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Family [+podfic]

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She wasn't sure how she would feel when she got there. It had been bothering her for months. She lay awake at night and thought about the one person from the past that she should have met, but hadn't. All the way down to London on the train, and then the ferry to Calais, and the other train into Paris itself, she had hardly spoken to Roger or the children.

Part of her had wanted to make the journey alone, but Roger had rejected the idea.

"We're a family," he said. "We'll go together."

Jemmy still marveled at twentieth century conveniences like automobiles and trains, but Amanda could not even remember the world into which she had been born. This century was her time, as much as it was her mother's and father's. Neither child, however, was old enough to understand the nature of Brianna's pilgrimage.

Paris was everything her mother had said. The charm of the ancient buildings sat comfortably alongside modern street vendors. Tourists thronged the pavements photographing both indiscriminately.

They arrived late in the afternoon, and after checking into the hotel, Roger suggested they might find some supper.

"She's been waiting more than two hundred years. Surely she won't mind one more day."

But Brianna shook her head. He and the children could go find their supper, if he liked, but she had a duty to her family that she would not postpone any longer.

Roger smiled. "We're a family," he said again. "We'll go together."

It had taken longer to find it than she expected. The location wasn't in any of the guidebooks. Her own spoken French was rudimentary at best, and without Roger along, she might have become hopelessly lost.

Night was beginning to fall and Jemmy was complaining of sore feet by the time they found it. The ancient side street appeared unchanged since the middle ages, and must have looked more or less exactly as her mother would have known it.

She hesitated before entering the church. The door was unlocked, but it did not look like the sort of place which expected or invited tourists. A few silent worshippers knelt in the pews, and Brianna crossed herself briefly before turning to a side door, which she opened and closed behind them as quietly as possible.

The dim evening light fell upon the overgrown cemetery, crowded with crumbling stones. She found the one she sought near the back wall; a small, white stone, adorned with a single word: Faith.

Jemmy understood about death -- he had seen much of it for one so young -- but Amanda did not. She reached out with stubby baby fingers, sticky with sugar from the crepes they had bought from a street vendor, and traced the deeply-incised letters.

"Who's that, Mum?" Jemmy whispered loudly.

"She was my sister," murmured Brianna. "She died a very long time ago."

And then the feeling came. Her vision blurred and she bowed her head as tears flowed down her cheeks for the sister she had never known, dead more that two hundred years before her birth.

Brianna felt a small hand slide into her own and looked down into her son's small, solemn face. She knelt and gathered her children close, grieving not only for her unknown sister, but for her parents, bereft of both their daughters, and for herself, left orphaned by time.

She thanked god that she had been given these two to keep -- the first by chance and the second by the grace of modern medicine. There would be others who came after, born into a world of safety and health -- a world her parents had helped to build with the strength and skill of their hands.

She blinked away tears and saw her husband patting down the earth around a small spray of forget-me-nots that had appeared at the base of the stone. A question lingered in his unfathomable green eyes as he reached to touch the new curve of her belly.

She covered his hand with hers. "We'll call this one Faith."