Sometimes there comes a point where Tera has to actually appear as the Queen, an instant when Keith must appear as the King. This, of course, is something neither really enjoys, exactly, but, affairs of state being what they are, it is an inevitable thing. But with the formality comes a most special memory for them both, the memory of a most special …
The throne room of the Realm is a place with memories. It is a space in which choices have been made, rules laid down, and the future shaped to be what it came to be. While many think of this place as being central for Tera and her Eternal, Keith, it’s really not seen that way by them.
To Tera, the throne itself represents her parents. She remembers the hardships they confronted, the battles fought—both with words and, regrettably, in blood—when there was no other recourse to be found. The throne isn’t a terrible thing, not by any means, but she also recalls the point her parents made: the throne is a symbol; it need not be her. It might have to be used sometimes, it might be part of her life, but she did not have to be chained to it to be the Queen.
For Keith, the throne represented a promise he’d made and it was one that he held for always.
Meeting Tera’s mother was the first hurdle he’d had to pass. Now, that in itself was something that didn’t unfold as he’d expected. But that was meeting her as Tera’s mother, not as the Queen of a Realm. What has more concerning was having to meet her father, the King, as the King, not as Tera’s father, and that, if he was honest with himself, was a real concern. Keith knew that he was being protective of his only daughter, something that Keith respected and understood. It wasn’t his place to second guess his soon-to-be father in law.
It was, in the end, a matter of respect, and so it was one of the rare moments when Keith had to wear a tie.
“Are you nervous?”
Keith was tying his tie—something that he detested wearing—for the twelfth time as he looked into the mirror: “What makes you think that?”
Tera was leaning against the doorway, tapping a finger against her lovely red lips as he pulled the tie loose and started again: “The hour you’ve spent looking into that mirror and fumbling with that tie of yours.”
His smile was reflected in the mirror: “I always fumble with my tie. You’re the one that isn’t helping, oh bemused one.”
Her giggle did help settle the butterflies: “You didn’t ask, oh stubborn one.”
Pulling the tie free, her blue eyed Eternal offered it up: “Oh wondrous Princess of the Realm, would you give your assistance to a mere human who is all thumbs?”
Gently pulling on the tie, which was a particular shade of red that only one particular tail in the Realm possessed, the bemused one in question winked: “It would be my delight to help the soul whom I love … thumbs and all.”
“You’re just lucky we have to be on time. Otherwise I’m sure you have all sorts of plans.”
“I lost count at sixty-eight.”
He arched an eyebrow: “Sixty-eight?”
The red-tailed temptress purred, invitingly: “I’m sure you can figure out one more.”
Human or not, he wasn’t going to let that pass: “I have an idea.”
Seeing the look in his eyes, Tera looped the tie around his collar: “I’m sure you do.”
As she worked away at his tie, he mused out loud: “I might. It depends on whether or not you want both of us to be a complete mess, or just mostly.”
It turned out that Tera preferred a complete mess and the tie found itself used in a way it didn’t expect itself to be. Another tie was found, eventually, though the “search” took more time than it really needed to, not that the two Eternals really minded. This one was as red as the first, and this time Tera was the one to be fiddling with it.
“It’s going to be fine.”
“Sure, it’s only your father and he’s only the King.”
“You weren’t this nervous meeting my Mom.”
“Your Mom … is your Mom. She wasn’t the Queen at the time.”
Tera pulled the tie, perhaps a bit too sharply: “Mom’s always the Queen.”
His hands found hers: “She’s your Mom first, Queen second.”
So-green eyes found so-blue ones: “Dad’s the King first, Dad second.”
Keith smiled, trying to calm her worries: “I’m more concerned about that pitchfork of his.”
The ebon-haired Eternal smirked: “Not worried about mine?”
One of her Eternal’s hands slipped free of hers, lightly tracing a path over her hip towards the sensitive spot just beneath where her tail appeared: “In your case, lovely Princess of the Realm, I know your weakness.”
“mmm … Do you?”
His blue eyes sparkled: “I do.”
The second tie eventually found itself wrapped around a bedpost, having witnessed the talents of a very persuasive human upon the singular weakness of a certain red-tail that loved him. The search for a third tie took a lot longer than the preceding two attempts, mostly because there was a side trip into the kitchen where a lot of RediWhip had been “consumed.” Keith did, after all, need to research the effects of RediWhip on succubi tails … extensively … and Tera was an excellent subject for that research, of course.
The third tie was the very last one that they had. It was exactly the same shade of red as a certain future Queen of the Realm’s tail was. Whether the tie was hoping, for or against, for the fate of its fellow ties to occur was anyone’s guess. The tie betting pool wasn’t taking any bets on that.
They were standing in their front hallway, Tera fussing over things as he mused: “You know … I was thinking …”
The red-tail winced as she was trying, again, to get his tie exactly right, this time for real: “I shudder to think …”
“What difference does it make if I’m wearing a tie or not?”
She’d just about got the knot perfect: “It matters because Dad’s a stickler for formality.”
Tera finished up the knot and stepped back: “I can be, if I really have to.”
He looked over his love’s black dress, trimmed in red, one that in the future would become the thing of legend which marked the appearance of the bemused Queen of the Realm: “I really do like that dress.”
That got him a peck on the cheek.
“But you know …”
She pressed two fingers against his lips: “I know, and I’d love nothing more than to walk in on Dad completely casual, but he’d flip his lid.”
A slightly gruff voice broke into their repartee: “That depends, dearest daughter, on why, exactly, you are both so late in making your appointment?”
Tera froze, not daring to turn about and look her father in the eye. She could see the clock on the other side of the hall and realized that they were almost four hours late: “Dad?”
Keith found himself looking over his love’s shoulder to see an older gentleman regarding him: “Sir, I’ll take responsibly for being delayed and causing any issues for you.”
“Care to explain what delayed you?”
Keith’s answer came with the lacing of his fingers with Tera’s, her tail wrapping around his waist and she resting her head against his shoulder: “I was having trouble with my tie.”
His red tail was moving slowly behind him: “Really?”
“It seems that a tie cannot be perfect without the help of an Eternal’s hand.”
He felt Tera’s tail tense, squeeze him a little tighter.
Tera never saw her father smile as he tapped two fingers to his horns: “Looks perfect to me.”
She did feel Keith’s nod: “She is.”
The King turned and made his way out of his daughter’s home: “Better get more ties young man. Useful things, you know … so I’m told.”
Keith smiled as he felt Tera trying to stifle a giggle: “Will do, sir.”
The promise was an unspoken one, passed from a father to his son-in-law, seeing his daughter and her Eternal.
Ties are, indeed, useful things . . . sometimes even as apparel.
The one tie that matters, however, is the one that binds two Eternals together.