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A Victorian Legacy - Chapter 22.1 Happiness


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Chapter 22.1 of my Victorian Legacy, in which there is a wedding, a honeymoon and much happiness

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A Victorian Legacy - Chapter 22.1 Happiness

  1. 1. Hello and welcome back to my Victorian Legacy. I apologise for the fact that it’s been seven months since my last proper legacy chapter, but I needed a break from it, and wanted to complete the two other projects I had in mind before getting on with Eddie and his family’s story. The projects (the asylum and Vicky and Rosie’s detective story) are now done, and I’m back playing, so I’m delighted to be able to start sharing the next bit of the story with you all. As always, I can’t really recap here beyond saying that the last chapter saw the fourth generation heir Edward get engaged to Carmen Leong. For more details please read the previous chapters. If you’re ready and have your tea, let’s begin, and I do warn that there is some partially obscured nudity in this, which I hope doesn’t offend your sensibilities too much.
  2. 2. Late summer and early autumn had been very eventful for the residents of Regalton. There had been birthdays, births, sims starting university and even a kidnapping and daring rescue. However if the residents were now hoping that the rest of the season was going to be quiet, they were going to be disappointed. There were several events still to come that would demand their attention.
  3. 3. The first of which was taking place in the large townhouse in Simdon occupied by the Smiths. In the small nursery on the top most floor of the town house Alexandra Smith scooped her youngest child up and held her close. Sarah Jane scowled and started to struggle. She had been more than happy sitting on the floor playing with her wooden horsie, and wanted her mother to put her down so she could play some more. “Can you believe it my sweetheart?” Said Alexandra gently, ignoring her daughter’s squirming. “Your big brother and sister are about to become teenagers. It seems like only yesterday I was able to snuggle them as I can snuggle you,. Sarah Jane stopped struggling and put her chubby arms around her mother’s neck. “Mama snuggle.” She stated. “Yes darling, Mama snuggle you. Although you too will soon be far too big to snuggle.” She added wistfully. Her children were growing up so fast, too fast, and the fact that she knew she had another one on the way did nothing to change that fact.
  4. 4. Her wistfulness didn’t go away as she watched first Bethany, and then Christopher lean over their cakes, thoughtful looks on their faces as they decided what it was they were going to wish for. It was so hard to believe that at one point these two had caused her so much worry and anxiety. She stole a look at her husband and felt her heart skip a beat. If that wonderful man hadn’t of stood by her and asked her to marry him, she dreaded to think what would have happened to her and her children.
  5. 5. She shook herself out of her reverie and started to whirl the noisemaker she held around her head. It was no use speculating on what might have been. She counted herself as the luckiest of women. She had a husband whom she adored and adored her back, four wonderful children, with another on the way and a loving and supportive extended family.
  6. 6. The consensus in the family was that Christopher had grown into a handsome young man, and Bethany into a beautiful young woman. *** Christopher rolled Romance, Bethany Family.
  7. 7. William said as much when he cornered his daughter in the library. “I do believe that Anthony will have quite a few suitors paying visits to him to ask for permission to court Bethany.” Replied Alexandra with a smile. William returned her smile before saying. “I have been meaning to thank you for all the effort you are putting into helping with the wedding preparations. I know your mother wants to do as much as she can, but she is not as young as she was and the past few years have taken their toll on her health.”
  8. 8. “Papa, there is no need to thank me. My brother is getting married, and to a truly delightful lady this time. I would not be a very good sister if I did not want to help with the preparations.” “I know princess, but you have a house of your own to run, as well as small children to look after, and your own health to take care of.” He gave a meaningful look at the slight swell of her belly. “I wonder if you do too much at times.” “Nonsense.” Replied Alexandra with a smile. “I do only what I want to do. Now, how about we go and see if my ravenous children and their cousins have left us some cake?” William smiled. “That sounds very nice.” And arm in arm, they headed towards the dinning room. ***
  9. 9. The next big event to take place was the wedding of Timothy Legacy (Henry’s eldest son) to Lauri Simself. *** Lauri (LauriEmpress) writes the excellent Legacy of Jubilee.
  10. 10. Although the members of the main branch of the family (apart from Edward) were noticeably absent, the number of other simselves more than made up for it. We were all very happy for our friend, after all, Timothy was a good boy, despite who his father was. *** Present were Marina (smoothiequeen87 a Villainous Apocalypse), myself, Aprodita (Timothy’s mother), Doc (DrSupremeNerd the Vetinari Duaklegacy), Jamie (DocGirlP a Bohemian Legacy), Gin (GintasticNecat the Science of a Legacy), Lea (thls0 the Barsoom Legacy), Widget (the Discworld Legacy), Katy (hurrikaty the Munster Legacy), Cait (charris the Regacy), Pen (Penguingirl0384 the Penguino Legacy), Michelle (Michellefobbs a Planetary Apocalypse), Orikes (the Pseudo Legacy) and Mystery (the Goldweaver and Despret Legacies). As well as Ari, Lauri’s founder and the playable sim from my asylum, Henry and John, Timothy’s brother.
  11. 11. As I watched the two of them exchange their vows, I felt sure that the future would be bright for the two of them.
  12. 12. Although I did wonder if shoving cake into Lauri’s mouth was the smartest thing Timothy had ever done. Luckily she seemed to find the funny side of it and laughingly wiped the icing from her chin before picking up the knife to start cutting the cake into slices for her guests.
  13. 13. As well as the big events, there were smaller things occurring, including Stanley being, well, Stanley. As well as dining with Jamie several times, he had been getting to know Becca Vetinari better. They had met at my wedding, and although most parents would not want their daughter associating with a man they knew had several other girlfriends, both Indy and myself knew that Stanley had met his match in our youngest daughter. Not that he minded one bit. In short, life went on in Regalton, but not for all.
  14. 14. In the gothic mansion on the furthermost outskirts of the village, Anne Nosferatu was uneasy. She’d woken roughly an hour before sunset, and had stayed awake, staring at the interior lid of her coffin, trying to work out why she felt empty, as if something was missing from her soul. Her feeling of emptiness hadn’t faded and, several hours later, she was finding it difficult to concentrate on the game of cards she was meant to be playing with her husband, Mathias.
  15. 15. “My love, you appear to be very distracted this evening. What ails you?” Asked Mathias. “Hmm?” Asked Anne looking up, her eyes slightly unfocussed. “What is wrong?” Repeated Mathias.
  16. 16. Anne sighed. “Nothing I can put my finger on, but I feel as if something has...gone, as if I am missing something that has always been there, but what that something is, I have no idea.” She turned her head away from her husband and looked out of the window. As she did so, she saw her brother and nephew talking along the front of the house, heading to the front door. Despite the dark, her sharpened sight told her they were in mourning clothes. ‘Oh no.’ She thought. ‘I do hope that nothing has happened to Beth. William will be devastated to lose her.’
  17. 17. The heavy doorbell chimed, and Mathais glanced over at his wife, who was still looking out of the window, and noted that her hands were shaking. “Would you like me to answer it?” He asked putting the cards on the table. “Please.” Anne’s voice was barely audible. She knew that whatever news her brother had to deliver, it was not going to be good. Mathias got up from his chair and paused only to lay a hand on his wife’s shoulder before heading into the entrance hall.
  18. 18. “Good evening William, Edward.” Said Mathias cordially as he opened the front door to his brother-in-law and nephew. “Good evening Mathias. Is Annie at home?” Replied William. “She is. Please come in and I will fetch her for you.” Said Mathias extending an arm.
  19. 19. “There is no need Mathias. I am here.” Said Anne stepping out from the games room. William looked at her, marvelling again at the fact that here he was, an old man of eighty while his older sister was forever twenty, her features and skin as flawless as the day she was turned. As she stood there, he was reminded more of a frightened child than a grown woman, and wondered how much she had surmised from their appearance. “Annie, I have some news to share with you.” He said gently. Anne nodded. “We can go into the study.” She led the way into the room, her hands clasped together so as to stop them from shaking. If her heart was still beating, it would have been pounding as she walked the dozen or so steps into the study.
  20. 20. “What news do you have to share William?” Asked Anne, turning to face her brother. “Annie, oh Annie, I am so sorry.” Said William, tears evident in his eyes. “What is it?” His older sister breathed, her throat dry.
  21. 21. “Annie, Charlotta passed away earlier this evening. I think she knew it was her time and had invited is all to her house to say goodbye.”
  22. 22. “What? No!” Gasped Anne, pressing her hand to her stomach. “She cannot be gone. She can’t.” But she knew she was. Suddenly the empty feeling made perfect sense.
  23. 23. “I saw her only yesterday. She asked me to come over, even though we were not planning on meeting up.” She murmured.
  24. 24. She gave a sob. “Oh God, she knew did she not? And she said not a word to me!” She buried her head in her hands as she sobbed.
  25. 25. William hurried to his sister’s side. “Why...d.did she not t.tell me William?” She asked between wracking sobs. “Because she knew how upset you would get Annie.” He murmured. “But she is gone! W.What am I going to William?” She wailed. William just held her. He had never been close to his twin, and had no idea how Anne was really feeling. What he did know was that, with her condition, she was going to have to watch all the people she cared about die, and that it wouldn’t get any easier for her to do so. The two heirs stayed until Anne had calmed herself and reassured them that she was going to be alright, and Mathias had promised that he would look after her.
  26. 26. As they left, Anne watched the dark figures of her brother and nephew walk down the lane, tears starting to stream down her face again. 'Lotta was dead. Her twin sister, the one constant presence in her life was gone, and in her place was an empty void, black as pitch and cold as ice. How often had Charlotta rung her, or turned up on her doorstep at two in the morning just because she wanted to see her twin? How many hours had they spent, heads together giggling over some silly incident that had happened, or something a mutual acquaintance had said? 'Lotta had been the first person she had told about her pregnancies and engagement and in return she had been the first to know about Charlotta's love for Hannah. Now she was gone and Anne would not be following.
  27. 27. She smelled the spiciness of a man's cologne and realised that Mathias was standing next to her: like her he cast no reflection in the glass of the window.
  28. 28. Wordlessly she turned towards him and felt his arms envelop her, his hand stroking her back. "I am so sorry my love. I know how close you and she were." "It is not fair." Anne sobbed. "Why did she have to go?" "Everybody dies my love, you know that.” He said softly.
  29. 29. Anne pulled away from his embrace, her eyes blazing like rubies."We don't!" "No, but that is because of a conscious decision made years ago, not through any natural act." "Because life is too short and I did not want to leave those I love!" "And the price you pay for making that choice is that everyone you love will leave you instead. Surely you were told that?"
  30. 30. Anne thought back to the nights leading up to her transformation and nodded. "But I did not realise..." her voice trailed off. "None of us do." Replied Mathias sadly. "Not until it is too late."
  31. 31. Anne looked into his eyes and saw real pain there. She caressed his cheek gently. "You too have lost loved ones." He gave a sad smile. "My parents, siblings, lovers, children, grandchildren. I lived two hundred years before I met you Anne. Everybody dies my love, but you have got to make the most of the time you have with them."
  32. 32. Anne nodded. “Yes. We must. I will pay a visit to Hannah tomorrow. She will be missing her lover as much as I am missing my sister.” Mathias nodded. “I believe that is a capital idea my love.” He moved closer and put his arms around her once more. “I am certain that Charlotta would approve.”
  33. 33. Anne did visit Hannah the next day. They spent the hours of Anne’s visit laughing and crying at their memories of Charlotta. It was a good job Anne visited when she did, since the day after that, a heartbroken Hannah followed her dearest Charlotta into the world beyond. ***
  34. 34. Charlotta and Hannah’s deaths cast a sombre air over all of Regalton, and it was without much fanfare that Beth, Alexandra, Carmen and Eddie, continued with the preparations for the wedding. One afternoon, after his sons had arrived home from school, Eddie gathered the two of them in the drawing room. “What did you wish to speak to us about Papa?” Asked Stuart brightly as he sat on the settee in front of the window.
  35. 35. Eddie smiled down at his youngest son. “As you both know, in less than a week, Miss Leong and I will be married.” As he said these words, he turned to smile at Carmen who was sitting in the old wingback chair. “We know Papa.” Said Stuart. “What we have not told you yet, is that we will be taking a tour of Takemizu Village afterwards. We are planning on being away for a month.” Stated Eddie, still smiling.
  36. 36. Bertie sat, not moving as he mulled over what his father had just said. His papa was going away, leaving him and his brother, for an entire month. What about his nightmares? Had his father somehow forgotten that he was still waking most nights, screaming out because of them? His grandparents wouldn’t be able to comfort him, no one but his papa could do that.
  37. 37. “No.” He said suddenly. “I do not want you to go. Why are you going? Why can you not stay here?” “I think that it is nice that Papa and Miss Leong are going away.” Murmured Stuart, but Bertie ignored him completely.
  38. 38. “Bertie, I am not leaving you and Stuart for long, but Carmen and I, we would like to spend some time together at the start of our married life, just the two of us. I do not think that is too much to ask.” Said Eddie gently.
  39. 39. “Don’t want you to go.” Said Bertie sullenly. “But it will be fun Bertie.” Said Stuart, trying to cheer up his brother. “Grandmamma and Grandpapa will take good care of us, and I am sure we will see lots of Auntie Alexandra too. We will have Sarah Jane’s birthday party to go to as well, and we can play with David and Andrew and Peter and Celly, and before you know it, Papa and Miss Leong will be home.” Bertie didn’t say anything, he just shook his head, blinking back tears.
  40. 40. “Bertie, you are a big boy now, nearly a teenager. It is time you started to act like one and stopped being so silly. A month away from me will not hurt you.” Said Eddie sternly, but gently. Bertie’s little shoulders sagged, and Eddie immediately felt guilty. He loved his son very much, and he wanted him to be less dependent on others, especially himself, but the last thing he wanted to do was upset Bertie. As tears started to roll down Bertie’s face and drip off the end of his nose, Eddie started to wonder what he was going to do. He desperately wanted to go away with Carmen, but if Bertie was going to get this upset... Would he calm down once they were away, and would he, Eddie, be able to enjoy himself if he was worrying about his son all the time?
  41. 41. “Dearest Eddie,” said Carmen looking at him. “If Bertie does not want you to leave him, why do him and Stuart not come with us? I am certain that if you telegraph the owner of the villa we are staying in, that he will be able to move us to one with two bedrooms. Likewise, the steamship company should be able to move us to a cabin with two more berths.”
  42. 42. Eddie turned to look at his fiancée. “You would not mind if they accompanied us? This is meant to be our honeymoon trip after all.” “Not in the slightest Eddie.” She reached out and took his hand. “We have the rest of our lives to spend together. I would not begrudge Bertie and Stuart accompanying us, if that is what will make Bertie happy.” Eddie smiled at her. There was no doubt in his mind that she was sincere in her offer, and, not for the first time, he marvelled at how he could have been fooled by the selfish actions of his first wife.
  43. 43. Eddie crouched down in front of his eldest son. “If I can arrange it, so you and Stuart can come with us to Takemizu, would you like that Bertie?” Asked Eddie. Bertie nodded, wiping his nose on the back of his hand as he tried to stop sniffling. He would like that, he didn’t want to be left in Regalton while his father was away. “In that case, I will go straight to the telegraph office and send one to Takemizu, before contacting the steamship company.” Bertie nodded again and gave a big sniff. Now that he would be going with them, things didn’t seem quite so scary. ***
  44. 44. Thankfully, both the owner of the villa Eddie had rented, and the steamship company, had been able to accommodate the now enlarged Legacy party, and so Bertie had been happier in the days leading up to the wedding. The morning of the wedding, the entire house was up early, to ensure that the last minute preparations were done and that everything was in order. Beth had hurried through both boys’ bedrooms, making sure they were awake, out of bed, and knew where their best clothes were, before bustling off to the kitchen to make sure that Lucy had cleaned the silverware sufficiently. Stuart skipped into his brother’s bedroom once she had gone downstairs. “Is this not exciting? We get a new family member today. I wonder what we will call her?”
  45. 45. Bertie looked at Stuart, slightly overawed by his excitement. “Miss Leong.” He said with a shrug. “But she will not be Miss Leong, silly. Once she marries Papa, she will be Mrs Legacy, just like Grandmamma.” Pointed out Stuart. “Oh. Of course. I do not know then.” Said Bertie chewing his lip. He was suddenly hit by how different things would be once his father remarried. There would be one more member of their family, a step mother, and, much as he liked Miss Leong as a family friend, he was uncertain how much he would like her in that new role.
  46. 46. Stuart saw the worry in his brother’s eyes, and said cheerfully. “I am sure Miss Leong will tell us what she wishes us to call her. Now, shall we go and get breakfast?” He continued, changing the subject. “I am hungry.” Bertie nodded at him. “Yes.”
  47. 47. As Stuart led the way out of Bertie’s bedroom, his smile slipped. He could see how worried his older brother was about their father remarrying, whereas he was not. As long as he could remember, Stuart had encouraged Bertie to do things he thought he couldn’t do, or that frightened him. In his mind, this was no different: he was going to have to help Bertie to see that the wedding was a good thing, and that their family would be happier because of it.
  48. 48. By the early afternoon, most of the final preparations had been done, and the guests were starting to arrive. Beth knocked gently on the door to the master bedroom, and on hearing the tentative “yes?” from the other side, answered, “Carmen dear, it is Beth. May I come in?” “Yes, please do Mrs Legacy.” Responded Carmen’s gentle voice.
  49. 49. “What can I do for you Mrs Legacy?” Asked Carmen when Beth entered the room. “I was wondering if you needed any assistance getting ready dear.” Said Beth smiling at her future daughter-in-law. “I do not, but thank you for asking. Laura, has been very attentive in helping me with my hair and make up.” Said Carmen, as her closest friend packed away the cosmetics and excess hairpins the two hadn’t needed. “That is very good to hear. You look lovely my dear.” said Beth clasping her hands. “I see you have chosen to wear your hair in a traditional Takemizu style.” “I have. I do hope you are not offended by my decision. Mrs Legacy.” Asked Carmen, worry flitting across her features.
  50. 50. “Of course not! You look beautiful.” Exclaimed Beth. “Then I am very pleased that I meet with your approval Mrs Legacy.” Replied Carmen, bowing her head as she did so. “Please, Carmen, there is no need for you to be so formal with me. You will very soon be my daughter-in- law. I insist you call me,” she went to say mother, but stopped herself as memories of how her first daughter-in-law had twisted the word surfaced. “Beth.” She finished. “And you must call Mr Legacy William.”
  51. 51. Carmen swallowed, and bowed her head. “Thank you, but I was wondering if I may be so bold as to ask your permission to call you Okasan, and Mr Legacy Otosan once I am wed?”
  52. 52. Beth beamed at her, as tears pricked at her eyes. “We would be honoured.” She replied in halting Takemizu. The two women stood smiling at one another for a short moment, before Beth said, “now if you will excuse me, I must find my hat, and make sure that my grandsons are seated, ready for your entrance.” Still smiling, and with tears still pricking at her eyes Beth left the room.
  53. 53. Once Beth had composed herself and put her hat on, she went to corral her grandsons and make sure her son was ready. It would not do for Carmen to get to the chapel before Edward was waiting for her. At the bottom of the stairs, she came across Alexandra. “There you are Mama. The buffet is ready, the champagne has been opened and the cake is in the dinning room ready. I have also collected all the telegrams ready for Eddie and Carmen to read. All that is left, is for everyone who is not in the chapel to make their way there, and for the wedding to take place.”
  54. 54. “Thank you princess.” Said Beth with a smile. “But I think you should go and sit down now.” She put her hand on the mound of her oldest daughter's belly. “We do not want my latest grandchild making an appearance today.” Alexandra laughed. “I assure you Mother, the baby is not arriving today, but I will go and sit down in the chapel. You had better go and make sure that Eddie and the boys are ready.” “I am on my way.”
  55. 55. Beth made her way into the music room where the men of the family were getting ready for the wedding. “There Bertie, you look very smart.” Said Eddie as he finished tying his tie. “Can I go now?” Asked his son. He had been standing there for what felt like an age as his father had fiddled with getting his tie just right. Eddie chuckled. “Yes you can. Just do not get your clothes dirty or rumpled.” “I see you have everything under control.” Said Beth with a smile.
  56. 56. “Yes mother. The boys are ready, as is father.” “And are you?” Eddie’s face split into a broad grin. “I think so yes. We should make our way to the chapel.” “That is why I am here.” Replied his mother smiling. “I am not surprised.” Eddie laughed, and together the five members of the family left the music room on the way to the chapel.
  57. 57. Once in the chapel, Eddie was soon joined in front of the arch by his best friend Theodore. Theo had been the best man at his first wedding, and couldn’t help but ask “how are you feeling old chap? As nervous as you were, er, last time?”
  58. 58. Eddie laughed. “No, not at all. In fact, I cannot wait. This time, it feels right. Hah, do you think that I subconsciously knew that last time it would end in disaster?” “I couldn’t say old man. But it is possible that you had picked up on some of her less desirable traits, but dismissed them because you thought you loved her.” Replied Theo reasonably. “Yes. And I did think I was in love with her. At least she gave me my two sons.” “She did indeed, and they are lovely boys.” “They are. I am very lucky.”
  59. 59. As Eddie and Theo continued to chat, one of those lovely boys was looking over at his father, a worried look on his face. He knew he should be happy that his father was marrying the nice Miss Leong, but still he felt a gnawing doubt over it. Things would be so different after today, and he wasn’t sure he wanted that.
  60. 60. Eddie broke away from Theo and wasn’t surprised when his friend joined his wife, Doc on a pew. Eddie started to fidget with excitement, the eyes of his family on him as he waited for his bride.
  61. 61. After what felt like an age, he heard the doors at the end of the chapel start to open. He looked over and what he saw took his breath away. Carmen looked radiant. Her jet black hair was pinned back in an elegant and exotic style, and she was wearing a garment, the like of which Eddie had never seen before. Floor length, made of embroidered silk, it appeared to be wrapped around Carmen and secured with a sash. The embroidery on the gown shimmered in the light as she walked towards him, and he heard his mother exclaim to her grandson, "a kimono, how lovely. I have not seen one since I was in Takemizu for my honeymoon with your grandfather, Bertie." Kimono. So that was what it was called.
  62. 62. As Carmen reached the arch and turned to face him, Eddie leant forward and whispered in her ear, "you are beautiful." "And you are very handsome." She replied, a smile lighting up her face. "Are you ready to become my wife, to spend the rest of your life with me?" He asked. Carmen reached out and took his hand. "More than anything." She relied. “Then let us delay no longer.”
  63. 63. “I Edward George Legacy, take thee Carmen Leong, to be my lawful wedded wife. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
  64. 64. “I Carmen Leong, take thee Edward George Legacy, to be my lawful wedded husband. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
  65. 65. As Eddie and Carmen broke apart, the family took to their feet and started to clap, including Stuart, and Bertie who was putting a brave face on his feelings.
  66. 66. Eddie and Carmen turned and smiled at their family. What ever the future had in store for the, they would face it together *** Carmen Leong, former downtownie teen (stripy trousers, white jacket, mad hair. You all know the one). She’s a grilled cheese sim, who moved into the family having eaten 129 sandwiches. Her personality is 6,5,8,3,3 and she moved into the household with §1,724.
  67. 67. “Congratulations Eddie.” Said Beth pulling her son into an embrace. “I am so happy for the two of you.” “Thank you Mother. I cannot tell you how happy I am.” “I think we can all tell darling.”
  68. 68. After being congratulated by the rest of the family Eddie and his bride retired to the dinning room to cut the wedding cake.
  69. 69. Just as with his first marriage, Eddie decided that it would be best to feed his bride some cake nicely. This time it was not because he was worried about his wife’s reaction, but rather out of respect for her.
  70. 70. Bertie stood watching as Eddie and Carmen stood laughing and chatting as they cut the rest of the cake into slices for their guests. His father looked so happy: Bertie couldn’t remember seeing him so happy, and maybe things weren’t going to be so bad after all. He supposed he would find out how things were going to be on the trip to Takemizu. Takemizu. A wriggly hot feeling crept into his belly when he thought about the trip tomorrow, and, having grabbed a piece of cake and quickly said thank you to his father, he fled from the room to be by himself.
  71. 71. Soon the party was well underway with the family busy talking, and dancing and laughing.
  72. 72. Eddie was in his element, flitting from family member to family member, spending quality time with them before seeking out his bride once more. Of course some conversations took longer than others. “Congratulations again Eddie. Marriage may not be for me, but I am sure you and Carmen will be very happy.” Drawled Stanley Eddie laughed. “I am sure I will be, and as for you, well you never know, in this multiverse that Theo keeps going on about, there may be a Stanley somewhere who is old, married, bald, with children and grandchildren.” Stanley laughed. “I resent the bald remark!” “But not the married?” Countered Eddie. “No, strangely enough. I have no plans to marry here, but if I am married somewhere else, well it would mean that, she must be really something special.”
  73. 73. Carmen was on her way to the kitchen with a stack of dirty plates, when she noticed a lone figure sitting on the steps leading down into the garden. Putting the plates on the buffet table, she pushed the French windows open and stepped outside.
  74. 74. “Bertie, what are you doing out here? It is getting cold, please come inside.” Bertie just shook his head and continued to stare out at the garden. “Perhaps I can join you then?” For a short moment it looked as if Bertie was not going to respond, but eventually he shrugged and said quietly. “If you so wish.”
  75. 75. Carmen sat on the step next to Bertie and waited to see if he was going to say something. She didn’t have to wait long. “I am sorry.” He said quietly. “Whatever for?” “For getting upset when Papa said you were going away.” Hot guilt squirmed in his stomach again. “Now me and Stuart will be going with you, rather than going on your own.”
  76. 76. “Bertie, you and Stuart are as much my family now as your father. As such, I am very pleased to be able to show the two of you the land of my birth. I do not begrudge you accompanying us at all.” Replied Carmen truthfully. “You do not?” “No.”
  77. 77. Bertie looked thoughtful for a moment, the feeling of guilt lessening, before saying, “you are not from Simland?” Carmen shook her head. “No I was born in Takemizu, but came to Simland when I was not much older than you.” “Why?”
  78. 78. Carmen stared into the middle distance for a bit. “There was an earthquake, buildings fell and many were killed, including my parents. I lived in a orphanage for a short while before I was adopted by a Simlish couple.”
  79. 79. Bertie looked at Carmen distressed. “You lost your papa?” He breathed. “I did.” She said sadly. “But the people who adopted you, they were nice? The man became your new papa?” Carmen thought of the Tricous and how Jonathan and Jennicor had neglected their biological children to travel the globe and find other children to add to their family that they would then ignore. They could have been a lot worse she supposed, but they had hardly been loving parents. “They became my family and I have been happy since I arrived on these shores.” She replied, neatly sidestepping the details inherent in Bertie’s question.
  80. 80. Bertie nodded, seeming satisfied with her answer. “And now we are your family.” “Yes, you are.” Bertie nodded slowly. “What do you want Stuart and me to call you?” “Oh.” That was something Carmen had not given much thought to.
  81. 81. She thought for a moment before saying, “perhaps, perhaps the two of you would care to call me kasan.” “What does that mean?” Asked Bertie, his brow furrowing. Carmen hesitated. “It is Takemizu for mama.” Bertie went still for a moment. He didn’t like his mama and hadn’t seen her for a few years now, not that he had seen her a lot when she had lived with them. He didn’t want to call another person mama because of the associations, but kasan, that was a different word, and Miss Leong was now married to his papa, which to his childish reasoning made her his mama. “Yes.” He said finally. “I will call you Kasan.”
  82. 82. Later, once all of their guests had left, and the two little boys in bed, Eddie and Carmen finally had the chance to spend some time together, just the two of them. “What an exhausting day.” Said Eddie putting his arm around his new wife. “Yes, dearest Eddie, but a joyous one.” “Yes.” He smiled down at her. “Bertie seemed happier before he went to bed too.” Carmen nodded. “We had a conversation earlier and he seemed happier afterwards.” “Good. I do worry about him.” “Of course you do. He is your son.” Eddie looked at her, his eyes roaming from feature to feature.” “What is it?” She asked.
  83. 83. “I love you.” “I love you too.”
  84. 84. While the younger Mr and Mrs Legacy celebrated their marriage, the older Mr and Mrs Legacy had made sure that house was tidyish and secure. “What a lovely day.” said Beth, sinking gratefully onto the bed. “It was, was it not?” Replied William with a smile. “And you certainly seem much happier than you have for a while.” “I am. I never did yell you what my birthday wish was, did I?” “Of course not, it will not come true if you tell someone.” Exclaimed Beth. “Ah, but now I think it has. I wished that each of our three children would find the happiness with their spouse that I have found with you.”
  85. 85. “Oh William, you are a soppy soul at times, but I love you more than you could possibly know.” Said Beth snuggling up to him. “And I give thanks everyday for that fact.” Replied William returning her embrace. ***
  86. 86. The entire family was so worn out by the events of the day before, that they overslept slightly.. Thankfully, both Alexandra and Beth had made sure that Eddie and the boys’ trunks had been packed the day before, so there was no rushing around looking for clean shirts and socks. All they needed to do was make sure they trunks were ready in the hall waiting when the carriage arrived to take them to the port. Stuart was the first out the door when it finally arrived, excited by the prospect of his first sea voyage, he skipped down the steps to the waiting carriage.
  87. 87. Bertie followed a moment later. Despite Carmen’s reassurance the night before, he still felt guilty about intruding on the trip to Takemizu. He should never have let his emotions get the better of him on the day his father had told him about the trip. Eddie followed close behind, humming under his breath. He was looking forward to, not only to seeing the country Carmen was born, but also spending time with his family, away from the pressures of everyday life.
  88. 88. Carmen was the last to leave the house. She was so excited to be on her way home, even if it was for only a short visit. The fact that she would be sharing her first visit home since she was a teenager with the man she adored and two little boys she was very fond of, made it all the more special. ***
  89. 89. The sea voyage from Simhampton was mostly uneventful, although there had been an incident where Stuart had found his way down to the engine room and spent, what he thought was a very enjoyable hour down there before he had been found by his worried father and petrified brother. For the rest of the journey, much to their dismay, Eddie insisted that the two boys stayed within in his sight, and so it was without further incident that they arrived at the villa they were staying at in Takemizu Village. “What a beautiful place.” Said Eddie as they waited for their luggage to be unloaded and taken inside. “I am happy you think so.” Replied Carmen. “I am going to make sure our belongings are taken safely to our villa Do you mind keeping an eye on the boys?”
  90. 90. “You know I do not. Please make sure our accommodations are ready for us. I will bring the boys in when you are ready for them.” Replied Carmen with a smile.
  91. 91. While Eddie followed the porters to the villa they had rented, Carmen turned to find where the boys were. She found them playing in the road. “Please, Bertie, Stuart, do not play in the road. There are far too many vehicles about to make it safe. Play over here please.” For a moment it looked as if the two boys hadn’t heard her, but they then changed the direction of their playing and moved to the side of the road.
  92. 92. She was still watching them play when a local approached her. “Welcome to beautiful Takemizu. I very much hope you enjoy your stay on these shores.” He said dropping into a deep bow.
  93. 93. Carmen dropped elegantly into a bow of her own. “I am certain I shall. It is far too long since I was last home.” She replied in Takemizu. “You are from here originally?” “Yes.” “Then welcome home dear sister. May your stay here be peaceful and soothing to the soul.” He replied before walking off.
  94. 94. A little over half an hour later, Carmen stood looking at her reflection in the mirror. She had changed out of her western clothes into one of several kimono she had brought with her and swept her hair up into an ornate bun like the one she had worn for her wedding. She brushed a stray strand of hair from her face and secured it with one of the pins, studying her face as she did so. Without the heavy bridal make up, it was as if she had gone back in time to her early teens, and she barely recognised the woman staring out of the mirror. ‘So many years.’ She thought. ‘But now I am here again, married and very happy. I do hope that Edward does not mind that I have changed my clothes.’ She smoothed the obi around her waist and took one last look in the mirror before heading into the living area of the villa.
  95. 95. “Dearest Eddie, would you and the children like to go for a short walk. There is a market nearby where we can also eat.” Said Carmen seeing Eddie sitting on the settee. “That sounds lovely my dear.” Said Eddie. He turned to look at her and gasped. “What is it?” She asked worried by the fact he was staring at her.
  96. 96. Eddie got up from his seat and gently ran a finger along the line of her jaw. “You are so beautiful. I feel like I am the luckiest man on Earth.” “You flatter me too much.” Replied Carmen, a blush rising on her cheeks. “You do not mind that I have changed into a kimono?” “Why should I mind? You look especially beautiful when you wear your hair like that and put on a kimono.” He leant forward and kissed her tenderly. “Thank you dearest Eddie.”
  97. 97. “Welcome to Takemizu market.” Said Carmen twenty minutes later as they arrived at the market. “There has been a market here for hundreds of years. It is now found in the pagoda, but that is a recent development. When I was a child, the stallholders still sold their goods in the open air, where the Zen garden is now situated.” The two little boys made uninterested sounds, and shuffled their feet. “If you are hungry, there are plenty of stalls selling local delicacies.” Pointed out Carmen, mindful of the fact that the boys hadn’t eaten since breakfast just before they disembarked from the steamship. “That does sound nice, does it not boys?” Said Eddie. “Let us find one and eat.”
  98. 98. They found a stall serving food just outside the pagoda and sat down. “The food smells lovely does it not Bertie?” Asked Eddie as he pulled his chair up to the stall. “It does.” “What would the two of you like to eat?” “I want to try that.” Said Stuart pointing to a bowl the cook had handed to another customer. “So do I.” Said his brother immediately. “It does look nice. Three of those please.” Said Eddie pointing for the benefit of the stallholder. “Three chirasi.” Said the cook getting to work dishing it up.
  99. 99. It wasn’t long before all three of the Legacy men had a bowl of chirashi in front of them, but while Stuart tucked into it with abandon, laughing as he dropped rice while trying to get the hang of the chop sticks, Bertie started pushing the rice and prawns around with his, making no attempt to eat the contents of the bowl. “What is wrong?” Asked Stuart noticing. “Nothing.” Bertie paused before saying quietly. “What is it like?”
  100. 100. Stuart raised some more to his mouth, half of which ended up escaping from his chopsticks, landing on the counter in front of him, and thought as he ate. “It is nice. I like it.” He said at last. “Will I?” Bertie asked hesitantly. “I do not know. You will have to try it and find out.” Stuart shrugged and turned back to his dish.
  101. 101. Bertie paused, his chopsticks hovering above his bowl. There was only one way to find out if he would like it he supposed. He plunged his chopsticks into the bowl and scooped some rice into his mouth. He sat there for a moment, pushing the rice around his mouth. It was nice he decided. He scooped up a prawn next and did exactly the same. Pushing it around his mouth before he started to chew it. Hmm. He swallowed. It was nice, he liked it. Nodding, he continued to eat, wondering why he had been so nervous about trying it.
  102. 102. While the boys were eating, Carmen was taking advantage of the time on her own to rake the Zen garden. The peace and tranquillity flowed into her and she wondered if she would ever be as happy as she was at that moment.
  103. 103. Having finished his food, Stuart slipped off his chair and hurried up to Carmen. “Kasan, what are you doing?” “I am tending to the Zen garden Stuart.” “Why?” “It helps to order one’s thoughts and feelings. To help one concentrate and relax.” Answered Carmen. “Oh. Can I have a go?” “I think you are too little to hold the rake at the moment Stuart. When you are older, perhaps we will come here again and you can tend the garden then.” Stuart pouted for a moment before nodding. “I will wait until I am bigger then.” He stifled a yawn.
  104. 104. “You are tired. It has been a long day, and it is time you and your brother got ready for bed.” Said Carmen. “I am not.” Protested Stuart as he stifled another yawn. “I do not want to go to bed.” “But I believe that is the best place for you. If you do not get a good night’s sleep, then you will be too tired to enjoy tomorrow.” Explained Carmen patiently. Stuart bit his lip as he mulled it over. He really did not want to go to bed, but he was tired and he didn’t want to not enjoy himself tomorrow when there would be plenty of time to explore Takemizu further. Carmen looked down at him. “Come now, let us find your father and brother dear Stuart and head back to the villa.” This time there was no resistance to her suggestion.
  105. 105. Stuart wasn't the only one who was tired, and almost as soon as both boys were in bed, they were asleep. ***
  106. 106. The boys slept well, but were still up fairly early, so excited were they about being in a foreign country. Carmen was on her way to the bathroom, not long after dawn, when she saw the two brothers talking in the little living room of the villa. “Then I saw the man drop into a bow like this, just as Kasan did yesterday when we first arrived.” Said Bertie imitating the gesture he had seen the local man do. “Why did he do that?” Asked Stuart confused. “I do not know.” Admitted Bertie.
  107. 107. “It is our way of greeting each other, much how people shake hands in Simland.” Carmen explained to the two brothers. “It shows respect to the other person, but you do not need to bow as deeply as you just did Bertie. A bow such as this is sufficient.” Carmen bowed in demonstration.
  108. 108. “Do you mean like this?” Asked Bertie dropping into such a deep bow he almost lost his balance. “Not quite dear Bertie. You are still bowing too low, but practice makes perfect. Do not give up.” Encouraged Carmen.
  109. 109. There were many sights Carmen wanted to share with her new family, and so once she was dressed, she led them to a park she remembered from her youth. Shops and pavilions had sprung up in it, but at the heart of it was a shrine. Tourists and visitors had come to know it as a wishing shrine, and threw money into it, hoping that their desires would come true, but Carmen had been told differently. Her mother had explained to her that it was a place to give thanks to the ancestors, and a place to pay them respect.
  110. 110. ‘I have much to be thankful for today.’ She thought as she located a coin as an offering. ‘I am thankful for the love of my husband. I am thankful for my new family, and I do not think I have ever been this happy. Thank you for this happiness.’
  111. 111. She flicked the coin into the air and watched as it landed with a clink in the offering bowl.
  112. 112. A green light seemed to emanate from the shrine and Carmen felt a wave of peace wash over her.
  113. 113. She stood for a while enjoying the feeling, before suddenly realising that she had told Eddie that she would be but a moment. If she was away too long, he would start to worry. With one last look at the shrine, she turned and headed to the shop where she had last seen her husband and stepsons.
  114. 114. She entered the shop to find her stepsons looking through a rack of kimono and hakama, but her husband was nowhere to be seen. “Where is your dearest father?” Asked Carmen as Stuart pulled a blue kimono out from the rack. “Lavatory, Kasan.” Exclaimed Bertie. “He asked the shop assistant to look after us.” He pointed at the till where the assistant was standing, a bored expression on her face. “I like this one,” said Stuart holding it up. “Do you like this one Bertie?” Bertie shrugged. “It is alright I suppose. I like that one better.” He said pointing to a red one on the rack. Carmen was suddenly struck by an idea. “Please boys, choose which one you like best.” “This one.” Said Stuart without hesitating, holding up the one he had just removed from the rack. “Bertie?” “Err, that one. No, that one.” Said Bertie, pointing to black kimono he had just seen.
  115. 115. Fifteen minutes later, the two little boys stood outside of the dressing room in their new clothes. “What do you think dearest Eddie?” Asked Carmen. “I think that they look very smart.” He replied smiling down at his sons. “I am glad to hear that, because Bertie and Stuart have picked a kimono out for you too.” Said Carmen. “it is in the dressing room.” “How lovely, I will of course change into it straight away.” With a smile at his family, Eddie headed into the dressing room to see what garment his sons had picked out for him.
  116. 116. “Do you like it?” Asked Carmen when Eddie stepped out of the dressing room in his new clothes. “I do. Did you help the boys pick it out?” “I may have helped them a little, yes.” Admitted Carmen. “I thought you might have done. Does it suit me?” “Yes, you look very handsome.” Carmen smiled at him. “Then I make a good companion to my beautiful wife.”
  117. 117. Having paid for their purchases, the Legacy family left the park to continue their tour of the sights. They had walked a fairly short distance when they came across another pagoda, this one set on the shore of a large lake. Carmen crossed the bridge over the smaller lake in front of it. “Still it stands, untouched.” She muttered looking up at the structure.
  118. 118. “It is a very beautiful structure.” Said Eddie joining her on the bridge. “Yes it is.” Replied Carmen. “It is the Imperial Pagoda and is said to be the oldest pagoda in Takemizu. So many newer buildings fell in the earthquake, but many of the older buildings survived intact, including the pagodas. It is something I cannot help but be glad about.” “That is understandable.” Said Eddie moving closer to her. “They are part of your heritage after all, part of who you are. I would feel exceedingly glad if the Tower of Simdon or Simminster Cathedral survived a natural disaster.” Carmen just smiled at him.
  119. 119. “You have such a spark and glow about you since we have arrived.” He muttered, putting his arms around her. “Being home with my family, has made me happy. It is a privilege to share the sights of my childhood with you my dearest Eddie.” Replied Carmen, neglecting to mention how liberated she felt away from the western trappings she had been forced to adopt. “It is a real honour that you choose to share them with me.” Said Eddie, leaning forward to kiss her. Before he could though, they were interrupted by Bertie saying. “I am hungry. Can we get something to eat now?” So involved in their conversation, both Eddie and Carmen had forgotten about the two boys. “Of course.” Said Eddie breaking away from his wife. “I am certain there will be some place we can eat near here. Let us find it.”
  120. 120. The family did find a stall selling sushi not far from the pagoda, and after eating, they spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the countryside. They returned to the villa not long after sunset, again with two exhausted little boys. “Sleep well.” Murmured Eddie as he kissed each boy in turn before extinguishing the lamp.
  121. 121. “The boys are both fast asleep.” Said Eddie when he joined Carmen on their bed. “I fear I have worn them out today.” Said Carmen. “Perhaps tomorrow we will do less walking. There are other parks nearby I wish to show you.”
  122. 122. “I assure you, I do not mind if my sons are exhausted and in bed early.” Said Eddie shifting closer to his wife. “Besides, today has been lovely. It is nice to be shown the beautiful scenery, by a beautiful local.” He paused before continuing in a soft voice. “I hope the inevitable reminders of those you lost in the disaster have not been too painful for you.”
  123. 123. “I do not deny that there are times it is painful, nor can I deny the fact that I wish you could have met my parents; they would have approved of you, I am certain. But somehow, it does not hurt so much because you are here with me.” Whispered Carmen.
  124. 124. ***
  125. 125. ***
  126. 126. As Eddie lay in bed, he listened to the sound of the stream outside the villa bubbling over the rocks. It was so peaceful here, so tranquil, part of him never wanted to leave. It also wasn’t hard for him to see the influence this country had on his gentle and unassuming wife. He felt Carmen stir and snuggle closer to him, and he smiled. "Are you happy my love?" He asked, stroking her hair. "Very." Answered Carmen quietly. "I did not believe it was possible to be this happy."
  127. 127. Eddie kissed the top of her head. "You have no regrets about marrying me then?" She turned her head and kissed his chest. "None. I love you my dearest Eddie. "
  128. 128. "I love you too. And you do not mind the children coming with us?" "Of course I not, I have always been fond of your boys, and look forward to getting to know them as their kasan." "It is just a honeymoon normally involves only two people..." Carmen tilted her head to look at him and laid a finger on his lips. “Dearest Eddie, shush. I understand why they had to come, and I do not begrudge it. Please stop worrying."
  129. 129. He held his wife tight; he could tell she really didn’t mind. “I do not deserve you.” He murmured. “Yes, you do.” She murmured back. ***
  131. 131. “BERTIE!” Eddie shot upright as the screams of his eldest son rent the air.
  132. 132. He bolted out of bed and was nearly at the door when Carmen called to him. “What?” Bertie screamed again. “Clothes." Eddie cast around, and grabbed his pyjama bottoms from the chair. He struggled into them as he half hopped, half ran to the door and his son's aid.
  133. 133. While their father was struggling into his pyjamas, Stuart, woken by his brother’s screams, was trying to calm Bertie down. “Bertie, shush it is only a dream; a dream a cannot hurt you. Anyway, I am here.” His words were lost under his brother’s screams.
  134. 134. Eddie entered the room in a rush and gently moved his youngest son out the way, his gaze never leaving the older boy who was now sitting up in bed, his eyes half open and unseeing as he continued to scream and whimper. “Thank you Stuart, go sit in the drawing room please.” Said Eddie as he moved towards the bed. “He will not stop screaming Papa.” Said Stuart quietly. “I know. Do not worry, go sit down, I am here for your brother now” Still Stuart made no move to go, instead standing looking at his brother, a worried expression on his face.
  135. 135. Carmen slipped into the room, having found her gown and fastened it around herself. “Stuart, come sit with me in the other room please.” She said gently. “But I want to make sure...” “Your papa is with Bertie now. We will do better in the other room.” She held her hand out to him. Frowning, he took it and allowed her to usher him out of the room.
  136. 136. They sat on the small settee, listening to Bertie’s screams subside into sobs. “Why does Bertie suffer from nightmares?” Asked Stuart after a while. “That I cannot answer. I do not think even Bertie knows why.” Replied Carmen. “He has no reason to have them.” Pointed out Stuart. “I know, but I am afraid that he feels he has, otherwise the nightmares would stop.” Said Carmen gently. Stuart nodded slowly, lost in thought.
  137. 137. “I hear him wake screaming at home.” He said at last. “I get out of bed, and head to the door to his room, to see if I can make it all better for him. Papa is always there first, so I go back to bed, and listen to him crying. I wish they would stop. I wish there was a way that I could have them instead.”
  138. 138. Carmen looked at the little boy for a moment, worry evident in her eyes. “That is very noble of you dear Stuart, but I do not think your brother would wish them on you. Not only because he would not want you to suffer as he does, but also because they are something he has got to overcome on his own. No one else can do it for him.” Stuart nodded slowly. “Yes. But if I can help him, I will.” “I am certain that he will be most grateful for your help.” Said Carmen carefully. Since joining the family, she had noticed how much Bertie seemed to rely on his father and brother. She hoped that it was something the older boy would grow out of when he became a teenager.
  139. 139. They hadn’t noticed that Bertie had fallen silent, until Eddie exited the children’s bedroom. “How is he?” Asked Carmen when Eddie approached them. “I have managed to calm him, but he does not want to sleep alone. Would you mind if he sleeps in our bed for the rest of the night?” Asked Eddie hesitantly.
  140. 140. “Dearest Eddie, you know I do not. I will sleep in his bed tonight, if he needs the comfort of his papa.” Replied Carmen, making to get up from the settee. “Thank you for understanding.” “You do not need to thank me my dearest.” She kissed him tenderly before heading to the boys’ room, and the bed that would be hers for the rest of the night.
  141. 141. Once settled in his father’s bed, Bertie slipped into a dreamless sleep, not waking until dawn. ***
  142. 142. While dressing the next morning, Bertie and Stuart insisted that they wanted to wear their new clothes, and since they were wearing their new clothes, Eddie had to wear his too. Carmen couldn’t help but feel proud of her family as they walked through the streets of Takemizu Village. Her stepsons looked so sweet in their kimonos, while she thought that Eddie looked even more handsome than usual in his. As they walked past one a park which contained a couple of tea pavilions, she was struck by an idea and asked if they wanted to take tea there. Their reactions were unanimous, although the two little boys didn’t realise that they wouldn’t be served the milky, sweet Indian tea they were used to their grandmother making for them at home.
  143. 143. They settled in one of the pavilions, and as she went through the once familiar ritual of preparing the tea, Carmen explained each part of the ceremony and its significance to her family. Stuart especially seemed very interested and asked her question after question as she worked.
  144. 144. As her family sipped their tea, she stole a look at Bertie. He seemed happy enough, despite the nightmare of the night before, and certainly seemed to be enjoying the tea ceremony.
  145. 145. She breathed in the scent of the tea as she lifted it to her lips. Taking tea in the park was pleasant, but she wondered if her family would enjoy taking part in a tea ceremony in a tea house. She sipped the hot drink as she mulled the idea over. She would perhaps broach the idea with Eddie later, and see what he said.
  146. 146. “Did you enjoy your tea?” Carmen asked Bertie once they had finished. “Yes. It did not taste like the tea Grandmamma serves, but it was very nice anyway. I would have liked a custard cream to eat with it though.” Replied Bertie thoughtfully. Carmen giggled. “My dear Bertie, I make a promise to you that I will bear that in mind for the future.”
  147. 147. Bertie looked at her as if trying to figure out if she was taking the mickey out of him. He decided to play along with her and see how she reacted. “I do think you should remember it Kasan. Tea is not the same without a nice biscuit to eat with it.” “I will endeavour to make sure that there are some sweet refreshments for you the next time I serve you tea.” Said Carmen sincerely. “Thank you Kasan.”
  148. 148. While Carmen was talking to Bertie, Eddie and Stuart made their way to a nearby Zen garden, where Eddie spent some time raking the gravel into neat, straight lines while Stuart watched him.
  149. 149. They spent all morning and the early afternoon in the park, before taking a walk through the nearby hills...
  150. 150. ...where even a sudden downpour couldn’t spoil their enjoyment of the day. ***
  151. 151. Carmen woke early the next morning, following an uninterrupted nights sleep. There was someone she needed to visit, and with the number of days remaining in Takemizu fast dwindling, she had decided the night before that today was the best day to go. She dressed with care, selecting another new kimono and twisting her hair up into the now familiar knot. Dawn was breaking by the time she was ready, and after kissing her husband good bye and promising to take care but be back as soon as she could, she set out for her destination.
  152. 152. She walked for nearly an hour, following a well kept path that was surprisingly difficult to see from the more well trodden paths of the area. Eventually the path led her to a solitary pagoda, situated deep within the rolling hills. She had told Eddie a half truth when she had said the Imperial Pagoda was the oldest in Takemizu: it was the oldest pagoda that was well known outside of the country. The pagoda she now stood in front of however, truly was the oldest in Takemizu, but was known only to the locals and the handful of tourists who had stumbled upon it. Her eyes travelled from the top of the simple wooden structure to the small figure sitting underneath it. She took a deep breath and smoothed her kimono before making her way up the path to the pagoda.
  153. 153. The old man showed no sign that he was aware she was there as she approached him. Dropping into a bow she murmured “greetings esteemed Sage.” The old man opened his eyes and looked at her. “Greetings daughter of Takemizu.”
  154. 154. He unfolded himself and stood up. “It has been many years since you were last here.” He said as he studied her face. She nodded. “It has. I am glad to be home, if only for a short while.” The old man nodded and looked at her hand. “You are recently wed too.”
  155. 155. “I am, yes.” Answered Carmen. “Then you will be wanting your blessing.” Said the Sage astutely. “...Only if it is not too much trouble.” Responded Carmen, embarrassed now she was standing in front of the elder. “It is no trouble daughter of Takemizu, and it is your right, but perhaps first, you would like to serve the tea.” He motioned towards the table, already set for the ceremony. Carmen bowed her head. “But of course, if you so wish.”
  156. 156. As she went through the motions of the ceremony, the Sage watching her every move, Carmen was glad she had suggested taking tea in the park the day before. The ritual may have still been familiar to her, but the first time she had gone through it, she had been noticeably clumsy in her actions. This time her movements were much smoother as she whisked the tea after adding hot water to it.
  157. 157. The tea made, she lifted the bowl to her lips and took a sip. As she lowered it, the Sage leant across and gently took the bowl from her hands. As he settled back on his cushion, her bowl cupped in his hands he said to her “please pour yourself another cup if you wish to take refreshment.”
  158. 158. As she did so, he concentrated on the little bowl in his hands, using it as a conduit to Carmen’s place in reality. There were times when he opened his mind that it was difficult to relate what he found there in such a way that it would act as a warning, without causing the person sitting opposite him to react negatively. When he opened his mind to Carmen and her husband, there were no such worries. “Edward Legacy is a good man.” He said smiling at her. “He will make you very happy and will adore you for the rest of his days.”
  159. 159. “He is a good man, yes. I love him very much.” Replied Carmen. “You say we will be happy?” “Yes daughter of Takemizu.” Confirmed the Sage. “You will be happy in you marriage.” Carmen smiled at the thought. “Thank you.”
  160. 160. The Sage peered further at the steam rising from the tea. “I remember Edward’s parents. They visited me decades ago; they are also good people, and will be very pleased to meet their granddaughter.” He let the final word sink in.
  161. 161. “I...we...will have children?” Asked Carmen hesitantly. “Your daughter will arrive within the year.” Confirmed the old man. Carmen looked down at her tea and smiled. She was going to give Eddie a daughter. She loved her stepsons, and would have been content to be a mother to them, but the thought of having a child of her own blood filled her with happiness. Her stepsons. “Can you tell me about Bertie and Stuart? Eddie’s sons.” She asked quietly.
  162. 162. The Sage closed his eyes for a moment before focussing once more on the steam rising from the hot liquid. As he watched two tendrils of steam rose, and twisted onto each other like a helix, breaking away briefly before twisting together again. The pattern repeated again and again as he looked at it in silence. “Albert and Stuart are very close. They need each other, and will continue to do so.” He said at last.
  163. 163. Carmen looked at him, worry crossing her features. “It is true, Bertie relies on his brother, perhaps too much.” She murmured.
  164. 164. The Sage looked over at her. He found it telling that Carmen had immediately jumped to that conclusion from his statement. Perhaps he needed to say more. “Please remember,” he started, “that the younger boy will need his brother just as much as the older boy does now. And needing each other is not necessarily a bad thing.” Carmen nodded slowly. “You are correct, but I worry about Bertie so.” “That is because you care.” He could tell she desperately needed comfort about her oldest stepson, and cast around for some words he could say that would help. “Albert is stronger than he gives himself credit for.” He paused. “In time he will learn that.”
  165. 165. His words did comfort Carmen, and the blessing over, the two of them finished the tea before Carmen took her leave of him. Her blessing had been a positive one, and she felt at peace as she left the ancient pagoda.
  166. 166. From the shelter of the pagoda, the Sage was looking up, as if he could see through the wooden structure to the sky. Opening himself up to the vibrations of the multiverse was always a risky undertaking because he never knew what he would uncover about a person and their future. Indeed there were times when we wondered why he had started to do such a thing. Why did he not go back to giving a simple blessing in the form of “may your marriage be fruitful and happy?” It would save him a lot of trouble, rather than having to word vague warnings and pronouncements about events that were already in motion and could not be changed. Carmen and Edward’s marriage would be happy, yes, but there were black clouds gathering on the horizon for their family and the two boys would be at the very centre of the storm. ***
  167. 167. Eddie and the boys were waiting for Carmen when she arrived back at the villa they were staying in. “I was beginning to get worried.” Said Eddie as he stood up and kissed his wife tenderly. “There was no need, but it was very sweet of you.” Said Carmen returning his kiss, oblivious to the faces her stepsons were pulling behind their backs.
  168. 168. “You look happy. Your visit was good?” “The visit went very well dearest Eddie. I will tell you more about it later.” She looked at the two little boys who were now looking distinctly bored. “Perhaps we should be making our way out.” “Hmm? Yes of course. Where were you planning on showing us today?” “The hot springs. There is a simple spa built around them, but relaxing in the hot water is still the main reason for visiting them.” “That sounds lovely. I am certain we will all enjoy it.” Said Eddie, knowing that the day would be different to the one he spent at the Simmouth spa with his first wife. That day had revolved around what Marielle had wanted to do, and Eddie had found himself feeling bored and unwanted. He knew that Carmen would never make him or his sons feel that way.
  169. 169. Eddie was right, the day couldn’t have been more different to that one over a decade ago. They all enjoyed relaxing in the springs themselves, letting the hot water bubble around them, soothing the aching muscles from all the walking they had been doing.
  170. 170. Eddie and Carmen also took advantage of the masseuses in the spa, enjoying relaxing massages.
  171. 171. The family finished the day in one of the local restaurants, where everyone, including Bertie tried a dish they had not yet tasted.
  172. 172. While they were dinning, Bertie couldn’t help but notice a lady who he thought looked most unusual, going from table to table, speaking to the patrons, and sometimes dancing, her movements very controlled. He was quite mesmerised by her, and was surprised when she took his hand in the western way and introduced herself to him.
  173. 173. Once she had moved on, Bertie turned to Carmen and asked in hushed tones, “Kasan, why is that lady’s face painted so? And why is she talking to everyone?” “She is a Geisha, a lady of the arts.” Explained Carmen. “She is well versed in, and performs our traditional forms of entertainment, including dance and music. Her make up is also traditional, and is meant to look like a mask.” “Oh. We have not seen one before.” “No, we have not, but you will see more at the tea house when we visit. They often perform the way of the tea for both visitors and locals of Takemizu.” Bertie nodded, his eyes sparkling. He was already looking forward to the visit to the tea house and he was fascinated by the geisha. The trip suddenly seemed even more exciting to him. ***
  174. 174. The morning of the visit to the tea house, Carmen dressed in a more formal fashion to that she had been wearing. She also made sure that the boys were as smart as possible although she knew keeping them from rumpling their clothes completely was a waste of time. She also found time to speak to both the boys about the sort of behaviour that was expected of them at the tea house. “Dear Stuart, you will be greeted in Takemizu fashion, and will be expected to return that greeting. Do you remember what I told your brother the second day we were here. Your bow should not be too deep, but needs to be more than just an incline of the head. Like so.” She explained as she demonstrated a bow. Stuart scratched his head. “I think I know what to do,.” He said dropping into a bow that was still slightly too deep. “Not quite so deep, bow from the waist, do not bend your knees.” Pointed out Carmen. She would have liked some more time to see Stuart put her latest advice into practise, but Eddie pointed out to her the time and how they should be going.
  175. 175. Once they had arrived at the tea house, Carmen spoke to both boys once again. “Do not worry Kasan,” said Bertie, “Stuart and I will be on our best behaviour.” His stepmother looked down at the little boy and smiled. He was so earnest, she believed him. “I am very glad to hear that. This is a solemn and dignified ceremony, much more so than when we took tea in the park.” Explained Carmen. “I know Kasan.” Relied Bertie patiently. “We promise to behave.” “I know you will. Shall we go in?” Taking the lead, Carmen led her little family through the gate, into the grounds of the tea house.
  176. 176. They were greeted at the door by a gentleman and a geisha. “Welcome to our tea house. You honour us with your presence and I wish you a pleasant visit with us.” Said the geisha softly as she bowed to Carmen.
  177. 177. “We are honoured that you choose to receive us and thank you for your hospitality my sister and brother.” Responded Carmen dropping into a bow of her own “May I present my husband and stepsons.” Said Carmen, motioning towards Eddie and the two boys.
  178. 178. Greetings were exchanged with the rest of the party, and Carmen couldn’t help beaming proudly when both her stepsons dropped into flawless bows. Both boys had listened to her and learnt from what she had said. “Now please, sit.” Said the man gesturing towards the raised dais where the geisha was already sitting in front of a low table.
  179. 179. The family watched in silence as the geisha performed the ceremony before standing, bowing and leaving the four of them to drink their tea in peace.
  180. 180. The family had had a very enjoyable morning at the tea house and they followed it up with an enjoyable afternoon in one of the many parks where Bertie and Stuart learnt how to play Mahjong with the help of two locals.
  181. 181. The locals amusing the two boys also afforded Eddie and Carmen a little time on their own.
  182. 182. All in all it was a good day, as well as their last in Takemizu. As Eddie kissed his sons goodnight, he reflected on what a good trip it had been. It had been fascinating learning more about his wife’s background and culture, and it had seemed to have done his sons the world of good. He stroked his eldest’s hair. Bertie hadn’t had any more nightmares since the one two nights after they had arrived, and Eddie was hoping that he was finally getting over them. He had certainly seemed far more relaxed and happier over the past week. With a final look at his two sons, he extinguished the lamp and left them to sleep.
  183. 183. Although Carmen had tried to get as much packed into their trunks as possible, it was still a busy morning, which culminated in Eddie having to shout at Stuart when he wouldn’t wear his green trouser suit instead of his kimono for the voyage home. That then led to tears, which led to Eddie feeling guilty, something which was exacerbated when Bertie started trying to cheer Stuart up, and Carmen asked them all to be quiet and leave her in peace to finish packing. It was therefore a relief when Eddie was able to see the packed trunks safely to the kerb and pay the owner of the villa. “I trust your accommodation was satisfactory and you enjoyed your stay.” Said the owner as Eddie made out the cheque. “We did, very much so.” “Then I hope you will visit us again in the future.” Eddie smiled. “I am sure we shall return.”
  184. 184. Carmen and the two boys were already in the carriage when Eddie arrived to help with loading the trunks. She had changed back into her western clothes with a heavy heart. She knew she would be happy where ever she was with Eddie, but she couldn’t help but feel sadness at leaving Takemizu again. Hopefully this time she would not have to wait two decades to return. ***
  185. 185. This is where I leave you for the time being I’m afraid, but part two is already in the works. Thank you all for reading, as always I hope you enjoyed it, and I promise that you won’t have to wait seven months for the next update. Huge massive thank you to Cait for Carmen’s wedding kimono. It’s beyond beautiful and is as if you reached into my brain and pulled out the mental image I had of it. I love it to bits. Thank you also to the makers of the rest of my cc. This legacy wouldn’t be possible without you. Thanks to the authors whose simselves and legacy sims I have borrowed to run around my neighbourhood. Their stories are all awesome, and you can find them at =>
  186. 186. Ouch Eddie.