We ate breakfast at the dining room table. Conversation was light. Roark sat there next to me, his voice quiet when he was asked a question, but otherwise he was silent. Cyn sat there, looking all around her, sometimes in fascination, sometimes with an almost calculating look. It was hard to know sometimes just what she was thinking. My family was welcoming, smiling and joking like normal. Once everyone had eaten (Cyn had finished her tube of plasma juice; Roark was nursing his, deep in thought), the dishes were cleared. Nan stood up. “Roark, Cyn,” she murmured. “Welcome to our home, both of you. We have something to show you both. When Luna told us you were both coming, we had some work done.”
She looked at Roark and smiled. “I know you worry about your sister, but you want her to have her privacy. We think this will work nicely.” She led the way to the garage. “We had a small room constructed up there ages ago and just hadn’t really thought of what to do with it. I think we found something.” She ushered them up first. I followed them. I couldn’t believe it. They’d turn it into a small efficiency apartment, decorated in bright yellows. It had a mini fridge to house all the plasma juice she’d need, a double bed, a small bathroom, a large TV, and a sink.
Cyn went crazy. She ran and jumped on the bed, and ran around the little space. Roark just looked on, tears in his eyes. “T-thank you,” he murmured gruffly, his arm around my waist. He looked at my family. “Thank you, all of you. This-this-“ He let out a shuddering breath. “What you’ve done here… I can’t ever repay you but-“
“Hush on this talk of repayment,” Nan scolded, hand on her hip. “We’re family here, Roark. Cyn’s family now, so we’re happy to do what we can.” She smiled as she watched Cyn dive onto her bed face first again. Pop, his stance much like Roark’s, with his arm snaked around my grandmother’s waist, nodded, grinning from ear to ear.
“Sophia’s right,” he announced. “Family does what it needs to do to see to their own. You’re our own now.” He laughed at Cyn’s antics. “Let’s let her enjoy herself. We can all go have a cup of coffee… tea for you, Eclipse.” I gave him a pout. I missed coffee…
We all trooped back into the house, leaving Cyn to enjoy her new space. We all ended up back at the dining room table. We were too numerous for the island or even the living room now. Mom, Dad, Nan, and Pop took a seat. Roark was holding my hand. After they were seated, he cleared his throat. He looked at me, holding both of my hands in his. Then he addressed my family- no, OUR family. “I want to say something to all of you. I want to thank you all. I know you say I don’t have to. But I want to. I don’t have experience with a family like yours. My own… you know who my mother is. And that, in and of itself, is a miracle. I made mistakes when it came to your daughter. Mistakes I regret with all my heart. I made those mistakes because I made assumptions. You have welcomed me, the son of someone who has caused you all so much pain…” I could see the tears in his eyes. My own watered.
He cleared his throat. “I didn’t believe Luna when she said you’d welcome me. I’m sorry for that, baby. I really am.” He looked at them all now. “I love her with all my heart. I know she told you what happened. No matter what went on between us, I want us to move on, to look to our future. Our future together, our child.” Now I was really crying.
“I just want you all to know that I am humbled by what I have been shown here by you all. So thank you.”
Pop stood up. He had a serious look on his face. “The measure of a person is their actions. What they do because- or despite- their blood, their environment says a lot about them. Son, you’ve had a hard life, a lot harder than most. What you’ve done is just short of miraculous. You’ve looked after your sister and have done a heck of a job with her. She’s happy and healthy. I know her condition can be difficult to deal with. But you’ve embraced it. And I see the way you look at our Eclipse, like she’s your whole world. I can’t ask more than that.” The serious face fell away and his eyes twinkled as he winked. “Especially not with this family. Our women are a bit of a handful, after all. We try to look after them, but-“ Nan reached up and smacked her husband on the shoulder.
“You better watch it, or you’ll need to be looked after,” she growled. “Sit down, Draco.” Her eyes twinkled with mirth… and something else as she looked at Roark. She nodded. Even my mother gave him a nod.
I was oblivious to what was going on. Roark pulled me to him, hugging me tightly. “I love you, Luna,” he whispered.
With what I’d calling a steeling breath, he got down on one knee. My eyes must have been the size of saucers. He pulled a box out of his pocket and opened it. “Luna Eris Wyvern,” he murmured, “You are the light of my night, that which illuminates my life. I love you with all my heart. Please, you would make me the happiest man in the world if you’d agree to become my wife. I don’t want to go another day with regrets where you’re concerned, baby.” His voice cracked. “Luna, marry me.”
He slid the ring on my finger; I couldn’t speak. I had clapped a hand to my mouth to keep the squeak I knew was coming at bay. As I looked at that ring twinkling on my finger, I took my hand off my mouth and just looked at him. Even before, we’d never actually defined our relationship. We’d never actually been a couple. Things had just… tumbled into place after our first meeting. And then things had gone so very wrong. I’d betrayed Roark, plain and simple. And because of that, because I’d allowed my own pride interfere, we’d both been manipulated and someone had died. And yet… there he was, asking me to become his wife.
All of these whirled through my mind at warp speed, but I’d been silent for long enough that I could hear the uncertainty in his voice when he asked, “Luna? Baby?”
I threw myself at him, a very pregnant woman, my arms twining around his neck. “Yes,” I sobbed, unable to hold the dam back. “Yes, Roark. I’ll marry you.”
He held me tightly, though very conscious of my condition, I knew. As my family cheered around us, he put me at arms’ length. When he did, he said, “Luna, I hope you or your family doesn’t object, but… I’d like to take your name. I want to be a Wyvern. I-is that ok?”
In answer, I just stared at him. “Of course you can!” I exclaimed. Then, I looked at him, an urgency egging me on. “Let’s do it now, Roark. I don’t want to wait. I-I want to be your wife. I-I want a fresh start for you and I. Can we do that?”
“Now? I… I don’t mind, Luna, but… don’t you want your brother here?”
“I would love it if Alduin could come back for this. I really would.” There were tears in my eyes again. “He’ll understand. And I’ll make it up to him when he comes home to visit again. I just… I want this fresh start, Roark.”
He kissed me gently. “Alright. We’ll do it now. Any objects here?”
My family shook their heads. If any of them were shocked, they didn’t show it. They just smiled at the both of us. Mom and Pop got up and went to me. “Don’t you want a dress baby?” Mom asked me.
“No, Mama. I wouldn’t be able to fit into one right now anyway,” I told her wryly. “Y-you understand, don’t you?”
“Of course I do baby. I do. It’s alright. You should at least get dressed though. It’s cold out there, baby.”
“I’ll be ok, Mama.” I know I was being ridiculous. I was still in my nighty for crying out loud! But… I just wanted to marry Roark. Maybe it was the hormones talking after all, but I wanted it so badly. Roark was talking to my grandmother about something, though I couldn’t hear what she said.
Pop seemed to know not to say anything. He just leaned down a bit and gave me a hug. There were no words needed.
After a few minutes, Roark went to me and grabbed my hand. “Your grandmother says we might as well go use the wedding arch in the backyard. I’m not going to argue with her. Are you sure you don’t want a coat, baby?”
“I’ll be ok, Roark. Really.”
And so, we trekked through the several inches of snow to the wedding arch at the back of the property. Roark and I stood under the arch. It was cold, but to be honest, I barely felt the wind. Standing there, just looking at him, knowing that soon enough, we’d be husband and wife, that part of me that was still bleeding, still scarred from the mistakes I had, was finally healing. Oh we had a long way to go, I knew. Maybe we’d never fully be at peace over what happened, but we had each other. And soon enough, we’d have a child to love as well.
Apparently, what my grandmother had been talking to Roark about was rings. She’d given him the set she and my grandfather had used almost 40 years ago. So, with my grandparents’ rings, Roark and I exchanged vows with our family looking on. As he slid the ring on, he murmured, “With this ring, I pledge my life to yours, to unite two lives, and two hearts. I vow that I will love you, and cherish you with my last breath.”
Tears slid down my cheeks when it was my turn. I slid the ring on his finger and gave my own vow, “With this ring, I pledge my life to yours, to never give up on you, to treat you as my partner, my friend, and above all, my heart of hearts. I vow that I will love you, and cherish you until the end of my days.”
We clasped hands. We were both trembling with emotion.
“Kiss already!” Nan called out after a moment. It brought out a chuckle from the gathered family. Roark laughed and he pulled me close, his lips soft and tender against mine. I didn’t want soft and tender. My arms went around him and I gave him a real kiss.
When we finally came up for air, Roark took my hand and led me back inside. I didn’t even notice that my teeth were chattering.
Aurora leaned against her husband, ignoring the cold snow against her bare legs. “Well… this has certainly been interesting.”
Jeff sighed. “Yeah, you could say that.” The wedding was over. Roark had led Luna back inside already and Draco and Sophia had followed. “I think they’ll be ok, though.”
“I hope so,” Aurora murmured. “I think they have a long way to go yet, but I think they’ll get there. They’ve both been through so much pain, it’s almost cloying for me, Jeff.”
“I’m sorry, Rora. I wish there was something I could do for you, and for them.”
“Sometimes there’s nothing we can do. Just give them time. It’s a beautiful night. Though… I’m cold now. Let’s go inside and get some cocoa, ok?”
He laughed and took her hand, pulling her up beside him. Then they walked inside.
The house was quiet. Most everyone had gone to bed already, though it wasn’t too late. I was having trouble sleeping anyway. I knew I had to do something. I’d put it off long enough. Of all the calls I had made, this one was the toughest for me. I pulled out my phone and looked at it for a long moment, then hit #3 on the speed dial. As soon as the familiar voice answered with a tremulous “Luna?”, I had to swallow.
“Hey little brother,” I whispered. “I uh… I have a lot of explaining to do, I know. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Alduin. I-I can’t imagine how worried you’ve been.”
Alduin couldn’t quite believe it. His sister was ok. He’d feared the worst and had had to argue out of leaving Uni to go and search for her. Any of the feelers he’d put out online had gone strangely without answer. But here she was. He looked at his watch. He should still have time to meet Cali. “Yeah, you could say I’ve been worried. Luna, what happened?”
“I-it’s a long story, little brother.” Tears stood in my eyes. I had to fight to keep my voice from cracking. “If you’ve got a minute, I’ll tell ya about it. I messed up, Alduin. Really bad.” No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep my voice steady as I told him all of it, much as I had my mother. Yet this was harder, somehow. Admitting to my baby brother how badly I had messed up, how badly I’d handled everything was painful.
Alduin rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “Luna… Oh Luna. I’m so sorry. Is-is there anything I can do? Are you ok? Wait, don’t answer that. Stupid question, sorry. Are you and the baby ok?”
That brought a smile to my face, briefly. “Yeah, we’re fine. You’re niece or nephew is worse than I am, though when it comes to being a night owl. Won’t give me a moment’s peace, and yet doesn’t seem to want to come out and greet the world.”
He chuckled. “Definitely your kid, sis. Ok, spill it. What’s wrong?”
“Alduin, Roark and I got married today. I-I’m sorry I didn’t wait. I know you’d want to be here for it. I-I just-“ My voice cracked and I had to choke back the sobs. “I needed to do it. I needed to make as clean a slate as we could. I-I didn’t want to wait. Can you forgive me?”
He was silent for a moment. “Luna, you shouldn’t have to ask that. Of course I forgive you. There’s nothing to forgive. Though, I think you owe me some cake when I come home, at the least.”
I laughed, the horrible weight I’d been carrying evaporating. “You got it, little brother. By the time you get here, you’ll have a niece or nephew to help spoil.”
“Oh you bet I’ll spoil them, I’ll-“ The mirth died from his voice as I heard a noise coming from that end of the conversation. I was suddenly bombarded with a cacophony of noise. It was panic. Sheer panic. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, except something was wrong and it involved someone he greatly cared about. ‘Cali’ flashed through my mind. It was a litany that he was repeating in his mind again and again.
I didn’t question it, just told him, “Go. Go to her.” Then I hung up. I stood there for a moment, hoping my brother didn’t do something stupid. I hoped his lady friend was ok. A shiver ran down my spine. “Be careful, Alduin.”
The last couple days have been another roller coaster of the worst kind. Aunt Faye called. She had two pieces of news for us. We lost Uncle Falkor last night. He and Aunt Faye had gone to bed at their normal time. When she awoke… Uncle Falkor was gone. He’d had a heart attack during the night and had slipped away quietly in his sleep. He was buried today in the family crypt with his mom and dad. Pop’s been pretty quiet, but he has Nan to be there for him. It’s weird, considering Falkor was a few years younger than Pop.
If that isn’t bad enough, the other news she gave us was about Alduin. Apparently, she had helped him set up the device he’d rigged himself. He’d been concerned about his friend Calysta and had made an app that he’d installed on her phone. It notified not only himself, but the University police, and my Aunt Faye. She’d waited a day to tell us because she’d wanted to get as much information as she could. Alduin’s friend had been attacked. One of the fraternity boys had lured her to a party. But he’d been the only one there. This same guy is also being questioned in a rape/murder on their campus. I had a bad feeling about that one. I think I know why Alduin had been so afraid for his friend.
He had been going to meet her there when I had called him. I haven’t quite been able to process that. The guilt is already mingling with what I have so that I can’t tell the difference right now. After she’d put up the distress signal, he’d gone there. He found her, beaten and bloody. According to Faye, not only had he fought off her attacker, but he’d given him a hell of a beating. I can’t say I wasn’t happy to hear that, though I knew my brother was pretty sensitive. He’d feel the guilt of that for a while. He hasn’t called us yet. I hope he’s ok. And I sincerely hope his friend is ok. Faye couldn’t give us a lot of details about how she was. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
I’m as big as a house right now. I can barely walk. Even a trip to the fridge can be laborious.
I’m trying so hard not to concentrate on all the negative. Maybe that’s why my child hasn’t made an appearance yet. Their afraid because their mother is always so upset. I’m really trying. Though it’s hard. I’m so uncomfortable. Dad says another three-four weeks and then the C-section. I hope it doesn’t come to that. But it’s all up to the little one, I guess. Hopefully, they’ll decide to make their appearance sooner rather than later.
Author’s Note: Special shoutout to Ivane’s Chronicles of Clarke. The link is in the right hand corner. Calysta and Alduin’s adventures can be seen there if you haven’t checked it out yet! Go, check it out!