People Change

I’m not usually given to moody introspection, but events of late have given me pause for thought. First of all, there was Helene believing that I had changed, though I wonder how much of that was her and how much she has been influenced by others. Of course I have changed, over the years. I am no longer that shy, book-loving boy who was bullied at school. I am no longer the young sailor drinking and whoring my way around European ports. I am no longer the innocent and ignorant young vampire that fetched up in London, nor am I the slightly less inexperienced vampire who took that boat ride to Jasper Cove, or crossed the bridge to Ashmourne Wylds. And now, without even being entirely sure how, I find myself being a warrior and a leader, a person of power. I have never sought such things, but here I am. I hope it hasn’t changed me. They say that power corrupts, but I hope I have managed to avoid that. On the other hand, if Helene, who has always been so close a friend, thinks so, perhaps others do. I do not know. I shall have to be sure to watch myself carefully, but on the other hand, I must not let that stop me doing the right thing. I am charged with the protection of this village, and I cannot allow self-doubt stand in the way of that.

Another cause for introspection was the conversation I had with Gwyn. I have always thought myself open-minded, and not prone to possessiveness or jealousy, and yet, I have to confess that I allowed that green-eyed monster a place in my thoughts. And, reflecting on it, I must confess to being guilty of a certain amount of hypocrisy, in a way I had not really thought of before. I charge myself and I convict myself, and I have to live with that. And that is something I will have to change.

I was taking a break from my stewarding duties in Maric’s chambers, they being one of the few places I can get away from the noise and crowding of the vaults. I do not like to do so often, when the rest of the villagers don’t have that option, but I have found it is the only place where I can attend to the administrative side of things without interruption. Gwyn came looking for me, and, to be honest, I welcomed the interruption, and the opportunity for some non-judgemental company. I had not seen her in a few days, what with my duties and hers as leader of the Seelie.

After our usual greetings, I towed her over to the couch, poured some wine and asked her if she thought I had changed. After what Helene had said, I needed another opinion. She told me that I was older, not in age, but experience and wisdom, and asked how things had been. I told her about the conversation with Helene, and what she had said about me and the ‘maiden in Maric’s bed’. I gave her a little background on my relationship with Helene for context.

She took my hand, squeezing it, and I got a sense of how she was changing, something I had noticed since she told me of her anointing. She had a sense of confidence and authority that reminded me of Faermorn and Saone. She told me I had grown, both of us had. She agreed that she hadn’t trusted Maric much, but that she trusted my judgement. Perhaps, she suggested, it was that Helene had known the younger me, and was not used to who I was now. Sometimes, change can be hard on those around us. She leaned closer, shedding petals into my lap. She said that maybe it was like growing up as a child. You don’t notice it, but aunts and grandmothers, who only see you occasionally, do notice that you are getting taller.

I retrieved one of the petals, tucking it into my shirt as a souvenir. I don’t really know why. It wasn’t as if there ever seemed to be a shortage of them. I told her that I didn’t really have much in the way of aunts, only Father’s sister, who we didn’t see often. I told her that Father’s mother, Granny Evadne, had died when I was young, so that only left Nanny Siobhan, my maternal grandmother. She, of course, would always remark on my growth when we saw her. I told Gwyn a little more about Helen’s background and mentioned Raziel, so that she would know that he was not welcome here. She made a note of that and then asked how we could grow if we did not change. I had to laugh at that, telling her of all the things I never imagined would happen to me, including being in love with a faerie queen, or, at least, nearly a faerie queen. That gave me the opportunity to ask how things were on that front.

Then came the revelations. Things were not as they had been since we had last lain here together on this couch. She asked if I wanted to do this here, or would I rather go where we were not so connected to the land. I told her that I was chock full of Wyld and who knows what else, and I seemed to be ok, so I would chance it and jokingly asked if she was pregnant by the forest god to repopulate the sithen.

She was not, but she had other things to tell me. She had been summoned to the Summerlands, by the one anointed as the Unseelie King. He had called for his Queen, and she was the one Summoned. She blushed as she told me this – she was now the Queen and she now had a King. She seemed worried about my reaction, twining her fingers in mine. I was not sure what to make of this and asked for clarification. So far as I knew, the Summerlands was the fae equivalent of heaven, and I didn’t know how an Unseelie and Seelie could be King and Queen. I then asked who this King was.

The King is Janus, formerly Faermorn’s chief Raven, who I only knew vaguely from my negotiations regarding the foraging. I was rather surprised, but on reflection, unlike the Seelie Court, I had not seen any Princes or Princesses in the Unseelie Court, so maybe he was the most senior Unseelie left. She told me that there were too few of the blood left in the land, and so they had decided to unite the two Courts, Seelie and Unseelie. They would be King and Queen together, though they would not marry formally, and both would be free to choose their own consorts. I felt a little cold in me, for she then said that she hoped her relationship with him would not dim my love for her. Relationships among those of the blood were complicated and she would need to be with him, because of him being the King, and together, making the land. But, she said, I was still her heart. I was not sure I wanted to know the answer to my next question, but I had to ask – did they have to do more than call each other King and Queen?

Yes, was her answer. Together they make the land, and the magic that makes that was physical. I could not help but stiffen for a moment, a cold sensation clutching at my insides. Could his be jealousy I was feeling? I had to confront that, face that part of me, because while one part of me was hurting, another part of me was telling me I was not being fair. And, I had to admit my feelings, and the conflict I felt. I had to reason with myself, doing so aloud. I confessed that I had thought nothing of such things when we had taken Valene to our bed, had not even considered the possibility of jealousy when I was making love to her. Admittedly, that was slightly different in that it had been a mutual decision and we had all three been together. I also had to admit how close I had come to making love with Faermorn, when that offer was open to me at my Quickening. Again, I had to confront myself, though this I did not speak of at the time. I had to confront myself with how easily I could have resumed my relationship with Giada, or made up for lost time with Helene. Even though I had not done so, I had wanted to. Did I have any right to claim exclusivity? Was I just being a fool? I knew the magical lore and the mythology about kings and queens and their relationship to the land, and I knew full well from history that relationships between kings and queens rarely had anything to do with love. I chastised myself mentally. I did not like it, but I had no right to complain. I took another drink and told her that I would probably take a while to adjust. But, this was faerie, and they do things differently there. But, I still had to know, was I still her number one?

Always, she said, nuzzling against me. My body reacted, the Wyld in me stirring as it recognised hers. Even without that, I knew that I still loved her, still wanted her, and still needed her. But, we were more than mere lovers now, more than just two people. She was Queen of her people, and I had the charge of an entire town in my care. We were more than just ourselves. We kissed, and desire stirred deeper. But, she had one more thing to ask. She asked me, rather elaborately, if I would consent to being the Queen’s Consort. I did not know how to answer that – was she proposing, or was this some sort of job offer? Her answer was not entirely clear. It was not a job, I suppose she meant in the sense of being work, but it was an official place in her Court, and it also meant never having to doubt that I was number one. I asked if there was some sort of ceremony, joking about having nothing to wear. We could have one, if I wished, but all that was needed was that she, the Queen, name me as Consort. I accepted, and we kissed again. What passed thereafter is not for these pages, for some things should remain private.

So; I am to be Consort to the Faerie Queen, yet not her King. And, I had come so close to being an unofficial consort to another Queen, now gone from us. And, my Queen and I share our bed with another fae Queen. Nothing is ever simple any more. There are questions I cannot ask, some I dare not ask, and part of me feels lost, confused, and hankering for the simpler life that I had before I stepped into that apartment on GrazerStrasse, before the world I thought I knew became something totally other. But, I am not that man any more. I am part of something much bigger now. People change. The question is; have I changed enough? Can I change enough? Can I change into what I must become, and still be me? I don’t even know where to start.

 People Change – Nick Lowe

 

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