Swallowing Darkness – Chapter 23: It’s just a jacket, MOM

Chapter 23 begins with a servant bringing in a leather coat for Merry. She had mentioned in the previous chapter that she was cold, and there was a dumb side-thought about how Sholto ordered a guard to order a servant to fetch a jacket for Merry, and how Merry realized that the ability to order someone around without a second thought was “the arrogance of the nobles” or whatever. It was stupid that’s why I didn’t want to even write it up, but now the jacket is a huge focus of the beginning of this chapter, and it’s not even a fashionable jacket!

It was leather pieced together with heavy Frankenstein stitches. The leather was shades of black, different sections having different textures, and some pieces of gray and white among the blackness, as if the coat had been made from different kinds of animals. The stitches and differences in skin should have made it an ugly coat, but it didn’t.

Yes it did.

Also the jacket magically fits her perfectly, so perfectly she has to remove the hospital gown she was wearing to fasten the buttons, which of course were carved out of bone.

Sholto actually knelt in front of me to finish the buttoning. He smiled up at me. “You look lovely.”
Was it shallow to feel better just because I had a coat that fit me well? Maybe, but as bad as I was feeling, I’d take anything that made me feel better.
“It fits perfectly,” I said. “Whose clothes am I borrowing?”
“It was made for the queen of the sluagh,” he said, standing.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It means that the court seamstress had a dream some months back. She was told that I would take a queen and that she should sew accordingly.”
I rubbed my fingertips down the leather. It was so soft. The seamstress had lined the inside of the coat so that the stitching didn’t rub my skin.
“You’re saying your seamstress knew Meredith would be queen before anyone else?” Mistral asked.
“Not Meredith, not by name, but the measurements, yes.”

Oh how fucking stupid is this. You live in a fucking magical faerie world where everything is alive and immediately transforms to the perfect thing someone wants at that given time. Why not have the jacket be something that magically fits to the rulers or queen of the sluagh. Not this our seamstress dreamed Merry’s exact measurements nonsense.

“But why would nice clothes be that important?” I asked.
“Mirabella told everyone who would listen that I would take a queen and that she would only be this big.” He made a gesture like you would measure a fish. “It forced the remaining hags and our female nightflyers to rethink their pursuit of me.”
“You mean women of your court stopped pressuring you because this Mirabella was sewing clothes that would not fit them?”
“Yes,” he said.

I hate this series so much.

Sholto gets called away to important sluagh business, so he leaves them alone in the office. Doyle and Mistral start immediately complementing how Merry looks in the jacket. Mistral even goes so far as to get on his knees in an apologetic fashion and actually starts apologizing to her that he didn’t compliment her enough. Merry rightfully tells him to knock that off and never do that again. She also has to remind him, yet again, to call her Meredith/Merry instead of Princess. Poor Mistral. Merry doesn’t even love you, and you have to try to get used to her caring nature.

Sholto then reenters and lets them know that Merry’s mother is demanding proof of Merry’s safety, otherwise the Seelie will invade the sluagh mound.

“Are they truly willing to attack you?” I asked.
“Whether they would do it, I cannot say, but that they threaten it is true enough.”

What?

It’s mentioned throughout this that the sidhe cannot lie. So wouldn’t a threat of attack, even if they didn’t intend to, be a lie? A threat isn’t a threat without serious intent behind those words, and to threat without intent would be a lie.

Sholto suggests that they use the mirror to contact Merry’s mother, which starts conversation about how Merry never really viewed Besaba as her mother. Besaba gave birth to Merry, but did not care for her, did not raise her.

“She is your mother,” Sholto said.
I shook my head, still wrapped in Doyle’s arms. “I believe that you must earn that title. It’s another by-product of being raised among the humans. I don’t believe that just giving birth earns you anything.”
“The Christians believe that you must honor your father and mother,” Doyle said.
“True, but ask most Americans and they’ll tell you you have to earn that respect.”

They then decide to use a show of force for their mirror discussion with Merry’s mother. Sholto and Merry will sit side by side, as King and Queen of the sluagh, with her men and some sluagh guards behind them. Since Doyle and Mistral have been either scantily clad or nude this whole time, Sholto offers them some of his clothing. Doyle then suggests that Merry hold the chalice, since it had once been a Seelie object of power, and it will drive Taranis mad to know that it has decided Merry should wield it.

And the chapter ends with Merry telling them that holding the chalice will make Taranis go “apeshit”, because that’s totally a thing people still say.

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