Keep Me Warm*

 

I do not lack for company, or friends, old and new. I like to think that I am always there for them. Sometimes, they are there for me, which can only be a good thing. Sometimes, in unexpected ways.

When I was much younger than I am today, I would sometimes go camping with my brother, Gilbert.  It was not so great an adventure as it might sound.  We did not pack up our tents and hike into the middle of the moors, for there were none such close to home. No, the camping that Gilbert and I undertook was a much more modest affair. For a start, we were barely out of earshot of home, in a small copse that backed on to our parents’ house. Our tent was a makeshift affair, fashioned out of old ropes and tarpaulins and strung from a tree branch. Our beds had once seen service as canvas bench seats in an old charabanc.  We would set up a small fire and sit around it, making toast and telling outrageous tales of ghosts and monsters, going to bed very late and sleeping until the sun woke us late in the morning.  Now, of course, I know that those monsters, and possibly the ghosts, are real, and I am one of them. I wonder what Gilbert would make of that?

Why is this relevant?  Well, that was the last time, not counting an occasion during my university years, when my house-mates and I got very drunk and ended up falling asleep in a London park, that I ever slept outdoors.  That is, until this past night.

My last journal entry was not entirely accurate. I did, indeed go to the stone, but it was not until the morning that I returned to the castle. As I left the tavern, I had briefly spotted a figure that might have been Aerodine close by the tavern, but I did not stop, I just wanted out of the castle. I went to the stone, seeking a quiet spot to calm myself down but I found much more.  Aerodine must have followed me shortly after I left, and found me hunched into a ball, leaning against the stone and muttering “oh shit” over and over again. I did not even see her until she called my name and I looked up to see her standing there, looking concerned. Maybe I did need company after all, or perhaps it is something about her.  I do not know, but just seeing her made me feel better. She sat down and offered comfort and a shoulder, ok, a knee, to lean on.

She managed to calm me down, but was curious about what it was I had done.  Particularly, how I had managed to stop Cristof in his tracks. I was not entirely sure how to answer that, given that I don’t actually know myself, but also because whatever it is, it is a vampiric ability. I told her that I did not know; only that it was an ability I seemed to have. She seemed to accept that, and then said that I was strange for a human. There was nothing for it, I had to fess up. After a moment of confusion caused by me using the term kindred, she understood me. Despite my fears, she was unperturbed. For all that she reacted, I might as well have confessed to being a tennis coach or something.  She spoke instead about me being touched.  Not mentally disturbed, but having connections to the fae, possibly through my mother.

I don’t know if it was some kind of magic I couldn’t sense or just her presence, but I was becoming more and more relaxed. I found myself speaking about Mother, her love of the outdoors, of plants and herbs, her love of books.  I even told her about Father, of whom I rarely speak in these pages. I spoke of many things that I haven’t spoken of to many people, of the values each of my parents gave me and how they formed me, and she listened without judgement. Her presence was a life-affirming thing in itself. The undergrowth surrounded us, making a safe place for the two of us, a special place and I took some comfort there, from her kindness, her warmth and much else. What else we spoke of and what else passed and how she gave of herself, I shall write of another time. Suffice to say, the whole night passed and it was early morn before I took my leave of her and returned to the castle, much refreshed, and in much better spirits than I had left it.

 

* Elaine Morgan/Rose Among Thorns

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