-Chapter 27-

Silver House had done just as they were bade by the Romans and pulled out a victory for Red House, climbing them in the standings. It finally raised them from "Bottom House," giving them a better kill-to-death ratio that had closed the gap between them and the Egyptians. For once, Red House was getting the edge it needed to prove its worth at the Academy. Just as before, the marks from the red body paint that had adorned the Celts' faces, arms and chests remained for days after the battle on those with pale skin, which included both the High Goddess and her protégé. They didn't seem to mind, though; it served as a reminder of who they were, of their abilities as soldiers. As with most of the sibling pairs, their days of rest were spent together, tightening the bonds between them and building a strong foundation for the years to come.

With their eyes closed, Scathach and Arthur stood in the gym, their arms at their sides and their feet shoulder-width apart. Together they breathed in and out, letting everything else disappear. The goal was to focus on nothing but the air entering and exiting their lungs, let go of all the aggravating or frustrating thoughts of the day and just relax. It was an exercise that Apollo had started doing with her after the first battle without Iolaus. Her fierce temper had needed taming, needed to be kept at bay, and the yoga-style movements were a good way to relax and work out at the same time. Scathach filled her lungs and finally said, "Go." As one, their arms raised, and they brought their palms together in front of them. They pulled their hands in toward their chests, then rotated their fingers toward the ceiling. Slowly, their palms slid apart, right above left. Muscles shifted, putting their weight on their left legs, and their right hands ducked beneath their left arms. Their torsos turned as they reached out, palms still flat, and brought them back around to there they'd started. Mirroring the moves, they repeated the process with the opposite hand, making sure they stretched all muscles equally. Together, they continued through the forms they used to help keep their muscles limber and their minds sane. The positions were centuries old. It was their way of easing their bodies down to a period of rest after the previous day's battle.

When they'd finished, the pair stood breathing again just as they had begun. Scathach broke the position first, indicating that it was alright for Arthur to follow her. They sat down on the mats and each began sipping from a bottle of uisce beatha. "Ska?" Arthur finally ventured.

"Yes, Mac?"

"Are we going to be getting Lilies at the end of the summer?"

"Yep," she sighed. "Next week, you, Mor, Aer and I will all sit down together with the files of all the Second Years from all the Houses and pick another eight to join our family."

"So, I'll be taking on a younger sibling?"

"Whichever one you choose," she nodded. She moved over to the bench and picked up two gray towels, throwing one to her protégé, and wiping off her own face with the other.

"So, that also means that we don't really get a break like the other soldiers?" He wiped his face and wrapped the towel around his neck as they started out the door and down toward the bathrooms.

"You're going to find, Love, that a real soldier never gets a break; at least not the ones in charge. We're like parents in the respect that we constantly have to be worrying about who is going where and doing what."

"Does that make Aeron the 'Daddy' to your 'Mommy'?"

Scathach whipped her towel at him. "Absolutely not," she laughed, amazed that he'd brought up the subject.

"Well, then who is?"

"What?" Now she was confused; he'd never seemed to be interested in this kind of thing before.

"I see all of these men around you completely in love with you, but you don't seem to have one that you prefer."

"You've got your eye on someone, don't you?" she asked intuitively. He didn't answer, but instead turned slightly scarlet in the cheeks. "You do," she gushed, smiling. She put an arm around him as they continued down the hallway. "Don't worry; I won't make you tell me. But if you ever want to talk to someone, I'm here." Scathach had very high hopes for her younger brother. He was very intelligent and level-headed, and was quickly becoming an excellent soldier. The best parts of both Iolaus and Aeron, he seemed to be rising to the name she had given him. And the addition of a younger sibling would only add more responsibility to help him get used to the idea of being in charge. Silver House would eventually be left in very capable hands.