I can't believe it took me so long to finish this...I have no excuse, I know.

Hoping this ending doesn't disappoint you...

Epilogue

Truce Village - 960 A.D.

The baby, lying silently in its cradle, wasn't asleep. Its round big eyes were wide open, as it observed in fascination the big flying thing before him. A large bat, fluttering above the baby's tiny face and coming closer...

«Flea, don't! You'll scare him!»

Flea resumed his form in a flash of light. He sighed.

«He isn't scared, look! Why should he? One of the fondest memories I have of my mother is that one...she transforming and flying around me to make me laugh!»

«As a bat?»

«No, as a sparrow. But I can't do the sparrow...»

He leaned over the cradle and began to make faces at the child, who smiled. He created small flickers in his hands and sent them floating around.

Auree was about to protest, but stopped.

Why should I be so petulant? Let them play! Oh...I'm beginning to resemble my mother, always complaining and forbidding things and blah blah blah!

«Flea, please refrain from magic for the next hours, will you? Our neighbours are coming»

Flea glanced toward the open window.

«I can't see them» he answered, and leaped into the air. With a quick gesture, he summoned Auree besides him near the ceiling and kissed her, squeezing her in his arms until she shrieked.

«...and above all refrain from this kind of things! If someone should see us...?»

He laughed loudly.

«Yes, I'm just a friend, I remember»

«You're a female friend»

They slowly descended.

«If you say so» he sighed «Actually playing the woman...well, I must admit it's fun when the boys in town smile at me in that way and...»

«They WHAT!»

«Hee hee hee...»

«Stop it!»

Auree looked around in her comfortable parlour. Everything seemed ready for the incoming guests. Her two Mystic servants -two Imps who were the only ones in Truce knowing Flea's true identity- had done a good job. But she felt nervous. Now she was at last ready to try to reconcile with the human society...and dreaded that something wrong could ruin that day.

«I'm aware I'm asking you a lot,» she murmured «But it's difficult for me, too...can you imagine, Flea, how much I'd like to tell everybody that you are my husband and the father of my child? I'd like to open the window and shout at the top of my lungs!»

«The window is open» he said, with a smile «Oh, I know, Auree. We've discussed all this for so long and I agreed...Don't torment yourself. I would do everything for you and the baby»

«Flea, you are so...sweet...» she whispered, with tears in his eyes.

«I usually am» he proudly answered, offering her a handkerchief.

More than a year before -shortly after having emerged from the time warp into the middle of a peaceful Mystic village- they had got married with a rather weird but really touching Mystic ceremony. They had lived in Flea's hometown for a while but when Auree had found herself pregnant she had begun to feel nostalgic, believing that perhaps the child -being mostly human- should have contacts with humans too.

So they had departed, moving to Truce village, in which Flea had bought a newly built large house. There the baby was born.

Many things had changed in three hundreds and sixty years. Mystics and humans were living in peace now, humans were welcomed in Mystic villages and vice versa. So, no one had found questionable Auree's explanation that her husband worked in Medina and used to be far away from home for long periods (that was partially true- that he worked in Medina; he was still very dedicated to his studies about magic and, with some colleagues, had opened a small school there).

Nobody had objected about Flea's presence nor had inquired about their relationship: it seemed natural that a woman often left alone -and now with a baby- had brought a friend with her for help and company. A Mystic friend seemed all right, too. People seemed a lot more open-minded, now in 960 A.D...but they weren't ready for everything. Not for an interracial marriage, not for a half-blood child, not for Flea's peculiar taste in clothing.

She sighed and her gaze dropped on the ring with a sapphire, which adorned her finger. That ring! They had looked for the old jeweller's shop, not really expecting to find it, and instead it still existed, just moved into a newer building. And the ring, the same Flea had ordered for his girlfriend in 600 A.D., was there too. The goldsmith had shrunk it for Auree and none seemed to have a finger like hers. The ring had been a kind of "mascot" for the shop across the centuries and at first the jeweller's wife didn't want to sell it. But, seeing that special object fitting perfectly on Auree's finger, she had stared at the human in awe, murmuring about a miracle.

And it had been there, in the workshop, in front of the whole jeweller's family, that Flea had dropped on one knee, had evocated a bunch of red roses from nowhere and had asked Auree to become his wife.

Mystic engagements and weddings usually didn't involved rings, he had just wanted it to offer Auree something similar to human traditions.

«You do love that ring, eh?»

«It means a lot to me»

«Too bad your old house has been demolished two hundred years ago. That would have been a neat present»

She smiled brightly.

«I appreciate your kindness, but...I've thought about this recently and...I have realized that it's not so important, now»

«Don't you miss your house anymore?»

She shook her head.

«I have a house now, and this is better than that one...Because that was my parent's house, this is ours. I have my house, my family, my life. All the old stuff has remained in another age. I really felt reborn...and I owe you all this, Flea»

He looked extremely amazed.

«Oh, you're not believing in yourself, again! I haven't changed anything that wasn't ready for a change. I've just offered you an opportunity...You decided to think and act differently, to take decision and responsibilities...you did it»

She smiled slyly.

«In order to change, you must have the will and the opportunity. Your destiny always depends a bit from other people's whim and from random events. The idea of someone doing everything all by himself is just a myth»

«Well...yes»

«So your help has been as important as my determination»

He nodded.

«If you want to look at thing in this way...but don't forget our love has changed my life, too. So, you owe me half of all you've got now. And I owe you half of all I've got»

Auree neared the cradle.

«And whose is it?» she asked mockingly, pointing to the baby.

He shrugged.

«Fifty-fifty. When he laughs he's mine, when he cries he's yours»

«Ha!»

Auree stroked gently her son's brown hair. He had quite a rich hair for a three-weeks-old baby.

«Are you sure the name I've chosen is right for you?» she asked, anxious again.

Flea sighed.

«We are decided! You name sons, I'll name daughters»

«There isn't a daughter»

«Not yet, but there'll be!»

She stared at him intently.

«Not now»

«No...in the future»

Having a child had been a decision Auree had willingly taken and now she was happy, of course, but...it hadn't been exactly what passed for fun, although her husband had stayed with her during childbirth, relieving her pain with magic and herbal potions.

«I've missed you a lot in these past four months...» Flea whispered unexpectedly in her ear.

She smiled, suddenly interested in the floorboards under her.

«I've missed you, too» she admitted «I'm recovering...I think we could...very soon»

«Great!»

«Oh! I'm just sorry about a thing. A rather stupid thing, I don't know how I can think about it, but...»

«What is it?»

«He doesn't resemble you at all! He's all alike my grandfather!»

«He looks a strongly built baby, yes. But I can see the resemblance. Can't you?»

She examined the child again.

«No...»

«He has something from me, really. First of all, he has my eyes...»

«Ah, that's true»

«...and he has a sort of magical aura...some latent red in his hair...potential, all this is potential»

«Do you mean he has talent for magic?»

«Not sure...perhaps these qualities will show up in his children»

«Your fire magic and your red hair?»

«Yes, perhaps»

Auree remained silent for a while, slowly caressing the child's tiny cheek with a finger. When she spoke again, her voice was a sad murmuring.

«He'll need to know the truth»

Flea nodded thoughtfully.

«I'm not going to feign also with him»

Their gazes met. The Mystic stepped forward and hugged his wife.

«We'll leave him only when he'll be ready...living his own life and not needing us anymore»

She didn't answer, her face pressed against his shoulder.

«A handsome boy like him...» he continued, soothingly «Girls will adore him! I bet that at the age of twenty he'll be already married...perhaps even a parent!»

He was slightly patting her back.

Of course, sooner or later, it would become evident to the other inhabitants of Truce that Auree and Flea weren't aging at the same rate of normal people. It wouldn't be wise to remain there for too long if they wanted a normal life for their child. On the other hand, the thought of forcing her son to leave with them was for Auree -for obvious reasons- intolerable.

«Auree» he whispered in her ear «We have at least twenty years to get prepared...and to prepare him»

She sighed heavily.

«Twenty...or two hundreds...it'll be always too soon»

«Or...perhaps things will be different then. Perhaps he will be eager to see the world and will choose to come with us...who knows? I promise, however, that in no circumstances we will leave him alone»

Auree smiled, detaching from him, and wiped her tears away.

«They're coming» she announced.

Flea turned, following her gaze: he could see people crossing the bridge that linked the house to the main land -Flea and Auree lived on a small island to the southwest of Truce.

They were neighbours and friends, coming with small gifts and cakes for the Naming Ceremony, the first time a newborn baby would be presented to the rest of the community.

The Mystic stepped away from the window and cast an illusion spell upon himself. He had just said he was ready to do everything for his family and he was sincere.

When the guests entered the house they were welcomed by Auree's husband, an elegant and attractive man with short red hair and an open smile, who was wearing a proper, sober, ceremony dress and -above all- had normal round ears.

He immediately charmed every woman with his appearance and his exquisite manners. There was no lipstick, no nail varnish, no earring anywhere, and absolutely no sign whatsoever he could be a Mystic.

He had already used that disguise in previous occasions among Truce people. Although someone might have noticed the resemblance between that slender human man and the pretty Mystic woman who lived with Auree...they had no clue to guess the truth, however.

Soon the room was full of expectant people. Auree had received the gifts for the baby, had politely thanked everyone, had checked the refreshments and now she was ready. She left the parlour after having called the Imp servants to take care of the guests' needs.

The Naming Ceremony was a fairly simple and short thing indeed. When Auree re-entered with the child in her arms, everybody fell silent and looked at her. She stepped to the centre of the room, smiled at her husband, who soon reached her and put his arm around her waist. The first sign of their affection they were allowed to show in public since they had chosen to live with humans...and they both treasured it.

Auree stared into his eyes, lost in reverie, for a long time. Because, although the illusion worked over her as well, Flea's face, his fluttering eyelashes, his way of slightly pursing his lips and then relaxing in a half-mocking smile were still the same, and she would have recognised them everywhere under a ton of disguises.

She came back to reality hearing someone's polite coughing. The guests were waiting, it was her moment. Flea gently patted her back.

Auree cleaned her throat and spoke.

«My son's name» she announced proudly «will be Taban»

Everybody applauded enthusiastically and congratulated. Flea held her closer and smiled to the child. Auree cradled the baby in her arms, listening to the voice that, even through such an inebriating happy noise, had managed to get heard from the back of her mind. The usual rebuking voice...her mother's.

Sure, it seems you're happy. But it will not last for long! it warned.

Her gaze wandered out of the window, toward the sea...

She shrugged.

THE END

Well, it was fun...

Goodbye!