Is it wrong that I like being beautiful? I worry sometimes that it makes me seem shallow. Of course, if I knew more, I could use that misconception to my advantage: it worked pretty well with my students. It feels like forever ago now, but I used to get such a kick out of their reactions when into the postgraduate meet and greet I’d walk at the beginning of each new term. Students who already knew me would greet me like a friend, and then they’d stand back to watch what happened. I’d come in a few minutes early, work the room for a little bit, get hit on by the smooth boys who thought they were already screenwriters, then casually walk up to the front of the classroom, sit on the desk, and introduce myself. How funny! Of course, once I identified myself as The Lecturer, I’d become sexless to the ones who put people in little boxes, and I only interested the students who wanted something from me. After that point, it wasn’t all that much fun.
Yesterday, everyone ended up back at the cavern for drinks. Bella was big! It was so cool to see her big — she said she’d glamoured herself in her sleep and just didn’t bother to change herself when she woke up.
She says this happens when she has dreams about being big; sometimes she just wakes up that way. That made me laugh. At some point, she looked down at Rachel’s hooves and said they needed a pedicure. Once we got Aoibheann out from under the table in the cavern (more on that later), Aoibh mentioned that she knew a little bit about goat’s hooves and she’d be happy to look at Rachel’s if Rachel would be OK with that. Rachel kept asserting that she was not a goat, but Aoibh finally convinced her to let her have a look. I guess in Aoibheann’s time, everybody had to know a little bit of this and that in order to survive, and she clearly knew a lot about hooves — or a lot more than any of us, including Rachel.
Poor Rachel — I sometimes think that I’ve been misjudging her for a long time. She’s like me: stuck in a new life with no clue as to how to proceed. She just hasn’t been as lucky as I have been with friends. And there’s that little thing about influencing people to do things that might get them killed. Then again, considering the general ignorance she seems to have about her nature (which is nothing more or less than my ignorance about my own nature; it’s just a fact), maybe she didn’t even know she was doing it. She’s just as far out of her element as I am, I suppose, except she doesn’t seem to have as good a memory as I do for what people tell her. That’s not surprising: I’m sort of trained to remember things, given my background. And whether or not I’ve been lucky is a point of debate, but that’s for another entry: right now I am talking about Rachel’s hooves and the care and cleaning thereof.
As it turned out, Aoibh had had another run-in with Braeden, the sluagh. But I didn’t know the details of that until later. When we got her out from under the table, where she was curled in a half-fetal position, she seemed to find some comfort in concentrating on what she knew: namely the cleaning of hooves. Nathaniel lent her his pocketknife, which had an attachment for hoof cleaning (because I guess any good 19th century guy would have one of those just lying around), so she showed Rachel where things were getting into her hooves that could cause her pain later. She even removed a rock! Poor Rachel said she hadn’t had any pain yet, but she could both see and feel the difference when Aoibh showed her the cleaned hoof next to the one that hadn’t been done. For me, it was just so nice to see Aoibheann and Rachel sitting down and having a conversation like two normal people, instead of going for each other like cats on a ledge. I hope it happens more often; they might need one another one day, and I’m not going to be around forever, of course.
Bella wanted to paint Rachel’s hooves pink. I could tell Rachel really didn’t want pink hooves. I was already feeling bad about the dress, particularly after some things Gabrielle (who is not to be called Gabi, no, no, no!) said earlier. Gabrielle had shown up in a beautiful dress, and she said she could make one for Rachel, since whoever dressed her had no fashion sense whatsoever. I was proud of myself for not flying into a rage when she said that. Instead, I apologised, and after Gabrielle left I suggested to Rachel that she see about having that dress made. It really was a nice dress. Her hooves ended up being rainbow coloured, but at least it wasn’t my fault.
Once things had quieted down and it was just the four of us in the cavern, I got Aoibheann to open up about what had happened to put her in that state. She was her usual self about it: all doom and gloom and talking about how her life was meaningless — I swear, I have never met anybody who would benefit more from prolonged therapy and a good dose of the antidepressant of her choice than Aoibheann. I wonder if you can get St. John’s Wort to grow here in this place; maybe I’ll ask Renata.
The story she told turned me incandescent with fury, and I will be having words with people and taking steps to have that fucking sluagh nightmare Braeden exiled or executed for what he’s done. I don’t know how it works in sluagh-land, but I know being an oath breaker is the worst thing you can do. And he has certainly broken the oath we made together. He kissed Aoibheann again last night, turned her to stone again, left her with his nightmares and her nightmares, and I will not have it. I have written a note to Valene, asking for her advice on the matter, but if necessary I will have the meeting with the sluagh Queen herself, though the thought of a being like Braeden only more powerful terrifies me. Aoibheann is too near broken to fight for herself, so I will have to fight for her, because living in a world without her is not acceptable to me. And since things are shortly going to change, a lot, I feel I have to tie up as many loose ends as possible, as quickly as I can.
Sophia came round after that. As usual, she stayed long enough only to say she was going, how nice it was up at the castle. She tempted Nathaniel and me with books. I don’t understand why she never stays more than a moment or two, but her constant suggestions that we take shelter at the former Castle Shithole are getting downright creepy. I’m beginning to wonder if she is somehow an agent of that guy, Lord Maric, Lord Marcus, whatever his name is, the one Padishar doesn’t trust and told me to investigate. Fact is, I’m so creeped out by the whole place I don’t know if I can fulfil that part of our agreement. But I’ll do my best. And my upcoming confrontation with the sluagh queen might give me some things to tell him, as well. Because after what happened later, I dare not think of revealing anything at all about the movements of the seelie court — but again, that’s for another entry. I don’t know why I’m so precious about it: all I’ll really need to do is turn the page and add a title. But I am, and that’s it, and there you have it. Everyone went to bed after that, even Aoibheann. But I couldn’t sleep.