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Once More With Feeling

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Every thought, every theory, every half-wild crazy speculation about this scenario froze in place as the twin boys saw the image of their mother in the doorway of their childhood bedroom.

That loss for words continued as Eva swept across the room and gathered her sons up in her arms, holding them close in her warm embrace. Dante reflexively returned the hug and when he'd regained his senses he buried his face in his mother's neck. Tears gathering in the corner of his eyes as he took in her all too familiar scent, a mix of lavender and rosemary.

Vergil remained ridged. Too stunned by her appearance to even register the gesture. His eyes were wide like a deer in headlights at the physical affection and his hands remained static as his sides, either unable or unwilling to express the same open affection Dante had for their mother. He was simply too gobsmacked by the bizarre circumstance. He was even more so by the warm tracks he'd felt running down his cheeks. He was crying. Childishly, foolishly crying.

"My boys... my sweet boys, are you well? Have you been hurt?"

Eva pulled away, brushing away their tears away with her thumbs. Her hand cupping their cheeks as her soft green eyes traced over their faces. She took in their expressions for only a few seconds before a sorrowful look replaced the grave concern. Her eyes gave her thoughts away clear as summer morning. It was almost as if... she knew?

"Oh my precious boys, you've met with a terrible fate haven't you?"

Hearing her voice snapped Vergil out of his trance and his hands, comparatively tiny compared to his mothers, closed around Eva's. His eyes slid closed as he leaned into her touch, the childish fear lancing through his mind that should she pull away from him she was disappear forever. It was unlike his typical stoic self and it threw all thoughts of caution to the wind; but damn the world and all the devils in it - let him have this one moment.

If Dante wanted to question this behaviour, he kept it to himself. It appeared he was similarly transfixed by the appearance of their matriarch. And like Vergil, he was reluctant to let her go. Neither could be blamed. Eva remained in silence, merely offering the comfort of her presence she realised they desperately needed. At once, the brothers went to speak, to question or explain or just say something to break the silence.

"Mum, I -"

"Mother, there's-"

"Hush now, Hush. Its okay. Everything is going to be okay, I promise you." Eva soothed kindly, kneeling before them with one hand holding the two of theirs each. "You two gave your father and I quite the fright. You've been sleeping for five days."

Father? Father was here too? Vergil's heart seized painfully at the thought of his Sparda and he'd shared a look with Dante, a brief side glance that spoke volumes about his inner conflict. What would Sparda think of the man his son would become? The man who raised the Temen-Ni-Gru, the man who split himself asunder in a misguided attempt to seize more power? He shook his head of the thought, registering his mother's words.

"Five days?" Vergil echoed, blinking in surprise. He brushed away the lingering tears in his eyes while Dante chose to speak up next.

"Mum... i-is this real?" An obvious question, and in any other time and place a blatantly stupid one, but it was apt for the circumstance in question.

To her credit, Eva simply took the question in stride. "Yes. Yes this is real, Dante." Her head titled to one side and offered a subtle crooked smile, the same Dante would get when he was feeling just a touch mischievous. "Although, if I were your enemy, then perhaps that was the wrong thing to say, no?"

That caught them off guard, the twins exchanged confused looks. The same question in their mind. Did mother know what happened to them? Well. She had to, Mundus wouldn't have cursed her name so vehemently had she not. But how did she know?

"Mother... the amulet. Your amulet. Did-" Vergil began, but Eva shushed him brushing her hand through his bed hair and slicking it back close to his usual style.

"We can discuss this later, my little poet." At last Eva rose from her knees, her hands on their shoulders as she guided them from the room. "Come, breakfast is on the dining room table. I had a feeling you two would stir sooner rather than later."

As if the mention of food was a rallying cry, their stomachs chorused in a loud low grumble that stretched on for quite a number of seconds. Eva raised an eyebrow down at the boys expectantly with a cheeky expression, attempting to stifle a giggle while Dante broke out into a laughing fit and Vergil was trying and failing to hide the embarrassed flush on his cheeks. His face was turned away from his mother, but she simply patted his head gently while she guided them.

It took no time at all for them to reach the table, their bedroom was on the second story. the instant they turned the corner into the dining room they were ambushed by the delicious scent. The dining table was set for four places with fried bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, roast meats and vegetables set on plates. It was a humble spread despite the ostentatious table wear, but it may as well have looked like a venerable palace feast from the twins' perspective.

Eva had settled them into their seats, across from each other on the square table like they had when they were children. Before she had even said anything else, the boys were off. All thoughts of this being an illusion dashed as they moved to pile their plates high with the sustenance their growing bodies so desperately craved. Even if the display lacked some table manners.

While the boys were occupied with breakfast - and displaying an astonishing lack of table manners while they were at it - Eva took the chance to quietly slip out of the room. Her face set with regal determination as she strode towards her husband's study.

The soft clack of heels against carpet echoed down the hallway and Sparda's gaze rose from the ancient vellum in time to see his study's door open and his wife standing in the hall. The Dark Knight leaned back in his chair, a grand wooden chair padded with soft red cushioning.

"My Lady," He greeted, plucking his monocle from his eye and noticing the grave expression. "The boys have begun to stir, I take it?"

"Yes. They've awakened." She crossed the room and sat herself in the cushioned chair across from Sparda's rich mahogany desk. "I've left them at the dining table for now. Poor boys - the way they're scoffing down their breakfast you'd be forgiven for thinking we hadn't fed them their entire lives."

Sparda chuckled only a little at the levity. "As always, your timing with these matters is impeccable. As I have learned time and again, I shall never doubt your instincts."

Eva allowed herself a faint smile before her expression turned severe. "So, shall we discuss the matter at hand or will we continue to dance around it until judgement day trumpets sound?"

Whatever good humour remained between them vanished. Sparda retrieved an object from his top drawer and placed it on the desk between them. The thing should have been made of a high-purity metal with a rich luminescent ruby in the central setting. Instead, the chain links were the colour of dulled iron and the ruby replaced by a lump of coal. It was an identical match to the Perfect amulet that Sparda wore around his neck, a key that he would give to his wife - and later would pass down to their sons.

"It is your spellcraft." Sparda explained as Eva took the amulet into her hands, examining it more closely. "Your spiritual essence lingers on it, I can taste it like the scent of blood and fire in the wind."

Eva met his gaze evenly. "Yes, and that fact troubles me greatly."

"It troubles me also but please explain, my love. I want to see if your opinion on this matter matches my own." Sparda prompted patiently.

"This is a spell I have not cast yet, but I can tell you of what I intended from the remnants of its construction," Eva explained, holding the faded amulet in her palm. "The spell was intended as a final safety measure. When the wearer - or wearers in this case - experienced a great deal of mortal danger, the spellweave's matrices were intended to transport them away from that danger. To a place where they mutually felt the safest."

The Dark Knight leaned back in his chair, contemplating what he'd gleamed from the last few days. "I can only imagine where they came from then. Their wounds taint on their spirits like a pox. And it reeks of..."

"Of Mundus." Eva finished for him and Sparda exhaled heavily, not wishing to voice the name of his erstwhile brethren in this place.

"That spell brought them here. To this home. And as ludicrous as this sounds, pulled them to this time." Sparda folded his hands together, peering at his wife. "Though I am not surprised that such a thing could have possibly occurred, you are the foremost expert in your clan's temporal magics."

Eva shook her head dissuading that notion. "But to pull a person - let alone two people - back through time... I could scarcely believe such a thing is possible. A matter of moments, yes. But if our theory is correct, we speak of years Sparda."

"I could." The devil replied, unperturbed. "It is you, my love. You may be human, but even you have a habit of underestimating your capabilities."

"My former capabilities." Eva corrected, closing her hands over the amulet. "No matter which angle you choose to look at it. And regardless that we do not know the ages of the boys before this spell was cast, it sketches a horrible picture if this is the place they truly felt the safest."

Sparda leaned back in his chair and nodded grimly, "Indeed. It speaks of an ill lived life."

The Dark Knight rose from his chair and circled around the table to his wife, leaving his trim purple coat behind on the coat hook. He offered his hand to his beloved who took it and rose, "Perhaps its best if we chose to discuss the matter with the boys. That is presuming they're quite finished stuffing their faces with that feast you and Lucille prepared."