I felt unsettled, so I took a chance. I really wanted to see Alec and Isabella. I ended up on a city street, a little square of houses and businesses surrounding a park. I found Alec (funny how I call them Alec and Isabella here but I can’t bear to address them that way in person) sitting on a park bench, feeding bread crumbs to a family of ducks. He said he thought I’d be Nathaniel as if he were expecting him. And I guess that makes sense: Nathaniel definitely needs to talk to Alec, but I knew he was busy with village business.
He complimented me on the glamour, and I said the Gwyneth equivalent of ‘aw shucks’, or something. I’m really not remembering things very well these past few days. Could it have something to do with the whole fucking world falling apart? Hmmm….
We had one of those good, mentor-ly chats, like the ones we used to have back in Jasper. He said he was proud of me, and that I was doing things right. He seemed surprised to hear the Seelie were still stepping into the Mallorn like a bunch of fucking lemmings. (OK, he didn’t put it that way, but…) We talked about my princessly status and whether or not I was up to leading fae, and I admitted I probably was not, but we both made noises about my learning stuff and the loyalties of the few Seelie left being uncomplicated. I do think they’re a bunch of staid fuckers, but I like them, I guess. I just never felt they liked me very much. Alec put it all down to the millennia of ingrained traditions, and how they’re unused to change, and then had to deal with all those changes happening at once. I guess if I were them I’d consider crossing over, myself. I desperately wanted to be accepted by them, but in the end I’m glad I never became altogether comfortable within the sithen society. It would have hurt so much more to see this happening, now. And maybe I’d be one of them, queuing up to go wherever it is they’re going. Alec had just started into the predictable speech about how death is not an ending when I was saved by familiar voices: Aoibheann and Wren came out to look a the ducks.
Oh, Wren! I always forget how much I miss her until I see her, and then it all comes rushing back. She’s still my favourite of all the little kids I’ve met, ever. And she’s still doing the little boy in drag thing, which I hate to giggle about, but it’s so cute I just want to hug her, which would make her vomit, so I don’t. She arrived with Aoibh in tow, very excited about the ducks, and very quick to chastise her father for feeding them bred. Without a word of argument, he put the bread away, and that was the last we saw of ducklings coming to see us: they did their own thing while Wren exclaimed and Aoibheann watched, seeming a little ill at ease with the whole ‘duck’ thing.
I worried she’d freak out when she saw me glamoured, but she didn’t recognise me at all and introduced herself as, “Evie, I guess.” So I told her who I was and it took a minute, but I think she finally saw me under all the hair and, OK, a little bit of makeup.
Wren seemed just as surprised as she was, but she didn’t make a very big deal about it: I guess when you’re the daughter of a goddess and whatever Alec is, you get used to the weirdness at a young age.
I showed Wren the necklace and the bracelet, and I told her she would always know it was me if she saw those two things. I didn’t tell her Nathaniel has an identical bracelet: I think she would have hurled.
Aoibheann wanted to know if red hair was somehow strange and if everybody here had blonde or black hair. I told her — and Isabella arrived and reiterated — that no, it’s just that my usual hair colour would spark more interest than I want to attract if I’m going to be interacting with mortals (and how weird is it to say that?) from time to time.
It was so great to reconnect with them all, to see Alec and Isabella together and relaxed like that. I envy their family; I wish I had a family like that. We talked about all the cool things we could show Aoibh. I so want to take her shopping, even if it’ll terrify her initially.
Travel is so exhausting — I was yawning and didn’t even realise it. And it was terrible timing, because just before I decided I had to go — there was this prickling under my skin — who should come down from having finished her homework (apparently) but Ember. She looks so much like other young teenage girls I’ve known, including me, now; she’s got a pout on her, as my mum would say.
I almost wished I could stay for a few days at that point, but the prickling kept getting more and more pronounced, like my body was trying to tell me something. And I was so tired. I offered to take Aoibheann home with me, just like I knew what I was doing. Alec and Isabella seemed OK with it, so she took my hand and I brought us back to Ashmourne. It was a bit of a jerky trip: I hope I didn’t make her sick, but she didn’t look too green when we landed outside the castle. I didn’t hug her because she hates that, but I wanted to. Instead, I went off to hug Nathaniel, who doesn’t hate that.
Wow, my first solo realm trip. And nobody died.