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[Gilberte] Carried Off

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((I blame everyone for doing all these family and relationship blogs recently!!!!! Also - Gilly backstory))

When Gilly was eleven, her only sister got married.

Gilly was the first to find out about it. She had been sitting in the little chapel room at Northshire Abbey, writing line after line into a leather-bound copybook as some form of penance. I will not daydream during lessons. I will not daydream during lessons. Brother Carlson had told her to write the line out two hundred times - or until she got the message. “You must mind your elders when they’re talking to you, Miss Lachlan,” he had said, “and not stare off into the distance with your mind in the clouds.”

There was laughter in the adjoining room to Gilly’s penance-hall and the girl looked up to see her sister walk in, a young man in an ill-tailored jacket following on her heels. Emmeline Lachlan was, as ever, radiant - like one of those porcelain dolls the traveling merchants sold off the back of their wagons for five gold. Her light brown hair, gently curled, was pinned up about her head and her fair skin glowed in the pale light of the chapel room. While she wore one of their mother’s conservative dresses in a bleached-out calico print, Emmie had altered the creation - a bit of lace here, an adjustment to the hem there - so that it looked like something from a Stormwind shop.

“Gilly!” Emmie called out, rushing over to her little sister. She picked up the copybook from Gilly’s lap, scowling. “You get in trouble again, Gilly? What will Ma say this time?” Her sister then turned, gesturing to her male companion. “This is Sam - you remember him? From battle ball match last spring?”

Gilly shook her head; she didn’t remember him with his shiny black hair and too tight jacket. Sam shrugged, grinning at Emmie. “Cute kid,” he said and leaning over to ruffle Gilly’s hair. “You’re - what- ten?”

“Eleven,” Gilly told him, pulling back from his touch. “Eleven and five months. I’ll be twelve this spring.”

Sam chuckled and took Emmie’s hand. “You want a ride home?”

It hadn’t been a request. Emmie and Sam piled Gilly into the little wagon he had parked alongside the Abbey, chatting the whole time. Sam had been asking questions of Gilly - politely, as adults like to do. What sort of scores did she get in her lessons? (Okay ones.) What was her favorite color? (Purple.) Did she know what she wanted to do when she grew up? (Be a writer.) He had laughed at the last one and then asked Emmie with a quirked grin if she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Emmie giggled at him and then Gilly got the whole story. Emmie wasn’t Emmeline Lachlan anymore - not since she had stepped out of the chapel that afternoon. She was Emmeline Wyburn, wife of Sam Wyburn who was the oldest son of one of the best fish mongers in Lakeshire and who was going to have the shop all to himself one day.

“And we’re going to have a baby,” Emmie had told Gilly. “Isn’t that exciting? You’ll be an aunt!”

Gilly felt hot tears poking at the corners of her eyes. It was too much, too fast. Emmie was leaving? She was going to have her own house, far across the rivers and lakes in Lakeshire, and babies?

Emmie poked her sister’s arm. “Say something, Gills. You look like you ate a sour apple.”

“I’m fine.”

Emmie’s new husband laughed. “You do look a little sour, kiddo.”

“Well - well, I’d rather be sour than stupid!” Gilly spat out at him, kicking the side of the wagon. Emmie frowned and reached over to her little sister, offering a comforting hand. Gilly pushed her away. “I’d rather be sour than stupid and married to some dumb man who smells like fish and calls people kiddo!”

“Gilly…” Emmie began, brow knit.

“And - and I hate...I hate Lakeshire!” Gilly shouted, shoving over some of the packing boxes that filled the back of the wagon. The contents - mostly tackle and boat parts - spilled out. “I hate it!” She then hopped over the side of the slowly moving wagon and rushed off into the wilds of Elwynn, Sam and Emmie shouting after her.

Gilly didn’t slink back out of the woods until after the sun had sunk below the horizon and the moon had begun to rise in the sky. She slipped into the strangely quiet Lachlan cottage and into her bed, pulling the sheets over her head. A few moments later, she felt a weight push down on the side of the bed and a warm hand on her covers. “Gilly?”

It was her mother. Gilly sniffled, pushing the covers back a little. Emma Lachlan looked down at her youngest child, smiling. “I heard you had quite the little scene on your way home with Emmie. Emmie was rather upset. Thought you made a fool of her in front of her new husband.”

“Well,” Gilly replied, wiping her eyes, “he was a little dumb.”

Emma chuckled. “I think Emmie finds him just fine.”

“Are they really married?”

“Yes.”

“And she’s going to move away? And she’s going to have a baby too?”

Emma nodded, but sighed a little. “I know this must be hard for you, Gilly. You’ve always clung to Emmie so.” She rubbed her daughter’s feet. “Still, what’s done is done. And we should all be happy for her. Does her no good for her family to be bemoaning her choices, does it?”

Gilly rolled over on her side, pressing herself against her mother. Emma shook her head and squeezed her daughter to her. “One day you’ll understand, Gilly. One day you’ll be off getting yourself married too and moving far away from your da and me. It’s just the way of things.”

“Well,” Gilly said finally, “I won’t marry someone as dopey as that, that’s for sure.”

Emma laughed. “No, I don’t imagine you will. But give Sam a chance, will you? He’s had a lot thrown at him in the past few weeks and I suspect he’s still trying to catch up.” She reached over, pulling Gilly upright. “Now, I want you to go outside and apologize to Emmie and Sam for acting like a little fool. Everyone’s sitting out by the fire, eating baked potatoes. You can have one too if you apologize.”

Gilly hugged her mother and complied, going out to where everyone had gathered around the fire. She apologized to Emmie and Sam (mostly Emmie) and ate one of the hot potatoes while watching her brothers play ball in the open fields surrounding their house. The next day, everyone packed Emmie and her belongings into Sam’s wagon, seeing her off to Lakeshire in the damp morning air. The next time Gilly saw Emmie, it was after Winter’s Veil. Sam and Emmie came down to Elwynn, their wagon filled with colorfully wrapped presents. Emmie, who was now round with child, gave Gilly a book of poems and a hug.

That spring, Gilly turned twelve and Emmie was gone. They all went to Lakeshire to bury her in a small fine casket the Wyburns had commissioned. The morning was crisp and strangely bright, bees buzzing around the flowers along the lakeshore. Everyone cried over Emmie’s still form, especially Sam, their newborn babe dangling over his arms. He had named the baby Stephen after Gilly’s da, just as Emmie had wished.

There was a small reception outside the Wyburn fishmongery after the burial. Gilly ate cake and then walked along the side of the lake, weaving through the tall grasses. She remembered sitting with Emmie outside their cottage in Elwynn, making daisy chains. Emmie always made the best daisy chains; she could string flowers together for what seemed like forever - necklaces, bracelets, you name it. Gilly usually broke her chains and Emmie would laugh, pick up the mangled flowers, and hand over one of her perfect daisy chains.

Whatever would you do without me, Gills, Emmie would say, grinning, wrapping one of the daisy necklaces around her little sister’s neck. Whatever would you do without me.

Gilly brushed back a hot tear and kicked at the dirt. She then settled down into the ground near the lake’s edge, snapping up a few of the waving wildflowers from between the grasses. She sat there, making flower chains, until her father, his voice sore from shouting, found her and pulled her away. The flower chains, broken and poorly formed, lay in a pile where she had been sitting, and Gilly looked at them as her father led her away, wondering how long it would take until the lake inched up and carried them off.

Like Emmie, Gilly thought, watching the sad piles of flowers. Carried off.

The trip back to Elwynn that day was longer than ever.