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“I’m not going to—I’m not going to leave after they asked for me,” Viv said, horrified. Then, hurriedly, when the older witch looked up, “If that’s all right? Just, Thysania seems scared, and if I can help by just being here, I should.”
“Fair enough,” Isaac said, his voice even. “Stay close, then, but just make sure you stay out of the way. I need room.”
It made sense. He’d started some basic healing magic, but depending on what was going on, he might need to set up a circle. Or just get personal information, honestly; Viv wasn’t sure what was covered under PHIPA in the case of a medical professional gathering private information while giving emergency care in a public space, but even if it wasn’t covered, it was definitely rude to eavesdrop on.
“I’ll be—” She looked around, saw one of the couches nearby and in Thysania’s line of sight, and gestured to it. “I’ll be right there. Okay, Thysania?”
Thysania hummed softly, but otherwise didn’t answer.
Viv headed to the couch, then startled as Dandelion joined her there, slinging himself onto the couch with a squeak of leather pants on pleather cushion. It was such an incongruous sound in the somber moment that she had to bite back an inappropriate giggle.
“My lord,” she said, when she was sure it wasn’t going to slip out. This was one of the high lords of the fae; she had to be more polite than she’d been so far. “I, I apologize for ordering you around, I was just focused…”
“Oh, don’t bother with that,” Dandelion said lightly. He wasn’t looking at her, instead watching Isaac, bent over Thysania’s form on the ground, his hands moving. “You were busy doing something I couldn’t, so full props there. Anyway, I’m hardly as fancy a lord as all that. Call me Dandelion.”
“Dandelion,” she repeated, a little unsure. “Is it fine?”
“Sure. I’m a rock star, not a lordling ordering folks around in some court somewhere,” he said dismissively, though his silver eyes flickered toward her briefly, and she got the sense there was some kind of story there. “Thys said you knew her?”
“I—sorry, you said ‘they’ before, I just want to be sure I’m addressing them correctly…?” Viv prompted uncertainly.
“Right, of course. Thysania’s bigender; her pronouns are both ‘she’ and ‘they’,” Dandelion said. He gave Viv a small smile. “Since they don’t prefer one over the other, I usually use ‘she’ when I’ve just said their name; otherwise the alliteration can become a mouthful. It’s not private info, it’s on their website and everything. As long as you use one of those, you’re fine. But about my question…?”
It looked as though Dandelion was as desperately curious about what happened to Thysania as Viv was. Probably more so, she had to admit, since they clearly knew each other. “I don’t think I know them,” Viv admitted. “I’m not sure how they know me—it might be a case of mistaken identity?”
“I suppose,” Dandelion said, frowning. “I don’t think they’ve mentioned you before.”
Viv leaned a little closer, glancing over at Thysania. Isaac was looking stressed; he was definitely casting a second spell now, weaving it around them. Viv couldn’t tell if that was a good thing or not. “You two are friends?”
“I’d call us friends, yes,” Dandelion said. “I don’t know every detail of their life or anything like that, but we go out for drinks and keep each other up to date on what we’re up to”
“Do you know what they were talking about?” Viv asked. “About the light?”
Dandelion frowned. “Not specifically,” he said. “They’re a powerful fae who is of the moth kind—I don’t know how much you know about the fae? Beyond enough to be polite to me.”
Viv flushed, as if the teasing had been far more pointed than the casual way he’d said it. “Not too much. I see common fae around a lot.”
“Right. Common fae, which we’d call the host, are those like satyrs and women in white—” with this, a nod to his bandmates, who had pulled away likewise to the other side of the room to give Isaac room to work. “As you note, those are around a lot outside of the courts. And then you’ve got those like me, the daoine sidhe, gods yet not gods, the fairy descendants of the old folk’s high rulers from before we were driven to the Otherworld.”
He said it as if there was no vanity in that phrasing at all.
“The Sidhe rule the courts in our lands; that doesn’t mean the courts are only Sidhe, nor are all Sidhe members of the court, just that they hold the highest positions. And even so we might be exiled, or choose to leave, and otherwise become solitary. And a court is made of many positions; plenty of folks from the fairy host may gain power. So calling the host ‘common’ and the Sidhe ‘noble’ may not be entirely accurate. All fae are gentry in their own eyes.” His voice was gentle, but had taken on some kind of sadness.
For a moment, they were both silent. Then, hesitantly, Viv prompted, “And Thysania?”
“Ah. Well, your people have long drawn our folk with butterfly or moth wings, yes? That’s inspired by one of our type, the dealan-dé, who are insect-like. They are often beings of great power, being able to predict misfortune and to carry the souls of the dead where they travel, and as a result a number of them are numbered among our nobility. Many of our so-called leanan sidhe are actually dealan-dé. I don’t know whether Thys is or isn’t of rank in a court somewhere; we avoid talking of such unpleasantries. But someone might target one, assuming they’ve got power.”
“You think that’s what happened?”
“I don’t know,” Dandelion said. “They haven’t said anything other than that they have a bad feeling lately. That they feel like they’re being watched at home, and that the power outages in their apartment feel wrong somehow. And moths are, of course, drawn to the light.”
Viv worried at her lip. The moths in and around her apartment, from the one she rescued to the dead ones in the elevator room, the power outages, meeting Thysania now… it felt like it had to be related.
But before she could say anything more, Isaac sat back with a sigh and Thysania sat up, their black eyes opening wide as they gasped a sharp breath of air. Both Viv and Dandelion’s attention immediately snapped to them.
“All is well?” Dandelion asked.
Isaac bowed his head to Dandelion, acknowledging his presumed rank as Viv had. “I’ll want to follow up tomorrow, but I think they’re stable for now. They had a lot of their life energy…eaten away, from what I could tell. Just drained right out. I’ve stabilized them, but they need rest. Ideally, if we can hook them up to a magical battery until they’ve recovered, that’d be best.”
He said it as if it left a bad taste in his mouth; Viv could understand why. Practitioners of black magic often used weaker witches as magical batteries, draining them to power their spells. It wasn’t very popular in Viv’s circles, where people had to rely on their own power or their leyline alone.
“Why don’t you come with me, Thys?” Dandelion offered gently. “I’m sure we could work something out.”
“I want to go home,” Thysania said in a clear voice, musical and soft. They swayed to their feet, their cloak—wings? It moved like both—falling back around them as they walked over to the couch.
“Well, I could come with you,” Dandelion began.
But Thysania was holding their hand out to Viv instead.
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