Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 16

Sometimes Gansey felt as if he had spent the last seven years of his life chasing places that made him feel like this.


Every morning this week had begun with Greenmantle standing at the front of their Latin class, eternally smiling. Ronan stopped coming to first period. There was no way he would graduate if he failed Latin, but could Gansey blame him?

The walls crumbled.

Adam had asked why Gansey needed to go to the office. Gansey had lied. He was done fighting with Adam Parrish.


The night before, Mr. Gray had told Ronan, “Dream me a Greywaren to give Greenmantle.”

And Ronan had replied, “You want me to give that bastard the keys to Cabeswater? Is that what you’re asking?”

So they were at an impasse. “Gansey boy! DICK.”

Ronan whirled and walked backward to face the shouter. He spread his arms wide. “Not now, Cheng. The king’s a little busy.”

“I wasn’t talking to you, Lynch. I need someone with a soul.”

The light that glinted off Ronan’s snarl caught Gansey’s eye, bringing him back to the present. He checked his stride and his watch before doubling back to Henry, who sat at a card table situated between columns. His hair looked like pitch-black fire.

The two boys exchanged a comradely handshake over the table. They had some things in common: Before quitting last fall, Gansey had once been the captain of the crew team, and Henry had once signed up for the crew team at breakfast before scratching out his name by dinnertime. Gansey had been to Ecuador; Henry had once done a modeling photo shoot with a racehorse named Ecuador in Love. Gansey had once been killed by hornets; Henry’s family business was on the cutting edge of designing robotic drone bees.

The two boys were friendly, but not friends. Henry ran with the Vancouver crowd, and Gansey ran with dead Welsh kings.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Cheng?” Gansey asked pleasantly.

Henry threw a hand at him. “Do you see, Ronan? That is the way you talk to a man. I’m. Glad. You. Asked, Gansey. Look, I need your help. Sign this.”

Gansey observed this. The wording was rather official but it seemed to be a petition to establish a student-chosen student council. “You want me to vote for the right to vote?”

“You’ve grasped the salient point of my position much faster than the rest of our peers. I see why you’re always in the newsletter.” Henry offered him a pen, and when Gansey didn’t immediately take it, a Sharpie, and then a pencil.

Instead of accepting a writing tool, Gansey tried to decide if signing the petition promised any of his time.

Rex Corvus, parate Regis Corvi.

“Gansey, come on,” Henry said. “They’ll listen to you. Your vote counts double because you’re a Caucasian with great hair. You’re Aglionby’s golden boy. The only way you could score more points is if your mom gets that seat.”

Ronan smirked at Adam. Gansey rubbed a thumb over his lower lip, unpleasantly aware that Henry hadn’t said anything untrue. He would never know how much of his place here was fairly earned and how much had been bequeathed with his gilded pedigree. It used to bother him, a little.

Now it bothered him a lot.

“I’ll sign, but I want to be exempt from nominations.” Gansey accepted a pen. “My plate’s full.”

Henry rubbed his hands together. “Sure thing, old man. Parrish?”

Adam merely shook his head. He did it in a remote, cool way that didn’t invite Henry to ask again.

Henry said, “Lynch?”

Ronan flicked his gaze from Adam to Henry. “I thought you said I didn’t have a soul.”

He didn’t look at all Aglionby just then, with his shaved head and black biker jacket and expensive jeans. He looked altogether very grown-up. It was, Gansey thought, as if time had carried Ronan a little more swiftly than the rest of them this summer.

Who are these two? Gansey wondered. What are we doing?

“It turns out politics have already eroded my principles,” Henry said.

Ronan selected a large-caliber marker and leaned deep over the petition. He wrote ANARCHY in enormous letters and then tossed the instrument of war at Henry’s chest.

“Hey!” Henry cried as the marker bounced off him. “You thug.”

“Democracy’s a farce,” Ronan said, and Adam smirked, a private, small thing that was inherently exclusionary. An expression, in fact, that he could’ve very well learned from Ronan.

Gansey spared Henry a pitying glance. “Sorry, he didn’t get enough exercise today. Or there’s something wrong with his diet. I’ll take him away now.”

“When I get elected president,” Henry told Ronan, “I’m making your face illegal.”

Ronan’s smile was thin and dark. “Litigation’s a farce.”

As they headed back down the shadowed colonnade, Gansey asked, “Do you ever consider the possibility that you might be growing up to be an ass**le?”

Ronan kicked a piece of gravel. It skittered across the bricks in front of them before skipping off into the grassy courtyard. “Rumor has it that his father gave him a Fisker for his birthday and he’s too afraid to drive it. I want to see it if he has it. Rumor has it he biked here.”

“From Vancouver?” Adam asked.

Gansey frowned as a pair of impossibly young ninth graders ran across the courtyard — had he ever been that small? He knocked on the headmaster’s door. Am I doing this? He was. “Are you waiting out here for me?”

“No,” said Ronan. “Parrish and I are going for a drive.”

“We are?” Adam asked.

“Good,” Gansey said. He was relieved that they would be doing something, not thinking about the headmaster, not wondering if Gansey was, after all, behaving like a Gansey. “I’ll see you later.”

And before they could say anything else, he let himself in and shut the door.


Ronan took Adam to the Barns.

Ever since the disastrous Fourth of July party, Ronan had taken to disappearing to his family home, returning late without an explanation. Adam would have never pried — secrets were secrets — but he couldn’t deny that he’d been curious.

Now it seemed he would find out.

He had always found the Barns disconcerting. The Lynch family property might not have carried the patina of lush wealth that the Gansey house did, but it more than made up for it with a sense of claustrophobic history. These barn-studded fields were an island, untouched by the rest of the valley, seeded by Niall Lynch’s imagination and grazed by his dreams.

It was another world.

Ronan navigated the narrow driveway. The gravel cut through an embankment and a tangle of twisted trees. Cherry-red leaves of poison ivy and blood-spikes of raspberry vines flashed between the trunks. Everything else was green here: canopy dense enough to block out the afternoon sun, grass rippling up the banks, moss clinging damply.

And then they were through the forest and in the vast, protected fields. Here it was more saturated still: pastures green and gold; barns red and white; dense, messy autumn roses hanging on crowded bushes; purple, drowsy mountains half-hidden behind the tree line. Yellow apples, bright as butter, peeked from trees on one side of the drive. Some sort of blue flower, improbable, dreamt, ran amok through the grass on the other side. Everything was wild and raw.

But that was the Lynches.

Ronan made a big showy sideways slide at the end of the drive — Adam silently reached up to hold the strap on the ceiling — and the BMW scuffed sloppily into the gravel parking area in front of the white farmhouse.

“One day, you’re going to blow out a sidewall,” Adam said as he got out of the car.

“Sure,” Ronan agreed. Climbing out of the car, he peered up into the branches of the plum trees beside the parking area. As always, Adam was reminded of how Ronan belonged in this place. Something about the familiar way he stood as he searched for ripe fruit implied that he had done it many times before. It made it easy to understand that Ronan had grown up here and would grow old here. Easy to see how to exile him was to excise his soul.

Adam allowed himself a wistful moment to imagine an Adam Parrish grown from these fields instead of the dusty park outside Henrietta — an Adam Parrish who was allowed to want this home for himself. But it was as impossible as trying to imagine Ronan as an Aglionby teacher.

He couldn’t figure how Ronan had learned to be fierce in this protected place.

Ronan found two black-purple plums that he liked. He tossed one to Adam and then jerked his chin to indicate Adam should follow.

For some reason, Adam had gotten it in his mind that all of the times Ronan had vanished to the Barns, he had been preparing the house for himself and Matthew. It was so convincing an idea that he was surprised when Ronan led him around the farmhouse to one of the many barns that were built on the property.

It was a grand, long barn that was probably supposed to hold horses or cattle but instead contained junk. A closer inspection revealed that it was in fact dream junk, subtly dated by dust and fading.

Ronan moved through the dim expanse with ease, picking up a clock, a lantern, a bolt of strange cloth that somehow hurt Adam to look at. Ronan found a sort of ghostly light on a strap; he slung it over his shoulder to bring with him. He had already scarfed his plum.

Adam lingered in the doorway, watching through the dust motes, making the plum last. “This is what you’ve been working on?”

“No, this is Dad’s.” Ronan picked up a little stringed instrument. He turned it so Adam could see that its strings were pure gold. “Look at this.”

Adam joined him. Although he had homework to do and Cabeswater to tend, it was difficult to feel hurried. The air in the barn was drowsy and timeless, and there was nothing disagreeable about rifling through the wonders and follies. Some of the things in the barn were machines that still ran by means mysterious. But others were things that Niall Lynch must have dreamt into life, because now they slept. They found sleeping birds among the clutter, and a sleeping cat, and an old-fashioned stuffed bear that must have been alive, too, because its chest rose and fell. With their creator dead, all of them were beyond waking — unless, like Ronan’s mother, they were returned to Cabeswater.

As they moved through the old barn, Adam felt Ronan’s eyes glance off him and away, his disinterest practiced but incomplete. Adam wondered if anyone else noticed. Part of him wished they did and immediately felt bad, because it was vanity, really: See, Adam Parrish is wantable, worthy of a crush, not just by anyone, someone like Ronan, who could want Gansey or anyone else and chose Adam for his hungry eyes.

Maybe he was wrong. He could be wrong.

I am unknowable, Ronan Lynch.

“You want to see what I’ve been working on?” Ronan asked. All casual.

“Sure,” Adam replied. All casual.

Pausing only to sling the ghost light over a fence post for later retrieval, Ronan led Adam across the damp fields to a barn they had visited before. Adam knew what he would find before Ronan pulled open the big, rusted door, and sure enough, inside was a vast herd of cattle of all colors. Like all the other living things in these barns, they slept. Waited.

Inside, the light was dull and brown, filtered through dirt-covered skylights in the far-above roof. It smelled warm, alive, familiar, like fur and crap and humidity. Who dreamt a herd of cattle? No wonder Cabeswater had been unable to appear until Ronan’s father died. Even Ronan’s and Kavinsky’s careless dreaming had drained the ley line of enough energy to make the forest disappear. That had been trinkets, drugs, cars.

Not fields full of living creatures. Not an invented valley.

This was why Greenmantle could not have even a forged Greywaren. Ferocious Cabeswater was also strangely fragile.

Ronan had come to a door inside the barn; behind it was a tattered office. Everywhere was dust thick enough to be dirt. Vet records and feed receipts yellowed on the desktop. A garbage can held ancient Coke cans. Unframed prints were tacked to the walls — a flier for some Irish folk band playing in New York; a vintage print of some children running on a faraway, older pier in a faraway, older country. It was so different from what Adam’s father had pinned to his workspace walls that again Adam considered Ronan’s admiration of him. Someone like him treating someone like Adam as someone worthy —

Ronan swore as he tripped. He found the light switch, and a benevolent fluorescent came on overhead. It was full of dead flies.

In the slightly improved light, Adam saw dustless trails leading from the desk to an office chair by the wall. A blanket — not dusty — nested on the chair, and it was not difficult to imagine the shape of a young man sleeping in it. There was something unexpectedly lonely about the image.

Ronan dragged a metal tack box out from the wall and flipped up the lid with a terrific crash. “I’ve been trying to wake my father’s dreams.”


“They aren’t dead. They’re sleeping. If I dragged them all to Cabeswater, they’d get up and walk away. So I began to think, what if I brought Cabeswater to them?”

Adam wasn’t sure what he’d expected as a reveal, but it wasn’t this. “To the cows.”

“Some of us have family, Parrish.”

Aurora was trapped in Cabeswater. Of course Ronan would want her to be able to come and go. Shamed, Adam replied, “Sorry. Got it.”

“It’s not just that. It’s Matthew —” Ronan broke off, very completely, and Adam understood. This was another secret, one Ronan wasn’t ready to tell.

After a moment of rummaging in the box, Ronan turned around, a clear glass ball in his hand. The air inside it shimmered mistily. It was pretty, something you’d hang in a garden or in an old lady’s kitchen. It struck Adam as safe. Not very Ronan-like.

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