The air was crisp and cool as autumn was setting in.
It always seemed to be autumn at the Muse Cottage, and why not? It was Cherry’s favorite season.
The house was what is sounded like, a large cottage painted in creams and rusty browns with large rose bushes growing in front.
The property was dotted with large trees and flower patches and ringed with a picket white fence. Perhaps it was Mary-sue-ish to some people, but it was what she wanted.
Elifox sat on the stairs that lead to the deck as he lazily twirled a rose blossom between his fingers. He smiled at the two figures that waltzed to some old blues that blasted out of the radio.
It had been a long time since he had been “Mused” as Cherry called it, but he wasn’t upset. He was enjoying taking the backseat and just enjoying life.
“Aren’t you going to say something?”
The angry voice belonged to no other than the seven-foot tall Aborginal elf named Furel. His amber eyes narrowed in disgust.
“He’s a villain! He doesn’t deserve to have his blood stained hands near her!” He growled.
Elifox smiled as he laced his hands across his ocean blue sweater, the rose now tucked behind one of his fox ears.
“I think he’s doing well. He’s helped her accomplish things you and I never could,”
“He’s a murderer!” Furel said pointedly and Elifox sighed, twisting slightly to look at his friend who stood behind him.
“He’s her muse, whether you like it or not, Furel,” Elifox frowned at Furel, his brows knitting over his blue eyes. “Besides he was here longer than you or I,”
“But she forgot,” Furel’s heavy boots clomped along the planks of the porch as he walked over to rail and gripped it with nut brown hands.
Elifox smiled, “She forgot Frodo too, but remembered when the movie came out, and I don’t see you complaining about that,”
“Frodo is different, you and I are different,” There was a subtle growl to his tone, like when a cat gives a warning.
“Give him time,” Elifox said irritably, and tossed the rose from his head to the ground as he rose to feet.
“We may be dead by then,” Furel muttered under his breath as he watched the two.
Otto Octavius laughed as the smaller woman tried to meet his steps. He was trying to teach her how to waltz, but that was a chore in itself.
“My grace is in my hands,” She grumped as she mis-stepped and nearly smashed his foot. “Not my feet,”
Otto smiled and twirled her out, the heavy hobbit-style dress she wore flaring out and revealing her furry feet.
“Then think of you feet as your hands, place them where you want, not where they want,”
She bit her lip and rolled her eyes, “Easy for you to say, Doctor,”
They hadn’t been together long and he didn’t know how much longer he had. His Muse-dom was at its peak, but he wondered how long she would keep him around.
They knew each other long ago, but she was nothing but a child. She couldn’t help him, but now that her gifts had blossomed he wondered how long she would empower him.
“So,” Cherry said as she finally looked up from her feet and met Otto’s spectacled gaze, “Do you like her?”
“Her?” Otto asked.
“Mouse, silly,” Cherry laughed. “Do you like her?”
“I think she’s brilliant, although you do make me a bit soft,”
Cherry stuck out her tongue at him; “At least you haven’t ripped her bodice off yet,”
Otto chuckled and swirled the small woman into a dip, her auburn curls dancing in the swift movement, “Take all the fun out of my life,”
“It’s my job,” Cherry answered back as he brought her upright again.
The song ended and Cherry and Otto gave mock bows to each other as Elifox walked over to them. Cherry smiled at her HeadMuse and embraced him tenderly.
“Furel is mad,” Elifox frowned.
“When isn’t he?” Cherry said cheerfully but quickly caught onto the meaning.
“Otto, will you excuse me?” She asked and without waiting for answer, quickly walked away with the foxling.
“He won’t leave, unless you make him,”
Furel had been glowering at Octavius when a dark velvet voice spoke. Furel turned his head and found a long, languid figure perched on the railing.
He had alabaster skin and long raven-black hair with blood red eyes, his name was Chibi-Voldy. Perhaps not the most threatening name in all of Muse-dom, but most had learned to respect this interpretation of Lord Voldemort.
He was never around much. Chibi-Voldy had been created to comfort Cherry during 9/11 as she doodled in her classes, listening to the reports on the radio.
Once things were settled and peace came back to her, Chibi-Voldy seldom reappeared.
But he was respected and allowed to wonder as he wished around the Muse Cottage.
He now looked out across the yard to the dark, tentacled figure, a look of concern across his skull like face.
“She will never get rid of him, unless you prove to her that his not a Muse of Good,”
Furel blinked at looked at Voldy, “How do you do that?”
Voldy shrugged, a fluid motion that caught Furel off guard. He thought if Chibi-Voldy was going to come and tell him to kick the snot out of Octavius that he would give him a way how.
“Maybe she just needs to be shown the truth,”
Voldy’s eyes, bright as life’s blood locked with Furel, “The truth that he is a mass murdering criminal.
Furel nodded, “Yes, the truth,”
Elifox and Cherry strolled around to the back of the house where there was a large willow tree. He hugged her close and found life in her.
He was the first of a long line of Muses. He was her head-muse, the one she always returned to. He loved her in a way that really had no meaning, because he wasn’t real.
She knew love. She was loved and loved someone. Someone in the real outside world. She was to be married and he wondered what that meant for him and his muse-brothers.
“Furel is still upset that I took Octavius in? Why? What is wrong with Otto?” Cherry asked her voice muffled by Elifox’s shoulder.
“Furel is jealous I think,”Elifox said. “He’s also afraid that Ock will hurt you,”
“Ock can’t hurt me,”
“Other muses have,”
“Other muses possessed by real people,” Cherry’s voice had a slight strain on it. “Octavius can’t hurt me,”
“But he can hurt us,” Elifox pressed on. “If you forget about us, or the Muse Cottage or our lives here in Hobbiton, we cease to exist,”
“Eli,” Cherry said softly and hugged her muse closer. “I can’t forget you, without you I am an empty shell,”
“What if he makes you forget?” Elifox asked his eyes full of tears. This time he talked of her other partner, the one she intended to marry, he wished she would stay here with them and forget that other world.
“I love him. He is my other self, the part of me that lives beyond Muse Cottage,” She touched Elifox’s cheek and smiled. “I am growing, its true, and with each new experience I am able to make you muses more alive,”
“I don’t want you to forget,” Elifox breathed. Cherry hugged him possessively and kissed his forehead.
“I never will, Eli,”
Octavius stood over bush of Tulips which were doing surprisingly well in the biting autumn wind. He smiled and turned when he heard footsteps behind him but they were neither Cherry’s nor Elifox’s.
They were a rolling, weary gait that carried the bulk of the seven-foot elf with hushed ease.
“Hello, Furel,” The doctor’s voice was dark and dangerous. He knew the elf didn’t like him.
“Tell her what you are,” Furel growled.
Otto blinked and Furel hurled a punch at him.
Octavius whipped a tentacle into Furel’s path and the elf’s knuckles caught hard steel instead of yielding flesh.
Cherry and Elifox appeared from around the house when they heard Furel’s native curses.
“Leave us alone! We don’t want any of your murdering hands!” Furel spat at the doctor. “Tell her who you are! Make her forget and leave us in peace!”
“Furel!” Cherry wailed, upset her muses were fighting but Elifox held her back.
“What makes you think she doesn’t already know?” Otto asked as his tentacles lifted him out of range of the Elf’s fists as Furel tried to assault him again.
“Because if she did, she never would have used you in the first place!”
“Why don’t you just accept I am one of you?” Octavius snarled a tentacle whipping down to smack Furel in the ground.
The Aborginal rolled away, shouting up at the man, “You will never be one of us!”
“Furel! Furel, stop this!” Cherry cried. She fought against Eli’s arms. “Let me go, Elifox!”
“Cherry, maybe you should forget him,”
She looked back at the foxling in disgust. “You too, Eli? I thought you understood!”
“Let her go, fox-brat,” Octavius said dangerously as his tentacles carried himself over to them.
“Cherry you need to forget him. He’s not welcome here,” Furel snapped.
“You’re all being stupid! He’s no different than any of you!” She cried and broke from Elifox’s grip.
“Cherry,” Octavius held out a hand. “I do not want to be forgotten either,”
Cherry looked at Furel and then Elifox.
“None of you will be forgotten,” She took Octavius’s hand and then walked him over to Furel. “I will not forget any of you. I love you all,” She helped Furel up and then turned and found Elifox already beside her.
“I’m growing, I’m changing, but you will all grow and change with me. I won’t abandon you,”
She then turned her gaze to two red eyes that lurked in the shadows. “And I won’t ever forget you, even if you deserve it,”
The eyes gave a hiss and quickly disappeared.
“Then what has happened?” Furel asked.
“Voldy is made of anxiety and horrible memories. He was a light in darkness, but darkness still,” Cherry shivered. “I cannot draw him for it reminds of that horrible time, long ago,”
Octavius wrapped a tentacle around her, “Then forget and move on,”
Cherry shook her head, looking into the shadows, “If I forget- - - the darkness will come back. Anxiety will come back, fear will come back. I’ve conquered these things through you my muses,” She shivered. “I would rather die than have those things haunt me,”
The three muses stood there awkwardly and watched the small girl as she gathered her thoughts.
She then smiled, and the world seemed a little brighter as she said .”How would you all like to be in a story?”
“Which one?” Elifox asked.
Cherry grinned as a typed piece of paper fell into her hand.
“The one we just wrote,”