Title: For Love or War

Author: silent figure

Chapter: Eleven

Author's Note: Here's yet another chapter for you all. Hope I'll have more out soon. Sorry I've just started college and it's pretty damn busy.

Disclaimer: Don't own the characters.

The ride home from the Ball had been silent for the stiffness that hung between Serenity and Minette was one so tangible that it even affected Jean and Zachariah. Jean was the only one who had attempted to make conversation, though his attempts failed miserably with a one or two word response from his cousin and his sister. He knew, something had happened at that ball and he was going to be damned if he did not find out. Of course he would get that answer after he got one from the leader of the whole expedition about why he was excluded. Finally the carriage came to a halt and peering outside the window Serenity was happy to finally be home and away from the Vardy prince. Hopefully, she would never see him again. The door was opened for them and the women exited followed by the men. "Serenity, can I have a word", Jean asked.

"After I have had one with your sister cousin", Serenity replied with a soft but forced smile.

"Alright", Jean said with a raised eyebrow and a clear look of confusion for which he made on purpose to get his cousin to acknowledge that not everyone was included in the understanding between Serenity and Minette.

Minette of course only averted her eyes from all at the mention that she was to be spoken to by Serenity. Probably to be chastised for her actions with the Vardy man. Shame washed over her at the thoughts of her forbidden activity with Marian, the Vardy. Serenity ignored her Cousin Jean's look that indicated he wanted in on the secret between Minette and Serenity. Together the group walked into the home and was greeted by Artemis. "You are very lucky you've come home when you have. You all should change into clothes that actually are fitting of taking a night ride before anyone see's you. And then you each should join your parents in the family room", Artemis suggested though what he was saying came out as more of an order.

The younger generation all nodded their heads and set about to do as he had said. Though, Serenity forced her cousin Minette to change in her room. Before entering into her room Serenity checked to make sure Melita was no where to be seen. Once she figured it was all clear she pulled her cousin into the room with her and shut the door behind her. "I told you not to go near him", Serenity started the conversation off chastising her cousin.

"I didn't know Serenity, I swear. I just thought that you didn't want me running around with just some man", Minette replied looking down in embarrassment as she sat on Serenity's bed.

"What exactly did the two of you do", Serenity questioned coming to sit beside Minette who refused to look at her.

Minette could not bring herself to reply. Serenity sighed and asked, "How far did it go?"

"Much too far", Minette finally worked up the nerve to reply. Her eyes slightly glancing at her cousin before turning back towards the ground, her mind replaying the events of the night over and over in her mind.

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The kiss was a spark to their fire as his hands roamed up and down her back. He turned her around and pushed her back against the marble wall that surrounded the fountain on three sides. Lifting his lips from hers he trailed them down the side of her neck. She tilted her head back to give him access, all the while her hands untying the strings that held his cape to his shoulders. That fell to the ground unnoticed by the passionate couple. One of his hands wound itself in her hair and forcibly brought her lips back to his. As their tongues fought for dominance she guided his hand and led it to the slit in her skirt, causing even him surprise by her boldness. In truth, neither knew how far this would go. And the wild part of her told her she wanted it to go all the way, the other half telling her that the two could easily get caught and the indecency of the situation would have quite an effect on her reputation. However, her cautions were thrown to the wind when she felt him slide her shoulder strap down causing her dress to slide further down to her waist, her breasts exposed to him. His lips did not take long to explore her curvatures. After he had his fill his mouth found hers again. She felt her body move of its own accord to remove him of his jacket and to her surprise he allowed her to pull his white long sleeved shirt up over his shoulders. Her hands explored his musculature for which she found him to be a perfect male specimen. All the while his hand slid expertly up her thigh and bunched the rest of her gown up to her hips. After his actions she returned his boldness by untying the strings that held up his pants. He plunged into her only a moment later with such a force that it drew a gasp of surprise.

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Minette opened her eyes for what happened next was as old as time and though she regretted whom she spent it with, it was still the best time she had ever had. "I bedded him Serenity", Minette finally allowed herself to admit.

Minette flinched as she heard Serenity's intake of breath expecting a huge reprimand. "Well then…we shall tell no one of this. So long as you never see him again", Serenity replied sympathetically.

Minette's head snapped in the direction of Serenity her eyes revealing her utter shock at Serenity's reply. "You are my best friend Mina do you honestly think I'd betray you over this", Serenity asked in response to Minette's surprise, going so far as to call Minette by her childhood nickname.

"But the severity of what I did, Serenity surely you must understand it", Minette responded.

"I do. But I forgive it, we may be immortal, but we are in some ways still human. Mistakes do happen to vampires. Now quit punishing yourself", Serenity replied patting her cousin's leg.

Minette then hugged her cousin squeezing in all her gratefulness for Serenity. "Thank you cousin", she said before kissing Serenity's cheek.

Serenity nodded her head, feeling guilt inside for though she had not gone as far as Minette did with a Vardy, she had still done something forbidden with one. That kiss had not left her mind all night and in her she felt a shame for having letting it happen that was somewhat akin to Minette's. "Go change and meet us downstairs", Serenity stated getting up and heading over to her dresser so that she could change into more comfortable clothes.

"Ok", Minette said in return as she stood up and walked over to the door, opening it she checked to make sure no one was approaching so as to see her in her costume, "Oh and Serenity how about tomorrow night I repay you. I know a place we could go to and relax, you'd love it. I found it last time we visited. Haven't told anyone about it, except you."

"Sounds good", Serenity agreed to the idea. She needed a break from all this activity around her. The past few weeks had been one event right after the other and if it wasn't eventful then she would be stuck in the house bored out of her mind. Knowing Minette she probably had found a beautiful scenic place. Sighing she walked over to her vanity and sat down looking herself over in the mirror. Carefully she slipped off her tiara and placed it on the open box in front of her, her hands lightly grazing the dangling moon. Her hair was a little disheveled though surprisingly her curls were still in tact. Skillfully she unbuttoned her lovely silver corset and pulled it from her chest, her chest rising, taking in the air it had previously been denied because of the restraint. Standing up, she walked the corset over to her bed and slipped her white dress off after she unhooked the back that held it up. She let it pool at her feet and as she stepped forward she felt something strange, almost like another person's presence. One she was familiar with, but for some reason she could not pin point. Looking around her she extended her senses and found that none but her was in the room. Quickly she changed into a pair of trouser's and a woman's blouse before exiting her room. She did not like feeling like she was being watched by someone, especially when all her senses told her she was alone. Quickly she walked down the stairs and joined the rest of her family in the family room. Everyone was spread out on the sofas and chairs around the fire, including all of her cousin's. "Took you long enough, I swear you're like a turtle Serenity", Jean jested.

"I have a long life I have no need to rush", Serenity shot back with a smile as she came to sit at her favorite place. Her father sat in a grand chair on the left of the fire place and always she sat on the floor with her back at his legs. As a child when they had family gatherings she would sit there closest to her father because she feared the people whom she only barely knew at the time. His powerful legs were comforting at her back and they were closest to the fire, and though she had no use for heat, the warmth of the fire still felt good upon her pale skin.

"So did you all enjoy your ride", her father asked the younger generation of his family, his eyes briefly scanning on the three siblings who were spread about the room. Minette was sitting on the arm of the chair her father occupied, opposite of Victor, and on the couch between the two grand chairs sat Gina with her two sons on either side of her.

"Yes, Uncle it was rather invigorating and lively", Jean stated catching Serenity's glare of warning.

He simply smiled slyly. "Oh? And how was a ride so invigorating and lively", asked Gina with curiosity.

Zachariah, Minette, and Serenity were all staring at their blood related fiend hoping that he wouldn't tattle on them simply out of spite for not having been invited. "We ran into a few obstacles that we had to jump over", Jean stated his double meaning reaching the three members of his family who knew the truth of the night's events.

"So…anyway father how was your night? What did you all do", Minette interrupted deciding that she would rather not play this game with her devilish brother. Vladimir raised his eyebrow in suspicion for he knew the workings of his children. Jean was taunting his siblings and cousin because he knew something that neither Vladimir, Gina nor Victor knew, most likely something that the others did not want the family to know.

"Very fine, your uncle and I had a conversation with the war council. We have decided that you Zachariah and you Jean are old enough to start participating as well", Vladimir replied with a hint of pride in his voice as he looked upon his two sons.

The two men looked at each other briefly with a smile, containing their excitement. To be on the war council was to have a direct say upon the families actions. It meant that they would come into roles of leadership and be able to partake in battle. "I am older than Jean and yet I do not get to partake", Minette questioned angry at having being left out.

Serenity stood up, angered for Jean was the very same age as her. "Am I not the heir should I not learn the workings of the family. Someday father it will be I who will execute all the decisions made by the council", she argued.

Both of the men looked upon each other for they had not expected anger from their daughters. "Serenity, you have had more training than any of your other siblings, you have sat at the council's table, but you cannot partake just yet. Your journey and training shall be harder and will take more time than your cousin's. My brother took his place in the council before even I did. A ruler cannot come upon decisions as easily as a council member can, the weight of his or her people is on their shoulders", Victor replied calmly as he took his daughters hand, his eyes asking her to calm down and sit where she was before.

"Minette you have displayed no interest in the war council, your eyes have always been set upon fashion and such. So I deemed that you would be as your mother and take a place in the family outside the council. If your wishes are otherwise then in time after I have seen that you are ready to join then you will", Vladimir spoke for his daughter.

Minette sighed and took her seat. "I am interested father", Minette replied seriously, only Serenity understanding the look of anger in Minette's eyes. It was her want for revenge over her embarrassment. Vladimir just nodded his head in approval as his answer of acceptance.

Once all had returned to their seats Gina patted her son's legs before saying, "Should you two not be proud and happy for these boys?"

Serenity's eyes caught Minette's and for that moment they both shared each other's shame. To become a member of the council was something every one of them had been looking forward to for as long as they could remember, it was something only privileged to the brightest and strongest of the family, the greatest honor apart from being the leader of it. "You're right Aunt Gina", Serenity replied with an apologetic before turning to her two cousins and saying, "congratulations."

The two men nodded their head in thanks. "Yeah congratulations", Minette followed reaching over and throwing a light punch to Zachariah's shoulder, a smile on her face.

"Is there any other announcements to be made father", Serenity questioned tilting her head back to look up at her father.

"Other than you have another tutoring session with Artemis tomorrow night, no", Victor replied ignoring his daughter's look of disappointment and annoyance at having to sit through more lectures.

Serenity ran a hand through her hair and grumbled under her breath in exasperation, "Damn."

"Minette you will as well since you are starting to take the politics and strategies of our family more serious", Vladimir continued.

Minette's form slumped and she was about to open her mouth to complain, before promptly closing it having realized that complaining would not get her on the council. "Good now that that is settled perhaps a story", Gina suggested looking around the room of her family.

"Mother we are not children, we do not need a good night tale to soothe us to sleep. We are all older than many adult humans", Jean complained with a groan.

"Oh come on son we've had discussions of only battles and dreary things or much worse gossip since we have come here. Perhaps a story is better fitted for family time", Vladimir said receiving a grateful smile from his wife.

"And maybe our darling Minette can sing us a song", Victor suggested looking upon his niece with a fond smile.

She rolled her eyes and looked over to her cousin. "Only if I sing it before the story chosen tonight is told and only if my darling cousin sings it with me", Minette bargained.

Serenity sighed and replied to her cousin, "Are you so afraid to sing alone that you must drag me into this?"

"No, I just tire of all the attention I get for my voice capabilities when you cousin are just as talented if not more so", Minette replied in a sickeningly sweet voice so as to effectively irritate her cousin.

"Already your diplomatic skills are showing through, you have a deal", Victor replied with a laugh.

"And I have no say", Serenity asked looking up at her father in shock at having been left out of making her own choice for her.

"Darling, you are still my child and until I am gone from this Earth then I will have a say over your life", Victor replied thus receiving laughter from all around the room.

Serenity crossed her arms and replied haughtily, "You will have no say when I am Queen."

"Even then I will still be your father and an elder at that, I will definitely have a say", Victor countered with an arched brow.

Serenity gave a huff before turning her back to her father. Though she was frustrated slightly at her father's jesting she felt her heart squeeze at his words. All in the room knew that no ruler of either the Vardy or Rumini had ever lived to reach an eldership since the war had begun. All laughed but Serenity at his words. Her mind just drifted over her loss of her mother, her impending loss of her father, and how when he was gone she would follow, unless the war ended. Having noticed Serenity's discomfort Gina quickly spoke up, "Well how about that story? What shall it be?"

"I want to hear about Nero's pregnancy", Jean suggested his eyes a light with mirth for the comedic story was about an Emperor of Rome known for his violence who wished to know what pregnancy was like.

"No that is a poor story. Perhaps the story about Julius Caesar and Mark Antony", Zachariah suggested.

"It's so boring and we've heard it a hundred times, besides if we wanted that story we'd read historical books and Shakespeare's play", Minette complained with a groan as she thought of the story.

"Then you think of something better", Zachariah challenged his sister with a glare before continuing, "oh wait it'd just be a silly little romance story that has no point."

"Romance stories have points Zachariah. They are moral stories about life and love. Not omens, honor, glory, and death like you men so like to have it", Minette shot back at her brother.

"Oh and what story would you choose tonight dear sister", Jean questioned his chin placed in his palm as he starred at her in mock anticipation.

"The story of Cupid and Psyche", Minette replied simply as if the choice for all of them was clear.

All of the men in the room gave a groan of dread. "What is wrong with that story", Minette questioned her brother's in surprise.

"Ugh it's dreadful that is what is wrong with it. Stories like that make a man want to hang himself", Jean replied.

"Alright, alright enough children, you may be older than a normal human being but you act as their adolescents do", Gina intervened having had enough of her children's bickering.

"Serenity, why don't you choose? You usually have tastes that fit all of us very well", Vladimir suggested having noticed that Serenity was the only of the younger generation who kept out of the argument over the story.

"Yes Serenity what story shall it be tonight", Gina continued for her husband in agreement with his decision to have Serenity decide.

All in the room looked upon her with interest. "How about….Ivantie and Camelia", Serenity suggested having thought of no other story.

"It does have intrigue, glory, gore, and romance", Gina said clearly agreeing with the idea and trying to persuade her two sons who had looked as though they were not so sure whether or not to agree with Serenity's choice.

Having heard the gore and glory part both Zachariah and Jean promptly agreed to listen to the story. "And now ladies our song", Victor said changing the subject so as to get their entertainment for the night on the way.

"I don't want to do a long one Mina", Serenity said to her cousin using her cousin's nickname.

"We can do that English one that has been around for a long time. It's very short", Minette replied.

"Oh come now ladies, we'd love to hear your lovely voices and we'd love to hear them for longer than a minute", Gina said asking without directly asking the women to find a longer song.

"How about we sing that one song I wrote and showed you", Serenity suggested having just thought of the only musical inspiration she had ever had.

"I thought it wasn't finished", Minette questioned with a raised eyebrow, knowing what her cousin was talking about.

"It isn't, but it is short enough for us and long enough for them", Serenity replied with a shrug of her shoulder's having caught the other question in Minette's eyes. The song Serenity wrote had been shown to no one but her.

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The two girls fled from the tormenting boys who looked to be teenager's who were trying to catch up to them. The two ran into the garden giggling at their families attempts, finally they were able to lose the boys. Minette turned to her younger cousin and asked, "So what is it you wished to show me before we were so rudely interrupted?"

Serenity laughed as she thought of how she was going to show Minette her private diary. In it held all of her writings and secrets. To her misfortune her boy cousins now knew of its existence on account of the fact that they had been listening through her door way while she had revealed it to Minette. Before she had been able to show Minette the contents of her diary the boys had burst in demanding to know what it was she was going to show Minette. Denying them the opportunity to do so lead to the escape of the two girls who took off at a run from their chasing family members. "Well", Minette questioned getting impatient, for though they had lost the boys she was sure they would catch up.

Serenity who had been clutching her diary to her chest loosened her grip and opened it to a particular page. "It's a song I wrote. It's about my mother, I just wanted to know someone's thoughts on it", Serenity stated somewhat hesitantly before handing the diary to Minette.

Silence encompassed them for what felt like eons to Serenity as Minette read it. Finally Minette looked up and said in astonishment, "Serenity this is really good."

"I've always felt like this is what she would say to me if she could say it to me now", Serenity continued a small smile gracing her lips.

"I think you're right Serenity", Minette replied sincerely closing the book and handing it back to her cousin.

"It's not finished though. I want apart of it to be about me and that's what I find hard to finish", Serenity said her hands skimming the pages of her diary with a gentle fondness.

"I know it will be beautiful Serenity", Minette said placing a hand on her cousin's shoulder gently. She felt a pang in her heart for her cousin and friend. Though she had only known her mother for four years of her long life, the death of the Queen had still been a harsh blow to the girl.

"What will", Jean's mischievous voice questioned startling the two girls. Both screamed in amusement before taking off thus starting another game of chase.

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"It's fine cousin I don't mind singing it", Serenity whispered to her cousin placing a hand on her shoulder to show that Serenity was fine with it.

"Ok", Minette said revealing how unsure she was about going through with singing something so private.

"Do you remember the words", Serenity questioned suddenly having realized that it been around 70 years since her cousin had last seen the diary that held the song.

"I do. Remember a vampire never forgets what they've seen once", Minette replied assuring her cousin that she had not forgotten something so precious.

"Well are the two of you ready or are you two just going to whisper to each other all night", Victor asked his impatience clear.

"We are", Minette said to him before turning to her cousin and saying, "I will play the piano since I am better at it than you are."

Serenity rolled her eyes and followed Minette around the couch to where the family piano sat. She watched as Minette sat down on the stool and lifted the covering to the piano keys. "How do you know what to play", Serenity questioned suddenly remembering that she had never written music to go along with her lyrics.

"I have an idea. You can always stop me if it feels wrong", Minette replied with confidence as she pressed her fingers upon the keys.

"You lead", Minette managed to whisper as her hands began to flow across the piano.

Serenity closed her eyes and she began to sing, "Time is a river that flows endlessly. And a life is a whisper, a kiss in a dream."

Minette joined in on the next line of the song, "Shadows dance behind the firelight and all the spirits of the night remind us: We are not alone. Tomorrow: a sun soon rising and yesterday is there beside us and it's never far away."

All in the room except the two girls sat in wonder as they listened to the beautiful song. The two hit a crescendo and their lovely voices grew stronger, "If you listen to the wind you can hear me again. Even when I'm gone you can still hear the song. High up in the trees as it moves through the leaves."

Their voices quieted as they continued the last lines of the song, "Listen to the wind, there is no end to my love is forever a circle unbroken. The seasons keep changing; it always remains."

The sound of the piano died after they had finished and for a moment everyone in the room felt something strange rise within them. Like a presence that had long been missing was there with them. And just as that feeling had come so did it leave. Gina was the first to speak, "That was absolutely lovely girls. Minette was right Serenity. Your voice rivals her own, if only you would sing at balls more often."

A blush stained Serenity's cheeks as she looked down. "I'll leave that to Minette", Serenity replied with a nervous laugh.

"Oh but the world is missing out of seeing such a marvelous talent. Do you not think it a waste", Vladimir asked with a smile.

"Why I remember when we were young and Victor, Vladimir, and I all traveled to Rome for which the most beautiful voices I had ever heard sang", Gina said with a small smile of remembrance, "one of which was your mother Serenity. She shone more beautifully and sung far better than all others there. She was truly a wonder to behold. In fact that is when all of us first met her."

Serenity smiled sadly and looked down at her hands, knowing that any word of her mother would bring pain to her father. She could feel his legs tense up against her back and knew that though his eyes showed nothing that any of her relatives could see, his body told her everything. "She would be proud if she heard you sing today my dear. You are so much like her", Gina said realizing that subject should be closed having seen the look of sadness cross Serenity's face.

"Thank you aunt, it truly means a lot to me", Serenity replied in all sincerity for there was no compliment that could match that one in Serenity's eyes.

"Now can we get on with the story", Victor asked breaking the nostalgic atmosphere in hopes of getting away from such a tender subject.

"Very well, now where should I start", Gina replied with a look of contemplation on her face.

"How about once upon a time", Minette replied with a soft smile which caused her brother's to roll their eyes.

"And continue with in a kingdom far far away then our sister shall have her fairy tale", Jean said with a laugh which received a hit to the back of his head from his father.

"That'll do", Gina replied with a shrug before starting the story the family had chosen, "In a time long ago before there was ever a war between the Vardy's and Rumini's there was another war. One where our people were united against one enemy, humans. Human witches as they call them and one of the most powerful and beautiful witches of this time was a woman named Camelia. Her greatest talent and greatest achievement lie in her abilities with potions. And around her time there was a great vampire, one whom was a prince. He was the most cherished of his kind for his looks surpassed all others and his strength went unmatched. His name was Ivantie and this is their story…."

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Dark midnight blue eyes glared into icy blue ones. Endymion finally having had enough of the silence that fell between the two men slammed his hand against the table for which his cousin was sitting at. "How can you say nothing? Do you not know what you have done", Endymion demanded his voice harsh and his eyes deadly.

"I know the consequences of my actions and I accept them", Marian replied with no hint of emotion in his voice.

"How can you be so careless cousin? Does your life not matter to you at all? Do you not realize that should I tell father of your actions there could be severe consequences, one which may involve the loss of your life", Endymion questioned angry that his cousin thought solely of himself.

"What I did was shameful so I will accept my due punishment", Marian replied simply.

Endymion sighed and ran a hand through his hair before saying, "I will not let you die over something as trivial as taking a Rumini woman to your bed. So I order you silent on this matter, however, answer me this."

"What", Marian replied showing no change in attitude despite the fact that he had just been granted his life.

"How could you not know who she was? Are her features not distinctly Rumini", asked Endymion with a raised brow.

"I knew what she was cousin, just not who. That's why I followed her, she sought me out for some reason. I did not expect what happened to happen, I merely had hoped to find out her intentions. I let lust get the best of me. Now, if you'll excuse me cousin I have some business to do", Marian replied vaguely before getting up and walking out of the room, slamming the door on his way out.

Endymion sighed for he knew that Marian was angry at himself and would never show it in front of his liege. To talk about it would only cause Marian to become more distant and evasive than before and the family had worked hard into making the man open to his own family. A soft knock on the door interrupted his thoughts and he answered for whomever to come in. The door opened and in slipped Rayeanna with a look of concern on her face. "What are the two of you arguing about? Is whatever it is the reason we left so quickly from the ball", Rayeanna questioned.

"It is and do not worry yourself over it sister", Endymion replied simply before turning around and facing her.

"The sun shall be up soon perhaps it is best you retire early and get some sleep. I know you and Marian have that long ride ahead of you tomorrow night", Rayeanna said gently as she laid her hand on her brother's shoulder.

"I think for once you have given me some good advice", Endymion replied with a hint of a smirk on his lips.

"I have always given you good advice you just pick and choose what is more favorable to you", Rayeanna shot back.

Endymion chuckled before patting his sister's shoulder and leaving the room knowing she would follow him out. "You worry me you know", Rayeanna said.

"And pray tell me why that is", Endymion asked turning around to face his sister seeing from her face that she was in earnest.

"For a few weeks you have seem changed. Your eyes are distant and your face is solemn. Something is bothering you brother and I wonder as to what it is", Rayeanna replied sincerely wishing to go no further with the prodding for she knew the exact time the change had occurred, the night the Rumini woman had escaped.

She hooked arms with him as the two walked down the hallway towards the stair well to the Royal families chambers. "It is nothing", Endymion replied showing no hint that he thought otherwise.

"Do not lie to me brother. I know you better than anyone and I know something is on your mind. Or perhaps is it…someone", Rayeanna ventured.

Endymion halted their walk and turned to her with a look in his eye that surprised Rayeanna. She had never seen his eyes look so dark. "What is it", Rayeanna questioned somewhat fearfully.

"There is no one or nothing Rayeanna now leave it alone", Endymion growled before stalking off leaving his sister shocked.

"But everything tells me it is someone brother", Rayeanna muttered to herself as she watched her brother turn into the stair well and head off to his room. She sighed before following his lead; the sun would be up soon.

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"Alright, alright enough boys it's time we all go to bed. The sun shall be up", Vladimir yelled through the racket of the boys wrestling with one another. The story had just ended the three siblings had once more argued, only this time on whether or not the story was a romance, horror, or epic legend. The boys had gone so far as to name call and thus they now wrestled.

"When will you ever grow up and act accordingly. Be more like your sister", Gina reprimanded her children.

"You mean sappy, childish, and featherheaded", Zachariah asked his mother with a smirk.

"I think you are speaking of yourself brother", Minette shot back as she crossed her arms with a humph.

"No he is definitely speaking of you", Jean said before Zachariah could argue. The group started laughing and Minette threw one of the pillows of the couch at her brothers.

"Enough, enough let us go to bed children. Babysitting for over 80 years wears on our generation wouldn't you say Victor", Gina questioned her brother in law as she fanned herself with her hand.

"Indeed it does", Victor replied though his reply came across as though he had not really been paying attention.

"Good night uncle, cousin", Minette said giving her cousin a hug before leaving her brothers and parents in toe, echoing their sentiments to their other family members.

"You should get going as well Serenity", Victor suggested looking down at his daughter who still sat at his feet.

"Only if you will", Serenity said in return leaning her head against her father's leg and looking into the fire.

He patted her head. "You have no need to worry about me my dear. I won't be going anywhere anytime soon. I will see you ascend the throne", Victor said sincerely as he laid a hand on his daughter's shoulder.

"What makes you think I worry about that father", Serenity questioned already knowing the answer.

"I felt you tense up when we spoke of the future. I lost my parents early and you have already lost one of yours, it seems to be a family tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation since the beginning of this war. You are aware and it bothers you. But I do promise you I shall be here", Victor said soothingly as he laid a kiss upon her head.

Serenity grabbed her father's hand and squeezed it. "I'm sorry to have chosen a story that reminded you of her. I know it's still…hard", Serenity half whispered.

"You don't need to concern yourself over that Serenity. You are the very image of her and I am reminded of her everyday when I look upon you. But if I were to break then your mother would not be proud as I would have her, she'd be disappointed. It would be easy dearest and you'll quickly learn that just because it is easy, it doesn't make it right. Now off to bed with you", Victor replied his voice only hinting that his words came from a deeper place.

"I love you father", Serenity said standing up as he did and embracing him making sure to give him an extra squeeze.

"And I love you daughter. Now get some rest for you will need energy for god knows what trouble you shall cause tomorrow night", Victor said in return giving her a squeeze in return before pulling away from their embrace.

"Oh but I never get in trouble", Serenity jested with a smile as she opened the door to the family living room.

"My dear you are the cause of it", Victor replied shooing her with the wave of his hand as he sat back down in his chair and picked up a book by the fire place Serenity hadn't noticed.

Looking upon her father she wondered how he found it in himself to survive everyday without his wife. Everyone knew that her mother had been the love of his life, a true love as they would say. Melita had told her stories of how her father had been broken upon hearing the news of the loss of his Queen. For days he had refused to feed or be seen. Until his own brother had gone into his rooms and literally punched him reminding him that his deceased wife would not want Victor to forget his child or forgo his duties. Only once had he ever hinted at the true importance of her life to him. When she was little she had gone out playing and had stayed out almost until the sun came up. The timing had been so close that they said if she had stayed in the open a minute longer she would have died. Her father had taken her in his arms and squeezed the life out of her. Closing her eyes as she rested her head against the edge of the door way she heard his words over again, "Do not ever do that again! Do you not know you could have lost your life? You are all that I have left. If I were to loose you, I would have nothing child. Nothing! Don't scare me so." She remembered the strength he had used to hold her and the feel of him shaking in fear. It was the only time she had ever seen him scarred. While he had said he had been frightened when she had escaped the Vardy's he had not shown the fear, just the relief. Melita, however, had told her of how he had gone on a rampage and had set out to go after her only to be held from doing so by his lords of war. They had decided to draw up plans for a rescue instead of just jumping right into it. Serenity brought herself back from the realm of thought when she heard her father turn a page of his book. "Good night", she whispered knowing that her words would reach his ears before closing the door behind her and heading up the stairs to her bed.