We've had a lot of upheaval around the house, of which the Compocalypse was actually only a small part, and one of those events resulted in the expulsion of The Littlest Edward and his ponies from my sister's
"So... you know... there's room in the living room if you needed to... store something there," my mother had said rather unexpectedly. (Remember, this is the tiny room with the Good Sofa that we don't use. It's more "the place you walk through to get to the dining room.") "Since you need room for... things."
I don't know how much she knows about the Shelfians. I think it's probably for the best if I don't ask.
So The Littlest Edward resettled in the tiny living room with my mother's old piano ("Don't you DARE let them mess up the Good Carpet!"), surveying the open sides (the dining room on one side and the front-hall foyer on the other) with some dismay. "What I really need," he said, and this was the last thing I expected him to say, "are some dogs."
"To herd the ponies," he said, as if this should be obvious. "I don't have enough fence to keep them safely penned in, and there's no door to shut--I suppose I could train some of the older ponies, but some sheepdogs to round them up would be ideal..."
Over by the piano pedals, Clarice growled.
"I... I'll see what I can do."
So I'm heading upstairs to figure out what the hell I'm going to do about getting Edward some freakin' ponydogs (note to self: many Webkinz dog breeds. Might have a couple on premises. Hm), and he hasn't even thought about Bad Cat being on the prowl downstairs yet, and there's Galadriel up on the landing waiting for me:
"There's something we need to talk about," she said in a low voice. "About Faramir and Serafina--"
"Okay, look, if you are going to WORRY about this PROPHECY we are just going to ASK LYRA--"
"Excuse me, this isn't ABOUT the alethiometer, if you DON'T MIND," she snapped. "Lyra says Serafina has been out under your deck mixing something in the old birdbath."
"To drink, it looks like. She says Serafina puts leaves and flowers in it, perhaps herbs--she isn't sure--"
"Well, and what the hell herbs do we have around here?"
"--and when she's done with it, puts it in a bottle. The empty brandy bottle, actually."
When she's done with it... not when she was, when she is. "She's done it more than once?"
"At least twice that Lyra's seen."
"Do you think she's trying to... poison...?"
"Lyra hasn't seen her give it to anyone."
"But she apparently has a need to make more than one batch, so she's either using it or stockpiling it somewhere..." I rubbed my eyes. "Look, you investigate this. I mean. If you can. Please. I... I've got my hands full over here."
Tonner Edward, you see, was not dealing well with his rival's romantic victory. Don't get me wrong--he was admirably chivalrous about the whole thing, bowing out gracefully once the lady had clearly made her choice (short version: tiny vampire = sexyhawt; large vampire = creeper. Don't ask me, I don't even know) and there was, apparently, no hope left for him. He did have his honor and he did have his pride, after all. The problem was, he also still had his crazy. Perhaps he had given The Littlest Bella up, but the pain was still there: a furious heartsick disappointment that he was too noble to direct at either of the Littlest Shelfians, turning it inwards instead--feverish with despair, inflamed with chagrin. And also, the epic migraine wasn't helping.
"I've had it since... that day," he groaned. He had been curled up on the Good Sofa downstairs (where he wouldn't have to see the tiny, tiny girl he loved happy with someone else) until even that sanctuary had been denied him. By ponies. Now he was moaning beneath one of my pillow shams . "But... it's moved into my heart as well. Right here," and he clutched at his chest. "It stabs, it burns--I never knew love could hurt like this--"
"Well, the heart is an organ of fire," I said, unable to think of anything more helpful (maybe I'd have to have Galadriel look into this predicament as well. If nothing else--maybe get White Arwen on the case as well).
The Littlest Shelfians, meanwhile, were getting along like a house asparkle, when they were actually together. Now, instead of being only one room away from her, Edward was a whole floor, a mountain of stairs separating him from his tiny beloved; at feeding time, he would gaze up at the ceiling forlornly mid-pitch, while Clarice sulked behind him under the sofa. But he could not leave his ponies--the ponies that trusted him, needed him, depended on him. It was bad enough to slip away now and then--particularly in the evenings, when he ought to be reading to the baby ponies; Clarice could do it, but tended to tell bedtime stories about bad, bad, little, short girls who got eaten by wolves or witches or stepmothers and then the handsome prince was forced to come to his senses and see the real, true, loyal, woolly love who had been at his side the whole time--to call upon Bella.
Speaking of whom--turns out that The Littlest Bella gives Lyra a run for her money in the chatterbox department once you get her going (although I suppose Pokey could have told you that. Well... actually, I guess he couldn't)--her favorite books, her favorite colors, her favorite gemstones, her favorite bands, her favorite recipes, and her most cherished aspirations (which were really interesting, considering that she didn't have any in the books). "He's way better than a cactus," she gloated ("And even more dangerous!" I said cheerfully). Little Edward, meanwhile, was more than happy to let her talk his marble ear off because she insisted on holding hands while doing so, and it was the height of bliss for him to have his cold dead sparkly hand held by someone warm. (Spare a thought here for Tonner Edward, who had not yet experienced even that simple a pleasure.) He wasn't ready for higher... uh... heights... of bliss, however. A few nights earlier, Bella had had him sit in the drawer with her (in theory, until she fell asleep in her socking bag), and apparently her persistent snuggling made him "feel dangerous" ("Ooh." "That's a bad thing." "Oh.") and he had to bow out for the night. He then made the mistake of saying that he would feel more assured of her safety if he could watch over her while she slept, but that this would be unbefitting of a gentleman, and also, he was feeling kind of funny and really, really needed to go do... vampire stuff now. Yes. He denied her even a final kiss goodnight, his gaskets having been sufficiently blown for one day (I filed that one away next to "tasted her shortcake"), and Bella was severely disappointed--he'd flipped more switches than just the ZOMG EDWARD CULLEN one, I think.
So I'm trying to deal with the literal heartache of Tonner Edward and Clarice's seething jealousy and the distinct possibility of Serafina trying to poison Faramir Two with my birdbath and here's Little Edward fretting that Bella needs a safer place to sleep than an open exposed drawer. I had come to believe Tonner Edward's Word As A Gentleman--if he said he was leaving the battlefield of love (I'll wait here while you go cue up the Benatar), then I believed it, but The Littlest Edward could not (and then, he could see things in his rival's mind that I couldn't). This is not to speak of Anna's tendency to torment him and also "the ever-present threat of Bella freezing to death" (yes, TLE actually said this) to worry about.
"You have to get her a real bed!" he insisted (once Bella was safely tucked in). "With real pillows and sheets and blankets, lots of blankets--like the one that came with the stable--"
"Okay, but that didn't come with real anything, and besides, it was too small anyway--"
"But you have other furniture for dolls, don't you? Or you can go buy her one, you have money--"
"I don't have any! I'm an ACTION FIGURE!"
I sighed. "Okay, look. I get her a bed. Somewhere. Of some kind. Where do we even put it, if the drawer isn't good enough--" But he wasn't listening to me--he froze like a watchdog, seized by the faintest sound, and just as I was about to ask him if Timmy had fallen in the well, I heard it too: Bella talking in her sleep.
Or rather, I should say, "talking" in her "sleep":
"Uhhhhh... vampires are so awesome... it would totally be fitting to watch me sleep... but not the big one, just the hot one... if my Edward came over here and watched me I wouldn't wake up at aaaaaaall... "
"Oh, for real, are we doing this now? This is what we're doing?"
"She said My Edward!"
"... oh... it's... it's so dark..." You could tell she was casting around for the magic formula to bring Her Edward running. "... dark... uh... so... I'm cold! So coooold... I wish I had a big... a not-too-big... strong vampire to keep me warm... I mean... I guess... he's... also cold, but... he could... bring me a blanket or something...?"
"I must bring her a blanket!! DO YOU HAVE A BLANKET HER SIZE??"
Poor little credulous Edward. I smacked him. "She's FAKING IT!"
"PLEASE. Normally she goes on about margarine and possums. And NEVER in complete sentences. She is. FAKING. IT."
But his agitation was so pronounced that I threw up my hands and went looking for a washcloth or something, that seemed about the right size--"And you STAY HERE on the cabinet and DO NOT MOVE. You can watch her from here if you just can't stand it, but I expect you to behave yourself."
Little Edward might be a pitcher plant of love, but in her own way, Little Bella is also like a carnivorous plant--one of the grabby ones. He totally fell for her lure, of course; by the time I heard--well, I'll let him explain:
"She was having nightmares about the Big Edward!"
I rolled my eyes. "Let me guess: 'I'm so scared he's watching me, I'm so scared he's going to get me, *toss toss*, protect me from the giant creeper.' "
He narrowed his eyes. "It went a lot like that, actually. But there was more! 'I wish my Edward was here, he said he would come any time I called, why isn't he here?' I must always go to her when she calls for me! I must not let her go unanswered!"
And, indeed, he was distressed even in the telling of it. I sighed: "Okay, Sparkles, what'd you do next? Although I'm pretty sure I can guess."
"Well, I just went over there to keep her safe--my very presence did seem to soothe her, even though she had no idea I was there!" Yeah, you're probably making the same face now that I was then. The further rolling of eyes was most definitely involved. "Then... she... started sleep-talking again, and... I couldn't hear what she was saying, so... I leaned closer, and..."
And that was about the time I walked in, turned on the light, and found rescue necessary.
Note to self: Jaws of Life perhaps a good investment.
"She BIT ME!"
"What? Oh, wow, she really did. Look at that."
He was still a bit rattled, so I let him come downstairs to the "office" and sit by the family computer for a while as I worked. "You okay there?" I said after a while.
He looked up at me, his little golden eyes wide and anxious. "Girls are scary and I don't understand them."
"It's okay, sweetie." I finger-patted his shoulder. "Sometimes I don't understand us either."
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