Part Twenty Five: Reunions and Partings
"Ah, the heroes triumphant return! .....Only two? Where are the rest?"
"Oh, they're up at the point!" Chanaur waved at Raziel and shouted back. "Reinhardt's an emotional mess now that Rosa's back, and Darnell and Jara probably want some alone time."
Raziel shrugged, and smiled. "I see you two are holding hands. Am I correct in assuming that.....?" He looked expectantly at them.
Carrie leaned against Chanaur, resting her head on his chest. "Yes, Raziel. Though it took a lifetime, it's done." She kissed him on the cheek. "We are one."
Raziel let out a breath of relief. "Well, it's about damned time! I was afraid you two would never get the picture! But all the same...." He winked at them. ".....I'm glad you did. So, when's the wedding?"
Chanaur shrugged. "Anytime, I guess. I also suppose we're skipping the engagement and going right for the throat?" He looked down at Carrie, who nodded. "All we have to do is make the preperations-"
"Now, you leave that to me." Raziel patted him on the head. "We've been anticipating this day for a while. Haven't we?"
Ada came up beside him, as well as the young woman known as Odila. "Yes we have. Everything should be ready in a couple of days. "You two just relax. Oh, but first, we need rings...."
"I've got just the two." Chanaur whispered in Carrie's ear. She looked up at him and laughed lightly.
"....and proper attire. A wedding dress always has to be perfect. Carrie, your coming with me, and we're going to find you the right one." Ada reached out for her hand.
Carrie clung to Chanaur, refusing to go. "I'll just use my mother's. It fits me and everything, I've checked." She looked up at him. "And you should wear what you wore to the ball. Mask, cape, and everything." She kissed him softly. She turned back to Ada and Raziel. "Anything else?"
Ada looked somewhat crestfallen. "Well fine, spoil all my fun. For now, nothing else."
She was about to turn, when Carrie told her to wait. "I guess we could look at some others, just for 'fun'." She disconnected herself from Chanaur, and followed Ada into the village. She blew a kiss just before she dissapeared through the gates. The last he saw was a flash of light glance off of the sapphire atop the staff.
Chanaur felt a hand clap on his back. "So, Hero, how are you feeling? Pretty good, I guess?"
Chanaur smiled, and clapped Raziel on the back, propelling him forward a little. "Oh yes. I feel great, except for a nagging headache."
"Oh, that's probably just stress, or lack of sleep, or something. Nothing a good meal and night's sleep won't fix."
"Well, now that you mention it, that sounds pretty good right now." He took a deep breath and coughed. "As well as a shower."
"Ah, you'll have plenty of time for that later. But first, lets see to that meal....." He removed his arm from around Chanaur and started walking home. "I haven't eaten anything since breakfast and I'm starved."
"Funny you should say that." Chanaur shook his head. "I haven't eaten in three days."
"I'm glad your back, Rosa. You have no idea...."
"Oh, I think I do." She tweaked his nose, still slick from tears. He hastily wiped them away. "So, you do have a soft spot after all."
"Ah, but only for you, love." He sighed contentedly and hugged her close. "You know, I bet your father's worried about you."
"And you." Rosa added. "You are like a son to him, after all."
Reinhardt put a hand on his chin, supposedly thinking. "I have a father. Interesting. But we should probably be getting you home. He'll probably be waiting for you at the gates."
"Knowing him, probably." She smiled softly and kissed him again. "I love you Reinhardt. And I'm glad you care enough for me to shed a tear or two.....hundred that is." She nudged him in the ribs with her elbow.
"I love you too." He blushed slightly. "Your not going to let that slide are you?"
Rosa smiled. "Of course I will. I'm just happy that you finally admitted that you have a heart." She stood up, bringing Reihardt to his feet. She looked over at Darnell and Jara, still milling about on the ground. By this point, Darnell had given up fighting, and was merely responding. Rosa directed Reinhardt's attention to them. "Give you any ideas?"
"Yeah." He cupped both hands around his mouth and shouted, "Get a room!" Then he thought about what she said, and smiled. "Oh....." He smiled. "Sure. I guess we could do that. But first...." He took her by the hand, and knelt before her. He brought the ring from his pocket, and whispered, "Rosa, will you marry me?"
Rosa was suddenly thunderstruck. She stood still, her face resembling that of a person who was just told that they had spouted a head on their arm. But then her face lifted in a smile, squeezing a few tears from her eyes. She hurled herself at him, and it was her turn to weep like a child.
Reinhardt held her tightly, as she held him even tighter. "I knew you'd react adversely, but jeez...."
Tears of joy are the most soothing of all elixers. That old Belmont saying was used sort of as an edict to keep the clan's emotions flowing. Otherwise, hardness tended to lead to cruelty, and cruelty to hatred, et cetera....
Rosa finally calmed down enough to give him an answer, which he didn't really need.
"Yes. Of course."
"I'm glad to hear that. C'mon." He took her hand again in hers, and slipped the ring onto her finger. He then led her down the path to Wallachia. When they passed Jara and Darnell, they finally broke apart to offer their congratulations.
"Thanks. I guess you two have plans of your own?" Reinhardt asked. "Some rather ardent ones by the looks of it."
Darnell flushed crimson. "Well, we're yet to hammer out the details, but I think we'll return to my hometown, possibly even do some traveling between here and there. I don't think there's a whole lot left here for either of us, and we'll just see what happens."
Jara wrapped her arms around his right. "Sounds like a plan." She pecked him on the cheek, and then turned back to Rosa and Reinhardt. "And you two? What are your plans?"
"Go home, settle down, and get married. Raise a family, fade into history." Rosa kissed him on the cheek. "I wish you two the best of luck, but won't you come with us? Say goodbye to the rest first?"
Jara and Darnell both looked at each other shortly, exchanged glances, and smiled. "Sure. That sounds like fun."
"Just wait until you meet Raziel." Reinhardt punched Darnell lightly in the shoulder. "He may be an old fogie, but if you get him drunk, he's funny as Hell."
Darnell laughed. "I think I'd like to properly thank sir Chanaur first."
"Better not let him here you call him that. He hates those kind of formalities."
"I'll keep that in mind." Darnell smiled, his heart lifting. Barely ten minutes into his new life, and he had already acquired some friends.
I should have tried this long before.
Darnell took Jara's arm, Reinhardt Rosa's, and together they began to walk back to Wallachia.
"So, have you yet?"
"Have I what?" Carrie asked suspiciously, peeking nervously over one of many wedding dresses. Ada was adamant about having her try on every last one of them until she was satisfied.
"Have you and Chanaur....?" She smiled sheepishly.
"Oh, copulated?" Ada blushed, bringing a smile to Carrie's lips. Seeing a woman old enough to be her mother embarassed was quite amusing. "No. Not yet. Actually, the thought never really crossed my mind until a bit ago. Why?" Carrie bit into the apple she was eating. It was about time she ate something decent......
"Oh, just curious. Here, try this one." She handed a cream colored one with several lace frills adorning the neck, sleeves, and bottom to her. "Something's I just have to know, I guess."
Carrie stepped out her robes and stepped into the dress. It came up a little snug around her stomach and chest, but she assumed that was because of the corsette that was designed into it. She looked into the mirror, and nearly gagged. She hated the frills; they made her look like a great big doll ready to be dressed up and played with.
"No, I'm not thinking so." Ada turned away to look through her inventory. "No, no, no..... Well, I guess we just try your mother's old one then." She brought it out of the closet, and handed it to Carrie.
Carrie ran her fingers gently over it. The midnight-blue silk slid softly through her fingers, nostalgia and memories coming back. She remembered how on random days she would wear it, just to get a smile from daddy. She remembered how big it had been on her when she tried it on. She remembered when her mother promised it to her, and promised to.....
She sighed. To be there to see me wear it.....
She slid it on over her head, hearing it whisper down to her ankles. It fit her like a glove; it might have well been made like Lacuna's old dress. She slipped her arms through the straps that wrapped around her deltoids, adjusting the decollatage a smidgen higher. Next came the sky-blue gloves, up to her elbows, her bracelet adorning the right one. Then the knee-high high-heeled boots that were in the back of her closet.
And then, as a finishing touch, she reached up into the top of her closet, and got the silver tiara that her mother had given to her. That day, so long ago.....
Although she couldn't be sure, she thought she felt hands on her shoulders. One soft, slender, and feminen. The other was broad, calloused, and masculine. Both were etheral, but she felt them all the same. And in her thoughts, she could have sworn she heard someone whisper......
You look beautiful, dear.
Chanaur's one lucky guy.
We'll always love you.
And we'll always be watching over you.
But now, we must go.
No..... I need you.
You'll be fine without us.
Chanaur will be there to take care of you.
But I still need you here!
You've survived so far without us.
Yes, but..... but we only just met again!
We'll meet again Carrie.
You can be sure of that.
The presence of her parents was gone. She was alone with a rather worried-looking Ada. Carrie became concious of tears in her eyes. She hurriedly wiped them away, but more came, unbidden.
Ada wrapped her arms gently around Carrie's shoulders. "I know it's hard, honey...." She stroked her hair gently. "Your parents would be proud of you."
"I know....." She choked back a sob. They were here just a second ago......
"You look beautiful. Just like your mother. You have your father's eyes though....." She smiled encouragingly. "You'll make a beautiful bride."
"Yeah...." She whispered. She put a hand to her temples. "Oy, I could use some sleep though. Definitely a shower."
Ada nodded. And that was enough.
Silence fell, and Carrie sighed deeply. She removed her hand from her temple, resting it in her lap. "I wonder what Chanaur's doing now?"
"Oh, he's with Darnell, Reinhardt and Raziel getting something to eat." Rosa and Jara were behind her. She turned to see them, both smiling, tensely because they saw her tears. "It seems we're to have a triple wedding. And we've got dresses to pick out. We were hoping you could help us."
Carrie wiped the last few droplets from her eyes and smiled her best around the knot in her throat. "Certainly." She whipered. "Pull up a dress and let's get started." Carrie tied the belt on her robes and sank into a large, comfortable chair against the wall. Her dress lay on her lap. She smiled brightly, sunshine returning to her face. "I've already got mine. But after words, let's join them. I'm famished."
Chanaur settled onto his back, into the soft grass. His stomach refused to take anything else. Even though he hadn't eaten very much, he felt stuffed. Of course, such is to be expected after a week of next to nothing.
"What's the matter?" Reinhardt asked around a large mouthful of who-knows-what. "Still trying to maintain your figure? C'mon, chow down! You've earned it."
Chanaur raised a hand. "I just can't take anymore. It's odd, but I feel like I've swallowed a watermelon whole." He pressed a hand to his forehead. "That and I've got a nasty headache."
Raziel cleared his throat, and Chanaur sat up. A porcelin teapot was passed his way. "I anticipated that, and brewed some tea from willow bark. Go on, it'll help the migrane."
Darnell ate a little bit of everything. Apparently he never really got to eat much of anything but the living during his past life, and he was planning to find out what he'd been missing.
Chanaur poured the tea into his mug, over what was left of the small portion of wine he had taken. Of course, that could have been the source of his headache; alcohol on an empty stomach. Cursing himself silently, he barely took a sip before he saw the girls come into view.
Jara sat down in Darnell's lap. Perhaps a bit too far to the left considering the look that crossed his face. Rosa sat down next to Reinhardt, taking his hand in hers.
He looked up to see Carrie, dressed in a black dress that was quite form-fitting. She came to kneel behind Chanaur, her hands on his shoulders, kneeding his flesh through the suit he was wearing He let out a soft moan, and closed his eyes. "Feeling better, babe?" She kissed the top of his head, inhaling at the same time. "Mmm..... I see you've showered."
"Yes, and it was glorious. I've never been so overdue....." He offered her his tea, and she sipped delicately from it. "And how are you feeling, darling?"
Carrie renewed her massage, and sighed slightly. "I'm feeling fine, especially now that I've showered as well."
Chanaur saw Rosa whisper in Reinhardt's ear. Of course, he heard what it was. Maybe you and I could do that together in a bit here.
Chanaur smiled, and turned to Jara and Darnell. Something of much the same context passed from him to her. Apparently he had gotten past the innitial affront of it all, and was becoming quite comfortable.
Chanaur shook his head softly, and leaned back into Carrie, his head resting somewhere it probably shouldn't be. Oh, but it was heaven all the same....
Carrie smiled down at him, a sneer playing at her lips. "Comfortable, dear?"
"Aye, yes I am." Chanaur muttered, closing his eyes. He felt Carrie smile, as her hands moved to his chest, running her hands gently over him. "You know, I have someone I need to go meet later. Would you like to come with?"
Carrie laughed, Chanaur's head thrust foreward slightly. "I'd love to, but I need to go meet someone as well. I guess we'll just have to see each other tonight?"
"Yeah. But we don't have to go now." Carrie returned to his shoulders, her massage soft, soothing. "Ohh.... I'll have to return this favor sometime....."
"Sounds great." She kissed him on the forehead, as it was the only place she could reach easily. "I'll hold you to it."
Raziel cleared his throat again. Chanaur opened his eyes. Jara and Darnell looked his way, for once in the midst of a conversation. Rosa and Reinhardt parted lips and looked his way. Ada smiled slightly; it seemed she knew something about the next anouncement.
Raziel looked around at the girls, except for Ada. "Could you ladies leave for a moment? I'd like to have a word with the guys for a second."
Jara and Rosa left after a quick parting. Chanaur sat up, removing his head from it's delicious resting place. She smiled down at him, and he kissed her delicately on the lips. She promised to return soon, and she walked off with the three others.
Raziel waited until they were out of earshot, and then addressed the others. "So, I see you've all found your ideal wives. Now, today's Wednesday. How does Saturday sound for a wedding date?"
Darnell choked on what Chanaur was assuming to be some of the headache tea. Reinhardt nodded his head. "Sure, sounds fine."
Darnell looked up at Raziel after his body had established that it was alright. "Saturday?" He looked at Chanaur, who nodded slightly. "Seems a bit too soon. Are we going to have enough time to prepare?"
"Oh, yes." Raziel smiled wryly. "We've been planning this one for quite some time. The plans were centered around you, of course." He gestured to Chanaur, who seemed totally unsurprised. "Anyway you are all to relax, and not worry about it. I'm just here to secure a date." He smiled, and winked at them all. "So, take the next few days to have a little fun, if you know what I mean."
Chanaur shook his head. "I think we can wait three more days before our first time. I'd like to be able to look back on it as the most magical of all our nights......"
Raziel paused. "You two.... Still haven't?"
Chanaur glared at him. "After two days, are you kidding? You can't rush these things."
Reinhardt laughed. "And what do you know of 'these things,' Chanaur?"
"Well, what do you?"
Reinhardt fell silent: His bluff had been called.
Raziel paused again. "You two either?" He turned to Darnell. "You've lived for a couple hundred years. If not with Jara, surely.....?"
He raised his hands, as one does to show he is unarmed. "Nope. Never have."
Raziel's joke had fallen solidly onto it's face and gotten a snoot-full of dirt. "Huh. Ah well, then I guess you wait." He munched quietly on an apple.
"Is this the same thing that Ada's speaking the others about?" Chanaur muttered grumpily. "Is she giving them the sex talk as well?"
"Not that I know of." Raziel blinked slightly, and then turned to them again. "Any questions?"
Chanaur was dreading this question. "Feh." He threw a glass of water in his face and walked off. Darnell got up and left in much the same fashion.
As he was walking away, he heard Reinhardt's voice. "Actually, some pointers would be nice."
Chanaur took Raziel's response to heart: "Follow your instincts. That's all."
Carrie stood in the middle of the Cemetary, looking around. As usual, it was silent save for the song birds among the multiple trees. The headstones varied in condition from one to next; some were well kept, as if they were brand new, and others were cracked and moss covered. Forgotten.....
Carrie always felt sorry for these poor forgotten people. She always brought a large amount of flowers, and she had made it a habbit of placing one on those graves.
Everyone needs some company. Even in death.
Those were her fathers words. He had done much the same thing back when he was still alive. Carrie had watched him do it, and had helped him at it later. Imbrium had never come with them to the Cemetary. She always seemed so depressed when near it.....
And now she rested here, just beside her love. As were Alucard and Rain.....
Carrie came here often. It was so peaceful here, and it brought back a sense of memory. But she always felt this slight pain just below her heart whenever she came here. As though her longing to see them alive again manifested into a physical shard of nostalgia....
She found herself before Lacuna's grave, a pair of fresh roses resting atop it. She looked solemly around, wondering if she'd be remembered after she were gone.....
She climbed the hill to where her parents rested. The only sound was her soft footfalls. The birds no longer sang, and the wind stood still. Unhuriedly, she crested the hill.
There were three markers; her mothers, her fathers, and the memorial plaque between the two. Kyphron's grave was empty, though few knew but her. She looked at the plaque, and read the message she knew by heart.
Here lies Kyphron
and Imbrium Fernandez.
Their life's candle was extinguished
by the Darkness
that they had fought
side by side,
and now they are
with no more
reason to hide.
At the relief's base were two roses on the same stem, twining around each other. She only wished that that grave really held her father.....
But at least it held his memory.
"Hello. It's been a week since I last visited you two." She sank to her knees. "I suppose you two were lonely." She laughed lightly. "Nah, you two had each other, of course."
Many a casual onlooker had watched this sort of procession and deemed her a looney. Of course Carrie payed them no mind at all. This was the time she felt the closest to them. The one time she could almost reach out and touch them.
"You must be getting tired of flowers by now..." She smiled as she layed the remainder of her flowers on their graves. "....But I remember how much you two liked them. That and I have no idea what to get you otherwise....." She laughed.....
.....and her laugh dissolved into tears. She weapt softly, her head buried in her hands. "I miss you two. I miss our nights in the snow, our days in the fields..... Our nights spent reading by the fire....." She let out a sob. "I wish I could have you back..... But I can't....." She sighed, and smiled a little. "But at least I'll have Chanaur. I know you two would be proud of me right now....." She smiled a little through her tears. "But I do have one more present for you."
She walked up to the memorial plaque, and planted the cresent staff firmly in the ground just behind it. The sapphire was gone; Carrie kept it as a memento. "I hope you like it....." She felt more tears coming, and wasn't about to stop them.
And then she felt a hand on her shoulder, and they all came flowing out.
Chanaur held her close, feeling her tears soak into his shirt. She clutched to him, sobbing softly into him. Her solace was here at the Cemetary, and here in his arms.
She hadn't felt so at home in over five years.....
She looked up at Chanaur's face, noticing that he had been crying recently too. In his hand he held two last gardenias. He had visited his parents graves, and brought two for his other parents.....
He released Carrie gently, and gingerly laid the first on Kyphron's grave. Words appeared in the stone beneath his name, carved by an invisible hand.
Freed from prison at last,
To ever live above.....
He placed the second flower on Imbrium's grave, and more words apeared.
.....To finally rest together,
In bliss, peace, and love .
He turned back to Carrie, and he was smiling. A very slight smile, for he still seemed to be fighting tears. He didn't speak a word for long moments, but he held her gaze in his. Finally he croaked out three little words that had once changed both their lives.
"I love you."
Carrie moved slowly into his arms, resting her head gently on his chest. "I love you too." Her hands were on his shoulders, digging in slightly. "God, I miss them." She looked over at the tombstones, and then to the Staff. "But you can't change the past...."
"No." He whispered. "And those who try are fools." Chanaur removed the Necronomicon from beneath his arm and walked slowly toward his parent's graves, but a bit away. He layed it down reverently between the two, and stood. He turned back to Carrie and smiled. "I was a fool once. But then I saw the truth in your eyes." He embraced her gently again, and whispered softly in her ear. "Life's a journey, not a destination...." He kissed her on the lips. "And you just can't tell just what tomorrow will bring."
"Yeah....." Her face still streaked with tears, she tried at a smile. "....One day we'll be here, side by side, just like our parents."
Chanaur nodded. "But until then, we have a life to live. Together."
Carrie and Chanaur stood there for one more moment of silence, and then headed back to Wallachia. They had parted with the ghosts of their pasts.....
....And been reunited with their fond memories.
The flowers on their graves rustled softly in the wind. And though Chanaur couldn't be sure, he thought he could hear their voices....
Be good to each other.....
And live in peace.....
Chanaur, take care of Carrie for us....
And for us as well.....
Be sure to show love everyday.....
Just as you showed it to us......
.....Farewell, Our Children. Farewell.....
Carrie's hand squeezed his arm lightly. "Is something wrong?"
He had stopped and turned back to look at the pair of graves. He had heard them. He knew it. All four of them.....
"Nothing." He sighed, a smile crossing his face. He turned back to her, and whispered softly, as soft as the wind, "Just the wind......" He looked back at the graves, and sighed. "Just the wind....."
End Part Twenty Five.