Certain Things Remain (to One)
After Fated.

“He’s your cousin.” Karen’s mother made the word sound positively scandalous. 

“It’s not as if he’s my first cousin or something,” Karen countered tiredly. She’d already had this conversation with a sister, two cousins, and her mother’s aunt Betty. “To find a common ancestor — and only one of them, I might add - you have to go back up two family splits to a great-grandmother who married three times. Gerry down the street is more related to me than that.”

“But…” Her mother made a distressed noise. “You’re not supposed to… supposed to…”

“The power has damn well decided I’m going to be childless. Fate has pretty much determined I’m going to be loveless. And I don’t have some other sister or cousin available to become the Aunt.”

“I know.” Her mother’s voice was spiraling upwards. “I know you never wanted this, Karen-enna, but that’s how the family happens sometimes. It was bad enough, you taking in those twins… but now you’re going to go and marry your cousin? Are you trying to get the family to censure you?”

“Well, the thought had occurred to me, but when you start asking around, everyone agreed that was a horrible idea.”

“Who’s everyone?” Now, through the phone line, her mother was suspicious.

“Evangaline. Deborah. Anatolia. Even Saint Gretel.”

“You’re conferring with the other Aunts? You’re… but… Aunts are territorial. That’s what everyone says. They don’t…”

“Funny about that, isn’t it. But… Mom? The point? Saint Gretel talked to me because, well, you know her branch of the family is hardline on the traditions. And Billy…”

“You’re marrying your cousin and his name is Billy,” her mother moaned. “And he sells macrame for what someone might call a living.”

“...Billy has the power, the spark,” Karen cut her mother off. “Also, he’s great with kids. Putting him in my house takes him out of his family branch, puts him under my aegis…”

“...and gives you someone with the spark in the Aunt House… but does he have to be a Billy?”

“You can call him William, Mom, he won’t mind.”

“But what are you going to do about the family and, well, getting married?”

“Well,” she admitted, “I’m still working on that. But right now, I’ve got to go. It’s time for the twins’ dinner.”

“Bring them and Billy over next week for dinner,” her mother ordered imperiously.

“I’d like to meet my grandchildren. And,” she added, a bit less willingly, “...my son-in-law, the Aunt.”