His next appearance was a torture to wait. But after having him called off from the weirdest situations, I dreaded to call him at all. I rather waited out and had another accidental summoning take place than have him know I did it willingly and face his rage. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
The left calf was sour the whole next week, but as he had said, it wasn’t broken. But instead of having a thorough check out, I hid it away and bared the pain.
The mirror created problems too just as I had predicted. My allowance was cut to one third in order to pay for the damage and buy the new oval mirror. This time I got the arrows out in full and storage them next to the book so I could imagine them every split of a second when glancing up there. I wasn’t thinking of offering them back to him, but keeping them. For memories I told myself.
Things that came out from the brown envelope found their place on a little pouch on my belt. I kept them in the storage near the mirror table, but after all the fuss around the piece I removed them to keep them safe with me. They still puzzled me.
Lizzy lost the interest in my book soon. Neither seemed she interested in Finn, saying from the last punch, he seemed most normal. She also said it that in her opinion the little she knew the better it was. Smart girl I’d say.
Susan on the other hand kept a keen watch over me. She brought me books and flayers about what a perfect lady was suppose to be like. I think she might have taken mom’s words way too serious, not really understanding I never was gonna take her advice. I tried to make her see reason and sat down with her, giving her my mind about her ways and ended up staring in two very blank eyes before finishing the conversation with very angry arguing over why I’m not willing to accept Christ as my personal savior.
I backed out their room faster than it took me to enter – something was seriously wrong with her, more badly than what I was going through. I at least was convinced what I saw weren’t some illusion, but flesh and blood creature. She on the other hand… It wasn’t really my place to argue – granny had predicted her ways and I had no wish to alter it or go against it. It was just hard keeping myself reserved and open minded with her world when she seemed to have gotten a brainwash in giant measures. It’ll pass I assured myself and decided to keep away from her door for as long as I was dealing with elves and their religious beliefs.
Did elves even have religious believes? I didn’t think so, perhaps it was mere trust fond deal with the earth?
I had to stay focused here, I immediately told myself – I couldn’t lose myself in such trivial things and arguments. My contact with their world must stop at the moment we figured out how to bring this to an end and then move on with our lives.
Why did this make me so sad then?
He came again on Thursday. I had grown so impatient that I took off with friends that night and came back way after midnight, sneaking in like a thief. Mike and Sharon thought I had mocked my life enough to give me a heavy trance night in the local nightclub, but they failed to know about my leg, which made me ask them bring me home much earlier than they had expected. To me it was almost perfect – for weeks I had asked to be allowed to party and now, when I finally did get out, I couldn’t wait to get back home again.
I barely got in from my door, when my way was blocked with my sitting pillows and clomped over one of them, getting quite disturbing hush as a response. I froze on the spot to give my eyes time to settle for a second, before I was able to make out Finn’s silhouette. My knees befouled me instantly and I landed on the nearest pillow.
“Hi!” I started, still surprised. How long had he had to be here? Gosh, he must be furious at me.
“Keep it down, Lizzy’s asleep.” He whispered.
“Lizzy?” I didn’t understand, but it made me move my legs again and find the switch for my reading lamp nearby. To my astonishment she really was there, sleeping soundly before him as it was the most natural thing to do.
“She ought to be in her bed.” I lectured covering her fast with the blanket. “What is she doing here?”
“She discovered me.” He answered half loud. “She ran in here to get something, I don’t know what. Anyway, she came back and kept me company till you decided to show up!”
“I was merely out with my friends!” I objected. “I have no obligation to sit here and keep watch all the time!” I wasn’t about to give vouchers to become God’s brides. “I have a life too you know!”
“I had too ’til I had to oscillate between this place and my home!”
“Is that so? What, you’re woman isn’t savvy enough to believe you won’t do anything dishonorable?”
“What?” He frowned so hard I was sure it will stay like that for the next week. I snacked at my lips again. It was so easy to temper his mood – it would probably take less than a minute to get him all worked out.
I discarded the idea I had fast seeing he had no idea what I was talking about. Good. It also proved to be harmful to irritate him now when there was so much time left till morning.
Instead I turned. “What did you do?”
I stared at him blank for a moment. What did he mean with whom? Oh… that. Either I was too oblivious on keeping the track on one topic or he was too gotten into that thing that he was to make an example of it.
“With Lizzy of chores, who did you think?” I started to rattle as if it hadn’t been me who just asked the question about his plausible wife.
He eyed me some time, before daring to answer.
“We played… games.” He didn’t sound very sure of the name. I wouldn’t be either if all you do is sleep, dancing with your partner on the wrestling field, practice one’s shooting skills and eat. In fact he was wearing his training costume even now.
“Oh? Like what?” I searched around and saw some simple skill games, most of her wooden collection was there, all nicely spread around the floor.
“She likes solving problems.” He nodded approval.
“Yes, well, she wants to be archaeologist one day.”
I kept forgetting he wasn’t from here and that he had ears equal to Doberman’s. “Umm, historian chronicles student, something.”
It was the first time I saw a true smile on his face, the one you give when you mean it. I was so stunned I immediately forgot what I was saying and just stared at him openly.
“I know, who archaeologist is, we keep much better contact with your world than you do with ours.”
“Oh,” I felt like an idiot and blushed equally. “I’m sorry, I didn’t…”
His smile vanished. He changed the subject. “I figured out, who the other witch was.”
I welcomed his initial. It had been bugging me since his last visit and I was eager to hear the end of his sentence. “So?” I didn’t let him bake me long. I wanted to know, now, right here not wait another two days. “Tell me!”
“She called herself Florya. That’s your ancestor, isn’t she?”
Somebody up there really hated me and wanted to see me suffer I sighed disappointingly. “Yeah, that’ssss granny…” Great, he was summoned out by two Delmer women. I coughed slightly, trying to get this out of my system fast, but it stuck like a bad gum. Damned.
“I bet she got everything right in the first time.” I added sarcastically making my voice as soft as I could manage to keep it. Well, there went my hopes of getting some help from that mystery woman – kinda hard to get anything out of a ghost.
“She had much more experience than you have – it can be seen in miles.”
Perfect. I was to be the only black sheep of the family in this. I cursed her hard at that moment, why didn’t she take in consideration she ought to teach me first, not just give me a book that is mostly unreadable. Was she so eager to kill the tradition? Then why would she leave me the damned thing in the first place?
“I talked to my lord about this.”
Come again? Was he fishing for bad reputation? When I was searching ways to keep this under cover, he just ran around babbling about it to probably anyone he could get his hands on. I told myself to keep quiet and see what he has found out. As much as I didn’t like it, he was probably the closest to any solution.
“He said the only one, who has the knowledge to reverse this, would be our Healer. In order to see her, I need to take you to her – she never leaves her house.”
“You like said you need to take me there?” I interrupted.
“Yes I did.”
I goggled at him for some time, hoping he would back out and say he was joking. But his face kept his composure. This wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. What I had in mind included him just delivering me a punch of written texts we could follow without me going anywhere from my comfortable space.
“Where exactly is there?”
“For a change, you’re coming to my world.” He said calmly.
I burst into laughter, but buried it in palms as Lizzy was showing signs of wakening. “I’m sorry, um…” I rose abruptly and gathered the little bundle from the floor. “She really needs to, um… Come on, sweet, let’s get to bed. I’ll be back in a moment.” I was losing my composure and hid it fast behind the facade of doing something useful. My heart was racing like nuts. I still wished he’d come with papers.
I didn’t go back right away, but stalled getting myself some juice from the kitchen. I got two glasses, but took up only one.
“Here,” I gave him his and sat down again.
“Is it laughable that you need to come in to my world?” he didn’t wait to ask. “What is this?”
I gave him one very disappointed look. Though the times of knights seemed romantic in the books, it wasn’t so when seeing fear of being poisoned by everyone in his eyes now.
“I wouldn’t know how to poison you even if I’d want to.” He couldn’t be won over. “It’s just a drink, some apple juice.”
I thought he might be thirsty and that he was – he swallowed it in two gulps.
“And no,” I returned to his question. “I don’t think it’s funny, it’s just how I react on things.”
“Like when you yell in a bad mood?”
“I did not say I do it all the time. You’re getting to me with all this and I just happened to want to…” I lowered my voice down to a whisper, “yell at you…” I sighed. Not quite what I wanted to confess. “People react to surprise sayings with laughter. It’s a form of a fear and dealing with it.”
“You fear entering my world?” he asked fast.
I frowned. “Stop twisting my words! I didn’t say that.” I had to find some good excuse to change his opinion and convince myself in this too. “How long would I have to stay there?”
“As long as it takes to fix it. Why?” He stood, stretching his muscles. He looked intimidating again, but I passed this as something he probably was natural at. This gave me slight nudge that made him less scary in my eyes.
“More than a day then?” I rose too, only to make grimace on the hurting foot and leap over to my desk, bringing him my daily schedule.
“Why?” He asked, irritation growing knowing I was about to come up with some idea to ditch his only chance getting free.
“If you can tell me, how to pass all this without them noticing, I’d be very grateful.” I smirked. Perhaps use some fairy dust? He snapped the paper from my hand and read it with little interest, before rumpling it all in one tiny ball and giving it back to me.
“You need to get your priorities straight, girl!”
“You come first, right?” There, I knew the answer. He didn’t reply and I was glad for it. “Should I take something with me?” I continued fast, discarding the earlier question. I was sure he could come up with something nifty if given the chance, but I wasn’t really interested in listening how someone rants about so irrelevant thing. Besides, I wasn’t thinking of finding the way out of this, it was my mess and I had to clean it up.
“No, nothing I know of.” He eyed me from tip to toe. “When you get there, you’ll need to change – I won’t have you walk around looking like a boy.”
“I have dresses too!” It was weird he thought my fashion sense surrounded boy style – two third of my closets were filled with dresses and gowns from last year. One was gift from aunt, a nice dark blue, I was her bridesmaid. Even now I was actually wearing a skirt, a short one.
“Anything reaching your toes?”
“I preferred higher line.” I grunted, dragging the skirt lower, leaving the subject. “Look!” I nodded towards the eastern window. “I guess the gates will be open soon, you can get back at your training.”
I started cleaning the floor from Lizzy’s toys. It was weird to discuss my wardrobe with him anyway – what would you expect from an elf who hardly had chance to look up from the battle and see a modern age women taking a catwalk on the stage. They had little to do with how I dressed, but in my mind I thought I cleared the subject enough.
“I won’t be doing training today.”
“Oh? Sleep then perhaps?” I joked, getting the last of the pieces of the pyramid. I figured anyone was tired after spending the night talking and dragging yourself through one awkward conversation to another.
I swooped up. He meant in the Flower ring? No. No, no and again no – I was not that uneducated in old myths – getting in the ring with an elf always meant trouble. On the other hand, how was he gonna get me in his world if I didn’t.
“Come.” He called me again reaching his hand to me. I was right in his reach, yet he didn’t grab me but waited me to answer.
“I’m so gonna regret this.” I whispered, letting the toys fall free on my bed and taking step towards him. “Wait!” I stepped back again, remembering what I thought earlier. I patted the pouch on my belt, my silver necklace with a bird. “I’m missing something…”
“I said you don’t need anything.” He started, but stopped when he saw me bring out my gem box.
“Give me these few minutes and I swear I’ll behave.” I promised fast, raising one stone after another against the light till I found what I was looking for – four different stones, each one exactly the color of my family members’ eyes. If there was anything here I wanted with me, it would have been them, even if they didn’t know it. Four different grey gems found their way to my pouch. They were all some sort of crystals just as their eyes that sparkled in sunlight. My eyes were grey as the dirt –I needed no reminder of that.
“What are they for?”
“I might need them there.” I shrugged. I didn’t want to explain this irrational thing to him, he would find it silly, but it was important for me to take them. I hid the box again and stepped next to him inside the circle. The flowers were long gone, but I could see them clearly in my mind.
“I don’t think so,” but he didn’t try to reason with me, but closed his big hands around my wrist so hard it hurt and told me to send him back.
I hesitated. “How can you be sure I’ll go with you?”
“All my things travel with me. So did your towel.” Embarrassing moment, I thought, but he didn’t seem to care. “Why wouldn’t you?”
“Because am not some thing?”
He started losing his patience with me. “To magic, everything is some object to play around with. You’ll see – there will be no trouble getting there.”
“How about coming back?” I posted fast. I knew elves were hard to deal with, but I wanted him to promise me, assure me that I was coming back and not kept there. I wasn’t sure any elf in one right mind would actually keep a promise given to human, but if he did say it out loud it would be something to remind him later.
“I don’t know.” He said honestly.
I stared at his deep brown eyes for a second or two. I was trapped. He wasn’t gonna promise me anything and would be strong enough to keep me standing here with him until the next sunset if I’d refuse to say the words. Never step in the fairy ring unless dozed and sure you can afterwards claim on losing your sanity.
“You are free to leave.” I used the words I had learned by heart the first time and clanged to his arms.
I could see my room vanish softly in thin air before another room emerged, a simple kitchen. He let go of me and I watched around the room. There was nothing really special about it – dirt floor, a table with benches and few cupboards.
We were immediately approached by an old woman, who bowed to Finn. “My lord, you’re back.” She sounded startled. “I started worrying when you did not return yesterday.”
Lord? Was I in a mess!
“What does she mean?” I got suspicious.
“Has anyone come looking for me?” He continued fast.
“No, they think you are hunting Ursah.” She started giggling like Lizzy did when she thought of something funny. Her little wrinkles came out one by one. She was actually kind of nice, warm and homey. I wondered who she was.
“Good.” Finn nodded, removing his dagger holder from his hand. “Get her dressed.”
“Right away.” She bowed him slightly and started towards me. She stopped for a moment when she was far enough to measure me with her eyes, and then reached for me. “Come on, dear, I have just the dress for you.”
I didn’t know how to respond. Was she a servant? Or family?
She lead me to a room next to the one Finn was changing. It was even smaller bedroom, filled with two huge beds and a chest. She pat on my back like assuring it will all be right and went to search through the chest.
“My name is Kathy.” I started shyly. I didn’t know if she even wished to respond, but I sure wished to know her name. She seemed so nice and loving; there couldn’t be any harm in learning her name.
She brought out a long simple light blue gown, little bodice and a marvelous grey tunic girded with white and blue.
“I’m Fenny.” She laid the dress on one of the beds. “Strip up.” She suggested and witnessed my stark red blush. “Oh, don’t worry, he ain’t the watching type. He has too much in his mind right now to look any gal.”
That was comforting thought, but I doubted any man could resist the temptation to peak if given the opportunity. Still, not wanting to insult the woman, I removed my cardigan. She took it from me and waited for the rest.
I had to ease the situation somehow.
“So, are you Finn’s grandmother?” I asked, removing my slip-on.
She laughed so openly I was pulled back. “Oh, would that be a day!” she turned her attention to the brim of my blouse. “I just make his clothes.”
I swear I heard wrong. She was his seamstress? And he came to her to hide his disappearing? Wouldn’t she rat him out?
“Oh, don’t be so – he had to trust someone.”
I thought he trusted his parents; he did go to them as soon as he could.
“I know all his secrets. Where else he could turn?” She continued. I had to admit, this was weird. I would never go to the woman, who measured me for a gown and tell her all about my little world. She forestalled my next question. “I hide his weapons, why not cover up you too?” She whispered half loud as if Finn couldn’t hear her that way. Her shiny eyes went over my now shivering body and stopped on my bra. “That too.”
I shook my head. No way.
“Yes, yes. Why do we have bodice then? Take it off, come on.”
I tick went through my jaw, removing the last of the garment covering the upper body. She gave me courage with a smile and turned me around to fix the bodice around my lungs. I froze to my spot seeing Finn just few feet away focusing on his sleeves. I clamped my arms up to hide the little dignity I had left. He may have been ok appearing nude in front of anyone, I sure wasn’t. Fenny used the moment and pulled the strings on my back together leaving me almost no room to breath, only gasp.
Finn was indeed gentlemen and didn’t look up not once I was turned to him. But then I felt Fenny unlace my belt and I jerked, not letting her finish what she started.
“You can’t wear that here.” She explained, not letting go.
The gallant man before me disappeared and Finn’s voice rolled over me as a cold shower.
“Take it off.” He demanded.
I sternly met his gaze and refused. His frowning increased tenfold, but before he managed that, I still noticed the hungry look he gave me. I was right – no man can resist the temptation – the thumb rule for every woman to follow.
“Take it off, we don’t have this material here, it will be too obvious.”
“I’ll hide it under the jacket.” I argued, knowing I couldn’t win, but I wasn’t leaving my treasures behind, they meant too much for that.
“No! I said, take it off!” his look passed me for a moment, I presume it met with Fenny’s and he seemed to ease a little. “Here,” he threw me a small dark pouch with red flap clad with his signs, “you can put your things there.”
“I’m not leaving them. Not with you, not with anybody.”
His jaw ticked. “I’m not gonna drag them with me! You are! In this they are less noticeable.”
It was my turn to frown, but I let the lady remove my stuff, before forcing him to turn with my peering look.
She pulled the soft gown over my head and strapped it on the back. The fabric was heavy and followed my every curve. It felt cool against my shame burned body. While she was busy making the dress stay place, I repacked my pouch. It was meant for a belt, looking down it was obvious this gown didn’t require any.
“What is it, dear?” Fenny finished with the straps and started remodeling my plain hair.
“It is meant for a belt.” I showed her.
“No worry, dear, I’ll find it a nice rope you can use to put it over the shoulder.”
A moment later she returned with shining red chain and helped me put it on. Then came the jacket and she started with the hair again.
That gave me time to look at myself. The dress itself was beautiful – it held more fabric than it showed, creating nice waves when I played with it. The jacket was from strong material and it felt odd to move around in, but the patterns on it were superb handwork and though hard didn’t mind wearing something so refined for a change. The only thing out of place was his pouch that now tangled near my hips like a little handbag I had in fifth grade. The cord it was tied with looked awfully tender and I couldn’t help but wonder when it broke off. I had to be careful – it was after all my whole world at the moment, the only thing to keep my contact with my world.
“I’ve got you all dressed up now.” He murmured giving me one thorough once-over, bemused by his own cleverness while Fenny finished with the hairdo. There was little she could do with them; I never had them longer than to my shoulder blades. I made a grimace as response, he sounded as he was choosing clothing for a doll.
I openly studied people around me. What was he talking about the fashion again? Anything down to my toes? I saw several people around wearing much shorter skirts than I had ever seen among my friends and they were the mini skirt enthusiasts at school!
I didn’t hear him approach, but a moment later I was softly moving on, with his hand keeping me steadily on pace. I glimpsed at him, he had put on a nice long tunic. That was about all I saw as he stayed back enough to hide himself from view.
“I could have easily worn my own skirts here!” temper rising in me as I spoke. “I look like a fool in this gown!”
“No you could have not!” he protested, getting serious again. “If you are to be among my family, you better act accordingly and this means dressing properly. It is one thing to rise suspicion, it is totally other to dress as a commoner!”
The jacket suppose to be covering my breast made me feel itchy and I couldn’t get it high enough to hide my skin from the world. I didn’t like it one bit anymore – why have full length to cover your feet if up there, everything was put out for full view.
“I fail to see the logic in you argument!” I pushed through my teeth and stopped trying to keep the jacket up, it was pointless hope.
“Dressed as a commoner you would be executed without giving you a chance to explain.” he softly pressed on my back, making me move. “Dressed as a noble will need our Lord’s word before removing your head. This way you’d be brought to my father one way or the other and seeing you’re not around here he’d recognize you at once.”
“Oh! It’s like keeping a restraint on me even if I happen to wonder off?” I bitched.
The erupted stop was so sudden I almost fell over hadn’t he captured my elbow. “You’ll do no such thing!!”
I was taken back with the sincere sound I could hear in his voice. He honestly looked worried at that moment as if the whole world was out there to get me.
His eyes turned dark again and he let me go. “You don’t know our laws.” He explained harshly. “We don’t give strangers a chance to go back. It happened once that your people stumbled on us and it was enough to take up laws to prevent such episodes to repeat. It is bad enough you are too ignorant to find the answer to why the spell won’t stop, but that I had to bring you here…” he sighed. “Look around.” He advised me. “They can smell far you are not from our world and ready to become part of local legends as of one who killed the outsider.”
I kept my look steady on him not at all appealed to see all the eyes I knew were tagged on my back. He was right, I had little clue of what might happen to anyone, who was bold enough to be different. God that made me miss our little town – exact laws to everyone with little crime and even less anything else. And freedom to wear what ever one wished.
“Do you still wish to go walking by yourself?”
I shook my head. No, I had no such wish left in me. He nodded approvingly and led me on towards a huge garden.
He didn’t explain, but I understood this had to be his father’s home. I remembered him telling me the first time we met that he had been on his way here when I so rudely intervened. This gave me something to think about while we walked. I wondered if he had his own house somewhere and perhaps indeed someone waiting him there or had he been just on a tour of some sort.
My daydreaming was interrupted by sounds of metal and bows hitting thick wood. That’s probably the place they practiced their skills for war. I had to admit they sounded good and looking around, they had to be, because I saw no signs of any recant attacks in the city.
“You wish to see me hanging too, don’t you?” I asked when we were half way to the city gates that marked his family’s territory.
“I need you. You have nothing to fear until then.”
His monotone answer was all that needed to keep me calm. The situation got much clearer to me then. I was safe till he got free. After that my life will got pretty much uncomfortable. All is well as in hell; I snuggled sadly and kept the pace. He was being honest, I gave him that much, though I would have liked the notion of him being slightly friendlier or trying to use the fairy charm I had read about from old tales.
Yuk! Imagining him using some fairy dust to charm his ways to get me into doing his biting seemed repulsive. I shivered from the idea, deciding right there that I preferred him shooting his red arrows at me to scare me than see him play cupid.
Why did he have to be so darn honest?
“That necklace,” he woke me, “take it off.”
I stared at him with honest question in my eyes – what necklace? How had he even seen it? It was so small she hardly remembered wearing it.
Not getting the answer he waited, he stopped me and reached his hands to get it. Soon the little tangle was in his palm and he discarded it unconsciously in his pocket. I watched it go not daring to remind him I rather had it in my little purse.
“Do you want the rings too?” I asked, raising my three fingers up to meet his gaze.
“No, they are simple enough to fit.”
Alright. I guess I ought to be glad now.
I continued to walk, not waiting him follow.
He immediately caught up and put his hand back on my back to lead me. This was too much. “I wish you’d stop that, it’s embarrassingly childish!” I marked and pulled myself free, only to feel him clench in my jacket so hard it left bruises.
“Take this as our way of holding hands.” He pressed through his teeth. “And you’ll feel much better. Besides, I think it’s much more personal that just keeping fingers engaged, don’t you think?” his voice grew lower as his hand caressed over my backbone and lower back. That I did not expect.
I pressed my lips so hard they formed a white stripe over my face. He raised his hand again and we continued the journey, I more upset than before. Not because of him, but mostly over my own stupidity of even letting the thought of keeping my jewelry through my head.
“When we meet my father, you are not to ask or say anything before him, do you understand?” I nodded in slight response. “I’ll have to leave you there alone for a minute, so stay put and say nothing, but wait till I arrive.”
“But what if they talk to me?”
“I doubt it. It’s like a war strategy…”
“…no one sees you standing in plain site,” I finished for him, “I know that strategy, works well on little children too.”
He hardly smiled.