Castle MacGreen was an intimidating sight as they drove up the lane. Breandán swallowed hard when he got out of the car, unsure of how Maggie’s family and friends would handle learning of his parentage. She came around the lorry and grabbed his hand.
“Twill be fine,” she reassured him. He snorted but followed her up the path. She paused on the walk before reaching the door, her eyes going slightly glassy.
“What’s wrong?” he asked when she froze next to him. She shook her head, a little pale.
“Nothing,” she whispered, stepping carefully around the spot where she’d stopped. “Just a memory I’d prefer not to have.” He frowned, about to ask her to clarify, but she pulled him towards the door.
The castle was not what he expected. The interior was completely modern and there were children everywhere. He recognized them from the pictures on Maggie’s walls. Three young boys that were all identical hobbled after a very large wolfhound, bumping into everything and everyone as they giggled their way around the room. Clare watched them closely as Max followed behind them, catching the things that were knocked off tables before they hit the floor.
Braden, who looked so much like his mother, sat with her on the sofa as she read to him. Another wolfhound lay at Morgan’s feet. Quinn, who at first glance looked like a hard-arse, was patiently following Evelyn as she walked around the room, a huge grin on his face. Jamie stood smiling near the sideboard, sipping a glass of whisky as he watched the chaos.
A surly looking Ian stood next to him, attempting to look annoyed, but Breandán watched as one of the triplets bumped into his legs and immediately begged to be picked up. Ian cracked a smile and reached for the boy, tossing him in the air and catching him safely. The boy laughed hysterically and Ian smiled fully before setting him back to the ground and giving his bottom a pat before the child ran off again.
Maggie’s parents were leaning against the mantle, watching all the children with joy in their eyes. Rowan looked up when they walked in. His smile dropped and he eyed Breandán with a dangerous look. Breandán lifted his chin and gripped Maggie tighter, making Rowan frown even more. Breandán suppressed a smile, not wanting to offend her father more than he already had.
“Hey, Sailor,” Dermot came up beside him, slapping him lightly on the back. “I hear you’ve gotten your memory back.”
“Aye,” Breandán answered, shaking his hand. “I remember where I met you now.”
“Is that so?” Dermot smiled, his scars crinkling around his lips. “Hopefully I wasn’t too much of an arse?”
“Only a wee bit,” he answered with a chuckle. He watched as Brigid came up to wrap her arms around him. “When we met, you were drowning your memories with the black stuff and Irish whiskey. After we got sloshed, I ferried you across the channel.” Dermot’s face hardened as he tried to remember. Breandán gave him a small grin. “I can see why you drank so much. This one here…” He pointed to Brigid as he spoke. “She’d be hard to forget, even with the strongest drink.” Sadness filled Dermot’s eyes and Brigid hugged him tighter. “It didn’t work, did it?” Breandán’s voice was quiet as he questioned.
“No, it didn’t,” Dermot answered, his voice cracking a bit. “My Brigid is simply unforgettable.” He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead. Though tears were in her eyes, she smiled and kissed him back.
“I can see that,” he chuckled, knowing the feeling. “Quite the crowd,” he commented to Maggie as she led him into the great room.
“Aye, it usually is.” She smiled as she walked him towards her parents. “We are Irish after all.” He chuckled when she winked. “With the Fomóirí coming after the treasures, it’s even more important that we stick together.” He nodded, understanding completely.
“Breandán I’d like you to meet my parents, Rowan and Shannon MacGreen.” Rowan didn’t offer his hand but nodded his head toward Breandán. Shannon smiled warmly and leaned in to kiss both his cheeks.
“It’s nice to see you again, so soon,” Shannon smiled as she rejoined her husband by the mantle.
“You’ve met?” Maggie’s voice was full of confusion.
“Earlier today,” he answered. “After you left the cottage, your Mum stopped by for a visit.”
She scowled at her mother. Shannon merely smiled back. Maggie shook her head, pushing the anger away. Her mother was a wise woman, and if she’d wanted to talk to Breandán alone then she must’ve had a good reason.
“I invited your parents, Breandán,” Shannon told him, watching his face carefully. “I sensed you had some things you needed to speak to them about, and your mother was extremely worried about you.” Breandán looked around the room, searching for them.
“They’ll arrive in ten minutes,” Maggie whispered, her eyes glassy. They cleared and she gave a shy smile. “I can’t wait to meet them.”
“I can’t wait either,” he murmured.
“I’d like to meet them myself,” Rowan muttered, crossing his arms over his chest. “I need to see who raised the man my daughter is obviously falling in love with.” Maggie blushed and Breandán only held her closer. Shannon rolled her eyes at her husband.
“Maggie, why don’t you go and fetch Breandán and your father a drink?” Maggie sighed, knowing her mother wanted to say something without her hearing, but nodded. She kissed Breandán on the cheek before walking to the kitchen.
“Does she always do that?” Breandán asked when she had gone. “Go blank when she sees something?”
“Aye,” Rowan answered. “Or when she remembers something from the past.”
“She did that as we were walking in,” he began. “But she didn’t say anything.”
“Someone she cared for a great deal lost his life there nearly two years ago,” Shannon murmured. “It still hurts her to remember.”
“Two years ago?” His memory sparked. “The Garda officer that was murdered? That was here?”
“Aye,” Rowan answered, a sad look filling his features. “He was a good man.”
“I remember reading about it in the paper,” he murmured, remembering the article. “Then the murdering wanker... what was his name... Jonathan something...”
“Richmond,” Shannon murmured, her eyes darkening.
“Morgan was who he was after?”
“Yes. But he didn’t come here on his own.” Shannon explained. “The Fomóirí had taken control of him. They both came here for Morgan and Quinn.”
“I can’t believe that happened here,” he murmured, unsure of the feelings stirring inside of him. The monster that had created him had been responsible. It made him feel ashamed.
“Believe it, boy,” Rowan’s voice was full of anger. “Because it’s happening again.”
“If I could change who I am,” he whispered as shame filled him.
“Nonsense,” Shannon’s voice broke through. “You’ll have to excuse Rowan. His Irish temper tends to get the best of him.” Rowan’s face reddened at his wife’s words before he took a breath and smiled. She was right after all. “And he worries for Maggie. She has chosen you, and you have chosen her. That makes her a target for the Fomóirí, and Maggie will always be his little girl.”
“I’ll do anything to keep her safe,” he assured them, though worry for her was beginning to overwhelm his senses.
“And she’ll do the same for you,” Rowan murmured, eyeing Breandán again. “You’re in this together now and it won’t be an easy journey.”
“Later, when everyone is here, we will talk about what has happened, what it may mean. But for now, Breandán, your parents will be arriving shortly and you should go and meet them.” Shannon squeezed his arm as Maggie came back with their drinks.
“I’ll take those dear,” Shannon explained, taking the glasses from her. “Breandán’s parents are coming down the drive now.” Breandán took a deep breath and reached for her hand. She smiled up at him as they turned to the door.
The lorry pulled up and Delia opened the door before it had even stopped. She cried as she ran to Breandán and he scooped her up in his arms.
“I’m so sorry, Mum,” he murmured as she cried in his arms.
“I’ve been so worried,” she managed through her tears. His father had parked the lorry and was opening the rear door. His brother and sister came running out and Breandán let out a bark of laughter seeing them. Delia backed away before they could jump in his arms and he landed on his arse in the gravel as they tackled him. A million questions were shooting at him as he laughed, thankful to be seeing his siblings again. His father reached out a hand to help him stand and he wrapped Breandán in a fierce hug before he could find his footing. Colin pulled away and placed his hands on Breandán’s face, making him look him in the eye.
“I don’t care about legends, or monsters, or treasures. Not even the gods. I care about you, Breandán. You will always be my son.” His voice cracked on the last word and he pulled him into a hug again.
“I love you, Da,” he murmured as his father struggled to keep the tears at bay.
“Who’s that?” Sophie, at eight, was full of curiosity and practically no manners. She was looking at Maggie. He smiled and pulled away from his father. He stepped back and grabbed Maggie’s hand.
“This is Maggie MacGreen,” he told his family. “She’s the one that found me on the beach. She saved my life.” He looked at her as he squeezed her hand.
“Then we owe you a debt of gratitude,” Delia wrapped her in a hug and gasped when she felt the shock of power. She pulled back, curiosity etched on her face. “You have power then?” she murmured.
“Aye,” she whispered. “I saw Breandán’s ship sinking before it happened. A vision led me to the beach.”
“Mum…” He put a hand around Maggie’s waist as Delia stepped back. “Maggie’s brother was the keeper of Lugh’s Spear.” Delia gasped, her face paling a bit. “And her best friend was the guardian of Dagda’s Cauldron.”
“It isn’t chance that she found you then,” Delia murmured.
“I don’t think so. It seems that we were destined for each other.”
“Aye well, that’s the way of it, isn’t it, son?” Colin wrapped his arm around Delia’s shoulders, making her smile.
“Then you know what he has to face?” Delia asked, worry etched on her face. “You know everything?”
“I know what he must do and I know who he is,” her voice was gentle as she answered. “None of it changes how I feel about him.” Delia’s lip trembled as Maggie spoke. “We’ve plenty of time to sort everything out, though. Let’s start with getting to know one another.”
“Let me properly introduce you then,” he smiled. “My Mum and Da, Colin and Delia MacKenzie and my siblings. Sean is nearly thirteen and Sophie is eight.”
“Nearly nine!” Sophie interrupted with a toothy grin.
“And a fine age that’ll be,” Maggie assured her. “It’s lovely to meet all of you.”
“And you as well,” Delia reached out her hand as she smiled. Maggie chuckled and took it before freezing in place. “Maggie?” Delia’s voice was full of fear as Maggie’s hand turned to ice in hers.
“Red?” He tried to turn her towards him but it was as if she was made of stone. “Maggie!” He heard the door to the castle open and saw Shannon and Brigid rushing out the door. “What’s happened to her?”
“Everything is fine, Breandán,” Shannon’s voice was calm, despite the concern in her eyes.
“Bloody hell it is,” he growled, trying to pry his mother’s hand from Maggie’s. “What’s wrong with her?”
“She does this sometimes when she touches people. The past can come rushing into her or visions of the future. Sometimes the Sí speak through her.” Brigid’s voice was like a calming balm to everyone’s nerves. Breandán could feel the magic reverberating in her words. “Unfortunately, she can’t control it, or let go of the person she’s touched until it’s passed.”
“She’s a seer?” Sophie’s voice was small as she squeezed her head between Delia and Colin.
“Yes, child,” Shannon answered, bending down to her. “It is both a burden and a blessing to her.”
“I see things sometimes, in the water,” she murmured, a small smile playing on her face.
“Do you?” Shannon looked up at Delia, whose color was starting to return. She took a deep breath before confirming.
“She has the gift,” Delia murmured. “It started a few months ago. The first time in three hundred years one in our family has been blessed with it.”
“We must talk of that later.” Shannon gave her a comforting smile. “I may be able to help alleviate some of your concerns.” Delia nodded but before she could speak, Maggie started breathing heavily. The wind around them picked up, stirring up dust from the drive. Her eyes opened and they were completely white, staring at Delia.
The voice was not Maggie’s but one Delia hadn’t heard in 27 years, and the pain it brought nearly had her fainting.
“I’m so sorry Lia.” Deirdre had been the only one to call her Lia. Tears welled in her eyes as she listened to the voice of the twin she had lost.
“You’ve nothing to be sorry for, Deirdre,” Delia’s voice broke as she spoke.
“I should’ve listened when you told me to be wary of him,” the voice was sad as it spoke through Maggie. “You were right.”
“That’s nothing to be sorry for,” Delia argued, though her heart was breaking. “You were an empath. You couldn’t help yourself.”
“I gave you a great burden to carry, you and Colin.”
“It isn’t a burden,” Delia looked at Breandán, seeing that he’d grown pale. “It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life.” He looked up at her and she smiled at him.
“You are all in great danger, Lia.” The voice changed a bit, fear coming into it. “The Fomóirí thinks it has what it needs to gain the sword. It won’t hesitate to harm any of you, if it helps its cause.”
“We aren’t afraid,” Sean almost shouted, stepping up nervously beside his father. Maggie’s white eyes turned to him and a slight smile formed on her lips.
“You are much like your father,” the voice whispered, but she turned away to lock eyes with Breandán. “As are you.”
“No,” he argued, tears spilling over. “I won’t be a monster.” Her face softened at his words.
“Being fathered by a monster doesn’t make you one, Breandán MacKeet,” the voice was gentle as it spoke. “You are only what you make of yourself.” The voice sighed. “You have much of your maker inside you, Breandán. The drive, the abilities, the power. What it turns to evil, you must use for good.” His eyes widened as the words sunk in. “You’re also my child, Breandán MacKeet. When others only saw evil, I looked for goodness. You must do the same. Let go of the bitterness, the fear. Embrace who you are and use the powers you’ve been given.” She smiled as some of the grief seemed to leave him. “You are the descendant of the High King Téthur MacCecht and the goddess Fodla. Fairy and royal blood flows through you. Never forget that Breandán. And never forget that I love you.”
“I...” There was so much that he wanted to say, but Maggie’s eyes closed and she started to tremble. Her eyes, gold-flecked and dazed, opened to look at him. “Maggie?”
“I’m so sorry, Sailor,” her voice was so weak he barely heard her. Suddenly her eyes rolled back and her body crumpled. Breandán barely caught her before she hit the ground.
“Let’s take her to the bedroom, Breandán,” Brigid’s voice was full of sympathy as she knelt beside them to take her pulse. “She needs rest now.”
“Is she hurt?” his voice cracked as he lifted her limp body.
“Physically, no. She’ll be well again after she sleeps,” Brigid told him. “Emotionally? It depends on what she saw.”
“What she saw?”
“Brigid isn’t only a seer,” Shannon explained as she opened the door for them. “She is also a conductor. Spirits, fairy creatures, even the gods, can use her to speak to mortals.” Breandán cringed as Shannon spoke. He didn’t like that she had no say in how her body was used. “While your mother was speaking through her, Maggie could see into your mother’s memories. I imagine some of them were... unpleasant.” He cringed again as he followed Shannon to the guest bedroom.
He carefully laid her on the bed as Brigid bent to examine her. Maggie’s skin was pale and cold, and he rubbed her hand between his to warm it.
“Is she well?” he whispered.
“Her pulse is normal. She’s sleeping now,” Brigid assured him. “She’ll be out for a few hours at least.”
“Why don’t we join the others in the great room while she rests?” Shannon suggested.
“I’ll stay with her,” he murmured, not letting go of her hand. Shannon smiled at him and nodded.
“Delia, Colin? Would you like a drink?”
“Aye,” Colin answered quickly, making Delia chuckle nervously. “Let’s give Breandán some space, Delia. The kids are hungry anyway.”
“Good thing,” Brigid smiled at them, using her power to help calm their nerves again. “Morgan loves to cook and since she’s American, she brings some interesting flavors to the table.” The kids were smiling as they followed Brigid out the door. Delia cast a worried look at her son before following her family out.
“Your mother was a very wise woman, Breandán. It would do well to take her words to heart,” Shannon told him, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder. “My daughter chose well.” Breandán tried to speak but couldn’t get past the lump in his throat. Shannon smiled and patted his shoulder before she left the room.
He lay next to Maggie on the bed, pulling her against his chest. He listened to her steady breathing, feeling the heartbeat in her chest. Linking with her to be certain she was dreaming peacefully, he let his own eyes close and followed her into sleep.
When writing a story, it helps to have a visual of what your characters look like. Having an actual picture of someone to base your character on helps you keep track of even the most minor details.
Breandán MacKeet is a tortured soul, but loyal, strong, and brave. Gerard Butler was the perfect inspiration.