“Okay,” Anna said at last, relenting. She handed Myfanwy over, and Beriadan stiffened as he felt the child’s power.
“She is strong,” he whispered. “She’ll do great things … but just what, I don’t know.”
“Of course she will,” Anna told him shortly. “She’s unique - the only being in the universe to be Telcontar and Human and Fairy. Besides, she’s my daughter.” She took Myfanwy from Beriadan’s arms and hugged her.
“I would expect nothing less from her,” the little girl’s grandfather said fondly. “She has a great future in front of her.” He beamed at the child. Reassured, and starting to like her parents, Anna invited them into the kitchen for a cup of tea, although it was only nine in the morning.
“Never too early for tea,” she told them as she poured four cups. “Never too early for cake, either,” she added, and pulled a large chocolate sponge from a cupboard.
“When did you get that?” said Matt, amazed. He had been searching the cupboards for cake for at least a week, and now Anna produced this glory!
“I’ve been hiding it,” she told him. He realised afterwards that she had not actually answer his question.
“I’ve got a question to ask,” said Anna, puzzled. “I was told that I was half human, but neither of you appear … I mean, you’re both young. As though you’ve never aged. But surely, one of you is human? And your names, too. I mean, they’re not exactly normal.” Her pretty brow was creased in a confused brow.
“You are quite right,” said Erulissë. “I was once human, and my name was Anna. But surely you know why I have not aged? You’ve read the stories.”
“What do you mean?” Anna said. “What stories?”
“Oh dear, she does not recall!” exclaimed Beriadan, and burst into peals of laughter.
“Now, now, dear, don’t tease her,” said Erulissë, but she was laughing too. “The fairy stories, of course,” she said, turning to Anna. “Don’t you remember?
A half-forgotten phrase rose to Anna’s mind. Those who live with the faeries do not grow old.
“I see,” she said. She told them the sentence that had come to mind, and they smiled and nodded.
“You see? She does remember!” Beriadan burst out laughing again.
At least someone is cheerful, thought Anna. I daresay we all should laugh more, but there you go …
“Quite. Anyway, I was once human, but I fell in love with Beriadan.” Erulissë’s voice was wistful. Looking at her father, Anna could understand what she meant. “He was young, he was handsome - and he had powers. What more could a girl want?” Erulissë sighed. “But I couldn’t stay with him forever. After I had given birth to you, we were parted, though married, for three years. When Beriadan returned, he told me the truth.”
“I told her that I would have to make her one of us,” he put in, sadly. “Though I wanted her to remain human, because she was loveliness incarnate as it was, it was the rules.”
“So I changed, and I became one of them.” Erulissë looked into the distance in front of her. Her dark eyes were pools of memories. It was a sad tale, Anna decided. At a first listen you wouldn’t realise: they got to stay together, after all. But she gave up her previous existence. Surely that’s not a happy ending?
Myfanwy started to cry. Excusing herself, Anna took the baby out of the room to calm her. When she returned, Erulissë was standing.
“Give me the child,” she said gently, looking Anna in the eye. Trembling, Anna held out her daughter. It was not that she thought Erulissë would harm her: more that she hated being away from the tiny infant.
With a soft whisper, Erulissë breathed a strange, glowing cloud into Myfanwy’s mouth. It hovered for a moment, before being sucked inside with Myfanwy’s next breath.
“What was that?” said Anna, awed by the sight.
“A little something to keep her going through life,” her mother replied. “Now, I’m sorry, but we really should be going.” She and Beriadan got up to leave. “The cake was excellent, by the way.” Anna watched, disbelieving, as they walked out of the front door as suddenly as they had arrived.
“Well,” she said to Matt.