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A New Beginning

 
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Aurelia
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:25 am    Post subject: A New Beginning Reply with quote

Summer had given way to autumn, and with it, Ian's free time had drastically reduced. It didn't stop Aurelia from seeking him out regularly, however, no matter where he was. Today, she had debated with herself whether or not to wait until his work day was finished before disturbing him, but in the end, the desire to see him had overruled common sense. She walked through the halls of the university, aiming herself for his office in the hope that he was in there and not caught up in a lecture somewhere. If he wasn't, she was just going to have to wait, and try to ignore the weight of what she had found at the cabin that morning.

On the door of his office was a name plate which read Professor Ian Evans, but the door was open, as he had an open door policy for students, leaving his door open in the late afternoon for anyone who might be having trouble or just needed to talk. He was a good teacher in that way. He never turned a student away who needed an ear or was having trouble, even if it meant his private life suffered from it. Today, there was no one there but him, bent over his desk, scribbling some notes on a ream of paper. Most of the other professors had taken to using a computer to receive and grade papers, but Ian still liked to do things the old fashioned way, and he thought it was better for his students that way, too. Technology might have made things more efficient, but he preferred a personal touch.

Thankfully, Aurelia knew the way to his office, having visited once or twice already. She smiled at the sight of her English professor bent over his work, watching him for a long moment before raising her hand to knock on the open door. "May I come in?"

He was so lost in what he was doing that he didn't realize there was someone at the door until he heard a knock and he glanced up, expecting to see one of his students there with one of their many questions. He smiled at the unexpected visitor, appreciating the view. She always was a sight for sore eyes, no matter what she was wearing. "Of course," he replied, moving to get up, from a lifetime of habitual good manners. He was wearing a rather ordinary tweed jacket over a slightly-rumpled blue shirt and brown trousers. It wasn't that he didn't have much fashion sense so much as he just never seemed to get around to going shopping.

Her smile deepened as she moved to join him, setting her bag down on the table to smooth her arms about his neck and kiss him. It was definitely not a polite peck, either - if any of his students happened to look in on the way past, they were going to see their apparently stuffy professor being kissed to within an inch of his life by an attractive Belgian woman who was clearly enjoying herself very much indeed.

He was so taken with the kiss, he hardly had time to think about closing the door, but it was getting late, and most of the students and staff had left for the evening, returning to their respective dorms and homes. He murmured appreciatively into the kiss as he settled his hands at her waist. They had definitely crossed the line of friendship a few months ago and had become quite the item.

Drawing back just enough to smile as she drew her fingertips through his dark curls, Aurelia nuzzled to him tenderly. "Bon soir, Ian," she murmured in an affectionate tone, the tip of her nose brushing his as she gazed into his eyes. "I hope you do not mind my coming to your place of work. I was growing impatient."

"Of course not! Have I ever complained about one of your visits?" he replied with a smile, enjoying the pleasant distraction from his work. "How did you get here? Did you drive or twitch your nose?" he teased with a gleam in his eyes.

She chuckled, twitching her nose at him cheekily. Bringing her car with her would only have robbed them of the opportunity to share a car ride together, regardless of the destination, after all. She was never one to close the door to an opportunity like that. "Perhaps, if you are not too busy, you would like to take me home?" she suggested, a certain amount of mischief in her smile. It didn't matter which home, either.

"My home or yours?" he asked, not much caring either way, though his place was a lot closer than hers. Dylan's old cabin was just short of an hour's drive from Penn State, but his flat was a lot closer. He was just about to take his time kissing her when a female voice was heard at the door.

"Ian, I was wondering... Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were alone."

"Yours," Aurelia murmured back to him, about to suggest that if they went to hers, they would have to defile his desk first, when that unexpected voice intruded. She didn't leap away, unabashed to be caught in the arms of her lover. She simply turned a little, offering a smile to the woman who had interrupted.

The woman was an attractive brunette in about her mid-thirties with warm brown eyes, her hair pulled back a little too harshly from her face. She struggled a moment to regain her composure and hide the shocked expression from her face. Apparently, Ian was not very forthcoming with his colleagues about his personal life - or at least, not with this particular colleague.

"Helen, hello!" he said, equally shocked to find her at his door. "Can I help you with something?"

"No, I..." The woman stammered a moment. "I was just going to ask if you'd like to grab some dinner, but I see you're busy. I'm sorry."

Aurelia had to work hard not to let her amusement show in her smile. Though Ian had insisted several times that there were no other women in his life in whom he was interested, it appeared that there was at least one that was interested in him. She felt sympathy for this Helen, but she wasn't about to back off. Ian was hers now, regardless of anyone else's feelings of attachment to the handsome professor.

"It's all right," he replied, as politely as he could. There was no harm done, after all, though he thought his relationship with Aurelia wouldn't be much of a secret after this. He untangled himself from Aurelia's arms so that he could introduce them. They were all adults, after all, and there was no need for jealousy. In fact, if Helen had any interest in him at all beyond a professional one, he had no knowledge of it, or maybe he was just that clueless. "Aurelia, this is Helen, a colleague of mine. Helen, Aurelia." He did not say what his interest was in Aurelia or what she was to him, since it wasn't really any of Helen's business, and it also seemed perfectly obvious from the kisses they'd been sharing.
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Aurelia
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing Aurelia could not be faulted on was her manners. No matter the situation, she was unfailingly polite - in fact, it was rather difficult to make her even irritable. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Helene," she smiled courteously, her natural accent making something prettier of the woman's already pretty name.

Once Helen was over her shock at having found her colleague in an almost compromising position, her good sense and upbringing took over and she reached out to offer a hand to the other woman. "A pleasure to meet you as well, Aurelia."

If there was any competition between them, Ian failed to notice it, and as far as he was concerned, that battle had already been won. "We were just on our way out. Was there something you needed?" he asked the other woman again.

Shaking hands with Helen, Aurelia nodded to the other woman, refusing to leave her place by Ian's side. Whether Helen had hopes or not, Aurelia was not about to leave her in any doubt that Ian Evans was spoken for.

"No," the other woman replied, perhaps a little too quickly. She recognized the possessive look in Aurelia's eyes and knew she was too late in vying for the dashing professor's attention. "I will see you in the morning, Ian. It was a pleasure to meet you, Aurelia."

Ian looked between the women. There seemed to be some sort of private message passed between the two, but he had no idea what it was. "See you in the morning, Helen."

As the unspoken message was received, Aurelia's expression softened, magnanimous in victory. She smiled in a friendly way as Helen took her leave. "I hope you have a good evening, Helene."

She wouldn't. It would be another lonely night in a strange town, but she'd make do. She'd either have to double her efforts to gain the professor's attention or set her sights on someone else. She hadn't decided which yet. "Good night," she told them both before exiting.

Ian shut his computer down and reached for his briefcase. "What was all that about?" he wondered aloud.

Aurelia watched the woman leave, sensing that unmade decision. She moved to close the door, to make absolutely certain Helen wasn't about to overhear anything. Turning back to Ian, she leaned against the door with a faint smile. "That woman wants you, Ian," she informed him fondly. "And she has not yet decided if she will fight me for you. I hope she does not. I cheat."

He looked up from his desk where he was busy straightening papers and placing them in his briefcase, a look of disbelief on his face. "What? No, she doesn't. Don't be ridiculous." Though now that she'd pointed it out, he wasn't too sure.

"Yes, she does," Aurelia assured him, moving away from the door to ease her arms about his waist. "She came specifically to your office, in the hope that you would be here, to invite you to dinner," she pointed out. "Perhaps if she had ever taken her hair down around you, you may have noticed."

"She's new here. She hardly knows me. Why would she ask me to dinner?" Though he remembered that was exactly what she'd said when she arrived at his office door. He shrugged as her arms went around his waist and he turned to face her again, a little more confident now that the door was closed. Hopefully, any other intruders would have the sense to knock first. "Besides, I've already made plans with you," he told her, smiling as he brushed her hair back from her face.

"Because you are a very attractive man," Aurelia reminded him, her smile warm and sincere. She inhaled his unique scent - that special mix of old parchment, brushed leather, and musk - as his fingers touched her hair, unable to hide her own attraction to the man who had originally been intended to be a babysitter of sorts. "We made plans?" she asked playfully. "Are they surprise plans?"

"I believe you asked me to take you home, did you not? But you still have not specified which home you wish to return to," he pointed out, noticing she hadn't brought a change of clothes, though he thought she'd left a few things at his place the last time they'd been there. It had only been about three months since their first meeting, but they'd come a long way in three months.

"I have a proposition for you, regarding that question," she informed him playfully, smoothing her hands beneath his jacket as she leaned into him. "If we go to mine, we will have to defile your office first. I am not a patient woman when it comes to you, mon cœur."

His eyes widened at her proposition, though knowing her the way he did, he wasn't entirely surprised by it. "Then I think we've decided," he said, smiling into another kiss, which lingered a little longer than the last, promising more to come, but not here. As tempting as the prospect was, this was the one place where he needed to maintain a sense of respect and decorum, if only for himself. Anyway, the house he was renting was only a short drive from here. It would take no time at all before they arrived.

He swallowed her laughter with that kiss, thrilling her to her toes. Though she did actually have an ulterior motive for disturbing him, it could wait. She was truly enjoying loving and being loved, even if neither one of them had dared using that particular word just yet. "Shame," she murmured teasingly against his lips, fingertips flicking open the top buttons of his shirt. "I will have to work harder on lowering your defenses before I propose it again."

"You have no patience, woman," he chided her playfully, a smile on his lips, but he would only let her go so far. He kissed her again before gently prying her away. "Let's go before we're interrupted again."

"None where you are concerned," she agreed, backing up a step only when he made it perfectly clear she was not going to be ravished on his desk today. Laughing, she took up her bag, waiting for him to finish packing himself up for the day before opening the door.

"You will be the death of me someday," he teased, breaking away long enough to shove the rest of his papers into his briefcase and pocket his keys. He was already wearing his jacket, and the weather was still warm enough that he didn't need an overcoat.
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Aurelia
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Not for a long time to come, I hope," she answered him with a sweet smile, wishing she had just a little more courage. Some words needed to be said, but she couldn't make them happen. Not yet, anyway. "Come, mon cœur, see if you can drive while my hands wander."

He arched a brow her way as he snapped his briefcase closed. "Perhaps I should make you sit in the back seat," he suggested, though he doubted that would stop her if she was determined enough. There were things he wanted to say to her too, things he wanted to ask her. He had never felt so alive until he'd met her, and yet, the words had not yet reached his lips. Something stirred deep inside him every time she fell into her native language, especially when it was so directed at him. He knew the language well enough to know what she was saying. It was close enough to a declaration of love for him.

She laughed softly. "If I promise to behave myself, will I be rewarded?" she teased him fondly, reaching out to curl her arm through his. She was oddly old-fashioned in her preferences - hand holding was reserved for when they were in private, or sat together somewhere; yet often she would wrap her arm through his as they walked. "I did not interrupt anything important you were working on, did I?"

"Oh, I think that's a given, or perhaps you'd rather be punished?" he asked, with the hint of a smirk for her as she took his arm and he led her toward the door. He had no complaints as far as their sex life went, but up 'til now, they'd both played it pretty safe.

"That does, rather, depend upon what your interpretation of punishment is," she pointed out cheerfully, easily led as he drew her out of his office. As for being adventurous, she'd been waiting for the right time to introduce him to her slightly wilder side. He was a reserved Englishman, after all.

Reserved, perhaps, but just as much a red-blooded male as any man. "Punishment in this case, I think, would involve denying what you want, but we both know that isn't going to happen." He pulled open the door to lead her into the hallway. "And no, you didn't interrupt anything important. I was just grading papers."

"Are you saying you cannot deny me anything, Ian?" she asked with soft amusement as they left the office. "For there are a number of things we have not done yet, and if you truly cannot deny me, you may have a very exciting few months ahead of you."

"I just denied you the opportunity of defiling my office, as you so put it," he pointed out, but there was no anger or irritation in him. In fact, if anything, he seemed amused by the conversation. "What things are those?" he asked, arching a curious brow, as their shoes scraped against the shiny wax floors of the university.

"Adventures," she told him impishly, gently brushing her cheek to his shoulder. "I think, in this case, it would be better to show, rather than to tell." She laughed her rich, warm laugh, glancing up at him with dark eyes. "I think you simply postponed the defiling of your office."

"I have another," he reminded her with the hint of a smirk on his face. He had an office back at the house, if she was really that set on being bent over a desk or straddling his lap. "What kind of adventures?" he asked, assuming she was speaking of the sexual variety, but one could never tell where Aurelia was concerned. She could be talking about one thing one minute and something else entirely the next. It seemed to be the way with women, which made it rather difficult for men.

"Oh, adventures of the sort that an upright Englishman would be awfully embarrassed to discuss, even in private," she teased him fondly, catching his hand with her own. Raising it, she kissed his knuckles, never seeming to get enough of physical contact with him, no matter how innocent or otherwise.

"I'm not all that stuffy, am I?" he asked with a small frown, worried that he was as boring as he'd feared, though she'd never complained. In fact, she seemed as fond of him as he was of her, though fond wasn't quite the right word. "You're likely to make an old man blush," he warned as he led her through those hallowed and empty halls to the exit.

"Just make sure you have enough blood for both heads, and you can blush all you like, mon cœur," she laughed, releasing his hand to tuck her arm through his once again. "You are not stuffy at all, Ian. I find you very stimulating, in all ways. Those who do not have simply not looked properly."

"You are incorrigible," he declared with a chuckle. A few months ago, he might have been shocked to hear her say such a thing, but now he just took it all in stride, at least, for the most part. "Well, I am English," he said, offering an excuse for his reserved behavior, though she was starting to get him to relax. He pushed open the door and held it for her as they exited the building to start down the path to the parking lot.

"Thank you." She never failed to thank him for being a gentleman, pausing outside the door for him to join her before resuming the walk toward his car. "You would not have me any other way, mon cœur. As I would not ever wish to have you apart from me."

"And yet, we don't live together," he said, accidentally blurting that out. He'd taken to spending weekends at the cabin, but during the week, he usually stayed here. Though it wasn't too far to drive, it was just that little bit closer. It was one of the details of their relationship they were still working out. For her, it was hardly any distance at all, what with her ability to shimmer herself anywhere she wanted to be, but he didn't share that ability. Unless he was with her, he still had to do things the hard way.

She paused, looking up at him with sweet, hopeful eyes. "Would you like to live with me, Ian?" she asked him softly. Though Rhys had given her charge of the cabin, it was a matter of barely a few minutes to maintain the place now she had fixed its numerous defects. A quick shimmer from wherever she was would see the place put to rights. "Or perhaps the question should be ... where shall we live?"

He wasn't sure the parking lot of the university where he taught was quite the place to have this conversation, but he didn't want to put it off any longer either. There was the car, or... He frowned thoughtfully a moment before leading her toward a park bench that overlooked a small garden. The grounds of the school were as well maintained as the rest of the place. The summer flowers were in late bloom, alongside the mums which were ready for the autumn chill and would stay in bloom well past Halloween. "I've been meaning to talk to you about that." Especially now that fall had arrived and he was back at school.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Led away from the car, Aurelia offered him a slightly confused look for a moment before realizing that he was going to have this conversation now, before it disappeared from both their minds once again. Easing down onto the bench beside him, she captured his hands in hers gently. "So talk to me."

Now that he had her complete attention, he wasn't quite sure how to broach the subject again. "I know we haven't been together very long," he started, turning to face her as she took her hands in his. "I'm not a young man, Aurelia." But neither was he old, enough even forty yet. "I see no reason in wasting time when I already know what I want."

"You are not an old man, either," she told him softly, her dark eyes searching his for some clue as to how she might make whatever it was he wanted to say easier for him. "What is it that you want, mon cœur?"

This was not the way he'd planned to ask. Hell, he hadn't even told her he was in love with her yet. No, not in love. He loved her, plain and simple, and could no longer imagine a life without her. Neither of them had any family they needed to please or request permission of. Neither was overly religious, but if they wanted to make this a permanent arrangement, he thought they should do it both legally and in sight of whatever gods might be watching. "I want you, Aurelia," he explained simply, meeting her gaze and hoping she understood his heart. "I was not planning on doing it this way," he said, sighing and moving to one knee before her, her hands still clasped in his.

His simple turn of phrase was enough to make her heart skip a beat, her expression suddenly impossibly soft as she held his gaze. To see him then move to one knee made her gasp. "Then do not do it this way," she told him softly, her gentle expression warming with a tender smile as she leaned down to kiss him. "I love you, Ian. I did not think I was worthy of loving or being loved, until I met you. And I do love you, with everything I have."

But he had gathered his courage at last, and if he put it off any longer, he wasn't sure when he'd find the courage to ask her again. He was fairly certain of her answer, but there was still that little bit of fear, that she'd find some reason to deny or reject him. He drew courage from her kiss and from the warm smile on her face. She was so lovely, so graceful and poised, he felt clumsy and awkward beside her. What had he ever done to deserve her love? His heart skipped a beat when she finally told him of her feelings, though he had already guessed as much, since he felt the same, too. "Then be my wife, Aurelia. I know I don't have much to offer, but I love you, too, and I can no longer imagine my life without you." He brought her hand to his lips for a kiss, as tender and chivalric as any knight. "Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife, Miss Dupuis?"

Those dark eyes grew liquid with a sudden sheen of tears. She truly had never expected that he would want to stay, much less that he would want to marry her. It was a joy to hear, to know that he would not be asking her this if he did not love her. "It would be a very great honor to be your wife, Ian," she promised him. "Yes. Yes, I will marry you."

He laughed at his own foolishness, finding it easier in the long run to have asked her than he could have imagined. He'd practiced it in front of the bathroom mirror countless times and had never been happy with his words, but now that he'd asked her - and she'd agreed - he couldn't be happier. It was like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders and his heart felt as light as a feather. He was surprised to find tears reflected in her eyes to match his own and he laughed again at them both. "Look at us, like a couple of kids." It was then that they were both startled by the applause that broke out from a small group of students who'd gathered to watch what was taking place in the midst.

She jumped, startled by the sound of applause so close, looking around a little wildly until she focused on the students who were lurking nearby. Laughing at her own reaction, she turned back to Ian, capturing his face between her hands to kiss him once again, not even considering sparing his blushes in front of his students.

There were a few whoops from the small crowd, along with a few wolf whistles and some shouts of, "Go, Professor Evans!"

Ian did his best to ignore them, but it was an almost impossible feat and he found himself laughing, before his laughter was muffled by her kisses. He had no ring yet - at least, not on him - but that was easily enough remedied. There were still a lot of details to work out, but it seemed they had taken the first step toward sharing the rest of their lives together.

Giggling, Aurelia released him, easing back as the catcalls and wolf whistles rained down upon them. "I believe you may have just damaged your reputation by a few points," she teased him softly.

"Mmm, it may be hard to get them to take me seriously now," he whispered back at her, before turning to the gathered crowd. "All right. You've had your fun. Get on with the lot of you!" he warned, waving them off with an amused and happy chuckle.

"Ah, so I am bad for your reputation," she chuckled, rising back to her feet as he waved his students away. The reason for her initial visit had been completely forgotten now, lost in the unexpected wonder of finding herself engaged to marry a man who had completely stolen her heart.

He laughed again, as he moved to his feet with her. It never occurred to him how much more he was smiling and laughing these days, and it was all because of her. "Don't worry, love. My reputation could use a little tarnishing." He tucked her arm in his, as if nothing had just happened, smiling happily down at the woman who was going to be his wife. Woman, not demon. He had never seen that part of her and with any luck, never would. "Shall we go celebrate by defiling my office or do you have something else in mind?"

Love. One little word, one small term of endearment, and Aurelia lit up like a Christmas tree, tucking herself close against his side as she hugged his arm to herself. "I think that once we begin celebrating, we will not have the wish to dress again," she admitted cheerfully. "Take me home, Ian. Wherever you are, that is home to me."
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And so, he did. It wasn't a long drive to the house he was temporarily renting not far from the university. He hadn't really considered buying a home here or even looking for a permanent residence, until recently. He had a good job - the university paid him well. He was fairly well settled financially. It was just a matter of sorting out what the two of them wanted to do as a couple.

As for Aurelia, she had very little tying her in any one place. She was in the process of setting up a small business online, one that catered to real witches, providing certain specialized ingredients to those who could prove they were not demonically sourced, but that could be run anywhere. And the cabin ... she was happy to keep an eye on it, but she didn't think Rhys and Natalya would insist on her living there once they heard about this.

Ian had no idea what had happened at the cabin that would keep her from it, though he wanted her with him. It was just a matter of deciding where that would be. He unlocked the door and let her inside the small house that served as his home, quaint in its own way, but small and starkly furnished, as if he spent little time there. "Hungry?" he asked as he shut the door behind her and locked it again.

She smirked wickedly, turning to look at him as he locked the door. "I have appetite, certainly," she agreed with a quiet chuckle. "I sense, however, that you are referring to food."

"I have a feeling once we retire, we won't be getting up again for a long while," he pointed out. If they didn't eat first, they might not get to it again until morning. "I suspect you didn't come all the way here just for dinner." And there was the matter of a ring, but he'd get to that later.

Reminded of her ulterior motive, she smiled, relieved he knew her as well as he did. "You are right," she admitted reluctantly. "I found something in the cabin today, and I was wondering if you might be able to identify it for me." To be perfectly honest, she'd actually found an entire room that had been concealed behind a book shelf, but had brought only one thing from that room. Rhys' Dylan appeared to have had secrets of his own.

Ian flicked on a light as he moved through the small house, shrugging his tweed jacket off and dropping it carelessly on the back of a chair. He picked up the mail and started rifling through it, distracted from the task by her explanation. "In the cabin?" he echoed, arching a brow. "It isn't some kind of spider, is it? Arachnids aren't really my area of expertise," he teased, though seeing the serious look on her face, he sobered. Dropping the mail on a table near the couch, he turned to face her, giving her all his attention. "What is it?"

She laughed a little at his tease, but her hand had already delved into the depths of her bag, coming out with something palm-sized wrapped carefully in cloth. Setting her bag down, she moved over to him as she unwrapped the cloth, revealing a small bronze shield, engraved with two men riding a single horse beside a thorn tree. "This is what I found," she told him. "I am unfamiliar with the symbol."

He reached for the small half-wrapped item, handling it as gingerly as one might a rare and precious artifact, which it very well might be. He paused a moment to look it over, studying the engraving more than the shield itself. It wasn't the kind of shield one could actually make use of in battle, but more like a symbol, a sign, or a talisman of some sort. He recognized the symbolism of the thing, not even hesitating to reveal his thoughts, murmuring quietly in wonder, "Avalon." He ran a finger very carefully over the engraving, admiring the workmanship. There was no way to tell whether or not it was authentic without studying it further, but he thought he knew someone who could. "Where in the cabin did you find this?" he asked, his gaze, for the moment, riveted to the artifact.

"I was finishing cleaning the basement," she explained, not entirely sure she was supposed to have heard that quiet murmur. "I tripped, and fell against a bookshelf that moved out of the way, and there was a small room behind it. There was a sword in there, and a few files I did not look at. And that shield. I should have called Rhys, but I wanted to know if it is something he should know about before I did so."

He arched a doubtful eyebrow, though he had no reason to doubt her. As far as he knew, she had always told him the truth, and though he knew of Rhys and Nat's connection to Avalon, he wasn't sure why there would be a secret room in the basement of Dylan's house or how the shield had come to be there. "A sword? What kind of sword?" he asked, raising his head from his contemplation of the shield, which he thought might have served as a badge of some sort.

Gesturing, Aurelia managed to convey that the sword in question was at least three feet long. "It is, uh ... two handed, a ... bastard sword, I think it is called," she told him, trying to describe the weapon. "I could go and get it for you, if you wish to see it now. There is nothing truly remarkable about it, and I did not notice any aura of magic."

From her description, he got a fairly good picture in his head what kind of sword she was describing. He handed her the shield and reached for his briefcase, pulling out a pad of paper and pencil and scribbling a rough sketch of what she was describing. "Like this?" he asked once the crude drawing was finished. He wasn't a bad artist, though he might never make a living at it.

She watched as he sketched out a rough but accurate image of what she had described. "Yes," she nodded. "Oh, there is another engraving on the pommel of the sword. May I?" She took the pencil from him and carefully drew an equal armed cross, each arm splayed just a little.

He nodded his head, allowing her to take the pencil, arching a thoughtful brow at what she drew there. "That is a Templar Cross," he said, once she'd finished the drawing. He reached for her hand, to explain what was engraved on the shield. "See the two men riding the horse?" he asked, not needing to point them out. "That is a Templar symbol, as well. Templar Knights."

"Oh, I see." Well, no, she didn't see, not at all, as evidenced by the confusion that crossed her face. "Why would there be a Templar sword hidden away in the cabin of Rhys' former friend?" she asked, bewildered. "Or a symbol of the Templars? Perhaps it was a hobby of his?"
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Hidden away in a secret room in the basement? No, I think it's much more than a hobby. In fact, I know it is, but if I'm right..." He fell silent. It was getting harder and harder to keep his own secrets from her, much less those of the Champion and Priestess of Avalon. If only, he could take her there - then she would understand. Maybe the Lady could even extricate the demon from her, but it was too much to ask too soon. He'd been forbidden a return to Avalon, though his heart often yearned for it. "I think you will have to take me there before I can understand it fully."

She frowned, uncertain if she should. "Perhaps I should contact Rhys," she said quietly. "Would he know what this is about, though? The room was well hidden - if I had not forced the mechanism by falling, I would never have found it." She considered Ian for a moment, sensing she had lost him to academic interest for now. "Would you like me to take you there now?"

Part of him was filled with excitement, like a kid on Christmas morning, wanting to explore that room and the treasures that might be hidden there, even if all that was there was to find was a rusty relic. There were people who would kill for such things as this, if they knew, but it wasn't the sword or the shield that were so important as the mystery to which they were connected. As a scholar, Ian was always interested in a good mystery, especially one with a connection to Avalon. "No," he replied, after a moment, closing her hand back around the shield. "No, we'll go in the morning, and then we'll call Rhys." He'd call and have his T.A. take over his classes for a day or two. He was allowed such extravagances every now and then in the name of academia.

"But your work," she protested in concern, wondering now if she had done the right thing in bringing this mystery to him to decipher. "Your students will automatically assume that you are late to class because of me." She couldn't help smiling a little at that - such a rumor would certainly tarnish his reputation.

"This is more important than that," he told her. Or maybe it was just more interesting. "My assistant can handle a lecture or two in my absence. That what he gets paid for." He didn't bother to mention that this might require a visit from Rhys and his wife. How much longer was he going to be able to keep these secrets from her, he wondered with a sigh. "If I'm right, Rhys is going to want to know about this."

Aurelia studied him for a moment, reading his reluctance with a faint frown. "Then it is to do with the secret you all share," she guessed softly. "I should not go back into that room, then. And I will not." She smiled reassuringly, carefully wrapping the little shield once again.

"I trust you, Aurelia. I do, but it's not my place to trust anyone with this. It's not really my secret to share," he explained, which was mostly true. Though he had knowledge of Avalon and of the way there, he had only been there once and had been forbidden to ever return. It made him heartsick sometimes, especially when he woke in the middle of the night from dreams of the place and thought he was there, but at least he had Aurelia to help ease the pain. If only she wasn't half demon, but it didn't matter to him. He loved her just the same. He'd gone quiet again, as he mulled all that over, but he finally managed to push those thoughts from his head. "Anyway, you must be hungry, so let's see what we can dig up, shall we?" he asked, brightening. What did he have to complain about? She had made him the happiest man in the world by agreeing to be his wife, and he wasn't going to let anything or anyone stand between them, not even Avalon.

She smiled at his assurance that he trusted her, knowing he did in her heart. Rhys and Natalya trusted her, too, but as Ian said, it was not their secret to share with her. And she understood that, thanks to her upbringing. She could live with them keeping their secret from her, if only to keep the demon inside her from ever learning of something that appeared to be so powerful. As Ian changed the subject, she laughed softly, setting the wrapped shield back into her bag. "Are you not hungry also, Ian?" she pointed out warmly. "You forget, I know what your habits are now."

"And what habits might those be?" he asked, an easy-going smile on his face now that they'd changed the subject. Whatever mystery was awaiting them at the cabin would have to wait until morning. His gaze flickered to her purse for just an instant as she returned the shield there for safekeeping. Whatever she knew, the demon knew, but he was confident she had the demon well under wraps. It was another thing he wanted to discuss with Rhys, but it would have to wait for now.

"The one that immediately springs to mind is your apparent inability to remember to eat when you are busy," she teased him, stroking her hand against his cheek as she leaned close to kiss him briefly. "I hope you have at least stocked your kitchen this time." Stepping back, she slid out of her jacket, leaving it lying over his as she turned toward the kitchen.

He took his time returning her kiss, smiling a little as she slid out of her jacket. "Are you cooking, then?" he asked, as she turned toward the kitchen. There was a reason he was asking, but he didn't say what that reason was just yet.

"Unless you have other plans," was her reply, catching his smile from the corner of her eye. He was in an enticingly secretive mood today, she had decided - an unexpected proposal, and now asking whether or not she was going to cook.

"We could go out, but I think I'd rather stay in. What about you?" he asked, taking a lean against the counter while she made herself at home in his kitchen. He was no stranger to the kitchen and was himself a decent cook, but eating alone was a bit boring, and she was right about him often forgetting to bother.

She turned to face him, leaning one hip against the counter as she eyed him with fond suspicion, a small smile playing at her lips. "I think I would like to hear what you would like this evening, mon cœur."

"I," he started as he drew near, his arms reaching for her to draw her close, "would like to spend one quiet evening home alone with the woman I love. No students interrupting with their questions or colleagues with their problems. No television. No internet. No books. No phone. No mysteries of the universe to solve. No worries or troubles. Just you and me. Alone."

Aurelia smiled softly as he drew her into his arms, sliding her own about his shoulders as they lingered together. Though he hadn't quite answered the question about dinner, she couldn't fault his reply, gently touching the tip of her nose to his. "I think that sounds wonderful," she agreed with him, her rich accent warm with affection as her fingertips stroked through his curls. "And what would the man I love like to eat for dinner this evening, I wonder?"
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be fair, she hadn't asked what he wanted to eat exactly. She had asked what he would like that evening, and he had answered her question as honestly as he could. "I don't care so long as I'm with you," he replied, pressing his lips against hers to offer a warm and loving kiss that if he wasn't careful was going to lead to something that might delay dinner.

To be fair, she never resisted when he kissed her, not exactly much help when it came to preventing either of them from being distracted from the topic at hand. As his lips touched hers, she breathed him in, easing ever closer, answering his kiss with her own. In three months, they had not once reached a point where his kisses did anything but fire her blood and soften her heart in the same moment. She hoped they never reached that point.

He took his time kissing her yet again, like they had all the time in the world, living in the moment as he savored the sweetness of her lips. The moment didn't last very long, not nearly long enough, but now they had the rest of their lives to savor such moments. He broke the kiss after a moment, inhaling a slow breath as his forehead came to rest against hers. "I suppose we should make some dinner or we may not get to it until breakfast."

She breathed out slowly, opening her eyes to look up at him with the tender, gentle expression that belonged entirely to him. "I suppose we should," she murmured back to him, fingers still stroking through his hair as she smiled a little teasingly. "It is your kitchen. So what are we cooking?"

"Mmm," he murmured, seemingly in no real hurry, though his stomach was rumbling and reminding to eat. "You check the fridge, and I'll check the cupboard, and we'll see what we can come up with."

"That does sound like a plan," she agreed with a low chuckle, though neither of them seemed to be ready to let go of the other just yet. "You seem very confident that you have bought groceries this week."

"Or perhaps I'm just confident that together we are creative enough to throw something together," he countered. Failing that, there was always takeout, though if they waited too long, all the places that delivered would soon be closed.

She laughed softly, pressing a last kiss to his lips before beginning to reluctantly untangle herself from him. "Then we should start," she pointed out playfully. "Before we put your kitchen to an alternative use than it was built for."

"Like we never have before," he muttered to himself, just loud enough for her to hear him. He returned her kiss, just as reluctantly untangling himself from her to peruse the contents of his kitchen.

Chuckling at his muttered comment, Aurelia eased herself away from him with a flirtatious smile, turning to open the fridge and peruse its contents curiously. "So apart from not realizing when your colleagues have an interest in you, how was your day today?"

"Challenging," he replied with a sigh. It wasn't that he'd had a bad day, but the first few weeks of school were always a bit of a challenge, not only for his students, but for him. "My students seem to think this class is going to be an Easy A." The way he said it, it sounded like a direct quote. "Most of their knowledge of Arthurian Legend comes from movies and novels. I have to spend several weeks erasing all the nonsense from their heads before I can actually teach them anything, and even then, they believe it's only conjecture. It's difficult convincing some of them that mythology and legend has its basis in fact."

"It is a shame you do not teach magical theory," she teased fondly, investigating what looked like a packet of chicken breasts. "I could hide in your classroom and terrify your students whenever they get too uppity for you to handle."

He chuffed at her reply, chuckling a little. "This is Penn State, not Hogwarts. There are a few who take it seriously. The rest will, once they realize that binge-watching Camelot won't help them pass."

"What is Hogwarts?" she asked laughingly, emerging from the fridge with the chicken and eggs. Raising a brow as she set them down on the counter, she moved to join him at the cupboard, easing her arms about his waist as she rested her chin on his shoulder. "Please tell me you have rice."

"I have rice," he replied with a smirk, though he hadn't checked the cupboard yet. "You've never heard of Hogwarts?" he asked, brows lifting in curiosity as he pulled open a cabinet door to check for the requested item. "I keep forgetting that this isn't your Earth."

Her husky laugh touched his ear, knowing full well he had no idea what was in his cupboards. "Non, I do not have the first idea what a hog wart is," she assured him. "I assume it is some form of fictional magic school, given the context in which you brought it up." As he investigated his cupboards, her hands resumed their trek down the buttons at his front, undoing each in turn. She liked touching and seeing, after all.

He was all too aware of her hands working the buttons of his shirt loose. "We will never get to eating dinner this way, madam," he reminded her, though he made no move to stop her. He didn't really find himself to be anything special, and he wasn't quite sure what it was that she saw in him. Whatever answer he might have given her regarding Hogwarts was at least temporarily forgotten.

"Yes, we will," she countered cheekily. "You will simply have to restrain yourself." With his shirt open, she kissed his neck fondly before easing her arms back from him. "Rice, vegetables, these are the things we need."

"Restrain myself?" he echoed laughing. "I am not the one undoing buttons." He felt a little silly with his shirt open, like some cover model for a Harlequin Romance, though he knew he was not nearly hunky enough for that. Turning back to the cupboard, he somehow managed to locate a package of rice, though he was finding himself painfully distracted.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I cannot help it that I like to look at you," she pointed out cheerfully, disengaging herself to go on the hunt for vegetables of some kind. "If it would even the field, so to speak, I could remove my skirt." She flashed him a playful grin, knowing that wouldn't help his distraction at all.

"We could undress completely, but I don't think much cooking would get done." At least, not of the food variety. He turned back around and set the package of rice on the counter. "What did you have in mind? To cook, I mean!" he added quickly, before she got the wrong idea. He re-buttoned one of his buttons, mostly because he felt silly with his shirt open.

She laughed at his hurried addendum, finally locating a selection of vegetables to lay on the counter. She considered what they had put together thoughtfully. "We could glaze the chicken with something, and make special egg fried rice," she suggested, both brows raised as she looked to him. "What do you think?"

"Sounds like a plan," he replied in his gravelly-tone of voice with the English lilt. "Do you want to handle the chicken or the rice?" he asked, splitting the cooking chores up. They'd found fairly early on that they worked well as a team, and while some might not like sharing the kitchen, they both enjoyed cooking and seemed to like the company.

Again, Aurelia considered the selection, more than happy to trust him with either chore. They'd cooked for one another before they'd worked out that it was more fun to cook together. "I will take the chicken," she decided with a smile. She knew his spice rack, at least, was properly stocked. "It will stop me from feeling you up while we're preparing dinner."

He chuckled again, knowing he wouldn't put it past her to do just that. After all, she had already been groping him and trying to get his shirt off when all they'd been doing was debating what to make for dinner. "You can feel the chicken up instead," he teased back, as he went about retrieving vegetables from the fridge to chop up for the rice.

"That is the intention, yes," she laughed, moving in search of honey and a few other bits and pieces. Working together, it took barely half an hour to throw together their meal, each of them as comfortable in the kitchen as the other, confident that they could produce food that was not only edible but delicious. Thankfully, Ian had become accustomed to the sight of Aurelia removing trays from the oven without the use of gloves - that demonic blood of hers had its uses at times.

The first time she'd done it, he'd nearly panicked, but little by little, he was becoming accustomed to the small oddities about her that were only due in part to her use of magic. By the time dinner was ready, their collaboration had created what could only be considered another masterpiece of culinary creation. The table was set, and he'd managed to find a bottle of wine that just might pass her scrutiny.

She'd somehow managed to get his shirt unbuttoned again as well, but that was par for the course around his Belgian witch. He was lucky she wasn't sitting on his lap to eat. A quietly murmured spell produced lit candles on the table as she sat down with him, smiling innocently despite the fact that he knew only she could have done that. Raising her glass to him, her smile deepened as she offered a toast. "To our life together."

He didn't bother to re-button his shirt, since she was likely to see to it that it was unbuttoned again, and after a while, he relaxed and forgot about it. He made no remark about the candles, but knew her well enough by now to know that no matches had been needed. One thing was certain - life was certainly more interesting with Aurelia around. "I'll drink to that," he replied, lifting his own glass and clinking it gently against hers. "I suppose we will have to discuss wedding plans at some point," he said after taking a sip.

She shrugged, not entirely sure whether she wanted to agree or not. As a child, she had made big plans for a wedding day that had never come as she grew up, and now, on an Earth she still did not know too well, all she truly wanted was sitting right here with her. "I suppose we will," she agreed finally, sipping her own wine before setting the glass down. "Do you have anything you wish for?"

He arched a brow at her, wondering whether he had popped the question a little prematurely. "There's no rush, Aurelia, if you'd rather wait," he hurried to reassure her. It didn't really matter much whether it was a legal arrangement or not. He just wanted to spend the rest of his life with her and not traveling an hour back and forth to see her on weekends.

She shook her head with a soft smile. "It is not that, mon cœur," she promised him gently. "Even if we were on my own Earth, I would have no one to invite to such an event. Here, all I have are you, and Rhys and Natalya. I barely exist in this place. It is your home, your place to be. I would like to make you happy."

He shrugged as if none of this mattered. All that mattered was that he wanted to make her his wife and spend the rest of his life with her. "Then we ask Rhys and Natalya to witness our vows, and leave it at that. I don't need anything but you. You do make me happy, Aurelia. You are all I need or want." He had a few friends and colleagues, but like her, he had no real family to speak of. He hadn't spoken to his father in years and had no intention of doing so any time soon.

"You would not wish your friends to witness your marriage?" she asked him gently, aware that mentioning his father at this moment would probably destroy his mood. "I confess I do not know how to go about arranging a marriage in America. At home, it would be a case of paying for a license and waiting the legally required three weeks before being allowed to wed in a place of our choice."

"Colleagues, you mean," he corrected, as most of the people he knew were academics, like himself. He picked up his knife and fork to cut into the chicken and give it a try. He was no more American than she was. He knew how things were done back home in England, but he'd never needed to look into such things here. "I expect it's done the same way here, but we can find out."
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

She nodded, tasting their combined efforts herself with a triumphant smile for a meal well made. "I could hope for a shorter wait," she mused thoughtfully, dark eyes flickering to his beneath her lashes. "Three weeks seems an awfully long time when we have little to organize but ourselves."

"I doubt it's as long as that," he remarked, pausing a moment to savor the fruits of their combined labor. He smiled back at her, candlelight flickering between them. "I think we've stumbled on another masterpiece. Perhaps we should collaborate on a cookbook," he teased. Though it didn't occur to the absent-minded professor just yet, their question could be answered very quickly by doing a simple Google search.

She chuckled pleasantly around a mouthful, pausing to swallow before she answered him. "Would you have time for such a thing, professeur? After all, you are a very busy man. And once we are married, you may find yourself busier yet."

He arched a brow at her while he chewed and then swallowed a forkful of chicken. "Are you going to keep me up late nights so that I am falling asleep at my desk the next morning?" he inquired curiously, assuming he had a pretty good idea how she wanted to make use of his free time.

"Late nights, early mornings, unexpected lunch dates," she shrugged, her smile wide and teasing, but not exactly without promise. He knew her well enough to know she was not above shimmering in to surprise him. Aurelia could take risque flashing to an entirely new level if she set her mind to it.

He rolled his eyes at her remark, waggling an empty fork at her. "If you don't behave, you will ruin my sterling reputation." If it wasn't already ruined after what had taken place in the garden earlier that day. Thankfully, no one had heard what had gone on between them in his office, or so he believed.

"Somehow, I do not think your students will think any less of you for having a good sex life," she pointed out with a grin. After all, the reaction from the small group who had witnessed his proposal had virtually assured that. "As for your colleagues ... I am sure at least some of them know what their genitals are for."

He snorted in amusement at her remark. "Yes, well... we're scholars, not monks. At least, most of us." The university was a public research university, not a private college founded by any religious order. Most of his colleagues were married. He was, in fact, one of the few who was not.

"Then I see no negative impact upon your reputation should someone overhear something intimate," she assured him impishly. "Especially since you will be married to the person you are being intimate with."

"You are far too logical for you own good," he scolded, teasingly. "And far too female, I might add," he said with a smirk as he took up a forkful of fried rice. Though, of course, he wouldn't have wanted her any other way. "You would have made a fine academic yourself."

"Is it possible for your wife to be too female?" she asked him sweetly, laughing once more as he stated her academic qualities. "In a way, I am an academic," she admitted gently. "I research and study. It is simply my area of expertise that confuses the issue."

"And your lack of a student," he pointed out. Or students. He found himself wondering if she'd ever tried teaching her craft to anyone else. There were times when she seemed very young and others when she seemed ageless and timeless. Sometimes, it made him feel very old, though he was only in his thirties.

"I am my own student," she told him gently, and for possibly the first time since they had met, a soft blush touched her cheeks as she glanced down at her food. "And ... should we have a child, they would be my student, too."

"A child?" he echoed, obviously startled by that thought. It had never occurred to him that they'd have a child, that he'd ever be a father, but now that she'd mentioned it, he found his heart swelling with the desire to have a family, but only with her. "A son," he decided, though there was no way of choosing or knowing what the future held. "But we won't name him Arthur," he added with a small grin, reaching across the table to lift her chin to meet his gaze, charmed by the faint blush on her cheeks.

The gaze that met his was oddly shy for such a confident woman, but then, she had never truly considered herself ever having children, either. But there was true potential that now she would not be the last Dupuis to hold the family Book of Shadows. "Nor should we call him Mordred," she agreed quietly. "Ian ... if we have children, they will be witches. There is no preventing the magic from being passed on."

He arched a single brow at her, wondering why she was bringing this up now, as if it was a warning or that it might make him change his mind about her or about the prospect of children. "Yes, and?" he prompted, waiting for her to expound on that further.

"It is simply something you should know," she told him gently. "Thankfully, I only know of one child who displayed powers from the womb, but most children come into their primary power at around eighteen months old. But there are spells to bind powers until they are older, if that is something we decide to do."

She seemed to be getting ahead of things, and he rubbed at his temple as he tried to take it all in. He had only just proposed marriage, and she was already talking children, but he supposed this was just another inevitability that they needed to discuss. Whether their children were witches or mundanes didn't matter to him. Perhaps they'd even raise a knight or two of their own. Time would tell. There was only one thing that bothered him, and it was a very human kind of worry. "I am not a young man, Aurelia. If you truly want this, I don't think we should wait too long."

"I do not mean to put pressure on you, Ian, truly, but this is something you should know," she told him, leaning toward him as they talked. "They will not be demonic, but they will have magic in their blood. That is all I wanted you to know." She bit her lip, glancing at her glass for a moment before meeting his gaze once again. "I did not ever consider myself having children. But with you, I can see it happening. You will be wonderful father, Ian. I should very much like to see it, someday."

"No, I never thought I'd get married, much less have children," he replied, frowning at her thoughtfully. "Most women aren't interested in sharing their spouse with the ghosts of the past." Perhaps she was the exception.

"Most men are not interested in sharing their wives with magic," she countered in a soft voice. Her smile gentled as she held his gaze. "We each have our own pursuits, our own interests, our own studies. And we will make time for each other, Ian. You are not your father."

"No, I should hope not," he replied, more than a little vehemently. As passionate as he was about his career, he would not be like his father. The mention of the man was enough to dampen his mood, though he tried not to show it. "I suppose I should call and tell him the news," he mused aloud, though he hadn't spoken to the man in years.

"Or you could tell him after the fact," she suggested softly. "Do not give him an opportunity to upset you, mon cœur. Simply inform him that you are married, and leave it to him to decide if it is time to mend fences." She reached across the table to touch his hand. "We should be happy on that day, not concerned that bitter words may be spoken."

He considered her words and her wisdom, nodding his head in agreement. "You're right, of course. I'll call him and tell him after we're married." Whenever that was going to be. "We can look into the legalities tomorrow," he said, pausing a moment as a better idea came to mind. "Or we could just go to city hall and get a license," he added with a smile.

She chuckled softly. "Are you suggesting that we stop at city hall on our way to the cabin in the morning?" she asked, though it was patently obvious that was exactly what he was suggesting. "I think that is a marvelous idea."

"That's exactly what I'm suggesting," he replied with a grin. "Good, then it's decided," he said, taking up some more chicken and rice with a rather smug and rarely-seen grin.

"Bon, it is decided," she nodded back to him, pleased to see how easily he had risen from the dip in his mood. Turning her attention back to her meal, she could feel a rather knowing smile playing about her own lips. That look on his face was too good to resist, and yet she was trying to, if only to allow both of them to eat enough protein to get them through the night ahead.

He might not have noticed that knowing smile, but he knew her well enough to know it was going to be some time yet before they got any sleep, though it was likely they'd end up in bed together as soon as they were finished with dinner and the cleanup. In fact, he was counting on it. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day, but they had the rest of the night ahead of them, and he intended to enjoy it.

((Looks like the Lady did matchmake, whether she intended to or not. What is the secret Aurelia has stumbled upon? Will they be able to get married without Nat making a fuss? What will Rhys do when he finds out what Dylan was really up to? Stay tuned for the answers - eventually!))
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