When Aurora brought the antidote to Coralie the following morning, her daughter was still sleeping soundly. Aurora hesitated, as a pang of doubt shot sharply through her gut. What if she’d been wrong to trust Niko? What if the antidote didn’t work after all? But there was no use in waiting – it was time to find out, for better or for worse.
Aurora administered the antidote, carefully studying Coralie’s still face, watching, waiting for a flicker of movement – for some sign that the strange elixir had done its job. It felt like hours – in reality, just minutes – before Coralie stirred. She groaned, her eyes flickering open and adjusting to the morning light.
When her gaze landed on her mother, her eyes lit up, and she launched herself at Aurora, throwing her arms around her neck.
Coralie: It worked! Our plan worked! Oh Mom, I’m so glad to be home! Where’s Niko? Is he okay? Have you seen Jaz?
Aurora sighed in relief. The antitode had worked – just like Niko said it would. Her daughter’s obvious kinship with Niko and his wife put her at ease, validating Niko’s story and erasing Aurora’s lingering doubts about his character.
Aurora: Niko is fine, honey. We met him last night, but he had to leave to find his wife.
Coralie’s eyes widened in surprise, and Aurora didn’t miss the concern reflected there. Jazlyn’s separation had clearly not been a part of their plan.
Coralie: What do you mean, find her? Jaz was supposed to be with us…
Aurora patted her shoulder reassuringly.
Aurora: Its going to be alright, Coralie. He’ll find her. And one day, we’re going to help him find his mother, too. But for now I want you to relax. You’ve been through a lot. You have to recover –
Coralie nodded resolutely – she agreed one hundred percent. When the time was right, they would help Niko find his family. But she knew that for the time being, the most important thing – the only thing – to do was to lay low. They’d talked about this part, she and Niko. The aftermath. And they’d agreed – the only way to proceed would be to resume life as usual. Coralie was absolutely overjoyed to be home – and she was all too happy to stick the plan, especially when the plan was normalcy.
She threw the blankets off of her, ignoring her mother’s insistence that she lay back down.
Coralie: I’ve been gone for – how long have I been gone? I don’t even know! I’ve missed out on everything, Mom! All day, every day, all I did was wonder what was happening at home! How you were, how Sebastian and Axel were. The last thing I want to do is relax! Tell me everything I missed!
Aurora: I don’t know, sweetie – shouldn’t we talk about…. about what happened?
Coralie shook her head.
Coralie: All I know is that Niko and Jazlyn took care of me. They were good to me, and they brought me home. Other than that, I don’t remember. I don’t know how I got there, or why, or what happened before Niko. All I know is I’m home now, back where I’m supposed to be, and I want to be with my family.
And so, over waffles and coffee, Aurora told Coralie about about her engagement, about Axel’s new girlfriend and Sebastian’s new bachelor pad. She told her about her brother Xander, and her baby sister Lola. Coralie grinned.
Coralie: I have TWO new siblings?! And you’re engaged?!
Aurora: A new sister, and a new brother, yes – it’s a lot to take in, I know, sweetheart. But at least now you won’t be forced into the heirship, right?
Coralie: Forced? I never felt forced – why would you say that?
Aurora sighed in relief.
Aurora: We thought you ran away. Because you didn’t want to be the heir…
Coralie: Mom! I would never leave my family by choice! I’m not exactly sure how I feel about being heir, but I would never run from it.
She smiled broadly and changed the subject, eyes wide with excitement.
Coralie: So…. Where are these new siblings of mine?
Aurora: Well Lola is upstairs sleeping, and Xander is at school, of course – it’s Thursday morning, in case you were wondering. But tonight is a special occasion – it’s a triple birthday. Axel is becoming a young adult, Xander is becoming a teenager, and baby Lola – well, she won’t be a baby much longer. We’ll just have a small family dinner, though, honey, so don’t worry. I don’t want to overwhelm you – we’ll just keep things low-key.
Coralie: Low-key? Low-key my plum! I’m back, and I want to celebrate! I want to throw a party of epic proportions!
Aurora laughed. Her daughter’s spirit was unbreakable.
Aurora: Well in that case, I better get to work! And maybe get an extra birthday cake – we may have missed your young adult birthday, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate it, together.
With that, Aurora scampered off to start the party plans, and Coralie bounded up the stairs to meet her baby sister.
Later that night, friends and family alike descended on the Hasslich household. Sebastian and Beau were in attendance of course, as well as Isaac, Auggie, Addie, Rosemary, and of course, Peyton Holiday-Scott. There was an unmistakable air of excitement and curiosity surrounding Coralie’s return. But Aurora was adamant – tonight was to celebrate the birthdays – not to turn her romantic, goofball, lone-wolf oldest daughter into a spectacle.
Lola was the first to age up, catapulting from her crib just in time for the festivities. She had just enough time to snap a selfie with her big sister before Coralie ran upstairs to change for the party.
Being a geek, her first inclination was to disappear behind the computer screen, but the excitement of the party was too much for the bouncy little girl to bear, and Lola soon found herself in the thick of the action.
Xander was next, transitioning as gracefully into his teenage years as he had transitioned into childhood. As a teenager, he had acquired the neat trait. Combined with his bookworm tendencies, Xander had grown into an intelligent and responsible young man.
But he was a teenager, through and through, promptly pulling out his cell phone for a selfie for his new Simbook profile picture.
Finally, it was Axel’s turn. He blew out the candles, spinning into a young adulthood full of creativity, snobbery, and laziness.
And as the party went on around him, Axel made a beeline for his love – his Peyton. If he’d learned anything from his sister’s disappearance, it was that life was short, and anything can happen. He had a ring in his pocket and he was more than prepared to use it. Little did he know, his girlfriend had other plans.
Peyton: I love you, Axel. I know we’re young, and I know that the future is never certain. But I don’t want to waste a minute not being with you. This is right – we both know it – so why wait? Will you marry me?
His answer was obvious, of course, and after a round of congratulations from their friends and family, they dashed upstairs (to his mother’s bed, no less!) for a private celebration of their own.
Downstairs, the party continued and Coralie climbed into the hot tub beside her mother. She turned to Aurora and smiled knowingly, squeezing her hand gently.
Coralie: So what about your wedding, mom? Why wait?
Note: I didn’t want to break the flow of the story to include the CAS screens for Xander and Lola. I thought they were better suited here at the end, just for reference in case anyone is interested.
AND, just for fun: if Xander had been Xena. Although I doubt her chest would’ve been that perky had she actually been born a Hasslich girl.