Author: Scribbler PM
Pre-canon. Raphael bonds with his mother even as he realises a rich life doesn't suit him.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family/Tragedy - Raphael - Words: 921 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 1 - Published: 01-15-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6655295
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Fishily not mine.
A/N: Written for Challenge #27 'Luxury' at ygodrabble (though this is the extended version).
© Scribbler, January 2011.
Raphael wasn't like other boys. He certainly wasn't like his friends – that is, children he and his siblings were thrown in with at parties so parents could get drunk while servants watched their offspring. Those were high-class children; bloodlines so pure they practically bled blue. Those who couldn't claim even distant royal connections – those who'd built their fortunes through business – displayed their worth in other ways, from hair gel to chauffeurs, tacky novelty private jets and embossing their name on everything they could, including the toilet paper.
You wouldn't catch Niguel Delgado below stairs. Fabio Vargas wouldn't inch into the kitchen. Well-born children didn't do kitchens. Felix Herrera would rather drown in his Olympic-sized pool than watch food being prepared. Then again, Felix Herrera's mother was born into money. She didn't need to learn cookery, sewing or cleaning.
As eldest, Raphael knew more about his parents than his brother or sister. They were just babies leaning how to walk and talk. He was a big boy, trusted with a few secrets. He hoarded these more than any silly watch or cufflinks sent by ignorant relatives on birthdays or Christmas. Those relatives didn't visit if they could help it. His father's shameful marriage was still raw decades later. They sent gifts because otherwise 'people would talk' but Raphael didn't know what his aunts, uncles or cousins looked like. It had made his immediate family draw closer together: us against the world.
Mother didn't always wear glittering frocks. He liked her better in jeans and an apron – even better if it was spattered with flour or some other hint of the things she could make in this, her sanctuary. Later, clinging to memories like barnacles on a departing ship, he fell asleep in a cave remembered her smell – citrus and cinnamon – and how she looked with a blob of purple on her nose after bottling preserves.
"You should be practising your piano," she chided, "I thought I bolted the door."
"It wasn't hard to undo."
"My son, the master criminal," she laughed, but didn't sound angry. Felix Herrera's mother would be apoplectic if he came within three feet of their kitchen.
"I like to watch you." She was beautiful to Raphael's eyes; pouring, measuring and weighing more gracefully than Niguel Delgado's ballerina mother on stage. He thought of her like Cinderella, even though that was stupid because boys weren't supposed to like soppy fairytales.
"You shouldn't keep coming to watch me make a fool of myself."
"You're not a fool!"
"I am," she said softly. "I can't let go even after all this time. I married a wonderful man, became mistress of a sumptuous home, and what do I want most? Just to stay here, below stairs, where I can work until I fall asleep standing up and nobody can see me." She sighed so deeply Raphael wondered if she was actually speaking to him. "But if you insist on sneaking off, you may as well get something out of it. I can't teach you piano, but I can teach you food."
He pulled a face. "Fish eggs!"
"Yes, and delicious if you know how."
He was sceptical, but she talked passionately about the little black spheres. She showed him how to spread them over lightly buttered toast points, squeezing on drops of fresh lemon juice. She filled three dishes, crumbling hard-boiled eggs on one, chopped onion on another and thick, gloopy crème-fraiche on the last. It was like art – much better than anything by Fabio Vargas's mother, whose paintings went for thousands. There was sophistication to the careful food preparation that watercolours lacked.
"You should serve caviar in a crystal, glass or porcelain bowl on a bed of crushed ice, or in a special caviar server with a tiny spoon. Not silver or stainless steel. Those metals give it a tinny taste."
Raphael nodded sombrely.
Mother's voice rose and fell with love. "Classically, you use mother-of-pearl or gold, but wood or glass are acceptable. Plastic would be tacky. My own mother taught me that when she worked for this family –" She stopped, blinking hard.
Raphael knew her life hadn't turned out the way she'd planned – or hoped. He loved all his family, but he always felt closest to her, forever a square peg in a round hole. She wasn't Cinderella, but an ugly duckling waiting to grow into her swan feathers. He knew how that felt. Sometimes he felt such powerful urges to do things well-bred boys didn't do. A motorcycle engine echoed loudly in his back-brain, as did the roar of a Duel Monsters crowd.
He took her hand, crushing fish eggs into his palm. He was born rich, but also cursed with guileless kindness – the sort the world likes crushing as easily as that caviar.
"It still sounds yucky, but you made it look pretty."
She swept him into a bone-crushing hug. "My little boy. You have so many good things ahead of you."
The worst lies are the ones that don't start out that way; like 'I'll never leave you', 'Families stick together' and 'The future is full of wonderful possibilities'.