Christopher Key, chapter nine scene one

The story so far: Christopher doesn’t know why everyone keeps making such a strange fuss over him. Well, he’s about to find out.

—————–

He woke.

He’d been roused by light through his blanket, quiet footsteps and a stir of movement. Was it morning already? He certainly didn’t want to stick his head out—no, they’d all be staring, and how stupid was it anyway, falling asleep curled under a blanket like an exhausted six-year-old?

Girl-voices, and steps as light as dancing. Life meant being surrounded by girls. In just a day so much had changed.

A rustle near his chair. Any moment now they’d all be tugging on his blanket. He forced himself to sit up.

“Yes?”

“Er—Christopher? If you please, um, are you awake?”

“Of course he’s awake.”

“His eyes are open.”

“But he thinks this is a nightmare. Don’t you, Christopher?”

He’d been right. The redheaded twins were on his right, with critical faces, hovering. On his left, also hovering, was the girl with the limp and the bandage around her head. She also had a trembling smile and wide terrified eyes: “We’ve laid out your breakfast. Um. At the table, there.”

He didn’t see Mere anywhere, just the other girls whisking to and fro with what looked like busywork, eyeing him sideways whenever they got close. But no Mere.

“You don’t look happy to have breakfast,” said the twin closest to him. “Aren’t you hungry?”

“Don’t you like food?”

Maybe this was a good time to ask a few questions.

“You’re Pell, aren’t you? And you’re Mell.”

They dissolved into giggles. “It’s the other way around.”

“The other way around!”

“Where’s Mere?”

They answered in chorus: “We don’t know where she went, so you can’t make us tell, even if you torture us for hours.”

“Pellmell.” Mere’s quiet voice came from the doorway. She stood there, a knight behind her with a steadying hand on her shoulder. Another girl hurried over to take her elbow.

Just one good look at her, though, and Christopher felt winded.

She moved with shuffling, hesitant steps.

Her eyes had glassed over and were like mirrors reflecting the room.

“It’s nothing bad,” Mere said. She walked slowly toward him, the other girl guiding her.

He could literally see himself, a tiny image, in each of her eyes. “Can I … can I look?”

She nodded, and stood unflinching when he peered into her eyes from less than a handspan’s distance. Her eyes reflected the room perfectly. Sir Surrey’s eyes had looked like that, the night they’d taken him from the magicians.

“It’s called ‘the Eye of God’,” Mere said. “It’s a knightly power.”

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