*Warning: As usual, rated for uncensored bad language.*
Sunset Valley still looked exactly the same as she remembered.
The waterfall still drummed into the lake beside the house, and the house was the same as in her memories. The trampoline she and her siblings had used as children still stood on the same place, and her mom’s garden with its garden gnomes still looked the same.
The lights in the house were turned on, and they were still as welcoming as always.
Everything were still the same, but she had changed. Tightly contained inside her, she could feel her magic burning, and her stomach turned a bit at the feel of the force that she was no longer accustomed to feeling. There was an incredible wrongness in the air that she only now could identify as the Balance that was out of sync.
This was most definitely not her home anymore.
Would her family listen to her? She knew how crazy it sounded. Different dimensions, magical worlds, supernatural beings…she would sound like someone speaking madness. Would they even be willing to hear her out? After all, she’d disappeared without warning. Turning up like this out of the blue…would they even believe it was her?
They looked just like in her dream. They were all there, sitting in the living room and talking. She couldn’t detect any tension. Did Arienne and Renard make up, after all?
She raised her hand to ring the doorbell, but her hand fell short. She didn’t know how to face them. How could she possibly explain why she'd disappeared so abruptly?
Inside the house, Renard turned ever-so-slightly, and Lyra saw the exact moment he noticed her standing there like a statue.
His eyes widened, and she saw him whisper a word. Impossible. Then he was out if his chair and he jerked open the door, staring at her with disbelief. Against her will, tears welled up in her eyes.
Keeper, she’d missed him.
“Lyra.” His voice was a reverent whisper, like he couldn’t believe she was really standing there, and he collapsed against the doorframe as relief sapped him of his strength. Behind him, the others had all left their chairs and they, too, stared at her with utter disbelief on their faces.
“Renard,” she returned, giving him a feeble smile. As if the word released him from his stupor, Renard finally acted, throwing his arms around her and pulling her into a close embrace.
“Dammit Lyra, where have you been?” he asked her, his voice filled with relief and desperation.
She snorted, suddenly aware again of just how absurd her story was, even though it was the truth.
“I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you,” she admitted quietly before pulling away and smiling apologetically at him. “May I come in?”
The question caused him to huff in amusement, and he gave her a soft smile before standing aside.
“As if you need to ask,” he scolded her lightly. “This is your home as much as it’s ours.”
Not anymore, she thought sadly, but how could she possibly explain that? Instead she merely smiled and entered the house. What followed was a flurry of hugs and emotions as everyone welcomed her back and rejoiced in their reunion.
“So where have you been?” Arienne asked after things had calmed down, and they were all sitting with a cup of coffee around the dining table. “And why did you go off on your own without at least letting us know? We couldn’t even contact you – you left your phone behind.”
She left more than just her phone behind, but that wasn’t the point. Lyra played with her mug, wondering where to begin. How could she even begin to explain the unbelievable account of events that had happened to her?
“I didn’t exactly have a choice,” she finally admitted. “It happened by accident, and by the time we realised…” She trailed off, remembering the events that had followed. That had been the first time she'd met Blaise.
Her family were still waiting for her to continue, so she took a deep breath and tried again.
“I heard Charlotte singing,” she explained, “and when I went to investigate, she had opened a Rift. It pulled us through, and…”
“You jumped worlds,” her mom completed the sentence for her, to Lyra’s utter surprise. “The way Charlotte’s brother had.”
“Yes,” Lyra agreed bluntly. “We jumped worlds. I’ve been living there since then.”
It was clearly too far-fetched for Arienne to believe.
“What are you talking about?” she demanded crossly. “’Jumped worlds’? ‘Rifts’? You’re talking science-fiction, Lyra. If you don’t want to tell us what happened, then don’t, but don’t lie to us.”
“I’m not lying,” Lyra retorted, annoyed. “I know it sounds crazy, believe me, I know, but it is the truth.” She shook her head, ever aware of the task she had come to complete. “But that’s not why I’m here. I came to warn you.”
So she told them everything: about the Balance, the potion, the task the Keeper had given her, and what would happen if they didn’t agree. It was still not enough.
“Listen to yourself!” Arienne exploded once Lyra finished her explanation. “Do you really believe all that crap? You come waltzing in here after five years and expect us to drop everything we have to run off with you to some kind of weird place because something from a fairy-tale is going to kill us if we don’t? Get real.”
Keeper, her sister was stubborn. And yet, she could see Renard wasn’t convinced either.
“It is the truth!” Lyra insisted again, and to her surprise, her mom spoke up.
“I believe you.” At Arienne’s disbelieving exclamation, she elaborated. “The Keeper is real. I’ve met him before. On…that night.” She didn’t elaborate on which night she meant, but she didn’t have to. In this family, there was only one night they ever referred to as that night. “He warned me then, that we’ve been meddling with things beyond our understanding, and that there was a price to be paid. I’m guessing this is that price.”
And wow, Lyra hadn’t known that. Or had she? She had a clear memory of the Keeper standing over her mom, warning her, and yet Lyra couldn't remember that ever happening. She must have witnessed it in a dream. The Keeper must have shown her in a dream.
“Are you serious, Mom?” Arienne asked disbelievingly.
“Dead serious,” Chantia confirmed. “So I am inclined to listen to Lyra, and leave. I don’t believe in coincidences, and for us to receive a warning so soon after Mia’s entire family line has been wiped out in that horrible fire…it might be better to give her the benefit of the doubt.”
It didn’t take much more than that to convince Arienne and Renard. Their mom had had a lot more experience with the unnatural and paranormal through her many years of being a ghost hunter. If she agreed with Lyra on something like that, it meant more than likely it was true.
Ingrid, Renard’s wife, took a lot more convincing than that, but in the end, she agreed. The safety of her daughter was more important to her than anything else, and if her husband believed their child might be in danger in they stayed, then she wasn’t going to argue. She trusted him more than that.
Arienne, Lyra discovered with shock, was no longer married. Despite trying for years, they had simply been unable to make it work. The last straw had been when they discovered Arienne was unable to have children, and not long after that, they filed the official divorce papers.
“It’s all ancient history,” Arienne easily assured Lyra. “It’s been several years, so it doesn’t bother me anymore. But it did help to remind me just how important family is. Renard…I was angry with Renard for so long, I never realised he was hurting as much as I was. But even though I was so horrible to him, he was still there for me when…things went bad. I guess despite everything that happens or have happened, we’ll always be family.”
Knowing they were running out of time, Arienne and Renard went back to their homes to pack the necessities while Lyra helped her mother pack. There were a lot of sentimental items and memorabilia that Chantia was unwilling to leave behind, and remembering how much she herself had missed her things those first couple of years, Lyra helped pack the items without complaint.
There were two items she grabbed for herself, and when she finally held them again, she couldn’t help the tears from welling up. They were safely packed into the chest her mom claimed once belonged to her grandmother.
One hour later, Lyra followed Alison’s instructions and attempted to open the Rift. She half-expected it to fail, but her relief the Rift immediately sprang into existence. Lyra gestured her family through and with one last look at her childhood home with all its precious memories, Lyra stepped through.
Sunset Valley would not see her again.
“Welcome back,” Alison greeted Lyra amicably the moment she stepped out of the Rift. Beside her, Lyra’s family was standing around, staring at their surroundings with wonder. Little Alexa had her face buried in Renard’s shoulder, clearly overwhelmed by everything she’d gone through. “You made good time, child. There’re still several hours before the Moon sets. I trust you’ve explained everything to your family?”
“I have,” Lyra confirmed. “Well, everything that’s important in anyway.”
“Good,” Alison approved. “In that case, please show them to the guestrooms so they can get some rest for whatever’s left of the night. You’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning for Moonlight Falls. I dislike having a child that young on the island.” She turned to leave, but Lyra interrupted her.
“Wait, you don’t need to ‘vet and test’ them?” Lyra asked suspiciously. She had been forced to stay on the island for several years before being allowed to leave. Was it simply because they had a child with them that her family was permitted to leave?
“Of course not,” Alison denied easily. “The Keeper personally granted them access to this world. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go. I’ll see you in the morning.” With that she swiftly turned around and left, leaving Lyra to guide her family through the base.
“What was that about?” Renard asked quietly, trying not to wake Alexa who had finally fallen asleep, but his eyes were worried. Probably because of that remark about Alison not liking having children on the island.
“Howell Island is a bit like…the gateway to the rest of this world,” Lyra tried to explain. “It’s fiercely protected, and it can be a bit dangerous, but you’ll be safe here, and we’re leaving early tomorrow, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
It was funny how much she looked forward to going home again. She’d only been gone for one night, but she found herself missing the routine of putting Reagan to bed and spending the rest of the evening just relaxing with Blaise. Funny how her life had fallen into a routine, and she loved it.
What happened to the girl who had hated routine with all her being? She didn’t know. But she couldn’t deny that she was genuinely happy with the way her life had turned out.
Renard still looked sceptical, but to Lyra’s relief, he didn’t push further, accepting her answer at face value.
The next day they took the ferry, and once again Lyra was forced to complete the tedious journey to Moonlight Falls.
There were a lot more talking than the previous time she did the journey, and by the time they pulled into the town, Lyra once again knew everything that had happened in her family’s lives, and they knew what had happened in hers. To find out that she was living with a man and raising a child with him, even though it wasn’t their child, was the most shocking thing that had been revealed. Her family had clearly not expected that.
Evening had once again fallen by the time they arrived, so Lyra took her family to a hotel and after promising to return in the morning, she returned home.
“What’d the Keeper want?” Blaise asked in lieu of greeting her the moment she entered the house. His bluntness was comfortingly familiar to Lyra, and with a smile she picked up the toddler demanding for her attention, happy to be back home. It had been nice to see and catch up with her family, but this was home. This was where she was at her happiest.
Her family settled quickly and easily into Moonlight Falls. Renard, Arienne and Ingrid all managed to secure jobs easily, and although her mom decided not to return to ghost hunting, her years of experience were invaluable to the scientific community, so she occasionally helped out at the science centre in return for pay. They would never again be as rich as they had been in Sunset Valley, but they would be able to live comfortably. Renard and Ingrid swiftly made friends with their neighbours, and Arienne even started dating again.
They all made sure to stay in contact and visit each other occasionally, but everyone had their own lives, so in general, Lyra’s livelihood hadn’t really changed. The only real difference was that she had her family back, and the precious camera her dad had given her had gained a place of honour on her bedside table, next to her favourite photo of her and her dad.
Winter eventually gave way to spring, and with it came a steady drizzle of rain that swiftly melted the snow. The thick layer of snow that had persisted through the winter had made sparring too difficult and dangerous, so with the arrival of spring came the return of Lyra and Blaise’s sparring sessions. Blaise trained a lot more than Lyra did, clearly restless and chafing at the fact that he couldn’t truly fight anymore, so it wasn’t an unusual sight to see him out in the yard, perfecting his technique as a way to keep active.
Lyra herself picked up jogging as a hobby, enjoying the more physical way of getting out and around in town, but one day she just could not drag herself out of bed for her daily jogging session.
“Keeper, I feel terrible,” she moaned to herself, groaning at the sunlight streaming through the window. Blaise’s side of the bed was empty, so there was no one to hear her complaints. She felt like she was being sapped of all her energy, and her stomach kept churning around with nausea. She wanted nothing more than to stay in bed, but she had a photoshoot scheduled for the day, so there was no way she could stay home. They needed the money.
She felt a bit better after a shower, but half-way through the photoshoot, her stomach started churning again. It made her cranky and irritable, and her work wasn’t quite the same quality she normally turned out. She didn’t even make it home before her body rebelled and she had to empty her stomach of its contents. She felt better afterwards, so she blamed it on something she ate and vowed to double-check the ingredients in the fridge when she returned home.
The next morning, she felt well enough to go jogging again, but she kept feeling tired and halfway through her routine she gave it up. To top things off, the nausea of the previous morning made a return. She could not figure it out. Nothing in the fridge was spoiled, and neither Blaise nor Reagan were sick, so it couldn’t have been something she ate. It could be a stomach bug, but her magic was feeling all wonky, and she…didn’t…
Her thoughts trailed off as she remembered the last time she heard those words. Hadn’t Sionann used those exact words to describe how she knew she was…?
No. Oh no. It couldn’t be. No way. She and Blaise were careful. They never did anything without protection. It couldn’t be possible.
But there was that one time the…
Oh Keeper no.
“Don’t change, don’t change, don’t change, don’t change,” she repeated over and over as she watched the pregnancy test, waiting for it to show a result, but her heart sank right to the bottom of her shoes when that dreaded second line appeared. She took another test to make sure, but the result stayed the same.
She was pregnant. Despite all the promises she made to herself and all the precautions she took, she was pregnant. This could not be happening.
What the hell was she going to do?! She didn’t want to be pregnant. She wasn’t interested in having kids. Sure, they were already raising a kid together, and yes, she adored him to bits, but she did not want to give birth. She was going to become the size of a whale and pee like a horse and waddle like a duck and…
Why the hell did their contraception have to fail at such a crucial moment?!
But he was in the living room with Reagan, being all encouraging and patient and daddy-like and her damn hormones were already cooing over how cute it was. It wasn’t cute. Blaise didn’t do cute. He was strong and gruff and blunt and definitely not cute. But try telling that to her hormones.
“I’m going out,” she informed him irritably before fleeing the house. She did not want to think about children or Blaise being all dad-like at the moment. There would be enough time for that later.
Right now, she needed something strong to drink, and since her preferred beverage was no longer an option, she’d settle for coffee. Strong, rich, bitter as hell coffee.
Half a cup of coffee later, she was a bit more ready to contemplate her condition, and what it would mean for the future. It wasn’t going to be that bad. They were already raising a child together – one more wouldn’t make such a big difference. Never mind the fact that it was going to destroy her body and mean several months of hell, followed by more pain and misery, but there was nothing she could do about it. As much as she didn’t want it to, it had happened, so the best she could do was accept it and move on.
“Lyra? Can we talk?” She looked up, and met her sister’s eyes. Arienne had an absolutely blank expression on her face, but Lyra knew her well enough to read the shock in her eyes. Without a word she waved her sister towards the seat and took another long and deep sip of coffee. Arienne immediately sat down and wrapped her hands around her middle.
“Tell me your life is going better than mine currently is,” Lyra asked her sister, moodily staring at her coffee. “I need good news after the shitty morning I’ve had.”
Arienne pursed her lips, as if she, too, would like good news.
“I wish I could, but,” she exhaled nervously, “I’m having a bit of an issue that I don’t really know how to solve.”
“Welcome to the club,” Lyra muttered into her coffee, but she gestured at Arienne to continue. Arienne took a deep breath and said the last words Lyra had expected to hear.
“I’m pregnant and I don’t know what to do,” Arienne pushed through, “because I’ve been told it’s impossible, but very clearly, something has changed, and I have no idea how to tell the dad. We’ve only been together three months.”
With a gesture at Arienne to wait for her, Lyra stood up without a word and walked over to the counter where she bought both of them big slices of dessert. They were going to need lots and lots of sugar to get through this.
“Eat up,” Lyra ordered her sister and placed the plate down in front of her before returning to her own seat. “Here’s to our lives being absolutely fucked up by babies.” She took a bite of her chocolate brownie and it was the most marvellous thing she had tasted in ages.
“Wait, our lives?” Arienne asked in confusion before her eyes widened as she understood Lyra’s meaning. “You mean…?”
“Yep,” Lyra confirmed with a grin that was more grimace than smile. “We’re in the same boat. Admittedly, I’ve been with the dad for over three years, not three months, but details. Neither of us want to be pregnant right now.”
Arienne burst out laughing, and Lyra replied with an answering grin. The situation definitely wasn’t ideal, but it was a relief to know someone shared her feelings. Granted, she knew Arienne actually wanted to be a mother, just not yet, but it was still a relief being able to vent.
Several hours later, she was finally ready to inform Blaise about his impending status of fatherhood. She found him in the room he had set up as his working space, tinkering away on some of the hardware of the machine he used for the majority of his research. She had no idea what the machine did, only that it had cost them a hell of a lot of money, but that wasn’t why she was there.
“We need to talk,” she informed him, watching him changing the wiring on the machine.
“Then talk,” he ordered her, not looking up from his work. Lyra suppressed the tinge of irritation and tried again.
“Blaise, we need to talk,” she repeated empathetically, “and I’m not going to talk to you while you’re trying to focus on not getting shocked. So put down that damn screwdriver, and look at me.” Something in her tone must’ve gotten through to him, as he sighed irritably and put the screwdriver down before straightening and turning to her.
“What is it?” he asked with a scowl, watching her with bored eyes, clearly waiting for her to finish so he could get back to his work.
His eyebrows arched up. Whatever he had thought she wanted to talk about, it clearly wasn’t that.
“Okay,” he allowed flatly, “that hadn’t been planned.”
“No,” she agreed venomously. “It definitely had not been planned. If it depended on me, it would never have happened. But it did, so now we have to bear the consequences.”
“Right,” he agreed flatly, and she could see his thoughts turning as he tried to figure out what it would mean for their future. Their most immediate concern was money. They were already just getting by with their finances – another child would mean more expenses, and thus more hours worked, but even then, it might not be enough. Blaise got paid only per article of finished research, something that at times look a long time to complete, and Lyra’s job was purely driven by demand. They’d have to cut on their normal expenses.
Blaise tapped his fingers his arm as he calculated the effects and the cuts they would have to make, but his voice was still calm when he spoke again.
“Right,” he repeated. “We’ll make it. It’ll be okay. We’ll have to start growing our food, and delve into our savings, but we’ll be okay. We’ll make it. So, don’t worry about it.” He looked back at her and his eyes softened when he noticed the worry on her face. “Seriously, we’ll be fine. Just, take care of yourself, okay? I don’t want what happened to Sionann to happen to you.”
Her stomach turned at the thought. Pregnancy was already going to be hard enough without worrying about that.
“I will,” she promised earnestly. “I’ll do everything possible to make sure it doesn’t happen. It’ll be okay.”
“It’ll be okay,” he agreed with her, but he still pulled her into a hug, reminded of the fragility of life. His arms were warm and safe, and for the first time, Lyra allowed herself to be a little optimistic over the bundle of cells currently growing in her womb.
It wasn’t ideal, but they would be okay. They were going to have a child, and that scared the shit out of her, but they would be okay.
A/N: So, Renard and Arienne are finally also in the town, along with all my legacy photos and items (and graves, but I’m still trying to figure out how to fit that into the story) :D. And Lyra. *facepalm* She got pregnant literally the first time she used Risky. I have my Risky chance set a bit higher (30%), but normally it still takes a couple of tries before my sims get pregnant. But I guess Lyra lives to disappoint. XD Anyway, final child for this generation is on the way!
If anybody is wondering who Arienne’s mystery baby daddy is, it’s Cyrus Sixkiller, from Sunny’s legacy. :) I gave him a different hair and eye colour, but his features are still the same. Arienne also has some pretty strong features, so I’m quite interested to see how their child is going to turn out. :D