Embracing the Dark @rubberduckiez
The Truth Shall Set You Free

Maeve stood and stared at Niall, waiting for him to say something to her. He said nothing to Seth when they went back into the bar to retrieve her things, though it was clear that he understood what was going on from the look on his face. They then turned and left, quickly making their way back to her apartment without saying a word.

When they walked in, he stood and studied her a moment before motioning for her to take off the charm. She did so and walked over, holding it out to him.

"Where did you get this?" he asked, holding it close to his face, his brow furrowed.

"My father," she said. "He left it with my mother when I was a baby. Said I was supposed to wear it all the time." He looked up at her and then back down at the charm.

"And you've never taken it off?" he asked.

"Only when I've been home by myself," she replied. "Never when I'm around others."

"What do you know about it?" he then asked.

"Nothing. He just said that it would hide what I really was from other faeries," she said. He nodded and handed it back to her.

"It also binds your power," he said. Maeve's eyes widened.

"My… powers?" she asked. "What powers? I'm just half faery." He studied her a few moments before speaking.

"Some things all fairies have. Speed. Strength. Glamours," he said. "Other things differ depending on what kind of faery you are. You're only half, so you won't have that to the extent as a full fey."

"Can you tell… what kind of faery I am?" she asked. When she looked at herself in the mirror without the charm, all she saw was a sort of dark shimmer around her. And in most things, she was a normal human - had never thought to see if there was something more that she could do. Granted she also always wore her charm. Maybe she should try doing things without it. "I never knew my father and it wasn't like he explained things to my mom outside of him being a faery and part of the Dark Court… Just said that I needed to be kept hidden."

"Whoever he is, I wish he wouldn't have hidden you away from the Dark Court," Niall said. "It's not safe for half-human faeries to be out on their own. Especially without someone to teach them how to control themselves." He continued to study her. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"

"I tried yesterday. I wanted to. But then you had to leave," she said, frowning slightly. "I wasn't going to keep this a secret forever."

Niall's eyes widened as it suddenly hit him that she had seen him all along. From the first time he walked up to her and Seth on the street. To the other day at the dance studio.

"Fuck," he murmured.

"Ah, yea, about that," Maeve said, walking passed him towards the kitchen. "Care to tell me why you were following me?"

"I… I'm not sure," he admitted. She paused a moment before returning to her task of pouring wine. She then walked over and sat on a stool in front of the island, not bothering to offer him one. She took a drink. "I'm sorry. I just wanted to make sure you were safe. I suppose now I understand why."

"Because I'm faery and my father was one of yours," she replied. He nodded.

"Does Aislinn know?" he asked. Maeve shook her head.

"I was going to tell her today when she came over to talk, but some sort of Summer Court business came up and she had to go. Though I'm guessing she probably knows by now," she replied before taking a drink. "Seth knows. He's been pushing me to tell you and her."

"He's right. You should have told me that first day. You've been going around unprotected," Niall chastised. Maeve rolled her eyes.

"If you haven't noticed, I've been taking care of myself for a long time now. I think I would have been okay," she said, getting a bit testy.

Niall wouldn't admit it out loud, but her lack of trust in him hurt. He was the Dark King and her father was part of his court, making him think that she would choose to be part of it as well. He would have looked out for her and taken her under his wing. More than anything, Maeve needed protection right now - the incarnate of War was out running around creating chaos. There was no doubt she had seen this coming and was already planning something.

"But suppose it doesn't matter. Now you know and now I've got to figure out how to deal with Ash. She's going to be pissed when she finds out I've kept this from her for this long," Maeve said.

"Why?" he asked. "Did you not know that she could See?"

"Oh, I knew. But my mother said I couldn't tell anyone. That he said it wouldn't be safe," she said, rolling her eyes. "If he was really so worried about my safety, you'd think he would have stuck around to look out for me."

Niall frowned. On the surface, it would seem like the Dark Court would be more likely to sire a child and then abandon them.

However, even some of the more aggressive of his court had a soft spot for their offspring. Even though Gabriel left most of his kids in the human world, he still checked in on them. Had taken in Ani when it was known that she could feed on mortals.

It made him even more curious as to who her father was. Perhaps it was a former member of the Dark Court who had gone solitary. If that was the case, he doubted they would ever track him down, whoever he was.

"Regardless of who he is, you have the protection of my court," Niall said formerly. "I consider you one of mine." Maeve stared at him a moment, blinking. She then nodded.

"I appreciate it," she said before taking another drink of her wine, though was careful not to specifically swear loyalty. She still needed to talk to Ash first.

"And… if it could help… I'll do whatever I can to help you find your father," Niall said. Maeve furrowed her brow.

"You don't have to do that," she said quickly.

"If anything, he should be held responsible for his actions. You should have been brought to us long before," he said. Though at the same time, Niall couldn't help but think that it might have been a good thing. If she had been brought to Irial, he wasn't sure what would have become of her.

Granted, it's not like the life she had lived had been any better. But at least she hadn't been subjected to Irial's depravity.

"I… okay," Maeve replied, looking away from him as she felt a bit of hope. One of the biggest questions in her life had always been who her father was. She was eager to have it answered.

She looked up, suddenly seeing Niall standing in front of her. Her eyes were wide as her breath caught in her throat.

"I'm serious, Maeve. I will do whatever I can to keep you safe and to help you," he said softly, his eyes telling her that he was very, very serious. She swallowed and nodded. "You are no longer alone. You're with your kind."

For a moment, she couldn't breathe as she felt tears prick at her eyes. She didn't realize how much she needed to hear those words until he had uttered them. But along with a long-sought acceptance of who she was, there was something else there. A stirring inside her. It was different than before. On the dance floor, it had been lust and nothing more. Or well, that's what she had thought in the moment.

But this… whatever this was, it slightly terrified her.

Sensing her fear, Niall stepped back, giving her space.

"It's been a long day. I'll… leave you for now," he said, looking away from her. He had seen her tense up when he moved closer to her.

"Okay," Maeve managed to say, not looking at him either.

"If you need anything, call me," he said, finally looking at her. She looked at him and nodded. Niall then walked to the door and left. Quickly he made his way out of the building and stood on the sidewalk, looking up at her apartment as he pulled out his phone and made a call to Gabriel, letting him know that he wanted a small guard on Maeve for the time being.

He then leaned against the building across the street and waited for the first of the guards to arrive. While he stood there, he couldn't help but wonder… just who was her father?

~~~

"What?" Keenan asked, his skin glowing as he stared at the young guard.

"There's no mistaking it. She was wearing a charm that masked who she was," he said. "As soon as it came off, I could clearly see that she's part faery."

"And the Dark King was there?" Keenan asked, glancing towards the shut door.

"Yes, but I don't think he knew before then. He seemed just as surprised," the guard said. Keenan sighed and ran his fingers through his copper hair, moving to look out the windows of his study.

"Aislinn went to see her today, but… she hasn't mentioned this to me. Surely, she wouldn't hide it from me if she knew," he muttered to himself.

"My king?" the guard said. Keenan turned and looked at him.

"When you were at her apartment earlier, did the Queen mention this to you?" he asked. The rowan shook his head.

"She said nothing. Just to watch her and protect her should she need it. That's why we followed her into the bar. She went straight to the Dark King," he said. "We kept a close eye."

"Well, I think it's obvious why she went to him - she's probably one of his," Keenan said. He studied the guard for a moment. "Did anyone else see?"

"No," the guard replied. "It was just the three of us."

"Good. Let's keep this between us for now. No need to worry the Queen until we know just what kind of threat this is," Keenan said.

"What's a threat?" Aislinn asked, walking into the study without knocking. Keenan's eyes widened, but it was too late now. She would have it out of him one way or another. He sighed.

"It's your cousin," he said.

"What about Maeve? Did something happen to her?" Aislinn asked, worry painting her features. She looked at the rowan. "I told you to keep her safe!"

"Maeve isn't hurt or in any danger," Keenan said. Aislinn whipped her head around to look at him. "Though… she might be a threat."

"What threat could she be?" Aislinn scoffed. Keenan glanced at the guard and then back to Aislinn.

"Aislinn… she's not human," he said bluntly.

"Not… what? She's faery? But… I just saw her today and… I would have seen," Aislinn said, trying to wrap her head around what he was saying.

"She was wearing a charm that hid her from other faeries," Keenan explained slowly. "There was a bit of a scuffle tonight at the Crow's Nest with the Dark King and the necklace was accidentally ripped from her neck."

Aislinn's eyes widened.

"Is she okay? Where is she? Did you just leave her there?" she shouted, the room becoming uncomfortably warm as she looked at the guard. "Why would you leave her there with him!?" The guard looked at Keenan and then back at her.

"Because… we're pretty sure that she's more aligned with them than us," he said. Aislinn's mouth dropped open as she looked over at Keenan.

"This must be some sort of mistake. I mean… surely, she would tell me this. And how would you know?" she said, running her fingers through her hair as she began to pace. She then stopped as her eyes widened. "Oh my god. She did try to tell me. Today. But then you wouldn't stop calling and I had to leave…" She looked towards the door. "I need to go to her."

Keenan reached out and grabbed her arm, yanking her towards him.

"Let me go, Keenan!" Aislinn shouted, turning her fury towards him.

"For all we know, he's already taken her to his court," he said. "You can just go waltzing into the Dark Court in the middle of the night!"

"I will if my cousin is there!" Aislinn shouted back.

"For all we know, she can't be trusted! That she's one of them!" Keenan shouted.

"She is MY family! I will not abandon her!"

"You didn't even know she was a faery!" Keenan retorted. "For all we know, she doesn't trust you!" Aislinn stared at him, her nostrils flaring. "I mean, think about it. She obviously knew what she was. She took measures to hide it! Why hasn't she told you?"

"Maybe she's afraid," Aislinn said, frowning. "She's been on her own for a long time…"

"Don't you think she would have told you earlier today if she wanted you to know?" Keenan pushed.

"Like I said - she was going to tell me something today, but you made me leave!" Aislinn shouted. The two monarchs stared each other down for a couple of tense moments. Finally Keenan sighed and looked away.

"All I'm saying is to wait. We need more information before we go seeking her out. At least call or text her to make sure she's at her place before you go running off to find her," Keenan said. Aislinn nodded.

"Fine," she said, relenting. She then spun on her heels and stalked out of the study. She quickly made her way to her room, where she began pacing, her mind whirling. How could she have missed this? And when did it happen? How did it happen? Was it Irial's doing? Had he taken her mortality from her? Or was it someone else. As far as she was aware, only a few faeries could turn mortals into what they were. Had she somehow come across Sorcha?

And how did they know that she would go to the Dark Court? Maybe Maeve didn't want to join the Dark Court. Though she had to admit that part of her knew that Niall was a good king in the sense that he would look out for her.

Sighing, she fell back on her bed and stared up at the ceiling.

With everything else going on, this was the absolute last thing that she needed.

~~~

Niall sighed as he walked into his large private sitting room. While he would occasionally meet with people here, he tried to keep all court matters firmly outside of his living quarters so he could have a place of peace to himself. As it was, very few people were allowed back here.

"Wondered where you got off to," Seth said casually from where he was sitting on a sofa, reading. He glanced over at Niall, though didn't drop the book. "How did it go with Maeve?" he asked, his eyes flicking back down to the book. Niall sighed and walked over, falling onto the sofa next to him. Seth looked over at him.

"How long have you known?" Niall asked.

"She told me after she first met with Ash at her grandmother's and discovered that she was the Summer Queen," Seth said, finally putting the book down. "I wanted her to talk to you right away, but she was… afraid."

"There's no reason for her to be afraid of me," Niall replied, frowning.

"I know that. You know that. She's still learning that," Seth replied. "You have to understand, there have been very few people in the world Maeve's been able to trust. It doesn't come easy to her." Niall nodded, remembering the photographs in her apartment.

She had trusted him. The human man that had once been her partner in dance and was set to be one in life. Though the more Niall thought about it, the more he wondered if that had been doomed to fail regardless of the accident. It was clear that the charm she wore bound her power. If his suspicions about her - about what her father was - were correct, it would have been dangerous. And it was yet one more thing she and Niall had in common.

Only if she left him. He would have lived if she always stayed at his side…

Niall shook his head. He had no proof, just an idea. The charm had given him the idea. And the fact that her mother was unstable. Granted, that didn't always mean anything. She could have been that way before her encounter with a faery. Niall realized there was still a lot that he didn't know about the newest potential member of his court.

"What are you thinking?" Seth asked. Niall looked over at him, his eyebrows raised.

"Who her father is," he admitted. "And just what else there is to learn about her… Anything more you can tell me?"

Seth studied him a moment and sighed again.

"I've told you all that I know," he said. "We were friends, but she kept a lot of things to herself. Though… still heard things. Her mom was pretty messed up most of the time. Was unstable. Though suppose she had her good and bad days. When she was younger, that's when she stayed with Ash and her grandmother a lot." Niall nodded slowly. "And yea, you know the rest. Dance career. Fiance. Car accident." He didn't speak, just waited for Seth to continue. "She's tough. Always has been. Kept smiling through the worst of it so no one would know how bad it was back home. Worked to pay the bills and for her dance lessons, though I know Ash's grandmother helped with that a lot. When she wasn't working or dancing or out with us, she was studying and applying to whatever dance academy and company she could find. I helped film some of her audition tapes."

"She… was amazing at the studio," Niall said, getting lost for a moment in the memory of watching her dance. Seth chuckled.

"You should have seen her before the accident," Seth replied. "Now that was amazing. Especially after she met Christopher… it was like those two were born to dance together." Niall frowned at that. He wasn't sure why the mention of the mortal made him jealous. He was dead. "But yea, if you want to know more, you'll have to ask her yourself."

Niall nodded slowly again.

"Yea… I'll do that…"

~~~

Irial blew a stream of smoke as he stood in the shadows, carefully hidden from sight from the few faeries that stood watch outside the building. As soon as he saw Niall's interest in the woman, he had taken to watching her when he could, trying to discover just why he was taken with her.

But even he had to admit that standing out on the street outside her apartment was only getting him so far. He had yet to actually get a good look at her. He stomped out his cigarette, his eyes fixed on the window. As if she knew he was watching, she then stepped into view, taking in the faeries standing watch.

It was then that Irial froze a moment and then nearly forgot himself and stepped out into the street. Even from a distance, he recognized her. Or well, he supposed that was because she looked so much like her mother.

"Would you look at that," he murmured as a smile appeared on his face. Shaking his head, he chuckled and turned, wandered down the alley.

This was going to be rather interesting, wasn't it?

1. Going Home 4116 0 0 2. To Be Safe 3573 0 0 3. To Tell the Truth 3007 0 0 4. Keeping Secrets 3341 0 0 5. Misunderstandings 3373 0 0 6. The Truth Shall Set You Free 3343 0 0 7. Another Day 3958 0 0 8. Dark Confusion 3579 0 0 9. Confronting the Past 3735 0 0 10. The Truth About Love 3309 0 0 11. Conflicted Feelings 3417 0 0 12. Wooing Maeve 3239 0 0 13. Finding Acceptance 3450 0 0 14. Daddy Dearest 3203 0 0 15. To Have a Choice 3144 0 0 16. Letting Go & Moving Forward 3208 0 0 17. Letting Go and Moving Forward 3256 0 0 18. To Become a Queen 3208 0 0