“You—you—you poikilothermic snollygoster!”
He had to admit, it was the most unusual epithet a mortal had ever hurled at him—and at any other time, in any other place, he might even have found the thick Southern drawl that delivered it endearing. The mortal herself was the very opposite of intimidating. She was small of stature and primly clad, with most of her figure swathed beneath the folds of a work apron. A nurse’s cap crowned her dark curls, but could not quite contain them; one or two escaped from beneath it, and along with the dusting of freckles across her cheeks, gave her an entirely earthy, prosaic air. But anger flashed in the brown eyes behind her spectacles, and with a stony bravery most mortals couldn’t bring to bear against him, she held a pistol aimed straight at his heart.
“My dear Miss Hathaway,” he said blandly, holding out his hands to either side, “you wound me to the quick.”
“Not as much as I’m gonna wound you if you raise even the slightest scrap o’ magic. You told me you were a doctor.”
“Healer,” he corrected, only to swallow hard as she drew back the trigger of her gun. Cold iron. She wouldn’t have to strike a fatal hit at this range. Even if she got in a glancing shot, the iron in the bullet would cause him worlds of pain.
“You told me you were human.”
Which was, of course, the entire question.
He’d been ready to have his fun when all his instincts, with near omnipotent precision, had led him to her. Warder’s blood, but not yet committed to the city—and a young and untried mortal like her should have been an easy and delectable morsel. But that had been before he’d tracked her to the hospital where she spent her nights. Before he’d seen the stricken children that were her charges, each one of them fighting against the cancers that threatened to devour them from within.
In four hundred years of life, Merekir had seen much. Yet he wasn’t sure what frightened him more, now—the death in the flesh and bones and blood of the mortal children, or the blaze of determined compassion in Lillian Hathaway’s eyes as she made war upon that death.
Did she know how radiant she was, like the evening star in the gloaming of oncoming night?
Did she know how fierce she looked even now?
Merekir blew out a breath of resignation. It was the height of folly to reveal his true nature to a woman of the Warder lineage, but she’d already fathomed it. More importantly, he found that he couldn’t abide how she glared at him. It was the same glare she turned upon the signs of sickness she fought in her charges. To be equated with cancer in her eyes—as if he were alien, anathema, foul—made something painful constrict within his heart of hearts.
And so he dropped his glamour, letting her see his true face.
“I’m not human, Miss Hathaway,” he said. “But I am a healer. And I want to help.”
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Victory is mine! I used all of my words, though it took a bit to figure out how to use poikilothermic and snollygoster. Those two words together gave me a bit of an idea about the character Lillian Hathaway, as well as the probable time frame in which this fragment is set. Given that snollygoster is an archaic word, this scene is probably somewhere in the 1800s, or early 1900s at the very latest. And Lillian is very bookish and very dedicated to her profession. I’d call her a bluestocking, except that I’m pretty sure I can’t quite throw that term at a young woman from the South.
Merekir is the barest sketch of a character idea here, although I know he’s Unseelie, and a healer, and rather more principled than the average Unseelie mage. He’s probably a very rare bird in the Unseelie Court—if not outright rogue. Luciriel would not, after all, be very pleased to have a healer outside her control. HA. I may need to do something further with this concept. But if I do, Internets, you can say you saw it here in this post first!
And oh yes: the rest of my words were fun, alien, omnipresent, and gloaming. Also, poikilothermic means “cold-blooded”, and a snollygoster is someone who’s deceptive. I figured these would be the sorts of words that the extremely bookish Lillian would actually use as insults.
Hope you liked my scene!
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