I’m going to be setting aside Morgane’s story for the balance of August and the reason for this will become, I think, rather clear as this particular story unfolds. For you see, there are some truths that are …
Eternal – Part I
There are many things which the Queen and King of the Realm have in common. If not sharing in all of each of their particular likes, certainly there are some personality quirks which appear to be very obvious to those around them. Their birthdays being the most so, which surprises no-one. Neither really expects anything special to happen; they don’t go looking for adoration, flamboyant events, or such things. It simply isn’t who either of them are.
My niece is so terribly set in her ways about this. Her Eternal, my dear friend, even more so, if that’s possible. Honestly, it’s frustrating at times when his demure personality comes to the fore about the topic of his birthday, in particular. He’s well aware that in spite of his commentary–or perhaps to spite that, to my own amusement–his protestations will fall upon deaf ears.
The plans had been percolating in my thoughts for some time as the calendar turned over, the date circled in red appearing there on the bottom edge. I had been gathering my thoughts, my index finger tapping the date in question when his voice announced his arrival. “What are we pondering today, Simone?”
This was in jest, of course. He would never say or consider thinking such things in a way to give offence. From the first moment we met, there was a connection between us, an understanding. We all speak of him looking “right,” of course, that being not a consequence of being our King. It really wouldn’t matter in the slightest if he wasn’t, after all, a bright soul, one who loves freely and who openly is captivating.
My reply held as much teasing: “Where am I going to find a duck and a hose at this time of the afternoon.”
I do so enjoy his smile, as he knows he started this: “Never should have told you about that cartoon.”
Taking a sip of tea and strategically setting the cup right over the circled date, I regard him through my silver-rimmed glasses: “Humour is an artful concept, young man. One should be able to appreciate it when it is well done.”
I do appreciate our banter. It’s not a battle or a struggle to some sort of victory. It’s a bit of lightness to carry the other parts of the conversation to where they will end up. Casting my thoughts to the time when he first appeared, my pleasure in knowing him brings a smile that I’m sure makes him wonder what I’m thinking about.
I’d seen dear Cassiopeia challenge Tera for the throne, and that saddened me more than I have ever let on. Centuries later, the truth came out of course, but at the time all that I knew was that I would lose one or both of them to the throne. Neither had an Eternal which meant nothing but terrible things for the future. They both had their opinions, they both believed they were right. They couldn’t be, of course. How wrong that thought was then, and I’m ashamed that I couldn’t trust in this sorting itself out.
Our family has always loved libraries. It seemed like one of us was always in the Realm’s library, lost in the depths of the stacks with one or another of the books calling for our attention. In the midst of the strife between my nieces, I’d secreted myself in one particular reading room I adored. Far up in the upper floors, an enormous skylight and bay windows showing the skies above and the Realm far below. It was my private place to, as my dear mother said, gather wool and make up my mind about things.
Being the Receptionist, the Guardian of the Realm, I’m far more attuned than most to how things are. I had been feeling the tension, the loss, the confusion of our kind, and it weighed on me. It was quarter to three in the morning in that moment when I felt something change in the texture of the Realm. Looking into the night, there wasn’t a physical change, it was something else that I couldn’t explain at that instant.
Tera’s voice calling out shook my thoughts, and I turned to find her by the doorway. She was wearing the long red jacket that would become her trademark look in the years to come, my first thought was how she looked perfect, but of course she would. I was a terrible influence on her, so her mother said with a wink many times. “Tera?”
“I want you to meet someone.” The skyline of the Realm left my attention as I watched Tera hold out her hand and he entered, his hand slipping into her waiting one. I would have to be blind not to see how right they were for each other. I would have to be stupid not to see the love they shared. In that first moment seeing them together, there was no question what the next words would be.
“This is my Eternal, Keith.”
It was an awkward moment to be sure. I was close to tears, words failing as their love took root in the Realm. I felt the change, the tension ebbing slightly away both around and within me. In that moment, I knew that it would be better, that this mortal brought here by the rightful Queen would be the one to make a difference.
They shared a kiss, then Tera left the room, leaving me alone with the blue-eyed human she loved. I didn’t expect him to close the space between us, take my hand and kiss it in the formal way before taking me in his arms, my own finding their way to holding him, my tail wrapped possessively around his waist. I looked into those so-blue eyes, I felt the love he held, the brightness of his soul …
… and then he started to explain.
If i didn’t know his soul, the story would be impossible to believe. That he loved Tera more than life, but he also loved Cassiopeia as his first love. My silver-tailed niece had come to the mortal world long before Tera had found him, fallen into love and revealed the truth of the Realm. The Cassiopeia he loved wasn’t the one of the here and now, exactly. It was the Cassiopeia in the future–which was confusing, he admitted–but he would love her from afar until the moment happened and all was right again.
But that didn’t matter. He loved them both and, in knowing that, my fear of losing my nieces to the throne faded away. Of course I could accept the three of them being Eternals, of course I would do whatever had to be done to make that all come true. I would have to hide the truth for a long time, he made clear, but, in the end, Tera’s dream of what the Realm could be, would be.
I saw Tera in the doorway waiting for my verdict on her Eternal, hoping that I would approve. Our eyes met and there was only one word needed: “Yes.”
Because of a mortal with blue-eyes that shared a dream eternally.
My thoughts return to the present, where my dear friend waits on the other side of my office desk with a concerned expression. “Good memories?”
Raising my tea to him the answer came easily: “Always.” Then came the bemused smile my niece and I shared: “We’re still going to celebrate your birthday.”
He didn’t look at all disappointed in the revelation that plans were afoot, of course, not that I would expect him to be. It could be as simple as a cupcake with a candle in it for all he cared.
It was going to be somewhat more than that …