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Characters in order of appearance:
Peter Jarrow: Ryan's and the twins' brother. He is 26 at the beginning of the story.
Ryan Jarrow: Peter's brother. He is 13 at the start of the story.
Christian and Malthe Jarrow: Peter's and Ryan's father remarried. His new wife already had them from her previous marriage. They are seven at the start of the story.
Rick Meyers: Close, personal friend of Peter from when they were three years old. He is 26 at the start of the story.
George Anders: Close, personal friend of Peter from when they were six years old. He is 25 at the start of the story.
Benjamin White: Ryan's best friend in the city. He is 13 at the beginning of the story. Giles Daren: Brave Lake Manor's Buttler.
Charles Cox: Brave Lake Manor Chauffeur.
Harry Faring: Servant in Brave Lake Manor.
Eduard Williams: Appointed manager of the Manor and the Estate by Pe-ter's father.
Joey Harrington: Owner of Joey's smoothies in Brave Lake Village.
Terry Jones: Teenager from Brave Lake Village, 16 yo.
Jason Cooper: New friend of Ryan just turned 13.
Maria Cooper: Waitress at Brave Lake Diner. Jason's sister, 23 yo.
Nicole Alford: Head cook at Brave Lake Manor.
Sebastian Tommas: New friend of Ryan and cousin of Jason. 14 years old.
Johanna Saunders: A girl Ryan meets in the mall, from a nearby village. Also 13 years old.
Jack Graham: Local Karate sensei. A total authoritarian character, bully by nature to a degree of psychopath.
Uriel Timmy Hastings: Teenager from Jack's dojo that decides to leave and start at Peter's, is the one from lake confrontation with Ryan and Terry that de-cides to leave and not get involved.
Enora Harrington: Ryan's girlfriend.
Ian Burges: Fire station Captain.
Owen Wright: Constable of Brave Lake Village.
Adam Foster: Christian's friend.
Amanda Raven: Malthe's friend from school
Bryan Harris: Malthe's friend from school.
Victoria Wilson: Enora's friend.
Samuel Walker: Malthe's friend from the swimming lessons.
Certa tamquam Leo.
Two days passed really slowly for the residents of Brave lake Manor and the village. It was as if everything was at a standstill, frozen in time by a vengeful god. Peter and Christian were almost always at the hospital. Ryan's and Malthe's room gave a feeling of fullness as it had been almost overrun by flower pots and get well cards from everyone who knew and loved the Jarrow brothers. Rick and George had had to leave due to their jobs, but phoned their parents or Peter almost every hour.
The first twenty four hours had been intense with doctors and nurses running about trying to keep Ryan and Malthe alive. Twice had Peter heard the remote, muffled voices of a nurse yelling the "Clear" signal for everyone to stop touching Ryan so that she could zap him with the defibrillator.
The waiting room always seemed to have people in it as Jason, Sebastian and everyone who knew and were friendly with Malthe and/or Ryan. Peter of course had not once left the hospital. He had not slept for two days straight. Maria and everyone else would come and go as their work and sleep allowed.
Bryan had come in crying how it was all his fault at not speaking out earlier that it would have prevented this from happening. Peter had hugged the little boy soothing him, telling him the truth that it was not his fault over and over until the boy had calmed down.
Samuel also came by, his father offering any help he could provide as a crown attorney. Peter had thanked him, but he couldn't think of something just then.
Nearing the end of the first day, one of the head nurses informed them that Malthe was recovering nicely, but Ryan was not out of the woods yet. It wasn't until the start of the third day after the incident that the doctor informed them that Ryan looked to be coming out of the woods.
"Hello, love...yes Ryan will be okay, the doctor just told us. How are you? Good to hear, yes I'll be good once those monsters are caught one way or anoth-er...okay I'll see you and Jason later love!" Peter spoke with Maria.
As he terminated the call he saw Owen pass by with two other police officers and a teenager between holding a hand in plaster cast in obvious pain.
Owen turned his head and saw him looking instantly worried.
"Is he one of Jack's students?" Peter asked as Owen preemptively blocked his way.
"We don't really know, Jack doesn't keep a dojo roster...probably on purpose and against regulations," Owen said.
The boy leered at him smirking victoriously.
Peter grinned and if he hadn't already decided so before he did at that moment that enough was enough. He grinned at the teenager.
"You look rather pleased with yourself for a guy with a broken hand," Peter said calmly, his hands in his pockets.
"I broke my hand riding my bike! You look calm for a man whose brothers are dead!" the teenager said almost laughing.
"Dead? Who said they're dead? What are you talking about?" Peter chuckled, "Ohhhh you mean the lie the police and doctors said so that whoever did this wouldn't come back and try to finish the job while my brothers recovered and give the police some time to catch whoever did this? No they are very much alive and actually they should soon be waking up to tell us who hurt them," Peter said grinning evilly.
The teenager's face turned to shock
"Oh and you should call a lawyer, they know you didn't break that arm riding a bike and they'll drill you like crazy," Peter said and left.
Owen and the two police officers took the teenager to a room and handcuffed his good hand to the bed. One of them called his parents and a number he gave them.
Twenty minutes later a lawyer came. They asked the boy a few questions, but his lawyer dismissed most of them as they had no evidence. In the end, he asked them to go outside so he could talk to his client.
Owen left the two other officers outside his room's door and decided to go see Peter and give him a piece of his mind about revealing to the teenager about his brothers being alive.
"Peter! Peter! Maltheee is awake!!" He heard Christian's pixy voice ema-nating from inside the room.
He entered hurriedly inside the room to see Christian hugging Malthe lying next to him showering him in kisses.
Owen heard the young voice as well and followed Peter inside the room.
Peter kissed Malthe on his forehead giving him a tight hug while being careful and mindful of the boy's bandages and injuries.
He saw Ryan's eyes open, a sea of sadness mirroring in them. He smiled to his younger brother with all his heart, feeling such joy that both his brothers were alive and would get better.
He hugged his Ry.
"I'm glad both of you are okay and I know it's not the most appropriate time but...do you remember who did this?" Owen asked standing near Ryan's side of the room.
Ryan looked over from Owen to Peter and then to Malthe who nodded and waved to Peter who sat on his bed.
Malthe raised a hand and, pressing on Peter's shoulder close to the nape, he brought him close to his face.
"I warned them, I warned them not to enrage a lion if they cannot withstand his breath on their neck, but they did not listen. Go. Go and fight like a lion but remember that even lions need a mate to share their pride with," Malthe whispered, but due to the complete silence in the room it was heard by Ryan and Owen.
Malthe looked at Owen and spoke up in his soft voice. "Jack, Terry and a few others tried to kill us."
Peter's face drained of almost all colour. His eyes betraying only the surface of the hatred he was currently feeling, turned into a mask of death. He stormed out of the room, his fists clenched so tight that the palm of his hand was white, almost devoid of blood.
Owen tried to go after him, but Ryan grabbed his hand and stopped him.
"No! W...wait...I've never seen Peter like this before. He...he won't stop, he won't recognise you as one of the best friends you've become to him...if you try to stop him....you'll have to shoot him...get Maria...only she can calm him down."
Owen nodded and left with a sigh.
Peter had just come out of the hospital's main entrance when he saw Jack, Terry and a few others come down the road from their dojo.
Peter stood a few meters down from the entrance of the hospital and waited until they came closer. Terry stood right in front of him and Jack a few meters behind him. Some of the other students of Jack's dojo, adults and older teens, started circling him.
"I warned you both...I told you that you can fuck with me as much as you want, but not to mess with my family and my livelihood..." Peter growled, his eyes, his face betraying nothing of what was seething below the surface. Terry faltered and looked at Jack who was grinning.
"Why? Why did you beat up and stab my brothers? What did a thirteen year old and a nine year old ever do to you?" he said looking past Terry straight into Jack's eyes. There was no plea in his voice, no emotion. It was more of an accusation than a plea.
People had gathered around in a safe distance ignoring the increasing rainfall.
A lightning shuttered, the sky falling somewhere in the distance.
"Why not? You have ruined my life, my dojo stands empty... almost... your brother broke Ian's arm and so he can't take part in the upcoming national tournament... without that golden medal and the money from the prise the bank will take my dojo... the people of the town no longer respect me, YOU HAVE TAKEN EVERYTHING FROM ME!" Jack lost his calm enface for the first time in public.
"No...you did that all on your own...your dojo stands empty because you are a bully who teaches through intimidation and hatred. Ryan broke your student's arm because he was defending his and his brother's lives against armed assailants and had it been me, I would have broken his neck," Peter said, this time looking at Terry's eyes that looked increasingly afraid and no longer his usual bullying self.
"The people of this town never respected you. They were only afraid of you, and I have not taken everything from you yet... you still have your life... but it's neither of all of this is, is it? You attacked them for a different reason didn't you?
"You probably saw them...experimenting and you thought in your sick mind that they were what? Faggots that deserved and desired to get fucked?
"Even if any of them are actually homosexual...gay...whatever you want to call it, it doesn't mean they would want anything to do with you and your non-existent...boyhood." Peter spoke calmly taunting the man, uncontrollable rage bubbling below, desiring, demanding to be set loose.
"THEY WERE FUCKING KISSING TONGUE AND ALL!! YES THEY ARE FUCKING FAGGOTS THAT DESERVED TO GET FUCKED!!! BOYS ARE MEANT TO KISS GIRLS! AND I AM MEANT TO FUCK FAGGOTS! Terry and you ten take him out," Jack said to Terry and the rest of his students that had by now circled Peter.
"They are twins, their bond is not for me to understand and certainly not you, and what they like to do is not for you to judge. And no if anyone is gay doesn't mean they are faggots and it certainly doesn't mean that they want, have to or desire to do anything with a sick fuck like you," Peter replied in a death mask of a face and ashen voice.
"Also you probably saw and hurt two different boys, you didn't see them two kissing did you? You saw one of them kissing someone else...but you are stupid enough not to have the mental capacity to understand the difference or to understand the difference between two underage boys experimenting and fooling around and two individuals actually having gay sex," Peter said, his voice beginning to break from the surfacing rage.
His hands relaxed but yet full of energy stood by his sides, his face looking ahead had not missed or not calculated the others on his flanks and back.
Terry took a step towards him. Peter looked at him.
"You beat up a cub and you think you can defeat the alpha male? You have no honour, no courage, you couldn't defeat me if your lives depended on it, but you are but a symptom of the disease and not the disease itself. I will deal with both of you now."
He spoke to Terry, his eyes looking him and the others in his field of view calculating, fighting the fight in his mind before it actually even begun.
"Come on then you pack of craven jackals. Let me show what a real monster looks like," he said in more of an animalistic growl than a human voice. Three of the eleven men made an instinctive back step out of fear.
Terry let out a scream of hatred and attacked him. Peter side stepped in lightning speed, avoided Terry's incoming punch and slapped him in the face, without stopping. He made a one hundred and eighty turn pivot and buried his elbow on the teenager's nape.
Before the move was over he had already picked his next target and went straight for him sidestepping on the right, on the man's exposed side on the last possible second and raised his fist on the man's jaw while grabbing with his other hand the exposed man's arm and pulling it down with a savage pull. The man's shoulder popped out as his jaw was shuttered from the punch.
Not a split second later, Peter joined his hands and with open palms pushed the disabled man backwards. The man was pummeled backwards two or so meters before falling on the floor crying.
Jason had lied to his sister, telling her that he would go to school this morning when in truth he had gone straight for Jack's dojo as in his mind there was no doubt of who had injured his best friend and Malthe and wanted to keep an eye on them and if he saw them doing anything iffy call Peter and warn him.
So for the whole day he watched the dojo and those who entered and exited the dojo until near the afternoon he saw Jack, Terry and some others exit and head towards the hospital.
In a panic Jason kept trying to call Peter but he would not answer. He tried the Constable and he wouldn't answer either.
They arrived in front of the hospital and he heard Peter talk to them, taunting them, provoking them.
Then Terry launched himself at Peter and, in an instant along with the heavens above, it was as if Peter exploded in a flurry of movement and energy.
As Peter took down Terry as if the teenager was nothing more than a punch bag the hair on the back of Jason's head stood upright and Goosebumps traversed his skin. This was not his Sensei, this was not the kind, compassionate, funny man he had come to know, admire and love almost like a father figure.
This was a feral animal. In Jason's mind Peter was clad in armour and a two-handed sword in his hand as he served blow after blow on incoming trolls and evil creatures. In reality, Jason was seeing Peter unleash every bit of frustration, hatred and anger that he had gathered throughout his life onto the people who dared try and kill his brothers.
Turning around on his axis, Peter saw two men charging at him. He allowed them to catch up to him and as they extended their arms to catch his hands so that a third eighteen year old looking teenager coming behind them could punch at him without worry he grabbed their wrists and bowed forward in quick, brutal movement.
The two men cried in agony as their wrists broke and one of them vomited from the intensity of the pain. As they lay on the floor, Peter turned to face the teenager coming to his back and committed a back kick catching both their heads knocking them out cold, alive but unconscious.
He turned his attention to the teenager and using one of his hands he diverted the teenager's incoming punch to the left of his left shoulder and punched his gut with the other, the eighteen year old bend in two from the pain. Peter pushed him over, making him fall to the floor clutching onto his stomach.
Jason remembered one of the first things Peter had told them in one of the lessons. "Aikido is a noble martial art, we chose not to harm others but defend ourselves. It teaches self-discipline and self-restraint, but above all it teaches us Budo." Peter certainly had no restraints anymore in hurting Jack and his students and Jason did not blame him in the slightest.
Next Peter saw the remaining six assailants coming all together at him, hoping to overwhelm him. He picked the largest, bulkiest of them and pivoting on the spot he grabbed the man's hand.
Next thing the man knew he was being pulled forwards, he fell face first on the wet pavement in front of another nineteen year old looking teenager who didn't have enough time to stop and he tripped on the falling man. Peter kicked the nineteen year old's face knocking him out cold, his jaw dislocated, then in-stantly he turned around falling on his knees to regain control and pivoted around as three of the men were close to him.
He caught two of them, one by his wrist and one by his knee and pulled them downwards making them lose their balance and fall behind him, then while turning he rose kicking their faces in consecutive kicks.
At the last moment he saw behind him the last man coming at him with a knife drawn and held extended in front of him.
He took a step forward and then turned in lightning fast speed catching the man in surprise, he grabbed his wrist and "entered" his personal space, crossing in front of him then raising his arms keeping them in front of his face and turned again bringing the man's knife-holding hand in contact with his nape, the point of the knife touching the protruding lump of the last vertebrae at the base of the skull.
Peter said nothing, but the man understood what was about to happen if he didn't let go of the knife.
With an animal like growl, Peter pulled his hands downwards as if he was holding a Japanese katana sword and took a deep bow like movement keeping his back straight.
The man let go of the blade the last second and fell roughly on the ground the blade bouncing a few centimeters away from him. Peter raised his free hand and punched his face once knocking him out cold. He stood up and looked at Jack like a wild predatory animal stalking at his prey.
"Malthe warned you not to enrage a lion if you can't withstand his breath on your neck. You should have heeded his warning..." he said, his face twisted in a gnarl-like grimace and without further words or warning started running the ten or so meters between them with Jack doing so as well.
At the last second Peter bellowed a roar-like scream and jumped on the air looking like trinity from the first Matrix movie before landing both his knees on Jack's torso making him fall backwards on the pavement and knocking the breath out of his lungs. Peter landed on him and started pummeling him with punches. Jack was caught completely off guard by Peter's last moment change of tactic and unable to resist as his hands were trapped under Peter's knees.
Jason saw Owen run towards them with Maria next to him.
"HOW --PUNCH- DARE -PUNCH- YOU --PUNCH- TOUCH -PUNCH- A HAIR -PUNCH- ON MY-PUNCH- BROTHERS' -PUNCH- HEADS -PUNCH- YOU ANIMAL-PUNCH- I WIL TEAR -PUNCH- YOU LIMB-PUNCH- TO LIMB!!!"
As he was ready to launch another punch on Jack's face he felt a hand on his shoulder squeezing it gently.
He lowered his hand as if he was a puppet on strings and looked back already knowing who it is.
Getting up and turned round burying his face on her shoulders hugging her close and tight wanting to unify them in one entity.
"Come on... they're not worth it...I...I love you so much...I don't want to lose you because of this filth," she whispered to him, calming the animal inside him, caressing his hair.
He looked at her and smiled before kissing her.
"Marry me Maria! I can't think of my life without you!" he told her meaning every word.
Smiling, she nodded. "Yes," she said, her face covered by droplets of rain and tears of happiness.
They walked over to Jason and Owen.
Peter offered his wrists to Owen who looked at him as if he was some kind of extraterrestrial alien.
"What do you want me to do? Arrest you? Are you crazy? There isn't a person in the Village that will testify against you, everyone loves and respects you and your brothers too much.
"You will have to come and give a testimony in the coming days but the evidence mounting against them are...overwhelming and I expect at least one of them to testify against the others for a plea deal. You were defending your brothers' lives," Owen said patting Peter on the shoulder.
He went in ahead and started arresting those that were still conscious. The EMTs rushed in the heavy rain to gather the rest under the watchful eye of Owen and his officers.
Ryan opened his eyes sluggishly the next morning with sharp pains in his injuries as they had begun to mend. Maria was reading a book while sitting be-tween his and Malthe's bed. Peter was talking to the phone and Christian was ly-ing on Malthe's bed and hugging his brother.
Malthe was asleep with Christian humming some kind of tune near his ear.
Ryan groaned as he tried to stretch clutching his stitches. Christian heard him and turned his head grinning instantly and widely when he saw Ryan awake.
The young boy jumped up from Malthe's bed and ran over to Ryan's, hugging him so close Ryan could barely breathe, showering him with kisses all over his face.
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For saving my Malthee!" Christian kept repeating. Maria just had to chuckle at the young boy's show of affection for Ryan's actions when he could have just surrendered to the cold and blood loss.
Ryan breathed in Christian's boy scent which somehow calmed him down but he felt so sad as if a vast sea of sadness was threatening to overwhelm him.
Peter terminated the call and walked over to Ryan's bed giving his brother a hug and a kiss on his forehead.
"When are you two getting married?" Ryan asked in apparent apathy looking down. "I heard one of the nurses talk about it earlier..."
"This weekend in the Manor, the Mayor of Brave lake Village will do the honours. I've only invited a few friends and people from the village."
"Why not marry in a church or something?" Ryan asked not really caring but feeling as if he should, Peter was his older brother after all and he had not done anything to him, maybe that was the problem Ryan thought.
"No I am...done with all of that," Peter said definitively.
"Have you decided on the best man?" Ryan asked still looking away from Peter.
Peter smiled, "Well, Rick and George are my oldest and best friends but...they'll have to be content with baptizing my children. I want you and the twins to be my best men, no one else other than Maria are as important in my life currently."
Ryan's eyes seemed to be swelling up with surprise and tears. "Uh...ehh...wh...will I even be out of the hospital by then?" Ryan asked stammering.
"Actually young man, we'll be releasing both you and Malthe tomorrow but you'll have to avoid any and all physical activities for at least a couple of months, and I'll be writing you a letter for your school justifying your absences until Christmas," the doctor said entering the room.
"YAY!!" Christian yelled excited and happy.
Malthe had awakened and was observing everything in his usual manner.
Ryan nodded before Peter took the doctor outside where they talked for a while. Obviously Peter was asking him questions about his brothers' health and recovery.
"Are Rick and George still here?" Ryan asked.
"No sweetheart, they had to go back to the city but their parents are still here having accepted Peter's offer. Rick is making his arrangements from the city and he wants to move in the Village as soon as possible. George will move in as soon as Katie can find a job in either this village or another one nearby.
"Ry!!" Enora's voice reverberated across the room as she and Jason entered it. Enora ran to him hugging him, giving him a kiss on his cheek.
She sat next to him holding his hand in hers blushing slightly which gave her pale cheeks a rosy composition.
Maria and Peter had to chuckle and shake their heads. Jason gave his sister a peck on her cheek and shook Peter's hand who just pulled him close to a hug.
They spent some time talking and laughing even if Ryan seemed completely out of it.
The next day Jason and Sebastian helped Peter and Maria get Ryan some clothes and stuff they had brought over home while Christian and Enora helped Malthe in and out of the car when they arrived at the Manor.
Bryan and Samuel were already there with their parents, both boys basically just jumping up and down from their desire to see their best friend again.
Both boys had visited Malthe in the hospital but their parents had not let them go every day not wanting to tire Malthe even if his friends' visit would cheer him up.
It was a slow few days for Ryan, mostly lying on his bed or playing video games.
Malthe had his textbooks and seemed even more lost in them than before and Christian...Christian was a surprise to Ryan and Peter as well as everyone else who had thought that he would have been glued to Malthe.
Christian seemed to be going even more to the forest and lake or playing with Adam and his friends.
Ryan thought he was drowning in a sea of sadness and he could not see a way out. His sense seemed enhanced, but he felt as if he had no energy at all and all the energy of the world at the same time which was confusing the hell out of him.
Finally the day of the marriage came, and Ryan had just worn his tuxedo pants when there was a knock on his door.
"Y...yes?" Ryan asked feeling drained emotionally.
"Ry, it's me, can I come in?" Peter asked from outside the door.
Peter entered the room smiling at how handsome Ryan looked in his tuxedo.
"Ryan...you look absolutely dashing!" Peter said sitting on Ryan's bed.
"I guess so...I am not really in the mood...can't you ask someone else to do this? I just want to stay in my room..." Ryan's voice trailed off.
"For how long?" Peter asked looking calm.
"Tell me how long you need alone to cry over spilled milk and I'll make it happen," Peter said.
"I AM NOT MOPPING! I Just...just..."
"Just what Ry? Please talk to me, I have seen you these past few days looking really sad and I want to help you get past it if I can...did...did Terry or Jack...rape you or Malthe?" Peter asked hesitantly, scared of the answer.
"But what Ry? Please speak to me, I really want to see you happy again and you haven't done anything wrong here. Quite the contrary, you saved both yours and Malthe's lives, and that other boy from Malthe's class, you defended yourself against multiple stronger attackers, you are a hero my brother, why are you so sad?" Peter asked his brother cupping Ryan's face in his hands, caressing his cheeks trying to smile.
"You didn't protect me..." Ryan whispered barely audible his voice cracking from the emotion and the tears that were beginning to overflow his eyes.
"You are my big brother and you didn't protect me...what I...aikido didn't protect me...I...Malthe almost died...I had accepted death but I just kept going because I wanted him to live no matter what happened to me...
"I guess you were right....I wasn't ready to die but I went to battle...when...when my legs gave out and I fell to the cold ground...I was ready to die, I had made peace with it but I just kept wishing Malthe would live...how..." Ryan paused for a few moments as tears streaked down his cheeks.
"How do I get over that Peter?" he asked his older brother looking away.
Peter hugged him close rubbing his back and shoulders. "My sweet, sweet boy, yes I should have protected you...I should have done more to protect my brothers...should have sued for restraining orders against all of them...should have..." Peter sighed.
"You shouldn't have to feel like this...you're...a child you should be happy...I need my brothers to be happy for me to be happy...I want you to start seeing a therapist at least for a while...until you feel better okay?"
Peter whispered everything to Ryan's ear who just sobbed, clenching onto Peter's hug as if his life, his very soul depended on it. Peter didn't press him for an answer, he just let Ryan cry out his sadness and sorrow like he had done with Maria in the hospital chapel.
After a while, Ryan pulled back and looked at Peter's kind eyes and tried to smile.
"I'll go...if you do as well...Timmy showed me a video of what happened...I was scared Peter...you almost killed a few of them...I want you to start therapy as well. Please Peter!" Ryan pleaded.
Peter sighed and caressed his hair smiling. He nodded, "Okay, I will. Come Monday I'll find a child therapist for you and one for me."
"One for you? I know you hate growing up bro but you're not that young!" Ryan told Peter and was unable not to giggle as Peter started tickling his ribs.
"Why you little...I meant a therapist for adults for me and I'll have you know I feel as young as you are!" He chuckled.
"Shouldn't we be getting to your wedding? It's the woman that makes the groom wait not the other way round!" Ryan said and got up starting to wear his shirt.
Peter helped him wear his tie and then they went downstairs where their friends waited.
Maria was waiting in front of the Mayor of Brave lake village wearing a white dress that fell down to her legs all made from white silk and with wing-like additions that had been placed on the back that fell slightly forward and down.
She was wearing a silver necklace with her hair caught up in a bun with some strands falling on her eyes and ears.
Peter thought he was seeing an angel. His heart suddenly racing and his forehead sweating, he took the last steps to her.
They and their guests could not stop smiling as Peter and Maria stood op-posite of each other on the living room which had been remodeled for the occa-sion with chairs in rows behind them for the guests to sit.
The twins looked so adorably cute in their black and white tuxedos looking really smug with themselves with the honour bestowed upon them of marrying Peter and Maria.
The Mayor started the event by saying the usual typicalities until it was time for the rings. Ryan gave each of the twins, one ring each. Malthe gave the ring to Maria and Christian to Peter.
The Mayor announced that it was time for Peter to say his vows.
"When I met you, I was a sadness-ridden man having just been left an orphan. I had learned to rely only on myself. As we got closer and more intimate you begun to change me. I finally had someone that I could rely on, to share my thoughts, my happiness and my sorrow with.
"You have been there for me like few others. I don't want to marry you because I can live with you. I want to marry you because I can't think of my life without you in it. You, I love more than life itself," Peter said and wore the ring he was holding to Maria's finger.
Everyone clapped and applauded then the Mayor announced that it was time for Maria to tell her vows.
"You are kind, gentle, smart and funny. You can make me laugh even on my darkest days. Just the thought of you fills me with happiness and the idea of sleeping by your side and waking up next to you is enough to make me feel content.
"I want to be the mother of your children and fill this house with voices of peace and mayhem and laughter and joy. You, I too cannot live without. You, I also love more than life itself," Maria said with tears of joy streaking down her rosy cheeks.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride!" The Ma-jor announced. Peter brought Maria close to him and they sucked each other's breath away as their guests and friends applauded them standing up.
Ryan could feel happy for them, finally a crack of light passing through the sadness driving the cold winter wind away.
The reception lasted for hours as they all danced and chatted and drank wine and champagne.
In the coming week, the Jarrow family had to give their testimonies against Jack and Terry while Owen and his officers kept finding more and more incriminating and damning evidence against Jack and most of his students.
The fire had been charged to Terry and the car that had almost hit Ryan and Christian was found out to have been driven by Jack himself.
Bryan also gave his testimony against Terry for raping him all those times and the other boy they had almost raped when Malthe and Ryan had been stabbed also appeared and gave his testimony and side of the story.
It was a trial for Ryan and Malthe to relive the incident but Peter and Maria helped them through with George now officially the family's lawyer.
The trial was announced for after the Christmas holidays with Jack, Terry and all of his students that had participated in the two attacks against the Jarrow brothers being denied bail.
It was sad for Malthe to see his friend go. They hugged for what seemed forever and cried, but he and Bryan promised to talk as much as possible on Skype and for Malthe to visit whenever he could. His first visit would be for a few days after New Year's during the holidays. It would be the first time the twins ever did something separately from each other.
Peter took over Ryan's children class in the dojo until Ryan could recuperate but also had Jason help him out so he could learn more. Jason relished those moments seeing Peter as a father-figure and example for imitation.
Peter searched and found a child therapist for Ryan in Braybrooke and an adult one for him in another nearby village.
Their first sessions were scheduled for the first week after the Christmas holidays.
The days and weeks seemed to flyby hastily as December came to a close. Life seemed to start falling back to its normal routines and....
On Christmas Eve during the family dinner with Rick, George, their parents and Katie having come for the holidays, Maria stood up from her chair and gently hit her fork on her glass. She had been drinking water for some time now instead of wine, a fact that had only been noticed by Malthe who popped a smile as Maria was about to make an announcement.
"Everyone, Peter! I do not know yet if it's a boy or a girl but..." She was interrupted by Peter who hugged her kissing her in tears of joy.
"I'm going to be a father!?!" he asked in disbelief.
"Yes, in about seven to eight months," Maria replied hugging him back. Peter pulled back caressing her cheek and belly as Ryan, Jason and Christian jumped up from their chairs and almost glomped her. Rick, George and the rest followed suit but in a calmer fashion telling them congratulations and how happy they were for them.
"Mr. Giles please bring us one of grandfather's best champagnes and get one for the staff," Peter told the old man who was trying in vain to whip away tears of joy from his eyes.
"You guys have to pick up names!" Ryan said.
"No, I think we know the names of at least the first two kids whether they are boys or girls," Peter said looking at Maria who just nodded smiling.
He kissed her again not believing that in a few months he would have a child of his own, a newborn little soul created out of love between him and Maria.
"And I know the godfathers as well," Peter said looking at his best and closest friends.
Their lives were finally improving, the shadows of the past swept by the once hostile wind now turned favourite ally as
it brought warm and happy news to the growing Jarrow family.
End of chapter 9. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it and that you felt what I felt while writing it. This is the last chapter. Next and final chapter is the epilogue where the curtains fall on this story and our characters.
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