Connor reluctantly left his mate’s side. While he didn’t want her to wake alone, he knew she needed rest and figured she’d sleep a while, after everything she’d been through today. When he returned downstairs, the kitchen’s breakfast bar already had two sitting at it, sipping coffee as they talked quietly.
Without saying a word, he looked in the refrigerator for something quick he could whip up for everyone to snack on. There were many questions he had for Elder Brian, and he was definitely hungry, and was certain everyone else was, too. Madelyn would be hungry when she woke, as well. He would definitely be certain to have something made for her when she was ready for it.
He found a can of premade buttermilk biscuits and some leftover sausage gravy so he decided on breakfast. After popping the can open – making Brian jump - he arranged the biscuits on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven to bake, then emptied the gravy into a saucepan and set the burner to the lowest setting, adding a bit of milk to thin the gravy slightly.
Everybody smiled as they watched him. They all knew this was likely going to be a long tale, and the food would be welcome.
“So,” Connor said as he poured himself a cup of coffee and joined the others at the table, leaving the biscuits to bake. “When did you plan on telling her about us,” he said to the Elder he sat beside.
Brian looked into his mug, thoughtful.
“Her parents were adventurers,” the Elder began, not looking up. Connor and Ulric watched him as he spoke of his dear friends. “We met when they came to my office one day when Maddy was still an infant. They wanted to be certain Maddy was looked after if anything happened to them. They walked into my office, holding this beautiful baby girl with golden curls and lovely violet eyes.”
Pausing long enough to take a sip of his coffee, he looked up at the two watching him. “That is when I knew this girl was special. She was the one my dear Ralla spoke of so many years ago, Connor. She was your mate to be.” He paused a moment. “But that’s not all...there is more to this girl.”
“And that is when you befriended them; when they came to your office when she was an infant, isn’t it,” Connor said. It wasn’t a question.
“Yes. I had to be certain of the girl’s safety,” Brian looked at them both seriously. “She was...is...more than just a girl, and more than just your mate, Connor.” Taking a deep breath, he continued, “I have looked into their family history. It’s become sort of an obsession of mine for almost two decades now. The family name, ‘Randell,’ is an old name. It comes from the English ‘Randall,’ which means ‘shield wolf’...and also happens to be the surname of the first European Garou to come to the Americas.” He paused again and looked at Ulric.
“I befriended them because they were the parents of a girl who would become something more, once her potential was unlocked.”
They all sat in silence, watching Brian and waiting for him to continue.
“What more do you know of Madelyn?” Ulric asked.
Brian’s eyes closed as he considered his words. It would not be easy to let on what he knew of this girl. So far, he was the only one who knew even what little facts he’d been able to dig up about this girl. ‘Ok, Brian...no sense in prolonging it,’ he thought to himself as he took a long drink of coffee and opened his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he started from the beginning.
“Madelyn Randell was born December 20, 1989. My calculation leads me to believe she was conceived on or around February 2.” He paused to take a sip of coffee.
“That’s Candlemas...or Imbolc, as the Pagans call it,” Connor said.
“Aye, Connor,” Brian replied. “It is a time of initiations, a time of new growth, new life, fertility. I believe Madelyn’s conception was planned, though not necessarily by her father.” He looked at everyone a moment before continuing. “I began searching through some of Richard and Marie Randell’s paperwork not long after they came to me that first time. Maddy was just a baby. They left most of their important documents with me. Birth certificates, marriage certificate, and a few other papers. One of these papers was a vital clue to Madelyn’s ancestry and it was what began my search into Maddy’s history.”
“Please excuse me a moment,” Connor said, as he left his seat and fetched a hot pad. Pulling the sheet from the oven, he slid them into a basket he’d lined with a soft terrycloth towel, then grabbed plates and the saucepan of gravy. Taking it all to the table, he returned to the kitchen for knives and forks, and a ladle for the gravy.
They all served themselves as Brian continued.
“Richard and Marie Randell were married December 25, 1989,” Brian said, causing Connor to choke on the bite he’d just put into his mouth. Ulric lowered his fork and looked at Brian.
“Are you certain of this, Brian?” Ulric asked the Elder.
“Aye, Ulric,” Brian replied. “I’m very certain.”
“That would mean Madelyn was conceived out of wedlock,” Connor said.
“Yes, if you’re speaking of Richard and Marie’s marriage, but not if you’re speaking of Richard and Madelyn’s mother’s marriage,” Brian said as the others stared at him in shock.
“But Marie was Madelyn’s mother, Brian,” Ulric said. Connor just sat there in silence.
“Her adopted mother, Ulric,” Brian replied. He explained to them that Madelyn had been adopted by Marie on the same date of her wedding to Richard. Madelyn was one week old at the time, and grew up never knowing that Marie hadn’t given birth to her. Even so, Marie raised her as her own child. She and Richard never had any other children together. Marie was infertile.