Sunday, 10 December 2017

Chapter 3.14 - Newfound Friendship

*Warning: Foul language.* 

Lyra still couldn’t believe she was married.
The ring in her finger wasn’t a heavy weight, but it was one that she was completely unaccustomed to, and it caused her to be hyper-aware of its presence. Instead of filling her with dread though, or making her feel like she was chained, the delicate ring filled her with happiness.
It wasn’t even an expensive ring. They didn’t have the money for one, and honestly, if they were going to spend that much money on something, she’d rather they spend it on something useful. But even though it wasn’t expensive, Lyra loved her ring.
They’d gotten married without fanfare or ceremony. They’d simply registered the documents at the city hall, and afterwards they’d exchanged rings in the privacy of their home.
It was all either of them had wanted.
It was also the last time there had been some peace and quiet in the house, because Mireille soon became a toddler, and if she had been a difficult baby, she was an impossible toddler. She threw tantrums about absolutely everything, and nothing they did helped to put an end to it.
(Toddler spam!)
She constantly tried to break her toys, and whenever Ignis approached her, interested by his new human who smelled like his master, she’d try to hit him or throw him with whatever thing was in reach. It wasn’t long before the dragon avoided her like the plague.
But then there were days when the toddler acted like a perfect little angel, smiling and laughing and being absolutely adorable, and Lyra couldn’t understand how it was possible to love somebody that much.
Lyra still wasn’t interested in having any more children, but the two she took care of…well, she was more than happy with them. Reagan especially, was an absolute blessing to have around. His sweet and obedient nature was a big relief to deal with after Mireille’s temper tantrums. Mireille herself was a lot sweeter around the boy, giggling happily whenever he played with her and demanding hugs whenever she saw him.
He joined the school’s scout club soon after starting school, driven by his love of nature and spending time outside, and after school he could often be found playing with the chickens or in the tree-house. Other days, he’d spend hours and hours chasing after butterflies or watching birds. Lyra was just waiting for the day Reagan came home with an injured bird that he wanted to nurse back to health.
In the end, it wasn’t a bird. It was a kitten.
 “No,” Lyra declared firmly when she noticed Reagan holding the tiny ball of fur against his chest. The house was already crowded, and they had enough trouble feeding four people and a dragon without adding a cat to the equation.
“Please, Lyra?” Reagan pleaded, his eyes ridiculously wide and innocent, like a puppy’s. Little scoundrel. She knew he was playing on her feelings, but that didn’t make it any easier to say no. “I promise, I’ll take good care of her. She won’t make it on her own.”
They were not going to keep a cat. There was no way she would allow it. She was going to tell him to take the cat back to where he found it and –
“Fine,” she allowed resignedly. “As long as you understand she’s your responsibility.”
His face lit up with delight.
“Yes, of course,” he gushed happily. “Thank you so much!” He immediately bounced away, chatting and cooing over the damn cat.
They were going to keep a cat.
Reagan made good on his promise and diligently took care of the kitten, who he’d named Kiki, but it wasn’t long before Mireille made her own claim on the kitten. She never had any real interest in Ignis, but with Kiki she’d drop whatever she was busy with to play with her. The kitten, too, preferred spending time with Mireille rather than Reagan.
Reagan took the kitten’s betrayal with good grace. He was happy with the small snippets of attention she gave him, and he never complained when Mireille demanded the kitten’s attention, even when she did it while Reagan was busy with Kiki. Some days, Lyra wondered if the boy had a single jealous bone in his body.
Unfortunately, it made making friends at school difficult. Reagan wasn’t assertive enough to fight for the things he wanted, so when somebody else wanted something he was using, whether it be in class or on the playground, he normally gave it up without protest. The other children thought he was too timid, so most of the time he was left to play by himself.
It wasn’t really outright bullying, but it was a fact that Reagan was an outcast amongst his peers.
“You’re weird,” Lilianne Everhart told him one day when she noticed him sitting by himself on the swing-set. By the nearby jungle gym, two boys from his class were playing happily with his toys. “Why are you letting Marlin and Cletus walk all over you like that?” As Lilianne was Blaise’s niece, the two children regarded each other as cousins. There were a few too many years between them for the two to really be good friends, but they still occasionally sought each other out. Lilianne treated Reagan the same she treated her little brother, so it wasn’t unusual for her to help the younger boy when he was in trouble.
 “I don’t wanna fight with them,” Reagan mumbled, disheartened. “So it’s okay. I don’t really need my toys right now.”
Lilianne sighed, exasperated. “It’s your toys, Reagan. They shouldn’t play with your toys when you want to. It’s not fair.”
Reagan ducked his head, hiding his face.
“No really, it’s okay,” he insisted.
Lilianne let the issue go, but she told her mom who then went ahead and informed Blaise. Needless to say, Blaise wasn’t very happy.
“I hear you’re getting bullied,” he confronted the boy while helping him with his homework. “Why didn’t you tell us?”
“I’m not!” Reagan protested, but he refused to make eye contact with his godfather. “I mean, they’re a little mean, but it’s okay. I don’t mind.”
 “Well, you should,” Blaise immediately declared, his brows drawn into a frown. “It’s not okay.”
“Really, it’s fine,” Reagan instead stubbornly. “I mean, it’s not like they’re hurting me. They’re just taking my things, that’s all.”
“Things we paid good money for, Reagan,” Blaise scowled. They had enough trouble providing for the boy without his stuff getting stolen. “Who are they?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Reagan insisted again, scribbling an answer into his homework. “They always give my stuff back anyway.” He pointed to a math problem in his homework book. “Can you explain this sum to me? I don’t know what to do.”
 “Hey, don’t change the subject,” Blaise scolded him. “I want an answer.”
The boy shrugged uncomfortably, worrying his lip between his teeth as he contemplated the math problem.
“Marlin and Cletus,” he finally admitted. “Everybody else does too, but they’re the worst.”
Blaise ruffled Reagan’s hair, pleased the boy had taken him into confidence.
“Thanks kiddo,” he said gruffly and looked over into Reagan’s homework at the problem that was giving the boy so much trouble. “So, to solve this problem, you have to…”
Reagan didn’t know what Blaise did after he confessed to being bullied, but whatever it was, it made the two bullies confront him the next day at lunchtime.
“Why’d you snitch, huh?” Marlin Diffy demanded angrily, towering over the younger boy. “If you didn’t want us to use your stuff, you should ‘a said so.”
Reagan kept his eyes downcast and his attention on his food. This was exactly why he hadn’t wanted to say anything. He hated any form of fighting or confrontation.
 “I didn’t snitch,” he mumbled softly. “I just answered Blaise when he asked, that’s all. I didn’t mean to get anyone in trouble.”
Cletus Kahekili slammed his hands down on the table, jarring the cutlery.
“Well, you got us in trouble,” he declared crossly. “If you’d just shut up, nothing’d have happened. Why’d you have to be stupid enough to tell?”
Reagan hung his head and refused to answer, staring mulishly at the table. He wasn’t going to fight with them. He hated fighting.
“Hey, don’t ignore us,” Marlin demanded angrily. “Are you deaf? We’re talking to you.”
“Well clearly,” an unfamiliar girl spoke up behind him, “he knows better than to talk to dimwits.”
“Yeah,” another voice interjected, “who would wanna listen to you?”
As expected, the response made the boys change targets as they started yelling at the newcomers. Reagan shyly lifted his head, wondering who had come up for him, and why.
It was a pair of girls, clearly sisters, and Reagan felt his eyes widen at the sight. Everybody knew the Kahekili twins. They were one year below him, but they were charismatic girls who seemed to know everybody in school. Why would they stand up for him? He’d never even talked to them.
“You’re…Regis, aren’t you?” the short-haired twin asked curiously, after Marlin and Cletus had stalked away, chased off by the twin girls.
“Reagan,” he automatically corrected. “Reagan Iverson.”
 “Cool,” the same girl pronounced. “I’m Joelle.”
“And I’m Daniela!” the other twin declared. “Say, why are sitting here alone? Don’t you have friends?”
“Not really,” Reagan mumbled, a little embarrassed and overwhelmed by the attention the two girls were paying him.
“Well, you can be our friend then!” Joelle decided, and that was that. From that day onwards, the twins dragged Reagan all over the place with them. As an added bonus, Marlin and Cletus stopped picking on Reagan, too scared of the twin force that was Cletus’s sisters.
His newfound friendship with the twins finally gave Reagan a sense of confidence he’d been lacking with children his own age. He didn’t ask Lyra and Blaise for a lot of things, so when he asked them if he could host a sleepover, they instantly agreed.
The day of the sleepover, Reagan was a nervous wreck, afraid nobody would come. He’d invited the Kahekili twins, as well as the children from Lyra and Blaise’s extended families, his would-be cousins.
It turned out he was worried for nothing, as everybody he invited turned up. For the rest of the evening, the house was filled with joyous laughter and giggles as the pack of children played and ran around.
Eager to make the sleepover as successful as possible for Reagan, Lyra made sure there was a steady supply of hot chocolate…
…and when it was time for dinner, she made a large plate of spaghetti with fresh homegrown tomatoes. The children swarmed around the food, and Reagan had one of the biggest smiles Lyra had ever seen on him.
(Bonus shot: Alexa Marquel – Renard’s daughter, in case anybody is interested in seeing what she looks like)
It was a beautiful summers night, and there was no rain forecasted, so by unanimous agreement, the children decided to camp out beneath the stars. All in all, the sleepover was a massive success, and when the kids went home the next morning, they all went on about how awesome the sleepover was.
The sleepover had done wonders for Reagan’s confidence. While he had never been reluctant to go to school, he certainly never seemed to enjoy it either, but after the sleepover he eagerly ran to the school bus, happy to know his friends would be there.
Lyra looked at the darkening sky during her daily jogging session and idly watched the clouds gathering heavily above her, feeling a little melancholic. It was autumn again. Spring and summer had passed in what felt like an eyeblink, and once again the world was going to enter into the cold years.
Just where had the time gone?
So many things had happened since the last time it had been autumn. She’d met people, lost friends, fell in love, and became a mother. She’d experienced exultation and grief and everything in between. And everything, all she had experienced, happened because she had ignorantly chased her curiosity and followed a ghost she had no business following. Her entire childhood she had hated Charlotte, but now…now she couldn’t help but feel thankful to the ghost.
The life she had was definitely not the one she’d ever thought she’d have, but she loved every bit of it.
She had her family, both the one she’d grown up with and the one she’d created for herself. She wasn’t rich, but between her and Blaise, they still managed to afford everything important to them. She had people in her life she loved more than she had ever thought could be possible.
Age had crept up on her and Blaise, and they were very close to being classified as ‘middle-aged’, but she could honestly say she was happy. She couldn’t imagine her life getting any better.
With a content smile she ended her jogging session and turned back to her home, where her husband and children were waiting.
Reagan was laughing happily while he challenged Blaise at the video game, and Mireille was avidly watching the kitten, being all sweet and innocent instead of sulky hellion for a change. Lyra smiled at the image of domestic bliss before picking up her brushes and walking over to her easel. She couldn’t ask for a better way to spend the evening.
She should’ve known it wouldn’t last.
The call didn’t come as a surprise. Her mother’s health had steadily gotten worse, and although Lyra and her siblings had tried to spend as much time with their mother as possible, they had all known the end wouldn’t be far-off.
It still didn’t make the news any easier to bear.
She did her best to deal with the loss, but it was the little things that made her remember her mom and realise that all the special moments they used to spend together had now come to an end. It was her mom who had taught her how to make pancakes, and it was her mom who had given them the painting hanging above their dining table.
At least her mom had lived a full life, and she had gone peacefully and painlessly in her sleep. Lyra’s memories of her wouldn’t be coloured by the senseless violence that marred her memories of her dad.
With her mom’s death, the chest Chantia had brought along to Moonlight Falls from Sunset Valley fell into Lyra’s possession. It was filled to the brim with old photos and d├ęcor, and Lyra allowed herself to spend an entire afternoon caught up in nostalgia and sentimentality.
It was the items stored in the very bottom of the chest that completely threw her for a loop. Lyra gingerly lifted one of the pots out of the chest, wondering if the object in her hand was really what she thought it was. There was a little plaque attached to the bottom, and Lyra strained her eyes as she tried to read the engraving.
It took all her willpower to not immediately drop the pot once she made out the tiny words. She was literally holding her grandmother in her hands. And if the pot in her hands were her grandmother, that meant the other three pots in the chest were…
She gently placed the pot in her hand on the floor beside her and looked back into the chest, gingerly lifting out the other pots one by one.
Yep. Four pots of ashes. Her grandparents, aunt, and dad.
It filled her with conflicting emotions. A part of her was glad their remains hadn’t stayed behind in Sunset Valley, where no one would care about it, and yet…they had all been dead and buried for years. It felt too much like sacrilege. Their final resting places shouldn’t have been disturbed.
She suddenly realised she didn’t know what had become of Sionann and Adrian’s remains. There had never been a funeral or the like, and at the time she had been too overwhelmed by everything that had happened to wonder about it. She wondered if Blaise would know.
He tugged at his earring when she asked him, an old habit of his she knew he only did when he’s upset, but didn’t want to admit it.
“Alison and Leneo took care of it,” he admitted, staring broodingly off to the side. “Not sure about the details, but I believe they were sent back to their families. If you want to know more, you’ll have to ask Ealdwine, Sionann’s brother.” He gestured vaguely towards the eastern side of the town. “I believe he lives somewhere in the centre of town.”
Lyra crossed her arms, a little incredulous.
“Are you telling me,” Lyra demanded disbelievingly, “that Reagan has family living in Moonlight Falls and you never bothered to tell me?!”
Blaise immediately mirrored her, brow sinking low over his eyes.
“I don’t want him to meet that asshole,” he declared firmly. “Ealdwine is nothing like Sionann. He’s a mean-spirited, selfish bastard, and I won’t let him hurt Reagan. As his only living family, Reagan will want to get to know him, and Ealdwine won’t. Reagan has enough self-confidence issues already without a rejection like that.”
  “You’re really so sure this Ealdwine won’t want to meet him?” Lyra asked sceptically. “Does he even know his sister had a son?”
Blaise gave an affirmative grunt.
“He does,” he confirmed, still scowling. “And he’s already told me he doesn’t care to meet him. I won’t let Reagan get hurt.”
 “Fine,” Lyra agreed, partly satisfied with his answer. She knew him well enough to know he would never do something that would comprise Reagan or Mireille’s happiness, so she was willing to let the matter go. But that didn’t mean she would blindly follow Blaise’s opinion until she met the man herself.
She sought him out the next day, and it didn’t take her long to form the same opinion about him. Ealdwine was nothing like his sister. Sionann had been sweet and gentle and caring, but Ealdwine was rude and mean and, quite frankly, Lyra couldn’t see anything redeemable about the man. He had nothing good to say about his sister, and when he made a disparaging comment about Reagan, Lyra saw white.
 “If I ever see you near Reagan,” she hissed threateningly, “I will destroy you. Don’t ever go close to him, and don’t ever approach him. I don’t care if you’re family or not, because you’re a piece of shit who doesn’t deserve to meet him. Stay away from my family.”
She spun on her heel and stormed away, furious beyond believe. Reagan might not be of her blood, but he was hers now and she would be damned before she allowed someone to hurt him.
AN: Sorry for the toddler spam at the start, but Mireille’s so darn pretty, I can’t get enough of her. I love toddlers in-game. <3
Reagan’s sleepover party was probably the single most successful party I’ve ever had in the game. My parties are normally all over the place, but with this one everybody actually played together, and when it was time to sleep they automatically chose the same area. I’m so proud of them. XD
Marlin Diffy got designated the Town Brat in-game, which is why he’s a bully.
For those curious, Ealdwine really is Sionann’s brother. Sionann got their dad’s colouring, but her features are more their mom, while Ealdwine got their mom’s colouring, but more their dad’s features.
Also, this made me happy. I guess their feud really is over. :D

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Chapter 3.13 - Don't Need A Ring

*Warning: …Actually, there’s no warning this chapter. Lyra and Blaise actually behaved. XD But I'll plop down the bad language warning just for in case.*

Lyra hated being pregnant.
She was constantly hot and tired, and her back hurt from the extra strain. Bending over was an exercise in itself, and it didn’t help much that Reagan was at an age where he still occasionally wanted to be picked up. To make things worse, she often found herself waking up at unearthly hours, still tired, but unable to sleep further from the discomfort. She missed being able to sleep on her stomach.
She spent a lot of time simply painting, trying to push the constant discomfort to the back of her mind. The easel was one of the first indulgences she’d bought herself once they could afford to spend a little on luxuries. It was one of the only hobbies she’d kept from childhood, and one she had missed dearly those years she’d lived on the Island.
Reagan was playing contently beside her, speaking clumsily and making growling noises as he played with the dinosaur toy, and Lyra allowed herself to smile at the sound, once again realizing how much she loved the little boy.
There was the strangest sound, followed by Reagan’s delighted laughter, and Lyra immediately jerked her eyes to him, afraid he might be doing something dangerous, but he was still exactly the same, playing happily with his toy. She turned back to her painting, but she heard the sound again and this time she was quick enough to notice his toy disappearing in a cloud of smoke.
What was going on? It was clearly Reagan’s doing, as the toy suddenly appeared again in a flash of light, and once again he laughed delightedly.
 “Reagan? What are doing, sweetie?” Lyra gently asked him, completely baffled. He immediately smiled up to her, delighted that she was giving him attention.
“P’ayin!” he exclaimed happily and made the toy disappear and reappear again. “Toy go poof! The’ come ba’!” He toddled over to her and raised his arms, wordlessly demanding to be picked up. He was getting too heavy to really carry around, and they really needed to break him of that habit, but Lyra still gave in and picked him up, mindful of her oversized belly getting in the way.
 “So I see,” Lyra agreed indulgently. “But how are you doing it?”
He looked at her in confusion, looking like he didn’t understand the question.
“Jus’ do,” he replied innocently and blinked worriedly at her, like he was afraid she’d disapprove. “Want toy go poof, toy go poof.”
“Oh, really?” Lyra teased him and dropped the subject, giving him a bob on his nose. Immediately and predictably, he pouted at her, and he was so damn adorable, Lyra couldn’t help but laugh. She didn’t even need haywire hormones to feel like he was the most adorable thing she’d ever seen.
 “Did you know Reagan can make his toys disappear?” Lyra asked Blaise as breakfast, still worried about phenomena. It couldn’t be normal. Sure, it wasn’t like she really knew much about magical children, as Reagan so clearly was (how could he not be, with Sionann and Adrian as his parents?), but still. It was just a little too weird.
“Hmm,” Blaise grunted in agreement, completely unconcerned. “I’m not surprised.”
“You’re not?” Lyra asked baffled. It was normal then? As if he read her mind, Blaise looked at her and raised an eyebrow.
 “It’s completely normal, Lyra,” he assured her. “It’s something like a rite of passage. All mage children do that. It’s a safe way of playing with their magic and discovering what they can do with it. Nothing special about it.”
Lyra opened her mouth to reply, but her baby kicked for the very first time and her mind completely blanked out. Keeper, what a weird feeling.
There was a baby inside her. There was a baby inside her. To her, it had never been anything more than an inconvenience, something that had to be endured and get it over and done with, but with those first fluttering movements, it suddenly hit her like a brick. There was a tiny person inside her, and one day that tiny person would have a personality of its own and call her Mom. It was terrifying. For the first time, that idea was scarier than the thought of going through labour. For the first time, her pregnancy was real and not just something weird that was happening to her body.
She was going to become a mother. Her son or daughter was growing inside her. She just couldn’t wrap her mind around that.
 “You okay?” Blaise asked, his brows lowered concernedly. Lyra snapped out of her bemusement and turned back to the conversation.
“Ah, yes,” she reassured him. “The baby just kicked, that’s all. It’s just…a really weird feeling.”
His frown deepened at that piece of info, and he lowered his fork, staring at her with worry in his eyes.
“That reminds me,” he informed her, clearly changing the subject. “You mind getting a check-up? At the hospital. I just want to make sure nothing is wrong between your and the baby’s magic.”
The request immediately made Lyra pause. The baby’s magic?
Of course. She and Blaise were both magical. There was no way the baby wouldn’t be magical as well. How could she not have realised that earlier?
“Okay,” she agreed easily. The last thing she wanted was complications with the pregnancy. Seeing a doctor wouldn’t take that much time, and even though it was expensive, it was better to be safe than sorry.
Later on, when she walked out of the hospital after seeing the doctor, she felt like it had been a waste of money – money that could’ve been spent better, like getting a new toilet, one that didn’t constantly break and leak and leave puddles all over the floor. There was absolutely nothing wrong with either her or the baby, who she had found out was going to be a girl.
“Well?” Blaise asked her when she stepped into the house. He hadn’t been able to go to the appointment with her, as Reagan was a bit feverish and moody, and they had both decided it would be better if Blaise stayed home with the toddler.
 “Congratulations,” Lyra stated dryly, still a little put-off by the amount of money she’d had to pay for basically a gender check. “You’re going to be the father of a healthy, happy, disgustingly heavy, baby girl. We’re fine. I’m fine, the baby’s fine, we’re both fine. You can stop worrying.”
His expression softened, and he smiled at her, clearly relieved. It was one of his incredibly rare, genuine full-mouthed smiles, and Lyra felt her own mouth respond. Her baby kicked, rather insistently, and Lyra took Blaise’s hand and laid it on her belly. It would be the first time he’d be able to feel his daughter move.
Sure enough, she kicked again, and Blaise’s eyes widened with wonder. His smile widened, and Lyra felt her heart swell a little at the sight, and butterflies fluttered in her stomach that had nothing to do with the overly heavy foetus inside her. Keeper, she loved him. She really, really loved him.
“You’re lucky,” he murmured, hands still caressing her belly. “You’ve only recently come into your magic, so I thought…” He shook his head and pulled his hands away. ‘Never mind. You’re healthy. That’s all that matters.” He pulled her into his arms, holding tightly onto her, and Lyra closed her eyes, enjoying his arms around her. They were strong and warm and protective, and Lyra knew the warm feeling in her chest was happiness.
Lyra listened to the rain drum on the roof, feeling warm and content while she snuggled deeper into the covers, Blaise’s warmth a familiar comfort against her. The house was quiet and peaceful, and Lyra felt like she could stay in bed forever. She wasn’t entirely sure what woke her, but –
Oh. That was what woke her. Her water had broken, and the contractions were starting.
 “Blaise,” she poked him on the shoulder, trying to wake him up. He stirred and groaned, but there was no other response. “Blaise,” she tried again, and this time he opened his eyes, staring crossly at her.
“What is it?” he murmured, his voice gruff and husky with sleep.
“The baby’s coming.”
He jerked upright, all thoughts of sleep completely out of his mind.
“What?” he asked dumbly. “Now?
 “Yes, now,” she snapped irritably. “Go and get Reagan and let’s go.” There was a play-centre at the hospital where people could leave their children under supervision while they completed their business at the hospital, and Lyra and Blaise had previously decided they’d leave Reagan there when Lyra’s due date arrived. It was easier than getting a babysitter or leaving him with family.
The toddler was not happy at being woken so early, and by the time they were ready to leave, everybody was irritable. Lyra’s contractions were getting closer and more painful, and she was more than ready for the baby to get the hell out of her. The fact that she had to wait in the wind and rain for the taxi to arrive didn’t help either.
It was a relatively short labour, and three hours later, Mireille Marquel was brought into the world. Simultaneously, Lyra made a very important decision.
She would never, ever, ever go through that again. She didn’t care how much it would cost, but she was going to use a more permanent method of birth control from now on; one that wouldn’t be able to fail. If being pregnant had been hell, it was nothing compared to the actual labour itself.
Never. Again.
To top it all off, Mireille wasn’t an easy baby to care for. She cried a lot, for seemingly no reason, and while Reagan had started sleeping through the night pretty early on, waking them only once or twice, Mireille woke her parents at least four times. It was very trying, and for the first couple of weeks, the energy in the house was very frazzled as the household attempted to adjust.
Reagan, especially, was badly affected by the change in routine. He became moody and demanding, and all the effort they’d put in to break him of the picking-up habit seemed to go right out the door.
With Mireille’s birth came a string of congratulatory calls and well-wishes from friends and family. To be completely honest, it annoyed Lyra just a little bit. It wasn’t that big an achievement – all it had taken was for their birth control to fail, once. But she understood that others placed a ridiculously high value on things like that, so she endured the calls as much as she could.
But when her mom called for the fourth time, she admitted it might be better to invite the entire family over so they could get their fill of ‘newborn baby’ and stop pestering her.
 “It’s so good to see you,” her mom said happily as Lyra gave her a welcoming hug. “You haven’t been around to visit me lately.” Her tone was slightly accusing, and Lyra felt a little guilty. It had been a while since she last visited her mom. “Now, where’s your baby? I want to meet my newest grandchild.”
“Hello to you too, Mom,” Lyra replied dryly. “Would you like something to drink? Mireille isn’t going anywhere. You’ll have more than enough time to meet her later.”
Her mom placed her hands on her hips, clearly not impressed by the statement.
 “Lyra,” she began rebukingly, “there had been a time I believed I lost you, and now you have given me a grandchild. Surely, I deserve to meet the baby of my baby?”
Lyra sighed and rolled her eyes. Keeper, her mom could be stubborn.
“Later Mom,” she promised stubbornly and gestured at Blaise to come over so she could introduce him to her mom. They hadn’t been able to meet before. That customary scowl was on his face, but to her relief, he was civil and polite to her mom.
“Oh, don’t be so tense,” her mom rebuked him and greeted him with a firm handshake and a warm smile. “Welcome to the family.”
Soon afterwards, Renard and Arienne arrived as well. Like their mom, Arienne was very eager to meet Mireille, but Renard was more interested in meeting the man Lyra had chosen to live with.
“Don’t give him too much grief, okay?” Lyra warned her brother as she welcomed him in. “I don’t want drama today.”
“No promises,” Renard laughed warmly, but Lyra knew she didn’t have to worry too much. Renard was a joker and a prankster, but he knew where to draw the line.
 (Party spam!)

 “So, when are you due?” Lyra asked Arienne when she finally got chance to catch up with her sister without interruptions. Arienne had married the father of her unborn baby in a quiet, private ceremony, and last Lyra heard, they very happy with each other.
“Any day now,” Arienne assured her enthusiastically. “And to be honest, I can’t wait. I’m ready for the baby to be born now. We still know don’t the gender, but I’m hoping it’s a girl.”
(More party spam!)

 “Thank goodness that’s over,” Lyra sighed tiredly when it was just her and Blaise again. She loved her family, but they were tiring.

“You can say that again,” Blaise growled irritably. He was in a foul mood, but Lyra couldn’t figure out if it was because he had to spend so much time with her family, or because he was tired. He’d been the one to take care of Mireille whenever her crying woke them at night, so he’d been running on less sleep than she had. He was always more snappy and irritable when he was tired.
He leaned back and closed his eyes, and Lyra had her answer. He was tired. It relieved Lyra, a little, that he didn’t seem to mind meeting her family. She hadn’t even realised how much she wanted him to like her family until they met. Just when had his approval become so important to her?
“I like your brother,” he murmured tiredly, oblivious to her thoughts but still unintentionally answering them. It still amazed her that they could be so attuned to each other. “Seems like a decent guy. Not sure about your sister. And your mom wants me to make an honest woman out of you.” He shifted to a more comfortable position and looked at her to watch her reaction, and even though he was trying to hide it, she could clearly read the amusement on his face.
Lyra groaned and buried her face in her hands.
“Why does she always have to meddle?” she muttered impatiently. “I don’t care if I’m an honest woman of not. I’m happy living in sin with you for the rest of my life.”
“Are you sure?” he asked, and Lyra looked at him, surprised by the response. His eyes were held that same disinterested look as always, but there was something else in them that threw her for a loop. It was almost the same look she occasionally caught him giving the kids. “What if I want you to be an honest woman?”
Oh Keeper. Was he proposing to her? Was that what this was about? It couldn’t be. She knew he didn’t care if they were married or not.
The corners of his mouth twitched.
…the ass. He was teasing her!
She climbed onto his lap, pinning him to the couch. Two could play that game. His mouth pulled into that half-smirk, half-smile of his as he realised his play was discovered, and his hand went to rest on her waist.
 “In that case,” she declared challengingly, “make me one.” He growled at her in response, like she knew he was going to do, and she bent down to capture his lips with a smile.
There were no further talk of ‘honesty’ or anything it might imply that night.
But as the days went by and they fell back into a routine of domestic bliss, Lyra was surprised to find she really didn’t mind the idea of marrying him. She certainly didn’t need to, and it wasn’t expected of her, but…but it would be nice. She already knew she was going to spend the rest of her life with him. A ring would just…formalise it. Allow her to introduce him to the world as hers. She kind of liked that idea.
When, exactly, had she started associating marriage with happiness instead of misery? When had the idea of getting married become more a promise than a prison?
She didn’t know. But yes, she definitely wouldn’t mind marrying Blaise.
And yet, despite coming to that revelation, nothing happened further. She had no idea how to tell him she’d meant her answer that night, and he didn’t bring it up either. They simply continued living as they had been.
Before Lyra noticed, summer had arrived, and Reagan grew into a child, ready to start school.
  He was a very inquisitive and curious child, taking delight in even the smallest things. He was enthusiastic about helping out in the house, and he became a constant companion whenever Lyra worked in the garden. He loved talking, and he chattered away about everything and nothing, in a way that reminded Lyra far too much of his mother.
Lyra and Blaise had raised him with the knowledge that they were his godparents, not his biological parents, and he had finally reached the age where he wanted to know more about them. It didn’t bother him that he was an orphan, but he was definitely curious about them, constantly asking for stories and information about them.
Lyra told him everything she could, but even she knew her knowledge about Adrian and Sionann was limited. She’d only known them for a short time, while Blaise had known them well enough for them to trust the welfare of their child to him. It became a nightly ritual for the boy to request a story from Blaise, only to fall asleep half-way through the story.
Lyra loved watching the two of them. Blaise was an amazing dad. Reagan might not be theirs, and he didn’t call them Mom and Dad either, but they loved him like he was theirs. There was no question about it.
Blaise gave the sleeping boy a gentle pat on the back at the same time Lyra placed the sleeping Mireille back in her crib, and both retreated to the backyard together. It was a warm summer night, and the crickets and toads were noisy, forming a familiar ambience in the night. The tree branches around them creaked, and without a word, they both started to spar, the light from the almost-Full Moon surrounding them. With Mireille also needing their attention during the day, they had moved their daily practices to the evening, when both kids were in bed.
No matter how much time passed, or how many times they did it, Lyra still found sparring as exhilarating as ever. It was a familiar dance of offense and defence, of being pushed to her limits. Blaise was no longer that relentless taskmaster he’d been in the beginning; they were partners now, rather than student and teacher. When they sparred now, it was no longer so he could test her. Instead, it was because they both enjoyed the dance.
They’d sparred many times, but she had yet to win victory over him. She’d gotten better at reading him, and she’d landed quite a lot of hits on him, but never victory. He was simply too much of a master.
Midway through the spar, a spar she’d been leading in, he got in her space, pushing her off-balance, and the only thing she could think of was ‘Keeper, if it’s that damn wall again I’m gonna smack him.’ It was an old favourite move of his, and it irritated the hell out of her that she still couldn’t manage to get a read on the movement. Time after time, he’d pull it on her and she’d end up against the wall. Sure, she didn’t mind what followed, but it was the principle that mattered. Ending up against the wall meant she’d lost again, and that still heckled at her.
But he didn’t push her against the wall. Instead, he swept her feet out from underneath her, and before the fear of falling truly set in, he caught her in his arms, his hands warm and comforting against her back.
And then he kissed her.
It wasn’t a demanding one, or even a passionate one. It was a tender one; one that spoke more of love than passion. It caught her completely by surprise, and before she could really respond, it was over, and he helped her back onto her feet.
 “What was that about?” she laughed at him, nestling her fingers in his hair. He was smiling at her, that happy full-mouthed one that was so rare.
“Just thinking about how far we’ve come,” he confessed, and his eyes were soft. “Do you remember the first time we met?”
She rolled her eyes at the question.
“Oh, Keeper yes,” she agreed with a huff. “You were such an ass, and all I can remember thinking was how you didn’t even have the decency to tell me your name. I had to refer to you in my head as that ass the whole time.”
 “For a long time, you were only that idiot to me,” he came clean as well with a laugh. “And now, here we are.”
“Here we are,” Lyra echoed softly, caught up in the sentimentality.  
He leaned his forehead against hers, and for some time, there was only silence between them as they simply enjoyed the intimacy.
“Marry me.” He said those words in a soft murmur, and for a moment Lyra thought she’d heard wrong, but he was looking at her, waiting, and she knew she couldn’t have heard wrong.
 “I’m serious,” he insisted. “You make me happier than I’ve ever believed I could be. I know you don’t need a ring to stay with me, but I want to give you one anyway. I want you to look at that ring everyday and know that even if I don’t say it often, I really do love you.”
She couldn’t remember the last time she heard those precious words. He almost never said them, but it didn’t bother her. She didn’t need to hear those words – she knew him well enough to read it in all those tiny everyday moments; like the sprinkler he’d installed in her garden without being asked, and the way he insisted on taking care of Mireille so she could have a lie in in the morning.
She hadn’t anticipated the request. She hadn’t seen it coming at all, but she knew exactly what her answer would be.
 “I don’t need a ring for that,” she admitted with a happy smile. “I already know you love me. But if you want to give me a ring, there’s no bloody way I’m going to say no.”
His smile widened, and he pulled her into his arms, holding onto her like she was the most precious thing in the world.
“Thank you,” was all he said, and it was all that was needed to make the night absolutely perfect.
A/N: Just a little slice of life chapter. I played ahead in my game quite a bit, so I’m trying to catch up to where I am in game. Oh yeah, Mireille is pronounced Mee-ray, according to the internet. XD She’s the final child for this generation, and obviously, the heir. :)
Blaise and Lyra…yeah. They weren’t supposed to get married, as it doesn't really fit the way I've written their characters. But they both rolled wishes to specifically get married to each other, before Mireille got born, and in my experience, that’s incredibly rare when the sims don’t have Hopeless Romantic or Family-Orientated as traits. So, they’re getting married. I couldn’t deny them those wishes.
I’m actually quite surprised by them. They’re both hot-headed, but ever since they became romantic interests, they've never fought. Their interactions go from flirty to friendly back to flirty and then they do something else. They’re never mean to each other. But the moment they talk to anybody else (except Reagan - he’s immune as well), their mean sides come out again. It’s so much fun to follow. <3