Support is.. getting in the way [5.2]

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A day on the town, new haircut, new clothes and an excessive amount of money.. why does that seem so idyllic in the movies?

Events unfold including but not limited to:
The salon vultures swarm,
A lot of relationship status's come into question
(some for very good reasons, others.. well..)

Meanwhile Hannah decides that life is unfair and Tuesdays suck!


 

“Stop laughing”

If anything, all my hissed demand did was add fuel to the fire as Sarah squirmed in the chair next to me, obviously trying not to move too much as the woman behind her washed her hair despite her giggle fit.
I didn’t even get the chance to glare at her for it before someone else moved into the suspiciously empty seat on my other side and I was forced to offer yet another fake smile for their amusement.

Eris shifted uncomfortably in my lap.
I already told her she’d have to get off when the actually hair cutting starts but I can’t really begrudge her wanting to stick close at the moment with how badly the sharks are swarming us.

It seems like every woman in here knows far too much about me and yet FAR too little at the same time!

They’re all apparently EVER so interested in learning more about me though in either case.
From what I’ve gathered through the last few conversations I’ve had with several, obviously well-to-do women who have taken the spare seat before this new one, it seems like this is all one big misunderstanding brought on by a very recognisable lethal duo of thoughtless gossips that I’d never in my wildest NIGHTMARES considered might actually pair up to wreak havoc on the world together!

Echo.. Echo and bloody ‘Dite!
They apparently joined John on his self-appointed ‘reconnaissance mission’ this morning but got bored pretty early because they came in here for a bit of pampering instead.

I haven’t quite got the full picture yet obviously but somewhere down the line they got chatting with people?
Between ‘Dite’s thoughtless naivety and Echo’s unstoppable need to apparently repeat everything she hears to people in the form of half-understood gossip they’ve managed to convince everyone in here that all those ‘strange’ people who had suddenly swarmed the town this morning we’re in fact working to protect one ‘Lady Hannah Cooper-Garnier’.

Evidently when questioned further on my name they acknowledged my relationship to Mum too because people seem to have connected the dots from there and ‘worked out’ my identity pretty easily.

The fun doesn’t stop THERE though.. oh no, no, no!

When can my life ever be THAT simple after all?!
No, they went on to blab about John’s dubious position as the ‘source’ of my new Ladyship and possibly added several ideas they may have about our relationship status which we will be having WORDS about LATER!

“Lady Cooper-Garnier, may I just say that it really is an honor to meet you.”
With a wince I turned slightly so I could glance at the new woman out the corner of my eye before slowly moving my face into that close approximation of a smile again and offering her a gentle nod.

“Please, call me Hannah, you all know me but I’m afraid I must admit that I’m not nearly as well informed?”
It’s taking every shred of acting skill in my arsenal just to keep this going honestly.

I’m having to dig pretty deep and drag out some long abandoned ‘social’ training memories from some long integrated past-incarnations just to keep a civil tongue in my head actually!

“Oh! Of course, I’m Mary, Mary Chapman the chairwoman of the Southern Oregon Visitors Association.”
With that said she offered her hand out for me and I reluctantly accepted it in my best ‘limp’ handshake while offering her an encouraging smile just because it’s expected at this point with so many people watching me like salon-going birds of prey.

Sarah snorted to herself in amusement for what felt like the hundredth time in the last ten minutes.
She’s enjoying this WAY too much in my opinion.

“Charmed Ms Chapman, have you met my sister Sarah? She’s a rather successful TV host, you may have seen her show on PBS, I hear they run it practically by the hour at this point.”
The annoying woman’s eyes cut away from mine quickly to shoot Sarah a suddenly much more interested look.

For a long moment I got to enjoy the way Sarah froze under a wave of sudden scrutiny all around her before sadly it all turned back to me again.
Sure she’s ‘famous’ and a ‘local’ celebrity.. but she’s not the one apparently about to marry some prince no-one’s ever heard of.. one that happens to be suspiciously good looking even if he does seem to be barely in his twenty’s, if that!

Sooner then I’d have liked, the conversation started up again as the beautician sat me up to start working on my hair with a hairdryer/brush combo in hand and Ms ‘Just call me Mary’ Chapman made her big, oh so subtle, sales pitch for getting me to help provide some advertising opportunities in aid of tourism for Klamath in general.

The way she described it you’d think me and John were going to be some huge tabloid power-couple with our own hyphenated little nickname and a near constant following of journalists willing to document anything even remotely ‘of interest’ we might do!

I honestly had to just stop listening when she suggested petitioning the local chamber of commerce about nominating us as Klamath Falls own little unofficially-official ‘Royal family’..

======

..thank the powers!..

My torture lasted both far too long and barely any time at all before the hairstylist, a woman called Sarah apparently, started bringing out scissors and purposefully placed herself between us to cut off the conversation.

I rolled my eyes up to her in gratitude and received a smirking wink in return that I would have honestly expected to come from MY Sarah more than a random stranger.. well.. if MY Sarah wasn’t busy giggling to herself over how many apparently ‘important’ woman just HAPPENED to be sitting in here having some kind of unofficial town meeting that we just HAPPENED to stumble into at possibly the WORST possible time considering they’d just gotten some rather juicy gossip that paints me as some kinda of previously hidden ‘woman of breeding’!

If I didn’t know better I’d think she planned this or someth-
Damn it Sarah! Come to think of it I DO know better and she probably DID plan this to some degree!

This is her usual ‘out of work’ hair salon.
She looked entirely too amused and completely unsurprised when the not-Edith, who’s name I can’t remember by the way, confronted us!

SHE suggested I do something with my hair and SHE suggested we go here moments later!

My eye’s swung around to Sarah automatically.
She didn’t even try to hide how smug she felt from her face.

Obviously she’s worked out that I’ve worked out that this was all her doing just from the annoying expression on my face!

My hand twitched a little at my side and her eyebrow rose slightly in response.
To anyone else it would have seemed like two unrelated movements but to us they held practically a whole conversation inside them, my hand saying ‘she would pay for this’ and her eyebrow saying ‘I know but I had my reasons’.

With a mildly frustrated huff I settled down in my seat a bit more and folded my arms underneath my cape.

At some point in the procession of movement surrounding the hairdresser Sarah pulling out her scissors, Eris slid off my lap and moved over to stand in the gap between me and the smirking menace’s feet like an awkward little cherub.
A look of sweetness and innocence was plastered on her face, one that might just be enough to convince someone she wasn’t up to something if they didn’t know her first!

“Eris.. whatever your thinking.. Don’t..”
She turned her wide little eyes over to me and fluffed her hand through her hair as if suddenly nervous.
Somewhere behind me someone made a little ‘aww’ sound at the sight of her which REALLY didn’t help the twitch I could feel developing in my eye in the slightest!

“I don’t care if you think it would be funny or if you think your dad would approve.. you do it and no drum kit until you’re eighteen young lady.”
She winced and sunk her shoulders slightly in submission while staring at me through her eyelashes as if silently offering me an apology, one that I accepted with a gentle smile that seemed to calm her down at last.

Wait! Did I just use Mum’s ‘young lady’ trick on her?
It bloody WORKED too!

Huh?.. so that’s how it feels from the other side of things..
No wonder, she used it on Sarah so much when we were kids.

A slight tugging on my cape brought my attention back down to Eris again.
She’d moved over on silent little feet and with a few meaningful glances that bordered on twinspeak or telepathy I finally gave in to her, pushing my hands up under the cape enough to make space for her as she shuffled her way into my lap underneath it so she could both hide from everyone around us and sit with me without getting coated in any hair that gets cut off.

I swear someone behind me made an almost yelping sound of glee, not doubt at how ‘adorable’ we were being for some reason, but they were shushed back into silence before I could turn my head to see who’d done it sadly.

“I think we missed an introduction somewhere along the way Hannah dear?”
The not-Edith woman’s voice made me wince slightly with just how amused she sounded as I glanced over at her.

Hairdresser Sarah moved ever so slightly to the side giving me a clear view of the suit wearing older woman from her new position, calmly seated in the ‘spare’ chair in a way that would almost be casual if it wasn’t for the burning curiosity in her eyes.

“I’m sorry, I became so distracted by meeting you all that it slipped my mind..”
Far from my mind, on the vague hope that I could get through this nightmare without having to come up with a cover story for why I have a toddler in tow!
“This shy little bundle of giggles is my.. uh, her names Eris..”

..Bravo Hannah? Really, I’m utterly impressed by your complete ineptitude at-..
Shut UP Brain!

As attempts to distract from the sudden elephant in the room go it was beyond terrible, I KNOW okay?!
Give me a break will you!

I never prepared for this sort of thing.
People tend to see us more as a unit lately, the question of ‘who’ or ‘why’ Eris is in relation to me or how close we are hasn’t really come up so far.

Trust the little all-woman army of socialite busy-bodies around us at the moment to be the first people to think of asking such awkward questions so openly.. damn it..

To my surprise she didn’t prod any further on the topic and seemed to have an almost knowing look on her face that, if I’m reading her right, held mild distain for me that she was carefully trying to temper behind her apparently normal ‘benign’ look.

Eris shifted awkwardly under my cape and I moved my hands up to cup her head to my chest a bit better.
After a few seconds she settled down again, letting off an almost silently contented sigh that made some annoying part of my brain want to join her automatically for some reason.

“..at least we know it’s not a shotgun wedding?..”
My eye twitched heavily at the muttered comment coming from the hidden audience behind us.

"Ladies, please..”
Not-Edith’s mild rebuttal might as well have been a gunshot with how quickly it silenced the muttering group.
I found myself sending her a thankful look despite my misgivings about her motives, mostly because she didn’t have to help me out like that and in my experience people like her don’t do anything nice without reason.

It’s not like the opinions of this lot really MATTER as such, I guess?
I mean, they might be able to cause some hassle for Mum if they decide to turn against us just by their apparent positions of power in the local community but as soon as I get my accounts sorted out again Mum could just quit work and spend the rest of her life sipping margarita’s on some tropical beech..

In fact I think I may actually own a private tropical island somewhere come to think of it?
..it vaguely feels familiar..
Pretty sure I captured some evil mages clichéd ‘skull-faced island volcano lair’ at one point at least.

Either way, while I don’t particularly like people getting the idea that I’m going to marry John at some point.. or that I’m some kind of new society bride.. or that I was a worryingly young mother, giving birth to Eris somewhere in my early teens at best..

I’ve been in worse situations and honestly, what’s the worst that can come from it all huh?

“So I’ve heard what everyone else does for a living so far, what do you do exactly?”
Despite my rather rudely stated question not-Edith’s eyes lit up in amusement as she went to work, explaining just how VERY important she was to the Klamath Falls social scene and society as a whole.

Turns out her family owns a lot of things in a lot of places and she personally set up a finishing school for ‘young ladies’ which both reassured me on her motives for suddenly including Eris in things while also making me rather nervous about them at the same time.

I don’t care what anyone thinks about me and John, I’m not sending Eris off to some school designed to turn little girls into the perfect little society brides of the future!

======

“Stop playing with it Han, it looks fine.”
With a jerk and a huff I pulled my finger out of the biggest side-swept barrel curl that kept moving into my field of view every few seconds.

Showing my ignorance of hair styles in general, I’ve got to admit that I barely understood one-in-three words my Sarah and Hairdresser Sarah exchanged while discussing the end result of her hard work.

All I know is that my now auburn locks didn’t lose much length, thanks to Sarah’s quiet request, but have gained an amount of curl and luster that borders on the stupidly large mass I got from my initial ‘fun’ experiences with what happens when you mix hair styling magic with wild magic.

The biggest difference is probably with my bangs or ‘fringe’ in Brit-speak, if my past life memories are to be believed?
Essentially what was once a smooth curtain of hair that I split out of my face by brushing behind my ears or usually by braiding it back has now been cut, leaving me with a long side-swept set of wide curled hair that blends back in with the rest of my hair at about neck-length below my right cheek.

Despite the mirror, Sarah, Eris and the delegation representing the now mentally dubbed by me ‘Ladies of Klamath’ all assuring me that they look ‘pretty’ this way, I’m more focused on the fact they’re wholly ‘annoying’ instead!

“Stop fiddling with them Han”
I shot Sarah a glare and pulled my hand down again from where it had subconsciously moved up to brush the hair out of my eye for what feels like the fiftieth time in the last five minutes.

“This isn’t practical Sare? I’m losing nearly half my peripheral vision for the sake of some arbitrarily decided definition of beauty!”

We both stopped in the middle of the street.
My annoying body guard’s stumbled to a halt around us and the ‘subtly’ following us Jeeps pulled up at the curb as well.
After a few seconds of staring at each other challengingly a little sigh from my chest made us both glance down, breaking the tension and the moment so efficiently I can’t help but think that was entirely Eris’s intention when she did it to be honest.

“You’re both right, it looks good Mom but she has a point about it being useless in a fight too Aunty Sarah.”

With her piece said Eris pushed herself up slightly in my arms and brushed a hand through my new bangs until they were out of the way.
As she pulled her hand back I felt a tiny discharge of magic brush along my skin and the annoying hair stayed in place neatly despite having nothing to hold it in pla-
..oh, yeah?..

Using magic to stick hair together like Eris showed me the other day is still a ‘thing’.. I really need to pay attention to this stuff!

“Thanks Sweetie”
She nodded almost officiously before settling her head back down above my heart with another contented sigh in response.
“Okay, problem solved, sorry Sare I’m just in a bit of a weird mood?”

Sarah seemed mildly surprised by Eris’s actions but nodded to me in understanding anyway when I finally caught her eyes again.

“Sorry too, I forget that your this hard-trained fighter at times.. it’s kind of hard to believe with the way you normally act I’m afraid..”
Not much of an apology there Sare but I’ll take what I can get at this point.

“Is there anything else you want to do while we’re here? I’ve got to get some clothes and drop into Edith’s place on the way home but aside from that I’m open to suggestions.”

She cut her eyes over to me thoughtfully for a second but she shrugged it off pretty quickly as we started walking down the street again.

“Wouldn’t mind dropping into the flat to pick up a few bits; I need to go into the studio at some point and check on how editing’s going on the new season too?.. Tor’s down south visiting family so I’m pretty much the only one that can stop the studio techs from messing things up in the cutting room sadly.”
She huffed out a breathy sigh but offered me a smirk anyway.

..I wondered where the big guy had disappeared to?..
Feels like ages since I last saw him, guess it makes sense if he’s out of state though.

“When’s he getting back?”
Sarah grimaced slightly and hesitated in her next step but quickly caught up to me again as if nothing had happened.

“It’s going to be a while, the studio’s talking about replacing him for the next season so he can have some down time..”
Ah.. oh dear, that’s not a good sign..

“You told him then?”
Her eyes flew up to mine in shock.

I’m not sure why to be honest; it’s not exactly hard to put the pieces together?
We get back after an emotionally taxing trip, they get a few days alone to sort themselves out while I was busy dealing with Mum and suddenly he disappears off the face of the earth to ‘visit family’ without any warning or apparent forethought involved.

“You okay?”
She shifted uncomfortably but that didn’t last much more than a step or two before she leaned heavily into my side, almost making me tip over due to our proportionate differences in height and weight.
“..that bad huh?..”

The only response I got was a heavy sniff and some frantic head movement that may have been a nod of some sort.
I felt a little like sniffing sadly to myself too at this point but that’s hardly going to help things is it?

Bloody relationships!
Why can’t people just be honest with each other about their feelings?!
I know for a fact that Sare is ‘ga-ga’ for Tor and while he can be a man of few words, Tor’s made it pretty obvious from his actions alone just how much he cares for my sister if nothing else..

Wouldn’t life just be easier if people could decide they like someone then just come out and SAY they love-
Something large and warm came down harshly on my ass making me yelp in surprise as I span around suddenly to face my attacker.
-John!

“Damn it John-boy! We were having a moment here, don’t just randomly go around slapping people on the ass you pervert?!”
Despite the heavy conversation we’d been tentatively working our way towards Sarah surprised me by bursting out in a sudden fit of giggles and pulling herself away from me so she could try to stem the flow.

Her laughter was obviously infectious because not only did I feel my lips twitch slightly in an aborted attempt at smiling too as usual, several people behind John let off their own little bursts of it too.
Pretty soon it seemed like only me, Eris and John were left holding our composure in a sea of inanely laughing people with no hope of rescue.

“He didn’t ‘just randomly go around slapping people on the ass’ Han, he only did it to you.. big surprise there huh?”
Part of me is glad she seems so happy and amused all of a sudden but the other part is NOT finding what she’s suggesting at ALL funny in the SLIGHTEST!

My finger came up almost automatically to point between John’s eyes as an angry, embarrassed growl worked its way up to my throat.

“Do that again and you lose an arm, you got me John-boy?.. don’t think I won’t do it!.. I’ve got MAD ice mage skills now and you can just ask the last guy who slapped me what it feels like if you’re that curious.”
The laughter around us died down a little at my obvious anger but even John didn’t seem entirely convinced that I wasn’t at least bluffing or at worst joking.

Before I could really lay into him my eye’s caught on a still giggling pair of people behind him that I had a much more pressing need to talk to then John-bloody-Jones!

“Echo, ‘Dite! Follow me, we need to talk.. NOW!”
I stomped ahead of everyone slightly down the street leading toward Sarah’s apartment complex.
The movement was so sudden that the security team had to scrabble around to keep up.

There wasn’t really a need for me to look back when I can feel their magic from here and while everyone else seems to be hanging back a little in worry, even Sarah for some reason, Echo and Dite’s magic WERE progressively coming closer to me as I went on so checking on them can wait at least.

Finally they caught up with me and I let out a heavy breath before starting in on them.
Eris seemed to be shooting adorable yet smug looks over at ‘Dite for some reason, probably because she’s in trouble and Eris will apparently take any chance to rub something in her ‘older sisters’ face when she can..

“Now then.. I happened to go to the hair salon on Main Street earlier, you wouldn’t BELIEVE the rumors I heard coming out of that place?”
They both cringed and for a moment Echo actually slowed her pace slightly as if hoping she could drop back into the following crowd behind us without notice but of all people Eris shot out a little hand and snagged her sleeve before she could really make a break for it.

The subtle reprimanding head shake she gave the poor girl was almost as obvious as the wide amused grin plastered on her face.
..oh yeah, she doesn’t like Echo much either does she?..

“We’re going to have a nice long chat about what is and isn’t information you should be sharing or misrepresenting to the general public, either magical or non-magical.. is that okay with the pair of you?”
I got two almost simultaneous nods followed by rather obvious gulps in response which made my growing smirk turn a bit feral for a moment.

Let’s see how much damage they did intentionally and how much of it was just out of stupidity or ignorance shall we?

======

“So let me get this straight.. YOU told everyone that I’m now going by the name ‘Lady Hannah Cooper-Garnier’ because you heard some of the wolves talking at dinner yesterday?-”
My arm swung around to point at ‘Dite much to Echo’s obvious relief at this point.
“-and YOU told everyone that I’d recently started dating a mysterious nephew of the Martials called Maxarimus because you heard someone talking about it at breakfast and thought it was common knowledge from what you’d seen of our recent actions?-”
The accusing finger of doom swung back around to Echo’s no longer relieved looking face for my final incredulous point as I continued on.
“-which YOU, oh so helpfully, added fuel to when questioned by showing surprise that this random group of non-magical busy-body’s had no idea who your ‘famous’ Uncle Max was and eventually left yourself in a verbal corner, frantically scrabbling around for a plausible reason to give them on why you’d assumed they would know who he was when it finally registered in your head that they were in fact non-magical, and for some powers-forsaken reason you settled on making him a PRINCE of some unmentioned country or another?!”

The only sound I could hear for a seemingly eternal stretch of time was our feet hitting pavement and the rumble of life moving on around us without a care for my problems and woes.

Eventually the awkward silence was broken by Eris giving a stifled snort which progressed into a full blown giggle fit that had me clinging onto her for dear life in case she fell as she kept swinging her eyes between the pair of them and promptly laughing even harder to herself.

I’d like to think that in any other situation I’d see the funny side of this too but I’m REALLY not in the mood for it now!

“You’re both grounded, no talking to anyone who isn’t family for a week unless it’s life or death.. now go find somewhere to be where I don’t have to look at you for a while.”
They both winced at the disappointment obvious in my tone but quickly shuffled back into the pack of people following behind me like an annoyingly large procession.

Before I’d really gotten a chance to gather myself back together again after that brain-meltingly horrid conversation, one that both explained SO much about what happened back at the salon while leaving me feeling lost from the stupidity of it all in general, a warm hand landed on my butt and squeezed gently as an equally warm body sidled up to me with a face attached that seemed to be permanently etched into his usual smug smirk.

“You handled that surprisingly well, I was expecting to see them both run off in tears from the look on your face.. although honestly your guilt trip might actually have been the more effective way of getting through to them somehow..”
I grit my teeth down hard and shot John a completely un-amused look which he chose to ignore with his usual aplomb for such things.

“I learnt what works best from my mother.. now take your HAND off my ASS before I remove it FOR you.. PERMANENTLY!”
Even through gritted teeth the overall venom in my voice was hard to miss, I am NOT in the mood to put up with whatever silly idea John’s got in his head that involves him cosying up to me so much while we’re in public for other people to gawp at!

In a move that annoyingly shows that he will always find some way to defy my expectations, John’s hand practically flew off my butt only to shift up slightly and settle again around my waist instead.

“Not. Better!”
He actually had the audacity to laugh this time as he squeezed me into his side and allowed little lines of his magic to leak out so they could ‘casually’ rub against my aura with at once pleasant and REALLY aggravating side-effects that one might expect from two naturally volatile sources of magic coming into contact with each other.

Reluctantly I found myself leaning into him despite my best efforts to the contrary.
Eris let off a little huff that probably had some deeper meaning but I’m honestly in no state of mind to be analysing the breathing patterns of a three-year-old at this point in time.

..I’m tired..
I’m tired and frustrated and I’ve got all this stuff I want to get done but people keep getting in the way and now we’ve got this new thing with the ‘Ladies of Klamath’ to deal with a-and what the hell even IS a debutant ball for anyway?!

It feels vaguely familiar for some reason, I think I remember seeing something about them online at some point but my usually helpful incarnation memories are drawing a rather suspicious blank at the moment which isn’t helping anything in the slightest.

“..I’ve got a headache..”
John rumbled some nonsense sounds deep in his chest like a giant cat purring to itself and I found myself leaning a bit closer into his side.
“..I’ve got a headache and I’ve got to deal with Edith soon..”

I allowed myself a flash of amusement when I felt John’s magic suddenly stall in surprise before rolling back into action with a general feeling of pity and worry coursing through it instead.
..at least he knows when to stop mucking around for once..

Is it Tuesday today?
I’m not completely sure.. feels like a Tuesday..

I hate Tuesdays!

======

“Got everything?”

Sarah slid her keys back into her pocket and nodded as she dipped down to scoop up a backpack that’s now full of whatever it was she wanted to collect from the flat.
Originally I was going to go inside with her but that became a bit of a moot point when the ever expanding entourage of ‘children’, both small and adult sized, decided to follow us up and fill the stairwell with bodies.

I don’t want to admit it but after spending five minutes of mindless walking while being hugged by John I feel a bit better about things and life in general?.. which has left me ALMOST ready to deal with a few of the more annoying tasks at hand such as explaining to a group of surprisingly sheltered mages why expanding the staircase’s width with magic so they can all fit in more comfortably would be a VERY bad idea in a purely normal building owned by a purely normal landlord!

I’m starting to see a pattern forming and I’m sorry to say that at this point I honestly think mage’s, even my own apparent ‘children’, are still people.. and therefore also to be considered, on a whole, to be ‘idiots’ for the sake of saving time if nothing else.

“Henry! If I see you try and scrape ONE more half-assed ‘happy feelings’ rune into that banister you’ll join Echo and ‘Dite in being grounded young man!”
Henry in particular definitely falls into the ‘idiot’ category sadly..

The lanky teen still looks far too close to John in appearance for my sanity’s sake.
As you might be able to guess considering his past exploits of joining a previously all-female dog-pile on top of John when this lot first turned up, along with the mischievous look he shot me before disappearing from my sight back into the crowded stairs with ease, he happens to take after his ‘father’ in more than just looks.. much to my newfound frustration.

..it wouldn’t be so bad if he was actually good at runes?..
Even from here his attempted chicken scratch markings really ARE almost offensive to my experienced eye.
If he keeps this up I’m going to have to hold a class on how NOT to get yourself killed by your own poorly formed rune-clusters!

“How exactly are we going to get back downstairs Han?”
I shot a look over to Sarah and huffed to myself again in frustration.
..I have no bloody clue..

A sharp whistle from my side brought the entire hallway to an almost eerie silence instantly.

“EVERYBODY OUT, WE’RE MOVING ON!”
My jaw dropped a little as the mass of bodies before us started shifting in an almost orderly manner back down the stairs and outside like a well-oiled machine in motion.

A glance over at John earned me yet another amused smirk for my troubles so with a heavy sigh I slapped a hand to his chest and offered him a weak smirk in return.

“Not so useless after all John-boy.”
For a moment he looked pleased before his face fell and he realised what I’d actually just said at last.
His mouth shifted into an exaggerated pout that got a giggle out of Eris, only encouraging him to keep going, much to my chagrin.
“Don’t be an ass, come on we’ve got places to be and stuff to buy.”

“Yes Ma’am”
He popped off an almost military perfect salute before capping it off with a deep bow taken right out of history itself.

Eris giggled again and even Sarah snorted in amusement.
I just let off one more huff before moving down the now clear stairs without response.

I get that he’s trying to help by lightening the mood a bit but I just want to get this all OVER with now!
My happy little shopping trip has gotten progressively bigger, longer and more annoying as the day’s gone on.

“If you’re quite done playing the fool?”
His magic jumped happily at my muttered comment but he didn’t respond verbally as he nabbed Sarah’s bag from its awkwardly held position at her side and followed behind me in a pompous ‘quick-step’ that had his watching audience of Eris giggling to herself against my shoulder all over again.

..I really hate Tuesdays..

======

“No, I’m not buying it and that’s FINAL!”

The little shop I’d originally come into with the hope of getting either some nice baggy clothes for lazing around in or at the very least a new, more covering, one-piece swim suit has become a complete bust.. and even worse every woman in my ever expanding entourage seems to have an opinion on what would suit me best too?!

“What about this one?”
FOR THE LAST TIME JOHN STOP OFFERING ME THAT BLOODY HOT-PINK STRING BIKINI BEFORE I STRANGLE YOU WITH IT!!

With a frustrated little yell that actually managed to shut them all up at last I found myself stomping out of the store, leaving a scrabbling mass of people behind to sort themselves out as I made a bee-line for the street I vaguely remember leading back towards Edith’s place.

Just one more stop to go and I can finally END this stupid trip with my dignity mostly intact by not having given up despite all odds and omens pointing to the contrary; I know Sarah said something about going into her work but she’s gonna have to do it on her bloody-own because I am NOT going ANYWHERE else with this lot in tow EVER again!

I’m not anti-social I swear.. but I HATE People!..
Too much noise, too much mess, too much bloody.. bloody.. URRG!!

“Hannah, wait up?”
If that isn’t a cue for me to start moving faster than I don’t know what is!

I HATE Tuesdays!

======

The bell above the door to my favorite little magic shop rang out loud and clear.
Hearing that familiar sound did a lot more then I would have expected in calming me down or at least bringing me back to myself a little bit.

Eris seemed to agree with that sentiment judging by the way she settled her head back down on my chest again, having spent the walk over here being alert and attentive as if looking for danger of some kind for some unfathomable reason?

The bell rang out again and I jerked around to slam my hand hard on the door, forcing it shut as best I could despite the mass of bodies trying to push their way in.
Almost instinctively I shoved some magic into my hand and legs to reinforce my position and with a few staggering steps I finally managed to get the door shut tight and keeping the rest of them out at least.

Just for my own sanity more than anything else I dipped into my lines and almost instinctively summoned a nearby cupboard in front of the doorway, sealing it in place with an overpowered application of the hair-sticking trick Eris showed me in the form of a few hand slaps full of my magic to the back of the cupboard and the doorframe itself.

John fought his way to the front of the disgruntled crowd around the door.
He didn’t say anything but his annoyed stare was full of disappointment and frustration so it’s not exactly hard to tell where his thoughts are going.

“Just give me five minutes, take them all to the park by the Hub and keep them there ‘till I catch up, okay?”
He stared at me a little harder for a moment but in the end he sighed and shrugged in acceptance before saying something that forced a few of the people closest to him back, starting a chain reaction where the mass of people began moving apart enough that he could push his way to the front and start leading them all away in an admittedly reluctant but generally calm mob.

“Useless girl be shuttin’ doors and blockin’ customers out? Bad for business!”
I turned around slowly to fix Edith with an incredulous look.

..what customers?..
She rarely gets a few per day if that, just before lunchtime on a Tuesday isn’t exactly peak business hours or anything!

“Great to see you too Edith. You said we needed to talk, so I’m here?..”
Her wrinkled old yoda face scrunched up thoughtfully for a moment before smoothing back into her usual disgruntled look a moment later.

“I got ya money useless girl.”
..huh?..
“From fae pets, for gettin’ past the barrier.”
OH! THAT money!

It seems like so long since we both stood outside the Hub’s sealed entrance and she ‘helped’ me get through the barrier with her stick and a malicious little smirk on her face.

I can’t even remember how much they owed me now?
I know we fleeced them something rotten for the fun of it but I was pretty distracted at the time what with John having walked into a trap inside and all..

Edith moved behind the counter and came back out with her JuJu stick in one hand while hugging a worryingly large paper bag to her chest with the other.
“I be ownin’ a magic shop girl, not a bank!”

She practically tossed the bag at me with more speed than anyone her age, physical or actual, has any right to be capable of.
Lucky my reflexes are up to par still or I’d have probably hurt myself from her wild toss if nothing else.

“Appreciate it Edith. Was that all you wanted me for?”
It’s hard to tell sometimes if she would really be so insistent we talk just over a bag of money or not; over the years I’ve found it easier to just ask her then assume she’s acting within the bounds of normal logic honestly?

“Ba! Don’t be bein’ stupid useless girl, I be needin’ to speak with ya about others too.”
She almost seemed to shift uncomfortably for a moment before continuing on anyway.
“Big things be happenin’ an’ you be at the center of them girl-”

I opened my mouth to argue that point but she rose her hand for attention before I could speak.

“Not your fault useless girl. Big people be playing big games with big consequences and they be usin’ you to get what they want.. trust no-one useless girl, enemy’s be saying only what they be wanting you to hear and friends not being much better..”

“Edith?”
The expression on her face was one I never thought I’d see there to my dying day.. regret?..
Regret, sadness and a hollow pain that seemed so RAW when coming from her of all people.

“E..Edith?..”

She opened her mouth to speak again but before she could get anything more out someone came bouncing into the room and caught both of our attention from the shock of it more than anything else.
I couldn’t help but gawp as Fena shimmied her hips in a pair of skin-tight but artistically ripped jeans while throwing her hands up sending the baggy sleeves of her ancient looking Black Sabbath t-shirt flying around her along to the beat of some unheard music that I suspect is coming from the headphones on her head.

“Fena, we be havin’ company!”
Despite the volume of Edith’s yell Fena went on dancing to herself obliviously, pulling seemingly random books off the shelves and putting them back into other spaces according to that weird, convoluted sorting system of hers no doubt.
Ediths yell certainly got Eris’s attention at least, judging by the way her head snapped up suddenly and she stared wildly around before finally focusing intensely on Fena.

“FENA?!”

In seconds our resident Goth dancing-queen went from several embarrassing levels of ‘boogie’ to being crouched dangerously to the side with her hands positioned in a way that almost looked like something I’d expect from one of the werewolf men back home if it wasn’t for the ball of sparking electricity she had cupped in her palm out of nowhere.

It took a moment or two for her to realise what was going on but I could forgive her that for the sake of the cute but embarrassed little tight-lipped smile she offered us afterwards if nothing else?
She slid back up to her feet awkwardly and pulled the headphones down to her neck with that annoyingly attractive grace she’s had ever since I first met her.

“Hey Al..uh.. Hannah?.. sorry, still new..”

“Useless girl be here to get her money an’ be talkin’ to me Fena. Books can wait for-”
Edith’s grumbled sentence was cut short suddenly by a rather unexpected fearful voice with an rather unhelpful question.

“Josephina?”

We all turned our eyes down to Eris, having ignored her little form tucked into my side in relative invisibility as usual up to this point despite her yell a moment ago having finally got past Fena’s music where Edith’s had failed.
Her attention didn’t even twitch away from the amazed stare-off she was now having with Fena though..

“Eris?”
I’ve never heard Fena sound so vulnerable and confused before.. even when she finally realised I was me when I ‘came back from the dead’ and she stopped calling me Kinslayer in such a dangerous tone!

“Edith?”
The yoda glanced between the pair of them before looking thoughtfully at me for a moment and eventually shrugging her heavy little shoulders in confusion.
“I take it you two know each other?”

Both Fena AND Eris turned slightly nervous looks at me before glancing back at each other and then turning their heads away quickly in opposite directions.

“We.. uh, dated?.. a while ago..”
Really?!

“Several hundred decades ago to be more precise..”
REALLY?!

“Oh don’t do that? Can’t you just let something go without correcting me for once in your life E-”

“I didn’t do anything! You’re always like this when you’re having a dry spell, when was the last time you got laid?”

“WHAT?! How DARE you, you little-”

Before things could escalate much further I swung my body around breaking their line of sight with each other which, like with all good predators, helped a fair bit in making them both calm down slightly.

“Enough of that you two, your mages, not children.. well.. one of you at least?.. the POINT is that your both old enough to not be at each other’s throats five seconds after reuniting through centuries of not seeing each other!”

Surprisingly that half-baked attempt at sounding wise and reprimanding actually seemed to work somehow?
Fena’s shoulders sunk a little to show she wasn’t thinking of jumping us anymore and Eris sunk her head onto my shoulder as usual while looking out the window behind us instead.

“You dated?”
This time it was Edith who broke the awkward silence that had fallen around us.
She really sounded surprised this time.

It’s been a day for weird reactions with people reacting in unexpected ways sadly so I don’t really know why it’s still throwing me off pace to be honest?
Hell, this sort of thing is pretty much ‘to be expected’ when it comes to mages.. although it IS a bit weird to find out that the cute goth girl I’ve been friendly-flirting with for years also dated my new little toddler psudo-daughter in a time long-long ago, possibly in a place far-far awa-
..wait a minute..

“You’re AWAKENED!”
Fena shot me a confused look before focusing her eyes back on Eris again.
“Why didn’t you ever SAY anything?!”

“You never asked?”
Oh powers DAMN IT! That’s such a cop out and she knows it!

I know we don’t exactly share much about ourselves in general considering how long we’ve known each other and I kind of DID ‘forget’ to tell her I was awakened for more than a few years so I guess it’s kinda fair.. but it still doesn’t feel nice to find out something so important about someone out of bloody nowhere!

Eris huffed out a breath into my neck before turning her head back around to study Fena intently for a second.
I had to shift my weight a little to compensate for her movement but overall I didn’t exactly feel like speaking again since Fena kinda brought up a valid point that I really don’t want to dignify with a direct answer at the moment.

“You look.. pale?”

“-and you look like mommy’s precious little two-year-old princess, let’s leave looks out of this shall we?”
Ouch.. I think she hit a nerve of some sort there somehow?

..Ugh! I’ve had enough!..

This has been the longest day I’ve had in ages.
At this point I just want to curl up on a forgotten sofa somewhere with a good book and ignore everyone for a few hours at least!

“What were you going to say before Edith? We should probably go soon so-”
Edith waved me into silence and shot a cautious look between the other two, lingering slightly on Eris for a few seconds before turning her attention back to me with a thoughtful frown.

“It be waiting useless girl. Take funny baby home, be comin’ back when you can.”
..uh, okay?..

If she says so I guess?
It seemed pretty important before but questioning her on it at this point is probably just going to annoy her in some way.
When Edith decides she doesn’t want to talk about something she’s harder to talk to then a hungry bear with a toothache!

“Funny baby?”
Eris tensed in my arms and shot Fena a dirty look for the giggle she was obviously trying to suppress all of a sudden.

“..shut up Josie..”
Fena tensed, opening her mouth to retort but I quickly spun us away from her and made tracks back to the front door.

The cupboard-turned-barricade that I’d put up earlier to keep everyone out pulled itself free and levitated to the side.
I turned my head and gave Edith a thankful look for helping me leave before things can escalate even more between these two.

Next time I come here I’ll have to make sure to leave Eris behind.. and maybe call ahead.. or just invite Edith over to our place instead I guess?..

“Thanks for keeping the cash safe Edith, I’ll see you again as soon as I can, we’ll probably need some supplies when we put in the new wardstone if nothing else.”
Edith grunted in response then started making her way towards the back-area door behind the counter.
Fena moved slightly as if she wanted to say something more but by that point I had the door open and she took a step back without further comment.

I sent her an apologetic look which got an awkward yet still cute smile in return before I turned my attention back to the street, hefted Eris on one arm and my new paper bag of money in the other.

John had better be ready to leave with his army of followers when I get to the park or I’m gonna scream!

I just want to go home at this point, I’m pretty sure the fact that I wasn’t allowed to leave the house for various reasons may have colored my memories about shopping and so called ‘freedom’ a bit too much with nostalgia at this point because after sampling both for the last few hours I really can’t remember what I thought would make it worthwhile anymore in the slightest?

Four Jeeps pulled up alongside us and started rolling along at a snail’s pace, to keep up with my walking speed obviously.
In the front seat of the Jeep nearest to us just happened to be Pauly.

I shot him a glare and upped my pace a little bit just to make them all shuffle slightly faster out of spite then dropped back down to a casual walk so I could watch them all slam on their breaks, making Pauly jerk forward slightly in his seat and glare at me for the sake of it.

At this point I’ll take any fun I can find sadly.
It’s his own fault for accepting the job of following me all the time damn it!

“You know you could get in the Jeep and we’d run you over to meet with your family, right?”
My eyes cut over to the familiar female soldier who was leaning lazily out of the rear window on the third Jeep with a smirk on her face.

“You know you could all get real jobs and leave me to my annoying life in peace, right?”

She didn’t have an answer to that.
Good thing too, I’m not in the mood to pull punches at this point.

We came to the last street between me and the park at last so I shot her one more smug look and jogged over to the grass where they couldn’t follow me in their stupid looking vehicles.
Even the noticeable upsurge of flowers and plant life that formed in the general area around me when I stepped forward onto the grass wasn’t enough to break my smug little smile in the slightest.

What did break my smile was a quick scan of the mage group milling around the park area trying to look both uninteresting and not bored at the same time.. but lacking a very obvious pair of annoying additions in the form of Echo and bloody ‘Dite?!

“John, I know I said to keep everyone here until I got back.. so I also know you wouldn’t have allowed anyone to leave for some silly reason or another would you?”
He cringed a little and glanced around himself as if looking for help from someone but failing spectacularly.
“Right.. John?..”

“Echo felt guilty for cutting your shopping trip short, ‘Dite did too so they asked to go back and pick you up some things while you were busy.. a few of the others went with them just to be safe..”

Oh they ASKED, did they John?
Well that’s all fine then isn’t it!

It’s not like I might have told you to keep everyone together for a reason or anything or.. or.. URGH!

“I’ve got a bloody headache! Sort yourselves out and I’ll see you all at home.”
Without another word I moved back over to the waiting Jeeps at an awkward jog and pushed past the female soldier holding the door for me so I could put Eris inside first.

In only a few seconds I was in and the team were all in motion getting us ready to leave.
John started belatedly coming after me but he’d barely got half way across the grass before the troops were finished and we were off on the seemingly far too long drive home.

“Turn the radio up and don’t talk to me for a while. I need to center myself before I accidentally-on-purpose turn you all into something amusing to me but highly unfair to all of you.”

“Yes Ma’am”
You’ve got to love the military, private or government funded, they know how to follow orders if nothing else!

I found myself slumping heavily into my seat in relief as the sound of something with a thumping bass and not much else going for it came blasting out of the speakers around us.
Eris allowed me all of five seconds before she decided to crawl up into my lap properly and hug herself around my chest as best she could.

My arms came up to squeeze her close and I let off one last sigh as I settled my chin down on top of her little head while dipping partly into my lines to start the annoying task of calming down my bubbling, overexcited from my aggravation, magic.

Today’s definitely a Tuesday.. I HATE Tuesdays!



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