The other day, I went for a walk and heard voices and scrabblings in the underbrush. It turned out that a little demifae had fallen somehow, possibly been trapped by some ice(?!), and hurt her wing. Aoibheann and Rachel were there, as well as Bella. Bella was amazing! She fixed the little fae’s wing and her other aches and pains as well! The little fae went off to bathe in the river and Bella flitted off to supervise.
Just then, Princess Aislyn came round, so I told her how amazing Bella was. By some weird coincidence, Nathaniel got himself lost in the woods and stumbled on to us as well. There followed a conversation about how the Seelie handle security and privacy, during which I sort of wished I could sink into the ground. Aislyn made it quite clear to everyone that I’m lower than dirt as far as she’s concerned, and she did it all in such a lovely, mild tone of voice I just wanted to scream. She suggested I needed a history lesson.
Which, OK, I do — but do you tell people that in public? I guess she does. Rachel was trying to engage the princess in a debate about Seelie practices, implying that the sithen was prejudiced and short-sighted, so I thanked the princess for her insight (politely) and said I would be happy to receive a history lesson, but she didn’t need to feel obligated to give it right there. I thought I was giving her a way out of dealing with Rachel’s combative questions, but she basically told me off, so I just shut my mouth and figured we could discuss it later. Jesus fuck, if you want to tell me what a little idiot I am, that’s fine with me; just try not to embarrass me in front of my friends. Then again, maybe she really doesn’t believe humans or vampires or demons are real people, so maybe to her it was almost like having a conversation with one unruly person (me) and three quasi-domesticated animals. I really hope that is not the case. I pray she’s just a bit gormless or perhaps so unused to being outside the sithen she just forgot herself. Nathaniel tried to ingratiate himself with her, but I don’t have any sense of how she took it: it seemed to me at the time that she brushed him off, but that might be my blind fury remembering and not what really happened.
At some point around this time, Rachel went off to do other things. Then, something truly amazing happened. Queen Isabella showed up. I’d given up hope she would ever return, but there she was! She told us that for her, it had only been three days and not three months since we saw her last. We were all really happy to see her, except for Aislyn, who apparently didn’t know her from Adam. Introductions were made, and then Aoibheann explained to her about our predicament with King Gwythyr. I told her I had sworn my oath to the Seelie Queen, and she said it was the right choice for me and she’d have taken me there herself if she’d been around (?!). Then she explained to everyone that King Gwythyr was using us all to get to her, and that it wasn’t safe. Aislyn asked her the question I guess everybody wanted to know the answer to: If she holds Queen Saone in such high regard, why not just swear fealty to her and have done? She gave a spectacular non-answer to that which was basically that she couldn’t tell us why, but it was just not possible. I have genuine affection for Queen Isabella, but it was hard not to roll my eyes at that one, and if it had just been us from Jasper, I’d probably have mortified Aoibheann by giving her a piece of my mind. But because I have a sense of decorum, unlike some fae princesses I could name, I didn’t do it. I wouldn’t have wanted her to look bad in front of a peer, you see.
(Wow, even a few days later, I’m still angry about this. I need to take a chill pill.)
Unsurprisingly, Isabella stayed only long enough to raise more questions, made us promise not to tell anybody she’d been there, then said something vague about having to go to her place of safety, assuring us all that Aoibheann knew how to contact her. Well, bully for that knowledge: knowing how to contact her and getting her to actually show up are apparently two very different things. At this point I felt like I’d lived through a whole day in about an hour. Fucking emotional roller coaster.
Riven had appeared sometime during this conversation — I admit I didn’t notice her because I was quite focused on Isabella. Nathaniel had been paying some attention to her, and he made sure to ask both Riven and Aislyn not to reveal her secret. Riven was easily bribed with a mint imperial, but Aislyn just went all vague, didn’t answer the question, and eventually wandered off. I guess that’s her prerogative as according to Prince Blaise she is some kind of seer, but maybe she could take a couple of diplomacy lessons.
Nathaniel and I went back to Val’s, where we were able to forget about our problems for a little while and just concentrate on loving each other. I even told him I probably love him. I think I probably do.
Later, I slipped out of bed while he was asleep and went back to the sithen. I expected them to be asleep, but no, there they were, Prince Blaise and Princess Aislyn and Lady Renata. (As an aside, why don’t I get a title? Perhaps I am just officially known as ‘that little bitch’ when I am not around.)
They were all very nice to me, which made me wonder if they weren’t somehow planning to start the torture soon. Renata plays the harp, which made me want to stay up a bit longer, and it was nice, but I was so tired I had to go to bed. At least they didn’t make a fuss about that.
So I went to my room and looked at my snowglobe and read for a little while, and then, for the first time since entering the sithen, I had a bad dream. I dreamed of the Huntsman on the bridge, lying in wait for me. I don’t know what to do about that. I don’t feel I can tell the Prince about it, because he’ll just tell me what an idiot I am for wagering my life against that of a human. After that night, I’m pretty sure that’s what Aislyn would do, too, so even if I felt closer to her, I couldn’t tell her, either. I guess I could talk to Bella again, but she’d probably just tell me to appeal to the Queen for help. It was a long dream where I would see him, flanked by cwn, try to get away, then just end up back at the bridge, with him staring at me. Those red eyes. I do not think I will survive my meeting with the Huntsman.