She held him, panting, her eyes finally closed against the horrors she had just witnessed.
He shivered in her arms, naked beneath the emerald green mantle she threw over him. His skin was tight and hot--fevered--she suspected; it slid tautly across muscles still bunched in anticipation. She opened her eyes, drinking in the sight of him. Mortal, vulnerable. Rescued. “Shhh,” she cooed, a finger pulling the sweat-soaked hair back from his glowing and narrowed eyes. “Tam Lin...”
He quaked at her words, and his lips twisted in a pained smile. The eerie glow left his eyes. “No,” he whispered. “Not Tam Lin—Thomas.”
Jennet grinned. It was over. The battle was won, her lover was freed. Surely their troubles were at an end and tomorrow they would be wed and greet a life filled with grand beginnings. Jennet had never thought how much joy an end could bring...
But it seemed one end was not enough. Indeed, it seemed that Jennet had reached another end, the end of the Dark Queen’s patience. The Queen’s voice broke through her reverie, sharp as newly broken glass. “You have taken my Tam Lin, girl. Stolen what was yet mine.” Her steed stamped a golden hoof, sparks glittering across the scattered flagstone of the old Roman road. Leaves skittered across the ground making noises like tiny scraping claws before they began to swirl around Jennet’s circle, widdershins.
Jennet hissed, crouching above the still prone form of Thomas, protective as a mother wolf. She had not forgotten the danger that stood just at the edge of her carefully warded circle—how could she when the eyes of all the ambassadors of the Realm stood glittering and glaring down at her frail mortal form nearly draped (with no great grace or forethought for propriety or aesthetics, she knew) over a newly mortal man. Yes, such disapproving eyes were hard to forget.
She stood, pulling herself to her full height—damnably diminutive when faced with the long slender elves and graceful fae. But such thoughts merely gave her a fiercer determination. “He was never yours,” she said, biting each word off crisply. “And he never shall be again.” Her chin jutted out with newfound arrogance.
She deserved a bit of arrogance, didn’t she? After all, she had just wrestled the Dark Queen’s favorite chew toy from her icy grasp... Her circle flared--and flickered. The dark and drifting things (which defied explanation from all Jennet knew of myth, legend and religion) at the edge of her circle rolled closer. Jennet blinked. Not now, she willed, digging her toes into the ground and connecting with the earth, the root of her blossoming powers. The circle glowed a cool blue, and steadied.
The faeries took a respectful step back.
The Dark Queen raised an elegantly shaped eyebrow, nonplussed by a show of mortal power. “He was mine in more ways than you can imagine, little one,” she purred. “He was marked...”
“What? This old thing?” Jennet asked defiantly, slipped a toe beneath the serpent-shaped brooch and flipping it across the boundary that held she and Thomas safe.
The Queen snarled.
“I marked him first,” Jennet declared, grabbing Thomas by the shoulders and pulling him to a kneeling position before the whole of the Unseelie Court. Around his neck the leather lacing still hung, and at its center the silver bell winked boldly.
The Queen shrieked her rage and raised a quivering hand towards the pair, eyes glowing bright as hellfire....
Sorry, I can't really do the end, like "The End," you know? And yes, this is rough, and yes, I'd probably rework some parentheses so they'd disappear into the story, but hey. ;-)
Hope you enjoyed it nonetheless...