"It's really great to see you, Fuzz," said Lukus, as Tors bore him alongside. "Maybe we can talk, now that we don't have to go single file. How long have you been changed back?" He realized that this might be an awkward question in the midst of asking it. "You've no idea how much Rose and I have missed you."
"Actually," said Fuzz as he stretched his neck, "my transformation is right recent and I'm not sure I've completely adjusted to the change. I was a bear for a lot of years, but I've no reason not to expect that things will all come back to me in time." He nodded at Rose. "You know I'm finally beginning to question whether she's missed me or not. This change of mine still has me feeling awkward all over, but have I done something to offend her?"
"Don't you see?" said Lukus with an amused look.
"Rose is eaten up with jealousy."
"Just how?" sputtered Fuzz. "Me? Surely not."
"Absolutely," said Lukus rocking forward with a chuckle.
"You're not a bear for one thing."
"Well, I suppose not, but that is all she's known me as, Lukus, and I'm old enough to be her grandfather. She can't possibly think of me in any other way."
"Ha! I don't remember a looking glass in your den, Fuzz, but if there is one, I'd lay great odds you've not peeped in it. You may be old as the hills in years, but you don't look much older than Rose. It looks like you stopped aging when Ugleeuh turned you into a bear. Why, you're downright handsome."
"Well, yes, I guess that's what they used to say," said Fuzz, with an uncomfortable blush, "but I'd still think that would be unlikely quick for Rose to..."
"Wrong again," said Lukus, bouncing with glee on Tors's back, as Tors swung a sympathetic look in Fuzz's direction. "Remember Spark's glamourie in the Grog Meadows?"
"Oh, you're right," said Fuzz with very wide eyes. "She saw me as I was when I was still Captain of the Guard at Castle Niarg, when we were trying to deceive the Grogs."
"Yea. And she's had a thing for you ever since that she refuses to admit...just like you've had for her. Ah...ah...ah, don't deny it. Don't you dare deny it, 'cause it was written all over your face back then, just as it is this very minute."
"You seem to have turned into an Elf, Lukus, reading me like that."
Lukus threw back his head with a vigorous laugh. "I'm married to one, actually."
"My word. Could it possibly be the very one Rose would pester you about those years ago when we were fleeing together?" said Fuzz, as Taflu suddenly fluttered into the air, escaping his notice altogether.
"Indeed. She's my utter ecstasy. And we expect a son."
"Oh, wonderful. I'm so very happy for you..."
"Yea, thank you. And you're dodging, Fuzz. I can't believe you didn't know Rose felt the same way about you."
"That's all right, Fuzz," said Lukus with a merry smile. "I'm not trying to give you a hard time. Rose is doing that. And don't worry, she'll come right around as soon as you convince her that there's nothing between you and Myrtlebell."
"Myrtlebell!" gasped Fuzz. "Of course there's nothing between Myrtlebell and me. She and Edward were in dire need and I took her in. I'm her friend, but only in a patronly sort of way, don't you know. Nothing more. Is that what she thinks, that Myrtlebell and I are lovers? Good word! I was beginning to think this was about Rotundra."
Lukus threw back his head for another laugh as Fuzz peered at Rose in shock. "That's what's got her all huffed up. But it'll work out, Fuzz. You'll see," he said, on the verge of another eruption of laughter.
"I swear," said Fuzz. "You've become more of an Elf than you may realize."
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps