It's been forever and a day since I've posted on fictionpress; but as it is my last night in Wales, I thought I might as well put up some of the stuff I've written while here. This was thought up when some of the people in my study abroad group went swimming on the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway in Ireland.
There were four young people playing in the clear water of the inlet. A fifth sat on a large rock, a sketchbook in her lap. It was summer on the isle of Inishmore, and the Atlantic was in a playful mood.
The girl still on shore grinned and got up as the others waved at her to join them. She shed the capris that she wore over the one piece bathing suit and waded into the sea. The waves curled around her ankles, calves and knees as she slid deeper into the water, cutting through with practiced ease. Very soon, she was treading water with the others, playing the game of jumping up as each wave rolled towards shore.
"Lia, you're not wet enough!" a boisterous, teasing shout and suddenly she was completely submerged. Kicking at the hands that still grasped her ankles, she surged upwards.
"Dammit, Logan!" She spat the seawater out of her mouth and rubbed her eyes while swearing at Logan Cavanaugh, who was now swimming in lazy circles around her. Like a shark circling prey, she thought.
"Lighten up, Lia," He said, grinning, "Live a little."
"I am living and if you want a continued chance at it… Don't ever pull a stunt like that again." She replied sweetly, with a smile like a cat's. Connor, Lia's older brother, knew not to interfere- better Lia's ire directed at Logan and not at him. But his girlfriend, Bailey, did not know better.
"Just go fuck each other and get it out of your systems." Bailey, a freckled redhead with a mouth to make a sailor blush, commented. Logan just rolled his eyes at this crudity, while Lia, a wicked expression on her face, dived. In a moment, Bailey was sputtering and cursing. Lia broke surface, her black hair sleek as the seals that were sunning themselves on rocks about half a mile away, her grey-blue eyes laughing.
"Jesus, McCool. What did you do that for?" Kyle Martin, Bailey's brother, asked. He sounded uncertain if he were insulted or pleased at his sister's dunking.
"To settle things," Lia replied calmly. That was before she felt something large brush past her under the water and she cried out in alarm.
"Look, it's a seal!" Logan grinned as he was inspected by the creature. Connor and then Kyle were to feel the press of a cold nose and a whiskery face. Bailey and Lia (after that first brush of contact) were pointedly ignored. After examining the other young men, the seal returned to Logan.
"You've got yourself a sweetheart, Lo," Lia laughed as the seal played about the amazed young man.
"This isn't normal. Do you think it's dangerous?" Logan asked uncertainly, as the seal butted mischievously at him.
Bailey, aware of and irked by the sea creature's indifference towards her, replied more sharply than usual, "Who cares? Let's get out of the water. My tits are freezing." Kyle and Connor made sounds of assent, and, after a moment, Lia followed them.
"Hey buddy, I'll see you later." Spurred on by some feeling of camaraderie, Logan dared to reach out and pat the seal's head as the others made their way to shore. Then he waded through the water to the beach.
Connor and Bailey were by this time twined around one another like vines. "Bet her tits aren't cold now," thought Lia contemptuously and shook her head at their very public display. Kyle was looking at Lia rather hopefully, as if he would appreciate the same sort of attention from her. Lia froze him with a look and turned her attention to what was keeping the last of their little group.
Logan stood ankle deep in the surf, looking out to sea. The seal was still in the water, watching him. Lia touched Logan's shoulder and he started.
"She looks so sad out there," He said, so quietly that Lia had to strain to hear him.
"She? How do you know…"
"I know it's a female. Don't ask me how. Do seals always look so sad? Almost human." He sounded quite unlike his usual self. That last comment curled around Lia's brain like smoke: insubstantial yet provocative. Later, she would curse herself for not remembering it.
She physically turned him to face her and put on a bright smile, "Come on, Lo, She'll go back to the others once we've gone." He still looked out towards the seal, uncertainly, so she spoke with the Voice, which would not be denied, "Come with me, Logan," His head snapped back to face her and she continued in her normal voice, "Your skin's gone all icy. Let's go get changed, then we can gorge on fish and chips, have a couple of pints and everything's good." Lia spoke in that patient, reasonable voice that sober people reserve for their drunken companions.
With one last, lingering look at the seal, Logan turned and Lia followed him across the beach, pausing to pick up both his things and her own, before reaching the hostel where they were staying. There, all showered and changed, they joined the other three for supper at the local pub. They drank Guinness and argued chummily over the menu. Logan was quieter than his wont, and Lia noticed, though she said nothing.
"Come on, sis, sing us a song!" Connor, already half-drunk, lifted her up onto an empty table. Cheers came from other of the patrons of the pub; this lot of Americans had fine voices.
"Connor… Oh fine." She ran through her stock of drinking songs and decided on one that had been popular with her sorority.
"Drink a beer, drink a beer,
oh come drink a beer with me!
I don't give a damn 'bout any old man
who won't drink a beer with me.
God damn him!
So grab that old, gold goblet
With your name on it
And we'll all have another round of beer
Cause it's not for knowledge
That we came to college
But to raise hell while we're...
Raise hell while we're…
Raise hell while we're he-e-ere!
After a couple more rounds, Connor and Bailey snuck off to… never mind. Lia fended off the drunken Kyle and curled up in a quiet corner at the hostel, as Bailey entertained Connor in the girls' room. Long after midnight, she had fallen asleep on the creaky sofa when she woke with a start. Something was wrong… very wrong.
Lia had dreamed that she'd heard a mermaid singing- some strange, eerie music that set her hair on end and all her senses jangling. She dashed up the stairs to their rooms. Bailey and Connor were still going at it, so they were nominally safe. In the next room, she heard Kyle snoring, but still she knocked and when the younger man opened the door, she asked without preamble, "Where's Logan?" His bed was rumpled as if he'd not slept well. But Logan himself was no where to be seen.
"Damnation," Lia said and flew out of the hostel, pausing only to reach into her pocket and make certain she had her key. She went towards the beach, her eyes searching frantically for the tall young man.
But there was no sign of his tousled blond head. Lia reached the water, but there was barely any light and though she had excellent night vision, there was no indication that Logan had come this way. She thought though, that she heard seals. They sounded like they were laughing.
She did not sleep that night. She waited in the lobby area for Logan to get in, seriously blitzed. He never came. When the others came down, bleary-eyed and hung-over they found her wild with worry. Bailey and Kyle made little of it, but indolent as Connor might be, he knew Lia and that she only bothered to worry when there was good cause.
After seven long days, the other three shared Lia's frantic emotion. The island constable had been alerted and they had all volunteered to go door to door with Logan's picture.
There was one small thatched cottage at the edge of the village- it was Lia's last stop. An ancient, knarled woman answered her knock. "Hello, we're looking for this young man; he's an American university student who has gone missing. We're going…"
"I know very well what is going on, Liadan McCool. I wonder if you do," The woman said in a lilting West Country brogue. The old woman motioned Lia into a cozy, comfortable room where a fire was burning in the hearth.
Lia regarded the old woman with her piercing gaze, "How did you know my name?"
"I'm betting your eyes look like thunderclouds when you're angry; and silver when you're sad. Your mother was right in naming you as she did, Liadan."
"You haven't answered my question. How did you know my name… my full name- Liadan?" Lia leaned forward, her face pale and intense- those eyes the old woman had so noted were the color of blued steel.
"It's easy to believe in the Good Folk here. Under the hills some live; with stars in their eyes and a wild love of life. Under the sea others dwell, and among them are those who take the shape of the beings of the sea- seals in particular. Ah, I've caught your attention with that, haven't I?" The old woman took up a teacup, a curl of steam above it, and sipped at it before continuing, "You didn't happen to come across a single seal? You need to school your face better, girl. And was there singing, Liadan McCool?" The wrinkled face watched the girl, gauging her reaction, then nodded a snow-white head. "I heard them too, seven nights ago. It's a selkie that's stolen your friend away. You know what a selkie is." It was not a question.
Lia knew. She'd known when she heard the mermaid singing in her dreams. She waited a moment, and then asked, "How do we get him back?"
The old woman looked pleased at her casual acceptance of the seemingly impossible. "Well, it's a hard thing to do, you must understand. Terrible hard once one of the faerie have taken your own. Sometimes they'll set 'em free, most times not. Last time I recollect a girl won her lover back… long time ago, it was. In Scotland. There's a song about it, "The Ballade of Tam Lin." But twasn't a selkie she was up against. Twasn't the very sea itself. I must think on it a while." She paused, filling a cup of tea for Lia, adding a dollop of honey, no milk, as Lia always had her tea. Handing it to the surprised young woman, the old lady noticed the tiny hands, much smaller and more delicate than she would have guessed. "You've mighty small hands, Liadan McCool."
Lia clasped those hands together, self-consciously, "Makes it impossible to play the guitar. So I'm the singer in the family."
"Sing, do you? Oh, that's good, very good indeed. Liadan McCool. An unusual name, don't you think? But a great one. D'you know what it means?" The crone leaned forward, black eyes bright.
"Grey Lady. And the surname means I'm a descendent of the great Fionn himself." Lia laughed as if she found the thought very amusing or vaguely distressing.
The old woman stood, no longer stooping, but very tall and straight, "And why are you laughing. True, isn't it? There's the blood of the McCool himself, and the Wise Ones of America running in your veins. Add your faerie blood to the mix and you're a powerful woman, Liadan McCool."
"Faerie blood? That's claiming a lot, even if I am mostly Irish." Lia scoffed. The old woman gripped one of those tiny hands in a surprising grip.
"Is it so hard to believe? You don't know what happened to your mother. She had to leave you, didn't she? You ought to remember, if your brother's don't."
"I was only six. Finn was twelve. She went out one night, all dressed up. She was singing. She never came home."
"Went back to her faerie raft, she did. But she left you, and you've power. Take your young man back from the selkie, Liadan. Take him back and fear no enchantment, for your own may be just as strong." A crafty smile broke over the wrinkled face, "Sing him back to you, as that's how he was stolen away."
Liadan stood, her entire form shaking- this was too much, "You're crazy. I'm leaving now." Night had fallen as she tore out of the little house- towards the beach and the seal colony. The singing, unearthly and painfully beautiful, registered as she stopped with a stitch of pain in her side. Lia looked to where the seals were and her senses seemed to revolt.
Men and women stood of lay amongst the rocks, scattered amongst the seals, naked and gleaming in the moonlight. Near the edge, right at the water, she saw Logan's curly sun-kissed head. Lia shouted his name: he did not turn; it was as if he could not hear her. But the woman sitting next to him did, and she turned a stare of pure venom on Lia. The selkie-woman then leaned towards Logan, who then put his tanned arm about her waist and kissed her. When they broke, Lia saw that his eyes were a seal's eyes, so dark it looked as if there was no light in them. His eyes were no longer human and that was what drove Liadan to twist and head back to the old woman's cottage. Not bothering to knock, she flung open the back door, moonlight framing her and giving her black hair a silvery sheen.
"What must I do?"
"She's angered you, I see."
"Save your observations. I need to know how to get Logan back, now." The last word caused the windows to rattle and a strong westerly breeze to blow in through the open door, whipping Lia's black hair loose from its braid.
"Well, it's clear you've come into your power, Lia. Now shut the door, I hate drafts. We must get to work. You saw them together, out there on the beach?"
"You know I did. His eyes weren't human anymore," The anger suddenly faltered and her own eyes glimmered diamond bright, a single tear plotting a course down her cheek.
"Hush, mavourneen, don't get all teary. Keep a tight hold on the anger- it's cleaner and clearer. Like good liquor. Tears are best when it's all over and you've your man to hold onto. Here, take my hankie," The woman handed Lia a square of linen, which she accepted and wiped her face, "There now, dearie, much better. Now, first things first: you must know what you are and what you are against. A selkie: a faerie of the sea. She snared your Logan with her song, and she keeps him bound to her with a piece of her pelt, which will grow into his own after ten nights. She's had seven nights already, which gives you three. You must sing him back to you. Sing with a voice more heart-breaking than that of the selkie. Sing of home and love lost and all those things which will wake his human heart. He shall come to listen and the selkie shall follow. Go this night and the next two in this grey dress and blue ruana, for I think you must seem of the sky and the moon, for the moon holds sway over the sea."
"I did know that. What next?" Lia replied gravely.
"On the last night, when the moon is at it's half, they will come in human form. Then, with the force of your will, you must compel the selkie to give him up. It shan't be easy, mind. For even then, he might not wish to go. And then you shall have a terrible enemy, the sea herself. The sea-longing shall be strong in him and enchantments may not be enough…"
Lia's face fell, for she herself knew the tug of sea-longing. But she was resolute, "What then would be enough?"
The old woman glanced sadly at her, "That I cannot tell you. You must find that out for yourself. Old Nora can't teach you that." She paused and laid a leathery old hand- blue-veined and spidery fingered, over Lia's heart, "But it is in you, lass. It's all there in you."
Lia nodded, still more than a little shaken. But she put on a brave face, "All right. Okay. The first verse of "Shule Agra", and "Slievenamon", with "Shenandoah"; Logan's always liked "Shenandoah"." She said.
"Good choices all. Songs of love and loss, my girl. Can't go wrong with them. The sadder the better. Here is your dress," she picked up a small folded cotton package and unwrapped the protective broadcloth. A shimmering grey thing was revealed, it's sheen like a rainbow moonstone. Lia stood speechless for a moment.
"It's beautiful," she finally whispered.
"Woven of moonbeams, it is. I've a drop or two of faerie blood myself. And now the ruana." The traditional Irish shawl was blue; with strands of yellow and green- it was impossibly soft. "Go put on the dress. Then I'll show you how the ruana fits," Nora ushered Lia into a small, immaculately kept bedroom, "Hurry now," and she closed the door.
Liadan shed her jean shorts and t-shirt; and upon a moments reflection, her bra and panties as well. She doubted that the Good Folk bothered with Victoria's Secret. Then she slipped the moonbeam dress over her head.
It fit like a dream, emphasizing what assets she had and concealing her flaws. "Like magic." She said softly, and then laughed at herself. Of course it was magic! Lia left off her sandals and loosened her hair from its braid. The fine, silky waves of black hair tumbled over her shoulders and down her back. A quick, half-ashamed glance to the cheval mirror assured her that the dress suited her. It made her look like a faerie woman, golden-skinned with jewel eyes. She stepped out into the parlour, to expose herself to Nora's scrutiny.
"All right then, it suits you. And here is the ruana." Nora wrapped the garment about Lia's shoulders, crossed the right side over the left and fastened it with a silver brooch. "There now, we'll just call up some mist to add a little drama." The old woman whispered a few words Lia did not understand, and as she gently pushed the girl out the door and towards the beach, the mist rolled down from the hills and shrouded the slim figure. As her unshod feet hit the sand, she began to sing:
"There I sat on yonder hill,
Who could blame me cry my fill?
And every tear would turn a mill…
Johnny has gone for a soldier."
Lia had always had a fine voice, and she had benefited from the training she'd received. Now the lyric soprano was transformed- silver and true- sweeter than ever and filled with a terrible longing that surprised her. She repeated the verse; the ones following were not conducive to winning Logan back from the selkie. With the raise of her hand, the mists parted, revealing two wild creatures. Seals they seemed, but Lia knew better. She sang her song once more, her grey-blue eyes boring into the sea-faerie and her captive. Then she turned on her heel and left them watching.
Liadan returned to Nora's cottage and changed from her otherworldly finery. She returned to the hostel, and her brother was lying in wait for her.
"Where've you been? Lia, isn't it enough that Logan is missing that you've got to go wandering off in the middle of the night?" Connor took her by the shoulders and gave her a shake.
She stared him down coldly, "I was out looking for Logan. At least one of us is."
Connor sighed and slipped his hands from her shoulders to grasp hers, "Liadan," he said, making a point of using her full name, "I think Logan is dead. And I don't want you to break your neck looking for him." He said, very gently, sounding more like their elder brother Finn than himself.
"He's not dead. He's out there somewhere."
"God, Lia, don't do this to yourself! I know that the two of you were close, but…" he didn't finish as Lia shook his hands away, temper in her eyes.
"You know nothing." This was said with such vehemence that Connor asked a question that he'd never even put to thought before.
"Were you lovers?"
She didn't bother to answer him, but swept up the stairs like an offended duchess. In her room she brushed her teeth and plaited her hair, then changed into her nightdress, ignoring Bailey's questions. She did not sit up and read or listen to music, as was her nightly ritual, but went straight to bed.
When she finally got to sleep, she dreamed of Logan, standing over her bed, a puzzled expression on his handsome face. He made no sound or movement, but she knew his eyes watched her closely. She stirred and felt a feather light touch brush some loosened hair from her face. She sat up in the bed, but there was no one in the room same the deeply sleeping Bailey. And yet the window was open where it had not been, and the smell of the sea flooded the room.
The next morning dawned cold and rainy. Lia kept to the village, and between pestering the constable and avoiding her brother, she went to see Nora. The old woman and the girl talked away most of the afternoon into the evening.
"After Mama… well, you know, left; our granny took care of us. There's Finn and Connor, and me. Finn's an archaeologist; he fell in love with the thought of being Indiana Jones. Connor… well, you've seen Connor. I'm the only girl. Granny Moon had her hands full with us."
"Granny Moon?" asked Nora.
"A fancy of Finn's. He's always called her Old Lady Moon and Stars. I was too young for such a mouthful, so I got by with calling her Granny Moon. It stuck."
"He's a way with naming things, has young Finn McCool. What does he call you?"
Lia paused, a slight smile on her face, "It's a secret." Finn had given Lia her secret when he'd heard her singing "Kathleen Mavourneen" to please their grandfather; and a line in that song had caught his attention: "Arise in thy beauty, though star of my night…" And so Lia was Star of the Night.
Lia was ready and waiting as the moon rose over the island. On this, the second night, Lia called the mists herself. She sang again, this time "Shenandoah", more clear and mournful than she had sung the night before.
"Oh Shenandoah, I long to hear you
Away, you rolling river
Oh Shenandoah, I long to hear you
Way! I'm bound away
Across the wide Missouri!
Oh Shenandoah, I love your daughter
Away, you rolling river
Twas for her I'd cross the water
Way! I'm bound away
Across the wide Missouri!
Tis fare-thee-well, I'm bound to leave you
Away, you rolling river
Oh Shenandoah, I'll not deceive you
Way! I'm bound away
Across the wide Missouri!
As she released the vapour to drift across the water and dissipate, she saw the selkie in seal-form; Logan close by.
This time anger, hot in her blood, made her call out, "Selkie-woman! Release the human man and no harm will come to you!" As she said this, the female moved towards Lia and bared her teeth. Lia gritted her own and continued, "He is not yours to steal away. Return him to me. Return him!"
A voice like the wind whistling through rocks replied, "He is mine. I caught him, mortal woman, and he shall be my mate. Would you consign him to mortal life and death?"
"You lured him away. He is under an enchantment. He would not choose you if he were not. Think on that. I shall return tomorrow night." Liadan spared the transformed Logan once swift glance and began to walk back. She paused, on the stone steps leading to the quay, to look at the selkie. At that moment, the moon broke through the clouds, its pale light catching Lia's dress.
The selkie hissed, knowing that it was no mere mortal woman she faced, but a child of the faerie, baptized in moonlight. And the moon holds dominion over the sea. Lia went straight to the hostel; all the others had tacitly agreed to let her alone. She folded the dress with care and wrapped it in the ruana before taking a cooling shower. Her face, her skin, her very being felt afire and she knew no way to ease it. She slipped on her thin nightgown and went to bed, leaving the window, with its sea breeze, wide open.
It was the scent of the sea that woke her, and a blue light that had filled the room. Logan stood at the centre of it, naked and beautiful. He did not move, and remained where he was when Lia rubbed her eyes and sat up.
"Logan," there was no sound as her lips formed his name.
"Why do you seek to keep me, mortal woman?" His voice held all the sadness of the world, as if he could not understand her actions.
"I seek only to save you."
"Save me from what? From love? Meara loves me." Ah, so the selkie had a name!
"It is not love when she must enchant you to have you. She saw your handsome face and decided to steal you away!" Liadan's cheeks were stained crimson with emotion, her eyes burning bright.
"And who did she steal me away from, Liadan McCool? Not you. We were never lovers." Those cold words, delivered flatly, hurt Lia. She closed her eyes and drew in a ragged breath. When she opened them, he was there, crouching next to her, very, very close. He put a hand to her face, letting it travel down her neck, resting a moment on her collarbone before moving to settle lightly on her breast.
"But we could be," he was whispering. "This one night, we could be lovers. Meara says if I bed you, you will lose all interest. She hates you, Liadan, and is very afraid, you know. But I don't want her to try and hurt you." He lifted himself to the bed, his face very near hers.
"He means to kiss me," Lia thought, and knew that if he did, she would acquiesce, not caring what happened afterwards.
"One night, then let me go to the sea," he whispered, his lips grazing her ever-so pointed ear, as if he were driven for her consent to the bargain. The fog lifted from Lia's head and she looked into his eyes, the eyes of a seal; not his own turquoise blue ones. He bent his head to kiss her and she turned her cheek, pulling away.
"That is a coward's bargain." She spat, drawing her knees up to cradle her head, beginning to weep in earnest. When her eyes cleared, he was gone, save for the echo of the sea and the lingering warmth his hand had brought. She sat up till dawn pierced the eastern horizon, unaware of the consternation her actions had caused. If she had known, it would have pleased her immensely.
"You have returned earlier than I expected, my Pretty One." The selkie, Meara said as she twined shells in her hair.
"She didn't want me."
"What?" Meara looked up, seal eyes narrowing in her beautiful, inhuman face. Logan appeared very human right now, bewildered and hurt.
"She didn't want me. I- I thought she did, but she pushed me away. She trembled when I touched her and yet still she pushed me away! You said she wanted me." The last was accusing, and more than a little angry.
Meara thought quickly, the human girl was smarter than the selkie had credited her with being. Now she had to be coaxing to her toy, and above all keep him away from the mortal girl. "Of course she does, Beautiful Boy. That is why she denied you. She wants you for to keep. Better if you had just taken her, with or without her consent. Then she would be in your power, and thus in mine."
"That's rape. My God, Meara, how could you suggest such a thing?" His eyes were becoming bluer by the minute and they were very nearly human.
Meara realized her misstep and took pains to correct it. "To keep you, my dearest. To keep you with me always. Anything to stop her." She flung her arms around him, running her webbed fingers through his golden hair. Meara had underestimated her opponent- twice now. She could not afford to a third. Tonight would decide who would be the victor.
Lia stood and greeted the dawn on the eastern cliffs. This was the last day. One way or another, it would be decided. Lia resolved that, should she fail, she would fling herself into the sea after him and pray that whatever magic she had would transform her that she might always be near him.
But the sea would be her last resort only. She knew quite well that she loved him, and that he felt something in return… even through the hazy enchantment, he returned to her nightly. She had found a book of faerie stories in one of the shops, and had made certain of tales of selkies were in it. She spent the morning reading through it. She wandered down to the beach, thinking.
That was where the idea came to her. The easiest way to control a selkie was to steal its pelt. She even knew the selkie's name- Meara- Logan had spoken it the night before. He rarely called her by her full name, and only Finn and Granny Moon knew her secret one.
Watching the waves as the tide rolled out, Lia made her plans. She took snatches of sleep after noon. When dinner time came, she drank only water and took no food. As the sun set, she went to the beach and set up for the night's work. She changed in the hostel and took care to sneak away unnoticed. She left some things at Old Nora's, for just in case.
Back on the beach, she kindled the fire. She would use no mists or tricks tonight. She sang "Slievenamon" tonight, her voice ringing out like the moon pulling the tides.
"Alone, all alone, by the wave-washed strand
All alone in the crowded hall,
The hall it is gay and the waves they are grand
But my heart is not there at all,
It flies far away,
By night and by day
To the times and the joys that are gone
But I never can forget
The sweet maiden I met
In the valley of Slievenamon."
The night was fair and the moon at it's half. As Lia gazed out to the sea, she saw the two figures, human-shaped now. The slimmer of the two came forward out of the water, tossing a bundle down onto the sand. It gleamed faintly in the light of the moon. The figure Lia knew to be that of Logan remained in the water, the surf up to his knees. "She's afraid to let him come onto dry land," Lia thought. The selkie-woman came up to meet Lia, who was standing not far from the fire.
"Think you to claim him for your own, faerie child?" The selkie was shorter and more slender than Lia. She wore no clothes and her skin was milk-white where Lia's was golden, but both had long black hair rippling down their backs. Lia moved a bit, getting between the selkie and the water. The selkie laughed, "The sea holds him. Getting between him and me does you no good, faerie of the land."
Lia looked at the selkie, the fire picking up strands of red in her black hair, gilding her skin and making her eyes look like blue lightning. She raised an eyebrow and smiled, a mean, nasty smile that make the selkie vaguely uneasy, "He has nothing to do with it, selkie-woman. I'm between you and your pelt!" and so saying, she pounded across the sand, swift as light, catching up the seal shape. The selkie, not nearly so fleet on the ground as Lia, tripped and fell as Lia circled back to her fire.
"No!" the sea-faerie cried.
"Release him from your enchantments, or I shall bind you to the land, to human form- forever. All your enchantments, all your beauty would come to dust. I know your name, Meara, and I have your pelt." Lia lifted the sealskin over the fire; the selkie flinched, as if burned. But she could not take her gaze from the cold light burning in the other woman. This woman had a will of iron, for all her faerie blood. She would do all she threatened and more.
"Very well. I release him. I release him!" The selkie caught up the pelt as it was thrown at her, and cradled it as if it were a baby. The she raised her head and said for pure spite, "I release him, but the sea may not." So saying, she fled back to the safety of the water, transforming as she went.
Lia put this adversary from her mind. Now she must do battle with the sea itself. "Logan?" She asked as she waded into the waves, the white foam looked like lace on the hem of the grey dress. He turned to face her. His eyes were no longer those of a seal's, but neither were they human. They were blue, certainly; the blue of the sea, no whites or pupils visible.
"Liadan," He held out his bronzed hands to her. She took them, noting their chill. "Come with me, Liadan. Come with me and know all the wonders of the sea."
"What of the selkie?"
"Meara? She was foolish and sought to hold what was not hers. Come away, Liadan."
She felt a spark of anger, building up like Granny Moon's corn liquor- hot and liquid. She slapped him, hard. His head snapped back and he stumbled a bit.
"I've had enough of this foolishness, Logan Michael Cavanaugh. You come back with me right now. We've all been worried sick over you and you know what happens when I get angry. Are you coming?"
When he raised his head, his eyes were totally human and in them was the expression of a kicked dog. "Lia?" his use of the nickname immediately put her at ease. Logan was back. "What are you doing? What are we doing in the water… at this time of night?" He paused as if noticing something else, "And why am I naked?"
Lia couldn't help it, she just began laughing. She was laughing hysterically, nearly stumbling beside him as they made their way to the shore. Once she managed to catch her breath, she took off the ruana and draped it about his shoulders.
"That'll do for now. You're hungry, I expect. And you'll want some real clothes. Well, warm up, then I'll take you to where we'll get something to eat and into normal clothes, the both of us. I have no idea how I'm going to explain this to everyone, you know."
"Lia?" Logan put his hands on her shoulders, much as he had the night before.
"Yes?" She wasn't sure what he was going to ask, but she'd answer as truthfully as she knew how. For some reason, she knew he'd believe her.
"It wasn't a dream, then, was it?"
"No, Logan. It wasn't a dream."
"Oh, good." And he kissed her. And she let him. After all, every so often, we do get happy endings.