The dining room could practically have been a house of its own. The dining table was long enough to fit maybe 40 people around it and the space between the walls and the backs of the chairs was wide enough to fit a horse or two. And I mean nose to tail, not side to side. The table was made of oak or pine or something varnished, I’m not sure. I’m sure the hermit would know. Set by our seats were three silver platters, one for each of us. The hermit managed to remove Fang from the kitchen and bought out what was to be our meal for the night. More silverware in the form of cutlery and a large silver bowl.
“Traditional Polish onion soup” the hermit said, displaying qualities of an old English butler.
“Thanks, Quincy. You can drop the posh-ness and the monkey suit if you want, I’m not so high class as the Libellules once were” Tawny said.
The hermit nodded and placed three silver bowls on our silver platters and handed us silver spoons to eat with. All the silver was annoying. The hermit then moved back into the kitchen and I couldn’t help but imagine him cooking with all his extra crab legs.
“So, what are you guys thinking of my pad?” Tawny asked, tasting the soup.
“It’s too big. And too tall” Fang said coldly.
“Aaw, Fang, you just need to face your fear and you’ll be fine. You’re fine on the third floor of the mansion”
“That’s because the third floor of the mansion isn’t as high as the top of this place”.
Was Fang afraid of heights? Seemed a little stupid for a vampire to be afraid of heights when they could throw themselves off the top of building and come out of it like they jumped off a doorstep. Something glittered in my soup. At least, I thought it was in my soup. It wasn’t ‘til I looked up that I noticed more of the chandeliers dripping with crystals. And once more, there were dragonflies. Hardly noticeable but obvious enough for someone who’s being bugged by them. At the top of the spoon handle was a tiny dragonfly, roughly the size of a large pea.
“Tawny, what… what did that motto mean?” I asked, losing my nerve to ask about the dragonflies.
“’When the fly falls, the dragon takes wing’. Basically, when the peasants give in the rich prosper” Tawny said harshly.
“And… and what’s with all the dragonflies?”
She laughed. A happy laugh not a ‘you’re an idiot’ laugh.
“My last name. Libellule. It’s French for dragonfly” she laughed again.
I went back to my soup. I’d never been bothered to learn French. I didn’t see the point. When was I going to go to France anyway? I’d never expressed a desire to go there and I probably never will. Tawny seemed fluent in it after all these years, how was that even possible? If they forgot their human memories surely that meant any language other than their primary language. Then again, maybe French was her first language and she had to learn English all over again. I knew why the dragonflies were there now but they were still bugging me. If someone’s last name was Butcher they wouldn’t go leaving meat cleavers around the house. So why had Tawny’s family decided to show off their fancy last name? And why so frequently? Everywhere I looked there seemed to be a dragonfly.
The hermit returned a few minutes later to take away what little was left of our starter and present us with a platter of roasted pork. Meat was much like France for me. Never expressed a desire to eat it and probably never will. But I must say, it did look delicious. Tawny must have spoken to the hermit beforehand because he disappeared into the kitchen and returned again with a smaller platter of salmon. How did Tawny know salmon was my favourite? As I ate a forkful she winked at me. It was even better than just salmon. It was smoked salmon. Nothing in the world was better than smoked salmon. Okay, maybe a bag of Mike & Ike tropical was better than smoked salmon but not by much. After the salmon and pork was a simple dish of jello and ice cream, obviously the hermit didn’t know many extravagant desserts. The hermit led us into a room that was considerably small for the size of the house. While he cleared away and washed up and made beds, Tawny, Fang and I sat in our posh outfits trying to waste time before morning. Tawny sighed. Fang got up and started looking through the cabinets in the small room.
“1872, 1846, 1760… isn’t there any plain old Jack Daniels?” Fang asked, looking through a collection or whiskeys, ports and wines.
“Why exactly do you want to take a visit to Mr Jack Daniels, young Fang?” Tawny asked.
“Because your damn butler’s put me on the third floor. And because he managed to get me in a headlock”.
Tawny laughed. It was nice, just the three of us. Somehow it managed to take my mind away from Morrigan and what had happened the previous night. It was like the family I’d never had. Fang moved on to another cabinet and slammed the door in frustration.
“Why don’t you ask the hermit?” I said and regretted it instantly.
“The hermit? You mean Quincy?” Tawny said. It sounded like she was getting pretty mad but… she just laughed. “The hermit, I like that”.
“Miss Libellule, the beds are ready for you” the hermit said and made us all jump.
“Thanks, Quincy. At ease” she said and the hermit smiled for the very first time.
He nodded and scuffled out of the main house, no doubt back to his shed to unveil his crab legs and sticky out crab eyes.
Tawny and I had been given adjoining rooms on the second floor and Fang, as he had said, was on the third. We said our goodbyes, after a brief threat to Tawny from Fang, and disappeared into our rooms. Dragonflies. More dragonflies. Carved into the four-poster bed frame, carved into the wood of the dressing table mirror, embroidered on the bed sheets. It was insane. If I see another dragonfly in my life I think I will explode. The sheets were silk, another exploitation of the family’s wealth, the fabric hanging around the bed silver gossamer. The pillows were no doubt stuffed with down, the duvet too. Throughout the room were constant reminders that this was not the world I belonged in. The best I had for pyjamas were my clothes so I shoved them on and jumped into the bed. It was so soft. It was like jumping onto a marshmallow. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to sleep in it or whether I’d be having too much fun bounding around, letting my imagination control my actions. Eventually Mr Sandman got a grip on my senses and managed to send me to sleep. A deep sleep. A comfortable sleep. The kind of sleep you only got if you were rich. And minus the dragonflies, I think I could get used to this. As long as Tawny didn’t keep using me as a dress-up doll. I’ll have to speak to her about that at some point but first: sleep.