Lexi shook awake as the car came to a stop. Sleeping in a car can never be comfortable, can it? She thought. She hurt everywhere. Her neck from being bent while she leaned against the window, her knees from being cramped in the car for so long…Even her butt hurt from sitting too long. She let out a groan as she made her first movements, stretching her legs as much as possible in the floorboard . "Are we here?"
Dillon nodded. "We're here." He turned back into the back seat. "Roger, we're here."
The dark haired man looked like he could almost be asleep, if not for furrowed brow he wore on his face as he focused on the enchantment held over their car. Sven looked to be in about the same state, with sweat gathering on his forehead and breathing forced steady.
Roger took in a deep breath and opened his eyes. As he did, Sven inhaled as well before falling sideways against Roger's shoulder.
Lexi's eyes widened. "Is he okay?" She turned over in her seat, almost climbing into the back with them. "What happened?"
"He's just tired. He's still young for a fey. I'm surprised he held up this long, but without him the enchantment would have fallen hours ago." Roger took a drink of the water Dillon got him, not bothering to move Sven from his shoulder. "Is she home, Dil?"
"The light's on. So I assume so."
Lexi turned around taking in the building in front of her. She didn't know what she'd expected when they started the drive to the famous witch's house, however what they had arrived at was far beyond her expectations. Ahead of her sat a storefront with painting over the window that looked as though it'd been handmade reading "Psychic Readings: Reveal your future here." Over the door was a neon sign that flickered as though it were ready to short out and die at any moment. The store shared a building with a Mexican supermarket next door.
"I thought she was a witch… not a psychic."
"Don't be ridiculous. Psychics aren't real." Dillon grinned at her. "She just reads peoples past and gives them some vague tips about the future in exchange for more money than she deserves."
Roger opened the door, lying Sven down in the back seat as he climbed out. "Come on. I need to stretch my legs."
"Are we just leaving him here?" Lexi looked back at her sleeping friend as she climbed out of the car. "This doesn't seem like the neighborhood to leave him sleeping like that…he's defenseless."
Roger chuckled. "I linked with the guy, believe me he's not defenseless even to be so young." He smiled a bit. "That drive did kind of drain him though. I'll carry him inside."
Dillon stretched as far as his limbs would stretch, fists reaching to the skies, as he first stepped onto the concrete. "Let's get this over with." He stepped in front of Lexi to lead the way into the small store.
The flimsy bell over the door rang as they entered. Lexi's nostrils were filled with the scent of cheap incense as she glanced around the dimly lit lobby. She supposed it was a lobby. There were a few chairs against the wall, one of them was missing the cushioned seat and sat instead as a metal frame with a cushioned back.
The register sat on top of a glass counter filled with makeshift souvenirs from the shop such as "feather from an angel's wing: for protection from evil" or "fairy dust: for making wishes come true." Behind the register was a doorway blocked off by a black sheet nailed to the walls on either side the opening that was too long and pooled on the tile floor.
"Comiiinng!" A voice rang out from the back. Moments later a figure emerged—or rather attempted to as she fought with the "curtain" over the doorway. Once past the entranceway the girl smiled a large white smile line in a deep red that lit up her face. She looked close to Lexi's age, perhaps a bit older. Her eyes were dark brown, seemingly black in the light, and her white-blonde hair was cut straight chin-length around her head. "Dillon!"
Lexi didn't have a chance to blink before the girl's arms were wrapped around the elf in a hug. She was squealing like a school girl bouncing in place as she held him. "Why didn't you tell me you were coming, silly? I could have fixed the place up!"
"This is fixed up for you, Marge." He pushed the young witch off of him with effort, causing her to pout in response. "Look you have chairs now."
"Who are these newcomers? Did you bring me customers, Dilly?" She didn't wait for him to respond before turning to Lexi and bowing low, sweeping up the costume cloak she was wearing as she did. "You've come to the right place, mortal. For I am Margeaux, seer of the future and all secrets of the past."
"We didn't bring them to give you some money, Marge. We need your help." Roger readjusted the sleeping fairy in his arms as he spoke. "Can you let me put him down somewhere?"
Margeux pouted again, causing her to look no older than a teenager before she led the way into the back room, stumbling over the sheet again. Lexi watched as she waved her manicured hand at the front door, causing the flickering sign to cut off, and the door to lock as they left the room.
The hallway was covered in star shaped glow-in-the-dark stickers and lit only by a black light bulb. They passed by another room blocked off by a curtain before reaching a staircase in the back of the store. At the top was a completely different experience than the sham psychic shop below. Photographs lined the wall of different landmarks and different poses Margeux had staged. A long wrap-around couch divided the kitchen and dining room from the den. Lexi could see a balcony lining the windows, and a ladder to the fire escape.
"Sit down and make yourself comfortable. I'm going to change out of my work clothes." The blonde waved them off as she spoke, heading for another room.
Roger laid Sven down on the couch and stretched his arms. "Kid sleeps like a log." He said, popping his shoulders a bit."
Lexi looked from him to Dillon. "Is this the right place? That's the witch? You're sure?"
Dillon nodded. "Yeah that's Marge. She's a bit different…"
"How old is she? Couldn't you have an older magic friend?"
Roger laughed almost too loudly. "Older? Damn the woman is over three-hundred how much older do you want her?"
Lexi's jaw went slack. She thought back to the girl in the next room and couldn't believe the elf's words. There was no way, was there? "She…Three hundred?"
"Now now, Roger." Margeux had emerged from her room wearing a translucent blue shirt over black cami, tight black leather pants. Lexi had to admit, the outfit change definitely gave her a more mature look. "You don't reveal a woman's age, it's rude." With that, she fell onto the couch, crossing one leg over the other, and smiled at the men. "Now. What can I do for you handsome fellows today?"
Dillon stood a safe distance from the witch while Roger sat in the corner of the couch between Sven's feet and the section Margeux had claimed. Lexi was unsure as to whether or not she should sit. The witch had barely acknowledged her existence, let alone had she let Lexi feel welcome there.
"I know you didn't drive all this way just for a visit." Her lip curled into a smirk. "Well, not that I'd complain if you did." Her eyes were focused on the younger elf, ignoring her comment.
"Like Roger said, we need a favor from you. If you don't mind." He leaned against the shelf next to him. "We need to find out who someone is, and we have no way of doing that without possibly putting ourselves in danger."
Margeux smiled. "You came to me for protection. I'm so flattered, Dillon." She cut him off before he could correct her. "I knew you needed me, and I always knew you'd come running to me."
"Marge." Roger looked at her, snapping her attention away from his nephew. "Are you going to help us or not?"
Lexi watched the woman sigh and stand up with a jump from the couch. Even with the heels on her boots, Margeux was still almost a head shorter than her, causing her to look even younger than she already did. "Fine fine. You know I'll always help you, don't you Dilly?" She smiled up at the elf and poked his nose as she spoke.
Dillon batted her hand away from him, as if she were a fly too close to his face. "Stop calling me that."
Margeux giggled softly. "So you know the deal. I have to have something that belongs to the person in question. I can't do anything without it."
Roger looked at Lexi, as did Dillon. No one had told her that part. She was completely unprepared. "I… I don't have anything. I left the house with what was in my hands…"
"Then I can't help you." Margeux sat back down, looking over her bright red nails as if inspecting for some sort of flaw. "You two knew that, you should have passed the knowledge on. Or perhaps called like a civil person."
Dillon rolled his eyes. "We have something."
"We do?" Lexi looked at him with blue eyes filled with curiosity. "Where?"
"Right here." He grinned, dropping his hand lightly on Lexi's head.
Margeux sighed. "I've told you. Exes don't count as belongings, Dillon."
This statement earned a glare from the brunette as he turned to the witch. "She's not his ex. She's his changeling."
Margeux's eyes wandered from her nails up to the boy. "I'm interested. So she's the belonging, and has been claimed by a…?"
"Fairy. His name is Warren." Roger leaned back on the couch, still visibly exhausted from the consumption of his magic along the ride. "We just need to know what we're up against."
The blonde was closer leaned in closer to Lexi than Lexi felt necessary, causing her to step back a bit. When she did, Margeux's long fingers grabbed her by the jaw. "Don't move." She said. "I'm thinking." Her dark eyes were sparkling with amusement. "I've never used a changeling to trace before." She smiled darkly, turning back towards the rest of the room. "Let's try it!"
"Wait wait…" Lexi regained her composure if only enough to speak for a moment. "I'm not an object. I'm not something you'll be able to throw into a magic brew or burn in magic flames or anything…"
Margeux let out a laugh, loud and full, filling the room. "How many stupid books have you read, girl? If I was going to burn you or cook you do you think I'd do it in front of these two goody goods? Besides, humans smell disgusting cooked, I don't have a taste for dark brews like that. I tend to be much more civil in my ways of tracing, thank you."
Lexi watched as the woman began to walk away, looking at Roger and Dillon briefly.
"What are you waiting on? Come with me." She waved at the girl quickly. Lexi hesitated slightly, causing Margeux to place her hands on her hips, tapping the toe of her boot against the floor. "Come on. Remember I'm doing you a favor, you don't have time to be nervous."
Lexi followed the woman, glancing back at the men behind her. Roger had lain back against the back of the couch, arms crossed and eyes closed. Dillon smiled at her warmly, giving her a thumbs up. She couldn't help but smile a little at him before turning back to the witch and following her into the next room.
The door opened to what seemed to be an office doubled as a pantry. Spice jars lined the walls, a desk sat in the middle with a chair on either side. "Sit." The chair on the opposite side of the desk pulled out as Margeux browsed the shelves. Lexi did as she was told and took the seat presented to her.
"I can tell that you don't know anything about magic, but I'm going to need you to trust me." She pulled down a single jar before sitting across from her. "I can't promise you this will be painless. But it the pain will be quick." She took Lexi's hand in her own. Lexi was surprised how soft the girl's hands were then they weren't squeezing her jaw painfully. "I'm going on the idea that you want to know this as much as they do."
Lexi nodded. "I do. It's just a lot to take in. I just found out about everything."
"Three days ago, I know." Margeux smiled, pointing at Lexi's hand in hers. "Psychics might not be able to read the future in your hand, but I can read your past. You lived with a man who cared for you up until yesterday. You aren't sure if he can be trusted, but you want him to be. You want to believe that he's good." Margeux patted the top of her hand gently, like an elderly woman does to a child with a naïve idea. "We'll find all that out soon."
"What do I need to do?" Lexi sat straight, preparing herself for anything. She looked into the eyes facing her, feeling she could see the years behind them.
"Take a deep breath." Lexi obeyed her instructions. However as she did, Margeux's long red nail dug into her palm, making her pull instinctively, but Margeux's grip was strong. Her lungs tried to scream as she saw the first site of blood but no sound came out. Margeux gripped her wrist before sliding a vial from the desk drawer out and collecting what dripped from Lexi's hand.
Lexi had given up on making sound. She couldn't tell how deep Margeux had dug her nail into her hand, but she could feel how deep it throbbed. She could feel the pain up her entire arm. Margeux never let go of her wrist, however. Instead she got the jar she'd taken from the shelf and poured the contents over Lexi's hand. "All better." She looked up at Lexi with a sugar sweet smile as if she'd put a bandage over a small scratch.
Her blue eyes narrowed at the witch sitting in front of her. She didn't know what Margeux had put over her hand, but the pain stopped. "You can talk now, I took the spell back off."
"You muted me?" She wanted to stand and leave, but Lexi's knees were still weak from the shock of having the witch's fingernail inside her hand.
"Had to. If you'd screamed it would have gotten the guys rushing in here for no reason, and it would have been really annoying."
Lexi continued glaring silently as the witch got up, putting the herbs she'd poured over Lexi's hand back on the shelf. "What was that stuff?" Her curiosity was killing her.
"Family recipe. Stops pain. It'll stop when it's healed. I only do that on things that I know won't get infected though, otherwise the body will never know it's getting worse." She held up the vial of Lexi's blood to the light, examining it closely.
"What are you going to do with that?"
"Your blood is his blood." She said simply. "I have to ask it who it belongs to."
"Ask the blood." Lexi eyed her closely.
"Yes. Ask the blood." Margeux looked down at the girl still seated. "I'll get more if I need to." When Lexi didn't respond she handed her a roll of bandages. "Cover up your hand."
"When are you going to ask it?" She tried to hide her sarcasm, but judging by Margeux's glare, Lexi hadn't succeeded.
"Soon. Don't rush me." She pulled a jar from her desk, a black liquid. Slowly she poured the liquid into the vial and mixed it in her hand until the vial was filled with black. "Ink." She explained, before Lexi could ask. Margeux pulled a fountain pen from the cup on the edge of the desk and placed it into the mixture, filling it with the ink-blood.
She then placed a sheet of paper on the desk, not bothered by the blood she'd set the paper onto that had fallen from Lexi's hand moments before. "Time for the big finale." Her red lips curled into a grin as she brought the pen down onto the paper.
Lexi watched the pen closely. Margeux moved it slowly and elegantly over the paper, eyes focused on the pen itself. After she'd stopped writing, Margeux took her hand off of the pen, letting it stand on its own at the end of the question on the page. Who do you come from?
The pen moved across the paper in sloppy light strokes. I come from two people.
Her blue eyes were wide as she looked down at the page. Despite all the work Sven and Roger had done along the way, this was her first true sight of magic. She looked back up to see Margeux reaching over to take the pen again. Who owns you?
The pen stood still. Lexi worried that the magic had run out after three sentences. Instinctively she hid her hands under the desk. Suddenly, however, the pen began to move in slow careful strokes across the page. Lexi looked up at Margeux as the pen stopped. "What does that mean?"
Margeux's dark eyes were wide, her cheeks pale. "This can't be right."
"What?" Lexi watched the woman stand suddenly and head for the door. "Margeux wait!" Lexi stood and was shoved back into her seat as the witch through up her hand.
"Stay there. Just…just stay there."
Margeux walked down the hallway, heels clicking loudly. When she returned she was followed by two sets of footsteps. Dillon and Roger crowded on either side of her, looking down at the piece of paper.
Roger's brows furrowed on his forehead. "That's a mistake."
"That's what I said. But it hasn't corrected. If it were a mistake the pen would have corrected itself."
"What is it?" Lexi looked up at the group, feeling like a lost child. "What does that mean?"
"It means this is a lot bigger than we'd expected." Dillon sighed, sitting on the edge of the desk. "Because that is who your fey really is." His hand came down, pointing at the word written on the page.