Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 37

It was easier said than done, though. The beasts were fast and skittish, and Adam came away with handfuls of fur. A few yards away, he saw Gansey, frustrated, show him a palm coated with fur, too. Gwenllian laughed and ran after the creatures, clapping her hands and herding them.

“Run along, little creatures! Run! Run!”

Adam suddenly pitched forward, his shoulder stinging, as some sort of creature half-leapt over him. He rolled, covering his head. Another hoof knocked him — he thought of his old Latin teacher trampled to death in Cabeswater.

The difference was that Cabeswater wouldn’t let Adam die.

It would let him get hurt, though. He scrambled farther out of the way and then back to his feet.

“Adam,” Gansey said, pointing.

Adam’s eyes found what he gestured to: Ronan’s and Blue’s beasts leaping through the diminished cave passage, right before it disappeared.


Blue found herself in a strange, low-ceilinged cavern of indeterminate space. Light from behind illuminated the ground as it sloped away from her and to a jagged-floored pit.

No. That was not the floor. That was the ceiling, reflected.

She was looking at a vast, still lake. The water mirrored the spiked ceiling perfectly, hiding the true depth of the dead lake. There was something dead and uncomforting about it. On the other side of the lake was another tunnel, barely visible in the dim light.

Blue shivered. Her shoulder ached where she had fallen on it, and so did her butt.

She turned away from the lake — uneasily, because who knew what a mirror might hold — and looked for signs of the others. She saw her great, white beast standing aloof and still, like a part of the cave. And she saw the cavern path that led back up the way she had hurtled.

“You’re here,” Blue said, relieved, because she was not alone: Here was Ronan. It was his ghost light, slung over his shoulder still, that lit the cavern.

He stood as aloof as the elk, eyes wary and dark and foreign as he strode out of the dimness. There was no sign of the creature he must have ridden to gain access, though.

Suddenly full of misgiving, she flicked out her switchblade. “Are you the real Ronan?”

He scoffed.

“I’m serious.”

“Yes, maggot,” Ronan said. He peered around as uneasily as she did, which made her feel a little better about him. It was the lake, or something on the underside of it, that was making her nervous.

“Why didn’t you need to ride in on something?”

“I did. It got away.”

“Got away? To where?”

He stalked closer to her, and then he leaned to scoop up a loose rock from the ground. He tossed it underhand into the lake. There was a sound like air blowing across their ears, and then the rock vanished. Blue saw the moment it hit the water and disappeared — not into the water, but into nothing.

There were no ripples.

“So, you know what?” Ronan asked Blue. “Fuck magic. Fuck this.”

Blue walked slowly toward the lake’s edge.

“Hey! Didn’t you hear me? Don’t do anything stupid. It ate my deer thing.”

“I’m just looking,” Blue said.

She got as close as she dared, and then she looked in, trying to see the bottom.

Once again she saw the golden reflection of the ceiling above, then the black of the water, and then her own face, her eyes hollowed out and strange.

Her face seemed to rise through the water toward her, closer and closer, skin paler and duller, until she saw that it was not her own face at all.

It was her mother’s.

Her eyes were dead, mouth slack, cheeks hollow and water-logged. She floated just below the surface. Face closest, torso falling away, legs lost in the black.

Blue could feel herself begin to shake. It was everything she’d felt after Persephone’s death. It was grief right in the moment, singeing her.

“No,” she said out loud. “No. No.”

But her mother’s face kept floating, deader and deader, after all this, and Blue heard herself making a thin, awful sound.

Be sensible — Blue couldn’t make herself so. Drag her out.

Suddenly, she felt arms around her, yanking her away from the lake’s edge. The arms around her were trembling, too, but they were iron tight, scented with sweat and moss.

“It’s not real,” Ronan told her, voice low. “It’s not real, Blue.”

“I saw her,” Blue said, and she heard the sob in her voice. “My mother.”

He said, “I know. I saw my father.”

“But she was there —”

“My father’s dead in the ground. And Adam saw your mother farther on in this godforsaken cave. That lake is a lie.”

But it felt real to her heart, even if her head knew better.

For a moment they remained that way, Ronan holding her as tightly as he would hold his brother Matthew, his cheek on her shoulder. Every time she thought she could go on, she saw the face of her mother’s corpse again.

Finally, she pulled back, and Ronan stood up. He looked away, but not before she saw the tear he flicked from his chin.

“Fuck this,” he said again.

Blue took great pains to make her voice normal. “Why would it show us that? If it wasn’t real, why would Cabeswater show us something so horrible?”

“This isn’t Cabeswater anymore,” Ronan replied. “This is underneath. The lake belongs to something else.”

They both cast their eyes left and right, looking for some way to cross. But there was nothing in this barren, apocalyptic landscape except for them and the great beast, as still as a cave formation.

“I’m going to look again,” Blue said finally. “I want to see if I can see how deep it really is.”

Ronan did not tell her no, but he did not come with her, either. She walked to the edge, trying not to tremble at the thought of seeing her mother again, or something worse. Leaning, she scooped up another loose stone, and when she got to the edge, she dropped it in immediately, not waiting for a reflection to rise.

The stone vanished on the point of hitting the surface of the water.

Again, there wasn’t so much as a ripple.

And now, undisturbed, the water began once more to form a vision for her, letting it float up from the depth.

As the horror rose, Blue suddenly remembered Gwenllian’s lesson of the mirrors.

Mirror magic is nothing to mirrors.

If the dead lake had shown her Maura and shown Ronan his father, then it was not creating anything — it was using thoughts of theirs and mirroring them back.

It was just a massive scrying bowl.

She began to build up the blocks inside her, just like when she’d cut off Noah and Adam. As the dead corpse face slowly rose toward her, she ignored it and continued.

She was a mirror.

Her gaze focused on the water once more. There was no corpse. There was no face. There was no reflection at all, just as there had been no reflection in Neeve’s mirrors. There was just the still glass surface of the water, and then, if she squinted past the reflection of the roof, the silty, uneven surface of the bottom of the lake.

It was only a few inches deep. One or two. A faultless illusion.

She touched her lip — this reminded her of Gansey, and she stopped.

“I’m going to walk across it,” she said.

Ronan laughed in an unfunny way. “Right, but seriously.”

“Seriously,” Blue told him. Then, hurriedly, “Not you, though. I don’t think you can touch the water. You’d dissolve like that stone.”

“And you won’t?”

She looked at the water. It was unbelievable, really, that she was trusting a crazy person’s wisdom. “I don’t think so. Because of the way I am.”

“Assuming that’s even true,” Ronan said, “you’d go on by yourself?”

“Don’t leave this shore,” Blue said. “Well, not forever. But — promise me you’ll stay a reasonable amount of time. I’ll just see what it looks like on the other side.”

“Assuming you don’t disappear, you mean.”

He wasn’t improving her already tested courage. “Ronan, stop.”

He leveled a heavy gaze at her, the sort he normally used to bend Noah to his will.

“If she’s over there …” Blue began.

“Yeah, I know,” he snarled. “Fine. Wait.”

Ducking his head, he pulled off his ghost light and hung it over her shoulder.

She didn’t bother to say, But you’ll be waiting in darkness. Nor did she say, If I vanish immediately into the lake, you’ll have to find your way out of here sightless. Because he’d already known both these things when he’d given it to her.

Instead she said, “You know, you’re not such a shithead.”

“No,” Ronan replied, “really I am.”

Turning to the water, she allowed herself the brief gift of closing her eyes and shaking her head a little with the fear and awfulness of what she was about to do.

Then she stepped in.


The lake was wet, which shocked her.

Somehow she had believed that if the corpse was false, perhaps the water was, too. But it turned out that at least two inches of it was very real, and squishing coldly into her soles.

She had not disappeared.

She turned to find Ronan crouched down a few feet up onto dry land, arms wrapped around his knees, already waiting for the darkness to take him. When he met her eyes, he gave her an unsmiling salute before she turned back around.

Gingerly, she picked her way across the lake, her eyes on the true bottom of it and on the ceiling and on the walls — she did not trust anything in this place, especially as dread began to blossom in her, more and more.

She didn’t like to think of leaving Ronan back there in the darkness.

But she kept going, alone, and when she thought that she could not take the blackness in her heart anymore, she came to the edge of the lake and to the tunnel that came after.

She stepped onto the rock, and for just a second, she stood there and tried to let her fear drip off her.

Why do I have to be alone for this?

She recognized the unfairness of this. Then she readjusted the ghost light and kept going.

Blue knew she was going the right way, because she began to feel the subtle tug of the third sleeper. It was like Adam had said — it was a voice in your head that sounded a lot like yours if you weren’t paying attention.

But Blue was paying attention.

It was not far to the chamber he’d described. She crept through the dark hole, feeling a voice inside her say come closer closer closer when the real voice inside her was saying I wish I could run away.

And there it was, as he’d described. A small, scooped-out chamber, low enough that she had to crouch to enter. She didn’t care for the crouching; it made her feel uncomfortably vulnerable.

It is a lot like kneeling.

But it wasn’t the real voice in her head that thought this; it was the third sleeper’s mimicked one.

She wished so much for the presence of the boys, or Calla, or her mother, or — she had so many people that she took for granted, all the time. She had never needed to be truly afraid before. There had always been another hand to catch her, or at least to hold hers as they fell together.

Blue crawled into the chamber. Ronan’s ghost light illuminated the space. She flinched when she realized how close she was to a kneeling man. He was inches away, willow-limbed and somehow familiar, completely unmoving.

Not sleeping, like a dream creature, nor dead, like the valley of bones. But fixed, gazing, intent, upon a dull red door with an oily black handle.


Blue pulled her eyes away from it.

I am a mirror, she thought. Take a look at yourself while I look around in here.

She moved around the motionless man, trying to steel her heart for what she was going to see. Trying to guard against that worst of things, that insidious hope, worse than the third sleeper’s whispers in her head.

But it didn’t help. Because on the other side of the man was Maura Sargent.

She was still, her hands stuffed in her armpits, but she was alive.

Alive, alive, alive, and Blue’s mother, and she loved her, and she had found her.

Blue didn’t care if Maura could feel it or not — she scrambled over and threw her arms ferociously around her mother’s neck. It felt so very comfortingly like her mother, because it was her mother.

To her very great surprise, Maura moved slightly beneath her, and then whispered, “Don’t let me move!”


“I won’t be able to prevent myself from opening it, now that there’s three of us!”

Blue glanced over at the man. His brow had furrowed deeper.

“We should just go,” Blue said. “How did you get across the lake?”

“Went around,” Maura whispered. “From above.”

“There was another way?” Now that Blue knew Maura was alive, she had room in her heart for other emotions, like being pissed. She peered around the cave and saw a small opening at the top of one of the low walls just as she saw that the man was beginning to creep toward the door.

Blue didn’t think. Bent over double, she darted over and flicked the switchblade out. “Oh, no. Come with me, dude.”

He seemed to genuinely consider impaling himself on a blade preferable to moving away from the door. Finally he shuffled back a few inches. Then a few inches more. Blue looked for something to tie his hands, but she only had the ghost light. She pulled it over her head and said, “Don’t take this personally, whoever you are, but I don’t trust you when you have your enchanty face on.”

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