Monday, December 3, 2012

Gathering Clues

Hi everyone, this is Clare. After our discovery that our old nemesis group may be responsible for poisoning Summer, we spent quite a bit of time debating what we ought to do. In the end, we decided that for the moment, it was probably best to do nothing.

All we really had were suspicions and one piece of circumstantial evidence. There were clues pointing away from the suspects too, though. For instance, as Inna pointed out, there was no obvious motive; in fact, the Elders would seem to be acting against their own best interests if they had done it. Then there's the fact that Summer was poisoned at school - i.e. during the day. It was cloudy and snowy that day, so it may have been safe for vampires to go outside without burning to a crisp, but we aren't certain it would have been. 

Also, the Elders themselves aren't exactly... um... the most normal-looking group of people. They tend to go for the more Dracula-style vampire dress, and they're so old and out of touch that they couldn't really fake modern fashion even if they don't physically look their age. When they were active, they would generally send more conventional-looking lackeys to do their dirty work when humans might see, and used a network of spies to keep an eye on the outside world. Now that they've lost their power, though, the Elders have also lost most of their workforce. Caped and fanged figures lurking around like giant bats would probably attract attention at the local middle school... but no one noticed anything suspicious.

So all this to say, even we weren't sure. Accusing fellow members of the vampire council of a crime like this would really destabilize things. It could be the end of the council if people started taking sides. It could even lead to an all-out vampire war. 

That doesn't mean that we're going to let someone get away with hurting Summer, of course... but it does mean that when we make a case, it has to be so solid that no reasonable council member would be able to accuse us of treachery or using the council for our own gain.

There was a council meeting scheduled for Saturday. Summer is recovering at home (she was released from the hospital on Friday) but we decided that under the circumstances, it would be best if the vampire members of the family went to the meeting anyway. Maybe there would be clues. Maybe the Elders would be acting suspicious, or would somehow let slip another clue if they'd done it. We also didn't want to tip our own hand that we might have figured something out by staying away.

The Elders were not acting suspicious. Or at least, they weren't acting differently from their baseline weird behaviour. There are three of them left, and as usual one was friendly and pleasant to us, one was sullen and petulant, and the other was looking silently murderous. In other words, exactly how they've been for the past almost-year. If they knew something was up, they weren't giving any sign at all. These are... not vampires known for their subtlety, to put it mildly. They were big bullies back in their day, but they've never been great actors. I started to seriously share Inna's doubts.

My doubts only increased when I noticed that a handful of other members of the council were acting... the only way I can describe it is to say they were acting expectant. Whenever there was a break in council business, someone would glance over at us to see if we had something to say next. That's actually pretty typical, because we organized the council so we're kind of treated as leaders sometimes... except that they were trying to hide it for some reason. They were trying not to let us notice they were waiting for us to do something.

I scribbled a note on a scrap of paper, and slipped it to Marie-Grace. She nodded slightly, and passed it to Cécile, who then passed it to Tabitha. I didn't want to let too much slip, in case someone else got hold of it, so the note just said "framed?"

In other words, I was starting to suspect that someone else did the poisoning, and wanted us to think the Elders were responsible. I wasn't sure which of the councilors just knew about it, and which had actually been responsible, but I was starting to think none of the remaining three Elders had anything to do with it at all.

Suddenly, the motive made a lot more sense. The culprit was trying to destabilize the council by getting us to accuse our known enemies, so it would look like the result of a grudge. Proof of the Elders' non-involvement would be "discovered" and offered, and then the council members would be forced to take sides.

We weren't falling for it. We just sat silently, watching. Finally, one of the ones who had been waiting for us to talk asked directly if we had any business to put before the council. He definitely looked surprised for a split second - then he managed to hide it - when Marie-Grace smiled cheerfully and said no.

Between now and the next council meeting, we need to figure out who did this, and make sure we can prove it. Whoever did this seems willing to be patient and let things play out, but he or she probably won't wait forever if nothing comes of it. We don't want to give the person the opportunity to try again.


P.S. No news about Marigold, unfortunately. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

There Conclusions Were

Giles: Yes, let's not jump to any conclusions.

Buffy: I didn't jump. I took a tiny step, and there conclusions were.

-Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Phases"

So, when last we spoke, we'd just found out that Summer had been poisoned, and then Marigold had left for reasons unknown.

Summer is doing a lot better now. Doctor M says she can probably go home Thursday or Friday unless she takes an unexpected turn for the worse.

Marigold is still gone. It's late now, and was snowing. We're worried about her. And frankly, we don't know what to think. We don't think she had anything to do with the poisoning - she loves Summer and wouldn't hurt her - but we're afraid she'll think we blame her for it. Maybe that's why she ran. It's dangerous out there, though, and we miss her.

When Doctor M had relayed the news about Summer and then left to continue her rounds, we all took a moment to absorb it. Then Gia quietly spoke up. "I don't mean to leap to conclusions," she said.

We all looked over at her. Although we weren't planning to leap, we were interested to see what conclusions she might think could potentially be leaped to.

"The doctor said it was Nerium poisoning," Gia went on hesitantly. "What people usually refer to as oleander."

"I don't think that grows in Upstate New York," Felicity said.

Gia nodded that Felicity was right. "It requires a warmer climate. I learned about it as a child; in my home country we used the flowers at funerals, and in the past it was sometimes used to poison rats. But my childhood memories aren't what I meant about leaping to conclusions. What I meant was... it was the favourite poison used by The Elders, when they needed to get rid of someone in a way that didn't scream that they were vampires."

We exchanged another look, this time of the concerned and uncomfortable variety.

The Elders were our enemies for months, and they seriously made us worry for our lives. Eventually we had to confront them, and we won with the help of an army of fairy folk. Only three Elders are left, and they agreed to make peace with us under terms we set. They weren't too happy about it, and we assume still aren't. (Gia's on our side now, but she knows stuff about them because she used to work for them.)

"There's one thing I don't understand," Inna finally said. "I wouldn't put it past them from a moral standpoint. If it was really them, though, what do they hope to gain by it? I don't see a logical motive."

"To kill Summer," Molly replied immediately.

"Alright," Inna said doubtfully. "But how does killing Summer actually benefit them? She's only one person in an exceptionally strong family. There are only three Elders left. Killing Summer wouldn't even the odds significantly, and attacking any of us would break their truce with us. They'd trigger another battle that they're in no position to win. Why would they do that?"

Why indeed? The Elders have an understandable grudge against all of us, but as far as I know they had nothing against Summer in particular. Why would they risk reigniting a conflict that they agreed to end because they knew they would inevitably lose? The remaining Elders joined our vampire council, so we know pretty well what they're doing and how strong they are - their current position isn't noticeably better than when we defeated them. So how does this make sense?

It's too early for accusations. We need to think this through more, and try to get more information. In the meantime, we're taking turns staying with Summer and going out to look for Marigold.

Marigold, if you're reading this, we don't think you did it. Please come home! It is your home now, if you want it to be, no matter what secrets you're hiding.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

And then came the really bizarre part(s)...

Hi, this is Bree again. Summer is still in the hospital, but she's doing a lot better. The doctors figured out what was wrong, but that's not where the story of today really started, so I'm going to begin at the beginning.

As I mentioned yesterday, Summer had to stay overnight in the hospital while the doctors ran tests. Early this morning, her adoption records and birth certificate were delivered, so we could start tracking down her genetic family's medical history. When Maia opened the packet, the first thing on top was Summer's birth certificate.

That was when the first weird thing of the day happened... although it would seem minor compared to what came later. Evelyn said she was hungry, and Marigold offered to take her to the cafeteria to get a snack. Now, the weird part was not that Ev needed to eat - her school normally has a morning snack time, so that's part of her routine - or that Marigold did something helpful. What was weird was that Marigold didn't seem at all interested in the documents and volunteered to go somewhere else without seeing them first.

I mean, yeah, it was Summer's birth certificate, not her own - but they're twins, so most of the information would be the same. Marigold could find out a lot about her birth and her biological family just from asking to see the papers that came today, and the adults would have let her. If it had been me, I would have been dying of curiosity. Marigold didn't even seem to want a look at the records. I guess everyone is different, though, and I figured maybe she just wasn't ready to find out those things yet, so I let it go without saying anything.

Tabitha glanced over Maia's shoulder, and said, "This has been changed."

Maia frowned. "It's supposed to be the original," she said doubtfully, but followed where Tabitha was pointing. It was only one line, carefully covered with a tiny section of the same kind of paper and typed over, barely noticeable. It blended in so well that I think it took Tabitha's vampire eyesight to spot it.

"That's strange," Maia said. "Why would they alter that part?"

Where the birth certificate had been changed wasn't Summer's name, or the names of her parents, or where and when she'd been born. It was where the type of birth was recorded, the part that said it was twins. Maia carefully scraped off the extra with her fingernail, and underneath, it said "single live birth" - not twins.

"Strange," Maia said again. "I wonder if they made a mistake and had to correct it?"

That didn't explain why they wouldn't just print out a new one when they first caught the error, though, instead of changing it. (When Blakeney's cousin was born, the birth certificate had accidentally reversed the mother's name and the baby's name; a replacement was issued with the correct names. That seems more standard than trying to fix it by gluing on more paper.) It also didn't explain why the unedited version of Summer's birth certificate said she didn't have a twin. It seemed like a weird mistake to make. 

Marigold came back with Ev then, and we all looked a little guilty, like we'd been doing something wrong. In a strange way, it felt like we were spying on Marigold, even if that didn't make sense.

Before we had a chance to say anything - whether it would have been a true explanation or an excuse, I'm still not sure - the doctor came back.

"I see you got those records I asked for," Doctor M said. "It turns out we aren't going to need them, though. What Summer is suffering from isn't hereditary. We got back the screens for some of the more unusual toxins, and it turns out she's suffering from poisoning."

Doctor M went on to explain that this didn't necessarily mean someone had poisoned Summer deliberately; it might have been an accident. She told us that Summer would recover and be fine as long as there wasn't a repeat exposure. We were all relieved - except Summer herself, because she'd slept through the whole thing. The doctor went on about what Summer had been poisoned with and the treatments they were doing... but I admit I was only half paying attention, because I noticed something else at that moment.

At some point during the conversation, Marigold had slipped away. She was gone.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bad, Scary Day

Hi, this is Bree. Something scary happened today. I was at school, in my second class of the day - English, and I'd already read the book, so I was kind of daydreaming - when the school secretary knocked on the door and said the principal needed to talk to me. Everyone started laughing about Bree being in trouble, but then the secretary said it was a family emergency; the other kids got quiet, and I was suddenly really terrified. My legs felt like lead as I walked to the principal's office.

The principal told me that Summer had collapsed at school. The ambulance took her to the hospital. When the paramedics got there, she was still unconscious. They didn't know what was wrong - they still don't - and they were worried because she didn't wake up right away. Marigold was with Summer when she collapsed, and was upset, to put it mildly. She was beside herself.

I'm posting this from the hospital. Summer is awake now, but she's still pretty groggy. She has to stay overnight while they run some tests, because the doctors still don't know what's wrong. Earlier in the afternoon, she started getting short of breath and her heartbeat was irregular. She's better now, but they need to figure out what this is before they let her go home.

The doctor asked us about family medical history, but because Summer is adopted, we didn't know very many of the answers. We don't know what diseases run in her genetic family. The doctor said that if possible, we needed to find out.

Summer was born in a province where adopted people can get their adoption records and original birth certificates when they turn eighteen. (Believe it or not, in some places those records are sealed forever, and adopted people can never know their genetic history, so Summer is lucky about that.) Because of the situation, we applied for a medical exception to get that paperwork right away. Even though she's only twelve, this information might save her life. The exception was granted, and we're waiting for the information to get couriered here. Hopefully it'll help.

It also may shed light on the Marigold situation. At the moment, though, we're mostly worried about Summer.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

What Hasn't Happened

Hi, this is Summer. Sorry it’s been so long since we’ve written. We had some problems with our internet, and then things got really busy for our family, especially Blakeney. Life has been going pretty well for us in the meantime. We’ve settled into our new school, and we’re making new friends. It didn’t take long before we were back into our activities, either.

Here’s what hasn’t happened, though. Marigold hasn’t gone home. In a way, that’s a good thing. No… I shouldn’t even say “in a way.” It’s been wonderful having her here and getting to know her. She gets along really well with all of us, and she fits right in. It seems like she belongs here. Sometimes it’s hard to remember she’s a guest.

And that’s the weird part. We thought she was just coming for a visit, but she’s been here for three months. No explanation, no estimated time of departure, and apparently her parents aren’t concerned.

When she first got here, she didn’t bother about calling home. Finally, the adults insisted she had to give them a phone number so they could talk to her parents; we’re all happy to have her here, but Inna pointed out that we could get in major trouble if we kept her here and her parents didn’t know where she was. Marigold procrastinated as long as she could get away with it, but finally she gave Blakeney a number.

Every time one of the adults tried calling, the phone on the other end would just ring and ring. No one ever picked up, and it never went to voicemail. For a few days, they thought they were just calling at inconvenient times, but as more time went by and there was never an answer, the adults started to get worried again. Marigold just shrugged and said that clearly her folks weren’t stressed about the situation. But obviously, Blakeney, Inna, Maia, and Gia weren’t convinced.

School started. We knew Marigold was supposed to be homeschooled this year, and she said her parents would be fine with her just going to school with me. The grownups just exchanged a look. Homeschooling is one thing – several of the kids in our family are homeschooled – but generally the parents would want to have some input in terms of what their kid was learning. Homeschooling is very different from the kid just going to some random school, know what I mean?

Finally, the adults decided that they just weren’t going to get anything out of Marigold, and they were going to have to get some answers themselves. It was awkward going behind her back, but how else were we ever going to figure out what’s going on?

While the rest of the girls in our family were in school, Blakeney, Inna, Kirsten, and Bree – they had the day off – drove up to Ontario. They figured that if they couldn’t get Marigold’s parents on the phone, they would have to go to the address and talk to them in person. When they got to Toronto, they had no problem finding where Marigold had told us she lived… but there was no house there.

It wasn’t like that time we went to visit Cécile and Marie-Grace, and found the house they’d been living in had just been burned down. This was a vacant lot. There had been nothing standing there for a long time. There were just a few foundation stones overgrown with waist-high weeds. There was no way Marigold and her parents had been living in a house here as of August.

Bree wondered if maybe they were homeless, and they’d been living in the lot but Marigold was too embarrassed to say anything about that part. There was no sign of anyone camping there, either, but we figured maybe they’d already moved on. We asked around, but everyone in the neighbourhood told us that no one had been staying in the vacant lot for years, homeless or otherwise. So that didn’t turn out to be it, either.

After that trip to Ontario, we’re even more confused than we were before. We’re not quite sure what to do. If this were a normal situation, we would have called the police a long time ago and let them sort it out… but as you recall, we aren’t normal. Marigold is one of the fairy folk. She still hasn’t admitted that, but we can tell. Involving the human police isn’t likely to help.

We’re not sure if we should confront Marigold – she’ll probably just make more excuses if we tell her what we found. I’m not sure how to find out more if she won’t tell us. I hate having to be suspicious of my own twin. The truth is, though, I don’t really know her all that well, even though we’re biological sisters.

We’re happy to have her here. As long as she wants to stay, she can. We’re worried about her, though. We need to figure out what’s going on.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Questioning the Sister

Hi, this is Summer again. I know you've been waiting for an update on the strange situation with my twin sister showing up out of nowhere after disappearing for awhile. And I know I should really have been asking her questions. I know you guys want to know... and I realize that we need to know.

To be honest, though, I've been putting off asking those questions, like where she went, or how she got here, or how she knew where to find us, or why she isn't contacting her parents. I was scared to ask. I was afraid she'd disappear again, like she did the last time I questioned her. I'd rather know nothing than lose her. So I didn't ask.

The adults weren't quite so relaxed about it, though. They gave her a night to settle in before pushing the issue, but then Blakeney said Marigold had to call her parents and let them know she was alright, because if they thought we'd kidnapped her than we'd be in big trouble. Marigold said okay, but then Blakeney said that one of the adults needed to talk to them too, and then Marigold didn't seem quite so happy about the whole thing. She put it off for several hours, and then when she finally called, it just rang and rang and no one picked up. We've tried calling them many more times since then, but no one ever answers.

Obviously we're starting to get both worried and a little suspicious about what's going on.

Inna took Marigold aside and asked her if anything bad was happening at home. If someone was hurting Marigold or mistreating her, she needed to say something, and we would make sure she was safe and got help. Inna promised not to do anything that would put Marigold in danger, and not to say anything to anyone who might harm her... but Marigold just smiled and said again that nothing was wrong.

Marigold has been cheerful most of the time, and we're having fun. She and Kaya have been comparing modern dance moves, and they tried to teach the rest of us - hilarity ensued. Marigold has even been hitting it off with Kiwi, which is good, because I was afraid Kiwi would be jealous again. Instead, they're out turning cartwheels together in the yard.

We're not sure what to do, though. We're happy to have Marigold stay here as long as wants. She can even move in, according to the adults - but it's hard when everything is so secret. I hope that soon she can open up.

There's something else weird, too. Bree, Inna, Fiona, and Senara all get the sense that Marigold has some kind of fairy ancestry. But... she's my twin! How is that possible when I don't? Very weird...


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On Our Doorstep

Hi everyone, this is Summer. Sorry it's been so long since we've posted. We planned to keep writing while we were in the process of moving, but it just didn't work out as we'd expected. Our plans to go to North Carolina fell through, so things changed at the last minute and we're living in Western NY. Our whole family is still living together, fortunately. No one was left behind, including pets. Inna and Maia have settled into new jobs - Maia is teaching again, and Inna is working at an art museum - and us girls are getting ready to start school soon. Blakeney is still job hunting but feeling optimistic.

We'd been procrastinating posting because we had so much else to do, but something big happened that I wanted to tell you about.

This afternoon, we heard a knock at the front door, and I went to answer it. I almost passed out when I saw Marigold standing on the doorstep.

As you may recall, Marigold suddenly dropped out of contact, and we had no way to reach her. First we thought maybe it was just a miscommunication, and then we were really worried... and then we just kind of accepted that we would probably never know. But then she showed up out of nowhere!

"Hi!" she said cheerfully, like nothing was amiss. Like she hadn't disappeared for over a month and left us worried sick. 

I tried to act cool about it, but I couldn't manage it. I'd been afraid that either I'd lost contact with my twin biological sister forever, or that something terrible had happened to her. I gave her a huge hug because I was so relieved.

"How did you get here?" I babbled, looking around for a taxi and not seeing one. "Can I help you carry your luggage inside?"

"I don't have any luggage," Marigold said. "I'm so excited to see you!"

I was surprised. She'd come all this way with just the clothes on her back? She wasn't even carrying a purse.  I guess the trip was just really spur of the moment.

"I'm happy to see you, too!" I said sincerely. "Do you need to call your parents and let them know you got here safely?"

She shook her head. "I'll call them later," she said rather vaguely. 

I guess it was a little weird, but I was so happy and relieved that I didn't care.

Then a little while later, I remembered I'd never given her our new address, because I haven't talked to her since all our plans changed.

Not that I mind, but... how did she get here? 


P.S. Here are some pictures of Marigold I took when she arrived, and a couple with me. We don't look very much like twins, huh? But we're fraternal, and Inna says she sees a resemblance in our faces. Maybe other people will see that too?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Hello, everyone. This is Josefina. I haven't written a blog entry in awhile - you guys may have forgotten about me. ;-)

We wanted to let you know that next month, we're going to be moving. We're going to be leaving Newfoundland and heading to the southern United States. In some ways this was a really tough decision for our family, but we think it's going to be for the best.

We still plan to blog in our new home! However, there may be a delay in getting any posts done when we're busy with moving our household and getting everything set up on the other end.

In the meantime, we'll still be around. We just wanted to give you some advance warning, so we aren't springing this on our friends. :-)


Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Disappearing Twin

Hi, this is Summer again. You're going to be sick of hearing from me, but there are new developments in my twin saga. Well, actually... the new development is sort of a lack of a development. I should back up, though.

A couple of days ago, Marigold told me she wanted to come visit. She was pretty vague about some things, though... like when she was coming, or how she was getting here, or what her parents had to say about the whole thing. We hadn't really resolved anything when she said she had to go, but I figured I'd just talk to her about it the next time we chatted.

There hasn't been a next time. I haven't heard anything from Marigold since that conversation. She hasn't been online or answered e-mails. I've tried phoning her, but it always goes to voicemail. I'm starting to get really worried!

I'm not sure what I can do about it, though. She lives really far away. I don't know her street address, or her parents' first names. All I know is her surname and that she lives in Toronto - but it's a pretty common name, and there are dozens of families in the phone listings. I don't want to bug her, but I don't know if she's alright or not, and I don't know how to find out.

In other news, Inna has been hearing rumours that the group of fair folk (fairies) we rescued Senara from - we found out that they call themselves the Stonecrown Court, after our rocky landscape  - are really upset at us, and are planning to do something to get back at us. This... isn't really a big surprise. We actually kind of figured. Maybe we should be more scared, but this was kind of just the expected result.

This isn't the first time we've had powerful supernatural creatures after us. I'm honestly more worried about Marigold.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Visit News

Hi everyone! This is Summer. Ever since I found out that I have a twin sister, I've been e-mailing Marigold and talking to her on the phone. Today, we were chatting online and she suddenly asked me, "Would it be okay if I come to visit?"

I was a little bit surprised, because we'd already talked about meeting and it was something we both really wanted to do. It seemed odd that she was asking me again. "Of course," I replied. "Like I said."

She typed back, "No, I mean, can I come visit right away?"

This startled me, but I replied, "Yeah, I'd like that."

"Great, I'll see you soon!" she told me.

Then there was a pause. Um... I was excited to see her. But I need a bit more information than that!

"Are you coming with your parents?" I typed.

"Nope, just me," Marigold replied immediately.

That seemed... unusual. We're only twelve! I know kids our age fly alone all the time, but not usually halfway across the country to stay with people they've never met! Yeah, she's my twin, but her parents have never even talked to our guardians.

"Your parents are going to let you?" I asked doubtfully.

"Sure, they don't mind," Marigold replied, again really fast.

I don't mean to judge, but that seems kind of irresponsible of them. Marigold hasn't ever told me much detail about the parents who adopted her, but what little she did say seemed positive. Would they really not care?

"I think Inna and Maia will want to talk to them," I told her, trying to be diplomatic.

"Okay," Marigold typed. "I'll have them phone."

Maybe it's just me, but that doesn't seem like she was exactly rushing to get everyone talking. I didn't see any point pushing it, though, so I just asked, "When do you think you'll be coming?"

"I don't know. Soon. Oops, got to go! Love you, Summer!"

I barely had time to type back "I love you too" before she went offline.

Now, please don't get me wrong - I'm really, really excited to meet Marigold. Something about this visit seems really weird, though. I hope everything is going to be okay. I hope she really comes... but that nothing bad is going on, too!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Being a Better Sister

Hi, this is Summer again. I read Kiwi's post about the green-eyed monster. (It is green-eyed, not green-haired, Kiwi. Tabitha is right.) At first, I felt offended. How could she say those things about me?

But then... I thought about it more. I realized she was kind of right. Okay, maybe a lot right.

I never intentionally ignored Kiwi. The fact is, though, I did abruptly start spending a lot less time with her. I stopped wanting to go anywhere with her, because I was afraid I would get an e-mail from Marigold while I was gone if I left the house for too long. I stopped focusing as much on her when she was talking, because I was too busy thinking about my own stuff.

Is it understandable that I did that? Yes, I think it is. Tabitha is right - this is all new to me, and it's a big deal. When we have something that is a new big deal, it's pretty normal to obsess a little.

Something being normal and understandable doesn't make it the right thing to do, though. It wasn't right to ignore Kiwi, even if I'm excited about Marigold. It's not fair to make my whole life about one sister, and act like the other sisters don't matter. Even if I never felt that way in my heart (which I never did) it was still wrong to make Kiwi feel that I didn't care.

This afternoon, I found Kiwi in the living room doing a jigsaw puzzle all alone. I could tell that she was trying to act mad at me, but I think that for real she was just sad.

"Let's go to the park, Kiwi," I suggested.

Kiwi looked at me sceptically. "What if Marigold e-mails you while we're gone?" she asked.

I took a deep breath, smiled a genuine smile, and said, "It can wait till we get back."

I did apologize to Kiwi at the park, and she accepted it very graciously. By that point, the tension was already gone, though. The ice broke when I said I wanted to spend time with her. When she saw that I still cared.

I'm still really excited to get to know Marigold. I learned a really important lesson, though. You shouldn't take for granted the sisters you already have, because they're worth a whole lot!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Green-Haired Monster

You were probably expecting another post from Summer, right? Well, this isn't Summer. It's Kiwi. But the post is still about Summer's twin. You know, Marigold.

I'm really happy for Summer. Really. But I'm feeling a little bit jealous, too. Okay, a lot jealous.

You see, I've always been Summer's special sister. Of course, Summer loves all her sisters equally, and so do I. It's not about loving more. Summer and I have been through a lot together, though. We lived in the foster home together before we met anyone else from the family. We promised that we'd always be together. We both turn into cats - most people don't turn into cats - so we shared that too. 

We've always had a special bond.

I'm afraid we aren't going to have a special bond anymore, though, because Summer has a new special sister. Having a twin is way better than having me, isn't it?

I haven't been in a very good mood about this. I've been trying to act excited for Summer, but it hurts that I'm not special sister number one anymore. When I was getting ready to go to gymnastics this afternoon, I saw Summer reading that letter again. I passed her, and she didn't even notice me. That made me even madder. So I went into the kitchen, slammed down my gymnastics bag, and announced to whoever was listening - which happened to be Tabitha - that, "Fruits are way better than flowers! At least you can eat fruit! Flowers just sit there!"

Tabitha stared at me like she didn't know what I was talking about. She probably didn't. You might have needed to be inside my brain to know I was saying that kiwis are better than marigolds. 

"What's going on?" Tabitha asked.

I sighed, and said, "I have the green-haired monster!"

Tabitha blinked. "The what?"

"You know, jealousy!" I told her.

Tabitha laughed. "That's called the green-eyed monster, not the green-haired one. And why are you jealous?"

"Because I'm not Summer's special sister anymore. She has Marigold and she doesn't need me anymore. She probably doesn't even like me! She probably barely remembers me!" I was getting worked up, but I didn't care.

Tabitha shook her head, and said, "Summer would never forget you, Kiwi. She loves you. And you'll always be her first special sister, even if Marigold is her special sister too. Summer is just excited because the whole thing with Marigold is so new. She'll get used to having Marigold in her life, and she'll start spending more time with you again."

I hope so. But the green-haired monster... or green-eyed, or whatever... is telling me that I'm not as good as Marigold.


Saturday, June 30, 2012


Hi, this is Summer again. :-)

My twin is named Marigold.

I was eager to read her letter, but the first thing I did was look at the signature. I wanted to know her name. I felt like once I knew it, I would feel more of a connection to her. Her name is Marigold, and her handwriting is a lot like mine.

Evidence also suggests that our biological parents were hippies. I mean, Summer and Marigold? They must have liked nature names. So comparing what they named the two of us, I feel like I know them a little better, too.

The letter was pretty basic. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it seemed like maybe she was cautious because she wasn't sure how I'd react.

She wrote:

Dear Summer,

This is your twin sister, Marigold. I bet it's pretty surprising to you to hear that you had a twin all of a sudden. I hope you aren't too upset about it, because I'd like to get to know you.

I guess I should tell you a little bit about myself. We're fraternal twins, so I don't look exactly like you. I still live in Toronto. I like school, and my favourite subjects are English and Science, especially Botany. I also like gardening as a hobby, and I love to raise flowers. I also like to write and read, and I take dance classes.

I hope that someday we can meet. I'd like to get to know my twin sister. Hope to talk to you soon!


She also gave me her address and her e-mail. I'm so excited to talk to her! She said twice that she has "hope" that we can get to know each other, and I definitely hope for that too. I sent her an e-mail right away, telling her about myself.

There's one thing I'm not sure of, though. How do I tell her I'm a shapeshifter? She probably is too, right? I mean, she's my twin, even if we're fraternal. But... what if she isn't? What if she thinks I'm either crazy or lying? I don't want to wreck this reunion before it even starts...


Friday, June 29, 2012

Two letters, and life changes

Hi, this is Summer. (I guess you could tell that from the picture anyway, huh?) Well, I got huge news today. I'm still really shocked, and I'm not sure how to process it.

Last year, on my birthday, I decided that I wanted to find out about my biological family. Maia wrote to the Toronto Children's Aid Society, which is the group that placed me for foster care and adoption, to see if we could get any information about them. I did get some, which is better than knowing nothing at all, but I was a little bit bummed that I have to wait till I turn eighteen to get my full identifying details.

I had pretty much just accepted that I won't be able to make much progress on my search until I'm an adult. So I was really surprised when another letter came from the Children's Aid Society in the mail today. I didn't think I'd be hearing from them again for a few years. I wondered if there had been some mistake, or if they'd found something else non-identifying that they could give me right away.

In my haste to open the envelope, I ripped it too hard and all the contents ended up on the floor. The first sheet I picked up was written by hand, and the writing looked like someone about my age rather than an adult. That seemed even weirder. Why would I be getting a letter from another kid through the agency that had placed me for adoption?

Once my initial moment of confusion had passed, I realized there was a printed covering letter in the envelope too, so I decided to read that first because it seemed like it was probably supposed to explain the handwritten letter. I flipped it over... and got the shock of my life.

The covering letter started with an apology. It turns out that I hadn't been placed for adoption by the Children's Aid Society itself - which I had just assumed - but by another group doing contract work for them at the time. That group had made a pretty serious mistake. I had to read the next line a few times before I could comprehend it.

I was not an only child in my biological family.

I have a twin.

This was totally shocking to me. I had no idea.

I figured that I might have biological brothers or sisters out there, because my first parents weren't all that old and they likely had more children after they lost custody of me, whether they stayed together or ended up with other partners. I was prepared to find out someday that I had siblings or half-siblings.

I wasn't prepared to find out that I already had a sister that I shared the womb with. In movies, it seems like twins have this magical connection to each other, but I never felt that. I never felt anyone who was that close was out there and missing from my life. I was totally blindsided by the news.

Twins aren't supposed to be separated for adoption. Even at the time, that was very much against policy. We should have been placed together. The letter went on to say that they're still investigating how it happened, whether it was a clerical error or whether my twin was already living somewhere else when I was removed from the home... and I'm sure that with time, I'll start to care about that. For right now, I can't even begin to deal with how it happened. I'm just trying to process that this is going on at all.

The other letter, the one that was handwritten, is from my twin sister. You don't have to be eighteen to know your biological siblings like you do to find out about your biological parents. I  haven't read my twin's letter yet. I want to, and I will soon.

I'm just trying to deal with the fact this is even happening. It's totally unbelievable! I wonder if she's very much like me...


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ulterior Motives

Hi everybody. This is Clare, and my post is... I guess it's news, but it's old news. We didn't tell you at the time all the reasons we had for going to Europe. It's not that we wanted to hold out on you. It's just that - well, the blog is a public space. By now, people who want to mess with us have probably figured out that we have it. Announcing our intentions would be like beckoning someone to sabotage them.

So here's the scoop. We didn't just go to Hungary, Croatia, and Italy to play tourist. (Although we did play tourist, and it was awesome.) We also went there to meet with some vampires, to talk to them about joining the council we're trying to form. Getting into vampires politics wasn't really our plan, but after we fought The Elders, we didn't have much choice, because the power vacuum we created had to be filled. Our idea was that, instead of trying to have one leader or group of leaders, we form a vampire parliament instead. Thus, the council, which will be made up of representatives from all the vampire groups who choose to participate.

We got some takers on our Europe trip. (Our biggest surprise? The three remaining Elders were in. I didn't see that coming.) Obviously, not every vampire in the world is going to agree. So far, we have only a handful. But the people we did find seem pretty committed, which is even better than huge numbers.

The vampires who wanted to join the council signed an agreement. They had to promise:

1.) Not to attack humans to feed on their blood.

2.) Not to kill people... including other vampires... except in self-defence.

3.) Not to harass werewolves or other supernatural creatures.

4.) To respect other vampires' territorial boundaries, except when they violate the first three rules.

5.) To resolve differences by the vote of the council, rather than by force, to the extent it is in your own power to do so.

Some of the vampires we talked to found this pretty difficult to accept, although it seemed pretty basic to us. Eventually, they all agreed, though, and I think they understood the reasons for it - even if they only said yes in the end out of self-interest.

We currently have nineteen signatures, including the vampires in our family, meaning Cécile, Marie-Grace, Tabitha, and me. We're going to need a lot more if we're going to change anything about how the vampire world operates. It's a start, though.

Eventually, we're going to have to figure out an enforcement mechanism besides the honour system. At the moment, I think we all have sufficient agreement, but that may not hold forever. Again, this is a start.

So that was the "ulterior motive" of our trip. We just thought you should know. :-)


P.S. If you are a vampire and want to join the council, just let us know!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

On Midsummer's Night

"You have no chance.
No chance at all.
Why throw your lives away?"
"The Final Battle," Les Mis musical

Hi, this is Bree. Good news - we're not dead! We all made it through our fight against the evil superpowered werewolf named John Carrow. Senara is still with us, and wasn't sacrificed to feed the beast's appetite as the fair folk had intended for her.

I just wanted to get that out of the way, for those of you who have been concerned about us. We're still alive, so no worries about us. Now, I'll tell you how it all happened.


By the day of the Summer Solstice - the day the fair folk were going to feed Senara to Carrow to keep him from attacking their people for the next seven years, until his next scheduled feeding of an innocent kid - we had the vague outlines of a plan. We knew we had till nightfall, so during the day, we went to the site where the "sacrifice" was supposed to take place, hoping to work out the details of what we were going to do.

What we found was not encouraging. It was basically just a wide open field.

"This is not the ideal place to face an indestructible monster," I said aloud, an understatement. We'd try to hold our line, but all he'd have to do is get behind us once, and... things would become unpleasant. We knew that Carrow wasn't all that bright, at least not in his hungry state. It was pretty much going to be a feeding frenzy. But I didn't think even a crazed hungry werewolf wouldn't consider the advantages that open terrain would give him. We also had no real ideas for how to trap him there.

We didn't give up, though. Giving up is not our strong point. Instead, we walked around the area. About a quarter of a mile away, we found a cave.

"This would be perfect," I said rather wistfully.

Molly made a face. "Yeah," she said. "Assuming your diplomatic skills are good enough to talk Carrow into fighting us over here instead..."

Obviously, my diplomatic skills are not actually up to that challenge. In fact, my diplomatic skills are fairly nonexistent. What Molly said gave me an idea, though. After a moment's thought, I had what I realized might be a fairly workable plan. This made me nervous, because I don't consider myself much of a strategist. A plan created by Bree may, by definition, be doomed to failure. But somehow, some part of me was feeling a little flicker of confidence.

"Felicity, do you think you could use your calming powers on a whole crowd of people at once?" I asked abruptly.

"Um... possibly...?" was Felicity's hesitant reply.

I grimaced. "I was hoping for something more along the lines of 'Absolutely, Bree!' But I guess that will have to do."

Kaya spoke up, and said, "I think I can help her. I can use my power to read the emotions of each of the people in the group in turn. If I notice she's losing anyone, I can point them out so she can focus on them."

"Great!" I replied. I could hear myself sounding a little cheerful. "Senara, have you ever met Carrow?"

She shook her head. Senara had been looking pale all that day, and she'd been pretty quiet.

I beamed at that, which was, in retrospect, probably rather inappropriate. "Excellent! Then he won't know your scent. He'll just be sniffing generically for one of the fair folk. I need to go make a phone call now."

Kirsten said in a rather superior voice, "I don't think this is the time to conform to teenage stereotypes, Bree."

I stuck my tongue out at her. "It's not a social call. I need to call my drama teacher."

The girls all looked confused, since school is out and drama club is over for the summer. "Why do you need to talk to her?" Josefina asked curiously.

"I need something from the costume storage," I said, my brain buzzing with plans. "I need to borrow a blonde wig."


When night had fallen, we trailed in a solemn line - almost a procession - to the field we'd surveyed earlier. A dejected blonde figure in a white robe walked between the Greens and Roses, and she stared down at the ground, her posture showing her despair like a beacon. The field was full of the fair folk, who were similarly robed, but in green, black, grey, and dark blue rather than white. There was another figure, too. Carrow. He wasn't easy to see in the low light, but he was hulking and furry. And huge. Very huge. It was hard to tell if he was a werewolf or a small hill, except for the glistening teeth.

Inna stopped, and spoke to them in a sad but confident voice. "We are here to surrender Senara to you. We cannot hope to fight you, John Carrow, and we are not prepared to throw our family's lives away in a futile losing battle to save one teenage girl. There is nothing more we can do. You can have the girl, if you spare the rest of us."

Hearing this, Senara took off at a run, not willing to be werewolf food even if we were willing to give her up. Except... it wasn't actually Senara. Because that was the plan. It was a trick all along. It was me. Senara was safe at home, with Blakeney, Gia, Maia, Summer, Kiwi, and Ev to protect her. I was the one wearing the white robe. And thanks to my drama teacher, I was wearing a blonde wig.

Remember what my super power is? I can run really, really, really fast. Because I'm a descendant of the fair folk too, I was banking on Carrow not being able to tell Senara and me apart. I was right. I took off in the direction of the cave, and Carrow followed me, thinking his sacrifice had gotten scared and had run away.

Felicity, Kaya, and Molly stayed back to deal with the fair folk. We weren't quite sure what the other fairies were going to do. It was unclear what side they would take. Molly hastily started putting up a barrier of ice to slow them down just in case, while Felicity pacified them with Kaya's help.

Kirsten and Josefina were waiting at the cave. Once I had Carrow in position at the mouth of it, I ducked out of the way. Kirsten started using her power to shatter the stones above the mouth of the cave, creating a rockslide and rapidly filling the opening with debris. Carrow hesitated a moment, unsure which direction to go. Josefina helped him decide by blocking his way out with a wall of fire, so his only option to avoid the falling rocks was to go deeper into the cave. Kirsten hastily finished walling him in.

Carrow won't be trapped forever. He doesn't need to be, though. He's weakening rapidly, and as long as he doesn't consume fae blood in the meantime, he'll turn into a normal werewolf. The fair folk are happy to be rid of him and not to have to sacrifice their own to him anymore, so they aren't going to help him. In fact, they offered their enchantments to help keep him in, which we dubiously had to accept.

Obviously, Senara going home after this is out of the question. She doesn't want to live with people who were going to let her die a brutal death at the hands of a werewolf to save their own skins. Senara is going to stay with us, and we're going to adopt her. So that's happy news for everyone.

I wish I could end this on that completely upbeat note. But... this isn't totally a win. Remember Senara's sister, Sakura? The fair folk still have her. Inna was supposed to get her away while the rest of us were busy with Carrow and the audience, but the fairy crowd didn't bring her with them. Sakura is still a prisoner, although they probably won't hurt her. She's more useful as a hostage than she would be as a corpse, even though the fae aren't thrilled with Senara for surviving.

We'll find her, though. We aren't giving up. Not on Senara... and not on Sakura, either.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Down to the Wire

Hi, this is Bree again. In all our news of our trip, we may have made our readers forget that Senara is in danger from an evil super-werewolf named John Carrow, and that we don't have much time to decide what to do. In fact, our deadline is tomorrow night. That's when the "sacrifice" of Senara to the werewolf is supposed to happen. As much as we still have that happy post-trip relaxed summer vacation feeling, and as excited as we are about Maia and Gia's news, we haven't forgotten that.

Unfortunately, we're still not quite sure what we're going to do. We have to find some way of preventing Carrow from killing Senara, and then trapping him until his power fades. There has to be some way of containing him. We just... haven't quite thought of one yet.

Everyone is pretty on edge about that.

Yesterday, Blakeney wanted to post on AGPT about how we wear the Real Me tunic top, so one of us needed to model it. Senara volunteered, so I took a picture of her wearing it. Then I snapped a closeup of her face, because we didn't really have any pictures of her yet.

When Kirsten saw the photos on the camera, she yelled at me. She said I was being morbid, and accused me of giving up and thinking Senara was going to die. Kirsten thought the photos were supposed to be like an obituary. Something to remember her by.

That's not it at all, though. I still truly believe, no matter what the odds, that we're going to save her. I wanted to post her pictures because I think she's going to be around for a long time, and our friends should have the chance to get to know her.

So this is what Senara looks like. Not because she's going to die, but because she's going to live.


Monday, June 18, 2012

An Agglomeration of News

Hi everyone, this is Summer! We're back from our trip. We had a wonderful time visiting Hungary, Croatia, and Italy. Our first stop was Budapest, then we took the train to Zagreb. From Zagreb we rode on a bus to Rijeka, then drove a rental car to Otok Krk (which means Krk Island.) We spent a few days at the beach on the Adriatic, then took another bus from Rijeka to Trieste, Italy, via Slovenia, then a train from Trieste to Venice. It was an amazing two weeks!

We plan to do a post that's just about our trip, including lots of photos, but Blakeney took loads and loads of pictures and we haven't had time to get them all uploaded, sorted by place, and captioned if necessary. When we do, we'll be happy to share it.

For now, though, we have some major news to share. I'm going to tell the small news first, though, to keep you in suspense about the big news for a minute or two more. ;-)

The small news is, I decided to enter the Little Miss Playthings contest! When it was first suggested to me, I thought it was some kind of beauty contest, and I didn't think that was my thing at all. It turns out, though, that it's actually a photo contest, with different challenges each week. It actually sounds pretty artistic and creative, and I think it'll be fun! I'm the contestant, but all my sisters are helping me.

Please go to Bean's site, here, to vote on the rounds. You don't have to vote for me, mind you. There are a lot of amazing photographers who have entered, and it's not a big deal to me if I win or not. I'm just looking forward to the challenge of it. A contest isn't any fun without voters, though, so please don't forget to choose your favourite photo each week for the next few weeks to come!

So yeah, that's the small news.

Here's the big piece...

While we were in Italy, Maia proposed to Gia, and Gia said yes. So we're going to have a wedding! We're all super excited and happy for them. They're a great couple, and I think they'll have many, many joyous years together. We're all eager to help them celebrate!

We missed you guys, but we had an amazing trip. Still, it's always nice to be home again.


P.S. I did my first photo shoot for LMPT today. I want my actual entry to be a surprise, but here are a couple of extra shots that aren't going to be entered into the contest. The other person in the photos is, of course, my sister Kiwi.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Travel Time!

Hi everyone, this is Bree. We're getting ready for our trip now - leaving tomorrow morning. Unlike usual, our flight is actually at a reasonable time. The majority of flights seem to leave Newfoundland in the very very early morning hours (like, before the sun comes up,) but this time we actually don't take off till 8:48 a.m., which is a lot more pleasant than leaving for the airport in the middle of the night. We're flying into Rochester, staying with Blakeney's mother for a day, then flying to Venice with her to meet Blakeney's dad, who has already gone there as part of his job responsibilities. 

During our trip we're going to be visiting Italy, Hungary, and Croatia.

We're really excited! We still have stuff to do before we go, though - last minute emergency shopping, finishing up laundry and packing, and cleaning the house so it'll be in decent shape when we get back. Since we have a lot we still need to accomplish, we wanted to go ahead and say goodbye to our blog friends now.

See you when we get back! :-)


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Victoria Day, or Something Completely Different

Hello, everyone. This is Cécile, and this blog entry will be rather a change of pace from the serious entries we've been writing lately. This weekend was the Victoria Day holiday here in Canada, which also coincided with the Newfoundland Steampunk Society's one year anniversary since founding. To celebrate, the Steampunk Society had a picnic in Victoria Park. 

Blakeney has been working on a steampunk costume for us girls, and she wanted one of us to come with her to model it. I was most excited about going, so the other girls graciously allowed me to be the one to attend the picnic and wear the outfit! I had a wonderful time. 

We thought our blog friends might be interested in seeing some pictures of our outing and what I wore. The costume is very much a work in progress - the goggles on my head are particularly makeshift - but you should be able to get a decent idea of how the finished product will look.

Blakeney's friend Brent took the pictures with his fancy new camera, but he gave us permission to post and share them.



P.S. I also made a new friend! I posed for some pictures with her, and when she sends them to Blakeney, I will post those too.

Friday, May 18, 2012

But of course, it couldn't be that easy, right?

Hi everyone. This is Bree again. You guys are going to be sick of me writing so many of the posts lately. Since I'm the person Senara has decided to open up to the most (to the extent she's opening up to anyone) though, I've been the one who has a lot of news lately. So here goes. ;-)

Ever since I came up with a couple of ideas to try to help with Senara's frightening situation, I've been feeling pretty good about how things are going to go. As you know, being complacent is a very, very bad thing. Several of our friends who commented reminded us of that, and while we knew it was true, it was hard to see how it could go drastically wrong.

Of course, I knew it couldn't be that easy. I just didn't see exactly where things were going to fall through.

The thing is, I should have been able to, because Senara already told me an important detail I never considered. The whole 'being fed to a werewolf' thing kind of overshadowed the one offhand comment... which turned out to be something very, very crucial.

I'm getting ahead of myself at this point, though. Back to the beginning. Well, not the very beginning - it's not like I'm going to start telling you about my birth or anything - but the beginning of the current major complication. ;-)

We knew that in order to get Senara freed to leave the city, we needed to tell the fair folk about our trip. They aren't the easiest people to contact. It's fairly easy for them to get in touch with us; they either leave something in our mailbox (which various vampire groups tend to do also) or build a fairy ring out of stones somewhere we're likely to see it. Contacting them back isn't all that easy, because we can't just drop a note in the mail, and they don't live in a fixed location but move around, so we can't just drop by.

I wondered if the fairy circle thing would work in reverse, so I went to the nearest local park and tried to build one. There's this small stand of trees - not really the woods, but close enough to provide a little concealment. I found a small clearing, and built a ring of stones. (Fortunately, finding rocks in Newfoundland is not at all difficult. Newfoundland pretty much is one giant rock with some soil clinging to it.) My ring wasn't as symmetrical or tidy as theirs are, but to be fair, I've had less practice. I thought I did alright. Once I'd built it, I sat down to wait, leaning against a tree. After about an hour, I got bored and took out my book to read. It was a couple of hours after that when they finally showed up. I looked up from my book and saw a little group of them there, including our usual fairy rep. I didn't hear them coming, and normally I have pretty good ears.

"Yes, Bree?" the woman asked politely. There was no rudeness in her tone, and although I thought I got a sense she was impatient, I couldn't have pointed to anything in her voice or body language that specifically conveyed that. She certainly wasn't acting threatening. I filed away in my brain that we'd found a way to get in touch with them.

Then, briefly, I explained our trip, and asked that Senara be allowed to come along. Their reaction was not what I had anticipated.

I didn't expect them to say no, mind you. I didn't see how they could. Their ruse was that they had sent Senara here to learn about human culture - so how could they argue against us taking her to experience the culture of Italy, Hungary, and Croatia as well as Canada? They would have to either say yes or drop their charade, and dropping the charade would be a major step I would be surprised if they were willing to take.

I did expect them to be reluctant, though. I expected them to be flustered or taken off guard. I expected them to try to come up with excuses, but ultimately have to give in to my superior logic.

When they gave each other a brief look and then the spokesfairy responded enthusiastically, though, my heart sank - because I knew something was very wrong. I had dramatically miscalculated somehow. I just still couldn't see where or what.

The spokesfairy smiled, in a way that didn't quite reach her eyes. "What a lovely idea, Bree!" she replied cheerfully. Too cheerfully. Like she was calling my bluff... or like what I had done didn't matter. "Of course Senara has our permission. I hope she has a wonderful trip."

"Wow... well... um... thanks," I stammered.

The woman's eyes narrowed, and for an instant she didn't look cheery. She looked predatory. Then the smile returned, and she added, "Tell Senara to be a good girl while she's away. Tell her to make us proud. Senara knows the consequences if she breaks the rules and causes trouble."

Oh. Yeah. I hadn't thought to ask Senara about that. It hadn't occurred to me that the fair folk had to have some kind of backup plan to make their sacrifice stay put. I wondered what.

It wasn't like they were going to tell me, of course, so I just said I'd tell Senara their message, and then thanked them again for letting her come on our trip. I wasn't really feeling all that grateful to them for anything at that point, but I didn't want to be impolite - impoliteness is a huge issue for most of the fair folk, and I didn't want to start a big conflict with them over something so minor.

The fair folk sort of melted back in the scenery as they usually do when it's time for them to go, and I took a moment to scatter the rocks so they wouldn't look so intentional. Then, with my mind still racing from this new development, I set off on the short walk home.

I didn't see much point in procrastinating, so as soon as I was back at the house, I told Senara what had happened.

For the first time, I saw Senara angry. Even when she was talking about her own impending death, she only sounded sad. A couple of times, she got annoyed with me for asking too many questions. She's never been like this with me, though. Really, truly upset.

"I didn't ask for your help, Bree!" she shouted.

"I'm sorry," I said sincerely. "I should have asked you before I talked to them."

"I don't mean that! You're missing the point. I never asked for your help in the first place! I never asked you to save me! And I don't want you to."

This took me aback. I mean, yeah, technically it's true. Senara never has asked us to protect her. She never asked for our help. But I thought it was just... you know, assumed. She obviously doesn't want to die. So I thought wanting our help was just sort of implied.

Apparently not. Yeah, I was admittedly being somewhat presumptuous, just jumping in to try to save the day. It was still hard for me to understand why she would reject our help outright, though. It didn't make a lot of sense.

Then I remembered:

"If I find some way to escape again, someone else will die in my place. Someone I care very much about protecting."

That's what Senara told me when we first talked about the plan the fair folk had for her. Like I said above, at the time it didn't really register. I mean, I was listening, but I saw it as more of a 'cross that bridge when we come to it' issue. I thought we could save Senara, and then worry about protecting her family and friends from retribution. Suddenly I realized that I had completely misunderstood. Senara wasn't just worried about retaliation in the abstract.

The fairy court must already have a hostage.

"Who did they take from you?" I asked.

"My older sister," Senara replied.

I thought she was going to just leave it at that, but I guess she was feeling unusually chatty, because for once Senara kept talking.

"She was supposed to be safe from this," Senara said, sounding like she was talking to herself. "She was being raised by our father among humans. I was kept with my mother in the fairy court. I never knew her very well. Do you understand, Bree?"

"Yes," I replied. And yeah, actually this all sounded very, very familiar.

Some of you probably remember this, but Fiona is my biological sister. We weren't really raised in the same home for any significant period of time, though. When she was a baby and I was little, our parents split up. My mother took Fiona, and my father kept me. Neither of those situations exactly worked out fantastically. Both homes were pretty dysfunctional. At some point while Fiona was a baby, our mother lost custody permanently to the state and my sister was placed in the foster care system. I'm not sure exactly what went wrong; no one ever told me, and Fiona was too young at the time to remember. I'll probably never know, because we're not currently in contact with either of our biological parents. I guess in the end, it doesn't really matter. Fiona and I are sisters who - for whatever reason - were raised pretty much entirely apart.

Would I give my life for Fiona? Would I stay and be a sacrifice, if it meant they'd let her go? Would I have done it before we ever actually had the chance to live together, and I barely knew her?

Yes. Yes, I would. It wouldn't even take a moment's thought. Of course I would do that. I'd do it for any of my sisters, now that my family has grown larger. It's not even a question.

"What's her name?" I asked.

"Sakura," Senara said quietly, as though even speaking the name too loudly would put her sister in more jeopardy.

I reached across the table and squeezed her hand. "We'll save her too," I promised. "She won't have to take your place, and this is never going to happen again. We'll find some way to stop Carrow. No more kids are going to have to die for him."

I didn't tell her that it was a promise. I meant it as one, though. This makes things harder, but harder doesn't mean giving up. It just means digging in for a difficult fight, and sticking it out till we win.