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Tree Roots

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"Will you marry me?" Mordecai asked.

"Mordecai," Hyacinth said, "we're seventeen."

"I know," he said. "Will you marry me?"

He knelt on one knee, his dark hair smooth, his skin paler than usual, as though nervous. He had his fist clenched around a ring in one hand; on the other, his grapevine mark glowed, just barely.

Hyacinth had been in this strange world for five years now. The funny thing was, it wasn't so strange anymore. She had been only a child of twelve upon first arriving, and it was nearly as familiar to her as her own world now.

She could never go home. The way behind was sealed forever, and besides, the Order would probably hunt her down.

It was funny, really. Her parents had dedicated their lives to the Order of Brendan, but she herself didn't know much about it. Only that they had declared her a witch, and would kill her.

Mordecai and Caleb had been good to her. She had a home here, in the city of Hylfing, where she was respected as the girl who had helped defeat the witch-queen Nimiane. Mordecai's mother, Anastasia, had cared for her as though she was Hyacinth's own mother; no one could have been kinder. She learned Hyacinth's favorite foods and cooked them for her, and she comforted her when she wept about her lost family and world, and she explained to her the history, geography, and nuances of this strange world Hyacinth found herself in, a world hundreds of years technologically away from her own world, but where real magic existed in every seventh son as well as the wizards, where faeren walked the hills.

Anastasia was Hyacinth's mother in all but name. This would only make it official.

But what about her family? What would they say? Would they approve?

They would want her to be happy, wouldn't they?

Hyacinth did not know, could not know, that her sisters were dead, having been abducted by the monster in a man's body calling himself the Phoenix, Edwin Laughlin; that he had experimented on them, trying to create a better form of human, and failed, as he would for years and years, Harriet and Circe dying, after their bodies could no longer take the strain, on his operating table.

She did not know that her older brother Daniel was dead too, having died only recently after a mission from the Order to the Congo had gone horribly wrong.

She did not know that her parents, Albert and Trudie Smith, would soon die as well, grief-stricken and brokenhearted after the deaths of three of their children and losing a fourth to the ways between worlds and the Order's condemnation.

She did not know that her little brother Lawrence would throw himself into the Order, it, along with his best friend Rupert Greeves, being the only thing he had left to live for, going on near-impossible heroic missions(including avenging his brother)and proving himself over and over, making the name Smith synonymous with heroism and strength and bravery, nearly erasing the stain his ancestors' questionable actions and experiments had done-until he met the woman Cataan of the Cataan tribe and defied the Order to marry her, losing the only family he had left in the process.

She knew nothing of this. All she knew was the here and now.

"Yes," she said.

Mordecai smiled.


Hyacinth Maxine Smith Westmore bore Mordecai Westmore nine children, seven sons and two daughters.

The daughters were named Isa and Una.

The sons were named Albert, Francis, Daniel, Lawrence, Amram, James, and Henry.