While the children were in training and Edmund was in his study, Ava made her way into her room and sat on the bed with Illusions of Yesterday in hand. She opened the book to the inside of the front cover and ran her fingers over the note inside. She smiled and sighed. She had to stop acting like this; she wasn’t in love with Edmund. There was no possibility that she was falling for Ed.
A sudden chill came over Ava, sending shivers up her spine.
“…. feelings…..him.” she heard a voice say. If Ava were smart, she’d ditch, but she wasn’t smart, and she had a death wish so she didn’t bother worrying about ghosts sending her to an early grave. She ran her thumb over the note one more time before opening to her place and reading.
After lunch, Edmund and Ava decided to take a stroll around the garden. Ava noticed some roses in a planter as they were walking and leaned in to take it its sweet scent. Edmund took her hand before it settled on the stem.
“Careful, Ava. Thorns” he said lifting the petals to reveal a thorny stem that would’ve stabbed Ava if he hadn’t stopped her.
“Sorry, sometimes I forget that roses have thorns.”
“Not all roses have thorns. Most, but not all. For instance,” he said bringing her over to one of the arches. “Zéphirine Drouhin. Since it is a rose, it does require quite a bit of care, but their sweet fragrance is worth it.”
“You sure know your flowers, Ed.”
“Indeed. I happen to be a bit of plant enthusiast.”
“A bit?” Ava picked as she motioned to the garden. The two chuckled and continued on the path. Ava felt the same chill from earlier go up her spine.
“…...holding…. hand.…” the same voice spoke. Ava glanced down and as the voice said, her hand was still holding Ed’s. She cleared her throat before dropping his hand and walked over to another bunch of flowers.
“So uh, what about these?” she asked, hoping he didn’t notice. It seems that he didn’t as he began to tell her facts about the flower. Ava swore she heard a soft chuckle in the wind.
Later that day, Jo had asked Ava to come play with her in the front yard. Ben, Katie, and Danny sat on the front porch coloring as the two tossed a ball back and forth.
“Your throw is weak!!! I feel like I’m playing ball with Danny.”
“Hey!” Danny yelled in offence.
“Ben throws better than you and he’s 4!” Jo picked with her brother.
“I’m gay! I don’t play sports. I cheer for the hot football players instead.” Danny said with a smirk.
“Like Lucas!” Ben said making his older brother hide his face.
“Quit terrorizing your brother.” Ava said with a soft laugh.
“Fine. Your throw is still weak though.” Jo picked. Ava laughed and chucked the ball at her making her laugh. Ava glanced over at the kids on the porch and for a split second she swore she saw a woman kneeling over Ben.
“…..out!” she heard before getting nailed in the head with the ball.
“OH MY GOD, I’M SO SORRY, AVA. ARE YOU OKAY?!?” Jo yelled as she ran over to Ava.
“Yeah, I’m alright. I headbutted your dad’s hard head so I’m sure I can take a hit from a ball.” She said making the kids laugh.
“Is everything alright out here? I heard Jo yelling.” Edmund asked as he walked outside.
“Yeah, I wasn’t paying attention and the ball hit me in the head. That’s all.” Ava said walking over to him.
“Do you need ice?”
“Probably. Jo has one hell of a throwing arm.”
“Of that I am well aware. We’ve had to replace several windows due to her throwing arm.”
“I said I was sorry!” Jo objected. Edmund smoothed her hair back.
“I know. I’m not mad; I’m just simply telling Ava my experience with your strength.” Edmund said offering her a small smile before turning to Ava. “Come on, I’ll get you an ice pack.”
“Sorry…. didn’t…distract….” she heard from the voice as she followed Edmund inside.
That night, Ben asked Ava to tell him a bedtime story and of course she agreed. Edmund was shocked and Ava responding like the adult she is by sticking her tongue out at him. She told him the same story she tells Calliope when she visits her sister. The story of the knight and the mighty dragon.
“The dragon let out a mighty roar and the townsfolk cheered as the knight and her new steed road off to find their next adventure. The End.” She finished. Ben had fallen asleep in her lap about halfway through the story, but Ava knew better than to stop a story just because the child seems asleep. She smiled and pet his sleeping head.
“Goodnight, kiddo.” She said leaning down and pressing a kiss to his head. Kids were always adorable when they slept. The only kid that was not pretty when they slept was her sister. Emma would sprawl out, taking up the entire bed with her mouth hanging open. She let out a small laugh as the image popped up in her head.
“You’re quite good with kids.” A voice spoke up from beside the bed. Ava looked up to see a beautiful woman with bright red hair falling around her shoulders, bright green eyes emitting a soft glow in the bedroom. The room seemed to get colder with her presence, but she could feel warmth coming from the woman.
“You must be Ben’s mom.”
“Yes. My name is Celene. I’m sorry if I scared you at all today. I was simply trying to reach out to you a bit more, but Ben’s ability is one of the only reasons I can show myself as clearly as you see me now.” She said. Her voice slightly echoed throughout the room; it was creepy but oddly calming. Ava opened her mouth to ask a question but Celene seemed to already know what she was going to ask.
“I’m assuming you want to know what happened. It’s alright, I don’t mind talking about it.” She said with a soft smile. “There were some complications when I was in my last stages of pregnancy and there were two options. My life or Ben’s. My husband wanted to save my life whereas I wanted Ben to live. Since I was the one to make the final decision, the doctors focused on Ben and luckily he was born healthy.”
She sat on the bed and gently cupped Ben’s cheek. Her smile faded.
“I lost my life during childbirth and my husband didn’t take to kindly to that. He grew a hatred for our son, and he began to neglect him. Ben was forced to fend for himself. I helped him in any way that I could but when Charles didn’t come home one night, Ben had no choice but to go find food. I kept him out of danger and when I saw Edmund, I knew he would keep Ben safe. I may not have the same ability as Danny, but I know when a person has a good heart.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. What do you mean by ‘ability’?” Ava asked.
“Well, I suppose since you know about Ben’s ability, you should know the others’ too.” She said thinking for a moment before looking at Ava.
“The Lucilius children are much different from others. Ben, as you know, has the ability to see and speak to spirits with ease. Katie has an intellect like no other. She can solve equations that took 3 adults 2 years by herself within a matter of seconds. Danny is able to see auras and detect whether they are good or bad. He can also tell a person’s true intentions just by studying their aura. Jo’s ability is impeccable strength and agility. Edmund and his brother have abilities as well, but I am unaware of what they are. Everyone in this house has a special ability and that includes you, Ava.”
“Me? Unlikely, the only thing I’m good at is making coffee and taking care of kids.”
“Ava, you’re capable of so much more than you think. During these last couple of weeks, I’ve seen the children and Edmund so much happier. I think what this little puzzle of a family needed was someone like you to complete them. Edmund hasn’t been this happy in quite some time and it’s nice to see him smile, no matter how obscure it seems to be.” Celene said with a soft smile.
“I’m not anything special, Celene. I just so happened to pass out and Ed found me, that’s it.”
“There’s more to the story. I can’t say much but Edmund is much more than meets the eye. I can say one thing however, Edmund cares about you, that’s for sure. I know it’s only been two weeks, but a lot can happen in that short span of time. Charles and I fell in love in about a month.”
“But after you died, he turned into a dick. No offense.”
“None taken. While that may be true, Edmund isn’t like other men; you and I both know that.” Celene stood up and walked over to sit in front of Ava. “So, what about you, Ava?”
“How do you feel about everything?” She asked which led Ava to sit in silence for a moment. How did she feel? She should probably be freaked out by the fact of the kids having special abilities and Edmund having some unknown ability, but she wasn’t. It’s not like any of them could fly or breath fire, their abilities weren’t supernatural (well Ben’s is kind of supernatural but that’s beside the point), they were simply abilities that other people may have but to a higher extent.
“I feel the same about everything. I want to know more but I don’t really have the time to dig deep since I have to go back to my apartment tomorrow. I guess I’ll have to figure things out when I get the time.”
“Ed? I don’t know what I feel. Maybe I am catching feelings, but I don’t know. Ed is definitely boyfriend material but a guy like him with a fucked-up girl like me? That type of shit only happens in cheesy romance movies or 3am boyband fanfiction.”
“Don’t ask. When it comes to what Shari does, you never ask questions” Ava interrupted before Celene ask. She wasn’t in the mood to explain the Y/N fanfics that Shari tells her about.
“Well, still. If you believe there may be something there, it’s worth a shot. Though if I were you, I would unravel the mystery of Edmund before taking the shot or else things may get chaotic in the future.”
“Alright. Thanks for talking with me, Celene. I really appreciate it.”
“Anytime. I’ll try to work on speaking with you when Ben isn’t around. If you ever need to talk about anything that you don’t feel like speaking to the living about, I’m here. That includes issues like the dilemma in your head before you passed out.”
“Dilemma? What are yo- Oh, you know about that?” Ava said rubbing the back of her neck.
“Of course, I do, I’m dead. The dead tend to know about that kind of thing.”
“Alright well, I’m gonna head to bed. Good night, Celene.” Ava said gently moving her leg out from under Ben’s little head.
“Goodnight” Celene responded before fading into the night.
After a quick shower, Ava got settled into bed. She didn’t want to leave tomorrow; she knew she had to, but she genuinely didn’t want to. She missed Shari and Mr. Geraldine but she didn’t want to go back to her apartment. She’d only had one depressive episode in the span of two weeks which was rare. She usually had several episodes per week, sometimes the episodes wouldn’t last too long but she had them regardless. She wasn’t ready to go back to that. She especially wasn’t ready to have the same thoughts she had on Tuesday.