|Once and Always|
|Book: Once and Always, Chapter 12|
Chapter 11: A Forgotten Past
Chapter 13: A Plot, and a Plan
Chapter 12: Secret of Secrets
"Dad was right about this." said Suzuka. She and Hermione were soaking outside in the large pot Saito used to bathe in years ago "Bathing outdoors feels great."
"Where your daddy gets such great ideas, I'll never know." said Hermione
"He told me that he was from another world called earth. And the specific place he was from was called Japan."
"Yeah, and he also told me that your great-great grandfather was from Japan as well."
"Whoa! Well the people of Japan sure know how to make themselves comfortable."
"Speaking of comfort," Suzuka said with a look "I didn't notice till now, but your breasts are coming along nicely."
"Suzuka!" said Hermione, covering her chest with her arms
"She's not lying." said a voice next to them. It was Erlea again
"What do you want?" Suzuka asked
"Oh, nothing." Erlea answered
"If you want to join us, the answer's 'no'."
"I just wanted to know where you went to." Erlea said in a cheerful tone that was so unlike her it was creepy
"Why is it any of your business? And what's with the cheerful tone with me all of the sudden?" Suzuka asked
"I just wanted to check on my girlfriend." Erlea answered
"Since when are we 'girlfriends'?!" Suzuka asked angrily, standing up in the pot
"Suzuka, you know you're not wearing a towel." Erlea said nervously
"Yeah, I do." Suzuka said, still standing
"Could you sit back down please?"
"Darn it, Erlea, we're both girls. What's the matter with you?" Suzuka asked
"I'm not Erlea." she said
"Huh?" Suzuka and Hermione said, feeling as if all reason had dropped out of the conversation
"I... I finished the potion, and I was just testing it." she said
Suzuka looked down and noticed for that first time that, "Erlea", was wearing a male uniform. She then understood that this wasn't Erlea. It was Guiche, under the influence of the finished Shape-shifting Potion.
Going extremely red in the face, Suzuka quickly lowered herself back into the water and screamed.
"GUICHE! YOU PEEPING TOM! YOU PERVERT!" Suzuka screamed, reaching for her wand and blasting Guiche into the outer wall, more than ten yards away.
In Suzuka and Hermione's room sometime later, after the potion on Guiche had worn off;
"Suzuka, I'm sorry." said Guiche who was kneeling on the floor in front of Suzuka, who was sitting on her bed, fully clothed again
"I'm not convinced." Suzuka replied with an angry face
"It was despicable, I know. But I was only testing the potion once I had it finished, and then I saw you and Hermione in that pot, and decided to see what you thought of it. Believe me, seeing you naked was never my intention."
"I'm convinced." said Hermione after a pause
"I'm still skeptical." said Suzuka
"What's going on in here?" said Drako, walking into the room
"Guiche tricked us the now finished potion, and saw me naked." Suzuka replied
"Guiche, you perv!" said Drako
"Like you never had the same thoughts in the past." said Guiche
"That's a lie!" Drako retorted
Suzuka waved that remark about Drako aside and continued "You ever going to do that again Guiche?"
"No. Never." Guiched responded "I just want your forgiveness."
Suzuka looked Guiche in the eye and said "If you mean that, you're going to have to prove it."
Catching the hint, Guiche stood up, sat on Suzuka's bed, and kissed her.
"Alright, I'm convinced." said Suzuka "Now enough of that, is the potion ready?"
"Yes." said Guiche "We just need a bit of who your changing into."
"'A bit of'?" Suzuka asked bewildered
"Like a bit of hair. I got Erlea's off her cloak. Hermione, did you get it?"
"I did." said Hermione pulling a glass vial containing black hair out of her pocket "I got it off mommy's uniform."
"I'm changing into Siesta?" said Suzuka
"Although they were love rivals when they were younger, she, your mother, and Henrietta trust each other to a fault." said Drako "They'll tell each other anything."
"It would be best to interrogate my aunt Henrietta." said Suzuka "Siesta works a day shift at the palace once a week, and that's tomorrow."
"Then tomorrow's when we'll do it." said Guiche "But we also need to make sure that the real Siesta can't bust in on you while you're interrogating the queen."
"I got that worked out." Guiche pulled a piece of wrapped candy out of his pocket "I filled this with a simple sleeping potion. Simple, but powerful."
"Then Suzuka and I will persuade mommy to let us go with her under the guise of wanting to see Henrietta." said Hermione "I think you guys can work out what will happen next."
"Then tomorrow it is." said Drako, and everyone nodded in agreement
Everyone went to bed early that night, anticipating what they were going to do the next day.
"It's been a while since you've seen her Majesty, as I recall." said Siesta on the carriage ride to the palace with Suzuka and Hermione. It was pretty easy for them to convince Siesta to let them come.
"You're right, it has." said Suzuka, who had a bag with her. Inside was the Shape-shifting Potion, and change of clothes, since she would be impersonating Siesta
"I've always wanted to see the palace." said Hermione "What's it really like?"
"Since this is your first time here, I'll save it so you can get your own opinion." Siesta replied with a smile
They reached the palace less than ten minutes later. When they entered, Hermione was in awe, but Suzuka had been there several times before and knew what to expect. When Suzuka spotted a good place to change, she gave Hermione a look, and Hermione knew what to do next.
"Hey mommy." Hermione said taking a couple of candies out of her pocket. They were wrapped in different colored wrappers so they weren't confused "Drako gave me these candies earlier. Would you like one?"
"Why certainly. I had a craving for something sweet anyway" said Siesta, taking the candy that held the Sleeping potion. Within a few seconds of chewing it, she appeared drowsy and fell asleep a second later. Suzuka and Hermione caught her and dragged her into the ladies room nearby.
"How thick can you get?" Suzuka asked, after depositing Siesta in a stall, Suzuka then pulled out the maid clothes in her bag, which were identical to Siestas, and changed into them. They were much too large for her at the moment. She then pulled out the potion, uncorked it, and drank it in two gulps. It tasted like overcooked cabbage.
"Suzuka, are you alright?" Hermione asked after Suzuka swallowed the potion, as she wasn't looking well
"I think I'm going to be sick!" Suzuka said holding herself up on the sink. Her insides felt like they were filled with live snakes squirming around. Her skin felt hot and waxy. She looked herself in the mirror and saw what was happening to her. Her facial features changed to mimic Siesta's, she was getting taller, her hair shortened and turned obsidian black like Siesta's, her eye color turned to the same as Siesta's. As suddenly as it started, it stopped.
Suzuka couldn't see very well, which explained why Siesta wore glasses now, so Suzuka took Siesta's glasses off her face, put them on, and looked in the mirror again. The potion worked perfectly, she was now Siesta's double.
"Guiche's mommy is a genius." said Hermione when Suzuka stopped changing
"I have an hour before the potion wears off." said Suzuka in Siesta's voice "Stay here with your mom." Suzuka left the ladies room and went looking for Henrietta. After a half-hour of searching, she finally found her in the library.
"Oh, Siesta," said Henrietta, who was reading a book on the library couch "I was wondering where you were."
"Sorry I'm late your Majesty." Suzuka answered
"Majesty? Whats with the formality all of the sudden? You've called me 'Henrietta' for fifteen years now." Henrietta asked with a strange look
"So she has." Suzuka thought to herself, feeling stupid
"Oh well." said Henrietta closing her book "Everyone forgets a habit now and again. Sit down and have some tea before you start cleaning."
"I could do with some tea now anyway." Suzuka replied sitting down on the opposite couch "I've been needing to ask you about a few things anyway."
"Ask away my friend."
"Lately I've been hearing a rumor about a dragon behind a door in the underground library."
"I wonder how that got out. But that shouldn't be a surprise to you, you knew about it." said Henrietta taking a sip of tea
"She did?! Oh dear." Suzuka thought to herself
"Something useful for Dragnon to do." said Henrietta, rather coldly
"Dragnon?" Suzuka asked
"Your memory must be starting to slip already. Dragnon, Eléonore Vallière's ex-fiancée, tried to help Omeggadon kidnap Suzuka the night she was born. Remember? So we turned him into a Mountain Dragon to help guard the Ring of Anderville."
"So that's what happened. And Omeggadon tried to kidnap me? That's why he died the night I was born." Suzuka thought to herself "What else is guarding the ring?" Suzuka asked taking a sip of tea
"I thought you might ask that." said Henrietta "You knew about Dragnon, but you weren't told about anything else."
"Now were getting somewhere." Suzuka thought
"I don't know myself what's down there besides that new dragon, but I know who put some things in." said Henrietta "Let me see, Guiche and Montmorency did something, so did Tabitha and Kirche, and I think Tiffania said something about a plant."
"So there are a lot of things guarding the ring." said Suzuka "But I've also been wondering this; why do we need to keep Suzuka and her friends in the dark?"
"Didn't we go over this? It's so we don't cause her any more pain. After all she went through to give us the future we have now."
Suzuka was puzzled by this, but never got the chance to ask what she meant;
"Siesta, did you try dying your hair?" Henrietta asked
"No, why?" Suzuka asked
"Because, and I didn't notice till now, a lock of your hair is dark blue." Henrietta told her
Suzuka realized what this meant, her hour was up, she was changing back to normal. Suzuka excused herself before she changed back even more. The clothes loosened as she made her way back to to room where Hermione was waiting with her still sleeping mother. By the time she got there, she was normal again.
"How did it go?" Hermione asked as Suzuka stripped and began putting her school uniform back on.
"I got a lot of information. Henrietta didn't know all the details, but we were right." said Suzuka, buttoning her shirt "That dragon is guarding the Ring of Anderville, but its just the first obstacle." she did up her skirt "We need to tell Guiche and Drako about this later."
As Suzuka finished dressing, Siesta began to stir.
"What happened?" Siesta asked and Suzuka handed her her glasses
"You suddenly felt drowsy and fell asleep." Suzuka told her
Later that night, Suzuka told Hermione, Guiche, and Drako all she found out, but they too were puzzled by Henrietta's last bit of information. Deciding not to worry about it, they then tried to deduce what else was guarding the ring, but their ideas were just got too wild for them to continue. They also decided to try to get the ring themselves if they caught wind of anything that made it appear it wasn't safe enough.