I offer none.”
Rose’s calloused hands twisted; reddening and rough. Hildie’s wide smile flashed easy, and Clara… ah how her eyes bulged at my words and I smiled within, though my face remained as smooth and clear as the surface of the scrying bowl resting quiet between us.
“You must” Rose spoke stern, a remnant from my childhood and I shook my head. Running my own calloused fingers though the tousled pile of hair; feeling the sharp blue sparks snapping from its frizzled ends.
How I’d always loved that Medusa look.
“They will come for you” even Clara’s words came clipped, her canines visible with every word. No wonder they think she’s part vampire I thought, some slight tingle of almost fear touching my throat. Those foolish people. Still, no wonder in the night they sometimes imagine…
“Are they foolish?” Hildie’s question filled my mind and a ripple fluttered across the sacred water’s surface. Just a small wave; barely perceptible.
“The townfolk?” I asked aloud, nodding my head toward Clara. “And their superstitions? Of course.” I hesitated, frowning at Hildie, “But that’s beside the point. And I thought you’d promised not to do that anymore”.
“Sorry” Hildie raised her eyebrows. “See?” she whispered, “I can do it. Apologize”.
“Yes, but I’ve nothing to apologize for” I replied.
“Clara’s right” Rose’s eyes were wet. “They’ll come for you, and when they get here I don’t know if we’ll be able to fight them..”
“Oh no, we’ll fight” Hildie corrected, brushing biscuit crumbs from her blouse, “though we’ll be outnumbered as hell of course, and no doubt perish horribly”.
“The girls too” Rose caught up my hand and I felt my heart jolt as I glanced toward the ceiling where the three girls lay sleeping in their bedroom.
“They’ll do it slow, and painful” Clara added.
“And they shall enjoy it more than you can possibly imagine” Hildie leaned across the bowl, its water now at full boil. “Are you willing to face that Juniper? Can you?” Lavender hued steam floated around her face; “You will be the last to die you know.” Her eyes gleamed blue; red edged and sad. “How it will strengthen them, to savor your pain as they force you to watch.”
I was meant to flinch at her words. Meant to wring my hands, wipe my eyes, stand with arms wrapped round myself and pace; thinking, thinking… Allowing their warnings to entangle me; feeling the rune upon my ankle burn black with fear and loathing.
But the rune failed to burn, instead I felt it transform into the rowan tree it stood for; my leg tingled as a tiny green leaf drifted from it as if cradled by a gentle wind. Whirling upward, then spiraling toward the bowl; settling silent upon the bubbling surface; bringing with it instant calm as the sweet scent of lilac filled the room.
“I will offer no apology.” I stared at my friends, their eyes moving from my face to the shining rowan leaf and back again.
“And when they come, we shall defeat them.”