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Aurelia's POV

"Alright, my parents are coming in fifteen minutes, Ash - Liam," I stress, pacing around. "You need to be perfect, okay? No mess ups, please."

Asher watches me with a grin on his face. "I am perfect."

I glare at him.

He relents. "Maybe you should let me out of this cage first?"

"Get out yourself," I snap at him. "You know how to."

Asher shrugs. "Suit yourself." He simply kicks open the door. "Also, maybe some new clothes? So I don't look like a hobo?"

I sigh, grabbing his hand. "Follow me, quickly."

I quite literally drag him upstairs and rifle through my junk drawer of clothing to find something suitable.

"These are a pair of jeans too big for me," I say, holding out a pair of black, ripped jeans. "It should fit you."

I dig through my drawer frantically, looking for a hoodie or an oversized shirt that might fit Asher.

I finally throw a red hoodie at him. "Please, try to make yourself look presentable?"
Asher winks. "Anything for you, babe."

The doorbell rings, and I nearly sprint for the door.

"Parents!" I cheerfully say. "Brother! How do you do, my most wonderful family?"

Axel raises an eyebrow at me. "Very well, and you, dearest sister?"

My mother looks confused, but she opens her arms and hugs me tightly. "I haven't seen you for ages!"

"Likewise," I return, stupidly. "I mean, yeah! Tiati duty really has a lot of commitment... and stuff!"

"Speaking of commitment and tiati-ness," Asher smoothly cuts into the conversation, appearing next to me. He's cleaned up, and even managed to brush his hair, and he looks quote good.  "Good evening, madam. You must be Aurelia's charming parents. I've heard so much about you."

"Oh, hello!" My mother cooes, immediately falling for Asher's charms. "You must be the tiati-in-training Aurelia was talking about."

"Certainly. I'm Liam. Did she not mention our other relationship?" Asher tries to look innocent, ignoring my glares.

"Why, no, she didn't," my mother looks at me, her eyes wide. "Do you mind telling me?"

"I'm her boyfriend," Asher calmly says. "We've been dating for quite a while now."

I clench my jaw, trying not to let my family know. Your first boyfriend was basically lifelong commitment, as you couldn't break up with somebody without hurting them. Well, unless you're Noah and Audrey. "Yes, we have."

"You never said a word!" My mother gasps, smiling. "Well, it's lovely to meet you. Aurelia, would you let us in now?"

"Ha, yes!" I curse silently and let my family in. And then the interrogation began.

"So, how did you meet?" My father asks.

"At a restaurant," Asher easily replies right as I say, "In court."

Axel hides a snigger.

"As in, we first saw each other in a restaurant, but I guess we actually met in court," Asher covers our fumble up easily.

"How sweet," my mother cooes. "And since Liam will be in court too, everyone in the tiati court will be matched up evenly."

I notice Asher wince ever so slightly. "Yes, isn't it great?"

Axel speaks up. "Aura, is there food? All your flirting is tiring me, and I'm hungry."

I refrain from rolling my eyes and get up. "I'll make a few snacks. Ax, chocolate as usual?"

"Oh, sister, you know me so well," Axel says dramatically. "So, Liam, when did you guys get together?"

I disappear in the kitchen, hoping that Asher comes up with a believable lie. When I come out with a plate of half frozen hot pockets and a Hershey's bar, Asher is telling an entire story, complete with theatrical hand motions.

" - and then I told her, my love for you is too much! Aurelia, I haven't known you for long, but I do know that I love you. I love her so much that I even brought her jewelry every day and made her breakfast," Asher winks at me as I come in.

"Oh, Liam," I say in a monotone. "Whatever did I do to deserve you?"

"How sweet," my mother wipes away a tear. "I am so happy. I absolutely love you two. Remember to put flowers on your wedding invitation!"

"Well, Mom," I interrupt her before she can name our future children. "How have things been with you?"

"Oh, wonderful," my mom gushes. "Did you know that there's a special tiati discount in the grocery store now? It's 80% off! And as your mother, I get 50% off! Isn't it great, honey?"

"Yeah, wow," I don't mention the fact that I quite literally kill for that discount.

"When Axel becomes a tiati after someone retires, I wonder if I'll get it for free?" My mother contemplates this while Axel shakes his head.

"Right, Axel's becoming a tiati," Asher says smoothly. "How's that working out for you?"

"I've heard it's really cool," Axel says, excited. "And you get all these discounts, you get to be famous - it's really nice. I'm just so glad I got to do this. I know I won't regret it."

"So nice," I nod, trying to keep my smile from dimming.

Asher hides a snort. "Yeah, I haven't seen too much of the court, but I know it really works miracles. It's really considerate, and so many people lead happier lives because of the tiatis."

"Liam," I had to change the subject before I told Axel exactly what happened in court. "Why don't you tell us about your family?"

Asher stiffens, his face suddenly becoming dark. "Um, yeah," he whispers, the first time he's stuttered in this entire day. "They're nice. Um, really nice. They're really glad I'm a tiati-in-training."

"Any siblings?" Axel asks, in his usual bubbly voice.

Asher draws in a barely noticeable breath. "Just... just one."

"Brother or sister?" Axel doesn't seem to notice Asher's discomfort.

"Sister," Asher murmurs, his fist clenched.

"Oh, like me and Aura!" Axel smiles at me, while I try to figure out why Asher was being so... not Asher.

"Yeah, exactly like you and Aura," Asher's voice is dark now, though he's struggling to mask it.

A tense silence follows before I stand up. "Should I show you to your rooms, guys?"

"Yeah, that'd be great," Asher gets up and gestures toward the stairs.

My parents and Axel walk in the direction that Asher pointed towards. Asher turns to leave, but I grab his arm. "Hey, you okay?"

"Yeah, why?" Asher says, his voice back to its natural tone.

"You seem - " I fumble with my words. "You seem kind of, um - you know what, nevermind, forget it."

Asher holds my gaze for a second before turning away. "If you say so."

We follow my family upstairs with the rest of their bags. I would never understand why three people needed seven bags for a trip that would only be a week long.

"We're so proud of you, sweetie," My parents pat me on the back.

I didn't deserve that praise. After all, they had just told me that they were proud of me for killing people. But who am I to judge? 

hopeeee you enjooyed

- angie and eliza

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