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5. The High Lord -

Wendy couldn't keep still , she was anxious and overjoyed . Her daughter was coming home , she would finally get to meet her second daughter . She loved all her kids equally but there was just something special about knowing your child was coming home to meet you for the first time. Wendy was also angry , angry at all the time she had lost , all the moments the other woman was able to share with her daughter . She'd never get the first words , teaching to read or dress oneself . She hated not knowing her daughter’s likes and dislikes . She was angry because she couldn't guarantee that her daughter would ever be able to bond with her.

Ashton watched his wife as she restlessly walked the ballroom floor , he could see her brow furrow as she contemplated every last detail of her daughters homecoming . He was avoiding his own duties as his mind just wouldn't focus long enough . He had already taken the boys on a hunt , had tea with his daughter and supervised the construction on the new room that would serve his long lost daughter upon arrival . Now he stood on the balcony that overlooked the ballroom , thinking happily about how his family would soon be complete .

“How long have you been up there ?” Said Wendy just noticing her husband

“ not long, but long enough to know you could use some fresh air , walk with me my love ? “ said Ashton

“ As you wish my love ,”

“ Wendy , the garden is stunning this fine morning and the fall leaves are cascading down from the trees and it looks like a fine painting , come play in the leaves as though we could be children again !” Ashton grabbed her hand and led her out through the Grand French doors and into the open air courtyard .

“ I dreamed of her last night , I saw her and Melanie holding hands as if they had grown up together , they wore matching hair bows and had ventured into the library to spend an afternoon reading, then my dream flashed forward to the four kids much older riding horse back to our family's favorite picnic spot , Melanie road behind Charles , and Mark let his sister take the reigns holding in tightly to her as they road swiftly laughing in the warm summer sun,”

“Wendy these things can still come to pass , keep your head up , it may be much latter then desired but she will always be our daughter , and in two weeks time she will be home, said Ashton

Wendy laid out under the largest tree staring up into the branches . Fall would soon be over and winter would be here swiftly . The leaves fell in steady circles drifting on the light breeze . Wendy let the leaves fall on her not moving a muscle . Ashton laid down net to her and reached for her hand. Smiling at her he closed his eyes and listened to her breathing . Sitting up leaves clung to them , their cloth and hair like magnets to the colorful leaves . Ashton laughed at the state they were in , if the king saw them now he would think them peasants who stole finer cloths . Helping his wife to her feet the couple wound their way through the garden and back into their home. After cleaning up the couple called their children to dinner . There was an awkward silence in the room as they ate . Charles was the first to break the silence , and he soon after regretted doing so.

“ there almost done with her room father ! And they let me help paint the walls today , “ said Charles

“Why does it matter !? Why can't she just use one of the guest rooms ?” Said Melanie

“ because she's not a guest , she's our sister ,” said Mark

“ call her what you want she's not my sister , I for one don't think she deserves all this special treatment after all one doesn't control when their born or when they'll come home , this isn't her home and no matter what rooms you build she won't feel at home ,” said Melanie

“ your just jealous !” Said Charles

“ I'm not jealous of a peasant !” Said Melanie

“ she's not a peasant dead sister , she's our flesh and blood ,” said Mark

Melanie was beyond mad , her brothers had tag teamed her . It hadn't taken very long before Melanie had completely lost her appetite . She had left the table without being excused . She had no desire to just sit there as the conversation would slip back into the awkward silence . Melanie wasn't just upset by her brothers but by her own actions . Why couldn't she just open her heart ? Why couldn't she desire to bond with this girl . After all having her around would even up arguments with Charles and Mark . Why was she even jealous to begin with ? Yes she had boldly lied to her brother claiming she wasn’t but it was so obvious even to herself .

There was a knock at her door followed by her father's voice “ Melanie I'm coming in , I'm not in the mood for pleasantries we need to have a serious talk ,”

“ I know Dad I'm sorry , I didn't mean it , well I didn't mean all of it though I did mean some of it , Dad I'm scarred !”

“ what are you so scared of baby ?”’said Ashton.

“ sharing you ! I've always been your girl ,I'm afraid I'm simply replaceable and forgettable,”

“ your not darling! You'll always be my little girl , so will she but , that doesn't change my love for you !” Said Ashton sitting next to Melanie on the bed . “ go to sleep Melanie I'll be right here !”

Melanie curled up into her dad laying her head on his chest . It wasn't long before she fell asleep to the sound of his heartbeat.

Ashton looked upon his daughters resting face , she looked so much like her mother and he even saw features of his own mother in Melanie . He knew Wendy would be waiting for him , but he didn't want to wake Melanie . He also treasured such moments . He felt the exhaustion taking over as he lay there next his daughter . He stroked her hair pulling a few stray strands back behind her ears. He kissed her forehead before laying his head down on the pillows . He fell asleep in minutes.

Wendy was wide awake her bed felt so cold and gargantuan without her husband . She drew a bath to help relax , drank a glass or two of wine , read poetry for about an hour and yet she still wasn't tired. Getting out of bed the floor was cold to the touch . She walked down the hall to Melanie’s room a lantern was still lit on the table As she walked in it cast enough light for her to see that there was still room next to her husband in Melanie’s bed so she two curled up next to him and laid her head on his chest . At some point in the night the lantern had been blown out the two boys had also found their way into Melanie’s room to lay between legs and feet . It was a sight to be seen in the morning when all of them awoke in the same bed .

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