And I knew that happiness--harmony on The Shelf in general, really--would require a very delicate balance, so before I wrought fresh havoc, I wanted to make sure that Eowyn's shieldmaidenly self-respect was fully activated. Shit, if I'd known she'd be so put off by the My Little Ponies, I would have taken her out to see The Littlest Edward WEEKS ago. So I went spelunking in my closet again, and emerged with--well, I don't know what brand he was (maybe a Breyer?), but I do remember that his name was Abdullah, so he was probably supposed to be an Arabian horse, and now that Eowyn had recovered her Eorling dignity, I felt like she deserved some positive reinforcement.
I would have liked him to be bigger--he was a bit pony-sized compared to Eowyn, and she was really too tall to ride him--but just being around a "real" horse was good for her, I think. You know, her being from a long, long line of Horsy People and all. "I shall call him Windfola," she said, eyes shining as she stroked his mane. And then she and Faramir went off to exercise him in the Fancy Living Room, which was great, because I had a general introduction to make.
It did not go as well as I had hoped.
So I was really, really counting on Windfola to reinforce Eowyn's
"Okay, we've got... Forster, Wharton, James, Dickens, Bronte, Shakespeare, Poe, books actually written in the last hundred years that you probably don't care about, some history--mostly Tudor, some medieval, a little Georgian--"
"Do you have any Proust?"
"Of course not."
"Okay, look, don’t get all uppity with me. I’ve read Proust in the original French."
"You’ve read all seven volumes of À la recherche du temps perdu."
"Well, no—I didn’t say I’d read the whole thing—I was a French/Spanish major, we had to—"
"You had to read the part about the madeleines, didn’t you? The part that everyone reads." He ran a hand through his hair. "Did you know that madeleines don’t even crumble? They’re spongy. Proust doesn’t even get the essential nature of madeleines right."
"I would argue that such an error actually reveals the true nature of nostalgia, that we remember things more fondly than they deserve—"
"So he remembers these wonderful madeleines as having a frail and inferior consistency?"
"It’s only inferior if you don’t like crumbs."
"You do? Do you even remember what crumbs are like?"
And I had my mouth open to say WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT but the words never came out because there, in the doorway, stood Eowyn, Faramir, and Windfola.
It was like you could see it happening in slo-mo: Eowyn's eyes got verrrrry biiiiiiig. Edward looked over and rooooollled his eeeeeyes. Faramir glared at me and twiiiiiitched a little.
"It's cool! It's cool!" I whispered to him. Although Windfola did not think it was cool--he started whinnying and bucking, and since Eowyn had insisted that he had the greatness of the Mearas and she could not force the indignity of a bit or saddle on him, she could only hold onto him by the neck and try to calm him down. This did not deter her in the slightest from gaping at Edward.
"You got another one," she breathed. Up on the file cabinet, he heard her (of course he did) and snorted. Dear reader, I am sorry to report that she was only more dazzled. "And he's... big."
"Yeah, but I'd be careful around him," I said, and then I pushed the only button I knew to push: "He's kind of an asshole. And also? He eats things. Lots of things. And he's hungry." And I shot a pointed look at Windfola.
Eowyn's face turned to steel. "NEVER."
And then Purple Arwen ran up to get her gossip on ("I KNOW, there's ANOTHER ONE, can you BELIEVE IT!"), but I was fairly confident that Eowyn would keep her head this time. Fairly.
"See? I told you it would be okay," I told Faramir, but he looked like his heart had only just then started beating again. He kept looking anxiously over his shoulder at Eowyn and Arwen (whose mouth was running a mile a minute), but I managed to send him off to help Lyra and Faramir Two patch up Iorek's new armor (Lyra and Iorek had been wrestling, there were a couple of tears, and with The Largest Sparklepire around, they weren't going to take any chances).
"Well, he's... tall," he said ever so eloquently to Faramir Two.
"Yeah he is," said Faramir Two, who mostly seemed amused by the whole thing. "If he were blond, I might be in trouble."
"Aren't you the least bit--concerned? For the others?"
"Oh, we're all concerned. And he's a creepy son of a bitch, that's for sure. On the other hand, he's got an excellent sense of style, and Serafina is watching him like a hawk. It'll all come out in the wash."
"How's that going, anyway?" I asked. "The Serafina thing?"
"Well, I admit, I am a little more committed to finishing that bow for her now that he's around."
"What's the holdup on that, anyway? I mean, I can understand wanting to put some craftsmanship into it, but I didn't think it would take this long."
He averted his eyes. "I said we could... well, we could try... once it was finished. So it's been very hard to find just the right branch, you see. And you really need to let bow wood age for optimal draw weight. Oh look, it snapped! I guess we'll have to find another one. And so on."
It had crossed my mind that Serafina might transfer her attraction to New Edward--he is, after all, her size--although I wasn't sure whether that would be better or worse. Better for Faramir Two, certainly, and if nothing else, she wouldn't be able to kill Edward—he’s a sparklepire, after all, and can only be killed by dismemberment and fire, and I have a strict rule about no open flames around The Shelf. (The Aragorns were very disappointed when I wouldn't let them roast things. "Not even marshmallows?" "NO!") On the other hand, Edward had had such a viscerally negative response to her on first sight, and also: the Bella thing. And also-also, if The Littlest Edward was any indication, New Edward was almost certain to have Uptight Virgin issues. Also3: New Edward is kind of a jerkass. I had my doubts that it could possibly end well.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), I had forgotten that witches have their own peculiar standards:
"So... you don't find him the least bit attractive?"
"He has a pretty face, but I see nothing beautiful in him, nothing fine or manly or brave. He is a predator, and he threatens what I love," she said, her eyes resting on Lyra (who was now knife-fencing with Faramir Two on the printer table).
"Oh burn, Serafina! ICE BURN."
She shrugged. "Not all of us can be dazzled."
I was distracted just then by--not a sound, but a lack of sound; I looked over, and Purple Arwen was leaning in to confide something to Eowyn. I bent over in my chair and started conveniently sorting through a stack of books on the floor.
"NO! But--where is she now?"
"Cleo took her off somewhere, and no one's seen her since--well, I have, because I'm in charge of pie, you know. I'm the one who takes food to her. But I'm not supposed to tell anyone--Lizzie can't know, you know she'd just go in and break her out. She's really upset over the whole thing."
And to Arwen's credit, she didn't divulge the secret, not even to Eowyn. But as I straightened back up, I saw The Littlest Edward watching them, and I gave him a warning look. He was hoping she'd say where I'm keeping Anna, I thought. I'm sure he'd run off and tell Lizzie--they're all in it together now against the new Edward, after all. And he can't read my thoughts, so he wouldn't be able to get her whereabouts from me. But because he can't read mine, I tend to forget that he can read everyone else's. And it didn't occur to me at the time--look, this is a three-ring circus I'm running here now--that Arwen would, of course, be imagining what she knew, even if she didn't share it out loud.
(More from the Secret Life of Dolls; fan community)