Behind the screen of kelp, Tamaki almost felt calm, which would have been easier if the principal of the school wasn’t trying to placate his mother. His ears flicked up and down with the pitch of her voice as he hid behind her, trying his best to attract as little attention as possible, which was difficult considering the conversation was about him. He startled when the tense, but civil mood was broken and his mother started to raise her voice even more.
“You’re saying that you, the principal, cannot do anything about students harassing my son?” She snarled, baring her sharp fangs. She wrapped two of her tentacles around Tamaki in a hug, careful of the injuries to his tentacles, and squared her shoulders. She always got like this when she was angry, and while she was his mother, it did nothing to soothe his frazzled nerves. The teachers didn’t do anything about the bullying, so why would the principal? Tamaki didn’t find any of this surprising, but decided not to voice any of his opinions. It’s not like they would listen to him.
Hoping to tune out the conversation, Tamaki focused on a nearby strand of kelp, how it swayed and the way that bubbles seemed to collect on one side more than the other. He just needed to breathe. Breathe and focus on relaxing his rising shoulders and shaking hands. Unfortunately their voices continued to rise and it became harder to ignore their simmering conversation. Tamaki looked over as the portly principal flared his fins. His mother’s display clearly intimidated him, but he did his best to conceal it. “It is not my job to monitor the actions of every student here, Mrs. Amajiki. If the students are to be believed, it would seem that your very own son is at fault.”
Tamaki’s mother lowered herself at the remark, and narrowed her eyes. “Explain.” The principal appeared to regain some confidence and cleared his throat, “Some students are saying that your son is using black magic to manipulate and harm others. That simply cannot be allowed at our school.” A familiar excuse that she had heard before from his previous schools and one that Tamaki had anticipated. Even after all these years, the belief that Sepiidae were evil still hadn’t died; some wouldn’t even entertain the idea of integration.
Tamaki’s mother inhaled and exhaled until her seething subsided. Tamaki looked up to see her jaw clenched in anger and noticed how hard she was trying to keep her own emotions and magic in check. He turned towards the principal to see his face pale, quickly losing any of his previously gained confidence. “While I respect your position, I have to refute these claims. My son’s magic is not strong enough to hurt anyone. He hasn’t even learned the basics of black magic yet, so I don’t see how you are even considering these claims,” she scowled.
The principal balked, not having a proper reply for the furious mother. She continued. “If you’re going to let this behavior continue, I’m going to have to withdraw my son from your institution. Good day.” With that, Tamaki’s mother took a hold of his hand and led him out, passing by curious onlookers. Other parents ushered their children behind them, wary at the sight of their tentacles. Though this happened constantly, it still felt like a jab to his heart.
“Hearts,” his mother once corrected him. “Octopuses have three hearts, not one.”
When the pair were far enough away from any inquisitive ears, Tamaki’s mother leaned down and gave him a glum smile. She looked him in the eyes and sighed when she saw his downcast expression. “Tamaki, you need to remember. Even though we’re octopus mer, we are not monsters, witches, or evil, no matter what others say. We’re mer, just like everyone else.We live in the ocean just as they do. We’re mermaids, mermen, and merkids as well. The only thing that makes us different is our ability to use types of magic that others can’t. Do you understand?”
Tamaki pursed his lips and nodded, not having enough courage to respond. “That’s good. Tamaki, if anyone ever hurts you again, please don’t put off telling me,” his mother said. Tamaki nodded, tears welling up in his eyes. His mother sighed once more, and wrapped her arms around him. “Come here, dear. I’m just worried for you. It’ll never be trouble to move, as long as you’re safe and happy.” Tamaki sniffled and nodded, finally returning the hug. Tamaki hoped that next time will be the final time that they have to move because of him.