AN: Thanks again for all of the response! (And Birthday Wishes) Enjoy the next chapter….
"So what part of you have a merman-turned-human bleeding to death in your house was unimportant in your explanation of the events that happened on Tuesday?" asked Patrick casually, as he placed his sunglasses over his face.
It was Thursday and the five of us were lounging in the cove, relaxing in the surprisingly warm winter sunshine. I had noticed that despite Faro being equally balanced in both worlds now, neither the weather nor the plants had changed in their mimicry of summer. Rainbow was wearing a bikini and relaxing on her lounger, the scar from Tuesday still wrapped tight in a white bandage. She was reading some girly magazine, much to Conor's annoyance.
Conor himself was revising for his A-Levels, leaning forward on his towel, muttering algebraic equations to himself, whilst tanning. Faro and I were doing research for my Geography project, on the table we'd brought down so we could have our picnic today, provided by Mum, to get all of us out of the house. Patrick was doing nothing, to his eternal pleasure. Having finished taking his A-Levels before the Christmas break, he was blissfully free from any kind of homework or revision, until next summer rolled around, with his admission in Cambridge. He had only applied, but with Patrick's brains, it was almost guaranteed.
"The fact that it was 'need-to-know'," I said, looking up from my meticulously detailed research on the effect of water pollution on most animals, helpfully being provided answers from Faro's shared memory.
"And you didn't need to know," said Rainbow, a smile on her face, twirling her blonde hair around her finger.
"You didn't know either, Rainbow!" Patrick protested and she merely smirked.
"Yes, but I got told yesterday. And I participated in a ritual. While you were working in the Green Room." She said, smugness oozing from her tone.
"She gets to do everything first." whined Patrick, "Everybody loves Rainbow, and nobody loves me."
Conor looked up from his algebra revision. "When I first got to know you, I couldn't get you to talk. Now, I can't get you to shut up! And to think I used to call you shy!"
I snorted, calling Patrick shy, was like saying that the sky was green. Faro merely looked amused from where he was working.
"Is it always like this?" he asked in an undertone, as he glued down some pictures of dolphins trapped in nest on the paper for me, drowning out the petty squabbling between Rainbow and Patrick.
"Yeah, pretty much." I said, suppressing a smile.
He chuckled and we lapsed into a comfortable silence.
Only 1% of the world' water is drinkable. By polluting the water that we have, we render the water left for future generations undrinkable. As an idea for more sustainable water use we should..
I looked up from my writing and frowned. Faro looked pensive, stopped in the act of gluing, scissors upheld in midair.
"Faro?" I asked.
"An idea occurred to me." He said, looking quite fevered as he turned towards me.
"Faro is thinking. Shock horror!" said Conor from where he was scribbling down algebraic equations.
I shot him a dark look and motioned for Faro to continue. "You can't be the only people with Mer blood." he said and I nodded.
"We know. In Senara, there's another lady. Her name is Mrs. Gloria Fortune. She too has Mer blood. The sea was calling to me before the Crossing, and apparently it had called to her as well. She'd managed to make her way down to the cove and had fallen down the rocks, and broken her hip. If we hadn't been there, she could have died." I said, quickly narrating what had happened, curious as to where he was headed with the next point.
"Right, and if there are three people with Mer blood in this town alone, how many in the whole world? You said that 30% of Earth is land, correct?" he said, directing his question towards Rainbow.
Rainbow nodded. "That's right. If you look at a map, the sea is far more expansive than the land. But there are 7 billion people on this planet, Faro. If three, out of the thousand in Senara are Mer blooded, how does that translate to the whole population?"
"Yeah," said Patrick, "That's true, Rainbow. But then, your hypothesis is flawed. Senara is near the sea. How plausible would it be that if you were Mer-blooded, you'd be drawn to live near the sea?"
"Very." She admitted reluctantly. "Especially if the call of the sea is as strong as Sapphy described."
I nodded. "It might not affect you, the further inland you are, though. Our cottage is on the edge of the sea, it makes sense that it would be a strong pull."
"Yeah, but if you are physically drawn to be near the sea when its calling you, that you can even hear it, wouldn't it affect people inland as well? True, it wouldn't be as strong as it is for you, here on the coast, but it would be more subtle. A longing to live near the sea. That's more natural than the sea calling your name. More persuasive than the sea calling your name. That's just scary." said Patrick, playing with his sunglasses as he spoke, and I couldn't help but be persuaded by their argument.
"Yes, but the actual numbers doesn't affect me. It's that they won't have someone there like me or my sister, to help make that transition between Norvys and Ingo. And, that worries me, especially, if this Gloria lady was as close to death as you say. How fair is it to say that we should be able to help these poor people?" asked Faro, playing with the scissor blades absentmindedly.
I frowned at him. "This is really strange," I said to him.
"How so?" he asked back, his sea-green eyes piercing me with confusion.
"I've been thinking about this idea for days. It's why I decided that I want to be a member of the RNLI, the lifeguards who rescue people from the sea. Because, mostly its tourists who don't know enough about being in the water, but then, once in a while, it'll be someone with Mer blood, who heard the sea calling to them. And they'll need someone to explain it all to them. To tell them that they aren't going crazy." I explained, leaning forward, my geography project, now forgotten.
Conor sat up. "I've been thinking about it for days as well. I wanted to start a help group amongst the Mer. To help them deal with humans. Rule 1. Humans are not evil. Rule 2. Don't kill humans. Rule 3. Give humans food because you are nice Mer." I burst out laughing at that as did Rainbow.
"You were so not thinking about that!" I said, pointing a finger at him.
"Okay, so maybe not that in particular, but despite my efforts to put the world of Ingo out of my mind, it stays there." said Conor, frowning now. "It's been playing on my mind, that there were an abnormal number of deaths in the sea now and no one can figure out why. I was wondering whether that might have been Ervys' work."
"Enlighten me here," said Patrick, looking confused. "Who is Ervys?"
"A merman who believed that human blood shouldn't be tolerated by Mer and that humans should all die and that human supporters should just go away and rot in Limina."
"Sounds like Lucius Malfoy." snarked Patrick, but I was staring at Rainbow with a strange expression on my face.
"Conor and I didn't tell you that. How do you know that?" I said, and she looked sheepish.
"I might have a mental connection with Bannerys?" she said, sounding more like she was asking a question.
I suppressed the urge to shake her for not telling me, but I knew that that was hardly fair after keeping a secret from her for two years straight.
Faro sighed. "And Bannerys said that?" he said, looking skeptical.
Rainbow looked a little mischievous at this. "I may have paraphrased it a bit—"
"A lot." I muttered under my breath, Bannerys had not endeared me to him.
"A lot." She said delicately, glaring at me, and I was sure that it was Bannerys who was glaring back at me. "But the crux of it, is that he wasn't very nice."
Conor snorted, brandishing a pencil in Rainbow's face. "That's an understatement. If I remember rightly, he killed a dolphin and my father."
"Then you killed him," I hastily added, "You can't plead being completely innocent yourself."
"An eye for an eye. A father for a father." said Conor coldly, and it was in a voice that I didn't like.
"Human thoughts." said, Faro, dismissively. "Revenge is pointless. But now we've got the explanation of whom Ervys is, over, I think your deduction might be correct. Not just Ervys, his men as well."
Patrick looked pensive. "So what? What do you want to do about it? Talking is all very well, but you've got to do something to mean it."
"Start a group. A foundation for people with Mer blood. Find them and help them understand the world of the Mer." I said, immediately, my voice strengthening.
"They'll have to take the crossing." said Faro calmly, ignoring Patrick's confused look.
"Hmm." said Conor, non-committedly. "I can't see them being able to do it without Mer help. Sapphy and I would have been lost without you and Elvira. We'd need people from the Mer, willing to help them, who haven't taken the crossing yet."
"Speak for yourself, brother," I said, feeling a little impish, "I would have been fine, thank you very much."
"Right, and I'm the Queen of Sheba." said Conor, looking skeptical and Rainbow giggled.
"How do we do this all though? How do we even start it? Where do we start going about it?" I asked. , feeling more than a little overwhelmed by how much we'd have to do.
"Well," said Rainbow, "You can start by having good friends. You can start by passing your GSCEs and going out into the world. You can start by waiting and watching people to see if they have Mer blood."
"What," said Patrick, looking skeptical, "Like a Mer detector? This person has Mer blood. Look, they glow in the dark!" He said, speaking in a strange voice and I couldn't stifle the chuckle at his words. Rainbow didn't bother trying.
"Not quite like that," Rainbow said, and her voice sounded deeper. Presumably, it was Bannerys throwing in his two pennies. "Peoples' minds are a sure sign of whether they are Mer or not."
"It isn't foolproof, Bannerys." I said, rolling my eyes, "Conor doesn't have the mind thingy. Never has, probably never will. But then Rainbow and Patrick do. And Conor was drawn to the sea before I was."
"What mind thingy?" asked Patrick, looking terribly confused. I grinned devilishly.
Hello Patrick. I said into his brain and his tight, girlish scream from his chair as he stood up, twitching like something possessed, was more than enough to send all of us into fits of giggles.
After we all gasped for breath and Faro had seen what crying was like in the human world, as demonstrated by an inconsolable Rainbow, who had been literally howling with laughter, we settled back down into a companionable silence as we resumed what we had previously been doing.
The silence lasted for all of five minutes until Conor groaned and threw his algebra book to the ground with a poof of sand. "I can't do this! I can't study with that topic preying on my mind, Sapphy! Why did you and Faro have to bring it up?"
I shrugged but Faro grinned. "Are we going surfing now?" he asked, his white teeth glimmering as he looked terribly excited.
Conor sighed, and then shrugged. "Why not? Come on, let's head back to the cottage, I've got a wetsuit you can borrow. We'll need it; the sea's bound to be freezing."
The two boys loped back up out of the cove and I threw Patrick and odd look. "Aren't you going with them? I thought you loved surfing?"
He shrugged. "Can't be asked. Too nice in this sunshine, to have to brave the freezing cold waters. It may have the summer weather now, but the water is still from the Arctic Circle at this time of year."
I shrugged and went back to copying out some more analysis about the pros and cons of fishing with river-wide nets.
"You know," said Rainbow, "I still haven't forgiven you for not telling me about this before."
I looked at her. She threw me a serious look back, her blonde locks whipping into her face, as a sea breeze ripped into the cove. "But you were talking to me civilly today and yesterday." I protested.
"Yeah, I'm not 'angry', angry at you. But you owe me something." She said, looking very serious.
"Like what?" I asked, putting down my pen again.
"Like information. Why did you choose me as the child of Norvys instead of Patrick?" she asked and Patrick nodded.
"Yeah, why didn't you choose me?" he asked.
"Because you annoy me." I deadpanned and his face fell in mock-disappointment. "No, I'm joking. It's that, you are so strongly linked to the Earth. Patrick enjoys surfing and things to do with the sea. You much prefer being on dry land and horse-riding and normal things! And, I wanted Faro to recover, so I went for the strongest person tied to the Earth." I said, narrating what I hadn't really considered before.
"But there is something more, isn't there?" Rainbow said, frowning. I wondered whether she was unconsciously touching my mind and I closed it up.
"Yes. Once, Granny Carne said, when she showed me the heart of the Earth, just like I had seen the heart of the sea, she said that someone like you, who was tied so strongly to the Earth would walk right in. That was my first clue as to this puzzle piece. Then Faro and you got along like a house on fire. That was surprising, when I first met Faro, we argued about so much about everything. You seemed to click and understand each other. Then, I saw Saldowr. He's the sea's equivalent to Granny Carne. He's getting old and tiring. Faro's going to be the next guardian of the Ingo's heart but I thought that Granny Carne would be never be replaced because she is barely ever tired and old. But then, this past week, after helping Faro so much, she's drained. She's lost the energy. The power of the Earth remains, but the energy is gone. And I knew that someone would have to replace her. And, Rainbow. You won't want to accept it, but that person, is you. That's why I wanted you to help Faro, because you're the next Granny Carne. And I want to the sea and the Earth to be closer than they are now. You're linked to Faro and to Bannerys now, and they are linked to you. You understand each other now. And I don't know whether I did the right thing by linking all three of you together, but, it's done now. And we can't undo it."
I finished my rather long monologue and looked at Rainbow, who looked both shocked and horrified and pleased at the same time.
"Sapphire…" she said, looking conflicted and confused and I merely nodded towards her.
"I didn't know you could think!" said Patrick looking awestruck and the tension was gone between us, replaced with an easy laughter.
"Doofus!" I said, motioning to hit him. He ducked and we all laughed.
"What's going on?" asked Faro as he and Conor came down the rocks into the Cove, wearing full-length wetsuits.
My eyebrows rose as I saw him and Patrick wolf-whistled as Rainbow squeed and started whispering things in Conor's ear inbetween kisses. Much to Faro's discomfort. I started laughing and Faro quickly tackled me to the floor as I wrestled to get back up again.
"Don't laugh at me!" he said, looking mortified and I kissed him sweetly.
"Poor ickle baby! Too embarrassed about what he's wearing. Don't worry, Sapphy will kiss it all better." I said, making my voice sickly sweet and Faro laughed as he touched my mind lightly.
I love you, Sapphire. With all of my heart and soul.
Love you too, silly. With everything I've got. I said before he kissed me tightly. It was slow, and sweet, his mouth opening to allow my tongue to map his entire mouth.
"Ahem!" fake-coughed Patrick, as he looked slightly annoyed. Faro and I broke apart. "Weren't you going to go surfing? I didn't know that wetsuits caused instant attraction."
I laughed. "Jealous Patrick?" I asked and he rolled his eyes.
"No, he's bitter," said Conor, laughing as Rainbow finally let go of him. "He hasn't got anyone else to love."
Patrick crossed his arms and sulked in his chair, as Faro and Conor grabbed their boards and ran towards the sea. Conor exaggerated his movements so Faro could copy it and they swam out into the main bay.
"There they go." said Rainbow, a smile on her face.
I nodded. "If there was a sunset there, this would make this seem like some kind of perfect ending to a movie."
Patrick snorted. "It would be a strange movie!"
I laughed. "It's a strange story! Imagine people's reactions if we put on it, 'Based on a true story'. They'd think we're nuts!"
Rainbow giggled. "Isn't that the best impression of you for people to have?"
I like to think that our laughter at that phrase could be heard for miles.
It was evening of Thursday and we were dripping ourselves back to Granny Carne's house. Conor had come out soaking wet and decided it would be a good idea to try and hug all of us. He'd gotten Rainbow instantly, got me with some difficulty, but Patrick had long since escaped to the safety of our cottage, refusing to open the door so we could get some towels.
He'd only let Rainbow in, but kept the rest of us out. We'd rolled our eyes and gone to drop off Faro at Granny Carne's cottage. We'd deal with their treachery later, while watching a movie, before we all headed to bed. (They were staying over, after a request from Mum, after she'd found out that their parents were on holiday again, leaving Rainbow and Patrick behind)
Conor looked pensive as we squelched along the main road, to surprised looks from people in cars. "What's up, Conor?" I asked, thinking nothing of linking arms with Faro, now that we were soaking wet.
"It's Christmas soon, isn't it?" he asked and I felt surprised.
"It is, isn't it?" I said, feeling shocked. I had totally forgotten in all of the goings-on. "In about a week, right?"
"Yeah." said Conor and I felt a little non-plussed. Then I panicked as something dawned on me. "We haven't done present shopping yet! We'll have to go tomorrow!"
Conor laughed. "I wasn't actually thinking of that part of it! But yes, we will. Don't tell Rainbow we're going tomorrow, okay? I want to buy her something special. Actually, I was thinking of how we usually end up with white Christmases, yet, this year, it's a tropical Christmas."
I nodded, tropical Christmas was the best way to describe it. But I was distracted by a tug on my sleeve.
"Mer person in the vicinity? What's Christmas?" he asked.
I paused. How would you explain Christmas to someone who didn't know about it. Luckily, Conor was brilliant, as always.
"It's a celebration of the birth of someone who was very important to the religion, Christianity." He said, "You have heard of Christianity and religions, right?"
"Yes," said Faro, nodding, "It's another human way of reassuring themselves that magic can be controlled and isn't dangerous and that they don't actually have to make decisions because someone is watching over for them, making sure very decision they make is supposedly leading them to enlightenment."
I snorted. "That's a pretty good way to describe it actually. You'd probably get murdered by someone who was actually religious for describing it that way, but yes. Pretty much."
"Yes, well," said Conor, who was fairly religious, "On Christmas, a boy called Jesus, who was known as the embodiment of the Son of God was born. There's a whole nativity story around it which is quite charming, but I won't bore you with the details, because you and Sapphire are far too cynical for your own good."
"Like you aren't cynical!" I retorted.
"Well, not to the extent of you two. Anyway, Christmas is a time for companies to make lots of money, because everyone gives each other gifts to show their appreciation for getting two weeks of school and work. So everyone goes into shopping mode and starts buying presents for everyone and obsesses over whether its right for them or not. There's a whole culture around Christmas, with a fat man dressed in red, called Santa Claus who supposedly delivers presents to all of the children in the world. People like singing songs on the street everywhere, so if you come with us into town tomorrow, you'll probably see lots of them, singing what are called carols or filks about Christmas, for money, of course." said Conor listing off some of the more annoying aspects of Christmas.
"But basically, at the heart of it, Christmas is supposed to be about family, and love and spending time together and all of that sentimentality. Also, food. Lots of food. People like eating on Christmas. Mum always cooks a huge roast, which you probably won't be able to enjoy, because you are a vegetarian." I said, looking slightly bored as we made our way through the Downs.
Faro looked pretty overwhelmed. After a moment, he merely said, "You humans are strange." I couldn't argue with that, so we headed our way to Granny Carne's house in silence.
"When are you planning to go back to Ingo?" I asked, as we neared the front door.
"Whenever, really. Whenever I need to leave." Faro said, as he looked confused.
"Well then," I ventured, exchanging a look with Conor, "Stay until Christmas Day at least. Then we can have some fun, before you go. And we can show you some strange human customs."
Faro laughed. "Why not?" he asked and we both grinned as he opened Granny Carne's door and went inside.
AN: Yay, I can type faster than I thought! This is a little short, but filled with fluff and funny, and not too much plot. The drama is pretty much over with. Next time, it's Christmas, then Faro goes back to Ingo. Then, will come….the Epilogue.