“We exposed ourselves to the others. Will we be safe?” Liz asked.
“Fear not, Elizabeth. We have filtered many images from the minds of those we feel would call you out or see your family harmed because of who and what you are. Others, like you, will remember.”
“What of the stones? We have only the three.”
Elise swept her gaze over to Tatiana who hovered above Cian. “Show them, m’dear.”
Tatiana nodded and extended her hand to a chest sitting against the wall. Cian opened the latch and found the three missing sacred stones.
“They are entrusted to you, your family. As each of you go your separate ways, take one stone each.”
“Separate ways? What are you saying? Are we going to be divided?”
Elise laid a hand to Lora’s arm. “Only if you choose to do so, m’lady.”
“Then our need to travel in time is over.”
“Nay, m’lord. With Grainna gone, you can do so now with only one stone each.”
Liz glanced at her son. They could return home if they wanted to. “Can we come and go as we please?”
“Everything has a cost, Elizabeth. Use the stones with caution. Do not attempt to return to any time that you’ve already been. The results would be…unpleasant.” Elise directed her next words to Cian. “You cannot bring her back.”
“Why? Why did she have to die?” His voice cracked when he spoke.
“Look again, Cian. Tatiana’s soul is not dead. It lives on. Her redemption came from helping you all defeat Grainna. She has finally found peace. Peace she never would have had in this life.”
“She’s been taken from me.”
“Her soul will live again. As will yours. Look around you, see the love that time has brought into your family.”
When a tear fell down his cheek, Liz had to close her eyes. His pain, touchable.
“Come, m’dear. Comfort your love, tell him to live.”
Tatiana hovered beside Elise. This time when she opened her mouth, she spoke.
“Don’t weep, Cian. I have seen the future. Ye will love again. Yer sons will be honorable men, yer daughters beautiful and blessed with yer eyes.”
He tilted his head to the side as her hand caressed his cheek. His face lost some of the strain of his grief.
The ghost of Tatiana kissed his cheek. “Goodbye, Cian. Thank ye for yer love, ’twas the only love I had in this life. I will forever be grateful for it.” Tatiana soared above them all and disappeared into a wisp of wind.
Elise smoothed a hand over Cian’s face, smiled and stepped to Amber and repeated the move. She touched each of them once bringing a wave of peace, enlightenment.
“Live long and valiant lives, m’dears. Love each other and teach your children what has happened here today.” With those final words, Elise stepped back into her iridescent cloud and floated up and out of their sight.
“I think we’ve earned ourselves one hell of a celebration,” Liz said once they’d all taken a few deep breathes. She glanced at Cian to judge his thoughts. “Unless you disagree, Cian.”
The young man looked up, smiled. “Nay. Tatiana’s life is to be celebrated.”
Ian placed a hand over his son’s shoulders and led him from the keep. ****
“You guys sure know how to party, MacCoinnich,” Liz called out over the noise of the players filling the courtyard with music, while people danced and laughed over each other.
The band of warriors met with cheers and praise from those left at Brisbane’s keep. A feast filled their bellies and wine and ale fluttered their heads.
Fin hadn’t let Liz go for a moment once they bathed and changed back into proper clothing.
The women wore their finest gowns and adorned their hair with flowers. Tara danced with Duncan with her son in her arms and Myra taught Todd a few of their dances, stopping often to kiss him.
Amber and Simon danced with children their own ages and even Cian laughed along with them.
Liz looked around the crush of people, searching for Ian and Lora. She noticed the couple sneaking off from the group, their heads pushed together. “Go Lora,” she whispered, laughing at herself.
Tara stumbled over her way, dragging Myra and Amber with her. “Well, sisters, looks like we did it.”
Tara held her glass of wine up high.
“We did.” Liz clicked her mug to the others and drank.
“We helped.” The men came up behind them, squeezing close.
Fin’s arms circled Liz’s waist, her head fell back on his shoulder. “I can’t believe this is all over. No more fighting, no more worry.”
“It’s like the sun is shining for the first time,”
Liz turned in Fin’s arms. “I don’t know about that. There’s been a lot of sunshine in spite of, you-know-who.”
Fin’s lips sought hers, tender, brief. She moved close and when he tried to move away, she reached for his head and forced him into a much more enjoyable kiss. When he let go, her head was dizzy and she stumbled.
Duncan bellowed a laugh, the others joined in.
“Sunshine and moonbeams, love,” Fin added.
“I heard that the wedding between Brisbane and Regina is on again,” Todd said.
“Someone told me that Brisbane is requesting the ceremony tomorrow morning.”
“He doesn’t want her to get away again.”
Duncan rolled his eyes. “I don’t know why.”
“Maybe he loves her,” Amber suggested.
Liz shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Can we really travel back home if we want?”
Fin’s hands tightened on her shoulders. The same wave of tension flowed down her back.
“That’s what Elise said.”
“Is that what you want?” Fin asked.
Simon stared at him, then caught Liz’s eyes. “I guess that depends.”
“Depends on what, Simon.”
A smirk played across his face. “Depends on if you’re going to make an honest woman of my mother.”
Todd laughed outright. Tara smothered her smiling mouth with her hand, and Cian spit out the wine he drank.
The only two not laughing were her and Fin.
“Well?” Simon demanded.
“Simon!” Liz scolded.
“No, Mom. I have a right to know.”
She started to tell him to stop being pushy, but Fin cut her off. “Tell me, do you approve of your mother and I together?”
Simon rolled his eyes. “Duh.” The teenage attitude superseded his grown up question of moments ago.