The stairs being of wood, not Grandma’s bone-breaking stone, Klukelunnen would have happily climbed them. But the giantess Neat Fleur wouldn’t have it. She scooped him up one-handedly and held him securely against her generous pillow-like chest. She smelled … nice, not at all like the Nixies. Neither was that pillowy chest at all like theirs, all grown so heavy they dragged down to their waists, leaving nothing breast-like upon their chests.
“Where …?” he asked on the chance she might answer. So far, her record of listening to him AND answering was slenderer than a shard.
But wonder of wonders: “My room,” she told him. “Those guys at Anthropology can whistle a tune; you’re mine—at least while it rains. Mine to do with as I wish.”
Klukelunnen gulped. That sounded … ominous. His head filled with every jawman’s Heroic tale of Giants, and of Giants and Pixies and Nixies and Stones—particularly of the Giantess and the Stone. Well, no matter what—he set his jaw firm—he would not wed her. Besides, he wasn’t a hero. He was here by mistake, a spell gone wrong.
She kicked open the door. “Tra-lah!” And to his relief she put him down.
He’d no time to look round. There was one thing he needed, and needcd NOW!
“I need a pee. Where’d I go?”
“A …?” That seemed to frighten her. He jiggled from foot to foot, knees jammed tight, legs crossing, uncrossing, while she held a finger to lips and looked … kind of perplexed.
“Have you no channel? A hole? A urinal? Needn’t be fancy. Only I don’t want to pee on your rug, and I might have to. SOON!”
That spurred her to action. Her rug was smooth as moss on water-worn chalk, though all-over patterned in a bewilderment of colours. This shouldn’t be called the Land of Giants; better would be the Land of Colours. Not that Home was such a dismal grey place. Yet he had to admit it never could equal nor rival this. And he still needed to pee. Desperately.
She picked him up—“Mind the bladder! Don’t press!”—and, kicked open another door to deposit him in a white-stone and glass cubicle with a floor patterned in regular bumps.
“There,” she said and pointed to a silver-ringed hole in the far corner as if he needed the showing.
He turned his back to her. He’d prefer to wait for her to vacant his vicinity, but it seemed she intended to linger, and he couldn’t wait any longer. Oh, the relief! He peed and he peed and he peed. He thought the stream never would end.
Eventually, he laced his pants.
Now to clamber over the rim of this convenient construction. He’d rather the struggle up and risk the tumble than to have her handle him again. She watched from a distance, arms crossed beneath her black encased bosoms, no attempt made to help him. In fact, she seemed to be smiling. Amused at what she thought would be his antics? But that shining white barrier reached only his waist. And a deep shaggy piled carpeted the other side, where she stood. He did a quick leg up and slithered down, feet sinking deep in the shaggy carpet.
“Don’t move,” she said and reached over him, into the cubicle, and Hey presto’d her magic. Lo! a veritable cascade fell from the heights, all cleanly contained by the white-rock and glass walls, to gurgle away down the silver-rimmed hole. “Neat, hey?”
“Neat?” he queried.
“Yea, neat. Clever. Simple. Ingenious. A mark of this world.”
Klukelunnen frowned while his head coped with the mental sums. On first meeting, when he’d given his name, she had replied that hers was ‘Neat’. Yet her unrelated sib, Jace, had called her Fleur with no slither of ‘Neat’. What if he’d mistaken her intent: that she hadn’t said ‘Neat’ as her given name, but rather as a compliment to him? Which meant …? Hey, she thought him clever! He nodded. He grinned. This Fleur wasn’t so bad, after all.
She allowed him the freedom of her room. He ran all over, looking at this, at that … was that a bed! No thin mattress upon the floor, here. And mirrors, mirrors, everywhere. Apparently, Fleur liked the look of herself. But it was that transparent glass that held Klukelunnen transfixed the longest. Or rather, what was happening beyond it.
He’d seen cascades before—there was one in Gruff’s Cavern—but they tended to fall from a hole in the rock, and be localised, the edges clearly seen. Not here. Not in this Colourful Land of Giants. The water was falling everywhere, for as far as he could see. But he could see only as far as—were they trees, like in the jawmen’s stories? And looking up … well, if there was rock up there it was at an unfathomable height. Then again, another difference: a cascade fell. Like, it fell and fell and fell. Though once in a while it might stop. But not here. If he understood it right, here it was unusual for it to fall, usual for it to stop.
“Hey, Big Boy.”
Klukelunnen looked around him. Who else was here in the room? As far as he could see there was only him and … Fleur.
She had removed that black casing and allowed her breasts to … oh, wow! He could feel the blood rushing to all his places—though mostly to his face; he could feel himself blushing. Nay, nothing like a Nixie’s chest, that.
“You like?” she asked him, doing things to those … things … that she really should not.
He took a deep breath. And he ought to turn around, again to study the rain.
“You want to see more?” she asked, her voice gone all breathy.
He closed his mouth, teeth cutting deep into his lip. But he couldn’t hold it; he let out an appreciative whistle. She smiled. Grinned. Chuckled. And unbuckled her belt.
He tried not to watch how those … things … bobbed and wobbled and moved about. It wasn’t that he’d never seen … he had cousins and aunts. Though his aunts mostly had snakes for bottoms.
She dropped the belt. It landed, curled like a snake at her feet. She hooked her thumbs into the top of her shiny black pants. He turned around. No, he mustn’t see this. This was going a stripe too far. Yet … he peeped over his shoulder. She saw. And grinned, her snaky tongue between teeth and lip. He hid his head under his arms.
Oh, the urge to look … his curiosity … would she have a snake for her bottom, too? But, nay, he had seen her two legs. Legs divided. Seen where they …Nay, nay, nay, Elunnen, just keep those eyes closed. You know what she’s up to; you’ve heard the stories. She’ll have you wed and captured here and … But he couldn’t stay turned; he looked—just a glance—turned fully around. And his eyes travelled from her naked knees up … licking his lips. But, Nix, nix, nix, he counter-spelled her. She wouldn’t trick him to wed her.
His spell didn’t work.
“You want to touch?” she asked him.
Nay, he did not, did not, did not. Oh, but aye, he did. He snapped his betraying hands away, clutching them with fierce determination behind his back. And she leaned over him—in all her pinky-nakedness—and pried those apart.
“You guys are all alike,” she said—teased. “Always trying to sneak a look, yet when offered a touch, you turn shy.”
“I … I …” He struggled against the pull of her hands.
And the door burst open.
Relief slid through him, even more blissful than when he’d peed.
“Jason’s door is locked!” stormed a female voice.
Fleur released him and turned to look. “How many times, Daisy! Knock before entering.”
“Have you had that waxed, Fleur? How disgusting. Does Mum know? You do realise that’s a sign of not wanting to admit you’re a woman—like anorexia: a refusal to grow up.”
By now Fleur had grabbed a silky robe and wrapped it around her.
“Too late,” the intruder, Daisy, said. She’d quite a nasty tongue. “I’ve seen it now. And what’s … Hey, what is that?” She was looking directly at Klukelunnen. Klukelunnen was looking at her.
Shorter than Fleur and without the sapphire hair—hers was more the colour of topaz or citrine, held in two unruly clutches to either side of her head. Yet she had the same emerald eyes (absent the deep blackness around them). Indeed, no black for her, but a frock of riotous colours, tightly gathered around her inconspicuous breasts, that fell in full folds to her naked knees. She had short white socks and besandalled feet.
“That,” Fleur answered, “is a Hobbit. And what are you doing, home already and barging in here? And what does it matter if Jace has locked himself in his room?”
“Mum said to tell Jason the moment I came in—did you know it’s raining? Really ruined Jasmine’s barbeque—but don’t worry, her mum brought me home. Brought us all home. But how dismal for Jazzy. And that’s not a Hobbit. Hobbits are taller. At least three feet, maybe four—fictional and Flores. Is it real?”
“Of course, I am real,” Klukelunnen answered the girl, Daisy.
“I’m taking him to the guys at Anthropology,” Fleur said.
“But there’ll be no one there,” Daisy said. “Not after four a’ clock on a Friday. No one there now till Monday morning.”
“Oh, fuck!” Fleur expleted, though she sounded like she didn’t mean it.
“I will take care of our little friend.” There was no doubt in Daisy’s tone, that she intended to claim him.
“You can’t. He’s mine.” Fleur stepped in front of him.
This talk of Fridays and Mondays meant nothing to Klukelunnen. But if holding his hand out to this shorter, smaller, non-sexualised Daisy stole him away from the luscious Fleur’s lascivious company, then he’d hold out his hand. He’d cling to her leg. He would plead for her to take him away. But that wasn’t needed.
“Would you rather I tell Mum about you being waxed? And what I caught you doing with this little fellow? This innocent little fellow.” She scooped him up—Klukelunnen allowed it without a struggle. “Come on, little fellow. I have just the place for you—since she killed my Flopsy and Peeps.”