A story in two parts, taking place between E10 Spring Equinox and E11 Summer Solstice. Co-written by roisie.

A Lullaby: Felice

–Sermersuaq, Early Summer–

Most of the surrounding quarters were dark by now, but Felice knew where to find light. She could have gone to Gabriel and let the ever present meeting wash over her – provided he was kept focused, it was the best place for him to be. She was going to be late there, and she wanted something else from the evening.

Vitória found her not long after she left the loudest fire, and pounced. “Felice! I’ve been looking for you everyw…” she stopped, trying to make Felice look her in the eye. The little naga had flinched at her name. “Felice? C’mere. What’s wrong?”

Felice allowed herself to be guided indoors, hissing a little at what light remained. Sermersuaq had not made a good impression on her. The hand tucked into the crook of her elbow remained gentle, holding her close, till they could put the closest thing for walls they had between them and the darkness.

“I saw…you know. And she was drowning out the singing except she wasn’t and it all went wrong but I wouldn’t know if I wasn’t… wasn’t…” She was running her hands through her hair now, tugging the feathers harder and harder until Vitória caught her, took her hands and gently eased them away. The cousins leant on each other, where it was light enough to see tears below scaled brow, and understanding in beautiful eyes. Reassurance was silent and steady, as it had been whenever Felice slipped and the Beast had a chance. Eventually she calmed and stood with her hands in Vitória’s.

“Do you want to go out again? Find another bar, or a different place? What do you need?” The priest was shifting now, her hands twitching, anxious to make things right. There was a pattern to this, for them. It wasn’t always the same one, and it was rarely the same place, or people, but most of the time it was together. She stepped towards the outdoors, offering the darkness again.

“No! I mean…can we stay here? It’s all wrong out there, tonight.” Vitória caught the half smile, sweet and bitter, on Felice’s face as she turned back. “I don’t know the voices and sometimes seeing them is hurting.”

Vitória gave a moment’s pause, as she always did; it sometimes took a few seconds to work out how her cousin saw the world, in song and colour and sensation. But she slowly nodded, moving to sit, making a face as she moved a buckler out of the way. “She’s strong tonight.” It wasn’t a question.

Felice threw herself down on the cushions next to her, barely bothering to move the buckler or rearrange anything in her haste to be in contact. She was a tight ball of feathers and what sounded like sniffling. Propped on her elbow with her head next to Vitória’s knee, she nodded.

“The voices hurt?” It was a soft prompt, but made Felice flinch even so. Vitória’s hand found her hair, soothing and unruffling until the head drooped to rest on her lap. “You’re  seeing the colours still?”

“Yes, but….” Felice waved her free hand helplessly and turned her face down. A muffled “They’re all wrong!” was swiftly followed by a lot of flailing. Once she’d rearranged herself to look up at her cousin, there was something desperate on her face. “But you’re not. You’ve never been. Help?”

“Help how?” The response was immediate and the understanding dawned only a little further behind. “Oh! Would you like to sing?” She smiled down, only to be met with a pout.

“I can’t. Mine’s gone like mud and blood and looks like it’s sinking where I can’t go…” Her eyes closed again, Felice resumed the ball shape, tensed alongside her.

“It’s okay, we can… Well,” A little time to muse, and Felice would have seen the nervous smile alight on her cousin if she had looked up. One hand held hers, the other realigned a disreputable feather, then wrapped her cloak across Felice’s form in her lap. “Promise you won’t laugh? It’s not quite done… And I was going to surprise you with it, write it up proper and have Duarte print you a copy.” She cleared her throat softly, before she snuggled down into Felice’s warm body.

Lay down your head and I’ll sing you a lullaby
Back to the years of loo-li lai-lay
And I’ll sing you to sleep and I’ll sing you tomorrow
Bless you with Virtue for the road that you go.

The naga made a hopeful sound, wriggling upright. “That’s beautiful.” She kept the held hand and came as close as she could, laying her head on Vitória’s shoulder. “It’s sapphire and floaty and it’s there and I can see it properly….” She relaxed onto her cousin. “Why’d you stop?”

Vitória made a slight squeaking protest, but the naga had already closed her eyes, both of her hands on one of her cousin’s, cuddled close. She sighed, nudged her head with her nose, and continued.

May you sail fair to the far fields of fortune
With diamonds and pearls at your head and your feet
And may you need never to banish misfortune
May you find kindness in all that you meet.

Vitória took a deep breath to keep herself calm; there were missed notes, she hadn’t warmed up her voice, and as always she was prone to forgetting words when she had been drinking. But Felice was noticeably calmer, relaxing with the music, and that surely was most important? Vitória didn’t have the heart to explain to Felice that she could hear her too, just out of reach, baying for blood.

May there always be Virtue to watch over you
To guide you each step of the Way
To guard you and keep you safe from all harm
Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay

The naga sank lower with each line of the song, from shoulder to arm to lap, wriggling just enough to jog her cousin as her natural petulance reasserted itself. The blankets and furs had to be just so, as she settled into them, kicking and nudging things around to her satisfaction, accidentally catching Vitória with a headbutt with one last effort to lounge properly.

“Oof! Felice, you have the grace of a Mestran. What are you doing.”

Felice didn’t bother lifting her head to reply, now cushioned nicely on Vitória’s lap, the seat coverings scrunched up around her in the kind of nest she would always burrow into, given a suitable place and enough time to blink. “M’comfy. You can go on now.”

“As my Patron commands me.” The teasing tone was evident, but there was no response from the curled up Fox, and Vitória could see the only movement in her nest that of the occasional wriggle and her steadying, quiet breathing. She was waiting, eyelids almost closed, fighting to hear more.

May you bring love and may you bring happiness
Be loved in return to the end of your days  
Now fall off to sleep, I’m not meaning to keep you  
I’ll just sit for a while and sing loo-li, lai-lay.

There wasn’t even a wriggle now. The dark eyes were closed, the scaled brow no longer lined with fear and worry, just a young face pillowed on someone she completely trusted to hold off the darkness. Felice obeyed her singer, and Vitória held her cousin as she finished the unfinished song, whispering it against anything that might come between them.

May there always be Virtue to watch over you
To guide you each step of the Way
To guard you and keep you safe from all harm
Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay
Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay…

 


‘Sleepsong’ is by Secret Garden.

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