But I couldn’t sleep. So I pulled on the first thing I found, which turned out to be a blue nightdress, and I walked for ages, up to the tor and into the seelie sithen. I just knew I’d be happy there. Only it wasn’t quiet; this time there was a man there.
He seemed very serious, grave, even. But Bella had told me I should come and seek folk out here, that I would be accepted for who I really was. Must find out if Bella has some sort of mental deficiency.
Prince Blaise, as he introduced himself to me, was very interested in my background. Where had I grown up, where was I born, that sort of thing. He seemed almost shocked that I’d been raised by humans. I didn’t pick who raised me, Mr High & Mighty, so go fuck yourself with a stick. Don’t worry: I didn’t actually say that. I thought things were relaxing a bit; he’d welcomed me to the sithen and told me I could dig through the archives as much as I liked, that I should present myself to the Queen as soon as possible; he even offered to introduce me if I felt shy.
“It’s funny,” I said. “Where I come from, no one ever gets to meet the Queen, and since I ended up in Jasper Cove, I’ve met three Queens. Four if you count the bugs.”
“Sidhe royalty,” he replied, “are as common as flies on a carcass; just do not cross them.”
Then, I felt comfortable enough to name some names. I told him I had a good relationship with Valene, and that while I’d sworn no fealty to anybody, Queen Faermorn had offered us her protection when the Former Castle Shithole was torn apart by angry trees (apparently).
Whereupon he disinvited me from the sithen and informed me that for her to protect me meant I had become her subject. (As an aside, I’ll bet Aoibh will have something to say about that.) He told me I was not welcome.
It was like — it was like meeting your birth mother and having her tell you she never wanted to meet you; go away. Suddenly I was crushed and furious and hurt and full of self-righteous indignation, all at the same time. I told him I belonged nowhere then, that when our homes were destroyed hers was the only had that reached out to help us. And where the screaming holy fuck was the seelie court during all that shit, hm? Nobody from the light side offered open passage to us.
Either something I said changed his mind, or he was toying with me the whole way through — and either way I’m still not sure I like him — but he told the lioness, Sia (did I mention there was a lioness? I got ahead of myself, because this is all still pretty raw and new in my head) to stop me. Which she did by putting herself physically between me and the path to the sithen exit and plopping her foot down on top of my foot. Fine, I thought.
“Now what?” I asked. I was crying; it wasn’t pretty. “You said I could not be welcomed here, so I am going. And I might very well ask, as I have more times than once, where the starving fuck were you all? Where was Isabella? Where else was I meant to go?”
Prince Blaise said, “Little one, I mean only to teach you; you have so very much to learn. You can not stand in both worlds, our lives exist in balance, you need to choose, especially with the unseelie and seelie at odds. I would not see you a pawn in a wicked and dangerous game. Listen to yourself, you are drawn to the light or to the dark, neither is wrong, merely part of the whole. The seelie here are in grave danger, I have only just arrived, sent to honor an alliance many thousands of years old. If this is where you feel you should be then I will help teach you what you need to know.”
Well, great. I still think the initial actions belie the character of the man himself, and I’m not sure I trust this guy as far as I could throw him. But I took his offer, because the idea of not being able to be there, in that amazing place, not being able to touch that ground, was unthinkable to me.
He said I could keep my friends, which was a good thing: it would have been uncomfortable trying to sneak past him to see them.
“Your friends are your business,” he said. He actually smiled. “Just remember, the sithen is sacred and its protection is vital.”
He outlined a list of rules. He was so unbelievably sour! It was like talking to King Gwythyr, but with all of the unpleasantness and threats and none of the holy fuck you’re amazing level presence. So. Here are the rules.
- NEVER bring a non fae to the sithen without permission and it would have to be an extreme situation;
- NEVER show anyone the entrance to the sithen;
- NEVER talk about the defences of the sithen.
Like I would know any of that shit about sithen defences anyway. Given what he’d said before, I’m surprised he thought I was smart enough to find the sithen entrance again, much less show it to anybody else. Besides, Bella already did that when she brought me in for the first time: surely Nathaniel could have seen the entrance from where he was standing.
Another sidhe lady, Renata, came in, with a bunch of flowers. He asked them both to find me a place to stay, informed them I’d been raised by humans, and left, looking very important.
As soon as she heard I’d been raised by humans, Renata began barraging me with questions, which I tried to answer even though I was finally getting really tired. Honestly, I have no idea what I said to her, though some of the questions were quite funny. She wanted to know if I had ears.
The room she showed me to was amazing, like nothing I’ve had since the last time I stayed in an American hotel. I wish Nathaniel could see it.
I am writing this on my big, comfortable bed with its bright yellow sheets as light pours through the open arches and light is the whole of the sky. I am so excited, and I feel so alive. But there’s a little thing inside me that is keeping all my sadness. I cannot ever bring Aoibheann here. I cannot ever bring Nathaniel here. I will never get to wake up with him in this beautiful room.
I am afraid this will change everything.
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