Chapter Fifteen Summary: When Malek awakens, he is very confused. It seems that he has returned to Devlin. Or was he ever really gone? How much of his experience was dream and how much was real? Artereos gives him the answers.
Caruswyn – My Dear, My Dearest Carusawyn – My Dear One, My Dearest One Coeurawyn – My Heart Mer Prinekh – My Lifemate. It is another more Intimate Name for Lifemate used by both Host and Symbiote. Mer Prinekh is often used as a Term of Endearment and Affection. Can be Translated as Sweet Lifemate, Beloved Lifemate, etc… “Italics” – Symbiote-Host or Telepathic Communications
Malek lost all track of time. He was in a Myst and could see nothing else. Time seemed to be standing still. He could not tell if it was minutes, days, weeks, or months that he floated in the Mysts. The pain was still there, but it no longer felt as if it was cutting into him. The only thing that appeared to remain was a constant intense aching of his heart, body, and mind. He wished he could see something other than the gray of the wisps that floated around him. At least he was no longer in a black void, but the gray one was almost as bad.
Suddenly, Malek felt a jolt, and he could tell that he was floating down. He kept his eyes closed tightly as he braced himself for the feel of the water against his body. He hoped it was not a cold lake. He hated cold water. As he continued to float downward, he sighed morosely, thinking that the All probably sent him into freezing water just to make the entire experience even worse. It was taking a very long time to hit the water.
The air under him became decidedly firmer and the floating sensation seemed to slow. He frowned. Why was the air becoming hard? What an odd sensation. It was as if the air had solidified and was now a platform. Not only that, but it felt as if it was wrapping around him. In addition to that, it was very warm. Then he realized that he was no longer moving. He had completely stopped. He frowned as he wondered where the water was. Surely, they knew he could not survive outside a host when he was in corporeal form without water. He snapped his eyes open to look around and caught his breath at what he saw.
“Well, young Malek, I see that you have rejoined us. Devlin is still asleep, is he not?” Artereos asked quietly from where he sat ensconced in a deep wing back chair beside the bed.
Malek stared at Artereos in disbelief, fearing he was dreaming, but he took the cup held out to him. He grasped it using Devlin’s hand. He could feel the cup, so surely this was real. He looked at him with Dev’s eyes. Besides, he could no longer look down and see the occupants of the room. He was one of the occupants of the room. How was that possible? Searching, reaching outward, he found Devlin asleep, and he was definitely within his body. He could hear his heartbeat and his breath as he breathed. He was no longer in either the void or the Mysts; it was no longer silent. What had happened? Why was he here instead of in the lake? Moreover, when had Artereos arrived? The last he remembered Kataya was helping him to sleep, so she could talk to Dev to try to help him. Then he had awoken in a black void where the only light was from the room below or when Artereos was with him. Devlin had not been there. He knew he had not.
Coming slowly up on his elbow, he drank a small amount of the tea, slowly increasing the amount until he had managed to drink half of the cup full. The nausea that started as soon as he awoke seemed to be retreating. He drank some more of the tea. Yes, it was most definitely receding. That was another thing that told him he must be back within Devlin. When he was in the All, there had been no nausea, only emotional pain.
“Devlin is asleep, sir. Will he – will he wake up soon?”
“Very probably, but he will not do so before we have a chance to talk. You seem disoriented. What appears to be the matter, Malek?”
“I was supposed to be put into a lake. I was never supposed to be with Devlin again. You told me so, just now. What has happened?” Malek answered him in a somewhat stoic voice, as he refused to let hope in just yet.
“Ah, yes, well, I am afraid that things did not turn out quite as you expected them to. Beyond that, you have been doing a little, well, for want of a better word, we will call it precognitive dreaming, Malek. You very quickly learned what you needed to learn. Your decision to be wiped from their memories told the All what you learned louder than any words could have done.”
“So, Gwennetha was not called before the All because of me? And Kataya and Merdwin did not discuss it? Does that mean that the things I saw in Devlin’s mind are not true? I do not understand,” Malek frowned as he tried to work through what Artereos truly meant by his words. Had he been having an extremely vivid dream, then?
“No, I daresay you do not. However, I will give you the answers to your questions. Yes, the All called Gwennetha before it to answer your accusations. She did not fight the charges you placed against her, but pleaded guilty. Kataya and Merdwin were discussing it, the two of you did hear them, you did see the memories that Devlin has buried for years, and he did withdraw from you,” Artereos’s reply was very concise and to the point.
“Then what part was a dream? I still do not understand what has occurred,” Malek’s response was somewhat tentative, as if he was not sure he really wanted to know the answers, but felt that perhaps he should know them.
“Kataya helped you to sleep, but as you drifted off, you again sent very strong feelings into the All. You did go before a tribunal, and it agreed that you would take Gwennetha’s place and serve the sentence in her stead. The All took you from Devlin and released you into its Mysts in a safe place. At that point, you experienced non-existence and, therefore, what it means to be in that, ah, condition. After that, things become a little, ah, insubstantial and shadowy, in other words, that is when you experienced the, er, instructive dreams. That is when you watched the events that would soon come to pass if nothing happened to change the course leading to them.”
“Allow me to finish, young Malek. There is much for you to learn before Devlin awakes, and you make your peace first with him, and then with Gwennetha.”
Malek nodded and automatically took the cup that Artereos had refilled and again held out to him. He sipped as they instructed him to do, what now seemed a lifetime ago. It appeared to be helping quite a bit. He took a shaky breath and waited for Artereos to continue.
“Devlin was also allowed to see what awaited the three of you. He was quite distraught about the All’s decision. As a result, he sent a very loud message out into the All, which in turn caused the All to summon him to a tribunal. He did not wish a punishment for either you or Gwennetha. He became quite vocal when the All brought him before the tribunal. That is the one thing that changed what you saw. Devlin refused to give you up.”
He paused briefly watching and studying his emotions as they chased one another across Malek’s face, before continuing, “The All believes in self determination. Therefore, although you agreed to removal from their minds, it could not take Devlin’s memories of you from him without his consent, and although it explained to him that you wished to do this to end their grief of losing you, he refused to consent. Friends and casual acquaintances are a different matter. You would have been wiped from all history and another put in your place. They would have known you still, but it would not have been you, if you can understand that. However, for your Soulmate that was not possible. The All had no choice but to allow him the option of accepting your decision or not. They could take you as part of your sentence and separate you for the allotted time, but they could not wipe you from his memory unless he agreed. He refused.”
He allowed his words penetrate before adding, “Devlin is very deeply attached to you, Malek. His near panic, which ended in a threat to take his life before he allowed the All to wipe his memory of you, or to keep you parted for so long, was a deciding factor in your release. That would make the All responsible for his death, and the All does not work in that way. They would not trade your life and Devlin’s for that of the kits, nor would it allow Devlin’s life to be forfeit because of something it did. Moreover, it was obvious that you had, ah, seen the error of your ways, and that Devlin had also learned some things that he needed to learn. Your acceptance of the offer to be wiped from their memories, so they could find peace and happiness, spoke well for you and what you had learned.”
Returning to Devlin's appearance before the All, he told him, “Devlin was very eloquent on the subject of their culpability, as well as how the All did not have the right to tell him that he should be parted from his Soulmates, either of them. He pointed out that you were not even acting like yourself and, if it knew so much, it should have been trying to help you, instead of hurting all three of you. He went on to call them some very unpleasant things and accuse them of underhandedness, ah, among other things. It was very invigorating to see and hear. The All was, um, impressed…and somewhat amuse…, ah, well, never mind, for that is neither here nor there.”
“Of course, the All pointed out that it did not matter if you were with Devlin, or not, because he had turned from you and shut you out of his life. He was hiding in a corner of his mind, afraid to confront you with his past. That was the choice he had made, so the All had made its decisions based on what he had done as much as what you had agreed to. Needless to say, he quickly assured the All that he would no longer shut you out, or remain locked away in his mind.”
“He also admitted that he had allowed you to have control of your joint lives for far too long, and that he would begin to disagree with you when he felt you were wrong. He realizes that if only he had done so this time, he could have avoided the entire situation. He is ready to begin to rebuild your relationship, and when he awakens, he will be back with you. It may be difficult for you both, but you care deeply for one another, and you will work through it.” Artereos paused, as he looked at Malek quite sternly, “It will also be your responsibility to see to it that you do not take advantage of him. For it would be very easy for both of you to fall back into old ways and patterns.”
“The All never intended to do any of those things, did it, Artereos? It was simply slapping me down and teaching me a few truths about myself, was it not?”
Leaning back in his chair, Artereos continued to gaze at Malek, but then his eyes became unfocused as if seeing something beyond him. He turned back to him, and his gaze was cold and piercing, as he smiled grimly. His tone soft, yet holding a threat, he said, “The All was quite ready and willing to do every one of those things, Malek, do not ever doubt that. Had you not begun to see what you were doing to yourself and your mates, it would have felt no compunction in tossing you into a lake for the next few hundred years and wiping your memory from recorded and personal histories. I was telling you the truth when I said that only Devlin’s actions spared you. You came very close to losing everything you hold most dear this day. Do not forget it,” Artereos warned him quietly.
Artereos let his words sink in before continuing, not allowing Malek to answer him yet. “After Devlin made his statements as to what he intended to do to make your relationship work more equitably, the All returned to the original accusations and sentence. They would now go back to the original appeal and sentence Gwennetha.”
Still watching Malek closely, Artereos informed him, “It was at this point that Devlin let them know in no uncertain terms that the two of you wished to retract them. He explained that it was only the instability of your emotions due to the changes taking place in your bodies that caused you to be so unreasonable. He also pointed out that you wished to take back your accusations. That you had they were not true. Since it was your fault and his that Gwennetha was summoned, he should have the right to make the accusations null and void on the grounds that the two of you realized that you were wrong.”
“The All then pointed out that it should make no difference to the two of you if Gwennetha was gone from you, for you both appeared to have rejected her and your kits completely.”
“He informed them that he never repudiated her or the kits. He was only waiting for you to become calmer before attempting to start reconciliation. He reassured them that he would see to it that you did not continue to make all of the decisions, and the first one he would insist on doing his way was asking Gwennetha for forgiveness for the two of you.”
Artereos paused for a moment and then he said very softly, but firmly, his voice steel covered in velvet, “There is another condition to your return to Devlin and the dismissing of the charges you brought against Gwennetha. Devlin had to agree to be responsible for your actions in this matter and any future situations that come up concerning your vows to her. If you fail again, then Devlin’s life will be forfeit, as will yours, for an unspecified amount of time. I would suggest you keep that in mind if you are ever again tempted to renounce your Soulmate.”
“Should you repudiate your mates again, it will not go as easy on you as it did this time. One lapse it will tolerate, two is too many. Do not think that you will ever have this chance again, for you never will. Unwavering faith in them and their love of you is what you promised. Do not fail them again.”
“I will neither forget what I have learned nor lose faith and fail them. I did not mean to imply that I did not believe it would ever do those things, I simply meant that it did it to attempt to make me open my eyes and see what I was doing. I am quite aware that nothing could save me if it happened again. And there is no way in the universe that I would allow Devlin to be punished for something that I did.”
“I am glad that you realize that, Malek, for it is quite true,” Artereos assured him.
Becoming once more the Artereos that Malek had first met, he again poured more tea for him and handed it to him saying, “If you continue to drink your tea as you should, you will find that you are hungry before very long. Drink up, there you go.”
With the easing of the tension brought on by Malek’s statement of intent and understanding, he felt comfortable enough to ask some more questions, knowing that Artereos would not take them wrong this time. Relaxing against the headboard, as Artereos again became comfortable in his chair, he asked, “Artereos, how much of what I experienced was real? You said I did leave Devlin, so, how much of what I saw was real? How much of it truly happened? Moreover, who set all of this in motion? Was it Kataya when she put me to sleep? Or Merdwin? Or you? Which of you saw to it that both Devlin and I learned the lessons we needed so badly to learn?” Malek asked quietly.
“Is it really important, Malek, how it came about, or how much actually took place, and how much was just a vision of a possible future? As long as your eyes are now opened to what your life might be like without the mate’s of your Soul, is that not enough?”
“Yes, I suppose it is, but I would still like to thank whichever one of you it was. You have done Devlin and me a great service when you had to be very angry at me, especially.”
“Let us say we were a little disappointed in your reaction even though it was the one we expected. As for which of us did it? You should look to the All for the answer to that for we are simply instruments of it, and both protect it and are protected by it. It is never evil or cruel, Malek, and it would not allow those things you saw to happen if it could help it, at least in this first instance. In one way you were correct in saying that it did not intend to do those things to you, but you must add to that sentence ~this time~ and ~if he learns quickly~ remember that. Its patience is not infinite, as I said before, and it would have had no compunction about doing it, if you had not responded as it expected.”
Malek nodded slowly, “So, the reality is that I was given time to work through my anger and resentment, but when I—when I did not, then the All took a hand in my affaires to attempt to teach me that which I should have learned somewhere along the way in the last two thousand years. I did not realize that it would interfere in this way with our lives. Not that I am not grateful, for I am; I just did not realize they—it—would do so.”
“It or they, either one is appropriate, Caruswyn. As for your statement about it taking a hand in your affaires, in the normal course of events, it would not, Malek, but you, in your anger and resentment, sent a very strong message out into the Universe. Moreover, do not forget that being with Gwennetha you are much closer to the All than you would normally be. It is a second home to her, for she is capable of traveling it freely as I am, as most Furling are.”
“When you became my granddaughter’s mate, you became a child of the All, and as such, you have, shall we say, a closer tie to it than you did before. You and Devlin, as well as Lantash and Martouf, are closer than most of its adopted children are. Not that they are not all cared for, but Lantash and Martouf are mates to those of the chosen. Samantha and Kataya are special gifts from the All and of the All and therefore, very dear to it. Their children as well, are well known and especially cared for. Since you are their mates, it will watch over you as much as is possible without truly interfering. However, do not expect it to step in and stop most things from happening, Malek, for it will not. Remember, self-determination is the standard.”
“Therefore, what this all means is that it can hear you quite clearly, and you were shouting quite loudly, at least within your mind. Moreover, from what I understand from Merdwin, there were times when you did so quite loudly within this room. You were not addressing anyone in particular; you addressed your remarks outward to the Universe, and it heard you quite clearly and plainly.”
Malek stared at Artereos attempting to assimilate what he was learning, and then he asked, “Is Gwennetha aware of what has happened? You said that Devlin knows, but does she also know? I saw them here, together. Was that real? Lantash and Samantha? Were they here?”
“Well, let me see. Gwennetha knows only what we have told her. She was not a part of the dream-state that you and Devlin were in within the All. She knows you petitioned the All to release her and take you in her stead, and she knows the final outcome. Lantash and Samantha were not here, although it was on a knife’s edge whether they could keep Lantash from coming. Once he was able to leave his room, he suggested that he come to talk to you, but they dissuaded him. You had already been quite vocal in your protests about Selmak and Brialek. We saw no need to go through that again with Lantash.”
“Lantash,” he continued thoughtfully, “has been worried about you, but the search for the queens has helped some to take his mind off you and your, to him, incomprehensible actions. In addition, with their nausea and food cravings, he has had other things with which to cope, as well. I will tell you that your actions disturbed both him and Martouf a great deal. They puzzled and upset them. Lantash’s repeated insistence that, while you can be amazingly stubborn, you are not an irrational being is part of why we continued to seek a way in which to help you.”
Malek did not even attempt to stop the flush that colored his cheeks; he simply listened quietly. Then, looking up from the cup he was staring into, he told Artereos softly, “I must apologize to both of them. I believe that I owe a great deal of thanks as well as many apologies to Kataya and Merdwin, as well. I especially wish to thank and apologize to Merdwin for enduring my ill temper and irrationality as very patiently as he did. I have caused several people, people who love Devlin and care about me, a great deal of trouble, heartache, and worry. I will extend those things to the appropriate people, when I am up and around again. In the meantime, I both apologize and thank you, as well, Artereos, for you have obviously been instrumental in helping me.”
Artereos smiled at him, and it was that beautiful smile that seemed to warm one, as he debated his next words. Evidently coming to a conclusion, he became serious once more. “I probably should not tell you, lest you decide you are not responsible at all; however, I cannot, in all conscience, allow you to believe you are completely at fault.” Knowing by Malek’s very alert expression that he was listening and wondering, he explained to him, “As I said, Lantash’s emphatic and unmovable belief that you were acting out of character in this matter, caused us to continue to help you, and therefore Devlin. It was also the reason we looked farther into your response. We finally determined that you are more, ah, shall we say, susceptible, to the hormones and chemicals that passed into your system. Do not misunderstand me, Malek, you were still ultimately responsible for your actions; however, we also became aware that the length of your excessively irrational response was initiated and supported by the hormones and chemicals.”
“Unfortunately, your natural response to the situation was to act exactly as you did. It became a vicious circle. The hormones exacerbated the emotions you were already feeling, your refusal to look beyond your interpretation of what occurred kept your emotions off balance, and that led back to the hormones and chemicals enhancing your emotions. By not allowing Devlin to drink the tea, you continued the downward spiral. Your body was in physical distress caused by the nausea and mood swings. The hormones continued to cause the distress. Your refusal to drink and therefore control the physical manifestation of the hormones stopped your body from beginning to assimilate them, and therefore they remained just as virulent as they were the first morning. In many ways, you were responsible for your reactions. In some ways, you were not. Once we found that, we knew we had to do what we could to help you begin to work your way out of that cycle within which you traveled.”
Malek swallowed hard and then whispered, “Thank you, Artereos. I must admit that I was concerned as to why I did not become calmer and begin to look at everything in a more logical and less emotion driven way. I was afraid that there was something wrong with me that I remained so irrational for so long.”
“Yes, I suspected as much, which is why I decided to tell you. It does not absolve you, but it does mitigate what you did. There is nothing wrong with your mind,” Artereos assured him.
Then deciding that it was time for some happier thoughts to take over in order to allow Malek time to absorb everything, he told him, quite cheerfully, “You will be glad to know that they have located one address that they feel will lead them to some symbiotes, if not a queen. So, now you must begin to get better and then become immersed in the hunt for your future queens along with the others.”
Malek nodded, looking interested, until he took the cup that Artereos had once again filled. He wondered how much of this he would have to drink.
“Gallons of it, my dear boy, gallons of it. Trust me, I know.” Artereos picked up the thoughts that Malek threw out quite easily. Malek smiled slightly realizing what he had done. There were worse things than a grandfather-in-law who could pick up your stray thoughts.
“You were not ill, were you, sir?” Malek was very curious as to how Artereos coped with this situation, if he even had to do so.
Artereos shuddered. “I shall never forget my sufferings. It was the most debilitating and humiliating thing I have ever lived through. You are not the first, nor will you be the last. My mate is Wiccadian. They have similar mating requirements and needs to ours, so I did indeed absorb my Lady’s essence. It was very powerful, more powerful than the Furlings in fact, and her daughters and granddaughter inherited that.”
“Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond her control, Gwennetha could not first get your consent. She feels very responsible for not telling you before she agreed to bond with you.”
Grimacing, Malek shook his head, as he said, “She does not need to feel that way. I am the one at fault here. I should have realized that with everything that was going on during that period of time that it was not something she would think to tell us. For her it is a fact of life, and one does not explain those things. It is unfortunate that neither Dev nor I had more knowledge about the Furling. Nor should I have held against her what happened that night. I do not think I fully understood, until I was in the All, that she literally had no control over what happened that night. I am sorry it took me so long to realize it.”
Artereos nodded as he sat relaxing and drinking his port. “Those are the things you must tell Gwennetha, not me. She is the one you will have to convince that you still love her, for she believes you do not.”
Malek shook his head again, this time very sadly, before stating, “I do not believe there is any way she will ever believe me. I failed her, and I sent her away from me. That is not something that will be easily forgiven and will never be forgotten.”
“Perhaps. While it is true that she will probably never forget, I believe she will forgive. She is not a vindictive person, Malek. Besides that, she loves you greatly. You are the mate of her Soul, and that is not something she takes lightly. Her love for the two of you is stronger than any other she will ever have. Do not underestimate her understanding. You may have to confess to some unpleasant things, and admit to the traits that led you down that path, but if you are honest with her, she will understand them.”
Malek sighed, disconsolately, “I wish I could believe that. I remember what I saw while I was gone. Neither she nor Devlin have any reason to believe me. I failed them both, and I have no way to prove to them that I will not do so again.”
“You will find the way, Caruswyn. In addition, Devlin needs you to help him come too terms with his past. He must allow Kataya to take the rest of the deep searing pain of them away. She will do so as soon as he is ready for her to.”
“Yes. She was only starting to help him, to take away some of the deep-seated pain he bears, and she did help some, but not nearly enough. She will gladly go back in and help him fight his demons. For, they are demons of his mind, and he must win over them. Once she takes the pain of them away, he will be able to do so, for he will be able to look at what happened and see it more realistically. Once he truly realizes that he had no choice, it will ease him.”
“I will do whatever I can to help him. The scenes I saw were—very bad. I have seen worse things, of course, from the Goa’uld, but what I saw was bad enough to cause great emotional pain. He should not carry that burden alone, and he will no longer have to. Nor, will he have to worry about me finding out. He should have known that it would make no difference to my feelings for him. And it explains things that have puzzled me over the years.”
“How you react will go a long way toward helping him, Malek. One of his greatest fears was that you would find out and despise him.”
“I will do my best, I promise you,” Malek assured him before pausing and then asking hesitantly, “How is—how is Gwennetha? Will—will I be allowed to see her? Will she even talk to me?” He paused and then added, “If she has been as ill as we have, then she has not been eating, and she is carrying the kits. She must eat, Artereos.”
Artereos sighed. He had known this question would come sooner or later. He wished he had better news for him. “Gwennetha has not been well, Malek. She is quite as ill as you have been. I am sure she will want to see you for herself to know that you are up and getting better. Knowing that you have finally become more rational and wish to see her will help her, I believe. Her well-being is still not exactly stable. We hope this will allow her emotions to calm enough to let her body settle and be cared for by the energy around her.”
“She has a few hours a day that she feels stronger, and her mother has been helping her as much as she can. Your recovery will help her more than anything else will. So, the sooner you are well, the sooner she will be well.”
“I understand. I will continue to drink the tea, I assure you. It is such a relief to be without the constant nausea. I cannot believe that I refused it for so long. Someone should have poured it down my throat.”
“Ah, no. No, that does not work. The, er, unique taste, tends to make one bring it back up if they take too large a drink, too soon. You may ask Martouf when you are stronger. He has personal experience to back up the statement.”
“Lantash and Martouf are better? They are up and around now?”
“Yes, they are. As I mentioned before, they have been helping in the search. Of course, they still spend time in the facilities room, but one expects that as long as one is drinking. It must go somewhere, you know.”
Malek looked at the cup in his hand with resignation. It seemed that even after the nausea was under control he would be spending more time in that room than he would have liked. Sighing he took another drink. It did seem to grow on one.
“When can I see Gwennetha?”
“I think you should talk to Devlin first. You have bonds to rebuild and ties to repair with both of them. I would fix the ones with him first, if I were you, for you will both need forgiveness. We will tell Gwennetha at once that the two of you are back together and working through your problems. She will also be told that you are both better, eager to see her, and hope that she will allow you to see her soon.”
“Devlin should not need her forgiveness. I am the one that refused to be rational and understanding.”
“Devlin did not dispute you, Malek, nor did he attempt to go to his mate, even though he knew that staying away from her must hurt her very deeply. He did not lose faith in her that is true; on the other hand, neither did he go to her.”
“But that was because of me,” Malek protested urgently, once more appalled by what he had wrought.
“I do not think that will matter greatly, Malek. It is his body, and he is free to use it at any time. He chose not to go to her, and that is what he will have to work through, both with you and with Gwennetha. Once she realizes why he is so very loyal to you, it is my belief that she will forgive him freely. But he will have to tell her everything; it is the only way.”
Artereos looked thoughtful, and then stated, “I do not know, but it seems to me that Devlin must have, or had, some anger towards you that he has buried. I am guessing, of course, but you should try to find out. Buried anger can come forth at very bad times and cause all kinds of problems. Do not allow him to continue to bury it, and do not let him assure you he felt no resentment or anger over what has happened. He is sure to have had feelings of both.”
“I understand, and I will do whatever it takes, I promise you.”
“Good. Well, I assume you wish to talk to Devlin privately, and that we can now leave your windows and doors unlocked without you doing anything foolish.”
“No, I will not, you have my word, but do you have any idea when he will wake up? I do not wish to interrupt his sleep.”
“He will wake up as soon as I allow it, so whenever you feel you have enough of your questions answered, then I will leave you to deal with one another.”
“I am ready, Artereos.”
“Yes, young Malek, I believe you really are,” Artereos said as he set the carafe within easy reach of Malek. “I will see to it that more is delivered shortly. Drink often, it is the only thing that will help,” he warned, as he headed for the door.
He turned back after he opened it. “If you need help and wish for me to come back, simply think to me. I have a link set with the two of you and will come anytime. I wish you luck, Malek.”
“Thank you, sir.”
As the door closed, Malek sensed that Devlin was awakening. Now, the real tests of his newfound insight and determination would begin.
He felt Devlin’s mind searching frantically for him even before he was completely awake. There was fear and panic very near the surface. He rushed to reassure him, “Devlin, dear one, I am here. I am no longer gone.”
“Malek? Malek, I thought you were gone from me. I thought the All took you from me. Was it a dream? Please, do not tell me that this is the dream,” Devlin pleaded for Malek’s reassurance.
Malek sighed before telling him softly, “I am sorry, Dev, but I was taken, and you were alone for a time. I do not know how long I was away from you, and I did not think to ask Artereos. This is not a dream. I am back with you now, and I will be forever,” he swiftly gave his mate his promise.
“Was Artereos here? He was with me at the tribunal. They put you away—away in a chamber into which they would not allow me to go. I was so angry and afraid that I would never feel you within me again,” it was all Devlin could do to speak the words.
“Yes, he was here. We talked for quite some time, and he explained most of what happened and—and why it happened. Hush, Caruswyn, it is all right, now. We are back together, and we will never be parted like that again. I have learned what I needed to learn, and I have realized that I was very unfair to you. You must not let me be so again, Dev. You must speak up, and tell me what you want,” Malek’s tone was firm as he answered him.
“Yes, I have begun to realize that as well. I was too quick to agree with you because I wanted you to be happy. I have always wanted that, for as you now know, you saved me from a very bad situation over and above the Jaffa that would have eventually found me. I am sorry you had to live those memories with me. I never wanted you to know, Malek. I would have done anything to keep them from you,” Devlin's words were full of such sorrow it was hard for Malek to bear.
Almost trembling with emotion, Malek caressed and kissed him gently, murmuring to him, “I know, but I do not know why, Devlin. I do not think any less of you because of what happened to you. I—I love you deeply, and I have a great deal of admiration for you. You kept your sanity, and you did not allow that man to destroy that part of you that is truly you. Your very being and personality he could not touch, and for that I respect you very much.”
Malek paused, and then said very softly, but firmly, “Devlin, there was nothing, nothing at all, that you could have done to stop what happened. Not one time did you have a truly good chance to escape, and even if you had, he would have hunted you down and made it worse than before. You have absolutely nothing at all of which to be ashamed. He is the one that should have been ashamed. Not you. Never you, Mer Prinekh. I am glad we broke his neck,” Malek said, his voice laden with satisfaction at that memory. He realized how much Devlin had treasured that moment and how much satisfaction it had given him.
Devlin said nothing for a moment as he let the words of comfort soak into and start to heal his heart. “Thank you, Malek. Your opinion means a great deal to me. Moreover, coming from you those statements mean even more, for you cannot lie to me anymore than I can lie to you, therefore, I know they are true statements. Kataya also, said much the same to me, after her first session with me. She is trying to help me to deal with the pain so that I can then deal with the memories,” Dev explained, not realizing that Malek already knew of her helping him.
“Yes, that is what Artereos said. I am glad, Dev, because you should not have to live with that much pain. It is just too much. I, too, will help you all I can. Perhaps between the four of us, we will work through both your demons and my short-comings.”
“Four? Oh, do you mean Merdwin? I am sure he would help, but he did not go into my mind with Kataya. She, she felt that I would not wish to share this with any more people than were necessary, so she entered alone. It was very kind and caring of her.”
Malek paused before answering, as he decided exactly how to tell him that which he must say, “Yes, Coeurawyn, it was, but then, she is kind and caring, as we both have reason to know. However, Merdwin was not the one about which I was speaking. Actually, I meant Kataya, Gwennetha, you and I. You, or I, if you cannot bring yourself to do so, must tell her of this, Devlin. No, do not begin to draw away again. Listen to me, please. I hurt her, and unfortunately, some of that will rub off onto you. You must explain to her why you have such extreme loyalty to me that it caused you to stay with me rather than to go to her. Artereos assured me that we must tell her, and I believe he is correct, as he usually is. I, too, will have to bare my soul to her, for she is very hurt, and she is feeling, that is, she has been, betrayed by me. Regretfully, since you remained by my side instead of going to her, you appear as guilty as I do. As he pointed out, only the bare truth will suffice, Carusawyn, but I promise you, I will help you all I can, and I will allow her anger to focus on myself rather than you. I will try to help her understand. You will not have to say anything, nor be the focus of her anger and pain,” Malek cajoled him as he gently gave him the sensation of someone rubbing circles on his back, which was a motion that he himself found soothing.
“No, you will not, Malek, for in this Artereos is surely correct. I did not go to her when I should have. I myself have realized that I should have done so regardless of your attitude and my loyalty to you, which in this instance was misguided. I did not, so in reality, I am as guilty as you are. We will share her displeasure, Carusawyn, and we will explain and admit to all of these things together. I will never again allow you to take control of everything, and that includes these types of situations, as well as the others. We may have to work at it for a time, but I feel sure that Gwennetha will be watching and helping us to see to it that we do not fall back into old habits,” Devlin informed him firmly. Malek must not continue to always make their decisions or take on the unpleasant or hard tasks. In the future, they would both be responsible for the way in which they handled what life handed to them as well as their actions in how they did so.
Malek was quiet for a moment before saying, “I feel sure you are correct. Of course, there is also the question of whether I can get her to forgive me at all. I wish to be the one that talks to her if you do not mind, though, Dev. My transgression was by far the worst of what I, that is we, did. If you insist, then of course I will not talk to her, but I think I need to do it. I know that neither of you will trust me again, nor can I blame you for that. I will do my best, however, to see to it that neither of you are ever disappointed in me again.”
Devlin was surprised and almost alarmed at how very subdued, chastened, and contrite Malek sounded. He hurried to reassure him, “I will do my best as well, Malek. I do believe we are both to blame for this. I know you will feel better if you talk to her. I suppose in a way it will be a penance to you. You feel the need to ask her forgiveness yourself. I will also wish to do so, but I will wait until later.” He paused before continuing, “Gwennetha could not stop what occurred. She had no control over any of it; she would have stopped it if she could. I know she is very upset over what happened and feels that she is at fault for not telling us before it happened. I believe that had we decided to have children, she would have explained it fully and asked our permission. She would very probably have been upset with herself for not telling us before. I cannot blame her in any way, Malek. There was so much happening at that time. I can fully understand it not entering her mind.”
“I agree with you, Devlin. I, too, now understand what occurred, and I no longer believe that she was at fault. Now that I am looking at it in a more rational manner, I can see that none of it was her fault, including not remembering to tell us about something that for her was no more than a fact of life. We must convince her that we, no, that I, no longer look at it in an unfavorable light. I simply did not understand, and now that I do and have allowed myself to examine my memories of that night, I realize how very wrong I was to blame her. I just do not know how I can make her realize that I now do understand.” He sighed disconsolately.
“We will find a way, Malek. We must. Now that we are thinking more clearly, I realize that I cannot imagine our lives without her. I do not know if I could have survived if she was taken from us.”
Malek hugged him from within and Devlin wrapped him in warmth as well. There was no point in them being angry at one another. His stray thought entered Malek’s consciousness.
“Devlin,” Malek brought his attention back to him, his voice tentative and gentle, “Artereos pointed something out to me. He suggested that you would be burying feelings of anger and resentment toward me because of what I did. He suggested that we face that together, and I believe he was correct in his suggestion. You have every reason to feel anger and resentment toward me. I do not believe you should bury those emotions, for as he pointed out, they could come back to haunt us later, perhaps, at a most inappropriate time. I believe you should be honest with me about your feelings. Only then can we overcome them.”
Malek waited tensely for Devlin to answer him. As the time ticked by, he realized that Devlin was deliberately shielding his thoughts from him. He frowned. What was he thinking about for so long? Moreover, why was he not sharing his feelings?
“I am not sharing them with you because I do not wish to hurt you, ever, and I feel my emotions would do so. I am not saying anything because you always know when I lie, and I must either tell you the truth, or remain quiet. I do not believe this is something we should discuss,” Devlin caught his thoughts and finally brought himself to say.
Malek knew immediately that his Devlin was harboring a great many emotions that were not pleasant and all of them pertained to him and his actions.
He sighed, and said firmly, “We cannot hope to make our peace with each other, or with Gwennetha, unless you are willing to share your thoughts and feelings, Dev. I believe you need to tell me what you felt during this past week, as well as how you feel now. If you do not, then you are not being fair to me, to us, for I cannot make amends, if I do not know that for which I need to make amends. I have done so many stupid, hurtful things to you and Gwennetha this past week that I am not sure I even know where to start to try to heal our wounds. Without guidance from you, I never will.”
Devlin still hesitated before finally asking, “What is it that you wish to know, Malek?”
“I wish for you to bring forward every angry resentful feeling you have had so that we can know it is there and hopefully deal with it.”
“I do not wish to hurt you, Malek. I do not believe there is anything to be gained by dredging up my feelings during this past week, particularly since I no longer feel that way.”
“I think there is. If we do not cleanse ourselves of these things, then they will fester and cause us pain later. Please, Dev, do not worry about hurting me. The universe knows that I hurt you and Gwennetha enough. Tell me, Dev. I need to know.”
He drew a shaking breath as he waited for Devlin to answer him. When he did, it took him by surprise.
Finally finding the words he needed, he began slowly, but gained momentum until the words fairly tumbled out, as he dredged up his emotions over the past week, “All right, Malek, if you are sure and, if you insist, then I will tell you. There were times I hated you. I hated you, and I loved you. It is very unsettling. Quite often, I wished I had never seen you, never been joined to you, and never had to hear you again. I resented the fact that you never asked me my opinion, not once, and—not just in this instance. More than that, I was very angry because you would not allow logic to enter. You would not look at that night as anything other than a horrible experience, and it was not. You made up your mind, and you did not care if I wanted to live or die, because you wished to die. Furthermore, you were going to take me with you and leave our Gwennetha alone to raise our children. There were definitely times that I hated you for those things.”
“Yes, looking back, I realize that I was very angry. I hated you, I resented you, and I was angry. At the same time, I knew I owed you everything, and that without you, I would have been dead long ago. If not that, then I would be at the end of a chain in a room somewhere, even if he sold me to someone else. But even knowing what I owed you for saving me, I was furious because you just assumed that I would agree with whatever you said, whatever you decided, and whatever you did.”
He sighed deeply before going on, “I know now that you had every reason to feel that way, for that is what I have done for far too long. Besides all of that, I was furious with myself, because I have always allowed you to lead and do very much as you pleased.”
Devlin closed his eyes and swallowed as he attempted to contain the desolation he felt at Gwennetha’s loss…as well as Malek’s loss. He continued, trying to explain his feelings, “I realized when the All took you from me that none of that was true. I did not hate you; I hated what you did. I loved you more than anything else in the universe. I did not wish we had never met and joined, for that was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Moreover, I knew then that if I never heard you again, I would be heartbroken and devastated. I felt so very alone when they took you. I never want to feel that aloneness again. There were no sounds from within me; no feeling of being held, no thoughts to keep me company, no heartbeat mingling with my own. The sound of the silence was almost more than I could bear,” he whispered, as he finished telling of his desolation at his loss of Malek.
Malek waited for his emotions to settle a little before saying, “You have every right to feel those things, Devlin. I deserve that you feel those things. I am very sorry. I do not yet know how to make it up to you, or to Gwennetha, but I am willing to try anything that will ease both your minds and hearts.”
He paused again, trying to control the almost overwhelming disgust he felt at himself and his actions, as well as, his fathomless sorrow at the pain he had inflicted on the two beings in the universe that he loved the most. Shoving those emotions aside for now, he continued to answer Devlin, “As for the sound of the silence, I, too, came face to face with it. I have never been more terrified, lonely, and alone than I was when I realized that I could no longer feel you or hear you. I longed for your touch and yearned to be able to touch you from within, to feel your touch in return. I missed the warmth of your body and the sound of your heartbeat. I missed the whisper of your breathing and the comfort of your thoughts floating to me. It was as if there was nothing around me at all and I found it to be devastating. I have never given you the love and attention I should have, Dev, and I am so very sorry. I deeply regret not showing you my love more often. By that, I do not mean I did not love you, but that I failed to tell you and show you how very dear you are to me. I will not allow myself to so neglect you again.”
Devlin nodded, before answering him, “I do not believe that I still feel those things, Malek. I am just so grateful to have you back with me. I no longer feel the anger and resentment that I felt before. I have tried to look at this from your perspective, and though I find it hard to do, I can relate somewhat. You believed that Gwennetha hurt me, and you allowed it to happen. You thought she lied to us, even though she did not, and the hormones were throwing you completely off center.”
Dev paused for a moment to gather his thoughts, before he continued, “You had almost no control of anything from the moment we began mating up to and including when we awoke that day. I accept your apology, Malek, and I hope you will accept mine. I am sorry I did not stand up to you and make you see it for what it was. I should have insisted that you allow Gwennetha to be with us and explain what happened. So we are both at fault in some ways; neither of us are blameless, so do not think it.”
“Good did come out of it, however, Malek, for we have both realized things that we should have known by now. I never want to live through anything remotely like that again. I believe that I truly understand Lantash’s feelings when he says he never wishes to again experience the prison in which Valynara placed him.”
Devlin felt several deep shudders pass through Malek, as he responded, “I agree completely; I, too, wish never to experience anything that has even a resemblance to that again. As for your other words of comfort, I do thank you, Carusawyn. Perhaps I do not deserve that you are being so forgiving, but I welcome it just the same. I promise you that I will not allow this kind of thing to happen to us again. The next time something comes up, I will try to remember to ask for your opinion, and I expect you to share your viewpoint as well, even if I slip and do not ask. In fact, you must not wait for me to ask your opinion. You must make your feelings known. And, Devlin, there will no longer be a day go by that I do not tell you how loved and appreciated you are.”
“I agree and I, too, will be sure to let you know that I care.” He hesitated before asking, “Do you think that we should begin thinking about what we will say to Gwennetha? For I fear it will take more than an apology, a kiss or two, and a smile.”
“I am quite sure you are correct, Dev. We should start planning now. We already know we will do whatever we have to do to win Gwennetha back to us. Not matter what we have to do or how long it takes. Neither of us can live without her. So, the plan. Yes, we need to work on what we should do. Well, as soon as we take care of business. Artereos said the tea had to go somewhere.” He sighed deeply. “As usual, he was correct.”
Dev grinned as he and Malek stood to go take care of the tea. Suddenly they both felt a lightening of their spirits. Their worlds were not back to normal, and they still had many bridges to rebuild, but for the first time in what seemed like forever, they had hope, and they had a purpose. Furthermore, although it was a small thing, they had been granted a blessing; this time they were not trying to bring up their stomach.