[J] True Kinda Love
Aenan and Leadership | Dated 04/18/22
#1
IndentThe weather was perfect, though the ground was somewhat wet from spring showers. Vibrant green eyes turned skyward as she let out a content sigh. "Todays the day!" thought the mother excitedly. Alena could hardly contain herself, though Jacques practically pranced and bounced as they followed the directions left by Shiras. "Are you excited Jacques?" she asked chuckling as she watched her son unable to contain his excitement. Alena had barely gotten the words out of her muzzle before Jacques spoke "Yes! Yes! I can't wait!" he blurted out quickly. Jacques looked up to his mother, his tail wagging madly. "Can't we go any faster? I don't want to wait anymore!" he said in an exasperated tone. Alena laughed and nodded slowly "I suppose we can go a bit faster. I just don't want you overworking yourself." explained the sandy mother.
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IndentJacques shook his head, his eyes pleading with her. "I promise that I'll tell you if I'm getting tired. Okay? Is that good enough?" he said almost begging now. Alena shook her head, laughing a little harder now. She could understand why her son wanted to move faster, it had been far too long since either of them had seen Aenan or Shiras. Waving a charcoal hand, Alena finally relented. "Alright, alright. Just don't get overtired. We still have a little ways to go." she said in a worried tone. Alena knew she babied Jacques far too much, but how could she not? Alena had almost lost her son over the winter. In Alena's mind, any mother would do the same. Scents of different wolves wafted with the breeze, and this let Alena know they were getting close to some type of border. Alena's pace slowed as Jacques continued onward, green orbs scanning the directions again and praying silently that she hadn't gotten lost.
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IndentAlena's eyes flicked up from the map to search for her son, and to her relief, he hadn't gone far ahead. Alena folded up the map and jogged up to her son "We should nearly be there. Stick close to me, okay?" she said. She didn't know how they would be welcomed at the New Caledonian borders, but she knew that if they had accepted Aenan and Shiras, they should also be accepted. The duo continued at a brisk pace. Alena had been traveling upright on two feet ever since she and Jacques had taken a bath. The sandy woman had even done her best to tame her wild hair, pulling her clawed fingers through the knots as best she could. She wanted everything to be perfect, and to look perfect when she came face to face with the love of her life.
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IndentAlena took in the scents around her again, and this time they were more concentrated. "This must be the border." she thought to herself coming to a dead stop. Jacques saw his mother stop dead in her tracks, and so did he. Jacques circled around her legs nervously, looking up at her face. "Why'd you stop Mumma?" he asked her. Alena smiled and looked around carefully, only to motion her son backward. "Come back this way Jacques, and take a good sniff. What do you smell?" she said as she backtracked a good ten paces. Jacques followed his mother obediently. Jacques lifted his muzzle skyward and took in the scents. His eyes went wide as he looked up to his mother. "Is this what a pack border is?" he asked in a curious tone. Alena smiled and gave his head a soft pat. "Yes. This is a pack's border Jacques. This scent line is how you know where claimed and unclaimed territories are divided." explained the mother. She smiled down at her son and then began once more. "You are to never cross a pack's borders unless you are permitted. Is that understood?" she said in a harsh tone. Jacques nodded, looking around at the scenery before him. "I'll call for the leadership. Please be on your best behavior, and don't speak unless they speak to you. Okay?" she said trying to impart just how important this situation was.
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IndentAlena cleared her throat quickly, suddenly feeling as though she needed a drink. She felt nervous, but she could hardly wait to see Aenan once more. Alena lifted her muzzle skyward and let out a beautiful even-toned howl. The howl gave away her eagerness, not only to meet with the leadership but to see her beloved once more. She closed her jaws slowly as she ran out of air, only to take a large calming breath. "All we have to do now is wait. It won't be long now and we'll get to see your father." she promised.

WC: 806
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#2
Aenan was sitting in the sunlight, letting his fur roast gently in its rays. He longed to hear the sound of cicadas buzzing to join in with the chorus of nature. For now he enjoyed the wind slipping through budding branches, and the babbling of engorged rivers and waterways. As the sun beat down on him, his eyes grew heavy. The man closed his orbs, letting them rest. As he sat next to his son, Shiras bopping away at some knappable stone they’ve found around the whole territory. The two had yet to find a decent quarry to take from, of course, but the concentration of stones found in old harbors kept their supplies up.

The rhythmic klack of antler on stone coupled with the heat of sol caused the man to doze as he sat. One hind leg stuck out, the other remained under him where he should. Weight was slowly nudged onto his forelegs as his head lowered, only for him to wake slightly and raise his head back to it’s original spot. Slumber came and went, as he bobbed his sleepy head. Shiras noticed, but made no suggestion to his father that he should lay down. Aenan was fine the way he was, and surely he’d rest on the ground eventually.

That eventuality didn’t seem to come, as the old man kept nodding his slumber-laiden head. Shiras continued to work, hammering away at what would be tools for them and the pack to use. The man knew his father couldn’t make much anymore, and so he picked up on the slack and reeled in what use they could be. Aenan at least had the eye and know how still, but he could use and give neither, as he slept. It didn’t matter, Shiras was more than skilled enough, as well as able to do it.

There was an interruption in the air, one which caused Shiras to pause the knapping, and Aenan to cease his napping. The old man’s eyes shot open, and ears perked up. He stood and listened to the call, where as Shiras paid only a little mind to it, and then resumed, he stopped again when Aenan replied with a loud cry of his own, though Shiras nudged him with his leg to stop his father. “Why are you replying to a loner, dad?” he asked, unable to recognize the call that clearly came from the outside of their home.

Aenan was annoyed to be interrupted, but he didn’t bother to give his son a glance. “Loner? That’s Alena, Shiras,” Aenan told his son.

Shiras finally set down his tools and got up, hands on his hips. “How do you know that?” He asked. “How can you be sure? She’s been gone way too long, why would she show up now?” It was clear Shiras held little faith in his father’s young bride. His skepticism came from a good place, he didn’t want someone toying with his father’s heart, especially so with there being a limited amount of beats left. “It’s some stranger who wants in, I doubt it’s her,” he told the elderly Pyr.

“No Shiras, that’s her, I know it.” Aenan stated, and then took off in the direction of the call. Despite being rickety, his legs still worked, and they’d carry him to the love of his life, or he’d crawl there, should they fail. He was speeding off towards the love of his life and nothing could stop him. Not nature, not his failing body, not any one else.

Shiras leapt into action, dropping all the supplies he had and took off after his father. He wasn’t about to let his dad rush into danger. He was able to over take the elder, and threw himself onto the man. Aenan struggled in his son’s grasp and snarled. “Don’t be stupid, let the leadership handle it!” He shouted at his dad. “I don't think it's her, you could get hurt!”

The pleas fell on deaf ears as Aenan struggled in his boy’s grasp. The man could only result to one thing to become free. Teeth met the flesh of his son and dug in deep. He didn’t want to, but Aenan desperately wished to get to his wife. Shiras needed to let go, and did so once dull teeth crushed skin and muscle. Once free, he took off, without looking back. “Stop, don’t be a fool! Dad!” Aenan heard his son cry behind him, but the begging did nothing to slow the old man.

Shiras was probably scrambling to get someone in leadership to help, or maybe even the city watch. If it was to stop him, the attempt would be in vain. Even Lake Superior herself could not stop him from getting to the love of his life. He ignored the pain that shot through him with every step. He ignored the shouts from Shiras. He would find her, he would be with his wife once more.

The trek ran his body through the ringer. Mud clung to his fur as he limped near the border. The man didn’t stop, if he did, his body wouldn’t want to go anymore. He looked through the trees and brush, listening for another howl, cry, yelp, anything. “Alena!” He called, desperation in his voice. “Where are you!?” He continued to shout, as he struggled with sore legs, and a pretty powerful limp to his step.
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#3
smallAlena couldn't help but feel anxious after she had called for the New Caledonia leadership. Outwardly Alena was calm, projecting an air of confidence to keep her nervous son in check. Inwardly though, she felt as though her heart was pounding so hard it felt as though it could leap from her chest. Alena noticed how hard it was to keep still and not pace to and fro. She had been at a pack's borders once before, but this situation was entirely different. The sandy mother knew not to look overly anxious around Jacques or the leadership, but she didn't know how Aenan had stayed calm at the border of Mistfell Vale what seemed like years ago. Jacques paced impatiently, looking up at his mother with worried eyes. "What would happen if they turn us away? W-what if they don't want us because of..." Jacques let his voice trail off as they both looked at his missing limb. Alena shook her head and knelt beside her son, a dark hand reaching out to rest along his back comfortingly. "That would never happen Jacques. I'm sure if we just explain the situation, and that your father and brother are already here, they'll let us join without a problem. No one is so heartless they would keep a family apart." she said giving him a small smile.
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biggerJacques shook his mother's hand off and let out a heavy sigh. "But what's taking them so long? Wh-" Before Jacques could finish his sentence, he was cut off by a loud cry from within the borders. Alena quickly stood upright, ear and a half perking instantly at the call. Her heart lept, and all her worries vanished. "Did you hear that?" she asked in an almost breathless tone. Alena's stubby tail wagged madly as her vibrant green eyes scanned the forest. "Is that the leadership? Are they coming?" the boy asked excitedly. Alena shook her head and took a few paces trying to find a better angle to look into the forest quickly becoming restless. "What's going on Mumma? What does that call mean?" Jacques said practically bouncing.

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indent1Alena let out a heavy sigh and she turned to look at her son. "That wasn't just anyone Jacques." she said a large smile pulling at her lips. She couldn't blame the young boy, Aenan and Shiras had left when he was still rather young, and they had never needed to call to each other before now. How could she expect her son to be as familiar with Aenan's howl as she was? Alena's mouth opened to explain who the call came from, but before she could speak she heard someone calling her, as clear as day. "Aenan?" she said in a shocked voice. Alena could recognize her mate's voice anywhere. "Aenan?!" she called loudly. The calm facade quickly fizzled out, now replaced with excitement and happiness. Aenan called out again, and without another word, she raced along the edge of the border toward the sound of his voice. Jacques stood for a moment dumbstruck at his mother's actions but quickly chased after her.

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indent11"Mumma?! Mumma wait!" Jacques called after her. But this fell upon deaf ears. Alena continued to run toward where she thought Aenan's voice had come from. "Aenan! Aenan I'm here!" she called. Once she reached where she thought his voice had come from, she anxiously paced the border, eyes scanning the forest. She knew better than to cross the border, she knew it wouldn't make a very good first impression at all but she also knew she was so close to the love of her life. A small whimper escaped her as she faced her dilemma. She could cross the border and reunite with Aenan that much faster while making a poor impression on her future pack, or she could wait until he came to her. The sandy mother was torn as she paced along the pack's borders letting out small whimpers as she tried to decide on what to do.

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indent222Jacques had never seen his mother like this before, the struggle within her was quite apparent. "We gotta wait here, remember Mumma?" Jacques said as Alena continued to pace anxiously. A heavy sigh escaped the sandy mother as her gaze turned to her son. "I know, I know..." she said with sadness in her eyes. She wanted so badly to run to her love, to find him and be in his arms once more but she also knew she had to be a good example for her son. Ear and a half pulled back to rest against rusty locks as she let out a high-pitched whine, green orbs turning longingly to the forest beyond the New Caledonia borders.

WC: 809
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#4
Electricity flowed through him as he sprinted in a mad dash for his wife. Pain radiated and thundered, but the thundering of his heart in anticipation to see Alena again drowned it out. Aenan would not be able to keep it up, but he’d try to make it to his love before his body gave out. Gave out in the sense that he wouldn’t be able to run anymore, not after a long, long rest. No death for him today, he just desperately wished to be with his family once more.

He had Shiras, but needed his wife and youngest children with him too. Only then would the old fisherman feel whole. What was left of his life would be spent with his family. His family, the one he made, not the one he was born into. While always had the latter, the new needed to be nurtured, taught, and protected. No legacy could be made by an absent father, and Aenan intended to be in their lives at all times. Through good, through bad, through new life, and to his own end. Whatever life he had left in him, he’d spend it with and give it to his family.

Even his bones pleaded with him to stop. Cartilage worn away in his life left a very thin, very painful platform for them to glide against each other in places. That glide was now a grind, and though it hurt, he still ran, opting to limp so as to save his leg’s pain. Though with the weight taken off of one, the other received the brunt of him and his movements. Alena’s voice carried him further, it allowed him to ignore his body’s pleas to stop. Though his son's words made him wonder if it was all in his head. Even so, he had to know, he had to find out it was her.

He darted for the voice, slowing down as he carried himself. The pain was becoming too much, but he was pushing himself forward. Arthritis screamed, his heart banged on his old ribcage. The old man’s lungs heaved for more and more air, but their capacity was being met with every breath. Every step became excruciating, and even then he was moving forward. Only when the two figures graced his wide, searching eyes, did he stop. What left his mouth wasn’t quite a howl, not quite a yelp. A yowly yodel of pain and happiness erupted from his throat. Words could not make their way out. He finally allowed himself to collapse, the dirt in front of his face was blown out of the way by his strained lungs. Finally he could rest, his wife was just feet away, his son too. Susan had to be nearby.

Peace and pain filled his brain. Yelps and whines left him as he laid still on the ground. The man sounded almost as if he was stuck in a painful trap. One with spikes that pierced even his bones. That was just the arthritis though, the pained cries were of happiness and of physical hurt. While he wailed on the earth, his tail thumped the ground with such ferocity that if he was standing, one may fear he’d break it by the sheer speed and force of which it wagged. They were home. He no longer needed to worry; Aenan could once more be whole. He just needed to rest first.
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#5
indentFor a brief moment, life was perfect. Green gems finally caught sight of her beloved mate, and for that second, life made sense again but this was not to last. The perfect moment was only that, a moment. Alena's eyes locked where Aenan stood, only to watch the love of her life collapse to the floor. The brief elation quickly knotted her stomach with a horrible fear as Aenan settled onto the ground face first. "Aenan?!" she screamed in terror. Her heart nearly stopped and before she realized what she was doing, she was at his side. Aenan's tail thumped on the ground, but Alena was far too panicked to hear it.
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indentFearful whimpers escaped her muzzle as she knelt beside her mate, dark hands trembling over her mate's facedown form as she looked him over quickly. Alena looked at the earth that was being blown away from his muzzle and this calmed her fears somewhat. "He's still breathing.." she thought to herself. A soft sigh of relief escaped her, as her worst fears now disappeared. Jacques circled his parents anxiously, giving soft whimpers of worry before he spoke. "Mumma what's wrong with him? Is he gonna be okay?" the young boy questioned.
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indentAlena took a deep, steadying breath and gave her worried son a nod. "He's fine Jacques." she said, dark fingers running over her mate's back softly. Aenan was much larger than she was, but in their time back in Marquette, she had grown stronger. Dark hands carefully grabbed her mate's side and tried to roll him over gently. "Jacques, help me." she said quickly. Jacques nodded and began helping his mother. It didn't take either of them long before Aenan had been rolled onto his back. Alena looked him over, and her tiny nub of a tail wagged madly. Before they were finished moving her exhausted husband, Alena carefully sat next to him, moving his head onto her lap so he could rest.
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indentDark fingers gently caressed the fur along Aenan's face, wiping away any dirt and sand that might have clung to his fur. Alena's heart finally seemed to find a steady rhythm now that she knew he was alive. "You nearly scared me to death..." she said in a soft tone. "I almost thought... but you aren't, so that doesn't matter. All that matters is that we're together." she said still gently caressing his face. For a moment, she was entirely unaware that she was within pack lands as a loner, but she soon came to her senses. Ear and a half perked forward, listening for any other calls that might come. "Jacques?" the sandy mother looked at her son with a soft smile. "I know we called for leadership, but with the state, your father is in perhaps you can go look for them?" Alena suggested to her son.
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indentJacques looked at his parents, ears pulling back nervously at his mother's request. "But you said..." Jacques trailed off, and Alena gave a small nod. "I know what I said, Jacques. But this is different. Your father needs to rest, and I just can't leave him. So, go find the leadership and explain what happened, and bring them straight here. Okay?" she said in a stern tone. Jacques let out a soft sigh he didn't want to get into trouble with his mother, but he would hate it worse if his possible new home would hate him too for intruding. "Okay." said the Pyr son. Without another word, Jacques took off into the territory in hopes of finding help, and Alena stayed with Aenan, allowing her beloved some rest and a comfortable lap as a pillow.

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#6
There were strangers along the border. Tora could smell them, a couple of outsiders coming close enough that he had to respond. Traders looking to make a sale, bandits looking for prey, wanderers in need of directions, it didn't matter. New Caledonia had suffered greatly at the hands of uninvited guests so it well on the Councilor of Othas to vet all of them.

He had been tending to the horses in the Rhovanion when the wind blew the signal to ride in his direction, the aging samurai throwing a saddle atop Ares and taking off in search of the source. He was dressed casually enough in the soft cream cloak Calan had made, but his swords brought a certain seriousness to the ensemble. As opposed to their usual position at his waist he had stashed his weapons in a pair of saddle-mounted sheathes, not directly on his person but still close enough to be drawn in under a second.

Did normal people go everywhere with multiple blades? No, not that Tora could tell. But his paranoia had once again been proven prudent by the siege so he wasn't about to stop the habit. Hell, Caledonia probably would have been a lot safer if its citizens all kept a knife or something on them. A suggestion to raise to the High King, perhaps.

He heard the howl and adjusted his direction accordingly, throwing his head back to acknowledge the cry only to be interrupted by...Aenan's? Hmm. The old man was out of line there, his Elder status not granting him the position of doorman. He would have to remind the Elder to stay in his lane.

But any thoughts of a lecture were interrupted by the appearance of the Young Stranger within the Realm's borders. Tora's hackles raised and his anger flared, almost drawing his sword on bitter instinct alone. But the Young Stranger was quick to speak, telling the Councilor that his parents needed help and were seeking the pack's leadership for it.

Was Aenan the father? Or was the whole situation a set-up? Maybe, but it still warranted investigation. Tora followed the Young Stranger back to the border, his one good eye flitting about nervously for hidden ambushers. But all he saw was the Young Stranger, Aenan, and-

"Alena?!"

And so it was. It had been a long time since he had seen his adoptive daughter of sorts, and he had assumed they would never meet again with the dissolution of the Little Court. But now she was there in front of him with one of his new packmates, a ghost from the past. 

OOC: Wordcount 445
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#7
Blood thundered in his ears as his heart beat in his throat. Aenan felt sick, wracked with pain as Alena fussed a feared over him. He wanted to tell her he was okay, but his lungs were taking all of the air, not letting any be used for words. He only looked at her, and let his tail wag. Was that enough? It would have to be, the man was just happy to see her again, and Jacques too. But where was Susan? Surely the muddy-eyed redhead would have been at her father’s side at the smallest sign of something amiss, yet there were only two tending to him.

The man wanted to protest letting his son bring someone to them, but Aenan was in no state to speak. His chest heaves were slowing, but he was exhausted. He knew well that he overdid it, but he knew it! He knew Alena had come home. His eyes followed his son as he hobbled off to get aid. Aenan prayed whomever his boy found would be level-headed. The war left so many with missing parts that became filled with hatred and distrust against strangers. The old man felt for them, and their losses, but he was glad an old enemy had been vanquished.

After a while Aenan had gained enough composure to speak. “Alena,” he stated with a breathy whisper. “I love you,” the man murmured, and went silent once more. Aenan was alert, but boy did he hurt. His eyes remained on his love as fear bubbled up more and more. Some for his son who was straying into the packlands that had been ravaged by a war, and the peculiar absence of his daughter. He was hoping it would be Iomair who’d find his lad, the king would need to maintain diplomatic security, instead of some members of leadership who’d rather swing a sword than parlay. He assumed Susan wasn’t far, she had to be close, right? His little girl wouldn’t go anywhere without her father, she just wouldn’t.

It was excruciating to move, so he just laid there. Joints spent and muscles worked too hard. “I’m okay,” he assured his wife. “Too much running -- where’s Susan, is she here?” The man rasped, pleading with the powers that could hear him. He loved his wife, and his son, but he also loved his daughter. The sweet girl with a splotch eye. Her absence was felt even more powerfully than the pain he felt.

Aenan didn’t lift his head when he heard Torabera’s cry of disbelief. He instead tried to listen for his son. The reputation that Tora held was a fearsome one. A man of war and anger, surely he could have ran through a young stranger in need with his blade, instead of running to their aid. His child was crippled, posed no threat to the realm. Why did it have to be Torabera to greet his family? He couldn’t see if there was blood on the man’s blade, but at least he couldn’t smell it.

Clearly the swordsman knew his wife, though the old man did not know how, or where from. He figured those questions would be answered, so he remained silent, eyes looking for his children now.
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#8
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#9


Alena couldn't help but feel delighted as Aenan used her lap as a pillow. To know that their family was reunited after such a long time apart. She fussed over her husband, clearing his fur of any sand or debris that she could manage without causing any pain from the pulling or brushing. Her tiny nub of a tail wagged happily as her peridot gaze looked down at her husbands face. Her heart skipped a beat once he spoke, saying the words she had missed the most. Her stomach felt as if it had been filled with butterflies as she smiled down at him, clawed fingers combing through his fur gently. "And I love you." she said happily, causing her stomach to flutter once more. Silence fell between them, but it wouldn't last long. Aenan's mouth opened once more, trying to calm her fears about his health, but also brought with it the question she dreaded most.

"After we had to..." the mother said, her voice strained. Her brows pulled together as she looked down into her beloveds eyes. "O-once Jacques started healing and getting around on his own, winter had settled in and I had gotten sick." she said, shame painting her features. She was supposed to be the mother, the caretaker to her children. But she would have to tell Aenan what he had missed. "Jacques got better, and eventually I got better too. But once the snow started to clear Susan didn't want to wait any longer and I was worried about Jacques traveling so far. Susan didn't want to wait anymore, so she left." Alena let out a soft sigh, remembering the events that lead to her daughter leaving them. Ear and a half pulling back in sadness.

Her explanation was hopefully enough for her elderly husband, but before their conversation could continue Alena's ears stood alert once more the moment she heard the uneven footfalls of her son, acompanied by what she could assume was another wolf on a horse. Alena couldn't tear her gaze away from Aenan, though she continued to smile refusing to show how nervous she felt. Anyone who came upon the scene would possibly think the worst of her, having sent her son into unknown territory and having a pack member laying on her lap.

The stranger called her name in confusion, and for a split second Alena couldn't imagine how they would know her name. Finally forcing herself to look away from her husband, her bright green orbs turned to where her name had been called. Shock overtook her mind for a small amount of time, her jaw gaping as she looked up to the man on the horse. "Tora?!" she said with a gasp. How could this be? After all this time, how could it be that when her family reunited; it truly meant her family reunited? Extended, adopted, or just plain family. They were reunited now. She hadn't seen her adoptive father since leaving the little court to join Aenan in the wilds near Mistfell Vale. She smiled to her adoptive father and laughed lightheartedly. "How are you here? I thought.. I mean... Forgive me. It's been a long journey." the sandy mother stammered. She was truly happy to have her husband with her once more, and her children. But the unexpected surprise of Tora had thrown things over the edge.

"Alena's speech" "Jacques' speech"

OOC VERY SORRY for how long this took!
Word Count: [574]
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