Auntie By TeraS

A short little story this week, mainly because all of the other ones I’ve been poking at aren’t … quite done, not quite finished, or something like that; just not … quite. So, let’s call this something that made me smile …

 

Auntie
By TeraS

 

There are moments when Tera needs to be the Queen of the Realm. To be clear, these are moments she’s not exactly thrilled about, either. She’d thought, after so long, that by giving those in the Palace the right to make decisions, that at some point she’d not have so much to do.

Of course, she’d never managed to get the paperwork of the Realm bureaucracy passed off to someone else when it was placed upon her doorstep, or, more accurately, the desk in her office within the Palace proper. Whether it be a post-it note, a scroll, a computer printout, a postcard, or some other means of paper-based communication poking in her direction, there always seemed to be something that needed to be done.

But there were times when Tera wasn’t the Queen. There were times when Tera was just Tera—if it is even possible to conceive of “just Tera”—and those were important moments for her.

The single person in the Realm that made all of that easier was, of course, a certain red tail called the Receptionist. She’d been there from the first moment that Tera had become the Queen … at least that was what most remembered.

Tera, however, knew far better than anyone else could know.

This particular morning found Tera looking out onto the courtyard of the Palace, waiting, sipping some tea, and watching groups of incubi and succubi making their way towards all the shops, labs, offices, fields, gyms, classrooms, and other places where the inner workings of the Realm went on, as happened every morning. She smiled around a sip of her tea as she watched the occasional pair, trio, quartet, or larger grouping looking quite disheveled as they approached. The Realm’s nightlife was rather varied, and she wondered which of the many delights they’d happened upon—some being more obvious than others, of course.

She was in the midst of tapping a finger on her lips, thinking about a particular club that would appeal to her Eternal when a flash of red appeared on the main walkway outside. From far away, some might think it was Tera herself, but it wasn’t, not quite at least.

The figure appeared to be a little bit older than Tera, a little bit more no-nonsense. Oh, she was a raven-haired, red-horned-and-tailed seductress, no question, but her hair was pinned into a bun, her choice of dress very business-like. As Tera continued to watch from afar, a pair of green eyes regarded her through silver rimmed oval glasses, an eyebrow arched inquisitively.

The smile was almost like Tera’s, but not quite. Bemusement was, to be sure, a family trait.

It was somewhat early for the Queen to be present, after all.

Tera watched from above until the older red-tail disappeared below the balcony. She then turned towards her office door, waiting for her trusted companion to arrive. Her attention was drawn to a little bit of fluff that was clinging to her fuzzy sweater, she’d forgone the idea of dressing up this morning, and there was no reason, anyway, to be tied into a corset, or thigh-high boots, or, for that matter, being all made up. Blue jeans and a red fuzzy sweater were more than enough, thank you—especially and most of all in this moment.

The pinch of her tail was a surprise, and it was a good thing that she’d put her tea cup on the table moments before; otherwise, she’d have a mess on her hands.

The Receptionist didn’t like messes. She did like, however, surprising the Queen: “What are you doing here so early, young lady?”

Tera rubbed her tail where she’d been pinched: “I should be asking you the same thing.”

A small travel mug was set on the table beside Tera’s own cup: “I asked first, so spill.”

Tucking a lock of her wild mane into place, the Queen sighed: “I’d … like to talk to you.”

The Receptionist nodded, the moment of humour dissipating, her no-nonsense personality returning as she started for the inner office: “Of course, let me go get my notepad and …”

“No. I want to talk to you … Auntie.”

The word was a surprise. She hadn’t been expecting it, and she clutched the doorframe reflexively. How long had it been? Centuries? She’d set aside that part of herself when her niece had become the Queen. It wasn’t important at that moment that she be Tera’s aunt. The touch of her niece’s fingers on her shoulder was as much of a shock to her as her playful pinch had been to Tera’s tail moments ago. She hid it well, she thought, when she looked over her shoulder: “Who?”

The Queen was quiet, and her eyes were soft. “Uncle told me.”

She sighed: of course he had. Tera had always been close to him, while Auntie was been more in the background, helping her sister, Tera’s mother, and not having time for Tera after … things happened. She’d tried to make up for that as best she could. The workings of the Palace were her domain, after all; no one knew them better than she did. That is how she’d faded away into the machinations of the Realm bureaucracy, setting aside being an aunt for being the gatekeeper to the Queen, organizer of Realm, and protector of Tera herself.

“Auntie … please … just for a little while, be my aunt and not the Receptionist … please?”

The doorframe made for a good brace as she turned. She found herself looking at Tera, but seeing her sister. She was looking at Tera as her niece, but also her Queen. It was, she was sure, a matter of priorities, she’d made her choice knowing full well that it needed to be this way. “Tera … you need me as your receptionist. I’m fine with that.”

“No, that’s where you’re wrong.” Tera turned back to the table, picking up an old leather-bound diary. Auntie recognized it; how could she not? She’d know the handwriting of her only sister anywhere.

I’ve let Simone know what I’m going to do. She’s madder than hell about it. I hope she’ll do as I asked. Tera’s going to need them when I’m gone. If there’s anyone I can trust to protect her, it’s going to be her and William. They’ll look after her.

Tera looked up from reading the passage: “Please, just … be Auntie Simone … please?”

It was hard for the Receptionist to even think about what that was like, to try to remember a time when she’d held Tera in her arms, watched a small red tail wind itself about her finger, to remember laughing as the young girl swung in circles from the swing set, to reach back into a time before things became so serious, so focused, so one-sided. “It’s been a long time, Tera. I don’t know if …”

A long, red tail twined itself with another long, red tail: “You know … I remember this cool aunt …” Simone didn’t pull away as Tera’s fingers tugged her silver, horn-rimmed glasses away: “She had this amazing smile … she loved to play pranks on me” … the pins came out of her hair as easily, and it fell in long, straight, raven waves over her shoulders. Tera smiled: “I got her back a couple of times, you know.”

The smile was a reflection of Tera’s own: “You only think you did. She let you.”

“I’m glad she did. I wish she’d come back.”

The elder red-tail paused, looking into the hopeful eyes of the younger one. She saw the anticipation, the want, the love in Tera’s eyes … and the shift from no-nonsense happened in the blink of an eye. The business dress gave way to faded jeans, even more faded out top and sneakers.

Tera pretended to eye her critically: “Hmm … Looks sort of familiar.”

Simone hugged her: “Where did you think you got your fashion sense from, anyway?”

“I wondered why mom always looked at me funny.”

She tapped Tera’s nose: “Oh … your mom always looked at me funny. I was a bad influence, obviously.”

Tera hugged her aunt tightly: “Sure you were, Auntie. Sure you were.”

From afar, an elderly red tail with the whitest hair the monarch of the Realm had ever seen watched as a long lost Aunt was held by her adoring niece. He tapped his cane upon the cobblestone walk that led to the Palace in thought. It had been far too long that the Queen and the Receptionist had been together, and far too long since his niece and his sister had been together. It was about time that Simone put aside all of that office work. It was about time that his niece got to know her aunt again. He smiled at the thought of calling Tera tonight, knowing full well that he’d not get a word in about hockey.

He could hardly wait.

1 comment

    • avatar
    • James on August 10, 2017 at 1:58 am

    This is something that makes Your Majesty’s heart smile, too. It’s lovely how Your Majesty reveals this new aspect of the Receptionist.

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