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Author Topic: Other Era Deryni FanFic - Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson  (Read 4700 times)

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Offline Laurna

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Last fall, I wrote a short story for my writing class final. Soon after, I realized there was more that could be told before that story came to light. Then one afternoon, I happened upon Evie, Jerusha, Annie, and Aerlys having a fun talk in chat and a certain subject came up. Ladies, do you recall that day when I said, “You just gave me an idea, I can write about that!” Well? Here I go.

As always, Evie, you are a blessing. Thank you.


Healer’s Inheritance

Chapter 1 - The Archery Lesson.

985 December 23   
Cynfyn* Castle   
Lendour
Three weeks after the marriage of Sir Washburn and Lady Jessamyn.

“Draw... Further... Rest your thumb near your ear... Sight your target…,” the Knight Captain of Lendour spoke with calm anticipation, standing close to his fair wife.  So close that his exhalation blew the gauze veil against the soft skin of her neck.

Jessamyn squeezed her eyes shut, demanding that her senses not respond to his closeness.  This was hard enough for her to do without his distractions. Her left arm was steady in her hold of the short bow, but her right arm strained at the tension of the bowstring near her cheek.  The arrow nocked in the boned groove of the cord between first and second fingers betrayed the slight quiver she could not control.  She sighted down the arrow; she needed to hit the target at least once today.  To not disappoint him, she needed to put an arrow somewhere in the vicinity of the bull’s-eye thirty paces before her. 

“That’s much better. Now you understand the proper stance. See how the angle of your pull comes much easier; better position to aim, wouldn't you agree?” The Knight Captain’s tone was attentive.  He stood so very close, yet not touching.  Only his breath, once more, brushed against her veil.

Was he doing this on purpose?  Teasing her in this way?  Surely not.  This was her third day of archery lessons; certainly, he would not intentionally be the cause of her failure.  The mere touch of his fingers lifting her elbow to a proper height settled the shake of her hand, yet it sent a shiver of intimacy down her spine.  She dampened the sensation, trying to concentrate on her aim. 

“I don’t expect you to hold forever,” he chided.  She felt him smile behind her.  “Just do as you did before; mark your target, sight down the arrow, aim a little higher.  Right there.  Now… loose!”  At his word, she released the bowstring. She felt the error the moment the tension sprang forward. The cord twanged a frightening sound.  Her fingers had cramped, disrupting its smooth release. The wrongness vibrated through the bow, resulting in the arrow wobbling in its flight.  In a blink of the eye, the arrow flew across the snow-covered practice grounds toward the straw butt and the painted canvas target tied to it.  The arrow skimmed the outer rim, glancing right, and sank into the dirt mound piled against the castle wall.  This was the pages’ practice area; the boundaries of the yard were well protected from wayward arrows.  Not for the first time was Jessa glad for the precautions. She imagined some poor bystander with a lethal injury caused from her horrendous ability to aim. Once again she considered what it would take to heal such a wound; assuming, she prayed, that the incident would not be immediately lethal.

The newly wedded lady sighed at her failure. “I’m not cut out for this, my lord. I am no archer.” 

Sir Washburn did not laugh as she thought he might.  She thought perhaps that he would finally lose his patience with her.  She had to be the worst student he had ever taught.  His closeness was of no help either.  Immodest thoughts of the last few nights caused a ruby flush of color to cross over her cheeks.  Remembering where she stood and the audience that watched from behind, the newly made bride quelled her emotions. Best not to give the garrulous onlookers any more insight to her desires; her poor ability at archery was enough from them to gossip about.

During these last few days of clear skies and winter sun, the otherwise bored members of the Cynfyn Castle had stepped out of doors to stand at the practice yard galleries and watch the training of the pages and squires.   Having joined the other women in the galleries, Jessa became aware of a different kind of contest than those that sparred on the field. It seemed a favorite pastime was to gather gossip and pass it along; the most intriguing gossip would earn status within the group.  She did not play this game herself; she was not accustomed to this sport.  Not partaking in the game, however, did not preclude her from being in the center of it. It seemed her name was the toast of every conversation heard in whispers.  If only, she wished, the tale-tellers would play her in a better light.  They seemed to study the newlyweds for any indiscretion that could serve as a good tale to pass along to the rest of the castle residents.

Truthfully, Jessa did not find their words harsh, only too often emphasizing her innocence and her youth. Just once, she wished they’d portray her in a more accomplished light. The thing she did best was held in secret and had yet to be learned by those she was trying to befriend. If only she could do this one simple thing that her husband was enthusiastically trying to teach her. Here was a part of him that she wanted to share.  She wanted him to be proud of her.  She wanted the whisperers to say something promising. Yet, all she achieved was sideways smiles when anyone mentioned her attempts. The comments that followed when they thought her out of hearing seemed to suggest this lady or that lady would have made the Knight Captain a far better wife. Certainly Lady Evelyn, Lady Trisha, or Lady May would have been better at archery than she; she seemed nothing but a silly former novice when compared to the available women of Lendour.  Jessa held no doubt that there were several of them who thought themselves better suited to be the Knight Captain’s wife than she.

“We can do better.”  Washburn was saying.  “You have a steady left hand.  You just need to make the right hand release smoother.”  He pantomimed the motion of his two fingers releasing an invisible bowstring.  “One quick fluid motion, move your fingers as one.” As he lowered his arms, he gave a half-cocked smile assuring her she could do this. Did he have to look so smugly handsome? She nearly forgot where she was until she realized he was handing her another arrow.  “Let’s try that again and see how easily it can be done.”  His patience was supreme.  He was genuinely trying to help her learn this skill.

Putting all misguided thoughts aside, Jessa concentrated on properly nocking the arrow to the bowstring.  She balanced the arrow on the upper part of her left hand and pulled back until the string was taut at her ear.  This bow had the same tension as that of a young page’s bow.  Its draw weight was light. Wash had told her he was more interested in teaching her to stand properly and draw back correctly, allowing her enough time to hold the arrow in place while she took her mark. He had assured her that as soon as she was comfortable with the basics, he would give her a proper bow that women of nobility use, one with thirty-five pounds of draw weight.  One that could take down an enemy if the need arose.  The thought was quite against her upbringing, but Jessa was not so naive as to think she would never need to defend her home or her life.  It was time she learned how to do this; do it right.  The young woman strengthened her focus, tuning out the world around her.  All that existed was the arrow held tensely in the bow and the painted yellow center of canvas stretched over the butt.

“Steady your hand, mark your target, both fingers… as one… loose.”  At her side, Wash’s voice was vibrant, she moved as he bid her to.  The arrow flew across the open grounds and twanged in the outer black band of the target.  Washburn’s lips kissed the back of her hand as reward.  “Very good.  You’re getting the feel of it now.  Let’s do that again, only faster this time.  Less thought, just do:  Nock... Mark as you draw… Loose… Guide, if you’re able.” He handed her another arrow.  She looked at him quizzically.  What was the last part he just said?  He said nothing more, only smiled knowingly.

She set the arrow, drew back, aimed… and… released.  It flew the straightest she had yet managed.  Wash’s hand touched her shoulder.  In that instant, she sensed his energies entwine with the momentum of the arrow.  The tiniest of a Push and the arrow shifted.  It slammed into the yellow center of the bull’s-eye.

Applause came from the audience who stood behind the barriers.

“How did…?”  Jessa was asking, when she heard his “Shhh…!” in her ear.

He handed her another arrow as he said very quietly.  “Perhaps you should pay more attention this time.”  His thoughts brushed her shields and she allowed the tenderness of his consciousness to mingle within her mind.  His presence steadied her hand as she fit the nock, marked her target, and drew.    As one, their minds wrapped around the arrow. His mental touch reassured her aim and improved the smoothness of her fingers releasing the bowstring. Husband and wife sensed the arrow’s speed and its direction. In the briefest moment with the slightest nudge, the arrowhead became imbedded within the center of the yellow circle.  Jessa dared not say a word, though her lips parted in an appreciative smile.  “Show that to me again,” she finally whispered.  “I think I can do that.”  This discovery was a wondrous insight.  Here was a Deryni ability she had never considered before.  Perhaps there was more to archery than she had originally thought. 

“Very well.” Wash nodded for the squire to hand her another arrow. “Once again,” said the knight captain as he watched her nock the arrow.  With her concentration focused on this new magic, Jessa discovered that all the drilling to properly hold the bow had sunk in.  It took far less effort to pull and aim than she had done before.  As she sighted down the arrow, Wash touched her arm to raise it the tiniest of amounts. She closed her eyes, focusing to a shallow trance, trusting in her husband’s physical and mental touch. She released the bowstring, sensed the arrow’s velocity; it traveled slightly off.  Following his Guidance, she brushed the field-tip with her mind and it thudded home. An applause came from far behind in the gallery of onlookers. Jessa opened her eyes to see the arrow very near the center. She smiled with new found joy.

“I think it best if we let your arm rest.  The countess will scold me for abuse if you get injured.”  Washburn laughed at the sudden look of disappointment in her eyes.  “Perhaps you’ll let me shoot for a bit.  I can give you some pointers as I do.” Quickly Jessa took his meaning. She handed her bow over to the squire, Robby, as they all stepped back to the longest distance the pages’ field would allow.  Robby returned with Washburn’s raven-wood bow.  The ebony weapon stood to the height of Jessa’s nose.  She eyed the target at the far end of the field and shivered.  It seemed incredibly distant.  Wash took up his weapon as if it was part of his arm.  He planted his feet securely and smiled at his attentive wife.

“Place your hand on my shoulder and follow me in this,” he invited.  Jessa stepped to his left side, her hand on his outstretched arm.  Once more she became one with her husband’s thoughts.  She felt him weigh the arrow in his hand, test the wind that brushed over the field, and gauge the full distance to the butt’s yellow center.  He did this as another person might take a step from one foot to the other as a matter of walking without giving it thought.  In one fluid motion, he pulled back on the string.  His muscles firmed from the tension.  Purposely, he changed his aim to left of center.  She could sense his thoughts overriding his need for accuracy.  The arrow released, smooth and straight, just a hair off center.  Push—she followed his power, felt how he moved the arrow that infinitesimal amount.  Thud—the arrowhead sunk dead center next to Jessa’s last one.

Jessa smiled giddily, like a child discovering a new toy.  “May I, please?” she asked, not sure he would be willing to let her shift the arrow alone.

“Very well, if you think you’re ready.  You know it’s my reputation on the line. If I miss at this short distance, I will be the joke of the barracks for weeks.”

“You never miss?” she asked with a slight twinkle in her grey eyes.

“Not in a very long time, my lady,” he said teasingly.  He took a new arrow from Robby. Are you ready? he asked, turning to Mind Speech.  This moves far faster than you may imagine.  No time to think it through.

I’m ready, she replied in the same way.

He drew, purposely aiming off mark, and then loosed the arrow.  Unaccompanied, Jessa followed the arrow’s head.  Just as Washburn had done, she anxiously Pushed on the tip. Too much, too late.  It overshot and hit the red ring adjoining the yellow center.  She moaned in her disappointment.  Wash only laughed.  “Very nice.  You are a lot faster student than I expected. Hopefully, the men won’t begrudge me that one.”

“One more time, my lord? I promise to do better, it is not a success until the center is hit.”

“Aye, it is not,” he agreed. This time he called out his actions, daring her to keep up with his speed. “Nock… Mark… Draw… Loose!” On his last word, he let the arrow fly, aiming high at the outer black ring.  Jessa held the energies that bound the arrow’s velocity.  With closed eyes and breath held, she shifted the arrow’s trajectory.  Thud! She opened her eyes.  The arrow nested in the very center of the yellow bull’s-eye.  Wash said not a word; his kiss on her brow was more than his words could say.

“We’ll practice more tomorrow and as long as the weather continues to hold.  Need to give you a chance to build up the strength in your arm and the energies for your aim. Would you like that?” 

“Oh, yes, my Lord Washburn, a chance to shoot with you again will be more than agreeable.”  Jessa smiled up at his square jaw, high cheeks, and sky blue eyes.  She loved his eyes.  And his broad shoulders,—oh how she loved the strength of his arms!

“I believe we will try the squire’s range tomorrow,” the Knight Captain was saying in a tone overly loud so that those in the closest galleries could hear his words.

“Very good, Sir Washburn.”  Robby said with a bow as he took the raven-wood bow.  “Lord Muir has requested that you escort of the members of the Tralian party to the high table at dinner tonight. And the Baroness Kyriell has requested the presence of Lady Jessamyn in her solar when she becomes available.”

“Thank you, good squire. That will be all until dinner then,” Sir Washburn replied.  “I will see to it that Lady Jessa arrives at Lady Elzia’s rooms.”  The Knight Captain extended his arm out to his wife.  When she had rested her arm over his, he proudly escorted her from the practice grounds back to the castle.  They passed many faces that were both pleased and envious.  Rumors would fly through the halls this day, of which none would find fault with the Knight Captain’s skill in teaching his new bride to shoot.


*Cynfyn- I have it on authority that the family name should be properly pronounced like Keen-fin.

Next Chapter: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1312.0.html
« Last Edit: June 10, 2017, 01:45:37 pm by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2014, 08:41:07 am »
Well done! I can imagine the eligible court ladies were not pleased when a young novice took her place as wife beside the handsome Knight Captain.  I am looking forward to seeing how this story unfolds.

I honestly don't remember the conversation in chat, but I'm happy to know I played a small part in this!  :)
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Offline Evie

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2014, 08:58:49 am »
Well done, Laurna!  And I'm happy to see that you edited that nearly pornographic sentence before posting the chapter so that no one will wonder if the topic abruptly shifted from an archery lesson to the newlyweds' sex life....  *grinning, ducking, and running very, very fast!  Sister Disarray will protect me, I'm sure....*   ;)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline revanne

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2014, 10:59:01 am »
Thank you, a lovely story
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."
As You Like It.

Offline Laurna

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2014, 11:31:07 am »
Thank you for reading, ladies. Jerusha. You have an intuitive nature.  I hope you enjoy where this leads.
Evie, lol! Are you sure Sister Disarray will be a good protector from flying mackerel?  ;D Well she might at that.  I only said "sighting down the arrow's shaft." or some such thing that may have sounded far worse that it was. ::) But I fixed it. hehe.
Glad your with me in this Revanne.

Now, I'm off to the dentist. I figured getting this posted last night would help give me something else to think about.

Offline Evie

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2014, 12:25:22 pm »
No, the word "arrow" was never used in that sentence; had it been, that would have helped immensely!  I believe the exact quote was "As she sighted down the shaft, she became one with her husband." Following immediately on the heels of several references to Jessa's flustered state at being held closely within the circle of Wash's strong, masculine arms, feeling his heartbeat and his breath tickling her neck, not to mention them being newlyweds, the inadvertent double-meaning was even funnier (not to mention more apparent) than it might have been in any other context.  ;D
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Offline revanne

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 01:00:44 pm »
No doubt the "Sh..." word had occured to some of the onlookers

We had a vision and values meeting in our local church primary school yesterday and one of the teachers fell foul of a wonderful slip of the tongue that had us all in stitches. Luckily no children were present!
(In the UK about 1/3 of state primary schools have a church link - it gives me loads of fun working with the kids without the pressures of being a teacher.)

On another note entirely it does strike me that a husband teaching his new bride archery would normally be as conducive to marital harmony as the modern husband teaching his wife to drive. Perhaps it is the lack of the deryni ability to "nudge" objects in another direction that is wrong with my parking skills.
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."
As You Like It.

Offline Evie

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2014, 01:15:19 pm »
Ooh, I'd love the ability to nudge cars a few inches to the side in my parking deck so I can squeeze into those tight parking spaces without worries about whether I'll be able to open my door wide enough to actually get out!   ;D

Here in the US, where only a few cities have sufficient public transportation to allow for a non-driving adult population, most people tend to learn how to drive in their teens, as soon as they're legally able to obtain a learner's permit.  Therefore, we're more likely to have to endure the ordeal of teaching our teenaged children how to drive rather than our spouse. (Fortunately our school systems usually offer driving classes, although they're meant to be supplemental instruction rather than a substitute for the parents or a private instructor teaching such skills.)  That said, since my mother came here from the Philippines where public transportation is readily available, she didn't learn how to drive until I was well into elementary school, and my father was the one who taught her the basics.  Somehow their marriage managed to survive the experience, but only because Dad has the patience of a saint.  I know because he also taught me a few years later, and we still speak to each other.   ;D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2014, 01:34:02 pm »
Then there's putting up wallpaper together.

Or riding a tandem bicycle.  (There's a saying in cycling circles---"Wherever your relationship is going, it will get there faster on a tandem.)  (Absolutely the worst thing for a captain to say to a stoker is, "Are you pedaling back there?")

Offline revanne

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2014, 02:32:44 pm »
I started to teach my elder DD to drive and thought I was doing really well until one day she said "Mum, I hate it the way your arm keeps jerking as though you're about to cross yourself!"
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."
As You Like It.

Offline Evie

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2014, 02:39:13 pm »
LOL!  I have a similar reflex, only mine is an attempt not to clutch at the car's door handle!   ;D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline DesertRose

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2014, 03:32:25 pm »
I lucked out with adolescent DD's driving.  She took to driving a car like a duck to water and drives quite sensibly, so no clutching the handle for my family.  :)

Laurna, I haven't had a chance to read your chapter yet, but I'll try to get to it this evening.  :)

Elkhound, my mom and I put up wallpaper together one time when I was about 15.  It took us four hours to apply wallpaper to a single 6-foot-by-10-foot wall with no doors or windows, only one electrical outlet and a land-line phone jack.  We still refer to that evening as "the Lucy and Ethel hang wallpaper incident" due to a number of "I Love Lucy" type mishaps and jokes.  To our credit, you couldn't find the seams between the sheets of wallpaper unless you REALLY looked hard.  We did a good job; it just took for-freaking-ever.  :)
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James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)

Offline Laurna

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2014, 04:05:43 pm »
I survived my first ever Root Canal at the dentist. The apprehension before hand was worse than the procedure, but holding my mouth open for an hour and a half was not pleasant. Anyway, it is done. With luck the antibiotics will take care of that couple year old tooth abscess that my dentist did not want to touch because it was not acute pain, just long lasting chronic pain that was driving me crazy.

DR, please read when ever you have leisure time. But now that you heard of the innuendos Evie discovered that I completely missed but did edit out, you likely will have trouble reading it without laughing and wondering where that misplaced sentence had been. I'm not telling.  :P 

As to drivers training, my mother's favorite vise while sitting in the passenger's seat is to stomp on the floor where the break peddle would be, and then scream when she could not break herself. As the driver, I would panic thinking I had missed something, only to realize she was panicking over the stop light 300 yards ahead. I don't drive with my mom very often.

Offline Evie

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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2014, 05:26:04 pm »
We had a vision and values meeting in our local church primary school yesterday and one of the teachers fell foul of a wonderful slip of the tongue that had us all in stitches. Luckily no children were present!

The church I attended in my teens had a guest speaker once who was trying to make a comparison between the Church and a living organism, only he accidentally compared it to, shall we say, a form of ecstasy more physical than spiritual in nature.  It was a minute or two before we could control our laughter enough for him to continue with his lesson, poor guy! 

I lucked out with adolescent DD's driving.  She took to driving a car like a duck to water and drives quite sensibly, so no clutching the handle for my family.  :)


Oh, everyone who has ridden with my children assures me that they are quite safe drivers.  I'm just a very nervous passenger.  There's just something about entrusting one's life to the driving skills of someone whose butt you used to powder, I guess.   ;D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Re: Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 1- The Archery Lesson
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2014, 09:53:49 pm »
Okay, I got a few minutes to sit and read this evening.  I really like this story so far, and I'm glad you're taking the good-natured teasing about the almost-naughty sentence that is no longer there.  :D

Evie, I must just be more laid-back than you, because I was never all that nervous as a passenger unless the driver is driving like a maniac.  :)

But yeah, sitting as a passenger in a car driven by a kid whose diapers/nappies you changed and to whom you fed baby food can be a bit of an adventure in "Where the heck did the time go?" at the very least.
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)

 

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Re: Evie's daughter's mystery allergy by Jerusha
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