A/N: I know I said I wouldn't do another BMT fanfic...or a sequel...and yet here I am! I hope all of you who read the last one found this okay...thanks to Laura Scofield and Azlira, who I will probably continue to use as my consultants on this story – if they don't mind, that is . So, here it is, a sequel. I have plans for this :D. Please review!
12 Years Later
"Arius – Arius, no! Not the herbs! Oh God. Grab him for me, will you, Eden?" Aurelia pleaded. Though still fairly young and still wonderfully beautiful, she looked undeniably worn out, and had done for the past twelve years of her life. Just one child had been easy, but add twins and two more children to the mix and things had gotten a little complicated. It didn't help that Dorrien had started teaching Healing classes, and wasn't around as much. God, she missed having him around.
"But Mummy – " Arius whined as his elder sister dragged him away. Aurelia grumbled to herself, still braiding Liliana's hair.
"I told him not to leave those herbs around. Medicine is all very well and good, but not around children – "
"Mummy, you're pulling!" Liliana cried, putting her hands up to her golden hair, wispy and half styled. Aurelia groaned and kissed her daughter's forehead.
"Oh, sweetie, I'm sorry" she sighed, "Mummy's tired"
"Dad shouldn't be long" said Eden comfortingly. The elder and more solemn twin, she was extremely apt at knowing what she should say and when she should say it, unlike Arbella, the younger of the two, who was outspoken and impulsive.
The twins were twelve years old. Aurelia had fallen pregnant quite by stupid mistake one night, but had struggled through her studies nonetheless, and she was glad of the twins. Both of them were the image of their mother, though in different ways. Eden was so attuned to the feelings of others, unlike Aurelia, with golden hair that was only vaguely wavy and those delicious melted brown eyes. She was slender to the point of being scrawny, with her father's angular facial features and high, elegant cheekbones. Arbella was much more like her mother in the days before Melody had been born, with a wild frivolity that tended to end with her getting into trouble. Her hair, too, was golden, but fell in thick ringlets, and her brown eyes held a permanent mischievous glitter. She was slightly plump, but in no way that was a detriment to her looks, and her laugh was contagious. Despite being so very different, the twins were extremely close and both, Arbella especially, idolised their half-sister Melody.
Liliana, now eight years old, was a delicate, dainty girl with a pixie-like face and pointed chin. She was insipidly pretty, with her fair, wispy hair, maybe more of a mousey shade than her mother's, and Dorrien's hazel eyes. She was often thoughtful and extremely curious, but she did love to giggle and dance. She, Aurelia suspected, was Dorrien's secret favourite.
Arius was the baby of the family, at four years old. He was =, quite honestly, a cherub. His face was plump and golden, and his smile enough to soften the hardest of hearts. He spoke beseechingly, pathetically, in the tone of a young child, and his mother adored it. He was the image of Dorrien – dark hair, hazel eyes and an interest in herbs that was rather worrying at his age. Aurelia thought that he was probably the most affectionate of any of her children - and their only boy.
Aurelia smiled, looking round at her children. She wished Melody was there. Melody, now that she was fifteen years old, was no longer just a daughter – she was a friend and confidante also. And she, possibly, was Aurelia's secret favourite, though she loved all of her children more than she could bear. Melody had been granted early entry to start her studies – she was extremely bright and, when tested at Aurelia's request, presented a lot of potential. She had only been studying for a week, but seemed to be enjoying it – and of course, she had the support of her best friend Lorkin, who, although he was further ahead in his studies than her, remained her closest friend. Of course, Aurelia and Sonea both knew that the two secretly adored each other...and Lorkin had grown very handsome, the image of Akkarin, and Melody had become beautiful, the image of Dannyl with all of her mother's charm...but they would have to wait and see.
"Aurelia! Aurelia!" the door to Aurelia and Dorrien's rooms crashed open. Sonea stood there, looking, quite truthfully, terrified. Aurelia rose from her seat at once, letting Liliana's incomplete braid drop from her hands.
"Sonea! What's the matter? Has something happened? It's not Lorkin, is it? Oh God, where's Dorrien? Has something happened to him – Oh, Mellie! Is it my Melody? Or – "
"Osen proposed!" Sonea interrupted in a shriek. Aurelia froze, and the two women stared at each other for what felt like an impossibly long time. Eden and Arbella exchanged a glance – Auntie Sonea had been with Osen for a very long time, but there had never been any notion of marriage! Arbella beckoned Liliana over and continued with the braid. They sat in silence, listening.
"Sit down" said Aurelia at last, leading Sonea to a chair far away from her children, "Now, what on earth are you talking about? What do you mean, he proposed? Tell me everything"
Sonea was shaking, "Do you have any wine?"
"Yes, yes, of course" Aurelia poured a glass, and watched Sonea throw it down.
"He – it was completely out of the blue! We were just sitting, there, talking! And then he turns to me and says – he says – he says 'Sonea, will you marry me? I know I'm not the man you gave your heart to so long ago, but we're good together. What do you say?'"
"Well?" cried Aurelia impatiently, "What did you say?"
"I said..." Sonea looked at Aurelia, bemused, "I said yes"
"You did what?" Aurelia shrieked, "But Sonea...! I mean, you do love him, don't you?"
"Well, then, at least that part's right. But you don't love him like you loved Akkarin...so isn't a bit cruel of you to say yes, knowing that your life won't ever be quite what you wanted it to be?"
"I wasn't going to say yes" Sonea groaned, burying her head in her hands, "It just sort of came out! And I can hardly change my mind now!"
"Well this is a fine mess!" Aurelia grumbled, "Have you told Rothen?"
"No, I – "
"I'm back!" Dorrien appeared, and, as always, he looked happy. He had all he had ever wanted- a teaching job, a beautiful wife who he loved more than anyone else in the world, a stepdaughter that he was actually good friends with, and four wonderful children of his own. Life was good for Dorrien.
Liliana and Arius dashed up to him at once and were treated to great bear hugs that made them giggle. Eden and Arbella, being too old for such capers, merely grinned over at their father, but accepted his kiss on their cheeks.
Aurelia turned in her seat to smile at him, and all at once it was as though all her stresses and fears and Sonea's problem had melted away into nothing, and all that existed in the world was Dorrien, her husband. He came over to her and kissed her gently, leaning over the back of her chair.
"Good day?" she asked against his lips, still smiling.
"A little stressful. Yours?"
"Exhausting" Aurelia responded with a little laugh. Dorrien looked up, and noticed Sonea with a start.
"Sonea! What are you doing here? You look terrible"
Sonea merely groaned again and said nothing. Aurelia sighed.
"Osen proposed, and Sonea said yes"
"Osen – wait, what?"
Aurelia sighed heavily. This was going to be a long evening.
Meanwhile, oblivious to the situation being discussed by their mothers, Lorkin and Melody were seated at a table in the Novice's Library. They sat opposite each other, and despite the idea that the two of them were best friends (which they were), the chemistry between them was obvious.
Melody was leafing through a heavy-looking book, her eyes narrowed, her long fingernails running along the lines, looking for a reference to the process of Healing that her own stepfather had taught her that afternoon in class. Her dark hair, falling in glossy curls, made scratching sounds against the paper as she moved her eyes back and forth across the text, and every so often she would bite her cherry-coloured lips in deep thought. Lorkin noticed this, and it made him smile. He had to frequently draw his eyes away from her and back to his work.
"Do you know what you're going to be when you graduate, Lorkin?" Melody asked suddenly. Her voice was lilting, musical, and never failed to make her listener instinctively draw closer to her; her voice lent the impression that whatever she was about to say would be very interesting.
Lorkin shrugged, running his fingers through his dark hair, eyes twinkling, "I don't know. Probably become a Warrior. I could maybe teach classes, I'd make a good teacher"
"You'd sleep with your students" said Melody, trying to sound amused to cover up her obvious jealousy over how many girls fancied Lorkin, and how many of them he had taken to bed with him.
Lorkin scowled, "I would not! I have morals, you know"
"Do you? I had no idea" Melody really was smiling by this point, and at her smile Lorkin stopped his protests.
"What about you? I know you haven't been studying long, but you've always been one for looking ahead"
"I think Alchemy, maybe" Melody replied thoughtfully, still scanning the book, "I know Mum and Dorrien would want me to chose Healing, and so would Aunt Sonea, so I could help her in the hospital...but Dad chose Alchemy, and we've always talked about it, I just find it so interesting" she looked up, as if alarmed that she had spoken so much, "Yeah. That's what I think"
Lorkin grinned, "Sure. Found the bit that you're looking for yet?"
"Want to give up?"
Melody grinned back, "Why not?" she rose from her seat and linked his arm, a friendly, familiar gesture, "You're such a bad influence on me, Lorkin. Remind me why you're my best friend?"
"Because you like bad influences" Lorkin replied, and led her on the way to her rooms.
Later that evening, Melody returned to the small room she occupied in the Novice's Quarters. Of course, she spent most of her time with her mother and Dorrien, just as Lorkin spent most of his time with his mother and Rothen. But both of them had loved the idea of having their own separate rooms – her to get away from her younger siblings, him so that he could sleep with as many girls as possible without disturbing his mother. Their rooms were opposite one another, and Melody often heard girls coming and going, a whole gaggle of them who absolutely adored Lorkin. She estimated that he'd slept with maybe half of the female novices now, and she didn't like it. Because of course, she loved him. Always had. And there was something there, there had been since they were children...but he didn't seem to care, sleeping around with at least three girls a week. So she did the same –flirted with boys in front of him, pretended to have slept with them all, when really she'd only ever invited one back to her room. It was a masquerade that she hated, but deemed necessary.
Dad! Melody cried joyfully. Dannyl checked up on her every day, and she saw him and Tayend once a month, but she still missed him like crazy. She missed Tayend a bit, too. He was fun.
Hi, sweetheart. How are you?
I'm...alright. Are you okay? And Tayend?"
We're fine. Tayend's going a bit mad with all my research laying everywhere, I think he has a problem.
Melody laughed, I bet he loved you saying that. The book's going well, then?
It's alright, Dannyl sounded slightly stressed, Progressing slowly, if I'm honest. But you don't want to hear about that. What did you do today?
I had Healing class. It's really weird being taught by Dorrien. Kind of nice though. I mean, he teases me later on if I got something wrong in class, but it's nice to have someone that you know teaching you. I wish Rothen was still teaching Alchemy.
That's right, I forgot he'd given up. Who teaches now?
Merrin. He's evil.
I think I know him. He's a dragon, from what I can remember.
You can say that again. He hates me.
I'm sure he doesn't. No-one could hate you. And anyway, you don't need an Alchemy teacher. You have readymade tutors in Rothen and me.
He does. But I suppose you're right Melody became distracted as she heard Lorkin's voice and a girlish giggle. She heard his door shut. Betrayal filled her eyes with tears, as it did every time she heard him with another girl. She blinked them away. I'd better go, Dad.
Are you okay, Mellie? Dannyl had sensed her mood, Is something the matter?
I'm just tired. Lots of work to do. And Arbella keeps stealing my stuff. That part, at least, was true.
She's a demon, that girl. I'll leave you be then. Tayend says hi.
Yeah, say it back. Love you, Dad.
Love you too, Mellie. I miss you.
Miss you too.
She felt her father's lingering presence leave her, and Melody shivered violently. She didn't like lying to her father, but she couldn't tell anyone how she felt about Lorkin. She wasn't even sure that she could put into words how she felt about Lorkin.
Her parents wouldn't understand.