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I Shall Walk Softly There

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I: But who can tell us how?

In the blur of the air as his eyes wake up again, there is a brightness, scarlet and viridian, to be quite exact. He realises, as he grows a little more into himself, that he is seeing the lanky form of the new Chrestomanci -- he is wearing a dressing-gown, and Mordecai thinks, I deprecate the taste of that garment, but manages not to say so out loud.

And yet, why does he wear it? It cannot be night, because when Mordecai began the trance, they had only just finished luncheon. At least, that is what he remembers. He believes that he remembers Rosalie's voice saying the afternoon was warm -- and they had been drinking hock, a drink of warm days -- but she had covered him with a blanket nonetheless. Chrestomanci says, 'Mordecai -- I'm not sure what happened. Do you know? You couldn't seem to get back, and you weren't where I's been hours.'

'It was something -- to do with Eleven,' he jerks out. 'I don't know. It hasn't come back. I'm not sure that I have -- not all.'


II: This shaking keeps me steady.

He rolls over onto his side, and when he sees her white lawn and her narrow hem of lace, it is not so much the sight, it is the scent -- he could not less deserve it. Rain drums outside, and he slips a cold hand under his pillow, twisting a handkerchief round it as though he needed some sort of punishment. He can feel Gabriel's magic in the house, and it is not even angry, it is just the magic of a very old man.


III: What falls away is always.

He opens his eyes to ivory mouldings high above; all his flat's elegant offices clustering around him. It is extremely easy to find women who will sit in this room and play for him. The ceiling is clean, and stamped across it he is seeing the child's ragged suit, and the stains all over it.


IV: Of those so close beside me, which are you?

He does not see anything because he has been dreaming and his eyes are full of tears. Flavian has woken with him. When he can see again, he sees Flavian.


V: And take my waking slow.

He sees --

A world he does not know at all.