Nattering and Naps
~~~Lifting the Veil~~~
~~~Chapter 3: Nattering and Naps ~~~
The room Nicca showed her to was lovely, if impersonal. A large four poster bed of rich cherry wood was covered in a fluffy comforter in gold, cream, and white. A mountain of pillows tumbled off the bed to the floor on the far side, with a few scattered on a low window seat. Her bags were stacked in at the foot of the bed, neatly laid in a line.
An old fashioned armoire, also made of cherry with complicated whorls of vines carved into the veneer, sat against the left wall. A low dressing table sat empty except for a small potted plant of an indeterminate nature. Cordelia could see a bathroom done in gold flecked, pale granite tile beyond, counter top heaped with expansive white towels.
She took a deep breath, regaining her calm, and turned to the sidhe who accompanied her. “Thanks, Nicca.”
He smiled shyly and nodded. “You are most welcome.” Immaculately dressed in soft brown tailored pants and pale gold shirt, he stood a few steps behind her. There was a slim dagger attached at his belt, but no other visible weapons.
A movement outside the window drew her attention away from Nicca’s attire, and she walked forward, lightly touching her fingers to the glass. A large swimming pool glittered in the afternoon sun. Several chairs and tables littered the patio area, though none were occupied. On the far side of the pool, she could see a mansion of stucco and glass. Off to one side was a broad grassy lawn decorated with flower beds and fountains, arching trees woven throughout with glass balls like year round Christmas decorations. The lawn was lush and verdant, and Cordelia couldn’t help but cringe at the water bill.
On a blanket in the middle of the expanse of green sat a golden haired woman—a pregnant golden haired woman whom Cordelia was beginning to think might not be woman at all.
She turned questioning eyes to her escort, and Nicca nodded. “Maeve. She owns the house and the grounds. She allows us to live here as compensation for services rendered by Merry recently.”
“An exiled seelie sidhe, she came here to make a name for herself in Hollywood.”
Cordy couldn’t suppress a chuckle. “Like minds, eh? I know the feeling.”
“You are an actress as well?”
“Hardly. Wanted to be, but it just…didn’t work out. Besides, it doesn’t exactly mesh with the whole fighting evil thing I’ve got going on.”
Maeve sat up and gathered the blanket to her. Out of the shadows of the trees a young woman, human this time, came forward, helping Maeve to her feet and taking the blanket and book. The assistant lightly grasped Maeve’s elbow and began to escort her back to the house.
Cordelia turned away, heart clenching. It was too close a reminder of Connor now. She’d only just left him, but the possibility of never being able to watch him grow up, to never hold him close as he fell asleep again, to never see him turn to her with love in his eyes hurt too much. She had given up her life for these people, her friends, her family, her future. And she knew almost nothing about them.
“Are there many sidhe here? Or faeries? Is it faeries, or fey or what? I don’t even know what I’m supposed to call what I am, really.”
Nicca blinked those lovely dark eyes and frowned a bit. “No, princess, there are almost no sidhe here. They reside in Cahokia.”
“Forgive me, but huh?”
Tilting a quizzical head, Nicca said slowly, “Cahokia, Illinois. Do they not have Illinois where you are from?”
“Oh, we have Illinois. Cahokia too, actually, but I’m just surprised that the…er…sidhe live there. I would have thought they’d settle somewhere flashy like New York or even Washington D.C.”
“All of faerie lives there now, all courts from sidhe to demi-fey to goblin. Those that came over from Europe and accepted Jefferson’s offer that is.”
Cordy raised her eyebrows. “So why Cahokia? It seems a bit…hokey.”
“The mounds are there. Sithen mounds held magic of their own, and when we came over, we displaced the…residents…and took the mounds for ourselves.”
Distracted from the beautiful scene outside, Cordelia turned to Nicca. “I think I remember something about those mounds, but in my version of history, most of them were destroyed by archeologists.”
“Didn’t they sense the magic there?!?” Nicca seemed horrified, standing stiffly.
Cordy shrugged. “Probably not. Not many people even know magic is real, so I doubt anyone noticed something funny, and that’s presuming that whatever lived in your mounds lived in my mounds.”
“Is it so very different, your home?” The dark sidhe looked almost afraid to ask the question, shifting a bit to semi-hide behind that glorious hair. Cordelia had a sudden vision of sliding the dark mass over her bare skin like a veil, but shook the feeling off.
She looked out the window again, squinting at the bright sun, clear blue sky, and very ordinary looking lawn furniture. “It looks pretty much the same to me. Granted, we don’t have anything that looks like you there, but nowhere’s perfect, right?”
“But you do have vampires?”
“You heard that?” The seer pursed her lips a bit, giving her hair a toss.
A distinct chill ran through Nicca, and Cordy was taken aback by the haunted look in his eyes. “It is always best to assume that someone is listening—since someone usually is. Someone always is…”
With a mildly annoyed and thoroughly unconcerned snort, Cordelia answered the original question. “Yes, we have vampires. It’s like the whole magic thing, though, since most people don’t know they exist. Even people in my home town brushed off all the deaths as either PCP gang-related activity, deadly barbeque fork incidents, or wild animal attacks.”
“But not you?”
“No. Why is it that you all seem so unnerved by the concept of me working for a vampire? I keep telling you, he’s a good vampire.”
“It is not a matter of good or bad, princess, rather imaginary or real. In our world, vampires are merely nursery tale boogey men, not actual creatures of the dark. We have horrors far worse for that.”
She thought for a second, remembering Doyle’s reaction to the book of fictional creatures. “So vampires are imaginary here, and you fey types are imaginary in my world. Fair enough trade.”
She sighed, kneeling to open one of the duffels. “It’s hard to believe my whole life is in here—or all the life I could take with me. It seems so…”
“Insignificant?” Nicca said it with a smile, but Cordelia could hear the empathy in his tone.
“Yeah. I mean, I’m Queen C. It’s absurd that everything fits in three bags with a ghost on the side.”
Her brave front wilted a bit as she drew out a series of pictures. First came a picture of the whole gang: Angel, Wesley, Gunn, Lorne and Fred. It was taken not long after Angel returned from his brood over Buffy’s death, and though he looked gloomy, they looked like a family. Next came a picture of Connor wrapped in fluffy blue blankets, cradled in the outline of Angel’s arms. Another picture of Angel and Connor, this time with a smiling Cordelia hanging over his shoulder. There were some from her high school years, a few with Harmony and the Cordettes, a few with the Scoobies and one of her and Xander from their broom closet days. There was even one of Doyle from the very beginning of it all.
She gripped the pictures tight in her hand before slamming them down on the cherry dressing table. The brunette slid onto the fabric covered stool and faced herself in the mirror. She could see the outline of Nicca over her shoulder, standing still as death. The color of his shirt complemented the bedding, and Cordy wondered whether he’d done that on purpose—dressed to fit the house.
She refocused her eyes so the glass showed a young woman with chestnut hair to her shoulders, lightly streaked with gold, and caramel colored eyes. There was nothing there that said she was special—that said she was the one to do whatever it was that the Powers wanted. She just looked like Cordelia.
Tracing the outline of her body with her gaze, she reached one hand out to lay it flat against the mirror. When nothing happened, she balled it into a fist and thumped the frame lightly.
“Why? Why me?”
The mirror had no answer for her. It sat there as silent as the sidhe at her back. Still she looked, hands clenching into tight balls.
“I’m not a hero! Hell, I’m not even nice! Heroes are blonde cheerleaders or brooding vampires. Not me…” she trailed off.
A slow movement at her side snapped her attention back to the reality of her room rather than the reflection of what her life had become. Nicca smiled faintly at her and nodded at the plant. He touched the end of one stem, and in an instant Cordelia watched a flower grow and bloom. The bright red of the hibiscus blossom clashed with the room, but strangely, that made her feel even better.
“For you—please feel welcome here, even if it is not the world you’re used to.”
With another soft, shy smile and nod he turned and left, shutting the door behind him. Pushing herself away from the vanity, Cordy stood and walked to the bed. It was so invitingly fluffy and comfortable looking that she took a small hop and flopped into the middle, knocking most of the pillows to the floor.
The ceiling looked like most ceilings, white and smooth, but she could almost see a shape move across it the moment before Dennis’ icy touch slid over her shoulder.
A chenille throw levitated out of the wardrobe and settled over her shoulders as she rolled over to lie on her side.
“Thanks Dennis.” She sighed deeply, snuggling down in the feathers. “Did you like the kitchen? How were the other guys?”
A noncommittal wave of a tubular pillow indicated Dennis’ only moderately enthusiastic response.
“Yeah. I get that. I so get that. But I guess we’re stuck.”
The pillow jiggled up and down before flopping on the bed.
“I know it could be worse. It could be a lot worse—still stuck as a cow in Pylea shoveling out real cow crap from stinky stables worse, but…”
Another comforting chilly caress and she closed her eyes.
“You’re right. Maybe it will look better after a nap. Lord knows that always helped Angel when he got into a brood. Er, not the Darla style naps, but the regular ones.” She breathed deep. “I guess we’ll see.”
A moment or two later and the only sound in the room was the soft snore of one very exhausted sidhe princess.
~~~End Nattering and Naps~~~
To find out what's happening in other areas of faerie, go to Barinthus' Interlude
to see what he's up to.
To be Continued…