I apologize for the uber short chapter. I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.
In the early morning hours about two months after we've returned from the Connors', a loud pounding at the door startles us awake. I crawl from bed and hurry down the stairs to the door, opening it to see Meg. Her face is solemn and pale. Something is terribly wrong. "Meg, what brings you here at such unsightly hours? Is everything all right?" She doesn't speak but lowers her gaze to the ground. As it begins to rain, I can see the tears in her eyes. "Come inside, out of the rain, Madam, before you catch your death." I take her arm and pull her into the warmth of mine and Kiera's home. She takes the seat I offer to her and continues to stare at the ground. "I'll start a fire and bring you a blanket and some hot tea." Slipping to the fire place, I start a nice blaze, put on some tea, and wrap a blanket around the young Madam's shoulders. Once her drink is ready, I hand it to her, studying her features as she drinks it slowly.
"Erik." Kiera comes into the room, glancing at Meg as she nears me. "Why on earth is Meg here so early? She should be home with Michael and James." Stealing another look at Madam Chablon. "She looks horrible...like she's just lost the person most dear and near to her."
"Erik...Kiera...I'm sorry for waking you this early, but I felt it my obligation to inform you of the tragic news I have just recieved." She takes a deep breath. "My mother passed away in the night. She fell ill a few weeks ago and only worsened in condition. The doctors said she wouldn't last very long, but I held on to hope...useless hope. She thought of you as a son, Erik. You and I are the only true family she had left. Christine is mad with jealousy for Kiera and never leaves the de Changey mansion. I saw no point in telling her."
"Oh, no." Kiera gasps, covering her mouth with one hand. "Meg, I'm sorry." She takes a seat beside the blonde-haired, former ballet dancer. "Are you going to be all right?"
"I think so, but I think the question is: are you going to be all right? Kiera, I didn't want this to happen." Meg finally releases her tears, crying into Kiera's shoulder. "I was hoping that it wouldn't happen until after your baby was born, but..."
"Meg...Meg...calm down. It's fine. Please, you had no control over this. Don't blame yourself." Kiera tries to calm her with a soothing voice and comforting words.
"Kiera, I just can't believe she's gone! She's always been there for me! Always! And now, she's gone forever! How will I tell James? He loves her so! I don't know what I'm going to do!" Meg is wailing by now, uncapping her sorrow.
"She's not gone forever; you'll see her again. She's in a better place...a place that you'll rejoin her in when the time has come. This is not the end of the world, Meg. Be strong for James and Michael."
I cannot make myself utter a word, as I am trying to contain my own sadness. I can feel tears welling in my eyes, and I'm trying my best to keep them from falling. My hands are shaking, so I tighten them into fists. Kiera turns to me, tears in her eyes. It is easy to tell that she requires my assistance in soothing Meg. Mouthing my name, she beckons to me for help. "Meg, Kiera's right. Madam is in a far better place."
After an hour, Meg is composed enough to leave. She thanks us both for our condolences and departs, promising to send us the location of the funeral and what time. She mounts her horse and turns away from our home.
"Maman? Papa?" Donato's voice draws our attention to the foot of the stairs once we return to the shelter of our home. "Is Madam Giry dead?" He sits on the bottom step, staring up at us with misty eyes.
Kiera sits down beside him and puts her arm around him, pulling him close to her side. "My son, Madam is in a far better place...Heaven." She kisses the top of his head. "You understand, don't you?" He nods and buries his face into her chest, crying softly. "Hush, now. Dry your tears. Do you think she'd want you to cry over her?"
"No, Maman," he replies, trying to banish his tears.
"Madam Giry would not want you to shed tears of sadness and sorrow for her." I pick him up and wipe away a few tears on his cheeks. "Better now?" He nods again and rests his head against my shoulder. "You need to be getting back to bed."
"Erik, let's all sleep on the sofa tonight," Kiera suggests. "This way we're all here to comfort each other."
I comply and sit down on the sofa, Donato on one side of me, and Kiera on the other. I wrap my arms around them and drift to sleep with my family.
A message arrives from Meg the next morning with the funeral details. It is to be held at the little chapel outside of Paris where Kiera and I were married tomorrow morning at ten o'clock. "I want to go, but I don't think I should, Kiera." I drop the note onto the kitchen table as Donato eats breakfast.
"Why not?" she asks, pouring a cup of water. "Erik, she was like a mother to you."
"But, darling, you're on bedrest and cannot go. What if you go into labor while I'm gone? "
"I'll be fine; besides, Ariela is coming to visit. I'm sure she would not mind staying until you returned," she argues, sipping her water. "Please, Erik, pay your final respects to her, and take Donato along. He needs to tell her his goodbyes, and I believe he made something to give to her." Donato says "yes" and goes back to eating.
"Very well." At last, I agree with her. Why I even bother to try to argue with her, I may never know; she will win either way it goes.