This is the requested continuation of the following stories:

The RoundTree Siblings Prepare for Thanksgiving

The Family That Knots Together

A Family Tree

“Your mother is something else.”  Marina glanced at the back seat of WInter’s sensible and spacious sedan, where Mila and Henry were sleeping.  “Your family is… is something else.”

Winter smiled, because he thought it would make her uncomfortable if he frowned.  “Is that a good thing?”

They hadn’t met in good circumstances, and Winter, if he looked at her Strands, assumed he would find some residual guilt and discomfort tangled up near her feelings towards him.  Always ethical, he didn’t look.

“Well…”  She pursed her lips.  “I know you warned me.  But I’ve never before met someone who was the family’s sole white sheep.”  

That had always been the risk in bringing Marina and her children to Thanksgiving dinner with WInter’s family.  Her children had enjoyed themselves, but Marina…

It wasn’t the first time Winter had heard the sentiment, although it might have been the most tactfully he’d had it put. “Aah.  Yes.  Well, I’m the oldest, and our father died when Spring was just a baby…”

“It’s all right, truly it is.”  A look would tell him if she had the knots that suggested uncomfortable dissimilitude.  Winter didn’t look.  “It’s just…”  Her voice dropped.  “I can’t always tell if they were measuring me for a wedding dress or a coffin.”

Winter winced.  He’d asked them to be gentle.  It’s possible they had been, for them.  “My mother… well, and my sisters… They can be…”  He disliked being at a loss for words.  “i know they can be difficult.”

“I’m sure they just take some getting used to.”  Marina’s smile was reassuring.  Winter didn’t have to look too deeply to see that it wasn’t working to calm her one bit.

~

“Your family…”  Bishop was smiling.  “They’re certainly… something.”

“They’re a lot more… everything… than my family,” Mellie admitted.  “Your mother didn’t even blink about this is my boyfriend and this is my girlfriend.

“Well,” Summer admitted through a happy grin, “it’s not like I don’t write home.  I mean, what she said when I stepped into the kitchen with her was ‘It’s nice to see that it’s working out for you.’”

“It is, isn’t it?”  Bishop smiled thoughtfully.  “Working out for us.  There was this moment — when you four vanished, leaving your poor dates to fend for themselves…”

“You said it was fine!”

“It was fine, my summer’s day,” he reassured her.  “But when you left us, that guy your sister’s dating…”

“Lance?” Mellie hazarded.  “The sleek one.”

“Lance, yeah.  He looked at me and Mellie, and then he looked out the window where you were, and he smiled….”

“Beatific,” Mellie pronounced, with a bit of relish.  “He smiled like a saint.”

“...Yeah.  I was going to say like a devil.  But either way, he just grinned at us.”

Summer felt a flip-flop-twist in her stomach.  “Well,” she said carefully, “you know how my family is…?”

“Sum,” Mellie countered patiently, “if we didn’t know you did magic already, half an hour around your mother would have handled that.”

Summer was blushing now.  “She, uh, she does that, yeah.  But Lance… Spring says he’s a mapper.  He finds connections.”

“I think we already found our connection,” Mellie smirked.

“Yeah.”  Busses were not set up for threesomes.  Summer leaned into Mellie’s shoulder and reached across for Bishop’s hand.  “But if Lance was smiling like that… it means something very good or very chaotic for us.”

Lance was dating Spring.  Summer wouldn't put money on which of those it was.  She held Mellie closer, squeezed Bishop’s hand tightly, and painted charms of luck and good-will with her mind.