Vera Silverton did not look up, did not look at the new arrivals. She continued staring down at her prisoner, which was easy because Adalind was bound to a chair and looking at the slowly-drying pool of her own blood around the chair.
To Nick's grimmsight, Vera was inches taller than usual, and so paler-than-white that she was practically glowing, with partly-webbed fingers. "Back away, Vera," Nick said.
"So good of you to join us, Nick," Vera said. "I'd offer you a few pounds of flesh from this Unterhexen, but as it is you're what turned her into one."
"Adalind's a Hexenbiest, not an Unte..."
"Difficulty already? Rosalee clarified for me that you prefer Wesen-Deutsch where names are concerned, so I didn't call this one A Little Magic in English."
"Has she told you where Juliette is?" Nick asked.
"How could she do that? In her present state, she could do no more than mix chemicals."
"Then why involve her?"
Vera turned to face Nick, the look in her woge'd face nearly enough to get Monroe to back up several feet. "Because the Grimm whose sister-in-law I will be, failed to finish the job."
"I stopped her." Nick said.
"You incited her."
"Before," Adalind said to Nick, not moving her head, her voice low and sore, "it was duty and obedience. Hank, the Mellifers, all; I obeyed. That wasn't why I drew your sweetness' blood with more ease than you drew mine, Nick."
"And look where revenge got you," Monroe said. "This is a perfect example of why I don't like it."
"I seem to remember you being a lot nicer to people, Vera," Nick said.
"And I recall you being someone who does not decapitate his enemies," Vera replied calmly.
"That's different and you know it."
"That difference is the same for the both of us."
"Fine, maybe it is. But that doesn't answer what you're going to do with Adalind, particularly since you say she doesn't know where Juliette is."
"She will be punished for her crimes. Stop fretting, Blutbad," Vera told Monroe, "the fun won't be here."
"Fun?" Nick asked.
"Do you want to help with Adalind, complain about my word choice, or go find Juliette?" Vera asked. "Captain Renard's police won't find her." Though there is the possibility that one of his loyalists might find her for him.
"You're not going to help look? Join a search party?"
"When I finish mete-ing out justice."
"Justice or revenge?"
"Were it simply revenge, I would penalize you as well, Nick," Vera said. "And who do you think did your job before your talents became active?"
"And the threat of my family. No sane or semi-sane Wesen wants us nipping at their heels."
"Or drowning us in lakes," Monroe said.
“Sounds like you’ve been busy,” Nick said.
Vera de-woge'd, returning to the appearance Nick had previously always known for her. "When they’re afraid of us, they’re unlikely to do the things that bring us around. We have no three-strikes law, Nick."
‘We’ the Wesen or ‘we’ the Nixen? "And believe me when I say I'll talk to you about that later," Nick said. "But what did Monroe mean about drowning in lakes? Is that where Juliette is?"
"We live in rives and lakes and similar freshwater bodies," Vera said. "But you're missing the obvious."
Vera sighed, her face momentarily thrusting forward to look pancake-flat, then returning to human guise. "One of the first things Juliette ever told you."
"She's a natural redhead," Nick said.
"And an adopted one," Vera said. "But that will not matter to the woman who claims to be your mother and fellow Grimm."
"You know about her?" Nick asked.
"It is not purely our inherited nobility that makes it unwise for Wesen dynastic cycles to cross us."
'Cycles'...like what that Verrat told me.
"Now," Vera said to Nick, "who will you help?"
Frank Rabe opened his door.
Adalind Schade's voice was not something one forgot. She had told him in a phone call a minute ago, 'You have the option of refusing to inherit your wife's obligation. But then it would fall upon your son's shoulders.'
The ability to go full bear had been lost for centuries. Diane had somehow acquired it, though she had never used it much - the last time had been when the Grimm had threatened their children.
When Frank had agreed to shoulder what his wife owed, Miss Schade had told him to look for something that acted like it was one of the Nixes.
Frank stepped out of his house, intent on searching the woods, when a crossbow bolt struck the wall next to his head. "That was the warning shot," he was told.
"Who are you?" he asked her.
"Just call me the Mother."
"The mother of what?"
"Grimms. Now, you even twitch about going into woge, and this place gets a new rug."
"Where are we going?" Frank asked.
"You're going to look for a fish. One with legs."
Juliette Silverton rested on the bottom of the river, her mind reviewing everything that had happened...
...Nick had talked about being a Grimm, but he'd done it so outlandishly and while she was not in peak health...
...Adalind's cat had scratched her, breaking the skin...
...I suppose my skin lotion got into my bloodstream. It's not for open cuts and sores...
...I attacked Sean. I asked him to tell Nick. Forgot to say what to tell him...
...Juliette had found shelter in the water, and later easily grab-able clothing, and made her way deeper into the temperate rainforest...
...where a Wesen had crossed her path.
The Monoceran had been decidedly hostile, so she had dragged it underwater and snapped its neck. The principle is the same with any animal, Juliette knew, her fingers weighing down the horned Wesen so it wouldn't drift away or rise to the surface.
Like her sister, Juliette had gone to swim camp for instruction and the basics. Their mother had continued the lessons afterwards, drawing on her studies of humans in the South Pacific and points around there.
Once she had learned how to hold her breath for minutes at a time, then her mother and sister had taught her how to go to the surface and breathe without being seen. Roll over, exhale, inhale, only the nose and lips and a little cheek visible. Then roll and swim back down. And wait.
On her way back down, Juliette resumed thinking about what she would say when Nick arrived. And how I’ll tell him that my Family are the eldest living enemies of the Grimms. Perhaps - --
Lacking any ability to woge, Juliette had picked up other methods for detecting people or things approaching the water -- ripples, the movement of fish and insects, footfalls, shadows, and other things. That was how she knew she once more was not alone. And this time, it wasn’t a lone figure walking nearer and nearer.
Juliette swam up to the surface, planting her feet on the ground, ready to dive back in the river and head for elsewhere if the need be.
As the three of them made their way through another mid-forest clearing, “What do you know about her, I mean about her family?” Rosalee asked, curious. “I’ve admitted to a lot where mine’s concerned,” she said when Monroe shot her a ‘what are you doing?’ look.
“And we’re both thankful and sorry you had to do that,” Nick said.
“Thank you,” Rosalee mouthed.
“Juliette’s dad runs a community center - used to be a janitor there, according to Juliette. And her mom’s an anthropologist; she wrote a paper on pearl divers and other people who can hold their breath longer than most could. And you may've heard that Vera's a botanist."
“So how did they get their hands on the girl who became your fiance?” Monroe asked.
“Could be any number of ways,” Rosalee said. “Regular adoption, foster care, payment for a deal, or they found a baby abandoned in a church.”
“Juliette never said, and I never asked,” Nick said. A thought occurred to him: "So this is basically Holly in reverse, isn't it?" Nick asked.
"Sounds like it," Monroe agreed. "Though I'm not sure who got the short end of the stick."
"What was that you told me about not using offensive phrases?" Nick teased.
Monroe rolled his eyes.
"Holly?" Rosalee asked.
"Blutbad girl, adopted by a human woman, and later kidnapped and lost in the woods for better part of a decade."
“Having to learn how to woge and what it was…” Rosalee said, wincing at the weight of that. “Brave girl. She okay?”
“She is now,” Nick said.
"You know, maybe it's just me," Monroe said, "but I was getting the feeling the prisoner back at my house - which is going to be a nightmare to clean up, even just the blood, and I speak from experience there - hadn't known Juliette was part of...you know."
Rosalee said, "And the toxin makes the victim think they're whomever they've been in contact with the most."
"Which begs the question..." Nick said.
"Who is Adalind Schade working for, that turning your fiance into a Grimm is a good thing?"
Bud and his close friends moved the lights from their flashlights around the woods methodically, wary of anything that might care to jump out of the big dark forest and make an Eisbiber meal. Nick had called and asked for a favor - and really, who turns down the chance for a Grimm to owe you a favor? It's like a bedtime story.
"A Nixie?" another Eisbiber asked.
"Yep, one of the Nixen," Bud said. Nick had said that his fiance was the victim of some sort of an attack that made her think she was a Nix, a member of a Wesen subgroup with more names and variations of the name than lots bore.
"I suppose this is payback for him killing those trolls and Reapers."
"And the favor, too." Nick thinks we're friends - not going to contradict him. Lions - and Grimms - don't need to worry about the motives of lambs and Eisbibers. He says friends, I say okay.
That was when Bud's light fell across a familiar head of red hair crouched at a riverbank a short distance away. "Juliette Silverton?" Bud asked, both hoping she was and hoping she wasn't.
"I am she," Juliette said, standing up at the water's edge, her feet covered by the stream. "And you are Bud."
Bud swallowed, nearly choking on his nervousness. Would have been even scarier if we had never met, true. "Nick's looking for you. He's worried."
"Nick is not here," she said, striding towards the Eisbibers with what could only be a hungry look on her face. "What do you want, Bud?"
"To get you back to Nick." As quickly as possible.
Juliette stopped where she was, her toes gripping a tree root better than an Eisbiber or Blutbad could - Not that I ever looked at a Blutbad's toes, Bud thought. Well, there was that girl in school, but that was years ago.
"Is that your request?" Juliette asked.
"There's more," she said expectantly. "Tell me," the woodland breeze playing on the Eisbibers' shirts and the jacket and trousers Juliette had on.
"It's nothing," Bud said.
"Tell. Me. Now," Juliette said, her voice reminding Bud of all the nightmare-tales his people had of the Nixen.
"Agirliknew," Bud blurted out. "I just thought...I don't know."
"Nandaloshi, done," Juliette said, her voice pleasing and calm. "Now, where is Nick?"
Hoping that was the entirety of payment for whatever she thought he'd said, Bud opened his mouth to answer, but a loud roaring growl interupted him. Uh-oh, um, who was that?