Chapter Two Summary: Malek and Devlin spend the night having nightmares about Artereos and Merdwin and what they would do to them if they became involved with Gwennetha. Consequently, they ignore her the next morning, perhaps not the best route to take. Merdwin and Artereos both have a few things to say to them, as does Lantash. Luckily for them, they take their advice to heart.
"Italics" - Symbiote-Host or Telepathic communications
“So what is it that we will see happening today? What does an aural joining consist of? I get the impression it is not a painful thing?” Devlin asked Malek.
“No, it is not at all painful. The couple will have their auras called forth and agree to entwine them. Once entwined, it will seem as if it shatters into a million pieces, and it will then re-enter the two people involved. I would imagine that soon Martouf and Kataya will also have to join their auras, since Lantash was not blended to Martouf at the time of his and Kataya’s entwining,” Malek answered, as he navigated the hallway, heading for the dining area.
They had all been awakened this morning at a reasonable hour, neither late nor yet early. All three of the rite’s that needed performed would be done today. It would no doubt end late this evening. Whether they would be leaving for the Tau’ri world, Earth, as soon as they were over, or waiting until the following day, was yet to be seen. He supposed it would depend on how things went today and just how late it was before things were completed. The Furling hospitality would not allow them to leave without a meal, nor would it allow them to be rushed off late at night. He suspected they would spend tonight here and leave the following morning.
Neither host nor symbiote had slept well; both had dreamed of amethyst eyes laughing at them, as they fought not to fall under their spell, and both had felt the softness of those luscious lips on theirs once again. Unfortunately, for Malek, and therefore also for Devlin, every time those lips had mated with theirs, either Artereos or Merdwin had appeared in full Katteri-enti manifestation, and proceeded to disembowel Devlin and then rip Malek from his neck. Needless to say, neither man nor symbiote was particularly cheerful this morning. Malek sighed, as Devlin once more tried to convince him it was only a dream, not a vision of a future event.
Upon entering the dining area, the first thing they saw was, of course, the owner of those luscious lips that had caused them so many not so pleasant dreams. Frowning at her as she smiled at them, they turned, and made their way to the sideboard, where a large breakfast buffet was laid out. They watched from the corner of their eye, as she turned from them and said something to, of all people, her father. They watched as he glanced at them, and Dev felt Malek’s apprehension.
“If you had not frowned so obviously at her and basically ignored her, you probably would not be feeling this way now,” Devlin told him testily.
“I am sorry; those dreams were just too real for me to ignore. I have not had time to shake off the affect of them yet. You know how real they seemed,” Malek replied, brusquely.
“Well, do not look now, but Father is making his way to us. He does not appear to be out for blood, though. You must open our eyes, Malek, closing them will not make him go away,” Devlin chided him sharply.
“Perhaps he will decide we are just too stupid to bother with, if we refuse to see him,” Malek responded hopefully.
“I do not think so and I believe he must be almost here. Open our eyes or I will take over,” Devlin said sharply. “I have never known you to be a coward,” he continued slyly, and then watched as their eyes quickly opened. That was better.
Looking upwards at the slightly taller man, Dev waited for someone to say something. Merdwin smiled briefly at them and reached across them, as he murmured, “excuse me”. He took a plate and proceeded to gather some pastries, before turning to leave, again murmuring politely.
“That,” said Devlin, “will teach us to be a little less egotistical in our outlook on life. Tell me, why did we think he was coming to talk to us?”
“Because we both saw the woman we just insulted by ignoring her, turn immediately to him and say something, at which he then headed our way. How were we to know that all she had done was request an apple turnover and some disgusting looking brown something? What is that anyway?” Malek asked, wanting to change the subject.
“I do not know, but several people are eating it, including Lantash, so I am going to try some,” Devlin said firmly, “so pick some of it up.”
“All right, all right, keep your shirt on, as Jacob would say. You know,” Malek continued with that innocuous train of thought, trying to distract himself and his host from their latest mistake, “Jacob is corrupting all of us with Tau’ri expressions. Lantash told me that several weeks ago in a council meeting, Garshaw, after a long, rather boring discussion on the sewage disposal system needing overhauled, and the pros and cons of it, finally said, “Oh, Whatever” and got up and left the room. She came back shortly thereafter with a data pad and wrote down the pros and cons, counted them up, and the side that had the most pros was the way they finally did it. Even Jacob was a little stunned at her telling everyone that they could talk until doomsday, but that would not get the rather important facilities up and running better, and that if they did not get something done, then none of us would have a pot to piss in.”
Malek continued, almost morosely, as he contemplated this corruption of the Tok’Ra, “Furthermore, I heard Selmak use a contraction the other day. That is a sign that his host is definitely rubbing off on him, for as you know, we never corrupt the language in that way. Not that it is a bad thing to pick things up from one's host. It is just that it is…it is that Jacob can be...” Malek sighed, as he gave up trying to explain.
“As for the contractions, I do not think it is a corruption, Malek. They are considered perfectly proper and have spellings just like any other words. Moreover, I hate to break it to you at this time, but occasionally we all use them. Rarely, it is true, but it shows that the speech patterns are rubbing off on us. They are simply a shorter way to say things, and I actually find them somewhat melodious. Jacob, since you brought him up, is blunt, honest, opinionated, sometimes rude, abrasive, objectionable, caring, witty, kind, one of the best friends one could possibly have, and an admirable soldier and operative,” Devlin responded to his rant.
“Trust you to think contractions are melodious,” Malek said, his mood still sour. “You are far too willing to accept things simply because they are easier. The easy way is not always the best way, and our willingness to sublimate our trepidation last evening was the direct cause of our unpleasant night,” he continued to rant, somewhat crossly. After pausing for a moment, he added, somewhat gruffly, “As for Jacob, you are absolutely correct and I, for one, would hate to lose him, no matter how many contractions and Americanisms he teaches us.”
He felt his host stiffen and looked up from the rather delicious brown something they were both enjoying despite his bad mood, into sparkling amethyst eyes. “You have chocolate on your bottom lip and, as tempting as it would be to kiss it off, I find I cannot be bothered with a man or symbiote who cannot see beyond the end of their own nose. Here is a napkin; I hope it feels as soft as the kiss would have, although I have my doubts.” Gwennetha smiled sweetly, turned, and walked away.
Malek and Devlin sat, somewhat stunned, and Lantash and Samantha, seated next to them, looked over at them in surprise. “What was that all about, Malek? I think you were just insulted, although I have a feeling, knowing the Furling politeness that something more is going on here. Perhaps we should have a talk, and I could this time be the one to give you the advice you need.” Lantash was obviously laughing at the look on his friend’s face.
Malek scowled, and then said tersely. “I have no idea what you are talking about, Lantash. She was simply pointing out that I needed to wipe this brown, ah, semi-solid, foodstuff from my lip. That seems a polite thing to do to me.”
“The brown, semi-solid foodstuff is chocolate pudding. Most women don’t offer to kiss it away before changing their minds and giving you a napkin, if a napkin was all they meant to offer in the first place. I wonder what you did to upset her so much. She is much too much like Kataya to let something insignificant bother her, so it must have been something significant,” Sam said thoughtfully, as she gazed at Malek.
“I do not believe it is anyone’s business, but mine, what has occurred between Gwennetha and myself,” Malek said stiffly. Then looking up and catching Lantash’s eyes he said, “however, I do have some things I need to discuss with you, so when you have time, please let me know.”
Sam grinned. “Well, I have to go talk to Kat. Talk to you later,” she said airily, as she leaned across, kissed Lantash lightly, and then headed over to the end of the table where Kataya and Daniel had made themselves comfortable.
Once again, Malek closed his eyes, but this time he added a silent groan. What had happened to his nice, quietly dangerous life? What had he done to deserve this? Why must he choose between being gutted or having chocolate kissed from his lips? Would the disemboweling be worth the kiss? Something told him the answer would be yes, but that he would probably never have the chance to find out now.
“You may as well open your eyes, and tell me what has occurred, Malek. Obviously, you have upset Kataya’s daughter, which may not have been your fault, but from the statement she made, I tend to believe could have been avoided. Care to tell me what that was all about?”
“When you were getting to know Kataya, did you ever dream that Artereos would disembowel your host and rip you from his neck?” Malek asked tersely, avoiding a direct answer.
“Ah, no, I do not believe that I did. I did, however, dream that he broke my host’s neck and then, using his very long sharp incisors, bit me in half, pulled both halves of me out and then crushed me underfoot. I believe I also saw Kataya standing nearby saying I had been a fool to believe her when she told me he would not interfere,” Lantash answered, thoughtfully.
Malek looked pale as he gazed at Lantash. “And after that how did you ever get together with her? How did you ever get past those dreams?” he finally managed to ask.
“I looked into the most beautiful amethyst eyes I had ever seen and realized that lying was not something she would ever do to me or anyone else, unless there was simply no other way. Moreover, I trusted her to know her own father. Which, by the way, she did. She knows Artereos very well, and she was extremely accurate in her prediction of his response. He was overjoyed that she had at last found a Heartmate. I believe you should stop letting your imagination run wild, and begin to listen to what she tells you, instead. In all probability, she knows her parents and grandfather better than most.”
“She says her grandfather will be pleased for her, that he wishes her to take a mate, and that her parents will not interfere. Does that sound logical to you, Lantash? A granddaughter of the House of Artereos allowed to mate with a common soldier?” Malek asked, disquiet in his voice.
“Why not, Malek? The daughter of the House of Artereos was allowed and encouraged to mate with a scholar, not a warrior, as a Soulmate, and a common soldier as a Heartmate. She was encouraged to choose the mate she wished with his blessing. Why should they feel differently about the Granddaughter?” Lantash pointed out, softly.
Malek sat, at a loss for words, as his friend’s statement made its way into his consciousness. Seeing the truth in them he finally said, “I had not even thought of it in that way. Moreover, of course, you are correct. They did not interfere with Daniel or you, why would they disapprove of me?”
“Exactly, Malek. Why indeed? These situations sometimes take someone else to point out the obvious, I am afraid. If it really bothers you, I suggest you go and talk to Merdwin, Artereos, or both. You are not without courage, Malek. Besides, if you find you simply cannot trust her, then perhaps you will hear their words. However, I think that you should trust her. From what I have seen and remember of her, she is much like Kataya, and would no more lead you astray than her mother would.”
“Now, I am afraid I must leave you, for I must stand witness for the man my mate is about to bind herself too.” He laughed shortly. “Life is capricious, is it not? Theirs is a complicated society, Malek, but one thing that is a cornerstone of it is love and respect for all sentient beings, and they take both the mating of souls and hearts very seriously. If she chooses you as a mate, then you and your host will be truly blessed, that I promise you,” Lantash assured him solemnly, before beginning to turn to go to Daniel.
“Lantash,” Malek stopped him, “I thank you. You have always been a good and trusted friend of mine. I am grateful for your counsel in this, old friend.”
“I hope my words have been as much help to you, as yours were to me, for without your counsel, I would not have what I have today, and it is a wondrous thing, just as Kataya promised me it would be.”
He contemplated his friend for a moment in silence, before saying earnestly, “If you have the chance to experience the love of a woman such as she, do not deny it out of fear for what I experienced. The pain can go deep as you know, but I would do it all over again, just the same, even knowing of the pain. I would not have missed the love for anything, Malek. To have missed the pain, I would have had to miss the enchantment, and nothing would be worth missing that. Nothing,” so saying, and smiling slightly, Lantash left his friend and comrade to think.
“Did I understand him correctly, Malek? Did he just say that even if he knew he would have to endure the pain, still he would do it all over again?” Devlin asked.
“Yes. He did. Their love was deep and strong and it reflected onto anyone that was around them. I can still remember seeing Lantash’s face when he would hear her coming down the hall toward their quarters. It is not something you would forget after seeing it, and in fact, it is the same look he gets when he sees Major Carter. Often, Kataya would be singing a new chant and it was as if his face would light from within as he waited for her to enter. She never cared who was there; she always went straight to him and kissed him as if she had not seen him in months, even if it had only been an hour.”
“Most of the time our missions kept us apart so I never got to know Kataya well, but I was with them often enough to know that while she was the light in his life, so was he the light in hers. She is very easy to talk to, you know. Even though I did not know her well, I actually asked her why she greeted him in that manner when they were only apart a short time. She told me that life could be very short or very long. If it was long, then you could enjoy one another for a long time, but if it was short, then one should cherish each moment one had with the loved one. Since we do not know if it will be long or short, one should live as if it would be short,” Malek said softly, as he let the advice roll over him again and knew that this time he would do as she suggested.
“I see. It makes sense, you know. I suspect that we now have someone we need to go find. Do you have any idea where she could be?” Dev asked Malek.
“No, I do not, but perhaps her father would know,” Malek said, as he got up and headed toward Merdwin.
“Her father? Not long ago you were afraid he was going to rip you from my neck,” Devlin reminded him.
“Yes. However, that was before I talked to Lantash, something I should have known to do before letting my imagination run away from me. Now, do be quiet, please,” Malek, returned.
“Merdwin, good morning,” Malek began his greeting, before losing all train of thought, as the gaze that met his became first intense and then amused.
“Malek, good morning,” Merdwin said lightly, then waited to see if this young one, who was so obviously interested in his daughter, would have the nerve or the wits to actually make a request. Watching him gather his scattered thoughts, he was silently amused and then impressed, when Malek came quickly to the point and asked, “Could you tell me where I might find Gwennetha? I would like to speak with her.”
Very good, Merdwin thought to himself, before replying aloud, “Well, as angry as she was at you, I rather think she would be in one of two places. She has either gone into the sanctuary, and attempted to draw peace into her angry center, and thus calm it, or she has gone to the practice area. If that is where she is, then by now, she is trouncing any number of young warriors, who are wondering what has happened to make one of their usually strict, but amiable instructors, become a dictator with a sword of blistering power this morning. If I were you, I would not admit to yourself as the cause for her suddenly caustic tongue and aberrant behavior.” Merdwin watched, as even the symbiote could not keep the flush from rising under his skin. “Sit down. It will be some time before she has managed to control her anger at you enough for you to be able to talk to her.”
“She, ah, does not appear to be the type to get angry in that, um, manner,” Malek said, somewhat haltingly, as he seated himself across from Merdwin.
“Neither does her mother, but I can assure you, as could either Lantash or Daniel, that there are times when even the mates do not know if they are safe with her. I will admit that Daniel is quite intrepid when it comes to that though, and I have never seen him so much as hesitate to confront her.”
“I was unaware of that. I did not know her well, but I do not recall Kataya ever being angry except at Bastet.”
“Ah, now Bastet is in a league of her own. Kataya does not display anger over Bastet; she displays immense fury and rage.”
“Gwennetha is not at that level with you. She is only annoyed actually. Mostly, because you obviously did not believe what she told you. She was correct in what she said to you, Malek. Her mother and I will not interfere as long as we see no reason to. If she takes you to her bed that is her business. She is a grown woman; her sexual choices are her own.”
He watched as Malek paled almost as far as he had been flushed a moment before. “As for taking you as a mate, that too would be her choice, though if we felt she was erring we would discuss it with her. We would not stop her however, for her life is her own, not ours, and she must make her own mistakes. Therefore, you have my blessing to seduce my daughter, or,” Merdwin grinned at him as he stood, “to be seduced by my daughter, whichever the case shall be. I will see you after while. Good luck.” With a cheerful wave at the unmoving man, he walked away.
“Malek, what are we to do? We are in way over our heads,” Devlin gasped, desperately.
“I will not even take the time to say I told you so,” Malek said quietly, as he stood as if in a trance, and walked out the dining room door. Once in the hall, he stood undecided. What now? The training area or the sanctuary? He was not aware of where the training area was, but he could check the sanctuary and, perhaps, if she was there, at least she might be somewhat more approachable.
“Are you lost?” a voice behind him asked. Malek groaned quietly to himself and Devlin. Dear universe, why were the stars all against him this day? Slowly, he turned to face Artereos.
“Not exactly, sir,” Malek replied politely.
Looking at him closely, Artereos said, “You are the Tok’Ra that my granddaughter, Gwennetha, is interested in. I do believe you made her angry this morning. Do not feel bad, young one, for Lantash did much the same to Kataya before he truly understood that we do not interfere in their lives. Nightmares, if I remember correctly, and I am fairly sure I do. I must assume that you have had the same problem because you, too, did not understand that she was correct in her statements.”
“Did you know that before Dayillon, that is, Daniel, asked Kataya to be his Soulmate, I had to actually call him in and tell him that his father and I had arranged their joining between us, and that if he had any problems with the match to take it up with his father?” Artereos smiled, as if reliving a pleasant memory. “Of course, he did not approach his father, he asked her to be his mate as his father, and I, bade him, and then was completely surprised when she said yes. He could not believe she would be interested in him, a simple scholar, or that I would approve.”
“Sometimes, the young do not always see that which is in front of them, you know. And, neither you nor Devlin are very old, after all. She is in the sanctuary attempting to calm her spirit, and by now, she should have succeeded to some degree.”
“Thank you, sir. I appreciate your forthrightness,” Malek said quietly.
“Yes, well, we have found over the millennia that being blunt can circumvent many obstacles that should never be there in the first place. Or,” he continued in a thoughtful tone, “it can cause major headaches if you use it with the wrong people at the wrong time. Sheep, my dear Malek; never underestimate the problems that can arise from sheep.” He shook his head mournfully, possibly contemplating some unhappy event from the past.
“Sheep. Yes, sir, I will be sure to remember that,” Malek returned stoically.
“Perhaps he is a little senile, Malek,” Devlin whispered.
Ignoring Dev, Malek looked at Artereos and said, “Sir, as you are familiar with animals perhaps you could tell me, what exactly is a toad?”
“A toad? Come, I will show you. It will give Gwennetha a little more time to calm her anger before you go to her,” Artereos said, as he started toward a door that led into a library across which were double doors leading out into a garden. As they walked down a path, they came to a stone garden wall that was almost over grown with vines. Artereos suddenly bent down and pulled the vines away to expose a small squat creature with a bumpy skin, four legs, and bulging eyes. “That,” he said, “is a toad. I had no idea you were interested in amphibians,” he said pleasantly.
“I, no, that is, sir,” Malek asked quietly, “who was he?”
“He, who?” Artereos asked, suddenly bewildered.
“The toad, sir, who was he before he was, well before he became a toad?” Malek asked again.
“He was not anyone; he has always been a toad.” Artereos looked at Malek as if wondering if he had, for once, made an error in his judgment.
“So not all toads were people first?” Malek asked, somewhat hesitantly.
“No toads were people first. Where did you get such a ridiculous idea?” Artereos was forced to ask.
“Gwennetha said, that neither her father nor you would turn us into a toad,” his voice slowly died, as he took in the look of unholy glee on Artereos’ face. “It was not a creature I could remember hearing of, although, I now realize, I have seen them, but know them by another name. I take it she was being, ah, facetious,” was the word he finally came up with.
“I believe that would be one polite way to put it,” Artereos finally said, then added, “Neither Merdwin nor I have turned anyone into a toad in many millennia. She is well aware of that.” Looking down at Malek, he laughed heartily.
Finally, Malek joined in sheepishly, as Devlin prodded him to see the humorous side of the situation. “Artereos must have thought we were unhinged. Be glad we explained, so that he did not think that. At least, by seeing the humor you are letting him know we, too, can be amused by the mistakes we can make,” Dev cautioned him.
“Yes, and when you look at it from his perspective, it is humorous. I should have realized she was speaking in jest,” Malek responded.
“I believe I owe her one for that, but something tells me that my hope of ever achieving that will be slight. She will always be at least one step ahead of me, will she not?” Malek finally asked Artereos.
“Yes, but you can at least point out to her that her allusion to that was part of what caused the nightmares, and therefore throw the blame for part of this mornings contretemps, back onto her. And that,” he said, “is the last time I will conspire with you against my Granddaughter.”
Nodding his head at a path in front of them, he told him. “If you follow that path, you will come to a small sanctuary used only by the family. I believe you will find her there. Young Malek, do not fear that which you feel for my Granddaughter. If she should choose you and love you, it will be a wondrous thing, a thing you will always cherish, for once the women of my family love they love forever, into eternity. All you need do is look to her mother and grandmother to see that is truth. Her love, if she gives it to you, will wrap you in a warmth, caring, and promise you will never find with another, I give you my word,” Artereos said to him earnestly.
With that advice, he turned and walked away back into his library. They saw him make his way to the large desk, seat himself, and draw out a tome that looked as if it was indeed ancient. They turned and headed down the path he had indicated.
Quietly, they entered the side door, closing it softly behind them. Her voice startled them, “Hello, Malek, Devlin. To what do I owe the honor of your visit? For I assume you did not find your way to this out of the way room by accident,” she continued, her voice barely above freezing.
Finding his throat trying to close on him, Malek swallowed nervously before saying, “No, we did not find it by accident, as you are well aware. Your grandfather pointed it out to us, after explaining that toads were not at one time people. Right before he laughed himself half to death at my expense,” he said stiffly.
“You do realize,” he continued, keeping Artereos’ advice in mind, “that your allusion to that consequence, and my own misunderstanding of the way things stood, led to the horrendous nightmares I lived through last night. I am sorry I did not believe what you told me. I thought you were simply unaware of what your parents and grandfather would feel and do. Your father and grandfather have since informed me that I am a dolt for not believing you, but they also seemed to understand my hesitancy. Your grandfather told me of Daniel and your mother. It must have been a frightening thing for even him, to aspire to the hand of someone so far above him.”
Gwennetha sighed deeply, before standing and moving toward him, saying, “But, you see, my mother was neither above nor below him, she was his equal, as I am yours. We are men and women just like you. We have hopes, aspirations, and dreams. We live, we love, and we die. We get dressed in the morning and we get undressed at night. We eat and we sleep. The fact that you are a symbiote inside a human body makes you no different than us. You, too, feel and do these things. The only difference is that you are a sentient being in a different form than us, and that makes you beautiful in your own unique way, as we are each beautiful in our own unique way.”
Coming to a stop in front of him, she sighed before asking, “Why have you and Devlin come, Malek? What is it that you want from me?”
“We have come to tell you that we are sorry. I should not have let a few bad dreams so overset me that I was so unbelievably rude to you. I have spoken to Lantash, Merdwin, and your grandfather, and they all assured us that we are fools, something we had begun to figure out for ourselves, but it was comforting to hear that they agreed with our conclusion,” Malek said, the words coming in a rush.
“Tell her you believe we are falling in love with her. Tell her,” Dev coached quickly.
“I, we, believe that we are falling in love with you,” Malek repeated, before he had fully comprehended what Dev had told him to say. “That is,” he began to try to backpedal his way out of his statement, “We both feel the need to get to know you, that we might find we have things in common, perhaps we may come to like one another very well.”
“I preferred your first statement, Malek, it was more honest,” she replied bluntly, her gaze piercing him.
“Yes, it was,” he admitted slowly. “I seem to be very bad at this, but Dev assures me he is no better, so it would do no good for him to speak to you instead,” he said, obviously miserable. “I have never found it so difficult to talk to a woman before, but then I have never before felt there was so much at stake and the outcome so important.” She made no effort to make it any easier on him, simply watching him, her look steady and unwavering as she waited for the rest of the words to come.
Drawing a shaking breath, he closed his eyes for a moment, before opening them to look down into the intense amethyst ones before him, “I am so sorry, Gwennetha. I truly do not know why I am being such an idiot, though my host and everyone else assures me that we are both doing so.”
“What did you dream, Malek?” Gwennetha asked, curiously.
He sighed, and asked, “Are you sure you want to hear this?”
“Yes,” came the firm, brief reply.
“I dreamed of your eyes laughing at me for believing you about your parents. Then I would dream that I was kissing you again, only every time our lips mated, either Artereos or Merdwin would appear, in full Katteri-enti manifestation, and proceed to disembowel Devlin and then rip me from his neck. It was not,” he said, “a very pleasant dream.”
“No, it does not sound like it. Did you have it more than once?” she asked him.
“Every time we fell asleep,” he answered with a sigh.
Laughing slightly, she said, “I am truly sorry I gave you nightmares, Malek, you and Dev. I did not intend to,” she said, her voice becoming softly enticing. “Perhaps you should kiss me again, now, so that the memory will not be so fresh tonight. Perhaps you will not have those dreams anymore,” she murmured as she once again brought his mouth to hers in a soft sweet kiss. A kiss he could not seem to deny. A kiss he had no desire to deny.
He slanted his mouth over hers, reached for her, and brought her body up close to his as he enfolded her in his arms. As the kiss ended, he whispered, his voice husky with desire, “You are intoxicating me, Gwennetha. I want to drink from your lips over and over,” he told her softly. “I cannot get you out of my mind, and I am not even sure I wish to.” He moaned, as she pulled away.
“Much as I would like to continue this discussion, I must go get ready to help during the aural entwining. I am overseeing the priestesses that are in training and helping them. I am sorry, but I must go. You should go to the sanctuary, also, if you plan to be there. You do plan to attend, do you not?”
Nodding, he agreed. “I will see you afterward? You will come out to me, and we will take a walk in the gardens perhaps?”
“Yes, I would like that very much. Thank you. Until after the entwining then. Stay in the sanctuary, and I will come for you when I am finished.”
“I will be there, I promise you. I will not be foolish again, Gwennetha. I, we, want this.”
She gazed intently into his eyes once again, nodded once, and was gone.