Once more into Cassie’s story this week on the Tale. You can find the previous parts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and the prior chapter is here. There are moments when we see what’s in front of us and cannot avoid what will be. Sometimes we want to be somewhere else, sometimes there’s nowhere else we want to be. Whichever the path that awaits us, many times we can only …
It took a while for Uncle to explain what needed to be done, why it had to be done a certain way, and what it would mean for his silver-tailed niece. At first, she wasn’t quite sure why all of the ceremony was needed; Cassie would have been more than willing to just tell the entire Realm of her love, consequences be damned.
When the elderly red-tail had calmly explained the reasoning behind things, Cassie didn’t know what to say. The answer offered what she wanted, but past traditions and events made things more difficult than they really needed to be. What made the choice that much more difficult for her was the question of what the Realm would demand.
Those thoughts swirled in the Temptress’ mind as she left with Tera late that evening, walking through a quieter Ream than what had been earlier in the day. They had an answer now, at least for Cassie and her ebon-maned Monarch. Cassie could see the look in her friend’s eyes as they walked past the ever-changing fountain. There was something the red-tail wanted to say, but Cassie beat her to it: “What are we going to tell Keith?”
A hand tipped with red nails brushed through a wild mane of ebon hair: “Are you so sure we have to? I wouldn’t be surprised if he was told about this a long time ago by Simone.”
A familiar bemused smile appeared: “She and Keith have been close for years. Since his mom returned to Goddess, they’ve become closer.”
Cassie stopped: “Simone pushed me to look at the picture on Keith’s desk … the one I showed you.”
Tera nodded: “She’s looking out for the Realm, what else would you expect the Receptionist to do?”
“The Receptionist has nothing to do with this.”
Turning at the sound of Simone’s voice, they found their aunt sitting on the edge of the far side of the fountain, watching them both from afar. As the pair of succubi closed the distance, they watched her hand dip into the waters of the fountain, causing ripples to flow over the placid surface. Green eyes considered them both through silver frames as she continued: “I am your aunt first, and you young tails should never forget that.” The sheepish looks Tera and Cassie shared took the sting out of her words that followed: “You both love him and he loves you, that’s another thing you shouldn’t forget.”
Cassie raised her left hand, the silver bracelet from Keith catching reflections from the lights around them: “Auntie …”
Simone shook her head and then stood up, offering her hands to her nieces, the fountain shifting form as she did so. The three succubi held hands as the wisest among them continued: “You won’t forget, I know that. But I also know how my nieces get their tails in knots second guessing themselves. Tera has eternal love, but sees her first love aching every day. Cassie, you are Keith’s first love and wish to be eternally so, but you fear opening yourself to them both would take something away.”
Cassie looked at Tera in confusion as Simone continued: “I’ve suspected for years that’s why your luck is so awful. There’s a part of you that was holding you back. When you told me that you were giving up … well, I didn’t have a choice.” Tera’s eyes held Cassie’s as the story continued: “Perhaps it was meant to be that I forced you to look, to see the truth, to go back and meet Keith.”
The truth came easy to the silver-tail: “I’ve wanted to know everything from the moment Keith appeared. He just looks …”
Tera’s smile was seductive as she completed the so familiar words: “… right.”
Simone squeezed her nieces’ hands: “Of course he does. Without him the Realm would never be. The three of you were meant to be together, there’s not one tail in the Realm that doesn’t know that and they will be fine with the path the three of you take.”
Tera closed her eyes as Cassie asked: “What have you and Keith talked about? The truth please, Auntie.”
Simone released their hands and started to walk away, her tail motioning them both to follow. The younger tails caught up as she replied: “Things haven’t been the same since his mother passed; you both know that. Family means more to him then I think either of you realize.”
Tera pulled slightly on her ebon mane and sighed: “It’s been a hard thing, Auntie.”
Cassie just didn’t look at either of them: “We … miss him.”
“You wouldn’t be who you are if you didn’t, the both of you.”
They were all quiet as they passed through the Realm, beyond the Palace and onto a quiet drive that led towards a very familiar home with a wooden fence and a very special koi pond.
“Today’s something called Thanksgiving in the human realm. There’s actually two of them, one on either side of Halloween.”
Cassie was confused: “That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.”
Simone stopped just on the edge of the red cobblestones that marked the welcoming path to this special home: “It’s odd, but that’s not important. What matters is this. Thanksgiving for the one you love is about him giving thanks for what you both have given. He never expected to find love and especially not being in love with both of you. But there’s that worry that he’s not good enough, that he’ll never be …”
The younger succubi spoke, their words of disbelief and concern running over top of each other until Cassie said: “He knows he is, doesn’t he?”
Simone smiled: “Have you told him … together?”
Tera looked at Cassie who shook her head: “That’s what all this is about?”
There was nothing more that needed to be said, and so an aunt who loved her nieces found herself hugged tightly by both. A red-tail’s hand found the hand of a silver-tail, the two turning towards the soul they loved, knowing he was waiting for them within the home of red brick, behind the wooden fence.
Simone watched them enter, knowing that things would work out. As the door closed, she turned away and passed by the fence marking the space between the Realm and that of her niece’s heart, smiling …