He had a shock of curly dark black hair that fell across his nose.  He wore a bow-tie and a bespoke suit. His feet were bare and dirty.

Malachi would have remembered his name. Siobahn didn’t care to.

She flicked her fingers. The phone in his hand turned to a clutch of maggots. They fell from his hand, tumbling across the Chesterfield cushions in tiny pit-pats. When the larvae hit the ground in twos and threes, the nearest sidhe, head still bowed, snatched them from the rug and shoved them into her mouth.

The boy’s eyes widened, but he didn’t move.

“I had half my life on that phone,” he said, showing pointed teeth. “All my connections and contacts.”

“Connections and contacts,” Siobahn scoffed. “How human you sound. What of blood and vow?”

He shrugged, fists clenched on his thighs. “Himself is gone. It was Malachi kept us safe, kept us fed, while you, m’lady, hid away and watched from on high. Just like Gloriana.”

Siobahn slapped him, twice. Her hand left a red mark across his cheek. He half rose, then fell back onto the cushions.

“Wise,” Siobahn said. She bent and scooped a single missed worm from the carpet, dropping it in the lad’s lap. “My patience isn’t what it was. Get down on your knees.”

He was canny enough to slide off the couch and onto the rug, but not before Siobahn caught the gleam of malice in his blue eyes.  He started to bow his head, black curls flopping over his forehead, but Siobahn bent in one swift motion and grabbed his chin.

“What’s your name?” she demanded.

He kept himself still against the grip of her fingers, but Siobahn could feel the pulse beating under his jawbone. He was frightened, or angry, or both. The single tiny worm had fallen from his lap and squished beneath his knee.

“Finvarra,” he answered, not quite a hiss. “I kept your cloak from the mud, when we crossed through. I carried Himself’s helm. Don’t you remember, m’lady? I was his page. The one who slipped -

” – the poison in Gloriana’s cup.” Siobhan relaxed her fingers, remembering. He’d been barely a child, then. Now he was grown, like her own son. Grown, and stopped growing, like a sapling pruned back.

“You were loyal to my husband. Willing to commit murder and high treason. You kept his blade clean, and you combed the leaves from my hair when we still ran like animals in the woods.” Siobahn regarded his bent head. “Yet now you’d rather play with human toys than prostrate yourself at my feet. Once you knew your place, Finvarra. My husband’s death does not change your standing. I am, and was always meant to be, your Queen.”

“You have the bloodlines.” He’d put his hands behind his head as though she held a pistol to his lowered brow. “Aye, that’s true. But it was Malachi who treated us as his own, Malachi who held us together.” His eyes were cobalt slits through the fall of his hair. “You, you would have let us rot while you dreamed revenge.”

Siobhan hit him again, knocking him flat. She conjured a small bronze knife to her hand, pinned him immobile with a word, and would have spilt his traitorous innards all across Malachi’s bear rugs if not for a sudden change in the room.

- SUMMER, Vol. 2 of The Manhattan Exiles

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