Maple breathed in the fresh air. It was one of the few things that helped her nausea. That, and Elven Grain. She smiled, liking the name the elves used better: Minerae Veren. It meant essentially the same thing, but she liked way the Elven words sounded.
Tanner, the last true Corellion Ranger, appeared up ahead. "Do you think he was seen?" she asked Doriel in Elven. He put his arm around her still thin waist.
"I doubt it," he said "Genesee's men aren't trained as well as Genesee himself. How are you feeling?"
"A little tired," she admitted. "Too tired to go home." She smiled at Doriel, seeing the frown she expected, appear in a far more subdued form than when she had been arguing with him earlier about joining him on this diplomatic visit. "Besides, all this exercise is good for the baby."
Tanner approached. "They're ready for us. Are you sure you and your Guard will be able to slip into the castle unnoticed?" he asked Doriel.
"Are you planning a diversion?"
"I'm considering it. Unless you think the elves would be willing to accept a treaty that only had Corellion's signature on it."
Maple sighed. She hated politics. Cullen Genesee didn't feel that his subjects would accept a treaty signed by any elf and the elves wouldn't accept anything but the sanction of Galatdros and the blessing that implied from Ellehandros. Even if she had wanted to stay home, the name Corellion still had some meaning among the humans of the Northlands, and she was Doriel's Other among the elves. If she had been elven and Corellion it would have been the best of both worlds and Doriel could have stayed home.
She knew it was a silly thought. Being Corellion was just enough to counteract the idea that the elves had some magical hold on her. The idea that, even with the clout that came with her name, the elves would be lucky if this treaty lasted five years at most was something she tried not to think about. Just the fact that Cullen was willing to talk at all was a good sign.
Doriel didn't answer Tanner. He pulled Maple close and said, "I'll join you tonight inside the castle if I can."
"Don't take any foolish risks," Maple said. "I want our child to know his father."
Doriel grinned and kissed her. Trying to keep her mind off her queasy stomach, Maple followed Tanner to the road that would lead to the castle.
"I hate leaving him like this," she said, speaking in Human to Tanner.
"He'll make it through. Cullen only has a few dozen guards surrounding the castle and Doriel has a number of Elven Guard ready to help him sneak through the defenses. He'll be fine. The treaty will be signed, and everything that was said almost a year ago at the winter festival will be recognized by King Cullen, head of the Court of Genesee."
"At least, Cherith will be there." Maple was surprised that any sort of friendship had developed between the two of them. It had been a necessity of sorts since Doriel quickly realized who Cullen relied on the most when he needed information about elven culture. Cherith didn't talk to the other elves nearly as much as she did with Maple during Cullen's visit to the elves half a year ago.
Maple smiled as the wind blew against her face. It won't stay like this, she reminded herself, remembering Doriel's words to the elves.
"As Ellehandros demands the life of Galatdros, so he will demand that the elves themselves become reborn."
It wouldn't last, but perhaps she would enjoy peace in her life. Maybe things wouldn't go wrong until her child became Galatdros, or her grandchild. Or maybe it would be sooner. She couldn't help remembering that there had been a few, even in the council, who had voted against Doriel Binding himself to her.
They had been quiet but who knew how long that would last.
The song rose up around her and Maple let her worries drift away into its harmonies. Perhaps this external peace wouldn't last, but she knew the peace she had begun to find inside herself would.
And even if I die, I'll still be with Doriel. The thought made her smile.
A/N: Well, folks... this is the end. I'd like to thank everyone who's read it, especially those who reviewed, and I hope you enjoyed the ride.
No, this isn't a truly complete story: I really tried to change the ending so it would be complete but each time I did, it didn't feel true to the world I'd created, though Maple and Doriel's "arc" has pretty much ended for me. I'll be focusing on their children in the sequel. A sequel, by the way, I intend on writing after I finish some other projects I've been putting on hold.
Once again, thank you to everyone who's read this far and I promise my next story (which won't be written until my life calms down quite a bit) will be much better with better editing.