It occurs to me that I have spent far too much of my life alone. I do not mean to say that I have lacked companionship or friends, far from it, but, when the day comes to a close, more often than not, it is just me. Sure, there were the digs I shared with my fellow students while studying, and my life with Alexandra; but even that, I was only home one week in four. Otherwise, since university, it has been one long succession of hotel rooms, my cabins aboard various ships, my rooms in London. And the common feature of all of those? Waking up alone, to silence, save for the crackle of a fire, birdsong outside and such like. Waking up beside some lady of the night in a European whorehouse doesn’t really count, and I have not really done that for some years.

So, it was rather nice to have company this morning, even if it was after a night that, so far as I recall, was completely chaste. Lalla was still there and seemed much the better for a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed. We spoke of her possible future as a seamstress and other mundane matters concerning her stay in the apartment. Nothing serious, nothing meaningful, but the novelty of having somebody around was quite refreshing.

I left her attending to her clothing, and possibly to my mending and went to see what more needed to be done at the tavern. Cristof and I had done most of the cleaning the night before, so there were only a few bits and pieces to be attended to. Aoibheann was there, looking distressed and tired, understandably, given the circumstances and Gwyn was there wondering what was going on. I tried to explain, without giving too many details, but Aoibheann seemed annoyed and made some comment about allowing the man his privacy. I hadn’t actually intended identifying the werewolf anyway. Gwyn suggested that maybe Aoibheann should take some time off, have a bath, get some sleep and I backed her up on this. Fortunately, she acquiesced and headed off in the direction of the bath house.

Gwyn was a little annoyed still, apparently feeling left out, excluded. After she made a point about trust, I decided to let her have the full story, trying to explain not wanting to identify Emanuel as the werewolf by analogy with, say, identifying somebody as homosexual when they themselves had not admitted it. We had quite a frank and useful discussion after that and I think, at last, she and I are getting to know each other better. At one point, she dismissed herself as awkward and unlikeable and I countered that the latter was perhaps lack of self-confidence hidden behind the smart talking.

Much of our conversation was about changes in attitudes towards homosexuality in her time. Naturally I was interested because of that part of Edmund’s background. To my pleasant surprise, I learned that while there is still discrimination in her time, being ‘gay’ as she called it was mostly accepted; and that men could even be joined in a civil partnership much akin to marriage. I realised after a while, that my enthusiasm might have given her the idea that I was a homosexual too. Not that this would seem to bother her, or indeed me, but for the sake of accuracy, I stated my lack of experience in that field, and explained about the book and Edmund. We also spoke of divorce and unmarried relationships being more accepted and even something she called polyamorous relationships. I liked that word, thinking it akin to polygamy, but without the marriage bit. It was a pleasing conversation if only for the fact that the society I am positing in Serendipity Island may not be too far from the truth, or, at least, the truth of Gwyn’s time, in my future. I had meant to mention young Grayson in respect of my limited experience, but the conversation veered a bit and I did not get back to the point. I must ask her about the economic future next time.

Lalla came in briefly, but I think Adam was bothering her. Either that or she had stomach ache. She did not stay long anyway. Gwyn went off to do her thing, leaving me alone in the bar for a while. After that, I just had the one customer in Cicely. She seems to have settled in a bit more. She asked about the various fantastic creatures, so I told her what ones I knew of on the island, without revealing where I stood in that role-call. These creatures were only fiction to her and I explained how they had been to me as well, before I took a different path and found that they were real. I opined that perhaps the writers of those fanastical tales might have known more than they thought and that in some ways, they were already real. I don’t know how we got onto the subject of history, but I did relate how the Wars of the Roses ended, which seemed to disappoint her. Perhaps she was on the side of the House of York. The conversation ended on a more cheery note, talking of celebrations and festivals, and what might be planned for Yuletide.


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