Disclaimer: see previous chapter.
The first time Aoife met Mrs. Creevy, it was in a conventional store: for the last two weeks or so Harry was beginning to demonstrate accidental magic and Aoife needed to replenish her domes-tic supplies and buy certain necessities to prevent any further accidents from occurring.
In the last century, Aoife, true to her plan, did bear two daughters. Sadly, the first one, Helen, proved to be her mother’s equal in wit if not in magic, and would not be manipulated, not even by Aoife herself; besides, nowadays, she was gone, walking her own paths that Aoife found strange, almost worrisome – if she was a human mother. Which she was not.
And her other, daughter, Bo... Aoife had to change her plans and to abandon Bo; put her, cuckoo-like, into a human family. What was to come out of her, Aoife could not foresee – after all, she was a succubus, not a Norn...
Harry, however, was different. For one thing, he was not her own; for another a boy. That did not change things too much, admittedly – Aoife had to babysit other children in her past (including an occasional hostage or two), including boys (mainly the hostages, though once), so this differed only in the matter of time, but what is a decade or two to an immortal Fae?
“And don’t forget, Aoife,” Alexandra, daughter of Yaga had told her months ago, mere months! “This is the Boy Who Lived. He alone has stopped that foul aberration, Voldemort, who has danced with the Ri’Avim, those death-dealing abominations, and none had been able to stop him! None but this boy, this Boy Who Lived.” Alexandra paused and looked at the much shorter succubus. “Aoife. You wanted a chance to belong once again?”
To belong... The Fae are chaotic and unpredictable by nature, but they tended to gravitate to ei-ther Seelie or Unseelie court of the country they dwelled in. Or to join the Sluagh, the eternal wanderers who claimed allegiance to neither. Or to go rogue and ignore the laws and missives of the local lord to their own peril.
There were exceptions to every rule, and Aoife was one of them. After all, had not Aoife, and Adithya, and Fordaetha of Ruk – three of the discarded mistresses of the Blood King took offence of his discarding of them and took revenge?
On his wedding feast, the Blood King had eaten soup made from the boiled tails of his wife’s huldra-kin, cooked by Aoife personally. (The only meal she had cooked personally, the legends said.) Fordaetha and Adithya, for their part, had slaughtered the Blood King’s personal guard, decimated his army, all the while the wedding feast was going on... until the Blood King realized just from what sort of oxen came the tails he just ate.
Then the heads of his guards and warriors were rolled in. All hail the Blood King and his unstoppable force, eh?
The Blood King’s fury was terrible, the legends said, and his punishment towards his enemies... less so. Fordaetha retreated to her frozen land, ruling it from the depths of the great volcano Erebus. Adithya vanished in the depths of the taiga, ruling the equally frozen north with a grip stronger than steel.
And Aoife? Aoife took over Damascus.
The Blood King did not let the mattes lie; he did not rest until Aoife was driven out of Damascus, her self-proclaimed seat of power. But it cost him dearly: he lost his queen and had to flee from the green land of Eire into a New World, which lay where the sun set, his power broken – or at least diminished – for good.
And Aoife? Aoife remained, appearing Syria, Egypt, Palestine. Human assassins and Fae Sluagh served her, did her bidding in the eastern lands of the Mediterranean Sea. It took centuries, it took both priests and wizards to drive her out of there – and now, it seemed, it was the wizards turn to feel Aoife’s bite.
“Aoife,” Alexandra repeated once again, “you want to belong? This boy, then, is your key to your future and my favour. As long as he lives – you can stay here. If he dies – well...”
This boy... the deals between the Fae – especially powerful Fae who have plenty to lose in case of a poorly done deal – are straightforward, like a hole in the wall: either it is there or it is not. All the intricacies and double-dealings the Fae leave for their interactions with the humans.
Did Aoife want to stay in England? Neither yes nor no, she had her fill of this land of fog, of oatmeal, of giants.
Did Aoife want to submit to Alexandra, twin sister of her friend Adithya? No, she did not. Nothing was binding her to England or to Alexandra’s Unseelie court – and that is what Alexandra was counting upon.
Aoife hated being reliable. Aoife feared being predictable. Aoife despised Alexandra.
“All right,” she said, smiling brightly to the much bigger Fae. “You got a deal.”
* * *A year later
“What a lovely boy!” Aoife told brightly Mrs. Creevy. “How old is he?”
“A year younger than yours, I believe,” Mrs. Creevy said smiling. “And your son is lovely too.”
“Really? I would rather call him lively,” Aoife said, still cheerful. “So, you’re new around here?”
“Not really,” the other woman shrugged, and Aoife could hear a nuance of an accent in her voice. “We are from here; we just lived abroad for far longer!”
“Really?” Aoife asked, genuinely curious. “How come?”
“My husband, Bruce, and I – we had, or rather have, contacts with BBC. I admit, this can mean many things, but in our case – we are in a shooting crew, so this means that we get to travel the world, rather than stay at home. When we realized that I was pregnant with Colin, we were actually in Indonesia. Now I admit, there is nothing wrong with Indonesia, it is a fine archipelago, but, really, raising a baby and shooting a migration of whales? Not a good idea, we felt, and so I am here, while Bruce is out there, shooting the whales...” she hiccupped and tottered.
“Oh dear!” gasped Aoife as she prevented her new interlocutrix from collapsing. “Are you okay?”
“...I want meat. Raw meat. Is it normal?” Mrs. Creevy admitted after a brief pause.
“...You want to go to a doctor instead?” Aoife responded after a brief pause of her own – raw meat was not particularly normal for humans. For normal humans, that is. If Mrs. Creevy was not normal, however...
“No,” the other woman confessed almost immediately, “I’m fine, really.”
“Splendid. You want to go to my place? It’s nearby, and I have a full fridge: maybe we’ll be able to find something for you.”
Mrs. Creevy agreed.
* * *
Throughout her truly long life Aoife has met many people, though she had loved only the Blood King – once upon a time. And only Adithya and Fordaetha were her friends – still. But there was one individual whom she never met, no matter how much she travelled the world. Murphy. Dear Mr. Murphy, whose laws tended to make life Hell alike for Fae and human.
Today he must have been in the neighbourhood, for the first thing that Harry did when the strange foursome came home was to make his favourite blocks levitate. And the first thing Colin Creevy did-
No, the first
thing that Colin Creevy did was giggle delightfully at Harry’s antics and the second
was to join in on the fun – as an equal.
“Well, fancy that,” Aoife said, suppressing a smile with a relative ease. “Mrs. Creevy – I think we have a lot to talk about, don’t we?”TBC