01 2.0 The Light Who Binds2Bluebell Kildare

July 10, 2022, Red Ages

We trot up the zinnia-lined walk and smile a greeting to Maud and Harry who sit on the covered front porch, beverages in hand. Thank goodness the zinnias are back. The marigolds were hideous.

Maud’s hair is a beautiful frosted lilac today, pinned away from her face in sparkly gray barrettes that complement her light green eyes. Her purple and gray color scheme continues to the paisley maxi dress she wears. As I approach, she gathers her skirt and stands.

“Blue! How wonderful of you to stop by. I was hoping to see you soon. Let me introduce you to my neighbor Harry. Harry, this is my dear friend Blue.”

All six foot three of Harry unfolds from the rocking chair as he stands to greet me. He smiles widely and pumps my hand. “Good to finally meet you. I’ve heard plenty about you.”

I grin in return, taking in his multicolored striped shorts and pink polo shirt. He’s as colorful as Maud is.

“The pleasure is mine.”

“Hold on now,” Maud says, “I’ll grab you a beverage.” She slips into the house before I have a chance to protest, so I take a seat while Varg lounges in the cool grass, keeping an eye on the road.

I lean toward Harry and say in a low tone, “She made you replace the marigolds with zinnias?”

Harry chuckles. “Yes, I’m afraid so.”

I sigh, “Yeah, I don’t think she can handle all that monotone for an extended period of time.”

Harry seems to contemplate that seriously. “I hadn’t thought of that, but I suppose you’re right.”

“I recommend to go bright and varied when it comes to colors.”

He smiles in return. “A good tip. I’ll keep it in mind.”

I lean back and relax, satisfied in my Cupid machinations.

Maud comes out holding a cold, orange drink. “It’s shoo-fly punch, and it has a bit of a kick, so be careful.”

I take a taste, and it hits me hard. After sputtering and gasping, I manage to ask, “What’s in here?”

She winks and starts listing the ingredients. “Bitters, mint, orange, lemon, sugar, plus a dash of ginger liquor, ginger beer, and bourbon.”


“Small sips, dear,” she advises wisely. “It’s a beverage to be savored.”

“I see.”

I relax in the wicker rocker and as I’m about to take another sip, Jack’s car pulls up to the house.

I stand, holding onto the banister, and call out as he approaches, “Is there a work issue?”

Jack shakes his head.

I sit back down, relieved but confused.

“Good evening Maud,” he says.

Then he says apologetically. “Harry, I’m sorry to interrupt your evening, but I have something personal to discuss with Maud and Blue. Would you mind excusing us?”

How does he know Harry? Oh, right. Maud and Harry were helping search for me when I was abducted by Blackwater.

Maud seems troubled. Harry declares, “Well, Maud, then I’ll just head home and stop in to say hello in the morning. If you need me, give me a ring.”

She stands and kisses him on the cheek. “Thank you for being so understanding.” She pats his arm. “It’ll be fine.” Then she regally walks into the house before us.

What in the world could Jack have to talk to Maud about? Is he going to tell her about the prophecy? I haven’t yet, but I was going to bring it up tonight.

We settle in the living room, which seems a strangely formal place because I’m used to sitting in the kitchen.

Jack’s eyes soften toward me, his obvious compassion only deepening my concern, and then he directs his attention to Maud. “What is your maiden name?”

A huge wave of sadness flows out of Maud as she answers softly, “It’s Dermot.”

“Is Maud your real name?”

“Of course!” With that statement I feel a small strain of surprise coming from her.

“And you’re related to Maev?”

Her lips lift in a sad smile. “Yes, I am.”

I ask, “Who’s Maev?”

Maud turns and pats my hand. “She’s my sister, deary. You may remember her from the Green Tree Orphanage by the name of Anna Marie.”

I suck in my breath.

Jack asks, “Where’s Maev right now?”

Maud shakes her head. “I haven’t seen her for fifteen years. I haven’t a clue.”

She turns to me. “Maev came to me before she left and asked me to watch out for your welfare. So I started going to the orphanage and reading to the children. I couldn’t think of any other way to stay close to you.”

Confusion and pain clutches my heart. “So all this time, our relationship . . . Has it just been about you doing your sister’s bidding?”

Tears glisten in Maud’s eyes. “No, Blue! Of course not. I came to love you exactly as I would a daughter. Never doubt that.”

The relief that rushes through me is tremendous. I can tell she’s speaking the truth.

“But why didn’t you ever tell me?”

Her tears overflow, and her hands clench into small white fists. “At first you were too young. You might have given me away to the other housemothers. When you became old enough, the original request my sister made didn’t amount to a hill of beans compared to how much I care about you. It didn’t seem important.” A massive rush of fear and sadness surge from her as she speaks.

I grasp her hand. “I believe you, Maud. I wish you’d told me sooner, but I do believe you.”

When I tell her that, her fear fades away. I pull some tissues from the side table so she can mop her eyes. Meanwhile, I glare at Jack for making her cry. Unfortunately, he isn’t done yet.

“Maud, Maev put a spell on Blue, a powerful enchantment that kept her light in check. The other mothers caught her, and that’s why she was cast out. Can you tell me why she did that?”

She turns toward me, genuine concern in her still-teary eyes, “No, I didn’t know anything about that.”

Jack appears a bit skeptical. “What was Maev’s gift?”

“She was Gifted in the use of magic. She was a first-level sorceress.”

A small gasp slips out from between my lips. Very few have the gift of general magic, the heightened ability to do any spell or charm. First level is as high as you can get.

Jack asks softly, “What was such a powerful sorceress doing watching over Blue?”

I must admit that’s a good question.

Maud looks back at Jack with her chin quivering slightly. But her crisp voice carries sharply through the room. “Back at the beginning of the Red Ages, one of Blue’s ancestors gave her baby to one of my ancestors for safekeeping.”

“Mor,” I breathe.

Maud’s surprise is crystal clear on her face. “You know this story?”

“Yes, I was going to tell you about it today. There’s a prophecy . . . ”

Her eyes widen. “You know about that too?”

“Yes, Dragomira told me about it two days ago.” I scrutinize her. “But why didn’t you tell me?”

Maud shakes her head. “Try to understand; it’s been two thousand years, and we didn’t tell any of the children because they would have thought we were nuts.”

With a twinkling laugh, she covers her mouth. “Maybe we are crazy, but we believe the Bright One will emerge from your line, and Maev was sure that it was you because of your light.”

Jack looks as taken aback as I feel.

She continues, “We’re called the Watchers. Maev is, anyway; I’m not really important. In each generation, one of us is strongly Gifted, and that person takes on the task of watching over Shaina’s scion. Maev was the strongest yet. It was unheard of for her to leave you, but she said she had other urgent business she had to attend to back in our homeland.”

“Where is your homeland?” I ask.

Maud’s eyes grow wistful. “We come from the same place your ancestors do, the Isle of Erin. I wish I could visit there someday.”

“Are you Gifted too, like Maev?”

“I have a very small gift, but it seems rather more like a curse. It’s my hair,” she admits sheepishly. As she says this she absently fluffs her hair. “I really do go to the beauty parlor to get it styled, but they don’t color it. Every morning when I wake up, my hair is simply a different color.”

“How come I don’t sense your magic?”

Maud looks at me fondly. “Remember when you were a teenager and you tried to dye your blue streak brown to hide your gift? I knew it wouldn’t work, but I bought you the dye so you could see for yourself. When I was young, I tried the same thing. In the end I decided to pretend I dyed it on purpose and asked my sister to hide my gift. She did, sort of. She performed a spell so others wouldn’t guess it was my mark. I think it was a sort of diversion spell so people wouldn’t be curious about it.”

Jack interjects, “So what are the Watchers supposed to do?”

Maud turns to him. “Why, help the lineage anyway they can. It’s their job to protect the family line while we wait for the Bright One.”

Then she turns to me and squeezes my hand. “Maev nearly flipped when your parents died, and we came so close to losing you. You’re the last of the line, and you’re the first one with the gift of light, so she was sure you were the one.”

I lean forward eagerly. “You knew my parents?”

She rubs my hand. “No, dear. Maev was the Watcher, but even she didn’t really know them. She just kept an eye on them, made sure they were okay, left food by their door when they were struggling, things like that. In the old days, the Watcher could befriend the family, but it’s pretty hard in modern times. It would be weird if your good friend followed you from town to town as you moved to different places throughout your life. So she had to stay on the outskirts of your life, observing from afar. But when your parents died, she joined up with the orphanage right quick.”

Maud turns to Jack. “Did you have any more questions?”

“Yes, what do you think Maev’s been doing all this time when she was supposed to be watching Blue? You haven’t heard from her at all?”

She shakes her head sadly. “You know the wilderness Christendom has been since the Deconstruction Era. We kept in touch for a few years via chimerator, but then I stopped hearing from her. The last I heard she was preparing for the coming of the Bright One. And that was it.”

Jack stands up. “Thank you for being so forthright.”

Maud stands shakily and absently smoothes her dress. “Well, if you two would excuse me, I need to call Harry to put him at ease and get my beauty rest.”

With a tentative and frail hope in her eyes, she asks, “You’ll visit me again soon, won’t you chicky?”

I give her a hug, “Of course I will.”

Then we take our cue to leave.

Jack and I step onto the veranda of her pretty house to see the sun’s gone down. Fireflies flit merrily through the lawn, and the whip-poor-wills have begun their evening song. Jack walks me to my car and catches my arm before I slip inside. He steps in close, his body heat searing compared to the cool evening air.

His face, hidden to me in the dusky light except for the faint edges of his features, frowns deeply. He reaches out a hand and tucks a stray strand of my hair behind my ear. His voice cracks as he says, “I’m so sorry, Blue.”

He must be talking about Maud, but somehow his voice seems far more serious than the situation warrants. “It’s all right, Jack.”

Jack leans into me, and I think he’s going to kiss me. Just as I feel his breath on my lips, he curses and turns away.

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