When I was a lad I served a term
As office boy to an Attorney’s firm.
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor,
And I polished up the handle of the big front door.
He polished up the handle of the big front door.
I polished up that handle so carefullee
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen’s Navee!
Well, one shoe at least has dropped. I now know, in part, what ails Wren. As I suspected, it was something to do with her magic and not being able to use it properly. As a result, there had been an accident, and people had been hurt.
I found her sitting on the steps of the tavern, reading. For once, I got to ask her what she was reading about, and she told me it was a book about archery that Vuk had told her to read. I asked if I could borrow it after her, saying that I quite fancied the idea of making a bow. I told her the quote from Francis Bacon about reading making a full man and mentioned that it was highly likely that he and John Dee had known each other.
Since we were alone, I asked her what it was that she had wanted to talk to me about the other day. She had mentioned wanting to talk to me when we had been talking about her training with Galyanna, but I hadn’t had a chance since. She closed her book and thought about it for a few moments; clearly it was something she was uncomfortable about. She seemed to steel herself and then uttered something in a frantic rush, almost as one word without breathing, before stopping and looking worried.
So far as I could understand it, she thought she had almost killed Hadley and that Hadley hated her now. I hugged her for a few moments and told her to breathe, taking a few deep breaths of my own and telling her to do the same. I told her what I thought she had said and asked her to tell me, slowly, from the beginning. I pointed out that there was just the two of us, so she could tell me anything at all and I wouldn’t be angry, because we were friends.
She told me I couldn’t tell Aoibheann, which I understood completely, and took a few moments to gather her thoughts. I assured her that I would not tell anybody anything she didn’t want me to. The story was that she had gotten mad, not at Hadley, but at things in general, and her magic had leaked out, making a tree come partly to life and start to attack Hadley. She didn’t know how to control it, but she had managed to get it to stop, and broke of a branch instead. However, now Hadley wasn’t talking to her, or so she thought.
I hugged her again and told her I understood completely. I reassured her that I wasn’t going to be angry or judge her. What happened was not because of any malice or intent on her part, it was an accident. There were two things that we could do, I said. One was helping her to recognise and deal with her anger, cope with getting mad, and the other was learning to control and direct her magic.
I wanted to gain a little more of her confidence, so I leaned closer, lowering my voice a little as if I were trying to tell a secret. I told her a little about how vampire bloodlines or clans worked, and in particular, told her how my clan were supposedly prone to outbursts and getting crazy. I said that she had never seen me do that, because I had learned to deal with that aspect of my nature. I thought of all the times Mother had helped me as a child, dealing with the anger and the fear from all the bullying, but that was something to tell her another time. I recalled vaguely having made reference to it in respect of my hair, so I knew she would understand when I did get round to telling her. As to the magic, I said we had already spoken of it, and I was more than willing to help her discover how to use hers, or at least discharge it. Maybe we could learn how to channel it into something less dangerous, like a wind or flashing lights, or making loud farting noises. Despite what Vedis had said, I did not think it was a good idea to try to get rid of it, as it had a habit of popping up.
Besides, I said, trying to cheer her up a little, the magic was part of her. Taking it away might change her and I rather liked her the way she was. Hadley would come round, I said.
She looked at me and quietly asked me to promise that I didn’t hate her, which I did, with a quick kiss on the top of her head. Of course I didn’t hate her. She was worried that maybe she was malicious person and that she did want to hurt people. I assured her that I did not think she was like that, because a malicious person couldn’t make nice bracelets. That distracted her a little, and she started to ask about my clan, but before we could talk about it any further, we were interrupted by Dorina and Hadley, who looked equipped for foraging.
We said hello and Dorina said that they were going to look for herbs, suggesting that maybe they could make some love potions to sell to the villagers. I was not overly impressed with this idea, thinking it inappropriate for somebody as young as Hadley. I kept my response mild, though, suggesting that the villagers seemed quite capable without the help of potions, a view that Wren echoed, with the addition that she didn’t like the idea, because that might lead to more kissing, which was gross.
I went on to say that I thought there were probably things that were more appropriate for Hadley to learn and, adding a little bit of my presence into the suggestion, advised that I could not allow the use of any potion or other magic that would have undue effect on a person without their consent. If people wanted to use potions for their own enjoyment, that was up to them, but using things on other people without their consent, no.
Dorina made a face at me, saying that maybe she should make a fun potion for me and put it in my drink. She then said that she was kidding and that she wanted to teach Hadley the properties of the various herbs, and perhaps make a protection pendant.
Wren seemed amused by the idea of me taking a fun potion, but very sensibly said that making somebody love you with a potion was mean, because it wouldn’t be real love. I told her she was absolutely right in that respect. Then I got up and denied needing potions to have fun. I could sing, I said, giving them a few bars of “When I was a lad” from HMS Pinafore. I could dance, I said, offering a hand to help Wren up and asking if she could remember the steps I had taught her at Maric’s ball.
That lightened the mood a little, and Wren got up, claiming she wasn’t sure about the dancing, thinking she might break my toes. I told her that was part of the fun. Dorina said that we were welcome to join us. Hadley seized on that idea, and used it as a chance to make overtures to reconciling with Wren. Yes, we should join them, she said, because we needed a patrolman, and a… and a Nate to protect them. That got a smile from Wren, who said that they did indeed need men to protect them, and stood to attention, trying to make herself as tall as possible.
I asked where we were going and what we were looking for. Dorina said we were looking for Angelica, and described what it looked like. I remembered Angelica well, because Mother used to candy it, and also remembered her warning me to be careful because there were similar looking plants that were poisonous. We went down to the waterfall just outside the village to search for it, since she thought that was a good place. I gave my usual warning about venturing outside the village until the Accords were in place, but since they were with me, I felt sure we would be ok. I let them go searching, while I relaxed on the bank and kept an eye out for the fae. As it turned out, we were not bothered.
So, now I know, at least in part, what happened with Wren. I am a little concerned still, because I am sure that when we were talking about the accident, she said that she didn’t want anybody else to get killed, which suggests that there may have been a more serious accident. It would not change my view of her, but it means it may be harder to get her over it. The main thing is that she has opened up to me, and perhaps, will open up some more in the future.
Elvis Costello – Accidents Will Happen