Story: Oasis

As usual, earlier instalments under the writing tab!

Oasis
By Liberty Gilmore, 24/12/12

Adam and Ava learn of a prophecy.

Ava woke the next morning to a pounding headache. Her eyes burned when she opened them, and her mouth felt desert dry. Memories of the night before were hazy in her mind, and though she quickly got the impression there were things about it she’d probably rather not remember, she kept straining her thoughts until snippets and glimpses started coming through.

When they did, she buried her head in her pillow and prayed for sleep to drown her for a little while longer at least.

The next time she woke, a glass of water was on the bedside cabinet. The cool liquid soothed her throat and eased the pain of her headache, but wakefulness only served to help more memories slot into place. Ava cringed with each revelation.

‘Hey,’ Adam’s voice was soft from the doorway. ‘How you feeling?’

‘I’ve been better,’ she said, her voice croaky.

He came to sit beside her, Ava giving in to the pain of her headache so she could pinch her eyes shut and not look at him.

‘Can I get you anything?’ he said, soothing her back with a warm hand.

‘The head of whoever decided to drug me last night?’

‘Um, I was thinking more along the lines of another drink, some food?’

There was a gentle touch of humour in his tone, and Ava risked opening her eyes to look at him. ‘Adam, I’m sorry for…’

He placed a finger over her lips before she could get any further. ‘It’s fine, you weren’t yourself.’

‘No. Definitely not.’ Ava paused, realising how that sounded. ‘I mean, not that I wouldn’t want to, you know…’

Adam flushed bright red. ‘No, I know.’

‘Just not…’

‘Not yet, obviously.’

‘Yeah, no rush.’

‘No, none at all.’

‘Right.’

‘Right.’

They stared at each other a moment, awkwardness like a lead weight on their shoulders. A knock on the door made them both jump.

‘Will you go answer that?’ Ava said. ‘Give me a minute just to straighten myself out.’

Adam nodded and left the room. Ava headed for the bathroom, trying not to look in the direction of the hot spring bath as she splashed her face with cold water and ran her fingers through her hair. Her skin, usually pale blue in the spirit dimension, looked washed out and grey in the mirror, though the shock of cold water did bring a little vitality back. Pulling a dressing gown around the thin dress she was still wearing from last night, she stepped out into the living room where Adam was chatting with Percy, the Changeling.

Ava felt her shoulders tense at the sight of her, ridiculous, she knew, but she couldn’t help the primal reaction. Percy had done nothing, and if she’d intended to, it was only her nature. Ava couldn’t really justify holding a grudge about it. But she did.

The thought of Adam with anyone else just…

‘Hello, Ava,’ Percy said, and Ava knew the slight wobble in her voice was because she knew exactly how Ava felt about her. ‘How are you this morning?’

‘Funny you should ask,’ Ava said, unable to keep the harshness out of her voice.

‘I’ve brought you your things,’ Percy said, her voice falsely bright and cheerful, her face serious, glancing down at the bags, ‘Can’t stop and talk – things to do. I’m sure I’ll see you round though.’

‘Wait,’ Ava started, but Adam put a hand up to stop her walking out after Percy.

From somewhere within the house, Faolan emerged, sniffing the bags Percy had left on their doorstep. Adam looked down at them.

‘That was a bit weird,’ he said. ‘Even for her.’

He moved forwards, crouching beside Faolan. Ava stepped round him to close the door as he rifled through their things.

‘Everything’s still here, untouched,’ Adam said, pulling out a slip of paper. ‘Except for this.’

Ava put a finger to her lips and held out a hand for the note.

Adam and Ava,

You need to understand why Clotilda agreed to take you in. Please meet me at the Oasis outside of the village. We should be able to talk there without being overheard.

Yours in friendship,

Percy

Ava handed the note to Adam, who read it through, nodded, then handed it back to Ava, who screwed it up, then threw it into the smouldering remains of the fire. Even Faolan watched until it was nothing more than ash.

‘Are we…’ Adam began.

Ava nodded, cutting him off. ‘Do you want breakfast? I think there’s enough food in our bags to eat safely.’

~.~

Once on their way outside of town, Ava nodded to Faolan, who bounded off, running around them in circles, yipping occasionally. Ava trusted her Totem and his verdict that it was safe to talk.

‘You know when I said I was worried there would be a price for Clotilda helping us?’

‘Yeah.’

‘I think she wants something. From us.’

‘What, like…’

‘I don’t know what, or why. Maybe she thinks she can control me through you somehow.’

‘So you think she deliberately gave you some sort of drug to make you…’ Adam tailed off, finishing his thought with a wave of his hand.

‘I wouldn’t put it past her. I just don’t really understand what she was hoping to achieve.’

‘I know,’ Percy said, her voice quiet, Faolan sat by her heels panting, looking entirely pleased with himself.

Ava looked round at their location. They’d arrived at the Oasis. Not named so because it was in the centre of some arid desert, but just for the exceptional beauty of the place. It was a small pond, surrounded by trees and draping greenery. Pond flowers bloomed at almost every part of the surface, and a small waterfall through a rocky edge fed the pond from an idyllic stream.

Percy waved them over to the water’s edge, where the bubbling of the waterfall would disguise their voices.

‘I’m sorry,’ she started with, which didn’t warm Ava to her any.

‘For what?’

Adam’s hand went over her own in response to the sharp tone of her voice.

‘For dosing you last night. Clotilda made me. She wanted me to get both of you, but I couldn’t do it to Adam. I knew it wouldn’t work.’

‘Why would she want you to do that?’ Adam cut Ava off, squeezing her hand sharply as Faolan growled and she made a move to stand.

Percy looked ashamed, and spoke to the floor when she did speak. Ava relaxed back and let her.

‘There’s a prophecy in the Summer Court, that one day Spring, Summer and Autumn will unite to overthrow Winter. The prophecy says that the son of a Winter Fey and a human would lead the united forces. Of course, we all thought that was impossible – what Winter Fey would “sully themselves” with the blood of a Human? But then we saw you two…’ Ava thought she detected a hint of jealousy in Percy’s eyes, but knew it wasn’t for Adam particularly. Percy was a changeling, destined to spend one night with lonely humans all her life, never having someone she could call her own. ‘Clotilda thought she’d try and speed things along a bit. Hence trying to make you two fall into bed with each other last night.’ She looked sheepishly at the floor. ‘I’m glad it didn’t work. I don’t want to be responsible for spoiling things between you two.’

The look on Adam’s face would have made Ava laugh in any other situation, but she was struggling to find anything amusing about this situation.

‘I wish I could tell you to give Clotilda a message from me,’ Ava said, making Percy look up sharply, fear in her eyes, ‘but I know you’d get in trouble for telling us this much.’

Percy nodded. ‘I’m so sorry.’

‘We need some time to think. Do you think anyone can hear what we’re talking about in our house?’

‘Not in the central rooms,’ Percy said.

Which meant the bathroom, Ava realised, trying to resist the blush that she could feel creeping across her face. The whole house was built around the hot spring.

‘Then we need to go have a conversation about what to do next,’ Ava said, standing up, motioning for Adam to follow.

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