Tag Archive | character: zenobia

Securing One’s Own Legacy, a story of the Aunt Family/Zenobia for the Bonus Round

To [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt for here, my [community profile] dailyprompt prompt “doomed from the start.”

Zenobia is the post-American-Civil-War Aunt in the Aunt Family; her tag is here and the family landing page is here.

The Aunt is a hereditary title with some magical power in this family, and is always a woman who has nieces.

The Icon (in DW) is of another Aunt, Ruan. I don’t have one for Zenobia yet.

Her older relatives did not like Zenobia.

Her relatives did not like Zenobia, with very few exceptions. She was, to quote one particularly annoyed relative – her grandmother, Festia – a most recalcitrant and difficult child.

She was not supposed to become the Aunt. Her own Aunt Beulah had tagged her as one of five hopefuls, back when they were young (Zenobia had been twelve; the others had been between ten and fifteen), but her grandmother and the others of that generation had opinions on the matters. It would be Giselle. It would be Bernadette. It would be Mary, even, or Claudette, but it would not be Zenobia.

Bernadette had been the easiest to eliminate, because Bernadette did not want to be the Aunt. She wanted out of the little backwater town, out of the influence of the women of the family, out of the planned everything.

Zenobia sent her postcards three times a year, and got back lovely pictures of Paris.

Mary had been trickier. Mary liked the taste of power, she liked the whispers of knowledge, she liked the reputation that one got.

She was also an immensely good dancer, sinful as it was supposed to be. Zenobia talked to a boy who knew a boy who knew a man, and Mary had become The Flying Marionette, the headlining act in a famous circus, with a reputation for being a bit of a witch.

The farmer’s son from down the road had gotten Giselle pregnant when she was eighteen. A shotgun marriage and a family-quick house-raising had taken her out of the running.

And now the Grannies and aunts and cousins were starting to look askance at Zenobia, and Aunt Beulah was not ready to pass over the mantle to anyone.

It was likely Claudette would take herself out of the running in the next three or four years, but in the meantime, Zenobia had to shift their attention from her. She would be Aunt, but the family didn’t know yet that their attempts had been doomed from the start.

“Do you, Zenobia, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and health, in poverty and wealth, so long as you both shall live?”

“I do.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/635229.html. You can comment here or there.

Z is for Zoology Sparks, a story of the Aunt Family for the Giraffe Call

To Ellenmillion‘s prompt, with a side of stryck‘s prompt.

Zenobia is an Aunt from the Aunt Family; her stories are here. Prompting her was [personal profile] kelkyag
Zenobia was taking an interest in zoology.

She hadn’t done this solely, or even primarily, to irritate her family, although it served this purpose admirably.

It entertained her to speak to the relatives about other species that might exhibit the spark. “And what about octopuses? They have so many hands, can you imagine them reading a tarot? It would have to be a waterproof tarot, of course…”

That hadn’t been the one that had really irritated them. Zonkey, Zonkey had really gotten to her nieces and nephews. They already thought that she was more than a little zany, and, of course, she was stubborn in her refusal to die or otherwise give up her position, but zonkies? Really? Worse was when she added two to the family stables.

But there was, as there always was, a method to her madness. First, she did wish to know if there were other animals that would show what her family called the spark. There was, of course, The Damn Cat, who was clearly a cat above the rest. Were there others?

For some reason, despite his reluctance to have her look into his own past, the Damn Cat was more than willing to help Zenobia in her studies into zoology. “Stick with mammals,” he advised. “Fish are food. So are birds. And frogs…” He shuddered at the idea of frogs. “And probably stick with the females of the species.”

“Why females?”

“There is a reason your Aunties have the spark. And never mind that your Unclies have it too. Trust me.” The cat sat down on her zoology text. “The zonkies were a good start.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/525440.html. You can comment here or there.

Legacy Cat, a story of the Aunt Family for the Mini-Call

For Friendly Anon’s continuation prompt, after That Damn Cat (LJ), Bless the Cat (LJ), and Passing the Cat (LJ)

Aunt Family has a landing page here on DW and here on LJ

Elenora and The Cat regarded each other on what had been, until yesterday, Zenobia’s kitchen table.

“Well,” she said thoughtfully. “I have a cat.” And a house, and a legacy, and a title, and perhaps a decade or two in which to enjoy it. Zenobia had hung on for a ridiculously long time, out of, as she’d admitted, spite and, Elenora suspected, just a general cussedness of character.

But now Elenora was Aunt. She’d made certain the funeral was everything it should be, even if there were those who wanted to slide Zenobia into the dirt as fast and as deeply as possible; she’d made the arrangements herself, and paid the florist to make it look as if her family was mourning her in proper fashion.

And then she’d come to Zenobia’s house and, among all the things that had made it Zenobia’s and not hers, the detritus of a life, she looked at That Cat.

“Well,” the cat purred back at her. “I have a human. An Aunt. A witch, they say. Do I look like a witch’s familiar?”

“Not like that,” she laughed, risking her fingers by petting it behind the ears. “Like that, you look like a barn cat.”

“I have been, on occasion, a very good barn cat.” He leaned into her hand, his purring getting louder. “Much like you will be a very good Aunt.”

She smirked at him. “Fit the role you’re given, is that it?”

“What else has your family ever done, but slide into the roles that are open?” He nipped her fingers, delicately, not breaking skin. “There are things you should learn about the family.”


“Zenobia told you a fraction of what she knew, which was a fraction of what there is to know. It will get lost, if someone doesn’t know it. I can tell you where to look. I can tell you who to ask.”

“Why would you do that?” She busied her fingers with some of the knicknacks her Aunt had kept sitting on the table, disassembling a puzzle-charm.

The cat rolled onto his back, showing his white underbelly temptingly. “I just told you. Somebody needs to know, or the information is going to get lost. Your other aunts have almost all passed on. The diaries fade with age. If you do not know, to tell the one who comes after, then it will be lost forever – and that could be rather bad.”

“And you know, and won’t tell me yourself?”

“Won’t, can’t, don’t, shan’t,” the cat shrugged, and batted at the puzzle pieces. “There are things you have to learn for yourself. I can only point the way.”

She shook her head, and began reassembling the puzzle. It had two ways, it seems, that it could go together; Zenobia had picked the one that resembled a dragon.

If she twisted the pattern pieces correctly, however, it looked more like a unicorn. “So you’ll point the way…”

“And you’ll do what you want once you get there. Yes.” He dropped his jaw in a toothy grin. “This is what I do.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/292478.html. You can comment here or there.

Passing the Cat, a story of the Aunt Family for the Mini-Giraffe Call

For rix_scaedu‘s commissioned prompt, after That Damn Cat (LJ) and Bless the Cat (LJ).

Aunt Family has a landing page here on DW and here on LJ

Zenobia had held on to a hundred and ten, not because she really was enjoying life anymore, not even with every charm she could come up with, but simply to irritate her family.

This also meant that her niece was not young and, possibly, Zenobia considered, rather irritated as well, which hadn’t really been her point. Of the seventeen potentials, Elenora had always been her favorite niece for the position, and she’d made an effort, as much as she did with anyone, at least, to be friendly with the girl.

Girl. She chuckled into her tea. The girl in question was now in her mid-seventies, hale and hearty but prone to be a bit crotchety. And Zenobia was at the end of her ability or desire to hold on any longer, so she was having a long talk with her niece.

“This,” she said, about two hours and four cups of tea in, “is The Cat.” The Damn Cat allowed himself to be picked up in a way he never would have tolerated in her younger days. “You will find that he neither likes to tell you about himself nor to be talked about.”

“Yes, Aunt Zennie.” Elenora had taken on the family’s annoying habit of talking to her as if she was a little gone in the brain. Zenobia whacked the woman over the knuckles with her tarot deck as if she was a wayward child.

“If you’re going to be the next Aunt – and you are – you might as well know what you’re doing,” she scolded. “Pay attention and stop acting as if I’ve gone batty.”

“And what if you have?” she snapped back. “Talking to your cat? What’s next, talking to your tea? Having conversations with the lawn furniture?”

“Your Aunt Fabiana talked to her settee quite frequently in her mid-thirties. It told her all sorts of things her husband was up to behind her back. My point is, young lady, you might be a little more willing to believe things when you’re a member of this family and have been for seventy-three years.”

Elenora glared back at her. “I’m perfectly willing to believe normal things like demons and ghosts, the tarot and charms, but Aunt Zenobia, you’re talking about talking to your cat!”

“Yes I am,” she hissed, “and you would do well to listen.”

“You would,” The Damn Cat finally deigned to say. “I have helped your Aunts more than you can imagine.”

“My… Aunts. Plural.” Elenora studied The Cat thoughtfully. “You are, then, not an ordinary cat.”

“I should say not.” He groomed himself pointedly. “Not in any way. But I am still, miss, a cat. I like cream, and chicken. And the occasional slice of beef.”

“He is a very pampered cat,” Zenobia admitted, “but he has more than earned his keep and, Elenora, I think he will do the same for you.” She looked her niece in the eye. “There are many things I will leave you, because you will be the Aunt. The Cat, I am leaving to you because you are my heir.”

Next: Legacy Cat (LJ)

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/284206.html. You can comment here or there.

Bless the Cat, a continuation of the Aunt Family for the Mini-call

For rix_scaedu‘s commissioned prompt, after That Damn Cat (LJ).

Aunt Family has a landing page here on DW and here on LJ

“You should hear what they’re saying today,” the Damn Cat told Zenobia, as she set out his evening chicken.

“Indeed?” The cat, she’d discovered, loved to gossip, was completely incorrigible and occasionally very interesting. “More to do with Maude’s beau-they-don’t-approve of?” Zenobia had had a couple of those herself, back in the day. One of them still wrote her monthly; she wondered, sometimes, what his wife thought about that.

“Well, he’s quite the story, isn’t he? Every time someone talks about him, another salacious detail comes out. Tasty.” The cat licked his chops. “But no, that’s not what you ought to be worried about right now.”

That stopped her in her tracks. “Worried?” She put another piece of meat on the cat’s saucer. “That’s not a word you normally use. Tell me, what should I be worried about?”

“Gottleib and Edith plotting to kill you and put in Ida in your stead.”

“Ida?” The idea was beyond horrifying; it was stupidly offensive. “The pretty little flutterbrain wouldn’t know a charm if it bit her up her skirt, where, I might add, any number of things have already bitten her.”

“That’s the idea.” The cat pointedly groomed itself. “She’s sweet, passive, and biddable, things that they believe – rightly, of course – that you are not.”

“She’s likely to end up pregnant any moment now, too; she’s indiscreet enough.” Zenobia was still steaming over her uncle and cousin’s choice of replacement; she realized, somewhere in the back of her mind, that the rest of the cat’s news would have to sink in soon enough.

“Well, then. It shouldn’t be all that hard to eliminate her as a rival, should it?” The Damn Cat looked downright smug. “I’ve always thought your family’s insistence on spinster Aunts was foolish, but since it is unlikely to change any time soon…”

Zenobia sat down inelegantly, the kitchen stool wobbling under her. “They really mean to do away with me?”

“They seem to.” He filled his mouth with meat and kept talking. “You’re too powerful for their tastes, too intractable.”

“I’m the Aunt,” she snapped. “I’m supposed to be the power of the family and the guidestone. I’m not supposed to be passive and biddable. If the family wanted passive and biddable, they would have given the power to an Uncle!

The cat nodded. “So what are you going to do about it? You don’t strike me as the sort to deal with such things passively.”

“Of course I’m not. But if I confront Gottleib and Edith directly, I reveal that I know what they’re up to. I might need that again.”

“Especially if you’re going to continue to make waves. You might need my surveillance again.”

“Indeed. Good kitty,” she added idly, reaching down to scratch him behind the ears. Over his loud purring, she mused, “getting her pregnant seems the thing to do. I’m going to have to pay a visit to Cousin Lewis.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/278563.html. You can comment here or there.

That Damn Cat, a story of the Aunt Family for the Mini-call

For rix_scaedu‘s commissioned prompt.

Aunt Family has a landing page here on DW and here on LJ

Zenobia didn’t give the cat a name, but she did leave a bowl of cream out for him every morning, and a bit of her dinner meat every evening.

Her Aunt Beulah had left her the cat, along with the property and the title, when she vanished into the mist one late-November evening. He was, at that point, already an elderly cat, if family memory held, but, in this case, family memory, generally a very reliable thing, seemed to falter.

That was to say, that while family memory seemed to agree that the cat had been around for quite a while, it seemed to falter horribly, no matter which particular family member one was talking to, if pressed on the details. When had Beulah gotten the cat? Well, she’d gotten it from her Aunt Mary.

That cats did not live that long did not seem to faze anyone.

What was more, in looking at Beulah’s writings, she had, indeed, inherited a cat – several, as a matter of fact, none of them a Siamese tom. And while she had bemoaned the cats all over the place for the first several months, she had then started talking about Aristarchus, as she called her cat, as if she had had him all along.

Digging into Mary’s writings was trickier, the handwriting crabbed, the language a bit archaic and speckled with German and French for no apparent reason, but she, too, seemed to have had cats, too many cats, so many that Beulah’s notes on taking over the house and the title involved weeks of cleaning up after cats. Mary didn’t mention any specific cat by name, but there were occasionally mentions of That Damn Cat, which could, given the cat’s personality, be considered a name.

What Zenobia could determine from family journals, family gossip, and confused mutters was that Mary had been one of the batty aunts, one of the ones that was considered dangerous. Since Zenobia herself was considered dangerous, she took that with a grain of salt.

When she found That Damn Cat urinating on Mary’s journal, however, she took it as a suggestion perhaps she should stop researching his past. She gave him his cream and his dinner, and he kept the mice down and, from time to time, he gave her advice on her more complicated goings-on.

And, she soon discovered, he liked to spy, not only on her, which was irritating, but on the entire family, which was very illuminating. It seemed he had a way to get into just about anywhere, and, as a cat, he could observe on just about anything without cause for comment. Soon he was bringing Zenobia reports on the rest of her family.

Much of it was benign things, gossip and backstabbing and affairs, petty stuff that any family had. Some of it was strange but not deadly, tricks being performed on the sly, a card reading, an enchantment, stuff that was supposed to be the purview of the Aunt of the year.

And one of the tales the cat brought her saved her life.

Next: Bless the Cat (LJ)

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/268903.html. You can comment here or there.

Glass and Steel, a story of the Aunt Family for the Mini-Giraffee-Call

For Friendly Anon’s prompt

Aunt Family has a landing page here on DW and here on LJ

Zenobia is just-after-the-US-Civil-War.
“It should not be nearly this difficult,” Zenobia muttered, staring at the glass furnace. “The principles are sound, the materials are pure…”

“And your hands are shaking.” She paid no heed to the voice; if she turned to look, the darn tomcat would be grooming himself or something. “The caster must be as strong as the casting.”

“You’re not helping,” she snarled. “You’re making me angry.”

“And what is it you are trying to make?” He sounded, today, like a man in his fifties. Sometimes he sounded like a child. He was always rather irritating.

“A tiny, delicate glass horse,” she snapped. “And a glass duck.”

“And why are you making those again?”

“Charms for my sisters’ blasted obnoxious sons,” she snarled.

“So perhaps,” the cat purred, “you could use some anger? Or if not anger, perhaps… steel?”

“Steel.” She reached behind her, grabbed the tom’s whiskers, and pulled out two with a quick yank. “Yes, thank you. Steel.”

The tom yowled and lept to a high rafter to watch her. “You are a cruel woman, Zenobia.”

She dropped the whiskers in the furnace. “I am, of course. I’m the Aunt. And thank you for reminding me of that.” Staring at the furnace, she began drawing out the glass again, twisting it into the shape of a horse. Steel, indeed. And guts. Her nephews could use some of that.

And, she was thinking, so could she. Perhaps she needed to make more than two figures.

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