VVVVV
Consequences Part Seven: Wind and Water (1/3)
a Gargoyles story
by Merlin Missy
Copyright 2005
PG-13
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Disney and Buena Vista Television own the characters, situations, and such.
Seventh, and by Oberon last, story in the "Consequences" series.
Follows "Found and Lost" and will make zero sense without having read the
rest of the series. Rowan is the property of Tara O'Shea and appears in this
story by permission.

Thanks to Constance for the beta work and to Kimberly T for getting me
to finish it.

VVVVV

"Vocate venti fortunate! Ex rege Oberonis! Et hic navis fluctum regate! Ad
orae Avalonis!"

The Puck's voice rolled out over the waters like thunder, as a thick haze
enveloped them. Fox kept her eyes on the shore, on David, until the mists had
swallowed him as well. When she could no longer see him, she turned back
towards the prow. Puck had crossed his arms and was resting his chin against
them, staring off into the fog.

"I thought you did all your spells in English."

She hadn't spoken it loudly, and after a short silence, thought perhaps he
hadn't heard her, or was ignoring her.

"Magic is a strange thing," he said, his eyes never moving from whatever
misty spot they'd found. "Spells designed for mortals are in mortal tongues.
Latin, Hindi, Yiddish, whatever language the mortals may write down, there
is the language of the spell. Our magic is different. The language we cast our
spells in cannot even be heard by mortals, much less spoken. The words
translate themselves into words the listeners might understand. When I teach
Alexander a new spell, he hears it in the True Language. Everyone else hears
it as they would expect. If you wanted to, you probably could make yourself
hear it in the True Language as well."

He grew quiet again, and she realized he'd just given her part of a lesson. If
this didn't work, she might have to be the one to teach it to her son.

She had no idea how long the trip would take. She knew Elisa and the rest
had been gone for months, but that they'd stopped in many ports of call on
their way home. She knew the time difference between the World and Avalon
to be twenty-four to one. She didn't know the distance to Avalon through the
mists, and she didn't know what kind of reception to expect, and she didn't
know how they would be getting back, other than Puck's intimation that her
mother would probably let them use her mirror. If not, they could be gone for
months, or years.

Not exactly my original plan when I signed up for this trip.

Tales from her childhood returned to her, stories of little girls gone to spend
an afternoon in the fairy land, coming home only to find their families grown
old. She tried to remember, had her mother ever told her one of those stories,
or had it been one of the endless succession of nannies and babysitters she'd
driven mad?

Another memory came back to her. She'd been all of five or six, home from
school with an earache. Her mother had stayed home from the lab, and they'd
sat on the old rocking chair, once the property of her father's grandmother,
wrapped in a long quilt. Her mother had held her the entire day, just rocking
back and forth, singing to her, telling her stories, playing long sessions of
"Itsy Bitsy Spider." There had been other times, when the three of them had
gone to the park, or to the zoo. She even remembered with fondness, now, the
first and only time her father had taken the two of them fishing. The day in
the rocking chair, though, was special to her. It was her only real memory of
cuddling with her mother, even if most of that time had been spent crying, her
head buried in the woman's sweet-smelling hair.

She'd been gone from Alex an hour, but already she missed him terribly.

"There it is," Puck said. Fox looked up. The fog still choked her sight, but
now she could see the faint outline of a torch, flaring high above them. A cliff
appeared below it, and then a beach. She could see figures on the sand, could
not make out their faces.

She moved to the front of the small craft, careful not to capsize it. Here she
still couldn't discern the beings on the sand, but she could see Puck's
face. She could have seen it in the darkest room. His eyes were filled with
light, the rest of his expression pure awe. He hadn't seen the shores of Avalon
in ten centuries; his joy upon seeing it again was heartbreaking in its intensity.

She'd never realized how homesick he must have been.

"We're home," he breathed. "We're really home." She chose not to correct
him.

The mists cleared, letting her see those who greeted them. Her first reaction
was to step backwards in the boat quickly. That's a big goddamned
spider.
The rest appeared to be at least human-shaped. She changed that
conclusion when one of the "humans" turned out to be a monkey, and a shape
she'd taken to be a rock became a large rabbit by better light.

The other two appeared to be human males, one with long, dark hair pulled
back into a ponytail, the other looking like a James Dean wannabe.
"Please say these are your friends."

He turned to her, the joy in his eyes only intensified by the sight of the others.
"Oh, yes."

The boat moved to the shore. He floated out, pulled it in with barely a tug.
As Fox stepped into the water and immediately felt her boots squelch, she saw
Puck approach the group, then kneel down. With some disquiet, she watched
him grab big handfuls of sand and throw them over his head like a little kid.
The others looked on, amused.

"Welcome home, Cousin," said the James Dean ripoff, offering a hand to
Puck. The smaller fay disregarded it, springing upwards instead, magical
energy crackling off his body.

Fox stepped ashore. Suddenly, the mists were gone as though they'd never
been. The sun sat low on the horizon, casting yellow brilliance everywhere.

Weird.

An itching started in her shoulder blades, and she twisted and twitched, try to
make it stop. Had something gotten into her shirt? It was familiar, but ...

Magic. The same kind of energy which had flowed through her once in her
son's defense skittered through her body. She hadn't a clue how to tap it, but
the mere intensity of presence made her antsy. And more.

A change went through the small assembly. The quasi-humans and the
monkey bowed. The rabbit nodded its head. The spider moved two of its legs
to dip its torso. She backed off, startled.

"Lady," said the long-haired male. "We greet thee."

"Um, Puck?" This was weirding her out, fast.

He settled down to the ground, a grin on his face. "You're the Queen's
daughter. It seems she's ordered the rest of these reprobates to be nice to
you." To his friends he said, "Get up, gang. She's one of us. Fox, these are
the main Tricksters, trouble-makers, and otherwise raisers of various hells
among the fay. You'll like them." He indicated each one, and with each name
there was a bow. "Anansi, Coyote, Raven, Hanuman, and Hare."

"Also known as the Tricksters 130," said the one called Coyote. "We
unionized."

He looked at them askance. "You formed a union." Vigorous nods. He
laughed, full-bellied. "Gods, I missed you people."

"And we you, Cousin," said the one called Raven.

Puck stopped his laughter. "Indeed." He looked to either side of the
assembly, then zipped off behind a boulder, then a tree. "All right, where is
she hiding?"

Raven folded his arms. "She didn't come."

"What do you mean she ... " He settled to the ground again, staring at Raven.
"She didn't come."

And this 'she' would be ... ? From the expression on his face, someone
important. "I see." In an instant, he changed. For a moment, he had been the
Puck again, but with the absence of whomever he'd been expecting, he
returned to the same person he'd been these past weeks and months. The
suddenness of the transformation was a blow.

Burning with curiosity but mindful of their reason for coming, Fox asked
instead, "Shouldn't we get to the palace? The sun's about to set."

The monkey said in a distinctly Indian accent, "Lady, my apologies, but the
sun has just risen."

"Risen?" The monkey and the rabbit nodded solemnly.

Puck swore. "I knew I should have questioned Angela more thoroughly.
We're going to have to wait until sunset."

"That'll be twelve days in the outside world." And that was before the fun
started. Damn. Damn. Damn. "We'll go back and wait there."

Noise surrounded them. Fox put her hands to her ears, trying to stopper it out,
while it drilled through her skull. What the hell!

There was a bright, shimmering flash in their midst, which faded to three
green flashes, and then to three forms. David had spoken of the Three Sisters
to her back when Demona had turned the human residents of Manhattan to
stone, so their identical appearances did not startle her as badly as they might
have. Neither did the cold, dead blue of their eyes dig into her as much as it
might have had she not been prepared.

What did unnerve her was far more basic. She knew of the Three Weird
Sisters in the abstract, from the play, from the reports, from Owen. But here
they were now, standing before her, and she was a little bit afraid not because
they were the Weird Sisters, but because they were her weird sisters.
What would be appropriate for the situation? When it came to having filled
her in on What To Do At Court, Puck had neglected to mention meeting their
siblings.

"Um ... Hi."

They ignored her.

"You," said the blonde, pointing to Puck.

"You dare to show your face here?" said the brunette.

"You were banished," said the white-haired one. "Oberon is not pleased."

"He generously allowed you to live."

"He will not be so generous when he sees this defiance."

"You should not have come."

"One day," said Puck conversationally, floating to eye level with them, "I'm
going to tape your mouths shut and see which one is actually doing the
talking." He zipped out of reach as the blonde tried to swat him. "Fox, meet
your charming sisters: Monica, Rachel and Phoebe."

Fox had never heard a spider chuckle before and found it a mite disturbing.

The Three were unamused. "You have played your last prank, Puck."

"Oberon's anger is not easily abated."

"Coming back to Avalon will only serve to enflame it."

Puck did a remarkable impression of his alter-ego: "Painful inflammation?
Try Preparation H!"

The hare guffawed. Coyote hooted. Fox snickered, remembering finding
David in the television room once watching the Three Stooges.

She grinned evilly. "I know three guys you'd just love. They're named Larry,
Moe and Curly. If you want a date, I can set you up."

That sent the Three into scowls and the rest to howls of laughter. Puck bowed
his head at her.
"We're keeping this one," said Coyote, and slapped her on the back.

The brunette folded her arms, while the other two spread theirs straight and
down. For the first time, they addressed her.

"Little one, do not vex us."

"The Queen has placed her protection on you and your child."

"We are bound to grant you safe passage to the palace."

"There will come a time when Oberon steps down from his throne."

"We will be there to claim it when he does."

"And then we will be the Queens."

They said together: "Pray that you will be long dead."

"No, dears," she said. "You pray that I'll be dead."

"As much as we'd love to finish this delightful conversation," said Puck, "we
really should be getting back to Manhattan. We'll be back at sunset."

He turned away from them towards the boat. The white-haired one stretched
out a lazy finger. He stopped in midair, struggling against some unseen force.

"You came back."

"You will stay."

"Oberon bids you come to the palace."

"Now," they barked together.

"Fine," he said, "fine. But we'll need to have the gargoyles present."

"You will need whatever Oberon says you need."

"He says you need to return to the palace."

"We doubt he will say you will need to live until sunset."

He what? She looked for confirmation. Puck's crestfallen face gave it to her.
This wasn't a surprise. So he hadn't been completely honest with them.
His voice subdued, Puck said, "Let me down, unless you're planning on
carrying me to the palace yourselves." The finger, and the Puck, were
lowered. "Thank you."

"Move."

He shrugged, and gestured to Fox. "Come, then. It seems we're to put on a
command performance." He glanced at the others, who had sobered
considerably in the past three minutes. "I appreciate your being here, but ... "

" ... but you would appreciate it even more if we came with you," said Raven.
"Then let's go!"

The group settled to either side of them, ignoring the Sisters altogether as they
formed a very impromptu honor guard. With a nod from Raven, they set off
into the woods. Fox spared a look for the Sisters, who fumed quietly as they
floated behind the band, then she caught up with Puck, tugging him down to
walk with her rather than fly.

"Cousin," said the monkey as they walked, "you live with the ones Avalon
sent, yes?"

"Yes. Why?"

"I have heard from the rest of our cousins that the heroes are returning to the
World. Anansi helped form Fara Maku and Tea. Coyote reclaimed his Peter,
Raven his Natsilane. Even the Bean Sidhe saw the return of Cu Chulainn. I
wondered if perhaps you had heard rumor of the return of my brother Bhima,
and his wife and brothers?"

"None, I'm afraid." The monkey closed his eyes. Puck patted him on the
shoulder. "Don't let it worry you, Cousin. Avalon has sent many travelers
into the World. You don't think Goliath, Elisa and Angela were the only ones
to help Avalon help restore the heroes, do you?"

"You are probably right. Still, it would do my heart good to see the Pandavas,
take the hand of the doe-eyed Draupadi, and embrace Bhima once more."

"You shall," said Puck.

"You believe so."

"Yes," he said, "I do. He is your brother." He looked at Fox, the conviction
returned to his eyes.

She dropped her gaze to watch her step. No use getting a broken ankle on the
way to their funeral. But she smiled in Puck's direction just the same.

They passed a group of trees, and suddenly, it was in view.

Since she'd learned of her mother's true nature, she often imagined what the
castle of the Fairy King and Queen might be like. The sight before her, while
certainly not disappointing, wasn't quite what she'd imagined, either.

My castle is prettier, she thought with amused pride.

As they neared the palace, she could see faces from every parapet and
window, as well as creatures gathered to either side. Another glance proved
many of the watchers to be stone. So it was daybreak. Perfect.

The rest of the watchers ...

Fox saw beings from every corner of her imagination: unicorns, pegasi,
snakes, demons, angels, and dozens of almost-human creatures of all sizes,
perhaps the more horrible for their nearness to her own form.

They peeked and spied, or watched outright, in silence as the Tricksters, the
Sisters, and the human made their way up the slope. Their eyes gave her the
creeps. Flat and dead, many of the gazes were, and in the rest, something
more familiar, again more terrifying for that familiarity.

Hunger.

They watched with eager anticipation, waiting for the sport to come. She
could read it on each face, that boredom so desperate that even the sure death
of one of their own would provide distraction. They would rip the soul from
him themselves if it meant a change in routine.

Animals, she thought, and then regretted it. Insight hit her, with it
recognition, and not a little fear. These guys really were her kind, weren't
they? Hadn't she and the rest of the Pack, back when they'd been a
Pack, tasted this same kind of sensual anticipation, the lust for blood burning
in them, their eyes just as dead at the sight of Goliath and Lexington, fallen
and waiting for the kill?

Fox shuddered.

"Welcome home," said Puck, quietly, observing her the same way he had
when they'd first met and his name had been Owen.

"Home," she repeated. This was her family. Had the Gathering been a few
years earlier, she might have been called with them. They were just like her.

Which meant she could understand them.

Which meant she could manipulate them.

Fox grinned.

They made a sharp turn as they approached the palace, guided by the Sisters
now. Fox felt her feet moving in the direction they wanted her to go, and
knew it was they who bade her do so. The Tricksters stopped, obviously not
under the same spell.

"Where are you taking us?" demanded Puck.

"To your quarters. Oberon will summon you when he is ready."

"We would see him now," he demanded, trying to float. His feet dangled
below him foolishly.

"He would not see you now."

"Do not test his anger further, Puck." The brunette spat his name.

The rest of the Tricksters fell behind them as they entered the palace. Fox
wasn't sure if they were forbidden to go where the Three were leading her and
Puck, or if they had their own plots and plans to worry about now.

Puck spared them one glance as his friends turned down another corridor.
The Sisters ignored them completely.

They stopped in front of a closed door. The blonde opened it with a flick of
magic, making Fox wonder if anyone around here did anything without it.
She pushed Puck in with a gesture; he collapsed in onto his knees.

He pulled himself up and launched towards the door, anger radiating from his
pores. He hit the doorway and bounced back into the room.

"You will stay here," said the white-haired one, and tugged an invisible cord
around Fox's feet. She had no choice but to follow.

The room next door was hers. They didn't push her inside, either forcibly or
magically, but she was compelled to cross the threshold. "The Queen will
come to see you shortly."

They vanished.

So much for their triumphant entry.

Fox looked around the room. She had to admit, for what could be her cell for
an indeterminate period, it was pretty nifty. The draped and richly-dressed
bed took up most of one wall. The opposite wall held a huge fireplace with
three large logs that she would bet never burned out, and polished brass
implements to stoke it further. Three oversized chairs graced the near corner,
to be pulled near it for warmth or away for privacy. The floor was covered in
a carpet whose softness she could feel through her boots. Near the window,
which appeared to have a balcony just beyond, she saw a mirror and stand,
covered in gold so bright it glowed, and a porcelain basin.

A nook in the corner turned out to be another corner hiding a private bath.
She recalled the early floor designs for Wyvern, and asking what a garderobe
was. Fox didn't see one, or anything like one, attached to her room. This
could be a problem later on in the day. She ignored it for now.

Everything smelled of lavender.

Fox sighed, and sat down in an overstuffed chair, tried to think. Puck was
next door, no doubt ready to burst. She should try to reach him, if just by
talking through the wall. Let's see.

She recalled that awful women's prison movie. It had been her second part,
her first big break. It had sucked donkey balls so badly it wasn't even rerun
on the indy stations. She remembered a scene where the prisoners
communicated their escape plans by tapping on the pipes. Considering the
lack of toilets, the fairy castle would probably not have indoor plumbing, but
tapping on the wall would might work as well.

She picked up a large hairbrush from the basin stand, absently noticed the fine
work on the silver handle and back. Perfect. She crawled onto the
bed, moved against the common wall she shared with Puck, and drew her arm
back.

And stopped as she heard voices from the other room.

Feeling a little embarrassed, she inched closer to hear.

"How could you even think of coming back!" The other person was
female, and quite angry. It wasn't her mother. It didn't sound like the Sisters.
The mysterious absent "She" from the beach?

"I had to come."

"No, you didn't! You would have been fine. He would have left you alone!
He might have even forgiven you." Her voice dropped, and Fox could barely
hear her as she said, "He'll kill you."

"I know."

"Then why did you come back, you idiot?" Her tone belied her words. Even
through the stone, Fox could hear the tears in her voice.

"To see you."

"You might lie well to the rest, but you don't do it to me."

"You find it impossible I would be tempted to return merely on the basis of
your charms? Here I thought your ego much bigger than that."

"Hah. Your self-preservation instinct is twice the size of my ego. Why did
you come back, Puck?"

"Because I hear crying in my sleep from a child long dead."

"Clarice Starling you aren't."

She heard him chuckle. "No, and you no Hannibal Lecter, either." There was
a pause. "I need to do this."

"No, you don't," she pleaded with him. "Leave this island. I'll help you go.
He won't follow you to the World. I'd go with you if I could. Please!"

A longer pause, ended by a sound she recognized as the finish of a kiss. "It's
good to know you care."

"I've always cared. Please don't do this. It's bad enough being separated from
you. If you should die ... "

" ... you would find another madman to bewitch and you would name your
firstborn after me, gods help the poor girl."

"You're impossible."

"And you love me for it."

There was no more conversation. Fox moved away from the wall, sat on the
edge of her bed. She was certain the female voice was the same woman Puck
had asked Raven about. Woman, hell, she might be a six-legged horse for all
Fox knew. And did it matter? Her friend was in love with her, or at least in
agreeable lust from the sounds she could still hear through the wall
He knew he was going to die. Dammit, he'd lied to her and to David, and
there was nothing she could do to stop it.

No. She could plan.

Fox curled her legs under her, and began considering her options.

VVVVV

"Fox?" Her mother stood beside the bed. She sat up from where she had been
lying and rubbed her eyes. Damn. She'd fallen asleep.

"Mom. Shouldn't you be green?"

The woman she'd known as Anastasia Renard smiled and sat beside her on the
bed. "I thought you'd be more comfortable with me like this."

"Whatever." Sleep let loose its last hold on her. The light levels in the room
had changed. Is it afternoon already? She couldn't believe it. Her
first day in the fairyland, and she'd slept through half of it. "Why weren't we
summoned earlier?"

"The Puck told me you needed the gargoyles. I asked Oberon to wait until
sunset to call you both to the main hall. It's just as well. He's as likely to kill
the Puck as listen to him right now. By sunset, he may well have cooled
down enough to listen."

"Owen told us there would be no problem, that Oberon would let him come
back for this and let him leave again, as long as I was with him."

"He knew better than that. Banishment is a very specific matter. It remains to
be seen whether Oberon will allow him to live long enough to hear him out."

Dammit, Owen. Fox sighed. "Did he tell you why we're here?"

"He didn't have to."

Fox sat back, staring at her mother. "You know?"

"I knew from the day Katharine told me how they'd come to the Island. And
the Puck confirmed the truth when I visited you last year."

She stood up, the anger she'd thought she'd lost back full upon her. "You
knew and you didn't say anything! You could have told Oberon
yourself, let him deal with the Three Bitches. Damn it, Mother, why didn't
you do something! Is it because Owen and Ian aren't yours? Do you hate
them that much?"

Her mother remained sitting. "Hate them? Child, had I known, I would have
died for Ian."

"Bullshit. You were the one who wanted Ian sent away in the first place. And
when Puck was a baby, you threatened to kill him!"

"Is that what he told you?" Her demeanor remained mild, nonconfrontational.
Fox stopped in puzzlement.

"I believe him," she said slowly. "You tried to take my baby from me. As far
as I'm concerned, you are capable of anything."

"You don't understand."

"You've got that right."

"What has Puck told you about his childhood?"

"Not much. Enough. Oberon kept him as his servant because you wouldn't
let him treat him as his son."

A smile played at her mouth. "That wasn't quite how things happened.
Oberon spoiled our daughters terribly as children, despite what I would have
had, flaunting before all that if I would not bear the child he wanted, he would
make certain our heirs were unfit to rule after him. He did the same to the
Puck, again to mock me. He used the children, and I let him use them.
Despite that, the Puck turned out surprisingly well. I have never told him this,
but many times since Oberon first brought him home, I've wished things
might have been different, that the boy might have been my son, too."

Fox had spent her childhood learning to read her parents' faces, to gauge what
she could and couldn't get past them at any particular time. Now that she
knew what her mother was, she had to wonder if she'd ever really seen the
truth, but her mother's face radiated only honesty.

"You should tell Puck that. It would mean a lot to him."

A smile, weak, and a little sad. "You still don't understand. You were raised
in the World. You know a kind of freedom none of us here may ever know,
though we live three hundred times as long and are heir to powers you can't
imagine. We are bound by cords you cannot see, and thus we cannot always
act as we wish."

This seemed pretty damned stupid to Fox. "Why not? And don't give me that
'You're just a mortal and couldn't understand' crap again."

"I won't. Fox," she took her hand, "did Puck tell you anything about your
grandmother?"

"She was the Queen before Oberon. He took the throne from her."

"No. She left it. He tried to seize power, and she kept him at a stalemate.
The stalemate caused horrible repercussions in the World, and eventually, she
gave in so as not to hurt it anymore. She was angry with him, and with me for
not helping her against him. She cursed us both, as well as the child I carried,
who became your sisters. The events unfolding around us now are the result
of our folly all those years past."

"So because Oberon defied your mother, both of his sons have to die?" No.
She refused to buy it. There has to be a way out.

Her mother dropped her eyes. "That is how he has chosen to interpret it, yes."

"But you haven't. Tell me you've found a way around whatever curse it is.
Please, Mom!" She was begging, hated herself for it, but her mother's mercy
was Puck's best chance. "Please don't let him die."

"I will do what I can," she said. "But do not ask me to do more than that. I
am as bound as the rest." She met her eyes again; in their depths, Fox saw
magics bubbling. "If I interfere in Oberon's dealings with his son, he will take
it to mean he has the right to interfere with you and Alexander. I will
not allow that to occur."

Fox remembered the flicker of magic through her veins, the sound of stone
shattering, the sight of her stepfather being blown through the far wall of the
nursery. "I can deal with him."

Her mother watched her eyes, then threw back her head and laughed at what
she'd found there. "Perhaps you can at that." She stood. "Come, child. I will
show you my home. If tonight does not go well, it will probably be your only
visit here. You should see what you can."

Fox nodded. Maybe she could get a feel for the place, work on finding a way
out of this mess. She owed Owen.

"Lead the way."

VVVVV