Now here’s a how-de-do. Of course, Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo’s situation was slightly different. I don’t think either of us is due to be executed. At least, I don’t think so, the glare I got from Alec the other day notwithstanding. On the other hand, given her recent reactions, so far, to exotic beings, I might possibly be for the chop when I tell Lalla about my little problem. For the moment, I am content with a time of peaceful companionship, sitting here by the fire with an attractive young lady sleeping, wrapped in a blanket in front of it. A young lady, who, until I got up a little while ago, had been content to sleep in my arms. Chastely, I should point out.
The evening did not start so well. I was struggling with outlining the next chapter of Serendipity Island and in need of a break. I realised I had not seen Lalla for a while, so decided to go and see if she was maybe down by the temple.
A little way down the path to the lookout point, I encountered a new arrival by the name of May. I had barely got past the introductions when Lalla came running up the path, looking somewhat distressed and mumbling about not being able to do it. I called out to her but she just ran. May, quite rightly said that introductions could wait and I should go attend to my friend. I thanked her and headed back towards the flat. Mitternacht was just coming up the path as I turned to go, but I did not have time to do more than nod. I got back to the flat to find Lalla in a terrible state, gibbering about not being able to do it, about it not being real, and something about talking ponies. I tried to hold her in the hope of comforting her, but she fled into the bathroom and under the shower, fully clothed. She was almost in hysterics. Careless of my own clothing, I followed her into the shower and held her, letting her cry on my shoulder, stroking her back and head until she could calm down enough to tell me what was wrong. It turned out to be a combination of things; she is still having difficulty with the time differences between us, with talking cats that can do magic, and then, on top of it all, a talking pony with a phlegm-filled cough. I got the impression that part of her reaction to Mitternacht was that she had some kind of toy as a child that was a little pony and that Mitternacht looked just like it. I suppose I might feel the same if I saw one of my tin or lead soldiers marching up the road and trying to talk to me. I tried to assure her that Mitternacht was harmless, if a little strange.
All I could do was hold her, soothe her, and calm her. I assured her that I was real, that she could see, feel, hear and smell me. I even suggested that if she bit me, she would be able to taste me, probably tasting like rum. That last, a little bit of humour, seemed to get through. I continued to assure her that I was real, that Aoibheann, Anna, Gwyn etc were real and could be trusted, thanking her for her trust in me. This latter caused me a little hurt, for I have yet to reveal my nature, but I really need to find the right moment. She calmed down some more and started to talk about more practical matters, like finding something to do. I told her about Marida and Seven needing clothing, so she has a commission already. I shooed her off to get showered properly and into dry clothing, before taking my turn. Her hair was lighter when she came out of the shower and I remembered her telling me that she had used some colouring. I told her my mother used to use henna sometimes, when the grey started to show.
While I was in the shower, Lalla looked outside and discovered it was snowing. She got quite excited by it and I was reminded of my childhood and the excitement at the first snows of winter. I got the impression that snow does not happen so often where she comes from. I pulled on some more suitable clothes and we went out into the courtyard. Before I realised what was happening, we were running around, throwing snowballs at each other; laughing and giggling like children. She seemed to have better aim than me, but then, it has probably been 20 years since I threw a snowball, apart from one time in Bremerhaven with some of the crew and I started messing around while supervising the loading. Eventually, I caught up with her and grabbed her arms to stop her from throwing any more. She did not seem to mind. It felt rather nice, just standing in the snow and hugging. I had not had so much innocent and pointless fun in a long time, and it quite washed away the self-pity I had been feeling the day before.
We went back inside and I stoked up the fire before shedding those garments now dripping with melted snow. Something seemed to have changed between us, and I think in a good way. She then somewhat surprised me by grabbing a couple of pillows and blankets and setting up a nest on the floor in front of the fire. I was about to tell her that she was very welcome to the bed when she asked me to join her. I must admit, I was a little startled by her forwardness, but maybe things are different in her time. From what Gwyn has told me; that may well be the case. So, I joined her on the pillows and just held her. That is what she wanted. She told me, “I just want to sleep in your arms tonight.” I was somewhat touched, and maybe a little relieved she didn’t want more. There will be time enough for that, if it happens. For now, just the warmth and companionship was enough.