Friday, May 18, 2012
But of course, it couldn't be that easy, right?
Hi everyone. This is Bree again. You guys are going to be sick of me writing so many of the posts lately. Since I'm the person Senara has decided to open up to the most (to the extent she's opening up to anyone) though, I've been the one who has a lot of news lately. So here goes. ;-)
Ever since I came up with a couple of ideas to try to help with Senara's frightening situation, I've been feeling pretty good about how things are going to go. As you know, being complacent is a very, very bad thing. Several of our friends who commented reminded us of that, and while we knew it was true, it was hard to see how it could go drastically wrong.
Of course, I knew it couldn't be that easy. I just didn't see exactly where things were going to fall through.
The thing is, I should have been able to, because Senara already told me an important detail I never considered. The whole 'being fed to a werewolf' thing kind of overshadowed the one offhand comment... which turned out to be something very, very crucial.
I'm getting ahead of myself at this point, though. Back to the beginning. Well, not the very beginning - it's not like I'm going to start telling you about my birth or anything - but the beginning of the current major complication. ;-)
We knew that in order to get Senara freed to leave the city, we needed to tell the fair folk about our trip. They aren't the easiest people to contact. It's fairly easy for them to get in touch with us; they either leave something in our mailbox (which various vampire groups tend to do also) or build a fairy ring out of stones somewhere we're likely to see it. Contacting them back isn't all that easy, because we can't just drop a note in the mail, and they don't live in a fixed location but move around, so we can't just drop by.
I wondered if the fairy circle thing would work in reverse, so I went to the nearest local park and tried to build one. There's this small stand of trees - not really the woods, but close enough to provide a little concealment. I found a small clearing, and built a ring of stones. (Fortunately, finding rocks in Newfoundland is not at all difficult. Newfoundland pretty much is one giant rock with some soil clinging to it.) My ring wasn't as symmetrical or tidy as theirs are, but to be fair, I've had less practice. I thought I did alright. Once I'd built it, I sat down to wait, leaning against a tree. After about an hour, I got bored and took out my book to read. It was a couple of hours after that when they finally showed up. I looked up from my book and saw a little group of them there, including our usual fairy rep. I didn't hear them coming, and normally I have pretty good ears.
"Yes, Bree?" the woman asked politely. There was no rudeness in her tone, and although I thought I got a sense she was impatient, I couldn't have pointed to anything in her voice or body language that specifically conveyed that. She certainly wasn't acting threatening. I filed away in my brain that we'd found a way to get in touch with them.
Then, briefly, I explained our trip, and asked that Senara be allowed to come along. Their reaction was not what I had anticipated.
I didn't expect them to say no, mind you. I didn't see how they could. Their ruse was that they had sent Senara here to learn about human culture - so how could they argue against us taking her to experience the culture of Italy, Hungary, and Croatia as well as Canada? They would have to either say yes or drop their charade, and dropping the charade would be a major step I would be surprised if they were willing to take.
I did expect them to be reluctant, though. I expected them to be flustered or taken off guard. I expected them to try to come up with excuses, but ultimately have to give in to my superior logic.
When they gave each other a brief look and then the spokesfairy responded enthusiastically, though, my heart sank - because I knew something was very wrong. I had dramatically miscalculated somehow. I just still couldn't see where or what.
The spokesfairy smiled, in a way that didn't quite reach her eyes. "What a lovely idea, Bree!" she replied cheerfully. Too cheerfully. Like she was calling my bluff... or like what I had done didn't matter. "Of course Senara has our permission. I hope she has a wonderful trip."
"Wow... well... um... thanks," I stammered.
The woman's eyes narrowed, and for an instant she didn't look cheery. She looked predatory. Then the smile returned, and she added, "Tell Senara to be a good girl while she's away. Tell her to make us proud. Senara knows the consequences if she breaks the rules and causes trouble."
Oh. Yeah. I hadn't thought to ask Senara about that. It hadn't occurred to me that the fair folk had to have some kind of backup plan to make their sacrifice stay put. I wondered what.
It wasn't like they were going to tell me, of course, so I just said I'd tell Senara their message, and then thanked them again for letting her come on our trip. I wasn't really feeling all that grateful to them for anything at that point, but I didn't want to be impolite - impoliteness is a huge issue for most of the fair folk, and I didn't want to start a big conflict with them over something so minor.
The fair folk sort of melted back in the scenery as they usually do when it's time for them to go, and I took a moment to scatter the rocks so they wouldn't look so intentional. Then, with my mind still racing from this new development, I set off on the short walk home.
I didn't see much point in procrastinating, so as soon as I was back at the house, I told Senara what had happened.
For the first time, I saw Senara angry. Even when she was talking about her own impending death, she only sounded sad. A couple of times, she got annoyed with me for asking too many questions. She's never been like this with me, though. Really, truly upset.
"I didn't ask for your help, Bree!" she shouted.
"I'm sorry," I said sincerely. "I should have asked you before I talked to them."
"I don't mean that! You're missing the point. I never asked for your help in the first place! I never asked you to save me! And I don't want you to."
This took me aback. I mean, yeah, technically it's true. Senara never has asked us to protect her. She never asked for our help. But I thought it was just... you know, assumed. She obviously doesn't want to die. So I thought wanting our help was just sort of implied.
Apparently not. Yeah, I was admittedly being somewhat presumptuous, just jumping in to try to save the day. It was still hard for me to understand why she would reject our help outright, though. It didn't make a lot of sense.
Then I remembered:
"If I find some way to escape again, someone else will die in my place. Someone I care very much about protecting."
That's what Senara told me when we first talked about the plan the fair folk had for her. Like I said above, at the time it didn't really register. I mean, I was listening, but I saw it as more of a 'cross that bridge when we come to it' issue. I thought we could save Senara, and then worry about protecting her family and friends from retribution. Suddenly I realized that I had completely misunderstood. Senara wasn't just worried about retaliation in the abstract.
The fairy court must already have a hostage.
"Who did they take from you?" I asked.
"My older sister," Senara replied.
I thought she was going to just leave it at that, but I guess she was feeling unusually chatty, because for once Senara kept talking.
"She was supposed to be safe from this," Senara said, sounding like she was talking to herself. "She was being raised by our father among humans. I was kept with my mother in the fairy court. I never knew her very well. Do you understand, Bree?"
"Yes," I replied. And yeah, actually this all sounded very, very familiar.
Some of you probably remember this, but Fiona is my biological sister. We weren't really raised in the same home for any significant period of time, though. When she was a baby and I was little, our parents split up. My mother took Fiona, and my father kept me. Neither of those situations exactly worked out fantastically. Both homes were pretty dysfunctional. At some point while Fiona was a baby, our mother lost custody permanently to the state and my sister was placed in the foster care system. I'm not sure exactly what went wrong; no one ever told me, and Fiona was too young at the time to remember. I'll probably never know, because we're not currently in contact with either of our biological parents. I guess in the end, it doesn't really matter. Fiona and I are sisters who - for whatever reason - were raised pretty much entirely apart.
Would I give my life for Fiona? Would I stay and be a sacrifice, if it meant they'd let her go? Would I have done it before we ever actually had the chance to live together, and I barely knew her?
Yes. Yes, I would. It wouldn't even take a moment's thought. Of course I would do that. I'd do it for any of my sisters, now that my family has grown larger. It's not even a question.
"What's her name?" I asked.
"Sakura," Senara said quietly, as though even speaking the name too loudly would put her sister in more jeopardy.
I reached across the table and squeezed her hand. "We'll save her too," I promised. "She won't have to take your place, and this is never going to happen again. We'll find some way to stop Carrow. No more kids are going to have to die for him."
I didn't tell her that it was a promise. I meant it as one, though. This makes things harder, but harder doesn't mean giving up. It just means digging in for a difficult fight, and sticking it out till we win.