The baron kissed Emmeline at her door, then turned and walked away. Some of his vassals had arrived and they had business to discuss. Baron’s Maîtresse had no place at his side when he had to conduct official court business, but he would have her there for dinner afterwards and that left her on her own for a little while.
She could tell Baron had been a little annoyed these vassals had dropped in with so little advance notice, but when she assured him that it didn’t count against the two days of private time she’d promised him, his mood lightened again. He’d have his two days regardless of unavoidable interruptions, and that arrangement made her just as happy as it did him.
With the baron’s attention elsewhere, she had an opportunity to address small household matters.
“Sevé?” Emmeline called.
The pixie burst into view with a tiny shower of sparkling light, then hovered not far from Emmeline’s face. “Hello, Emmi!” she said in her usual exuberant way.
Emmeline started to say something, but then stopped and looked suspiciously at Sevé. “Hey, were you spying on Baron and I again?”
“No! Sevé would not spy on Emmi! She watches in case other spies are looking.”
That was splitting hairs rather thin, but Emmeline decided to let it go. She didn’t want to have to send Sevé away every time she and the baron spent time in the bedroom together. Besides, it was reassuring to know Sevé was always watching her back. “Okay, uh thanks, Sevé.”
“You are welcome!” the pixie replied, looking pleased with herself. It was likely she’d use that excuse again some time.
“Rivanon has a found a leatherworker that will size a set of studded leather armor for me, but he needs precise measurements if its to fit comfortably.” She fished around in her pack and came up with with a knotted cord she used to make measurements when she needed to hem, repair, or otherwise adjust her costumes. “Will you help me with the measurements?”
The pixie did a loop and zipped past the cord, snatching one end of it on the way while Emmeline slipped out of silky robes and hung them on a stand next to the large bed.
Sevé was an enthusiastic helper but she clearly didn’t know what parts needed to be measured and what parts did not. She zipped at top speed here and there, circling limbs and torso this way and that but she moved so fast, Emmeline wasn’t sure what measurements the little pixie was actually taking, or if she was even taking any measurements of use at all.
“Wait. Sev,” Emmeline tried to get the pixie’s attention, but the attempt was futile. “Stop. I don’t think you need to measure my ankles. No Sev, that tickles!” Emmeline laughed. This was becoming a disaster. She should have just asked Amelie to help, she realized belatedly.
Finally, Sevé buzzed about Emmeline’s bust, which was actually a measurement that mattered. Emmeline stood still, but Sevé couldn’t catch the other end of the measuring cord and she was moving too fast for Emmeline to catch it. Finally, Sevé stuck one end in place with her little needle-like sword so she could take the measurement.
Emmeline nearly screamed. “Ow! I said stop!”
Sevé’s dizzying motions halted for a fraction of a second as the pixie stared back at Emmeline, then she squeaked, zipped straight at the closed door, bounced off, and crazily zig-zagged all around the room until she finally dove for cover behind a pillow.
Emmeline caught a glimpse of herself in the dressing mirror. The image seemed taller, slightly thinner. The image possessed a timeless beauty and there was no doubt the image was a reflection and not an illusion. But the face wore Emmeline’s pain, frustration, and anger and it made her beauty a terrifying thing. Emmeline froze, feeling the same fear Sevé had, while the image slowly faded away. She stood a few moments longer before the pain in her left breast drew her attention back to reality. With a hiss of agony, she pulled the tiny pixie-size rapier out and immediately healed the small wound. She didn’t want to have to explain bloodstains to the baron.
“Sevé is sorry!” came a muffled, high-pitched voice. “Sevé very, very sorry! She has short arms for measurings!”
“What… what was that?”
The pixie peeked over the top of a pillow. “Huh?”
“I… changed. What happened?”
Sevé looked cautiously confused. “Emmi got mad at Sevé.”
“It’s okay, Sevé, I forgive you. Just don’t poke me like that again, okay?”
The pixie nodded and crept out of her hiding place. “Sevé promises.”
“I’m sorry I scared you so badly,” Emmeline said. “I don’t know what came over me.”
The pixie looked quizzical, then smiled brightly. “You looked like Maryswenifahr’s daughter again!”
“Well, an angry Mara’s daughter. Mara is with you now so you can make people love you or fear you. See?”
Emmeline thought about that. Mara had told her of this power months ago, but Emmeline had never thought to use it. Now she’d used it without really meaning to. She’d been pretty startled and her first instinct was to get the object of her torment away from her. Unintentional or not, she’d experienced it now for the first time.
“Huh,” Emmeline mused as she reached for her robes. “That could be useful.”
“Are we going somewhere, Emmi?”
“Yes. We are going to fetch M’selle Amelie to get the measurements down.” She tied on her robe and headed for the door.
“Aw.” Sevé shrunk down to a little sparkling light and flitted after.