When Goodwin called me into the nursery, yelling, I knew there was trouble. Goodwin almost never needed me when he was with the kids. He enjoyed the times when he wasn't working and could watch them, alone, while I relaxed for a little.
The first thing I saw was Raven in Goodwin's arms, her eyes wide with fear.
"Raven!" I cried. "Goodwin, what happened?"
"It was Jay," Goodwin said slowly, trying to calm Raven. "Raven took the shape box again, and, well... next second Raven was crying and there was this cut on her leg. But Jay didn't scratch her, or bite her, anything like that. I think he was upset, and used his power."
"What?" I said slowly. "It can't be, I never hurt anyone when I was little, and there were times I hated my mother so much..."
It dawned on me quickly.
"Of course! My mother was stealing my power from me. No wonder I never had accidents!"
I felt an intense pity for Jay. The rest of his life, from this point on, would be a battle for control.
We decided that Goodwin should be the one to talk to Jay. I wasn't sure I could handle it. I knew that when Jay became a child I would have to give him self-control lessons, but for now hopefully a few words about not getting angry would be enough. I didn't know what else we could do.
Later that night, Goodwin and I were laying in bed. He turned to me and said, a strange inflection to his voice, "I know this isn't the best time, in light of everything, but I'd really like another child Blue. Please, I'd love to have another little girl in the house- or a boy, if that's what happens."
I thought about it for a second. I'd always wanted a big family. More kids meant more witches and wizards- but it also meant a larger support network for whoever became the heir. Besides, Jay already had the hair. How much worse could it get? And I couldn't resist the look in Goodwin's eyes.
"Why not?" I said, smiling, and I was rewarded with Goodwin's most brilliant (and alluring) grin.
Finch was a very sweet baby. He didn't fuss, or cry too much. Almost as though he was too lazy to open his mouth and wail. He ate tons though. Though the youngest of my three kids, I always had the feeling he consumed the most food.
As expected, Goodwin was the most caring father I could imagine. He loved to snuggle Finch. Goodwin even dared put Finch up to his nose, because unlike the more volatile Jay, Finch never bit anyone.
The night before Raven's birthday, I watched all three children sleep in their cribs. All, on this rare occasion, peaceful at the same time. So different, but each so precious in their own way. Even now, there could be another on the way. The idea was surprisingly okay with me.
I was both excited and nervous for Raven's birthday. For some reason, it felt like a big step to have a child going to school. Would it really be so long before my children were grown and Goodwin and I were elders and-
Slow down, Blue, the Guardian said weakly, quiet even for a whisper. I jumped, gasping. You're not even an adult yet.
"Guardian?" I asked. "I-I-"
You forgot about me, the familiar voice said. It's okay, I expected this would happen. You no longer need me, now that you have passed the curse to the next generation.
"No!" I said, but the Guardian cut me off.
We'll talk about this later. You have children to think about now. I could hear the smile in its voice.
The next morning, still reeling from the Guardian's abrupt return, I brought Raven to the cake to have her birthday. I couldn't believe this was the last time I would carry her. On the bright side, one less person to make bottles and baby food for!
Not so shockingly, Goodwin was being, well, his usual enthusiastic self. I swear, the faces he made! This birthday, I was actually happy, so Goodwin's shouts and cheers were more amusing than aggravating.
I placed Raven on the floor, and gave her a small kiss on the head. Her face was, as always, a bit scared. "You'll do great, kiddo." I whispered.
I watched as Raven was consumed with aging sparkles. Then, she stood up and looked at Goodwin and I, most definitely a cute little girl.
"This hair," she said. "Yuck! What happened to those nice little ribbons?"
Goodwin and I laughed and went to hug Raven. It seemed so typical that in her first moment as a child she'd found something to worry about.
Raven was a wonder to have around the house, if not a bit of a strange child. Well, strange based on my limited experience with children, that is.
From her first day as a child, she insisted on reading the newspaper, and continued to peruse it every day, without fail.
I watched her from the window sometimes, watched her read until the sun went down, then fold away the newspaper, her hands fluttering worriedly, her face in the awfully familiar expression of fear and sadness. Goodwin thought that Raven was just a conscientious little girl, concerned about the whole world, but I had a terrible feeling that something bigger was at work...
Raven's first day of school was a big deal for everyone, and I could tell she was incredibly scared.
"Mom," she began after I'd woken her up on the morning of the first day. "Are you sure you got me everything? Notebooks, pencils, binders-"
"Raven," I said. "Of course we got you all the supplies!"
When her face didn't clear up even a bit, I leaned in closer. "You'll be fine, I promise. It may take getting used to, Rav, but I know that you're up for it."
I was right- well, partially, at least. Raven excelled at schoolwork, though watching the time she spent on her homework, I knew it wasn't effortless in the least. Her teachers were full of glowing praise, saying they rarely encountered such a self-motivated student.
Call me a worried mother, but that wasn't enough for me. It scared me to watch her on the bus, day after day, sitting by herself, while all the other kids chatted happily with their friends. Maybe Raven's friends were at later stops? I hoped so, wished I could know for sure.
I questioned her one weekend, when we were sitting down to lunch together.
"Rav," I began. "How're the other kids at school?"
"Okay," she said, a bit hesitantly to my ears. "But there's this one girl, Kasey. She, well-"
"Kasey?" I said, faking a nonchalant smile. "And what does she do exactly?"
Inside, I was seething. What little brat child dared bother my girl? I felt my power building up, ready to seek out this Kasey girl, when I reigned it in, quick.
I felt the usual shame in myself. Hurting a child, no matter how obnoxious she might be, would be a deplorable thing. And I needed to hold it together, to hear what Raven had to say.
"It's nothing," Raven said. Naturally, I didn't believe her. "She just laughs sometimes, when I walk by. And she makes faces. I just don't think she likes me too much."
"You ignore this girl," I said, careful not to display my true feelings. "She's probably jealous that the teachers like you so much. But if she keeps doing this, tell me, and I'll make sure her parents hear about it from me."
Raven's face didn't leave me confident that she would tell me if something happened again. I'd have to look over Raven carefully, ready to call Kasey's parents. I refused to let my daughter be a bully's target.
Then, finally, some happy news came through: I was pregnant again! The whole household seemed to be in a joyous daze.
"You're going to be a big brother again!" I told Jay, while he practiced walking. "Aren't you excited?"
Everything seemed to turn around after I found out I was expecting. Imagine my shock- and happiness- when one day Raven announced that she was going over to a friend's house. I was so glad she'd found someone to spend time with.
Zachary was a sweet boy, a great friend for Raven. He had a streak of fun that diminished Raven's fears. His parents were semi-famous actors from Bridgeport, but when they had kids they decided they were finished with that lifestyle and moved to Twinbrook. I know a lot of other parents constantly vied to receive invitations to their house, but I could have cared less that I never met them. It was much more important to me that him and Raven got along so well. Whenever I saw them, they were whispering and giggling, living in their own world of inside jokes.
I started to worry less about Raven. It took time, but she was growing into herself. She just needed to experiment, see what she was best at, find out who would be a reliable friend.
Almost every day, she rode her bike over to Zachary's, if he wasn't coming over to our house, that is. It reminded me a bit of how Goodwin and I always used to visit each other, back before everything got complicated. But Raven was young, and I doubted her and Zachary had any interest in each other that way- at least, not yet.
Time passed, quicker than ever. My stomach was getting bigger again. I knew somewhere deep inside that this would be my last one, and knowing that only made it more special for me.
I spent a lot of time with Finch as both the birth and his birthday approached. To Goodwin's surprise (and even more so my own), I felt no fear whatsoever for the revelation of Finch's hair.
Goodwin was always helpful, fixing household objects, working, and somehow managing to spend time with the kids also. Sometimes I thought he was the one with magical powers!
I saw him in the kitchen one day, talking with Raven. She was listening intently and looking very happy. I marveled at Goodwin's gift to put others at ease.
When he reached down to pull her into a hug, I could have sang. He loved her as if she really was his own. I decided that I would never tell Raven the truth. Why take away the best father she could ever know and replace him with someone as despicable as Justin?
Summoning up money for the bills wasn't always easy, but we managed. I longed for the day when I could return to work. Last pregnancy, I reminded myself.
In anticipation for my eventual return, I made time to practice chess. Best to keep my logic skills up, make sure I was never at a loss in a new situation at the hospital.
Holding Finch one day, my stomach so big I almost expected it to explode, I wondered what would happen in the days to come. I didn't know what the new baby would be like, how Finch would age, but somehow, I suspected the quiet wouldn't last for long. It never did, around me, really.
It's never boring, at the very least, the Guardian said. You've always been made for big things, Blue Bird, and your kids are no different. Your mother ensured that, but she didn't realize that it did more than curse you- it made you and your descendents strong, and special. It gave you the chance to change everything, for the better.
I was torn between smiling and groaning. The smile won.
Thank you once again for reading everyone! For next chapter, which shouldn't be too far away, expect a birthday, a birth, and more :)
Please comment if you want to tell me what you think, or let me know you're reading!