(Sorry for the long gap between posts on this. I’ve been working on another more pressing WIP. I’m almost ready to devote more attention to my novels.)
Tawny eyed the faeries, not coming too much closer. “Where did you find them, Tracie? Outside?” She took in little Gracie in the small tub of herbal tea, and watched her splash it about playfully, seeming to be unaware of her existence. “That one’s really little….” The girl pointed to Gracie, who stopped splashing, and watched her.
“That’s Gracie. She’s Felix’s sister. They’re… they’re alone right now.” Tracie realized that Gracie probably wasn’t aware of what had actually happened to her mother. She would have to choose her words carefully. She gave her sister a look that said she’d better remember to do the same thing. Tracie led Tawny over to the greenhouse. Felix stood up, interest plain on his face as Tawny got a little closer. “This is Felix, and that over there is Marlon, and his brother, Teri.” Neither of the other boys got up, and Tracie saw Felix give them a dirty look. “They’re friends of mine now, Tawny. I’m going to help them get to a safe place.”
“Dad isn’t going to be happy. You know the bad men meet here.” Tawny eyed Gracie, not sure what the little one knew. “We’d be idiots to allow the faeries to stay here even for one night.”
“What?!” Felix’s eyes went large, and he frowned. “Tracie, is it true? They come here?” Now Marlon and Teri were at his side, Marlon looking ready to murder something. “You brought us here, knowing that?” Felix stalked over to the tea bath where Gracie had stopped splashing to listen. Her eyes were round, taking in Felix’s sudden change of mood. She didn’t argue when her brother pulled her from the bath, and helped her dry off. “We’re leaving. We’ll find our own way.”
“But I want to stay with Tracie…” Gracie began to whine, trying to pull away from her brother’s tightening grip. “Felix, you can’t make me leave! You’re not my Daddy!”
Felix scowled, exasperation plain in his next words. “Grace Lightfeather, as far as you’re concerned, I am your brother, your father, and your mother from now on. You will do what you’re told, now stop it.” Felix instantly felt bad for his choice of tone. Gracie did stop fighting with him, but she went over to Marlon instead, crying into his chest.
“That was cold.” Tracie spoke with a note of disapproval. “Felix, she’s a scared little girl. You can’t talk to her like that.” Tracie held out a hand for Felix to climb into, but he glared it instead. “Look, I wasn’t intending on us spending the night here. I came back only to get a few things, and my sister. Remember?”
“You want me to come with you?” Tawny blinked. “If we both go missing, wouldn’t that be suspicious?” Tawny blinked when Tracie shook her head. “I don’t like it, Trace. What if they DO become alarmed? Won’t they realize…?”
“Nope.” Tracie took out a pen and paper, and began to write, and when she finished, she held it up to Tawny. “They’re going to think you’re with Beth.”
“Maybe I can help with that….” Marlon looked up at Tracie then, Felix’s sister attached to his hip. “I… I might be able to.”
“Don’t make promises you’re not intent on keeping, Marlon.” Felix hissed. He sat on the edge of the green house tray, sulking. He watched Gracie wind her little arms around Marlon firmly. Sighing, the young faerie boy turned to Tracie. “So. Let’s say we leave with you. Where exactly are you planning to take us this time? Your last idea failed miserably, remember?” His voice sounded like acid, and it wasn’t the way Tracie wanted to hear him. Though she could hardly blame him.
“Look, in truth, I honestly forgot. I just wanted to help you guys. That’s all I was thinking about.” Tracie squatted so that she was at more of an eye level with her friend. “Felix, please forgive me. I would never put you, your sister or your friends in danger on purpose.”
“Fine.” He got up, going back to the greenhouse. Felix silently disappeared into the house, the makeshift plastic door shut behind him. Tracie sighed, taking a guess that Felix was not ready to trust her again just yet. She turned her attention to Marlon then. “What is it you can do?”
“I had begun to notice before all of this stuff began that I can use magic incantations to give people the sense that a situation is different from the way it really is. It’s almost a form of glamour.”
“You never used it on me, did you?” Teri eyed his brother with a look of mistrust.
“Of course not. Maybe on Mom or Dad, but not you. I don’t have to. you listen to me anyway.” Marlon gave his brother a wicked smile when the boy scowled. He returned his attention to Tracie as he set Gracie down. “It won’t hurt anyone.”
Tracie hoped her face hid the doubt she was feeling. Marlon looked so much like he wanted to help, and the girl was grateful for that. She just wondered if his mind glamour was going to work well enough to hold while she figured out their next move. “How long does it hold?”
“The last time I did it to one of my kind, it lasted overnight. I think I could probably make it last longer if I really tried, but then I would have to rest immediately. That much magick uses a lot of energy.”
Tracie was about to open her mouth, but Tawny stepped in front of her. “Maybe you can sleep in my new FaePouch. It used to belong to Benny….” It was clear to Tracie that Tawny considered Marlon to be a lot like Benny.
“Benny?” Marlon gave Tracie a questioning look. “Who was that?”
“Benny was her faerie. He’s believed to be dead, but he disappeared before the exterminations began. We’re not entirely sure.” Tracie put an arm around her sister, who looked like she was on the verge of tears. “I think Benny would be so proud of you for helping his kind out like this, Tawny. I know I am.” Tracie hugged her sister tightly, then smiled as Marlon climbed down carefully to meet the palm that Tawny held out to him.
“It would be my pleasure to ride in your FaePouch, Tawny.” Marlon sat down comfortably in Tawny’s palm, then looked up at Tracie again. “I’m going to need to know the people’s names involved, and then some time to relax right before I perform the incantation.”
“We can do that.” Tawny answered before Tracie could. “Do you want to see my room?” She was relaxing with the faerie in her hand now. “It’s got all kinds of faerie books.”
“Well…” Marlon smiled after a minute. “Sure!” Tracie got the impression that he was humoring her sister, and that made Marlon even more okay in her book. She watched him glance back to Teri. “You’ll be okay, right?”
“Go on, Big brother.” Teri said. He tossed a small rock to Gracie, the two of them intent on a impromptu game of catch inside the small tray. “We’ll be okay. Felix is still here.” Teri nodded once towards the greenhouse which remained closed.
“Okay.” Marlon glanced to Tracie again. “You’ll keep an eye on them too, right?” Tracie realized that Marlon was worrying about more than just leaving his brother alone.
“Oh sure.” Tracie turned to her sister then. “Just be careful.” Tawny merely nodded before leaving her sister’s room. Tracie sighed, stretching out on her unmade bed. She watched over Teri and Gracie, keeping one eye on the greenhouse. “Hey, Gracie… do you think he’s going to be mad at me forever?”
“Nah. He likes you lots, Tracie.” Gracie smiled up at her. “You’re not how I thought humans were….”
“I bet.” Tracie could just imagine what Gracie and Teri both thought humans were supposed to be like. “Most of us aren’t as cruel as the bad men.”
“I like you, Tracie.” Teri allowed then. “You’re taking a big risk doing what you’re doing.” He saw Gracie yawn. “I should probably take her in to see Felix.” He didn’t say anymore as he took Gracie by the hand and went into the little greenhouse. Tracie heard them talking in low voices, but couldn’t make out what was being said. Teen sighed, and crawled up to her pillow and rested her head on it, and shutting her eyes. She didn’t want to sleep, but she thought taking a few moments to rest her eyes wouldn’t be a bad idea.