Luca’s face lights up as Maeve throws her arms around his neck and kisses him, the sweet taste of her lips lingering on his breath. Today is exquisite, he thinks. Perfect in every way. His newborn daughter begins to drift off to sleep as the love of his life, his girlfriend and soul mate, gushes on and on about their wonderful new house.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t afford a larger place,” he tells her with an apologetic smile.
Maeve silences him with another kiss. “I don’t want a larger place,” she replies cheerfully as they break apart. “There’s much less to clean this way.”
Luca beams, pleased with her response.
Their new home, while still quite small, has everything Maeve wants in a house. The charming little cottage is bright and warm and welcoming, and there’s even a spot in the backyard for her to start a garden.
One night not long after they move in, Maeve approaches Luca about the conversation she had with Emily a few weeks ago. Her baby is due any day now, and Maeve thinks they should adopt the child.
However, to her complete and total surprise, Luca seems rather resistant to the idea.
“We already have a new baby to take care of,” he reasons. “Delilah needs all of our attention right now, and what about Kieran? We haven’t heard a word from your father yet, and who knows how long we’ll have the boy for. Has he even started walking yet?”
Maeve frowns. “Well, no. Not quite, but that’s completely irrelevant. We have room for another child, and I always did want a big family.”
Luca eyes her warily. “How big?” he asks.
“I don’t know, five or six I suppose.”
“Five or six?!” he explodes. “Are you insane? Maeve, we barely have time for the two kids we already have!”
“Absolutely not!” he yells. “No more children.”
Maeve looks utterly heartbroken by his sudden outburst, and fighting back tears she gets up from the table and storms away.
Realizing that he may have overreacted, Luca forces himself to apologize later that night.
“I shouldn’t have snapped at you,” he says as he nuzzles Maeve’s neck adoringly. “I just never pictured myself having kids, and I guess I’m still adjusting to the role of fatherhood.”
Maeve nods. She’s seen how uneasy Luca is around their daughter, almost as if he’s afraid to touch her, but she didn't think he’d react so negatively to the idea of more.
“I love Emily,” she tells him after a minute. “She’s been your friend for years, and I know how much she looks up to you. I just… I can’t imagine the heartache of giving up your kid, and if we can make that transition easier for her then why not adopt the baby? Besides, I already feel bonded to that child, Luc, and I couldn’t bear to see it go into foster care.”
Luca sighs, feeling resigned. He doesn't want more kids, but for Maeve he can't refuse. “Fine,” he agrees at last. “We can adopt the baby.”
“Really?!” she gasps. “You mean it, Luc?”
He nods, smiling at her affectionately. “If it makes you happy, then it makes me happy,” he replies decisively. “I love you, Maeve, and I won’t let anything come between us.”
A few short weeks later, Emily gives birth to a healthy baby boy.
“What are you going to call him?” she asks, trying to sound relaxed and indifferent.
Luca watches Emily carefully, his eyes full of concern. “Rigby,” he tells her after a pause.
Emily smiles faintly. She likes that name.
Rigby proves to be the mellowest of all three babies in the McKinley household, and over the following weeks Luca actually begins to enjoy spending time with his kids.
Unfortunately, however, he was recently promoted to Chief of Medicine at the hospital, and with the longer hours and heavier workload he’s rarely at home anymore. In his absence, Maeve picks up the slack, taking charge of most of the household chores and childcare duties.
Kieran does eventually master the art of walking, but talking proves to be a whole different challenge entirely.
Maeve devotes every free minute she has to teaching Kieran to speak, but despite her efforts the tot stubbornly refuses to utter a sound. All he ever wants to do is play by himself with his xylophone, but his quiet, introverted tendencies only serve to further reinforce Maeve’s desire to coax him out of his shell. The world is a social place, she tells herself, and if Kieran has any hope of succeeding out there she knows that he will have to learn to deal with people.
One morning while Luca’s at work, a surprise visitor drops by the house. After spending months holed up in the enchanted town of Arundel, Atticus is delighted to finally see his daughter again.
“So?” Maeve asks nervously. “What did the council say?”
“Too much to remember,” Atticus replies with a tired shrug. Maeve doesn’t look satisfied with that answer, however, so he launches into a more detailed explanation. “I attempted to tell them about you and the plague and Ephraim and his curse, but I swear those idiots wouldn’t listen to me if a trained parrot flew out of my mouth and sang the whole story to them in Latin. They thought I was making it up.”
Maeve’s eyes widen. “Really? What happened then?”
“Well, the good news is that they let me keep my position as the guardian.”
“And the bad news?” she breathes.
Atticus fidgets with his coat sleeve, anxiously avoiding eye contact. “They think you’re dead,” he says at last.
“Dead?!” she shrieks. “But…”
“Of the fever,” he explains. “They would never in a million years allow you and Luca to stay together, and if they knew that you had a child with him, with a human…” Atticus shakes his head sadly. “It’s for the best, Maeve.”
“But my magic?” she exclaims. “Can I still-”
“No,” he cuts her off. “You mustn’t use your powers again, for that’s the only way they can find you. From now on, you’re a human.”
Willing herself not to cry, Maeve hangs her head dejectedly. She loves her magic. It’s part of her, like a sixth sense or an extra limb, but if this means she can stay in Jericho with Luca and her children then it’s not even a question. She won’t use her magic again, no matter what.
Atticus has a long trip back to his home, but he takes some time to meet his grandchildren and play with Kieran. The old mage seems mildly impressed by how much friendlier the toddler is on this visit.
“You’ve been spending a lot of time with him,” Atticus observes.
“Yeah, but he’s still so…” Maeve trails off, fumbling for the right word.
“Detached?” he offers.
“Yes, detached. I wish I could figure out how to make him smile once in a while.”
“He’s been through a lot,” Atticus replies absently.
Maeve leans down and picks up the child, and although Kieran fusses a bit at first he quickly relaxes in her gentle embrace.
“Did you find out anything more about his mother?” she asks, eyeing the boy fondly. “I know you said that you wanted to keep his existence a secret from the council, but I thought you might have spoken to some of your less conspicuous connections while you were in Arundel.”
“No, nothing conclusive unfortunately. I did receive one tip, but it didn’t amount to much.”
Atticus nods. “Right around the time Isadora disappeared, a pair of students found a woman lying unconscious on the floor of the university library. The town healers were able to revive her, but the poor thing had no memory of who she was or where she came from. Thinking that it might be Isadora, I made plans to meet with her, but before I got a chance her brother showed up and identified her. Last I heard he had placed her in an institution on the outskirts of Arundel, claiming that she suffered from a severe personality disorder that caused her amnesia-like symptoms.”
“How awful!” Maeve cries.
"Yes," he agrees. "Quite tragic."
Before he leaves, Atticus has one other task to take care of. He wants Esme to come and live with him in his cottage near Arundel, but Esme seems reluctant to move so far away from her daughter. While she’s grown much more accepting of Luca, she still worries about whether he can provide for and protect Maeve and the kids.
But Maeve wants nothing more than to see her parents live happily ever after together, and so, at her daughter’s urging, Esme departs Jericho the following week to start her new life as Mrs. Atticus Thorel.
Not long after they leave, Rigby and Delilah outgrow their baby blankets. Rigby looks a lot like his birth mother Emily.
Delilah inherits grandma Esme’s dark brown hair, but it is her violet eyes that attract Maeve’s attention. Although somewhat common amongst mages, the color is rarely seen in humans. Could this mean that her daughter has some magic? Is that even possible for a child with human ancestry?
With three toddlers to look after, the McKinley household is constantly buzzing with activity these days, but the family quickly settles into a comfortable routine. Maeve, for one, couldn’t be happier, and for a while her life seems perfect.
But, as she learns one foggy summer morning, heartache is never too far away.
Luca immediately rushes home from the hospital after receiving Maeve’s hysterical phone calls, but by the time he arrives the situation has already spiraled out of control.
“You cheated on me!” she screams. “With one of your employees! How could you, Luca?! How could you sleep with her?!”
“We were broken up,” he yells, feeling his frustration boil over. “Maeve, please, you’ve got to listen to me!”
“NO!” she shrieks as the tears roll down her cheeks. “You slept with another woman. You knocked up another woman!”
“It didn’t mean anything,” he soothes. “It only happened a couple of times, and-”
“I don’t care!” Maeve shouts. Turning to look at the baby, she adds, “It’s me or the kid, Luc. I won’t tolerate that... that brat living under the same roof as us. Choose. Me or the kid.”
Luca feels his heart stop dead in his chest.
“Maeve,” he pleads. “Don’t do this. Don’t make me pick between you and my daughter.”
Maeve sticks out her chin defiantly, her face full of venomous hatred. “It’s me or her,” she repeats angrily.
It only takes a moment, one glance, for him to decide.
“Her,” he whispers softly.
Maeve is gone by dawn the next morning.
Yay, babies! Finally, lol. So that's four of five down. =P To give you some background on their names, Delilah means “languishing”, “lovelorn”, and “seductive” and is probably one of my all-time favorite names ever, despite its less than flattering appearance in the bible. Kieran is of Irish and Gaelic origin and means “little dark one”. No comment on how, or if, their names relate to their future personalities, but Kieran really seems to be taking his name to heart...
Rigby is named after the Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby”. In high school, I listened to The Beatles a lot, and I always liked that song. Even though it makes me sad.
StoryProgression paired up Atticus and Esme, by the way. Without any intervention from me. I was pleasantly surprised, as Esme has the grumpy trait and most people around town HATE her, but she and Atticus have been happily married for a while now. We’ll see if it works out. *crosses fingers*
Luca’s new house was built by ruthless_kk and heavily renovated by me. The original can be downloaded here.
Finally, for those of you who are interested, I posted my complete roll on the sidebar. =) As you can see, I have a horrible tendency to overcomplicate even the most basic of generations, and Luca still has a few more plot twists yet to come. *cue evil laughter* ;)