A Very Roon Christmas! (Special Bonus Holiday Scene)
Belle took the folder of papers from Devan, skimming the words as the witch explained them to her. She nodded her dark head, eyes serious and intent as she listened. Then she closed the file and offered a tentative smile.
“Thank you, Dev. I appreciate this more than I can say.”
“Well, I guess we can almost thank Eden Stowe. I mean, who would’ve thought he could still be useful?”
Dev’s hair was finally starting to grow back after her kidnapping. The faery realm’s revolution had been hard on all of them, and the fae were only just beginning to pick up the pieces after the ravages of war. Belle hoped the holiday season would bring some healing to her people.
Her people. It was hard to believe they’d chosen her to lead them. But then, how could they trust the Women after all that had happened?
Where are you? When Belle heard Roon’s voice in her head, she immediately smashed the file against her chest, as if he could see it. It was possible, given his sheoque fae magic, but she didn’t think he had. Still she didn’t want to take that chance. Raising a finger to her mouth, she widened her eyes as a silent indicator to Devan. Since they had been childhood friends, there was a time when Roon had been in the witch’s head, too, and when she nodded with a grin, Belle knew she understood what was happening.
I’m at Charlie’s Place talking to Devan. I’ll be back home soon.
He chuckled low. Better hurry. The kids are over at Mom and Pop’s and I’ve got a surprise for you, Princess. I have a very special pre-holiday gift for you. Boomchickawowow…
Her insides immediately heated and contracted as the promise of his suggestive tone spread over her. She felt her cheeks flame, and when Devan raised an eyebrow, she knew the other woman could just about imagine the conversation going on telepathically. When she felt Roon was gone, she put out her hand to the witch, but instead of a handshake, Devan drew in close for an embrace.
“It’s Christmas time, and we’re friends. That calls for hugs.”
Belle was still getting used to the affection shared between her new band of friends. As a former child supplicant with the Org, she was used to a cold, hard world wholly separate from what most of them had ever known.
“Thank you again,” she said, then twisted her hand and opened a magical door to the faery realm. But she didn’t pop into the Summer where she and Roon had made their home. Instead, she walked into the Spring in search of Aimilíona. The faery had white blonde hair that gave her an ethereal appearance as she stepped out of her cottage, an expression of youthful anticipation. She’d been a fierce warrior during the revolution and was now a trusted friend to Belle.
“Did you get it?”
“I got it!” Belle exclaimed, holding the folder up in triumph. “But Roon’s calling for me so I don’t have much time.”
Ona, as she was known to most in the fae realm, stuck out her hand and took the file. “Don’t worry. I’ll take it, and everything will be ready for tonight. I can’t figure which I’m more excited about. The return of Santa Claus, or this!”
Belle laughed. The children had said the same thing, brimming with excitement both about their special gift and that their new fae friends would get to meet Santa.
Lena, Jeremy and Nona had all grown up in the human realm, and even though they’d been caught up in the Org’s nasty plot, they’d still been able to celebrate the wonders of Christmas. But since the jolly old elf and his workers, all members of the fae realm, had gotten caught on the human side before the doors were sealed, the fae children hadn’t ever seen Santa. It was something the entire realm was looking forward to.
Hey, Princess… Boomchickawowow…
Belle giggled, blushing as she opened the golden door again…
Roon leaned back in his chair, balancing precariously back and forth from four to two legs. Nona was perched on his knees, and every time he leaned too far, she would giggle and throw her arms out as if afraid they might fall. They wouldn’t, of course. Even if he did lose his balance—which wasn’t likely for the current champion of the fae world Games—he could just use his magic to keep them from tumbling backwards.
There were fae children of varying age everywhere, all of them munching on sweets, singing Christmas carols, and chattering with glee over the festivities. His people had always celebrated Christmas in their own way, but this would be different. For the first time since the golden doors were closed between the human and faery realms, Santa Claus would be able to visit the kids here. It was an auspicious occasion that had young and old alike filled with hopeful anticipation, especially now that the revolution was behind them.
“How many cookies have you had?” Belle asked with a pinched expression as she watched little Nona lick bright green icing from her fingers.
“Not enough, apparently,” Roon chortled as the little girl jumped down and ran towards the goodie table for another round.
Belle was a tough mother-figure, but tonight even she couldn’t maintain her normally strict decorum. A grin tugged at her lips until she finally shot him a full-blown smile. Her lips were painted red, something she didn’t do often. But the deep color set off the glow in her cheeks and the festive maroon dress she wore.
“You look good enough eat tonight, Princess,” he murmured low, heat in his gaze. She sniffed and shook her head in mock-disdain, but her blush told the story of how his words affected her.
“Can we do it now?” Jeremy asked, a slight whine to his voice as he approached Belle, head back, mouth open and arms drooping at his sides. “We’ve been waiting for-e-ver.”
Belle did her best to frown at him, but there was a twinkle in her eyes that made Roon wonder what she was up to. Finally, she snorted in delight before ruffling the boy’s head and nodding.
“Go on and see Ona. She’ll fetch it for you.”
“Fetch what?” Roon asked as he watched the boy bound away. Lena was across the room flirting with a boy about her age, but she must have sensed something was happening because she immediately started their way.
He’d always had an affection for children. It was part of his make-up as a sheoque, a type of faery who befriends and sometimes saves children from danger. But these kids, Lena, Jeremy and Nona, were special to him. It was hard to describe how deeply he’d come to care for them. Only their adoptive mother could compete for possession of his heart, but he wasn’t sure he could live with any one of them without the other.
Nona now had blue and green icing on her face and hands, but she brought a napkin with her when she returned to his side. He quickly grabbed it from her tiny hand so that he could use it to clean her up a bit. Whatever Belle had up her sleeve, he had a feeling she wouldn’t want a set of sticky fingers involved.
“I got it!” Jeremy shouted, carrying a beautifully wrapped box. The package was adorned with green and red swirls mixed with glittering gold. A huge shimmering bow was tied perfectly, and as the boy handed it to Belle and she placed it in Roon’s lap, he saw the colors ebb and glow with magic.
“Santa’s not even here yet,” he argued, though he accepted the present with a bit of trepidation. He’d told Belle he wasn’t much for gifts, that he preferred to watch others enjoy this part of the holiday. “Besides, I thought we weren’t doing this?” He looked up at her with confusion in his green eyes
“This isn’t from me,” she said with a cool smile as she placed her hands behind her back and nodded with her chin towards the box. “This is from the children.”
He wasn’t sure why, but his hand trembled a little as he tugged the end of the bow to untie it. Nona edged in closer, her warm breath touching his arm as she leaned against his side. He slid his fingers under the edge of the paper to tug the tape away. When the box was free of its exquisite wrappings, he pulled the top off and peered inside. There was a manila folder on top of a bed of red tissue paper.
“What is it?”
“Open it!” Lena cried.
Jeremy instantly agreed. “Yeah, look inside!”
Roon turned his eyes down to Nona, and she blinked. It wasn’t meant to be a blink. She’d been trying to learn to wink the way he did, but so far, all she could do was flutter both eyes. With a deep breath, Rooney flipped the folder opened and looked at the formally typed document.
“Original Petition for…” When he read the last word of the title, his breath hitched and a huge knot formed in his throat. A burning sensation began behind his eyes as he turned his gaze up to Belle. She had tears in her own eyes as she inclined his head to him.
“Adoption, Roon,” Lena told him, helpfully reading it for him. “It’s for you, to make us your kids.”
It was hard to breathe, but he swallowed. “Yeah, you’re right, Lena. That’s what it says.”
Nona’s fingers clenched his arm. “Don’t you want to be our daddy?”
He was afraid if he looked at her he would start crying like a baby, and by that time they’d attracted a huge crowd. The only thing he could think to do was grab up the little girl to him and hide his face against her shoulder.
“There’s nothing in the world I’d like more than to be your daddy, Nona.”
“Us, too?” Jeremy asked.
“Yes, you.” He pulled the boy into his free side, then used both hands to tug Lena into the middle for one giant bear hug. “And you. All three of you.”
When he could finally trust himself to look, he gazed up and saw his mother beside Belle, holding his beautiful siren’s hand as she too struggled not to bawl. Pop was beside them, one arm on his wife’s shoulder.
“Are you sure, Princess?” he asked Belle, reaching one hand for her to come to them.
“It was their idea. But I’d been thinking of it. I’m absolutely sure it’s what all of us want. Of course, you know what this means, don’t you?”
His brows tugged in tight in a frown. “No, what?”
“Well, if we’re going to do this, we’ll need to be a real family. So you’re going to have to make an honest woman of me.”
“Why, Princess,” he grinned as he stood. The children stepped aside, and he cupped both her cheeks, gazing into her dark eyes. “Are you asking me to marry you?”
“Kiss her! Kiss her!” Lena exclaimed, pointing above them towards the ceiling. Magically hanging just over their heads was a sprig of mistletoe.
What’s a faery to do, Princess?
In answer, she tipped her lips up, and he leaned down to brush his against hers. She melted into him, her form meeting his in perfect alignment as he embraced her close.
“I hear him!” a little boy shouted somewhere in the background.
Rooney didn’t pull away, just slanted his mouth to Belle’s and deepened the kiss, stroking his tongue to hers. She would probably object to such a public display of affection, but he didn’t care. The sound of sleigh bells had drawn everyone’s attention elsewhere as Santa Claus finally made his appearance. Roon didn’t need the old elf in the red suit. He had everything he could ever want for Christmas already.