Amy rocked the cradle gently, pushing down on one side with her hand. The smooth gears and perfectly balanced rockers soothed the child within. She didn't need to touch the cradle often, but she couldn't resist looking at her baby. The fae engineer who created the cradle proudly explained that one touch caused the gears hidden inside to mimic the soft waves of a peaceful sea for an hour or more. If she wanted the real ocean to rock her child, the crib was also completely water proof and sea worthy. The dark teak wood showed in places, but much of it's surface was covered with shell inlay scenes of a coral reef. Exotic shells of all colors showed crabs on the sandy sea floor, clown fish hiding in coral, and mermaids playing with dolphins. The protective, all seeing eye of Dagon gazed lovingly down on the blanket where Amy's daughter slept.
She looked human for now. Amy had worried for weeks that Nemue might be born with some disfiguring sign of her partial fae blood. In the old tales, all half fairy children bore a mark that only magic could hide, such as Geoffrie the Longtooth's large fang, or his tragically doomed brother Rene's paw shaped birth-mark on his cheek. Luc told her that enchanting little Nemue would be born without any mark or curse because every moment from conception to birth took place beyond the barriers that separated human lands from fae. What worried Luc most was her half human status. Although she was born in the bathing pond favored by the Queen of the light pixies, the Undine side of her was sleeping. It would not be visible until she touched ocean water for the first time. There, magic would transform his little miracle. Her round ears would point, and her fat little legs would become a flashing, scaled tail. She would instinctively become one with the ocean, a fully immortal fae child.
He fidgeted with her red-gold curls, twitching them over her ears to hide their roundness. He loved every bit of his only child, but he was impatient to see the rest of her, trying to picture how she might look after their return to the Undine palace. The year of service Lucinda demanded for saving Amy's life was over in six days. Not soon enough, Luc thought. It wasn't safe for his daughter to be away from Undine lands much longer. Only Luc's mother, father, and twin sister new exactly where the new couple was taking their 'extended honeymoon'. The dark court had spies everywhere. If Geoffrie's supporters discovered what Luc and Lucinda did to his crazy Uncle, there was no telling what they might do. Loyalty among the dark fae was rare, but one or two of them might try to avenge him. They would target the weakest and newest members of the light court, his wife and daughter. Amy and Nemue were dangerously exposed; only utter secrecy kept their location safe.
To be fair, Luc enjoyed the company of the pixies more than he thought he would. As soon as the Queen of the pixies heard of Amy's pregnancy, the easy job of being her magical battery became beyond simple. She insisted that Amy only do things for the baby, such as making crocheted booties and blankets. Combined with the formation of new life, such casual creativity leaked Amy's extra magic into the air around her. As Lucinda hoped, her entire realm was refreshed just by their short visit.
The colorful pixies in the Queen's flock were utterly in love with Nemue. They pestered the birds for months, gathering only the softest down feathers to stuff the cushion in her cradle. Even as she slept, two of them slept next to her. Their shining dragonfly wings lay relaxed on the embroidered baby blanket that was a gift from Luc's Grandmother, Melusine. Surrounded by the perfection of his new wife and child, he simply had to forgive Melusine and allow her to have her part in raising the little minnow. He also forgave Diamanta for dosing Amy with the potion of immortality without warning him first. She had risked her own happiness to trick their father into making the potion that caused humans to age at the rate of fairies. He could hardly wait to see his twin sister again, but Lucinda would not let her stop by. One young human at a time was her absolute limit, and Diamanta refused to visit without Sean.
Three pixies kept watch, perched on the edge of the rocking cradle. They stared at the baby with adoration, dropping in fresh flower petals from the garden to perfume her bed. Two doves on the headboard cooed and laughed for the utterly silent pixies. This type of fairy had no voice, not even for laughter or sighs, so the enchanted birds allowed them to speak.
Amy was so used to this strange way of communication it was second nature, like watching a movie with subtitles. Half way through, she always felt like the actors were speaking the words printed at the bottom of the screen. She stroked the fingers on Luc's hand where it rested on the cradle.
"What are you thinking about?" She rested her head against his shoulder.
"Mmm. You, me, the baby. How I can't wait to get you alone in our own little palace and touch you without an audience." He mock glared at the wide eyed pixies on the window ledge.
"You can't fool me. I know it's the miles of open water you miss. You're just itching to get to the stables and pick out a steed for Nemue." Amy laughed and shook her head. "What do you even need elf steeds for? Most of you can out swim anything in the ocean without catching a ride on a porpoise."
"Whether we need them isn't the point. Most humans don't need dogs, but you have them." He shrugged and pulled her closer. Elf steeds weren't about speed, or transportation, unless one was used on land. They were companions, protectors, and status symbols of the royalty. The enchanted, shape changing water horses were all a part of the package for any member of the King's family, and Nemue was getting one of the best.
Luc held his wife in his arms and pushed all the worries to the back of his mind. Chances are, nothing at all lurked to attack them at the edge of Undine lands. Well, nothing but an overly annoying grandmother and about a thousand cousins.