Most fae would be nervous, or at the very cautious approaching the home of the Sea Witch, eldest of the Firstborn. Assuming they were willing to seek her out at all. They certainly would be scandalized to see a changeling of all people approaching the Firstborn's house with a sense of calm familiarity. As if she visited with the Sea Witch regularly. Then again, October did, so those who knew her might not be that surprised. She rapped twice on the Sea Witch's door and waited, trying to ignore how her stomach growled at the smell of the fresh baked doughnuts that rose from the bag she was carrying. She was about to knock again when the door was yanked open. "Get in here," the Luidaeg growled.
"I brought doughnuts," Toby said, holding up the bag.
"You damn well better have." The moment Toby crossed the threshold, the Luidaeg slammed the door shut and held out her hand for the doughnuts. It was never wise to keep the Sea Witch waiting, so she handed over the bag and hid a smile as the Luidaeg shoved a whole one into her mouth without even looking at it. She chewed and swallowed before saying. "So what do you want this time?"
"Nothing," Toby said.
"Bullshit, you always want something. Or need something. Heroes always need something from me. Come into the kitchen and sit your ass down. I've got water on for tea." Toby followed the Luidaeg down the hall and into the kitchen that felt far more comfortable than was probably healthy considering the number of times she'd bled in it. Obediently she sat it one of the mismatched vinyl chairs and let out an almost silent sigh of relief. The Luidaeg opened a cupboard that looked to be full of jars and bottles containing the sort of things you might find in one of those big haunted houses that paid really close attention to detail. She growled, shut the cupboard, and opened it again. This time it was full of mugs of all shapes and sizes, no two seeming to match. She pulled two down from the middle shelf and plopped a tea bag into each before filling them from an electric kettle. She set one in front of Toby, and the other in front of herself as she sat down at the other end of the table. She pulled the box of doughnuts out of the bag, opened it and shoved another into her mouth. "Alright," she said once she'd swallowed. "You said you needed to talk to someone. I've no idea why you thought that meant you needed to talk to me, but I've given up trying to figure out what goes through that idiot head of yours. So talk." To punctuate her words she took a bite out of a third doughnut.
Toby sighed and leaned her elbows on the scarred surface of the kitchen table. She wrapped her hands around the mug of tea and stared into it. "Okay, this is probably a stupid question, but, uh... have you ever been married?"
There was a long, pregnant pause, and Toby gripped her mug, worried she'd offended the Sea Witch. It would be just her luck to get killed over something stupid like this. Then the Luidaeg began to laugh. It was a harsh, grating sound, with very little actual humor in it. "Oh Toby, you are the craziest person I've ever had the misfortune to deal with. Never change." Her smile held a few too many pointed teeth, but at least it appeared more amused than threatening. "You don't actually care about my marital history do you? This is about your wedding, isn't it?"
Toby shrugged and let out the breath she'd been holding. "No. Yes. I don't know." She sipped at the tea, mostly to help her gather herself before she looked up at the Luidaeg. and burst out "It's just all so complicated! It wasn't this complicated last time I'd thought about getting married."
"Last time you thought about getting married, you weren't a Hero of the Realm, getting married to a King of Cats, and having the wedding at the court of the High King of the Westlands. Of course it was fucking simpler."
"I don't want a big fancy wedding though. I never wanted this to be a big deal. Why can't we just go to the courthouse?" Toby knew she was whining, but she couldn't help herself. May had cornered her last night and forced her to spend hours looking through bridal magazines and websites, to make decisions on a dress, cake, everything. She was pretty sure she would be dreaming about white frosting for days.
"I just told you why" the Luidaeg said, her tone sharp, but not unsympathetic. "Drink your tea."
Toby took another sip of the tea, actually tasting it this time. It tasted of mint and wild fruit and just a hint of sea salt that should have taken away from the flavor but somehow managed enhance it instead. She took a third sip and felt herself relax slightly. "I know," she admitted. "I know. It just seemed like there's no end to the things I'm supposed to make decisions on. If I never have to look at another wedding cake, it'll be too soon."
"Get your kitty-boy to help. It's his wedding too." the Luidaeg pointed out.
"He says that whatever I wish is fine, since this isn't really a cait sidhe ceremony. I'm not sure the cait sidhe even really have formal ceremonies. I guess they must, but..." Toby shook her head. "And May says he can't help me pick out my dress. I know it's tradition, but I'm shit at picking out clothes, and he has a much better eye than I do."
"Since when have you ever given a flying fuck about tradition?"
Toby sighed and rested her chin on the hand not still curled around her mug of tea. "Since Tybalt decided that this particular tradition was charming." she said with a resigned sigh. "It's just... I don't think I ever realized how many different styles of wedding dress there were. And every time I find one I think I like, May says it would look horrible on me. Which it kind of stupid since apparently I'm going to be having the thing made for me?"
The Luidaeg snorted. "Of course it'll be made for you. I know you seem determined to forget this fact, but you've helped out a whole lot of people, many of whom would love to repay that by making a dress for your wedding. Besides, it would get their craft seen in the High Court, and that would be good business for anyone." She grabbed another doughnut before shoving the box towards Toby. "Take one."
Almost reflexively, Toby plucked a maple frosted doughnut out of the box. One didn't disobay the Luideag when she used that tone of voice. She stared at the doughnut in her hand for a moment before she bit into it thoughtfully. She didn't really like the idea of people feeling like they had to do things for her. Hero of the realm or no, she was still just a changeling, no matter how much the balance of her blood had been shifted. She was too used to thinking of gifts as things that always came with a cost. So she changed the subject. "So why do I have to make all the decisions? I mean, it'll be the High Court staff that'll make the cake, so why not let them decide what it looks like? And they'll handle the flowers and decorations and all that. I'm sure whoever makes my dress will make me something that looks better than I'd ever think of. Why can't I just sit back and let everyone else handle things?"
The Luidaeg raised an eyebrow and said in a voice as dry as salt, "I know you are determined to martyr yourself for the world, but consider for a moment that other people might want to make you happy. They want the wedding to be perfect for you"
Toby squirmed under the Sea Witch's gaze. Finally she muttered, "I'd be happy just going to the courthouse in jeans and a t-shirt."
The Luidaeg sighed, "For Mom's sake Toby, you've been through way worse than a little wedding planning. You agreed to have the wedding at the High Court, so it has to be fancy. Stop whining, and just accept that it's going to happen. The sooner you make decisions, the sooner it'll all be over with."
"I hate having to just enduring things."
"But you do it so well," the Luidaeg said with a short, harsh laugh.
Since she didn't have a good response to that, Toby changed the subject. "Will you be coming to the wedding?"
The Luidaeg's eyes darkened for a moment, but then she gave another harsh laugh. "While the thought of terrifying the High Court with my presence is amusing, I think everyine would really prefer if I did not attend."
"I wouldn't mind," Toby said, though she'd had a feeling that would be the answer. While it was probably unhealthy to consider the eldest of the Firstborn a friend, Toby wasn't really known for making healthy decisions, and she really had hoped that the Luidaeg would be there as her friend if nothing else. But considering the commotion her presence had stirred up at the Conclave, Toby had to admit it would probably be best if the Luidaeg didn't come to the wedding.
"But if you don't send me pictures, I will kill you," the Luidaeg said.
Toby managed to smother a laugh. It wasn't that the Luidaeg's threat wasn't serious. She couldn't lie after all. But such threats had almost become banter between them. Which was probably just further proof that she was crazy to even be associating with the Sea Witch. "I have terrible taste in friends," she said with a half smile.
The Luidaeg returned the smile for a brief moment before her expression turned serious. "Don't get yourself into trouble up in Toronto, No deposing the High King or anything like that. Promise me."
"I never mean to do anything like that," Toby protested. "It just always seems to happen."
This time when the Luidaeg laughed, there was no humor in it at all. "I'm serious Toby. I need you to come back here in one piece." Her eyes had gone storm dark, and held Toby's gaze in their inescapable grip.
"I will," she said, unable to stop a shiver from passing through her body.
"Good," the Luideag said, her eyes fading back to a more human sea glass green. "Good," she said again, and slumped back into her chair. The fae were essentially ageless, and the Firstborn even more so than their decedents, but Toby thought the Sea Witch looked, for a brief moment, every year as old as she must actually be. Old, and sad for reasons Toby wasn't sure she ever wanted to find out. But then the Luideag shook her head slightly, and the look was gone so fast Toby could almost pretend she'd imagined it. "Do you have a date yet for the happy nuptials?" she asked.
Toby took another sip of her tea to cover her surprise at the sudden shift in tone. She made a face at her mug - the tea had gone cold. She took as second sip anyway. "No, not yet," she admitted. "The High King and Queen still need to get everything settled from the Conclave, and May says I should make at least preliminary decisions about things like the dress and the cake and that sort of stuff before we set a firm date."
"I'm surprised your kitty boy isn't pushing for a date as soon as possible," the Luideag said with a smirk.
"Tybalt has matters to settle with his own Court. And I don't think he's looking forward to the trip to Toronto." They would be traveling mostly in the Summerlands, which meant carriages rather than a car, but for someone who'd come to San Francisco all the way from London, her fiance really didn't enjoy travel. That he was willing to go to Toronto at all just for this wedding was a testament to his love for her.
The Luideag nodded. "And it's not like you two are doing that stupid human thing of waiting until you're married to have sex."
Toby felt herself flush. The fae had always been more relaxed when it came to sex and relationships than the human world, so she and Tybalt had had sex far before they'd ever decided to get married. But she was still human enough to be embarrassed when someone else brought it up. "No," she admitted before hurriedly changing the subject. "I think I'm going to let Sylvester do the whole 'giving me away' thing." Their relationship might still be rocky, but he was the closest thing she had to a father figure. She was perfectly capable of giving herself to anyone she chose of course, but she still sort of liked that part of the traditional marriage ceremony. Besides, in fairy, it was far more of a 'sealing an alliance' thing than 'hey, have my property' sort of thing.
"He deserves it," the Luideag said with a slight nod. "He's your liege if nothing else."
"That's what Tybalt said too. And he doesn't even like Sylvester."
"Your cat's a clever man."
There wasn't really anything she could say to that, and she really didn't want to get into a discussion with the Luideag about her relationship with Sylvester. First of all, it was none of the Sea Witch's business, and second, she was still uncertain where their relationship stood at the moment. After everything that had happened at the Conclave they had made up at least somewhat, but she wasn't quite ready to put aside the fact that he'd been lying to her for so long. Well, she would for the wedding at least. She owed him that much.
They sat in silence for a long moment as the Luideag finished off the rest of the doughnuts. She threw the empty box and plastic bag toward the trash can where it landed with a rather disturbing crunch. "So what do you want from me?"
Toby sighed and leaned back in her chair to stare up at the ceiling. "I don't know, really. It just seems like ever since the Conclave, the wedding seems like all anyone wants to talk about. I mean, I'd rather that than there be another disaster or something, but I'm just getting kind of tired of it, you know? Even Quentin and Raj seem to want to talk about it all the time, and they're teenage boys. I didn't think teenage boys cared about weddings."
"Yes, but it's your wedding, and Quentin is your squire," the Luideag pointed out.
"I know, but still!"
"So you came here to get away from all the wedding talk, and spend the whole time talking about your wedding." The sarcasm in the Luidaeg's tone was thick enough to cut with a knife.
Toby felt herself flush again. "I'm sorry. It's kind of taking over everything."
The Luidaeg laughed. "It could be worse. You've never seen a noble's wedding. They consume the attentions of everyone in the area for months. Years if they're really important. Or think they are."
Toby gave a mock shudder at the thought. "That does sort of put things in perspective."
"It should," The Luideag stood and put her now empty mug of tea in the sink. "You just needed to rant a bit?"
Toby nodded, realizing that she was feeling more relaxed than she had in days. "I guess so." It seemed stupid to have come all the way to the Luidaeg's house just to complain, but wasn't that what friends did?
"I see. The doughnuts were good. Now go away."
Toby knew the Luidaeg well enough not to take the harsh tone personally, but she did get up and head back out to the door. "I'll see you soon," she said, her hand on the door knob of the front door.
"You damned well better," was the response from the kitchen. With a smile, Toby opened the door and slipped out. Time to head back home and once again face the wedding whirlwind.