Maelin led him over to a couch up against the far left wall. “Have a seat here.”
He sat on the couch.
“This is going to sound strange and off the wall, but I want to paint you.”
He swallowed hard. “Paint me? I don’t understand. What does that mean?”
“I want to paint a picture of you.”
“Two reasons: One, it’s been a while since I’ve done a portrait. Two, I like how you look. I want to see if I can do you justice.”
He spread his hands on his knees. “What do I have to do?”
“For right now, stay put. I have to retrieve my supplies from the side room over there. I’ll be right back.”
He stayed on the couch and watched her.
She pulled the canvas over the easel’s wooden frame and pinned it into place.
She mixed her paints.
She checked her paintbrushes.
She set everything within easy reach.
“Do I have to be still?”
“For some painters, yes. But not for me. If you want to talk, talk. If you need to fidget, fidget. If you want to stretch your wings out, if you want to slouch, if you want to sing, go ahead. Do what you want, Isellta. I want to capture you as you are. Not as I think you should be.”
Capture me as I am.
What does that mean?
As I am? How am I?
He bowed his head.
I am better than I was before.
I’m not afraid of her.
I know she won’t hurt me.
Maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe I’m making a terrible mistake.
But I think I can trust her.
She won’t hurt me.
I can trust her.
Maelin did a quick sketch of his face on the canvas.
The line of his jaw.
The shape of his eyes.
She glanced up at him. “What are you thinking?”
He hesitated. “Just thinking.”
A quick outline of his ears.
“Jay told me that you like music.”
“Can you sing?”
The length of his nose.
The smile of his lips.
She smiled at her mistake.
It was not the fey’s face looking back at her through sketched eyes.
I wish I could take you away from this place.
To somewhere better.
Where we can be happy.
Where you can be happy.
Maybe then I will yield.
Maybe then I will let you tie my wings down.
Maybe then I will stay.
She removed the canvas and set it aside.
I will finish that one another day.
She put in a fresh canvas and started over. “Sing.”
“Most of the songs I know are just fey songs.”
“So? Is that a problem?”
He looked up at her.
And it was just the look she wanted. She went into full crazy sketching mode.
Isellta sang ,
ha di da.
Oh shi ahhh.”
He clapped his hands and picked up the pace.
“Eh shi oh kay hie
Oh mi nae li kah hey.
Shi pa oh mi dar eh.
Ah vro kae si dah.
Eh shi oh kay hie
Oh ma sae di reh ray.
Shi ha oh vi mar neh.
Eh nae vro kae dah.”
His hands went still as he stopped singing.
She looked up at him. “Don’t stop now. Keep going.”
He smiled shyly. “I don’t remember the rest of it.”
“Then, go on and sing something else.”
“You don’t mind if it is another fey song?”
“Why would I?”
He flapped his wings and started to sing.
She put aside her sketching pencil and picked up her paintbrush.
It isn’t magic.
It’s just him.
Him as he is.
And I will protect him.