The night is quiet with hints of fog and clouds as Toby drives them to Half Moon Bay. Luidaeg is worried for Toby but she did choose to come out of bed and get dressed on her own, though Luidaeg did have to make it clear she would have dragged her out in her sleeping clothes otherwise. After giving directions though, they both fell silent. Too many weighty matters, too much grief in both their hearts, though for different reasons.
Luidaeg knew from experience that silence of this sort only lead to wallowing and so she articulated the patterns of a spell with her fingers, erasing the illusion that hide her bundles. Toby, of course, immediately saw and guessed what the were.
"Luidaeg, is that..." Toby half asked.
"One is Elaine's, most recently worn by Margie Atwater. The other is Owain's, most recently worn by Connor O'Dell," Luidaeg said plainly, despite the seizing of her heart. "We're taking them home."
"Driving you to Half Moon Bay wasn't enough?" Toby asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Just...please. Don't tell them who I am. Most of them don't know, and it's not time for them to know yet."
"I thought you couldn't lie."
"I can't lie to anyone but them." Luidaeg said as she shifted to the face of Annie. "Please."
"Will you tell me why you can lie to them?"
"After we are done here. I promise."
"Then, yeah. I won't tell them who you are."
All too soon and far too long, their errand was done and Luidaeg pulled Toby out a backdoor and lead them to the beach. They stood watching the waves and the clouds pass the moon for a few moments, Toby instinctually giving Luidaeg the time she needed.
"I can lie to the Selkies because I am their First, even though they aren't my children," Luidaeg said as matter-of-factly as if she were giving the weather. At Toby gasp of surprise, Luidaeg gave her a sharply amused look. "Did you think I'd lived a chaste life? I'm the mother of the Roane. I loved them so much it hurt. It still does if I think about it too much."
"For the love of my father, October, listen. I don't know if I'll have the nerve to tell you this twice," Luidaeg said before turning to look out at the water, at the waves. Her old friends whom she could never go back to. "One of my sisters betrayed me. She put knives in the hands of humans and told them to kill my children, because it would make them immortal. The Roane who lived were the ones with me. Not enough to make a race. Barely enough to remain a family."
"They killed my babies because they wanted to live forever. Only it turned out forever isn't very long. Their own children slit their throats while they slept, and brought the skins of my dead babies home to me. They begged me for their lives. Me, the sea witch, the wronged one...they begged me to forgive them for the sins of their parents. So I forgave them. And I bound them. They would be Selkies from that day onward, they would wear the skins of my sons and daughters and grandchildren, and they would keep the magic alive until I could find a way to make things right."
"Until the bill could come due." Toby whispered.
"Yeah." Luidaeg answered and turned back to face her. "I love the Selkies because that are my family. I hate them because they killed my family. Everything's a contradiction."
"I had children. I was a mother. And now my children are gone, almost all of them. Their skins live, on the backs of Selkies...for now. Because everything changes, Toby. Everything passes, even in Faerie. For now, you're alive. Your squire needs you to be a knight; your Fetch needs you to be a sister; your liege needs you to be the daughter he didn't lose," Luidaeg said, leaving out her own needs for Toby.
"So be alive. If you're not willing to do it for them, do it for Connor. I seriously doubt he took an arrow for your kid just so you could cry yourself to death. I'd tell you that he wasn't worth it, but no one gets to make that call for you. So I'll tell you that everything changes, everything passes, and we need you too much for you to keep doing this."
Luidaeg turned to Toby, allowing just enough of her real self to show in her eyes that her words would carry weight; that Toby might see the honesty in them. "That doesn't go away. But it does get better."
And deep down, where the Luidaeg never let anyone, she hoped Toby heard the truths she was trying to share and remembered them for later.