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Treasure

Chapter Text

Edward Anthony Smoak paced outside the bedroom where his wife was giving birth to what he hoped would be his first son. They already had a two year old daughter, Felicity Meghan Smoak, who was the apple of his eye but he required a male heir to ensure his family's legacy.

Edward had been born during a terrible winter storm that prevented a mid-wife from attending to his mother. His birth had been difficult and his mother did not survive. He was the last of eight children, five of them boys and his father decided not to take another wife but to have a revolving door of mistresses.

His governess and older sisters essentially raised him. He had adored his sisters and had grown very close to them. During his eldest sister's first season a wealthy merchant offered for her hand and his father saw it as a great business opportunity and agreed to it. His sister was not happy with the way the merchant was treating her but she would not disobey their farther. He watched her unhappiness grow, and her light dim. She eventually became frail and sick succumbing to a passing illness that swept through greater London. She had left behind three children and Edward made sure to keep in touch with them.

By the time his second sister's season began his father had passed and his eldest brother was in charge. His other three brothers had joined the military just as he was expected to do when he came of age. His second sister was soon married to a General and moved away to British territories in Africa. During a tribal war, her husband as well as two of their brothers were killed in an ambush and his sister was forced to return with her children.

Soon after his second sister's return his eldest brother fell sick and passed away. His one remaining brother took over while he joined the military. His last sister was almost exactly one year older than him. She was not as pretty as their older two sisters and it took her longer to find a husband. When she finally did find someone it wasn't the quality of person that their father or elder brother would have approved of but his sister was happy. His brother married her off quickly for he was too busy trying to understand how to run the estate. He had never been groomed for that. Their father had groomed their eldest brother and the second eldest to an extent as well. The rest of his sons he pushed into military service. In the end, after the failure of five of his father's businesses, his committed suicide. Thus everything fell to a young Edward Smoak.

With the death of his last brother, he had been released from military service and was faced with a mountain of debt to pay. Edward had not been expecting to marry when he did for no lady would want a man with his prospects. He had a title and business but they were all on the verge of bankruptcy and everyone in the ton knew that. He had met Donna at one of the ton's many balls. He had gone to conduct business to pitch a few ideas he had to a few potential investors. He thought her the most beautiful woman he had ever met. She was happy and vibrant and many men courted her. He was polite to her but knowing he had no chance with her, he did not waste her time.

By some strange twist of faith, it was Donna's father, Earl Allen, who agreed to help him. All other investors shun him. Donna's father took him under his wing and taught him everything he knew. With a few loans, all of which he would eventually repay with interest, his estate started flourishing again. One of the bonuses of working with the Earl was that he got to know Donna quite well. He would often escort her in the garden and listen to her as she talked about her day and her potential suitors. Men in far better positions than him had asked for her hand but the Earl had refused them. Donna didn't mind in the least bit. She had confided in him that her father refused them because she didn't like them.

A year after he had first met with the Earl, he was summoned to his study. He remembered the conversation well. The Earl had asked why he hadn't offered for his daughter when every other eligible bachelor in a 100 mile radius had. He had told him that he didn't feel that he could provide for Donna's needs. He had listed at length everything that Donna required that he could not give her. The Earl had smiled at him and said that was precisely why he wanted him to marry Donna, because he respected and understood his daughter and wanted to prioritise her happiness. That was far more important to the Earl than any business marriage. Even with the Earl's blessing it had taken him a further three months before he made a decision to ask for her hand. Two weeks later they were married as Donna had said she had waited long enough for him to ask, she did not want to wait any longer to become Lady Smoak.

His wife's screams of pain had died down but he had not heard the telltale wail of a baby. He remembered his daughter's birth well. He had been nervous then too, pacing outside cringing at the sound of his wife in pain. Eventually her screams stopped and the loud wail of a baby was heard. At first he had been disappointed that the baby was a girl but she soon disabused him of the notion that girl children were a disappointment.

He noticed that his daughter had quickly surpassed all the children her age including the boys. Her intelligence was equal to that of a child three years older and she learned at an astounding rate. His father and the Earl were both intelligent men and he assumed she inherited her gift for learning from both men. Every day he rejoiced over teaching her something new. She always listened to him and always figured out what he challenged her with. He had started plotting out lesson plans for her and was very careful not to try to push her too hard because it frustrated her when she couldn't figure out something.

The door to the bedroom opened and the Doctor emerged from the silent room.

"We are sorry Lord Smoak but there was nothing that we could do," He said solemnly.

"The child was stillborn he asked?" Edward asked sadly.

The Doctor gave him a hesitant look before answering, "yes,"

"Was it a boy?" he asked.

"Yes,"

Edward felt a heavy weight settle on him. "Donna must be so disappointed," she had wanted to provide him with a male heir.

"My Lord, I'm afraid your wife did not survive the labour either."

Lord Smoak isn't sure what happened afterwards. His first coherent memory was of the Earl swinging the door to his chambers open loudly the next morning and exclaiming that he had found his granddaughter! Edward was still dressed in the previous day's clothes and he smelled of liquor but his precious Felicity was tucked into his side. The tear streaks on her face were easily visible and her bright blue eyes bored into his. It was at that moment he realised that he was now solely responsible for his daughter and outside of her intelligence, he didn't know how to raise a girl.

The Earl had taken Felicity immediately and cradled her in his arms, offering her the comfort that Edward had failed to provide. He ordered Edward to have a bathe and get dressed. There would be a wake that evening. Somehow the finer points of funeral planning had eluded him but his father-in-law made up for all of those shortcomings. He mourned his wife for six months. It was when he found his daughter running around outside like a wild animal, that he decided that he needed a new wife immediately because he was failing to teach his daughter how to behave the way British society mandated. Three months later, against the Earl's advice, he married a young girl who he hoped would be a good mother to Felicity and provide him with the male heirs that he desperately needed.

It would turn out that she would succeed at one of those tasks and fail miserably at the other.

Chapter Text

Twenty two years later, Lord Smoak was propped up by numerous pillows on his death bed. He still had one month left to live and he was determined to ensure that his daughter would lead a happy life after his passing. He had called for his barrister the day before and issued instructions to summon Lords Robert and Oliver Queen. The time had come to entrust his daughter to another family.

His second marriage had produced five boys, all strong and healthy and one daughter. He no longer needed to worry about his family's legacy but despite his children, whom he loved dearly; he had grown to regret not following the Earl's advice. His new wife, Isabelle, the daughter of Spanish Aristocracy, had not bonded with Felicity. Their initial meeting had gone terribly and Isabelle was more interested in the gossiping ton than raising his daughter. Even with their own children she raised them to follow the whims and fancy of the ton. It was probably why his sons' were terrible at business. They spent far too much time escorting ladies than learning about the business but he knew he wasn't without blame as well. It was partly his fault since he didn't spend time teaching them. From young, they weren't as bright as Felicity and picked up on things much slower and he made the mistake of showing favouritism towards his eldest daughter. Whatever sibling love there might have been had soured fairly fast once he started making a comparison.

The first summer, he and Isabelle spent together was without Felicity. His wife convinced him to send Felicity to spend the summer with her Grandfather so that he and she could spend some time together. His life quickly became a balancing act between his daughter and his wife. Every summer Felicity was sent to the Earl's estate, a routine she had kept up even after her Grandfather's death. She bonded with her cousins there and Edward was thankful for that because Felicity never bonded with her siblings. Isabelle always kept them separate, stressing that her sons were his rightful heirs.

Felicity had figured out how to get around Isabelle early. In the evenings after her etiquette lessons, she would hide in his study under his desk and read a book as he conducted his business meetings. He never had the heart to move her because he knew if she wasn't there he would never get to see her. It was when she was ten and she asked a specific question about a business venture he was about to embark upon that he realised how much of his business meetings she had internalised. She had realised a flaw in his plan and her question was a way of pointing it out to him. When he had tried to include his sons' in any meetings, Isabelle had commented that they were too young and needed to learn their lessons first.

The first time Isabelle spoke of marrying Felicity to an eligible bachelor that was significantly older than Felicity, Edward saw red. His daughter had no interest in the ton, her season or marriage and Edward saw no reason to push her into one that would make her miserable. When she was 14 he needed to travel to India to conduct some business personally but he was afraid to leave Felicity alone. He did not want to come back and find her married off in his absence. His brother-in-law, Henry Allen, the new Earl, owned the fleet of ships that carried cargo for him and was always promising to take Felicity to India on an adventure. From the moment she realised that he needed to go to India she started begging to come and he happily agreed. Henry would captain the ship that would take them there and back and along the way Felicity learned how to read navigational charts, chart courses and steer the boat. She adjusted to life at sea quickly and he almost envied his daughter's lack of sea sickness. Henry had been very proud of his niece's "sea legs" and the only sad note for the entire journey was that Barry, Henry's eldest son, had been unable to make the journey with them.

India had been an eye-opening experience for his daughter. She had never seen suffering and in India there was plenty of suffering. The child labour and the way the 'untouchables' were treated was what affected her the most. She joined him for all of his meetings and she helped him select the best silks to ship back. She had told him, "Quality over Quantity" and indeed when that shipment had arrived in England his clients were extremely pleased with the products. Felicity would subsequently accompany him on other trips to India and one to Africa.

There was a knock on the door and his lawyer entered followed by the Queens. The look of shock that showed on both men's face led him to believe he looked a lot worse than Felicity led him to believe. His darling daughter was always a positive thinker. Both men took a seat at the side of his bed.

"Good afternoon my Lords, You look well. I am pleased that you agreed to this impromptu meeting," Edward said greeting his guests and pointing to two chairs set up at his bedside already.

"Good afternoon Lord Smoak, we were surprised by your request as the this is a very busy time for us but due to the rumours about your health, we thought we would acquiesce to the meeting request instead of putting it off." Robert answered as both he and his son took their seats.

"Never mind my health gentlemen; I am still sound of mind. I called you here because I want to make you an offer," Edward said to them.

"What kind of offer?" Robert queried.

"You have been trying to acquire one of my companies; Smoak East India."

"Yes you have refused all buyers claiming that that was your most profitable business and you would be a fool to sell it,"

"It is but that was not the reason why all offers for that business have been refused." A wry smile passed Edward's face, "I am willing to offer you the company as a dowry for Oliver marrying my daughter on one condition."

"Excuse me?" Oliver said alarmed.

"I can assure you she is the most beautiful person you will ever meet." Edwards said fondly.

"I have met your daughter and she isn't even of age yet," Oliver replied. Lords had been offering him their daughters since he turned of age and if he remembered corrected he had met his daughter with her mother and brothers when he was in London the previous summer. The Lord's wife had shamelessly paraded her underage daughter around and tried desperately to draw his attention to her.

"Not my youngest daughter, my eldest daughter Felicity, she is my greatest treasure and I am choosing to trust you with her protection. Since I first started showing signs of this disease I agonized over Felicity's prospects and you, Lord Oliver Queen are the best match I have found for her."

Edward had commissioned several private investigators to research a list of six possible men he had identified for Felicity. He had wanted wealthy men, who had a good grasp of business and who already had heirs. He did not want to throw his daughter into a situation where she would be forced to produce a child. If she wanted children he would leave that up to her. When the investigators submitted their report he looked for a man that would respect Felicity and her happiness, as it turned out that man was Lord Oliver Queen.

"Felicity is your daughter with your first wife?" Robert said recalling a faint memory of a little girl with brown pigtails at his first wife's funeral. "She would be an old maid now."

"She is not an old maid. I can assure you even though she is older than the age at which most women marry, she is very vibrant and extremely difficult to keep up with. Oliver already has an heir and thus my daughter won't be required to provide you with one."

"What is the condition?" Oliver asked curiously.

At this Edward hesitated, this could be the deal breaker.

"I have allowed my daughter certain freedoms. One of those freedoms is to run my businesses for me. Smoak East India was her idea and I allowed her to develop it into what it is today. Because women aren't allowed to run a business I allowed her to use my name but most of our business associates in East India understand that she represents me and makes decisions on my behalf. It is her work that has made the company successful and I want her role to remain the same. I understand that you would want to have full control over it to integrate into your network but I'm asking that my daughter at least retain an equal partnership in the business."

"You allow your daughter into business matters?" Robert asked. He too had an eager and intelligent daughter that showed the occasional interest in business matters, when she wasn't studying the latest gossip in the ton.

"Yes. She has proved herself to be a very competent business woman. She does have her flaws but she will listen to reason and be guided accordingly,"

"How come I have never seen your daughter?" Oliver asked.

"She has never done a London season."

"Did you refuse her, her season?" Oliver asked.

"No, she didn't want it. She would rather be off in India riding on the back of her elephant than sitting in a party listening to the ton critique her dress."

Oliver chuckled. He too would prefer the elephant to the ton.

"Do we have a deal gentlemen?" Edward asked.

"I would like to meet your daughter first." Oliver insisted.

"I suspected as much." Edward rang a bell and a servant that entered the room.

"William, please summon Felicity immediately."

"Yes my lord," he said with a bow.

"She will be here soon. These days when I summon she comes right away." He chuckled which turned into a coughing fit.

The door flew open and a petite lady with her hair pulled back into a bun entered the room and moved to his bedside. She immediately started to rub his back. She was dressed in a red Moroccan style gown with intricate gold patterns on material that was made of the finest silk. It was unusual to find a British woman dressed that way. When her father's fit stopped, she narrowed her eyes at the guests in the room.

"My lords, I am terribly sorry but my father is not well enough to conduct any business today. My brother's will be back from London in the morning and you are welcome to join them for tea."

"Nonsense," her father said, "I am just about to conclude my business with them but first I would like to introduce you to them,"

"Felicity, this is Lord Robert Henry Queen and Lord Oliver Jonas Queen."

Felicity politely curtsied. If she was surprised to see them she showed no indication. She turned back to her father for a moment and studied him.

"You sold the company to them didn't you?" She accused him angrily.

"You will still be involved in the company as Oliver Queen's partner and wife."

"I think I misheard your father, did you say wife?"

He smiled at her.

"No," she said stubbornly crossing her hands in front of her chest. The movement drew Oliver's gaze to her cleavage which unlike a lot of the vultures that had been trying to bed him, was not on display.

Her father chuckled, "Felicity this is my last wish for you. Will you deny me this?"

She seemed to bristle for a bit before all fight deflated out of her. Eventually she squared her shoulders and stood up straight and responded, "No, I will do as you wish. When is the wedding to happen?"

"Lord Queen has yet to agree to my terms."

"And what exactly are these terms?" she inquired.

"In exchange for marrying you, he will gain Smoak East India and you will retain a silent equal partnership with him in the company."

"I see and you trust him to uphold his end of the bargain."

"I do. The Queens have always been men of their word."

"I would have to leave you here," She said sadly, knowing that marrying into the Queen family would mean her immediate relocation to the Queen Manor over 100 miles away.

"I will always be with you my darling. You know that." He told her. She nodded the tears welling up in her eyes.

"I agree," Oliver said.

Edward Smoak summoned his barrister as well as a few high ranking magistrates and members of the clergy to witness the signing of the papers and marriage of his daughter. Felicity refused to change into a wedding gown and she held her father's hand, not her husband's hand, during the entire ceremony.

Chapter Text

Felicity had been quiet the entire carriage ride to Queen Manor. She had packed a small bag quickly as she needed to leave with her new family immediately. Her former Butler informed her that he would arrange for all of her belongings to be transported to her. She was apprehensive about leaving her father alone. None of her siblings or step-mother were home to attend to his needs not that they would have. Felicity had been the one handling her father's sickness. She supposed her father had purposely arranged their absence so that he could conduct business with the Queen's uninterrupted. She said a tearful goodbye to her father and left.

During her long carriage ride to Queen Manor, which was much closer to London than the Smoak Estate, her gaze never wavered from the countryside. The trees eventually thinned out and Felicity realised they were on a winding road that lead to the Manor. Once they stopped outside the main entrance Oliver alighted first and offered his hand to Felicity. She graciously accepted it. A little boy ran up to Oliver and he easily scooted him into his arms. It was then that she remembered the gossip she had heard about him before. His previous wife had died in a tragic riding accident the year before leaving him with one son to raise. She could tell he and his son were close. The love for his son was clear in his eyes.

A thin lady with brown wavy hair approached. She called Oliver "Ollie," and referred to the boy in his arms as Connor. Felicity correctly concluded that she was Lady Thea Queen and her sister-in-law was looking at her brother with a cross-expression.

Oliver sighed, "Thea, this is Felicity, my wife."

Thea's face turned to a shocked one, "Wife?" she looked at their father.

"Yes this is Oliver's new wife. We will discuss this further at dinner time. We've had a long journey allow, Felicity some time to settle in."

Thea crossed her hands in front of her chest, "Mother is going to crucify you, Oliver."

The house maid showed Felicity to her new chambers next to her husband's. She asked the maid to inform Lord Queen that she was too tired to attend dinner and asked her to convey her apologies. That night she cried herself to sleep. She awoke early the next morning but did not summon for a maid. She liked attending to her needs herself. She had also grown accustomed to her lady's maid reporting everything she did to Isabelle and she preferred not to interact with any potential spies.

She dressed quickly in a simple green English gown. She preferred her more colourful saris and Moroccan dresses but she didn't think her mother-in-law would approve of those. She would have to slowly introduce them to that type of outfit. She made quick work of doing her hair and decided to explore the Manor a bit. She quickly formed a map in her head of the layout as she explored. After a few wrong turns she came to the foyer where she surprised a young woman.

"My Lady, we did not realise you were awake, I will get your lady's maid right away." She said curtseying.

"It's quite alright. Perhaps you could point me in the direction of the dining room?" she asked.

"Yes my Lady," she said pointing to some doors on her left.

"Excellent," Felicity said, "Do have a good day."

She arrived in the dining room to find both her husband and father-in-law already seated at the table. She greeted them politely.

"How did you sleep?" Oliver asked her.

"I slept well my Lord," She answered but he knew it was a lie and he chose not to embarrass her with that information. He had heard her crying from in his chambers.

"I must admit I am surprised to find you awake this early," Robert Queen commented.

"I am accustomed to raising early my Lord. Business does not conduct itself. I would like to go into London today. There will be plenty of news of my marriage and my customers and staff need to be reassured that it will not adversely affect the company." Felicity indicated.

"Oliver and I will accompany you then. We would like to become better acquainted with the company."

Felicity nodded as a maid placed her breakfast in front her. "Thank you," she said to the maid.

"The Carriage will be ready in an hour,"

After breakfast, Felicity decided on a quick walk in the gardens as she was in no rush to meet her mother-in-law. The servants bustled about and for the most part they ignored her. She came upon Connor hiding behind a rose bush.

"What are you doing behind here young sir?" She asked him kindly.

He studied her for a moment before he decided to answer, "I'm hiding from the Governess. She wants me to behave myself but I don't want to behave."

She smiled. "What do you want to do?"

"I want to ride the horses!" he said.

"The horses, do you know how to saddle and prepare a horse for riding?" she asked him.

"No, father always prepares the horse and then he takes me riding. We chase after foxes and jump over tree trunks,"

"It sounds like quite an adventure." She said to him.

"Oh it is, much more exciting than the books the Governess wants me to start reading." He pouted.

"Oh but books are important too," she said to him.

"No," he said refusing to believe her.

She smiled at him, she remembered her brothers always wanted to play outside instead of learn their lessons. It was a habit her father and step-mother might have indulged them in a bit too much. Her brother's had grown up to be nothing like her father. They were cruel boys who enjoyed spending money wildly on things that brought them entertainment and pleasure. She was sure one of her brother's had also begun to spend a bit too heavily on gambling. Her thoughts about her brothers were broken by Connor.

"Are you my new mother?" Connor asked her curiously.

Felicity startled at the question. She had yet to come to terms with her relocation and her priority was Smoak East India and assuring her workers that everything would be fine. She not contemplated the role she would have to play as wife to Lord Oliver Queen and mother to Connor Queen. She cannot remember her biological mother. She only knows the stories from her grandfather, father, and uncles. She does not remember the day she first met Isabelle, she just grew up thinking of her as her father's wife. Somehow she instinctively knew that Isabelle was not her mother and would never be a mother to her.

"I am your father's wife, I will only be your mother if you want me to be." She explained to him.

Connor opened his mouth to respond but Felicity stopped him, "You do not need to decide today. Besides, I think your governess had found you."

A pudgy maid dressed in black, ran up to Connor completely out of breath.

"There you are little Lord, I have been looking all over for you."

Connor gave her a disgusted face. Felicity knelt down, "It you're a good boy, I can take you riding around the grounds this afternoon when I return from London,"

Connor's face lit up. She smiled at him. "I'll see you this afternoon after your lessons."

She saw the carriage arrive and headed over to it. A tall black man stood talking with her husband.

"Felicity, this is my valet, Mr. Diggle," he said introducing her to him.

"It is a pleasure to meet you Mr. Diggle," Felicity said with a small curtsey.

Diggle was completely taken back, "My Lady, there is no need to curtsey. Usually Ladies such as yourself turn their nose up at me."

Felicity smiled, "I think you will find that I am vastly different from those Ladies."

Robert arrived and they were soon on their way to London. Their carriage arrived outside of Smoak East India and Felicity felt relieved. It felt good to be there and she strode into her business without waiting for her husband and father-in-law. A petite Indian girl greeted her at the entrance.

"Ganga, is the Mr. Raymond in?" she asked.

"Yes he's in his office,"

"Good, can you gather the staff in half an hour in the main room please. I have an announcement to make,"

The girl glanced at Oliver and Robert and looked back at Felicity, "So it's true then?" she asked fearfully.

Felicity nodded before heading off to the back of the building, both Queen males following behind her.

"Mr. Raymond," she said strolling into a small office packed with paperwork.

A handsome man with black hair sat behind an oak desk.

"Lady Smoak or is it Lady Queen now," He said smiling at her.

"Lady Queen," Oliver said immediately.

"My Lords," Mr. Raymond bowed to them.

"This is Ronald Raymond, or as I like to call him Ronnie. He is my solicitor and handles all of the company's business." Felicity revealed.

"You do not use your father's solicitor?" Robert asked her.

"No, we had a disagreement a few years ago and I met Ronnie right after. He had just graduated from Oxford having worked very hard to reach there but sourcing work was difficult because of his class status. I needed a solicitor and he needed an office. It has been a very beneficial arrangement one that will not change." Felicity stated firmly. None of her workers would be fired.

"As you suspected, your brother's are arguing that your father is in no state of mind to agree to use the company as a dowry for you particularly when you are unmarriageable." Ronnie informed her.

"Ah but since I am unmarriageable it would require something as valuable as the company to be used as a dowry to marry me off!" Felicity countered.

"Yes that is one of the arguments we will use. It also helps that your father's solicitor and other high ranking officials were there. They can testify to your father's state of mind. I am also positive that Lord Queen's influence will deter any of Lord Thawne's manipulations. At the moment I am working on the necessary paperwork."

"Thank you. We shall retire to my office. We are meeting with staff in twenty minutes and after we shall head back to Queen Manor,"

She curtseyed and headed towards her office at the back of the building close to the radiator. She enjoyed being close to the warmth during winter time. She was thankful it was summer.

As soon as she closed the door behind her she started to pace angrily.

"I built this company! I will not let Isabelle and my brother's destroy it. It was my idea to buy my grandfather's shipping fleet. Isabelle wanted the land but I knew the crowning jewel in my grandfather's estate was his yacht and his ships. They were what mattered and I used that knowledge to build this company and save all of my cousins from the embarrassment that my brother's caused."

"Earl Allen was your uncle," Robert remembered.

"Yes,"

"He's a convicted murderer," Oliver said.

Felicity's face darkened, "he's innocent,"

"According to the rumours," Oliver responded.

"I was there. I saw what happened but no one would listen to me because I was a young girl. We had just got back from our first trip to India. My father was still below deck recovering from sea sickness and I was out on the docks with my uncle overseeing the unloading of the cargo. We had raced Lord Eobard Thawne's ship back from India. It had been a thrilling race and Lord Thawne did not take well to losing. He challenged my uncle to a duel. My uncle refused but Lord Thawne did not back down and Dr. Wells was shot by Lord Thawne."

"Your brother's and numerous other witnesses said differently."

"Lord Thawne is a wealthy man that can afford to pay sailors off. He is also a close personal friend of my step-mother. My brother's said what she told them to say and my innocent uncle went to jail and my real family fled England."

"What became of your uncle?" Robert asked. "He was a good man."

"He is a good man. He is in prison serving a life sentence. We managed to convince the King that he should serve a life sentence instead of death and in return for that, the Allen's had to forgo all claim to all their property and resources to the King, who as you know sold it off to the highest bidder. I send a page everyday to ensure that he is treated well as I am not allowed to go. His eldest son Barry is determined to prove his innocence."

"That sounds like a fisherman's tale," Oliver commented.

His wife growled at him, "I assure you it is not!"

A soft tap on her door interrupted them and Sunita stuck her head in.

"Staff is ready my Lady."

"Thank you,"

Again Felicity left the office without waiting on the Queens.

"Good day, as you are all aware, I have married Lord Oliver Queen. Both Lord Oliver and his father Lord Robert Queen are here today. They have expressed an interest in getting involved with the business matters at Smoak East India but I assure you, nothing will change for any of you. I would appreciate it if you could send out missives to our relative outposts in India and Africa. Please continue on with your usual tasks."

Oliver frowned as the workers scattered back to their desks, "You did not give me the opportunity to speak,"

"No I did not," Felicity replied evenly.

Oliver was about to speak more when his father intervened, "Perhaps we should have this conversation in the privacy of an office,"

"I think not. The carriage would be a much better place. The upper floors of this building house many underprivileged families and the pipes from the radiators in my office tend to carry conversations upwards. I don't say anything in there that I do not want my competitors to know. I've fooled many a business man with that tactic already." Felicity smiled.

Ten minutes later they were on their way in the carriage.

"Your behaviour at the company was unacceptable," Oliver said firmly.

"You gave your word to my father that I would be able to run the company and I run it how I see fit. Did you see a single Englishman inside the company? I've employed only immigrants as information and orders are coded in their native languages. Thus any competitor that might obtain an internal company document won't be able to read it. I employed all of those workers after they had been kicked out by one English Lord or another. They do not relate well to Englishmen and it took me years to earn their trust and loyalty. You need to do the same. I realise because of your valet that you are able to see passed the colour of their skin but you need to prove that to them."

"And I can't prove that to them unless you let me speak!" Oliver commented angrily.

"You have plenty of time to get to know them my Lord? Now why don't you ask me what you really want to know?"

Robert smiled at his daughter-in-law, "you truly are an astute business woman."

She levelled her gaze at her father-in-law.

"Smoak East India has been able to transport shipments from India quicker than any other company and without a single ship going missing in the last five years. I have been curious to know how you do it?" he asked her.

Felicity smiled, "It is simple my lord, I eliminated the greatest risks to my ships,"

"You avoid the Cape?" Oliver said, "But how?"

"We travel to Africa and travel over the narrow strip of land that joins Africa and Asia. Our boats in the Mediterranean then carry on to England."

"But your boats docking in England would have been different to the ones leaving India. The same boat that leaves India arrives in England. You can't be moving the whole boat over land!"

"You have been watching my ships. I have identical ships. To the outside world I have a fleet of 10. It's really 20. Each of my ships are made in duplicate. Lord Raymond Palmer, Master Shipbuilder, is excellent at ensuring every square inch of the vessels are identical. The Captain and crew travel over land with the cargo and switch with the crew that sailed in the ship from England. I pay my sailors well and allow them plenty of shore leave. This has ensured their loyalty to the company. Also most of them are my cousins. Barry runs the base in Alexandria and controls where and when the ships dock. Most of the time it's a deserted beach and cargo is brought ashore by row boat. Though if I could find a way to move the whole boat over land that would be more efficient."

"That is remarkable!" Oliver said.

"Thank you for remarking that." Felicity smiled.

"I have some business to attend to. Both of you can return in the carriage." Oliver said.

"But how will you return?" Felicity asked.

"I can ride a horse my Lady." Oliver said charmingly. He tapped on the front of the carriage where Diggle was guiding the horses and they stopped. Oliver alighted and Felicity observed him talking quietly with Diggle before leaving. Diggle didn't appear too pleased with whatever his Lord was running off to do. Her husband was keeping secrets.

They returned to the Manor to find Isabelle's carriage out front. Felicity groaned.

"Do not worry my child. I am quite sure Moira is handling the situation." Robert said.

Felicity had avoided meeting her mother-in-law but now she was put in the position of meeting her for the first time with Isabelle. She couldn't imagine a worst nightmare. As they entered the Manor, their butler, Walter, another black worker, informed them that their guests were in the parlour having tea.

"Well let's not keep them waiting. Shall we," Robert said offering her his arm. Felicity cautiously took it.

The Parlour was in the opposite direction of the dining room and Felicity had not been in this part of the Manor yet. Her eyes scanned over the pictures in the hallway as well as the suit of armour that stood at the entrance to one room. Robert strode confidently into the parlour with Felicity. Both Isabelle and an older blonde woman that Felicity assumed was Lady Moira Queen stood to greet them. Isabelle was wearing the finest gown that English seamstresses had to offer and Lady Thea seemed quite in awe of Isabelle's taste.

After the normal pleasantries were completed and tea was served to the new additions the conversation resumed.

"Felicity, Moira was just telling me you went into London with your husband. You know Smoak East India rightfully belongs to your brothers." Isabelle said smiling at her.

"I know that my father offered it to Lord Queen as a dowry for my marriage to Oliver. It belongs to my husband's family now." Felicity replied sweetly.

"Your father was not capable of making that decision." Isabelle pointed out.

Sensing a fight Moira intervened, "Felicity your mother,"

"Step mother," Felicity corrected her automatically.

"Felicity, do not make it sound like we are not close. I was most upset when I discovered your father had married you off without my blessing but I have come bearing good news. Your eldest brother George, will be marrying Lord Wilson's daughter by the end of Summer. Lord Wilson had originally wanted her to marry Oliver but well he's off the market now isn't he. As a result, I had to bring your father here since we will be in London making preparations and there will be no one to take care of him."

"You moved father! He was not well enough to travel that distance."

"Nonsense, he arrived safely though he was babbling incoherently when he arrived was he not Moira?" Isabelle said turning to the elder lady.

"He was tired from his travels." Moira replied diplomatically. She was not going to admit that Lord Smoak didn't know this toe from his finger and jeopardise her son's marriage. Smoak East India had been a company they had been trying to acquire for a while. "Felicity, I have placed him in the chambers opposite yours."

"I shall attend to him immediately," Felicity said rising to her feet.

"There is one other small matter," Isabelle said interrupting her step daughters departure, "now that George is going to be the new Lord, he's decided that the servants should all be English. All of your servants have been dismissed," she smiled evilly at Felicity.

Felicity clenched her fist. "I am sure I can find them suitable work elsewhere."

"No need to worry Felicity, Queen Manor has need for some more staff. I'm sure we can absorb them," Moira said smiling pleasantly at Isabelle.

"I highly doubt that. Felicity tends to pick up a lot of strays. I had to let go over 100 persons."

"Oh look at that, the sun has passed the noon. Perhaps you should start the journey back. You wouldn't want to be caught in the dark."Felicity said.

"No need to worry, I'm headed on to London where we will be staying with Lord Wilson. I do look forward to seeing you all at the wedding."

"It will be our pleasure," Thea replied excitedly. The young Queen had been silent the entire time watching with large eyes as the veiled insults were slung back and forth between Felicity and Isabelle.

Isabelle departed not long after that and Felicity went immediately to her father. He had been given a calming draught and would be asleep until the next day. Connor found her after that and she took him for a little ride around the grounds. He showed her his favourite spots and got her to promise to take him riding the next day. She retired to her room and dressed for dinner. She knew she would not be able to avoid that again.

She arrived to find Moira alone already seated at the table.

"My Lady," Felicity curtsied to her before taking a seat at the table. She knew her dining protocols well and didn't need to be told where her seat was.

"Felicity, I'm sorry we had to meet under such stressing circumstances. My husband has explained to me the details regarding how you came to be my son's wife and I will be frank. At first I was furious. You are not what I had wanted for him but considering you are not fond of Isabelle either, I'm willing to give you a chance to prove me wrong."

"You do not like Isabelle?" Felicity asked confused. Isabelle was quite popular among the ton and had the power to ruin a girl with her words alone.

"Sara Lance was a personal friend of the family's. I have never believed Isabelle's version of events and ever since I caught her trying to manipulate my husband and son into bed with her, I have not trusted her. Her allies are my enemies but her enemies could prove to be valuable allies for me. We have much work to do with you. There is a ball next week at Count Mathis's Manor. We will formally introduce you there. At least your etiquette seems flawless."

Felicity fiddled nervously with her fingers, "about the staff that was let go. Would it be acceptable if I housed them here temporarily until I can find them suitable work?"

"That is fine, contrary to Isabelle's belief, the Queen family can easily absorb all of them. Both my husband and son have been neglecting their duties when it comes to hiring staff to maintain our properties. Walter can guide you on this matter."

"Thank you,"

Robert, Thea and Connor soon arrived and dinner was served. Felicity was surprised that Oliver had yet to return but none of his family commented on his absence. Both Felicity and Thea helped Connor with his table manners during the meal. After dinner she returned to her father's chambers and with the assistance of a maid, she cleaned and dressed him for the night. He was still asleep and Felicity decided to sit with him a while. After some time, she dozed off and when her head fell forward on to her chest she realised it was time to return to her chambers. She quickly changed for bed but was interrupted when her husband opened the door and fell into her room. At first she thought he was drunk and he had confused the doors but as she approached him she realised that his white shirt was stained dark and she could faintly smell blood in the air.

"My Lord," she said bending down.

"Diggle, I need Diggle,"

Her hands unbuttoned his shirt and she found a wound on his upper torso near his clavicle. It looked like he had been shot. She immediately grabbed a cloth to stop the bleeding.

"You need a Doctor my Lord," she said.

"No Diggle,"

"I don't know where Diggle is?" she said to him frustrated.

"Bell," he said fainter, he was beginning to lose consciousness.

"Bell" she said before comprehension dawned on her. The bell they used to summon their personal maids in the morning. Felicity rushed to the adjoining door to his room and was relieved that it was unlocked. She entered his room and headed straight for the lever that lead to the bell in Diggle's quarters where ever that was. She started pumping it furiously in case Diggle was asleep. Less than a minute later, a dishevelled Diggle burst through the doorway with a pistol in his hand.

"My Lady, what is the matter?" he asked.

"Oliver!" she said rushing back into her room with him on her heels.

He went immediately to Oliver and was soon barking out orders for her to follow. An hour later, Oliver rested comfortably on his bed, the remains of the bullet had been extracted and he had been neatly sown up. She also saw evidence of other wounds on her husband's perfectly sculpted chest and for the first time she was asking herself who the bloody hell is Oliver Queen.

Chapter Text

Oliver slowly became conscious of his surroundings. He did not open his eyes immediately, instead choosing to use his other senses to determine what was happening around him. He felt a pain in his shoulder and he remembered he had been shot the night before. The details after being shot were kind of hazy. He thinks he made it back to the Manor but he isn't sure if he made it to Diggle's quarters. Perhaps when he opened his eyes he'll have some explaining to do to his mother and sister. The bed felt comfortable and familiar so he assumed he was in his bed chambers. There was a slight pressure on his left wrist. He let his eyes slowly flutter open and adjust to the lighting in the room. There was a brunette head rested on the left side of his bed that he assumed was Thea.

"Thea?" He tried to say but found his throat dry.

The noise he made was enough to wake her. When she raised her head to look at him, he was met with a pair of blue eyes that belonged to his wife. Had her eyes always been that blue?

"My Lord, you're awake. I shall summon Mr. Diggle immediately," she said her hand reaching for the lever.

Her other hand let go of his wrist and he realised that his wife had fallen asleep monitoring his pulse. He was confused, his mother and sister were definitely not in his chambers. He knew they wouldn't leave his car to a woman who had just entered their lives. After pulling on the lever, she sat on the edge of the bed with a glass of water for him which he gratefully took from her.

"I can help you sit up, my Lord," she offered her hands already moving gently under his back to assist him.

"For Christ's sake Felicity stop calling me my Lord. Call me Oliver, when we are alone," he said frustrated with her. He didn't like accepting help from anyone, much less a woman. If he had hurt her with his comment, she showed no outward sign. He stubbornly drank some of the water without sitting up, causing him to choke on it and make a mess of his sheets. He reluctantly had to accept her help then.

As expected Diggle had arrived quickly and looked quite amused to find Oliver being doted on by his new wife. He was resting against the headboard of the bed while Felicity checked his forehead for any fever before looking at his bandages. He wasn't accustomed to such a gentle hand taking care of him and he wanted to tell her that she didn't need to do it but he didn't want to offend her again by telling her to stop. Plus he won't admit it to himself yet but he kind of liked her touch. Instead he decided to distract himself with a conversation with Diggle.

"Where is the rest of my family?" Oliver asked.

Diggle gave a confused look, "I assumed like the previous occasions you didn't want them notified of your injuries?"

Oliver cast his eyes curiously at Felicity and she explained to him that he had come into her chambers and she had summoned Diggle for him. She had not informed his parents or sister. In fact, there was still half an hour left before either of them needed to appear for breakfast so there was time to make him presentable. Oliver groaned as he remembered that he had to an important meeting with Count Zytle.

Diggle would assist him with getting dressed, while Felicity checked on her father. Once Felicity had left, Diggle raised the matter that had been bothering him since Felicity summoned him.

"I'm not sure why you chose to include your wife in this matter but she seems to be trustworthy,"

"I have no idea why I did it either but I was in survival mode," Oliver said.

"At least she is very good at wrapping bandages, much better than I. I'll have to get her to rewrap these after breakfast before we leave for your meeting."

Diggle knew him well. He always kept up his public appearances no matter how under the weather he felt even though this was not a public meeting. He could not have his enemies seeing his weaknesses.

"What did she mean when she said she was going to check on her father?" Oliver asked curiously as it had just occurred to him that her father was supposed to be 100 miles away.

Diggle sighed, "we arrived at the Manor yesterday to find her step-mother already here. Apparently she brought her father here for Felicity to take care of while she went off with her sons to Lord Wilson's. The eldest will be marrying Rose."

Oliver let out a sigh of relief. He had been trying to find ways to politely decline Lord Wilson's interest in him marrying his daughter, though doing it through a marriage to another was bound to have consequences. This was just another incident to add to the very long list against Lord Wilson. Their relationship now was tenuous at best and it bothered him because they were once good friends.

"I imagine Felicity didn't take that very well," Oliver commented swinging his legs off of the bed.

"Not at all but that wasn't the only thing that happened?"

"There was more drama here yesterday?" Oliver asked.

"All of their coloured servants were dismissed. We expect them to start arriving today. Your mother agreed to take in all of them."

"At least that means she won't be asking me to attend to the staffing needs of all our properties any time soon."

"It might actually be a long while. Supposedly there are over 100 of them."

"100 of them?" Oliver asked his eyes widening. Where did his wife find 100 migrants to work for her? He certainly had not seen that many at Lord Smoak's estate. He was impressed when he visited Smoak East India and found that his wife was able to look past differences in appearances. It was a lesson he had learned the hard way. She truly seemed wiser than he was though he wishes she had let him speak with their employees. He had seen their nervousness and he wanted to reinforce that there was nothing to fear from him or his family.

"Your wife is apparently very generous," Diggle said.

"You like that about her?" Oliver said.

"I respect that it cannot be easy for an English woman to stand up for migrants and yet she does it easily. She might be that other silent party that supports the abolishment of slavery in the British territories."

Oliver nodded. He had suspected that it had been Lord Smoak who was silently funding the movement along with the Queens. Now he's certain it was actually his daughter's doing.

"Did she have any questions?" Oliver asked.

"None that she asked me directly," Diggle replied. "She seemed to respect the bond between Lord and Vallet."

Oliver slowly tried to stand up. Once he was satisfied that his legs would support him he slowly started making his way forward.

"I'll dress for breakfast and then change for the meeting afterwards. I think I will pay a visit to Lord Smoak's room. It is impressive that he survived the trip here."

20 minutes later he was stepping into his father-in-law's room. Felicity was busy fussing over father who was rejecting all of her ministrations.

"Father, please let me attend to you!" she said exasperated as she placed the spoon that held his porridge back into the bowl she had summoned up from the kitchen for his breakfast.

"You need to change for breakfast with your family now," Edward said.

"You are my family or have you disowned me since you married me off," she retorted.

A look of hurt passed over his face at his daughter's accusation and Oliver chose to interrupt them before the conversation got out of hand. He didn't want his wife to regret anything mean she said to her father during his last days.

"Welcome to Queen Manor, Lord Smoak, I am surprised you made this entire journey just to check up on your daughter. I can assure you I haven't broken my promise to you," Oliver said lightly knowing full well that his wife had cruelly brought him there.

"Indeed, I see she is well enough to nag me!" Her father teased. "Call me Edward please."

Oliver chuckled and Felicity bristled with anger.

"Felicity, please change for breakfast. I'll keep your father company until you return." He asked her gently.

His wife narrowed her eyes at him and he thought she looked rather fetching when she was flush with anger. She stomped out of the room muttering something about stubborn males.

"Edward, may I ask you why you chose me for your daughter?" Oliver said taking a seat by the man's bed.

"It is because of the way you treated your first wife. You didn't have to acknowledge that she was pregnant with your child but you did and you married her and stood by her in the ton. I respected that."

Oliver hated to be reminded about the circumstances that had prompted his first marriage and brought his son into the world. It had been a very dark period in his life that lead to his best friend fleeing with his new wife to Scotland and Oliver seeking comfort in the arms of any lady willing to take him. Sandra Hawke had been a beautiful girl that, like the rest of ton, had been infatuated with him and he had taken advantage of that. Taking her innocence and inadvertently leaving her carrying his child. When she came forward with the pregnancy, he didn't have to accept her word for it. There was no proof that the child belonged to him but he knew in his heart that it was his child and he would not turn them out into the cold.

The marriage had surprised the ton as the reason for the marriage was easily visible on Sandra. It had caused other women to come out of the woodwork to claim they had his child. Women whom he had never seen, let alone touched. It had given his mother a headache dealing with the women but when Connor had been born there was no doubt in his parents mind that Connor was his. His mother told him he had looked exactly like Connor was when he was a child. Even now, his distant relatives always comment that Connor is a younger version of Oliver.

Despite Sandra being married to him the ton was still cruel to her. He made sure that nothing was ever said in front of him but behind his back was hard to control. She was left out of a lot of circles that she wanted to be in and it depressed her. She had also paid with her life for Oliver's actions in trying to right the wrong done to his best friend. Now he had a new wife, quite different from his first, to protect.

Felicity re-entered the room dressed presentably for breakfast, "Oliver," she curtsied, "Are you satisfied now."

He smirked, "If you'll excuse us, Edward," Oliver said and the old man smiled at them.

Felicity looped her hand through his right arm, automatically avoiding the side she knew he injured. They were the first to arrive for breakfast. His son arrived shortly afterwards and barrelled towards him the way he usually did when he hadn't seen him in a while. Felicity subtly headed Connor off with a reminder about table manners and his grandmother not approving. He wanted to eat on his father's lap and Oliver wanted to indulge his son. Felicity made sure that Connor approached on his father's right side and she helped him up onto his lap. That didn't last long for Moira Queen had arrived and Connor was instructed to take his proper place around the table.

Oliver tuned out most of the conversation about the ton and it appeared Felicity did the same as she concentrated on ensuring Connor enjoyed his breakfast. His son was far too young to be eating at the table with them but since the passing of Sandra, Oliver appreciated all the time he could spend with his son. Connor had a special chair that was designed to raise him to the height of the table but his reach was still short so he had some trouble reaching all of the food on his plate. He watched mesmerised as Felicity and Connor interacted as if she had always been in his life.

The butter for his toast was on Oliver's left side but when he raised his left hand to reach for the butter he immediately pulled at his stitches sending white hot pain through his body. He jerked his hand back. Felicity sensing his distress passed him the butter quickly and smoothly without drawing attention to the act.

Once breakfast was finished, Felicity declared that Oliver would escort his son to the governess for him to start his daily lessons and she would check on her father. She then whispered to her husband that she would meet him soon to change his bandages. He appreciated the short walk with his son. He had moved on to a new book and he was complaining about it. He wanted to go riding but Oliver knew it would be a few days before he could take his son riding again. They quickly arrived at their destination and he watched his son settle in for the day.

He arrived in his chambers to find his wife waiting with a roll of bandages and a basin of hot water.

"Off with the shirt," she commanded easily.

He smirked at her.

"I didn't mean it like that. I need the shirt off to change your bandages not for other purposes, not that I wouldn't want to do other things, I mean your chest is quite impressive, more impressive than those male sculptures that make me blush, not that I'm focusing in on, you know that area, but well, they're naked and it kind of unnerves me even though I know it's just a sculpture and I'm going to stop talking now."

Oliver couldn't help the smile that was pulling at his lips.

"I'm sorry when it's not business related I tend to babble. But you do need to..." she said finishing off the sentence by gesturing to his shirt.

Oliver painfully removed it with some assistance from Felicity and sat on the edge of the bed close to the basin. She gently unwrapped the bandage and tossed it aside to be disposed of later. She dipped a cloth into the warm water and cleaned the area before rewrapping the wound. He noticed that her cheeks gradually grew pinker and pinker as she worked. It pleased his male pride to know that he did affect her. When she tied off the bandage she dropped her hand down to a tattoo that rested right over his left pectoral and started tracing the outline of it. He didn't think she realised what she was doing as she looked like she was lost in contemplation.

"I'm sure you have questions," he said to her bringing his hand to rest over hers above his heart.

She snapped out of the trance she was in and removed her hand instantly. He missed her warmth.

"I do but not here. There are many ears and I recognise that tattoo. I understand you have a meeting to attend to. I can accompany you. It won't be strange for a new bride to stick on to her husband."

"Let me guess, we will talk in the carriage," Oliver finished for her.

She smiled at him and Oliver decided he liked her smile but that didn't mean she could get her way easily with him.

"I don't want you accompanying me. Count Zytle is not a man that I want anywhere near any member of my family." He said firmly

"It's my life, my choice and I choose to accompany you, lest I become a widow," she revealed.

Oliver stared at her and she stared right back with the same intensity. He suddenly felt like he had bitten off way more than he could chew with his wife. She was such a strong willed individual, yet she was kind and generous. The sound of Diggle clearing his through interrupted them and he wondered when Diggle had entered the room without him knowing. He was supposed to be more observant than that.

"Are you ready Oliver?" Diggle asked.

"Yes we are ready," Felicity answered with a pleasant smile.

Diggle eyes cut directly to Oliver and Oliver gave him the most frustrated look he could manage.

Felicity swept out of the room and Oliver quickly grabbed a fresh shirt and travel coat before he started to follow behind her when Diggle stopped him with a pensive thought, "Perhaps her ladyship should be wearing the pants instead?" Had Oliver been in peak form, he would have punched Diggle but he figured that was perhaps why his valet had chosen to voice that thought out loud.

The carriage was already waiting for them downstairs and Diggle helped Felicity to board. As soon as they were on the move, his wife gave him the look that indicated that he should start talking.

"After I left you at the company I visited a contact in the slums. I was expecting some information for an investigation that I have been working on. He provided it but it turned out to be a trap. I managed to escape and return to the Manor."

"I gather your family does not know about this?" Felicity stated,

"My father knows but due to his title and work load he can't actively pursue the investigation. As his heir, I have the power and the time to do so. My mother and sister are unaware of the danger we face,"

"We?" she questioned.

"Yes, unfortunately your father has married you into a dangerous situation." He said to her gravely.

She gave him a bitter laugh. "Danger I can handle, once I know what I'm facing. It is more dangerous to be ignorant and unaware. For example, are you familiar with Lord Seldon?" she asked.

"I am," he said frowning unaware what bearing the man had on the conversation.

"He was one of the many suitors my step-mother tried to marry me off to but he had the distinction of being the only one I thought to accept. After a visit to his estate that turned particularly nasty, that resulted in him attempting to hurt me, I declined that offer."

Oliver clenched his hands in anger, "And what is the point of you telling me this,"

"The point my Lord, is now you know that I have no desire to ever see or be left alone in a room with Lord Seldon. It might turn deadly, for him. You do not want your wife going to jail do you? To be forewarned is to be forearmed." She explained.

He nodded.

"Now what exactly is the problem? Mysteries bother me so perhaps I can be of assistance in solving it. Is it related to that Russian tattoo."

"You know what it represents?" he asked.

"I have rescued many people who were branded with similar markings but what I can't understand is how an English Lord ended up with it?"

"I was naïve and arrogant when I first started my investigation. I thought I was untouchable because of my title but I learned that wasn't true. The story starts ten years ago with the death of Lord Malcolm Merlyn and his wife Rebecca. They were the parents of my best friend Lord Tommy Merlyn. Tommy was the eldest son and automatically assumed the position of the new Lord. A year after he took control and had settled into his new role, he discovered some discrepancies in the estate. He investigated it quietly on his own for three years before he brought the information to my father and I for some advice as he had found no answers. His father had been making payments to a Unidac Trading Company but based on the discrete inquiries that Tommy had made no such company existed at that address in London. I offered to assist but my inquiries were not as discrete as Tommy's and it attracted the attention of some of the other funders behind Unidac. Tommy started to receive threats to drop the inquiries and forget about the payments. His estate's involvement ended with his father's death but Tommy couldn't let it go."

"You're going to eventually tell me that Tommy Merlyn did not go crazy and kill his family and abduct Lady Laurel Lance, who you were intended to originally marry?" Felicity said.

A determined look crossed Oliver's face. "He didn't. Much like your uncle he was framed. He came to me the night that it happened, his shirt covered in blood. He swore he didn't do it and that he had walked into the study to find them all dead. He had run to his sister first to check her pulse when Lord Wilson appeared at the door to the study and found him standing over her. Tommy insisted he didn't do it but Lord Wilson called for the police right away. Tommy escaped through the gardens and came straight to us. We believed him and advised him to leave. The evidence seemed stacked against him. On his way out of town, he wanted to say goodbye to Laurel. She chose to go with him and leave her life here behind."

He watched his wife frown but in the short time he had gotten to know her, he knew she was thinking.

"You're trying to gather the evidence that Tommy didn't kill his family?"

"Yes and figure out why Tommy was framed," he answered.

"No one has asked you where Tommy is?" she inquired.

"Oh they ask all the time. I refuse to answer but then other people started asking and I ended up being abducted during a safari in Africa and placed on a slave ship bound for the colonies."

"Is that when you got the tattoo?" she asked.

"Yes the ship was owned by the Russian and he asks all his Captains to mark his merchandise. I managed to befriend a few sailors and promised them a big payday if they commandeered the ship and took me back to England,"

"Did it work?"

"Amazingly yes, money is a powerful motivator. It was also where I met Diggle and Walter. They were on that ship bound for the cotton field in the colonies. They helped with the mutiny and I promised them freedom. They are my responsibility. It also opened my eyes to the injustices of slavery."

"I don't remember hearing anything about your absence from England but that was probably around the time I went back to India. Was Sara Lance ever questioned?"

"Yes,"

"I wonder if her ruination was because of this plot?" Felicity thought out loud.

"Sara believed so herself. It's why she's doing her own investigation into the Russian in the Middle East."

"She should talk to Dmitri. If you can contact her, tell her to head to Alexandria to North Star Trading Company and ask for Dmitri. I will let them know to expect her and extend full courtesies to her."

Oliver nodded but he could see his wife was still thinking.

"Something isn't right. Why would they still be looking for Tommy? How is the Russian connected to Unidac? Could this be connected to Lord Thawne? He is good friends with the Russian. We've been looking for evidence about his corrupted practices for years but it's going to take months for the messages to reach Sara and Dmitri."

"I can't answer any of your questions."

"I need to talk to Tommy and hear exactly what happened that night."

Oliver sighed. "I haven't seen Tommy since he left."

"But you know where he is."

He did know where he was. Tommy and Laurel were working for the Queen family at their property in Scotland. Who would ever expect to find Tommy working as a butler and Laurel as a cook. He wondered if they could go to Scotland without raising any questions but then an idea immediately struck him.

"Felicity how would you like to go to Scotland for our honeymoon?"

She was confused at first but he could see the exact moment she understood.

"I would love too, Oliver but," she chewed on her lip nervously, "my father."

The carriage stopped, a few moments late Diggle opened the door announcing the arrival at Lord Zytle's estate. The butler met them outside providing Oliver with an envelope. The Lord apparently had urgent business and was called away. They would have to reschedule.

"Perhaps your persistent survival has ruffled a few feathers," Diggle commented.

"Indeed it has. I must be on the right trail again but we will have to pause our search for a while. Felicity and I will be taking our honeymoon in Scotland after her father has passed. Cancel all of my appointments and inform them that I will be supporting my wife during this difficult time."

Diggle raised his eyebrows in surprise but he would follow the instructions he received. They were in for an interesting summer.

Chapter Text

A week had passed since Oliver's attack and Count Mathis's ball had arrived. Felicity was formally going to be introduced to the Ton today as Mrs. Oliver Queen. Moira had painstakingly gone over every detail with Felicity from what she would wear to who she should be introduced to first. The hierarchy of the Ton had been drawn out for her, no detail had been missed. She was extremely thankful to her mother-in-law for the assistance. Without her she would have been completely unprepared for what was about to occur.

Count Mathis's estate seriously disturbed Felicity. There were numerous naked statues of women that looked very real, almost as if someone had frozen them in place and preserved them. The Count was very proud of what he called his 'dolls' and made everyone attending the party walk down a corridor that displayed them to get to the ballroom. Felicity tucked herself closer to Oliver. She was grateful that he didn't push her away.

"Just ignore them," he said to her.

"They are so lifelike," she replied.

"They just might be. I've heard some rumours," Oliver admitted. He felt her tremble next to him. "Don't worry. You're safe with me."

At the end of the corridor it opened up to a large room decorated with that night's theme, 'Arabian Fantasies,'. Felicity scoffed a the theme.

"That's not very accurate," Felicity commented as she looked at the decorations.

"It doesn't have to be," Oliver said, "it's supposed to be a fantasy."

"How long did your mother say we had to stay here?" she asked him.

"Don't worry. As soon as we have stayed an acceptable amount of time, I'll get us out of here," he said squeezing her hand to reassure her.

He surveyed the room and immediately spotted the first person they were assigned to talk to. With one last squeeze of her hand, he readjusted his arm to they were linked arm in arm and he guided her in the direction they needed to go.

S-2

Moira Queen was indeed impressed with her daughter-in-law. Before this ball, Felicity knew nothing of the Ton, but looking at her interact with the various Lors and Ladies, one would assume she had been at it all her life. Thea had been groomed since she was born for this, not Felicity so Moira had sequestered Felicity away from everyone in the mansion and forced her to learn the names of all the Lords and Ladies she would be expected to meet at the ball. The rate at which she absorbed the information astounded Moira and her only concern left was the babble problem. She noticed her daughter-in-law had a penchant for being brutally honest which would not go over well with most members of the Ton.

Her son admirably hadn't left his wife alone which meant he had to endure more conversations than he was accustomed to. What surprised Moira was the way her son seemed so at ease with Felicity. Oliver had never looked that comfortable with Sandra by his side, that was part of the reason the Ton had been so cruel to Sandra but with Felicity, her son looked like there would be no where he rather be.

Her own husband was on the other side of the room surrounded by gentlemen and Thea was dancing with their host. The Count never wasted an opportunity to dance with a beautiful girl. She wondered how Oliver had managed to keep Felicity away from him. His wife was the current hot topic. She already had to use her influence to stop any nasty rumours that Oliver had knocked another one up.

Half an hour later, Oliver approached her with Felicity. They had stayed an acceptable amount of time and Moira did agree that it was time to depart as well. These days she found her patience for some of the gossip was minimal. She sent Oliver to fetch his father and Thea. Robert was easy, she knew her husband would come willingly but Thea would not be. Moira remembered what it was like when she was younger, the excitement of the balls and wanting to dance all night with one of the handsome eligible bachelors. Now the excitement had faded. These balls became more chores to reinforce your family's position in society rather than fun activities to look forward to.

Soon they were all in their carriage on the way back to Queen Manor.

"Tonight went well," Robert commented pleased.

"Yes, despite having to threaten Thea to get her to leave," Moira commented.

Thea crossed her hands in front of her chest and sulked.

S-3

Edward Smoak was seated on a chair in the west garden. The servants had brought him down to enjoy a bit of the summer weather and fresh air. Even though the day was great it didn't improve his sombre mood. With each passing day his pain grew and breathing became more of a challenge. He sensed by this time next week he would be six feet under. He wanted to say goodbye to all of his children but they were miles away at the Wilson estate. He would not live to see his son get married nor any of his grandchildren. He wanted a few more years but thought perhaps he should be happy that he would be getting to see Donna soon.

His daughter was leading a horse around the grounds by its reins; her stepson was riding giddily on the back. The boy had taken a break in between lessons, seeking Felicity out right away for a little adventure in the garden. It warmed Edward's heart to see his daughter fit in so effortlessly with her new family. Her step son had taken to her really well and no one had even a hint of hostility in their dealings with her. This was how her life should always have been, surrounded by people who loved and respected her. Even now he could see the way Oliver was beginning to look at her. He knew the poor lad didn't have a clue yet but he could see the beginnings of a beautiful relationship between them. He was glad that he had chosen well. He truly believed he had found a solution that left everyone he cared about in a good position. His family with Isabelle would be left with a significant estate and his eldest son was marrying into a reputable family. He felt he could pass in peace.

"Good Morning, Edward, how are you feeling today?" Moira asked him.

"Worse than yesterday but thank you for bringing me out here, it is nice to see that she is happy."

"It is amazing what we are willing to do as parents for our children's happiness. I admit, at first I was furious with the marriage. I spent most of the night arguing with Robert and Oliver about it. Your daughter does not know about this, she retired early the first night she arrived and I, nor Robert or Oliver will tell her. After two weeks here, my grandson is laughing more than I have ever seen him laugh and Oliver is actually smiling. Not that fake smile he gives society but the real smile. I cannot deny that she has been a positive influence on my family. It doesn't hurt that the value of our family's estate increased significantly with the introduction of Smoak East India."

A petite India girl, Priya, appeared next to them to offer them some chai tea from Calcutta. Moira had been introduced to all sorts of new tea varieties and spices that Felicity supposedly brought in for herself but Moira realised it was really for her employees so they had a little bit of their old home in their new home. Priya was an excellent worker and always accurately predicted what mood Moira was in. All of the workers that she had absorbed from Smoak Estate were hard working people. Robert had truly been impressed. Two days ago, Moira had learned the story of how Priya had come to England. Felicity had rescued the girl from an abusive husband. Priya had explained to her that all of the workers were rescued from one cruel punishment or the other. Felicity once brought a whole cargo of slaves and freed them. They worked for her somewhere in Egypt.

Moira was disturbed form her thoughts when Edward gave her a document. She unfolded it and looked at him surprised.

"I realise that I'm going to die here and it's going to take a few days for Isabelle and my other children to return for the service. I have left it up to them to hold it however they choose, but I want a private one held for Felicity. The instructions in the document are for this service. I've designed it so that Felicity can say goodbye and start to heal. The first few days, she will have no appetite but you must force her to eat. I had to practically spoon feed her soup when her grandfather died. That had been very sudden and difficult for everyone to deal with but I'm hoping that before I pass I can get my daughter to come to terms with this."

"She is very lucky to have you." Moira said.

"I'm very lucky to have her. She is all I have left of Donna. I wanted to honour Donna's memory by raising her the way Donna would have but I think I might have let Donna down a bit in the fashion department."

"Don't be ridiculous. As a mother, I can tell you she would be proud of the way you raised your daughter."

"Thank you for the comfort," Edward said to her focusing his attention back on his beautiful daughter. It was a pity he wouldn't get to see his other daughter grow up like this.

S-4

Oliver placed a comforting hand on his wife's shoulder. His father-in-law had just taken his last breath and his wife was in tears. He slowly turned her in to him so that she could cry on his shoulder, if she could reach his shoulder. He could feel the tears soaking into his shirt and the shuddering breaths she was taking. He wasn't sure if he should lead her out of the room or stay a little while longer. She didn't seem to want to leave yet so he just stood there holding her.

The doctor officially announced Lord Smoak dead and the arrangements were being made for his body. His father was writing the letter to George, Felicity's eldest brother to inform him of his father's passing. Oliver thought if they cared enough they would have come to visit before that happened. Oliver sat vigil with his wife until the body was removed. It felt wrong for him to leave her alone. He knew she needed him.

She had stopped crying; instead she sat staring sadly at the body. Occasionally a tear would leak out of the corner of her eyes and Oliver would flick it away before it could leave a trail down her beautiful face. Sometimes she would lean forward, hold her father's hand and talk to him. She knew he wasn't there anymore but it seemed to ease her pain. Oliver knew it would only be a matter of time before the warmth in his body left, leaving him cold and rigid. He needed to get Felicity out before that happened.

"Felicity," he said softly. Her sad eyes, red from crying, glanced at him.

"He's at peace now. He would want you to be happy."

"I know. It's just that once he's buried, he's really gone. I mean I know he's not there anymore. It's just a body I know but I feel like I need to take this opportunity to sit here because I'll never have the opportunity to look at him again. I know it's silly."

Oliver held her hand in his and squeezed it. "Whatever you need I'm here."

S-5

That night Oliver decided he would be the one to take her soup. She had skipped dinner, preferring to stay in her chambers. Her father had been removed and Isabelle had sent a representative to handle the matter. Felicity was seated at the edge of her bed, staring out the window. He walked around the bed and sat down next to her.

"I'm fine Oliver," she said without looking at him.

"I doubt you're fine. I know you will be fine but right now it's ok not to be fine," he said gently.

She turned to look at him, glancing down at the soup in his hands. She growled softly.

"Did father tell everyone about the soup story? All day everyone's been offering me soup!"

"And you've turned them down all day. It's time to eat. The cook prepared this especially for you, seasoned just the way you like it. You can't let all that work go to waste."

She reluctantly took the tray with the soup from him, placing it on her lap. She took a hesitant taste of the soup. Even though it was good, she didn't enjoy it. She ate because logically she knew she needed to. She ate in silence until she was finished.

"I've had a while to prepare for this moment and logically, I was prepared but there is this awful feeling in my stomach and even though I knew that it had to happen it doesn't make the feeling any better. I can't get the feelings to reconcile with my brain," she said tears starting to flow again. She was fed up of crying.

Oliver gently moved the tray away from her and pulled her close. "It's late, you should get some sleep."

"Tomorrow is going to be the first day of my life without my father," she commented sadly.

"Yes. I don't know what to say to make the pain go away Felicity," Oliver admitted his arm gently rubbing her lower back.

"You don't need to say anything," she said resting her head against his shoulder.

After a few minutes she started to doze off and Oliver adjusted them so that they were lying down with her head on his chest.

"Good night," She mumbled.

"Good night," he said. He had every intention of leaving once Felicity had fully drifted off but her breathing had lulled him to sleep as well.

S-6

Felicity stared at the black dress options that the maids had pulled out for her to wear to her father's funeral. Her mother-in-law was holding a private one for family and staff here and then they would go on to the main funeral that Isabelle and her brothers were holding at Smoak Estate the next day. She needed an outfit for that but she couldn't bring herself to pick one.

"Hello," a voice called timidly from the door.

"Thea," she said. She hadn't seen much of the girl since she moved in. She was always off on one tea party or another.

"I'm sorry for your loss," she said softly.

"Thank you," Felicity said. She still hadn't figured out how she was going to put up with all of the people who were going to tell her how sorry they were that she lost her father. She wrote the official notification of his passing the day before and sent it off to inform Barry. Oliver had personally visited her Uncle Henry in prison to deliver the news. He said her uncle was most concerned about her.

Thea chewed on her bottom lip, "Have you decided yet?" she asked nodding her head towards the dresses laid out on the bed.

"No, I can't process this," Felicity admitted, tears welling in her eyes again.

"Would you like some help?" the younger girl offered.

"Yes please, if you could just tell me what to wear,"

"The middle one," Thea said, "The one on the left is more for a single lady. You're married now. The one on the right is a bit too fancy. The middle one is just right."

"Middle one it is then," Felicity said weakly.

"If you need any help, I'm three doors down," Thea offered.

"Thanks, I'll remember that,"

S-7

Felicity originally objected to the private service that was being held for her to grieve with her new family but her mother-in-law had insisted that it occur. It was held in the gardens with a portrait for Edward on display. She sat in the front row with Oliver next to her. She was surprised when Connor came up to her,

"Ms. Felicity, I'm very sorry for you loss," Connor said sadly, "But he's probably in heaven with my mother,"

"Thank you. He's probably with my mother as well. I think it was the only thing he was looking forward to, seeing her again."

"When my mother died, everyone around me kept saying that they had to be there for me so I'm going to be here for you," and he climbed into her lap surprising her further. She wrapped her arms around him to secure him properly. Oliver frowned but Felicity told him it was ok.

Everyone was invited to say something and most of the staff that had worked under him felt comfortable to speak. The glowing tributes to her father made her cry but it also gave her the courage to speak as well. She babbled away about her father and growing up, her mind racing from one topic to the other. She recounted the first time she rode, Rano, her elephant, her father had nearly had a heart attack.

"Can I get an elephant?" Connor interrupted excitedly.

Oliver blurted out no right away and Felicity laughed at Connor's crestfallen expression. After she was finished, they served a lunch that consisted entirely of Indian food, all of her father's favourites. She had been surprised that Moira even knew about his love for that type of food. Thea nearly chugged a whole pitcher of water as the food was too hot for her. Moira managed to quickly drink several glasses of water very gracefully. Oliver showed no embarrassment when he ran to the kitchen for water. Robert laughed at his family as he happily ate the spicy food.

"I can't eat this?" Thea complained. The food smelled so good but she couldn't handle the pepper.

Felicity laughed, "You get accustomed to the pepper eventually. Perhaps next time I'll tell them to reduce the amount of pepper used to prepare the meal."

"Yes please that would be very much appreciated," Moira said as she placed her glass down in front of her and refilled it with more water.

S-8

A light knocking from the doorway between her room and Oliver's drew her attention to her husband.

"How are you?" he asked her.

"I'm good," she was sitting at the edge of the bed staring out at the moon again. Her father used to make up stories about the moon.

"We have to rise early tomorrow. I thought you would be asleep by now," He said sitting next to her on the bed again.

"I know. Tomorrow's the last day. He'll be buried tomorrow."

He drew her close to him. She leaned her head on his shoulder while he traced patterns on her arm. That night she again fell asleep next to Oliver.

S-9

Isabelle had planned a long service to highlight Edward's life but what she was really doing was highlighting why the Smoak's were important. Felicity was relegated to the third row pew with Oliver. Isabelle sat in front with George and his future wife Rose. Catherine, Felicity's younger sister and Henry, her second oldest brother also sat in the first row. The second row contained the rest of her brothers and Lord Wilson. This effectively placed Oliver right behind Slade Wilson, a man that he really wanted to avoid at the moment. Felicity could feel the tension emanating off of her husband. She reached for his hand, squeezing it lightly. He gave her a wry smile. She understood. Oliver might have eventually caved to Lord Wilson's desire to marry Rose but here they were, he was married to Felicity and Rose would marry George. It was a really interesting situation especially since Lord Wilson was known to hold many grudges.

The Eulogy was given by George. He prattled on for a long time about the Smoak name. If you listened really closely you might have found a few facts about Edward Smoak. After the torturous service was over, it was on to the burial, which would be held at Smoak Estate. All of the Smoak's were buried in a small cemetery located on the corner of the property. Oliver held her close as she watched her father's coffin being lowered into the ground.

"Haven't you two connected quickly?" Isabelle spat at her from the other side of the opening. The front was filled with only family.

"Lady Smoak, I'm married now. It is to be expected." Felicity replied politely. From a child Isabelle had always insisted that Felicity refer to her as Lady Smoak.

"Don't think for a second I'm going to let you get away with what you manipulated your father into. Smoak East India belongs to your father's rightful heir. I will get it back," she threatened.

"Lady Smoak!" Moira admonished from behind Felicity, "this is definitely neither the time nor the place to be discussing business matters."

Isabelle glared at her but remained quiet after that. When the first shovel of dirt was thrown on the coffin most persons started leaving. Felicity and her new family were the last people to leave as she waited until his grave was full with dirt and his head stone was put in place to say her final goodbye.

No one noticed the figure under a tree watching them closely.

S-10

Three days later their bags were piled up on the dock as they waited to board their yacht, The Arrow. It was a beautiful three masted clipper that had belonged to her Uncle Henry. She loved this boat having spent many hours on it with her Uncle, Grandfather and Barry. They were brining Connor with them for two reasons; Tommy wanted to meet him and Oliver was afraid to leave the boy home. Diggle was also coming with them as a security precaution.

Felicity was looking forward to teaching Connor how to sail. She promised him plenty adventures over the next month. They had a fairly short voyage up to Scotland but the waters would be rough. Oliver had wanted to travel via stage coach which was the normal route but Felicity preferred the sea. She felt at peace and at home. With all the changes recently, she felt she needed this to reenergise herself.

"Felicity," a tall man with greying hair called out to her on the docks. It was dawn, the sun was now rising so the dock was full of activity.

"Uncle Damian, I wasn't aware that you were in England." Felicity said.

"I heard your father was sick so I came as soon as I could. I was hoping to make it before he passed but unfortunately that did not happen. I heard the funeral was a few days ago."

"It was," she answered sadly.

"I also heard that you have married. I never thought that would happen." He commented.

She smiled, Connor started pulling at the bottom of her dress, "Oh, Uncle Damian, this is Connor, my step son."

"Hello Connor," Damian greeted him. "Are you going sailing?"

"Yes," Connor answered, "I'm going to steer her."

"That's a tough task. That's a fast ship. The only ship faster is The Flash. Speaking of The Flash, have you heard from your cousin Barry."

Felicity frowned, her Uncle had never inquired about her mother's side of the family before, "no" she replied cautiously.

Her Uncle nodded and appeared to drop the topic. "Are you running off to the mainland?"

"No. Oliver and I are going on a short trip to Scotland. I need to clear my head." Felicity said.

Her Uncle nodded understandingly, "Where is your husband?" Damian said looking around.

"He's below deck seeing about the food reserves. We should be boarding soon."

"Safe voyage then, I have a few matters to attend to in London. I should be here for a few months. I'm staying with General Shrieve. We should catch up when you get back."

"Yes," Felicity responded politely.

"I don't like him. He was creepy." Connor said to her when her Uncle was far enough away.

"Who was that?" Oliver asked coming down the plank that connected The Arrow to the dock.

"That was my father's only living Uncle."

"Uncle?" Oliver said doing a double take at the man that had walked away. "He looks younger than your father."

"He is. The story is complicated. My great-grandfather lived insanely long. He always had a wife though. Every time one wife died he replaced them with another younger one. It caused huge age gaps in his children. There is a fifty year difference between his eldest son and his last son, Uncle Damian who was actually born after my father. My great-grandfather had handed over the running of the estate to my grandfather long before Damian was born. When my great-grandfather finally died, Damian was still young so my grandfather let his mother and him live on the estate until he was old enough to fend for himself. My grandfather and father's brothers died before Damian came of age. When my father took over, Damian helped father manage some of the estate but he left before I was born. Father had some form of dispute with him, I don't know what but every time he visited he would always stare at me. He always said I inherited his intelligence. His only saving grace was that he and Isabelle did not get along at all. For that reason alone, I looked forward to his visits. I wonder how the funeral would have been if he had come."

"We're ready," Oliver said bending down to pick his son up onto his shoulders.

"Yay! Its adventure time!" Connor shouted as Oliver ran up the plank with him.

Felicity shook her head. Boys would be boys.

S-9

It warmed Oliver's heart to see Connor and Felicity laughing together. Having just left the dock, they were up on the bow of the boat, her favourite place. She was so beautiful. She was definitely a treasure and now she was his treasure to protect. He vowed that he would not fail her the way he had failed Sandra. He came up behind them and wrapped his hands around her to rest of Connor's shoulders. He was literally holding his family in his arms.

"We can't stay up here too long. It's going to get rough soon," he warned them.

"I know," she said leaning back into his embrace which pleased him.

"This is fun. Does the boat always rock?" Connor asked.

Oliver laughed, "It's going to rock a lot more than this pretty soon," he told his son who lit up in excitement.

Half an hour later, Felicity rubbed Connor's back as he sat on the starboard side of the boat staring at land. He didn't feel too good. Oliver was steering the boat trying to give them the smoothest ride possible. She could see he was enjoying it.

"Don't worry," she said to Connor, "Sometimes it takes a little while to get accustomed to the sea,"

By night fall they would be docking in Scotland. The port that they chose to stop in was still a little distance from the estate that the Queens owned so they would have to travel the balance of the journey via carriage.

S-10

Lord Eobard Thawne was attending the monthly meeting with the others. There was a lot of business to discuss and as usual some members were missing due to business arrangements on the continent. After an hour they came to the last item on the agenda.

"Oliver Queen survived the trap that we set for him but it appears the near death experience has caused him to drop his investigation," the man who was in charge of the task to keep Oliver at bay reported.

"He took his new wife to Scotland that might have something to do with the little break,"

"That is a curious choice for the kid, he barely knows his new wife. It's hard to believe he would give up trying to prove his best friend innocent."

"It should be noted he didn't want to get married in the first place,"

"Don't forget his wife was also investigating us,"

"There partnership could prove troublesome to our plans. Perhaps we should issue another reminder to Mr. Queen that we are watching him."

"A riding accident for his son?" someone suggested.

"Our contact says he took his son with him,"

"A breakaway horse for his sister's carriage,"

"I was hoping to court Lady Thea," a younger member piped up.

"Our Scottish associates could visit the Queen property," a man with a heavy accent said.

"That can be arranged,"

With nods of agreement on how to handle the last item, the convener adjourned the meeting.

Two members remained a little longer.

"Are our end of summer plans in place?"

"They are,"

"Good it's time to say farewell to the excess baggage,"

Chapter Text

The travel to Scotland was much longer than Felicity had anticipated. Connor had started to feel better half way through the journey and it had been difficult to keep him occupied. He tried both hers and Oliver's patience. Once the boat had docked, Connor ran down the plank on to land. He promptly started complaining that the ground was rocking like the boat.

Oliver laughed, "It will be like that until you get accustomed to being on the ground again. By tomorrow you'll be fine,"

They did not send anyone ahead to notify the caretakers of the house that they would be arriving. Oliver wanted it to be a surprise. As a result they had to source their transport themselves. The crew would stay behind with the boat and prepare for the voyage back in two weeks. Felicity sensing the opportunity for business had taken several orders for items from Scotland. The orders would be shipped in their storage hold. She trusted her crew to handle that business while she was occupied at the Queen property in Scotland.

It was mid morning by the time they arrived at the property. It wasn't as large as the main estate but it was still large enough to represent the wealth of the Queens. The elaborate wrought iron gate and the impressive stonework over the main entrance spoke of the opulent family that owned the house. Diggle offered Felicity a hand as she got off the carriage since Oliver's hands were occupied holding Connor. The boy was ready to run off after a few wild rabbits they had seen on the way in.

Oliver strode forward and knocked on the door. He waited some time and then knocked again.

"No one home?" Digg asked.

"I think they are here. After Tommy and Laurel arrived, I brought all of the staff at this house back to England. I wanted Tommy to live in anonymity."

"You mean it's only him and Lady Laurel in this large house?" Felicity exclaimed.

The door swung open and a heavily pregnant woman with light brown flowing locks was revealed. Oliver was stunned.

"Ollie," the woman exclaimed before reaching forward to hug him.

Oliver made no attempt to return the hug. He was staring at her swollen stomach.

"Father, who is that?" Connor asked.

Oliver was still rudely staring. Felicity nudged him with her elbow and that seemed to bring him out of his stupor.

"Sorry, I just hadn't expected to see you in this state," Oliver said.

"Pregnant. You can say it Oliver, I'm pregnant and yes, this belongs to Tommy. I assume this is Connor." Laurel said addressing the young boy.

"Yes, how do you know?"

"Do you think we don't hear about what goes on in London?" Laurel scoffed. "The gossip reaches all the way up here."

"Then you would have heard news of my recent marriage to Felicity?" Oliver questioned.

From the widening of Laurel's eyes he concluded the answer was no before she confirmed so.

"Married again? The Ollie I remember was dead set against marriage," she commented, her eyebrows drawing together in confusion.

"Lady Laurel Lance, I would like to introduce you to my wife, Lady Felicity Queen,"

Laurel gave a small curtsey, "It's a pleasure my lady," she said before turning to Oliver, "It's Lady Laurel Merlyn now but to our neighbours we are Mr and Mrs George and Mary MacRob.

"Come in," Laurel said, ushering them inside.

"Tommy," Laurel shouted at the top of her lungs, "we have a visitor!"

In the distance a voice shouted back, "If its Mrs. Crotchet with the haggis tell her we don't want any!"

"That wasn't very prim and proper," Oliver teased, "the Laurel I remember wouldn't be caught dead doing anything the Ton would disapprove of,"

"Unfortunately, doing what the Ton approves of will kill me," Laurel pointed out as she motioned for them to follow her. "I need to maintain the appearance that my husband and I are staff you hired to maintain the property. If I act like a Lady it will arouse suspicion. Fortunately, we only ever interact with merchants. We avoid anyone that might recognise us. It's a good thing Lords and Ladies are oblivious of maids and butlers."

She led them down a corridor to a room that was situated at the back of the house. Inside the room, a man and a young boy were sprawled out on the floor playing. Oliver sucked in a breath. He hadn't expected another child. This one was a good mix between Laurel and Tommy, with Tommy's hair colouring and Laurels' nose and ears.

"Play!" Connor said drawing everyone's attention to him.

Oliver and Tommy's eyes locked. The latter man was off the floor in a second before he was embracing Oliver in a tight hug.

"Ow!" Connor cried out in pain. Felicity somehow managed to slip her hands between the men and retrieve her step son. Both men were lost in their own little world.

"Oh Connor, you're heavy," she groaned as she propped him on her hip. He was bigger than your average four year old. He definitely took after his father's build.

The other boy on the floor came over to Felicity and tugged on the bottom of her skirts, "Play," he said pointing at Connor. The boy was younger than Connor, maybe about three but he seemed genuinely interested in Connor. Felicity released Connor on the floor and both boys set about playing on the floor.

"That's James," Laurel said proudly to Felicity. "He's our first born. This one is due in about two weeks,"

"We'll be here for the birth then!" Felicity exclaimed.

Laurel gave her a wide smile and glanced at her husband, "Should we interrupt them?"

"I think they deserve their time. We can keep the boys company,"

After the surprise had worn off, Laurel led them upstairs.

"I'm sorry but I haven't been able to clean all the rooms recently. There is only one room available. Tommy and I can move out of the master bedroom tonight."

"That's alright," Oliver said stopping in front of what was his room when he visited with his parents. "Stay where you are. We are visitors here. Felicity and I will be fine. It doesn't seem like James will mind sharing his room with Connor. I will need one of the servants quarters for Diggle though."

"He can use the one nearest to the kitchen. It should be the easiest for me to clean."

"Diggle can attend to his own needs. I wouldn't want to send you into an early labour," Oliver told her.

Laurel gratefully accepted Oliver's offer. Felicity glanced into the room that she would be staying in. Had she not spent that last few nights sharing a bed with Oliver she might have felt embarrassed but instead she felt comforted that he would be close by in a strange house.

S-2

Oliver and Tommy sat in the small study each with a glass of scotch in front of them. Oliver took a sip and revelled in the burn as it slid down his throat. He had not been able to enjoy simple pleasures like this with Tommy in over five years.

"Who would have ever thought that men such as us would be fathers?" Tommy asked him.

"Certainly not I!" Oliver agreed.

"And now Laurel's pregnant with our second. I can tell you I thought she might have killed me a few times with her mood swings,"

Oliver shifted uncomfortably. He did not have any experience with pregnant women. Sandra had already been four months along when she informed him of the pregnancy. She was in her seventh month when she married him, moving into the room next to his. Fortunately, Tommy didn't seem to want Oliver to share his experience with a pregnant wife as he continued reflecting.

"It's amazing how everything changes when you hold them for the first time. I had been resigned to the fact that I would never get Merlyn estate back but when I held James, I knew I had to make every effort to prove my innocence." Tommy said seriously.

"Let's leave that topic for tomorrow, I just want to enjoy this moment," Oliver said.

"So second wife?" Tommy said wriggling his eyebrows suggestively at Oliver.

"Tommy," he replied in a warning tone,

Tommy ignored his friend, "I never expected you to settle down yet you have a son and a new wife, how'd that happen?"

"You know how it happened? You've said you get the gossip up here,"

"I do get the gossip up here but months delayed. I didn't know you remarried or the circumstances that lead to it. It was only three months ago that we found out about Sandra's death. Laurel wanted to return. I had to spend days reminding her of the danger we faced,"

"It would have been unwise to return," Oliver agreed.

"I swore you would have remained unmarried," Tommy said.

"Oh I had every intention of remaining a widower but as life has done over the last few years, it refused to let me have my way."

"She's not pregnant is she?" Tommy asked.

"No, we haven't even.." he broke off before he could finished the sentence.

Tommy however was having none of it. He was going to drag it out of Oliver, "You haven't what?"

"Tommy," Oliver warned again.

"Oliver we have always been able to talk to each other about everything. What is it you haven't told me?"

"Lord Edward Smoak summoned my father and I to his estate to propose that in exchange for marrying Felicity, we would receive Smoak East India." Oliver said.

Tommy's eyes widened, he was familiar with the reputation and wealth of that company. "So you married her for the company?"

"Of course not!"Oliver protested.

"I married her because her father's dying wish was that I protect her. I promised her father I would save her from being left to the whim of her step mother."

"So you haven't consummated your marriage then?"

"No,"

"You have turned into a Saint since the last time I saw you. The Ollie I know would have had that woman naked in an hour,"

"I am not that person anymore."

"If only Lord Smoak knew he didn't need to offer you the company."

"I think he did. The company wasn't really offered for my sake but more his daughters. Felicity is the true businessman... businesswoman," he corrected himself, "behind that business. Felicity was entrusted to me to protect and that is what I will do, even if I have to protect her from me,"

"I've been gone five years and now you're sprouting garbage about your wife needing protection from you."

"Tommy, Sandra was killed because of me."

"It was a riding accident,"

"It was no accident," Oliver spat.

"How can you be so sure?"

"Because Sandra had been begging me for another child; she needed another child to show the Ton that all was well with us. I acquiesced because it kept her from asking questions about my whereabouts and activities. Sandra had told me the morning of her death that she suspected she was pregnant. She would not have gone riding recklessly. You are aware how my mother struggled with pregnancy and lost most of her children before her fourth month. Sandra was determined not to have any complications."

Tommy's mouth opened and closed like a fish. He was at a loss for words.

"Don't worry about it. I've had a long voyage. I think I will retire for tonight. Good night,"

"Good night," Tommy replied automatically.

Oliver left Tommy alone in the study.

S-3

Oliver opened the door quietly and found Felicity had already fallen asleep. He knew she was much more tired than she let on. Her hair was out of the braid, loose about the pillow. She was curled on to her side facing the window in the bedroom. He guessed she had fallen asleep looking at the moon. She liked to do that.

He divested himself of his day clothes, slipping into the night clothes Felicity had left out for him. He had discovered in the last few days that she was a heavy sleeper. His movement on the bed never stirred her making it easy for him to hold her. He was beginning to realise that he was growing fond of snuggling next to her at night. The thought of staying in separate rooms as Lord and Lady no longer appealed to him.

S-4

Felicity awoke the next morning to find the sun high in the sky. Oliver was not in the room but from the state of his pillow she knew he had come and left. She rose and dressed for the day before wondering back to the foyer. A delicious smell wafted her way and she followed it back to the kitchen where she found everyone else.

"Good evening!" Tommy joked with her.

"Good morning, my Lord," she responded.

"Good heavens, No! You can't call me that. I'm Tommy, George if anybody else is around." He told her.

"What is that delicious smell?" she enquired.

"It's either the hot chocolate or the bacon," Laurel responded.

"We plan to take the boys for a walk to explore the highlands a bit," Oliver said to her with an apologetic look, glancing quickly at Laurel then back to her. She got the message loud and clear.

"Enjoy your little adventure then. I'm sure Laurel and I have much to discuss,"

After the boys had left, she helped Laurel with her kitchen tasks. Felicity was downright awful. Despite her will to do things for herself, most of her employees refused to let her in the kitchen. Anything she required they readily brought for her.

They eventually settled into the sewing room where Laurel was knitting a sweater for her son while Felicity entertained herself with a book on the history of the Scottish Clans.

"What was your wedding like?" Laurel asked her. "I always regretted not being able to have the whole Ton attend ours. Tommy and I were married at a vicar on our way here. Our witnesses were two drunken men that Tommy pulled out of a pub. Our wedding night was spent in a barn because we were hiding from constables. It was not the most romantic night of my life like I had always imagined it to be."

"My wedding was small and private," Felicity answered.

"Did you wear a nice white dress?"

"I wore a dress," Felicity responded.

"You've been married a month now?" Laurel asked

Felicity nodded.

Laurel smirked, "If I know Ollie, you'll be with child soon. He could scarcely keep his hands off of beautiful women even when we were betrothed."

Felicity blushed and turned back to the book she had been reading but she couldn't focus on the words on the page. Her mind was distracted by Laurel's last comment. She hadn't thought about that part of their marriage even though technically she had begun to share a bed with her husband. She supposed she had blindly trusted him but he had never shown any signs of being interested in her. He only showed concern for her well being in a general way as a friend would show. Perhaps she was not to his liking. Isabelle always told her she wasn't attractive. She didn't have a voluptuous chest like most women, her younger sister was certainly larger than her and they were twelve years apart. Her butt was too big. Isabelle often said she could rest her tea cup on the curve of Felicity's butt. Physically she probably was not up to Oliver's standards.

She had never cared about these things before. If she had had her way, she never would have married but now she was and she was wondering if her husband liked her. It was easy to be attracted to Oliver, you had to be blind and deaf not to find him attractive. She knew her husband had needs. As his wife she was expected to fulfil them but he hadn't made any demands of her. She was sure he didn't have a mistress. He had been home every night since the incident with the gunshot wound. She had listened carefully to all the conversations happening around her listening closely for any lady requesting his company. There was none. No perfume notes arrived either. Her husband did not have a mistress at the moment.

Her father in-law was a different matter. She had already caught the whiff of three distinctly different perfumes on him in the evenings and none of them belonged to Moira. She seemed most indifferent to the mistresses but that's probably because she was getting extra special attention from the main butler, Walter. One never thought that a Lady such as Moira would stoop to sleeping with the help but in a way it kind of worked better than if she went with an established member of society. Moira and Walter were very good at hiding their little indiscretion. Felicity had only figured it out by chance right before they left for Scotland and she was fairly sure neither Robert nor Oliver knew anything. She could only imagine how angry Robert would be if he ever found out. That was probably one of the reasons Moira chose Walter too. It would piss Robert off. It can't be easy for her to face the Ton with a husband that seems to wander around so much.

Felicity knew she would not stand for that type of behaviour from Oliver but if she was not fulfilling his needs, how could she tell him he couldn't fulfil it elsewhere. Marriage was a lot more work than she thought it was. There were so many things to balance.

The Laurel's baby started kicking and soon Felicity was caught up in a conversation about what pregnancy felt like while she had her hand on Laurel's stomach.

S-5

The next day, Oliver decided to stay in with Laurel while Felicity got a chance to explore the countryside. She had been to Scotland before, but not this particular part. He knew she was itching to get outside by the length of time she patiently sat with Connor. She was completely enamoured with his son's tall tales of his adventures outside. He watched from the window of the sewing room as she disappeared over a hill with Tommy and the boys. He hoped they didn't wander off too far, he wasn't sure how long he could handle's Laurel's extreme pregnancy mood swings or how long he could watch her sew. He was fairly sure he was going to receive a very thorough lecture on the proper way to treat his wife. At some point Sara was bound to come up in the conversation and he felt very uncomfortable talking about Sara with Laurel.

Sara's ruination had been his fault. He had sent her to talk to Lord Mark Scheffer. The man had a known connection to The Russian as his plantations in the West Indies was supplied with slaves sourced by The Russian. Oliver knew he couldn't broach the subject with Lord Scheffer but he knew some Lord's tongues became quite loose when women were around so he was hoping Sara could pry it out of him. They were at the Queen Christmas Ball. Oliver had given Sara permission to take the Lord to billiards room where a nice decanter of scotch was left out. The Lord would explain to Sara how billiards was played while he drank, and Sara would start asking him questions about his plantations. They had not expected Isabelle to interrupt them or the highly exaggerated version of the Sara doing illicit deeds to the Lord on the billiard table.

Sara had left shortly afterwards. Her sole focus was on finding the Russian and proving Tommy innocent so that Laurel and Tommy could return. Oliver had done wrong by Tommy and the Lances. He only hoped he didn't repeat any mistakes with Felicity.

S-6

Felicity walked among a patch of wild daisies while the boys chased after butterflies. The smell invoked feelings of comfort, warmth and safety. She remembered the day her grandfather explained they were her mother's favourite flower. Donna had always been putting them near her crib when she was a child. Her friend, Caitlyn, whose father was a doctor, told her that smell was a powerful memory trigger. Perhaps the daisies were triggering her earliest memories of safety and love.

"Tommy, may I ask you a question?" Felicity asked.

"I believe that was a question," he smirked back at her.

She rolled her eyes at him but still proceeded with her question, "I thought Laurel was supposed to marry Oliver. Why..."

"You want to know why Laurel married me instead" Tommy said cutting her off.

"Yes,"

"It was because of Laurel's status in the Ton, that she was betrothed to Oliver but she never truly loved him. She was in love with the idea of becoming Lady Queen. The title would have given her a tremendous boost of power within the Ton. The three of us were always close. I couldn't imagine leaving England forever without saying goodbye to Laurel. When I went with Oliver to explain what happened, Laurel decided to leave with me. It was only supposed to be a short time. She was supposed to come back but we fell in love. Sara discreetly came to visit us after a few months when Laurel had missed the proposed return date. It was difficult for her to accept but she did and she returned to London. She promised she would help us return to London. A year later we heard about her ruination. We haven't heard from her since she left. She didn't want anyone tracing her letters back to us. I know she's in contact with Ollie though. I'm fairly sure, Laurel and Ollie are having a long conversation about it now."

The field of flowers were bordered on one end by a Celtic rainforest where tall oaks stood. The boys had moved on to chasing after some wild rabbits now.

"Most ladies hate this. They prefer to send the governess chasing after their children,"

"I am not most ladies," she beamed at him, proud of the compliment.

"Felicity," Connor called out excitedly pointing at the tree line up ahead where a tiny red head was seen looking at them.

Felicity's stomach immediately sank and she picked up her speed realising what Connor was about to do, "No Connor, leave it alone," She called out. Tommy continued at his leisurely pace at a loss for what was about to happen.

Connor didn't listen. He dashed after the fox leaving a confused James behind. The fox bolted into the forest and Connor right after it. Despite her running start she was still about 30 feet behind Connor. She passed James who was scooped up by Tommy. As she broke through the tree line panic rose when she didn't spot Connor immediately. She immediately clamped down on it. Both her grand father and uncle had taught her that she needed to think clearly in a difficult situation. She listened closely and heard growling nearby. She followed the sound and found Connor trying to approach the fox that was guarding her den. There appeared to be two kits in the den.

"Connor," Felicity said softly. "Please come with me," She wasn't sure how the fox would react to any sudden movements.

"But I want to touch it!" the young boy said bravely stepping closer to the fox.

"She won't let you touch her. She is guarding her young. Does your father let people touch him or you?" she asked the little boy.

Connor appeared to think that over before responding "no,"

"She is the same. Please respect her wishes," Felicity pleaded with her step son.

Connor looked torn.

"Baby come to me," Felicity said. She dare not move closer for fear that the fox would strike out at Connor.

Connor turned and sprinted towards her. She was thankful that the fox didn't pounce when her stepson turned his back.

"Don't ever do that again! I know I am not your mother, but please listen to me. I have your best interest at heart."

Connor nodded. In the distance she could hear Tommy calling her name. He must have come into the forest looking for them but it sounded like he went the wrong way.

"Come, let's go fetch Uncle Tommy,"

After they had found Tommy, Felicity correctly oriented him so that they could exit the forest. Just before they broke through the trees they were stopped by a hunter with a burning torch.

"Good Day, Mr. MacRob, I'm looking for a fox, you haven't by chance seen one?" he asked.

Connor was going to respond but Felicity quickly bent down and struggled to pick him up. Her move successfully distracted the young boy from talking about the fox.

"There's no hunting on these lands, MacRory. Lord Queen would very much appreciate it if you pursued your hobby on your own lands."

"Sorry must have gotten turned around chasing the fox. Is this Lady Queen?" MacRory said holding the torch closer to her to get a better look. It was daylight so Felicity had no idea why he had a torch with him. She instinctively held Connor a little tighter as she stared at the man.

"Yes," Tommy responded tersely.

"Strange place to meet you Lady Queen, but it's my pleasure," he said giving her a polite bow.

Felicity gave him a hesitant smile, "I'm sorry but we really need to go. Its lunch time and these two young gentlemen need to be fed."

She walked ahead quickly knowing Tommy would follow her.

"He's strange," Felicity said.

"Yeah he has a thing for fire. Always has a torch with him."

Something about the entire encounter struck her as odd. She could feel the man watching her as she headed through the field back to the house. That night after she told Oliver about the incident, he insisted that either Diggle or himself should always be with her.

S-7

It wasn't until the next day that the five of them were able to sit down in the parlour after they had finally got the boys to bed early. Felicity remembered the gossip of the Merlyn massacre. Isabelle was fond of hosting tea parties to uphold her high position in the Ton. Felicity had found it particularly interesting to ease drop on some of their parties. Whether or not the women realised it, they had some important information that Felicity had limited access too. She first heard about the massacre at one of the tea parties. Her intuition told her that Tommy held the answers to some of her questions but she needed to start before the massacre. The circumstances leading up to the event were equal if not more important than the details of the deaths themselves.

Laurel was reclined on the sofa with her feet propped on her husband's lap. Diggle was standing by the door like a diligent bodyguard. She and Oliver were seated on separate chairs opposite the pregnant couple.

"It has been an exhausting day," Tommy declared,

"You're not carrying around an extra 3 stone!" Laurel replied bitterly.

"One more week darling," Tommy said rubbing her feet soothingly. "Our son will be here soon."

"What makes you think it's a boy?" Laurel retorted, "I want a girl."

Oliver laughed at his friends. Despite having been married before, he and Sandra never had that type of relationship. They barely had any meaningful conversations. If Sandra wanted something Oliver saw that she got it. He tended to focus his energies more on the investigation than on a building a relationship with his wife. He could see now that he had made an error. He had probably treated Sandra worse than his father treats his mother. In the short month they had been married, he had grown very fond of Felicity's presence. He could not imagine not including her in anything.

"I hate to spoil the mood, but I need to know about that day Tommy?" Felicity asked seriously. It was time to get down to business.

Tommy's whole countenance fell.

"Why?" Laurel snapped at her. "Why must he be forced to go through that nightmare again? We are safe and happy here."

"Laurel," Tommy said drawing his wife's attention away from his best friend's wife, "You know why. This house isn't even ours,"

Oliver was about to remind Tommy that the name on the deed didn't matter, it could be his forever but Tommy wasn't even having any of it, "I want to reinstate my name. I want our sons to grow up where I grew up. I want them to be free. Besides if someone offers me more haggis, I just might commit murder,"

"It really doesn't taste bad," Felicity said matter-of-factly.

Tommy gave her a stern look, "I liked you right up until that comment Lady Queen,"

"You know you still like me," she teased him.

"If Felicity, can help me solve this problem, then I'm willing to relive the nightmare. What do you want to know?"

"Let's start at the beginning," Felicity said.

"When I discovered the payments to Unidac?"

"No, what your father's routine was like before he died,"

"That is a long time ago, I can scarcely remember,"

Laurel snorted, "that's because you and Ollie were drunk entitled boys that enjoyed bedding anything that spread its legs,"

"Ignore those spurious accusations," Oliver advised Felicity. He didn't want his wife's good opinion of him being tarnished. He could handle everyone else being disappointed in him. For some reason he didn't think he could handle her being one of them.

"I believe my father was like every other Lord, boring," Tommy said.

"Was there anything he did differently?"

"Differently how?"

"My father, grandfather and Uncles were at the races every season, they hunted when they were supposed to and went to all the balls required of them. In other words, they did what was expected of them. Did you ever see your father do something you never expected of him?"

"Other than the secret gambling club with Dr. Wells, I don't think so,"

All colour drained from Felicity's face at the mention of Dr. Wells. If her mind was supplying her with accurate information, Dr. Wells was murdered two weeks after Lord Merlyn. It couldn't be a coincidence.

"Dr. Wells," Oliver asked trying to remember why that name was important. "I don't remember hearing about any illicit gambling."

"I don't think your father was included,"

"How come we didn't participate in it?" Oliver asked curiously. The two of them were infamous for pursuing all sorts of sinful activities.

"Why would I want to gamble with my father?"

"Point," Oliver said shutting his mouth.

"How did you know about the gambling?"' Felicity probed.

"I saw him come home a few times with Dr. Wells. They always had money with them. It wasn't fresh bills like you get from the bank. It was like what you received when you won your bets."

"Tommy, I need you to focus now, did any of the influx of gambling funds correspond with payments to Unidac?"

"I don't' know. I would have to look at the books again," Tommy admitted.

"Oh," Felicity face fell. That didn't sound promising.

"I have a copy with me here. I can review them this week but I'm warning you, I only remember a few times. There was this one time that I remember clearly because Ollie and I landed in jail that night," Tommy said.

"Jail?" Felicity questioned.

"Never mind that," Oliver said quickly, "Lets continue to focus on the main topic, no matter how morbid it is."

"Did you ever see anyone else talk with your father and Dr. Wells at the same time?"

"I think I saw Lord Snart with them once," he said.

Felicity was vaguely familiar with the Snart family. Her father had mentioned that Isabelle had wanted to marry her off to Leonard Snart, the current Lord Snart's younger brother. If she remembered correctly, the previously Lord Snart had died in a riding accident one month after Dr. Wells had been murdered.

"How did your parents die? I'm afraid I was out of the country when it happened."

Tommy swallowed, "My mother was the patroness of an orphanage. My parents were exiting the building when a deranged man accosted them. He claimed they had taken his son away from him. My father was stabbed 8 times, my mother twice."

"What happened to the man?"

"He disappeared,"

"He certainly wasn't deranged then," Diggle spoke for the first time since they started. Both Oliver and Felicity agreed with his assessment.

"What are you saying?" Laurel asked.

"A deranged man would have been caught. He probably would have stormed that orphanage to find his missing son but a man who slips quietly away after brutally killing two people is an assassin."

"Who runs Merlyn estate now?"

"My distant 3rd cousin from Essex. I hear he's doing a piss poor job of it too," Tommy said.

"Don't worry, my father and I are keeping a close eye on things."

"I think we should stop for tonight," Felicity said.

"But I haven't even got into how I found out about Unidac or the subsequent events,"

"I know," Felicity said, "But you've given me a lot to process as well as a few ideas for moving forward."

Before either of the married couple could insist that they wanted to finish the story tonight, Oliver stood and offered his wife his hand. If she was ready for bed, they would retire for the night.

"Good night," he said.

As the door closed, Tommy looked at Diggle, "Is he always this protective of her?"

"Yes," Diggle responded.

S-8

During the course of the rest of the week they had to pay a visit with the other prominent families that were vacationing in Scotland as well as with a few Scottish Lords. Tommy managed to get Oliver into a kilt and then dared Felicity to find out if it was true that men wore nothing under the kilt. Felicity turned beet red, if it wasn't for the pregnant Laurel that stood between the two friends, Oliver would have throttled his friend for embarrassing his wife like that.

It was at one of these visits, on a walk through their host's gardens that Felicity asked Oliver a question that had been bothering her.

"Do you not find me attractive, my Lord,"

Oliver eyebrows rose, where was this question coming from? He wasn't sure how to answer the question. Felicity had started off their relationship by being honest about everything in her life. He knew he should do the same as he didn't want lies tainting the relationship they were slowly building. "I find you very attractive Felicity, why would you ask me that?"

"It's just something Laurel said," his wife responded as she tried to look away from him at the flowers around them to hide her blush.

"I promised your father that I would protect you. I will not force you to do anything you do not want to do." He said firmly.

She turned her head to look at him again. She was clearly thinking over her response. "What if I want to do a little more?" she asked shyly,

"If it's you asking, you can do whatever you want," Oliver said. An excitement started bubble within him.

Surprising Oliver, Felicity sprang forward and crashed her lips against his. He barely had time to respond before she had withdrawn with an apology. Oliver frowned. He held her hand to prevent her from turning away from him. When he was sure she wouldn't run away, he cupped her face in both of his hands, his thumbs rubbing circles on her cheeks.

"Don't be so hasty," he said to her drawing his face closer to hers. "This is how it's done,"

He gently touched his lips to hers before slowly moving them against hers. He coaxed her into the kiss and soon his tongue was brushing against her lower lip. She gasped in surprise but Oliver decided to end the kiss there. He pulled away slowly, enjoying the flushed look on her face.

"Later, we can explore this more," he promised her, dropping a soft kiss to her forehead. He definitely wanted to enjoy their first kiss a little bit longer but the gardens of a strange Lord's estate where they could be interrupted at any moment was not the place.

He linked his hands through hers and continued moving through the gardens. Night couldn't come fast enough.

S-9

A few nights later, the door to their bedroom flew open. Oliver quickly sprang from the bed, knife in hand as he readied himself for a fight.

"She's in labour," a dishevelled Tommy declared.

It was Felicity's turn to spring from the bed. She grabbed Oliver's clothes, shoving it in his free hand. They had previously agreed that Oliver would fetch the Doctor and Midwife, while Felicity attended to Laurel. Tommy would be left to pace outside the door or keep the children occupied if they were awake.

"Get changed!" Felicity ordered Oliver when he hadn't moved yet. He was still partially stuck in defense mode.

Felicity made her way towards the room where she knew Laurel was. The pregnant woman's face was screwed up in pain as a contraction hit.

When the pain passed, she looked at Felicity, "I was hoping my water wouldn't break at night. These sheets are ruined now," she quipped.

Late the next day, Tommy held his newborn daughter in his arms while an exhausted Laurel rested. The boys played on the floor while the adults gushed about the new baby.

"Rebecca Sara Merlyn," Tommy declared to his friends. He had agreed the name with Laurel when he was allowed to enter the room shortly after she had given birth.

"She's gorgeous," Felicity gushed.

"Would you like to hold her?" Tommy asked.

"Oh no, I couldn't hold something so precious. I might drop her. I've dropped all sorts of things, once it was a sack of potatoes another time I ..."

Oliver shared a look with Tommy. While Felicity prattled on about the list of things she's dropped, he circled his hands around her, holding on to her arms.

"Wha, wha, what are you doing?" a flustered Felicity asked.

"You'll be fine," Oliver whispered in her ear. "Think of it as practice for our children,"

Felicity blushed. They had only just started kissing with maybe a little bit of touching. They hadn't even consummated their marriage yet and he was talking about children.

Tommy stepped forward, placing his daughter in her arms with Oliver's arms supporting hers.

"Make sure you support her head," Oliver told her softly, gently adjusting her arm. He had learnt to hold Connor when Sandra was otherwise occupied.

Once Rebecca was securely in place, Oliver stepped back much to Felicity's displeasure. Felicity had never been allowed to hold any of her siblings. Isabelle had forbid it. She had told her she would drop them. She even went so far as to say that Felicity would be an awful mother with zero maternal instincts. She had grown accustomed to holding Connor but he was a lot older and wouldn't be seriously hurt if she dropped him. She doubted she could drop him though, that boy had a strong grip for such a young child. Rebecca started to fuss a little bit and Felicity instinctively rocked her, calming her a bit.

"Your maternal instincts are naturally kicking in Felicity," Oliver said to her.

"If she's anything like James, she's going to be screaming her head off for food in a matter of minutes. I'll take her back up to Laurel now," Tommy said taking her away.

Felicity turned towards the boys, "Do you like your baby sister James?"

"No, can the stalk take her back now?"

Felicity laughed, "I'm afraid she's here to stay,"

While James complained that he was stuck with a baby sister he didn't want, Connor thought for a minute, "She's not that bad. Maybe if she were a boy you would like her better." He then turned towards his father, "Dad, can I get a baby brother?"

Felicity quickly started playing with James. She was new to the parenting responsibilities. Oliver was answering that question on his own.

S-10

Saying goodbye was a lot harder than they thought it would be. If they didn't have to attend Rose Wilson's wedding they would have stayed longer. Oliver left the house full of food for them and he hired a few locals to help with the workload. Felicity promised to send some more help as she expected a boat full of workers from Asia to arrive in a month.

Connor and James were the most difficult to part. The boys had grown attached at the hip. Both Tommy and Oliver had to hold their crying sons to keep them apart. They promised they would visit the following summer. Neither pair would know that they would see the other a lot sooner than they thought.

S-11

The voyage back was significantly quieter. Connor seemed to be sulking about his return while both Felicity and Oliver were deep in thought about everything that had occurred in Scotland. Besides the obvious mystery to solve, they had become closer as a couple. Things were progressing quickly between them. It was only a matter of time before they would be truly married.

Soon they were back at the port, which meant in two days she would be seeing her siblings and step mother again. As long as Oliver was with her, she knew she would be able to handle them.

"Ohhh look what boat is that?" Connor said excitedly as they came in view of the port. He was pointing to a beautiful five masted boat.

"That is the Flash!" Felicity said excitedly. That meant Barry was home.

As soon as the boat docked and the plank was lowered Felicity ran down to the dock towards the Flash.

"Barry," She yelled at the top of her lungs.

A thin scrawly guy emerged from the bowels of the boat.

"Felicity," he called.

She flew up the plank onto the deck of The Flash and encased Barry in a bone crushing hug.

"Felicity, I'm so sorry for your loss. I came as soon as news of your father's illness arrived. When I arrived here the Dockmaster told me I was too late. I noticed The Arrow was not anchored in her usual spot so I assumed you took her for a sail."

"I did, I hope you haven't been here long?"

"Only a few days, I visited father. I even went into the company to sort out the different manifestos." Barry smirked, "So, Mrs. Queen, how is married life?"

She punched him in the arm, "Don't start with that,"

"I told you one day you would become a kept woman!" he teased her.

She stuck her tongue out at him,

"Such unladylike behaviour! What would Lady Smoak say if she were here?"

"She wouldn't care. I'm a Queen now!" she boasted.

Barry chuckled, "Already with the kept wife attitude. Where is your husband?"

"Oh, I left him on The Arrow with Connor," She looked down the dock towards the Arrow. "Wait right here I'll be back,"

Five minutes later she returned with an excited Connor and a grumpy Oliver to perform the formal introductions. Barry tried to squeeze Oliver's hand to intimidate him but it was like trying to squeeze stone. Oliver levelled him with his strongest glare.

"Stop it now boys. Barry I don't care where you're staying, you're coming home with us. We have a lot of very important things to discuss. Pack your stuff and meet us on the dock. Oliver please get my notes from The Arrow for me."

Barry arched his eyebrows at her before looking at Oliver, "You let her boss you around like that,"

Oliver sighed, "Don't you?"

"Touché,"

S-12

That night Felicity, Oliver, Barry, Diggle and Robert settled into the study.

"Barry everything is connected," Felicity said,

"Everything?" Barry questioned he was missing something.

"Dr. Wells! His death wasn't some accident. Lord Thawne was aiming for Dr. Wells. He meant to kill him. Pinning it on your father was the cherry on top the cake!"

"That's where I knew Dr. Well's name from," Oliver exclaimed.

Four pairs of eyes, levelled him with fierce glares. If it were any other man, they would have died from the intimidation. Oliver merely stood his ground.

"Wait, how do you know this?" Barry asked his cousin.

"Lord Thomas Merlyn is Oliver's best friend. He was framed for the murder of his family when he discovered his father had been making payment to Unidac. I think his father was laundering money. His father, Dr. Wells and Lord Leonis Snart were all involved. They all died within months of each other. This is no coincidence. We took the wrong approach when trying to free your father. We thought it was an accident. We tried to get witnesses to state the truth. What if we can prove that it is a part of something larger and use that evidence against Lord Thawne to clear both your father's and Tommy's names."

"So you want me to look into Unidac?" Barry said.

"No!" the whole room replied.

"I'm confused," Barry said.

"Everyone that has looked into Unidac has had an untimely death. Felicity was almost made a widow because of an enquiry I made." Oliver said.

"The group we are looking for know we know about Unidac. Asking about it is only going to get us killed. We need to find another approach."

"Barry I want you to investigate Dr. Wells and Lord Leonis Snart,"

S-13

"Lord Queen, can I speak to you in private a moment?" Barry asked Oliver the next day at breakfast.

"Certainly,"

Oliver lead Barry to his private archery range. Nobody came there except him.

"What is it you would like to discuss?"

"My father, I know that it will not reflect well on the Queens for Felicity to keep providing for his safety in prison. I myself am not willing to leave England this time without him. We either clear his name or I break him out. The Allen's have built a good name in Africa. He has served time for a crime he did not commit. It's time for him to come home to his family. He told me you visited him. He liked you. Can you help me convince him that if it comes down to breaking him out that he will let us do that for him?"

"Barry, I...,"

"Just think about it. I'm here for at least another month," Barry said walking away back into the Mansion.

S-14

The Queens arrived at St. Margaret's Church in fine style. As expected, there were many Lords and Ladies in attendance. This was the last social event of the summer. Lord Chase offered to escort Lady Thea inside but Oliver declined his offer. Felicity followed her husband as he selected a row that was next to the side entrance. She didn't think Isabel would particularly care whether or not she sat in front with the rest of the Smoaks. Both Robert and Oliver sat at the end of the pew, Robert on the centre aisle side and Oliver near the exit. Felicity, Thea and Moira sat in the middle. Both Oliver and Robert glared off anyone that dared to sit with them.

The wedding had been going smoothly until a group of masked men entered the church with pistols right before the couple was supposed to say 'I do'. Felicity immediately felt Oliver tug her to his side.

"I want your jewels!" a man everyone presumed was the leader of the group exclaimed.

"This is my daughter's wedding!" Slade roared, "You will not insult her and me with petty robbery."

Slade moved towards the men along with a few other men that sprung up from other pews. Things happened a lot faster than Felicity thought they would but one moment she was sitting on the pew the next, Oliver had tugged her, Thea and his mother down. Robert had followed suit. Pistols were being fired and people were screaming. It was utter chaos. Felicity was thankful that Oliver was so vigilant and they sat near an exit. He timed the pauses in the battle, grabbing both his sister and her hand, keeping them crouched low, and heading for the exit. His parents right behind them.

The last thing Felicity saw before she fled was Lord Wilson, dead on the ground from a bullet through his right eye.

Chapter Text

It had been two days since Oliver got Felicity and the rest of his family safely out of the church. Oliver had commandeered the nearest carriage and they made their escape without looking back. Felicity's only source of information for what occurred after she left was the newspaper in front of her. The lower class was calling it God's Massacre, claiming it was punishment for all the nasty cruel things the upper class regularly did. Payment for all the privileges the upper class invoked.

The newspaper had a quite thorough description of the incident; it made Felicity wonder who their source was. She knew that the newspaper wasn't usually very accurate in its reporting but this account was absolutely correct, well correct up to the point that she left the church. She was assuming that the rest of the account was just as accurate. Only someone from inside the church could have provided these details to the paper, perhaps someone that sat in the back.

There was a complete list of the persons that had died during the incident were:

Lord Slade Wilson, his wife, sons and daughters.

Lady Isabel Smoak, her sons and daughter.

Lord Floyd Lawton and his wife, they were survived by a young daughter.

Lord Richard Chase and his escort

Lord Eobard Thawne

There was a long list of Slade's servants that had died including his head butler Wintergreen and his stable master Sebastian Blood. The servants had tried to stop the masked men but they had planned their attack perfectly. It was clear that the first 3 pews at the wedding were the targets. The men had travelled with enough loaded pistols to efficiently execute their targets quickly and escape. The robbery was a guise. From the account in the papers there were at least ten men.

It was a miracle they were able to get out. The police had questioned them at length about the incident especially since they should have been seated at the front of the church. It was her brother getting married after all. Fortunately it was well known that Isabelle was not very happy with her at the moment and it was an easy sell that due to the tense relationship between them, it was decided that Felicity would sit with the Queens further back so as not to upset the Mother of the Groom.

Felicity had been severely rattled by the experience. Any loud noise made her jump, sudden movements scared her and darkly dressed individuals made her want to run for cover. Her husband was hesitant to leave her alone for too long. He had panicked last night when he didn't find her in her bed chambers. She had gone to bed earlier than usual having not been able to sleep the night before at all. She couldn't find any comfort in her room so she moved into her husband's. His scent on his pillow had easily coaxed her tired body to sleep but she was rudely awakened by Oliver's loud cry for her. He had held on to her very tightly when he finally found her.

Despite being in her husband's arms, peaceful sleep was still difficult to come by. She had awoken thrice to Oliver calming her down from a nightmare. She kept seeing Lord Wilson's one good eye staring up at her lifelessly, a pool of blood surrounding his head as blood oozed from his other eye. Despite her many travels, she had never witnessed the deliberate killing of a human being. As she was crawling down the length of the pew, she had glanced up to check on her siblings. She saw one of the masked men level a pistol at Isabelle's head and fire. She knew there was no hope to save them.

Word was sent to her Uncle Damian to return to England at once, he was supposed to be in France on business. With her brother's dead the estate now fell to him. It would be his responsibility to make the necessary arrangements for the burial of the previous heirs. The loud knocking of the front door echoed down the corridor to the study where Felicity was. She jumped from her seat before her brain could register it was just someone knocking on the door. Her heart had begun to beat so fast she thought it might beat out of her chest. She briefly wondered how her husband had survived his ordeal with The Russian.

Felicity inhaled deeply and tried to focus on something pleasant. That was how Oliver taught her to control her panic. They had learned a lot in Scotland and it was time to start acting on the information. She needed to send a coded message to a friend in Spain but first she needed to get a book from the library.

/S2/

Diggle strode quickly forward to answer the loud banging at the front door, the person was apparently very impatient. Most of the staff had been sent on errands, leaving him to handle more than what was usually required of him. After the massacre all of the Lady Queen's had been startled. Moira Queen tended to want to be alone, which was probably why, when staff should be home to add a layer of protection, she had done the opposite and sent them all away. She didn't want anyone seeing her vulnerable. Thea Queen had taken it the hardest. She had locked herself away in her room. Oliver was currently looking for some sort of guard to stay with her but there was no one they trusted. Oliver knew he couldn't keep both Thea and Felicity safe at the same time. Diggle knew that Oliver's wife was the strongest of the three women and soon Oliver's worry would grow when she decided to continue her quest to find evidence to release her beloved Uncle from jail.

Diggle answered the front door, a pistol tucked into the inner pocket of his coat, to find a middle aged woman of fair complexion with brunette hair tied in a low knot at the base of her skull in front of him. From her simple frock, he knew she wasn't in Oliver's social circle.

"I'm here to see Lord Oliver Queen," she said firmly. She held a steady gaze on him. Most men wouldn't look him in the eye, for they thought he was beneath them, so it was highly unusual to find an Englishwoman holding his gaze.

"May I ask who calls upon him?" Diggle said in a respectful tone.

Her eyes darted around taking in her surroundings before she answered him. "I am Miss. Lyla Michaels, sister to Barrister Mark Michaels. I have urgent business with his Lordship,"

Diggle eyed her carefully. She wouldn't be the first woman to try to see Oliver but she would be the first one to try under the pretence of official business.

"Where is your brother?" Diggle asked.

Lyla flinched at the mention of Mark, "He could not come in person. I am not here to harass his Lordship, I am here to deliver a letter," she said showing him the letter that was addressed to Oliver in messy handwriting.

Diggle observed the letter and the woman who carried it carefully. His gut told him that she didn't pose a threat. "Come in. I will inform the young Lord Queen of your presence."

He escorted the woman to the library, leaving her there and going in search of Oliver, who he knew was practicing his archery. The archery range was outside of the study, and Oliver could hone his skills and keep an eye on his wife at the same time. Diggle had also observed that Felicity also seemed to enjoy keeping an eye on her husband as well.

/S3/

Lyla observed the many books on the various shelves in the library. There were more books in this one place than in the public library that her brother used to use when he was younger. She recognised some of the titles. They were classics her brother had told her about. She knew how to read but reading never interested her as a child. They were from a middle class family. She was one of six children. All of her brothers were barristers and her one sister was married with four children living in Sussex. She had followed everything her mother had told her but she had never been able to garner the attention of a man. Perhaps it was because she wasn't as well polished as other women. She was very rough around the edges. She tended to like to do work with her hands.

In her early thirties, she was officially a spinster. Her parents had died a few years ago leaving their modest home to their eldest son. Her relationship with her eldest brother was not the best and that was the reason that lead her to live with one of her other brothers, Mark. In return for the lodging, she handled everything around the house for her brother, who even though he was turning forty was still a bachelor.

The door opened behind her and she turned around expecting to be greeted with the tall man that used to dominate the gossip in London but was instead met with his current wife.

"Oh I'm terribly sorry, I didn't realise anyone was in here," she said with a startled expression. Her head glancing behind the door to make sure no one was going to jump out at her.

Lyla curtsied, "No need to apologise my Lady, this is your house,"

"Oh no, this isn't mine. This belongs to Oliver's parents. I'm merely living here because, well, it is what is expected of me, is it not?"

"You would much rather reside somewhere else?" Lyla asked her.

"I'm not sure anymore. I always thought home was where my father was but considering he's six feet under, I don't think that would make a good home for me, well at least not while I'm alive, I'm sure it would be suitable if I were dead."

"Felicity please stop talking about being dead. It does not leave me feeling very happy," Oliver said coming into the room and dropping a kiss on to his wife's temple. The couple stared at each other for a few seconds before remembering there was a gust in the room.

The scene caused Lyla to smile. She noticed that the man that greeted her at the entranceway, stood at the door with a smirk on his face.

Lyla curtsied, "Good morning my lord,"

"Good morning," he replied pleasantly, "what is this about?"

Lyla glanced hesitantly at both his wife and the man she thought was the head butler.

"My wife and personal Valet are my confidants. They can be trusted." He told her.

"I am Barrister Mark Michaels sister. Lord Wilson entrusted my brother with an envelope," Lyla said revealing the small brown envelope that carried the Wilson's family seal on the back to him.

"Lord Wilson used the same Barristers that my family uses. I'm not aware of him having any dispute with them."

"I cannot answer that question. I can only relate what I know, which is that Lord Wilson came to my brother two weeks ago and wrote this letter in both his and my presence. He then sealed and issued the specific instructions that in case of his death, it was to be taken to Lord Oliver Queen. My brother was brutally murdered this morning and I believe it has to do with the contents of this letter. Whoever did it, didn't want you to receive it. They were unaware that my brother had already passed on the letter to me to deliver. I think he sensed that something wasn't right," she said handing it to him.

Oliver took the letter from her and was about to rip it open when his wife stopped him by placing her hand firmly on his arm.

"Miss Michaels, did this letter come with any further instructions?" Lady Queen asked her curiously.

"No just that my brother was to take it to Lord Queen immediately upon his death."

"Oliver you cannot open this here. You need to take it to the police and break the official seal there. No one should be able to cast doubt on the validity of this letter. Miss Michaels should also go with you to testify that the letter did indeed come from Slade and was written by his own hand."

"Felicity," Oliver said impatiently, "We don't know what's in this letter,"

"I know, but if it's something important, we need it to be honoured. I don't think it a coincidence that two weeks before his death Lord Wilson went to a Barrister that was not his own and wrote this letter. It has to have some importance for him to do that."

Lyla closely watched the interaction between the married couple closely. His wife never removed her hand from his arm during their entire conversation.

"Your wife is correct my Lord," Lyla said, "Lord Wilson's actions do indeed imply that this letter is of importance. I've also seen my brother win many a case by casting doubt on the authenticity of documents. Hand writing experts are making a mint these days by testifying in these cases."

Oliver sighed and Lyla knew he was going to follow his wife's counsel.

"Diggle send a message to my father to meet us at the House of Lords. We will open the letter there. Have the carriage brought around. We leave immediately."

The valet that she now knew was named Diggle nodded and left the room immediately. She wondered if he took the name Diggle from the small English village outside of Manchester. It was a common practice for Africans brought to England to be renamed with an easier to pronounce name. The room had fallen into silence before Lady Queen addressed her.

"My husband and I are very sorry for your loss," she said. "What makes you think your brother's murder was connected to this letter,"

"Because the men that broke into our house asked specifically for the letter," Lyla revealed. The shock of this morning's incident had yet to truly sink in.

"You were there?" Felicity asked horrified.

"I had gone to collect bread from the bakery down the road. The servant's entrance into the kitchen was ajar when I returned and I don't think the men realised that I had slipped in. My brother had already passed the letter to me to arrange delivery. He gave the men a fake one and they killed him right after. I hid in the storage cabinet as they left. I made my way straight her afterwards." Lyla explained watching a lone tear slip down the Lady's face before her husband brushed it away with his thumb.

"Do you have anywhere to stay?" her ladyship asked her.

"I know Mark left the property to one of our other brothers. I was going to ask him to remain there as tenant," Lyla indicated.

"That may not be safe. With your testimonial to the veracity of the letter, the men might return to eliminate you." Oliver pointed out.

"We are all in danger anyway and there's plenty of room here. You can stay. I'll hire you as my Lady's Maid. I have yet to select one and my mother-in-law is going crazy over that fact."

That was the last offer Lyla had been expecting. "Thank you, your offer is very gracious but I,"

"No buts, my wife is once again correct. Your safety is actually in our best interests at the moment. You would be safer here. A room can be prepared for you while we are away. "

Feeling she had no choice she accepted but she needed to find out what exactly a Lady's Maid did.

/S4/

As Oliver waited for the carriage to come around to the main entrance his wife arrived besides him.

"I'm going to the company," she said answering his questioning look. "We were gone for awhile; there are matters that I need to review. Barry left early this morning to investigate a lead on Dr. Wells. He'll be meeting me there later."

Oliver was not happy with this bit of news. Felicity took his hands in hers, "I'll be safe. I promise. You can escort me to the company, it is on the way and Barry will bring me back. I'll even ask Sanjay and Kumar to accompany us."

"I don't have a choice do I?" he commented wryly.

She smiled at him, "in this matter, no you do not." She reached up onto her tiptoes and gave him a chaste kiss.

/S5/

Lord Quentin Lance had lost his entire world when his daughters disappeared. Like Moira Queen, his wife, Dinah Lance, was not blessed with a womb that could carry many children. Dinah had been pregnant three times. The first two deliveries went wonderfully but on her third delivery there were severe complications. His one and only son was still born and it left his wife unable to bear anymore children. When Laurel had been taken, he developed a close working relationship with Constables in the police department. He found he enjoyed the work very much but when Sara also disappeared after her ruination, Lord Lance found comfort at nearly every tavern in a 5 mile radius of his estate. Somehow through it all though, he had managed to get an honorary position of liaison between the police and the Lords of England. It was because of this position that he had been called to the House of Lords along with the Chief Inspector to review a letter left by the late Slade Wilson.

Lance openly glared at Oliver Queen. He knew the boy knew where Tommy Merlyn had taken his daughter. He also suspected that he knew where his other daughter had run off to. He had tried several times to apply pressure to get the answers he desired but had no luck in obtaining them.

There were quite a few Lords present that day, reviewing some new law they wanted to enact. They were all invited to the reading of the letter.

"Let's read this letter shall we?" Quentin said gruffly.

Oliver broke the seal and started reading the letter out loud.

To Lord Oliver Queen,

Kid, I've got myself into a real tangle this time and in case everything does not go according to plan, nobody betrays Slade Wilson and gets away with it.

9 years ago I was recruited into a group of people who sought to change the direction in which the country was headed. They called themselves HIVE. Our group was merely one cell in the HIVE. We believed that England had lost most of its power in the world and sought to bring back the glory days where England ruled most of the new world. To achieve this goal, my cell and I were involved in a lot of operations to destabilise both the Spanish and French monarchies.

My cell consists of Lord Floyd Lawtner, Lord Richard Chase, Dr. Jerry McGee and Lady Isabelle Smoak, (though Lord Smoak and the rest of his family, including your wife, were unaware of her activities). We were called Deathstroke and we achieved many of the goals that HIVE set for us.

I recently discovered that there was a previous cell before ours that had consisted of Lord Malcolm Merlyn, Dr. Harrison Wells, and brothers Clyde and Mark Mardon. There had been a disagreement between that cell and the HIVE hierarchy that resulted in the elimination of that cell. That cell went by the code name Unidac. I really should have figured that out sooner but HIVE keeps all the cells separate.

I have never been able to discern much about the HIVE hierarchy other than the fact that England is controlled by Lord Darkh. I had met Lord Darkh once. He was of average build and height. The mask he wore concealed everything but his blue eyes.

I have to apologise Oliver. It was I, who lied and said that your dear friend, Tommy Merlyn, murdered his family, it was I, who laid the trap for you to be caught by The Russian and it was I, who murdered your first wife. Both Tommy and you were targeted for your questions about Unidac. It might also be of interest that Sara Lance is the innocent victim of a plot that Isabelle Smoak instigated against her.

One final note of interest kid, your current wife is someone of importance to the upper hierarchy of HIVE. We received specific instructions that she was to remain unharmed.

I close with a warning to you kid. This group is serious and they will kill you but I hope you find whoever is responsible for this and arrange the most painful death possible.

Lord Slade Joseph Wilson

The room was silent as each man present absorbed the information that had been read.

"Tommy is innocent!" Oliver proclaimed.

"We need to confirm the authenticity of this letter first," the Chief Inspector said.

"Its authentic, Ms. Michaels is here to confirm it," Oliver said.

"Inspector, the letter is authentic. Most of the Lords here recognise this untidy scrawl. My daughters can come home!" Lance said. He then rounded on Oliver.

"Lord Queen, where is Tommy Merlyn?"

Oliver was about to answer when his father cut him off.

"For the last time Quentin, my son and I do not know where Tommy Meryln is. Put a message in the paper exonerating him and I'm sure where ever he is, he'll hear the news and return to England safely along with your daughters."

Lance growled but he heeded Robert's advice, making a hasty exit and heading straight to the nearest newspaper.

/S6/

Felicity spent her time at the company reviewing all of the messages that came in from their overseas partners and set about responding. Her staff had been efficient as usual and everything had been neatly filed away for her review. There was cargo booked for the next six months for all of her ships along with a very long waiting list of customers. It was time to pay Lord Palmer a visit to inspect the new ships she was going to be adding to her fleet. She really needed them.

Barrister Raymond came into her office to update her on another matter that he was seeking her interest in. She was trying to reacquire all of the property that had once belonged to her grandfather. The current family that lived in her grandfather's house was refusing to sell. Ronnie was negotiating the matter on her behalf. She didn't want word about what she was doing to get out. The sentence her Uncle had received was grossly unfair and now that she knew it was a part of a larger plot, she was more determined to return the assets to their rightful owners.

At lunch time, as promised Barry arrived with news of a lead he had discovered while chatting with Dr. Well's widow who had remarried. The lead would take them to the docks. Dr. Wells used to visit a ship there that docked every fort night from France. The boat was there that day and neither one wanted to let the opportunity pass. Felicity did take Sanjay and Kumar with them just in case.

Dressed in large brown coats that didn't draw any attention to them, they watched the movements of the crew for a couple of hours. Workers were busy unloading heavy crates from the box, placing them on the docks where another set of workers moved the crates to a nearby warehouse. There was no sign of the Captain or the First Mate. Felicity was curious about the cargo that was being transported and soon came up with a plan to find out.

Barry and Felicity walked over to a worker unloading crates from the boat, "Excuse me sir, do you have any Brie?"

"Brie?" the worker asked, angry at the interruption of his work.

"I know it's not very English of me but I'm quite fond of the soft French cheese. I saw the French name of your boat and I was wondering if perhaps you had some brie I could purchase?"

Just as the worker was about the tell them to get lose, a boy jumped off the port side of the ship onto the docs. He landed on his feet and used his momentum to roll forward to avoid injuring himself. He jumped up quickly and ran towards the end of the docks.

"Dirty rat!" a man screamed at him. He looked at the workers on the dock, "what are you waiting for, go after him. He stole our wages!"

The workers on the dock scurried after the thief. Felicity eyed the crate curiously wondering if this could be her opportunity to get a look inside one.

"What'd you want little miss?" the man on the deck called out to her.

"Nothing," she replied back. He seemed to be a gruff man who would reveal no information to him.

She looked down the docks to see the thief disappear down a side street, an idea coming to mind.

"Follow me Barry,"

/S7/

He ran down the streets at top speed. He knew he would lose his pursuers soon. The streets near the docks were wide to accommodate the transhipment of goods to and from the port. Once one started to move away from the port the streets became narrower. He was aiming for a specific section of the city that was filled with criss-crossing narrow alleyways. It was easy to disappear in there. Sailors tended to stick to the main streets that held the brothels. They didn't know these back alleyways the way he did. Two more turns and he would be home free.

After his discovery on board the ship he had made an earlier than planned exit over the side of the ship. He belatedly realised that in his haste to get away, he should not have run down the docks. It would have been quicker if he had run across the main dockyard. He supposed he didn't want to have to dodge the guards he knew were usually placed there but the yard was been big enough to successfully avoid them.

He made the turn into the narrow alleyway and waited in the shadows. Usually, his pursuers would continue on not having noticed him duck in there. He let out a breath of relief when they did in fact continue on the main street, not even sparing the alleyway a glance. He slowed his breathing and let his beating heart calm down a bit before continuing further into the maze. Suddenly, he was being thrust up against the wall by two Indian men, a sharp metal blade pressed against his neck. He cursed himself for dropping his guard. He should have been paying more attention to his surroundings. The bounty that he had stolen was soon removed from his hands by a thin man and placed into the hands of a woman. From the smoothness of her hands, he could tell she was well to do.

"Let's get off the street shall we," she ordered.

The men tied his hands behind his back and then dropped the knife to his left side between his ribs. It would be easy to kill him from that position. They just had to press the knife in between his ribs and angle it up to his heart. He would be dead within minutes. They walked out onto the main street, the lady and gentlemen both handed their coats to their Indian servants and walked down the street in front of them as Lord and Lady. He noted bitterly that no one paid him any attention. He was just the poor street rat walking a little ways behind them. They probably thought he was their servant.

He noted sourly that they were heading back towards the dock. They would probably take him back to the boat, hold him captive until they set sail and then toss him overboard once they were halfway through the channel. Sailors were a dangerous kind to rob, particularly sailors like these that carried dangerous cargo but he had been desperate. He could see the boats ahead now but before they reached to the dockyard he was pulled into a building. Looking at all of the crates, he realised he was in a warehouse, probably the warehouse they held goods in. He was shoved into a chair, while both men stood on either side of him.

"What do you want from me?" he asked.

"I only want information," the Lady said.

He snorted in disbelief. He knew what happened to thieves. He had lost quite a few good friends over the years.

"What is your name?" she asked him.

"Roy Harper," he answered honestly. They should know his name before they killed him.

"I'm," the slender Englishman placed his hand on her arm, "I don't think you should give him your name," he said earnestly to her.

"Nonsense, however will I gain his trust?" she asked him. "Besides no one will believe that a street urchin such as him had a one on one conversation with Lady Felicity Queen,"

"I'm no kid, Lady Queen," he spat at her. Street urchin was usually the term used for the children that lived on the streets.

She leveled him with a curious stare as she cocked her head to the side, "I imagine if we were to clean some of this dirt off of you, you would be no older than my sister-in-law?"

He snorted, "I am a man,"

She eyed him again, "I suppose you would feel that way. You've probably had to fend for yourself for years."

"I don't need to explain anything to you," he said.

"No, you don't but I would like to know what was on board that ship?"

Roy's brow creased together in confusion. That was an unusual question to ask.

"Ah, we have a thinker!" she said happily. "I'll trade you this bag of coins for that information."

He eyed the bag. "This is some sort of trick?" he asked.

"No, no trick. I want to know about the cargo that ship was carrying. I suspect you may have seen something when you were snooping around on board."

"I could tell you anything," he replied.

"You could but I'll eventually find out the truth and then my friends here would be very happy to hunt you down for me. They used to hunt tigers in the Bengal forest. I can assure you they are quite violent in their methods," she said with a sickly sweet smile plastered on her face. Years later he would realise that Lady Queen was only bluffing.

"Pistols, gun powder and rats," he answered honestly.

"Don't they clean their ship properly?" Barry asked horrified. They made sure that their fleet was well maintained. A single rat could eat through their precious cargo. Rats were filthy disease carrying animals that they actively eliminated.

"No, the rats were in cages. They were well fed. The rats were part of the cargo." Roy said.

"Interesting," Felicity commented weighing the information in her head.

"Release him,"

The men did as they were told and his hands were untied. She held out the bag of coins that he had stolen.

"A deal is a deal," she said.

"You're giving me the money that I stole."

"Yes, I'm certainly not going to walk up to them to give it back," She responded.

He chuckled.

"Roy," she said, "if you need a job, come to Smoak East India. I always need competent hands,"

"You would trust a thief?" he asked in disbelief.

"Ah but you're not just a thief, you're a thief that thinks, though you would have been much better off using the yard as your escape route,"

"Ah," he nodded.

He took his money and quickly made his exit. He carefully opened the door to make sure none of his debtors or pursuers were around. When he realised it was clear, he slipped through the door. Just before he slipped out, he heard Lady Queen's voice commenting that her husband was going to be unhappy with her little information gathering session today.

/S8/

Felicity was happy that she arrived home before her husband. If he had been there before her he would have been very grumpy at her prolonged absence, she should have been home hours ago. She made her way to her chambers and changed into her riding clothes. She felt like spending the rest of the afternoon with her step son. She was fortunate that they were now coming to the end of the summer and that the sun would still be up for another hour. In another month or so, it would be dark by now.

She found Connor and his governess easily. She was teaching him numbers today. Memories of her father teaching her flooded her mind. He was always pleased when she understood what he was teaching her.

"Felicity," Connor said his eyes lighting up. She had been so caught up in the massacre she had neglected him. It was wrong of her she realised. She had a responsibility to Connor that she should never ever forget. At least she knew Oliver had checked in with his son for a few minutes each day. He had also asked the Governess to keep all of her lessons indoors.

"Connor, the horse is being saddled, I have a secret place I want to show you," she said with a gleam in her eyes.

"Yay!" he said jumping up and down excitedly. He had been dying to get outside to play.

She excused the governess and took the boy by his hand. On the way to the staircase she passed Thea's room. She hadn't spoken to her since the incident. Like her, Thea was suffering with nightmares from the wedding. Last night she had woken up when her husband had hurriedly left their bed in the middle of the night. After a moment of confusion, her ears zeroed in on the sound of Thea's screams. Making her mind up quickly, she knocked on the younger girl's door.

"Go away," Thea said weakly from the other side of the door.

"Thea, it is Felicity and Connor. We would very much like for you to join us on a little ride? she asked through the door. "Some fresh air will be good for you?"

"Please Aunt Thea, Please, it would be so much fun," Connor pleaded.

The door swung open and a dishevelled Thea, looked at them. Connor switched to his best begging face and she acquiesced right away. She had never been able to deny her nephew.

Twenty minutes later they were both slowly trotting through the fields at the back of Queen Manor on their horses. Connor seemed to sense Thea's mood and decided that he would ride to their secret destination with Thea and back to the Manor with Felicity. To make up for her reckless abandonment of her step son, Felicity had asked a few of the stable hands to prepare a little steeplechase for them on the northern fields. Her horse was a trained jumper. Connor always wanted to ride fast and chase after foxes. She was going to show him horses were capable of much more than that. She had instructed the stable hands that the jumps were not to be too high because she would be riding with her step son.

Thea paused when they came upon the obstacles.

"What's this?" she asked curiously.

"My little surprise for Connor," she said holding her hand out for her step son to jump across to her horse.

She settled him in front of her and held on to him securely. Since the jumps were low, her horse would not need to be at more than a trot to make them. They started off slowly towards the first obstacle.

"Felicity there is something in the way," the little boy pointed out.

She smiled. Her step son tensed when he realised they were going to hit it but at the last minute her horse jumped up in the air over it. Connor squealed in surprise and tried to look back to see what happened to the obstacle.

"We jumped over it!" he said astonished.

"Yes,"

"Can we do that again?" he asked excitedly.

"There's another one up ahead," she said.

Connor again squealed with delight as the horse jumped. He threw his hands in the air as they went over almost hitting Felicity in the face. Thea was in a fit of laughter as she watched them.

"This is a fantastic idea!" Thea said as she brought her horse into a full out sprint. In less than a minute she had jumped all of the obstacles.

"They need to be higher!" Thea complained.

"Yes higher!" Connor exclaimed.

"Not while I'm holding you," Felicity replied.

"Perhaps we can have one course for Connor and a larger more elaborate one for us. There's plenty of room."

Felicity smiled at her sister-in-law, "Maybe you could work on that," she suggested.

"Maybe I might," Thea responded coming to a stop where Felicity and Connor where, "and Connor can help me" she reached out and started tickling her little nephew.

They were full of laughter when they tumbled in through the main entrance of the Manor. Oliver and Moira had been in deep discussion and both raised their eyebrows at them but they could see a smile tugging at their lips. Oliver picked up his son and spun him around in the air the way he liked it before placing him back on the ground.

"Dinner will be ready shortly. I suggest a change of clothes." Moira said sternly "Will you be dining with us tonight Thea?" she asked her daughter.

"Yes, my Lady," Thea said exaggerating her curtsey before heading to the staircase with Connor and Felicity.

Thea's room was the first one they came to. "Thank you for this afternoon,"

"Anytime," Felicity said, "I better get this little one to his governess, he takes longer than either of us to get ready!"

Both women laughed again, while Connor pouted.

/S9/

After dinner those involved in the investigation retired to the study. Their numbers had grown with the addition of two new members, Barry Allen and Lyla Michaels.

"I feel like we should inform your mother and sister," Felicity said to Oliver.

"I do not want to worry them," Oliver replied.

"After everything that's happened you still think it is a good idea to keep them in the dark?" Felicity asked outraged.

"Why don't we suspend this discussion for another day, Oliver and I will think about it. The pressing issue is the letter," Robert intervened between the married couple. He sensed his daughter-in-law was not going to let Oliver get away with such a flimsy excuse.

Felicity sighed, today she would let it go. "What did the letter say?"

Oliver smiled, "I had a copied made just for you, Felicity."

He handed her the letter. He was anxious to hear her thoughts on the contents. When she was finished she passed the letter on to Barry. She was quiet for a while.

"Is it not strange that Lord Wilson's letter never made mention of Eobard Thawne?" she asked.

"Maybe he forgot him?"

"It's more likely that he didn't know about him. He was very specific in his letter. He made sure to burn as many people as possible. This letter would have caused quite a commotion if the Hive Hierarchy hadn't effectively eliminated everyone he named. Barrister Michael's death was probably arranged by HIVE. They knew about Slade's letter. The hierarchy also removed Thawne but I wonder why. Was he the head of another cell? If he was, what about the members of his cell?"

Barry angrily slammed the letter down on the desk, "Lord Thawne is dead. There is no way to get my father out of jail."

"Barry, we can track down..."

"No you can't," Barry shouted "There is nothing that can be done now other than to break my father out of prison,"

"You know he doesn't want that," Felicity said softly.

"He'll have no choice, I'll get him out even if I have to knock him out and throw him over my shoulder to do it," Barry stormed out of the room furiously.

Felicity stood to go after him but Oliver put his hand gently on her shoulder stopping her. "I'll talk to him tomorrow. Give him some space. Let's retire for the night."

She reluctantly backed down and accepted Oliver's arm. They bade good night to the other occupants of the room.

"So how was your day?" Oliver asked her as they walked up to his bed chamber.

Felicity looked like a deer caught in headlights.

Oliver groaned, "What did you do now love?"

An hour later, Felicity was tucked into his side, sleeping. However, sleep was eluding him. There were several things on his mind. The most troubling one was his wife's penchant for seeing the best in people. It was an admirable quality but a quality that their enemies could easily take advantage of. He had been extremely angry that she had gone to the docks, confronted a thief and then offered him employment, all without him to protect her. She had promised him that she knew what she was doing but it still unsettled him.

She tensed besides him, a signal that she was about to start another nightmare. Oliver quickly started stroking her back softly. He had discovered that the contact soothed her. He regretted attending that wedding. He never wanted his family to witness such an atrocity. She relaxed against him, burrowing her head closer to him, her cold nose brushing his neck. She loved his warmth. He had told her she was free to use him as a source of warmth whenever she wanted. The blush she gave him made his heart skip a beat. He was hoping that things would settle soon and they could get back on the course to consummating their marriage. He was running out of self control.

/S10/

Oliver found Barry the next morning pouring over a map of the streets surrounding the prison that held Henry Allen.

"Felicity is worried about you," he told him.

Barry snorted, "Tell her if she's worried, she should help me plan the break out. She's excellent in thinking through the finer details of a plan."

"Are you sure this is what you want to do?" Oliver asked.

"Yes I'm sure. I have built a life in Egypt. I'm planning on marrying a girl there. Her name is Iris. I want my father there. I want him to meet his grandchildren when they are born. It feels wrong that my siblings and I are out here enjoying life while our father is in jail for a crime he did not commit."

"From what your father told me, he rather wait for justice to be served," Oliver said.

"He told me he met you. He liked you. Maybe you could convince him. With or without his approval, I am doing this," Barry insisted.

"I'll talk to your father Barry."

/S11/

Three days later Felicity stood in front of the graves of Isabelle and her siblings. It had been barely a month since she buried her father. She looked at her father's grave, new grass had begun to grow over it. She felt that familiar pang when she thought of him. Was it wrong that she wasn't that upset about Isabelle and her siblings? Sure she was sad. They didn't deserve death but it wasn't the pain she had experienced when her father died. Tears still sprung to her eyes when she thought of him. It was difficult not being able to consult with him anymore. He was one of the rocks that had always guided her through life. It was her Father, Grandfather and Uncle Henry, if she was ever at a lost, one of them always helped her. Two of them were dead and one was locked away forever. She knew that Barry was going ahead with his plan to free his father. If they did get him out, he would have to leave the country right away on one of their boats bound to Egypt.

She felt a presence next to her and looking up into the blue eyes of her Uncle Damian.

"Good riddance to them. They were going to ruin the Smoak name," he spat.

Felicity look at her Uncle horrified.

"Don't be so sympathetic. They never treated you properly,"

"Uncle one should not speak ill of the dead, no matter how they chose to live their lives,"

"But one must also be honest," he countered,

"Then it is better to keep quiet," she replied.

"Don't you remember how she cut your hair off when you were six, or when she locked you in your room for a week when you were nine or when she took away your puppy or when she forbade you from entering the library for a month?"

Her jaw dropped, "How do you know all of this?"

"Because you were always my favourite Smoak,"

Before she could reply, her husband's hands slipped around her waist, "Felicity love, our presence is needed inside,"

She turned to look at her husband, his eyes were imploring for her to come with him. She turned back to her Uncle. "We should both be heading inside,"

Damian nodded and started walking with them. Oliver kept a slower pace which allowed Damian to gain quite a lead on them.

"Do you remember the last note of Slade's letter," he whispered to her softly.

"Yes," she said looking at him. He nodded in her Uncle's direction.

"No," was her immediate response.

"Think about it love," he said kissing her on her temple. He glanced back at the numerous graves that belonged to the Smoak heirs. Perhaps their deaths were not the result of unfortunate luck but the deliberate plot of another male Smoak to gain the inheritance, but why did he wait for Edward to die naturally?

/S12/

Oliver Queen found himself back in prison. The last time he was here he had brought some cigars and scones for Henry. The man had appreciated it but despite his gratefulness he still interrogated Oliver about his intentions with Felicity. Oliver wondered if he was really the one behind the bars.

"You've returned and I see you brought me some goodies again," Henry said pleasantly.

Oliver marveled how a man who lives in filthy prison conditions could be so upbeat and jovial. He realised that Felicity must get her inner strength from her mother's side of the family.

"So what matter brings a Lord such as yourself to visit a criminal like me?" Henry said.

"Your son needs you in his life and now that we lost all hope of getting you out of jail, we're breaking you out in a week. Be prepared."

Chapter Text

It had been a week since Roy had encountered Lady Queen. The funds she had let him keep was enough to sustain him for 3 months but Roy being Roy, used the money to feed the younger kids on the streets, particularly the girls since they were the most vulnerable. It lasted a week and now he was looking for food again. He managed to steal some bread from the kitchen of a well-to-do household. That had been fortuitous as that house was usually better guarded than that. He decided to share the bread with his friend Sin. Her real name was Cynthia but her mother had started calling her Sin as a young child because she conceived from the act of sin. After her mother died, she kept the moniker.

"I got bread," he said when he found her hanging around her favourite spot at the gardens in Hyde Park. She was hidden behind a hedge near a popular walking spot. It was easy to dart out from the hedge, walk into the back of someone, steal their belongings. She was seated cross-legged peeking through the bushes for a suitable target.

"We have a problem, Abercromby," she told him seriously as she looked up at him. She liked to call him Abercromby after Sir Ralph Abercromby, the famous Scottish Lieutenant-General that served in the British army during the Napoleonic wars. Roy's mother had told him that his father had been a Scottish man who served in the British army and died before he was born. Sin thought Roy had the looks of a service man and thought the nickname appropriate.

"What you're not sick are you?" Roy asked worriedly as he sat next to her. It was easy to get sick on the streets.

"No, some men have been coming around asking for ya."

"They could be asking about anyone. You know they can't tell us street kids apart," he said brushing her off. He pulled out the bread he had stolen.

"No they are talking about stolen money. You fed everyone last week. It's you they're looking for." Sin insisted as she accepted a piece of bread he had broken off for her.

"Don't worry about it,"

"I don't think you understand. These men were serious. You know I would never squeal on you but don't expect the same treatment from some of the others. They would easily put a knife in your back for money, and then what am I going to do for food?" she said as she took a bite of the bread. She managed ok on her own but she always appreciated the help Roy offered. She knew the other girls did as well but there were boys out there that would gladly get rid of the competition for food that Roy represented.

Roy ignored her in favour of pointing out a young lady that was being escorted by her maid through the park. He thought she would be a perfect target. Sin agreed and soon Sin had some rather nice trinkets to pawn.

S-2

Felicity was seated in front of her dresser brushing out her hair. Her husband had the habit of running his hand through her long tresses which she thought was making her hair more knotty than usual. Things had been progressing quickly with them but slowed down after the death of her siblings. She had never understood why women enjoyed holding hands with men so it was a surprise to her when she found herself actively seeking out her husband's touch. She loved being near him, she loved touching his arm or leaning into his side. She found she enjoyed the act of kissing very much. Her husband was being very patient with her as she slowly explored the intimate aspects of their relationship. Every night she could feel her husband's reaction to their kissing and touching pressed against her. The feel of him both excited and scared her. She was falling in love with him. Soon she would be his wife in every way possible.

Her thoughts were disrupted when Lyla entered her chambers.

"Lady Felicity, I may not be very familiar with the role of a Lady's Maid but I'm fairly certain that I am supposed to be assisting your with your gowns and hair," Lyla said to her. She had been there over a week and had yet to perform any real duties.

"I can handle normal mornings like this, it's when we have to go to one of those high society parties that I'll need your help." Felicity responded as she brushed her hair.

"Then what am I supposed to do in between?" Lyla asked.

"Have you familiarised yourself with that staff here?" Felicity asked.

"Yes," she responded.

"Did you ever help your brother with his work?" Felicity asked her curiously in what would seem like an abrupt change of topic.

"I mainly handled all of the tasks required to maintain our living arrangements but I did collect information on my brother's behalf a few times."

"Collect information? How?"

"My brother had a network of investigators he used for some cases. When he couldn't be in two places at the same time, I would meet with them. Of course he only trusted me with a few of them. The others he said were too gruff for me to handle," she revealed.

"There is something that I would like you to do. I want you to find out who in this house was helping Lord Slade execute his plan for Sandra Queen's death. He had someone internal set it up for him. You can rule out the staff that came with me from Smoak Estate. I believe everyone who was employed when Sandra died is still employed here since I sent most of my staff to assist with upkeep of the other Queen properties. It would have been unfair to staff here to up root them." Felicity said finishing with her hair and putting the brush down.

"I was under the impression that his Lordship had his own investigation already," Lyla responded.

"He does but that doesn't mean we can't conduct our own investigation," Felicity told her.

"I don't think your husband would be pleased," Lyla advised her.

"You are probably right about that but it's my life at stake so I can make my own choices on how I choose to protect myself,"

"Very well my Lady, I will ask around discretely," Lyla said curtseying.

"Thank you, I better head down to breakfast, my husband and I have to go see our new ships today."

S-3

Oliver stared at the large shipyard. Lord Raymond Palmer came from a family that was well known for their shipbuilding skills. Most of the ships in the Royal Navy were built by his family. It was the reason why a middle class family had been bestowed with a title of nobility a few generations ago. There were several boats in various stages of construction but his wife paid no heed to them. He followed her through the mass of disarray to the bow of a boat where a tall broad-chested man stood planning the bow to perfection. She clearly knew her way around the shipyard.

"Ray," Felicity called out from a safe distance. She knew not to get too close.

The man stopped his movements and his eyes locked with Felicity's. Oliver watched as his whole countenance change from a man focused on his work to a man was who delighted to see an old friend or at least Oliver hoped she was only an old friend.

"Felicity," he replied happily putting the planer down and walking over to them. "What do you think?" he asked pointing to the boat he was working on. "Don't OMAC and ATOM look great?" A little further down from this boat was another identical boat.

His wife rolled her eyes, "I am not naming my boats with your ridiculous acronyms. This isn't the Roman Empire. And don't tell me what this set stands for. I don't want to know. Who else in all of the British Empire even uses acronyms?" Felicity said crossly as Ray closed the distance between them and pulled Felicity into a hug.

Oliver growled. This man was far too familiar with his wife! He just broke every single protocol that existed between a man and a woman. Oliver pulled his wife into his side and wrapped his hand around her waist. He had never been a possessive person. He had never reacted like this with Sandra even though there were quite a few males that sought her audience. No with Sandra there was only ever guilt that the reality of being his wife wasn't as glamorous as it was supposed to be. The loss of his best friend had changed him and he found himself unable to provide his first wife with the attention that she so desperately needed. If the compliments from other males made her happy, then he let her be but with his second wife, the thought of another man paying attention to his Felicity made him want to hit something. She had an effect on him that no other woman had ever had.

"Oh I'm sorry, this is my husband and business partner, Lord Oliver Queen," Felicity said after she got over the initial shock of being pulled away from Ray.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Lord Queen," Ray said evenly as if nothing had happened.

Oliver nodded his head at Ray. He should have responded in kind but Oliver decided that he did not like this man so he kept his mouth shut and his facial expression stoic.

An awkward silence descended on them before Felicity decided to get straight to the point.

"When can I get my boats?"

Ray looked at her guiltily, "one more month,"

"Ray, I should have had those boats 3 months ago," his wife said crossly.

"Yes but this is a new design," Ray insisted.

"It's always a new design," she bit back at him.

"You must improve upon the previous one or naval architecture will never develop."

"Ray," Felicity said seriously, "I need my boats. I've had to turn away some lucrative customers because I had no more space left on my boats. You know I don't jeopardize the safety of my crew by taking on too much excess weight."

"Do you even have two Captains to run the boats for you?"

"Of course I do. I promised them employment 3 months ago and in order to hold on to them, I've been paying them to stay in England. The longer these boats sit here the more money my company loses."

"You will have your boats my Lady," Ray assured her.

"I hope so. Give Anna my regards. I heard the baby is due for Christmas?"

Oliver had remained silent during their exchange but the mention of a baby peaked his interest. He could barely remember at one of those boring galas the mention that the wife of Lord Palmer was pregnant.

Ray's face lit up. "Yes. I'm hoping it's a boy."

Felicity's features softened, "you'll be a great father. I'll see you and the baby at Christmas then."

"I look forward to it as always," Ray bowed charmingly.

Felicity turned in Oliver's embrace, setting a quick pace back to the carriage. When they were out of sight of Ray she broke away from his grasp and turned to face him. She was angry.

"Oliver I have very few friends in England, but if you are ever that rude to any of my friends again, you can kiss our night time activities goodbye. I refuse to make love to a caveman."

Oliver watched her walk away, the sway of her hips tempting him. She refused to make love to a caveman, did that mean she was ready to make love to him? Despite her anger with him, he left the shipyard with a dopey smile on his face.

S-4

Roy was making his way through the alleyways to his hiding spot where he stored his extra clothes and a few sentimental objects he had left from his mother. He spotted two strange men lurking nearby. Sin's warning echoed in his mind. His spot was on top of a large arch that connected on side of the alley wall to the other. It was an unusual thing to see in an alley but Roy had realised that if he took a running jump, he could hold on to a drain pipe running down the side of one wall and then spring off that pipe up to grab a hold on the top of the arch. Once he got a handhold, he could pull himself up. It made it a great spot to keep his personal things. It was very difficult to get to the top and he knew none of the other street kids would risk attempting it because a broken leg from a bad fall could kill you on the streets. Mobility was the key to survival.

Being the aware street kid he was, he saw them before they saw him. This allowed him to duck into an intersecting alleyway about 50 feet before the arch. He knew his spot was compromised now. He had to abandon this spot, but if they found him here, they would find elsewhere. He had no funds to leave this city. He would have to steal a horse or walk. He had never been good with horses so that left walking, something he was not looking forward to.

He would need food to carry with him because the nearest town was a three day walk and when he got there he would have to find a place to set up and familiarise himself with the town. He took another peak at the men and noticed that two more had arrived. The first two started to walk away and Roy realised they were changing lookouts. He made a decision to follow the men. He knew if he ran down the alley he was currently in, it curved around to join the main street 500 yards down the road. He would have to cross his fingers and hope that he could still see the men when he emerged.

He took off at a fast pace, making it to the main street in record time. He calmly walked on to the street so as not to attract any unwanted attention. He started walking up to where the men would have exited on to the main street. He was in luck, as 100 yards in front of him he saw them. He followed them until they entered a large warehouse that was on the outskirts of the city.

He was curious as to what was in the warehouse so he waited until night fell to enter. There would usually be ventilation spaces near the roof. He could climb up the outside piping and take a peek through the slots and see what was inside. He saw crates that looked similar to the ones from the dock. Along one wall he saw cages piled high, filled with hundreds of rats. He heard some voices and realised that there were men inside. There was another entrance on the other side of the warehouse. The men must have come through there since he only saw the two men he had been following enter. From his view point, he could only see one man, an old man, probably a military man from the way he carried himself. The conversation wasn't very clear to him but a creak from the pipe let him know that maybe it couldn't support his weight forever. He made a hasty retreat.

He remembered Lady Queen mentioning she was interested in information. What if he could sell her this information and earn the money he needed to get both him and Sin out of town? It was a worthwhile shot. One thing was certain he definitely needed to get out of town as soon as possible. He hoped those men would not stay into the night to watch his arch. He really wanted to collect his stuff and visit Lady Queen the next day.

S-5

Lyla arrived in the kitchen with the other servants for dinner. During her first day at Queen Manor she had been surprised to discover that the head Butler was a man from Africa. She already knew that Lord Oliver had an African valet. Both men had been brought back from Africa by Lord Oliver after he had gone on a safari. She suspected there was more to the story than that for him to make one the head butler and the other his personal valet. Despite the trust that Lord Oliver and Lord Robert obviously placed in these men, the English workers segregated them.

Walter, John, two Indian sisters, Priya and Anaya, and the head cook a Russian named Raisa who had also arrived with Walter and John, were ostracised to the end of the table. There was a clear space between them and the English staff. Priya and Anaya had quickly become favourites of Lady Moira's, which was why they were the only two servants from Smoak Estate that remained at the Manor. The sisters had stayed on as assistant cooks as the Queen's had started developing a taste for more exotic cuisine.

The staff didn't like that these foreigners had arrived and taken some of the most coveted positions in the household. Even Lyla herself had been on the receiving end of some of their tempers. Sometimes her clothes or personal items would go missing. She knew one of the maids that had been employed there was hoping to be promoted to the position but she could honestly say that Lady Felicity would not have gotten along with any of those women. Perhaps that was why her Lady had waited so long to choose a maid. It was because of that she didn't feel guilty for taking the position away from them. Felicity wanted someone she could trust and the maids gossiped during all their meals. There was not a single detail about Lady Thea's life that Lyla did not know. At least Lady Moria's maid, Mrs. Danforth, knew well enough not to cross her. She was always scolded the younger maids about their manners.

Even though they disliked Walter, because of his position they had to obey his requests. Walter was clearly a man of integrity. He would not force the staff to accept him. They were free to hold their own personal opinion of him as long as it did not affect their duties. Walter was very good at not asking anyone to do anything beyond their job description. He always kept his interactions with staff, short and to the point.

Lyla didn't understand how Raisa fit into an African Safari. The previous head cook had objected to working with Raisa because she had no knowledge of English cuisine. Lord Robert had simply informed her that she either worked with Raisa or she find other employment. The woman tried for a month before she found another noble family that was willing to hire her. By that time, Raisa had learned a lot and was able to run the kitchen. Lyla had to admit, Raisa's food was the best she had even tasted.

Priya and Anaya knew how she was being treated. She had become fast friends with both women early. They had advised her where should could locate her missing items. She had asked them why they never complained about their treatment. They told her the same reason she didn't. They were very grateful for being allowed to work there. She discovered that they sent some of their wages back to India via a secure network that Lady Felicity had set up for them. Lady Felicity gave them the chance they so desperately needed. It was up to them to make the most of it. They were fiercely protective of her too, standing up to any staff that dare insult her uncommon ways.

Lyla was reaching for the last of the Shepherd's pie when another maid grabbed the serving spoon before her and loaded the last of the pie on top of the pie that was already on her plate. Lyla hadn't had any pie yet. Having had enough of their cruel attitude, Lyla picked up her plate and headed down the table to the segregated end. Walter and John watched her in surprise, Priya and Anaya not so much. Raisa happily filled her plate with a traditional Russian dish she had cooked for their end of the table. She learnt a great dealt sitting with them and she was able to compile a list of staff who were very disgruntled. There were four in particular who she thought had made some rather extravagant purchases for persons living on a servant's salary. They were at the top of her list to investigate.

S-6

Dinner had finished an hour before so Oliver, Barry and Felicity retired to the library where they could resume their planning of the jailbreak. They were waiting on Diggle to arrive from his dinner. The servants always ate after them. Felicity chose to spend the time ignoring her husband in favour of reading a book Barry had brought her about the discoveries Napoleon's archaeologists had made in Egypt.

Most of the ground work for the actual breakout had been arranged. A few guards had been paid off to look the other way as one of Oliver's contacts made his way into the jail to release Henry in two days time. They had even agreed on attending a birthday celebration the night of the breakout so that they would have an alibi. The real sticking point in their plans came with what to do with Henry once he was out. Barry insisted he wanted to take him back to Egpyt. Felicity stated that was too obvious. The Inspector was obviously going to have all of their boats checked. She reminded him that bounty hunters could be sent to retrieve him in Egypt.

Once Diggle arrived, the conversation picked up at that point again, Felicity postulating that the safest place for her Uncle was a place that had no connection to them. It was then that an idea occurred to Oliver.

"Scotland, we can send him to Scotland,"

"Where Tommy is?" Felicity asked.

"Yes, the news of Tommy's release from the charges will be published soon. The Chief Inspector forced Quentin to wait a week or two till they could officially get the charges dropped. We can send Henry up with a message to Tommy letting him know of the impending news and that he should wait a few months before returning to England. He needs to make it look like he was far away, perhaps on the continent or in the colonies,"

"The point of breaking my father out of jail was so that he could be reunited with his family in Egypt," Barry pointed out angrily.

"He will be reunited, just not in the same location. Barry you can easily sail up to Scotland. Felicity established a little business venture while we were there. Tommy has hidden there for five years and he's been safe. Your father will be safe there too," Oliver assured the younger man.

"How will he get there? As Felicity keeps pointing out he can't sail on any of our boats and it's not like he can travel by stage coach."

"Before the development of the stage coach routes persons used to travel via horseback. He can do that. We can gather the necessary supplies for him."

"My father has never ridden to Scotland," Barry protested.

"I was under the impression that your father has navigated the world via boat, surely navigating a few dirt roads to Scotland shouldn't be that big of a challenge!" Oliver quipped.

"It will take him forever to get there. How will we know when he reaches safely? I should be setting sail soon. The Monsoon season would be dying down now. I'll be on my way back to India by the time you receive news!"

"Our contact will travel up with him and return. He will send news through Diggle. It should take two weeks tops."

Robert entered the study interrupting their planning. They hadn't included the older man in their plans. He would disapprove of so openly thwarting the legal system.

"Felicity," Robert said, "was Ronnie able to determine what company owns that ship that you and Mr. Allen were investigating?" Robert asked.

"Ronnie's still looking into it for me. The ship set sail the same day that we were at the docks," she told her father-in-law.

"I heard some news of a company called Stellmore Imports that brings in cheese and wine from France. There is a boat called La Femme Fatale that arrived at the docks today, there may be a connection."

"I'll let Ronnie know to look into it for me, sir,"

"It's getting late, Felicity and I will retire for the night we can continue tomorrow," Oliver said. His wife's hand slipped into his and they left Barry and his father to further discuss all of the investigative work he had been doing on the case.

S-7

The next morning they arrived to Smoak East India where Ganga informed them that a street kid named Roy was waiting for them in Barrister Raymond's office.

"Why is he in that office?" Oliver asked.

"He didn't want to wait anywhere where someone could see him. We couldn't put him in your office unattended. Barrister Raymond agreed to keep an eye on him. He was kind of jumpy."

"Roy? is that the street kid you spoke to without me?" Oliver asked a hint of disapproval in his voice.

"Yes, I wonder if he's decided to take me up on the offer of work?"

Felicity knocked on the door to Ronnie's office.

"Come in," he said.

They entered to find Ronnie working on some documents behind his desk.

"We were told there was a Roy waiting for us in here?" Oliver said to the younger man.

"He's hiding in the shadows behind me," Ronnie stated calmly.

Roy stepped out of a shadow and looked at Felicity.

"Who's the man?" he asked pointing to Oliver.

"This is my husband, Lord Oliver Queen."

Both males studied each other.

"Have you come for a job Roy?" Felicity asked.

"No, I have some information I was hoping you would pay handsomely for."

Ronnie put down the quill he was writing with and turned to face Roy. "What kind of information? This sounds suspiciously like blackmail," he said narrowing his eyes at the young boy.

Roy ignored him in favour of speaking to Felicity. "Those sailors came looking for me. This has never happened before. I followed them back to a warehouse outside of town. I saw the crates from the boat you were asking about. I'm willing to give you the location for a fee."

"How do we know you're not lying to us?" Oliver asked carefully studying the boy in front of him.

"You don't?"

"I understand my wife let you keep the bounty you stole from that ship. She was under the impression that it was a significant sum. Surely you haven't run out of money already?"

Roy gritted his teeth, "that isn't any of your concern,"

"It is when you come here asking my wife for money," Oliver countered his protective instincts kicking in.

"I am not begging her for money, I'm offering her information in exchange for money," Roy responded angrily.

"Ok boys, calm down. Roy I think my husband would be very displeased with me if I just pay you for information, when my husband suspects that you used the money for illicit activities."

"I don't gamble!" the young boy protested.

"What happened to the bounty then?" Ronnie asked this time.

Roy looked away, "I spent it,"

"On what? You certainly didn't spend it on clothes," Oliver stated harshly only to be reprimanded by his wife for being crude.

"I spent it on food for the younger kids on the street," Roy admitted.

"How much do you want?" Felicity asked heartened by the kind streak she saw in the boy.

Roy looked around hesitantly. He wasn't sure how much to ask for.

"I'll give you twice the bounty that you had before," Felicity told him picking up on his uncertainty.

Roy's eye widened. He hadn't expected so much. Even Oliver and Ronnie made sounds of protest.

"Come back tomorrow. I'll have it ready then. I don't exactly keep that amount around here."

S-8

Roy headed to the park, he was anxious to tell Sin everything. He would have enough funds for them to leave London. They could go anywhere in the British Empire, well mostly anywhere. There were some places that would use up all of their funds. Perhaps they could sail to the new world, to an island called Barbados. He had heard sailors talk about the warm weather and beautiful landscape. They could buy better clothes and pose as a Lord and Lady from England. He could see it clearly in his mind.

When he didn't find her behind the hedge, he started checking her other spots. His stomach started turning apprehensively when by late afternoon he had not found her. Night soon fell, causing his uneasiness to increase. He refused to panic though. He knew all of the spots that she would camp out at nights. It wasn't until he checked the last one, finding no sign of her that he finally admitted to himself that something was definitely wrong. He didn't sleep, instead choosing the wonder the streets in search of her.

Sin was his only true friend in a cruel world. He had been sick one winter. It was the first time he ever thought he would die and not a single soul would care. Sin had looked after him, crawling through the back window of a doctor's office to steal medicine for him. They had no idea what she had stolen but he had gotten better. The thought of Sin in trouble somewhere hurt him. He had to help her.

The church would serve hot porridge to street kids on certain mornings. This was one of those mornings. He would check there and ask around if anyone had seen her. It was there he received the most unsettling news, Sin was last seen at the docks, more specifically by a boat named La Femme Fatale.

A cold chill ran through Roy. He knew then that it was he who had caused the current crises. Even though he was old, the priest still offered him some porridge. He declined; the younger kids needed it more than him. On his way to the docks, he stopped at Smoak East India. He told the polite Indian girl where they could find the warehouse. He would return later for his payment if he was alive. At least he knew, that if he did perish, perhaps Lady Queen might find some justice on his behalf.

It was afternoon by the time he arrived at the docks but they were still bustling as usual. There were many boats being loaded with goods. At the end of one dock, he could see The Flash was taking on some goods. That boat was the crown jewel in Lady Queen's fleet from what he had heard. He looked at the other piers to find the boat that he needed. He spotted it three piers over. Tamping down on the fear her felt, he marched up to the boat. There were a few men outside who eyed him warily.

"What do you want boy?" a sailor sneered at him with a heavy French accent.

"I'm the one you're looking for," he said. Roy was surprised that he had managed to sound so confident.

"Take him aboard," another sailor ordered.

Roy was lead up the plank onto the deck of the ship. He was then thrown into the cargo hold where he found Sin bound and gagged. Her clothes were torn in various places, and her skin was marred with bruises. Roy didn't even want to think about what they had done to her. He moved over to her, undoing the bindings.

"You should not have come," she rasped out weakly.

"I couldn't leave you here."

"Now they are going to kill both of us," Sin said sadly.

"That's right boy!"a gruff voice said behind them.

Roy turned around, there were four sailors, one of them the Captain.

"You've seen things you weren't supposed to see boy. The boss says you're to be eliminated as soon as possible."

Roy crouched down into a fighting stance. He was not going down without a fight.

"Stupid street kid thinks he could take us," one spat while the other two cracked their knuckles.

Three of them came at him at the same time. He kicked the one on the right in the stomach before swinging his fist at the middle one but that left him open to a punch from the one of the left. He recovered fast and returned the punch knocking the man backwards. The middle sailor came at him again, Roy side stepped him, tripping the sailor over his feet and sending him into the side of the ship where he hit his head on a beam. That was one down. He turned around to fight the other two when the Captain called out to him.

There standing a few feet away from him was Sin with a pistol held to her temple.

"Back down kid," he said.

Roy paused and that gave the other two sailors the opening to restrain him. After taking a few hits, they had him pinned on the ground. His right eye was rapidly swelling shut but he could still make out Sin's helpless face.

"You should have listened to your little friend here," the Captain said before he fired his pistol.

Sin's lifeless body fell on the floor next to him. Roy screamed in agony. The Captain reloaded his pistol and pointed it at him.

"Time to die kid!"

"Hello," a voice on the deck said.

The Captain paused to look at his men, "go check that out, I left Louie and Henri on guard on the docks,"

One of the sailors nodded and headed back up to the deck. There was a shuffling noise and then the sound of a body hitting the deck. Heavy footsteps were heard returning but the man that appeared was not the sailor that left, no it was Barrister Raymond with two men.

"I came looking to buy some wine but I guess I just got more than I bargained for," Ronnie commented.

The Captain lifted the pistol and fired at Ronnie who dived out of the way. It was three against two now and Ronnie and his men were able to subdue the Captain.

They helped him to his feet, "Can you walk?"

"Yes, I think," Roy responded wincing as he tried to walk. He looked at Sin and angered flooded his veins. He dived for the Captain but the men held him back.

"I'm sorry about your friend but we have to go now," Ronnie explained. "We need to leave, the rest of the sailors would be returning shortly having realised that the pub down the street was not giving away free ale!"

He didn't have the strength to fight them as they pulled him up to the deck. They could see the sailors were already heading back. Roy let them pull him along. He didn't know how much time had passed before they stopped in a back alley somewhere.

"I think I need to see a doctor," Ronnie said falling to his knees.

It was then that Roy noticed the bright red stain on the Barrister's shoulder that was beginning blotch his clothing. Ronnie had been shot!

S-9

It was the night of his father's breakout and he was stuck at the birthday celebration for Caitlyn Snow, his sister's best friend. The Snows weren't nobility but they were a family of reputable doctors. Dr. Richard Snow, her father, was the Doctor that had attended over all of the Allen births. His sister was about the same age as Caitlyn and their friendship had been encouraged by both of their parents. He was sure that at one point their parents were thinking of a marriage between him and Caitlyn but after the fall from grace that happened to his family, any thoughts of marriage between them evaporated.

He hadn't seen Caitlyn since he left for Egypt. He had to admit that she had grown more beautiful and had seemed to lose some that awkwardness and clumsiness she had. He had visited their residence to deliver the latest correspondence between Caitlyn and his sister. That was when he and his hosts had been invited to attend her celebration. He didn't want to go but Felicity had convinced him.

The party was boring and Barry had no intention of talking to anyone. His mind was more concerned with the success of their plans. His cousin was stuck in the corner of the room with her husband talking to some noble Lord that had been invited. He didn't know how she could be so calm. It had been very strange for him to see Felicity on the arm of a man. She had never been inclined to fawn over any man but she was certainly very close to her husband. With the exception of yesterday, when he gathered that she was a bit upset with her husband, they had never been more than a foot apart when they were in the same room together. Whatever she was upset about no longer mattered today because Oliver's hand had yet to leave her arm tonight. They were very comfortable together. It was almost as if it came naturally them. If you had told him last year that Felicity would be happily married now, he would have had a good laugh.

"Stop fidgeting Barry," Felicity said as she joined him with her husband in tow.

He glared at her but was saved from responding when Dr. Snow appeared next them.

"I need you three to come quietly with me now," he said.

They each looked at each other before following the Doctor through a corridor that he knew led to his office where he saw patients. They entered the waiting room first where a very bruised Roy was pacing madly.

"Oh heavens!" his cousin exclaimed, "what happened to you?"

"He's not the problem," Dr. Snow indicated pointing towards his office door.

They followed Dr. Snow into his office where they found two of his sons working furiously on Ronnie trying to save his life.

S-10

The next day The Ton was in a complete frenzy. The former Lord Henry Allen, a convicted murderer, had escaped from the Royal Jail. The news had spread fast. Young girls were banned from going out in fear that they might come upon the deranged man. Several events were cancelled. The Inspectors were trying to reassure the public that the prisoner would be apprehended soon.

The second news item that stirred up gossip was the dismissal of the charges against Lord Tommy Merlyn. There were all sorts of theories detailing how the charges were dismissed, none of them accurate.

The Chief Inspector had arrived at Queen Manor to question Barry and Felicity about Henry's escape. He had become most upset when the maids informed him that they were not home. They were still at the Snow residence after they had celebrated the birthday of Caitlyn Snow all night. When the Chief Inspector arrived at the Snows, he had discovered that no one there had heard the news of the break out as yet. Supposedly, Lady Queen had had a bit too much liquor the night before and had been unable to travel home. The Snows had confirmed that both Barry Allen and Lady Felicity Queen were both there all night. When he interviewed Lady Queen her distracted state was assumed to be because of the alcohol she had consumed the night before. He never realised that one room over a street kid was in anguish over the death of his friend while a Barrister lay fighting for his life.

Chapter Text

S-1

Raj, an Indian from Calcutta, knocked on the door to the room that Tommy and Laurel shared. A shuffling noise was heard and soon Tommy appeared at the door.

"I am sorry to disturb you, Mr. MacRob," Raj said in a thick Indian accent, "but there is a man downstairs for you. He says that Lord Queen sent him."

In his sleepy state it took Tommy a few seconds to work out what Raj was saying. If Oliver had sent a messenger up to him then something bad must have happened. Tommy dressed quickly and followed Raj to the study. A man with unkempt hair and tattered clothes was waiting for him by the fire. As he got closer he got the whiff of a foul odour. He took a step back. The stranger turned around, his eyes darting to Raj. Tommy realised immediately that they needed privacy.

"Can we have some privacy please?" Tommy asked Raj.

"Of course Mr. MacRob," Ray said closing the door behind him.

He turned back to the stranger who addressed him right away. "Lord Merlyn, I'm Henry Allen,"

"You're Felicity's uncle. The one in jail for a crime he didn't commit. Did they get you acquitted?" he asked hopefully.

"Unfortunately no, the death of Eobard Thawne has killed any hope of getting me out so they broke me out."

"A jailbreak!" Tommy said surprised. He couldn't see Oliver agreeing to that.

"Not so loud Lord Merlyn,"

"It is ok. Everyone here can be trusted. They are all from Smoak Estate but for their safety Felicity never told them who lives here. They only know that I am the Chief Caretaker of this property."

"And I will be taking over that position from you in a few months time," Henry revealed to him.

Tommy gasped in surprise causing Henry to smile. He handed him the letter from Oliver.

Dear Tommy,

As I write this the newspaper has yet to officially post the news but all of the charges against you have been dropped. You, Laurel and the children can come home! But don't pack your bags yet. We don't want anyone to realise how close to home you are. We are suggesting that you wait at least two months after hearing the news in Scotland to come home. My father thinks it best that way. During your interrogation you can imply that you were hiding in the colonies.

When you return head straight to the Smoak East India office in London and ask for Barrister Raymond. He will send you on one of the ships to Spain. You will stay long enough for people to see you there. You will then return on a normal ferry between Spain and England. That way the Chief Inspector can question the crew to confirm that a family with two young children travelled from Spain to England.

When you are finally officially home to London, go straight to the Chief Inspector's office. Everything will be handled there. My father and I will handle your cousin. Everything should be in place for a smooth transition once you return.

Your Dearest Friend,

Oliver

P.S. See you at Christmas!

"Start figuring out what you want to take with you son, you'll be home in no time," Henry said tapping Tommy on his back.

Tommy got another good whiff of him, "I think we should set you up with a good bath and barber first!"

Henry laughed, "that would be very much appreciated,"

S-2

Roy glared at the animal in front of him. Really, did horses have to eat so much hay? He had already cleaned this stall for the morning. The animal continued to chew on the hay in his mouth unperturbed by the anger from Roy.

"Jason you finished with that stall yet?" the stable master asked, "Lady Thea will be here any second to take her horse out and she does not like to see dirty stables."

'Tell that to the horse,' was what Roy wanted to say but instead he grudgingly replied "Almost done."

After Felicity made him explain everything that had happened, she told him it was too dangerous for him to live on the streets. If they found him once they would find him again. They probably had scouts set up in all of the nearest towns looking for him. She thought it best to smuggle him out of the country on The Flash but Roy protested. He was not going anywhere with Sin's murderer walking free. He would find the man and he would kill him. Or at least that was what he had originally wanted to do before the bodies of the men that were holding him captive were found floating off the dock. They had already been eliminated. Roy then decided that he wanted to go after the people responsible for the whole plot.

Lord Queen reluctantly offered him work in the stables at Queen Manor. Roy suspected that his wife might have tricked him into that one. He immediately said he did not want to work in the stables but that made them want to place him there even more. Their reasoning had been sound though. If they were looking for him, stables would be the last place they would look since the kids on the street knew that he and that particular type of animal did not get along. She also took it upon herself to change his name to Jason since they apparently didn't trust their staff. After meeting some of the blokes there he had to be inclined to agree with them. He was fairly sure, a few of them would put a knife in his back if given the opportunity.

After scooping away the last of the mess, Roy heard the Stable Master, Mr. Hunt, talking to Lady Thea. The man was such a kiss ass. He couldn't lay it on any sweeter.

"Jason bring Mia out here please?" the Stable Master asked.

"What?" Roy said. He couldn't mean that he was to touch the animal did he?

Lady Thea appeared at the entrance to the stall, "you're new," she said.

"Brilliant observational skills my Lady," he couldn't help but reply.

"Boy!" the Stable Master roared at him. Ok maybe he shouldn't have been so rude to her especially since Mr. Hunt was more than willing to garnish his wages whenever he was being belligerent. Roy suspected the garnished wages went straight into the Stable Master's pockets.

"If your observation skills were up to par, Mia would be in front of me already," Thea responded.

Mr. Hunt grabbed the reins of the horse and assisted Lady Thea up. Lady Thea made her way out of the stables but not without glancing back at Roy.

S-3

Lyla had taken a strong liking to sitting at the segregated end of the table. She had always been wary of foreigners but she had learnt now that there was nothing to worry about. They weren't the beasts or wild animals that some of the Lords made them out to be. No they were flesh and blood just like her. They were intelligent and civilised, they were more civil to her than her fellow countrymen. Walter had more dignity than the entire staff combined. He told her he used to be his tribe's chief. It was his responsibility to take care of his tribe, protect their lands and ensure their survival. There were some very violent tribes in Africa, those were mostly the ones that sided with the slave traders and captured and sold the other more peaceful tribes for money and land. She listened with rapt attention as they told her what life was like in Africa. Walter was fond of relating the Anansi folklore that his tribe believed in.

Diggle wasn't from the same tribe as Walter, in fact they were from completely different regions of the vast continent. Diggle was from one of the more aggressive tribes that roamed a wide jungle. He was a hunter and he had the scars to prove it. There were three long gashes on his arm that came from an entanglement with a lion! His hunting tales told of his physical prowess which was supported by his physique. Lyla had never seen a man so huge. Lord Queen was an impressive example of his gender but he paled in comparison to Diggle.

At times during their conversations, someone would pause trying to find the correct English word to use. She had grown so accustomed to their accents that at times she forgot that English was not their first language, that it was another obstacle that they had had to overcome in settling in England. She couldn't help but admire their strength.

She glanced down the table at Roy. Felicity had explained everything that had happened to her at the Snows. She was now to keep an eye on Roy to make sure the boy stayed out of trouble but that was going to be very difficult with the way some of the maids were fawning over him. They surrounded him at every opportunity. It was like Roy was the prize in a game, a game that was spiralling out of control. She knew Mrs. Danforth had already disciplined two maids for gawking at the stable hand instead of working.

Lyla had never had many suitors in life. She was straight as a stick, with common brown hair, blue eyes, and droopy thin hair. She was as plain as could be. There were men that would visit her father, who would cast an eye on her but in the end they were always more interested in her sisters. Once her parents had passed, her eldest brother had no interest in investing the energy to find her a husband. After she crossed 25, she was officially off the marriage market. Nobody wanted an old bride. She had consigned herself to living a dull life.

Her investigation though was coming along brilliantly! She was better at this than she thought. She had actually learnt some skills from helping with her brother's cases. At the beginning she had been very unsure of herself. She had never started her own investigation. She had never determined how an investigation was run or in what direction to take an investigation. She had always followed her brother's lead and occasionally made comments when something didn't make sense to her. There were so many ways to approach the task that her Lady had given her. At the end of each day Felicity would ask about her progress and it was Felicity's loyal support and comments that grounded her, that made her believe she could do it.

Lyla had been very wary about coming to Queen Manor but now that she was here she was happy. Her life had taken a turn for from the boring and mundane to exciting and adventurous. For the first time in a long time, she was excited for what the day would bring her.

S-4

Felicity stood on the docks watching The Flash sail away in the early morning hours. It felt like a piece of her heart was sailing away. A hand gently brushed her cheek, she realised her husband was brushing away a stray tear from her face. Goodbyes were always hard. She and Barry said goodbye so often you would think she was good at it by now.

"You'll see him again in a few months," he reminded her.

She nodded absently. They had received word the day before that Henry made it safely to Scotland. One by one her cousins were going to come to England to see their father. Barry was going to send his younger brother first but she knew Barry's sisters well and they were going to insist on coming first since they had not seen their father since he was taken away. Barry's eldest sister Elizabeth would probably be the first one to visit. She had a young son and she wanted Henry to meet his first grandson. The voyage would be difficult but the Allens were determined people. The last person to visit would be Barry's mother. She would let all of her children come first.

Barry's mother, Nora, had an iron will. When things fell apart after the incarceration of her husband, she was the strength that kept her family moving forward. Everything had been taken from them but she faced the challenges head on. Felicity and her father had been in the process of establishing an office in Egypt to oversee the transhipment of the goods over the small strip of land between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. It was Nora's idea that her family move to Egypt to personally oversee things in the business. She moved herself and 5 children to Egypt with the help of Edward.

"I believe you wanted to make an early morning call on the Snows?" her husband asked her bringing her out of her trance.

"Yes, we need to check on Ronnie," she said sadly.

She had never intended him to be hurt. He had been watching the boat with two persons he had hired to assist him, when he saw Roy approach it. They waited outside for Roy to disembark but when that didn't happen. Ronnie knew something was wrong. They moved closer to the boat to try to determine what was going on and that was when Ronnie heard the gun shot. Most persons would mistake it for a crate being dropped on the ground. There was plenty of that on the docks but Ronnie knew better. He knew he needed to act quickly. The shock Felicity felt that night when she saw the doctors working assiduously to save her friends life had caused her knees to wobble. If it wasn't for her husband's firm grip on her she might have fallen to the floor. He promptly removed her from the room, making her sit in the waiting room where Roy had been pacing.

Roy had given her the whole story. By the time they were able to organise a visit to the warehouse it had been cleaned out. They had lost one of their best leads and were back to investigating the persons that Slade had named on his list. They kept an informant on the dock to let them know every time a ship from France arrived. There was a strong connection there and Felicity suspected that Slade's Stable Master, Sebastian Blood, had been handling the French business for his Lord. Oliver had contacts in France that were following up that lead.

Their carriage pulled up in front of the doctor's house. Felicity alighted easily, following her husband into the house to the room where Ronnie was recovering. The staff had grown accustomed to them coming and going. They entered the room to find Caitlyn hunched over Ronnie tending to his bandages. Felicity smiled, if it was one good thing that came out of this, it was the budding romance between her friend and Dr. Snow's daughter. She suspected that she might have a wedding in the middle of spring to attend.

S-5

Diggle watched Lyla curiously from the shadows. She was different to the others. She was more open to the world than them. She was genuinely interested in what his life had been like before he came to England. She didn't see him as a threat. He didn't know if it was because she was a trusting woman or if she considered him a friend.

Her position as Lady Felicity's maid allowed her access to a lot of the Manor but he found she had been ending up in some very suspicious places talking with people who she would not have any reason to. She had passed it off as familiarising herself with the Manor so that she could best serve Lady Felicity but Diggle sensed it was something else. He had eavesdropped on one of her conversations and it was eerily similar to a conversation he had had six months earlier. A conversation he had had when he was trying to discern what really happened to Lady Sandra.

Her approach on the conversation had been vastly different to his. She was better at subtlety. The servant with whom she was talking was divulging information without realising it. Diggle was hearing comments he hadn't heard before. Most of the staff would not willingly tell him anything but once he crossed his hands across his chest and looked at them sternly they usually became very compliant.

He would have to mention his suspicions to Oliver. The last thing they needed was for another Lady Queen and her Lady's Maid to meet with an untimely accident.

S-6

Thea walked into the stables looking for Mr. Hunt to discuss the steeple chase course she was designing but a particular Stable Hand caught her eye. He was busy cleaning a stable while he accused the horse of tormenting him purposely.

"You know if I didn't know any better, I would say you hate horses," Thea said.

"Maybe you don't know any better," Roy responded without looking up at her.

"Yes it makes perfect sense that someone who despises horses would work as a stable hand," Thea commented dryly.

"This concept might be unfamiliar to a Lady such as yourself, but not everyone gets to do what they want to do in life," he replied.

An idea occurred to Thea, "I need some fences built for my course," she said holding out the written description of what she wanted to him.

He glared at her, "I am not a carpenter either, my Lady," her replied tersely.

Thea picked at the edge of her dress, "you're not a stable hand and you're not a carpenter so then what are you?"

"I'm a servant at Queen Manor trying to do my job," he replied.

"I've assigned you a new job," Thea said holding out the plans.

Roy looked at the paper, "you're not very good at assigning jobs then. You would usually give written instructions to servants who know how to read them,"

Thea's hand fell limply to her side. It had never occurred to her that he couldn't read. He certainly didn't seem like he couldn't read. He ignored her and continued on with his job. Feeling embarrassed, Thea fled the stables.

S-7

After a very disturbing conversation with his valet, Oliver went looking for his wife. He found her reading quietly in the study. The act appeared innocent but considering his wife's penchant for getting into trouble, he could only imagine what goal her reading would help her accomplish. He took a seat on the chair next to her. Her tilted up slightly from the book to glance at him.

"Good evening Felicity,"

"Good evening my Lord, is there something that you needed?" his wife asked him coquettishly.

Good Lord she was going to be the death of him when she looked at him like that but he needed to focus on the purpose that he came to talk to her.

"Did you know that Liza, Thea's Lady's maid, bought a new bonnet? It's supposed to be the rave these days, soon all the staff will be following her," Oliver said studying her response intently.

"Actually Elizabeth bought one first," Felicity pointed out not looking up from her book. Oliver's eyebrows drew together in confusion.

"Really, how do you know that?" Oliver asked her. She paused in her reading momentarily.

"Same way you know about Liza," she offered weakly.

"Felicity, would you like to play a game?" he asked her.

"What game are we playing?" she asked lifting her head to look at him. There was a spark of mischief in her eyes.

"The you asked Lyla to investigate Sandra's murder behind my back, game," he said seriously to her.

Felicity pouted cutely and shook her head. No she was not playing that game with him.

"Dammit Felicity, I'm trying to keep you safe!" he yelled as he started to pace in front of her.

"Did you just expect me to sit back and do nothing, knowing that the previous Mrs. Queen was killed," she countered.

"I will not let anything happen to you. Can't you just trust me?"

"I do trust you," Felicity said.

"Well it certainly doesn't feel like it when you do something like this," he said walking out of the room, leaving her in stunned silence.

S-8

It was not unusual for him to be in bed before her. She tended to take longer in the hot bathe that was drawn for her. There was a spot on the canopy of his bed that he usually stared at until she arrived. After about half an hour he realised that she was not coming, perhaps he shouldn't have yelled at her earlier. He had lost his cool but it annoyed him when she put herself in danger. Running her own investigation could get her killed. He already suspected that her uncle was not as innocent as she thought he was. He had sent messages to his contacts away to investigate the ventures that Damian Smoak was supposedly involved in. It would be a few months before he heard anything. In the mean time, Diggle had asked persons in their network to keep an eye on Smoak Estate.

The moon was now shinning in through his bedroom window and he had yet to sleep. He missed her. He missed the smell of the bath oils she used on her skin, he missed the way she would nuzzle into his side for warmth. This was the first night since his father-in-law's death that he was trying to sleep without her. He glanced at the closed door between their rooms. He saw a flicker of light under the door. Was she still awake as well?

He jumped out of bed and quietly opened the door, his wife was perched on her bed with a candle by her bedside and a book in her hands. Why was she always reading? The sheets were pooled around her waist but she had a thick blanket covering her shoulders to keep her warm. The candle cast a soft glow across her face accentuating her beauty. He felt like the luckiest man on Earth to have such a beautiful wife.

He crossed his hands over his chest and leaned against the doorframe, "You're still awake?" he asked softly.

Her head snapped up to meet his, "I couldn't sleep," she admitted.

Oliver boldly stepped into enter her chambers, "You didn't come to bed?"

"I didn't think you wanted me. You've been silent since this morning," she commented chewing hesitantly on her bottom lip, a habit that drove Oliver crazy. He wanted to be the one tugging gently on her lower lip.

"I will always want you in my bed Felicity," Oliver admitted walking over to his wife.

He closed her book and gently placed it on the side table, bending down to blow out the candle as well. He then slipped one hand under her knee and the other across her back lifting her effortlessly into his arms.

"Oliver!" she squeaked, "What are you doing?"

"Taking you to bed," Oliver responded with a smirk.

She was easy to lift. In a matter of seconds he was pulling back the covers and setting her onto her side of their bed. He settled onto his side, pulling her flush against him before he pulled the covers over them.

"I missed you," he said softly into her ear.

"I missed you too," she replied burrowing her cold nose into the side of his neck.

He inhaled deeply, his body automatically relaxing at her familiar scent. Where sleep was once hard to find, it now came easily.

S-9

The next morning they had both slept later than they had intended curled around each other. Both Lyla and Diggle had chosen not to disturb them. The light entering through the window was what woke Oliver up first. He did have a busy day ahead of him, they both did but he had no heart to wake his sleeping beauty. He didn't get to observe her long as she too started to wake up. She stretched out besides him, her leg rubbing against him causing him to groan.

"Sorry," she said with a small blush.

The cold morning air hit her face and she tucked her face back into his neck, "do we really have to get up?"

"Yes we do." Oliver said his hand starting to stroke her back tenderly.

"I know, it's just some days I want a break," Felicity confessed to him.

"I will arrange a day off for us soon, just the two of us," he promised her.

"That would be wonderful. So you're not angry with me anymore?" she asked hesitantly. She really didn't like it when he was distant with her.

"No, but I'm not sorry for worrying about you Felicity," Oliver said. "If you are going to insist that you put yourself in danger at least warn me, so I can prepare the necessary precautions," Oliver pleaded with her.

"Oliver, I'm not sorry for what I did either, but I do trust you. Perhaps I could have at least told you what I was doing," she conceded.

Oliver smiled a radiant smile. He knew that was as close as he was going to get to Felicity admitting that she had been wrong about something. "Felicity" he said tucking loose strands of her hair behind her ear so he could see her face clearly, "I love you,"

A loud crashing sound from outside of Felicity's room caused her to jump.

"Connor Queen that was your grandmother's prized vase! You know you're not allowed to run in the corridor!" the governess's voice drifted towards them.

The sound of Connor's crying followed immediately afterwards. They both jumped out of bed, Felicity tying her husband's night robe around herself. They found Connor in the corridor surrounded by the broken vase, the governess angrily reminding Connor why he was not supposed to be running through the corridors. Felicity, feeling sorry for the young boy, moved to pick him up. Once he was safe in her embrace she gently started rubbing his back to calm him down.

"Shhhh baby, it's ok, Daddy is here." Felicity said looking over at Oliver.

The little boy's sobs slowed down as he buried his head into Felicity's neck, his eyes, red from tears watching his father.

"Are you hurt?" she asked him.

"No," he said softly.

"Ok," she said squatting to put him back on the ground away from the broken vase.

"Connor, I know it was an accident but you need to listen to your Governess. When she tells you not to do things it's for your own benefit. Do you understand now why you should not be running inside the Manor," Felicity said gently to the boy.

"Yes," he answered but Felicity knew he would still run down the corridors, no matter that he could slip and run into things. All boys did it. Her brothers had been chastised daily about bad behaviour but that never stopped them from having some fun.

"You disobeyed your Governess," Oliver said firmly, "as punishment for your disobedience, you'll only be allowed outside for half-an-hour today with Felicity and Thea."

"But father," Connor started to protest.

"Connor," Felicity said sternly, "this is a result of your actions. You cannot disobey your Governess or your father or any of the rules that are set for you without a corresponding punishment."

The young boy bowed his head. Felicity placed a kiss on his head and stood up, "Your father and I will take care of this mess, please return to your lessons."

The young Queen walked slowly away with his Governess. After Connor was out of earshot, Oliver looked at Felicity, "this was one of my mother's favourite vases."

"Your mother hardly comes on this side of the house. We'll replace the vase with another one so the pedestal does not look empty and I doubt she'll notice,"

"Oh she'll notice," Oliver commented. "My mother does not miss details."

S-10

Thea, Felicity and Connor were slowly riding out to their little practice circuit. Connor was telling his Aunt about his incident with the vase that morning. Thea apparently hated that vase and was glad it was gone. She volunteered to source the replacement vase. When Connor finished with his tale, Thea took the opportunity to ask Felicity a question.

"Felicity, I heard that all of your workers are foreigners?"

"I wouldn't say all but most of them are from India or Africa," she said.

"Can they read?" Thea asked.

"Yes they can all read. In fact most of them can read multiple languages because a lot of our correspondence is coded in their native languages in case a competing company intercepts one of our messengers."

"I see, did you ever hire anyone that couldn't read?" Thea asked

"Yes all the time. The ability to read has not been taught universally. Many of the underprivileged cannot read but that doesn't mean they aren't intelligent. A lot them have something we call street smarts."

"Can they learn to read?" she asked.

"Of course anyone can learn to read. You just have to teach them."

"Have you taught anyone to read?"

"I taught Priya and Anaya. Isabelle loved to write down her instructions to servants to embarrass them. They needed to learn to read to keep their jobs. In fact, I think there vocabulary might be larger than mine since once Isabelle realised that they could read basic English she started using fancier words. I taught the girls how to use a dictionary so they could figure out what Isabelle was asking them to do. The girls are also fluent in Spanish because Isabelle eventually switched to leaving her instructions in Spanish."

"That was very mean," Thea frowned. She couldn't imagine treating any of the maids at Queen Manor like that.

"Isabelle could be very cruel at times but she did have redeeming qualities. She loved her sons very much."

"That sounds like one quality," Thea pointed out.

Felicity laughed, "as much as I hate to admit it, I guess I learnt to be fearless from her."

"Why all of these questions about reading Thea?" Felicity asked her curiously.

Thea shrugged, "We're here. I'll run through the course first,"

Felicity and Connor watched as Thea guided her horse over a three foot obstacle.

"Mother, I want to do that too," Connor said startling Felicity. Had he just called her mother?

"Oh no baby, you will have to wait till you get older."

Connor pouted.

She had to ask, "Connor did you just call me mother?"

"I know you're not my real mother, but I think you're my new mother," he said innocently to her.

Felicity felt a sudden flush of warmth from within. She never thought she was looking for Connor's acceptance but now that she had it, she realised that it was the missing piece of the puzzle. She hugged her son tightly, planting kisses all over his face. He giggled and tried to squirm away from her.

She loved Connor and she loved Oliver. She loved the Queens. These people were her family now and she realised she felt comfortable giving herself completely over to Oliver.

S-11

As soon as she got back from riding, a maid told her that her husband wanted to see her in his private office. She naturally assumed it was about the 15 extra minutes she had given Connor after he had officially accepted her as his mother but who could blame her. He had made her very happy. She arrived at his office prepared to defend her decision but she was thrown off guard when she discovered, Diggle, Lyla and Roy were also there.

Oliver paced behind his desk while he asked her to have a seat.

He cleared his throat, "I may have realised that having another person that we trust investigate the loyalty of our staff here may not have been such a bad idea. I think your investigation has reached the stage at which we can compare notes,"

"Oh great another Queen that assumes people can read," Roy muttered softly under his breath but Felicity caught it, making a mental note of the information.

"I think moving forward I want the three of you to work together," Oliver said indicating to Diggle, Lyla and Roy.

"I'm a bit lost as to what it is we are supposed to be doing?" Roy admitted.

"Over a year ago, my first wife went riding which resulted in her death. A few weeks ago, Lord Slade Wilson admitted to being responsible for her death. He could not have done that had he not had help from staff within our Manor. I want to find out who."

"Have you checked the Stable Master? He's fond of garnishing people's wages to put in his own pocket," Roy said.

"What!" Felicity exclaimed.

"I cleared him," Diggle said, "Walter's been investigating a way to pay the Stable Hands without going directly through Mr. Hunt"

"His ethics are questionable but he is too obsessed with his horses," Lyla commented

"Oh he is!" Roy interjected.

"Mr. Hunt firmly believes that the rider not the horse caused the accident. If he were involved in the plot, it would not have involved his horses," Lyla explained to Felicity.

They spent the next hour going through the list of suspects that they had each compiled. Diggle was impressed that Lyla had narrowed down the staff to an almost identical list to his. There was a difference of one or two names but they decided to focus on the overlapping names first.

Diggle was assigned to watching staff within the Manor. He would be doing some snooping in a few of the living quarters where their suspects were assigned.

Lyla was assigned to using her brother's network to find out information on them outside of Queen Manor, such as if they or their family had any gambling debts.

Roy was assigned to watching the movements of the suspects. From the stables he had a fairly good idea of the coming and going of staff.

Once they had left the room, Felicity scooted to the edge of her seat and reached across to take her husband's hands in hers.

"We will find the people responsible for Sandra's death and they will be punished," Felicity said.

Oliver stroked his thumb over his wife's hands.

"Thank you," he said looking at her.

She smiled softly at him, "Connor called me mother today,"

"He did," Oliver said pleasantly surprised.

"Yes and I realised something today,"

"What was that?"

"I love you Oliver,"

Oliver's heart hammered against his ribcage and it took every ounce of strength not to crash his lips against his wife's. Very slowly he leaned forward and kissed her. He made sure the kiss was tender and loving but he lost all control when his wife's tongue darted out and stroked his lower lip. The kiss increased in passion, both of their tongues teasing each other. He pulled his wife into his arms and walked up the stairs to their bed, all while his mouth was firmly attached to hers.

S-12

Felicity settled herself in for breakfast slowly. She felt very sore from the night before. Her husband looked at her guiltily, "Sorry, I may have been a bit too eager," he whispered to her.

"Nonsense, if anyone was eager it was I," his wife responded.

"Felicity dear, is everything ok?" Moira asked her.

"Yes everything is lovely, the breakfast this morning looks very delightful," she said to her mother-in-law.

"I noticed the vase that was outside your rooms has gone missing? It seems to have been replaced with a newer equally as nice vase," Moira commented.

"Oh," Felicity's eyes snapped to Oliver's.

"There was an accident mother," Oliver said evenly.

Connor bowed his head.

"I see, perhaps in your eagerness to love your wife, you forgot that your rooms were on the left and not the right?"

Felicity immediately started coughing up the bit of egg she had tried to swallow while her father-in-law laughed heartily. Felicity did not find the insinuation funny at all, particularly in light of the fact that last night was the first night they made love to each other. Did her mother-in-law have eyes in the wall? At least her husband only had a light blush at the back of his neck, he had kept the rest of his face calm. Thankfully Thea had yet to arrive for breakfast. She could only imagine what her sister-in-law would have said.

"Mother, the vase was replaced and the guilty party was punished," Oliver said.

"Punished? Is that why my daughter-in-law had problems sitting this morning?" Moira asked with an evil smirk on her face.

"Hmm?" Connor asked confused. He was the one that broke the vase, what did his mother have to do with it?

"Eat your eggs," Oliver instructed his son before turning back to his mother with a reproachful look. His mother should not be making those insinuations in front of his son.

"Mother since you approve of the new vase, there is nothing more left to be discussed on this matter,"

The rest of the breakfast continued on in silence though Felicity could swear Moira was watching her closely. As they left the room arm in arm Felicity whispered to her husband, "you're right, she doesn't miss anything!"

S-13

Later that day Felicity arrived at the offices of Queen Shipping where Oliver was spending his day. She had never been there before but she needed to see her husband urgently. The clerk at the desk didn't believe who she was and refused to let her see Oliver, at her wits end, Felicity used her loud voice to call her husband to the front of the office.

He came running out, Diggle right behind him, "Felicity! What's wrong?" he asked his eyes running over her body to ensure she was alright. Once he was close enough his hands settled on her shoulders.

"My friend, Francisco Ramon in Spain sent me a message. The Russian is in Spain," she whispered quietly.

"I know that, my friend Anatoly informed me." Oliver said dropping one hand to her back and guiding her towards his office where staff would not over hear them. He didn't forget to throw a glare at the clerk.

"You have a Russian friend?" she asked once they were all safely in his office.

"Yes remember I told you I was able to bribe some of the crew to return me to England. Anatoly was the first mate on the boat. He threw the Captain overboard and took control. I rewarded him handsomely but he has had to live a life in the shadows because the Russian is looking for him. He keeps track of the Russian in the hopes that one day, he can be free."

"Well that day is fast approaching. The Russian leaves tomorrow for Egypt to meet up with the Senegalese Slave Trader Baron Reiter,"

Diggle growled, "that man sold me on to the ship with Oliver, he is the lowest kind of human betraying his own tribe and race. I lost many of my brothers to his kind."

Felicity agreed, "Iris's father, Jolayemi, we call him Joe for short, is dedicated to thwarting the Baron. His own tribe and family was sold into slavery by Reiter as well. None of them survived the Middle Passage. Iris is all he has left."

"He'll be there for two months. I suggest we leave next week and apprehend The Russian ourselves,"

"Absolutely not Felicity," Oliver said. His wife was crazy.

"Wait before you two go through the whole you're not going argument only for Felicity to win, how do you propose to get to Egypt?" Diggle asked.

Oliver glared at his valet.

"Lord Palmer has indicated that The Emerald Archer and Al-Saher will be ready by next week. Captain Jason Garrick will sail The Emerald Archer straight to India while, the Al-Saher will sail to Egypt. Remember when we pass the cargo over land from one ship to another, the empty ship can't sit in a bay for 3 months. We do regional trading. No one will question the Al- Saher going to Egypt."

"Where did you come up with those names?" her husband asked her.

Felicity blushed a bit, "the first one was inspired by you and the second one was suggested by a Bedouin one of my cousins knows well,"

Oliver titled his head curiously; in one of Sara's letters she had mentioned a Bedouin tribe. He briefly wondered if it was the same Bedouins that Felicity's family knew but then he quickly discarded that notion. The world was a huge place and he doubted coincidences like that happened.

"And how do you propose we catch The Russian?" her husband asked.

"Joe, Dmitri and his brother have been working on setting up a trap for him," she said. "I won't be in any danger. We will just be there to interrogate him when they catch him."

Having just gotten over one fight, Oliver really didn't want to start another one with his wife. He sighed and nodded his ok. He did not miss the smirk that was present of Diggle's face.

S-14

They would be leaving early the next morning. With Felicity's planning, everything was in place and they both decided to spend the afternoon with their family. Connor was upset that he couldn't go but Oliver insisted he needed to stay home for his protection. They only planned to be gone about a month and half. Thea wanted to go as well but Robert disagreed. Moira pointed out that Thea needed to remain behind to start planning for their Christmas celebration. The Queens were famous in The Ton for their Christmas Gala. Felicity had pulled Thea aside and gave her some of the books that Connor had been using to learn to read. She advised her to go slowly and be patient as the beginning could be very challenging.

That night Oliver met with Lyla and Roy. Diggle would be going to Egypt with him, even though he wanted Diggle to stay and keep an eye on things there, he couldn't deny him the opportunity of taking The Russian down. He hoped they would be able to handle everything. They could talk to his father and Walter if they noticed anything unusual. He also told them they could approach Ronnie for advice as he was back at work. When he was finished briefing them, he had to drag his wife away from Connor's room. He wanted to enjoy their last night in a proper bed before they were forced to endure the living conditions on the ship. When he drifted off to sleep he was thoroughly satisfied and happy.

Chapter Text

S-1

Oliver watched his wife as she stood on the bow of the boat watching the sunset. The rays made her hair look almost reddish blonde. It was the end of their first day at sea, an unusual day since it was quite calm. The boat sailed well, though he didn't see any significant improvement over other designs. Lord Palmer definitely struck him as a tad bit eccentric. Felicity had selected Captain Carter Hall for this boat. He seemed quite young to Oliver but she assured him he had the experience. He knew the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea quite well. His father, Admiral John Hall, had been stationed abroad for his entire career. Carter grew up in India and Africa. Even though he was English by heritage, he had made his home on those seas. This was the perfect job for him. His wife was an Egyptian woman that supposedly descended from a High Priestess that served Ramses the Wise.

Oliver and Felicity were staying in the Captain's cabin. The Captain was usually given private quarters away from the crew. Being owners of the boat, the Captain and Crew couldn't complain without fear that they would be fired. Felicity paid her sailors well for their loyalty and silence. They would not find another company that would pay them so well.

They had sailed out of the channel westward into the Atlantic to avoid the Bay of Biscay. Once they passed the Bay they would cut back east to the Cape of St. Vincent and head into the Mediterranean. The end of fall was approaching and the Mediterranean was going to be rough. Despite how well travelled his wife was, Oliver could not help but be worried for her safety.

Once the sun sank below the horizon, Felicity made her way back to the wheelhouse where Oliver was with the Captain. With the sun gone, the wind was even colder than before and Oliver wrapped his arms around his wife once she was close enough.

"Let's retire for the night," he said.

"Ok," Felicity agreed.

"I can have supper brought to your cabin," Captain Hall said.

"We would be most grateful," Felicity responded.

They made their way down to the cabin. Even though it was the Captain's cabin it was small. The bed was small and it would be a tight fit for the two of them. They both changed into their night clothes before there was a knocking on the door. Oliver collected their simple meal for the night and placed it on the table. Felicity started eating right away but Oliver stared at the food.

"I know it's not as good as the food at the Manor but I can assure you it is quite edible," Felicity commented.

Oliver gave her a wry smile and started eating. He would not tarnish her good mood with his problems. It was hard not to think about the last time he set sail for Africa and the consequences of that trip. He should never have agreed to go on it but if he didn't go on it, then all the men he had saved on that ship bound to America would be slaves. He could not think of Diggle as a slave beaten at the whim of a plantation owner.

After sending their plates back to the galley, Oliver settled onto the bed first, holding his hand out for his wife to join him. She immediately joined him, settling on her side with most of her body leaning on him. Her head snuggled into his neck. Her hand slipped under his garments and slowly started stroking his chest. He looked down to see a spark of mischief in Felicity's eyes. She knew exactly what she was initiating. His wife was certainly adventurous in all aspects of her life and he liked that very much.

S-2

The next morning, Felicity sipped on tea while the boat rocked from side to side. She had enjoyed spending the night at sea with Oliver. She wasn't sure what it would be like on the small bed but it had been wonderful. They both woke up at the crack of dawn. It was difficult to sleep a full night when the boat would sometimes list far on one side, when larger than usual waves hit them. If it weren't for her husband's strong grip on her, she might have fallen off the bed a few times. She had changed out of her dress from the day before into a pair of brown breeches and a plain white shirt.

"What are you wearing?" Oliver asked her watching the way the pants outlined her thighs and butt.

Felicity looked down to her clothing. Surely he didn't expect her to stay in a dress.

"The clothes I usually wear when I sail," she responded. "You certainly didn't expect me to wear skirts or dresses for the entire trip? I could easily trip and fall. This is a boat, not a ballroom."

"I know it's a boat, I'm just surprised," Oliver said. "You didn't change for the trip to Scotland,"

"No I didn't but that was a short voyage. This isn't and the waters are going to be rough. I don't want to trip over my dress while I'm trying to keep my balance on deck. The last thing I need is to run head first into one of the masts!"

Oliver frowned, "no we certainly don't want that,"

"Good, I'll be on the deck with the Captain checking our progress," Felicity said leaving the cabin.

Before she closed the door to their cabin, Oliver had a nice view of her rear end, a view the rest of the sailors would be getting to see. Oliver made a mental note to reprimand any sailor he caught staring at his wife.

S-3

Thea found the stable hand she was looking for right where she expected to find him, the stables, telling her father's horse off for eating too much. She couldn't hold back her giggle which caused his attention to snap towards her.

"Good day, my Lady," he said but there was no warmth in the greeting.

"Hello," Thea responded. "Can you ready my horse for me?"

"Of course my Lady," he said putting down the fork that he had been using to clean the stable.

Thea watched amused as he struggled with Mia. Her horse was very picky, not staying still at all for the stable hand to get her saddled up.

"What is your name?" Thea asked curiously as she watched him trying to saddle her horse.

He eyed her suspiciously before answering, "it is Roy, my Lady."

"Roy," Thea repeated liking the way it rolled off her tongue easily.

Mr. Hunt appeared far sooner than Thea had anticipated interrupting their conversation much to Thea's chagrin. He was assigned to escort her wherever on the property she wanted to go. It had not escaped Thea's attention that since her brother's departure the security around the Manor had increased. Both her mother's and her schedules had been reduced to activities within the Manor. They were not going to any social tea parties but hosting them instead. It ensured that they were essentially stuck there until he returned.

Mr. Hunt took over the task of preparing Mia from Roy and shooed him away. Before he left Thea made sure to hand Roy a piece of paper with a large T on it.

"What's this?" he asked confused.

"It's the letter T. T is the first letter of my name,"

S-4

They had been at sea for five days already. North of them was the south coast of France, south of them was the north coast of Africa. England seemed very far away. The voyage had been uneventful so far and Oliver hoped he wasn't cursing his luck by thinking so. They had adjusted easily to their temporary living arrangements. He had grown very accustomed to seeing his wife all day. She was always in his line of sight. The few times she would go below deck without him, he would send Diggle down to make sure she was left in peace. He half wondered how he would survive when they returned to England, where he would not be able to see her so much..

"You've been drinking that tea every morning," Oliver observed. "Is it your secret to avoiding sea sickness?"

He watched as his wife shifted uncomfortably. He immediately knew she was keeping something from him.

"Fe li ci ty," he said enunciating each syllable of her name. "What aren't you telling me?"

She sighed and placed the tea down before she decided to pick it up again as the rocking of the boat was causing it to slosh over the side a bit. Her eyes darted to his and he could tell she was trying to figure out what to say.

"We never formerly discussed children," she said. "I mean I know you want to have with me but we never talked about anything specific like when."

"Children?" Oliver spluttered out. "What does children have to do with this?"

"This tea is drawn from a contraceptive herb used by the Amerindians in South America. One of my father's other companies was the shipping line from British Guiana and the Caribbean to England. We had a clientele of influential Ladies that did not wish to manufacture a baby every year for their husbands. The herb sold very well. When I got married, the staff at that business sent it to me as a wedding gift. I started drinking it when we became more intimate. I really don't think now is a good time to become pregnant."

Oliver stared blankly at his wife. He did not know how to react. They had never discussed children and now was indeed a bad time for a pregnancy but he would have still liked to have known what his wife was doing. He knew it was her body and she could drink what she liked but her decision also had consequences for him. Not wanting to respond, lest he inadvertently said something horrible to his wife, he left her in the cabin and headed up onto the deck to think.

S-5

Oliver had keen eyesight and the best place to make use of that was on the main mast as a look out. It was also a place where Oliver could be alone. He needed to clear his mind to think properly. He was thankful that he had an iron stomach because the rocking of the boat was much worse up there.

He surveyed the water in front of the ship to ensure that the passage ahead was clear. He also searched the horizon for other ships. There were many pirates in the waters. The most popular targets were ships that carried gold back to the Europe but merchant ships were also targets. The Queen shipping line had several security precautions in place. Felicity had said Smoak East India took several precautions as well but he had never questioned her in detail about them.

At around noon, a blob appeared on the horizon South-West of them. He watched as it got closer until he recognised the outline of the ship that was approaching them. Oliver felt like his heart dropped straight out of his body onto the deck of the ship. A cold sense of dread filled him. Why had he thought of their voyage as uneventful! The blob was the famous Amazo, Captained by the ruthless pirate Fryers and his second in command, Ivo. This band of pirates was known for their cruelty. They raided every ship they came across. Anything useful was removed, including sails, riggings, gold trimmed emblems and sheets off the Captain's bed. The ship was then sunk with all of the crew abroad but one. They would then drop that one crew member off at the nearest port for him to relate the tale of the encounter with the Amazo. They enjoyed spreading fear.

He had first encountered the Amazo on the trip to Africa with Slade. In hindsight that should have been his first warning that that voyage was doomed. The ship they were travelling in was slow. It was filled with passengers heading for an exciting African Safari and not with precious jewels or gold. What they did have was guns, lots of them. They waited for the ship to get close before they started shooting. It had been an intense fire battle. The sea was rough, and a prolonged encounter endangered both ships. It was only when the Amazo was at risk of sinking with their boat that it eventually pulled away. Their boat was left sinking slowly, Slade, himself and three others managed to escape the ship on a raft and after drifting for a few days they made it to shore. Oliver now wondered if maybe Slade had paid the pirates to attack the ship, hoping that Oliver would die in the attack. That attack had been the first time that Oliver had ever killed someone to survive. He had since added a few more to the total.

"Carter!" Oliver cried from the mast. "The Amazo," he said pointing in the direction of the ship.

"Are you sure?" Captain Carter called up.

"Yes!"

The deck below him became very active as the Captain started barking orders to the crew. He was adjusting the sails. They had only been using two before, now the third was being hoisted. The Captain was clearly aiming to out run the ship. Oliver was torn between watching the ship and wanting to get down to the deck to Felicity. Despite being dressed like a normal member of the crew, the pony tail that she was sporting for this trip made it easy to distinguish her on deck. She was actively assisting with the rigging. He noticed Captain Hall made a slight adjustment of their course so they weren't sailing directly into the current. It would take them off course but it they managed to avoid the Amazo, Oliver didn't care.

Carter signalled for him to come down and he was replaced with a young boy. On the deck, Carter and Felicity were surveying a detailed map of the area to see if there were any passages they could use to their advantage.

"They are still gaining on us. We can try out the new canon?" Felicity suggested.

"I prefer fleeing to fighting. It tends to guarantee the safe delivery of goods," the Captain said.

"Is this new canon like this new ship which isn't that different from other ships," Oliver questioned.

Felicity pursed her lips, "This ship is fairing far better in these waters than others,"

"My Lord and Lady, now is not the time to be disagreeing with each other," the Captain intervened.

"No its not," Felicity agreed, "It's time to test the canon,"

They went below deck to a canon that was bolted down at the stern of the ship on the starboard side.

"Looks like a regular canon," Oliver commented.

"It can shoot 20% further than the traditional canon. We should be able to hit them before they hit us,"

"Let's test that theory then," Oliver said searching for a cannonball. A deckhand appeared with one and the canon was loaded.

"Ok someone has to aim it," Felicity muttered.

"I can do that," Oliver said.

"Great," Felicity said clapping her hands together. "This would be so much easier if the machine could aim itself. Perhaps I should suggest such a design to Ray,"

"Now is not the time to be thinking about Ray, love," Oliver adjusting the angle at which he wanted to shoot.

"We're ready," Carter declared.

"Excellent they are right where I thought they would be," Felicity declared peaking out, "fire."

The first shot splashed down just in front of the boat, while they were reloading, they heard the sound of another canon, the Amazo's response. Diggle called out that the shot had landed about half a mile off of the starboard side.

"Oh so it does work," Oliver said.

"Of course it works, I only use the best for my ships," she stated crossly.

"We're not through yet. One shot isn't going to ward them off,"

"We just need to keep them far enough away. Soon the winds will pick up and I'm confident we'll outrun them with all the sails up," Captain Carter said.

It was a long day firing the canon whenever the Amazo got too close but that didn't ward off the boat, heading into the night they were still being followed.

"I'll keep first watch," Oliver said as he headed to the main mast.

"Are you sure?" Felicity asked uncertainly

"Yeah, you get some rest,"

"I can't rest,"

"Diggle will keep you company then,"

Oliver climbed to the top determined to remain vigilant all night. He did not trust men he did not know to keep them safe. That night they sailed with no lights. He was thankful that it was a full moon so there was enough light for him to keep a close eye on the horizon for any approaching ships. He observed that Felicity and Diggle were on the deck talking. He was positive that Diggle would keep Felicity sufficiently safe while he was occupied.

S-6

"Mr. Diggle," Felicity said as she stared out the reflection of the moon on the surface of the water.

"Call me Diggle, please my Lady," he reminded her.

"Diggle, this must be quite difficult for you?" she asked.

"I do hate boats my Lady" Diggle admitted. The last time he had been on a boat he had been shackled below deck with dozens of other men destined to become slaves on the plantations. But Felicity proved to be more perceptive than he thought, when she chose to move the conversation in another direction.

"Not the boat, returning to the land of your birth to apprehend the man that sold you into slavery."

"I have dreamt of this moment for a long time, my Lady. I have lived to get my revenge,"

"Ah, but what do you intend to do when you succeed?"

"What do you mean my Lady?"

"You'll be home, well not home home, but home, it makes sense in my head. Do you intend to stay in Africa or return with us? I know Oliver would never force you to do anything you don't want to."

"I must admit that I have not thought that far ahead yet,"

"Then I'll leave you with your thoughts. My husband is being stubborn as usual. He'll probably spend his entire night up there. I should get some rest then. It makes no sense both of us being cranky tomorrow."

Diggle saw her safely to her cabin, double checking to make sure the door was firmly locked before he returned to the main deck. By Dawn of the next day, the Amazo had fallen significantly behind. By the end of that day the ship had disappeared but the tension among the crew remained. They were still five days away from Alexandria. The Amazo wasn't known for going that far into the Mediterranean but there was always room for a first time.

S-7

Roy was busy replacing a horse shoe on one of the horses when he saw her arrive out of the corner of his eye. Every day she had been coming early and making him saddle her horse for her before he was saved by Mr. Hunt. She would leave a piece of paper with a letter on it each day. He currently had T, H, E, and A, she claimed it spelt her name.

This time he was prepared for her. He had one of the other boys prepare her horse early for him. She would not see him make a fool of himself again.

"Your horse is ready my Lady," Roy said pointing over to Mia.

He watched the surprise wash over her. She seemed to be disappointed that she wouldn't have her daily source of entertainment from him.

"Ok, I'll be on my way then, please assist me?" she said motioning for him to give her a boost on to the saddle.

Roy frowned. "Where is your escort?"

Lady Thea gave him an innocent shrug, "I believe my father just sent him on an errand,"

"You require an escort," he stated firmly.

"No need, I'm just going up to the course," she replied.

"His Lord was very strict with his instructions. You are not to be riding anywhere on the property without company,"

Thea appeared to stop and think that over for a second before she commented, "I guess you're just going to have to accompany me!"

Roy looked around and blanched. He was the only one there. Where was Lyla when he needed her? He had assured Lord Oliver that he would ensure that his family was safe while he was gone but he hadn't thought it would involve riding a horse. Roy grumbled, he was going to have to saddle another horse for himself. He went to fetch the necessary items and by the time he made it back, Lady Thea had already mounted her horse unassisted.

With a mischievous smile on her face she kicked her horse in the side and sprinted off. Her voice floated back to him, "see you up there!"

It was only then that he realised that Lady Thea had just manipulated the situation. He hurriedly prepared his horse and followed after her. He found her gracefully jumping over the obstacles, which left him sitting uncomfortably on an animal he despised. When they returned to the stables she handed him another piece of parchment with an R on it.

"That's an R, the first letter in your name Roy," Thea said happily.

Roy however was not happy.

"Lady Thea I am not some pity case for you to feel like you completed a charitable act. My last friend died so unless you want the same fate, leave me alone,"

He dismounted his horse, helped her off and proceeded with getting the horses back to their saddles, ignoring Lady Thea.

S-8

The days after they first spotted the Amazo were tense. Felicity had barely seen Oliver, which was very strange considering they were both on the same boat. He hadn't relaxed for a second, he was either on the main mast scanning the horizons, catnapping during the day when she was on the main deck with Diggle or consulting with the Captain about their course and their munitions supply. She eventually managed to corner him on the bow while he was eating the slop that the cook had prepared for lunch that day.

"You know I thought angry Oliver was bad but silent Oliver is much worse. You've barely spoken to me the last three days,"

"I've been trying to make sure we stay alive. The Amazo isn't known for letting its prey go. They've stalked ships from Europe into the Caribbean!"

"They don't know where we are going. We could be headed to Greece, Italy, anywhere in the Mediterranean."

"We don't know that for a fact. I am not relaxing until we are safely docked in Alexandria. I encountered the Amazo before with Slade and now I'm wondering if that was planned and if this is planned. I will not let any pirate lay a hand on you."

Felicity could see that she wasn't going to get anywhere debating the topic further with her husband.

"Can you come to bed tonight, I miss you," she said slipping her hand into his free one.

Oliver looked out to a point on the horizon where they had last seen the Amazo. She scanned the horizon in front of her as well wondering what to do to take some of the burden off of his shoulders.

"What's wrong? You're doing that crinkly thing with your eyebrows." Oliver observed.

She looked at him, "I think in a few hours time we'll be sailing into a squall."

"What makes you say that?"

"The birds, none of them are flying in the direction we're going."

Two hours later, the ship swayed violently from one side to the other. Everywhere was battened down, including the Captain and First Mate in the Wheelhouse. It took both the Captain and the First mate to hold the ship steady on course. Felicity had gotten her wish, Oliver was with her, holding on to her below deck. It may not have been how she wanted her husband back but she certainly appreciated having him there during the scarier moments of the storm. By the time the storm broke the crew was exhausted.

S-9

Thea hadn't been back to the stables since the incident with Roy. Not that she was giving up, oh no, Roy was not getting off so easily. The real reason was that her mother had monopolised her time to work on the invitations for their Christmas Ball. Each invitation had to be perfect and they had to make sure not a member of the Ton was left out. The Queens needed to remind the Ton why they were at the top of the food chain, and an exquisite ball that showed off the Queen resources would reinforce that message.

She also knew that her mother was paying extra attention to the details this year because it would soon be time to find her a husband. Many suitors would want to marry her in hopes of earning favour with her father and brother. The last person that fell out of favour with her father had been ruined. She had realised early that she may never find a husband that she loved, but rather a man that she was able to tolerate and respect. It made her envious of her brother. He had managed to fall into a second marriage with a woman who was perfect for him. Every day she watched them fall more in love with each other. Some days it was so sickening but she could not begrudge her brother or Felicity their happiness.

Her mother showed her a note that Lord Davis would be visiting. He was one of the more popular bachelors at the moment. His family was well respected in their circle. He was probably trying to get ahead of the rest of the suitors and make a good impression on her family. After word of his visit got out, she could expect others to visit. It made her wonder how much time she really had left at Queen Manor. If she did not have much time left, then she certainly needed to up her game in teaching Roy to read. As soon as she finished helping her mother will all the preparations, she would re-start giving Roy letters. She planned to have the entire alphabet finished in a week.

S-10

"Alexandria!" the lookout on the mast called out.

Oliver let out a breath he hadn't realised he had been holding. They could finally get off the ship. He glanced behind them and was relieved to see no ships. The voyage had been a lot rougher than he expected but his darling wife was no worse for wear. He wondered how she did it? How was she so bright all the time? Even though the voyage had been tense, his wife's sunny disposition kept the crew from stressing about the Amazo and the storm. There was something about her that made people trust her and follow her.

Four hours later, he was stepping onto land for the first time in almost three weeks. The world swayed a little bit as if he was still on the boat but all in all he was in one piece.

"Hold on to your money pouches my Lord," Captain Carter advised, "there are many young thieves here."

"We'll be fine," he told him. He glanced at his valet and noticed that he seemed very contemplative.

Diggle was back on the continent of his birth. It was strange to know that he was sort of home. His real home was still thousands of miles away but that warmer weather was nice. This was Mother Africa but he did not know if he could go back to the ways of his tribe. He was here for revenge, to make the Baron pay for the countless families he had ripped apart but he had new ways, new traditions from his adopted home. The tribe he knew probably no longer existed. Maybe one day he would return to see from himself but now was not the time for that. He had several duties to attend to. Lady Smoak might feel comfortable in Egypt but both he and Lord Queen did not miss the way the merchants on the street eyed her. Lord Queen had tugged her closer and Diggle had instinctively taken up position on her other side shielding her from anyone that dare reach out to her. Diggle may be on the continent of his birth but he knew his home was now with Lord and Lady Queen.

Felicity eagerly led the way to North Star Shipping. It was a tiny building near the port. Oliver had been half expecting to see Barry but he knew Barry would be on the second leg of his journey now, sailing from the Arabian Sea to India. He wondered where the Flash was docked. He had looked for the boat.

Opening the door, Felicity was immediately greeted by two blonde men and with blue eyes.

"Dmitri, Eddie!" Felicity exclaimed in happiness holding her arms open wide to hug both men at the same time.

"It's been years!" one said as they hugged her back.

"Oliver, Diggle, this is Dmitri and his brother, Edik or Eddie as an English Lady who tried to take him home to England started calling him one day,"

"You will never stop telling that story will you?" Eddie said to her.

"Nope," Felicity said shaking her head, the simple pony tail, shaking from side to side.

"Oliver, your friend Sara has told us much about you!" Dmitri said in a thick Russian accent.

"Sara's here?" Oliver asked. He had sent her that message a few months ago. He had never received a reply so he wasn't sure if she had received it.

"Yes, she is here," he said to Oliver before turning to Felicity, "And you will not believe who accompanied her here?"

"Who?" Felicity asked.

"Nyssa Al-Ghul," both Dmitri and Eddie said at the same time.

"Nyssa Al-Ghul, daughter of Ra's Al-Ghul, Leader of the most powerful Bedouin tribe?" Felicity asked.

"Da!"

"Where are they now?" Felicity asked.

"They are staying with Nora." Eddie said.

"We have some important information about the Russian. He's coming to Cairo to meet up with the Baron." Felicity said to them.

"Yes we know. It is a trap planned by Ra's Al-Ghul. We are offering whatever help we can. He has suffered like us," Dmitri said.

At Oliver's inquisitive look, the brothers further explained their history, "The Russian took our beloved sister, Svetlana when she was only 16. We were able to track her down in the harem of a sultan but she died when we tried to extract her. We met Joe when we were trying to find information on The Russian. We started working together and then we met Barry and Felicity. Our agendas were similar so we aligned. The company is really a front for our revenge. But enough of this talk. You must be tired after your long journey here. Nora is home and she would be most upset if we didn't send you to her right away. We can talk more at dinner."

Felicity nodded and soon they were on their way to see her aunt.

S-11

Since Lady Felicity's departure Lyla had been bored. Without her Lady, all of the other maids thought they could assign her work to do under the guise that her assistance was needed. Most of the workload handed to her so far was sewing and she hated sewing, even though she was very good at it. She was currently working on new napkins for the upcoming Christmas party when she was interrupted by Lady Thea.

"My Lady is there something I could help you with?" she asked standing and curtseying.

"Yes Lord Davis is visiting in one week. I require a new dress. Since I can't leave here, I was wondering if you would visit the store in town and order one for me. I was thinking something in red," Thea said

Lyla winced, "I don't think red is really appropriate for someone of your station. The traditional white would work well,"

"But it's so boring," Thea complained.

Lyla thought for a bit then an idea occurred to her, "How about white with a little bit of red lace trimming the skirt. It won't be traditional but it still be demure enough,"

"I love that idea! Please go immediately; I cannot wait to try it on. Lord Davis will be blown away,"

Lyla laughed, "Yes Lord Davis will not know what to do,"

S-12

Oliver found himself in a house situated on the outskirts of Alexandria. The house belonged to Nora Allen, wife of Henry Allen, the Matriarch of the Allen family. She was a kind lady with grey hair, wrinkles and a warm smile. She eagerly ushered them into her house and offered them tea on her porch which looked out to the Mediterranean.

"Felicity, I'm so sorry about Edward. You were his most precious treasure. All he ever wanted was for you to be happy." Nora said.

"I know," Felicity replied, Oliver squeezing her hand in support. Her father was still an open wound.

Nora look her over carefully with the watchful eye of a mother. Felicity fidgeted under the intense gaze. Finally Nora broke out with a smile,

"You're Happy! Your father will be so relieved. I have something for you" she bustled away and returned with a bundle of letters.

"This is correspondence between your father and I, he would want you to have it," she said handing it to her. She then clapped her hands together, "Now we need to celebrate but all of you cousins are out. Mary received a proposal from a nice young man in Greece. She's going with Elizabeth to see Henry. I hope he gives her his blessing. It's good for the girls to see their father but I'm getting off topic, where was I, oh right, celebration! Sara and Nyssa went to meet with a tribal leader and will be back tomorrow. We can have a huge party in a few days."

S-13

"Your aunt is Jewish?" Oliver asked as they settled into their bedroom. He had noticed that she had begun making preparations for Hanukkah which would be starting in a month.

"Actually the Allen's are Jewish, it is not a well publicized fact and it was probably the reason some of the Lords was so eager to confiscate our lands. The anti-Semitic movement has strong support in London. Is this going to be a problem?"

"No, it doesn't matter to me as long as I have you," He said pulling her into his arms.

"I see why you're so popular with the Ton, you can be quite the charmer,"

"I do aim to please my Lady,"

"As long as I am the only lady you're pleasing,"

"I don't know are there other Felicity Queen's in this world?"

"The world is a very large place, there could be a ninety year old Felicity Queen somewhere?"

He frowned, "no there is only one Felicity Queen, this one right here. Might I suggest we follow your aunt's advice and fell free to do what married couples do?" he said wiggling his eyebrows suggestively at her.

"I would rather have a proper bath first. I just spent 3 weeks on a boat," Felicity said.

"Then we have a bath together!" Oliver said picking his wife up bridal style and heading over to the tub.

S-14

Roy was very late. He had spent too much time flirting with the kitchen maid the night before and went to bed after midnight. He was supposed to be grooming the horses. He was outraged how well these horses were taken care of compared to the children he had left on the street. He had been back once when he accompanied the Elder Lord Queen to visit the Barrister who had saved his life. He had remained outside with the horses. A street kid had passed by as he expected, the sight of a carriage always drew them out to see what they could steal, and he gave the kid all of the wages he had earned up to that date. It was hard knowing what others faced while he watched the upper class. He had accompanied Lord Queen all that day. He observed other wealthy lords. It made him grateful that he had met Lady Queen. Unlike the rest of the Ton, she truly seemed to care what happened to others in society.

Stepping out of his room into the servant's corridor, he ran into Howard, the footman. A letter the man had been reading dropped onto the floor. Roy bent to pick up the letter, his eyes automatically scanning it. He couldn't read what was written but his eyes recognized the letters that Thea had been teaching him. He was particularly drawn to a combination of letters that he knew well, T,H,E,A, the Lady Thea's name.

Howard grabbed the letter from him, telling him to mind his own business. It was at this point he reminded Howard that he didn't need to worry since he couldn't read. He watched the man walk away before he moved. Instead of heading to the stables, he headed to the sewing room where he knew he would find Lyla. He spent a lot of time with the house maids in the evenings and he heard about the work they gave her. He had also heard that Lady Queen had requested napkins with Christmas wreaths hand sewn on them. The head housekeeper did not like Lyla and handed the task to her. The maids were taking bets on if she would finish on time.

Lyla was fortunately alone in the room when Roy poked his head in.

"Roy?" she queried when she saw him.

"I think we have a problem," Roy said filling her in on everything that had happened that morning, and the sinking feeling in his gut that told him Lady Thea was in trouble.

"I'll talk to Lord Queen," Lyla said. "You get to the stables, Mr. Hunt will have you head for being this late. And remember to pretend like nothing is wrong."

S-15

Lyla finished off the napkin she was working on as well as mending a dress for another maid before she set off to find Walter. She didn't want to appear too eager to see him in case she was being watched. He had stated at dinner that he would be organising a few items in the study for Lord Queen that day. She knocked on the door to the study, and was surprised to find Lord Queen was there with him.

"Lyla, is there something wrong?" Lord Queen asked.

She filled both men in on what Roy had told her.

"I was under the impression that Roy couldn't read?" Walter told her.

"He can't but after Lady Thea gave him written instructions that he could not understand, she was deeply embarrassed by her oversight and took it upon herself to teach him to read since she feels it is an essential part of his duties. She started with her name. That was how he recognized it on the letter."

Walter chuckled, "Priya is always talking about Karma. It's funny that Thea should take it upon herself to teach Roy to read and that good deed is returned in warning us about a possible plot against her."

"I find nothing humorous in this situation," Robert commented. "Howard had been cleared when we initially checked into him. We missed something and I want it found. I will not allow any harm to befall my daughter." He looked at Lyla, "tomorrow my daughter will accompany me into town. I want you to come with us Lyla. While you're assisting my daughter, I want you to ask your brother's contacts to look into Howard. We will also ask Barrister Raymond to look into the matter as well. He appears to be more competent than my usual sources. My daughter-in-law is an excellent judge of character and talent."

S-16

Later that evening, Walter informed Lord Queen that Lord Damian Smoak had come to visit his niece but in her absence he was asking to speak with him. Robert instructed him to bring their visitor to him in the study.

"Good evening, Lord Smoak," Robert said addressing the other man as he came into the study.

"Lord Queen, I came to visit my niece but it appears she is not here. I wanted to wait for her to return but your butler politely informed me that that would not be possible," Damian said smoothly.

"I'm afraid my son decided to take his new wife for another little trip," Lord Queen replied offering him a chair in front of the fireplace.

"So the rumours about her departing on the Al –Saher to visit her Uncle Henry in Egypt are true then?" Damian asked while Robert took a seat on a chair opposite him.

"I was not aware of such a rumour?" Robert responded.

"I doubt the Ton is brave enough to tell you what they say about you to your face, Lord Queen," Damian said.

"And what do they say about me?" Robert asked curiously.

"The usual things such as Lords should be careful with their daughters, and ships should avoid pirates. There's been an increase in pirate attacks lately but I have no fear for my niece. She is resourceful enough to survive an encounter; I'm not too sure about your son though. There was another little rumour a few years ago about your son barely surviving such an attack?"

A chill settled over Robert. "I can assure you my children are quite well thank you. The Queen Christmas Ball is in a month. I imagine you should be getting your invitation soon. You can speak with them then."

"I will have to take you up on that offer then Lord Queen," Damian said rising off his chair. "Thank you for your hospitality,"

Walter was waiting on the other side of the door to escort Lord Smoak out.

His son was right. Damian Smoak was involved in the conspiracy and the man had just openly threatened both his children. His mind went back to the conversation he had with Lyla earlier in the day. He was going to have to weed out his disloyal staff quickly. If it weren't for the upcoming ball, he would have sent both Moira and Thea away. His instincts were to double security but he knew that was the wrong move. That was probably what they wanted him to do. Instead he was going to change his wife's and daughter's schedule every day so no one but himself would know where they were supposed to be. Thea had already been informed that she was coming with him tomorrow and she was excited about it. He knew he was going to have to talk to his wife about the threat that their family faced and he was not looking forward to it. He retired for the night with a heavy heart hoping that in a month he would see his son again.

Chapter Text

Oliver awoke after the sun had risen. He was more tired than he thought. Felicity was still asleep in his arms. Not wanting to wake her, he decided to stay in bed and contemplate the Amazo. The more he thought about their run in, the more he was convinced the boat had been laying in wait for them. It would have been easy to note their departure from the dock and send a messenger pigeon to France or Spain, then another one on to Africa to notify whoever that they had set sail. That meant that the Amazo was involved and worked for the people they were up against. The situation was indeed a lot more complicated than they had realised. HIVE had roots in many countries.

If their departure from London had been tracked, could they be watching them in Alexandria as well? Perhaps it was time to turn the tables on them and set a trap for the Amazo. That boat was a serious threat to traders and it was time someone did something about it. This time when the Al-Saher left the docks, it was going to be fully equipped to tackle the Amazo.

S-2

It was lunch time by the time Oliver and Felicity presented themselves to Nora again. The old woman was happily bustling about the kitchen. Felicity went to the kettle and put some water to boil.

"Oh the love birds are finally up! We'll just skip straight through to lunch. I'm sure you worked up quite the appetite last night," she said. Felicity blushed.

"Your friend went out to explore the Town a bit. He'll be back soon, Sara and Nyssa will be here in an hour or two, the guys are also coming by to discuss the plan. I recommend you stay in until they arrive. We don't want word spreading too fast about your arrival."

"We'll stay put Aunt Nora," Felicity confirmed pulling out her bag of herbs for her tea.

Oliver frowned at the bag. They had never completed that conversation.

"Felicity honey, you're having tea with lunch?" Nora asked curiously.

"Yes," Felicity said politely glancing at the frown on Oliver's face.

Nora soon had lunch served. When Felicity was in a foreign country she liked to eat the local food and Nora knew that. She had prepared Koshary, a typical Egyptian dish that consisted ofrice, black lentils, chick peas, garlic, topped with a spicy tomato sauce and fried onions. It was a vegetarian dish. Nora knew most men didn't like vegetarian food so she also prepared some samak mashwy which was essentially grilled fish. It was a typical dish found in Alexandria. For desert, Nora stocked up on plenty baklava. Felicity adored that. She would also take boxes back for the staff at Smoak East India.

As she settled onto the table, Nora noticed a chill settle over the couple and she sensed an oncoming fight.

"I just remembered, I need to pick up some pigeons for the hamam mahsi tonight," she said standing up to leave the room. When she reached the door she turned around to speak to her niece.

"Felicity, if your mother was here she would tell you the best part about fighting is the sex afterwards. I'll be gone for an hour," she winked at her and walked away.

Felicity choked on her food and a red-faced Oliver patted her back for her. He waited until they had finished their meal before he decided they needed to clear the air on the situation. Felicity had already started cleaning up the dishes so her aunt would not have anything to do when she returned.

"Felicity," he said softly, pulling her attention away from the dishes in her hand, "we need to talk,"

"Then talk," she replied turning back to the dishes in the basin.

He ran his hand across his face in frustration. He wanted her full attention but she was not giving it to him. He grabbed her hands in his and pulled her towards the chairs they had been sitting on previously. He pulled up his chair so that he was sitting opposite her. He kept both of her hands in his.

"I understand it's your body. I know it's your choice but I would have liked to have an input into your decision. It is something that affects both of us. Even if you decide against what I say, I don't mind as long as I get the chance to express my opinion. This is a partnership and it involves both of us."

"So you're saying that you disagree with my decision?" Felicity asked him.

"No I'm saying I just wanted to know about the course of action you were choosing. If you had told me what you were considering, I would have supported you 100%. I agree. A child right now would not be in our best interest. And since this tea," Oliver said looking over to her bag of herbs, "can allow us to enjoy our nights without the fear of conceiving. I support your use, once there is no harm to you,"

"There is no harm to me," Felicity said with a small smile on her face.

Oliver nodded, "are we," he asked tentatively, "ok?"

Felicity nodded, Oliver leaned forward to kiss her. She met him halfway, soon the dishes were forgotten and Oliver was lifting Felicity into his arms. After stumbling into a wall a few times, it was difficult to navigate an unknown room when Felicity was practically attached to his face, they made it back to the bedroom.

S-3

The soft sounds of people talking drew them out onto the porch after their afternoon nap. They found a group waiting for them. Oliver recognised Dmitri and Eddie but not the other man and woman seated across from them.

"The lovebirds are out," Nora chirped coming up behind them with a tray of scones.

"So this is the famous Oliver Queen that stole our Felicity from us," a tall dark skinned man said as he scanned Oliver.

"Joe," Felicity said moving over to hug him before hugging the woman he was with. Oliver bristled a bit. The sight of other men near Felicity bothered him.

"Oliver is Joe and his daughter Iris," she said introducing them.

"Ah," Oliver said. Iris was the girl that Barry was in love with.

"We're just waiting on Nyssa and Sara now," Nora informed them. "Why don't you tell us about your voyage down here?"

They chatted about the journey for a while before two women dressed in white Bedouin robes arrived.

"Ollie," Sara said surprised before rushing over to hug him. She hadn't seen him since she left England.

This time it was Felicity's turn to bristle.

"What are you doing here?" Sara asked him.

"Felicity heard that the Russian was going to be in Egypt so she insisted that we come right away," Oliver explained.

Sara laughed, "Sailing across the seas because his wife demanded it. That doesn't sound like the Ollie I remember," she teased.

Felicity snorted and Oliver realised he was being rude. "Sara this is my wife, Felicity Queen. Felicity this is Laurel's younger sister Sara,"

"It's nice to meet you. I've heard a lot about you," Felicity said to the younger woman.

"Don't believe everything Ollie says," Sara warned her.

"It's kind of easy to when Laurel agrees with him," Felicity told her.

"Laurel? You've seen Laurel?" Sara said. She then turned to Oliver, "you didn't tell me you went to see Laurel," she accused.

"We did but we'll talk about that in private later," Oliver said.

Sara openly glared at him, "I suppose I should introduce you to Nyssa Al-Ghul, my partner," Sara said pointing to the silent woman behind her.

Nyssa nodded at them.

"We don't have much time so let's get straight to the point. In three days we meet with The Russian and The Baron," Nora said.

Dmitri took over from her, "It was a tricky trap to set. We needed something that would attract both the Baron and the Russian to Egypt. For Baron Reiter we knew exactly what that carrot was, the Shanti Tribe; for the Russian, with information we learned from Sara, his carrot was the women of Nyssa's tribe."

"How exactly did you use that to lore them here?" Felicity asked curiously.

"Ever since my father rejected that vile man, he has wanted to punish my father. A member my tribe Al-Owal, who my father famously defeated to earn the title of Ra's and lead the tribe, will contact The Russian through known channels. He will be offering The Russian a deal. In return for giving The Russian half the women of our tribe and my father, The Russian will use his resources to ensure that Al-Owal becomes the new head of the tribe. The meeting is at 9:00am at a coffee shop in Cairo."

"Similarly, a known enemy of the Shanti tribe is supposed to meet with the Baron in Siwa on the same day to discuss a plan to destroy the tribe," Joe revealed.

"Wait, so while you meet with Baron Reiter, in Siwa, The Bedouins' meet with the Russian outside of Cairo, isn't that straining your resources?" Oliver asked

"We have many resources at our disposal. They will never suspect us of planning a move on opposite sides of the country. Joe will be in Siwa and Eddie and I will be in Cairo," Dmitri said.

"Iris and I get to stay here and plan the celebration party for both the success of the mission and Felicity's wedding," Nora interjected.

"And remember that the Hot Sails boats are docking soon. Someone has to run the business in our absence," Dmitri stated.

"Then Oliver and I will also have to split up," Felicity stated.

"What?" Oliver asked alarmed looking at his wife as if she had grown another head.

"Diggle and I will go with Joe to Siwa. I assume we leave tonight if we intend to make it there on time and Oliver can go with Dmitri to Cairo,"

"No," Oliver said firmly.

"Why not Oliver?" Felicity challenged him. "We've been working on apprehending these men for a long time. Diggle would want to go to Siwa and you would want to go to Cairo."

Oliver opened his mouth to say something but she cut him off, "and don't tell me to stay here where it is safe. I want to be out there with the team where it is unsafe. I suspect my help is going to be needed more so with the Baron than the Russian,"

"I am not comfortable with you being so far away in a dangerous situation," he confessed, his blue eyes pleading her hers to understand.

"I will be safe. I've know Joe long before I met you and he's never failed to keep me safe. Diggle will be coming with us too so you have nothing to worry about. I've heard your say Oliver but I've made my decision," Felicity said.

Oliver flashed back to their earlier conversation and he knew he had to accept her decision. He looked at Joe and Diggle, "You make sure she stays safe."

S-4

He carefully moved through the jungle to where the lion and the girl were located. His trap had worked perfectly. The man eating beast had found its way to the bait he had set. She was a good friend, who was determined to help him fulfil his rite of passage and earn the title to be the next tribal chief. A lion had been terrorising their village for months. At first it was only attacking livestock then after a farmer was killed, it gained the taste for human blood. They had lost 10 tribesmen subsequently. The youth of the tribe was given the task to hunt down the beast. Three had been killed in the process. He was never the best hunter but he knew his plan would work.

As he was approaching the beast from behind, a twig snapped under his foot and the lion turned its attention to him, abandoning his approach of the girl. As the lion was about to pounce on him he woke up.

Walter's heart was beating fast, he had not thought about that challenge in a long time. He had failed. His best friend, who had been following him, had saved him from the lion and eventually became chief, earning the damsel in distress at the same time. Walter had been assigned to village shaman to learn the ways of the tribe and become a future advisor to the chief. He looked at a heavy brown tome he had been writing in. He was writing his tribes history and culture in it. All his memories were recorded there. He didn't want his culture to be lost over time.

Since coming to England he had studied many books on English culture and history. The Queens had a vast library. He had yet to read half of the books in it. It was strange to dream of the lion at a time like this. He wondered if the lion represented the threat the Queens currently faced. Back then the lion had been a threat to his village. The more he thought about the more the connection became clear. The Queens were his village now and the threat against them was the lion. He had conquered the beast with the help of two friends then. He had new friends now, Diggle, Lyla, Roy, Priya and Anaya. A plan started forming in his head to apprehend the new beast in his life.

S-5

After breakfast, Robert asked Moira to meet him in his study. It was time to fill her in on all of the details before he left for town that day. After studying some papers for a few minutes, his wife strode coolly into his study taking a seat on the other side of his desk.

"What is the matter Robert? I hope you haven't gotten some innocent girl pregnant," his wife said.

Robert ignored the comment on his infidelities. "Moira the family is in great peril,"

"This is about that secret project you and Oliver are always working on. Let me see if I remember the name correctly, Unidac Trading Company?" she asked.

Robert was taken back. He knew Moira knew a little bit about what was going on but she certainly knew a lot more than he was aware of.

"Yes. An open threat has been issued against Thea and this family. It was also revealed that Sandra's death was no accident," Robert said observing his wife. "You don't seem too surprised."

Moira let out a bitter laugh, "Robert I'm not someone who you can pull the wool over their eyes easily. If the threat has increased, I shall ask staff to be extra vigilant."

"We can't trust the staff. We have been reliably informed that there is a traitor among us. It may only be one person but it could be more."

"Who do you trust?" she asked her husband.

"Walter and Diggle," Robert answered without hesitating.

"The servants on your secret project," she commented. "Who exactly is it that is after us?"

"We do not know as yet," he admitted.

Moira sighed. "I will find a way to keep Thea close by and I will instruct Ms. Adams to keep Connor in lessons all day. Is there anything else?"

"If you see anything unusual I want you to tell me right away; even the simplest thing such as a maid being the in the wrong room."

"Very well," Moira said rising from the chair like a true Queen.

Robert watched his wife leave. He cursed his former friend Malcolm Merlyn for dragging them into this mess. His family should not have to live under such stressful conditions. Robert had had enough. It was time to fight this in the light. No more sneaking around in the shadows. It was time to use the full weight of the Queen name to get to the bottom of this.

S-6

Connor Queen was bored. Every day, for what felt like the longest while, he had been learning lessons. It seemed like his dad had been gone forever. He hadn't been riding in a long one took him anywhere anymore. He couldn't stand to look at another book today. As soon as his governess turned her back he decided to play hide and seek with her. He took off his shoes, so as not to make a sound and darted out of the room. He ran down the corridor, making sure to avoid all the vases in the corridors while he searched for an effective hiding spot. He ended up passing through the foyer. The front door was open and Walter was busy giving instructions to the footman. He saw the open carriage and thought it was the perfect hiding spot. His governess would never find him and he would get a break for the day.

He darted forward and slipped into the carriage. He hid under a seat. He wondered where the carriage would be going today. He was going on his own little adventure. The door to the carriage soon opened and he recognised his grandfather, his aunt and the servant that attended to his new mother getting in. Excitement filled him. He was actually looking for to his day today.

S-7

Thea was excited to be going out. She had been cooped up in the Manor since her brother left. They were going into town to check on her dress for next week. She was excited.

"Thea do you have any room in your wardrobe for a new dress?" her father asked her.

"Of course I have room," she responded.

Her father stared at her, "I'm fairly sure I buy you a new dress almost every week. At 52 weeks in a year over five years you must have at least 260 dresses."

"Nonsense father, I don't get a new dress every week, more like every two weeks. A girl has to stay up-to-date with the Ton."

"Before Felicity left, she suggested something that I'm thinking about implementing," Robert informed his daughter.

"What did she suggest?" Thea asked.

"She suggested that the staff be allowed to have their own little party in the ballroom for the New Year and that they be allowed to dress up."

"What does that have to do with my dresses?" she asked.

"Most of the staff can't afford a nice dress. Perhaps some of your old dresses can be given to them and charity."

"You want to give away my clothes?" Thea asked shocked.

"I want to give away the clothes that you don't wear which is probably more than half your wardrobe," he commented.

Thea was about to retort when they went over a bump in the road. A loud 'ow' was heard.

"What was that?" Thea asked scared holding on to Lyla next to her.

"It sounded like it came from under the seats," Lyla said. It was the first time she was speaking since entering the carriage. Servants didn't participate in conversations unless they were directly invited too.

Robert got down on his knees and slowly bent to look underneath their seats. In his younger days, he would have been able to do it much quicker.

"Connor!" he said reaching under the seat and pulling out his grandson. "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted an adventure," the boy admitted.

"Your governess must be looking all over for you!" the eldest Queen said angrily.

"That's the point of hide and seek!" Connor said smiling.

"Your governess agreed to play hide and seek with you?" he asked frowning. That was the opposite of what he was paying the woman to do.

"No," Connor admitted.

Robert frowned at his grandson, "you cannot just runaway from your governess."

Connor pouted, "but all I do is read stupid books all day. I want to go outdoors. I want to do something else. I don't see why I have to learn all of that,"

Robert thought back to what Felicity said about learning business by listening to her father conduct his. Maybe it might be good for Connor to spend the day at the company. One day it would be his.

"You can spend the day at work with me then. Maybe you'll understand why you need to learn."

Connor cheered. He was excited to be doing something new.

The carriage eventually stopped and they alighted onto the street, Connor shivering as the cold air hit him.

"Lyla," Robert said handing her some money, "take this and purchase a coat, gloves and hat from my grandson. You can also see about that other matter one time,"

"Yes," Lyla responded.

Robert watched her walk off before turning to his carriage driver, "return to the Manor and inform Walter that Connor is with us. Also inform the Governess that she is to meet with me as soon as I return. My grandson should not be able to sneak away so easily."

S-8

While Lord Queen was in town he had ordered Roy to feed Thea's horse something that would make it sick for a few weeks thus forcing Thea to remain indoors. They all agreed that even though she was riding on their property the risk to her safety was too high. Walter and Lyla would keep a close eye on her indoors. She was never to be out of their sight.

After he was finished with that task, Walter had asked him to sneak into Howard's quarters to look for the letter or anything suspicious. Roy found nothing, not even under the mattress where Priya suggested he look. Howard had obviously gotten rid of the letter as soon as he had read it. This was the first time Roy ever wished he had been able to read. Had he had the ability, he would know what they had planned for Lady Thea. Instead now they had to guess.

He quickly placed everything back the way it had been before and exited the room. He made his way to the kitchen to visit Mary, the maid he had been having a little bit of fun with. There Raisa handed him a piece of paper she said was from Thea. He opened it to find a large circle.

"Lady Thea said to tell you it's an O for the second letter in your name," Anaya said.

He looked down at the paper and nodded. He was determined to take her instructions more seriously now. He now knew his name started Ro. He found himself looking forward to the next letter.

"Hello handsome," Mary whispered to him as she walked passed him with a basked of fruit she had picked up at the market.

"Hello beautiful," Roy replied softly.

"What's that?" she asked pointing to the paper in his hands.

"Nothing," he said tucking the piece of paper carefully into his pocket and following after her towards the storage room.

"Oi none of that in my kitchen!" Raisa said hitting Roy with a spatula. "out!"

Roy vacated the kitchen immediately.

S-9

Lyla moved through the streets quickly. It was cold and she didn't want to be outside too long. She decided to meet up with her brother's contacts first and then purchase the items for Connor afterwards. Joker, Harley and Carrie were right where they usually were, hanging out on a street corner, picking the pockets of persons that walked by. They were her brother's best informants. She had never actually dealt with them directly and only knew where to find them because she had accompanied her brother once.

Lord Queen wanted information on Damian Smoak and the type of information he wanted could only be sourced by Joker. She was wary when he approached him. Her brother had warned her that Harley and Carrie fought for his attention all the time.

Harley saw her first, "Oh what a pretty bird, can I strangle her Mr. J?" she asked.

Lyla paused for a moment in doubt before casting it away and moving forward. The Queens needed this information and Joker could get it.

"I have the usual," she said showing him a package wrapped in plain brown paper. It contained a strange array of ingredients but it was what was needed to seal a deal with him.

He looked her up and down curiously.

Carrie hissed. "He's mine bitch. Step away," she said.

"I'm here for some information," Lyla said unperturbed.

"If you want information you should go to the Riddler on the next corner. I only do things that I can get a real kick out of, if you know what I mean," he said.

"Then you can't get your package," Lyla said pulling her hand away but the Joker grabbed on to her.

His grip was strong. Lyla felt a surge of fear through her system. He looked her up and down.

"Harley is right you are a pretty bird. It would be such a shame to put you in a cage," he said taking the package from her hands.

She was aware that Harley and Carrie were standing on either side of her. She had hidden the money that Lord Queen gave her within her bodice.

"What would you like me to do pretty bird?" he asked.

"I'm looking for interesting kicks that a man by the name of Damian Smoak might be into?" she said phrasing her request carefully.

"This package will only last us one week. We'll need another in a week's time. Go now pretty bird before we cage you,"

Lyla backed away slowly keeping her eyes on all three. The Joker tipped his hat at her before reaching into the pants of a passing Lord and relieving him of his coins. She thought all three needed to be put in a mental institution. How her brother dealt with them she didn't understand.

S-10

Tommy Meryln covered his face with a large hat and a fluffy scarf wrapped around his neck. He made his way to Smoak East India. Laurel and the children were tucked away safely at a small inn just outside of London. They had come down by carriage. He hoped Barrister Raymond was expecting him. He was surprised when he entered the office and was greeted with a staff that consisted mainly of east Indians and Africans. He felt like he walked into a foreign country. He shouldn't be surprised though. From what he could gather of Felicity, she was very kind hearted and generous. She would have no problem hiring foreigners to work for her once they were capable of completing the work.

"I'm here to see Barrister Raymond," he said.

"Is he expecting you?" a man with a thick accent asked.

"Yes,"

He was asked to wait a moment. He saw the man walk to the back and knock on the door. Soon a Lady emerged that Tommy vaguely recognised as Lady Caitlyn Snow. She had grown a lot in the last five years. He was then told he could enter the office. The office was like all lawyers offices, law books and plenty paperwork.

Barrister Raymond looked him squarely in the face and asked him what he could do to help him.

"My name is Tommy Merlyn and my friend Lord Oliver Queen said that I should come here," Tommy said cautiously.

"Ah yes, Tommy. We've been waiting for you. Oliver is away at the moment right now," the Barrister said looking through his desk for a particular set of paperwork.

"Away? Where did he go?" Tommy asked curiously. Oliver hadn't mentioned any upcoming trip in his letter.

"He went to Egypt to apprehend The Russian and Baron Reiter," the Barrister said half distracted by his search through his cluttered desk.

"Is that safe?" Tommy asked.

"Felicity went with him, so it's probably as safe as it could be,"

"He took Felicity!"

"Felicity doesn't really give you a choice of whether or not to take her anywhere. She chooses for herself," the Barrister said.

Tommy nodded. That did sound like her. Oliver had quite a wife on his hands.

"Oliver wanted me to fill you in on everything that's been happening and how Unidac Trading Company fit into what happened to you," the Barrister finally said when he found the paperwork he was looking for.

"Oh,"

"Please have a seat Lord Merlyn, this might take quite a while,"

Tommy nodded and sat down.

"Let's start at the beginning. Your father, Dr. Harrison Wells, and brothers Clyde and Mark Mardon were part of a cell called Unidac. We know this because of a letter left by the late Slade Wilson."

"The same letter that exonerated me?" Tommy asked.

"Yes that one. Lord Wilson left it as a sort of revenge in case he was ever betrayed the way your father was. Unidac was part of a larger organisation called HIVE. It seems like there is a core group called the HIVE hierarchy and below them are various cells. Each cell doesn't know the other. Slade was in a cell called Deathstroke that consisted of him, Lord Floyd Lawtner, Lord Richard Chase, Dr. Jerry McGee and Lady Isabelle Smoak."

"Smoak was that..."

"Yes," Ronnie said answering the question before Tommy could finish posing it.

"Why did they kill my father?"

"Your father had some sort of disagreement with the hierarchy and they eliminated him,"

"Is that why they killed Slade as well?"

"We don't know. He didn't state what he was working on for them before he died but we do know he was responsible for your family's murder, the death of Sandra Queen and Oliver's capture by The Russian."

"So Oliver was right in suspecting that The Russian is connected to this?"

"Yes, they are hoping that by interrogating him they will discover more information about HIVE."

"What about Eobard Thawne?" Tommy asked. He knew the reason that they had broken Henry out of jail was because the only person that could confess the truth, Lord Thawne, had died.

"He wasn't named in Slade's letter so Felicity assumes that he ran his own cell. Since their departure I have noted some strange deaths. I think the rest of Lord Thawne's cell is being systematically eliminated. Lord Thawne's family was famously killed in Hyde Park. The guilty party was never punished and he was very outspoken about it. He had openly critized the direction in which the country is headed. HIVE wants to change the direction that the country is headed in. William Tockman and Noah Kuttler were recently killed. Due to the extensive research Felicity conducted on Lord Thawne we know he knew them. Lord Thawne was overly fond of Tockman's watches and Kuttler was known to advise Thawne about financial matters. I believe there has to be at least one other person involved in the cell. I'm trying to track that person down now,"

Tommy nodded, "What about the hierarchy? What do we know about them?"

"Lord Wilson stated that England was run by Lord Darkh but any enquires that we have made in the underground network about Lord Darkh resulted in the death of our informants. Oliver suspects that Damian Smoak may be involved somehow and Roy Harper, a street kid that chose to steal from a ship connected to HIVE discovered guns and rats being brought into the country. He also saw a man that he described as the military type."

"So the only information we have to go on are The Russian, Lord Darkh, Damian Smoak, an acquaintance of Lord Thawne who may already be dead and a possible military official?" Tommy said summing it up.

"Yes and even those might disappear since HIVE is effective at removing any loose threads,"

"What about the men that killed Slade?"

"No one saw them. They all had masks on. They appeared and disappeared. We also followed up on the warehouse and boat but we've gotten nowhere."

Tommy sighed in disappointment.

"I was also given the task of tackling your estate. Your cousin has been well compensated for his services in your absence. When you return, you can take up residence in your Manor."

"I wouldn't need to see the police?" Tommy asked.

"Yes, for questioning but your family should be allowed into the Manor,"

"Oliver said I needed to go to Spain,"

"Yes your timing is excellent. The boat is docked at port right now. Tomorrow you will go to the boat, Spanish Vibes which will take you to Bilbao. I will send word to the Captain to expect you tomorrow. There you will disembark and go to the nearest restaurant. Sit outside and eat so everyone can see you," the Barrister opened a draw and pulled out a beautiful red scarf. The design appeared to be from the new world. "Tell Laurel to wear this. Francisco will find you and he will guide you on the rest of your journey. You should be back in time for the Queen Ball."

"Francisco?" Tommy asked.

"Francisco Ramon, a good friend of Felicity's. You have nothing to worry about. He's expecting you."

Tommy left Smoak East India with a heavy heart. He was happy to be back and have his name cleared but he realised that he was bringing his family into an extremely dangerous situation. Was it worth it? He couldn't back out now. They had told people in Scotland that they had been offered employment in Wales and the opportunity was too good to pass up. After publically handing over the house to Lord Allen, who now went by the name of Mr. McNairy, at a farewell party, they said goodbye to all of their friends. There was no turning back. Laurel was also looking forward to seeing her family again. He couldn't disappoint her. The only path now was forward.

S-11

Connor Queen had enjoyed his day immensely. He got new winter clothes, he got to see his aunt in her new dress which his grandfather disapproved of and he got to meet all sorts of people. He had never been to his grandfather's office before. There were so many people and so much paper and numbers. There were large tomes and maps of the world. He spent the morning wandering around looking at different things. At lunch time his grandfather took him and his aunt to a restaurant for lunch. He had been on his best behaviour, remembering everything his grandmother told him to do at the table. So many of his grandfather's friends stopped to say how charming he was. Connor was delighted with the attention.

After lunch they met up with his new mother's servant at the dressmakers. That had been boring but the disagreement between his aunt and his grandfather over some red something on her dress had been entertaining. He couldn't wait to tell his new mother about his adventure in town. When the carriage arrived back at the Manor, he found his grandmother waiting on the steps with a large frown on his face. He knew he was in trouble. An extra hour of studying was added to his schedule for his disobedience and he was not allowed to leave his room unless accompanied by one of his grandparents. He sulked the entire way through dinner. His new mother needed to come home soon. He knew he would be allowed out as soon as she arrived.

S-12

Oliver travelled with Dmitri, Eddie, Sara and Nyssa to Cairo. They met with Nyssa's father at a coffee shop in the back alley of a bustling market. After the introductions were made, they started finalising their plan.

"Is it safe to talk here?" Dmitri asked.

"It is safe," Nyssa verified.

"Are the arrangements in place?"

"Yes tomorrow at 9, Al-Owal will meet with the Russian at the coffee shop at the edge of the Carpet Market,"

"Won't that be crowded?" Oliver asked.

"That is precisely why he agreed to it,"

"But it would be difficult to apprehend him," Oliver pointed out.

"Did you think executing a man such as the Russian would be easy?" Ra's asked him.

"Executing?"

"For the crimes against our tribe the penalty is death," Nyssa explained to them.

"But we need him alive," Oliver protested.

"You can question him. My father will gladly torture him for information. After what he has done to our tribe, his death will not be a quick one."

They finished up the discussion quickly and Oliver sent the rest of the afternoon mentally preparing for the next day.

S-13

Oliver had never physically laid eyes on The Russian. He had an imagine in his head of a hard face broad man with maybe a scar on his face so he was surprised to find a short, rotund ball man. He guessed the saying about short men compensating for their height with a lust of power was true.

Everything was going according to plan. The Russian arrived at the small coffee shop to meet Al-Owal. They exchanged pleasantries before Al-Owal started feeding him the information. Before the agreement was made a small boy arrived with a message for The Russian. He opened it, reading the contents. He smiled at Al-Owal and sealed the deal. They shook hands and The Russian added a hug but the purpose of the hug was to plunge a knife he had concealed up his sleeve into Al-Owal's back.

All hell broke loose. The Bedouin moved forward and The Russian's men protected him. Ra's and Nyssa tried to get to Al-Owal but The Russian used the weakened man as a shield. He ducked into an alleyway, discarding the man behind. After dispensing two of The Russian's men, Oliver ran after him. The man had a head start but he wasn't physically fit at all.

When The Russian stopped and turned around to face him, Oliver had only just made out the glint of a pistol as the sun reflected off of it before he dropped to the ground. The shot hit a man behind him. Oliver sprang up and ran after him, ducking behind tables and pottery every time he fired. He was counting the shots. After the sixth shot he knew he had to get to him. He picked up a vase and through it straight at the back of the Russian's head. The man toppled forward.

Oliver caught up to him and found him lying on the floor with his hands under him. Oliver knew from experience that he needed to be careful. He had seen many men die because they turned over what they thought was an unconscious body only for the man to be holding a pistol pointed straight at them when they turned him over.

When he saw a pool of blood start to ooze out from under The Russian. He thought perhaps that man had shot himself but he hadn't heard a gunshot. He cautiously turned the man over to find that he had fallen on his knife. The blood was coming fast meaning he had either nicked or severed an internal artery. He had minutes to live.

"You finally got your revenge," The Russian rasped out.

"I know Slade paid you."

"You know nothing,"

"I know about Hive,"

The Russian attempted to laugh but a large blob of blood came out of his mouth spluttering all around him. The muscles in his body started convulsing. This was the end.

"I," he gasped, "may be...dead... but..you will...jo..in...me...s..s...so...soon," he said with his last breath.

His cold blue eyes stared up at Oliver.

"No," Oliver said grabbing the man and shaking him, "you cannot die yet."

Eddie and Dmitri caught up to him. "You killed him they asked?"

"He fell on his knife," Oliver said distraught. The answers had been so close.

"Fitting death for a coward that hid behind so many men," Dmitri spat.

"We didn't get any answers," Oliver pointed out.

"Hopefully Joe and the others fare better,"

A horrid thought settled on Oliver, "What if Baron Reiter got a message as well?" Felicity could be stepping into a trap.

"Ra's sent a Bedouin to follow the boy. We'll know soon enough who sent him. Joe is meeting up with a large group of people in Siwa. I'm sure they will be safe."

"We need to get out of here," Eddie said noticing the stares they were getting.

Oliver nodded. He should head back to Alexandria and prepare for their departure as soon as Felicity returned.

S-14

The group heading to Siwa travelled along the coast to Mersa Matruh. The coastline was beautiful and the waters at Mersa Matruh were a beautiful shade of blue. It was very tempting to stop and enjoy the sea but they had a tight schedule to keep. Felicity had travelled this way before so she wasn't that disappointed when they immediately turned south following a well worn path to Siwa, the oasis in the dessert. It was easier to cross at night, using the stars as guidance.

They arrived the same day that the Baron would be meeting them. Felicity was introduced to a group of people who had survived the Baron's attacks on their tribes. It was a large group of people made up of people from over twenty tribes. She had learned that some of them were from opposing tribes but they had put aside their differences to deal with the threat of the Baron. What he was doing was far worse than the warfare and territorial battles between the tribes.

The leader of the group was affectionately known as Chief Iwe. Like Joe, he lost his entire family except one daughter, Mari, to The Baron's forces. Felicity had barely slept more than 6 hours in the last three days. She had been concerned that they would be too tired to implement any plan when they finally arrived in Siwa but Joe had assured her all they were there to do was observe the capture. The others would be implementing the plan.

They were meeting the Baron at the edge of oasis. Felicity and Diggle were hidden in some old ruins. The sun was far hotter than she was accustomed to. Sweat trickled down her back. Baron Reiter was late but that wasn't unusual for him. He liked to let people know he ran on his own time. Felicity took the opportunity to continue their conversation.

"Diggle, have you given any thought to our conversation on the boat about staying in Africa?"

"I have my Lady,"

"Did you make a decision?"

"I was born on this continent, but not in the dessert like here, in the jungles hundreds of miles south west of here. I asked some of the men here what happened to my tribe and they told me that either we retreated far into the jungles or we were wiped out. I was a warrior in my tribe. I defended my tribe's territory and hunted for food. I was never on the path to become an elder or a chief. There is no more territory to defend. I was supposed to take a wife but I was taken before that. I know my brothers are dead. There is nothing left for me here. One day I would like to find out if other members of my tribe did survive but that day isn't today. I think I've found a new path in life. If this path leads me back to Africa again so be it, if not, I accept my faith."

Felicity reached forward and squeezed his hand, "I'm glad you're coming back with us. Oliver would have missed you greatly,"

"Yes, I image Oliver would have gotten into all sorts of trouble without me there to have his back. He is my brother now. You are my family now and I will defend you."

"You are family too Diggle and we will honour your wishes," Felicity said.

The signal was given by Mari Jiwe that a trail of camels was spotted headed towards them. They immediately sobered and focused on the task at hand. The Baron approached from the South. He probably came up from Sudan. He had about twenty men with him all armed. The Baron was in the middle. He was a tall man, very fit. He looked just as capable as all of his men. The men in front dismounted first and surveyed the area. The tribesmen that the Baron was supposed to be meeting with came out to meet him unarmed. The Baron's men roughed them up a bit but eventually they were taken to speak with the Baron as his men surrounded them in a protective circle.

"Filthy beasts," The Baron could be heard complaining as he got off the camel. "I hate the dessert. I much rather the jungles, let's conclude this business quickly,"

"Indeed,' Felicity thought.

The tribesmen struck quickly and effectively with their spears taking out The Baron's men. The tribesmen in the centre of the circle were efficient at fighting without weapons and they tackled the inner circle and The Baron himself while the others worked on the outside circle. After heavy fighting they were able to subdue the Baron and tie him up. Felicity and Diggle came out from their hiding position.

"You dare capture me?" he shouted at the men.

"It's been a long time," Diggle said coming up to him.

"What do you want your family? I sold them," The Baron said with a sick smile. "You'll never see them again,"

Diggle punch The Baron square in the face, adding to the bruising that was already there.

Felicity gasped.

"Lady Felicity, I advise you to step away," Diggle said. He didn't want her to witness the violence he wanted to unleash on the man.

"I think I should stay. We need to question him and we won't get answers if he's dead. Take him into the shade where it's cooler," Felicity ordered, "we don't need to exhaust ourselves in this heat."

The other men nodded and followed her instructions.

S-15

Hours later The Baron hadn't given up a single piece of information. He had a high tolerance for pain. He took the beatings with delight, taunting his interrogators about how he ripped apart their families. Several times they had to stop men from killing him.

"This is useless, we should just kill him," some of the tribesmen said in frustration.

"Perhaps I could try," Felicity said.

The men around her looked at her as if she were crazy. "There's more than one way to interrogate someone," she said. "We have nothing to lose. If I fail, you can kill him."

"Very well," Chief Iwe said. "You may try,"

She walked over to where the Baron was kept. He was on his knees. His hands were tied behind his back. A second rope was used to secure his ankles and the two bindings were tied together by a third rope making it difficult for the Baron to move his limbs to fight back. One eye was swollen shut and the other one would soon be. He had cuts and bruises all over him. There was a knife sticking out of this thigh from one of his interrogations.

"Hello," she said pleasantly.

The Baron examined her closely with his half closed eye, "you would fetch a high price from The Russian."

"I guess I should be flattered but tell me how much do you think your daughters or wives would sell for?" she asked him.

When the Baron had no reaction she wasn't surprised. She didn't expect a man such as himself to care much about women.

"How about your sons then? I imagine they will fetch a high price. I know there is a tribe in Tanzania that would love to capture one of your sons. What do you think they would do to him?" Felicity knew that all men wanted heirs to take over their trade.

"You know nothing," he spat at her.

"Not true. I know a lot. All I need to do is utter the locations and your family is dead. After the way you taunted the men here about their families, I'm sure they won't hesitate to give your family the same treatment you gave theirs?" she said.

The Baron didn't believe her. She called Chief Iwe over to them.

"The Baron has a son in Ghana that handles the loading of the slaves on the boats." Felicity said. "He can be found living just south of the city. Ask around for Jonathan," the Chief noted the information and then went off to tell some of the men the information. The gleam in the men's eyes as they were told of his eldest son, spoke for itself.

She looked at the Baron, "one down, six more to go,"

"hmmm, still not talking I see, let's move on to your next oldest son then,"

"Chief Iwe," she called for the man again, "he has another son in Lagos. He works in a bank but he really handles the flow of money for his father. He goes by the name Jacob,"

She looked back at the Baron. He didn't flinch.

"the other four aren't even men yet, I'm sure they will enjoy breaking them," she said. She had no problem giving the names of the older ones to the tribesmen. They needed to be stopped just like their father but his younger sons were innocent and The Baron knew his younger sons weren't as protected as the older ones who would probably disappear once word of his capture spread.

"Sebastian Blood," he said.

"What was that?" Felicity asked again.

"The man you want to find is Sebastian Blood. He is the man that relays information to Africa. He is based in France. His pigeons arrive everyday with orders to an outpost on the North Coast of Africa."

She looked at him. "I believe your third son enjoys fishing off the Ivory Coast,"

"That is all I know," he said.

"We'll hold you until I can verify your information and I promise you that if you lied to me your sons can expect far worse to happen to them, including the one that is still in his mother's belly,"

Felicity exited the room. The tribesmen were going to relocate to another location that night. They would keep The Baron alive until they verified the information.

"How did you get that information on his sons?" Diggle asked her.

"Iris, she's a brilliant little investigator. We need to get back to Alexandria and relay the information we learnt," Felicity said.

Diggle sighed, "I suppose we'll be stopping in France on our return trip,"

Felicity laughed, "my French is horrible. You can't get any good information in France without speaking proper French with a proper French accent."

"It's a good thing Oliver is fluent in French," Diggle said as gathered there stuff to leave.

Chapter Text

Oliver's return to Alexandria had been relatively easy. While he waited for Felicity's return, he immersed himself in the business and his plans for the Amazo. The Hot Sails arrived on the east coast safely. The cargo was being transported to its sister ship on the north coast. The Captains of both ships George and Charles Allen had come into the office to report on the journey and collect any sensitive documents that needed to be delivered on their routes. They were Barry's younger brothers.

Oliver's initial meeting with them didn't go too well. They both openly glared at the man that Felicity had been forced to marry. It reinforced the fact that Felicity was indeed very close to the Allens and they thought of her as another sibling. They had interrogated him just as thoroughly as their father had. They only stopped when Nora stepped in to assure them that Felicity was extremely happy. The boys listened to their mother. The Allen matriarch was not to be crossed and Oliver discovered that by winning her favour, he had also won the favour of the rest of the family. George and Charles were just as loyal to the family as Barry was so Oliver arranged for the Hot Sails to stay in England longer than usual so that Charles could visit his father. George would get a chance in a few months.

Oliver was also working with Captain Carter on an elaborate ruse to deal with the Amazo. Ra's men were able to track the messenger to the main transport hub in Cairo. The boy had said a man had given him the message to deliver. The only thing he could remember about the man was that he was a tall grey haired old Englishman. The boy didn't know the contents of the message or if The Baron received one as well. Ra's had sent scouts through the city looking for persons that matched the boy's description but their searches had turned up nothing. Oliver strongly suspected they were being watched so they had all the guns and ammunitions that were being loaded on to the Al-Saher disguised as Egyptian cargo bound for England. He was going to make a show of him and Felicity boarding the vessel to head back to England. Once they were clear, they were going to land in a bay and then travel to the small bay on the north coast where the Hot Sails was anchored. Providing the Al-Saher was successful, they would meet up with the boat on the south coast of London and transfer over on to that boat before they docked. They would be cutting it very close to Christmas.

By the time Felicity was three days overdue, Oliver had turned into a real brooding terror. He was worried that things had turned out terribly with The Baron. He was ready to mount the nearest horse and make the suicidal move of riding blindly into the dessert to find her. Dmitri and Eddie preferred to think that things had gone well and it was taking a long time to break the man. Unlike The Russian, The Baron was a trained killer and could handle pain. That knowledge still didn't help the sinking feeling Oliver had in his gut that grew worse as each day passed.

S-2

At the beginning of the fourth day, it was Sara's turn to keep Oliver from going crazy. She had been to Siwa so she described what the journey was like. She told him that after rushing to get there they might have decided to take it easy on the return trip. She also said that Mersa Matruh was a beautiful place and Felicity might have decided to rest a little while there. Oliver discounted all of her hypotheses. He knew his wife would not want him to worry and she would come straight back even if it meant she had to travel all night and day to get back to him, she would. If she hadn't returned as yet something was preventing her from doing so.

He didn't want to think about it anymore. He decided to focus on Sara.

"Sara," Oliver said, "are you going to come back with us?"

"No," she responded

"No?" he questioned.

"England is no longer my home. I am happy here. I think I finally found my heart," she told him sincerely. He knew she firmly believed what she was telling him.

"Laurel will be upset," Oliver pointed out.

"Tell her I'll come and visit in the summer when it's warm,"

"I'll hold you to that," Oliver said and Sara laughed.

"I would expect nothings less from you Lord Queen,"

He glared at her. She knew he always hated it when she called him that. It made him sound like his father. Maybe he was becoming him in a way. It was certainly much better to be him than it was to be someone like The Russian or The Baron.

"Oliver, I know I should probably tell my sister about Nyssa myself but she's not going to let the issue of my return rest. Can you please tell her about my life here? Tell her I'm happy, much happier than I would be if I were in London. I do miss her but now that she has returned to England, we can correspond regularly. Dmitri and Eddie know how to get in touch with us."

"I'll tell her," Oliver said.

Sara smiled gratefully.

S-3

Nora was preparing lunch for the boys when shuffling noises drew her attention. Picking up a knife she headed to the front of the house.

"Felicity you're back!" she exclaimed. Nora's maternal eyes looked over her niece and she could see that the younger woman was exhausted. She was with Oliver's personal valet, Mr. Diggle who appeared equally as tired.

"Yes, at last. I really need a bath and some fresh bandages," she said to her.

"Bandages are either of you injured?" Nora asked concerned.

"We both are. Joe went home. I'm sure Iris will attend to him. I'll explain what happened when Oliver is here. Where is he?"

"He's helping with the Hot Sails transition and preparing the Al-Saher for the voyage back. He's been driving everyone nuts. I think Dmitri and Eddie have hidden all the horses away. They're afraid he'll do something stupid," Nora explained to her.

Diggle scoffed.

"I can well imagine," Felicity said. "We travelled as fast as we could to get here. Can you draw me a bath? I would normally do it but I really don't feel like I have the energy to."

"Of course dear,"

Nora turned to Diggle, "Can you manage?"

"I'm fine Mrs. Allen. Please attend to Felicity. I will make my way to the servant's quarters," Diggle said slowly walking off.

Nora offered some support to Felicity to guide her to the bedroom. When the tub was full with warm water, Nora helped her niece out of her clothes. She frowned when she saw her injury.

"That husband of yours is going to go berserk when he sees this," Nora said.

Felicity bit her bottom lip, "I know."

"Don't worry. He loves you very much. He kept us company during the lighting of the candles for Hanukkah. He has a very open mind. I like that. Your mother would be so pleased to know that you married a good man."

Not having the energy to do much else, Felicity smiled gratefully as she slowly settled into the tub. It felt great to finally be rid of the sand.

Nora went back to the kitchen to finish lunch. She took it into town for the boys making sure to leave some for Felicity, Diggle and Oliver, for as soon as he found out about his wife's return he would be heading straight for her. Nora soon returned with Oliver in tow.

"Felicity!" he yelled when he entered the house.

"I think she's still in the tub" Diggle called out from the kitchen.

Oliver raced to the bedroom and found his wife peacefully sleeping in the tube. He was relived at first until he saw the angry red wound on her right shoulder. She had been injured.

"Oliver, I can hear you freaking out from here," Felicity said popping one eye open to look at him.

"You're injured," he said angrily.

"Great observation Mr. Queen, I met with the business end of a spear," Felicity deadpanned.

"You were hit with a spear!" He exclaimed, the visual in his head triggering the urge to punch something very hard.

"Yes we were leaving when The Baron's lieutenants came for him. I think someone might have tipped them off. It was a bloody mess. The Baron was killed in the mêlée. Diggle told me to stay put but I didn't. This man was aiming a spear right at Diggle but he didn't see it. I had to do something"

Oliver sighed, "you pushed him out of the way and got hit instead," he finished for her.

"Yes," she admitted sheepishly. "Are you angry?"

"Anger doesn't even begin to describe it but I'm more relieved that you're alive," he said kneeling next to the tub and reaching for her hand. He needed to touch her.

"I'll have a scar though," she said to him.

"And I'll be the only person to ever see it,"

She smiled. Oliver would indeed by the only person seeing her scar.

"Can you help me out?" she asked.

Not caring about getting wet, Oliver picked her up bridal style straight out of the tub and cradled her to his chest. She felt lighter and more fragile than before. He placed her gently on the bed. He found the nearest towel and wrapped her up in it. Her stomach grumbled loudly.

"You're hungry," he stated.

"Yes," she admitted. "We haven't had much to eat. You only really feel for water,"

Oliver carefully bandaged her wounds and helped her into a dress. They headed to the kitchen for lunch. As soon as Diggle saw Oliver he stood hesitantly. From his posture he knew he was feeling guilty.

"I'm sorry Oliver,"

"There's nothing to be sorry about. You got her back to me. There was absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent this. My wife is very stubborn about staying in safe places," Oliver said truly meaning his words.

Felicity groaned as she sat in a chair.

"I think I've had enough of horses and camels to last me a while. I'm sore and I still don't think I got rid of all the sand. It just gets everywhere Oliver," she complained to him.

Nora placed to two plates in front of them. Felicity attacked the food, "it is so good to have cooked food,"

"The next time you volunteer for something like this I'm going to remind you about all of the down sides," Oliver told her.

Diggle snorted, "that won't stop her,"

"How did things go with The Russian?" she asked him.

"He's dead. Fell on his knife after I hit him with pottery,"

Diggle arched an eyebrow, "pottery?"

Oliver gave him a face that clearly said that Diggle did not want to know the details. "He was not a trained killer, quite the opposite, a greedy businessman."

"I suppose The Baron had the trained killer part down," Diggle quipped.

"So he didn't tell you anything," Felicity asked Oliver.

"No,"

"It's a pity. I was hoping he would be able to corroborate what we learnt from The Baron," Felicity said.

"You were able to interrogate him," Oliver asked looking at Diggle.

"Felicity successfully interrogated him," Diggle explained.

Oliver's head snapped to his wife, a look of complete astonishment on his face.

Felicity shrugged, "when his heirs were threatened his tongue became quite loose. He gave us the name Sebastian Blood." She explained what they had learned about Sebastian Blood and it only served to confirm what Oliver had suspected about the pigeons and the Amazo. He then told her what he had planned with the Al-Saher.

S-4

The night before the Al-Saher was to depart, Nora held the party to celebrate Felicity's wedding. Everyone was there. Dmitri had even brought his girlfriend Taiana and her brother Vladamir. Nora had been trying to convince Dmitri to propose for the longest time. Fatta, a garlic and white vinegar flavoured meat soup served with rice that is usually prepared on special occasions such as weddings, had been prepared for the night. Felicity realised that she had never actually celebrated her marriage. At the time she had been distraught over the condition her father was in. Now, months later, she had fallen in love with Oliver, and couldn't image not being married to him.

She celebrated whole heartedly. Soaking up the atmosphere and basking in all of the positive thoughts from her family. She was still very sore and her arm had a limited range of motion but she didn't let that keep her back from dancing and enjoying the night. Oliver too, seemed to let go a bit. Felicity was thrilled to see this side of her husband. They danced a lot, enjoying a local band that Nora had hired for the event. The party also gave her a chance to get to know Sara and Nyssa.

As Oliver and Felicity were retiring for the night, Sara came over with a gift. It was a beautifully wrapped package that she gave to Felicity.

"This is for both of you," she said.

"Sara there was no need," Oliver said.

"You say that now, but after you enjoy your gift, I'm sure you'll be taking that back," Sara said with a mischievous wink.

"Thank you," Felicity said.

They both turned to leave but Sara held Oliver back a moment.

"Take care of her Ollie. You'll never find a woman like her again," Sara said.

Oliver nodded. He knew what a gem he had in Felicity. "I'll protect her."

Once they were safely inside their bedroom, Felicity opened the package to reveal several pieces of sheer cloth trimmed with lace. She looked curiously at it before realising that they were undergarments. If the low growl Oliver let out when he saw it was any indication, these were the fancy undergarments she heard women used to seduce men. Felicity gave him an apologetic look. She was still tired from the return trip, her shoulder was healing and they had to get on a boat early the next morning. She promised him she would try one on at a later date.

S-5

They boarded the Al-Saher with many eyes watching. The sea was calm, a very deceptive indication about the type of journey the boat would have. Felicity had been angry that Oliver planned to use her brand new ship to fight a battle especially since this ship had to remain the exact copy of it sister ship The Emerald Archer. Oliver assured her that he would pay for any damages to the boat. He was sure Lord Palmer could fix it in time for it to be back in Egypt by the time Captain Garrick anchored The Emerald Archer.

With the addition of France to the itinerary, the plans for their return voyage were modified. They would not be going back with the Hot Sails, instead they would be taking a boat to the Port of Napoli in Italy, staying in the Queen villa there until they could get a boat heading to Marseille in France.

They were definitely going to miss the Queen Christmas ball. Oliver was thrilled but his wife made him write a message to his father to explain their delay. Felicity also wrote one to Connor. Felicity understood how the young boy must be feeling. When her father had first married Isabelle, her step mother had successfully convinced her father that she was too young to travel on a boat. She was thus left with her grandfather, when her father made his first trip to Spain to meet his in-laws. They were gone for two months but it felt like an eternity to her.

To make up for the extra time they were gone, Felicity put a little extra effort into shopping to send back Christmas gifts for everyone. The packages they were shipping back on the Hot Sails even included the spear that had injured her. Oliver's reaction when he had seen the weapon had been priceless.

"You didn't expect me to give it back did you?" Felicity had asked him as she tried to pack the spear into a crate.

"No," he had replied horrified watching her trying to angle the weapon diagonally from one side to the other to get it to fit.

"Good, I'm keeping it," she had declared leaving no room for discussion.

"How did you get so strong?" he had asked her, his amazement clear on his face.

"I took the lead from all the men in my life,"

Oliver had smiled proudly at his wife.

S-6

Tommy and Laurel had been in Spain a few days. Their host was a rather eccentric person. Francisco Ramon or Cisco as he preferred to be called, loved to tinker with things to improve them. His pet peeve was that things were not named correctly. He thought his own name was too long and much preferred his shortened nickname. Cisco was not nobility. He was from the working class which was why Tommy had inquired how Cisco met Felicity. He was reminded Isabelle was originally from Spain. She liked to visit at Christmas time and Edward would bring Felicity. Isabelle hated the sea though so they sailed to Bilbao and then travelled across Spain to Valencia where Isabel was from. Cisco met Felicity when he was 8 years old. She was naturally as curious as he was and they got into a lot of trouble. She visited every time they were in Spain. When Cisco was old enough they started communicating through letters in code. Cisco was the one who had discovered The Russian was going to be in Egypt. Tommy wondered if Cisco didn't realise how dangerous what they were doing was. Cisco appeared kind of naive. Tommy was still seriously concerned about his family's safety. They were heading into an extremely dangerous situation.

To keep up with the cover story, they had walked about Bilbao, telling everyone they came on a boat from the Dominican Republic. They even arranged the passage back to England themselves. Communicating had been a challenge but it gave him quite a few stories about Spain to tell the police.
They would be sailing to England in three days.

Laurel was already itching to go.

"What is wrong Tommy? The closer we get to going home the more withdrawn you're getting. Are you thinking about your family?" Laurel confronted him.

"I am thinking about my family but not my old one, my new one with you. Do you have any idea of the danger we are heading into?" he asked her.

"We are in danger no matter where we live. Malcolm got us into this mess. It is unfair for us to hide while Oliver sorts it out. I want to go home to see my parents. I want to go home to see my sister but most of all I want to go home and rain hell down on the people that sought to destroy our families. This is bigger than us Tommy. We want our children to grow up in a good world. We need to fight to make sure they get that. Staying away is just going to ensure that our children will always be on the run."

"You're right as usual," Tommy said giving her a soft kiss which Laurel returned.

Before things could progress any further, the soft cries of their daughter disturbed them.

"Rebecca's hungry. I promise you we will continue this when I finish,"

"I hope so Lady Merlyn," Tommy said with a lascivious look on his face.

Laurel playfully swatted at his arm, "I think I'm really going to like it when the rest of the Ton calls me Lady Merlyn,"

S-7

Thea was waiting patiently in the parlour for her mother to introduce her to Lord Davis. He would have arrived ten minutes prior. Walter would have taken his coat, her father would have introduced him to her mother and they would escort him to the parlour where Thea would be formally introduced to him. She had been very excited for the meeting. Her first suitor! Her father had nixed the idea of the dress with the red lace but she managed to convince him that she could wear it for Christmas because the red would signify the season. He made her add some green trimming to it so it wasn't only red on the dress. For this meeting she had to settle for a pastel pink dress with white lace on the edges. She had a beautiful white fan with painted with flowers as her main accessory.

Lyla was keeping her company while she waited. In the last few days, Thea couldn't go anywhere without Walter and Lyla around. She didn't know what had happened but something clearly did for her to be under such close scrutiny. To make matters worse, her horse was sick. Roy was taking care of her. At least she got to visit Mia and give Roy his letter of the day. They were almost to the end of the alphabet. She was going to start Roy on one of the first books that Connor had used when learning to read but first she was going to ask him to write out the entire alphabet for her to make sure he had learned his letters.

The door to the parlour opened and her mother entered first followed by Lord Davis and her father. She was officially introduced to him. He was good looking but not the prince charming handsome that she had built up in her mind. She surveyed his features carefully, sometimes having to hide behind her fan when she got caught staring. The entire conversation was dominated by her father. She barely got to say anything. She wondered how she was supposed to accept a husband when her father wouldn't let her talk with him or get to know him by herself! Before she knew it, it was time for Lord Davis to leave. She was sorely disappointed with the way the meeting went. To cheer herself up she went out to Mia taking along the letter X for Roy. By the time she left them, she was all smiles again.

S-8

Oliver, Felicity and Diggle had successfully circled back to the Alexandria after they disembarked the Al-Saher in a small bay. Felicity had left the boat with a heavy heart. She had never sent her sailors out on such a dangerous mission before. She could essentially be sending them to their death but they were more than confident that they would come out victorious because they had the element of surprise. She cried as she saw the boat set off on its western course towards the Atlantic Ocean. Oliver comforted her for a little while before reminding her that they had their own mission to complete.

Her husband had already conducted research on which boat to take to Italy and then on to France. As she stood on the docks looking at the weathered boat her husband wanted her to board, she arched an eyebrow at him.

"You want me to get on that boat Oliver?" she asked in utter disbelief.

"Yes," he said evenly to her.

"No," she replied crossing her hands over her chest.

"Felicity," he pleaded.

"Oliver, it looks like it is barely sea worthy. I can probably flick my finger on the hull and it might capsize!"

"I can assure you it is very sturdy. Frank designs his ships to look dilapidated but he would never put his shipments in a subpar ship," he explained carefully to her.

"Frank?" She questioned.

"Frank Bertinelli,"

"You want to put me on a ship run by Frank Bertinelli!" Felicity hissed. She knew very well who he was, the infamous businessman from Italy that controlled all illicit items in and out of Italy. He was also known for making people who disagreed with him disappear.

"No one would expect us to get on a ship such as this," Oliver pointed out.

"Oliver, I have a bad feeling about this," Felicity said.

"Relax, we'll get there in one piece," Oliver said rubbing circles on her back to soothe her.

"I certainly hope so,"

S-9

When they set sail for Italy, Felicity stuck to him or Diggle like glue. Every time the boat listed to one side more than normal Felicity panicked because she didn't trust the boat. She created an evacuation plan for them in case something happened on the boat. She made three floatation devices that they were to use to stay afloat in case they ended up in the water. Oliver and Diggle took turns on who would sleep. One of them always had to stay awake to keep watch. They didn't trust the crew. He particularly didn't like the way they watched his wife. The wind was blowing in the wrong direction making it a long voyage. They would have to tact most of the journey instead of travelling in a straight line.

One day Felicity swore she saw the largest shark ever. She was calling it King Shark. Oliver thought she was giving him a fisherman's tale but Diggle confirmed he had seen it too. He even admitted that he thought in a battle between the boat and the shark, the shark would win. Oliver kept a keen eye out for this supposed shark but he never saw anything. Perhaps in his wife's paranoia about the vessel on which they were travelling she confused a whale with a shark. When he mentioned that to her, she hit him on his forearm and launched into a detailed explanation of the differences between a shark and a whale.

S-10

Tommy and Laurel had finally returned to England. They headed straight to the Chief Inspector's Office. While the charges against Tommy for the murder of his family had been dropped there was still the issue of the kidnapping of Laurel Lance. Laurel insisted that she left of her own free will. She stated that she was under no form of duress when she married Tommy. Despite what she claimed they were leaving the decision about whether to arrest Tommy for kidnapping up to her father. Laurel knew she needed to talk to her father before he told them to go ahead with the charges.

While Tommy was being held under guard in the Chief Inspector's Office, she was free to move around with her children. She set herself up right outside the office to intercept her father. A tall man who introduced himself as Barrister Raymond assured her that everything would be fine and that as soon as everything was settled they could move straight into Merlyn Estate. It was easy to believe him. He seemed very confident. She could see why Felicity trusted him with her affairs.

She heard the outer doors open with a bang and she knew it was her father. He was happy to see her and hugged her tight. A cross look passed his face when he saw James and Rebecca. He wasn't too pleased that she had come back with children. Soon he was handing her off to her mother so he could go inside and deal with Tommy. She held firmly on to her father.

"No, he is innocent," Laurel said to her father.

"Baby you may think so but I'm sure he seduced you into this," her father said.

"He did not. I knew what I was doing when I left. I knew what I was doing when I got pregnant both times. These are your grandchildren father, James and Rebecca Merlyn," Laurel said forcing her father to look at them. "Don't make them fatherless. They adore Tommy and I love him."

"You were engaged to marry Lord Oliver Queen. You should be married to him," her father said sternly to her.

"I never loved him. I liked the idea of being Lady Queen. When Tommy came to me the night of the murders, I knew I couldn't let him go alone. I knew I had to join him because I realised then that he meant more to me than I thought. I couldn't see myself being Lady Queen without Tommy there to support me. It was then that I realised that I was meant to be Lady Merlyn instead."

"That still does not change the fact that he took you in the dead of the night without my permission!" her father said tugging away from her to go inside the Chief Inspector's office.

"Father please don't do this. Don't take my husband away from me. Please don't put him in jail," Laurel pleaded, tears springing to her eyes.

Her father paused for a moment before heading inside.

She felt a hand land on her shoulder that guided her into a hug. Her mother was holding her and whispering in her ear that everything would be ok. That her father would do the right thing and she had nothing to worry about. Laurel wasn't so sure about that. She had heard the stories of the cruel man he had turned into. She had heard about his fights in the taverns of London. James was seated on a chair playing with a toy while his sister was in a bassinette on the table. They needed their father.

"Can I meet my grandchildren?" her mother asked.

"Of course," Laurel said.

They waited outside for a further hour before Tommy emerged with a huge smile on his.

"I'm free!" he said. "Let's go home."

She ran into Tommy's arms. She was vaguely aware of her father angrily brushing past them and leaving with her mother.

"Let's get going. We have a lot of work to do to get Merlyn Estate back to what it was," Barrister Raymond said.

The couple nodded with wide smiles. Finally, something was going their way.

S-11

After a very stressful voyage, Felicity was finally able to relax once her feet were on dry land again.

"That wasn't so hard was it," Oliver whispered into her ear.

She glared at her husband. She had barely gotten any sleep for fear that the boat would capsize and she would get stuck in the hold below.

"Lord Queen is that you?" a voice with a thick Italian accent said.

Oliver looked like he had been caught stealing from the Bank of London. He schooled his features before turning to face the person. Felicity saw an old Italian man, who looked genuinely surprised to see Oliver.

"Mr. Bertinelli, how nice to see you," he said holding out his hand to greet the man. Even though Oliver was fluent in Italian, he kept the conversation in English so that Felicity and Diggle could understand what was going on.

Felicity's eyes widened. She knew this wasn't going to be as simple as Oliver claimed. With the reputation Frank Bertinelli had, he was probably involved in the group that they were trying to apprehend and now that group knew they were in Italy and not on board the Al-Saher heading back to England.

"Are you here for business?" the Italian man asked her husband.

"No just passing through. We're touring Italy for our honeymoon," Oliver said. Felicity was relieved that her husband at least had the foresight not to tell the man their plans.

"Are you staying at the villa?"

"Yes we are there,"

"In that case you must have dinner with us tonight. Helena would love to see you,"

"It would be our pleasure," Oliver said with that fake smile plastered on his face.

After agreeing on the details, Mr. Bertinelli left them alone. Felicity looked at her husband expectantly, "Helena?"

S-12

They hadn't travelled with any clothing appropriate for dinner, so Oliver had to go into the bank and withdraw some Liras from an account his father had set up to cover expenses when they were in Italy. After a quick shopping trip into town they retired to the villa. Felicity crashed sleeping the rest of the day away. Oliver sent Diggle back to the docks to discreetly buy three tickets on a boat to Marseille. Luck was in their favour for there was a boat leaving the next day.

Frank Bertinelli's mansion was enormous and overly done. The ceilings were adorned with gold plated mouldings. There were expensive china vases, silk rugs and chairs fit only for kings. The table was beautifully laid; not a setting was out of place. Felicity realised they were having a full eight course meal. Thankfully she had room for it. The meals on the boat were sparse, in direct contradiction to the way the owner of the boat lived. Felicity made sure her sailors were well nourished and healthy. Sick sailors made bad decision which would cost her money. It was cheaper to feed them than replace a boat.

Frank introduced them to his family. A few of his son's eyed her as if she one of the courses to be served. That was just one of the reasons that had her glued to her husband's side. The other was the very bold attempts by Helena to seduce her husband. Helena herself was a married woman so she didn't understand why she would be throwing herself at Oliver. Felicity was well aware that Oliver was quite possibly the sexiest man on the planet but that did not give Helena the right to flirt with him. Helena's husband didn't even seem to mind her behaviour. Oliver was trying to be polite and not offend Helena or her father. The last thing they needed was more trouble. Felicity sipped slowly at the wine they served. She needed to keep her wits about her if she was to keep her husband in her bed.

Thankfully the dinner conversation revolved mostly around business and shipping lines. Felicity was able to listen without having to comment. The conversation was mostly in Italian but since she was fluent in Spanish she could guess the gist of the conversations. She picked up on an increase of business in England. She wanted to find out more but knew she couldn't ask any questions. She was quite fine with playing the dumb wife for the evening. She was working on a new theory in her head. When she returned to England she needed to ask Roy if the boat he had been on was dilapidated on the outside but pristine on the inside. Maybe the reason they had never been able to find the owner of that boat was because it was one of Frank Bertinelli's boats.

After four hours, they were finally able to return home.

"I think I like it when you're jealous," Oliver said to her as she worked on removing her dress in their bedroom.

"I was not jealous. I was merely defending what is mine!" Felicity replied hotly.

"I like it even more when you're possessive,"

"I think you'll like this even more?" Felicity said dropping her dress to reveal one of the sheer undergarments that Sara and Nyssa had given her.

She was right, Oliver enjoyed it very much.

S-13

Ronnie was in his office contemplating an offer he had recently received. Files were piled high in all parts of his office. He was doing very well. He often wondered if he would have been this successful without Felicity's assistance. Even now with the addition of the Queens to the business, she needed his office but she had not asked him to move. He knew he needed to give her back her space as well as look for a larger space of his own.

The paper currently in front of him was a list of persons associated with Lord Thawne. The only person not accounted for was Hunter Zoloman. The man had disappeared in the middle of the night. No one knew where he had gone and he hadn't turned up dead. Zoloman was a constable in the police department and was renowned for catching serial offenders.

Ronnie was trying to figure out the purpose of Lord Thawne's cell. Noah Kuttler was excellent with math. He could calculate anything. William Tockman was very skilled with time pieces and Lord Thawne probably provided the financial backing. If they could get a copy of his accounts they might be able to pinpoint what was going on. Tommy Merlyn had first stumbled onto this conspiracy because of an anomaly in his accounts. Perhaps they should also try to source Lord Slade's accounts as well. They needed to figure out a way to get their hands on that data.

"Good day Barrister Raymond," a female voice said disturbing his thoughts.

"Good day Ms. Michaels," he said with a smile on his face when he discovered that she was the one disturbing him.

"I have an invitation for you to attend the upcoming Queen Christmas Ball," she said handing him a flawless white envelope that had his name written in calligraphy.

"Thank you. Have your contacts supplied you with any useful information?"

A shudder went through Lyla at the mention of Joker. "No but I think he's rather enjoying his search. He's been threatened with death three times. Apparently, he gets a real kick out of that."

"What kind of person likes being threatened?" Ronnie asked concerned.

"You don't want to know," Lyla told him.

"Indeed,"

"Something has been bothering you lately?" Lyla observed.

"Your brother was a barrister?" Ronnie asked her curiously.

"Yes," she replied honestly.

"You're familiar with Barrister Stein then?" he asked hopefully.

"The brilliant legal luminary?" she asked.

"Yes," Ronnie clarified for her.

"Didn't he have a huge disagreement with the partners in his chambers?" she asked.

"Yes he has broken out on his own. He has his own building and staff and he's invited me to join him," Ronnie revealed.

"That is indeed an honour. What is holding you back?" Lyla asked directly.

"Some of the cases that I work on are dangerous. I could be bringing that danger to him."

"Maybe he already has some dangerous cases?"

"Maybe but I don't want to involve anyone else in this mess."

"Perhaps you could inform him?" Lyla suggested.

"You know I am not allowed to discuss my cases," Ronnie said with a frown.

"You don't need to discuss the case. You just need to tell him that not all of the matters that you handle are contractual. You have a few cases that have a criminal element to it and you double as an investigator for those cases. When does he expect a response?"

"In the new year,"

"You have plenty of time. What does Ms. Snow think?" Lyla asked curiously. The staff of Smoak East India were keeping a tally on the amount of times they found an excuse to see each other.

"I haven't told her yet,"

"She's invited to the ball. Perhaps you could talk with her there, good day Barrister Raymond,"

"Good day Ms. Michaels,"

S-14

Oliver was over a week late and Robert Queen was very worried. Damian Smoak's threat had been haunting his dreams. The door to his office opened and his assistant looked inside. "There's a Charles Allen from Smoak East India here to see you sir?"

"Send him in Alfred."

Robert prepared himself for the worst possible news.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Queen, your son sent me with this message for you and Felicity wrote one for Connor. There's also a couple crates that will be delivered to the Manor later,"

"My son is alive?" Robert said relieved.

"Yes, he had a few close calls but he is fine. There is a business matter I should warn you about. Oliver sent the Al-Saher to tackle the Amazo problem. The boat succeeded and he promised Felicity he would pay for the damages. Expect Lord Palmer to be calling upon you soon. The office said he wasn't happy when he saw the boat."

Robert nodded. His spirits soared with the good news even though his son had committed them to an expense they hadn't planned for.

"The Queen Christmas Ball is tomorrow. Please feel free to come by," Robert said. The Allens were close to Felicity and that made them family.

"I should spend it with my crew," Charles said.

Robert was in such a good mood he did something he would never normally do, "Bring your crew as well. I'll find a way to make it work,"

"Very well, we will come,"

When Charles left the office Robert opened the letter and quickly read it. His son was supposed to be in France. A little scribble added at the end of the letter asked to keep Connor away from the spear. What spear?

S-15

Moira Queen was directing where to hang the garlands when her husband returned to the Mansion. "Any word" she asked right away.

Thea who was off to the side guiding a maid with another garland paused to listen to the answer.

"Yes, they were delayed but promise that they will be back in two weeks,"

"Two weeks!" Thea exclaimed. She had to go through two more weeks of house arrest.

"I believe some packages will be arriving later today with our Christmas presents," he declared.

The crates did in fact arrive a few hours later. They were large and filled with items. Each item had a label specifying who it was for. There was not a staff member at the Mansion that had been forgotten. Robert would swear that his footman almost looked guilty when he received his gift.

Moira and Thea were very pleased with the fine clothing they received as well as a few exotic perfumes. Connor had gotten a few toys that were typical for Egyptian children and Robert had received a translated version of the works of some famous Egyptian philosophers. He would add the book to his collection in his study. The last crate had the spear and quite a few boxes of something called baklava. The spear immediately drew Connor's attention. Robert summoned Roy and asked him to hide it in the stables. He had no idea why his son would ship a spear back. Knowing that his son was alive and well meant he could actually enjoy the Christmas Ball the next day.

S-16

They landed in Marseille in the south of France on Christmas Day. They made their way to Oliver's friend, who Felicity soon discovered was the former Lady McKenna from Scotland, who had married a French lord and moved to the south of France. She was also a former lover of Oliver's.

"Why does it feel like you've slept with half of the noble women in the world," Felicity asked exasperated.

He gave her a stern look, "It is not half,"

"What, three quarters then?" she asked teasingly.

He mocked glared at her.

Felicity was relieved to find that she very much liked McKenna. Whereas Helena was forward and wanting to bed her husband, McKenna was kind and friendly with zero interest in Oliver. McKenna was happy in her marriage. She and her husband had had three children in three years. Felicity let Oliver know she most certainly won't be doing that.

McKenna had never heard of a Sebastian Blood in France but she knew how Oliver could find out. There were several information traders in Marseille that could provide them with the real identity of Sebastian Blood. She could set up a few meetings for Oliver but it was going to have to wait until after all of the Christmas celebrations were over. When the French partied and they partied, business would have to wait for another day. As dismayed as they were that they couldn't find the man that they sought right away, it would be good to relax and reenergise.

S-17

As a child, Caitlyn was always fascinated with her father's profession. She was the only girl among eight boys. Her father's friends always said he had eight little doctors. Caitlyn couldn't understand why it wasn't nine. Her father was not as liberal as Felicity's father so she had fought to learn all she had. She read all of her brother's medical texts as they went through school and proved to them she was just as capable. She knew she could never openly practise medicine. She listened in the shadows and reviewed case notes with her brothers, often finding the correct course of treatment before them.

When suitors came around she ignored them. Initially she thought perhaps if she married a doctor she would be happy but none of those men appealed to her. She was surprised to find herself attracted to Ronnie. Her father approved since they had had trouble in the past with a few patients and could have use of a Barrister in the future.

The Christmas Ball had been exhausting so far. The Ton looked down on her because she wasn't noble born but they had to be nice to her because her father literally held their lives in his hands. Her night started to look better when she saw Ronnie approaching her. He looked quite charming. It was rare for someone like him to be invited for such a prestigious ball but she knew his work for Smoak East India was highly valued. She had also noticed that Charles Allen and the Crew of his ship were there in a corner of the room.

"How do you do, Ms. Snow," he said with a slight bow of his head.

"How do you do, Barrister Raymond," she replied with a slight curtsey. Out of the corner of her eye she could see members of Ton were watching their exchange.

"Would you like to dance?" he asked her.

"I would love to," she said taking his offered hand.

He took them away from the eyes of the Ton into the middle of the dance floor. There was already gossip that he was courting her.

"Ronnie," she said, "I have a favour to ask you,"

"Ask away. I don't think there is anything I would not do for you,"

She smiled. Ronnie was such a gentleman. He may not be noble born but in her eyes he was greater than any nobleman she had ever met.

"There's been a shortage of some medicinal supplies in the country. Supplies used to treat diseases such as influenza have run short. Despite records showing that there should be more than enough, the supplies keep vanishing."

"You want me to find out what's happening with the supplies?" he asked.

"If it isn't too much trouble," she said.

"I'll look into it,"

"Thank you,"

"There is something I was hoping you could advise me on," he asked her after a few moments of silence.

"It would be my honour," she replied with a huge smile on her face.

S-18

Roy tugged at his collar uncomfortably. They had turned him into a waiter serving drinks while he kept and eye on Thea. The men surrounded her as if she were their prey. She laughed and enjoyed the attention but Roy knew none of them were really interested in her. He knew it by the way their eyes would stray to all the passing women. They were only interested in the power they could gain by a marriage to her. Lord Davis appeared on the fringe again. He had been trying to get through the crowd to talk to her but he had been unsuccessful. He could see now why Thea had been bored with him. Even though Lord Davis seemed to be the most decent of the lot, Roy felt none of them were good enough for her. She needed someone with passion, someone that encouraged her free spirit instead of trying to contain it.

A well dressed elderly man moved easily through the crowd to greet her. A few words were exchanged between them before he moved on. There was something familiar about the man. He signalled to Walter to keep an eye on Thea while he followed the man around the ball. The man talked with quite a few people and seemed to be very well respected among the Ton.

Noticing that Roy was out of position, Robert came over to him pretending to request a drink. Roy dropped his voice low and asked Lord Queen about the man.

"He's a very good friend of the Queen family. When Oliver was missing in Africa, he helped us recover him and kept it silent,"

"He looks like the man from the warehouse," Roy told him seriously.

"Nonsense, Admiral Shrieve is a very loyal man who served this country well. He would not be involved in such a matter. He went out of his way to help us get Oliver back,"

"From what I understood, Oliver brought himself back," Roy commented rudely.

Robert grew angry, "go bring me a glass of my expensive scotch,"

"Yes my lord," Roy said equally upset that Lord Queen would doubt him.

Roy exited the ballroom at the point that was closest to Lord Queen's personal study, the place where his most expensive bottle of scotch was stored. He poured half a glass. No one was around so he took a sip. He coughed violently. How did men drink this stuff? He exited the room and started heading back to the ballroom when some voices drew his attention. It was Howard and Ms. Adams talking.

"I don't think this is right," Howard said.

"He will be very upset if you don't do what you're supposed to."

"But..." Howard started.

"Stop snivelling and just do it," Ms. Adams said to him.

She lit a match and set one of the curtains on fire while Howard set the other one aflame. From the way the flames spread, Roy knew the curtain had been doused with an accelerant. Roy sprinted back to the ballroom. He needed to warn the guests and get a bucket brigade going so they could out the fire quickly.

"Fire," he yelled into the room.

Chaos soon broke out as men and women started scampering for the doors. Some ladies fell over and the crew from the Hot Sails had stepped in to get them out safely. Roy managed to catch sight of Thea but she wasn't heading out of the house but into it. He darted after her and caught her at the stairs.

"Where are you going? There is a fire!" he yelled at her.

"I'm going for my nephew," Thea yelled back.

"I'll get him. You get out of here now," he told her.

"Roy,"

"I promise you I'll get him," he said

Roy sprinted up the stairs. As he turned to go down the corridor he saw Lord Queen join Thea at the bottom of the stairs. He knew her father would get her to safety. He needed to concentrate on Connor now. The smoke was beginning to cloud the corridor decreasing visibility. He realised that they had set more than one room on fire. Roy started counted the doors. It was how he found anything in the Manor. When he reached the door he knew was Connor's he tried to open it but it was locked. He kicked it in. The boy sprang up from bed and the smoke started entering the room.

"Who are you?" Connor asked frightened.

"Don't panic. I'm here to get you out," Roy said as he approached him slowly.

"Why is there smoke?

"There is a fire downstairs. We need to get out now."

"Fire," the boy said looking even more frightened than before.

"Don't worry we are about to go on a little adventure," he said.

The smoke was beginning to get thick in the room. He looked at the corridor and doubted he would be able to go out that way. If his memory served him correctly, Connor's room was on the side of the Mansion where the thick vine ran up the outside. He opened the window and was very relieved to discover that he was in fact correct. He ran to the bed and used the sheets to tie Connor securely to his body. He would need both of his hands to climb and he didn't know if Connor would be strong enough to hold on to him on his own.

Roy started climbing, hoping the vine would hold their combined weight. He could feel the vine slowly shifting and pulling away from the wall as he climbed down. He increased his pace but half way down it broke. He managed to push off the wall, turn around and land on his feet first, then fall forward on to his hands. It looked like he landed like some kind of cat. He circled round to the front of the house where he found the Queen's anxiously standing by the main doors. Walter seemed to be holding Lord Queen back. Charles Allen and his crew had formed a line to bucket water from a well to the building but the fire was very intense and the smoke to thick to allow anyone to safely enter.

Roy walked over to Thea.

"My Lady can you help me untie Connor?" he asked.

"Roy!" Thea said before he had an armful of her. Everyone turned to stare at them.

"You're ok. Where did you come from?" she asked.

Connor took over at that point relating the whole story of their escape from the window. At certain points, Connor inflated the details a bit. Once Connor was removed, Roy reported to Lord Queen and Walter what he had seen. Lord Queen had Howard detained but Ms. Adams had already disappeared. By morning the Manor was gone, nothing but a burnt out structure remained.

Chapter Text

Three days had passed since the fire. Tommy Merlyn invited the Queens to stay at Merlyn Estate while the Queen Mansor was rebuilt. Robert accepted the offer. At first he had considered moving his family to one of their other properties far away while he resided in London to handle the business and the rebuilding but he felt they were better protected by staying closer to him. Merlyn Estate was relatively close to Queen Manor and only slightly smaller in size. They were easily accommodated in the guest rooms. Connor was thrilled to have a playmate in James. They were already causing all sorts of mischief and Laurel and the maids could barely keep up with them. They reminded him very much of Oliver and Tommy.

Walter and Lyla were the only servants the moved with them. The fire had only affected the main house. Instead of inundating, Tommy with all of their servants, Robert chose to move the servants to other buildings on the property until the main Manor was completed.

The police and fire inspectors were investigating the cause of the blaze. Both Howard and Roy were in jail, each accusing the other of setting the fire. Ms. Adams had died in the fire. She was the only person to perish. Thea was upset with her father because she expected him to get Roy out of jail. The problem was there was no clear cut evidence to exonerate him. It was clearly his word against Howard's and things were stacked in Howard's favour. Roy was new to the Mansion, a reformed street rat whereas Howard had years of dedicated service.

The Footman told a convincing story that Roy had been the one setting the fires. He claimed that he and Ms. Adams had found him in the Drawing Room dousing the curtains with an accelerant. Roy realising that he had been caught, attacked them to keep them from alerting anyone. Howard claimed he tried to lure him away from Ms. Adams by running in the opposite direction to hers but Roy went after her first. Her body had been found on the servant's staircase at the back of the mansion. Howard claimed she was probably going to fetch Connor and get him out of the Manor. The Footman also claimed that Roy was setting him up.

Howard's story momentarily made him doubt Roy. What if Roy had been a plant? What if he had been sent to spy on them and eliminate them? What if Roy had been deceiving them the whole time and set an innocent Howard up for the crimes he was going to commit? Roy had suggested that his good friend Admiral Shrieve was part of the conspiracy. Robert was tempted to believe Howard but the logical side of Robert's brain was not convinced. The logistics of Howard's story didn't add up. If Roy went after Ms. Adams, then how did he end up in the ballroom, on the opposite side of the house to warn them before Howard?

Robert had decided to interview all of the servants who had been present during the ball. Someone must have seen something. He was headed into the office to meet with his Barristers and conduct the interviews when his daughter appeared at the entrance stopping him from going any further.

"Father, I'm coming with you," she stated.

"Thea," Robert said with a frown.

"Don't Thea me. I am going to prove Roy had nothing to do with it. I'm sitting in on the interviews," she said with determination.

Robert sighed but before he could tell his daughter no, Moira appeared ready to travel into town with him.

"And where are you going?" Robert asked his wife.

"Robert, I've let you and Oliver handle things long enough. You clearly need help," his wife stated firmly.

"Moira, I have everything under control," Robert told her.

"Yet our home was burnt to the ground three days ago?" she pointed out to him.

Robert was speechless. Moira had never spoken like that to him before. He knew many members of the Ton had been on the receiving end of her brutal honesty but never him.

Thea bounced excitedly sensing her father was defeated, "let's go then."

"Wait for me," Connor said running to them. He was dressed exactly like Robert.

"And where are you going?" Moira asked her grandson with an arched eyebrow.

"I am a business man. I am going to work," he said proudly. Robert had decided to give Laurel and the maids a break and take his grandson into the office again.

"Robert dear, your four year old grandson can go into town with you but you're opposed to your wife and daughter accompanying you? Your logic astounds me," his wife deadpanned.

S-2

The carriage ride into town was mostly silent. On arrival at the company Barrister Raymond was waiting for him. He asked his family for a few minutes alone with Ronnie to discuss another matter. Moira and Thea busied themselves with Connor who was pointing out the different countries on the world map that he had learned the last time he was there.

Robert wasted no time getting to the point of the meeting once he was alone with Ronnie in his office.

"About a week before Christmas, Barrister Stein asked me about your character. He since informed me that he approached you to work with him."

"He did," Ronnie verified. He sat directly opposite Lord Queen, a large mahogany desk between them. Unlike Ronnie's office this office was in pristine condition.

"Have you given him a reply yet?" Robert inquired relaxing back into his chair.

"Not as yet," Ronnie replied honestly.

"I've hired both of you to sit in on my interviews with my staff. I assume it won't be a problem," Lord Queen asked the young Barrister.

"No," Ronnie responded. He was a responsible professional. His other matter with Barrister Stein would not affect this one.

"Good, Barrister Stein should be here by now. I'm afraid the both of you might have to stand for a while as my wife and daughter will be sitting in on the interviews as well and there is a limit to the amount of chairs this office can accommodate. We start with the waiters,"

S-3

At the end of the day, they had interviewed 15 servants; all were of the opinion that Roy was the perpetrator.

"It's not Roy," Thea kept saying after every interview.

"My dear there is numerous amount of evidence damming his character," Barrister Stein said to her.

"It's not him. They can't look past his history to see who he really is. It's not him," she insisted stubbornly.

"The Stable Master was positive he was poisoning your horse," Stein countered.

"He wouldn't do that," Thea responded.

"He was. I ordered him to make your horse sick to keep you indoors," Robert revealed.

"You did what?" Thea asked angrily.

"Thea you can be angry at your father later. We need to determine who the real culprit is," Moira said wisely.

"From what I understand, Mr. Harper claimed he saw Mr. Machin and Ms. Adams in the Billiard Room and Mr. Machin claims that he and Ms. Adams saw Mr. Harper in the Drawing Room."

"Yes, that is correct,"

"Your servants that were interviewed today all agreed that Roy had been in the ballroom until right before the fire. They also insisted that Howard had been in the ballroom as well. What were the three of them doing out of the ballroom?" Barrister Stein asked.

"Ms. Adams's sole task at the Manor was to care for Connor. I don't know what my footman was up to but I know I sent Roy to my personal study to fetch me a glass of scotch,"

"Aha! Roy was the only one that had cause to be there," Thea pointed out.

"Where are the Billiard Room and the Drawing Room in relation to your study," Ronnie asked

"They are both on that corridor," Robert replied.

"Was he headed to your study or returning to the ballroom?" Stein asked.

"He told me he was returning with the glass when he heard voices that drew his attention to that room," Robert related to them.

"What happened to the glass?" Ronnie asked curiously.

"I don't know. I don't remember seeing it in his hand when he entered the ballroom," Robert commented.

"It was not in his hand. I would have remembered if he had a glass in his hand because I would have initially assumed he was drunk instead of stark raving mad," Moira added.

"He must have dropped it between the Billiard Room and the Ballroom. The glass will confirm his story then," Stein said.

Something was bothering Ronnie though, "if Roy's story is true; why is Ms. Adams dead? Howard survived without any injuries; Ms. Adams should have as well."

"What if Howard killed her?" Moira proposed. "Had Roy not warned us of the fire we would have all perished. The fire initially spread towards us, not the back staircase. What if Howard was the only person that was supposed to survive the fire?"

S-4

That evening Robert sat in what used to be his friend, Malcolm's, study. He had spent the previous three hours guiding Tommy on the affairs of the estate and advising him about the best way to get everything back in order. It was a difficult task. Several deeds had to be rewritten in Tommy's name. Notices had to be posted in the papers that he was now authorised to conduct business on behalf of the estate. There was also the small matter of registering his children births and recording them onto the Merlyn lineage.

After the younger man had gone up to attend to his wife's needs, Robert was left alone to contemplate Moira's conclusion that they were all supposed to die. It forced him to recall a memory from that night that he had overlooked. Right after he had sent Roy for that scotch, Admiral Shrieve had come over to apologise to him because he needed to leave early. If they were all supposed to die, Shrieve would have lived. That bothered him but it was hard to believe Shrieve was involved.

He had known the man most of his life. When Robert was a boy, Shrieve's father was a grounds keeper on the property. Robert used to play with him and they remained close until Shrieve left to join the military to become a distinguished gentleman. When he attained the rank of Admiral, Robert had thrown him a huge congratulations party. The Queens made sure to support the military endeavours of their country.

When Lord Wilson paid him that surprise visit to tell him that Oliver had disappeared in Africa, Robert had collapsed against his chair and had stayed the entire night in the office. He couldn't bear the thought of going home to tell Moira that their son might have died in Africa. He had spent many nights after that in the office. He sought the advice of his old friend who encouraged him not to lose hope. Shrieve had many friends who served in Africa and he promised to discreetly mount a search party to look for Oliver in the last place Slade had seen him. Robert never officially declared the news to the Ton.

When Oliver landed at the docks, Shrieve was the one that brought him home and kept it quiet. Robert was eternally grateful to him. Roy was right though, it was Oliver who had brought himself home, no one else. It was with a heavy heart that Robert went to sleep that night.

S-5

Ray Palmer, the most famous Master Ship Builder in all of England was pacing the offices of Smoak East India. He had been told he had to wait for Robert Queen to arrive. He was going to go to the Queen Shipping office but received a message to meet him here instead.

Ray had been beyond pissed when he saw the state in which the Al-Saher had been returned. The boat had left not two months before in pristine condition and returned looking almost derelict. He had built a trading ship not a war ship. He had a very long list of damages to the ship. He needed payment to source the necessary materials to fix the ship. What was even more vexing was that they were asking that he get the ship ready quickly for it to sail back to Egypt in time to receive the cargo from its sister ship! They were crazy. He had the title Master Ship Builder not Miracle Ship Builder. He would do his best but he wasn't going to make any promises.

While he waited, Barrister Raymond asked him if he could recommend anyone that could review some accounts for him. As it so happened, he used Paul and Curtis Holt to balance his books. Paul was the son of the well respected Mark Holt who handled the accounts of several well respected Lords. Curtis was from Africa and had come to England at a very young age with his father. They had become servants in the Holt household and adopted their last name. Curtis and Paul both understudied Mark and branched out with a few clients of their own. If there was a discrepancy in the accounts then Curtis would find it.

S-6

Lady Laurel Merlyn sipped some fine English tea as she sat opposite her father in her childhood home. Her mother had invited her over for tea. She had decided to come alone to talk to her parents. She was sure Tommy's presence would aggravate her father. The scones were every bit as delicious as she remembered. Her mother packed several in a cloth for her to take for James. Dinah Lance was very much looking forward to getting to know her grandchildren better. She had already picked up a little doll for Rebecca to play with as she got older.

"Thank you for what you did for Tommy," she said directly to her father.

"I must comply with your wishes Lady Merlyn," he spat at her.

"Why don't you want to give him a chance?" she asked.

"He kidnapped you," her father responded bitterly.

"He did not," Laurel insisted.

"He took advantage of you Laurel and you don't even realise what he did!" her father said to her.

"I am telling you he did not. I chose to go with him. I was of sound body and mind when I did that. He needed me and even though he begged me to stay behind, I went with him. Father, he never asked me to go with him. You need to forgive us. You have two grandchildren who would love to get to know their grandfather. Come to dinner tomorrow night at the Manor. Mother told me how much you missed me and Sara. You have me back. Do you really want to go on living as if I'm still gone? Do you want to squander whatever time you have left at that tavern!" Laurel pleaded with her father.

"I am busy tomorrow night," he said gruffly but then conceded "I will think about dinner perhaps in a week or two when I become more familiar with my grand children."

Laurel smiled. Perhaps there was hope that her father and her husband would one day get along.

S-7

Barrister Stein was hard at work behind his desk when Ronnie arrived. Stein invited him to take a seat opposite him.

"I have to admit that I did not expect to see you. I was under the impression that you were not going to accept my offer," he said to the younger man.

"I wasn't going to accept it because I thought the nature of my cases might complicate the partnership and bring you into danger," Ronnie admitted.

"I see," Stein said steepling his fingers in front of him, "have your cases changed?"

"No they've become more dangerous," Ronnie admitted.

"But?" Stein queried.

"But I know now that you do something similar. You didn't once look uncomfortable during the arson and murder investigation," Ronnie commented.

"You don't get to be as distinguished as I am without handling delicate matters. Barrister Raymond if this partnership is to work we must not doubt one another," Stein told him.

"I don't doubt you. I didn't want to place you in any danger,"

"Then I should have joined another profession. I always thought I could try my hand at science."

Ronnie laughed.

"Do you accept the terms of the partnership?" Stein asked him seriously presenting him with the agreement he had drawn up.

"I do," Ronnie said signing the agreement.

"Good let me apprise you of where I am with my cases. I am almost finished tying up affairs of the Wilson Estate,"

"Wilson Estate! Do you have access to his accounts?" Ronnie asked hopefully.

"Yes all of those files are here to transfer to the new heir. A nephew by the name of Grant," Stein said.

"I suppose it would be unethical to hand those files to someone else first,"

"Someone else?" Stein queried.

"A fellow who is good with numbers, I suspect the answers we are looking for can be found in the numbers," Ronnie told the elder man.

"It would be unethical but as the legal representative to the estate, we could hire someone to review the accounts to ensure the correct amount of death tax was paid,"

"We could," Ronnie said with a smile. "You don't by chance have the books for Lord Thawne as well,"

"Physically no but I do know where they are stored. Perhaps someone could copy them overnight,"

"Indeed," Ronnie said as a plan formed in his head.

The next day Paul and Curtis Holt arrived at Stein's office. Ronnie set them up right away in what was to be his new office. It was going to take Ronnie some time to get himself moved in properly and the Holts could use the office in the meantime.

He needed to reach out to all of his clients and inform them of his new offices and move his files over there. He estimated it would take a month to move. That night when he was deciding which stack of files had the honour of moving into the new office first, he noticed the medical inventory report on his desk. Over the last five years several things had gone missing. He suspected it pointed to a rogue doctor. He would share his findings with Caitlyn soon.

S-8

After one week, they were finally allowed to enter the burnt out structure of the Manor. The walk through had been very difficult. It was hard for the Queens to see the home that they knew and loved in that condition. Even the strong Moira had shed a tear when looking at the blackened stonework that now marked the outside of the once grand house.

"Let's find that glass," Thea said in a determined way. She was getting Roy out of jail.

It took nearly all day of rifling through the rubble and clearing debris out to get to the billiard room. In front of the door they were able to discover a melted sheen of glass that had no other explanation to be there other than it was the glass that Roy had been holding. The Constables on site with them collected the evidence. The Chief Inspector still wasn't convinced. The man wanted a confession from one of the suspects. Barrister Stein volunteered to interview Howard. He was positive he could get the man to confess.

After four hours, Howard confessed to helping Ms. Adams set the house on fire but not to the death of Ms. Adams. He said they set four rooms on fire, which was consistent with what the inspectors found. They hadn't even known that Roy had seen them. It wasn't until he had arrived outside and saw people running out the grand entrance that he realised that they had been alerted to the fire. He claimed that Ms. Adams had exited the Manor at the same time as him but she had chosen to cross the fields in the back and head out to the roadside. He had wanted to see the Manor for one last time from the front before he left.

When queried about why he set fire to the Manor, he said that Ms. Adams had paid him to do it. He was going to move to the countryside and hire his own servant to attend to him. He did not know where Ms. Adams got the money from or who she was working for. He denied ever having received a letter threatening Thea's life. He also claimed he knew nothing about Sandra's death. Barrister Stein got the impression that he was scared of whoever was giving him the orders and the footman was not willing to double cross them. Stein was willing to take what they got.

The Chief Inspector was satisfied and charged Howard with arson and murder since they suspected the fire lead to Ms. Adams death. Howard may have claimed she left, but she was still found dead as a result of the fire. Maybe she had a change of heart and decided to go back for Conner but succumbed to the smoke. A release order for Roy was written.

S-9

Roy was happy to be leaving his filthy cell. It was worse than living on the streets. How Henry Allen, a well bred Lord survived for ten years was beyond his imagination. He had spent one week in the squalor and he didn't think he would survive to get out of there.

The first person he noticed when he was released was Lady Thea. She looked like an angel even though she was dressed in a black dress. As he got closer to her she screwed her face up in disgust.

"You smell like a latrine. Did they not bathe you?" she asked.

Roy the street rat would have been offended, Roy the stable hand that was learning to read laughed. He was strangely happy that Thea was so innocent and naive.

"I'm afraid you'll have to come back with us on the horse," Robert said.

Roy agreed. He would only dirty the carriage and then some other servant would have to clean up his mess. He did not want another man cleaning up his mess. The ride to Merlyn Estate was uneventful. Once he had cleaned up, he headed to the kitchen for his first real meal in almost two weeks. Thea was waiting for him there. She seemed to have predicted that was where he would head first. She presented him with his first book.

"We have a lot of work to catch up on and you will catch up on it. I know about Mia," Thea said crossly.

"I'm sorry," Roy said not knowing what else to say.

"I know my father ordered you but you're going to make it up to me by writing out the alphabet," she instructed.

"The al-what?" Roy asked.

Thea sighed. It was going to be a long bumpy road.

S-10

As expected Roy was shunned at Merlyn Estate. The servants there were very wary of him. It only bode in their favour though because Lord Queen wanted him to follow Admiral Shrieve. The man had apologised profusely for his initial reaction. Roy didn't fault him for defending a close friend. If they hadn't, they might have all perished in the fire.

Early every morning, Roy made his way to a bakery. There he would purchase bread. As he exited he would see the admiral leaving his home. Years of military service had engrained an early start to the day for him. He was always home before the sunset and he seemed to remain at home all night. The man was a widower with no maid or servant. That told Roy the man had something to hide. He varied where he took his breakfast every day. A few times he was joined by another gentleman that Roy knew was also in the military. Perhaps they served together. One day he heard a passing nobleman address the stranger as Admiral Eiling. Roy tried to get close while they were conversing but all they ever seemed to talk about was the weather. Lady Laurel was the first person to suggest it was code. Lyla accompanied him one day. They were dressed as a Welsh couple that was visiting London for the first time. They sat across from Shrieve and were fortunate when Eiling appeared. They listened intently while they spoke.

"I know where they are talking about. It is a small hamlet a few miles south of London. They spoke about snow and Harley and Carrie complained bitterly about the snow when they followed a lead there," Lyla told him.

"You're basing this on snow at this time of year, which is everywhere mind you, and Harley and Carrie are crazy!" Roy pointed out.

"Yes but I have a strong feeling it is the same place. We will have to check it out at night. Residents of hamlets usually notice visitors to their community and we don't want anyone suspecting anything," Lyla said.

Roy sighed. It was going to be a long night.

S-11

Robert, Roy and Ronnie decided they would investigate the hamlet. They arrived at night and tied their horses to some bushes. They decided to split up and then meet back by the horses when the moon was high in the sky. Robert started at one end and slowly made his way through. Most houses were in darkness. He passed a house that had a few candles flickering by the window. He glanced into what appeared to be a kitchen. He instantly recognised Damian Smoak. He knew this property was not connected with Edward Smoak. Damian must have acquired it on his own. A man Robert knew all too well joined Damian in the kitchen with another man. Up until that moment a part of him wanted to doubt that Shrieve had any involvement; that maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe Roy was a street rat who couldn't tell distinguished men apart but looking at them sitting side by side, that doubt was quickly chased away.

The hamlet was small and both Ronnie and Roy passed Robert in their scouting of the hamlet. Ronnie looked into the window and identified the unknown man as the missing man from Eobard Thawne's cell, Constable Hunter Zoloman. After about an hour, both Zoloman and Shrieve left. Roy agreed to stay the night and watch that house while Robert followed Shrieve and Ronnie followed Zoloman.

The next morning, when Walter relieved Roy from his post, he found out that Schrieve had returned home. He was using a secret entrance to leave at night and Zoloman had led them to a warehouse close to the docks.

S-12

The next night Roy was stuck with Tommy Merlyn watching the warehouse. The man had finally gotten his estate in order and wanted to join in on the surveillance. Robert and Ronnie were in the hamlet watching Damian Smoak. Four hours into their watch, one of the three guards that patrolled the outside of the building, left his post by the back door, to speak to the guards in front.

Tommy started creeping towards the back door.

"Where are you going?" Roy asked panicked.

"To take a look inside. It's clear, the guard stepped away," Tommy replied.

"You're crazy," Roy retorted but he still followed him to the back door.

"I want this to end. Sitting here watching isn't going to end it," Tommy told him.

Tommy opened the door quietly and slipped inside followed by Roy. The warehouse was pitch black. No one was inside and there were no windows to let any light in.

"I can't see anything," Tommy said.

"No shit," Roy responded. "We should get out of here,"

"No there must be a candle somewhere," Tommy said before there was a loud cacophony of noises. He had tripped and knocked several things over.

"Idiot, we're going to be caught now," Roy said as he felt behind him for the door handle. He didn't know how far Tommy went into the warehouse but he hadn't moved away from the door.

A loud voice from outside told him that one of the guards was coming towards the door blocking his exit. The warehouse was suddenly bathed in light from the torches at the front entrance. Roy spotted Tommy several feet away sprawled over a series of broken cages. There were a dozen or so rats scurrying around that had escaped those cages. He knew there was no way he would be able to get to Tommy and fight their way out. The door behind Roy opened quicker than he expected and he felt a pistol press to the base of his skull.

"Well well, what have he here!" a gruff voice said

Chapter Text

Felicity had never been exposed to the French culture like this before. She had passed through France once or twice before but she had never stayed long. With Isabelle's family based in Spain and her friend Cisco there as well, Felicity tended to gravitate more towards that country. She was seeing France through the eyes of people that lived there and not as a tourist. McKenna was a great hostess and ensured that they enjoyed all the events. Oliver wanted to meet with the information traders as soon as Christmas ended but the partying continued into the first day of the New Year.

Felicity had always enjoyed French wines. This trip introduced her to a new vineyard, Lafite Rothschild that produced fantastic wines. She would have to start importing it. She told McKenna's husband that the Italians thought they had the best food in the world and he set about to disprove that notion. Every day was a new French dish. They started with the local Marseille favourites such as Bouillabaisse, Soupe de Poisson à la Rouille and Navettes de Marseille. They then went on to other famous French cuisine such as coq au vin, cassoulet, moules, confit de canard and ratatouille There were some potato dishes tartiflette and bouillinade, that she liked very much. The cheese soufflé had both her and Oliver moaning with delight at the taste. For breakfast, McKenna had insisted that she try the buckwheat crêpes which were famous in Britanny. Felicity had also tried the steak tartare which she knew her mother-in-law was quite fond of. They didn't forget the desserts either. Felicity had had her fill of Éclairs and crème brûlée.

In between meals they sampled a lot of cheese, from goat and sheep milk cheeses to the harder aged cheeses along with a lot more wine! One night they had fondue savoyarde which was melted cheese with white wine and garlic served in a communal pot where everyone dipped their bread. It was the perfect way to enjoy a cold winter night with friends.

S-2

On the first day of the New Year, Felicity and Oliver strolled along the seaside. It was cold but Felicity didn't mind. She imagined they looked like one of those couples who were glued together at the hips. She had never understood the need to hold hands but now she couldn't imagine walking so close to Oliver without holding his arm or hand. There was this need inside of her to have physical contact with him. She had never thought of herself as a clingy person but she was certainly turning into one.

She snuggled into his side as a particularly cold gust of wind blasted them, "I love you," she mumbled.

"I love you too," he said dropping a kiss to the side of her head.

The time that they had just to themselves was wonderful. Diggle spent most of the time relaxing in the servant quarters which gave them time alone as a couple. Felicity had thought that she knew her husband reasonably well before they left England but she had been so wrong. There were so many nuances and outright contradictions within him. He was a very strong man; she had no doubt about that but he was also very gentle and caring. When she was injured he changed her bandages for her every day. His touch was so soft, and not once did he hurt her. He could be broody and standoffish but with her he was open and cuddly. He loved to touch her too. It was very easy to get wrapped up in his arms.

Her husband had a gift for languages. He didn't speak Arabic before they arrived in Egypt but when they left he was forming full sentences. He was far from fluent but what another person would have taken six months to learn he learned in the few weeks they had been there. She much preferred to hear her husband speaking French though. There was something incredibly sexy about the way the words just rolled off his tongue. It caused all sorts of reactions in her body, reactions she was sure he knew about because he would give her the most smouldering looks.

Their nights so far in France had been quite passionate but that would end soon. She was running out of tea. She had only packed enough to take her two weeks over their expected return date. She would have to let Oliver know soon. He certainly would not be pleased. Maybe it could be an incentive to return to England faster. As much as she enjoyed their time together, she really missed her new family, she even missed Moira's unnerving stare. She hoped they liked their Christmas gifts. She was looking forward to playing with Connor. He must be so sick of being stuck in the manor.

She wondered how Thea was handling her suitor situation. This was a very important time in her life. Her 18th birthday was near the end of this month. Felicity hoped to be home in time for it. She knew a few suitors would approach Thea early. She hoped the younger girl wasn't too disappointed with her options. Many of the men would be more interested in her name and the benefit they might derive from being married to Robert Queen's daughter than Thea herself. Despite the challenges, she was confident that Moira would guide her daughter to the best possible option.

The cold was beginning to penetrate more into her body which result in her seeking more and more warmth from her husband, which he seemed to realise.

"Let's head back love," he whispered softly to her. "I have many ways I can warm you up."

Felicity heart picked up instantly. Her husband certainly did know how to warm her up.

S-3

Oliver made his way with Jean and Hal, McKenna's husband and brother-in-law, who would take him to meet the traders. They would point them out and Oliver would approach them by himself. He didn't want to drag McKenna or her friends into the mess that currently surrounded his family. He had met with a few so far but he wasn't having any luck. Either his approach was wrong or he wasn't offering them enough money. They looked at him with disdain commenting that Blood was an English last name and there were no Englishmen in France with that name. McKenna had told him something similar. Oliver eventually realised that the man might go by another name in France.

He was on the fifth trader when the man recognised him. The man bolted and left Oliver with no other choice but to chase him through the streets of Marseille. The trader had his escape route planned well. Just when Oliver thought he had run the man into a dead end alley, the man leapt onto the wall pushing off and up, grabbing hold of the bottom of a balcony and pulling himself up. Oliver followed suit. He followed the man through the apartment, ignoring the naked couple on the bed, out onto the corridor. He followed him down the corridor over the railing onto the stairs. They ran out of the building into an open courtyard.

Oliver continued to follow him for a few blocks to a three storey building where the trader started to climb the outer stonework.

"You have got to be kidding me," Oliver said as he ran and jumped trying to catch the man's leg but missed leaving him with no choice but to climb.

He hadn't had to exert himself like this in a while. He had more upper body strength than his target as he was slowly gaining on him. He made it on the roof just behind him and followed him, jumping from roof to roof. He could tell the man was tiring. He was tiring as well. It was getting harder to make the jumps. They reached a building that was lower than the others. It was about a 12 foot drop but that didn't dissuade the trader. Oliver followed him over the side, landing on his feet and rolling forward to keep his momentum going. He was finally able to plough into the back of the man. After a quick fight, Oliver had him knocked out but then he realised he had another problem. How the hell did he get down now?

S-4

Later that night, an exhausted Oliver returned to the chateau with Hal and Jean carrying the weight of the trader.

"Oliver!" Felicity cried when she took in the dishevelled state of his clothes. He certainly hadn't left home like that especially with some of the tears in his breeches.

"I'm ok but tired," he admitted kissing her temple.

"What is he doing here?" McKenna screeched eyeing the unconscious trader that Hal and Jean were carrying straight to the cellar.

"He recognised me," Oliver said taking a seat. Felicity brought him some ale to drink.

"Here in France?" McKenna replied sceptically.

"And he ran. He knows something," Oliver told her.

She sighed, "And how long am I supposed to keep this man in my cellar?"

"Until he tells us who Sebastian Blood is. After that Hal has an idea to keep the man occupied for a few months."

McKenna's eyes cut to Hal as he and Jean came back without the trader, "your plans better not involve my cellar!"

S-5

They spent the next three days encouraging the man to talk. It was driving McKenna crazy knowing that she was in part responsible for holding a man illegally in her cellar. Felicity spent a lot of time distracting the woman by taking her down to the harbour during the day.

The trader eventually talked. He had spent some time in London last year which was how he recognised Oliver Queen. They discovered that the Baron had led them astray. The man had cleverly placed a lie within a truth. There was a man in France the relayed information but he was not Sebastian Blood. It was only when the trader told them who Sebastian Blood was that Felicity remembered reading his name in the paper. He had been Lord Slade's Stable Master that had been killed during the wedding massacre.

The man they were looking for was Hartley Rathaway. He was cousin to the King of France and was second in line to the throne. A few years ago he was 10th. It wasn't a great stretch of the imagination to figure out what happened to the cousins in between. Rathaway was a master linguist, which would be essential in conveying information throughout the continent and Africa. His personal valet was a man called Cyrus Gold, whose underground name was Solomon Grundy. Grundy was supposedly the strongest man in France and it was rumoured that many men had died by his hand. It was also a known fact that he bred messenger pigeons as a hobby. Rathaway's chateau was on the outskirts of Paris. They started discussing plans to confront Rathaway.

"Maybe if we can prove he killed his cousins and he's plotting to kill the king, we might be able to get him to help us?" Felicity proposed.

"Nobody's been particularly helpful yet so I doubt that will work," Oliver pointed out.

"We need to go to Paris and make an assessment ourselves," Diggle said. "It's pointless discussing it now."

Oliver agreed. "I'll have McKenna change more of my Pounds into Franks. We'll have to stretch the last of our funds."

"The Great Oliver Queen is out of money?" Felicity teased.

Oliver pointed a finger at his wife while he searched for the appropriate words to scold her. She knew very well they couldn't go to the bank and withdraw any funds from accounts that the companies held in France. No one was supposed to know they were in France before they confronted Rathaway. They had to make do with the hard currency they had brought with them.

His wife giggled in response and Diggle took that as his cue to leave the room. Those two could easily disappear into their own world together and forget about the other poor souls in the room.

S-6

Felicity was busy packing to go to Paris. She had replaced her clothes with apparel suitable to those of a working French woman. The clothes weren't what caused Oliver to arch his eyebrow though it was the many crates that she had packed and labelled to be shipped to England.

"Don't you think you have enough bottles of wine?" her husband asked leaning against the doorway as his wife fussed over a crate.

"Oliver there is no such thing as enough bottles of wine!" Felicity responded as she looked up from the crate.

"I shall have to add a large wine cellar to the manor for you then," he said.

"Nonsense, there is no need to do that," Felicity responded.

He snorted, "Consider it my wedding gift to you then. We'll call it Chateau de Felicity de Vin."

She straightened herself into a standing position, "Now you're mocking me. I don't need a whole chateau for wine," she said with pursed lips.

"I would never do that my love!" Oliver responded with a sexy smirk on his lips.

"Wipe that smirk off your lips. You know I'm out of tea," Felicity sulked.

Oliver stepped forward, "Your tea isn't the only way to prevent conception."

"It's the only method I'm comfortable with," she told him honestly.

Oliver bent his head down, his wife's eyes automatically falling shut and her lips parting. He ghosted his lips over hers, along her jaw, to her ears, "we'll see how long that conviction will last," he whispered before stepping away and leaving his wife very frustrated.

S-7

Felicity glared at the horse in front of her. She just knew she would have to ride one much sooner than she hoped. Her wound was fully healed but her shoulder was still a little stiff. The trip back from Siwa had been the worse ride of her life, not only because of her injury but also because of exhaustion. They had pushed themselves very hard to get there in such a short time, changing off horses at different stages. She was sure, if it weren't for the pain in her shoulder that jostled from every bounce of the horse, she might have passed out a few times on the return leg to Alexandria.

They had a similar journey ahead of them but at least this time they would be resting nights. The horses in France were not bred for long distance journeys such as this one and would require plenty rest as well. It was probably going to take just over two weeks to get to Marseille providing the weather remained good. The last thing they needed was a winter storm.

"I thought you liked adventures," Oliver whispered in her ear.

She turned her glare on him, "I do but I've gone from hot and sandy to cold and windy."

"You can ride with me," he offered.

"That will only slow us down. I'm sure you mother is already angry enough that we missed the ball."

"We have a good excuse and I'm sure they'll love all your Christmas goodies. You sent enough Baklava to feed everyone at the ball."

"That wasn't for the ball!" Felicity told him.

"It wasn't," he asked confused. "Wait, is the Baklava like the wine? You can never have enough?"

"YES! It always disappears so fast," she complained.

"Perhaps if you didn't eat four a day it might last longer?" her husband teased.

"I do not eat four a day," she countered before deciding to add, "When I'm in England. I hope they didn't send it to the Manor. Besides even if they did, Priya and Anaya know how much I love it. They would have kept it separate for me."

Oliver smiled and helped his wife on her horse. As she settled herself on the saddle Oliver gently caressed her calf, before she could control herself her eyes fell shut and she let out a small groan. His hand instantly stopped. Her eyes snapped open. He winked at her before walking away. She narrowed her eyes at her husband; two can play at that game.

S-8

Even in the winter, The French countryside was still beautiful but they did not have time to enjoy it. Oliver promised his wife they would return and tour France at a later date. The priority was getting to Hartley Rathaway and finding out what the grand plan was.

Every night they settled in a small auberges or cottage in whatever village they came across. The people were friendly once you spoke to them in French which meant Oliver had to do most of the talking. On the second week of travel a storm brewed and they were caught indoors for three days. The storm only lasted one day but it had filled a river up ahead and it forced them to wait the further two days before they could cross safely. With nothing to do, the teasing game between Felicity and Oliver intensified.

Oliver would caress her side using his thumbs to rub circles over her hip bone. He started speaking to her in only French, emphasizing her name with a heavy French accent. At nights he would hold her close placing soft kisses on her neck. He would suck gently on her pulse point to elicit a moan. He was determined to make her feel the same sense of deprivation he felt, to make her need him so badly it hurt. Felicity was not someone he wanted, she was someone he needed. He needed her like air or water. He could not imagine his life without her; his little vixen, his lover, his partner, his wife.

Felicity was not letting Oliver win at all. She returned all of touches including raking her nails through his scalp. During dinner on the first night she had a little sauce from the pot-au-feu, a beef and vegetable stew that she was eating, at the side of her mouth. She used her index finger to wipe it away and then rudely sucked her finger clean in front of Oliver. She let out a satisfied smirk when her husband's breathing hitched and his eyes dilated. She was not losing this battle.

The next day Felicity filled the tub with hot water for a bath and did not inform Oliver she would be in there. She listened closely to his movements in the bedroom and just as he was about to open the door to the bathroom she stuck her foot in the air and started scrubbing it with the wash cloth. The strangled cry her husband released had been very satisfying until he sat at the edge of the tub and puller her straight out to straddle his legs while he savagely attacked her lips.

By the next morning they had both lost the battle. Consequences be dammed, it was the best night of their lives.

S-9

Felicity sighed in relief once they reached the outskirts of Paris. Oliver took them on a course that skirted the outside of the city. He knew a good place by the Place du Tertre in the 18th arrondissement of Paris where they could stay without attracting any attention. This was the northern most part of the city. It would also make it easy for them to leave the city when they were finished and continue heading north to Calais where a friend of Oliver's would sail them up to the Thames.

Felicity snuck a few Franks away from her husband to pick up a painting as an apology to Moira. Oliver had to remind her that their funding was becoming rather limited when he discovered the painting.

Rathaway's chateau was outside the 17th arrondissement but in an effort to show Felicity the romantic side of Paris he detoured a bit heading west towards The Champs Elysees. They enjoyed the chic little cafes and shops for an hour or two before they headed west to the Arc de Triomphe and out to the Rathaway chateau.

S-10

The best way to learn Hartley Rathaway's movements was by working in his Cheatau. Diggle couldn't speak French, Felicity's version of the language was barely passable so that left Oliver. He managed to gain employment on the estate working in the bird house cleaning it. At nights when the staff was asleep, he would sneak back to the inn where Felicity and Diggle were staying to report on his day. The birdhouse held more than just pigeons. There were hawks, sparrows and marlins as well. He found that birds ate quite a lot for their size. Every day there were at least five new pigeons that arrived, and an equal amount that were sent off with messages. The birdhouse was indeed an information hub but Oliver couldn't get a hold of any of the letters. They were always taken straight to Rathaway.

Working in the birdhouse didn't give him any information about what happened inside the chateau either but fortunately the maids flocked to his side every time he sat down for a meal. From flirting with a few, something his wife strongly disapproved of, he learned that every night Rathaway had a night cap in his study before bed. His valet would be the only one that was needed to attend to him then and most of the staff would retire for the night.

They decided that they would apprehend him in his study. Oliver would have to subdue Cyrus Gold first before they questioned Rathaway. They decided not to interrogate him in the study because even though the servants were supposed to be asleep that didn't mean that they were. Quite a few of the maids had propositioned Oliver to join them in their rooms. He had also heard that some sneak out at night. There was a chance that a wayward servant could catch them in the study. They couldn't take Rathaway far though, they didn't have the resources and the night manager of the inn would certainly notice a French Nobleman being dragged into his inn. They settled on taking him to the cellar. It was fairly sound proof and most servants were scared of the cellar.

S-11

Felicity sourced the necessary sedative during the day and Oliver collected it the night before they were to implement their plan. It was easy for Diggle and Felicity to sneak onto the grounds. Oliver had given them the floor plan to the chateau. Felicity made her way straight to the cellar where an incapacitated Cyrus Gold already waited. The cellar was cold and filled with shelves lined with wine. This was more her style. She closely inspected the collection ignoring the man grunts as he tried to urge her to untie him. Shortly afterwards, Diggle and Oliver arrived with the unconscious Rathaway. The dosage they had given him was very light, and he would wake soon. In the mean time they would interrogate Gold about the pigeons and the locations that they flew too.

"You didn't go overboard on the ropes love?" Felicity asked pointing to then numerous thick ropes that bound Gold.

"No, he's extremely strong. The sedative barely worked on him at all. I had to use my knowledge on the weak points of the human body to subdue him," Oliver revealed.

Diggle pulled out the gag from Gold's mouth. He immediately tried to call for help but it was no use, no one would hear him. While Diggle and Oliver tried to convince him to talk, Felicity continued with her inspection of the collection moving further into the cellar. It was much larger than she thought. There were hundreds of bottles of wine. When she reached the end of the cellar she thought she saw an outline of a door in the wall. There was no handle but when she pushed on it, it opened. There was an unlit torch on the other side. Felicity picked it up and used one of the lit ones in the cellar to light it. She shined it into the new room. It appeared to be a cave of some sort. As she started surveying the area, she realised she was in a series of catacombs.

She heard some noises and decided to follow the sound. At every intersection she marked the wall so she could find her way back to the cellar. She came to a large cavern filled with cages of rats. The creatures seemed very ravenous. An idea suddenly occurred to her. She picked up the cage with what looked like the least rats and holding it very far away from her body, she headed back to Oliver.

She felt exhausted by the time she returned with the cage. The return trip was further than she thought. Almost every six feet she had to stop to put the cage down. She had the distinct feeling that her husband would have walked the entire way without putting the cage down once and he would still be able to lift her easily at the end. When she finally returned to them, they were still trying to break Gold.

"Where did you disappear to?" her husband asked her concerned.

"The cellar leads into catacombs," Felicity said putting down the cage of rats and leaning carefully against a rack of wine. She thought she deserved a glass for the feat she just accomplished.

"And you went there by yourself!" Oliver asked angrily.

"Yes," Felicity replied straightening herself to face her husband at her full height. Perhaps if she could also find a crate to step on, she might be able to come level with him.

"Felicity! Supposed something happened to you?" Oliver started with a frown on his face.

Diggle sensing an impending disagreement headed them off.

"Is there a particular reason why you brought a cage full of rats here?" Diggle asked eyeing the creatures carefully.

"I thought your fist might want a break," she replied easily.

"How do those things give our fists a break?" her husband asked.

"Rats eat everything particularly when they are hungry. Stick his hand in there. I'm sure it will loosen his tongue," Felicity said.

"How do we get his hand in there without letting them out?" Oliver asked.

"Must I think of everything?" Felicity responded.

While they worked on their interrogation techniques, Felicity returned to the catacombs. She came across more caverns filled with rats, an exit into the country side through which they could escape, and crates filled with jewels, Franks and medicine. They would certainly be confiscating those items. The fact that it wasn't stored in the chateau meant it wasn't connected to the Rathaway estate. It was probably stolen treasure and money used to bankroll their operation. There were probably many more stashes all over France but she was sure they would feel the loss.

When she returned Rathaway was awake and shouting in a panic. Her French really was atrocious; all she understood was a bunch of swear words she heard her sailors using all the time when they encountered difficulties at sea.

"What happened?" she asked Diggle.

"A rat got loose," Diggle said.

Felicity yelped and jumped straight onto her husband. Fortunately he reacted quickly and hoisted her off the ground into his arms.

"You're afraid of rats?" he asked perplexed.

"Didn't you bring the cage of rats here," Diggle pointed out.

"They were contained. If you hadn't noticed they designed the cages with a handle on top so that the person carrying the cages won't get bitten! Now where did that rat go?" she asked looking around frantically.

"We killed it but not before it bit him," Diggle explained.

Felicity nodded. "What is he saying?" Felicity asked her husband who had yet to put her down.

Oliver looked at her hesitantly and she added, "Besides the highly inappropriate words for a lady."

"Something about a cure," he told her.

"A cure for what?" she asked cocking her head to the side.

Her husband shrugged.

"We only have a few more hours before sunrise," Diggle pointed out.

"Hopefully he'll calm down and we can figure out what he's talking about," Felicity said.

"We don't really need him to talk, Grundy told us about the pigeons and the messages and that the HIVE hierarchy is based in a place called Stonehaven in England," her husband told her.

"Do we know the purpose of the rats?" she asked.

"No," they both responded.

"Then we need him to talk," Felicity signalled for Oliver to put her down. When she was firmly on the ground, she stepped forward and slapped the man across his face.

"I can't help you if I don't understand what you're saying," she said to him in English.

The man turned up a nose at her pretending not to understand her but she ignored him. He was supposed to be a master linguist.

"I know you understand what I'm saying. Is the cure in those crates in the catacombs?" she asked.

She saw his eyes light up but he didn't respond. Felicity sighed.

"Diggle come with me. Oliver can you manage to keep an eye on both of them and the cage of rats?" she asked.

Instead of answering her question, he asked one of his own. "Where are you going now?"

"For the cure," she said.

Ten minutes later she returned with Diggle and a crate of medicine. When Felicity threatened to burn the crate right there, Rathaway spilled everything.

The rats carried a disease that kills 90% of the people it bites. The medicinal herbs helped but didn't guarantee recovery. The earlier the medicine were administered the better the chances of survival. They were going to release the rats in a month. He provided them with the location of all the rat storage facilities on the continent. He didn't know the locations in England. The HIVE hierarchy managed that themselves.

"This sounds like the story of the Pied Piper!" Felicity said.

"The pied what?"

"Piper! You know the German town Hamelin that had the rat infestation. The rats brought diseases so they decided to hire the Pied Piper to lure the rats away. This is sort of similar except the Pied Piper is luring the rats back into the city," Felicity explained.

Felicity administered the correct dosage to Rathaway and left him with just enough to continue treatment should he survive the predicted length of the infection. Oliver stole the servant's carriage that carried goods to the kitchen and they filled it with the medicine crates, jewels and Franks. Their final act before they left was to burn all the rats and the birdhouse. Felicity felt bad about the birdhouse but Oliver was hoping to delay the delivery of the message about their whereabouts to the HIVE hierarchy.

S-12

An anonymous package was delivered to the Inspectors office in France with the missing jewels. Oliver trusted that the jewels would be returned to their rightful owners. It was reported in all the newspapers that a Good Samaritan had found and returned the missing property. He hoped that was a good sign. The newspaper also reported on the mysterious fire at the Chateau owned by Hartley Rathaway and that the nobleman had fallen mysteriously ill. The stolen carriage was not mentioned.

Oliver sought out a trusted contact in Paris that could relay information quickly. He needed to notify all of his contacts in Europe about the rats and their locations. He was hoping that all the warehouses containing the rats could be destroyed before the release date. If that didn't occur in time, Felicity had also written down the suggested treatment for persons infected with the disease.

They left Paris and started the trek north to Calais. In recent years the Port of Calais had been receiving some stiff competition from the ports in Boulogne and Dunkirk. He was hoping that would mean that Rathaway's men would be forced to split up to look for them. Along the route, his wife insisted that they stop at three different orphanages and donate the money she confiscated. She would not use their illicit funds to purchase anything for herself or their family. She was of the firm belief that it was blood money and it should be given away to a positive cause.

S-13

After a few more days of travelling, they were finally nearing the end of their journey. It was almost the beginning of February meaning they had missed Thea's birthday. Oliver hoped he wasn't returning to find his sister already engaged or married. They hadn't obtained much information about England but Gold did tell them where the pigeons were trained to fly to. They would start their search there.

They arrived in Calais under the cover of darkness, Oliver taking them straight to a small cottage where his friend was staying. Oliver's friend was not what Felicity expected, though she was glad that it wasn't another gorgeous woman. Instead, a tall slim man with strange hair, scruffy bread and a dark brown coat greeted them.

"Felicity and Diggle, this is Constantine. Constantine this is my wife, Felicity and my personal valet Diggle," Oliver said giving introductions.

"I heard you had gotten married again Oliver but If I realised your wife was this beautiful I would have stopped by for a visit," the man said

Her husband openly growled at him before pulling him away to discuss business. There was only one bed in the cottage and Felicity refused to kick Constantine out of his own bed so she set up sheets in a corner for her and Oliver. She set Diggle up in another corner.

The next morning, they all sat down for breakfast together. Constantine had disappeared soon after their arrival to make arrangements for their return to England. He had returned only minutes before breakfast was ready.

"Bad news Oliver, I can't get you back into England today."

"When can you get us?" Oliver asked breaking a loaf of bread in half an sharing it with his wife.

"In three days," Constantine said.

All of their eyes widened.

"We will have to wait," Oliver said.

"Try not to cause too much trouble then," Constantine advised.

Oliver snorted. He was not the trouble maker.

"You're not French," Felicity remarked to Constantine.

"No Welsh," Constantine revealed.

"Do you live in France permanently?" she asked curiously.

He laughed again, "I'm here to exorcise a particularly nasty demon."

Felicity's eyes opened wide but Constantine paid no attention to her reaction or Diggle's sceptical face. He instead turned to Oliver.

"This one's being quite difficult mate. Been stuck here two years. Every time I get close, it jumps to a new host. It's getting quite annoying now."

"I'm sure you'll get it soon after you've got us back to England," Oliver said.

S-14

Oliver declared that they should not leave the cottage in case Rathaway's spies had arrived and were looking for them. In theory it sounded ok but Felicity had started going stir crazy. The next day Oliver was surprised to find his wife with blonde hair, her usual dark locks gone.

"What happened to your hair?" he asked reaching out and twisting her now blonde locks around his finger. She was still very beautiful.

"I noticed that Constantine had black roots but tips of his hair were blonde," she said. "When I asked him about it he told me that he changes the colour of his hair so that demons don't recognise him," Felicity frowned as she mentioned demons. "I thought it might be a good idea to disguise my hair colour too so that I could get out of this cottage and take a look around."

Oliver picked up a nearby hat, "you're not going by yourself, my lady," he said very charmingly offering her his hand.

"I guess the black man gets stuck inside," Diggle deadpanned.

Felicity gave him an apologetic look.

"Don't feel guilty. I actually don't mind. I have a sneaking suspicion that as soon as we return to England I'm not going to be getting much rest."

S-15

Felicity and Oliver explored the city and port. The Place d'Armes was a bustling square with a few vendors who came twice a week. Oliver politely reminded his wife that they were low on funds regardless of how exquisite a scarf looked, no more purchases were to be made. There was also a Tour du Guet, a watch tower in the square that gave you a good view of the port. The day was very clear and Felicity looked longingly at the White Cliffs of Dover. The Église Notre-Dame was a cathedral built in the late 13th century. It was one of the most prominent landmarks in the city. Felicity noted that it followed the English perpendicular style. They overheard one piece of good news while walking through the dockyard, the Amazo had been sunk! Oliver was elated that his plan had worked. Felicity was more concerned about the condition of her boat and crew.

On their way back to the cottage Felicity decided to raise an issue that was bugging her.

"Is your friend sane?"

"Quite sane," Oliver replied.

"So he was joking about exorcisms?" she asked with a furrow in her brow.

"No he was serious," her husband told her.

"Certainly he doesn't believe that," she asked in disbelief.

"He does," Oliver verified for her.

"Do you?" she asked incredulously.

"All I can say is that I've seen some very strange things when he's around," Oliver said as he opened the door to the cottage and let his wife enter first.

"Define strange?" she asked him.

Before he could respond Constantine appeared from his bedroom with Diggle in tow. His valley was holding a host of items.

"There you are Oliver. I found it. I might need a little help. I'm borrowing your valet for a bit. Where did I leave that bloody peacock feather?" Constantine said in a rush as he looked around his cottage.

"You mean this peacock feather?" Felicity asked as she picked up the feather that was stationed near the entrance.

"Yes that one," he said taking the feather from her and using the sharp tip to scratch and itch on his back.

"Where are you going?" Felicity asked confused.

"To exorcise a demon!" Constantine said moving passed her to the entrance.

Felicity followed after him.

"Where are you going?" Oliver asked slightly panicked.

"You said he wasn't crazy. I want to see this for myself,"

Three hours later a stunned Diggle followed behind an exuberant Constantine into the cottage, Felicity and Oliver entering behind them.

"Did we just see that?" Diggle asked.

"Cheer up mate, your 2nd exorcism will be much better," Constantine said confidently.

S-16

As the White Cliffs of Dover drew closer and closer, Oliver was thankful they were almost home. As tough as his wife is, it had been a hard voyage and he was looking forward to spoiling her in England. At the top of his list, was breakfast in bed along with that tea. Besides that one slip in the inn after the storm, they had been very good. Of course that was assuming that he would be left alone long enough to enjoy time in bed with his wife. Tommy would have returned to England by now. He was ashamed to admit it, but he had forgotten about his friend's return until now. He would ask his parents to throw a ball at the Manor in his friend's honour. Having the support of the Queen family would be an ideal way to encourage Tommy's reintegration into the Ton.

He hadn't seen his son in more than two months now. He was sure he probably grew some more. He would have to take him out riding. Thea would probably want to join them as well. Felicity would be more than happy to stay behind after all of their recent adventures. His father would want to hold a meeting as soon as possible to discuss all that they had learned. His first day back was probably not going to be as peaceful as he hoped.

Chapter Text

It was night when Oliver set foot on English soil again. The familiar scent of London invaded his sense. It was good to finally be boat Constantine had sent them on had sailed up the Thames River landing near London. They walked to the nearest square and looked for a Hansom Cab. At that hour of night only Lord's conducting discreet business and criminals were around. Finding a cab would be difficult. Oliver kept his wife close to his side, Diggle flanked on her other side. After half an hour he spotted one. Oliver stopped the cab.

He and Diggle squeezed into the tiny cab. Felicity would have to sit on his lap. The kid in charge of the cab reminded him that he would not be responsible if she fell out. Oliver was sure that he could hold onto his wife securely and told the kid as was not concerned with the impropriety of his wife travelling in such a manor. They were dressed as servants. No Lord was going to scrutinise them long enough to realise they were Lord and Lady Queen in disguise. He wasn't willing to send Diggle ahead alone to fetch the carriage for them. They had been gone twice as long as what had been originally intended and it was imperative that they returned to the Manor as soon as possible.

"To Queen Manor," Oliver instructed the kid.

"Queen Manor?" the kid asked confused, "Are you sure you want to go there?"

"Yes," Oliver insisted his patience running out. He was almost home.

The kid looked them over carefully, "Can you pay?"

"Yes we can pay," Oliver answered exasperatedly giving the kid half the fare up front. In truth that was all of the money he had left. He would have to borrow from his father to pay the balance of the fare.

"Ok," the kid said taking off.

The ride was very bumpy as the kid urged the horse on to run as fast as that operated at that time of night were usually needed to make quick yelled to the kid to slow down but either he didn't hear him or paid him no heed. He held on to his wife as tight as possible but he was also afraid they might break a wheel. He knew she was praying to arrive at their destination in one piece.

When the entrance to Queen Manor came into sight Oliver relaxed a little bit until he realised that the kid wasn't slowing down. He yelled at the kid again to no avail. They took the turn almost at full speed the cart tilting on to its side pushing Oliver much closer to Diggle than he liked. Felicity held onto her husband for dare life and he was grateful that Diggle also used one of his hands to make sure his wife remained in the carriage with them. After they settled back on to ground Oliver was just about to turn around and give the kid a piece of his mind when his wife exhaled sharply and grabbed his hand. That was never a good sign. He turned to look at her but she was staring intently at a point in front of her.

He looked ahead of them at nothing. There seemed to be nothing there. It was only upon closer inspection that he realised that the Manor had blended into the background. Usually you could easily make out the outline of the building at night. When they arrived at the front entrance it became clear why the kid had been apprehensive about bringing them there.

"What happened to the Manor?" he demanded of the young boy.

"The fire. Everyone knows about the fire," the boy responded.

"Not everyone," Oliver snapped. If it weren't for his wife on his lap, he would have dismounted the cab and explored his home.

The boy physically flinched at his tone.

"Details now," Oliver dictated.

"There was a big fire. The Manor was destroyed," the kid said shrugging.

Oliver must have growled because the boy looked ready to run and his wife placed her hand gently on his forearm to calm him down. He let out a frustrated breath.

"Did the Queens survive?" Oliver asked, his voice laced with fear.

"Yeah everyone but the governess. The footman apparently did it. Some stable boy caughthimin the act and got everyone out. All those nobleman were there. They would have all died. It sure would have been a Christmas Ball to remember."

"This happened at Christmas!" Oliver exclaimed. His family had been without a home since Christmas.

"Do you know where the Queens went to?" his wife had the sense to ask kindly.

"Rumour is the recently returned Lord Merlyn offered them accommodation," the kid told them.

"Take us there," Oliver demanded.

"You sure you have funds to pay for this," the kid asked again.

"Absolutely positive," Oliver lied. He might have to borrow from Tommy to pay for the cab.

They set off towards Merlyn Estate. Not even the sound of the wheels of the carriage against the cobblestone driveway of Queen Mansion disturbed his thoughts. His wife affectionately rubbed his forearm. Usually it would calm him down but he didn't' think anything would. His house had burned and he wasn't there to protect his family. Instead he had been gallivanting across the seas on a personal vendetta against the man that tried to enslave him. He had failed his family.

The happiness he should have been feeling at the successful return of his best friend was greatly over shadowed by the most recent tragedy to strike his family. He had no idea what to expect. For over a month his family had been dealing with the loss of the Manor. While they were far from homeless, they did have many other properties to go to, the Manor was their home, the house they always came back to.

Merlyn Estate soon came into sight. Before the cab even stopped Oliver shifted Felicity into his seat and jumped out heading towards the front door, banging loudly. From his perspective, the Butler took forever to answer the door. As soon as it opened, he pushed passed the Butler and headed for the main staircase. He spent a portion of his childhood playing with Tommy both at Queen Manor and Merlyn Estate. As a result, he knew that house as well as his own. He was vaguely aware of the Butler following behind him, sprouting off about the rudeness of his action but he ignored him.

"Mother, Father, Thea, Tommy!" he yelled when he reached the top of the staircase.

The master bedroom was to the left. He would find Tommy and Laurel there. The guests would probably be on the corridor to the right so he went that way. Half way down the corridor a door opened and a blonde head popped out.

"Oliver?"

"Mother," Oliver said feeling relieved that he could physically confirm that she was alive.

In three strides he had reached her. She drew him into a fierce hug. "Oh my beautiful boy. They have returned you to me safe."

"We went to the Manor first," Oliver told her and his mother hugged him harder.

"Yes we have much to update you on son," Robert said coming up behind Moira.

They dispensed with the firm handshake and instead hug each other. He was relieved to see his father alive.

"Connor and Thea?" Oliver asked.

"With the racket you made I'm surprised Connor isn't awake. Thea is downstairs with Laurel. They were in the library reading when I left them. Where is Felicity?" Moira asked.

"Downstairs with Diggle. I might have left them with the cab fare to pay," Oliver admitted sheepishly. "Why are Laurel and Thea still awake?"

"Laurel couldn't sleep with Tommy gone and Thea was keeping her company," his mother said.

"Tommy's gone?" Oliver asked his stomach clenching painfully.

"Oh no I didn't mean dead," Moira said apologetically.

"He and Roy went out," Robert clarified side eyeing the butler standing off to the side, "Perhaps it's best if we catch up in the study," he suggested.

"Can I see Connor first?" Oliver asked.

"Go ahead, we just need to change. He's the next door over but don't wake him up. You two can catch up in the morning," Moira said.

Oliver nodded and moved towards the door. He opened it quietly and found his son sleeping soundly. The panic he had felt earlier recessed a bit. He still needed to see Thea though. Oliver closed the door softly and headed back towards the staircase. The Butler was giving him a filthy look. Oliver ignored him. He found Thea and Laurel speaking with Felicity at the front entrance. His wife did not look too please about something.

"What's wrong?" he asked her.

She plastered a smile on her face, "you forgot to pay the kid," she said chucking her finger in the direction of the driveway. Oliver could barely make out the shape of the cab leaving the Estate.

Oliver gave her a sheepish smile but he knew that wasn't the real problem.

"I gave the kid his fare," Laurel told him.

Robert and Moira soon joined them and they headed to the study. The Butler was encouraged to go to sleep. Oliver looked curiously at his sister's presence.

"I'm not going anywhere Ollie," Thea insisted. "My movements were restricted to the manor and guess what it burned down. I want to know what's going on."

Felicity turned to Oliver, "Tommy went to that location Gold told us about. It's apparently a warehouse."

"Tommy!" Oliver exclaimed, "That isn't safe."

"He's with Roy," Laurel informed him.

"What on earth was he thinking?" Oliver asked.

"He was thinking about his children Oliver. We are not going to sit back and let anything happen to them," Laurel said angrily crossing her hands over her chest.

"Diggle get two horses from the stables. We need to check on them immediately," Oliver ordered. Any weariness he had from his long voyage vanished instantly at the thought that his best friend might be in trouble.

"Oliver you just got back from a long journey," his mother said concerned to him.

"I'm fine. Based on the events that happened over the last few days I'm sure the men here noticed that the pigeon service was down. They are probably going to be extra vigilant. One false move could get them in trouble," Oliver expounded.

Felicity looked at Diggle enquiring if he was good to accompany him.

"I got plenty of rest in France. In fact, I might need the extra exercise. Our hosts in Marseille were very generous with their food and drink."

Felicity smiled. "While you guys are gone, I will fill them in on everything that we discovered."

Oliver nodded. He and Diggle making their way out of the study.

S-2

Oliver set a blistering pace on horseback. He couldn't believe how reckless Tommy had been. His friend had spent the past five years living a peaceful life in Scotland. Why on earth would he think he could step into this type of dangerous life easily? What made him even more upset was the fact that Laurel was ok with the decision. He understood that Roy accompanied Tommy but that didn't mean that it would keep him safe. Tommy would not listen to anything that Roy had to say and that was unacceptable. He prayed that they would find them hiding behind some bushes or behind another building.

When they arrived at the location they tied the horses up about a mile away. A perimeter survey around the warehouse revealed no one watching the warehouse. They did observe three guards circling the building.

"Maybe they left," Diggle suggested when they met back at the horses.

"They were supposed to watch all night until they were relieved. If they left, where are the men that replaced them?" Oliver pointed out to his valet.

"What do we do then?" Diggle asked sensing that he wasn't going to like the answer he received.

"We need to get into that warehouse," Oliver said looking in the direction of the warehouse. "The sun will be rising in half an hour. They would never expect us to make a move during the day."

Diggle sighed, "I guess that makes me the distraction."

Oliver nodded at his loyal friend.

Diggle gave Oliver a few minutes head start so that he could get into position. He decided he would pretend to be the usual ignorant black slave. Hardly anyone ever saw past the colour of his skin. They automatically assumed he wasn't capable of anything other than the most basic of tasks. It would not be hard to pretend that he was a new servant that got lost on his way back from the market with produce for his Lord's kitchen.

Oliver waited for the guards to converge on Diggle before he sprinted to the front door. The door was unlocked and he entered. The light from the sun revealed a very disturbing sight. Most of the crates were broken and rats were running around. Most of the rats were at the base of a hastily built tower of broken crates, trying to climb to the top where a distraught Tommy and Roy were trying to bat them away with pieces of 's stomach dropped.

The rats closest to him noticed him immediately and started approaching him. He was determined not to end up as rat food. Grabbing a piece of wood, he ripped some of the material off of his shirt and wrapped it around the wood. He then set it on fire. It would have been better if it had been dipped in some sort of accelerant first but it would have to do. He used that to ward the rats off.

Roy and Tommy were so focused on the rats they didn't realise that he was there. He couldn't call out to them as that would attract the guard's attention outside so he picked up a small piece of wood and threw it at Roy. The boy looked at him. He asked them to be silent.

"Jump," he mouthed to them.

Roy got Tommy's attention and told him to jump and run to Oliver. Tommy's face blanched. Oliver could see him tell Roy he wasn't jumping down there. An exasperated Roy ignored Tommy and prepared to jump. Tommy's arm grabbed a hold of him preventing him from leaving him. Oliver sighed angrily. They did not have all the time in the world and the longer Diggle distracted the guards, the more danger that put Diggle in.

Roy seemed to sense Oliver's frustration and he forcibly pushed Tommy off their tower, jumping down right behind him. He helped him up and they made a run towards Oliver, a line of rats scampering behind them. Oliver started setting fire to different things around him. Oliver used his torch to keep the rats back when Roy and Tommy ran passed him. He slowly made his way to the door, dropping the porch on the ground in front the door to prevent the rats from trying to escape outside as he shut the door.

"Follow me," Oliver said as he led them away from the warehouse towards the horses.

He was very relieved when he found Diggle waiting for him there.

"Stupid black servant at your service," he commented with a ridiculous bow.

"I'm sure you guys have your weird master and servant thing but can we please get out of here," Roy said.

"I whole heartedly second that," Tommy said.

S-3

Felicity had spent hours filling her in-laws in on their journey and the many discoveries that they made. They in turn recounted what had happened in England.

"So you mean that spear that was in the crate had been in your shoulder?" Thea asked squirming just thinking about it.

"Yes, was it destroyed in the fire?" Felicity asked sadly. She had discovered that a lot of her possessions were gone. Her clothes, trinkets from her travels and most importantly portraits of her family were all gone. The only remaining portrait of her parents would be the ones that were hung at Smoak Estate honouring the previous Lords of the estate.

"No, I had it stored in another house on the grounds," Robert said.

"When will you be rebuilding the Manor?" Felicity asked. "I assume you were insured with Lloyd's."

"Yes. I've had an architect draw up plans. They have to be approved and then we can start work. I'm hoping to start in the next two weeks."

The door to the stud swung open revealing her husband, his valet, his best friend and Roy.

"You're ok," Felicity sighed relieved. She quickly scanned her husband for inuries.

"I told you they would be ok," Laurel said feeling vindicated.

"We nearly weren't," Roy told them angrily.

"What happened?" Moira asked concerned.

"I sort of did something stupid," Tommy said rubbing the back of his head.

"Monumentally stupid," Roy added.

"What did you do?" Laurel asked her husband.

"He went into the warehouse," Oliver said.

"Tommy!" Laurel exclaimed. "Robert said you weren't to go into the warehouse just watch it. Why would you do that?"

"Because I wanted this whole thing to be over. I lost my entire family over this and I could lose you too," Tommy responded holding both his wife's hands tenderly in his.

"I want it to be over too but not at the cost of your life. I rather wait it out than lose you," she said squeezing his hand.

Thea slapped Roy on the arm, "Ow what was that for?"

"You were supposed to stop him," Thea said.

"I tried!" Roy responded.

"You didn't try hard enough," the young Queen stressed to him.

"This isn't fair. He comes back in one piece and I am the injured one but I get my head bitten off," Roy complained.

"You're hurt Roy?" Felicity asked concerned. Her eyes now scanning him looking for injuries..

"Just a rat bite," he replied nonchalantly.

Felicity's heart sank. She looked immediately to Oliver, "The medicine crates."

"I'll leave now," he responded walking to the door.

Felicity grabbed a pen and paper and wrote a note. She looked at Diggle, "Please take this immediately to Dr. Snow. Tell him its urgent."

She then looked to Roy, "We need to clean that wound immediately. Upstairs now," she said leaving no room for argument.

"Gosh you're looking at me like I have the plague or something," Roy mumbled as he ducked his head and sulked all the way up the stairs to the room that Felicity and Thea took him to.

S-4

Caitlyn had just finished breakfast when she recognised Oliver Queen's personal valet. He had just arrived with an urgent request for her father to come to Merlyn Estate. She was surprised to see him. She knew from Ronnie that Oliver Queen, his wife and valet were away. She immediately wondered if his lord or lady had been injured on the trip and required treatment. When her father rushed out of his office with his visiting bag, she decided to accompany her father to the Estate.

Felicity greeted them when they arrived at the estate. She escorted them upstairs to a room at the end of the corridor away from the main bedrooms. They opened the door to find Roy impatiently pacing the room. Thea Queen was seated on a stool her head turning from left to right and back as she watched him stalk through the room like a caged tiger.

"I don't need to be checked out!" he protested. "I feel fine."

"We are not taking any chances Roy," Felicity said.

"What is the matter?" her father asked.

"Roy was bitten by a rat we believe was carrying a deadly disease," Felicity explained calmly going on to detail the description of the disease that they learned about when they were in France.

Caitlyn was very intrigued by the information that Felicity relayed to them.

"It is a known fact that the rats and other animals can carry diseases but to specifically breed a rat to carry a deadly disease to humans has been unheard of," her father said."Sit down Mr. Harper. I would like to inspect the wound."

"Seriously! It was just a rat. I lived on the streets with them. I've survived bites before," Roy said irritated at the fuss that was being generated over the bite.

"But those rats may not have been as dangerous as this one," Felicity countered.

"The bite please Mr. Harper," Dr. Snow repeated.

Roy grumbled.

"Show him the damn thing now Roy!" Thea shouted having enough of the stable boy's disregard for the seriousness of the situation.

Everyone stared in shock at the young girl.

"What?" she asked innocently.

Dr. Snow turned back to Roy who sat at the edge of the bed and pulled up his pants leg to reveal the bite. Caitlyn flinched. It was the worst bite she had even seen. A quick review of his vitals showed that he was healthy and fine at the moment but that didn't mean anything. If the disease was as they described it could have an incubation period.

"If he is infected it's going to incubate for a while," her father said. He examined the medicine that Felicity had given him, "I recognise some of these herbs. Quite a few of these went missing earlier this year. I guess we now know why they were stolen. I don't see any harm in him taking these. I recommend that Roy not do anything for the next week or so as a precaution in case you are infected. If this is as virulent as the source in France indicated you will need your strength to fight this thing. Notify me as soon as possible if he starts to show signs of sickness."

"Is the rat still alive?" Caitlyn asked curiously.

"I believe my husband burned them all," Felicity said.

Caitlyn pursed her lips.

"Why?"

"Because if the disease affects the rat as well, we could possibly gauge the effects of the disease so that we will know what we are dealing with," she said.

"It's too late for that now," Thea said.

Caitlyn and her father soon said goodbye. She was hoping to hear about Egypt and the Allens from Felicity but her father said it was time for them to go. She could catch up another time. She had been expecting them to head back to their home but instead they arrived at Barrister's Stein Office. She knew the office well as she had been spending quite a bit of time with Ronnie lately. Her friend had been expecting her father but not her.

"Caitlyn!" he said surprised.

"I believe my daughter should be included in the business which you wish to discuss," Dr Snow said.

Ronnie appeared very flustered by this revelation. Whatever he wished to speak to her father about he had wanted to do it in private. She felt a bit miffed that appeared that Ronnie was keeping secrets from her.

Ronnie led them to his office and invited both of them to sit. He sat down at stared at them. Her father cleared his throat encouraging Ronnie to talk.

"Dr. Snow as you know I have a growing practice as a barrister. I've recently joined with an esteemed colleague and we formed our own chambers. My future is very secure. I feel, no, I know that I will be a good provider," he said his eyes flicking to hers before finding her father's again.

"Dr. Snow, I would like to ask for you daughters hand in marriage?" Ronnie said maintaining eye contact with her father.

Her heart stopped beating in her chest for a few seconds. Ronnie was asking for her father's permission to marry her. Ronnie wanted to marry her! Her head snapped to her father to see his response.

"Mr. Raymond, everything you said may be true but it doesn't negate that fact that some of your clients are involved in dangerous adventures. The first time we met you, you were near death. I had to treat both you andRoy Harper for wounds. I had to review Mr. Harper this morning again because he was bitten by a rat that is suspectedto carry some mysterious disease extremely deadly to humans. I do not wish for my daughter to be involved in this but she is as headstrong as Felicity Queen. Something tells me she wishes for me to say yes," he said looking at his daughter.

"Yes," Caitlyn said eagerly.

Her father sighed deeply. "I had wanted you to marry another doctor. I suppose I shouldn't feel too bad that we now have a lawyer in the family."

Caitlyn had always been a reserved girl but at that moment, she squealed with happiness hugging her father in delight before reaching for her newly minted fiancé.

S-5

It was Diggle's first night back. He was unfamiliar with Merlyn Estate and it took him a while to figure out that staff ate in a small kitchen attached to their quarters which wasn't in the main building. He didn't like that because it kept him away from Oliver. He noticed that Walter and Lyla occupied a space at the end of the table and the other servants paid them no attention. He realised that the segregation continued. Walter had welcomed him back earlier in the day but he had not seen Lyla. He thought perhaps she had stayed behind with the other servants at the Manor.

"It's great to have you back," she said before her eyebrows furrowed, "Is Diggle your first name?"

"No," he replied

"What is it?" she asked curiously.

"My real name is difficult to pronounce but you can call me John," Diggle said.

"I would like to know your real name," Lyla said.

"One day," he said.

"I'll hold you to that. It's good to have you back John," she said with a warm spine that made his insides tingle. That was something new.

"It's good to be back," he said reaching for a bowl of mashed potatoes.

Lyla's hand shot out and stopped him.

"Don't. The cook here isn't as good as Raisa and there are certain foods that should be avoided. That has lumps the size of your fist in it. Stick to the Cornish hen and some vegetables," she told him earnestly.

He nodded his head. "Thanks you for the warning." His attention was drawn to his hand where Lyla's smaller very white hand was still firmly attached to his. The contrast in skin colour was blatantly obvious. He thought it was the first time a white woman had ever touched him. He should be withdrawing from the contact but he found he rather liked her touch. Lyla seemed to remember she was still holding his hand and withdrew her hand slowly away.

"Sorry," she said ducking her head. Diggle hoped that the red he thought he saw on her cheeks was a blush.

"You don't ever have to apologise for giving me good advice," Diggle said.

Lyla lifted her head to smile at him. It was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. How men could think she was plain and unattractive was beyond him. She was the most amazing person he had ever met.

"This may sound strange John, but I missed you," Lyla admitted.

The statement warmed him. He hadn't expected anyone besides Walter to miss him. He had always thought the other staff wouldn't care if he disappeared one day. It was nice to know that someone noticed his absence.

"I missed you too. It would have been great to have someone else to help babysit those lovebirds," Diggle said reaching for a Cornish hen.

Lyla laughed, "They couldn't have been that bad."

Diggle shook his head in disagreement, "They were. I bet you everything I own that the moment dinner's over, they are going to retire to their room."

"I'm not taking that bet," Lyla said remembering the lovely bath she drew for Felicity right before dinner. Her mistress certainly seemed eager for the night to come.

As Lyla started to fill him in on everything he had missed while away, Diggle found that he had indeed missed her presence very much.

S-6

With Oliver and Felicity retiring early for the night,that left Tommy with Robert Queen to review the day's events.

"Why didn't you tell Felicity about her uncle?" Tommy asked as he remembered that Robert had left that detail out when he briefed Felicity earlier in the day.

"Because he is her uncle," Robert stated plainly.

"You don't trust her?" Tommy questioned.

"Quite the contrary, she's probably the person that I trust the most. Her views and logic haven't failed us yet."

"Then why not tell her?" Tommy asked. He couldn't understand why he left out that important detail.

"Because I believe that specific piece of information should be delivered by someone closer to her, someone that can soften the blow. Whereas Oliver suspected Damian for a while, Felicity thought her uncle was innocent. It's hard to discover that someone you've known your entire life isn't the person you thought they were."

"You want Oliver to tell her," Tommy surmised.

"Yes, I spoke with him earlier today. He should be telling her tonight but enough of that. We need to discuss your recklessness last night. I will not tolerate another episode like that," Robert said firmly.

"I know. I promise it won't happen again," Tommy said placing a hand over his heart.

Robert shook his head, "you will not be going out like that again. We need people with clear heads and the ability to work in a team. Roy said he tried to hold you back but you didn't listen."

"So I have to sit here and do nothing!" Tommy yelled angrily.

"Your presence here is very important. You have two young children that you need to take care. Don't put Laurel through the ordeal of having to raise them alone. I'm sure she's been through enough. Besides there are other ways that you can help."

Tommy abruptly stood, "Good night Lord Queen, I think my wife is calling me."

Tommy marched angrily up the stairs to the master bedroom. There he found his wife nursing their baby girl.

"Tommy!" she said surprised as she started to cover up, "I wasn't expecting you up early."

"I can go back downstairs," Tommy said.

"No, we're done. I just have to rock her a bit and make sure she doesn't have any gas," Laurel said.

Tommy walked over and picked his daughter up from his wife's arms and gently bounced her in his arms. He had almost died today. His daughter's hazel eyes looked up at him. She gave him a big smile before her eyes started to droop. He knew he wouldn't let anyone hurt her. If he had to get into a fight to save his daughter he would, regardless of what the others thought of his fighting ability.

S-7

After christening their temporary bedroom, Felicity snuggled closer to her husband. To her surprise he felt very tense.

"I must have done something wrong tonight. Usually you're much more relaxed than this," she quipped.

"You did nothing wrong love," Oliver assured her dropped in a kiss on her forehead.

"Then what has you so tense Oliver. I can't be a good partner if I don't know what is bothering you."

"My father told me about something that happened while I was gone," Oliver started to explain to her. "He didn't tell you all of the details. He wanted me to tell you."

"This sounds bad Oliver," Felicity said.

"Remember when I was warning you about your uncle,"

She remembered clearly. She nodded to let him know she understood what he was talking about.

"He came to the Manor and threatened Thea's life just before the fire broke out. They saw him plotting with Eiling and Schrieve. He is very much a part of HIVE. My father thinks he might be the mastermind behind it all."

"No," was Felicity's initial response.

"Roy and Ronnie were there as well. They can verify it for you. Get some sleep. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow."

Despite her husband's warm embrace, sleep eluded her that night.

S-8

Lord Queen arrived outside the Lance Residence. When he was younger he would visit the residence quite frequently to court Laurel. Tommy accompanied him several times. The three of them had become quite comfortable with each other. Even though he was courting Laurel, he still had eyes for many of the ladies in the Ton. He hadn't even noticed when Laurel developed feelings for Tommy. His purpose for his visit today didn't concern Laurel had heard things between her father and herself were tense.

His business today concerned Sara. He patted his left breast pocket. The letter Sara had given him was still there. He intended to personally deliver the letter and ensure him that his daughter was safe and happy. Mrs. Lance answered the door and happily greeted him.

"Lord Queen to what do I owe this pleasure?" Dinah Lance asked with a small curtsey.

"I bring news from Sara. I wish to speak with both of you," he told her.

Mrs. Lance eagerly escorted him to their parlour room for him to wait while she fetched her husband. A portrait of the family hung on the wall. Oliver guessed it was painted shortly before Laurel left. The family looked happy. One bad decision by Malcolm Merlyn had ruined three families.

Lance swept into the room."My wife tells me you have word from Sara."

"Yes," Oliver said handing him the letter.

Lance accepted the letter, tearing it open and reading it quickly. Oliver saw a frown line form on his face. It was similar to the line that formed when Oliver was caught with Laurel in inappropriate places.

"What is it Quentin?" Mrs. Lance asked.

"This says she's not coming home!" he said flinging the letter aside.

Mrs. Lance rushed anxiously to the letter to read it.

"She's happy sir," Oliver told him.

"How can she be happy if she is not home. She should be here in England not off in some foreign country living by some ridiculous customs," he shouted angrily.

"I can only convey what Sara told me but I saw her with my own eyes and she is happy," Oliver reiterated.

"Forgive me Lord Queen but I would prefer to lay my own eyes on her. Is there any other business you wished to discuss," Quentin asked.

"No I'll be on my way now," Oliver said taking the hint to leave.

S-9

While her husband set about on his errand, Felicity accompanied her father-in-law to the remains of the Manor. She had only seen the building at night and needed to see it during the day so that she could truly assess the damage. They met with the servants that were accommodated in other houses on the grounds. They were all well. Priya and Anaya told her that her baklava was safe and they would send it across to Merlyn Estate for her.

Felicity walked through the charred halls of the Manor. Quite a few walls had crumbled. There was a massive beam from the roof on the bed she shared with Oliver. It was a sad sight. She had only spent a few months there but it still hurt her to see the house in this condition. She could only imagine how Robert, who had lived there his entire life felt. Her father-in-law's voice calling out to her reminded her that she wasn't allowed to spend too long inside the manor. She made her way quickly outside where he was going through the plans to rebuild the manor with the builders.

She looked at the news plans for the building. "You're making the cellar bigger?" she asked.

"Yes your husband is under the impression that we require a larger wine cellar," an amused Robert told her.

Felicity rolled her eyes. Oliver always made good on his promises to her. "My husband is sorely mistaken."

"I'm not so sure about that. I visited the Smoak East India officers yesterday and I could barely manoeuvre through your office because of the several stacks of crates as tall as the ceiling that I'm told are filled with wine for you," Robert commented.

"Oh it's here already! I wasn't expecting it for another day or two. The ship must have had a nice tail wind," Felicity said enthusiastically.

Robert laughed. He was definitely expanding the cellar for his daughter-in-law.

S-10

Felicity stared out the side of the carriage at the English countryside. She insisted that she needed to go see the Al Sa-her. She had seen the list of damages that Ray reported and it hurt to know one of her precious boats was in that condition. Oliver accompanied her on the journey down to the ship yard.

She found her boat on the dry dock, a large hole in the hull just above the water line. She briefly registered the pad of her husband's thumb as he brushed a stray tear away from her cheek. Ray met them by the boat and they went through the list of damages and the work he planned to do. He soon invited them to his house for lunch. He wanted to introduce them to his son.

"Ray thank you for inviting us," Felicity said as they toasted with wine before lunch.

"You are always welcome, you're husband I'm still upset with," Ray commented.

"What did I do?" Oliver asked confused.

"You sent my ship into battle, my work of art that came back in pieces. That was not what it was designed for!" Ray revealed.

Oliver snorted, "The boat did not come back in pieces and what makes you think I am solely responsible for that?"

"Felicity would never disrespect my ships like that," he told him seriously.

"They are MY ships now," Felicity reminded him.

"You can't tell me you agreed with him?" Ray asked in disbelief.

"The Amazo needed to be stopped and it was targeting us. There was nowhere to go but through the Amazo. It was our responsibility to deal with it and we did. The seas are now a safer place because we took action," Felicity said passionately.

"Before this argument gets out of hand, let me introduce to the real reason Ray invited you over," Anna said getting up from the table. She returned a few minutes later with a plump bald baby dressed as a sailor. "This is Adam Palmer."

"Oh Anna he is so cute!" Felicity exclaimed willing offering to hold him.

"He's almost two months now and he's growing so fast," Anna gushed.

Felicity took the boy in her arms automatically bouncing him. Since her first experience with Rebecca she found she had become quite comfortable holding babies. She glanced at her husband to see him smiling proudly at her.

S-11

Despite Palmer's irritating behaviour Oliver had enjoyed lunch very much. Anna was quite the counter balance to her husband. She reined him in very easily. It was fun to watch the man swallow his ego and listen to his wife. What really entertained him though was watching Felicity hold Adam. It stirred something in him that he had never felt before. He glanced at his still blonde wife. Her hair had been quite a hit with Thea. She was leaning against him in the carriage.

"You're good with children. You'll make an excellent mother," Oliver commented.

"Not really," Felicity replied.

"I disagree. Conor adores you. He calls you his mother," Oliver pointed out.

She smiled fondly, "I adore him as well."

"When this is over I would like for us to consider giving him a brother,"

"A brother?" Felicity said cocking her head to the side cutely as she looked up at him, "Not a sister?"

"A boy first and then a girl," Oliver replied.

"More than one child?" Felicity said feigning surprise.

"At least two, after that it's up to you?" Oliver smiled.

"You have a lot of demands Mr. Queen," she teased.

"Nothing unreasonable," he told her.

"Can I think about it?" she asked seriously.

"Of course," he said kissing her forehead.

S-12

Felicity never imagined that her first week back from their trip would have been so tough. She needed a little reprieve and decided to play with Connor and James. The boys were inseparable. She was glad that Connor had a play mate and a co-conspirator for some of the shenanigans she heard that the boys got up to. With her they were little angels but the stories she overheard while the servants cleaned, painted the boys as Satan's children. Even though they were outside, she was astutely aware of Diggle a few yards away trying to be inconspicuous by pulling out weeds. She knew her husband ordered him to keep an eye on them while they were outside.

Things inside the house were tense. Roy had come down with a very high fever two days ago. This morning he slipped into unconsciousness. It was obvious he had been infected and the disease had taken hold of him. News also came the previous day that one of the Queen's ships had been officially declared lost at sea. That was a painful blow. Yes the ship was insured but the loss of life weighed on all of their shoulders. It reminded her of a summer she had spent with her grandfather. A very good friend of his had been on a ship that had been declared lost at sea. It was a very sad time.

The thing that had been weighing most on her though was her uncle. It was hard to believe she was related to the man who had conceived this plot, the possible head of Hive, Damian Smoak. She shared blood with him. He was her great uncle. If he was capable of such great evil, did that also mean that she was as well? When she got older would she start plotting to ruin the world? Were the Smoak's cursed? Those were questions she was grappling with.

S-13

Thea sat by Roy's bedside, her gloved hand holding his. Dr. Snow didn't know how contagious Roy would be so he insisted every precaution be taken. There were strict rules in place. Anyone in contact with Roy was not to come in contact with anyone else, particularly the children. His room was isolated from everyone. Only Thea, Dr. Snow and one maid entered. Thea had effectively isolated herself from the family but she felt Roy was worth it.

He was still unconscious. She kept a wet cloth on his forehead to keep the fever down. She took his vitals as Dr. Snow instructed and she recorded it. His heartbeat was strong. That was a good sign. His body was fighting the disease. Every four hours she would tilt his head up and feed him three tablespoons of soup. The medicine was in the soup.

Dr. Snow was positive that as Roy was a former street boy he would already have a very strong immune system accustomed to fighting off diseases. He had seen a simple cold kill a Lord but not even cause a sniffle to a street child. He was confident that Roy would survive but it would be a while before he was back to normal.

In the quiet periods, Thea developed reading and writing lessons for Roy. He was going to be spending a lot of time in bed, he may as well exercise his brain. Thea knew very little of what was going on outside of the isolation area. Every day when food and drinks were placed outside their door, a note was left by Felicity to keep her up to date. She appreciated her sister-in-law's efforts.

She found herself playing with the little wooden horse pendant she had. Roy had given it to her as a thank you gift for not giving up on him. It was a simple gift but it was more important to her than any of the other jewels her family owned. This year was a far cry from what she imagined for herself. Her 18th birthday was supposed to be a grand affair. She hadn't even celebrated it. There were more important matters to deal with at the moment and keeping up appearances with the Ton was the last thing on her mind.

S-14

Sara and Nyssa were having tea in one of the Bedouin tents when a messenger arrived bearing news. Sara was handed a letter that had been sent to her by Nyssa's father. Sarab had apprehended the Englishman that had warned the Russian. His name was Brian Larvan, his wife Beatrice had an unhealthy obsession with Bees. They had interrogated them and the information they discovered disturbed her. Her friends were in grave danger. She needed to leave for England. If she remembered correctly the Flash was on its way back to Egypt. If she left now, she should be able to catch them on the transfer.

Sara ran back to her tent and quickly packed her things. She was thankful she had been taught to travel light. It made quick retreats easier. She mounted her horse and set off for Egypt.

Chapter Text

Damian Smoak walked into the small cottage and sneered at the layer of dust on the furniture. He had travelled a great distance to meet them in this tiny house in Liverpool. He was not pleased with the loss of the warehouse in London. It meant that Oliver Queen was getting far closer to putting a permanent dent in his plans and that was unacceptable. Deciding that all of the seating options were subpar, Damian decided to stand by the small fireplace and wait. The assorted pokers there might come in handy later. The men he was supposed to meet with walked in ten minutes later.

"Can someone explain to me how Oliver Queen found the warehouse and set in on fire?" Damian asked his co-conspirators. They were both competent Admirals. They should have been able to execute the plan flawlessly. He decided to pick up the poker with the sharpest point and examine it.

"That warehouse was not my responsibility," Admiral Schrieve responded his focus on the sharp pointy object in Damian's hand.

"It is one loss. We have many other warehouses," Admiral Eiling stated throwing a quick glare at his fellow Admiral who was throwing him to the wolves.

"London is the most populous city in England. That was why that warehouse had a larger collection of rats than the others. We are going to have to remove a small percentage of rats from the other warehouses and take them to a new location in London. Are either of you volunteering to do that?" he asked angrily pointing the poker at them.

Both men were silent. There focus entirely on the deadly instrument in Damian's hands.

"I suggest that neither of you disappoint me again. I will be retiring to Stonehaven. If I need you I will contact you." He put the poker back in its place and left the small cottage. Both men knew what was required of them and they knew what would happen if they failed him again.

S-2

Quentin Lance grudgingly set foot onto Merlyn Estate. He had not been there since the night of his daughter's disappearance. He had managed to hold out quite long on Laurel's invitation for him to come to dinner but his wife was threatening to deprive him of his grandchildren. Dinah had been very sneaky. She had been bringing their grandchildren to their home every day. It had started out as a quick visit but then James and Rebecca started staying for longer periods of time. Before he had even realised what he was doing, he ended up on the floor in the study playing with his grandson. He had even started singing the same lullaby that he used to sing to Laurel and Sara every night to Rebecca. His granddaughter was very much a Lance girl. Without meaning too, he had formed a strong bond with his grandchildren, preferring to stay home and interact with them rather than visit the tavern. It was only when his wife informed him that their grandchildren would not be visiting again because a governess had been found for them and that if he wanted to see them he would have to go to Merlyn Estate, that he realised he had been outsmarted by the women in his life.

He grumbled all the way up the entranceway to the grand doors of Merlyn Estate. His wife squeezed his hand for support. When the carriage stopped, he got out first before helping his wife out. By the time he turned around to face the door again, Laurel was at the entrance with Rebecca in her hands. His granddaughter's face lit up when she saw him and immediately she tried to reach for him, kicking her mother in the process.

"My darling baby girl," Quentin said going to his granddaughter and ignoring his daughter. She giggled when he started bouncing her. "I know you've missed me. I've missed you too. These wretched people are conspiring against us but don't worry. I have a plan," he whispered in her ear.

"Someone's become quite attached," Laurel stated smugly.

"Good evening Lady Merlyn," he said in a neutral tone to her before turning back to his smiling granddaughter.

Laurel frowned, "Please drop the formalities father. James and Rebecca have been looking forward to your visit," she said. She observed the package in her mother's hands.

He cleared his throat, "I purchased a new dress for Rebecca since I heard she dirtied hers. I also purchased a new jacket for James."

Laurel smiled gratefully, "Thank you very much. They will love it. Now please come in."

"I am fairly sure that the Butler is supposed to answer the door and invite me in," he commented to his daughter as he passed her and entered the main house.

"I am fairly sure that as Lady of the house, I can reassign the butler to do whatever I want," she told him as she closed the door behind them.

"I was always under the impression that it was supposed to be the Lord that told his butler what to do," her father countered following her down a dimly lit corridor.

His daughter made some sort of disbelieving sound before opening the door to the dining room. The Queens were already seated around the table minus their daughter Thea Queen.

"Please take a seat at the table. I believe you remember Lord Queen and his family," Laurel said as she reached to take Rebecca back but Quentin pulled away from her walking to his chair. He nodded his head towards Robert while he used his free hand to pull one chair out for his wife.

"You seem quite attached to your granddaughter," Moira commented.

"I never had any male heirs Lady Queen. I learned to appreciate my daughters the hard way," Quentin said bouncing his granddaughter on his lap.

"They are adorable when they are that age," Robert commented.

"Yes," Quentin agreed. "No rude comments or disgraceful behaviour."

Soon the servants brought geese, pudding and a variety of other foods to the table. The governess appeared and Quentin reluctantly let go of Rebecca. The conversation was very light, mainly revolving around Connor's and James's latest plots to avoid lessons. The boys were quite creative and Robert reminded Oliver and Tommy that they had done similar things when they were that age.

After dinner, Quentin was invited to join the men in the study. His initial reaction was to refuse but his wife insisted that it was important that he learned to get along with his son-in-law. That was how he found himself staring stiffly at a portrait of the late Malcolm Merlyn.

"I should have that portrait taken down. That man ruined our family," Tommy said bitterly as he stood next to Quentin.

"It's not polite to speak ill of the dead," Quentin said.

Tommy snorted.

Oliver sighed, "You read the letter Lord Lance. You know that Malcolm Merlyn was implicated in the plot described by Slade Wilson. Everything that has happened to the Queens and Merlyns can be directly traced back to Malcolm's decision to join HIVE."

"The Chief Inspector investigated the claims Slade Wilson made about an organisation called HIVE but found no supporting evidence. There was no connection between any of the men listed in his letter."

"You didn't look hard enough. Damian Smoak is the man in charge and Admirals Schrieve and Eiling work for him," Tommy said. "I was nearly killed a few days ago and Roy is fighting for his life upstairs because he was bitten by a rat. These men need to be brought to justice."

"If you know so much Lord Merlyn, where is the evidence to support all of your claims? Can you prove their treason?" Lance asked calmly.

Tommy deflated, "No."

"Then the Chief Inspector can do nothing," Quentin said. "Your name may have been recently cleared Lord Merlyn but it no longer holds the weight it once held. Even the Queen family is now viewed as cursed."

S-3

Curtis Holt stared at the list of transactions in front of him. Usually he relished working with numbers but today it was the last thing he wanted to do. Paul had officially begun to court the daughter of a baker. She was young and pretty and believed in love. It was obviously her first courtship. When she looked at Paul, Curtis swore he saw hearts in her eyes. He wondered if perhaps he had similar eyes when he looked at Paul too. Their love was a forbidden love, a love that would have them both thrown in jail and the Holt name dishonoured. He knew that to keep up appearances, at least one of them needed to marry. It was the norm in their underground circle but it hurt Curtis to think of Paul married to someone.

He knew it would also be hard on Paul, as he would have to pretend to love his wife. At some point they would not only have to consummate their marriage but she would have to bear children. He couldn't stand the thought of Paul being intimate with someone else.

He also knew that even though it would be difficult for them, it would be hardest on Paul's wife. She would be entering a marriage with a man who was incapable of loving her the way she imagined. She could end up a bitter woman who, if she ever discovered their secret, might have them thrown in jail regardless of the damage to her own reputation. He had seen it happen before to another couple in their circle. They were betrayed by a wife who had discovered their escapades.

The door to the office opened and Paul entered, he was returning from a visit to the bakery. Curtis scoffed when he saw him.

"Curtis you know I have to do this for our protection," Paul said with an apologetic tone.

"At least have the courtesy to wipe the paint left by her lips off your face first," Curtis said bitterly. The poor girl had probably made her own lip paint to impress Paul or sourced some from a maid of a wealthy family. What was she doing kissing Paul anyway? They weren't married yet.

Paul pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his face.

"You missed it," Curtis commented to Paul and he tried again. "Come here you rake," Curtis said grabbing the handkerchief from Paul's hand and carefully removed the offending mark.

He wondered how many times in the future he was going to have to do this.

"I truly am sorry," Paul said softly and Curtis knew he meant it.

"I know," Curtis responded resting his forehead against Paul's.

They let themselves get carried away in the moment. He didn't know how much time had passed but he did know that both of their pants were down when a scream was heard at the door. They both looked up to see Lady Felicity Queen with a very shocked expression on her face. She closed the door. They both knew that wasn't good and they needed to get to her and convince her she was mistaken about what she thought she saw before she told anyone. They fixed themselves quickly and opened the door to chase after her but she hadn't moved an inch. She was standing there with her eyes shut tightly.

"Is it ok to open my eyes now?" she asked innocently.

"Yes Lady Queen," Paul said apprehensively as he glanced at Curtis unsure how to proceed.

Just then her husband's personal valet came running in, "I heard a scream my Lady. Are you ok?" he said his eyes surveying the scene in front of him. His eyes landed on Curtis and Paul. Curtis thought he saw a hint of suspicion in the valet's eyes.

"I am fine Diggle. You may return to the horses. I will be out shortly," Diggle took one last survey of the area before reluctantly leaving.

Lady Queen didn't wait for an invitation and stepped into the office with them. They were about to speak when she held up her hand to stop them.

"I am going to try very hard to forget what I just saw," she told them squeezing her eyes shut again as if that would erase the memory permanently.

"You're not going to report us?" Paul asked hesitantly.

"I don't think myself capable of putting into words what I just saw. You're both adults, how you choose to seek pleasure is your business. I am here to seek an update on the task Ronnie assigned to you," she said to them opening her eyes to look at them. Her clear blue eyes held not mint of malice towards them.

Curtis looked at Paul. He couldn't believe she would let them off the hook that easily.

"My update gentlemen?" Felicity prodded impatiently.

"Yes Lady Queen, at first everything seemed normal; there were no unusual transfers or large sums of money missing from either estate. Everything seemed legal but then I decided to approach things from a different angle. We spent a few nights burning the midnight oil at the land office and company registry but we tracked the owner of the warehouse and Admirals Eiling and Schrieve to a shipping company called Tempest."

"Like Shakespeare?" Felicity commented.

"Yes," Paul replied.

"We were then able to trace dealings between Tempest and all of the identified members of HIVE except your uncle Damian Smoak. There is nothing connected to him in any of the accounts. We were able to find locations for what we believe might be other warehouses that were used by HIVE to further their plans," Curtis explained.

"Can we submit this as evidence of the plot Slade Wilson spoke about in his letter to the Chief Inspector?" Felicity asked.

"I could summarise the transactions and pull out all the locations. I suppose a search of the warehouses would reveal the stockpile of ammunitions required to overthrow the crown and prove Mr. Wilson right," Curtis said.

"Yes we finally have proof," Felicity squealed with a fist pump before she broke out into happy laughter. They were finally getting somewhere. The end was in sight. "What is the soonest possible time you can prepare it for me?"

"We should be able to summarise all the transactions and explain the Tempest link between all the parties in about a week," Paul said.

"Excellent," Felicity said as the door banged open and Diggle entered with his pistol drawn, Curtis and Paul both jumping back.

"I heard noises," he said as an explanation for why he had barged in.

Lady Queen rolled her eyes, a very un-lady like thing to do, Curtis noted.

"Everything is ok, we found our evidence. Go ready the horses, I will be down in a few minutes," she said excitedly.

Diggle again surveyed both men before nodding and exiting the room.

"Don't mind Mr. Diggle. My husband has drilled the idea that I'm some fragile precious jewel that needs to be kept safe at all times into his head. It can be quite suffocating sometimes but I know he means well," Felicity said offhandedly. "Good evening Gentlemen, I look forward to your report in a week."

"Good evening Lady Queen," they both responded.

Curtis and Paul both looked at each other. "Next time lock the bloody door!"

S-4

Caitlyn Snow felt like she had been floating through the last few weeks. She was still in shock that Ronnie had asked her to be his wife. Soon she was going to be a married woman with the responsibility of taking care of her husband and bearing children. She flushed when she thought of the bearing children part. She would have to be intimate with Ronnie. A few of her previous suitors had called her frosty. They thought she would lack passion in the bedroom but Caitlyn realised it was just her previous suitors didn't inspire any passion in her. She didn't think she had that problem with Ronnie. He was like a burning fire, she couldn't help but be warmed by him.

Her mother was driving her crazy with the wedding plans. She also had to sit and listen to her parents debate the cost of the wedding since as the bride it was her side's responsibility to foot the cost. Her mother felt that since Caitlyn was the only girl, they could splurge and have a bigger wedding. Her father only wanted to pay for a wedding that had 50 guests which equated to a family only wedding. Ronnie wanted to invite a few of his work colleagues and Caitlyn wanted to invite Felicity. She was the reason they met. She was also her fiancé's benefactor. Ronnie was loath to think about what would have happened if Felicity never offered him that office. Her father was very hesitant to have a Queen anywhere near the wedding with the recent bad luck that family had been having.

Ronnie though, had been very jovial lately. She took it as a good sign. He himself said that the bad luck the Queens and Merlyns had recently encountered would be coming to an end in a few days and they would soon be back on top the social standing in the Ton. She didn't ask him how he knew that. She never questioned him about his work or his clients. Her fiancé took his work as a barrister seriously and he appreciated that she respected his professional relationship with his clients.

There was one thing they needed to work out though. She enjoyed medicine but she couldn't see patients on her own, only accompany her father or her brothers. She wanted to still have that freedom. She didn't think Ronnie would stop her, it was what initially brought them together but the logistics of continuing her medical work might prove a little challenging. Roy's case had fascinated her and it inspired her to look for better treatments for persons with influenza type diseases. She had a lot of ideas to address the issue. During her next visit to Roy she would talk to Felicity about managing a house and maintaining her work with her family.

S-5

His eyes slowly fluttered open but the light in the room seemed too bright. He groaned and shut his eyes. His head ache, his body ache, his mouth was extremely dry and every breath felt like it was setting his rib cage on fire. He tried to pinpoint his last memory but his mind was in a haze.

"Roy," a desperate voice that he recognised as Lady Thea said from his bedside.

He tried to ask her why she was harassing him but a gruff grating sound came out of his mouth. It sounded like he hadn't spoken in a long time.

"Roy," she called again. This time someone was also squeezing his hand really hard.

He really wanted to tell her to go bother another stable hand. He didn't feel the least bit ready to deal with her stubborn horse.

"My Lady, I think he needs some water," a voice he didn't recognise suggested.

He thought water was a good idea but he didn't feel like sitting up. He felt hands being placed under him to raise him up. He instinctively tried to pull away from the hands and Lady Thea told him to calm down. He slowly opened his eyes to see Lady Thea looking at him apprehensively. His brain was still very fuzzy so he couldn't really remember what he had done lately to get him in trouble with her. He had learned his ABCs though he had confused M with N one day and she had hit him with her umbrella. Maybe he did the same thing and she hit him hard enough to knock him out. For a small lady she was quite strong.

Her left hand slid under his head, raising him up so his mouth met the rim of the glass her right hand was holding. A cool liquid touched his lips and he instinctively opened his mouth. It was difficult to swallow but it got a little easier once the liquid took away the dryness. The glass was soon removed and his head placed back on the pillow. He closed his eyes again because he felt like he used all of his energy swallowing.

"Roy," she said again bothering him.

He opened his eyes to look at her. She was smiling widely at him. He certainly didn't think there was anything to smile about.

"The doctor says you're going to be ok," she said happily. "I've been waiting for you to wake up."

"Doctor?" he asked his voice still very horse. "There was a doctor here? Did that wretched horse of yours kick me or something?"

Thea frowned, "Dr. Snow didn't say anything about memory loss."

"He's probably just disoriented," the other voice said. "I'll go notify Lady Queen to summon Dr. Snow. He would want to examine Mr. Harper now that he's awake."

"Ok, I'll stay with Roy," Thea said threading her gloved fingers through his.

Roy turned his head to the other person in the room and saw the back of a lady that was dressed as a maid as she left the room. He didn't recognise her at all but then he remembered the fire and the move to Merlyn Estate. She was probably a maid at the estate.

"Ow," Roy cried out as Thea tapped his arm.

"Don't ever scare me like that again Roy!" she said angrily.

Lady Thea could switch moods faster than the baker he used to steal bread from. His eye lids started to get heavy and he soon drifted off to sleep again.

S-6

Oliver looked at his wife at her dressing table, she was fidgeting with her hair and delaying getting into bed. He knew she was looking forward to receiving the report from the Holt accountants in two days but he doubted that her current nervousness had anything to do with that.

"Felicity, love, as much as I enjoy watching you brush your golden locks, please come to bed," Oliver begged.

She set the brush down and looked at him nervously. Oliver sighed.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing's wrong per se but I am out of tea," she revealed to him.

"Again?" he asked with a frown.

"Yes," she responded softly knowing how disappointed he was going to be.

"First thing tomorrow morning, go into town and purchase some more," Oliver told her.

"That's kind of the problem. Apparently my usage is above normal. We" she said moving her hand between them, "are above normal for a married couple." Her face then turned a lovely shade of red.

Oliver couldn't help but smirk proudly. "I don't see that as a problem. I think it is excellent that we have such a strong and healthy partnership Felicity," he told her truthfully.

"They are out of tea since I've been ordering a lot more than they anticipated. The boat that usually collects the tea just left so it might be another five months before I have tea again," she said rushing through the explanation.

"Felicity, I am not waiting how many ever months to make love to you," he said seriously.

Felicity pursed her lips. In all honesty she didn't want to wait that long either but with the possibility that her uncle was a criminal mastermind still hanging over her head, she didn't want to risk having a child yet.

"Are you pregnant now?" Oliver suddenly asked.

"No," Felicity replied quickly not sure why he would ask her such a thing.

"Then our little escapade in France proves that we can be responsible. With the correct timing and measures, it should not be a problem for us," he concluded.

"I don't know," Felicity said chewing on her bottom lip.

"Come here," Oliver said signalling for him to join her on their temporary bed.

Felicity inched forward until she was standing by the bed. Oliver pulled back the covers for her and patted the empty space. She slowly got into bed and her husband pulled her flush against him.

"Can you honestly tell me that your tea is 100% fool proof?" he whispered in her ear.

"No," she responded.

"Exactly! No method is fool proof. We are a responsible, happily, married couple Felicity. I'm sure whatever happens, we can handle it," he told her honestly. "Now can I make love to you?"

Felicity appeared to think it over before she smiled at him. "Yes Lord Queen, you can do whatever you want."

She had barely finished her sentence before Oliver's lips came crashing onto hers.

S-7

Nearly a week later, Oliver and Felicity stood opposite Admiral Schrieve's house. They were arresting him on treason against the crown today. The evidence had been submitted a few days ago to the Chief Inspector but he took a long time to read through everything and make a decision. He eventually referred the evidence to a few trusted Lords and permission was given to raid one warehouse. As expected they found weapons, rats and a list of Lords that were to be targeted. This provided them with the final evidence needed to arrest the Admirals for treason. The first one up was Schrieve.

When the constables emerged empty handed Felicity frowned, "What's going on?" she asked her husband.

"I do not know. Maybe he was not at home," Oliver said proposing the most obvious answer.

"Not home? He's a retired Admiral? What better things does he have to do?" Felicity commented.

"I would think planning a rebellion would take up a lot of time. Perhaps he's at another warehouse love," Oliver pointed out.

"We need to apprehend both of the Admirals. They need to testify as to my Uncle's involvement in this plot."

"There's still Hunter Zoloman to find," Oliver reminded her as the last of the constables exited the building.

They followed the lawmen to the other admiral's house and again they were met with an empty building. Felicity was wondering if someone had tipped them off but Oliver suggested they could be at a warehouse. It was imperative that they raid them immediately.

The following day they received word that all of the warehouses had been raided. The Admirals and Zoloman had been at one of the warehouses. Zoloman had pulled a pistol and started firing while the Admirals used a secret underground exit. When the smoke cleared, Zoloman was dead and the Admirals gone. They also found the first piece of evidence that connected the plot to Damian Smoak, a half written letter addressed to one of the other warehouses instructing them to prepare twenty cages of rats for transfer to another location by the order of Damian Smoak. They assumed one of the Admirals had been in the process of writing the letter when the raid started. The newspapers reported that hefty bounties for the capture of the Admirals and Damian Smoak had been issued. Every thug in the city was on the lookout for them.

S-8

With the Admirals missing and Damian Smoak missing Robert asked Lyla to reach out to all her contacts for information on possible locations for the men. No one had any idea where they had disappeared to. If they did they would be turning them in for the bounty. Lyla decided it was time to pay another visit to Joker and his girls.

Diggle insisted that he accompany Lyla as she made her way to the latest street corner that Joker and his bunch of misfits occupied. She was touched by his concern for her safety but she was sure she had the situation under control. When they arrived, Joker, Harley and Carrie watched him warily. Carrie commented on his height, she liked them tell. Joker made some rude jokes that were designed to elicit a response from Diggle. Lyla stopped Diggle from reacting. Rising to Joker's taunts would get them nowhere. The best way to beat Joker at his game was not to play at all. She redirected Joker's attention onto herself and left Diggle to occupy Harley's and Carrie's attention. Within a few minutes, Lyla was finished with her conversation and they continued on walking in the direction they had been going.

"I have never met women so forward before," Diggle admitted after they had put some distance between them and Joker's girls.

Lyla chuckled.

"You are truly a remarkable woman," Diggle commented in awe.

"I'm not that remarkable," Lyla replied.

"But you are, you're dealing with three of the most unstable characters on the street and you're hardly flustered. I mean Harley seems pretty fond of that cricket bat she keeps swinging around while talking about a gentleman's game."

"I gave her that in exchange for information," Lyla admitted.

Diggle looked at Lyla incredulously.

"Go ahead and say it John. I'm crazy. My brothers always thought it was my attitude that made me an unattractive prospect for a wife. They said I would be a spinster all my life."

"I think that any man that gave up the opportunity to marry you is crazy. In my tribe, we appreciate strong women. Our way of life wasn't easy. A weak woman would have been a burden," he explained to her.

"Pity men like you weren't around when I was a marriageable age," she quipped.

"I'm here now," Diggle said seriously.

They stopped and stared at each other. There was something there. They could both feel it. There were many obstacles in their way but neither of them had ever let that stop them before. Lyla broke the stare first and continued walking to their destination.

"It's a pity we couldn't get any more information out of the Joker," she said.

"You got the place Stonehaven," Diggle said.

Lyla watched him impressed. Even though Carrie and Harley had been talking to him, he had still managed to ease drop on her conversation with Joker. "But we don't know where in England that place is located. It could be anywhere," Lyla pointed out.

"I don't believe that. It has to be somewhere strategic so he could oversee his plans," Diggle said.

"You think he's still in London?" Lyla asked.

"No, that would be too dangerous but I believe if he was smart enough to plan this whole thing then he was smart enough to create a secure location close by that he could fall back to. I believe that place is Stonehaven," he told her.

"It makes sense. Maybe he's hiding under Stonehenge!" she joked.

Diggle chuckled and she wrapped her hand around his arm. There were many stares from people on the street but neither cared. They were in their own bubble proposing places where Stonehaven could be located.

S-9

Damian Smoak sat comfortably on his porch overlooking the sea, sipping a cup of peppermint tea. The day was clear and he could see France. There were a few boats on the water that he recognised, however, none of them were his. The sound of the door sliding open behind him alerted him that his guests had finally arrived with his butler.

"Ah, Admirals have a seat," he said pointing to the two seats opposite him.

"Damian," Admiral Schrieve started. No doubt the man was going to have a string of excuses for their latest failure. It had been a little difficult to track them down but one of his loyal servants had been able to find them and bring them there.

"Let enjoy some tea first," Damian said pointing to the tea pot in the centre of the table, "Before we talk business."

Both men hesitantly sat while his butler poured them each a cup of tea. The Admirals were nervous, shifting in their seat while they watched his butler warily. They were right to be cautious of Mr. Brickwell. He could probably crush them each with his unusual strength.

"Damian we know the warehouses were raided but it only puts us back a few months," Admiral Eiling said.

"Yes, we can bring in more rats from the mainland," Admiral Schrieve said.

"Admirals, you forget our means of communication with the mainland were disabled and the two of you are now wanted criminals. A hefty reward has been placed on all of our heads," Damian reminded them.

"I assure you that this is only a temporary setback. We will have our new world order," Admiral Schrieve insisted.

Damian looked at them calmly and took a sip of his tea, the admirals followed suit.

"This has an interesting taste," Schrieve commented.

"Yes I do believe I have never tasted a flavour such as this before," Eiling said. "Did you get it on one or your journeys to India?"

"Actually my lovely wife, Ruvé, was more than happy to lend it to me," Smoak said watching the men carefully.

Eiling soon reached a hand to his throat, while Schrieve started coughing violently.

"Did I mention that it was a poisonous tea? Guess it must have eluded me. You should know gentlemen that the warehouses that were discovered were only a third of all my warehouses. I will get my new world, you just won't be around to see it."

One man slumped forward on the table and the other fell flat on the ground a white frothy liquid emerging from his mouth. A tall middle age woman with black hair and dark brown eyes emerged from inside the house.

"I guess they didn't like my tea. Mr. Brickwell," she said "Please move these men to the boat."

Brickwell picked up each man and slung them over each of his shoulders. Damian stood and kissed his wife on her cheek. "I'm off to my death," he said cheerily.

"Do try to be home in time for supper. Nora has grown quite fond of the bed time story you've been reading to her."

"I will do my best," he said smiling and following his butler out.

S-10

Everyone at Merlyn Estate had just sat down to enjoy dinner when Quentin Lance arrived with news that they had found Admiral Eiling and Schrieve.

"Where?" was the first thing Tommy asked.

"Floating in the port. They were apparently trying to escape to Spain. They were on board that boat that sank in the harbour yesterday," Quentin informed them.

"They're dead?" Moira asked.

"Drowned," Quentin confirmed.

"What about my uncle?" Felicity asked. She wasn't quite sure how she felt about this news.

"He was supposedly on board as well. Several witnesses said he boarded. He's one of eight that we haven't recovered a body for," he stated.

"That's kind of convenient," Oliver retorted not liking what he was hearing.

"I thought the same thing but without them there is nothing to pursue. The Chief says justice is done. This is now a closed case. I am supposed to thank you for doing your part to ensure a safe society and inform you that you will receive public acknowledgement in the paper and maybe an award."

"It doesn't feel very safe yet," Felicity commented.

"We will just have to continue business as usual for now," Robert advised.

"I'm not relaxing on any security measures," Oliver stated. Until there was proof that Damian Smoak was dead, they were not in the clear.

"I guess that means we can finally have a party," Tommy declared as if he hadn't just heard Oliver.

"You want to party?" Oliver asked him incredulously.

"There have been several important events we missed. We didn't even celebrate Thea's 18th birthday, our return to London or most important of all, my birthday. How could we deprive the Ton of a night of debauchery? Its' been over five years since Tommy Merlyn has hosted an event."

There was a collective groan from everyone around the table.

Not to be perturbed by their negative reaction he continued on. "It'll be just like the old days with the Queens and Merlyns ruling the Ton! I think a month should be sufficient time to plan. We can even make it a themed party, come dressed as a criminal!" Tommy declared.

Moira made a noise of disapproval, "That is in poor taste Thomas. A normal party should suffice."

Tommy immediately took that as their collective approval, "Great it's settled then. Let start planning."

S-11

Nyssa watched as her beloved let out a breath of relief. This was the fifth small bay on the North coast of Egypt that they checked for the Flash. The boat was there and being loaded. From the amount of crates left, she gauged they would be setting sail either that night or early the next morning. They had barely made it in time. She knew that Sara was anxious to return to England. Her beloved hadn't wanted her to accompany her but she was not letting Sara do something dangerous without her. Sara may have chosen to stay with her, but she knew that the Lance family was still important to her. Nyssa would support her and keep her safe from the forces that threatened to ruin them.

Chapter Text

The day had dawned beautifully. The sun had risen behind The Flash lighting the sky with its golden rays. There were no clouds on the horizon in front of the ship which meant the weather was going to be good that day but despite the picturesque scene it did nothing to soothe the urgency Sara felt. She slammed her closed fist down on the port gunwale of The Flash. This supposedly fast ship was sailing way too slow for her liking.

"Relax my love," Nyssa said in a soothing voice next to her.

"I cannot relax. I'm fairly sure I can swim faster than this boat is sailing!" Sara said angrily.

A snort sounded behind her from the ship's wheel.

"We are sailing into a strong head wind and current. You can jump in but I guarantee you'll end up way behind the boat in less than a minute," Barry said knowingly. "And I'm not turning around to come get you."

"We can toss things overboard to go faster," Sara suggested.

"We absolutely cannot. The business has a reputation to uphold," Barry reminded her. "Felicity would kill me if I compromised the business."

"There are lives at stake," Sara reminded him to justify why they should jettison their cargo.

"I understand that but based on what you told me Felicity is safe for the time being. We should get there in time despite the strong winds and current," Barry stubbornly insisted.

"I hope that you are right Barry. The lives of my family are at stake. If anything were to happen to them I guarantee you'll wish you threw the cargo overboard. "

Barry confidently put his hand on Sara's shoulder, "I promise, we will get there in time to save your family."

S-2

The kitchen of Merlyn Estate was large. There were many servants in it at the moment preparing the meals for the day. After Felicity's return, Raisa had been brought to the Estate since Felicity wasn't satisfied with the cooking of the other maids. She had grown very accustomed to highly seasoned and spicy food and found it hard to revert to blander items. The first day that Felicity had pushed her plate away after picking at it, Oliver sent for Raisa immediately. His wife was not allowed to be dissatisfied with anything. It had caused quite a stir among the staff at Merlyn Estate earning Felicity a very bad reputation there.

Today, Raisa needed quite a few ingredients to prepare her meals for the rest of the week. When she was at Queen Manor she would prepare the list and Walter would assign someone to source the items for her but the head butler at Merlyn Estate was not very accommodating to her. Walter would not take up the other man's role so she was left with no choice but to ask Roy to pick up the items for her. Thea was very pleased with this development because it meant that Roy had to read. Raisa had given Roy a list of items to purchase at the market and he had taken it to Thea in the library. She would go through the spelling of each item with him. The long words she didn't expect him to understand but the short ones she expected him to figure out. He came to the letter k.

"Moo," Thea said when she observed the furrow in his brow that indicated he was confused. He looked at her strangely.

"We covered cow. It was c o w, no k," he told her confidently.

"Mooo," she insisted sounding like a cow in labour.

"Mooo," Roy answered right back at a total loss for what Lady Thea was trying to do.

"No silly," she said slapping him on his arm with her fan, a habit that had grown on her over the last few weeks. "What do you get from a cow?"

"Meat?" he answered saying the first thing that popped into his mind. He knew it started with an M.

"Not that, something else," Thea persisted.

"Milk?"

"Yes, milk, m i l k," Thea said with a smile.

Since Roy had finished his alphabet, they had moved on to three letters and then four letter words. The real work had now started. Roy had to learn how to pronounce the letters in combination with others. Thea had struggled with how to approach that but with some guidance from Felicity things started to move along a lot smoother.

"Is there anything you need me to collect for you in town my lady," Roy asked curiously.

"No I have everything I need," Thea said with a slight frown. Roy had never asked about her needs before and when she noticed he was debating with himself. She knew something was up. "What is bothering you?" she asked him bluntly.

"Not me my lady, you. Since I woke up you haven't gone out, ridden or entertained any suitors," Roy explained seriously.

Thea gave him a bitter laugh, "My family was under threat so I was sequestered in doors, my horse is still at the Manor so there is no riding to be done and the heat from the fire seemed to dry up all my friends and suitors. The Ton keeps waiting for that third bad thing to happen. After all tragedies happen in threes but it's ok Roy. I would not have been able to properly take care of you if I had to entertain."

Roy was going to respond but they were interrupted by Diggle, "Roy we are waiting for you."

Thea took advantage of the distraction to usher Roy away. "Go on get going before my brother comes in here and drags you out by your ear. I heard that it can be quite painful," Thea quipped.

Once Roy was gone Thea was left alone in the library staring out at the gardens. It was a lovely day and she had planned on taking a walk but Roy's question had ruined her mood. She was already ducking her mother's questions about suitors and now she had her student asking her. It wouldn't be long before it was brought to her father's and brother's attention and that was a conversation she was dreading. The events of the last few months had changed her and she was no longer that young girl the desired to marry early to a prominent family within the Ton.

S-3

Moira Queen was seated in the gardens of Merlyn Estate. It was spring and the flowers were beginning to bloom. She was by herself, having dismissed all the servants earlier. She needed to think and for that she needed solitude. It had been a month since the Admirals were discovered dead. News had broken a few days ago that the Queen family had been instrumental in subverting a plot against the crown. That had again increased the popularity of the Queen family. Suitors for Thea had suddenly started pouring in but Thea refused each request. She was worried about her daughter's state of mind. They had spent practically the whole winter locked away. She hoped that the seclusion hadn't made her daughter adverse to the social circle that their family operated in.

Damian Smoak had yet to reappear and her son was still being extremely cautious. The insurance company had finally settled on both the Mansion and the boat that was lost at sea. The rebuilding of the Manor was coming along on schedule once all the initial issues had been ironed out. They were hoping to move back in by next summer. Robert used the insurance payment on the boat to commission a new one from Ray Palmer, though the master shipbuilder was still busy fixing the Al–Saher, something that her daughter-in-law was very stressed about.

Her grandson was having a wonderful time with Tommy's kids. He was going to be a great big brother when Oliver finally got Felicity pregnant. She had heard through the grape vine at the tailor's shop that the Ton had been talking about that, wondering if Felicity had fertility problems. It was unusual to go so long without child. The Merlyn party was going to be the first event that the Queens attended since the fire. Moira realised she had a lot of damage control to do regarding her family's image and position within the Ton. She was going to have to remind several members just why the Queens were at the top of the food chain.

Off in the distance she saw Connor on top of Roy's back. He loved to ride on Roy's back and Thea loved to tease them. Her daughter was spending far too much time with that stable hand and she needed to do something about that. Lord Davis had renewed his interest in Thea. Perhaps it was time for her to take the initiative and invite him over for tea.

S-4

Diggle and Lyla were both seated in the kitchen. They were the only servants still up at that hour. They had spent the entire day on the streets trying to find out if there was any word about Damian Smoak or rumours about his rats and warehouses. For the time being, everything appeared to be silent but neither Lyla nor Diggle believed it. They thought the boating accident was way too convenient. Not only was the timing highly suspicious but a contact who handled the bodies indicated he thought they were dead before they hit the water.

"It's getting late John," Lyla pointed out. This was not the first night that they were alone in the kitchen relaxing after a long day.

"I'll escort you to your room," John said rising from his seat.

This had developed into a habit for them. They would stay up late in the kitchen talking and then he would escort her to her room. He was a fantastic conversationalist and they found that they shared the same views on many things. The other maids at the Estate were gossiping about them, wondering why she would even entertain the advances of such a man. Lyla ignored them and she had personally witnessed Felicity scold a young maid when she had criticised John's race. They reached her quarters far sooner than Lyla would have liked.

"Good night Lyla," John said.

"Goodnight John," she said leaning towards him slightly.

His right hand came up and cupped her face. Lyla was always surprised at how gentle John could be with her. He slowly bent down and touched his lips to hers. She responded by pressing her lips back against his. He withdrew far quicker than she would have liked but at least it was a start. They were finally going somewhere.

"Tomorrow," he said with a pleased smile.

"Tomorrow," Lyla said before opening her door. For the first time in her life she was truly looking forward to tomorrow and whatever it may bring.

S-5

Lady Thea chased her nephew and James up the side staircase of the main house, through the kitchen, down the corridor and into the foyer when she was abruptly stopped by Walter. His facial expression suggested that he was highly disappointed in her behaviour.

"The Governess is looking for her charges," he said.

"She should look harder," Thea responded defiantly. It wasn't her fault that the governess seemed to have an aversion to going outside.

"Thea! There you are, Lord Davis and I were about to sit down to tea," she heard her mother call from behind her. "Please join us."

Thea was loathe to turn around. She had dirtied the front of her skirt while in the garden and if her mother saw her in that condition she could only imagine what would happen. Especially since a fairly high ranking member of the Ton was with her. She was very grateful when Walter intervened.

"I just asked Lady Thea to return the boys to the governess upstairs Lady Queen," Walter said pleasantly.

"You can take them up and Thea can join us now," Moira said not understanding what Walter was trying to do.

"Walter needs to attend to the tea. It will only take me a few minutes to attend to the boys," Thea said not turning around at all. She grabbed both boys' hands and darted up the stairs to the room where the boys would be doing their lessons.

She quickly dropped them off and headed straight to her room. Both Lyla and Felicity were out so there was no one to help her change out of her gown and into a fresh one. There was no way she could present herself to her mother in that condition. She tried to do it herself but managed to get the laces in the back into a knot. She poked her head out of the door hoping to see a passing maid but there was no one. The thought briefly crossed her mind that perhaps she could skip the tea but she couldn't so openly defy her mother especially in front of Lord Davis.

With her mind made up she started darting from room to room looking for a maid. She eventually found a young girl cleaning a room at the end of the corridor. She demanded that the poor maid follow her back to her room. When the maid entered her room, the young girl looked completely terrified of her. If she weren't in such a rush, she would have probably paused to reassure the girl but she needed out of that dress immediately. The maid was completely flustered when she looked at the knot and Thea instructed her to cut her out of the dress.

While the maid was snipping away, Thea mentally reviewed her wardrobe. She didn't want the Lord to notice that she had changed lest he think that she was interested in him, so she settled on a dress with a similar colour. Her father had never been able to tell her dresses apart unless they were a different colour. Fortunately she was wearing blue today and she had many blue dresses. Once she was free of the dress, she pulled out her new dress and instructed the maid to help her. The whole process took about twenty minutes.

When she arrived at the room where tea was being served, Walter was exiting the room. He looked her over and she received his nod of approval. He then introduced her to the room.

"Ah Thea, it's about time. I see you changed," Moira pointed out much to Thea's chagrin.

"Yes mother," Thea responded. She dare not explain to her that she had been running around in the mud with Connor and James and that was the reason she had to change her dress. It most certainly was not to impress Lord Davis as she knew her mother was thinking.

"Lady Thea, you look as beautiful as ever," Lord Davis said taking her hand and kissing the back.

It took all of her self-control not to recoil. Six months ago she would have swooned at such an action. She would have probably blushed bright red and dropped her gaze away from Lord Davis but she just stared at him bored. It was rude and by the frown on her mother's face she knew her mother didn't approve but she didn't care. Thea took her seat around the small tea table opposite Lord Davis.

"It is has been a while since we last spoke Lady Thea," Lord Davis said to strike up conversation.

"Yes, you were under the impression that if you visited I would cause some sort of plague to fall on you," Thea commented dryly.

"Thea!" her mother reprimanded her immediately.

"I only speak the truth mother," she responded heatedly.

Lord Davis tried to laugh it off.

"There is a ball at the Robbins Mansion this weekend. Would you give me the honour of escorting you to it?"

"Are you sure I'll be even welcomed there. Lady Robbins and I used to be such good friends but I have not heard from her since Christmas," Thea stated.

"I'm afraid my daughter was out supervising her nephew's play time earlier and it appears that all that heat has gone to her head," Moira said to explain Thea's odd behaviour.

Thea pounced on the opportunity, "I do believe I am not feeling very well. May I be excused?"

"Yes dear. You will see Lord Davis on Saturday," Moira stated serenely.

"I don't think I will be well enough on Saturday either," she stated as she stood.

She left her stunned mother and Lord Davis behind and went in search of Roy. It was time for one of his lessons.

S-6

Tommy paced the library as he described to the Queens his grand ideas for his party.

"Everyone in the Ton should be invited. The invitations should be hand delivered by our butlers tomorrow. It will be the start of summer ball. The staff at Queen Manor should be brought across to help with the preparations, cooking and serving," Tommy said excitedly. "We will need a theme. I want a theme that has never been done before. Something so unusual the Ton will be talking about it for decades! The legacy of Tommy Merlyn will be something that young bachelors will try to aspire to!"

Felicity groaned and leaned over to whisper in her husband's ear, "Was Tommy always like this?"

"Pretty much," Oliver replied with a fond smile. He and Tommy had many great memories together. They were certainly a dynamic duo within the Ton.

"I think if I listen to any more of these ideas I'm going to be sick again," Felicity said to him.

In response Oliver rubbed her back gently. She had woken up nauseous that morning and the feeling hadn't left her all day. She suspected it was the pie she ate the night before that had been prepared by one of the Merlyn cooks. As soon as Raisa had learned of her Lady's sickness, she prepared a special tea for her that did settle her stomach enough for her to eat dinner and keep it down.

"How does Laurel put up with this?" Felicity asked her husband when half an hour later Tommy was still talking about the theme of the Merlyn Ball.

"She's had years of practice," he pointed out.

"Would you two stop whispering over there! This is very important," Tommy whined stamping his foot on the ground the exact same way James did when he didn't get his way.

"Sorry Tommy," Felicity apologised bowing her head slightly so that she could whisper to her husband, "I see where James got that bad habit from."

Tommy threw them a stern look and then steamrolled ahead with the one-sided discussion of his plans. They were extremely grateful when Lord Lance arrived and told him to stop droning on about a stupid party as he wanted to put his grandchildren to bed and he needed someone to escort him up. Everyone jumped up to volunteer and the little meeting ended with a stampede of Queens rushing to get to Lord Lance first.

Tommy looked around the empty room and shrugged, "I may as well start personally writing all the invitations," he said to himself. He pulled out an ink pot and a stack of parchment and set about his task.

S-7

Two days later, Felicity and Oliver were attending Caitlyn's wedding. Felicity was debating which side of the church to sit on since she knew both Caitlyn and Ronnie very well.

"Which person have you known longer?" her husband suggested.

"Caitlyn," she answered easily.

"Then we sit on that side," he told her.

They sat on the pew closest to the side exit of the church. The memories of the previous wedding were still very fresh in his mind. It was one of the reasons he had personally approached Dr. Snow to ensure that there would be some form of security at the church. Oliver had even paid for those arrangements to ensure his wife's safety while they attended the ceremony and the reception.

Ronnie was standing up front dressed in his finest clothes flanked on his left by his brothers who served as groomsmen. He was a bit fidgety and it struck Oliver that he had never been nervous for either of his weddings.

"You know love, Ronnie looks a bit like you," Felicity commented.

Oliver scoffed, "He looks nothing like me!"

"His hair may be a different colour and he is a little bit shorter and less muscular but there's something about his bone structure that reminds me of you," she said thoughtfully her gaze fixed on Ronnie.

"There are many men with my bone structure love," Oliver informed her as he too surveyed Ronnie.

Felicity arched an eyebrow and turned her head to look at her husband, "Has my husband been spending time observing his own gender?"

"Only to make sure they are not ogling you love," he said turning his head to look at his wife.

"Always the charmer Lord Queen," Felicity said with a wide smile.

"Only for you," he said bringing their joined hands up and kissing the back of her hand. He would have kissed her on her lips but that would not have been appropriate.

The music started to plan and a beautiful Caitlyn emerged walking down the aisle.

"She's so pretty," Felicity said stealing her husband's handkerchief and dabbing at the tears that had started leaking out of her eyes.

"Are you ok," he asked. She usually wasn't this emotional.

"I'm fine. Something about the occasion just makes me feel so happy," she said.

Oliver nodded. The ceremony went off without a hitch and soon Ronnie and Caitlyn were pronounced husband and wife. The whole experience spurred Oliver to think about doing something grand to celebrate their one year anniversary which was fast approaching.

S-8

Oliver decided to check on Tommy and his ambitious plans for the ball. He heard through the grapevine, i.e. Roy, that Tommy was driving everyone crazy with the planning. Roy made it sound like the servants would revolt if Tommy changed the colour scheme again. He eventually found his best friend playing with a long rope measuring something in the ballroom. When Tommy noticed him his smirk widened.

"Lord Queen you are falling behind!" Tommy boasted.

Oliver gave him a curious stare. He had no idea what his friend was talking about this time.

Tommy was able to read Oliver's confusion easily and decided to elaborate, "Falling behind on children."

"Tommy this isn't a competition," Oliver responded.

"I know but Laurel fainted this morning," Tommy said excitedly.

"Is she ok?" Oliver asked with concerned.

"Better than ok, she's pregnant," Tommy said with a brilliant smile.

"Congratulations," Oliver said clapping him on his back.

"You have been married almost a year," Tommy pointed out. "I thought for sure Felicity would be with child by now."

"We decided to take out time," Oliver replied to him. Surely he should know that now wasn't the best time to impregnate Felicity but considering Tommy didn't hesitate with Laurel, maybe his best friend forgot about the dangerous times they were living in.

"Certainly doesn't sound like that at nights when people pass your room," Tommy quipped.

"I do not make love to my wife just to produce children. It means a lot more to us. Felicity is my personal goddess and I will worship her however she wants. When she is ready, then we will have children. We already have Connor and that is enough for now," Oliver responded a bit too tersely.

Tommy held his hands up in surrender and went back to working on whatever scheme he was concocting for his party. Oliver got 'roped' in to hold one end for Tommy. While he held the rope his mind began to wonder. Felicity and Laurel had been sick for the same amount of time. Felicity swore they picked up a bug but if Laurel was pregnant did that mean Felicity was pregnant. They had been very careful but Tommy was right, they had a very active night life. Maybe it was time to convince his wife to let the Queen Doctor review her.

S-9

Felicity received a note to visit the barrister that managed her father's will. She wasn't sure what the purpose of the meeting was but she asked Ronnie and her husband to accompany her. Felicity had never liked the man much which was why she hired Ronnie to handle the affairs of Smoak East India.

"Good Day Barrister Donner," Felicity said when she arrived at his office in town.

"Good day Lord Queen, Lady Queen, Barrister Raymond, please take a seat," he said.

"I'm surprised that you wanted to see me," Felicity admitted.

Barrister Donner cut straight to the chase, "Damian Smoak left a will."

"I thought the search for him was still ongoing. Doesn't a person have to be missing a certain length of time before they are declared dead?" Felicity asked.

"Yes but his will clearly states that if he goes missing for over a month he wanted to transfer the estate to any male heir you bore. If no such heir has been born yet, your husband shall manage the estate on your behalf," Donner revealed.

"Is this something that is usually done?" Felicity asked.

"No but Damian left very clear instructions," Donner said handing the will over to Ronnie.

Ronnie looked over the legal paperwork while Felicity reviewed the list of assets.

"All of these originally belonged to my father. Did Damian not have anything of his own?" Felicity asked.

"He did not add any assets to the estate. He kept everything as your father left it," Donner replied.

Felicity found that strange. Surely in his years of travels he had accumulated something of his own. He travelled to various countries and conducted his own affairs surely he at least had a bank account or did he operate on a cash only basis. Felicity took this as confirmation that Damian was alive and out there somewhere.

S-10

It took almost two weeks to settle the paperwork for Oliver to be able to dictate the affairs of Smoak Estate on behalf of his wife and future heirs. Once everything was settled Felicity arranged for a private meeting between Oliver and herself at Smoak East India offices. Oliver was not going to like what she had to say. He watched her suspiciously as they sat opposite each other.

"Felicity?" he said with a slight undercurrent of impatience.

"I'm trying to figure out how to phrase this," she admitted.

"Just say it," Oliver encouraged her.

"I want to move to Smoak Estate," she told Oliver.

"No," he responded which was pretty much the answer she expected.

She fiddled with her hands, "Oliver, I want to move back to my old home until the Mansion is completed."

"Felicity there are about a hundred thousand reasons why that is a terrible idea," he responded.

"Actually it's not really that bad of an idea. We both believe Damian is alive and somewhere out there. A thorough search of the Estate could reveal some more clues. I can only conduct a thorough search if I am living there," Felicity reasoned.

"You would be in the heart of the enemy's territory. All of the staff would be loyal to him. Any one of them could harm you," Oliver reasoned.

"I can take some of the staff loyal to me at Queen Manor," Felicity countered. She knew quite a few of the maids were not very happy at the moment with the construction on-going.

Oliver shook his head, "It's too dangerous. It's too far away from Queen Manor. It's on the other side of London!"

"I am not needed for the Queen Manor reconstruction. You can come out and visit me on weekends," Felicity stated.

"You're out of your mind if you think you're living anywhere without me," he responded angrily.

Felicity leaned forward and took her husband's hands in hers, "Oliver, Smoak Estate was my home. It is all I have left of my family after the fire. The last remaining picture of my mother is at that Estate. I know Tommy is your close friend but Merlyn Estate does not feel like home for me when you are not there. I have the opportunity to go home and I want to take it. I can finally shape the Estate the way I always discussed with my father without Isabelle or any of my siblings interfering. Please Oliver," Felicity pleaded.

Oliver sighed, "All right but I'm coming with you and either Diggle or Roy have to be with you at all times!"

Felicity sprang forward in delight and kissed her husband, "Thank you, thank you so much."

S-11

The move out to Smoak Estate had not gone as planned. As soon as Thea heard they were moving, the young Queen demanded to go with them. Moira strongly disagreed and ordered her to stay but Thea packed up her belongings and took them to the carriage herself. She challenged her mother to physically remove her from the carriage. The scene they made in front of Merlyn Estate had all the staff in shock. Tommy himself stood on top the stairs his head swivelling back and forth between Thea and Moira as the two debated her future. Eventually Oliver commanded them to stop. The last thing they needed was rumours spreading about dissention among the Queens. He assured his mother that Thea would be safe with them.

When Oliver opened the door and entered the carriage he found his son sitting atop his own small suitcase. His hands stubbornly crossed in front of his chest. "If Aunt Thea gets to go so do I. I don't want to stay here without you and mummy," he stubbornly said.

"I thought you liked playing with James and Rebecca?" Oliver replied. He and Felicity had agreed that it was in Connor's best interest for him to remain at the Manor. Not only was it safer but it was good for his social interaction to play with James.

"I want to go," his son insisted.

Oliver did not have the heart to say no to his son. He received an earful from Felicity when he arrived at the Estate. She had gone ahead with Diggle the day before. Perhaps if she had been there she would have been able to convince Thea and Connor to stay behind. Instead they had to clean out two extra bedrooms for them. The staff wasn't pleased at all. They had gotten accustomed to meeting the demands of only one person.

They had been there two weeks and Felicity hadn't found out any more information about her Uncle Damian. He hadn't shared any information with the staff and he never kept a regular schedule. They had no clue where he went during the day as he rode his own horse into town. Her father's other businesses rarely saw Damian as he left them to run themselves. As a result, some were worse off than others and it was taking Felicity a lot of time to fix them. She had decided to merge all the shipping companies into one. There was no longer a need to keep Smoak East India separate. She was fairly sure Damian would not be taking control back from her. With the merger she realised she needed a bigger office. She spent two days scouring London with Diggle looking for suitable options. She was also toying with the idea of changing the names of all the companies to one general name like Smoak Trading or Smoak Shipping.

The Al-Saher was almost ready to return to Egypt. She was looking forward to that. The Emerald Archer was waiting in Egypt. She was thankful that she thought ahead and left instructions with Aunt Nora that if the Al-Saher missed its return date by two weeks, they should hire another boat and ship the cargo to England on that boat. She couldn't keep her suppliers waiting months for their shipments. Life felt very busy at the moment and she decided to take a day to herself. She encouraged Oliver to join her.

Felicity spread a large square cloth in the shade of a tall tree on Smoak Estate. Oliver and Connor were securing the corners with stones she had brought along. The weather was beautiful and she wanted them to spend some time as a family. She and her father used to come out to this tree right before she would leave to spend the summers with her grandfather. It had become a tradition for her and she felt that now that she had returned home she needed to visit the tree but this time with her new family.

She had barely seen Connor since the move which was why she wanted to include him in her peaceful day. Connor rode out with Oliver. He gave his son quite a ride inclusive of jumps over a few fences that surrounded certain parts of the estate. Priya and Anaya had prepared the food consisting of samosas and chicken kebabs. The food was delicious and Connor enjoyed the picnic immensely. He soon fell asleep in her lap.

"He asked me yesterday for a baby brother," Oliver confessed to her. He was seated next to her with his right arm around her back, his thumb rubbing circles into her right hip bone.

"I had been expecting that," she admitted. She knew with Laurel pregnant and Tommy prepping his children for another baby Connor would have questions.

"You could have warned me," Oliver complained.

Felicity gave him a small smile, "What did you tell him?"

"I told him to be patient," Oliver said.

Felicity snorted loudly and Connor shifted in her lap, "You told him the one thing children have in short supply."

"But it was true. He will get a baby brother in time," Oliver said defending himself.

"Don't forget the baby sister," Felicity reminded him.

"He'll have to wait a little longer for that one," Oliver insisted.

Felicity snuggled closer to her husband. He closed his eyes and inhaled the scent of the oils she had used on her hair. It was very peaceful and secluded. He thought about returning to that spot later in the week but only with Felicity. It would be a great little romantic rendezvous. These days the only time he had with her was at nights. He wanted to be a little selfish and abscond with her during the day.

S-12

Felicity was feeling unusually hungry in the afternoon. She believed all of the work she had been doing was driving her to eat. She decided to take a stroll to a quaint little bakery she knew her staff brought bread from. It wasn't far and she didn't particularly feel the need to go with Diggle. He was currently out combing the streets with Lyla and she was sure she could get to the bakery and back before they realised she had left. Felicity changed into an older dress with a worn shawl so that she wouldn't be identified as an upper-class lady on the street. She could walk without the beggars or con artists showing any interest in her. She found that the dress was a little tighter than she remembered it. She would have to ask the seamstress to let it out a bit for her.

She found the bakery easy enough. The smell of the freshly baked bread made her stomach grumble. A girl no older then maybe 17 attended to her. She noticed that the girl's attention soon shifted to the entranceway and she seemed completely entranced by what she saw there. Felicity turned around to see Paul Holt.

"Good day Mr. Holt," she greeted him when he came up to them.

"Good day," he said pleasantly before his eyes widened in surprise, "Lady Queen?"

"Yes, please call me Felicity. Lady Queen is my mother-in-law," she said with a slight frown.

"I thought you were,"

"Just another customer," she finished for him.

"Yes," he replied honestly.

"That was what I wanted to achieve with this look," she admitted to him.

"Paul," the young girl purred as she latched on to him.

"Cybil," he replied to her pleasantly. He seemed a slight bit uncomfortable.

Felicity cocked her head to the side curious by the interaction. They called each other by their first names which was a sign of familiarity. They were also touching, well more like she was touching him. Something was going on here.

"Aren't you going to introduce me?" the girl pouted.

"Of course, Lady Felicity Queen, this is my fiancé, Ms. Cybil Baxter," he said.

"Lady Queen," Cybil said excitedly trying to do her best curtsey.

Felicity wondered if she had heard right. Barely a month ago she caught him in his business partner's arms and now he was marrying a young girl.

"Are you ok my Lady?" Cybil asked when Lady Queen hadn't said a word.

Felicity gave her a polite smile and then focused on Paul an explanation was definitely required. "Mr. Holt would you mind escorting me back to my office?"

"Not at all," he said realising that she wanted to talk in private.

Felicity thanked the young girl and waited while Paul said his goodbyes. Cybil was completely enamoured with Paul. She could see that the girl had pegged all of her hopes and dreams on her upcoming marriage. It was common to see young girls excited about marriage particularly when they were marrying up and Cybil was definitely marrying up. They walked in silence all the way back to the office where she invited him into Ronnie's old office, the more private of the two to talk in.

"Mr. Holt I was under the impression that you were in love with the other Mr. Holt?" she asked. "He certainly looks at you like you're his world much like Cybil looks at you."

Paul remained silent.

"I am not asking to be mean. I'm trying to understand what is happening here," Felicity confessed.

"Lady Queen it is not for you to understand," Paul replied.

"Maybe not but do you love Cybil?"

He remained silent. Felicity sighed.

"Mr. Holt I consider you a friend which is why I feel like I must say something. Cybil has certain expectations about you and what her marriage to you is going to be like. She is going to be sorely disappointed. When I went into my own marriage, I had zero expectations. I wanted to live my life and Oliver would live his life separately. I didn't expect to fall madly in love with my husband. I never expected to feel all these things young girls are always gossiping about. I never expected to have my life so intertwined with is. He and I are a we now. I could never imagine going into a marriage wanting a 'we' and getting a he and I. It may be years before she figures it out, but eventually she will and it wouldn't be fair to her."

"What do you expect me to do? I must marry," Paul pointed out.

"You are a man. You can wait a few more years and marry an old spinster who might be grateful just to upgrade her reputation or find a woman in the same position as you and Curtis but don't ruin that young girl's life. I realise that you are in a precarious position but for all of the fantastic work you have done for us I assure you the Queens will protect your reputation for you."

"My Lady, at this point anything I do will hurt Cybil," he pointed out to her.

"I could find her another husband. Ronnie has a few brothers. We could work to slowly transfer her affections to someone who is fully capable of returning them equally and treating her how she deserves to be treated."

"You make it sound as if I would not be able to give her a good life," Paul protested.

"Oh I'm sure you could provide her with a good home but you wouldn't be able to provide her with that one thing she would need the most in a marriage, a true life partner. I stumbled upon one with Oliver and now that I know how important it is, I know Cybil would be miserable. Please think about what I said. Whatever decision you make, your secret is safe with me," Felicity said sincerely.

Paul nodded stiffly at her and exited the office. Felicity wondered, not for the first time, how she always got herself tangled up in complicated messes.

S-13

The ballroom of Merlyn Estate looked absolutely beautiful. Tommy had finally settled on a prison theme for the ball based on the fact that he had successfully avoided being thrown in one. Nobody liked his choice. After fighting with him, Laurel eventually got her way to change the theme to "A New Beginning" instead. The new theme represented their future, the old was about their past. Laurel wanted to focus on the future. Of course it helped her case that she was pregnant. Tommy didn't like to argue with pregnant women. He was a total pushover whenever she was with child. It looked like all of the Ton was in attendance and they were ready to welcome the Merlyns and the Queens back into their good graces. All talk of the misfortune that had befallen them had disappeared and everyone wanted to be seen associating with the families again.

Thea was bombarded with suitors, which she ignored, much to Moria's displeasure. A rift was developing there and Laurel knew Oliver was trying to be the mediator. Laurel couldn't help but agree with Thea's logic. She also knew that Oliver didn't want Thea to marry into a family that hadn't cared to offer any moral support during their crises. He had confessed to her that having had two marriages of convenience already, he could positively say it was much better to have a spouse that loved and cared for you rather than an indifferent one. Oliver wanted someone that was compatible to Thea but those Lords were only interested in the status boost they would get by marrying Thea Queen.

Despite how she came to marry Tommy she was extremely grateful that she had. She couldn't imagine her life with anyone other than him. She's fairly certain that she would have been miserable with Oliver. He could never had loved her the way he loves Felicity. Living in Scotland had been hard at first but the challenges only solidified their relationship. Those hardships also made it hard for her to smile with all the Ladies in the Ton when they were gossiping about a poor girl who had yet to snag herself a husband. She used to enjoy these parties but now she saw them for what they really were, opportunities to increase the power your family held. If a great deal of her family's livelihood didn't depend on their reputation she might have thrown everyone out in an instant but she knew she couldn't do that. She had two children and a third one on the way. She needed to play the role and ensure that the Merlyns rose and stayed at the top of the food chain.

S-14

Oliver crossed the ballroom easily. He left Felicity with a few older members of the Ton who were quite curious about her. Earlier in the evening, his wife had noticed the arrival of a Lord that she had named as Lord Seldon. He vaguely remembered at the beginning of their marriage she explained that he had tried to court her but the courtship had ended in disaster. He could tell that Felicity was uncomfortable with Lord Seldon's presence. She had manoeuvred them so far to make sure he was on the opposite side of the ballroom to her. This angered Oliver and he decided to issue a warning to the man.

"Lord Seldon, I didn't' realise you would be bold enough to come this ball," Oliver said tersely not even bothering with the usual pleasantries.

Lord Seldon didn't even seem surprised, "This has been touted by the Ton as the ball to attend. Why wouldn't I?"

"Because I know for a fact that my wife made it quite clear that she wanted nothing to do with you after you tried to assault her," he said.

Lord Seldon laughed, "Assault her! I was merely being a good business man and sampling the goods before I purchased. Trying to kiss a Lady you had intention to marry is hardly a crime. Besides I think, I'm better off now. Lady Smoak is cursed. Just look at all the tragedy that has befallen your family since the two of you married."

Oliver pulled the man by his cravat towards him, "She is Lady Queen now and my family is lucky to have her. We will rise way above the tragedy that befell us and it will be in part due to my wife. I would greatly appreciate it if I never see you again, so disappear before I make you," Oliver growled.

Lord Seldon seemed startled by the open threat. Oliver released the man and he stumbled away. Oliver turned to head back to where he left his wife but realised she was no longer there. He looked around the room but the numerous women in the Ton with their large dresses blocked his view. He had no idea where his wife had wondered off to now.

S-15

While Oliver had been preoccupied with Cooper, Felicity listened to the women talk about the latest dress styles for the summer. She tried to pretend she was interested but she got lost halfway through the conversation. A man she had never seen before appeared next to her. He was well dressed and looked like any other gentleman there. The Ladies had all curtsied when they saw him though none of them appeared to know his name. He seemed charming enough. A young server passed by with drinks and he stopped her. Felicity saw the young girl tense and had assumed that he asked something inappropriate of her. The young girl turned to Felicity and whispered in her ear. The man had a knife to her back and wanted Lady Queen to follow him out of the ballroom. If she made any noise he would kill her and anybody else within striking distance.

The threat was clear and the poor girl had lost the colour in her face so fast Felicity thought she might faint. The man turned the server slightly so that Felicity could see the glint of the sharp knife that was pressed just below the girls ribs on her left side. Felicity felt like there was no choice to make and she followed him into the deserted corridor. From there he led them to the kitchen where she found Raisa and the rest of cooks tied up. From their facial expressions Felicity knew they were terrified.

"What do you want with me?" she asked him.

"My employer is paying handsomely for you, though I might want to have a little fun with you first," he said looking her over appreciatively.

"You are not to touch Lady Queen. He made it extremely clear what he would do to you if she was harmed," another man who entered through the servant's entrance in the kitchen said. He was tall with a bald head. He looked very strong. Felicity was fairly sure he could probably break her in half with just one hand.

Felicity tuned their conversation about payment out as she looked around the kitchen for something she could use to her advantage. Her concentration was broken by the well-dressed assailant.

"Come with us quietly or we will harm this server," the man said moving the knife from her back to her throat.

Felicity could see Raisa shaking her head no but from her brief time at Merlyn Manor she knew this particular server had a baby. The large man had said that their employer didn't want her hurt and she was fairly sure she knew who their employer was.

"I'll come. Leave her alone," Felicity said. She was 100% sure she would not be harmed.

"Let's go," the heavy set man said taking her out of the kitchen to a carriage waiting. She was entering the carriage when a sharp pain erupted behind her head and dark spots started to rapidly dominate her vision before everything was black. She collapsed forward and passed out.

S-16

Oliver estimated he had been looking for Felicity for twenty minutes and with each additional minute that passed, the panic rose inside of him. Something was wrong. A commotion in the centre of the dance floor drew his attention. As he made his way to the source a few ladies passed him muttering about Sara Lance. It struck him as odd that they would be talking about her, until he laid eyes on Sara, Nyssa and Barry all with frantic expressions in the middle of the dance floor.

"Oliver where is Felicity?" Barry asked as soon as he recognised him.

"I don't know," he admitted. He was still kind of stunned to see them there. He knew The Flash was expected to dock any day but he hadn't expected to see Sara again so soon.

"We need to find her now. Damian Smoak wants her," Sara said.

"Everyone get out!" Oliver yelled. He wouldn't be able to find her with the entire Ton here.

Everyone looked at him confused but no one moved.

"Ollie what's wrong?" Tommy asked quickly making his way over with Laurel firmly attached to his side.

"Sara!" Laurel gasped upon seeing her sister.

"Laurel," Sara said with a smile on her face as her older sister pulled her in for a ferocious hug.

"We need to find Felicity now," Sara stressed to her older sister.

Laurel seemed to understand the urgency in her sister's voice and turned to her husband, "Tommy it is time to close the ball," she said.

Tommy sighed and asked the servers to start ushering persons out. Barry and Nyssa went to stand watch at the main entrance while the various carriages were brought forward to collect their occupants. Two hours later, after everyone was gone, a complete search of the house and grounds revealed two dead, one of them a young server and another a well-dressed man no one could identify, and first-hand accounts of a large man that Felicity left with.

Chapter Text

It was the wee hours of the morning and a search of the surrounding area of Merlyn Estate had turned up no results. Felicity Queen was still missing and they all knew that Damian Smoak had kidnapped his niece. They knew she had to be wherever he was hiding. By some sort of unspoken agreement they gathered in the studyto figure out what to do next. Oliver was pacing wildly, while everyone else was calmly seated. Sara was perched by the window looking out over the dark grounds. Nyssa remained by the door observing everyone.

"Sara what are you doing here?" Diggle asked causing Oliver to stop pacing and focus on the blonde Lance.

"More importantly how did you know they were goingto take Felicity?" Oliver asked as he finally remembered Sara's first words to him were about Felicity. He had been so caught up in searching for his wife that he hadn't stopped to focus on what the Sara Lance's arrival might have meant.

Sara sighed heavily, "Now that he has Felicity he can begin the final phase of his plan."

"What? I'm not following?" Tommy said.

"HIVE Tommy, did you ever read Slade's letter?" Sara asked.

"No, I was just happy to be back," Tommy replied.

"But we stopped their plans in France and here. Oliver sent letters to his contacts in Europe to deal with the other warehouses," Robert said.

"You only stopped a few cells of the are countless more," Sara said.

"I'm lost," Tommy admitted. "Cells?"

"Think of it like a bee hive. There are many honey combs that make up the HIVE," she said slowly.

At Tommy's blank look Sara grabbed a piece of paper and started drawing a hexagonal design.

"These are the combs that the bees put honey in," she explained.

Tommy nodded.

Sara then drew a line through half the combs. "These are the amount of combs that Oliver got."

"So there are still combs out there?" Tommy said.

"How do we get the rest of them?" Diggle asked.

"We got to get the beekeeper right?" Laurel surmised. "He will know where all the combs are!"

"Yes the head of HIVE, or Lord Darkh as Slade said, also known as,"

"Damian Smoak," Oliver finished sourly.

"Yes we have to find him," Sara said.

"We've been trying," Lyla said.

"How did you gather this information?" Robert asked.

At this point Nyssa joined the conversation. "My father's men eventually tracked down the Englishman that warned the Russian in Cairo. We were fortunate in that he had just received a message from HIVE. He had decoded it and we were able to intercept it before he destroyed it. It was an order to gather in the safe places and wait for the final phase. It was also checking to see if Felicity Queen was still in Egypt. If she was, there were orders to capture her and keep her safe so the final phase could begin. I don't think he realised you were back yet."

"Since Felicity has been abducted, I think it's safe to safe that Damian Smoak is entering the final phase of his plan," Sara said.

"At least we know he won't hurt her," Thea said to her brother hoping it would console him.

Robert sighed, "Sara go home and see your father a bit. I know he left with the Inspectors and your mother left with him. We've had a long night. We'll regroup in the afternoon when we can think more clearly. I want everyone to bring all of the information they have, no matter how insignificant. There must be something that might lead to Damian," Robert said firmly.

Everyone nodded and made their way out of the library. Laurel immediately latched on to Sara and Nyssa followed silently behind. Moira and Walter were assisting with getting a room ready for Barry and Roy and Diggle were escorting Thea up to her room. Oliver was still pacing the library.

"That was an order Oliver. You can't help Felicity in this state. You need to be focused and able to think clearly when the time to strike comes son. Please try to rest," Robert said.

"I don't know why you would even think I would be able to sleep without her by my side," Oliver replied angrily.

"Then go and comfort your son. He doesn't know what happened yet but come morning time he's going to be very confused."

At the mention of Connor a guilty look passed over Oliver's hadn't even thought about the effect of Felicity's kidnapping on his son. Oliver gave his father a terse nod and exited the library. Robert looked up at the portrait of Malcolm Merlyn and poured himself a scotch. He lifted it in salute to the portrait.

"Old friend whatever trouble you have gotten us all into I hope you help get us out of it because it isn't only my son's life at stake. Your last living heir is in danger as well. Wherever you are, ask Lady Luck to join our side," Robert said before downing the scotch in one go.

S-2

Felicity gradually began to wake up. The first thing she became aware of was a slight pain behind her head. The next was that she was cold. She reached for Oliver but discovered he wasn't next to her. They usually awoke at the same time. He was always there when she woke up. He was her source of warmth. As her mind tried to process where Oliver had possibly gone to the events of the night before came crashing back. Her eyes opened and she looked around the room. She was in her room at SmoakEstate except it wasn't her room. There was nothing of Oliver's in the room. When they had moved back to Smoak Estate she added an extra dresser for Oliver. That wasn't there.

She slowly sat up. Her head started to throb but she knew she needed to push past the pain. She swung her legs over the side and made her way to the curtains. She pulled them aside and was greeted with a view of the sea. That confirmed it wasn't her old home. Damian had gone through the trouble to reproduce an exact replica of her room. Out of curiosity she opened the closet. All of her clothes were there even the ones that she thought hadbeen burnt at the Manor. A closer inspection of the room revealed that little trinkets and decorations that she had taken to Queen Manor with her were also in the room. Damian must have had all of her items removed from the Manor before it was burned to the ground. She wondered where the picture of her mother was.

She tried to change into one of her dresses but found it was a bit too small for her. She decided on a sari instead. She tested the door and found it unlocked. There was a guard at the door who glanced at her but made no move to stop her. She was in a long dark corridor with doors on each side. To her right the corridor ended so she decided to go left. The guard followed after her at a leisurely pace. The corridor led into a large room where she found her uncle seated with a paper.

"Felicity, you're finally awake!" he said happily.

"You kidnapped me," she accused him.

"I saved you," he corrected her.

"Where am I?" she asked.

"Welcome to Stonehaven," he said with a large smile.

Felicity glared, "Why are you doing this?"

The door on the other side of the room opened and a little girl came running into the room. She was maybe six or seven with shoulder length brown hair.

"Nora sweety, this is your older sister, Felicity," Damian said stopping the girl on her route to the corridor Felicity just came out of.

"Sister!" Felicity exclaimed. Damian was more delusional than she originally thought.

"Give us a little while together. She is still a little confused," Damian told the young girl.

The girl look curiously at Felicity. "Ok father," she said before she skipped off down the corridor.

"All of my siblings are dead. If my father had an outside child, which I'm fairly sure he didn't, I would have known about it," Felicity stated.

"The siblings you refer to were actually your 2nd cousins. The man you think of as your father is your first cousin," Damian clarified.

"You're insane," Felicity said looking around the room for an escape point. There was only that door that the girl Nora had emerged from.

Damian laughed, "Am I? You ask why I did this. Let's go back to the beginning. I was a mistake, the runt of the litter, a child far younger than his siblings that even my nieces and nephews were older than me. My eldest brother was already running the estate by the time I turned ten. I had no claim on anything yet my dying father's words were that if he could he would have left everything to me. I was the true heir. From that moment I plot to gain my inheritance."

"You killed your brothers and all the heirs," Felicity realised in shock. Isabelle had always commented about how weak the Smoak men were since they all seemed to drop dead easily.

"I did. They possessed what was mine," Damian said.

"They were family," Felicity argued.

"They were imposters," he countered.

"Did you kill my father?" she asked. "Was that why he was sick?"

"No. I allowed him to die naturally but Isabelle may have grown tired of waiting for him to die. I always got the impression she was hoping he would not live long," Damian commented.

"Why did you let him live?" she asked.

"Because of you. I had allowed you to get too attached to him and I knew it would harm you emotionally if I were to take him away too soon," Damian explained.

"You are not my father," Felicity insisted.

"Indeed I am. Just after your father married he had to travel for business. He asked me to remain with Donna. Even though she was older than me, I thought she would make the perfect wife. I used a herb to strongly suggest to her that she should entertain my advances. The herb left her with no memories of our night together. Nine months after I left you were born. I knew you were mine. By the time I returned to England, you were one year old. One look at you was all I needed to confirm that you were my daughter. Even at that young age I could see the same intelligence in you that I have. I understood what my father had seen in me at that moment."

"Edward Smoak is my father," Felicity stated. "Not you. He raised me and cared for me. Everything I am is because of him. Whatever you think happened, didn't."

"I may not have been physically present but I can assure you I had quite a say in how you were raised. I convinced your father to take you to India on that trip. I controlled the itinerary. Servants reported to me regularly on your progress. You are the person you are today because of me," he said proudly.

"You're wrong," Felicity said shaking her head tears leaking from her eyes.

"Name any significant event in your life and I'll tell you how I influenced it," Damian said with a smirk.

"My marriage to Oliver," was the first thing out of her mouth.

Damian frowned, "I admit that was the one thing I had not planned on. The initial plan was that as soon as Edward passed I would remove Isabelle and her spawn from the picture and take control myself. I would take you under my wing and leave you with the freedom to do what you wanted. Your marriage to Queen complicated my plans."

"It was the best thing that ever happened to me," Felicity stated sincerely. It was true. She could not imagine her what her life would be like without Oliver in it.

"If you behave, I might consider saving your husband for you," Damian offered her.

"We stopped you. We burnt your warehouses to the ground," Felicity said proudly.

Damian gave her a patronising look, "You merely destroyed a portion of my warehouses. I have enough to complete my plan and wipe out the current government system."

"Why would you want to do that?

"Because there are many idiots in power instead of those with the intellectual capacity to make the correct decisions. The history of Smoak Estate should have taught you how dangerous it is to have the wrong people in charge. After my father, Smoak Estate declined for years."

"Until my father took over," Felicity proudly pointed out.

"You and I both know that it was the guidance from Donna's father that saved Smoak Estate. Had I been in charge, Smoak Estate would have surpassed the wealth of the Queens and Merlyns combined. If I were running England the other countries would have cowered at our feet. All of the new world would belong to us. Join me for breakfast and I can share my vision with you," he said.

"I'm sorry. I think I lost my appetite," Felicity said turning around to head back to her room. She was momentarily startled when the light revealed that her guard had his lips sewn shut. Damian gave a few commands to her guard while she walked quickly back to her room.

S-3

Quentin Lance stared at his youngest daughter. She seemed to have matured and come into her own over the last 5 years. There was an exotic woman with her, he assumed this was the friend Nyssa she mentioned in her letter to him, part of the reason she was refusing to return home. She had turned up at his door early in the morning with Nyssa, Laurel and his grandchildren. He knew she had been at Merlyn Estate the night before but he had to leave to report the incident with Lady Queen to the chief inspector. He had been helping mount a search for her all night and had just returned when he heard the knock at the front entrance followed a minute later by his wife calling for him immediately. He arrived at the front entrance to find Sara encased in Dinah's arms. His wife ushered her in and invited her to have breakfast with them. A true Lance Family breakfast Dinah had called it.

Quentin tried to recall the last time he remembered sharing breakfast with her, "Are you going to say something? Sara asked interrupting his thoughts.

"What do you expect me to say? Before I could get to the bottom of the rumours Isabelle Smoak spread about you, you ran away all be it confirming the suspicions."

Sara gave a bitter laugh, "Father you and I both know that there was no disputing it. By the time the night was over, Isabelle had the whole Ton eating out of the palm of her hands. I was ruined but at the same time I was free. I was free of this life and I took advantage of that to help Ollie find a way to bring Laurel and Tommy home," Sara said.

Quentin was going to say something but Dinah reached for her husband's hand and squeezed it, "Quentin let it go. Whatever happened is in the past. Both of our girls have finally been returned to us.
Do you want to sit there and be angry with Sara or do you want to enjoy the first breakfast as a family we've had in over five years!"

Quentin was silent.

"Great, I think a little pray is in order before our meal," Dinah said linking her other hand with Laurel.

Quentin bowed his head and completed the circle holding Sara's hand while Dinah gave thanks to the Lord for the safe return of their daughters. She also prayed for the Lord's protection from what was to come and the safe return of Lady Queen.

S-4

Tommy felt very guilty about Felicity's kidnapping. If he hadn't had a party she would not have been kidnapped. Laurel tried to comfort him but there was no comfort to be had when he saw the pain in his best friend's face. Oliver was going crazy. Just after breakfast, Oliver had stormed out. He got on a horse and he rode off to parts unknown. The papers were already covered with headlines about the missing Felicity Queen, the third Queen tragedy. Many spoke of a curse that had descended on the Queen family. There had already been reports that some business were thinking of pulling their business from the Queen shipping line. They did not want to be affected by the curse. The Meryln businesses hadn't experienced that yet but Tommy suspected it would only be a matter of time after it became quite clear that he was going to maintain his friendship with the Queens.

"I believe Lord Merlyn that drinking before lunch is frowned upon," a soft voice said to him.

Tommy turned around to find the maid that assisted Felicity. Tommy didn't know much about her just that her name was Lyla and she had contacts on the streets.

"I thought you would have been out looking for Felicity?" Tommy said.

"John and I already spoke to all of our contacts. The result is the same as it has always been," Lyla said.

Tommy exhaled heavily, that was not good news for Oliver.

"It's not your fault you know. In fact you may have saved lives," Lyla said.

Tommy snorted, "I highly doubt that. Oliver is the life saver not me."

"From what I understand, Damian was determined to get her. He could have come in here guns ablaze and killed everyone but the party allowed him to take her discreetly. It probably saved our lives. It also means that we are all alive to get her back and we will get her back Tommy. I'm positive of that."

"I don't know how you can be so sure of that when we have no idea where she is," Tommy replied bitterly.

"Not yet but I know we will soon. What Lord Queen needs is for us to keep the hope alive. Lord Merlyn your friend probably needs you now more than ever. Don't mope in this study. Be the friend he needs," Lyla said.

Tommy stared at her and then nodded. "Got any idea where he is?"

Lyla smiled and relayed her information to him. John would be very pleased that she succeeded in convincing Lord Merlyn to help ground Lord Queen.

S-5

Felicity was feeling hungry. From the sun's position in the sky she knew it coming up to lunch time. She had watched the sun creep across the sky. It gave her a lot of information. She was able to determine that she was on the south coast of England. From the boats she saw she figured she was closer to Dover. She knew if she could get down to the sea she could try to escape that way. The hunger pains were getting worse and worse. Usually she would be able to ignore them but she found that her body would not let her.

She decided to leave her room to find the kitchen. As expected there was a guard standing outside her room, Murmur she believed Damian had called him. She wondered if he could murmur with his lips sewn shut. He stood there watching her. He made no effort to send her back into her room. She followed the corridor down to the room she first met Damian in, Murmur following behind her. She opened the door and came to a large landing. On the left was a large balcony to look out at the sea and on the right was a staircase. There was a door opposite her which she guessed led to another wing of bedrooms. The kitchen would be located downstairs. She eyed her guard as she approached the stairs but he didn't stop her. He just followed slowlybehind her.

At the base of the stairs there was a portrait of Damian with a middle aged woman and a baby which she guessed was Nora. This was Damian's family. She stared at the portrait awhile noting the smiles on their faces.

"You've decided to grace us with your presence," a feminine voice with a slight French accent said behind her.

Felicity turned and was met with an older version of the woman in the painting. She turned back to double check the painting. Yeap it was definitely her.

"Yes that is me. I am Ruvé Smoak. It's lunch time, follow me. You must be terribly hungry having skipped breakfast," she said.

Felicity's stomach growled and she reluctantly followed. The downstairs seemed similar to the upstairs with long corridors and doors on either side. They came to a large foyer which was the main entrance. The door was open and Felicity peered out. There was a large courtyard with a large statute of a mermaid in the middle. One either side of the courtyard were two well cut lawns with flowers. She realised that the house was designed so that one side had a view of the sea and the other side a view of the garden and courtyard. If she was not being held hostage, she's fairly sure she would have thought the place beautiful.

The woman stopped at door, "I'm afraid my husband is busy with business but we can have lunch together. Nora will have lunch with her governess," Ruvé said before opening the door.

The dining room was exquisite. The table was fully laid and not a setting was out of place. The large windows allowed an unrestricted view of the rose bushes in the garden.

"I thought Damian would want to overlook the sea," Felicity quipped.

"There's another room that overlooks the sea. He can eat there when he wants. I'm not fond of the sea. It took Damian a lot of convincing to get me to cross the channel. At least I can see France from here," she commented.

"You're French," Felicity said stating the obvious.

"Yes I met Damian years ago. We've been married for 10 years."

"Do you know what he is doing?" Felicity asked fiercely.

"He's building the new world order he promised me," Ruvé said with a proud smile.

"You're crazy too," Felicity said incredulously.

"Am I? Every last member of my family was beheaded on the guillotine because of the whim of the French King. He is leading our country to ruin. He must be removed. He is only king because he was the first born son of the previous king. He is a spoiled stupid brat that does not understand how France should be run."

"We stopped your plan in France," Felicity said.

"You only stopped part of it. It is so much large than you can imagine. Now that you are here, the final phase can begin," Ruvé said with an evil smirk.

A black servant came out with soup for the first course.

"I understand you enjoy Frenchcuisine. It's quite fortunate since that's all the cooks are ordered to serve," Ruvé said.

All conversation stopped as Ruvé enjoyed her soup. The smell was too tempting to resist and Felicity tried it as well. It was indeed very good. The main soon reappeared and removed their soup dishes. It was soon replaced by beef bourguignon and red wine, however the maid didn't offer Felicity any wine.

"No wine for me?" Felicity questioned.

"Women in your condition are not allowed to drink, Damian's rule," Ruvé said.

"So prisoners aren't allowed wine?" Felicity pushed.

"Don't pretend like you don't know what I'm talking about," Ruvé responded.

Felicity snorted."There's a guard posted outside my room that sounds like prisoner to me," she insisted.

Ruvé eyed her critically, "You haven't realised yet?"

"I think it's fairly obvious I'm a prisoner," Felicity responded.

"I suppose since it's your first one you may not have realised. You've been fairly lucky only mild nausea, no other signs really but you have been putting on a little weight," Ruvé said eyeing the Sari that Lady Queen was wearing.

"I've been husband is driving me to eat," Felicity said defending her weight gain.

"That would be his grandson's fault not his," Ruvé said wisely.

"Grandson?" Felicity repeated in astonishment.

"My husband claimed you were bright but you don't seem to be catching on," she said witha perverse smile. "I'll spell it out for you, you are with child."

Felicity laughed, "You are just as delusional as Damian."

"Am I? When was the last time you bled?"Ruvé asked.

Felicity opened her mouth to answer but found she didn't have an immediate answer. She had been so busy lately she had not been paying attention to her body. Was this why Oliver told her to take it easy last week. Had he suspected she was with child?

"You can't remember. I 'll give you the answer 2 months ago."

Felicity's mouth fell open. How could they know that about her?

"We kept a close eye on you,"Ruvé said as she swirled the wine in her glass before taking a sip.

"That's why Damian left Smoak Estate to my male heir but how is everyone so sure it will be a boy?" Felicity said with indignation.

"With a man like Oliver Queen it will be a boy. All the first born Queens are male."

"He already has Connor," Felicity pointed out.

"But you didn't birth him. Your first child will be a boy," Ruvé said confidently.

"This is all ridiculous," Felicity said.

Ruvé didn't answer and instead focused on her meal. Felicity decided to do the same. She took a bite of the beef bourguignon. It was delicious. She couldn't put her hunger aside any longer and she ate. When the maid placed a second smaller portion in front of her she ate that too while Ruvé smirked.

S-6

The last persons to walk into the study that afternoon were Tommy and Oliver. Oliver knuckles were severely bruised but no one said anything about it. Tommy was in good spirits and Oliver seemed to be a lot better than he was the night before. Walter decided to take the lead by reviewing everything they knew about the enemy. Walter started interviewing every person that had ever interacted with Damian. Walter asked deep probing questions looking for information that person might have overlooked as having no meaning. It was in interrogating Oliver that Barry remembered something.

"He's on the south coast," Barry blurted out loudly as the realisation hit him.

Everyone turned to Barry. It was clear that they wanted an explanation.

"Years ago, before my dad was thrown in prison, we were visiting Uncle Edward. Remember Isabelle Smoak used to throw that big autumn bash," Barry explained.

Oliver's lips curled in disgust at the memory. Isabelle had always been overly flirty with him.

"Damian was there one year. I remember him telling my dad that he watched our boat sailing towards South Hampton from his balcony. We had just come back from a trip to Rotterdam. I bet he's somewhere on the south coast close to Dover."

"There is no town called Stonehaven in the south," Oliver said.

"Maybe it's the name of a house. We don't know the names of every house down there," Barry pointed out.

"So what are you suggesting?" Diggle asked.

"I'm think we should split up into two teams, one start at Dover and move West and the other at Portsmouth and move East. We search each town, village and hamlet till we find Stonehaven."

"You're positive we will find something,"

"Yes, Damian definitely gave the impression that that was where he lived. That he was doing so well for himself that he could afford a large house that overlooked the sea. That is where he is. I'm 100% sure," Barry said confidently.

Oliver stood quickly from his seat, "I'll get the horses," he said leaving no room for debate.

Robert pulled out a large map of England.

"Oliver, Diggle, Lyla, Barry, you start at Portsmouth. Roy, Sara, Nyssa and myself can start at Dover," Robert said.

"And me," Thea added.

"No," Robert said firmly.

"If it were me missing, Felicity would be out there turning over every store to look for me. I know what it feels like to be thrown aside and forgotten. I am not doing that to my sister-in-law. My suitors suddenly disappeared again now that the third tragedy has hit the Queen family. Well we Queens are much tougher than the Ton thinks. I am going out there and I am getting Felicity back," Thea said before marching out of the room to go and change.

Robert sighed, there was no use arguing with her daughter. It was better she was with them than out of her own trying to find Felicity.

"Roy, your only task during this search is to keep Thea safe," Robert told him.

"Yes sir," Roy answered.

S-7

The next day Felicity found Nora in the garden playing. She had a small setup for tea with four dolls as her guests.

"May I join you?" Felicity asked.

Nora looked warily at her, "You're the one. The one my father keeps expecting me to be like," she said.

Felicity was stunned and didn't know what to say to that. The fact that Damian pressured his daughter to be like her was not something that Felicity liked. Nora ignored Felicity and continued playing with her dolls. Felicity decided not to push the little girl and instead settled on walking around the grounds. Her shadow was there again, watching her carefully.

She decided to test him and see how far away from the building she was allowed to walk. She made it to the tree line before he moved in front of her and shook his head.

"What does that mean?" Felicity said playing dumb and trying to step passed him.

His hand landed on her wrist and pulled her back firmly. He was much stronger than he looked. Felicity reluctantly took a step back away from the tree line and turned around to head back to the house when she heard a noise in the bush. Her head snapped around and her heart rate picked up. Had Oliver found her? Was he there in the bushes and was he coming for her.

"Oliver?" she called out. "I'm here. Help me," she said.

Murmur next to her tensed but there were no other noises. She focused intently through the trees and eventually saw a bushy tail with a white end moving through the bush. It was a fox. She sighed in defeat and the fox stopped to look at her. In its mouth was a chicken. She laughed. She had heard Ruvé complaining about someone stealing the chickens. Her someone was a fox. Go fox! Felicity thought. Murmur didn't appear to notice the animal so Felicity headed back to the house. She didn't want Ruvé having the fox shot. She'll find a way out of there soon, if not that day then another. She planned on tackling the part of the estate on the sea side the next day.

S-8

Besides the servants and Laurel, Merlyn Estate felt empty to Moira Queen. Her husband, children and three of their most trusted servants had all left in an attempt to scour the south coast in search of her daughter-in-law. She was only left with Walter. She rather suspected that Robert knew the true nature of the relationship between her and Walter. He could hardly judge he had several mistresses. She had never intended to sleep with Walter, she had just wanted to flirt and lash out at her husband but Walter's gentleness and general respect for human life caused her to fall in love with him.

Her relationship with Walter was wrong on so many levels. She was a married woman, he was a servant and a black one at that too but that hadn't stopped her. She knew Walter disapproved of what she was trying to do with Thea. After all how could she force her daughter away from the young stable hand when she herself was finding comfort in the black butler? He had told her as much and it came with that look that said he was sorely disappointed in her. Moira defended her position though. She already had position and power. Thea did not and hooking up with the stable hand no matter what his redeeming qualities were, was not going to get her anywhere. In the end they agreed to disagree on that matter.

"Walter is all of this punishment for my transgressions?" Moira asked the butler as she swirled the wine in her glass.

"No, this is the unravelling of a plot that I suspect was hatched a long time ago," Walter answered wisely.

Moira nodded and continued staring at her wine. She was supposed to be entertaining a few ladies of the Ton tonight but none had shown. If Thea were there she would have smirked at her. She had to admit that she understood her daughter's point. It would have been nice to have the support of friends during this trying time.

"Walter bring the carriage around to the front. I think I'm going to go pay a visit to my friends," Moira said.

Walter arched an eyebrow but didn't say anything. He knew that tone and it didn't bode well for the women that Moira was visiting.

S-9

Roy was working very hard to keep a close eye on Thea. If anything were to happen to her, he would be skinned alive. They had left Dover and were heading to Folkstone when Thea spotted some movements in the bushes. She recognised the form as a red fox and decided to chase it. Roy chased after her while the others waited for them to return. Thea had always heard about fox hunting and wanted to take a shot at it. Roy remembered that an important part of fox hunting was the hounds but Thea didn't seem to care about that. He was trying to keep an eye on her as well as keep his sense of direction. The last thing they needed was to get lost in the woods. Eventually, Thea pulled up having lost the fox.

"That creature is more agile than I thought!" she said. "No wonder they like to chase it."

"Can we get back to the road now?" Roy asked.

"Yes," Thea said looking around. "Uh, which way is the road?"

Roy rolled his eyes. She was always reckless.

"It is this way," he said pointing off to the side. The fox had taken them on many twists and turns but if he was right the road was about 3 km to their right.

Thea nodded but just as they were heading off they heard a noise through the bushes.

"Sounds like a carriage," Thea said cocking her head to the side to listen carefully.

"Yes, wait here," Roy said dismounting his horse, tying it to a tree and heading in the direction of the noise.

300 meters later he came upon a small dirt road. Roy didn't remember passing any dirt roads before. He stayed in the tree line and followed the dirt road up to a clearing where a large statue of a mermaid sat. Getting out of the carriage Roy recognised Damian Smoak. They had found it. They had found Stonehaven. Just before he turned around he noticed the fox darting to the side of the house. He decided to slowly back away from the house. The two guards at the entrance looked armed. He stumbled into Thea.

"I thought I told you to stay with the horses," he whispered harshly.

Thea shrugged, "I wanted to see what it was."

"We found it now we need to get the hell out of here and tell the others," Ron said quickly.

Her eyes lit up. "That's great," she said moving off to her right.

"The horses are the other way," Ron said through gritted teeth.

"Oh right," Thea said turning around and heading in the opposite direction.

Roy looked to the heavens, what had he done to be punished this way.

S-10

Felicity had been at Stonehaven for four days. She had pretty much mapped the inside of the house as well as some of the grounds that she had walked. Her shadow was always with her and there were rooms she was not allowed to enter, most of them the servants. She figured out where all the servants were staying and which room belonged to which servant. The room that she really wanted to get into was Damian's study. The first night that she had been there he had come home with that huge man and headed straight into that room. She figured that was his private study and it had to be where he had his documents pertaining to the plan. He had to run his network from somewhere. That office had to be the place. The only problem now was how to get into it unsupervised.

Her shadow today was an Asian man of average height. Damian called him Komodo. She wondered if it was a reference to the Komodo dragon. Murmur hadn't let her near the seaside yet and she was ready to test Komodo to see if he had the same instructions. She entered the garden through the main entrance. The two guards there acknowledged her. She realised that it was one shift for the day and a different shift for the night. The same men were circling the grounds as usual and she pretended to be interested in the rose bushes today. From there she could try to circle around to the back of the house. She got a lot further today before Komodo stopped her. She was able to catch sight of what looked like the start of some steps that headed down the cliff. Perhaps there was a small beach with a boat she could use to escape. Felicity started forming a plan in her head but first she needed to take a midnight stroll.

S-11

The Dover group had gathered in a small inn one town away from Stonehaven. Sara had been sent to find Oliver's group. While they were waiting for the other group to join up with them, they had made several trips to Stonehaven. The front entrance was always guarded by two guards. The sides each had a guard and there was a patrol that swept the woods. Thea and Roy had been very lucky not to run into them when they initially discovered the compound. On one survey they saw Felicity. They were thankful Oliver wasn't there with them because he would not have hesitated to retrieve her there and then.

They noticed that Felicity was allowed to roam the gardens but there was always a guard a few feet from her. They also noticed that when she was in the gardens that the amount of guards on the grounds increased. They were happy that Felicity was safe and fairly free but at the same time it complicated the plan because she could be located anywhere on the grounds when they stormed. It would have been much easier if she had been locked in a room. They definitely would not make an attempt when she was on the grounds in the open. She could possibly get hurt. It was safer if she was in the house and hopefully in a room she could lock herself in.

By the time Oliver arrived they had a full map of the grounds, the position and timing for the guard rotations and a plan for storming Stonehaven. They knew if they started off the plan with pistols it would alert too many persons. They were going to use bows and arrows and spears. They were going to tackle the group in the forest first, interrogate them about the layout of the Manor and then retrieve Felicity.

Chapter Text

Oliver had been forced to wait three days while his father and Walter finalised the finer details of the plan to retrieve Felicity. He hadn't even been allowed anywhere near Stonehaven or informed about its exact location because his family was concerned he might storm the building on his own. Everyone who had been on scouting duty had seen Felicity. He had been told several times that she was fine and in good health but that held little weight for him. He needed to see her with his own eyes to confirm what they were telling him. His hands were itching to hold her and pull her into his arms. He missed the smell of her hair, the sound of her gentle laughter, the way her eyes lit up when she teased him, he could go on and on listing all of the nuances of his wife. It came down to one simple truth about his life. He needed his wife. A life without Felicity wasn't worth living. If anything did happen to her, he would endure for his son's sake but he would never be the same man again.

Both his father and Walter felt they had a better chance of successfully infiltrating Stonehaven at night. The moon was in the dark cycle and it would be easier to hide in the trees undetected. A guard could walk right by you and not realise. There was also the added bonus that at night they had a fair idea of where Felicity was going to be located, upstairs in a bedroom. They just needed to figure out which bedroom.

The first step was to disable the guards that patrolled the forest first. The second step was to pry information out of the guards about the interior layout of the building on the grounds. They made several educated guesses from the outside but they needed confirmation. The third step was to remove the guards that patrolled the grounds before they infiltrated the house. Inside the house, one person would be sent for Felicity while the others neutralised any threats in the house. If all went according to plan they would be out of the house by dawn with Felicity.

S-2

Oliver was buzzing with energy when the night finally arrived. Their plan depended heavily on the guards inside the house not being alerted to what was going on outside thus they needed silent weapons. Pistols would not work. Oliver had prepared over fifty arrows for the raid. He as an excellent marksman with a bow. Diggle was excellent with a spear and carried three on his back. Sara was good with a bow staff and Nyssa preferred her sword. Roy was only skilled in street fighting but Oliver was able to teach to the boy to use a bow and arrow. He's wasn't great but he could still hit a few targets. Some was better than none.

Oliver paired with Diggle was tasked with handling the guards in the forest north west of the main building. Sara, Nyssa and Roy were in north east part. The two men waited silently for the patrol of guards they knew would pass soon. Oliver was the first to spot the shapes moving through the bushes. It was a team of three guards. Oliver withdrew an arrow from his quiver and aimed for the guard in the back first. He then drew two more arrows hitting the other two men. With the men distracted Diggle knocked each man out. They carried each man to the horses they had tied up 300 metres away. They swung them over the back of one horse and then made their way back to the main road. Once on the road they rode for a kilometre before they came to the Queen carriage parked discreetly at the side of the road behind some bushes.

The other team was already there with two unconscious men bound and was pleased to see things were running smoothly.

"Someone in the carriage already?" Oliver asked.

"Yeah. Tommy chose the youngest guy hoping he would crack first," Sara told him.

S-3

Robert, Tommy and Walter stared at the young thug in the carriage with them. He was probably no older than sixteen. He most likely came from a bad background and was doing what was needed to stay alive. They had chosen the youngest one hoping his inexperience could be used against him and they could manipulate him into helping them.

The boy was very resistant. They were Lords and just because of their title he refused to help them. No Lord had ever helped him or his family when they were suffering. Time seemed to accelerate and they decided to try another guard. They slowly worked their way through the men Sara's team had apprehended garnering only a little information. Oliver's set didn't add much either. They did find one man willing to talk for coins but he didn't know much.

Walter used the information from the men to refine the map of the building as they talked. No one knew where Felicity's bedroom was, just which wing she was in. They were told she was Damian's daughter and she slept in the family wing. The only people that knew the exact location was Damian, his wife, his daughter, the butler and a guy named Murmur but he was physically incapable of telling them anything.

Robert relayed the information to the team quickly. Oliver frowned at the declaration that Felicity was Damian's daughter. The man had definitely gone stark raving mad if he believed that but he pushed the information aside. They had a deadline to keep and the sun would be rising in a couple hours. They needed to be in and out by dawn.

S-4

After taking out the three guards that patrolled the courtyard and the grounds in front of the house, the team made their way to the main entrance. Robert had suggested that the best point of entry was the front door. It was the closest to the staircase that was needed to get to Felicity. Just as they passed the mermaid statue in the large courtyard, a loud horn sounded on the property. It was clearly some type of security alarm. They had obviously missed something. The group stopped and looked at each other for a moment. Should they head forward or should they retreat into the trees? Oliver clearly wasn't going to let the horn stop him and he was signalling for them to keep advancing. Suddenly the front door flew open and men started pouring out with cursed their luck.

They all dived behind the base of the statue. The mermaid was seated on top of a block of stone that was six feet tall and eight feet long. It served as the centre piece of a roundabout for the carriages to drive around. The base provided them with enough cover to avoid the first round of bullets but it also pinned them down. They would be vulnerable to attack from the forest. It was still fairly dark so it was difficult for the men to get an aim on them but it would all change once the sun rose.

The new guards seemed eager to finish the battle and decided to advance on their position. Oliver and Roy each nocked an arrow and started aiming at the moving shapes. Oliver was by far more accurate and quicker. Since the enemy already knew they were there, Diggle decided to use the pistols that he carried with him just as a backup. Diggle was a great shot and between him and Oliver they had the men retreating back to the doorway for cover.

They seemed to be at an impasse but Oliver knew that the longer this drew out the more the odds shifted in Damian Smoak's favour. They needed to come up with a new plan.

S-5

Felicity sat up quickly when she heard the horn go off. She had no idea what was going on but she jumped out of bed, into her waiting slippers. She pulled her gown around her and made her way to her bedroom door. When she opened it, she spotted Damian making his way down the corridor with his butler. The Australian man who had arrived the day before was the guard posted by her door that night. Damian had called him Captain Boomerang, a nickname that man had picked up after killing someone with a boomerang. She had no idea where Murmur was.

"Felicity it appears your husband has figured out you are here," Damian said with a laugh. "Pity he has no idea what he is up against."

"I think you have no idea what you're up against," she countered.

Damian ignored her and looked at her guard, "Lock her in her room and then come with me," he instructed.

Felicity walked back into her room and listened to the key turn in the door. She ran to her closet and pulled out her riding clothes. Damian had been gracious enough to give her a pair of breeches and she knew she was going to need them tonight. The long skirts of her dresses and saris would just keep her back. The sound of the first pistol going off made her jump. Her heart soared into her chest and she prayed her husband was unhurt. She doubled the speed at which she was dressing. Once she was dressed, she went to the door. She had picked up a knife from the dining table two days before and used that to damage the lock inside the door. You would hear the lock turn but it wouldn't engage.

Felicity slowly opened the door and was pleased to find the corridor empty. The sounds of the pistols being fired was numerous now and she knew that there was a gun battle going on in the courtyard.

Escaping should be her number one priority but she knew she had to stop Damian's plan. She walked down the corridor and through the door to the landing at the top of the stairs. The door to the other wing of bedrooms was wide open. The extra men that were sleeping there had all been called into duty at the sound of the horn. Worry gnawed at her gut as she thought about her husband's safety. Did they know how many guards slept upstairs? Did they know what kind of back-up plans Damian had in place? She should have been there to plan with them.

She made it to the base of the stairs. If she turned right she would be heading towards the main entrance where the men were. If she turned left, she would go down the corridor to where Damian's study was. She turned left. She placed her ear on the door and she heard Damian's voice and the voice of this butler. They were probably discussing the attack. There was a little alcove Felicity could hide in a few feet down the corridor. She would have a clear view of the door from there. She was positive at some point, Damian would come out to talk to Oliver. She just had to sit and wait. The sound of the gunshots were dying down and she didn't know if it was because one side had won or if they were both at an impasse.

S-6

The first of the sun's rays were beginning to break through the sky. It served as an indicator to Oliver that they were well behind schedule. They should be on the road heading back with Felicity. They had managed to pick off most of the men but there was still one or two preventing them from storming the building. New orders had obviously been issued to them because they only fired when they tried to make their way towards the building.

With the light Oliver could see the holes in the building Diggle's bullets created. He also saw a few arrows stuck in the front door as well as few off target. Those would all be Roy's. The sun was now completely above the horizon and Oliver had the sinking suspicion that they were in deep trouble.

"Lord Queen," a voice called out to him.

Oliver peeked over the top of the stone to see Damian walking out flanked by two men, who Oliver assumed were probably his lieutenants. All three were unarmed and Oliver would not shoot an unarmed man, no matter how much he wanted to. Diggle and Sara stood down automatically but he had to order Nyssa and Roy not to make any threatening advances against him since they had no problem with killing him even if he was unarmed.

"You're outnumbered Lord Queen," Damian said smugly.

"I think it's the other way around," Oliver said stepping away from the statue with an arrow nocked.

Damian laughed at him, "I don't think so."

The sound of horses' hooves hitting the ground soon reached his ears. The sound was getting closer and closer. From the shift in his team's posture he realised his team had heard it too.

"You must have missed my little pigeon this morning. You sorely underestimated the amount of men I have at my disposal," Damian boasted.

"We must retreat into the trees," Nyssa said. "We have to get there before they get into the courtyard."

Sara, Nyssa and Roy ran forward first, while Diggle provided cover with his gun in case someone from the house shot at followed behind them with Diggle. They just managed to step behind a tree when fifty men on horses arrived. Damian and his other men who emerged from the house, pointed at the tree line and they started firing in that direction. Oliver and Roy were running low on arrows and Diggle was out of ammunition. He used two of his spears to hit men who had advanced close to the treeline.

The sound of more horses thundering towards them made them think that all hope was lost until the glimmering Queen carriage caught their eyes. Oliver had always hated the gold trim that his father put on the carriage. The sun reflecting off of it made the carriage stand out when most of the time he was trying to get by unnoticed. Today, he couldn't help but feel that it was a glimmering angel that was coming to their rescue. Tommy was helming the horses tucked behind the wooden seat so that he had some sort of barrier between him and the guns. Robert and Walter were kind of hanging out the windows with pistols in their hands firing at the men.

S-7

Walter, Robert and Tommy had seen a mass of men ride quickly pass them and they knew immediately that they were headed to Stonehaven. Tommy picked up a pistol that they had stored in the carriage. "I hope you remember how to shoot Lord Queen because we're going to need that skill now," he said before jumping out of the carriage and getting the horses ready. He was thankful that they had listened to him when he suggested that they keep a cache of pistols in the carriage so if they needed to fall back, they had a position with weapons to fall back to. Though in this case, the position with weapons was going to move towards them.

As the treeline gave way to a large courtyard, Tommy saw a mass of men, some still on their horses firing into the treeline. He jumped behind his seat, fitting himself into the tight space between the seat and carriage. He pulled on the reigns and aimed for the men. A few turned their guns to him but most scampered to get out of the way of the carriage. A few were thrown from their horse and Tommy didn't stop to think about any humps that he went over as he went through the courtyard. He managed to slow the horses down enough for them to swing around the statue without tipping the carriage on its side. It was very close though. He knew two of the carriage's wheels had lifted off the ground but they managed to make it around. They stopped on the opposite side of the men and resumed firing at them. It effectively pinned the men between them and the other team in the treeline. Some men hid behind the statue and others tried to retreat into the trees where the other team would take them out in hand to hand combat.

S-8

The ammunition finished fast and an all-out brawl started in the courtyard between the team and those men left standing. Diggle came face to face with a man who had his lips sewn shut. His last spear was embedded in a man behind his opponent which left him with his bare hands to fight versus the knife that his opponent held. This was going to be tricky. Everyone was engaged with someone, even Robert, Walter and Tommy were fighting one man.

His opponent lunged towards him and Diggle parried to the right avoiding the blade. Even though Diggle was taller and stronger, the the man showed no fear of him. His opponent made up for his lack of strength with speed and agility. He lunged at him again but Diggle wasn't fast enough and the knife slide through his right bicep. Diggle knew he needed to dismiss him quickly. They had been fighting since last night and they were all very weary. He could see his team was slowing down. It was sheer will and determination that was driving them forward at this point.

His opponent lunged forward again but this time Diggle timed him. He stepped toward the oncoming assault surprising the man. Just before the knife would make contact with him, Diggle twisted his body to the side, he placed on hand on the man's elbow and the other hand on the man's hand that held the knife. He then pulled the man's elbow towards his own body while he pushed the man's hand towards the man's body, making sure the knife pointed into his opponent's chest. The knife embedded in his opponent's chest to the hilt. The man dropped to the ground with a satisfying thud and he ran over to help Oliver who was facing off against three men.

S-9

Roy felt like he was back in the streets fighting for his life. He was no stranger to brawls, having experienced his first brawl when he was four. You learn to fight and defend yourself fast on the streets. He had never fought someone who talked so much though. Usually you get about the business of beating the crap out of each other but not this man. He wanted Roy to know his name was Komodo which was apparently supposed to mean something to Roy. When Roy didn't balk at the name, the man went on to list the people he killed and how killed them.

"Listen man are we going to fight or talk?" Roy said throwing a punch at Komodo.

The man avoided the punch and countered with a kick which Roy was able to block.

"I've been killing people since before you were born," Komodo sneered.

"I suppose it's easy to kill people who don't know how to fight back. Do you always try to talk to death the people that can fight back?" Roy queried with a sharp sarcastic edge.

He was standing in front of the statue. Komodo surged forward and Roy dodged, moving to the side along the length of the statue. He then disappeared around the side of the statue.

"Did you think I would fall for a stupid trick like running into the statue?" Komodo said following Roy around the side of the statue only to find him gone. Komodo turned around expecting Roy to have run around the statue to try to come up behind him but he felt a sharp pain hit the top of his head before he collapsed.

"No, I thought you would be too busy yapping to realise I had jumped on top the statue," Roy said to the unconscious man with a cocky smile on his face.

He spotted his bow on the ground and remembered there were quite a few arrows that had missed their targets near the house. An idea formed in his mind.

S-10

Sara had dispatched several men who had severely underestimated her skills in battle. She was currently facing a tall man with a bald head. Sara had landed several hits with her bow staff but it was as if the man didn't feel pain. It was like hitting a brick wall. He was strong too. One hit from him sent her flying backwards, hitting the ground with a loud thud and banging her head against the gravel. It was very disorienting, she would probably be dead if Roy hadn't help her out by recycling a few arrows from his missed shots into the shoulder of the brick wall. He was standing proudly next to that stupid mermaid aiming at some men that were converging on the Queen Carriage. It was only a momentary distraction for the walking wall though and he ordered two men to tackle Roy.

Sara used her speed and agility to attack. She had to land her blows and then get out of range. She was hoping she would wear him down but she seemed to be the one getting tired. She got a good blow in with the butt of her staff to his solo plexus which would have brought a normal man down but it did nothing to him. She was too slow on her retreat and his large hand grabbed her by her throat. He lifted her off the ground and she tried to kick him with her feet while she used her hands to loosen his grip but nothing was working. The edge of her vision was beginning to go black. Her lungs burned for air and her limbs started to feel like lead.

She remembered when she was young her father brought her a yellow canary. He had purchased it from a merchant on the docks. A ship from South Africa had brought a few of the birds for sale as an exotic bird. It sang all the time. Sara loved it but no one else liked it. Her mind flashed to another scene where she was talking to Laurel before her older sister's debutante ball. Laurel told her to pay close attention to the procedures for the debutante. In two years it would be her turn to debut. It was the first time Sara realised she felt like the Canary trapped in its cage. She was next in the streets of London having run away after the Lady Rochev incident. She met a man named Anthony Ivo that promised to help her with her search for The Russian. At the time he had claimed that The Russian had kidnapped his wife and sold her into slavery in Egypt and he was headed there to find her. She did not know that he was the second in command of the Amazo and it was a trap to capture her and pump her for information to figure out what the Queens knew. Her next memory was of frantically running through the alleys in Cairo. Ivo's men had underestimated her and she managed to catch them off guard and run. Just as they were about to catch up to her, an exotic woman with warm brown eyes appeared. She used the sword she carried expertly to disembowel each man.

Suddenly, Sara was on her hands and knees on the ground coughing violently. In front of her lay the body of the brick wall face down on the ground, a large sword, covered with blood, buried in his back. She looked up into the lovey eyes of the same exotic woman that saved her many years ago in Cairo.

"It's ok love. I'm right here," She said her hands tenderly caressing Sara's face.

"I love you," Sara said leaning into Nyssa's hands.

Nyssa smiled, "I love you too but it might be more prudent for us to skip the usual love making that follows our love declarations and get back to fighting."

Sara tried to laugh only to go into another coughing fit.

"Is she ok?" Sara heard Oliver ask.

"She'll be fine," Nyssa replied to him.

"I think we took care of most of these guys. I'm going to confront Damian," Oliver said.

"Best of luck," she said.

Sara turned her head to the side and watched his back as he headed towards the front entrance where Damian Smoak had watched the whole battle.

S-11

Felicity saw the sun's rays breaking forth into the building. She knew whatever advantage Oliver had in the dark was probably gone now. She heard the door to Damian's study open and she pushed herself into the alcove more. The door closed and she heard footsteps moving away from her. She looked down the corridor to see Damian, the butler, Murmur and the Captain moving towards the main entrance. Damian, Murmur and his butler turned towards the entrance but the Australian man kept walking, probably heading to the staircase to get her. She didn't have much time.

Felicity entered the study and surveyed it quickly. The oil lamps were still burning and there were many documents scattered about. The sound of gun fire started up again. She picked up a lamp and started scanning the documents, reading as quickly as she could the information contained on each. The window to the study shattered when a stray bullet came through the glass. Shards of glass cut through her clothes but she paid them no attention. She was focused on stopping her uncle's insane plans.

A few minutes later the door flung open and Ruvé appeared with the Australian man.

"Captain please retain our guest. She is coming with us,"Ruvé said in an icy tone.

Felicity backed away from him into a corner of the room.

"I can hurt you or you could come willingly," he said to her.

"You aren't allowed to hurt me," Felicity replied boldly.

"Damian isn't with us at the moment. I can hide you away until your wounds heal. He'll never know," Ruvé said.

The Captain's large hand closed around her wrist and he yanked her forward. Felicity tried to pull back but it was no use. She lost grip on the oil lamp and it fell on to Damian's desk that was covered in paperwork. The oil from the lamp was absorbed by the paper making the paper burn faster. The Captain moved to out it but he was stopped by Ruvé.

"Leave it. I have no intention of coming back here," she said. She sounded rather pleased.

The fire started to spread quickly across the desk to another lamp that was perched on the opposite end. Felicity knew what would happen when it reached the lamp and she hurried out of the room with the Captain. As they cleared the door, the other lamp exploded spreading the fire around the room. Felicity imagined that the many books in the study was sufficient enough fuel to feed the fire. Smoke started to steadily stream out of the study. Conscious of her baby growing in her womb, Felicity tried to avoid breathing in any smoke.

They exited through the back entrance and headed straight to the stairs she had seen before. Her hypothesis about a boat at the base was correct. The stairs were steep and they lead down into a small cover where a small boat was docked alongside a short wooden pier. Ruvé went first followed by Nora, her and then the Captain. She could still hear the occasional gunshot and she worried about what was happening in front of the building. She tried to stall but the Captain wouldn't let her. When she reached the bottom she was pushed on to the small sailboat. The Captain undid the shore lines while Ruvé held the wheel. He pushed them away from the dock hard and jumped on board.

The sound of the gunshots had all but disappeared and Felicity prayed it was her side that was coming out on top. Felicity could see that once they cleared the little sheltered cove they were in, the waves would be rough. The wind would be strong too and they would need to release their sail. Ruvéwas still at the wheel and the Captain started preparing the sails. Felicity knew that if she released the rigging on the boom at the right time, it would swing and knock the man overboard. She needed to move quickly. Felicity timed the release and hit the Captain square in the chest, sending him backwards over the railing into the water.

"You bitch!" Ruvé screamed picking up a nearby pistol and pointing it at her.

Felicity held her hands up, "Damian wanted me alive," she said.

"Unfortunately you tried to escape and fell overboard with the Captain," Ruvé told her.

"You're going to shoot me infront of your daughter?" Felicity asked, her eyes darting to the girl that was crouched next to her mother.

Realising that Ruvé didn't care, Felicity hid behind the mast just as the woman fired at her. As long as she stayed behind the mast she should be safe unless Ruvé decided to come after her which was exactly what the French woman decided to do. She was crazy as her husband. Nora was steering the boat while Ruvé made her way slowly towards her eyeing the boom as proceeded.

Felicity felt the boat start to rock more, they were clearing the shelter of the cove. Unfortunately the Captain had pushed them away from the dock with enough force to make it out. The rocking was going to get worse. She had rounded Cape Horn, one of the roughest waters in the world. She could handle a little rocking. She suspected Ruvé might not be able to.

Ruvé lost her balance and fell on the deck. Nora ran towards her mother despite Ruvé telling her to stay there. Felicity watched in horror as the boom swung around again and knocked Nora overboard. Ruvé wasted no time in dragging herself off the deck and into the water behind her daughter. Felicity re-secured the rigging for the boom and carefully made her way to the wheel. She needed to get the ship under control. It was a fight, but a fight she won. She looked for Nora in the water but she didn't see her. Felicity decided to sail the ship back into the cove hoping the entire way that her husband was still alive.

S-12

Oliver stood opposite Damian Smoak. Most of his men were already taken care of just a few stragglers that the rest of the team were taking care of. Damian was that one thing that stood between him and the door to the building. He was determined to retrieve his wife from inside. Damian drew a pistol and pointed it straight at Oliver.

Oliver was not phased. He had faced pistols many times before. It just required the correct timing and speed. He focused on Damian's trigger soon as he squeezed the trigger he dived to the ground and threw the large stone he had picked up on his way to the house at the gun, knocking it out of Damian's hand. Oliver jumped up and ran forward diving for the gun at the same time as Damian. Neither of them were able to grip it properly and it skittered further away from them.

Oliver landed a punch on Damian's jaw and the man kicked him on the shin. Both staggered to their feet again, the gun three feet to their right. Out of the corner of his eye, Oliver saw Diggle enter the building, he also noticed smoke coming out of some windows.

Damian laughed, "I burn down your house and you burn down mine. Karma does exist."

Damian glanced at the gun. Oliver tackled him again, both of them landing on the ground near the gun. He was vaguely aware of Roy throwing something for him. Damian reached for the pistol and Oliver reached for what Roy threw. It was an arrow. Damian's hand had circled around the pistol and he was about to point it at him when Oliver plunged the arrow into Damian's heart effectively stopping the man mid-point. Damian tried to gather up his last energy to shoot Oliver but Roy knocked the gun from his hand.

Oliver pushed away from the dead man and turned towards the Manor. Diggle came out emptied handed, his shirt covering his nose. He ran forward but Diggle and then Roy held him back.

"The smoke's too thick. I tried to get to the stairs but I couldn't find them," Diggle said.

"Felicity is in there. I have to get to her," Oliver said fighting them.

"Oliver it's too late. You'll die before you even find her," Diggle said sadly.

"No it isn't," Oliver said using all his strength to break free and run towards the door.

"OLIVER!"

He came to a complete stop just in front the door. There to his left, was his wife, his beautiful wife dressed in her riding attire. Oliver didn't have to tell his feet to change direction. They did so of their own accord.

"Oliver," she repeated moving towards him with tears in her eyes.

"Felicity," he said pulling her into him as soon as she was in arm's reach.

He finally had her in his arms after what felt like an eternity without her. He felt a tug on his arm and realised that Diggle was trying to pull them away from the burning building. They complied, falling back to the statue.

"You're hurt," Felicity said her hands circled a dark red patch on Oliver's arm. It was the first time he was noticing it. The bullet from Damian's pistol must have hit his arm.

"Not important right now," Oliver replied as he looked her over for injuries.

"I know you're relieved to see me Oliver but we still have plenty of work to do," Felicity said reaching under her shirt that was tucked into her riding blouse and pulling out a document she had hidden there. "It's a map of England and the other one is the map of the continent. I believe it has the location of every warehouse on it. We need to get these locations to our contacts to stop his plan."

Oliver nodded absently. He would deal with that in a few minutes, he just wanted some time to hold her before they went back into emergency mode again.

S-13

Moira, Thea and Laurel were having tea on the front lawn of Merlyn Estate. Lyla was supervising the children who were playing nearby. Barry had returned a few days ago and informed them of the plan they were implementing to retrieve Felicity. He had been sent back to retrieve the crew of the Flash and a few of Felicity's most trusted immigrants to provide security for the estate. Barry wasn't very good with physical altercations. He usually let his first mate handle such things while he focused on things like navigation and steering of the boat. Those skills wouldn't be needed in a fight so he was sent back to secure the Estate. It was also a small comfort to the team that in case anything went wrong, Barry would be able to get the remaining family members out of England safely.

Moira tried not to focus on the fact that the sun was hanging low in the sky and that Oliver was supposed to have returned that morning. It meant they were either delayed or they had failed. Moira was desperately hoping for the first option. Lyla was great at keeping up their morale. She understood why Felicity liked and trusted the woman so much.

"Horses," Connor exclaimed. James agreed excitedly.

Moira knew she was old and her hearing was not what it used to be but she could not hear any horses. She wondered if the boys were just pretending but Laurel, Thea and Lyla all turned their attention towards the entrance of Merlyn Estate. Moira frowned until her ears picked it up too, right before she spotted the Queen and Merlyn carriages. She tried not to focus on why the Queen carriage was in such a disheveled state. The boys tried to run towards them but Lyla admonished them to let the carriages come to a complete stop first.

Walter was sitting proudly on top of the Queen carriage while Tommy was driving the Merlyn one, the latter looked like he was having the time of his life. The carriages didn't go to the entrance, instead the drivers choose to come towards them, stopping ten feet short of the boys. Walter and Tommy both jumped down. Laurel ran into her husband's arms. Moira wanted to give Walter a similar welcome home but it was not appropriate. She had to settle for a smile.

The door to Merlyn carriage opened first and Sara, Nyssa and Roy stepped out. Thea flew into Roy's arms and Moira pushed aside the wave of disapproval that she felt. That was a battle for another day. She rather suspected it as a battle she would lose. The Queen carriage opened and Robert stepped out with an amused expression. Felicity's voice floated out to her.

"Let go Oliver. I need to get out and I can't carry your weight with me!" she said sternly.

Felicity appeared at the door, one hand still firmly held by Oliver's. Robert grasped her free hand and helped her down from the carriage, Oliver right on her heels. Once on the ground, the hand that was holding her hand, encircled her waist.

"Are you all alright," Moira asked, eyeing the bandage on her son's arm.

"We are all good and well," Oliver said with a brilliant smile.

"Where is John?" Lyla asked fearfully.

Felicity dragged Oliver over to her maid, "Delivering a few messages," she said hugging her maid so that she could whisper in her ear, "He's fine and very much looking forward to see you again." Lyla blushed a pretty shade of red.

"It's celebration time," Tommy declared loudly before looking at his wife,"I hope all the liquor is ready."

"Tommy if you don't mind I'm kind of tired. I'm sure everyone else will enjoy it. I heard quite a bit of my staff is here. My sailors will definitely enjoy the debauchery."

"I suppose that's ok," Tommy mussed before lighting up, "I can tell them all how I saved the day. I was a knight in shining armour!"

Roy frowned, "What armour?"

"My chariot of course!" Tommy responded. "Laurel you should have seen it! It was me versus 1000 men."

Everyone groaned. Tommy had probably gone through the story with them 1000 times already.

"Merlyn," Nyssa said seriously cutting him off which they were all grateful for, "You promised me liquor."

"Right this way, my lady," Tommy said with a bow, one hand pointing towards the entrance to the main house.

S-14

Oliver was resting against a pillow at the head of their bed while Felicity paced in front of him deep in thought. She had insisted that she needed a little space to process.

"What's the matter love?" he asked startling her.

"I was just lost in thought," she said.

"Did they hurt you?" Oliver asked fearfully.

"No, no one touched me. Damian had this ridiculous idea," she said.

Oliver nodded, "He thought you were his daughter."

Felicity stopped pacing and sat at the edge of the bed on his side. She explained the whole story to him as Damian had explained it to her.

"Do you believe him?" Oliver asked.

"Of course not! Even if by the slightest chance its true it doesn't matter to me. I know who my father is and there is nothing Damian said that will change who my father was."

"Then why are you so anxious?" he asked his wife.

She chewed on her bottom lip, "Oliver I have something important to tell you."

Oliver nodded for her to continue.

"Ruvé, that was Damian's French wife, she wasn't all that nice, though her chef prepared the most amazing French food. Every meal was like heaven, well as heaven as you could get when you're being held captive against your will. I do hope everyone got out of that place before the fire got out of control,"

"Felicity," Oliver said putting his hands on her shoulders.

She chewed on her bottom lip again and Oliver itched to use his teeth to pull her lip free.

"She said I was pregnant and I think she's right. I'm always hungry and my stomach is expanding. You're not mad are you because I know we talked about it but we agreed to a later date to be named."

Warmth flooded Oliver's chest. The first time he had heard those words, there had only been dread that he had gotten a girl pregnant. Now he was filled with pride to know his wife was carrying his child.

"Felicity, I could never be mad that you're carrying my child. I love you and I'm looking forward to the day our son is born."

"Everyone keeps saying it's going to be a boy," she said with a cute pout.

"Because it is. I promised you a boy first and then a girl afterwards," he reminded her pulling her close for a kiss.

"I love you Felicity," he said when they broke apart.

"I love you too Oliver," Felicity said.

The exhaustion of the last few days weighed heavily on him. He pulled Felicity flushed against him, letting her bury her face into the crook of his neck. For the moment, just holding her like that was enough. He closed his eyes and had his first restful sleep in days.

Chapter Text

5 years later

The lunch her husband had treated her to was much too rich for her liking. She understood that it was their fifth wedding anniversary and he was entitled to spoil her but he went a bit overboard. She was in the process of losing weight from her second pregnancy and being spoilt with food was not going to help her slim down at all. She was also very aware of the fact that the lunch was just the beginning of a long day of festivities. She would most likely be treated to a lavish dinner that night. Her goal of fitting back into her dresses by fall might be a bit farfetched.

After her recovery from being held hostage at Stonehaven, Oliver had a new philosophy on life. He was going to enjoy every moment life gave him with her. That spilled over into their anniversary celebrations. Every year Oliver tried to outdo himself. For their first anniversary he presented her with a gorgeous diamond necklace. Felicity thought it was far too expensive to put around her neck but then her husband went and said something romantic about the beauty of the necklace paling in contrast to her beauty. He always knew how to turn her to mush. For their second anniversary, Oliver presented her with a new boat. She had The Arrow returned to its rightful owner, Henry Allen, so that he could sail to Egypt and Greece to visit his family. The new boat had been a surprise and she christened it right away naming it The Green Arrow, in honour of both the Allens and her husband. She may have sailed it to Spain to boast to Cisco about the latest addition to her sailing fleet.

For their third anniversary, Oliver organised a lavish wedding ceremony. He knew Felicity had never dreamt about a fancy wedding but he had a suspicion that she regretted the way they were married and he wanted her to have a real wedding. He arranged for a seamstress to hand sew a dress for Felicity. He wanted her to get that moment where she walked down the aisle towards him. He also wanted that moment where he got to watch the love of his life walk towards him.

Their fourth anniversary was celebrated in India. She had received word that her elephant Raj was ageing and slowing down. His handlers estimated he only had about six months of life left. Felicity had rushed to India with Oliver and their children on The Green Arrow. She spent many months introducing Connor to the strange culture and scenery. He had enjoyed every moment of it. Her youngest son, Alexander, was too young to remember the trip but Felicity promised she would bring him back when he was older. The return voyage from India was the first time Felicity had ever suffered from sea sickness on a boat. After the third day of throwing up she realised that she was actually pregnant. They had conceived their daughter in India. She waited out the end of her first trimester in Egypt before sailing back to England. Poor Barry had double the stress because Iris was also pregnant with their first child. The week before they left she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

Today, both Oliver and her had taken the day off. They had a lazy morning in bed before heading out to town for lunch. When they returned to the Manor, Connor and Alexander were waiting for them by the main entrance. As soon as her feet landed on the ground Alexander ran straight to her. She easily picked him up and smothered him with kisses.

"I missed you my little Lord," she said to him. He was three and a half years old but he thought he was as old as Connor. If was funny how everyone was right, she had a boy and then a girl, like all the previous Lady Queens before her. She didn't understand how that happened. She was fairly sure nature was more complicated than that and that the gender of a child wasn't based on a tradition within a family but she had followed suit with the pattern.

"I missed you too. No fun since you left," he pouted to her.

"None!" Felicity exclaimed with false shock. "We will have to do something about that immediately. Go and tell Mr. Hunt to ready a horse for us. We're going for a ride."

Alexander's face lit up and he was soon dashing off towards the stables.

"Alexander," Oliver called out to him,

The boy stopped, "Ask him to ready three horses please. Connor and I will be joining the both of you," he said. Alexander jumped for joy.

Connor smiled and followed in his younger brother's footsteps. As soon as they were out of ear shot Oliver turned to his wife, "Are you sure you're up to riding? Anne was born not even a month ago," he said reminding his wife about the recent birth of their daughter.

Felicity rolled her eyes at her husband, as if she really needed to be reminded about Anne's birth. "I am fine Oliver. I feel like I need a little exercise or you might have to roll me into the Manor soon. Why don't you head on out and make sure the boys don't get into too much trouble while I head up to the nursery and feed Anne. I'll change into my riding gear and be back soon," she said reaching up on to her tip toes to press a soft kiss to her husband's cheek.

Two hours later, Felicity returned to the manor by herself. The boys were tending to the horses and she had been sent on her way. She was fairly sure the lunch and their riding trip around the grounds was a distraction for whatever it was her husband was planning. The way the boys had been waiting for them outside the Manor was too suspicious.

She knew he was going to try and outdo himself again this year. She carefully walked passed every closed door in the Manor half expecting someone to jump out and yell surprise. Oliver had suggested that she go to the library to do some reading before dinner that night. She wondered if her surprise was in the library. The route to her destination took her passed the ballroom. The doors were wide open and she peered in. There were no fancy decorations nor any evidence that there would be an event in it later.

When she reached the door to the library she put her ear against the door to listen for any sounds inside. It sounded quiet. She cautiously opened the door expecting people to jump out at her. When she looked inside it was empty.

"This is my surprise?" she muttered to herself walking inside to see the book that Connor had been reading was still on a desk.

"No I am," a voice she hadn't heard in nearly twenty years said.

She spun around to see Henry Allen smiling broadly at her. He was obviously much older than when she last saw him but she still recognised him right away.

"Uncle Henry!" she said running to him.

He held his arms wide open for her like he used to do when she was a little girl. He hugged her very tight.

"My little Felicity. You've gotten so big. I was hoping to see you when The Arrow was returned to me," he said to her.

"Alexander had just been born!" she said in her defence for why she didn't accompany The Arrow up to Scotland. "He was quite fussy and insisted that I always be close by."

Henry beamed at her, "He's certainly grown out of that habit now. I watched you all riding from the balcony upstairs. It reminded me of when you were younger. Your father would be so proud of all that you have built for yourself."

"I didn't build any of this," Felicity said looking at the portrait of her father that hung in the library. Next to it was one of her mother. Her husband had arranged for an artist to make several duplicates of her parents' portraits so that she didn't need to worry about ever losing them. He had given it to her as a birthday gift three years ago. Besides the set that hung in the Manor, there was a set at the business and at Harper Estate. "He arranged for me to marry Oliver."

"I disagree. Your father only set the stage for you. It was up to you to deliver a good performance. From what persons have told me, everyone here is happy because of you. Your father-in-law built you a massive wine cellar in the basement because you love red wine. Besides your husband, your brother-in-law is probably your next biggest fan. You gave him Smoak Estate so that he could have something to his name when he married Thea Queen. Because of that, Thea was able to remain in her social circle and it made it easier for Moira to accept Roy."

Felicity snorted, "I couldn't leave Smoak Estate empty. You know what happens to Estates that are left empty and I did not want that for my family's home. Damian saw to the end of the Smoak name. I am a Queen now and my children are all Queens. I wanted someone new who could build a good life there and I knew Thea and Roy would be able to do it."

Henry placed both of his hands on her shoulder as he looked down at his sister's daughter. She had so much of Donna's strength in her. "Felicity, you are remarkable. I'm fairly sure if it wasn't for your letters and your support while I was in jail, I never would have made it. You gave me hope that I would get out. I know there were times when Barry was lost and I know you helped him survive. Thank you."

Tears welled up in Felicity's eyes and her uncle comforted her. They continued to talk for hours. When the sun hung low in the sky, Henry told her it was time and they walked down the corridor to the closed ballroom. When Henry opened the door, the first thing she noticed was her husband standing at the entrance with a single red rose in his hand.

"Happy Anniversary," he said to her bending down to give her a chaste kiss. She smiled up at him. "Happy Anniversary."

The room was fully decorated and very crowded. Anne was in the arms of her nanny, Evelyn Sharpe, while Alexander and Connor were smartly dressed next to her.

"I should change," Felicity said looking down at her riding attire.

"It's up to you love. We all love you the way you are," Oliver told her. His hand slipped into hers and he brought the back of her hand up to his lips for a quick kiss.

"I think I'll change," Felicity said.

A very pregnant Thea appeared at her side, "I thought you might want to. I helped Ollie pick out the perfect dress. Mom will help you get changed since Lyla's probably too big to be of much assistance."

Thirty minutes later she returned to the ballroom in an emerald green dress. The children had broken off to a corner of the room where they were playing some modern game Felicity had never heard of. The number of children in their extended family was steadily increasing. The current combination consisted of three Queens, four Merlyns, one Diggle and one Holt with the expectation that there would be two Harpers, (twins) and another Diggle joining them by the end of the month.

Sara Lance was now Sara Holt, having married Paul Holt. The marriage saved both of their reputations. Sara adopted a young child she found living on the street as her own. Roy suggested the name Cindy in honour of his friend and it stuck. The Ton didn't know that Sara had not birthed the child because Sara spent the majority of her time in Egypt.

Felicity started with the children first since she knew they would be going to be put to bed soon. From there she moved around the room in a circle eventually ending with Thea and Lyla who had taken over a whole table to themselves.

"You managed to ditch your husbands?" Felicity teased. Roy had been driving Thea mad with his excessive doting asking every minute if she was ok. Even though Diggle was on his second, he still checked on his wife frequently as well.

"We sent them on a wild goose chase," Lyla admitted, Thea laughing at her joke.

"You did?" Felicity said with a raised eyebrow.

"Yes we asked them to get us some goose but Raisa didn't cook any goose tonight," Lyla explained.

"It should keep them occupied for a while," Thea said happily.

Felicity looked at Thea, "Have you given any thought to your mother's request?"

"I have and it's still a no. My babies will be born at Harper Estate. She is free to come and stay with us there," Thea said firmly.

Felicity nodded, "She's going to be very disappointed. She was hoping you would give birth here."

"I honestly don't see the point in it. I'm still going to have to go home at some point. I rather do it there and get settled in right away."

Felicity reached across and squeezed Thea's hand, "We'll be there for you, that is, unless Lyla goes into labour at the same time." Felicity stopped to think, "I don't know what I would do."

"You'd stay to help Lyla, since I'll have my mother. It's not like you could do anything anyway. I have to push the twins out," Thea said pragmatically.

"But the moral support is always good," Lyla said. "Especially since they don't let you husband in the room with you."

"That's probably a good thing, I think I would have killed Oliver when I was labouring with Alexander," Felicity admitted.

"I know what you mean. I had similar thoughts when I was giving birth to baby Sara," Lyla confessed as well.

"I don't think I could kill Roy," Thea said in response.

Lyla laughed, "You say that now, just wait."

The night flew by quickly and soon Felicity was alone in her room with her husband.

"Thank you very much for tonight," she said coming out of the bathroom dressed in her robe. Her husband was seated on the bed waiting patiently for her.

"Did you enjoy it?" Oliver asked.

"Very much," she said opening the knot on her robe to reveal a sheer green dress with a dark green lace trim that stopped just below her butt. Her husband's Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed. "It's time for your anniversary gift," Felicity purred as she made her way over to him.

They were interrupted by a loud knock on the door and Raisa's loud voice, "Lyla's in labour."

Oliver groaned. Felicity kissed his nose. "Sorry love, I'll make it up to you," she said before going to the bathroom to change.

Oliver hopped out of bed, "I better go and keep John company. He almost went crazy when Lyla was labouring with their daughter the first time."

"Not any crazier than I heard you were each time I was in labour," Felicity's called out to him.

Twenty minutes later, they were outside Lyla's door when Moira came running to them in a panic, "Thea's in labour as well."

Felicity groaned, "Me and my big mouth!"


Eighteen hours later, Felicity held twin girls in her arms and Oliver held a boy while Thea and Lyla rested with their husbands.

"We need more cribs," Tommy observed walking into the room to check on his youngest son who was asleep in a crib. In the crib next to him was Anne. Alexander had slept in Connor's room, two of the Merlyn boys had stayed in Alexander's room and Cindy, Rebecca and baby Sara spent the night in another room. At the moment, Evelyn and the Merlyn's governess were keeping an eye on the children who were playing down the hall.

Tommy stopped to look at the twins, "I can't tell them apart!"

Felicity wanted to snort but she didn't want to disturb the sleeping babies. If one started to cry, all of them were going to cry and she had just gotten all of them to sleep.

"The girl on Felicity's left is Carolina and the one on her right is Caroline," Oliver informed him.

"Hmm, and the baby Diggle?" Tommy asked.

"Mathew Oliver Diggle," Oliver said proudly.

"That's not fair!" Tommy protested. "How come babies get named after you?"

"Shh," Felicity said when the babies started to fuss because of the loudness of Tommy's voice.

Tommy was about to open his mouth to defend himself when Felicity pointed at the door, the message clear, get out now. Silence descended in the room.

"If you asked me six years ago what I thought my family would have been like today, my answer would not have remotely resembled what we've been blessed with," Oliver admitted.

Felicity agreed as well.

"I love you Felicity," Oliver said his left hand reaching out to squeeze her right bicep. If he could have kissed her, he would have.

"I love you too Oliver and I look forward to spending the rest of my life with you."