Chapter 42: Revelations

Author’s Note: Ok, so I apologize if this update feels a bit all over the place.  I’m not all that happy with it, but I hope you guys enjoy it.  Another huge shoutout to Miss Ivane.  She has once again been a huge help and our collaboration continues to be such a blast.  So if you haven’t done so yet, go check out the Chronicles of Clarke, the link is in the right hand side of the blog!  Go, do it now!  If there are any errors in this, it is entirely my fault XD

Any gathering of the Wyverns is a boisterous affair.  We just can’t help ourselves.  I know it can be a bit… much for those not used to it.  We all tend to talk at the same time, argue a little, laugh a lot.  I know it’s a lot of chaos, though I wouldn’t have it any other way.  And despite my brother’s propensity for avoiding a lot of contact for long periods of time, I don’t think he would either.  Watching him with Cali, the way he glides his hand up and down her back, or how he’ll brush his fingers along her elbow.  Cali does much the same, a little touch here, or a brush of her fingertips there.  I recognize the look in their eyes, the way the eyes almost seem to glow.

It’s good to see.  I’d love any woman my brother brought home because he loves her.  But I always hoped I could love the woman herself.  And I can already see that I will.  But something’s been bothering me.  Cali is what I call a “broadcaster”.  Most regular humans have some form of shielding on their minds.  But just like there are some with natural shields, there are some that tend to broadcast their thoughts.  I’d been able to pick up things from Cali since she arrived.  The poor thing was nervous, but it was much more than that.  I had my suspicions, but I’ll look into a little later.

For now, I was concentrating on my brother.

I’ve never been one to beat around the bush, especially not where my family was concerned.  I wanted the story, the full story from him.  “So Alduin,” I began, watching him carefully.  “You died.”

That silenced the chatter.  We’d all been wanting to know.  No one but me knew how to broach the subject.  After what happened in Bridgeport, I knew the only way to get through painful news was to get it over with.

Alduin told his story and as I listened, images flashed in my mind.  Normally, I had a strict code about not intruding.  I picked up enough surface thoughts that I didn’t need to pry.  But I was making an exception in this case.  I didn’t need my telepathy to know that my brother was hiding something.  I knew him too well.  Even the way he met my gaze, then dropped his for a split second had warning bells going off.  The story that he told was bad enough to make my blood run cold.  But then I got a shock.  A picture of two men I knew too well flashed in my brain.  My eyes narrowed dangerously at my brother, but he was looking at Cali, his hand rubbing her back in small circles, reassuring her.

The Treskers… I had to bring my hand to my lap to hide the fact that it was clenched into a fist hard enough that my nails dug into my palm.  They’d gone after my brother… The realization that he knew their name hit me and it took all my control to keep the growl from escaping my throat.  Me and little brother were going to have a talk.  Yes we would…

If that little revelation wasn’t enough, there was finding out about two new groups.  The Guardians and the Caste.  I’d heard whispers of these names while in Bridgeport, but from what I could tell then, they didn’t operate here much.  There were other Realms, if you listened to those in the know.  I hadn’t liked what I’d heard.  Both sides had their own agendas, and mostly they opposed one another.  Their interest in my brother’s girlfriend made me nervous.  The thought of this Natalya having a connection to them would require me looking into things more and it added another punch to my theory.

<”Luna, what’s wrong?”> my husband asked silently.

<”I’ll tell you later.”>

Pop and I handled the questions.  He and I had shared a look.  Of everyone aside from Roark, he and I had the most contacts within Monte Vista as well as abroad.  Every little bit would help us dig into this more.  And you can bet that we’d be doing a lot of digging.  After everything that’s happened to this family, we weren’t going to let something else happen to Alduin or Cali.

Unless you counted me boxing his ears… which he’d be getting later, that much I promised myself.  But the cries of my son saved him… for the moment.  Thought it was the perfect time to introduce Ryu to his Uncle and his Aunt.  I’d fed him already and placed him in the crib, letting them get a good look at him.

If it were up to my brother, that’s all he would do, I knew.  I could see the pride in his eyes, but there was also trepidation there.  Alduin had never been exposed to kids, really.  Well, it was time for a crash course.  If the look in Cali’s eyes was any indication, my brother wouldn’t have much of a choice in that exposure.  The best way to deal with Alduin was just to go through it, make it quick, like pulling off a bandaid fast.

After I’d placed Ryu in his arms, Alduin had certainly frozen, but it didn’t take him long to warm up to Ryu.  Of course, my son knew just how to get to him too.  Seeing the look on my brother’s face, the same wonder I feel whenever I hold my son had me smiling.  When Cali got into the picture, it was just beautiful.

Of course, I had to howl at the look on his face after Cali whispered something into his ear.  I’m sure it was along the lines of how many kids she wanted someday.  After rescuing my son and laying him down for his nap, we wandered back out into the hall.

Mom and Dad, Pop and Nan had already gone off to do various chores or just go relax.  So it ended up that Roark, Cali, Alduin, and I stood chatting.  Unsurprisingly, Roark and Alduin stepped off a ways while Cali and I gushed over shoes.  She’d been admiring mine, apparently.  “We definitely have to go shopping together before you guys leave!” I told her.  “We’ll make it a girl’s day, just the two of us.”

Roark nodded to my brother.  “Luna’s been looking forward to this visit for a while.”  He grinned.  “She was up before dawn this morning.”

“Wait, Luna?  My sister?  The one who needed three cups of coffee to feel human even at noon?”

My husband laughed.  “Yes, that Luna.”

I could feel Alduin look at me sideways and I didn’t need to see his face to see that smirk of his.  “It’s good to be home.  I’ve missed this place.  And it’s good to see Luna’s home.  How are you finding our dear Monte Vista?”

Roark smiled.  I could feel his gaze on me.  I was always very aware of my husband’s gaze.  “It’s home,” he replied after a moment.  “I was never attached to Bridgeport and had I been stationed somewhere else all those years ago, would have gone there.  But this is home now.”  He eyed me again.

Alduin grinned.  “That’s good to hear.  You won’t have to go anywhere else will you?  Any other deployments?”

Roark shook his head.  “I doubt it.  Few missions here and there, but nothing extended.  This will be my post for the foreseeable future.  What about you?  Luna tells me you’ll be going on to Aurora Skies eventually?”

My brother nodded.  I had to swallow at that.  I knew Alduin was a grown up now.  And that means he would go his own way, but it seemed so far.  We’d just gotten him back… and I realized that I was thinking just like my mother had before I went to Bridgeport.  Sucks when things come back, huh?

“I’m about to go down for my workout, wanna join me, Alduin?” Roark asked.

“Sure, why not.  Cali, you ok here with Luna?”

I rolled my eyes and faced my brother with my hands on my hips.  “Shoo, go now.  I’ll entertain your girlfriend.  Place nice, you two.”

Roark just grinned.  “That’s no fun!”

I laughed.  “Go!  Both of you!”


 

Roark looked up at the chin bar.  He extended his arms and gripped the bar.  His brother-in-law was on the weight machine.  The two men worked out in silence for a long moment.

“So,” Roark began nonchalantly.  “How long have you been working for the Agency, Alduin?”

Alduin froze.  He slowly turned his head toward the vampire.  “What did you say?”

“I was an intelligent asset early in my career,” Roark continued.  “I dealt with some of their operatives.  Someone like you?  Obviously powerful mediumistic abilities, a Wyvern… you guys have had a reputation for a while, thanks to your grandfather.  Yeah, they’d salivate for a chance at someone like you.”

Alduin thought furiously, thinking of denying it all.  Then he just let out a laugh.  “Great… you and my sister are meant for each other.  Never could keep a secret from her…  Does she know?”

“She suspects.”  Roark grinned as he continued to do pull ups.  “There isn’t much she doesn’t suspect.  And I’m sure she’ll get it out of you later.  But I haven’t told her anything.  I figure that’ll be up to you.  Thought I should warn you though.  You know how she is once she gets on a scent… and let’s face it, we both know you kept something back from your story.”

Alduin winced.  “I’m doomed, aren’t I?”

Roark laughed.  “Yeah, pretty much.  That’s ok, I’ll be right there with ya, when she finds out I suspected and that we had this conversation.  Something to be said for living dangerously, huh?”

The younger man couldn’t help but let out a snort.  “Yeah, if that’s what ya wanna call it.”  He sobered up.  “So, what was the purpose of this conversation?”

Roark was silent for a long time.  Finally, he said, “The one who tried to kill you, you know who they are, don’t you?  You didn’t tell us for a reason.  I can only assume that reason is to protect someone you care about.”

“Yeah… yeah, I gotta figure out that if you know about the Agency, and could put two and two together, you must have a pretty good idea who it was.  I… I know my sister.  She’ll go after them as soon as she knows it was the Treskers.  She’s too impulsive not to.  I hope that you have better discipline.”

Alduin couldn’t see the way Roark’s eyes glowed with a cold light.  “I have enough discipline not to hunt them down like the dogs they are.  For now.  I know my wife, too.  I don’t doubt her courage or her resolve… or the ability to land smack dab in the middle of trouble at a moment’s notice.  I don’t want her going after them.  And she will.”

The two men lapsed into silence, both with their own thoughts, but running along very similar veins.


 

I looked at the tiny bundle in my arms.  “That’s my beautiful boy,” I cooed.  “Who’s a good boy?”

Ryu let out a giggle and a coo.

I lay my son back into his crib and stretched a little.  It had been a good day.  Seeing my brother and Cali had been much needed.  It had also raised questions.  Questions that kept running through my mind.  I wandered into my room, letting it all stew in my brain.  There was my husband, freshly showered and dressed.  “Hey handsome.”

“Hello beautiful,” he greeted.

“So, did you and my brother have a nice workout?” I asked casually.

Roark just grinned.  “We did,” he answered, his eyes gleaming.

I stamped my foot.  “Argh, I hate it when you do that.  Not gonna tell me anything, are ya?”

“Nope.  What fun would that be?  You’ll get it out of him tomorrow, anyway, right?”

Grumbling under my breath, I let out a sigh.  “True enough.  C’mon, let’s relax for a while, then get some sleep.”

“Great idea.”


 

“So, was it as bad as you thought?” Alduin asked as his girlfriend settled onto his bed.  He was as giddy as a school boy to be able to sleep in the bed he’d grown up in with the person who meant the world to him.  Just as it had been like some kind of wonderful dream to watch her meet his family and see the way they just… folded her right in.

Cali’s smile was beautiful. “I am in love with your family,” she murmured.

He pulled her close into his arms.  “I’m so glad to hear you say that.  They’re in love with you, too, in case you didn’t notice.”

“Oh yeah? What’s not to love right?” She grinned flirtatiously and flicked her brows at him but she couldn’t quite suppress the shudder as Why would they love you?  You bring nothing special to them ran through her mind.

Alduin grinned at her.  “Cold?  Well c’mere, I’ll warm you up.”  He waggled his eyebrows at her even as his lips covered hers.


 

Chapter 41: An Emotional Homecoming

Author’s Note:  This is a major collaboration with Ivane and I give her a huge shoutout!  So, if you haven’t met the Clarkes yet, click on the link in the right hand side of the page.  She is also the one that got the screenshots for this part, so huge thank you Ivane!

I stared at my computer screen for a moment, my eyes drifting to the time in the corner.  When you’re a kid, you always feel like time seems to slow down just when you need the time to pass quickly.  Well, it doesn’t get any better when you’re an adult either.  I’d been up since before dawn, which is a miracle for me.  I’m a night owl, through and through.  Good thing I married a vampire, huh?  Anyway, I’d lain in bed next to Roark for a while, but I was too excited to sleep.  A few days ago, I’d begun taking on a few cases again.  Mostly a lot of computer work, internet searches, maybe a very tiny bit of some illicit hacking…  Simple stuff.  I wasn’t quite ready to go back out into the field.  Not yet.  But it was really hard to concentrate at that point.  I’d had a few too many cups of coffee, too, I think.

Alduin and his girlfriend were due in a bit later that morning.  I wanted to see my brother.  I’d missed him something fierce.  I’d been having dreams lately.  They weren’t visions this time.  Just the aftermath of that last vision and knowing I could have… no, I did lose my brother, even if only for a little while.  Knowing he made it back didn’t lesson the fear nor the pain that had settled in my chest.  I sat back and closed my eyes, letting my shields down.  It had become a habit to keep them up at all times.  But every now and again, I just liked to take stock.  I knew Roark was in the nursery, cooing at his son.  I could tell what he was thinking.  Since we’d gotten married, we’d begun to work with each other on establishing links.  It could be difficult at times because a vampire’s shields were naturally strong.  Where I had had to work to establish a shield, he had to work to bring it down.

I could only grin.  Roark loved his time with his son.  And I could see Roark lifting up Ryu, our boy giggling like mad.  He loved his daddy.

I stretched my senses further.  Dad and Pop were at their normal place at the chess table.  That wasn’t anything new.  Pop was about to lose his queen to Dad’s knight.  I grinned.  Pop lured him in every time with that move and Dad still couldn’t resist.  Nan was just about to cook up a big batch of her famous pancakes.  And Mom was grabbing the trash to take it out.  Mom was ecstatic.  We’d had an early thaw, though winter wasn’t quite done yet, I don’t think.  Mom was happy though that the weather would be nice for Alduin and Cali’s visit.  That and she hated bundling up for the cold.

My eyes widened and I had to swallow.  I jolted upright in the chair.  They were here… Alduin and Calysta were finally here!  They were standing outside our door!

I was mortified to find tears welling up.  I’d love to blame it on those residual pregnancy hormones, but the truth was, I was so happy that he was here.  But I couldn’t go out there with tears in my eyes.  Alduin would take one look and run away.  The poor boy couldn’t stand to see a woman cry.  They undid him like nothing else.  So I wiped my eyes and tried to compose myself.  Still, couldn’t help but keep my senses attuned.

I know Mom had to sense them and I could see the smile playing at her lips.  She went to the trash can, waving at the two of them.

Before the bag hit the bottom of the trashcan, Mom was throwing her arms around my brother’s neck.  “Oh my boy,” she murmured, sniffling.  “It’s so good to see you.”

“Hey, Mom.”  Alduin held onto Mom for a bit.  “It’s good to be home.”

They separated and Mom stood there, looking at the lovely young woman Alduin had brought with him.  “Mom,” Alduin said, the pride and love unmistakable in his voice.  “This is Cali.  Cali, this is my mom, Aurora Wyvern.”

Mom smiled warmly at her, her red eyes full of kindness.  “Welcome to Monte Vista, to our home, sweetheart.  C’mon, your Nan just made her world-famous pancakes, Alduin.  You guys came just in time for breakfast!”

“We ate on the plane, Mom.  Part of the first class package you and Dad paid for.  We’ll be right in, though.”  Alduin looked at Calysta, smiling at her.  “Ready for the madness?” he murmured softly.  Seeing that look in my brother’s eyes made me sigh sappily as I wandered out to the kitchen.

I had to giggle when I heard her reply, “Don’t be scared, Alduin.  I’ll hold your hand.”  Her voice was amused, though it didn’t take a telepath to notice that there was a slight undercurrent to her tone.  She was nervous.  Poor thing.  Hoped she was ready for us.  Though something told me that she’d do just fine.

Calysta and Alduin made their way inside.  I restrained myself… though just barely, from leaping at my brother.  Didn’t want to scare the poor girl.  My brother on the other hand, I had no problem doing that to him, of course.  But I’d let her get accustomed to us a little first.  Nan had just gotten up from the table and was wandering into the kitchen when she saw Alduin.  I heard her sniffle and saw her have to reach up to wipe at her eyes.  “My boy’s home!” she murmured.

Ah, Nan, don’t do that!  You’ll get me started again!

“You c’mere right now, my boy!” she demanded, grabbing her grandson in a bear hug.  The woman may have been over 90 now, but it hadn’t slowed her down at all, nor made her in anyway frail.  I could hear the audible ‘oof’ from Alduin as he hugged her.

“Heya, Nan.  Sure did miss you.”

He stepped back and Cali stepped forward, a pretty smile on her face.  “Hi, I’m Calysta Clarke.  I’m Alduin’s girlfriend.”

Nan beamed at her.  “Yes you are, dear.  Welcome to our home, child.  Feel free to call me Nan.  Probably should warn you, this bunch is a little on the overwhelming side, so I hope we don’t scare you too badly.”

Alduin laughed.  “Don’t worry, Nan.  I’ve given her plenty of warning about this crew here.”

As Alduin and Cali chatted with Nan, I crept up behind them.  Ok, so maybe I couldn’t resist it anymore.  Nothing like being thrown into the deepend, right?

With a yell of, “You’re mine, little brother!” I leapt on Alduin’s back.  “Hey, this isn’t fair!  Who gave you permission to grow up!?”

Had to hand it to him, he managed to keep his feet.  I heard Calysta let out a tinkling, musical laugh even as Alduin kept me from falling off of his back.  Nan was rolling her eyes.  “My goodness, Luna,” she scolded, though I could see the smile on her face.  I could hear the chuckle rumbling up from his chest.  I leapt off and he turned around to face me.  We just stared at one another for a long moment.

<”Hey, little brother,”> I murmured in his mind.  I had missed this connection.  Distance did affect my abilities.  There was something about being able to talk mind to mind that just accentuated the closeness.

<”It’s good to see you, sis.  Very good.  I… I was worried about you.  We all were.”>

<”I know and I’m sorry about that.  I shouldn’t have worried everyone like that.  I was ashamed, Alduin.  Ashamed and so confused.  A-admitting what I did, to you, especially, was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.  I-I didn’t want it to change how you saw me.”>

<”Luna, I love you.  Nothing will change that and nothing will change how I see you.  You’re my big sister.  Though…”>  I could see that glint in his eyes that meant he was going to say something that I was going to have to smack him for later.  <”You are a little shorter now, aren’t you?”>

I had to laugh, even as I smacked his shoulder.  “Watch it you,” I growled aloud.  Communicating through telepathy was a much quicker form of speaking compared to using speech.  Only a couple seconds had gone by.  I turned around to face Calysta, a big smile on my face.

“Hi, I’m Luna Wyvern.  Welcome to the family, little sister.”


 

Interlude Four: The Darkness Thickens

Bridgeport, a few weeks after Alaric’s death


 

The city’s lights faded away in the rearview mirror of the expensive car.

Belisama Donovan sat behind the wheel, her grip on the steering wheel made her knuckles white.  She had thought about ignoring this summons.  Had actually contemplated just ignoring and doing what she wanted.  But right on the heels of that thought was the possible consequences from ignoring the summons.  Though she hated to admit it, those thoughts sent a shiver down her spine.  And so, she found herself following a winding road out of the city.

It looked like nothing more than a small stone shack on the far outskirts of the city.  But looks could be deceiving.  Bridgeport was home to one of the world’s only super, super max security prison facility.  It was the kind of place that was used to house supernaturals.  The only place that could, aside from the Netherworld, anyway.  Belisama looked disdainfully at the shack façade as she climbed out of her car.  She walked through the double doors into the barren interior.  In front of her was an elevator.

She rode it down and instinctively knew that they were several stories below the surface.  The wards, both technological and magical, made her skin crawl.  Hmph, she’s the one locked up like a rat in a cage and she has the nerve to summon me like a wayward child!

She went through the security station.  There were no guards here.  There didn’t need to be.  Those wards were more than enough to keep the inmates in line.  And if by some miracle, they managed to escape, the unseen guards would take care of them.

Another shudder ran over Belisama’s flesh, raising goosebumps along her arms.  She sauntered through the double doors in front of her.

There was almost a sucking sound, as if the next little room was some sort of a vacuum.  Then she was through the last set of double doors, a huge window looking through into a room on the other side.

The woman on the cot had been waiting for this visitor.  She didn’t need to look to know it was her.  Her energy was only too familiar.  Elvira supposed it was better late than never, though the lack of obedience would need to be dealt with.

Belisama looked around, that unmistakable sneer on her face.  “How the mighty have fallen,” she murmured, though not even she was brave enough to say it any louder.  She watched out of the corner of her eye as Elvira levered herself off the dingy cot in the corner of the small cell.

Elvira wanted to wipe the smirk off the arrogant chit’s face, but that would have to wait.  They had much to discuss first.

The elder vampire matriarch went and sat down in the small chair in the cell, steepling her hands in front of her as she rested her elbows on her knees.  “I’m glad you could finally join me,” she murmured.  She had no need to raise her voice.  She would be heard.  Belisama had gone right up to the glass, peering in.

That voice… it sent a chill down Belisama’s spine.  Her mother in law had always been able to do that.  The power seemed to roll off Elvira Slayer in waves.  One could forget it for short periods, but never when they were in her presence.  That thought of defiance, of refusing to sit, flew out of Belisama’s mind.  She took the seat, even as Elvira stood up, her arms crossed over her chest.

“Good girl,” Elvira murmured.  “Now, shall we get down to business?”

“That would be appreciated.”  Belisama managed to inject enough disdain in there to make it clear what she thought of being summoned there, yet Elvira had to admire her pluck.  At least for a short amount of time.

“Word has reached me that you plan on traveling to Monte Vista.  Didn’t I make myself clear already?  Any moves against the Wyverns are to be made only with my express permission.”

Belisama’s eyes narrowed dangerously.  “I see your network is as strong as ever.  There’s no point in lying.  Yes, I plan on going there.  I plan on ripping Luna Wyvern’s heart out of her chest while that traitor watches.”

Elvira sneered.  “Do you even have any idea who you’re dealing with?  The Wyverns are powerful.  More powerful than you can imagine.  And their home is surrounded by wards.  Wards that will turn you to dust before you could attempt to step across the threshold.”

“You’d let them get away with they have!?” Belisama hissed, clenching her hands into fists.  “They killed your son, my husband!”  Fury and what might have been grief colored her pale cheeks.

“I’m well aware of what they’ve done.”  Elvira’s voice was as cold as an Arctic wind and her eyes flashed dangerously.  “They will pay, in due time.  But touching them in their home territory is not only foolish but dangerous.  I gave those orders for a reason.  Don’t you think I would have already taken care of them by now if caution wasn’t needed?”

“I want her dead!” Belisama exploded.  “She deserves to die for what she did!  Alaric tried to protect her and it got him killed!”

She had begun to rise from her chair but then dropped back in shock as the lights all around her went out.  Elvira hadn’t moved.  But all the lights had simply died… Belisama knew fear then.  Elvira could manipulate things in this place?

“Yes, she deserves to die,” Elvira continued, as if nothing untoward had occurred.  “They all do for their interference.  I have already begun to ensure that, but the fact remains that attacking them on their home turf is out of the question.  Disobey me in this at your own peril, Belisama.  My name, nor my power can protect you in Monte Vista.”

Belisama knew a dismissal when she heard it and she was only too happy to make a beeline for the door.  She couldn’t help looking over her shoulder as if something monster was behind her.  But even as she left Elvira’s presence, fury and something akin to shame assailed her.  How dare that woman order her about like some dog.  She had a right to avenge her husband’s death.  So their home was warded.  There were other ways to get to someone.


 

Elvira watched Belisama’s retreat with the same stony expression.  Only once she could feel the girl leave the premises did she allow the malicious smile to cross her lips.  The seeds had been planted.  She knew Belisama better than the girl knew herself.  Even terrified, the girl’s rebellious streak and need to prove that she was her own boss would send her running to Monte Vista.  Elvira very much doubted Belisama would succeed in her mission, though even if the girl managed to do half of what she wanted, it would be worth it.  And Elvira had no doubt that the Wyverns would rid her of the nuisance that Belisama had become.  It was killing two birds with one stone, as far as she saw it.  And if Belisama managed to kill Luna Wyvern?  All the better.

Her eyes glowed red in the absence of light and the abyss seemed to look back.


 

Chapter 40: The Newest Wyverns

Author’s Note: This is a smaller update, but I figure you guys would enjoy it ^^  Not a whole lot happens, so sorry if anyone is bored XD  Let me give a shoutout to Blamsart!  I used at least one of their poses in this chapter and will be using many more later!

To:  Baby Brother (970-541-1234)

Subject: Hey Uncle Alduin!

Ryu says: “Aren’t I cute, uncle Alduin?  Mommy says that you had better come to visit me soon or you’re going to have a whole family reunion come down on your head.  I wouldn’t make her mad.  Mommy means it.”

Alduin stared at the picture of his nephew that his sister had just texted to him.  He had to admit, even with him swaddled in blue like that, the kid was cute.  Of course, he didn’t know the first thing about kids.  In fact, as cute as the kid was, Alduin wondered how his sister handled something so fragile.  He had to grin at the message, at least the first part.  The second part had him gulping.  He knew his sister meant that wholeheartedly and he had no doubt whatsoever that everyone would come, including the baby!  A shudder passed over his frame and he grimaced.  Taking his phone out, he sent a quick reply: He’s adorable, sis.  He’s gonna be a real cutie.  You don’t know how happy I am that the both of you are ok.  He hit send.

Next thing he knew, his phone was ringing.  He winced when he saw the caller ID.  “Hey, Luna.”

“Don’t you ‘hey, Luna’ me!”  Alduin gulped.  He was used to his sister’s banter.  What he wasn’t used to was hearing her voice crack like that.

“Oh, c’mon, Luna, you aren’t crying are you?”

“So what if I am?  I have a right to cry.  Are you ok?”

He thought about making light of it, as he normally would have, as he often did with Cali.  But this was Luna.  And if she was upset enough to be crying, he owed her more than that.  “I’m alive, sis.  Which I count as pretty ok.”

“Alduin…” she warned, sniffling.

The thought of Luna actually breaking down on the other end of the line had him panicking.  “Luna, really.  I’m fine.  There’s some… residual pain, but I’m fine.  I promise.”

“You better be,” she murmured, swallowing.  He could hear her take a deep breath.  “When are you coming home?”

“Thought about after the term is over.”

“You’re bringing, Cali right?”

Alduin chuckled.  His sister didn’t have a subtle bone in her body and the innocent way in which she asked that had warning bells glaring in his head.  “Yes, Cali will be coming with me,” he told her, tongue-in-cheek.  He’d let Luna stew a bit. Except, he knew very well that she had no patience.

Luna growled over the phone.  “Don’t get cute!  I want the scoop on her little brother!  You guys are an item, aren’t you?  I want details!”

“Crimeny, Luna,” Alduin laughed.  It was good to hear Luna’s voice, even when she was prying information out of him.  “Yeah, you could say we’re an item.  I promise, I’ll tell you all about it, ok?  Promise.”

“I’ll hold ya to it.  Just remember, don’t even think about trying to get out of visiting with your Cali.  I guarantee if you try, you’ll have an invasion.  Is that understood?”

Alduin rolled his eyes, rubbing his free hand on the back of his neck.  “Yes, ma’am.  We’ll be there.  I’ll give you flight info later, alright?”

“You better.”  Her heard her breath hitch.  “And take care of yourself, Alduin.  I mean it.  I-I love you, little brother.”

“I love you, too, Luna.  Take care of yourself and that little guy, ok?  We’ll see each other soon.”


 

I had to wipe away the tears as I hung up my phone.  I wanted my little boy.  I couldn’t be sad when I was holding him.  I opened the door, then stopped.  I quietly closed the door.  Tears stood in my eyes.  “There ya go, little man,” my husband murmured, “all changed and fed.  That’s my boy.”

As I watched the tableau, my throat constricted.  Watching Roark hold our son, hearing the love in his voice brought home just what I had.  My brother was safe, I’d get to see him in a few weeks.  I had a husband who loved me and a beautiful little boy.

I must have made a noise… or maybe he could just sense me.  Whatever it was, he turned around.  He smiled.  “Hey, look.  There’s your Mama, Ryu.  Isn’t she gorgeous?”  Our son cooed in answer.  Roark laughed.  “See?  He knows the way to a girl’s heart already.”

I sniffled.  “I used to tell my brother roses did the trick.”

Roark laughed as he gently lowered Ryu back into his crib.  After placing a gentle kiss on his son’s forehead, he went to me and picked me up in a bear hug, then found my lips with his.

I sniffled some more.  “What’s this now?” he asked, putting me at arm’s length.  “Baby, why are you crying?”

“M-must be hormones,” I murmured, looking away, “residual hormones.”

“Luna, baby, talk to me,” he murmured, putting a hand on my shoulders, holding me in place.

“I-I just got off the phone with Alduin.  I knew he was ok, but… hearing his voice…  I got weepy.  I went to go cuddle Ryu and there you were with him.  It just… made my heart melt.”

Roark smiled.  His smile was soft and tender.  And it never failed to make my heart turn over.  He picked me up and carried me into our room.  He just sat down on the edge of the bed, holding me close.  He didn’t say anything, just held me close for a long moment.

I couldn’t help laughing, though.  “Snic, you’re snoring, there girl,” I murmured, raising my head to look at the dog that had decided our bed was the perfect place to sleep.

Roark snickered.  “Silly mutt.”  He leaned over and ruffled the dog’s fur.  Snic was one of Roark and Cyn’s dogs.  She had a sister named Snac.  I haven’t had much of a chance to introduce them.  Both are pure bred collies.

Snic gave a groan and picked her head up.  Yawning, she stood up and padded out.  I imagine she was going to go find Ares.  Snic and Snac were fitting in just fine around here.  I had my suspicions.  They were getting along really well. Snic had taken quite the shine to Ares and Snac adored Apollo.

Roark kissed me gently.  “I love you.”

I linked my arms around his neck.  “I love you, too.  I love you so much.”

“I think you’ll feel better once you go take a shower, stand in the spray like you like to.”

I nodded.  That was a good idea.  I reluctantly got up and padded into the attached bath.  After a good long shower, I wandered out.  My husband lay on our bed, looking relaxed.  He smiled at me and winked.

“You look comfortable.”

“Just waiting for my wife.”  He stood up and followed me out into the hall.  Then he grabbed my arm, spun me around and dipped me toward the floor, covering my lips with his.

Mom walked by.  “If you two want some alone time, that’s perfectly fine with me.  I’m going to go and spend a bit of time with my grandson.”  She walked right into the nursery and shut the door.  Roark and I laughed.  Our son is quite the hit, as you can imagine.

His gram adores him.  Gramps does, too.  Soon as Dad gets home from the hospital, he makes a bee-line to the nursery to get a bit of time in with his grandson.

Of course, Pop and Nan dote on their first great-grandson something fierce, too.

Even his Aunt Cyn can’t resist him.

She was leery at first.  “W-what if I drop him?” she asked fearfully.  But Roark just laughed and he gently laid Ryu in her arms.  Cyn looked down into his eyes and the wonder on her face was something to behold.  “H-he’s so tiny,” she murmured.  “And so cute.”

Between all the people in the house vying for his attention, it leaves Roark and I time to just be together.  Even though it’s still winter, one of our favorite things to do every night is just to go out and sit in the snow, looking up at the stars.


 

It never ceases to amaze me the capacity for caring that my family has.  I knew they’d welcome Roark and his sister into our family.  And even knowing that, watching them handle her, even in one of her fragile states, is something else.  She’s taken to watching the gardening channel with Nan just about every night.

Just this evening, they unveiled something they’d been working on.  My great-grandmother had had quite the garden once upon a time.  Pop and Dad has spent the last few days digging through the snow, taking the plants and then replanting them in the greenhouse they had built.  Now, Cyn can care for these plants at all hours and not have to worry about weather or more importantly, the sun.

She was ecstatic.  We have a hard time getting her out of the garden, now.

But she’s very happy.  Even ventured to get a part time job at the Science Center here in town.  It took a little convincing.  She’d loved the job in Bridgeport, but she was still getting used to Monte Vista.  It’s a good sign though.


 

Well, my suspicions were confirmed!  It seems Snic is pregnant with a litter of pups.

Boy, is this house going to be a full one before too long…  And I can’t wait.  Before too much longer, Alduin will be home for a while, and I’ll get to actually meet his girl.  Life is good right now.


 

Chapter 39: Unbreakable Bonds

A/N: Ok, first off, sorry, got a bit wordy on this chapter lol and not as many screenshots to go with the words.  Still, hope you enjoy it.  HUGE shoutout to Miss Ivane once again.  Head to the link on the right side of the page to check out Alduin and Cali’s adventures and figure out just what’s going on with Alduin!  We did a lot of collaboration with this chapter.  In fact, the conversation between Cali and Luna is all her and I going back and forth.  So definitely check it out and I hope you enjoy!

So, our child still refuses to appear.  I was hoping I could avoid a C-section but if our little one doesn’t decide to show themselves soon, I go in next week for the cesarean.  I was eating some of my Nan’s apple pancakes (she makes some of the best pancakes, really.  Why yes, pancakes have been one of my cravings, can ya tell?).  Pop had scored a plate of them too, while Nan had grabbed some of the leftover Goopy Carbonara.  “Don’t worry, sweetie.  It’ll be ok,” Nan told me.  “Babies seem to have their own set schedules and never mind what those who are waiting for them want.”

Pop nodded his agreement.  “Yes, your mother decided she was going to come a wee bit early… on our prom night.”  He grinned at Nan, a shared memory that made Nan chuckle.

“Yes, she did.  And your Pop here… he managed to panic so much that he forgot we weren’t going to prom.  Had even changed into his tux.  So he looked pretty handsome in the hospital room, though.”

Pop chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck.  “Thought I was prepared.  Turns out, not so much.”

I grinned.  I’d heard the story a couple times.  But I never actually tired of hearing it.  “Yeah, I know.  I just… want to hold them so much, ya know?”

“Oh we know, sweetie,” Nan murmured, sympathy tinging her voice.  “We know.  You will soon, though.”  She grinned again.  “We’re all looking forward to your little one’s arrival.”

“Your mother just told me of a dream she had the other night about getting to hold her first grandchild,” Pop said with a grin.  “I think she’s just as anxious as you are.”

I grimaced, then laughed.  “Yeah, she and Dad both.  They’re trying to hide it, but I can tell.”  Just the other morning, Dad and I had been chatting after a quick snack.  Well, I had had the snack.  Dad, I think, just wanted to talk.

“You’re taking your vitamins, still right?”

“Yes, Dad.  I’m still taking them.  If I don’t, Roark comes in, shaking the bottle and giving me that look of his…”

He laughed.  “Good for him.  He’s only looking after you.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I grumbled.  “I know, I know.  Just tired of feeling like a beached whale.”

I could tell Dad was fighting to keep from grinning.  “Still smarting a little over the lecture he gave you the other day?”


 

The incident Dad was talking about happened a few days ago.  I’d noticed that the bathroom attached to our bedroom was filthy.  Roark’s first day at the base here had been earlier in the week, so he’d been unable to clean anything.  Without really thinking anything of it, I decided it was time to fix the leak in the shower.  So I took a monkey wrench and began tightening the connections.

I made a little bit of a mess on the floor, so I cleaned that up.

And since I was there, might as well clean the toilet right?

Except… well, when Roark got home and found me bending over so precariously over the toilet, he had a few choice words for me.  “What under the Plumbob are you doing?” he growled at me.

I have to admit that I jumped a bit and whirled around.  My cheeks heated and I glared at him.  “You don’t need to scare me!”

“Luna,” he ground out, obviously trying to find patience.  “You are nine months pregnant.  What are you doing in here?  Did you actually fix the shower too?”  He smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand.  “She’s trying to give me a heart attack,” he muttered, more to himself than me.

“Wait, you’re a vampire… can you even have a heart attack?” I asked him, smiling widely.

He just gave me a dark stare.

“You can’t be doing this!” he finally exploded.  “Your doctor- who happens to be your father-, your mother, your grandmother and grandfather have all told you to take it easy.  Is this taking it easy?”

“I’m not a child, Roark,” I told him in a low voice, my eyes narrowing.  I was a grown woman, yet he made me feel like I was back in high school again, getting a lecture from one of my teachers for disrupting class or something.

He blew out a breath and stepped toward me, putting both hands around my waist as he stared into my eyes.  “No, you aren’t.  That’s true.  You’re my wife.  My very pregnant, very stubborn wife.”

I framed his face with my hands, pursing my lips a little.  “I know you mean well.  And I know I probably shouldn’t be doing things like that at this stage.  Though… if it would induce labor, I’m all for it, really-“

“Luna…” he warned, his voice low, though I could see the smirk he tried to hide.

I grinned at him.  “I honestly didn’t think anything of it, babe.  Really.  It wasn’t like I was defying orders… I just didn’t think anything of it.  I’d been meaning to fix the leak and the bathroom needed a good scrub down.  So I just did it.”

He frowned.  “And what if you had fallen?”  I opened my mouth to retort that I hadn’t fallen but the look on his face stopped me.  “Luna, I couldn’t take it if anything happened to you, or to our baby.  I know nothing did and I’m very grateful for that.  But the fact is, it could have.  You’re already almost three weeks over-do.  And you said yourself your balance isn’t at its best, right?”

I sighed.  “No, no it isn’t.  I’m sorry, ok?  I’ll be a good little girl.”

“Oh, c’mon.  Don’t be like that, please.”  He stepped back a bit and placed his hand on my very swollen stomach.  “Hey little one, tell your mom that she needs to take care of herself, huh?  She’s gotta be ready for when you decide you’re ready to face the world.”

The expression on his face as he spoke to the life that was growing within me, then when he looked up at my face had me swallowing back any comment as well as a few tears.  I know he worries about me.  Worries about our child.  I also know I’m not the easiest person to deal with at times, either.  So I have to give him a lot of credit.  If I were him, I might have throttled me quite a while ago.


 

I grimaced.  “No.  No, I know he was right.  Though if you tell him I said that, I will make you pay for it, Dad.  Just so you know.”

Dad snorted.  “Uh huh.  Sure, baby girl.  Whatever you say.”  He got up and patted me on the head.  “Don’t worry, you’ll get to hold your little one soon enough.”  Roark and I had purposefully waited to find out the sex of the baby.  We wanted to be surprised.  Of course, we were hoping to have already met our little one by this time.  They had other plans, apparently.


 

In other news, Cyn has settled in quite nicely.  She really loves her own little space.

We added a desk for her at her request, so she has a place to put her laptop that she brought with her.  And Mom and Dad even had an extra washer and dryer installed in the garage for her to use.

She’s been spending most of her time up there, on her own.  She’s never had a place just to herself.  Roark was a bit too leery of it because of being in Bridgeport.  That place wasn’t easy on her.  Since she’s been here, she’s only had a few episodes and most of them she’s been able to take care of herself.

Roark went up to visit with her.  He says she seems quite content there.


 

All I can think about when I lay down to sleep is the baby.

Roark holds me as we fall asleep.  Only three more days, and then it’s time for the C-section.  I really shouldn’t be this worried.  Dad’s told me everything is fine.  I’m healthy and all the sonograms have assured us that the baby’s healthy too.  I just… want to hold my baby.  Patience has never been one of my virtues, if you couldn’t tell.

Knowing I’ve been having trouble sleeping, Roark suggested we do look at the night sky for a little while.  This time, he made sure I wore more appropriate attire.  It was still definitely cold, though it wasn’t quite as bad as it had been.  Spring would be there before too long.  I cuddled close to my husband’s side.  Husband… I still find it a little surreal to call Roark that.

It was a pretty night, clear skies with a small crescent of a moon.  I’d always loved the outdoors.  And there was something about getting to share it like that with Roark that took my breath away.  I giggled at something he’d whispered in my ear, when I froze.

A sob escaped my throat.  Images flashed through my mind.  I heard two gunshots, and saw my brother fall.  There was darkness, then there was a strange red glow.  The images stopped and I found myself in my husband’s arms as he carried me inside to our room.  “Roark,” I whispered.  “Al-alduin.  Something happened to my brother!”

He looked down at me as he laid me on our bed.  Worry creased his brow.  “You just lay here.  I’ll go talk with Jeff and Draco.  We’ll make some calls.  We’ll see if we can’t figure out what’s wrong.  Are you ok, Luna?  You’re awfully pale.”

I sat up and nodded.  “I’m fine, I want to come with you-“  I stood up and I could feel something loosen within me.  My eyes widened and I grabbed at my stomach.  “Roark,” I drew in a pained breath.  “Roark, the baby… my water just broke!”

He whirled around, his eyes as wide as saucers.  “Wait, what?  NOW?!”

“Yes now!” I shouted, a scream ripping from my throat.

Leave it to my child to choose NOW to decide to make their appearance.  After that first initial panic, Roark got it together.  He called for my Dad and Mom who came running.  They knew the gameplan.  Mom already had my bag ready.  Roark led me out the door, acting like a bit of a drill sergeant.

He helped me into his truck; it had 4-wheel drive and would be the only thing that would get us through all the snow still on the ground.  As he drove, his knuckles white on the steering wheel, he kept shooting me glances.

“Breathe, baby, breathe.  That’s it, in and out,” he coached, his voice soothing.  I had tears running down my face.  All I could think about was my brother.  I knew the vision for what it was: I’d seen something happen to him.  It wasn’t a vision of the future.  It had actually happened.  But even as I thought about that, the pain in my abdomen and other regions ripped another scream from my throat.  I had to concentrate.  I couldn’t do anything for Alduin right now.  Oh Watcher… Alduin, you had better be alright…

We got to the hospital in one piece and I waddled my way through the front door, Roark right there with me.

The staff came with a wheelchair and wheeled me off to the room.  The contractions were getting worse.  The pain made me hazy.  They got me into the room.  I’ll spare you the details here.  I have to say, Roark was a champ.  I owe that man several apologies.  It’s a good thing vampires are more resilient.  I’m pretty sure I would have broken his hand otherwise.  And I know I told him if he told me to breath one more time, I was going to beat him with the nearest blunt object.  But we survived it.  After close to six excruciating hours of solid pushing, our son, Ryu Alaric Wyvern, was born.

I wanted out of there as quickly as possible.  I wanted to get home.  Since Dad is Chief of Surgery at the hospital, there wasn’t a lot of arguing they could do.  So Roark and I took our son home.  We got back and I laid him in the crib.  The same crib that I had slept in when my parents brought me home.

Once I had laid my son down, I went out of the nursery.  Pop, Dad, and Roark were there.

“Has anyone heard from Alduin?” I asked, trying to keep my voice steady.

“Not yet, baby,” Dad confirmed.  He looked worried.  “Can you sense anything else?”

I shook my head.  After that first initial vision, there had been a tightness in my chest, like I couldn’t breathe.  Even after I’d given birth, I’d felt it.  But now…  I frowned and tried to concentrate.  It was hard to lower my shields.  I’d spent a lot of time learning how to put them in place.  Taking them down fully required effort.  But as they came down, I saw my brother laying on a bed, a young woman hovering over him.  I opened my eyes and blinked rapidly.  “I-I think he’s ok…”  I took out my phone.  “I’m going to call him.”

I walked out to the kitchen, my hands trembling as I hit the speed dial again.

The phone rang four times.  My heart sank with each ring.  Until I heard it pick up.  I almost cheered until I heard a very tentative- and very female- voice answer, “Hello?”

“My brother… This is Luna.  Is my brother ok?”

There was no answer for a long moment.  “Please… is he alright?”

I could hear the woman on the other end of the line- Cali.  This had to be Cali, the girl Alduin had told me about.  “I’m not sure exactly what happened, Luna,” she responded, “but he was shot last night.”

I had all I could do not to let out a wail.  Alduin… my little brother…  I was shaking, but I couldn’t make a sound.  She rushed on a little bit.  “I don’t know who did it… I just… saw him… and…”  Her voice broke.  I could tell she was on the verge of tears, maybe a total breakdown.

So I had to keep my voice steady, even a little soothing.  “What condition is he in now, Cali?  This is Cali, right?”

“Yes. I’m Calysta… He’s still unconscious, but he’s… recovering. The gunshots are… gone.  We’re back at the dorm.”

My eyes widened and I pinched the bridge of my nose.  In some way, that made sense.  It seemed everything was ok.  That pressure in my chest had disappeared and I didn’t feel anything from Alduin.  Yet I could still feel him, where I hadn’t been able to before.  I had to pull in a deep breath.  “Ok, back up.  Start at the beginning, ok?  What happened to my brother?”

I could hear a deep gulp of breath and when she began talking, I could barely keep up with the words.  “We were just hanging out at the theater.  Then he just asked me to run.  I was outside and I heard gunshots and I just ran in and there were these two guys screaming in frint… and then I saw Alduin-“  Here, her voice splintered, sounding shattered, “…there was blood all over the place.  He was still conscious and I just held him and…”  She stopped.  My own heart was hammering hard enough that I thought it would crack a rib.  “He died, Luna,” the girl whispered.  “Alduin died.”  I saw black for a moment.  Darkness closed over my eyes.  I knew she spoke truth.

I didn’t even recognize my own voice when I asked, “”What happened next, Calysta?”  She had told me he was alive.  So something had to have happened.  I wasn’t sure what, other than knowing my brother’s abilities with the spirit realm.

“It’s going to sound crazy…”  There was a lot of hesitation in her voice.  It was like she was afraid I wouldn’t believe her.  I waited.  As I listened, I realized how hard all this must have been on her.  The emotion in her voice… she loved my brother.  I didn’t need to be telepathic to tell that.  So I waited and let her get it out.  “…but someone I know came to the scene… T-they helped him.  They opened a way for him”

She hesitated, her voice breaking again.  “…I’m waiting for him to come back. Their magic worked. He’s breathing… The gunshot wounds are gone…”

My mind whirled around.  A door through the Netherworld.  It would have been the only way.  Cali sounded like she needed assurances as if she couldn’t really believe what she had seen with her own eyes.  Though I was holding tears of fear and relief back myself, I kept my voice steady.  “Alduin’s a Wyvern.  He’ll be ok.  He’ll come back.  Just give him a little time.  He’s got you to come back to.”  I let out a breath.  “Cali, when he wakes up, give him a message from me.  H-he has a little nephew now.  He’ll need to come and see him as soon as he has a chance ok?”

“Okay.”  Her voice sounded like that of a child and I knew she must have been going out of her mind with worry. “I’ll let him know, Luna.”

“You do that.  And Cali?  Thank you.  Go on, you’ll want to be there WHEN he wakes up.”  I hung the phone up and just stood there, swaying.

The tears that I had hidden from Cali swept down over my cheeks as I let it all out.  Alduin was alive.  He’d come back to us…  I remembered when he was just a little guy and I could hold him in my arms…

Someone had shot my little brother… I was going to find out who.  And there would be hell to pay.

I turned around and there was Roark.  He took one look at me and opened his arms.  I ran into them and buried my head against his chest, the sobs wracking my body.  He just picked me up and carried me to bed, holding me as I let it out.  I fell asleep with him holding me close.


 

Chapter 38: The Meaning of Family

We ate breakfast at the dining room table.  Conversation was light.  Roark sat there next to me, his voice quiet when he was asked a question, but otherwise he was silent.  Cyn sat there, looking all around her, sometimes in fascination, sometimes with an almost calculating look.  It was hard to know sometimes just what she was thinking.  My family was welcoming, smiling and joking like normal.  Once everyone had eaten (Cyn had finished her tube of plasma juice; Roark was nursing his, deep in thought), the dishes were cleared.  Nan stood up.  “Roark, Cyn,” she murmured.  “Welcome to our home, both of you.  We have something to show you both.  When Luna told us you were both coming, we had some work done.”

She looked at Roark and smiled.  “I know you worry about your sister, but you want her to have her privacy.  We think this will work nicely.”  She led the way to the garage.  “We had a small room constructed up there ages ago and just hadn’t really thought of what to do with it.  I think we found something.”  She ushered them up first.  I followed them.  I couldn’t believe it.  They’d turn it into a small efficiency apartment, decorated in bright yellows.  It had a mini fridge to house all the plasma juice she’d need, a double bed, a small bathroom, a large TV, and a sink.

Cyn went crazy.  She ran and jumped on the bed, and ran around the little space.  Roark just looked on, tears in his eyes.  “T-thank you,” he murmured gruffly, his arm around my waist.  He looked at my family.  “Thank you, all of you.  This-this-“  He let out a shuddering breath.  “What you’ve done here… I can’t ever repay you but-“

“Hush on this talk of repayment,” Nan scolded, hand on her hip.  “We’re family here, Roark.  Cyn’s family now, so we’re happy to do what we can.”  She smiled as she watched Cyn dive onto her bed face first again.  Pop, his stance much like Roark’s, with his arm snaked around my grandmother’s waist, nodded, grinning from ear to ear.

“Sophia’s right,” he announced.  “Family does what it needs to do to see to their own.  You’re our own now.”  He laughed at Cyn’s antics.  “Let’s let her enjoy herself.  We can all go have a cup of coffee… tea for you, Eclipse.”  I gave him a pout.  I missed coffee…

We all trooped back into the house, leaving Cyn to enjoy her new space.  We all ended up back at the dining room table.  We were too numerous for the island or even the living room now.  Mom, Dad, Nan, and Pop took a seat.  Roark was holding my hand.  After they were seated, he cleared his throat.  He looked at me, holding both of my hands in his.  Then he addressed my family- no, OUR family.  “I want to say something to all of you.  I want to thank you all.  I know you say I don’t have to.  But I want to.  I don’t have experience with a family like yours.  My own… you know who my mother is.  And that, in and of itself, is a miracle.  I made mistakes when it came to your daughter.  Mistakes I regret with all my heart.  I made those mistakes because I made assumptions.  You have welcomed me, the son of someone who has caused you all so much pain…”  I could see the tears in his eyes.  My own watered.

He cleared his throat.  “I didn’t believe Luna when she said you’d welcome me.  I’m sorry for that, baby.  I really am.”  He looked at them all now.  “I love her with all my heart.  I know she told you what happened.  No matter what went on between us, I want us to move on, to look to our future.  Our future together, our child.”  Now I was really crying.

“I just want you all to know that I am humbled by what I have been shown here by you all.  So thank you.”

Pop stood up.  He had a serious look on his face.  “The measure of a person is their actions.  What they do because- or despite- their blood, their environment says a lot about them.  Son, you’ve had a hard life, a lot harder than most.  What you’ve done is just short of miraculous.  You’ve looked after your sister and have done a heck of a job with her.  She’s happy and healthy.  I know her condition can be difficult to deal with.  But you’ve embraced it.  And I see the way you look at our Eclipse, like she’s your whole world.  I can’t ask more than that.”  The serious face fell away and his eyes twinkled as he winked.  “Especially not with this family.  Our women are a bit of a handful, after all.  We try to look after them, but-“  Nan reached up and smacked her husband on the shoulder.

“You better watch it, or you’ll need to be looked after,” she growled.  “Sit down, Draco.”  Her eyes twinkled with mirth… and something else as she looked at Roark.  She nodded.  Even my mother gave him a nod.

I was oblivious to what was going on.  Roark pulled me to him, hugging me tightly.  “I love you, Luna,” he whispered.

With what I’d calling a steeling breath, he got down on one knee.  My eyes must have been the size of saucers.  He pulled a box out of his pocket and opened it.  “Luna Eris Wyvern,” he murmured, “You are the light of my night, that which illuminates my life.  I love you with all my heart.  Please, you would make me the happiest man in the world if you’d agree to become my wife.  I don’t want to go another day with regrets where you’re concerned, baby.”  His voice cracked.  “Luna, marry me.”

He slid the ring on my finger; I couldn’t speak.  I had clapped a hand to my mouth to keep the squeak I knew was coming at bay.  As I looked at that ring twinkling on my finger, I took my hand off my mouth and just looked at him.  Even before, we’d never actually defined our relationship.  We’d never actually been a couple.  Things had just… tumbled into place after our first meeting.  And then things had gone so very wrong.  I’d betrayed Roark, plain and simple.  And because of that, because I’d allowed my own pride interfere, we’d both been manipulated and someone had died.  And yet… there he was, asking me to become his wife.

All of these whirled through my mind at warp speed, but I’d been silent for long enough that I could hear the uncertainty in his voice when he asked, “Luna?  Baby?”

I threw myself at him, a very pregnant woman, my arms twining around his neck.  “Yes,” I sobbed, unable to hold the dam back.  “Yes, Roark.  I’ll marry you.”

He held me tightly, though very conscious of my condition, I knew.  As my family cheered around us, he put me at arms’ length.  When he did, he said, “Luna, I hope you or your family doesn’t object, but… I’d like to take your name.  I want to be a Wyvern.  I-is that ok?”

In answer, I just stared at him.  “Of course you can!” I exclaimed.  Then, I looked at him, an urgency egging me on. “Let’s do it now, Roark.  I don’t want to wait.  I-I want to be your wife.  I-I want a fresh start for you and I.  Can we do that?”

“Now?  I… I don’t mind, Luna, but… don’t you want your brother here?”

“I would love it if Alduin could come back for this.  I really would.” There were tears in my eyes again.  “He’ll understand.  And I’ll make it up to him when he comes home to visit again.  I just… I want this fresh start, Roark.”

He kissed me gently.  “Alright.  We’ll do it now.  Any objects here?”

My family shook their heads.  If any of them were shocked, they didn’t show it.  They just smiled at the both of us.  Mom and Pop got up and went to me.  “Don’t you want a dress baby?” Mom asked me.

“No, Mama.  I wouldn’t be able to fit into one right now anyway,” I told her wryly.  “Y-you understand, don’t you?”

“Of course I do baby.  I do.  It’s alright.  You should at least get dressed though.  It’s cold out there, baby.”

“I’ll be ok, Mama.”  I know I was being ridiculous.  I was still in my nighty for crying out loud!  But… I just wanted to marry Roark.  Maybe it was the hormones talking after all, but I wanted it so badly.  Roark was talking to my grandmother about something, though I couldn’t hear what she said.

Pop seemed to know not to say anything.  He just leaned down a bit and gave me a hug.  There were no words needed.

After a few minutes, Roark went to me and grabbed my hand.  “Your grandmother says we might as well go use the wedding arch in the backyard.  I’m not going to argue with her.  Are you sure you don’t want a coat, baby?”

“I’ll be ok, Roark.  Really.”

And so, we trekked through the several inches of snow to the wedding arch at the back of the property.  Roark and I stood under the arch.  It was cold, but to be honest, I barely felt the wind.  Standing there, just looking at him, knowing that soon enough, we’d be husband and wife, that part of me that was still bleeding, still scarred from the mistakes I had, was finally healing.  Oh we had a long way to go, I knew.  Maybe we’d never fully be at peace over what happened, but we had each other.  And soon enough, we’d have a child to love as well.

Apparently, what my grandmother had been talking to Roark about was rings.  She’d given him the set she and my grandfather had used almost 40 years ago.  So, with my grandparents’ rings, Roark and I exchanged vows with our family looking on.  As he slid the ring on, he murmured, “With this ring, I pledge my life to yours, to unite two lives, and two hearts.  I vow that I will love you, and cherish you with my last breath.”

Tears slid down my cheeks when it was my turn.  I slid the ring on his finger and gave my own vow, “With this ring, I pledge my life to yours, to never give up on you, to treat you as my partner, my friend, and above all, my heart of hearts.  I vow that I will love you, and cherish you until the end of my days.”

We clasped hands.  We were both trembling with emotion.

“Kiss already!” Nan called out after a moment.  It brought out a chuckle from the gathered family.  Roark laughed and he pulled me close, his lips soft and tender against mine.  I didn’t want soft and tender.  My arms went around him and I gave him a real kiss.

When we finally came up for air, Roark took my hand and led me back inside.  I didn’t even notice that my teeth were chattering.


 

Aurora leaned against her husband, ignoring the cold snow against her bare legs.  “Well… this has certainly been interesting.”

Jeff sighed.  “Yeah, you could say that.”  The wedding was over.  Roark had led Luna back inside already and Draco and Sophia had followed.  “I think they’ll be ok, though.”

“I hope so,” Aurora murmured.  “I think they have a long way to go yet, but I think they’ll get there.  They’ve both been through so much pain, it’s almost cloying for me, Jeff.”

“I’m sorry, Rora.  I wish there was something I could do for you, and for them.”

“Sometimes there’s nothing we can do.  Just give them time.  It’s a beautiful night.  Though… I’m cold now.  Let’s go inside and get some cocoa, ok?”

He laughed and took her hand, pulling her up beside him.  Then they walked inside.


 

The house was quiet.  Most everyone had gone to bed already, though it wasn’t too late.  I was having trouble sleeping anyway.  I knew I had to do something.  I’d put it off long enough.  Of all the calls I had made, this one was the toughest for me.  I pulled out my phone and looked at it for a long moment, then hit #3 on the speed dial.  As soon as the familiar voice answered with a tremulous “Luna?”, I had to swallow.

“Hey little brother,” I whispered.  “I uh… I have a lot of explaining to do, I know.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry, Alduin.  I-I can’t imagine how worried you’ve been.”


 

Alduin couldn’t quite believe it.  His sister was ok.  He’d feared the worst and had had to argue out of leaving Uni to go and search for her.  Any of the feelers he’d put out online had gone strangely without answer.  But here she was.  He looked at his watch.  He should still have time to meet Cali.  “Yeah, you could say I’ve been worried.  Luna, what happened?”


 

“I-it’s a long story, little brother.”  Tears stood in my eyes.  I had to fight to keep my voice from cracking.  “If you’ve got a minute, I’ll tell ya about it.  I messed up, Alduin.  Really bad.”  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep my voice steady as I told him all of it, much as I had my mother.  Yet this was harder, somehow.  Admitting to my baby brother how badly I had messed up, how badly I’d handled everything was painful.


 

Alduin rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.  “Luna… Oh Luna.  I’m so sorry.  Is-is there anything I can do?  Are you ok?  Wait, don’t answer that.  Stupid question, sorry.  Are you and the baby ok?”


 

That brought a smile to my face, briefly.  “Yeah, we’re fine.  You’re niece or nephew is worse than I am, though when it comes to being a night owl.  Won’t give me a moment’s peace, and yet doesn’t seem to want to come out and greet the world.”

He chuckled.  “Definitely your kid, sis.  Ok, spill it.  What’s wrong?”

“Alduin, Roark and I got married today.  I-I’m sorry I didn’t wait.  I know you’d want to be here for it.  I-I just-“  My voice cracked and I had to choke back the sobs.  “I needed to do it.  I needed to make as clean a slate as we could.  I-I didn’t want to wait.  Can you forgive me?”

He was silent for a moment.  “Luna, you shouldn’t have to ask that.  Of course I forgive you.  There’s nothing to forgive.  Though, I think you owe me some cake when I come home, at the least.”

I laughed, the horrible weight I’d been carrying evaporating.  “You got it, little brother.  By the time you get here, you’ll have a niece or nephew to help spoil.”

“Oh you bet I’ll spoil them, I’ll-“  The mirth died from his voice as I heard a noise coming from that end of the conversation.  I was suddenly bombarded with a cacophony of noise.  It was panic.  Sheer panic.  I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, except something was wrong and it involved someone he greatly cared about.  ‘Cali’ flashed through my mind.  It was a litany that he was repeating in his mind again and again.

I didn’t question it, just told him, “Go.  Go to her.”  Then I hung up.  I stood there for a moment, hoping my brother didn’t do something stupid.  I hoped his lady friend was ok.  A shiver ran down my spine.  “Be careful, Alduin.”


 

The last couple days have been another roller coaster of the worst kind.  Aunt Faye called.  She had two pieces of news for us.  We lost Uncle Falkor last night.  He and Aunt Faye had gone to bed at their normal time.  When she awoke… Uncle Falkor was gone.  He’d had a heart attack during the night and had slipped away quietly in his sleep.  He was buried today in the family crypt with his mom and dad.  Pop’s been pretty quiet, but he has Nan to be there for him.  It’s weird, considering Falkor was a few years younger than Pop.

If that isn’t bad enough, the other news she gave us was about Alduin.  Apparently, she had helped him set up the device he’d rigged himself.  He’d been concerned about his friend Calysta and had made an app that he’d installed on her phone.  It notified not only himself, but the University police, and my Aunt Faye.  She’d waited a day to tell us because she’d wanted to get as much information as she could.  Alduin’s friend had been attacked.  One of the fraternity boys had lured her to a party.  But he’d been the only one there.  This same guy is also being questioned in a rape/murder on their campus.  I had a bad feeling about that one.  I think I know why Alduin had been so afraid for his friend.

He had been going to meet her there when I had called him.  I haven’t quite been able to process that.  The guilt is already mingling with what I have so that I can’t tell the difference right now.  After she’d put up the distress signal, he’d gone there.  He found her, beaten and bloody.  According to Faye, not only had he fought off her attacker, but he’d given him a hell of a beating.  I can’t say I wasn’t happy to hear that, though I knew my brother was pretty sensitive.  He’d feel the guilt of that for a while.  He hasn’t called us yet.  I hope he’s ok.  And I sincerely hope his friend is ok.  Faye couldn’t give us a lot of details about how she was.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I’m as big as a house right now.  I can barely walk.  Even a trip to the fridge can be laborious.

I’m trying so hard not to concentrate on all the negative.  Maybe that’s why my child hasn’t made an appearance yet.  Their afraid because their mother is always so upset.  I’m really trying.  Though it’s hard.  I’m so uncomfortable.  Dad says another three-four weeks and then the C-section.  I hope it doesn’t come to that.  But it’s all up to the little one, I guess.  Hopefully, they’ll decide to make their appearance sooner rather than later.


 Author’s Note: Special shoutout to Ivane’s Chronicles of Clarke.  The link is in the right hand corner.  Calysta and Alduin’s adventures can be seen there if you haven’t checked it out yet!  Go, check it out!

Chapter 37: Brighter Days

Luna rubbed the back of her neck, then stretched a little.  The desk was uncomfortable, especially having to lean over because her belly wouldn’t allow her to push the chair all the way in.  But she didn’t want to stop.  She was almost to the end.  Her cheeks were damp with tears and the paper showed a few blotches from where they had fallen onto the pages.  But her mother had been right.  She’d needed to do this.  Getting it all out was helping.  She thought she’d always carry the twin seeds of guilt and regret within her, but it wasn’t quite so bad now.  Getting it all out was helping, a little.

Something made her look up.  Her eyes lit up and she stood.  Roark stood in the doorway, watching her.  “How are you feeling?” he asked her quietly, going to her and framing her face with his hands.

“Back’s sore,” she confessed.  “But otherwise ok.  Just waiting for this little one to be ready.”  She grinned ruefully.  Her child was taking their sweet time in appearing.  She had been due almost two weeks ago.  Her dad had told her they’d wait another week.  If she hadn’t gone into labor by then, they were going to take the child through cesarean section.

“They’ll come when they’re ready,” her husband murmured.  He looked at the desk.  “Writing again?” he asked quietly.  He seemed to be searching her eyes for something.  “Is it helping?”

Luna nodded.  “It seems to be.”  She swallowed.  She’d been an emotional wreck since the day Alaric had died.  Add pregnancy hormones to everything else and you had a recipe for a lot of crying.  “I-I don’t know how I can ever make up for what I did.  I-“

Roark put a finger to her lips.  “Luna, we’ve gone over that, haven’t we?  We both made mistakes, a lot of them.  We both have to take responsibility for what we did- and didn’t- do.  We’ll get through this.  We will.”

She leaned forward, resting her forehead against his.

“I know,” she murmured.  After a moment, he put her at arm’s length.  “Why don’t I give you a backrub, then you can come back to this, ok?”

“I think I like that idea.”


 

The night Alaric died… I was in a haze.  I barely remember talking to the cops, guys I knew.  I just remembered the look in all their eyes.  I thought it was accusation, though in hindsight, maybe I thought I deserved it.  Alaric was dead because of me.  Once the questioning was over, I ran.  Roark had been trying to get to me for hours afterward, but I just… couldn’t.  I couldn’t face him, after everything.  I just couldn’t do it.  I hid away.  I talked to no one, I didn’t work…  I ignored phone calls, emails… any attempts to get in touch with me were ignored.  Somewhere, I knew my family must have been going out of their mind.  But I couldn’t face them, any more than I could have faced Roark.

Almost two weeks later, I began to be ill.  Anything I ate would come back up.  After almost a month of that, I finally went out and went to the doctor’s.  When they told me I was pregnant… I broke down and bawled right in the clinic.  I was pregnant…  Oh Watcher, what was I going to do?

For almost three months in total, two months of it being pregnant, I continued to wallow.  I took care of myself, such as it was, though it was really just going through the motions.  And then finally, staring out that window, I realized that I needed my family.  I needed them like I never had before.  And after I told my mom everything… I knew there was one last thing I had to do.  I took a taxi from the apartment and gave the driver Roark’s address.

I knocked on the door.  Roark answered.  When he saw me… I almost burst into tears then.  There was such naked emotion on his face, it hurt to look at him.  He was so focused on the fact that I was there, he didn’t seem to realize I was in maternity wear, nor that I had gained a little weight.  He looked… elated and apprehensive all at once.

He must have starred at me, just starred at me for ten minutes.  Finally, he shook his head, as if coming to.  “Come in, please.  Have a seat.  Do you want anything?  A drink?  Anything?”  I had taken a seat on the couch.  I just shook my head, unable to speak past the lump in my throat.  He sat next to me and silence reigned for quite a while.

Finally, I stood up, unable to take it anymore.  I felt like a coward, among my many other sins.  I couldn’t face him, but I knew I needed to get it out.  “Roark,” I began in a rush, “I’m pregnant.  I-I… I don’t know if you’re the father or not.”

Silence reigned for a long moment.  I didn’t dare turn around.  I was afraid what I would see on his face.  He must have suspected something happened between Alaric and I.  My nerves, already strung out to the breaking point, were perilously close to snapping.  I wanted to sink onto the floor, curl into a ball and just sob.  Just as I was about to give into the sensation, there was a hand on my shoulder, and I was spun around.  The next thing I knew, Roark had wrapped his arms around and pulled me close.

“Luna,” he whispered in my ear.  “Whether I’m the father or not, that child is mine.  You are mine.  We’ll get through this.  I-I can’t tell you what it did to me to see you tonight.  I-I thought I was dreaming.  I love you, Luna.  I’m so sorry, so sorry for everything.  I want to work on things, want us to be together.  Is that what you want, Luna?”

He put me at arm’s length, looking deep into my eyes.  “Yes,” I whispered.  “Yes.”  I did break down then, clinging to him.  He held me as I sobbed, brokenly getting out my confession.  I told him all of it, what happened after I’d left him, how I’d gone to see Alaric again.  The drinks, seducing Alaric… He stopped me for a moment.

“Luna.”  His voice was gentle.  There were none of the recriminations, or accusations that I had been prepared… even welcomed.  There was only love in his eyes.  “He played you.  He was always good at that…”  He swallowed.  “He wanted to drive a wedge between us.  It’s why he told you who we were.  W-when he called me… he told me he’d… been with you.  He said you were beautiful and in the same breath, he told me if I didn’t come to the warehouse, he’d make sure your body was dumped on my doorstep.  My brother was a lot of things.  He’d never been a murderer, though.  But I couldn’t take that chance.  I couldn’t risk you.”  He smoothed a hand through my hair, just looking at me for a moment.  The tenderness made my throat close up.

“R-roark, I don’t deserve you,” I whispered.

He put a hand gently under my chin, tilting my head up.  “Luna, we both made mistakes.  I should have told you from the beginning.  I-I can’t imagine how betrayed you must have felt when you found out.  I-I… And I should have told you why.  I was scared.  Once I realized who you were… once I connected the Wyvern name back to your grandfather… I should have told you.  But I didn’t.”

 

“And I should have listened to you,” I murmured.  “I should have stayed away from Alaric.  I was just so… angry.  So hurt…  I-I wanted to hurt you as much as you’d hurt me.  I hate that that’s in me, Roark.  A-and I hate what it brought on.  If I stayed and talked to you, if I had been able to put away my pride long enough to listen… none of it would have happened and maybe… maybe your brother would still be alive.”

 

“We both made mistakes, Luna.  Mistakes we both have to live with.  Alaric… I couldn’t save him.  I lost him years ago.  I thought I’d kept him safe, kept him away from the life my mother wanted for him.  But I couldn’t.  He had always been so angry.  Angry at me, angry at our mother, yet he idolized her.   That anger ate at him.   In the end, though… in the end, I think he found something that helped cool that anger.  You.  Something happened between you that night.  You were able to reach a part of him that I never could.”

 

I swallowed, guilt assailing me.  “A-all I could see was your face, Roark.  I just- just wanted to stop the pain.  I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry for everything.  How can you still care for me?”

 

“None of us are perfect, Luna.  None of us.  If you’ll have me, I’d like to try to work through this, together.  And-and I want to be there for the baby.  And for you.”

 

I could only nod.  “Y-yes.  Yes I want that.”

 

He smiled at me, then leaned down to rest a hand on my stomach.  “Hey, little one,” he murmured.  “I’m your Daddy.”

I broke down again.  What had I done to deserve this man?  I couldn’t think of a single thing good, only several things that spoke to the opposite.  Yet here he was…  “Roark,” I murmured.  He straightened and looked at me, tilting his head.

 

“What is it?”

 

“I want you to come home with me,” I told him.  “I-I want to go home and I want you and Cyn to come with me.”

 

He pursed his lips for a moment.  “I have a few favors I can call in.  A transfer to the base in Monte Vista is feasible.  Go, rest.  Let me make some calls ok?”

 

I nodded, feeling numb somehow, yet full of so much emotion, I didn’t know what to do with it.

 

While I slept, Roark made his calls.

He woke me up a few hours later.  “Our flight is booked.  I’ve talked to Cyn.  We leave in a week.  Should be enough time for us to get our stuff packed.”

 

I was… shocked.  I had wanted him to come with me, but I think there was a part of me that didn’t believe he would, not after everything that had happened between us.  But we were going.  I nodded.  “A week.”

 


The week passed quickly.  Roark and Cyn packed up what belongings they wanted to bring with them.  It wasn’t much, really.  I asked Roark why.  “This was never really home, Luna.  It was the place our mother dumped us in, to get us out of the way.  What little we have packed made it that little piece of home.  All I need is Cyn, you, and the baby you carry.  You need your family, Luna.  We’ll figure out how to deal with all this there.”

 

That was that.  Once the luggage was packed and the things we didn’t need on the plane were shipped, we boarded our plane.  It was a long flight.  I spent most of it either sleeping or throwing up.  I don’t handle travel well while pregnant, it seems.  But finally, we touched down.  I don’t remember the car ride from the airport.  Roark had slid behind the wheel, Cyn in the back.  She’d let me have the front.  Before I knew it, the car was stopping.  “We’re here, babe,” Roark murmured.

 

He helped me out of the car and gave my hand a squeeze.  Cyn and Roark looked at the house; I could see the apprehension on their faces.  Me… I was home.  I was home, Roark and Cyn were here with me.

I didn’t expect anyone to be up.  I’d told them we wouldn’t get in till late and not to wait up.  I should have known better.  As we walked in, I saw a familiar shape at the island in the kitchen.  Of course my mother would wait up for us to get there.

“Mama,” I whispered walking in.  She got up and went right to me.  She put a gentle hand on my arm.  There were tears in her eyes.

 

“Welcome home, baby,” she murmured.

 

Roark and Cyn stood there for a moment, not sure what to say.  But mom turned to them, smiling.  “Welcome, both of you.  I’m sure you both are exhausted.  Cyn, there’s a bedroom upstairs for you to use, dear.  We have a bit of a surprise for you, but it isn’t ready quite yet.  There were some delays.  You can have your dogs just explore.  Ares and Apollo will be glad of more playmates, I’m sure.”  She turned to Roark.  “Welcome to our home, Roark.  Take my daughter to bed and see that she gets some rest, will you?”

Mom turned back to me.  “I managed to convince everyone to sleep tonight.  But I imagine they’ll be awake early and they’ll all want to see you and to meet your young man.  Go rest baby.  You look very… drawn.”

We easily took her advice.  Roark put his arm around my waist, helping to support me.  I realized I’d been swaying on my feet.  He walked me to my room down the hallway.  It hadn’t changed in the three years that I’d been way.  It was still the same.  It was home.  He tucked me into bed first, then slid in next to me.  I curled up next to him.  I was home.  Roark was next to me.  For the first time since everything happened, a tiny seed of hope had begun to bloom.

As exhausted as I was, I only managed a few hours of sleep.  The baby had been moving around a lot and when they finally settled down, they had decided that settling on my bladder was the perfect position.  I got up to go to the bathroom.  I looked down at Roark who was still sleeping.  Still a bit incredulous that he was here with me, I just watched him for a long moment.  I didn’t want to disturb him, so I left, thinking I’d see what leftovers there were.  In our house, there were always leftovers.  As I approached the kitchen, I heard the soft murmur of voices.

 

My throat closed up.  Dad and Pop.  I could picture just what they were doing.  They’d been doing it since I could remember, sitting at the chess table, talking about anything and everything.  As I walked out, I saw them just where I knew I would.

As soon as they saw me, Dad got up to give me a hug.

Immediately after that, he had to lean down to press a hand to my swollen stomach.  “And how are you feeling, baby girl?  You look tired.”

“The next person to tell me that, I may have to smack,” I told them, a ghost of a smile tugging at my mouth.  It was already good to be home, but there was still a part of me that felt… detached, even separate.  Dad laughed, giving me another hug.

“Leave the girl alone,” Pop admonished.  He grinned at me.  “Welcome home, our little Eclipse.  It’s good to have you back.”  He pulled me into a close, but gentle hug.

“It’s good to be home, Pop.  It really is.  I-I’m sorry.  I-“  Pop shook his head.

 

“You have no reason to apologize.  I want you to do me a favor, baby girl, ok?  I want you to try to forgive yourself and to relax.  It isn’t good to be so stressed with the baby.  Try to cut yourself a break, ok?”

I could only nod, unable to speak past the lump in my throat.  “Love you, Pop.”

 

“We love you too, Eclipse.  Now, where’s your young man?”

 

I had to snort.  “Pop, he’s actually older than all of you, you know.”

 

He snorted.  “He’s your young man, so hush.”

 

I could feel an actual smile forming.  It was the first one I could remember in quite a while.  “Whatever you say, Pop.  Anyway, he’s still sleeping.  The baby decided they wanted to keep me up, but I thought he should still sleep.”  I grinned.  “I figure he’ll need to be tip top to have to deal with our crew here.”

 

Throughout everything, I had never doubted that my family would accept Roark.  Was he the son of Elvira Slayer?  Only in the most biological sense.  He was a good man and I knew my family would see that.  I know he was worried about how they’d deal with him, and he had told me that he fully expected them to be upset, considering who he was.  But he beat himself up about that more than anyone, even if he was as far from his parents as it was possible to be.  To find that I was right, it helped steady me.  That’s what family did.  They helped steady you when your foundation had been rocked.

 

Before too long, I heard the door to my room open and I went to see him.  He kissed me, then pulled away.  “How do you feel?”

 

“Better,” I told him truthfully.  “I-I needed this, needed to come back home.  Thank you.”

“I want what’s best for you, Luna.  For you and the baby.”

 

I nodded.  I realized that, realized that was all he wanted.  I teared up.  “I know.  I know that.  Thank you.  My family wants to have a chat after breakfast, ok?”

 

I could see the apprehension come back into his eyes, but he nodded.  “Of course, baby.”  I wanted to reassure him, but I realized that wouldn’t work.  He’d need to experience it himself.  So I smiled at him.  He’d see.  He’d been right.  We’d get through this, together.


 

Chapter 5: Brothers Stick Together

“I think the house looks good like this,” I told David over breakfast one morning.

He nodded, smiling at me as he took my hand in his.  “That it does.  That it does.”  We had recently been discussing possibly having another child.  We both wanted another one; maybe we’d have a girl this time.  It was still up in the air, but one of the reasons we had remodeled was keeping this in mind.

For now, we aren’t necessarily trying, but if it happens, it happens.

David is still hard at work at his painting.  Now that the boys are older, he has more time to put toward his artistic pursuits.

Draco has been steadily going through school and I have received several notes, even calls from his teachers of how bright he is.  He’s also making friends.  He brought one of them home after school on Friday.  Her name is Cecilia Costa.  She’s a sweet girl and the two of them are already best friends.

She spent the night and slept in the bottom bunk in Draco’s room.  He’d specifically asked for a bunk bed because he wanted to be able to have his friends sleep over.

He also asked for something else; it seems my boy is very interested in science.  I found myself a little taken aback by this because in my mind, science was vastly different from what I could do.  But even so young, my son is already teaching me things.  “No mama, not at all.  Science and magic are linked; they are just two different sides of the same coin.  I want to test out chemistry first, and compare what I can make there to what you craft with alchemy and your magic.”

So his father and I bought him a chemistry set.  He requested it be placed down in the basement so that when I am working he can join me.  That’s exactly what we did.  Now, he and I can work side by side, often the only sounds being the bubbling and burbling of liquids, a bang or pop here and there.

The boys’ birthdays rolled around before any of us realized it.  They each got their own cake once again.  Draco, being the oldest, once again went first.  He thought hard about a wish (a tradition his father told us about) and then blew out his candles.  After the sparkles hit, he ran to the mirror and dresser to don his own personal style.

David carried our youngest to the cake once again so I could sit back and watch, teary-eyed.  Both my boys were growing so fast!  It just didn’t seem possible.  Falkor was so cute, trying to blow out the candles himself.

Even still, I can only be proud of them.  They are both so handsome.  First, Draco decided that short hair would suit him better now.  He hasn’t quite decided what he wants to do later in life, or should I say that he has narrowed it down to three choices: there’s law enforcement, science, or the medical field.  He also wants to go to University, but since he has time to figure things out, he’s in no rush.  Like his dad, he did go with a little diamond stud in his ear.

Falkor likes to be comfortable, but he’s already begun to take after his father a bit and has taken a liking to painting.  Perhaps he’ll try some of the other arts later on, but for now, he wants to concentrate on his canvases.  He thinks the glasses he needs due to a bit of nearsightedness actually make him look more ‘artistic’.  I can only assume he got that from the television.  David just laughed.

The boys are pretty close.  They often will stay after school and do their homework together, though I keep telling them they should find somewhere with a roof and not just sit in the snow, but they seem to enjoy it.

And I’m not sure what they talk about at times.  I came downstairs one morning to find them both at the kitchen table.  Falkor was doing his homework and Draco was eating breakfast.  “-for the weak parts,” my oldest was saying, his mouth full of grilled cheese.

“Hm, so punch them in the stomach?”

Draco nodded slowly.  “Yeah, if you can reach.  Of course, if they’re trying to shove you into a locker, they probably aren’t guarding against that kinda blow, so stomach works, or-“ He leaned close and grinned.  “Hit ‘em in the family jewels.”

Falkor laughed, then stopped as I gave a little cough to alert them.  “Hey mom!”  He leapt up, having just finished his homework.  “Later mom!”

Draco shoved his chair back as well, intending to escape, though he threw me a grin.  But I stopped him.  “Draco, what’s going on?”

“It’s nothing, mom, really,” he assured me, looking uncomfortable.  “Just some idiots hassling Falkor.  He’s got it under control.”

I frowned, spurts of anger running through me at the thought of my poor boy being picked on.  How dare they!  “I’ll call the school!” I vowed.

“No!” Draco said firmly.  “Mom, look, if it were a big deal, I’d have told you.  But Falkor didn’t want me to.  He was just asking for tips.”

“On fighting?” I asked quietly.

“Well, a little.  That’s only if what I told him before doesn’t work,” Draco answered with a grin.  “I told him to try to make them laugh first, to make friends of them.  If that fails… well, he has the right to defend himself, doesn’t he?”

I was speechless for a moment.  He must have thought I’d be angry, because he looked down.  “Look, mom… I-“  He stopped when I hugged him tightly.

“Go to school,” I murmured.  His eyes lit up, he squeezed me tightly back, and then he ran to the bus to join his brother.

The high school students went for a field trip to the mausoleum today.  Draco had quite a bit of fun exploring the catacombs.  He brought back a poster as a souvenir and proudly hung it in his room.

After Diego and his brood brought some more valuable gems to us, tiberium among them, we added a little ensuite to our bedroom upstairs to make it more convenient.  Sharing a bathroom with two growing boys, one of which is a teenager, plus my husband is getting a little cramped.

Hm… I think Draco may have a new ‘friend’.  He won’t talk to her on the phone in the house, I think because he’s afraid we’ll hear him.  Could my boy have a new woman in his life?  I’ll have to think of an excuse to invite her over without him realizing why…

I finally was able to snap a picture of Falkor as he was painting.  Shhhh, he doesn’t know it yet.  He may not be up to the level of his father yet, but he’s already very talented.

Oh, I am just tired of these paparazzi that insist upon camping out on our front lawn!  Apparently, I have become what they call a celebrity.  But if that means that I have these rude, annoying people on my lawn, I don’t want it!  Though… perhaps I shouldn’t have lost my temper as I did…

I DID change her back… eventually.  Then again, she makes a good test subject for the potency of some of my potions.

I think I have finally figured out how to investigate this girl that Draco seems so enamored with.  Snowflake Day will be here shortly.  The first one, I didn’t know what it was and I was pregnant.  I think a Gift Giving Party will be the perfect opportunity.  The rest of the family is pretty enthusiastic.  Draco came up to me.  “Hey, uh… Mom, you mind if I invite a few friends?”

Falkor piped up.  “Me too!”

“Of course, boys.  Of course.”  I grinned inwardly.  Good.

Chapter 4: Adulthood and Time Flies By

David has become an adult now.  I was a bit surprised how concerned he seemed by hitting middle age.  I think he experienced what my friend Constanzo called a ‘mid-life crisis’.  He seemed to worry about whether I’d still find him attractive.  I told him he was being ridiculous.  Perhaps the sparkles just went to his head… He did decide he was going to switch up his wardrobe, try something different.

I still think he’s just as handsome as he ever was.

Still, even with this little bit of insecurity, there is no question about his ability to care and love his sons.  He’s so attentive to both of them.  He often hears them before I do and wakes up immediately and goes to them to feed them or change them.

I also had my adult birthday, though really, this one snuck up on me.  It hasn’t been as difficult for me, I think, because I don’t have a lot of the same fears.  Or maybe because my own life has been such an upheaval, this seems rather small.  I did decide to do something a little different with my hair, deciding to let some of it grow a bit longer.

Gabe and Gage have both left their puppy stages and have become beautiful, full grown dogs.  They are both wonderful mixes of their parents.

Time surely does fly.  The boys shared a birthday; first, my little boy would leave toddlerhood and become a child.  I just can’t quite believe it!  A part of me, the part that has become so very attached to this life, is terrified and doesn’t want to let go.  Another part, the part that has survived from what seems another life entirely, knows that this is only a small time frame, and a part of life.  I’ve managed to meet somewhere in the middle, but because I was afraid I might not let him go, David took Draco to the cake first.  He spun around as the sparkles hit…

My boy is a child now.  He only grows more handsome.  His hair is longer than I thought it would be, but it suits him.

Then it was Falkor’s turn.  I carried him to the cake this time, a bit more composed.  Once again, sparkles descended over one of my children and life moved on.

Falkor has certainly took more after me!  He has my skin color, my hair color… David calls him my mini-me!

And already, Falkor kicks up a fuss when his father went to take him to his crib.  Oh my, another one with a very hard to resist pouty face!

Even between raising our two boys, we’ve managed to continue to pull in steady incomes regardless of neither of us having actual ‘jobs’.  Diego, Darcy, and now Gabe and Gage have been instrumental in this.  The gems and metals they hunt up have allowed us to not only survive, but to thrive.  We’ve been able to renovate our home into something more than comfortable.  We’ve even added a second floor and turned it into our master bedroom, as well as added a second room for Falkor and added space for all of the dogs so they are more comfortable.

Draco is a very studious child and has already begun a love of reading.  But he also has quite the imagination!

His first day of school arrived and he ran out the door, very enthusiastic to begin learning, though he did get a head start on his own.  Truly, the boy devours knowledge like his brother drinks his bottle of milk!  When he arrived home, he was gushing about all the things the teachers were beginning to teach him as well as talking about a few new friends he had gotten to meet.  Then he sat down to begin his school work.

While Draco learns of the SimVerse at school, his younger brother is learning how to walk, talk, and use the potty like a big boy!

Chapter 3: Toddler Spam and Love Day

I can’t seem to stop taking pictures of my little boy!  He’s just too cute.  And he’s so smart.  Maybe a little neurotic, but so smart, too.  He’s taken to potty training so well.  When he looks up at me with eyes that match my own, I get a bit misty eyed.

He also has both his father and I wrapped around his little finger.  I find I don’t mind so much.  Who could say no to this face?  They would need a higher power than I…

David volunteered to work with him on talking.  He has an easier time understanding his babbling than I do, for some reason.  Maybe I’m not as in touch with mortals… with other Sims as I thought.  Or maybe I’m just not good at understanding toddler-speak…

Hm… well, unless someone left out that grilled cheese I had for too long, then I believe that Draco will soon have another sibling.  I must say, this nausea business is awful.

It’s confirmed, I am truly pregnant.  I told David and he was as excited as when I told him about Draco.

Despite the fact that I’m pregnant, I insisted upon teaching Draco how to walk.  He’s just so full of joy and laughter.  And watching him on his little wobbly legs makes me laugh, too.

David and I have been feeling a bit cooped up lately, so when Love Day rolled around, he called a baby-sitter for the first time…  I was a bit nervous, I’ll be honest.  But we could really use a break, I know.  We haven’t had much alone time since Draco was born, of course.

We went to the pizza parlor, drank espresso and ate cheesy garlic bread.

We stayed there a while, talking and looking at one another across the table, playing something my husband called ‘footsy’.  Mostly, it involved him gently rubbing his foot against mine.  I don’t know as I would count that as ‘playing’ anything, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself and enjoyed our time together.  When we got home, we cuddled up on the couch and watched a movie.

Once it was over, I was feeling pretty tired, more so than I had been when I was pregnant with Draco.  Truthfully, it was a rough night.  Then early that morning, my water broke.  Somehow, the pain was worse this time.

Off to the hospital we went.  After a difficult labor and delivery some 4 hours later, our son, Falkor Luke Wyvern was born.

Back at home, I fed him, then lay him down.

David and I sat down to eat first, then go to bed.  We were both pretty exhausted.  As we sat there, shoveling food into my face, I had a realization.  “You’re birthday is tomorrow!”

He waved it away.  “Don’t worry about doing anything for it, love.  We’re both too tired to worry about it.”

Diego likes to sit in the nursery, like he’s standing guard over them.  I’m very appreciative of this and have to give him a reward of a good belly rub.

Speaking of Diego… the poor thing became an elder today.  It doesn’t seem possible.  But we’ve been in this Realm for quite some time and animals, even one such as Diego are mortal.  It hasn’t slowed him down at all, though.

Oh!  It seems Draco inherited more from me than just my ears and eye color.  Power runs through him as well.  He looked so surprised!  Then so happy when his little toy reappeared in his hands.

The more I think about it, the more that I realize that though I am mortal, I am still Queen of the Dragons… which means that my children carry that legacy in their blood as well.  I don’t know what significance this has, not yet, but I find myself wondering about what the future may hold.