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Aug 16, 2022 1:01 AM
someone needs to tell first age exalted ellie and fate that you're not supposed to select the same person for all of "bed, wed, behead"
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Which seem to be more and more frequent, as the weeks and months and years start to pass. Elathea is distracted, absorbed in her work. Still kind and loving to her wife and children-

-when she can be reminded they exist.


Gleam's very good at reminding people she exists, and... Elathea's done long term projects before, they've taken breaks from each other before. It's okay to be gone for a month or two or even several, as much as her heart wants to scream that it isn't. 

She just needs to help Elathea remember that the really intense projects can wait until the girls have grown up enough to go on their own long trips. 


It's easier some days than others. Increasingly hard, but she's unsure how much that's Elathea getting worse, and how much that's her fault. Her temper is running short, these days, and she's... Still good at reminding Elathea she exists, but it's a struggle to do that kindly from time to time, and Gleam's made it a rule for herself not to try and drag Elathea out when Gleam is actively angry. 

(She's been feeling in the right headspace to drag her wife into family activities more and more rarely. Micqui is a huge help, with that, with the girls - parenting two preteens isn't easy, not by herself, not when she's also assisting her realm, managing Elathea's estate, trying to have any personal projects at all - )

(Gleam struggles, some days, to identify the last time she sat down and painted. Surely she painted something this year? She doesn't know...)


But - the twins' ceremony to celebrate reaching the age of responsibility is approaching, now, with their thirteenth birthdays. Not quite full adulthood, but - a massive step forward. Full members of the community, even if they're not yet ready to establish their own households. It's a massive deal even in the Blessed Isle, and an even bigger deal out in the outskirts of Creation. Coordinating everything is... Stressful, even handing most of it off to Micqui.

But trying to get her wife to fully engage, feeling like she's endlessly repeating herself - It's in six-three-one month, a week, a few days -

That's the worst. 


Samira is getting good at telling when her mothers are stressed (you can tell because either the sun or the moon are in the sky), and at avoiding attention when they're either too busy or too pissed with each other to really be nice.


She likes spending time with Layla and Micqui. Layla's always fun and Micqui's just- just great. Even if she does get scary focused sometimes, Samira doesn't mind that so much.


...Micqui tries. 

And she wants her sisters to call her out if she ever gets too focused, if she ever forgets the important stuff. 

She talks to them for the first time in... Ever, really, about her birth mother. About the woman who forgot everything important in the world, and created a daughter she could betray. 

Micqui doesn't want to become that woman. 

Their mothers - their real mothers - saved her, and Micqui loves them, and -

Micqui doesn't want to become the woman Shochi did, and she very solemnly explains she thinks their mothers aren't becoming the people they'd want to be. (It's hard, doing that. It's hard letting go.)


Getting the twins prepped for their ceremonies is fun, too. A nice turn around - Layla and Samira were very helpful when it was Micqui's turn. (Maybe she should make flower crowns for them, too, she teases.)


Sounds wonderful to Layla.


(She doesn't avoid their mothers, ever. She gets in their faces - mostly Gleam's face, since mama is around the most and mom's usually only around when she's in a better mood. She screams where mama snaps. She sets her chin, snarls - )

(Mama's always backed down. Layla's trying to learn not to take that as vindication, she's trying to add to the stress in the household less and help reduce it, but, well. Layla knows what she wants, and she gets it. She knows what she believes, and nothing can stand in her way.)


Samira just hopes everyone's going to be happy for the ceremony.


Gleam... Is a teensy bit stressed. Their mom's running late. But she's keeping her cool, taking deep breaths, delegating when needed...

Their mom's running really late. Gleam pauses in the middle of the room, takes a deep breath, and says, "I should go find her."


"...We could start without her..."


" - I don't think she'll want to miss this. She's probably just gotten distracted..." Slow, deep breath. "But - it's your ceremony. Going to get her would delay things, at this point, and... She's sometimes grouchy when pulled out..." 

She closes her eyes. "...How much do you two want her here?"


Not at all if mom's going to be angry. "Dunno." Glance at Layla.


Layla's a lot more attached to mom than Samira is - and more desperate for mom's affection than mama's.

She looks... Lost. Maybe a bit devastated.

"...Let's start without her."

She wants to say - let's wait. We can do it tomorrow. Next year. Drag mom out ahead of time enough she's focused again. Wait on her.

She knows as well as Samira that there's no point dragging a 'grouchy' mom to this. Her coming of age is already kinda ruined, and at this point... She wants to just get it over with.

(She's angry, too, of course she is, and - if mom cares about being here and just got distracted, and would be apologetic and grateful if interrupted - the angry part of Layla wants to exclude her. To punish her. Layla isn't very good at not listening to her angry part.)


An uncertain glance at Samira. "Is that alright with you?"


"Yeah." She nods.


"Okay. Let's get going."

Off to finish getting ready, then, and - begin.


Samira tries her best to get Layla into the proper spirit of things. Even if mom's not here.


She's able to put on a brave face, if nothing else.


That's what adults do, right? Deal with things.


Then maybe mom isn't really an adult.

They deal with it. It's not too bad, even. Might actually be fun, behind the nerves, in the moments Layla can pretend mom just came in late, that she's there and just trying not to distract the girls, and she'll be waiting with mama when they're done -

(She isn't. Why would Layla expect anything else?)


Hand in hand, the twins step into adulthood.


Gleam celebrates with them. Takes enough deep breaths to be there properly. To not let her rage overtake her and ruin this. 

Her girls are growing up.  That doesn't mean she gets to stop being their mother.

She cooks them a wonderful meal that night, tells them stories of her own trials with growing up - steering away, some, from dwelling on the pain of her childhood. More to the lessons she only started to learn well after she became an adult. Encourages Micqui to share similar stories. She talks, too, about the twins' childhood. Emphasizes her love for them. 

Gives them space to tell their own stories. 

It's a pleasant night. She doesn't leave a conspicuously open space for Elathea. Doesn't let the gaps where her daughters' mother should be overwhelm. 

She leaves them to stay up or go to bed as they will at midnight - it's their responsibility, now, to set that for themselves. She wishes them sweet dreams, a pleasant night. 


She leaves their presence, relaxes a little, and the rage threatens to strangle her. 

It's after midnight. Elathea missed everything.

Gleam goes to find her wife. Her movements are measured, slow, but not in a meditative way. Not in a calm way. 

She can't remember having ever been this furious before. 


Elathea's workshop is secured, of course, but Gleam helped build some of these protections, she can get through them. Not that any of them would really stop her. The final line of defense had always been intended to be Elathea herself.


She doesn't do anything liable to set off a reaction that could harm Elathea's projects or Elathea herself, not yet - though she wants to. She wants to hurt Elathea for this. 

Gleam has been working through her anger for a very long time. She pushes past the workshop's protections, but, otherwise, keeps her head.

Where is her wife in this? 


Hunched over a workbench, concentrating intently on manipulating a set of fine tools, slowly and precisely carving microscopic patterns into a piece of jadesteel about the size of a palm. She's about half done.


She doesn't slap it out of Elathea's hands, even though she wants to. 

Instead -

"Elathea," she says, voice sharp and dangerous. 

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