It has been a wonderful day and Aoife finds that she is brimming with too much joy to sleep. She watches as a figure moves past her window and she knows what she wants to do next. As she slowly makes her way outside the house, she realizes that her guess was right. She could not go to the girl, and so the girl had come to her. She does not fear her anymore, no; she is merely curious as to how such a spirit can exude a sense of safety and calm when she is the embodiment of something else entirely.
The girl, though seeming a little older in her appearance and speech, seems strangely pleased and content to see her there. Aoife is not sure if it is reality or her naivete that makes the girl seem trustworthy.
"You seem happy today."
It is true. She can see Aoife all but jumping for joy. There is a gleam in her eyes that wasn't there before.
"I met my cousin today. The younger of the two. He seems nice and caring. I think I finally found a brother. If there is some good that came of all this, then it's him."
"So that is your wish then? To see the families united?"
"Yes, I suppose it is. Between the two of us, it should be possible some day. I fully intend to try once more."
"For your sake, I really hope that they do Aoife. I would help you too, if I could, but you know I can't."
"That you think so is enough. What do I mean to you, anyway?"
That startles the girl.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, it's just that many people speak of you, and not all of them are nice, but somehow, I feel I can trust you. You seem genuinely wanting to help me. Not a single myth speaks of you speaking to anybody, so why me?"
"I've been asking myself that every time I see you. You remind me of someone. Someone in my past, and I feel the need to protect you, no matter how impossible it seems to be."
"I suppose I should be happy for that. You seem to know my name, but I do not know yours. What do I call you?"
"I do not remember having a name. It was all so long ago. So long since I've had anybody to speak to."
"Well, now you have me... Bronagh."
"Bronagh," she gives a small smile. "Seems not unfitting."
"Bronagh," she said once more, as if testing the name, "The sorrowful one. It is late, is it not? Why don't you get some sleep?"
"I can't. It is why I came to you. I am too excited. My brother said he'll be there; I'm just not sure if my father will approve of it."
"I'm happy for you even if no one else is. I think I can help you a bit there. Why don't you meet him in the forest? I'll be there to look out for you, you'll be out of sight so your father need not know at all, and I'll be unseen, anyway."
"I think he'll be okay with that. He asked about you, you know? He wanted to know who I was meeting in the woods."
"And what did you tell him?"
"Nothing of what happened, but I think I'll tell him someday. What do you think?"
"I'll get to see him tomorrow, is it not? I'll tell you then. Now go Aoife, sleep while you still can."
That is what Aoife does. She sleeps soundly that night, knowing that for once, everything would be all right. The first rays of the sun come soon enough, and Aoife can not wait any longer. Her father had not noticed her little trip last night, and she hopes that he wouldn't notice her now either. Quickly, holding her gown a little higher than her ankles, she runs to the shop where she used to work before the famine had come for them all. She waits there, hoping he will come, and her eyes stay peeled to the road. She doesn't bat an eyelid. She is much too eager to do so, and she waits, thinking of what more she can say to her aunt and Aodhán to convince them to let go of their past hostilities. She hopes it will be easier when Nolan tells her why it all started, but that doesn't mean she'll wait till then to try.
She brightens as soon as she spots Nolan at the distance, and she runs towards him as he opens his arms out for a hug which she gladly gives him.
"You seem nervous today, brother. What bothers you?"
"Well, for a girl your age, you sure picked up on that pretty quick. Is there anywhere else we can go? I have something to tell you."
"Come with me. I know a place," she says as she holds him by the hand, pulling him along. Occasionally, he compliments her or gives her a little something and she beams at him. She leads him into the forest, and towards the gurgling river. She stops not too far away from where she supposes the girl is. Close enough to be heard if she called out, and far enough for their conversation to be unheard.
"The forest? Why?"
"Father won't know. Don't worry! We're perfectly safe," she says noticing the incredulous look on his face.
"I'm not sure if I agree with that."
"So tell me brother, what is it that has got you so worried? What do you have to tell me?"
"I think it is time you knew the truth. You haven't asked your father yet? Hasn't he told you?"
"No. Every time I tried before, he looked so pained, like the times when he thought of mother. I started feeling guilty to even ask him and I gave up on even trying to broach the subject. This has something to do with our mothers, is it not so?"
Slowly, he nods.
"Aye... and a myth."
"A myth? Which one?"
There is a long silence. Finally, he takes a deep breath, and tells her.