A World Beside Our Own

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Parting is So Hard

My expression changes. “Mom” I whisper.

I put my glamour on, and Ruby lies on my stomach and grabs her phone while Kevin snuggles into my shoulder. By the time she opens the door, we’re all playing on our phones, cuddled together.

“Now don’t the three of you look adorable together.” She smiles with her hand on her hip. “I’m making an early lunch so that Simia can make her train on time, wash up.”

“Okay!” we say together and then smile.

She smiles and shakes her head. We untangle ourselves and head to the bathroom. “That was a close one, wasn’t it?” Ruby whispers.

“Too close.” I say with concern. “We’ll have to find a safe place where we can’t be interrupted if we want to be that affectionate together again. Otherwise it’s one or the other, okay?”

“Okay.” Kevin says. “Will we ever see where you live?” my boyfriend gets curious.

I frown pensively as we dry our hands. “I don’t know how you would get there, or if you’d want to go there to be honest. Blightwood creeps most people out, being a vampire community. Not sure if my family would trust having mundanes in the house, let me ask Emmya and I’ll let you know.” We walk down the hall. “The hard part is that we don’t have a car.”

“You don’t have a car?” Ruby gasps, trying to keep her voice down.

“Who needs a car, when there are other, more convenient ways to travel.” I give a sly smile. I don’t want to give everything away, in case his mother is in earshot.

It’s a cold winter’s day, so Susan has made tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh, I miss the comforts of down home cooking! We thank her for the comfort food and dig in to our lunch, crumbling the crackers into the soup. Susan seems to love the way the three of us interact together. We get along so well, even better now that we’ve admitted our love for one another.

I guess the one benefit with this relationship is that Kevin, becoming a guy, will never interest Ruby. I don’t have to worry about them being intimate with each other when we’re apart. They literally share me as their girlfriend. I am getting just as bad as Rose, because I feel no guilt with this arrangement.

Dani once told me that, while Dee is Rose’s girlfriend, Dee and her mom Cassandra are just friends. They share Rose, but not each other. I asked her how she knows. Dani says that they share the same bedroom, the three of them sleep together, but she’s never seen Dee and her Cassandra kiss.

And here I am developing the same relationship with my two best friends.

“Can we walk Simia to the train station mom?” Kevin asks as we’re finishing up lunch.

“It’s cold outside, are you sure you’re up for the half hour or more that it’s going to take to get there and back?” Susan asks, concerned.

“It’s not very windy, I think we’ll be fine.” I say confidently, knowing that my spell will keep them comfortable for the day. They won’t even feel the temperature outside till it hits 10 below.

“It might not be long for you, but they have a longer walk, young lady.” Susan says in a stern tone.

“If we leave early enough, then it’ll give them time to warm up in the station before heading out again.” I smile. “I do a lot of running, I’ve gotten used to judging temperatures pretty well.” I remind her.

“Well, as long as you’ve thought this through…” Susan says as she picks up my dish now that I’m done. Ruby is still eating. “But I want you to dress warm.” She says in a motherly voice.

“Yes Mom.” My friends answer and then grin.

“I swear, I’ve never had just one child.” Susan smiles as she brings mine and Kevin’s dishes into the kitchen.”

“I’m going to miss you.” Kevin says sadly as we pack up.

“I’m going to be gone for four to five days, then I’ll be back online like I normally am.” I remind him.

“Can I call you?” He asks.

“Cell phones don’t work across dimensions, dear.” I say sadly. “As it is, the Elven people live off of nature. While they are advanced in art, architecture and civilization, they never had an industrial revolution like we did. There are no electronics, or anything synthetic on Arborea. I have to leave everything behind that’s artificially man made - which includes all of my cosmetics.”

“Considering how beautiful you are, you don’t need makeup.” Ruby says affectionately. I smile and give her a loving kiss. “Hmm,” she says dreamily, “your lips are so soft, I’m going to miss your kisses.”

Kevin is thoughtful. “So you won’t be able to take pictures? I won’t see what the Elven kingdom looks like?”

“Sadly no.” I say. “Unless I can acquire some portraits, I’m sure there will be some realistic paintings I can find. Then I can take pictures of those and send them to you when I get home. As it is, I’m picking Sala up tomorrow so that we can make sure she’s not packed something she shouldn’t. My Elven delegation is going to make us dump our bags, and will tell us what we can, or can’t bring with us.”

“Elven delegation?” Ruby looks at me curiously.

“They came for the ritual, I needed at least two Druids to lend in their aid. I’ve recently discovered that they are now my personal assistants. Seeing as I’m the next in line, and Father needed new apprentices, it was natural to give his two best students to my care. They will train me till I reach the position of Arch-Druid, then they will serve as my new council here.” I reply quietly.

“So, you’re like nobility now? Are the other elves as pretty as you?” Ruby gets curious.

I nod my head. “Druids are the ruling cast of our people. Think of them as a combination of lord and mayor. Though there is no real upper or lower classes, Druids are respected as being fair, honest, and they do not question our judgement - Even when it’s strict. As Wood Elves, my companions’ features are a bit more angular, and they look more muscular than I am. I’d hate to toot my horn, but I’m going to be more beautiful than they are, and they are stunningly attractive compared to a human.” I smile.

“Why would people not like your judgement?” Ruby frowns.

“Druids believe in balance. We are neutral in an almost flawed sense. There is no such thing as right or wrong, good or evil, there is only balance. A druid will do something that some might feel is mean or unjust, but it’s not, it maintains balance.” I reply. “Nature needs to serve a cycle of life and death, to maintain harmony.”

“Like your arranged marriage.” Kevin catches on. “It’s not right, specially seeing as you’re both so young, but you can be engaged for decades before you actually marry. The time was right to encourage the Elves and the Fae to work toward peace.”

“You understand Father’s goal better than my mother does. She was furious when she found out.” I say sadly. I put up my hand as I hear Susan coming down the hall.

“All ready? You need to leave soon or you’ll be late.” She reminds us of the time.

“All set.” I smile.

“So, Chris sent me a message, you want to come back next Saturday?” I nod. “I’m sure Kevin will appreciate it, we’ll see you next weekend.” She smiles. She comes close and I give her a hug without hesitation, keeping my head away from hers so I don’t have a repeat of Ruby. She holds me by the shoulders. “Have a safe trip, text Kevin when you get home, so that we don’t worry.” She says in a motherly tone. I smile and nod.

We head into the living room and get dressed. I have the scarf and hat from my gifts, so that appeases Susan that I’m not going out with too little to wear. I assure her that the track suit is thermal clothing, meant to be worn for cycling and jogging in winter. I can take temperatures up to 10 below without really needing an extra layer. I put my hands in my pocket to ease her worry of my not having gloves. Kevin and Ruby hook my arms and we head out together.

Being a chilly weekday, the park is empty today, despite school still being out. You can only sit around and watch kids in the cold for so long before watching a younger child becomes uncomfortable. It’s technically still lunchtime, so the older kids are probably still eating. We walk to the back of the park where we can’t be seen from the street.

“Okay, this is going to be a little freaky.” I warn them.

I tap my pendant, and Lairelindë finally emerges, causing Kevin to gasp and Ruby to jump. “So, you’re going to look like her when you get older?” Ruby says in admiration, noting the family resemblance.

“Yes, I’m effectively her daughter now, reconnecting with her bloodline, genetically she’s my mother.” I reply.

“That is too cool!” Kevin beams.

Nice to finally meet you two, after hearing all that you have done this week.” Lairelindë says in a motherly tone. “I’m still upset with all that my daughter has told you, so I hope you will honour her, and not betray her trust.

“Like anyone’s going to believe two teens that magic is real.” Kevin rolls his eyes.

I can feel that she cares for you two deeply, I hope her love is not misplaced.” Lairelindë says concerned.

“I’ve wanted to date her for over a year now. My love interest has turned into the most beautiful girl in the nation! I count myself lucky that she still wants me as well. She could have any guy she wants, and I’m her boyfriend. I am the happiest boy of the century.” Kevin hugs me close.

“In my case I think it’s Simia who had the crush first, but she is so warm, so soft, smells so good.. I couldn’t help myself but be drawn to her!” Ruby hugs my other side. “Like Kevin said, I’m falling in love with the hottest girl I’ll ever meet, I’d do anything to see her happy.”

Thank you both, for being so honest.” Lairelindë smiles. “Now, remember, you can’t go back to home for at least a half hour, else Kevin’s mother will become suspicious. You are now part of her ruse to keep you all safe.

My loves nod to her. I kiss Ruby, then kiss Kevin goodbye. I tell them I’ll be in game tonight, but not tomorrow after supper. I’ll be picking up Sala, we’re going to ring in the New Year, then leave for Arborea at dawn.

Lairelindë smiles, satisfied that all is settled, and turns to face the maple. “Vanta Taulë” She commands, and an archway opens in the tree.

My friends gasp and wow. “Who needs a car, when you can cross the nation between trees.” I grin. I wave to them as I step through the tree and find myself outside of my house, I relax as I drop the glamour spell.
You are really dislike the illusion?” Lairelindë remarks, “you remove it the moment you can.

“Like I told my loves, I can feel it on my face, like this constant film or cloth covering my skin. Sometimes it feels itchy and I just want to rip it off! Should I talk to Emmya about it?” I say as we walk to the house.

I think you are correct in that, with your body being so new, everything is hypersensitive. Give it time, you might get used to it, eventually. Otherwise you could talk to the school to see if it’s wise to walk around in your true form? Luna and Sala wear there’s all the time and don’t seemed as bothered about it as you are.” She says as we walk into the door.

I gasp. “Will I have zits and blemishes!?”

Lairelindë looks thoughtful, combing my memory about acne issues. “No, I’ve never known elves to have skin issues like human teenagers have, probably because of our longer puberty. The body has time to slowly adapt.

Luna has felt me come home and comes to the door to greet me. “Nettinya! Oh, I’ve missed you!” She pulls me into a loving hug.

I hold my sister tight, leaning my head against her shoulder. Kevin and Ruby are my height, so it didn’t feel awkward. Meanwhile, I remember when I could place my chin on Luna’s shoulder, holding her now having lost a head in height feels strange. Fortunately, she’s not teased me about it. We break our embrace and she leans down for a kiss as I look up at her.

“You’re Elven features are so beautiful.” She says in adoration. “I’m almost jealous that you’ll likely be more beautiful than me one day.”

“Nothing matches your beauty, nettinya.” I say lovingly.

“You’re such a romantic.” She rubs her nose with mine affectionately.

“I need to talk to Emmya, where is she?” I say in a serious tone.

“Upstairs, doing finances for the club.” Luna replies.

I text Kevin as I climb the stairs to let him know I’m home. He’s surprised that how fast I can travel so far. He and Ruby opted to walk down to the café and enjoy some hot chocolate before heading home. I tell him I love him and then take a deep breath. Time to tell Emmya how badly I messed this trip up.

“There’s my darling daughter.” Ashanna smiles lovingly as I step into her bedroom. “Your comments were brief, how did your trip really go?”

I sit on her bed as she turns in her chair. “Well, Ruby’s mom was not a problem, I was just her friend from online visiting for a few days.” I start. “Susan, Kevin’s mom was a lot harder - seeing as I’m now dating her son. I had to explain who I was without giving her any firm details. I had started with a lie, which she saw straight through. Then it got worse when it was obvious how Kevin and I have known each other for over two years.”

“What do you mean?” Ashanna frowns as she turns her chair to better face me.

“Kevin and I have known each other since we were toddlers. We’re like siblings. We’re close. We echo each other’s thoughts, often mirroring each other’s words, or finishing each other’s sentences. Well, after one time too many, Susan caught on that I’ve known Kevin for a long time.” I frown and take a breath. “So then I had to change my story. I told her I had left the city years ago, got through a full transition. Because of the resources our family has, I could start years before a standard transition, meaning that I started hormones early, and completed my operations last week.”

I look up at her. “Then I had to find a way not to disclose her any names, she couldn’t know that I had achieved looking so feminine in only three months, I had to tell her about hiding my past as my birth parents were still looking for me, despite the legal change in family and name. I hated lying to someone who I’ve felt closer to than my birth mother, but the truth would have made things worse.” I end sadly.

Ashanna gets up, sits beside me, and puts her arm around my shoulder, I lean against her. “It sounds like you’ve done well. Why do I still feel like something is bothering you? With what you’ve said, this should keep your trust firm, even if you and Kevin continue dating.”

“Is it okay for me to be dating Kevin, even though I am intended to Sala?” I say with worry.

Ashanna squeeze my arm. “While you care for your Fae friend, your relationship has always been that of political gain - for the Fae that is. Arranged marriage for diplomacy doesn’t mean that you cannot love another. Just take care where your feelings lie when you are with one or the other.”

“Old world court politics are confusing.” I frown.

“What of your friends, how did you explain to them how you became a girl in such a short time?” Ashanna queries.

“After Ruby hugged me too close and felt my Elven ear? In then end I told them as much of the truth as I dared tell a mundane.” Ashanna frowns, I can tell she’s not happy. “I had to Emmya, I love them, I can’t lie to Ruby, she can always tell if I’m not telling the truth. So, they’ve seen my true face, they know some of my abilities, and know that magic exists. I trust they won’t tell anyone else.” I reinforce what I did. “Besides, who will believe two 15-year-olds?”

“They are the only ones that know?” Ashanna enquires, I can feel she’s trying to hold back yelling at me.

“I would never tell an adult, that would be horribly dangerous.” I lean into her. “These are people I’ve known all my life, I don’t want to hide myself from those I love. It’s bad enough I had to lie to their parents, I couldn’t keep up the lie with my best friends.”

Ashanna relaxes, but I can feel she’s still upset. “I will trust your judgement in what you did, but know I am disappointed in you right now.”

“I know, that’s why I told you. I didn’t want to hide what I did. I’m sorry, emmya. I will be careful in the future. If there is a risk, Penny told me that there is an amnesia potion I can feed them. It’s crude and usually leaves a person feeling they’re missing something, but I would give them one if it comes to that.”

“I am glad that you have put some thought into this.” She smiles finally. “Go get settled and washed up, you smell like you’ve not had a shower since you left.”

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