Paint a Picture*

I really like it in the Seelie Sithen.  It is much more stylish than the Unseelie one and a darned sight more comfortable. Sadly, I don’t know how much longer I will be welcomed there. I left the place for a while, to attend to my nutritional needs, which, unlike the Unseelie sithen, did not seem to be provided there. I went up to the village and I managed to find one of the few villagers abroad who was amenable to my suggestions, having been a willing donor before.

When I returned, I went back to the gazebo where I had previously found Gwyn, but she was not there.  The floor was currently occupied by Blaise and Aislyn, who seemed, how shall I put this, occupied with each other?  Given what Gwyn and I had done the previous evening in the nearby pool, I was hardly one to judge, so I apologised for intruding and retreated gracefully, confining my comments to a privately uttered one about the place being a marble version of Fiendish Pleasures. Blaise did look up as I was passing, claiming that they were doing some healing. Perhaps he was right. I do remember there was a song on the box of jukes by a Mr Gaye on that subject. At least it made a change to the shouting and punching that they were doing to each other the previous evening.

I found Gwyn in another gazebo nearby. She was sketching something in one of her notebooks when I turned up, which she initially closed, but then showed me one sketch. It was a warm, loving study of Aoibheann, naked, in the pool we had used the night before. It was very tasteful, since the water covered everything below the waist and her hair covered everything else necessary for modesty and decency. I complimented her on her talent, and joked that we should probably not tell Aoibheann that I had seen pictures of her naked.

It seems that whatever crisis was going on outside has died down. I knew that Valene was still alive, albeit injured, because Royce had stopped by while I was out of the sithen to tell me so. On the one hand, we were happy that the crisis had passed, but on the other hand, that might mean that my refugee status would be revoked and I would no longer be able to spend time with her in the sithen.  At least, not unless I managed to have a discussion with her majesty and get myself declared as friend of, or ally to, the court.  Gwyn did suggest asking the prince, but I pointed out, with a nod over my shoulder, that he was ‘busy’. Gwyn, as ever, put it delicately and succinctly – “those two are either fighting or fucking” – which made me laugh. I recalled that there had been times when Alexandra and I had been like that. That brought up the possibility of Gwyn and I fighting, which I had to agree was possible. We talked about the ways we could minimise that problem and eventually decided on using a safe word when either of us was annoying the other.  That word will be jabberwocky, and no, I don’t know why she came up with that.

I asked if there was news of the unlamented Rachel. All she could say was that she wasn’t dead yet, as she would have known about it. She didn’t really care any more. As far as she was concerned, she was finished with trying with Rachel any more. Attacking the kittens was the last straw.

Which, of course, was the cue for Valene to arrive.  She looked tired, bloodied, and almost at the end of her tether. We gathered her into a group hug and she clung to us as if we were a life-belt. She told us that she had lost a lot of her energies in the fight and in saving Prince Blaise. Then she turned to me, looking lost.  Our Lady of Lust was gone, she told me, she had fallen on the field and the Horned One had told her to be gone. That shook me. I had never been close to Vedis, not like Valene had been, but I had still considered her as a friend. I tightened my hug and told her how sorry I was; asking if there was anything I could do. I even offered my vitae if that would help. For a moment, she looked tempted, but told me she needed food, flesh food that would not be welcomed in the sithen.

One of the smaller Cait appeared. I think it was the one called Sian, with a message for Valene. Galyanna was calling for her, needed her.  Valene told Sian that she would be along soon, explaining that she needed to speak with us some more. She had to answer that call as Galyanna was still part of what little was left of the Seid family, so she could not refuse. She told us to stay out of danger and look after the Cait for her. She also suggested that we stay close to Prince Blaise, who had helped her to heal.  I asked if there was anything further I could do, as her Sigil.  She just hugged us both fiercely, and kissed us both hard, urgently. That sort of kiss I was used to from her, but this was the first time I had seen her do the same to Gwyn. Gwyn did not seem to mind at all, as she hugged Valene back and told her she loved her. Valene hugged us all again, telling us we were her family now, and she would kill to save us.  With that, she was gone into the shadows, out into the Roads again.

Gwyn and I held each other for a moment. It felt good to be family. The gods know I miss my own biological family enough.  I kissed her and for a moment, I could taste Valene’s mint on her mouth as well as her own mint scent. A double-mint special, I joked.

Gwyn asked how well I knew Vedis. For a moment, I thought she was asking if I had ever been intimate with her. I told her about Fiendish Pleasures, how Vedis had been the manager there and how I was a member of the club. I told her that I was friendly with Vedis, but never part of her intimate circle. As for anything sexual, I could safely say I hadn’t – she was far too scary and I very much doubted I could have afforded her services anyway.

I had misunderstood the question. Gwyn said that she had been afraid of Vedis when she encountered her in Jasper Cove, and since coming to the Seelie, had been told that she was the enemy. And yet, there were people who considered her a friend. For a moment, I felt a sense of déjà vu, recalling conversations with Aoibheann.

“She was a demon,” I told her, “a very powerful demon. She always dealt honourably with me in London.  As an individual, she was fine; I would almost have considered her a friend, albeit not a close one. But when politics get involved, then the demons are considered the enemy of the fae.  Just as, back in London, I was friends with Sophia’s mother, even though she was Sabbat and I was Camarilla – traditional enemies.”

I got the impression, from what Gwyn was saying, that there seemed to be a bit of a gulf between what she was being told in her lessons and how people acted. I suggested that maybe they just liked giving the broad picture – it being a lot easier to say that X is the enemy, rather than going into the complicated details. Maybe, I suggested, they will give the more complex picture in later lectures. She couldn’t wait for those lectures. She was fed up with being told this that and the other, and then seeing people do the opposite. I told her that she should wear her dutiful student smile, nod politely and then do what she thought the best.

We joked a bit about the Prince and his amorous activities, which reminded her of the previous night. She placed her finger on my pulse point and asked how it was going. I shrugged and managed to reproduce the feeble, irregular post I had managed earlier. Perhaps I needed more stimulation, I suggested. The conversation turned more personal after that, including spending time together with books, putting the world to rights and having a kitten – other than our adopted Cait. And thus passed, pleasantly, the rest of our evening.
Sexual Healing, in case you couldn’t guess…

* Jessie Paints a Picture


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