The End of Innocence Part 14

The Baron walked into the courtyard to see Sally standing beside five horses, all saddled and ready to go.

"What is going on here?" He demanded.

Sally turned and bowed deeply. "I'm sure that milord, Viscount, will explain." She said sweetly.

"I asked you."

"She cannot answer what she doesn't know." Trowa said smoothly, walking up behind the pair, followed by Heero and Duo.

"Milord." Trowa bowed to the Baron. "It seems that young Winner has escaped. We are going to retrieve him."

"I'll call my men and have them help you." Treize said.

"That's not necessary. A small group will work better. We want to be able to find him, if he hears a whole army coming after him... then he can hide."

"Fine, I'll let you attempt to handle it then." Treize replied.

"Thank-you, Milord." Trowa mounted his horse and joined the already mounted group.

"Oh, and Barton."

"Yea, Milord?" The brunette turned back to the Baron.

"Remember what I told you when you came here... I expected you to keep control of the traitor's son. Better for him if he has frozen to death... rather than face the punishment that he'll receive, when you bring him back." The ginger-haired man pointed out. "Either way, he'll be dead, I'm sure."

Trowa's face showed no flicker of emotion as he nodded once and spun his mount around, clattering from the courtyard.


"Dammit all!" Wufei swore. "There's not a sign of him anywhere. The wind has blown in any tracks he may have made!"

Duo pulled his cloak tighter around him and looked around the snowy forest, shivering. "It's so cold. How long can he last in this weather?"

Heero lay a hand on his arm, in comfort as Trowa set his mouth in a firm line. "He's strong, he'll be fine!" The Viscount refused to think anything else. He has to be alright! I can't lose him... not now!

Wufei and Sally glanced at each other. Both knew that in this brutal cold, without any warm clothes... there was a good chance that they'd not find him in time. Finally the woman spoke up, "Why don't we search in different directions? We can cover more ground faster that way."

Trowa nodded. "I want you to go in pairs, though. We'll meet at the Winner's old hunting cottage at nightfall."

"What about you?" Duo asked, concern shining in his violet eyes.

"I'll be fine on my own."

The group split up with Wufei and Sally riding to the East.

Heero reigned his horse in beside Trowa. "What do you intend to do when he's found? Surely you can't be planning on turning him over to the Baron. You know what he'll do to him."

"I'll figure that out after I find him."

Heero frowned. "Just remember, he learned a lot from his uncle."

"I know, my friend, your father taught him all of his nasty traits." Trowa smiled slightly before turning and riding towards the North.

"Your father?" Duo asked, having overheard the conversation, as they turned their horses South.

Heero scowled. "Yea, my father and the Baron's mother were brother and sister. After turning me out, my parent took in Treize and finished raising him as his heir."

"That means your father was the old Baron."

Heero nodded. "Thus far I've managed to escape my cousin's attention. I've changed a fair amount and I've changed my name. Heero Yuy is just an assumed name."

"It's who you are now, though." Duo's eyes widened as he remembered what Heero had told him about his father. "Oh... gods... Heero... he'll kill Quatre."

"Hn." Was all that Heero said as the pair rode through the woods. He had become lost deeply in his own thoughts.

He also knew that the Baron was also likely to punish Duo for his cousin's actions. Especially if they didn't return with the young blonde. He'd kill the Baron with his bare hands before he let that happen. No one would ever harm the violet-eyed Scot again, not as long as he had a breath in his body.


Trowa reigned in his mount and jumped down, his eyes scanning the thinning span of trees. He'd been searching the area for hours and not seen a sign of the missing blonde and his horse desperately needed a rest. I only hope the others are having better luck than I am. He thought glumly. Quatre, where have you gone? Why can't we find you?

He put his hands together and scooped up some of the snow, using the heat from his body and his breath to melt the frozen crystals. After drinking some of the frigid water, he melted more, offering it up to his exhausted horse. I'm so afraid that we won't find you, he thought as a dull ache started in his heart.

Mounting the horse, he raised his face to the sky. "Please, if there is someone up there watching over us... protect him. He's done nothing to deserve this. And let me find him." I need him with me... I... I don't think I can continue to go on without him.

As the Viscount broke from the trees into a wide clearing, he saw a mound in front of him, surrounded by a ring of tall stones. His emerald eyes widened slightly, he'd heard of these before but, this was the first time he'd laid eyes on one. A faery ring.

Rumor had it, that if you carried the blood of the Sidhè in your veins, then another world existed inside the rings for you. Where time flowed differently and strange things could happen.

Trowa didn't put much faith in such rumors, as far as he knew these areas were places of worship, left over from ancient times. But, still, finding such a thing, lent kind of an unusual aura to the clearing. Almost as if this area were meant to be sacred.

He guided his mount past the ring, glancing sideways only briefly. Then, as his mind processed what it had seen, he jerked on the reigns and leapt from the beast.

In the ring's center, almost completely covered with drifting snow, was a small figure. "Quatre!" He called desperately, struggling to wade through the snow.

Entering the ring, his breath came in gasps and he fell to his knees beside the still form, frantically brushing away the snow. "Quatre!" Oh, gods, he's so pale. Please... Gods... please be alright.

He lifted the still form in his arms, holding him closely, silently begging for the blonde to respond to him. Clasping Quatre to his chest, he looked down, taking in his appearance.

The boy was devoid of all color except for the dark circles under his eyes. His lips had taken on a blue hue from the cold, his skin was icy cold to the touch and... Gods... he's not breathing! Trowa realized in horror.

He sat back and shook the boy. "Quatre! Damn you! Answer me! You can't die! Not here... not like this!" His voice started to crack with his grief.

Getting no response, he sat fully in the freezing snow and held the still blonde, rocking back and forth. "Please... don't go... I need you here. I-I don't think I can go on without you... don't you know that? What am I supposed to do if you leave me here alone?"

For the first time since Trowa was a very young child, tears flowed freely down his cheeks. He buried his face in Quatre's hair, sobbing. "You gave me something I never thought I'd ever have. A sense of belonging... being wanted for something else besides my sword. You made me feel things I thought I'd buried along with my past."

The slim brunette took a shuddering breath and shifted so that Quatre was lying in his lap. "Who'd have thought, that trying to keep a promise would lead to this? I told you once that I knew you father... I knew him well. I met him at the Baron's court while I was still trying to make a place for myself. He taught me so much about his belief in a peaceful way... he made me believe in his ideals. And when the court would have thrown me out for being a nameless bastard, he stood up for me, before all of them."

He ran his thumb across Quatre's lower lip, his tears falling on the boy's pale face. "He told me..." He closed his eyes. "He told me, on the last night that I saw him, that he figured that it wouldn't be long before the Baron called for him to send men into battle. And that he intended to refuse. He figured that it would result in his death. He wasn't afraid for that to happen, it was important to him that he stood up for what he believed in. What worried him the most, was what would become of his young son. I vowed to him that night, that if that ever happened, I would see that you were safe."

"From that moment forward I dedicated my life to rising high in the Baron's ranks, to put myself in the position that I could keep that vow. On the day Lord Winner died, I demanded the ownership of the estate, calling in a favor that was owed to me. Who knew that I'd find everything that I'd never hoped to have there... and with you?"

Trowa leaned over and pressed his lips to Quatre's icy ones. "I love you... do you know that? I love you more than life itself. Somehow, you became everything to me... nothing was important but you. Not my reputation... the lands... nothing! Only I was too stupid to realize it, and once I did... too stubborn to admit it."

Drawing another breath, he pulled the blonde back up to him. "Quatre! Dammit! I love you..." He sobbed. "I love you... I love you... I love you..."

He sat there in the snow and rocked with the boy's still form, not even noticing the cold seeping into him, his shattered heart numbing his body to everything. He had no idea how much time passed when he heard a soft rustling above him and a gentle warm breeze caressed his cheek. Looking up, he gasped.

The snow around him hand faded and the air warmed, behind him a tall tree stood, bearing snowy white blossoms. "What...?"

Once again a warm breeze flowed around him, shaking the slender limbs of the tree causing a fall of white petals all around him.

"Once, long ago, I denied the true love that resided in my heart, only realizing it when it was too late. As punishment, I was turned into this Rowan..." A soft voice sighed around him. "Cursed to only bloom in the presence of true emotion. To relive the anguish of my own past..."

More petals floated around him.

"You also have realized too late, what you had... but you can have another chance. My blossoms are my tears... my tears can heal the gravest of wounds. Mingled with the tears of your own love... they can even restore life. Take your chance and don't waste it."

Trowa blinked rapidly... he wasn't sure he understood what was going on around him. Maybe I've died along with him... but... no... the pain is too real. Picking up a handful of the silken petals and leaning over Quatre, his tears fell on the smooth skin as he brushed the flowers along his cheek. Please... please... please... he chanted silently.

Getting no response, he cursed and leaned forward, slanting his head and tenderly kissing Quatre's still lips, not noticing the warmth creeping back into the slim form, as he drew Quatre up against him. Slipping his hands around the blonde's waist, he felt a slight tremor.

He drew back, his eyes wide. This can't be real. But it was... with a tremble, Quatre's sapphire eyes slid open. "T-Trowa?" He whispered.

"Yea." He murmured, afraid to believe what he was seeing.

Quatre reached up and smoothed his fingers through Trowa's bangs. "I had the strangest dream..." Then he looked around him. "It... not a dream? I'm really here?"

"Yea." Trowa choked, his tears starting anew.

"Don't..." The blonde said softly. "Not for me."

"Quatre." The brunette's voice came out with a strangled sound. "Gods... Quatre!" He clasped the slender blonde tightly. "I'd lost you! I've never felt..."

He moved back and grasped Quatre's face in his hands, kissing him over and over. "Gods... Quatre... I love you! I love you so much! Please... don't leave me like that again! I couldn't bear it! Stay with me... I want you with me for the rest of my days."

The blonde laughed and flung his arms around Trowa's neck. "Never again! I'll always be by your side... I vow it!"


Trowa seeing the Rowan had been a plan of mine for a while now... there are several legends floating around about the Rowan Oak... I used one that I had read a while ago.


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