“Non, You have that wedding here. Don’ wait for Everette or the Valley. We go that judge, get license, and you get married. We move you that Everette,” said Brian. They’d been talking about it for the better part of the afternoon.
“Marie, why you want wait?” asked Natalie. She was so tired and put it down to the long trip and the hectic pace.
“I want family, but I guess it better this way. What you think Andre?”
“I don’t care. I want to marry you and take you home. We can get married now and have a party in a few weeks. This way we can get you to Everette and then we can go to the Valley,” he said.
Marie thought about it for a moment. “What you think Libellue? You want move now?”
“I want you and Papa!” Libellue said. She hadn’t let either parent go farther than a few feet except for when they bathed and dressed.
“Aye. We marry and start that move. I don’ have much. Papa, you drive my car to that Everette?”
“Aye. Your Maman and me, we go that long way, no boats,” Brian said. He had been happy to find out there was another route. “Let’s go find that judge.”
Two hours later, Marie Davy was Marie Paquet. Libellue was asleep in Natalie’s arms as they drove back to pack up Marie’s house. It didn’t take long with the three adults packing. Most of the furniture belonged to the house. Rent was paid by the week, which simplified matters. The landlord gave Marie back her deposit as a wedding present. In less than three hours, the cars were packed and it was time to leave.
“We follow that Coast Highway. Meet you in Everette tonight,” said Brian. “Or, we get too tired, I find a hotel, call your house.”
“Alright Brian. See you this evening,” Andre said as they hugged and kissed goodbye. Libellue had kissed everyone and then snuggled into the cubbyhole between all the boxes in the back seat. Brian and Natalie got into Marie’s car and drove off. Andre and his family headed in the opposite direction.
By the time Brian and Natalie reached Everette, most of Marie’s possessions were unpacked and put away. They’d even had time to go to a furniture store and buy Libellue a bed. She was dancing around her new room to the delight of her parents.
“You unpack that car,” said Brian. It had been a long drive and he was tired.
“Of course. I have your room ready,” said Andre. “Are you hungry?”
“Non. We eat in that Vancouver. Had Chinese food. Very good, but different,” said Brian. Natalie nodded. They’d gotten lost and found a small cafe. The owner showed them how to find the highway after they’d eaten. They’d had a very good meal and the owner, had put far more meat on their plates than others they’d seen go by. When Brian had asked, the gentleman had smiled, put his hand on the table and let it shift. One second there was a human hand. The next, a tiger’s paw. Brian smiled, and let his fangs grow and eyes shift. The gentleman bowed and let them finish their meal. Brian told Andre about the shifter, but not about getting lost.
Andre showed them up to their room and said goodnight. Then he went to make sure Libellue was tucked in for the night. Marie was reading her a story. They finished the story and then went to bed. Tomorrow was going to be another long busy day. Papers to file, purchases to make and a whole new city for Marie and Libellue to get to know.
Brian and Natalie left Everette two days later. It was difficult to leave the new family, but there was a wedding celebration to plan for in just over a week and people to visit on the way home. Natalie had called Jenny to let her know what was going on and to start planning the celebration.
“You need me read that map?”
“Non. You tired?” Brian asked looking at Natalie.
“Aye. Too much this driving. All this packing, unpacking. I am not use to this.”
Brian pulled off to the side of the road near Spokane and Natalie got into the back to nap. He drove carefully and didn’t wake her up until they reached Quintus’ house in Kalispell.
“Natalie, wake up. We at Quintus’ house,” he said softly.
“Oh! I slept so long!” Natalie stretched and tried to work the kink out of her neck. As she sat up, Quintus, and Estelle came out to meet them.
“Maman! It is so good to see you!” Quintus said. He’d grown into a thin muscular man and carried the scar on his face with good grace. Brian and Jeanette greeted their grandparents with cries of joy. Estelle smiled from the porch.
“It has only been a few weeks. You think you not see us for years!” said Brian picking up his namesake.
“For us it is weeks. For them, it is forever. It is hard not to see someone you love,” said Quintus.
“Come inside and tell us all the news.”
Natalie, Brian and everyone moved into the house. Estelle brought tea and Brian caught everyone up on Marie, Libellue and Andre. They talked late into the evening and when the children started to fall asleep, everyone went to bed.
“Papa, is Maman alright? She seem ver tired.”
“Aye Quintus. This trip, ver long. Hell, it wear me out,” said Brian.
“Aye Papa.” Quintus hugged Brian and the two men headed off to bed.
The two weeks passed quickly. After the initial astonishment of Marie’s wedding and Libellue, everyone began to plan the celebration. Jenny, Tilly and Georgina tried to keep Natalie off of her feet although it didn’t work well. It was like Natalie couldn’t catch up from the strain of the trip.
“Maman, you stay here, mind the clinic. Jus paperwork today. We go cook that elk Papa and Uncle Kent kill,” said Jenny. She gave her maman a look that would have done Celia proud.
“Jenny, I stay. Jus don’ understand why I so tired.”
“Mebbe you nearly 60? Run round like you 16? Never take no day off? I do half what you do and am tired. Jus rest. We take care this,” said Jenny kissing her on the head.
Jenny closed the door and headed for the big cabin where Tilly and Georgina were cooking. She grabbed her apron and started on the bread that had been left to raise.
“Is she going to rest?” Tilly asked. After nearly twenty years, she still had her Devonshire accent.
“Aye. Don’ know why she so tired. I’m worried,” said Jenny.
“Maybe Andre can check her out when they get here,” said Georgina.
“Aye. Can’t wait see that Libellue,” said Jenny. The celebration was set for tomorrow night. Marie and Andre were due in later that afternoon. Quintus and family had arrived yesterday. It had been so good to hear all of the cousins yelling and playing in the big meadow. It had been fortuitous as well, for in the last day or so, three of the teens had shifted for the first time. Some of the men were out with them, while others hunted game for the tables.
“Hey! You always so quiet?” Lizzybit called from the door. She had Margaret in tow.
“Lizzybit!” cried Jenny. “When this one due?”
“Next March.” Lizzybit patted her growing stomach.
Jenny picked up her granddaughter and gave her a hug. Then she pointed out all the cousins playing out in the meadow. Margaret looked to her mother and than ran. Jenny smiled. “Good to see you. Did that Jelka and Alexander come with you two?”
“Aye. They talk with Kent and Brian at the mill. David is with them. I brought supplies from Calgary and plum wine,” said Lizzybit.
“Good. Now show us what you bring,” said Jenny.
The afternoon was interrupted by more arrivals. When Jelka came in with the twins, everything stopped. At eight, the twins were quiet like Jelka and it took a bit to get them to go out and play with their cousins. Jelka’s English had improved and the women chatted away.
Natalie came home once the clinic had finished. She greeted all the new arrivals and then was ensconced in a rocker to hold Alice and Jacque’s granddaughter Ann. Jelka was happy to see Natalie and the two women chatted while the rest worked. Children ran in and out of the door so much that people stopped noticing who it was. Whichever child came in was handed a sweet biscuit and then sent outside.
“Grand-mere! Grand-mere!” cried a soft voice.
“Out you go…” Jenny stopped mid-sentence when she realized that the tiny little girl was not one of the regular crowd running in and out. She bent down to be eye to eye with her and was astonished by the big gray eyes.
“Libellue?” Jenny asked holding out a peanut butter biscuit.
“Aye,” Libellue said with a smile.
“I’m your Aunt Jenny.”
“Aye. You smell like Mama. She and Papa are outside with Grand-pere.”
By this point, everyone in the kitchen had turned to see who had come in the door. Libellue gave Jenny a kiss for the biscuit and then walked over to Natalie and Jelka.
“Ah, Libellue,” said Natalie hugging her tiny granddaughter while balancing Ann on the other knee. “This is your cousin, Ann and this is Jelka.
Libellue looked from her cousin to Jelka and then stepped forward to Jelka and wrapped her tiny arms around the slightly startled woman. Jelka returned the hug.
“You are like Mama. Sad and happy all the same,” said Libellue.
“Aye,” replied Jelka.
“You smell like the big tall man.”
“Aye, that is my Aleksandr.”
“He gave me a prezzie,” said Libellue. She pulled a chain with a wolf paw locket on it out of her pocket.
“Aye. That my Aleksandr. Here we put it on,” said Jelka. A moment later, the necklace was on and Libellue was outside playing with her cousins.
“That one ver strange little girl,” said Lizzybit.
“Aye. Ver smart too. You think she read minds?” asked Jenny.
“I think so. She know before we get there that her Papa is coming. Scared the hell out of Marie with it,” said Natalie. She was smiling because once Libellue hugged Jelka, the woman had been smiling. “She’s magic.”
The party started out with Brian and Natalie thanking everyone for traveling home to the Valley. Then he picked up Libellue, who had become the darling of everyone she met. He let her introduce her Mama and Papa. After that, the newly shifted teens were welcomed. Then the congratulations, and conversations began as food was served.
“Such a pretty baby.”
“Glad you found her.”
“So good to see you again!”
“When did you get so old?”
“When did you get so rude?”
The conversations ebbed and flowed as people walked around visiting. Raphael, Tomas and Pierre began to play fiddles and accordion. Strains of Red River floated across the party.
“Marie, will you dance with me?” Andre asked.
“Aye.” She smiled and lead him out onto the wooden dance floor. As she dance to the Metis fiddle music, she watched the others dance as well. “Look,” she said pointing to Alexander and Jelka.
“Libellue is in their arms as they dance.”
Andre looked and then smiled. His daughter had wormed her way into everyone’s heart, especially Jelka’s. “She’s like Jelka and that other one they talk about, Wild Girl.”
“I think so. Grand-mere Celia would have known. Estelle is that same way. More wolf than woman. But what does that make our Libellue? More fae? Or more wolf?”
“I don’t know,” said Andre.
The music stopped so that the musicians could take a break. Brian stood up and asked for silence. After numerous bad jokes about wolves, sheep and Canadians, people quieted down.
“Marie, Andre, there is this cake these women work on. It needs cut. You think you can do that?” Brian asked.
“Aye! I bring my scalpel,” said Andre laughing. He pulled Marie up to the table where the cakes sat. On top of one was a little wolf and a Peter Pan. The movie had just come to local theaters and everyone had teased Andre by calling him Peter. Very carefully, the cake toppers were removed and Andre did pull out an old scalpel to cut the cake. He very carefully cut two slices. One for him and the other for Marie. They fed each other the slices without too much silliness and then began to cut pieces for everyone else. After cake was passed out to all who wanted it, the music began again. Marie danced with anyone who could snatch her from Andre. Granted, Andre had no lack of partners either. The only one more popular on the dance floor was Libellue. When she wasn’t in someone’s arms, she was swaying in rhythm to the music and smiling at Raphael or Tomas. When she looked up at Pierre, they stuck tongues out at each other and laughed.
“Ah, that was a ver good night,” Brian said to Natalie as they walked home. Jenny, Tilly and Alice were cleaning up.
“Aye, a ver good night. You want go running?” she asked.
“You feel good enough? Not tired?”
“Non. Feel ver good tonight.”
They walked into their crowded cabin with babies nestled down everywhere. It was like just after the war, only the children were bigger. In their room, they shed their clothes, shifted and leapt out the window.
Wolf ran. Neither he or his mate were fast. They ran up to their meadow and rested on the rock which over looked the area. Wolf nuzzled his mate. She licked his muzzle and nipped at his ear. He set his paw on hers and rested his head on top of her head. They lay down and slept.