The following is a commissioned mini-interlude focusing on Sariel and Haiden, Tristan and Vanessa’s parents. I hope you enjoy this little flashback.
Wednesday, July 7th, 1999
“You know, I was supposed to be Artemis, the virgin goddess. You know what virgin goddesses generally don’t end up?” Sariel Moon eyed her husband as he came in the door of their small apartment carrying a couple of reusable grocery bags.
Raising an eyebrow at her, Haiden shook his head and guessed, “Making sloppy joes?” Gesturing toward the pan on the nearby stove in their tiny kitchenette, he added, “Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t really seem like a goddess thing.”
Sticking her tongue out pointedly, Sariel took one of the bags from him. “You love my sloppy joes and you know it. Mixing in salsa and onions with it was culinary genius.” As she spoke, the blonde woman moved back to the stove. Setting the bag down, she picked up the wooden spoon and stirred the sizzling concoction in the pan. “So no, that’s not it.”
By that point, Haiden had set down the other bag in the chair next to a stack of well-read comic books and moved up behind her. As his arm snaked around her, he pulled the woman back against him gently, yet firmly. “I can think of a lot of things that don’t apply to a virgin goddess,” he murmured. “Most of which we’ve taken care of more than a few times. And I think you’re pretty genius at those things too.”
Blushing, the Seosten renegade ducked her head a little instinctively before clearing her throat. “Ahem. That’s kind of my point.” Reaching down, she caught hold of his wrist and lifted it to put the man’s hand against her stomach. “Pregnant. Most virgin goddesses don’t end up pregnant.”
Grinning, Haiden leaned his head down to kiss his wife’s neck while gently stroking her stomach. She was nearly eight weeks along by that point, so she wasn’t really showing at all. It would take at least a few more weeks before there was any kind of outward sign. Still, he felt like he could tell. He knew his wife, knew her in every way possible. And loved her in more ways than that.
His voice was soft against her neck as he whispered, “Does the goddess object?”
Shivering a little and swaying just a little bit from the effect he had on her, Sariel’s head shook slowly. “Mmmm, no.” Turning and leaning back slightly so that she could meet his gaze, she whispered, “Never object to you. And I’m not a goddess. I never was, not really. Never a real goddess, never a real angel. Just lies. Manipulative lies.”
Lifting his hand to her chin, then up to cup the side of her face, Haiden spoke with absolute assurance. “Yes, you are. You’re my goddess. My angel.”
She made a weak cooing noise just before his lips found hers. They stayed like that for a few seconds, pressed against one another before the blonde woman pulled back with a gasp. “Food, food. It’ll burn.” Picking up the wooden spoon, she stirred the sloppy joe mix, smiling both at the feel of her husband still half-clinging to her, and the smell of the well-seasoned hamburger. “You brought the rest of the stuff, right?”
Haiden ran a hand down her back tenderly while assuring her, “Of course I did. I wouldn’t let you down. Even if I did have to run to six different New Age stores before they finally had the right crystals.”
Sariel turned to face him with an easy smile. “It’ll be worth it, believe me. That’s the last of the supplies we need.”
“You mean it’s ready?” Haiden couldn’t keep the eagerness out of his voice, despite every attempt to sound cool and collected. With this particular situation, he just couldn’t pull it off.
Smiling at his reaction, Sariel gave a nod while trying just as hard to sound casual. “Sure. It just needed the crystals to focus the spell. But you know, we could wait until after dinner if you prefer. It’s pretty much done, and we could–”
Haiden kissed her, cutting her off as she giggled at his immediate denial. “No,” the man murmured. “Dinner can wait. This can’t.” His hand found hers, and he gave a slight tug. “If it’s ready, let’s do this.”
Obligingly, Sariel turned the stove down to the lowest possible setting so that the food would stay warm, but wouldn’t burn. Then she let her husband pull her across the room to the corner, where she had already laid out a wide wooden board that took up the majority of the living room. Intricate spellforms had been put into the board with a simple wood burning tool, leaving a circle in the middle that was just wide enough for her to stand in.
“Take the crystals and put them in each of those fourteen spots I marked with the Cheerios,” she instructed the former Heretic while stepping into the wider circle on the board. “And remove the Cheerios.”
Grabbing one of the little bits of cereal from what appeared to be a random part of the elaborate design, Haiden replaced it with a small violet crystal he pulled from one of the bags that he’d brought home. Then he popped the Cheerio in his mouth and moved on to the next one.
In the meantime, Sariel focused on performing the last elements of the spell. As she’d told him, it was almost done. She’d spent the past few days gradually working on it so that, once they had the crystals, it wouldn’t take much longer.
Even then, it was a complex enough spell that another ten minutes passed after Haiden finished arranging the crystals before it was finished. Finally, however, Sariel leaned down while staying in her spot in the circle. Her hand touched the nearest crystal, and she triggered the spell.
The crystal lit up with a brilliant purple light that quickly narrowed into a single, focused laser. That laser shot into the second crystal elsewhere on the spellform, and from there into the next one. Over time, with the way the crystals were arranged, all the runes were lit by the laser-focused violet light.
Once the spell was lit up, a glowing, thick violet fog lifted from the wooden board. It slowly grew to encompass Sariel herself, covering her from the neck down without straying a millimeter away from the board itself.
Feeling the tingling sensation as the fog enveloped her entire body save for her head, Sariel restrained a giggle. “Okay, okay… ready?”
Haiden bit his lip hard, managing a nod after a moment. “Ready.”
As he spoke, some of the fog slowly drifted away from the board. It arranged itself in front of them in a small, vaguely humanoid shape. It was like seeing the form of a person in a game of cloud watching. But over the next few seconds, the shape gradually coalesced and began to look more and more realistic. It went from looking like wispy clouds in the vague shape of a child, to looking like an actual child. The skin and hair was purple, but that faded rapidly toward the end into pale white skin and light blonde hair.
Finally, the holographic image of a six or seven-year old blonde boy stood there, staring straight ahead.
“Oh my god.” The exclamation was more noise than actual words, a squeak of joy that escaped Sariel as she touched her lips. “A little boy. Haiden, we’re going to have a little boy. Look at him. Look at how handsome he is. Look… look.”
“I… I see. I see him.” Haiden could barely contain himself. His hand moved to touch the image, though he knew his hand would go right through it. The spell simply examined the baby inside the mother and projected an image of what that child would look like in a few years. “My boy. My boy. He’s my boy.”
Sariel opened her mouth, but before she could say anything, more of the violet fog drifted away from the board.
“Err, what’s this?” Haiden asked, confused as he watched the new fog take up position beside the first. “Did you ask for a second image? Like when he’s older or something? Can you even do that?”
“No, I—I didn’t—what–” Terrified in that moment that something had gone wrong, Sariel almost canceled the spell. There were so many things they didn’t know about a Seosten and human match. What would their child be like? It was one of the many reasons she had wanted to do this spell, just to… make sure everything was fine. In addition to showing an image of their future child, it would let them know if there were any complications.
Before she could stop it, however, the fog began to take shape beside their baby boy. And this… this was no mistake, and no complication. It was a revelation.
“A girl,” Haiden breathed out, genuine and reverent awe in his voice. “It’s a—she’s a… girl. A girl… but it showed us a…” He looked back and forth between the boy and girl, realization dawning on him gradually. “… oh… oh my god… oh my god… we’re not having a baby. We’re not having a baby. We’re… we’re having… oh….”
“Twins,” Sariel finished for him. Tears were streaming down her face. Tears of unbridled, unrestrained joy. It was a happiness that she could never have imagined aside from the moment that she and Haiden had been married. “We’re having twins. Oh… oh Choir… oh… my babies. My babies.”
“Sari, the spell—the spell,” Haiden’s voice shook as he stood at the edge of the wood, staring at the images of his children as if trying to burn them into his memory forever. “Will it—does it–”
“It’s okay,” Sariel assured him, her voice cracking. “It’s okay.” She held her arms up, welcoming the man as he moved instantly onto the board with her.
With a laugh of joy, a triumphant shout that he didn’t care who heard, Haiden lifted his wife off the board and nearly to the ceiling before pulling her back down. Hugging her tight to his chest, he let out another whoop before his laughter turned to tears of delight, then back to laughter again.
“Twins. My babies. My boy, my girl. Mine.” He managed before setting the woman down.
Staring adoringly at the images of the children for a few more seconds, Sariel slowly turned her gaze up to meet his eyes. Her voice was certain, and calm. “Yours,” she breathed out before leaning up to kiss him once more.