As we pulled in the driveway at home, my King blurted out, "Oh dear, what will we do? Elsa, you and I have both forgotten our keys to the house. We can't get in."
"I know," Robin told him. "I can get out here with Frodo and show him the fake rock by the front steps with the hidden key, that way he'll know where it is."
"That's a wonderful idea, son," my Queen smiled.
Now I'm not the brightest crayon in the box, but even I could tell that something was going on. Nevertheless, I got out of the car with Robin as his parents and sister drove the rest of the way around to the garage. The garage doors opened automatically just like I knew they would.
"All right, what's going on here?" I asked Robin.
"Nothing, Mom and Dad need us to unlock the front door and..."
"And cut the crap, Robin Goodfellow, your parents are already in the house by now," I stopped him.
"Fine, but you're ruining a great performance you know," he pouted. "I was going to lead you all around the front yard for a bit trying to find the fake rock."
"Let's just go in and get whatever this is over with," I rolled my eyes.
"Wait! You really do need to know which rock is the fake one with the key," he told me. "That part is real."
"You don't still have to drag me all over the yard, do you?"
"No, and I'm hurt that you would think that of me, truly hurt," he sniffled melodramatically.
"I'm sorry for hurting your feelings," I told him sincerely, even though he had been teasing. I took his hands in mine and pulled him close to me. I kissed him on each cheek, then each eyelid, then on his nose and finally on his lips. "Am I forgiven now, my fairy prince?"
"Yes, but now we really do have to walk around the front yard for a few minutes," he told me with a blush.
"Because I can't walk in the house in front of everyone with a tent in my pants," he moaned and then turned away from me and started chanting off things like, "multiplication tables, rabid dogs, History Class with Mrs. Steinemen, Baka in her underwear."
"Ok, that was a mental image I NEVER needed, thank you very much," I scolded him, as I started for the door of the house.
"Maybe not, but it worked," he called out as he ran after me. "That's the fake rock," he added as we started up the steps, indicating one of the stones beside us.
As soon as I opened the front door, I heard my Queen's voice. "Oh Marshall, it looks like it was meant to be there all along. He's going to be so happy."
My King was looking me right in the eye, as he replied, "Elsa, that's because I believe it was meant to be there. Robin and Tania were meant to be in the forest that day so that we could save that wonderful boy's life and show him all the love he should have had his whole life."
"Amen to that, Marshall," I heard Grampa Olly say. I turned to look for him and found him standing beside my grandfather's china cabinet with my family heirloom dishes in it. The dining room table had been moved over a little closer to the front door and the china cabinet had been put against the blank wall on the other side of the dining area right inside the front door of the house.
"I told you it would fit in our home beautifully, sweet boy," my queen told me with a smile.
"Is this why you guys didn't stay for the dinner at the church?" I asked the Sheriff and Grampa Olly.
"Oh we didn't miss that much," Coach Fuller said as he walked into the dining room carrying a plate of familiar looking food.
"Do I hear my favorite new nephew out there?" Aunt Rose called from the kitchen. "Sweetie, are you ready for some more chocolate cake?" My king would later tease me about setting a new land speed record getting into the kitchen. "It's a good thing you got here when you did, sweetie. I have been fighting these men off the last three pieces of this cake for a half hour now."
Instantly, Tania and Robin were standing beside me as we all chorused, "We love you, Aunt Rose."
"Well, don't just stand there, come on over here and pay for your cake," she smiled and held her arms open wide and the three of us group hugged her. "That's more like it. Now you little ones sit right over here at this little table and I will get you a nice big glass of milk to go with the cake."
"Rose is so jealous of this kitchen, Elsa," Doris smiled as my queen walked into the room. "This is bigger than our kitchen and dining room put together."
"Well, I'm jealous of that outdoor kitchen," Grampa Olly laughed. "This is a fine house to raise a family in and that's for sure."
"We have been really comfortable here," my King told them both. "It feels really nice having that last bedroom occupied though," he added as he ruffled my hair. I turned in my chair and hugged him. I wanted to say something, but wasn't sure what to say. Fortunately, the fact that I had a mouthful of cake saved me having to come up with something.
"Daddy, I told Frodo the story about the Princess and the Unicorn last night so he could get back to sleep," Tania suddenly blurted. "You were supposed to tell him, so he would know the story of the painting in his room, but you didn't, so I did."
"You have a painting of a princess and a unicorn," Aunt Doris asked me. "Rock on, little Rainbow Warrior!" she added raising a fist in the air. I had swallowed my cake by then and was able to talk.
"It isn't exactly mine, well I guess it is now, because I definitely don't ever want it painted over," I smiled up at my king. "It's the most beautiful mural I've ever seen."
"Oh, it's a mural," Aunt Doris said thoughtfully. "Would you mind if I saw it? I'm on a committee at the high school to decorate the halls with murals to get rid of the plain white paint and to discourage graffiti at the same time."
"Oh, you should really see this one, then," I said excitedly. "My King painted it himself and it is like Sistine Chapel gorgeous."
"Now let's not get too carried away, Elijah," my King said as he started to blush a bit.
"My husband has always been too critical of his own talent," my queen said as she led all the visiting adults to my room. I was suddenly struck by the terrifying worry that I had left underwear on the floor or forgot to make the bed.
"Marshall, this is absolutely amazing," Aunt Doris called out. My King and I walked to my room and joined them, and I was very relieved to see that there were no dirty clothes on the floor and the bed was made. "Would it be all right if I take some pictures of this to show the committee? I think something like this would perfect for the hallway outside the English Department."
"Go ahead," my king said bashfully. "If that can inspire somebody that really knows what they're doing...."
"Marshall," Mrs. Durbal scolded him. "I have taught art for twelve years in high school and college. Trust me when I say you know what you're doing."
"I told you before I married you that you are the most talented man I have ever met," my Queen said as she hugged her husband.
"Marshall, I hope you don't think I want these pictures so that someone can copy this for the school," Aunt Doris told him. "I intend to show them the pictures so that they can see what a great job you will do. I will insist that they hire you to paint one of the murals."
My King was starting to look a little overwhelmed and a lot embarrassed, but he did finally agree that if the committee decided they wanted him to paint one of the murals, he would do it. The Sheriff left first because he had to go back on duty, but the other adults all left soon after him. Grampa Olly was the last one to go. He had gladly agreed to have a few more family members show up at his house on Saturday for the fish fry. He had spent most of his time looking over the outdoor kitchen on the back porch of the Keane house which my King was more than happy to show off since it gave him an excuse to get away from all the talk about him and the painting. As Grampa Olly was getting ready to leave, he pulled me into a great big warm hug.
"I want you to know straight from my mouth and my heart, what an honor it was for me to help the way I did with your momma today," he told me in a whisper. "That man that killed her, well he ain't worth spitting in his face, but I was right proud to help carry your momma to her resting place. Thank you for letting me do that, because it goes a long way in helping me get past the hate and the hurt in my heart since the deaths of my boy and his little wife to know that it was always just him that was so evil and cold in the heart. For a long time, I had hated your whole family, without ever knowing what a downright adorable, loving, caring and generous soul you are and your momma was. I know we ain't known each other long at all, but I am proud as I can be to call you my grandson."
"I love you, Grampa Olly," I told him as I hugged him tightly.
"Now, you don't think on that old buzzard bait so and so no more tonight," he told me as he kissed the top of my head. "You want to dream tonight, you ought to be dreaming about that little hunk of yours."
"Grampa!" I squealed and blushed.
"What? Is hunk not the right word?" he asked innocently.
"No, Grampa," I admitted, still blushing. "Hunk is definitely the right word," I grinned a little as I looked across the room where the hunk in question was reading a story to his little sister as she fell asleep on his lap.
"I don't know much about what boys like you look for in boys, but I got a feeling he's a keeper," Grampa smiled too watching Robin and Tania. "This whole family are keepers," he continued. "Maybe even that hottie you call Baka."
"Grampa!" I squealed and blushed again.
"Just cause there's snow on the roof don't mean the fire's out in the furnace, boy," he winked at me.
"Ok, Grampa. T.M.I." I ducked my head into my hands in embarrassment.
"I won't tease you no more, baby boy," he laughed. "But she is going to be at the fish fry, right?"
"Yes, Grampa, I will make sure she is," I told him. He kissed me on top of the head again and then ruffled my hair.
"You know, it's kind of fun having a grandson that I can mess up his hair," he laughed again as he walked out, leaving me trying to fix my hair, but I was smiling as much as he was.
I went to bed that night and slept through the night without a nightmare. The next morning I was awakened by the smells of breakfast again. I went to the bathroom to pee and splash a little water on my face to wake up before joining the rest of the family, but as soon as I opened the door of the bathroom I shared with Robin, I was wide awake for sure.
"MMMM Elijah," Robin was moaning as he stood at the toilet, totally naked, taking care of his morning wood. I had walked in just as he shot into the toilet.
"Oh wow!" I blurted before I could stop my mouth.
"Elijah, I.... umm... I wasn't.... this isn't....."
"Don't you dare try to tell me it isn't what it looks like," I teased him. "I will be very disappointed and insulted if you do."
"I just...ummm... well I woke up from a dream and uhhh..."
"You dreamed about me?" I asked with a blush.
"Nobody but you since the day we met," he told me seriously. "Did you dream about me too?" he asked. I didn't notice that he was looking at my crotch when I answered honestly.
"Yeah, but I'm sorry, not every night," I said sadly.
"Good," he answered. I looked up in obvious confusion. "I would hate to think that nightmare you had the night before last was about me. I'm also glad that you dreamed about me last night if it did that to you," he said pointing at my tented pajama pants.
"Oh, this is because I have to pee," I blurted and blushed and then blushed even more as I started apologizing. "I mean it was a really good dream about you, but I really do have to go."
"Oh," he said a little disappointed at first and then he jumped out of the way and said, "Oh sorry, umm go ahead, I was just about to get into the shower before breakfast." He stepped into the tub and pulled the curtain closed and started the water just as I ran to the toilet in relief. "If this were some movie or a story on the Internet, I would ask you to get in the shower with me, but I think I've shown off a bit too much already. I hope you're ok with that."
"I am perfectly fine with that," I called back as I flushed the toilet, and then cringed, waiting to hear yelling. When it didn't happen, I turned to go get dressed and realized that I had forgotten to close the door into my room in my shock earlier. As I stepped into my room, I got another shock. My King was sitting on my bed.
"I apologize for startling you, Elijah," he said quickly. "I had gone to Robin's room to wake him up and found his bed empty, so I came in here and couldn't help overhearing you in the bathroom. I want you to know that I am very proud of both of you. I was a little nervous about you boys sharing a bathroom so that you could go from one bedroom to the other without having to set foot in the hallway given your relationship, but I put faith in both of you doing the right thing, and you have both proven that I was right. Thank you."
"Umm, not that I think I really want to know, but uhh... how much did you overhear?" I asked him as I shuffled nervously.
"Everything from this had better be exactly what it looks like," he told me with a smirk. I'm sure my blush was hot enough that Baka and my Queen could have used my face to fry the bacon for breakfast. "Relax, Elijah, I know you both have hormones. I was a teenage boy once too, you know. I just also know that you will both be responsible about how soon and how far you take your relationship. I also won't tell any of the rest of the family. It's perfectly fine for a dad to have secrets with his sons about guy stuff. Just maybe when you do take those last steps in your relationship physically... maybe I don't need those secrets. I want you both to be safe and know what you're doing, but I don't need to know what you're doing. Not because I'm against you being gay at all, either. I just kind of don't really want to know my two sons are growing up that much." I couldn't hold back any longer and hugged him tightly as tears soaked his shoulder. "Hey, hey, what brought this on?" he asked as he rubbed my back lovingly.
"Do you even realize that you just called me your son twice without even thinking about it?" I sniffled against his shoulder.
"Well, you are as far as I'm concerned," he told me with a chuckle. "Whether you ever become my son in law or not, I hope you know that I will always think of you as my son, as well. We didn't take in a boarder, kiddo, we brought our new son home."
"As long as you know I do NOT think of you as my brother," Robin said from behind me as he joined the hug.
"You'd better not," I told him with a grin. "I do have a question for you, though. Actually, for you both."
"Ask of me all that you will, my love," Robin told me. "My tongue will ever speak truth to thee."
"Will it weird you out if I start saying, Mom and Dad?" I asked shyly.
"If it's up to me, you will be calling them that the rest of our lives," Robin told me sincerely.
"Son, Elsa will be happy with whatever you want to call us," Dad told me as he hugged me a little tighter. "I know you didn't call him Dad so that won't be a problem, but are you sure about calling Elsa Mom?"
"Well, it wouldn't be fair to her if I called you Dad," I started to protest.
"It would be much less fair to me, if you called me something that hurt you every time you said it." We all looked over and saw my Queen in the doorway.
"MOM!" Robin squealed and ran from the room, making sure to keep the towel that was all he was wearing wrapped tightly around him.
"You can streak buck naked across the fairground, but in our own house you get shy about your mother seeing you in a towel?" his dad laughed and called out to Robin as he retreated to the bathroom. My King, my Dad, looked from his wife to me and then stood up walking out of the room as he said, "I'll go help Daia with the rest of the breakfast."
My Queen kissed Dad on his cheek as he left, and then she came and took his place on my bed. She held out her arms, and I hugged her and started crying yet again. She held me and rocked me and rubbed my back. "Shhhh," she whispered. "No need for that, son. Yes, you're my son too, just like Marshall said. But I don't ever want you to call me anything that you are uncomfortable with or hurt by. You could do like Marshall does with his mother and call me Daia if you want. I will always answer to whatever you want to call me the same way I will for Robin and Tania. Of course, if you want to keep calling me your queen, I'm sure my ego won't mind a bit," she teased.
"Well, for sure you will be my Queen at the fair," I assured her. "Daia?" I tested.
"Yes, chikno?" she answered. "That means son," she added with a smile.
"Daia, what is the word for dad?" I asked her.
"That's an easy one, it's dad," she smiled. "There's longer versions of it, like dadus and dadrus, but dad works just fine."
"Daia and Dad," I smiled.
"You would be better getting Baka to teach any more new words though," she told me honestly. "I'm still not all that good with Romany myself."
As we walked into the kitchen, I was again met with a hug and a kiss on the forehead from Baka. "You slept good last night, I can tell," she smiled. "Now sit and eat a good breakfast. I don't want you hungry when you go to that party this afternoon, that shukar moosh will think I don't feed you."
"Did she just call Grampa Olly a sugar moose?" I whispered as I sat down next to Robin at the breakfast table.
"No shukar moosh means beautiful man," he told me. "Baka has the hots for Grampa Olly."
"No way," I grinned. "Are you sure? Did she talk to you about him or something?"
"Please, Frodo, I'm trying to eat, and thinking about my grandmother's love life is not breakfast table discussion material," he whined.
"Yes, she does have a crush on him," Daia told me with a grin as she handed me a plate of food and sat beside me. "She did talk to me about him."
"Mother, can we please not have this discussion now?" Robin whined again.
"You had both better prepare yourselves for thinking about it," Daia warned. "She is going with us shopping this morning."
"We're going shopping?" I asked casually as I took a bite of my eggs.
"Of course we're going shopping," Robin told me. "Mom has been itching to take you shopping ever since she had to bring you clothes to wear home from the hospital."
"I can't believe you don't have a single pair of blue jeans, and not even one t-shirt that isn't plain white," Daia scowled. "You will look like an ordinary teenager when you go to that party at your Grampa Olly's today, not a young Republican."
"Stop talking and eat," Baka scolded us all. "We are going to have a man cooking for us; you don't want to be hungry when you get there in case the food is bad."
"Baka, I'm sure Grampa Olly is a fine cook," I told her. "I think maybe you should take him some of your baklava though. I'll bet he will like that."
"I've got baklava for everyone, and a krempita ("'cream pie'  It is usually prepared with puff pastry dough and a filling of pure thick custard") for him," Baka grinned. "I'm also bringing my last bottle of the family Šljivovica ("plum brandy, the national drink of Serbia")."
"Daia, are you sure you want to bring that?" Dad asked. "I know what it means to you, the last bottle you have from the family brewery."
"That's right, it's from family, and who better to share it with than family? What better time to share it than when we welcome new family?" As she said that last part, Baka came over and kissed me on the top of my head. "I get the grandson, not only I never have to change a diaper, but he's better at my own business than me. This is a fine tailor you have found for yourself, Unuk ("Grandson (Serbian)")," she said as she kissed Robin's head. "With this young man at your side, you will never have to worry about not looking your best."
"I know, Baka," Robin agreed. "Everyone says I remind them of a summer's day with my hair like the golden sun and eyes like the sky, but I pale beside the boy with the skin as soft and pale as the winter snow, and hair that is the color of those clear winter night's skies when all you want to do is cuddle up next to the one you love by a fire and just hold each other, knowing your love for them will keep you warm even when the fire dies to embers and ashes." I lunged over and hugged Robin tight as his mother and grandmother both sniffled and wiped tears.
"Ah!" Baka called out suddenly. "Look at the time; we have to get going to get the shopping done."
I had never been afraid of shopping in my life until I saw the look in Daia and Baka's eyes as they looked at me that morning across that breakfast table.