Maelin reached the top of the cliff first. She looked back to see LM wheezing and puffing. His face was a distressing shade of red. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
He made it up to the top and flopped down into a sit. He doubled over, trying to catch his breath.
Maelin knelt before him. “LM?”
“Give me a moment.” he rasped out.
She sat back on her feet and waited.
I’m here. I’ve come back.
Jay. What will you say about my plan? What will you think?
Will it work or does it have to be the real Robin? Well. If it has to be Robin, I will go back to Pinkerlee and kidnap him. Then, we’ll see.
“Okay.” LM stood. “I’m ready.”
She looked up at him. “Are you sure?”
He held out his hands.
She took them.
He pulled her up to her feet. “I’m sure.” He studied her expression. “What about you? You seem…uncertain? Uneasy?”
“Worried. Worried that this will be all for nothing. That it won’t work. That Isellta is too far gone for us to reach him. That Robin himself won’t be able to reach him. That he’s…already gone.”
LM shook his head. “Worrying about all of that is so human and pointless. Let’s go inside and just do it. What happens afterwards will happen whether you worry about it or not.”
“That’s true.” She held his hand for his sake and a little for her own sake.
They headed towards the overbearing mansion.
LM’s thighs still ached from the long walk up. He felt a dull dread at the thought of having to walk all the way back down.
Maybe it will be easier.
Maybe we can get someone to drive us back down.
He shook his head. “That doesn’t seem all that likely.”
Maelin glanced at him. “Did you say something?”
He shook his head. “Just thinking out loud. Sorry.”
If only I could teleport.
If only I weren’t such a freak.
If only I were a full fey.
I wish I were a full fey.
A hand, warm and gentle, came to rest on his right shoulder.
LM looked to his right, but, of course, there was no one there. At least, no one visible. He smiled. “My dear friend. Thank you.”
Maelin glanced at him again, but she didn’t ask.
He didn’t offer any explanations.
They entered the mansion without any difficulty or interference.
Maelin led the way to Jay’s room.
Neither Maelin nor LM spoke. They were too deeply entrenched in their own thoughts and fears and doubts.
Spoken words would have made matters worse.
But he held onto her hand.
Her calming magic entered him. He didn’t stop it. He let it soothe him and calm him.
He needed it.
Capernaum’s hand was no longer on his shoulder.
Is he gone? Or is he simply lurking near me? Is he waiting for me to need him?
Will I ever not need him?
But can I tell him to never leave me? It’s a horribly human thing to demand of a ghost. And I am not human. I am only half.
LM raised his free hand and studied his palm’s fault lines.
Where is the line that divides me? Which side of my hand is human? Which side is fey? Are they blended together into a simple mess of a whole? Or is it hidden somewhere inside my bones?
He lowered his hand.
Maelin turned the corner and he followed her lead.
“I wish I knew my parents. I wish I knew why a fey would fall in love with a human. How did they meet? Why were they attracted to one another? Was it a push and pull attraction? Or was it a mad rush to each other? Was it something they understood in that first meeting?”
“You don’t know anything about them?”
He shook his head. “I was with that vampire in the freak show for most of my childhood until Capernaum rescued me. That vampire never told me about my past. Maybe he knew. Maybe he didn’t. Either way, he never told me.”
“Don’t you have any memories of them?”
He thought about it. “I don’t know. I’ve never dug deep enough.”
He shrugged. “No real reason, I guess. Or maybe it’s fear. Fear that vampire was right all along. Maybe my parents did surrender me to him. Maybe they were ashamed of me. Maybe they never wanted me. Maybe I don’t want to know the truth.”
She squeezed his hand and stopped at a door halfway down the hall. “And here we are. Are you ready to do this? Do you want to do this?”
LM sighed. “It’s too late to say yes or no.” He took a breath and opened the door to Jay’s room.