Mum’s raised voice was the first thing I heard as consciousness slowly returned to me. I didn’t think I’d ever heard her so furious in my life. “Two days! Two days we’ve had her back, and you just had to risk it all for what? To help her realize things sooner? We had it under control, she was going to have everything figured out without us having to resort to brute forcing things! Now we’ve lost her again, and for how long this time? Another week? A month? How many more times do I have to see my baby in a coma, Veronica?” She was tearing into a dead silent Veronica like I’d never seen before. Was what they did really so bad?
I had to calm her down. I felt drained of all energy, but I was able to use what little I had to push myself up and opened my eyes to the exact scene I’d expected.
Mom stood silently at my open doorway, seething hatred obvious in her eyes as she stared down Magic. Magic stood by my now open bedroom window, and was probably halfway out of it before my parents arrived. I wondered why she hadn’t teleported and why the sun was up, but those could wait for later. Mum had gone full drill sergeant and was red in the face from what I imagined was far more yelling than I had heard. Veronica stood protectively between Magic and my parents, which was confusing because she’s supposed to be basically a Goddess.
The pattern of not having time to really think about these things continued as all four sets of eyes turned to me. I tried offering them all a half smile as I saw relief and joy spread across their faces, though I think my smile ended up looking more like an exhausted grimace. “Hey.” I let out, my voice nearly as hoarse as it had been when I first woke up.
Whatever tension filled the room evaporated as my family pulled me into another set of hugs. How long was I gone this time? I tried asking, but I couldn’t even get out the first word before entering a coughing fit. Magic could still apparently use… Magic? Herself? Whatever. Not important. She conjured a bottle of water from somewhere and tossed it my way. Throwing a water bottle at a teenager with barely the energy to move ended about as well as you’d think, but at least she had the good grace to look bashful as my Mom stared into her soul.
Veronica picked the bottle off the ground and handed it to me after taking the cap off. I was barely able to lift it to my lips, but felt so much less sore in my throat once I was able to drink. Everyone seemed to wait in tense silence for me to give some sort of sign that I was ready to talk.
Once I stopped drinking Mom finally broke the silence, that hard glare of hers vanishing as she turned to me. “Hey sweetie, how are you feeling?” Have I ever mentioned how much I love it when she calls me sweetie? It makes me feel so valid and real.
“I’m… fine, I think. How long was I out?” I wanted to make a joke, but even with the water every word felt like murder on my throat.
“Only about half a day, this time. Do you know why you were unconscious? Or who this woman is?” I saw her glance at Magic as she asked the question, suspicion obvious in her voice.
I nodded, hoping that would do enough to explain both accounts. Instead my mom raised an eyebrow as if waiting for more. I steered myself before speaking, the strain on my voice only getting stronger. “Uh. Trials. She’s… Mageara. Good at spells.” I didn’t want to hide the truth, but it was obvious neither of my mothers trusted her.
Before I knew it my mom’s eyes flashed with fury. She rushed Magic so quickly that Veronica couldn’t intercept her, and within seconds one of the most powerful beings in the universe was being intimidated by an Alban woman a head shorter than her. “You put my daughter through the trials without supervision?!? Who do you think you are? Where the fuck are your credentials? Why shouldn’t my wife and I have you thrown in prison for this and breaking and entering?”
I cringed in my bed as my mom, the quietest and sweetest woman I knew, tore Magic a new one. Magic seemed a bit put off, too, if her shaky voice was any indicator. “I, um, alright, first, had supervision. Veronica has expert level experience and is a graduate of an accredited magical institution. I’m Mageara, one of Queen Vexir’s bastards. I’m a master at transmutation and an expert at mind healing. My credentials are extensive and in my briefcase, which is at my home. In Saxonia. Ma’am. I can, uh, get them for you? Well, later. Trials mess with my teleporting.” Okay Magic was terrible under pressure. It would be almost endearing if the situation wasn’t so dire for her.
“You’ll be providing us with those credentials tomorrow. Next, why give her a trial before her coming of age, and did she pass?” Mum stepped in, her tone far more icy than Mom’s. I couldn’t tell which of them was more intimidating to Magic, but it was obvious she wanted to be anywhere else in the universe. Also, why was the question of my passing so relevant? Did it matter that much?
“Yes ma’am. And she did pass, ma’am. As for why, well… She was being left to figure herself out without help, and I had a way to help. Apologies for stepping on your parental toes, but she couldn’t be left to get more and more depressed as she got closer to her imaginary week deadline. She needed help.” As Magic began explaining herself she seemed to grow significantly more confident, while my mothers seemed to waver from their positions. Did they feel guilty about this? I never told them about my deadline, so why?
Veronica spoke up next, answering my question immediately. “I told you what Sam told me because I wanted you to talk to her. I wasn’t even confident she could last the week, and I worried she thought my real feelings might be different from what I expressed to her. When you didn’t talk to her immediately I decided to take action instead of letting my sister wallow in her own depression and anxiety spiral.” I wanted to feel betrayed by Veronica sharing my worries with potentially the entire family. She went behind my back, and that hurt. Of course without her I was definitely collapsing into an anxiety ridden puddle at the thought of going back.
Whatever confidence my parents had faded completely. They almost visibly deflated as Veronica and Magic held their ground with regards to me. “We’ll talk more about this later, preferably when Samantha hasn’t just woken up. Speaking of, Sam, let us know if you need anything. Veronica, Mageara, can I trust you two to be alone with Samantha without pulling some more nonsense?” Mum was obviously still upset, but it seemed she was going to relent for the moment.
They left as soon as Veronica confirmed that no more ‘nonsense’ would be happening behind their backs. I put my head back on my pillow to rest more, but I had a feeling my sister and her obvious girlfriend - oh! Right! “So…” I began before coughing, my voice definitely needed more time to rest, but I was curious. Veronica only had boyfriends before Magic, though she said she had taken a break from boys after some accident a few years ago involving two ducks and a eucalyptus tree.
“You two… Together?” I managed to let out, barely. I was afraid I’d have to repeat myself when Veronica gave me a confused look, but Magic laughed behind her as soon as she understood what I asked. It seemed the awkward woman incapable of comforting people or talking to scary adults was gone, replaced again by the confident Goddess she seemed to normally be.
“Right, shit, you’re too quick. Shouldn’t have said anything about it during the trials, gave you too big a hint.” Magic was smiling as the realization hit Veronica, and the two locked eyes. I gagged and looked away as Magic pulled my sister in for a kiss - gross! That’s my sister! I looked back to see Veronica slowly turning more red while Magic looked pleased with herself. “So yeah. We’re dating. Have been for a bit. It’s been two years now, I think?”
“Y-Yeah. Two years. At the Equinox Festival.” Veronica’s blush only seemed to get worse with each passing second, like she was remembering something particularly embarrassing.
Magic had a devious smile on her face, and I quickly acted to save my poor sister from whatever evil plan she had in store by asking the first question that came to mind. “You’re magic, right?” Goddess, speaking was agony. I needed to get more rest than this.
“All of it. Me and every me that came before me and every me that will come after.” Her answer was nearly as confusing as half the other things she’s said in her life, though I wasn’t quite surprised. She’d said enough confusing things in the short time I knew her.
I didn’t have the strength or desire to deal with more pain that came from saying anything else, so I nodded my head without further response. Silence reigned over the room for long enough that I decided to close my eyes, just for a quick nap. Hopefully some rest would do me good.