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Manon Pregnancy HC/Theory; Elide Lochan: Heart of Darkness?

[For everyone who kept asking for this, I’m sorry it took me so long!] Let me say this: I will be the first one to tell you that I absolutely HATE pregnancy plot lines. So as much as the art kid/visual culture nerd in me wants this to happen, I also DO NOT want it to happen. And I can honestly see the ending of the series playing out 1,000 different ways. This is just one way that my art-nerd heart loves. Do I think it will happen this way? Eh. It’s significantly more complicated than Manorian/Rowaelin/Elorcan/anyone “Mutli-Heir Theory of Lock”-ing their way to seal the gate. But who knows!

This post also includes: 

  1. “Bonus Manorian HC” so scroll to that (you’ll see it in huge font) if that’s what you’re here for. (It’s angsty so GET READY!)
  2. “Elide Lochan Heart of Darkness” is more a HC that I haven’t fully explored. But it would deal with Petrah, Manon, Iskra (yuck), and Elide teaming up to play a significant role is how this all goes down. So skip to that header if you clicked for that.

The MMC Manon Pregnant Theory is this: 

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anonymous asked:

Thinking of Ezra's empathy/connection abilities, and then seeing those giant wolves on the wall of the Jedi Temple made me think. What if little Ezra, after his parents are taken, their friends abandon him, left the city? And he finds some Loth-wolves, and he is still innocent and open, and connects to them, and is adopted by them? He might end up good at certain Force-skills for survival reasons, able to run as fast as his family, much more in tune with Living Force, for connection and location

pt 2: and he would have /strange/ social skills, and still likely be distrustful of people. And maybe he goes to the city sometimes to steal/barter for things he needs that the wolves can’t provide. But being forced to rely on instincts and would likely have a stronger force presence that Kanan would notice, and he would notice Kanan’s more too. Might be harder for this wild child to agree to go with the crew, but the crew wouldn’t want to leave him with wolves. Food for thought.



okay, okay: so.

  • little Ezra, like you said, is having a rough time of it on the streets. 
    • he’s half-starved and frost-bitten and he’s too young to fight stormtroopers, to exhausted to run away from them, and and not yet quite savvy enough to trick them.
  • he’s on the edges of Capitol City, desperately scouring through somebody’s trash, when he’s caught by stormtroopers. 
  • scared out of his wits, he makes a desperate attempt at fleeing, and he succeeds. but he can only go one way - out, on to the plains of Lothal
  • he runs and runs until he can’t anymore, and he’s actually a couple miles from Capitol City
  • he’s curled under a big stone spire, half-frozen, tears streaking down his face because it’s been a year and where Mom and Dad, no they’re dead don’t think about it
  • and empathy works both ways, right? so as he’s out there, shivering and sniffling and shaking with exhaustion and fear, he comes to the attention of a bunch…Loth-wolves?
    • (think of the wolves from the Ahsoka-riding-space-wolves-gallery-concept-art)
  • if Ezra wasn’t scared before, now he is. he’s heard legends of these things, horror stories, the kind of ghost stories seven-year-olds tell each other during play dates
  • so it’s a whole pack of them - seven or eight - and Ezra’s frozen with fear as the come up and…sniff at him? lick him?
    • Ezra’s sitting there going “what is hAPPENING”
  • but the wolves petting him, trying to tug him into standing

  • Loth-wolves are nocturnal, so the younger ones nip at Ezra and try to get him to play, to integrate with the pack
  • and soon enough it’s morning and Ezra’s fallen asleep into a very warm pile
    • it’s the warmest he’s been since he left his old bed back at home a year ago
  • and then, of course, why would the wolves let this child go hungry?! so they
  • one comes back and offers him a half-eaten dead Loth-cat
  • Ezra’s a little wide-eyed and horrified, but it finally clicks
    • “You want…to feed me?”
    • the wolves bark, yes small hungry child you are VERY thin (not literally but you get the gist)
  • and Ezra’s like okay i can’t eat that so he manages to make a small fire and cook it(ish)
    • it’s all blackened and nasty now but Ezra doesn’t care and wolves like the warm fire and the kid’s eating so they’re like lol okay
  • the wolves see a small hungry child that they should take in as their own
    • so they try to tug him to go running with him, farther away from Capitol City
  • and Ezra’s like “well…why not?”
    • because he knows he can trust them, he doesn’t know how he knows but honestly the things that kids ten and below can believe are normal is ENDLESS and Ezra’s eight
    • they’ve fed him, they’ve played with him, they’ve kept him warm - nothing that anybody’s done for him in a YEAR
    • and they’re wolves, so they can’t possibly be plotting or have some agenda
  • and so he goes. 
  • and things are little weird at first, because even an eight-year-old knows that someone’s not supposed to be raised by wolves BUT
    • he learns how to hunt and make GOOD fires he catches Loth-cats, Loth-rats, Loth-fish, Loth-birds, Loth-anything, really
    • even WOLVES can tell when a kid’s too thin so in the first year they catch him Loth-deers every week and they watch him eat it ALL
    • they teach him to run as fast them and most of the time he just puts his shoes in his bag until he’s just like “why did i even wear things ugh” and his feet are so callused he barely feels the heat or the cold
    • and he doesn’t name them or anything. he just…knows them. like he knows their presence, knows their minds and simply saying “you” means something to him
  • and as the wolves migrate across the continent Ezra always gets good at guessing where the towns are, so he’ll saunter in to buy useful, carriable things
    • and the wolves migrate around their patch of land, so people come to know him in the surrounding villages as “that wild child” 
      • it’s said very affectionately, though
    • especially because the kid can hunt. nobody knows how he downs a Loth-deer, but he does
    • so shopkeepers and butchers agree to trade and barter with him, so he gets new clothes
      • and someone forces those wretched SHOES on him
      • “It’s going to snow,” the shopkeeper argues, “if you don’t take the shoes in exchange for the deer, I’m going to give you them anyway.”
      • “Fine,” Ezra snaps, but he can feel the guy’s worry so, ugh, whatever.
      • (He won’t admit when the snow comes to actually appreciating the warm socks and shoes, because it’s chilly, even when snuggled up with his friends in a den.)
  • and Ezra’s still a human boy, and he’s around towns every-other, every couple of weeks, (and sometimes he’ll stay for a couple of days during mating season because, um, gross, thinks Ezra) so he retains some familiar things
    • like, he definitely bathes himself and gets a toothbrush and toothpaste because he used to hate having baths but ew going without a bath for a week is NASTY, he privately thinks to himself, Mom was right, even though rivers are FREEZING to bathe in
    • and he cuts his hair shorter when it gets in his face and even brushes it 
    • he’s still a boy so he’s like “ew, i’m not going NAKED” so he buys himself some durable clothes, and he actually manages to grow a little, now that he’s got people looking out for it? he’s definitely healthier health-wise than in canon
      • but still short
    • and while it’s oddly sort of soothing to be ~at one~ with nature (ahem, the Force, cough, cough), Ezra begins to realize how much he really misses being with others who could talk back to him
    • so he keeps a mindless stream of chatter with the wolves
    • and he also learns to fight. nastily. with the other wolf cubs, Ezra’s all teeth and bones and wolf.
  • but being with wolves for so long…it kinda rubs off on him
    • like, everyone in the towns already knows “Lothal’s Wild Child” (and, no, they are not talking about Dindo who ran off with that hooligan and broke her poor daddy’s heart, though she is a wild child) is strange, because he just appears sometimes, but he’s harmless, honestly
      • after one encounter, Ezra realizes that bringing wolves into the villages with him are not a Good Idea, so he comes alone - no one has any idea who he actually lives with
    • like, he tends to mutter under his breath because he forgets that he can’t just keep talking like he can to the wolves, but he usually remembers when he can and can’t talk within a couple of days
    • and he’s got some weird mannerisms? like not only is he weirdly adept at reading others’ emotions but not their facial expressions, he unconsciously tilts his head in confusion, or scrunches when scared, or stands straight up when he gets alert, and why can that kid pull off the BEST puppy-dog eyes?!
    • and his vocabulary is very limited and he generally has trouble understanding when people talk too fast, so he gets by with a lot of pointing, and he can barely read
    • but he doesn’t mind villages because they appreciate him as a source of income, so shopkeepers tend to be willing to teach him new vocabulary
  • and, like, emotionally? Ezra’s…well, he’s not much of anything
    • because he doesn’t really have to deal with complex emotions that often, because he’s not much around humans
      • his emotions generally go from “hungry” to “cold” to “hot” to “sore” to “having fun with my wolf friends”
    • but he also doesn’t have to deal with the trauma of living on the street, so he’s not damaged by that in any aspect
    • he’s generally much less trusting of humans, though, so he doesn’t get strange Tarzan levels of “these noble savage,” or something weird
    • but he does come away with a sadder but probably true understanding of death - there’s a lot less anger
      • because wolves die. and the other wolves move on, they comfort Ezra when a young wolf or an old wolf dies, but they’re generally pretty “meh” because that’s what happens
      • but it’s not like wolves tell Ezra “conceal don’t feel don’t let it show” so he’s welcome to work off his emotions any way he wishes
      • empathy goes both ways, so the wolves are always…validating and supportive of his emotions? dogs are great honestly
  • either way, Ezra gets by from agree 8 - 12 like this. but once he hits age twelve (he counts years by seasons) he ends up with a problem. the Empire.
    • because as the Empire’s trying to harvest minerals from Lothal’s crust, they don’t have any time for things like Loth-wolves, so they put out bounties for Loth-wolves being dragged back dead
    • (and these things are BIG and VICIOUS - who wouldn’t want them gone)
  • so when Ezra’s out with the pack, one day they come across a pack of slaughtered Loth-wolves
    • that’s when Ezra, who does remember a year on the streets, dredges up an old lesson: when you can’t run, hide
  • which is how Ezra comes across an old comms tower
    • he sets up shop there with the rest of the pack, who come to view it as “home base” even though they prefer to migrate, if only because it’s warm and who else will bring food back to the poor hairless creature they adopted?!
    • Ezra salvages an old air mattress and somehow it’s literally the best thing he’s ever had because how did he forget how awesome beds were
    • slowly as things get worse the wolves bring back more and more other packs of wolves and literally the entire tower is SWIMMING in Loth-wolves
    • but as this happens and Ezra and the rest wander around looking for food, he keeps wandering closer and closer to Capitol City, half-wanting to go back and look at his old home, half-dreading walking into the city
    • but eventually he’s drawn back because he’s slowly recovering more things he forgot about humans - particularly, books and reading because the comms tower is FILLED with meaningless brochures and pamphlets and sometimes Ezra could SWEAR he knows how to sound out some of them, so now he has created a reason to go back to Capitol City
      • he can’t bear going back to his old house, but he wants to remember his parents
    • so he reminds himself to put his shoes on, and he vaguely remembers something - a library, right? is that what it’s called - and he’s INTERESTED because he has all these good memories of his mother reading to him and his father at his desk so he’s gotta do something, right?
    • when he enters into the city, he’s horrified and overwhelmed by how many people their are, the amount of EMOTION that he’s feeling, but he manages to find the library
    • he’s sort of bad at communicating what he wants and/or needs but the librarian takes pity on him
    • he’s kinda cute looking, like he’s rough around the edges - really rough and his glare is nasty, it’s a wolf-stare - but he really manages puppy dog eyes well
    • the librarians take pity on him, thinking that he’s probably either not fluent in Basic or maybe from some hick town or perhaps has a disability - or maybe all of the above - so they want to teach him, tell him to come back everyday at eight, okay?
    • and Ezra listens really, really, hard but he doesn’t quite remember how to tell time works, so the next day he just shows up at dawn to make sure he isn’t late
    • and this sorta turns into a routine, up until six months later when Ezra’s reading chapter books and he can understand everything the librarians tell him, and he’s really proud of himself, and he tells his wolf friends all about it, and he reads them stories 
      • by this point Ezra has much more advanced vocabulary, but weird vocabulary, and he’s just desperately copying anyone - the librarians, the dialogue in his story books - trying to sound normal when talking
      • but he doesn’t sound normal at all it’s stilted and kinda funny, and Ezra vacillates between Regency-era England insults, nasty ones he’s picked up on the streets, and just flat-out stupid insults
    • which is when the Empire closes down the library
    • it’s the first time Ezra remembers what real, true anger feels like
    • but he’s not sure what to do. so he just checks to make sure all the librarians are alright - they are - and then he goes and steals basically the entire library’s worth of books and brings it all back to his tower
  • and so he’s just left. feeling angry.
    • but for wolves, anger isn’t useful. they don’t care about anger unless it serves a purpose. if you’re angry, you get it out by wrestling with another wolf, and then you’re done.
    • and so Ezra begins to realize how valuable that lesson is as he curls up in his tower reading book after book. 
      • (because he misses humanity, but he doesn’t miss humans, he remembers what they did to his family, his friends, and him on the streets)
    • he learns all about fatal flaws, and he learns about humanity and the human experience and what’s healthy because he reads all through these psychology textbooks
      • “Stop peeing on my books, thou dastardly villain,” Ezra complains to a wolf.
      • pay attention to me, the wolf communicates, getting in front of his book
    • so he’s also got an oddly mature and specific vocabulary and weird bits of knowledge because he reads and reads and reads over again, he wants to be human and meet humans but he doesn’t want to be hurt
  • by the time he hits fourteen, he’s still traveling with the wolves in short bursts - for food and for substance to trade 
    • (in Capitol City, this time, and Ezra learns more about the Empire than he wanted to know. and more about the stormtroopers and cruelty, and while he wants to cajole the wolves into coming with him to attack, wolves only attack for a good reason and Emotions, Trials, and Tribulations: the Human Experience and How to Live Healthily says that immediate anger and wanting for violence as a response to a threat is Not Good, so that’s a no, and his favorite King Valiant would never do that. so. no. but he glares out of the corner of his eyes, a wolf’s stare, and stormtroopers tend to back off of a feral child)
  • but this is when Kanan and the crew show up on Lothal
    • once they land, something’s wrong. Kanan can feel and he repeats it to himself but he isn’t sure what.
    • what does do, though, is go and get a drink in the cantina. this is where he begins to hear of Lothal’s Wild Child
      • “He’s dead, I tell you,” says one farmer to another.
      • “Naw, he showed up just last season,” disagreed the butcher, “brought with him a mighty big Loth-deer, considerin’ the Empire’s restrictions. Could fed him for a month but he wanted a bunch of dog treats. Dunno why.”
      • Why is that he’s cracked in the head,” threw in an old crone, “I wouldn’t mind seeing the stormies take him away!”
    • and Kanan’s like, wait a minute. i have a bad feeling about this.
    • and as the Ghost crew suits up to go foil an Imperial shipment in Capitol City, Kanan notices something - wolves. why are there so many wolves around Capitol City?
    • and as they make their getaway with the cargo, like in Spark of Rebellion, Kanan sees the comms tower in the distance.
      • oh, Kanan thinks, before shouting, “Zeb, take my cargo! I’ll be at the rendezvous before dusk!”
  • so when dusk rolls around and Kanan’s not there, Zeb and Sabine agree to go find him, which is when they come to the comms tower.
  • Sabine opens the door.
    • “Um,” Zeb says, as they open the door only to see what appears to be an entire fluffy, white carpet made of Loth-wolves.
    • “Er…Kanan?” Sabine calls as they carefully tread their way around the wolves and up the stairs. They sniff and glare, but don’t move otherwise.
  • That’s when they find Kanan, surrounded by a library’s worth of books and dozens of Loth-wolves, arguing with someone who stubbornly has their nose stuck in a book and ignoring Kanan from under a pile of four wolves.
    • “Um,” Zeb repeats, and Sabine agrees.
    • “Zeb, Sabine,” Kanan says, “good. Where’s Hera? By the way - this is Ezra. He’s a new crew member.”
    • “You mean there’s someone under that?” Sabine says, before what he says catches up with her and she demands, “What? You want to adopt somebody without Hera?”
    • “I want to add a new member to the crew,” Kanan says through clenched-teeth, sounding more than a little intense, “because, for the last time, human children cannot be raised by Loth-wolves their entire lives!”
    • “Um…” Zeb says, really, really struggling for something to say.
    • “Cruel creature,” the book flips down to reveal - is that a teenager under all those wolves? “You would deprive me of my greatest companions?! Stupid head.”
    • “Someone help me,” Kanan says faintly.
  • Sabine and Zeb really, really have no idea what’s going on.
  • When Hera finally shows up, they get the full story. - a kid raised by wolves for eight years. literally, literally raised by wolves. 
  • Kanan explains that the kid’s Force-sensitive which is why he’s able to connect with the wolves
    • the wolves seem to take a liking to the Ghost crew, too, Ezra isn’t sure how he feels about this
  • Hera just sits back and watches the show of Ezra and Kanan arguing.
    • “Why should I come with you? I don’t want to! I’ve been fine before!”
    • ”The Empire can and will get you, kid!”
    • That’s the final straw. 
  • No one’s quite sure what changes, but Ezra’s face goes white and drains of color. Thirty wolves pile around him.
    • “Your presence is strong,” Kanan softens his tone. “I can’t leave you here to get hurt - or taken by the Empire. Come with us. Fight them.”
  • But Kanan doesn’t even need to tell him that. Ezra’s sold, though he does later ask Hera:
    • “The Empire took away my chums at the bibliotech. Would we thwart the Imperial scum from that?”
    • Hera grins. He’s a little strange, a little unused to people, and a lot untrusting, but a kid who can win the hearts of eighty wolves is good with her.
    • “Yeah, we help people. That’s what we do.”
  • But when he’s on board the Ghost things get a LOT more lively. Pretty much everyone is vaguely bemused but amused by him.
    • He’s very rarely seen droids before and has a hard time thinking of them as not being animals, and Chopper can’t seem to find the heart to do anything but half-heartedly grumble when Ezra pets him and chatters on like he did with his wolves.
      • He was allowed to bring one wolf, though he bartered for ten. He managed to get two, as long as they wouldn’t reproduce. (He brought a pair anyway, because puppies are cute :D)
      • The wolves bid him farewell without much adieu, pushing him on to his new pack. Ezra feels kinda abandoned, kinda honored by their support.
    • Zeb finds Ezra hilarious, mostly because he can’t insults seriously when they include words like “doth” and “thou.” But he was incredibly educated on Lasan, so they bond over Ezra’s love of books. Lasan had an oral tradition, so Zeb teaches Ezra how to recite some stories.
      • even though it’s kinda funny to listen to Ezra speak, Zeb’s eventually the one who teaches him how to regulate his speech and language so he sounds normal
    • Sabine teaches Ezra all about technology and how institutions like school, hospitals, things like that work. He teaches her how to hunt and build fires without technology. 
      • Sabine tends to think of him as being very innocent, until at one point they got into an altercation and Ezra nearly ripped out a guy’s throat with his teeth. Yikes, Sabine thought, and rethought her opinion.
      • The guy is tough and scrappy - but not naive or innocent, just ignorant.
    • Hera helps Ezra learn how to establish and work within relationships and boundaries. He’s read a lot, so he’s got the theory down, but not the actual practice.
      • She helps him mediate between what’s considered appropriate in terms of attack and what’s considered flat-out freaky and how animals are good in some respects to mimic but not in others.
    • Kanan, because he brought Ezra on, deals with the more basic areas of Ezra’s life. He convinces Ezra to wear shoes, shows him how to use cutlery (and because he was diplomatically trained by the Jedi the rest of the crew is awed by his odd and extended knowledge of cultural differences in table-settings) and, of course, how to be a Jedi. 
      • it’s different than Kanan expected because, well, Ezra can touch and be apart of the Living Force to a point where Kanan doesn’t even understand and even asks Ezra to help him understand this, but works with Ezra in terms of perspective and Ezra’s place in the galaxy. Wolves are just wolves, but Ezra’s something more.
      • Kanan’s more just trying to tame Ezra for more of “I don’t want to feel guilty if the Empire gets him” point of view and it feels like a fruitless endeavor until (especially because of the “you can’t take sixty wolves with you into space thing”), late one night, Ezra knocks at the door to his cabin.
        • “I loved the wolves,” Ezra says frankly because the kid does not know how to beat around the bush. “But they are wolves. And I love you, too, but you are not pack. You are family.”
        • Kanan maybe tears up a bit.
  • Raising a half-domesticated wild child’s a bit rough and they all appreciate when Ezra can finally start to use contractions and make jokes and normal kid stuff, but, damn if Zeb and Sabine didn’t enjoy seeing Ezra’s wolves take down two Inquisitors before Ezra cried, “I strike thee with the teeth of justice!” and cracks Seventh Sister’s hand in half with a well-placed bite after she creepily stroked him one time too many.

sorry for this embarrassment, anon, but I consider it my duty to take wacky AU ideas to the logical extreme in many varied attempts to get kicked out of the fandom. 

also, this may’ve just strayed from Ezra being raised by wolves…? but i hope you enjoyed it! :3

yesfangirl  asked:

Could you do a small story or an extended prompt about Bree and Roger telling Jamie and Claire Mandy's full name after she was born. The books never extended on that although I'm pretty sure it was Amanda Claire FAITH McKenzie. You are so good writing the emotional stuff and I'd give anything to read about that conversation! Thanks Kathleen :)

So apparently Mandy’s name is actually Amanda Claire Hope MacKenzie. But I wanted to give you something, so I tweaked it a bit and came up with this wee thing. Hope you like it @yesfangirl! <3

Worthy of Love

“She ought to have another name.” Bree told me one afternoon, while nursing Mandy. We were peacefully sitting in my surgery, after I had made my daily evaluation of her baby’s welfare with my Pinard stethoscope. A week had passed since my shattering diagnosis of patent ductus arteriosus and the daunting realization that Amanda’s life was in danger since the moment she had left the safety of Brianna’s womb.

“Is Amanda Claire MacKenzie not enough, do you think?” I asked her, my hands occupied with the construction of a pleasant habitat for my newest friends, a couple of plump and precious leeches. “The more names you give her, the harder it will be for her to learn them; not to mention writing them.”

“Yes.” She rocked slightly on the chair, her eyes inevitably drawn to Mandy’s blue fingernails, a tell-tale sign that betrayed her oxygen deprivation. It was a permanent competition between the need to feed and the need to breathe – one that seemed only unfair, robbing every happiness of that moment of bonding between mother and child. “But I’m not happy with it. It’s missing something.”

“Maybe you can pay homage to someone important to Roger?” I suggested amiably. “Since she already has the burden of my name.”

Brianna clicked her tongue; it never seized to amaze me how much she sounded like Jamie doing so. How two people could be so similar in the simple things that made me love them so irrevocably.

“It’s not a burden and we both agreed on it.” She changed the baby’s position on her arms, ready to put her to burp after another excruciating session of sucking and sleeping from her heart’s tiredness. “Besides, Roger chose her first name. Amanda.” Bree smiled a little, but her voice was husky and I could see the sadness and the constant concern behind her eyes. “He said he loved her so much since the moment he first laid eyes on her that Marjorie wouldn’t measure up. It had to be Amanda – Lovable. Worthy of love.”

“What were you thinking, then?” I asked, trying to distract her from the pit of despair she was about to plunge herself in. The same hole from which Jamie and myself managed to escape each morning since that unforgettable day, only with the help of each other’s arms.

“Faith.” Bree said softly. “I was thinking, maybe…Amanda Claire Faith MacKenzie.”

“Sweetheart…” I whispered, coming closer in order to put my arm around her. “Amanda is not your sister.” I swallowed hard. “Faith she - was so small and had such a hazardous delivery into this world – she never stood a chance.” My voice trembled, but just a little – I was trying very hard to be strong for us both.

“I know that.” She sighed. “You keep saying that she has a fighting chance if – when – we go back. But…” Bree turned her face away from me, but not fast enough to hide a traitorous tear. “I wished my sister was here with me, Mama. I wanted so badly to have an older sister, someone to look up to, to tell me everything was going to be alright.” Her voice almost broke this time. “To stay here, with you….when I’m gone.”

“Bree.” I caressed her beautiful red hair, a deep contrast with her own daughter’s dark tufts. “I’ve said goodbye to you once in the past, thinking that probably I would never see you again – everyday wishing for a sign that you were happy in your time and knowing I wouldn’t get one.” I kissed her temple. “But you came to us and we’ve had more together than I ever dreamt of.”

“How did you do it?” She cleaned a tear with the back of her big fair hand. “Survive the…the loss of your child? Of the dreams you had for her the moment you knew she was there, inside you? The dreams you shared along with your own blood inside your belly?”

“I don’t know.” I answered honestly. “I thought I wouldn’t, but – I had your father and the gift Mother Hildegard gave me.”

“Gift?” She looked at me, her blue eyes surrounded by red streaks and greyish blots from the crying and the lack of sleep. “What gift?”

“Well,” I said slowly, playing with Mandy’s little toes and watching her yawn. “Mother Hildegard named her. She christened her and gave her a name while I was too sick to do anything really. Faith. Once I knew, I thought Mother had the oddest and most inappropriate sense of humour.”

“It was a weird choice.” She agreed, patting Mandy’s bottom. “What do you mean by a gift, then?”

“She gave me what I needed.” I answered serenely. “For faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I quoted the Bible’s verse. “I had my daughter, even if for the briefest of times. But what I came to realize, you see, is that even though she was gone I was still her mother. She still…was is.”

Brianna nodded, trapped inside my words.

“I needed faith to heal of everything that happened in France. Each day I woke up; went through the motions, like I was sleepwalking when the pain was too much; I slept and started it all over again. I craved repentance and salvation. And it eventually came and I was able to smile and live again.”

“So it is a good name?” She insisted.

“I think what you need is something else entirely – just as powerful and sometimes just as hard to find.” I said softly, already storing in my memory the image of my two girls together as they were now, peacefully and happily close to my heart.

“And what is that?” Bree asked, her hand searching my own, our fingers entwining like we used to do when she was a little girl, afraid of how high the swing would go. But she had always been brave; she used to laugh and ask to go even higher, conquering her fears.

This time I wouldn’t be there to help her be brave; but she had a little hand of her own to hold now.

Hope.” I whispered and kissed her ever so softly.

Joss Stone showers children with affection as she visits Prince Harry's charity in Lesotho

Prince Harry is set to arrive in Lesotho to open a new children’s centre for his charity Sentebale on Thursday, but ahead of his visit, other stars have been touching down in the landlocked nation. Joss Stone, Harry’s long-time friend, and Call the Midwife’s Laura Main were two of the famous faces who made the trip.

As ambassadors for the Prince’s charity, Joss and Laura were showing their support for Sentebale, which helps some of the most vulnerable children in the African nation. Many of the youngsters have been orphaned after their parents died in Lesotho’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The visit at Phelisanong Children’s Home was clearly an emotional day for Joss and Laura, but also one filled with joy and happiness.


Joss Stone played with children at the Phelisanong Children’s Home

The 28-year-old songbird played with the kids, cuddling them and feeding them. Taken by one little child Monvake, Joss broke into song and serenaded the youngster alongside a carer called Ntseliseng.

The Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin’ on Me) star also cradled one young child in her lap while they played.


The soul singer is an ambassador for Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale, based in Lesotho

Meanwhile, Laura, 34, huddled the children together for a big group selfie and entertained the youngsters by flicking through the photos afterwards. The actress, who plays Sister Bernadette on Call the Midwife, also let one little girl try on her straw hat.

The stars were visiting the children’s home ahead of Prince Harry’s arrival in Lesotho. The Queen’s grandson will open a new flagship unit, the Mamohato Children’s Centre, which houses 96 beds and helps children overcome the stigma surrounding their diagnosis with HIV.


Call the Midwife star Laura Main grouped the kids together for a selfie

After visiting Lesotho – the nation dubbed the “Kingdom of the Sky” – during his gap year in 2004, Harry decided to team up with Prince Seeiso to start the children’s charity.

Sentebale, which means Forget-me-not in the local Basotho language, was launched in memory of their late mothers.


The actress is also a supporter of Harry’s charity

The new centre has been named after Seeiso’s mother Queen Mamohato while a dining hall with sweeping views over the imposing Thaba Bosiu plateau will be named the Diana, Princess of Wales Hall.

HELLO!’s royal correspondent Emily Nash will be joining Harry every step of the way on his African tour of Lesotho and South Africa, and will share all the details in a travel diary on HELLO! Online.