5 February 5114
Before anyone could react, Franklin was out the door, Phillip hot on his heels. Her parents followed, and Anwyn could practically feel the joy rolling off them. She was just behind with Arthur and Merlin, and her son linked his arm through her good one. “Guess this means Cousin Franklin is finally getting his dragon form,” Arthur quipped, his voice warm with happiness.
“It’s about time,” Anwyn concurred. “But this means I’m not going to be able to call Uncle Phillip “Uncle Phillip” anymore, since he’s now Franklin’s mate.” That would take some getting used to.
The sun was just going down behind the mountains as they made their way outside and down toward the lake. Franklin had managed to get most of the way to the placid water before the change had overwhelmed him; crouched on the grass was a handsome purple dragon, blue-green eyes wide with surprise. He raised one leg, examining the purple scales and then the sharp claws; then he unfurled his wings and, with a shout full of joyful laughter, Franklin launched himself upward, catching the wind currents over the lake.
“It just had to be purple,” Phillip sighed, but there was a smile in his words that gave away the teasing.
Jack and Ianto both changed into their dragon forms and jumped into the sky, following their eldest son as Franklin took to the air for the very first time. Anwyn whooped, triggering her own change, and she could feel the magic of Arthur’s transformation at her back as she joined her family as they swooped over the valley that was their ancestral home.
Franklin was a bit wobbly at first, but with coaching he picked up flying very quickly. The five flyers were soon joined by little William, James, and Oswyn, as well as Emlyn and Sabrina, the two other siblings currently in Ddraig Llyn; they’d been looking after the young ones, not wanting them to be worried about their Dad being ill. Several times Anwyn caught a glimpse of the shore; Phillip was there, one hand protecting his eyes from the low-lying sun, but there was such a look of joy on his face that Anwyn couldn’t help but be happy as well. Most of Ddraig Llyn had gathered, watching; it wasn’t often that so many of the family were out flying, let alone with a new dragon amongst them.
By the time everyone had landed, the crowd had thinned out and the sun had gone down. Only Phillip, Merlin, Robyn, Lisa, and Alyce were left of the family. Twin orbs of magical light hovered over both Merlin’s and Phillip’s heads, illuminating the landing area; Merlin’s a golden colour, while Phillip’s a fiery blue. Anwyn was a bit surprised to see it, since her uncle didn’t care to be reminded that he’d also gained magic as a result of his death, but perhaps things had changed enough now for him to embrace more of that power that had been an inadvertent gift from a mad Norse God who’d only meant him harm.
Lisa had managed to clamber up and drape herself over Phillip’s shoulders, looking quietly pleased with herself; her uncle was out of those horrid blue clothes and had regained a bit of his normal decorum by putting on his usual black ensemble, giving the young dragon more to grasp onto as she clung to him. Merlin was holding Robyn close to his waist, the gold of her scales glittering against his red shirt. Alyce was standing between the two men, looking amazed as the dragons all landed around them. “I can’t wait to be able to do that,” the little girl whispered in awe.
“I can’t wait until I’m not afraid anymore,” Robyn added sadly.
Merlin rested his free hand on Alyce’s head and hugged Robyn closer. “Someday,” he promised them both.
Anwyn triggered her change, grinning at her son’s mate’s care with her youngest sisters. Merlin was going to be a wonderful father, of that she had no doubt.
The rest of the family also changed, including Franklin. His face was flushed with excitement and he was practically vibrating with happiness. The golden glow hadn’t even settled yet before he was pulling Phillip – and Lisa, who had no choice but to be reeled in as well – toward him and was kissing him within an inch of his life.
Sabrina was grinning. “It’s about time Franklin found a mate,” she commented, leaning against her older sister, Emlyn.
“Who won the pool?” Emlyn asked.
Anwyn laughed. “I’m not sure, but I think it was Gareth.”
“Wait,” Ianto inserted himself into the conversation, “you’ve all been betting on your brother’s love life?”
“And you didn’t give your dads odds?” Jack pouted.
Anwyn rolled her eyes playfully. “C’mon, you both would have given us a lecture on the evils of wagering on family members and their chances of getting a mate and then confiscated the money.” She was teasing, of course. She knew exactly what they both would have done: joined the pool and then done something to arrange it to fall in one of their favours.
“I’m disappointed in you, Anwyn,” Ianto sighed, shaking his head.
“What did we do wrong when we raised her?” Jack moaned, putting a hand to his heart in mock despair.
“I happen to think she turned out just right,” came Phillip’s voice from just behind Anwyn. He joined them, Franklin’s arm around his waist, Lisa now draped across them both. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen her brother this happy.
But then, she didn’t see Franklin all that often. Perhaps now that the truth was out, that would change.
“Well, that was a surprise,” she said, smiling.
“Yeah, for me too,” her brother admitted. “I’d hoped…but well…”
“Congratulations, the pair of you,” Jack said warmly. “It’s good that you can officially call yourself a member of the family now, Phillip.”
“Thank you,” Phillip replied, his own smile smaller but no less warm. “And that brings me to the question Anwyn came to ask me, about taking over Torchwood.”
“And what have you decided?” Arthur asked, stepping into the circle of the conversation.
“I’ll admit,” Phillip said, “but when Anwyn came to ask me, I was going to say no. I’ve been feeling cut off from everyone for a long time now, and wasn’t certain if I could ever re-join the family again. But now…” He looked over at Franklin, his expression more than just fond, “I’ve realised that it’s time for Phillip Coulson to come back…to come home.”
Ianto was grinning. “Phillip, this has always been your home. I’m just sorry we didn’t make that clear to you.”
“I need to finish the investigation into Bayl’s infiltrating the Throneworld, because he had to have had inside help to get past the teleportation shielding,” the Grand Master went on, “but once that’s done…I’ll turn over the Shieldsmen to Steve. He’s been in my shadow long enough. And then I’ll be more than willing to take over the Institute. Besides,” he smirked, “it’s been a long time since I’ve gone by the title Director. I think that’s the title that suits me best…don’t you?”
“We do,” Jack agreed.
“And it’s about time I settle down,” Franklin added. “I know Nicole and Nathan will be happy to know they have a steady home to come to.”
“I can’t wait to officially meet the twins,” Phillip said warmly. “Are they going to be alright with me suddenly being a part of their lives?”
“Are you kidding?” Anwyn interrupted. “They’ve both been trying to match-make Franklin for ages from what I understand.”
“Just let me and Merlin know when you’re ready to take over,” Arthur said. “We’ll want to introduce you to Guinevere, who we’re recommending as your Second. She’s been a tremendous help, even if she’s not available for about sixteen years every so often, until her latest reincarnation gets old enough to be hired back.”
“There are also codes and such that you’ll need to know,” Merlin added, his grin so large it looked as if it was threatening to split his cheeks. “We can get you prepared before Arthur gets too far along, since you’ve had this sort of experience for how long now?”
Anwyn noticed that the shadows that she’d always seen in her uncle were gone. His eyes were bright, and if she looked just right she could see the blue flames of his personal magic flickering deep within them. This was good; this was what he’d been missing all of those years that she’d known and loved him. It seemed as if the part of him that was missing was now returned, and she believed that the bruises and her injured shoulder had been well worth the price of him finding the other half of himself that he apparently hadn’t known was gone until he’d been tossed back into the past.
Anwyn couldn’t help but feel incredibly smug about her part in all this, even if it had been completely accidental. All she’d wanted was a reason to convince her uncle to leave the Throneworld and be closer to home, to finally get him to admit that he needed his family as much as they needed him. He’d been alone for so long…and Anwyn had needed to get him back. She’d missed him; the man who’d taken care of her for practically the first ten years of her life, and who, at times, had been closer to her than her own parents.
She didn’t at all regret her early life of absent fathers and nannies who didn’t quite understand the needs of a half-dragon, half-immortal child who was far too intelligent and spirited for most people to understand. Uncle Phil had understood her in a way her parents only had once she was old enough to fend for herself.
Some would have called it ironic that Anwyn would have joined the same organisation that her taken her fathers and her childhood, but Torchwood was in the blood of all the Harkness-Joneses, as evidenced by her own son. Of all of her brothers and sisters, only Franklin, Rowena, and Cadi hadn’t gone the Torchwood route, but with Phillip being the new Director of the Institute she could see that this might change with at least Franklin. And there was no telling who of the little dragons or Alyce might join when they were old enough to make their own decisions. As for Nathan and Nicole…now that Franklin would be settling down, the twins might very well wish to become Torchwood as well.
Well, that would be in the future. This was the present, and it wasn’t a time for introspection. And she would never begrudge the decisions of her family; after all, she was as much Torchwood as any of them.
As they were heading back into the house, the unmistakable sound of time and space tearing itself apart echoed across the lake.
“He really needs to take the parking brake off,” Merlin sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
It caused a round of laughter through the family. “Merlin,” Jack chuckled, “your Dad is late…again.”
“It’s a good thing our people weren’t called the On-Time Lords,” the sorcerer groaned.
“You’d better go and fetch him,” Ianto suggested. “You and Arthur can share your news with him while I put the coffee on.”
“Right.” The pair of them peeled off from the group, heading toward the village green, where the Doctor was most likely to park his TARDIS.
Anwyn and the rest of the family made their way back to the family home, into the light and out of the night, to enjoy being with those they loved.
And if she thought about planning some sort of party for Franklin and Phillip, well…only she’d know, right? At least until she asked her Dad and Tad for help with the arrangements.
Okay, maybe she’d just ask her Tad. After all, Dad might have been excellent as Director or Torchwood, but he couldn’t plan a party if his immortality depended on it.