Beryl laid low after the riot to avoid Vanity, Nicholas’s men, and the felines own friends equally. She wanted to meet them, but without being overwhelmed at once. Their visits would be on her terms where she could speak her mind freely to them individually. The familiar had taken to staying with Lady Moldylocks, and meeting everyone alone when she could.
Her usual attire had been a welcome reprieve from the corsets and stockings, but she found herself missing the first dresses Erica had gifted her. Those had been more comfortable in the summer heat and in other ways too. Cyan had been right, she had changed.
Meeting friends alone proved to be a meticulous process and a matter of timing, but she managed to have friendly conversations putting aside doubts to her present health. By Friday she decided it was time to confront Cyan Rayna.
He was chatting, as always, with anyone he met when Beryl interrupted his conversation. Cyan greeted his friend warmly expressing relief that she was alive after the riot. She hid her rising anger as she asked to speak with the lad privately.
The boy led her to a small room within the curving paths of Mad Alice Lane and bounced on his couch, “Feel free to get comfortable!”
“I’m not in the mood to be ‘comfortable’ right now, Cyan,” She slammed the door roughly and threw her hat aside. She stared at him from her floor position coldly and he ceased bouncing on his own furniture.
“Cyan, my mission was accomplished. I have the letter.” The lad brightened as she showed him a glimpse of the letter, but she returned it to her pocked. She stared at him hard, “And to do it without risking my own life or the mission, all I had to do was betray my other companions.”
The lad’s mouth dropped open for a moment before he stammered, “Look…I was concerned about you…”
“I know,” Beryl cut him off. The boy wasn’t confused or denying it, just trying to explain himself and they both knew what he would say. “Reasons don’t change what we did. You are the only one who will know this, and if you don’t want them to kill me, you will never speak of this to any living being again.”
“I won’t.” Cyan muttered as he stared down at the floor below Beryl.
“You may be happy to know that it aided in my mission,” The feline sat up and watched her friends reactions with a straight back, “When they attacked in the pub, completely mistaking what I asked of them, it did not fall back on me. I had already warned Nicholas of Hyde’s intentions so their reckless actions raised me in his esteem.” She tilted her head to the side as Cyan appeared even more distraught. “Are you not satisfied with my results?”
“Not really…” the lad admitted timidly. “I am glad you are safe and that they didn’t get severely harmed…but figured they could take care of themselves and not do stupid things…like causing a barfight…”
She grit her teeth at his response. It was time to talk about the real reason she was upset, “Cyan…the truth-”
“I was stupid to think I could give you an order!” The cub shouted guiltily, interrupting her attempt to change the subject. “I was stupid to give you an order! I just wanted you to see what you were doing!”
Beryl closed her eyes, feeling guilty and more hurt because of how she had made him feel. This had not been what she wanted. She turned away, her back to him now. “That wasn’t the stupid thing, Cyan. That at least helped me in the end…there were worse things…”
She tried to settle her thoughts, and continue more level headed, but Cyan insisted, “Please, tell me? What was the worst thing?”
“…I feel I was betrayed long before I ever started this investigation. That I risked my life for a broken oath,” She turned back to Cyan quietly. Her ears drooping, “Underby told me that Emerson was picked as the adult liaison. That his sources told him I took Sir Sir’s place, but I was told I was the first pick for the urchins as the adult liaison. Did Myrtil lie to me when she told me that? Did every other urchin lie to me when I asked later?”
“We..” Cyan looked away in shame, unable to meet his friends gaze, “We didn’t want to make Emerson feel bad. We wanted to give him a test run, but really most of the votes were for you…”
She listened to his explanation quietly, but the trust was already broken between them and the lie was clear in his tone. She shook her head, “No, Cyan. I don’t believe that.”
“It…it really wasn’t anything against you,” Cyan said trying again, trying to sound more convincing this time. “We wanted to keep the connection we had with Mr. Lighthouse.”
“So he was your choice, and then Myrtil had me spy on him because he wasn’t trustworthy?” Beryl replied snidely. “Then the urchins decided I wasn’t worthy of informing he was also chosen?”
“Basically,” Cyan replied weakly as he tried to catch up. He stopped to gulp down a lump forming in his throat and Beryl took that as answer enough.
Basically?! She left her hat behind and slammed the door as she ran down the street. She did not look back as Cyan called after her. Adult liaison or not, it was her oaths that bound her and hurt her other friends. Not one had told her the truth, and she had presented her closest friends with multiple opportunities to do so.
The children had not violated the terms of the oath, just the spirit of everything it had always meant to her.
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