It has been a while, has it not, since the beginning of the Interlude Sagaof Doom that was “Emma”? Remember how before that we werefreaking out over our heir and his obnoxious dilemma over a Simself andhis lovely wife? No? Maybe I was the only one freaking out… details… Anyway, before we get back to our um… “wonderful” heir andhis family there are some things that you really ought to see. Thingsto wrap up, to finish off, to explain… So! If you‟ve got your tea and biscuits, let us get to it! Top: Frank, Lark, Alice Middle: Marian, John, Henry, William Bottom: Robert, Isabella, Lucas
Once returned from their honeymoon in Simbrighton Francis and MaryJane settled into their new lives as husband and wife quite easily, spendingmuch of their time in the suite newly decorated for Mary Jane‟s use.Happy though they were, they had no luck whatsoever in conceiving achild. Of course…they were more than happy to try again and again. Mary Jane often visited her father, and though she loved her new homeat Bertram Hall, she was still homesick. She and Francis were so often atBlickling for dinner that the servants had taken to setting their places at thetable every night out of habit. …
The servants (and cook) of Blickling Hall also adopted a habit ofensuring that the new Mrs. Blackthorne always had a variety of things tochoose from at dinner, for as her ever expanding belly grew, she wasincreasingly ravenous and progressively more picky. …
Not a day after Francis and Mary Jane‟s wedding, Requiem Bohemian-Fitzhugh became Requiem Howard. She married her beloved Fulwar in asmall ceremony with his family, her father Rhys Fitzhugh, and herguardians Jamie and Marina Simself in attendance. About a week later, Requiem and Fulwar set off for the Simcaribbean,Simmaica, and Smith Plantation. The family has not yet had word as totheir arrival, but expect it daily. …
George Haggerty II married Lucy Munster at St. Catherine‟s Churchnot long after announcing their engagement. It was whispered amongst the family that George had inherited some ofhis parents‟ romantic habits, and had behaved most improperly with hisfuture wife, albeit with her consent. As such, the wedding was rushed to avoid people muttering about howLucy seemed to be rather more round than she had been, and how theexpansion was all concentrated on her middle. …
Benjamin and Raphaelle Howard got on as well as a couple only half inlove could. Raphaelle continued to shower her husband with obnoxiouspraise but he became more and more distant, choosing instead to focus onhis sermons. They had the son and heir that was needed in Ezra andBenjamin seemed content enough with that to not worry about giving hiswife another child. As Raphaelle was so concerned with her waistline, shewas not overly bothered with this. Either way, she was not of themothering sort, and as soon as Ezra was born she begged one of theSimselves to come and work for her as Ezra‟s governess until such a timeas he needed gentleman tutors. Lily Simself obliged, liking the chances shehad of both annoying Raphaelle and impressing Thomas, one of thepreeminent judges in Simdon, and moved in forthwith. Also, theopportunity to spend time with so adorable a child as Ezra certainly didnot hinder her opinion of the situation. …
It was not long after his mother pushed him in the direction ofApolline O‟Leery that Vaughn Fitzhugh fell in love with the young lady.Wishing to waste no more time without her, he proposed marriage andwed her almost immediately, but not before securing for them a place tolive. As former tenant Abe Munster had relocated to Simfield, and hispartner Oswald Legacina had plans to vacate the premises of Darcy ManorFarm, the property was left open. Being the intended husband of theniece of Henry Blackthorne, owner of the farm, Vaughn had little troublein renting the land from the Blackthornes. Mr. and Mrs. Fitzhugh chose to spend the entirety of their honeymoonat their new home, but they certainly found enough to entertainthemselves. …
Kitty, or Mrs. Legacina as she was now called, did not have theimmediate happy ending that her friends and cousins had. Though she‟dgotten to know her half-brother George during their time at school inSimdon she was resistant to having any sort of relationship with hermother . It was only natural; she‟d gone so long without a mother and didnot know how to deal with having one, let alone having one as enthusiasticas Georgiana Haggerty. For twenty-one years, Catherine Fitz had assumed that her mother andfather were dead. It was done, there was nothing she could ever hope todo about it, and anyway… she‟d always had Anne. She could deal with herparents dying, too, for it was not of their choosing. But to know that hermother had given her up? Of course she understood why; it was notproper at all for an unmarried lady to have a child.
Then again, she could not understand why her mother had not simplymarried her father. She met Garrett once in the first few weeks after hermarriage, and could see nothing wrong with him at all other than his oddcoloring and his odor, but she knew that had not always been the case.Certainly, it was explained to her that he had once been a very, very badman, and had tried to extort her grandfather Fitzwilliam Austen out ofsomewhere around fifty thousand pounds; she was told that he had teasedher mother with the idea of marriage and tempted her with it, forcing herto let him into her bed, but Kitty still could not come to terms with any ofit.
If she were not still grieving for her beloved Anne perhaps she wouldhave seen it all differently, and seen Garrett Surilie for the man he used tobe, but her mind was clouded by her disappointment in her mother, andthe new fondness she felt for her father.
Nobody had yet had the heart to tell her that Garrett was the reasonAnne was dead, and it seemed that that bit of information would neverreach Kitty‟s ears.
Indeed, the Austens knew all about lying for the greater good, andeveryone felt that this certainly qualified.
Therefore, in the beginning, Kitty and her new husband OswaldLegacina spent their time at their home of Darcy Manor Farm, simplyenjoying being husband and wife, and trying not to think about Kitty‟smother.
Of course, things could not remain so simple or happy for long. AbeMunster, Mr. Legacina‟s long time business partner, had been invited (orrather instructed) to stay with the Simselves for unreleased reasons.
As such, Mr. and Mrs. Legacina could not easily remain at the farm, forthe price paid each month to the landowner Henry Blackthorne was a bitbeyond their means at the time. Indeed, unless Mrs. Legacina decided tosuddenly dispose of her stubbornness and accept the dowry her motherinsisted she should have, the Legacinas would have extraordinarily little tolive on, and may be reduced to living in some rented room somewhere.
Lord and Lady Darcy would have been more than willing to lower therent for their newfound niece had Vaughn Fitzhugh not made a betteroffer to rent the farm for himself and the Blackthornes‟ other niece,completely unaware of the Legacinas‟ predicament.
A solution was found not long after in the last person anyone wouldhave guessed. One afternoon, just as Kitty was packing her books into atrunk, her husband knocked on the bedroom door and explained thatGeorge Haggerty I was calling and that would like to speak to her alone.
Kitty was so surprised at his coming that she had not had time to thinkup an excuse as to why she would not see him, and soon found herselfseated in her small parlor across from her stepfather. She‟d listened,dumbstruck almost, as he explained that he loved his wife, and that hewould do anything for her, and if that meant coming to Kitty and relayingthe entire, truthful history of her birth in the hopes that Kitty may beswayed, it would be done.
“She cried for days after giving you up, I still remember. It was awful and for awhile I thought she may do harm to herself, but she merely sat in her room and cried,screeching at me or anyone else when she was interrupted.”
“I take the blame for much of it,” George sighed. He did not pause when he heardKitty‟s gasp, but he noted that he would have to beg her forgiveness later. “I was a youngman then, and stubborn as you can imagine, and it did not suit me at the time to raiseanother man‟s bas—child. I was angry! Not only was I being forced to marry awoman I did not particularly like, though I learned later that I loved her deeply, but shewas with child, and it was by another man! How could a proud, insolent youth like meaccept that? Curse me, but I did not want you.”
“I told Georgiana that I would not take the child, and so my father and yourgrandfather Fitzwilliam came up with the plan that you would go to stay with yourAunt Anne in Simdon and live as an orphan. Though it was not my idea to give youinto the care of your Aunt Anne, if I was to be forced to marry Gee I was certainlywilling to accept any situation which did not bring you into my house.”
“All I could think of was what would happen if you would turn out to be a boy. Icould not claim you as my own, and I would not have had I been able to, and you knowhow that would have looked. Looking back I may say that I agreed for you to be sentaway thinking it would be better for you, but really I was thinking only of myself andmy family‟s reputation. My uncle Fitzwilliam put such a terrible stain on his family,and I was not about to let his daughter do the same to my branch of it. Not that youare a stain, not at all! Not any part of this is your fault, and I hope you know that wedo not think so.”
“I‟m sorry. I know words mean little, but believe me when I say I hopeone day you may forgive my unkindness toward you and toward my wife.She says she never blamed me, but she should have. I think she did, then,but she does not wish to hurt me in admitting it.”
George looked at Kitty, waiting for a response, but he got nothing. Heknew there was much more to tell her, but he‟d hoped that perhaps hewouldn‟t have to. “Though Georgiana came close to weeping any time she saw one of hersister‟s daughters, she lived on. She could almost accept that you would behappy in Simdon, that you would get an excellent education, and that youwould be provided for. That was my gift, however.”
“What?” “Your mother came to me with an excellent dowry, something that would haveallowed me to expand my land had I wished it. It was a great help to my accepting heras a wife, I assure you…” “But?”
“I gave it to you. It is amazing, really, how quickly I fell in love with your mother.Before your first birthday we had fallen into a sort of peaceful normality, arguing oneminute and… well, spending a good deal of time in her bedchamber the next.Occasionally in the drawing room—sorry. At any rate, by the time you were toddlingabout I had secured the small fortune on you.”
“I… when I found out about all of this I thought perhaps Anne haddone something to help me, but never you!”
George laughed and smiled. “Oh, she did. She never was the marryingsort, always too interested in reading and numbers to pay attention to aman, you know. Smart woman, that Anne. She managed to work it out sothat on her death, the inheritance she received from her father would passto you. You will remember coming into rather more money around yourthirteenth birthday.”
Kitty nodded slowly. “So that is when she died, is it? I cannotunderstand why nobody will tell me the details! She was the closest thingto a mother I ever had and yet the cause for her death is hidden from me!I do not… I am not a child!” “Nobody wished to burden you, dear.”
“I insist that you tell me. You have been so honest thus far; can you notextend that honesty to this event?” George twisted his hands together, fretting., before sighing resignedly. “Georgiana is going to have my hide.”
“Mrs. Legacina, I assume you remember the night your aunt put you into a carriagein the middle of the night and sent you across Simdon to M.Bennet‟s?” “Yes.” “Do you know why she did that?”
“I remember exactly what she said, but she was brief. She said, „You must leave atonce. There is a very bad man after you, and I will not let you come to harm. I promisedyour mother.‟ And then I interrupted and asked about her knowing my mother.”
George bowed his head. “The night Anne helped you get away, she‟d had wordthat a man was after you with the intention to either kill or kidnap. That night…”He took a breath to prepare himself. “That night, your father, Garrett Surilie, shother in the back just as she was running away from him. She would not tell him whereshe had sent you, and he responded the only way he knew how.”
“Oh my Plumbob,” Kitty said weakly. She was not a fainter, but thiswas a lot to process. “I‟ll take my leave,” George said, about to bow. “No! No, finish. Tell me the rest of it, I am well.”
“My cousins and brothers-in-law found him later that night, for of course thescoundrel had run off. We held him, I may have punched him in the face for insultingyour mother, and the Simselves arrived and took him into custody.”
“Nobody knows exactly what happened in the dungeons at Simfield, but apparentlyhe went through a great ordeal at the hands of his jailors, and it is thought that hesuffered a mental breakdown over all his guilt. To make matters worse for himself, hecontracted some horrible and rare illness that nobody understands which is the cause forhis present… state.”
“He is a much different person now, and truly repentant says Mrs. Simself, so it isno surprise that you took an immediate liking to him. In addition to his time atSimfield, it is generally agreed that raising his son Tristan (though nobody knows quitewhere he came from) and taking care of Austen Cottage did marvelous things for hispersonality. Your mother still cannot be around him but that is because she truly lovedhim as a young woman; to know what he did to her sister, and to see him so kindnow… it confuses and hurts her greatly.”
“Your mother loves you, as I—and we hope that someday you willforgive us for what she was forced to do, and for what I, in my horridvanity, did. When Anne died we looked for you, and looked for a longtime. Had we found you, we would have welcomed you home and givenyou the life you deserve. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on yourview, Anne did such a fine job of hiding you that we could not!”
“Yes…”“We would like to extend that same offer to you now.”“You want me to live with you?”
“Yes. Temporarily, if you wish. If you do not wish to stay with uspermanently, which you are welcome to do, we have a cottage in ourpossession that is in poor repair. We could have it fixed with theintention of renting it to Mr. Legacina for a reasonable price. I knowthere is little money between you at present, but with the dowry yourmother and I wish to bestow upon you, I think things could turn outquite well, all considered.”
“Is this to ease your guilt?”“Not at all.”“Then why would you help us?”
“Is that not what family is for, my dear? I have told you that yourmother loves you, and as I love her, well… I have come to care for you aswell.”
Kitty stared at the old man. He wasn‟t her biological father, and theyhardly knew each other, but she felt connected to him. She did notunderstand it but there was an odd kindness in his eyes that she trusted.Strange, she felt, as he explained himself as being horrid and selfish as ayounger man.
Perhaps age really does improve people, she thought. “Thank you. I am sure my husband would be very grateful for that. Ithink perhaps he might prefer to live in Simdon, but—”
“Something I understand most clearly,” George replied, lowering hishead in a quick bow.
Kitty and Oz spent a short while living at Martin Hall with her family,and by the time they left to move into Martin Cottage, they were as close asthey might have been without the long separation of Kitty‟s entirechildhood.
With the acceptance of the money Georgiana had so long put aside forher daughter, Oz and Kitty hoped to soon go into business, beginning witha shop in Simyton.
Georgiana was extraordinarily grateful to her husband for bringingKitty closer to the family, and she showed her gratitude with enthusiasm. Often. …
Mrs. Simself was sitting at her desk in her study at Simfield House asher husband was looking and reading over her shoulder. Mrs. Simselfnever was a patient woman, and when she tries to concentrate, she cannotcountenance having someone watch over her in such a way. As such, shewas just about to scold Mr. Simself when they were interrupted by a gaggleof ladies.
Three Simselves, Marina, Di, and Katy, burst into the room with facesof sheer glee. “They‟ve had them!” they all shouted at the same time.
Cee raised an eyebrow and looked at Jeremy, who shrugged. “Pardonme, ladies. Would you mind terribly if I asked you to repeat what you‟vejust said? Or perhaps not repeat it, and instead say something that is a littlebit more informative?”
The three newly-entered Simselves looked at each other for half amoment before all speaking very quickly, and at once.
“Ladies!” Cee interrupted. “I am really rather busy, so could youplease…” She gestured for them to get to their respective points, andquickly.
Mrs. Simself ‟s mood changed abruptly. “Babies? I say! Howwonderful!” Grinning widely, Cee turned her tablet to a fresh page anddipped her pen in some ink. “Details?”
Di chose to begin. “Mrs. Leonora Legacy has given birth to twin sons thismorning. They are called um… well the names are long so blame Leonora if I‟ve gotthis quite wrong. But the elder is James Henry Leigh Hunt Legacy and his brother isLeopold George Christian Frederick Legacy. The both of them have their mother‟sdark brown hair, and their father‟s greenish-brown eyes. Leigh, as James is to be called,is slightly fairer in skin than Leopold, who is to be referred to as Leo.”
“Twins? Why am I not surprised…?” Jeremy chuckled at his wife‟s growing agitation, and Cee sighed as shejotted down the information. Later, she would add it all to the massivefamily tree. “Katy?” she asked. “Mrs. Lucy Haggerty was also with child,no?”
Katy nodded vigorously. “Yes. Lucy, well, she had hers too. Today,obviously, since we sort of barged in and said… never mind. Twins!” Jeremy laughed and patted his wife on the shoulder as her jaw fell open.
Katy smirked. “She had a girl and a boy. The older one, the boy, is to be namedGeorge Austen Haggerty the Third, and referred to as Gordy on a day to day basis.The girl is to be called Grace—Grace Elliot Haggerty. Both children have darker skinthan their father but not quite as dark as Lucy, and they have dark blue eyes and redhair. My research shows that the red hair comes from either George the Second‟s father,George the First, or Lucy‟s father, Liam Munster. I would like to add that they havetheir father‟s nose as well, and Gordys distinguished brow clearly comes from myMunsters, and Grace‟s mouth—”
“Katy,” Di whispered, poking the other Simself in the ribs.“Oh. Yeah, be quiet, I get it.”
Cee inclined her head to Katy to indicate that she‟d gotten it all, sighedcrankily, and turned to Marina.
Marina went red. “Now, Cee, do not freak out.”
Cee set her pen down and stared at the other redheaded lady. “Do youmean to tell me, dearest of dear Marinas, that Mrs. Blackthorne has hadtwins as well?” “Possibly?” “…Go on.”
“The Blackthornes were blessed with a girl and a boy, like the Haggertys. The sonis called Carlisle Fitzhugh Blackthorne and he has his father‟s black hair and browneyes, and his mother‟s skin tone. The daughter, Miss Victoria Charlotte Blackthorne,also has her mother‟s skin tone and father‟s eyes, but shows off her mother‟s brown hairas well.”
“Oh good heavens…” Cee said, fanning herself, once the ladiesfinished. “So many babies… Three sets of twins, and in one day! Alltoday! Good heavens.” Mrs. Simself leaned back in her chair and, after agood shake of her head at the ceiling as if it was the ceiling‟s fault thatAusten men and women were as fertile as rabbits, turned back to theSimselves. “Is there anything else?”
Marina nodded. “Jamie received a letter from Requiem; they‟ve arrivedsafely in Simmaica—” “Marvelous!” “—and they‟re expecting a child.”
“I have the oddest feeling that I shall be adding a great number ofinfants to the family tree over the next few seasons.”
The Simselves shrugged and nodded. Marina added, “Mrs. ApollineFitzhugh is expecting as well, and so is….er, well she should be deliveredof the child around the same time as Requiem. Either De or I will bringyou word immediately when that happens.” “Thank you, good, good. Are any of the other newlywed couples expecting?” Di shook her head. “Not as yet, no. Mrs. Legacina and Mrs. Howardhave not yet had good luck in that respect.”
“Oh. How very disappointing…” Cee sighed. “Well. All in good time,I suppose. Erm... what else? Has anyone heard from Miss Lily? I dowonder how she gets on out there in Simdon. I must say it is unorthodoxfor a Simself to offer her services as a governess, but I suppose Lily couldnot resist. I dare say she is trying to talk Thomas into attempting to pass alaw allowing female lawyers. What nonsense, do not you… all… why thedevil do the three of you look guilty now?” Marina and Di shared a look while Katy snickered quietly.
Jeremy groaned; he‟d been here long enough to know what that sort ofthing meant where a Simself was concerned. Cee glared. “What‟s happened?”
Di and Marina had a silent argument over who would be the one tobreak the news, but Katy saved them from it. “Lily is pregnant, Cee. Ithink Cait probably knew, but decided not to tell you.” Wow, talk about throwing someone under the bus. “You‟re welcome!”
Um. Please don‟t yell. “Do not yell? I swear you just let these things happen so you have towatch me clean up the mess.” This is the part where I whistle innocently. Right? “Ugh! So,” Cee said, turning back to the others. “Miss Lily findsherself in a delicate situation.”
“Yes,” Di nodded.“I am going to hazard a guess and state that the child is Benjamin‟s?”Di sighed. “Correct.”
“Hm. Well. That shall have to be dealt with for I dare say Raphaelle isnot taking this well at all.”
Marina looked uncomfortable. “…Actually she has been rather odd about it,despite the early and understandable anger and slapping. She has now insisted thatLily is, well… at any rate she declares that Benjamin is innocent and that Lily hadsomeone else get her into such a predicament. She is allowing Lily to remain at thehouse due to—what did she say, Di?”
Di narrowed her eyes. “Due to her „immense generosity in kindness forthe less fortunate, and for those poor misguided sheep of ReverendHoward‟s holy flock‟ is what Lily tells us she said. What a load ofnonsense.”
“That absolute cow!” Cee was furious, and when Cee was furiouspropriety was thrown quite to the wind. “What is she attempting to do,make herself and her horrid husband look like saints?”
Katy shrugged. “She would.” “I‟m not entirely sure she is… all there,” Marina said awkwardly Di sighed. “I really doubt that she is all there, at this point. Certainly inher view, twisted though it may be, the fact that she as a vicar‟s wife istaking pity upon her unfortunate employee who was beset by anunscrupulous man fixes the entire situation. It directs the blame awayfrom her perfect husband, and makes her out to be a good Boolpropianwoman.” Cee shook her head. “She is in denial.” “I think so, yes,” Di agreed.
“It is unfortunate. And I suppose Benjamin will not acknowledge thechild, which leaves Lily in an awkward position. What in Plumbob‟s nameeven posessed her to entertain that man‟s desires?” “She refuses to speak about…that.” “Of course she does. The situation must be highly embarrassing. Isshe going to come home, or will she stay with the Howards and—goodLORD what must Thomas think of all this?” “Disappointed in his heir and son-in-law, but sympathetic toward Lilydue to his mother, of course, and therefore generally staying out of thewhole mess.” “Right, right.”
“And no, she is going to stay there. She does not wish to leave Ezra,”Di added, smiling despite the strange turn the conversation had taken. “Alas. Well. I cannot fault her for that. At any rate I do not think there isanything else I need—oh. How are our new guests settling in?” “Well enough,” Di said. “Cordelia, Mrs. Whedon I should say, islodging with Rose in her room, and we‟ve set Abe Munster and RhysFitzhugh up in a suite on the top floor.
“Rhys is really excited about sharing,” Marina added.
“CEE!” Jamie yelled as she burst in through the side door. “You four,OUT.”
“Oh, dear,” Cee sighed as the other Simselves and Jeremy exited theroom. “Is this about the vampire situation again? Jamie, really, I thoughtyou would be happy.”
It was somewhere around eight in the evening. Thomas, Philadelphia,Gwendolen, and Olivet had been summoned to the Simfield palace, andnone of them were very pleased with the hour.
“What I do not understand is why Mrs. Simself wished to see us atTHIS time,” Thomas grumbled, picking at his new jacket. Philadelphia patted her husband‟s arm comfortingly. “I do notunderstand either, my dear, but I am sure it is important if she has decidedto inconvenience us so.” Gwendolen and Olivet largely ignored the other two, and went on withtheir snuggling, improper though it was.
Finally, twenty minutes later, Cee entered the room. As she lookedaround at Jamie‟s children and their spouses, she announced simply, “TheCountess of Simfordshire.”
The couples looked up to see an extremely elegant woman glide into theroom; she had golden hair and skin paler than any they had ever seen. Her eyes were scarlet.
Philadelphia screamed and fainted into her husband‟s lap. Even theO‟Leerys, generally unflappable people, sat up a good deal straighter, butthey none of them could remember themselves enough to rise and curtsey.Tom, who was usually very punctual about propriety, could only sit andwave his handkerchief weakly at his wife‟s face as he stared into theCountess‟s blood-red eyes.
The elegant woman looked over Philadelphia Austen‟s unconsciousform and a wry smile decorated her features. She did so love it whenpeople had that reaction. “Good evening,” she said softly. Olivet raised an eyebrow at her perfectSimlish accent; he‟d been expecting something a la Simsylvania. “Thankyou all for being here this night. I suppose Mrs. Simself told you not thereason as to the hour nor that you would be meeting me.”
Olivet looked at Cee. “Nope, no, she seems to have forgotten thatpart.” The Countess laughed softly. “As I thought! For would you have come, hadyou known? Do not bother to answer that, young man. Well, what matters is that weare all here, no?”
“And why are we here?” Tom demanded. The Countess raised aneyebrow. “Ah, why are we here, your ladyship?”
The Countess looked them all in the eye before answering. “I am hereto speak to you all of your immortality.” The three conscious people stared, confused as ever.
Gwendolen spoke first. “But… we are not immortal, my lady. Ourmother is, but not my brother or I, and certainly not Olivet or Philly.” “No, no you are not. Not yet. And neither is… well. That is not for me toexplain.”
Cee raised her hand just as Gwendolen‟s eyes widened.“Erm, perhaps I ought to bring in their mother.”
A few minutes later Jamie Simself joined everyone in the small sittingroom. “What is this about, Cee? Oh!” she said upon realizing her childrenwere before her. “Tom, Gwen? I did not know you were coming… howare you?” “We are well, mama,” Gwen lied.
Tom stared at his mother uselessly; he‟d shifted Philadelphia into aslightly more manageable position.. “I…don‟t exactly know—Philly!” His wife‟s eyes had finally opened,and she was moaning softly. “Did I faint?” she mumbled. “Poor girl…” the Countess said quietly.
Jamie raised her eyebrows at the pale woman as she belatedly noticedher presence. Her eyes flashed with recognition. “Cee. Why is she…?” Cee thought it was probably best to speak quickly before anyone elsefainted so she interrupted, “Jamie, it was a long time ago, but I wonder ifyou remember a conversation we had on the topic of your children‟simmortality.”
Jamie sighed. “Yes, and you said I‟d have to watch them die becausethey are not immortal like me.” “Indeed, that is what I said. However, I was not entirely honest withyou. That is, I thought I was honest, but I did not understand it myself atthe time. Your children are not immortal…” “Yes, and?”
The Countess played with the chain around her neck as she finishedCee‟s thought for her. “But neither are you.”
Jamie stared. After a long minute she asked the Countess, “Shouldn‟t Ibe sort of dead, then?” “No, but you ARE about slightly older than I am,” Cee said. Jamie‟s eyes narrowed. “Explain. Now.”
Cee swallowed. “Erm, heh… ah…let me fetch Fire and Fuzzy. Theyunderstand this sort of thing far more than I do.”
It was a groggy Fuzzy and mumbling Fire that entered the room in theirnightgowns a while later. They squeaked when they realized there weremen in the house. “CEE! Warn us next time, please!” Fire yelled, covering her chestimmediately.
“I apologize; I did not even realize you were in a state of undress whenI came to get you…” Cee trailed off. She was not her usual self that night. That is to say, of course, she wasnot entirely overexcited and always thinking four steps ahead of everyoneelse. “Erm, could you please perhaps explain how the house works? I thinkit is time for everyone to understand properly.”
Fire sighed and looked at Fuzzy. “You start?” “Sure. Okay look here‟s the thing. The Simselves are not inherentlyimmortal in this existence. They are human, just like everyone else, andmay live, „hoo, breed, and die, just like everyone else. The magic, therefore,is in the houses.” Fuzzy said, rubbing her hands together simply to incitespookiness.
Fire nodded. “Simfield, where we are now, er… obviously… is underan enchantment. The other Simself home at Simton Court, too, isenchanted. While a person resides at one of the two Simself palaces, theyare in a sort of stasis… and yet, again, we remain human. Children may beconceived, carried, and borne, but once the child reaches an adult state,they will no longer age.”
“Yeah. However, when someone decides it‟s a great idea to LEAVEUS,” Fuzzy said with emphasis directed at Jamie, “and move out of one ofthe enchanted houses, the enchantment leaves them, and they begin to age.This, obviously, would explain why Miss Jamie is practically ancient whencompared to the rest of us.” “Fuzzy she‟s not that much old—” “Shh.”
For a moment after their explanations were complete, the assemblystared at Fuzzy and Fire with absolutely blank expressions.
“…Yeah. Okay, can we go back to bed now?” Fire asked, taking ineveryone‟s expressions, which clearly said that the group aside from Ceeassumed the good witch and the evil witch were both eternally crazed.
“Could you stay actually please, ladies? I think we may have questionsfor you…?” Cee prompted the group.
“That‟s it then? That‟s all there is to it?” Olivet asked. He wasextremely intrigued indeed. “Yes. Well no, not even close, but that is the gist, definitely. Sort of.” “But… how does that work? And how did you find out?”
Fire looked disappointed. “What do you think I do all day? Sew? Iresearch. And, if you‟ll recall, I used to live at Simton Court, with Gin anda very large library. Amazing, really, the things you‟ll find in a library.”
“Mhm. Also the fact that Lark is sprouting more grey hairs every fiveminutes over at Austen Park solidifies the theory,” Fuzzy added. “That too.” “But how?” “Cait‟s the real reason it happened,” Fuzzy concluded. “If you thinkI‟m bad ass, you should see the kind of power Cait wields.”
“Is she… some sort of god?”Sort of.Cee scoffed. “Hardly!”Thank you so much, Cee.
Jamie looked mutinous. “How could you do that?” she demanded.“How could you let Lark leave, and go to her death, without her evenknowing?” “Lark… knows.” “WHAT?”
Cee waved her hands about to try and calm her friend, and babbled soquickly that Jamie had to pay close attention to grasp the words. “When Frank chose to purchase 234 Pride Street for Lark, it was justdays after Fire had begun the research with Gin. I went to visit her atSimton Court so Fire, Gin, and I could speak with her... and warn her. Wetold her that leaving the protection of the Simselves could very well causeher to age, and eventually die. Lark knew the risks, and chose to accept it.She did not want to live without her daughter, she told us. She could notbear to watch Marian live and die before her.” Cee‟s eyes were swimming before she finished, but she held the tearsback.
Jamie snapped. “You knew this. When Marian was born? You knewthis that long ago? And you never told me I could leave and be with mychildren?”
“We did not KNOW! It was only a theory! It wasn‟t until Fuzzyarrived and could collaborate with Gin and Fire that we were almost sureof it. Jamie, I‟m sorry! I did not know what to do! I promise, had I knownwhen your children were born, I would have told you immediately! Butafter… I‟m so sorry.” Cee was actually crying then, and Fuzzy poked her head out of theroom to call for Jeremy.
“I can‟t believe this, Cee. I can‟t believe this of you either, Cait! You‟regoing to make me watch my babies die while Lark gets to live out a normallifespan?!” Jamie, Cee is not so good with emotional things, especially when theyconcern our—your children. We haven‟t told you because we wanted youto have the chance to be happy. To find a man you truly love, one whotruly loves you in return. When Will did what he did, rotten man, we knewit broke you. We knew that it hurt you extremely deeply, but we thoughtyou would heal eventually, and all would be well. We wanted to give youthe chance to live out a normal life with him. I still hope you can. “You‟re telling me this was all for my own good. Is that right?” Have you not realized that we are in the presence of a vampire, one thatyou know very well, even, and that we‟ve summoned your children beforeyou?
While Jamie stared furiously at the wall Jeremy came in, followed by Diand a cup of strong tea. He hugged his wife to his side and she sniffedhopefully at the tea. “Sugar?” she mumbled at Di through her hands. “Yes, Cee. Cream too.”
Jamie looked at the Countess, who bowed her head gently, threw herhands in the air, and plopped rather ungracefully into a chair.
Cee, who had regained her self-control thanks to Di‟s tea and Jeremy‟sarm, smiled weakly. “Countess, if you do not mind, would you pleaseexplain what we are proposing?”
“Yes, thank you Mrs. Simself. Children, I do not think it is a secret thatyou are all human. Indeed, you live and breathe as humans. It is somethingI envy, for I have not lived as such for quite some time.” “You‟re a vampire, is that what Cait said?” Gwendolen asked. “Yes.”
Tom snorted, and the noise made the still-shocked Philadelphia jump. “But vampires are not real! They are things of fairy stories andnonsense!”
The Countess flashed her perfectly white, pointed teeth. “I assure you,Mr. Austen, that we are quite, quite real.” Tom slumped back into his seat and swallowed. “Please accept my mostprofound apologies.” “Think nothing of it, my good sir. At any rate, if you choose, you willsoon be among my kind.”
“WHAT?” Tom blurted, turning quickly to his sister for backup. “What the devil do you think she is here for, Tom?” Gwen whisperedimpatiently. “This is our way out.”
“Yes,” the vampire agreed. “Now…” Before she went on, she lookedat every face in the room for a full second. “The life of the eternal isnothing to enter into lightly, or at the very least… the life of the eternaldarkness. There will be benefits, surely, for just as your mother will remainyoung for so long as she remains in this house, and you will remain so foras long as you will. You shall have eternal beauty and youth, your senseswill be made far more sensitive, multiplied in their effectiveness by at leastfifty times.” Again the woman paused and looked into everyone‟s eyescarefully, even the Simselves who had stayed merely to listen.
“But there are downsides,” she continued. “Very serious disadvantagesto life as one of us. You will need to feed, and I do not mean on tea andbiscuits. Certainly, you will be able to enjoy those things still, but yourpalate will not necessarily be interested in such morsels. Instead, you willwish for blood above all else.”
Gwendolen, the eternally cheerful and brave daughter of a willfulSimself and a careless father, actually paled at that.
“Yes, you will feed on human blood, though there are ways in which toget it that do not involve killing others. Drones are certainly an option, butI encourage you not to try animal blood. There are all these rumors flyingabout that such things will keep you strong, but that is utter nonsense. Itdoes not work. Not in this existence, at the very least.” “Would the sun cause us to go up in flames?” “Do not be ridiculous.”
Gwen blinked. “But… I thought all vampires slept in coffins and onlycame out at night? Is that not why we‟re here, so very late in the evening?So you will not be harmed?”
The Countess explained, “Yes and no. The sun can kill you, but notquite so easily as legend would have us believe. It does sap our strength,and if we are too long touched by its rays, it will steal our lives from usdrop by agonizing drop. The farther removed we are from the sun eachday, the more comfortable we remain, and this is why most vampireschoose to sleep in, ah, confined spaces during the daylight hours. And so,while you may survive a few hours together in direct sunlight, I do notencourage you to try it. Even as old as I am, the sun makes me dreadfullylethargic, and very quickly.”
“How old ARE you?” Olie had to ask.The Countess looked at him levelly. She sighed. “That is hardly polite.”
“Sorry,” Olie said, repentant, but he found himself hiding a snicker asFuzzy mouthed “REALLY OLD” behind the Countess‟s back; theCountess turned to stare at Fuzzy too. “Sorry, sorry,” Fuzzy waved her hands apologetically.
“There is more,” the Countess sighed. “Much more. You should knowthat you ladies will not be able to bear children. You will, essentially, bedying an unnatural death in order to avoid a natural death, but you will stillbe, for all intents and purposes, not among the living. You will be frozen.A lady must make great changes within her body in order to carry a child,and that is not possible, obviously, if a woman is a block of unchangingice. However… a man, from birth to death, changes very little internally.You will be frozen in your current state, but your… well, you would still beable to father children.”Gwen looked at her husband, and Philly at Thomas.
The Countess backtracked “Of course, as you are all happily married Ihighly doubt that is here or there. It is of no importance. Have you anyquestions for me?” The O‟Leerys and the Austens traded looks. Philadelphia was still quitefaint, and not at all looking as if she was enjoying the idea of immortality.
She wasn‟t. “Tom, I do not… that is I do not think I could do this. Think of thegirls, of Ezra?” She turned to Cee. “Would they be given this choice, ifwe chose it?” “Yes.” Philadelphia nodded. “And yet I do not think Raphaelle would take it,nor Josephine.”
“I do not either, and I do not think I could bear living and watching mychildren… no. I have seen what it has done for mama…” Tom and Philly looked at each other for a good five minutes, carryingon one of those silent conversations married couples sometimes do.
Eventually, Tom nodded and turned to look at the vampire. “My wifeand I will decline the offer.” “Very well,” she said, closing her eyes and nodding slowly. “I am notsurprised, and saying no to immortality because of the consequences maybe the wiser thing to do in your situation.”
Tom nodded, and his wife rested her head on his shoulder. Worried forher health, Tom asked, “May we leave, Mrs. Simself ?” Cee looked at Jamie apologetic and full of empathy. “Certainly,” shesaid quietly.
The group watched as Tom escorted his wife out the door. Jamie triedto stop him, but he merely interrupted her and kept walking. “Mama, I will not choose immortality over my family, nor will I forcemy wife to take the curse, when she so clearly does not like the sound ofany of it.” “But Tom!” “We will speak soon, mama.” He could not look her in the face when,in deciding not to outlive his children, he had forced her into the fate hewanted to avoid. “I am sorry.”
Jamie tried to hold in her emotion as she watched her son walk out thedoor, but she was shaking. She sat back down and turned to Gwendolenand Olivet, hoping against hope that they would have a different answer.
“Olie?” Gwen prompted. Olivet grinned. “Well I think it sounds great! I can‟t really understandthe idea of drinking blood… gross… but as you say I will want it morethan anything else? And there are ways to get it which do not involvetaking lives?”
“Indeed and yes.” “What do you think, my freaky little Gwen?” That earned him a sharplook from both her mother and Mrs. Simself. He ignored them. “Want tobe freaky in all senses of the word? Want to spend forever with me? Um,sort of literally, this time?”
Gwendolen pursed her lips. She knew none of her children wouldmind; indeed, they were all such independent people and so happy in theirown lives at the moment, she doubted they would notice much of adifference. She looked at her mother, and thought of the pain she must befacing, knowing her children are nearly old, and will die not all that farfrom now. At the idea of her own death, at being parted from Olie, Gwenshuddered. Would it be so horrible, living the life of the damned?Wait ,she thought. “Will we be… damned? To hell?”
The Countess laughed. “Nobody quite knows, dear girl. However Ishould think it quite unlikely. What are we but half dead? We do try veryhard not to kill anyone to feed our thirst, and we do not worship the devilor the reaper. Though… I must say the reaper in this dimension is anexcellent cricket player.”
Gwen nodded, showing her understanding. “I think… Olie do youthink the girls would choose it as well, when the time came?” “I do not think so, love. Maybe Story? She is the only one I can thinkof that may be up for doing this, but I doubt it. Bleu probably wouldn‟t beas interested, if at all.” “Can you bear letting them leave us?”
Olivet shrugged. “We‟ll leave them, if we don‟t do this, and it will haveto be their decision, just as it is ours now, when the time comes. Anyway,think about the possibilities! We can „hoo ALL the time and not worryabout… more… kids…” he trailed off as he caught the expression on theCountess‟s face. “Let‟s do this. If anyone can rock the undead world, itwould be us.” Gwen giggled. “Yes.”
Anne rolled her vibrant eyes. “I am told you do not have much timeleft before it is too late. Let us do this now.” “Now?!” shouted at least four voices at once. “You have until six o‟ clock tomorrow evening to make the decision,Mr. and Mrs. O‟Leery, but I must say I will not exactly be pleased if I haveto be out and about during the day simply to change you.” Olivet and Gwendolen nodded to each other and then to the vampire.The Countess smiled sadly and motioned for everyone to leave.
Jamie was outraged once again and had jumped up from her chair andinto the Countess‟s face. “But they‟re my children! Or… Gwen is! Olie isas good as!” “Hey, thanks!” Olie beamed. “Madam I hardly think this is something you would like to witness.” “But they may need me!”
The Countess gave her a wry smile. “I do not think they will need thehelp of anyone ever again, if I am quite honest with you, madam. I amvery sorry for the bluntness, but here we are. Do please exit with theothers.”
Jamie frowned, glared after Di‟s retreating figure, shouted “YOURcreation” to her, and stomped out.
As Cee shut the door behind her, the Countess grinned.“This may hurt a bit.”
Outside, Jamie was pacing; Cee and Di were trying to calm her. “Really it is for the best Jamie,” Di soothed. “I know! I know I get to keep my Gwen, but Tom! He doesn‟t want tostay…”
“We knew that was likely, and it is part of why we did not tell youbeforehand. Cait thought you would try to persuade him, and Annerefused to do it unless she was certain it was their decision alone.”
“Also, Jamie, Thomas and Philadelphia are not the sort of people togive up their normal lives simply to live forever. I think they are verycontent, where they are,” Di added.
Jamie slumped against the wall. “I want to move out.” Excuse me? “I want to move out so I can age too.” “Jamie your daughter is becoming a vampire to be with you,” Ceereminded her. “No! She is doing it because her husband thinks it will be interesting,and Gwen is always up for anything she thinks could be fun!”
“Perhaps, but think of what it means. She knows she will have to watchher children leave her just as you will watch Tom. You should focus on thefact that you will have your daughter, albeit in darkness, for the rest of yourdays.”
Jamie was quiet for a minute before she turned to Cee with a sad smile. “This was really selfish, wasn‟t it?” Cee whimpered and laid her cool hand against her face. “No, I think itis only natural to want to keep one‟s children around.”
Di was an intelligent woman, and she knew exactly what had had Cee sodistraught that night. Deciding it was time to ask the question Cee didn‟twant to answer, just to get it over with, she looked at Jeremy and noted hisnod before asking his wife, “What are you going to do about your son andCecilia?”
Cecilia Legacy and Carew Simself had become officially betrothed veryrecently. As it turned out they got on extremely well, and the arrangement,just like all of the arrangements Cee and Di put forth, ended up being alove match. As soon as Cecilia was finished studying at M. Bennet‟s andCarew had his degree from Pemberley, they would marry.
Cee groaned. “Carew has asked that he and Cecilia be allowed to livehere.” Jamie‟s jaw dropped. “That is hardly fair, Cee!”
“I know! I know. I… I told him no. His father and I are giving himwhat would be the equivalent of his inheritance were we to die, and settinghim up with a home in Simyton. He has… he has already declinedvampirism. My girls, my babies…they—Sophie and Phoebe agree withhim on this.”
“Oh, Cee. I am sorry,” Jamie murmured. The door to the small sitting room opened at the least opportunemoment; Olivet and Gwendolen O‟Leery stepped out of the sitting room.
“Happy? Of course! I am to keep my Gwendolen! But that is notimportant now!” “…Indeed?” “No, this is far more pressing: Gin has stolen my anteater pendant andrefuses to give it back, for she says it is HERS and I must have lost mine!But I haven‟t!”
“Well, I‟ve also—All?! This is very important!” “Oh for the love of…” Cee leaned back in her chair, exhausted. It wasonly three in the afternoon. …
“Marian? Are you awake?” Robert Austen whispered loudly, thereforedefeating the purpose of his whispering. He peered in the small butelegant room his sister inhabited and waited for an answer. He heard anindelicate snort come from the bed. “Clearly not as I am sitting here reading,” said a young lady‟s extremelysarcastic and muffled voice. Robert rolled dark blue eyes. “You do have the bed curtains shut,dearest sister of mine.”
Behind the creamy curtains, Marian blinked. “Oh. Right.” She placed a ribbon between the pages of her book,marking her place, and threw open the curtains.
Her eyes found her brother in the door, and as she got a good look athim, she sighed. “Oh, Robert. You look much worse today,” she said. Robert looked away and rubbed his cheek self-consciously. “It isnothing. Now do please get up, Wills and Lucas are being quite horrid, Ido not know what to do with them, and we have party guests arriving inlittle more than six hours.”
“Oh come now, Robert! Our brothers are, what, nearly thirteen yearsold and still you cannot manage them. Whoever said you were familyoriented was clearly mistaken.”
Robert frowned. “I love my family, Marian. I just get nervous withthem, and it does not help that they are usually messy, and covered in…things. It is just that I get nervous!” His sister looked at him levelly. “You‟d think your… situation… would makechildcare second nature for you.” Robert glared. “Marian,” he warned. “I said not to bring it up again!”
Marian was immediately penitent. As much as she enjoyed teasing herbrother, this particular thing was probably not the best topic to tease himabout. “Alright, I am sorry! Truly I apologize, but Robert…” “Hn,” Robert grunted. “Really, I didn‟t mean any harm. Now… why can Mama and Alice notcare for the twins? I was just getting into my book, you know. It is thenewest novel by— Robert are you quite all right?”
Robert didn‟t answer. His face was pale, gaunt… but that is how itusually was. Now it was green. Marian sighed. “What is it?” A grimace covered Robert‟s sickly face. “You do not wish to know,believe you me.” “Yes, I do.” “No, really, Marian.”
“Ugh,” Marian groaned. She quickly checked herself in her mirror,brushed down her dress, and then followed her blonde brother out of herroom and down the hall.
“Alice‟s room?” she asked when they reached the door nearest Robert‟ssuite. She and Robert entered the first room, Alice‟s sitting room, andMarian looked around curiously. “Where are they?” Robert pointed to the glass doors to Alice‟s bedchamber. Marian looked puzzled. “They‟re all in there? Is everything…”
When Robert pulled her to the glass doors Marian gave up speaking inexchange for an ear-piercing shriek. …
Thus ends the first proper chapter of Generation 5! I know it was a lot ofend tying and recapping, but in order to return to the main house I found it necessary. Next time: -Just WHAT did Marian see in Alice’s room? -The meaning behind Robert’s “situation”… -A distinct lack of spares and/or simselves. -The most annoying sim!dog ever. -Cake!I would like to thank Dicreasy ever so much for the loan of our wonderful vampire Countess, Anne Legacy.And thank you ALL so very much for your comments and input and helpand and and and… generally just thank you all for reading. It means a lot!