I know I said I would have this out earlier, and I'm sorry I didn't! I had issues with the original idea I had for this epilogue, but decided it was too random. So I changed it to this! Okay, enjoy!
From the dark clouds covering the sky, thunder rumbled lowly, sending slight vibrations through the walls of the house. Arielle stepped away from the kitchen table, going to the window to look out. The sky had been a dark gray all day, and now, late in the evening, it had finally decided to do something with itself.
There was a sudden shriek from the backyard, and Arielle reacted fast. Going to the back door, she stepped out onto the covered porch, looking to see what was the matter. She half expected to see Kaelan tumbling out of the forest in fear of the storm, but he was clasped in Andrew's arms, yelling as Andrew roughly landed on his feet. Kaelan shrieked again as Andrew tossed him up, catching him securely as more thunder sounded. Andrew had been flying Kaelan around most of the evening, and Arielle was getting worried about someone noticing.
"Andrew," Arielle called, feeling the first raindrops on her arm. "Andrew, come inside."
"What? Now?" he replied, wings still expanded. Kaelan twisted in Andrew's arms, looking at Arielle with bright green eyes that occasionally startled her.
"Look!" he cried, pointing up to the sky. "It's raining!"
"Yes, that's why you should come inside," Arielle said. "Andrew, he can't get sick now."
"He won't," Andrew replied, tucking Kaelan under his arm. "Like me, he never gets sick."
"Never!" Kaelan echoed. Arielle rolled her eyes at them both, smiling when she turned away.
"I think she's angry," she heard Andrew mumble. There was a scrambling noise behind her, and she suddenly found Kaelan's small arms wrapped around her legs.
"Mama, don't be angry," he said, not loosening his hold. Arielle bent down and pulled him up, holding him against her as Andrew walked through the door, his hair damp and his wings dripping a bit.
"I'm not angry," Arielle said as Kaelan tucked his head under her chin. "I just think papa's insolence can get in his way of what is important."
"Insolence?" Andrew repeated.
"What's that?" Kaelan asked, pulling back to look at Arielle.
"It means he doesn't care much for the fact that you will be five years old tomorrow," Arielle said, carrying Kaelan into the living room.
"Of course I care," Andrew insisted, his tone hardening. "I specifically asked Luke to govern for me so I could be home."
Arielle shot him a grin over her shoulder while she put Kaelan down. Andrew kept his eyes on hers as Kaelan took his hand, asking if they could play again.
"How about a bath instead?" Andrew asked, looking down at him. Kaelan pouted, and Arielle smiled as she put her hand to his head, pushing back his black hair.
"Will you do that for me?" she asked. Kaelan attempted a glare, only making her laugh, and finally turned towards the stairs running up them as he called for Andrew.
"You'll take care of it?" Arielle asked Andrew.
"Of course. I've been away too long," he replied, cupping her cheek. Arielle held his wrist as she kissed him, and Kaelan appeared at the landing with a shout.
"I'll be there in a moment," Andrew called, pulling Arielle close once more. She let him go, happy to see him so excited, and home again.
As Liana had once suggested, Arielle and Andrew had split up some of their governing time for Kaelan's sake. Arielle had no relatives to speak of, and Andrew didn't quite trust his sister to look after Kaelan. She already had a handful of children of her own.
Andrew had been gone on his own governing time for over four months. He always wrote to Arielle and Kaelan, or would appear suddenly for a few minutes before having to leave again. But since Kaelan's fifth birthday was approaching, he had asked another Death to govern for a bit. Arielle was relieved beyond measure. Missing Andrew and comforting Kaelan about his absence was emotionally tiring, and it would be relieved at last. Kaelan had an understanding of what his parents were, and what they did, but he didn't especially like one of them being gone most of the time. Arielle always felt painfully guilty for leaving him when it was her turn to govern, but she made it a point to go to him every evening to at least kiss him good night.
When Kaelan had first been born, Arielle was concerned that her kiss might effect him, even if it was just the fond kiss on the cheek. But Ronan had explained that since he was a son of two Deaths, one of which was related to the first ten, he was immune to it. Arielle knew this to be completely true when Kaelan's canines proved to be a bit longer and sharper than normal.
Arielle slowly climbed the stairs as she listened to the rain beat against the roof. Andrew had gotten Kaelan into the tub, judging by the sound of Kaelan's laughter from the washroom. Arielle smiled to herself as she turned into the bedroom to change into her nightclothes. She glanced out the window at the storm, seeing lightning flash across the sky. She sighed deeply as she dressed, almost wishing she could escort a soul into the Realm of the Dead. Lately, she had been feeling something faint and odd. It was like a death presence, but somehow different. She had not yet asked Andrew if he felt it as well, and didn't really plan on it. She didn't want to ruin the atmosphere with some small worry. She had managed to stop feeling deaths when she was home, and she wanted to push this feeling out.
"Ari," Andrew asked, appearing at the door, his wings gone. "Where have Kaelan's nightclothes gone to?"
"They should be in his closet," Arielle said, adjusting the short sleeves of her nightdress.
"They aren't there," Andrew said. "And I swear I looked, I haven't been lazy."
Arielle followed him into Kaelan's room, finding that it was true that the nightclothes were not there. After a few minutes of searching, she found them under Kaelan's bed.
"I didn't think to look there," Andrew mumbled as he took the clothes.
"He's been hiding them lately," Arielle replied. Andrew returned to the washroom, and Kaelan burst into fits of laughter. Arielle peeked in as Andrew splashed Kaelan, ruffling his wet hair.
"That was just hilarious, Kaelan," he muttered, taking a towel from one of the shelves. Arielle turned away, going into Kaelan's room to prepare his bed. She readjusted the crumpled pillow and pulled down the sheets, listening to the sounds of the storm. She hoped that Kaelan would mind it much; he seemed to be afraid of lightning at times.
As Arielle drew the curtains over the window, she heard Kaelan run into the room. She caught him before he could throw himself against her.
"You're getting far too heavy, Kaelan," Arielle said as he wrapped his arms around her neck.
"That's what papa said," Kaelan replied, pushing his wet hair out of his eyes.
"It must be true then," Arielle smiled, putting her nose against his. "Now, are you ready for bed?"
"Nope!" Kaelan cried as Andrew walked into the room. Arielle lowered him to his bed anyway, lifting the sheets over him as he lay down. He anxiously shuffled his feet as Andrew sat beside him.
"Calm down," Andrew laughed, pinning Kaelan's legs with his hands.
"Mama?" Kaelan said, trying to pry Andrew's hands off. "Is grandfather coming tomorrow?"
"Ronan? Of course he is, he wouldn't miss your birthday for anything else," Arielle replied as she put some of the toys on the floor back in a wooden chest. On his own, Kaelan had taken to referring to Ronan as his grandfather. Arielle found it amusing, and encouraged it. Whenever Kaelan called Ronan by the title, Ronan seemed to be unable to speak for a moment.
"Are you satisfied now? Will you go to sleep?" Andrew asked, leaning over Kaelan with a wide smile. Kaelan nodded, turning on his side. Arielle kneeled beside his bed, fondly pushing back his hair from his face.
"Sleep well," she said quietly, kissing his forehead. He nodded slowly, his eyes a deep green in the dim candlelight. Arielle glanced up at Andrew, seeing that his eyes were exactly the same.
Arielle stood, going to the doorway to wait. She watched as Kaelan beckoned Andrew closer and said something to him. Arielle couldn't hear over the rain, seeing Andrew grin and shake his head slightly.
Arielle felt another odd twinge of the death aura. She turned away from the bedroom, standing in the dark hallway. Leaning against the wall, she took a moment to try to forget the feeling, hardly noticing when Andrew stood beside her.
"Are you all right?" he asked quietly, laying a hand on her shoulder. Arielle looked up quickly, shivering slightly.
"Yes, I'm fine," she replied. Andrew's look told her he didn't believe her. "I've just . . . I've felt this odd feeling for a few days, and I don't know what it is." She looked up to him, searching his eyes. "Do you sense it?"
"Yes, I have noticed it. It's not death, really. I'm not sure what to make of it," Andrew replied, frowning slightly as he looked at the floor in thought. "But we aren't supposed to pay attention to that now, remember?"
"I know, I know. I just couldn't help feeling it," Arielle said. "But I'll forget about it now, until my governing time is up."
Lightning briefly lit the hall, and Andrew suggested they go to bed. Arielle agreed, carefully feeling her way towards the bedroom. Hands finally touching the comforter, she drew it down and climbed in, hardly seeing Andrew beside her in the dark. Arielle blindly reached for him beneath the covers, turning into him and reveling in his arms.
"I've missed you so much," Arielle said. "Both of us have."
"As have I," Andrew replied. "I hate being away for so long . . ."
Arielle raised her head, finding his lips and kissing him fully. There was a sudden fierceness in his kiss as he held her face between his hands, breathing deep through his nose. She gently tugged his lip with her teeth as thunder boomed, and there was a thump from Kaelan's room.
"Later then," Andrew said as his lips grazed Arielle's neck. She nodded, and they both sat up as Kaelan dashed into the room.
"Kaelan, what's wrong?" Arielle asked softly as she pulled him onto the bed.
"It's the lightning," he whispered, crawling between Arielle and Andrew. Arielle pulled down the comforter for him, watching as he huddled into Andrew's chest. Andrew carefully lay close to Arielle, Kaelan between them.
"You'll be fine," Andrew whispered to him. "It's just a noise."
Arielle lightly ran her fingers through Kaelan's hair in a comforting way as he cringed with the lightning.
"Can I stay in here?" Kaelan asked, looking to both of them.
"Of course," Andrew replied. Kaelan nestled into the crook of Andrew's arm, burying his face away from the room. Arielle smiled slightly, rubbing calming circles into his back. She and Andrew remained silent as Kaelan's breathing gradually deepened, and he turned onto his back, eyes closed and in a deep sleep.
"He's marvelous," Andrew whispered as he looked down on Kaelan.
"It's unbelievable how much he has missed you," Arielle said. "He's turning out to be very much like you."
Andrew laughed quietly, lightly touching Kaelan's nose, the same as his own.
"How long will you be able to stay?" Arielle asked, moving a strand of dark hair out of Andrew's eye.
"As long as I need to," he replied. Arielle smiled at that, carefully leaning over Kaelan to kiss Andrew.
She let him sleep then, and tried to get some rest herself. She knew it was near impossible to get real rest when governing, and Andrew dearly needed it. Arielle tried to close her eyes, but couldn't seem to doze off. The storm didn't particularly bother her, it was just the nagging feeling at the back of her mind. It wouldn't seem to go away.
Arielle finally sat up, carefully sliding out of the bed. She went to the window, looking past the endless raindrops on the glass. Everything was absolutely dark, and she briefly closed her eyes, opening them again with the vision of Death. There was nothing outside, nothing living nearby. Far away, Arielle could see a wolf moving through the trees, and there were a few small birds huddled in the trees. But nothing else.
Arielle put her hands over her face, turning away. If it would continue to bother her, she would write to Ronan. For now, she was determined to forget it. There were more important things to focus on, rather than death.
Arielle turned away from the window, returning her normal vision. She stood beside the bed for a moment, looking down at Andrew and Kaelan. Andrew still had Kaelan close, his arm over his side, hand limp near Kaelan's face. Kaelan lightly held Andrew's arm, tucked against him. Arielle reached out to touch both of their cheeks, and Kaelan shifted, sighing softly, his fingers tightening on Andrew's wrist.
Arielle climbed into the bed again, lying down and facing her beloved's. They were the object of her eye, and she was determined not to let a feeling disrupt what little normal life she could live. She grudgingly pushed away the last of the odd feeling, moving closer to the warmth of Andrew and Kaelan. Looking at both of them for awhile, she gradually began to feel something like exhaustion, and closed her eyes, letting the sounds of the storm lull her into sleep.
I feel so empty now that it's FINISHED! So, overall, what did you think? I think my New Year's resolution will be to edit this, find an agent/publisher, and get it out there! That's just a little idea now . . . but anyway. I hope this didn't seem all too random. The original idea I had seemed very off to what was happening in the last chapter. So I changed it to this, and that's why it took me longer. But I'm taking some serious consideration into writing some sort of sequel. I think I'll give it a try, just to see what happens. I can't abandon this idea for some odd reason. If any of you want to read what I might have up in a few days, leave your email address, or sign the review, and I'll let you know what it's called and all that stuff. Or I'll just let you know if I'm writing anything else. (There's all my other stuff too, if you want to read it.)
Anyway, I want to thank all of you for reviewing and encouraging me to keep writing! I heart you all to pieces! And if you have anything you've written on this site, let me know! Thanks a million again, and I'll contact you about the possible sequel!