"EDWARD--" My indignation was hamstrung by the necessity of checking the back of his box. "--ANTHONY MASON CULLEN! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?"
"Just kill me," he wailed, "let them kill me!"
Lyra flung the bookmark down so she could attend to Iorek ("Iorek dear! Iorek, are you all right?!") while Iorek strugged to right himself ("LYRA! I SEEM TO BE UNBALANCED!") while Pan snarled at Edward, his fur all bristled up. Anna then seized the bookmark and picked up where Lyra left off.
It was at this point that Edward discovered something I could have told him weeks ago: he is not, in fact, made of marble. Somehow, it wasn't the attempted bear exsanguination (explushination?) that woke the Shelf; it was the tiny, tiny screaming.
"What the hell is going on?"
"HE TRIED TO EAT MY BEAR!"
" . . . "
Yeah. You know the cliché about the villagers with the torches and pitchforks? Change that to "daggers and swords." This is not a group of people you want to piss off--most of them are trained soldiers, except for Elizabeth, who is a trained pirate. Even the Arwens have been known to cast Magic Missile now and then. So I'm trying to calm down the mob while Anna's stamping her foot and whacking The Littlest Edward and shouting gypsy curses (most of which translate, I imagine, to "I TOLD YOU SO"), and then, a light at the other end of The Shelf comes on.
"WHAT IS GOING ON OUT HERE?"
Lyra ran to her.
"... HE DID WHAT TO YOUR BEAR?"
Edward was still meebling about how thoroughly he deserved to die when I scooped him up and fled to the attic.
I set him down on the little fold-up desk. He curled up into a ball. I pulled on the string that turns on the one light source in the room, a bare lightbulb. Yes, like a hard-boiled interrogation room. No, really, I'm not kidding, that's really what my attic's like.
We sat there a few moments.
"Edward--what were you thinking?" I said finally.
"I told you over and over again, I tried to warn you that I'm dangerous!" he said, his voice quavering. "I'm so weak--I'm such a monster!" And then he began to beat his head against the wall.
"Oh--for God's sake--don't--STOP THAT."
"I'm glad I'm not made of marble." (Thonk, thonk.) "I deserve to feel pain." (Thonk, thonk, thonk.) "I deserve to feel a lot of pain."
"Okay, now you're just making me uncomfortable."
He kept on with the head-banging, though, so finally I picked him up and set him back down on his feet. "What were you going to do? Finish Iorek and then go after Lyra? Or would you have to go through Pan first?"
"I would never hurt a child!" he cried, shocked.
"Oh, but you'll just eat her bear."
"I--I just--I'm just so hungry!"
Oh. Uh. This had not occurred to me. That he would need to eat at some point. Because apparently I'm an idiot. A dozen different things flashed through my mind--all those times he didn't want to be around the girls, it wasn't just because they were annoying the hell out of him (although I'm sure they were, EOWYN); it was because he was afraid he would Lose Control Omg and attack them. Duh.
"Why didn't you say something?"
"I... I thought I could control myself..."
"So you just weren't going to eat anything at all? You were just going to starve to death? How did you even think you were going to--"
"No, I was eating something--I was eating... I guess you'd call them dust bunnies."
You know that icon I have? This one?
That's kind of what my face looked like just then.
"But then you went around cleaning, you see, and there weren't any left, and..."
That's right: the one time I clean, this happens.
When I regained my powers of speech, the first thing I asked was, "But--did they taste good? At all?"
"No, of course not, they were disgusting. But I wasn't going to--I was too proud--I thought I could manage it, maybe I could be the first vampire to be in complete control of his urges, I could try--I didn't want to hurt anyone! But then... the bear..." His eyes glazed over. "He was just sleeping there... he looked so... fluffy, and... delicious..." And Edward covered his face and sobbed.
Clearly, something would have to be done. I would have to go back in there and take the blame for everything--sincerely, because it really was all my fault. (What did I think he was eating? Stupid!) But what about future nourishment? Which stuffed animals would I have to sacrifice to the cause? Did we have anything boxed up in the attic, maybe? But what would we do after we ran out of those? Stuffed animals get expensive, you know, and what would I do with the--empty carcasses? It was all just--too weird--to contemplate.
And then I had an epiphany. You have to go through the bathroom to get to the attic, so I ducked back in, opened a drawer, and grabbed a handful of cotton balls.
"You know how they have blood banks?" I said. "Think of it as donated plush."
He took one, doubt writ large (or maybe "less small than usual") on his face, and took the tiniest nibble.
"How is it?"
"Well... I've had worse."
"Well, yeah, you've had dust bunnies."
He stood there holding his cotton ball, and I stood there waiting, and he stood there, and I stood there.
"Well... I'll leave you to it, then."
But as I turned back to close the door behind me, I saw him wolfing down cotton as fast as he could go.
So... that's one problem solved. One.
(More from the Secret Life of Dolls; fan community)