August 6, 2016 by Lyn
It had been their private joke since their first Easter together, a joke that they initiated their children into early on: Aelgifu was their family’s private Easter Bunny (Cecily was the first to draw said iconic character for school with horns, causing an interesting and uncomfortable parent-teacher conference until they realized this particular teacher, at least, was Faded. After that, they made sure to request her for all their kids’ kindergarten years).
Ayla took it in good stride, mostly, Io thought, because their kids enjoyed it so much. She hopped around the house on Easter morning, passing out brightly-colored eggs and coaxing the kids into finding their hidden Easter baskets.
Cecily and Aloisa were starting to think they were too old for all this, but Io had slipped a couple things from their wish lists into their baskets to sweeten the deal, and Ayla bouncing around like a bunny was funny-as-long-as-it-was-in-the-family. They were at that age where they could only relax and be themselves so long as nobody else was watching, and, with the world such a mess in so many places, that was harder and harder to pull off. (Io found herself actually looking forward to when the word came from Addergoole. At least a bunker in the ground was safe from Returned Gods).
“Moooooom.” Cecily rolled her eyes as Ayla playfully head-butted her, the ears making more contact than the horns.
“Cee-cee,” Ayla teased back. “Too old for your Easter chocolate?”
“Too old for the Easter goofball stuff.” She took the chocolate anyway, and had the grace to blush a bit. “Thanks, Mom Ayla.”
“Bunny!” Siggie called.
“Right here, honey.” But their youngest wasn’t looking at his mother; he was looking out the window.
“Bunny,” he repeated, and then, eyes getting bigger, “big bunny.”
Ayla and Io were at the window before their kids could say another word, pushing the girls behind them, Io scooping up Sigurd while Ayla hastily threw up her Mask and moved into their son’s place at the window.
“Yes… yes. That is a very large rabbit, Siggie.”
The boy, apparently unscathed and with no lessons learned from his Halloween run-in with a Returned God, was squirming and kicking in Ioanna’s arms. “I told you! It’s a big bunny! Is it the real Easter Bunny?”
“I… well. I suppose I could ask it,” Ayla allowed. She stepped out of the way so Io could see as well. “What do you think, Io?”
Standing in their pretty if well-fenced suburban lawn, placing a small basket in their rosebushes, was a … a very big bunny. A tall creature, taller than either of them although not on the gigantic scale of Aloisa’s father (unless you counted those ears… or those horns…) with bright white rabbit ears and, sticking out from its suit pants, a fluffy bunny tail.
“It’s wearing a purple pastel vest,” she croked. It was all she could think of to say. “Is it a Daeva?”
“It’s a rabbit,” Siggie offered again, helpfully. And at that, the rabbit-Daeva-thing looked up at them.
Looked up, put both hands over its mouth, and starting running off. Io half-expected it to pull out a pocket watch.
“No, wait!” Ayla cried, and headed for the front door. “Wait!” she called out the door, leaning out over their threshold. “Please!” The whole front yard lit up with the glow of her power and, coated in Ayla’s light, the bunny-thing slowed and stopped.
“I shouldn’t be seen,” it stammered. “Not by humans.”
“You haven’t,” Ayla countered. “Please, if you mean us no harm, come in and be welcome.”
“If….” It was blonde, Ioanna noted, the same golden blonde as Ayla – and Yngvi, and Leofric, and Aldeheid. She tightened her grip on her struggling son as the bunny-thing came closer, slowly, hesitantly. “You are not seeing me?”
“We are no more human than you are. Possibly a bit more human.” Ayla let her Mask flash down for a second. “See? We almost look like cousins.”
“Indeed.” The rabbit-creature wrinkled a leporine nose at them. “Almost like cousins. I mean you no harm. I am just bringing the eggs.” It held up a basket full of brightly-colored eggs. Big eggs.
“Who are you?” Cecily was trying to sound like she didn’t care while pressing up against Io to better see.
“I am Esther.”
Behind them, Aloisa started giggling. “You’re the Esther Bunny? With eggs?”
“I am.” Io couldn’t be certain, not with those teeth, but she was pretty sure Esther was smiling.
“What are the eggs for?” Niobe, shyest of all their kids, piped up from behind her sisters’ legs. The bunny-creature turned pale and, with a wiggle of its nose, vanished, leaving all six of them staring in confusion at their front porch.
Ayla was the first to recover. She cleared her throat. “Well. I guess the Esther… Easter Bunny’s eggs are a secret. Who wants quiche?”