There was a storm of butterflies outside my room, as if someone had broken open a kaleidoscope and thrown the colors into the air and those colors had stayed, floating, whirling.
The butterflies are actually the demi-fey, and Merry gets to relive the time that Queen Niceven and her pretty subjects ate Galen's penis. On the one hand, this is bringing an old plot element back and making it relivant to the plot. On the other--why is Galen's trauma something Merry gets to relive? Seeing your loved ones get hurt sucks, but there's a world of difference between being a witness and being the guy being chewed on.
Niceven gets a nice work up on how pretty she is, and beautiful and angelic. Look, I like making the bad guys pretty. I want the pretty elves to be the sons of bitches at least once. But this isn't that. This is "I forgot this person ATE MY LOVER we're going to talk about how pretty shiny princess they are for a paragraph."
Merry thinks in a "Gee I'm not complaining, but..." way about how Galen is too traumatized for them both to approach the demi-fey so she can speak "royal to royal".
Because attempting to hold the fey responsible for eating someone is apparently not done. Doyle goes up to talk to her instead, at which point Niceven throws an absolute fit because Merry didn't greet her by herself. Merry doesn't respond at all, so Niceven and the demi-fey straight up attack her.
Galen stops them with flowers. Because apparently he has the Wicked Witch of the West's Poppies spell hidden in his shorts because why the fuck not.
And then Galen starts handling the demi-fey because PTSD? What PTSD! You're only scared when your abusers are awake.
If Galen is too scared of the demi-fey to get near them, he should be too scared to touch them. It's not a thing of awake or not awake. It's a thing of stimulating memories of utter fucking terror and having to deal with them.
I have an official diagnosis of Major Depression and PTSD, and had a conversation the other day with my mental health guru (...aka Mom. Who does this shit for a living) PTSD is cured by therapy--by drawing out the memories until the feelings attached to them have dulled enough for you to handle. I do not know how accurate this is because I'm not willing to do that yet.
In short: You can't cure it by knocking out your abuser. It might make it feel better short term, but PTSD has nothing to do with current circumstances. It's the memories that are the problem, and it's not the consious memories, but rather the ones that are invoked by tactile sensations--ie feeling a warm tiny body in your palm.
Niceven is pitching a fit because Sage is sidhe and she wants Sage back, so she's using excuses to break her deal with Merry. Because of course this is about men. Sage was Niceven's vampire proxy and, she says, no one else is willing to 'lose their wings' by drinking Merry's blood. Except that Sage became Sidhe because he had sex with Merry, not just blood drinking. A demi-fey without wings volunteers to be vampire-proxy instead, and I'm really wondering what all this has to do with the plot we just lost. Also, these fey are twins, which means they get named things like "Penny&Royal" because twins don't get their own names, apparently.
Niceven then states that no, she's pitching a fit because Merry had a murder suspect imprisoned without asking nicely, and that it wasn't cool, she should have asked first. Merry agrees. Then she waxes eloquent about Royal's back wing tattoo. LKH takes a minute to show off her biology degree by naming the species of butterfly with the scientific name first. It's the kind that looks vaguely like tree moss.
Royal also has a lot of glamour, because attraction between people is...uh, icky? Anyway. everybody goes on about that for a minute and Rhys says "He does know he's not getting sex, right?"
Galen answered, “Me, but, truthfully, I’m not sure I can do it. I may have apologized for us, but I still don’t want them touching me.” “You touch one of us right now,” Niceven said. Galen glanced down at the still sleeping fey in his hand. “But that’s different,” he said. “In what way is it different?” she asked. “This one’s not scary.” He motioned his hand up toward Niceven.Again: PTSD DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY.
Galen is scared of Royal. Royal is turned on by Galen's fear.
Galen is told that the Seelie court might take him in if he "offers them more power". Because of course he does.
Niceven and Merry have the prerequisite pissing contest for a while. It goes exactly nowhere, but a bunch of the men get involved. Everybody--including ALL of the demi-fey--go into Merry's bedroom for happy fun sexy times. End of chapter.