Cold

I feel cold. It’s been three weeks.

Still no sign.

I’m not sleeping and everyone’s worried I’m going to lose the baby. I’m trying not to worry, but it’s getting to me.

The Sheriff won’t leave his room in the house unless it’s to go out looking for the Twins. He’s determined to find them, even though we haven’t had a single clue as to where they have gone. Even the FBI Agents can’t pick up a single trace.

I feel as though I’m watching a heart tear in two and my family disintegrate, while I can do nothing to stop what’s happening.

It sucks.

It makes me angry.

I am angry.

I’m so angry, that I managed to toss Miles up into the rafters with just a flick of my hand.

It helped that he was wearing a full suit of armor.

“Damn it, Marlowe! Get me down from here!”

I looked up at him and floated him down, but not before the kids got a good laugh out of the situation. Logan crawled in to my lap as soon as I sat down and put his ear on my bump. His latest obsession was to lay his head on my growing belly.

“What is it, poppet?” I asked while running my hand over his hair as he looked up at me.

“Baby sick. Mommy sick. Not happy,” he said as he reached up and touched my face. “Bad. Very bad.”

I studied him and then kissed his forehead. He smiled up at me, it was a little sad.

“Don’t worry, poppet. We’ll find a way out of this soon.”

He shook his head and slipped out of my lap.

“Bad. Very bad.”

I watched him walk to his bother and start playing with the Lincoln logs that Ben had brought home the week before. I watched them with a small smile until Sabine came over.

“He’s right you know,” she said through our link.

“I know,” I replied. “I just don’t know how to fix it.”

“It’s not up to you to fix. You did your part,”  she said.

I looked down at her and met her languid eyes.

“It’s my family. My herd. I will fix it if I can,” I said.

Sabine snorted, but said nothing. I was going to say something to her when Jude strolled into the room.

“Hi Mama,” I said as she dropped a kiss on to my forehead.

“You’re out of bed. Why?” she asked.

“Couldn’t sleep.”

“You need to try. For you and the baby,” she said sternly.

I ducked my head.

“No, you don’t get to go sheepish, it doesn’t suit you.”

That made me laugh and she smiled with me.

“You do need to get some more rest. There’s nothing that you can do to help right now,” Jude said, her voice taking on a scolding tone.

I sighed. “I know, I just need to do something instead of lay in bed all day.”

Jude sat next to me and looked up at the rafters. Her brow furrowed and she started chewing on her bottom lip. While she was thinking about things, I played catch with Logan.

“Lunch,” she suddenly said. “You can help me make lunch for everyone. Then you’ll go lie back down.”

I sighed and smiled up at her, grateful that she wasn’t sending me back to bed right away.

“I can do that. Help me up.” I said as I wiggled to the front edge of the couch. Jude smiled and helped me up and followed me to the kitchen. I was happy just to be included in anything and I think it showed. I was heading for the fridge when Murphy came through the backdoor. I let out a huge groan when I saw her.

“Don’t give me that tone, Young Lady. Jude called me. I’m sending you back to bed,” she said as she took off her coat and shook it out. The snow was still falling outside. I mentally cursed the Ides of March for being so fickle.

“Took you long enough, I was afraid I was actually going to have to give her something to do,” Jude said as she led me out of the kitchen with Murphy following close behind. I sighed deeply and let myself be led upstairs.

“You work all together too much. You were just at the office yesterday to do the books and play with the puppies,” Murphy said. She gave me a little push toward my bedroom and then followed me in when I walked inside.

The two of them together hustled me towards the bed and pushed clothes at me. I looked down and sighed again as I changed. I felt like crying, being pushed around and made to go back to bed. They must have seen my face because they looked at each other and then back at me when I took the potion out of Murphy’s hand and drank it before she could stop me.

I turned my back on both of them as I got into bed and curled under the covers. They left quietly, hissing at each other. I didn’t hear much of anything that they said, I was too busy holding back the feelings of uselessness and depression that had been plaguing me since the fight in the house. I cried myself to sleep. I woke a little when Ben came to bed, but I turned my back on him as well when he tried to kiss me goodnight. I curled tighter and hugged a pillow to my chest, falling back asleep again.

They must have been really worried about me because I stayed in bed for five days. I hardly left. I ate in bed, stayed put, I hardly picked up the books they brought me. On day six I must have worried them so much that they came to get me out of bed. They left just as quickly when I sent the swords over the fireplace sailing their direction. I was so entrenched in my own sorrow and misery that I let more days pass me by while I stayed in bed like I was supposed to do.

I scared the shit out of them and myself with the length of my depression. Not even Ben’s promise of getting out of the house made a difference. I just wanted to go back home and crawl back into bed. That’s all I was sure I was good for.

We came back inside, I barely spared a glance for Sabine and the children as they ran to the door. It made my heart ache inside to ignore them, but I figured it was best. I heard Alphie start crying and Logan shushing him as I headed up the stairs, dropping my coat and gloves in a pile on the stairs. In the hall I just stepped out of my boots and left them in the middle of the hallway.

I crawled back in to bed, the lump in my throat falling into my chest as I cried myself to sleep again and slept for three more days. Sometime in April Murphy finally figured out what was going on with me and came storming in to the room with Jude.

“Grab her. We need to force this down her throat if we’re going to save her,” Murphy said as she pulled the cork on the dark-colored bottle she held in her hand.

The smell of Lilacs and fresh spring grass hit my nose and made me gag. I tried to fight Jude off, but I was too weak from spending all that time in bed and using my abilities to do things for me. Jude gasped as I looked up at her.

“Her eyes have no color!” she exclaimed.

Murphy’s frown deepened. “Let’s hope we got to her in time then. Hold her head back and open her mouth.”

Jude obeyed her instructions and I tried to push the bottle away, the fresh spring smell made me recoil in horror and I wanted to part of whatever was in that flask. Murphy pushed aside my hands like they were nothing and forced the potion down my throat. I gagged, but swallowed it when it was clear that I had to do that or drown. They were firm with getting it down my throat.

When I had swallowed it all and started crying in to Jude’s chest, with Murphy petting my hair after setting the bottle aside, the worry lines on her face deepened.

“Did we get it in her in time?” she whispered.

“We won’t know until morning. Till then we have to watch. To make sure she doesn’t turn. I will not have one of them in my family,” Murphy said, her voice turning to iron at the end. I cried myself to sleep, clutching the woman I  called mother.

I woke the next morning and moaned. My head was killing me. I sat up and looked around, spotting Jude sprawled out on the bed next to me and Murphy parked in a chair next to the bed. I tried to ease my way out of bed for the toilet, but I managed to wake them up. Murphy stirred first, coming out of her sleep slowly, but when she did; the first thing she looked at was my eyes. She must have liked what she saw there because she nodded and helped me up. Jude woke up as we were walking to the bathroom.

“Murphy?” she said, letting the question hang in the air.

“She’s fine. We don’t have to worry anymore,” she replied.

Jude let out a huge sigh and moved off the bed, heading for the door. I was a little confused at first, but Murphy helped me to the bathroom and watched over me as I sat and relieved myself. I nearly fell asleep while sitting there, but she nudged me awake and helped me up after I’d dried myself off.

“What happened?” I asked softly as I washed my hands.

“Nothing you have to worry about,” Murphy said.

I got angry and sent the metal stand for the toilet paper across the room. Murphy looked from me to where the stand was embedded in the wall and sighed.

“You were under a particularly nasty spell. Whomever left it in that house, left it for you. They placed all the effects of postpartum depression times three on you,” Murphy said. Her words sunk in and I looked up at her in horror. “Yes, you would have lost the baby if we hadn’t held you down and made you drink the potion.”

“Who, why?” I said, stuttering out the words.

“We still don’t know, but you’re not going anywhere outside if this house without someone with you at all times. They’re playing nasty now and I’m not having it,” Murphy said as she led me back to bed. “They’ve messed with the wrong witches family.”

I sighed and floated my phone over to me. I scrolled through the numbers until I’d gotten to the one I wanted. Hitting call and then the speaker phone icon, I waited for the person on the end of the line to answer.

“Hello?” The person answered.

“Crows and brier thorns.”

“I’ll be there in the morning, Marlowe. Tell Ben I said hello.”

“Will do. Looking forward to your visit,” I replied and hung up the phone.

Murphy looked at me with a raised eyebrow.

“The head of the North American covens. All of the covens.”

She let out a whistle. “I didn’t know you had that kind of firepower in your pocket.”

“Not my pocket. Ben’s. He gave me the number with explicit instructions not to call unless my life was in danger again,” I said as I climbed in to bed and flopped back against the pillows. “I assume you didn’t tell Ben this was a spell?”

“No, we thought it best not to say anything since he’s been worried sick about you and the search isn’t going well. They’ve called it off completely. The Sheriff resigned. We’re without a protector now.”

I lifted the arm I’d thrown across my eyes and looked at her. Her face was drawn with worry and the lines on her face looked deeper.

“Then it’s a good thing I’m calling him in,” I said as I wiggled into bed and yawned hard. “How long till the effects wear off?”

“Few days, give or take,” She said as she pulled the covers up and straightened them over me. “What’s his name?”

“Alvin MacDoogan. He’s the opposite of Ben. You’ll see when he gets here,” I said with a yawn.

Murphy nodded and kissed my forehead before dropping back into her chair.

“Sleep child.”

“Plan on doing that,” I said as I dropped off again. I could hear Murphy chuckling before the darkness overtook me completely.

 

-Marlowe

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No Sign

Day five.

Still no sign of the Twins.

Not. One. Word.

I’m terrified.

I imagine my babies out there in the cold, with someone they desperately want to get away from and I start crying. I want my family back and I want it whole again.

The Sheriff has been a walking ghost in the house when he’s here. He can’t go home. I’m honestly starting to suspect he may never go back to that house again if the Twins do not make it home. That’s not a thought that I like to think about.

The boys know something’s up, they just haven’t figured out how to put it into words. Alphie wanders around like a ghost behind the Sheriff, watching him carefully. When I pointed it out to Ben, he nodded and kissed my forehead.

“Don’t worry, He’s watching out for him in his own way.”

I tried to get him to explain, but I figure it’s a dragon thing.

The full moon this month was hard on all of us, this time around. No one wanted to be trapped inside, even for the night. It was a hard, restless night where I actually considered spending it upstairs. There were a few moments that, for the first time, made me re-think the “Dragons are cute!” feeling I’ve had ever since I met Ben and learned what he was.

Yeah, three fire-breathing, upset dragons will do that to a person.

They were just as upset the next morning. Sabine and I didn’t know what to do for them, so I started baking again.

I filled the kitchen with so much pie and bread that I had to call Grandmama Murphy to take it all away. She showed up just as I was pulling the latest cherry pie out of the oven.

“Give that here before you go dropping out of frustration,” she demanded and took the pie out of my hands when I teared up. “None of that now, you’ll work yourself into a tizzy.”

I sniffled, but nodded. Sabine huffed softly at me and flicked her tail. I could see her ears twitch back and forth with worry.

“I’m sorry, Sabine,” I said as I scratched her ears. She huffed at me again.

“Now, there’s a sight I didn’t think I’d see in my lifetime,” she said.

Sabine dipped her head to Grandmama Murphy, then trotted out of the room.

“Well! I hope it wasn’t something I said!”

I smiled. “No, she’s going to go check on the boys now that you’re here.”

“I like that, another babysitter for you. Why aren’t you lying down?”

I shook my head. “Too wound up. I can’t sleep.”

“Looks like you baked enough for an army. Do you have any flour left?” she demanded.

“No. I’m out. That pie was the last of everything,” I said as I sat down on a stool.

I rubbed my back as I watched her make room for the pie on one of the counters.

“I’ll take all of this off your hands for the restaurant. You’ll be paid, of course.”

“That’s not why I called you,” I said.

“I know, you called me because you’re feeling poorly and need support.”

I nodded.

“Well I’m here, but where is that man of yours?”

“Out with the search parties. They’re using a blue hills devil dog.”

Grandmama Murphy sucked in a breath.

“Oh my,” she said as she let it out. “No wonder they want Ben there.”

“Yeah. I can’t really blame him for being outside of this house. With the black magic Sabine and I dragged home, no one’s getting much sleep.”

She eyed me over. “You’re not sleeping at all, are you?”

I shook my head. “I’m too worried about the Twins. I want them home just as much as Eric does.”

Grandmama Murphy put her hands on her hips and stared me down.

“Now you listen here young lady. You calling me was the first smart thing you’ve done since the Twins went missing,” she said. “I’m going to take these pies to the restaurant, then I’m coming back here with one of Annabeth’s potions. You are going to drink it and then you’re going to bed.”

I wanted to protest, I really did. As I sat there and watched her load up the deserts that I had baked into her car, I realized on my own that I was being a twit. I let out a huge sigh and she smiled at me.

“There it is. I knew you’d come to your senses without my help.”

I smiled up at her. “I’m going to go take a shower.”

“Good for you. You’ll feel better. I’ll be back in an hour,” Grandmama Murphy said as she walked out the door.

I stared at the door for a minute before shaking my head and getting up from the stool I’d been sitting on. As I made my way upstairs,  I could feel the press of the magic that Sabine and I had brought home. It felt oily and thick while it pressed in on me, making me feel sick. Even the house was agitated and our combined magics didn’t help. Even the house was agitated.

I showered and dressed in night-clothes. I was just crawling in to bed when Grandmama Murphy opened the door to the bedroom and stepped inside.

“Good. I’m glad to see that you’ve sense left in that head.”

I sighed. “Yes Grandmama. I’m doing as instructed.”

“Don’t you take that tone with me. You’ve plenty of family willing to look after the Twins, but you insist on doing it yourself,” she said as she thrust the bottle she was holding into my hands. “You can’t. Not this time. This is too big. Now drink that.”

I studied the purple bottle, turning it in my hands while I watched the potion and its magic dance inside.

“You have to drink it for it to work, Poppet.”

“I know, ” I said as I uncorked the bottle and drank it down. I felt a little woozy and Grandmama Murphy caught my head as I fell over.

“There’s a good girl. You sleep that off. I’ll be here watching the boys.”

“Good night Grandmama. I love you,” I said with a yawn as I slid into darkness.

I never did hear her response.

 

-Marlowe

Valentine’s Day, Part 2

The next five minutes were agonizing as I hovered over the Sheriff, who was still lying on the floor. He babbled out what happened when he came around for a couple of minutes, but passed back out again. When the ambulance got there and I was pushed out-of-the-way, pacing the hallway was my next best option. I checked my phone every five minutes while waiting for Ben to come through the door. He came in just as they were taking the Sheriff away.

“I got here as fast as I could, what happened?” he asked as he came running through the door.

I launched myself into his arms and burst into tears. I was terrified not only for The Twins, but what would happen to The Sheriff if they were killed. Ben held me close, rubbing my back while he hummed. My chest was heaving by the time I calmed down enough to tell him what was wrong.

“Eric went home on his shift,” I said, breathing deeply and wiping away my tears. “He found the door wide open and the Twins were gone.”

“That’s not all that was there,” said Captain Miller as he came in to the Hall. “There were scorch marks everywhere, along with broken furniture, smashed doors and blood.”

I groaned and dropped my head to Ben’s chest.

“Please tell me it wasn’t the Twins..” I whispered. New tears were already falling.

“We can’t be sure,” he replied.

Ben’s grip on my back tightened. “Do you have anything, yet?”

Captain Miller shook his head.

“I sent Jones over with the crime scene unit, but there’s some kind of nasty mojo over the whole place. It’s taking down techs as fast as they go in to do their job,” he said. “Someone who’s immune to that shit needs to go in, but we don’t have anyone like that.”

“What about the priestess?” I asked.

“Went up to Grizzly Peak to help with a spot of trouble up there. She won’t be back until tomorrow and she might be too tired to help.”

I sighed and looked up at Ben.

“Sabine and I could go,” I said carefully.

Ben looked down at me, a little surprised I said anything to him first about going. I could tell he was thinking it over though.

“I don’t want to risk you or the baby,” he said to me, just as carefully. We both knew that something in our relationship had just changed. “but if you promise to listen to both myself and Sabine, back out when I feel there’s too much pressure on you, I can be okay with that.”

I nodded and looked over at the Captain. “We’ll follow you over with the truck and trailer.”

“Trailer?” he asked, looking a little bewildered. Then Sabine came around the corner and his jaw dropped. “Well I’ll be. I never thought I’d see one in person.”

“This is Sabine. We’re linked.”

That had the Sheriff looking at me sharply.

“You’ll need a key to the great library and you’ll need it fast if you’re linked. You need to read the Chronicles about unicorns,” he said.

There was a firm tone to his voice that didn’t make me put my back up, but rather made me incredibly wary about the link between myself and Sabine. I nodded at him.

“Okay, but first can we go find the Twins?” I asked.

He nodded to me and Ben left to get the truck and trailer together while I explained things to Sabine. She thought it was a fine idea to go over there and see if we could cut through the miasma surrounding the place.

“I would step lightly when we go, Marlowe. Anyone who does that kind of magic is not to be trusted. There could be any number of things waiting.”

“I know, but it’s herd and home.”

Sabine nodded. “I will make sure nothing happened to the baby. You may tell your mate.”

I thanked her while I got dressed in my outdoor gear, pulling on my boots. By the time Ben got back, I was dressed and Sabine was waiting with me at the door. While we helped her into the trailer, I told Ben what she said.

“That makes me feel better, actually.”

“Well that’s good.”

“I still don’t like this, but it’s the Twins. I know why you’d want to go.”

“Dragon day is tomorrow. You’ll need to be at home. We need to do this tonight,” I said firmly.

Ben nodded. “You promise to listen to me? Pull back when I feel you’re getting too deep?”

“I promise,” I said and hugged him. “I want them home. I want the family whole.”

“I know. We’ll find them if we can,” Ben said and opened my door to help me inside the truck.

He got in after making sure I was inside and we headed towards the Sheriff’s house. There was no talking between us, nothing more needed to be said until we got there. Pulling up to the house, I could see the scorch marks on the door frame as the light faded with the sunset.

My heart started beating faster and I reached over to grab Ben’s hand, calming down. He looked at me and nodded. I tried to smile, but I’m sure it was more like a grimace. My heart was starting to fill with icy dread that was as cold as the zero degree temperatures outside the car.

Sabine until now had been silent. As soon as we stopped she spoke,

“She was here.”

I jumped and gave a little yelp. Ben’s forehead wrinkled with worry.

“The woman who killed your herd?”

“Yes.”

I didn’t know what to say. My eyes filled with tears as her sadness joined my fear and filled me. At that point, I was worried that I’d never feel warm again if something happened to the Twins and we could not bring them home. I got out of the truck without waiting for Ben to help. I know it annoyed him, but I needed to do it myself to prove I wasn’t helpless.

As Ben and I unloaded Sabine, there was quite a crowed.

“Now, we do work to ruin her day,” Sabine said.

I smiled. “What do I do?”

Sabine explained that we were going to try to purify the area together by just walking through the scene. She said that between the two of us, there would be more than enough magic to cleanse the area.

“But, how?” I asked.

“The magic wants to help. It’s just waiting for direction. So we tell it what to do,” she said as we walked to the house together. “Do not run. Stand your ground. If you run, it might kill you out of spite.”

I nodded, looking back at Ben. He smiled, but I knew it was fake. I knew he was worried and would probably pace the side-walk. I wiggled the walkie-talkie at him that he handed me before we started up to the house and then blew him a kiss.

I turned to Sabine and nodded. She nodded back and led the way into the house. I was glad there was only one step up to The Sheriff’s house, we got inside pretty easily. Once inside, I felt the crush of magic as it swarmed us. Black mixing with light, my head swam.

“Don’t faint, Marlowe. It is strong, but we are stronger,” I heard Sabine say through the gray that clouded my vision.

“I’m not going to faint,” I said as I squeezed my eyes shut.

I could feel tears leaking out as it pressed down and I pushed back. I was so angry that it was trying to make me faint that pushed back harder than I intended and felt it snap like the draw string of a bow that’s been loosed. The blow back hit me in the chest and face hard. I could feel my nose bleeding. I could feel the hate from the black side, drowning

“You push too hard, Marlowe. We should leave.”

“I thought you said not to run?”

I heard Sabine sigh and I nearly smiled.

“They’re hitting you hard because She left the magic for you. We have to leave.”

One more hit from the magic had me rethinking my will to stay. My lip was split, I could feel it swell and pull when I moved my mouth to breathe. I nodded at her.

“Lets go,” I said. I could feel the lip pull hard as I mouthed the words.

We stepped outside the house and the pressure stopped. I almost wept with relief. Ben rushed up and checked me over before saying anything. Then he kissed me.

“Don’t do that again,” he said quietly. “You’re not supposed to go where I can’t follow, remember? We made a deal.”

“It only took her twice to get me to leave. I left. As promised,” I said as I dropped my head to his chest. “Lets go get me checked out at the hospital and I’ll tell you what happened.”

Ben hugged me close. “You’ve gotta stop being so hard-headed. It’s going to get you killed and We’ve got a family.”

“That’s why I left when I did,” I murmured.

“I’ll leave off, but we need to have a talk later.”

“Later,” I agreed. “Doctor first.”

“You did well, Marlowe. Even if you are a little stubborn,” Sabine said. I could hear the humor that covered the grimness of what just happened.

“Some of that crap is going to follow us, isn’t it?”

“Oh, Most definitely.”

“Great. Wonderful.”

“I hear the, what’s that word you humans use? Sarcasm? I hear it in your voice.”

“That’s because I meant for it to be there,” I replied.

Sabine snorted, but said nothing. She trotted over to the trailer and waited to be helped inside.

Ben led me to the truck and helped me inside after we put Sabine in the trailer.

“I want ice cream. A big tub of it,” I said when Ben got into the car.

He turned and stared at me.

“What? It’s for the baby and my lip.”

Shaking his head, he started the car.

“You might be the death of me.”

“Buddy, I’m your salvation. You just haven’t figured it out yet.”

He surprised me by laughing.

“I’m not entirely sure of that.”

The truth is, I think we’re going to be the death of each other if this keeps up.

-Marlowe

Valentine’s Day

With Jude back in the house as of yesterday morning, Ben and I figured that we could finally relax. We were so very wrong. This is how our Valentine’s day went and believe me, it’s a doozy of a day.

I woke up to the sounds of my beloved Fiance telling our son Logan to stop sniffing the dog’s butt. Logan thought this was hilarious and came running in to the bedroom with Alphonse, laughing hysterically and babbling. All in all, it was a bad way to wake up, just unusual.

Alphie stayed by my side today, he was practically stuck there. I spent the day trying to maneuver around him and when I was finally close to losing my temper, scooped him up and hauled him upstairs with me for a nap. Not even Sabina was helpful when it came to figuring out why he was acting that way. I gave up trying to figure it out while Ben was at work.

Having Jude back in the house is a godsend. She’s thrilled about the baby and insists on helping me plan the wedding. I even caught her upstairs in the nursery today moving furniture around and singing to herself. I can’t even get mad at her about it because everything she was moving is stuff I have wanted to move for weeks.

“A little more to the left with that photo, please.”

Jude jumped and turned around. “Don’t scare me like that!”

I laughed. “Sorry, Mom.”

Jude smiled at me and started to tear up. “Oh honey, I’m so happy you’ve started calling me that.”

I walked in to the room and hugged her hard. “I’m happy I can say that and not feel awkward about it.”

“Well, there’s no awkward between us dear,” she said as she patted my hand.

“No, no there isn’t,” I said. “if you insist on moving things though, I’m going to show you were I’d like them. Ben won’t let me move anything anymore.”

Jude laughed at the frustrated look on my face and I stuck my tongue out at her.

“It’s first time Dad, honey. If you have another child, he’ll be past most of this. Just let it ride out, but not too much. You’ve still got to maintain your independence.”

I nodded at her and we went about re-arranging the baby’s room.

“I’d like this room in yellow, please,” I said to the house as we left later.

“I can never get over how the house listens so well to you,” Jude said.

“I respect the house. The house respects me. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ makes life a hell of a lot easier and I am all for that,” I said as I hooked my arm through hers and we walked back downstairs.

“I can get behind that, actually.”

We hit the bottom of the stairs just as Logan streaked by naked, followed by Miles who was chasing him while wearing just a pair of pants and shouting at him.

“Damn it, Logan! Put these back on! I don’t care if dragon day is tomorrow!”

I started laughing and had to sit down on the stairs. Jude joined me and we sat there, propping each other up when Sabina came in to the hall.

“Why does Miles insist the child wear clothes?” she asked.

“Well, we don’t have the kind of hair you do, so he’ll get really cold soon. Probably get sick too,” I replied through the link.

“Oh, but why are you laughing?”

“Because it was a funny situation. A little absurd.”

The unicorn shook her head and stared at me. “Makes no sense, the way you humans wear clothing, but if he must then why doesn’t he wear them?”

“Because dragon day is tomorrow and he’s excited. He misses his other form.”

“He’s a changling?” her voice sounded a little alarmed.

“No, no. He’s a were-dragon. He changes in to a dragon for one night during the full moon.”

“Why?”

“We don’t know why. He just always has. Ben and Alphonse, too.”

“Strange,” she said.

“Yes, very strange.”

Jude was looking between both of us as we talked through the connection and finally spoke.

“Okay, watching the two of you stare at each other is creepy, even if I do know you’re having a conversation through that connection of yours.”

I laughed and Sabina nickered.

“Sabina was saying it was strange how Ben and the boys change once a month and Logan’s behavior.”

“Well, for a unicorn she’s got a sound head. It is strange, but we live with it anyway.”

“Welcome to Blueville, where everyone is strange and it doesn’t matter- hey can I have that cupcake?”

That set both Sabine and Jude off with the laughing and nickering. I grinned at both of them. Alphonse came out into the hallway and crawled in to my lap, tucking his head under my chin. I covered his face in kisses until he started giggling too. Miles came in to the hallway with a wiggling Logan, who was hanging upside down over Miles’s shoulder.

“Caught the runaway, eh?”

“and with a little bit of luck, got him back in to his pants. Why’d you have to adopt a kid that hates clothes?” He complained.

I laughed. “You hated clothes too at his age, if I recall correctly.”

Miles thought about it for a second and shrugged.

“You have a point.”

I snickered and cuddled Alphie close. Logan spotted Jude and held out his arms. “Grandma!”

Jude laughed and took him from Miles. He settled in to her lap.

“Wanna tell me why you’re half-naked too?” I asked.

“Logan spilled his milk on my shirt. I stuffed it into the washer with his shirt and pants that caught the rest of it when the little Houdini escaped the laundry room and took off down the hall,” Miles said as he stared up the stairs to his room. “I’m going to change for my date with Denver.”

I nodded and waved my hand at him. “Have fun, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Miles leaned over the banister. “Then I wouldn’t have any fun, but would still manage to end up in jail.”

“Miles that was fifteen years ago and three thousand miles away,”

“You still ended up in jail that day.”

“Go away, Miles.”

He laughed and continued up the stairs. Jude was looking at me as I turned back to her to finish the conversation.

“Spring Break, 2001.”

“I didn’t say anything,” she said.

“No, but I still feel damn guilty anyway,” I said as I ducked my head and looked down at Alphie. He’d fallen asleep in my arms.

“I think it might be time for bed for him,” Jude said.

“Do either of you know if he had dinner?” I asked.

“No, but it doesn’t matter. He’s asleep, let him sleep.”

I couldn’t argue with that wisdom, so I hauled him upstairs. I knew Jude wouldn’t rat me out to Ben if I carried him. I looked over my shoulder and she was right behind me with Logan, who’d finally worn out his energy for the day and had fallen asleep in her arms. We got them upstairs and in to the bedroom they shared. There were more than enough rooms in the house for them to have their own, but they insisted on being together.

“Some day, they won’t want to be in the same room,” I said softly as we walked out and I closed the door behind us.

“You’ll be ready for that day. It’s not like it’ll come any time soon.”

“I know, but they’re my babies.”

Jude laughed. “I know that feeling all too well.”

I smiled over at her and was about to say something else when I heard the pounding on the door downstairs. I felt a wave of dread wash over me and curl around my throat.

“Trouble,” I said as I took off running. The feelings got stronger as I got to the hall.

Sabina was still at the bottom of the stairs and was prancing in place.

“Hurry! There’s trouble!” She practically screamed in to my head.

I got to the door just as the Sheriff opened the door and ran in. His eyes were wild and he was out of breath.

“The Twins are missing,” he said and then collapsed.

I couldn’t catch him in time, so he hit the floor with a loud thud. I flinched and bent down to turn him over.

“Jude call 911. Tell them he’s here and what happened. Tell them to send Lieutenant Jones and Captain Miller.”

Jude nodded and ran for the phone. I pulled out my cell phone from my pocket, it never leaves my side these days, and called Ben.

“Hello?” he answered.

“Eric is here. The Twins were kidnapped. Come home.”

“I’m on my way.”

There called ended and I tucked my phone back in to my pocket. I looked up at Jude who came back in to the room with the phone attached to her ear. She was telling the operator on the other end exactly what I told her to say.

“What is wrong, Marlowe?” Sabine asked.

“My nice and nephew are missing,” I said, thinking fast of a way to describe what the Twins were to me. “They’re the same age as Alphie.”

I looked up at Sabine then and spotted the flash of anger in her eyes.

“They hurt the herd?” she asked.

“Yes. Someone hurt the herd.”

“Then they just became my enemy too,” she said quietly as she looked down at the Sheriff.

At that moment, I never wanted to be on her bad side and I prayed that the police found the bastard who took the Twins before she did.

-Marlowe

It was just my imagination

I’ve been kind of hoping what I saw a couple of days ago was just my imagination, but no. The unicorn was real and white with a silver-yellow mane that fell like a waterfall to its feet. It was also the side of a pony and one hasn’t been seen in these parts since the town was founded.

Maybe I should rewind a bit before I dive in to the town’s history.

First of all, I was taking my first walk with Ben since my fall. He finally relented when the doctor told us that too much bed rest for me was a bad idea. He wanted me to get at least ten minutes a day of walking, especially outside.

Anyway, since we were walking down the sidewalk of our street near Mr Wilson’s house, If you recall it turned in to the giant tree house last month, when it came out of the woods and stared at us. Ben stopped dead in his tracks and stared. The man’s face was reverent.

My face on the other hand, was filled with sadness. I’d read about them in the books Ben got permission to take out of the library. They’re very herd solitary around these parts of the mountains. To see one alone means that its entire herd was destroyed. This one seemed almost defeated. I was moving forward to comfort it when Ben stopped me.

“Don’t. You don’t know if it’s sick.”

“It’s not sick, it’s sad. It’s herd is gone,” I whispered back at him.

“You’ve been in the library again.”

“You worry me into guilt if I set a foot outside of the house, what else am I supposed to do?” I hissed at him. I was watching the unicorn come closer to the both of us.

Ben sighed. “You’re pregnant.”

“I’m not fragile, Ben. I’m hearty. So is the baby. The doctor said so,” I said. I didn’t bother looking back at Ben. My eyes were locked on the Unicorn.

“Even so, you shouldn’t be going towards the herdless and possible dangerous animal,” Ben hissed back as he held on to my arm.

I admit, he had a point.

“Maybe you’re right,” I said. “but as of right now, I’m not moving towards it. It’s coming to me.”

Ben looked over at the unicorn that was now just out of reach. I stared in to one of its bright violet-blue eyes and felt an odd rush of wind going through my head. I swooned a bit, but managed to stay on my feet.

“Earth-Mother,” said the distinctly female voice in my head.

My eyes widened and I huffed out a breath.

“Well, shit.”

Ben looked at me, then back at the unicorn.

“Hello there,” I said. I was having trouble finding the words when the tumbled from my mouth; “How can I help you?”

The unicorn bowed its head to me. I could have sworn the sadness lifted from her eyes for a brief second.

“Earth-mother who does not know the bond, asks the question out of instinct,” she said and tilted her head to the side. “I think I like you already.”

I couldn’t help but smile at her.

“I think I like you back,” I replied. “Do you need shelter? Food? A temporary herd?”

The unicorn dipped its head again and this time, came forward to touch her horn to my stomach. I felt warm all over suddenly, like I was in the middle of a spring day that was just warm enough to have shirtsleeves, but not enough to go with a tank top. I gasped at the connection that grew stronger and I could hear and see everything that she could. It was quite discerning. The feelings faded after she removed her horn, but I could still feel the echo of all of her thoughts and what happened to her herd.

It made me angry to see so many beautiful creatures butchered to the name of revenge. I also found that the Unicorn was just as pregnant as I was.

“Gifted Earth-mother, I would like to join your herd until I have my revenge on the one who killed mine.”

Ben groaned softly as I smiled at her.

“Home and herd you shall have and be welcome.”

“Home. I have not had home in a long time. It would be most welcome,” she said to me through the link. “I am Sabina.”

That surprised me. Unicorns don’t usually give their names at all, if ever. I noticed that she had not given me her herd name, just her first name. The second thing I noticed was the smell of fresh flowers with the sharpness of the cold. It was an odd mixture. I turned to Ben and laughed when I saw his face.

His eyes had widened and mouth hung open.

“Ben close your mouth. If you were a frog you wouldn’t have caught anything.”

The unicorn named Sabina dipped her head and nickered out a laugh. Ben closed his mouth and stared at the both of us.

“Between the two of you and my mother, I’m outnumbered, aren’t I?”

“You said I needed help. You just didn’t say what kind of help I needed,” I said as I placed my hand on Sabina’s shoulder.

She silently gave her consent through the connection.

Ben sighed. “Okay, let’s walk back. I’m sure the house will come up with something for our new friend.”

“Family. She’s family,” I said as I walked with Sabina on one side and Ben on the right.

“Family, then.”

I smiled up at him. “I wished for family. I got my wish and more.”

“Smart Earth-mother,” Sabina said.

I replied back through the connection, “I am Marlowe.”

“Marlowe, then. Good,” she said.

We walked back to the house together and she’s been a standard in the house. The dogs got used to her, they even treat her with much more respect than I expected. Even Gibbs, whose favorite game is chase, will not go running in the room if Sabina is in there with him. It’s strange.

I spent my time talking with her when Ben was at work. She told me about her herd and what happened.

They were slaughtered because they would not share their magic. It made me angry, which made Sabina nicker at me.

“Not so angry, Marlowe. Sad. The human that did it knows nothing of magic. She only knows what she takes and our magic will turn on her.”

I scratched her flank and sighed. “I hope it turns before she has the opportunity to hurt someone else with what she stole.”

“She will not. It will be more inclined to help you though, if you ask it to. Our herd magic is a special thing. It’s alive and very annoyed right now.”

I laughed. “It’s probably making things a little difficult for her, then.”

“I would say so,” Sabina said.

“Mom,” Logan said from the corner of the room where he was playing with Alphonse.

“Yes, baby?”

“I like her. I like her voice.”

Sabina nickered at him and Logan came over. He sat in my lap and stared at Sabina.

“I like you too, Child.”

Logan smiled and reached out to her. Sabina leaned over and he touched her face, stroking gently.

“Pretty,” he said.

I laughed. “Yes, she is.”

Alphonse got up and came over to where we were sitting. He wiggled his way in to my side, staring at Sabina.

“Shy one, don’t worry. I like you too,” she said to him.

Alphie smiled.

It was later when I sent them up to bed that Sabina told me the story of the first herd in Blueville.

They’d been drawn here by the power that the original council had used to build the town. Each building was being erected with a protection spell weaved in to the mortar as they stacked bricks and stone. Naturally curious, they came to the Council and introduced themselves to the first Earth-mother on the land, Emily Barrett. She formed the first soul bond with a Unicorn and through it, learned that the land they’d chosen to settle on and protect was considered sacred to all creatures of Other origin.

They’d chosen fortunate to settle here. Now only those who would be friendly to Other-kin and the Other themselves would thrive here. Those who aren’t, well, they don’t stay very long and are not very lucky.

It makes me question the Mayor’s ability to thrive here, though. How did he gain all that power and wealth if he’s not exactly a friend to the community? It makes me weary of him even more than I already am.

-Marlowe

I’m so sick of snow!

I grew up in the mid-west. I love snow, but every year at the end of January I can honestly admit that I’m ready to see the whole world burn for just one taste of spring. Miles of course, thinks it’s hilarious. He finds little ways to needle me about the snow and how we’ve been hit with blizzard after blizzard. There’s been so much snow this year that I haven’t been able to get out of the house as much as I want to.

I actually haven’t been able to get out of the house much at all since I fell on the sidewalk while getting the mail and Ben freaked completely out. He’s actively terrified that I’m going to lose the baby because I fell. Going to the store requires someone with me at all times. While I found it amusing at first, I’m starting to lose my temper with it all, especially since the Doctor said okay to me doing things on my own again.

If I don’t get out of this house soon I’m going to scream and break something. It’s not going to be pretty.

I should probably tell you how I fell, before some of you start asking if I’m okay. First of all; I’m fine. Nothings broken, Baby and I are doing perfectly well. Secondly, there’s a puppy by the name of Gibbs that’s in the permanent dog house with me for playing “Let’s knock people over” while I’m walking out to get the mail.

He comes barreling at me, thinking I’m going to react like the boys and start laughing. I started shouting at him to stop, we still haven’t grasped that command, when the sound of Ben coming in to the driveway makes them go nuts. I can’t really blame Ben though, it’s not his fault he came home earlier than I expected.

Anyway, I started to believe that he lost all interest in his game, when my feet flew out from under me and I had a face full of doggy tongue. I was not pleased. Neither was Ben who stopped the car, ran over shouting at Gibbs, who thought it was a game and started dancing away from him. The boys corralled Gibbs while Ben ran over to me.

I was already starting to pick myself back up, I was sitting up and rubbing my back with one hand while brushing snow off with my other. Ben dropped down next to me and immediately started checking me over. I tried to tell him I was fine, but he wasn’t hearing it and scooped me up and put me in the car. He ordered both boys back in to the house with the dogs so Miles could watch them, and drove me to the hospital.

We got there and I was taken in to the ER while Ben babbled at a doctor about what happened. I was left to wait while Ben twitch anxiously in the chair next to my bed.

“You can stop that, you know. I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine. You were knocked over by a 65 pound puppy.”

“Pregnant women fall all the time. I’m healthy. My body is used to falls. This one might be nothing.”

“I’ll calm down when the doctor says otherwise.”

I sighed and gave up. My head was throbbing from where it hit the ground. I closed my eyes and managed to relax for an hour before the doctor came to see us. Ben shot up out of his seat like a Jack-in-the-Box and I started giggling. I couldn’t help it. The Doctor gave me a look and I swallowed some of my giggles while Ben explained why we were there. The Doctor looked at me sharply and went about asking me questions. I answered him the best I could.

No, my stomach does not hurt. No, my legs do not hurt. Yes, my head hurts. Yes, my lower back hurts. No, I do not need to pee.

“Well, I’m going to order an ultra sound to be on the safe side. I’m also going to have blood drawn.”

I nodded at him, but Ben spoke up.

“Then can I take her home?”

“We’ll see what the tests say. If they’re okay, you can,” he turned to me and pointed. “Bed rest, at least two days. No strenuous activity.”

“I’m a Mom, Doc. That job is strenuous.”

“Not right now, it’s not. You’ll find someone to help.”

I sighed. Ben looked pleased. I narrowed my eyes at him.

“Then will you tell the worry wort there that it stresses me out when he works late and doesn’t call?”

The Doctor saw where I was going with this and chuckled.

“Yes. I can do that,” he turned and pointed at Ben. “What she said with an added addendum of you work too much and she needs help.”

I giggled when Ben narrowed his eyes at me. I blew a kiss at him. The Doctor chuckled at the both of us.

“I’ll be back after the ultrasound. Drink water.” He ordered as he left.

I drank the water that was left for me by a nurse and waited for the technician. When she showed up, it took her twenty minutes to get her pictures of my baby and uterus. There’s still no sex on Baby, though. We couldn’t see it on the screen, he or she had their back turned toward us.

It took them another three hours to get test results back and even then, they released me with the promise that if I felt anything weird, to come back immediately. I promised the Doctor I would and Ben walked me out of the hospital. As we walked hand-in-hand to the car, I smiled up at him.

“See? All fine.”

“I’m not. I never want to see that happen again.”

“I’m fine Ben. I bounce.” I said as I walked to my side of the car.

Ben spun me around and pinned me to the car as he kissed me.

“I’m not fine. Not until you and baby are separate and okay,” he said as he held me close. “I was terrified I might lose you both.”

“I’m pregnant, Ben. I’m not terminal,” I said as I hugged him back. “but I can see where you’re coming from. You’ve got to relax a little about this. It’s a baby, not the end of my life.”

“I know, but I’m scared. For both of you. I don’t want to lose either one.”

“You’re not. I’m fine. Strong and healthy, that’s what the doctor said.”

Ben kissed my forehead. “You’re still following the doctors instructions.”

“Of course I am. I’m looking forward to two days in bed with my books. I have quite a stack to get through,” I said as I climbed in to the car after Ben opened up my car door.

He went around and got into the drives seat, but didn’t start the car right away. I put on my seat belt while he stared at me.

“You’re up to something,” he said.

“Yep, now get a move on. I want a nap.”

He waited for me to explain and when I didn’t, shrugged and started the car. We drove home in relative silence, listening to the radio. We were nearly to the driveway when Ben stopped the car.

“What are you up to?”

“Nothing that’ll endanger me, the baby, or anyone in the house. I promise.”

Ben looked at me from the driver’s seat and narrowed his eyes.

“Do not call my mother.”

“Too late.”

His head hit the steering wheel with a loud thunk. I think even the neighbors heard me laugh.

-Marlowe

New Year’s Eve, Part 2

Ben woke me later that evening by dumping a giggling Alphonse in bed. Logan responded by kicking his brother. Then I had a fight and Ben desperately trying to stop it before I woke up. I managed to wake up and sit up in time to get an elbow to the boob. When I gasped and laid back down, clutching my chest, I had three pairs of male eyes staring at me.

“Dead. Meat,” I growled playfully and attacked Alphonse, tickling him until he couldn’t breathe and Logan jumped on my back.

Ben scooped off Logan and put him on the floor. Alphonse followed.

“Go find Grandma Murphy. She’s downstairs with the dogs,” he told them.

They were off and running, laughing their way through the halls. I smiled up at Ben, who crawled into bed with me and snuggled close.

“How was your nap?”

“Pretty good. Logan came and napped with me,” I replied to him as I curled close. “He told me he loved me.”

Ben went still, then spoke: “Really?”

“Really, really.”

“Well I’ll be.”

“I cried.”

Ben tipped my chin up and kissed me. I smiled and tugged him down, deepening the kiss.

“Kids,” Ben said as he pulled away.

“Spoil sport.”

Ben flicked his finger across my nose. “You’re pregnant.”

“I’m not dead and you’ve still got a great ass,” I said with a wicked grin.

Ben grinned back at me and kissed me hard before rolling out of bed.

“Not falling for it.”

I stuck my tongue out at him and he laughed.

“Come on, Lowe. The ball is going to drop in a couple of hours and the kids will probably drive both their Grandma’s nuts.”

I yawned and rolled out of bed. I stood and stretched as Ben watched. He had a dopey kind of half-smile on his face.

“What is it?” I asked him.

“You’re beautiful.”

“Is it me or the pregnancy?”

“Both.”

“Good answer.” I said as I got dressed again.

Ben waited for me to finish and took my hand as we walked down stairs.

“Do you want to tell them tonight?” Ben asked.

“Well, everyone we care about is downstairs right now. It’d be a good time for it, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

I rubbed my free hand over his arm and smiled up at him. We made out way down the stairs and in the Great Hall where we were surrounded by family. I was greeted and hugged by everyone until Grandma Murphy and Jude dragged me into the kitchen.

“Okay, what is it?” Grandma Murphy demanded.

“What is what?” I said as I moved to the fridge to grab a bottle of water.

“What is the thing that’s making you sleep in the middle of the day?” Jude asked.

Not for the first time did I wish that I had Ben’s thought speech.

“I was tired?”

“Not buying it, Missy.” Grandma Murphy said.

I sighed as I capped the bottle and set it down slowly.

“I’m pregnant.”

“Well, I didn’t expect that,” Jude said.

“I did. You haven’t been around enough yet. They’ve been at it like rabbits for months.”

I groaned and sat down on a stool. Jude and Grandma Murphy looked me over.

“You’re not going to puke are you?” Jude asked.

“If I am, I’m going to aim for Murphy’s shoes.”

Grandma Murphy started laughing.

“Good to see you’ve still got your sass.”

“I’m not dying, I’m just pregnant. People do this every day,” I griped.

“Most women go bananas with their first child,” Murphy griped back.

“It’s not my first. I’ve got two in the other room.”

“Ha. No. This is your first pregnancy.”

“Semantics,” I quipped at her.

“Seriously though, are you okay?”

I nodded. “I got in to the doctor two days ago. He confirmed that I’m pregnant and we’re healthy.”

“Well at least you were smart about all of this. When did you know?”

“Christmas.”

Jude glared at me. “You two have kept this from me for a week?”

I smiled up at Jude. “Ben and I decided together that we’d wait until we knew for sure. An over the counter pregnancy test is not reliable information.”

“Now who’s using semantics?” Murphy asked.

I flushed and ducked my head. Ben stepped in to the room then and saw me, then his mother, then Grandma Murphy.

“Ahh.. I think I’ll take my fiancée off your hands,” He said.

“Oh no you don’t. Why didn’t you tell me that you two were pregnant?” Jude demanded.

“We decided to wait. That was our decision,” Ben said, firmly backing me up.

I smiled up at him as Jude looked from him to me and back again.

“Good to know the two of you can’t be cowed,” Just said with an approving nod.

“Ha! He should! I helped give the boy more spine since he’s been here.” Murphy said with a nod of her own. “Now, lets you and me go gossip about this and how we’re going to override the nursery colors.”

“I do believe I like you, Murphy,” Jude said as they walked out, arm in arm.

I shook my head at them both.

“Well, that was unexpected,” Ben said, blowing out a breath. “How are you feeling?”

“A little sick to my stomach, but it’s not morning sickness. It’s ‘I’ve just been jumped by my in-laws’ sickness.”

Ben laughed and crossed over to me, kissing my forehead.

“Come on, let’s go tell everyone else so that we can get to the celebrating part.”

“Yeah, I like that plan. I like the part where we get to go to bed.”

“Careful, you’re becoming an old lady.”

“Watch your language. There will never be anything old about me,” I chided.

Ben laughed and we walked out together and in to the Great Hall to deliver the news and start a new year with a new beginning.

It felt right.

-Marlowe