Roses Are Red, Err Gold
Buffy falls through the portal after the Gift, and lands in the Unseelie Court with surprising results.Disclaimer:
Buffy belongs to Joss Whedon and Merry Gentry belongs to Laurell K. HamiltionPairings:
Buffy/Barinthus, Merry/Everyone?Author's Note:
Had several ask for me to post this story here. EnjoyTimeline:
This is AU. Cel doesn't get caught for his part in the Branwyn's Tears incident, but Merry knows he was behind it. The race for an heir continues. Merry and her harem live on Maeve's estate, and have defeated the Nameless, but only the original group remain her lovers. Pretty much, kinda took bits and pieces from the first three books together, and took the parts that I wanted to make my story work.
"Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I'll always love you. But, this is the work I have to do. Tell Giles; tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of one another. Be strong. Dawn. The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me..."
Buffy ran to the end of the platform, diving into the portal. It suspended her body in the center of a blinding blue glow. Lightning shot out all around her before the portal shrank to nothing and disappeared, taking Buffy with it.
Everyone looked on in disbelief, tears streamed down their faces. Dawn slowly walked down the tower, holding her stomach only to collapse at the bottom. She would have hit the ground if Giles hadn't caught her. He picked her up and carried her away. The others slowly followed him. They had defeated Glory, but paid a terrible price.
Queen Andais sat on her throne. It stunned her each time the roses responded to Merry. She felt equally parts glad and resentful. They used to bloom for her, and now her brother's human
child caused new blooms to appear. She looked over at Merry with her blood auburn hair. Andais admitted her niece was beautiful, if only she was true Sidhe. Would her plans come to fruition?
I must save my people. Perhaps Merry’s humanness is the missing ingredient. Only time will tell who will become my heir, but most importantly there must be a child, a Sidhe child.
Just then, a large booming sound echoed outside the doors, and a blue light bathed the court. It startled the normally unflappable court, and they turned en mass toward the entrance.
Doyle, the Queen’s former Shadow, went to investigate. He returned quickly, striding across the room. He bowed before Andais, and something in his demeanor worried her.
"Your majesty, I believe you should co come and view this personally. It isn't something I can explain, nor am I certain I wish to."
Seeing the alarm in her Darkness' eyes, Andais swiftly rose and left the room with the court following close behind her. She stopped short as her mouth opened into a perfect 'O'.
A bright blue light encompassed the arbor and lightning crashed into the ceiling near the tallest rose's branches. They held something cradled tenderly like a child…it was a body! Blood dripped from the body onto the roses. The court watched in awe as the roses bloomed at an alarming rate, tenderly caressing and cradling its fragile treasure. Doyle stepped forward hoping to help untangle the person from within the branches. The roses didn't appreciate his ‘help.’
They grabbed his legs and threw him across the open space. He landed at Andais’ feet. She stared in horror at the knife-like cuts that marred his once smooth chest. As if concerned of any other ‘intruders’, the roses started to wind together. They created a thorn wall. It ensured no others would dare to approach its only inhabitant.
Andais watched in horror as the Mound's Defenders turned on them, on her. The roses had protected the Unseelie for thousands of years. The queen couldn't fathom what manner of creature the Sithin would chose over its own.
Merry stepped forward, putting out a hand as one would to a wild animal. The roses didn't attack and the wall folded away. The court saw long golden tresses fall through the branches when the person began to stir. Not knowing what would come from this chaos, the Unseelie backed away. The roses gently deposited their bounty, a young girl with golden skin and large hazel eyes no taller than Merry. The blue light faded and the lightning stopped when the girl stepped forward. Merry moved closer but the girl stopped. She noted the people staring at her, for the first time, and withdrew to her bower. The roses started closing close around her. Then, something even stranger happened. It turned from red to gold when it brushed her cheek in a caress. The girl laughed as if the roses spoke to her. She turned to Merry, stepping away from the roses' protective bower.
"Who are you, and where am I?"
"I believe that's what we'd like to know," Cel said from the sidelines.
He stepped forward, not willing to allow his cousin to seize his place. A branch slashed out, cutting his face.
"I don't think my friends like you. I don't think I do either," Buffy remarked, looking at the dark-haired, handsome man.
He sets off my spidey sense. Everyone here does. That guy just gives me the wiggins. He reminds me too much of Drac.
"I'm Princess Meredith. You're in the Unseelie Court of Andais, Queen of Air and Darkness. Who are you and how did you come to be here?"
"Buffy Summers," came her quick response. "Jumped through a portal and landed in the rose penthouse up there." She nodded in the arbor’s direction. "I'm not in some hell version of Oz am I?"
Confusion crossed her pretty face at the strange people surrounding her. Merry laughed at the visitor’s turn of phrase.
"No, you aren't in Oz, I promise. Let me introduce you to my aunt, the Queen."
She walked over to Andais and Buffy followed.
"Your Majesty, this is Buffy Summers. She doesn't know how she landed in your court."
Andais inspected the young girl, who looked her straight in the eyes. Buffy thought the queen was beautiful, with her pale white skin, long black hair and eyes with three rings of gray.
"Cool eyes," Buffy stated with a friendly smile.
"You would dare talk to me in this manner. Do you have any idea what I could do to you for invading my court?" Andais, shocked at this child's impertinence, said coldly.
"Look it's a compliment, don't get your corset in a bunch. As for what you can do to me, I wouldn't try it Queenie," Buffy responded in an equally cold tone. The Slayer was present for all to see.
"You dare threaten me?" Andais' back stiffened in offense.
"Hey, you started it." Buffy glared at the woman. "Just letting you know I don't take crap from anyone. You aren't my queen."
"You lost your rights once you entered my court. Uninvited, I might add, and in a threatening manner," the Queen shot back.
"Oh yeah, it's so threatening to bleed all over your roses. Lady, you need to work on your etiquette. I thought royalty were, you know, mannerly."
The audience gasped as they watched this war of words.
"Your majesty, she doesn't understand what she's saying. Her ordeal obviously has her disoriented. Merely look at her; she’s covered in blood. Perhaps she requires Fflur's attentions," Merry pleaded, trying to protect Buffy from her aunt's wrath.
Andais realized she must regain control before the court witnessed her fear. She straightened to her full height, and looked down at her tiny niece. It didn’t pass her consciousness that her visitor
was even smaller than Merry. How could this minuscule human
cause her to know fear. No, she wasn’t about to let this stranger gain any power over her.
"Merry, take her to your rooms and clean her up. Bring her back when she's presentable and grasps how to act properly before royalty."
Andais swept from the room with the court following close behind. Several brave couturiers threw inquisitive glances at Merry and Buffy.
"Come on and we'll take a look at your wounds. I should be able to find you something suitable to wear."
Buffy decided she liked the red haired woman. Maybe she could find out something more about this wacky place.
A tall man, who was all shades of blue from his eyes to his hair, stopped Merry.
"Be careful, little one. Your new friend scares her, and Andais doesn't like to show fear. Don't interfere," he cautioned his voice deep and soothing to the ear.
Buffy looked at him closely; he was gorgeous. His hair seemed alive, and moved as if blown by some unknown wind. It didn’t mean he had manners, though.
"Hello, standing right here. Name's Buffy and you are?" She stretched her neck, looking up his seven-foot frame.
"I'm Barinthus, and don't wish to see Merry hurt."
This tiny pixy had him smiling, without intending to do so. Barinthus had guarded his feelings for so many years that this unknown woman intrigued him had him somewhat concerned.
She smiled back, before saying, "I'm not here to hurt anyone. Well, anyone that isn't evil, anyways. That's as much as I know. The rest I guess we'll have to figure out together, guys. As for the queen bee, I'm not sure what got in her bonnet. All I did was land on her roses; I didn't even hurt them. See, I didn't break any; there aren't even any flowers on the floor, so give me a break. You'd have thought I ran over the family cat or something," Buffy huffed.
The two others laughed at her view. Barinthus brought them back to reality, when he cautioned his niece. "Merry, you must explain the ways of the court, and Sidhe law to her, before she's punished."
"Listen big fella, nobody's going to punish me. If they try they're in for a world of hurt," Buffy muttered with a frown.
Her arms crossed in agitation. Not wanting to lose her cool, she glanced over at the flowers, which amazed them once again. The branch that had brushed against Buffy's hair now contained only golden roses that shimmered in the dull light.
"Ooh, aren't those pretty? I've never seen any that shade before," Buffy commented. Merry and Barinthus looked at each other behind her back in wonder and bewilderment. "So, where's the wardrobe department in this place?"
Merry tried to decide what Buffy was. She jumped from the thoughts that ran through her mind.
"Oh, come with me, this way."
She took Buffy's arm, leading her away. Barinthus stood staring at the golden roses intermixed with the blood red ones. He wondered what they predicted.
"Buffy, please remove your clothes. I'll call for Fflur, so she can care for your wounds. Then, I'll try to find you some suitable clothes while I explain about the Sidhe and the Unseelie Court."
"I just need some clothes, Merry. Then, you can get on with the xplainy part."
Seeing the stubborn look on the auburn haired princess' face, Buffy exclaimed, "Fine, I'll show you."
Buffy pulled her shirt and pants off, revealing the smooth, unblemished skin underneath.
"But, how? We saw the blood; it dripped down everywhere," Merry gasped, her fingers reaching out to touch a taut stomach.
"I'm a fast healer. Now, tell me about this place, which isn't Oz, cause gotta tell you your aunt looks like a wicked witch to me."
"Buffy! You must never talk about Andais that way. Particularly in the Sithin, she can overhear anything said in the night, and here, she hears all and knows all that occurs.”
She stopped to look around as if she expected Ravens to burst through the door and drag them away to Ezekiel’s tender mercy.
“Spies are everywhere. The court is full of powerful Sidhe, and you're only human. Their hands of power can easily kill you and you couldn't do anything to defend yourself against them. Believe me, I've been where you are now. Anyone could challenge you to a duel for your arrogance or any insult. Please, be careful there are certain laws we abide by. They aren't perfect, but they should protect you. The most important is to always defer to Andais."
Merry hoped Buffy would take her warnings to heart. Her hope died quickly when she saw the set of Buffy’s chin. This was not going to go well, Merry just knew it.
"I was never too good at following rules, Merry. Why don't you explain this to me? I'll see what I can and can't live with; no promises."
Buffy's eyes twinkled as she considered her new world. She liked the beautiful princess; unfortunately, she couldn’t say the same about the Queen.
Merry had a bad feeling about this. I hope after I explain she'll understand our world and will take it more seriously.
Merry went on to explain the two Sidhe courts and the migration to America. The government laws they obeyed, along with the complicated Sidhe laws. She then tried to explain the many flavors of the fey.
"Stop, you're making my hair hurt. I feel like Giles is lecturing me on the latest new Big Bad. I always zone out on those too. Listen, how about I just ask you or you tell me if I get in over my head. Deal?"
Buffy held her hand out. Merry looked at Buffy then shook her hand.
"I'll try but I think I just made a very bad deal," she grumbled to herself.
"I heard that. Now, how about some clothes? Or am I supposed to go out there in my Victoria Secrets?"
Merry moved toward her wardrobe trying to find something that would fit. They were the same height, but Buffy was tiny and petite where she was full-busted. She found a white sheath, not even certain why she had purchased it. It was made from a stretchy material that molded to the body, with gold threads that ran throughout the light material.
"That's pretty. Are you sure you don't mind if I wear it?"
Buffy wondered if she could move in the dress if she needed to. She also realized she would be nearly nude beneath. Her fingers touched the material, and she smiled when she realized that it would allow her to fight, should it come to that. Thinking over the clothes she had seen, she mentally shrugged.
She grabbed the dress, and headed for the bathroom to dress. Buffy headed straight for the sink, to wash her face, and couldn’t but feel that something was "off" with her. She dried her face with the plush towel laid out for that purpose, and peered into the mirror. Leaning closer, she examined her face. Her hazel eyes had always held hints of blues and brown, but were predominantly green. There were flecks of gold in the eyes staring back at her. Her skin glowed as if she had just had a facial. Turning her head, this way and that to see if she could find any other changes, she cried out in horror.
Merry rushed into the room. She searched the small space for some type threat, but saw nothing. Nothing, except Buffy staring into the mirror as if she didn’t know the person there.
"Are you okay?"
Bright tears ran down Buffy's face as she looked into the mirror. She stared so hard; Merry was starting to wonder if the poor girl had lost her mind.
"It’s gone. How could it be gone? What happened to me?" she murmured to herself. She turned haunted eyes to Merry, who now saw the tears.
"Buffy, what's wrong? Did you discover an injury?"
Buffy sadly shook her head, pointing to her neck. "My scar, it’s gone."
Merry looked at the girl confused. Why would anyone get upset that they were no longer scarred? She would give almost anything to have hers disappear.
"Buffy, why’s it so important?"
"It's all I had left connecting me to Angel. Now, it's gone and I'm here with nothing."
Buffy crumbled to the floor crying. Merry knelt down beside the distraught girl.
"You haven't lost everything, Buffy. You're alive. And, I'll help you make a new life here. My friends and I will help you learn why you're here.”
Merry gently helped her to her feet. She gently pushed her back toward the offending mirror.
“Now, wash your face. We have to get back to the Queen. She will want some answers about you.”
When they entered the court, silence greeted them. Everybody turned to stare. It was an unheard response from the Sidhe. Barinthus thought Buffy looked even more pixyish in the white dress. It did however; reveal that she wasn’t the child he had through her. Muscles and curves showed as she moved forward. He couldn’t help but think she appeared to glide across the floor with predatory grace.
Buffy smiled at him as she walked by, and he returned it, nodding his approval at her transformation.
"You look lovely, little one."
She walked by without responding, and then shot back over her shoulder.
"Every one is little compared to you big guy, but thanks."
He laughed aloud, causing heads to turn. Merry ignored this interplay as she led Buffy to Andais. She bowed respectfully, and tried to pull Buffy down beside her. Problems ensued when the small blonde resisted her. Buffy stood proudly, looking Andais straight in the eye. She nodded her head toward the queen. It was the only indication that she acknowledged Andais’ position.
Andais’ eyebrow arched in question. Her anger started to rise, and her fists clenched. She started to call for Ezekial, when she recalled the changed roses. Andais decided to overlook this slight. It was only until she could figure out what this child
was and who had sent her.
"Please child come sit beside me. Let us talk and learn more about each other. You took us by surprise with your entrance into our home."
Buffy didn't trust the dark-haired woman one bit. Over her years as a slayer, she had learned to trust her first instinct. This lady clearly doesn't mean a word she just said. What does she want from me? Guess the only way to find out is to play along. But, only until I can figure out what’s going on here.
"Sure let's talk."
Buffy grinned at Andais, and plopped down in the open seat beside her. An audible gasp rang through the court. The queen hid her grimace at this impudent child’s behavior. She would play the game, but only until she got what she needed. Her lips turned into a cold smile that had Merry worried. She had seen that smile on her aunt’s face, and it never boded well for those she directed it toward.
"Merry, you may return to your seat. Your help will no longer be required, since we wish for some privacy."
She motioned her away, considering the matter closed. Merry glanced at Buffy, trying to implore her to remember what she had told her.
"So, child, where are you from?"
"Look, my name's Buffy. If we're going to get along, I suggest you use it, because you're so not my mom."
"Very well, Buffy," her tone turned glacial.
Buffy could swear the air became static. She shrugged her shoulder at the stray thought, and focused on the queen.
"I'm from Sunnydale, California. The best I can guess is that when I went through the portal, I ended in this dimension smelling like a rose."
She grinned impishly at her little joke. Buffy’s smile bloomed brighter when Andais laughed at her joke. She thought the queen beautiful like this.
"You have an interesting way with words ch...Buffy. Why would you knowingly jump into a portal?"
"To save my sister"
"To save her from what?"
"Dying," was the single word reply.
"I don't understand," Andais' grew intrigued.
"You don't need to. I did what I had to do and wound up here. What I don't understand is why didn't I die?"
"You expected to die and jumped anyway," Andais asked perplexed at this girl's answers.
"Of course. You mean you wouldn't die for someone you love, your family?"
Buffy tilted her head looking at the dark-haired woman. Andais didn’t understand how important her answer was, and the long-range impact they would have.
"I'm the Queen. I'm more important than those foolish emotions," Andais returned regally. "Not to mention the Sidhe are immortal."
Buffy found herself growing even more curious about the people around her. She didn’t think much about their queen, but she liked the princess.
"Well, most are. There’s invariably an exception," Andais said mysteriously.
A man dressed in black livery approached the Queen. He bowed low, and the lights glimmered off the Queen’s crest emblazoned across his chest.
"Your majesty, King Taranis is trying to reach you."
Andais went still, causing the entire Court to freeze in place. Many prayed that if they were very still, she would not notice them, and take her obvious anger out on them. Her back straightened to such a degree it was a wonder her spine didn’t snap.
"What did you say?"
The man trembled, and repeated the message. Andais rose from her chair, swiftly moving from the room. Heads turned, trying to perceive what had occurred to cause their queen's abrupt departure.
Buffy decided to walk over to where Merry sat with six other men, well five and a young boy. The men were beautiful, each in their own way. They each had different shades of hair, eyes and skin.
"Hey, can I join you guys? The Queen got a phone call from the King of Trains and had to take it."
They went silent, staring at Buffy as if she spoke a different language.
"Did you say King Taranis called Andais?” Merry's voice trembled with panic. “Are you certain this is important?"
"I guess that's his name.” She shrugged oblivious to the worry her words had created. “What's so important about a phone call?”
Buffy stared at the smorgasbord of gorgeous men, and asked, “Are you going to introduce me to your friends?"
Merry tried to think straight while her heart raced from Buffy's words. She reached for Frost’s hand under the table. He squeezed it reassuringly.
"I'm sorry. Buffy this is - Doyle, Rhys, Frost, Nicca, Galen and Kitto.” Her auburn head nodded in Buffy’s direction. “This is Buffy Summers, our newest guest."
Buffy remembered them as pointy, eye-patch, silver, Nestles, greeny, and little guy. She tried to hide her amusement, knowing they probably wouldn’t appreciate her names for them.
"Hey everybody. Do you mind if I sit?"
Pointy stood giving her his seat, and she noticed his hair.
"Wow, you should do commercials for shampoo. How long does it take to dry all that?"
Doyle stilled unsure how to respond to this impudent child. Merry came to his rescue, which had him sending her one of his rare smiles.
"Buffy, you shouldn't ask Sidhe personal questions."
"Well, how the hell else am I gonna find out?"
The blonde Slayer pouted at the stupid rules. Her arms crossed over her chest and her innocent question had them thinking her more child than woman.
"Its fine, princess. Over the years I've learned many ways to ease the burden of caring for my hair," he told her cryptically.
"Cryptic isn't just for my world, huh?"
Buffy wrinkled her nose at him. He didn’t have a chance to respond as the air became thick with anger. Doyle knew from experience events had taken a dangerous turn. His dark eyes sought its source, and he braced for the worst.
Andais had returned to court. Her pale cheeks flushed with anger, and her power whipped about the room causing the occupants to gasp for breath.
"Bring that girl to me."
Merry rushed forward with Buffy, stopping in front of the throne. She tried hard to appear
"Tell me how King Taranis knows of your arrival in my court?"
She glared at the Unseelie Queen's tone. Her chin jutted out, as if she dared Andais to do anything to her. This lady had mental issues as far as she was concerned.
"I don't know who that is."
"You lie. He knew the minute you landed in my court. Are you his spy? Take her to Ezekiel until she talks."
Cel stepped up, happy to take assist in this matter. He would show the entire court he was the rightful heir.
"I'll escort her, mother."
Buffy barely contained the growl fighting to escape her throat. She bent down and ripped the bottom from her dress. In minutes, she had freed her legs and assumed a fighting stance.
"You aren't taking me anywhere, buddy. Don't even try."
"What do you believe you can do to stop me? I'm Prince Cel of the Old Blood; a royal Sidhe of the Unseelie Court," he announced proudly.
"I don't care how old your blood is, Count Chocula, still not gonna happen."
Buffy stood with every muscle tense, ready for a fight. He reached out to grab her, never imagining she would dare to resist. Buffy leaned toward him, ignoring the smug look on his face. She moved close, grabbed his extended hand, and threw him over her shoulder.
The court moved as one to clear the combat zone. No one could interfere if it escalated into a challenge. Cel stood up with pure hatred marring his handsome face. He pulled his sword, unwilling to ignore the insult and accepted her challenge. Buffy back-flipped until she stood next to Barinthus, snatching his sword before racing back to Cel's side in a blur of speed. The sword was practically as tall as Buffy, yet she used it like it weighed nothing. Cel swung at her and Buffy met him blow for blow.
Several minutes later, she caught his sword in a downward blow and knocked it from his hand. Buffy swept his feet from underneath him and pointed the blade at his throat. He called on his magic, gathering it around him and toward the blonde above him. The court screamed as they watched a bright blue light encompass Buffy's body. Cel screamed loudly thrashing on the floor while blood poured from marks on his body.
"What's happening to him? I didn't touch him," Buffy yelled over the screams.
Barinthus stepped forward, taking his sword from her. He glanced at Cel then back at Buffy, understanding lit his ocean-colored eyes.
"You turned his power back on him."
He led her away as Fflur rushed to aide the prince.
"Merry, escort that girl from my court, tonight," Andais ordered, leaving in a flourish of black.
Merry looked at the others. She not only had six men in her life, now she was responsible for this strange girl. Her shoulders slumped at this unneeded burden. Merry straightened, unwilling to show weakness before the court.
"Buffy, I live in LA and would like to invite you to come home with me?” she invited graciously, and then continued. “Maybe, we can find some information for you."
"If it gets me out of here, sounds good to me. Sorry, about the dress, Merry.” She motioned to the ragged hem. “When I get some money, I'll pay you back."
"I like the improvements you made. Maybe you should go into design," Rhys' blue eye twinkled with mischief.
She gave Rhys a pointed look, daring him to say a word. Merry fought not to close her eyes as a headache started to grow at her temple.
"Don't worry about it, Buffy; it's an old dress."
Buffy ignored this byplay, and went over to speak with Barinthus. She couldn’t keep from smiling at the beautiful blue toned man. Buffy had no idea what it was that drew her to him, but she was willing to find out, if given the chance.
"Will you be going to LA too?"
"No, Pixie, I must stay here to guard the queen. You'll be safe with Merry and the others."
She worked hard not to pout. Buffy hoped to get to know him better. He looked down at her upturned face, admiring the golden specs in her eyes.
"Can I phone you then? You know just to talk."
Barinthus looked over at Merry. He didn't know how to respond to Buffy's question. She sent him a knowing look, and decided to help her old friend out of this awkward situation.
"We'll see what we can arrange, Buffy. We should leave before Andais changes her mind about letting you go." Merry answered for her father's oldest friend, wondering if he found Buffy attractive, or was just being polite to a stranger.