Eoin was panicking. He hadn been this nervous in a long time. Hell, he didn remember EVER being this nervous. But here he was, pacing, palms sweaty, heart racing, waiting outside of Ashlings office for her to arrive. She had said she would be here at nine, but in his stressed state, he hadn been able to sit still. Eamon finally kicked him out of their shared motel room, after he lost patience at his rounds about the room and he found himself at her work a full half an hour early.

Why was he so nervous? It wasn like he hadn talked to her alone before. Sure, the last time had been brief, but he had managed. This time though would be much longer, and he was going to be answering all her questions, which were many if he had to guess from their conversations last night.

He had been shocked when he answered the phone and heard her voice on the other end. He thought for sure that he would have to be the one to approach her again once everything had settled a bit. Having her reach out to him within the same day was incredibly promising and he ended up falling asleep after their call ended with a smile on his face.

But he was going to have to explain everything: the history of his people (their people, really), why her parents left, her magic, her family including her brothers (who more than likely will also possess magic), and the family her parents had left behind when they moved to Canada. The thing that terrified him the most was her reaction. Would she believe him? Would she think he was completely batshit? He understood that this sort of conversation would completely change her life, especially if he got her to agree to what his ultimate goal was: To bring her back to Ireland with him.

The nervous energy suddenly left him, his nerves still raw, but he was suddenly tired. What if she didn agree to come back? He couldn go back without her, for multiple reasons, the greatest of which is their bond. There was no way he could leave her here and feel the constant pulling and longing for the rest of his days. He would truly go insane then. He was so greatly **ed.

He was jolted from his swirling thoughts by a car pulling into the parking lot. He spotted a bright flash of red hair from inside the car, clearly announcing who was inside. His nerves came slamming back tenfold, causing a shaky exhale, and sweat to form on the back of his neck.

He watched as she climbed out of her car, bag slung over her shoulder, and he was once again struck by her presence. Her dark jeans, black floral blouse, and gray cardigan made for a casual yet professional look. Her hair was down in loose, natural curls. Her makeup was light, simply highlighting her bright green eyes. Beautiful, he thought.

But it wasn just her beauty that struck him. Once again, Ashlings magic slammed into him. It was not painful or unpleasant, but wrapped around him almost curiously, seeming to push at his magic. He felt as if her power seemed to acknowledge who he was and then settled over him, like a warm blanket settling over his skin. It helped settle and calm his nerves, the fact that her magic accepted him. Maybe, that would mean she would be more willing to accept him as well.

”Good morning, ” she called, smiling toward him, seeming a bit nervous herself. She stopped in front of him, shifting her bag from one shoulder to the other. ”How are you? ”

”Im well, thank you, ” he answered, trying to bring his thoughts under control. The last thing he needed was for her to think he was panicking. He wanted her to see him as sure and steady in what was happening, knowing that she could rely on him. He wanted so badly to be someone she could lean on. ”Did you sleep well? ”

She laughed softly. ”Not at all. My mind wouldn shut off. I did take advantage of the extra time though. ”

”Oh really? And how did you do that? ” He asked, his eyebrows raising in question.

”I made a list of questions to ask you, so I don forget anything. ” Of course, she did. She seemed the type to be hyper-organized always.

”Well, I hope I can answer all of them for you, ” he answered sincerely. He truly did. He can only imagine what it must be like to have such life-changing, seemingly crazy-sounding, news dropped on you and have to sit on it overnight with no outlet at all.

”I do too, ” she said simply, a small smile on her face before she stepped around him to the door. ”Come on in. ”

He followed her inside and, unlike yesterday, was able to take a moment to look around the office. The building had very clearly been a home at one point but had been repurposed for business matters. Its ivy-covered; the stone front gave a cozy cottage feel to the structure. Once inside, it was spacious and bright with fall sunshine falling through the windows.

They turned left from the entrance and entered what had once probably been a living room but was now converted into Ashlings office. A wooden desk stood in the middle with two chairs in front and an office chair behind. A large picture window faced the front of the property, dousing the whole room in sunlight. A fireplace stood in a corner behind the desk, a warmth that was probably appreciated during the harsh Canadian winter.

Eoin walked towards one of the two chairs sitting in front of the desk. Ashling placed her bag on the desk and was about to walk behind it to sit in the office chair when Eoin reached out and took her hand in his. The now-familiar zing of their bond sharing magic between them, zipped across his skin as he gently pulled her back to sit in the chair to the side of his, turning his chair to face her more than the desk.

”This conversation is quite personal, ” he said quietly. She settled into the chair, looking at his hand around hers, but not actively moving to separate from him. ”Better to do this face to face without furniture in between. ”

”Ok, ” she breathed, seemingly dazed for a moment, probably from the same energy swap that he felt. He wondered briefly if she enjoyed the sensation as much as he did.

”So, Ash…what is your first question? ” He watched her attention snapping back from where their hands still sat tangled together and turned back to him.

”Oh, right! ” She pulled a piece of folded paper out of her pocket and opened it, if not a little awkwardly with only one hand. ”Umm, basics first I think. ” She paused momentarily, reading over her list before finally deciding on where to start. ”What exactly is a druid? History describes them as social leaders, scholars, and religious leaders in ancient Celtic society. ”

”Well, that is all true! ” He said, sinking forward to rest his elbows on his knees, nerves leaving him to be replaced with excitement. ”Though religious leaders are a little misconstrued. Ancient druids would lead religious ceremonies and would study the signs left by the gods, but they didn preach to the people like more modern religious leaders. ”

”Ok, that makes sense, this would have been pre-Christianity, ” she said thoughtfully, ”What else? What does history miss? ”

”Honestly, quite a bit. Druidic history was mostly oral, passed down through memorized stories, songs, and lessons. When they were finally written down, it was by monastic priests who were prone to editing to suit their Christian purposes. The only other written records of druids were the accounts of Roman and Greek academics and conquerors, like Pliny the Elder or Julius Caesar. ”

Eoin thought back to how his father explained their history to him as a child. He had grown up with their culture and had a basic knowledge to refer to. Ashling was completely in the dark and it made him unsure as to where to start.

”In ancient times, it was fully acknowledged that druids were magic. They had connections to the Gods and the Earth that others simply did not. But once the Romans invaded, they began persecuting druids as a way of weakening Celtic tribes to conquer them. With the influx of Christianity into the region, later on, the persecution became even worse. Eventually, to avoid being completely wiped out, we had to go into hiding. ”

Ashling had also shifted forward in her seat at this point, the history student clearing shining through in her eyes. ”How did they do that? ”

Eoin smiled slyly, winking at her before saying, ”Magic. ”

”Well, I could have guessed that myself, thank you very much. ” Ashling had a look of agitation that caused Eoin to laugh.

”Sorry, I couldn resist. In all honesty, though, it is the truth. They created pockets of land that were only accessible to those with druidic magic through a door of sorts. The pockets still exist! There is one outside of Toormore, which is where I, and your parents, are from. Its called Tearmann an Deiscirt in Irish or the Southern Refuge. There are five large pockets, including ours, one in each cardinal direction and a central one which acts like our capital for all intents and purposes along with many smaller areas scattered across the country, and that is just within Ireland! ”

”Thats incredible! Like a fully functioning nation! ” Ashling looked amazed, wonder shining in her eyes. Something warm bloomed in Eoins chest at her expression, her enthusiasm seemingly contagious.

”We are a fully functioning nation, essentially. We have a central leadership, along with leadership among our different regional areas. ”

Ashling seemed to absorb that information for a moment, processing everything before snapping her attention back to Eoin and shaking the slip of paper still in her hand. ”Ok, back to my list! What exactly can a druid do? Magically speaking, I mean. ” She didn even seem skeptical anymore about the whole magic thing, making Eoin want to dance. She was believing him!

He thought about how to answer her question properly. Druidic magic was complicated. How could he even begin to explain in a way that would make any sort of sense? Suddenly, an idea popped into his head. He looked down; their hands were still connected. At some point, Ashling had unconsciously entwined her fingers in his, the energy still thrumming between them. He drew their hands towards his body, pulling Ashlings closer to him.

”Why don I show you? ”

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