Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 17

Ronan held it up to the light. The air inside rolled from one side to the other. Maybe not air at all. Maybe a liquid. Adam could see it reflected in his blue eyes. Ronan said, “This was my first attempt.”

“You dreamed it.”

“Of course.”

“Mm. And Cabeswater?”

Ronan sounded offended. “I asked.”

He asked. So easy. As if it was a simple thing for him to communicate with this entity that could only make itself known to Adam through grand and violent gestures.

“In the dream, it had some of Cabeswater inside it,” Ronan continued, and intoned, “If it works in the dream, it works in real life.”

“Does it work? Give me the short version.”

“Asshole. No. It doesn’t. It does, in fact, jack shit.” Ronan dug back through the tack box, lifting out various other failed attempts, all of them puzzling. A shimmering ribbon, a tuft of grass still growing from a lump of dirt, a forked branch. He let Adam hold some of them; they all felt strange. Too heavy, like gravity weighted them more than it should. And they smelled vaguely familiar, like Ronan, or like Cabeswater.

If Adam thought about it — or rather, if he didn’t think about it — he could feel the pulse of the ley line in each.

“I had a bag of sand, too,” Ronan said, “but I spilled it.”

Hours of dreaming. He had driven an hour each day to park his car and curl in this chair and sleep alone.

“Why here? Why do you come here to do it?”

Voice toneless, Ronan said, “Sometimes I dream of wasps.”

Adam imagined it then: Ronan waking in Monmouth Manufacturing, a dream object clutched in his hands, wasps crawling in his bedsheets, Gansey unaware in the other room.

No, he could not dream wildly in Monmouth.


“Aren’t you afraid you’ll get hurt out here by yourself?” Adam asked.

Ronan scoffed. Him, fear for his own life. But there was something in his eyes, still. He studied his hands and admitted, “I’ve dreamt him a box of EpiPens. I dream cures for stings all the time. I carry one. I put them in the Pig. I have them all over Monmouth.”

Adam felt a ferocious and cruel hope. “Do they work?”

“I don’t know. And there’s no way to find out before it actually happens. There won’t be a rematch.” Ronan took two objects from the tack box and stood. “Here. Field trip time. Let’s go to the lab.”

With one arm he braced a bright blue polar fleece blanket against his body. On the other he draped a slab of moss like a waiter’s towel.

“Do you want me to carry one?” Adam asked.

“Fuck, no.”

Adam got the door for him.

In the main room of the barn, Ronan took his time walking among the cows, pausing to look into their faces or cocking his head to observe their markings. Finally, he stopped by a chocolate-brown cow with a jagged stripe down her friendly face. He shoved her motionless side with the toe of his boot and explained, “It works better if they seem more … I don’t know. Particular. If it looks like something I might have dreamt myself.”

It looked like a cow to Adam. “So what is it about this one?”

“Looks f**king friendly. Bovine the boy wizard.” He set the blue blanket on the floor. Carefully. Then he ordered, “Feel its pulse. Don’t just stare at it. Pulse. On its face. There. There, Parrish, God. There.”

Adam gingerly trailed his fingers across the cow’s short facial hair until he felt the animal’s slow pulse.

Ronan hefted the blanket of moss across the cow’s withers. “And now?”

Adam wasn’t sure what he was supposed to see. He felt nothing, nothing, nothing — ah, but there it was. The cow’s pulse had accelerated fractionally. Again, he imagined Ronan here on his own, so hopeful for a change that he would have noted such a subtle difference. It was far more dedication than he had thought Ronan Lynch capable of.


He asked, “Is this the closest you’ve gotten?”

Ronan scoffed. “Did you think I would bother showing you just this? There’s one more. Do you need to piss first?”


“No, seriously.”

“I’m good.”

Ronan turned to the other object he’d brought out. It was not the blue blanket, as Adam had expected, but rather something wrapped inside the blanket. Whatever was inside couldn’t be larger than a shoe box or a large book. It didn’t seem very heavy.

And if Adam’s eyes didn’t deceive him, Ronan Lynch was afraid of it.

Ronan took a deep breath. “Okay, Parrish.”

He unwrapped it.

Adam looked.

Then he looked away.

Then he looked back.

It was a book, he thought. And then he didn’t know why he thought it was a book; it was a bird. No, a planet. A mirror.

It was none of those things. It was a word. It was a cupped word in Ronan’s hand that wanted to be said out loud, but he didn’t want to, but actually he did —

Then Adam looked away again, because he couldn’t keep his eyes on it anymore. He could feel himself going mad trying to name it.

“What is it?” he asked.

Ronan eyed it, but sideways, with his chin tilted away from it. He looked younger than he usually did, his face softened by uncertainty and caution. Sometimes Gansey would tell stories of the Ronan he had known before Niall had died; now, looking at this fallible Ronan, Adam thought he might be able to believe them.

Ronan said, “A piece of Cabeswater. A piece of a dream. It’s what I asked for. And this is … this is what I think it should look like, probably.”

Adam felt the truth of it. This awful and impossible and lovely object was what a dream was when it had nothing to inhabit. Who was this person who could dream a dream into a concrete shape? No wonder Aglionby bored Ronan.

Adam looked at it. He looked away.

He asked, “Does it work?”

Ronan’s expression sharpened. He held the dream thing beside the cow’s face. Light, or something like light, reflected off it onto Ronan’s chin and cheeks, rendering him stark and handsome and terrifying and someone else. Then he blew on it. His breath passed through the word, the mirror, the unwritten line.

Adam heard a whisper in his ear. Something moved and stirred inside him. Ronan’s eyelashes fluttered darkly.

What are we doing —

The cow shifted.

Not a lot. But her head tilted; one ear flicked. Like she was sleepily jostling a fly from it. A muscle shivered near her spine.

Ronan’s eyes were open; fires burned in them. He breathed again, and again the cow twitched her ear. Tensed her lips.

But she did not wake, and she did not rise.

He retreated, hiding the dream from Adam’s maddened sight.

“I’m missing something still,” Ronan said. “Tell me what I’m missing.”

“Maybe you just can’t wake someone else’s dream.”

Ronan shook his head. He didn’t care if it was impossible. He was going to do it anyway.

Adam gave in. “Power. It takes a lot of power. Most of what I’m doing when I repair the ley line is making better connections so the energy can run more efficiently. Maybe you could find a way to direct a stub of the line out here.”

“Already thought of it. Not interested. I don’t want to make a bigger cage. I want to open the door.”

They regarded each other. Adam fair and cautious, Ronan dark and incendiary. This was Ronan at his most truthful.

Adam asked, “Why? Tell me the real reason.”

“Matthew —” Ronan began again, and stopped again.

Adam waited.

Ronan said, “Matthew’s mine. He’s one of mine.”

Adam didn’t understand.

“I dreamt him, Adam!” Ronan was angry — every one of his emotions that wasn’t happiness was anger. “That means that when — if something happens to me, he becomes just like them. Just like Mom.”

Every memory Adam possessed of Ronan and his younger brother reframed itself. Ronan’s tireless devotion. Matthew’s similarity to Aurora, a dream creature herself. Declan’s eternal position as an outsider, neither a dreamer nor a dream.

Only half of Ronan’s surviving family was real.

“Declan told me,” Ronan said. “A few Sundays ago.” Declan had left for college in D.C., but he still made the four-hour drive each Sunday to attend church with his brothers, a gesture so extravagant that even Ronan seemed forced to admit that it was kindness.

“You didn’t know?”

“I was three. What did I know?” Ronan turned away, lashes low over his eyes, expression hidden, burdened by being born, not made.


Adam sighed and sat down beside the cow, leaning against her warm body, letting her slow breaths lift him. After a moment, Ronan slipped down beside him and the two of them looked out over the sleepers. Adam felt Ronan glance at him and away. Their shoulders were close. Overhead, rain began to tap on the roof again, another sudden storm. Possibly their fault. Possibly not.

“Greenmantle,” Ronan said abruptly. “His web. I want to wrap it around his neck.”

“Mr. Gray’s right, though. You can’t kill him.”

“I don’t want to kill him. I want to do to him what he’s threatening to do to Mr. Gray. To show him how I could make his life hell. If I can dream that” — Ronan jerked his chin toward the blanket that held his dream object — “surely I can dream something to blackmail him with.”

Adam considered this. How difficult would it be to frame someone if you could create any kind of evidence you needed? Could it be done in such a way that Greenmantle couldn’t undo it and come after them twice as dangerous?

“You’re smarter than I am,” Ronan said. “Figure it out.”

Adam made a noise of disbelief. “Didn’t you just ask me to research Greenmantle in all my spare time?”

“Yeah, and now I’m telling you why I asked you.”

“Why me?”

Ronan laughed suddenly. That sound, as crooked and joyful and terrible as the dream in his hand, should have woken these cattle if nothing else did.

“I hear if you want magic done,” he said, “you ask a magician.”


It was quite late when Blue called that night, long after Malory had returned in the Suburban, long after Ronan had returned in the BMW.

No one else was awake.

“Gansey?” Blue asked.

Something anxious in him stilled.

“Tell me a story,” she said. “About the ley line.”

He went at once to the kitchen-bathroom-laundry, moving as quietly as he could, thinking of something to tell her. As he sat on the floor, he said in a low voice, “When I was in Poland, I met this guy who had sung his way across Europe. He said as long as he was singing he could always find his way back to ‘the road.’ ”

Blue’s voice was quiet, too, on the other end of the phone. “I assume you mean a corpse road, not an interstate.”

“Mystical interstate.” Gansey scrubbed a hand through his hair, remembering. “I hiked with him for about twenty miles. I had a GPS. He had the song. He was right, too. I could turn him around a million times and lead him astray two million times and he could always head back to the ley line. Like he was magnetized. So long as he was singing.”

“Was it always the same song? Was it the murder squash song?”

“Oh, God.” The floorboards felt cool on the bottoms of his bare feet. For some reason, the feeling was sensuous and distracting, a reminder of Blue’s skin. Gansey closed his eyes. “This was a simpler time, before that had been unleashed on the world. I cannot believe how obsessed Ronan and Noah are with that song. Ronan was talking about getting the T-shirt. Can you imagine him in it?”

Blue snickered. “What happened to the Polish guy?”

“I assume he’s singing his way across Russia now. He was going left to right. West-to-east, I mean.”

“What was Poland like?”

“Prettier than you’re thinking. So pretty.”

She paused. “I’d like to go, one day.”

He didn’t give himself time to doubt the wisdom of saying it out loud before he replied, “I know how to get there, if you want company.”

After a long pause, Blue said, in a different voice, “I’m going to go sing myself to sleep. See you tomorrow. If you want company.”

The phone went quiet. It was never enough, but it was something. Gansey opened his eyes.

Noah sat against the doorjamb of the kitchen-bathroom-laundry. When Gansey thought about it, he thought that possibly he had been sitting there for a long time.

There was nothing inherently guilty about the moment except that Gansey burned with guilt and thrill and desire and the nebulous feeling of being truly known. It was on the inside of him, and the inside was all Noah ever really paid attention to.

The other boy wore a knowing expression.

“Don’t tell the others,” Gansey said.

“I’m dead,” Noah replied. “Not stupid.”


I’m very angry at you,” Piper said, voice very close. Greenmantle was lying on top of the replacement rental, his arms crossed over his chest and his knees close together, thinking about early medieval burial positions.

“I know,” Greenmantle replied, opening his eyes. The sky overhead was jeeringly blue. “What about now?”

“The blood draw people were here today and you weren’t. I told you to be here.”

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