I awoke in the familiar surroundings of Valene’s den. I was momentarily alarmed because Gwyn was not with me, but then, she often seems to wake before I do. She appeared moments later, dressed, or possibly glamoured to look like the traditional view of the fairy – all gauzy clothes, with flowers in her hair and round her neck. She had been out for a walk and a wash, and was asking about the boat moored in the river. I asked her if the outfit was fairy chic and sought assurance that there were no thorns there. I then kissed her and asked if she wanted to go sailing. My training has to be useful for something. She gave a little twirl.
“I figured, I’m a fucking fairy, I might as well dress like one from time to time. Do you like it?” She asked. “Can we? Are we allowed to? Will the trees get us?”
“It’s quite charming.” I told her. “I feel I should be dressed to match and start saying ‘Ill met by moonlight’ and such like. Of course, that might be a bit presumptuous now that we have met a faerie queen.” That’s one thing I love about conversing with Gwyn, I don’t have to explain comments like that. She chuckled.
“Surely she can’t hear everything, can she?” She looked around, a little uncertain. “Do you think you’d make a better Puck, or Oberon?” I wasn’t sure of that one, my acting experience having been limited to the Duke of Burgundy in a school production of Lear.
“Hmmm, I don’t know. Puck is possibly more fun. On the other hand, it might be nice to be king of sorts. Which do you think I would be better at? I haven’t acted since a school play.”
“It’s true, Puck is probably more fun. But I guess I see you as sort of kingly. Or, you know, at least princely.” She shook her head as if to clear it, then pretended to gag herself. “Oh, my god; that was beneath me. So beneath me. Please accept my apologies. I promise to talk absolute shit for the rest of the day.” I gave her a mock frown.
“Oh, please don’t. I quite like non-potty mouth Gwyn. So, what shall we do with ourselves? I don’t like the look of that mist around the top of the hill, and I’m not sure I want to go back to the Underhill, just in case there are unicorn briquettes there.”
“You do? I thought you found my coarse manner refreshing and interesting,” she said. “Anyway,it’s all part of the onion, remember?” She paused for a moment. “I don’t know. I’m not afraid to go back there; I always thought Paash was all bark and very little bite, to be honest. And I’ve been walking around a lot; I think I could even find it again if we did decide to go there. I ate berries. They were really nice.”
“You shouldn’t go describing yourself as an onion, not after you designated me as Mighty Slayer of Onions,” I told her. She said that was to do with peeling layers, so I joked about looking forward to that. Before we could decide where to go, Aoibheann turned up, apparently relieved to find us alive.
“Oh, good,” she murmured, “I had feared you got lost.” She paused, looking awkward. “Paasheeluu… she didn’t mean what she said. Sometimes… Well, she’s mad, frankly, and she just says things without really knowing what she’s doing.” I asked if she had managed to reason with her or managed to get the hat away from her, mentioning that I had pretty much said the same thing the previous night. Aoibheann told us that she had managed to calm Paash down, to the extent that she wanted to come and apologise, but for the fact that she had fallen asleep. Gwyn was unconvinced about Paash’ powers, so told her what I had witnessed and Aoibheann told her about a spell making an anvil corrode. Gwyn changed the subject then, getting back to the faerie theme.
“Aoibh, if I told you I was a royal Sidhe and I could control you with my mind, would you believe that, too?” She asked. “Because I can’t. I can’t even lie about it. It’s a good thing I’m learning all about diplomacy, because the longer I am in this place, the more I… It’s like, if I even tried to tell a lie to you, or anybody, even if I really wanted to — my tongue would just stick to the roof of my mouth and I’d have to find some way to bring a truth into it. I think I used to lie a lot. I think lying was just part of my life, like normal stuff you do. Wake up, eat breakfast, lie to your mum, go to school, skip RE, lie to your tutor, go home through the park, giggle about boys, lie to your mum and say you stayed late at school because you had a library meeting. It all seems foreign, unreal now.” A question occurred to her then. “Is Paash a fae?” That, at least, I was able to answer, and explained about Paash being a lich. I wasn’t sure what the purpose of the question was, but it may have been to do with learning about her fae nature. “Never mind then,” she said, claiming that nobody knew less about the fae than she did, and she was supposed to be one. I empathised, pointing out I knew even less, and I was part-fae according to the Queen, and admitted I didn’t know that much about being a vampire, and I had been one of those for eight years or more.
Aoibheann seemed to think I should know more than I did because I had served as Raven twice, and complimented Gwyn on her use of glamour. Gwyn assured her that she was not upset, just admitted she had much to learn. She then stretched and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek.
“You know what? I think I’m going to go for a run. Well, maybe a trot. It’s a bit dense out there. Don’t worry; I’ll be back for meal time.” She turned to go. “I just really want to take a run.” I assumed she this meant she wanted to stretch her unicorn legs for a bit and warned her to avoid any stallions out there. She assured me that they wouldn’t catch her and she was gone. Aoibheann told her to be careful, then, prompted by my comment, asked about stallions.
“Have you seen any stallions?” She asked. “Mother keeps…” She cut herself off, embarrassed, I guessed, by the subject matter. I knew what she meant, having heard Paash lament the lack of suitable males.
“Only the ones in the stables, and they weren’t anything to write home about,” I told her. “I think Paash misses her husband, Star Chaser, I think the name was. Trouble is, the stallions in the stables are probably too common for her, as well as being far too tall.” Aoibheann sighed in reluctant agreement.
“Well, I’m glad the two of you are okay, but I suppose I should likely get back, before she wakes up,” she murmured, not looking entirely thrilled by prospect.
“We’re fine, I said with a shrug. “Gwyn was very upset last night, but I think part of that was other stuff, and the insults from Paash just set her off. She was ok after a while. We talked, and then we came here and slept, since we both needed it. I’m sure you’ll be fine. You did very well with Paash last night.” Aoibheann gave a small nod, but didn’t really seem to believe my assurances.
“She terrifies me sometimes,” she said quietly. “I will see you later.”
“Me too,” I replied, “but I am sure you will be fine. Take care.” She departed in the direction of the Underhill, leaving me to the den and my diary.