WARNING!!! A little rough language in this chapter.
For one of the few times in her life, Mathilda was at a crossroads. After many years, she finally admitted to herself she was secretly in love with Liam Kelly. She’d known him since he was a teenager. She’d been his teacher and he’d been a wonderful student. She marveled at how quickly he learned wizardry and had taught him some very advanced magic, the kind of magic she wouldn’t teach to just anyone.
Liam continued to study during his young adulthood, his power growing ever stronger. Then came a day when Liam told Mathilda he’d have to stop practicing magic, at least for the time being. “I promised my daughter and son-in-law I’d keep Lenora away from it. My Maggie and her Paddy were killed because Maggie was curious about the Dark Arts. I won’t have Lenora be tempted that way. She deserves a normal life.”
“I wish you would reconsider, Liam,” Mathilda said calmly. “Lenora could live a normal life and still have magic to protect herself. Not everyone becomes fascinated with the Dark Arts.”
“I can’t, Mathilda. Please understand,” Liam said.
“I don’t agree with you, but I understand your reasoning. I am always here for you if you should need me,” Mathilda said. She walked away with a heavy heart, knowing Liam had a fulltime job on his hands with raising a recently orphaned granddaughter. She would miss Liam and spending time with him. Most tormenting to her was that Liam was leaving behind the knowledge he’d taken in and the rare gift he had. He was also denying his granddaughter the knowledge of who and what she was, and that weighed so heavily on her.
It was years later when Lenora was thirteen when Liam got back in touch with Mathilda. Lenora lay dying from a curse her mother had unwillingly and unknowingly passed on to her. Liam sought traditional medical attention for her but was always told Lenora only had a few months to live. When the illness became unbearable for Lenora and horrible for Liam to watch, he finally caved and summoned Mathilda, who came right away. True to her word, she was there for him and came the instant she heard his desperately terrified voice.
Mathilda saved Lenora’s life, and that was the beginning of the very close relationship between the two of them. She also renewed her friendship with Liam and was glad he agreed to take up his magic again and tell Lenora what she needed to know. When Lenora showed a zest to learn and how quickly she mastered her lessons, Mathilda was equally as proud of her as she’d been of Liam.
For all intents and purposes, Mathilda was a mother to Lenora although she and Liam weren’t together romantically and she’d not adopted her. Liam never discouraged the relationship, and the three of them shared a special bond. During all this time, neither Liam nor Mathilda talked of a possible deepening of the relationship. She didn’t want to give her heart away like that because she knew she would lose him one day. Looking back on it, she guessed Liam hadn’t brought it up either for similar reasons.
Then, Liam died while Lenora was heavily pregnant with Landon. It devastated Lenora, and as always, Mathilda was there for her to the best of her ability. Both she and Lincoln did all they could to take care of Lenora during the terrible time of grief. For a long time, it had only been Lenora and Liam, so Lenora felt like a piece of her was missing. Only when Mathilda was alone could she give in to her own grief. She missed Liam terribly and felt his loss deeply.
Now, as she sat in acknowledgment of the feelings she buried deeply for so long, she felt Liam’s absence almost as acutely as she did when he died. She cried for a long time, something she didn’t often allow herself to indulge in. “You can bring him back. You brought back Lenora’s son. You can bring Liam back.” Those words played over and over again in her mind.
“But will it be right?” she asked herself aloud. “I brought Landon back for Lenora although I love him dearly as well.”
“will it cause issues if Liam comes back? You know how Lenora would feel, and you, yourself, would be much happier,” came the argument.
“Would he want to come back?” she asked herself.
“Ask him,” came the immediate response.
Before she could change her mind, Mathilda called upon Ariadne, the Goddess of Witchcraft and Magic, and asked her to appear. Mathilda had received a promotion after showing such devotion to seeing to Lenora’s healing. Mathilda’s powers as a goddess was increasing year by year, and she and Ariadne had become close friends.
“I know why you have asked me to appear, my friend,” Ariadne said. “I was never one to beat around the bush. My answer is yes. If your Liam wishes to return to this life, you must use your knowledge to see to it. If he returns, you are to restore his youth and give him the Elixir of Everlasting Life. He will be a great help to you, and his gifts will be of extreme importance. However, it is his choice and he, alone, must make it.”
“I understand, my friend.. Thank you,” Mathilda replied.
“You have asked for so little and have given up so much. It is high time you had a little magic of another kind in your life.” Ariadne’s eyes twinkled, and she gave Mathilda a genuinely happy smile. “Blessed be.” With that, she winked out as though she’d never been there.
Taking a deep breath, Mathilda did a spell to bring Liam’s spirit forth. “Why have ye called me, Mathilda?” Liam asked. “Is it our Lenora?”
“No, not this time, Liam. It’s about us,” Mathilda said.
“Us?” Liam asked.
Mathilda nodded and looked the spirit right in his transparent eyes. “You and I are a couple of stubborn old fools. We wanted to avoid pain so much that we denied ourselves something we both should have cherished. I’m going to say this here and now, so don’t stop me.” She paused to fortify herself, thinking how it was so unlike her to make the first move. “I love you, Liam. I have always loved you, but I didn’t allow myself to admit it.”
“You…love me?” Liam asked.
“I do, and I won’t be denying it anymore.”
“I love ye too, Mathilda. I always have. So many times I wanted to tell ye, but I felt ye deserved better than an old man who would eventually die,” Liam said.
At hearing Liam returning a declaration of love, Mathilda burst into tears. “We wasted so many years, Liam. We could have been together, even if only for a breath in time.”
“Aye,” Liam said. “But that still wouldn’t have solved the problem. Ye are an immortal, and my life was very finite in the grand scheme of time. Even now, I am limited in how much time I can spend here. Ye deserve better.”
Mathilda dabbed at her eyes with a hankie and tried to get herself under control. “I can fix that, Liam. I brought back Landon for Lenora. I can bring you back if you are willing. I know you are with your wife and daughter now, but if ever you wanted to come back…”
“I would still die eventually,” Liam said.
“Not if I made you immortal like me.”
“You swore you would never do that,” Liam said.
“A witch can change her mind and…and Ariadne insisted on it if you wished to return,” Mathilda said, giving him a tremulous smile. “I’ve been thinking about it so much lately. I would do it for four people. I would do it for you, and I would do it for Alina and Lenora, which means I’d do it for Tyrone since she cannot be without him. In turn, I think Lenora would want it for Landon and Crystal so she would not lose him again. So…I suppose what I am asking is this. Liam, please come back so we can share our lives together. I want us to love each other forever and never be separated again.”
“Mathilda, are ye certain?”
“I have never been more certain of anything in my life. I don’t want us to waste another minute. Also, think of how overjoyed Lenora will be to have you back. She misses you every single day.”
“With an offer like that, how can I refuse? All right, Mathilda, I will come back,” Liam said.
Mathilda knew she only had one shot at this before Liam would have to return to the Netherworld. If she did it just right, he would never have to go back. She got out the ingredients and prepared them carefully. Then, she concentrated on the spell and chanted as she worked over the mixture.
With a sigh of satisfaction, Mathilda eyed her handiwork. It looked and smelled like it should, but only after Liam ate it would she know if it was successful.
She set the plate before Liam, who began to eat. Mathilda waited almost breathlessly to see if her spell worked.
Immediately after Liam consumed the magical meal, he began to feel strange. He felt himself grow substantial in weight, and minute by minute, he became more solid. Where he once felt cold and weightless, a warmth spread through him, and the world came into sharper relief.
“Liam, you’re back!” Mathilda said, coming over to take his hands. He was still an old man, but he was a healthy looking old man.
“Aye, that I am,” Liam said. “I’ve forgotten how it feels to actually have a body. This will take some doing to become accustomed to once again.”
“You’re not sorry you came back?” Mathilda asked.
“Nay, my love, not sorry in the least.” Then, he looked down at his aged hands. “People are going to think I’m robbing the cradle when they see us together.”
Mathilda laughed and put a bottle in Liam’s hand. “Phase two ready for action. Drink it all.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Liam said before bringing the bottle to his lips.
Liam felt a quickening inside him, almost as if worms were wiggling throughout his system. The image was unpleasant, but he felt a tickling throughout his insides. He started to laugh as a sense of euphoria enveloped him.
The hands of time seemed to reverse faster and faster with each moment until Liam felt much as he did when he was in his early twenties.
When Liam’s system started to settle down, Mathilda took his hands. “There is one more potion you must drink if you are to become immortal. Are you ready?”
“I am,” Liam said, squeezing her hands. “We’ve come this far, so let’s finish it.”
And so, they did. Liam drank the second potion. This time, the effects weren’t as dramatic. He felt a slight burning sensation in his chest, his heart accelerated for an instant, and then, everything felt normal. Mathilda did a quick spell to make sure the potion took root successfully. “We have forever now, Liam. We have forever, you and I.”
“Forever,” Liam whispered. “I love ye, dearest Mathilda. I’ll never squander this second chance. I’ll forever be grateful to ye.”
“Don’t be grateful. Just love me,” Mathilda said.
“I do love ye and always will…always,” Liam said just before bringing his lips to meet hers.
The two spent some quality time together getting to know their newfound love. It was strange to Mathilda how it all came to pass, but she was so thankful it did. She now couldn’t imagine her life without Liam, and now, they had forever to share their love.
However, they knew there was someone else who needed to know that Liam was alive once again. “I am anxious to see our Lenora,” Liam said. “How is she?”
Mathilda smiled, her eyes twinkling. “She’s very pregnant at the moment. You know she has remarried.”
“Aye, I do,” Liam said. “I do hope he is treating her well and taking care of her.”
“Tyrone Landgraab treats her like a queen,” Mathilda said. “No worries there, sweetheart.”
“Landgraab, is it?” Liam asked.
Mathilda laughed and explained how Lenora and Tyrone got together. Although Liam had a basic knowledge of Lenora’s life, he hadn’t checked on her in a while and so was a little sketchy on the details. “I recorded the entire season. We can watch it together.”
“If I wasn’t immortal, I’d swear I was having a heart attack. I still can’t get over Lenora being on such a show,” Liam said.
“It took some convincing, but she did it and won out in the end,” Mathilda said. “Now, let me call her so she’ll know we’re coming.”
Mathilda did call Lenora, who said to come right over. She wanted to keep Liam’s return as a surprise until he could see her in person. In her current condition, Mathilda wanted to be there in person to see to Lenora due to the shock the pregnant witch was about to get.
While the Landgraabs waited for Mathilda’s arrival, Tyrone gave Lenora another much needed massage. “Ugh, Wolfman! Will they ever stop growing?”she said as his magic fingers kneaded her muscles.
“Probably not, my love,” Tyrone said, chuckling. “I’d say they’re almost ready to come out though.”
“Thank goodness,” Lenora said. “Landon was never this heavy. I suppose it’s to be expected for multiples. I…I just hope they’ll be all right. You know it’s hard to carry more than one to full term, and they can be very small.”
Tyrone held her. “They’re going to be fine. Mathilda is taking very good care of you and the babies, and the hospital is ready for you when the time comes. We’re going to have some beautiful, healthy babies. Just you wait and see.”
Lenora smiled at him, comforted by how certain he sounded. Tyrone’s instincts were always right on, so she didn’t doubt him. She leaned her weight into him while he held her and rubbed her back. A few minutes later, the doorbell rang, and Mathilda made her way inside.
They made small talk for a while until Mathilda grew very serious. “Lenora, sweetheart, I have something to tell you.”
“Is something wrong, Mathilda?” Lenora asked, her instincts on high alert.
“Nothing is wrong. In fact, everything is just right. Sweetheart, do you remember when I caught the bouquet at Crystal and Landon’s wedding?”
“Of course,” Lenora said. “You were quite taken aback since you didn’t have a boyfriend.”
Lenora’s blue eyes widened. “Oh my gosh! Mathilda, are you telling me…?”
Mathilda had the grace to blush, and she grinned while nodding.
“Who is he?” Lenora demanded, taking Mathilda’s hands. “Do I know him? I’ve got to meet him so I can give him the third degree and eventually my blessing.”
Mathilda’s eyes sparkled. “I’d say you know him very well.”
“Ye knew me since ye were a wee one just come into the world, my Lenora.”
Lenora nearly fell over when she heard the familiar voice. “Oh, Ariadne! It can’t be.” Oh, she’d missed that beloved voice so much, and now, somehow, she was hearing it again. “It…can’t be…” She shook her head as tears filled her eyes.
“It is, darling Lenora,” said Liam as he came into full view.
She looked at him, unable to believe her eyes. She recognized that voice, and she knew this was how he looked when he was a young man. She’d often commented on how handsome her grandda had been as a young man.
She rubbed her eyes, thinking the illusion would go away. When she took her hands away, Liam still stood there, tall, handsome, and strong. Lenora’s vision began to grey out and the world fell away.
Liam’s reflexes were always lightning quick as a young man, and it was clear he hadn’t lost his touch as he swiftly caught Lenora in his strong arms before she hit the floor. Very gently, he eased them toward the floor but cradled Lenora in his arms.
Tyrone instinctively started to rush toward his wife, but Mathilda held his arm. “It’s all right. It’s just a faint, I’m sure. Liam has her. She will be all right. Give them this time.” Mathilda’s calm, sure voice stopped him, but he was ready to spring into action if Lenora needed him.
Liam spoke Lenora’s name a few times as he held and gently rocked her. “Come back, Lenora. Come on, Lenora. Open your eyes for Grandda. It’s all right, Lenora. Grandda is here now.”
A few moments later, consciousness started to come back. She groaned and then a sob escaped. “Shhh, Lenora. I’m here. It’s all right,” Liam whispered as he smoothed some hair away from his granddaughter’s face.
Lenora’s eyes fluttered open, and she stared in utter bewilderment at the man holding her. “Grandda…”
“Aye, darling, it’s Grandda. I’m here now,” Liam said, kissing her forehead.
“I…can’t believe it. But…how?”
Liam smiled and continued to hold Lenora. “Mathilda, of course. She brought me back so I could be with ye both again. How does that sound?”
“It sounds…so wonderful,” Lenora choked out. “And ye look…oh, Grandda! Tell me I’m not hallucinating.”
“You’re not hallucinating. I’m here and I’m not gong anywhere, ever.”
“Ever? Ye mean…ever?” she asked.
“Ever,” Liam said. “Ye could say I’m now like Mathilda in a lot of ways.”
“Shhh. Now. We can talk about all that later. How is it now, sweetheart? Are ye feeling stronger?”
“Y…yes…I think so,” Lenora said dazedly.
Liam helped Lenora to her feet and then drew her in for a tight hug. “How I have longed to hold ye again, my beautiful Lenora. I have missed ye so.”
“I missed ye every day, Grandda. Oh, I still can’t believe you’re here! Landon will be so thrilled, and my babies will get to know their Great Grandda. I never imagined this would ever happen! Now, it’ll be how it was…but…” She felt a stirring in her empathic senses, then looked from Liam to Mathilda then back to Liam. “No way! Are ye two…?”
Liam laughed and hugged Lenora tight again. “We are.”
“Well, I’ll be damned! I knew ye two had a thing for each other all those years. I tried to tell ye both, but ye just shrugged it off. Oh, I could gladly wail the stuffing out of ye both. Ye two are so fucking stubborn!”
“Watch that dirty talk now, girl,” Liam said sternly.
“I’ll dirty talk if I want to. Pregnant witch’s prerogative,” she fired back.
Liam was silent for a moment, then they both burst out laughing. Mathilda joined them, and soon Tyrone’s wolfish laughing howl was in the mix.
When it was over, Lenora had a case of the hiccups. “What am I going to do with ye both? Well at least ye have a second chance, so don’t blow it,” she said in between bursts of abdominal spasms. “Look what ye did to me!”
Mathilda laughed and performed an anti-hiccup spell on her. When the excitement died down, Liam kissed Lenora’s cheek. “Can Grandda have a look at those wee ones?”
“Of curse,” Lenora said.
Liam’s face lit in a smile as he felt and listened to his granddaughter’s stomach. “They’re really moving around in there.”
“They always do,” Lenora laughed. “Tyrone swears there are at least three in there.”
“Och! Ye’re going to have a wee litter!” Liam exclaimed.
“I know. Our quiet place is going to become a total zoo,” Lenora said.
“Lots of wee ones for Great Grandda to spoil,” Liam smiled. Then, he turned serious. “Darling, I don’t like that ye fainted. I want Mathilda to look ye and the wee ones over just to be sure everyone is all right.”
“I wouldn’t have fainted if ye hadn’t shocked me so,” Lenora pointed out, but she was grinning.
“I agree with Liam. I think–” Tyrone said.
“Call me Grandda. Ye’re family now, after all,” Liam said.
“Okay. Well, I agree with Grandda. Best to be safe than sorry,” Tyrone said.
“Let Mathilda have a look now,” Mathilda said, coming to Lenora’s side. She chanted as she felt and listened to Lenora’s stomach and then smiled. “Everything is right on schedule. The babies are just fine and so is Lenora.”
“Thank goodness,” Tyrone said. “I was worried.” He could feel her through the bond and knew her fainting spell was just a short one, but he wasn’t taking any chances with his wife and babies.”
After Mathilda’s examination, Lenora burst into tears and hugged Mathilda tight. “Thank ye for bringing him back,” she sobbed. “I missed him so, and now he’ll be here forever. I can’t…I could never…”
“Shh, sweetheart. There is no need to thank me. Part of it was for selfish reasons. I guess this stubborn old witch came to her senses.”
“Better late than never,” Lenora sniffled. “Promise me you’ll love each other for all time.”
“For all time, I promise,”Mathilda said.
“Aye, I promise as well,” Liam said.
“I love ye, Mathilda,” Lenora said just before another racking sob came. It seemed she was always bawling these days.
“I love you too, Lenora. Oh dear! Your poor hormones. I think I’d better buy a couple of life rafts. We may need them.”
Lenora laughed through her tears and gave a watery smile. “I just migh tneed therapy after all this,” she joked.
“Well, why don’t you all take some hot tub therapy,” Mathilda said. “Don’t worry. I’ll put a charm on you and Crystal so you can enjoy it without worrying about getting overheated.”
And that was exactly what Lenora, Tyrone, Crystal, and Landon did.
While the other two couples enjoyed their time in the hot tub, Liam and Mathilda took some time to enjoy each other. Now that the two of them admitted to being in love, it was hard to keep their hands off each other. Liam bent Mathilda back for a passionate dip kiss.
“Ye have no idea how long I wished I could do that,” Liam told her.
“I hope it was worth the wait,” Mathilda said huskily.
“It was, but I’m not waiting any longer to do this,” Liam said.
Mathilda’s smile was radiant as Liam got on one knee and fished out a ring box. “Mathilda Blankenship, it took me nearly an eternity, a life in the physical world, and time in the Netherworld to figure out that I’m in love with ye and always have been. I was a fool for not telling ye sooner. My heart ached every day I couldn’t have yd, and I don’t want it to ache anymore. I love ye, Mathilda. Will ye do me the utmost honor and marry me?”
“Yes, Liam. Oh yes I will marry you,” Mathilda said, smiling mistily as Liam placed the ring on her finger.
For a long time, Liam just held Mathilda, savoring the wonder of her in his arms. “Forever,” he whispered into her ear.
“Forever and ever,” Mathilda whispered back.
With regret, the other two couples emerged from the hot tub. Lenora and Tyrone had been called to the theater to straighten out a problem. There was no choice but to go.
“Aww Ma, can’t they get someone else? Those babies could come at any time. What if they come when you guys are over there?” Landon asked.
“I’ll just have to go to the hospital from there. Don’t worry, sweetheart. Everything will be fine,” Lenora assured her son.
Landon just shrugged but still didn’t like it. “Just be careful.”
“I’ll see to it that she’s careful, Landon,” Tyrone said.
They had a few minutes, so each couple enjoyed some smooching before Lenora and Tyrone had to leave.
Landon’s concerns were valid, as Lenora did, indeed, go into labor while at the theater. Tyrone got her to the hospital, and later on that night, Lenora and Tyrone’s babies were delivered by Cesarean Section. Tyrone’s instincts were correct. Lenora was carrying at least three babies. In fact, she was carrying quads.
They kept her in the hospital for a few days to make sure there were no complications from her surgery and to make sure the quads were doing well. When she got the all clear, she and Tyrone brought their babies home.
Aurora is a witch and Jonas a wizard.
Andrea and Christopher (Chris) are both wolves.
Here is the nursery tour.