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Aetherion Rising

By Adelia Chamberlain All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy

Part Five - Another Look Back In Time

May 15, 1976 – Xendaine, Ireland

“Noëlle!”

She looked up from where she was loading her suitcases onto the bus and saw Callan running towards her. Sighing, she glanced in Antoinette's direction for a moment before abandoning her suitcases and walking towards him.

“I thought we already said goodbye,” Noëlle said softly.

“We did,” Callan said, leaning forward and whispering in her ear. “Don't go to Valenciennes for a few days.”

Noëlle gave him a confused look. “Why not?”

“Just trust me on this one,” Callan said, winking at her. “Have a good trip back to Kaladrine.”

And then Callan was turning around and disappearing through the crowd.

“You know he's an idiot, right?”

Noëlle looked to her left to find Callan's younger brother Eamon standing there, arms crossed over his chest and the sunlight making his hair look even more fiery than it normally did. “He's not an idiot.”

“He is too,” Eamon said, stepping forward. “If he really loved you half as much as he claims to, he'd leave Saoirse behind and be with you.”

“Eamon, I don't think you know what you're talking about.”

“Yes, I do. He talks about you to me all the time. Tells me how much he wishes he could be with you. But he won't give her up, Noëlle. He'll never give her up.”

Noëlle just shook her head. “Eamon, how about you run along and go back to doing whatever seventeen-year-olds do, hm?”

“You're going to realize I'm right one of these days,” Eamon said, walking in front of her. “And when you do, I'll be there. I'm good at picking up the pieces of what Callan shatters behind him.”

Noëlle turned around and walked away from Eamon without saying another word. Antoinette was standing by the door to the bus and gave her a confused look as she approached. “What was that all about?”

“Nothing,” Noëlle said, climbing onto the bus. “Just some Movement stuff.”

“Eamon's involved in that?” Antoinette asked as she followed Noëlle onto the bus. “I would have thought he was too young.”

“Too young or not, he's a Murphy. It's the family business.” Noëlle made her way to the back of the bus, where the rest of their fellow students had left a bench seat open for them. “Callan told me not to go back to Valenciennes for a few days, so do you mind if I stay with you?”

“Why did he tell you that?”

“Guess.”

Antoinette and Noëlle settled themselves down on the bench seat and prepared for the long journey back to Kaladrine. Once the bus had started to move and everyone else was locked in conversation, Noëlle let out a big sigh.

“My hometown, Antoinette. Why did they have to pick my hometown?”

“Because Callan's father is an asshole who doesn't care who or what he hurts, so long as he achieves his goal.”

“But what is the goal with attacking Valenciennes?”

“Maybe it's to test your loyalty,” Antoinette said softly. “Maybe Callan's been able to tell that you're wavering. Maybe it's to test all of our loyalties. See which of us are loyal and which aren't. Who knows.”

“I wish there was some way that I could warn my family, but I think the attack will probably happen before I'm able to do so.”

“They're probably doing it right now,” Antoinette agreed. “I hope that your family is safe.”

Noëlle sighed heavily. “Maybe this will convince Mama and Papa once and for all that we should be living in Kaladrine like you.”

“One can only hope.”

II.

May 28, 1976 – Kaladrine, France

Noëlle knocked on the door of the hotel room that she had been instructed to go to, and a few moments later, she heard the door unlock and then it slowly opened. She brushed passed whoever was at the door without looking, sitting down in a chair quickly.

“What is my assignment?” she asked, with no emotion in her voice. She was still numb, and she didn't expect whoever it was that was here to tell her to go kill some sapiens was going to have any sympathy for what she'd just been through.

“Noëlle,” came Eamon's voice, and she looked over at him in surprise.

“Eamon?”

“Hi,” he said, walking over to the chair next to hers and sitting down in it. “Noëlle, I am so, so sorry about your sister.”

Just the mention of Clotilde was enough to make the tears spring to Noëlle's eyes. “This is the price I have to pay, isn't it? The price for wanting him so much. For saying those stupid things that day to make him think that I believed the same as him. For keeping up the act for so long.”

“Noëlle,” Eamon said softly, reaching out to take her hand in his. “My father doesn't take kindly to finding out his members are not as loyal as they should be. But this...this is going too far.”

“They blew up my house, Eamon,” Noëlle said shakily. “They blew up my house with my little sister inside it. Thank God Mama and Papa weren't there at the time or I don't know what I would be doing right now.”

“I know what they did,” Eamon said, stroking her hand comfortingly. “Callan argued with Dad for hours over it, swore up and down that you were completely loyal and he had this totally wrong. That's why he warned you not to go back to Valenciennes that day. The original plan was to blow up the house with you in it.”

Noëlle couldn't stop the tears from streaming down her cheeks. “Why are you here, Eamon?”

“Because Callan couldn't come without it being suspicious with Saoirse, and because I was worried about you,” Eamon said. “Callan isn't the only member of the Murphy family that adores you, you know?”

“Eamon...” Noëlle started, but Eamon cut her off.

“I don't want to be in the Movement,” Eamon said quickly. “I don't want to be part of anything that is so horrible to people. I believe that we can co-exist peacefully with the sapiens. And one of these days, I'm going to figure out how to get away. I don't care if that makes me hunted by my own family for the rest of my life, I want to be free of this. And you can get out too, Noëlle. I promise you, you can get out if you want to.”

“Eamon,” Noëlle said softly. “It's too dangerous.”

“No it's not,” Eamon exclaimed. “It's something that can be done, and I'm bloody well going to do it. And I swear to God, once I am, I'm going to do everything I can to get you out too.”

“No,” Noëlle said, reaching up to wipe the tears out of her eyes. “That's nothing more than a dream, Eamon. Now will you please give me my assignment so I can get back to my life?”

Eamon sighed heavily and stood up, making his way over to a briefcase and opening it. He pulled out a large envelope and walked back over to Noëlle, handing it to her. “It's just some translation work. Callan was furious with Dad and made him promise that he wouldn't give you any hard work for awhile.”

“Okay,” Noëlle said, standing up to find Eamon really close to her. “Eamon, what are you doing?”

“I'm really, truly, sorry about your sister, Noëlle. You may not believe me, and after what my father ordered, I wouldn't blame you if that's the case, but I mean it.”

Noëlle felt her eyes well up with tears again, and Eamon pulled her into a hug. She stood there in his embrace for a few minutes before pulling back. “Thank you, Eamon. I appreciate that.”

“Stay safe, Noëlle. Follow instructions for a little while. Don't give my father another reason to doubt you until you're ready to run.”

“That's not going to happen, Eamon. I signed away my life the day I signed that Movement paperwork, and I've just come to accept that.”

“It really doesn't have to be that way, Noëlle.”

“Yes, it does,” Noëlle said, leaning forward to kiss Eamon on the cheek. “Stay safe, yourself, Eamon. Maybe one day we'll see each other again.”

And with that, she walked out of the hotel room.

III.

July 16, 1979 – Xendaine, Ireland

Noëlle fetched herself another glass of champagne from the bartender and tried to keep herself from scowling. She'd told Callan that she didn't want to be invited to his wedding, but Callan had insisted on inviting all of the French members of the circle they'd formed during the exchange, and it would have been incredibly suspicious if Noëlle hadn't shown up. The last thing in the world she'd wanted to do is watch as the man she loved married Saoirse Nic Gearailt, a woman whom she'd come to despise. But she'd done exactly that a few hours ago in Xendaine Cathedral, and now she was trying to avoid talking to people she knew. The last thing she needed was to accidentally confess Callan's less than perfect love for his new wife to someone.

“You look lost in thought.”

She turned around at the sound of a familiar voice and frowned when she didn't see anyone there. “Where'd you go?”

“Back here,” came the voice again, and an arm outstretched from behind a stone pillar to motion towards her.

Shaking her head, Noëlle set her champagne flute down and walked over to the pillar to find Eamon hiding behind it. “Eamon, what are you doing?”

“Hiding,” Eamon said, dropping his voice to almost a whisper. “Remember how we talked about how I'm bailing? I'm doing it tonight.”

“Eamon,” Noëlle whispered back, suddenly exasperated. “You can't possibly do this today! It's your brother's wedding day!”

“It's the perfect time to do it. No one will notice I'm gone.” Eamon wrapped his arms around Noëlle and pulled her into a hug. “Come with me.”

“I can't,” Noëlle whispered, shaking her head. “I can't leave your brother like that.”

“You two are never going to be what you want to be, Noëlle,” Eamon whispered into her ear. “And you've told me too many times now that you want out of the Movement. Come with me. We can help the other side.”

“I can't,” Noëlle said softly. “You know I can't.”

Eamon released her from his embrace and smiled at her sadly. “Then I guess this is goodbye, Noëlle.”

“For now, at least,” Noëlle said. “We may yet see one another again someday.”

Eamon stared at her for a moment before leaning in and kissing her softly. “Goodbye, Noëlle.”

Noëlle could only stand there and watch as he walked away.

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