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A Blessing

 
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Aurelia
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2015 10:35 am    Post subject: A Blessing Reply with quote

Avalon. The Summer Isle. It certainly lived up to its name as the year moved on toward the warmth and brightness of the summer itself. Everywhere there was green and gold to be seen, the fields and gardens reveling in the rich light of the sun that warmed the earth without causing harm to those who lived within the mists. There was much to celebrate in the simple turning of the years, but today, there was more. For the first time in almost two thousand years, their Lore-master and his wife had come to Avalon.

It was one thing to be told you were revered, a legend - it was quite another thing to experience that reverence for yourself. Aurelia was not used to being the object of so much attention, and certainly not used to being bowed and curtsied to as she passed. Five days after giving birth, she didn't feel as though she gave off quite the image they were expecting to see of her, deliberately hiding behind the excuse of murmuring to Morgan as they made their way to the Temple.

Ian, too, seemed as shocked as Aurelia to find the inhabitants of Avalon bowing and curtsying in respect and reverence, not just for the Champion and Priestess, but for them, too, as he walked at Aurelia's side. As for Rhys, he seemed to be in his glory, soaking up the attention and the adulation like the attention-whore that he was, going so far as to wave to the crowd, like he was riding in a parade.

Natalya, of all of them, was the most familiar with Avalon, and the best known, and despite her distinctly modern attire, no one batted an eye at the sight of the Priestess of Avalon lurching along a few steps behind the others, her daughter clinging onto her hands as she attempted to walk for herself and keep up with her father. Thankfully for the piece of mind of the Lore-master and his wife, the curious eyes fell away as they entered the Temple grounds, giving way to the Handmaidens who, though equally as delighted to see them, were not quite so obvious in their warm reverence for the pair.

Ana was whisked away within moments, the matronly Handmaidens looking with longing eyes at little Morgan even as they, too, were shooed away by Helene, the Lady's first on the Isle.

The ageless, ancient little girl smiled at the group warmly. "The Lady is expecting you, Lore-master, Enchantress," she told them, inclining her head to Ian and Aurelia. Her eyes flickered toward Rhys and Nat with a slightly more impish smile. "I believe the Grand Master is hoping to see you, Sir Rhys."

The small group came to a halt as the Lady's Handmaidens arrived to greet them. Rhys arched a brow at the unexpected summons. No one was expecting them, as far as he knew, so what was it the Grand Master wanted with him already? He hoped this wasn't something about Zach and Rachel. Flashing a puzzled look at Nat, there was little he could do but acquiesce. "Now?" he asked. He'd been hoping to see his sister and brother-in-law and the Lady, though he supposed they could wait until later, especially since they weren't expected anyway.

Helene laughed her musical laugh, shaking her head. "He is very excited about something but has sworn us all to secrecy until he may inform you himself," she warned Rhys as Nat came to his side. "Priestess."

"Hello, Helene," Nat smiled to the tiny woman affectionately. "Would the Lady prefer a smaller delegation to bless the child among?"

Helene's smile softened, relieved that she had been asked. "Indeed, yes," she agreed, a hint of apology in her eyes as she looked at Rhys. "She will ask for you later."

Behind them, Aurelia was staring, open-mouthed, at how formality had become informality so very easily. She glanced at Ian, not entirely sure she wanted to be singled out at all.

It was true - though Rhys and Natalya held high-ranking positions in Avalon and were treated with respect and even reverence, they never held those positions of power over anyone and were held in high regard by all those they knew, sometimes even in friendship. It bode well for Ian and Aurelia, just as Rhys knew it would. As curious as Rhys was about whatever it was Sir Lionel wanted to show him, there was something else he was hoping to do first, while Ian and Aurelia met with the Lady. "Shall we go surprise my sister and her husband then, my lady?" Rhys asked Nat as he offered her his arm with a small bow and an amused smirk on his face. "Methinks she might like to see how big Ana has grown."

Ignoring the momentary look of panic on Aurelia's face, at least, at the thought of being abandoned, Natalya slid her arm through Rhys' with a warm chuckle. "Perhaps we should steal our daughter back from the Handmaidens before we go," she suggested, nodding to where Ana was entertaining a small group of Avalon's most beloved with her antics. "I daresay Rachel will be disappointed if she does not have her kisses from her niece."

"Very true," Rhys replied in complete agreement, turning to Ian and Aurelia with a smile. "Are you two gonna be okay without us?" he asked, looking a little amused by his own question. While he was impatient to see Elaine, the whole reason for their visit was so that Ian and Aurelia could present their daughter and see that they truly were welcome in Avalon.

Hugging Morgan to her shoulder, Aurelia leaned into Ian's side, feeling out of place in her modern clothing and a little overwhelmed by the startling warmth of the greetings they had already received from Avalon's people. "I ..." She hesitated before going on, glancing to her husband. "Will she let us hide with her for a while, do you think?"

Ian looked from Aurelia to Rhys as if for an answer and then back. "I don't know, but if she wants to see us, we can't very well deny her. It is why we came here, after all." And if for some reason, she wanted to send them away, there wasn't much they could do about that either, but he didn't think it would come to that.

"Then come, Lore-master, Enchantress," Helene told them, cutting over any mischievous answer Rhys might choose to give as she gestured for Ian and Aurelia to enter the Temple with her. "She is impatient to see the little one."

Nat chuckled at the look on their friends' faces, as sure as Rhys was that this abrupt summons was purely because Elaine wanted to cuddle a newborn baby once again. "Go," she urged them, hugging her own husband's arm warmly. "If you need us, we will find you later."

"Stop worrying," Rhys cut in anyway, once Helene had finished. "She won't bite." And that was all the advice he was going to give them, as he was anxious to see the look on Rachel's face when she saw how much her niece had grown. "You ladies can have her later," Rhys said as he led Nat over to the gaggle of Handmaidens to retrieve their daughter. "Her Aunt Rachel gets her first."

Amid the healthy declaration of laughter from the Handmaidens, who seemed to be happy to take part in a small tug of war over the animated Ana, Helene smiled to Ian and Aurelia, gently leading them into the coolness of the Temple. Their bag was taken from them, presumably to be set into the little cottage that was theirs on the Isle, before she drew them to the interwoven vines that protected the Chalice Well, and the Lady of Avalon. At their approach, the vines whispered aside, opening the path to friends who had not visited for quite some time.
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Aurelia
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2015 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ian seemed far less nervous to be visiting Avalon than Aurelia, but then he was fairly secure in his place here and fairly comfortable with his surroundings. In fact, in a way, Avalon felt very much like home to a man who was a scholar in Arthurian legend and lore. Even so, he had no idea what to expect and was nervous with eager anticipation.

Within moments of the vines closing behind them, there was the sound of rustling skirts and hasty footsteps - unlike most visitors honored with an audience within the heart of Avalon, who had to traverse the paths to reach the pool before meeting the Lady, Ian and Aurelia were one of only two couples who could expect to have Elaine greet them almost before they had truly entered at all. There she was, on the path before them, ancient and youthful, timelessly beautiful, her golden hair flying behind her as she rushed to greet them, wrapping them both in her embrace. "Welcome home," she told them both, her voice rich with emotion. "It has been too long since we have seen you."

Ian was both pleased and relieved to find Elaine so welcoming, as if they were long lost family come home at last. He blinked in surprise at the hug, but returned it as warmly as he could while maintaining a respectful distance. He was obviously not as comfortable as Rhys or Nat, and yet, he thought the welcome boded well for them both. As for Elaine, she hadn't changed a bit from when they'd last seen her, and Ian wondered if she ever would. "I apologize if we're intruding," he told her as he stepped back and let her welcome Aurelia in turn.

"It is never an intrusion to see old friends," Elaine told him with a gentle smile, touching his cheek. "You knew me in my youth; you will always be welcome here." But he couldn't hold her attention for long when there was a baby to be seen - a baby who had been conceived in the first days of Avalon hidden in the mists, their reward from the powers for safeguarding the isle and its mysteries. "And this is?" she asked, stroking gentle fingertips against the newborn girl's head as Aurelia smiled proudly. The witch did not speak, though, leaving it to Ian to share the name they had given their daughter.

He would have been perfectly happy to do the same, leaving it up to Aurelia to present their newborn daughter and share her name, but for some reason, it seemed she was deferring to Ian. He gave Aurelia a questioning look before turning back to Elaine with an answer. "Our daughter," he told her, though that much was obvious. "Morgan Viviane," he said, smiling softly and proudly as he looked to the small bundle in his wife's arms. Though she might not ever hold such an important title or role as Ana, she was still a child of Avalon, even more so for having been conceived here.

"Oh ..." For a moment, the soft beauty that marked Elaine out from so many others grew almost impossibly soft as she looked down at the sleeping baby, deeply touched by the giving of a name most people in the outside world had forgotten as the years passed.

With a smile, Aurelia laid little Morgan into the arms of the Lady of Avalon, watching as Elaine gathered the tiny life to her with arms that had not forgotten what it was to hold a child. "We wanted to remember them," she told Elaine softly. "We have you living, still here to love, but they are long gone from this world and from ours. Now, perhaps, they will live again, wherever our daughter is."

Ian only smiled on the trio of women - one tiny and one grown and one ageless and timeless. Aurelia had explained the naming far better than he could have. Had the child been a boy, it was likely he would have been Arthur, but the Fates had seen fit to give them a girl-child, and though tired, there couldn't have been a prouder, happier father than Ian. "To remember and honor them," Ian explained further. Not even the Champion and Priestess had chosen such names, but then, they had not personally met the women in question.

Leaning into Ian as she watched Elaine, Aurelia's smile was enough to make her cheeks ache. Despite her hesitation, this felt right, to present their daughter to the Lady of Avalon so soon after her birth, and to see the tearful smile as the woman who stood at the heart of the sacred isle welcomed little Morgan into her heart.

"She is beautiful," Elaine said finally, her voice softer now as she gestured for them to come with her to the pool that was the source of her power. "And strong. She will be a power in your world, however she chooses to exert it."

Ian arched a brow at Elaine's declaration, though he was entirely surprised by the news that their daughter held some hidden power deep inside her. She was the daughter of a witch, after all, though Ian possessed no special abilities. He exchanged a glance with Aurelia and took her hand in his as they followed the lady to the pool, curious what she might see for their child and their future.

Kneeling carefully by the pool, Elaine dipped her fingers into the cool waters, raising them to trace a few drops onto Morgan's forehead as the baby girl squirmed in the secure wrap of her arm. "Conceived in Avalon, and by Avalon's hand blessed," the Lady said quietly. "Ever shall we stand guardians to the future you shall inhabit, Morgan Viviane, daughter of Ian and Aurelia." She bent her head to kiss the newborn softly, easing the tiny girl to the crook of her arm once again. Summer sky eyes rose to look at the parents as they watched her. "I may answer one question to ease your minds or incite your curiosity," she told them gently. "What question would you have answered?"

Ian watched quietly, while the Lady blessed their daughter. There was nothing much he needed to ask or say, touched by the Lady's tenderness toward their daughter and her willingness to welcome her to Avalon. He gave Aurelia's hand a gentle squeeze as they watched hand in hand, turning a questioning look to her at the Lady's prompting. He had so many questions it was hard to pick only one, and he didn't want to waste the opportunity asking something silly and trivial. "Is there something you would like to ask?" he said, deferring once again to his wife.

Meeting Ian's eyes, Aurelia frowned thoughtfully, understanding that there were too many questions to choose just one from the maelstrom in her mind. But at the same time, there was only one question whose answer mattered. Holding tight to Ian's hand, she lowered her eyes to where the Lady sat, holding their daughter. "Will she find her own happiness?" she asked softly.

For a long moment, Elaine was silent, examining what she had been shown of the little lifetime stretching out before for in those moments of power. Her smile returned, gentle, sad, but hopeful, too. "Happiness is what we make for ourselves," she said carefully. "There will be sadness in her life, and happiness. And I See love for her. It will be up to her, to be happy with what she has."

Ian frowned a little at the future the Lady had predicted for their daughter - a prediction which was rather vague. In every life there was some sorrow and some happiness. It didn't really tell them much about what to expect or gave any hints at how to raise their daughter, and yet, every parent worried for their child's future and few were given any hints about their future, such as they had just been given. "When you say what she has, do you mean her talents and abilities or what she has accomplished in life?"

"She will have the Sight, as witches of Aurelia's line sometimes have," Elaine clarified a little. "It will not come to her until she is grown, for there is another power she will have before too long. The way she chooses to live with the Sight will determine her happiness, Ian. I cannot predict her choices."

"Another power?" Ian echoed, unsure what Elaine meant by that, but not wanting to push his luck. She'd said one question, and he knew it might not be good to know too much. "I only want her to be happy," he said of their daughter who was just barely four days old.

Aurelia seemed to understand better what Elaine was saying, absentmindedly raising Ian's hand to her lips to kiss his knuckles gently in reassurance. She, at least, was not concerned by the news that their daughter would develop a form of Sight on top of her active power; it was in her blood, after all.
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Aurelia
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2015 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Lady, for her part, merely smiled at Ian, raising her brow in answer to his comment. "Then teach her to be happy, Lore-master."

As knowledgeable as he was about Arthurian lore, he was still learning about magic, especially where it concerned his wife and those who shared her powers. He looked to Aurelia with a soft smile as she kissed his hand. "I can only love her and teach her to love in return," he replied, in answer to Elaine, though he was looked at Aurelia.

"We can teach her a great deal more than that, mon coeur," his wife corrected him gently, leaning wearily into his side as she smiled up at him. "But you are right. We can only teach what we know. She must learn some things for herself, in the fullness of time."

His arm slid around her waist as she leaned into him, frowning a little in concern. She had only given birth a few days ago, and he knew she needed her rest. "We cannot teach her to be happy, Ree. We can only love her and show her what happiness is." He leaned over to brush a kiss against her forehead. "Forgive us, Lady, but caring for an infant is tiring work, and it has only been a few days since our daughter was born."

"Of course." Elaine rose smoothly to return their daughter to them, though the way her fingers lingered on the soft blanket was more than evidence enough that they would have to find more time to visit with her while they were here. "You are welcome to remain in Avalon for as long as you wish," she told them both, touching her fingers gently first to Ian's cheek, then to Aurelia's. "Here there are many hands who are willing to aid you, and healing, should you require it. You have the freedom of Avalon, our Lore-master, and our Enchantress. You are always welcome."

"As long as we wish?" he echoed again, needing to understand exactly what that meant, if only for Aurelia's sake. As for himself, he felt relieved to be back in Avalon, almost as though they belonged there, though he knew they couldn't stay here forever. There would be people back home who would look for them and miss them if they did - at least, until they decided where they wanted to settle and raise their daughter. He noticed how reluctant she seemed to return their child, and his heart went out to her, sensing how lonely she must be. "Rhys and Natalya are here with their daughter, and I promise we will visit again when we are rested."

"As long as you wish," Elaine repeated with a smile, acknowledging the presence of her Champion and Priestess with a low chuckle. She never missed Rhys' passage through the mists - it was like hearing a mischievous child sneaking home in the hope of surprising his mother, all joy and playful delight. "I will see them later, when Lionel has surprised them with his own small amount of mischief."

Aurelia actually laughed at the sight of the Lady of Avalon smirking like an errant schoolchild in on the hidden joke. "Thank you, Elaine," she smiled to the ageless beauty, leaning close to touch her cheek to that of the golden-haired woman. "We will come to you, when we have slept a little."

As friendly and as welcoming as Elaine was, Ian felt a little bit awkward with her, knowing all the sacrifices she had made and all she had lost, and yet, there were those who loved and revered her, including himself and Aurelia. He wasn't sure if he should bow in reverence and respect or hug her like a long-lost friend. He took their daughter in his arms, cradling her gently yet snugly, while Elaine and Aurelia said their temporary farewells. It seemed almost unbelievable that they had actually been here all those centuries ago, but he could not deny the proof in front of him. He arched a brow at the hint of a surprise of some sort for Rhys and Natalya, though he had no idea what that surprise might consist of. "There is still much we need to speak of," Ian added, still struggling to find his place here in Avalon, as well as back home.

"And we will," the Lady promised him softly, pressing a kiss to Aurelia's temple before she drew back to bestow another kiss upon Ian's cheek. "You are welcome to remain here as long as you wish, and explore as much as you wish. There are others who can give you answers - the Grand Master of the Temple, or Helene, or any of the scholars at the Library. No one will impede you in your pursuit of knowledge, Lore-master. And everyone will help you in the care of yourselves and your daughter."

But none of them are you, he thought to himself without saying it out loud. He had felt close to Elaine once, but things seemed strange now that she was the Lady of Avalon. So much had changed in the world, and yet Avalon remained constant. "Ian," he reminded her. There had been a time when she had called him by his first name; when titles hadn't mattered.

Elaine laughed softly, patting his cheek with a gentle hand. "You will find, Ian, that I use titles only when I intend to make a point," she assured him in a warm tone. "But for now, you both should look to yourselves and your daughter. There is peace here, and no end of helping hands. Take advantage of it."

"And what of you?" he asked, his concern for her almost as deeply felt as that for his wife and child. And what of Guinevere? he thought to himself, already knowing the answer to both those questions. He had drunk from the Grail and passed the test, but that was something Aurelia had yet to do when she was ready.

For a brief moment, the weight of her years seemed to settle on her, and she sagged. But it was only a brief moment, cast aside as she resumed her gentle smile. "There is always work to be done for the Lady of Avalon," she told him. "But the peace that belongs to this place is mine, too. For all my long years, I am content, Ian. Do not worry so about me, if you can."

The addendum made Aurelia snort with quiet laughter, knowing her husband as well as she did. "I will try to keep him from worrying overmuch," she promised Elaine.

His frown deepened as he sensed her weariness, but he knew this was the fate she had chosen for herself and that she would have it no other way. There years were shortening until the time she would be free of her burdens, and though he might not live to see it, he would certainly be waiting for her in spirit, alongside those who'd gone before her. He snorted at Aurelia's claim. "And I will try to get her to rest. Come, lady wife, the handmaidens are anxious to spoil our daughter and you need both healing and rest."

"And you need rest, lady-husband," Aurelia countered, pausing with a comical frown on her face as she attempted to work out what exactly had been wrong with what she had just said. Elaine waved them away with a last laugh, shaking her head at the weariness of the new parents who had finally come back to Avalon.

He chuckled at her faux pas, amused at the fact that she didn't quite seem to grasp what it was she'd said wrong. "If you can't tell a lord from a lady, then you really do need some rest." He offered a reverential bow to Elaine. "We will visit again when we are better rested," he told her, his first concern for his wife and daughter. "Thank you for welcoming us."

Rolling her eyes, Aurelia glanced at Elaine. "He thinks it is funny," she chuckled. "I didn't see him pushing that little one out for ten hours."

Elaine laughed again, shaking her head once more at the pair of them. "Go," she urged them, with gentle hands as well as gentle words. "I will always be where you can find me, for I am always here. Be well and rest, my dear friends."
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2015 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"No, but I was there with you through all of it," he reminded her, their daughter cradled in one arm, while he led her way from the Lady's garden with the other. "I feel like I could sleep for a week," he told her with a small laugh, wondering what would happen once they did fall asleep. Would anyone wake them or would they let them sleep as long as was needed?

As the vines slithered closed in their wake, Aurelia seemed to relax a little more, stumbling wearily on her feet. The peace and serenity of Avalon had only served to make her much more aware of her aches and pains, and her need to sleep soundly, if only for a few hours. "I would hope they would not keep Morgan from us for a week, purely to allow us sleep."

"No, not a week," Ian agreed, glancing down at their young daughter who was busy searching for a finger or thumb to suckle. "But perhaps a few hours." Even if they were allowed as much sleep as they wanted, he knew they would both miss their daughter too much before long. "We have a lot to talk about, Ree, but first I think we both need some rest."

"I think you are right, mon coeur," she agreed, stifling a yawn as their feet took them toward the cottage that was their own, without a need for a guide. "At least she was fed not so long ago. We may have an hour or so before she wishes it again."

Feeding their daughter was going to prove interesting without the help of modern conveniences, but if there was any place where they could get all the help they needed, it was here in Avalon. "Then we should take advantage of it while it lasts," he replied. He didn't have to wonder if the cottage had been prepared for them. The Lady seemed to anticipate their every need and desire before they had even arrived here.

She nodded, smiling as they walked along. "All I really want is to curl up with you both and sleep," she admitted with a tired chuckle, reaching over to let Morgan suck on her fingertip for a while. They had packed at least one pacifier, hadn't they? She hoped so. "I do not think I could sleep at all if I did not have you both near by."

"I'm not going anywhere, Ree," he assured her, leaning close to brush a kiss against her cheek before leading her on. It was a short enough walk to their cottage, but weariness made it seem so much longer. There would be time to talk later and to plan and to sort out what they wanted to do now that their lives had changed once again. There would be time to speak with Sir Lionel and Zachariel regarding their continuing work with the library and the vast collection of books and scrolls, which Ian had not yet had much time to explore. There would be time to visit with Elaine, not only in their official capacities, but as friends. There would be time for it all, now that they were back in Avalon - now that they were home.
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