Chapter Twenty

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A/N:  Q: Why did you change the title? 

A: I changed it because I wasn't too keen on the old one and I'm a naturally indecisive person. You may be wondering why I've called this story 'The Butterfly Net', and all I can say is have patience. All will be revealed soon. For now, just enjoy the ride. Happy reading! 

***

No matter how much Eva tosses and turns, she can't get to sleep. Every time she closes her eyes, some intrusive thought will worm its way into her mind and demand her attention. 

An unsettling recognition is beginning to unfurl in her mind - the comprehension that she is becoming so entangled in this world she barely understands that the very thought of extricating herself cleanly is now an unattainable pipe dream. Whatever information she has to trade for use of a Leyway may grant her temporary freedom from the horrors of Elphame, but she would be a fool if she thought that it will not come back to haunt her; that any of this will stay buried in the past, gradually fading from memory until it becomes little more than a vivid nightmare. 

And the city - Amaranth, Grey had called it - she has no idea what to expect. No idea what corruption of the mundane could be awaiting her in the capital. Indeed, she has been shown kindness here - the now empty bottle of manna-root on her bedside table stands testament to that - but from the way Julian has spoken of this place, his clear disdain for it, she suspects that hospitality is not the norm for the Sidhe. 

Deciding to succumb to the sleepless night ahead of her, she swings her legs over the side of her bed and rubs her fatigued face, as if she is trying to wipe away the exhaustion clinging to her eyes. 

Silently, she lets herself out of her room and into the corridor, flickering warmth of gas lamps greeting her. She hadn't really had time to appreciate the beauty of the Bolthole earlier; she'd been too consumed by her desire to leave this place than take a moment to absorb the surroundings. 

Rich red carpet spans the length of the hallway, the wood-paneled walls only interrupted for the occasional door, sparse enough that Eva concludes every room must be as palatial as her own. Gas lamps cast dancing shadows over the ceiling, almost eerie in the silence.

She is not surprised that she can't hear the raucous reveling of the bar downstairs, the house is staggeringly large, the lengthy hallways almost labyrinthine. Adalee had told her earlier that the house expands, shifts to accommodate the needs of those staying there. It's like a living entity, sentient, almost. 

After everything she's seen over the past few days, a living house does not surprise her. Though it does unsettle her, she is unable to escape the feeling of being watched, the prickle on her skin of eyes on her, tracing her every move. 

She tries to shrug off the sensation, she knows she is on edge and paranoia will do little to remedy the situation; it will do her no good to create new problems when she has enough to deal with already. 

She is not sure of where she is going, only that she needs to occupy her mind with something to prevent the idle wanderings to those toxic places. 

At one end of the corridor is a flight of stairs, winding gracefully upwards and opening out onto an almost identical hallway, though on this one, some doors are thrown open, beckoning light spilling from the rooms beyond. 

In one room, a drawing room, she presumes, Eva finds Adalee, curled up on a deep mauve sofa and so immersed in the book on her lap that she doesn't hear her come in. 

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