The thing is, if Anna had really wanted to escape, she could have. I mean, look at the giant heart-shaped hole; she could have climbed out of that, don't tell me she couldn't. But she seemed broken these days--not because Tonner Edward had thwarted her attack, and not even because he had done it so easily, but because of... the furious kitten neck-scruff thing. I mean, I'd be pretty humiliated too. And when Purple Arwen, the Keeper of Pie, brought food to her, she refused to eat. (I would have been more concerned about a hunger strike except that the dolls don't have to eat; it's just something nice for them.)
"Lizzie can come visit, if you want..."
"No," she said heavily. "I don't want her to see me like this. I have been shamed in the eyes of my village and my family. My father would die of shame to see me, if he weren't dead already. And you know how he got dead? VAMPIRES."
"You know, you can come out any time you want to. All you have to do is promise that you won't attack the Edwards again."
"My duty is time-honored and sacred," she said stubbornly. "If I can't do it, I might as well stay here and rot."
So... she stayed in the cabinet, and that was that.
Elizabeth, as you can imagine, was Not Happy, not with me and particularly not with Tonner Edward--although, creepy as he was, I could hardly blame him for disarming an attacker in self-defense. The next incident, however, was entirely his fault. That day, it was cloudy enough for him to sit by the window and read (Poe--my illustrated Tales of Mystery and Imagination), but even then he was on the far side of the printer (hiding from the Ellowynes, actually), minding his own business at first. But Lizzie decided this was way too close to Lyra and Iorek (and Faramir Two, truth to be told), who were romping on the bed, and she marched over to give him a piece of her mind. As he told the story to me later, he could of course hear her thoughts before she even got there, and she was still fuming over Anna's failed attack--the memory of which made him smirk a little--so here Elizabeth comes to antagonize him, and he's already feeling a bit sardonic.
"I'll be watching you," she announces, pointing a finger at him.
"Watch all you want," he says. "Hope you like what you see."
("You really are an asshole," I told him. "Look, she was the one who got in my face," he said.)
And that was exactly what she did, get right up in his face and tell him through gritted teeth, "Maybe you got her out of the way, but you've got someone your own size to pick on now, and so help me, I'll take you down."
It was at this point that Edward--backed into a corner, let's be fair--decided to fuck with her. Obviously he was supposed to riposte with something threateningly snappy at that point, but he didn't. She waited. He looked her in the eye. She stared at him. He reached out to touch her hair, ran his fingers through it, pushed it back off her neck, gazed into her eyes. She stared at him. Her shirt collar was open--she's a pirate, after all--and it was warm, so she didn't have her coat on. He pushed her face gently (so he claims) to the side, touched her throat, and leaned in.
Now, I don't think he ever intended to bite her for real. When he says he was just screwing with her (well, he didn't say anything so vulgar; I believe the way he put it was "remind her what she was dealing with"), I truly believe him. He was even a little surprised, he said, when she then stretched upward to meet him, and even slid her hand around the back of his neck--for leverage, as it turns out, because the next thing she did was ram her knee upwards. And that was how I found him, curled up on the printer table groaning, "Not marble! So very not made of marble!"
So you can understand why maybe he wanted to spend more time out in the hall. I mean, even aside from the fact that the upstairs hall is one of the few places in the house with no windowage at all (and the Ellowynes were still on the lookout for sparkle), there was also the problem of everyone hating him.
"Man, try being less creepy. It’ll change your life, I swear."
"All I ever did was walk into the room. Everyone hated me before I even opened my mouth. I could hear them thinking it. It's the same no matter where I go."
The strange thing was, a certain acknowledgement of Edward's superiority was mixed in with that hate (or this is what I gathered from what he told me). The Shelfians were afraid of him because he was the tallest, because he was the strongest, because he was handsome (and fully aware of it). And The Littlest Edward could hear all this as well (he seemed to be ignoring the No Mind-Reading clause of the Iorekian Truce), and of course it gave him an inferiority complex. I mean, a new one. So I decided that it was time for another confidence booster: new ponies. Well, not new ones, but more vintage ponies from my closet. And if you're going to give him one, you might as well give him two, or even three (three is such a nice magical number), and that would mean a total of nine ponies, so you might as well round it up to four for an even ten. So I put them in a big white basket, since there wouldn't be any more room in the carrycase. And while I was in my closet, I found exactly what he needed:
It's amazing what a home--or at least a stable, in this case--of one's own will do for a man's (or sparklepire's) self-esteem. And this is not even to mention the fact that his ranch now took up so much space that we had to relocate to my sister's old room.
"The back of the roof's kind of yellow--I couldn't get that off no matter what I tried, I think the plastic's just aged, I don't know."
"Don't worry about it," he said, enchanted with his new property. We moved a few of his things in there--not the piano; we decided that it could stay by my desk so everyone could listen--as well as the original accessories the stable came with. (I do need to raise his easel up on something, though.)
"There's even a bed--"
"... I don't think I'll need that."
"Oh, I don't think it's long enough anyway," I said quickly. "And it's way too girly. Forget I mentioned it! Stupid bed!"
And of course the new ponies loved him--he really does seem to have a way with them, I don't know. And naturally he was extra concerned for their welfare now that The Largest Sparklepire was wandering around, bored and hungry. Tonner Edward mostly looked askance at them, though.
"They must taste like candy."
"THESE ARE NOT FOR EATING!"
"Who was Megan?" he asked, peering at the sticker over the barn doors.
"I don't know, but she must have been an excellent caretaker--the ponies won many ribbons and trophies while she was in charge. I can only hope to live up to her legacy."
"What's wrong with that one?"
"There's nothing wrong with Sundance!"
"Then why is she wearing a muzzle? What, is she My Little Hannibal Lecter or something?"
"That is a BRIDLE, are you IGNORANT."
"Pardon me--I earned two degrees in medicine, not midget pony husbandry." He flicked at the weather vane. "Does this even work?"
"There's a nice breeze from the air conditioner," I said helpfully.
"Why do you even have a saddle for the pony? No one's going to ride her--she's too small even for you."
"Perhaps someday... perhaps there will be someone else around," he said hesitantly, and I was surprised--this was the first time he had ever indicated any hope for someone to share his tiny loathsome monsterness with. He looked up at me: "Didn't you say there were others... my size?"
I have a feeling he was thinking of the Bella figure I had shown him, perhaps more positively this time. And of course now Tonner Edward, who was (rather rudely) reading The Littlest Edward's thoughts, was seeing her too, and The Littlest Edward could read that Tonner Edward was reading his thoughts, and there was a tense moment where their eyes locked and--presumably--they had some kind of entirely mental skirmish over a female action figure that so far only exists as a two-dimensional image in The Littlest Edward's memory, NECA, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET ON WITH THAT.
Tonner Edward broke the eye lock--I guess he gave up?--straightened his shoulders, and ran a hand through his hair. "By the way," he said to me in a bad attempt at a casual tone, "you should probably know that the gypsy escaped this morning."
"He told the pirate girl where she was," he said, jerking his head in The Littlest Edward's direction.
"EDWARD SOMETHING WHATEVER CULLEN! YOU DID NOT!" Although of course, at that moment I realized that The Littlest Edward must have read Purple Arwen's pie-delivering thoughts as well. It would have been very easy to sidle up to Elizabeth and drop the vaguest hint about the bathroom--in fact, I wondered now if he might have been prompted to do it as appreciation for the racking of Tonner Edward.
He hung his head, not even bothering to protest his innocence. "Are you going to take away my ponies now?"
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