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Adele DeVylissea

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About Adele DeVylissea

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    Librarian & Scary Mamma

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  1. Open Just Because You Can

    Pregnancy sucked. Especially when you were trying to do it "right". The sight of Adele waddling into the pub on David's arm was comical, elegant as she looked in a maternity dress it was still a far cry from her usually graceful figure. Stifled giggles, especially from those who were glad to see her looking a little awkward, filtered through the room. Adele greeted the gigglers with a deep scowl. "Don't mind them, babe," was all David could say. What else was there to say? Her feet were swollen and everything hurt, she wasn't "allowed" to drink and this baby seemed downright determined to stay where it was. According to her mother, this wasn't a problem. Adele felt differently. She wanted this to be over, she wanted her body back. Irritably, she sent David on a mission to fetch drinks, and made her way out to the beer garden where fewer eyes would mock her. With a groan, she sank herself into a chair. The baby kicked in protest at the movement, making her wince. "Stop it," she grumbled. The winter chill wasn't enough to stop her from feeling overheated, she was glad that this time she wasn't pregnant in summer. That had been horrible. Small mercies. This was bad enough, though. After checking around to see where Dave was at (still lined up at the bar), she slid a cigarette out from a pocket, and twirled it between her fingers. She could probably finish it before he got back... but should she?
  2. Invite The Ball & Chain

    "I didn't even know that much," Adele said softly. How was she supposed to feel here, though? Was she allowed to be upset that her brother, who she barely knew, hadn't confided in her his intent to propose? It hurt, she couldn't deny that---but was the hurt allowed? Had they got to a point where she should expect that he would have told her? Probably not, and she tried to forgive it on those grounds alone. Thinking that she had some right as his sister to be privvy to those sorts of details was probably just a fantasy created by too many feel-good movies. He wasn't to know the rest of it. That as the highest ranking member of the family, he was supposed to ask her permission. Or that marrying would cause complications for the rest of the family. There was so much she'd put off until the future was a little more certain, and... the chance those complications weren't going to be an issue in the near future was a very real possibility. It was silly to worry about what might happen because of this marriage, when there was no guarantee Alex would see Christmas. "I guess I never had to worry so much how much time I had left," Adele replied after a long moment. "Once I was safely away from my step-mother, when my adoptive mother and I came here, it was like I could survive anything. The world could burn down and I would be unharmed," a slight frown crossed her face. "Sounds ideal, but it's not. We moved a lot to outrun the curse, eventually Mamiere got tired of running. Tired of losing everything when we didn't run. So she left. She didn't tell me. She was just... gone one day." Adele liked to believe that she'd only become stronger for that day, that being left to fend for herself in a foreign country as a child had made her unbreakable. That years of doing what she had to do to survive were what had carried her through the days where she wasn't sure why she was surviving. "I know what it's like to not have a place that you fit. Until I met David, I wondered why I was even bothering. I mean, he did leave twice, but... everything I have here and now, I've never had this much. I have a brother, my father, a husband, and three of my children here with me. If Lauren and Mamiere were here too, I would be truly complete, and that is a lot to lose. I'm just... waiting for that day. The inevitable end."
  3. Invite The Ball & Chain

    Adele stopped with one arm raised to open a cupboard, intending to retrieve mugs to make coffee or tea or something vaguely normal. What was the protocol for visits from surprise in-laws? It definitely wasn't this conversation. Slowly, she lowered the arm, turned to face Cass, and blinked in that very expressionless and curious way that seemed to be a habit of the blue eyed freaks. This girl was so desperate for family, she was reaching this far? Adele didn't even know what to do with that. Suddenly she felt responsible for helping Cass make sense of her life, and when she couldn't make sense of her own life that was a heck of an undertaking. "Yes," she said, finally turning back to the cupboard to get the mugs. "I felt that most days of my life." Though she said it with a sense of cool detachment, it was true enough. So many of the finer details of who she was, how she came to be, all of that had been obscured from her. Even the existence of her own brother and father. Adele lived now with the expectation that there was some other secret she would discover at an inconvenient time, some deeper truth that was being kept out of her reach. "I suspect Mother intends to draw the truth out across my lifetime, if she intends to tell it at all," she added. "Tea? Coffee?" David had kindly asked that she step back from the coffee herself, as it was supposed to be bad for the baby. He never could seem to grasp the idea that everything would be fine, and so she was on a diet that excluded all of her favourite things. At least... she was when David was home. "Whatever Alex is hiding---if he's hiding anything at all---will be paining him to hide it, I imagine. He's not one for secrets," which was unusual in their family. Key evidence that he had not been raised among their kind. "So if he is keeping one, I would have faith that it is with good reason. He will share at the soonest moment he can." All of this was nothing that Cass didn't already know, Adele wasn't sure why she was even saying it. Perhaps the girl just needed to hear it from someone outside of her own paranoid mind, or maybe she was hoping that Adele would be able to shed light on the nature of the secrets. Still, there were other issues that Adele could address. At least in part. "I don't not like you," she started---and paused. No, honesty was a better option here. "I'm not particularly fond of you. It's not really your fault, and what is your fault is just as much his too," the drinks finished, she brought them over to the table, sat them down but didn't sit herself. "One day out of nowhere, I find out I have a brother. And that he's sick, probably dying. In fact, if we don't find some solution fast he's guaranteed an early death, which is a fantastic reason to get out and make as many memories as you can--live life fully, absolutely, but perhaps... just perhaps..." Adele paused. She was getting worked up. "... There were others who wanted to be part of those memories too, before we can't make anymore," she finished softly. "I didn't even know it was something he was considering, how in hell can I protect him when I can be blindsided like that?" Adele frowned. "There's too much we don't know, and yeah--I would have advised against it, at least for the time being. We don't even know how he's likely to react to your blood. What if something had happened over there? What would you have done? Just hoped that Bethianna or Mother were around to fix it?" Adele shrugged, finally sinking onto a chair. "I'm not ready to lose him yet. And everything about that trip made me feel like he was already good as gone."
  4. Doing The Time

    "You're young enough to start again," Adele said, amused by the apparent certainty that Gerry had regarding her own reputation. "And bold enough to make it work. If I can pull back some semblance of respectability, anyone can," the last was not a light comment. Though Gerry had been much younger when Adele wrecked havoc around Narrie, the stories persisted. They seemed at odds with the allegedly well-adjusted librarian, and her quiet domestic life. She hadn't so much changed as just... kept the drama to a certain few. She wore the stories like a weapon, threatening at any moment to show those around her just how true they all were. "You'll never be a quiet one. You'll always have fire. You weren't made to just sit in a corner and look pretty, you're more than that," Adele stopped with the books for a moment, sitting herself up on a desk and watching Gerry work. There was something endearing about Gerry's angry justice, and tragic in what little regard she seemed to have for the personal consequences of her actions. "Then don't deal with the hierarchy. Be the hierarchy," Adele's smile widened. It was almost diabolical. "You can either sit at the bottom and be angry, or stand at the top and see your justice done. It is a choice. Forget what you think people see in you, start making them see what they should see in you. How you want to be seen." her head tilted slightly, fingers drumming along the wooden panelling of the desk. "How do you want to be seen? Feared? Respected? Admired? Loved? Hated?" the question was genuine. She stood again, wandering over to a clear area of the library and beckoned for Gerry to put down the books she was shelving and join her. Adele sighed. "At the moment, your technique shows only weakness. Come---hit me." And she waited. For Gerry to do as she was asked, and hit a pregnant woman. How else did you evaluate ability?
  5. Window to the Sky

    "I've had ample opportunity to read," Bethianna replied wryly. Time was something she'd had a lot of. The years hadn't always been interesting or eventful, for the most part it had been a mundane trudge through history into modernity. Watched as humans over and over again cried that the world was falling down, looking back on "good old times" that were the same as the current times---just in a different way. Nothing truly got worse, but nor did it really get better. It simply was. Nevertheless, it had made for some long hours reading the rambling doctrines of various thinkers. Anna didn't have much patience for fiction, there were too many lies already out there in the world without bothering putting them into a book. She cultivated her own various arts and abilities, fed her mind on the new ideas and technology (even if she loathed the digital era), and found ways to keep herself occupied and up to date. "We all did struggle and crawl about in our first lifetime, Alexander," she reminded him. "In that you are not unique. And there are very few decisions made by our beginning selves that, with enough time, cannot be unmade eventually. Permanence is a luxury given only to mortals, who expire before time bestows the decision upon them once more," at that she looked briefly over in the direction that Elscia had stormed off. A temporary feature of her life, perhaps? A decision that would eventually expire, along with her marriage, and what was the point of breaking their legal commitment when death would eventually do the honours? "You have the fight in you," she nodded after a moment. "A strong will to stay. There is nothing else we can do to widen your chance." Her lips thinned against each other, hand rising to his cheek to brush the backs of her fingers against it. A fond, almost maternal gesture. She didn't bother to correct him when he called her "auntie". The moment was weird, as if she didn't really know what she ought to be doing or how to do it. Age brought many things, but it hadn't made these moments any easier for her.
  6. Window to the Sky

    Alexander really was terribly naive. Bethianna wasn't sure if that was what made him so endearing, or if it was her tragic tendency to invest her time into lost causes. Naivety was a leading cause of death, after all. The Violet had possessed the same wide-eyed optimism, he'd always been so certain that the world was good at the core of it. Bethianna wasn't so sure. There were days, more often than she liked, where she found herself wondering if their effort was ever worth it. Could the world really be so much worse, worse than it currently was, if they had never interfered? "There will be complications, if you should decide to be known here," Bethianna said. "You will need to decide if you wish to be known as Rheldor's son, or Aellra's brother. It can never be known that he is her father, so you cannot be both," but that was really small fish in a world like this. The lies were everywhere if you looked just beneath the surface. Questions had always been raised about Adele's parentage, were it not for the distinct Athrose eyes the challenges might have succeeded. For Alex, she really did see a different future. If he lived beyond his acceptance, and then still beyond his natural life---he had the potential to become a force for good. A potential that would be wasted at the head of such a backward society as the one in L'Arindelle. For all it's beauty, it was a place of knives. Democracy would be an interesting transition, if it ever happened. "There is a philosopher once who believed the measure of a life was not in how ready one would be to end it, but in how ready one would be to relive each moment. To return to the place they are in, with all the pain and all the joy, every good and bad decision. For a life is the sum of joy and pain both, good and bad both, and if you cannot say that you would arrive back to where you are with satisfaction... then truly you have not lived," she liked to imagine that The Violet would have enjoyed modern philosophy. She didn't, so much, but there was a part of her (not a part of her own, she felt) that needed it. "If you are content with the measure of your life as it stands, you are ready," there was a reluctance to her voice, if only slightly. Alexander might be ready, but was she? "Set about putting your affairs in order, speak with those as if it may be the last time. Once you are done, we will set about a time to move forward."
  7. Window to the Sky

    "Millea was always fair-minded, I think it pained her enough to be at odds with Lillian," Bethianna murmured. There was a tiny thread of jealousy there. She had barely known her own twin long enough to know what that bond was like, or how it compared to the absence of it. "But the seeds were sewn long before you or your sister, when a descendant of the Blue and a descendant of the Gold found themselves paired as Lillian and Millea had been. Young and foolish, they were hunted by the Grey. Slain and absorbed into the monster the Grey became," the stories always did feel like just that. Stories. Dramatic, thrilling. Full of pain. "When the time came that the Grey was weak and vulnerable, Millea insisted on a complete end as had been given to her descendants. Lillian would not agree. As the others debated what must be done, Lillian spirited away what was left of the Grey for 'safe keeping', promising that no descendants would again come to harm at the hand of the Grey, but... we know what she did make of that now," which made Flora a problem. Something so completely unknown even to the ones who made her, there was no way to predict how she would be. Was there enough Lauren to hold back the darkness? Bethianna wished she had an answer. "It may fall to us to finish the task," Bethianna warned. "Be wary of her, Alexander. I know not what she wants, or what she is capable of. Do not let her facade fool you, Flora is not a child. She merely chooses a child's face to keep you unguarded." She resisted the urge to roll her eyes as Alexander mentioned the personal nature of their conversation. Bethianna was unsure how he managed it each time, he seemed to uncover more and more pieces of the puzzle. It was... and she hated to make the comparison... similar to how the Violet had been in his ability to get her to talk. Only with him had she ever allowed her guard to truly drop, everything else was purpose and calculations. She had affection, that much was true, but she dealt it as a goddess to her chosen people. From a distance, and ever unknowable herself. "If you survive, the next question is to be why you survived. Mayhap it will help future descendants, I would hope you not be the only one. Perhaps we will see what should come if a male and female of full blood brought forth children. A clue to how we came to be, maybe. Of course, it would also be necessary to see if there are ways to more permanently fix the tear from which you leak, as it was with the Violet. If you survive acceptance, that only means you to be in the same condition as he, and he perished still." There were no guarantees. Ever. That was the problem. "But for your life as a whole? That is your own," she said after a long moment. "Perhaps you would wish to find your destiny here, and take your place as your father's son. I don't see that for you, but I may be wrong. I believed similar of Aellra. You I see as more us than them, with potential in time to step outside of the flow of human life and to guide, heal, teach perhaps. You will find what calls you, given the chance."
  8. Window to the Sky

    He seemed to at least grasp the concept of the sorceraic twins, and that was a relief. Somewhere between closest family and soulmate, but at the same time neither---it wasn't a concept easily explained. Only that they were parts of the same whole, and never fully balanced without the other. He also seemed to have realised Bethianna's own place in the story, though she went to great lengths not to directly connect those dots. "The Violet existed barely as long as you have now," she said after a moment. "A fraction of even a mortal life. He lived what he had to the full, yet his only child was a halfblooded boy that perished in his acceptance. Such the line of Violet was ended," she recounted it all as if from a book, a legend passed down through the ages. To think that she had been there, that it had been her who conducted that first failed acceptance---Bethianna distanced herself from the history. That was another her. One who lived too long ago to be who she was now. "Yes.. Millea is the name she used last we knew her," Bethianna's voice strengthened a little with the change of subject. "She had a warrior spirit, a battle tactician who whispered in the ears of conquerors who became legend. She is perhaps the only person your mother truly cared for with the whole of her heart. They were utterly devoted to each other. More so even than the Grey and the Brown. Together they raised L'Arindelle from the sea and warded it from muggle eye, and together they saw this safe haven form and grow. Millea was not content to remain here while conflict waged outside the wards, and neither was she pleased with how your mother inserted herself directly into the bloodline. She left shortly before your sister came to be, and has not been seen since." At his next question, Bethianna simply shook her head. "Infuse you? I had thought about it, but until the situation with Ylora we did not know it even possible," she admitted. "Your sister made a fool decision to leave this world, and as she lay broken to the last of her life, Lillian pushed her to accept her sorceraic blood so that she might survive. Aellra survived, but the daughter she carried---of the blood but not accepted---was too weak to survive from her own energy. I do not approve of what Lillian did, but I understand her reasons. It was at best a desperate hope, that by joining the last remaining light of the Grey with Ylora's waning spirit she might have enough to mend the tear and live. And... it worked," Bethianna shrugged one shoulder. "But the daughter that was born was not the daughter that was conceived. Not entirely. Ylora grew with absolute awareness of her surroundings, she was born with the intelligence and independence of an adult... trapped in an infant body. And she despised Aellra. To gain the freedom she desired, Ylora faked her own death and became Flora as you know her now." And that was the key. Lillian hadn't saved Lauren and then just decided not to tell anyone about it. This had been masterminded by Lauren herself, and the secrecy kept to shield Adele from the painful truth that the daughter she grieved for had done all this to escape her. "Much of The Grey has been imparted on her. That concerns me. Within her is the girl she was made by her mother and father, but also a much older, bitter. and stronger soul. You see the child she is but rarely," Bethianna frowned. "Knowing this, it would take much for me to force such a duality on another. Or even to find a person with whom I could trust the existence of the Violet. A last and desperate resort, possibly. I couldn't say. I don't plan for it."
  9. Window to the Sky

    Bethianna let Alex speak, the bitter taste of Elscia's anger fading from her mouth. The girl was--in many ways--quite validated in her hurt. The choice to purge her of the blood had been made before she was even born, the sole reason for her existence resting upon a technicality of Bethianna's sham marriage. So the girl's purpose had merely been to exist and prove that Bethianna and Kheldere were married completely. She had never intended for the girl to ever know that she'd had the blood, or indeed much at all about her other heritage. Yet, Elscia had run to Lillian and been told far more than Bethianna ever wanted her to know. "Elscia is wrong when she says "brother" and "cousin"," Bethianna started slowly. "Lillian uses such terms to suggest we have bonds made in blood, but aside from our shared ability we are not kin. At least, not in the way humans understand the word." It was a difficult concept to explain, made more difficult by the fact that there had been no explanation to her. Or to the others. There was no before. "I have told you this story, have I not? Of the six, as three pairs: the Brown and the Grey, the Blue and the Gold, and the Green and the Violet. Not siblings born together, but paired from heart to soul. Twins to each other, but for the eyes---equal sides of the scale. One light, one dark. One day, one night. Together a perfect balance, designed to complement and complete each other. Out of six, only one was male. The Violet---made with a tear in his soul that leaked as a mortal's. His pain gave great depth to his thoughts, and he was known also as the Philosopher. No source of energy or healing could mend that tear. He was the first of the six to cease," Bethianna's hand dropped from the rose. "The second to cease was The Grey. She gave her heart to a mortal who perished, his death fractured her mind. Unbound by morality and unravelling in her soul, she hunted down descendants of our blood, any who were not kin to her---she purged. The Grey accumulated power and reduced them to mortal, in the hope that she could save herself future pain by being able to extend the life of any new love indefinitely. It took the remaining four to trap The Grey, and to keep her imprisoned until she begged to cease. Her twin and jailer, The Brown, never recovered from the loss and the guilt, and ceased soon after." "I don't know what became of The Gold. I know her twin, The Blue---your mother---feels her absence keenly. It is only in recent years that Millea vanished, I assume she simply doesn't want to be found, else we would know more. There is nothing to suggest she has ceased, though I'm not sure if your mother would even speak of it if she had. The loss would explain a lot of her desperation, but that is... pure speculation on my part."
  10. Window to the Sky

    "My motives?" Elscia's eyebrows rose, along with the pitch of her voice as though she thought the proposition was simply laughable. "I don't think you understand, dear cousin. I have nothing to gain from any of you. Even were I not so far removed from the line of succession, to what end could I ever expect it should fall to me with so many eternals before me? I have precisely, in this time, all that will ever be allotted to me and never any true chance of more, and I am not unhappy with that," there was a ring of truth to her words. She didn't have anything to gain, but that wasn't the point. Elscia didn't want power, political or magical. Reasons that drove the average person simply weren't there. "Yet you do nothing without cause, Elscia," Bethianna intoned, her voice still incredibly displeased. Elscia's tight grin flashed through annoyance, to anger. And then... hurt. "Is it so outlandish to think perhaps I desire some member of my family to care if I live or die?" she snapped. "You disallow me our common blood then shun me for not having it---you fight for Lui'xander's right to exist and yet deny mine even as I stand here? You say it is because he has purpose, when both we know such purposes are invented and given by you. Is my crime that you had daughter and not son? Am I so purposeless and useless to you simply because I could not replace your brother?" Bethianna's expression didn't flicker as Elscia hissed her injured accusations. None of it was untrue, and none of it really could be defended. So she remained silent. "Mistake not, Lui'xander, that is what draws her to you. To turn you into the shadow of a brother centuries dead. Aunty Lillian ensured Calebrien's blood was purged to save him from such a fate, and though the dullness of your eyes suggests you also have been purged---what is it you plan now, Mummy? You couldn't mean to replace him entire with the Violet?" Elscia's expression was one of disgust. "Lui'xander, dear cousin, if you tire of being moved as a piece in the game---seek for me. I cannot save you from their strings and secrets, but I can provide human company. Something in short supply in our family." And with her outburst complete, Elscia swept away as fast as she had arrived. Bethianna's expression still hadn't moved. But she had turned to one of the gardens, her fingers tracing the edges of the petals on a yellow rose. "I imagine you have some questions," she said softly. "Ask what you will."
  11. David and my father have conspired to send me on a "spa day". They're refusing to let me go to work. Off with their heads!

    1. Alexander Winfield

      Alexander Winfield

      You deserve it, just take it in. You'll end up missing it once the kiddo comes along.

    2. Geraldine Richter

      Geraldine Richter

      Who is going to make everyone rattle in their shoes over late fees?

  12. Window to the Sky

    Elscia, it seemed, did not have the heightened intuition that Bethianna, Lillian, and the others did. She made guesses based on what she could see, and what she assumed to be true. Alexander's eyes were not as she would have expected from her mother's kind, and they looked too dull still to be containing any of that power. It didn't occur to her that a simple pair of contact lenses might be meddling with her perception. Alexander must simply have chosen (or been forced to choose) his wizarding side. But she laughed as her hand was moved. "Oh now, your girl doesn't approve of your family being close?" she asked. Elscia had no designs on Alexander, even though they were not blood kin. He was however, a curiosity in how he'd managed to capture Bethianna's attention for so long. Getting answers had been difficult, but persistence paid off. It was almost... sweet... how her mother was working so hard to replace what she'd lost. Elscia didn't really have time for what held sentimental value for her mother though. What was more important was that it existed. And so too was the nugget of supposedly secret information so casually tossed into the conversation. Another fact gleaned from Lillian in one of her weaker moments, the diabolical scale of the lie was delicious to her. Having Alexander know, and therefore be forced to wrestle with himself over whether he ought speak up... a mental anguish that might almost pay him back the torture that was living a life invisible to her own mother, a woman forever preoccupied with a lost prince. Haphazard as she seemed, Elscia was as cold and calculating as Bethianna could be. "I know Mummy has tried this so many times, I really thought she would push you further. The others, clearly, were not successful. Had Aunty Lillian not protested, she had a mind to take little Calebrien that way too, didn't you Mummy?" as Elscia looked at her, Bethianna could not---would not---deny it. "But, you standing here, wizard as you are... now that is a wonderful sign that Mummy has accepted that it brings only illness and pain, and not to inflict it any further." "Are you quite done, Elscia?" Bethianna frowned. "Don't be like that, Mummy. I just want to welcome my cousin here to the family. And if there is anything he wishes to know about us, he is most welcome to ask," the smile that spread across her lips didn't falter for a second. "I think you'll find me far more agreeable with information than our elders, or even your sister."
  13. Window to the Sky

    "Should you reach your hundredth year, I fear you'll be disappointed in the frequency of your 'blue moon'," Bethianna's wry tone suggested it was... a joke? Elscia's sudden intrusion was less than welcome, immediately setting her lips to a thin frown. The girl played up like this as if it were to embarrass her, there were no real bonds behind her terms of endearment. It was an act. It was always an act. "Oh, yes, I have heard of you," Elscia said with a gleeful grin. "Mummy doesn't like to give details, but Aunty Lillian was most obliging. Little Alexander Athrose, finally back home---what an occasion! Where has Mummy been hiding you? She hasn't---oh no, your eyes..." Elscia tutted softly. "She took it away from you too, didn't she? Made you choose the other side. What did Mummy tell you to make you agree to that?" "Elscia, enough," Bethianna warned. "In any case, it does make us the same, and that is exciting. Do you know how it is to only have cousins preoccupied with eternity? Now we have each other, dear cousin, you'll be far better company than Aellra and her breed, I can see that already..." there was something very wrong about Elscia. A sinister playfulness that lurked beneath her melodic voice, the clear contempt she held for Bethianna while pretending to a sweet daughter act. "I suppose it was different for you anyway, dear cousin. My chance of surviving acceptance was ever stronger than yours, quite certain to succeed. Yours, oh... I weep for you, cousin. Even if you survived, what life is it to be Mummy's only experiment gone right?" Bethianna stood in stony silence, letting Elscia dribble her shit. Sooner or later the girl's incoherent babble would reduce her credibility to nothing. There was rarely any use fighting her, Elscia was good enough at destroying herself. "But well done to you, Mummy, for letting this one go. It can't have been easy after all of these years, why who could blame you if you thought perhaps to infuse him as Aunty Lillian did with Láurendylora?" "Do not speak of things you know nothing about," Bethianna said firmly. But Elscia simply laughed, and reached out to squeeze Alex's shoulder. "So secretive, aren't they? So glad you're one of us, and not one of them."
  14. Window to the Sky

    "Yes. That is why I tried to end her," Bethianna had no qualms about admitting it. The truth was the truth, and rarely was it pleasant. If it changed Alex's view of her, that was unfortunate---but she would rather he be disappointed in the truth than admire a lie. "Aellra was different. Your mother insisted she live, that she take her place on the throne. Even though Liana took her in, Lillian kept her close. Aellra worshiped her. Such heavy influence was not in the interests of the nation's future, they had to be separated." Bethianna didn't regret what she'd done. Not one bit. As far as she was concerned, it was all toward a better future for everyone. Sometimes there was a human cost. That was just life. "By the time we knew of you, Lillian's interest in control had waned. She believed there was no use for you in her life, she saw no need to raise and influence you. You were never a threat in the way Aellra was. Lillian's loss, but there was no reason for you to perish. Not when you could be happily raised outside, in a life all your own," Bethianna turned her head slightly, looking down at Alex with a soft frown. "When Aellra returned, and I saw how she had become her own person, I saw no further reason to view her as a threat. She has objectives of her own, not pushed upon her by Lillian. It is not ideal, but there were worse outcomes." She was glad that he saw the truth in her assessment of him, he was young and idealistic. Adele's bitter and hard nature served her well where she was, an unfortunate but true fact. Bethianna shook her head as he spoke of more secrets. There wasn't much more of great importance that he was missing. "The rest is mere details," she said. "Stories that belong to one person or another, the heart of it is here. Should Lillian, Aellra, or any of the others choose to divulge what has occurred to them in life, that is for them to do so. There are things Aellra does not know. But you are all young, and there is plenty of time to discover all the finer points." The sound of clicking heels clattered through the courtyard, a woman racing toward them with a high-pitched giggle. For a moment, it was as if there were two Bethiannas---the quiet, disapproving one that Alex knew well, and the manic laughing one that had stopped near them. She had the same red ringlets, the same angular face. Her eyes were also green, but not as intense, and she lacked that same energy signature that came from other sorceraic. A witch. "Mummy, you should have let us know you were coming home!" she said, in heavily accented English. "Daddy and I would have prepared a lovely meal! Who's this friend you've got here, Mummy? He is rather handsome---is he one of your projects?" light as the conversation appeared, and childlike for a woman who was clearly in her twenties or more, there was a cold undertone that persisted beneath the act. "This is Alexander," Bethianna replied, irritated. "Alexander, this is Elscia."
  15. Window to the Sky

    “This is one of the rare occasions in which Aellra’s reasons are not entirely unfathomable,” Bethianna admitted, as Alex touched on how Adele could have kept something so massive from him. She turned away from the painting, leading him down a long corridor. As they walked, she spoke. “She herself is something of an outsider, and as you must realise—prefers it. Here she is an entity, not a person. There is no freedom. Perhaps if she had been fully raised here in the ways that were considered right, it may have been different. She would have known nothing else.” The air turned colder still as she led him out into a large courtyard. Thin paths separated small plots of earth, planted with roses. Two to three bushes grew on each, a name plate in each one. A graveyard, the life of the dead carried on in the vibrant petals above. There was every colour of rose imaginable, white to red, yellow to lavender, some with colours so deep they were near black, and most curiously — a blue showing here and there. “Many of the ideas here are what you would feel is old-fashioned. A family should only be started when a family unit is stable, generally that means a husband and wife. Not only were your mother and father unwed when Aellra was conceived, it was a match that should never have been. Our position, Alexander, is to guide those who guide nations. For your mother to consort with Rheldor as she did was a terrible conflict of interest.” Her stride was purposeful, but it was really just movement. Letting him take in the scenery as she spoke. Start wrapping his head around all of this. ”Your aunt had recently married, she offered to fake her own pregnancy that Aellra might be legitimate. But it was not far enough removed from Lillian’s influence that the damage could be undone. If they were exposed, Rheldor would be killed and Lillian banished, my threat to do so sent him into hiding. The child—I tried to reverse that too. Fatherhood never suited Kheldere, and your aunt’s marriage failed swiftly. Your grandmother, Ethanielle, granted an extra special concession that her daughter could divorce and seek happiness—something she could do as the current monarch, but not without consequence. Between the threat to Aellra’s life and her own scandal, Ameliana escaped with your sister to the outside world.” She stopped by a particular garde bed, withered stalks suggested it had been planted once but died. “Both were assumed dead, and gardens planted for them. Your sister has ever been more an outsider, not given the trust and love that was given to those before her. She has a strong wish that her family experience a common outside life and know their options, before allowing this to become all that they are.” Bethianna actually respected that view. “Given how limited your life may be, Alexander, it is a heavy weight to ask you to bear.” ”But yes, your father—the lost crown prince, does mean that you are also a prince. To rule, the laws stipulate a marriage that one heart not face the job alone, and to fulfill this requirement Aellra married her first true husband. He was a father to Ruella.” Bethianna watched Alex carefully, attuned to what he may need. Was he unreasonably cold? Upset? Hungry? ”Aellra is far from loved. There are many who would jump at any chance to oust her, something they can only do if a viable option can be found. Ruella was disinherited for her marriage, Jezebel has been forbidden to take that step. Aellra is quite determined that the monarchy end with her, there are others simply determined to end her. A precarious position.” “Your marriage, if it is discovered who you are, will be like a sign to them. An heir of the right line, fresh and young and naive. You are the perfect prey, Alexander. There is... no need yet to end your marriage. We will conceal you as best we are able, bring you here only with protections. When you know yourself, and the truth of your family, enough to choose which life you truly want—then we will reassess.”