Maelin made herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sat at the kitchen table with it. She mentally laid out the most important points of her conversation with Preyuna..
Preyuna might be able to renew Isellta’s strength. She is the Fey Queen, which gives her access to higher magic than non-royal fey.
But she’s asking for Isellta’s freedom as payment. I can’t pay that price. It would be the worst kind of betrayal. It would shatter Isellta.
Jay would never talk to me again. He’d probably break up with me.
Maelin picked up her sandwich and took a bite.
And what about Robin?
She chewed her mouthful.
Preyuna clearly knows where he is, but she will never say. She is a proud woman. She is a queen. She will never accept nor understand Isellta’s love for Robin. She will never let them see each other again.
Would she say if Robin were staked?
Maelin took another bite.
If it suited her purposes, I think she would. She hates Robin enough to stake him herself.
But what if she is right? What if someone else is behind the weirdness in the dungeon and the monitor room?
Maelin frowned and swallowed her food.
But who else would have sufficient motivation and strong enough magic to pull those kind of stunts?
If it isn’t Preyuna, who else is it?
Isellta’s wings thumped against the mattress in another failed flapping attempt.
Jay smiled as he rubbed the back of Isellta’s lower leg. “You’re in a good mood.”
“I like what you’re doing. It feels good.”
“Am I hurting you or making you anxious?”
“Not at all. Keep going.”
“Okay.” Jay hummed softly as he worked.
Isellta tilted his head. “What is that melody?”
“Hm? Oh, it’s just a bit of nothing. Just humming to myself.”
“Oh. It’s pretty. Keep going. I want to hear more.”
For a moment, Jay felt like they were back in the beginning. Just him and Isellta and John Denver.
It feels like years ago. So much has changed since then.
Jay resumed humming, but the melody had turned melancholy.
So much has gone wrong.
If only I could go back to that first meeting, that first introduction. God, if only I had known what this poor kid was gonna go through! I would have done more to protect him.
I could have done so much more to protect him.
Isellta struggled up into a sit. “The song is sad now.” He lightly touched the guard’s arm. “My Jay, why are you sad? Did I do something wrong?”
“No. I’m just being sentimental. Thinking about us. You and me have been through some high, hot water. Some days we got burned. Others, we both drowned.”
“But mostly you and I have found safe ground.” Isellta cautiously leaned forward and pressed his knuckles against Jay’s face. “Jay, you have been my solid ground. What will you do when Robin takes me back home? Will you be all right?”
“I’ll be fine. Because I’ll know that you are safe and happy.” Jay kept rubbing Isellta’s leg as he looked up at him. “That is everything I want for you, kid.”
Isellta smiled a soft closed mouth smile.
Jay smiled and resumed humming. The melody had returned to happiness.
Isellta flapped his wings and tried his best to hum along.