NRR, from the Nellie Gomez Foundation, was in charge of story prompts. Here is a one-shot that I have written from a story prompt of hers. {Please note that now Jane Cahill has taken her place, however.}

And I know what the Black Book says. I decided, after thinking about it for days, that it was stupid, and that this is a bit more realistic. Therefore, this is slightly AU. I have read Vespers Rising, but, you know, it followed the Black Book. Please just enjoy the AUness.

Warning: Every time there is a line break, there is a POV switch, as well as a tense switch. It's only between two people/tenses, though, so you should be able to keep them straight without too much difficulty. It's definitely a different style than I've ever done before, so please tell me if you liked it!

Many thanks to Ria, aka Syberian Quest. She went over this one-shot about three times for me! She's pretty much the reason it turned out so well. (: Thanks, twinsie!

~Hopeless Legacy

a 39 Clues work of Fanfiction by music4evah

The grass grows, the sun shines, the birds sing, and I breathe- but life is over.

I lie on the grass, feeling it prick my skin. I close my eyes to block the sun's unforgiving rays. The chirping in the air becomes clearer and sharper to my ears as I let my sight go dark. I take a deep, shuddering breath to try and calm my pounding heart. My hands grip the grass to try and keep my body from shaking; I scrunch my eyes tighter, pretending that the pain comes from staring at the sun. Someone's voice overrides the birds' for just a moment, and the air is heavy all around me, making my breaths choppy as if I am about to cry.

How did it all go so wrong?

"My Lady?" I whispered the words as I knelt by her side. She lay on her back, and her hair was splayed out across the grass. It had long ago fallen out of the tight, elegant bun that it was usually pinned up in. Whenever I had combed it out at night before she retired to her bed, I had always wished that my ugly black locks could be transformed into her beautiful brown silky waves. But now they were tangled and ragged, much like the rest of my lady's appearance.

The dress she wore was ruined. It was once a beautiful shade of deep forest green and had been carefully stitched with intricate embroidery. Now it was cut and soiled with mud. Her shoes had nearly fallen to pieces, so I had offered to switch mine with hers. Our feet were similar in size, and my boots were more practical then her silk slippers, so she fared better.

But her face... Oh, it broke my heart to see her grow paler and paler by the hour. Her eyes were closed tight, and her breathing was as ragged as her gown.

"Please, my lady!" I cried desperately. I cradled her head in my lap. "Please, we cannot stop! You must be strong!" I started to sob, and my tears fell upon her dirt streaked face.

The voice comes again, but now I understand the words. Water falls on my face. Has it begun to rain? No, I hear sobbing- the poor girl is crying. Crying for my loss. I cannot let her fear for me. She has already been so kind and strong, leading me on when I did not have the strength to do so. This is not the first time I have collapsed on our journey.

"Ce... Cecilia," I manage to say.

"Yes? Yes, my Lady, I am here. Please get up."

"How far has the sun traveled?"

A moment passes. "It is nearly midday, my Lady."

I let out a breath of pain. There was no telling how many more rays of sunlight I would waste before we were safe. "I am sorry, my loyal servant." I feel a tear of my own trickle away. "I am sorry."

Taking a deep, shuddering breath, I wiped my eyes. "Do not worry, m'Lady," I told her weakly. "All is not yet lost. There is still hope-"

"Hope?" she wailed. "Tá súil! What could possibly bring me hope in this wretched time, Cecilia? I have lost my family! Chaill mé gach rud. . ."

"But only Gideon-" I tried to protest before she cut me off again.

"The rest are still lost," she said. Her voice seemed so empty. "They do not love each other. They do not love me. They did not try to save their father."

"Not all of them wished him ill," I insisted. "Only one could have been responsible for his death, if any. But I do not believe that they would have sacrificed so much for a simple slip of paper."

A laugh racked my Lady's throat. "That simple slip of paper is the key to ruling the world. Can you not see, Cecilia? My children have all become twisted by this mad rush for power."

"I... I know the temptations, m'Lady. I just meant..."

"I know what you meant." She opened her eyes to penetrate my own. "I know exactly what you meant."

She looks down at me with such fear. I know that I cannot look much better than her. Her face is covered with dirt, although her fresh tears have made several pathways through the mess. Cecilia is used to such conditions, of course, and does not mind. I am more often attended to in rooms lined with soft linens and silks, however.

"What are we going to do?" she whispers softly, not for the first time.

I blink quickly, trying to stop any more tears from slipping. "I... I still do not know, Cecilia. But we must find a place of refuge, that much is clear. Quickly!"

I try to push myself up as best as I can, but I fall back instantly with a cry of pain.

"My Lady!" she cries. "Are you all right? ... Is it the baby?"

I gasp for breath, clutching at the grass beneath me once more. I do not know how long I lie there, but she lets me fight through the pain for air until I can speak again. "Can you help me sit up?"

"I will try."

Cecilia shifts her position and begins to pull me up as gently as she can. I do my best to assist her efforts, but I am nearly helpless. We struggle for a moment until I am finally able to sit up straight. My legs are splayed out to allow my ample stomach more space. I lay a hand on where my future child is growing. I can feel it kicking my ribs earnestly, and my small smile is hidden by the pain it afflicts so innocently.

"Would you like to lean against a tree? I could move a stone to rest your back against," Cecilia offers.

"No, I am fine for the moment," I tell her quietly, looking around at our surroundings. We are in the middle of a forest. This particular clearing is in sight of a clear stream that flows softly across smooth, weathered stones. I do not know where we are. Cecilia and I have been making our way the best we can and as fast as I can travel. Unfortunately, I can not run as fast as I wish while I carry my precious baby.

"You used to travel these woods often, did you not?" I ask after a long moment.

Cecilia glances around. "I used to, yes. But I have not come this far in so long. I am not completely sure..." She bites her lip and looks to be considering something.

"What is it?" I ask, concerned. "Is something wrong?"

"Oh, nothing, my Lady. I just thought... if I could look ahead a little bit, I would be able to recognize our position, I think. Just a little farther, really. From there, we could decide where we might go."

"You should do it, then," I tell her. Before she can protest to leaving me alone, I speak more forcefully. "Go! We need to find our way. Here, help me to lean against that tree over there, and then hurry to see if you know where we are."

Cecilia obeys me silently.

I ran off through the forest, swatting leaves and branches out of my way. Despite how peaceful the forest could seem, I knew that it had its dangers. Abandoning Lady Olivia was not a favored idea in my mind, but she had insisted. And she needed the rest, besides!

Nearly tripping in my rush, I forced myself to slow down a little. "We will never get out of here if both of us can hardly move," I chastised myself.

Pressing on, I looked for the landmark I thought I had remembered. If the stream was so near, the boulder could not be too far off. Look, there was the bend where I had once built a rickety bridge from wooden planks! It must have been. I had played in this forest ever since I was a little girl, small as it was. I did not mind. Lord Cahill's island was indeed modest, but my parents and I had loved serving them on it all the same.

At the thought of my parents, sorrow stabbed my heart like the finest blade ever crafted. They had only died last year, and I still missed them terribly. I truly knew how Lady Olivia felt. And because I had served her ever since I could walk, and loved her family as I had loved mine, it was my duty to save her and the baby. She didn't seem ready to admit it, but I could see that the child was her only promise of a new life.

Not far from the stream, I came to a stop. There! There was the boulder, the one I had pretended was the tallest mountain in the world when I was still a child.

"Tá an sliabh is airde ar domhan," I whispered to myself fondly. Finally, I knew how to get us off this island!

I started to run back as fast as I could, anxious to bring My Lady what she felt was so lost now, but what I had found.

Tá súil.

As Cecilia's footsteps fade quickly into the distance, I close my eyes and lean back against the rough bark of the tree. I realize how tired I am now that I have a proper moment to rest. My mind begins to lose focus on the forest sounds around me. I know Cecilia is running and eager to get us on the move again, but I am not able to keep from drifting off...

I look around my home happily. It is strong and sound, made of the finest wood found on the island. My children are all in bed, albeit a bit reluctantly. They are excited for their father to finally come home, but I am sure that my own suspense is greater than theirs by far.

Gideon has been gone for many months. When he had first left, he had promised to bring back not only an abundance of the supplies he needs for his research, but also gifts for us. I do not care for the assured treasures, however. I only want to see him and tell him of how much his family has grown and changed without his presence.

Oh, how I hope he will welcome our fifth child.

No, he is not aware that I am pregnant. But it will certainly become obvious the moment he opens the door.

I hear a laugh, and turn to see Cecilia watching me with a gleam in her eye.

"Do not worry so, Lady Olivia," she tells me. "He will be home soon enough."

"Tá an ceart agat," I admit. "But I wish he were here now."

"Of course you do. But if he is not here within the hour, you had best let me help you get ready for bed!"

I sigh my resignation, but thankfully, I can hear the sound of horse hooves within minutes.

"It must be him!" I cry. Cecilia shushes me, lest I should cause my children to come back into the room, but I do not heed her. I rush out of my chambers and swing the front door open, eager to see my beloved husband at last!

But it is not my Gideon that I see.

It was probably a good thing that I tripped as I journeyed back to Lady Olivia, for it was because of my momentary clumsiness that I discovered we were not alone.

I nearly cursed under my breath as I fell into the underbrush, but immediately quieted myself when I realized the danger I was in. It was easy enough for me to recognize the voices as those of men, and they must have been mounted on horses. However, I could not tell how many, much less who they were. Hardly daring to breathe anymore, I could only listen.

"I've told you, the house is in ashes!" one voice cried in a whiny tone. "The fire is mostly out, but there is nothing to salvage. Anything worthwhile would have been taken by the rest of his family."

"Then where are they?" a coarse voice demanded. "This is simply an island- they cannot have gotten far."

"If we hadn't waited so long to kill them," a third voice grumbled, "then we wouldn't be in this mess."

"And the South side seems to be deserted," the first added. "But who would expect them to stay near the house?"

The second man grunted. "We must continue searching. Only Gideon, his family, and a few close servants lived here. Any of them will be most valuable."

The men parted, and to my relief, they didn't seem to go in the direction of Olivia- but the second man would find her eventually, I thought, as he was traveling nearest to her general direction.

With new fire I resumed journeying to my mistress, but much more cautiously. If these men were who I thought they were, my Lady and I had to be most careful in order to escape their clutches. How her children had gotten away so quickly, I wasn't sure- but they hadn't stayed long to mourn like my mistress, that much was certain.

I hadn't seen the children disappear- I'd barely escaped with Olivia! But once I'd gotten her thinking properly that terrible night, we had doubled back to the burning house and discovered that they were gone, and a quick search had proved they were not near the house. There was no telling if they were together or separate, although it was hard to believe that little Jane might be on her own.

Within moments, I burst into the clearing that my Lady was resting in, and came to a stop by her side, shaking her awake.

My eyes fly open to behold Cecilia's terrified face. I do not know how long I slept within my memory, but some consequence must have risen during that time.

"What is it?" I ask. "What is wrong, Cecilia?"

She shushes me quickly. "Whisper, m'Lady. On my way back to you I was nearly found by three men."

I suddenly feel very, very cold. "Who were they?"

"They are searching the island. We have to leave before—"

"Who were they, Cecilia?" I demand.

She turns her eyes away. "I. . . I cannot be certain, m'Lady, but I think it is him."

I take in a shaky breath as my servant slowly begins to pull me to my feet. When I am upright again, I lay a hand on the nearest tree, afraid of collapsing. He is looking for Gideon's work. He is looking for my children. He is looking for me and anything else that might help him in his lust for power. Oh, why had I tarried so long? On the verge of cursing myself, I take a hold of Cecilia's outstretched arm.

Silently, I wish a prayer in my heart that I might carry my child to a place where I can shelter it from the terrible cruelty of this world.

Rushing Lady Olivia through the forest as fast as I could while still trying to keep silent was the most difficult and terrifying thing I had ever done. I was constantly looking over my shoulder, frightened that any moment a man would crash through the foliage and seize us. At the same time, I was nearly dragging Olivia as we followed the small creek until it widened and flowed into the ocean. And as I did my best to assist her, it took all of my concentration not to let either of us trip over the underbrush.

I could hear my Lady's breathing growing more ragged than before.

"St... Stop for a moment, I... I beg of you, Ce..."

"Hold on, m'Lady!" I urged her. "Can't you hear the crashing of the waves? We're almost there! We're almost free!"

My last statement seemed to give her newfound energy. She laid a hand on her round stomach, closed her eyes for a moment, and then pressed on. Tears were slowly sliding down her cheeks again, but no sobs escaped her.

When we finally stumbled out onto the sand, I found a boulder for her to sit upon. "Wait here," I told her. She didn't question, and I dared to wander closer to the shore. Now that we were here, what were we going to do? There were few ships about, I knew, and if I couldn't find one...

I do not know if the next moment was fate, destiny, or simply luck, but it was then that I heard a strange slosh coming from the water that was different from the waves. Curiously, I turned towards it and rounded a small bend. There, sitting partially in the water, was a small rowboat that had been anchored to the shore lazily. I approached it cautiously, afraid that something (or someone) dangerous was in it. But before long it was clear that nothing was, and I knelt beside it. Carved into the side was the name of the boat: Prayer of the Night.

"Vesper," I whispered, realizing that the boat must belong to Damien.

In an instant I was up on my feet again and running back to Olivia.

"I found it!" I cried. "Hurry, I've found... We're saved!" I pulled on her arm until she was standing.

"What?" she asked, dazed. "What have you... a boat? Cecilia, have you found a boat?"

"I have!" I couldn't contain a laugh. "It is Damien's—"

She stopped short. "What?"

"M'Lady, do not stop," I said, still attempting to pull her along with me. "We do not know where the men are. We have to leave now!"

"But it is his boat!" she hissed. "I..."

"It is our only chance. And with luck, it will be that terrible man's only one as well, and we will have taken it." I gave her a pleading look, and finally, she seemed to agree. "Hurry!"

I step into the boat shakily, holding onto it and Cecilia carefully. I can feel the baby squirming inside me uncomfortably— but while this whole journey I had feared that both it and I would perish, I am beginning to feel a gentle ray of hope. For the first time in what seems an eternity, there appears to be a chance for us to start a new life away from the evil.

Cecilia pushes us away from the shore, and with a zeal I did not know she possessed, begins to row us away from the island. I stare at it as we drift away, lost in memories of what had been the happiest home I had ever known. When Gideon and I had first settled there, it had been difficult, but no matter the challenges, every moment working beside him to build our home was bliss. My children only added to that happiness, each with their unique talents. I do not understand how they could have all turned out so differently and still be siblings, but I love them nonetheless.

"Stop! Get back here!"

Shaken abruptly from my reverie, my eyes focus on a figure running down the beach and waving at us. It feels like my blood has turned to ice, and I speak to Cecilia quietly. "Keep rowing. Speed up if you can."

Damien's shouts echo as we leave the island behind. I do not take my eyes off him until he is out of my sight, terrified of not knowing what he is doing to thwart us.

When we are far enough away, I turn around in the boat to face the oncoming waves. Cecilia and I are silent— she is focusing on keeping us afloat, which is not a simple task. I am content to simply think. As painful as the past hours have been, I review them slowly, knowing that I cannot change either my actions or those of others around me. I cannot bring my Gideon back to life, and I know my children will never trust each other again.

Looking down, I stare at the curve of my stomach and press my hands against it. My baby will be born soon, and I am blessed to have Cecilia to assist me. My expression hardens as I realize that Damien Vesper will search for us. He will kill us all and not hesitate to do it, and I know I cannot hide forever. Dreaming of a safe, happy life for my child is pointless.

I raise my eyes to gaze at the sky. It is such a pleasant shade of blue, and the clouds look so soft. The waves lap gently against the boat, and the wind tousles my hair, tangling it even more than before.

It is unfair to leave this terrible legacy to my baby, but I know at that moment that they are my only hope.

~An deireadh