A/N: This has actually been finished for about a month and a half now… I just never got around to typing it up… sorry.
Chapter 5: The Silverton Town Festival
One night on the river I sat out on deck and stared up at the stars. It was one of the things I loved most about the nine kingdoms, how clear the skies were, and how many stars could be seen because of it. The bright lights of New York City bleached out the sky so much that only the brightest were visible but here… I felt like I could see the whole universe.
I was wrapped in my coat and a thick woolen blanket against the chill in the night air, it was the cusp of spring time but the nights were still cold, and part of my longed for the warmth of Wolf's embrace. He made a wonderful portable heater, radiating warmth like a furnace. I'd taken advantage of this during Wolf's first New Year's Eve in New York, cuddled up to him for heat in the cold air of Time Square. Wolf had been dazzled by the bright lights and by the sheer multitude of people. Eventually though his animal side had grown edgy with the crowd, and we left before the ball had dropped in favor of watching it on television from the calm of our apartment.
I sighed without realizing it, and Wolf's voice cut through the quiet of my personal reflection.
"What ya thinking about?" he asked, settling himself next to me on the deck.
"Sorry." He said, sheepishly.
"Just the stars and how we can't see them half as well back home." I said, answering his question.
We were silent for a time, but eventually he broke it.
"I never cheated on you, Virginia. I would never."
I sighed. "I know I don't know how I could have believed you had."
Another thing I had spent time thinking about had been Wolf's supposed infidelity, and the more I had thought about it, the more I realized how absolutely absurd it was. The love and devotion I saw in him every time I looked in his eyes nearly broke my heart. I knew I loved him, but I also knew that I could never match his level of adoration, much as I wanted to, and it scared the crap out of me sometimes. So when I suspected that he had cheated on me I almost felt relieved, because it would prove Wolf to be just like every other guy I'd ever dated after all. That would have been fine, I was used to that, I would have moved on, but unconditional love was not something I was used t. It used to be that I could only get a declaration of love during the heat of passion, or when they wanted something from me. But with Wolf… he gave it so freely, and asked only that I love him in return. It was refreshing, it was terrifying, it was amazing. Love, real love, true love, I had it, and I had almost thrown it away because even after all we had been through I was still scare to give my heart to him completely.
"Can you forgive me?" I asked, and I realized that I wanted that more than anything. Losing him would all but kill me, and as much as it terrified me how depended I'd become on him, it was thrilling as well; I'd fallen, and he'd done exactly what he'd promised, and caught me.
He cupped my cheek. "There's nothing to forgive. Rosaleen wanted to tear us apart, so she preyed on your insecurities to get to us… but it didn't work, we're still together, and I'm never giving you up!"
I felt tears burn at my eyes and he pulled me into a hug.
'Stupid hormones.' I grumbled to myself.
"I don't deserve you." I said, into his shirt.
"Huff puff!" he cried. "That's completely untrue! You deserve the whole world, and I'd give it to you if I could, Virginia!"
I hummed contentedly, deciding not to press the issue. "How about a cuddle?" I asked.
Wolf grinned and adjusted the cocoon I'd made with my blanket so that I sat with my back against his chest, his arms around me, and the blanket around the both of us.
"Better?" he asked.
"Much, thank you." I kissed his cheek and was lulled into a doze by the warmth of Wolf and the rocking of our little boat.
"We're going to have to stop soon." Wolf said, pulling me out of my doze. "We're almost out of firewood and food." He explained.
I looked up and caught sight of a waxing gibbous moon through the trees.
"Full moon is in a couple of days as well…" I said.
Wolf's arms shifted protectively, as if he could protect me from the moon, and more importantly from himself.
"We'll put ashore when it's time, and I'll follow you downstream through the woods by foot on that night… less chance of trouble that way."
"What if you meet a traveler?" I asked.
Wolf was silent for a moment. "Then I'll control myself…" he answered with a resigned sigh.
We fell silent again and Wolf's hand clasped mine protectively over the baby growing inside me and suddenly I felt something like feathers tickling me from the inside.
I let out a gasp.
"Virginia? What is it?" Wolf asked.
Tears were forming in my eyes again and I pressed Wolf's hand into my belly.
"The baby!" I said, "I could feel it!"
Wolf stared at me in wonder, and he broke into a grin when he felt a particularly vicious kick against his palm, just barely there, but he felt it all the same.
"Virginia, you are amazing!" he gushed at me.
"Couldn't have done it without you!" I laughed.
"Hello, little one!" Wolf spoke to my belly. "We can't wait to meet you!"
I grinned at him, and settled back into his arms. I woke the next morning in the same place I had fallen asleep, out on deck in the safety of Wolf's arms, the smell of frying eggs and bacon wafting up from the small galley below deck. Wolf was awake a few moments later his nostrils twitching at the enticing scent of bacon, and we clambered back below deck to get our breakfast.
A few days into our voyage down the river we ran out of wood for the engine (as predicted) and were forced to dock at a small village on the banks of the river.
The village looked to be a small fishing town with extensive docks and lots of little boats moored up alongside, but there seemed to be very few people around for a town that theoretically relied on the river for their livelihood.
As we pulled up to dock, a man in a dapper hat of woven straw and disheveled clothes stepped up to greet us.
"A'right my lovers?" he asked in a suspiciously Cornish accent.
"Hey!" My father called as he tossed the forward line to the man for him to tie off. "Where is everybody?"
"Oh, they're in the town square." The man replied in his lyrical accent. "It's festival day, lots of stands and shops open and the like. Big parade with lots of pomp and circumstance…"
"Oh!" Jordana cried out in delight. "Of course, it's Wendell's birthday! It's celebrated as a national holiday!"
"Er… well you see," corrected the man as he tied off the aft line. "It's also the anniversary of the town's founding… so we don't actually celebrate King Wendell's birthday as such…"
"Oh." Jordana sighed, slightly put out.
"Right, well it's ok if we leave our boat here for the time being, while we buy some supplies in town?" Dad asked.
"Oh, sure enough." The man replied. "I'm here on guard duty, guardin' the boats and all, so your little vessel's safe as houses."
"Guarding them from what?" I asked.
"Er… not rightly sure my lover, but I'll know it if I see it sure enough."
We were all about the head into town when the man stopped us again.
"Oh! I almost forgot! There's something important I should tell you…" the man trailed off.
"Hey, buddy we're kind of in a hurry." Wolf prompted impatiently. Tonight was the full moon and he was anxious to be as far from civilization as possible before moonrise.
"You know, I've gone and forgotten what is was I was going to tell you." The man admitted.
"Well, if you remember, come and find us." Dad said, and we were off once again.
The sounds of the festival guided us into the central square and main street of the town. The first thing we noticed was that everyone was wearing bright green outfits.
"I think we're not properly dressed." Wolf mentioned, uncomfortably.
"Let's just get what we need, and then we can go." I said, rubbing my hand over my baby bump in an effort to soothe my own nerves.
As we walked down the main street towards the town square we noticed that all the vendors and people we passed were looking at us with suspicious and even angry expressions. I tried smiling back at them, but it only deepened their scowls.
"Why are they staring at us?" I whispered to Jordana.
She shrugged, "Maybe cause we're not dressed like them?"
Dad stepped up to vendor selling bread and other baked goods, but when he tried to buy something the man made a few gestures with his hands and ignored us.
Dad turned to Jordana and Wolf and asked:
"What was that all about?"
Jordana looked puzzled.
"Well, he just made a hand gesture that's supposed to ward off bad luck… Have any of you broken a magic mirror recently?"
We all shook our heads.
"Is my tail hanging out?" Wolf asked, and started to turn in circles trying to see the seat of his pants.
"No, Wolf, you're tucked in." I said, putting my hand on his shoulder to stop him.
"So then what –" Dad was cut off by a booming voice crying out.
"Blasphemy! Blasphemers! Heathens! Heretics!" The voice cried and everyone on the street turned to look at an old man dressed entirely in emerald green robes, who was pointing directly at us.
"Infidels!" The man cried again. "Not only do they not wear the sacred colour on the appointed day of Silverton's founding, but that one wears the forbidden colour of our rivals, Silvermont!"
The man pointed at me dramatically, and I looked down at myself. Hiking boots, black leggings, blue coat, blue skirt, and pink-and-purple floral blouse.
"Oh dear…" Jordana said.
"What's wrong with my clothes?" I asked, and the town who by this time were all crowded around staring, let out a collective gasp.
"What's wrong with them!" The man asked. "You're wearing purple! Purple is the forbidden colour!"
"And I don't suppose the punishment for wearing the forbidden colour is a fine and a slap on the wrist?" Dad asked.
"It's death!" The man declared.
"Death?" I cried.
"Oh cripes!" Wolf exclaimed.
Dad rolled his eyes. "What is it with you people?"
"Time to go!" Jordana said, changing into a little yellow bird and flying off in the direction of the boats.
"Run!" Wolf said, grabbing my wrist and pulling me along behind him.
We ran as fast as we could through the maze of streets and alleys that made up the town, all the while the sounds of the angry mob followed us, and soon we were hopelessly lost.
We stopped briefly to catch our breath in an alley, and watched as the crowd ran past.
"Ok," dad said, in between gasps for breath. "You stay here for a minute, I'll lead them away."
"What? Dad, are you crazy? You heard what they said, they'll kill you!"
"I'm not wearing purple, maybe I can reason with them and get away."
"Tony, do you really think that you'll be able to reason with a mob of religious fanatics?" Wolf said.
"…Good point. Change of plan, I'll sneak to the boat and get ready to go, you two, stay here and sneak out of town and we'll find you and pick you up."
"And what if you get caught?" I pointed out.
"Then come and rescue me!" And then he was gone.
"It's ok, Virginia," Wolf said, squeezing my hand. "Tony knows what he's doing."
I almost didn't hear him add. "I hope."
Wolf and I were almost out of town when the mob spotted us.
"Oh cripes!" Wolf exclaimed as they came after us.
Then he pushed me on ahead of him. "I'll distract them, run!"
"Virginia, there's no time! Go!"
Suddenly someone caught me by my arm, I turned. It was Jordana.
"Come on Lady Virginia! You must!" she cried pulling me away from Wolf.
"No!" I cried.
Wolf took my hand. "Virginia, I'll be fine, now take care of our little cub and run!"
I nodded, and followed Jordana down another alleyway. We ran for several more blocks, and were so close to the river we could hear it lapping at the docks, when we hit a dead end. Jordana flew up and perched on the wooden fence blocking our escape.
"Lady Virginia, you must find a way over! Our boat is just there!" She said, excitedly.
"Ok." I said to myself, looking around for something I could stand on. There was nothing that would hold my weight so I tried to pull myself up by my arms, but I couldn't.
By this time the mob had found us and I was trapped. Jordana heard them and dropped onto the ground in front of me in her human form brandishing a stick like a weapon. I picked up a wooden plank next to me.
"You know how to fight?" I asked.
"Eh… not really." She admitted.
"Neither do I."
The group made it to the dead end and stopped a few feet from us, jeering at their cornered prey. Suddenly, there was an animalistic snarl and Wolf dropped into the alley from the roof tops above and three of the men at the front of the group broke his fall.
Taking advantage of the confusion, Jordana and I swung at the nearest men and kept on swinging blindly until they had all run off in search of reinforcements. Panting heavily, I noticed Wolf was on the ground, groaning in pain. I dropped my board and dropped to my knees beside him.
"Wolf!" I called, frantically.
"Ugh," he groaned, opening one eye. "Virginia… are you ok?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, the baby's fine. What about you, are you hurt?"
He just groaned.
"Sorry, can you walk?"
Jordana and I helped him to sit, and then to stand.
"Right, we need to get to the boat." He said.
"The fastest way is over that wall." Jordana replied.
"Think you can make it?" I asked.
Wolf shrugged. "Don't have much of a choice do I?"
Jordana perched at the top of the fence as a bird, and then changed back into a human.
"I'll help you." She said.
Grabbing my hand, she pulled me up onto the wall as Wolf knelt and made a cradle with his hands to boost me further. When I was safely atop, Wolf jumped and caught the edge with his fingers and used his feet to lever himself up as best he could. With much grunting and groaning, he finally hauled himself up, and dropped to the ground below. He then held his arms out signaling for me to jump and he would catch me.
When all three of us were safely on the ground we dashed towards the docks wee we could see that dad had already started up the engine and all we had to do was cast off. The young fisherman greeted us at the dock.
"I've remembered what it was I was supposed to tell you!" he exclaimed.
"That's great." Wolf growled as he hastily unwound the mooring lines from the dock. "But we're a bit busy at the moment."
"Yes, but this is important." He insisted. "Today is the founding festival day! If you're not wearing the right colour and more importantly if you're wearing the wrong colour, a flash-mob will be formed and you'll be put to death."
"And you forgot that minor little detail?" Wolf cried, in frustration.
"Oh aye, I forget minor details like that all the time… I must confess I'm not actually guarding the docks from anything; the people in town don't like me so much because of my awful memory… I've been hanging around the boats hoping that someone would take me with them on the river, somewhere I could useful. You don't think you could take me with you, do you?"
By this time the mob had found us at the docks and was quickly closing the distance.
"Well, do you think I could come?" The fisherman asked.
Wolf had finished untying the boat and snapped:
"If you can get on the boat in the next three seconds you can come."
"Oh, you won't regret it, my friend! You won't regret it!" the man cried happily, clambering onto the boat.
"Actually, I think I might." Wolf sighed.
"What's he doing here?" Dad asked when the two men appeared at the back of the boat.
"I'll explain later, just go!"
With that Dad opened the motor up to full speed and Wolf shoved as much wood into the furnace as he could. The fisherman was standing on the prow of the ship shouting taunts at the mob on shore, he nearly tripped over the side as the river's current made us rock. Jordana and I stayed low in the cockpit where Dad steered us out into the fast currents.
Apparently whatever religious fervor the town felt did not extend to chasing heathens downriver when there was a perfectly good festival to get back to, because eventually only the emerald garbed priest was left on the riverbank, shouting curses at us as we drifted further and further away.
When the coast was clear, Dad shut down the engine and let us drift as we decided what to do next.
"Moonrise is in a few hours." Wolf said, anxiously, "I need to get off the boat."
"Right, fisher-er… what is your name?" Dad asked the newest member of our group.
"Finn Stevenson." The man replied.
"Right, Finn, any idea where the nearest town is?"
Finn looked very pleased to be of help to us. "Oh sure enough, Silvermont is a few hours away by boat."
"Silvermont, isn't that the rival town of the crazy people back there?" I asked.
"Sure enough, but as long as it's not festival day there shouldn't be any problem."
"And is it festival day?" Wolf asked.
"Wouldn't rightly know, would I? I've lived in Silverton all me life."
"Should we chance it?" I asked.
"We don't have much choice, we need supplies." Dad replied. "We can let Wolf off here and you can meet us in Silvermont tomorrow after you've got all… that Wolf stuff out of your system."
Wolf nodded, relieved at the prospect of getting off the river and into the woods by nightfall.
"We'll continue into Silvermont, stay in an inn for the night, and regroup in the morning. Plan?"
We all agreed and Dad steered ashore to let Wolf off into the woods, and to gather a bit of firewood for the engine, just enough to get us to town.
"You sure you'll be alright?" I asked Wolf for the fourth or fifth time.
"Yes, Virginia." Wolf seemed amused by my concern. "I'd done this hundreds of times before I met you!"
"I know but, we've been away for so long…"
Wolf clasped my hands in his and brought them to his lips.
"I'm not the one I'm worried about." He confessed, and his eyes flashed gold.
"I'll see you tomorrow." He said, pulling away.
"You're sure you can find us?"
"Virginia, I could follow your scent across time itself!" he declared grandly, repeating a phrase from so long ago, and then with a scratch of his head, he disappeared into the woods eager to be away.
We cast off again soon after, and it wasn't long before we reached Silvermont. (It wasn't festival day.) We found a cozy looking inn to check into for the night. Jordana and I were given a large room with a comfy looking bed and a copper tub in the corner. Finn and Dad were given the room across the hall.
After supper and taking turns in the bath, Jordana and I changed into the nightgowns lent to us by the kind woman who ran the inn, and started to get ready for bed.
"So you and Wolf have reconciled?" Jordana asked, shyly.
I looked away from the window through which I had been staring absently.
"It's just… you seemed less tense around each other today. Well, except for Wolf's… condition. So I was wondering if you two had made up. Not that it's any of my business." She added quickly.
"No, it's alright." I said. "Yes, we have. I don't know how I could have thought he'd betray me."
"Well… you have been hurt before, yes?" Jordana asked, thoughtfully.
"Well, yes, but I should have known that with Wolf it was impossible."
Jordana shrugged. "Old habits die hard. It does not mean you don't trust him. It's just that you are so used to a certain kind of treatment that it's hard for you not to think like that. I am sure Wolf understands."
I smiled at her, and mulled over what she had said before something occurred to me.
"You've seemed sad today." I said. "Is something wrong?"
Jordanna looked startled, and shrugged. "It's Wendell's birthday, I miss him, I suppose."
I studied the look on her face.
"You're in love with him, aren't you?"
She really looked startled this time.
"Of course not!" She gasped. "Who told you that?"
I laughed. "Don't worry, you're secret's safe with me, but no one told me, it's plain to see on your face when you think about him."
Jordana groaned and folded over, planting her face in the quilt on her bed.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"He's a king!" she stated, as if it explained everything.
"And?" I prompted.
"And I'm… well, no one knows what I am. I was found by the court jester, and then bought off of him by Snow White. So that would make me a slave in some places. But then she freed me, so I'm a peasant. But I grew up at court as Wendell's playmate, so I am a courtier, without noble birth… I am not a suitable match for a king, no matter which way you look at it…"
"Well, first of all who's to say you're not noble? Like you said yourself, no one knows! Second, you live in the lands of Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty!"
"Sleeping Beauty, you know, pricked her finger on a spinning wheel; fell into a hundred-year coma?"
Jordana still looked confused.
"It's not important; the point is you live in a land where commoners become queens every day! Does Wendell love you?"
Jordana looked uncomfortable.
"I'm not sure…" she admitted, "Sometimes I thought he might, but… he's a king and doesn't have much free time anymore."
"But when he does?" I prompted.
Jordana shrugged. "He makes time for me, I suppose. We will go for walks in the garden, or riding. He asks for my opinion in council meetings on affairs of state, and on whether or not his stockings match." Jordana laughed.
"See! He cares about what you think! And he makes an effort to see you when he could be doing something else! He must care about you."
Jordana blushed. "Maybe."
I hugged her reassuringly. "When we get him back you should ask him about it. That way if he says yes, you finally have an answer."
"And if he says no?"
"Then you can move on with your life, and never trouble yourself with Wendell again!"
Jordana sighed. "Let's just get him back first…"
A/N: Right, thanks for reading, please review, reviews are cookies!