7.39

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“I’m glad we waited,” I said, withstanding the temptation of taking Li’s hands into mine. The sun was setting, and cast everything in a lovely orange glow. I’d never been an overly romantic person, but I could appreciate a wedding at dusk. Everything looked warmer, and softer.

It was the perfect time to get married, in every way.

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Li nodded, and smiled. “Me too. It’s more special like this.”

I cast a glance over our guests as they seated themselves. Dolly was already there, and watched over Poppy and Garnet. I’d have loved Rue to attend as well, but she had gotten tired an hour ago and had only settled down after I had taken her to bed. She was a little too young for a late afternoon wedding, after all, and would have been cranky throughout the ceremony.

I smiled at my family. “Hurry up, or I’ll have to assume that you don’t want this wedding to happen.”

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Goose grinned. “Don’t blame me, cuz! Honey is the one who won’t move!”

My aunty sighed. “I’m sorry, Rainy, you just look so beautiful. Your mother would have been so proud of you.”

Before I could think of something to say, Goose and Sunny nudged her on and moved her towards the front row seats, next to Dolly, Poppy and Garnet.

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I laughed. “I think we’re ready now.”

Li broke into a wide smile. “I believe you begin?”

I smiled back, and nodded.

This wedding was everything I had wanted. It wasn’t big, and it wasn’t fancy, but it was mine. We had rented the furniture and had set everything up in our garden. It was cosy, and perfect. This way, Miko and our babies could watch over us as we exchanged the rings and said our vows.

My whole family was here. No church or registration office could have given me this.

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“I remember the day we first met, and you asked me out. That Ciel had convinced you to talk to me already.” I stole a quick glance into our guests, and caught Ciel’s eyes. If I didn’t know him better I might have thought he was wiping tears away. “You found me when I was lost, and you gave my life new meaning. You’ve brought happiness into my life when I didn’t think I was entitled to any. When things got difficult, you stayed with me. We’ve already been with each other through the good times and the bad – I know we’ll stand by each other no matter what else life could possibly throw at us.”

Finally I took his hand into mine, and slid the ring – an elegant sapphire – on his finger.

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“With this ring I thee wed. I am yours in the good times, and I am yours in the bad times. No matter what life brings before us, we will prevail.” It had taken us a while to find the right words, but once we had them we knew they were the ones. No other vows could have fit us better. “I, Autumn Rain Lace, take you, Chilli Seed, as my lawfully wedded husband.”

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Li looked into my eyes and held my gaze when he spoke his vows.

“You have literally given me a second chance at life. I knew I loved you from the moment I saw you, but I never thought that you would be interested in someone like me. Someone you shouldn’t have been able to see, or talk to. I thought I was happy before. I thought just being in your company was enough, but being alive again- I want to grow old with you, and now I can. I never thought I would have this chance, but because of you I do.

“With this ring I thee wed. I am yours in the good times, and I am yours in the bad times. No matter what life brings before us, we will prevail.”

Gently, he took my hand into his and slid the ring – and elegant ruby – on my finger.

“I, Chilly Seed, take you, Autumn Rain Lace, as my lawfully wedded wife.”

We were pronounced husband and wife, and I sank into his arms.

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I couldn’t believe it. We were married. We had three beautiful children, had adopted a forth, and now we were married, too.

I had the most perfect family.

Poppy threw red roses after us as we walked back down the aisle, and moved our guests over to the cake.

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Li was right, this really was more special. Instead of getting married before Garnet was born we had waited, and had decided to have three children first.

Rue was still a young toddler, but that our whole family was here meant the world to me – even if she was asleep upstairs.

“Would you grant me the first dance, Mrs. Seed?”

I grinned and nodded, allowing him to lead.

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“Thank you.”

“For what?” I asked, moving a little closer.

“This. All of this. You don’t know how happy you’ve made me today, or over the past years.”

I smiled, and kissed him.

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“I think I’ve got an idea.”

He pulled me closer, and for a while we simply moved slowly to the music while our guests watched our first dance as husband and wife.

If someone had told sixteen-year old me that one day, I’d get married to a ghost-turned-human who I also had three children with I wouldn’t have believed it. I was so goal-driven back then that this would have been unimaginable. But now? Now I wanted nothing more.

I gasped when Li tripped me up, and caught me before I could fall.

“I love you, Autumn Rain Seed.” I smiled against his lips. I’d never get used to hearing my new name, but I wouldn’t mind hearing it more often to try.

“And I love you, Chilli Seed.”

My life had changed in so many ways. I had been through much, and Li and I had been through more together, but I was finally exactly where I wanted to be.

This was my happily-ever-after, and I’d savour every moment of it.

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———————

And that’s the end of Rainy’s generation! ❤ Since we can’t do an heir vote without you knowing the kids, I’ll be posting a short interlude to introduce all three of them next week 🙂 The heir vote will be up shortly after that and last until Friday 🙂

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7.38

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Milo died two weeks after we brought Dolly home. I had known that he was an old dog who had lived much longer than most others, but his death still shook me hard.

He had been my dog. Mum’s dog. Aunty Honey had told us once how, the night Mum had given her life to save us, he had sat on her bed whining quietly to himself, refusing to leave.

For a very short time, he had been Poppy’s dog. He had been my family’s protector for generations, and I knew how lucky I was that he had stayed with us for so long.

I had been prepared for his death, as much as anyone could prepare for that, but it was still fudging hard. He had been a great dog, devoted protector of my family, and loyal friend. Our house wouldn’t be the same without him.

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I started showing shortly after. This pregnancy felt just like my pregnancy with Poppy, and we were excited to meet our new baby. Poppy was curious about my now visible bump, too, but she seemed indifferent otherwise. I had explained to her what having a sibling would be like – the shared attention, his or her worship of her, the friendship – but I supposed she was too young to wrap her little head around it.

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I had been concerned that Dolly would have trouble adjusting, but I needn’t have worried. She had been dead for much longer than Li had been, and had been more or less accustomed to her life in the graveyard. She had always been curious about the outside world, but I hadn’t known how she would take to being back inside it.

As it turned out, she took to it very well. She was like a child who was mesmerized by an open flame, but responsible and smart enough to know not to touch it.

She insisted on helping us out around the house. She couldn’t pay us back (as much as we assured her that she didn’t need to pay rent), but she insisted on doing something so Li showed her how to do the laundry. Between Li and Dolly there wasn’t a lot left for me to do, and I had a feeling that this had been their plan from the beginning.

I didn’t mind too much. During my last pregnancy I had been bored a lot, but this time I had Poppy. I spent all my time with her, and taught her how to walk and talk. Dolly joined us every now and again, too, and played with her when I needed a rest.

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I hadn’t realised it before, but Dolly was clever. There was a spark in her eyes that took in everything and that hinted at a longing for knowledge I found addictive. Every free minute she had she spent reading, and it didn’t take long before she asked us if she could work part-time at Sims&Nobles.

At first we weren’t sure if she was still trying to think of ways to pay us back, but when she kept visiting the library and the archives we had to admit that her desire for knowledge was genuine. She loved books and everything within – who were we to deny her that? A job would be good for her, and with her own income she could start saving up.

There was only one problem. Dolly had no documents. I wanted her to enjoy life in every way she wanted, but without ID and all other important papers – birth certificate, medical papers, adoption papers – it would be difficult for her to lead a normal life. I called Ciel, and a week later he brought everything over. As long as no one told anyone that he had essentially forged her papers – on my request – she’d be able to lead a normal life.

We also enrolled her at school. Now that she was officially adopted – as far as all authorities were concerned – it was easy to get her into High School. Unlike most normal teenagers, she loved every second.

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It had taken me a while, but I had finally been able to treat Li to something special. The workbench I bought him was second-hand but in good condition, and it came with everything he needed.

He forgot the time when he was inventing and putting together little oddities, and for the first time we had an actual income. It was irregular, but his skills were coming back to him quickly and he made a good profit from his inventions.

I was happy to see him so happy, too. He had been happy before, of course, but when he was building his crazy robots and Berry-knows-what he looked like he was reunited with a limb he had lost a long time ago. He was a good cook, but this was what he had been born to do.

I knew he would age and grow old long before me. I wanted him to make the most of his second shot at life while he was young enough to do it.

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When Dolly said her first word, we were over the moon. It nearly broke my heart that it was doggie, but I was ecstatic all the same. My baby could talk. Maybe, somehow, she would always remember Miko, too.

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Dolly sat with me whenever she wasn’t at school or at the library. She aced just about everything and was especially interested in the other races, like vampires, fairies and werewolves.

Dolly was enamoured with Poppy, and I could see her eyes light up whenever she saw our daughter. She loved spending time with Poppy, and even helped with her speech training. She could chat to Poppy for hours about everything, and if I didn’t know any better I could have fudging sworn that Poppy listened to every word, too. But how could she? She was too young to be this interested. Wasn’t she?

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Poppy was a blessing, and so was Dolly. Dolly was, in many ways, our child as much as Poppy and her unborn sibling, and I was immensely grateful for my perfect little family. Thanks to Li and Dolly I could relax, knowing that everything was taken care of.

Thanks to them, I could enjoy my pregnancy and our daughter.

7.37

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My second pregnancy hit me full force. I had gone through morning sickness with Poppy, but this was worse and had me on my knees every morning for a while. On top of that I was exhausted, but I had no time to rest just yet.

Poppy’s birthday was just around the corner. Two months before her first big birthday I invited the whole family, to give everyone enough time to make plans and book tickets.

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It was cold outside on the big day, but Poppy loved being outside and we wanted her first birthday to be special, so we set things up in the garden.

I cried when she aged up, and Li had tears in his eyes, too. Two years ago moments like this had seemed impossible, but somehow we had been granted a normal life, after all. Ciel was her godfather and doted on her every chance he got. We didn’t mind that he was spoiling her; Poppy Joy was only possible because of him, so if he wanted to buy her more toys on her birthday than anyone else we’d let him.

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She was beautiful. I was a little sad that she didn’t look more like me, but I was thrilled that she had inherited Mum’s and Aunty Honey’s vibrant orange hair. Her eyes were bright and clever, observing everything that went on around her. She was a very smiley toddler, and chatty. Even though she hadn’t said her first word yet she was constantly babbling about something, and we hoped she’d pick up real words just as quickly.

My whole family being here, if only for a couple of days, gave me the perfect opportunity to arrange a visit myself. There was something I needed to do, but I had to plan ahead since I was pregnant. My doctor had advised against travelling while I was feeling exhausted and had to rush to the toilet without warning, but I wanted to get to Sunset Valley before I was too close to my due date.

When I finally made it to my home town, it was a strange feeling.

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“It’s weird to be back. Thanks for letting me stay.”

Aunty Honey had prepared my old room for me. Seeing the place again after all this time was odd, but sleeping in my old room was even stranger.

“Of course, Rainy. You know you’re welcome here any time, and Azure loves having you over.” At first we had called my cousin Cari for short, but it didn’t feel right. Eventually we had shortened her first name to Azure.

“I’m surprised you haven’t decorated yet. I’d have thought that you’d want to mix River’s colours into the house as soon as possible.”

She smiled, and I realised how tired she looked. Aunty Honey was a born mother, but she wasn’t as young now as she had been when she had raised us. She wasn’t old, but she wasn’t the youngest Mum at school meetings, either.

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“There’s always been something more important to do. You know how it is.”

I nodded. We wanted to renovate, too, but we had been so busy with Poppy, my pregnancy and planning the wedding that it hadn’t been a priority.

“Have you thought about moving? You could get your own place with River and Azure.”

She sighed. “I’ve lived here so long I don’t think I can part with the place. There are a lot of memories here.” I nodded, and didn’t argue further. Not all memories here were good ones, and they could just as easily make new memories in a new home, but this wasn’t my decision. If she wanted to stay, they’d stay. “Besides, River and Azurine are my family. Home is wherever they are.”

I couldn’t argue with that.

All of us had dinner together, and I excused myself as soon as we were finished. Now that I was here and on my way I was nervous. I had been a terrible friend. I knew I should have visited more often, but that was easier said than done. I hoped that my offer was enough to make up for it.

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Coming to the cemetery after all these years was stranger than sleeping in my old room. Nothing had changed. New tombstones had been added, but the small lake was still there, the statue of the grim reaper still loomed over all visitors as they entered, and the mausoleum was unchanged.

Ciel and I had been here so often as teenagers that it almost felt like a small homecoming.

Several ghosts were around, but I didn’t recognise any of them. I was worried that she was hiding, or that she had grown tired of waiting for me and had decided to sleep for a hundred years instead, but I finally found her behind the mausoleum.

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I breathed a sigh of relief. Her back was to me and she looked deep in thought, but just like the rest of the town she hadn’t changed a bit.

Dolly was still Dolly.

I cleared my throat, and she turned around.

“Oh,” she said. “It’s you. Suddenly remembered your old, dead friend, huh?”

I couldn’t tell if she was kidding or serious, and decided that the latter was safer. “I’m sorry, Dolly. I know I should have visited more.”

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“Yeah, you should!” Dolly caught herself, glared at me, and forced herself into looking indifferent. She rolled her eyes at me. “It’s not like you’re my only friend or something. I totally talk to the other ghosts.” With a final glare she turned away from me, and crossed her arms. “They’re just not as cool as you, is all.”

I smiled. She was playing hard to get, but she was excited that I was here.

“I’m really sorry. I’ve brought you a gift, I hope it makes up for it.”

She turned back around to face me.

“Oh? Have you swallowed it or am I blind?”

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“Neither,” I said, and pulled out the small container of pills. Just enough to get her to Moonlight Falls, and to Ciel. A couple extra in case the flight was delayed. “See? It’s a small gift, but I hope you’ll like it.”

“Huh? You want to drug me? Shouldn’t you mix this into my food or something? If I ate food…”

“It’s nothing like that. These pills allow you to leave your cemetery. They don’t work permanently, so you’ll have to keep taking them.”

Her eyes lit up, but her excitement didn’t last. “And then what? I don’t know what happens to ghosts who get stuck outside their resting place, and I don’t think I wanna find out. Not like this, anyway.”

My heart was racing. I had gone over this moment so many times in my head, and I hoped this was one of those possible scenarios where she said yes. “And then I take you to my brother.” I leaned in so I could whisper it. Ciel couldn’t tell anyone about his invention or else people would bring back the dead all the time. Not even his colleagues knew about it. We had agreed to use it one more time, for Dolly, and then he’d destroy all evidence. It was a shame that he’d never get the recognition he deserved for it, but it was better that way.

“Oh yeah, I remember him! The clever guy with a notepad and pen!”

“That’s him,” I nodded. “He’s invented a machine that allows him to turn ghosts back alive. We’ve tested it, and it works. You could have another chance at life, Dolly. If you want it.”

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For a moment her face was blank, then the corners of her lips pulled up into a hesitant smile. “You’re kidding me.”

“I’m not. He invented it so that my fiancé and I could have children. You’d age again, like I do, and eventually you’d die of old age, but until then you could do anything you like. You could see the world, if you wanted to.”

She shook her head. “How would that even work? I can’t go on a plane, you’d never smuggle me across the country. I’m not curling up in your luggage.”

“You won’t have to.” I pulled out two plane tickets I had hidden under my jumper so far. “I booked two seats, one for me and one for my fiancé. He can’t make the flight, and they don’t do refunds, so you might as well have his seat. You’d just need to be quiet until we’re there so no one thinks the plane is haunted,” I said and winked.

Dolly laughed nervously. “Fudge, you’re not kidding.”

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“I’m not. I’m here until tomorrow evening, so if you need some time to think about it that’s fine. I can come back tomorrow and-”

“Nu-uh! I’m going!” Her eyes narrowed. “Where will I stay? I’ve got no ID, and no money. I can’t buy a house.”

“I’ve talked to Li about it. I’m pregnant with our second child, so you’re welcome to stay with us until you’re ready and help out. We’ve got a spare room, so it’s no problem.”

Her eyes went wide. “You have kids?” I nodded. “And this Li guy is your fiancé?” I nodded again. “And you really don’t mind?”

“We don’t. Li used to be a ghost himself, he knows what it’s like to adjust to having a second chance at life. He can help you get used to it. What do you say?”

Dolly broke out into a wide grin, and threw herself into my arms.

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“Thank you.”

She tried to hide it, but I knew she was crying. I didn’t mention it, and held her until she had calmed down.

The next morning I called Li to tell him that Dolly was coming back with me. A few hours later she took her first pill, and we were on our way. She managed to stay quiet for the whole flight, and watched everything with big eyes. She reminded me of Poppy, who saw the world for the first time and tried to take in everything.

She was shaking by the time we landed, and Li collected us from the airport to drive us straight to Ciel. We didn’t want to take any risks with the pills, and I didn’t think Poppy could stand the wait any longer.

We thought she would need a moment to get used to having a physical body again, but she examined everything, touched everything and tried to get used to walking everywhere.

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Dolly became a member of our family almost instantly. She had no papers, so we couldn’t adopt her officially but to us she was our second child.

The formalities could be sorted later.

7.36

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I loved Poppy more than my own life. She was beautiful, and her dark red eyes observed everything they fell on. Her hair was already visible, and my mother’s bright orange stood out against the red.

She was a very chatty little girl, constantly gurgling and making sounds. Her eyes shone brightly, and she smiled every time one of us entered the room.

Getting here had been hard and heart-breaking, but I was so glad that we had made it. So thankful that we had tried again. Poppy had filled a void inside me and it made my heart swell every time I looked at her happy little face.

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She was bright, I could tell. I knew all mothers insisted that their child was the smartest kid in the class, but Poppy had a way of observing everything. When we took her out in her pram she chatted at everything and everyone, and when she reached out for something I gave it to her so she could feel the texture and take in the different scents. She giggled every time she found something new, and I was proud to see her assess her world so eagerly.

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Li was smitten with her, too. We couldn’t tell if she was more of a daddy’s girl or more of a mommy’s girl, and we didn’t really care. She seemed to love both of us equally, and never begged for one more than the other.

Poppy was happy being cuddled by either of us, or both of us together, and we were happy to oblige.

Nine months after her birth, Li convinced me to let Ciel and Silk babysit. I didn’t like to be away from her and always worried that something would happen while I wasn’t there, something I couldn’t protect her from.

But Li was right. Getting some fresh air without changing nappies would be good. I could deny it all I wanted, but I needed the break. I was exhausted, and even though I didn’t mind the late nights I was looking forward to the short break, too.

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“Are we there yet?” We had parked the car twenty minutes away in a small car park by the beach, and had walked ever since.

“Nearly,” he said, flashing me a smile.

I didn’t think I had ever come out here before. Since moving here I hadn’t exactly explored Moonlight Falls’ every corner, and this beach showed me how wrong I had been. Moonlight Falls was a beautiful town, and it was the little hidden places like this beach which made it beautiful.

We walked for another ten minutes, and when we finally stopped Li pulled me into his arms.

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“Are you going to tell me what we’re doing out here?”

He smiled. “I just wanted to tell you how much I love you.”

I blushed, and punched his arm. “You tell me that at home. Why are we here?”

It was a lonely, secluded place. In the distance I could see the small beach house from another beach, but there was no traffic noise, no voices, no distractions. It was just us and the sand, and the calm waves. The only really noise came from a nearby waterfall, but it was a soothing sound more than a distracting one.

“Well…” He pulled me closer, put his hand on my back, and gave me a gentle push so I’d fall into his arms.

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My heart was racing. Since Li had come back to life we hadn’t really had any romantic dates. We’d had plenty of dates, but we had always talked about my pregnancy. Since Poppy was born we hadn’t been on any dates, since neither of us had been ready to be away from our daughter.

This was the most romantic thing we had done, and it made my heart race. This beach was the perfect location for a date.

“Oh, fudge.”

I laughed when he cussed. “That’ll be a fiver for the swear jar.” Our swear jar was an empty nutella glass, but it could hold a good amount of money. It was nothing special, but we’d figured that we should have something.

So far, Poppy’s uni investment was coming along nicely.

“Lost something?” I asked when he let go of me and began to fumble with his pocket.

He nodded, and began to run his hands through the sand.

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“Yes, dammit. It’s only small, I hope- Hang on. Sorry about this.”

I nodded, and watched as Li searched the grainy beach around his feet.

It wasn’t until his hand moved behind him and pulled something out of his back pocket that I realised what he was doing.

“Don’t tell me you-”

He grinned up at me, his hand still hidden behind his back. “Promise to be quiet until I’ve finished?”

I nodded, my legs shaking.

“Autumn Rain Lace, you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, the most passionate woman I have ever met, and the most determined woman I have ever been able to call my friend. Besides all that, you have very literally given me a new lease on life. I knew from the moment I first saw you walk into the graveyard that I loved you. Pulling myself together and talking to you was the best decision I have ever made.

I am the luckiest man alive, and I have you to thank for both. I know we can get through anything together, because we already have. You have given me a daughter, and I want to spend the rest of my new life with both of you.”

He finally pulled out what he had hidden behind his back, and opened the jewellery box.

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I forgot how to breathe. I had never cared for rings or necklaces or earrings, but this ring was different. It was a beautiful ruby adorned with two tiny sapphires on each side.

On any other occasion I would have thought it excessively pompous. On my ring it was perfect.

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“Autumn Rain Lace, would you somehow make me even happier, and be my wife?”

My sight had become blurry, and I could only hope that my voice was still working.

We had talked about getting married, but never seriously. I’d had no idea he had made plans and bought an engagement ring.

I smiled, and nodded in case my voice would fail me. “Yes. I’d love to be your wife.”

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Li broke out into a huge grin, and slid the ring on my finger.

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His hands were shaking, but he managed it and kissed my hand once the ring was on my finger.

He got up, and for a moment we just held each other.

Finally, I pulled away. Now seemed like the right moment to mention it.

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“We’ll either have to hurry and get married in the next few months, or it’ll have to wait.”

“Why’s that?”

“I’m pregnant again.”

We had wanted more children, but we had decided to wait until Poppy was a little older. It seemed my body had different plans.

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“I love you,” he said right before his arms closed around me and kissed me.

“I love you, too.”

Finally, everything was perfect.

7.35

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This pregnancy was definitely different. I had all the right side effects, and knew that this time my baby would be fine.

During my last two pregnancies I had barely felt anything. There had been no morning sickness, no aching back, no swollen feet. This time, my feet were huge and hurt, my back was sore whether I was standing up, sitting down or lying down and I had constant cravings for watermelon and cheese. Not necessarily together.

Above all I could feel my baby wiggle inside me, and I couldn’t be happier.

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The main difference was that I was tired all the time. I thought Li had exaggerated before, when he had insisted I get lots of breaks and don’t overwork myself, but this time I understood. The simplest of things made me tired, and I was grateful that Li had done this before. Unlike me he knew what he was doing, and I didn’t protest when he told me to have a nap or give in to my cravings.

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He also insisted on taking me out on dates. Friday night became our official date night (if I wasn’t too tired and if I could get my feet into shoes), and I loved being able to go out with him.

I did worry that money was getting a little tight. Once our baby was here I’d be able to get a job, but that wouldn’t happen right away. I wanted to spent as much time as possible with the baby, not head to work immediately and hire a nanny. I did have my sculpting station and we had an easel, but I wasn’t good enough with either to make a lot of money from it. Or any money.

I secretly cursed my younger self. If I hadn’t been so obsessed with that ghost I might have spent more time with school work. I could have developed a skill, something to fall back on now, but instead I had nothing.

Li, on the other hand, was a skilled inventor. He had built a website advertising his handy skills, and we had a bit of money coming in from people who needed a shower fixed, a stove upgraded or a toilet unblocked. It wasn’t a glamorous job but he looked happy doing it.

I vowed to buy him a proper workstation one day, so he could get back into inventing.

But first, we needed money.

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Li could tell that this pregnancy was normal, too. My violent mood swings aside he could feel the baby move, and grinned every time the baby kicked his hand away.

“We will spoil you rotten, little one. All the toys you want, you can-”

“Shouldn’t we set some limits?”

He looked up at me from my ever-growing belly. “Of course! But that can wait until she’s born, can’t it?!” I shrugged. As long as he could restrain himself once our daughter was born I was happy.

At first we didn’t want to know the baby’s gender, but finally we gave in. Since this was a normal pregnancy and a normal, human baby I could book the normal scans and hospital appointments. Li came with me to every one of them, and it was during my fourth appointment that the gender of the baby was confirmed.

We were having a girl. A daughter.

The doctor had given us a minute and had left the room for a moment, while we held each other and cried. We had waited so long for this moment, and now we finally had it. All the scans had been fine. We were having a healthy baby girl, and we were both ecstatic.

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“Have you thought about names?” I asked one day when we were both resting together. Li didn’t need the break, but he didn’t want to miss a moment with me. He had hoped that he’d be able to remember his previous children now that he was alive again, but the memories were still gone. I knew he was upset and disappointed in himself, and secretly I was glad that he was with me all the time. If anything did go wrong, I wouldn’t be alone.

He smiled. “A few. How about you?”

I had bought a book with baby names two weeks ago and had spent a lot of time reading through it. I liked so many of them but one had stood out.

“I really like the name Poppy.”

Li kissed me. “Poppy sounds perfect.”

And so it was decided. Our daughter would be called Poppy.

When my water broke it was unlike anything I had ever felt before. Losing our first two babies had been painful beyond belief, but emotional pain had mixed with the very real physical pain. This time I knew that nothing was wrong, that when it was all over I’d be holding a healthy little girl in my arms.

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We both freaked out a little and I panicked. What if this baby would vanish when they cut through the umbilical chord? What if it just wasn’t meant to be?

Li rushed me to the hospital while trying to calm me down. I was terrified that something would go wrong, and freaked out even more when the midwife suggested different painkillers which were save to use. What if I was an exception? What if it wouldn’t be save?

After two hours of intense pain, the midwife and Li convinced me to just take the pain meds. Because I was panicking an additional midwife had been called into the room, who was used to parents who had lost children before. By some miracle she managed to calm me down, and together with the pain killers I was relaxed by comparison.

When they placed my baby, my daughter, my Poppy, into my hands I was shaking. Li sat down next to me and together we cried over how beautiful and perfect she was. How real she was.

My heart stopped for a moment when the midwife cut through the chord, but my baby was fine.

I stayed at the hospital for a couple more days for all relevant check-ups (some of which I insisted on), and held my baby whenever I got the chance. For some reason something didn’t feel right, not complete, but it didn’t occur to me until I brought her home what it was.

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Her middle name. Li and I had been so excited and preoccupied that we hadn’t considered any middle names, but when she smiled up at me as we walked through the front door together it came to me.

Poppy Joy.

It was perfect, just like my baby girl.

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Miko picked up his duties as her bodyguard immediately, and slept by her crib once we moved her into her own room.

My heart ached with happiness seeing it. It was crazy to think that Miko had watched over three generations now – first my Mum, then me and now my daughter.

I hadn’t realised how much grey there was in his fur until now, and knew that we wouldn’t have him for much longer. He had been the best dog, but he had lived a very long time. I hadn’t really thought about just how old he was, but he had reached a very proud age.

It brought tears to my eyes to think about it, but I was overjoyed that he had gotten to meet his newest charge.

For now he was still with us, and a watchful protector. My little family was finally complete, and I couldn’t have been happier.

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“Li…” My voice was so quiet I doubted he heard me. The machine was still making a bit of noise, but it had stopped and the lights stayed off.

I didn’t know how to speak as Li slowly got to his feet, brushing himself off and feeling different spots on his body where the cold metal rings had hurt him.

Next to me Ciel was silent, too. I couldn’t pull my eyes away from Li, but I had seen Ciel often enough after an experiment had worked to know how he looked. Eyes wide, lips slightly parted, and completely stunned.

I imagine I looked much the same when Li got up, and stood.

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He moaned when his hand found a sore spot on his back. His very real, physical, red back. “That’s gonna hurt tomorrow.”

It had really worked. Li was human. Dark red skin, bright red eyes, and even darker hair. Real hair. Physical hair.

I wanted to touch him, to feel his new body, to make sure this was really happening and wasn’t just a dream, but when my hand reached out for him the rest of me moved with it.

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“It’s okay, Rainy. I feel fine, just a little sore.”

“You- You-” I couldn’t find the words between my sobs.

I didn’t need to, either. Li patted my back, and froze.

“I’m- My hand- It worked?”

I nodded into his shoulder, marvelling at the feel of real skin against me. Holding him before had always felt a little strange, like he was there but he wasn’t. I had gotten used to it, but it had never been the same as holding another human. There had been something physical, but it had been faint. Like wading through deep water, but more solid.

This, now, was nothing compared to that strange feeling. This was real.

I ran my hands down his back, over his shoulders, and sank deeper into his arms. He had a scent. Before he hadn’t really smelled of anything, but now he smelled of something, like every human did. He smelled of him, and I wanted to take it all in.

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“I’ll give you guys a moment and get you some clothes” said Ciel, not waiting for an answer before he left the room and closed the door behind him.

Li held me for another few moments before slowly pulling away.

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I didn’t know what to say. This was almost too much, and overwhelming, but in a good way. Li was alive again. The full implications hit me, and everything he and Ciel had said before sank in.

We could go out for dinner. We could go away together, visit my family together and even go for a simple walk through town together.

We could finally have a normal relationship, with everything that was involved.

I grinned, my heart beating so hard it felt like it was going to burst.

“Hi” I said, feeling like an idiot. The fudge were we, awkward teenagers?

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Li grinned back. “Hi.” He leaned in, and kissed me. He had been a good kisser before, but this was something else entirely. This ran deeper, and was more real. I didn’t just feel his kiss, I could feel the smooth surface of his lips, his warmth and his smile against my own.

It had never occurred to me that his actions had been whispers of their real selves, too.

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For the first time ever, I looked at him. Really looked at him, at the curves in his eyebrows, the way his hair fell over his face, the faint wrinkles in his skin. The light in his eyes. The way the corners of his mouth curved when he smiled.

He was so handsome I could do nothing but stare at him.

“Hi,” I said again, feeling like a giggly thirteen year old. Just, I hadn’t been this giggly when I had been thirteen and for once I didn’t mind it.

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He pulled me into his arms again, and I sank into them. The feel of his hands on my neck and his scent were intoxicating, dizzying, and I didn’t want it to end. I wished we weren’t still here but back home, where we could be alone. Ciel had given us a moment of privacy but I doubted he wanted to find us like that.

“So?” He asked, his eyes locked with mine. “How do I look?”

I was grateful that he didn’t pull away this time. My legs were actually shaking. Even his voice had been a mere whisper of its true sound before.

 

“Amazing.” I kissed him, tempted for a moment to ignore where we were but thought better of it.

Trying to be strong but not wanting to leave his arms just yet, I cuddled into him and wrapped myself around him.

“Rainy…”

“Hm?” My head was spinning, and I looked up to meet his eyes.

“Not here. Your brother could be back any minute.” I blushed, suddenly very aware that he was naked. “I appreciate you being so close, but you’re making this hard for me, if you catch my meaning.”

I laughed nervously, my face almost as dark red as his. I didn’t need to catch his meaning- I could feel it.

Just in that moment the doors opened and Ciel stepped in.

 

“I, erm… I’ll leave these clothes here for you.”

Li quickly turned around and I passed him the fresh shirt and trousers before turning to my twin. He was not getting away from me again.

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“I can’t thank you enough, Ciel. I don’t know what to say.”

He grinned when he pulled me into a hug. “You don’t have to. I know I was an ass for the past few months, but I hope this makes up for it.”

I laughed. “It does. If you need anything, ever, let me know. You’ve earned so many favours.”

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“I told you, it’s fine. You don’t have to give me anything, just be happy. And I want the first wedding invitation, and a seat in the front row.”

Again I laughed, but wondered. Before tonight a wedding had been out of the question. Li had no legal documents, we would have needed someone with a marriage licence to wear the glasses and be quiet about being the first man ever to marry a ghost to a human, my whole family would have needed to wear the glasses, we wouldn’t have been able to get married in a public place, and there were a whole number of other issues with it, too. But now?

If we ever get married I’ll remember it” I said, punching his arm. Li and I hadn’t really talked about it, knowing that it wasn’t possible. We had lived together just fine without being married, but that didn’t mean that we didn’t want to. Did I want to get married? Did he? I supposed we’d have to talk about it somewhen.

But not tonight. We could finally have the family we wanted, and there was no point in waiting.

Miko is broken, please help!

You might remember Miko, Cari’s dog. You haven’t seen him since they’ve moved because he’s glitched, and I can’t fix it.

This is him in my game:

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He can still interact with his toys and sims, but my sims can’t ineract with him. For example, when I have selected Miko I can click on a sim and make him beg, but while I have PV or Li selected I can’t click on Miko. When they take him for a walk autonomously you can see the leash but it disappears in the ground.

I can reset him, sort of, but it doesn’t fix it. It resets his position but not his condition.

His life expectancy expired a while ago and I’m not sure if he’s too glitched to die of old age. Which would have been fine, if I could see him and have him in the story, but I can’t include him like this.

Does anyone know how to fix this?

If it can’t be fixed I’ll have to delete him and pretend he moved on naturally, but I didn’t want him to just disappear without a word!

~MischiefTheKitten