?"
"Let's talk about those later. How have you been, dear? How is life treating you? No venereal diseases, I hope."
"I'm not becoming your husband's concubine!"
"You could be my concubine."
Pyrrha choked and looked to Jaune for aid. He shrugged, no doubt he used to his wife's nonsense after ten years of marriage. Distraction – she needed a distraction. "I saw Yang in town. Just thought you should know."
"All of Team RWBY is here actually." Jaune said.
"W-What!?" And Ozpin and General Ironwood didn't know? This was a disaster! Those four were on strict orders not to come here and risk plunging Remnant into war. "H-How do you know?"
"They broke into the house last night."
Pyrrha felt her throat tighten. The world was doomed. "D-Did they?"
"Oh, they were polite about it." Jaune said.
"Came in our window." Salem added with a giggle. "Very embarrassing for them I'm sure, they got quite the view. I was worried it was kidnappers for a moment-"
"And it was." Jaune grunted.
"But they weren't there to kidnap Isabella so it was fine." Salem said. "They apologised for getting the wrong room and asked for directions, then snuck back out and broke into the window three rooms down."
"They kidnapped Tyrian, drugged him and dragged him out into the middle of Jaunesville, stripped him naked, wrote insults all over his body and strung him up by his ankles to be found next morning by all the villagers." Jaune said.
Pyrrha gulped. "He must have been angry."
"Actually, he was crying about how proud of them he was. Something about how the greatest gift a student can give is to surpass the master. Now he keeps following them around and telling everyone that `he raised those girls`. I think they hate that more than they do his training sessions."
Diplomatic incident averted by virtue of Tyrian Callows being too stupid to realise he should be insulted. Pyrrha heaved a great sigh of relief. This was, again, Jaunesville in a nutshell. The people here didn't make sense. There were times when she wondered if the copious alcoholism wasn't the locals' way of trying to make sense of the world. This place probably made a lot more sense when you were drunk.
"Why don't you join us for dinner?" Salem suggested. "We can talk business after."
After a long and expensive meal with three quarters of the most wanted and dangerous criminals in Vale, not only limited to Salem and Jaune, but also Roman, Neo, Emerald and more – there would have been Mercury and Ilia, but Blake was in the area, so they were obviously nowhere to be seen – Pyrrha sat back and washed the good food down with a long drink of red wine.
"Mom and dad were over just a few weeks ago," Jaune was telling her. "They came for Isabella's tenth. Terra and Saphron came too, and Tyrian got all weepy about how much his favourite nephew had grown up. Adrian's twelve now, just old enough to start feeling embarrassed about that."
"He's in for a wild ride with Tyrian as his uncle then." Pyrrha said.
"Yeah, tell me about it. With how many sisters I have, not to mention this lot, Isabella probably has more aunties and uncles than she knows what to do with."
"You don't mind her calling me one, do you?"
"Are you joking? You're one of the few sane ones she has. I'm hoping you rub off on her instead of Vernal or Ilia. Or worse, Neo. Geez, for someone who can't speak she sure manages to imply a lot."
"Hey, she can be a little… uh… intense." He laughed. "But her heart is in the right place. She dotes on Isabella, adores her and would do anything for her. You might want to take that information back to Ozpin and Ironwood," he said, "because something bad happening to our daughter is one way to definitely send Salem back to wanting to slaughter every single person on Remnant."
Pyrrha felt the chill. "Duly noted."
"But hey, on the bright side she's too happy getting to be a mom again to care about it otherwise. I don't think she even wants me to turn her back to how she was. The thought of having to watch me and our children die is too cruel." He shook his head and changed the subject from so morbid a topic. "It's kinda cool being a dad as well. A little earlier than I imagined it, but there's something incredible about having a little person you made ask you to read them a bedside story." His smile fell. "Even if I had to have a word with Roman about acceptable reading material in her room. I nearly read softcore erotica to her. I swear, him and Neo just like to troll for the sake of it."
As long as they were trolling here and not Vale, she was fine with that.
The conversation naturally shifted after that, with Jaune wanting to know more about the world outside. He wasn't a prisoner in Jaunesville per se – they could travel and would be given VIP treatment wherever they went by Ozpin – but they'd chosen not to after a particularly unsmart mob boss in Mistral had kidnapped Isabella when she was four years old and tried to hold Salem to ransom with her. Ozpin and Ironwood had mobilised their best huntsmen to get her back, all for naught. Gillian Asturias, or Auntie Gill, had snuck in as a cat, transformed back and guarded Isabella while Tyrian, Hazel and Watts showed the world why they were not to be messed with. By the time Pyrrha arrived with the others to save the day, there wasn't a soul in the compound still drawing breath.
Since then, Mistral had learned not to test them and they'd mostly stuck to home, though Jaune did say that once Isabella was older, they would travel some more. In the meantime, she told him about Vale and answered questions. Yes, Ozpin was still headmaster; yes, he still had a statue of Cinder in his basement; no, the tree faunus had actually managed to turn himself back and had gotten himself a fairly sweet gig as a consultant to a local orchard. It turned out that trees could communicate through roots, and that he was now literally a tree-whisperer and could help farmers better identify the ways to increase their fruit yields. He even had his own TV show and ran de-radicalisation courses for former White Fang members.
Jaune listened with amusement as to how Raven, bereft now of a clan, tribe or anything to cling onto, had gone crawling back to Taiyang only to be roundly kicked out. She worked a janitorial role at Beacon and was making a token effort to get to know Yang, who was making a token effort to care in return.
Meanwhile, the White Fang under Sienna Khan had agreed to disband under the proviso that Menagerie be recognised as the fifth Kingdom, which it had been. Everyone pretended, Sienna especially, that it was due to her stellar leadership and not the fact that Salem had politely pointed out that she still technically was in a mutual defensive pact with the woman and would naturally have to come to her aid if she and Menagerie were ever threatened. Pyrrha had never seen a political U-turn that left skid marks quite like that one; Vale and Atlas had practically fallen over themselves to give Menagerie a deal, and even to discuss trade agreements and their own alliances, all because that technically meant Salem would have to come to their defence as well.
If you couldn't defeat the Queen of all Evil, you might as well try and tie her up in diplomatic arrangements. That seemed to be the consensus, and now Mistral and Vacuo were trying to worm their way into the alliance. The alliance against what, no one knew since it would be `the whole world` on one side and bugger all on the other.
Honestly, as long as she was on that side Pyrrha didn't much care.
"-and she's been really interested in learning to fight of late," Jaune was going on like every father ever, talking constantly about his child. Pyrrha listened with half an ear, sipping some wine. "I was shocked when I realised she was trying to emulate me. She even wants to learn the sword and shield. It's hard to explain how incredible that makes you feel, like you've just found out your own daughter looks up to you as a role model."
"And I was nervous at first because of how dangerous the life is, but Gillian took me aside and explained that I can't hover over her forever or she'll feel trapped. She's right of course, and she's only ten now so it's not like I have to worry for a few years yet."
"And Ozpin will look after her."
"Sure." Pyrrha agreed.
"You will as well, right?"
"You'll look after her." Jaune said, looking deep into Pyrrha's eyes.
"I will? I mean, of course I would," she said. Isabella was a sweetie and Pyrrha genuinely did consider her a niece of sorts. Even if it wasn't her job, she would have risked life and limb to protect the girl. "But what do you mean I will? I live a little far away for that."
"When she goes to Beacon, silly." Jaune said with a laugh. "I was just telling you how she wants to be a Huntress when she's older. Well, I figured the best place for her would be Beacon. You know, because Ozpin would look after her and you'd be close enough to keep an eye on her as well."
Pyrrha hoped to any gods listening that she'd heard that incorrectly.
"Where does she want to study again…?"
"Oh, that's what I thought you said." Pyrrha looked down at her half-empty wine glass and solved the problem by necking it all. She then stepped past Jaune, picked up the bottle and poured herself some more. It, too, slid down her throat, drowning the panicked scream she wanted to let loose. "That's… That's great. I can't wait for her to join. Do you have any more wine?"
"Gentlemen. Glynda." Ozpin sat behind his desk with his fingers steepled before his face, "I have summoned you here today to bring you news of great importance delivered to me by Pyrrha Nikos. In seven years', we shall decide the fate of Remnant once and for all."
"What happens in seven years?" Oobleck asked.
"Nothing I can think of." Glynda said. "Other than that, if it's related to news brought back by Pyrrha then it must be about Jaune or Salem. I can't see why. They wouldn't be doing anything dangerous when it was their daughter's tenth birthday not a few months-" Glynda stopped talking. Her eyes widened as she put ten and seven together, got seventeen and then proceeded to connect a few more dots. "I resign," she said instantly. "I'll clear out my desk."
"Denied." Ozpin replied.
"You can't deny a resignation! I quit, then!"
"You cannot. I need you. I need all of you," he said. "For in seven years we shall play host to one Isabella Salem-Arc, quite possibly – in fact, definitely – the most important person on Remnant. If anything happens to her, and I remind you all that this is a school for a most dangerous profession, then Salem will be on the warpath. Literally."
The fate of the world was at stake.
"Glynda!" he barked. "Start vetting potential teammates for her now. We need capable teammates – female, preferably. Reach out to them with scholarships and make sure they're trained to the highest standards. Oobleck, I need every piece of machinery upgraded. This academy but be brand-spanking new by the time she arrives. Port, there are too many Grimm in the Emerald Forest. Cull them to an acceptable number. Take the current students out on a field trip to do so if you want to."
"Snap to it, people!" Ozpin said, rocketing to his feet. "We have seven years to turn this academy from the best damn academy on Remnant to the best damn and safest academy on Remnant. Because believe you, me, if Isabella so much as receives a single scar under our care, we will pay for it."
"Does that include emotional scars?" Port asked.
"Good question. Glynda – how viable is it to turn Beacon into a girls-only academy for a period of four years?"
"Damn it. In that case I think it's time we start planning `Operation Cockblock` in full. We'll start by monitoring her social interactions and conveniently getting in the way whenever a boy tries to talk to her. I'm also thinking of offering Tyrian Callows a position as teacher."
"He's a psychopath!"
"Yes, but he's a psychopath who is also a mother hen to his niece. He'll frighten away any boys. Besides, Team RWBY came out okay under his tutelage." Ozpin paused to add, "Sort of. Well, a little screwed up, but okay-ish."
"Ozpin, they have a flee on sight order on their heads."
"That's a sign of how accomplished they are."
"No, from normal people. Normal people flee at the sight of those four."
"So, what you're saying is that we should also hire them as teachers to further frighten men away from her?"
"No, that's not what I'm-"
"Genius, Glynda! Genius! And if Team RWBY and Tyrian are fighting all the time then we won't have to deal with either of them. This is why I can't let you retire, Glynda, we wouldn't have these incredible ideas without you."
"No!" Ozpin declared. "This is an opportunity – a chance to influence the daughter of the most dangerous woman on the planet. If we show Isabella Salem-Arc just how much Vale has to offer, if we can make Beacon her home as we have so many other students, then we usher in an age of prosperity and peace never before seen!"
"And if she hooks up with a boy, gets pregnant and drops out then we all die."
"Oh yes," Ozpin agreed. "We most certainly do."
"Please can I resign?" Glynda begged.
Pyrrha woke up, not for the first time, with a splitting headache. She moaned softly and pushed her face down into the fluffy, warm cushions, clenched her eyes shut and tried to force the hangover away through sheer force of will. Had she been out drinking with her teammates again? Was it another lonely night wondering when she would find the Ren to her Nora? The last thing she remembered was Jaune Arc telling her about how his daughter wanted to go to Beacon, then feeling such an overbearing sense of dread that she just needed a stiff drink.
Or two, or tree, or maybe a whole bottle.
Salem had come around somewhere in the middle of it and started chatting with her. She wasn't drinking because of the baby of course, but she'd chatted all the same and Pyrrha, seven sheets to the wind, had let her guard down and talked back. Not the best behaviour for a diplomat, but thankfully the reason Ozpin and Ironwood trusted her to do this was because she held no ill-will toward Salem and Jaune. There wouldn't be anything nefarious for her to spill.
Just embarrassing. Pyrrha groaned as hazy memories of her complaining about how everyone but her was moving on, finding someone, and how she was worried her name and fame would scare the good men away, and how the only guys who tried nowadays inevitably wanted something from her, be that money, influence or just the claim of being able to say they'd bagged Pyrrha Nikos.
The rest was a mess. She vaguely remembered Salem telling her she could help with that, then being fussed over and having her hair done up. Trust Salem to think that was how to make someone feel better. Then Salem had said something about a surprise, but for the life of her Pyrrha couldn't remember if the surprise was for her. No, they'd been surprising someone else. Pyrrha remembered being told to hide under the bed. No, not the bed, under some sheets.
Green eyes snapped open. "Oh fu-"
"Mmmm." Salem nuzzled into her back, squashing Pyrrha between her naked body and Jaune's in front. "Yep." Salem said happily. "We sure did. Again and again and again. I always knew you had it in you. Well, after last night you certainly had it in you a few times."
She, they, her and Jaune and Salem… Pyrrha's brain fizzled out and she looked down at herself, locked between the two, felt the pleasant ache through her body and then, after a moment's panic as she addressed the many consequences, gave up and flopped back down.
"Ah, screw it." Pyrrha closed her eyes and settled back down. It was bound to happen eventually if Salem kept dangling it in front of her face, and if everyone else could have their naughty holidays in Jaunesville, she wasn't going to play the saint forever and miss out. "I'm not letting you call me a concubine, though."
"Diplomat with benefits?"
"Sure. Let's go with that."
And there we have it. Salem and Jaune retire to raise a family with an army of over-protective uncles and aunties, and the rest of the world is happy as long as she is happy. In a sense, the curse is lifted so long as Salem never asks Jaune to turn her back, and she gets to grow old, die and pass on with Jaune – saving Ozpin from his own curse in his old age. A nice, happy ending. And even one for Pyrrha.
Sure, looking after Isabella Salem-Arc is going to be a pain in Beacon, especially if she learns to use magic like her mom or unlocks a crazy Grimm-related Semblance, but that's a problem for Ozpin and his staff.
In a very real way, the ending of this story is almost like the beginning of White Sheep, except that Salem and Jaune are open and their relationship is known, and Isabella isn't quite the black sheep of the family that Jaune was.
Next Story: 11th April
P a treon . com (slash) Coeur