The Bloomer Legacy: 8.36 Move On

Pauline was having trouble sleeping. It was still dark outside, but she was wide awake. She slid into the garden, letting out a huge sigh as she sat down on the bench.

She had until sunrise. Until then, she wouldn’t have to put a brave face on for anyone. She wouldn’t have to do anything. Just be alone.

Or so she thought.

2

“The sunrise on this planet is quite spectacular, isn’t it? I’d almost forgotten.”

Pauline looked toward the direction the voice was coming from and froze. It was her mother, in ghost form.

“If only I could paint it,” Astrid went on, as if this was a normal occurrence. She sat down beside her daughter.

3

“Mom?” Pauline observed the ghost incredulously.

“You seem surprised. Do you really think I would have moved on before seeing you first?”

“I… I don’t know. It’s not like I’ve had a lesson on how afterlife works,” Pauline let out a nervous chuckle.

“I guess we’ll all find out someday, won’t we?” Astrid said solemnly.

“Right… so, err… what is it like, on the other side?”

4

“What makes you think I know?” Astrid replied, almost angrily. “I’m not on the other side yet, am I? I’m sitting here, talking to you!”

“Sorry,” Pauline muttered. If there was anything more awkward than talking to her mother, it was talking to the ghost of her mother. But at least she did have a chance to talk to her…

5

“I really am sorry, mom,” she continued. “I should have talked to you more. After you came to my wedding to make amends.”

“I didn’t exactly live around the corner,” Astrid shrugged. “There’s a reason I moved to another planet, you know. I wanted to be alone.”

“Were you… alone?”

“Yes.”

Neither of them spoke for a moment.

“Well, I guess I should go.” Astrid said eventually.

6

“Shall I, uh, walk you out?” Pauline cursed herself. What was the last thing she should say to her? “Why are you here, mom?”

Astrid looked up. “You tell me.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I haven’t moved on yet, because you haven’t.”

7

“I don’t want to move on,” Pauline pouted. For a moment, she felt like a child. “We never made up.”

“Aren’t we making up now?” Astrid asked.

Finally, for the first time since all the bad news had snowballed on her, Pauline let herself cry.

8

“I’m sorry things turned out this way, mom,” she sobbed.

“Me too… but it isn’t your fault, sweetie,” Astrid tried to comfort her. “Does this mean that you forgive me?”

“Of course!”

9

The ghost suddenly turned a vibrant turquoise colour.

“You’ve forgiven me!” Astrid smiled brightly. “And now you have to let me go!”

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Speak to your aunt; she’ll know what to do. Goodbye, my sweetheart. We’ll see each other again one day!”

10

And with one last wave, the ghost evaporated.

***

11

The two women arrived at the cemetery.

“So… you’ve done this before?” Pauline hesitated.

“Only once,” Yenn glanced toward Ethan’s grave. “Most spirits don’t need to be released, they move on on their own. Only a few linger.”

“Do you know why they’d want to stay behind?”

“I don’t think they want to.”

“I don’t get it.”

“They don’t stay behind for their sake. They do it for us,” Yenn said wistfully.

12

They looked at Astrid’s grave for a while.

“Do you think she’ll like it here?” Pauline asked. “I mean… she wasn’t exactly fond of Newcrest.”

“She did care about the legacy,” Yenn replied. “But it doesn’t matter. Her soul won’t stay here anyway.”

13

And with a deep breath, Yenn released the spirit.

14

The spirit rose up into the sky. Perhaps she flew all the way back to Sixam. Pauline and Yenn would never know.

15

“Thanks for being there for me, aunt Yenn,” Pauline hugged her aunt tightly.

“Always.”

It didn’t feel quite right for them to leave right away, so they sat down at the cemetery.

16

“You’ve been quite a rock for the legacy yourself,” Yenn told Pauline. “Your ancestors surrounding you would have been proud.”

“I’ve tried my best. But it’s almost time for me to pass it on,” Pauline smiled with relief.

“How have the ones before me chosen the next heir?” she asked Yenn.

“I’m not sure if they did,” Yenn shrugged. “Monty made Astrid the heir because he was afraid he’d loose her forever if he didn’t try to tie her to this place somehow.” She shook her head.

17

“My brother, Booker, became the heir because he had a clear idea of how we wanted to contribute, whereas my sister Chell and I just wanted to explore ways in which we could grow without being limited.”

“Do you think being an heir is limiting?”

“It doesn’t have to be. But I didn’t know that back then. I just thought of the burden.”

“You don’t look burden-free to me.”

Yenn laughed.

“At the end of the day, we never escape our responsibilities, do we?” Yenn drew inward for a moment. “Anyway… My father, Peter, said his father chose the heir based on how he and his siblings wanted to contribute to the town.”

“I like that idea.”

“Yes,” Yenn nodded. “Although, my father was the only one who actually expressed an interest in becoming the heir, so that made it all easier. And it was the same for us, Chell and I never wanted the heirloom.”

18

“Hm… I don’t think that’s the case this time around, is it?” Pauline asked. “They all want it, don’t they?”

“Yes. But I know you’ll make the right choice. Just go with your gut.”

“Even if my gut is telling me something my ancestors may not have done?”

“Especially then. We’re meant to move the legacy forward, after all.”

“Ok,” Pauline gave a firm nod.

“Does this mean you have decided who the next heir will be already?” Yenn was surprised.

“Yes. Yes I have.”

The Bloomer Legacy: 8.35 Weirdo

They sat in silence. Yenn wondered how many hits the family could take. She examined Pauline’s face. It was filled with pain. And suddenly, it wasn’t.

“The kids will be home soon,” Pauline said with a numb expression.

“I’ll fix them up a snack,” Leo stood up.

2

“I’ll go water the plants before they get here,” Pauline turned to Yenn.

It was as if Pauline was on autopilot. Yenn understood it. She was trying to be strong for the kids. But surely keeping it all in couldn’t be healthy.

3

Yenn, for one, could definitely not bury her emotions within on this particular occasion. Another Bloomer generation she’d outlived. One would think it would get easier with time, but it was quite the opposite.

Of course she had been heartbroken when her parents passed away. And the pain seemed almost unbearable when her brother and sister left her in this world. But much like Pauline now, Yenn had to be there for Olivia.

4

Outliving Olivia… now that was a particularly painful one. Liv had been like a daughter to Yenn. Yenn could only seek solace in guiding the next generation. It was a vicious cycle. Of course, Yenn had been dead herself when Liv’s son Monty passed away. So she somewhat cheated her way out of experiencing that passing. But now she was back, and hurting more than ever.

And it wasn’t just because Astrid was the fifth Bloomer generation that Yenn had witnessed dying.

It was because she felt like Pauline had repeated her mistakes. Not forgiving her own mother until it was too late. And now trying to hold it all within.

And so Yenn wept; to release the pain that had been stacking up for generations.

***

5

Inside, Hallie was shedding tears of her own. She missed home. Her mother’s music, her father’s laugh…

Of course, Pauline and Leo were lovely to her. Pauline would play the piano, Leo would read her stories… but they weren’t mom and dad.

“Why me?” Hallie whispered through the sobs.

“Why me?” A voice echoed from the other side of the room.

Hallie rubbed her tired red eyes. Who was that?

6

“Nothing ever goes right for me!”

Hallie stared at the sad clown in front of her with an open mouth.

“Who are you?” she asked, nervous. “And how did you get in here?”

“Oh no, and now I’m unwelcome here… but of course I would be. I’m the worst!”

“No, of course not!” Hallie said quickly.

7

“And I can’t even juggle,” the clown continued. “What kind of clown can’t juggle?”

“Uh… I don’t know much about clowns. Aren’t you meant to be funny? So maybe that’s why you can’t juggle?”

“But I’m not funny! You were crying earlier!”

“That wasn’t because of you. My… my mom and dad died,” Hallie’s chin started trembling.

“Oh no! Why is everything so wrong?”

“I don’t know,” Hallie said tearfully.

“And now I’m making you feel worse! I’m the world’s worst clown!”

8

This clown was the last thing she needed, Hallie thought. She needed to get rid of her, fast.

“I know what will cheer you up,” she said with fake enthusiasm. “Let’s play hide and seek! I’ll hide!”

“But I’ll never find you,” the clown welled up.

“Sure you will… just give it a try!”

9

Hallie snuck into Carly’s room. Luckily, her niece was already sleeping. She crept inside of the built in wardrobe and shut the door. Finally, she could mourn in peace. She started sobbing again.

“Hallie? Is that you?”

10

“Oh, hi Carly,” Hallie climbed out of the closet awkwardly.

“Were you crying?” Carly sounded concerned.

“No! I, uh… I was just playing in the closet!”

“Ooh, I just love playing in the closet,” Carly jumped out of bed.

11

“Sometimes I pretend I’m a dragon and the closet is my lair…”

Hallie watched her niece disappear in the closet and then emerge again, with her arms mimicking a dragon’s jaw.

12

“Sometimes I’m on an expedition to a world beyond this one, where you can only get to through the closet…”

“Right…”

“You don’t believe me? I’m going there right now!” Carly shut the closet door.

Hallie stood in the room for a few minutes, unsure what to do.

“And now I’m back!” Carly’s head peaked out of the closet door again.

“Ok…”

13

“Don’t mind her, she’s a weirdo,” Vito walked in.

“I didn’t…”

“Don’t worry, Hallie,” Carly laughed it off. “Maybe I am!”

“Why are you in Carly’s room anyway?” Vito asked curiously.

“Oh, you won’t believe it…”

14

“A sad clown?” Vito raised his eyebrows when Hallie finished her story.

“Yeah… she was making me really upset. It’s like… everything she says makes any kind of sad thoughts you have even more sad,” Hallie tried to explain.

“That sounds awful,” Carly shook her head. “You can sleep in my room tonight if you want!”

“I have a better idea,” Vito said. “We’ll all go in there and make her leave! There’s three of us, and only one of her!”

***

15

“This is the worst,” the clown cried out. “I’m supposed to make you laugh, not feel bad!”

“We’re sorry miss clown,” Carly pouted.

“I’m the worst clown there ever was, not spreading joy, but tears…”

Hallie sighed. Now all of them were feeling down.

“Clowns are meant to make children laugh, that’s why children love clowns…” the clown carried on.

16

“Well I don’t like clowns at all,” Seraphina entered the room. “What’s going on here?”

Everybody’s gaze immediately shifted towards her.

17

“Sera!” Vito jumped up. “This clown here is making us all feel sad. She’s saying the saddest things. It’s awful…”

“Huh?”

Seraphina eyed the clown up and down, and then glanced at her upset siblings and aunt.

18

“Who do you think you are” she said to the clown angrily. “First, you have no right to be here! Second, this is my family you’re bumming out! You better quit it! You’re the worst clown ever!”

19

“Why, I am!” the clown smiled, surprised. “Doesn’t that make you feel upset?”

“Me? No, why would I care?” Seraphina shrugged.

“Because everyone’s miserable in my company.”

“Yeah, you mentioned,” the girl was bemused. “Well I get why you would be sad. You’re a loser.”

20

The clown buried her face in her palms: “You’re right, I am just awful. This is awful…”

“You really are the worst clown ever,” Seraphina laughed. “I bet you flunked clown school!”

“I never got to go to clown school,” the clown broke into tears again. “It’s so…”

21

“Ok, enough with this already!” Seraphina started screaming. “I don’t care about your sob story! I care about my family, and you’re upsetting them. You’re not even meant to me in our house! Get out!”

“But… why am I not making you cry?” The clown asked, baffled.

“Why would I cry because of your problems?” Seraphina shrugged. “I’ve got plenty of my own. Now get out, or I’ll call mom and dad! I bet they wouldn’t want weird sad clowns in their house either!”

22

“You’re right,” the clown stood up and started to make her way for the door. “Nobody wants me…”

“That’s true,” Seraphina nodded. “And nobody will cry for you.”

As soon as she said that, the clown disappeared in a puff of smoke.

23

“How did you do that?” Hallie asked.

“Do what?”

“Make her leave! She wouldn’t leave no matter what any of us did! But you… she didn’t bum you out one bit!”

24

“Why would she bum me out? She was a weirdo. Besides, what’s up with the whole sad clown thing? So ridiculous!”

“I guess you’re right,” Hallie nodded. “She was a bit weird.”

“A bit?” Seraphina smirked.

25

“Ok, a lot,” Hallie admitted. “She was like, look at me, I’m a sad clown! Who cares about your problems, I can’t juggle!”

“I’m the worst! Cry with me!” Seraphina joined in.

26

The girls both started laughing.

It was the first time Hallie had laughed since moving to Newcrest.

The Bloomer Legacy: 8.34 Doll House

Hallie dragged her feet through the doorway. It all seemed like a dream, but not a good one. Her parents, her home, Windenburg… all of it seemed to have disappeared in an instant. She was in a strange house in a strange town, with relatives she barely knew.

2

“You’re with family, sweetie. We’ll take good care of you,” the woman told her.

Hallie knew Pauline was her sister, but she’d only really met her once, at Peyton’s wedding. And Peyton was her sister too, yet during the short time Hallie spent with her after her parents passing made it abundantly clear Peyton had no idea what to do with children. Which was how Hallie ended up here in the first place. She wondered where she would go next. Would she ever have a real home again?

Hallie realised Pauline was still speaking; “We’ve set up a nice room for you upstairs, why don’t you go have a look?”

3

Hallie opened the door hesitantly. The room in front of her seemed nothing like her own room back at home. It was larger and brighter… but it looked foreign.

And then she spotted it; her blue teddy bear from back home! Her heart skipped a beat. Maybe she wasn’t alone after all.

4

“Hi Hallie,” a voice interrupted her thoughts. “Remember me? I’m Carly, we met at aunt Peyton’s wedding.”

“I remember,” Hallie nodded.

Carly noticed her aunt’s voice sounded a lot more dull than when they first met, lacking its former vibrancy and energy.

5

“Yeah, I was the scaredy cat,” Carly attempted a joke.

“Now I’m scared,” Hallie let out a sigh.

“Don’t be scared of us! You’re gonna love Newcrest! And you get to stay in one of the good rooms, the only other bedroom that has its own balcony is Seraphina’s!”

6

“That’s true,” Seraphina walked in. “This used to be our playroom, you see.”

7

“We had a bunch of toys here, we’d play cards and don’t wake the llama; and best of all, we had a foosball table. We would play all the time,” Seraphina continued.

8

“And then you had to come here and ruin it,” she suddenly starting yelling.

“Sera!” Carly was horrified.

“What, she just gets to come here and take over our playroom? And get a balcony?” Seraphina went on.

“I’m sorry, ok?” Hallie threw her hands in the air defensively.

9

“I’m sorry you lost your playroom,” Hallie lowered her voice again. “I lost my mom and dad. I wish I didn’t have to be here. But I do.”

Seraphina didn’t have a comeback for that. Carly’s eyes welled up. She wasn’t sure what to say, so she turned her attention to her sister instead:

10

“I don’t know why you care about the playroom anyway, Sera! You always just ended up getting mad when you lost!”

“You… you’re the worst,” Seraphina said angrily. “I never wanted a sister anyway!”

11

“That’s ok,” Carly shrugged. “Hallie can be my sister instead now.”

She went on to hug her aunt.

Seraphina opened her mouth, and then she closed I again. She turned around and walked out of the room.

***`

12

Carly and Vito peeked into Seraphina’s room the following morning.

“Is the coast clear?” Carly whispered.

“Aye aye, captain!” Vito confirmed.

The two accomplices snuck in, and took over the doll house, giggling.

Vito picked up one of the dolls, speaking for it: “I’m Seraphina, I’m a silly doll who only likes pink and princesses, since I have no imagination…”

“That’s kinda bad, Vito,” Carly hesitated.

“But most of all, I like myself,” Vito ignored her. “That’s why no one likes me…”

13

“What are you doing here?”

Carly and Vito jumped up. Seraphina was stood in the corner of the room, eyeing them up with a cold glare.

“How… how long have you been here for?” Carly almost whispered.

14

“Does it matter? This is my room! And these are my dolls!”

“We’re sorry Sera,” Carly said.

“Yeah, real sorry,” Vito repeated awkwardly.

“Get OUT!”

15

Seraphina finished her breakfast and got dressed, but she still felt angry. She was pacing around the room. Why had everything changed so much?

First she was an only child and everyone adored her…

16

Then she had to deal with having siblings and the attention being divided… sharing her toys…

And now Hallie moved in and took away even that stupid playroom she had to share with her siblings in the first place. And those little brats seemed to hate her.

17

But who needed them? Not her! And she’d make sure they’ll never touch her doll house again!

“Sera, about what I said earlier, I wanted to say I’m sor… Woah!”

18

Vito stopped in his tracks. “What have you done Sera?”

“What do you think, loser?” Seraphina was pleased with herself. “Now you’ll never get to play with my doll house!”

19

“But Seraphina… now nobody will get to play with it. Ever. And those poor dolls…”

“Oh.”

20

The smile slowly left Seraphina’s face. Her beautiful doll house was ruined. Just like everything else.

And nobody liked her any better.

“You really are the worst sister ever,” Vito shook his head as he made his way out.

21

Seraphina felt the warm tears sliding down her cheeks. She wasn’t sure if she was crying for herself, the dolls or even for Hallie and her loss. Nothing was right. And Seraphina felt powerless against it.

***

22

“Looks like we got through another day,” Pauline breathed out.

“I’m proud of you,” Yenn said softly.

“Onwards and upwards, right?” Pauline forced a smiled.

The doorbell rang.

The two women looked at each other.

“Who could that be?”

“Maybe Peyton?”

23

But it wasn’t Peyton. Neither of them was prepared for what lied behind that door.

“What is that?” Pauline asked.

She looked over and realised her aunt was crying.

24

Pauline had never seen aunt Yenn cry. In her eyes, aunt Yenn was invincible. And now, strings of tears were pouring out of nowhere.

“It’s an alien grave,” Yenn told her.

25

“No,” Pauline said firmly.

“Yes,” Aunt Yenn’s voice was shaky between all the sobbing. “It’s your mother.”

The Bloomer Legacy: 8.33 Once upon a time…

“Today’s story is going to be a little bit different,” Leo told the kids. “Since you may recognise some of it from real life.”

“You mean, it’s like aunt Yenn’s stories about the criminals that lived in this house or ghosts?” Carly asked.

“Oooh, I hope it’s about ghosts,” Vito jumped up.

Leo wrote stories for his children often, and they always ate them up. Their excitement normally tickled him, but today wasn’t like that. He had a difficult story to tell.

2

“Not quite exactly like aunt Yenn’s stories,” Leo said.

“What about the ghosts?” Vito asked again.

“More importantly,” Seraphina interrupted, “is there a princess in it?”

“There most definitely is a princess,” Leo nodded.

“Awesome,” Seraphina beamed. “All the best stories have princesses!”

3

“Lame,” Vito rolled his eyes.

“What about if the princess had ninja powers?” Carly pondered.

“Do you want to hear the story or not?” Leo asked.

The children went quiet, all eyes on Leo.

4

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away…

5

…there was a witch that lived in the swamps.

“I thought this story was about a princess!” Seraphina pouted.

“Not only princesses have interesting stories to be told.”

“But…”

“If you keep interrupting, we’ll never get to the part with the princess.”

“Fine.”

6

The witch was young and beautiful, but she spent her days alone; brewing potions and practicing spells in her cottage. She did have to go to the market to stock up on ingredients for her potions sometimes.

7

For the most part, she didn’t seek people in the kingdom though. And she was happy that way.

8

Until she met the prince.

9

The prince fell in love with the beautiful young witch, for he’d never met a woman like her before. He asked her to share his kingdom with him.

10

The witch got scared; she’d always believed her magic was evil, and didn’t think she could share her life with a human.

11

Not wanting her magic to hurt the prince, the witch ran away from him, back to her house hidden in the swamp. She decided to stay away from the prince for good.

12

Her only reminder of the prince was a daughter born from their love.

13

The prince searched for the witch for months, but was never able to find her, and eventually, he forgot about her. He still kept going to the place where they first met, but he could barely remember what he was looking for.

14

What he did find there was a young princess, who he discovered to be both fair and kind.

15

The prince found new love with the princess, a love stronger than his love with the witch had ever been.

16

They soon married, ready to live out their happily ever after.

17

But the witch was watching them. In spite of her best efforts, she couldn’t stop thinking about the prince, and so she observed his life from afar.

18

Seeing the prince and the princess together crushed the witch.

19

Feeling heartbroken and betrayed, she cursed them. Perhaps she didn’t mean to, but the prince and the princess’s lives would forever be affected by the witch.

20

They went on to rule their kingdom as king and queen, and were good rulers loved by many. But there was one thing missing in their lives; the curse ensured they were not able to produce an heir to the throne.

21

Meanwhile, the witch’s daughter grew up in the woods, unaware that her father was no other than the king of the land himself. She grew to become a stunning young woman of quick wit and many talents.

22

But she was lonely. Wandering the woods one day, she came across a magic meadow.

23

The witch’s daughter was mesmerised by the beauty she saw, and the serenity she felt.

24

She almost didn’t notice a fae emerge from within a tree.

25

“Good day to you, brave half-witch,” the fairy greeted her. “I see you are fond of my home.”

“Your home is breathtaking,” the witch’s daughter replied politely. “But how do you know my mother is a witch?”

26

“I know many things,” the fae smiled. “I know your mother is the swamp witch who always hides.”

“That she does,” the witch’s daughter agreed.

“And I know who your father is too.”

“You do?” The witch’s daughter was in disbelief.

“I do indeed,” the fairy replied. “Let me show you.”

27

The fairy led the bewildered witch away from the magic meadow, to the peak of the highest mountain in the kingdom.

28

“What does it have to do with my father?” The witch’s daughter asked. “All I can see is the king’s castle.”

29

“The king’s castle has everything to do with your father,” the fae smiled, “for your father is the king.”

“The king?” The witch’s daughter’s heart sunk. “But if my daughter is the king, I’ll never get to meet him. Nobody would let a half-witch from the swamp into the castle.”

“Perhaps not,” the fairy agreed. “But I can help.”

30

A gold green light came from within the castle and quickly started to spread. Soon, the warm glow was surrounding them. The witch could feel her body becoming lighter as the light embraced her. She was transported into the castle.

31

The fae’s magic helped the witch’s daughter reunite with her father. And even the queen welcomed her with open arms.

32

Seeing how the magic of the fae made everyone’s life better, the witch finally realised her own magic didn’t have to be a curse. It could be a blessing. And with her realisation, the curse lifted from the king and the queen.

33

Although they were very old, the queen found herself with child. The king and the queen welcomed a new princess into the world.

34

The princess was full of life, and her parents cherished her. Sadly, their own lives were nearing their end.

35

And one night, the castle had an unwelcome visitor. He arrived alone, but took two souls with him when he left.

36

The orphaned princess ran into the woods to grieve. Crying, she could barely see the beauty surrounding her when she reached the magic meadow.

37

The fae welcomed the princess, eager to cheer her up. She was determined to take care of her and raise her as her own, now that the princess’s parents were gone.

38

But the task was bigger than the fae could have imagined. The princess’s grief ran deep, and the fairy was unable to lift it.

39

The fae realised she could not take care of the princess, for fairies are creatures full of light, not equipped to take care of human children with their worries and fears.

40

“I know where you belong,” it occurred to the fairy. “Follow me!”

41

The princess could not believe where the fairy took her. The swamps were scary, unfamiliar and unpredictable, surely filled with hidden danger.

42

The princess was about to run away, when a woman opened the door of the cottage.

43

“Are you lost, little one?” the witch’s daughter asked.

The princess nodded, too scared to speak.

44

“I know your pain,” the witch’s daughter said. “For my pain is the same. Your parents left this world before you got a chance to truly know them.”

45

The fairy watched the princess and the half-witch fall into a hug. Her own heart was breaking, but in a very different way. She knew that the princess and the half-witch needed each other now. Not to mention, the half-witch had a family of her own now. Children just like the princess.

And most importantly, the fairy knew that with the half-witch, the princess’s life would never lack magic.

47

“This is the worst story ever!” Seraphina burst out angrily. “The king and the queen are dead, the witch never got to be happy, and the princess has to live in a stupid swamp!”

48

“And there were no ghosts… or ninjas!” Vito added. “Maybe we could have a ninja come and help the princess?”

“We could,” Leo nodded. “That’s up to you now.”

“What do you mean?”

49

“Don’t you guys get it?” Carly spoke up.

50

“Hallie is the princess,” Carly said.

“Oh.”

“And our mom…”

51

“That’s right,” Leo confirmed. “Hallie is coming to live with us.”

________________________

Builds used in this chapter:

Simproved: Micro Castle and Unfinished Castle

wrathofcath: Beware the Swamp Witch

GothKittyMimi: Fairy Magic Mushroom Ring

The Bloomer Legacy: 8.32 Bad Luck

The ceremony was short and sweet – both Peyton and Grady liked to get to the point. But the guests may have still been a little bit misty nonetheless. Hard to say whether it was due to the gorgeous surroundings, or the way the bride and groom were perfect for each other.

2

Pauline hugged her father afterwards. “That’s two out of three daughters married for you,” she beamed happily. “Hallie and our kids seem to be getting along great by the way, I saw them all playing by the maze earlier.”

“That’s good to hear,” Paolo said with a strange sadness in his voice. “She’ll need friends…”

3

“What do you mean, dad?”

“Hallie is a little miracle, that’s for sure,” Candy told Pauline as she sat down. “But look at us. Two out of three daughters married… But we’ll never will make it to Hallie’s wedding.”

“Candy, how can you say that!?”

4

“It’s true,” Paolo nodded. “We probably won’t even see her through to her teenage years.”

“I will not have you two speaking like that! I won’t hear it,” Pauline clenched her fists.

“Now then, let’s not forget why we’re all here,” Yenn reminded them all gently. “It’s a happy day today. And it’s not about any of us.”

“You’re right,” Pauline sighed. “I’m sorry.”

5

“Hey guys,” the bride greeted them with blissful ignorance. “What are you talking about?”

“We’re being old and boring,” Paolo told her brightly. “Now, shall we get this party started?”

“It’s about time!” Peyton nodded happily.

6

The newlyweds tossed out the portable DJ set and bar, reminding everyone once again that this was no typical princess wedding. All the guests, old, young, and young in spirit started dancing.

Seraphina didn’t approve. Her wedding here would be way classier!

“Hey, look at that!” her aunt Hallie pointed towards the piano.

7

“It’s flying!”

“Ugh, it’s those pesky ghosts, isn’t it?” Seraphina made a long face.

“Why do you hate ghosts so much?”

“The ruin the fairy tale!”

“Fairy tales can have ghosts in them! And there can be fairy tales about ghosts too,” Hallie objected. “You’d think with our family history you’d know that…”

8

“OUR family history?” Seraphina’s eyes narrowed. “You mean MY family! You’re not even a Bloomer! What do you know?”

“Are you always this mean?”

“Are you always this lame?”

Hallie gave up. “Let’s find the others…”

9

Vito watched the mist fill the labyrinth entrance. “Cool.”

“Vito!” Carly caught up to her brother, out of breath.

10

“Weren’t you listening to the ghosts? They sad it’s bad luck to go to the maze at night!” she scolded him.

“Lady Mimsy admitted she was lying,” Vito shrugged.

“I don’t think she ever did, it was just Hallie who said she was lying.” Carly corrected him. “And I’m pretty sure Hallie wasn’t there when they died, so how would she know!”

“You’re a scaredy cat…”

11

“I know, right?” A boy with angelic blonde hair emerged from the mist.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Louis, I was at the wedding… though you wouldn’t have seen me there, I guess. I was busy searching the attic.”

“You managed to get into the attic?” Vito was impressed.

12

“Are you some weird sort of a ghost too?” Carly’s eyes widened in disbelief.

“You really are a scaredy cat,” Louis laughed. “I’m no ghost! Ask your parents. My mom’s name is Starr and my dad’s name is Davion, I’m pretty sure your mom knows them!”

13

“Don’t mind her,” Vito told him. “Normally us Bloomers are pretty brave.”

“Prove it! I challenge you to go in the maze!”

“I don’t know about this, Vito,” Carly pleaded with her brother.

14

“We’ll do it!” Seraphina cried out.

“When did you get here?”

“Does it matter? Nobody mocks the Bloomer family… or puts them to shame,” she glared at her sister.

“Ok,” Carly sighed. “Let’s do this.”

15

“It’s not very nice how you’re treating them,” Hallie scolded Louis before going into the labyrinth. “It’s not their fault they don’t know the maze as well as we do, they’re not from here!”

“Nice shmice,” Louis dimissed her.

16

“Relax, it’s all just fun,” he said when the girl kept frowning. “They won’t get lost in the maze, we’re locals and we’re with them.”

“I guess…”

17

“Ok, let’s go in then.”

“To the left!”

“To the right”

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Hallie said nervously.

“Relax, I’m just messing with you. We’ve got this!”

18

“Quit following me, loser! Find your own way!” Seraphina growled.

“I’m just making sure you don’t get lost.”

“Whatever you need to tell yourself…”

19

“I wouldn’t go that way if I were you,” Louis told Vito nonchalantly. “Or do… and see what’s there for yourself.” He laughed.

Vito stood still for a moment. Maybe he should have listened to Carly…

20

“Seraphina!” He exclaimed. “How did you come from there? I was just about to go that way!”

“And I was just about to go your way… hm…”

21

“Guys, you’re ok!” Carly peeked in from another exit. “I thought I’ve lost everyone…”

“Just follow me you guys,” Hallie said with a sigh.

“But Louis said…”

“Louis has no clue where he’s going!”

22

“See, we made it! I told you it was a piece of cake,” Louis announced when the children finally reached the exit.

23

“Yeah, right?” Vito joined in. “You’re always so silly Carly! We had it all along!”

“You so didn’t! None of us did,” Carly shook her head. “Well, maybe apart from Hallie. We’re lucky she’s our aunt.”

24

“I only do what mom and dad say! I think our aunt is cool! I don’t deserve to be a Bloomer!” Seraphina imitated Carly’s voice.

“Hey, cut it out Sera,” Vito yelled at her. “That’s not teasing, that’s just being nasty!”

“Like I’ll let a baby lecture me!” Seraphina snapped back.

25

“Now, what do we have here?”

“Mom?”

Oddly, it was Louis who seemed the most panicked.

26

“Louis McGuire-Wood, are you meddling again?” Starr said to her son angrily “I haven’t seen you all day!”

“I was just playing… it’s them that got all intense…”

“We’ll talk about this at home! We’ll have plenty of time, since you’re grounded!”

“Mo-om!”

27

“Same goes for you guys,” Pauline told her children. “As for you Hallie, your mom and dad have been worried sick about you! Let’s see what they have to say…”

Pauline led Hallie away, while Starr dragged Louis the other direction.

28

“Ok then kids, let’s head home,” Leo told his son and daughters. “You don’t want to get in more trouble with mom then you already are, do you? I know I don’t!”

The siblings followed their father in defeat, catching a glimpse of the ghost lord passing by.

“I told you going to the maze at night was bad luck,” the ghost informed them.

29

The Bloomer Legacy: 8.31 Princess

“It’s a princess palace!”

“It’s a wizard’s castle!”

“It’s a haunted mansion!”

“All of you are right in a way,” Pauline told her children, amused.

2

“The Von Haunt Chateau did have a noble lady and gentleman living here, kind of like a prince and a princess,” she nodded to Seraphina. “But there’s definitely a certain magic tied to the place, Carly. But the last guess may have been the most accurate – there are legends that the manor is indeed haunted,” Pauline winked at Vito as she finished her speech.

“Cool,” all three children said in unison.

“More importantly, it’s the venue for aunt Peyton’s wedding!”

The children didn’t seem quite as impressed with the last statement.

“Ok,” Vito shrugged. “Let’s go s’ploring!”

3

“You look amazing,” Grady complimented his fiancé.

“Isn’t it bad luck for the groom to see the bride?” Peyton arched an eyebrow.

“Since when are you superstitious?”

4

“Good point,” Peyton laughed. “So what are the acceptable norms about kissing the groom before the ceremony?”

“Ready to be broken!”

5

“If it isn’t the couple of the hour,” Leo greeted the husband and wife to be.

“Who would have thought you of all people would go for the princess wedding,” Pauline teased.

“You know me, ever the romantic,” Peyton said dryly.

6

“I guess every little girl from Windenburg dreams of getting married in here, somewhere on a subconscious level,” Peyton continued with a grin.

And by the looks of it, the rule didn’t only apply to girls from Windenburg. Seraphina was in love with the castle already.

7

She decided that she’d have her own princess wedding here one day – of course, even more grand and impressive than this one.

8

Meanwhile, the old wood inside the mansion croaked under Carly’s feet as she explored one room after another. Was the house really haunted? And if so, why? Carly had so many questions…

9

“Boo!” A figure emerged behind her.

“Vito!” she scolded her brother once she recovered from the shock. “This isn’t funny!”

“I thought it was,” Vito giggled sheepishly.

“What if there is really a ghost here, and you offended them?”

“Or what if I just made them interested in coming out and meeting us?”

Carly shivered. “Is that a good idea?

“Worth a shot,” Vito shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry. I’ve scowered the whole place and found nothing. There’s no ghosts here.”

10

“I’m pretty sure there is,” A little blonde girl joined them in the room. “I’ve met them plenty of times. They’re nice. And they’re in loooove. Like Peyton and Grady.”

“Why should we trust you?” Vito asked sceptically.

“And how do you know aunt Peyton?” Carly added.

11

“I’m Hallie,” the girl introduced herself. “And you should trust me because I’m from Windenburg, so I know everything about the chateau! Or because I’m your aunt. That’s why I know Peyton. She’s my half-sister. And so is your mom!”

“Oh, I thought you were a baby or something,” Carly said.

“I’m older than you!” Hallie reminded her. “And I’m definitely older than Vito!”

“I guess if she’s our aunt she would know more than us, right?” Vito hesitated.

“Only one way to find out,” Carly decided. “Lead us to the ghost, Hallie. Wait, let’s get Seraphina on the way. If there is a ghost, she wouldn’t want to miss it!”

12

The Bloomer siblings were so eager to see the truth they almost left their guide behind.

“Keep heading that way, to the right and then left,” Hallie was shouting out instructions from the back. “They’re usually by the entrance to the maze!”

13

“Right, then left,” Seraphina repeated. “Well you must be insane Hallie, since I can see the maze entrance and there definitely is no…”

14

“…ghost.”

Seraphina stopped in shock, causing her brother and sister to bump into her by accident.

“I told you,” Hallie finally caught up with a victorious grin. “Hi Lady Mimsy!”

15

“Nice to see you again, Hallie. Who are your friends?” the ghost acknowledged them.

“They’re my nieces and nephew,” Hallie explained excitedly. “I’m showing them the castle secrets, like you!”

“I’m not a very well-kept secret,” the ghost laughed. “Everyone knows I’m here!”

“But not everyone believes!”

“How did you die, Mrs Ghost? Sorry,” Vito corrected himself.

“You see the maze behind you, boy?” Lady Mimsy said in her best earie voice.

16

All of their gazes turned towards the huge labyrinth surrounding them.

“I wandered the maze on my own one night, and I got lost forever. And so I died, cursing the place… anyone who enters the maze at night after my untimely death will die in the maze, just like I did!”

17

The Bloomer children looked at each other nervously.

“She’s just kidding,” Hallie assured them. “The maze isn’t cursed. Everyone in Windenburg knows Lady Mimsy and her husband died in a fire he caused when he burnt his painting…”

18

“It wasn’t one of my best moments,” the lord’s ghost joined the group. “Though I’d suggest that you listen to my wife, it definitely is bad luck to enter the maze after nightfall.”

Seraphina crinkled her nose. This was getting ridiculous.

19

“That’s it!” She burst out. “You ghosts are ruining my perfect princess castle! You should leave!”

“But Seraphina, this is their home,” Hallie jumped in.

“Don’t interrupt me! You think you’re so smart just because you’re from Windenburg? Well guess what, I’m the princess of Newcrest! I’m the oldest one, so I’ll definitely be the heir, and when I grow up, I will rule Newcrest like my own kingdom! And you? What are you? My aunt? Pfft!”

Seraphina turned her anger towards the ghosts:

“And you, you better not be here when I grow up either! I’m going to have my princess wedding here when I grow up, and I don’t want any ghosts ruining it!”

20

“Do you have a prince in mind, for the wedding?” the ghost smiled, not acknowledging Seraphina’s tone.

“A prince? I don’t need a prince to rule!”

“Not to rule, but you definitely need one to have a wedding,” the ghost shrugged. “I hope he loves you as much as my husband loves me. Though judging by your attitude, that might be quite… tricky.”

Seraphina was fuming. Carly wondered if it was possible for fire to come out of human’s nostrils – since her sister definitely didn’t seem far from spewing some.

21

“Kids, the ceremony’s starting!” Pauline’s voice called out to them from the distance.

“Well it was nice to meet you, Mrs Ghost,” Vito broke off the awkwardness. “But we need to go watch a boring wedding now. I hope you have a nice time being dead… like, for reals. That wasn’t meant to be mean, I promise…”

“Let’s go, Vito,” Carly shook her head.

The ghost watched the children walk towards the chateau. This was promising to be a fun evening.

Spirit Animal Award

I’ve been nominated for the Spirit Animal Award – times three! The first nomination came from the delightful Ninjapigsims, the writer behind the lovable Alondra of Project L.E.G.A.C.Y. Ninjapig has also recently started a new legacy about the infamous Goth family (and also has more than another handful of stories on the go!).

I have also been nominated by the lovely Derubelle! Her Life is for the Living Story is currently on a bit of a hiatus, but she pinky swear promised to bring it back soon.

Last but definitely not least, I have also received a nomination from the amazing JoieWilder. Joie is best known for her Thoreau Legacy, a story I’m hopelessly addicted to, and also writes two casual stories, Crazy Town and The More the Wilder to “unwind”.

Huge thanks for all of the nominations!

On to the rules:

1. Post the award picture on your blog.
2. Write a short paragraph about yourself and what your blog means to you.
3. If you could be any animal, what would you be?
4. Pick ten nominees

About me

I’m 28-year-old Czech girl (wait, do I have to say woman now that I’m nearly 30? Nah, I’m sticking with girl) living in the sunny Northern England. I live in a messy house with my boyfriend and three goldfish who are treated like royalty; their fish tank was actually intended for tropical fish. My job mainly involves writing web content and other comms, topped off with a bunch of randomness. In my spare time I like to play games (duh), get addicted to TV shows, sample craft beers and avoid going to the gym.

Now on to the simlit part (does anybody ever really stick to just one paragraph?).

I’ve been playing sims for about 15 years on and off. That’s more than half my life, so yes, the game’s had a huge impact on me. Ever since generational gameplay was introduced, I’ve gravitated to legacy-style gameplay (although I have yet to complete a single one!).

I started reading simlit back in TS2 days, when everything was still on the story exchange. The stories back then were hilarious, anyone who’s been around probably still remembers Don, the grilled-cheese obsessed zombie from Candi’s Uglacy.  While I’ve been reading simlit for all these years, I was very much the silent lurker and never really attempted writing my own. That changed last year when I quit a job I hated and suddenly found myself with a lot of time on my hands. And so the Bloomer Legacy was born.

What my blog means to me (yep, still going)

When I was unemployed, the Bloomers helped keep me sane. Now I just keep going at it because I love it. While I’m lucky enough to get to write at work, this blog is my true creative outlet since I get to do whatever the plum I want rather than following someone else’s agenda. I used to write a lot when I was younger, but when “real life” took over, writing faded away from my life. Writing simlit has reignited this passion, and hopefully improved my skills along the way. All the while having a blast.

I know a lot of simlit writers say they miss “just playing”. For me that’s never been the case, since I haven’t really changed the way I play. I just share it now. So if you’ve ever thought of sharing your own stories from your own gameplay (I’m looking at you, silent readers!) … just do it! I promise it only make it all the more enjoyable.

My spirit animal

Well, I checked back with my ultra long Liebster Award post since I’d gotten this question before, and this is what I said: Something that flies. A quiz I took said I’m a butterfly, but they creep me out a little. So I’d say some kind of a bird. Hopefully a colourful one! I think I’m sticking with that one!

My nominations

Since it took me forever to write this post, most of the people below have already been nominated. Still, they deserve a shoutout! (Also, I’m not repeating any nominations from my Liebster Award post in the interest of fairness, but would still highly recommend checking all of those out too if you’re looking for a good read!)

I nominate…

A Rose in Bloom
Sabreene
Jes2G
Raerei
Ren
Sterretjeee
Pammiechick
Maladi
Zoey95
CathyTea

The Bloomer Legacy: 8.30 One Last Return

Of all places in Newcrest, scratch that, all places in the world, Yenn had never thought she would end up living here. But it made sense. With three kids now running around, Pauline and Leo needed a large family home. And it just happened to be the case this particular one was the largest house in town.

2

Of course, Lollipop Lair was barely recognisable as the one time home of evil mastermind plots. The previous owners had taken care of that. Now it was just up to the Bloomer household to put their own spin on things.

3

“Aunt Yenn, aunt Yenn, what’s my room like?” Seraphina interrupted Yenn’s stream of though, impatient.

“Why don’t you go inside and have a look?” The old woman smiled. “It’s upstairs, first one on the left – can’t miss it.”

4

Seraphina entered the building. She looked around the spacious hallway. So far so good, she thought.

5

A smile spread across her face as soon as she opened the door to her room. This was definitely to her liking. And she even had a balcony. This better be the best room in the house!

6

“So what do you think Vito, should we explore?” As the middle child, Carly was always eager to please.

“Let’s check out the garden,” Vito, the youngest, nodded his head in agreement.

7

“Woah, this is humongous!”

“And we still have a pool!”

“And monkey bars!”

“And… are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

8

“A pirate ship!” They both yelled out in unison.

As they came closer, the siblings saw Seraphina on the playground.

9

“I’m already ahead of you, losers!”

10

Meanwhile, Pauline slipped onto the seat of in front of her brand new piano. New being a relative term.

“I’ve always wanted a vintage piece like this,” she said with a satisfied grin.

11

Leo watched his wife delve into a concerto with quiet appreciation for a moment. But he couldn’t resist; the other side of the room was calling him.

12

According to Leo, the kitchen was the heart of the home. It was definitely going to be his domain, that much was certain.

Though he also knew he would enjoy the little reading nook he’d set up under the stairs.

13

Yenn approved of the setup too. It was hard to imagine the place all ominous, in Cassiel’s time. This shouldn’t be too bad, she figured.

14

After all, all Yenn needed to feel at home was placing her photos around the place.

15

Not to mention, this was as close as she’d ever get to her biological mother.

***

16

“Wee! This house is the best!” Carly exclaimed after bouncing off the slide.

“I know, right?” Vito joined in.

17

“You silly little things,” Seraphina shook her head. “How can you know? I for the record know that I’ve got the best room, so I could say something like that, but the two of you? Nuh-uh!”

18

“What? You’ve seen your room already?”

“Of course,” Seraphina giggled dismissively. “It’s the best one in the house. But I told you that already!”

19

The sibling trio rushed upstairs; Carly and Vito needed to see how their rooms would compare. As for Seraphina… well, she wanted to check the exact same thing.

20

“Hey little ones, slow down,” the children heard their father’s voice as they dashed to the new rooms.

21

“Wouldn’t want you tripping over on the very first day in the new home…”

Leo shook his head. None of the children were listening.

22

But who was he kidding? He was far too distracted for any parenting today. The new house was brilliant. He was just as eager to play in it as the kids were.

He started typing away the brand new recipe he came up with on the way there.

23

This wasn’t half bad, Vito figured. As long as the room had a drawing table and a violin, he was pleased. Not that those things were ever a worry. Pauline was thrilled that at least one of her children shared her love of all things creative.

24

“This is pretty cool!” Carly beamed. Seraphina looked around, evaluating her sister’s room.

“Pfft, not as cool as mine!”

“Well I like it,” Carly shrugged happily.

25

“You’re just jealous your room isn’t pink!” Seraphina hissed.

“I don’t even like pink!”

I have a balcony!”

26

“And I have a chess set… and dragons!”

“Nerd!”

“What’s your problem?”

“Hey guys,” their brother’s voice interrupted the fight. “You should come check this out. I found the actual best room in the house!”

27

The two girls joined Vito in the last room.

“Wow.”

“It’s a games room!”

28

“You’re right, this is pretty neat,” Seraphina admitted. “I get the pink chair!”

“I love our new home,” Carly bounced up and down her seat.

“Yeah… I think it’ll be alright.” Vito nodded seriously.

29

Yenn watched the three children play with a cautious smile. She didn’t remember so much sibling rivalry between her and her brother and sister. Not even Booker, the athletic jock was as competitive as Seraphina. But they were just children. And she was ancient. Maybe her memory wasn’t as good as it once used to be.

30

She made her way into the basement gym. Of course, this was where all the experiments went on in the lair. But she was determined not to let the place make her loose her zen.

31

She knew the family relied on it.

32

Pauline had to drag the little ones down from the games room and watch over them to make sure they did their homework that day. Well, if watching over a violin counts, that is.

33

“You mean we still have to do homework in the new house?”

“Boo!”

“As long as I have the best room!”

34

“You’ve been typing furiously all day,” Pauline placed her hand on her husband’s shoulder.

“This place is really working for me,” Leo grinned, bewildered. “You won’t believe it… I wrote my first cook book!”

“That’s amazing! Though you do look a bit crazy now… How about we test out one of your recipes in the kitchen?”

35

“You guys must be getting hungry! Actually, I’m hungry,” Leo realised. “Sorry, I’ve gotten so carried away!”

“That’s ok. I like seeing you excited.”

Leo had been bouncing between the culinary career and writing ever since they’d gotten married. He loved both so much he just couldn’t seem to decide which one to stick with. He wrote a few books for the children and took odd catering jobs, but aside from his food blog, he wasn’t making much of a progress. Seeing him so in the zone was a welcome change for Pauline.

36

“So, do you think we’ll be happy here? In spite of the crazy history of this house?” Pauline asked when they were getting ready for bed.

“Weren’t your relatives happy here? The ones that came after the criminals, that is,” Leo laughed.

“I guess so… aunt Yenn never mentioned anything bad happening to them, at least.”

37

“Whatever the case, I know it’s the right place for us,” Leo said with confidence. “I know we’ll be happy here, because we already are.”

38

“Well if you’re so confident, than so am I,” Pauline smiled.

“There is one thing we haven’t tested in the house yet…”

***

Author’s note: Yes, we are returning to the lair once again! (And no, we haven’t fulfilled the generational goal yet, but Pauline and Peyton’s old house just didn’t suit the family anymore. It will still be the one we’ll end up using as the community lot, though!)

If you’re wondering about the layout, here’s a quick tour:

39

The exterior

40

Downstairs

41

Upstairs

42

The basement

The Bloomer Legacy: 8.29 Presents

“Tabitha! I haven’t seen you in ages! What’s new?” Leo waved at his sister eagerly when he saw her walk past on his way from the diner.

“Oh hey… I didn’t see you there,” Tabitha deflated.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong… everything’s great, really…”

Leo arched his eyebrows.

“Ok fine… I may have gotten a little bit married,” Tabitha said finally.

2

“You what??”

“Calm down, it did all happen really suddenly… kind of like your wedding!”

“Which you were invited to!”

“It wasn’t like that ok, Cygnus and I didn’t even have a party!”

“Cygnus?!? The hot-headed guy who was dancing way too close to you at that house party way back?”

3

“Well, we did click in the end,” Tabitha shrugged, defensive.

“At least you could have mentioned you were dating…”

“As I said, it all kind of just happened… And then we had to get married.”

“I don’t get it,” Leo looked at his sister, puzzled.

“I’m pregnant, ok? Wasn’t that why you and Pauline got hitched so quickly anyway?”

Leo stared at her, speechless.

4

The aftertaste of the encounter faded away quickly once Leo got home and was greeted by his little princess, Seraphina.

“Just the person I needed to see to make everything better,” he gave his daughter a big hug. “You have superpowers sweetie.”

5

“It’s not the worst thing in the world that your kids will have cousins close their age, you know,” Yenn told Leo later on.

“I suppose so,” he said begrudgingly. “Still… I barely know Cygnus! And now he’s supposed to be my brother in law?”

“So get to know him! Why don’t we invite them for dinner? Isn’t your birthday coming up? We should celebrate with a nice dinner party; I know you’ve been dying to throw a dinner party to show off your latest recipes,” Yenn winked.

Meanwhile, Seraphina was in a world of her own. She had superpowers! Her parents were very lucky she was their daughter, she decided.

***

6

Peyton and Grady were the first to arrive for the birthday party. Pauline tried to make small talk with them, but the lovebirds would barely take eyes off of each other.

Luckily, Tabitha and her new husband Cygnus joined them shortly.

“Look at you,” Tabitha’s gaze fell on Pauline’s heavily pregnant belly. “That will be me soon!” She realised, suddenly panicked.

“Aunt Tabi!” Seraphina interrupted them.

7

“Daddy was mad at you, but I made it all better because I’m the best,” Seraphina announced.

“Looks like it pays to be on your good side, kid,” Peyton joked.

“Ooh, I better get you a present for saving me then,” Tabitha exclaimed.

“Trying a little hard to win the favourite aunt race, aren’t we?” Peyton smirked.

Seraphina was loving the attention. “You can both be my favourite aunts… as long as you get me presents.”

8

Everyone gathered inside to sample Leo’s dishes.

“So nice to get the whole family together,” Pauline said enthusiastically.

“Especially the family you were not even aware of,” Leo muttered under his breath.

Cygnus looked away awkwardly.

9

“Now Leo, I must have misheard you – my hearing isn’t all that amazing after being around for so long,” Yenn smiled conspicuously. “Surely as a member of the family you would know that formerly unknown family members pop up everywhere when you’re a Bloomer… even an honorary one.”

She gave Cygnus an encouraging nod.

“Well I am honoured to be a part of the family,” Cygnus said with a hint of uncertainty.

10

“You say that now; just you wait till you get to know us better,” Grady chuckled. “We Bloomers are an odd bunch.”

Everyone at the table laughed.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Yenn beamed, content. “Now, isn’t it somebody’s birthday today?”

Leo smiled. Time to leave the uncertainties and doubts of young adult years behind and accept adulthood with it all.

11

“Congratulations on the wedding, and the baby, Tabi,” he wrapped his surprised sister in a bear hug. “You’ll be a great mom, and Cygnus is a lucky guy!”

12

“Thanks Leo, I really appreciate it,” Tabitha said. “Sorry I sprung the news on you like that.”

“Well, I can hardly be surprised you’re starting a family,” he shrugged. “We really are grown up now, huh?”

13

And with that, Leo turned his attention to the birthday cake.

14

Everyone in the room cheered; naturally Grady could be counted on to bring the vuvuzela. Seraphina just ran around trying to catch all of the confetti. She couldn’t wait for her own birthday, when everyone would celebrate her.

But of course, that was still quite some time off, she’d only just aged up a couple days ago. The world really needed to focus on her more!

Little did she realise the exact opposite was about to happen.

“Um guys,” Pauline said softly. “I’m really sorry to break up the party early but… I think I’m in labour.”

***

15

The little girl peeked into her parents’ bedroom.

“Hello, my beautiful princess,” Pauline gushed.

Seraphina’s throat felt oddly dry. She was her parents beautiful princess!

16

“Come meet your baby sister!”

Seraphina approached the bassinet hesitantly.

“This is Carlotta,” Pauline introduced the strange small creature. “Carly for short. Isn’t she perfect?”

Perfect? Surely not!

17

Seraphina observed the thing. It was drooling. Definitely not perfect, she shook her head.

“This has been the most amazing birthday,” Seraphina heard her father say to her mother. “What a beautiful present!”

What did they see in her?

18

She leaned over to the baby. “You… I don’t like you.”

The Bloomer Legacy: 8.28 Fruitcake

Little Seraphina was showered with attention growing up. Leo took all of his family leave and extra days off to spend time with his little princess.

2

And Pauline’s job was flexible enough to allow her to spend a lot of time with Seraphina anyway. Still, that didn’t mean she neglected her music; she’d play to her baby or jam with her aunt Yenn on any occasion she’d get.

3

As for Yenn, she was happy to babysit whenever necessary. She felt grateful for every day she’d get to spend with the youngest of the Bloomer clan.

4

Pauline’s support network allowed her to score yet another promotion. She’d never forget the first day she walked out the door off to play with the symphonic string orchestra for the first time.

Mainly because it was the last day she’d get to play with them for a while. When the familiar nausea hit her mid-performance, Pauline recognised it immediately.

5

The pregnancy test confirmed her suspicions, she and Leo had another family addition on the way. It seemed that she would need to put climbing the ladder in the music industry on hold for a bit longer.

***

6

“Just imagine, another nephew or niece on the way! I’m not grown up enough for that kind of responsibility,” Peyton joked as she finished her frappucino.

“I can hardly picture anything you couldn’t tackle,” Grady replied with confidence.

Peyton loved her dates with Grady. And not just because he complimented her, or because it was an excuse to leave the house with a screaming infant. Though the two definitely helped.

7

“You’re right, I am pretty awesome,” Peyton giggled.

“And modest!” Grady added with a smirk.

“Fine, you’re the awesome one,” Peyton stuck her tongue out. “So let’s do some awesoming together…”

8

“Seriously, though,” Peyton stopped laughing. “Who knew that when you randomly started complaining about fruitcake to me at Pauline’s wedding, it would lead to an epic romance?”

“It’s amazing what mutual hatred of fruitcake can achieve,” Grady nodded solemnly.

“You’re making an actual serious talk really difficult here…”

“What’s up?”

“I was kind of wondering if you’d like to live together.”

“Seriously?” Grady froze for a moment, but soon enough his boyish grin returned. “Yeah, that would be cool. I mean, imagine how much time to complain about fruitcake we’ll have if we see each other all the time? No opportunity wasted!”

9

“Sweet,” Peyton fake-cheered. “Finally our lives will be complete… But for real now, I know I kind of sprung that on you. It doesn’t have to be a huge deal. We’ll just be roomies. Nothing major…”

Grady pulled her closer; “That’s a shame. I was hoping it would be serious.”

Peyton’s eyes widened: “Well, if that’s what you want… I guess we can do that too. As long as we don’t neglect the fruitcake hatred.

10

“Obviously,” Grady nodded. “Gotta get our priorities straight. Now come here, we should take a picture of us as future roomies. It’s an important moment… for all fruitcake haters, that is.”

***

11

“Moving in together? Congratulations, what a huge step,” Leo smiled when Peyton told him the news.

“Medium-sized step,” Peyton corrected him. “Nothing huge, Mr ‘I proposed after a day of living together’…”

“Best decision I ever made,” Leo shrugged…

12

“But hey, whatever works for you and Grady. Have you told Pauline yet?”

“Err…” Peyton looked away nervously.

“You should go talk to her.”

13

“But… but… you’ve only just moved back in!” Pauline pouted when Peyton broke the news.

“You know me, a bird’s gotta fly,” Peyton laughed nervously.

14

“I get it, you and Grady need to move forward,” Pauline said. “I’m happy for you.”

“You do realise that your face could be used to illustrate the definition of pout, right?” Peyton attempted another joke. “Look, it’s not like I’m going back to Windenburg. I’ll just live a few streets down.”

“I know. I understand… I guess it’s just the pregnancy hormones making me all emotional,” Pauline smiled weakly.

15

“My point exactly,” Peyton gently touched Pauline’s pregnant belly.

“Your point? You mean that the pregnancy’s making me moody so you don’t want to live with me anymore?” Pauline sulked.

“Now you really are getting moody,” Peyton teased. “But no, that’s not what I was getting at. What I was trying to say was look at you; with another baby on the way. You guys are a family unit now. You don’t need me being in the way while you’re trying to raise your kids.”

“Peyton! You know you’re welcome here!”

“Of course I do. And believe me, I’ll make sure to invite myself over all the time,” Peyton winked. “But you guys need to live your life as a family. And I need to see if Grady and I have a future.”

16

“Don’t worry though. Your kids will always have aunt Peyton in their lives. And so will you.”