Harley and Noor strolled down the sidewalk hand in hand, Harley had chosen to dress masculine today to prevent too many stares being thrown in their direction. They had been out on a date, exploring some of the shops that had been taken over by the Affini in a nearby neighborhood. Harley thought of it as research on their future, Noor had been willing enough to go along just out of curiosity. The shopping experience had been surreal, nothing was priced, it was just available to people who wanted or needed it. Post capitalism rocked and they had both picked up some pretties for themselves and the others in the family. The thing that started to grate on Harley's nerves was the way every single Affini who they interacted with would coo over them, using words like cute, sweet and adorable. It was positively frustrating when Harley did not think of themselves as any of these adjectives. They supposed it was somewhat expected from a species that treated humans as prized pets but... ugh, enough already.
While having absolute faith and trust in their mistress Harley was the most skeptical about her plan. It, it just didn't seem necessary, but Danae seemed to think this was the best way to secure happy safe lives for the family from here on out. They would do anything for Danae - well anything but be parted from Noor- she had literally killed for them. A fact they still found scary, galling, and amazing. To be loved by someone willing to do that. For them it was a prize worth all the pain in the world. Harley had no doubt that if Noor was in the position to do so, she too would have killed for Harley. Harley liked it better that she had not. Noor needed to be loved, coddled and prized, not to be their savior. Harley was thankful each and everyday to have the love of such an amazing family, even if it came at the cost of being socially isolated.
Noor and Harley had been together since high school. Long before anything romantic had occurred between them, they had been each others support. They were a unit that faced the universe together. Separation was bad for them, every time they were separated something traumatic happened. It only took so many times being smacked by life for being apart for you to learn your lesson. Harley did admit that they probably looked dangerously co-dependent to people looking in from the outside. Screw them though, they were happy never being separated so why change things?
Harley listened to Noor chatter happily about the things they had.... "acquired?" while out. She couldn't wait to get home to give Bonnie a pair of magenta sky high heels she had picked out just for her.
"Speak of the devil," Noor said pointing at a familiar figure walking ahead of them. "She's all dressed up and everything, she normally only puts that outfit on for our Lady."
Next to their valkyrie maid was the tallest Affini that either of them had seen today. The Affini was also the most simply adorned, sticking with just one flower rather than the different profusions they had seen.
"Danae didn't say anything about meeting a potential "owner" today did she? She's usually very organized about these things..." Harley muttered to Noor.
"No, nothing. I would have stayed with Bonnie if that was the case."
"What does she want with Bonnie?" The pair stayed far enough down the street so as not to draw attention to themselves. Bonnie said goodbye to the Affini while looking thoroughly flustered. "Suspicious, Bonnie usually only gets flustered by us or our Lady." Harley thought quickly then said, "Noor run and put our things inside, I'm going to follow that plant. Catch up with me when you can!"
Noor nodded and headed towards the house while Harley continued to follow the Affini at a distance, trying their best to blend in with the others on the street. The plant woman didn't seem to be in a rush, and was greeting others genially while they made their way to a hab unit a short distance from their house. Harley watched as she went inside, and stood thinking about their best options. They had a fairly mechanically minded brain, which was useful when it came to repairing things but didn't always translate to tactics. After a few minutes Noor ran up to them, she was quick on her feet which had come in handy over the years.
"So where did she go," Noor asked, "I know it must be close or you wouldn't be dithering on the street."
"She's gone into that hab unit over there." Harley pointed to the unit that bordered on a local park. "I think, I think the direct approach might be best."
"Mmm yes, we can't have a random Affini snatch our Bonnie. She's ours! Plus think of how sad our Lady would be." She thought for a second, "Not that Bonnie would do anything to betray us, she is far too loyal, but drug anyone enough and are they even making the decision?"
Harley led Noor to the nondescript door of the hab unit and knocked loudly.
The door slid open and the Affini they had seen with Bonnie met them in the doorway. She was surprised to see them, but greeted them calmly enough.
"Hello dears, how can I be of assistance?"
"What were you doing with our Bonnie?" Noor demanded fiercely. "She's ours, and our Lady's and you can't take her from us."
Harley sighed a little at the exceptionally undiplomatic way Noor had asked. They let her take the lead however, it was usually best when she was feeling this protective.
"Why how positively adorable you are! It's sweet how protective you are, oh I know I was told you look after each other but my how well you do it," the Affini gushed. "I'm going to guess you must be Noor and Harley, what darlings you are!"
Noor was stunned into silence, so Harley moved forward to take over.
"Does this mean our Lady was aware of your date with Bonnie?" Harley asked suspiciously "Normally we would have been informed. So we are aware of what is happening for the others in our family."
"Why don't you come inside? I will do my best to explain. I should introduce myself, my name is Alathea."
The pair hesitated, they hadn't planned for this, to be fair they really hadn't planned at all which was a common failing when the two of them got their hackles up about something. Eventually they both nodded, and Alathea led them into the hab unit. When they got inside they peered about curiously, the space was strangely neutral with no personal effects out at all. Maybe they hadn't been here long. Harley was starting to wonder if they had made a mistake.
Alathea fetched them both a drink of lemonade decorated with slices of lemon, and got them settled on the loveseat while she took a seat on an armchair designed for a being of her size. She watched them squirm a little before addressing them.
"Now dears, you are perfectly sweet to watch out for your little maid so well. I promise no ill intent meant, I have no plans to separate her from you. I do have to confess I have not been in contact with your Lady yet, today I arrived on this lovely little world and was overcome with enthusiasm for meeting all of you. I had hoped you would all be home, or at least Danae would be, but when I got there sweet Bonnie was there by herself. Rather than intrude on her at home I invited her out for a drink. She is allowed to have dates outside of your polycule, so I thought it would be a good chance to get to know her."
Noor dropped her eyes, and softly asked "Does this mean you might want... all of us?"
"Perhaps. I travelled here to meet all of you. I was thoroughly intrigued after I heard about Danae's meeting with young Aurelia, and once I got a chance to read your contracts, well I positively hurried here. Now I don't know yet if we will all suit together, but Bonnie is a dear sweet girl, and you are both charming in your defense of her, so it may be a possibility. This is a unique opportunity, and if we don't suit I promise to do my best to help find someone who will."
"All or nothing, you can't have Bonnie without us, all of us," Harley reiterated.
"Yes, that's right. After meeting you it's absolutely clear that you should be able to stay together."
Noor and Harley held hands and stared at each other for a minute, then nodded to each other. Harley, so used to how Noor thought relaxed at her acceptance of the situation.
"You have mis-stepped though, our Lady will not be happy you didn't tell her you were coming. She likes to arrange our schedules, so although we are free to date outside it's usually done with consent ahead of the date"
Alathea nodded, "I have told Bonnie I will come visit tomorrow night, she will tell your Lady I wish to meet her. I realize my enthusiasm may make things difficult but we will make the best of it. No one is perfect my dears, but we do have your best interests at heart."