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.”  

“Artereos…”

“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.”

“The rest?”

“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.  


TBC





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Daughters of the Queen

Chapter Fifteen

The Sound of the Silence