I literally haven't đã đăng anything in almost a year, so, naturally, I wrote something angsty while sick. Enjoy~
Aryess blinked at the shadows of trees silhouetted outside the window. They were playing tug-of-war with the wind, a wrestling match that turned the shadows into monsters. She had never been afraid of creatures that hid in the dark. They were her friends, offering to hide her from the scarier savages that called daylight their home. Yet lately even the dark had betrayed her, allowing fear to settle and grow rather than shield her from it.
There was a crack of thunder, followed bởi an explosion of rain against the window. While it was once a lullaby, the wailing it provoked brought Aryess to her feet. "I've got her," she called as she entered the hallway. The nursery door was cracked open, allowing the crying to fill the small house and battle the storm's bombardment.
The baby was on her back in the crib, little fists clenched and waving in the air. "It's alright, Rosalita," Aryess cooed as she swaddled the child in her blanket and pulled her into her arms. The tiny girl's cheeks were wet with tears and as red as her name as she hiccuped and screamed for the storm to stop. Her hair, dark and curly like her father's, was stuck to her head with the sweat of a fevered dream.
Rosalita's furious cries retreated as she was rocked, and she even seemed to quiet to hear the soft song better. "Oh, hush thee, baby, thy sire was a knight, thy mother a lady, both lovely and bright," Aryess was singing, whispering softly, as if it could calm the wind and rain as it had the infant. "The woods and the glens, from the towers which we see, they all are belonging, Dear Baby, to thee."
"An American hát a Scottish song in English in an Italian nursery," a voice chimed from the doorway. Aryess ceased hát as Rosalita smiled at the ring of her mother's voice.
"I'm sorry," the blonde apologized, "I had hoped to calm her before she woke bạn hoặc your husband."
Celeste waved away the apology and entered to stand beside the girl holding the baby. Rosalita raised her hands to the woman, so she took her from Aryess and rocked her gently. "A mother doesn't sleep when her child cries wether she can hear it hoặc not," Celeste told the American, smiling gently at her. Rosalita had grasped one of the long wisps if dark hair falling over her shoulders and was admiring it as if it were a fine woven silk.
"Noted," Aryess replied, sitting in the arm chair across from the rocking chair where Celeste took a seat. After a moment of listening to the soft creaking of the chair and pattering of the rain, she admitted, "I wish I could stay longer. I feel like I'm learning so much valuable information from you."
Celeste laughed, which Rosalita echoed with a giggle if only understanding her mother's mirth. "It's not 'valuable,' child. You'd hear it from any mother."
"Mothers are valuable."
"Dear, if bạn want to stay here in Italy with us-"
"I can't," Aryess answered quickly before the offer could tempt her. "You know that."
"What I know is that you're near six months along and without a clue of what you'll do once you-"
"I know," she interrupted again. It was rude, but if the obvious was laid out before her, she would be too afraid to do anything but stay put and endanger the kind woman and her family. "But I don't have many options.. I'll be leaving tomorrow for Luân Đôn to carry out a job. It's safe, just organizing parties and meeting for a representative from South Korea. Then I'll have money, and..."
"I'll figure something out. I have to. I'm smart, strong, I can do this." She had repeated the words so many times to herself that they had become a mantra. As she leaned back in the chair, the beads in her hair jingled. As per league custom, she proudly wore the symbol of a mother with her first. They reminded her of the strong bloodline she carried, the generations of triumphant battles and prevailing courage.
"You are young," Celeste reminded her, hoping to sway her nonetheless, "Sixteen isn't an uncommon age for assassins to have heirs; it's either have children young hoặc not at all. But you're also alone, inexperienced, bạn don't know what you're doing... bạn should go back home, to your brother.. You're boyfriend?"
"I can't," she insisted, fighting tears but losing the battle to the shaking in her voice. "I'm never thêm afraid than when I listen to his doubts and second-guessing and uncertainty and failures. I can't afford to be questioning myself, getting afraid and hiding under the covers. Listening to the "what-ifs" and regrets hurts too much. I wasn't supposed to be able to even have kids, Celeste, and now... It's a miracle that he treats like an ultimatum."
"Then do bạn regret this?"
"A hunter doesn't have regrets," she stated, then nodded to Rosalita, soothed to sleep in her mother's arms. "Have bạn ever regretted having her? hoặc Phillipe?"
Celeste held the baby tighter to her, then glanced over her shoulder to the hallway as if she could beckon her 4 năm old son to her that way. "I would regret giving one of them up."
Aryess bit the bottom of her lip to keep from letting a whimper escape at the reminder of every nightmare she had since the decision. Word had gotten to the League of Shadows about the daughter Aryess had so stupidly boasted about upon finding out she was pregnant. She had been hoping to find somewhere to share the good news with, someone who wouldn't look at her with fear and act like they had committed a crime for which they were to be hanged. She had ditched the League despite what they had seen as exquisite hospitality upon her arrival after 14 years of "playing dead." Moreover, she had helped Gabriel escape as well. He was terminally ill with a disease caused bởi a curse, and also with no interest in women, which left him amissing in action with no hopes of giving the League a strong, healthy heir. They had both proven thêm trouble than they were worth. Still, Aryess had no doubt in mind that her own offspring would be seen as repayment for the betrayal of herself, her brother, her mother, and her grandparents. The Shadows believed in promising lineage and, even thêm so, getting what they thought they were owed.
The only plan the mother-to-be has come up with one sound plan, one that had only been realized after her một giây ultrasound, a week before receiving the offer for the one-month job in London. Her boyfriend would have never agreed to the plan. But he also would have no better ideas.
"He's not from our world," she thought aloud. "I loved him, I still might, for that reason.. But he is no warrior of our people. Maybe I thought that when he realized he would be a father, he would see how little his insecurities and uncertainties matter. But he's so..."
"Human?" Celeste asked. She was staring at the pregnant girl's right hand, a fist grasping the around the silver Angel that dangled around her neck the same as Rosalita had gripped her mother's hair. "They are the reason the best of us fight, Angel."
"They are also the reason we die. I won't let my children pay for my mistakes. Perhaps I'll return to him, perhaps I won't, but either way, the deal must be made, hoặc else I'll lose what's most important to me."
Celeste rose, but moved toward the door rather than the crib. "Then bạn will give your daughter to the Shadows?"
Aryess nodded, the tears welling in her eyes, but her voice firm. Determined. "She will be strong enough to handle whatever is thrown at her. She will be as willful and bò đực, con bò, bull headed as me, and much smarter. I will do whatever it takes to ensure she doesn't make the same mistakes as I."
Celeste nodded with a faint smile. "Now bạn sound like a mother." She left to go back to her room where her husband slept. On her way she stopped bởi her son's room and roused him to follow her. Both her children would sleep close to her tonight, away from the fears that threatened to break into the house alongside the turrets of rain battering the roof.
Aryess was left alone to cry for the daughter she would be surrendering to ensure the safety of both her and her twin brother.