“Don’t think I don’t hear you two sneaking around.” Laurel and I glanced at each other, cringing. Her teeth were bared in a grimace that said she knew she’d probably be held guilty by association for not blabbing about my not-date earlier.
We’d only made it halfway up the stairs before mom laughed and yelled at us from the kitchen. I’d hardly had time to take down my glamours, and I still had my sweater on.
“Now, did you want to come downstairs and tell me why you’re sneaking around before your father gets home?” Exchanging another silent look, Laurel and I groaned. Instinctively, she also grabbed my wrist to stop me from flinging myself off the banister, forgetting I couldn’t currently fly. She rolled her eyes and I smiled back sheepishly.
Mom was lounging at the kitchen table, messing with her laptop and taking periodic glances at where something was stirring itself on the stove. Her eyes briefly flitted between us, a devious smile breaking across her face as she closed the computer, setting her hands on top of it.
“Well?” She looked up at us with a knowing stare, and with a quick glance, Laurel bolted, calling back a half-baked excuse about an essay or something.
“Jerk!” I shouted after her. Mom cocked her head and I sunk miserably into a chair across from her, hot embarrassment already spreading to the tips of my ears.
“I may or may not have broken my wing and roped her into picking me up.” When I ruffled my hair, mom definitely took notice and scowled back at me, a challenging intention in her eyes.
“And how did you manage that, Rosemary?”
“I, uh, I kinda scared myself off a bench and fell on it.” She lifted an eyebrow. “Fine, fine. I, uh, I’ve like kind of been having some trouble with my magic lately, and it kind of maybe might’ve, you know like sparked a bit loudly, and I’m like, you know I’m super jumpy, and I just like, I fell on it. My wing’s totally fine, I just broke the shell.”
“You’re not sparking now, did you figure out the problem? And would that have anything to do with where you were today?” Her eyes narrowed, pretty much relieving me of any hope I had that I wouldn’t have to tell her about Lydia.
“I mean, not really, but, like, maybe?”
“Rosemary Smith, I do not feel like pulling teeth right now.”
“Okay, fine, god, I was out with a, uh, I mean we’re not even really friends, I’m still half-convinced she’s just putting up with me for god knows what reason, but like, ugh, she’s an Elf. Met her at the coffee shop, uh, yesterday.” My face flushed hot with embarrassment and I didn’t even have to see mom’s smug grin to know what shade of red I was.
“Of course, you shouldn’t have gone out with her alone today if you just met,” she pulled some semblance of a stern face for just a second, but then broke into another embarrassingly wide smile, “but do tell me all about this Elf. Did you invite her here? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any Elves. Oh, for goodness sake, Rose, how old is she? This woman you just went on a date with could be some distant ancestor for all you know! Honey, she could have the plague—” Laurel tried and failed to contain a snort of laughter from where she was apparently eavesdropping just behind the kitchen wall. My face felt completely sunburnt. Like, fell asleep on a beach in July with no sunblock type burnt.
“Mom, god, stop! Ugh, why are you like this? You and dad aren’t any part Elf! I mean, really! Jesus Christ, she’s like two hundred something, she’s not that old!”
“Oh, no, that’s very young for an Elf. She actually let you come onto her?” Laurel snickered again. “Laurel Juno, if you’re going to listen, you had best come in here and sit down!” The giggling came to a screeching halt, and it took Laurel a couple of seconds to decide it was worth joining in on the conversation, but she did at least have the decency to look a little chastened about it. “Now, did you have anything to do with this whole Elf business?”
“I waited on her in the coffee shop, but that’s really it,” Laurel muttered, twisting her fingers around under the table. “I did tell her to ask you or dad about the whole sparking thing, though.”
“Oh, yes, that,” mom cleared her throat and neither Laurel or I called her out on having obviously forgotten about it. “Yes, Rosemary, what does the Elf have to do with your problem?”
“I mean, it like started when I started talking to her at the shop and was fine all last night until, ah, until we went out again today. So like, it might have something to do with her?” I found myself scratching at the back of my neck before I realized I was moving, and it almost distracted from my other hand wandering back to where the weird crick had been before. Laurel pretended not to notice, and I think mom was too focused on Elf and potential date to really see anything.
Laurel mumbled something quiet enough to sound tentative, but loud enough to immediately snap mom into total focus. She responded in a quick and tense tone, and I realized the two traitors had actually switched into Elvish, and were bouncing the words back and forth way too fast for me to make any sense of it. Laurel spoke in a hushed murmur but certainly seemed sure enough of whatever she was saying that had made mom scowl so deeply between her and me.
“Uh, hi? Mom?” She waved me off and continued rapidly with Laurel, her voice suddenly climbing higher and higher until she broke out into a wide, surprised grin like I haven’t seen from her in a while.
“Hello? Why are we smiling?” Decidedly done with their little exchange, both turned their eyes on me; mom was nearly bouncing in her seat, while Laurel still looked a little unsure. Couldn’t for my life guess what she could have been unsure about, but whatever. I’d annoy her and she’d eventually spill, maybe just not tonight.
“If you would listen to your sister and learn the language, you’d know.” I rolled my eyes. “What was the Elf’s name?”
“Mom, sparking problem? Potential exposure of our race? Not to mention the other Fae, including the Elf.”
“Yes, yes, I’m sure it will resolve itself in due time.” She flicked her hand impatiently, “tell me about your Elf-friend. Is she pretty?” Even Laurel, who was still a bit off in her head, cracked a smile at mom’s enthusiasm.
“Mom.” I rolled my eyes, deciding the rest of the conversation would just be an interrogation and made my escape.
“Honey, I’m just curious.” She tried a pout on me as I was about to duck out of the kitchen.
“Nope, gotta peel off wing bits, absolutely need to be not here now!” I called as I ran to the stairs and scrambled into my room before mom could offer to help and grill me even more.
Sighing out probably a year of my life as I closed my bedroom door, I pulled off my sweater and chucked it across the room, collapsing face down onto my bed. I shuffled my wings just a little to see if the broken one was getting stuck yet. To my relief, it wasn’t, and I reluctantly brought myself upright, sitting cross-legged on my mattress and beginning the annoying process of removing the damaged shell off my wing. It was never a pleasant ordeal; the shells were always hard to reach, and my bare wing always felt like old —really old— soggy lettuce. It was the only time I could ever feel anything on that wing, like after you just clip your nails and there’s that sliver of skin that’s entirely unused to sensation, and it’s was just such a weird feeling.
It took maybe half an hour, but eventually, I got the shell off, and, because I was so not into the idea of getting up and facing mom, left the two, maybe three, big pieces of exoskeleton on my floor to deal with when I got up.
So, naturally, I rummaged around under my pillows to find my phone —I don’t even know how it got there in the first place— and just about cooed like a pigeon when I found a couple of texts from Lydia.
From: cute skyscraper
>Sorry to bother you with this again, really it’s for my sake more than yours at this point, but you’re sure your wing is okay? The shell was taken care of well enough?
At first, I bit my lip to contain the smile that broke out at her concern, but I gave up on that almost immediately and ended up just staring at the message, a little star-struck, grinning like an idiot, and feeling really warm inside. Good warm, obviously; nothing like the crawling heat that climbed up my spine when I also noticed the text from my mom;
>I’ll find out her name eventually ;)
>Dinner is at 6 and if you leave another shell around your room, so help me god Rosemary I’ll be driving you to your next date
I scowled at those two messages for a couple of seconds, then decided to shove them as far into the dark recesses of my mind as I could, and text Lydia instead.
To: cute skyscraper
>it’s fine :)
>About you texting me I mean. And about the wing. Both fine.
>And thanks for the concern btw youre sweet
>wait shit are you one of those people that hate texting lingo???
Surprisingly enough, her response was almost immediate.
From: cute skyscraper
>I’m glad. I don’t mind it, no, but I can never stay entirely up to date with slang, so I apologize in advance for that.
>You should probably also know, I asked a friend if she knew anything about your situation, and she certainly knows something. She doesn’t seem intent on ever telling me, though.
To: cute skyscraper
>all good I was sort of forced to ask my mom about it, and she doesn’t seem worried at all... totally might just be cuz I mentioned you.
>Fairies are literally the most annoying things, I swear. I don’t think I’ve seen her this excited since that time LJ almost married a selkie like two summers ago
From: cute skyscraper
>Did she really? Remind me, I think I’d love to hear that story another time. For now, I have some business to take care of before my colleague gets in, so I’ll have to talk to you later.
>If it helps, do tell your mother I’d be interested in meeting her. It would be wonderful to hear from more Fairies as well.
To: cute skyscraper
>oml please for the love of god do not talk to her Lydia literally ANY other fairy just not her
>my dad if you HAVE to but my god I don’t think there’s a soul alive that could handle my mother around an Elf- ESPECIALLY u
From: cute skyscraper
>Right, I’m sorry, it slipped my mind. And while I am very interested in finding out why I am especially interesting to your mother, I really do have to go. I’ll talk to you later, Rose.
That stupid smile didn’t leave my face for a long time after our conversation, and even the weird tingle in my gut couldn’t stop me from being unreasonably giddy about just talking to her.
“Your mother tells me you went on a date today. With an Elf.”
I already had half a mind to just run off and skip dinner completely. Unfortunately, I still had classes tomorrow and waiting until the coast was clear enough to get food alone was just not going to work out in the long run; especially since I’d have to drive myself.
Still, I wasn’t even all the way into my chair when dad decided to join in the gossip. I hadn’t been downstairs since mom’s interrogation, but I could almost guarantee mom had spilled everything she knew to him before he’d so much as taken off his shoes at the door. I didn’t really expect her to last much longer than that, honestly. I glared across the table, at her coy smile, anyway.
To her credit, Laurel decided not to partake, and used the distraction to play on her phone while she ate; though she had a small, amused curl to one side of her lips.
“It was not a date, mom! I swear you two are the worst.” I growled down at the slice of homemade bread mom had put on my plate before I got here. It smelled amazing but I was willing to see how far my stubbornness would go; hopefully, something would give before the bread got cold.
“So you were with an Elf? Rosemary, did you know anything about this woman before you went out with her?” I grumbled a yes under my breath, hoping it was well between the lines of annoyed and not about to get me in trouble. “And did you think to tell anyone where you were going? Rose, you broke your wing while you were with her, do you have any idea how you would have gotten home if you hadn’t been able to contact Laurel?” I opened my mouth to point out I could have easily just asked Lydia, or have waited there a little longer, but dad beat me to it; “if that Elf had anything less than good intentions, Rosemary Smith the amount of trouble you could have gotten into,” he paused, drawing in a dangerous long sigh, “I do suppose, then, that we are all lucky she seems to have good intentions with you, ay?”
I don’t know if the impish grin that replaced the scowl on his face made me feel any better about how the conversation would go.