Chapter 16 – Confession

I dropped the spoon I was stirring my tea with, splashing some onto the table.

I wanted to find a towel or rag to wipe up the spill, and couldn’t see anything. Maybe Tiana never had to do such a thing in this house. There was always a maid standing by, after all. What should I do…?

“Relax, dear,” Mother said, and whispered something while holding her hand out, palm down and fingers spread. The splashes were wiped away by an invisible force and vanished.

My heart was hammering, and I didn’t dare raise my eyes from the teacup. I just stared at it, thinking about how this woman sitting across from me was hideously strong, strong enough to terrify a kingdom into negotiating with her, and she had just figured out I was impersonating her daughter.

Or, considering the odd looks I had been getting from her, she probably had known from the moment she saw me.

She revised that theory for me with her next words.

“I thought something seemed off, the moment you walked into the salon. But I wasn’t sure, because you seem so much like her. But the way you were pushing back about Rod convinced me. Tiana may have disliked the idea of marrying him, but knowing the king was involved, she would have simply set her jaw and agreed, as his loyal knight. So, I tested my theory just now.”

I licked my lips, and made myself calm down so I could think. The horrible irony was, it was Tiana’s resolve that allowed me to do it.

“I’m sorry, Mother. I don’t know how to explain this…”

“Why do you call me ‘Mother’, when you aren’t my daughter?” she asked. Her voice was still very calm, not a hint of anger, nor any other emotion.

For some reason, tears began rolling down my cheeks.

“Why are you crying?”

Why did it hurt that she didn’t want me to call her ‘Mother’? I struggled to understand that. I have my own mother, back on Earth.

But, with so much of Tiana being part of me now, I was able to recognize the reason.

I sucked in a breath and made myself look up and into her eyes. “Because it would hurt to call you ‘Lady Pendor’. Even if I’m not your daughter, I still have the feelings of being your daughter.”

She tipped her head, her eyebrows raising slightly. I decided to continue.

“Your Tiana died battling that dragon, Mother. She was killed in that fight. But this is still her body, and has all her memories and feelings in it. This body is still the one you gave birth to.”

Mother settled back into her chair, crossing her arms and frowning. I realized that, for the first time in Tiana’s memory or my own, tears were glistening in her eyes.

Of course they were.

I had just told her that her daughter was dead. Until I said it, Tiana could have just been missing, or captive somewhere.

She never actually cried in front of me, which was as expected. The Mother that Tiana knew would certainly hold back such tears and weep later in private.

After being silent for several seconds, she blinked the moisture away and noted, “That’s a very strange thing to say. Tiana died, but her body didn’t die?”

“It’s not quite…” I stopped, let out a breath through my lips, cleared my throat, then shook my head. “Tiana died. Her body died. Her soul moved on. And I died as well, on a different world than this.”

Her eyebrow shot up. “A different world? Not Huade but some other world completely?”

I nodded. “The world I was born in is a very different place from here. I don’t even know how to begin describing it to you.”

I can just imagine it. Lesson one, the Internet, cellphones and social media…

“I died there, and just like Tiana, I left a mother behind.”

She was silent. I took that as meaning she was willing to keep listening.

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“This is where it gets hard to explain. Tiana died battling a dragon. I died saving a group of schoolchildren. For some reason, her soul had to move on, but this world still needed a hero in her place, so, her body was revived, and my soul was put into it.”

Mother pursed her lips and thought. “You say that as if someone else did this.”

“Someone else did this,” I nodded. “I wasn’t given any choice. She didn’t ask permission. I suppose I’m lucky she took time to explain it to me.”

“She?”

“The being who put me in Tiana’s body. I guess she was an angel?”

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“A what?”

“A… minor deity. She said she was in charge of heroes.”

Mother thought again, for a time. Finally she said, “I can sense that you are half fairy. Such a thing is already quite rare. And you have shown all the signs I associate with Tiana’s vampire half. If you are indeed half vampire, then I will have to believe that your body is Tiana. Being half fairy and half vampire is surely unique in the world. There can’t be two such persons.”

I stayed quiet. Frankly, I didn’t know what to say next.

She noted, “You said you still have the feelings of being my daughter. Are you claiming those feelings came with her body?”

I nodded. “Her feelings, her memories, even a lot of her personality. They seem to have become blended into mine. It’s hard to explain, but I’m not acting when I act like her. It really has become my nature too. So when you suggested I shouldn’t call you Mother, I felt exactly as Tiana would have felt, if you had ever told her that.”

She picked her teacup and saucer back up again. Then she noted, “Since you went to the trouble of putting in your milk and sugar, you ought to drink your tea.”

Nodding, I took the spoon out of the cup, laid it on the tray, and picked up cup and saucer. An experimental sip later, I smiled. “Delicious.”

Seriously, it really was delicious. I had never said that about a cup of tea before.

“Terese is brilliant, isn’t she? Almost as skilled as Carson.”

I nodded again.

“It’s as expected, I imagine. Benedetta trains all the maids in tea-making. She and Carson are near-equals.”

“I didn’t know that.” The sudden turn into casual chatter was beginning to feel bizarre.

“Finish your tea and then return to your suite, dear. I’ll have to think carefully about this.”

“Yes, Mother,” I replied… then blushed slightly, “I mean…”

“It’s fine,” she chopped me off before I could say ‘My Lady’. “For now, you ought not change your behavior. We wouldn’t want to confuse the staff.”

“Yes, Mother”

I reached my suite once again, utterly worn out. I craved the bed, but my personal lady’s maid Genette, a wolf-kin woman, insisted I had to be cleaned first. The flock descended on me, stripping me yet again. I was bathed once more and my make-up all removed, then I was put into ‘pajamas’ that were, frankly, way too erotic for a fifteen year old. The full length black lace gown was slit on the right all the way up to the sash belt, with a neckline that plunged all the way to the solar plexus. The matching string panties were thankfully opaque, but… tiny by this society’s standards.

I stared with fatigue– I was too tired to be astonished– at my nipples, quite visible through the lace, and asked, “Genette?”

Her upright ears twitched as she combed my hair. “Yes, Young Mistress?”

“Who purchases the clothes for me?”

“Anyone on the staff might go to the merchant to pick them up and pay for them, but the Mistress decides and approves every purchase.”

“Has she seen this outfit?”

“She ordered it for you, after being pleased with how her own had turned out. She has the identical gown in blue, Young Mistress,” she answered as she turned me around so she could comb the other side.

Uncle Owen, you are one happy fappy sunuvab**ch, aren’t you?

I sighed and shook my head. “I would like to go to bed now.”

“Yes, Mistress. The masseuse is already standing by.”

Wadawadawadawada WHAAAAT?!

Tiana’s memory confirmed it. She gets massages every bedtime at Mother’s house.

“No wonder I prefer the barracks,” I muttered under my breath as two members of the maid brigade led me into my bed chamber. Where they promptly began removing the gown.

I huffed. “What was the point of putting it on me?”

“Young Mistress often enjoys reading a book before bed,” one of my attendants explained.

Nude yet again, and laid on the bed on my stomach, I surrendered myself to the masseuse. I was too tired to care.

- my thoughts:
Heh. Mom's wardrobe choices...
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