50- In Which It's Nice to be Happy

So Vincent was Binding to Winter. There weren't any obvious changes to his personality quite yet, but maybe they'd become clear over time. In the end, it was better this way not only emotionally, but also logically. Winter had command of his magical abilities and it would be easier for him to learn more elaborate techniques than it would be for Hayden to struggle through the basics so he could work his way up to complicated magic.

Phinn was barely concerned with the intricacies of all the nastiness because by the time they got back to Cerah and started to unload, he had already finished his first bottle of wine and was trying to decide whether or not a second one was necessary. Though he was normally careful about avoiding getting drunk in front of others because of how personable it made him, he was already stressed out enough without having to deal with worrying about being pleasant company.

The other Kingdoms had returned to Cerah—Rain, Mist, Thunder and Wind were on the ground just outside the city, heavily guarded and under constant watch.

The first stop was the hospital to get medical care for Jasper, Garrett and Wood. To be safe, both Jasper and Garrett had to be kept sedated until Vincent finished Binding to Winter so they could remove Zev. They could assume he had gone into Garrett, but they weren't going to take any chances if they ended up wrong and he had gone into Jasper. Kieran stayed with them to make sure they got the best care.

Danver and Winter needed time in the hospital as well, but under a much more casual setting. Clinton and Irving were taken to a separate wing so they'd be able to rest, and Elena barely noticed when Trachter wandered off and disappeared without saying anything.

Sage moped about getting separated from Garrett, but Elena looked around and realized her current company: Phinn, Lawson, Cole, Sage and Hayden. It had been a while since they had been without the company of soldiers in any form. It must have been a massive oversight to leave Hayden completely without protection.

"It's kind of like old times," Elena remarked.

"Except no Turner, Ryder and Quentin," Cole pointed out.

"The Kingdoms are here," Lawson said. "That means they've got to be somewhere here in Cerah, doesn't it?"

"Hayden, use your Kingly influence to find them," Sage ordered.

"Okay, I'll be right back," Hayden said, laughing somewhat as he departed to find someone with information.

Elena felt Phinn lean on her shoulder as he made a comment about something under his breath that she couldn't understand. "Did you say something?" she led him.

"No," he said, putting his arm around her and touching her nose, making a sound effect as he did. His sudden silliness made her giggle, especially because he was doing it in front of so many witnesses, all of whom laughed at him.

"Why are you laughing at me?" Phinn practically demanded, but he didn't sound forceful at all.

"You brought it on yourself," said Cole.

"Hey!" said Phinn, pointing directly at Cole. "You are really annoying when you're drunk! And you snore!"

Cole rolled his eyes and kept himself from laughing more.

"I don't think he'll need the second bottle," Lawson assessed.

"Phinn doesn't really hold his liquor well, does he?" Sage said.

"He doesn't drink very often," Elena said. "Plus, he's lost some weight. Besides, he hasn't eaten recently either, I don't think."

"I am hungry," Phinn noticed thoughtfully.

"You're being ridiculous, Phinn," Sage said, slapping her forehead.

"Should he be this drunk in a hospital?" Hayden asked, returning to the group after having a short conversation with a woman behind a desk.

"I should be this drunk everywhere," said Phinn emphatically.

"Where are the others?" Elena asked, taking a moment to grin at Phinn for his nonsense remark.

"Actually just downstairs," Hayden said. "Though it's a little early, there weren't any complications."

"Weren't any complications with what?" Cole questioned.

"Oh, Quentin and Jennifer had their baby just this morning," Hayden said.

"I want to see it!" Elena almost shouted before she even processed what Hayden had said.

The baby! She had forgotten that it was going to happen eventually, and now it had happened! She was so excited, and luckily everyone else appeared to agree with her sentiment, hurrying down the stairs and into the long hallway that led to a waiting room.

She felt like she was on autopilot. And, she moved robotically until she finally saw Turner and Ryder in the waiting room, and they must have either worked out their animosity or were too giddy about a new baby because they seemed to be on good terms with one another.

And there was a weird moment when Turner and Ryder looked at their siblings approaching and got all happy. She could sense it among the other Sons as well that they were all legitimately glad to see one another, whether there was a baby involved or not. This was a far cry from how it had been all those months ago when Elena first met them.

In fact, even hugs were exchanged. Hugs!

They would definitely have to spend some time to sit down and explain all the new information they had learned recently regarding Vincent and Isaac and all the rest, but for now, it was nice to just be happy.

Ryder went into the room to get Quentin, and came out a few seconds later, stating that he was bringing the baby. Elena was waiting eagerly—and she wasn't the only one. She heard one of them say something about becoming an uncle, and they never would have been able to feel happiness like that if it hadn't been for all this danger and horror forcing them to be together.

Quentin emerged only a minute later, beaming with the most genuine expression she had ever seen on his face: pure joy and pride. He had a mess of pink blankets in his arms—a girl!—as he carefully leaned over so his shorter siblings could see his baby. His daughter was tiny, and she was way too young and small to make out any distinctive features, so it wasn't as if Elena could point out what about her looked like Quentin or Jenny, but she looked forward to getting the chance to do so.

Easily, Sage was the most excited, trying to pry the infant out of Quentin's arms until he eventually relented under the condition that she sat down first. Cole hung over her shoulder, playing with the baby's tiny hand and making noises at her, as Sage simply stared in wonder at the miracle.

Lawson took Quentin by the hand and shook it, congratulating him on a job well done. Phinn got up to do the same thing, which sent Quentin into confusion, prompting Elena to tell him that Phinn was rather drunk right now—and they'd explain later.

The last to give his blessing was Hayden, who took Quentin's hand and then pulled him into a surprising hug. Elena was happy to see that instead of becoming awkward and pushing him away, Quentin laughed and returned the gesture.

Sage called out for someone to take the baby, and Turner urged Elena forward so she somehow ended up at the front of the line. She took a seat, and Quentin monitored as the baby was handed off. As Elena stared at the little girl's sleeping face, she heard Sage ask Quentin, "What's her name?"

"Danielle," Quentin answered. "It was Jennifer's mother's name."

"Hey, another Elle, right?" Phinn determined, sitting down next to Elena to get his first god look at the baby.

"Or Dani," Elena pointed out.

"I like Elle," Phinn said, putting his arm around her and pulling a bit so he could kiss her on the forehead.

"Careful," Quentin warned, gesturing to the baby.

"Who will be next, I wonder?" Hayden asked, looking around at the Sons.

"The next to have a baby?" Cole exclaimed as if the notion was preposterous. But then he laughed and pointed at Sage. "My money's on Sage!"

"Yeah right," said Sage with a frown.

"Oh, but you and Garrett will have such cute kids," said Ryder.

Sage shoved Ryder lightly, though it seemed good-natured to Elena.

"What about you, Hayden?" Lawson inquired.

"Isn't that kind of weird to think about your uncle impregnating your cousin?" Turner asked, raising an eyebrow at Lawson.

"It's weird when you say it like that," said Lawson, looking annoyed.

"Honestly, we haven't gotten a chance to talk about it yet," Hayden said, trying to answer Lawson's question. "Actually, we haven't gotten a chance to talk about much of anything."

"Hopefully that will change," said Lawson. Then, in a casual tone, Lawson merely said, "By the way, Faye and I are married."

"Wait, what?" Cole said immediately. "When did that happen?"

"A few weeks before Hayden's wedding," Lawson said with a shrug.

Elena smiled as the rest of the Sons went out of their way to congratulate Lawson, but also reprimand him for keeping it a secret for so long. Phinn remained seated next to her, merely watching all that happen. And, after Quentin felt his words were sufficient, he came around in front of Elena to take his daughter.

She handed the little girl off to him. Quentin happened to glance at Elena's hand and spot the ring. It didn't take him very long to put two and two together, and he took a moment to meet eyes with Elena and smile at her, while nodding approvingly. His wife was a Chaste Beauty, so he must have learned about rings from her. Although he didn't wear a ring, Elena knew Jenny did.

Phinn turned back around and saw Quentin's expression. "What?" he nearly demanded simply because he was confused by Quentin's face.

"Nothing," said Quentin, shaking his head. "I don't suppose either of you have given any thought to the prospect of having children?"

Elena felt her own face turn red. She had definitely not given any thought to that at all. Though, a small piece of her wished that Phinn had revealed something just then. Perhaps, in his drunken state, he could have openly stated what he felt about starting a family, if only to at least give her some ideas.

"We don't need to think about it now, right?" Phinn said.

"That's a good answer," Quentin said. "The way you said 'we'. That's a good answer."

Although Elena found a lot of comfort in Quentin's response, Phinn didn't bother taking it to heart. Instead, he only went on staring at Quentin questioningly, as if he didn't fully understand what had even been said. "Babies are pretty useless, aren't they?" he said. "You have to take care of them and they seriously can't do anything for themselves until they're at least…five or whatever."

"Was that… advice?" Quentin inquired.

"It's a thing," Phinn said.

"Phinn, you're pretty drunk right now," Elena reminded him.

"Elena, this is the man you've chosen," Quentin said, distinctly smiling in her direction.

She was certain that was the first time he had spoken her name informally. At this point, she was part of the family. Danielle was practically her niece at this point.

Well, yes, that was what her future was. As she looked around all the other Sons and thought about their spouses or future spouses, coupled with their future children, she realized that this was her family.

It would be. Someday. If they could just get everything straightened out. First, they had to get that monster out of Phinn, and then they could be a family. It was a simple as that.

Things had never been quite that simple before. But, just because the solution to the problem was frustratingly simple didn't mean it was going to be easy. It was going to be extremely difficult. It was going to take a lot of work and a lot more sacrifice. It was going to be hard.

But, here, with her family, it was also going to be possible. And, in the end, completely worth it.

/end Book 8

A/N: OKAY! There's only one book left in the "Kingdom of" series. I promise that all these plot threads will weave together in the final installment. While this book was extremely easy to write, I'm struggling with the final one because I just don't want it to end! I'm glad you've all stuck with me for however long you've been reading and reviewing. It's very easy to update every day with so much support. Whenever I get a new review in my inbox, I get so excited to read it, especially when you guys get so invested in the characters and the plot twists. There might be a few weeks until I start uploading the final part, and I hope you'll all join me for that one too! Thanks again!