The night winds were harsh as Zane flew. A horrible blizzard had stirred up after months of snow and hail. It made it incredibly hard to see where he was flying but he was determined to get home. He missed his wife and two daughters and longed for hugs from all three of them. This had been a nasty job, one of the ones that would stay with and haunt him. He had to kill a ten year old and no matter how evil that kid was it still had been a hard thing to do. He actually hesitated and in so had let the little boy claim another victim. Guns, horrible devices he felt should have never been made. If that little boy hadn’t owned one Zanes hesitation to kill a child wouldn’t have resulted in another death.
Deep down he knew he was just blaming the gun because he needed to shift blame. As an assassin he should never hesitate, he should always be cold but children were his weakness. It wasn’t somthing anybody but Belle was aware of but they were all the same. It angered him in so many ways. Especially because he knew that kid had to have had a horrible life in order to be that cruel and heartless at only ten years old. His own son Zane Jr was depressed and out of sorts for months after he was put in a situation where he had to kill to protect people he loved and he was the son of an assassin.
When Zane was only an hour from home he made it out of the blizzard which was a relief not so much because he didn’t have to fly in it but for the fact it obviously wasn’t affecting his family. He laughed at himself when he almost flew to his old home. They had recently paid a bunch of men to build them a bigger house in another part of the village. Both Zane and Belle had wanted a bigger home anyway so when they heard of a large number of men out of work last year they paid them to build a house big enough so that all their children could stay with them at once if they wanted. Their dining room was also large so they could seat their whole family at the table if they wanted. It was what they needed and a little more to accommodate their family growing.
In the end Belle had grown so close to the workers and felt so much for them that she convinced Zane to pay them even more than he had originally promised since they had the money to spare. Belle even invited them and their families to have dinner with them on occasion. Zane landed in a field near home and quickly put back on all his swords before walking home happily. He was so close to them now as he lightly walked through the snow covered ground.
When he arrived home it was nearing four in the morning so he went in soundless. All through the house as he approached his room he didn’t make even the faintest noise. He pushed open his bedroom door to find all three of his girls sleeping cuddled together in the bed. Him sighing blissfully was the first noise he made since arriving. However the way they were laying left no room for him on the bed and he didn’t want to wake them so he walked out as void of noise as he came and went to lay down in one of their guest rooms.
He closed his eyes in tranquil anticipation of waking up to his wifes amazing cooking and affection from three of the people who meant most to him in the world. He knew they would wake before him and scent him in the house so the first thing he would know when he opened his eyes was his girls and his wife making him somthing delicious. Just as he expected the squeals of his two girls woke him as they both entered the room. He barely had time to groggily sit up before they were both hugging him. “we missed you!” Luella said cheerfully and Lakshmi added. “Mom went down to start on a really big breakfast since you’re back. Its going to be so amazing!” Zane smiled and kissed them both “were you two good for your mother?”
“yep” the two answered in unison. He hugged them again “thank you, it means the world to me when you dont give her trouble while I’m away. How’re things while I was gone?”
“great, mom took us flying and playing in the snow a lot.” Lakshmi said and Luella added ‘yeah and some of our siblings played with us too! Will you play with us dad?”
“yeah dad, you havent played with us in the snow at all since it started”
“After breakfast if you help your mother clean up the kitchen with no complaints”
“Deal!” they both answered. Zane was dying to see Belle so got up and hurried downstairs. He rushed in the kitchen with giggling girls following. Zane lifted Belle, turned her towards him and hugged her “Zane, welcome home but I’ll burn the pancakes”
“I got it mom” Lakshmi said and took over. She gave a small laugh and hugged her husband “we’re so glad you’re home” Belle whispered.
He buried his nose in her hair and allowed her scent to envelope him. “I missed you.” He whispered back, the weariness in his voice evident.
“This was a hard one.” He nodded and she hugged him a little tighter. “Tell me.”
“He was ten.”
“I’m so sorry baby.”
He sat down with her at the kitchen table, sitting her on his lap. “I didn’t take the money, I couldn’t.”
She ran her fingers lovingly through his hair and pressed a kiss onto his forehead. “What do you need?”
“Just being here with you and the girls helps.” He sighed and pulled back to look at her. “I feel so guilty, but I had no choice.”
“I know.” Belle hated jobs like these most of all. She could tell they ate at him and that he would never be the same after them.
Zane tangled his fingers in her hair and pressed his lips gently into hers, letting himself get lost in the warmth of her lips and how amazing it felt to hold her in his arms. She helped push the shadows away. “We should enjoy breakfast with the girls, we can talk more about this later.”
“Anything you want my love.”
Zane often helped with cooking but today he just enjoyed watching his wife and daughters talk and laugh together as they prepared breakfast. He felt calm, almost at peace. As always he would recover but thoughts of needing another break for awhile was tugging at him again. After all there were other assassins and he couldn’t be more proud of Gabriel and his wife. He knew if a serious job came up if he needed a break he wouldn’t have to worry about them taking it. It was times like this though he hated thinking about his kids in his line of work. Knowing that they would have to carry the same burdens this job brings.
He knew they were strong and could handle it but he still hated knowing they would stumble upon these same burdens on their hearts. Now little Lakshmi wanted to be like him too. Only three more years and he would be teaching her as he had their son Gabriel Jr. He averted his mind from those thoughts. He knew once he got out of this funk he would be just as proud and ready to teach his little girl.
Zane got up and grabbed plates for his wife when she needed them so she wouldn’t have to travel to fill plates. Once filled Lakshmi & Luella set the table. “I wan tto pour drinks!” Luella said enthusiastically “thank you, I’d like orange juice” Belle said with a smile. Zane and Lakshmi asked for milk. When she didn’t spill Zane said “nice, no spilling”
Luella beamed with pride “Yep, I never spill now”
“Never isn’t true” Lakshmi pointed out and Luella huffed ‘I havent spilled for two days!”
“Not long enough to say never”
“girls” Belle said in a soft reprimand.
“It just takes practice, she’ll get there.” Zane said, smiling lovingly at his girls. They all sat down together, chatting about anything but Zane’s job. They tried to keep it out of their home if they could help it, Zane preferring to keep work on the road if he could help it. The only time he talked about it is if Belle asked or if he absolutely couldn’t help it like with his most recent mission. When they were done eating, he waited patiently by the door while Lakshmi and Luella helped Belle clean up. They pulled their shoes on once everything was put away and he made sure they put on their coats before following them out into the snow. Belle grabbed her own coat and sat down on the porch, watching with a smile as Zane chased them through the snow.
Their girls giggled as he cut them off at each turn, loving how fast he was. He let them pelt him with snow, not letting his reflexes keep him from getting hit. One hit him in the side of the head and he fell down in the snow, his eyes closed. His girls ran over and Luella lifted his arm and dropped it. “Mom, I think dad’s dead.”
“He’s faking.” She said back.
“I think Luella’s right, I think we really killed him this time.” Lakshmi added.
“Well I guess I better check.” Belle got up and crossed the yard, a smile on her face. The minute she was close enough he grabbed her and pulled her down into the snow, making their daughter’s scream and then laugh. He go them every time and it was absolutely adorable.
Seth watched from a faraway tree, scared to go talk to his mother and wanted to not be crying when he did. Hearing her voice again, the laughter, seeing his father treating her so well. The fairy had told him that in every other world line Zane loved Belle tremendously but seeing it in action was almost overwhelming. She looked so happy and it seemed as though they had two little girls. He had come up with so many ways to approach her and it was frustrating he couldn’t decide on one since he only had four days.
It wasn’t fair, he wanted to stay. There was nothing for him in his own timeline. No father, no siblings, no girlfriend, barely any friends. Here his mother was alive, he could be around her again but he wasn’t allowed to stay. They were inside again before he could gather himself enough to approach so he decided to go find a room at an inn. He jumped from the tree he had been sitting in and began walking. Tawny was talking to a lodger who happened to be an old friend passing through when Seth came through the doors. He froze her with how identicle he looked to Zane. So much so she had been speechless as he was checking in ‘Tawny?” her friend said as she waved a hand in front of her face.
“Do you see that boy?”
Her friend looked around her. “Holy shit, he looks like Gabriel’s dad.”
Tawny was so confused. She didn’t think for a second Zane would be unfaithful to Belle, he would never stoop so low, but she wondered if maybe he had fathered a child before they got together. She knew the boy would have to be older than Gabriel, but he looked so young. “Just wait here.” She said to her friend. “Excuse me.” She said and Seth looked at her.
“Can I help you?” He asked. The look he gave her was so much like Zane’s it was uncanny.
“Sorry you looked familiar, I thought you were someone else.” She had just wanted to study his face. He and Zane could be twins.
“Oh, it’s fine, sorry for sounding so annoyed, it’s been a long day.”
“No, I’m sorry for bothering you.” She wanted to talk to Gabriel about him and get his opinion on the young man. He knew he would want to talk to his father.
Tawny rushed home and startled Gabriel from his nap on the couch “what is it honey?” he asked. “Theres this guy who checked into the inn here who looks identical to your father. It’s absolutely ridiculous Gabriel. I don’t think for a second he would ever in any circumstance cheat on your mom but they are related somhow. Its impossible for them not to be. You need to see him”
“did you speak with him?”
“Not really, just enough to get a good look at his face. He could seriously be a much younger Zane”
“I know the innkeeper. I’ll see about getting his room number and finding out why he’s here” Gabriel walked with Tawny back to the Inn and asked for the manager. He came out quickly “Gabriel, hello”
“Hey, a man just checked in. Looks like my dad”
“Oh I know, that was crazy”
“do you know why hes here?’
“No, he didn’t say. He seems like a sad fellow though”
“would you give me his room number?”
“Hes already left again. He just checked in to have a place for tonight I guess”
“Do you know where he went”
“I saw him take a left once he walked out the door but thats all I can give you two”
“Thank you” he nodded and then Tawny left with Gabriel, heading in the direction the manager had given them.
Zane, Belle and the girls relaxed inside after playing in the cold for so long. Zane was fine, but he insisted everyone set by the fire and drink hot cocoa to bring their temperatures back up, not that Belle minded. She sat curled up next to her husband and the girls laid on the floor and colored. Zane sighed and Belle looked up at him, smiling at the look of content on his face. “This is what I live for, these moments with you and our children. I am so glad that we have forever to love one another.” He said, his voice full of the warmth and adoration he held for his loved ones. His eyes met hers and she felt her heart do a little flip. “I love you more that anything Belle, you make everything right again.”
“I’ll always be here for you, forever and ever for all of eternity.” He gave her and gentle kiss then hugged her, resting his chin on top of her head as he savored the closeness.
It did not take Gabriel long to catch up with the young man Tawny had said looked like his father. He moved stealthily from tree to tree, his eyes never leaving the man. Tawny stayed close to him as they followed him to the cemetery where he stopped at a bare patch of land and just stood there staring. Gabriel moved around the other side of the cemetery, wanting a better look at the stranger. When he was close enough he was astounded at seeing his father’s likeness. It was amazing, so amazing that he very nearly gave away his position as he started to stand. Tawny pulled him back and they just watched him. He continued to stare at the ground and then he was crying.
“I’m sorry mom, so sorry, I should have been stronger.” Seth just stared at the place where his mother’s grave was in his timeline, tears falling off his nose and into the dirt. “I want to stay here with you forever, I don’t want to go back.”
This was only getting more confusing. Gabriel couldn’t take it any longer and quickly stood. Being an assassin Seth noticed quickly and began to wipe his face. “Who are you? Why are you talking to an empty plot and saying how sorry you are and talking about wanting to stay here with them?’ Tawny thought he was throwing the questions too fast but there was no reeling him in now. Seth took a shakey breath “do you know Zane and Belle?”
“Know them? They are my parents and you could be my fathers identical twin”
“How open minded are you and how open minded is your mother?”
“we are dragons after all”
“yes, now please. Just tell my wife and I the truth about who you are. We’ve seen a lot of things in our lives and know so much. Who are you and what are my parents to you? No matter how crazy I swear to believe you” Seth took a deep breath in and out “I am their son in another wordline. Its a lot to explain but I did somthing that is a taboo with the help of a fairy. Where i’m from Belle died years ago and its been so hard to live without her. I miss her every day. I met this fairy woman who in exchange for favors granted me four days here so i could see my mother again. This Belle is identical in every aspect of her personality to my mother. Its like I have her again minus her having any memory of me. I know she isn’t truly the woman who birthed me but seeing her….being with her again” after some deep, uncontrollable sobs he said “I have nothing in my world….If she would accept me I would want to stay here so I’d have a family and best of all have my amazing mother but I cant have that…even if mom wants me I will vanish in four days and…and”
He couldn’t stop the crying enough to speak any more and Tawny couldnt help but rush over to hug him. “oh sweetheart” What he had said sounded crazy but Gabriel coudlnt deny how much this man looked like his father. Even in his heart he knew these words to be true “we believe you” he said.
“Yeah,” Gabriel moved closer and placed a hand on his shoulder, “little brother.” Seth started crying harder and Gabriel patted his head the way his father had often done when he was upset about something. “You need to talk our parents though.”
“But then it’ll be too hard to leave once it’s time.”
“We’ll find a way to keep you here if that’s what you truly wish, but you should really let us take you to them.”
“What if they don’t believe me?”
“I can feel in my heart that you are my brother and they will know you for who you are. Being from a different time does not make you any less their child. Trust them to believe you as I do.”
Seth nodded. “Okay, I’ll go then. I really want to see her.”
“you want a minute first?” Seth quickly wiped at his face “No, I’m ready. I don’t want to waste any time.” As they began to walk to Zane and Belles home Gabriel asked “what of our father in that world? Dead too?”
“No but hes an alcoholic and drug addict. He has been since he was thirteen and it’s messed him up in the head. Its the only timeline that he has been addicted to drugs and the only timeline he’s…well…not very nice to his wife. He treated my mother really badly and doesn’t much care for me. I was happy to hear from that fairy it’s the only timeline like that…mom deserves so much better”
“believe me, our father adores our mother. He wouldn’t do a thing to hurt her and it crushes him if he upsets her. You’ll like him here”
“I’ve already seen that. I was watching them this morning but I couldn’t find the courage to say hi. Doing this was much less scary when it was a goal I was working towards.”
“You’ll have to tell us that story somtime. I know I would do it too, to see mom again if she died…thats somthing I’m not even going to think about”
“How many siblings do you have?’
“Seven including you”
“and they will all accept you” Seths heart quivered as he tried not to get too excited. It was hard when after having no family for so long he might get to be a part of such a huge one. When they neared the house Tawny took his hand ‘you can do this Seth” Gabriel put a hand on his shoulder “want me to knock?”
“No..I have it” he said then slowly drew himself closer to the door. Seth knocked loudly, regretting just how loud he ended up doing it.
“I wonder who that could be?” Belle said as she started to get to her feet. Zane pulled her back down and kissed her cheek.
“Let me get it, you just stay here with the girls.”
“Zane, you’re the one who’s been working, let me.” He shook his head and kissed her again before getting to his feet. He was really the sweetest man in the world. Zane pulled the door open and froze, the look on his face was one that would have sent Gabriel into a giggling fit if it had not been for the circumstances. He stared at Seth, confusion washing over his face and through his eyes. The next thing they saw was anger and Zane had a dagger whipped out of his boot and Seth on the ground before anyone could react.
“What magic is this?” He asked, Seth staring up at him in wide eyed shock. He had never seen someone move so fast.
“Dad,” Gabriel grabbed his shoulder “calm down.”
“Who is he?”
“He’s your son.” Tawny said.
“Nonsense, he’s lied to you if he had told you so.”
“Dad, just look at him, really look at him.”
Zane glanced at his son then back down at the boy beneath him. He stared into his eyes, searched that face that was the mirror image of his and felt a tingling of warmth in his heart. “Zane, what’s going on?” Belle asked from the doorway. She saw Seth and her hands flew to her mouth. “Oh my god, he looks just like…baby let him up.” Zane got slowly to his feet and held out his hand. Seth grabbed it and let his father pull him to him up. “He looks so much like you.” Belle grabbed Seth’s face in her hands and the boy smiled at her touch.
“Mom, this is Seth, he’s yours and dad’s son.” Gabriel said, making his mother look confused. “Lets get out of the snow and he’ll explain.”
When they entered the girls said ‘woah” “wow” at the same time. Seth gave them a nervous smile as they came with the rest of the group to sit in the living room. Gabriel and Tawny sat on either side of Seth while Belle and Zane were infront of them with the girls. “Its hard to explain but I’m from this world but in another timeline. There are multiple different versions of every world running at the same time. Its actually somthing I just learned not long ago. Well…um…mom…sorry, Belle…you’re my mother and Zanes my father.”
“what’re you doing in this line though?’ Belle asked, seeming to be taking his word. His lower lip trembled. “Because…five years ago you died mom. I’ve been so alone, so sad since you died…I have nothing in my timeline” Tears streamed down his face, dampening his slightly tanned skin. ” a fairy told me that if I completed forty jobs for her she’d allow me as long a visit to this timeline as is possible even though truly I shouldn’t be doing this atall. She said this is a taboo and should never be done but she needed those favors and i need….I needed to see you mom” Belle quickly came to him and wrapped Seth in his arms “please don’t cry baby”
He clung to her. Having Belle close only made the tears come on harder as he crushed her into him. It had been far too long since he felt a warm embrace like this. “but what of me….even if im not with Belle” saying he wasnt with Belle seemed hard for him but he continued ‘I’m not there for you?” Knowing Seth couldn’t respond Gabriel spoke “he tells Tawny and I you’ve been a drug addict from a very young age. You are apparently mean and care nothing for Belle or him. You havent been a big part of his or Belles life where he comes from” Zanes heart felt as if it plummeted as he heard that from his son.
“I’m sorry, I…” He didn’t really know what to say so he got up and crossed over to Seth, his arms going around both he and Belle. Seth took one of his arms from around his mother to hug his father, his throat clogged with his tears. Even Luella and Lakshmi joined in with Gabriel and Tawny both patting his back. He had never felt more loved than that moment and it was something he would cherish forever.
When he could finally speak again he said, “I hate that I only have such a short time.”
Belle pulled back, wiping her own tears away and then his. “We’ll find a way for you to stay here.”
“Nothing is impossible, even if I have to complete twice as many jobs as you had too, you are staying.” Zane said.
“What about Irim, he commands respect from many creatures.” Gabriel chimed in.
“Irim?” Seth asked.
“He’s a High Dragon and your uncle in this time. He is a being that I am even willing to admit is more powerful than me. There is nothing he can’t do and we have never seen a being oppose him.” Zane explained. “He commands respect and no one dares to disrespect his family in any way. He’d have their heads.”
“Or eat them.” Tawny added jokingly.
“Do you really think he would help me?”
“You are family and he has sworn his loyalty to us, plus he is mated with your aunt.” Belle said with a warm smile.
“It may take him time though, depending on what spell was used to get you here.” Zane said as he tussled his son’s hair. “But he will not give up until he finds a solution.”
“I have four days, including this one”
“Then we will hurry to the castle and get Cantaly Jr to call upon Irim” As they headed out Seth asked ‘so who is Cantaly?”
“The queen and your cousin. Rapunzel and Casimer are her parents” Belle answered. Seth made a face that had Tawny asked “what?”
“Rapunzel is a lesbian where I’m from, thats all”
“then who is she with?” Belle asked “Bernadette, Casimer is just a really good friend”
“Oh, interesting. Must be a lot for you to take”
“No, I knew only you were fully the same here. That timeline is apparently vastly different from the others even though all the others are mostly alike to eachother. If I stay it will be with a blank slate to learn how everybody is. I wont carry any of my previous knowledge about them here” Belle took his hand and his heart tremored with emotion. He’d never let his mom die again, no matter what it took if he got to say. “I’ll never fail you again. I swear” he said in his head. They arrived and walked right in since they were always welcome. A servant woman approached “They are in the dancing hall if you are looking for Cantaly and Claudius”
“yes we are, thank you” They all walked hastily, not wanting Seth to disappear before Irim could make him stay. Zane pushed the ballroom doors open and started immediately saying what they were there for, skipping hellos since he didn’t feel there was time for them. “I’ll explain to you guys when I explain to irim because we just don’t have time. Call him please” without question Cantaly stopped dancing with her husband and called on Irim. Once she knew he was on his way she asked “Who is this boy?” she asked, hoping he would go ahead and tell her that much. “This is mine and Belles son. I know thats confusing but it will make sense soon’ Cantaly knew it to be true without any explaining. This young man looked far too much like Zane not to be his son.
She came up to him “it’s nice to meet you. I’m your cousin and this man is my husband Claudius. Would you like to meet our children? It will take Irim a little bit to get here”
“I’d like that a lot.” she smiled and hugged him ‘we hug in this family so get used to it” she whispered. Seth hugged her tightly back, surprised when even Claudius came over to hug him. “I’ll get the children” he said then walked out. “jesus you look so much like your father. Almost like a clone” Cantaly said and he smiled “yeah, it’s crazy his hair is dyed purple here too. Zane from my timeline hated my hair this way”
“timeline?” Seth scratched the back of his head “it’ll be explained soon. Sorry”
“no, it’s fine” Claudius came back with a boy and a girl. “I’m Padma” the girl said brightly then looked at her brother who seemed to be a little shy about introducing himself “I’m Hadwin”
“Nice to meet you.” Seth replied, making Padma’s smile widen and Hadwin blush. “I like your horn.”
“Oh, thank you.” Hadwin reached up and touched it then grabbed his sister’s hand.
“He’s a bit on the shy side if you hadn’t noticed.” Claudius said as he tussled his son’s hair. “He’s going to grow up strong though.”
“He comes from good lineage so I have no doubt.”
Rapunzel, Casimer, Jerry and Bernadette soon came to see Seth after hearing some of the maids talking excitedly about him. None of them could believe the gossiping, especially Bernadette, until they saw the young man standing in between Belle and Zane. It amazed them all and Rapunzel grabbed his face in her hands, much like her sister had done and studied him. Irim showed up awhile later, walking into the dance hall like some sort of king, his wife cradled in his arms and twin sons walking behind him. Seth could see what his father had meant about him being powerful and he even felt a shiver run up his spine when the dragon’s golden eyes immediately rested on him.
“Explain the child.” He ordered as he lowered Ariel to her feet.
“His name is Seth and he’s from a different timeline.” Zane replied.
“Hmm, why are you here young one?”
Seth was obviously intimidated and Zane squeezed his shoulder to give him reassurance. “In my timeline, Belle is dead and Zane is a washout and drug addict. He was a horrible father and an even worse husband. I completed work for a fairy in exchange for being sent here to see my mother again.”
“There is no denying he’s their son.” Ariel said. “It’s uncanny how much he looks like Zane.”
“You wish to stay?” Irim asked, reading him easily.
“I do, I want a real family.”
“Is that what your mother and father wish?”
“It is.” Belle answered and Zane nodded his agreement.
Irim smiled. “Then I will need to know the name of the fairy who sent you here.”
Seth shifted nervously under his gaze. “Are you going to make a deal with her?”
Irim chuckled. “The only pact I will make is to serve this family, I won’t be made to do necessary things for a fairy I do not know. I also need to do some research on how to keep the other timeline intact. I know it holds a lot of bitter memories for you, but there are innocent people there so a whole timeline collapsing would be bad.”
“Her name is Som.”
Irim nodded then turned his attention to Ariel. “Would you like to stay here or come with the boys and I to research in the library?”
“I’d like to get to know Seth.”
He smiled loving down at her, the adoration on his face amazing Seth. “Alright, then, I love you.” He kissed her, making her blush.
“Love you too.”
She came closer to Seth and looked at him with curiosity. He smiled at her, hoping she was accepting him. “I’m your Aunt” she suddenly said then asked “do you know how many you have here?”
“your mom has eight brothers and sisters, all of which are married”
“you’ll meet them all eventually, along with all your cousins”
“I’m excited to if I get to stay that long”
“My husband will find a way. He’s very wise”
“I hope you didn’t think I was implying he wasn’t” Seth said with slight shame. “Oh I know, I’m sure you’re just trying not to get your hopes up”
“It would be unbearable enough as it is to go back…to know I could have all this and go back to nothing.”
“Zane there is really so different? I mean, I know hes not cuddly with people outside his family but he seems to overflow with love for Belle and their children”
“yeah, I was relieved the day my mom promised me she wasn’t going to give him any more chances. She tried really hard to help him but he didn’t even want to attempt getting off of drugs. It was when she realized he was never going to try that she stopped taking him back and we could live a happy life. When she died though, I had no siblings, no father, no nothing really.”
“you don’t have other family like us?’
“yes and no, Gabriel never forgave Belle for having somthing with Zane. It strained the relationship within the whole family”
“I see” she hugged him “my husband will make it so you can stay. He can do anything okay” When Ariel quit speaking Zane added “and I’ll do anything Irim tells me I need to do. I am so sorry for all you’ve been through and i love you Seth, we all do. Is your last name Koopmann?”
“No, it’s Martin but Koopmann was a fake last name my dads dad used with a few of the women he was seeing. He was a playboy and had a lot of tricks he used to try and keep the women from knowing about eachother” Zane sighed “well my dad here and there were just alike”
Belle gave a small laugh and Zane arched an eyebrow. “Sorry baby, but the look you get on your face when you talk about your dad is kind of cute. I know he was an ass.”
“He was always, you will be an assassin, you will learn this, you will do that. Even if I am a natural at it, it doesn’t mean he had to be so forceful.”
Everyone in the room knew how Zane’s father had been and agreed. “How about we go get something to eat then you two can give Seth a tour of the castle.” Cantaly said with a happy smile.
“I am pretty hungry.” Seth remarked.
“I’ll have a maid take some to Irim and the boys then. They’re so much like their father, when they get focused on a task, they won’t eat unless food is brought to them.” Ariel added. The left the ballroom, Seth feeling more and more relaxed with these people the longer he talked to them. He could feel to the very core of his being that he would be completely loved here. They sat down in the dining room, Cantaly asking one of the maids to tell the cook they were ready to eat and to have food taken to the library for Irim, Caleb and Landon.
“So um dad…Zane…uh…”
“Call me whatever you like.” Zane replied.
“Okay, I’ll try for dad then. So, you don’t force my siblings to be assassins?”
“While it is in their blood and they are all naturally skilled, I let them choose their own paths. If they wish to be assassins then I train them, but if they wish to do other things like being an artist or a teacher, I am equally proud of them for pursuing their dreams.”
“So, what are all of my siblings like…the ones I haven’t met I mean?”
“Zane Jr loves animals. When he was younger he wouldn’t even eat meat. He has grown out of that though. Currently he teaches defense classes. He actually has quite a few students. Ediva teaches people to read and write for her living and is married to a demon named Chapin. They actually met because he was taking lessons from her. Ambrose has a good heart but try not to take his attitude and things he says somtimes too seriously. He gets in moods and can be offensive and rude. He is a knight now and has been since he was forced to train with them because of an incident between him and his mother”
“He slapped her but at that time he was a teenager. I don’t condone it but it was long ago and as angry as I was then I’ve let it go now. He’s a far better person than he was back then, I promise” Seth nodded, willing to let it go as long as he never hit their mother again. Zane continued “Ryan also became a Knight but that was by choice. He used to idolize Ambrose so thats why he picked being a Knight. They are still really close. I think Ryan is honestly a big part of his attitude change. Want to know anything about the siblings sitting here with you?” he asked since he was done going over the siblings that weren’t there. “yes please”
Zane looked at Gabriel who said “I am an assassin like our dad. I always wanted to be, especially after our mother was attacked when I was a child”
“what?’ Seth asked with concern even though it had been long ago. “A man she said no to marrying sent an assassin after her. He was strangling my mother when I jumped on him and slit his throat to protect her….it was a hard and scary time. Dad was on a job and until he got back I was worried sombody would come after her again and I wouldn’t have the strength or skill to protect her but thankfully dad came rushing home as fast as he could when he caught wind of the news”
“I’m glad you didn’t have to lose her”
“I never want to know what it would be like to live without mom.” As a lighter change of subject Gabriel introduced his wife “This is Tawny, she is also an assassin. Very skilled and all around amazing” Tawny giggled “I love you Gabriel” He smiled then lifted her hand to kiss it. Luella spoke up, excited for her turn ” I want to own my own shop one day. I’ve been learning to make clothes and jewelry!” Seth wore a large smile “very impressive”
“I could make you a shirt to show you!”
“Please do, I’d like that” Luella seemed barely able to contain her excitement. Lakshmi now took her turn “I’m going to be an assassin. Dads going to start training me when I’m eleven”
“That’s cool, I’m not much of one myself, it puts food on the table though.”
“I don’t understand how the me from another timeline wouldn’t even take the time to teach you how to be a proper assassin. You’re coming with me on my next job.”
“But won’t I be a hindrance, I’m nowhere near as skilled as you.”
“You’re my son and probably a natural. With the proper guidance, you’ll learn how to let your instincts guide you.”
Seth teared up and Belle rubbed his back. “Don’t cry sweetie.”
“Sorry I’m being such a baby, it’s just all so much to take in.”
Their food finally arrived and they all ate and talked about everything they wanted to do with Seth. A few minutes later Irim came into the dining hall with Caleb and Landon, all of them carrying their plates. “Finished already?” Ariel asked as her husband sat down next to her.
“Maybe, but I really just wanted to eat with you.”
She smiled and gave a kiss in his cheek. “I’m glad.”
“What do you mean by maybe?” Seth asked eagerly.
“Permanently removing you from your timeline without the proper preparations and spell could have adverse effects on it. Like I said, there is a possibility of collapsing it if we’re not careful. We searched many books and I managed to find a spell that may allow me to remove your very existence from your timeline and implant it here. The people from that timeline would have no memory of you, not even Zane.”
“So what do we need to do?”
“First I need to talk to that fairy and find out what spell she used to put you here. I need to remove the time limit she has given you then I have to collect ingredients, one of which will be your blood and the blood of your parents. I’m going to tie you to them so it will be like you were born here.”
“How will you talk to her since she’s in the other place?”
“I will briefly go there.”
“She’s the only cabin you’ll find in the Seit Woods”
“Thank you, I was going to ask where I would need to go”
“Thank you for helping me stay. Thank you so much Irim”
“You are our family. Even if I hadn’t sworn my loyalty to Rapunzel and her descendants theres nothing I wouldn’t do for family. I’m glad you found your way here Seth. Zane and Belle will have to bring you to mine and Ariels home somtime.” Belle rubbed her sons back, seeing he was struggling not to cry again. They ate then Irim gave Ariel a long kiss “I wont be long and I promise to be careful. I know the dangers of messing around in timelines that dont belong to me”
“I’m not worried. I know you can do it” Irim smiled. He always brimmed with pride when she showed her unending trust in his abilities. “are the boys going?”
‘so I can teach them unless you’d be worried about that” she looked at both of their hopeful faces for a few moments before saying “You will listen to your father. This is not the time to think you know better okay?’
“yes mam” they both answered. Irim kissed her again “Believe me, they’ll mind” Irim walked away and Belle said “you ready to tour the castle sweetie?’
“yeah, do we need to help clean up?’
“Oh no, Cantaly and Claudius employ quite a few people.”
“employ? They pay them?’
“do they not where you’re from”
“No, they just get to live in the castle for working there.”
“Our family has always paid the staff really well and hired more than enough to give more of our people jobs”
Finding the fairy Som was easy for Irirm. She had left her scent all over Seth when she had used her magic. Her home was away from the city, something that most fairies had in common. He landed in front of her home, shaking the ground so she came running out, thinking there was an earthquake. Her eyes widened when she saw the large black dragon and she immediately shot magic at him. It bounced off his scales and he growled, smoke curling out of his mouth and nose. “You should know better than to play with dragons.” His voice boomed and she covered her ears. He shifted back to his human form, his eyes staring into hers.
“You know of me, that’s good. Though I am sure the me of this timeline is nothing like the me you see standing before you.”
“You’re from another time?”
He grinned, “You sent my nephew to my world.”
“You can’t be here, you’re breaking all kinds of rules.”
He chuckled then stared unemotionally into her eyes. “Don’t you dare act like you are innocent. You could have destroyed an entire timeline with your carelessness.”
“What do you want dragon?”
“Tell me how to reverse the spell you put on the boy.”
“If I were you I would not worry about what I plan to do with your magic. Now tell me or I’ll shift back and devour you.”
She took a step back. “Alright, on one condition.”
“There is no condition, I will erase your very existence from this world if you do not do as I say, there is no bargaining with dragons unless the dragon makes the bargain.” She shivered at the cold finality in his tone and recited off the spell she had used. He smiled. “Thank you.” He turned to walk away then looked back at her. “Out of curiosity, what am I like here?”
“Much more docile, that’s why I was a little surprised.”
“Hmm, well don’t worry, soon you will forget me and the boy then you can continue to see me as docile.”
She wanted to protest, afraid he’d fail and the destruction of Seth staying in another timeline would fall on her shoulders but she didn’t dare speak to this Irim again. He quickly returned home with his boys, let Ariel know they were all home safe then began what he needed to do. It was late in the night before any of them had even realized dark had come. It was only the staff change in the castle that alerted anybody to the fact so much day had passed “Belle, Zane, Seth, you should all stay here tonight. You’ll be close to Irim when he’s ready for you”
“sounds good, would you like that Seth?” Belle asked. “Oh yes, I’m really hoping he gets done soon. I know I still have three days but that can obviously pass quickly” Cantaly hugged him “I know a great room for you. We just had it redone.” He wanted to ask how close he’d be too his mother but as a grown man he was too embarrassed. It was hard not to cling when to him she had been dead five years and he was only just getting her back. Reading him easily since he had lost his own mother Claudius said “and conveniently you’ll be only a few rooms away from your mother” Seth smiled “oh, thats great”
Seth gave his mother a long hug, struggling to let go when he at last did. “I walk with you then meet my husband” she said sweetly. “I’d like that, I really am sorry I’m such a baby” she held his face tenderly “Seth, I lost my mom a long time ago. I know how it feels. If my mom came back to me I’d sure as hell want her to walk me to bed. It wouldn’t make me a baby”
“I love you so much mom”
“I love you too. Lets get some rest. Who knows what Irim might need of us”
When Belle got back to her room, she saw Zane sitting on the bed and staring out the window, a sullen look on his face. She crawled up behind him and hugged him. “Hey what’s wrong?”
“I’m such a bastard.”
“Why?” She was honestly confused by his attitude.
“For being such a crappy father to that boy.”
“Zane, that wasn’t you.”
“But it is, just because he’s from another timeline doesn’t make him any less me.”
She pulled him back onto the bed and straddled him, her hands on either side of his head as she smiled down at him. “You’re such a good man, even blaming yourself for something someone else did. It shows how much you love your family.” She leaned down and kissed him. “Don’t be so down, you are far from the Zane in that other world. You’re a wonderful father and husband, a top notch assassin, and you’d do anything for us. You are not that man. I mean you were even scared of my reaction to how you are as an assassin. Never compare yourself to someone like the other you, because the only you that matters to me and our children is you.”
He reached for her face, sweetly resting his palms on her warm cheeks and drawing her down for another kiss. “I love you so much Belle, you and our children are everything to me. I just want to make things up to him, to train him and give him the dad he should have had. I also hate how he’s seen the other me treat you, that he would be happy I wasn’t around…how…of anything..how could I mistreat you?” just saying it seemed hard for him to say. He wasn’t near tears but the words strained coming out since that was so unfathomable to him. “you were apparently addicted to drugs. People who are addicted often don’t act anything like they would otherwise. Please don’t fret over it. Seth is ready to accept who you are here”
“I’m going to make him into a kick ass assassin Belle, just you wait”
“I know you will.”
“we need to get all our children here as soon as possible to meet him”
“I wonder if he had as much trouble with the ladies as he will here?”
“what of you mean?” Belle gave him a look “Oh, you know what I mean. Girls drool over you Zane. I notice. Somtimes they make it impossible to miss with how they shamelessly flirt, even with me around”
“I guess I dont notice because I dont give a damn” suddenly she found herself under him. A rush of adrenaline and excitement tickling her as it always did when he would do somthing like that. He kissed her neck on each side all the way up from its base. “You are the only woman I’ll ever want Belle. I need you, always. No woman could ever come anywhere near your worth to me” Belle blushed and swallowed at the new look in his eyes. He surprised her when instead of ravishing her he kissed her again then picked her up to cradle in his arms “I love you Belle” his voice becoming increasingly mellifluous with every word.
They sat in romantic silence until Zane said in an ever honeyed whisper “lets rest” He slipped under the covers with her, still keeping Belle pressed against him.
By the time they woke up the next morning Irim had been back for awhile. He had not wanted them bothered upon his arrival and had also wanted to rest with Ariel. They were happy to see him and even happier to hear that the fairy Som had agreed to give him the information he needed. They didn’t really want to know how he had so easily acquired it, but they figured it had to have been procured by some form of intimidation. “So what now?” Zane asked.
“Meet me in the library after breakfast.” He replied then turned his attention to Seth who had taken the seat across from him. “Don’t eat too much.”
“Violent vomiting, drink a lot of water instead.”
Food was brought to them and they all ate, Seth doing as he was told and only eating a small amount. After they were finished eating, everyone went to the library where they were surprised to see intricate patterns drawn in a circle on the floor. There were a bunch of herbs and a jug of water along with a cup sitting on one of the tables. “Zane, Belle, Seth come here, everyone else please don’t disturb the circle, it took the boys and I quite some time to draw.” Everyone nodded and Zane, Belle, and Seth moved over to the table. “Caleb, Landon I want you to start chanting a blessing.”
“Yes sir.” They said as one then sat down next to the circle and closed their eyes. They spoke in a language only Irim and Ariel could understand since he had taught them.
“What is…” Seth started.
“Dragon tongue.” Irim answered, knowing what he was asking. He mixed some herbs and powders in the cup then poured the water in, using his fire to warm it enough that he could blend the mixture evenly together. “Your dagger Zane.” Irim ordered and Zane handed it to him. “I need blood from all three of you.” Zane and Belle allowed him to cut into their hands and hold them over the cup for the blood to drip in. He then took Seth’s hand and did the same then mixed the black liquid again. He handed the cup to Seth and ordered all three of them into the circle. Caleb and Landon finished their blessing and stood, moving back. “What is about to happen to you Seth will be immensely painful and you will more than like vomit until you have no strength left, but no matter what you must not leave the circle until I give the okay. Being ripped from one world and permanently put in another is not supposed to be pleasant. Zane, Belle, you’re going to have to make sure he doesn’t fall on his face and keep him calm. You may feel a burning sensation as he is connected to you.” Irim picked up the book with the spell in it. “Drink that now, it’s awful, but you must ingest it all.”
Seth gave a half nod then began to drink it as quickly as he could. Both Belle and Zane could tell from his expression how horrible it had to taste. Seth didn’t much mind, staying here was worth going through anything. Irim and the boys went on performing the ceremony no matter how sick Seth got or how he cried out. Belles face was lined with tears while Zane was able to keep a strong front though also hating to watch Seth suffer so much. When Irim said Seth was done Zane lifted his son “I dont want to hear it. I’m taking you to a bathroom where you can get cleaned up.” Zane walked out and Belle followed to run some water for her son.
Zane was just coming out of Seths room when Ediva and Chapin came running up to him “wheres my apparent new brother?”
“Belle is making sure he doesnt drown himself in the bathtub. He just went through somthing very painful and taxing so he could stay in this timeline forever”
“Oh, i guess I’ll wait to see him then. He’d probably be embarrassed to meet me in that state. I’m so glad he gets to stay though”
“Us too, he’s a nice guy and I’m going to be training him”
“Nice, I was told he was an assassin.”
When Seth was clean Belle helped him out of the tub then dried him off before helping him get into some comfortable pajamas. “Thanks mom” he said softly. “No problem honey” she answered then helped him lay down in bed. “You can go now mom.”
“Nonsense, I’m going to sing you to sleep as I rub your forehead” the corner of his mouth turned up slightly in a smile. Belle ever so softly began running her fingers back and forth on his forehead as she sang him a lullaby. She waited until he was sound asleep to get up and leave. She found a maid and instructed them to stay near his door incase he had trouble calling for anything.
She was happy to see Ediva and Chapin when she returned downstairs and hugged them. “I’m so glad you came.”
“How’s he feeling?” Ediva asked.
“Not good, it was terrible to watch. My poor little boy.”
Ediva gave a small laugh and rubbed her mother’s back. “You’re a great mom.”
“Thank you sweetie. I need to help everyone clean up the library.”
“We’re already doing that.” Ariel said as she passed through with a basket of dirty towels. He wants you guys to relax.”
“How is he feeling?”
“Oh you know Irim, he won’t let on he’s tired until we get home and even then I only know because he falls asleep so fast. I sometimes think he enjoys pushing his magical limits. He’s never done something like move a person over to a different timeline.”
“Well tell him to rest up as soon as everything’s clean, we can’t have the great dragon Irim as weak as a kitten.” Zane teased and Ariel let out a laugh as she continued to the laundry room.
Days passed and Seth continually felt better. They had non stop visitors since all their friends and family wanted to meet Seth. They stayed so busy and cheerful Zane hadn’t even realized the burden of his last job wasn’t on him. All he could think about was his family, especially Seth. He had a lot of making up to do and an amazing young man to get to know.
~ The End ~