“You were with Heather at that troubled teen workshop,” Diana said to Heather's aunt Jean as they entered the small living room.
Diana thought that a less nervous person might have characterized the room as “cozy”, but she felt trapped with only fifteen feet between the corners. The walls were covered with so many small oil paintings of various scenes throughout history that the burgundy paint under them was almost totally obscured. A small coffee table sat in the middle of the room, draped with lace, and surrounded by plush furniture in a tight orbit. A sliding glass door looked out on a postage-stamp sized enclosed patio with a recirculating fountain that seemed entirely too zen for the rest of the place.
Diana sank into the nearest plush chair as Heather and her aunt sat on the sofa across from her. She pondered Jean for a moment before curiosity won over manners. “I thought you and the man you were with were Heather's parents.”
Jean looked to Heather, worry creasing her brow for a moment before she schooled her expression. “That was my husband, Heather's uncle Robert.”
“My parents died when I was young” Heather said, to explain the look on her aunt's face.
“I'm so sorry,” Diana said. “You never told me.”
“It's okay. I don't remember anything about it.”
Diana read the expressions on Heather's face and her aunt's, and knew that there was more to the story; but she let it go. She nodded and held up the tartan for Heather's aunt Jean. “You wanted something personal from my Fae parents? I think this might be it.”
Jean took the tartan, unfolded it, and moved her hand under it like a magician. She started speaking what sounded like Latin, and began to fold the tartan like origami. Several moments passed, her hands moving with grace and speed, seeming to dance with the rhythm of the words she spoke.
Diana felt herself relaxing, and then almost fell into a trance as she watched. The motion of Jean's hands mesmerized her, as the tartan started to take shape. It took on the form of a little fairy doll.
“Your parents were both Fae,” Jean said, before unwrapping the tartan and starting again. Several minutes passed as the tartan took shape again. This time it resembled a small house.
“They lived in a small house when you were born.”
Several more minutes passed, but the shape the tartan took didn't make sense to Diana.
“You were born in Scotland.”
Diana sighed. “I knew that.”
“As opposed to having been born in the Faerie Realm, dear,” Jean said. “You were born in this realm. That matters.”
“You'll be weaker than most Fae, since your ties to Faerie are weaker. But your resistance to iron might be significantly better than a Fae born in their realm.”
Diana frowned. “You mean some Fae are more allergic to iron than I am?”
Jean's smile warmed the room as she unfolded the tartan and started to work it again. “It's not an allergy, dear. Iron disrupts Fae magic. And Fae are essentially pure magic in this world.”
“I don't understand,” Diana said.
Jean didn't respond. She'd already begun speaking Latin again.
A few minutes passed while Diana pondered everything she was hearing. Her life was making less sense with every turn of the stupid tartan. She wanted to interrupt and ask if there was a way to control her magic, but the tartan kept folding to the words. She barely noticed when an older woman entered the room and stood off to the side.
The gray-haired woman smiled and nodded as though to the room in general, before watching Jean. Her eyes seemed to focus at the wall beyond the tartan. Diana instinctively looked there, but saw nothing.
Jean stopped, unveiling a scene that looked like a girl mopping the floor. She unfolded the tartan and shook it out. “It would appear that the real Diana Jean Morgan is alive and well in Scotland.”
Heather stood and walked over to the gray-haired woman. “Diana, this is my grandmother, Prue.”
“It's short for Prudence,” the old woman said, stepping forward. She shambled, her feet scuffing the hardwood floor rather than actually lifting.
Diana rose and extended a hand to shake, but the old woman ignored it and gave Diana a hug that was tighter than seemed possible for a frail-looking old woman. She patted the old woman on the back as she gave Heather a bewildered look. “Um... okay. Hi. Prue.”
The old woman released her grip, and stepped back slightly, patting Diana on the arm, shoulder, then face. She seemed to be looking at Diana's neck until her hand reached her face. Then she looked up.
Diana stared at the woman's eyes, and frowned. They weren't focused on her, but more like behind her.
The old woman smiled as she held Diana's cheek in her hand. “It's so very nice to meet you, Sharon.”
“My name is Diana.”
“Yes, yes, of course. I can't imagine why I said that. It just popped into my head. This little voice. It's always saying things.”
Diana started to step back, but held herself still. “Wait. Did the voice say anything else?”
The old woman sighed and smiled, dropping her hand. Her voice took on a sing-song quality and tinge of Scottish brogue.
“A wee lass is no' a son;
so a bonny name she be needin' on,
we could've debated from dusk to dawn;
but loved Sharon Mary Elizabeth Dulcet Vaughn.”
Diana felt a burning tingle all over her and knew the change was coming. She envisioned openings in the back of her school uniform as the pressure on her back swelled. She felt the wings push free, and saw the claws on her hands.
Heather and Jean stared open-mouthed. Prue smiled.
“Don't look!” Diana shouted. She jumped behind her chair and hid from their scrutiny. She looked up and cursed when she saw that her wings were protruding above the chair.
“You're beautiful,” Heather said.
“I wish you could see this, Mom,” Jean said. “Diana, you don't realize how amazing it is for us to see your Fae self. Most witches go their entire life without ever seeing a Fae. You've just graced us with a gift of great significance.”
Diana's shock at having the change forced on her ebbed as she realized what Jean was saying. She took a deep breath and let it out, only then noticing that Prue hadn't looked down where she was cowering behind the chair. “Prue is blind?”
“It's a regrettable side-effect of some of the spells I did when I was younger. Magic always has a price.”
Diana tried to focus so she could return to her human shape, but she was too nervous; so she tried to distract the witches. “You can't just use a spell to make your eyes work?”
The old woman took a deep breath and let it out, lowering her gaze to where Diana had spoken. “The price would be too high, Sharon Mary Elizabeth Dulcet Vaughn. I see things nobody else can see. I willingly pay the price that everyone else can see things I cannot.”
“My name's not Sharon Mary whatever.”
“If you say so.”
Diana stood, her temper rising. “My name's Diana. I think enough has changed in the last week that you people could at least leave my name alone. Is that too much to ask?”
“Be reasonable, dear,” Jean said, staring at Diana's wings. “Prue didn't take your name away. She gave you one you didn't know you had. Your true name.”
“Maybe that name can help you find your parents,” Heather added, also staring at Diana's wings.
Diana growled low in her throat and focused, closing her eyes so she could block out her surroundings and focus. Diana Jean Morgan. Diana Jean Morgan. She felt the rush of magic flow over her and opened her eyes. Wings gone, check. Claws gone, check.
“Amazing,” Heather said.
“I wonder if you could emulate anyone's form?” Jean asked.
“I haven't tried.”
“Ooh! Do me!” Heather said with a jump, clapping her hands.
Diana sighed. “I'm afraid, Heather. I don't want to screw it up. Look what I did with Chelsea? I can't have something like that happen again.”
“The girl with the bad heart,” Prue said.
“You know about that?” Diana asked, checking Heather's expression.
Prue nodded. “I looked into it after Heather told us about the incident at school. It turns out that Chelsea had a hole in her heart that was undiagnosed. It was a time bomb, ticking in her chest.”
Diana's pulse jumped. “Was? As in? Did she die?”
“No dear. They fixed her heart. She may yet have a full life, thanks to you.”
“Thanks to me?”
“Yes. My sight tells me she would have died a few years from now from a heart attack if you hadn't given her that fright.”
Diana sat back down in her chair, not knowing what to say. Prue shuffled over to the doorway. “Would anyone like some tea?”
Heather and Jean both answered that they would.
“And you Sharon?”
Diana growled. “Please call me Diana. Yes, I'd like some tea please.”
“I'm curious to see if you could change into me,” Heather said as they waited for the tea. “Maybe you don't have that much to be worried about after all?”
Diana thought about it, and listened as Jean and Heather talked about the potential ramifications of Fae magic and what might be possible and what might not. Eventually, she couldn't take the prodding and speculation anymore. She sighed, focused on Heather, and said “Fine!” She closed her eyes and believed. The rush swept over her.
“You're me!” Heather shouted, clapping.
Diana smiled. “I feel dumber for some reason.”
Heather laughed. “Oh shut up.”
“Anyway, I'm not you. Apparently, I'm Sharon Mary Elizabeth Dulcet Vaughn.”
Magic flowed over Diana, and she felt wings sprout through her uniform again. She looked down and saw claws. “Give me a break, please!”
(continue to Chapter 11)
(continue to Chapter 11)