Notes & Disclaimers:

This was originally a much longer story, which just kept growing. To make it more manageable, a sequel(s) will be posted that takes place directly after the end of this story. Since I’m flaky that way, I’m going with calling it a ‘cycle’ as opposed to a ‘trilogy’, seeing as the third part of my other trilogy languishes on my hard drive!

This takes place a year after “Misguided Angel”. The incident mentioned with Hakeem takes place in 
Sands of Eternity”.
But it’s not necessary to read either story to read this one.

Thanks to Tammy and April for beta duty!

Other stories in the series can be found on my archive, "Tales From the Darkwood".  We also have an announce list for the Bloodties universe if you'd like to be kept updated on what's new.

All Highlander (Methos) & Forever Knight (LaCroix, Nick, Janette, Divia, Vachon) characters belong to their respective PTBs. Triona, Stephanie and other original characters belong to me and my fellow Bloodties creators.

And last, but most certainly not least: Thanks for reading! And if you liked this story, let me know if you would. It's nice to know if anyone is actually reading :) Thanks!

I’d give this a rating of PG13

Part One in the Old Holly Ridge Farm Cycle

by Ithildin
c. 2006

The soft light through the windows of Old Holly Ridge Farm greeted her as she made her way up the path towards the twelfth century farmhouse on the outskirts of York, the warm glow of 'home' filling her heart. As she pushed open the back door, the familiar Immortal burr of her husband completed the feeling of homecoming. So content was she at that moment in time, that she even imagined the scent of dinner wafting past her as she dropped her book bag and long green raincoat on the bench next to the door. Even though he had thrown himself into the role of  'house husband' since they had come to live here after their honeymoon seven months before, cooking was not one of his many talents, so it had to be her imagination.

The scent caught at her nose again, making her stomach growl. She wasn’t imagining it! It actually smelled... edible. Delicious actually. Maybe she'd walked into the wrong house? That must be it. Laughing to herself, she made her way down the hall towards the kitchen, unbuttoning the dark-rose coloured jacket of her wool crepe suit, revealing a silk camisole top of the same colour beneath. But instead of a peaceful homecoming after a day of teaching Latin and physics, bangs, curses, and a cloud of dust greeted her.

Triona stood, momentarily speechless, in the doorway. All she could make out were a set of jean clad legs sticking out beyond the edge of the stone hearth, the body hidden somewhere inside the fireplace. Then there was a loud crash that made her jump, followed by a cloud of dust and ash issuing from the chimney.

"Ah ha! That's got it," a muffled voice said. More dust followed, a few more bangs, and then the body attached to the long legs became visible as he rolled out from the large hearth, holding a small metal box. Catching sight of Triona, Methos propped himself up against the wall of the fireplace. "It really is that time," he said, glancing out the window across the room, seeming surprised at the darkness outside.

She formulated and then discarded several replies before settling for what she hoped was a suitably disapproving glare. There was stone dust and a fine covering of ash everywhere, over every surface, including Methos. She couldn't tell if his light gray flannel work shirt was supposed to that colour, or if it was dust. His short dark hair wasn't so dark anymore either.

"What?" he asked innocently.

"What?" She threw up her hands. "What do you mean what? Look at the mess! What on earth have you been doing?"

Glancing around the room, he seemed to realize that maybe he'd been a little too enthusiastic in his quest. "I was looking for something I'd left here." He waved the box he still held in his hand.

Triona sighed. She should have known better than to agree to buy a house that Methos had lived in ten centuries before. But she had loved the place at first sight and had decided that she could deal with whatever ghosts might still remain. Perching on the edge of the worn kitchen table, she asked patiently, "And that would be?"

"Oh, a bit of a rainy day stash. Some gold," he opened the box, peering in and moving the contents around with one long finger, "oh, and a very nice emerald." He held it up between two fingers. "Matches your eyes."

"Gee, isn't that fortuitous,” she commented dryly.

He grinned unrepentantly, his hazel green eyes sparkling with laughter. "Isn't it?"

Shaking her head in fond exasperation, she noted, "I hadn't noticed it was raining..." she trailed off, an expectant look on her face.

Methos pushed himself up off the floor. "It was something to do. I wondered if it was still there, the box. I put it there when I built the fireplace."

"You built the fireplace?" she asked, disbelief lacing her voice. The hearth was a massive construct, talking up half the kitchen wall. It even had an inglenook, along with various holes, grates, and shelves that had originally been used for cooking.

"I did!" He walked over to where she sat, dropping a kiss in the tip of her nose, then turning to face the large hearth across from them. “”The original chimney and hearth, at least. The inglenook was added at some later date. When I married Etheldrida, the house still had a fire pit in the center of the hall. I moved us into the twelfth century and built a real fireplace. They'd become quite popular when I'd left London a few years before."

"And why was it you left London for the wilds of York anyway? Angry husband?" she asked, laughing.

"Something like that," he admitted.

"I bet you left a lot of angry husbands in your wake."

"You think so, do you?"

She snorted inelegantly, "Oh, I don't think, I know." Triona shrieked as she was pulled back, finding herself lying across his thighs and cradled in is arms.

"Take it back!" He began to tickle her with one hand, while holding her firmly against his body with his other arm.

"No!" She tried unsuccessfully to break his hold. "You're filthy! My suit! I'm going to be covered in dust!" She shrieked again as his fingers found the spot right under the edge of her ribs that was most ticklish.

"That's not all you're going to be covered in," he warned before lowering his lips to hers and kissing her deeply and thoroughly. Breaking the kiss, he asked, "Surrender?"

Ignoring him, she asked, "Did I actually smell dinner when I walked in here?"

"You needn't sound so shocked," he protested, placing her on her feet.

Leaning up, Triona kissed him on the cheek. "My darling, you are clever, talented, and exceedingly handsome, " she giggled at the smug look on his face, "but you can't cook to save your life."

"I'm not that bad," he said, pouting.

Triona threw her arms around his neck and smiled up at him. "If you say so."

He really did try; she had to give him that. They'd spent their honeymoon in places with long nights and short days to compensate for Triona's inability to be in the sun. But after nearly six blissful months, they’d decided to settle down and have as close to a normal life as they could for as long as they could. Janette had put Triona in contact with a vampire acquaintance that ran a girls’ boarding school at her ancestral home, Smythly Hall, just outside of York, England. In the end, Triona accepted a position at the school teaching Latin and physics. They bought the old farm, the central portion of which was the original wattle and daub construction dating from the eleven hundreds, and a place Methos had called home back when it was nearly new. Two other wings had been added in later centuries, and now the dwelling had a vaguely organic Tudor look to it. She worked, and Methos spent his days keeping house, writing the book he always said he was going to finish one day, and fussing over the horses they owned. But when it came to meals, she usually came home to find beans on toast or Indian takeaway waiting for her.

"Fine,” he said rather peevishly. “Yes, you do smell dinner – Shepherd’s Pie -- courtesy of Mrs. Roberts at the end of the lane."

Walking over to the jade green Aga stove she looked over at him. "Mrs. Roberts?" Grinning, she continued, "Should I be worried? Isn't it a little early in our marriage for you to be stepping out on me? And I can't even say she's a little old for you, now can I?" Mrs. Roberts was in her sixties, and lived with her husband in the small cottage at the far edge of Methos and Triona's property. Her children were grown, and she occupied her time with knitting for her many grandchildren, gardening, and keeping track of her neighbours.

"You're so amusing, you should take your act on the road, " he said witheringly.

Chuckling, she opened the door of the farmhouse oven, peeking in at the bubbling mixture of mutton, gravy, and mashed potatoes. "It smells wonderful." Closing it again, she looked back at her husband. "Don't be grumpy!" she admonished. "What am I supposed to think when the neighbor ladies start bringing you food when I'm not here?" She was trying very hard not to laugh. “First it’s food, and then they’ll be wanting you to come look at their etchings.”

Methos snagged a dishtowel from the table, balled it up, and threw it at her. She caught it neatly, the laughter she had been tying so hard to control burbling past her lips.

“Oh, go ahead and laugh, my pretty little wife. Just remember, I have a very long memory,” he threatened ominously, the smile tugging at his lips quite ruining the effect. Triona just stuck her tongue out at him.  "I'll admit it was a little odd. I opened the door and she practically thrust the casserole in to my hands, with a look that would curdle milk. Said something about as much as you work, you'd appreciate something homemade."

Triona was suddenly very busy smoothing out the tea towel that she still held in her hands. "Odd," she agreed.

Suspiciously, he asked, "You wouldn't have an explanation, would you?"

"Who, me?" she asked, eyes wide with feigned innocence.

"I knew it! Come on, Triona, confession is good for the soul."

"Okay, fine, maybe she took my attempt at humour this morning the wrong way," she finally admitted.

"And?" He gestured expectantly.

"And I ran into her this morning walking to work. I stopped and chatted with her for a few minutes and she commented on how I was always walking before the sun came up." She turned around, placing the towel over the rack on the counter, tugging at it absently. "I might have said something to the affect that you thought I was getting fat and needed the exercise," she mumbled.

"What?" he shouted.

"It was a joke," she turned back to look at him, "I didn't think she'd take me seriously!"

"That's just wonderful," he griped. "By the end of the week, it'll be all over town. That poor sweet Mrs. Pierson," he said in a fair imitation of the local accent, "and that nasty layabout husband of hers. Works all day she does and he doesn't even feed her properly."

"Oh come on, it’s not that bad!"

"Ah, my naive young big city wife. Allow me to share the bounty of my wisdom. This is a small town, small towns thrive on gossip, and you've just provided many months worth."

"Oh, lord." She knew that tone; the one where he went all ancient and twelve year old at the same time. Inwardly sighing, and swearing to herself she'd never speak to another neighbour again, Triona settled in for the long haul.

Ignoring her interruption, he continued, "In two weeks, I won't be able to go into the shops without every woman there nodding and whispering when I walk by. By the end of the month, they'll all be convinced I beat you and keep you chained in the cellar!" The last was practically shouted.

Don't laugh, don't laugh, she repeated to herself, biting the inside of her cheek for good measure. Once she was sure she could keep her voice steady, she said in the meekest voice she could muster, "I promise I'll talk to Mrs. Roberts tomorrow and fix it. I swear."

"Don't bother. She'll never believe you."

"Of course she will!"

"No, she won't. Mrs. Roberts -- and her cronies -- will think I made you do it," he said, obviously disgusted. "That brute of a husband of hers making her come down to my house and try and excuse him. Poor wee thing," he said, once more mimicking Mrs. Roberts. "I can hear it all now."

Triona didn't immediately reply, instead folding the towel she'd been absently toying with for the last several minutes. She opened the oven and using the towel as a potholder, removed the casserole, placing it on a trivet on the counter. Turning around, she found Methos standing in front of her, still covered in fine stone dust, and looking rather pathetic. Wrapping her arms around his waist, she rested her cheek against his chest, inhaling his familiar scent. "The poor wee thing would like to know why you care what anyone thinks? You never have before." She tilted her head back, looking up at him.

Methos ran one hand through her hair, removing the clip that held it in a loose knot, and tossing it on the counter, letting the long mass of her honey blonde hair fall free down her back.  Exhaling noisily, he replied, "Adam Pierson would care, wouldn't he? He'd be appalled to think the neighbours thought he abused his wife. Treated her as anything other than the light of his life."

"It’s scary that that makes an odd sort of sense to me." She hugged him a little tighter. "Well, Mrs. Adam Pierson knows she's the light of her husband's life -- in all his incarnations," she stated firmly.

He kissed her first, then said, "Glad to hear it. Oh, and I’ll be driving you to work and home again from now on. And we're getting a woman in to do the cooking and cleaning."

"Hey!" Triona protested, pulling away. "Wait just a minute! I like walking, and I don't want some stranger in my house!" Walking in the predawn and twilight hours was part of her workout routine and good for her mental health as well. She was still getting used to the fact that she had no choice but to stay indoors when the sun was out, and walking made her feel a little freer. And the thought of having someone take care of her house, touching her things, just generally creeped her out. She’d had to deal with it in LaCroix’s household, both because Baker was a family retainer, and it was the ancient vampire’s home ­ not hers. But this was *her* home and she wanted to enjoy it.

"Nope, your brute of a husband has spoken. That's my final word on the subject,” he proclaimed loftily.

"You think so?" She looked up at him, arms across her chest, one booted foot tapping on the slate floor. If he was looking for a fight, he was well on his way to getting one.

"Yes, " he picked out a serving spoon from the container on the counter and waved it around, "at least until after dinner."

Rolling her eyes, Triona snatched the spoon from his hand. "Whatever! Make yourself useful and set the table, and then go wash up!" She looked around at the disaster he'd made of the kitchen, and added, "And I think it goes without saying that you'll be cleaning up this mess!"

"I love it when you're bossy," he growled, reaching for her.

Ducking, she ran around the large table in the center of the kitchen, waving the spoon at him. "I'm hungry!"

"I'm hungry too," he said, leering as he lunged for her.

Gasping with laughter, she narrowly missed being caught. "Methos, remember poor wee Mrs. Pierson? She's wasting away to a shadow here," she wailed.

"If poor Mrs. Pierson would let her husband have his way with her, the faster she'd get dinner," he countered, grinning evilly.

She paused, looking at him gravely, before declaring, "I think I'd rather starve!" With that she leapt to the right, making for the door, screeching as Methos caught her wrist, spinning her into his arms.

"Any last words?" he whispered into her ear.

Sighing in contentment, she pressed closer to his body, reaching up with one hand to stroke his face. Tilting his head slightly, he pressed his lips against her fingers. As she pulled his head down to meet hers, she said softly, "That's what microwaves are for after all.”

Some hours later, Methos had finally served dinner in the sitting room, where they ate curled up on the couch in front of a roaring fire. Now Triona was sitting at her desk behind the couch, correcting Latin essays written by her fifth year students, the long sleeves of the green velvet top she now wore pushed up to her elbows. “One of those wouldn’t be for me, would it?” she asked as he came back into the room holding two glasses of dessert wine, wearing what seemed to be an identical copy of his previous clothes, except that these were dust free.

“I think one just might be,” he agreed as she gratefully accepted the glass of Moscato he offered her and took a sip.  “Want some help with those?” He nodded towards the pile of essays.

“Really?” she asked delightedly. “If I can get them done tonight, my weekend will be free and clear.”

“Really.” Eyes laughing, he added, “I think you deserve some sort of reward for your stellar performance earlier.”

She gasped in faux offense. “You’re just lucky this is an excellent wine, or you’d be wearing it!”

Leaning over, Methos kissed her bottom lip, savouring the taste of the sweet wine on her mouth. “Then you’d just have to lick it off,” he whispered, running one hand up across a velvet-clad thigh.

“You have a one track mind,” she whispered back, shivering a little at his touch.

“We are newlyweds after all,” he noted, smirking, as he straightened, taking half the stack of essays from the corner of the desk.

“Mmm-hmm.” She shook her head, deciding not to encourage him, since it took very little to do so. Not that she was complaining, but sometimes it was hard to get any work done.

They worked in silence, the only sounds the crackling of the fire, the scratch of their pens, and the patter of rain against the windows. Finishing her last essay, Triona sighed, stretching out the kinks in her neck. Pushing back her chair, she looked over to where Methos sat in a wing chair to the side of the fireplace, watching the play of the firelight across his face as he worked on the last page in his stack. Reaching out to him through their blood bond, Triona caressed him mentally with her love for him. Smiling softly, he looked up, catching her eyes with his. “I love you too.” He turned his attention back to the paper he was correcting, giving it one last red mark with a flourish. Setting it aside, he leaned back in the chair, holding out a hand to her. Accepting his silent invitation, she walked towards him, taking the proffered hand, and letting him pull her into his lap.

Reaching across to the lamp on the side table, he switched it off, leaving the room lit by nothing but the fire. Methos knew she preferred firelight or candlelight to electric. It was a vampire ‘thing’, she said. One of the affects of LaCroix’s ill-fated attempt to bring her across nearly a decade before had been enhanced night vision. She saw much better in the dark than she did in the full light of day. “Thank you,” she said softly, nestling into his arms as he stroked her long hair.

As she sat there in the comforting quiet of the night, Triona had the oddest sensation of two perspectives, then it was gone. “Methos, do you believe in ghosts?”

“Where did that come from?” he asked, surprise in his voice.

She shrugged. “Just now, I don’t know… it felt like I was seeing this room, this place, through other eyes. And it isn’t the first time…” she trailed off uncertainly.

“I’ve seen a lot of things in my life, but, honestly Triona, ghosts? No, sweet, I don’t believe in ghosts.” He rubbed her back softly.

“Etheldrida,” she said suddenly, “your wife. Did you love her?”

“You are full of odd questions tonight, aren’t you?” He sighed. “I was very fond of her. She was a fine woman, a good mother to the children, a good wife to me.”

“And she loved this house.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement.

“Is that what this is about? You think she haunts this place?”

Triona fiddled with one of the buttons on his shirt. “No… maybe. I don’t know. Immortals, vampires, why not ghosts?” She shifted, so she could look at him. “I know she was a widow, with four children, that her first husband died in an accident, but did she know about you?”

“You mean did she know I was an Immortal? No, but most of my wives didn’t.”

“What happened?” she asked. “I mean, when she began to notice you were very well preserved.”

She felt him chuckle. “I know what you meant, love. The Third Crusade happened. 1190. Richard the Lionheart had promised his father before his death to join it. I used it as a pretext to leave. Our oldest children were grown and running a great deal of the farm as it was. They would take care of their mother after I ‘died’. I arranged for her to receive word a few years later that I’d fallen in battle before the walls of Jerusalem.”

“She must have missed you very much,” Triona said, unaccountably sad at remembering the woman who had died here in this house many centuries before. She hadn’t dwelt much on the 69 other wives that had come before her, but being here, in this house, was a frequent reminder. At least she didn’t have to deal with a living ex ­ that had to be a bright side she supposed.

“We do what we must, Triona,” was his only reply and they fell once more into silence, each alone with their own thoughts.

With a start, Triona realized she’d almost been asleep, and would have been if not for something on the edge of her awareness. Gently disentangling herself from Methos’ arms, she brushed her lips across his before getting to her feet to look out the front window. Glancing over at the clock on the mantel, she saw it was nearly midnight.

“What is it?” Methos asked sleepily as she peered out the rain-slicked glass into the dark garden beyond.

Cocking her slightly to the side, as if listening to something, Triona didn’t immediately answer.


She looked at him, replying, “I’m not sure. I mean, it couldn’t be….” Wrinkling her forehead in puzzlement, she said, “Nicholas?” Just as a knock was heard at the door. Despite herself, Triona jumped, startled.

She looked at Methos who shrugged. “It’s definitely no one I know.”

She switched on the porch light and pulled open the door, not totally surprised to see the last person she ever expected to see at her door: her erstwhile ‘brother’, Nicholas.

Momentarily stunned into silence, Triona just stood there with her hand still on the doorknob.

Smiling at her uncertainly, pushing back the hood of his raincoat, Nick said, “Hello, Triona. It’s been a long time. Methos,“ he acknowledged, as the Immortal came to stand behind his wife.

“Yes, it has,” Triona finally said. His hair was longer than it had been the last time she’d seen him, and was gelled in the spiky style quite trendy for men at the moment, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved in several days. Though that might have been for fashion as well -- very metrosexual, a vampire version of Ryan Seacrest. Realizing that Nick was dripping wet and still standing on the front step, she quickly added, stepping back, “Please, come in.”


As he stepped into the room, Triona closed the door, exchanging a look with her husband. Shaking her head slightly, she mouthed, “It’s fine.” And it was. She and Nick would probably never be close, but Triona had made a real attempt to let go of the animosity she felt towards him. Mostly for LaCroix, but also because the reality was that they were part of the same family and would have to deal with each other over the years to come. They could at least be civil to one another, couldn’t they?

“Nicholas, you’re drenched. Let me have your coat,” she instructed. “Can I get you something?” she asked as she took his wet coat from him. “I’m afraid all I have is what I keep for company.” That sounded silly even to her ears. “What I mean is…”

Methos interrupted her. “What she’s trying to say ­ very ineptly,” he smirked at her, “ -- is what our other vampire guests drink. No cow, I’m afraid.”

“Pardon me for trying to be polite,” she replied tersely. He could be so annoying, she thought.

“If you can’t be rude to your family, then who?” he asked, not at all perturbed. “Right, Nick?” He turned his attention to LaCroix’s middle child.

Laughing, he replied, “Whom indeed?” Then to Triona, trying to sooth her ruffled feathers, “Whatever you have is fine.”

She quirked an eyebrow at that, but didn’t comment; the last time she’d seen Nick, he’d been on a strictly bovine diet. She wondered what had changed. “Please, sit down. I’ll take your coat to the kitchen to dry and get a bottle from the cellar.”

“Thank you,” he said, handing her his coat.

“You’re welcome.”

Methos pulled Nick’s coat from her hands. “I’ll do it. You stay here and entertain our guest.”

She nodded before turning to Nick, who was looking around the cozy room. “You have a lovely home. Though, I was a little surprised a city girl like you would be living on a farm.”

“I find I like the country life. It’s different, but has its own charms. I don’t really miss the city, and Methos makes sure I get to London often enough to not go into complete withdrawal,” she said, grinning.

“Retail therapy?” Nick asked, seating himself in the chair Methos had been in earlier

“You know it!” she replied. “So, Nicholas, how have you been?”

“Good, actually. I spent the last few years in Seattle. Painting mostly, and giving piano lessons.”

“Sounds relaxing,” Triona said as she sat in the chair across from him at the other end of the fireplace. “A little mellow after being a homicide detective though.”

“The change was good for me,” Nick told her. “And Stephanie?” he asked after her cousin, now his ‘sister’.

“She emails me fairly frequently from wherever she and LaCroix are in the world. Last I heard, they were in Rio de Janeiro, and Lucien was spoiling her terribly.” Triona laughed softly. “She’s happy, and that’s all I care about,” she added, forestalling whatever Nick might have been thinking of saying in response.

“I’m glad she’s doing well,” was all Nick said. “And you. I hear congratulations are in order. I hope you and Methos will be very happy together.”

That almost sounded sincere, she thought, then felt guilty for her less than charitable reaction. Smiling, she accepted his good wishes in the spirit in which they were intended. “The change has been good for me too,” she allowed.

“Speaking of which,” Nick leaned down to the large nylon bag he’d brought in with him, unzipping it and removing a gift-wrapped box, “a wedding present,” he said, standing and handing the box to her.

“Thank you, Nicholas,” she said as Methos reentered the room, carrying an opened wine bottle and a glass. “Methos, Nicholas brought us a wedding gift.”

Glancing over at Nick, he said, “Thoughtful of you,“ as he put the bottle and the glass on the side table at Nick’s right hand.

“Thank you,” Nick said, pouring wine cut blood into the glass. “It was the least I could do. It’s not everyday one of my sisters gets married, after all.” Motioning towards the silver paper wrapped box sitting on Triona’s lap, he asked. “Are you going to open it?”

“Of course.” Triona gently removed the wrapping paper as Methos came to sit on the ottoman at her feet. “Nicholas, it’s exquisite,” she said sincerely, looking down at the Art Nouveau style sterling tea set. She removed the teapot from the box, looking at it admiringly. Whatever else she might think of Nick, he had always had impeccable taste.

“It’s Tiffany, 1901. I saw it and it seemed to have you written all over it.”

Echoing her own thought, Methos said, “You’ve always had good taste, Nick -- and with a perfect gift giving gene or something. Maybe I should make you my personal shopper for spousal gift occasions.” He winked at Triona, who lightly bapped him on the shoulder.

“Methos is right, you do have impeccable taste. Did they teach you that in Knight school or something?” she asked, eyes twinkling.

Methos groaned at her pun. “That was really very bad.”

“He’s right, that was very bad,” Nick said, laughing outright. “I’m glad you like it.”

“I do. Thank you again.” She carefully set the box down beside her chair. “But somehow I doubt you came all the way to England to give us a wedding gift?” She was insanely curious to discover whatever the real reason for him being here was. 

“True,” he admitted ruefully. “I actually do need to speak to you about something as well.” He leaned forward slightly, suddenly very serious. “Margaretta has asked me to take a teaching position at the school, but I told her I’d only accept her offer if it was okay with you.”

Triona sat back, more than a little nonplussed. Of all the reasons she’d thought might have brought Nick here, this wasn’t one of them. Margaretta Stamford was Triona’s employer, Headmistress of the school she taught at, and a friend of Janette’s, LaCroix’s eldest child. It had been Janette who had initially arranged for Triona to meet with Margaretta when she had told Janette that she and Methos had decided to live in England.  Her offering Nick a job, she assumed it was the open history position, was surprising to say the least.

“I didn’t realize you two knew each other,” she said instead of answering his question. “Neither Margaretta or Janette mentioned it.”

“How much do you know about Margaretta?” Nick asked.

Triona shrugged. “Not a lot. She and Janette seem like good friends, Smythly Hall was her home when she was mortal, and she despises LaCroix.” That had been one of the stipulations of her employment: that her Master never set foot in the Headmistress’s home. Triona had told Margaretta at the time that she couldn’t possibly compel LaCroix to do anything, but that she saw no reason for the issue to come up. That had seemed to satisfy her at the time.

“True, as far as it goes. But did you ever ask her why?” Nick asked curiously.

“I’ve learned that inquiring too closely into a vampire’s affairs ­ especially our Master’s -- can be… unpleasant.” Shifting slightly in her chair, so that her leg pressed against her husband’s shoulder, she added, “She didn’t offer and I didn’t ask.”

“Fair enough,“ Nick allowed. “Maybe it would be good if you had a little background?”

“I’m listening,” she replied.

“Has LaCroix ever told you about Francesca?”

This time it was Methos who answered. “The Countess du Montagne? I remember her. I was traveling with Lucien about, oh 1345? She offered us the hospitality of her estate. A woman of varied ‘appetites’ if I recall.”

“I so do not want to know what exactly that means,” Triona told her grinning husband.

“What?” he protested all innocence. “You have such a dirty mind, Triona!” he tsked at her disapprovingly. She rolled her eyes. “I had other things to see to at the time, so I didn’t stay long, but Lucien told me later that he’d brought her across.”

“That would be her,” Nick agreed.

Triona said, “I remember Lucien mentioning her. I was already living at the estate then, but as I recall, it had something to do with a case you working on at the time? A serial killer who claimed to be her reincarnated?”

“And didn’t you kill Francesca?” Methos asked. Nick nodded stiffly. “He never did play well with others,” he commented wryly, looking over at his wife.

She smacked his shoulder lightly, “Behave,” she whispered sternly, though not looking very put out. He just looked at her innocently, as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

Sighing, Triona tried to bring the conversation back to the subject at hand. “What has this got to do with Margaretta?”

Taking her cue, Nick explained, “Margaretta was related to the du Montagnes on her mother’s side. She was the youngest child, the youngest daughter of three. Her parents sent her to France to be a companion to her cousin Francesca in 1740. A few months after arriving in Avignon, Francesca brought Margaretta across.”

She sat back in her chair, pondering what Nick had just told her. “So, we’re related. I had no idea.”

Nodding, Nick continued, “After Francesca was dead, I wanted to take Margaretta with us, but LaCroix wasn’t happy with me.”

“For killing Francesca,” Triona stated.

“Since it was something I wanted, he of course wanted the exact opposite. He refused to take Margaretta with us. Janette was living in Italy at the time, so I arranged for her to go there. Janette took Margaretta under her wing, and eventually, arranged for her to take possession of Smythly Hall. She’s been living here ever since.”

“And now, it seems she’s going for a family reunion,” Methos said airily. “Where do vampires hold family reunions anyway? The usual summer barbecue in the park seems right out.”

Triona snorted, amused. “A Halloween cocktail party in a crypt, of course,” she replied dryly, eliciting a matching snort from Methos. Nick smiled slightly, seemingly entertained by their banter. “Maybe she is looking for a reunion,” she agreed. “But maybe she’s lonely too.” Triona paused, a thoughtful expression on her face.

“It’s late,” Methos said suddenly, gently squeezing her hand. “Nick, why don’t you stay here tonight? The south wing is empty, plenty of room for you. We can discuss this further tomorrow ­ or later today, I guess it would be.” He looked over at Triona. “I think that would be best,” he squeezed her hand once more, looking at her intently, “don’t you?”

Triona looked at him quizzically, then agreed, “It is late. Nicholas?” she asked, looking once more at the blonde vampire.

“That’s very kind of you,” he replied. “Thank you.”

“I’ll get you settled in, Methos said, standing up.

Triona decided to go along with Methos for now, though she had no idea what was on his mind, though obviously something was. “I’ll say good night then.”

“Till tomorrow, Triona,” Nick said then followed Methos from the room.

Triona pulled the bedcovers up to her chin, snuggling into their softness, listening for her husband’s footstep in the hall. She was eager for an explanation, but she had decided to be patient and not seek him out. Finally her forbearance was rewarded. A few moments later, he gently pushed open their bedroom door. “So what was all that about?” she asked before he’d even managed to walk through the door.

“What was what about?” he asked innocently, coming to sit on the edge of the bed, pressing his lips against her forehead. She shook her head and just looked at him expectantly. He knew exactly what she was talking about. “Fine. I knew that look. You’d already convinced yourself that Margaretta was lonely and wanted her family together, and were going to agree to Nick’s request before you’d even given yourself a chance to think about the ramifications.”

Triona pushed herself up to sit against the headboard. “Okay, maybe I was,“ she agreed, a little put out.  Sometimes Methos could be so irritatingly right about what she was thinking and how she would react.

“I just want you to at least sleep on it,” he instructed, not at all perturbed by her obvious irritation.

Her lips twisted slightly, but despite wanting to argue with him, she knew he was right, Damn him anyway! Sighing, she nodded resignedly. “Okay, Mr. Know-it-all, I’ll sleep on it.”

“Good.” He smirked. “See? You can be obedient every once in a while!” He was laughing when he kissed away any retort she might have made. Looking at her fondly, he said softly, “We’ll talk about it in the morning.”

After several hours of Triona tossing and turning, Methos finally gave up. “Okay, we’ll talk about it now,” he said into the dark.

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “I didn’t mean to keep you awake.”

Reaching over to the small lamp on the nightstand next to his side of the bed, he switched it on. “I know, love,” he replied as she pressed against him, his arm going around her shoulders, pulling her closer.  “I should know by now that you stew over things left unresolved.”

“You were right ­ I was thinking only of Margaretta, and how lonely I assumed she must be. Not about how Nicholas and I have never gotten along.” She propped herself up on her elbow, chin in the palm of her hand. “But I really do want to try and make it better between the two of us. I know it’s silly, but…” she trailed off, chewing her lower lip.

“No, it’s not silly. I know you think it will make Lucien happy. But honestly love, do you think you can be in a situation where you have to interact with Nick on a daily basis?”

“I can try, can’t I?” She threw herself down onto her pillow exhaling sharply. “And I’d feel selfish if I didn’t agree. Put aside for the moment my assumption that Margaretta is doing this out of some familial desire. She’s been trying to fill that position since the beginning of the term. If I say no, she’s left short staffed for who knows how long?”

“And how much do you want to bet that Nick knows exactly how you you’d feel ­ is counting on it?”

“And now who’s being cynical?” she asked, laughing.

“Can you deny that the thought hasn’t crossed your mind?” Methos shot back.

“Guilty as charged.”

“Uh huh.”

“But still, it’s odd, isn’t it?”

“Am I supposed to guess which particular one of the dozens of odd things it could possibly be that you’re referring to?” This was asked more than a little sarcastically.

Triona lightly smacked his arm. “Very funny.” She rolled away, getting up off the bed and going to the window, leaning her cheek against the cold glass, watching the rain. “Odd since Nicholas doesn’t care much more for me than I do for him. Odd since he isn’t interested in making LaCroix happy. Odd that he would want to interact with *me* on a daily basis.” Crossing her arms, she looked over at Methos. “That about cover it?”

Chuckling, he said, “Just about.” He held out a hand. “Come back to bed.”

She went back, taking his hand and allowing him to pull her down next to him. Laying crossways on the bed, with her head on his chest, she tucked her legs up underneath her. “So why would he want to come here?”

“Nick spent centuries trying to break away, with Lucien chasing after him. Sometimes when you get what you think you want, it doesn’t quite turn out the way you thought it would.”

Triona shifted, turning so she could look at her husband. “What do you mean?”

“Only that it might not be Margaretta who’s looking to reforge familial ties.” Triona attempted to sit up at that, but Methos’ arm across her kept her firmly in place as she wriggled against his hold. “Will you keep still for once, woman?” he asked in exasperation. “I swear you’re like an over caffeinated cat on a hot tin roof!”

“Fine. This is me being a tortoise,” she told him grumpily, keeping completely still.

Methos snorted. “A tortoise? I bet you last all of five minutes.”

Pointedly ignoring him, she said, “You think *Nicholas* wants his family back?” That was something that had never occurred to her.

“I think it’s entirely possible. You know what they say, ‘be careful what you wish for’. Well, Nick got what he wished for didn’t he? Stephanie is now LaCroix’s favourite child, and you are his companion, and together we are a family, albeit a rather odd one. We’ve all moved on without him.”

Triona silently digested what Methos had said. The thought that Nicholas would want to rejoin the family was shocking to her, to say the least. Her initial reaction was that it would make LaCroix happy, but she also was honest enough to admit her next reaction was more than a twinge of jealousy. She’d resented Nick in those early days on Janette’s behalf, and that feeling had only intensified as the years passed and Triona had felt she herself would never matter as much to him as Nick, no matter what Nick did. She’d been pleased when LaCroix had finally seemed to let Nick go and had moved on. And now?

“Penny for them?” Methos asked softly.

“I’m not feeling very charitable, I’m afraid,” she admitted. “I’m not sure I want to be used because all of a sudden Nicholas doesn’t like the bed he made for himself.”

“To be fair, I don’t think Nick is consciously trying to use you. You're just the obvious choice. You're close to both Lucien and Janette, and the job with Margaretta gives him some cover, whether conscious or unconscious”

“You’re probably right. But we have years worth of baggage between us, so I tend to leap to the worst conclusion. And maybe I just feel like being unfair." Her voice rose, almost angry. "Why should he get another chance? Why should I give him the opportunity to wreck what we have now? Just so he can change his mind yet again, and pull the rug out from under Lucien? I don’t want Stephanie to feel second best because suddenly the ‘golden child’ decides to make a return. I never want her to feel as Janette did!” Or how I did, she thought to herself.

Methos stroked her arm soothingly. “She won’t. Even if it turns out Nick has had second thoughts, things will never go back to the way they were.” He held her closer. “And Lucien loves you,” he said quietly, seeming to hear Triona’s unspoken words. “Nothing Nick does will ever change that.”

The next morning, Triona was making breakfast, and singing with unrestrained glee. “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh….”

“Isn’t it a little early for Christmas carols?”

Triona yelped, startled at the sudden appearance of her houseguest, almost dropping the tray of scones she’d been removing from the oven. “Don’t sneak up on me, or next time you’ll be wearing breakfast!” She carefully placed the nearly overturned tray on the counter. She was dressed casually in an ankle length black cotton broomstick skirt, a long sleeved sapphire blue t shirt, and a gray knit men's styled cardigan sweater that was many sizes too big for her and looked like it had seen better days.

“Sorry,” Nick said contritely, pulling out a stool to sit at the large old table that sat in the center of the kitchen. He was wearing jeans and a slim fitting burgundy knit pullover sweater.

Triona nodded, accepting his apology. “If you must know, it’s my secret vice; singing when I’m alone in the house.”

“Okay, but ‘Jingle Bells’?” he asked, laughing.

“You just missed my rendition of ‘Muskrat Love’.”

“Sorry I missed it,” he said, his tone declaring the exact opposite.

Triona didn’t reply, just sniffed in mock offense.

“So where’s Methos?” Nick asked, looking around the kitchen. The hearth was blazing, and some sort of cinnamon scent was coming from a cast iron pot hung near the fire. The shutters were open with a view into the courtyard and the outbuildings beyond. Though it had stopped raining, it didn’t look like it would be for long.

Triona waved the tongs she was using in the general direction of outside. “Playing gentleman farmer. He knows he’s safe out there till the sun goes down.” At Nick’s look of surprise, she added, “I’m kidding. Anyway, breakfast will guarantee his arrival anytime now.”

“What are you making?” he asked. “It smells pretty good actually.” Triona looked at him, one eyebrow raised enquiringly. “You know what I mean.”

“Yes, I know what you mean.” Many vampires didn’t care for the smell of food. Nick was worse than most, and Triona often thought it was because his system was in a constant state of upheaval due to his quest to regain his mortality. Or maybe that was former quest now. Something else to try and find out. Answering his question, she said, “It’s Black Pudding.” She removed the last piece from the skillet, placing it on a plate. “Would you like to try some?”

Nick looked at the plate, then at her. “Uh, no thanks.”

“I didn’t mean you actually had to eat it.”

Confused, Nick asked, “What do you mean then?”

Sighing, Triona cut a bit off the Black Pudding, speared it with a fork and sat down on the stool across from Nick. “Haven’t you ever wondered what the attraction LaCroix had for me was?” Before Nick could reply, she added dryly, “Besides the obvious.”

“I suppose I wondered why he didn’t just bring you across in the beginning.” It seemed like he would say something else, but he stopped.

“Or kill me after a few weeks?” Triona took pity on him. It wasn’t as if she’d ever invited any sort of confidence between the two of them  "Perhaps I should reword the question: why did he want a mortal paramour? Will you trust me for a moment?” she asked. Nick nodded. “Normally, I would have to be linked to you through blood for this to work, but being what I am, and through our family bond, I think I can demonstrate. I know you’re out of practice, but close your eyes and reach for my thoughts.”

He looked wary, but said, “I’ll try.”

“Good. Don’t worry, I’ll do most of the heavy lifting. I may be a freak of nature, but this part is something I excel at.” She smiled encouragingly as Nick closed his eyes. Reaching out to him with her mind, she ate the piece of Black Pudding she’d been holding. She savoured it ­ the taste, the texture, the scent. She touched Nick’s mind with hers, sharing the sensations with him. Then she gently broke the connection, placing her hand over his reassuringly.

Slowly, he opened his eyes. “I could taste, really taste, it,” he said in surprise, his voice barely above a whisper.

“By denying what your vampire nature can offer, you deny what makes you human,” she said softly. “By accepting LaCroix’s gift, and strengthening our bond, I also gave myself a freedom that you’ve long denied yourself.”

“I’ve always known that you and LaCroix shared a bond we’d never had, but until now, I thought it was….” He broke of suddenly, and Triona thought that if he were capable of blushing he’d be deep red.

Laughing softly, she finished for him, “You thought it was sex.”

Looking a little abashed that she’d known exactly what he’d been going to say, he nodded.

“I won’t deny that definitely plays into it, but god, Nick, you’re a vampire! You know that the blood is the ultimate bond. In fact, it was a very long time before LaCroix moved our relationship to a sexual one.”

Nick looked surprised at that ­ and probably surprised she was sharing so many intimate details of her relationship with their Master. Truth be told, Triona was rather surprised that she was too.

“You should try with Sarah sometime." Triona suggested. Sarah was Triona's 'sister' who had become Immortal a few years prior. Nick was the reason she'd originally gotten herself mixed up with vampires. "Personally, I think an Immortal and a vampire are the perfect pairing. Maybe that’s how it was meant to be.” She dared him to laugh at her for her rather unorthodox thought. It was something she'd contemplated for a while, but hadn't really voiced it to anyone before.

He didn’t laugh, instead said, “I haven’t seen Sarah since she left Paris to be trained by Connor MacLeod.

“Ah”, was all Triona said, deciding not to pry.

Silence fell, Nick seeming to be somewhere else. Finally, he said, “I’m sorry, I know it’s none of my business, but….” He shook his head.

“What do you want to know, Nicholas? After all, I did start this, didn’t I?”

He took a deep breath, still not looking like he was sure he should ask. Finally, he spoke. “How on earth did you end up married to Methos?”

“Uh, the usual way; he proposed, I said yes.” Her eyes twinkled wickedly.

“Very funny!”

“Sorry,” she said, though she didn’t sound very sorry.

But Triona’s levity had broken the ice, and Nick seemed much less uneasy. “LaCroix has been as possessive of you as he has of me, and yet, here you are, married to another man. It baffled me when Methos first became a part of your life, and it still does now.”

“Oh, Nicholas, I don’t know how to even begin to explain it, not really.” She sighed. It was so complicated, that sometimes, she didn’t understand it herself. “I guess because I totally embraced what Lucien offered me. Even after Methos came into my life, I still chose to be brought across with full knowledge and acceptance of what that choice meant. And when it all went so horribly wrong,” Triona closed her eyes, remembering the pain, and everything that followed, “Lucien was devastated, and Methos was so angry ­ with him and even more so with me, though he would never admit it. I was left with a full fledgling’s link with LaCroix, even though I wasn’t brought fully across. Methos never really accepted what had happened, and it all festered. After it was all over, we’d all lost so much. In the end, LaCroix went along with Methos wanting to marry me because he wanted me to be happy. His way of trying to make amends for what he saw as his failure.”

Nick nodded in understanding, not just because of her words, but because of the emotion he felt through the fragile link they still shared. “I’m sorry. If I’d spent less time judging you, and more time trying to be family, maybe I could have been there for you in some small way.”

“It wasn’t all your fault, I take my full share of the blame.” She smiled ruefully. “You know, LaCroix has often commented that the two of us are very much alike in some ways: stubborn, headstrong, willful.” Nick snorted. “I think that contributed to our antipathy towards each other.”

“Think we can do better this time around?”

“I think so. Don’t you?”

“I’d like that. And I’d like to be your family, as much as Janette and Stephanie are.” Nick took her hand and smiled. “If you’ll let me try?”

Triona returned his smile. “It’s a deal.”

Later that evening after cleaning up from supper, Triona and Methos sat in the double rocking chair in front of the kitchen hearth, finishing their wine. In the distance, the sound of a piano could be heard.

“We should have had him play while we were eating,” Methos said, grinning. The south wing contained a music room with a piano. Since neither Triona nor Methos played, it was usually covered over. Nick had come across it after exploring that morning and had spent most of the day airing out and cleaning the room. After supper, he’d excused himself and had been playing ever since.  “A little dinner music, some candlelight, very romantic.”

“Mmm-hmm.” She drew her legs up underneath her and snuggled closer to his side. “We had a heart to heart this morning.”


“I think we cleared the air, and we’ve decided to try and do better from here on out.”

“So I take it he’ll be accepting Margaretta’s offer?”

“Uh huh.” She looked up at him. “Are you okay with that?”

“You’re the one it has to be okay with,” he countered.

 “It is. Promise.”

They sat in companionable silence for nearly an hour, listening to the music that floated in. Then silence fell. “I guess the concert is over,” Methos said.

“Yeah, well we should get up anyway,” Triona noted. “I know you want to check on the horses before bed, and I think the sleet has stopped.” The temperature had dropped precipitously after the sun went down, and the rain had turned into sleet.

“No time like the present then.” He stood up, stretching the kinks out before offering a hand to his wife. As he pulled her to her feet, he gave a sharp tug, tipping her into his arms. “But first, I need something to keep me warm out there,” he said softly, lowering his lips to hers. She melted against him, fully opening their psychic link, their blood bond. At moments like this, it was hard for her to tell where she ended and he began. The sound of Nick clearing his throat interrupted the seemingly endless moment. Regretfully, Methos broke the kiss, murmuring, “I knew we should have locked him in there.”

Triona giggled, giving him one last hard kiss before pulling away. “Hey there, Nicholas,” she said, smiling at her houseguest. He was dressed casually in a black turtleneck sweater and black wool pants and was holding a nearly full wineglass.

“Sorry for the interruption. I’ll try to remember and knock next time,” Nick said, lips twitching.

“Yes, do,” Methos replied dryly.  “Don’t mind me, I was on my way to the stables.” He headed towards the hall to the back door.

“I’ll make some tea,” Triona offered.

“Sounds perfect. I’ll see you both later,” he called back. The fire briefly flared as a gust of cold wind from the opening door swirled through the room, then died down again after it closed behind him.

Triona went to the table and poured another glass of wine for herself. “I think I’ll join you,” she said. “Cheers!” Raising her glass to Nick, she took a sip. Nick returned the gesture. “I feel like some fresh air, how about you?”

“Sounds good,” he agreed.

Following in Methos’ footsteps, the two waked down the back hall, taking their coats down from the hook behind the door, holding each others’ wine glasses as they put them on. Then they went outside, walking a short way down the path that led into the courtyard. They stopped at the edge of the stone wall that surrounded the back garden. The clouds had mostly cleared away, with just a few wisps of cloud scudding across the face of the nearly full moon. Nick placed his glass on the wall next to him and leaned against the cold stone.

“It’s a beautiful night,” he said.

Triona took a deep breath, inhaling the frigid air. “It is. I’m glad I’m here at home though, and not out on the roads. All this sleet covering the ground will make it treacherous.” Her breath hung in a cloud before dissipating. “Beautiful but deadly,” she said almost to herself. She took a sip of her wine, shivering a little.

Noticing, Nick said, “Maybe we should go back in?”

“What?” Triona shook her head slightly. “No, I’m fine.” She took gulp of the wine this time, draining the contents and setting the empty glass next to Nick’s still full one.

“You’re sure?” He sounded concerned.

“Mmm-hmm.” She didn’t know what it was, but something about this night made her feel like someone had walked on her grave. Triona told herself firmly that she was imagining things.

The quiet of the night was broken by the screech of two cats. The cats in question came tearing across the courtyard, then over the garden wall, knocking over the wine glasses, scattering the contents of Nick’s, along with shards of broken glass, across the path. Nick swore in surprise, watching the cats as the raced out of sight. “What a mess. Where do you keep the broom and dustpan?” he asked turning his attention back to Triona. But she didn’t reply. “Triona?” She stood frozen, all colour drained from her face. He grasped her shoulders, shaking her gently. “What’s wrong?”

This time, she shivered violently. She closed her eyes and whispered, “That scent.”

“What is it?” he asked carefully.

“My soul bleeding to death.” Her voice cracked and she took a deep shuddering breath trying to calm the panic that suddenly threatened to overwhelm her. “It was a night just like this. She left me to die in the cold, I could smell my own blood on the ice, and I knew I was dying; how I wanted to die.”

Suddenly, Nick understood. “Divia.” Triona flinched at the sound of that name. He pulled her closer, wrapping his arms around her shivering body. She didn’t resist. “I thought LaCroix removed those memories?”

She pressed her clenched fists against his chest. “He did, but that time in Seacouver, when I nearly died, the memories started to come back, not fully -- some of LaCroix’s manipulations of my memory remained. All the bits and pieces were very confusing, and frightened me enough that I pushed them back and tried not to think about it. And then, after what happened when Hakeem took me prisoner two years ago, I started to have nightmares of him and Divia all mixed up together, and again Lucien tried to help. He couldn’t remove the memories, but he blurred the edges and I was able to put it behind me ­ or so I thought.” She took another steadying breath, pulling away from Nick.

“But tonight, the scent triggered the memory and it blindsided you.” She nodded weakly. “Our sense of smell is one of the most powerful memory triggers there are, especially for a vampire.”

“Yes.” Triona wrapped her arms around herself and turned away. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Nick asked, perplexed.

“For letting what happened still affect me. She killed you ­ or tried ­ and it didn’t make you a basket case,” she said, her voice shaking.

“That’s nonsense!” Nick said, rejecting her explanation. “You were mortal, and I have more than a few centuries on you. And most importantly, she only wanted me dead -- she didn’t want to torture me. She didn’t violate my mind as she did yours. Believe me, it’s a miracle that not only did you survive, but that you didn’t lose your mind.” Triona nodded uncertainly. “Not to mention, it isn’t as if you’ve actually had a chance to deal with what happened then. It’s only now you’re feeling the full force of those memories.”

“Perhaps, maybe.” Triona knew that what Nick was saying made sense, but it didn’t help how she was feeling. She shook her head sharply. “I’m going to go for a walk. I just need some time alone.”

He started to protest, not sure that being alone was best, but she interrupted, “Please, Nicholas, I’ll be fine. I just need to settle my mind down a little.” She gave him a small smile and squeezed his arm. “I’ll be fine. I’m tougher than I look, you know.”

He accepted her statement with a nod. “You know where I am if you need to talk.”

“Thank you,” she said simply before walking into the cold February night.

A short while later, Methos came upon Nick sweeping up the glass shards from the walk. “What happened?”

“Two cats and two wine glasses,” Nick said, looking up with a grin.

“I thought I heard a yowl or two a while ago.” Methos looked around. “Triona inside? Hopefully with that tea she promised,” he said rubbing his hands together.

Nick straightened, looking at the older man, a serious expression on his face. “Look, Methos, I don’t want to break any confidences, but…” the vampire broke off, seeming unsure as to what to say next.

Methos looked at him sharply. “What’s happened?”

Seeming to come to a decision, Nick asked, “I assume LaCroix must have told you about Divia?”

The Immortal’s expression became guarded. “I have some familiarity with the subject,” he allowed.

“And did he tell you that Divia attacked Triona?”

“Yes, he told me. He also told me he’d removed those memories.”

Nick nodded. “He did. But it turns out, it didn’t stick.” Sighing, he continued, “When she was in Seacouver with you, the memories started to return, but they were still somewhat muted by LaCroix’s intervention. After her encounter with Hakeem, she started having nightmares about him and Divia.”

Methos looked up sharply at that, narrowing his eyes. He’d witnessed those nightmares, but had no idea that Divia had played a part in them. “How exactly do you know all this, Nick?” he demanded.

“Because tonight, when the glasses shattered, the scent of the blood on the icy ground triggered a very powerful memory. I think tonight was truly the first time she’d experienced the full force of what happened to her that night – a night very much like this one. The first time all of LaCroix’s modifications to her memory had been totally stripped away.”

"Damn it!” he snarled. “There's a reason I've never liked the way vampires meddle with people's memories. Trauma needs to be dealt with at the time it happens, or something like this happens! Triona never dealt with what happened to her, and those memories weren't gone, just walled off somewhere in her brain. Now, more than a decade later, it's like it just happened." Methos looked disgusted.

"LaCroix thought it was for the best," Nick said, trying to appease the angry Immortal.  "And so did I. You weren't there, Methos. If you'd known her then, I think you would have agreed that LaCroix's choice was the best one to be made at the time.  It wasn’t a decision he made lightly, you have to know that.  As it was, it still took months for her to recover both her mental and physical strength. I honestly don’t believe she would have made even a partial recovery if we hadn't decided to 'meddle'."

The Immortal scrubbed his hands through his hair in frustration. "You're right, I didn't know her then, but I do now, and now is what I need to deal with."

"I think she's going to be fine,” he offered. “A lot has happened to her since that night, and she'll deal with this now, with your help." Nick sighed. "I know you and I have always had a strained relationship, and god knows, Triona and I have had our issues over the years. But I do know that you love each other and that whatever happens, that will be what helps Triona to heal. And I'll do whatever I can, whatever you need, to help her finally put this behind her."

The hard look on Methos' face softened a little. "I appreciate that, Nick." He looked around. "Which way did you say she went?"

Nick pointed towards the back edge of the property and the small copse of holly tress that shielded the house from the wind that blew off the moor. "Do you know where she went?"

"No, but I know where she'll end up." Methos headed in the opposite direction, towards the stables he'd left a few minutes before. "Thanks again, Nick," he called over his shoulder as he lengthened his stride.

She might not be at the stables now, but Methos knew she'd show up there eventually. Wherever they had lived, Triona had always had a place she went when stressed or upset. Here, at the farm, it was the stable, with the horses. As he drew even with the door, he felt her warm presence envelop him, the only distinctive Immortal buzz he'd ever experienced in his five thousand odd years. Entering the stable, he headed towards the stall that held Spindrift, knowing that's where he'd find his wife. Sure enough, she was right where he expected, her arms around the Paso Fino’s neck, talking to it softly. He didn't interrupt, letting her acknowledge his presence in her own time. Watching her, he marveled yet again at the unexpected turn that his life had taken when he'd decided to go pester his 'nephew' that autumn day.

Drawing slightly away from the horse, she asked softly, "How long before she has her foal?" She scratched Spindrift behind the ears, eliciting a happy whicker from the horse.

Methos moved closer. "I'd say about three weeks."

"I bet you're looking forward to that day, aren't you, sweet thing?", she said softly to the animal. Still not looking at him, she crossed her arms tightly against her chest. "I take it Nicholas ratted me out." Her voice was neutral, and Methos knew she was fighting to keep her emotional equilibrium.

"You could say that," he agreed, reaching out and placing his hand gently on her shoulder. "He was worried about you. As am I."

Shrugging a little, she looked back at him. "I'm fine. Or I will be."

Shaking his head, he asked, "Why didn't you ever tell me about Divia?"

Triona stiffened, pulling away from him. "Talking about it would mean thinking about it, and I didn't want to do that."

"I can understand that," he said very gently, as if trying not to frighten her off.

She turned abruptly, looking at him sharply. "Can you?"

"Oh yes." Sighing, he reached out and brushed her cheek with a finger. "Maybe if I tell you something I haven't wanted to think about, let alone talk about for a very long time, you can finally tell me about what happened that night."

Looking at him quizzically, she took a step towards him. "I admit, I'm curious, but I've always thought talking about things is overrated." This time she actually smiled a little.

Methos laughed. "I had noticed." He tweaked her nose, then once more became serious, taking her hand in his. "Let's go sit over there." He nodded towards the pile of hay at the far end of the stables. As they walked, Methos snagged a horse blanket from a shelf on the wall, spreading it out for the two of them to sit on.

They sat across from each other on the blanket, Triona looking at him expectantly. When he remained silent, she said, "Like I said, talking is overrated." She squeezed his hand. "Why don't we just pass on the story telling portion of the evening and call it a night," she said hopefully.

Methos just shook his head. He knew she needed to deal with her memories of Divia -- and so did he. "Nice try though," he whispered, leaning in to brush his lips against hers. Straightening, he took a deep breath and began. "As you know, when I first met Lucius, he was a boy, and I was married to his aunt. As the years passed, I kept an ear out for him. He’d made quite a name for himself in the Emperor’s Army, so it wasn't hard to keep up with where he was and what he was doing. After Vesuvius erupted, I assumed he'd been killed ­ I was wrong. About twenty years later, I was in Thebes, and who should I run into one dark night, but my presumed late nephew."

"I don’t think I like where this is going," she said so softly, he could barely hear her.

"Needless to say, I didn't immediately recognize him, but he knew me. It didn't take me too long to figure out that he was now a vampire.  We caught up on old times, so to speak. While I was more than willing to spend some time with him, renewing our acquaintance, he seemed almost nervous and eager to be away. That should have been my first clue. But I hadn't seen him since he was a boy, so ignored it. He was just making his excuses as to why he needed to be off, when Divia appeared. I realized at that moment that he was afraid of her. Of course, by then, it was too late."

"I can figure out the rest," she interrupted, her voice strained. Her knuckles were white as she clutched the leather of her coat in tight fists. "I don’t need to hear anymore."

Methos looked at her sympathetically. He knew this was the last thing she wanted to talk about, but he was determined to see this through. Covering her hand with his, he continued, "I don't know how many nights passed, I was never able to come to full consciousness to tell. She told me she found my darkness, my evil, exhilarating."

"Methos, please stop," she begged. She tried to pull away, but he wouldn't let her.

He went on, not allowing her pain at his revelations to deter him from the brutal truth. “Divia was like Kronos dozens of times over, and she amplified the suffering of my victims a hundred fold in my mind." He laughed with no humour. "Poetic justice, one might say, to inflict the terror I brought to others back onto me."

He and Triona rarely spoke of his past. She had accepted his revelations and neither of them brought the subject up unless absolutely necessary. Looking back, he realized that that hadn’t necessarily been a good thing. But at the time, he had been reeling from the past he’d tried so hard to hide from blindsiding him. The fact that that Triona had even wanted to set eyes on him again after she found out, let alone actually wanted him to stay in her life, had been something he’d grasped onto like a drowning man. In the back of his mind, he’d always had the fear that Triona would wake up one day, and realize she’d made a terrible mistake. The fact she didn’t seem to want to talk about it allayed those fears somewhat, so he’d thankfully followed her lead.

“After some unknown length of time, I woke up, and only Lucius was there. He told me that Divia was dead, by his own hand. We never spoke of what happened again, or of Divia ­ until he told me what she’d done to you.” His shoulders slumped, exhausted by the emotional upheaval ­ his and hers.

Tears ran down Triona’s face. “You didn’t deserve what she did to you,” she said fiercely. “You didn’t!”

“You know that isn’t true.” He closed his eyes, shaking his head at her denial. “No! You’ve seen that side of me, the dark part of me that I can never fully subdue.” They both remembered all too vividly that morning under a Paris bridge when he’d finally shattered all trust between them.

“Yes, I know what you’re capable of, probably more so than almost anyone! But that doesn’t mean I get some sort of pleasure from knowing what she did to you or think you deserved it!” She gripped his shoulders. “No!” she forestalled his protest. “You always tell me I don’t listen to you, but that’s not true. What have you always told me? We are all good and evil, rage and compassion, love and hate,” she took a deep breath and looked at him intently, “murder and forgiveness. Did you think I could still love you and not have forgiven you in my heart? In my soul?”

“Honestly?” He looked tired and his eyes were pained. “Sometimes I don’t know why you love me.” Methos placed a finger against her lips, stopping her angry response. “I just know that you do.” He rested his forehead against hers. “And it’s enough,” he whispered. “It’s enough.”

The sound of sleet once again could be heard on the stable roof, and Triona shivered. Not from the cold so much as the onslaught of emotion that Methos' revelations had brought. Added to the newly reopened psychic wounds that her memories of what Divia had done to her had left, she found she couldn't stop shaking.

"You're cold." Methos pulled off his own coat, putting it around her shoulders and drawing her closer. She didn't correct him, just leaned tiredly into the soothing warmth of his body.

"And now I know where your aversion to vampires comes from," she said quietly.

He didn't deny it. It had been a frequent bone of contention between him and Lucien over Triona's eventual fate. Methos had tried in the beginning to free her from what he saw as an existence of darkness. When that had failed, he'd had to choose whether or not he walked away or accepted her as she was. "As far as I knew, you had no memories of Divia, and therefore, I couldn't explain it to you, not really."

It all made so much sense now, in retrospect.  Methos had come to an acceptance of her choice to be brought across, and what had happened afterwards. But it was that night two years later, when she had manifested as a true vampire after taking her first Quickening, that had irrevocably changed their relationship, and had led to the implosion that had almost destroyed that relationship permanently. "And after everything, I made you the victim of my first feeding. No wonder you ended up hating me!"

"No," he said firmly, taking her face between his hands and forcing her to look at him. "I was not a victim, and I never hated you."

"How can you say that?" she demanded.

"I had a choice, Triona. I did," he insisted, seeing the look of disbelief in here eyes. "I loved you. How could I let you suffer when I had the means to help you? I know you don't remember, but I had no fear in my heart when you fed from me -- only love. And it left us with a bond, a link, which bound us even closer together. Now, all these years later, it's a bond I cherish, though I know that, at the time, it was one that neither of us expected, or was really ready to deal with."

That was true enough. After they had been left with a psychic link, a blood bond, very much like what she and LaCroix had had when she was mortal, before LaCroix's ill-fated attempt to bring her across resulted in she and her Master sharing a full fledgling's bond. It was how she and Methos recognized each other’s Immortal 'buzz'. But that bond had been too much to deal with in the beginning -- especially for Methos. The day he'd walked out on her, their link had caused more pain than either of them had thought possible.

"I love you, Methos," she said, not only with her voice, but also mentally, wanting him to 'feel' that love. Then Triona began to cry, and once she started, she couldn't stop. So much grief, so much loss, the pain they'd inflicted on each other -- most of it unintentional, but far too much intentional. Yet the grief was mingled with amazement, that after everything they'd done and said to each other, that they were here, together. And that he loved her. That was the true miracle, and one she thanked God for every day.

He didn't tell her not to cry, just drew her into his embrace and held her till she stopped. She tilted her head to look up at him. "Will you take me back to the house? To our bed?" she asked, her voice faltering. "I can't deal with anything more. I promise, I'll tell you whatever you want to know in the morning. But not tonight, not in the dark."

Methos kissed her gently. "Of course, love. The morning is soon enough."

Morning came too soon as far as Triona was concerned as she forced herself to eat the oatmeal that Methos had made for her. She had no appetite, but she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. He’d been so pleased with himself, especially when she’d told him it was as good as Duncan’s. And it was, surprisingly enough. “I suppose I can expect a lot of oatmeal for dinner from now on, huh?” she asked, trying to keep her tone light.

“Well, it is something edible to add to my somewhat limited repertoire,” Methos admitted. “But you don’t need to eat anymore. I think you’ve proven your point.”

She looked up at him guiltily. “It really is wonderful,” she protested. “I’m just not very hungry.”

Smiling, he took the tray from her. “I know, but at least you ate something.” He handed Triona her teacup. “Just don’t get used to breakfast in bed. I wouldn’t want to spoil you,” Methos said, gently teasing.

“Hah!” She waggled a finger at him. “You should have thought of that the first morning we spent together, if that’s what you’re worried about! The precedent has been set, and by you,” she reminded him.

Methos took her finger, turning her hand so he could kiss the palm. “How could I forget?” They both smiled, sharing the memory of their first morning together. ‘Adam’ had insisted on breakfast in bed, and during that breakfast, he’d sliced his hand open with a knife while cutting an orange. “Bewitching little minx that you were, you soon had all my secrets.”

“And you had my heart,” Triona replied softly. She squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. She knew it would just be harder the longer she put it off, but talking about what had happened that night filled her with dread.  She looked into Methos’ eyes and drew courage from what she saw there: love, faith, and acceptance. “I guess it’s time, isn’t it?”

He nodded silently, smiling encouragingly.

She returned his smile, then taking one more deep breath she began. “My life had just started to seem more normal. I’d been at the estate for several months, and I didn’t feel as lost and desperate as I had before; after Janette left.” Triona closed her eyes and Methos took her hand, squeezing it reassuringly.  She leaned against him, remembering. “After she left, I’d finally realized what the cost of the choices I’d made were going to be. There was no escape – except in death, and I didn’t want to die.”

“Where there’s life, there’s hope?” he asked quietly.

Laughing softly, she looked up at him. “A sentiment we both share.” Once more serious, she continued, “After Janette left, Lucien was so angry. Not at her, but at how she felt she had no choice – because of Nicholas.”

“And you were a convenient target of that anger,” he said neutrally, but Triona knew he was trying hard to remain calm.  They did a delicate balancing act, the three of them. It was a sometimes-strained triangle. Both Methos and LaCroix were very old and powerful personalities, with Triona often the eye of the storm between them.

“It’s okay,” she said softly, rubbing his arm soothingly. “I forgave him long ago. He was different then, and so was I. We both changed to be where and what we are now. And a great deal of that was due to you. You saved both of us.” It was true; Triona knew that now. When Methos had entered her life, her relationship with the ancient vampire had changed her both mentally and physically, to the point where she’d been incapable of saving herself. Only Methos’ intervention had done that. “You’re right, I was a convenient target. It was months before Nicholas even noticed Janette was gone, and that night he finally showed up at the Raven, he and LaCroix fought. Nothing new, of course, but that night something was different. Everything was somehow more intense, more emotionally wrought. And that night, LaCroix almost killed me. I was very surprised when I woke up at the estate, that I woke up at all.” She said it matter-of-factly – it was nothing more than the truth.  “After, he told me that the Raven was an unhealthy place for me, for us, that there were too many undercurrents and memories.”

Methos drew her closer. “There are times when I wonder at fate. I visited Lucien only been a few months before the two of you met. You were with Janette already, but you weren’t at the Raven when we went to see her,” he said, the melancholy tone matching her mood.

“It was Christmas and I’d gone to visit Stephanie at college.”

“If only I’d met you then. Sometimes I wonder…” he broke off, shaking his head in irritation. “I should know better. The past is done and finished and no amount of wishing can change that.”

“If wishes were horses, huh?”

He smiled down at her. “Something like that.”

“So, I was now at the estate, and life wasn’t exactly normal, but I was content after a fashion. I was even working. I’d always taken care of Janette’s financial interests, and had kept managing the club, but after that night, LaCroix put all of his own varied business interests into my care. It was his way of apologizing,” she said with fond exasperation. “You know what he’s like.”

Methos just smiled.

“And it was an acknowledgement that he trusted me.” Triona had been a very successful investment banker before she’d accepted Janette’s offer to manage the Raven and to take care of her business interests.  Over the years, she’d taken on several Immortal clients, mostly friends of Methos and Duncan’s. Teaching wasn’t something she needed to do for the money, but something she did because she enjoyed it. There would be no drifting through the ages for Triona. She intended to experience everything she could, to take advantage of the life fate had given her. That outlook was something else she and her husband, the oldest Immortal, shared.

Triona looked down at the teacup she still held in one hand, realizing it was empty. Levering herself up off the bed, she went over to the teapot that Methos had left on the dresser, removing the cozy from the pot. As she poured a small amount of milk into her cup, she said, “The months passed. I worked, I walked the grounds, went riding, worked my way through the books in the library.”

“Lady of the Manor,” Methos said, smiling, coming to stand next to her. Picking up the pot, he poured the tea, filling her cup.

Nodding, she said, “And then, one night, I got a phone call.” She turned away, tea forgotten. “It was from one of the staff at the Raven, and they told me that Lucien had been taken away by the police in relation to a murdered man discovered at the club….”

Triona slammed the car door shut, pulling her heavy dark green wool coat closer around her body. It was freezing, and her breath hung around her like mist. Feeling a presence, she looked around, realizing it was Nick as he strode towards her in the Toronto PD parking lot.

“Why are you here, Triona?” Nick demanded.

Shaking her head in disbelief, she replied angrily, “Why am I here? Why do you think? You are holding our Master in police custody on some ridiculous pretext, and without benefit of legal representation, I’m sure!”

“There was a decapitated body found in the Raven. Hardly what I’d call a ridiculous pretext!” he said heatedly.

“I know all this, Detective. It doesn’t change anything!”

“And how exactly do you know?” the blonde vampire demanded.

“Urs called me.”

“She shouldn’t have.”

“No, you’re right – you should have!” she spat out, attempting to walk past him.

He grabbed her upper arm, stopping her. “You don’t belong here, Triona. Go home, leave it alone. It doesn’t concern you!”

She pulled away violently “The hell I’m going home! I want to see him,” she demanded, more furious at Nick than she’d ever been,

“Out of the question,” Nick snapped.

“You think so? Since you’re incapable of influencing me mentally,” she said, her voice dripping with condescension, “how exactly were you planning on stopping me?” Before Nick could form a reply, she continued in a low voice laced with fury, “It’s time you faced facts, Nicholas. I’m his, and nothing you do or try to do is ever going to change that. I won’t allow it, and neither will LaCroix.” With that she pushed past him, and this time, he didn’t try to stop her.

“Should I call your lawyer?” Triona asked LaCroix quietly. He was in a holding cell, the other occupants huddled in the opposite corner in obvious fear.

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” he replied. He quelled her protest with a sharp look. “I appreciate your concern, my dear, but it is misplaced. I have been held by the Inquisition, and this,” he waved one hand negligently at the bars of the cell, “is nothing to concern you.”

“But it does concern me! This is all Nicholas’s doing – you shouldn’t be here,” she hissed.

“Ah, Nicholas. He, I presume, is the reason for your agitation?”

“Yes. I spoke to him in the parking lot. He tried to stop me from seeing you, said I didn’t belong here,” she explained, becoming angry all over again.

“And he was correct,” LaCroix said firmly.

Triona stepped back, stunned. He was taking Nick’s side? After everything he’d done? Fighting back tears, she shook her head in denial. “How can you say that?”

“I do not want you involved in this. You will go back to the estate and there you will stay till I inform you otherwise.” His tone brooked no argument, nor did he expect one.

Common sense fled as anger took over. “No! I won’t leave until you’re released!”

“Triona,” he said, his voice dangerously low, “you know better than to defy me.”

She felt a stab of fear as she walked toward the bars of the cell against her will, compelled by the ancient vampire who held her in his thrall. “Don’t.” Her protest was a mixture of pleading and defiance.

He rested the tips of his fingers against the pounding pulse at her throat. “You try my patience, child.  You will do as you are told, and we will discuss the consequences of disobedience when next we meet.” It was a warning and a promise.

Shaking her head mutely, Triona clenched her hands into fists, fighting back the angry words that threatened to spill from her lips. With one last look at her Master, she spun on her heel and fled the holding area.

Leaning against her car, Triona futilely tried to find a tissue in her coat pocket while at the same time, trying not to cry. Something brushed against her cheek, startling her. She realized it was a handkerchief.

“It can’t be that bad, Princess,” a voice said as she turned around, looking up into the dark eyes of Javier Vachon. She took the proffered hankie from the handsome Spanish vampire and dabbed at her eyes.

She smiled a little at the use of ‘princess’. He’d been calling her that since they’d become friends after LaCroix had initially moved her into rooms at the Raven after Janette’s departure. “You sure about that?” she asked dispiritedly.

Vachon sighed. “You ticked off the General again, didn’t you?” Shaking his head, not needing her nod to confirm his question, he said, “Princess, most *vampires* are afraid of LaCroix, and you aren’t a vampire. You’re a very fragile mortal woman -- a woman who should know better by now! You’ve got to do some major work on the meek and obedient thing.” He smiled, brushing away a tear from her face.

Triona snorted. Meek, let alone obedient, was not her strong suit. “I know you’re right, Vachon, I do! But I’ve never been good at submitting. And tonight, I was already furious.” Briefly, she explained what had happened between her and Nick. “And when LaCroix agreed with him, I felt betrayed and hurt, and I was angry.” Triona looked up at the night sky and shook her head in aggravation. “So angry I openly defied him.”

“You do like to live dangerously, querida.” Vachon grasped her chin gently, looking down at her intently, his dark eyes and pale face framed by shoulder length black curls. “When you see him again, you’re going to beg his forgiveness… Uh uh!” He waved a finger at her admonishingly when she began to protest. “You’re going to beg his forgiveness,” he repeated firmly, “and you’re going to keep those firecracker eyes of yours downcast, the perfect portrait of meek and modest womanhood.”

“You’ve got to be kidding!” Triona looked aghast at his instructions. “Besides, he’d never buy it. He’d know instantly I didn’t actually feel what I was portraying outwardly.”

Vachon just crossed his arms, grinning. “Maybe, maybe not. But even so, I can guarantee you it will amuse him, not to mention distract him. Never underestimate the power of your womanly wiles, Princess.”

That pulled an actual laugh from her. “Womanly wiles,” she repeated, amused at the concept.

“Hey, don’t laugh. I’m sharing the benefit of my male experience with you!”

Triona gave him a quick hug and kissed his cheek. “I appreciate that, Vachon.”

“At least promise me you’ll try?” She nodded. “Good, because I want to see your very pretty face around for many years to come. Got it?”

“Got it.”

Vachon looked around. “And now I have an appointment with a certain pretty blonde homicide detective, whom I’m certain is going to try and pump me for information on tonight’s happenings at the Raven.”

“Have fun!” Triona said mischievously as he walked away.

“Remember: meek!” he tossed over his shoulder. “I’ll see you around, Princess.” One last smile and he was gone.

Methos pulled her into his arms as she started to cry, drawing her down to sit on the antique chest at the foot of the bed. “Shhh… it’s okay.”

“I’ve never been able to grieve for him till now. Never really realized she’d killed him till this moment.” Triona buried her face in her hands, wishing she could stem the wash of memories that were now tumbling wildly around her mind. “It’s like opening a drawer with all sorts of bits and pieces you barely remember putting there, and picking them up one by one, all the memories out of order.”

“I’m sorry, love.” He stroked her hair gently.

“He was a good friend, a good man, and he made me laugh at a time when I didn’t laugh all that much.”

“I wish I could thank him for that.”

“So do I,” she whispered. “So do I.”

He held her quietly, giving her time to regain her composure.

“Why ‘princess’?” he finally asked, curious. 

Triona looked up and smiled tremulously. “He said I was like a princess locked away from the world, the prized possession of the powerful king.” Methos nodded in understanding. “After that, it became something of a private joke between the two of us.”

The sound of the grandfather clock in the stairway could be heard striking ten, and once more, the sound of rain beating against the roof echoed through the room. Triona drew her legs up, wrapping her arms around her knees. “So I drove away, and never saw Vachon again. I did as I was told, did as I was commanded,” she amended, continuing her tale, “and went back to the estate….”

Triona turned off the radio in her room, her brow creased in puzzlement. The girl who had called LaCroix’s show had called him Lucius, his mortal name, and Triona had sensed the tightly wound tension in his response. What was going on? She fought down the urge to call him, so see if he was all right. He wasn’t interested in her concern, so why bother? He’d probably just reprimand her again. The ring of the phone interrupted her troubled thoughts. Answering it, she wasn’t sure if she was surprised or not that LaCroix was on the other end of the line.

“Listen to me carefully, child,” he said peremptorily with no pleasantries, “You are to leave the estate immediately.”

Leave? After him ordering her to come back here and stay put? “You told me to come back here, and to stay here, and I did as you asked. Now you want me to leave?” She fought hard to keep her voice calm, trying to remember Vachon’s advice, but not succeeding. She was tired of being treated like a child.

“This is not the time for you to be childish,” his voice rapped out from the receiver. “You will go to the airport, and get on whatever the first flight leaving Toronto is, and then you will go to Janette. You will stay with her till I contact you.”

She didn’t reply, taking an angry breath and wishing she could smash the phone against the wall.

“Triona, you will do this,” he commanded in a voice that left no doubt that she best not be even considering the possibility of disobeying him.

Shoulders slumping in defeat, she said tonelessly, “I’ll do as you wish.” He didn’t even bother to reply, a dial tone now sounding in her ear. Slamming the receiver back into the cradle, she gave into her earlier impulse, picking up the phone and throwing it violently against the wall.

Seething, Triona threw her suitcase into the trunk of her car, slamming the lid down and kicking the bumper for good measure.  No more, she thought angrily. She would stay with Janette, refuse to come back when he summoned her like a pet. He and Nicholas were welcome to each other! As she reached for the handle of the car door, a wave of dread swept across her, and she felt like she couldn’t breath. An icy chill that was much more than the wind that blew off the lake made her tremble uncontrollably.

“So much anger, so much rage,” a voice said from somewhere behind her. Triona recognized the voice. It was the girl from the radio. She slowly turned around, feeling as if her legs wouldn’t hold her. There, a few feet away, was a child, but not a child, a part of her mind noted. Blonde hair, blue eyes, delicate features, dressed in black. She didn’t look more than twelve, but Triona *knew* she was far, far older. Fighting down the terror that threatened to overwhelm her, Triona pressed against the car, still gripping the handle behind her. Something seemed to amuse the girl, because she laughed. It was the most soulless sound Triona had ever heard.

“Who are you?” Triona managed to force the question from her lips.

“Why, I am your death. Surely you realize that?” The blonde child paused, looking at her contemplatively. “But, I suppose it’s only right that we’re properly introduced before I kill you,” she added conversationally, as if she were discussing the weather. “My name is Divia.”

Absurdly, she found herself reciprocating. “Triona.”

Divia smiled, seemingly delighted. “What a brave little mortal you are. But I suppose I should expect that of one my father would make his concubine.”

“Father?” Triona asked, but somehow she already knew the answer. The child, Divia, was LaCroix’s daughter, no matter how bizarre that might seem.

“Father, son, as I am daughter and mother.” She stepped closer to Triona. “I made him, gave him immortality, and then he murdered me!” All amusement was gone. Now, the vampire’s delicate face was a study in fury. Triona cried out in pain as the girl’s anger raked across her senses. “And now I will have my vengeance. I will kill all those he loves, leaving him as alone as he left me!”

Triona laughed with barely controlled hysteria. “Loves? Then what do you want with me? Your father loves me no more than a prized horse, or a piece of art. I’m only a woman, not his son, not Nicholas!” Rage had overcome terror for the moment, and she let if have full reign.  Without even knowing how it happened, she found herself on her knees. Divia looking down at her.

“You underestimate your value to him, my almost granddaughter. It’s really too bad, because you would have made a suitable fledgling, worthy of the gift I granted you.” She sighed with what might have been regret. “But you have a strong bond with Lucius. And through that bond, he will bear your suffering, knowing he is the cause.” Divia caressed Triona’s cheek and she was powerless to pull away. “I’m sorry this can’t be a quick death, but I need you to linger long enough to fulfill my revenge.”

She couldn’t even close her eyes as Divia pulled her head to the side, exposing her throat. The child vampire assaulted her mentally before she did physically, and Triona tried to flee into her mind, but there was no escape. “You won’t be brave for much longer, little mortal,” were the last words Triona heard before the agony of Divia’s fangs piercing her throat drove away all rational thought, leaving nothing but terror and torment for what seemed like an eternity.

“When I finally woke up, the last thing I remembered was walking out of the police station. Lucien told me I’d been in an accident, that my car had skidded on the ice and overturned into a ditch. He said I’d been in a coma and while I was unconscious, had contracted pneumonia from being exposed to the elements for so many hours till I had been found. It fit all my symptoms, the memory loss, and the weakness. And it all fit with my last memories, being so angry with Nicholas and LaCroix. I assumed that my emotional upset had led to me not paying attention when I drove home, leading to the accident. Lucien even insisted my next vehicle be a four wheel drive, so I’d be safer driving in the winter.” Triona shook her head. “He thought of everything.”

“He’s always been thorough,” Methos agreed with grudging admiration.

“That he is,” she said absently. Standing up, Triona walked a little way so she could see out the window, but not be in direct path of the light that came through it. She stared into space, her thoughts far away.

“What is it?” her husband asked quietly, coming to stand next to her, taking her right hand in both of his.

Shaking her head, she didn’t immediately reply. Triona didn’t really know how to put into words what she was feeling. “I think it’s my mind trying to sort out the memories and the almost memories,” she finally said.

“Almost memories?”

She looked up at him, an expression of frustration crossing her face. “I don’t know how else to describe it. Yes, now I remember everything up to the attack, but what happened after, I can’t really pin down. I have memories, but they’re more like dreams. And to tell the truth, I’m not sure what are my own actual recollections, and what are Lucien’s.”

Lifting her hand, he cradled her arm against his chest, massaging the palm gently. "Maybe you shouldn't try and figure it out." Entwining his fingers in hers, Methos tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear with his other hand. "You can't force it, sweet. You’ve had to process a huge amount of memory and emotion in the last twelve hours. Give yourself some time to deal with that before you try and remember more.”

Triona kissed the hand that held hers. "Maybe you're right. It's just that I want it all clear in my mind, now I've remembered. I wish it was night," she said wistfully, "I'd really like to go for a walk."

"A walk, you say?" He tweaked her nose making her smile. "How about an indoor walk?"

"A what?"

"Well, this house is certainly big enough. We could take a turn around the halls, stroll through the rooms," he leaned down to whisper lasciviously in her ear, "explore the closets."

"Have I mentioned that you're nuts?" Triona punched his arm playfully.

"I prefer 'inspired'," he declared loftily, eliciting a snicker from Triona. "Shall we?" he asked, crooking his arm for her to take.


"This is the best picnic I've ever been on," Triona said, picking up her glass and taking a sip of her wine.

They had taken their walk, Methos taking an inordinate interest in the closets, finishing in the wine cellar. On the way down, they'd stopped in the kitchen, gathering the makings of a picnic lunch. Now, they were sitting on the bench at the rough plank table in the cellar, enjoying their picnic by candlelight.

"Like I told you, 'inspired'!" Methos replied smugly.

"And witty, and handsome, and very sexy." Leaning in, she kissed the corner of his mouth.

"Don't stop now," he teased softly, twining his fingers into her hair

"And I am blessed to have you in my life."

"That might be open for debate," he replied acerbically.

"No, it's not." She cut off anything else he might say, capturing his lips with hers. Breaking the kiss, she asked, "Any argument?"

"None." He shook his head, grinning. "You can be very convincing.”

She trailed her fingers along his arm. "If you ever need more convincing, just let me know." Giggling, she batted her eyelashes at him outrageously.

"I'll be sure to make an appointment," he replied dryly. Refilling her wineglass, he asked, "So, how's the overactive brain doing now?"

"Much better. By not trying to remember, I remember." Taking another sip of her wine, she smiled over her glass at him before setting it down. "Or something like that." It had been odd, while taking her 'walk' with Methos and listening to one of his many amusing stories from his past, how snatches of memories floated into order, becoming more concrete.

"Anything you want to talk about?" He covered her hand with his, and Triona could feel his concern.

Shrugging, she looked into the candle flame. "Things like the candle. It reminded me of waking up in a dark room, only lit by a few candles, a bright light shining in my eyes, and the intense pain it caused, whispers, concerned voices, then drifting back into blackness."

"Lucien told me that Nick's coroner friend treated you, gave you blood transfusions, IV fluids. You're probably remembering her testing your pupil response."

"Natalie," she nodded, "Dr. Lambert. I remember her being there -- one of the concerned voices. I would wake up, and Lucien would be sitting next to me, holding my hand. I was terrified of being left alone, and he never did," she said quietly. "Sometimes, when I'd wake up, he'd be speaking to me in the softest voice.” And there, out of seemingly nowhere, came the realization. “And he actually sounded afraid. Afraid of losing me." A note of wonder tinged her voice as the memory fully crystallized.

"Divia was right, you did underestimate your importance to him," Methos observed, squeezing her hand.

She shook her head sadly. "Such a loss."

His brow creased in puzzlement. "What?"

"The memories, and what they represented. How different things might have been if I had more to remember than anger and thinking Lucien didn't care."

“There’s a reason they say hindsight is always 20/20,” he reminded her softly.

“Isn’t that the truth?” Triona laughed sharply. “And yet, we manage to muddle through somehow.”



“That’s cynical of you,” Methos commented lightly.

“Please! With the company I keep? Cynical doesn’t even begin to cover it!” She smiled to take any sting from her words.

“Ouch!” He held up had hands as if to ward her off. “I guess you must be feeling more like your old self.”

Triona looked at him suspiciously. “And what’s that supposed to mean exactly?”

“Oh, nothing,” he replied airily, lips twitching.

“Uh huh.” She didn’t believe him for a second. “But I’ll let it go just this once,” she told him sternly, but with laughing eyes.

“You’re far too good to me,” he said, his voice husky.

She swayed, drawing closer, till their faces were a bare inch from each other. Methos always seemed to radiate a warmth that she always found irresistible, and now was no exception. Holding his gaze, she placed her palms against his chest, skimming her lips across his, barely touching them. “You’re right, I probably am,” she said in the barest of whispers. “But I’m sure you can think of a way to thank me.”

“Of that I have no doubt.” Methos pulled her closer, his fingers splayed across her ribs. “Many ways, in fact.” He placed light kisses, like the brush of silken strands, all over her face, before moving back to her lips.

“Many?” She shivered a little at the intense look in his eyes.

“And I intend to demonstrate all of them before the day ends.” He kissed her then, long and lingering.

As he gathered her into his arms, she sighed in contentment. “Well, we are newlyweds, after all.”

Triona ran a hand through her hair, slowly waking up. Considering the bedroom was dark, she must have been asleep for some time. That was some picnic, she thought, smiling as she remembered just how the impromptu meal had ended. She already knew Methos was gone, but ran a hand over his pillow out of habit. Glancing over at the glowing display of the clock on the bedside table, she saw it was a little after 6pm. Rolling over, she considered going back to sleep, but sternly ordered herself to get up.

After showering and throwing on her old jeans, an emerald green T-shirt, and her favorite old moth-eaten sweater, Triona went to open the door. Instead of just a doorknob, her hand went around a piece of paper as well. Pulling the tape away, she read the note Methos had left:

‘Needed to run some errands before the shops closed. Dinner is keeping warm on the back of the stove. See you when I get home.

P.S. You’re beautiful when you’re sleeping’

She smiled tenderly remembering all over again how much she loved him. Dinner? Come to think of it she was hungry. In fact, she felt happy and normal, almost as if the last two days hadn’t happened. The past wasn’t forgotten, but it wasn’t overpowering her present either, and that was something to be happy about indeed.

Making her way briskly down the stairs and down the hall to the kitchen, she wondered just what she’d find to eat. Entering the kitchen, she went to the stove, and eagerly took the lid off the pot. She was torn between laughter and wanting to kill him, seeing what was inside: oatmeal!

“I swear, I’m going to kill him,” she muttered. Shaking her head, she said out loud to herself. “I guess you’re making dinner.”

“Actually, I have a message for you,” Nick’s voice said from behind her. This time, she’d actually been aware of his presence entering the periphery of her senses, so didn’t shriek as she had the morning before.

“Oh?” She turned, looking at him expectantly.

Nick was grinning. “Methos said that if there were any threats against his life, for me to tell you he’s bringing pizza back.”

“And beer, no doubt,” Triona replied, rolling her eyes.

Nick laughed. “No doubt.”

She joined in his laughter. “Despite his deficiencies, I think I’ll keep him.”

“I’m glad.” He shook his head. “I may not quite understand it, but the three of you belong together.”

Leaning against the counter, she said, “Since I don’t quite understand it either, we’re even.”

Nick poured her a glass of wine from the decanter in the center of the kitchen table and handed it to her. “I admit, I don’t think I could do what Methos and LaCroix do. Maybe I’m too much a product of the time I grew up in.”

She shrugged, taking a sip of the wine. Thinking a moment, she said, “It definitely helps that both of them come from a time with very different sexual mores than now. Truth be told, I’m probably the one who had the most trouble with our relationship in the beginning. I still do, on occasion,” she admitted.

“How did you -- how do you -- deal with it?” he asked, intensely curious.

“I try and remember what LaCroix always tells me – you know, the usual speech -- that we’re not human anymore, not mortal, that human conventions don’t apply. And more importantly, I remind myself of how much they both love me, and how I love them. My life, my heart, wouldn’t be complete without both of them. When I see all the possible centuries that lay before me, I can’t imagine those long years without them by my side.” The last was said with a love that no one hearing could doubt.

“I envy you,” Nick said simply.

Triona reached over and took Nick’s hand. “We’re always here, Nicholas. You just have to want to be with us.”

“And if I chose that, to come back, you wouldn’t object?”

“What makes you think my objections would matter?” she countered.

“Because I know that you’ve all moved on without me. I’m looking in the window at all I could have had, but threw away. I know that your presence in LaCroix’s life has made a place where I could be content, if only I could allow you in, to accept my family, to be a part of what you are now.”

The intensity of emotion in Nick’s voice, and through the ephemeral link they shared, struck Triona deeply. With barely a conscious thought, she took the knife that was lying on the counter, and sliced open her wrist, thrusting it at Nick. “This is offered freely.”

The internal struggle was obvious as it played across his face. Coming to a decision, Nick took the proffered offering, drawing her wrist to his mouth, partaking of her blood. Triona kept mental control, drawing him back into their familial bond. She ‘knew’ it wasn’t something he’d ever experienced, she was both prey and family. She was their Master; she was Janette, Stephanie, and Methos, her sisters. Everything he’d fled from, but wanted back.

Tears ran down her face as Nick absorbed feeling and thought, along with her life’s blood. There wasn’t anything erotic about this feeding. It was only about love, acceptance, and family. She felt Methos as he entered the room, and mentally drew him into what was enfolding. She hadn’t planned on this, but it seemed right. She was a conduit, a catalyst, and it was an aspect of what she’d become since that long ago night in Toronto when LaCroix had first drank of her blood.

Nick drew away, chastely kissing her now healing wrist, as Methos pulled her gently against his chest, his arms coming around to enfold her. She leaned against his strength as she continued to mentally wrap Nick in the warmth of family and belonging. Triona shuddered, pulling together the strands of what the night had wrought as her husband took the wrist Nick had released, and gently caressed it with his lips, almost making her swoon.

No matter what their past, and what their future might bring, now, at this moment, they were family, and nothing could break that bond. Ironic that the very family Divia had attempted to destroy had instead been strengthened at its very foundation. At the very edge of her awareness, Triona could almost believe that Lucien was here with them, a part of this joining. It was as it should be. And with that, Triona was content.


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