The door slammed shut behind the monarchs, the resounding thunk echoing inside the large hall. Having plunged the inside rooms into silence, the door now seemed content to stay as it was, symbolizing, in its own way, the still-there divide among the Freehold.

"That went well." Daniel pushed himself off the bench he'd been sitting on. Now that the monarchs had left, the actual personality was pushing through, even to the point of making the Summer Court smile. "Don't you think? Let those punks know their place."

"The point wasn't to 'put them in their places,' it was to keep you from losing your head!"

Daniel stopped and looked at the woman across from him. "What?"

"Did ye forget that? Or were you just certain that Lord Notch would never actually hurt anyone? Because, lad, he's not that stable." Big enough to be a brute, Hydra knew Daniel wasn't actually stupid. "Why would ye risk his wrath that way?"

"Because this is my home, and it's my family, and he doesn't know what he's talking about." The smile had faded know, a frown moving to take it's place. "You knew I wasn't going to just let him take what he wanted. You said you'd help!"

"Aye, I did, and I meant it. But ye nearly came to blows, and ye can't strike a monarch; least not without one on yer side." Hydra closed the few feet between them, placing a hand carefully on Daniel's lower arm. "Daniel, ye can't protect them if yer in jail. Whatever Lord Notch was looking for, whatever he wanted, I can't say for sure. But I know he came looking for a fight, any reason to get rid of you all."

"And I walked right into it."

"Yer reasons were far more honorable. But yes, ye walked into it."

Daniel sighed and sat back down, looking winded once more. "I'm not sorry," came the stubborn response a few minutes later.

"I didna think so."

Hydra looked over at the door to Rose's current room. If she listened hard, she could hear gentle rustling, as though Rose were moving about inside. But the screams and cries had stopped, as had the fevered behavior that made her rip the wall. It would be outright idiotic to believe Daniel wouldn't go after whoever had caused that, with more ferocity then Notch's interest in the death of a mortal. The monarch only cared because he knew a Changeling was involved.

Yet if the killer turned out to be this Tyler fellow? What would Daniel do then?

"I really did have a sister. I didn't make that up just for sympathy."

Hydra jerked her attention back to the man beside her. "Did I look like I doubted you?"

"No…but I wanted to make sure. Notch wasn't convinced, I don't think."

Smiling, Hydra carded her fingers through the other's hair. "Lord Notch doesn't believe most people. He may be the Winter King, but he's as distrustful as any Fall. Tis why I dragged you off to see Lord Grinderban instead."

"He's different around Notch," complained Daniel. "They're pretty intimidating when they're on the same side."

"A bonus when that's your side, too. And while he agreed to listen fairly, you were still considered a possible threat. He did the best he could."

Sighing, Daniel leaned against Hydra's side, eyes staring blankly ahead. Even Rose in her room had stilled, perhaps finding a corner more suited to her liking, and bedded down for the night. Hydra bite back a sigh of her own as her fingers brushed the bandage on Daniel's head - no one needed anymore excitement that night.

"Tomorrow, I want you to go to the hospital. Ye need this checked out by someone with the skill and supplies to make sure yer alright."

At the mention of proper medical attention, the frown started to grow again and the Summer pulled away. Hydra squashed one of her own.

"No, I'm fine. Besides, Notch would probably have an aneurism if we did anything else with humans for a while."

"And if it scars? Of you lose an eye?"

"The other guy'll think twice before starting a fight."


"No, I've got this." Anger lanced threw the other Lost's voice, the visible part of Daniel's face scowling at her. "We're not done yet. Notch and his inquisition, Rose and her distress, neither's going to cost us our home."

"I said nothin' about yer home, lad. Ye need a doctor."

"No!" Standing, Daniel stormed forward. "I'm fine, just f-"

The slap echoed in the large hall. Daniel blinked, eye wide. Keeping her gaze steady, Hydra slowly lowered her hand. Daniel didn't need any more abuse today, but there was a line, and he was getting dangerously close to crossing it.

"I ken ye think scars are nice, but not if they get infected or cost ye that eye. Besides, ye don't need them - yer scary enough with a clean face." Gaze dropping to the side, she added quietly. "And they certainly aren't what makes ye the best lookin' lad this side of the pond."

The two stood for a moment, the dreary walls dampening the mood. Finally, a hand hers and squeezed back, just a little.

"Fine. We can go find a doctor."

Nodding, Hydra pulled her friend in for a hug. "It's really not so bad. I'm sure ye'll still be able to brag about what the other guy musta look like."

"I hope so." Daniel winced again, finger tugging at the bandage. "Did you really have to let the old man work on my face?'

"He knew what he was doing better than I."

"Yeah, but I think he was having fun hurting me."

"Don't be a pansy, Daniel. Lord Grinderban was just cleaning the wound."


Pulling back, Hydra cuffed him on the shoulder. "But that's for tomorrow morning, when thing's don't seem so bleak. Tonight, we need dinner for ye all and something to brighten up the place. Flowers, mayhap." Looking around, Hydra tried to keep her tone light. "Ye'd think someone had died in here, yer home is so dark."

"It has gotten a little out of hand."

Hydra turned to their observer. "That it has, Jeanette." The Spring moved out into the hall proper. "We're supposed to keep things cheerful, we Spring. This is no place for anyone to spend their time, and certainly not when they're trying to heal."

"I don't what we'd find this time of year, but someone must have flowers." Jeanette looked around the hall. "Maybe some paintings? Those could be pricy though."

"Make some yerselves. Did ye ne'er do paint when ye were young?"

The women looked at each other before grinning.

"Everyone would have to help," Jeanette said, casting a look at Daniel. "Boys too. Even Rose, if we work it right, though we can't keep anything in her room."

"On that note, maybe not make the room white? It's not very comforting, and it is a Winter color."

The two women smiled, pointedly ignoring Daniel's frown at the mention of the Winter King. Taking Daniel's hand once more, Hydra pulled him towards the front door.

"We'll fetch the supplies for dinner on the way back. See if ye can't get Logan in something festive - maybe yellow? Or dress him like a Christmas tree." A satisfying squawk came from around the corner. "He'd look grand covered in tiny lights."

Outside, Hydra fished the car keys out of her bag, letting go of Daniel's hand so he could get in the other side. Opening her own door, she stopped. Daniel did the same.

"I'm sorry. For…brining Lord Grinderban in the back. For King Notch being so stubborn. That I couldnae do more for Rose when they were here."

Daniel sighed, but some of the weight seemed lifted. "Notch is an ass. No two ways about that." Hydra grinned. "As for the back door, Notch is also a paranoid bastard, and it's really not that surprising. It's probably a good thing you went with the old man. The Hedge would have eaten him and then King Icy would have really wanted my head."

"Aye, he would."

"As for Rose," Daniel paused, looking down before glancing back at the Hollow. "That's more than some of us got. This dream walker, he's supposed to be good?" Hydra nodded. "Well then." Counting the conversation finished, Daniel dropped himself into the car. Hydra huffed a laugh before sliding into the driver's seat.

"I'm going to prove, to both sides, that ye needn't be so worried about all this. We can all trust each other, at least when things get messy."

Daniel grunted, but his mood stayed light as he started fiddling with the radio, flipping around until he found the Christmas station.

Pulling out of the driveway, Hydra smiled. There was something wrong with her friends, and something equally troubling about the monarchs. But things could only ever be solved one step at a time. Today, she'd deal with her friend's mood, try to cheer them up and get them to see the silver lining. Rose was never going to get better with everyone so depressed and frightened around her.

Tomorrow, she'd start digging. If there really was going to be trust, then any skeletons in the closet needed to be known. Little monsters under the bed could be annoying, but knowing what a person of capable of was one of the basic tenants of trusting them.

Surely no one in this Freehold would sell another. Daniel was getting worked up over nothing.

"Danny, are ye aware ye are completely tone-deaf?"

"I am not!"