On the tree top,
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
And down will fall baby
Cradle and all.
So mother used to sing to me as a baby, and later, to my brother, Gilbert. I suspect my memories of it are more from hearing her sing to Gilbert, as I could scarcely been old enough to remember it when I was a baby. Even so, the words, and the tune were as familiar and comforting as Mother’s voice, her touch and her scent.
And now, the words come back to me, in a somewhat bizarre fashion, and I can but hope that only the first half will be true. Those words have a much more personal meaning now. Especially the bit about the tree.
Gwyneth is no longer with child. Or, perhaps I should say, she is no longer carrying her children. Given what happened the first four times that Alexandra fell pregnant, I do not care for the former way of putting it. Our children are safe and well, at least, I have to trust that they are, but she no longer carries them.
I gave myself time away from my duties to head into faerie, revelling in the fact that I no longer had to request guidance from Royce or suffer the discomfort of making a portal. I took myself across to Ardan in the hope of finding my love there. She was not around at first, which gave me time to appreciate what Ardan had become. He seemed bigger, brighter, taller, and more alive than ever before. Perhaps he too revels in being once more in faerie. He had also acquired some decorations, though it was far from the Christmas season. Elaborate, crystal decorations, three in number. Two were green and one was purple. They hung high and bright in Ardan’s branches, so high that I had to fly up to see them properly. And when I did so, they seemed to pulse with light, almost as though they had some life of their own. Which, I learned shortly after, they did.
I returned to the ground and found Gwyn there. We took time to greet each others as lovers should, for it had been some while since we had managed time together. We spoke of the move, and of the possible risks of the villagers straying too far into faerie and what we could do about it. I apologised for missing the midsummer celebrations, explaining that I had gotten myself lost in the mists. Then, I asked about the decorations.
“They are our children,” she said, with a note of wonder in her voice. It had happened at midsummer, she told me. There had been a burst of magical energy, the crystals had appeared and she had felt different, no longer sick, no longer weary, and that presence in her own body gone. She did not entirely know what had happened. Perhaps Ardan had heard her heartfelt wish that she should not have to be pregnant, perhaps the fae magic heard her. She was not entirely sure, only that it had happened. Well, Janus had said it was possible.
She said that she thought it was perhaps two girls and one boy, that being the reason for the colour difference. I allowed that this was possible, but also suggested that possibly Seelie and Unseelie, which was also a possible reason, although unlikely, given the union of the courts. I told her then of my dream, of my meeting with Faermorn, and what she had told me. I didn’t tell her what passed at the end of that dream, but then, I am not entirely sure myself. Perhaps, I said, in light of what Faermorn had said, it was possible that the colour difference was because of there being two fathers. Perhaps one colour was my offspring and the other colour the offspring of Janus. It was as good an explanation as any other. Gwyn said she did not really care, although she probably should, at least, in time for the… birth, ripening, whatever. Of that, we had no idea. I commented that my old biology teacher at school, Doc Dennison, would have had a lot of trouble explaining this reproductive process. Not that he had been greatly keen on explaining that of mammals, much less humans, largely leaving us to fathom it out from a dissected rat. We neither of us knew how the children would be born, or when. We were not even sure that they would be born as babies, or older, maybe even fully grown. There were too many unknown factors – Gwyn’s accelerated progress into fae sexual maturity, her and Janus’ accelerated promotion to royalty, my unknown status as a living fae vampire… And then the mystery that is Ardan. All we could do was hope, and look forward to the birthing, whatever form that might take.
We spoke then of other things. We spoke of Aoibheann’s disappearances and what we could do about it. Gwyn pointed out a portion of the Summerland that she suspected was occupied by the Huntsman, or at least, the remnants of him, which might be one of the places that she would go. I marked that as a place to warn the villagers about, or at least those who were allowed to venture out of the village. We spoke also of the possible contents of the accords. We agreed that the rules we had previously agreed for the approved foragers would have to do for now. Conversation dwindled into topics important only to lovers then. I would have stayed, but I had things to do at the castle, and so we parted, reluctantly, until such time as we had more leisure for each other. Maybe even time at our cottage by the sea.