Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 5

“It’s in terrible shape — textiles don’t preserve nicely, as you well know. And it took them forever to suss out what it was. Now, now, get off at this exit, Gansey, so I can show you this. By curious accident, the drapery was found under a barn in Kirtling. Flooding cut a deep path through the topsoil, which revealed the edge of an older foundation. Meters and meters of dirt were dislodged.”

Adam asked, “All that water didn’t destroy the flag?”

The professor swiveled. “Exactly the question! By a trick of physics, the water didn’t fill the foundation but instead managed to cut a separate course slightly uphill! And in answer to your unasked question, yes! The barn was located on a ley line.”

“That was the very question I was about to ask,” Ronan said.

“Ronan,” Blue said, “don’t be such a shitbag.”

Gansey caught a corner of Adam’s laugh in the rearview mirror as he pulled into a parking spot at a bedraggled gas station. Malory had produced an old digital camera from some place on his person and was now clicking back through the photos on it. “They’re now blaming the flooding on a flash thunderstorm or some such. But people who were there say it was because the walls of the barn were weeping.”

“Weeping!” exclaimed Blue. It was impossible to tell if she was horrified or delighted.

“What do you believe?” Gansey asked.

In response, Malory simply handed him the camera. Gansey looked at the display.

“Oh,” he said.

The photo showed a badly degraded textile painted with three women, each in simple robes from a time well before Glendower. They stood in identical poses, hands lifted on either side of their heads, palms bloody red, heralding the Mab Darogan.

They each wore Blue Sargent’s face.


But no. Nothing was impossible these days. He zoomed the photo larger for a better look. Blue’s wide eyes looked back at him. Stylized, yes, but still, the resemblance was uncanny: her dubious eyebrows, her curious mouth. He pressed a knuckle to his lips as hornets hissed in his ears.

He was suddenly overwhelmed, as he had not been in a long time, with the memory of the voice in his head as his life was saved. You will live because of Glendower. Someone else on the ley line is dying when they should not, and so you will live when you should not. He was filled with the need to see Glendower himself, to touch his hand, to kneel before him, to thank him, to be him.

Hands reached from the back; he didn’t know whose they were. He let them take the camera.

Blue murmured something he didn’t catch. Adam whispered, “She looks like you.”

“Which one?”

“All of them.”

“Fuck me,” Ronan said, voicing all of their thoughts.

“The photo is so close,” Gansey said finally. “The quality is excellent.”

“Well, of course,” Malory answered. “Don’t you understand? That is the barn outside my holiday cottage. I was the one who saw the tears. My team found the drapery.”

Gansey struggled to piece this together. “How did you know to look there?”

“That, Gansey, is the thing. I wasn’t looking for anything. I was on a well-deserved holiday. After the summer I had, battling that wretched Simmons neighbor about his beastly sewage issue, I was in desperate need of some time away. I assure you, my presence in Kirtling was a coincidence.”

“Coincidence,” echoed Adam, dubious.

What was this thing, this huge thing? Gansey was alive with anticipation and fear. The enormity of it felt like the black pit in the cave — he could see neither the bottom nor the other side.

“I must say, Gansey,” Malory said brightly. “I am so excited to meet your ley line.”


Blue couldn’t sleep that night. She couldn’t stop waiting for the sound of the front door. Some ingrained, foolish part of her couldn’t believe that her mother would not come home before school began tomorrow. Her mother always had an answer for everything, even if it was wrong, and Blue had taken for granted that she would be unchanging as everything else turned sideways.

Blue missed her.

She went to the hall and listened. Outside, Orla was conducting a midnight chakra clearing with a few ardent clients. Downstairs, Calla angrily watched television alone. On her floor, she heard nothing, nothing — and then a series of short, purposeful sighs from Persephone’s room at the end of the hall.

When she knocked, Persephone said in her tiny voice, “You might as well.”

Inside, the lamplight reached only to a shoddy little desk and the end of Persephone’s high, elderly twin bed. Persephone sat cross-legged in the Victorian desk chair, her enormous nimbus of curly hair lit golden by the single bulb. She worked away at an old sweater.

As Blue climbed onto the worn mattress, several bobbins of thread raced down to nestle against her bare feet. She tugged her oversized shirt down over her knees and watched Persephone for a few minutes. She seemed to be adding length to the sleeves by sewing on mismatching cuffs. Every so often, she sighed as if she were annoyed with herself or the sweater.

“Is that yours?” Blue asked.

“Is what mine?” Persephone followed her eyes to the sweater. “Oh. Oh, no. I mean, it was. Once. But you see I’m changing it.”

“For someone with giant long arms?”

Persephone held out the garment to verify if this was the case. “Yes.”

Blue slowly lined up the thread by color on the bed beside her. “Do you think Mom went looking for Butternut?”

“Your father. Artemus,” Persephone corrected. Or clarified. Butternut was not really Blue’s father’s name — it was a pet name Maura had apparently given him in Ye Olde Days. “I think that’s oversimplifying it. But yes, that is one of the reasons why she went.”

“I thought she had the hots for Mr. Gray.”

Persephone considered. “The problem with your mother, Blue, is she likes to touch things. We told her that Artemus was in the past. He made his choices long before you, I said. But no, she had to keep touching it! How can you expect something to heal if you keep poking?”

“Sooooo she’s … gone … to … get … him?”

“Oh, no!” Persephone said with a little laugh. “I don’t think that would — no. As you said, she has the hots for Mr. Gray. Do young people really say that anymore?”

“I just said it. I’m young.”


“Are you asking me or not? Either you accept my authority on this point or we move on.”

“We move on. But it is up to her, you know, if she wants to go looking for him. She never gets to be all on her own, and this is her chance to have some time to herself.”

Maura did not strike Blue as a time to herself person, but maybe that had been the problem. “So you’re saying we shouldn’t keep looking for her.”

“How should I know?”

“You’re a psychic! You charge people to tell their future! Look into the future!”

Persephone gazed at Blue with her all-black eyes until she felt a little bad about her outburst, and then Persephone added, “Maura went into Cabeswater. That’s not the future. Besides, if she had wanted help, she would have asked. Probably.”

“If I had paid you,” Blue said dangerously, “I would be asking for my money back right now.”

“Fortunate that you didn’t pay me, then. Does this look even to you?” Persephone held up the sweater. The two sleeves were nothing alike.

With a rather blasted pshaw! Blue leapt off the bed and stormed out of the room. She heard Persephone call, “Sleep is brain food!” as she headed down the hall.

Blue was not comforted. She did not feel in any way as if she had just had a meaningful exchange with a human.

Instead of going to her bedroom, she crept into the dim Phone/Sewing/Cat Room and sat beside the psychic hotline, folding her bare legs beneath her. The window, ajar, let in the chilly air. The streetlight through the leaves cast familiar, living shadows over the bins of sewing materials. Snatching a pillow from the chair, Blue rested it on top of her goose-bumped legs before picking up the handset. She listened to make sure there was a dial tone and not psychic activity on the other end.

Then she called Gansey.

It rang twice, three times, and then: “Hello?”

He sounded boyish and ordinary. Blue asked, “Did I wake you up?”

She heard Gansey fumble for and scrape up his wireframes.

“No,” he lied, “I was awake.”

“I called you by accident anyway. I meant to call Congress, but your number is one off.”


“Yeah, because yours has 6-6-5 in it.” She paused. “Get it?”

“Oh, you.”

“6-6-5. One number different. Get it?”

“Yeah, I got it.” He was quiet for a minute then, though she heard him breathing. “I didn’t know you could call hell, actually.”

“You can call in,” Blue said. “The thing is that you can’t call out.”

“I imagine you could send letters, though.”

“Never with enough postage.”

“No, faxes,” Gansey corrected himself. “Pretend I didn’t say letters. Faxes is funnier.”

Blue laughed into the pillow. “Okay, that was all.”

“All what?”

“All I had to say.”

“I’ve learned a lot. I’m glad you misdialed.”

“Well. Easy mistake to make,” she said. “Might do it again.”

A very, very long pause. She opened her mouth to fill it, then changed her mind and didn’t. She was shivering again, even though she wasn’t cold with the pillow on her legs.

“Shouldn’t,” Gansey said finally. “But I hope you do.”


The following morning, Gansey and Malory went out to investigate the ley line. Adam agreed to join them, which surprised Gansey. It wasn’t that the two of them had been fighting. It was that they’d been … not fighting. Not talking. Not anything. Gansey had kept going on the same road he always had, and Adam had taken a fork onto a second road.

But for the moment, at least, they were headed in the same direction. Goal: Find another entrance to the raven cave. Method: Retrace steps from previous ley line searches. Resources: Roger Malory.

It was a good time of year to show off the town. Henrietta and her environs were a paint box of colors. Green hayfields, golden cornfields, yellow sycamores, orange oaks, periwinkle mountains, cerulean cloudless sky. The freshly paved road was black and snaking and inviting. The air was crisp and breathable and insistent on action.

The three of them moved quickly until Malory’s attention was caught and held at their fourth stop of the morning, Massanutten Mountain. It was not the most mystical of locales. Neighborhoods bubbled from its sides and a ski resort crowned it. Gansey found it coarse, tourist and student fodder, but if he’d said it out loud, Adam would’ve torn out his throat in a minute for being elitist.

The three of them stood just off the road, avoiding the stares of slowing drivers. Malory was all turtled over behind his tripod, lecturing either Adam or himself. “The procedure of ley hunting is quite different in the States! In England, a true ley must have at least one aligned element — church, barrow, standing stone — every two miles, or it is considered coincidental. But of course here in the Colonies” — both boys smiled good-naturedly — “everything is much farther apart. Moreover, you never had the Romans to build you things in wonderfully straight lines. Pity. One misses them.”

“I do miss the Romans,” Gansey said, just to see Adam smirk, which he did.

Malory sighted his transit through a gap in the trees, toward the gaping valley down below. “And although your line is now awake and profound — positively profound — with energy, the secondary line we’re looking for today is n— curses!” He had tripped over the Dog.

The Dog looked at Malory. His expression said, Curses!

“Hand me that pencil.” Malory took the pencil from Adam and marked something on the map. “Go sit in the car!”

“Excuse me?” Adam asked, polite and shocked.

“Not you! The Dog!”

The Dog sulkily retreated. Another car slowed down to stare. Malory muttered to himself. Adam absently tapped a finger against his own wrist, a gesture somehow disconcerting and otherworldly. Insects buzzed around them; wings brushed Gansey’s cheek.

A bee, maybe; I could be dead in a minute here, maybe, by the side of this road, before Malory can get his cell phone out of the car, before Adam realizes what’s going on.

He didn’t swat the insect. It buzzed away, but his heart still beat fast.

“Talk me through what you’re doing,” Gansey said. Then he corrected: “Us. Talk us.”

Malory adopted his professor voice. “Your cave is tied to the ley line, and it has no fixed location. Therefore, if we’re looking for a cave to join up with it, there’s no sense searching for ordinary cave entrances. Only an entrance on a ley will do. And as your cave mapping suggests that you were traveling perpendicular to the ley instead of along it, I believe the cave network in its entirety exists on multiple lines. So we seek a crossroads! Tell me, what is this?”

He indicated something on one of the maps that a younger Gansey had heavily notated. Older Gansey lifted Malory’s finger to look beneath it. “Spruce Knob. Highest peak in West Virginia. Forty-five hundred feet or something like that?”

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