After his disturbing spirit journey into his grandfather's past, Shadow spent what was left of the night lying beside Iola waiting for her to awaken. When she opens her eyes and turns to him, she takes his hand and asks, "Where did you go this time?"
"I saw my grandfather. Reinier," he repeats the name he heard the woman call him, saying it aloud himself for the first time.
Iola winces. "What--what did you see?" she asks, her voice quiet, hesitant, like she doesn't really want to know.
"It wasn't pleasant," Shadow ays, "But whatever it is you're afraid I saw, I don't think this was it. I need you tell me everything you know, Iola."
"There are some things no one should have to know about their family," Iola whispers.
"But you know," Shadow says," And if our sons inherit the Hawksquill gift, they'll know it, too. And I need to know, for Fergus' sake."
Iola nods, "Reinier Landgraab loved Sterren Avendale. And he murdered her."
Shadow closes his eyes, rests his forehead against his wife's. What she says fits in well with what he saw himself, a man broken by rage and grief, and most of all guilt. "My mother can't know this. It would devastate her," he sighs, understanding why Ariel Hawksquill had kept this secret from the Brannons, and why he'd made Iola swear to stay silent about it. "And his descendants hunt us still. Do you think they know we share blood?"
Iola shrugs, "I can't say if Reinier himself ever knew he fathered a child with your grandmother, let alone what MorcuCorp knows. They could just be after your abilities, or your unique ancestry. There are other witches in the world, but none whose gift comes directly from Auberon himself.
Jewel Prynne comes into the shop to as Shadow if he can recommend a good book on pregnancy.
"Totally Preggers is easier to read, but Baby Incoming: Preparing with Vigilance is more informative, if a little drier," Shadow tells her. And he should know, he's read both of them at least five times each over the course of Iola's three pregnancies.
"You dragon," Fergus tells Delaney as they play dollhouse together.
"Sure, I'll be the dragon," she plays along, making a 'rawring' sound as she gestures with her doll. It's just pretend, after all. There's no way Fergus could possibly know the truth.
Shadow tries to treat Fergus like a normal toddler. For the most part Fergus actually seems like a pretty normal toddler, not much different than his brother.
What was his grandmother trying to warn him about? Shadow wonders, doubt creeping in as the days pass without incident. Could it have really just been a dream, and not a true visitation?
Shadow and Iola's third son is born on a snowy night just a few days before the winter solstice. They name him Weylin, which means 'son of the wolf', after one of Shadow's ancestors.
Delaney goes into labor on the same night, just a few hours after Iola Farrell drives her out to the hospital.
Jack had received a text that morning from his brother about Delaney's pregnancy, and had managed to get leave to be there for the birth, arriving just in time to see his daughter, Jillyan, born.
"I wasn't expecting to see you," Delaney comments as they sit together in the backseat of Farrell's car.
"I guess not, considering you didn't tell me you were pregnant," Jack says, keeping his voice soft and level, though there's no way he could keep Farrell from hearing what he said.
Jack keeps quiet as he follows them into the house. No one technically invited him in, but he's always been welcome here, even when he and Delaney were split up.
After Jillyan is tucked into her crib, Jack and Delaney are finally left alone to talk.
"How could you not tell me?" Jack demands.
"You'd just started your training, Jack. I didn't want you to feel like you had to rush back here just to be with me," Delaney says.
"And you didn't think that I'd want to be here, above everything else?" Jack asks.
Delaney frowns. "I didn't think about that," she admits, "I just thought...you sounded so happy on the phone, telling me about this new job you'd got, and the training you'd be going through. I just didn't want to add this burden on you...I'm sorry, Jack. I fucked up again, didn't I?"
Jack takes her hand in his. "Sometimes I wonder where you get these ideas," he says. "You aren't a burden, and our baby isn't a burden. Not when we were seventeen, and not now, either. Everything I do is about you, and about them. And I wouldn't change it, Laney. I wish I had been here while you were pregnant. And I'm here now. For tonight, anyway, I have to be back to the base tomorrow."
"How is the training going?" she asks, holding his hand as they lay together on her bed.
"It's grueling, and I've never had to be up so early in the morning in my life. But they say they're grooming me for command. I have no idea why."
"Don't sell yourself so short, Jack," she chides him gently.
"I just had a baby," she reminds him as he wraps an arm around her, pulling her close for a long kiss.
"I know," he whispers, "I just want to hold you."
Before Jack leaves the next morning, he spends some time with Jilly. His new daughter is the happiest surprise he's ever received, and he'll be eternally grateful toJ esse for getting that text to him in tim to be here for her birth.
Delaney gets up early herself just to see him off.
"We get Snowflake Day off," he tells her, "I'll be back for a few days to be with you."
Peridot comes in from the office with news, but she stands quietly for a moment watching Geoffrey doing his chin ups.
"Do you have something for me?" Geoffrey asks as her silence goes on for too long.
"Horner has returned from leave, and we've uploaded the video we got from his implants," Peridot says.
Geoffrey drops from the bar to face her. "You have it here?"
"I can set it up on your computer if you want to see," she says.
He nods, "I'll take a quick shower while you do that."
"The GPS is working," Geoffrey notes, "They're in a town called Drake's Hollow." The video footage Jack's implanted chip caught doesn't show anythiing else of interest, just the birth of Delaney's child and some non-essential conversation. But the confirmation that it's working as planned is enough to celebrate over.
"We know where the Brannons are; do you want me to go in?"
"No," Geoffrey says, "Even if you disguised yourself, Farrell knows your face too well. And you couldn't get near the Hawksquill woman, they can read your whole history with just a touch. We had the twins in our hands once, and Farrell got them back. They'd stop at nothing if we tried taking any of Shadow's children. But with the information we can get from Jack's implant as they grow up, we'll find a way to get one of them to come to us."
"You're sure you want to drag it out that long?" Peridot asks.
"Mmmhmm," Geoffrey barely answers, watching the video again, of Farrell and Delaney as they bring the new baby home. "He's gotten so old," Geoffrey muses to himself, "It seems like just yesterday that he was infiltrating our lab to steal Aouregan away from us." Geoffrey had watched the video of that rescue here in his bedroom office as well. Aouregan had been under some kind of enchanted sleep, he remembers. They couldn't do anything with her, not even take blood samples while they held her. Then, Farrell came in and woke her with a kiss, like some fairy tale. True love's kiss, Geoffrey thinks, smiling wryly. Fairies have an odd obsession with true love, weaving it into their curses as the condition that makes or breaks it. But how do they know when love is true love? Do they have some understanding of the emotion that mortals cannot grasp?
Geoffrey wheels his chair back away from the desk. "Do you love me?" he asks Peridot.
"Of course I do," she says with a smile.
"I'm serious," he presses, "I don't want you to flatter me or try to placate me, I want the truth."
"That is the truth," she says, not smiling now, matching the gravity of his tone.
"What is love?" he asks her.
"That's a question for the philosophers," she says, trying to laugh the question away.
"I'm not asking about philosophy," Geoffrey presses on, "I want to know what you mean when you say you love me?"
"Well, I guess it started with a crush," Peridot says, reflecting back on her life, "You were an image they held up to me during training, an ideal I was expected to achieve. When I finally got to meet you, work for you, it was like being in the presence of a god. And you are everything they told me you were, brilliant mind, physically perfect. You are my ideal of what man a should be."
"But I could be all that without love entering into it at all," he reasons.
"I do love you, Geoff," she insists, "I'm not poetic enough to describe the way I feel when I'm with you. Or the loneliness I feel when I'm not with you. How do you feel?" she turns the question back at him, "What does love mean to you?"
"That's what I'm trying to understand," he answers. Ever since he took her into his bed, his house, and opened his heart to her, he's started looking for some sign that the curse was broken. Checking the mirror every day for wrinkles that have not appeared, having himself examined closely by his medical staff for any sign of aging. But so far, nothing. True love, he wonders, how will he recognize it if it happens? How would this curse he's under understand it and react to it as the fairy warned him?