So this references and quotes from Asta’s Journal (free for everyone, on Patreon) and references/comes after Even a Locked Chest Must be Unlocked. Everything in here that does not directly reference Captain America is canon for the Aunt Family ‘verse… which, if you’re new to it, has a landing page here.
There were diaries everywhere.
Evangaline had – with her niece Beryl’s help and sometimes her nephew Stone’s and another niece, Bellamy’s; with, sometimes, more rarely, the other cousins’ less diligent help – been cataloging all of the diaries — thousands of pages of notes from all those who had predecessed her — in her attic. In the case of some of the oldest, they had been scanning them in, using the best archival techniques they could read up on and handling the crinkling paper as carefully as possible.
At the moment, they covered every spare surface in the public rooms of the downstairs. The dining room table had three Aunts’ worth of old journals stacked by Aunt and by year – there was some overlap, as a few Aunts had started writing long before their tenure in the old house on the corner where Eva now lived. The kitchen table held two more. In a corner, Beryl had Aunt Asta’s diaries out, scanning them for interesting content with a now-practiced eye.
“Hunh,” was all she said.
Something about the way she said it caught her Aunt’s attention. Eva looked up, set down the book she was currently taking notes on — one of Aunt Sarah’s, crinkly and smelling of dry-rot in the leather and racier than a summer paperback — and cleared her throat.
Beryl glanced up. “Mmm? Oh!” She flushed and set down the diary. “It’s just… um. Aunt Asta. Everyone in the family says she was…” She flapped both her hands, both explaining nothing and explaining everything. “When I read this, she doesn’t sound like that. She sounds… rebellious, I guess. When she was young. She sort of reminds me of Stone.”
“Stone?” Eva frowned. “I wouldn’t think of Stone as rebellious.”
“Well…” The look Beryl gave her was sidelong and a little uncertain. “You shouldn’t. I mean… you’re the Aunt, no offense.”
Eva coughed. “None taken.” She considered what Beryl had said — all of it. Beryl’s brother Stone being rebellious, that was something she could table for the moment. He was a good kid either way, as was Beryl. Things the Aunt “shouldn’t” know… that, she’d have to take up with Beryl at some point. She knew the family didn’t always respect the position of Aunt-with-a-capital-a, but if the kids were withholding knowledge…
Later. Right now they were working on diaries. “Asta’s diaries sound rebellious?”
“Yeah! Yeah, and…” Beryl shifted directions. “Like this bit. ‘I have joined the WAAC, despite argument from every aunt, grandmother, great-aunt and casual adult female relation I have (and the ten percent of the male relations brave enough to voice an opinion on our family, including my father, my uncle Thomas, and the strange Uncle West, who should say nothing, as he is also enlisting).’” She was flushed and not quite looking at Eva, even when she set the book down. “She wanted to thumb her nose at authority. How did she end up so…” She flapped her hands again. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Well, but perhaps it does,” Eva answered slowly. “You said she was young in that diary, and she’d have to be, if she was just joining the WAAC. Can you imagine, if you were fighting against the family every day, even before you became an Aunt — back when they weren’t really sure you would become an Aunt?” Eva pursed her lips. “Sometimes the rest of the family can be just as bad on the women that don’t as they are on the men. I think we get all tied up in knots, and then we just pass those knots on to the next generation.”
“Except us.” Beryl looked thoughtful. “I mean, I think?”
“I think we have our own knots,” Eva admitted. “Like… whatever it is you’re not telling me about Asta’s diary.” She held up great-great-etc-Aunt-Sarah’s diary. “It can’t be worse than this.”
“It’s not worse, it’s just… was Aunt Asta…” she made a loop around the side of her head. “I know Aunt Bea is, sometimes. She blames the cats, but I don’t think it’s just…”
Aunt Asta had been Evangeline’s direct predecessor, but the two had never been close. “I think… I think she was sane. I never heard her say something that wasn’t firmly rooted in reality — or, at least what stands for reality in this family.”
“Really?” Beryl stared at the diary in front of her. “Because this… this says she met Captain America. I mean, more than met, although less than… Um. Less than Aunt Sarah’d.” She glanced up at Eva uncertainly. “She thinks he was very cute. And she says she did the Florence charm.”
“The…” Eva swallowed slowly. “You’re sure?”
“Here. See?” Beryl turned the diary around, her finger just under the line in question:
He will come back. That much is certain. And his bloodline could do so much for the family. I don’t know about this Peg of his — or not his, not really. And, in the end, as much as I want to feel bad about it, I did what I thought the family needed.
I wouldn’t mind if it was me he came back to. Even if it’s not me, I’ll be pleased to have him coming back to us.
The page was marked with a faded ribbon. Eva could tell it had once been yellow.
“Isn’t…” Beryl looked both worried and curious. “Didn’t he… Did you see on the news? They thawed him out just a little while ago. He came back.”
“He came back,” Eva whispered quietly. “Oh, Asta, what have you done?”
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