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Messages - Peter Radcliffe

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Of Gall And Grangers / Re: Pics and Props
« on: August 02, 2021, 01:49:29 PM »
Peter's fairy friend, Snowdrop ...

((Artwork by Cicely Mary Barker))

Of Gall And Grangers / Re: Last Days of Summer
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:36:45 PM »
"Why would Humphrey listen to me?" James asked, taking hold of her hand as he led her back toward the stairs. He was a pirate, after all, not a carpenter.

"Well, you did kinda build our house on the Point," she reminded him, trying not to laugh at the way he was refusing to let go of her since she had stamped all over the upper floor.

"I had some help," he admitted. He had taken great pride in that house and still did, but maybe together they could make this house just as nice as that one.

"You still did most of the work," she pointed out, jumping down the last steps just as Chewy pushed his way in through the back door, tail wagging happily.

Jamie shrugged, wincing again as she jumped down the stairs. "You truly are going to give me a heart attack," he murmured, mostly to himself. "And where have you been?" he asked the dog, who seemed to have arrived belatedly.

The chocolate lab barked cheerfully at James, bouncing up to dance his forepaws on his master's thigh before dropping down again. "Looks like he got bored waiting for us outside."

Despite his question, Jamie rubbed his fingers into the fur behind the dog's ears. "Let's go home," he told both wife and dog. They could talk about what to do about the house later. Right now, he wanted to enjoy a little quiet time with his wife.

Home was where the heart was, and that was really what mattered. The Point would always be there, and they would return to make it home once again, when the children were old enough to make the distance seem smaller. Ashlyn and James could suck it up for a decade or so. After all, they'd have each other.

What was important right now was the children's safety and happiness, and so long as they were together as a family, it didn't much matter what place they called home.

The roof definitely needed fixing before they moved in, though.

Of Gall And Grangers / Re: Last Days of Summer
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:36:31 PM »

"You be a good girl for your aunt and uncle, okay?" he asked her, though he knew she would be.

Cora nodded, reaching up to hug him with very sticky fingers. "'es, daddy," she promised, planting a sticky kiss on his cheek.

Ash grinned, moving over to kiss Peter and give him a hug. "You have fun, okay?"

"We'll see you tomorrow," Jamie assured his daughter, though she didn't seem to need his reassurance, as he hugged her back. At that moment, he realized it was him who was going to miss her far more than she'd miss him. "Love you, sweetling," he whispered in her ear.

"Lub 'oo," his little girl whispered back, beaming as she pulled away to finish eating her cupcake. She might have a wobble later on, but Piper and Des knew they could always call Jamie and Ash so Cora could feel connected to them again.

Jamie smiled, not letting Cora see how torn he felt at letting her go. How was he ever going to let her grow up? He reached over to ruffle Peter's hair. "Keep an eye on your sister," he told the boy, trusting the boy to do just that.

"And have fun, both of you," Ash added with a smile, clicking her fingers to call Chewy to her side. Leaving Lucy and her live crickets was probably enough for Piper without adding another dog into the mix as well.

"Sorry about the crickets," Jamie murmured to Piper once the goodbyes had been said.

"We'll be fine," Desmond assured his cousin and her husband. "And so will they," he added. It wasn't the children's first sleepover, after all.

"We'll miss them more than they'll miss us," Ash agreed, sliding her hand into James' as they made their goodbyes to the adults. "Call us if they get rowdy or weird, okay?"

Desmond smiled. "Go already. They'll be fine," he said, sliding an arm around Piper's waist as they said their goodbyes.

James closed his fingers around Ashlyn's, eager to get home and have her all to himself, but reluctant to leave the children behind. "Call if you need anything," he added, just for good measure.

"Get out," Piper told them affectionately, her soft smile more than enough to make the order seem far less harsh than it was loving.

Ash laughed, giving Jamie a tug to the door, Chewy padding in front of them. "We're going, we're going."

"Night!" Jamie called back as he was half-dragged to the door. He laughed as they stumbled outside, knowing he was being ridiculous. "Sorry, love. I guess I'm an old worry wart."

"We both are," Ash assured him fondly. "I guess it's all part of being a parent, huh?" Ahead of them, Chewy galloped down the path, pausing at the gate to look back as though expecting them to be chasing him.

"I guess," Jamie agreed. It wasn't Peter he was worried about so much as it was Cora, but he also knew Peter adored his little sister and would do everything he could to keep her safe.

"They'll call us at bedtime," Ash predicted, squeezing his hand as they stepped out through the gate and turning them in the direction of the chestnut trees not too far away. "We'll just have to make sure we're not too distracted until afterward."

"Good luck with that," Jamie remarked with a snort and a chuckle. It was more likely they'd simply fall asleep than get distracted anyway.

She laughed, rolling her eyes. "Why am I the one who needs the luck in this scenario?" she demanded playfully. "You're the one who occasionally goes all lady-grabbing pirate on me. Which I love, don't get me wrong."

"Are you saying I can't touch my wife and talk to my children at the same time?" he asked, that brow of his arching upwards as he eyed her seriously.

She snorted, cackling a little at the mental image that sprang to the fore at that. "Jamie, you just sent my mind to some very inappropriate places."

"I mean on the phone!" he said, looking and sounding just a little exasperated. Thankfully, he had learned what a phone was and what it was for. He had learned a lot since winding up in Rhy'Din, but some things still confounded him. At the moment, it was his wife.

Cackling at the exasperation on his face, Ash leaned up to kiss his cheek. "You're so easy to tease, baby," she murmured tenderly. "I am never going to get tired of it."

"Hmm, you're lucky I love you," he told her, smirking as she kissed his cheek. He didn't bother to say what he might have done about her teasing if he didn't love her.

"I absolutely know it," she assured him, glancing up as the shade of the trees blocked the evening sun. "Let's take a look at the Gables, shall we? It's just through here."

"Aye, let's have a look," Jamie replied, letting her lead the way, hand in hand. How bad could it be? He'd yet to find any dilapidated properties at the Grove.

Sure, the garden was over-grown a little, and the whole place needed an overhaul, but on first inspection, Chestnut Gables was not that bad at all. It smelled a little of dust and mold, and there was definitely a leak in the roof over the kitchen, but on the whole ... it really wasn't that bad.

Jamie kept his thoughts to himself as they looked around the house, making a mental note of things that needed work. The house wasn't as nice as the one he'd had built for her at the Point, but all it needed was a little work. "What do you think?" he said, asking for her opinion before sharing his own.

Ash sighed as she looked around. "I think I don't want to move, but moving is better for the kids, so it might as well be to here?" she said, offering him her honest opinion. "It needs work, but not as much as I thought it might."

"Nor do I, but it would be better for the children," he reluctantly agreed. The children had become rather attached to their cousins, and the Point was too isolated and far away.

"We can go home when they're older," she said with another soft sigh. "I guess I well and truly grew up, if I'm making this decision." She snorted at her own realization. "Wow, your wife became an adult. Shocker."

"About time," he teased, playfully bumping her arm. In all honesty, he thought she'd always been the more mature of the two, despite the fact that he'd lived a lot longer.

Ash laughed, the sound more her own laugh than the more put-upon option that had emerged earlier in the evening. "You're an adorable dick sometimes, you know that?"

"Are we talking about my charming personality or what's below my belt?" he asked, a teasing gleam in his sea-blue eyes. He was just vain enough to know he was good-looking, but he wasn't sure he'd go so far as to use the word "adorable" to describe the parts of his body that made him a man.

"Bit of both," she teased back. "Your decision which bit is which." Grinning, she drew back, turning to make sure the stairs were still safe by stamping up them as hard as she could.

Jamie winced as Ashlyn stamped up the stairs, tempted to close his eyes in case she fell through, but instead, he hurried after her, shouting, "Be careful, Ashlyn!"

"Better me than someone else," she called back. Perhaps she wasn't quite the adult she'd just claimed to be, bouncing around on the top floor just to be sure. She was careful not to do it anywhere near the hole in the roof, though.

"You're going to give me a heart attack!" Jamie claimed, as he reached for her arm to pull her close. There was a slight look of panic on his face, as though he was truly afraid she might fall through the ceiling.

She giggled as he pulled her close, looping her arms about his waist. "I don't have a death wish, baby, we're good," she promised. "These houses were built to last - if it was dangerous, it would be locked up and fenced in, like some of the others."

"Some of the others?" he echoed, looking alarmed. "Why don't they tear them down?" he asked, surprised to hear there were houses somewhere at the Grove that were actually decrepit.

"Maybe because Humph remembers the people who lived there when he was young?" she suggested. "I don't think anyone would suggest tearing them down while he's in charge of the estate."

"Yes, but ..." Jamie trailed off, unsure it was worth debating. The old man was the family matriarch, after all, but in Jamie's opinion, decrepit houses were nothing but a hazard.

"Is this really what you want to spend your evening thinking about?" she asked innocently, tilting her head as she smiled. "You're gonna start getting worry lines again."

"No, I just ..." He sighed. There wasn't much point in arguing about it. "It just seems like such a waste ... and someone could get hurt," he admitted with a shrug. Then again, what did he know?

"So maybe you should talk to Humph about it," Ash suggested. "He trusts you, and he likes you. I mean, he had a ship built for you to take me all over the world in."

Of Gall And Grangers / Re: Last Days of Summer
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:36:13 PM »
"Which is no reason to stop," Jamie said, also seemingly unaware of the small crowd whose attention had shifted from Chewy to the sickeningly mushy adults. It wasn't until several giggles drew his attention from that of kissing his wife's lips that he realized they had an audience. "Don't look now, but I think we are being watched," he whispered against her lips.

"It's good for them," Ash murmured, winking up at him with a last slow kiss to his lips before she turned her eyes onto the children. "And what are you lookin' at?"

"We is lookin' at you kissin'!" Dylan supplied the answer for them all, but the children's attention was short-lived as Desmond called from the porch, summoning them back for cupcakes.

The promise of cupcakes was enough to send the children rushing for the back door, leaving Ash and Jamie in the garden to bring up the rear. Ash laughed fondly in their wake. "We got so lucky with our family, didn't we?"

"It's your family," Jamie pointed out, regarding the multitude of people who called Maple Grove home, including Des and Piper. Or was she referring to their children?

"Our family," she corrected. "You're a part of this family too, you know." She tilted her head toward him. "The most important part of my family is standing right here with me."

Jamie's smile softened. "You saved me from myself, Ashlyn," he said, reminding her of a time when he had been in a very dark place. If it hadn't been for her, he truly wasn't sure he would have survived.

"I was hooked from the start," she assured him, her eyes dancing with laughter at her own joke, knowing perfectly well she had just set herself up for some unique punishment at some point.

He rolled his eyes at her pun. "Shall I show you later why it's good I have two very real hands?" he said, stopping to pull her into those very capable arms of his, despite risking someone seeing. There was no reason to keep his affection for her secret, after all.

"That sounds like quite the adventure," she agreed, chuckling as she was drawn close into his arms once more. "I wonder if Piper and Des would take Cora, too?"

"I'm sure we could convince them," he replied, as he brushed his nose against hers. It would probably take very little convincing, given the fact that Cora and Mia were practically sisters.

"We'll make it up to them," Ash suggested, smiling against his lips. "Do you want to grab your cupcake before it mysteriously disappears?"

"I don't care about cupcakes," Jamie told her. "But I suppose we should at least ask before we disappear," he added with a grin.

"And, you know, say goodnight to the kids," she added with a low chuckle. "They might be offended if we just leave without saying goodbye." Peter might actually chase them if they tried it.

"I doubt they'll even miss us," Jamie said, touching another kiss to her lips, though he knew that wasn't entirely true. Their children enjoyed their sleepovers, but always returned home eager to see their parents.

"Oh, ye of little faith," she teased, finally drawing back to lead him back into the house, hand in hand, with Chewy bobbing along in front of them.

Jamie chuckled. He had been joking, after all. He knew as well as she did how much their children missed them, and vice versa, but it was only one night.

By the time they got into the kitchen, Des and Piper had ceded the table to the children, who were now engaged in an earnest conversation about what they were going to do this evening before bed. Ash flicked a smile toward her cousin, wondering if he'd already guessed what she was going to ask.

Though Desmond wasn't a mind-reader, he could tell from the look on Ashlyn's face that she was up to something. He returned her smile with a questioning look, before silently mouthing, "All of them?"

"Is that okay?" she mouthed back to him, though they all knew it was. It was a favor that would be repaid over time, after all.

Desmond flashed his cousin a thumbs up to indicate his agreement. "You owe me," he whispered with a smirk as he moved past Ashlyn to let Piper know what was going on .

"We're good," Ash murmured to James, grinning up at him cheerfully. "You wanna break it to them, or should I?" To be fair, the only one who might take it as a surprise was Cora, but she was with her favorite cousin, too.

"Please, be my guest," Jamie said, gesturing with a hand for her to do just that. He wasn't expecting any complaints, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

She snorted with laughter. "All right, Captain Coward." Leaving him where he stood, Ash made her way over to the table, leaning over Cora to kiss the little girl upside down on the nose. "Mmm, frosting," she teased, righting herself. "How'd you like to stay overnight with Mia, kiddo?"

Jamie snorted at the insult, murmuring quietly beneath his breath, "We'll see what I'm captain of later." He leaned back against the counter, arms crossed against his chest, while Ash put the news to the children.

Cora wrinkled her nose up at her mother, looking a little surprised by the question. "C'n we sleep inna same bed?" she asked, as if that was all that mattered.

"I think that could be arranged," Ash assured her, bending down to rest her chin on Cora's head as she looked across at Peter. "You're cool with staying here tonight, Peter?" she asked. "Want us to take Lucy or Chewy home?"

Peter nodded his head enthusiastically at the idea of sleeping overnight, though it had become a pretty regular occurrence over the summer. "Cora, too?" he asked, looking almost as surprised as his sister.

"If she wants to stay, she absolutely can," Ash agreed with a grin. "Pretty sure it'll be more fun here than at home tonight. You make faces when your mom and dad start smooching before you go to bed." She winked teasingly at him.

Peter made a face at that, proving his mother right. Like most children, he preferred to have the attention focused on him and Cora, rather than on each other. Besides, unless it was his mother kissing him goodnight, kissing was just weird. "Can Lucy stay, too?" he asked, guessing it might be a bit much to ask if Chewy could stay, too.

"Sure she can," Ash assured him. "I'll leave the crickets with Des and Piper so you can feed her in the morning, okay?"

Across the kitchen, Piper's face went on an interesting journey as she overheard this.

"Okay, Mumma," he replied obediently. "And don't worry ... I'll look out for Cora," he promised. "Are you and Dad gonna kiss all night?" he asked, knowing it was one of his parents' favorite pastimes, though he wasn't sure why. Kissing was a messy business.

"We've got some talking to do," she told Peter, making sure to make it sound deathly dull with her tone alone. "The kissing makes it go faster for us."

"Talkin' 'bout what?" he asked, not letting her off the hook quite that easily. "Grown up stuff?" he asked curiously, but not very concerned.

"Yeah," she drawled. "Money stuff, and house stuff, and how to get you and Cora to eat vegetables that aren't just potatoes or beans."

Peter chuckled at that last part. "They taste yucky," he said, matter of factly, but more because he'd learned from other kids that they weren't supposed to like vegetables for some reason.

"And yet tonight you had onions and peppers, and you didn't argue at all," Ash pointed out, falling back on the parental argument that he didn't have a leg to stand on here.

Peter chuckled at his mother's silliness. "Those aren't veg-ee-tables," he told her, in that matter of fact tone that told her there was no point in arguing with him. Who could argue with a child's logic, after all.

"Uh ... yah, they are," she argued back laughingly, stroking her hand over Cora's hair. "You et 'em, you don't get to say they're yucky anymore."

Peter furrowed his brows at his mother, looking like he was about to argue with her, but the look was short-lived. The Neverland Peter might have accused her of tricking him, but this Peter adored his mother and only ever wanted to please her. "Okay, Mama," he said without further argument.

He knew she would never trick him into eating anything, too. If anything, Ash was possibly a little too honest about what she was cooking, as had been proved when she had tried to explain what eggs were and ended up talking Peter out of the notion that she was trying to feed him chicken farts.

Now that Ashlyn had broken the news to their children, James pushed off the wall and made his way to Cora first, to kiss her on the cheek. It wasn't until that moment that he realized how much he was going to miss her, though it was only for one night.

Of Gall And Grangers / Re: Last Days of Summer
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:35:52 PM »
"Or in Lir's cave," Piper added, setting the pan on the counter and turning the faucet so they could rinse everything before loading the dishwasher. "He doesn't come out much in winter, so if we lose them during the snow, they're usually in there with him."

"Right," Des agreed, moving about the kitchen and dining room to set things right. Double the gathering meant double the mess, especially when half of them were children. "Is Peter adjusting better these days?" he asked his cousin.

Ash thought about her answer before she gave it. "He's doing better," she said eventually, snagging a cloth to wipe down the dining table. "I mean, he probably has an unhealthy attachment to everyone and everything he knows right now, but I think that's gonna ease back over time. The one thing that terrifies him is the thought of being alone."

"Which is why he brought Theo and Jake to Neverland in the first place," Desmond recalled. Or at least, that's what he assumed. He couldn't imagine ever being as alone as Peter had been, with no one but a fairy friend to love.

"Yeah," Ash agreed. "I know it seems a little weird just how attached he is to Lynnie, but I think she's got a good hold on it. I trust her not to let him get so attached that he can't function without her."

"I think she's good for him," Desmond agreed, though he didn't want Lyneth or Peter to form an attachment that might become an unhealthy one.

"I don't think he would have settled in as well as he has without Lynnie," Ash admitted. She bit her lip. "But being closer to other kids their age might help him spread his wings a little when it comes to friendships."

"She's a blessing," Desmond said. Though she wasn't his daughter by birth, he had come to think of her as his. Theirs was a special bond that was rare even for fathers and daughters who shared a bloodline.

"I still owe you for letting me borrow her that night," Ash pointed out. Des and Piper had never called in that favor. "I still can't quite believe how gorgeous she's gonna be when she finally decides to be an adult."

"Let's hope that's not for a while yet," Desmond said, frowning a little at the thought of it, not because he disagreed with Ashlyn, but because he wasn't ready for her to grow up yet.

"She's got a reason to grow up at a normal rate now she has Peter," Piper offered in amusement. "She won't want to leave him behind."

"I suppose not," Des admitted. He made no remark on what Lyneth looked like as a woman, hoping if he didn't acknowledge it, it wouldn't happen for a long time yet.

"So long as they're happy, I'm good with them hanging out together," Ashlyn commented. "If it ever gets weird, that's when I'll intervene, not before."

"Maybe when they're teenagers," Des suggested with a chuckle, only half kidding, though that was still a few years away yet. "So, I guess they jointly decided to quit STARS. Has he mentioned that yet?"

"I wouldn't call it mentioned," Ash said, trying not to laugh. "He sort of walked in and announced it to a breathless audience. Something along the lines of pretending to be someone different every week is boring, I'd rather be me."

Desmond laughed. "That sounds like Peter," he said. "Has he mentioned what they want to do instead?" he asked, assuming it wasn't anything so innocent as take ballet lessons.

"Not yet," Ash mused. "I think they're looking for something they want to do together, but they don't have the experience to be able to pinpoint what it is. I thought about maybe introducing them to sports, but which ones?"

"Not fencing!" Des was quick to point out with a wry chuckle. Peter had already gained some experience with a blade in Neverland, but it wasn't something a normal nine-year-old should be doing in the playground.

Ash laughed. "What about a martial art, then?" she suggested. "Something like karate, or judo? Something they can do together, but advance individually through?"

"Hmm," Desmond murmured thoughtfully. He'd taken some martial arts classes himself as a boy and had found them helpful not only in teaching him self-control, but also in focusing his anger. "That's not a bad idea, but I'm not sure Lyneth would be interested." Then again, the grown Lyneth was a badass in her own right already.

"It wouldn't hurt to ask," Piper said thoughtfully, turning the dishwasher on finally. "She only really knows how to fight with magic. Learning how to defend herself without relying on magic would be good for her."

"I think it would be good for Peter," Desmond admitted, though he didn't want to go into any explanations about his own past and how it had helped him.

"They could practice together, too," Ash said with a grin. "That would be very funny to watch."

"You're right. It would," Des admitted, moving to pour himself a cup of coffee. "I wonder which would be better at it."

"Lynnie's sneaky, but Peter's quick," Piper said thoughtfully, setting out the decorated cakes on a plate. All the children knew which ones belonged to them. "They might be evenly matched."

"Should we suggest it and see what they say?" he asked, before taking a sip of his coffee. Cora and Mia were still too young to worry about lessons of any kind, and Dyl seemed set on sports.

"Hey, are you sharing that, or is it Desdemona's special super-sekrit coffee?" Ash asked her cousin teasingly, nudging his arm with her own. "Maybe we should wait a couple of days before suggesting our kids start throwing down with each other."

"I can share," Des replied with a smirk of his own, as he set his cup down to pour one for Ash. He didn't bother to offer Piper a cup as he knew she wasn't much of a coffee drinker. "One thing at a time," he agreed. The idea of moving from one home to another was enough of a change for now.

"Signing them up for judo could be a Christmas present for them," Piper mused, smirking as Des moved to caffeinate his cousin.

"So long as it's something they both want to do," Desmond remarked. It might be something only one of them wanted to do, but he had a feeling they'd be more inclined to do it together.

"We can test the water over the next few months," Piper said confidently, settling into a seat at the kitchen table with her own cup of tea. "What do you suppose that husband of yours is doing with the zoo?"

Ash snorted. "Honestly? Only heaven can tell."

"They probably have him pushing them on the swings or something," Des said, mostly of the girls. Better Jamie than himself! He got conned into doing that often enough in the past, mostly by Cora and Mia.

"At least they fed the dogs and Knip," Piper added, nodding to the bowls on the floor that contained only the barest residue of the food that had been in them.

"Should we join them?" he asked, not looking too anxious to leave the quiet of the kitchen just yet and rejoin the troops. There were cupcakes to think about though.

"They'll remember they haven't had dessert in a little while," Piper predicted, just as comfortable where she was sitting with her tea.

Ash chuckled at the pair of them. "Gods, you two are nauseatingly domesticated," she teased.

"That, my dear, is entirely your fault," Des pointed out with a cheesy grin. He might have drawn his wife onto his lap if it wasn't for the presence of his cousin.

"How is it my fault?" Ash asked laughingly, sipping her coffee. "You're the ones who keep volunteering to have my Lost Boy overnight. He's practically been living here this summer!"

"I meant Piper!" Desmond said, chuckling again. "We've enjoyed having him," he added at the mention of Peter, looking to Piper to hopefully back him up on this.

"Things are never boring when Peter and Lyneth are in cahoots," Piper agreed. "But he's a good boy. You're going well with him, Ash. And Cora is turning into a polite little princess."

"Things are never boring, when either of them is around," Desmond murmured, whether it was Peter, Lyneth or both of them together at the same time. "And Dylan is like the third musketeer," he added, glad the pair never chased him away when he wanted to join them.

"They certainly get up to all sorts of things together," Piper said with a smile. She tilted her head at the sound of a small explosion of laughter from outside. "Sounds as though they're enjoying themselves."

"Think we should go rescue your husband?" Des asked, half-teasing. He didn't look too eager to get up from his chair just yet, and he hadn't heard any protests from outside.

"I'll go," Ash volunteered with a chuckle, setting her finished cup down. "You two keep reenacting Parents of the Victorian Era a little bit longer - you deserve the break!"

"Parents of the Victorian Era had servants!" Desmond pointed out, before realizing that was the point she had probably been trying to make. At least, those who were wealthy did.

Ash could hear Piper laughing as she slipped out through the back door, moving to join the gaggle outside who seemed to have congregated around Chewy in the middle of the garden. "And what is going on here, hmm?"

Peter was the first to pipe up, pointing at the chocolate lab with a dimpled grin on his face. "The fairies are sitting on Chewy's back!" he explained, whether she could see them or not.

"Are they really?" Ash could not see them, of course, but she joined the little circle with a smile, tucking her arm around Jamie's waist to lean into his side. "Dare I ask what they're doing?"

"Um," Jamie started. "It almost looks like they're having a party," he told his wife quietly, though it was hard to tell with fairies. "I'm just waiting for Chewy to shake them off," he added with a smirk.

"He seems pretty content," she commented, watching as the dog walked carefully in a circle, apparently doing his best not to shake his passengers from their perch. "He doesn't look like he's in distress."

"You can't see them?" Jamie asked, arching a dark brow. He had learned that some people could see fairies and some couldn't, and Ash still seemed to belong to the latter group, despite having Peter Pan for a son.

She shook her head with a smile. "I'm not a child, and I'm not touched by fae or fairy magic," she explained easily. "I know they exist, I just can't see them."

He might have suggested Peter sprinkle some fairy dust on her, but he wasn't sure she'd appreciate that too much. "It's strange. I can see them plain as day," he murmured.

"You spent a long time in Neverland," she reminded him. "There's a little fairy magic in you, even now." She squeezed him affectionately.

That only made him frown. He didn't really want fairy magic in him and never had, but it was probably a good thing with a son like Peter Pan. "I suppose," he admitted, sliding an arm around her shoulders to draw her close and drop a kiss to her cheek. "Love you," he whispered for her ears alone.

She smiled, turning her head until her nose brushed his. "Love you back," she murmured in turn, her eyes sparkling with mischief for a moment. "Kinda like the idea of turning the Point into our dirty weekend getaway for a while."

He grinned at that thought. "That means leaving the kids with a sitter, you know." Here at Maple Grove, there were plenty of people willing to take their children off their hands for a few nights.

"Haven't we been doing that every other night this summer anyway?" she teased, kissing the tip of his nose. For the moment, she was blissfully unaware of all the little faces watching them being affectionate to one another.

Of Gall And Grangers / Re: Last Days of Summer
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:35:32 PM »
James smiled faintly, mostly for Ashlyn's sake and gave her hand a squeeze. In truth, it hardly mattered where they lived, so long as they were together, but he loved their house at the Point, too. "We could use the house as a vacation home, for now," he suggested with a shrug.

"We could," she agreed softly. "I just don't want to give it up. It's ours."

Across the table, Piper caught Des' eye, smiling faintly. She had a feeling the decision had already been made; it was just a case of coming to terms with it.

"We're not gonna give it up," Jamie reassured her. It was their dream house, after all, and it would still be standing when the children were grown. "Promise."

Ash nodded slowly. "It would be good for the kids to be closer to other kids their own age," she conceded reluctantly. "Less chance of losing Peter to the skies when he gets upset with us."

"He always comes back," Jamie pointed out. The boy needed rules - all children did - but it was particularly tricky with a boy who had been on his own for so long without the need for rules.

"It would be nice to know he's only ten minutes away, rather than the other side of the city, though," Ash countered with a wry smile. She loved her boy, but his ability to fly away at a moment's notice scared the pants off her.

"You would be closer to the university and the aquarium, as well," he pointed out, not to mention the docks. It was a little isolated out on the Point, but that had been its original appeal.

"And you would be closer to the docks and the ship," she added. She squeezed his hand once again. "I think we've made our decision, baby."

He smiled, a little wistfully. Though he might not realize it, he had probably become more attached the house at the Point than she had. "It will take some time to move our things," he added.

"We'll talk to Humph and work out which of the houses is best for us," she suggested. "We might have to do some work on it before we move in."

"Aye," he agreed with a nod of his head. "Would you like to tell Peter or shall I?" he asked, a smirk on his face. He doubted it would be regarded as bad news.

"Oh, I think you should," Ash said with a grin. "He loves it when you share big secrets with him, and I already delivered the terrarium news."

"There are a few empty houses at the Grove," Desmond remarked, though some were just cottages and too small for a growing family. "What about that big one near the chestnut trees?"

Ash frowned for a moment, trying to place it. "Oh, you mean the Gables?" she asked, tilting her head thoughtfully. She glanced at James. "We could go and take a look on our way home tonight," she suggested. "Cora probably won't mind a brief delay on her way to bed."

"Is that what it's called?" Des asked curiously. Though he'd been living at the Grove for a few years now, he could not keep track of what all the various homes and cottages had come to be known as. "I guess that makes sense," he said, seeing as how there was a small grove of chestnuts nearby. "If I recall correctly, it doesn't look like it's been occupied in a while."

"Chestnut Gables, yeah," Ash mused. "You know, I can't remember anyone ever living there? It was used as a guest house when my mom's friends came to visit when we were little kids, but now she's got room in her own house, it isn't necessary for that."

James frowned. That didn't bode well for the shape of the house. "Sounds like it might need a little work," he said, though from what he'd seen, most of the houses at Maple Grove were well maintained, even if they were empty.

"Maybe a little," she agreed. "But this isn't something we're going to do over the weekend anyway. We don't have to rush this - the kids can be patient for a month or two, if necessary."

"Or we could ask Sol to snap his fingers," Desmond suggested, though he had a feeling Jamie might not be too keen on that idea.

Piper took one look at the faces of the other couple and laughed softly. "A little elbow grease never hurt anyone," she said soothingly. "And you will have plenty of help on hand, after all."

"You might need more than a little," Des murmured to himself with an amused smirk. If it was the house he thought it was anyway.

"Darling, I may be nobility, but you could never accuse me of being afraid of a little hard work," Piper informed her husband in amusement. Never mind that she couldn't be trusted with tools, but if they needed something cleaned, Piper was up for it.

"You realize we're likely to end up with a few extra helping hands," Desmond pointed out. Once others at the Grove got wind of it, they were likely to come out in droves asking to help.

"More than a few," Piper agreed.

Ash rolled her eyes. "Gods, my mom is going to be all over this," she predicted with a faint grin. "No one is to let her anywhere near paint or wallpaper or carpets. I do not need a frilly pink bathroom."

Jamie winced. "Please, no," he murmured in agreement. As fond as he was of women in general, he was thankful Ashlyn wasn't a very frilly kind of girl. Pink just wasn't his color at all.

"The only room she gets to help decorate is Cora's, and only if Cora is the one making the decisions," Ash declared, secure in the knowledge that even if Des and Piper couldn't restrain her mother, Izzy and Dom definitely could.

"What do you think, Cora love?" Jamie asked as he turned to his daughter to find her playing with what was left of her dinner. "Would you like to live closer to Mia?"

Admittedly, Cora likely hadn't been following the conversation, but she beamed up at her father nonetheless. "Like inna same bed?" she asked, eyes bright and hopeful.

He laughed, reaching over to gently clean her face and hands of food stuffs. "Not quite that close," he said, "but close enough that we can walk here."

The little girl seemed to consider this for a long moment as her mouth and cheeks were wiped clean. "Can I bring Beanie?" she asked, because of course the most important thing to bring to a new house was her favorite stuffed toy.

"Of course, you can bring Beanie!" he was quick to assure her. "We won't leave anyone behind. Promise," he said, with one hand on his heart.

At this, Cora nodded happily, lifting her hands in a silent plea to be put down on the floor so she could go and find the other children. Across the table, the same was happening with Mia - two little girls who were so close in age, they might as well be sisters.

"All right, little lasses," Jamie said as he lifted Cora from her booster seat. "Shall we go find the other little troublemakers?" he asked, reaching for Mia's hand as the pair of girls were set on the floor.

For a man who had been so unsure about becoming a father in the first place, Jamie was definitely at home these days when it came to little people and the trust they put in him. With one three year old on each hand, his back was going to ache something fierce by the time they found the others, but Ash could practically see him glowing with pleasure. She shared a grin with Piper, rising to help clear the table as the adorable trio pottered off.

"I think he should stole my thunder," Des remarked with a chuckle as Jamie disappeared out the door with his and Piper's youngest. He, too, got up to help clean up after dinner, unafraid to help.

"You didn't speak up, so now you get to help wash up," Ash informed her cousin with a cheeky grin. "That was delicious, Piper - thank you."

Piper's smile was a little shy, but she was getting better at accepting compliments these days. "It's always a pleasure to have company."

Desmond laughed. "We have company nearly every night!" he pointed out - at least, in the summer months. Once school started again, he knew that would change, even if his cousin and her family did move closer.

"And I enjoy cooking for them," Piper countered her husband's laughter with her own, leaning over to kiss his cheek affectionately. "Once we get back to the school routine, things will go back to once or twice a week, I'm sure."

"And now that you're moving to the Grove, you can return the favor," he added, with a teasing wink at his cousin.

"You say that like I wouldn't be totally up for it," Ash protested, carrying an armful of plates toward the kitchen. "At least if either one of us ever loses a kid, we'll only have to open the back door and yell."

"And there's plenty of people at the Grove to keep an eye on them," Des pointed out. It was a common enough occurrence to find a small gaggle of kids at any given house on the grounds, with various parental figures nearby to keep an eye out. "If all else fails, the tree house is the usual gathering place for anyone under the age of 18."

Of Gall And Grangers / Re: Last Days of Summer
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:35:15 PM »

"Do you think Lucy would like a ... bullfrog?" he asked as he toweled his hands dry. Behind them, the rest of the family was busy chatting and eating and talking about their day, but Peter wasn't worried. Lyneth had promised to make his feetas for him, and she always kept her promises.

"No, sweetie, I don't think our Lucy needs a bullfrog," Ash assured him. "She's happy just the way she is, with her Peter to look after her." She kissed his hair fondly, picking up the little dish with the frog in it. "C'mon, it's our turn to eat."

"Okay, Mumma," he replied obediently, trusting her with his pet. He might have even kissed her and told her that he loved her right then and there, but there were too many people around. Instead, he skipped back to his seat beside Lyneth and flashed her a smile. "Lucy's gonna live in a t'rarium by my bed so she doesn't get lost or squished."

Lyneth's eyes went wide as she hastily swallowed her mouthful, sliding his plate over to him with his pair of "feetas" neatly rolled and ready for eating. "That's brill'yant," she crowed cheerfully. "I bet she's gonna be real happy with that!"

"I hope so!" Peter said, looking far happier than he'd been a few minutes ago. "It was my Dad's idea," he declared, with a flush of pride and a grin at the knowledge of that.

"Oh, wow!" Lyneth was beaming right alongside him at that, feeling vindicated all over again at the knowledge that she had been right to nudge James into adopting her best friend.

Peter only grinned back before taking a chomp out of his "feeta".

Across the table, Ashlyn nudged Jamie affectionately. "See?" she murmured to her husband. "I told you he'd be pleased it was your idea."

"Well," Jamie started, keeping his voice low, just for Ashlyn, "He can't carry a toad around in his pocket forever." It wasn't healthy for either the boy or the toad. Frog. Whatever.

"Frog," his wife corrected him. "So what do you think of fajitas?" she added in a louder tone. "Something I should try cooking sometime, or not?"

"Toad," Jamie whispered back. "You mean the feetas?" he said with a smirk, purposely mispronouncing the word to mimic the smalls. "I don't know, lass. Do you think you can duplicate Piper's cooking?"

"If she gave me the recipe, sure!" Ash was nothing if not confident, looking hopefully over at Piper.

The raven-haired woman giggled through her mouthful, swallowing before she tried to answer. "I will share my secret with you and only you," she intoned impishly.

"What secret?" Des interjected. "It's chicken, onions, peppers, and cheese wrapped in a tortilla!" Of course, there was a certain way of preparing the chicken, but he wasn't the one who had cooked it.

"And the seasoning, of course," Piper added with a faint grin. She reached out absently to catch a wayward strip of chicken that was dropping from Mia's wrap, deftly tucking it back inside with a wink to her youngest.

"Of course," Des replied with a smirk at his wife before taking another bite of his tortilla.

"They're really yummy, Mummy!" Dylan exclaimed with a grin, salsa and sour cream dripping from his fingers.

"I'm so glad you are enjoying them!" Piper responded fondly. "The sauce is very good for the skin, too, so long as you don't cover yourself in it on purpose." This was lost on the children, although Lyneth smirked a little along with the adults.

"You rhymed!" Peter was quick to point out to Dylan, grinning around his own mouthful of fajita. "Wanna play the rhyming game?" he asked, bare feet kicking back and forth beneath the table.

"Only if we don't use names," Lyneth immediately responded, licking her fingers clean with a bright grin.

Piper rolled her eyes, licking sour cream off her thumb before attending to Mia's soon-to-be disaster of a wrap.

"Why can't we use names?" Peter challenged. "Dylan said 'Yummy Mummy'. That's a name," he pointed out, logically enough for a nine-year-old.

"Mummy is kind of yummy," Jamie murmured, a smirk of playful mischief on his face.

"Don't scar the kids for life, dummy," Ash countered to her husband, nudging him again with a grin of her own.

Lyneth looked at Peter in confusion. "I was rhymin'," she pointed out.

"Oh!" Peter exclaimed with a chuckle. "Um, okay, Simon!" he said, blurting the first word he could think of that rhymed with rhymin.

Lyneth pulled a face, but gamely tried to pick it up. "We should wash after, 'cos we've got all this ... grime on," she managed, beaming proudly.

Peter frowned. He had only just barely managed to come up with a rhyme the last round. How was he going to come up with another one when it was such a hard word to rhyme?

"You know, I think maybe this game is bad time'on," Des interjected, saving Peter from having to find another rhyme. "If you're done with your dinner, why don't you go feed your pets?"

"Oooh, yeah," Lyneth agreed, looking to Peter. "Wanna come play with the food?" She extended this invitation to Dylan. "You can feed Loki, Dyl!"

"Okay!" Peter was quick to reply. He'd just about finished his feetas anyway.

"Hold your horses, buckaroo!" Desmond said, snagging Dylan before he made his escape so that he could wipe the sauce and sour cream from the boy's hands and arms first.

Giggling, Lyneth made a big show of wiping her hands and mouth clean before she wriggled down from the table, pottering into the kitchen to prep for feeding the bigger animals.

Ashlyn rolled her eyes in amusement. "I have no idea how you guys handle her," she admitted, tearing up Cora's wrap so the little girl could see how many bites until she was finished. "She's a wildcard."

"Hurry up, Cora, so you can come out and play!" Peter urged his sister before following the queen bee into the kitchen to feed their pets.

Cora blinked, looking up at her parents as she chewed. "Do I has to?" she asked worriedly. She didn't want to upset her brother, but she was that rare child who took her time eating and enjoyed every moment of it.

"No, sweetheart. You don't have to," Jamie assured his daughter. "Peter just doesn't want you to feel left out," he added, assuming that was Peter's intention. He did seem to adore his little sister.

"I play after?" the little girl asked hopefully, lifting another handful of torn up fajita to her mouth. "Wiv Mimi?"

Piper bit down on a faint grimace. She was just about happy with Mia as a nickname for her youngest; Mimi was pushing it a little far.

"You mean Mia?" Jamie corrected gently. It was obvious to anyone who saw them together that Cora was the apple of her father's eye. Of course, he was equally fond of Peter, but theirs was a different relationship.

Cora nodded happily. It wasn't as though Mia had run off with the other children, either. She was still working her way through her own dinner bit by bit next to Des.

"So, where are the Terrible Twosome sleeping tonight?" Jamie asked, regarding Peter and Lyneth. All summer, they'd been trading houses, but summer was quickly coming to a close.

Piper glanced at Des, but they'd discussed this plenty of times. "We don't mind taking Peter again tonight," she said. "But ... well, I was wondering if there was a reason you were so determined to live out on the Point while the children are so young."

Jamie exchanged a glance with Ashlyn, a small frown on his face, before turning back to Piper and Des. "Actually, we've been wondering that ourselves," he said. He'd had the house by  the sea built for Ashlyn before the children had come along, never realizing it might someday prove too far away.

"Far be it for anyone to tell you what to do, but perhaps you could consider coming to live on the Grove until Peter and Cora are old enough to travel back and forth safely without you?" Piper suggested a little tentatively.

"We've been thinking about it," Jamie said, looking at Ashlyn again, as if hoping she'd add her two cents. Thinking, but as yet, they hadn't done anything about it. The truth was, he felt torn. He had grown attached to the house by the sea and didn't want to give it up, especially given the fact he'd had it built as a wedding present for Ashlyn.

Ash looked just as reluctant as he no doubt felt, but they both understood that this wasn't really about them. She sighed, her smile just a little resigned as she curled her fingers into James'. "It's a hard decision," she admitted to the others. "Our house at the Point, it's home. It's ours. But you're right, it's a long way away from family and the other kids their age. If we moved back to the Grove, it wouldn't be permanent. We would always plan to go back to the Point."

Of Gall And Grangers / Re: Last Days of Summer
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:34:55 PM »
"Watch out for the stampede," Des warned, stepping out of the way of the oncoming rush of children that was likely headed their way.

"I'm not sure what we're having, but it smells delicious," Jamie interjected regarding dinner.

"It's fajitas, James," Piper explained, bracing herself as the patter of feet grew louder. "Less spicy than I would make them if they were just for adults, but definitely good for a summer meal."

As they spoke, Lyneth came barreling into the dining room at the head of the small army, throwing out her hands as she skidded to a halt in the vain hope of keeping the others from knocking her face first into the table.

"Fa-hee-tas?" James repeated slowly, the word awkward on his very English tongue, though Piper was just as English and had pronounced it perfectly. "Whoa, careful there!" he exclaimed as the kids skidded to a halt, like a pile of dominoes, just barely managing to stop before toppling each other over.

"It's a Mexican dish, from Earth," Ash added, bending to sweep Cora up off the floor and onto one of the booster seats already in place at the table. "South America."

"You don't have to use forks!" Lyneth exclaimed cheerfully.

"Uh ..." Des started, not really wanting to be the one to correct Ashlyn on her Earth geography. "Close, it's actually in North America," he said, as he bent over to scoop Mia off the floor and onto another of the booster seats.

Ash paused, frowning thoughtfully, and broke into a grin. "Yeah, I don't really do land very well," she admitted. "Underwater, totally different. I bet I could give you directions to the Mariana Trench from the bottom of Sydney harbor, easy as pie."

"Uh huh," Des replied, smirking at his cousin. "I'll take your word for it."

"She's more at home on and in the water," Jamie pointed out helpfully, waiting for the children to find their seats before he took a seat on the other side of Cora.

"Everyone has their little oddnesses," Piper said in amusement, ignoring Ashlyn's feigned look of hurt as the children were finally corralled into seats, napkins tucked where napkins needed to be.

"Hey, Peter, where's Lucy?" Ash asked, tilting her head toward her son curiously.

Desmond might have explained what he meant by that remark, but he had a feeling Ashlyn wasn't really as offended by it as she looked. He just wasn't as at home on the sea as she was.

"Lucy?" Peter echoed, a brief look of panic on his face before remembering he'd tucked the frog into his shirt pocket. "She's right here!" he said, reaching into said pocket and pulling her out.

"So much for clean hands," Desmond muttered with a smirk.

"Shall I put her in a dish with some water and a few crickets while we eat?" Ash suggested to Peter, as Piper began to serve up the meal. It was better than having the frog abruptly leap into the middle of the table.

"Can I do it?" Peter asked, as he hopped up from his chair, with Lucy cradled in his hand.

"Careful she doesn't get away, lad," James told the boy that had become his son.

"Sure, we can do it together," Ash agreed, flashing James a grin. They might have had a bumpy start, but neither of them would ever want to lose Peter now. "C'mon, let's get her comfortable."

"Save me some feetas!" Peter called back as he went to help his mother get Lucy her dinner.

"Don't worry, Peter. There's plenty of food!" Desmond assured the boy as he helped with the children's plates.

"I'll make your feetas for you, Peter!" Lyneth promised, more than happy to be responsible for playing with two plates rather than just one.

"You know, Lucy's getting a bit big to live in your pocket all the time, isn't she?" Ash mused as they entered the kitchen, pulling a small box of live crickets out of her pocket.

Only the most awesome mother in the multiverse came prepared with a box of live crickets hiding in her pocket for her son's pet frog. Or toad. Whichever. Peter wasn't too sure which was which. He frowned a little at his mother's question, as he hadn't considered that before. "I almost lost her before," he confessed, though he didn't explain exactly when before was.

"You think maybe we should make her a little place to live in your bedroom?" his mother asked gently. Despite the fact that this had been talked about between Peter and Lyneth already today, it seemed as though Ash and James might have been planning it for a while as well.

"I don't wanna lose her," Peter admitted, which wasn't exactly a yes, but might be as close as he was going to get to admitting that might be for the best. "Do-do you think we should let her go?" he asked, a little worriedly.

"Honestly? I don't think she knows how to be a wild frog anymore, sweetie," Ash said, carefully pouring just enough water into a dish for Lucy to sit in and be comfortable in an air-conditioned house. "I think she's made to be your pet now."

Peter looked up at his mother, that worried frown still on his face. "I just want her to be happy," he admitted, a good sign from a boy that had once been selfish and wild.

"Do you trust me?" Ash asked him, knowing the answer but needing him to reaffirm it out loud before she went on. She handed him the little box of crickets so he could feed his frog.

Peter took the box, nodding his head solemnly in reply to his mother. There was, in fact, no one he trusted more than his mother. Wasn't that the way it was supposed to be?

She smiled, stroking her fingers through his hair. "Then I think you'll find all your worries will go away when you get home tomorrow," she promised, leaning down to kiss his temple. "Cora and I might have spent the day putting together a terrarium for Lucy to live in next to your bed."

"Really?" he asked with eyes wide and full of wonder at his mother. She really did seem to have some kind of magic powers to know just what to do at just the right time. No one else he knew had ever been like that.

"Really." Ash grinned at him, winking. "I am, after all, awesome." The fact that she and James had been working on this for a few weeks seemed to have slipped her mind for a moment. "It was your Dad's idea," she added belatedly.

"Dad's idea?" Peter echoed, glancing over at his father who was busy putting a fajita together for Cora. Though Peter was very fond of his father, he sometimes worried the man didn't like him very much.

"Yeah. He noticed you don't like to be far away from her when you're sleeping, and got worried you and she might end up having a squishing incident in the middle of the night," Ash explained, biting down on her smile as she remembered that conversation.

"Oh," Peter murmured, a thoughtful look on his face as he considered that a moment. You could almost see the wheels turning in his head before he finally nodded. "I don't want her to get squished," he admitted.

"It doesn't mean you can't cuddle her when you want to," she added gently. "But I think she'll be happier in her own little pond in your room than in your pocket, sweetie."

Peter nodded again, as if he had just come to a decision. "Okay, Mumma," he replied, agreeably. "And she won't get lost either," he added, which was something he had obviously become worried about.

"No, she definitely won't," Ash promised him, watching as he fed crickets to the frog. "I think she's eaten enough for now, sweetie. Let's bring her over to the table so we can eat, huh?"

Peter frowned again, looking over at the table and all the people sitting there. "Maybe we should leave her here," he said, hoping she wouldn't decide to hop away.

"She'll stay put," Ash predicted. "She's like Gramma Lucy when she has her dinner, just wants to sit still and pretend she isn't napping."

Peter giggled at that. "But Gramma Lucy isn't a frog," he pointed out helpfully, holding out his hands so that he could wash them in the sink. It was one of the family rules - no one was allowed to eat dinner until they washed their hands, especially if they had been holding Lucy.

Flicking the faucet on, Ash let him get started before wetting her own hands. "I don't know about that," she teased. "Sometimes she sits still for ages, and then suddenly opens her eyes when there's a plate going past so she can snag a cookie. That's kinda froggy."

Peter giggled again at the comparison, imagining his grandmother as a frog. "But she doesn't croak," he pointed out further, as he washed his hands, not bothering to scrub too hard or for too long. Whatever he'd been worried about a few minutes ago seemed forgotten.

"Maybe she just doesn't do it where you can hear her," his mother said impishly, turning off the water and snagging a towel so they could dry their hands. "I bet she could attract a really nice bullfrog if she tried hard enough."

Of Gall And Grangers / Re: Last Days of Summer
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:34:39 PM »

Piper looked at Des from where she was working over the stove. "And did the boys have a nice outing?" she asked in amusement.

"I think we did," Desmond replied, looking over at Dylan for confirmation, though the boy was too busy decorating a cupcake to take much notice. "He made a couple of runs today," he informed her of their son's progress with the game of baseball.

"Oh, that's wonderful!" Piper enthused, looking over at their son with a bright smile. Probably the only person in the room who knew for a fact she had no idea what a run was, was Des himself.

Presumably, she at least knew it was a way of scoring. "You should come to a game sometime," Des remarked, reaching over to snag an as yet unfrosted cupcake. "It's not as confusing as cricket," he pointed out with a smirk.

"I don't find cricket confusing at all," she countered laughingly, rolling her eyes at him. "You're setting a terrible example, you know." Ash and Jamie were expected at any moment, no doubt bringing Cora with them. Dinner tonight promised to be a rowdy affair.

"For who?" he asked, before cramming the cupcake into his mouth with a mischievous grin. Who was going to argue with him when he could pull the Dad card?

She reached out, smacking his hand gently with her fingers. They both knew perfectly well that the table full of children was watching to see if Des got punished for being a bad boy. "For the children," Piper informed him. "And because you've been a bad boy, you can clear the table and set it for dinner."

"Yes, ma'am," Des replied, still grinning. He leaned close to whisper, "It was worth it," before drawing back to plant a kiss on her lips. "Okay, gang! Time to wash up for dinner!" he said, turning to shoo the kids from the table so they could do as he said.

With Piper laughing as she went back to cooking, Lyneth and skipped down from the table as soon as she was shooed, moving to lift Mia down as well.

"C'mon, let's get soggy!" she declared, gesturing for the boys to come with her. "Aunty Ash and Uncle Jamie will be here soon!"

"Don't forget to change your clothes, Dyl!" Desmond called, as the foursome scurried off. "Is it me or are they growing up too fast?" he asked, as he moved to start cleaning up the cupcake mess for dinner.

"Far too fast," Piper agreed, setting the lid on the pan as she turned to him. "But they're enjoying themselves, and that's really all that matters. I would much rather see them grow up with smiles than stagnate and be unhappy, wouldn't you?"

"Yes, of course!" Des agreed, as he gathered cupcake fixings up and wiped the table down. "I just can't believe how times flies." Wasn't it just the other day that they'd met and he'd fallen in love with both Piper and Lyneth? And now, Lyneth was nearly nine, Dylan was old enough to play baseball, and Mia was chattering like she'd been born talking.

"At least Lynnie seems content to take her time growing up now she has a best friend her own age," Piper mused. "I don't think I could have handled another premature aging up just because she was feeling left behind."

"I'm in no hurry for her to be a teenager," he agreed with a chuckle. And in no hurry for her to be dating. As close as Lyneth and Peter were, it was all pretty innocent.

"Oh goodness, I am not looking forward to that," Piper admitted with a low laugh of her own. "I don't expect bad behavior, just a lot of staying out past curfew and needing the talk a little sooner than everyone else their age."

Desmond winced at the mention of "the talk", thankful he wouldn't have to be part of that, at least not until Dylan was older. "Yeah, let's not rush things," he said, as he went about setting the table. "You know, we're gonna need a bigger kitchen!" he said, chuckling as he took out plates and cutlery to set the dining room table.

"We'll cope," she predicted, glancing up as their front door opened and a familiar voice called out to those inside.

"Hello, hello! Is there a Peter in here somewhere?"

"Who's Peter?" Des called back with a chuckle, recognizing Ashlyn's voice. "Come on in! Door's open!" he added, though that much was obvious, since she had already peeked her head inside.

It wasn't Ash who appeared first, but Cora, three years old and toddling at speed toward the nearest adult who could stop her from either crashing into something or falling over.

Piper chuckled at the entrance, her smile warm as Ash and Jamie came into view. "Just in time."

Desmond chuckled as little Cora crashed into his leg, and he stooped down to scoop her up into his arms. "How's about a kiss for your Uncle Desmond, hmm?" he asked her, with a dimpled smile.

"Careful," Jamie warned, taking up the rear. "She's a heartbreaker."

As Cora smooshed a kiss into Desmond's cheek, Ashlyn grinned, thumping down into a chair. "You two look like you've had a day of it," she said, glancing between the other couple in amusement. "Peter wasn't too much of a handful today, was he?"

Piper shook her head. "Not at all," she assured them. "We didn't have any flying or magic incidents at all today."

"It's all Piper," Desmond pointed out, giving credit where credit was due. "Dyl had a ball game. We just got back a little while ago," he said, handing Cora off to Jamie so he could finish setting the table.

"I still do not understand this game baseball," Jamie confessed as he took Cora in his arms.

"You and me both," Piper told him with a smile, moving to gather together all the extra bits and pieces that made up the meal cooking on the stove. "But he enjoys it, that's the main thing. I think we're lucky to have children who prefer being outside to being on a computer or a console."

"Maybe you should ask Peter if he wants to join," Desmond suggested, though that would mean doing something without Lyneth as she had made it clear she had no interest in team sports.

Jamie snorted at the suggestion. "If Lyneth isn't doing it, Peter won't either."

"Even if they did do it together, they'd eventually get split into different teams at some point," Ash pointed out cheerfully. "I can almost hear the inevitable shrieks of injustice now."

"They can't do everything together," Desmond remarked, a slightly worried look on his face. One was a boy, and one was a girl; they were eventually going to be forced to split up for something sometime. He wasn't even sure it was healthy for them to do everything together.

"I don't think you're going to convince them otherwise unless one of them comes up with it themselves," Ash said thoughtfully. "Peter's deeply afraid of being parted from anyone. That's not a fear we can fix in just a few years - it might take a lifetime."

"He doesn't have to lose anyone in order to find his own interests," Desmond pointed out, but he knew better than to push the matter. Maybe in time, Peter would realize that on his own and find some interests of his own, too.

"He'll get there," Ash promised. "Just like Lynnie will. They're just very attached to each other right now. I'm pretty sure all kids get overly attached to their first absolute bestie, don't they? I sure did."

"Was your bestie a boy or a girl?" Desmond asked curiously, as he finished setting the table. He wasn't sure it mattered when they were little, but as they got older, Peter and Lyneth's feelings might change.

"A boy, kid called Ruthien," Ash said, absently getting up to inspect the pot on the stove as Piper warmed the tortillas. "We kind of parted ways when we hit eleven and we were put into different tutor forms in secondary school, but before that, we were totally inseparable."

"You think that might happen to Lynnie and Peter?" Des asked, more concerned about the idea of separating them than he let on.

"Should I be jealous?" Jamie teased his wife. "Where's the troops? Cora's losing her patience," he said, as the little girl practically wriggled her way out of his grip.

"They'll find their way," Ash said confidently, snorting at James' comment. "Yes, honey, you should be terrified that I'm going to look up the chubby boy I used to go fishing with when I was ten."

From elsewhere in the house came the sound of Lyneth and Peter corralling Dylan and Mia, apparently on their way back downstairs from the bathroom.

"Well, I didn't know he was chubby," Jamie pointed out, still smirking. It was no secret the man was vain. He blew out an exasperated breath, crouching down to set Cora on her feet. "And there she goes!" he said, as she wandered off, making a beeline for the other children.

Piper laughed, lifting the pan off the stove to take it over to the dining table, hooking out a pot stand for it. "Dinner!" she called, just as an explosion of sound announced that Cora had found her brother and cousins.

Of Gall And Grangers / Re: Last Days of Summer
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:34:22 PM »

"Course it was a good idea! It was my idea!" Peter reminded her, with just a touch of conceit that was slowly fading with time. He ducked beneath the water as she swam away, moving in pursuit, as nimble as a fish.

He was certainly a stronger swimmer than she was. Lyneth had only learned to swim three years ago, mostly because James had insisted on it upon their return from Neverland with Peter. But she didn't mind not being as good at it as Peter. They both had things they were better at than each other, after all.

To be fair, Peter was just as quick to praise Lyneth when she had a good idea, so they were mostly even. It didn't much matter to him who was the better swimmer; he was just happy to be having fun sharing time with his best friend, swimming and splashing and laughing together.

This was what summer afternoons were supposed to be like - long and lazy and filled with fun. And despite grumbles at needing adults nearby, there was a warm confidence and sense of safety that came from having a mummy and a grampa there to watch over them as they played. It barely seemed as though a few minutes had passed before it was time to get out and dry, to go home so Piper could start cooking dinner. James and Ash would be there soon to have dinner with everyone.

"Lucy!" Peter called, as he padded around the outside of the pool upon bare feet, water dripping down his legs, a towel wrapped around his shoulders. "Where are you?" The last time he'd seen his pet frog, he'd set her in the water to have a swim.

"Don't run, Peter," Piper called to him, a gentle reminder that she hoped would save the boy a painful slip and tumble. She had her hands full drying Mia off at this moment, unfortunately.

Lyneth, however, was following Peter. "What's wrong?"

"I can't find Lucy," he confessed, a look of worried panic in his eyes, his chin trembling with the threat of tears. If this was how he reacted to a lost frog, one could imagine how he might react to losing someone or something far nearer and dearer to his heart. "Can
"We can get help to find her," she promised him, squeezing his hand.

As she looked around, she made a familiar little sound in the back of her throat, and to the children’s' eyes, the garden came alive with little people - some with wings, some with feathers, others with silly hats and ugly faces. They scattered in search of the lost Lucy within seconds.

Peter nodded his head, unable to speak for fear he'd start blubbering, but confident if anyone could help him find the lost Lucy, it was Lyneth and her fairy friends. Even Snow flitted about the yard, lending a hand to help her friend.

With so many willing hands and eyes, it wasn't long before Lucy was discovered, sunning herself in one of the fountains near the patio, making the most of the evening sunshine and the cool water. She croaked in greeting as she was borne back to Peter, imperious in a carefully crafted leaf cup of water all her own.

"Lucy!" Peter exclaimed, exhaling a sigh of relief, all the tension going out of his face as his beloved pet was returned to him. "Thank you!" he told the fairies who had found and returned her to him. He scooped her up onto his palm, waggling a finger at her in scolding. "Don't you ever scare me like that again!" he told her, to which she just croaked and blinked her eyes at him.

"Aminals don't understand words," Lyneth said helpfully. "She prolly just went looking for somewhere not so splashy to sit while we was playin'."

Across the patio, Humphrey murmured something to Piper, who smiled and nodded, apparently making a small promise to do or say something.

"Chewy understands words," Peter pointed out. "He understands sit and stay and come and some other stuff Papa taught him." But what worked for dogs didn't apparently work so well for frogs. "Papa says I should let her go, but if Alex can have a dragon for a pet, why can't I have a frog?" It was a perfectly logical question, as far as a nine-year-old was concerned.

Lyneth shrugged. She didn't see the problem in having a frog either. "Maybe your mummy can make a place for Lucy to live so's you don't have to worry 'bout losing her again?"

Peter seemed to consider this a moment before nodding his head in agreement. "That's a good idea!" he praised her, wondering why he hadn't thought of it already. Of course, Lucy didn't always spend her time in Peter's pocket, but he liked to have her close.

"Aunty Ash is really good with pets that need to be all soggy," Lyneth said solemnly, somehow managing to conflate both fish and amphibians into one category.

"But the 'quarium is in the other room, and Lucy likes to sleep by me," Peter pointed out. Or more accurately, Peter liked to have her nearby when he slept, but she couldn't spend all night in his bed, like Chewy did or she'd get squished.

"Who says you can't have a 'quarium for Lucy all hers?" Lyneth pointed out as they made their way back over to Piper and Mia.

Peter furrowed his brows as he thought about that. "I guess I could. I'd have to ask my parents though," he said, though he doubted they'd deny him that. To be honest, they denied him very little, and it wasn't  much to ask for.

"Worst thing anyone can do if you ask for stuff is say no," Lynnie said cheerfully. "And we're cute, so people don't say no much to us. We're adoribubble!"

"You're right. We are!" Peter agreed cheerfully. He paused a moment to set Lucy on the ground so that he could finish getting dressed. "Stay!" he told the frog, as if she was a dog.

The little frog croaked back at him, adjusting her limbs to be comfortable in the puddle he'd put her down into. Lyneth giggled, pulling her dress back on over her head, confident that she would dry out properly on the walk back to the house.

He tugged his shirt on over his head, his damp hair sticking out every which way, keeping an eye on the frog as much as he could to make sure she didn't try and hop away. Then came his shorts, right over top of his swim shorts. "I wish I had a dragon for a pet," he remarked, off-handedly. Not that he didn't love the pets he had, but having a dragon for a pet was really cool, in his opinion.

"Why'd you want a dragon?" Lyneth asked. "You got Chewy, and he loves you! And also he does not set your bed on fire or make it all wet just because he's sort of made of fire or water."

Peter chewed on his lip as he considered that. "I guess," he said, conceding for now that she had a point. "What's your mom making for dinner?" he asked, his thoughts going in another direction as his tummy grumbled loudly.

"I dunno," was Lyneth's answer as they ambled along. "We're havin' cake, and it's a hot day, so maybe she's goin' to make fajitas with salad. I like that one."

"That the one that's kinda like tacos?" he asked, scooping Lucy back up and settling her in his shirt pocket again for safe keeping.

She nodded. "The one with chicken in the wrap with the peppers and the onion," she explained. "And you have sour cream and salsa and all sorts of stuff on it!"

"I like that one, too!" he said. Of course, like most kids, he favored any kind of food he could eat with his hands - except spaghetti because it was fun twirling the noodles around on his fork.

"Mummy, are we having fajitas tonight?" Lyneth asked, raising her voice to ear-splitting decibels just to make sure she was heard.

Piper laughed from where she was carrying Mia ahead of them. "Yes, sweetheart, we are having fajitas for dinner tonight."

"You were right," Peter said, with a grin for Lyneth. He probably wouldn't have cared what they ate, so long as it tasted good, even if he couldn't pronounce it.

"I am magical," his friend teased him with a giggle, nudging her arm against his as they trudged along the road behind her mother. "We get to decorate the cakes when she's cookin', too."

"And then, we get to eat 'em!" he declared, which was, in his opinion, the best part. "I'm gonna use icing and those little sprinkly things," he told her, planning it in his head.

"We got gummies, too," Lyneth told him. "And Mummy made some petals with sugar stuff, only Mia eats 'em before she puts 'em on anything, which is really funny!"

Peter had nothing intelligent to say to that except for a long drawn out murmur of anticipated appreciation, "Mmmmmmmm."

As they reached the house, Piper had to put her foot down for changing clothes and washing hands before she let them loose on the cakes, trusting the two older children to oversee Mia's flailing attempts to decorate her own cupcake. Des and Dylan would be home soon, so dinner was going to have to take priority.

There were a lot of giggles, as well as messy fingers, which were quickly licked clean. Desmond and Dylan's return home was punctuated by Dylan's exclamation of "Cupcakes!" as he joined his family in the kitchen.

"Did'ja save me one?" he asked, with a worried look at his sister.

"'Course we did!" Lyneth declared, pushing a couple of naked cupcakes in the direction of her brother while Mia sucked on one of the sugar petals with a cheeky grin.

Of Gall And Grangers / Re: Last Days of Summer
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:34:01 PM »

With her back turned to him, he didn't see her grimace as he pinched at his arm, or the way she rubbed at her own forearm in response. "Kind of stings," she said, sounding almost grumpy.

His eyes widened in surprise. Filled with excitement, he let go of his forearm and turned to face her. "You could feel that?" he asked in astonishment.

"You dint think I would?" She looked almost hurt by his apparent assumption, holding out her arm to show him the little red mark that had appeared in the same place where he had pinched himself.

He glanced at her arm before holding out his own to show how they had matching marks. His gaze shifted back to hers, eyes wide. "That means you love me," he whispered in awe.

Lyneth blinked at him in surprise. "'Course I do," she said, as though it was patently absurd he could ever have thought otherwise. "Why, don't you love me too?"

"I think I do," Peter replied. The concept of love was a hard one for him to wrap his head around, but he knew that he liked her a lot and that he couldn't imagine his life without her. "I mean, I care about you, and I like spending time with you, and I miss you when you're not around."

"That's all right, then," was her reply, a satisfied look on her face. "Are we goin' swimmin'? Only if we are, I got to get my swimmin' costume, 'cos Mummy says I'm not 'lowed to go without."

"We could ask Uncle Humpy to watch us in the pool," Peter suggested. He had grown rather fond of the old man, who never seemed to fail in spoiling them.

"Oooh, we could!" Lyneth seemed to light up with excitement at this idea, all but buzzing cheerfully where she sat. "Humpy likes jus' sittin' around and bein' silly."

"We'll haf'ta go get your swimmin' suit first," he echoed her previous statement. "Does your mom have any ice pops?" he asked, his mouth watering at the very thought of them. If it was warm enough for swimming, it was warm enough for ice pops.

"We can ask," Lynnie said firmly, wriggling to the edge of the walkway and letting herself drop. It wasn't something she did when adults were watching - they tended to assume she was going to hurt herself. Adults usually couldn't see the fairies that slowed her fall so she landed safely. "C'mon!"

As for Peter, he didn't need any help, and he didn't need the ladder either. All he needed was a little pixie dust, care of his fairy friend, but a little went a long way and he'd already dusted himself earlier that day. "Come on, Chewy!" he called, the two of them jumping off the ledge and sort of floating downward toward the ground. It had taken the dog a little while to get the hang of flying - or rather floating - but Peter had been training the dog since he'd been a puppy.

Chewy was still just a little ungainly in the air, but he no longer panicked when he didn't land when he expected to. Of course, that might have had something to do with not looking silly in front of Knip, Lyneth's Kneazle, who pretty much flowed down onto the grass beside his diminutive mistress with feline ease.

Thankfully, Chewy couldn't talk or he might call Knip a showoff. Also, thankfully, he'd gotten acquainted with the Kneazle early on and hard learned to tolerate her presence. Lucy was a little harder to keep track of, but today he had her safely tucked away in the pocket of his shirt.

As Peter landed, Lyneth automatically took his hand, skipping across the grass toward her own house, where Piper and Des had taken to storing clothing for Peter as well as their eldest daughter. That way, he always had something clean to wear home if their adventures got exuberant.

Peter half-skipped, half-ran at Lyneth's side, always too eager to move on to the next thing to take his time, Chewy at his heels and Snowdrop flittering nearby.

Skipping in through Lyneth's own back door found Piper baking with three-year-old Amelia's help, since Dylan was out and about with Daddy today. Mia looked up as her sister skipped in with Peter, flour on her face and hands, and a beaming smile lighting up her face.

"I make cakes!" she declared happily, waving her hands at the pair of them.

Peter couldn't help but giggle at the sight of Lyneth's little sister covered in flour. "We're goin' swimmin'. Wanna come?" he asked her, forgetting that Lyneth was supposed to ask permission first.

"Can we go swimmin' please, Mummy?" Lyneth was quick to add, batting her lashes at Piper in the hope of getting a yes.

Piper tilted her head, glancing down at Mia, who was already clapping her hands in anticipation of a swim. She chuckled, shaking her head in amusement. "I suppose we're all going swimming, then," she said, waving her hand to the two older children. "Go and find your suits, you two. I'll prep little miss mess here."

"Are you done bakin' your cakes?" Peter asked curiously, plunking himself into a chair, Chewy at his feet, while Snow made a nest of his hair. No matter how much they tried to tame him, there was always going to be a little wildness about the boy.

"We're just waiting for them to cool down," Piper assured Peter with a smile, lifting Mia down onto her feet so the toddler could go and find her swim suit.

Lyneth paused, torn between getting ready for swimming and staying with Peter and her mum. "We can decorate them later. Maybe all of us could."

"Can I?" Peter asked, eyes sparkling with hope. Lyneth's house had almost become like a second home to him, and though he loved living by the sea, he sometimes wished he lived closer, as the pair was practically inseparable.

"I don't see why not," Piper told him, reaching over to stroke Lyneth's hair out of her eyes. "You're staying for dinner, after all. You should have the chance to help make dessert."

"Yay!" Peter shouted, clapping his hands and floating up from his chair, practically crowing with happiness, though this was no unusual occurrence. He was as likely to be found at Lyneth's house as she was to be found at his, especially in the summer.

Piper laughed, waving her hands at the pair of them. "Go on," she said. "Swimming costumes, towels, bags - I'll call Humphrey and warn him we're coming."

Lyneth grinned, hugging her mother about the waist affectionately in thanks before grabbing Peter's hand to rush off in search of the aforementioned bits and bobs.

Peter grinned, too, but didn't go so far as to hug Lyneth's mother. That would be weird. He liked her a lot though, but not as much as his own mother. He hurried after Lyneth, excited to start their next adventure.

It was testament to how experienced Piper was as a mother these days that they were all walking up to the big house on the Grove within a matter of minutes, everyone wearing their swimming costumes under their clothes so they could get into the pool faster. Mia toddled along happily at Piper's side, excited to be included in her big sister's plans for the afternoon even as Lyneth skipped ahead with Peter.

Peter was chattering with Mia about Cora and how she and Cora and Kai were going to be BFFs someday, just like him and Lyneth. Well, not exactly like him and Lyneth, because Lyneth was a girl and he was a boy, but almost the same. He laughed as Lyneth tugged him away from Mia to skip ahead of them, almost as if she wanted to keep him for herself. He'd completely forgotten about the ice pops, but it didn't matter, as Uncle Humpy was likely to have something just as good and Lyneth's mother had promised them cakes later.

"Do we have to wait for Uncle Humpy?" he asked uncertainly. He wasn't much for patience.

"No, you two can plunge straight in," Piper assured the two older children. "Just remember to take your clothes off first!"

Lyneth let out a happy yell, accelerating to rush around the side of the house toward the pool that awaited them on the other side. Humphrey, it turned out, was already sat at his table on the patio, Cosmo by his side, reading a book in the shade.

"Yay!" Peter echoed that yell, breaking into a run at full speed to keep up with Lyneth, but thankfully staying on his feet. He'd discovered running could be almost as much fun as flying. Chewy greeted Cosmo with a bark, tail wagging, almost as happy to see his dog friend as the children were to go swimming. Peter was just about to yank off his shirt, when he remembered Lucy. "Come on, Lucy. Time to go for a swim," he told the frog, rescuing her from his pocket and setting her gingerly in the water.

Humphrey laughed at the sight of the two small children stripping off their clothes as they ran for the pool, watching in amusement at both the careful placing of the frog and the cannonball of a jump Lyneth performed as she entered the water. One thing they could all be confident of was that, these days, Lyneth knew how to swim.

Once Peter was assured of Lucy's safety, he tore off his own clothes, laughing as Lyneth splashed him with her cannonball. Not to be outdone, he dove straight into and beneath the water, until he surfaced beside her, purposely sputtering water like a fountain. He'd swam with the mermaids in Neverland and was just as confident in the water as on land.

Piper was already grinning as she rounded the corner with Mia, lifting a hand to wave to Humphrey in greeting before she and the youngest carefully climbed down the steps into the shallow end of the pool. Lyneth cackled happily, splashing Peter with a handful of water before she swam away. "This was a good idea!"

Of Gall And Grangers / Last Days of Summer
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:32:37 PM »
Another summer was almost over, and though school was looming, Peter didn't seem to mind so much. He had already grown two inches since his arrival in Rhy'Din, and he had made a lot of new friends; but his best friends in all the world were his dog, Chewy; his frog, Lucy; his fairy, Snowdrop; and his BFF, Lyneth. Today found them hidden away in the Storm's tree house, just the five of them.

Kicking her legs as she sat on the edge of the walkway around the tree house, Lyneth grinned over at Peter cheerfully. "Mummy says we can have a sleepover on spooky night this year," she was saying. "Wanna come?"

Peter was kicking his legs, too, feet bare and toes wiggling freely. He liked the way it felt to go barefoot, the grass tickling his toes, but only in summer. He had found out the hard way that it was too cold for that in winter. "Can I bring Snow with me?" he asked, rarely going anywhere without  being accompanied by his fairy friend. His mother had carefully explained how he couldn't always take Chewy and Lucy with him, but Snow wasn't the type to take no for an answer.

"Course you can!" Lynnie declared, nodding emphatically. "Snow's always welcome, she's your bestest bestie!" She wriggled a finger toward the little fairy who was never far from Peter's side, giggling when Snow stuck her tongue out at her.

Most fairies were jealous little things, after all, and Snow was no exception, but Lyneth was half-fae and so the fairy tolerated her as best she could. "I like her lots, but she's not my bestest bestie. You are!" Peter pointed out, not realizing that might hurt Snow's feelings.

Lyneth's smile softened, growing more mature for a moment as it sometimes did when being a child wasn't enough to get her point across. "I mean she's, like, part of you," she explained, trying to smooth the ruffled feathers while not disagreeing with her friend. "She's nearly your sister, only not, because Cora's your sister, and she's really cute too."

"Oh, yeah, I like Cora a lot," Peter remarked, kicking his feet, even as Snow glowered at him as she hovered in the air nearby. "But she can't run and play like we can. Mama says I shouldn't teach her to fly yet, or she might get lost." Peter swiped a hand at Snow as her tiny gossamer wings flicked his hair. "Stop it, Snow. That tickles!" he chided her good-naturedly.

"Cora's only little still," Lyneth agreed. "Besides, it's nice having friends you don't got to share with your little brother and sister." Thus spake the half-fae with experience. Lyneth adored Dylan and Amelia, but they also annoyed her no end on occasion.

"Like Lucy," Peter pointed out. "Cora always screams when she sees her. I don't know why. She's just a frog!" he said, though that was probably not quite what Lyneth meant when referring to friends.

"Well, when you're little, you're scared of lots of things," Lyneth said placatingly. "She's not scared of Chewy, and Snow likes her, doesn't she?" The look she gave the fairy suggested consequences if Snow had been tormenting Cora when Peter wasn't looking.

"I guess," Peter replied, shrugging his shoulder noncommittally. He wasn't really sure what Snow thought of Cora, but he had made her promise never to hurt his little sister or risk being shunned. "Chewy likes everyone!" he pointed out further. The dog was no longer a puppy, except at heart, and adored Cora just as much as he did Peter.

"You can teach her not to be 'fraid of Lucy," Lyneth told him. "You're clever and kind, and Cora trusts you so so much. And I bet you could teach Kai not to be scared of Chewy." That one might be a bit of a stretch, though, considering that Kai's mother was also terrified of all dogs.

"Maybe," Peter replied, also with a shrug. It wasn't so much that he didn't care or didn't know, so much as he wasn't really that worried about it. He paused a moment, teeth tugging briefly at his bottom lip. "Can I ask you somethin'?"

"Sure!" Lyneth twisted to give him her full attention, drawing one foot up onto the walkway to wrap her arms about it. She tilted her head, turquoise eyes curious and warm as she looked at him. "Whatcha wanna ask?"

Peter's expression turned serious, a worried look in his eyes. "Do you 'member Neverland? I-I think I'm starting to forget," he confessed, a hint of fear in the voice of a boy who had never been afraid of anything.

Lyneth's expression twisted with sympathy. "I 'member everything," she said apologetically. "But that's 'cos I'm not all human. You are all human, and humans forget stuff all the time. It's the way your brains work."

"I don't wanna forget," Peter said worriedly. He hadn't thought too much about the consequences of leaving Neverland or of growing up. It was a different kind of adventure, but he didn't want to forget.

"You could write it down before it goes away," his friend suggested. "Or draw pictures. Lots of people have diaries they write and draw in, like a special place for their memories. Mummy does that."

"So I'll always remember?" Peter asked uncertainly. He knew Lyneth would be able to help. She was always full of good ideas. That was partly why he liked her so much.

She nodded happily. "And you can read it and look at it whenever you want, and you can keep it so that you can show it to your children when you're all growed up," she added.

"My children?" Peter echoed, eyes wide. He had played at being a father, but he didn't think it would ever really happen - at least, not for a very long time. He studied her a moment, as if debating what he was about to say. "You mean, our children," he corrected her, matter-of-factly.

Lyneth beamed, her smile bright with delight. "Yup, that's what I mean," she agreed, not at all embarrassed or repulsed by the idea of spending her whole life with her best friend. They were still children, yes, but it seemed as though this friendship was one that would last through everything.

Peter drew a knee up and turned to face her, one foot still dangling off the walkway. "We should go swimmin'. It's a good day for swimming," he said, completely changing the subject.

"Where'd we go swimmin'?" Lynnie asked, apparently just as content as he was to drop the subject. "There's swimmin' pools, and there's real pools, and there's the sea, but if we go to the sea, we have to tell a growed up."

"We'd have to tell 'em if we go swimmin' in a pool, too," he pointed out. His mother had been very adamant about that. Never go swimming alone and never without someone there to keep watch. He wasn't quite sure what they were supposed to keep watch for, but there had been no arguing with her.

"Wull, yeah, but we don't have to get in a car to use a pool on the Grove," Lyneth countered. "Cars are stuffy and noisy." She was developing opinions about technology as she grew up, which were becoming more and more influenced by her far more naturally inclined Fae side.

"We could fly," he suggested. "But we'd still have to tell someone." His mother had also been adamant about letting someone know where he was at all times. That had happened after he'd flown off to see Lyneth one day without telling her where he was going, and she'd been frantic with worry when she couldn't find him. He thought his mother worried about him too much, but his father had explained it was only because she loved him.

"'Course we'd tell someone," she said firmly. "I don't like making Mummy cry, and she cries when she worries about the people she loves, and I made her cry lots when I was little 'cos I wasn't very good at bein' with her."

"How come?" he asked curiously. He had always liked listening to stories and Lyneth had the best stories, even when they were about herself.

"I told you about the bad daddy, didn't I?" she said, harking back to a story she had already shared once or twice. "When I was very little, I thought that I had to protect my mummy from him, and I was doin' that by not hugging her or being around her so much like I should of. And she thought for ages and ages that I didn't love her the way I loved my Daddy Des, but she never ever said anything, and then one day at school, I got this really sad pain, like, in my heart and I knew it was from my mummy. So I came home and I cuddled with her and ever since then, I always tell her how much I love her and she smiles more and more."

Peter nodded in answer to her question, his attention riveted on her as she told her story. He'd heard most of it before, but he never seemed to tire of it. "How did you get the sad pain in your heart? How did you know she was sad?" he asked, trying to understand.

"I dunno," she said thoughtfully. "It's just somethin' I can do with the people I love. If they need me, I just know it. I knew when Daddy got hurt on Earth, and I knew when Mummy was so sad it made her hurt, and I knew when Tiernan was in danger. I just knew."

"Can you do that with me?" he asked, curiosity piqued. She had never told him she loved him in so many words, but they were besties, after all. "Turn around," he told her, gesturing with the wave of a hand.

Lyneth gave him a suspicious look. "Don't you do somethin' that's dangerous just 'cos you want to prove somethin'," she warned, dropping her leg back to hang over the edge as she shuffled about to look away.

"I won't!" he promised. He wasn't that stupid, after all. "Don't look!" he warned, waiting until she closed her eyes before waving a hand between them to make sure she wasn't looking. He turned his back to her then and considered a minute. He wasn't a coward by any means, but he didn't really like pain either, and he didn't want to hurt her. After a moment's thought, he drew a breath and pinched the skin on his forearm and twisted just hard enough to make it hurt. "Can you feel that?" he asked, brows furrowed in concentration.

Of Gall And Grangers / Easy Come, Easy Go
« on: September 11, 2019, 07:02:52 PM »
((Cross-posting this here from the Elections thread, just because. :) ))

An elf, a halfling, and an orc. Er, half-orc ... whatever that was. Those were the candidates for governor, so far - or so Peter's fairy had told him.

"No, no, no!" Peter insisted, stomping a sneaker-clad foot on the ground to emphasize his point, arms crossed stubbornly across his chest. "I will not run for gov'nor again, so you can't be my sexy-tarry," he told the tiny chirping ball of light that was almost always flickering near his shoulder. "Lynnie and me ran for gov'nor last year, and no one took us seriously. Besides, I'm too busy with school now."

He paused to hear what his companion had to say, frowning a little bit sadly. "Yes, I know I was Prince of Neverland. I know I'm the best candy-date for the job, but Papa says running Rhy'Din is a full-time job, and I don't want a job. Jobs are for grown-ups. Jobs are like work," he explained to his fairy, scowling at the very thought of work. Of course, it never occurred to him that school was work. School was just something kids were expected to do, and it was fun most of the time, except when he had homework because there was that word again.

The fairy kept on chirping, until Peter shooed her away with the wave of a hand, like one might a mosquito.

"Stop calling him Hook! He's Papa now. He's not a pirate. He doesn't even have a hook anymore!" Peter reasoned, as if the hook was the only thing that had ever made his adoptive father a pirate. Never mind the fact that he wouldn't have had a hook at all, if Peter hadn't cut off his hand; but all of that was ancient history as far as Peter was concerned. The memory of it had become foggy, like a dream upon awakening, the tendrils of it slipping away with the light of day. It hardly mattered anymore. 

A smile slowly crept across the boy's face, as the fairy reminded him of something else. "Being gov'nor would have been an awfully big adventure," he agreed with a shrug and a sigh. What was done was done. Easy come, easy go. He wasn't the type to dwell on the past, good or bad. His adoptive mother had said life was too short for that, but he wasn't really sure what that meant. He didn't know when he'd been born, but he knew it had been a long time ago. His mother had told him he had a long life still ahead of him, and he had no reason not to believe her, so he didn't worry about it too much. Growing up would be an awfully big adventure, but he wasn't going to run for governor. Not now, not ever.

Or at least, not until next year.

"Come on, Snow!" he called to his fairy, summoning her back into his good graces. (Tink had sadly died back in Neverland, but Snowdrop was his new fairy, and she was almost as much fun as the old one.) "Let's go look for frogs! I promised Lynnie I'd find one for her."

And with that, the boy who had decided to grow up skipped off into the woods, his fairy companion flickering along at his side, the matter of governor forgotten ... for now.

RhyDin Election / Re: 2019 RhyDin Gubernatorial Election
« on: September 08, 2019, 11:10:41 AM »
An elf, a halfling, and an orc. Er, half-orc ... whatever that was. Those were the candidates for governor, so far - or so Peter's fairy had told him.

"No, no, no!" Peter insisted, stomping a sneaker-clad foot on the ground to emphasize his point, arms crossed stubbornly across his chest. "I will not run for gov'nor again, so you can't be my sexy-tarry," he told the tiny chirping ball of light that was almost always flickering near his shoulder. "Lynnie and me ran for gov'nor last year, and no one took us seriously. Besides, I'm too busy with school now."

He paused to hear what his companion had to say, frowning a little bit sadly. "Yes, I know I was Prince of Neverland. I know I'm the best candy-date for the job, but Papa says running Rhy'Din is a full-time job, and I don't want a job. Jobs are for grown-ups. Jobs are like work," he explained to his fairy, scowling at the very thought of work. Of course, it never occurred to him that school was work. School was just something kids were expected to do, and it was fun most of the time, except when he had homework because there was that word again.

The fairy kept on chirping, until Peter shooed her away with the wave of a hand, like one might a mosquito.

"Stop calling him Hook! He's Papa now. He's not a pirate. He doesn't even have a hook anymore!" Peter reasoned, as if the hook was the only thing that had ever made his adoptive father a pirate. Never mind the fact that he wouldn't have had a hook at all, if Peter hadn't cut off his hand; but all of that was ancient history as far as Peter was concerned. The memory of it had become foggy, like a dream upon awakening, the tendrils of it slipping away with the light of day. It hardly mattered anymore. 

A smile slowly crept across the boy's face, as the fairy reminded him of something else. "Being gov'nor would have been an awfully big adventure," he agreed with a shrug and a sigh. What was done was done. Easy come, easy go. He wasn't the type to dwell on the past, good or bad. His adoptive mother had said life was too short for that, but he wasn't really sure what that meant. He didn't know when he'd been born, but he knew it had been a long time ago. His mother had told him he had a long life still ahead of him, and he had no reason not to believe her, so he didn't worry about it too much. Growing up would be an awfully big adventure, but he wasn't going to run for governor. Not now, not ever.

Or at least, not until next year.

"Come on, Snow!" he called to his fairy, summoning her back into his good graces. (Tink had sadly died back in Neverland, but Snowdrop was his new fairy, and she was almost as much fun as the old one.) "Let's go look for frogs! I promised Lynnie I'd find one for her."

And with that, the boy who had decided to grow up skipped off into the woods, his fairy companion flickering along at his side, the matter of governor forgotten ... for now.

((To be clear, Peter is NOT running for governor. I just couldn't resist posting this. It's just for fun!))

RhyDin Election / Re: OOC Thread
« on: September 25, 2018, 01:16:26 PM »
Hello! Howdy! Greetings and Salutations!

I just wanted to post a quick thank you to everyone who was involved in the election this year, especially to the players of Rhydin Counting House, Ebon, and Colleen, as well as the other candidates running alongside "the kids". Many thanks, also, to my partner-in-crime for indulging me and going along with the crazy idea. ;-)

To those who thought kids running for governor was a silly idea, that was kind of the point, but we had fun with it, so thanks for putting up with us!

And lastly, congratulations to new governor, Pharlen! Looking forward to a fun year. :)

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