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Mortal Kiss: Fool's Silver *EPILOGUE*
Six weeks later
Something was wrong. Faye could feel it; something like a bit of grit in her eye which she couldn’t get rid of. Life in Winter Mill was back to normal, or at least what she’d come to feel was normal – she was still in love with a werewolf, after all – but as the days grew shorter and darker the feeling grew.
They were in love. When she kissed Finn, she could still feel that connection, like they’d always been together and always would be. Now, though, there was something else; something dark and cold behind the warmth.
And there were voices in the night.
Faye woke in her little bedroom above McCarron’s with a start. The waning moon cast a pale half-light into the room, by which she could see the hands on the antique carriage clock in the corner. 1am. The witching hour.
Where had that thought come from?
Ever since Silver Cross she’d sometimes known what her friends were thinking. Finn, Liz, Jimmy, Lucas: the people she’d shared so much strangeness with. Hearing their thoughts was like the distant echo of a voice in a desert canyon – if she focused, she could make sense of them, but not always. This was … different. Scary. Like someone peering over her shoulder, whispering in her ear, and when she turned to catch a glimpse of them they would disappear.
Something was wrong. Something was waiting for her. Calling her.
She got out of bed and pulled on a woollen gown. It felt like winter in Winter Mill again. Stepping into the little hallway outside her room she could see her breath, and feel goosebumps on her arms. That isn't just the cold, she thought. And then: I wish Finn were here.
The whispering was louder now, more insistent. Everything felt like a dream. Faye opened the bathroom door and turned on the light, the single bulb flickering into dim life. And then she saw herself in the mirror.
Yes, said the voice in her head. Come closer.
Faye stepped into the room. The mirror was dull – with frost? – but she could make out her face in the gloom, pale under her dark brown hair. And staring out at her, impossibly, a pair of ice-blue eyes. Eyes that weren't hers.
Her heart beating like a jackhammer, she came right up close to the mirror. Those weren't her eyes. It was impossible. As she stared in horrified fascination, the face in the glass shimmered, rippled, and became the face of another.
The face of Mercy Morrow.
She couldn't look away. The blue stare pinned her, froze her to the spot, as Mercy became solid, real, behind the glass. She wore a long green robe trimmed with gold brocade, like nothing Faye had seen before; something out of ancient history, that spoke of stone circles and barrows in the snow. On her fingers were heavy gold rings set with precious stones, and around her neck hung a gold chain from which dangled a single ruby like a teardrop.
Mercy smiled. Faye couldn't help herself, couldn't stop what she was about to do: she raised her hand and reached out towards the glass. With every ounce of willpower she had, she tried to drag it back, but it was no use. As her right hand came up, Mercy's left did too, the rings glinting.
Faye's fingers touched the glass; on the other side, Mercy's mirrored hers exactly. For a moment that seemed to last forever, they stood gazing into each other's eyes. Faye felt dizzy with terror.
Come to me, Faye, said Mercy's voice in her head.
And her hand came through the mirror to seize Faye's wrist. The glass rippled around her arm like a pool of oil; Mercy's fingers burning against her skin. Come to me.
"No – I—" Faye gasped. She tried to pull away. But Mercy's grip was inhumanly strong. Before she could say another word, the woman in the mirror seemed to fall backwards into the darkness beyond, and Faye fell with her, forwards somehow, through the glass. It felt like falling through the ice into a freezing lake. The mirror rippled and she was spinning into the black depths, unable to feel anything... and then she knew nothing more for a long moment.
* * *
Faye opened her eyes.
She was kneeling, head down, in a drift of snow, her woolen gown soaked through. Shivering. Her right wrist hurt, and looking down at it she could see Mercy's fingerprints, a circle of livid red.
Where am I? She took a deep breath of wintry air, and looked up.
She was in ... a castle. A ruined castle, with its shattered roof open to the stars. The stone flags of the floor were covered in snow, and a sharp East wind cut through the vast hall she found herself in. On the walls were ancient, tattered tapestries, stiff with frost, on which she could just make out weird scenes – bat-winged creatures that her eyes slid away from in revulsion. Torches burned blue in brackets on the walls, giving off an eerie spectral light, but no heat.
At the end of the hall, a short flight of steps led up to a throne. And on that throne sat Mercy Morrow, smiling in delight.
"You can get up, Faye, you're perfectly safe here. Do you like it? I have had many homes, but this was always a favorite." Mercy's voice was as sweet as honey. Faye struggled to her feet; she was stiff with cold, and felt like she'd been sleeping, crouched against the stone, for a week.
"Come forward, Faye. We need to talk," said Mercy. Faye walked towards the throne,her footsteps making no sound. As she approached, a high-backed oak chair shimmered into existence at the foot of the steps, covered in strange carvings. Mercy gestured at it, grandly. "You may sit, if you wish,"
"I'd rather not," said Faye. "I just want to know what's going on." Her voice sounded thin, weak. "You helped us, in Silver Cross! Why are you doing this to me?"
"Ah, child," said Mercy, "I did help you, and gladly. I love Joe Crowley; I had not felt real love for centuries. And I felt remorse, too. These were gifts that you gave to me, though you did not mean to give me gifts. I felt human again for the first time.
"But you came to me in Silver Cross, and I saw a chance to escape the world beyond. A chance for Joe, too. You are the only one who can help us, child. You must."
"Joe?" said Faye. "I don't see him."
"He is not here. He's where we left him, in the shadow world between Silver Cross and Annwn. I saw a way to ... hitch a ride. We are deep within your mind, Faye: a tiny corner of your mind that I control. Do not be alarmed. It's quite safe."
Faye, suddenly furious, took a step up towards Mercy. "We're in my mind? You're living in my head, filling it with all this... all this? And you've been whispering in my ear for weeks, now, haven't you. Looking out through my eyes? And you didn't think to ask?"
"If I'd asked, and you had turned me down, I would have come anyway," said Mercy. "This is too important." She leaned forward in the marble throne, her blue eyes burning. "This is life, Faye. Life for me and Joe. We've earned your help, I think? We saved your life. If there's one thing I have learned in all the millennia that I have walked the earth, it is that everything has a price. Everything. Did you think you would not have to pay?"
Faye laughed. "So you said we gave you gifts, and you helped us gladly, and you're still talking about prices and payment. Mercy, you still don't quite remember what being human is about, do you? You still just take whatever you want."
She took another step, and another, until she was standing in front of the throne looking down at Mercy. "We're in my mind. I think you don't have as much power here as out in the world. Right? I don't have to do what you say. In fact, I think I could destroy you, if I wanted." A look of fear passed across Mercy's face. "Ah, I could. But I want you out. I don't want you looking over my shoulder the rest of my life. I want you gone, forever. And if I can help Joe, I want to do that. For Finn, and for me.
"So what do you need me to do?"
Mercy Morrow stared at Faye - something flickered in her gaze, a spark of the old anger, the arrogance of an inhuman sorceress. And then she smiled.
"Faye... I'll tell you. But first there are a few things I will need to teach you."
"How long is that going to take?" Faye snapped.
"As long as it takes. In here, we have all the time we will need. And when you're ready..." Mercy's smile grew wider. "...there's an adventure waiting for you, out there."
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