Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 23

Ronan wore an expression nearly identical to the one he’d worn when they picked up Malory. “She’s crazy.”

Gansey said, very calmly, “Don’t touch her.” Before, when they’d thought it was Glendower, he’d seemed badly shaken, but now he had more than recovered. Blue’s heart was still charging from when the coffin lid had fallen and when the woman had slithered out. It wasn’t that she wanted Gansey to be the boss of her, but she was relieved that he was going to at least be the boss of this moment, while she convinced her pulse to slow.

He made his way around the coffin to where the woman lay.

Now that she was faceup, Blue could see that she was young, in her twenties, perhaps. Her hair was enormous, raven black and wild, and her skin was as pale as the dead. Her surcoat was possibly the most incredible thing about her, because it was real. It did not look like a medieval costume. It looked like a real piece of clothing, because it was a real piece of clothing.

Gansey leaned over her and asked, in his polite, powerful way, “Who are you?”

“One wasn’t enough!” she shrieked. “They sent another! How many young men are in my chamber? Please tell me it’s three, the number of the divine. Are you going to untie me? It’s very rude to keep a woman bound for any more than two or three or seven generations.”

Gansey’s voice was even calmer, or perhaps it was unchanged, and only seemed calmer in comparison to her rising cadence. “Was it you who possessed my friend’s raven?”

She smiled at him and sang, “All maidens young and fair, listen to your fathers —”

“That’s what I thought,” Gansey said, and straightened. He glanced to the others. “I don’t think it’s a wise idea to untie her.”

“Ah! Are you afraid?” she jeered. “Did you hear that I’m a witch? I have three br**sts! I have a tail, and horns! I am a giant down below. Oh, I’d be afraid of me, too, young knight. I could get you pregnant! Run! Run!”

“Let’s leave her,” Ronan said.

Gansey replied, “If we abandoned people in caves because they were crazy, you’d still be back in Cabeswater. Give me your knife.”

Ronan said, “I lost it.”

“How did you — never mind.”

“I have one,” Blue said, feeling smug and useful. She produced her pink switchblade as the woman’s gray eyes rolled up to look at her. Blue was rather afraid the woman would sing at her, but she just smiled, wide and knowing.

“I thought these were illegal?” Gansey asked, kneeling beside the woman. He seemed so unperturbed now, as if he were calmly dealing with a wild animal. He sliced the straps around the woman’s knees, but left her hands bound.

“They are,” Blue answered Gansey, but she didn’t look away from the woman’s eyes. The woman was still smiling, smiling, as if she were waiting for Blue to break and look away. But Blue had good practice with this, thanks to Ronan. So she just kept frowning back. She wanted to ask the woman how she spoke English, and who she was, and was she okay after being in a box for quite a while, but the woman didn’t really seem like a question-answering sort.

“I’m going to help you up,” Gansey told the woman, “but if you bite me, I’m putting you back in that coffin. Do you understand?”

“Oh, you little rooster,” said the woman. “You remind me of my father. Which is too bad.”

Ronan was still staring at the woman, aghast, so Blue hurried forward to help Gansey. The woman was both warmer and realer than Blue had imagined. She was very tall; probably she’d eaten her greens. As Blue lifted her by an elbow, her enormously vertical nest of black hair tickled Blue’s face, smelling of dirt and metal. She sang a little song about gifts and kings and internal organs.

“Okay, Gansey,” Adam said warily, “what’s your plan now?”

“We take her out, obviously,” Gansey said. He turned to the woman. “Unless you’d prefer to stay.”

She rolled her head back so that her hair crushed down flat upon his shoulder and her face was inches from his. “Does the sun still exist?” the woman asked.

Gansey used her hair to remove her head from his shoulder. “As of a few hours ago.”

“Then take me! Take me!”

Adam was just shaking his head.

“I cannot wait,” Ronan said, “to hear you explain this to Malory.”

The clouds had disappeared when they emerged, replaced by a sky so bright and blue and wind-seared that they all had to duck their heads against the grit hurled through the air. The wind was so ferocious that it snapped Blue’s bangs painfully against her cheeks. A flock of crows or ravens flew high overhead, tossed and catapulted. Ronan held Chainsaw to his chest as if she were still a young raven, protecting her from the wind.

As they walked back toward the Dittley house, leaning into the gusts, rain spattered intermittently out of the cloudless sky. Adam reached to wipe it from his cheek, and Blue said, “Adam, your face —”

Adam pulled his finger away; the tip was red. Blue held out her hand to catch another stray drop. Red.

“Blood,” Ronan said, sounding factual rather than concerned.

Blue shuddered. “Whose?”

Gansey studied a red spatter on the shoulder of his jacket, lips parted in astonishment.

“Gansey,” Adam called, pointing. “Look.”

They stopped in the middle of the beaten-down grass to gaze into the bright day sky. On the horizon, something glinted furiously, like the sun off a faraway plane. Blue shielded her eyes and saw that the object had a fiery tail. She couldn’t quite imagine what it would be, so visible in this bright daytime.

“A plane crash?” she asked.

“A comet,” Ronan said with certainty.

“A comet?” echoed Adam.

Blue was more afraid now than when they’d been in possible danger in the cave. What were they doing?

“It starts!” the woman shouted. “It starts again! Round and round and round!”

She twirled in the field, her hands still bound behind her back. In the sunlight, the woman’s regal beauty was more apparent. She had a rather large nose that was lovely in shape, sloping cheeks and forehead, dark quizzical eyebrows, and of course that impossibly tall hair snarling out above her already tall body. Her purple-red robe was like a smear of paint in the field.

Gansey watched the heavenly body burn a slow trail across the blue. He said, “Signs and portents. A comet was seen in 1402, when Glendower was beginning to rise.”

“Ha!” shouted the woman. “Rise, rise, rise! Plenty of blood to be had then, too, plenty of blood to be had by all!”

This last bit had fallen into song once more.

Adam grabbed the woman’s shoulder, stopping her from spinning. She rolled her body away from his hand like a drunk dancer and then fixed him with a wild-eyed gaze.

“You,” she said, “are my least favorite. You remind me of both a man and a dog that I never liked.”

“Noted,” he replied. “Do we get a favor? For waking you?”

Of course, Blue thought stupidly. Of course we should have thought to ask that at once. It was all sleepers who supposedly granted a favor in the legends, not just Glendower. It seemed impossible that it wouldn’t have occurred to all of them, but everything that had seemed obvious in theory was muddy and loud and frightening in practice.

The woman shrieked like the crows overhead, and then she shrieked again, and then Blue realized it was laughter. “A favor! For waking me? Little mongrel, I never slept.”

Adam stared at her, raw, unmoving. He had let a single word — mongrel — slice down to his spine.

Gansey cut in, fearsomely polite. “We’ve been nothing but kind to you. His name is Adam Parrish, and that’s what you can call him.”

She bowed cartoonishly to Gansey, stumbling to a knee with her hands still tied.

“Forgive me,” she sneered, “my lord.”

He pursed his lips, dismissive of the gesture. “What do you mean that you didn’t sleep?”

“Go to sleep, my little daughter,” said the woman sweetly. “Dream of war. Only I didn’t. I couldn’t. I’ve always been a restless sleeper!” She cast a dramatic pose, legs spread to balance herself. A drop of blood had peppered her cheek like a tear. In a high-pitched voice, she called, “Help! Help! I’m not asleep! Come back! Come back!” Lower: “Did you hear something? Only the sound of my blood throbbing in my manhood! Let’s go!”

Ronan’s lip curled.

Blue was pretty sure she’d heard that sound in the halls of her high school. She asked, “Do you mean to say you’ve been awake for six hundred years?”

She chanted, “Give or take two hundred.”

“No wonder she’s mad as a cow’s tit,” Ronan said.

“Ronan,” Gansey started, but then he clearly couldn’t think of a good rebuke. “Let’s go.”

Inside the house, Jesse Dittley peered at the woman. She was nearly as tall as he was. “WHAT’S THIS?”

“Your curse,” Gansey replied.

Jesse looked dubious. He asked her, “NOW TELL ME THIS: DID YOU EVER MAKE MY WALLS WEEP?”

“Only three or five times,” she said. “Was it your father’s blood that choked me to silence?”


“That,” she sang, “was an accident. Was it your grandfather’s blood before that?”


As the boys bundled the woman out the other side of the house, Malory and the Dog hurrying after, Blue stayed behind. She stood by Jesse as he drew aside a shabby curtain to watch the boys persuading the woman to get into the Suburban. Blue got a good glimpse of her biting the Dog.

She felt a little less afraid now that she was no longer standing right next to the woman, although she couldn’t stop seeing Chainsaw’s beak eerily parted in false song, or forget the jump of her heart when the body first moved within the coffin. This crooked enchantment felt nothing like Cabeswater’s organic magic.


Blue said, “She’s been awake for hundreds of years. Somehow, when a Dittley died in the cave, it must’ve shut her up for a little bit. But we have her now. She was the curse. You don’t have to go into the cave and die now.”

Jesse let the curtain fall back into place. “DO YOU RECKON YOU CAN LOSE A CURSE AS EASY AS THAT?”

“Maybe. Probably! She’s been in there for a really long time,” Blue said. “As long as there have been Dittleys here. You heard her say she did those things.”


“I dunno. Something.” She patted his arm. “You should call your wife, or your dog.”

Jesse scratched his chest. “YOU REALLY ARE A VERY GOOD KIND OF ANT.”

They shook hands.

Blue saw him watching out the window as they left.

They took the woman to 300 Fox Way, of course, where they found an extremely unimpressed Calla and a rather alarmed-looking Jimi and a fascinated Orla. Persephone took one look at the woman, nodded firmly, and then disappeared upstairs. Malory drank footy tea in the reading room. Adam and Ronan lurked in the hall, eavesdropping, too cowardly to face Calla’s wrath.

And Calla was indeed in fine form. She barked, “Do you remember how I said that there were three sleepers, and Maura’s job was to not wake one of them, and your job was to wake one of the others? Remember how I didn’t say anything about the other one? I did not mean bring her to my kitchen.”

Blue felt equal parts relief and annoyance. The former because she had been worried that the woman might have been the sleeper that was not to be woken. The latter because they were in trouble.

She demanded, “Where else are we supposed to take her? Mom would’ve said to bring her here.”

“Your mother has no common sense! We’re not a halfway home.” Calla walked right up to the woman, who gazed around the kitchen with something between bewilderment and regal insanity. “What’s your name?”

“My name is that of all women,” the woman replied. “Sorrow.”

One of Calla’s eyebrows momentarily considered punching the woman. She said, “Why didn’t you just leave her?”

From the hall, Ronan shot a superior look at Gansey.

“Look, I understand she can’t stay here,” Gansey said. “But she’s clearly more like you than like …”

Calla’s expression turned volcanic. “Like what, sir? Like you, Richard Gansey? Is that what you were going to say? You think she’s going to get her crazy on you but we’re immune? Well, you’ve got another think coming, mister.”

Gansey blinked rapidly.

A slow smile spread over the woman’s face. “He’s not wrong, witch.”

Lava spilled over Calla’s eyelids. “What did you just call me?”

The woman laughed and sang, “Blue lily, lily blue, you and I.”

Both Blue and Calla scowled at the eerily familiar words. This woman must have been the one who had possessed Noah, just as she had possessed Chainsaw. Blue hoped this skill didn’t extend beyond dream birds and dead boys.

“It’s not too late to put her back,” Ronan said.

“YOU TWO,” roared Calla. Both Adam and Ronan winced. “Go to the store and get some supplies for her.”

Adam and Ronan exchanged a wide-eyed look. Adam’s look said, What does that mean? and Ronan’s said, I don’t care; let’s get out of here before she changes her mind. Gansey frowned after them as they scrambled to the front door.

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