Disclaimer!: I do not own The Seeker: The Dark is Rising or any of its characters.
This story was made purely for the enjoyment of the readers.
It was snowing when they got the call. George and Dawson were far too wrapped up in a game of chess to hear the shrill ring and Merriman was in the parlor stoking the fire when he heard the gentle creak of wood that signaled Ms. Greythorne's descent down the staircase. He left the fire poker next to the hearth and hurried out into the hall, but she glided past him and grabbed the receiver before he could stop her.
The voice on the other end of the line was definitely female. Merriman could hear the sharp shrill squeak as the person started to babble.
"Gwen?" Ms. Greythorne had to pull the phone away from her ear. "Gwen, slow down. I can't understand you. What's happened?"
Merriman knew Gwen Stanton. She was Will's little sister and Will was The Seeker. Half a year ago they'd helped the fourteen year old defeat the Rider and had even had a hand in reuniting him with his long lost twin brother Tom. Needless to say, they'd become close friends of the Stanton clan ever since.
"What's happened Amelia?" Merriman asked as Ms. Greythorne hung up the phone.
"I'll explain on the way," she promised, "Please Merriman, bring the car around."
Merriman did as she asked. There was a harsh wind blowing when they left the manor. He had to drive slower than usual to avoid skidding over the ice that coated the road. Luckily, the Stantons didn't live far and they arrived with little to no trouble.
Mr. and Mrs. Stanton were dead. Their car had slid off the road, taking them and three of their sons over the edge of a steep cliff hidden by a snowdrift.
Their surviving children were all sitting on the sofa when they entered the house. Gwen cried out the moment she saw Ms. Greythorne, but the twins, Robin and Paul, were more reserved. Will was the first to approach The Old Ones. Merriman pretended not to notice the dark circles under the boy's eyes as he laid a hand on The Seeker's shoulder and led him to the edge of the room.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
Will's voice sounded strained when he spoke. "Social services called."
Merriman scowled, "Social services?"
"We don't have any living relatives who can take us in Merriman."
That much was true. Their eldest brother had died a week ago serving as a soldier in the U.S navy. With their parents and second eldest brother dead as well, there was no one left to take the remaining Stanton children in.
"They're going to separate us," Gwen cried.
Ms. Greythorne wrapped the child in a hug and kissed her on the forehead. "No one is going to separate you. I will not allow it."
"What are you going to do?" one of the twins asked.
Yes, what are you going to do?" Merriman wondered uneasily. He'd known Amelia for over a thousand years, and had a pretty good notion as to what she was thinking, but he wanted to hear the words said from her own mouth.
"Social services won't separate you if there is someone willing to take you in," she told the children.
"What part of 'we don't have any relatives'," the other twin persisted, Paul perhaps. Merriman had never been very apt at telling the two apart.
"That's just it," Ms. Greythorne explained, "The caretaker does not have to be a relative. Blood ties mean very little so long as the guardian can provide a financially, physically, and emotionally stable environment."
"But who would want to take us in?" Gwen sniffled.
Amelia gently wiped the girl's tears away with the back of her gloved hand. "Well…you could always come and live with me at Huntercombe Manor…"
"Really?" Gwen asked, a smile spreading across her pale, damp face.
"What?" both twins asked simultaneously.
Will was shocked beyond words. Mr. Dawson and George seemed just as surprised. Merriman wasn't. He'd expected as much. It was a selfless act of kindness if anything; though he sometimes worried Amelia's heart took precedence over her head.
"Can you…do that?" Will asked apprehensively.
"Do you want me to?" Ms. Greythorne answered with a question.
Will exchanged tentative looks with his siblings before turning back to the woman. George and Mr. Dawson looked at each other and then at Merriman who didn't say a word. He already knew Will's answer.