"Your will is my life. Take what you need."

Orian nodded and Daemonar slowly rose in front of her. His eyes raked over her body as he stood, finally locking onto her face with a decisively naughty smile. She felt the heat rush to her cheeks. Things had changed so much in the last few months, but Daemonar was still the little beast he'd always been. This time his look was hot instead of playful, but he was still being a tease anyway, making her think of later tonight rather than the Court she was forming at that moment.

Daemonar immediately stepped to her right, becoming part of Orian's triangle, and officially ending the formal creation of the Court. She'd filled her First Circles of females and males easily, starting with Donovan's wife and the village Queens that would answer to her and ending with Darkguide and Blackfoot, a kindred wolf Priestess who was descended from Tassel and wanted to keep an eye out on Daemonar. Her mate, Lord Oak, was also part of Orian's First Circle. The humans were a little uncomfortable with the kindred, but they were making an effort to include the kindred, and that was the first steps towards the kindred being accepted as equals in Little Terreille.

Orian smiled out onto the crowd gathered in front of the platform. Latten stood behind her after accepting the Steward's ring. Donovan stood to one side and Daemonar on the other, completing the triangle. The males of the First Circle stood to the right, and the Ladies to the left. Orian stepped in front and used both arms to gesture to the people that flanked her. "The Court is formed," she announced regally.

The crowd, consisting of most of Rolla, plus a good number of people from the other villages in the District began to cheer. The people in the aristo boxes stood as well, cheering and clapping. Orian knew some of it was from the celebrating that had begun two days ago when she arrived in town and Theresa formally stepped down as Queen so that Orian could take her place, and some of it was the genuine pleasure of having a new Queen. A strong Queen, she thought. So many people wanted a strong Queen to help protect them. A dark-Jeweled Queen that knew her Protocol and would live by it.

And she was now a dark-Jeweled Queen. She had made her Offering two weeks after the attack. She had planned to wait for a little while longer, but after the attack, she wanted the extra power and strength of an Offering Jewel. Nobody was going to argue with her over a matter of weeks, so she had made her Offering and come out of it with an uncut Opal Jewel. She'd been pleased to receive an Opal, but was too tired to realize what the others saw at once. It was a dark Opal. Blood could only descend three ranks, but the Opal could be light or dark. Normally, for a Rose-Jeweled Blood, if the Opal was received, it would be light. The High Lord had told her that she'd received a very, very rare gift. She'd asked how many times he'd seen it. He'd thought about it, and finally said he'd only known a small handful, maybe three or four people that it had happened to. As rare as the Black, she'd thought, touching her new Jewel. Now at her formal Court formation, that Opal Jewel hung around her neck in a pendant and sat on her finger in a ring that was a testament to all who were there that she was a dark-Jeweled Queen to be reckoned with.

And for all those who didn't see her as a problem, Daemonar may have lost a lot of his potential strength, but his Ebon-gray ring was a reminder of who he came from and the backing that this Court had. Some might dismiss her. But nobody would dismiss the power behind her.

But today wasn't the day for veiled threats or warnings. It was a day of celebration. There was a party at the Queen's mansion that night, and every notable Blood family in the District, aristo and plebian, had been invited. Invitations to other people had gone out all over Little Terreille, including the members of the Dark Council. Orian's other guests were already on their way, including Daemonar's family and Tersa and her family. Orian couldn't help a bigger grin at the thought of the Dark Council meeting Daemon Sadi face to face. She wondered how many people would recognize Tersa as the future Queen of Ebon Askavi. And if she was going to have to kick Kirian out of her District on the first night she began to rule.

Daemonar stepped forward and took her hand, raising her arm in triumph. "Lady Orian, Queen of Rolla!" he bellowed at the crowd using Craft so that everyone on the street could hear him. They immediately erupted into a louder roar of cheering for their young, vibrant queen. She'd already given her speeches to the town earlier when she'd accepted rule over the District, so he tucked her arm into his and escorted Orian off of the platform. The First Circle followed and they walked down the packed main road, accepted the well-wishes of the townspeople while flowers rained down from the rooftops and windows above.

Musicians formed a line in front of them and the line, followed by the townspeople turned into a joyful parade. The First Circle and Queen's guests would be allowed into the Queen's mansion while tents with food and drink were outside on one section of the grounds so that the people could continue their celebration. Inside, the court would rest for the afternoon and then enjoy a party that evening.

When everyone was in and the rest of the crowd being led away, Orian turned to her new court, pleased to see the beaming faces at her. She'd chosen her males carefully, only accepting the ones that belonged to her. The Dark Council wasn't happy that she'd refused so many of the males they had "suggested" she accept, but her First Circle belonged to her. Only one of the males they sent had been accepted into her First Circle, but several others would be placed in her Second and below Circles. That should be enough to placate the Dark Council, she thought, and if not, she would once more suggest the High Lord as her chief negotiator.

"Thank you all," Orian said to the assembled crowd. "I know it's been a long day. Please feel free to rest this afternoon. I will see you all at the party tonight."

Murmurs of "thank you Lady", and bows and curtseys as the formal lines broke up and the people began to mill about with each other. Servants discretely brought in refreshments for both the humans and kindred. Orian was pleased to see the humans making an effort to include the kindred into their conversations, and the kindred doing their best to be part of the human gathering. She smiled. There had been a lot of concern over a mixed court, but if this worked, maybe more kindred would be willing to call Little Terreille home, and more humans would welcome the kindred into their lands.

Before Orian could go and mingle with her court, Daemonar's arm tightened on hers and he moved them into the first empty room off the nearest hallway. She started to protest on why they were in a linen closet, but before she could say anything, he slapped an Ebon-gray lock on the door and pulled her into a sizzling kiss. Orian thought about protesting for a moment, but instead melted against him as phantom hands began teasing under her skirt. Daemonar had seen her through her Virgin Night, and it had been wonderful in its own way. Not like the love stories said, but still sweet and loving. Things had gotten better the more they were together, and she had to admit that Daemonar could be wonderfully creative when properly motivated. Like now when she could be wrapped up in his arms and still feeling him doing delightful things under her clothes.

"Daemonar," she gasped, trying to wiggle away while she still could. "We have guests. Someone could hear..." her words trailed off as a phantom mouth began playing with her as well as the hands.

"That's what aural shields are for," Daemonar replied and resumed kissing her neck. He was trying to fight back a grin. He'd asked Uncle Daemon how he could be better in bed, and Daemon taught him how to create and use a phantom touch. Orian hadn't specifically said anything, but her response had made it clear she liked his new skill.

Orian pushed against his chest to get some leverage. "Open the door, Prince," she said firmly, if not a little breathlessly.

Daemonar reluctantly let her go and opened the door. She stepped out into the hall and glanced over her shoulder at him, a playful grin that he remembered from so many childhood games on her lips. "Race you to the bedroom," she said, and vanishing her high-heeled shoes, took off at a dead run. Daemonar stood there for a moment, and then chased after her, laughing as they ran through the halls into the Queen's suite. She had shut the door, but he passed through it easily, catching her in the sitting room as they tumbled onto a couch. Both were still laughing, still out of breath, still kissing and touching until Daemonar scooped Orian up and carried her into the bedroom, lightly tossing her onto the bed and then falling in beside her.

Orian reached up, wrapping her arms around Daemonar's neck. "I thought we were going to rest after the ceremony," she said teasingly.

He grinned, his hand running over her body. "We will. Just need to get worn out first."

She laughed and Daemonar marveled again that she was his. He had never thought about life without her, and now that they were formally together, he couldn't imagine ever living without her again. Mine, he thought, making things inside him tighten with desire. He leaned over and kissed her with all of the passion and desire he felt for her, wanting to brand her with his claim, and even more importantly, let her know that she had a forever claim on him as well. Still best friends, although the days of shoving mud down shirts or yanking down pants were now over, but more now.

Friends.

Lovers.

Queen and Consort.

For two people who had known each other forever, it didn't take much to move from one to the next. Sometimes only the smallest push was needed in order to see someone in a brand new light. And as Daemonar wrapped himself around Orian, he knew that sometimes, the smallest changes were the sweetest.

THE END

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Well, hello there! Told you the story would end eventually. Well, the story is over, but the tale isn't. There are a few more stories for this version of the BJT that I'd like to tell, but we'll see how that goes.

I would like to say thank you to everyone who read and enjoyed the story. I had originally thought it to be about 10 chapters or so long. But the more I like characters the more I want to see what they're going to do and stories tend to start getting long. And since I have a life in the real world, sometimes the long stories can take a while to get written. But I appreciate everyone who has hung on with me and enjoyed reading. A big Thank You to everyone who has reviewed. It really gives me the encouragement to keep writing when I hear that people are enjoying the story.

It's funny. Writing this started as something to do to keep myself from counting the hours to the next Lortab after I had surgery because I was in a lot of pain and writing helped to distract me. But I really got caught up in the world I was building on AB's marvelous framework. I've been thinking a lot about some original story ideas that I've had and maybe it's time to pull those files out of my archives and see where those roads will lead.

But in the meantime, I'm going to take a few weeks off and then my next story here is going to jump back in time to about two years after the Great Purge (we're going to get to see Daemonar and Orian again, but they'll just barely be coming out of toddler stage) and center on Karla. Hope to see you guys there!

---Cat