Chapter 69: Doreen’s heart
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A gate appeared at the Baux family cemetery just off to the side of Renée Baux's gravesite. Doreen walked out looking somber, she carried a bouquet of lilies which laid on Renée's grave just in front of the marker stone. She took several steps back and then bowed her head, "Renée, it's been a long time since saw you, I feel like even your face in my memory has faded or changed. When I think back to the fun times we shared, it seems like we knew each other for such a long time, but the reality is that I hardly even had a chance to get to know you." 

She wiped a tear from her cheek and then sighed, she sat down in the grass and looked up into the sky, "I have made good friends, Renée, the kind I can keep for a long time. I just can't keep feeling like you should be here with us, I wonder, if I had just insisted you stay with me that night instead of trying to walk back, maybe you'd still be alive. I knew the reason you left though, I was being too aggressive and it made you uncomfortable. Two of my new friends recently told me the same thing, I laughed because it reminded me so much of how you used to get mad at me." 

Doreen wiped her cheeks and then said, "Why can't I just be honest with people, why do I have to push the ones I love the most away?" she pulled her knees up and buried her head against them sobbing, "Two of my new friends threatened to stop talking to me if I didn't stop being aggressive towards them. I ran away when they tried to explain their feelings. All I could see in my head was that last night I saw you when I asked you to stay the night with me and you smiled at me and said you better not. I knew what you meant. You meant that you didn't have those feelings for me and it was better to leave than break my heart. The next morning when I heard that you had been murdered, I couldn't even believe it. I just assumed you were hiding from me and would show yourself once I got over the fact that you weren't in love with me, so our relationship could go back to being just friends." Doreen lost control and started to cry hard. 

In the distance, another gate opened and three people walked out. Olivier, Madeline, and Guy looked over to the cemetery and Olivier said, "She'll be right over there, that's where Lady Baux was buried." 

Guy nodded and said, "Thank you, Olivier, we'll handle the rest." 

Olivier nodded and left Madeline and Guy behind returning through the portal just as it closed. Madeline said, "Will you let me have a few minutes alone with her, I'll wave you over." Guy nodded as she headed over. 

Doreen looked up as Madeline walked over. Madeline squatted down next to her and asked, "Would you like to talk?" Doreen nodded in reply as Madeline sat down next to her looking at Renée's gravestone. 

"Renée wasn't in love with me, it was all one-sided. The night she died, I had asked her to stay with me at the Inn by the Academy, the one all of used for sex," Doreen explained, "All of this time in the back of my mind I blamed myself for her death. If I hadn't of insisted we go to the Inn that night, maybe she would still be here." 

Madeline plucked a few blades of grass and let them fall, the wind blew them off course slightly, "Those blades of grass might have survived if we hadn't of had this conversation today. The blades may not have fallen in that exact spot if the wind didn't carry them. These blades of grass may not have even grown, if not for Renée's passing. All of those things did happen, it can't be changed. We can only accept the way things do happen. You can think of ways to avoid similar things in the future, like stopping me from plucking the grass, but you can't wish that no blades of grass are plucked by anyone and have it be an effective means of deterrence. Random acts of chaos happen to all of us. We can only do our best to prepare ourselves so that we can minimize the damage these events cause. That's why our Council of Magic exists. We are going to be responsible, right?"

Doreen nodded and then said, "That line was so cheesy, it sounds like something Guy would say." They both laughed together and then Doreen said, "You two are a great couple, I'm sorry I caused you so many problems. I just felt lonely and you two are so kind and helpful that you wouldn't tell me no."

Madeline looked back at Guy and said, "Guy gives so much for everyone. I wish sometimes he would slow down. It always feels like he is living his life like there won't be a tomorrow."

Doreen looked back with Madeline and said, "I think he is afraid to face the loss of his whole world."

*****

Abe Touma had just lost a fight in a small dirt lot behind a Sando in his neighborhood. As he lay there bleeding his heart stopped and all brain activity ceased. A few moments later everything restarted, he called out, "Évreux!" His ears rung and his vision was double, a tsunami of memories he shouldn't have had filled his mind. He rolled over and threw up. The memories he was trying to sort through were so foreign that it frightened him. He saw visions of things that could only be magical. An entire language he shouldn't know was there for him to use. Lying by his hand was a wooden practice sword that he knew belonged to him even though he was sure he had never seen it before. He recognized everything around him while at the same time knew he had never been here before. 

He staggered towards the place that his memories told him would be home. He thought to himself, 'Did Pays Des Abrutis fall? Had all of my friends and loved ones been slaughtered? He thought back to the face of the woman he cared about. Doreen, are you alright?'

*****

Two weeks later everyone at school was talking about Abe Touma. "I heard he beat seventeen kids by himself and saved a girl from an attack." "I heard that Abe Touma's grades went from last in his class, to near first." "I heard that Abe Touma used to be a delinquent and changed into a model student." 

"Hey, Touma, my older sister, and her friend are going to be in a Kendo tournament, want to come with me to help cheer for them?" Saito Ryuu asked. 

"Of course, I am interested to see their swordsmanship." He smiled at his short fat friend.

Ryuu smirked and said, "You just want to see Ami and Ito Yuuki again." 

Touma laughed and said, "You aren't wrong, Miss Ito, in particular, is a very beautiful girl. Your sister isn't bad either." 

Ryuu shook his head and said, "Ami has been weird since the accident, but I agree. Miss Ito is a very beautiful girl. Her family has some of the best Kendo artists in the world. Her late brother was a Yondan but could have easily passed Rokudan if he was old enough. Her father just passed his Hachidan at a young age."

"What an Incredible family." Touma nodded.

 

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