**Okay, y’all. This is it. The real final episode for Gareth and Owen. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Who do you think we should see next? Aeron’s story, or Lane’s? In the meantime, here’s the conclusion. Enjoy!**
Aeron was in the hospital for two weeks. The first three days of that, he was still unconscious. His magic and life had been drained nearly completely, and it took a lot of medical and magical support to get him back to stable. Remy came around faster, but he was in rough shape too. Fortunately, the hospital had a wing geared toward magic users, so there was a veterinarian on staff as well.
I couldn’t bring myself to leave Aeron’s side. Owen, the ever faithful mate and familiar, stayed right there with me. Because of our familial connection, I was granted permission to not only remain at Aeron’s side, but to boost him with magic as well. I was glad to be doing somethingsince he looked one breath away from death.
But he came around, and even though he slept more than not for the next two days, he was on the mend. After that, it took another week before he was able to be released. Aeron wasn’t talking much, and we spent a lot of time sitting in silence. Every once in a while, he’d reach out and hold onto my hand without saying a word. I let him hang on as long as he needed.
I knew he was feeling better when he started arguing with me.
“I just want to go home, G. To my own bed, with my own stuff.”
I tried not to let my frustration show, but I knew it leaked into my voice. “You still need care and if you stay with Owen and me, we can make sure you’re getting everything you need.”
Aeron smirked. “You just wanna keep me safe.”
“Can you blame me?” I huffed.
“Nope.” He smiled, then reached out. I latched onto his hand. “It was scary AF. But she’s behind bars, she can’t get out, and I’m not worried about retaliation. Agent Willis said she’s under magical lock down.”
I sighed, because he wasn’t wrong. Lane had let us know as much as he could, and he’d been there to take Aeron’s statement once my brother had been up to talking. But we hadn’t seen much of the Special Agent since, which to be honest, worried me a little. Lane had intimated he was in trouble for his actions, and that thought didn’t sit well with me.
“We’ll reset the wards when you take me home. Make them even stronger. And if the pack is still willing to give me bodyguards, I’m not going to say no.”
Owen was quick to chime in. “Of course. I’ve already got packmembers asking about when you’ll be well enough to go home, and ready to set up a rotation.”
Aeron cleared his throat and I didn’t imagine the blush. “Uh, how’s Marco?”
Owen smiled softly. “He’s fine. Pissed off she got the drop on him but recovered well. It was just a sleeping spell.”
“Good.” He blew out a breath. “I should have asked earlier. I’m sorry.”
I didn’t tell him he had already asked that. It had been one of the first coherent questions out of his mouth. But that was for another time. When he was fully healed and I could find out what that blush had been all about. “Don’t worry about it. Are you sure we can’t convince you to stay with us?”
Aeron nodded and squeezed my hand. “Really. I’ll do better in my own space. I promise to check in often, okay?” He tapped his temple to let me know what he meant. “And I won’t be alone.”
I sighed again, making it gusty so Aeron would smile. I was rewarded for my efforts. He let go of me when the nurse appeared with the wheelchair to take him out. I followed along behind and kept the rest of my protests to myself.
I flopped onto the couch once we got home. Owen joined me a second later and I immediately snuggled into his arms. I let out a breath and pushed even closer. Owen didn’t say a word, just held me tightly. The deep compression went along way to relaxing me, easing the tension.
“He’s gonna be okay, love.”
I nodded. I knew Aeron would recover. We’d laid down a new threshold ward, and his magic had been fairly strong. Not where it usually was, but getting there. I’d pulled hard on my bond with Owen, and he handled it like a champ. But I’d wanted the strongest possible magic keeping my brother safe.
“He even promised he’d see the counselor to help,” Owen added. He adjusted our positions so I was half in his lap and I gave me him my weight. Owen hummed happily and kissed my head. He loved it when we were tangled up like this, being the tactile wolf shifter that he was. Before Owen, I would have said that I could take or leave cuddling. But now I knew just how amazing it was.
I saw a lot of things clearer now that I had Owen.
Tears threatened, but I choked them back and kissed under his jaw. “Thank you.”
Owen hummed again, rubbing my back. “You’re welcome. For what?”
“Everything. All of it. I couldn’t have done any of this without you.” I swallowed hard. “I’m so lucky you came to me when I called.”
“I love you too.” Owen kissed me, long and slow and deep, and I felt every ounce of his love and affection in that kiss. When he finally pulled back, it was just far enough so he could speak. “You could have handled it on your own, but I’m glad you didn’t have to. I’m grateful I was here to help and protect. And now you’re out of that situation, you know? You don’t have to worry about the people who brought you into this world. Or a judgmental Council. And you can just love me.”
The last was said with a eyebrow waggle, and I chuckled and kissed him, fast and hard. “I do love you.”
“I know.” He settled me back against him, then pulled the afghan from the back of the couch and tucked it around me.
The quiet descended around us, until it was nothing but our heartbeats and our soft breaths. I never imagined my life would turn out this way, but I didn’t regret it for a second. I was so glad I had Owen, as a mate and familiar, and glad that the worst was behind us now. I was content to just snuggle with Owen for the rest of my life.
I was pretty sure he felt the same.