[Story] A Visit Home

Though Hethurin had made a portal for both of them to Silvermoon, the walk to his old house seemed like a very long way. They passed a toy shop with little soft dolls in the window, and Terellion stopped to buy one for each of his sisters. In truth, they were probably a little old for dolls like that, but he thought they’d still like them anyway. One was a phoenix, with real feathers stuck to its head and tail, the other a lynx like those that prowled the woods. He carried them under his arm along with the other packages, since there wasn’t time to wrap them now. They’d discussed at length whether it would be better for Hethurin to come inside, or to wait, and Terellion still wasn’t sure what was best. At the last moment he suggested that Hethurin wait right outside, where he could still see in through the front window should something go really wrong. Not that he truly believed it would, but it would make him feel better knowing that Hethurin was there watching. He made sure that all of the packages, and the now slightly-rumpled envelope were in order, and knocked on the door of his mother’s house.

They had already decorated for the holiday, though not quite as elaborately. The girls had made paper chains and hung them from the banister, and candles flickered above the hearth. It lent the house a cozy, hand-made feel that made Terellion feel suddenly guilty for having left them all behind. His sisters came running in from the kitchen, their fingers still colored from the frosting they’d been using to decorate the cookies. They wasted no time tearing open their gifts, and ran into their room to try on their new dresses. His mother cooed over the bracelet and insisted it must have cost too much. She seemed puzzled when she opened the envelope.

“A ball? At the school?”

Terellion had rehearsed the conversation over in his head many times, but he still still nervous. He hoped his mother wouldn’t notice the glass shaking too much. “Yes, the Magister wanted me to invite you.”

“I haven’t anything to wear,” his mother protested. “How fancy is it?”

“You can wear the blue one. It isn’t that fancy of a party. It’s just the students and their families, mostly.” She spared him a curious glance at that. “And me. And you and the girls.”

Maybe she knew what he was going to say. He’d suspected that she might know more than she let on, sometimes. “Isn’t it a bit strange to invite employees’ families?”

“A little,” Terellion admitted. He glanced outside, where he could just see the shimmering silhouette where Hethurin maintained his invisibility spell. He’d left himself just a little visible, enough that Terellion knew he was still there. “We’re together. That’s why he came here to find me that one day. When I was sick.” He thought that if he said the words quickly, it might be easier.

His mother didn’t frown or shout, though one of her brows did go up. “The boy who came here to the house? The mage?”

“Yes. You aren’t angry, are you?” She didn’t look angry, but maybe it was still coming, the calm before the storm.

“Oh, Terellion, why would I be angry? He seems like a very nice young man. I suspected as much–”

He blinked at her. “You did? Why didn’t you say anything?”

His mother smiled slightly. “I thought you’d let me know when you were ready to. I do wish you’d told me when he visited, I’d have invited him to stay for supper.”

“Oh,” Terellion said, his ears darkening. Had she really known all of this time? He thought he’d been very subtle about everything. Hethurin said his father had known too, or at least had some idea. “So you’ll come to the ball?”

“Of course,” his mother said, and then glanced toward the window where Terellion was looking. “Is he outside? You didn’t even ask him in? I should pull your ears for bad manners.”

Terellion hurried to go bring Hethurin inside.

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