Karen was practicing her swordwork when I found her behind the cabin. She didn’t notice me at first, and I decided not to disturb her for a moment. The ground behind the cabin had lost a lot of its grass as a few of us used it to practice, our footwork tearing the ground up. I liked the space back here. There was enough trees for privacy without blocking the sunlight or getting in the way.
The way Karen moved was beautiful. She had this flowing way of moving that I absolutely adored, in part because it was graceful and in part because I could see her slender muscles working under her skin. The loose shirt and shorts helped quite a lot in keeping my attention as well. The flashes of pale stomach I caught through the loose buttons of her shirt caused me to grow warm in some interesting places.
Being turned on as a girl was an interesting experience, and one that was proving harder and harder to fight. It wasn’t like when you were turned on as a guy, with your thing urging you forward like some sort of eager puppy on a leash. As a girl it was more of a heady warmth that grew up out of my stomach and into the rest of my body, a warm wind that wanted to envelop me and urgently pull me to the gorgeous girl in front of me.
She turned into a flowing sword stroke that had her facing me, and she must have noticed me then because her eyes lifted off the ground and met mine. I knew my gaze betrayed my almost desperate wanting because her lips curved up in a slow knowing smile. She carefully laid her huge sword on the ground, then stretched up for a moment like a cat that had been napping.
Advancing on me slowly, languidly, she held that knowing smile and I couldn’t help but break the silence because the tension was killing me, “So um… hi! You looked good just then.”
“I know. I could tell by that look in your eyes,” she said, poking her tongue out.
“Shut uuup. I’m gay, and you’re my girlfriend and you’re pretty,” I said, poking my tongue out.
She reached me in a few more steps, took my chin in her hand and leaned down to kiss me, pulling me up on my tiptoes in the process. It was a slow loving kiss that seemed to speak volumes about how our feelings for one another had grown without using any words at all. I enjoyed the way we were beginning to do away with words entirely. It was calming to know based on all the little parts of her body language what she wanted. I could feel my mind writing everything about her down like it was the plans to the death star.
When we parted, she was smiling that type of smile that you know is only for you and brushing my nose with hers ever so lightly, then asked, “So… what’s up?”
“Ummmm,” I said slowly, stalling for time while I wrangled my thoughts back into order, “I spoke to Nia again…”
Karen stiffened and stepped back from me, searching my face for clues. She seemed to have about a dozen different emotions battling for control of her expression.
“She said she wants to meet you!” I said hastily, “She wants to rescue you from your parents too.”
Desperate hope was the emotion that won out across her beautiful face as her brain caught up with what I had said. I watched her swallow hard and take another step back, running a hand through her hair while she struggled with her emotions.
“You really love your sister don’t you?” I asked gently following her gradual retreat with a tentative advance of my own.
She nodded a little and stopped moving away, instead looking down at her feet and scuffing one against the ground. It was tugging on my heartstrings seeing my generally charming and confident girlfriend looking so small and vulnerable. I wanted to protect her the way she so often protected me.
“Come inside Karen. To our room. Let’s talk there where I can put you on the bed and cuddle you,” I said taking her hand in mine and tugging gently.
“Okay,” she whispered, allowing me to take the lead.
We left her gear on the ground and went back around to the front door, ignoring any of the others who gave us questioning looks. I got her into our room and gently set her down on the bed. Kicking my boots off I sat on the bed next to her, tucking my feet under myself.
“Karen…” I said, faltering immediately, unable to figure out what to say.
“I just… we were so close you know? Back then? The rest of our family were assholes, but we got through it together. When she started transitioning, I was so excited. I could teach my older sister how to do girly things! I mean I was so young then… so it was all dress up to me. I didn’t care one way or another. Our parents were just total assholes during the whole thing, and she had to move out just to get away from them,” she said in an earnest rush, putting an arm around my waist and leaning her head on my shoulder.
I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her even closer until her head was nestled against my neck.
“So it’s okay if the plan is to have you move in with Nia later?” I asked soothingly.
“I need to see her first… what if she isn’t Nia anymore?” Karen wondered apprehensively.
“I don’t know… I guess you’ll just have to talk to her… she seems… well I don’t know. I didn’t know her back then. You’ve probably changed too Karen. For one thing you know you’re a lesbian now,” I said, gently rubbing a finger over her shoulder.
“I guess,” she sighed, cuddling closer, “Thank you Syl. Thank you. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I know that I’m always the one protecting you and stuff, but it’s really nice when you step up like this and comfort me… I’m not as strong as you think.”
“You can be as strong or as weak as you want Karen and I’ll still… love you,” I said, faltering for a moment as I got to the big word. Screw it though, I did love her. I loved her a lot. I wanted to stay with her for as long as I possibly could.
Karen bit her lip trying to fight a flush spreading across her face, but it was a lost cause. She was almost bashful when she asked, “You love me?”
“Yeah… I um. The word just kinda popped out of my mouth but it feels right so I guess it’s staying?” I said, feeling my own flush brighten my cheeks.
A huge adorable grin spread across her face and I think my heart melted all over again right there. She lifted herself up until we were nose to nose and whispered, “I love you too.”
Then we were kissing each other hungrily and my hands were pinned gently above my head. Her lips were sweet and her hands were wandering and I loved every moment of her attentions. We’d sort out meeting Nia after we made out on the bed.
“What took you so long? I thought you said it would be like ten minutes at most?” Nia asked, then added to herself, “I need to figure out how that time dilation thing works too. We’re in the same reality so we should be running on the same time.”
“Uuuuuuh,” I blushed, looking down at my toes.
“What?” Nia asked, tilting her head to the side, her ears flopping over a moment later.
“Nothing. We got distracted…” I mumbled.
“You got… wow. Okay… that’s my kid sister you’re… whatever. Wow,” she frowned, her tail swishing from side to side angrily.
I frowned right back and told her, “Why are you getting upset about this? I’m even younger than her! For the record, she’s the one who kissed me first this time, and pushed down onto the bed and held me there while-”
“Ahhh too much information!” Nia exclaimed, waving her hands around like a drunken conductor.
I stood there smirking smugly at her until she rolled her eyes and changed the subject, “So what did she say?”
“She said she’d meet you. Tonight works pretty well actually, because her parents have something early and are going to sleep earlier than normal. She can sneak out once they are asleep and meet us,” I told her.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” Nia squeaked, doing a tiny dragon jig on my desk.
“Wanna go after dinner? I… oh it really is late huh?” I asked, seeing the time was almost midnight on my phone.
“Yes. Your parents fed me while you were… getting intimate with my sister,” she grumbled.
“Wow we were only making out, but okay well I’ll grab some fruit or something and then lets go,” I said.
I was surprised she’d just gone to hang with my parents, but whatever. She was cool so it’s fine. I couldn’t wait to see Nia and Karen reunited. I hoped I was doing the right thing, I hoped it would make them both happy. I cared about Karen so much and to see her finally next to her sister once again would be amazing.
Nia hopped up onto my shoulder and we left my room, only to run into my dad as he was heading up the stairs. He stopped and looked down at me with a frown.
“Where are you going young lady?” he asked tiredly.
“Um, out to the park to see my girlfriend with Nia… Karen is sneaking out to meet us,” I told him truthfully. It was weird telling the truth to my parents.
“You’ll keep her safe?” he asked Nia, who saluted and nodded from my shoulder.
He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose while he thought, then finally shrugged in defeat, “Alright. I’m giving my approval mostly because there isn’t much I can do to stop you even if I were to say no. Please be careful, and if someone… tries anything, I don’t want them to exist as anything more than a loose collection of dust on the ground. Understand?”
“You’re telling us to kill any pedo rapists? Understood. I’ve got experience with that,” little Nia said, cracking her tiny knuckles.
“That was a metaphor,” my dad said quickly, “I’m not going to condone killing people but just… please be careful, that’s all I’m asking.”
“Oh…” Nia said, looking a little put out.
“Dad you’re a nerd. I know the book you just quoted and you’re a nerd!” I giggled.
“You’re a nerd too sweetie, now get going. Don’t make Karen wait,” he said, making a shooing motion.
I poked my tongue out at him, then turned and marched out the door. I almost turned back when I realised I was still wearing my school uniform, but Nia would probably claw a hole in my shoulder if I kept her waiting any longer. She was a scary tiny cute dragon lady. Her being this size was very confusing to my sense of what is a threat and what isn’t.
It was cold outside, but it was the type of cold that is actually kinda pleasant, and there was the faint feeling of moisture in the air like it was going to rain in a few hours. I started to think about calling it off because of the rain when I realised that Nia probably had a spell for that. Maybe not like turning off the weather, but an energy umbrella would be super cool. Would she give me weird looks if I asked about that now?
The walk to the park got more and more tense for both myself and Nia. This was the first time in a long time that I would get to see Karen in the real world and the first time Nia would see her in ten years. Nia leapt off my shoulder more than once to just leap from fence to fence like a hyperactive kitten.
The park looked oppressive and dark tonight, and I was sure it was empty until I saw movement in the playground attached to the sports fields. Karen emerged from behind the slide, and kind of stood there apprehensively while we approached. She’d changed out of her school uniform and was now wearing a pair of sweatpants and a big hoodie.
I was used to her appearance within the game now, but here on Earth she was shorter, younger and less perfected. I meant that in an endearing way, like the girl in the game was a photo she would put on social media, while the girl that stood before me was the whole girl. I found myself smiling despite the sad and tense mood. She was so damn cute. I really did love her. Nia hopped off my shoulder then and started walking behind me on her own little dragon legs.
As we approached she looked more and more scared and I tried to ease her tension with a smile laden with as much love as I could muster, “Hey Karen… long time no see.”
Karen gave me a wobbly half smile in return and asked hesitantly, “Yeah… It’s nice to see Earth Syl… um sorry where is um… where is Nia? I don’t see her?”
I didn’t answer, instead walking up and wrapping my arms around my girlfriend. She was a lot shorter on Earth, so I was actually within range of kissing her without going on tiptoes to do it. I didn’t kiss her however, just squeezed her tightly and moved to a side hug where I could present Nia.
Nia stood there awkwardly as a tiny fox dragon thing made of feathers and the void of space. It was odd how she acted different in that little form as opposed to the competent scary knight woman I’d first seen her as at that battle. Karen noticed her in a few seconds, and focused down on the little creature before her.
“Hi Karen…” Nia said softly.
“That… you’re…?” Karen asked falteringly, looking to the side at me for confirmation.
“That’s Nia. She’s a shapeshifting dragon now…” I explained.
“Yeah um… it’s a fucking long story,” Nia said with a nervous laugh, “I can turn into a human if you’d like. It’s just easier to get around like this.”
“Do you still… look like your old self?” Karen asked cautiously.
“There’s similarities, but for the most part not really. Should I just… I’ll just change,” she said.
Nia glowed like the void between stars for a moment, then her amorphous form expanded until it took the shape of the woman. The void faded to reveal the woman, but she did not wear the armour and coat of her station within the Knights of the Orchid. She wore simple jeans, black leather boots, a plaid shirt and a leather jacket. She would have looked like a normal woman if it wasn’t for her strange starscape eyes and hair.
Karen took a half step out of my arms in wonder, her eyes roaming up and down the woman who had appeared before us. Nia didn’t look her age of twenty nine, evidently whatever she had become aged differently, but she still looked older than us high schoolers.
“You’re really Nia in there? My big sister?” Karen asked in a barely audible whisper.
“Yeah it’s me,” Nia said with a sad little smile.
“I guess you don’t have the um, broken bone problem anymore,” Karen said, laughing nervously.
“Yeah. I don’t have to worry about my kid sister throwing me to the ground and breaking my arm anymore,” Nia smiled.
“Oh my gosh! It was one time!” Karen giggled, “It wasn’t my fault! The wind was really strong and you were the nearest thing to grab onto!”
Nia grinned then and exclaimed, “You remember!”
“Of course I remember! You were like… like the only good part of having a family! I made sure I remembered!” Karen said with a bittersweet returning grin.
They stared at each other for a long moment after that, just taking each other in. I was happy to back off to the side a little and let them work this out. It was like watching two puppies that really wanted to play together but were still scared of each other. It was Karen who broke first, rushing forward and throwing herself into Nia’s arms face first. Nia caught her effortlessly, lifting her off the ground and into a fierce embrace. They were both crying moments later, ugly chest wracking sobs coming from my girlfriend, and I found my chest constricting in sympathy almost immediately.
They clung to each other and cried, and I stood off to the side and cried for them too. I wished things had been different for them. I wished that Karen hadn’t grown up in fear of her parents and had had her older sister to defend her. It honestly sucked. Bigoted parents sucked.
“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” Nia whimpered when she got her voice back, while Karen continued to paw at the front of Nia’s shirt and cry huge tears.
“Nia, Nia, Nia,” Karen replied, leaning back and grinning wide up at her older sister.
“That’s me,” Nia laughed through her tears, “New and improved physically, a bit more broken mentally, but that’s me.”
“I got good at soccer,” Karen giggled, “Oh and I’m gay now. For the elf girl over there,” she said, pointing at me.
They both looked at me, and realised I had been crying too. I’d tried to stay silent, this was their moment, not mine, but how could I not cry when my girlfriend was crying?
“Oh no! Syl come here!” Karen said with concern, ushering me over.
I wobbled my way over to them and was pulled into their embrace with a lurch. We all stood there in the cold of the park while we cuddled and talked. Nia and Karen had a lot of catching up to do and they began straight away, talking excitedly to each other. Someone suggested we go and sit on one of the wooden playground platforms, and we did so, forming a little pile of cuddles.
At some point, maybe an hour later, it started to rain like I’d thought it would. Also as I’d thought Nia had a trick up her sleeve for that. She glared up at the misbehaving sky and wove a spell into the air that turned the rain away from us and warmed the air up a little, then went right back to catching up with her long lost sister.