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Welcome Tallygarunga is an 18+ post-Potter non-canon forum RPG set in Australia, featuring Australia's only public wizarding school Tallygarunga.

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Location: Rural Victoria, Australia
Current time: January 2018
Term One: January 30th-March 29th

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THE AUSTRALIAN HOME OF MAGIC
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Amiradysébelle Blair

To Live For

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After their further discussion on how this would happen, in the end it seemed that this was the only place where they could guarantee safety. Theirs, Améa's, the children's. Jezebel hadn't been certain about it, but even she felt the call of the place where she was born, and had ended up arriving early with her four children, and spending some time in the town - no longer a secret Princess, her identity had been revealed over the years - before then sitting in the garden of the palace for a while as the children played.

A long flowing dress, a blue so light that it was almost white, fell down along her figure, a royal blue sash across it that denoted her position. The children themselves were also in more formal wear of white dresses for the girls, royal blue ribbons in their hair, and Erian in a white shirt with a blue silk scarf tied at the collar neatly, and black pants. Lorelei wore a sash, like her mother, and appeared perhaps the most at home here, as she looked out for Flora, the strange girl who seemed to have a place and was considered her best friend.

When it neared the time that Adele should be arriving with Améa, however, the children had quieted down as the family moved back inside. Veronika was now in Jezebel's arms, small hands clinging to her mother as she trembled with slight anxiety. Her mother and grandmother had both promised that she would be safe, that her wishes would be most important, but it was still a scary thing to face the one who had conceived her, who had allowed such horrible things to happen to them.

"It will be alright," Jezebel's voice murmured softly, reaffirming that promise as her hand soothed over the girl's hair and back.

"I will never let anyone harm you or any of our family, I promise," Lorelei spoke, sounding far older than she rightfully should have, more authoritative. Jezebel wondered when it was her daughter had grown so much, but in all honesty it felt like she'd always been more adult than child, even when she was playing. Stood diligently to the right side of Jezebel, while the other two children stood to the left, and thus closer to their womb sister, Lei then tilted her head, "They are here."

Jezebel had felt it as well, and inhaled a deep breath before breathing gently outward, preparing herself as well. This wasn't only nerve-wracking for Nika. But it was something that needed to happen, and so it was that she stood proudly with her brood of children, in wait for Adele and Améa to come meet with them.

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Lillian had refused to help. Like Bethianna, she would acknowledge nothing more than the whole situation being Améa's fault, and washing her hands of everything. Adele had hoped for better, but it was far from the first time she'd been let down by her mother. Which all put her in a difficult position, as Améa refused to leave her home willingly. 

Unfortunately for Améa, this outing was not optional.

Caleb walked ahead of them, his arms folded and lips curled into a displeased scowl. He didn't know why he had to be here for this, he didn't know what all this drama was to do with his sisters and the children. His mother had barely talked of anything but his rogue sister since her return to Narrie, and he felt this was deeply unacceptable. Améa had left. She deserved no part of their family anymore. She had walked away while he tended to their mother.

And he knew well enough, by her physical condition, that she was not fit to bear her name. By all of this, Caleb was disgusted and very annoyed.

Behind him, Adele followed. She hadn't bothered to dress especially, she rarely did when she was here. Jeans and t-shirt were good enough, especially when you had a daughter to wrangle. 

And wrangle she did. Adele had a death-grip on Améa's hand, dragging the poor girl through the doorway and up the stairs. Gasps followed them as they were seen, recognised, Adele paid them no mind. She stopped at the doorway to the upper courtyard, out of sight of Jezebel and her children.

"Look at me." she hissed, tilting Améa's chin upward. Her fingers brushed through Améa's hair, detangling it until it fell in smooth locks about her shoulders. Améa winced at the magic, but Adele continued--taking some of the weariness out of Améa's tired eyes. This was the first time Nika would see the woman who conceived her, and Adele wanted the impression to be good.

"Tonight you make a choice, Ruella. Tonight, you truly decide who you live for." Satisfied with her work, Adele continued outside to the small gathering. She almost had to laugh at the proper finery, gods but she felt out of place in her own home. Even Améa, in her long sleeves and skirt, fit in better than she did.

Without ceremony, Adele pulled Améa to the group---stopping suddenly and letting Améa stumble the last few steps forward to stop in front of the children.

Adele said nothing more. She didn't have to. She just waited.

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Améa didn't have the physical strength to refuse. She could barely keep up with Adele's long strides, stumbling and tripping in confusion. Why bring her here? Why to this place where, Améa was sure, she no longer had any position or worth? She had chosen Zane, and she would stick by that. All of this was... pointless.

But she said nothing. Adele had seemed rather hell-bent on getting her here, and perhaps... Zane had been right after all. Her grandmother had been of no value in solving her problem, Lillian had only come once to her call, and then only to tell her that she had abandoned her family and got what she deserved. Améa didn't think that was fair---after all, hadn't Lillian done the exact same thing? Or at least, demanded it of her grandfather.

Améa knew the story, even if he'd been presumed dead well before she was born.

Adele's magic felt like burns through her veins, an agony that she didn't have the energy or voice to stop. It would all end soon, that was all she could hope for. Sooner or later, Adele would return her to home, and then... 

Maybe it would be best if they left again. Améa was fairly certain that she would not be able to carry a child and survive, but if it meant Zane became the father he wanted to be... it would be worth it? That had to be better than fading away as she was.

She kept her eyes to the ground, not daring to look up at the roses planted through the courtyard. Hundreds of them in small, rectangle plots. Roses of so many different colours, each bearing a plaque with a name. Why did it have to be here?

Améa almost lost her balance when Adele stopped, a few shaky steps forward to right herself, and---she froze.

Those eyes, that face, that... feel. It burned but it burned so familiarly. Like something out of a distant dream, sharp and full of pain. And also love. A feeling she couldn't name, of a depth that terrified her. She knew. 

She. Knew.

"H--how?"

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Améa looked better than she had when Jezebel had last seen her, but she was very well aware that was Adele's doing. Still, she offered a gentle smile toward her, even as the girl in her arms stiffened as she caught a glimpse of the woman who had allowed all the things that still gave her nightmares some nights. She buried her face against the woman she called mother, until urged to stand on her own feet as Jez set her down in front of her to face Améa.

"Améa... these are Violetta and Valerian," Jezebel gestured toward the two who were of her own conception, before then placing her hands gently on the other small girl's shoulders, "And this is Veronika... Nika..."

It was seen the instant that Améa realised what she was looking at, she knew without having to be told, she could sense who it was that stared up at her warily. And then the question was spoken, and that wariness became sudden anger.

Of all the children, Nika had always been the least to anger, but it was deep-set within bright blue eyes, indignation, offense, and blame. How dare this woman not know how?

Rushing forward a few steps, the small girl then slapped a hand up to grip at Améa's, and cast outward, but with such a strong emotional state and lack of discipline, she shared not only with Améa, but with all who surrounded the pair, the flickers of exactly what she remembered of her time before she was given a new home...

~~~

Why are we so tired? It hurts, Mummy. Do you not know I am here? Do you not feel me?

Why is the world such a dark and lonely place? Why is the person who should be making the pain go away, making it worse? You are not feeling right. You are unwell, weak. Why do you care for nothing else, except to please him?

He makes us hurt...

Why will you not save us?


"Give me reason why I shouldn't use the torture curse on you right now. You think what I do with my hands in bad? You've not felt the cruciatus curse from me."

Blinding, hot pain. What is this? This world is killing me! It hurts, it hurts, it HURTS! Make it stop, Mummy!

... are we dying? Why are you so weak?

"...You are mine, and mine until you die. Let's not hasten that, shall we? You will not fare against me. You will not win. Ever."

... I hate him... he has killed us... and you let him... why?

"'What did you do to her? ... Undo it, now! I order you!'

.. Who is this? No... I know who... can you hear me? Can you save us... please?

"'Did he do this to her? ... I need to know what happened. What actually happened ... She's dying, Zane. She... shouldn't be able to die.'

Please...

"You fix her, he's of no problems. You stay out of our lives, there is no problems."

He is lying... he lies... and he hurts... please, help us...

'She has chosen not to be a person anymore, but a thing that can be broken. When he attacked her, he broke her. It is simple enough ... She must live for herself to be unbroken. She must have loyalty to herself ... If she gives her life and her power to a mortal, she becomes nothing herself, she becomes mortal.'

... This is... her fault? She has done this to us? ... But... Mummy, why? You have me... Why do you not hear me? How do you not know I am here? You are killing us...

'I'm taking her with me. Tonight. When she's better, she can return to you if she wishes. But if she ends up like this again, there's no hell on earth that will stop me from chasing you down and making you pay for what you've done to her.'

"Fine. Take her. Remember this though... if something happens, and she doesn't come back to me. Or if you force her away from me. I won't stop him anymore."

Thank you, Grandmiere... but I think it is too late... she is too weak for us both to live.

'Christ ... She's pregnant."

"That's not good, if he finds out then who knows what he might do?"

'We have to get rid of it ... She won't get better ... And that baby is just going to keep draining her energy. It has to go.'

It's alright... I know this is hard... I wish to go now... there is no place for me in her heart.

"No, we can do something else... Remember how Lillian moved Lei from me when I was almost killed? Placed her in another woman's womb. Couldn't we do that now? I just... I think this child needs to live... We can transfer the child to me. I'm already pregnant."

No! This world is only pain and emptiness... I do not want more. It hurts so much.

'You will take the child.'

No! I'm afraid! You cannot...

What is this? Who are you? And you? Why are you so warm? You know me... I-I know you also... you are mine family. You... you love me. Why? But why is this not how she felt for me? No pain, I am not alone anymore. I am loved... I am... safe...

~~~

The memory snapped closed then, with the girl ripping her hand from Améa's as her three siblings caught her in a large hug, as her own hands went to her eyes and she cried, both from the pain of the memory and the bittersweet happiness of having been given the chance at life. Erian and Letta cradled her from either side, while Lorelei's arms came around all three from behind while her blue gaze glared up at Améa.

Jezebel herself was struck for words, her cheeks stained with two small lines of tears. Aside from the realisation of what Nika had gone through, there was also a deep building fury at the realisation of the law which Zane had broken... not to mention the question of what it was exactly that he had on Adele.

For now though, Jez could only move toward the children uneasily, uncertain now what exactly to do. Though she knew more than ever now that Zane would never be setting foot anywhere near Nika. She would kill him.

 

 

-----

Excerpts taken from here and here

Zane

Adele

Jezebel

Lillian

Bethianna

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The memory enclosed them all like a bad dream, Améa stuck with Veronika at it's epicenter. It was not just seen or heard, but felt. Every emotion, every pain, physical and mental. Améa could not close her eyes to it, nor could she block out the horror. 

When it ended, she found herself kneeling on the stone path, sobbing. Her recollections of that night were hazy at best, and she had no answers to the questions Nika had. The stark difference between the fear Nika had felt with her, and the love she found in Jezebel was yet another knife poisoned with guilt. 

She remembered she had been dirty. The kitten. Her defiance. The pain. She did not remember the soul inside her, and for missing that she would never forgive herself. With Nika's memory resonating still, she felt like she had known. Should have known, certainly. Had she? The dream with Flora---was only a dream. Wasn't it?

Améa didn't know anymore.

"I did not know," the words finally rasped off her tongue. "I hoped for you---so many times. I... how is it I could not feel you?" Améa shook. She could feel Nika now, but it was different. It was Nika's strength she could feel. 

"You let yourself become his and lost connection to what is yours." Adele said coolly. "A mistake you fade from even now."

Améa blinked, the pieces slowly coming together. No--this wasn't possible, though. Love was supposed to make you stronger, not weak. And she loved him, she did. Améa couldn't think of anything she wouldn't do---gods, she would die for...

A jolt ran through her as she looked up at Nika again. It was like lightning. Flora had shown her this girl, and these feelings, and Améa knew without question that she was so very unimportant compared to Nika. His daughter. Her daughter. 

"Miere ellar,*" she breathed, the words shallow and shaking. The intensity of this sudden love threatened to break her, her world shifting fast into a new gear. She had wronged this soul, and not even known she was doing it. How could she dare hope for forgiveness?

"Sorry..." was all she could manage. "I caused much pain."

* "Mine child"

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The children remained huddled for some moments, finding comfort within one another, though the pointedly furious gaze of Lorelei remained still like a burning blue flame as the girl processed all that had been learned in such a short amount of time. It had been only seconds, a minute at most, but the memory and the sheer strength of it resonated years.

"Lei'Lei..." Jezebel's voice was soft, but seemed to pull the girl back from whatever it was in her mind that this rage was directed at. She released her siblings and walked over to her mother's arms, and Jezebel soothed some of the anger from her, also allowing Nika less crowding.

The other two, Jez knew, would not leave Nika's side unless their 'sister' asked them.

Even now, the four year old was perhaps recovering faster than everyone else, but then she'd lived with these memories for her entire life to date. For everyone else it was either a fresh slap, or a reminder of that dark day, and the options that had been present. Sat on the path in between Erian and Letta, Nika's sniffles were already clearing up while Améa was only just beginning to speak.

"You let him be everything, and stopped being you..." Came the girl's voice, soft, but still sad, still angry. She didn't know how to react to this woman who had broken down, who should have been her mother but felt like a stranger. She was still a magical void, still weak.

The woman was the same as when Nika had been moved from within her body to another's. She sniffed again, however, and a small pout was aimed at Améa, vivid blue eyes searching the woman to see whether she meant the apology.

"Mama said you were always strong before you met him. That you promised to protect your family," Nika murmured, uncertainty in her gaze and voice. She found it difficult to believe the things she'd been told about this woman looking at her now and going by her own memories, "She said you helped her, and that you are kind, and would love me more than anything else when you met me."

Jezebel, herself, looked away as she swallowed a lump in her throat. Once again reminded that Nika was not her biological daughter, and that one day she might even decide to be with Améa.

"He is bad. You need to get away from him so you can get better," There was a mixture of concern and pleading in Nika's soft voice as she spoke once again and tugged Erian and Letta in closer to hold tightly. She did not want to see this woman in pain or crying, but there was a fear that she would disagree and decide that he was more important.

Jezebel stepped a little closer toward Adele, meanwhile, her gaze checking on the woman as well as Caleb, who would have also been slapped hard with all of that suddenly, and after a moment she gave her mother a level gaze.

"Who was he talking about?" The woman's murmur was quiet, but it was clear she wanted to know who was enough of a threat for Adele to have let Améa go back to Zane.

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Améa meant the apology. The realisation of what she had done, what she had put Nika through burned her heart and soul. She remembered too clearly her own feelings toward Adele, when Adele had just wanted to be rid of her and did all she could to make it happen. 

This wasn't how it was supposed to be. No. Améa had sworn to herself that she would never be that cruel, that she would never allow her child to feel so terrified and unloved. The lump in her throat wouldn't move. Améa croaked words out, switching to her native tongue to express herself better.

"I am sorry---so sorry. Had I been strong, I would have given you nothing but love and protection. In every moment I ever dreamed of my own family, I vowed for nothing less. And I have failed you. Even not knowing so, it is still... unforgiveable." Améa hung her head, her shoulders shaking. 

"Once, yes. I was strong. I made sacrifices to protect Mother. I was loyal to her at every cost---but for everything I did, she pushed me away. My father died to spare the mother who didn't want me, and this is no excuse---I would never want for you to experience the same pain. But perhaps you will understand, at least a small part, of how I felt when my husband saw me, accepted me, wanted only me." 

Améa's voice was quiet, and even now there was a warm sense of love as she talked about Zane. She did love him. That was the problem.

"He has hurt me, physically. Yes. But never has he abandoned me. I know my sister, and your grandfather, will claim that they too will never abandon me---but they were new to me then. I didn't trust. I couldn't. Mother will simply walk away when she feels like, it has always been that way. Bruises heal much faster than the scars of being left behind."

Améa's chin quivered, one hand reaching out to Nika.

"I did not know I was leaving you behind." she sobbed. "I am so very sorry."

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The little girl watched the woman knelt before her from the safety of her spot between Erian and Letta. They had been the first to truly know her, the first to love her, the three of them were family, bound by something even deeper than blood and she was glad for the stability they provided. She could sense the woman's distress, her guilt and regret, though she remained wary still. She did not know what was expected from her, but she listened as Améa's words poured out in their family's native tongue.

It was no secret that Adele had not been a good mother to Améa, as much as the adults tried to spare the children the not so nice stories of the past, they were aware that it had taken a long time for their grandmother to adapt to motherhood, to be the kind of person who wanted to protect and provide for her children.

As a grandmother, the woman had been nothing but loving and attentive, someone who wanted to make sure her family were safe. Nika wondered if Améa could see that, whether she realised that was why they were here today.

'I know she hurt you, but she is not like that anymore," Nika spoke quietly, her gaze shifting to the outstretched hand. This woman was asking for a chance, for some sign that her own daughter was not going to turn her back on her completely. "She is sorry for what she did to you, and only wishes for you to be safe and healthy again, do you see?" Nika's head canted and she reached her fingers out to touch Améa's, once again sharing memories, but only with her now, and they were of the family that Améa had left behind here, the warmth and the fierce protectiveness which included Améa.

Even in her absence, they had never ceased thinking about her, hoping for her. And there, on occasions, a solitary Adele, under the belief that no one was watching, staring off into the distance, regret and pain-filled features unmistakable, a sorrow in them that currently could be seen in Améa's. The girl's fingers moved back and she pursed her lips at the woman who shared a similar regret now.

"I don't want you to leave us again. But will you give Grandmiere, and our family, another chance too?"

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Again the visions burned, striking a part of Améa that she'd been trying to smother her whole life. Her need for Adele. No matter how far she ran, she could never get past that childlike need to be noticed, loved, cared for. Perhaps Adele felt the same about Lillian, but that didn't make it okay. It was a vicious cycle of abandonment and despair.

And so she was torn. Between the hope of mending her relationship with Adele, which hinged on the desperate idea that this time Adele would not let her down---and the love she had for a man who had sworn never to leave her. If she walked away from him, Améa knew there would be no going back. Ever. 

Her heart thumped uncomfortably. Watching how the triplets stood together, Améa knew that there would be no dividing them. She would not simply be able to return and be a mother to her daughter, she had... she had missed the moment for that chance. Ahead of that was just confusion and pain, the girl did not need to be stretched between two mothers. Améa knew she could never be the mother that Jezebel was.

What was there after that? To come back to a family that had no place for her? Would she simply wait and watch as Jezebel raised a family, as Adele whiled away the time before she would leave again? She could tell by Caleb's protective stance that he wanted no part of her. 

"You don't... need me." Améa said. The words broke her heart further, and the intensity of her emotions and limited control made it very easy to read what was going on in her mind. Nika didn't need her, Nika had a perfect family already. Zane---he had a place for her that would be there until she walked away. If she did, she'd never be able to go back and... she was so very afraid of being left with nothing at all.

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Silence as all eyes were on Améa while she weighed the gravity of the situation. This girl who had been harmed and scarred by her decisions was offering to give her a chance, to have a part in her life, but it would mean that Améa needed to take a chance as well. Jezebel's lips pursed slightly while she stood back silently with Adele, a hand on Lorelei's shoulder. The girl looked about as unimpressed and displeased as Caleb did, but she had blocked off her mind from allowing others to know what was bothering her.

Nika herself was watching the woman who should have been her mother with wary, but hopeful eyes. Perhaps her mother would choose her, would choose their family and then they would all be together. She could be healed and become strong again and she would have two mothers that loved her, washing away some of the sting from those early memories.

The words that fell from Améa's lips were not what she wanted to hear, however. The expression on that small face fell, the heartbreak and knowledge that this woman would choose a life without her. Nika's bottom lips trembled as she huddled up with her siblings, tears once again welling up in her eyes.

"COWARD!" The accusation that was yelled came from the girl stood with Jezebel. Lorelei's gaze flared as she stared with incredulity at the woman whose only pathetic excuse was that Nika 'didn't need her'. "Of course she needs you! Just like you need Grandmiere! Just like she needs her mother! You only say such things because you are a coward!" The girl's hands curled into fists while Jezebel stared at her, before trying to soothe some of the anger from her, but Lei stepped away from her.

"No Mama! She must be told!" The girl's hand then lifted as a finger was pointed at Améa, "Nika was scared of this, but she is here because she needs you! It took great courage for her to be here. And you throw that in her face. You would deny her having you in her life because you are scared. You are a mother. You should be fighting such fears for her! And more so..." Finally, she seemed to calm down a little, taking a breath as she watched Améa, her features falling into her own sadness.

"You need her. You need her so that you will be strong again, so that you can learn to love yourself. If you step away, you will live what remains of your life as a shell, with the knowledge that while your daughter faced her fears due to her love for you, despite what harm she has endured, that you were unable to do the same."

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Améa flinched at the sound of Lei's voice, knowing she had said the wrong thing. Just hours ago she had no clue she was a mother, and now she was being forced to choose between the most constant presence in her life, and someone who---although she felt the deepest and most eternal love for her---had a life far better than anything she could provide. Perhaps the best thing she could do for Nika, the biggest sacrifice she could make as a mother, was to allow her daughter to be happy without her.

The confusion and pain in her thoughts was there for any to read, even Caleb seemed to be getting waves of it. Yes, she was terrified. If recognising that she could never be a true mother to Nika made her a coward, then a coward she was.

What future was there here? Any move on her part to be involved with Nika would mean disrupting what they had already. 

And then she realised.

This was not even her decision to make.

"I do need her. I need him, too." Améa said. "If I have grown weak because of my love for him, then understand our relationship for what it is. That he is someone I trusted entirely with myself. He did not do this to me. He offered me a future, and I surrendered to it. Were the situation different, perhaps it would be worth dying for."

Améa shook her head, returning her gaze to Nika.

"But it is as it is. You are a different future. A bright one, yet difficult. I do not know how I can bear to walk away. Nor do I know how I can find my way into your life without pain for both of us. I have wanted you and loved you from the moment I drew my own first breath. I wanted happiness for you. Stability. Love. You have all of that---in my absence you have all that. I wonder if it wouldn't be cruel to interfere, out of some misguided desire to be your mother."

Améa closed her eyes, putting a hand up to stop any rebuttals just yet. She wasn't done.

"Nor do I know how I will bear to be a more distant part of your life than all of me wants. Jezebel is your mother, because I missed that chance. It is a burden I will always bear." Améa's voice cracked. "But this is not about me. All I ask is you weigh my fears and hurt."

"If you want me. If you truly want me here, need me here. If you see a place for me in your life, if you believe that I can belong. That perhaps we can still find our way to be a family in ourselves, and... and if you believe that I am worth it. I will stay." Améa was shaking. "But if you are happy with life as it is, do not want it to change. If Jezebel is the only mother you need. I will not interfere. That is my promise."

She wanted to stay. She did. She just didn't know how. 

"Is there a future you see? What... what does it look like?"

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There was silence while Améa spoke, even as Nika sniffled, trying to keep control of her tears. But even as much as she knew and experienced, she was still a child at the end of the day and they were talking about such adult things. She was being made to make decisions that would affect lives, cause upheaval, even a small amount. She and Jezebel had spoke about this, and it was her decision, everything was her decision.

Before meeting this woman, the girl had wanted no kind of change whatsoever. She loved her home and family. She loved her siblings. And she was and always would be loved as though she were the daughter of Jezebel and Viktor, no matter what she decided.

But now she was here and Nika could feel that connection to the woman who had conceived her, there was a missing piece of her that only she could fill. But it felt like she was asking Nika to choose one or the other now. Could she not have them all as family? She knew what was meant, of course, but there was so much that was still broken about the woman before her.

Nika wanted her to stay, but she could not be her mother until she was better.

Perhaps that was all she needed to say.

The girl's head lifted, and she offered a hand forward, reaching to touch Améa's gently, allowing her to feel the love that she held for her, even if it was slightly tarnished by the pain she had put her through. She reached through her to try and find that spot in Améa where she belonged as well, and then she met her gaze.

"Mama will always be mine Mama. But you are mine Mother. I wish for us the chance that we were unable to have before, but," The girl glanced around at the others, seemingly trying to think or come up with what she needed to say, before she continued. "You must become whole in yourself first. You cannot be my mother truly until you live for you and become strong again, but I want us to be a family, you and I, with the rest of our family."

Jezebel's arms wrapped around herself as she swallowed a lump in her throat, but there was a gentle smile upon her lips as she listened. She'd know the possibility of this happening, she knew the connection between a mother and child. And she knew that there had always been hope that Améa would return. But she was happy for them, even if her own heart ached slightly.

"I have always loved you as well, you just could not hear me," Nika's features shifted then into the softest and purest smile toward Améa as her hand raised to wipe a tear stain from her mother's cheek. If the woman was prepared to do what she needed to, then she wanted nothing more than to be able to share her life with her.

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Al'eri mamiere.

Améa's heart stopped for a long moment. She stared at Nika, the words still processing. Nika's grip of her native tongue was excellent, but surely she didn't---well, there were nuances to the language, surely she couldn't mean? To be called "mamiere" was something very important to her, a title so heavy she'd not ever been able to take it away from Adele. Now... Nika was giving it to her.

"Yes." Améa said in return. "I am your mother." 

The words even tasted wonderful on her tongue. The touch of her daughter's hand to her cheek brought a wave of fresh, happy tears, and she reached out to the girl with both hands. She was beautiful. She was everything Améa had dreamed, and yet more. 

"I will do what I must to deserve you." Améa vowed. The road ahead would be difficult, but worth it. Perhaps. There was still the matter of Zane, the inevitable heartbreak of being separated from him, the uncertainty as to whether she could trust Adele, and so many other things, but this... was her daughter. A daughter who wanted her, and Améa could not let her down.

Behind her, Adele cleared her throat---more than a little awkwardly. This discussion had focused far too much on her failures as a mother for her liking. 

"I won't let anything happen to any of you," she said, an absent hand ruffling Caleb's hair and making him scowl. "Whatever comes next, I will deal with it." she looked to Jezebel. Now that that moment was over, it was time to get realistic about the future.

"Zane has been threatening me. With his uncle. Thomas Sollozzo."

The name struck Améa hard, sucking the breath from her lungs. She had been there, she had lived through that. Her mouth gaped open but was empty of words. What had she done? What had she done? The beautiful moment had turned so suddenly into a nightmare, and all she could do was sit there. Paralysed by absolute fear.

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When Améa reached for her this time, Nika went into her arms, holding her in return as she rested her cheek against the woman's chest. She would need her daughter's strength for a while, all of her family's strength to help her through what they knew would be a difficult time. But it could be done. After giving them a few moments for themselves, Nika's siblings also then gave Améa a hug from either side, silently welcoming her back, letting her know that she had a place in their lives as well.

Lorelei's temperament had calmed now as well, and Jezebel's hand rubbed at her oldest daughter's back soothingly as the girl wrapped her arms around her mother's waist. It had to be difficult to have the mind of both a child and adult, Jez could remember her own struggles growing up and understanding more than she should have.

As Adele cleared her throat, however, Jez turned her gaze toward her and knew that the question she had asked earlier would now be answered. The answer itself certainly wasn't exactly what she'd been expecting, however, and the woman's eyes widened in shock.

Jezebel knew who Thomas Sollozzo was. She knew he was a wanted man, even to this day, she also remembered overhearing the talk about things that were going on when she was younger.

"Wait... all this time, Zane's been related to that..." There were a number of words she could have used to describe someone who put fear into Adele, whose very mention of had suddenly paralyzed Améa in terror, but none were appropriate and so Jez left it there as she shook her head a little. Had this been some ploy all these years? For what? The triplets were concerned, and Nika patted at Améa's arm gently, as though to try and wake her up a little.

The woman inhaled deeply as she tried to remember what she could of the past, but back then it hadn't involved her. Adele was someone who avoided even giving Jezebel the time of day back then, the librarian that the girl had thought hated her for no reason.

"Then I guess we're going to have to be prepared," The young woman spoke again, her gaze moving from Améa back to Adele with a level look. "We're not going to let anything happen to you either. Or to Améa." The young girl beside Jezebel who had been listening, looked up at her mother and grandmother as well, before nodding seriously.

"I guess we have to assume that he could be on his way already," Came a quieter murmur as Jezebel thought. "I should tell Dad, he can warn the Ministry that he might be in the country."

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"Yeah. Zane is his nephew." 

And Adele had known, pretty much the whole time. She'd kept things so precariously balanced, allowing Améa to live with Zane so as not to endanger the family here---in doing so, she'd endangered Améa instead. There was no way to feel good about that. She'd made a choice. 

"He could be here now. He could be on his way. He could have been here all along in a face we don't recognise." Adele added softly. There was really no accounting for the things Thomas could do, and certainly no way to predict what he would do. There were very few people of whom Adele was truly afraid, and he was one.

She'd been trying to escape from Thomas when she had the "accident". Her hope then had been that if she wasn't around, he would have no reason to harm Améa. He'd bloody well gone and done it anyway, it hadn't been until Améa was well and truly hooked that she knew the truth. Right when trying to persuade her otherwise did more harm than good. Améa's stubbornness had played right into Zane and Thomas's favour. 

At least---Adele snorted to herself---she no longer had to worry about harm coming to Dave.

"Your house is secure, Jezebel? Or do you think your family might be served better by... staying with your father a while?"

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Jezebel had to fight to keep her mouth shut about the fact that Adele had willingly allowed Améa to remain with the nephew of a confirmed dangerous psychopath, simply to avoid the psycho coming over himself. She also had to wonder just how much Zane and Mr Sollozzo were alike, manipulative, violent... dangerous. The woman took a deep breath in before exhaling a long sigh as she rubbed her forehead.

'None shall be harmed of our family if we watch after one another,' Lorelei gave a simple nod, seemingly determined that so long as they were united then they would be able to overcome any troubling time that was approaching.

"For sure," Jezebel murmured, running a hand through her daughter's hair gently while the triplets continued trying to comfort Améa from whatever horror held her at this moment. Jez wasn't happy with the idea that Thomas Sollozzo could already be in Australia, could have been watching them already. It made her skin crawl. Perhaps that was part the fear that she could sense from her mother and sister. The questions of her home were met with a small smirk and chuckle.

"My house is probably the safest in Melbourne. I placed wards and enchantments on it the day we moved there, and Viktor placed his own as well. It's also big enough for us all to stay there without tripping over one another," Jezebel gave Adele a pointed look, before then also glancing over Améa's way. She wasn't going to hear about either of them staying alone somewhere unless it was here at the palace.

"Otherwise, Dad's place is the safest in Narrie, and he'd insist on you and Caleb and Ruella staying there if you're going to stay out rural. I don't want you staying alone, and Améa needs a safe place to be where Zane or Sollozzo won't get to her," Her father's place might also be a place they don't think to look as well. Adele's or Jezebel's homes would be obvious places to look for Améa. "Of course, where Ruella wants to stay is her choice," Améa might wish to stay near Nika, though even if she was elsewhere, Jez would make sure they were able to get lots of time together.

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Adele knew the look for what it was. She did appreciate that Jezebel was trying to look after her, and perhaps the wisest decision was to accept the offer. But that wasn't in Adele's nature.

"The school is well protected," she said. "He does know that I work there, but there are wards put up to deny him entry specifically, should he try to find me there." Which had been Alan's idea, and one she was now very grateful for. If only the wards had stopped his nephew as well.

As for Caleb, Thomas didn't (she hoped) know of his existence. Then---what could she really guarantee? Améa may have spoken of her brother to Zane, and Zane to his uncle. Caleb would be safe with her at the school, Adele had no intention of going back to their house, so this worked well enough.

Améa was still shaking, her mind flicking through horrific memories. She'd only been small. He had caused her so much pain just to get reactions out of Adele---would he do the same to Nika? To the other triplets to upset Jezebel? They were too young to have memories like this. Their blood denied them the release of death, cursing them to a lifetime remembering. 

"No one must be harmed because of me..." she mumbled. 

"We will face this." Adele promised. "And all be well---but we must ensure you are safe. Perhaps it is better if you stay with Stuart a while. It will be quiet, you will be protected." And if Zane comes for you there, the children will not be in danger. Adele didn't have to say it, it simply was. 

Améa nodded. 

"If he will allow it."

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Jezebel offered a small nod as Adele spoke about the school. She knew that place would be safe, but surely they'd need to get out of there now and then, and she could only continue to offer a respite from being surrounded by the school's walls, and students who also lived there.

"Well, if you ever need a break, you know you're more than welcome at our place. You've seen it, it's huge. There's a whole guest wing that we barely touch," The woman may have gone a little overboard when she'd seen the place initially, and decided that the seaside mansion was exactly what she wanted, still pregnant with the triplets at the time. But she still envisioned having a large family, and also considered the fact that she and Viktor had a lot of relatives who might like to crash if they had a party or something there.

"We should probably look at getting those wards that are specific to him on all of our places, not to mention one for Zane as well," Jezebel knew that Zane was going to look for Améa when he found that she wasn't at home and wasn't coming home. There was going to be a fallout from this, but she couldn't blame her sister for this. To her, it felt like something that had been set up.

As Améa spoke, Jezebel felt for her, all this time she hadn't even known who her husband was related to, and the potential danger that had been hovering over her family like a dark cloud, just waiting. She nodded, however, when they spoke of Améa staying with Stuart. It was probably the best choice, until the danger was clear.

"I'm one hundred per cent certain that he would insist, especially after learning about this," The young woman said easily. In fact, it would give her father even more reason to be protective of the lot of them, no doubt.

"Should I get Grandpa, so that he can be informed?" Lorelei then spoke from beside Jez, causing the mother to look to her, before offering Adele a questioning gaze. It probably would be easier to explain to him here while they were all together, than have to retell everything later.

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Adele laughed at the mention of Jezebel's huge house. Yes, it was enormous. Adele didn't understand the need for a giant house, though she'd had a fairly large one in Narrie at one point. Which... had been for others, not for herself. She'd been much happier in the tiny four-bedroom brick home she'd shared with Dave. The place had been almost falling apart and they'd lived practically on top of each other, but... she liked that. It had been a home.

Which was exactly why she couldn't go back, and staying with Caleb in her even tinier living quarters at Tally was much preferred. She'd grown up in the palace behind her, been lost in a world where she never had a proper place, the older she got the more she craved the security of the small and intimate. 

To Lei, she nodded.

"Yes." Adele said. "That would be good."

Lei reminded her of Améa at times. But a good, less angry, version of Améa. What the older girl should have been if Adele had not failed her. Both had the unsettling nature of Lillian (and Adele herself, though Adele never realised it), and carried with them the distinct impression that they knew too much.

"I think it better if at first, Zane does not know she is gone for good." Adele added after a while. "Ruella, perhaps if you wrote to him---say you must be distant a while to get stronger? It may buy us time."

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Given the permission to bring another here, Lorelei looked to her own mother for a small nod before she then vanished easily into thin air. Her control over her magic still surprised Jezebel on occasion, but that was mostly because Jez had dealt with the growing pains of having magic that wasn't quite like the other wizarding children and adults that she knew, and hadn't known why. Lorelei had known since before she was born, had even been able to conjure up what she wanted as a baby.

It made Jezebel wary that she had a seven year old going on thirty something some days.

"That's a really good idea, actually," The young woman's attention was returned to Adele and Améa as their mother mentioned a way to delay potential disaster regarding the Zane side of things. "It'll at least buy us some time to prepare and try to maybe get our feelers out to find anything suspicious," Perhaps even keep an eye on Zane himself, to see if he meets with anyone.

"Do you know where Zane works, Ruella?" Jezebel asked the other woman as she stepped over. The triplets were still gently rubbing Améa's arms and back in order to try and comfort the woman. She could feel their combined love and calm from where she was. They were very aware that something was wrong, and wanted to do their part to help, and chose to try and ease Améa's terror that had overcome her, so that she would be able to have input.

A moment later, Lorelei reappeared in the garden, with the tall figure of Stuart Blair beside her. The man's tie was loosely hanging around his neck, which meant he'd finished work for the day at least, and he had a mixture of confusion and concern in his features.

"Uh, so Lei said that there was something important happening and... Améa?" As his gaze finally saw the woman who was surrounded by the triplets, he could barely believe it. "It's good to see you," He said quietly as a warm gentle smile tugged at his features, a hint of sadness in his gaze. He then looked at the other women who were standing, "Something to do with Zane?"

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As Adele spoke, Améa nodded. It seemed to make sense, and she had promised him she would find a way to get better. It was just going to be a little more permanent than intended. Part of her longed to introduce Nika to her father, and yet---what good would that do? If Zane was related to that monster, would he harm Nika in the way Thomas had harmed her? How could Adele have kept something so important from her?

She shook her head as Jezebel asked about Zane's work situation. Améa had never involved herself in his work life, she'd had too much to attend to in the home. Whatever he did kept food on the table, and this she knew she had to be thankful for. 

"I did never ask." she admitted softly.

At the sound of Stuart's voice, she looked back, letting him see properly her sunken features. The comfort of the triplets was nice, they didn't burn in the way that Jezebel, Lorelei and Adele did. They were... easier to tolerate. She couldn't explain exactly how, just that they were.

"Nika is mine daughter and mine husband cannot know..." Améa tried to explain, still so overwhelmed by the revelations of the evening that her voice broke and she couldn't continue.

"Améa has chosen Nika over Zane." Adele finished for her. "Which will mean retaliation. Zane's uncle is Thomas Sollozzo, he's threatened me repeatedly should I dare take Améa from him. Jezebel will be safe with her family in their house, I will be secure with Caleb at the school." she kept her tone level as she explained.

"I think it prudent if Améa goes to a third location, we thought perhaps you may be willing to shelter her?"

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Jezebel simply nodded as Améa said that she didn't know where her husband worked. She had expected as much, and wondered just how many secrets he might be keeping, or how many skeletons in his closet. She shared a look with Adele briefly, wondering if the other woman was just as curious about where he went during the day, and who he spent time with. It was a possible way of finding Sollozzo before he came to them.

"I might try to see if I can find out where he goes during the day," Jez murmured to her mother, "If there's a chance that we can find Sollozzo first, then we might be able to catch him unaware before anything happens." And perhaps save a lot of them the grief that was no doubt going to come with his arrival. She didn't doubt that he knew of them all, Zane knew about Jez and the triplets. If he was in contact with his uncle then Thomas probably knew as well. There was a lot of ways to harm Adele these days, more people that she cared about.

With Stuart's arrival, Jez fell silent a moment, glancing at Lorelei who held a very serious expression. The girl knew everything they were talking about, understood what it meant, and was just as protective as any of the adults. The mother hoped it didn't get her hurt.

Stuart himself saw Améa's state and immediately wanted to hunt Zane down for allowing her health to deteriorate so much. Even if he didn't know exactly what she, or Adele of Jez, or the children, were, he knew that they definitely were not supposed to look so worn down and unhealthy. He took a few steps toward her, crouching down so that he could examine her features properly, concern and a clear fierce protectiveness in his own gaze.

At least until she spoke, and then his eyes widened in shock as he looked between her and Nika, and then to Jez.

"What?!"

"Similar thing as what was done to save Lorelei," Jezebel answered quickly, the most direct answer that would give the man some idea of how it was that the child he knew had been born from one daughter was actually the daughter of his other. At least it was enough to get a nod from him, even if his gaze was still full of questions.

"Then I have to agree, that he shouldn't find out," The man said. Stuart ruffled Nika's hair gently, causing the girl to smile brightly up at him as she turned to give the man a quick hug, before returning to Améa.

Stuart looked to Adele as she then spoke as well, and for the second time his eyes widened in shock, before a dark look fell across his features. Oh, he knew about Thomas Sollozzo, and remembered when Adele had faked her death to escape from the man. It had been one of those moments when he'd wished he'd told Jezebel about her mother so that she could have known the woman before she'd died.

And then Del had returned to the world, alive and well.

"He's related to that scum, and you didn't say anything?" Stuart asked Adele, before sighing, rubbing a hand through his hair to keep himself from getting overly annoyed over this. Looking to Améa again, Stuart offered her a hand to stand back up if she wanted to, as he nodded, "Of course, you can stay with me, Améa. You let me know whatever you need, food, clothes, favourite movies. We'll set up your own bedroom, and you'll be safe at the house, I promise." Honestly, it was taking everything not to just grab her in a large hug, but he was being wary of her boundaries.

"I'm going to have to let the Ministry know that Sollozzo's likely back in the country," Stuart then said to Adele, "They're probably going to insist on having a couple of Aurors watching over the school, since I assume you're staying there. And probably one or two keeping an eye on my place while Améa's living there." If Thomas Sollozzo was back in the country, then they were going to need to be prepared.

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"Not alone you won't." Adele murmured back to Jezebel. "And don't you dare let him see you. Perhaps you could send someone else? Someone trusted?"

But it wasn't a bad idea, trying to find Sollozzo through Zane. They might get some sort of advantage, especially if they convinced him that Améa would return in time. How long they could play that out, Adele wasn't sure, but it was worth a try. 

"Yes---I knew. After she was in too deep." Adele explained. She'd never been comfortable with Zane, but she hadn't known about his family until after the pair were married and Améa was devoted to him. Trying to extricate Améa from his life then would have been impossible on all fronts. "It had to be her decision to leave."

From the ground where she was still crouched, Améa looked up at Stuart. Her eyes welled with tears, his gentle kindness overwhelming to her. He mentioned movies. Améa loved those. She took his hand, and was struck by the size and strength and warmth of it. 

It was here that Améa had played with the man she believed was her father, where he had helped her up from the ground when she fell. Her soul rang with a bitter guilt at that memory, her father---he was buried here. She was betraying him again. And she didn't deserve the kindness of someone like Stuart after what she had done. Soon as she was on her feet, she withdrew her hand.

"As long as the aurors are discreet." Adele agreed. "I don't much feel like explaining this to Alan. He's got bigger things to worry about with the school year."

"I... all my owning are with him." Améa spoke of her clothes, her few belongings. What she owned here at the palace was... not suited to life outside of L'Arindelle. "Mine... mine cat!" a note of panic entered her voice. What would Zane do when he realised she was gone? How would he treat Faireth in the meantime?

"Mine cat! Mine cat!" she stammered, clutching at her loose shirt. "He will harm, I know! I must first go and get, I cannot leave... not if cat not safe!"

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Jezebel huffed slightly, wondering if Adele was even aware of the amount of self-defense training she'd been undergoing for the past years, but she decided not to argue with the other woman's order that she was not to spy on him alone. She thought for a few moments, going over the list of trusted people in her mind, and one potential ally popped up.

"I'll get Vlad to help," The young woman responded to her mother. Her brother-in-law was more than well-equipped to handle himself if trouble cropped up, and would also guard her with his life, not to mention he still had his own questions about things that had occurred years ago. He was an old friend of Améa's as well, which meant he would be invested in helping her to recover and assisting their family.

Stuart was unhappy to learn about Zane's connection to Thomas Sollozzo, even more so to learn that Adele had known and told no one else about it. But it was done, and now they did know, so they would have to do what they could to keep everyone safe and secure while keeping an eye out for the fugitive.

The man simply smiled softly as Améa drew her hand back from his, before leaning down to give all the triplets a big hug, squishing them together lightly, which caused them to giggle and squeal. He hated seeing them worried, and they all knew far too much for children.

"Bigger things than a known murderer potentially trying to scope out the school?" Stuart raised his brows at Adele. He hardly thought that keeping a secret from the Headmaster was a very wise idea. If anything happened at the school then Alan was the one who had to answer for it, and Adele knew that. "Let me talk to him, it's better that someone knows than something happening and no one was warned," He wasn't going to be responsible for shit going bad and his cousin being hit out of the blue, "He's their family too."

Both Jezebel and Stuart looked toward Améa as the woman spoke about her things and anything she might need. It would be easy enough to get her new clothing, things that she could choose out herself, that she liked and wanted to wear. Perhaps even get her some jeans and a shirt suited for country life. But then the woman began to freak out as she remembered her cat.

"I'll go," It didn't take long for Jezebel to think of a solution for this predicament, "Write a letter now, and I can take it to the house. If he's not there, I'll leave it for him and get the cat and anything else you want me to pick up. If he is, I'll just hand him the letter and explain to him that I'm trying to help you recover." Of course, it was risky for Jez to be going, but it was an even bigger risk to let Améa go back right now, already shaken after the discoveries of the day.

"I don't want you going there on your own," Stuart said with a deep frown that drew some lines into his features, as he gently drew Améa into a small hug, in order to try and calm her. Not that he didn't think Jez could handle herself. But what if Sollozzo was already there and watching the place?

"It's a bigger risk for Améa to go there. Besides, he'd know better than to try something, because obviously I wouldn't go there without others knowing where I am," Jezebel offered Améa a reassuring smile, "I won't leave there without your cat, I promise."

"Mamiere will be watched over," Lorelei said softly with her own little nod. "You must be kept safe, Aunt Ruella.. You must recover."

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"Fine." Adele said to both Stuart and Jezebel. Stu could handle Alan better than anyone, and she supposed letting Vlad spy on Zane was a far better option than getting Jez to do it. She didn't much like the idea of Alan having to know about all of this, Adele wasn't sure how that accomplished anything... but then she also wasn't keen on having aurors posted guard either. Thomas would find a way, even if it meant going through people.

Adele didn't want to put too many people between herself and Thomas to be gone through. 

"I don't want you going either." Adele shook her head at the plan for Jezebel to pick up the cat. "If one of us is there to deliver the news and collect the cat, he'll know something is up. He might try and take some sort of reassurance that we'll return Améa when she's recovered. I don't really fancy the idea of you being locked in a basement indefinitely, Jezebel." 

"We do not have a basement..."Améa mumbled, finding herself folded into Stuart's arms. Unlike her mother and sister, being close to Stuart didn't burn. While her mind told her that she didn't deserve this, her heart craved the comfort---and she stayed. Even snuggling in a little closer.

"Not the point." Adele sighed. "We'll get the cat, but I can't... I won't let---"

A throat cleared itself politely behind her. Adele spun around, to find Bethianna standing there---cat in her arms.

"Mine cat!" Améa cried. 

Bethianna crossed through the group to deliver the cat to Améa, who then cuddled it between herself and Stuart protectively. 

"Now there is no need for any to return to danger." Bethianna said smoothly, backing to the edges once more. Adele followed her with a wary eye, the duchess made for a very unusual ally.

"Okay so... that happened." Adele blinked. "Right... anything else we need to deal with?"

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