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Her hands are going through the motions of taking apart and cleaning a Vickers Martini Mk. 1 Target Rifle when the dream begins.

She hasn't used one since she was 14, but dream logic can be strange.

"I should have known I'd find you working on a gun," says a very familiar voice, tinged with laughter. Annabelle's head snaps up in shock, face going pale as her eyes confirm who's talking to her.

"Mom?" she asks quietly, voice cracking. The pain and loss of an orphaned child is in her voice even now.

"Were you expecting the Easter Bunny?" her mother replies with a raised eyebrow. Her tone is dry, but there is laughter sparkling in her eyes.

Annabelle's mind is reeling so much that she actually says the first thing that crosses her mind, "But you're so small!"

Marie Lee Newfield laughs at that. "Oh my sweet, silly girl," she says with a shake of her head. "You've just gotten taller, that's all."

Annabelle doesn't remember crossing the intervening space, just wrapping her mother in a nearly bone crushing hug. "I've missed you so much, she says with a sniffle, head buried in her mother's shoulder.

"I've missed you too, sweetheart. So very, very much. I've missed so much of your life...."

Annabelle can't quite manage to speak around the lump in her throat, so she just nods.

"But I've taken advantage of a certain loophole, tonight," she says with a mischievous grin, holding her daughter tight. "So I want to hear about all the things I've missed..."

"Loophole?" Annabelle asks, confused.

"All Hallow's Eve," Marie explains. The walls between the living and the dead are a bit more...permeable than usual, tonight."

There is time enough for the telling of tales. Tales of her life as a hero, her death, her loves and her losses. Her new life and love at the Bar at the End of The Universe. At the end of the tale, her mother hugs her even tighter, and whispers, "I'm so proud of you, Annabelle. Prouder than I could ever say."

If they both cry a little then, well, there's no one to see. Both of them can feel the loophole closing, feel the sand slipping through the hourglass. "I can't stay," Annabelle says to her mother. "Not yet."

Marie nods. "No, not yet. You've got too much living left to do," she says with a fond smile. She reaches for something in her hip pocket, and presses it into Annabelle's hand. "Your Connor had best get around to making an honest woman of you, if he knows what's good for him," she says with a grin.


"What? I'm not allowed to want grandchildren?" Marie teases. She hugs Annabelle tightly one last time, kissing her on the forehead. "Be happy, Annabelle. That's all I've ever wanted for you."

Annabelle wakes, then, curled up next to Connor in bed. There's something in her hand....

She unclenches her fist and looks at what lies within. It's not, monetarily speaking, terribly valuable. The brooch is only a thin layer of gold over brass, with a blue agate mosaic of forget-me-nots. The gold has worn off around the edges, and a few of the stones are chipped or missing. That sort of thing tends to happen to jewelry after it's been worn for a generation or two.

Her grandmother's brooch, the one that served as Grandma's wedding ring, and, later, Marie's. She doesn't know what to make of this evidence of a dream that wasn't a dream. Not yet.
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