Chapter 7 – The Second-chance

                        Chapter Seven

 

The Second-Chance…

 

3 years later . . .

Fosch picked flowers on his way home. Soft pink roses, entwined with wild blue lilies to give the bouquet more appeal. On his other hand he had a box of chocolate, a bag with Italian take out from the restaurant on the corner.

He looked happy, free, in love.

“Witchy witch,” he called the moment he opened the front door.

“Here.”

Fosch followed the voice to the kitchen, where the woman he had fallen in love with sat, rubbing a small bump over her belly. Her aura flickered faintly with magic, fainter than last week’s, but he kept his concern hidden.

“Brought you chocolate.” He said with a flourish, placing the Godiva box in front of her on the table. She sniffed once.

“And Italian. Alfredo sauce.”

Fosch chuckled. “And flowers. For my lovely witch.”

But Bella didn’t reach for either, just continued to rub the bump over her belly in slow circles. Fosch’s focus sharpened on the movement, on the pallor of her face, the feel of her aura. She was hurting.

“What is it?” he asked, worry sipping through his voice despite his effort not to.

“I guess I’m just restless.” Bella said with a faint smile.

Fosch brushed her hair back from her face, noticing the sweat gathered along her hairline.

“You sure?” he asked lightly, guessing the temperature in the room to be below seventy again. “Want me to make you some tea?”

“Nah, just finished a cup.” She waved at the empty cup on the sink, and stood slowly, the effort taking more care then it warranted, smiled at Fosch. “Can we eat in a while? I’d like to watch a movie first.”

“Sure.” Fosch said, taking her clammy hand in his and leading her to the sofa. He would have rather carried her there but knew pride wouldn’t permit Bella to accept it. So he took her hand in his, ready to catch her should she fall, and she indeed looked ready to drop. Fosch fussed over the pillows, arranging it so she would be comfortable, then pulled her legs up to rest over his knees, began massaging one, then the other foot thoroughly. She was asleep within minutes.

Fosch watched her sleep for a long time, touching her knee, her hand, brushing the bump over her belly gently, careful not to wake her up. Worry tightened his gut. She was only twenty weeks along, and the pregnancy was taking a lot from her already. Sometimes he cursed himself for being a fool, for being selfish for wanting this. He hadn’t forgotten about his bargain with Oberon, but Bella wasn’t human, thus the bargain couldn’t hold true. He glanced at the faint flicker in her aura, frowned at it. It had gotten fainter as the pregnancy progressed, and it worried him that should it continue to weaken, it might look plain and human by the time she gave birth. And unless her aura did a quick turn about then, he would have a lot to explain. To his clan, to Oberon.

Of course, he could continue to keep Bella and the pregnancy a secret, until she was well and her aura regained the witchy sheen back. He hated the lying though, the evasion to his brother’s questions, the secretive life he had been leading lately.

He was glad he no longer had any responsibilities to the clan, having shrugged off the leadership mantle the week following his brother’s healing ritual to ensure Oberon couldn’t take advantage of Fosch’s position. He’d played with exposure a few times, just to ensure that he no longer was worthy of the position, acting reckless and adventurous to keep the clan, and his brother, from suspecting anything, any alternative reason for his sudden change of character. He had made himself a kind of intermediary between the human government and the clan, so that he could never again assume the role of leader. And he had never regretted it.

There had been challenges issued to Archer over the leadership, as there should have been, and Fosch had counseled and attended them all, giving his younger brother all his support, helping him fit and mold the mantle onto his shoulders.

Now, almost two centuries later, and Fosch had never been gladder for his renegade status.

He glanced down at the faint flickering of Bella’s aura, the small lump over her belly. The child wouldn’t be a pure blooded Dhiultadh, but then, neither was he, even if his mixed status made him stronger than a pure blood. And his child would be strong, of that he was sure. Would make sure of it. One he’d be proud to teach all his parents had taught him. the fact that Bella was a witch – all be it a watered down one – meant the scion would be able to power runes also, hopefully manipulate energy as well, instead of merely being able to identify them.

Fosch felt a frisson of adrenaline, and couldn’t wait to start teaching his son, or daughter, the art of magic. Will the scion be able to shift? Probably, since the alternative form was a dominant trait, even weakened as it would be. Closing his eyes, Fosch leaned his head on the sofa and dreamt of a future.

———-

Bella dreamt of Mattie again. The black woman was familiar, though Bella only met her in her dreams. She beckoned to Bella, but Bella didn’t follow. She knew where the dream would lead her. She had dreamed it over and over. Once or twice before she had conceived, and often after. Now-a-days, she’d dream of her twice on the same day, if she happened to take a nap.

Like most times Bella was in a strange, yet familiar forest, the trees tall, the animals strange. Here, in the dream, she recognized the land, knew it was the sidhe land. Mattie called, and when Bella glanced up, she was looking into a mirror, but the woman who looked back was not her reflection. She had long, straight black hair that shimmered in the moonlight, soft green eyes that gleamed with intelligence and power. In the dream, Bella knew this woman was her reflection, but Bella’s hair was short and mousy brown, her eyes moor hazel than green. There was a resemblance, yes, but again, the woman in the mirror was not her. She had a leaner face, her body was thinner.

They were both tall, had similar light complexions, high cheekbones. Bella always thought that the woman looked like she had been eaten from inside, like she had suffered greatly.

Mattie called again, and like in the way of dreams, the mirror disappeared and she was now standing in the Seelie court, facing Queen Titania and her royal entourage. Queen Maeve entered the room from a doorway to her left, moving regally to stand beside Queen Titania. The courtiers knelt and bowed to both queens, Seelie and unseelie alike, but Bella did neither.

A royal fee, a Seelie, whom Bella recognized – in the dream – to be Oberon detached from the group and approached her, radiating sadness, even if his eyes remained flat. He knelt in front of her as he took her cold hand in his.

“m’lady.”

She already knew what was to come, so she braced herself. Something brushed against her cheek, and jolting, Bella awoke, still on the sofa, the face of the man she loved above hers, his eyes concerned.

“I fell asleep.” She said apologetically.

“Bad dream?” he asked, brushing a knuckle over her pale cheek again. Another one, he thought, stifling his concern. She needed a healer, but not a human one. Where could he take her and still keep her a secret?

… … …

 

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