Lilia Canther ran through the halls in the old mansion, giggling and dancing, utterly enchanted. She added a light to
the place, the little girl did, and Catherine's heart ached with it. The elder woman smiled, slightly. She had always
longed for children. A true child of her own she did not have. The others of her kind were too serious to allow
figurative mothering anyway. Sure, the family would think it an honor.
They would also think it tutoring.
The four-year-old daughter of the neighbor would do, then. Catherine smiled as Lilia ran up to her, clutching a
butterfly that had escaped into the house just to be captured by the darling child. Lilia was grinning, triumphant.
"It's a fairy!" she proclaimed.
Catherine laughed, squatting down to Lilia's height and patting the child's hand. "Well," she said secretively. "It
could be. Fairies come in all shapes and sizes. The most beautiful--or powerful--one look more like you and me."
Lilia squealed happily. She threw her clasped hands to her chest and ran off towards the kitchen, passing a
green-skinned, 3-eyed forest sprite as she walked out the room. Lilia giggled once more as she saw him and ran off
"You know, you really shouldn't confide in her like that."
Catherine sighed, glancing at the sprite. "She's a child, Rotchet. I highly doubt she will up-end your
civilization and destroy your race. Though--" Here she was distracted, watching the child at play. Catherine frowned
worriedly. "--you might want to remind your friend that she is not a plaything he can take home with him."
Rotchet turned, then too. In the hall, Lilia was playing a simple game with a court fairy that had come with
Rotchet. The aged woman's trained eye easily caught the tell-tale signs of a member of the flower court. This one was
standing at the end of the hall, singing and beckoning to the small girl. Lilia giggled and swirled in place for a
moment. Then she took off, rushing across the empty space and launching herself full-speed into the fairy's awaiting
arms. He caught her, laughed, spun her around, sat her down, and ran to the other end so they could play again.
Rotchet shook his head. "I think you'll have more trouble convincing him to go home in the first place. He
kept telling me how much he loves your grounds." The little sprite was practically green with envy. (Bad pun, I know.)
"Yes," Catherine replied. "The Spellcasters often do."
Lilia sprinted towards the mansion despite the biting rain that pelted her skin, mixing with her tears. The wind swung
around the leafless trees in the front yard, twisting the boughs with its might. The dying, neglected grass crumpled
beneath her feet like graveyard soil. Appropriate, seeing as the tall gray house looked like a giant tombstone looming
on the hill. The shutters creaked. The windows were black and listless, declaring to all a haunted abode, and empty
Lilia's long black dress was hindering her up-hill progress greatly. The silk was all mud-splattered from the
storm, and clung to her legs. She had already ditched her high heels, holding them in one hand as her mascara left black
tear-stains on her face. She never liked these things. She hated dresses, and makeup, and high heels. It was hiding--it
was cowardly. Lady Catherine, oh no, she would not have wanted her to hide this way. Lady Catherine always took Lilia's
side when it came to 'making one's self pretty' as her mother always said.
"Lilia, darling, you are always pretty," the stern old woman had said one time, the words now echoing in
Lilia's ear so long since. "Why in the world would you ruin that with those horrible means? That's for ugly girls."
Lilia had laughed then. Lady Catherine had a special way of phrasing things. It made all the world seem both a
simpler and stranger place at the same time. It made Lady Catherine and invaluable friend and neighbor. It made Lilia
the seventeen-year-old girl she was today, spunking and not about to back down to anyone. Yet still kind. Lady Catherine
had always been kind--surely she taught Lilia how to be the same, so she could be just as loved and admired?
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
The poem flitted through her head. Lady Catherine had always had a love of poetry, especially Emily Dickinson. She had
often schooled the younger person on the different poems, showing their brilliants in full light.
But that was back.
Back before Death stopped that carriage and took Lady Catherine for a ride, leaving her young friend all alone
without so much more than a good bye and a weak parting smile. It wasn't fair! The woman had been there ever
since she was a small girl, playing in the garden which had, in just the short time until her funeral, fallen into
disrepair. The house, so long inviting looked cold and ominous. Lilia, so often happy, was blanketed in sorrow.
We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.
Filled with sudden anger now, Lilia practically leaped up the hill. She unlocked the door with her own personal key, and
ran into the wood-paneled halls. They still smelled of lavender, a flower Lady Catherine had loved all her life, though
Lilia couldn't stand, thought it reeked of death and loss. In a way, it now did. Lilia collapsed to the floor, sobbing.
Wet footprints stained the carpet where she had tread, and her hair leaked uncomfortably down her back, but she didn't
care. You tend to ignore such things, in light of such a disaster. So she cried, on and on and on, running out her
We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.
After what seemed a long time of wallowing in sorrows, Lilia's unhappy--well, it couldn't really be called peace, could
it?--turmoil was interrupted by a quiet cough. More a clearing of a throat. She jumped as she saw the shadow stretching
down the hall from the open door, and realized she wasn't alone after all. How long had she been sitting there, crying,
under the intruder's gaze?
"Miss Lilia Canther? If I could intrude for a moment, I'd like to have a word with you. It is about Mrs. Harlson's
Lilia's head snapped up. She gazed blankly at the intruder in the doorway, equal parts embarrassed and angry. In
the doorway, silhouetted in the cool light that seeped in with the storm, was a boy around her age. In fact, he looked
scarcely seventeen, with shaggy brown hair, hazel eyes, and a nervous manner about him. He was dressed formally, in a
black suit that showed a white shirt underneath and--Lilia realized belatedly--had tails. He was very tall and not very
big. He was handsome in a classical, yet also enchanting way. His own countenance displayed discomfort and sadness that
"You have Lady Catherine's will?" Lilia asked dubiously. "You don't look old enough to be her lawyer." Far from it
really. Though the formality of address and dress was very odd in a teenager.
The boy smiled wryly, but only for a moment. Then it quickly fell away from his somber face. "No, hardly that." He
collapsed next to her with a sudden exhale of breath. "My name is Daniel. I manage the Lady Catherine's affairs.
Including--" he broke off to rummage in a black briefcase she had failed to see before. "her last will and testament.
Now if you'll look here, you'll see what I'm taqlking about."
Lilia silently took the proffered paper. She