Tahlmus felt something cold and wet on his face. Opening his eyes, all he could see was a wash cloth. He sensed at least four other bodies in the room with him, and he could hear whispering. He moved his hand and took the cloth off of his face. “What happened?” he asked trying to sit up.
“You passed out,” Coral stated sitting next to him, putting her hand on his. Tahlmus shook his head, he had never passed out before unless he had over exerted himself.
“I had the weirdest dream,” he said. “You were all in it.” The women all look at him. “In the dream, the one nifler was female and she was pregnant, and then there was a female dancing milk carton…” his voice trailed off as he looked at their faces. “It wasn’t a dream was it?” The women shook their heads. Tahlmus was glad he was sitting because he started to feel light headed. “What… uh… I mean… How long have I been out?” he managed to ask.
“Only an hour,” Fleur said stepping forward. She was holding one of the niflers, who at that moment sneezed in Coral’s direction. Coral made a face but said nothing.
Tahlmus took a deep breath. “Ok,” he said. “I… I need to finish going over the applications for the last three spots,” he said softly. “I should go do that,” he finished as he stood and walked out of the room.
Coral and Fleur rose to follow, but Celestial held them back. “I think this is one time we need to let him be. She sent the them out on their usual daily tasks, and she, herself went to see Lillianna to make sure she was getting settled in.
Back at his desk Tahlmus sat, elbows on the desk and his face in his hands. “I don’t know if I can do all this,’ he whispered. He sat back thinking about the days before the Dark Lord came looking for Winky. He’d been so happy, at ease, content. “Then, I just handed her over,’ he thought feeling angry at himself. “But that’s what was needed, wasn’t it?” he whispered. “It was the only way to defeat the Dark Lord.” Tahlmus looked at the invitation again. It had a picture of Winky and Dobey on the front.
He sighed, as he realized that picture was the happiest he’d ever seen her. By admitting that he knew Dobey was the one she was meant to be with. “She finds love and I have baby niflers, and dancing milk cartons… or do I?” he questioned looking at the letters still sitting on his desk. He read through them again, slowly this time, letting his mind find the memories of times spent with each woman.
“Maybe I have some feelings that I’m not allowing myself to recognize,” he said as he heard a knock on the door. “Come in,” Tahlmus said, wondering why Coral had come to see him.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Celestial said we shouldn’t bother you, but you were upset and I was worried.” Tahlmus motioned for her to come closer, which she did after shutting the door.
“I was upset,” Tahlmus said. “Until I read these letters again. I guess a first love is always hard to get past.” Coral nodded. “Are you ok?” He asked. “You look upset.”
Coral tilted her head. “I guess I am.”
“Do you want to discuss it?” Tahlmus asked. Coral bit her lip. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to discuss things with Tahlmus. Not verbally anyway.
“This has something to do with why you became a Siren.”
“How did you…?” She started to ask.
Tahlmus shrugged. “I’m more powerful than even I fully understand. I can sense it.”
Coral followed his motions to come over to him. She sat in his lap and buried her head in his neck. After a few minutes, she started to explain how, when you became a Siren the only memories of your past were those of why you sought them out, and even those were incomplete. “Even Laguna hadn’t remembered her son being sacrificed until she touched the crown.” Tahlmus nodded. He remembered the story Laguna had told him that first night he spent with the sirens after saving Winky, and it wasn’t exactly the same as what the actual story had been. “Well, when we became normal again, those memories didn’t return. At least for everyone else, they didn’t return…” Coral’s words trailed off as she choked up.
Tahlmus tried not to listen to her thoughts, but it was like they were reaching to him. “Your husband threw you out because the doctors said you were barren.”
“How did you…? Coral paused before getting angry. “You… You read my thoughts,” she yelled at him. “You promised…” she got up quickly.
“Coral wait. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to,” he said trying to grab her hand before she started walking off. He missed. Tahlmus transported himself in front of the door, before Coral reached it. She opened her mouth to yell at him, as tears blurred her vision. “You’re not barren,” he said before she could say anything.
“But…” her legs felt weak. Tahlmus caught her as she started to fall. “You’re not barren,” he said. “Whatever the problem was, it wasn’t you.”
“I…” Coral didn’t know what to say, and she suddenly felt exhausted. Tahlmus helped her over to the couch in his office and covered her with a blanket. Soon she was asleep, and he was back at the desk poring over the applications again. The deadline to make his decision was close and he just wasn’t sure which three should get the spots.
As he continued to whittle down the applicants, he felt the temperature change in the room. “That’s weird,” he thought as he sensed the reason it changed was magic. “None of the sirens have magic like this,” he whispered. “And I haven’t taught Celestial how to do it…” After a few seconds he remembered Lillianna. He leaned back in his chair with a smirk.
“Lillianna,” he said softly, using his own magic to dispel the cool energy. A figured appeared in front of his desk. “I thought I asked you not to use your magic on me.”
Lillianna blushed. “I didn’t think you’d notice. No-one else ever has.”
There was something in her voice that Tahlmus didn’t quite understand. Something seemed to bothering her, but it was as if it was just who she was and not something that could be solved.
“You’re going to be a teacher here,” he said. “Will you look over these candidates. We have three spots left and I’m having a hard time narrowing it down.”
Lillianna walked over and stood close to Tahlmus, before he could move the applications across his desk. She stood close enough to him that it was hard not to take in her scent. It was sweet mingled with smells of new fabric and yarn. Only Winky had smelled like that. “Lillianna,” he said. She turned to look at him. “You’re magic.”
Lillianna blushed. “I’m sorry,” she said placing a hand on his shoulder. “I… I just…”
“What’s going on here?” Celestial’s voice interrupted as she stood in the doorway. Her voice woke Coral up, who after letting her eyes come into focus, felt some anger welling up inside of her as she saw Lillianna’s hand on Tahlmus’ shoulder. “Yeah, what’s going on?” She asked.
“I just asked for Lillianna’s help in narrowing down the applicants for our last three spots,” Tahlmus stated.
Seeing the looks from Celestial and Coral, Lillianna backed away from Tahlmus. “I… uh… I’ll go back to my room,” she said. “Didn’t mean to interfere.” She started walking out before turning back to Tahlmus. “I think Solas, Firki, and Tahlavin would benefit most from what you have to offer,” she finished before slipping past Celestial and walking out.
Tahlmus watched her walk out, feeling the remenants of her magic also leave. Because of this he had missed seeing Celestial cast her spell, and just felt something on his wrists. Looking down he saw silver bracelets.
“Really?” He asked rolling his eyes. Celestial and Coral both stood there with their arms crossed. Tahlmus muttered a few words, feeling the familiar burn on his skin, then the bracelets were gone. Both women stood there continuing to glare at him.
Tahlmus stood, walked over to the couch and motioned for Celestial and Coral to join him. Reluctantly, they complied. Celestial sitting on his right. Coral on his left.
“Listen, I know it will be an adjustment having someone else here that may try to take my attention from you, but I promise I will give you more of what you need,” he paused taking hold of each of their hands. “It’s taken a lot of thought, meditation, and a second reading of your letters, but I know I’ve supressed feelings because I didn’t want to think I could love someone other than Winky.” Tahlmus moved his gaze between the two women. “I will take you as wives on one condition. You let me do it properly, allow me to propose, and then a small ceremony to make it official.”
“Ok,” Celestial said before standing and walking out. She was going to inform Laguna and Fleur of Tahlmus’ wishes. Coral however stayed beside him silently.
He knew what she wanted. He didn’t have to tune into her thoughts for that. “When you are ready,’ he said. “just come to me.”
“Really?” She asked. “Are you sure?”
Tahlmus nodded. “I’ve always been a little closer to you intimately, so yes I’m sure.” Coral wasn’t sure what to say as his lips brushed her cheek before he moved back over to his desk. She watched him work for a bit before she left to go to her room.
As she walked down the hall, she ran into Fleur, who seemed in a much bigger hurry than normal. Fleur quickly explained how she had been trying to make the cage for the niflers more comfy since they’d be having babies, and that she had only turned her back for a second. When she turned back around both sniffles and fluffy were gone. She had searched every room except Tahlmus’ office and she hadn’t found them yet. Coral was going to make a suggestion when Laguna came running up. “Juggles and Midge are missing.”
“Who?” Coral and Fleur asked.
Juggles and Midge, that’s the names of the dancing milk cartons.” Laguna took a deep breath. “I was making a spot for them in may room and when I turned around to talk to them they were gone. I’ve searched everywhere except…”
“Tahl’s office,” Coral finished. Laguna nodded. “That’s almost too coincidental,” she thought as she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. “Lillianna,” she said turning. “You wouldn’t have had anything to do with this?”
“With what?” Lillianna asked innocently.
“The niflers; the milk cartons… You’re trying to get Tahl mad at us,” Coral said realizing she could somewhat sense Lillianna’s thoughts.
Lillianna opened her mouth, then closed it before running back to her room. Closing the door behind her; she leaned against it. Tears stung her eyes but she refused to let them fall. “They’ll never understand,” she thought. “They have Tahlmus. He’s always there for them. I need that,” she whispered. “I need the love, the intimacy, the attention, and I need his power. It’s the only way to bring my love back. He’s been lost for so long. She crossed the room to the vanity where a single picture frame sat. “Do not worry my love, I will find a way to you.”
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