Chapter Five Summary: Gwennetha explains the consequences of Malek and Devlin's proposal. They are surprised, but delighted at her news and have no qualms about going through the declaration with her. Gwennetha accepts their proposal. Later: Malek is angry with himself and his team after a much smaller force thoroughly trounces them. Sam, Kataya, Merdwin, and Gwennetha do some sword practice and Malek wins a bet. Warning: somewhat graphic loving follows Malek and Devlin's proposal is accepted.
Sevesh’en Twine Animaetcoeura – Rite of the Soulmates – the Entwining and Joining of Both Heart and Soul Amat Wyn – My Love Aima Coeurawyn – Blood of My Heart Coeurawyn – My Heart Igisadonis Animawyn- Beloved of My Soul Carusawyn – My Dear One, or My Dearest One "Italics" - Symbiote-Host or Telepathic Communication
“You must both understand that if I answer yes, it will be for eternity, Malek,” Gwennetha said once again.
Shaking his head, Malek said, “But, neither Dev nor I are Furling, Gwennetha. We will have only this lifetime.”
“No,” she replied, “You do not understand. If I accept you, and we then join, by either the rite of Sevesh’en Twine Animaetcoeura or by declaration, then we will be mated for eternity. We will search for each other in each lifetime for all time.”
“You are correct. I do not understand,” he stated firmly.
“Once a Furling is joined and mated to a non-Furling mate, that mate will be taken into the All at death, and from that time on they will be reborn in the manner of a Furling. Furlings mate for eternity Malek,” she repeated. “Being reborn is not generally negotiable, I am afraid, although there are exceptions.”
He sat, stunned, before asking, “Are you telling me that Lantash and Martouf will return after death?”
“Eventually, yes,” she replied. “Lantash mated by ritual to my mother and verbally to Samantha.”
“Will they come back the same? I mean, as two beings in one body?” He asked, still stunned.
“If they chose to do so, then yes,” she said quietly, as she watched him try to assimilate the information she was giving him. “The form they return in will be up to them. They can become one blended soul if they chose and be born back into Martouf’s body or Lantash’s, or they could both retain their individual bodies and be reborn exactly as they are now, still in Martouf’s body. Should one die and the other not, it becomes a little more complicated, but I have never heard of a case where it was not worked out satisfactorily.”
Gwennetha hesitated for a moment before asking quietly, “Malek, do you know about Dominic and Lantash? I am speaking of Dominic's choice when he died. It was an... unusual request. It is rarely allowed, actually, which is why my mother could be absolutely sure that it was what Dominic truly desired.”
“Normally when two choose to become one...they become a blend of the two, with personality, needs, and desires of both incorporated into the one being. Even the conflicts and dislikes, are worked through. It would not do to have one personality that is conflicted within and at war with itself. She smiled somewhat wryly, saying, “So if one of you loved, say, port and one loved mead, which in your case you do, then the blended personality would in all probability choose to like both equally well. If one of you hated, oh, raw oysters, and one loved them, then you could choose to become neutral about them, neither particularly liking nor disliking them or you might agree to have either the like or dislike of them completely removed from the blended personality.”
Pausing as she quite obviously contemplated the intricacies involved, “It is actually a very complicated and rather long process to work all of these things out between the two personalities, as the two personalities work through each conflict individually. In the end, you will either both like them, both dislike them, or not care one way or the other. That is not what happened with Lantash and Dominic. Dominic chose to become one with Lantash, rather than to blend with him. It is why Lantash was not aware of Dominic. Dominic became Lantash with but a few of his traits transferred to Lantash, his love of my mother being one of those things.”
“I am telling you this so that you will understand some of the options that would be open to you upon rebirth. Other than being as you are now that is. Whichever you decided to be, either Devlin or you, Malek, if you wished to blend, it would be done this way, blending the two of you into one,” she frowned as she gave her next words thought. “I suppose the best way to explain it is that you would be born into whichever body you chose, as if you are a new being with both personalities blended quite perfectly into one being. Therefore, you subsume one another, if that makes sense to you. From those who have needed to make these choices, most decide to come back as they are now, two distinct personalities, each with their own body. The usual reason given is that the partner loves both exactly as they are, so why change it. However, you should be aware that there has never been a partner who did not love the blended being just as much as they loved the individuals, so in the end it comes to the point of being the personal preferences of the two involved.”
Malek swallowed, and then asked, “So, if your answer is yes, you are telling me that Dev and I will have to make that same decision? That we will truly be your mates into eternity, just as I asked you to be?”
“Yes,” was the stark reply. Then she added, “So please be very sure you wish for that, before I answer.”
“Devlin, do you wish…?” Malek began his question to Devlin, only to have him reply before he could finish.
“Yes. I believe you know that, so why are you wasting time asking me?” Devlin asked, on the verge of impatience.
“Because I feel your feelings should be ascertained,” Malek said quietly. “This is more than a lifetime contract, Dev, and not long ago you wanted to play, not bind ourselves to one woman,” he reminded him, gently, realizing that Dev was very anxious, and that his unsettled emotions were causing him to be somewhat abrupt with him.
“That seems like a lifetime ago, and I no longer feel that way. My answer is yes, Malek. Not only will we have this woman forever, we will have one another, also. I cannot think of anything I would wish for more than that. However, what of you? Perhaps you do not wish for that?” Devlin asked, as a wave of doubt assailed him.
“I want both of those things, also, Dev. More than I have ever wanted anything,” Malek assured him.
Looking away from his inner conversation and toward Gwennetha, Malek said, “We are sure, Gwennetha. I will ask you again, so that you are sure of what is being asked of you, if you like,” he offered.
Shaking her head, she said quietly, “No that will not be necessary.” Suddenly, a vision of what Gwennetha had seen in the mirror pushed its way into her mind. Her eyes grew wide as she stared at him and an anguished moan escaped her lips. Dear Universe, what was she to do?
If she said yes, then he would be bound to her and yet, she would not be able to be with him. There was no doubt in her mind that the scenes from the mirror would come to pass if nothing changed them. She could not tell him what she had seen, for to do so could change the outcome, and that must not be changed lest it change for the worse.
Malek looked at her and saw the fear and pain enter her eyes. What had happened? Was she unsure yet? “Gwennetha?” He asked softly. “Are you not yet ready to answer me?”
“Malek, I want to answer you, I do. I am just unsure if it is fair to you to do so,” she finally said, her unease obvious.
“Why, my love? Why would you think it would be unfair to me?”
How much could she say without saying too much or too little? “I want to say yes,” she finally whispered, “but I believe there are things we must discuss first. They are things that you must know about my duties and me, and how they might affect you and Devlin, before you decide for sure that you wish to leave your question waiting for an answer. You may very well decide to retract it.”
Malek frowned, trying to understand. “Are you sure it is not you who are unsure of your feelings for us, Gwennetha?”
“I am not at all unsure of my feelings for you and Devlin, Malek. I love you and wish to be your mate. However, I believe that you may not wish for that once we discuss these things,” she sighed softly, as she came to the conclusion that he would at least have to know that her life was not necessarily her own.
“Malek, Dev, we have talked some of duty and our responsibilities. You must understand that there are times that my duty to my people, and my world, will come before anyone or anything else. We could very well be apart for long periods of time, yet still be living, and if that happens, we would not have the choice that my mother and Lantash had. They were Heartmates.”
“We would be Soulmates, and that tie is almost impossible to break except at death. Only then, before one is reborn, may one choose to dissolve the tie with the bonded Soulmate. If I am called to my people, I will go, Malek, and I could be gone for a very long time. Of course, there would be nothing to stop you from taking a lover, but I do not believe that you, Dev, or I would consider that a viable alternative, at least not at first. Therefore, you must be sure before I agree that you could withstand long absences. I am sorry. Perhaps you and Devlin should think on this and consider what it could mean,” she finished, her voice soft and gentle.
“Dev, do you need to think about this?” Malek asked.
“No, we both know that we took Lantash’s words to heart. He would do it all again, even knowing of the pain. I think we have both realized that we want this, have we not?” Devlin asked.
“Yes, yes, I believe we have. If I say something you disagree with you will tell me at once, do not wait until later,” Malek urged him.
“I promise you I will,” Devlin agreed.
“Gwennetha, Lantash told me not long ago, that I should not hold back because of what he went through. He told me, that even knowing of the pain, he would do it all again, because the love was such a wonderful thing that he would not have missed experiencing it. Dev and I both want to experience that, and we know that the love we hold in our hearts for you is an all-encompassing one. You are everything to us.”
“Both of us understand that you have responsibilities. We, too, have them, and if the Tok’ Ra council sends us on an assignment, we could be gone for long stretches of time. It is even likely that we would be required to go without being able to contact you for long periods. Can you accept that as we must accept your responsibilities and duties?”
“I can, Malek, yes. I have already assured you that I will never try to come between you and your duty to the Tok’Ra,” she replied firmly.
“Then why do you think that we would be any different? We are as willing to accept your duties as you are willing to accept ours,” he said equally firmly.
After searching his eyes for a short time, she said, “If I am needed, if something happens and I must go without speaking to you first, I must know that you will not hold that against me or think that I do not love you. It is possible that something could happen, and I would have no chance to explain, I would simply have to go. I can promise you that I will never do anything to hurt you or Devlin intentionally.”
“I will give you my answer if you can assure me that you will have unwavering faith in my love and my promise that I will return to you. I am not saying I would leave and you would hear nothing from me, but it is possible that it could take time and be a very brief message. Unwavering faith in my love and promise to return to you, Malek, just as I will have unwavering and patient love for you and your promises to me,” she stressed to him.
Malek opened his mouth to say something, only to close it as he heard an exclamation from Devlin. He frowned and asked, “What is it Devlin? What is wrong?”
“Malek, I believe that Gwennetha is not speaking of a nebulous ‘something’ that could happen. I believe she is walking a fine line with us. She is aware of something that she cannot tell us,” Devlin said softly.
“Are you saying she is lying to us by omission, Devlin?” Malek demanded, his voice harsh at the thought of her lying to them when he was so sure that she would not do so.
“No. I definitely am not. I said she cannot tell us, not would not tell us,” Devlin quickly assured him, while pointing out what her believed to be the truth.
“I see. So what do you wish to do, Dev?” Malek asked his friend.
“I believe we can trust her with our lives, Malek. She is asking for our faith in her and her promises. I can give her that. Can you?” Devlin wanted to know. “You are the one with the self-doubts when it comes to her love. I believe she loves you every bit as much, if not more than, she loves me. I have no doubts about her love for either of us,” Dev pointed out gently.
Malek looked into the amethyst eyes watching him and heard Lantash telling him that he had known that Kataya would not lie to him. He also remembered Lantash telling him once that every time she had ever tried to lie to him he had known from the way she acted. Lying simply was not something they were adept at, at least not with their mates.
Looking into Gwennetha’s eyes, Malek realized that the same was true of her. She would not lie to him, not about this. If she pledged her love to him and became his mate, then she would not leave him unless there was no other choice, and he could accept that and give her the faith she asked for. She would never willingly hurt them. That did not mean there would not be times of self-doubt, but in the end, he would remember her promise and know that she would be returning to him as soon as she possibly could.
He smiled at her. “I can accept what you say as truth, Gwennetha, and know that you will always love me and return to me as soon as you can. Dev and I both believe you would never lie to us, you would not hurt us, and that you would not deliberately stay away unless you had no choice. We can accept your duty and responsibilities to your people and your home-world. We can have faith in that love. Our statement to you stands, Aima Coeurawyn.”
“Our dearest love, our blood burns in our veins with a fire and passion for you that we cannot deny. Our hearts and our souls are incomplete without you. You are the woman, the mate. It is our wish that you become ours for eternity. Our most ardent desire is for our souls and hearts to entwine and join and for you to become our eternal mate. We have such love for thee, Blood of our Heart. Come to us, join us, and walk with us into eternity,” Malek repeated the declaration softly.
Knowing that she had no wish to refuse him, and hoping she was doing the right thing, she nodded as she clasped his hands tightly, and said softly, “My loves; You are the Beloved of my Soul. You are the other half of my soul and my heart. You are the man, the mates. It is my wish that you become mine for eternity. I, too, ardently desire that we entwine our hearts and souls and I join you as your eternal mate. I, too, have such love for thee, Beloved of my Soul. I will come to you, join you, and walk with you into eternity. Both of you, for my love for each of you is eternal,” She assured them.
Leaning toward him, she brought their lips together to seal her promise to him. Gently he took her into his arms and cradled her next to his heart. Dear universe, she had said yes. They would be together forever.
“What are the words of the declaration, Gwennetha? I want you bound to me so that you cannot change your mind.” He heard her laugh softly before she whispered the words to him.
Holding her away from him, he looked into her eyes as he said softly, “Blood of My Heart, Beloved of My Soul, I come to thee. You are my heart and my soul, for now and through all eternity.”
Holding his gaze steadily she said to him, “Beloved of my Soul, Blood of My Heart, I come to thee. You are my soul and my heart, for now and through all eternity.”
He pulled her back to rest against his chest and lay back onto the bed with her still in his arms. Reaching down he pulled the comforter up and around her shoulders. Cradling her next to his heart, he kissed her forehead softly.
He laughed softly, almost to himself and Gwennetha looked up at him. “What is amusing you, Malek? Is Devlin talking to you? She asked.
“No, actually he is relaxing and enjoying us holding you in our arms. As for what I was laughing about, well, I was remembering the wedding of Martouf and Lantash to Samantha a few days ago, and the ritual of throwing the garter, which, if you will remember, we caught. Tau’ri tradition says that the one who catches the garter will be married within the year. It must have had a powerful effect, my love, for here we are after only a few days, and we are bonded. I was thinking that Jacob and Jocasta would be next for they caught the second one; the one Martouf threw. We should warn him of the power of this tradition, do you not agree?” He teased her gently, as he reveled in the feel of her in his arms in this intimate way.
He felt rather than saw her smile, but he could hear it in her voice as she agreed, “Indeed, I believe you should warn Jacob first thing in the morning that the piece of satin and lace he was wearing on his arm is a powerful charm that will bring him to take a mate. But, you should also tell him that it will bring much happiness, also, do you not agree?” She challenged him.
“Yes, I agree. I will be sure to pass that information to him first thing.” He agreed, as they lay quietly remembering the wedding that had taken place a few days earlier. Malek had been best man, and Martouf, Lantash, and Samantha Carter had joined one another by the rites of the Tau’ri and the Tok’Ra. Artereos had declared that the Furling joining ritual would wait until after the great battle was over. Malek knew from the Heartmate joining that Lantash and Kataya had gone through that it would be a profound event. He was looking forward to going through the Soulmate ritual with his Gwennetha.
As they lay close together and enjoyed the feeling of warmth and comfort that existed, he became aware of her fingers gently rubbing the back of his neck. Catching his breath, he reached up and removed her fingers. “You are playing with fire, my love,” Malek whispered softly. “If you continue to do that I will not be able to stop myself from making love to you.”
“We are mated, Malek. Why would you wish to stop yourself?” Gwennetha asked him, her voice equally soft.
Malek froze. They were mated. “I suggest you get busy, Malek. This is that for which we have been aching. It has caused us numerous cold showers. What is wrong?” Dev asked.
“I do not know. I do not believe I have actually absorbed the fact that we are mated,” Malek replied.
“Malek, you were injured quite badly. Perhaps you are correct and we should wait. You need to rest.” He heard her say.
“I feel fine, Coeurawyn. But, I think that there is perhaps something I need to talk to you about.”
“What is that?”
Clearing his throat, Malek said hesitantly, “Gwennetha, I have been mated before. I mean I have had a bonded mate. Several, in fact. Have you, were you ever, that is…” he stopped and flushed. “I am sorry. Please forget I asked.” His lips quirked in a half-smile of self-derision, “Or forget I attempted to ask.”
“I have never had a bonded mate, Malek. I have, however, taken lovers. I hope this is not a problem for you because we have said our vows as Soulmates,” Gwennetha said, as she pulled out of his arms, sat up, and looked down at him.
“No, it is not. I was just curious. And, although I was fairly sure you had mated before, I wanted to, well I just wondered before we, that is I needed to know if,” Malek sighed, and closed his eyes briefly wondering what was the matter with him that he could not finish a simple inquiry. “I did not want to hurt you, Amat Wyn,” he finally managed to say.
Gwennetha laughed indulgently, before saying, “That is very thoughtful of you and Devlin. You need not worry for you will not hurt me in any way. Come to me, my love, and show me your passion,” she whispered, as she leaned over him to kiss him.
Malek moaned, a sound he heard repeated from Devlin. His lips captured hers, and soon they were lost to this world as they entered the realm made up of the heated passion that burned and consumed them. The realm that was the fire of their love.
“Dear universe, Gwennetha,” Malek moaned, against her throat, “I want you so. I have wanted you from the first moment I saw you. Never has a woman burned in my blood the way you do.”
Gwennetha moved her hand to the bottom of his t-shirt, and grasping it, she made short work of convincing him it should not be there. Rising above him, she allowed her hands to play lightly along the lean, muscular planes of his chest and abdomen. She watched as his skin rose in little bumps as if he was chilled. As each muscle she trailed her fingertips over bunched and rippled, she smiled the secret smile all women have smiled from the Myst time to the present.
It was a smile that said she was comfortable and aware of her power over this man and his body. She could give him intense sensual pleasure, she knew it, and she reveled in her power, even as she knew that his was the power over her body. The smile also acknowledged his ability to reduce her to trembling need to match the need she would induce in him. They were partners and masters each to and of the other.
Following her fingers-tips, she allowed her lips to leave a trail of fire from his abdomen to his throat and back to tease across his chest stopping to nibble and suckle here and there, first one nipple and then the other. On her next foray downwards, she came to the barrier of his sweats and in moments, they joined the shirt upon the floor. He was as beautiful as she had known he would be. Very slender, he had a wiry strength and sculpted muscle. Each and every muscle tightened and rippled as she first touched and then kissed, nibbled, and teased them.
As she breathed on them took him into the heated wetness of her mouth, she heard his quick indrawn breath and the grasping and twisting of the comforter in his fists. Running her tongue against the tip, she slipped it in and out, licking and sucking on him, until his hips began to thrust upwards, attempting to increase her rhythm.
She held him at the same pace, slowly loving him, but she began drawing him in more deeply and bringing him farther and farther down the road toward a mind-blowing climax. Having no intention of allowing that to happen, when she heard him moan her name yet again, sounding desperate, as his body began to show the signs of that impending climax, she left the bed and, standing beside it, she removed her gown in one fluid move.
She rejoined him, but when he attempted to become the aggressor, she pushed him back down gently and straddling him, she lowered herself to his chest. He needed no other invitation and reaching for her, he brought her to his mouth, his tongue reaching for her as soon as she was close enough. Delving into the honey he found there, he breathed in deeply, enjoying the scent of her womanhood, wanting to taste of her. He wished he could devour her more than he would have thought possible.
It was a heady sensation and he reveled in it. He was lapping her in time to the strokes she was applying to Malek. He reached for her to bring her hips even closer to him and was surprised to find her clasping his wrists and holding his arms away from her above his head as she brought her legs up and over his arms to help hold him in place. He could, of course, overcome her in a moment, but he would not use his superior strength to stop her. Not when this was so delicious a position in which to be. He moaned deeply, for in order for her to keep his hands from her, she had to stop caressing Malek and she had raised herself to the point where she was barely within his reach, tantalizingly close then farther away and then back again. He lost track of time as she gave and took and gave again.
Devlin came fore and took Malek’s place. He could feel his manhood jerk, and he realized that his hips were searching for relief but finding none. As if she, too, realized what he needed, she slowly slid her body down his, lowering his arms somewhat, but stretching out full length on him, before settling the wetness of her womanhood on top of his shaft. He moaned as he realized she did not intend to let him enter her yet. She was simply rubbing along his length with her heat and wetness.
He switched with Malek, yet again. Both felt as if they were slowly losing their minds to the desire she was raising in them. The lovemaking they had indulged in before now had not prepared them for anything like this need that lived within them for this woman. They knew during the times that they spent together, but stopped short of fully taking her, that they desired her and would probably find themselves in a very satisfying sexual relationship when they finally consummated it. They were not prepared for the vixen who was teasing them to a point beyond reason, to a place where they would—snap.
Dear universe, he was on fire and he knew that soon he would not be able to stop himself from becoming the aggressor and taking her as he so badly wished to do. What this woman could do to them was bewitching, and both of them found themselves enchanted by her, by the feel of her body on theirs, and by the look of love—and lust—in her eyes. She was calling them now, taunting them, daring them. Suddenly, it occurred to them that she was deliberately teasing them to breaking point. She wanted them to break free of her and claim her for themselves. It would take little more and they would have no choice but to do so.
Finally releasing them, one of her hands made its way down their body to cup and massage them gently, while her other hand began to once again caress and stimulate Malek. The double assault was the final bit of tension their self-control could take and suddenly snapped. They heard her laugh softly and tauntingly, as they took control at last and rolled her over, bringing her under them, pinning her to the bed as their mouth sought and ravished hers. The taste of each of them on the other was extremely erotic. From her lips, they sought her throat, shivering in response to her slight shudder and moan of need as they sucked and nipped her lightly.
Stars of Fire, they could hear her purring, rumbling deep in her throat and chest, and it was one of the sexiest sounds they had ever heard. They could feel her building toward a climax as they rubbed their shaft against her clit and worked on her, as she had done to them. The only problem with that was that they were also driving themselves towards their climax in the same way.
Raising himself above her, to stop the sensual torment he was putting himself, as much as her, through; it was his turn to explore and worship with his hands and lips. She watched as Devlin came to take control yet again. They were switching back and forth more quickly now, both of them reveling in the feel of her and what she did to them, neither having enough control to continue as long as they would like to. She once more placed one hand on the back of their neck pleasuring Malek and therefore Devlin while the other slipped downward to play along his body and his shaft. As she pleasured them, she heard a moan and knew that it was this time from her, as well as them.
They were about to join for the first time and she wanted him, needed him. He was the passion that was feeding the fire that was building in them. She brought his mouth to hers and told him “Devlin, I need you. I need you now. I am yours and you are mine. Now and forever. Beloved of my Soul, Blood of My Heart, I come to thee. You are my soul and my heart, for now and through all eternity,” she whispered her vows to him.
Holding himself above her, wanting her and needing her, still, he waited until he too could say what he wished to say before taking her. “Gwennetha, I am yours and you are mine. Now and forever. Blood of my Heart and Beloved of My Soul, I come to thee. You are my soul and my heart, for now and through all eternity,” he whispered their vows to her, and then he felt her guide them to where they wanted and needed to be. He knew as he sank himself into the heated passion that was her body that at last they were complete, he and Malek. More complete than they had ever been. Only this woman could bring him to this state of wholeness and completion. He knew this with absolute certainty.
Malek slipped back into control and took over to try to slow the steady climb to the zenith of their actions, but even he was no proof against the pull and heat of her body. He was sheathed deep in her heated wetness and was fast losing what little control she had left him. She was wild in his arms, and he lost himself in her embrace. The stars coalesced and exploded for him as he fell over the edge into the wonder of the heavens.
He felt the wetness of her tears and the velvet softness of her kisses as she lay beneath him. Pulling in a shaky breath, he slowly raised himself to look down into her eyes. “Are you all right, Amat Wyn? Did I hurt you?”
Her smile spoke of the contentment of a well-sated lover, “No, you did not hurt me, you took me to the stars, and it was so beautiful it moved me to tears. It was as wonderful as I have known it would be from the moment I saw you and felt the pull of you on my heart and soul. I love you, Malek. I love you, Devlin. Always,” she murmured softly as she wrapped her arms around them. “Always, my loves.”
Sliding over to lie next to her, he reached down and drew the covers up and over them. Kissing her gently, he breathed in the scent that was Gwennetha and murmured back to her, as his eyes slowly closed, and he headed toward a peaceful sleep, “As we love you, Gwennetha. Our love. Always.”
Malek did not believe that he had ever felt this much fury other than toward the Goa’uld. Caught completely off-guard, his team, including himself, found themselves taken out in a matter of minutes, along with all the other teams. All, that is, except for Gwennetha, Lanwin, and Colwyn. They held their own, even though they were the last ones standing against the surprise assault.
He came back to consciousness, after a shot from an Intar took him down, to see Gwennetha locked in battle with her father. She did not stand a chance against him, she told him later. Nevertheless, her eyes were shining as she told him how exhilarating it was to battle him. It had been a long time since they had matched swords, and she had enjoyed the challenge. He was glad that one of them enjoyed the exercise and he was quite proud of her, but he fervently wished they had been paying attention to what was going on around them. As the Tau’ri told him later, the assault caught them with their pants down. It was an odd phrase; however, even though it was somewhat obscure to the Tok’Ra, still, the meaning was plain. It was even plainer after one of the men on his team explained it more fully. It was definitely appropriate. The results could not have been worse, if their pants being around their ankles truly hobbled them.
He knew there were problems in the teams, but he did not realize how severe they were. When Kataya, Colonel O’Neill, and Jacob finished ripping them up one side and down the other, he knew that things would change. He did not know, within his team, what the true problem was, but they had less than two weeks in which to find it. That was all the time Kataya had given her people and Jacob and O’Neill had concurred. He called a meeting of his team, once the chewing out they all received was over.
He asked each and every member of his team what he or she thought the problem was. It boiled down to a mistrust of the link by the Tok’Ra and Tau’ri. They were not allowing the information to flow. The Katteri had kept it open, but she could not force them to use it. The very small assault team caught them so off guard that the Katteri in charge of their shield was the first one taken out, before they even knew what was happening. They were completely out maneuvered and overpowered by a much smaller force.
It came about because of the poor performance the practice sessions were turning out. Kataya and Samantha returned from Avilion and planned the attack. Eight people took out over sixty armed soldiers and warriors. It had been a salutary lesson to them, and it certainly forced them to talk about the problems among themselves.
The Katteri handling the link finally became angry, and forcefully showed them all what it would be like if she, or anyone else, was accessing their inner thoughts without their permission and cooperation. It was an extremely obvious and unpleasant sensation and thankfully, she only did it briefly. It served its purpose however because it showed all of them that the link was not the same as someone forcing their way into their thoughts and mind. It was a lesson they needed to learn and he was grateful that she finally became exasperated and angry enough to do it. The Tau’ri had been the first to apologize to her; the Tok’Ra had followed their lead.
It also brought them to a point of finally talking to one another on a level that allowed them to realize that one problem they did not have was a distrust of one another or any personality conflicts. They all agreed that the biggest problem they felt they had was in distrusting the link, and now they felt confident they could do better. He formed them into a group, and they went through some of the training exercises again.
They did much better in just the one session. If they kept improving, at that rate, they would be ready for the battle with Bastet’s forces. They only had five weeks in which to become battle ready, and Jacob, O’Neill, and Kataya gave them fair warning; there could be no mistakes. They had to be perfect within each group. Eight people working as if they were one entity. They would do it, he resolved, even if he had to call extra training sessions. They would know in a few days if they were going to be able to do it without that having to happen.
Standing in the shower as the hot water beat down on Malek, Devlin smiled at his moan of pleasure. “Gwennetha is waiting on us, Malek, and I am hungry. Have you recovered from the shock of being trounced so soundly yet?” Devlin asked.
“No, I have not recovered. I agree with Jacob. Since when did we become so oblivious that we did not realize that there was something unusual going on? Looking back, it was quite obvious. O’Neill, Martouf, and Daniel were all carrying weapons, as were Jacob and Teal’c, something they only do during exercises, not when they are just walking around observing. Daniel and Martouf were there, and not one of us thought it was odd that they were there, on the day Samantha and Kataya were due to return from Avilion, but they had not come down to the training area with them. We were incompetent idiots. I agree with O’Neill,” Malek said grumpily. “At least one of our team put up a good defense,” he sighed, but the pride he felt in Gwennetha flowed through Devlin.
“She truly was wonderful to watch, was she not? I understand, now, your insistence that she will one day be as adept a warrior as her mother is. The Katteri have practice sessions in the evenings, and there is usually a group watching them. I understand that Kataya and Merdwin are going to be the instructors this evening. I would like to go in case they do any sword work themselves,” Devlin said.
“Gwennetha mentioned it, too. We can go if you like, but first let us go and eat,” Malek agreed to the plans for the evening.
As they left the locker room, they saw Gwennetha waiting patiently in the corridor. When she looked up and saw them, the smile she sent to them, so full of love, took their breath for a moment. Dear universe, but she was lovely—and she was theirs. “We have yet to tell her parents that she now belongs to us, Malek,” Dev said, sounding suddenly very serious and almost apprehensive.
Malek frowned at the thought, as he answered Devlin, “Yes, and we should do so as soon as possible I suppose.”
“What is wrong, Malek? Why are you frowning so fiercely?” Gwennetha asked them as they came up to her in the hallway.
“I need to tell your father and mother that we are bonded mates before they realize you are now staying in my room,” he said quietly.
“Oh, do not worry about that. My father already knows, and he will have told my mother. I told him the day I went to Avilion that I would soon be bringing my mate home. In fact, he is the one who told me the words you would say when you asked me to be your mate, if we were truly meant to be Soulmates,” she answered.
Malek stopped in the middle of the hall. “What? That is why you went to Avilion that day? To talk to you father?” He asked, looking dazed.
“Well, actually I went to spend time in the sanctuary, hoping to be able to come to a decision about you. It did not help, but my father and I talked, and he told me what I needed to know. As soon as he said the words, I knew. I felt the answer come to me at once. That is why I was so, well, surprised, and overwhelmed when you used the actual words he had told me. Almost word for word, Malek, except that you used the plural we and our instead of the singular I and my.”
“He truly set my heart and mind at ease, Amat Wyn. The All sends the words to the Soulmate when the time is right. I did not know what they were, either, until my father told me, and he did not tell me the words I should use to respond, but it did not matter for they came to me, just as they came to you. This is how I knew that we are indeed meant to be joined.”
They began to walk slowly down the hall again as Gwennetha continued to explain, “I told him I was having trouble knowing if we were truly mates because I no longer had the feelings about you that I had at first. All I wanted to do was take you to my bed, but I thought there should be more to being a Soulmate than lust. He assured me that once we had declared to one another it would seem the most perfect and natural thing in the world as well as the most wonderful mating I had ever known. And it was,” she finished softly, her eyes glowing as they looked up into his. “I love you, Igisadonis Animawyn.”
“I love you also, Coeurawyn, but perhaps we should, ah move out of the middle of the hall,” Malek said, firmly taking her hand and leading her to a deserted storeroom. Once there he pulled her into his arms and kissed her deeply. “And now that you have given me courage, we will tell your parents. Even if you told him that day, they still do not know that we have actually become bonded mates by the declaration.”
“All right, Carusawyn. After we eat though, for I am hungry and I want to be at the practice session tonight. The rumors say that Samantha and my mother are going to take on Merdwin. I wish to see how Sam is doing now that her sessions with Artereos are finished.”
Sighing, he gave her one last kiss and led her back into the hall. “All right, but later, Aima Coeurawyn, later, I will teach you again of my passion, mine, and Dev’s. Would that please you?”
“Yes, I believe it would. I would like that very much indeed,” she said, as they walked sedately down the hall. Only the slight flush on her cheeks might have given her true thoughts away.
Sam, Kataya, and Merdwin were on the practice platform. The room was full. Everyone had heard of the last session where Kataya and Merdwin had paired to practice. With Sam added to the mix they were expecting some spectacular swordplay.
Malek and Gwennetha made their way to the edge of the platform where Daniel, Martouf, Colonel O’Neill, and Teal’c stood. Malek realized that Jacob and Jocasta were also there, as was Janet. Looking around, he realized he recognized almost everyone there. He watched as Sam, Kataya, and Merdwin stood in the center of the platform and talked to one another. Kataya drew her sword and threw it to the edge of the platform. As they watched, Merdwin moved between her and the sword, but he was still talking quietly to Sam. She stepped away and Merdwin lunged at Kataya, who eluded him, yet allowed him to force her farther from her sword.
The room was quiet, wondering what they were seeing. Suddenly, Kataya whirled away from Merdwin’s next attempt and at the same time called out “Excalya Wyn! Atern! Eteat!” The next thing they knew, the sword was in her hand, and she and Merdwin were locked in combat. They stopped as quickly as they had begun and turned to Sam, who nodded that she understood. While she might, the others watching were not sure they did. That sword had leapt across the platform and into Kataya’s hand.
But there wasn’t time to ponder that at the moment as the three on the platform saluted each other, and Kataya and Sam began a systematic attack on Merdwin. It was soon obvious that the two women knew exactly what the other was about to do. There movements were perfectly matched, and Merdwin was hard pressed to defend against them. After about thirty minutes, they stopped and again stood talking to one another.
Malek looked at Gwennetha and surprised a look of sadness in her eyes. When she realized he was looking at her, she concealed her emotions, but Malek looked back at the people on the platform, and he could not help but wonder what that look meant. That it pertained to those people, or at least one of them, he had no doubt. He also knew she was not going to tell him.
“Malek, how did your meeting with your team go this afternoon?” Daniel asked quietly.
Looking at him sharply, Malek realized his question was a sincere inquiry, not a disguised jab at their incompetence. As if reading Malek’s thoughts, Daniel said, “I am truly interested, and you should not feel bad about what happened. It had to be done to show everyone what was wrong and force them to start talking about it. Kataya feels bad that she had to be away and let things go so far off course, but she also felt that this afternoon’ s confrontation would be the fastest way to bring the problem out into the open.”
Malek sent a wry smile his way, as he said, “At least one of my team members performed creditably. I do not remember the last time I was so angry with myself as well as with others. Kataya was correct, and it did indeed show us what was wrong. It seems that neither the Tok’Ra nor the Tau’ri trusted the link. After trying to explain once again that she would not be entering our minds, she became angry and showed each of us what it would be like if she or anyone else truly entered our minds when we did not wish them to. It was quite obvious, as well as quite unpleasant, so we now know the difference, and I believe that our practice after that incident went much more smoothly. For the first time, I believe we will be able to become the fighting unit we need to be,” Malek answered calmly.
“I believe it will help, too,” Daniel said, before frowning as he looked at the platform.
Following Daniel’s gaze, Malek became aware that Gwennetha was no longer beside him. She had taken a place on the platform beside her mother, Samantha and Merdwin. Two other older Katteri also stood beside them. They were pairing off with a blindfolded opponent. He watched as the teachers worked with these young warriors. The Furling had sent a good mix. There were seasoned Warriors and young newly ranked Warriors, as well as some between the two extremes. He watched as Gwennetha took on her student. As each of the teachers before her had done they allowed at least a few hits before slowly making it more difficult. When it finally reached a point that the student lost their concentration and could no longer sense where their opponent was, they stopped and went into a conference of two. The teacher gave the pointers the younger warriors needed. Next time they would last longer and do better. It was a slow growing of expertise.
Now, they changed position. The teacher became the blindfolded one. It was no surprise when Merdwin trounced his student within a couple of minutes. Kataya also took less than five minutes. Gwennetha took longer, but still she was very good, Malek could tell. Then Samantha stepped out with her blindfold on. Jack was grinning and they were laying bets on how long it would take Sam to take out her opponent. Most were betting on long time periods. Martouf refused to bet as did Daniel, but Jacob took the bet and Malek found himself saying, “It will be less than five minutes.” Why he felt that way he did not know for sure, but he had seen both Merdwin and Kataya take their opponents out within that amount of time. Gwennetha had taken almost ten. Samantha would not have been sent back to the Tau’ri if her abilities were not already formidable.
“You’re on,” Jack laughed, good-naturedly. “She only had three weeks to learn this stuff you know. Sure you don’t want to change your mind?” He asked.
“No, thank you, Colonel, I will stand by my statement. It will be less than five minutes.”
Jack shrugged as the pair on the platform began their combat. Within five minutes, the opponent was indeed down.
Jack turned to Malek after gathering the money that had been bet on the contest. Handing it to him, he asked, “How’d you know Carter could do that? If Gwennetha told you, then you had inside information.”
Malek shook his head, “No one told me, Colonel O’Neill. It stood to reason that since both Kataya and Merdwin took their opponents out in under that amount of time that Major Carter would have the same ability. I believed that if she did not have the needed skills, she would still be on Avilion not here at the SGC.”
Jack grinned, “I’m glad you’re right. It makes me feel better knowing that Carter has those abilities. She’s pretty damn good, huh?” Jack’s pride in his second in command was palatable.
As Gwennetha joined him, he excused himself. They had some people with which they needed to talk. Now was as good a time as any. Taking a deep breath Malek prepared to tell Kataya and Merdwin that they had new sons.