20 March 2009
It might have been the first day of Spring, but winter still clung to the mountains surrounding Ddraig Llyn. Under the new moon, snow glittered on the slopes of Pedair Dreigiau, the sacred mountain that loomed above the valley like a protector, its ancient roots dug deep within the Earth, connecting its magic to the bedrock of the planet. Ianto could see it from the entrance to the tent he was in, even past the light from the lantern that hung from the main pole of the cloth structure.
He couldn’t believe how nervous he was. This was something he’d wanted for so long, and now that his mating was so close…he felt as if he was about to jump out of the human skin he was currently wearing. He’d been happy just to have declared Jack as his mate, and not had this ceremony, thinking it would never be possible. But the Great Dragons had worked a miracle, even if it had taken Jack being buried under Cardiff for almost two thousand years.
That dream…that vision he’d had as a young dragon…was going to come true today.
Ianto turned back to where Toshiko was standing beside the tent pole, the flickering lantern light dancing along the soft grey wool of the coat she was wearing. Her lovely face, a bit paler than usual after her using her magic to keep a nuclear power station from exploding a bare five days ago, wore a smile of pure joy.
He stepped forward, taking her hands in his. “I’m just so incredibly nervous,” he admitted. “I can’t believe this is finally happening.”
“Why? This is what you and Jack both want.”
“I’m not sure,” he said helplessly. Then his grinned. “Just wait until it’s yours and Kathy’s turn.”
Toshiko rolled her eyes. “She keeps mumbling about how it’s going to be warm when we finally get married. I don’t know why she’s complaining, since her power keeps her from getting cold anyway.”
Ianto had heard them talking about having their own wedding there at Ddraig Llyn in the summer, and Ianto couldn’t wait. Neither could Rhiannon, who was already planning things despite Kathy’s determination to do everything herself.
But then, Rhiannon had done a wonderful job with the little time that Ianto had given her for his and Jack’s mating. When he’d called her, she’d simply huffed, “Finally!” and then got to work. There were things that couldn’t have been done in that short a time, but Jack had only a limited amount of magic within him, the gift from the Great Dragons.
Still, she’d managed to get all their guests to the valley
It was just good fortune that they’d been able to hold their mating this soon after the bombings in Cardiff. The city was still down, but the citizens were picking themselves up once more, and Ianto didn’t think it would take all that long to get things back to normal. Yes, Turnmill Power Station was a complete loss, but there were alternate ways of getting power into Cardiff, and the experts that the Lord Mayor had brought in had announced that there was no danger of radiation poisoning the ground or the water supply. Thanks to Toshiko, and her powers over the Earth, the city had been saved.
Relief efforts had started almost before Hart had gone. Her Majesty had sent in the regular Army to help out the Cardiff Police, who were stretched thin in the ensuing chaos. UNIT had also come into the picture, thanks to Colonel Mace, and it was because of them that Torchwood had been able to leave for even this short amount of time. Thankfully the Rift had been blessedly quiet, and would remain so for several days according to Toshiko’s Rift Predictor, so the UNIT boys the colonel had sent would be able to concentrate on other things.
Still, the rest of the team would be going back tomorrow, leaving Jack and Ianto in Ddraig Llyn for a short ‘honeymoon’. The dragon was looking forward to a little downtime with his mate, after everything that had happened. Jack needed to decompress; even though he’d been sleeping through most of the time he’d been buried, there was still the issue with his brother attempting to torture him. If the Great Dragons hadn’t intervened…Ianto didn’t want to even think about his mate, dying and coming back to life over and over, under the ground forever…
His mind went to his mate, who was in the second tent that had been set up on the village green, attended to by Alice and Steven. They really were going to have eternity together. Yes, they’d talked about it and had called themselves mates, but this made it official within the realms of magic and under dragon law. Neither of them would ever be alone again, unless they chose to be so. Ianto was aware that no one could spend eternity with another without a break at times, but he and Jack would always be bound together, and would have each other no matter what.
The tent flap rustled, and Estelle’s head popped in. “It’s time,” she practically squealed before she was gone once more, her dignity as an elder witch completely lost.
Toshiko laughed. “Do you think she’s excited?”
Ianto smirked. “No, not at all.”
He held out his arm to his best friend; Toshiko looped her arm about his, and together they left the tent.
Even if he’d been susceptible to the cold in just the blue suit he wore, Ianto wouldn’t have felt it as he looked about the crowd that stood outside, waiting. The entirety of Ddraig Llyn was present, as were the people he and Jack had wanted to share their moment with. Their entire team was there: even Owen, who was confined to a wheelchair after his injuries at the hands of Jack’s brother, Gray; Rhys was standing behind him, ready to wrestle the wheelchair down to the lake when needed. Diane was with them; she’d come to Cardiff as soon as she’d heard about Owen getting shot, and was taking the time to be there to look after him until he was back on his feet. Ianto knew that Jack had spoken to her about coming home and being a part of Torchwood, and she’d accepted, although it would be next year before she could leave her contract with her current employer. They would all be glad to have her back, especially their medic, who was already talking about more of a commitment…which was a miracle in and of itself. The dragon had never thought he’d settle down after losing Katie, but Diane was just the right person to keep him grounded.
Patrick was there as well, his arm in a sling strapped across his chest. He would eventually regain range of motion in his shoulder, but it was going to take time and a lot of therapy. Still, he was alive, and that was what counted.
The entire Jones clan was also present, along with Tom and even their new friend from SHIELD, Clint Barton. Ianto had wanted to invite the agent personally, since he’d discovered the dragon during the events at CERN, and had become a good friend in just that short amount of time. Clint also had some time off from his duties with SHIELD, and had agreed to help out Torchwood for a while until Patrick and Owen were back in fighting shape. From what Clint had claimed, he hadn’t even told Nick Fury that he was going to be there, only that he was taking some of the accumulated vacation time he’d saved up. As far as the dragon knew, the Director of SHIELD still didn’t know exactly where his wayward agent was.
Plus, Ianto had once promised Clint that he could meet the dragon personally, and he wasn’t about to renege on that promise.
Estelle stood next to him, Moses sitting at her feet, tail curled about his front paws, his own eyes reflecting in the pale, flickering light. She’d managed to become Clint’s unofficial grandmother in just the few hours they’d known each other, and it made Ianto smile to know she could work her charms on the archer.
Andy Davidson was standing next to Deborah, and Ianto had to wonder if something was going on there. The newly-minted detective sergeant was grinning madly, but at the same time his eyes kept darting in Deborah’s direction. Ianto hoped something would happen; Andy was a good bloke and Deborah deserved to be happy. Maybe he and Jack could put a bug in each of their ears…
Small fires dotted the path down to the lake, where Jack would be. Ianto felt his heart beat faster as his feet carried him toward his destiny with the man he loved. Magic suffused the air, sparks like fireflies dancing on the breeze, the people following behind him and Toshiko as they made their way. Ianto could feel the tingling along his nerve endings, the hush of the world around him as if the very planet was holding its breath. Not even the footfalls behind him could be heard.
As Ianto approached the place where the mating would take place, he almost stumbled to a halt as he caught sight of the four mating posts that had been placed at the cardinal points on the lakeshore.
This was the one thing he’d thought wouldn’t be a part of the ceremony, as much as he might have wished for it. There had been no time to carve them; usually it was family that would be responsible for their creation, but Ianto didn’t have any family to do that for him. Where the posts came from he had no idea, and Toshiko had to have noticed his confusion because she was whispering in his ear, “The four Great Dragon Friends made them, during that Year. Rhiannon had been positive there’d be a mating, and she wanted to be prepared.”
Ianto felt tears prickle his eyes, his heart swelling in pride and happiness that this had been done for him and Jack. “Thank you,” he murmured, squeezing her arm in gratitude.
“You’re welcome,” she responded. “Now, let’s get you and Jack mated.”
Jack was waiting for them, just on the edge of the magical circle created by the mating posts. He stood tall and proud in his greatcoat, which he wore over the suit he’d decided on for the occasion. Ianto met his eyes, and he felt himself tearing up all over again at the love and devotion he saw in them. The buzzing magic that would allow him to transform this one time into the blue-grey dragon that had haunted Ianto’s dreams for so long was apparent against the itching of the Time Vortex that kept Jack alive.
Rhiannon stood within the circle. She was dressed in a long white robe, a heavy woollen cloak over her shoulders. She was smiling brightly, her hands held out in welcome. Her eyes were shining with tears.
“Welcome, all,” Rhiannon began, her voice pitched so the gathering could hear, “we are here today to celebrate the mating of Ianto Jones and Jack Harkness, as they are known by their ephemeral names. Who brings Ianto forward?”
“I do,” Toshiko answered. “Toshiko Sato, the Friend of Earth.” She let go of his arm, and then hugged Ianto tightly. Then she stepped away, backing away to stand next to Kathy, who was dressed in a white pantsuit, the power of the Fire Dragon keeping her warm. They linked arms, leaning into each other, looking content.
“And who brings Jack forward?” Rhiannon intoned.
“I do,” Alice called out. “Alice Carter, born Melissa Moretti, the Friend of Air.” She moved from Jack’s side, also hugging her father tightly, joining Steven and putting her arm around her son, her eyes proud and pleased.
Ianto could sense the magic growing stronger as he stepped up beside his mate. He reached out and took Jack’s hand, a shock of power threading through the contact. Ianto welcomed it, letting it settle within his bones.
“Do you, Ianto Jones, take Jack Harkness into your clan, to honour him as your mate, to protect him, to avenge him, and to love him for all eternity?”
There was also such magic in the ritual wording, and Ianto took up the strands of that magic and wove it into his vow. “I do.”
Rhiannon turned to regard Jack. “Do you, Jack Harkness, born Jamys Franklinson of the Boeshane Peninsula, take Ianto Jones into your clan, to honour him as your mate, to protect him, to avenge him, and to love him for all eternity?”
Ianto was shocked that Jack had chosen to use his true name in the ceremony, and now wished he’d done the same. Rhiannon must have explained to him what that meant, how much stronger the bonding would be, if he did so.
“I do.” Jack’s voice was strong and sure, the bonds between them snapping into place at that simple proclamation.
“Then step into the circle,” Rhiannon invited, her words choked with emotion, “and we shall invoke the Great Dragons to bless this mating.”
Together, Ianto and Jack crossed the circle of magic. Ianto could feel his change come over him, bringing out his true form even as the power that had so subtly changed Jack did the same, and the blue-grey dragon of his visions was beside him, scales glittering in the light of the fires around them. Familiar blue eyes stared into his, inner flame making them glow.
“Let us begin.”
The gathering around them began to hum. That simple sound echoed across the lake, and the power within it wrapped around Ianto and Jack like a soft blanket.
Rhiannon turned toward the first of the mating posts. “I call upon the Dragon of Fire, who keeps the soul of the Earth burning brightly within her mighty claws, bless this mating with the warmth of comfort and love.”
The post began to pulse softly with red light, and the Fire Dragon faded into sight, twisting about the carved wood, bright eyes laughing in joy, the flames that made up her body dancing.
She turned slightly. “I call upon the Dragon of Air, who keeps the breath of the Earth flowing from her great wings, bless this mating with the breeze of laughter and understanding.”
That post also began to glow, this time a faint blue. The Dragon of Air appeared, a soft breeze fluttering the grass around the post, the Great Dragon’s wings open wide as if inviting the entire assembly to take shelter beneath them.
“I call upon the Dragon of Water,” Rhiannon called out, “who keeps the life of the Earth flowing through his veins, bless this mating with the lifeblood of peace and fertility.”
There would be no children in this union, but the words curled up within Ianto’s heart, bringing him a calm that settled the nerves he’d been feeling ever since the ceremony had begun. The Water Dragon coiled about that particular mating post, and water pooled about the base, forming a small puddle that glittered in the firelight.
And then, the last Great Dragon was invoked. “I call upon the Dragon of Earth, the mightiest of all, who brought the first of the dragon race out of the darkness of ignorance and despair, and who keeps the bones of the Earth from shattering. Bless this mating with the strength to endure all that may test it.”
The dragon could feel the Earth tremble slightly as the power invoked by the ritual rose into the circle. A dark shadow fluttered around the post, resolving into the Great Earth Dragon, all brown and green and magic as old as the primordial stones of the very planet they lived on.
All four dragons said, “So mote it be.”
The hum that surrounded them changed into singing, even though Ianto knew that none of the humans attending had even been aware of this particular song, words in the language of dragons. It was the Song of Mating, one that Ianto had himself sang for Jack, back when he’d claimed the immortal as his mate, when he’d believed that this full mating had been impossible.
Now, it was being sung for them by people who understood the power that they were invoking.
Jack roared wordlessly as he propelled himself upward.
The mating imperative upon him, Ianto followed his mate into the darkness of the night sky, all of his attention on the dragon racing away from him, heading higher and higher, leading him on a chase that had only one ending.
Laughter drifted back to his ears from his mate; it was possibly the freest Ianto had ever heard from Jack, and it lifted his heart and strengthened his wings. Putting on a burst of speed he gained on his mate, the blue-grey scales light against the cold night sky, pulling him upward in pursuit.
The sheer excitement of the moment drove him onward, and he got closer to Jack, the strange itch of the Vortex calling to him even as the imperative overwhelmed his mind and soul. Reaching out with claws that ached to latch onto those hard-smooth scales as he gained, Ianto managed to grab a hold of shoulders that flexed against his grasp. Jack jerked, but didn’t try to escape as Ianto held on, practically pinning his mate’s wings between them, holding them up by the power of his own wings alone.
Ianto wrapped around Jack, his erection hot and heavy against the base of his mate’s tail. Jack laughed once more, twitching his tail out of the way, giving Ianto the access he needed.
In one smooth movement, Ianto was sheathed within his mate.
Jack arched underneath him as Ianto claimed his mate for all eternity.
His wings shuddered to a halt as the Song of Eternity burst forth. They were in freefall, but the indescribable pleasure of the moment blinded them to the wind whistling past them as they fell back toward the Earth. All four of Ianto’s limbs were entwined about Jack, holding the blue-grey dragon close to him, cradling his body as he thrust deep into his mate. Ianto wasn’t even aware that he was still singing as his orgasm ripped through him, his thought spiralling away. Jack shuddered within his grasp, and then he finally let go, the dragons separating and yet they would always be together.
Wings outstretched, the mates halted their downward fall. Now Ianto took the lead, flying toward the cave that Rhiannon had set up for the mating. It was Ianto’s old lair, now made comfortable for habitation for the remainder of their mating, and he landed on the ledge, moving forward so that Jack could join him.
They made their way into the cave. The firepit had been lit once more, and the large pile of cushions and blankets was inviting to the pair; Ianto took the initiative and pounced onto his mate, determined to make the most of the time they had left before Jack’s transformation back into human overcame them. He pushed Jack down into the nest, resting his body fully along his mate’s, cheek pressed against Jack’s in the dragon version of a kiss.
“I love you,” he whispered into the silence of their surroundings. “You are my eternity now.”
Blue eyes met his, glowing in the firelight. “I love you, too. I always will.”
A faint, golden light limned Jack’s dragon form, and Ianto moved off as the change came over his mate. In seconds, his mate was human once more. He smiled up at Ianto, but there was disappointment in his eyes, and the dragon knew it was because he hadn’t been ready to change back yet.
But Ianto didn’t care. Jack was his; it didn’t matter if he was dragon or human. They were truly mated, in the eyes of their friends and family and of the Great Dragons. Nothing would ever change that now.
Jack was his eternity. That was enough.