There are some beings in the Realm who are reflections of those found in the real world. Artistic liberties are taken, of course, but there’s a bit of truth hidden within them. Little events or likes, for example Earl Grey tea and oatmeal cookies, are those quirky things that make me smile. Sometimes there’s a story to be told in the moments remembered with a favourite aunt and the promise she made …
She asks from time to time if I think she’d be proud of her.
It’s a family trait, after all, to be so very dismissive of the things we’ve done, not seeing anything special about doing the right thing, acting in the right way. She isn’t really wondering if my sister would be proud of her; that’s not the point of the question. The point is that I am her aunt, her mother’s sister. I’m the only connection she has between that part of her life, so long ago, and the life she has now. I was there when she was born, I still remember that moment when her little red tail wrapped around my finger, her so-green eyes looking at me. Her mother’s words—saying that she’d change our lives, our kind, be so much more than we could possibly understand—so clear in my mind.
I recall the moment after, being asked to watch over her. I didn’t want to hear the words from my sister. But if she was anything, she was blunt with the truth, with her reasoning and, most of all, with getting a promise out of you.
Most just see the Receptionist at her desk in the Palace, dealing with the minutia of the Realm. But those who press on the edges of her world—it is her world, after all—see the other side of me. I’ve seen the best and the worst souls seeking to pass; one, in particular, I’ve been sparring with for eons now. That one is … persistent … but has discovered I’m worse.
I honestly never expected the ebon-maned red-tail who is my niece to find her Eternal. It just didn’t seem to be possible. Her mother did tell me that there would be soul with blue eyes who would appear one day. That was another thing about her, she would prophesy and would almost always be correct.
When he appeared, to stand beside my niece, he just looked right. No, that’s not true: they looked right together. I would have thought that he’d not care about my thoughts, or anyone else’s for that matter. He surprised me, seeking me out before anyone else. Introducing himself not as the King, but simply … Keith, asking if he might be allowed to know my name, not my title.
To be truthful, I hadn’t been called “Simone” for a very long time.
He surprised me in being as concerned about my wellbeing as my niece was. It wasn’t an act, not a plan to get on my good side. He opened himself to me, seeking me out not as an advisor, not as part of the Royal Court. He wanted a friend.
The first offering of oatmeal cookies—baked by him, no less—was the starting point. He proved himself to be thoughtful, our conversations were intriguing, he asked questions about the Realm, true, but more so he asked what I thought, expressing, not telling me, his own.
When his mother passed, he grieved. I didn’t expect anything less. It was a long road for the Eternals to find themselves on. It was hard to not push in, to poke my tail in. That also is a trait of our family: we don’t give up on those we care about. He’d always reply that he was “getting there”. Getting there took a long time, and I worried.
I worried about losing a friend. Being the King didn’t matter to him, nor did it matter to me. What mattered was the soul called “Keith.” It took a while, but he finally returned, offering oatmeal cookies once more. I knew, then, that my friend had returned.
That then brings me back to my promise to my sister, doesn’t it?
As the Receptionist, I see what the red-tailed Queen and King have created, the promise they gave to our kind. I reflect on where we came from and what their choices have brought.
Tera’s Auntie, however, sees her niece in the arms of her Eternal. Two souls forever joined in their love. I see two blue tailed daughters with them, watching their parents with very familiar bemused smiles.
Perhaps that’s the best promise of all: the promise of a bemused smile and the wonders that appear …