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The Consequence of Love

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Marisa Coulter was sitting in a her small London apartment late one night causally working on her new project for the magisterium. Her life finally seemed like it was finding order again after her miserable affair and trial with Asriel Belacqua. Although she still turned heads wherever she went, the whispers of her infidelity, her husbands murder, and her bastard child finally had died down. It took some time, but she managed to manipulate the magisterium into allowing her to continue to study the nature of Dust. She was halfway through reading the latest report on the effects of Dust on children when she heard the doorman ring for her. She sighed deeply expecting it to be Father Macphail or one of the other miserable magisterium twats whom failed to heed her instruction not to bother her after 10pm.

Marisa made her way down the hall adjusting her elegant satin robe, Oz trailing silently behind her.

“Who is it?” She called into the intercom.

“I have an Asriel Belacqua and a Lyra Belacqua here to see you Ma’am” the doorman called back.

Marisa felt as if all the air had left her lungs. The two people who she had tried so hard to forget over the last three and a half years were suddenly here, at her apartment, only a few floors below her.

—————————————————————————————
Asriel had just returned home to Jordan College from one of his trips north. He had much to discuss with his fellow scholars in attempt to secure more funding for his research, which is why he was angered that the Master had demanded a private audience as soon as he returned. He thought for sure he was going to receive a lecture about the heretical research he was conducting but he begrudgingly agreed anyways.

“Ahhh Asriel it’s good to see you!” The Master greeted as he walked into the retiring room, Stel by his side.

“Master, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Asriel greeted back with fake sincereness.

“I’m afraid this is a rather grave matter regarding Lyra.”

Asriel was immediately intrigued as this was not the conversation he was expecting to have.

“Lyra got sick a few weeks ago and we assumed it was a normal cold or the flu. She had a fever and was extremely fatigued, but when she did not get better within a week I rung the doctor to check her out. When he could not determine the problem we had her brought to the hospital where they ran a bunch of tests. Asriel I’m afraid that Lyra has leukemia.” The Master finished solemnly.

Asriel sat in stunned silence for a few seconds. He was trying to wrap is brain around what the Master had just told him.

“Leu-leukemia as in the cancer?” Asriel clarified as Stel began to pace around the room no longer able to lay still, betraying Asriel’s own unease.

“Yes.”

“Where is she now?”

“In her room resting. Ms. Lonsdale is with her now. They wish to start chemotherapy as soon as possible but they need your permission to do so as you are her legal guardian.”

Asriel nodded in understanding, “what are the doctors saying about her condition, will she live?”

“They believe so, but Asriel I must warn you, chemotherapy, especially on a child as young as Lyra, can be harmful. They told me that they are most likely going to have to give her a bone marrow transplant, and the waiting lists for such a procedure are long. There is however a small chance that one of her parents could be a match.”

Asriel gripped the back of the chair he was standing behind feeling ready to explode. His anger at himself for not being there to prevent this, and more so his anger at The Authority for allowing an innocent child to contract such an ugly illness was almost too much to bear.

“How do they test to see if I am a match?”

“I believe it is just a simple blood test done at the hospital. I imagine it wouldn’t take but a few days to get the results back.”

Asriel only gave a slight nod of his head in acknowledgment, “then I shall go get this test at once.”

He grabbed his coat preparing to leave before he was stopped by the Master with a hand on his arm, “Asriel we will do everything in our power to see to it that your little girl gets better. Perhaps you should take a few moments to visit her first though. She has been asking for you.”

“I am going to get this test done now. Let the girl sleep. I will see her in the morning.”

“As you wish.”

As Asriel made his way out of Jordan college and over to the hospital he focused only on controlling his breathing not paying mind to anyone or anything he passed by. Stel was stalking beside him much the same.

‘Asriel you will have to face the girl eventually.’ Stel thought to him.

‘I am aware of that.’ He thought back. ‘But not now, not tonight.’

The test was as easy as the Master said it was. While he was at the hospital Asriel was able to talk to one of the doctors who had seen Lyra, and was given much of the same information just a bit more technical. He tuned it out but thanked the doctor for his time anyway. On his way out Asriel took note of how all the nurses and doctors stopped and stared, and for the first time in his life they all seemed to be looking at him in pity. The great and scandalous Lord Asriel was accustomed to looks of admiration, jealousy, and sometimes even fear, but never pity. He gritted his teeth out of frustration. He did not want pity. He wanted to get the stupid test back, make sure Lyra got better, and go back to his normal life.

Once he made it back to Jordan it was quite late at night. He did not even bother to stop by the mess hall for a meal, instead making his way straight to his room, luckily undisturbed. That night he hardly slept at all, instead tossing and turning restlessly.

The next morning he made his way down to Lyra’s room. The young child was still asleep. Another one of the kitchen staff was by her side nodding off herself. When Asriel opened the door the young woman looked rather relieved to be relinquished from her duties. With a polite nod the woman left father and daughter alone.

Asriel approached the bed with trepidation. Even in sleep Lyra’s little face seemed to be screwed up in pain. Her soft brown curls slick with sweat were sticking to her head, Pan in his signature ermine form curled up by her neck was looking as equally uncomfortable. As Asriel eased down to sit at the edge of her bed, Stel gave a quick lick to Pans soft head.

‘They’re too warm.’ Stel thought.

Asriel merely sighed realizing that there wasn’t much he could do about that. He reached forward to brush a strand of hair out of the girls face which caused her eyelids to flutter.

“Un-uncle?” Lyra mumbled, still in the process of waking up.

“Hello little one.” Asriel responded.

As she woke up more Lyra began to sit up to face her ‘uncle’ better.

“You’re back” Lyra said with tired enthusiasm. “I’m sick Uncle.”

“I know Lyra, but the doctors are going to make you better.”

“Will you stay in Oxford till I get better?” Lyra questioned innocently.

“Yes.”

“Good.” Lyra said, settling back down. Even the brief interaction took much of her energy, and her eyelids already began closing again.

“Get some rest Lyra.” Asriel said as he quietly got up and moved towards the door before pausing to take a last look at her sleeping form instinctively rubbing his hand over his face is disarray.

Once back at his office he found a note lying on his desk. Apparently the doctors had sped up the process of his test, and the results were lying in front of him.

‘At least your name still counts for something.’ Stel noted.

Asriel just grunted in response before opening the piece of paper. He slammed his fist down on the desk as he read the results. He was not a match.

At that moment the Master walked into the office, “Ah Asriel, I called in a favor with one of my friends at the hospital and they were able to...” the Master trailed off after taking a look at Asriel’s face. “I’m guessing you weren’t a match then?”

“No.” Asriel responded grimly.

The Master then began shifting his weight unable to voice the thoughts forming in his head.

“If you have something to say Master then say it.” Asriel said agitated.

“Well sir, you are not the only relative Lyra has. I believe there is a woman whom shares half of Lyra’s DNA, she may...”

“Absolutely not!” Asriel exclaimed cutting him off. “Neither Lyra nor I will have anything to do with that woman ever.”

“Asriel, I understand your anger toward Mrs. Coulter, but those donor waitlists are long, and while the doctors believe they can cure Lyra because they caught it early on, the longer she has to wait for treatment the worse her chances of survival get.”

Asriel slumped forward, putting his head in his hands, unable to comprehend the dilemma he was facing.

“Just think about it.” The Master said before leaving.

Chapter Text

Marisa stood back as the elevator doors opened revealing her former lover with a small child asleep in his arms. The first thing she noticed was how tired he looked. More grey hairs were visible in his scruffy beard and his shaggy hair. Even his snow leopard dæmon seemed worn out. One look at his face told her something was wrong. It may have been a few years since they last saw each other but she knew him better than she knew herself, and she could see the worry etched in his features.

“Hello Marisa” Asriel said in a hushed tone. “May I come in, I have something to discuss with you?”

“Yes I can see that.” Marisa said gesturing to the child in his arms as she stepped aside to let him pass.

Asriel quickly made his way to the living room with Marisa trailing behind him at a distance. Once at the doorway Marisa stopped and watched curiously as Asriel laid the girl and her dæmon, presently a house cat, on the couch.

“Uncle, where are we?” Lyra mumbled briefly waking up.

“Shh we are at a friends, go back to sleep.” Asriel responded.

Hearing the little girls voice made Marisa’s stomach flutter in a way she couldn’t understand. At her feet Oz gave a swish of his tail and glanced up at his human just as confused by the emotions he was feeling. Though Marisa could feel his eyes on her, she refused to look down at him instead refocusing on Asriel.

“Can we talk in your study, I don’t want to wake her up.” Asriel asked.

Marisa just gave a slight nod of her head, looking down one last time at the child before leaving the room.

Once in her study, she and Asriel both awkwardly sat down neither knowing what to say. Stel and Oz both regarded each other from a distance not quite sure what to make of the situation.

Finally Asriel cleared his throat and began, “Thank you for letting us in. Im afraid I am in need of a favor.”

The hesitation in his voice confused Marisa even more, Asriel was not the timid type so whatever was causing his composure to drop so much must be important.

“Lyra is sick” he continued, “she has cancer, leukemia to be specific. She will need to undergo chemotherapy soon and because of her age they also plan on doing a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, I am not a match, but ah there is a small chance that you- you might be.”

“Oh” Marisa breathed trying to process all of the information she just received.

“I know this is a big ask, and it is entirely possible that you won’t be a match, but the waitlists for these types of procedures are long, and she could get worse if we can’t do this soon.” Asriel stammered.

“Yes.” Marisa called out quickly before he could say more, much to the surprise of everyone in the room, herself included. “I-I mean yes, I will get this test or whatever is required of me.”

The stunned look on Asriel’s face pained Marisa more so than she would have liked to admit.

“Well ah tha-thank you.” Asriel responded lamely. “It’s just a simple blood test, quick and painless.”

“If she gets this treatment will she be alright, will it cure her?”

“The doctors believe so, yes.”

“Good, good.” Marisa responded letting out a breath she didn’t know she was holding all the while trying to sound nonchalant as she gazed at Asriel. She thought for sure Asriel could hear her heart thudding in her chest.

After a moment of awkward silence with Marisa just staring at Asriel with a perplexed look on her face, he finally spoke up “Ask me what you really wish to know Marisa.”

Marisa frowned at how easily he could read her but answered anyways.

“Why come all this way so late at night, why not just send a letter?”

“You and I both know that you wouldn’t have opened that letter.” Asriel said cheekily.

Marisa slightly smiled at that, she wouldn’t admit it to him but that was true.

“As for the matter of the time, I rather hoped I wouldn’t run into any of your magisterium buddies. The less they know about Lyra the better.” Asriel continued seriously a hint of warning in his voice.

“Hmmm on that front we are agreed Asriel. I have no intentions of ever letting those imbeciles get anywhere near the girl.”

Asriel nodded in understanding before getting to his feet. “Well, I suppose it is time for us to leave now.”

“Where will you stay, it’s rather late at night to get accommodations?” Marisa asked, the concern in her voice betraying her steely composure.

“Eh I have an old friend that owns a tavern with a few rooms downtown.”

Marisa narrowed her eyes at Asriel as he said this, “you can’t possibly be serious. A tavern is no place for a child to stay.”

“Then what would you have us do?” Asriel responded challengingly clearly annoyed.

“Stay here.”

Her statement caused Asriel to stop putting on his jacket and look back at her in surprise. Whatever he thought she was going to say that wasn’t it. For the second time that night Marisa was hurt by the shock he displayed at her simply being a decent human.

‘Can you blame him though, given everything that transpired last time you saw him?’ Oz thought to her.

Marisa gritted her teeth to stop herself from slapping the monkey right then and there, even if it wouldn’t have been the first time Asriel saw the two interact in such a way. Instead she settled for a warning look down at her companion.

“Are you sure?” Asriel asked hesitantly causing her to meet his gaze once more.

“Yes, you and the child can have the guest room.” Marisa responded getting up herself. “I’ll put fresh towels in the bathroom for you.”

“Thanks.” Asriel mumbled as he followed her out of the study.

After getting fresh linens and towels ready Marisa made her way to the guest room where Asriel had laid the little girl. Her tiny body was almost consumed by the pillows and blankets around her. It was then, while Asriel was going to the bathroom, that Marisa was able to get a good look at the girls face for the first time.
Her brown curly hair looked strikingly like her own, but her nose and chin were Asriel’s all the way.

Suddenly it felt like Marisa was hit with a truck as she got a glimpse of the life she could have had. The room she was standing in would have been Lyra’s. She saw flashes in her mind of all the ways she would have decorated it. She would have put a bookshelf in the back corner, and piled toy after toy in bins around the room. She would have given Lyra everything she could have ever dreamed of.

She was pulled from her little dream by Oz lightly holding her hand in comfort. And though her instinct was to swat it away she didn’t. Instead she imagined it was Lyra’s little hand holding hers, a thought that made her smile.

Asriel cleared his throat as he walked back in the room, clearly noticing Marisa caught up in a trance.

“Breakfast is at 8 sharp.” Marisa said turning to face him before bidding him goodnight.

She made her way out into the hall not waiting for a response, desperately holding the tears that had been forming at bay. Once she had closed her bedroom door behind her she finally let loose all the emotions that had been building up since Asriel had appeared at her door step.

Chapter Text

Lyra groaned a little as she woke up rubbing her eyes at the light streaming through the unfamiliar room. The bed she was in was way comfier than the one at Jordan. She felt like she was resting on a bed of clouds. She chuckled as she rolled over and she saw her uncle fast asleep next to her with his mouth slightly open snoring lightly. Sitting up more she took a look around the room and briefly remembered her uncle mentioning something about this being a friends house. Pan began fluttering around the room in the shape of a butterfly.

“Look at this room Pan!” Lyra said excitedly before Pan shushed her, afraid she might wake her uncle up. They both knew how grumpy him and Stel were when they were woken up early.

‘They don’t have anything like this at Jordan.’ Pan thought to her.

‘It’s amazing!’ Lyra thought back carefully hoping out of bed and walking slowly around the room in awe.

‘Come on Pan, let’s check out the rest of the place!’ Lyra thought quickly making her way to the door with Pan following her still in his butterfly state.

Once out into the hallway Lyra took off at a run hoping to see more of this splendid place.

“Lyra be careful.” Pan called out in a whisper shout, causing Lyra to turn and look back at him. The next thing she knew Lyra had run into something and fell back landing with a hard thump on the floor.

Lyra quickly pushed the messy hair out of her face and looked up to see what she had run into or rather who. Standing towering above Lyra was the prettiest woman she had ever seen. She was dressed in a silky green robe and matching pajamas. Her curly brown hair was expertly pinned back in a way Lyra had never seen before. All Lyra could do was stare up in awe not knowing what to say. Luckily the woman didn’t seem too mad, she simply smiled and offered her hand, which Lyra took.

“Hello” the woman said sweetly, “you must be Lyra.”

“Hello” Lyra said suddenly feeling shy “sorry bout runnin into ya.”

“It’s alright dear. I’m Mrs. Coulter, a friend of your fa- uncles. I was just headed out to the terrace to have breakfast. Are you hungry?”

Lyra eagerly nodded her head still holding onto the woman’s hand. She wasn’t sure why but she liked this woman. Her hands were soft, much softer than her uncles or Ms. Lonsdale’s. The woman, Mrs. Coulter, didn’t seem to mind as she made no move of letting go of Lyra’s hand.

Once out on the terrace Lyra’s eyes took a second to adjust to the light as she looked around in shock. There were buildings taller than she had ever seen, Lyra thought for sure that they were tall enough to touch the sky. She immediately let go of Mrs. Coulters hand and ran to the edge. Looking down she couldn’t believe how high up off the ground they were. What she didn’t pay attention to was the way Mrs. Coulter quickly made her way up behind her and tightly grabbed the back of Lyra’s shirt.

“You don’t seem to be afraid of heights much.” Mrs. Coulter stated.

Lyra, oblivious to the woman’s discomfort simply shook her head “nah, Roger and me run round the roofs at Jordan all the time.”

“Oh and what does your uncle say about that?”

“Oh well I’m not sure.” Lyra responded suddenly feeling sad, “he isn’t around much.”

A look crossed the woman’s face that Lyra couldn’t place, but as quickly as it came it was gone replaced by a tight smile.

‘Lyra look at her dæmon’ Pan thought causing Lyra to look past the woman to the golden monkey on the floor a few paces behind her. ‘I’ve never seen a dæmon like that.’

‘Me either.’ Lyra thought back starring at the monkey curiously.

Mrs. Coulter must have noticed her gaze, “have you ever seen a golden monkey before?”

“No.” Lyra said shaking her head, crouching down to get a better look at him. Pan came up next to her in his white ermine form doing the same. “What’s his name?”

“Oz short for Ozymandias.” Mrs. Coulter responded. Again Lyra was oblivious, not noticing the way Mrs. Coulter’s voice strained, as if his name was foreign on her tongue.

“This is Pan short for Pan-ta-lai-mon.” Lyra said slowly struggling to pronounce all the syllables correctly. “I don’t know why my mother gave him such a weird name. Pan doesn’t like it very much.”

“That’s not true.” Pan hissed at Lyra not wanting to seem rude in front of the woman, or her slightly frightening dæmon who gave an annoyed flick of his tail.

Lyra paid him no mind as she stood up straight facing the woman again. Pan, no longer wishing to be under the intense gaze of the money, transformed into a mouse and crawled up her sleeve.

At that moment the servers entered the terrace carrying platters of an assortment of food. As Mrs. Coulter and Lyra made their way over to the table to sit down Lyra couldn’t believe all was the different food on her plate. She was used to getting the scraps Roger could steal from the kitchens. She began eating hungrily before she noticed Mrs. Coulters eyes on her. Lyra then shot her a guilty grin chewing slower in attempt to appease the woman. She was happy when the woman seemed to let it go and sent her back a genuine smile.

Neither one noticed Asriel standing in the doorway watching in amazement as mother and daughter wore identical smiles.

Chapter Text

As the servants cleared the table from breakfast Marisa gave Asriel a look. One that said they needed to talk.

“Lyra do you mind going back to the living room for a few minutes? I have to speak to your uncle briefly.” Marisa asked politely.

“Okay.” Lyra said hopping down from her chair and skipping absentmindedly back inside.

As soon as the door closed Marisa turned to Asriel who was eyeing her in curiosity.

“I had some trouble sleeping last night and so I decided to do some research.” Marisa began, “it turns out that some of the best doctors in the world are in London. Much better than any you could find in Oxford. As such, I am proposing that you and Lyra stay here so she can receive the best treatment possible.”

Asriel snorted at her once she was done, “Marisa do you have any idea what it would be like to live with a toddler?”

“Do you?” Marisa shot back offended by his dismissal of her generous offer, “because according to Lyra you are never around and she is free to run about the roofs with her friends.”

The amusement was quickly wiped off Asriel’s face. “Are you seriously questioning MY parenting style?” Asriel asked annoyed.

“And what style would that be exactly? She thinks you are her uncle, you don’t even claim to be her parent.” Marisa shot back quickly.

“Well at least I am actually in her life. That’s more than you can say.”

The former lovers locked eyes in a stale mate, neither one willing to back down. Their dæmons felt the same, both with hackles raised ready to fight.

But it was Marisa who sat back first, “I am merely trying to offer Lyra the best treatment possible. If you wish for her not to have that then so be it.” She said fiercely but in a gentler tone.

Asriel deflated at her words, “fine. We will stay here, but... this place will need some Lyra-proofing. She will break anything and everything that’s in her reach.” Asriel finished with a smile, one that was returned by the woman sitting across from him.

“Speaking of which, we should probably go check on her.” Asriel said getting up.

Both of them made their way to the living room where they could hear high pitched giggling. Lyra and Pan seemed to be engaged in a game that only the two of them could see. Marisa once again felt a fluttering feeling in her chest watching and listening to her daughter. She knew it didn’t make sense, but she realized she could spend the rest of her life observing Lyra and never get bored.

Finally Asriel coughed to alert Lyra to their presence, “Lyra we have something we would like to discuss with you, have a seat please.”

Lyra quickly got up and sat on one of the couches across from the two adults who took their place as well. “Lyra how would you feel about staying here for a little while you get treatment from the doctors and get better?” Marisa asked with enthusiasm, hoping the girl would be excited.

“Really?!” Lyra replied vibrating with glee. “Yes yes yes!”

Before Marisa could register what happened, the girl got up and threw herself into her arms catching her by surprise. Marisa was quick to return the hug however, wrapping her arms tightly around her daughters small frame. It was the first time since the day Lyra had been born that Marisa had held her. She loved it far more than she was willing to admit.

Lyra eventually pulled back looking over at her uncle, “are you going to stay too?” She asked him.

“Yes Lyra. I will stay too.” He responded with a smile.

“Yayyyy!” Lyra said clapping her hands together while Pan flew around her head.

Both of her parents chuckled at Lyra’s excitement, before turning and smiling sincerely at each other. Lyra was perhaps the only person on the planet that could melt the hearts of two such strong willed people with only a few words.

“Well first thing is first, we will need to get you some clothes and a suitable bed for your new room.” Marisa said turning to Lyra. “How would you feel about doing some shopping?”

“I’ve never been shoppin before, I’d love to!” Lyra responded.

“Great, well I think you need a bath before we go out. We can’t have sticky fingers now can we?” Marisa chided lightly, referring to the syrup all over Lyra’s face and hands, causing Lyra to giggle.

“Come on let’s go!” Marisa said offering Lyra a hand, which she took.

“Mrs. Coulter do you have any children?” Lyra asked innocently as they made their way towards the bathroom.

Marisa was taken aback by the girls question. She didn’t want to lie but she knew it wasn’t the right time to tell Lyra the truth either. She just hoped Lyra didn’t notice the pained expression that crossed her face before she answered “no I don’t dear.”

“What about your husband is he around?”

“No he died.” Marisa responded quickly hoping Lyra would stop asking questions. The situation was far too complicated to try to explain to a young child. Luckily they soon made it too the bathroom and Lyra’s attention was focused elsewhere.

With the help of Oz, Marisa quickly got the bath ready, making sure the water wasn’t too hot or cold. She even took the liberty of adding bubbles much to Lyra’s delight.

“I never had a bubble bath before!” Lyra exclaimed.

“Well now you have.” Marisa said hoping to keep the dismay out of her voice. Had she not given Lyra up the girl would have gotten bubble baths whenever she wanted. Marisa shook her head to clear the negative emotions away trying to enjoy the moment.

Once in the bath Marisa took her time to gently shampoo Lyra’s little curls as the girl played with the bubbles.

“You do it nicer than Mrs. Lonsdale.” Lyra commented. “She always pulls too hard.”

Marisa paused for a moment hoping to quell the anger rising in her at the thought of some nobody maid hurting her daughter. Lyra didn’t seem to notice nor care much as she continued to play though.

“Well I will just have to give you all of your baths from now on. Would you like that?”

“Yes.” Lyra said turning to face Mrs. Coulter, “I wish I could stay here forever.”

Lyra had no idea that what she had just said overwhelmed the woman sitting next to her. Marisa was beginning to realize that she wanted that just as much if not more than Lyra. It took everything she had not to let the tears fall from her eyes so she focused instead at the task on hand.

Once finished with the bath Marisa was helping Lyra get out and get dry when she noticed the girl yawing. One look at her face told Marisa that Lyra wasn’t going to last long.

“How about we get you changed into some comfy clothes and you can have a nap?”

“But I am not tired.” Lyra responded before another yawn overtook her, causing the girl to glance down sheepishly.

“I think you’ll feel much better if you do.” Marisa said gently, hoping not to upset her.

Tears began to well in Lyra’s eyes and she began to sniffle, “but I thought we were gonna go shoppin?”

“And we will, but shopping is no fun if you are tired.” Marisa said trying to keep the panic out of her voice. She had no idea how to comfort her upset daughter, another realization that made her want to kick herself. She got lucky though as Lyra seemed to accept her explanation.

With some help Lyra got settled in her bed. She fought her eyelids which stubbornly wanted to close and remain shut. Marisa took the time to sit on the edge of the bed running her finger over Lyra’s forehead lulling the girl to sleep. Oz did the same thing with Pan in his ermine form giving both human and dæmon a warm feeling they had not felt in likely a decade. Neither wanted to stop but they both knew there were many things to do.

Satisfied that Lyra was comfortably asleep, Marisa quietly made her way out of the room and back to the living room where Asriel was waiting, reading a newspaper.

“She’s asleep.” Marisa announced causing Asriel to look up at her over the top of the paper. “I think now would be the best time for me to go get that bone marrow test. I will also pick up a few things on the way.”

Asriel nodded in response still looking at her, amusement evident in his features, “it’s amazing isn’t it?”

“What?” Marisa asked confused.

“How easy it is to love her.”

Marisa just stood in shock for a moment not sure how to respond to that. So instead she chose to ignore the comment and all the feelings it brought along with it.

“Right well, I’ll be back soon then.” She called out turning to leave, clutching Oz’s hand tightly.

Chapter Text

Marisa quickly got the blood drawn barely noticing the pain at all. The doctors assured her it would be only a matter of days before she got the results, but with one pointed look suddenly they were able to promise a result in 24 short hours.

She left the hospital quickly not wanting to spend another second there. She thought about Lyra and the many hospital visits she would have to endure in the near future. It felt like she was going to suffocate if she kept thinking about all the poking and prodding the little girl was going to go through. She shook the thoughts from her head as Oz gave her hand a comforting squeeze.

Instead she decided to focus her energy on something happier, which happened to be shopping for Lyra. Although she promised the girl they would go together she needed to get a few of the basics as the rags Asriel brought her in simply wouldn’t do. She found the nearest children’s store and made her way inside, turning the heads of other woman shopping as she did. Everyone knew who the scandalous and powerful Mrs. Coulter was, and none expected her to be in a children’s store. Marisa was used to the looks and the whispers, she had dealt with them for a long time, but this time it felt different. She knew it wouldn’t be long before people found out Lyra was staying with her. She was determined to protect Lyra from the judgment she was currently receiving.

As such, she decided it was best to not linger so she quickly make her way over to the girls section grabbing just about every piece of clothing on display. There were frilly dresses of all different colors she just couldn’t pass over. Slyly Marisa happened to pick out the ones that looked most similar to the dresses she already owned, though she would deny it in court if anyone asked.

‘Lyra doesn’t strike me as one to wear fluffy pink dresses.’ Oz commented.

‘Well she is young. We have time to change her mind about such things.’ Marisa commented back annoyed at Oz for always being so negative. Oz, sensing her anger, slunk away to go look at another rack.

Once Marisa had more clothes in her hand than she could carry she decided that she had got enough and made her way up to the register.

The young woman behind the counter looked a little shocked at the sheer volume of things she was buying but said nothing as she rang them up.

Off to her left and elderly woman was being rung up at the same time. She too noticed the pile of clothes, “your daughter is one lucky little girl, having a mother who can buy her all those clothes.” The woman said with a smile.

Marisa faltered at that. No on had ever referred to her as a mother before. It gave her a warm feeling. A few days ago she was have scoffed and made a snide remark in response but she wasn’t the same woman she was a few days ago. “Thank you.” She replied with a please smile.

“How old is she, your daughter?” The woman continued.

“Almost four.”

“Ahhh that’s a fun age indeed. Enjoy it while it lasts. Soon she’ll be a moody teenager that wants nothing to do with you.” The woman said with a laugh.

Marisa simply smiled as the woman bid her goodbye. She then wondered sadly if she would have a relationship with Lyra when the girl becomes a teenager. Her and Asriel have yet to talk about the longevity of their situation. Thinking about things like getting Lyra ready for her first date, and consoling her after her first heart break made her smile. In that moment Marisa vowed to herself that she would move mountains if she had to in order to stay in Lyra’s life.

———————————————————————

Back at the flat Asriel was sitting in the living room, going over calculations in his journal when he heard the elevator ding signaling Marisa’s return. He paused as he heard the familiar click of her heels grow louder as she made her way down the hall towards him. He was surprised to see her carrying a total of five bags stuffed to the brim.

“Marisa please tell me that those are not all for Lyra?” Asriel asked in disbelief.

“And so what if they were? At least the girl has proper clothes now.” Marisa shot back.

Asriel got up and made his way over to her, inspecting the contents of the bags. He immediately saw lots of pink and sequence and he couldn’t help rolling his eyes.

“Marisa I am only saying this so that you can prepare yourself, but Lyra hates dresses. She does not like itchy fancy clothing.”

“Yes I could tell based on what she arrived in, but she can learn to like them.” Marisa responded with a smile.

“Haha good luck with that one love.” Asriel chuckled. “Pigs will sooner learn how to fly before Lyra voluntarily wears a dress.”

Marisa frowned at him, “I thought you knew me better Lord Belacqua, I am quite skilled at the art of persuasion.”

“Hmmm, you don’t have to remind me darling. I remember quite well.” Asriel said meeting Marisas crystal blue eyes which shone with mischief. If Asriel didn’t know any better he would wager that he saw a bit of desire behind those flash eyelashes.

At their humans feet Stel and Oz both silently stalked their way towards each other locking eyes. Oz slowly reached out, unsure at first, before Stel closed the distance between them and nuzzled her head into the side of his hand.

Both humans gazed down at their dæmon halves in curiosity feeling the inexplicable warmth at the contact. Asriel took a moment to look back at the woman standing a few feet in front of him. She looked different he noticed, softer, gentler than she used too. But still just as beautiful as the day he met her.

Before he had a chance to second guess himself he cupped both sides of her face. Her eyes instantly rose to meet his for a brief second, a knowing look passing between them, before they crashed their lips together hungrily in a way that was both new and familiar.

The two adults were so absorbed in each other that they didn’t notice the soft footsteps of a certain child approaching.

“Ewwwwwww!” Lyra shrieked in disgust covering her eyes, Pan doing the same with his tiny paws.