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Chapter 16

The world was quiet as Grey flew around the lake to find a good place to set up camp for the night. He didn’t stay in the one place for long; he hadn’t since the night that he’d lost his world.
Grey wanted to be able to go back and change that night; he made that wish at least once an hour to be able to have Melinda back and to actually get to see their daughter. Arianna would be in her mid twenties now by human standards, just a babe by his races standards but coming into her magic.
Grey had only been able to see her once, she was three months old at the time and already had a personality so big that her smile seemed to light up the room. He knew he would love her but had never realised just how much until that moment. His baby girl and the only gift he could give her was his absence in her life.
“You can’t tell her about me,” Grey told Melinda the morning she told him about their baby, “Do you want to make her an outcast?”
“Grey, you’re amazing,” Melinda whispered, “Our baby should know you and get to spend time with you. I don’t want to have to lie.”
Grey gently touched her stomach, “She is going to be a wonderful person.”
Grey winced, “I probably shouldn’t have told you that.”
“Now I know we’re having a girl I know what I want to name her,” Melinda told him.
Grey looked at her confused, Melinda wrapped her arms around his neck, “I want to call her after your mother. Arianna.”
“She would be so proud,” Grey whispered, “If I could tell her.”
Melinda sighed, “I’m sorry, Grey. I wish the fact that we loved one another wasn’t such a horrible thing to both your people and mine.”
“They may hate our love,” Grey told her, “But the fact that you love me makes me prouder than I have ever been. Now you’re giving me a baby that I will love no matter what and I have to do the only thing I can do.”

“You’re still hiding.”
Grey turned surprised to find he was no longer alone in his camp, the man standing there looked very familiar but Grey couldn’t quite place him.
“You can’t stay in hiding any longer,” the man said, “She needs you now. If you want to stay here wallowing in misery then fine but you’ll be abandoning your child and then you will never forgive yourself.”
Grey stood and looked at the man, “Who are you?”
“I’m a friend,” the man replied.
“Not a friend of mine,” Grey snapped, “I don’t have friends because everyone I knew and cared for turned away from me the moment I fell in love.”
“Everyone you knew did that but not everyone who knew Melinda did,” the man told him, “Her family watched proud of who she chose and proud that she sacrificed herself to protect the people she loved.”
“Who are you?” Grey demanded again, anger filling him at how his question was being avoided.
At the golden glow covering Grey the man nodded, “My name is Merlin.”
Grey stared at him, “Melinda spoke of you but I was under the impression you couldn’t come here.”
“The one who stole Melinda from you and Arianna,” Merlin explained, “He has created a rift between the two worlds that is drawing power but is giving me a chance to come here. Your daughter is looking for you and you have to make a choice now. Do you stay here in this self-imposed isolation or you can go and protect your child.”
Grey stared at him, “But will she want to know me?”
“Arianna is learning more and more about her power now,” Merlin explained, “And she needs someone who can guide her through the powers you have gifted to her. Trust me, she wants to know you as much as you want to know her.”
“Then lead the way,” Grey told him with finality ready to meet his child.

Arianna winced as the box in front of her exploded open. Davin and Logan turned to where she was both turning back quickly as she glared at them. She was trying hard to master control of her powers but at the moment she wasn’t doing too well.
Laurie and Jeannie had happily escaped to go and get them some food, once again using the connection between the shop and the bar. Arianna had already blown several shelves up tossing books all around the shop as well as starting three fires, all which she managed to put out as well.
A knock at the door made them all spin before they realised that they were looking at the wrong door.
“That came from the cellar,” Logan noted, “Creepy.”
“No one is due through the rift,” Davin stated with a grimace, “This might be trouble.”
Arianna’s face set in a dark grimace, “Then let’s see who our visitor is.”
The three of them moved to the cellar door, Logan pushed to the back as the only one without any way to protect himself from magical attack. To their surprise a stranger stood behind the door, tall with dark blond hair his eyes were strange. They were dark brown with gold flecks through them and as they watched him he smiled at them.
“Who are you?” Arianna demanded sharply.
The man stared at her in amazement, “Oh my, Arianna you look just like your mother.”
She froze at his words about to ask her question again when Davin’s voice stopped her.
“Grey? Is that really you?”
“Grey?” Arianna snapped in astonishment, her head spinning from Davin to the man in front of her, “As in...”
“Arianna, I’d like you to meet your father,” Davin introduced.
“By the gods,” Arianna breathed, “You’re really here.”
“Perhaps we should move back upstairs,” Logan suggested, he placed an arm around Arianna moving her easily away from the door.
As Arianna was led away Davin turned to Grey again.
“It’s good to see you,” Davin told him, “I had to admit I never thought I ever would again.”
“I’ve been told my daughter needs me,” Grey replied.
Davin’s face hardened, “She’s needed you a lot of times before now and you were nowhere to be found. What makes now so special?”
“If you don’t know then you obviously haven’t been paying attention,” Grey retorted, “Arianna is coming into both sets of powers. I heard the explosions from down there. She needs trained.”
“I’m training her,” Davin snapped.
Grey frowned, he didn’t want to argue with the other man but unfortunately his temper got the better of him.
“Davin, you don’t have the knowledge to train a dragon,” Grey reminded him, “I do. I’m here to help.”
Davin sighed, “Then you may as well come up.”

Arianna sat down when Logan guided her to the table; she didn’t know how much more she could take.
“Ari,” Logan said softly, “Do you want me to get you anything?”
She shook her head but caught his hand, her eyes asking for him to sit with her for a few moments. As Logan took the seat beside her Arianna moved and rested her head against his shoulder.
“I wanted to meet him but I guess I never expected to,” she whispered.
“You don’t have to talk to him,” Logan reminded her, “You can just leave the shop and we’ll go to the bar for a while.”
Arianna smiled up at him, “I think I really need to remember how sweet you are.”
Logan leaned down and gave her a gentle kiss, his fingers stroking along her cheek as he hoped that this would actually lead to something.
As they parted Arianna saw Davin walk over with her father, she stood so she could face him and without thought Arianna moved to him wrapping her arms around him in a tight embrace. Grey dropped his chin onto her head as he squeezed her tightly. After several minutes Grey let her go and pushed her back to look at her.
“You look a lot like your mother,” Grey told her, “But I can also see so much of my mother in you too.”
At Logan’s raised eyebrow he chuckled before clarifying, “Her human form.”
“This is Logan Matthews,” Arianna introduced to Grey, “Laurie and Jeannie should be back soon.”
“So, you’re the team who are saving the world,” Grey noted, “Well, I’m here to help.”
Arianna frowned at him, “Why did you come back now?”
“Because Merlin told me you needed me,” Grey explained, “And from what I heard you do.”
“I’m just learning,” Arianna reminded him tartly.
“I know,” Grey replied, “But you may learn faster with someone who knows what they’re doing.”
Arianna rolled her eyes before she nodded, “Fine.”

“Arianna,” Davin called.
It was several hours since her father had arrived and already Arianna was making the most amazing progress in her new powers. She hadn’t blown anything up in an hour or so which was a good thing in Davin and Logan’s opinion.
“What’s wrong?” Arianna asked walking into his office, she stopped as she realised that they were being contact by the council, “Oh.”
“Arianna,” Godwin greeted her sharply, “You’re back finally.”
“Yes, I am.”
“Did you find what you were looking for?” Godwin asked, his voice strained as he was obviously trying not to demand what he wanted to know.
“And much more,” Arianna’s voice was filled with smug satisfaction, “It’s too late, Godwin. I have the stones.”
“That’s good news,” his voice strained even more.
“What’s more,” Arianna continued, “I know everything about who I am and what I can do.”
Godwin was about to retort but he visibly started as Grey walked in to stand with his daughter.
“I believe you know my father,” Arianna stated smugly.
Godwin glared at her, “You have no chance of succeeding in closing the rift, Arianna. You should give up now.”
Arianna laughed, “You’re afraid. And you should be. I know now who murdered my mother and I have other reasons for wanting your family destroyed.”
“We trapped the glorious Merlin and his sister,” Godwin told her, “Do you think you can stop us?”
Arianna stepped forward slightly, “I’m going to try and I’m looking forward to it.”
With a wave of her hand she cut the connection. She turned to Davin and Grey, “I probably shouldn’t have done that.”
Grey chuckled, “Maybe not but I’m betting it was fun.”
“Oh yes,” Arianna grinned.

Night had fallen and the team had drifted to the rooms upstairs to get some sleep leaving Arianna and Grey sitting alone.
“I’m still a little overwhelmed that you’re here,” she breathed as she sipped her tea, “I’ve spent so many years thinking I had no father who cared about me and I lost my mother. Now here you are.”
Grey smiled at her, “I never spent a day without thinking about you. Your mother and I thought we did what was right for you but I wonder sometimes about it.”
“Can you tell me about her?” Arianna asked softly.
Grey smiled, “You did know her for a good while.”
Arianna chuckled, “I know but you knew her differently.”
Grey let out a long sigh as he thought back, “The one thing that always sticks in my mind was how much she loved to laugh.”
“She didn’t laugh much,” Arianna sighed, “I guess she left that behind when you had to leave. I always remember her sadness.”
“I only wanted her to be happy,” Grey told her, “If I had known how much I hurt her when I left I might have done it differently but the choice was to protect her and you was the easiest choice I had to make.”
Arianna sipped her tea again, “I understand. I do but you might need to give me a little time to get my head around everything. Can I fly?”
At her sudden change of direction Grey looked a little stunned before he shrugged, “You have to realise that you are the only half-dragon that I know of.”
“A misfit as always,” Arianna whispered.
Grey shook his head, “Completely unique.”
She smiled at him, “I think we’re going to get along quite well.”
“I hope so,” Grey told her before changing the subject; “Tomorrow we have to close that rift. You will be able to do that.”
Arianna took in a deep breath, “I’m hoping so. Da...” she stopped herself finishing the word looking up at him for confirmation that she could call him that. When Grey nodded Arianna smiled, “Dad?”
Grey grinned, “Yes, Arianna?”
“I need you to protect the others,” she told him, “Logan and Laurie have absolutely no magical powers, they have no way to protect themselves if someone attacks and the other two will need to concentrate on other things.”
“You care a great deal about Logan,” Grey said, “Don’t you?”
Arianna nodded, “Yes.”
“Let me give you one piece of advice,” Grey said, “Never ever let anyone tell you that you can’t love who you want to. I did and I’ve spent so many years alone.”

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