A Glimpse of the Coming Year: All Dressed Up

Let’s get the personal business of the way first.  The stuff I need for my weekend Women’s March on Washington–which occurs in a little less than two weeks–has begun arriving.  Tonight I get my portable phone charger; tomorrow I get my wall socks; and I’m waiting for my thermal underwear and mukluk insoles to ship out.  Yesterday, however, I received my first item:

I have the Pussy Hat!

I have the Pussy Hat!

Yes, the Pussy Hat is here and while it’s a little big it’s still wearable.  One shipment I’m worried about is the thermal undergarments: they’re coming from Land’s End and I haven’t received notification that they’ve shipped.  I’m hoping that all ships this week, and the one shipment I can do without are the new insoles for my mukluks, because all have wool socks as of tomorrow.

And the totally ironic thing is the weather for 21 January in DC is expected to be somewhere between 50 and 55 F/10 to 13 C.  If we get those terms I may not even need the thermal undergarments.  But it’s always nice to have them just in case.

Now, let’s finish up but I was in the middle of yesterday.

There’s about a thousand words left in this last seen, which just happened to be the first of Chapter Eight.  Last night they ran off another eight hundred and fifty words, and I figure I might have another fifteen hundred to two thousand words to write to finish off this current scene and the chapter, at which point I can move into Chapter Nine, which finishes off Week One and it’s the kids to the Midnight Madness.

Things are zipping right along.

So, let’s finish up with the meeting in the Witch House and see how Helena and Erywin are dealing with Kerry’s particular situation…

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Helena moved her chair closer to her desk so she could lean her arms against the top. “No one is thinking any less of you, Kerry, and no one in this room believes they can’t count upon you. As you indicated, your main concern is whatever group you’re working with—but you need to watch your own arse as well.”

A concerned look came over Erywin’s face. “If you’re feeling a little bit of trepidation about any, you and I can always speak. I mean, I do have a little bit of an understanding of what it’s like dealing with what might seem unusual emotions.”

Annie leaned so she was a bit closer to Kerry and could speak softly. “Something to consider, my love. And it couldn’t hurt to discuss these things with another person.”

He gave a slight nod. “Maybe later.”

Helena yawned for a few seconds. “Oh, sorry: didn’t get much sleep last night. Anyway, I have given you notification that you are in an on-call status with the Guardians as of this moment. Congratulations.” She threw up her hands in mock cheer. “You’re now like hundreds of other Sentinels wondering if you called out on a field operation any time soon.”

 

It seems as if this is about the third or fourth attempt to get Kerry to “talk things out”.  There’s a bit of a conundrum here with the boy, because for all of his life he’s been conditioned not to talk about his feelings, simply because his parents don’t want to hear about them.  Now he’s starting to find himself wading into some shit and he’s hesitant to put his feelings on display.  Sure, he might talk to Annie, but she’s not a trained counselor.  Getting him to open up to adults who really do want to help him is going to be something of an ongoing battle.

And with Helena’s last statement Annie hear something that may or may not be good for her–

 

Hearing the phrase “on-call status” made Annie wonder about their actual standing with The Foundation intelligence division. “Does this mean we’re—?”

“Actual Guardians?” A faint smile crossed Helena’s lips. “That was the last thing is gonna bring up during this meeting. You’ve both been moved to Provisional status, which is to say you’re old enough to go out on field operations, but you’re not old enough to be sworn in as actual operatives.”

“Why not?”

“Because you have to be considered emancipated before the Guardians will allow you to take the oath. One of the reasons you are allowed a Right of Refusal is because you haven’t reached the Age of Emancipation, but once you hit that then you can have the Guardians Oath administered and become full-time Sentinels.” Helena chuckled as she scratched her arm. “Of course, once you are full time that means that you can’t turn down any missions unless you have a damn good reason. Taking that oath means you get all those nice Guardian benefits without being able to walk away from the shit missions when you feel like it’s necessary”

“I didn’t expect it to be perfect.” Annie gave a slight shrug. “One has to take the bad with the good.”

Helena raised one eyebrow. “What do you expect the good to be in the Guardians?”

Annie had her answer ready. “To be able to protect The Foundation and its people, and by extension Normals who know nothing of our existence but benefit from our largess.”

Helena turned to Kerry. “What about you, Ginger Boy? What does serving the Guardians mean to you?”

Kerry had an answer ready as well. “By protecting the interests of The Foundation we keep the rest of the world safe. We’re not protecting a single country; we’re basically protecting people the world from the bad guys who would like to turn the lives of Normals to… shit.”

It was evident from Helena’s reaction that she hadn’t expected these responses. She turned to Erywin. “I really expected something a little more boilerplate.”

“You should know better.” Erywin chuckled. “You dealing with two highly motivated teens here.”

“Obviously.” Helena swiveled her chair back towards the two across the desk. “All right, is all I have to say. If it becomes necessary to have another meeting like this in the future, I’ll send you both a secure email with nothing more than the time: you’ll know where were going to meet.”

Both Annie and Kerry nodded with her replying. “Always here.”

 

At times it’s interesting to watch the reaction of adults around Annie and Kerry.  We know they’re bright and articulate, but they’re also quite perceptive.  Helena asked a gotcha question and then admits that she expected the kids to give a far more boilerplate answer than what they actually gave.  In short, she had low expectations for what they were going to say–which is something she shouldn’t have done.  But as Kerry might say, everything is a test, so perhaps Helena was actually testing the kids.  Perhaps?  We don’t know–well I do, but you don’t.

And with that it’s time to close down this meeting:

 

“Correct. Okay, you two, that’s enough for now.” Helena stood as did Erywin. “Kerry, as soon as I hear something back from San Francisco I’ll let you know. For that will likely send you a secure, encrypted document. And if you get one of those—”

Kerry gave a slight nod as he stood. “Read, delete, and clear deleted messages.”

“Sounds as if you been doing this spook business for a while.”

“I know how to take precautions.”

“Good.” Helena waved both kids toward the door. “Go on now. I understand a couple of instructors are taking some kids into Salem for lunch and an afternoon of shopping and relaxation. If you get back to the Great Hall by ten, I’m certain Erywin and I will be more than happy to let you accompany us.”

Annie waved back. “See you both at ten.”

Rather then head back up to the ground floor of the Witch House, Annie and Kerry decided to take the tunnel back to Memory’s End and emerge above ground there. They felt that is no one would be in the comments—at least not in this area school—they would be able to speak freely.

Annie felt she needed to reassure Kerry. “I hope you don’t think that we don’t believe you could do a field operation as a girl.”

He shook his head. “I don’t. Anyway, it was my suggestion I don’t go out like that right away because I’m not sure I can handle—you know—” Kerry tilted his head to the right as if to indicate something. “Like Erywin said, all the hormones and stuff.”

Annie gave Kerry’s hand a squeeze. “It will take some time you to filter through all the feelings. As Erywin said we’ve had time to learn, whereas you’re going to be instantly immersed. But I want you to know I’ll be there to help you in any way I can, though it may not be much.” She gave their arm a playful swing. “I won’t abandon you.”

Kerry leaned into Annie and rested his head against hers. “I know you wouldn’t. You’re the last person who would ever abandoned me.”

As Annie kissed his head only one thought remained in her mind: I’ll always be with you—until death do us part.

 

Annie seems to enjoy the idea that the boy by her side will be with her until the day one of them dies.  If one didn’t know any better, one might say Annie almost saw the relationship as something of a fairy tale–and given that some fairy tales were gruesome and bloody as hell, perhaps she’s not wrong.  The only question remains there is will they live happily ever after?  Like I’ve said before, I know when, where, and how they die, which means I know how they lived.  I know their happiness, I know their sadness, and I know some of their regrets.

In other words, they’re going to have lives like a lot of us.

Only we don’t get to have real magic in ours…

A Glimpse of the Coming Year: Not Ready to Come Out Alone

Last night my Dragon was being naughty, doing things it shouldn’t do like using one word when I for sure said another, but when I swore it was able to replicate that perfectly.  Regardless, I wrote 1,234 words last night as I put the kids in their first minion class of the year and allowing Annie to remark on the new A Level from Ireland who has been making eyes at Kerry because–well, she’s a Ginger, he’s a Ginger, wouldn’t they like to make some Gingers, too?

It also gives Annie an opportunity to make a snarky remark about Kerry’s mom, which is more proof that Annie won’t be the perfect daughter-in-law Mama Malibey hopes for.

Last time we found out that the Guardians were not only thinking of sending the kids out on missions with others but that they were considering sending him out after that little change thing happened.  Well, Kerry has some thoughts on that…

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Kerry clamped his right hand over his mouth, something he did when he was thinking quickly. “Can I say something?”

Helena gave a slight shrug. “Go ahead.”

“I don’t mind going on a field operation with other girls. I mean, by now—” He held up his hands to indicate the other people in the room. “Doing stuff with other girls is pretty much second nature to me. But I gotta do a field operation without Annie, I’d rather not do it as Girl Me. I probably won’t have had a lot of time to get use to being that way and I’m probably gonna feel a little self-conscious. Not to mention, doing all new stuff in a new body…” Kerry shook his head. “I’d spend a lot of my time feeling like I’m about to screw up. And that won’t be fair to everyone else on the team.”

Helena was about to offer a retort when Erywin spoke first. “I agree with Kerry.”

“What?” Helena swiveled her chair to the left. “Why would you say that?”

 

Since Kerry got an earfull about that witch’s brew called The Estrogens it’s likely he’s been giving some thought to how he’s gonna feel once the tap is wide open–and figures it might not handle things all too well.  After two years of hanging around girls who deal with hormonal issues on a daily basis it’s pretty much even money he thinks he might not be able to handle Deconstructors and hormones at the same time.

"I'm supposed to help bring you in--why is my BRA SO IRRITATING?  I'LL KILL YOU ALL!!!"

“I’m supposed to help you bring them in so I’ll stay in the back and watch…  Why is my bra SO IRRITATING? I’LL KILL THEM ALL!!!”

Yeah, might not be a good idea to have her out in the field.

And Erywin agrees.  Why?  Well–

 

“Because it’s true.” Erywin’s right eyebrow shot upward he saw the disbelieving gaze Helena was turning her way. “Do you want to hear, or would you like to disregard my opinion even though you asked me here as a counselor and advisor?”

Helena knew better then to argue with her longtime partner. “Please, let’s hear it.”

Erywin glanced toward Kerry. “We don’t know when his transition is going to occur, only that it’s going to occur sometime within the next six months. Even if it would happen tomorrow how many opportunities is he going to have to get used dealing with all the things that girls at his age will need to deal with? Maybe one or two times a month?” She brought a mischievous gaze to bear upon Helena. “Do you recall how moody you used to get when you were thirteen years old?”

“Slightly.” The right corner of Helena’s face screwed up in a frown. “I don’t remember being that bad.”

“That’s because one, you started going through puberty when you were about nine years old so you had a few years to adjust, and two, you’re full of shit.” Erywin chuckled. “You know goddamn well what you used to be like when you were a C Level, and it wasn’t always pleasant.

“One of the things Kerry’s going to have to learn to deal with are the new emotional and mental responses that come with being a teenage girl, and it’s not something he’s going to pick up in one or two turns through the new body. It could take months for him to get reasonably acclimated—” Erywin gripped both armrest as she settled back into her chair.  “Considering it takes some girls years to get acclimated within that timeline is not entirely out of the question.

“I’ve heard you say on many occasions that you often have to think of your duty to the group before you think of your duty to yourself.” Erywin twirled a finger around in her hair and stared at Kerry. “He knows if he goes out as a girl and she is not fully prepared for the internal onslaught she is going to deal with on top of whatever other shit she’s dealing with externally, that could put everyone in danger. And we don’t want that.”

 

Erywin is about the only person at school who can call Helena on her bullshit and not get death glares in the aftermath of the exchange.  And if there is anyone who knows exactly what a hormonal thirteen year old Helena was like, it was an equally hormonal fourteen year old Erywin, and she knows the girl was a tattooed hell-beast at times.  You can bet these two were a real party at times.

But Erywin is right:  Kerry might not be ready to mix estradiol and death spells right away and it might be best to keep Girl Me, as he says, out of the field for a while.  Even Helena begins to see the light:

 

Hum.” Helena scratched the bridge of her nose as she considered Erywin’s statements. “How about this: we put through the recommendation, based upon what you just told me, that Kerry not be allowed to go out to the group mission as a girl for a period of one year after his first transition? That way, if they do want him for a group mission, he goes as a boy.”

Erywin gave the matter some consideration. “That would work.” She suddenly remembered something else. “If nothing else Kerry could always invoke a Right of Refusal if they try to force him into switching genders for a mission.”

Kerry began laughing. “Yeah, what are they going to do? How would they make me change if I didn’t want to?”

Helena slowly turned and regarded the boy carefully. “They have ways.” She slid back up right in her chair and stretched. “I’m also going to include in the assessment that the

Guardians have to specify which gender they wish Kerry to present when informing him of a mission. That way—” She held out her arms and shrugged. “It makes giving a Right of Refusal easier.”

Erywin nodded. “Agreed.”

“I like that, too.” Only a moment passed before Kerry appeared slightly dejected. “Though it kinda sounds like I’m getting a lot of special treatment.”

Annie saw the glances Helena and Erywin exchange and felt it best to say something. “Kerry’s medical exam yesterday showed his estrogens count is higher than normal. It could affect his moods.” She gripped his hand. “I’m sorry, my love, but they need to know everything.”

He looked up rather sheepishly. “I’ll try not to let that happen too much; I don’t want people to think they can’t count on me.”

 

Now things are straight, or at least gonna get there, and Kerry can move one thing off his “I gotta worry about this” plate.  As I said before, Kerry’s got people looking out for me and he’s actually looking out for people he hasn’t met yet.  It’s a good think the Guardians have their eyes on Annie and him, because the other divisions in The Foundation would probably like them as well.

And how does this all end?  You find out tomorrow.

A Glimpse of the Coming Year: the Guardian Way

Yesterday was now only a lazy sort of day, but it was the kind where I had to get things done both in real life and on the page.  And that takes time, right?

First, I got the nails and brows down, just as I indicate in yesterday’s video.  It was a nice, relaxing time, and I always look forward to the time I spend getting pampered.

And this time I didn't even get wine.

And this time I didn’t even get wine.

So what did I go with?  A lovely dark purple called I’ll Take a Manhattan, which is a play on a Leonard Cohen song.

I have not, however, taken Berlin yet.

I have not, however, taken Berlin yet.

And the brows are, as the kids say today, “on fleek”, which actually means your brows are perfect.

Though I look like I'm learing in this photo.

Though I look like I’m leering in this photo.

Last night I finished Deanna’s scene and was about to start the last scene of Chapter Eight when I realized that some of that scene had to do with the new A Levels, and while I know where those kids are from and what covens they’re in, I didn’t have names for them.  You know what that means, right?

I had to name them.  All of them.

That means I spent a good two hours looking up names for kids from all over the world.  But I achieved my goal, so let me introduce you to the 2013 A Levels of Salem–

We'll start at the top of the Pentagram.

We’ll start at the top of the Pentagram.

Åsgårdsreia gets kids from everywhere but Europe, as Vanuatu is considered part of Oceania.  They also get of the two kids from China, though Macau is considered a bit of a cheat as it was held as part of Portugal for nearly five hundred years.  Still, it’s been returned to the PRC and is administered by them, so China.

Now let's move to the bottom-right.

Now let’s move to the bottom-right.

What’s interesting about Blodeuwedd is that all but two of their A Levels come from island nations, and they don’t have a student from South America.  As for the girl from Ireland, do you think she’s a ginger?  Do you think Kerry’s mom will be excited to hear this news?

Now to the left bottom.

Now to the left bottom.

Ceridwen had the best gender equality, with the boy and girls being nearly equal.  All their kids come from relatively small countries an they have none from Oceania.  I wonder if by the end of the first week at school Ragnhild is pining for the fjords?

Let's jump over to the middle right now.

Let’s jump over to the middle right now.

Though usually last in the lists, I’m doing Mórrígan now because I can.  Just like Ceridwen they have no kids from Oceania, but they get the other student from China, one who comes from Shanghai.  I promised I’d someday mention why getting students from China is a big deal and I promise that will happen–just not yet.  Mórrígan also tied Åsgårdsreia for the most A Levels, though their girl-to-boy ratio is only 2 to 1 while Åsgårdsreia’s is 3.5 to 1; Blodeuwedd had the greatest gender disparity with girls over boys 7 to 1.

And last but not least--

And last but not least–

Once more Cernunnos got the fewest A Levels and they didn’t get one student from the Americas this time.   They did pick up two Muslims–Yaman from Syria and Rajani from India–and Hayley Turner from Pink Lake, Western Australia–where you can find the real Pink Lake–has the most boring name of any of the A Levels.  Maybe today I’ll give all the new kids towns so we know where they are from exactly.  Because that’s how I roll.

Now, how about an excerpt?

I said a couple of days back that this Guardian edict may come with a twist and it doesn’t take us long to find out what they want…

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“So January to April?” Annie leaned forward in his seat, excited by this news. “I’m assuming they wouldn’t have us go out in May.”

Helena nodded. “Quite right. If they’re considering you for a field op, it will likely happen in the middle of winter or early spring. Also, given that these orders are coming directly from San Francisco, it leads me to believe that whatever it is they’ll have you doing will take place in North America. However, there’s a bit of a catch.” Once more she paused to ensure both kids were listening. “It is also highly likely you will not be going out together on the same mission.”

A puzzled look formed on Kerry’s face. “Wait, what? They’re going to put us on separate missions?”

Helena nodded. “It seems likely. Now wait—” She held up a hand as both teenagers began to protest. “While they were highly satisfied by how well you worked together in Kansas City, it’s standard procedure to break up a team at some point and see how they work with other people. The Guardians are nothing if not a team organization, and there’s only a few of us who get to work with the same team time and again, or even were alone.” She tilted her head to one side. “If you can’t work well with other operatives, your value as an operative is going to diminish. And I really wouldn’t want to see that happen with either of you.”

 

The Guardians are a group and as we’ve heard from Helena they usually work in groups.  That means you’re not always going out on your own, you’re part of the gang, and that means you have to know how to work with the gang.  It also means you likely won’t be working with the same people all the time, because it seems the Guardians like to match up skill sets and it goes without saying that Annie and Kerry are developing different skill sets.

If you can’t play well with others then it’s likely you’ll not become a good operative, and the Guardians are eager to check out these two ASAP.

Annie wasn’t happy with this news but she saw how it was a good omen for them. She reached out and touched Kerry’s left hand. “I look at it this way, my love: if they didn’t think we were any good, they probably wouldn’t want us working with another team yet.”

“Annie’s absolutely correct.” Helena punched up something else on her display. “When I say they were pleased with how well you did in Kansas City, I mean they were extremely pleased with how you handled yourselves. If they thought you still needed work they’d probably assign you to another Level 1 field op.”

Kerry didn’t bother asking what a Level 1 field operation was: he knew their Kansas City mission was just that. “So what would we go on? A Level 2 op?”

“Nope.” Helena shook her head. “A Level 2 is just more of what you were already on, only they tend to be a bit longer and you have to handle more duties. No, my guess is they’ll move you up to a Level 3, which is a minimum of a five person group.”

Annie seemed pleased. “That doesn’t sound too bad.”

“It’s not. And any Level 3 either of you would get assigned to probably be people with fewer than a half-dozen of those missions to the record. In other words, relatively new operatives like you.” Helena shrugged. “Of course, I can’t guarantee that will happen.”

He wasn’t sure, but Kerry thought he picked up something in Helena’s voice when she made her last statement. “Is there something you can guarantee?”

Helena hesitated before giving her reply. “There’s nothing I’ve seen in the report, nor is there anything I heard unofficially, but I believe that one of the reasons the Guardians are waiting until 2014 to send you on a field operation is because the waiting for Kerry to undergo his transition.”

Both kids shot hurried glances at each other before Kerry turned to Erywin. “How does she know?”

 

Now we know what a Level 1, 2, and 3 field ops are, and Annie’s Girl’s Weekend Out is likely going to be a Level 3 field op.  I’ve got this all worked out and know all the things like location of operation and objectives.  When Kerry’s comes it’ll likely be the same, but–what is this?  Helena knows about Kerry’s secret?  How did that happen, as Kerry asks?  The answer is easy–

 

“She knows because I had to tell her.” Erywin sat up so she would appear more attentive. “Helen is your Guardian contact here, and since the Guardians were told about your Gift, she would’ve learned of it eventually.”

Helena locked her hands across her tummy and tapped her thumbs together. “If it’s any consolation, Erywin told me the night you discovered you had this gift and you sort of—finalized the process that night.” Her hands slid down to her thighs as she sat forward in her chair. “Remember, I’m particularly good at keeping secrets, so I wasn’t going to tell anyone else. As it was, the Guardians contacted me in July and briefed me on your gift: I never gave any indication I already knew.”

After a few moments Kerry gave a couple of quick nods. “I suppose that’s true; it’s not like you would’ve told anyone else. Sorry for overreacting.”

Helena returned the nod. “No need to apologize.”

Worried that Kerry might not ask the question, Annie gave it a voice. “Why would the Guardian want Kerry to participate in a group field operation as a girl?”

“I’m not sure about that. The Guardians are like every other organization in The Foundation: they’re seventy-five to eighty percent female. Since the chances are good of you being on an all-girl team, Annie, I can see the Guardians wanting to do the same thing with Kerry. And since it’s possible that by the beginning of 2014 they’ll know if his Gift is controllable, maybe they want to see how he’s going to relate to the other team members as just another one of the girls.”

 

This is some rabbit hole shit right here.  Coraline informed The Foundation about Kerry’s Gift going active and it looks like they told the Guardians because, well, Annie and Kerry has done things for them as well as continuing training during their B Levels.  Erywin knew to tell Helena because, yeah, she’s the Guardian contact at the school, but she didn’t let the Guardians know that she knew, even when she was between hospital visits during July, 2013, and the Guardians sat her down for a briefing where she never let on that she already knew.  Talk about secrets within secrets.

The really big deal here is that the Guardians called Helena to a meeting to give her a briefing on one of her students and probably Annie as well, since she’s being monitors at the same time.  Are we still wondering if Annie and Kerry are officially part of Team Guardian?  ‘Cause this makes it sound like they are within the fold save for not knowing the secret handshake–

Now it seems like the Guardians want to push the envelope a bit and see if Kerry is just “one of the girls” when out on a mission.  However, he has a few things to say on the matter…

A Glimpse of the Coming Year: Reporting as Ordered

After such a long time I’m finally rolling into Chapter Eight.  It seemed like a good time to get into it, given that I’ve been writing here for a while.

Looks pretty nice, doesn't it?

Looks pretty nice, doesn’t it?

As you can see I’m about eight thousand words ahead of where this excerpt is starting, so I have plenty of stuff to put out before you catch up to where I’m at now–by which time I’ll have moved on to Chapter Nine.  And even though I didn’t write a lot last night–I only managed a bit over three hundred because I started writing late and had reached the point where if I continued writing I have been up until midnight–I’ll probably make up for that tonight and Saturday.  Or at least I’ll try.  Good life doesn’t always turn out the way we wanted to turn out.

Now, I said a while ago that Chapter Eight is where we actually start seeing the kids get the class, but I lied.  Actually, they are sort of in class, but they’re not.  As we start getting into the excerpt of the beginning of the first scene, you’ll see what I mean–

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

With the sky overcast and the temperatures in the low 20s Celsius Annie and Kerry decided to walk to the Witch House. They talked about it over breakfast and decided that while the weather was still good they should take every opportunity to enjoy the still warm temps: it wasn’t because they were worried about why they were reporting to the Witch House at nine—

The emails requesting their presence were sent out late in the evening and both children noticed some on their computer terminals when they awoke. There was no need to question why Helena Lovecraft needed to see them so early: as had happened the year before, both children figured they were going to hear about any possible Guardian-related activities with which they may be involved.

They didn’t even find it unusual that the message consisted of nothing but an order to report to the building at nine. After a year and a half of scrutiny by The Foundation’s intelligence gathering division, they’d come to believe that most of the discussions relating to Guardian activities would be done in a secure location.

And there were a few places at the school more secure than the Witch House.

Kerry closed the main entrance as Annie headed directly for Helena’s office. She looked inside and shook her head as Kerry approached; she wasn’t there. Both children headed directly for the stairs leading to the lower level, for if the Head Sorceress was in her ground-floor office, she was certainly in her more secure, lower level office, and in the dimness of the lower levels she saw the light coming from there with ease.

Annie gave a brief knock on the door frame before walking right in. “I should’ve known you were here from the beginning.”

Helena shrugged and leaned back in her leather chair. “Next time don’t have to wonder.”

Kerry was right behind Annie and he waved the door close as he greeted the other person in the room. “Are you always involved in this now?”

Erywin leaned against the left arm of her chair and crossed her legs. “I’m here more as an adviser, but since I’ve been involved with you in this agency since you became involved, it only makes sense I continue onward.”

 

Just like the year before it’s time for a little Guardian Gathering, and the Magical Four are doing their talking in the Lair of the Dark Sorceress.  However, they aren’t ready to get into the whole “Let’s discuss these orders” thing just yet:

 

Helena flipped her left hand towards the door, activating the security enchantment. “You both have a good time last night?”

Annie smiled as she crossed her arms. “Are you checking up on us now?”

“No, I’m not. It’s just…” Helena turned slightly in her chair and stared at Erywin.

Erywin cleared her throat. “It’s my understanding that you were both seen disappearing into the lower levels of the Great Hall around nineteen and no one saw you for the rest of the evening.”

Kerry tried to seem unconcerned. “We didn’t do anything wrong, did we?”

“As Helena said, not at all.” The Formulistic Magic instructor began drawing small circles on her chair arm with a fingernail. “I just assumed you headed off to your hidey hole for a few hours to get reacquainted.” She was smiling when she raised her head. “I would’ve thought you’d gotten enough of that in Paris.”

Annie and Kerry exchange sideways glances before Annie spoke. “And do all the instructors who matter know about that as well?”

Helena leaned a little further back in her chair. “Pretty much. And you have to understand that none of them really give a shite what you’re doing. As long as your extracurricular activities don’t interfere with your schooling, you can snog down there all day and night as far as anyone is concerned.” She sat up in her chair. “Ready to get started?”

Kerry was eager to do anything that didn’t involve discussing his personal life or his private affairs with his wife-to-be. “Sure thing.”

“Right that.” Helena touched her computer monitor screen twice, using the touch functions to retrieve data. “I received this yesterday around sixteen hours, which means San Francisco send it off just after lunch their time.” She cause for a moment to allow the suspense to build. “There is an excellent likelihood both of you will be assigned to a field operation at least once during the school year. They’re not giving a timetable, but reading between the lines of their message, I’m guessing whatever they have in mind will happen in 2014.”

 

Well, I guess the Private Universe isn’t as private as the Lovely Dovey Couple thought.  Just as with the instructors being aware of their off-site cohabiting, their home away from home isn’t exactly a secret, either.  This doesn’t mean that they know where this hiding place is located, but it’s known.  So how long before someone busts in on them?  It’ll probably be students and they better hope they don’t make anyone mad…

And here is the first conformation:  the Guardians are going to use the kids for something.  And since it looks like it won’t happen until after the Yule holiday, the kids have plenty of time to get ready.

However, there is a twist…

Back to Berlin: Our Summer Goodbyes

Yesterday I was in a great deal of pain.  Right about seven-thirty in the morning I pulled a muscle in my left calf–the one that gives me a lot of trouble every so often–and spent the day hobbling around in pain.  Believe me when I say it made the mile walk from work really interesting and slow.

So went I finally made it home I spent most of the time with an ice pack wrapped around my leg, or with one of those portable head packs stuck on my calf.  I have the ice pack on now, and I’ll take it and a heat pack with me to work because baby gotta make that money.

But that gave me a lot of time to write, and I cranked out nearly twelve hundred words to put the penultimate chapter to bed.

There it is, snoozing away peacefully.

There it is, snoozing away peacefully.

As you can see there is one more scene, and the binder on the left tells the tale of the tape:  there aren’t any other acts or parts or scenes to follow.  The end really is here, and it’s likely coming this weekend.

Right now it’s time to get off the plane, ’cause there are people awaiting–

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

They proceeded slowly down the walkway, keeping in step and looking straight ahead the all the way to the terminal. Just as they’d done in Vienna they didn’t release their grips on each other’s hand, not even when they spotted Pavlina Kirilova chatting with Ms. Rutherford, both whom turned toward them as they approached.

They stopped when they were about four meters from the two women. Annie turned to Kerry. “Watch my luggage?”

“I got it.” He nodded towards her mother. “Go on.”

“Thank you.” Annie quickly covered the rest of the distance and threw her arms around her mother. “Mama—”

“Dobre doshŭl u doma, Anelie.” Pavlina hugged her daughter tight. “Mnogo mi lipsvashe.”

Annie looked up, smiling. “Az propusnakh Papa i ti sŭshto—”

While the Kirilovas were reuniting, Ms. Rutherford strolled over to her charge. “Welcome back, Kerry.”

“Thank you, Ms. Rutherford.” He spent a few seconds appearing sheepish. “I guess I’m glad to be back.”

“Hum.” She patted his cheek. “There are more than a few of us happy to see you home. And I’m certain your parents want to see you as well.”

“Yeah—at least for a few minutes.”

She leaned closer and allowed her voice to drop to a whisper. “Let’s try to keep a positive attitude. Now isn’t the time to sink into despair.” She lay a hand upon a shoulder. “Yes?”
Erywin appeared at his side with Helena behind her. “Listen to her, Kerry. She’s looking looking out for you.”

Ms. Rutherford smile. “I am.”

“I know this as well.” Pavlina and Annie joined the three women gathered around the young boy. “How are you, Kerry?”

 

The Kirilovas have a nice little reunion while Ms. Rutherford comes over and welcomes him home and gives him a little encouragement not to get down on himself without reason.  He’s worried about what’s coming next, and who can blame him?

Now even Annie’s mom is getting in on the act–

 

“I’m fine, Mrs. Kirilovi.” He smile, happy that Annie’s mother was actually concerned about his well being.

She seemed pleased with the answer. “Did you enjoy the rest of the school year?”

“Oh . . .” He glance over to Helena and Erywin before looking at Annie. “It was certainly a lot different from last year.”

“Just wait until next year: the C Levels tend to be even more difficult than the B Levels.” She wrapped an arm around Annie’s shoulders. “I’m quite certain you’ll both do better than expected.”

Annie looked over and up. “I certainly hope so, Mama.”

Kerry had to work at not laughing at Annie’s comment. “Where’s Mr. Kirilov? I thought he might be here.”

“He’s in Canada, believe it or not; Canadian Grand Prix is this next weekend, and his team is doing some testing in Montreal.” She looked at Annie. “He should be arriving home in about thirty minutes.”

“I understand, Mama.” A moment of sadness passed between Kerry and her. “We must be going—”

“But not just yet.” She released Annie and motioned towards the other three women. “I need to confirm a few things with your instructors about your ‘lunch dates’ this summer, and I think Ms. Rutherford should be a part of this as well. It shouldn’t take long.” Pavlina stepped away from the group. “Ladies, I think it’s quieter over this way . . .”

 

The date on the Canadian Grand Prix is correct:  it happened 9 June, 2013, the second Sunday after Annie came home from her B Levels.  And this is the first hint that things are going to be harder in the following school year, though at this point there’s no reason to believe it’s going to be that way.

Now, what is Mama Kirilova discussing?  Probably not much, but the kids pick up on this right away–

 

While all four women huddled together about five meters away, Annie slipped up next to Kerry. “That was nice of Mama.”

The smile on Kerry’s face found its way to his eyes. “She’s giving us a change to really say goodbye.”

“Yes.” A crestfallen look came over her face for a moment. “I know we’ll see each other in a few weeks, but—”

“I know.” He slightly lowered her head. “I don’t want to leave you.”

“I don’t, either.” She looked down for a moment. “I will miss you ever second you’re away, my mlechna banitsa.”

“And I will miss you, my malko sarmi.” He glanced over Annie shoulder to see if they we being watched, then looked upon Annie’s eyes and smiling face. “What?”

“If you’re going to kiss me, my love—” She grabbed the folds of his tee shirt. “Then kiss me.” She leaned in and kissed him slow and tenderly upon the lips. “After all, I am your wife.”

He chuckled after kissing her back. “About that—”

“I’m not ready to tell that to Mama. I’m certain she’d understand, but—” Annie shook her head. “Maybe in another year. Besides, it’s something I’d like you present for when that happens.”

Kerry instantly imagined him sitting with Annie and her parents, probably at a dinner, perhaps at her house. “I agree. And I’d like you present when we tell my folks as well.”
“Something else to plan for next year.” She pulled Kerry close once more. “I love you, Kerry.”

“I love you, Annie.” He held her by the shoulders as he leaned in and kissed her lovingly once more—

Annie.”

 

Yeah, Kerry:  you’re supposed to kiss your wife goodbye!  What’s wrong with you?  Also, you should get reminded probably, oh, once every day that Annie considers you guys married.  Then again, Kerry accepts that, so no big deal there, right?

But who caught these two in a kiss?  Only one person–or four:

 

They both broke their embrace and found Pavlina, Ms. Rutherford, and Helena and Erywin standing a few meters away. Annie acted as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. “Yes, Mama?”

“We must go.” She held out her right arm. “Dinner awaits.”

“Yes, Mama.” Annie gathered up her luggage and took a moment to touch Kerry’s face. “I’ll see you in three weeks—” She turned to the instructors. “Is that right?”

Helena shrugged. “About that long, yes.”

Annie let her fingers glide down Kerry’s cheek. “I will see you then.”

“I’ll see you then—my love.” He took her head. “And in my dreams.”

“Mine, too.” She moved next to Pavlina and gave Kerry a small wave before they walked off and vanished into the terminal crowd.

Helena and Erywin waved to Kerry as Ms. Rutherford took up position on his right. “Take care, Kerry.” Erywin gave him a warm smile. “See you in a few weeks.”

“Take care Kerry—” Helena offered a smile and a nod as she took Erywin’s hand. “Have a good summer.”

“I will. Thank you both.” He waited until they both vanished among the Berlin crowd before turning to Ms. Rutherford. “At last: just you and I.”

“Yes, it is.” She motioned them forward with a nod. “Shall we?”

He gave a nonchalant shrug. “Why not?”

They were about twenty seconds into their stroll when Ms. Rutherford offered an observation. “You’re better than last year.”

“You mean I’m not an emotional wreck.” He glanced over with a smile. “It’s okay. I was a blubbering mess last year.”

“And you’re not sad now?”

“I’m sad, it’s just—” He touched his heart. “That part of Annie you told me about is right here, and I know a piece of me is with her. There’s a hurt, but—” He remembered Eyrwin’s words from a year and a half ago. “It’s a good hurt.”

“I can hear it a little in your voice.” Ms. Rutherford slowed her pace. “Do you want a minute before we go on?”

He closed his eyes for a second as the emotions he tried admitting weren’t there began to welling upwards. “It might not be a bad idea.” He stared off into the distance. “Given what’s going to happen in the next thirty minutes, it’s better to have a good cry now than later . . .”

 

Annie gets busted and just blows it off like it’s no big deal.  Everyone says their goodbyes and leaves Kerry with Ms. Rutherford.  And Annie vanishing into the crowd of Terminal A is the last we see of her this novel:  she won’t show again until she opens the first scene of the next novel.  Kerry’s not a “blubbering mess” as he was last year, though he’s letting Ms. Rutherford know he’s probably going to need a moment to have a cry.  For he’s only a quick jaunt away from Cardiff–

Yes, the end is just about here.

Now to get Kerry home for that most important meeting . . .

Back to Berlin: The Almost Final Farewells

It’s Penultimate Scene Time and the living is easy.  Or so I imagined before I blew out the only light bulb I had in the house and had to use a few of the light in the apartment to get around.  It wasn’t that bad, but it was a lot dimmer than I usually have in the joint.

 On the other hand, it sets the mood perfectly if you wanna be goofy and work on your heart hands display.

On the other hand, it sets the mood perfectly if you wanna be goofy and work on your heart hands display.

The flight is over, and my kids are on the ground, more or less, out of their seats and ready to take the last few steps to the terminal.  But while they are ready, they are hardly willing–

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Outside the plane the sun was setting and twilight would soon come to the city of Berlin. None of that was of concern to Kerry: at the moment he was standing by his luggage not far from their seats in the nose of the A330-300 and waiting with Annie as they watch the other students file out of the aircraft and head down to the walkway to Gate A10 of Terminal A of Tegel Airport.

Neither Annie or he were in a hurry to leave the aircraft. Once they were out on to the walkway it was a thirty second stroll to the terminal, where Annie’s mother and Ms. Rutherford were waiting for them. Once they were with them they would likely have another couple of minutes together, and like that—poof. They’d go their separate ways and not see each other again for—well, not the entire summer as they had expected last year, but a few weeks would pass before they could spend half a day together having lunch, strolling through London, and missing each other completely.

This was one of those moments when Kerry wished he could go home with Annie and spend the summer living out of her lake house, though he knew that dream was impossible.

 

I know what you’re thinking:  why doesn’t Kerry go spend the summer with Annie?  Just tell Ms. Rutherford he doesn’t want to go home and head for the mountains of Bulgaria, right?  One, it doesn’t work like that:  unless The Foundation thinks his parents might just kill his ass the moment he outs himself, he still has to go home and tell his folks the true.  And Two:  if you were Annie’s mom, would you want The Ginger Hair Boy of your daughter’s dreams sleeping four hundred meters away from your child?  While she might trust them not to do, um, things, maybe she doesn’t want Annie out there playing sucker face with her boyfriend all the time.  “Mama, I’m going out to the lake out to, um . . . work on spells.  Yeah, that’s what I’m gonna do.”  Mama Kirilova isn’t stupid, you know.

Right now they are siting at Gate A10, which is right below, in the lower center of the picture, where the plane closest to the center line is parked.

From one international terminal to another.

From one international terminal to another.

And I got to use my neat astronomy program as well to see what the sky was like–

Even left the date and time in place to prove I've in the right space/time coordinates.

Even left the date and time in place to prove I’ve in the right space/time coordinates.

Strangely enough, the first paragraph had me setting the time about an hour later, cause I wrote in the first paragraph that it was almost dark outside and the light were doing a great job of holding back the darkness–and then I thought, “I should check the sky, just to be sure.”  And . . . I needed to rewrite that first paragraph, ’cause I would have looked stupid if I’d left that line in place.  And I don’t want to look stupid.

Now that all the geographical stuff and reasons for Kerry going home are out of the way, let’s see what my kids are about to do–other than be sad, that is:

 

The last few students deplaned as Kerry looked down at the floor. “About time to go.”

“Yes, it is.” Annie hooked her arm around his. “You know what to do, my love?”

He nodded. “Don’t cry in front of your mother, and write to you: not type, but write by hand.”

She stood before him and kissed his lips. “You are too good to me.”

He wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “You’re supposed to be treated good all the time, so I do.”

“Hey, you two.” They turned and saw Helena standing in the doorway to their section of the cabin. “You’re the last on the plane, and these people want to go home as well.” She motioned at them. “Come on, party’s over, let’s go.”

They headed out towards the entrance, Annie leading the way. Helena stepped out of the way so they could make their way into the plane’s entry area. Erywin stood on the other side of the open door. Annie sigh was full of sadness. “It is time to go, isn’t it?”

“’Fraid so, Deary.” Erywin walked over and gave Annie a gentle hug. “Don’t worry: we’ll get you back with your ginger boy soon enough.”

“And for that we thank you guys.” Kerry looked at Helena as he spoke. “You guys are doing so much . . .” He started to choke up as his emotions started getting the better of him.

Annie reached for his hand. “My love—”

Kerry quickly wiped his eyes and nodded. “I’m okay.” He took three deep breaths so he could regain his composure. “Really, I’m good: I won’t lose it.”

Helena wrapped an arm around Kerry and gave him a solid hug, then did the same to Annie. “Come on, let’s get the hell out of here.”

“Yes, let’s.” Erywin went over and gave Kerry a final hug. “You remember, if things go bad at home—”

“I won’t forget, Erywin.” He managed a slight smile. “I’m certain Ms. Rutherford won’t either.”

“She better not.” The Formulistic Magic instructor stepped to the side of her sorceress partner. “We’ll follow you out.”

Annie smiled at them. “Thank you.” She turned and held out her hand. “Shall we, my love?”

He took her hand. “Let’s do this.”

She nodded once. “Let’s.”

 

If there is anything you can say about The Mistress of All Things Dark and her Don’t Call Her the Potions Mistress partner, it’s that they do care for these two a great deal.  As has likely been noted, and even pointed out, Helena and Erywin are kind of the father/mother figures both kids are looking for, because for all her hard ass attitude Helena is quick to heap praise on Annie where it’s deserved, and for all her snarkiness and “don’t give a shit” attitude about most things, Erywin is the one who knows how to comfort Kerry and, yes, even show him affection.  If you don’t believe this “Come Live With Us, Kerry” move wasn’t Erywin’s doing to start, you’re not paying attention.

Sure, Helena agreed to it because she, too, likes Kerry, but she did it partially because Erywin probably wanted it, and partially because if she’d said “no”, she’d have had a pissed off little Bulgarian sorceress giving her stink eye.  And we can’t have that.  It’s the same with getting them together over the summer:  Helena knows how much it means to Annie, so . . .

So the goodbyes from the Favorite Instructors is over and the plane is finally empty.

All that remains are the last goodbyes . . .

In the Inn: Stated Feelings

Novel writing was had last night, and it was a bit more than I thought:  Six hundred an sixty-six words.  Oooooooh!  I’ve done that before, too, so maybe this isn’t a coincidence.  You never know, right?

I was jamming through some interesting music last night, as I got back to my Chicago pop roots while writing.  Started getting into some old Cheap Trick, particularly their 80s stuff, which is when they were writing some great pop while sounding a lot like early-60s Beatles.  Some of the stuff was successful, but one of my favorite songs was I Can’t Take It, which didn’t do well as a single or video, but was always a hit with the fans, probably because all of us have been in the position laid out the lyrics.  I also love the lyric progression during the song, which makes it difficult to sing if you don’t have music.

And the other I’ve got in my head this morning is If You Want My Love, which is probably their most Beatlesque song ever.  This is the alternate version of the song, which returns over four lines of lyrics before the ultimate fade out::

Yeah, I’ll probably have these stuck in my head most of the day, and at some point they’ll get added to Kerry’s song list.

As for Kerry–well, he’s learning that Erywin and Helena have made an offer to put him up should he get kicked out of the house by his parent, and now that we return from yesterday’s fade-out, we find it’s more than that:

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“Thought—” Helena crossed her arms and looked satisfied. “I believe we’re your only choice.”

There was something about the certainly in Helena’s statement that caught Kerry’s attention. “What do you mean?”

“She means we have rigged the game slightly in our favor.” Erywin glanced at the women on either side of her before turning back to the young couple at the foot of the bed. “The afternoon of your birthday, while Annie and you were out flying, we—Helena, Deanna, and I—contacted your case worker, Ms. Rutherford—”

Deanna deftly cut in on the conversation. “Actually, we went to see her: we jaunted to London.”

Erywin gave her a quick nod. “Yes, that’s true. We met with her for about an hour, and Helena and I explained how we thought if your situation at home were to deteriorate, we wanted you to come and live with us.” The instructor looked down for a moment. “We have a guest room at the Woodingdean house that we’ve never used because, well, we don’t actually have guests stay over night: anyone who shows up doesn’t require an overnight stay.”

“I went as a fellow coven leader and counselor.” Deanna looked to the women on her left with a slight grin on her face. “I wanted to assure your case worker that neither Erywin or Helena were intent on showing you any favoritism at school, nor would having you live with them affect the way they’d instruct you in the future.” She chuckled. “Which we know they won’t, but it helped to have another person with the same status as Erywin tell this to your case worker.”

 

Here is appears that all three instructors left the school the afternoon of 3 May, 2013, jaunted to London to meet with Ms. Rutherford, and let her know that The Mistress of Formulistic Magic and the Head Sorceress would put up Kerry for how ever long he’d require, and oh, don’t even consider any other location.

And what is meant by “The Woodingdean house”?  That’s Erywin’s house in England, specifically her home within the nice confines of Woodingdead, a suburb of the city of Brighton and home to about ten thousand people who maintain a village-like atmosphere while being completely unaware there are a couple of witches living in their confines.  It’s a nice, quiet place to live, and one that probably matches both women’s demeanor when they’re away from the school.

Just when you think you wouldn't know where witches live--

Just when you think you wouldn’t know where witches live–

And if Erywin has a home, does Helena as well?  Yes, she does, down on the North Island of New Zealand outside the town of Ngongotaha, which is located just north of Rotorua.  The place is also, I’m told, home to a large Māori population, and the second most spoken language in the area is Te Reo Māori, or The Language of the Māori.  All of which fits right in with Helena’s background.

So how does Kerry feel about this?  About how you’d expect:

 

For several second Kerry was unable to say anything. He knew Erywin and Helena—and Deanna, for that matter—considered Annie and he to be more than just students, that they considered them friend and respected the fact that they never tried to take advantage of that friendship. But this seems to go beyond mere friendship . . . “I don’t know what to say, guys.” He struggled to keep his emotions in check.

Erywin came over and slipped her arm around the boy’s shoulders. “You’re with friends, Kerry: there’s no need to say anything. We know how you feel.”

“And we knew this news might be a bit overwhelming—” Helena allowed her arms to drop to her side. “Which is why we didn’t spring this on you at dinner.”

“The thing is, Kerry—” Erywin’s tone softened slightly. “—I’ve been though this myself. I had to leave home mid-way through the summer after my C Levels because it had become too dangerous for me to stay. It happens even now: there are a couple of your levelmates who aren’t going home because The Foundation is fearful of what might happen when they come out to their parents.” She squatted down so she could better see Kerry’s face. “The same could happen to you, and if it does we want you to end up with people who not only care for you, but will try to make the event less traumatic.” She gave his hair a quick tousle. “That soul mate of yours isn’t the only one who loves you, you know.”

 

Finally we have one of the instructors expressing something that sounds a lot like maternal affection for Kerry, and likely Annie as well–after all, who was it who hooked these two up for a London lunch at the beginning of the novel?  It’s been stated that Erywin probably sees a lot of herself in Kerry, or at least Helena does, and that they also see a lot of Helena in Annie.  It’s quite likely that Erywin would probably be a better mother towards Kerry that Kerry’s own mom, and who know?  Maybe we’ll see that one day.  Makes one wonder how he’s flourish if he were to move to that environment.

After that there’s just a show fade-out:

 

Kerry couldn’t hold back any longer. The moment he wrapped his arms around Erywin and began hugging her, the tears began flowing. Though he’d always suspected Erywin’s—and, as well, the other instructors in the room— care for Annie and he went beyond mere academic interest, this was the first time any of them professed such deep affection. “Thank you, Erywin. And you know—” He choked up for a few seconds. “I feel the same way for you—” He looked towards the other women in the room. “All of you.”

Annie stood next to Kerry and held him close. “As do I—” She gave him a kiss on the cheek and turned to the older instructors whom she loved nearly as much as the boy who was her soul made. “As I always will.”

 

And we leave that part of the adventure behind.  There is but one last scene in Chapter Thirty-four, and once that’s written we’re prepared to not only leave Salem behind, the the whole of North America as well . . .