Minion and my next story is not quite ready, so instead of doing nothing she is throwing out some more of her second Grey novel. She meant to throw out some of the first, but she got to editing this one and lost track of time.

Grey sat on a stone bench in a shallow alcove cursing whatever sadistic fool invented the corset. Skirts too wide to fit through a standard car door were not high on her list of favorites, either, but sitting for hours on a unpadded stone bench in borrowed Louis the XIV court dress looking ornamental without even a book to help pass the time would make most people a bit touchy. Grey hated sitting on the sidelines, especially when she was the one called in to deal with the situation.

Never doubt that she could, quite easily, have dealt with the issue herself, thank you very much. Well maybe not easily, but she could have done it. A nyriad living in the garden’s grotto had started getting a bit to…homicidal when it came to tourists throwing small metal projectiles at her in the hopes of wish fulfillment. However, in spite of eyes naturally the color of old garnets and hair that rivaled rain-washed spring grass, Grey was too human for the water spirit to converse with, and her half-brother Iohar was too Sidhe, too dead, and much too pink to sit in the public eye and hide the grotto’s entrance while negotiations went on.

It would be a little unfair to kill the naked lady in the pool for defending herself after decades of assault in her own home, even if none of her attackers had any idea that is what they were doing. Of course many human versus Other authorities did not look at the issue that way, and if Iohar did not light a fire under it so that Grey could change back into her own clothes soon, she might just start to agree with them. At least that is what  she grumbled to herself as another family came into view around the corner of the hedge maze, complete with cameras, and sticky fingered children. Grey forced a smile and flicked open her fan with a snap and swore under her breath that vengeance would be hers once she and Iohar finished with that case. He may have died to save her when a lightning happy man burned a house down around them. And he might also be hanging around from beyond the veil to protect her rather than rebuilding his body for a triumphant come back like an ordinary member of his kind, but that could only get him so far.

Grey shifted, trying to ease where the whale bone in the corset was excavating tunnels into her flesh. The garment stretched just a touch to long for Grey’s torso. She had not even noticed the disparity at first and if she could just stand up, the problem would ease considerably, or if Grey could use her Glamour to lengthen her torso just an inch or so. Instead she had to blunt her tail bones maintaining the spell which made the grotto entrance into an alcove with a stone bench and a figure in period dress to pull attention from the anomaly.

When Grey once again had the stretch of hedge maze to herself, she collapsed the silk fan with a sharp sound and started to slap the palm of her other hand with it. Grey gritted her teeth and forced herself to release the fragile bit of frippery and allow it to dangle from the bit of ribbon around her wrist before she broke the pretty thing and started to tear the broken bits into tiny pieces. The fan was borrowed with the dress, and the mess would be hard to explain to the next bunch of tourists.

“So, are you ready to go yet, or would you like to laze about here having your picture taken for awhile longer?” an amused tenor voice asked out of the air at Greys left shoulder.

Grey did not bother to look around. Even though the walls of hedges left her perch mostly in shadow, Iohar could not manage human coloring, features, and solidity while under the open sky during the sun’s reign over the land, so mostly he did not bother with visibility at all where normal people might see him. Before death, Iohar stood a good fifteen centimeters over Grey’s one hundred eighty-two. Without Glamour, Iohar was ‘blessed’ with skin, hair, eyes, even teeth in various shades of pink such that he seemed likely to dissolve in a good downpour. Some might think that invisibility was to be preferred, though Iohar’s coloring never seemed to bother him any.

“You will get yours, dead man,” Grey grumbled, shifting again where she sat. “What did you settle on? I want to get this over with so I can return this dress intact rather than wait until the surgeons have to cut it off me before removing the stays forcibly implanted in some rather tender places.”

“You humans can be so fragile sometimes,” the disembodied voice said, and Grey could all but see the mock solicitous look on her half-brother’s face.

“So says the one to afraid to present me with a body solid enough to punch,” Grey grumbled. Iohar just laughed in response.

“If you are up to a little spell weaving, we can wrap up this little piece of conflict and be on our way.” Iohar offered and Grey sighed in relief. She had a decent, for a mortal, amount of magical oomph at her disposal but that sort of thing took decades of study and practice to use on the fly with any kind of efficiency, accuracy, and finesse. Iohar had over two hundred years of study and practice to draw from, but something about being the ghost of a sidhe (who was not supposed to be able to become a ghost at all) severed his connection to the power. He found somethings his new state allowed him to do, but he was making it up as he went, so mostly he coached Grey through things instead.

“So what are we doing here?” Grey asked, standing up to stretch and dropping the Glamour she held. The alcove and bench melted away leaving Grey standing in a stone arch bordered by hedges with a wide, shallow pool running up to an artificial hill.

“We are going to close this door and hide it from sight and memory for a year and a day to let her come to terms with her grief before she has to deal with mortals again.” Before Grey could ask any more questions like just what the lady was grieving, or any more tourists could stumble on the scene, the sourceless voice switched to teacher mode and set Grey to gathering nine small stones, no different than any of the others around those gardens. Grey squatted under the arch, looking like a fat, lumpy candle stuck in a squashed puff pastry in her borrowed skirts. She would have felt silly cradling her new collection and parroting the words which came to her out of the empty air if she could not feel the power building between her hands. After the incantation ended, Grey carefully placed each stone where a phantom finger indicated.

When she stood, Grey found herself nose first in rather too intimate contact with a bland stretch of hedge. Branches and leaves poked at her and threatened to catch in the lace edging her neckline. Very carefully, Grey edged back into the middle of the path. It did not matter if the hedge existed only in her mind through the hyper-real illusions called Glamour or if she conjured solid, living plants of pure magic to fill the gap, the damage if she tore the frills would be just as permanent, and Grey just did not want to deal with the results.

Crying women did not fall within her job description. Punching them mostly just made the problem worse and while shooting them would work, she would have trouble justifying that action. Magic might work, but subtler, gentler workings of power like that were even harder to get right than the trick with the hedge.

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