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Born of Magic's Fire by Tasha


Part 22 | Bottom

Part 21

Rachel declared that all casualties were suffering from nothing more than exhaustion, cuts and bruises, so it was decided that calling in the paramedics would be an overreaction. Hence, those in a fit state left their friends to sleep and tried to come to terms with what had happened. It wasn't easy, but with the arrival of the daytime staff, and the sudden, unexplained return of the telephones, they managed somehow. They had little idea of what exactly had happened, but there was enough physical evidence to suggest the truth, and the three adults did a great deal of talking. Kat for her part remained strangely silent, but she did tuck into any and all food offered to her, so no one was too worried.

As soon as the phone lines came back up they received an excited call from Rhyanna. It seemed that something remarkable had happened at the circle. At the exact same moment the new entity had disappeared from the Legacy house, the damaged trees had gone through a remarkable generation. Nothing could have saved the two that were destroyed, but those which had had their name designs removed were whole again. This news even managed to raise a smile from Kat.

It was a little after lunch when Alex decided there had been enough talking and she needed to do something. Banging around in her own room seemed like a bad idea, so she began to tidy the hallway outside where Guardian had overturned furniture. She'd just placed a broken chair in a black sack when the sound of a door opening distracted her. The expression on her face was a picture when she saw that it was her bedroom door which had made the sound, and Holland was standing there as naked as the day she was born. The young witch didn't even seem to notice the psychic, she just calmly walked down the corridor to Nick's room and went in.

Now some urges are irresistible, and Alex just had to see what was going on. Holland didn't seem to care about leaving the doors she passed through wide open, and the Legacy member made it to the gap to see the witch reach the bed where Nick was sleeping. The woman lifted the cover in one hand and quite slowly, climbed in. Her bed companion moved to let her lie down and wrapped her in his arms before they both lay still, obviously totally asleep again. Alex just closed the door quietly and decided not to think about it too closely.

Rachel wandered down the hall about half an hour later, a smile on her face. She'd just been to check on Philip and Jasmine and she obviously found something amusing. She went to go into Alex's room when she noticed the door was already opened.

"They're both in there," the psychic offered helpfully and indicated Nick's room.

"Them too," Rachel observed with a grin. "I was just making sure Jasmine was okay and Philip walked right into the room and climbed into the bed. He didn't seem to even notice me."

Alex had to smile back.

"I'm glad it's not just me who's suddenly invisible," she said lightly. "It's not everyday you see naked women wandering around these halls."

"At least Philip had some clothes on," her companion returned with a laugh.

It was just before dinner that the first of the sleepers finally emerged. Derek, Alex, Rachel and Kat had just moved into the dining room when Philip appeared round the corner. He looked somewhat ragged around the edges, but at least he was awake.

"Welcome back to the world of the living," Derek greeted as his friend sat down, "feeling better?"

"Well I think I could sleep for a week," the ex-Priest returned in his gentle Irish lilt, "but it was a battle between that and my stomach. Hunger won out."

The young man retained dark patches under his eyes, but his tone was cheerful enough. When it came time to serve, however, everyone told him to stay put and just passed him his plate. It was as the group began to eat that it became clear there was some confusion as to what exactly had happened that morning.

"Sorry if this isn't the time," Philip started slowly, "but I'm curious, how did you recast the binding spell?"

Everyone looked at him as one. He stopped, his fork halfway to his mouth as he noticed the scrutiny.

"We didn't," Derek explained, "we assumed you had something to do with it, along with Nick and Holland."

Now Philip's memory of events was a little patchy, all he recalled clearly was the initial push to prevent the sigil from cleaving in two. The admission from the others brought a vague thought to the surface of his mind, something to do with Jasmine. He frowned slightly, trying to bring more of the memory to the front of his ruminations.

"What happened after we left?" he asked finally, hoping that something would jog his memory.

The other three adults gladly explained their part in the proceedings. The appearance of Guardian, Nick's possession, the shooting, James, and then the appearance of the new being. Their companion listened in silence, but there wasn't anything that seemed to help.

"I'm very hazy on just about everything," the ex-priest admitted as he was filled in on the second side of the story, "I remember going down to the basement and trying to slow down the division, but after that I get very vague."

"Don't worry," Rachel said with a smile and patted the back of his hand, "it'll probably come back to you later. I don't suppose you remember your walk to Jasmine's room either, and after we tucked you up in your own so nicely."

She couldn't resist it, and she and Alex grinned at each other as Philip went a beautiful shade of pink. Even Derek couldn't contain his smile, the ex-priest did embarrassment so well. He'd had to face innuendoes ever since it became obvious that he and Jasmine were sleeping together, but this rather put the icing on the cake.

"Oh," was all he started to say, and then his cheeks coloured even more as a memory surfaced.

The reference had jogged his muddled thoughts and he suddenly recalled some of the very impure ideas that had been going through his mind that morning. A snapshot of the whole tidal wave that had happened formed in his mind and he couldn't help but be a little hot and bothered. The others were looking at him expectantly, and his eyes flicked to Kat.

"I'll explain later," he said, and tried to concentrate on his food.

He and Derek disappeared soon after the meal was over and they only resurfaced half an hour after that. Now the Precept was beginning to get a fuller picture, and things were becoming clear. They sat down in the living room and firmly turned the conversation away from the morning's activities which would be saved for another time. The high back chairs were very comfortable which turned out to be Philip's downfall. Within five minutes of sitting in one he was asleep again. Alex woe him with a gentle nudge and suggested he go back to bed, he didn't argue.

Nick woke very suddenly, something had moved beside him, something warm and soft. His eyes shot opened and looked to the right, Holland smiled at him.

"Sorry," she said, "I didn't mean to wake you, it's just that my arm has gone to sleep."

The ex-SEAL just looked at her as his thoughts feel over themselves to explain this. He moved slightly and the fact that he was wearing jeans in bed made itself apparent. Everything fell into place, the circle, the library, the bedroom. The bit between the library and the bedroom was a blank, but he definitely remembered the bedroom. He sat up rapidly as the memory of thoughts that weren't quite his raced through his mind. He recalled what he'd done and how he had done it: he was appalled.

"Nick," Holland's voice was gentle and reassuring as her arms snaked around him from behind, "it's all right."

She knew exactly what was going through his head, it was written in every muscle of his body. He tried to pull away, but she wouldn't let go.

"No," she said, "you can't leave. If you get out of this bed now, you'll never get back into one with me, I can feel it. I don't want that."

Her words stopped him, she was right. There was part of him that loved her dearly and was thrilled at the closeness of her body, but there was another part that was afraid. Afraid of what he had been when he first touched her, of the way he enjoyed hurting her.

"We created a new being," the witch would try anything to keep him, "it was what we were supposed to do. There was no other way, Nick."

"But I ..." he started, and turned to face her.

"No," she said firmly, "we did it together. Whatever we did, we did it together."

He remembered her scream, the blinding light and he couldn't help looking down. He saw the sigil and the pounding of his heart slowed just a little. His hand reached out and touched the sign gently, and Holland knew she had pulled him over one barrier. It was time to break the news.

"You have one too," she said quietly, and put her hand on his chest.

It was difficult, but as he looked down at himself he could just about see it.

"Another scar for the collection," he said in a half resolved tone.

"You may have another one to add as well," Holland admitted with an apologetic smile and pointed to his shoulder.

The bite marks were obvious in all their glory and Nick had to laugh, or he would have cried. He still couldn't look her straight in the eye, but at least he wasn't trying to run away.

"I don't know about you," the witch said with a sly grin, "but I kind of enjoyed myself."

The ex-SEAL obviously wasn't sure whether to look totally scandalised or relieved, he eventually went for something somewhere in-between. The fact that his partner had found anything but complete revulsion in the experience was a shock and more than a little weight off his mind. His moral side felt that he had done things that were inexcusable, but the creature he had been when they happened clearly found the events fulfilling and engaging. He was beginning to realise that the same might be true for Holland. When she ran a finger over his chin he finally smiled back at her. It was a tentative smile, but it was real.

"I don't know about you," she said shortly afterwards, "but I need a shower and some food. If my stomach makes itself known any louder they'll pick it up on the moon."

She kissed him firmly on the lips and then bounced out of bed.

"Do you have a robe around here?" she enquired brightly. "I can just see Derek's face if I bump into him in the hall wearing nothing but a smile."

"It used to be on the back of the wardrobe door," he told her with a grin that just wouldn't be held back, "but looking at this room it could be anywhere."

Guardian had not done quite such a number on Nick's abode as he had on Alex's, but all the draws had been opened and their contents dumped in various places. However, Holland soon found the robe under her lover's upturned gun box, and slipped it on.

"Now," she said with a smile, "where's the bathroom?"

Nick's plan was to sneak down to the kitchen, find something to eat, and hopefully get back to his room without having to talk to anyone. He knew there were going to be questions to answer, and he really didn't want anything to do with them now. Holland, on the other hand, had an entirely different idea about events. The ex-SEAL found himself dragged in the direction of the living room, and he didn't have a chance to object. He at least tried not to look too reticent as the witch led him into the room.

It was quite late, and Kat had been put to bed an hour or so previously, leaving the adults to relax by themselves. Everyone, including Alex, looked surprised to see Nick and Holland in the room.

"Evening," the witch greeted brightly, "we were just on the way to the kitchen with an attack of the munchies, and thought we'd say hello on the way."

She looked a little ridiculous in a pair of Nick's exercise shorts and sweatshirt that were way too big for her, but something about her seemed to glow. Whatever it may have entailed, Holland seemed to have come out very well from her recent experiences.

"Well, you're looking surprisingly awake," Alex chose a light note on which to start, "we were going to enter you for the sleeping world record."

The banter continued between the two women, but Nick wasn't really listening. There were too many thoughts going around in his head for him to concentrate on much else, and his awkwardness with the situation leant itself to using the barrier to ignore it. Derek had obviously spoken to him more than once by the time he realised that anything had been sent in his direction.

"Nick, are you all right?" were the first words that seeped into his mind, and he blinked at his precept as he noticed him.

"Ah, yeah," he replied and tried to reign in his rampaging brain, "fine."

He didn't elaborate, and all his friends recognised the signs that said he really didn't want to talk about it right now. It was late, there was nothing that could be gained from questions now, so all three seated people, calmly let the matter drop.

"If you don't mind the company," Alex changed the subject quickly, "I was thinking of heading down for a snack myself."

"Not at all," Holland was not about to let Nick sour her mood, "but I don't guarantee they'll be anything left if I get to the refrigerator first."

End of Part 21
Part 22 Epilogue

It was a fabulous day, the sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and all of nature seemed to be at peace. It had taken a good week to get the Legacy house back in order, and they were still finding pieces of things behind radiators and under furniture. The people, however, were in much better condition.

Kat had come out of her silence the day after the incident, and was back to her cheerful self. Philip and Jasmine were what Nick termed `sickeningly happy', and had discovered that they too now bore smaller versions of the sigil they had been trying to save. The ex- priest's mark was just over his heart, and his lover's was in exactly the same place as Holland's. The two women seemed to enjoy this fact. The person who had taken longest to bounce back was Nick, but after the group had talked everything through, and Holland had asked very nicely if she might be allowed to stay around for a while, he had perked up considerably. Derek had quietly asked the witch if she would like to become a member of the Legacy, and the coven sadly let her go when she said yes.

All this and more had happened during the week, and the San Francisco Legacy house had been honoured when the SFU coven invited them to be present at the restoration ceremony for the circle. They were all there, Derek, Rachel and Kat between the south westerly trees, Nick with his arms around Holland, one gap round, Alex, Philip and Jasmine one on from that. The other spaces were filled with coven members, and four of their number stood in the centre with two saplings.

There were no words in this ceremony, but it was incredibly beautiful as Rhyanna and Sam, Marie and Paul, took their assigned trees, and bonded the new growth into the old. Under their care, and the power of the reborn circle, roots reached out with incredible speed and burrowed into the power source. It would be a long time before these trees were as strong and as large as those they replaced, but even as the small plants touched their new home, pale signs appeared on their bark. They may have been juvenile, but they could channel the same power, and as they bonded completely, even Nick felt something in the surroundings shift. It was quite a profound experience to feel life return to a place, and it left all with the deepest knowledge that everything was back where it should be. More than one person turned to their friends and threw there arms around them.

The End