Chapter Eleven Summary: Daniel is working harder than he should, but that is his way. The group has started to study the material that Artereos sent them. They have finished at the Temple, but now know that they must find other information before they can figure out where the little queens and symbiotes are hidden. Lantash and Martouf are doing much better, but Malek is still refusing both the cure for his nausea and to talk to or see Gwennetha. His irrationality is beginning to worry Merdwin and Kataya. Merdwin has suspicions about Devlin's past, and thus his refusal to go against Malek, even though he doesn't share his feelings about Gwennetha and what has happened. He holds no grudge against her and is delighted at the thought of having children.
Amat Wyn – My love Lun’ak’mat – Furling Mating Cycle Mal’et’matk - Morning Sickness; In the Furling, the Morning Sickness is Shared by the Male, along with the Food Cravings, and Mood Swings. It also Affects Non-Furling Mates Coeurawyn - My Heart “Italics” – Symbiote-Host or Telepathic Communications
Martouf sat in the library with Sam, Jacob, Jocasta, Daniel, and Kataya, pouring over the tomes of information sent by Artereos. At least, they were attempting to. Unfortunately, although it was a great deal better, Lantash and Martouf still found themselves feeling quite ill on and off all day long. They had learned in the past week to keep the tea with them and to sip it constantly. While the carafe sat at their elbow, the cup was usually found in their hands, if not at their lips. Martouf claimed that he had become very fond of it, if for no other reason, than that it allowed him to leave their bedroom.
Once he came to terms with what happened and all of his memories returned, Martouf turned into the proverbial doting father-to-be. If he was not offering Sam food or drink, or querying her health and physical symptoms, or lack of them, then he was plying her with shawl-like garments that he had borrowed from Val, cushions, and footstools. Books were suddenly too heavy for her to lift, and the All forbid that she even look at a ladder or attempt to walk up a staircase by herself.
He was, quite frankly, driving Sam crazy and she had taken to hiding from him, whenever possible, by walking in the gardens or whisking herself to the temple. It had only taken him a day or so to find her hiding places, of course. She had suffered, with admirable patience, the scolding about her precious cargo and how she should never walk alone, but should be sure someone was along in case something (the All, and any other deities listening, forbid this, also) happened to her.
She had to be careful now; she was walking, eating, drinking, sleeping, and breathing for three. It was only two kits, was it not? She had been tempted to tease him and tell him no, she was actually having a litter because they had been so, um, active that night. That Kataya had said there would be six, but seeing his honestly anxious gaze on her, pleading with his eyes, she had relented and assured him that so far, all they had detected were the more common two.
She did not tell him that Kataya had used the ribbon for a very long time, been thorough, and in the end, told her it was simply too soon to tell. There might be more, but only time would tell. Give it another week or so.
They were just grateful that they were not responsible for carrying such precious cargo around. They were amazed that Samantha could be so calm about it and look at them with such amusement when they mentioned it.
As Martouf came to the conclusion that it was real, that there was indeed a little Samantha and a little Martouf/Lantash growing inside of her, she had to sit through an entire evening of him staring at her stomach. Then she lived through his inability to, ah, perform, until Lantash had taken over and allowed the blood to go where it was needed.
She had assured him that he would not hurt them; they were very well cocooned and protected. Lantash had finally sat him down the next day and given him a very detailed lecture on what exactly was happening. As if he didn’t know, he had continued, chiding him. He told him to use his brains; he was not stupid.
Martouf had informed him that the headaches Lantash subjected him to resulted in him having a loss of memory. Then, he had sheepishly admitted that, well, yes, he had known all of that on an intellectual level, but when he looked at their Samantha, and then realized what was nestled there, so close to where they, well, you know, it had scared him and all his scientific knowledge had been wiped away. When they finished their domestic spat, Sam had once again escaped, and managed to avoid them for almost three quarters of an hour. Kataya assured her that they would get over it. Eventually. In a few months. Maybe.
What is more, their Samantha was indeed glowing. She grew more beautiful each day, and Martouf was thankful he had “gotten his head outta his butt,” as Jacob had bluntly told him, when he and Lantash had finally been able to leave their room and the proximity to the facilities for any length of time.
The facilities were farther away in the lower rooms of the dwelling, but they were not so violently ill now that they could not make it there, if the need arose. As long as they remembered to sip, they were very much better. In fact, although they did not realize it, they were going longer and longer between bouts of severe nausea as two things took place.
According to Kataya, their own bodies were beginning to become more adept at controlling the wild fluctuations of the hormones and, in reality, as time went by; their bodies lost very small amounts of them. It would take two full months for their bodies to completely assimilate them and learn to manage them, but it was already slowly beginning to do so. Eventually, of course, they would dissipate entirely.
Now, though, he and Lantash would have something besides their pregnancy and Samantha about which to worry. As they all sat in the library, working on the translations and going over the tomes of information, scrolls, dictionaries, and videotapes of the temple walls, they had suddenly emerged from their soon-to-be-new-father haze and realized that neither Malek and Dev, nor Gwennetha, had been in any of their conferences.
They had not gone to the temple with them and they were not helping in sorting through the mounds of material they had gathered, nor had they attended a meal in days. In fact, they had not seen them since the night that they all became pregnant. They could think of it no other way. Between sharing the illness, the moodiness, the emotional storms, and the food cravings, they felt as if they, too, were pregnant.
So the question in their mind was what was wrong with Gwennetha, Malek, and Dev? Were they not yet well enough to come downstairs? Their question was greeted by silence and sideways glances at one another by the people in the room.
“What is wrong with Gwennetha? Did something go wrong?” Lantash demanded. If his friend was suffering because Gwennetha was ill, he should be sharing that with him, not ignoring him.
Finally, Kataya said, tightly, “There is nothing wrong with Gwennetha or her kits, Lantash. She is fine.”
“Then are Devlin and Malek not responding well to the tea? Is she sitting with them? And where is Merdwin most of the time?” He wanted to know. He did not like the silence that had sprung up in this room. His voice quiet, he said firmly, “You are all keeping something from me about Gwennetha or Malek and Devlin. If it concerns Gwennetha, it concerns Malek and Dev, and vice versa. I believe I have a right to know what is transpiring.”
Seeing the continued tightening of Kataya’s normally soft and warm features, he felt a chill.
“Very well, Lantash. Malek will not drink the tea in order to help himself and Devlin, nor will he talk to Gwennetha. He is still wishing to take his life, and Merdwin has been staying with him, or we lock his room at all times. He has decided that he cannot forgive Gwennetha for not telling him about the Lun’ak’mat. Needless to say, in her condition, the added stress is making her Mal’et’matk worse, and she is only able to leave her room for a few hours a day, which she has been spending in the All or with her grandfather.”
“I will talk to him,” Lantash said firmly.
“You may do so if you wish, but it will do no good. Do you not think that we have not all talked to him? He feels he has failed Devlin by allowing Gwennetha to harm him, and he finds that unacceptable. Add to that the wound to his pride, and his feelings that Gwennetha took advantage of them and deliberately harmed them, and there is little to say to him. In his mind, she deliberately deceived him, Lantash, and he may never be able to get beyond that. You know how both Malek and Devlin feel about honesty. To have their mate betray them in this way may well be an unforgivable transgression. Devlin is saying nothing, so we do not know how he feels, but he must agree with Malek, or he would make his feelings known.”
Lantash was stunned, but not truly surprised. Malek could be very stubborn if he got an idea firmly fixed in his head, and both he and Devlin were very honest. Nevertheless, this was not even rational behavior. “Kataya, could the hormones and chemicals be affecting Malek’s ability to think logically? Because this sounds almost irrational, and while Malek can be incredibly stubborn, he is never irrational,” he said quietly.
He watched as Kataya’s eyes narrowed in thought. After staring at him, while the rest of the room waited in suspense for her comment, she finally stated, “It is possible, I suppose. No doubt his emotions are swinging wildly.”
She frowned as the implications really sank in, “If he is responding on a purely emotional level, and also fighting those same emotional responses, he is probably having difficulty thinking clearly. All we can do is wait to see if the emotional turmoil will abate and allow him to think more rationally as the hormones become more controlled by his body.”
“Unfortunately, his fighting and refusing to accept any of this is only delaying their body’s ability to adjust. And his refusal to drink the tea is not helping, as his body has to cope with the physical ramifications constantly as well.” She sighed in discouragement. “All we can do is monitor the situation and see what happens.” And, hope that he does not, either deliberately or inadvertently, petition the All in his emotionally unstable state, she added to herself. Her fear of that was growing as the days passed by, for it could have far- reaching and disastrous consequences. They were doing all that they could do for now.
Turning back to Daniel, she said, “Have you found nothing yet, Amat Wyn? Surely, in all these tomes there must be some information. We must find it.”
Daniel leaned back in his chair, throwing his head back and then twisting it from side to side. He moaned as Kataya came up behind him and began to rub his neck. “That feels really good, Kataya. I feel like my neck is made of steel cords, not muscle, and flesh.”
Shortly after he sighed in relief and returned to his former thoughts, saying, “I’m afraid that we’re going to have to start going through the Tok’Ra legends as well as the Furlings’. Unfortunately, this is even more time-consuming than I thought that it might be, and although we have all the information from the walls that we need, I really don’t want to take it back to the SGC. We can talk more freely here.”
“I just wish the information on the walls made more sense. However, everything there pointed to a need for other information. That leaves us with the Furling and Tok’Ra legends, songs, or poems, because by itself, the information on those walls mean nothing in particular. We should have suspected it would be this way. Egeria wouldn’t put all of the information there if just anyone could figure it out, and if we had been thinking clearly, we would have realized that Val would have known where they were if it was that easy.”
“I’m really glad Jack made the decision to return to Earth and act as if we’re taking an extended leave on Avilion because of the kits. No one expects us back, and it leaves us free to study this. With Jack, Teal'c, and Stevenson gone, it’ll help our cover story.”
“Now that word is back to the Tok’Ra that you, Sam, and Gwennetha have returned, and that’s why Artereos asked that they be sent on a need to know basis for a covert mission, so that the surprise wouldn’t be spoiled, it also leaves them here indefinitely. It is too bad that Brialek had to leave so that the Tok’Ra wouldn’t get suspicious, but he won’t say anything, and we do still have Jocasta and Merdwin. At least, we do when he’s not trying to see to it that Dev and Malek don’t do anything foolish.” Daniel sighed.
Looking up as Kataya finished relieving some of the tension in his neck he said, “I’m afraid it’s going to be up to you, Selmak, and Daur’rin, Lantash. I really don’t care if you use the memory recall device, or allow Kataya or Merdwin to access your memories, but we may have no choice but to begin to go through your legends and songs. We’re barely a third of the way through the information Artereos sent.”
“I have talked to Val, and she is doing her best to remember anything and everything pertaining to Egeria’s visit. She hasn’t had much success, though. Your legends and songs would probably be more useful. So, begin thinking about it. We’ll work on it this evening after our evening meal. You’ll need to go through the information that Merdwin brought us on the Tok’Ra. Once we finish that, then we can sift through any legends or songs you’ve managed to remember, and we’ll write them down. If we still have nothing, then we’ll go to the next step of the memory devices, or Merdwin and Kataya accessing your deep memories for you.”
“Wait a minute,” Sam sat up from where she’d been curled in an overstuffed chair, reading a legend. “Maybe it’s not just the Tok’Ra legends. At the time of Egeria, there were no Tok’Ra, at least, not as we think of them today.”
“What if the legends are Goa’uld? Their legends would have been around at that time. We know now that the writings on the wall are only half of the information. The only legends and songs at that time would have been Goa’uld.”
“We’ve been going on the assumption that she left certain legends and songs in her offspring, to guide them and that only they would know them. But, if that’s true, then the Goa’uld couldn’t have figured this out even if they came here and translated the walls. Only if the legends were part of their culture as well as the Tok’Ra would this information have been of any use to them at all.”
Daniel nodded slowly, “She’s right. There would have been no fear of the Goa’uld finding this if the information was only given to the Tok’Ra symbiotes. So,” he groaned, “that means we have to widen our search to include Goa’uld legends, songs, and poems.”
“Yes, I agree, but I also think that they would have been legends that she would have been sure her offspring knew and knew well, so we aren’t that much worse off. She would not have used obscure legends or anything else that would not have been given specifically to her children. So, we are still looking for knowledge that is inherent to the Tok’Ra. It will still be in their original memories that she passed on.” Selmak spoke up.
“You’re right, Selmak. So really, we are simply looking for stories that are fairly well- known, but not necessarily purely Tok’Ra,” Sam concluded.
“I believe that there may also be some of the more obscure legends involved. They may be Goa’uld or something that Egeria left specifically in their memory that appeared to be a legend. There are several combinations of sources that it could be, and we won’t know until we find them,” Daniel said, as he mulled over the conversation and its conclusions. Then he picked up the next batch of scrolls.
“For now though, since you seem to have almost finished that batch of scrolls, here’s the next batch. I’m afraid that they are in a slightly different dialect. Here are the translation materials that you will need. They will help you grasp enough of it that all you will need is to use them as a reference in order to translate that group. I’m pretty sure that I’ve got this stuff sorted as the language evolved, so you should only have to add several changes to what you already know.” Lantash and Selmak groaned as Jocasta picked up the books that they would need to learn the next set of script.
Sam continued reading the Furling legends that she was already on, and Kataya leaned down to give Daniel a kiss and reach for her next set of scrolls as well. Daniel was working himself into the ground over this. She would have to relieve his tension again this night. Her work was just never finished, but at least nightly tension relieving was one of the less onerous tasks. In fact, she thoroughly enjoyed it.
She became aware of Merdwin on the link, “Kataya, are you off by yourself or are you in plain view of the room?”
“I can remove myself to a chair away from the others. Is something the matter, Merdwin?” Her inquiry was quickly sent.
“I have decided to begin taking this situation with Dev and Malek into our hands. It has been a week; time enough, if Malek was going to come around. He has not, as we are all aware, but I do not believe that Devlin agrees with him. I have, while I have been here with them, felt some emotions from time to time, when Malek was asleep, that I believe I should follow up on. I may need your abilities as an adept empath, as I believe he is not telling us - or Malek - how he feels about this situation. I wish to discover why, and I believe that the subject could be a painful one.”
“I see. If you wish me to absorb his pain, then I must be farther away than on the other side of the room from the people here. I will retreat to Val’s sanctuary.”
“It may very well take quite some time to convince him of the need to do this, Kataya, if he will even agree at all. I believe he has memories of experiences that are extremely painful to him.” There was a pause before he said, softly, “I believe that we will find that Devlin is from Spartania, but perhaps was not a native of that planet. You are aware of what that would mean, as well as I am.”
Merdwin felt the shaft of pain that entered Kataya at the thought of what the young man would have been subjected to as a male member of that planet, native or not.
“I will go now and prepare in case you can convince him. It may not be possible, you know. Remember how hard it was to convince Lucent to let us help him,” she cautioned him, but also assured him that she would be ready if Devlin agreed.
“I am aware, Amat Wyn, but we must try, and the fact that we have dealt previously and successfully with a similar situation will, I hope, be an inducement to him,” Merdwin replied quietly, knowing, as she did, that what he was going to attempt could be difficult to achieve, but was worth trying.
“Of course. Contact me if he agrees. I will be ready,” She replied firmly, as she closed the link.
Turning to Daniel, she said, “I am going to go to the Sanctuary for a while, Coeurawyn. I believe I could use some time in meditation, if you do not mind.”
Daniel looked up from the parchment that he was studying as she spoke, but his gaze was unfocused. He nodded vaguely. Kataya left the room, amusement on her face and a smile on her lips. Daniel truly was the same as he had always been.
Devlin came slowly back to consciousness and as he did so, he realized that Malek was still sleeping. It was rare that this happened. Usually, as soon as Devlin awoke, Malek also roused, if he was even still asleep. The symbiote needed much less sleep than the human did, so it was not unusual for the symbiote to be doing things while the human slept.
It was harder the other way around. Normally, movement and thought roused them unless they were very tired or had just begun their sleep cycle. He realized that Merdwin was sitting and reading in a chair close by the bed. The man had been patience itself with them, and Devlin was grateful. He just hoped that Merdwin would, or could, agree to do as Devlin asked.
“Merdwin?” he called softly, trying not to awaken Malek.
Merdwin glanced up and smiled. “So you have finally decided to rejoin us, Dev. I am very glad. How are you feeling?”
“Not too bad at the moment.” He frowned, realizing that Malek had not stirred at all and that he was evidently very deeply asleep. “Merdwin, although I wished to speak to you, while Malek was asleep, I am somewhat concerned. He appears to be sleeping quite heavily. That is not normal.”
Merdwin nodded slightly. “Yes, I know. He is sleeping because I wished to speak to you without him awake. Although I do not normally believe in doing things in such an underhanded way, in this case, I felt it was necessary. You see, I believe that you are not making your wishes known to him, and I am wondering why.”
Devlin flushed as he stared at his father-in-law. He had never thought, after his previous experience with that particular kind of in-law, that he would ever willingly take another. Merdwin had been everything his previous father-in-law was not. Wise, gentle, good, and caring. How he hated hurting this man and his daughter. The daughter he loved so much that he felt as if his heart was breaking in two.
However, his loyalty must be to Malek first, for Malek had saved him in more ways than he would ever know, and he owed him more than he could ever repay. If it meant repudiating his mate, then so be it. He would never love another woman, but he would not have betrayed the other mate of his soul, for surely that is what Malek was.
He looked at Merdwin, despair in his eyes. He could not tell him the truth of it. He had never even let Malek see those things for he was more ashamed of them than of anything in his entire life. He covered it well with his general happy outlook and ability to find humor in most things. It was an attitude that kept people from delving to deeply into his past. Just barely thinking about it made him shudder and tremble in fear and loathing.
He realized that Merdwin was telling him that if they talked, Malek would not awaken in the middle of their conversation. No doubt, he had put him farther into slumber than he had Devlin. He was grateful, for he wanted - no, needed - to talk to Gwennetha, something he could not do while Malek was awake.
“I believe you need to tell me what it is that keeps you from telling Malek your true feelings in this, Dev. For the truth is, you are lying to him and to us, if you say that you no longer love Gwennetha and cannot forgive her. I, for one, do not believe that.”
“You are correct, Merdwin, and I am well aware that I am lying to Malek. Or rather, I would be, if he had asked my opinion. However, he has not asked how I feel, and for that I am grateful, for I do not wish to try to lie to him. The fact that he has not asked my opinion tells me, in and of itself, that he is extremely upset.”
“He is not thinking clearly, I am afraid. His emotions are tearing at him constantly. The love and loyalty he feels for me and what he perceives as his failure to protect me, are warring with the eternal love he has for Gwennetha. He does love her, unfortunately at the moment, he has convinced himself that he does not love her anymore. He is lying to himself, Merdwin, I do assure you, but his mental state is so very fragile right now that I am afraid of what will happen to him if I try to so much as attempt to reason with him. This is the first and only time I have ever known Malek to be unable to reason. It is somewhat frightening to me, for I have never seen him act this way.”
“He is completely enraged; I do not believe it is only with Gwennetha. He is furious with himself for his failure to protect me, as well as his complete loss of control without his consent. Had he been aware all along that it could happen, what would happen when it finally occurred, and why it would happen, I do not believe he would be so very infuriated.”
“He refuses to think logically about the incident at all, and the one time that his mind began to work in that direction, he deliberately pulled it away from there. I have seen Malek in many stages of ire. Irritation, anger, rage, fury. Never have I seen him this enraged, so almost out of control and totally irrational. Never. I have no idea how to even begin to deal with it, and I do not believe that I should even try yet.” Devlin sighed before whispering softly, “I believe the depth of his anger is frightening even him.”
Merdwin agreed, saying, “You do not have to explain his thought processes to me, Dev, I understand exactly what he is feeling. In his eyes, he has failed you, and he has failed himself. The hormones intensify the emotional turmoil; he has no control over them, and does not even realize that he is being irrational. Add to that his belief that Gwennetha deliberately lied to him, and you have a Tok’Ra who feels completely out of control, as if his entire world has collapsed on him and he is not sure how to find the way out.”
“Not only that, he is afraid he may never find the way out. It is why he is refusing the tea. It is a small way that he can control what is happening to him. He has lost control of his body and yours. He is being kept caged, in his mind, by us not allowing him access to a way to end his life. He is unable to leave these rooms for fear of being away from the facilities, and the one person that he would have sworn would never harm or betray him, other than you, has deceived him.”
“I can fully understand his fear, Devlin, for there are few thinking creatures who are not completely appalled when they face the depths to which their own anger and need for control can take them. It is why we use civilized behavior to control our baser instincts. Lun’ak’mat takes the veneer of civilization away, and if you are not prepared for it, and sometimes, even if you are, it can take you by surprise, and leave you gasping for breath. Oh, yes, I understand Malek quite well.”
“What I am not so sure of is what you are hiding, from both Gwennetha,” he paused, as he looked intently at Dev, “And Malek. It is something that disturbs you greatly. I believe you should tell me what it is.”
He watched as Devlin’s eyes widened in horror and then closed in anguish. “I cannot, Merdwin. I am sorry, but I cannot share those memories with anyone. Not even Malek.”
Merdwin sighed, and then said, “Devlin, do you love my daughter? Did you mean the vows that you made to her?”
His voice anguished, Devlin replied, “Yes, but I cannot betray Malek, either. He has first claim to my loyalty because of …” he stopped speaking, again shuddering as the memories came unbidden to mind. “I just cannot ever allow him to know, not now, not ever. Please do not ask me to, Merdwin, for I cannot and will not speak of them.”
“Very well, we will not speak of them, then.” Merdwin sat quietly for a few moments, thinking, as he watched the man on the bed and absorbed the fear and loathing that he was sending outward from him. Devlin had been a victim of a violent act of some sort; that much was obvious. Merdwin suspected that he knew what it was, as he had told Kataya, and the very thought sickened him. If his suppositions were in fact true, it had been an ongoing situation, not a one-time trauma. His eyes narrowed.
Relaxing in his chair, he poured some tea for Dev and said, “It is quite safe to sit up, for Malek will not awaken until I allow it. He is exhausted and needs the extra rest. Here is some of the tea. Sip it very slowly, in very small amounts, at first. What Malek does not know will not hurt him, and if you do not start to drink it soon, you will be ill again.”
Dev took the tea and sipped it cautiously. He remembered the one taste of it that they had taken before Malek had declared that they were attempting to poison them, and he would not drink anything so disgusting. It had been fairly vile; however, it did not seem so bad now. He looked at Merdwin, a brow raised in question.
“Malek attempted to drink it rather than sip it. If sipped, one does not get the entire flavor, and you soon become used to it. I cannot say that it ever becomes something you would crave, but it does become quite palatable.” Merdwin continued to talk lightly about this and that. Dev sat up and relaxed against the headboard of the bed, enjoying the sensation of simply sitting and doing nothing, not even really thinking as they simply chatted in a desultory way. He felt better and knew he must ask to speak to Gwennetha soon. He needed to assure her that although they would not be together, he would always love her. He had to explain his loyalty to Malek and try to make her understand how very deeply he was hurting over this. He wanted her, wanted their children, but he could not and would not be disloyal to Malek. He sighed and closed his eyes tiredly.
“Did you blend with Malek during the destruction of Spartania or afterward?” Merdwin asked casually.
“During.” His mind occupied, Devlin answered before he realized what had been asked. He froze, and his eyes popped open to look into Merdwin’s, his own stricken. “How did you know?” He whispered, brokenly.
“Malek mentioned Spartania once when we were talking. I had the impression that he knew little of their society; he had simply unintentionally become involved in a Goa’uld invasion there. He told me you managed to escape because his host was injured and dying, and by blending with you, it allowed him to move about and not to be known by his face.”
“He has never become aware of that planet’s, ah, societal customs that hinged around mating and the ownership and use of the daughter’s mate by the father-in-law.”
“Your reaction to my questions and the emotions you threw out were enough to allow me to extrapolate your former position in that society. Your attitude, and your loyalty to Malek for saving you, seemed very intense, as if it was a personal as well as a general thankfulness. Removing you from a Goa’uld world would have engendered loyalty, but not this rabid refusal to go against his wishes in this important matter.”
“Devlin, I believe I need to know exactly what happened to you. We can access those memories and we can negate some or all of the pain of them for you. It is a simple process. You are not the first male we have encountered that has escaped from there, and we have been able to help in the past. I do not believe that you ever wish to forget completely, though. I think you wish to always remember what it was like, so that you will always feel grateful for what you now have with Malek.”
“We have a way that we can leave the memories, but remove and then block any remaining pain of them. You will be able to access them, review them, and even feel some of the emotions that are associated with them, but not the soul-searing pain of those emotions. In this way, you will never forget, and you will always retain the feelings of love, gratitude, and extreme loyalty that you feel for Malek. For those are the emotions that you wish to retain, do you not? Those feelings are why you have not buried those memories even more deeply than you have, are they not?”
Devlin looked at him as he weighed what he had said. “But, if you go in, then I will have to relive them, and I do not wish to do that, ever.”
“No, not if I take Kataya with me. She is an adept empath, Devlin, capable of channeling intense pain, be it physical or mental. She will not allow them to touch your conscious mind. We will leave them buried, and Kataya will absorb some of the emotional pain connected to them…make them, perhaps, a little more bearable. If you allow us several sessions, we may be able to remove most of the pain or if not, at least, the majority of it. I am sorry that we cannot do it in one session, but I will not allow Kataya to be so overwhelmed, as she would no doubt be. My choice, not hers, Dev, for she will ache to take it all from you at once. That is her way. Mine is slower, perhaps, but less stressful on her.”
Dev looked at him with hope for a few moments, before shaking his head sadly. “I can’t allow that, Merdwin. Then you and Kataya would despise me for my weakness as much as Malek would if he knew.”
“As I mentioned, we have helped others from there, Devlin. One in particular had been terribly abused, but he had no way to stop what happened to him. Under law, his father- in-law owned and could use him, in that way, any time he wished. I do not and did not despise him and I will feel no differently with you; that I can promise you.”
“I very much doubt that you could have avoided what happened to you or done anything about it once it did. My guess is that you were fairly young when it started. All of that is irrelevant; we simply wish to help you overcome the pain, for we cannot change the past.”
Devlin sat quietly, eyes closed, feeling a stinging sensation. Another gift from Gwennetha that Malek was fighting with everything he had. His poor, beloved Malek was so exhausted from fighting all the feelings and emotions that it was all he could do to survive, let alone work through any of this. Dev considered what Merdwin was offering him. He would give him relief from the fear that something would trigger the pain and he would not be able to hide it from Malek.
Opening haunted eyes, he asked firmly, “I would not relive any of it? You promise me that?”
“I promise, Dev. Just as I swear to you that neither Kataya nor myself will ever feel anything but the great regard that we already feel for you. This is not something you could have stopped.”
As Devlin looked at Merdwin with hope and disbelief warring in his features, Merdwin said softly, “We have lived and seen much in our many millennia, Devlin. Do not forget that we have much experience of the evils in this universe, and it is our destiny to fight those evils wherever we find them. Have not recent events proven that to be true? We will think no less of you because of this; it is not our way.”
“Because of what you saw in his mind?”
“Yes, partly, but even without our prior knowledge of him, our feelings for you would not change.” Merdwin paused frowning slightly before continuing, “Dev, Kataya and I have a great deal of affection for you, and believe it or not, for Malek. We wish to lose neither of you, not only because it will hurt our daughter, but because you have become our sons.”
“And, I believe you owe this to Gwennetha. She has a right to know that there is a reason you are not forgiving her. I may not be able to tell her that reason, but I can at least assure her there truly is one. If her mother and I can assure her of that, perhaps she will not feel so guilty. She is suffering, too; do not forget. And knowing there is a valid reason and that her mother helped you will help her.”
“I realize this information is irrelevant at the moment, but you should know that Gwennetha shares her mother’s gift of empathy. She is an Enchantress of Nature’s Forces, also, in the manner of her mother and grandmother before her. She would understand what it meant when we explained that it was bad enough that Kataya entered your mind to relieve the pain. Knowing how and when it is used, she would understand that it is not a minor thing that is causing you to renounce her, but a major event and driving force within your life.”
Devlin sat deep in thought. He had never wanted to share his memories of his life before Malek with anyone. However, Merdwin offered him something that he had not had in a very long time. Peace and a lessening of the fear that somehow Malek would learn of them. He would do almost anything to assure that Malek would never learn of it, and therefore, never lose his regard for him.
It had been a close call the morning they had awakened with Merdwin. Luckily, Dev had realized they had none of the telltale signs that would have told him that Merdwin had used them in that way and Malek had been too panicked at his own lack of recall to notice Dev’s momentary, but debilitating fear.
His own realization of what had not taken place had allowed him to calm Malek’s fears. He smiled wryly to himself, as he realized that Malek had no idea why he had been so repulsed and horrified, but Dev was sure that his own emotions had bled over into Malek's without him realizing they were not his.
Looking at Merdwin as he sat calmly at ease, Devlin again felt thankful that his second father-in-law was this being. Yes, there was a savage, pagan side to the Furling, but he could live with that, knowing that they would never intentionally hurt him. What Gwennetha had done had not really been anything that she could have stopped. He believed them in that statement, for she would not have hurt them if she could have stopped it. Not without their prior consent. The fact that she had to inflict the wounds to conceive was part of her and her heritage; she had not done it simply to hurt him.
Nor did she deliberately not tell them of the Lun’ak’mat. It had simply not crossed her mind that she needed to explain. You do not explain a fact of life. Unfortunately, until that night, it had not been a fact of their life. Had they met and mated under different circumstances, he felt that she would have thought to tell them. He could not and would not blame her for this oversight when he knew, in his heart, that she did not do it deliberately.
All the same, that did not change or stop the existence of the present circumstances. He would have to give her up, and he would do so for Malek, to allow him to recover from this blow. He would have the knowledge that somewhere in the universe, he had beautiful children who were growing up with a beautiful and loving mother. One who would treat them with love and respect and who would never harm them in any way. Yes, he would have that, at least.
It would be a balm to his spirit and help to mitigate the knowledge that his other children had died. He had watched from the window of his room, completely helpless to do anything, as the Jaffa cut them down in the streets as they tried to run away. His sweet Marisa and stout Janison. How he had loved his children, the one shining light in his otherwise dark and loathsome existence.
He had never cared particularly for his wife. She had been vain and utterly uncaring of anyone but herself, including her children and him, but even he would not have given her to the Jaffa for their payment to leave him alone. She, too, had died horribly, after being tortured. He had seen her body on the way out of the house, but had cared little for her fate. Nothing had mattered by then.
Nothing, that is, except the confrontation between Malek and his father-in-law. Dev thought of that now and how he had cowered in the back of his own mind as Malek had simply broken the man’s neck as he tried to stop him and his new mate from leaving. Malek had taken some of his clothing, since Dev had been wearing almost nothing as that was how his father-in-law had kept him most of the time, and his former host’s garments were not in very good shape.
As he had stripped him and donned the clothing, Devlin had laughed hysterically in their shared mind. Malek had thought Dev was coming apart because he had committed such a violent act. Dev had assured him, without telling him who the man was, that he was laughing because, for once, the man had been the one on the receiving end, that he had deserved to die a slower and more painful death, and then he had thanked him profusely for killing him. Neither of them had ever mentioned it again.
Moreover, perhaps, sometime in the future, he could convince Malek to see and talk to Gwennetha. Not today or tomorrow, but he would hold onto the hope that the day would come when he could show to Malek the beauty of the night that their children were conceived. Moreover, if the pain of his children’s loss was lessened, then he could show him how much the children Gwennetha would give them could mean to them. The day could come when he would be able to share with Malek all of those things, and convince him to try to reconcile with Gwennetha. He would hold onto that hope, for right now, it was all he had.
Merdwin watched the emotions crossing his face for a moment before saying, “There is something that I must tell you, Dev, for I will not keep things from you pertaining to this situation. The hormones, which are making you more emotional, will give you less control over the memories and the feelings attached to them. The emotional turmoil you are undergoing will make your memories and feelings much closer to the surface, as well, and they will be much more likely to come forward if anything happens to trigger them.”
“I thought you should know. While they will remain buried, you know as well as I that you have never buried them so deeply that you cannot access them. Should any trauma happen, it could release them.”
“I do not see any traumatic thing happening to you here, for we will continue to care for both you and Malek until he can be trusted not to attempt to kill you both.”
“I must admit though, that as I told you earlier, while I do understand his reactions and why he is feeling these things, and I understand it is a way to have control, I also believe it is very out of character for him to continue in this refusal, when he knows it is harming you. The only likely explanation I can come up with is that the unusual chemicals in his system are causing irrationality. However, we will deal with that after we have helped you,” Merdwin pronounced, in his calm and soothing way.
“I have noticed that the thoughts sometimes come when I am not attempting to access them. It has worried me as I am afraid that they will come into my dreams, and I will have to try to explain something to Malek, which would mean lying.”
“Therefore, yes, Merdwin, I accept. If you can take the pain of those memories away so that there is less chance of Malek ever finding them, then do so. I – I believe that he would despise me for what I allowed to happen to me for so long, and he would be right to do so. I should have fought harder, tried harder.”
Drawing a shaking breath, he asked, “When do you wish to begin?”
Merdwin smiled at him. “Kataya is waiting. We will begin now, while Malek is still deeply asleep, if that is acceptable to you. Devlin, do you trust us not to lie to you?”
“Yes, of course.” Devlin replied.
“Then believe this. I will not try to tell you again, now, before we access the memories, that you could have done nothing to change your situation, but I feel sure that afterwards, I will be telling you that. And then you will know that it is true.”
“Now, are you ready to begin?”
“Yes. Yes, I am ready,” Devlin, whispered as he looked into the dark blue eyes looking back at him. He felt himself lying down, and the last thing he remembered thinking was that Merdwin’s eyes were hypnotic when you looked into them deeply. Why had he never realized that before? Then he was floating in warm, softly blue water before he fell soundly asleep.