Bonus – What you Value Most, Part III

Disclaimer: Godawful. The worst rating that I can give in ToC. Be warned.

This chapter is a mess. To provide some clarity for those who need it:
Text lines in Italics are a person’s thoughts, as well as the voices in Guinevere’s head.
Text lines in “Quoted Italics” are remembered dialogue from the past.
Text lines in Bold Italics are from supernatural sources.

Time passed.

Despite Guinevere’s efforts, that second voice in her head never left. It stayed with her. It had become a permanent presence – and whenever something happened that affected her emotions, Guinevere could hear it echo in the back of her mind. Voicing what the young girl was trying her hardest to ignore. Dragging to the surface what she was attempting to bury.

It wouldn’t leave. No matter what she did.

In the end, Guinevere had to accept it. That voice, too, was there to stay.
And it wasn’t the only one.

Because the more pressure was placed on her, and the more Guinevere felt forced to hide, the more voices entered her mind. The more fractured her head became. Guinevere did not have the wisdom to realise what was happening. And she couldn’t stop it. The young girl simply didn’t know how to.

One voice turned into two.
Then four.
Then six.

The combined chaos of it all slowly became overwhelming. At first, Guinevere was desperate to drown them out. She tried all kinds of things to make them quiet down. The young girl would sing. She’d whistle. She’d drown herself in chores or lose herself in daydreams, conjuring up entire worlds just to escape the turmoil in her head.

But as time passed, and as Guinevere got better at ignoring the chaos, the young girl slowly came to a realisation.

They weren’t all bad.

In a way… the voices in her head helped.

Because as long as they were talking to her, she couldn’t feel them. Guinevere could ignore the painful emotions that those voices had originated from. The young girl could pretend that her feelings didn’t exist.

She could pretend that those voices were not a part of her.

That they were something else.

Something mystical.

Something shifted in her mind. Something big. It was as if an unidentified puzzle piece had finally clicked into place, transforming the image before her into an entirely different scenery.

Her perception changed almost overnight. Guinevere began to see the voices in her head as something entirely separate from herself, viewing them as outside influences. As something alive. As tricky creatures to appease and be wary of, just like the Fair Folk that the bards told of in their stories.

As beings of magick that watched from afar.

Is that truly what you wish, child?

Very well.

She wasn’t sure at what point her game of play-pretend became truth.

But didn’t matter. Nothing else mattered. The only important thing was that it worked – Guinevere just had to keep them calm, and leave offerings, and control the chaos that simmered in her head. She just had to control her emotions. As long as she did that, Guinevere would be fine.

And it worked.



Until the day that it didn’t.

“Guinevere, how do I look?”

Guinevere looked up in confusion as her father turned and twisted in place, thoughtfully examining his reflection in the bedroom mirror. He’d thrown his usual clothes on the bed and changed into an outfit that she’d never seen before. Guinevere blinked. As her father carefully brushed back his hair, she could hear the voices commenting on the scene in front of them.

Is this a trick question? Will he take her to the park if she tells him he looks good?
Look! There’s spikes on the belt! Touch them! Touch them!
Tell him he looks stupid. It’s stupid!

Who cares how he looks? Just play with her, just hug Michael, just once, he hasn’t touched him in-

“H-how you look?” Guinevere mumbled, carefully pushing through the conflicting chorus in her head. Her father nodded, spinning around and holding out his arms.
“Yes. Do you think I look good?”

“…yes?”
That was the right answer. Her father’s mouth spread into a satisfied smile as he stood up a little straighter.
“Perfect.”

Guinevere thought it was a compliment aimed at her. For a moment, she beamed, feeling that warm, fuzzy feeling in the centre of her chest again.

The next second, her father continued talking, and all the warmth instantly evaporated.
“I’ll be home late tonight. I have a date.”
The young girl blinked.
 “A… a date?” she asked, her voice barely audible. Her father nodded to her in response.
“Yes. I’ve mourned Tyronoe for long enough. I am ready to find happiness for myself again.”

Guinevere could feel her limbs grow strangely cold at his words. She didn’t know what to do with this information. It was the last thing that she’d expected to hear. The young girl opened her mouth, then closed it again, not knowing what to say. She struggled with herself as, on the inside, a surge of thoughts and emotions coursed through her.

The snow isn’t even gone yet! He hasn’t mourned for long!
He’s finding a new mum. We don’t want a new mum, we want the old one, tell him no, tell him to stop-
If she died, would he just move on too? Would he find a new daughter? A better daughter?
Stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it-

“There are leftovers in the pantry for tonight,” her father spoke, cutting through the whirlwind of voices in her head. “I won’t be back until after dinner. You’d really help me out if you looked after Michael until then. You’ll manage by yourself, right?”

He needed her.

Guinevere forced a smile onto her face as she looking up at her father.
“Okay. Will you play with Michael after?”

“…Maybe.”

He didn’t say anything else.

Guinevere quietly watched him exit the bedroom. As her father left, she could feel a strange sense of anxiety rise up from the pit of her stomach. The young girl didn’t understand why. She couldn’t explain it. Not even to herself. But something about their conversation worried her more than she had felt in a while.

It took Guinevere almost a full minute to finally realise what it was.

Fear.
Guinevere was afraid.

Her father’s words had scared her. She was afraid of being left behind.

Guinevere had listened to countless love ballads in Scarborough. They always ended the same way. They always ended with the couple together, sometimes loving each other even after they passed away. Guinevere had thought that it worked that way for everyone. She thought that her father had loved her mother, that he’d stay loyal to her memory, that he’d mourn Tyronoe for a very long time – but the snow hadn’t even melted, and yet he was already moving on. Moving away from her mother without looking back.

Moving away from Guinevere.
Why was he moving away from her?

She thought that it would just be the three of them. That they wouldn’t need anyone else. Her father had told her that when they moved here – he’d told her over and over again how much he needed her. Guinevere thought that he relied on her, that she was helping him, that he didn’t need anyone else. She already did everything he asked of her.

So why did he still want someone else? Was her help not enough? Was she not enough? Was she—

If she’s not enough, will he replace her too? Would he throw her away like stale leftovers? He must think Michael isn’t enough – he never touches him, never plays with him, ever-
Never even looks at him! Stupid, stupid!
Will he think like that that about her too? Is that it? Does he think she’s not good enough?

Guinevere didn’t understand. She’d already done everything. Everything he asked.
Why was it not enough?

Why?

Why?

Why?

“It’s not like that, sweetheart. I love you all equally. But you and your brother are very independent. You’re a mature girl. You don’t need a lot of guidance. You’ll be all right by yourself.”

“Her sons aren’t dependable like you are. They haven’t had a decent father figure for most of their lives. They need a firm hand so they’ll grow up right, and so they’ll respect their mother in the way she deserves. I need to be there for them. For her. Do you understand?”

I do.
I don’t.



We hate it.

Guinevere did understand. They needed him. Her own feelings could wait. She didn’t have to be fine with it- Guinevere could simply pretend that she was, that she didn’t mind, until she believed it herself.
That Summer, Guinevere tried doing just that. She really tried. But the young girl had not yet learned a valuable lesson when it came to burying your feelings.

We hate it.

As was true for all things that were buried… at some point, they would fester.
They would rot.

We hate it.

We hate them.

We hate all of them.

All of them.

All of them.

We hate them so much.

“She’s my soulmate, Guinevere. I’ve never felt this way about any woman before.”

Then what was her mum? Was she nothing?!
We don’t want to hear it! Stop talking, stop talking, stop talking-
We hate it we hate it we hate it we HATE IT-

“I don’t like her.”

“You don’t know her. She’s had a hard life, sweetheart. I love her, and she needs my support. Guinevere… I intend to marry her. And you being this hostile towards her won’t make the future any easier for either of you.”

“Just try to get along with her, all right? For me. I really need you to be good. I can count on you, can’t I?”

Trick. It’s a trick. He’ll abandon her if she says no.
What if he stops coming home? Stops coming back?
Why does he still ask? Doesn’t he know? She’s always helping. We always help.

We don’t understand.

She did everything. Everything he asked. Why isn’t that enough?
Why isn’t that ever enough?

Why won’t he look at Michael? Why won’t he play with him? That kid isn’t even his-
Doesn’t belong! Stealing attention away like a little leech of a human, like a parasite-

Child, the toddler is not at fault.

He is! He shouldn’t be here! None of them should be here! They’re what’s keeping dad away, they’re what’s wrong, they’re what’s bad

We wish they were not here-
That they’re all gone! That they never existed!
Don’t replace us. They’re replacing us. They shouldn’t be here. We want them gone, we wish that they’d vanish, that they’d disappear, that-

That they were dead?

Is that really what you wish, child?

“Whatever you wish onto someone else will be returned to you threefold, Guinevere. Always. Both the good, and the bad. I need you to remember that. You are here on this world to do good, not to harm others. Do you understand? Remember to be good.”

Be good.

Be good.

Be good.

Guinevere had retreated to the safety of her bedroom, shutting the door to keep out the noise from downstairs. She was tired. She hadn’t felt like talking to anybody all day. She didn’t want to sit next to them at dinner and pretend that everything was fine. She didn’t want to be talked over and ignored. She didn’t want to get berated for taking anything before her sons did. Guinevere didn’t want to do any of it.

She just wanted to be alone. 

She didn’t get to stay that way for long.

Guinevere’s gaze was yanked towards the door by a sudden, high-pitched scream that was abruptly cut off. There was a moment of silence. Then, Guinevere could hear the sound of her brother crying.

It wasn’t his normal cry. Guinevere had known Michael long enough that she was able to be able to tell the difference. She knew when her brother was sad, and when he was simply feeling tired. She could tell when Michael was crying for attention, when he was having a teary-eyed temper tantrum and when he was using his cries to get something he wanted.

This cry was different. What Guinevere heard was a wild, desperate, high-pitched shriek that made all the blood in her veins run cold. It sounded wrong. The girl could feel her heart begin to hammer in her chest as a surge of adrenaline shot through her body. On instinct, Guinevere scrambled to her feet. Her chin almost hit the bed opposite of her as her legs began to sprint towards the door—

At the same moment that it opened from the other side. It took a moment for the scene in front of her to sink in. When it did, Guinevere could hear her own breath get stuck in her throat.

“Michael?!”

The toddler whimpered, staggering towards her on unsteady feet. His cheeks were stained with tears; his face drained of all colour as he awkwardly held up his arm. Guinevere could feel the blood drain from her own face as she saw his thumb, purple and bent outwards at an odd angle.

She was next to him in an instant. Guinevere placed a hand on his head, looking down on his hand in shock as Michael sank through his knees and crawled into her lap, crying.
“What happened?! Who did that?!”

But her brother couldn’t answer. The toddler whimpered and buried his head in her chest, his body shaking violently with every breath he took. Guinevere didn’t know what to do. Panicked, the young girl looked towards the door, expecting her father to come running. But no figure appeared in the doorway. She knew he was downstairs, she knew he must have seen Michael scale the staircase-

The staircase.
He’d scaled the staircase with a broken thumb.

Her brother had chosen to scale two sets of stairs instead of going to her father for comfort. He’d turned to Guinevere instead.

At three years old, Michael had already accepted what Guinevere could not.

“I’m not sure if it’s even my child, you know?”

Guinevere could feel a wave of nausea overcome her. She pushed it down, forcing herself to focus on the boy in front of her instead. His screams had turned into pained hiccups. Michael whimpered, heaving between sobs as he tried to talk.
“T-Tommas- pway- huwt-”

He didn’t say anything else. But Guinevere understood, anyway. It wasn’t the first time that the two of them had played too rough with Michael. But it had never gotten this bad. Guinevere didn’t know how to set broken bones. She didn’t even know how to check if his thumb really was broken. Her mother had never gotten around to teaching her back in Scarborough. Guinevere grabbed hold of Michael’s arm, immediately causing her brother to scream out in pain. She quickly let go, panicking.
“I’m sorry- I’m s-sorry, I-”

Guinevere wrapped her arms around her brother, desperate to soothe him. She didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t think, her mind filled with chaos as a dozen voices all cried out at once.

Doctor! Doctor! Now!
There is no doctor! Where’s her father?! Why isn’t he here?!  He climbed two sets of stairs! Wat if he’d fallen down, what if he’d slipped-
Wrap it in a sheet! Wrap it!
No! A splint! He needs a splint! Don’t listen to them!
We don’t want this, we don’t want this, make it go away, make it go AWAY-

The young girl didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know which answer was the right one. Guinevere panicked, her eyes filling with tears as she looked back at the doorway-

At the same time that someone finally stepped through.

It wasn’t her father.

It was her.

She could feel Michael crawl even closer against her in response, whimpering. But even her presence was better than nothing. Guinevere promptly forgot all her feelings of anger. The girl’s gaze clung to the person in front of her like a drowning man clung to a piece of driftwood.
“I-I think his thumb is b-broken,” Guinevere stammered, desperately trying to stay on top of the chaos in her head. “He needs a-a doctor, please, quick-”
“What did he say?”
“S-say?” Guinevere replied, confused. “That he w-was playing with Thomas a-and that he hurt him-“
“I see. He does not need a doctor, Guinevere.”
“He d-doesn’t?”

“No. He’ll be fine. What he needs to do is apologise.”

“…w…what?”

“I was watching from the other side of the room,” she sneered, her voice cold and hostile. “My son doesn’t hurt people. He is a gentle boy. Thomas wasn’t anywhere near his hand – I saw what really happened. Michael did that to himself and then tried to blame my son for it.”

Guinevere opened her mouth, then closed it again. That couldn’t be right. She had to have misunderstood.
“But- but he’s hurt, he-”

“Is lying,” she snarled, finishing Guinevere’s sentence for her. “And he should know better. I will not have lies spread about my family. Do you hear me? He owes my son an apology.”

Guinevere could feel her limbs begin to tremble. She didn’t understand. She had to make her understand- she had to make her see. She had to help. The girl rose to her feet, grabbing hold of Michael’s arm and making him scream out in pain for a second time as she held up his thumb for her to see.
“He’s not lying- just look, just look at it—“

She did. Guinevere watched as her eyes trailed down to her brother’s purple, throbbing hand, trailed over the oddly bent bone… and showed no change.

“He looks fine to me.”

Ah.

Something snapped. 

Guinevere could feel a wave of rage wash over her. It spread through her, seeping in from all directions until it had reached every bone in her body. Her hands reflexively balled into fists. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t think. All she could see was the woman in front of her, all she could hear were her brother’s cries. Everything else fell away. Guinevere was overcome by the overwhelming, all-consuming desire to hurt her, to harm her, to grab something sharp and drive it through her chest—

“Well? I’m waiting.”

Guinevere had never felt such a strong hatred before in her life. The raw anger drowned out everything else, making her blind to her surroundings. Her heart was hammering in her chest, sending waves of red energy to her clenched fists. She couldn’t hear the voices anymore. She couldn’t hear anything but her own blood pulsing in her veins. All she could see was red.

The urge was overwhelming. Guinevere wanted to hurt her, to claw at her skin, to break something, to-

To…

To kill?

Why do you hesitate, child?

Is that not what you wish?

After her father took Michael to the clinic, Guinevere had fled to the nearest alley.  

She couldn’t face anyone. She just couldn’t.

“Remember to be good.”

She’d almost done it. She’d almost done it without a second thought.

It scared her. That kind of anger – that kind of rage – terrified Guinevere beyond belief. She never wanted to feel like that again. She didn’t want that anger. The girl didn’t want to have anything to do with it.

She wanted it gone.

You wish for me to take your anger?

A small, barely visible line of smoke trailed up from the flame, dissipating against the heavy stone ceiling. The girl let out a soft, exhausted sigh.
“I don’t want it. Can you? Please?”

…I can. If that is truly what you wish. But child-

“Then do it. Take it away, mum. Please.”

Guinevere watched as the flames on top of the torch began to shift. She could see them leaking out from their socket, falling down and dropping onto the stone floor below. And their movement didn’t stop there. She could feel the warmth as the creature slowly approached, its presence defying all laws of nature.

The girl didn’t question it. She didn’t have the energy. Against all better judgment, Guinevere stretched her hands out towards the flames. She couldn’t help herself. Their presence was almost magnetic.
“Can you help me?”

I can. But anger is a core emotion, child. It feeds far more than mere hatred. It fuels resistance, self-worth, survival, control… you will not do well without it. Living without anger will hurt you. If you are not careful, it will break you beyond repair.

“I don’t care,” the girl mumbled. “I want it gone. I don’t need it. Take it away. Please.”

If she’d been in her right state of mind, Guinevere might have thought twice before uttering those words to the Fae.

Very well.

But Guinevere was not in her right state of mind.
She had not been for a long time.

You do not understand what you ask… but I will do as you wish.

The flames around her brightened, spreading out onto to the stones around her. Guinevere could feel a strange, buzzing warmth. The girl could feel something reach for her.

But I take this freely, child. And I will not take it permanently.

Because sooner or later, this will break you.

And I will not allow it.

I will not allow my children to break.

If you reach that point, I will call you home…

And give it back.

5 thoughts on “Bonus – What you Value Most, Part III

  1. Those disclaimers are too accurate.

    Been trying to stay neutral for this fae but i think this is it. That is one time too many and too severe that it has meddled with Guin’s life and made situations worse than before. Big words saying they won’t allow their children to break and yet have no qualms delivering fatal blows. 🙄 Splintering her mind and taking away her passion and calling her their own in the same breath? She’s Mother Gothel’s twin sibling. 😒

    I know you’ve explained fae to me before but lol so much unhealthy enabling brings out my ranty side. Moral of this chapter, never bring your child to daycare run by Fae, folks! 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mother Gothel’s twin sibling, huh? Staying neutral is very difficult when it comes to Fae. They do seem to be rather contradictive in their words and actions, don’t they? Either way, Guinevere is the one that’s had to deal with the consequences. Oh my gods, I’m trying to imagine a daycare and I just. Dear lord. 😅

      Like

    1. There’s very few people in ToC who do not have an ulterior motive. Is it trying to break her? Is it trying to keep her from breaking? An argument could be made for either side, but which is the truth?
      Heh, I will forward your angry message to the character via DragonEx. Please allow for 1-2 days of delivery time! ***DragonEx is not responsible for any unfortunate premature burnings of messages. ***

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thing is, sometimes ignoring things can do more damage than trying to confront them, but 1) easier said than done and 2) of course Gwen is too young to even know that’s a possibility. And also I think hypercontrolling emotions to the point of nothingness is also more dangerous than it seems at the time, but once again a kid won’t know that. They will just do whatever they can to make the bad stuff go away.

    Whether it’s parental death or a relationship breakdown, how badly it affects kids when a parent is gone, it must hurt so much. Not fully understanding it, and always wanting the old comfort back. Ah yes, I know this from my witchy research in that supposedly what you do will be returned to you three times as bad. My heart broke when Michael went to Gwen with a broken thumb, and ugh that woman…Maybe have more empathy for a hurt toddler instead of standging there demanding

    I agree with Ifri, unbelievably, in that anger isn’t a wholly bad emotion; it’s what you do with anger that matters. Without anger, you won’t know your self worth and you won’t know when you’re getting shoved around. You basically just become prey. Even without making a deal with the Fae, Gwen’s a girl, she’s gonna grow up expected to never be angry about anything anyway. Can’t win. Didn’t expect Ifri to say she wouldn’t allow it to break Gwen, but then I know in some lore the Fae love children so maybe that’s why. So is that what the present-day red eyes are? Gwen’s anger returning to her? Yup looks like I’m spot on. I’m not even scared TBH, sometimes the quiet girl has to bite back.

    Like

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