Erramun stepped through the door, looked back at her, and looked back into the room. “There is nothing particularly troubling, unless you count the decorating.” He wrinkled his nose. “That, on the other hand, is fairly disturbing.”
Senga stepped in, grateful for the small humour. “I don’t think my Grandmother did anything but renew the Preserve Working on things that her grandmother had chosen. As far as I know, it’s not tied in to any legacy or anything…”
Her grandmother’s grandmother had preferred pink floral chintz and an everything-matches set-up that made the room look something like the inside of a pepto bismal bottle. But everything was still intact: the bed with its pink chintz canopy and excessive decorative pillows, even with the hollow where her grandmother’s dogs had slept at the foot of the bed; the Queen Anne furnishings that had been painted just as pink as everything else, the wide windows with their matching curtains, valances, fringed… things….
Erramun did another set of muttered Workings. “Everything is still intact. Although the mattress is just old. I could change the colors on things pretty easily, and fix the mattress…”
Senga noticed the way he was looking at her and shook herself out of her funk. “Blue… and green. And uh. Less…” She flapped her hands. “Can you do that? I’m going to make sure there aren’t any traps here and, ah, make sure the house recognizes me.”
“The doorway recognized you,” he pointed out.
“Yes, but this is a really old house. It’s, ah. It’s a family superstition, okay?”
“If you want to say hello to the house, I won’t argue with you. Although I do want to take you to England and introduce you to a really old house some day.”
“Neener, neener,” Senga countered with extreme maturity. Before she could do even worse, she stepped into the next room in the suite.
The sitting room was just as pink, but here, there was an air of coziness that seemed at odds with the rest of the suite. There was a fluffy afghan folded on the edge of the divan, and a couple magazines sitting next to the most comfortable chair, an old leather wingback affair.
Senga swallowed. It looked like her grandmother had just walked out for a few minutes.
“This…” She backed out and closed the door. “That one’s going to take some more time. Let’s see. Bathroom.”
The bathroom was almost identical to the one Senga’s old bedroom suite had sported. That was easy. She pulled out the garbage can and mechanically tossed out everything – beauty products, a couple medicines – and what had a fae woman needed with heart medicine? – everything but the silver-backed brush and mirror. Those she – she.
She sat down on the floor and took a few gulping breaths where nobody could see her. Her family – her family was dead.
She had watched some of them die. She hadn’t been there, at least, when her grandmother died.
She had been pretending for years that if she went home, if she just peeked in the rooms, her family would be there. “It was just a joke,” they’d tell her, “an awful joke. Why did you wait so long to come back home?”
Here she was. Back home.
The door opened, bumping into her. “Senga?” Erramun’s rumble of a voice was quiet. “Are you- oh.”
Much to her surprise, he sat down on the floor next to her. “You haven’t been back here since, have you?”
She shook her head mutely. “Someone packed my bags for me. I never even asked who. I never even looked back. I just – I left. If I didn’t look back-”
She trailed off. The last thing she needed was the assassin who happened to belong to her to realize what a dork she was, what an idiot.
“You were young, weren’t you?” He held up his hands. “I don’t mean – I don’t mean that I’m concerned about your age now. It’s just that, if you were still a child, your reaction was the only sensible one. And even if you weren’t, well-”
“I was still a child,” she agreed quietly. “I- I guess I’ve been ignoring this whole thing for a long time. You can say the words, you know? My family is dead. But if you’re not really processing it, it’s still just a thing, a part of a story or something you say to explain what you’re doing.” She jerked one shoulder in a shrug. “And now here I am. My Great-Aunt Mirabella is dead. I have the family house back. I used to dream about this house being mine, really being mine. But not like…” She cleared her throat and looked at him. “I suppose I wasn’t imagining getting it because someone else killed Mirabella.”
Erramun touched the side of his neck. She really, really had to take the time to put a collar on him, before anyone but her crew – and, shit, her cousin – saw him.
“I never imagined being in this position,” he admitted, although something was off about the way he looked. “But sometimes I wondered what would happen if Mirabella miraculously became the sort of person I could respect.”
He didn’t say anything else. Senga looked at him, studying the silence hanging in the air between them.