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Black Magic Sanction

Black Magic Sanction: Page 71

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"She's taken it upon herself to live among my enemies as a spy. She wants to go back, but she needs eyes with her. I want you to go with her. All of you."

Sidereal looked at Ceri, then me. "Why would I help her?" he said, anger in his lisp.

"I brought you to this, not her." Sidereal ran his hand forward from his chin outward, and guessing that was fairy for "say your piece," I took a breath. "She lives in Kalamack's gardens."

His silver eyebrows rose again. He was interested, and I felt a stirring of hope. "There are no birds, no pixies, nothing," I said, and Sidereal glanced up into the tree, clearly wanting to share this with someone. "You could live there unnoticed, spying for her. For my benefit."

Sidereal's wicked grin made me shiver. "That might be acceptable to my people," he lisped. "I want to leave someone here, though."

Oh, really? Curious, I held my filthy foot, trying to warm it. "Why?"

The fairy's shoulders slowly rose and fell as he tried a human shrug. "To better kill you if you plan treachery."

I smiled, liking his honesty, and after a shocked moment, he smiled back. It was a fair answer. Behind him, Ceri was teaching Jenks's kids a song of loss to help them deal with their grief. The four-part harmony was enough to break your heart.

"I won't be able to get Jenks to go for it, so pick someone who can hide well," I said, and he hissed. I looked at him in alarm until I realized he was laughing. "Talk to your people," I said as I stood and a whiff of pixy and witch came up from the coat. My hand came out, and he stared at it. "I have to get big," I explained. "This is likely the last time I'll see you my size. Big people clasp hands when they meet and part in goodwill."

His hand came up, and we touched. "In goodwill," he said, brow pinched.

Sidereal's fingers were too big around mine, and curiously rough. I felt like I was shaking hands with my dad. "And trust," I said and our hands parted.

The fairy smiled, making me shiver. Stepping back, he tangled his foot in the silken line, but then he paused. "When my people part, they say gentle updrafts."

"Gentle updrafts, Sidereal," I said softly. "I wish this hadn't happened, but maybe some good can come of it."

Long face quirking in a terrifying smile, he glanced up into the tree. "Who's to say why the Goddess chooses." He plucked the silken strand, and with the signal, he was hoisted up.

I didn't watch him go, instead turning to find Jenks. I was confident they'd go for it. All I'd have to do then was roll with the consequences of inviting dewinged, fanged fairies into Trent's backyard. God, they were savage looking. Served him right.

"Jenks?" I called, wanting to say good-bye.

Strands from my tattered braid flew everywhere when Jenks landed beside me. Clearly he'd been watching. His face was sallow, but anger still colored it.

"I don't like them creeping around the garden like spiders," he said, his feet still not touching the ground as he looked into the trees. His face turned to me, and the anger shifted, almost to panic, when he saw my expression. "You're leaving."

My heart gave a thump. "I'm just going to get big. I'm still here."

The winds of his emotions shifted, and his feet touched the ground. His eyes began to glitter, and he wiped them, disgusted with himself. "Tink's titties, I can't stop leaking dust." He took a breath and exhaled. Me getting big was going to be hard. I wished he'd come with me.

Heartache hit me again, and I gave him another hug, surprising him. His arms went around me, and I felt him hesitate when he didn't find wings at my back. The silken whisper of his brushed my fingers, and when he went to go away, I tightened my grip to linger a moment more. "I would have twisted a thousand curses to be with you today," I whispered.

Slumping, Jenks let his forehead thump into me. "It hurts," he whispered, his hands falling to his sides. "All the time. Even when I try."

Tears warmed my eyes, and I pulled back so I could look at him. "It will stop one day," I said as I gave his shoulders a squeeze. "Even without your trying, and then you'll feel guilty. After that, you'll wake up one morning, remember her, and smile."

He nodded, gaze directed down. God, it hurt to see him with such heartache.

"Are you sure you don't want to become big with me?" I asked again, and my hands fell from him as he wiped his eyes, shaking the glittering sparkles from himself.

"I don't like being your size," he admitted. "Nothing smells right. And my kids need me."

His kids needed him, I thought, feeling the fingers of relief steal into my soul. He felt needed. It was a start. Damn it, Matalina was really gone. "Come with me to the church?" I asked rather weepily. "Just to the door. Those pill bugs scare me."

Saying nothing, Jenks stilled his wings and dropped to the ground. Side by side, we started through the shoulder-high grass to the looming presence of the church. The steeple stood out black and strong against the pale blue of the sunset sky, and I wondered how Bis would take it when he woke up. Must be a bitch to be out of it so deeply.

"I don't know how you do this," I said as we detoured around a rock that was probably only the size of my thumb.

Jenks's wings shrugged. "It's easier when you can fly. They'll have a hard time of it."

He was talking about the fairies. "Feeling sorry for them?" I asked.

"Tink's panties, no!" he protested, but it was wispy and drained. Jenks turned at a thumping of feet, and I wasn't surprised to see Pierce jogging to catch up with us.

"You're of a mind to untwist the curse?" he asked, face shadowed in the dusk and the fire behind him. His features were indistinct, and I shivered again. It was so cold.

Pierce was on one side of me, Jenks on the other, and it was the safest I'd felt in a long time, though a snake could eat me. "I have to talk to Ceri about the fairies. I asked them to live with her," I said, and Pierce started, a happy grunt coming from him.

"That's an all-fired good scheme," he said, and Jenks looked over my head at him.

"Of course it's a good plan. Rache doesn't come up with stupid plans. She's always got an out. You just think she doesn't know what she's doing."

I wish. I held the coat tighter, my feet numb with cold. I'd been thinking all day about how I might get the coven off my back. They seemed to think that Trent could control me, so if I could control Trent, I might have a chance. Not through the familiar bond, but good old-fashioned manipulation. The Pandora charm had reminded me of an old tradition, one I needed to start again.

"Fairies in his garden," Jenks said, clearly liking the thought. "And wingless ones at that? Trent is going to be more unhappy than a skunk in a troll's garden."

Seeing him nearly smile, something went to my heart and twisted. God, I hoped he found a new love. But where? In a few years, he'd be the oldest pixy to ever live. He wasn't going to find anyone with the emotional experience he now had. He'd need that. Deserved it.

We reached the steps, and I looked up. It was only four steps, but they looked huge. Turning, I found Ivy watching. Ma-a-a-an, I did not want to be carried in like a baby.

Jenks's arm slipped around from behind me, and I gasped when my toes lifted and I was airborne. In three seconds flat, my bare feet were stumbling on the faded wood of the stoop.

"Holy crap! How about some warning?" I exclaimed, but I turned in his arms, not letting him go. This might be my last chance. "I'm sorry, Jenks," I said, giving him another hug. "Take what time you need. Ivy and I can finish this coven thing. I've got an idea."

He gave me a squeeze, then space appeared between us. "Just tell me where to fly, Rache. That's what I'm here for. I'll be ready."

Ivy was waiting at the bottom of the stairs, her hand on her hip. She could just stand there for a few moments more. Pierce, too. "This is hard," I said, sniffing.

"I'm not going anywhere," he said, his roving eyes returning. "You're going to be all right?"

Jenks looked across the garden to the sound of his children. "I think so. I've never done anything like this before."

I touched his arm, trying to smile. "You're good at doing new things."

Finally he looked at me, and the full force of his heartache hit me. My smile faltered, and tears threatened. "I... I'd better get Pierce," he said, and in a clattering of wings, he was gone.

Blinking hard, I looked at the fastened cat door. Where's Rex?

The stairs shook, and I stumbled when Ivy clomped up them. "You changing?" she asked quietly, but before I could answer, she opened the screen and interior door both.

An exuberant howl pulled my attention up to see Jenks flying past with Pierce dangling.

"That's something you don't see every day," Ivy muttered as they vanished into the hall and presumably to my bathroom where Ivy had put his clothes.

My kitchen looked awe inspiring from my new vantage point, and Ivy stayed behind me as I hugged the wall to my room.

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