The next few days were even harder than Anwen imagined. After her conversation with Maddoc, she went to her mother for help with Lachlan. Her mother was astonished at what Anwen had done but saw the merit of it after some conversation.
“So, you want me there when Lachlan meets with Lord Dunne?” asked her mother.
“Yes, please. I think your Gift will be beneficial in helping keep the room somewhat peaceful. I am not asking you to force Lord Dunne into forgiving his son. I would just like you to ease tensions. Your gift is working after your time in Quinlan, isn’t it?”
Her mother nodded. “I had some issues with it as I first recovered. It was awful coming off of whatever it was Roslyn gave me. I was sick to my stomach for weeks and very tired. My Gift now is very much recovered and is actually stronger than ever. I am not sure why, but I feel more connected to it now than I ever have. My power is so easy to draw from. I think I do it sometimes without even trying. I have had to hold it back around King Brone. Whatever relationship we are developing, I do not want to confuse him by using my power.”
“You were sick from the substance Roslyn gave you?” asked Anwen. “I suppose that is why I have felt ill as well.”
“You have felt ill, dearest? Perhaps you should see the apothecary.”
“I am fine. I just have an occasional upset stomach and am tired, but I suppose it is the stress combined with whatever I was given at the Grand Palace. Do not worry, mother. I am well.”
“It seems strange that the substance would still affect you. I am quite over it, and I believe I was dosed for much longer than you. You are very petite, though. Perhaps it had a greater effect on you.”
“I have been traveling as well, and the stress has been awful. Then to come here and find out that Lord Aidan is not long for the world. It is all a bit much.” Anwen sighed and rubbed her head.
“You have headaches as well?”
“I am sure it is just due to my strange sleep patterns. I find it hard to sleep at times, and then I will sleep for hours and hours. I am sure it will all work itself out eventually.”
Her mother reached out and touched her face. “You do not feel warm, and besides looking a little pale and thin, you don’t look ill.”
“Because I am not, but enough about me. Will you come to speak with Lachlan and then Lord Dunne?”
Her mother looked at her for a moment before she nodded. “I will hear what the young man has to say, but you must know my forgiveness will not come easy. You are the dearest thing to me in this world, and he has hurt you in so many ways.”
“I know, but we are already alienated from so much of our family. I know you feel the loss of your sister and niece more than you let on. The Dunnes are practically our family, and if we can help them heal, shouldn’t we?”
“I cannot believe what Roslyn has become. We were so close as girls. As she grew, I believe she became jealous of me. She never did approve of your father, and you know her tale of heartache. Gwendolyn’s father ran off before she was born with some lord’s daughter who was visiting from across the seas. I believe it all broke Roslyn somehow.”
“Perhaps we can get through to her at some point, mother, but right now, there is not much we can do. We can help the Dunne’s. Please keep an open mind and heart as you listen to Lachlan. I’m not asking you to absolve him of all he has done wrong. I’m asking you to give him a chance to make amends.”
Anwen and her mother went to Lachlan’s room. He was quiet at first, not seeming to know where to start. Anwen could feel her mother send a slight bit of her power through the room to calm him. However her mother really felt about Lachlan, she was a kind woman who did not like to see anyone suffer. Anwen thought Lachlan did well admitting his faults and appearing properly sorry. He spoke simply, which made her think what he had to say come from the heart.
Her mother looked at him for a second before she said, “I must tell you I will never accept you as the highest lord of my kingdom. I believe your father agrees as well.”
“I am sure he does, and I understand it. I have no aspirations to claim in place in my family. I need to admit my faults to my all and live with the repercussions. I have run away from all responsibilities in the past. It is time I stop running and face what I must.”
“Very well. We should take you to your father. I will stay with you when you meet with him if you like,” said Queen Eira.
“I will as well,” said Anwen as she tried to stifle a yawn. She had been on her feet for most of the day and was sure that was why she felt so tired.
“No. You need to rest. I don’t believe you have eaten lunch yet either. Go eat and rest. You need to take care of yourself for what is to come. Not only what is going to happen in this house, but also what you will have to face in Calumbria very soon.”
Anwen spent the rest of the day eating and resting in her room. Maddoc stayed with her for most of the day, worrying over her. She tried to alleviate his concerns because she did not feel awful, only tired. She told him she believed the substance her aunt gave her could still be affecting her along with the stress she was experiencing. What she had to say may have made him feel better about her health, but it angered him anew about what his uncle had done to her.
Though Maddoc thought she should stay in for the evening, she was determined to go down to supper. She wished to know how things were between Lachlan and his father and if he had seen Lord Aidan yet. A very angry looking Brennan met her and Maddoc as they came down the stairs.
Anwen looked at Maddoc before turning to Brennan. “Do you wish to speak with me or the king, Brennan?”
“I believe you can guess what I want to know already, Anwen. How could you?”
“He is your brother, Brennan,” said Anwen quietly.
“I do not claim him as anything to me anymore. How could I after all that he has done to you, Anwen. He has done more to you than I even knew. I was there when he confessed all to father. He gambled away our family money and then gave up his commitment to you to buy his way out. He spread rumors of you to satisfy Gwendolyn. He tried to force himself upon you in Quinlan, and then he practically killed you. How could I ever want anything to do with him?”
“He has done very wrong and not just to me. He brought shame to your family, but none of us can dismiss him completely, not when he wishes for reconciliation. You may never be as you once were, but I believe there is a way forward for you and your brother. You will be the head of your family someday. Part of that responsibility is doing what is necessary, even when it is hard. You must forgive your brother in some way and help him rebuild his life.”
“And you agree with this, King Maddoc? After all this man has done to the woman you love. You believe Lachlan deserves forgiveness?”
Maddoc took Anwen’s hand. “He does not deserve it, but it does not good to hold anger and resentment towards him. Anwen is right in that we must all find a way to live in some kind of peace. I do not wish to spend much time around your brother if any at all, but I will try to find a way not to wish him ill.”
Anwen squeezed Maddoc’s hand and let it go. She moved closer to Brennan. “I know this seems impossible. A part of me wants your brother to suffer for what he has done, but Brennan, he has suffered. He will continue to suffer because his life will never be what it once was. When it is all said and done, I don’t know if he will even be able to live in this kingdom or even land. He knows that your whole family will always remember what he has done, and he will feel like a disappointment of a son and brother forever.”
“What good will it do for me to forgive him in any way then? I don’t even know if I can do it and really mean it. We were never exceptionally close. I had hoped when he married you to remedy it, but he threw that a way as well. Though, I think you are better off.” Brennan took her hand. “You have always been like my sister, Anwen. I love you as one of my family. I wanted to call my brother out when he broke your heart. It may be wrong to say it, but if he would have killed you with his stupidity, I think I might have hunted him down and ended him.”
“You wouldn’t have the chance because I would have found him first,” said Maddoc. Anwen gave him a look and shook her head slightly. “I am only being truthful. I still find it hard to control my rage at your brother, Brennan. Only having Anwen close to me and seeing her well keeps my need for vengeance under control.
“I know she is right as she usually is. It is not good to live with so much anger even if the one it is directed at deserves it. For my own future that I will build with my queen, I have to learn to let go of it and not let it control me. If I continue to let it affect me, it will hurt not just me but those I love most.”
Anwen gave him a very small smile. “Brennan, you have a wonderful future ahead of you. You will soon be married to a woman you love, and you will lead your great family. I will depend on you to help me rule Lucidala. To be all you need to be, you cannot carry around this burden.”
Before Brennan could answer, he looked over Anwen’s shoulder. She turned to see Lord Dunne walking downstairs with Lachlan. She looked back to see Brennan leaving the room.
“I suppose I cannot expect anything else from him. I never was a very good brother to Brennan,” said Lachlan.
Anwen gave a small shrug. “Give him time. Hopefully, you will have many years to be the brother he deserves.”
“I have never been good at being what anyone deserves me to be.” He looked at Anwen for a second before glancing down.
“No, but now is a good time to start.”
He nodded before looking up at Maddoc. “I want to congratulate you on your marriage, King Maddoc. I can’t imagine any man having so good of a woman as a wife.”
Anwen stared at Maddoc, waiting to see how he would respond. She noticed the sarcastic grin come on his face that meant he was about to say something cutting, but he took a breath and only tilted his head slightly forward toward Lachlan. “I agree.” Turning to Anwen, he offered her his arm, and she took it.
“Thank you,” she said quietly.
“For what? What he said was the truth. You are truly the best woman any man could have for a wife.”
“I know you wish to say more,” she said as she moved a little closer to him.
“There was plenty I wish to say, but in the end, what good would it do. The man was stupid enough to let you go, and he will suffer long for it. Loving you well my whole life is the best revenge I could have on the man.”
“I am not sure I like you speaking of revenge, but I do like the idea of being loved by you well.”
Maddoc chuckled, and she was glad to hear some real levity from him after all that had happened.