I was reading, in the sithen archive, about the direction of mystical energy through the will, when I heard a sneeze. The fact is, I’d been there for hours. I’m like that when you put me in a library: writing this makes me wish I’d been able to take the enigmatic Alec up on his offer to peruse his personal library before Jasper burned or whatever. Nathaniel has mentioned to me before how many precious books might have been lost in that maelstrom, and I don’t even like to think about it. I’m sure I’m only tipping the iceberg with what I’m reading now, a basic treatise on on the properties of fae magic that I think must have been meant as a guide for teachers of very young fae, or perhaps even for fae parents.
But there’s plenty of time for digressions about what I’m reading. The fact is, I’d been there for hours and I realised when I looked up that my back was beginning to ache and my bum was sore from sitting on the floor for so long. Yes, of course there are chairs in the archive, but they are farther away from the bookshelves. Anyway. I heard a sneeze, and I looked up to see the loveliest little demi-fae you can imagine floating there. I think she’d got a whiff of pollen or something.
She wore a floaty fuchsia skirt that looked like it as made from some sort of flower petal. I said, “Hello, there!” and she echoed back, “Hello, there!”
At this point I got to thinking maybe English wasn’t her first language. I know all demi-fae aren’t as articulate as Bella, but I think for the sake of respectfulness it’s probably wise to greet them as if they are. I imagine if they took offence and thought I was patronising them or something there might be consequences. Of course, no one likes feeling patronised, and I feel strongly about the worth and dignity of all creatures, so switching gears into not treating someone as childish just because they are diminutive in stature seems a natural progression. When I told her my name, she countered with her own, so I supposed I was communicating all right.
I asked her if she’d been here long. She replied, “Mother made me … here … this morning.” I wasn’t sure if that meant she’d only just come here this morning, or if she’d sprung up, fully formed this morning, and I wasn’t sure she’d understand the distinction, so I just nodded.
When I explained to her that I was reading, she wrinkled her nose and said it didn’t look like any fun, and there weren’t any flowers. I stood up and grabbed a field guide to flowers from the book shelf; I’d noticed it because it was folio sized and had some lovely colour plates in it. “What about this?” I said, opening the book to the colour plate section. I didn’t really look to see which one it was.
As it happened, it was a page on orchids. Now, I don’t know shit about flowers, to tell you the truth, but I do know orchids don’t grow in temperate zones unless you’ve got a hothouse. Calla pointed at a pink orchid and said she wanted to find that one; which one was that? I told her it was a moth orchid, but only because I was reading the entry at the time. I even said the New Latin name Pela-something, I think; I can’t remember it now.
She was adamant that we find exactly that flower, right away, so I let her lead me out of the pavilion, field guide in hand– straight into a patch of roses.
I warned her, but she pricked herself anyway and declared that roses were mean. I said that yes they were, and we should find another place to look. We passed by the Prince and one of his women — I keep wanting to call them his harem — having some kind of serious discussion, but I kept my attention on our little quest, and she didn’t seem to notice at all. Hopefully this means I’ll not get accused of eavesdropping later. And you know what? There was nothing that looked even remotely like an orchid out there. So — I made one! I knelt down in the grass, put my hands around a spot of dirt, and saw the orchid, over and over, in my head. My hands grew hot, and when I brought them away, there it was. She was really delighted with it, and I was so pleased with myself I could have shouted — but I was mindful of the dour prince and whichever one of his girls that was — Aislyn, I thought — talking about big important things that have nothing to do with insignificant me. Then again, it’s not so bad being insignificant, so I’ll just let that thought slip away.
Then, I felt a soft and familiar prickling of shadows. I had a sudden, urgent sense that Nualla needed me, somewhere outside the sithen, so I told Calla I had to go and put the book back, then meet someone. I turned to go, and just then, Prince Blaise appeared, saying he needed to go over some magical instruction with me. I held him off until tomorrow, but I don’t think he was pleased. At least he seemed less threatening today.
I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop regarding the meeting, though. Surely I’ll be punished somehow for misinterpreting the Queen’s message and bringing outsiders in. Having been an outsider myself, I do not look forward to having to keep outsiders out, but rules, in this case, are made to be followed. As I left the sithen, Ingrid who was with Astrid last night arrived to ask the Prince come questions about the upcoming troubles. At some point, I should probably talk to her more: I couldn’t tell last night if she was being friendly and accessible, or if there was only an outward veneer of friendliness and the rest was disdain. I hope I’ll be able to tell the next time we meet.
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