Summary: 12 year old Steffan is gong back to school and his mother has gone with him to see him off, but her attention seems to be elsewhere...

Disclaimer: The Masque = not mine

The young boy was excited. School was about to start again and he was going back. This meant that he would not only go overseas but that there would also be a whole month before he would see his mother again. In person that is, he could always call her, given she had the time to talk to him…

Steffan looked around, a frown creasing the brow of the child's beautiful face. Where was his mother? He was so sure that she'd been with him just a minute ago. He turned around and found her.

Josefine Kabala, better known as Madame Kabala, was at the moment very busy talking to a gentleman in his mid-thirties. Steffan recognized him as the father of a girl in the same year as he, her name was Susie and she was standing next to her father looking between the man and the woman as they spoke. Steffan went to join them.

He was well aware of that Susie had a crush on him, and the girl was cute but he didn't feel the same for her as she felt for him. He didn't think he'd ever felt anything like that for any girl. The only time he could recall feeling something more than just care, friendship or some other form of platonic love was when he two years earlier had come to encounter those beautiful hazel eyes. Thinking of them had a smile making its way onto his face.

Susie, who had no idea of what he'd been thinking and that was standing facing him, thought that the smile was for her so she wasn't late to return it.

Returning from his daydream Steffan turned to his mother. She'd come with him to see him off, but instead she seemed more interested in flirting with men.

"Mother," he called for her attention.

"Just a second, puppy," she said not taking her eyes of her male companion.


"Not now, puppy"

"But mother…"

This time she did turn to him.

"I said not now!" she hissed, just barely raising her voice.

Steffan lowered his eyes.

"Okay," he said quietly. "I understand. I'm sorry." He turned and began to walk away. "Good bye mother."

He headed for the craft, which other kids had already started boarding, that would take him away, but the boy hadn't got far when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He halted but did not turn.

Josefine crouched down in front of him so that their faces were leveled.

"I'm sorry, puppy," she said. Steffan looked back into her eyes, she seemed sincere. "Mommy got a little carried away with what she was doing, but didn't mean to hurt you." She tilted her head, giving him a sad look. "Forgive me?"

He looked at her, undecided for a moment, and then he nodded.

"I forgive you," he said.

His mother smiled and pulled him into a hug.

"That makes me so happy, puppy," she said into his ear.

Steffan smiled as he hugged his mother back. His mother loved him, he thought.

He didn't see the glance she threw in the direction of the young, remarkable rich, gentleman who stood with his young daughter whose mother he'd recently divorced. Steffan didn't know that his mother with her actions hoped that this fine gentleman would consider her a fit stepmother for his little girl.