|The McGillpatrick Legacy
Author: kvm PM
While in Ireland tracking down distant relatives, Molly stumbles onto an ancestry that is tightly woven into the land's folklore. But there is more to the lineage than sixty-three generations of lovers, heroes and survivors. There is a legacy that may thrust Molly into battle against an evil that dates back to the days of Celtic gods, faeries and druids.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 24 - Words: 69,971 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 03-29-13 - Published: 07-29-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3045912
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
You're in a dark room. From the corner of your eye you see a movement. Your mind reels, conjuring possibilities of a presence, expecting manifestations of any conceivable sort, prompting a rush of adrenaline, which courses through your veins. Your limbs tingle, your hairs stand on end. Questions flash through your head in an instant shorter than a second. What is it? What threat does it pose? Fight or flight?
To answer the questions posed by the strength of your fear, you turn, and there you see it: a curtain swaying in the breeze, shifting the moonlit shadows while it floats on the draft of an open window. You laugh at yourself, and criticize the very silliness of your impulse.
But why does your mind jump to such conclusions? Why, in situations of darkness or loneliness or unfamiliarity, do you instinctively imagine more than what appears to be there? Could it be that the wiring in your brain is the result of thousands of years of a different reality? When the light shooting across the night sky wasn't simply a meteor hurdling through space? When the creaking sound in the next room wasn't just the house settling with age? When the distant glow in the woods wasn't merely the flames of some camper's bonfire?
Maybe it's that your mind still seeks what was once more real than illusion. Perhaps, the answer is that modern science has banished all the sights that you were once supposed to see; and has sealed away the consciousness that you were once meant to employ. Perchance, it has veiled the truth about those things that lie beyond a physical plain.
"Oh, I've been waiting so long for this." Aunt Honora fixed her brown windblown bun, and straightened her worn gray pea coat. "Finally, we get to meet our family."
"Aunt Honora, I am telling you – for the millionth time – I am your family. Can't that just be enough for you?" At this point, why Molly even bothered to plead with her, she didn't know; and quite frankly, she felt a little bit miffed by her auntie's insistence that she was lacking kin before now. Of course, up until this point, Molly really didn't quite believe that the woman would actually go through with this crazy idea.
"Don't be so dramatic, Molly. Two people do not a family make. It is, certainly, neither right nor fair that we should be left in this cruel world with only one another. Besides, don't you want to know who your relatives are?" She shook her head in a display of exasperation, and knocked sharply at the large red door before them.
"I just don't think seventh or eighth cousins really count," Molly replied. "The only thing you have in common with them is your last name. And I don't even share that."
"They are our relatives, Molly," Aunt Honora said, "Family relations are always important to have – and to maintain. And just because you're some McGillpatrick with little or no traceable history on your father's side, that doesn't mean your mother's people can't mean something to you. So, stop with your slouching, and put a smile on your face. I don't want our cousins knowing that you're such a depressing little thing."
Molly was a depressing little thing? Well, if that was true, then she had a good reason for it. And if Aunt Honora thought of herself as the only sufferer in regards to their lack of family, she was wrong. But the answer wasn't to go and track down strangers who were related to strangers, who were related to strangers, who were related to strangers somewhere on your family tree in order to create relatives where there weren't any before. Of course, try rationalizing that with Aunt Honora. So, Molly said nothing more. She just straightened her spine and attempted to smile through her awkwardness.
In a way, she really did understand. Well, she sort of did. They were, in fact, dealt a bad hand in life, and her aunt only wanted to fix it. This solution just seemed like a strange way to go about it.
Their family had always been on the sparse side to begin with. Molly was the only child of James and Anna McGillpatrick; and they made up the majority of a very small clan. In fact, the only other living relative they had by Molly's seventh Birthday was her mother's older sister Honora.
They were happy in the intimacy of their smallness, though, except that Aunt Honora seemed rather glum and aloof by nature. She acted habitually cantankerous, and tended to expect the worst out of life. The woman had what Molly's father called a "'woe is me' attitude", and seemed bound and determined that the world was out to cause her misery and make her suffer. Molly's mother once tried to console her dear sister by explaining to her that the world wasn't out to get her. It was just that it didn't care enough to make her happy. The universe didn't strive to disappoint her. Its only fault was that it tended to neglect her.
Of course, Aunt Honora didn't like hearing such sense from her much younger and very happily married sister, especially when such logic made it appear as though her frequent plights were less hapless, and rather more self-conceived. That conversation was around the time that Aunt Honora started visiting less.
Instead, the woman spent all of her time working. She put in as many hours as she could cashiering in a supermarket on the other side of the little town they all lived in.
One day, when she did allow time for a social call, Aunt Honora told her sister that she had a goal, and it was to go to Ireland and to find their relations, the O'Kelly's. She wanted so badly for them to have a bigger family, she said. Molly heard her mother reply to her sister that love didn't have to be collected in small degrees from many people. It could be offered in enormous amounts by the few who you held in your life. Well, suffice to say, Aunt Honora wasn't happy with that advice, either.
It wasn't long after that, though, that Aunt Honora felt that the world had it out for her yet again; and, this time, it had it out for Molly as well. Instead of increasing their relations like her aunt had hoped, the family was made smaller by two.
Aunt Honora hardly said a word about her new responsibility. She grieved for the loss of her sister and brother-in-law, and then carried on. The only complaint that Molly ever heard cross the woman's lips – and it was only mentioned once – was that she'd nearly saved enough money for her much anticipated trip to Ireland, had done all the necessary research on the O'Kelly family in order to track them down, and now she had to take on the cost of a dependent.
Aunt Honora never went into detail about the added expenses; but try as she might not to be a burden, Molly realized she was another mouth to feed and person to clothe. Her aunt was still determined to make the trip, however, even if a second airline ticket would be pricey. It took four more years before she could do it, and it required her life savings to pay for it, but with her niece in tow, Aunt Honora boarded that plane.
So, a fourteen-year-old Molly, and a much overworked and underappreciated (except by Molly, herself) Aunt Honora made their way to "the old country" in high hopes of increasing their family once more.
The large red door of the blue plastered house opened just enough to allow a plump lady with short frizzy hair to poke her head out and peer at her visitors. "Yes?" she inquired.
"Good afternoon. My name is Honora O'Kelly, and this is my niece Molly." Aunt Honora said. She could barely keep the speed of her words in check as her excitement lit up her face to a degree that Molly had never before seen on her aunt.
"I see," the lady replied and opened the door a little further. Aunt Honora took that as a sign that she realized there might be some implication behind their shared last name, but Molly noticed that the lady's expression appeared a little cross.
When she failed to say anything further, Aunt Honora went on. "Ah, yes, well, I came here because I've done quite a bit of research into our family tree and have discovered that," she paused for effect, and clasped her hands together in delight, "you and I are cousins. Oh, and my niece here, as well. I mean she's your cousin. A little further down the line."
Molly watched closely as the lady reacted to the news by spreading her lips into what might have been a smile if it were not for the annoyed squint in her eyes. "Good heavens, not another one." She turned her head and shouted into the house, "Michael, it looks like we're taking our tea in the parlor today." She faced Aunt Honora, again, and let no small amount of derision seep into her words, "We have visitors."
The parlor felt warm and moldy with age, and a ticking clock on the mantle made up the only sound in the room. Aunt Honora and Molly sat side by side on the edge of a flowery patterned sofa, the aunt rigid with excitement and the niece stiff with apprehension.
Moira O'Kelly (as the lady finally introduced herself upon halfheartedly shuffling them into the house) went into the kitchen in order to prepare a pot of hot tea for her guests. When she returned with the tray, an equally chubby man followed her into the room. Aunt Honora and Molly stood up to greet him.
"Michael O'Kelly," he said flatly, introducing himself without giving any real interest to his visitors.
He stretched out his hand, and Aunt Honora reached over the teapot to accept it in a handshake, but Michael bypassed her and swept a few biscuits from a plate that sat on the tray. Molly noticed her aunt turn red, mortified that she misinterpreted Michael's intention. The girl looked on with a feeling of disgust, while the fat man stuffed a cookie in his mouth and let crumbs tumble over his shirt and onto the rug.
They seated themselves and Moira passed around the tea and some biscuits. Not a word or a glance was passed between them, though, for a full two minutes.
"Delicious tea, Moira," Aunt Honora broke the silence. "You have a lovely house here. And just look at all the pictures on the wall. Aren't those family photos lovely, Molly? It looks like a very large, happy family, doesn't it?"
Molly smiled, a bit embarrassed for her aunt's unrelenting enthusiasm in the face of two people who seemed so indifferent to their presence.
"We're really looking forward to meeting the whole clan," Aunt Honora continued when no one else spoke.
"Oh, I see." Moira replied. "Meeting the clan." She cleared her throat, tossed Michael a look and appeared as though she was putting careful thought into her next words. "Well now, I don't know if that's a good idea."
"Oh?" Aunt Honora finally seemed to be catching on to the disinclination of her distant relations.
"You see, Miss Honora," Moira tried to display a look of gentleness on her face, but failed miserably, "there are really rather a lot of O'Kelly's in the world, and quite a few of them – mostly from America, that is – have come to see us, claiming a relation. And while I'm sure we are connected somewhere along the family tree – "
"Ah, we're related by two brothers, Sean and William, seven generations back," Aunt Honora tried to explain.
"Yes, well," Moira continued with barely any acknowledgement towards the other woman's fact, "my list of relations is a rather long one, so I hope you won't be offended if we don't end up sending you a Christmas card."
Aunt Honora never flinched, but her mouth twitched, and Molly knew that she got the hint. Moira and Michael O'Kelly had no desire to pursue family relations.
He had been following the girl since he spotted her in Kilkenny. Her features looked so very much like hers. Never, not once in the lengthy years he'd lived since, had he ever seen anyone appear so nearly like that beautiful creature he'd met in the woods on that dark Beltaine night. It wasn't only in the color of her hair and the brilliance of her smile, the sparkle in her eyes and the flush in her cheeks; it was in her gait and in the way she expressed herself with her hands when she spoke. And when he heard the girl talk, oh, how the sound of her voice vibrated in his ears and echoed in his memory.
He would not dare to let himself hope, however. He must find out for certain if this girl truly was who he thought she was. So, he watched, staying in the shadows, just outside of her vision – a talent inherited from his people – but close enough to observe her every action and reaction.
And now it could not be denied. He noted the sympathy in the girl's eyes as she put her arm around the shoulder of her older companion, comforting the woman while they walked away from the blue house with the red door. That resemblance was unmistakable. That expression, that sensitive countenance was uniquely hers.
He knew this child was a McGillpatrick. They were not gone from the face of this earth. Such certainty meant that he did not fail her, after all. The clan had finally returned to Ireland.
And to come at such a time, too. The signs that he had long been expecting were now beginning to show. Something from the past was stirring.
The child's arrival at such a moment as this could be called nothing short of destiny.