A Night by the Sea
After taking a series of steam trains and carriages, Lydia and Edgar finally reached a quiet town on the coast. The Irish Sea was right before them, and standing by the window, Lydia had a clear view of the moonlit sea.
And looking the other way into the room, she could see Edgar's refined lines as he sat on a chair drinking a glass of wine with the owner of the mansion. The owner of the mansion, and member of this town's gentry, had come to completely trust Edgar who called himself an earl.
Edgar was in his element spinning a tale of how he'd been injured when they were attacked by thieves and they ended up becoming separated from his servants. He had the gentleman have a doctor summoned for him as well as have new clothes prepared, and on top of that, he let it be known that he'd met a certain noble family with whom the gentleman was acquainted thus securing them an invitation to spend the night at his residence.
The gentleman was greatly impressed by the honor of being able to host an earl.
"By the way, my lord, are you headed for Manaan Island? There really is nothing there though."
"Still, it is my island. Apparently, my father didn't visit it, but since I've succeeded him, I thought I'd see the various holdings with my own eyes. After all, my house's holdings are scattered throughout the various regions."
Perhaps his injury no longer hurt very much after the doctor had tended to it. Despite being told not to drink alcohol for the next while, he was drinking.
Even in the abandoned house, Edgar's dazzling blond hair didn't lose its shine, and under the light of the chandelier, it glowed even more. Lydia glanced down at her own hair in comparison. The lighting in the room made her drab reddish-brown hair look even darker, which is why she didn't like it. Feeling envious of Edgar's blond hair, she couldn't help wondering why she hadn't been born with lighter coloured hair like her parents. Even being born with smart black hair would've been better; dull reddish-brown was simply too average.
'More to the point though, even if I were blonde, I don't have that sort of pretentious, refined air.'
Lydia couldn't help feeling a bit disgusted that even the expensive furnishings in the rural landowner's mansion, which normally had no one to show off to, seemed to have been waiting for a visitor like Edgar.
"I see. I beg your pardon. Come to think of it, there's an old castle on the island. Rumour has it that only mermaids live there, but is that also yours?"
Lydia reacted to the word 'mermaid' and listened to what they were talking about.
"Most likely that castle was built in the 16th century. I've heard that the head of the house at that time was most taken with the island's quiet scenery and built a manor there, but...... Mermaids live there? It's the first time I've heard that."
"Well, it's just a rumour. After all, that island is like a treasure trove of legends about mermaids."
"Like what? What sorts of legends are there?" Lydia couldn't help butting in on their conversation.
The gentleman was taken aback by her keen interest. "W-well......"
"She's unusually interested in the fae. Also, if it has to do with the island, I'd like to hear about it, too."
"Yes, well... it's not like I'm very knowledgeable about it, but the story's much like anything you might hear when it comes to mermaids. Things like people who hear them sing end up being captivated by their song and are dragged into the sea. It's said that the currents around the island are very dangerous, so most likely whenever a ship sank, stories about mermaids ended up coming up."
"You can't say all ship disasters were by chance. Mermaids can control the waves and the currents after all. Also, why is it said that the mermaids of Manaan Island live in the castle rather than the sea? Are there any stories about that?"
The more seriously Lydia asked her questions, the deeper the gentleman's confused and annoyed frown became, almost as though saying what would a grown man know about fairy tales.
That was the typical reaction people had towards Lydia. They always found her words to be incomprehensible and annoying, so she was used to it.
"Don't worry about it," she murmured softly.
But right now, Lydia had no information about the merrow, so she wanted to know even the most minor things.
"Did someone see mermaids in the castle?"
The gentleman finally responded at Edgar's follow-up question.
"Not so much seen as a voice can be heard singing deep inside the castle. And it's said that the bodies of thieves who'd snuck into the castle are found washed up on the beach the next morning. But, well, only childish people are interested in things like fairies or ghosts, and most likely it's just a baseless rumour."
Lydia became angry at being called childish, but Edgar spoke up when she opened her mouth to say something back.
"I rather like groundless rumours. It's a bit of a problem not being very mature."
Lydia felt like a weight had been lifted from her when she saw the gentleman's confusion at being countered.
"Not at all, I didn't mean it that way. ......Ahh, if you don't mind, I'll be retiring for the night, my lord."
The gentleman rose ill at ease.
"Of course. Please, don't worry about us."
"Umm, I'd like to ask favour." Lydia said still feeling annoyed.
"What is it?"
"Would it be all right if I made a fairy path? This room's full of fairies who have become lost."
Naturally, he frowned at her, but there was no way for things to become any more unpleasant for Lydia.
"It's just a bit of a game. If it's no imposition, please let her do as she likes."
"Your younger sister is rather unusual. If you'll excuse me," the gentleman said in agreement before leaving the room.
"Hey, what did he mean by younger sister?" Lydia turned and glared at Edgar at the man's words.
"By putting it that way, we can avoid any unwanted misunderstandings that would result from a lady and gentleman travelling together on their own."
"That story's even more suspicious! We don't look the least bit related!"
"Really? In that case, should I go tell the truth? That we're really secret lovers."
"Th-that's not true!"
"You don't need to deny it that much. But rather than that, are there really fairies lost in here?"
Lydia looked away pointedly and poured some lemon water from the pitcher into a glass. With glass in hand, she walked to one corner of the room.
"If so, do you see this room as teeming with fairies right now?"
"Yes, that's right. It seems that this room just happens to be part of a path."
Edgar put his glass on the table deftly avoiding the spot where a little fairy was sleeping.
'Come to think of it, he hasn't once stepped on any of the fairies since coming here. Even though he can't see them, perhaps he's aware by nature.'
In the landowner's case, he'd sit on them, crush them under his cushion, and kicked them aside as he walked. It had been too much for Lydia to ignore which is why she spoke up.
Undoubtedly, the fairies took their vengeance on the gentleman night after night. But he seemed exceptionally dense, so most likely he didn't notice the sudden loss of hair and new bruises.
In any case, Lydia let a drop of lemon water fall to the floor near the wall for the fairies sake. She slowly directed the fairies by dripping drops of water short distances apart leading from the window towards the door. Curious, Edgar drew near and looked at the floor next to the wall strangely.
"Is that a road marker? And a line of fairies has formed somewhere around here?"
"What sort of fairies?"
"They're a type of brownie. They're small, brown, and have wrinkled faces."
"Huh. Would it possible for me to guide them?"
"Do you want to try?"
He smiled and nodded.
Taking the glass of lemon water, he let a drop of water fall to the floor as Lydia directed.
"Are they following?"
He looked like a delighted child.
"Yes. But since you can't see them, is it fun?"
"It's fun to imagine. Is this also the work of a fairy doctor?"
"That's right. We try to make things easier for people and fae to live together. After all, it wouldn't be possible to make deals with the fae without having their trust. Not to mention, just because people can't see them, having an endless cycle of someone stepping on fairies then having the fae take vengeance for that is pointless, right? By taking even a little care for the fae and marking windows and doors with ribbons would make it possible to get along well, but that sort of knowledge is being lost."
Edgar chuckled as he let a last drop fall next to the door.
Opening the door slightly, Lydia watched as the fairies all left the room.
"But you don't think fairies exist, do you?"
"They don't exist in my reality--they exist in dreams. But most likely your reality is a lot broader than most people's. You know how people with good eyesight can see very far away. Listening to you, it seems similar to something like that."
"......You're rather unusual."
It was the first time she'd said the same thing people always said of her.
"Ah, I'm sorry. Um...... I'm not making fun of you. I'm rather surprised, actually. It's the first time I've ever heard that way of thinking about it."
With the noisy fae having left, Lydia was suddenly very aware that she was alone with Edgar. They were still standing shoulder to shoulder near the wall as they had When marking the path, and Edgar was gazing at her steadily.
Not to mention Nico wasn't there either.
"I-I've been talking a lot. It's the first time I've talked so much about the fae to anyone other than family...... Normally, people just make fun of me. Ah, but maybe you also think that I'm a strange girl."
Embarrassed, she tried to keep the conversation from trailing off.
"I don't think that at all."
"I see. ......If you really mean that, then you really are different. But, you didn't mind my talking about the fae earlier in front of the landowner, did you? I guess I was really happy about it. Thanks to that, I was able to say what I wanted to. Usually, when I see fairies in trouble in other people's homes, I don't feel comfortable saying anything. But just having someone who supports you really gives a person courage, doesn't it? But I know you're only doing it to keep me happy until we find the noble sword."
Lydia herself wasn't sure what she was saying anymore.
"Not to mention that you're a liar, so even though I think you're quite capable of saying things to make me feel better even though you don't really mean it, I keep ending up almost believing you. ......Because you looked like you were having fun marking a path, I can't help thinking that maybe you can understand me......"
'Eh? This sounds almost like I'm telling him I'm attracted to him.'
"Rather, um... please don't misunderstand. I don't trust you. But it made me a little--just a little--happy...... ......hey, don't touch my hair."
"It's as soft as a cat's yet doesn't get the least bit tangled. Is it because fairies comb it out on occasion?"
Lydia couldn't help wondering where he came up with lines like that. But since he was smiling so gently, she had no idea what to do.
"......Fairies like blond hair. They're not interested in this sort of rusty colour."
"Putting it that way suits you more."
Something as simple as that made her unable to slap the presumptuous man playing with her hair.
"I wonder if it tastes sweet."
'You can't be careful enough around this guy.' As Lydia thought that, she could no longer tell if she found that unpleasant or not.
There was a sudden knock at the door.
Edgar shrugged slightly and stepped away from Lydia. "Come in," he said.
Lydia sighed in relief.
"I'm sorry to take so long, my lord."
Raven and Ermine entered having been shown in by the maid.
Even though he'd been separated from them, Edgar had shown no signs of being worried. Since they'd previously determined on going to Manaan Island, Edgar figured that Raven and Ermine would find them, so he and Lydia had continued on ahead. It was quite something that they really did come after them. If they were used to getting through battlefields together, most likely they knew all too well how the others would act if they became separated.
"Ermine, Raven! You're both alright?"
Edgar looked delighted as he spread both arms and hugged the two of them, almost as though he were their father. His love for them was very clear.
'They're not just master and servant; they're family,' Lydia thought.
"Miss Lydia, you're unharmed?" Despite Ermine's gentle question to her, Lydia couldn't help feeling like an outsider.
Lydia couldn't help wanting to apologise to Ermine and Raven because Edgar had been injured because of her.
"Don't worry. I kept Lydia safe."
"Really? Perhaps she felt you were the greater danger to her?"
"You know, Ermine..."
"Are you telling me I'm wrong?"
"No. Actually, I would've liked if you could've come ten minutes later. Things were looking good there."
"My. Would ten minutes have been enough?"
Listening to their conversation, Lydia suddenly sensed Raven's sharp gaze. Perhaps he noticed Edgar's injury? And that it was Lydia's fault?
"Um, I'm going to bed. Good night."
Unable to shake the strange feelings and pounding of her heart that happened between Edgar and herself, Lydia decided to flee from that place.
"Ermine, Lydia's run away thanks to what you said."
Edgar's voice sounded behind Lydia as she hurried away from the drawing room.
>.> A lot rough. *sigh*
Also, is it me, or are there no good HakuYou FFs in English? I tried looking at what's on ff.net, but the grammar was so atrocious that I literally couldn't read them. >.> (Surprisingly, a number of J HakuYou fic sites also have pretty bad writing compared to what I'm used to reading in GH fics. I'm not sure why a different title/genre would make that much of a difference. *confuzzled*)
Ah well, enjoy.