“I never imagined a place like this in the sky…” I said. “It’s…”
“Weird,” said Griffin. He wasn’t wrong.
It was like a castle in the sky…a very small castle, but something that didn’t belong on the earth.
My biological mother and father were somewhere inside. If Fox and Griffin weren’t holding me, I would’ve plummeted to the ground…
The cousins deposited me on a lower floor of the little castle, a brightly colored place filled with children’s toys.
“They’re upstairs,” Griffin said. “Both of them. Seeing you will make them really happy.”
“I’m not ready,” I said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be ready…”
Fox smiled reassuringly at me. “We’ll be down here if you need us, Lani,” he said, “but you’re a lot stronger than you think. Right, Griff?”
“I guess. For a human weakling.”
“They’ll think it’s strange, won’t they? That I just came here for no reason…? I don’t want to bother them…”
“I dunno how many times I have to tell you, since humans are so dumb,” Griffin said, “but I can see the future, remember?”
“You think normal humans have parents who live in a palace among the clouds?” Fox asked.
That was something else to think about. Mr. Space Bun came from the moon and had bunny ears and a tail, and the Lady of the Sky…well, she wasn’t human either. So that meant…
“Go,” Griffin said, “or we’ll leave without you.”
“Um. I’m going…”
It helped, knowing Fox and Griffin were behind me, cheering me on as I went to meet my parents. My biological parents. I couldn’t have done this without the two fae boys.
The sky-castle was a riot of pastels, filled with oddities that made no sense to a human and more toys than any one child could need…but it was also peaceful in its own way, too. It didn’t take me long to find Mr. Space Bun…and a strange woman.
“I am sorry, moon of my sky,” said Mr. Space Bun. “I could not bring her.”
“She will come,” said the woman. “I know it in my heart of hearts.” Did she look like me…? She was like an ethereal creature out of a storybook, not someone plain like me.
I was too scared to make my presence known… What are you frightened of, Lani? I could almost hear Dr. Puck’s voice echoing in my mind.
“…Do my eyes deceive me, Rahliec?” He had a name other than Mr. Space Bun?
He looked to her with concern. “What troubles you, my love?”
She’d seen me.
“Um. Hi… I didn’t mean to disturb you…”
She glided toward me, until only a thin sliver of sky and white railings separated us. “Can it be?” she asked, her voice thick with emotion. “Has my daughter returned to me at last?”
“I…” I didn’t know how to answer. I already had two fathers. I didn’t need anyone else. But… I felt something when I looked at her, when I heard her voice. I didn’t want to, but I did.
She watched me as I walked toward Mr. Space Bun, matching my steps. And then I closed my eyes and held my arms open. Almost immediately, I was enveloped in familiar arms.
“Lovely girl,” said Mr. Space Bun, “I am so glad you have come to visit.”
Hugging my mother was like falling into a cloud, one that was made just for me. I felt like I was betraying Dad and Father…but then I heard her sobs. I wanted to make her happy then. I wanted to see her smile, because I could almost picture it in my mind, like a dream I’d forgotten…
“How beautiful you have grown, my little rabbit,” she murmured. “Your father did not exaggerate.”
“May I embrace you as well, lovely girl?” Mr. Space Bun asked. “I have waited a great many years…”
Part of me was angry that I hadn’t recognized him. Another part of me was ashamed. When I’d first met him on the set of my parents’ butler competition, I’d thought he was flirting with me. I could never tell anyone.
But I could hug him. Even if he hadn’t raised me, even if he hadn’t seen me in more years than I could count, I knew he loved me.
And so did the Lady of the Sky. “The cracks in my heart grew with each year you did not return to us,” she said, “but at last they will begin to mend.”
Mr. Space Bun (how long could I keep calling him that?) asked me to sit at the table, untouched game pieces stacked high on its surface, and he and the Lady of the Sky sat on either side of me. Both of them looked elated.
“Why are there so many toys here?” I asked. “Do I have a sibling?” Excitement flared up deep inside my heart. I’d always wanted a sibling, and wondered if I might’ve gotten another if I hadn’t been so…me.
The Lady of the Sky looked at me as if I’d asked something very strange. “They are all yours, little rabbit. I asked your father to bring back more for you each time he visited the earth, so that you would lack nothing when you returned.”
My heart dropped. Just as I’d once been the little girl in the orphanage, waiting to be brought home by a family who loved me, she’d been waiting for me…
“Let us play a game,” Mr. Space Bun said suddenly, as if he could sense my mood. “We have missed out on far too much time in your company, and we have many games you might enjoy.”
“…I’d like that,” I said, because I would. These were children’s games. Simple games. Right now, I needed something simple.
I lost track of time. But within the span of those dreamlike hours, I felt like a little girl again. Like part of my childhood–the missing part–had returned to me.
All the confusing questions, all the buried pain that was beginning to surface, all the complexities of our future relationship…that could be sorted out later.
But for now, I was happy, and I was free.