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Introducing Your Parents to the Spoils of Adventure

You arrive already tugging at the collar of your polo shirt. You've grown comfortable in plate armor, in doublet and hose, and your old belted trousers now feel awkward and ugly.
Your mother welcomes you at the door, offers drinks. She takes in Cordelia's gold and pink gown in a single glance and keeps her face polite.
Cordelia, your lady fair, says she'll take a glass of wine. She has never heard of gin and tonic, but she says out loud that it looks like a man's drink and your mother visibly stiffens.
Dad's already in the living room. He hands you paper napkins, cork-backed coasters. You sit on the sinking sofa, with your lady beside you, and talk about the weather.
Mom brings in a tray of crostini topped with ricotta and pesto, and slides it onto the coffee table before settling herself on the narrowest, most uncomfortable chair in the room. "So, Cordelia. Kevin tells us he rescued you from an ogre."
"Yes, he is a true hero." She recounts the battle you waged below her tower window--the sounds of clanging weapons, the flash of blood in sunlight.
"Well done, Kev," says Dad, slapping your knee. "You know, I think this is your first big career triumph." He raises his scotch glass. "To many more."
Cordelia sips wine, leaning against you comfortably. "I knew my true love would rescue me."
Mom starts coughing. "Sorry!" She waves an apologetic hand, lowering her drink to the table. "Went down the wrong tube."
"Don't be like that," you say.
"Like what? I'm not 'being like' anything."
"Cordelia and I are getting married," you say, and suddenly everyone is frowning at you.
"I thought that went without saying," says your true love.
"Not quite." You help yourself to some crostini and try not to look at anyone.
Cordelia entwines her arm with yours. "Kevin and I are very traditional," she explains.
Dinner seems to last a very long time.
You wish you were quaffing ale and eating meat off the bone, instead of pushing pasta around your plate and praying your mom doesn't ask your girlfriend/fiancee/damsel-no-longer-in-distress what she does for a living.
Eventually Cordelia says, "I brought sweetmeat for dessert." She floats from the room, and your parents look at you.
"It's like date loaf," you mutter. "It's good. Just try it. Please."
And when she comes back, with slices of the dessert on little scallop-edged plates, your parents try the sweetmeat.
They like it. The tension melts. You all eat extra helpings, and Dad serves coffee, and you start chatting easily away. By the end of the night Cordelia and your mother are on the couch, facing each other with their shoes kicked off and their knees drawn up under them.
When you leave, you walk under the stars with your arm around your true love's shoulder. "Thank you for an amazing night. I don't know how you charmed my mother, but I'm so happy. What was in that sweetmeat?" you joke.
She's silent for a long moment. "Well... as I told you, I am very traditional."
You blink. A doubt penetrates your euphoric haze. "What?"
"It was important that your family accept me, so... I used my grandmother's recipe. You know. Just to help the evening along a bit."
"Your grandmother the... the uh, the one with six children?"
"No," she says. "The sorceress."
You open your mouth again to clarify or object, but then you close it. You think about how the evening went, the sharp turn for the better once you all started eating what Cordelia brought. You think of the adventures awaiting you, and the beautiful lady you'll return to at the end of each journey.
"Very traditional," you say slowly, thinking it over. Starting to accept it. Then another thought occurs. "But there wasn't anything in mine, was there?"
"Oh, I don't need magic to enchant you."
In the darkness, you feel your face stretch into a grin.
It's true. She has your whole heart already.
It's also not really an answer--but upon consideration, it wouldn't be very traditional to notice.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

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