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Mistaken Customs

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“My name is Kara Zor-El,” a small blonde haired girl said forcing her tongue to conform to the strange flick and twist of English syllables. The words stuck to her tongue—unfamiliar and uncomfortable—in her mouth. “Of the Great house of El.”

“I’m Alex—Alexandra—Danvers.” Alex clarified with a lift of one fine eyebrow at the sound of Kara’s slurred English. The dark-haired girl let her eyes roam across Kara’s face, drifting from the rise and fall of her cheekbones to the soft curve of her lips, before she extended her hand to the younger girl. “And,” she said with a nod of her head to the other three people standing in the Danvers’s back garden, “you’ve already met my parents.”

“Jeremiah Danvers and Eliza Danvers.” Kara nodded solemnly in reply. The young girl’s eyes shifted away from Alex’s face, and her expressive brown eyes, to her outstretched hand. “I do not understand the meaning of this gesture.”

“You speak like a sixty-year-old Grandma.” Alex chuckled with a smile. “On Earth this is how we greet people we’ve just met,” she explained as she wiggled her fingers encouragingly before she reached out to take Kara’s dangling right hand with her own to squeeze it gently, “there. It’s called a handshake.”

Kara tentatively closed her fingers around Alex’s hand in return and tightened her grip minutely in response to the flex of Alex’s fingers. Kal-El had been insistent about Humanity’s fragility and the need to relearn the parameters of her own strength before he introduced her to the Danvers. Kara adjusted her fingers around Alex’s hand, reluctant to squeeze despite Alex’s addition of pressure in case she fractured the fragile calcium matrix of the human’s bones. “this is…” Kara paused and pursed her lips, “odd.”

“Well,” Alex smiled as she let her hand hang in Kara’s grip, “how did you greet someone on Krypton?”

“They were announced to me.” Kara replied with a tilt of her head. She held the other girl’s dark eyed gaze as she released Alex’s hand. “I was born to a Great House Alexandra Danvers—The Great House of El—those that required to meet me were introduced to me through my parents and announced before they entered my presence.”

“Oh,” Alex blinked slowly in surprise, “so, you’re something like Royalty then?”

“Royalty?” Kara’s top lip curled ever-so-slightly but she shook her head. “Not Royalty. The House of El is—was—nobility is the closest word in your tongue. My Family are—were—scientists, and scholars—respected and important members of our society.”

“Right,” Alex hummed, “so, how did you acknowledge one another then?”

“With a lift of the hand or a nod of the head, most commonly.” Kara answered, her eyes drawn back to Alex’s long fingers. “We did not tend to touch those not from our House.”

Alex felt Kara’s words wash over her—like a soothing surge from the ocean tide—before they reached her brain. “Wait,” the dark-haired girl pursed her lips and bit the inside of her cheek as she glanced down at Kara’s hand, “did I just… did I do something wrong?”

“Ah,” Kara fidgeted awkwardly on her toes, “yes—and no—Alexandra Danvers.”

“Kara.” Alex ducked her head to meet Kara’s gaze directly. “Please, be honest with me.”

“You were…” Kara grimaced as her mind searched through Kal-El’s hastily given English lessons searching for the correct word. “You were overtly forward?”

“Forward.” Alex blinked. “What do you mean by ‘overtly forward’?”

“Um, on Krypton, touching another meant laying a claim on them.” Kara offered after a moment of silence. “It meant wishing to make them your own.”

“Oh! Oh...” Alex swallowed hard. “I just proposed to you, didn’t I?”

“Oh, um, yes?” Kara offered with a tilt of her head as she watched Alex’s cheeks turn pink. “I did not mean to make you uncomfortable Alexandra Danvers.”

“You didn’t!” Alex promised sharply as she reached out to squeeze Kara’s fingers reassuringly. “I promise.”

“Did you…” Kara pursed her lips and her eyes flickered away from Alex’s soft brown eyes. “Did you not mean to welcome me into your House?”

“Welcome you into my house?” Alex’s eyebrows furrowed in surprise. “What do you mean?”

“Kal-El said that I am meant to join your house.” Kara explained with a nod of her head to her cousin. “He is my closest, living, relative. It is customary for them to arrange my marriage.”

“He didn’t…” Alex’s jaw slackened. “I don’t… I don’t think that’s what he meant Kara.”

“You do not want me Alexandra Danvers?” Kara queried softly as she shifted her weight backwards to draw her hands out of Alex’s fingertips.

“That’s not what I said,” Alex tightened her hands reassuringly around Kara’s fingers as she spoke, “but on Earth… um… engagements take time?”

Kara let her eyes roam across Alex’s face to take in the earnest expression on the other girl’s features. “Engagements?”

“The time between a proposal and the actual marriage ceremony.” Alex said. “On Earth, there’s a gap to plan, and to make sure that the participants are old enough in the eyes of the law to marry.”

“Oh,” Kara murmured, “and when would we be old enough? I slept in The Phantom Zone for twenty-four Earth years…”

“But you are physically still…” Alex let her eyes drift over Kara’s body appraisingly. “Fifteen?”

“Thirteen.” Kara corrected. “In your Earth years.”

“I’m sixteen,” Alex said, “about three years older than you. Here, in America, you have to be eighteen to be old enough to marry.”

“Oh.” Kara frowned. “So, I cannot join your House yet?”

“No, not yet.” Alex said with a soft smile. “But, your cousin, Clark—I mean Kal-El—can’t take you in right now so you’ve got to stay with me and my parents.”

“And we will be… engaged until we can be married?” Kara asked with a tilt of her head and a shy smile.

Alex held the younger girl’s gaze while her heart pounded against her sternum. “I’m not…” Alex babbled nervously before biting the inside of her cheek. “Why don’t we get to know one another first?”

“Get to know one another?” Kara’s eyebrows furrowed into a tight line.

“Um, a period of time to see whether we are compatible or not?” Alex queried. “How did you make marriage arrangements on Krypton?”

“Matricomp—an artificial intelligence—was used to process data and determine a couple’s compatibility.” Kara said before a small smile appeared on her lips. “Before my Uncle—Jor-El—was forced to dismantle it. I suppose, to follow Kryptonian traditions, it would only be right to assess our personal compatibility.”

“Right,” Alex grinned brightly, “on Earth we call that dating.”

“Dating…” Kara rolled the word over on her tongue. “I understand.”

“Do you think we can keep this between us for a while Kara?” Alex asked as she flicked her eyes sideways to glance her at parents and Superman. “Until you’re settled here on Earth, at least.”

“Can we still be dating?” Kara murmured softly.

“Of course,” Alex smiled, “why don’t we start slowly, with holding hands, and then we’ll work up to the rest?”

“The rest?” Kara blinked. “Oh…”

Alex watched as the Kryptonian girl’s cheeks flushed bright pink. “We’ll take our time,” Alex offered and squeezed Kara’s hands, “I promise.”

Kara’s eyes snapped down to watch Alex’s fingers curl around her palms before lifting to peer back into the girl’s soft brown orbs. “I think,” Kara said with a shaky, but sincere, smile, “that you will make a perfect mate Alexandra Danvers.”

Alex’s heart somersaulted in her chest as she answered, but her tone was honest and her words strong, “I hope so Kara Zor-El.”

~

“You know,” Kara murmured as she leaned back into a pair of strong, but human, arms. “I was right back then.”

“Hmm?” Alex hummed questioningly whilst she peppered kisses to the back of Kara’s neck. “What were you right about now?”

“When we met,” Kara explained and tipped her head to the side to give Alex access to her throat, “I said you’d make a good mate. I was right.”

“Oh,” Alex chuckled into the crook of Kara’s neck before she nipped the tender skin softly, “I’m glad you think so Kara El-Danvers.”