Chapter 20: The End of an Era

Only a little bit longer, and I’m going to be a grandfather.  As we all await D-day (the name we use for Aurora’s due date), all of us get more excited.  Sophia’s been feeling a little cooped up lately.  Jeff and Aurora have things pretty well in hand so far.  Her and I talked a few things over.  The spa went up for sale after the first owner decided they were going to sell it.  We decided to buy it.  It’s now called the Dragon’s Lair Spa.  Sophia has decided that she’s going to run it, at least part time during evenings.  She figures it still gives her plenty of time to be here at home for when the baby comes.

When the weather’s nice out, ‘Rora’s been out on the deck as much as she can be, often reading.  Her and Jeff are both still reading a fair number of pregnancy books.

I have to rib on Jeff a little bit for that one.  After all, he’s the doctor, or he will be.  He’s pretty close to getting his residency already.  He’s as giddy as a school boy about the prospect of being a father.  Aurora can’t stop smiling either.

Oh, Megara has joined her mate in elderhood just today.  She’s feeling a little creaky, I think.  But even the dogs sense the excitement in the air.



Being a police officer for as long as I have has not prepared me for everything, it seems.  I thought seeing my pregnant girlfriend go into labor was bad.  Seeing my daughter, my little girl (despite her not being little any more), was so much worse.  I tried to remain calm, really I did… At least Jeff and Sophia kept their heads.

Jeff loaded her into the car and took her to the hospital.  Sophia and I followed behind them.  I wanted to go in the same vehicle, but Sophia overruled me… she said that Aurora didn’t need a- hm, what had she said?  I think it was “…she doesn’t need some psychotic drill sergeant yelling in her ear to breath.  Really dear… what am I going to do with you?”  In hindsight, she was right.  We made it to the hospital without incidence.  Jeff stayed the entire time in the room with his wife and Sophia ran back forth, between me and checking on Aurora.  I was too nervous to stay more than a few minutes in the room, particularly with her abilities seemingly heightened with the pregnancy.

After a few hours of hard labor, my granddaughter, Luna Eris Wyvern, was born.

It seems so surreal… but then I look down at that beautiful little baby, smell the fresh powder, see those beautiful red eyes, and it hits me all over again.

I remember when Aurora was this age.  I had been terrified.  I was little more than a kid myself.  How was I supposed to take care of one?  I knew my parents would be there, and Sophia.  Still, I hardly slept, could barely eat.  There were equal parts of terror and joy as the day slowly approached.  Then, Sophia had gone into labor.  The drive to the hospital seemed to take forever and being there, in the room with Sophia… I was even more of a wreck.  And then they handed her to me…  Everything in me stilled.  The storm that had been brewing seemed to have died in that one instant.  Seeing my little girl go through the same thing was tough.  But holding Luna, looking down at the little bundle smoothed everything out once again.

And watching her mother and father with her is another kind of miracle.

My wife loves having another baby in the house.  I have a feeling our little Luna is going to be rather spoiled.


Jeff and Aurora decided to get married in the evening.  There had been talk before of having the ceremony before Aurora gave birth, but it was decided that after was soon enough.  So it was that Jeff and Aurora got married where her mother and I had, at the edge of the property, overlooking the water.  First, of course was the fittings.

As Jeff and Aurora stood under the arch, I sighed and pulled my wife to me.  I’m not ashamed to admit that we were both teary-eyed.

They exchanged vows and rings, looking as if there was no one else in the world.

Then they sealed it with a kiss, the half-moon in the sky shining down on them.

There was clapping and cheering from their family as we looked on.

Then it was time for them to cut the cake.

Falkor and his brood stayed for a while, congratulating my daughter and son-in-law, both on their marriage and their new addition.  The two couldn’t wait to get back to their little one.  Aurora had brought Luna out to the living room to show her off, still dressed in her finery.  “I’m so lucky,” she murmured.  “I’m now married to the love of my life, and look at this child.”  I watched her look into her daughter’s eyes and felt my throat close up with emotion.


I can’t believe how time flies.  Is that a product of aging, I wonder?  Maybe.  Or maybe it’s just that when one is immersed in their life, it’s hard to keep track of said time.  There I go again… going off on one of my tangents.  Can’t seem to help myself.  Anyway, before we all knew it, our little Luna was becoming a toddler.  Aurora had the honor of bringing her to the cake.  I could see the tears that she refused to let fall.  Still, there was pride there, too.

Aurora leaned down and blew out the candles.

The sparkles surrounded her as she laughed and cooed.  Then our little Eclipse (my nickname for her) was no longer a little bundle wrapped in pink.

Now that our line is continuing on, not just in my daughter, but now my granddaughter, I think it is time to hand this off to Aurora.  I know she keeps her own journal.  But I think it is now her right to record the family history for this new generation.  To those who will read this later: I am Draco Wyvern and I am so very proud of you.  May the Watcher and our Mother bless you.


 

Chapter 19: Celebration x3

Today, we celebrated Snowflake Day.  My brother and his family came early.  It was good to see Falkor.  I can’t believe how big his kids have gotten.  Rickie’s a teenager already and little Katherine is a child.  My brother-in-law called and told us he’d be late, and he told us not to wait for him.  So my wife called us all to open presents.

We gathered around the gift pile, laughing and joking.  It was the first time he had gotten to meet Jeff.  There had been a lot of good-natured ribbing, as well as some speculation disguised as such as well.  I have to say, he took it pretty well and gave as good as he got, for the most part.

We were most of the way through when my brother-in-law finally showed up.

All-in-all, it was a day filled with food, fun, and family.  It seems a little odd to me at times as my watch my family; my wife as she laughs with her brother, a brother she only recently has begun speaking to again; my daughter as she ruffles her little cousin, Katherine’s hair and then is swept into a hug and kiss by her boyfriend.  I can only smile as I look out the window, thinking of my parents.  They’d be proud, I think, proud of where the family was heading.  I’d like to think they’d be proud of me, as well.  Though, come to think of it, if they were watching, they’d probably have something to say to me about a couple of things… but well, shouldn’t bring that up now anyway.


Faye waited while everyone else was occupied before she pulled Jeffrey aside.

“How’s Draco?” she asked without preamble.

Jeff looked guilty and more than a little harassed.  “He’s healing.  He’s lucky.  By the Watcher, I hate this secrecy!  I’m lying to the woman I love about her father.  I’m lying to her mother… This has to stop.  That was the last time, right?”

“According to the brass, yes,” Faye answered.  She didn’t look any happier.  “Look, I’m not any happier about this.  He’s my partner, my friend, and my husband’s brother.  That last assignment was rough.  He survived it, though, thanks to you and the medical team.”

“It wasn’t as serious as it could have been and he heals quickly.  Must be a family trait,” Jeff huffed out.  “Still, I don’t like this.  How Sophia didn’t find out, I have no idea.  And I know for a fact that Draco’s been very careful around Aurora.  Luckily, she can’t read me like she can most others.  I can guarantee, though, that if she finds out… there’s going to be a comeuppance.”

“Don’t I know it.  We’ll get through it.  We’re family.”

Jeff sighed.  “Yeah…”

Faye laughed.  “So?  Have you yet?”

“No, not yet.  Soon, though.  I wanted to wait until the holidays are over.  Then I will.”

Faye punched his arm lightly.  “Good luck.”


Something’s up in this house.  I know it.  I can feel it.  I just don’t know what it is.  There’s something in the air.  It swirls around everyone.  It started a few days after Jeff moved in with us.  And I think it has to do with the two days Dad was gone.  It was something to do with work.  A big case, he had said.  Since he came back, Jeff has been tense and Dad’s been acting a bit… shifty.  I sit here, drinking a cup of coffee, waiting for Dad to get up.

I waited and when I heard this footsteps on the stairs, I stood up.  He froze in the archway when he saw me.  “Uh, hey, baby girl.”  If I didn’t know him, I might not have seen that instance of trepidation before it was covered up by what I always saw in his eyes: the love, the pride.

“Dad, we need to talk.”

He could have evaded, could have tried to pretend he didn’t know.  But that’s not my dad’s way.  At least, it hadn’t been.  He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck.  “Yeah, I suppose we do.”  He joined me at the island and grabbed a mug from the tray I’d prepared.  There was silence between us for a long time.  Then he looked at me.  “I never really figured I’d be able to keep it a secret for long.  I just wanted some time.  Time to show you guys I was fine.”

“How badly were you hurt?” I asked him.  “And don’t lie to me, dad.”  I was trying to keep my voice calm, level, though it was hard.  In a lot of ways, I understood why he felt the need to keep it quiet.  We were a close-knit, tight family, but we were also a little… protective.  And none more so than my father.

“Bad enough, though it was never life-threatening.”  He sighed.  “’Rora… I made an oath when I joined the force, to serve and protect.  It’s dangerous work, you guys have always known that.”

“Yes, yes we do.  But that doesn’t give you the right to lie to us, to not tell us when you’ve been hurt!”

“I know, I know.”  My dad looked miserable.  “I just… I didn’t want to worry anyone.”

“Does mom know?”

“Yes.  I told her last night.  She’s not real happy with me.”

“No, I imagine not.  What happened?”

“I can’t give details,” he said immediately, “but… well, Faye and I have been tracking this smuggling ring for a while now.  We finally tracked them to their latest hole.  We raided it; we went in.  There was resistance.  They had weapons.  I took a ricochet in the side.  Didn’t hit anything vital.  I was in and out, patched up quick.”

“I assume you swore Jeff to secrecy?” I asked on a whim, some of that feeling in the air suddenly making more sense.

“Yes.  Doctor/client confidentiality.  Please, Rora, don’t blame him.  He’s been miserable keeping it from you.”

I could only sigh.  “Yes, I’m aware.  I can’t read him like I can read most, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell when he’s miserable.”

“How mad at me are you?”

“Oh, it’s up there on the scale, but… I understand, a little why you felt the need to keep it secret.  Just… dad, don’t do it again.  We’re a family, right?  We stick together.”

“Maybe that’s what I was afraid of,” I heard him mutter to himself.  It brought out the first smile I had had in a few days.

“Yeah, I suppose I understand that too.”  The mad I’d been working on and keeping a tight lid on evaporated.  Oh, I imagine it’ll come back every now and again.  But I did understand why he kept it quiet.  Dad got up and so did I.

“Forgive me?” he asked, looking sheepish.

“Of course.”  He pulled me into a hug.  “Love you dad.”

“And I love you too, my little Northern Light.”


“Well, things are appearing to be back to normal,” I told my daughter’s boyfriend.  “Sophia’s finally talking to me again.  Was Aurora tough on you?”

“Actually,” Jeff murmured as he stared at the chess board, “not really.  She was upset, but seemed more resigned.  Look… please just don’t ask me to do something like that again.  I can’t do it.”

“I promise, I won’t.  I’m sorry to have pulled you into it to begin with.  It was mostly luck, bad luck, that you were in the ER when they brought me in to begin with.”

We were playing chess.  It was a habit we’d gotten into since he’d moved in.  He was good, I have to admit, though not as good as I am, not yet.

“So, remember what we talked about the other day?  Have you asked her yet?”

“No.  I’ve been putting off.  The Simflu has hit her hard.  Her stomach is finally settled down.  Found her in the bathroom again yesterday, praying to the porcelain Watcher.”

“Once she’s feeling better, I’ll ask her.”

“Nervous?”

“Terrified!” he admitted with a laugh.  “But I guess that goes with the territory, right?”

“Oh, most definitely.”


I sat in the chair in our little library, reading the book.

I felt a little bit like a thief, but I needed the excuse for quiet, to think.  I thought the Simflu just wouldn’t leave me alone.  I’d been sick for several days on and off.  Jeff had had it for just a day.  We tried to make sure we didn’t give it to anyone else.  But I just wouldn’t get better… or at least, that’s what I had thought.  But there had been something else, a niggling thought in the back of my head.  But eventually, I couldn’t ignore it anymore.  I was pregnant.

I hadn’t told anyone yet, wasn’t sure how to, honestly.  Maybe we were all still being careful after finding out about Dad’s little incident.  What would Jeff think?  We hadn’t really talked about kids, not yet.  I was nervous.  Exceedingly nervous.  About telling him, about telling my parents…

As I fretted, the book forgotten, Jeff walked in.

“Heya, babe.”  He swallowed.  I noticed he looked a little pale, a little uncertain.  It made my stomach drop.  We hadn’t really talked a lot the last few days, after the discussion about what had happened with my dad.  Was Jeff having second thoughts?  Oh Watcher…

“Look, let me apologize again,” he began.  I stood up and put two fingers to his lips.

“Don’t.  Really, it’s ok.  I told you I understood.  Jeff, are you ok?  What’s wrong?”

He swallowed.  “Aurora, there’s something I want to say, ok?”

I held my breath, trembling, afraid of what I was about to hear.  I wanted to be ill…

Jeff took a deep breath.  “Aurora, no one has ever made me feel like you do.  I wasn’t ever really looking for the One.  Wasn’t sure there was such a thing.  Until that day I met you.  It was like a sucker punch to the face.  You’re gorgeous, there’s no doubt of that.  But there was something more, right from the get go.  And the more I got to know you, the more I discovered.”  He got down on one knee, pulling something from his pocket.  I couldn’t breathe.  “Aurora Breton Wyvern, I want to spend the rest of our lives together.  Please, will you marry me?”

My breath left me in a rush… and maybe a sob with it.  What can I say?  Hormones.  Plus… well, I was so happy, I was crying.  I threw my arms around his neck, burrowing my head against his shoulder.

“Is that a yes?” he asked tentatively.

“Yes!” I was finally able to choke out.  Then I froze again.  “Um… I have something to tell you.  Jeff… I’m pregnant.”  His eyes widened and he looked a bit like a fish out of water for a moment.

Then he picked me up and whirled me around before crushing his lips to mine.


Today has been quite a day.  I suppose I deserve it a bit, after all, I kept quite a secret from my family.  Then again, I’m not unhappy about it.  Just all a bit sudden.  Actually, it’s not, I guess, when I really think about it.  I mean, I knew Jeff had intended to ask Aurora to marry him.  He’d come to me first.  The second part, though… that was a bit of a shock, I have to say.  Aurora went to her mother first, to tell her both bits of news.  I think she was a bit shocked herself.

Then, apparently it was my turn.

I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.  Not only is my little girl going to be getting married… but I’m going to be a grandfather soon…  A grandfather!  I’m too young to be a grandfather!  Then again… I suppose my parents were too.  Hm…  I get it, you guys.  I get it.  Well then.

Jeff has been diligently reading a ton of pregnancy books.  I think he might be more nervous than I was.  Ok, maybe not MORE, but certainly he’s up there.

We’re all very excited.  My daughter is constantly being accosted so people can feel her tummy… yes, including by me.

Her mother and I are excited.  We both tried to deny it at first, I think.  Not because we don’t want grandchildren, but just because we hadn’t thought about it yet, I suppose.  Still.  Neither one of us can wait now that it’s going to happen.  “You ready?” she asked me as we looked up at the stars.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” I told her with a laugh.  “You?”

She grinned.  “I think it’ll be nice, get to spoil the grandkids while we’re both still young, huh?”

“I thought you were only as old as you feel?” my daughter asked with a snicker.  She was leaning against her future husband.  All four of us had gone outside to look up at the beautiful night sky.

Amidst all the craziness that is our family, there have been a few other events, involving our loyal canine companions.  First, young Ares and Apollo have become adults.

And their father, Hercules, is now an elder.  Seems just yesterday that he was a little ball of fluff, following us around.  And now he’s all gray.  Time moves much too quickly the older one gets, I’ve found.


 

Interlude One: Awakening

Before Aurora becomes a young adult

Darkness.  Heavy darkness that seemed to stretch on and on.  It was a weight on my chest.  I couldn’t breathe.  Then the darkness receded and the weight lifted.  I tried to open my eyes.

A groan escaped and finally, my eyes did open, though I couldn’t see anything.  My vision was blurred; I could only see shapes and colors, nothing definite even as I struggled to rise.  The blanket hindered me.  Wait, blanket?

“There she is,” an all-too-familiar voice said from my left.  Blinking rapidly, trying to make sense of what my senses were telling me, I looked over.

“Lyall?”

“Oh aye, it’s me, sister dear.  I was wondering if you were just going to sleep forever or finally wake up.”

I held my head.  It was pounding with a vengeance.  “W-what’s going on?”

I could hear the smirk in her voice, even if I couldn’t see her.  “What’s going on is that you’ve been lounging about, Celestia.  I think it’s time you woke up, don’t you?”

Images flashed through my mind almost faster than I could comprehend.  And then I remembered…  I remembered all of it.  A snarl curled the corner of my lip upward.  “You!  You stranded me in the Sim Realm!  Y-you took my powers away!  I-I… died.”  My ire died away to be replaced by grief.  “David…”  Tears burned my throat.  “Why, Lyall?  Why?”

“Oh Celestia…”  My sister sighed.  “It wasn’t to hurt you, I promise.  I had my reasons.  We have a lot to talk about, a lot to discuss.  But first, there’s something I want to show you.  Will you come with me?  Give me a chance to explain?”

I hesitated, but there was something about Lyall, something different than I was used to.  So finally, I nodded.  She stood up.  “Follow me, then.”  My vision had been steadily improving so this time, when I went to get up, it was easier.

We were in her home, the one she had summoned me to… well, for me it was a life-time ago.  I walked through the halls, so many questions running through my mind.  I didn’t even notice that I had stopped following her and was just heading outside, toward… something.  I stepped out of the doors, onto the little patio and just stopped dead, unable to believe my eyes.

I could only stare.  It was a heartbeat, it was an eternity.  It was hard to say.  “David,” I whispered, barely able to make a sound.

He turned to face me and we could only stare at one another.

Then I was there, in his arms, my own wrapped around him.

I took one step back and could only stare into his eyes.  “I’m not dreaming, am I?”

He laughed.  The sound made my heart soar to hear it again, after what seemed like so long.  I frowned.  “How?  How are you here?”

Before he could answer, the door opened and my sister emerged.  “I’ll explain everything,” she said.  “But I thought you’d want your reunion first.”

I didn’t know what to say.  Things were so confused.  And yet… I couldn’t bring myself to care at that moment.  I was in David’s arms once again.  Yet my sister Lyall wasn’t done yet.  “Oh!  I almost forgot, before we get down to business.  There are others who were waiting for you to get up.”

As I stood there with David, our hands clasped together, neither of us wanting to break the contact, I got another shock.  The familiar bark had my goggling.  David’s words, not my own.  “Diego!?   But…”

My sister’s creation gave me a canine grin and then he spoke.  “Hello again, mistress.”  He bowed down.  Lyall grinned.  “And he’s not the only one.  His own brood is here.”

Even as I leaned down to hug Diego, two more canines came running out.  “Darcy!  And Gabe!”

Diego nuzzled his big head against my hand.  “Yes mistress.  Gage and Glenna as well.  They’ll be with us later though.  They are currently going through the debriefing.”

My sister nodded briskly.  “Yes, which it is time to debrief you.  Follow me and I will answer all your questions.  It is time you knew just what is going on.”

I had no choice but to follow, David following me, my hand still in his.


 

Chapter 18: The Prodigal Daughter Returns

Bleary red eyes slowly fluttered open.  A hint of sunlight managed to sneak past the closed curtains, across those same eyes.  With what could have been a yelp, an arm was thrown up in self-preservation as pain exploded behind her eyes and lanced through her skull.  “Kill me now,” she murmured pitifully.

A quiet chuckle had her peeking carefully, her eyes narrowed to the tiniest slits.  “This is your fault,” she moaned, closing her eyes tightly and throwing the pillow over her face, hiding from the light, trying to keep the pounding in her head down to a dull roar.

Jeff leaned over, lifted the pillow just enough to kiss her cheek.  “I have something for you.”  He grinned at her.

Aurora just moaned.  “Unless it’s something to put me outta my misery, go far far away!”

“You sure?  You sure you don’t want this?”  He waved his hand over the cup in his hand, wafting the scent of its contents toward her.  When the glorious aroma of a triple caf vanilla latte hit her nose, she moaned again, this time throwing the pillow off.

“Gimme gimme!”  She actually sat up, crossing her legs, and greedily took the cup from him, taking in the heavenly scent, her eyes closed .  “Oh Thank you Watcher!”

“Hey!” Jeff objected, though he was still grinning.  “Don’t forget me.”

She opened one eye and looked at him.  Aurora slowly smiled, her expression going gooey as she looked at that face.  She leaned over and kissed him slowly.  “Oh, I haven’t forgotten you.  Thanks.  Now… if I can only get rid of the sand that’s coating my tongue.”

Jeff laughed.  “The hangover will pass.  Well, I guess that answers that question… how much you can drink before feeling the effects.  I gotta hand it to ya, you make most frat boys look like featherweights.”

Aurora cringed, shaking her head, a motion she instantly regretted.  She let out a noise and fell back, burying her head under her pillow again.  After a moment, a muffled, “How bad was it?” came from underneath the pillow.

Jeff cheerfully pulled out his cell phone.  “Well, Ash sent me this a couple hours ago.”  He put his phone in front of her face.

Aurora froze for a moment, and slapped a hand over her eyes.


The last few days of classes had flown by.  Aurora couldn’t get enough though.  She found her classes fascinating.  Even if some of her classmates didn’t…

Still, she learned as much outside of class as she did while in her classes.  She found a new hobby.  There was a rush about doing something that she wasn’t really supposed to do.

Luckily, she was never caught.  It wasn’t a rebellion so much as it was a way to discover herself.  She had gone her entire life feeling other’s emotions; sometimes, she lost who she really was in all of it.  But going to University had done wonders for her, had shown her who she really was, inside.  Jeff had quite a hand in that as well, of course.

Her last final was a bit bitter sweet for her.  It meant she’d have a degree in her hand when she left, but she’d been enjoying her time here and that would be at an end soon.  She was done with her final in record time, though.

Once finals were over, she and Jeff met up at his dorm room for a little end-of-term bash they were throwing.

They played a little pool and did what they normally do.

Then they said goodbye to their friends in the fraternity, and went to the Tri-Fuhm Sorority house for another party.  Their friend, Ashley DeSorrento, was also throwing a party.  That one was a bit more lively as more of the students cut loose to celebrate the end of term, and for many, the end of the journey in University.

Jeff and Aurora took the opportunity to dance.

And then Aurora went off with Ashley so they could talk and say their goodbyes.  “Thanks Ash.  For everything.  It’s been great.  You’ll visit Monte Vista, won’t you?”

“Of course!  Once I get settled in back home in Starlight Shores, we can make arrangements.”

After that, the fun began.  Aurora had had her share of juice had some of the gatherings on campus, but she was always fairly careful about drinking too much.  As it was, she seemed able to absorb more alcohol than normal, especially given her size.  She suspected it had to do with her family’s bloodline.  Still, when one starts helping their friends do keg stands…

It was inevitable that they’d help you do the same.

Eventually, the party moved outside.  There, Aurora found Jeff.  The juice had loosened her up enough that Ashely had talked her into changing.

Then she talked Jeff into helping her with another keg-stand…

A few more later of those later, that’s when Aurora really decided to cut loose.  Running around campus, after slipping out of her swim suit, she was heard shouting, “It’s our time now!  It’s our time!”  Jeff calmly waited for her to run past him during one of her circuits and he grabbed her to him.  He’d carried her back to her place so they could crash.


Aurora’s eyes twitched as Jeff told her what happened.  She looked at the picture again, then sighed.  Giving him a sheepish smile, she said, “Well, you told you to relax more, right?”

Jeff laughed and leaned forward to kiss her forehead.  “You have a point there, darlin’.  How’s the head?”

“Better.  The caffeine’s helped clear it out a bit.  Another cup should do it.”

“I thought you’d say that.”  He retrieved the second cup he’d already made and gave it to her, then he sat back down on the bed next to her.  “All packed and ready to go for tomorrow?” he asked her, running a hand up and down her back.

“Yeah, I think so.”  She lay back and then scooted over to lean against him as he too stretched out.  “You’ll come to the house once you get your things from home right?”

“Yup.  Soon as I pack my things, I’ll hop the first plane to Monte Vista.  Your parents are ok with it?”

Aurora nodded.  “When I talked to them yesterday before we left for the party, they were surprised, but happy.  My mom especially.  My dad was just more surprised, I think.”  She grinned.  “I imagine he’s a more or less typical father.”

“Yeah, I figure I’m in for quite the interrogation,” Jeff told her with a laugh.  “That’s ok, though.  I don’t blame him in the least.”  Aurora snuggled against him and closed her eyes, sighing in contentment as she slid into a more restful sleep.

The next morning, the moving truck came bright and early for Aurora.  It was raining.

Jeff saw her get in and then left to get his own things together.  Aurora stared out the window, watching the scenery go by.  It was good to be going home.


Monte Vista was covered in a layer of snow.  A last bit of winter before spring hit, Aurora supposed.  A smile wiped out the pensive look on her face as the house came into view.  And there, outside the house were two of the people she loved most in the world.

She ran up and they enclosed her in hug.  Then her dad then lifted her up and swung her around.  “Welcome home, Rora,” he murmured, holding her tight.

“It’s good to be home, dad,” she murmured back, squeezing him tightly back.

After the movers put her furniture into storage and she unpacked her suitcase and her things, Aurora settled back into the routine of being home.  She walked through the hallway, peered into the familiar rooms.  Memories of her grandfather at the stove, or at his painting easel, her grandmother seated at the kitchen table, her parents stealing kisses in the living room, and of course, watching her Uncle Falkor propose to Faye.  Yes, it was definitely good to be home.  There was only one thing missing…


A few days later, there was a knock on the door.  Aurora had already jumped up from where she was sitting at the kitchen island and was outside in a heartbeat.  Soon as she got outside the door, she stopped and could only stare with a goofy smile on her face.

“Hey beautiful,” Jeff greeted her softly.  She launched herself at him and they both held on.


The meeting between Jeff and her parents went well.  Her mother seemed quite taken with this young man and was exceedingly happy for her daughter.  Her father was harder to read, though it didn’t take any special skill or power for Aurora to figure out that he was torn.  He couldn’t begrudge his daughter happiness, but he wasn’t quite ready to let her go just yet, let her go to another man.

So while she and her mother caught up at a girls only spa day, Draco entertained Jeffrey.  The two sat down for a game of chess.  “So,” Jeff murmured nonchalantly as he surveyed the board.  “Rora tells me you’re a cop, right?”

“That I am,” Draco replied in the same nonchalant tone.  He brought his gaze up from the chess board to hold Jeffrey’s for a long moment.  Looking into the deep red irises was… disconcerting, but Jeffrey didn’t break the eye contact.  Draco had to respect him for that.  “I have one question for you.  Do you love my daughter?”

“With everything I am,” Jeff told him, sincerity in every line of his face and the tone of his voice.

“Good.”  That was all Draco said as they continued their game.


Jeff’s move into the house went smoothly.  He changed his hair a bit, letting it grow out and chose clothing that was a bit more professional considering what he had chosen as his profession.

Jeff applied and was given a job at Doctor Simano’s Sanitarium.  He dreamed of becoming a world-renowned surgeon.

The house fell into a routine.  Jeff and Draco could often be found playing chess together.  It was impossible to mistake the slight tension that still surrounded the two, but they seemed to get along well enough.

Family dinners were definitely… interesting, to say the least.

“In a couple days, it’s Snowflake Day again,” Sophia reminded everyone.  “Falkor and Faye are coming, the kids.  Even my brother Eli said he’d try to make it.”

“Mmm,” Draco murmured.  He’d made a sort of peace with Sophia’s family.  The fact that Eli had made overtures to actually get to know his sister was a good thing, or at least he hoped so.  He was looking forward to seeing his brother and his brood.  Faye had been keeping him current with the kids of course, but he hadn’t actually gotten to see them in ages.

Looking around him, the patriarch of the Wyverns smiled slowly.  His wife, beautiful as ever.  His daughter, with her eyes shining as she looked at the man across from her.  And Jeff… he was a man that Draco held a grudging respect for, though there was still a part of him that wanted to kick him to the curb, the happiness he brought out in his daughter was enough to keep that impulse at bay.  So he smiled.  “It’ll be good to see everyone again, to have a holiday as a family.”

The others agreed and Aurora gave her father a bright smile.  The look she gave him spoke volumes.  And it was enough.  His family was happy.  That was all that mattered.

Chapter 17: A Little Secret

From: awyvern @SimsUniversity.edu 
To: dragonprince @MonteVista.net
Subject:The Email, as Promised

Hey dad!

Sorry I didn’t get back to ya right away.  The last few days have just been busy, really busy.  Classes have started and my schedule is pretty full, as you know.  I’m getting the hang of it, though it took me a little while to get used to getting up so early.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, my first class, Case Studies in Arbitration, starts at 8.  You know me, I’ve never been what you call a morning person.  So I look a bit like a zombie heading there.

The campus is pretty spread out, so I do a lot of sprinting to classes, particularly when it’s raining.

The house is lovely.  I enjoy the solitude.  I’m so glad I didn’t have to stay in a dorm.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the people I’ve met so far, but I think living with a houseful of people would just be too much for me.  Having my own place gives me a place to come back to, unwind.  And the furniture you and mom got me looks great.

I’m learning to cook.  So far, my repertoire involves waffles, mac n cheese, and autumn salad.  At least I’ve stopped burning the mac n cheese.

I’m really enjoying school so far.  The classes are fascinating and there are so many things to take pictures of.  I’d have my camera glued to my face, if I could!  Hope you and mom are keeping busy and aren’t too worried about me.  I love you both very much!

Love,

‘Rora

From: dragonprince @MonteVista.net
To: awyvern @SimsUniversity.edu
Subject:About Time! ;)

Hey Sweetheart,

It’s ok.  Your mother and I know you must be busy.  It’s great to hear from you.  We miss you a lot.  The weather’s cleared up enough for the snow to melt, though we’ll see how long that lasts.  Oh!  Guess what?  The house is a bit fuller than normal, even with you gone.  I was at work, but your mother was home.

When I got home, she was grinning at me.  “So, I was out in the Zen garden, practicing, when I heard quite the carrying on.  I figured it was just Hercules and Megara, playing around as they do.”  I figured your mother was working up to something, considering the smirk on her face.  So I waited.  “But then I noticed it was only the cries of one of them and it sounded like Meg.  I ran to the other side and what do I see?  The poor thing was laying on the ground, carrying on like she was being split open!”

“I take it she…”

“Yup.  I figured it’d happen, though wasn’t quite expecting it NOW,” she confirmed with a nod.  “After a bit, Megara stopped and then looked shocked when two little furballs seemed to appear out of nowhere.”

We know that it was once your job to name the pups, but since you’ve been so busy, we decided to stick with the theme you came up with, so our two newest additions are Ares and Apollo.

Ares is the fluffier of the two, while Apollo is more gangly.  They both are quite the pair.  By the time you come home, they won’t be so little any more.

Aside from the puppies, I’ve been working.  I’m still moving up the ranks pretty quickly.  I can’t talk too much about it anymore.  Seems the higher I climb, the more secrecy is involved.  It isn’t quite what I bargained for, but at least I’m still able to make a difference.  Sorry, sweetheart for going off on a tangent.  You know how I can be.  Anyway, your mother and I love you.  We’ll talk to you later.

Love,
Dad

From: awyvern @SimsUniversity.edu
To: dragonprince @MonteVista.net
Subject:A Timely Response This Time :P

Hey look!

I’m emailing you in a reasonably time frame!  Will miracles never cease, right?  Anyway, enough of the frivolity.  Ares and Apollo are adorable!  I can’t wait to come home and see them!  Oh and I can’t resist saying it so I won’t: “Hercules, you dog you!”  Yes, I know, terrible pun.  I couldn’t help myself.

Anyway, things are still going well, really well.  I’m thoroughly enjoying my Comm. Class.  I get to cover things from politics to things like military spending and how it might affect our campus.

Due to starting my mornings so early, I’m afraid I’m mainlining caffeine.  I can’t seem to function now without at least one cup of espresso.  Most of the time, I need more than one.  Only once I get my caffeine fix do I feel even close to human.

I’ve met some more interesting people and even got invited to a bonfire the other night.  It was a lot of fun.

And I also had my first taste of juice as well.  I rather enjoyed it.  Don’t worry, I didn’t go too overboard.  You know me.

As far as your tangent, you should know you don’t have to apologize to me, of all people, dad.   I uh… I know I’m not supposed to know certain things about your job.  Just uh… be careful, ok?  I worry about you, dad.  But I also know you can handle yourself.  Anyway, gotta go steady for a test tomorrow.  Love you and mom.  I’ll give you a call after I get outta class, ok?  Night!

Love,
‘Rora


I hate keeping things from my parents.  I really do.  I’ve always been private, kept things close to my chest, but I could always talk to them about things.  I guess I’m just not quite ready to share this with them yet.  For one, I know dad’s preoccupied with work and he doesn’t need any kind of distractions.  And mom is busy worrying about dad.  Every time we talk on the phone, I can feel it from both of them.  So I’ll keep this to myself for now.

It’s difficult though.  For once, I ache to tell SOMEONE.  I want to shout it to the world.  I’m in love.  I, Aurora Breton Wyvern, am in love.  I wasn’t looking for it.  I had gone to the Student Union to check out the facilities.  There he was…

I felt… poleaxed.  That’s the only word that really fits.  I lost all the breath in me.  His smile… then he was shaking my hand and I his.  And for the first time in my memory… I couldn’t read someone.  Not all the way.  My grandmother had explained that there were those who had natural defenses.  It appeared I had found someone with them.

It’s been a whirlwind ever since.  Though neither of us ever actually uttered the words, we’ve become exclusive.  He stays at my place most nights now.

We sleep in the same bed.  And we go to classes together in the morning.

Because of my gift, I’ve tried to keep my distance from most.  I didn’t have a chance with him.  Jeffrey just… he seemed to roll right over me, but in a good way.  When I hesitated, he’d grin at me and give me space when I needed it.  But he was always there when I decided to close that distance.  After a while, I’ve accepted it and I’ve embraced it.  Jeffrey and I can sit home and talk for hours, or, like the other night, we like to go out for a quiet evening, just the two of us.  We went to the local café and just sat on the grass, staring up at the stars for a while.

I’ve never felt this way before.  Every time I hear his voice, something inside me just shifts and I feel a kind of warmth spread through me.  I’ve felt it before, but not from myself.  This is what I feel from my parents when they are together.  When my mom walks into the room, it feels like my dad lets out this sigh.  That’s how I feel right now, with Jeff.

He does things to surprise me all the time.  Just yesterday, he brought me some flowers.

When I look into his eyes, I just seem to… melt.

I know I need to tell my family.  And I will.  But for right now, I want to enjoy my time with Jeff, just the two of us.  I almost broke down and told my mom on the phone the other night, but I held off.  Finals are coming up soon enough.  I’ll warn them then.  Until then, I plan on making the most of the freetime that we have.

It’s funny, for someone that is so well versed in human emotions and in trying ignore them on a regular basis, Jeff knows just the things to say and do to turn me into nothing more than a puddle of goo.

When we aren’t in class, we’re together now as the semester comes to a close.  Jeff pretty much lives with me now, though he technically has a room in one of the dorms.  It’s… nice to have someone to sit and share breakfast with.

And it’s nice to have someone to chat with in between classes, and someone to watch TV with at night.

I think I’ve finally found the reason, the reason why my parents are always so happy, no matter what happens.  I can’t wait to tell them.  But it’ll keep for a little while.  Until after finals.


 

Chapter 16: Moving Forward

My birthday was today… but I didn’t feel like celebrating.  No one did.  So I let the sparkles hit quietly, on my own.  I’m an adult now.  I don’t feel much different, not in body anyway.  In my heart, maybe.  I miss my parents, more than I thought was possible.

But life does go on.  Losing mom and dad has been difficult.  No one ever gets over a loss, not truly.  But we do move on.  And we’re moving on as best we can.  I know I cherish my time with my wife more than I ever have before.

We’ve taken in another dog.  She’s a sweet animal and according to the adoption center, she’s a purebred Rottweiler.  Aurora has been awfully quiet since she lost her grandparents; we were hoping this would help her a little.  She did name the dear girl.  She called her Megara.

Megara has been welcomed to the family very enthusiastically by our Hercules.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see another generation of our dogs in the near future.

Aurora’s class went to the town Mausoleum, to learn some of the town history through the families that settled it.  She seemed to enjoy it.

It’s taken a long while and it took a lot of convincing from my wife, but she and I have finally taken our place in the master bedroom.  “Draco,” she murmured quietly, one hand on my cheek.  “I know you miss them.  I do too.  You know I loved them just as much as you did.  They-they were here for me more than my own family.”  She smiled sadly.  “But it’s time.  Soon enough, Aurora’s going to bring home someone and the downstairs will be hers.”

My wife was right… It was difficult, but we moved our bedroom upstairs, into the room that my parents had shared.  At first, I wanted to keep it the same, but my wife was once again right: they would want us to make it our own.  So we did.  Our old room was turned into a cozy little library/study of sorts.

Life goes on, but we never forget those we have loved and lost.


The weather has turned cold once more, though the snow hasn’t started quite yet.  The grass is frosted, though.  It was early morning and no one else was up yet.  I’d left my wife sleeping comfortably in our bed.  I stepped out of the sliding glass door that opened onto our backyard and stopped a moment to catch my breath, rubbing at my chest.  Mom and Dad have been gone for almost two weeks now.  But still, I feel it.  And today, I feel it more than normal.

I walked across the lawn in the silence of early morning.  No song birds sang; I could see my breath, even after I entered the mausoleum.  I glanced at the legacy that my mother and father had left and smiled a little.  Then I descended the steps.  My steps echoed off the rock walls eerily.  As I stepped through the arches, I stopped and just looked.  This was the first time I’d been done here since we had laid my parents to rest.

I stood there for a long time.  Then I stepped forward.  “I’m sorry,” I murmured to the air.  “I should have come down here before.  It’s been… hard without you.  We all miss you so much.”  A chill ran down my spine.  It surprised a laugh out of me, even as I rubbed a hand over the back of my neck.  “Ok, ok, I think I get it.  Anyway, I came down here today to tell you something.  I know you guys are watching over us, but I thought it only right that I tell you that your granddaughter is going to be a young woman today.  I can’t quite believe it myself.  And… she’s going to be going to University as well.  You guys would be so proud of her.”

I talked to them for quite a while.  When I finally emerged back into the daylight, I felt lighter.  The day was cold, but sunny.  For the first time since my parents died, I felt much lighter, and the grief had lifted.  I’d always miss them, that was a given.  But I’d see them again, someday.  And today… today was for celebration.


Aurora didn’t want a big party; so it was just her mother and I, and the dogs, of course, to welcome her to her young adulthood.  Sophia made the cake.  “I know it’s not your grandfather’s, but I hope you like it,” she told our daughter.

“I’m sure it’s great, mom,” Aurora assured her with a soft smile.

The candles were lit and Aurora took her proper place.  She leaned over, thinking deeply about her wish.

The sparkles surrounded her.  I felt a shaft of pain run through me.  My little girl was really growing up…  She must have sensed it, because her gaze went to mine and there was a knowing look in her eyes.  But while I might lament the fact that my little girl was no longer little, there was a great swell of pride when the sparkles finally cleared.  She’s always been beautiful.  But now, our little Northern Light truly shines.

After a bit of cake (which was really good), she went to the mirror, then the dresser to really put herself together.


The next day, it was graduation.  Sophia and I dressed up in our best, while Aurora got into her cap and gown.

As Sophia and I sat there amongst the crowd of parents and family members, I could only stare up at the stage proudly as my daughter gave her Valedictorian speech.  That’s right, my little girl was the valedictorian of her class.  Her classmates are as big of jokers as mine were considering that they voted her Most Likely to Burn Down Their Own House.

My brother Falkor gave out the diplomas and he had an extra hug for his niece.  Sophia made it out of there without crying… I didn’t quite.  I wasn’t a blubbering mess, but my eyes weren’t completely dry.  However, when we got home, we all got a shock.  Our beloved Gage passed away.

We knew he was living on borrowed time, sadly.  His brother had already gone before him and the old fella had really slowed down the last little while.  In some ways, it was a mercy, though we will certainly miss him.  He will now join his brother, mother, and father.


Aurora is preparing herself for college, reading up on things, practicing her photography, and even doing some painting.  She’d always loved to watch her grandfather when he was at work on a canvas.  Then she took one last placement test.  Once she got the results back, she was online, finalizing her enrollment.

The night before she was to leave, Grim visited once again.  Though… I hate to say this, it was almost a relief.  Glena had never been a very peaceful animal, though she was special in her own way.  But since we’d lost Gage, she’d been almost insufferable.  It made sense, in many ways, Gage was the only one that Glena really loved.  Be that as it may, it was still sad, but at least she can join Gage once again.


Despite all that, the next morning, bright and early, the moving van came to pick up my little girl.  Sophia and I stood outside in the snowy morning air as Aurora emerged with a single suitcase.

We watched her climb into the front seat.

Even after it pulled away, my wife had one hand up waving.

I slid my arm around her waist.  “There she goes,” I murmured.

Sophia sighed and lay her head on my shoulder.  “Yeah… there she goes.”  We watched until the tail lights disappeared from view, then headed into the house.  We were both a little subdued, and very quiet.

After a while, I finally said, “C’mon, there’s a hottub calling our name.  I think we could both use a nice bit of relaxation.”

“It’s snowing out,” my wife pointed out, raising an eyebrow.

“Like that would stop you,” I retorted with a grin.  With our butts freezing, we ran out to the hot tub and slid in, cuddling close.

Finally, we climbed out and hurried back inside.  We got dressed and then decided to spend a lazy day.  Aurora had promised that she’d let us know when she got there.  But it would take a while; it was a long drive.  So we settled in, watching movies that we’d both seen a dozen times.  As evening descended and then it got later and later, my phone finally  went off.  It was a text with a picture.

I’m here.  The house looks great, doesn’t it?

I looked at my wife and smiled, showing her the picture and the text, then gave her a squeeze and a kiss on the cheek.  “Let’s get to bed, huh?”

Author’s Note: I don’t think I have ever had an animal in the Sims that I was as glad to see go as I was Glena XD That sounds awful, I know, but… man, she was disliked by pretty much everyone because her only trait for the majority of the time was aggressive and she just constantly growled at everyone.  Her only good relationship was with Gage and even that had begun to fall just a little bit toward the end.

 

Chapter 15: It Comes in Threes…

I’ve been sitting here, staring down at this book for close to an hour now.  The paper is beginning to rip from where I’ve scratched out what I’ve written so many times.  I know I’m supposed to record this.  My mother would want me to.  But I’m… numb.  There just seems to be… nothing inside of me right now.  Is that normal?  Whether it is or it isn’t, it’s what I’m experiencing right now.

Maybe I should start at the beginning.  Maybe I’ll find some kind of perspective on all of this.  At the least, I hope to finally feel SOMETHING.

It didn’t start out bad.  Quite the contrary, in fact.  The day started out with my wife’s birthday.  She was a little apprehensive about leaving her youth behind, though I told her she was being silly.  She would still be beautiful and I couldn’t possibly love her anymore.  She had a beautiful and talented teenage daughter and our marriage couldn’t be happier… well, except maybe for me working less days, though it was getting better.

We all gathered around: Mom, Dad, Falkor, and Aurora.  Faye had gone home the night before, but we would get a call from her later on.  But that’s later.   Anyway, we all gathered around the cake and Dad lit the candles.  Sophia seemed to think for a moment as she leaned over the cake.  The rest of us cheered and blew noisemakers for the occasion.

After the sparkles hit, my wife stood there for a moment, biting her lip.  “How do I look?” she asked.  “I’m sure the wrinkles are awful, aren’t they?”  In answer, I went to her and pulled her close, kissing her soundly.

“Does that answer your question?” I whispered into her ear before putting her at arms’ length and grinning at her.  She seemed to forget about her wrinkles.  Though, she did want to change her hair.  Her curls, apparently, are a pain to take care of.  So she, Aurora, and my mother went to the bathroom to help her cut it and straighten it to within an inch of its life.

She’s beautiful… but then, she always has been.  And if it makes her happy, then I’m all for it.  Her birthday also happened to fall on our year anniversary.  It seems a little unreal that we’ve been married a year, though we’ve been together quite a bit longer.  Contrary to popular belief, I did NOT forget about our anniversary.  In fact, I even took a few days off work and told them don’t bother to page me;  I wouldn’t answer.

We decided to actually head to Varg’s Tavern, grab a drink.  We don’t get out much, her and I, so this was a nice interlude together.  We talked of silly things, of life in general, about music and even had a spirited discussion on who was going to win the high school football tournament.  That’s one thing about Sophia; I’ve always been able to talk to her about anything and everything.  Even when there’s silence, it’s a comfortable silence and we can speak without saying a word.

After our drinks and a bit more conversation, we headed to Venice Beach.  It was early summer, but still, the water was fairly cold.  That didn’t stop us, though.

After a brisk swim and some fooling around and splashing one another, we decided to head home.  The hot tub beckoned to us; I swear, it was calling our names, even.  It was nice, just the two of us.  The balmy summer night air, the warmth of the water, and having my wife next to me made it all perfect.

But… while my wife and I enjoyed ourselves… all was not well.  From what my mother had told me, Dad had gotten up, rubbing at his chest.  He’d been uncomfortable since they’d gone to lie down and his sleep had been troubled.  She asked him if he was ok.  He’d smiled at her, like he always did.  Then something passed over his face.  “I’m sorry my love.  My Queen…”  He fell to the ground.  There… was nothing my mom could do, though she tried.  Her screams brought Aurora and Falkor running.  But they could only watch as my father’s spirit began to drift to the dark shape that waited for him on the deck outside my parents’ room.

I had no idea… no clue what was happening, still too wrapped up in my wife.  Why didn’t I know?  H-how could I not know what was going on?  Why couldn’t I feel it?  I still don’t have any answers to that… other than I wasn’t meant to.

Aurora told me later that my dad looked back at them all through the doors.  He wore his normal smile.  “Don’t be sad for too long, my loves.  We’ll see each other again.  I love you all.”  Then he looked at my mother.  “My Queen.  Thank you.  Thank you for everything.  I love you.  I’ll be waiting.”

Sophia and I had come inside by this time and I was still oblivious.  Until I heard my mother’s wail of agony.

And then I knew.  Something ran through me then.  It was like a lance through my heart and that’s when I realized that I couldn’t feel my father anymore.  Always before, there was an… awareness of those around me, particularly those I shared blood with.  It wasn’t very overt, but it was always there.  But now… that awareness of my father was simply… gone.

None of us handled it well.  My brother and I did our best to comfort mom.

But I’m afraid that there is so little we can do…  Not when it feels like we’re missing a piece of ourselves.  I can’t imagine how mom feels.  When she isn’t sobbing uncontrollably, she just stands there, looking lost.  I don’t know what to do for her.  And then there’s my daughter.  Poor Aurora.  She was so close to her grandfather.  And with all the grief around her… she’s just being bombarded.

It didn’t end there.  Grim had barely left us, taking away my father, before he returned.  This time for our dear Gabe.  The old fella had been close with my father and I think watching him die had been too much for the poor dog.

Hasn’t Grim done enough?  He took dad… and I never got to say goodbye.  Now Gabe.  Could it get any worse?  It can… it really can.  I can’t help but think that we get so complacent, that we can’t help but take things for granted.  We go through life, getting used to something.  For me, it was my parents.  Death happens, I knew that.   But they just seemed so… eternal, I guess.  I never thought that I’d lose them.  It just… never entered my mind.

I’d just gotten Aurora to lie down when I heard a whisper in my mind, <”Take care of them, Draco.  You are my heir, my first born.  I love you, my son.  We’ll meet again.”>  I tore out of my daughter’s room and took the spiral stairs two at a time.  I got to my mother’s room.  But it was too late.  <”Goodbye everyone.”>

Losing Dad had been too much for her.  She died of a broken heart.  A part of me wants to rage… weren’t we enough to keep her here?  Didn’t we matter?  But another part understands all too well.  The thought of losing Sophia, after living a lifetime together… and my dad was really what made her.  If not for him, I’m not sure how her time here would have played out.  He gave her something no one else could.  Losing that, losing him… it broke her spirit.  She was never a normal Sim to begin with.  I don’t know what my aunt’s game was in what she did to my mother.  But my mother made the most of her situation here.  I don’t doubt that she loved us.  But she couldn’t stay.  Not without my father.

While it angers me and it saddens me… I understand.  I’m no longer numb now.  But I can’t succumb to what I’m filled with now.  I have a family to take care of.


The last few days have been more than hard.  Before, I felt numb.  Now… there are so many emotions, I don’t know what to do with all of it.  I’m trying to be strong, trying to keep it together for the family.  My parents would want that.  But it’s hard.  It’s so very hard.  We lay mom and dad to rest a couple days ago.  We didn’t have a service; mom and dad wouldn’t want that.  They would have wanted us to celebrate their life.

Monte Vista is an old village.  On our property, we found what had probably been an old wine cellar or maybe even a crypt.  We had it dug out and finished off.  This will be where our family is laid to rest.  Above ground, a mausoleum was also built, a place to show life, as my parents would have wanted.  As I said, we lay mom and dad to rest, side by side as it should be.

In the mausoleum, they each have a corner.  Dad’s holds the easel, with the last painting he had been working on as well as one of our favorite paintings of his.  Mom’s corner holds her potions and her spell books and components.  It seems like so little, but I can’t help but feel that they’d appreciate this.

As much as this hurts, there is another who feels it more.  My daughter.  Poor Aurora… I don’t know what to do for her.  Losing her grandparents has been devastating to her.  She was so close with both of them.

Art club, which she had been going to since elementary school, had a ceremony for her.  She had won a painting competition she had been in.  During her speech… she’d lost it.  Bursting into tears, she’d run out, sobbing.  I found her outside the school, bent over, trying to stop the tears.


With everything going on, we did have a good bit of news.  Amidst all the grief and sadness, there is life.  There is always life.  Falkor ran off to the hospital to be with Faye.  She gave birth to their second child, a little girl they called Katherine Elise Wyvern.

After the “services” were over and things had begun to settle down just a little bit, we got another surprise.  A gentleman called.  He called himself Gerome Giacomo.  He was a lawyer, he was dad’s lawyer.  Apparently, he and mom had left a letter with him.  Could be called a will, I suppose.  In it, they left the house and the land to me, Sophia, and Aurora.  But they didn’t forget Falkor and his family.

Falkor, the letter read, we know you wanted a home of your own, a place to raise your family.  We’re sorry that we couldn’t be here for you more, to see your children grow up.  I know it isn’t much, but I hope you will accept this; Sophia’s mother and father left her their home, but she has no need of it and placed it in our care.  We want you to have it.  It will be your and Faye’s home and should give you plenty of room for you and your children.  I’m sorry we aren’t there for you, my boys.  Your mother and I love you both very much.  Give our love to your families.  We’ll meet again, someday.

Love, forever and always,

David Michael Haynes and Celestia Wyvern-Haynes

Falkor had been a big help to us.  But he was right.  He and I talked about it.  “Draco, it’s time,” he told me softly.  “Mom and Dad are-are gone.  I miss them too.  But it’s time to move on.  You have a family of your own now.  I do, too.  Little Katherine’s a toddler now, Rickie’s in elementary already.  It’s time.  I want to live with my family.”

I gave him a hug and hung on a little bit.  “Take care of yourself, little brother,” I murmured.  “You know you’re always welcome.”

He grinned a little.  “Same goes for you, ya know.  Come and visit.  The kids would love to see you, you and Sophia and Aurora.”  He frowned.  “How’s she doing, by the way?”

“She’s… withdrawn.  Her mother and I can’t get her to open up.  When she’s ready…”  I shrugged.  “I can’t force her to talk about it.  I can only hope that she’ll talk to us when she’s ready.”  I slapped him on the back and then waved at him and his family as they loaded the last of their things up and then left.


The house is quieter without my brother and Faye running around.  I still wake up, expecting to see my dad in the kitchen, mixing up pancake batter or see my mom playing with one of the dogs.  It hits me hard at times.  I finally let loose.  My wife just held me to her, letting me get it out.  She had known this is what I needed since we lost them both.

It felt… good, surprisingly.  I’m always going to miss them and while I’m fully prepared for it to sneak up on me every now and again, life moves on.  I’m going to live life, like they would have wanted.  I’m going to keep doing what I need to, concentrating on my family and on my career.  It’s because of them that I can.  They gave me everything in life.  I can only return that favor by being what they would have expected of me.

Good bye mom and dad.  You will never be forgotten.  We had a plaque made from old photos of mom and dad, then hung it up.  I think it looks good.

In memorium of David Haynes and his beloved wife, Celestia Wyvern-Haynes.  May you watch over us always.


 

Chapter 14: A Few Surprises

My little girl… I probably should stop calling her that, shouldn’t I?  She’s not so little anymore.  It seems like before my very eyes she went from a little nooboo wrapped in her little pink blanket and now she’s a teenage, going for her first day of high school.  Before I know it, she’s going to be a young adult and off to University… find a guy and-… Ok, gonna stop there.  I REALLY don’t want to think about that kinda stuff at the moment.  Not where my daughter is concerned.  As I was saying, she went to her first day of high school today.

Just like when she was in elementary school, she comes right home and heads up to my parents’ deck to sit out there to do her homework.  She’s just not much of an inside girl.  I don’t blame her.  She certainly takes after her mother.

My wife still insists upon spending time outside, training, no matter the weather.  At least we haven’t had a repeat of before.  I don’t think I could handle another episode like that, honestly.  I told her that the other day and she laughed.  “Oh, please.  You’re as fit as I am.  You’ll live to a ripe old age.”

“Not if my wife has a habit of scarin’ me half to death,” I retorted, grinning.  I do have to admit, though, watching her work out certainly isn’t a hardship.  There is definitely something about a woman who knows how to handle herself.

Luckily, the weather is starting to warm up and now everyone’s gettin’ in on the pool action.  Including my parents and my daughter.  I might have snuck in there once or twice as well, though I’ve been too busy with work lately to really enjoy the nice weather or the pool.

Monte Vista is a peaceful place, for the most part, but we have our share of petty crimes.  We also have quite the reputation for investigative work and often are asked by other towns or cities for assistance.  I’m a Lieutenant now so I have a small division to look after, to oversee.

It’s rewarding work, though it keeps me away from home all hours of the night and day, but I spend what time I can with everyone.  Once I rise a bit more in rank, I’ll see about slowing down a bit, maybe.


I’m gonna be an uncle!  Faye’s been out sick for a little while and I found out why today.  It was my day off and I was just relaxing on the couch, watching some TV for once, when I happened to look out the window and saw Faye come waddling up to the door.  Yup, waddling

I recognized the gait.  Sophia had walked just like that.  And hey, I’m paid to observe.  “So that’s why you’ve been out of work!” I exclaimed, grinning from ear to ear.  Then I turned to look at my brother.  “You knew!  How could you not tell us!?”

He shrugged and winked at me, throwing an arm around his fiancé’s waist.  “We wanted it to be a surprise.  Right, love?”

Faye smiled sheepishly.  “He told me I wasn’t allowed to tell.  And to be honest, I didn’t realize what it was at first.  Just thought I had some bad food at the diner.  But when it continued, I suspected it was something else.  I got a test and sure enough… When Falkor came over to visit and help me with my parents, I told everyone.  Then he swore me to secrecy.”

Falkor held up a hand before I could yell at him some more.  “Part of it was because I wanted everyone here and you’ve been busy lately.  The other part was because Faye’s morning sickness has been pretty bad and she hasn’t been out of bed much.”

“That’s true.  Haven’t wanted to get up or I risk another mad dash to the toilet,” my future sister in law murmured, making a face.

My brother kissed her, then leaned down to rub his girl’s belly, murmuring to their unborn child.

Then he pulled her close.  “I’m gonna be a daddy,” he murmured to her.

Then he turned to us all.  Everyone had gathered in the living room once Faye had arrived.  “I’m gonna be a father!” he announced.  There were cheers and tears and lots and lots of hugging.  Of course, there was talk about the wedding as well.

Even with Faye being pregnant, with her parents’ health declining, they’re pushing the wedding back a little bit.  Though it’s delayed, they see each other every day as it is.  If she’s not at our house, Falkor’s at hers when he isn’t at work.  I overheard a conversation between Dad and Falkor as I was coming into the kitchen to grab something to eat before work.  The two sat at the table.

“You don’t have to worry about it.  We have plenty of room here.  You know that.”

“I know that, Dad, and Faye does too.  But we’ve talked about it.  Draco’s the oldest.  The house is his and his family’s.  It’s ok, really.”  He grinned.  “Being in our own place will give us a little space to spread out, provide more grandchildren.  You can’t tell me you and mom don’t want more.”

Our dad laughed.  “No, I suppose I can’t tell you that.  And while your mother and I would rather keep you all here, with us, we understand.  Well, I do.  Your mother will pretend not to, but she does.”

I stepped out then.  “Falkor, you guys don’t have to leave.  Really.”

My brother let out an exasperated sigh, then laughed again.  “Not you too!  Draco, what I just told Dad is true.  It’s what Faye and I want.  The house is yours.  It’ll be Aurora’s someday as well.  And that’s fine with us.  Honestly, I’m not sure how long Faye’s parents will be around and they’ve offered us their house.  We’re going to take it.  Don’t worry, we’ll visit all the time.”

As much as I wanted to argue, I really couldn’t.  I wanted my brother and his family here, with us, but everyone has to find their own way.  Hadn’t I told my wife just that when she had talked about how Aurora seemed so very alone?  Aurora made that choice.  She does things her own way.  That’s all Falkor and Faye would be doing.  We may not like it, but we have to accept it.  And really, I’m proud of my brother.  Proud of both of them.  I can’t wait to meet my niece or nephew!


I think having Faye around is giving my wife ideas.  We keep talking about having another, but it just hasn’t seemed like a good time.  Sophia is constantly whispering to Faye’s belly and rubbing it gently.  I almost feel guilty about it.  But with as much as I’m working, I don’t want to leave Sophia home by herself with a baby.  And yes, I know Aurora would be there, as would my parents, but still.  I don’t want to miss things more than I already am.


Celestia curled up against her husband.  “I wish Falkor would reconsider.”

“I know you do, my Queen.  I do, too,” David murmured, holding her close.  He kissed her temple.  “But they need to make their own way, you know that.  And it’s not like they’ll be moving far.”

The Queen of the Dragons sighed.  “I know.  It’s not the same though.  But you’re right.”  A soft smile stretched the corners of her mouth upward as she took his hand in her own.

“We’ve done well, haven’t we?”

“We have,” David confirmed.  “We have two beautiful boys who are now very good men.  They’ve found someone who completes them as much as you and I complete each other.  We have a beautiful granddaughter and another grandchild on the way.  Thank you, Celestia.  Thank you for being a part of my life and making all this possible.”

Celestia hugged him tightly, unable to speak past the lump in her throat.  But in her mind, she murmured, ‘Thank you, Lyall.’


Dark red lips curled up into a soft, almost tender smile.  “You’re welcome, sister.”  Lyall sat back from the softly glowing orb in front of her.  It was good to see Celestia HAPPY.  But it wasn’t over yet… The Goddess frowned.  No, it wasn’t over.  But there had been a beginning.  And the wheels were in motion.  They could only hope that what they were doing would work…


Today’s been a rather exciting day.  I got home to some chaos.  Apparently, Aurora had been chatting with her aunt Faye about her favorite subject: photography.

According to her, she was going to ask her aunt to pose for her when she stopped, getting a funny look on her face.  “It’s time,” my daughter murmured softly.  Not a moment later, Faye froze and clutched at her belly, letting out a wail.

Yeah… I think my brother lost his mind a little bit.  At first, he began to laugh hysterically, then just hop around like a fool.  I can relate.  When Sophia went into labor, I was a mess.  Eventually, though he recovered his head enough and he took his laboring fiancé to the hospital.

The rest of us met them there, though we waited out in the waiting room.  A few hours later, my brother came running out, a grin threatening to split his face open.  “It’s a boy!  It’s a boy!”  There were another round of hugs and tears all around.  We went in and visited with Faye and the baby for a little while and then took our leave, leaving Falkor with his family.  As we left though, Faye called to Aurora.  “Rora, how did you know?” she asked her curiously.

It took a while for Aurora to answer, but finally, she shrugged.  “I could feel it.  I… can feel things from people.  I actually felt him at that moment.”  Before anyone could comment on that, she darted out.  Sophia and I shared a concerned look.  We’d have to talk to our daughter later on.  We’d give her space and some time first, though.


Falkor emerged after his fiancé, still feeling on cloud 9.  In her arms, Faye held their son, Rickie Merik Wyvern.

When they got to Faye’s house, Falkor took his child into his arms and just looked down at him, smiling softly.  “Hello there, little one.  Welcome to the world.”


Things have calmed down a little, at least as calm as they can get around here.  Faye and Donald are still living at her parents’ house, but alternate arrangements are being made as we speak.  My daughter had her prom tonight.  She took my breath away.  She was beautiful.

Her mother and I waited up for her, of course.  No matter how much Sophia told me not to, I couldn’t help it.  I’m a protective papa, guilty as charged.  Soon as the door opened, I leapt up.  “How was it sweetie?”

My daughter laughed.  “It was great, dad!  I couldn’t stop looking at all the different dresses.  The way the light glinted off all the jewelry.  I really wish I’d thought to bring a clutch so that I could have taken my camera!”  We all took a seat in the living room so she could regale us of tales of her night.  She gushed about the shapes and the colors, the lighting and the way the angles and composition… frankly, makes my head spin a little.  Unfortunately, she certainly didn’t inherit her artistic talent from me.  That would be her mother and grandfather.

She did tell me that she got rejected for a dance.  Immediately, my hackles went up.  “What!?  Someone rejected you?  Who?  What little-“

“Draco!” my wife commanded sharply.  I subsided, but sat there brooding.

“Dad,” Aurora murmured, leaning over and putting a hand on my knee.  “It’s ok.  Really.”  The way she looked at me had me frowning.

“Aurora… baby, what you said to your aunt.  About being able to feel other people.  What did you mean?”

She sighed and didn’t answer right away.  “I asked Gram about it when I was younger.  She calls it empathy.  It seems to have to do with the power that runs through us.  Aside from the abilities that all of us have, we all seem to have something else as well.  You’ve always been really perceptive and it’s why you’re such a good cop.  Grandma has a multitude of different powers, but because she’s trapped in mortal form, they’re weaker than what they were.  Me, I have this empathy.  I can feel what other people are feeling.”

“Oh baby,” Sophia murmured, looking down.  Then she looked back up.  “I-is that why you prefer being on your own or with just us?”

Aurora nodded.  She smiled at her mother.  “It’s alright, truly.”  She stood up and gave both of us a hug and kiss.  “Don’t feel bad, ok?  I probably should have told you before now, but I’m alright with it.  It’s as natural as breathing, really.  I’m going to go to bed.  I love you both.  Night.”

We murmured good night, and then Sophia and I stayed up a bit longer, talking about this newest revelation.  “What do you think?” she asked me, standing up.  Almost without words, we headed outside.  Like our daughter, we both enjoyed the outdoors and star gazing was one of our favorite pastimes.  And it was a good, clear night.  So we settled ourselves on the ground.

Sophia sidled close and I tucked her against my side.  “Well?”

“I think that she’s got it handled.  I wish she had told us earlier though.  If for no other reason, just so we’d know.  It can’t be easy for her, constantly feeling what other people do.”  Sophia nodded in agreement.  We sat there in silence for a long time, then we went back inside.

Sophia went to bed.  Before I joined her, I opened the door to Aurora’s room, just to check on her.  I grinned when I saw her dresser.  She had told us that she had won Prom Queen.  She had lovingly placed the crown and the picture there.

I closed the door, then slipped back to our room and slid into bed next to my wife.  I smiled softly as I slid into sleep.


The last few days have been hectic.  Got a break in a huge case my squad and I had been working.  And with Faye still on maternity leave, I spent a lot of time at the station.  If I wasn’t there, I was writing reports on the computer.

And I’m going to be busy for the foreseeable future… Faye came over today, like usual.  She’s pregnant again.

Apparently, my brother hasn’t quite figured out how that happens… I say that with a hint of sarcasm, but actually, I’m very happy for them, truly.  It’s just with being so short-handed, I won’t be home for a while.  Hopefully, by the time the baby is born, things will have slowed down enough and I’ll get a chance to see my nephew and the new baby.

Faye and Falkor are, of course, over the moon about the good news.  It really is sweet to watch them together.  This has pushed their plans back a little bit once again, but they don’t seem to mind.


 

Chapter 13: A Proud Brother and a Father’s Commentary

So there were a few hitches with Falkor’s birthday.  Nothing major.  It wasn’t like my toddler birthday, at least.  I don’t really remember it, of course, but my mother’s always been a bit leery of the candles after that.  The biggest issue was that Faye couldn’t come over until later.  So we waited until she could show up; the reason that Faye hadn’t been able to come over right away is because she was celebrating her own birthday.

Falkor stepped up to the cake, pondering a wish.  He looked at Faye, then blew out the candles.  The sparkles surrounded him as he did a spin.

And just like that, my little brother left teen-hood behind and was a Young Adult.

Once we all partook of the cake, my little brother had a question for Miss Faye.  The rest of us made ourselves scarce… actually, we were all huddled just beyond the arch that lead into the diningroom, listening in.  “What’s Uncle Falkor doing, Papa?”

I looked down at Aurora, grinning even as I put a finger to my lips.  “Just watch, baby.  You’ll see.”

I watched as Falkor lean forward and whisper something into Faye’s ear.

She looked a bit confused for a moment… at least until my little brother got down on one knee and pulled the box out of his pocket.  Gotta hand it to him… his hand didn’t even shake once.  “Faye Almeria-Mancini,” he began.  “You’ve opened my eyes to so many things.  I can’t see my life without you in it.  Would you make me the happiest man in the world and become my wife?”

There was silence for a moment and we all leaned closer, trying to hear her reply.  I’m pretty sure we were all holding our breath too.  I know my mom sure was.

Just when we thought there’d be nothing, a great squeal split the air and we craned our heads more and got to watch as Faye launched herself at Falkor, knocking him back a little bit.  Luckily, he kept his feet.  “Yesyesyesyesyesyes!” she kept blabbering.

The rest of the family figured we’d given them enough time, so then we converged on them, everyone hugging and tears flowed freely, let me tell you.  A bit of fizzy nectar was brought out and we all toasted my little brother and his fiancé.  Faye spent the night and the ladies were all up late, talking wedding plans.  The wedding won’t be for a bit yet.  Faye doesn’t want to leave her parents just yet.  Her baby brother is still quite young and she doesn’t feel right leaving too soon.  Not to mention that her parents are getting up there in years and with a new baby, they have a lot to deal with.  Much to my parents’ dismay, the two are planning on moving out shortly after their wedding.  But for now, they’re gonna concentrate on working, earning some money, and just enjoying their engagement.

The next day was my little brother’s graduation.  We all dressed up in our best and then headed out to city hall.

My little brother and Faye looked good up on stage.  There was definitely a swell of proud.  That was my little brother up there.  I’m afraid I was quite loud when it came to cheering when his name was called.  Instead of blushing though, he grinned at me and even pumped his fist as he collected his diploma.  I looked down at my daughter who was sitting next to me.  I realized with quite a jolt that it wouldn’t be that much longer before I’d be watching HER walk across that stage…   I don’t think I’m ready for that…  In fact, I KNOW I’m not.  I’m trying really hard not to think about that until I absolutely have to.

Remember how much Falkor was really pretty indifferent to school, more just saw it as a necessary evil?  Imagine our surprise when he headed to the school and applied for a job there!  Ignore his outfit… he had just gotten out of the pool.  He assured us that he changed in the locker room before putting in his application.  Regardless of his unusual attire, he got the job.  Seems surreal that my little brother is someday going to be a teacher…

It’s a bit odd for my daughter, too.  She came home from school and was doing her homework, grumbling a little about how all the kids in her class kept asking her about the new playground monitor and how she knows him.  Seems he delighted in tugging on her pigtails a little on the playground.  It’s actually nice to know that my brother will be looking after my daughter as much as he can.  She may not like it so much, but… well, it gives me peace of mind.

Not that I don’t trust her.  She’s got a pretty level head on her shoulders, really.  Though actually, she doesn’t seem to have many friends at school.  She mostly wanders around town after school, snapping pictures.  She really loves her photography.  Sophia is a little worried about how obsessed she seems with it.  I told her not to worry.  Aurora’s her own person.  She’ll make friends in her own time.


I hate writing bad news… the paper always gets a little water stained.  We lost Darcy today.  We can’t say it was unexpected.  She’d been slowing down a bit lately and spent most of her days just sleeping.  She’d rotate between all of our rooms.  Today, she was in Aurora’s room.  We heard a noise, a pained howl from Gage.  We rushed in just in time to watch as the Grim Reaper appeared outside before he disappeared, leaving us only a small urn.

The family is pretty depressed.  Though we expected it, it’s still not easy to lose a treasured family pet.  But at least she can go and join her mate, who we all knew she missed.  RIP Darcy Wyvern.  You will be missed.

Though Faye doesn’t live with us officially, she’s over here just about every night after she goes home after work.  Oh!  Did I mention that Faye joined the force?  I used what influence I have and she’s been assigned as my partner.  Falkor asked me to look after his fiancé.  He would never ask her to give up her dream of becoming a cop, but he does worry for her.  I promised him I’d do all I could to look after her.

After dinner, she and Falkor disappear into his room.

I uh… well, I was half asleep and hadn’t had my coffee yet.  I went to use the bathroom first… and walked in on Miss Faye.  The door hadn’t been locked and the door had been ajar.  She was just climbing off her knees, looking rather green.

“You ok?” I asked her, shaking my head, trying to wake myself up.

“Ugh,” she murmured.  “Yeah.”  A sheepish grin lit her face.  “Think I just ate too much of the leftover cake.  Been craving sweets like crazy.”

“Yeah, too much sugar can have that affect.  Why don’t ya take a few hours flex time?  I can go in, get started on the paperwork.  You can join me after you feel better.”

“You sure, Draco?”

“Yes, I’m positive.  Don’t worry, I’ll put ya through your paces today to make up for it,” I told her with a grin.  She laughed as she padded back to my brother’s room to catch a little bit more sleep.  Then I left for work.  I wanted to make sure I got home on time tonight.  My little girl was becoming a teenager that night.

We were going to have a small party, just the family.  I’m both dreading this and looking forward to it.  Man… just can’t believe my little girl is growing so fast!


Soon as my shift ended, I hurried home.  I may or may not have used the sirens on my patrol car to help me beat the traffic…  I parked and then went inside.  “Hey dad,” I greet as I strolled in.  He was busy making the batter for Aurora’s cake.

“Just gotta get this in the pan, then in the oven.  Should be just about ready by the time our little Northern Light comes home from school.  How you holdin’ up?”

“Gotta say, I’m… torn.  I know she’s gonna be a beautiful young woman… but I wish it wasn’t NOW,” I admitted, shrugging one shoulder.

My dad laughed.  “Yeah, I know the feeling.  Your mother and I both do.  Time moves on, son.  There isn’t much any of us can do about it but enjoy each and every moment, even the ones that we might dread.”

Dad always seems to have great advice.  Everyone in the family tends to look to him for… well, a lot.  I can definitely see why.  I hope I’m half as wise as he is when I get to be his age.

Soon enough, Aurora came home from school and it was time.  She stood on the stool, barely thought of a wish before she leaned down to blow out the candles.

With what I would call an almost wicked little grin, she spun around as the sparkles engulfed her.

Wow… my little girl… she’s not so little now is she?  After a quick trip to the dresser and mirror, she sorted out her own look.  My daughter is gorgeous, isn’t she?  Looks so much like her mother.  Just can’t get over it, really.

I couldn’t help but stare at Aurora for a bit, until my wife took my attention away.  “We’ve done a good job, huh?” she asked me, grinning.

“Yes, yes we have.  Wow, Soph.  I still can’t believe it.”

“Mhm, is a little hard to believe, isn’t it?  And just think… before too much longer, we most likely will be meeting her first boyfriend.”

I choked on the slurp of soda I’d been about to take.  She laughed and pounded me on the back.  “That was a bit too easy,” she remarked, grinning wickedly.

“Tryin’ to kill me,” I muttered, glaring at her.  She laughed and kissed me.

What am I gonna do with the ladies in my family, hm?  Speaking of my wife… she gave us a bit of a scare the other day.  I told you she really loves our pool?  The woman’s a bit crazy about her fitness.  Even though it’s a heated pool, with winter in full swing, it’s still really cold out there.  Does that stop my wife?  Not a chance…

She must not have realized how very cold it was.  She felt dizzy and light headed.  Ended up fainting out there in the snow!  I wasn’t home; I’d had to run to the station to take care of a bit of mix-up with some evidence.  Luckily, my brother was home.  In fact, he and my daughter had sat down for a cut-throat game of Sim’s Underground.

He looked out the window and saw Sophia laying in the snow.  He rushed out.  Between him and one of the paparazzi… yes, they are still hanging around the house.  Every now and again, one of them will get just a bit too inquisitive and I threaten to haul them in for trespassing.  But this time, I owe them.

Of course… I had to find this out after I had gotten home.  Sophia insisted that she was fine.  Falkor checked her out and then gave her a bit of an earful about staying out in the cold.  He was pretty freaked out, really.  He and Sophia are pretty close and when my brother gets scared, he gets upset.

They got her bundled up and made her relax.  Needless to say, once I got home and found out what happened, I was a bit freaked out myself-


“A bit freaked out?” Sophia asked, looking over her husband’s shoulder as he wrote.  “Draco, you acted like you did when I was in labor with Aurora.”  She grinned at her husband, one brow arched.  “Glossing over that, are you?”

“Maybe,” he murmured, trying to act dignified.  “What do you expect?  How would you be if the positions were reversed?”

“Hm, you have a point.  Still, at least make sure your journal is at least somewhat accurate, right?”

“Fine, fine,” he grumbled, as he erased what he’d written.


Ok, so when I got home, I was pretty upset.  I panicked, alright?  Sorry, the wife is looking over my shoulder and keeps snorting when I try to pass it off.  Though it turned out alright, the fact that my wife had almost frozen to death got to me… wouldn’t it get to anyone?  Anyway, I did eventually calm down, though even I have to admit that I was feeling REALLY protective for the next couple of days and wouldn’t let Sophia get out of bed or do a whole lot.

After a few days of this, my wife had finally had enough.  “Draco, I am warning you.  If you don’t stop and go back to work, I may be forced to beat you senseless.”  Considering that my wife had been steadily advancing in her martial arts and the look in her eye… I wasn’t sure she wouldn’t follow through with that threat.  So I admitted defeat.  Pulling me close, she looked into my eyes.  “Draco, I’m fine.  I promise.  I know I scared you and I’m sorry for that.  But I’m not a fragile piece of glass.  Did I mess up?  Yes.  But I’ve learned my lesson.  I’m fine now.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.  Now, c’mere.  Kiss me like you mean it.”

Who can resist an order like that, hm?  Certainly not me.


 

Chapter 12: On to Childhood

Doesn’t seem possible… but my little girl is about to become a child.  As has been the tradition, we had a small party, just the family.  Sophia took her to the cake.  Somehow, she’s the more practical one of us in this regard.  Much like my mother, there was a large part of me that wanted Aurora to stay little forever.  However, I know better.  And so, the whole family gathered around the cake to watch Aurora grow up.

“Candles, mama, candles!” she babbled.  “Down, down!”

My wife obliged and leaned down so that Aurora could blow out the candles, though Sophia helped her a bit. Once the candle was blown out, we sat her on the floor.  She stood up and whirled around as the sparkles hit.


And now my baby was no longer a baby, but a child.  She took herself to the mirror, politely refusing her mother’s offer of help.  Hm, she’s already pretty independent.  Going to have to watch out for that…  But I have to say, my little girl is beautiful.  I’m not biased at all, of course…

After we all sat down to eat cake, I was sitting there, feeling a little nostalgic and maybe just a touch melancholy as I thought about how fast time flies.  Aurora came over to me.  “Daddy?”

“Yes, sweetheart?”

“Don’t be sad.  I’m still your little girl.”

“Oh, Aurora…”  She wrapped her arms around my neck and gave me a tight squeeze.  “That’s right, you’ll always be my little girl.”

“Love you, daddy.”

“Love you too, my little Northern Light.”

While we were gone, Mom and Dad contracted for some work to be done around the house.  The dogs have their own little covered porch just for them.  They thought about enclosing it, but since they are all long-haired dogs and the cold doesn’t bother them with their fluffy coats, they left the walls open.

Mom and Dad did this because they added on a separate nursery, taking out the space that had been their area up in the top right hand corner there.  I jokingly asked my parents if they were giving us a hint by any chance.

Dad grinned at me and winked.  My mother protested, though I could tell by the hint of the blush on her cheeks that she certainly wouldn’t mind another grandbaby.  Sophia and I are open to it, but we’re not forcing the issue at the moment.  If we have another one, then we have another one.

Dad confided in me that mom is boasting about her granddaughter to anyone that will listen; like when she heads to the Elixir Shop to consign more of her serums.

There is also a pool with an adjacent hot tub as well.  “A pool hm?” I asked my dad as we looked out the window.

My dad shrugged.  “What kid doesn’t want a pool?  What adult for that matter?”  He laughed.  “See?  Looks like your wife is already enjoying it.”

I looked out, and sure enough, there was Sophia, floating languidly on a little inflatable raft.  I joined my dad in laughing.  “Well then…”

Looking back on the pictures from when Mom and Dad first started out, it’s hard to believe how far they’ve come.  They started with what amounted to little more than a one room shack.

They worked and scraped by more often than not, relying on the money from dad’s paintings or mom’s potions or anything that the dogs ended up finding in order for us to have this now:

It’s humbling to think about really.  It makes me appreciate things even more.  They’ve given me the tools to be able to raise my daughter in comfort and make sure she wants for nothing.  I’m more and more grateful for that every day.  It’s the kind of thing that lets me run around after my daughter in a simple game of tag without having to worry about whether there will be enough money for food the next day.


Haven’t written in a while, mainly because it’s been a bit of the same, day in and day out.  Aurora started elementary school, of course and is doing even better than I did, I think.  She doesn’t ride the bus, preferring to use her powers to get her there.  I’ve been steadily progressing within the department and am very close to getting a promotion to being a traffic cop.  Sophia is still diligently working on her Sim-Fu.

In other news, though, both Gage and Gabe have become elders now.  Like their father, though, it hasn’t seemed to slow them down.

There’s been another doggie birthday; Hercules is now a mature dog.

And as you can see, now that he’s big enough, he’s already become protective of Aurora and he often sleeps in her bed at night.

Unfortunately, there is some bad news.  My wife received a call a few days ago that her mother wasn’t doing well.  Her father has been gone for a little while now.  Since Aurora was born, Sophia hasn’t been close with her family.  As mayor, a teenage daughter who became pregnant doesn’t look very good so except for a few phone calls every now and again, Sophia had no family but ours.  They’ve never even met Aurora.  It never really bothered my wife, though.  She had never been that close to her parents or to her older brother.  But still… when the inevitable call came from Eli that their mother was gone, it was difficult for her.  Imagine our surprise when Sophia was left with half of their estate.  Over $300,000.  Maybe Adalina had regretted cutting herself off from her only daughter and from her granddaughter and this was a way to apologize for it.

We talked for a long while about whether to accept it, but finally, we decided that we would use it for Aurora, put it in an account for her for University or anything that she wanted it for later on down the road.  Which… she told her mother just the other day that she really wants to learn about photography.  We have an old camera around, so Sophia gave it to her so she can start practicing now.

Winter’s here and it’s been pretty bitterly cold.  Normally, it’s not quite this bad.  The deep snow is keeping us all inside.  Mom and Dad have been up in their master suite for a while, just enjoying each other’s company.

I have to admit, Sophia and I are following their example.  What?  Aurora’s in school, so have to enjoy our time when we can, right?

Despite the cold and the amounts of snow, my little girl loves the outdoors enough that she goes up to my parents’ balcony and sits at the table out there to do her homework.

Oh and did I mention that my little brother got an award from the school?  His time in the art club (a way to keep close to Faye, from what my father has said) was good for him, got him socializing a bit more.  He’s proudly displayed the little trophy on his dresser.

Speaking of my little brother, we’re actually getting ready because in two days, he’ll be turning into a Young Adult.  He’ll join the rest of us in the work force.  He’s been a bit close-mouthed about what he wants to do after high school.  We only know he doesn’t want to go to University.  He’s done with school, he says.  We’ll see.  I have to go help get things ready.  We’re not having a big party, just the family- and Faye, of course.