Cordelia didn’t end up staying over at Grace’s house for much longer. She was far too distracted.
Besides, she didn’t want Dandelion to worry about her. She said her goodbyes and set off for Sylvan Glade.
She couldn’t help but linger by that new house as she made her way back towards the tree passage. Curiosity overcame her. Sure, Morgyn conjured the house for Micah, but they made it for her as well. What was inside?
The sun hadn’t quite set yet, meaning Micah would still be asleep, Cordelia thought. Perhaps she could take a peek before the vampire woke up? See what the sage came up with…
She walked up the rickety stairs and opened the front door.
For a moment, she just stared at the room she’d entered. Cordelia had never lived anywhere this nice. Everything looked so… elegant.
She slowly walked through the living room and into the kitchen.
The countertops were spotless. Naturally, she thought. It wasn’t like Micah was doing any cooking around here, was he? If the house had only been made for him, Morgyn would likely not have bothered for a kitchen.
Cordelia had to see more. See where Morgyn saw her living. She made her way upstairs.
There was a small painting nook by the landing – made sense, she thought. She could picture the vampire there, painting by the moonlight. She wasn’t sure how the idea made her feel.
A few doors lined the hallway. One of these had to be her room. But which? Picking one at random didn’t seem like a wise move, but she decided to go for it anyway.
Wrong room, Cordelia realised as soon as her eyes landed on the white coffin in the alcove. Abort, abort.
But the coffin lid slid open before she got a chance to turn around. Cordelia glanced out of the window, only now realising that it had gotten dark while she was busy snooping around the place.
Her instinct was to dart for the door, but her whole body froze. She watched the vampire rise from his slumber. His eyes opened and stared at her. It took a while for either of them to speak.
He’s not going to hurt you, she tried to reassure herself. If he wanted to do that, he would have already, wasn’t that what she claimed to Grace earlier? And she was not trapped in the room now, she could leave whenever she liked. Except that her body refused to move.
“Cordelia?” He finally spoke, studying her face. He didn’t make any attempts to charge towards her, and his expression wasn’t menacing. If anything, he looked perplexed. Perhaps he found this all as odd as she did, it occurred to her.
Now that she wasn’t a prisoner, Cordelia was also suddenly a lot more aware of the fact he slept in his underwear. She looked away, feeling her cheeks burn.
“I thought you didn’t want to know my name.” She uttered, awkwardly studying her feet. Just don’t stare at him, she told herself.
“I didn’t.” The vampire confirmed. “I didn’t really get a say in it. I didn’t get a say in a lot of things…”
Cordelia couldn’t help but look back at him. “But you did free me from that place. You saved my life. I… I don’t even know what to say. Thank you.”
“You don’t need to thank me.” His voice was cold. “I didn’t really do it for you.”
“Right.” Of course he didn’t. Her thoughts lingered back to her talk with Grace. “Micah… you… you’re not going harm anyone in Glimmerbrook, are you?”
“I’m not intending on killing anyone, if that’s what you’re asking.” He gave her a funny look. “Of course, I would probably say that even if I was.”
She instinctively took a step back, the memories of being trapped in his room flooding back.
“Look, I do need to feed, there’s no way around that,” the vampire told her. His tone didn’t seem threatening though, and he didn’t move closer towards her. “I try to take as little blood as possible. Means I need to drink from a few people each night, but it also means they survive.”
The very thought made Cordelia sick. Judging by his expression, he could probably tell. He sighed.
“I’ll never feed on you, ok? Seeing that we’re housemates now, apparently. I’ve been along you enough now to be able to…” Micah cut himself off, not finishing his sentence. “Anyway, speaking of feeding, I need to head out.” He said uncomfortably. “Your room is just next door to this one, I think.”
“Thanks.” She replied, feeling uneasy. This was dumb, she thought. Why was she even here? But she couldn’t help but feel curious about “her” room.
She left his room, making her way through the hallway. Clearly, this room was the one she was supposed to open all along.
She looked around. The room was very pretty. Soft. A faint smell of cinnamon lingered in the air.
A large painting decorated the wall across from the bed. It was beautiful, but rather peculiar.
Cordelia’s head was spinning. This was her room, but it wasn’t. Nothing in here was hers. It was all foreign. She had to get out.
She ran into Micah on the landing. At least he got himself dressed in the meantime.
“Did you make that painting in my room?” She asked him.
The vampire shook his head. “I didn’t even know there was a painting in your room. Haven’t been in. With it being your room and all.”
Was that supposed to be a dig at her intruding on his privacy earlier? It wasn’t as if she’d done that on purpose. And besides, with what they’d been through together, what privacy was there really to speak of?
As if any of it mattered, Cordelia thought to herself, turning to the stairs. She should just get out of there…
“Whatever’s in your room is all Morgyn.” Micah added.
All Morgyn. The room was exactly how Morgyn saw her, it dawned on Cordelia. Soft, pretty, peculiar. That’s all the sage thought she was. A weird, soft girl. Weak. Someone that needed saving. An irrational anger crept up on her.
And past conversations started to flood in. All the warnings everyone had given her about Morgyn. Tomax, just earlier today. Grace, long before that. Heck, even L Faba warned her in her own twisted evil way.
And perhaps so did Morgyn themselves. She thought back at their visit to the Humour and Hijinks festival. At the night at Von Haunt Estate…
I’ve found something in the maze. Someone. We should return to Glimmerbrook. I’m not sure if you’re safe here.
“It was you.” Cordelia turned around, looking at Micah as if she was seeing him for the first time. “At the Von Haunt Estate. It was you at the bar in that ballroom.”
Micah’s face was hard to read, but he did not object. “Yes. I thought you knew that.”
“It was you Morgyn found in the maze.” She continued.
“Yes.” He nodded once more, not really elaborating this time. He looked at her expectantly, clearly realising she had more to say.
“It was you who Morgyn went after to Forgotten Hollow.” Her voice grew so quiet she could barely hear herself. But she could tell Micah could still make out her words. The vampire did seem to have better hearing than she did, after all. “The new romantic interest. I’m so stupid. I… I’ve gotta go.”
Micah didn’t try to stop her. Not that he had a reason to, Cordelia reminded herself. He had probably been waiting for her to get out of his hair. So that he could go see Morgyn, or go suck someone’s blood, or both.
Of course the vampire she had been trapped with, the vampire that saved her, was the person Morgyn was pursuing. Or rather, given that Micah was living in the house the sage had conjured, the person Morgyn had been successful in pursuing.
Cordelia felt sick. She flew through the house, out onto the front porch. Fresh air. Quiet. She needed it badly.
But she should have known better – it wasn’t as if life often gave her what she hoped for.
“Cordelia! Good to see you.” The sage’s words sounded genuine. She couldn’t stand it.
“But you’re not here to see me, are you?” She said bitterly. “You’re here for Micah.”
“I didn’t get the impression you wanted to see me.” Morgyn replied calmly. “It seemed like you needed space.”
“Please, this is not about me.” That irrational anger she’d felt after seeing “her” room resurfaced. “It’s all about what you want! Which clearly is Micah!”
“It’s not that simple.” Morgyn told her, their voice soft. But their attempt to soothe her would not work on her.
“Oh really? Then please explain so that my simple mind can understand!” Cordelia could feel her voice rising. “You fell for Micah just moments after we had our first kiss, didn’t you? You followed him all the way to Forgotten Hollow. You let him take over my land! And judging by you being here tonight, you two are probably seeing each other, dating, or whatever it is you do with people!” She recalled Tomax’s outburst earlier in the day.
Admittedly, compared to her own, Tomax’s speech had been quite tame.
“Everything you said is true.” Morgyn’s words stunned her. The sage wasn’t even trying to deny it. She felt like she was going to pass out.
“But Cordelia, me seeing Micah doesn’t have to change anything between the two of us.” Morgyn carried on. The words were spoken softly, but each one hurt all the same. “Only if you want it to. Which is fine too, if that is what you wish. Stay in the house. I made it for you as much as much as I made it for him. I just want you to be safe. I want you to-“
“Oh that is rich!” She interrupted them. “It is so like you to tell me things can be as I wish, and then go on to say what you want me to do in the same breath!”
“Do you think I wish for any of this?” She screamed. It all came out, as it always seemed to with Morgyn. “I didn’t want any of it! I didn’t even want to meet you. I… I hate you! I hate what you do to people! I hate what you’ve done to me! I hate…”
But she couldn’t finish the sentence. Hot tears were streaming down her cheeks. And like an idiot, she fell right into Morgyn’s arms.
“I hate… that I can’t… hate you.” She stuttered between sobs.
For a moment, she just allowed herself to breathe Morgyn in. She knew how ridiculous she was being, and that none of this was helping anything.
She was also very aware of the fact she was still wearing the clothes she’d borrowed from Morgyn back in the magic realm. Of course Morgyn felt like they could tell her what to do. Didn’t everything about her just scream that she was theirs? She should really pull herself away.
But Cordelia didn’t want to leave Morgyn’s arms. She wanted to stop time.
The sage pulled her in closer, gently rocking her. Their hand was running through her hair and tucking it behind one of her ears.
“What is it you want Cordelia?” Morgyn whispered. The sound of their voice made her knees weak. “Just tell me what it is. I can conjure anything you ask for. Give you anything you dream of.”
Of course, she knew that wasn’t true. Morgyn could give her everything but the things she actually wanted, it seemed.
Cordelia allowed herself a few more sweet moments, and then she finally forced herself to pull away from them.
“Cordelia…” The sage reached out towards her as she slipped out of their embrace.
“You can give me anything I dream of?” She repeated their words quietly, folding her arms on top of each other to stop herself from clinging onto Morgyn again. “Stop lying to me. You couldn’t even rid me of the sprites.”
The sage’s hand on her arm froze. She managed to make Morgyn speechless yet again. Too bad it was even less of a cause for celebrating this time.
“Just go.” She said, her voice shaking. “Go to your Micah. I hope you two are really happy together.”
It took every bit of her willpower to walk away, when all she wanted to do was to throw herself back into Morgyn’s arms.
On top of everything, it started raining. Not that it mattered. It never rained in Sylvan Glade, after all.
But Cordelia still lingered, instead of doing the sensible thing and rushing to the tree passage. She stopped by the old shed she once called home. It had changed almost beyond recognition, but the shack she once made was still in there somewhere, underneath the fancy magic.
Cordelia peered in through the window as the rain dripped down her coat – well, Morgyn’s coat. How did the sage see fit to redo her old shack? How did they want to mould it to suit them?
Her old woodworking bench was still in there, as was a whole other work bench. Rulers, materials, tools… she even saw supplies to make candles.
It was the ideal spot to get her hands dirty and just make things, there was no denying that. It was all perfect. Of course it was. Why did Morgyn had to do things like that? She could just picture herself in there. But of course, that was the point, wasn’t it? To lure her in with shiny things.
But in spite of how perfect this new and improved shed was, all Cordelia yearned for was to turn back time, back to when it was just the crummy shack she had made, with glassless windows, a rickety sleeping cot, and one obnoxiously large magical fireplace.