Sorry if there are any spelling errors. I only quickly scanned through this. Also, sorry if Kelpie's personality doesn't really fit. I haven't re-watched Earl and fairy for a while. R&R
A week passed, and came the time that Helena was to leave.
In a second of jumbled emotions, Raven despaired her parting. He was fond of Helena in a way he could not explain. She understood him more than anyone ever had, and seemed to accept him as he was. No one but Edgar was truly relaxed in his presence. Perhaps Lydia was also, but it was Helena who saw through Raven with the sharpest accuracy than he knew Edgar could never compete against. She was intelligent, witty, and, most of the time, indecipherable in her own thoughts and feelings.
But that did not hide her overall charm. Her friendship with Lydia grew everyday as they discussed faeries and toyed with Nico, and Raven knew from sight that Edgar didn't remain untouched by her uncommon brilliance. But she, in turn, was not affected by Edgar's natural attraction in the least, in which Lydia was. She seemed at times amused, standoffish, cunning, cold, impassive and wise all without batting an eyelash. That mysteriousness of her character naturally brought in inquisitiveness. Raven could not understand this girl; she was like an endless maze that twisted interminably in all different directions; the further you studied, the more lost you became.
And yet, with all the words she spoke and reactions she gave, when Raven examined everything he knew about her in whole, he found but the bare minimum. He could not fathom how. He spoke less than her, reacted less than she, and yet she was able to read him so well. How then, could he not with her?
Yet could she still be an agent of the Prince? It seemed so unlikely . . . She didn't appear suspicious at all, and hadn't made a move in an attempt to apprehend their small-knit group. Raven struggled with himself for this, trying to reason with himself, but his heart, which had remained dormant for all these years, began to thud for Helena. And it was his heart that decided the choice for him.
It didn't matter if Helena was of royal blood. The feeling was of his own, and although Raven was dimly aware he was betraying Edgar's trust, he knew this feeling was one he would never share, and so used the secrecy to his advantage.
Therefore, when she announced her parting, Raven wanted her to stay, for he feared that he would never again meet someone whom he could relate to so easily. On the other hand, he also wanted her to leave, for Raven was uneasy of how easily she could understand him. Of those two opposite decisions, he could not choose which, and so remained silent when Helena spoke to Edgar about this matter.
"My apologies, but I am saddened by your leave and wished for you to stay, if only for a little longer." Edgar said one morning. They were in the longue, after breakfast. "I was eager for you to help me send a message to your cousin, his Majesty."
"Oh?" she cocked a brow. "Then, if you wish for me to do you a favor and send it personally, I will, Earl Ashenbert."
"However, there is one problem; I haven't finished my imperative note." A smile danced on his lips. "I feel embarrassed for explaining my leisureliness to you."
"None at all," Helena's raven hair blazed in the morning sunshine. "I don't have anything important to do from now 'til Wednesday the next week; therefore, I'll stay for a few more days until you're done." Raven's stomach lurched unexpectedly. "My cousin is busy; with me to send it, it would be the fastest and the most efficient if this letter is as important as you deem. If you'll excuse me, I must discuss this with my ride." And she exited the room to speak to her carriage driver, the one that had been waiting at the foot of the mansion.
When Helena had gone, Raven glided towards the window and peered out of the curtains, waiting as he saw Helena's flowing black hair appear as she walked to the single carriage. "She has gone."
"Good." Edgar called for Lydia, and explained to her about the message.
Lydia frowned. "But you—"
"I'm not working on a letter," Edgar sighed. "I lied about that one, but I had to save time. We can't allow Helena to escape. What if she's returning to the Prince and conveying all the information she'd collected? No; I won't let her out of my sight."
"So you still believe that Helena is a servant of the Prince." Her voice held a note of venom Raven had never heard before. Her eyes narrowed, and her expression darkened.
Edgar's lips tightened and he clasped Lydia's hands in his own. "Lydia, I know that you find Helena as a good friend, but not everyone can be trusted." He stroked her hands. "I just want you to be safe."
"By abandoning my friends is what you call safety!" Lydia's face was contorted by a scowl, and she yanked her hands away. "'Not everyone can be trusted,' you said. How can I be sure that you're just trying to trick me in to believing that Helena's my enemy? How?"
Edgar backed away, stunned. "Lydia . . ."
"Lydia, Lydia," she mocked, sneering. "Is that all you can say? I thought that you would trust me for once." Without a backward glance, Lydia burst the doors open and fled, slamming them shut. The men listened in silence as her footsteps faded away.
Raven started forward, intended on following her, but was stopped by a hand on his shoulder. He turned, surprised. "Lord Edgar . . ?"
"Leave her be." Edgar lifted his head and attempted to smile, but failed. "Let Lydia mull her thoughts over before I speak to her." And, all but dragging his feet, Edgar left the room in measured steps. The oiled hinge of the door closing sounded louder in the newfound silence.
Raven hesitated; tempted to follow his master, but an impulse forced him to redirect himself to the window. Ever so slightly, Raven drew aside the curtains and looked below at Helena.
Her eyes too, were focused up at him, solemn and cold, yet also aglow with an unusual light. A chill crept through him, and Raven shut the curtains with a flick of his wrist.
Helena felt a twinge of alarm at the back of her head, and lifted her eyed to regard the window. The Ring of Gwendolen had done its work. A feeling of satisfaction crept through Helena, one that was unburdened by thoughts of guilt. They were tools, after all. Merely tools for her to use until they broke.
Helena blinked as the curtains were drawn aside somewhat, and the green, almost black eyes of Raven peered down at her. Their eyes locked, before the hangings obscured them again. She faltered, perturbed. Her hands touched her temples, massaging them. Merely tools . . .
The Prince will be pleased.
That thought dashed all others. Helena faced the driver again, lowering her hands. "That is all, Brian. You may go."
The driver wore a simple beige jacket with a brown tie, his dark hair cut close to the head. Leery, snide eyes gleamed underneath a sloping hat that hid his brows. His nose was large and sausage-like at the top, but as it slanted down, it ended with an unpleasant curl with upturned nostrils. His large, thin mouth, circled by deep wrinkles, opened and gaped akin to that of a fish. His posture was slightly stooped, his neck arched and devoid of flesh, while the rest of his body was embellished by his large padding of unkempt clothes. When he moved his arms, the sleeves flapped. He seemed to be the combination of a vulture and a puckish weasel.
His voice wheezed unlike any others. "Have you finished the job, m'lady?"
"Certainly," Helena withdrew a dollar note and gave it to Brian. Wrapped in the paper was a small key. Helena raised a questioning brow. "Had you expected anything else?"
"Not for one moment, I have." He weighed the note and hidden key in his hand, before slipping it into his coat. "Your expertise is appreciated, m'lady." He gave a short bow, and climbed onto his carriage. There was the sound was whips as it slapped the horses, and then drove away into the woodland once more.
Later that day, Helena leaned against her door and listened with her inner ear as Edgar attempted to apologize to Lydia. None of his pleading did any good. The curse inside the moonstone provoked Lydia to act stubborn and distraught. It would gradually increase until Lydia would be teetering on the edge of madness, and the only way Edgar could break this spell was to promise to drop all suspicions of Helena. It was a risky plan, but it would be well worth the risk if it worked. Besides, even if Edgar stopped his investigations, the moment he started again, the spell would be triggered. Endless circles within endless circles.
Helena smiled. Perhaps with all this time with the Prince, his teachings in hiding their trails had interwoven with her character. She was aware with how unpredictable she was, and instead be frightened and troubled with such a realization, as normal people would do; Helena was elated by this and encouraged it. She would always be a shadow behind a shadow, to hide behind a duplicate for all eternity. It would be for the best, for Helena's true self to fade away, and never—
No! She could not think of these thoughts . . . Not while she was here. Helena must be focused on her work, lest it should waver and she to fall to oblivion.*
Helena released a slow, calm breath, just as she had been taught, and straightened, thrusting herself from the door. "Taëth madra." The windows' curtains fluttered, and closed with a snap. Helena strode forward and was about to prepare for bed, when a sudden wind shook her nearest window. Helena paused, her eyes fixing on the curtains.
The draperies fluttered as the windows flew open, and an unearthly blast of energy propelled Helena backwards.
The sudden force set Helena off balance, but as she was thrown back, she somersaulted in the air with inhuman speed and grace, the helm of her gown flapping, landed, and crouched on the ground with a hand forward like a sprinter. From her sleeve, Helena extracted a naked dagger, one with a leaf-like tip and short cross-hilt.
Helena stood languidly, prepared to fight if needed.
She eyed the scene. The wind had sent everything on her desk and pillows laden on the ground, some vases shattered, with water still darkening the carpet, and a few light-weighted chairs toppled to its side. In the center of the untidiness, a tall, handsome man stood there, the window curtains still flapping ominously behind him.
His curly dark hair fell over his violet eyes, which swirled eerily with white. Helena drew herself up with distain. So, 'tis a kelpie that caused all this. What would one be doing here?
"Yo," He peered around him with a slight contempt. "Nice place you have."
"Why, thank you, even though it isn't mine." Helena twirled the dagger in her hand with a speed that hinted her skill. She watched the light dance off the blurring blade, creating a faint halo of white. "You are very rude, barging in here without notice. Have you any aware on what time it is?"
"Enough of the crap." The kelpie snapped. He sauntered forward. "I know a fey when I see one; you're an elf, and a powerful one. Why is one of your kinds doing here so near a fairy doctor?"
"It's none of your concern, kelpie." Her gaze rested heavily on him. "But I, unlike you, have manners. What is your name?"
He stiffened, drawing to a stop. "Cain."
"Well then, Cain . . . What are you doing here, so near a fairy doctor?"
"None of your business," He sneered. "But I just want to know, what the hell you're doing bewitching Lydia. Your kind doesn't usually dwell on human affairs, so lay off Lydia, and return to wherever you were, else you'll be sorry."
"We just met and you're already threatening me? Nice way of showing courteousness."
In a flash, Cain disappeared and reappeared before Helena, so close that she could feel his breath. Cain slammed his fist against the wall, shattering it, an inch beside her head. Helena didn't even blink, but gazed up at Cain with dark amusement, eyes gleaming.
He began to breathe heavily, nostrils flared. "Stay away from Lydia. I don't care about the others, but don't you even look at her, or you'll pay."
"If you wanted me to distance myself without bother, why didn't you kill me beforehand?" When Cain didn't respond, she . "My power is twenty times stronger than yours; you couldn't even scratch me if you wanted." Her eyes flashed amber, and a sudden force caught Cain in the chest, tossing him backwards, to hit the opposite wall. There was a crack sound as the wall behind him splintered.
Helena strode forward to Cain's unresponsive figure, and squatted beside him.
"Please," he murmured, almost begging. Blood trickled out of the corner from his mouth. "I'll do anything in my power, but don't hurt Lydia."
Smiling, as one would to an ignorant child, Helena reached forward and patted Cain's head; he flinched at the contact. "The difference between you and me," she whispered. "is power. The victor always towers above, triumphant, while their enemies lay piled by their feet.
"But you see, Cain, many things can happen from now to then. If you don't do as I wish, then I'll be sure to add a bit more in remembrance of you . . ."
He scowled. "Bitch,"
"The last who said such a vulgar word to me is out smothering in his grave." She held a finger to her lips. "Best be quiet, don't you agree?"
When he remained silent, shooting her dirtiest looks possible, Helena stood and smoothed her gown. "I wish to propose a proposition to you, and if you approve the terms, then I'll do all in my power to keep Lydia Carlton safe."
"You promise?" he said suspiciously.
"Promise," Snatching a pen from the ground, she drew a strange symbol on her arm, and held it out to the kelpie. His eyes widened, and he reached out and touched the mark. It vanished from her skin to appear on his arm. "A fey promise."
Cain considered the icon, before spitting out, "Fine. What is it?"
When she explained it to him, Cain's expression soured, and he sighed. "Whatever," and stood to leave. But as he was about to depart from the window, he turned to look at Helena again. "There is someone you want to protect, isn't there?"
"You speak of nonsense," Helena said irritably.
"Oh, I might not be able to control you, but I can see well enough into your soul." he leered. "Maybe you're not all faithful as you seem you are." And he melted into the darkening shadows.
Helena narrowed her eyes, closed the window, and as repaired the broken pottery with magic, she fumed about what the kelpie had said.
Later, when she lay down in bed, Helena closed her eyes, drifting to sleep. The kelpie was correct. She admitted.
There is someone I want to protect.
With all of my heart.
Chapter Notes: * hint, hint