"May our Lord Sun protect you boy." mother said briefly when the parents returned
"May our Lord Sun protect me." the boy replied reverently and a bit desperately.
He had no idea what his parents were planning but knew one thing from long ago. When his mother held her tentacles so anxiously and father had that steely determination in his eyes that meant only one thing, trouble. After that he just tried to keep quiet and hoped they wouldn't notice him. Father said little but his wife understood what he meant.
Mother thought back about her own youth, she was born into a respectable lower class family where there was always enough to eat. Despite that her parents struggled to find the resources to educate their brighter children and expensive luxuries like intoxicants were rare in their home. Her younger sister Violet was about the same age as her son Blue Tentacles was now, well Terrans would definitely have called her, “she”. Violet Tentacles was caring and nurturing, she was always looking after the younger siblings and anyone else who needed care while the male side of her hermaphrodite nature was less developed.
Then an elderly rich Centaurian turned up and married young Violet and the whole family thought it was a dream that had come true. All the older children started getting the right type of education, when sister Violet visited she looked transformed with rich trappings so the teenager who became the boy's mother felt as if her sister had married Prince Charming. Violet hardly ever glowed with pleasure during visits though before when she lived with the family she had glowed with happiness often and had looked so beautiful every time. Her husband was always with her, never gave her the chance to talk to her own family alone. Mother regretted she hadn’t noticed these ominous signs but she had been too young..... There was that fateful visit. Violet brought a rich suitor for her and mother just couldn’t believe her luck.
The suitor was a younger cousin of Violet’s husband, he wasn't quite as high as Violet's husband but none the less he had an impressive position in the Computer Department of the Great Leader Morowl and that was enough to dazzle her. Her fiancé was charming and considerate, he treated her as if she were already one of his class. Suddenly the young lower class Centaurian saw a wonderful future for herself and her family.
Her fiancé told her he expected her to stay at home, have children and look after the children while he would carry on with his important work for Morowl. The ideal was that both parents would share the burden of pregnancy and child rearing equally as mother’s parents had done and the young Centaurian would certainly have preferred that. In practice marriages where one parent was mother and the other was father to most children happened. Especially when one of the two was much richer than the other the better off Centaurian normally decided who would have the children. Her fiancé promised that when her children were grown up he would arrange good marriages to Centaurians of high standing for all of them. For the young teenage Centaurian practically everything seemed wonderful, her family was doing well, her children would have futures beyond her wildest dreams. All the children in mother's family started getting better education than Centaurians of their standing ever expected. Her parents were so proud of her and of her sister Violet even as Mother was proud too. She knew she had done so much for her family. So early on she never thought that a child’s happiness would be sacrificed to get him a good marriage.
Mother’s wedding day wasn’t as good as she had hoped. Certainly the expensive food and the rich trimmings she and her bridegroom were wearing made her feel really great at first. A talented artist must have designed those beautiful mud containers and the creepy crawlies in those containers were specially bred to taste good. Poor Centaurians who worked for the upper classes had spoken about those things but it was the first time she ever seen or tasted anything like that herself. Mother just wished she could share the good things with the rest of her family, yes the whole family was disappointed and humiliated when the rich family didn’t want them at the wedding and the bridegroom thought low class Centaurians would make a bad impression. Her new husband saw that she minded, well he didn’t seem quite as considerate as he had been. That was just the start and she found out the bad side of her husband’s character after she married him. She learned it gradually and was steadily more disappointed while later she was resigned.
Mother thought further about the endless, dreary time she had been through with her dominating husband. Mother thought about the less dreary times when she tried to stop her husband punishing the children too hard, when she tried to tell them they were worth more than father thought. She couldn’t do much as father was richer and more powerful than she was. At first she couldn't divorce because that would have ended the bright education the younger children in her family were getting. Later she couldn't divorce because he was much richer than she was, he would have controlled her access to her own children and easily could have stopped her seeing them if he wanted. Perhaps she'd lose the children anyway into unhappy marriages. What could she do?