Blanche's Berceuse
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Ah, my dear friend, you've made it! You're just in time, I was just getting the tea ready. Lapcho tea, correct? Wonderful. Here, here, let me pour you one… There we are, absolutely lovely.

Oh, my dear, I have quite the story to tell! Admittedly, it isn't as action-filled as others - but I do cherish it quite a bit - it has something to do with a wonderful gift a good friend of mine gave me. Of course, I'll only tell you if you're truly interested, I wouldn't want to burden you with my storytelling….

…You're intrigued? Truly? …Well, alright. I suppose I shall tell you, then.

This particular tale of mine happened about a month ago. There I was, fixing up a few books when something- no, someone bumped into me! I turned around and there she was - a little girl in the most dainty, but tattered-looking lilac dress. The poor thing; she came alone, crying, terrified out of her mind. When she realized she bumped into me, she yelped, running away. I wasn't quite sure what to do in that moment, as most wanderers that ran into me were at the very least teens- and well- she only looked to be about 10 years old.

As such, I chose to follow her, though in secret. I figured that if she saw me again, she'd be too scared for us to have a proper talk…. Of course, not knowing whether she had something to eat or drink prior to coming here, I wasn't about to let a child go hungry. As such, I placed a plate of chocolate biscuits and a glass of milk around the corner of one section of the library that she was in. She came upon it, looked around, and sat down, taking a bite out of one of them.

Once I believed she fully calmed down, I walked into her field of view. "Greetings, my dear," I called out, catching her off guard. She quickly put one of the biscuits down and stood up, as if to run - though she didn't. "Please, dear, you needn't run away. I've no intention of harming you." She seemed unconvinced as she took a step back, her little fingers twiddling together.

"You… you won't?" She asked timidly.

I smiled. "You have my word." I opened my hand to her. "Come, my dear. I'm sure you're quite fatigued from your journey to my library. I have a place you could rest in."

She thought for a moment, understandably doubtful. Within a minute, she took my hand and I led her to one of the guest rooms. As I opened the door and let her in, I had her sit down on the bed. "Tell me - what is your favorite color?"

She looked at me as if she was puzzled. "…yellow." .

"A lovely choice, dear." As I replied, I had the walls' colors changed to that of a pale yellow and the color of the comforters on the bed, the color of dandelions. In surprise, the little girl gasped.

"Who… who are you? Where are we? Are you- ehm- are you a fairy?" She asked, her voice less tense.

"Oh, forgive me, I seem to remember everything but an introduction. Well, you could perhaps say I was a fairy… once upon a time." I answered, giving a little chuckle, watching as the little girl's eyes widened in curiosity. "Ah, yes, indeed I was. I had the most magnificent pair of wings, shining in the lightest of blue, bedazzled with tiny sapphire stones. Kind of like this:" I showed her the pendant around my neck. She let out a little gasp and I couldn't help but chuckle again.

"But that was a time long before you came. Now, my name is Blanche Von Haderach; I take care of the very place we are in right now: the Cygnus Archive. What is your name, my dear?"

"Amanda," is what she answers, twiddling with a bit of her jet-black hair. "My name is Amanda Wright."

"A beautiful name you have, Amanda." I remember taking a moment to think before saying, "Ah, yes. Do let me fix this dress of yours." With a small wave of my hand, I mended her dress. She uttered a thank you in response.

After this, Amanda and I continued to talk for a bit. The poor child had separated from her family from Level 1 when a Skin Stealer attacked their camp. One of her guardians gave one of my books to her and told her to come here! It was terrible, hearing about it. At some point she had been brought to tears. I took great care in consoling her until she had fallen asleep.

A few hours came by; I was in the middle of contacting my wonderful friends from the M.E.G. to see if anyone could try and retrieve her family when, suddenly, Amanda shrieked from her room. I got up, went in a fast as I could, and saw her crying. I tried asking her what happened, though she told me it was a night terror and nothing more. Seeing as it was indeed a night terror when I couldn't help but delve into her thoughts, I in turn said nothing more.

A few days had gone by since waiting for the M.E.G. to come take her— as such, she and I took quite the pleasure playing around the Cygnus Archive. Although I liked going deep into my work and research, it felt… refreshing taking this break. A new kind of break. The feeling of… being a child. She taught me to play games I could only ever hear in stories, like hide-and-seek and tag. Though, it was admittedly hard not to win so easily with my control over my home, hehehe…

Though, on the last day I had her, I noticed she was getting increasingly tired. Often while we ate, I'd catch her dozing off on the armchair, leaning into my arm. When I would ask her if she'd like a nap, she'd quickly refuse, insisting she didn't need one and would start playing again. I was worried for Amanda, you see; that same day, I decided to check on her when she went to sleep. There she was, walking around the room in some sort of panic in the dark. I switched on the lamp and she turned around to me, her eyes puffy and red.

"Amanda, my dear! What's wrong?" I remember asking. She shook her head no, not wanting to answer. "Please, dear. I can't let any of my guests go through such stress under my care. Especially not a guest quite so wonderful as you."

She bit her lip and sat on the bed; I sit beside her.

"Please, my child. You can tell me anything."

Amanda began to cry. "Miss Blanche… It's… it's just… these nightmares, they never stop - I find myself in the scariest of ballrooms and I get chased by these scary monsters in masks! When I turn around, a big, scary man in one of those doctor's coats would make me wear one, too…"

Remaining calm, I questioned, "Have… how long have you had these dreams, dear?"

"A very, very long time, Miss Blanche." She told me, rubbing her eyes. "It used to stop when my mama got me this big, pink dinosaur plushie… but with it and my mama gone…" She didn't continue. I wiped her eyes and took her in my arms for a while, waiting until her cries died down.

"You know, if you'd like, I could take these terrors away from you, for good." I offered.

"Really?"

"Of course. But only with your permission." She nodded, quickly, adjusting herself on the bed.

I smiled and took her hand, closed my eyes, and slipped into the depths of her mind.

With this particular nightmare coming up frequently, I must admit that it was not too difficult to find it— especially within quite a young mind like Amanda's. After a few minutes of walking, I found the dream, hidden behind two large, marble doors. It was strange to see that, when I entered, the ballroom she mentioned was very, very large. It felt as if I had shrunk! Nonetheless, it was quite enchanting - the walls were covered in gold and marble swirls; pillars lining the ballroom, and a grand, glass chandelier on the ceiling. There was music playing in the background, now that I think about it - played with a harpsichord, I believe…. Harpsichords are quite wonderful, you know? I know singing is more of your style, but I still recommend you give it a try.

I apologize, I'm getting off track. Continuing on…

Anyway, there wasn't much time to look after; just as Amanda said, there were these dark, (shadow-like, perhaps?) masked entities coming my way. I turned around and there that doctor was, walking towards me with a mask of his own.

At that moment, I had to act, quickly, before the nightmare ended. I knew I had the choice to suppress Amanda's nightmare until she was older, but… I didn't want her to go through it again in the future. Lifting my hands towards the entities, I closed them into fists and pulled them towards me. As I did, the nightmare began pulling apart, pieces of it shrinking and floating towards my head. Soon enough, I had taken every last bit of the night terror from her head, leaving only a white, serene space. After making sure she'd be alright, I left her mind and opened my eyes.

"Do you feel better?" I asked as she nodded. I tucked her back into bed, rubbing her head. As I stood up and began making my way back out, I felt her clutch onto my sleeve.

"I… I know I said I felt better… but could you stay a little longer? Just… just until I fall asleep. Please, Miss Blanche." She pleaded, looking away. How could I say no? Just then, I had an idea.

"Wait here."

I quickly came out and retrieved the gift one of my friends had given me and a little poem I had been inspired to write one fateful night and came back to the room.

"Here. How about a lullaby?" I asked, unlocking the golden lock on the red velvet book. "I've found lullabies are perfect for sleeping, even for older people like me." She nodded and I smiled, opening the book. From there, I began to sing to the melody of the book's song…

Oh, you wanted to listen to it? Of course! I'd be happy to share such a wonderful gift with you. Pardon me, let me fetch the book…. Here! Do mind my voice, I may not be the most skilled singer. Ready? Alright….

Now come, dear child, do stay a while
Hear my soft ballade
The endless halls and darkened palls
Are merely a facade
Stay with me and we shall read
Of skies grey and blue
So come, I call, as you fall
Into walls of yellow hues.

From mountain tops and corner shops
With you I shall stay
The storms, they may envelop us,
But with me you'll be safe
Page by page and on the stage
This will remain true:
You see, you may come back to me
From those walls of yellow hues.

And with that, she had fallen asleep.

The next day she was to be picked up. Her family had been found, albeit injured. Part of me was saddened to see her go; I still am. I packed her a small sack of chocolate biscuits and took her into a tight embrace.

"I must thank you for meeting. You have been the most delightful guest I've ever had in a while." I began, tucking a stray hair of hers behind her ear. She smiled, but it faded.

"Will I ever get to see you again, Miss Blanche?" She asked me, tears welling up in her eyes. I wiped them away before they could fall.

I took out a small book, one that played the same song from my gift. "I couldn't exactly replicate it, but here: if you're ever to have nightmares again or if you simply want comfort, you can listen to the song again." I opened the book and a softer version of the lullaby began to play. I showed her, at the end of the book: my signature. "If you ever want to come back here again, be it for biscuits or another game of tag, just swipe your index finger over my signature. Understood?" She took the book, nodded, and hugged me again, tightly. For what felt like the first time… a tear had fallen from my face.

"Thank you, Miss Blanche. For everything."

Just then, the team popped into the library. We said our goodbyes and watched as she left.

And that was the end.

…Blanche?

Yes?

For you to use that given gift was fine, but I didn't think you truly meant mine!

Pfft, Bella. Do forgive me, it happened in the moment… besides, it truly made me happy to be able to share it with another person.

Fine, fine, it's fine by me. But only because it's made you happy. All I'd like know in the end, is what happened to your little friend?

Ah, Amanda? She's been well. She's visited twice last week, which was ever wonderful.

Mm, I see, I see, I see. Far more often than me.

Indeed. Ah, no more about my stories. How about you? Any pranks that you've pulled again?"

Oh, yes, yes! Where shall I start? So many things, so many parts….


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