‘So, this is it! There is room for Omobono’s dragons, but also for Twang’s…’
Right at that moment Victoria saw in the corner of her eye a golden sparkle approaching at high speed and, while passing, create a Doppler effect on the word “Hello”. The girl realized that the… -for want of a better word she called it a “thing” to herself- the thing had actually greeted them. The golden sparkle stopped a few yards ahead and Victoria recognized the shape of a fairy, that came back and reached them. It was Agatha, Lucio’s great love, with her long blond hair, golden dress and, huge in proportion, golden wings with patterns almost watermarked in them. She fluttered at their faces’ hight and smiling sang with her high voice:
‘Hello! I didn’t expect you here right now… I thought you’d come over only tomorrow!’
‘Well I wanted to check out a few things first. Would you like to help us?’ Asked Susanna.
‘Of course! First I have to go to my cousin though, she’s doing this thing with goats, and I want to have a look.’
‘Yes! Goat is the new cat, you know.’
Victoria looked puzzled at Joe and asked:
‘What is she talking about?’
The boy shrugged and, looking at her just as puzzled, answered:
‘I have no idea. It must be a fairy thing…’
Susanna laughed at the two of them and turning to Agatha she simply said:
‘Never mind! Say hi to Nora, will you?’
‘Are you sure?’ the fairy looked worried she had not met Susanna’s expectations, something Victoria knew always triggered her: Agatha was always all about trying to make other people all comfy and happy.
‘Yes, yes, you go have fun with the goats!’ and she winked at Agatha. The fairy gave a silver laugh, waved and darted off at top speed again.
Victoria was very happy to see her in such a good mood: during the summer Agatha had lost most of her fireflies and she was almost killed by the chemicals that had polluted the Lake and caused the death of the flies. The girl had been worried just like the others, especially after understanding that Agatha was the one Lucio cared so much for. She definitely had a soft spot for the gnome, she had to admit to herself!
The three of them inspected the area carefully, they saw that it was virtually impossible to see things like flames or other from the lakes, which was the only side from where people actually could see something, as the surroundings were thick with vegetation. Susanna was very smug about it: as always, she had picked the right spot, close enough to the lakes, but too far for anyone else to see the dragons. Of course, they would be at the lakes when the Moon was out and shining, but other than that, they would be nearly invisible.
Why things still kept turning the wrong way, Victoria never understood. It must be some kind of extremely bad luck at this point, something genetic! The “handholding affair” had her all happy and singing, expectation blossoming in her heart: yes, finally Joe and Victoria would be an item, a couple, they had a relationship! She was undecided on what defined said relationship in the first place: the first time you held hands? The first time you saw each other’s soul perhaps? Or the first kiss? Now, that last thing would have been a bummer, since they had not actually kissed yet. But, to be honest, such a thing as a starting point of a relationship was totally passé, blasé, fouetté… whatever! She loved him, he loved her, they knew and that was all it took, in her mind. The next step, the actual kissing, was about to happen, she was sure. So when they finally reached the Domus and saw Luca in tears, sobbing near the chaise-lounge, with Viola looking sternly at him, Victoria already expected the crisis that was raging, and her spirits dropped a few miles.
‘What happened?’ Susanna asked, suspicious. Never, in all those years, had she seen him so out of control, not even when his parents fell ill. He looked up at her, a terrible mess of tears on his cheeks, and answered with a faint whisper.
‘Sara is going out with someone tonight. She told me just yet…’
‘But I thought that was what you wanted!’
‘I thought so indeed! Until now.’
And the wining started again. Victoria felt sorry at once, even if she had never ever thought that he was having such feelings for her friend: he had always been very careful not to let Sara come to close, he had pushed her away, for her own good. Victoria actually agreed with him, what future was even possible between a Golden Soul and a legally blind teenager? No, he had been right, and he should only be happy for the girl, love was all about wanting the happiness of the beloved one! Right? So, resolved to tell him to get over it quickly, she braced herself, took a deep breath and… was shocked when she realized her hand was actually holding air, since Joe had thrown himself to the floor next to Luca and was trying to comfort him!
‘I’m so sorry! It must be a misunderstanding, she is crazy about you. Are you sure? Maybe we could talk to her.’
‘Hang on!’ cried Victoria ‘Why should we do such a thing? He always told her to go and have a life… Now she does what he wants and he’s all weepy? Come on!’
‘How could you be so hard on him!’
This was Susanna’s cue to intervene:
‘Now, let’s calm down everyone, shall we? Victoria, be kind and go to Sara, I would like to know what’s going on. I’ll stay here with the boys, and talk to them. And don’t be angry, please.’
The girl, fuming with rage, was all to glad to go over to her friend and cool down a little. So she went to the Castle of Paese, an ancient building that harboured the Institution for Blind Youngsters Santa Lucia, where Sara lived. She almost ran to her friend, marching as quickly as she could, and making the short walk feel like even shorter: in a few minutes she had reached the entrance, moved quickly through the central hall and up the stairs to the top level, where Sara’s room was. She reached the door, knocked furiously four times and waited.
Sara, astonishingly beautiful as ever, opened the door with her cheeks almost as wet as Luca’s.
‘What the hell happened!’ Victoria’s rage had evaporated at the sight of her friend, who threw herself in her arms sobbing just as much as Luca only minutes ago.
Victoria had a hard time dragging Sara inside and understanding what these emotions were all about. Finally, once the girl had calmed down a little, she said:
‘Luca was here. We were arguing again about me and him, so I thought I’d make him feel bad for once, and I told him that I would go out with someone tonight. Which is not true, of course! And he seemed not to care, he smiled happily and wished me good luck, then he took off.’
And the sobbing restarted all over again. Victoria was silent for a couple of minutes, chewing this over, until she decided to speak up. She took her friend by the shoulders, shaking her so hard that her teeth clattered repeatedly. It actually worked, she noticed, for the girl stopped crying and started laughing, surprised by her friend’s action. Once she was calm enough, Victoria spoke.
‘So, you think he doesn’t care, am I right?’ Sara sniffed, nodding frantically through a watery smile. That was better. ‘And, pray, who would this other boy be?’ Curiosity was becoming a key feature of hers.
‘Oh, I would have asked Jacopo to cover for me on this one, although I hadn’t thought it through, it had been an impulse really…’
‘Right. Well, I shouldn’t be telling you, but right now Luca is crying his eyes out at the Domus, and Joe and I even had a little fight over this.’
‘What? He is at the Domus? And he is crying? I don’t understand…’
‘Neither do I, my dear, neither do I!’
Sara groaned, realizing that she had caused much more trouble than she had wanted. All she had had in mind was to get back at him, but certainly not to make Victoria and Joe fight! Tears escaped her unseeing eyes once more, the sobbing started all over again.
‘Don’t, please don’t! We’ll sort it out, I promise.’
‘No, there is nothing to sort out really, I messed up with Luca and for you and Joe all in one go!’
‘I don’t know if you really messed up for Joe and me, there wasn’t much to mess up in the first place.’
Victoria told her all about the time she had spent with him the day before, the dream she had had, the last bit of morning in the garden with Lucio and the enchantment of the afternoon at the Lake Lucone, with the Naiads. But, she concluded, nothing had happened, if not in her head and in her head only. They were silent for some time, as they started talking only to discuss Luca over and over again, until they both jumped at a sudden knock on the window. Agatha was floating in mid-air, her huge wings flapping quickly, sporting a timid smile.
‘Hey girls, do you mind if I come in?’ she asked shyly. The two friends both laughed.
‘Of course not! Come in… What are you doing here?’ Sara asked. She had recognized the silver voice of the fairy.
‘Actually Susanna asked me to come over. It’s dark and she was a little worried and since I was at Lucio’s, she thought I might want to see where Victoria is hiding.’
‘Well, as you can see, I’m not hiding at all, I’m just having some time with my dear friend. But thank you for checking on me.’ Victoria was a little annoyed, although she had not realized that the night was actually falling.
‘Susanna says it’s OK if you want to spend the night here.’
‘Right. Well, I might just as well stay here and wait till the morning before going back.’
She saw Sara out of the corner of her eye stiffen in her posture: she guessed that her friend wanted to ask the fairy something, but that her courage was failing her. Still she probably decided to speak at last.
‘Agatha… how’s Luca? I heard that he was, well, not so fine…’
The fairy blushed slightly. Victoria had not such a great experience with fairies, but the blushing actually made the situation even more absurd. Also because she did not turn red in her face but mostly golden…
‘To be honest, he was still crying when I left, not so much as before, but still… Lucio was giving him a pep-talk, Joe was also trying to calm him down and Susanna was searching in the Book of the Moon for something to help him out. I mean, it’s not like you can give him a cupper, can you?’ The two girls nodded: Golden Souls, well, ghosts, did not drink tea after all!
‘I’m sorry I made him so miserable!’ Sara was in tears again. Victoria patted her on the back.
‘There, there. No harm done, I’ll stay here and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. Now let him stew a little first, it might work out just fine in the end.’
Agatha looked almost disgusted as she asked:
‘Are you sure? It might be worse…’
Victoria gave her a really dirty look.
‘I actually happened to have read about these love matters in a magazine, I know!’She said making some imposing hand gestures and sounding quite definite about that. ‘Now, will you do me a favor? I left my phone back at the Domus and I really don’t want to see or hear anything from them all for now, just for now. I’m a little pissed! Would you please go back and tell Susanna that I’ll be back in the morning? I still have to practice with Lucio and I wouldn’t want to miss that.’
The little fairy nodded, smiled weakly, still a bit uncertain about Victoria’s reaction to the whole thing: maybe this was due to sleep deprivation, since Susanna had said out loud that the girl had had little sleep in the past weeks and she was quite certain that this sudden temper must have something to do with that. Sleeping with her friend would certainly have a positive effect on her. So she opened her huge wings once more, flapped them lightly, and took off at bullet speed out of the window.
‘Isn’t she worried people might see her?’ Victoria asked.
‘No, people can see her all right, but most of them choose not to see her or other creatures, like gnomes.’
‘I see. What about the dragons then? They should be invisible when they have been in the moonlight on Michaelmas… this could be avoided, right?’
‘Wrong! Dragons are a totally different thing, you see, they are a lot bigger! That is why they should hide and be able to turn invisible, unlike fairies.’
Victoria thought for a moment. Yes, it made sense. She shrugged and felt her stomach rumble.
‘OK, shall we go and have a pizza?’
‘Good idea, would you pass me my cane please?’ Asked Sara in return, and they quickly left the room to go to a pizzeria.