Ice and Fire

The night was warm despite the constant chill in the air, but Aurore still kept her hood drawn and her steps quiet. At her side her son as well knew the very secrets that went on within his home that he knew to keep close and to keep his cloak over his hair. His steps were near silent as he kept with her, like a pup to a wolf that moved through the night. Her hand was warm as always, and he held it tightly to chase away the fears.

He had been given a knife—his first, and the weight of it hidden beneath his vest made him very aware that if something were to happen to his mother, he would have to use it. He had been practicing, but only when no one was around.

“Where are we going?” Lucien asked as they got into the boat that would take them to their destination and even though Aurore hushed him she still answered.

“To see a friend, and have something warm. How does that sound?” Her smile was bright as she settled him into his chair and smoothed out his cloak, beneath the cover he could push it back but he would not until she did.

“Will I like this friend?”

Aurore could not help the laugh that left her as she hugged him tightly, “I have a feeling you will. You may even consider them…family.”
word count: 239

Re: Ice and Fire

For every turn she had ever taken, each misstep on the road. Each reservation that was had, all brought her back to the same path. Brought her back to a road that Niamh had tried to stop walking. Tried and failed. Hit her knees and said a prayer. Had called upon power from on high and cloak herself in the virtues of redemption and yet redemption was not hers to have. Beyond the reach of her fingers, always lurking in the shadows. Always pulled into a world that moved in tandem with the sun. At the edge of a canal dock, there stood a tall figure. As tall as a woman had the right to be. A matron that pulled closer the deep twilight grey-blue of her cloak. Pinned at her throat with a circular brooch of moonbeam laced with small sapphires. It was agony to wait. Standing at the edge of the water, a low burning lantern waited near her foot.

"What's that one called again?" the small voice next to her asked.

Moss hues flicked up then back to the rippling water's surface. "Antila" sighing softly as she waited at the edge of the water. Waited and tried to ignore the call. Ignore the lapping sound of the canal. Ignore the sound of the water pushing up, calling her name. Reflecting upon herself. The water called her. Had always called her. A woman who loved the sea, who loved her island home far from Venice. A habit of naming the stars she had taught to her children. A map written in the stars. At night they named every star. They knew where thy were and knew to the core of their beings who they were, stalwart stewards of the sky map.

"Why are we waiting?" a silent eye roll.

"We wait, because they must come to us" frowning as the young child beside her asked yet another question. How many questions had she answered today. In the eyes of the child next to her were the questions of the universe. Questions that begged for her mother to answer. "Will we see father soon?" Niamh turned and kneeled down to be eye level with her daughter. Brilliant cerulean eyes stared back her hair, fingers brushing light strawberry blonde hair as Niamh adjusted her hood. "...He is busy. He wrote recently and he said he misses you all very much. Mikhail keeps your father very busy."

"What does she look like" Ruari asked once more and Niamh warred within her own soul, pushing down the tightening sensation at her neck. Then faintly smiled. "You will know her, when you see her. She is tall like me, and she is very beautiful. Her hair is the sun and.."

"What are they like"

A million questions.

There was a pause. Niamh shook her head faintly. "Wait and see m'leanbh"
word count: 483

Re: Ice and Fire

“Are they more Prussians?” Lucien asked as he curled up to his mother’s side, a place that he wasn’t always allowed to be, but he knew on their little outings as this they could pretend that this was normal; that he wasn’t an heir and she wasn’t just the woman who gave him life.

“No darling, Irish,”
She knew that wouldn’t be such a shock to her boy as one of the servants to his father had been a maiden of Eire and many of the Venetians were made up of the evergreen bloodline of the Celtic graces.

“And there will be children your age as well, you may play but you must be quiet about it.” Play? That made him perk up a little and suddenly look forward to where they were going despite how he liked being warm at his mother’s side.

Aurore could not help the way she would forever think of Mikhail when she thought of Liam and his children, And I hope that baby turns to ash in your stomach. His words cut her still as he knew them as only half a threat and half the truth. He would have been pleased to have Lucien suffer at the cost of what she had bargained with his youngest sister. Laurent had been her greatest thorn and now that he was gone? Had it been worth it? As much as she wanted to hate that man, he had been a brother to her when all else had faded.

Would he have his wish?

“And we mustn’t act above our station tonight, remember that when we are like this we are commoners only,” Aurore brushed back his hair from his eyes and smiled, “It is our game remember?”

Oh he could happily play along.

“Look,” She made a small happy sound as she came into view as beautiful as ever—more so if that were possible.

Niamh stood there like a soldier in her own way, the bright red fire against a cold dark night, and always as before Aurore could not help the way just the sight of her made her heart swell with love. They were two different women on two different paths, but fighting the same war. For the love of their children and the love of their country, both would go at the ends of the world to make it right—make it matter.

The guard and boatman of Aurore’s staff was as trusted to her as her own shadow, and though he was pleased to take the pair out on their sessions he was quick to still the Madame until he’d had a chance to check the dock for anything hidden that neither women may be aware of. His hand warm upon her shoulder was touched by her own as she dismissed his concern,

“Not here. Trust me.”

They would have hell to pay from the fiery redhead Irish pirate that dare tamed a McKenna long enough to put him to bed. That was not an easy thing to accomplish.

”Dia dhuit ” She spoke in Gaelic as she wrapped her arms around Niamh and held her tight, and though Luc didn’t know the language that didn’t mean he would forget it. It was certainly something he would ask Master Castle about later, and he narrowed his eyes to study them before spying the other children. Though he was horribly shy, he was also horridly police and used to proper society. But it wasn’t like his mother to simply hug another, did he have to….hug these kids?

There was a girl. Yuck!
word count: 612

Re: Ice and Fire

Countless stars bestrew above, cold and distant. Seeming to laugh at the mortals below.

Below the finite stories played out. It was from the creeping out of the darkness that Aurore came with Lucien. Not only from the literal darkness of the canal waterway but from the darkness of a shadow that made or broke empires. From a world that was secret. Just as this moment too was a secret to be kept. Silently lenses looked at the young boy she had helped bring into this cold and cruel world. On a night where a storm had howled with a wind that had been filled with the sound of mourn. Just half a year older, was the girl that stood at Niamh's side. Ruari's wide unblinking eyes, eyes as blue as Lucien's own would stare back him. Her lips twitched faintly while their mother's embraced.

Between Aurore and Niamh was the beautiful woman's bodyguard. One that the Irish woman regarded with fierce eyes. Eyes that measured the man. She could take him, she decided. Though into her care released Aurore and Lucien. Coiling about Aurore's lithe frame, arms that shielded the lost, taking them to her breast. Arms that invited in family. Niamh smiled at Aurore. Clicking her tongue. "You've practiced" Teasing Aurore in the soft manner of one sister to another.

Ruari fell back behind her mother's skirts. Partially hiding and partially observing Lucien. "Ruari, say hello" Niamh prompted to the girl at her side. "Dia dhaoibh" Ruari hastily spoke and Niamh simply smiled. Liam had been insistent that gaelic was spoken at home. it was Ruari's first language. "French or English Greetings..." Niamh said. Quickly Ruari would rattle off in both.

"Shall we? Morgaine and Maire are keeping Tiern, me youngest at the house with Cayden. Standing watch. Cayden would welcome Luc's presence in not being outnumbered by girls. " Hinting that there was a boy at the house Lucien would be able to play with as well. Taking a hold of Ruari's hand.
word count: 346

Re: Ice and Fire

“Mother,” Luc started oh so seriously his eyes not leaving Rauri’s, “She is staring at me.” Aurore was quick to give Lucien the touch to his shoulder that was both a warning and a reprimand. In the grace’s of court he was a perfect gentleman, and he would be so now while making his first impressions. That single touch made his spine straighten and he gave the girl a bow, and when her hand was taken by her mother he wanted to reach out for his own mother’s but that wouldn’t be proper.

“I have, but French please. My English is not…used much anymore.” And Lucien didn’t speak it at all, even now he looked up at his mother not knowing if she was trying to speak in secrets or if this was simply a strange way to begin an evening.

“Goodness, I bet they have grown. Do you hear this my son? Another boy to play with, and you will not strike him no?” They were having a bit of an issue with that in his classes.

“I brought wine,” Aurore breathed, and held out the bottle, “One of the last imports from the shipments from Port de Paex.” The last taste of that place would only be proper to share it with the woman who had given her the first chance to be a mother.

Aurore would never forget that night with Niamh and Lewis; how there was a promise that Niamh would run with the baby had he been born a girl, and even now Aurore regretted greatly not allowing him to go with her regardless.
word count: 275
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