William wasn’t sure what to think, at first. Josie was lying on a mossy bed, still as a corpse. She had been washed and dressed in a gown of pink flower petals. Her expression was peaceful, much to his relief. He was tempted to wake her, but remembered that they had been asked not to do so. He didn’t want to do anything that may hinder her healing, so he resisted. He satisfied himself in seeing that she was breathing steadily.
Meredith had to pull him back out of the room. If he’d had his way, William would not have left the child’s side until she awoke.
He looked to Adia when they were outside. “Is there any way I can be there when she wakes up? I know it would comfort her.”
Adia gave him a warm smile and nodded. “I will make sure you are sent for before we wake her up. It should be sometime tomorrow, though, so you should rest. I’m certain she will be more comforted if you are well when next she sees your face.
He nodded, acknowledging the wisdom of her words. The group was led back to their temporary homes, where they were to spend the night. However, William went to Katherine’s treehouse, fairly quickly, and knocked on the door.
She smiled at him as she opened it. “Is everything okay?”
He nodded. “I just wanted to ask you a question about the fairies.”
She let him in and they sat on the soft floor, facing each other. “So, what is this question?”
He paused, not sure how to word it. “When we spoke to the king and queen, you acted differently than you normally do.”
“You mean I treated them as royalty?” she asked, smiling a bit. “I suppose it seemed odd since most people in Mirra treat me as the highest authority.”
William nodded. “Were you just being diplomatic?”
part of any other world. When we came here, we left Mirra. In this realm, Oberon and Titania are the highest authority.”
William stared at her, having trouble grasping the idea. “But how is that possible? We were just in Mirra. We couldn’t have just left.”
She gave him a kind smiled. “A few weeks ago, we were in Dunya, then we walked through a door.”
The comment gave him pause. “Do you mean to say that the fairies opened a portal?” He stared at her. “They can do that?”
She nodded. “When it suits their whims. They send out a unicorn to lead people to the gateway they create and allow them to pass through, but only under the cover of darkness. The fairies themselves glide in and out of any realm they please and ask permission of no one.”
William had trouble processing such ideas. “Couldn’t they have helped us sooner, then?” He thought of all the dangers they had faced and wondered why the fairies had not stepped in before.
“They could have,” Katherine admitted. “They just didn’t care to do so until Josie was in danger. As Titania said, they have a soft spot for children.”
“So, they’re kind of jerks,” he decided with a sigh.
“They do as they please and have little interest in those around them, except for entertainment,” she replied. “However, they do not generally harm people, so I cannot judge them harshly. They wish to be left alone and it is best to respect that.”
William looked at her as another thought occurred to him. “You said some fairies live in the city, though.”
“Very few. As I said, they do what they want. If they wish to live in the city and obey the rules of Mirra for a time, they do so. We do not have any reason to refuse them.”
“I’m not sure I understand them very well.”
She smiled at that. “You’re not meant to understand the ways of the fairies. You simply need to respect them.”
He nodded and yawned, suddenly remembering that he hadn’t slept more than a few hours in the last few days.
“You should get some rest,” Katherine told him. “We are safe, here, for now.”
“Right.” William stood, knowing he wouldn’t be able to stay awake much longer. “Good night, Katherine.”
“Good night, William.”
As he stepped out of her treehouse, he nearly ran into Tristan. William gave a sleepy apology and walked around the elf, heading to his own treehouse and waiting hammock.
Tristan watched him go and stepped into Katherine’s little room. “I’m sorry to intrude, my lady.”
She smiled, brightly, at him. “It’s no intrusion. Have a seat.” She hadn’t bothered to get up after William left.