Chapter Twenty-One: Safe House

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Dr Southey said the word with a mouthful of gooey, oozing Welsh rarebit. He had already eaten his own supper and now he was finishing mine. I hadn't managed more than a couple of bites of anything since meeting the Queen of Dusk.

I felt nauseated thinking of my Mum out there somewhere, held prisoner by Selkie or Kain and whatever monsters they had at their command. It was worse to think that my best hopes for finding her lay with either the conspiratorial soldiers who lost her in the first place, or a charming trickster thief from a midnight-black court. Worse, those two forces were at war with each other, with me and my family stuck in the middle.

Whatever Éven was, I believed he would find Mum. He'd said he would, and Queen Zorya's words confirmed it. "The prince will find her among burrows." He would find her and bring her back to me.

Dr Southey saw that I had gotten lost in thought and repeated himself, wiping the crumbs from his mouth with the sleeve of his cardigan.

"Sorry; unseelie means unholy. It's an old Scottish word. The Scots used to divide the fairy courts into two camps, the holy and the unholy; the fortunate and the unfortunate. Blessed and cursed. Seelie and unseelie."

Southey took a swig of water to wash down his mouthful. He was in the process of cataloguing the contents of Tiana Cavendish's attic and he had set himself up in her living room, surrounded by boxes and bags that the other agents brought down. Because of the late hour, the rest of Southey's team had gone home. But some agents were still upstairs to protect the attic, and more were in a van parked in front of the house.

The heavy Horseshoe presence was the reason I was allowed to use Mrs Cavendish's home as my safe house on the second night after my mother's abduction. The Admiral didn't like the idea, but I insisted. They had no right to stop me. Grace agreed that this was probably the most well protected house in the country right now, and she persuaded the Admiral to let me go.

I didn't let on the real reason I wanted to be here: I wanted a house with windows; I wanted a house that Éven could get into.

As soon as the household was asleep, I planned to hang Éven's crystal and summon him to my side. I would get him to tell me the truth about his plans, and I would help him find my mother. If Éven was the devil, he was the devil I knew, and he was the devil who could get Mum back.

I hoped Tiana would forgive me for inviting this devil back into her home, because I felt sure the Admiral never would.

And anyway, the way Queen Zorya described him, Éven and I weren't all that different. He was still only a boy. One of our lot, turned into one of hers. I hadn't considered that he might have been born as human as me, but that was the implication of Zorya's words. Someone made Éven different, just as someone made me different. Éven had seen those similarities from the start. He called me strange, and he meant it as a good thing. Strange like him.

Yet the word 'unholy' did nothing to set my mind at ease.

"You have to understand, Mr Frazer; it's not at all fair to look at the fey as holy and unholy," the doctor continued. "The Scots have always had a rather love/hate relationship with the fey. They didn't leave much room for nuance. King James despised them. His reign undid a lot of the good will that Elizabeth built up, and he made the Accords look like a rotten trick. To this day there are fey that spit on us for the things James's Horseshoe Men did to rid these islands of magic."

"So, they're not unholy? The Court at Dusk, they're not... evil?"

"No! How ridiculous. That would be like saying the French are evil because we've had a few disagreements. There are six courts deemed holy. And there are six deemed unholy, the Dusk and Ocean courts among them. But it's better to think of them as the courts we know and the courts we don't know. The ones we can see and the ones we can't see. The Unseelie Courts are a little farther into the shadows. 'Evil' is a very unhelpful concept."

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