Previously: •Edward accepted Dorfl’s offer of heirship and Dorian’s proposal. • Edward and Dorian graduated and headed into the world to search for Esme. • In searching each of the vacation destinations Edward learnt that perhaps Esme wasn’t completely lost to him after all • Edward eventually found his sister in a hut in Three Lakes and she agreed to talk to him
Edward and Esme sat in silence for what felt like an eternity. Finally Esme spoke, “Edward, I’m sorry,I’m so sorry.”“What happened, Esme?”“I don’t know, Edward, not really. It’s like it was a dream, or a nightmare. My memory’s fuzzy andpatchy and nothing makes sense. The Wise Old Man tried to explain but I still don’t understand it all.”
“Tell me what you do know.”“Aaron did something to me, Edward. Cause I wanted to be a witch I made it so easy for him, he wasable to creep inside my mind, to take it over, and I couldn’t even fight him because I never realisedwhat he was doing, not until it was too late.” Esme fell silent; gathering her thoughts and hercomposure before she continued.
“The bits I remember most clearly are from when I was still a teenager; I was still mostly myself backthen, just weirdly angry and consumed with my new powers.“I know I was horrible to you. I didn’t mean those things I said, not really, but I still said them and Iknow I hurt you. I’m sorry, Edward, and I don’t know if I can ever make it up to you.“After that it’s just bits and pieces and nothing that really makes sense. Aaron had full control of methen; I know that now. I know some of what I did to people, but it was like watching through a fog.My next clear memory is you.
“Seeing you, seeing the pain I was causing you, was finally enough to break through what Aaron wasdoing. It wasn’t enough to completely free me though, I felt like a battle ground. One moment I wasme and then I was his again and then not, round and round I went.
“That’s why I ran. In the moments I was me I couldn’t face you knowing what I had done, when I was hishe was afraid that seeing you again would break his control entirely.“I don’t entirely know how I ended up in Takemizu; at the time I just wanted to get away and I went wheremy feet took me. When I entered the village I felt at peace for the first time in a very long time.“You know most of the rest don’t you? Who helped me, what they helped me to do.”“Yes.”
"Edward, that guy, the one I was hurting...""Dorian, his name is Dorian.""Was he ok?"
"Yeah, he busted his chin and had a few nightmares, but hes ok.""He was your boyfriend wasnt he?""Yeah.""Did I ruin things for you."
Edwards laugh caught Esme by surprise, "Hes waiting in the campsite at the bottom of the hill.Were getting married when we get home.“Esme smiled for the first time since Edward had walked into her clearing, "Oh. Good."
"He doesnt like you very much, Im not sure he ever will.""Of course.”
Edward paused, considering something, "Esme, come home. Youll never make amends for whatyouve done staying out here.""Everyone hates me.""Can you blame them?"
"No, it would be easier if I could." She fell silent, Edward waited for her to speak, “But you’re right.Will you help me?”“As much as I can.”“Then give me a few days here, there are some things I need to do, and then I’ll come home.” ***
“Mum! Where’s the box with the books?” Ella yelled down the stairs.
“In the hall, dear, just where it was the last time you asked.”
Erzulie zipped up her suitcase and dragged it out to the landing for someone to take downstairs.“You forgetting anything? Like the kitchen sink for example?” Eulalie, who was staying well out of theway of her older sisters, asked. Erzulie stuck her tongue out and then rushed back into the bedroomto fetch yet another thing to add to the growing pile in the hall.
“Are you girls finished yet?” Dorfl shouted up, “I don’t think much more will fit in the car.”“Just a couple more things, Dad.”
Dorfl sighed and shook his head, no matter how many times he’d done this, getting the kids moved touniversity didn’t get any less chaotic.He turned when he heard the front door open behind him.
“Hi, Dad.” Edward grinned and then noticed the state of the hallway, “Perhaps this wasn’t the besttime to get back.”
“Nonsense,” Dorfl enveloped his son in a hug, “just make sure your luggage is somewhere out of theway, you don’t want it to end up back at the Greek house.”“Edward!” Roxy, having finished dealing with the latest packing crisis, was delighted to see her sonhome safe and well.
Hearing the commotion in the hall, Ella, Erzulie and Eulalie raced down to find out what all the fusswas about.After a few confusing and loud minutes while everyone tried to talk at once Dorfl shooed the girlsaway to finish their packing and turned to Roxy, “Would you mind driving the twins to university,love? I need to have a chat with Edward.”“Of course.”
“I’ll take the cases upstairs and start unpacking.”“Thanks, Dorian, I’ll come and help when I’m done talking to dad.”
Edward and Dorfl spent many hours discussing how Edward had found Esme, what she had told himand what was going to happen with her now. By the time they had finished it had grown quite lateand he headed upstairs to see how Dorian was doing with the unpacking.
Dorian had made impressive progress and the room, which had been basically decorated by Roxy, wasfeeling warm and welcoming.
Although, as far as Edward was concerned the room could have been stark white and he would haveloved it anyway so long as it contained Dorian.
The next morning Dorian started looking for a position at one of the local hospitals, but it was a whileuntil something turned up.
While he was waiting he helped Roxy take care of the garden she had started after since herretirement.
Under their care the plants flourished and the fridge was soon full of fresh produce.
While Dorfl had yet to retire he could often be found in the garage working on the toys for thegrandchildren he was sure were soon to start arriving.
The garage also housed the train set that Dorfl had bought Eulalie for her recent birthday which sheloved and spent a lot of her free time playing with. Seeing a great opportunity to get to know hisyoungest sister, Edward started joining her in the garage and the two were soon close friends andthey had already come up with many plans for that train set. ***
Once Edward felt suitably settled he decided it was time to throw a party to celebrate the proper startof his adult life.
With one exception all the guests were family members.
That exception was Sim!Widget; Dorfl had explained what little he knew of her position in theneighbourhood and Edward wanted to start to get to know her a little better.
Mainly, however, he was interested in talking to family during that party. He wanted to get to knowhis younger siblings a little better.
And to catch up with the siblings and cousins he already knew well. It was a perfect time to find outwhat had been happening while he and Dorian had been away. Eskarina was happy to share theuniversity gossip.
“We’ve kept up your tradition of toga parties to celebrate just about anything. Even Enrico joins in,with a little persuasion,” she grinned, “though he doesn’t like to actually wear a toga.
“Errol and Maria are still the same as they were. You know they’re about to graduate, right? I don’tthink it’ll be long afterwards that there’ll be a wedding invitation. Speaking of, when’re we going toget one from you?”“Soon, Esk.”
“Eric is Eric,” there was a slight note of disapproval in her voice.“He’s still at it then?”
“Oh yeah, I just really wish he’d keep his escapades to the bedroom at the very least.”
“What about you?” Edward asked.Eskarina gushed about her course and the paintings she was working on for a coming studentexhibition.
“Found that special someone yet?”“No, I haven’t really had the time to look.”
Sebastian had a lot of news of his own to share.
He’d graduated from Unseen U at the same time as Edward and now shared a house with Viola andhis girlfriend Michele.
Though, actually, she wasn’t his girlfriend anymore – she was his wife.
They’d married while Edward was travelling, “Sorry I didn’t wait so you could be at the wedding,mate.”“Nah, I wouldn’t have expected you to, I know how eager you both were to get married.”
Michele was currently heavily pregnant with the couple’s first child, Sebastian couldn’t have beenhappier.
For all that she and Sebastian shared a house, Viola barely mentioned the recent events in herbrother’s life.
She was far more interested in raving about her shiny new gaming job.
And shiny new boyfriend.
Though she did tell him with amusement about calling in sick to watch Sebastian’s wedding.
It wasn’t just Edward who was making sure to talk to everyone they could; Esk wanted to be sure thatshe was friends with everyone of her siblings.
The party lasted well into the night and everyone had a great time. Edward was pretty certain it wasthe first of many he’d be hosting during his time as heir.
However, the next party would be at a different location, “You’ll be coming to our graduation party?”“Of course.”“Good.” ***
Errol and Evadne had reached the end of their university education and wanted to finish with amassive party.
After the fun of the party, Errol, Evadne and Maria moved into the house they’d found ready to starttheir lives as adults.
“Given my dear little sister is already pestering about wedding invitations, how long do you think wecan delay without her head exploding?”Maria laughed, “Now that’s just cruel. Although we could easily wait until after Edward’s wedding,not much longer though, I’d hate to have your sister on my conscience.”
Maria was lucky enough to find her dream job soon after moving in and quickly started moving up theladder.
Evadne was less lucky, but, unlike Dorian, decided to take a job in a different field and earn somedecent money while she waited for the right job opening.
In contrast to Maria and Evadne, Errol was quite happy to spend his time at home preparing for hisupcoming wedding and the children he hoped would follow not long afterwards. ***
Children were on Edward’s mind as he sat in the lobby of the High Energy Research Laboratory. Heknew there was nothing to worry about, that this was just a routine check-up that Dorfl had to dobecause the procedure was so new, but he was still nervous. Dorian, noticing how uneasy Edwardwas, reached out to comfort him.
“Edward, your dad is ready for you, follow me.” Eleanor smiled as she gestured at the corridor behindher, “You’re welcome too, Dorian, of course.”
Edward was glad of Dorian’s presence as they walked towards the exam room.
For all Edward’s worrying the appointment lasted less the 20 minutes. The worst part of the wholething were the blood samples that Dorfl took and Dorfl reassured his son that these tests and sampleswere simply to get a base-line reading, there was no indication that Edward wouldn’t be a candidatefor male pregnancy.
While Edward was there, Dorfl explained a little more about the procedure he’d be undergoing.An embryo would be created, using genetic material from both Edward and Dorian, then placedwithin Edward’s abdominal cavity where it would be able to grow and develop. During the pregnancyEdward would be closely monitored and treated with a strict dose of hormones to ensure the baby’sproper development. Obviously, the monitoring would also detect when the baby was to ready to beborn as it would need to be delivered surgically.
All that was left to do was sign the consent papers and make the appoints; one for each of them toprovide their contributions to the embryo and one for Edward to have the embryo implanted. ***
By the time Esme had finished what she needed to in Three Lakes and returned to the Disc, Edwardand Dorfl had found the perfect place for her to live. It was a small cottage on the outskirts of town,close enough that she wasn’t isolated but distant enough from everyone else to give her some privacyand space.
It was a slightly awkward meeting for both Dorfl and Esme; neither knew quite how the other wouldreact or would want to be treated. However, they were both determined to make a fresh start andEdward’s presence helped to keep the mood optimistic.
They even shared a tentative hug when it came time for Dorfl and Edward to leave. “Your mother willwant to see you.”Esme nodded, “She’s welcome here, I think I’d like to see her too.”
“You should maybe stop by the house some day, say goodbye to your grandparents, I know theymissed you.” Dorfl was hesitant but he knew that this would be something his daughter would needto do.“There is just one thing, Esme, I need you to call and arrange when you’ll visit. For Dorian’s sake.”“Of course.”
Once Edward and Dorfl had left Esme relaxed in the peace of her new house. For the first time in along time she felt hope; there was a long road ahead of her, but she could see the possibility of abrighter future.