By Cordelia's calculation, the spell should be cast at the very end of a waning moon, just before its light faded completely from the sky. That would definitely happen too soon this month, and possibly the next month's new moon was also too soon. The month after?
"You're putting it off. You want her to feel your fear and grow afraid in waiting, but she won't."
So it was set for the month after next. Anne and Cordelia both had lists of things to collect. Each item was spelled, either in collection of after it arrived at the apartment. In addition, Cordelia led Anne through a series of mystic exercises, to ready them for the final casting and ensure that they could work together. Each became quieter and quieter as the deadline approached. Even Patch could find little beyond, "you're afraid," to say.
The day of the spell, Anne skipped school. She and Cordelia cleaned in an inward spiral, first the walkways around the building, then the herb beds, then the apartment walls, outside and in, then the kitchenette and bath, then in a spiral that ended at the coffee table. Then they cleansed themselves, first by washing and then by other means.
"If there is anything you need to say, any fear or douby that might interfere with your concentration, speak it now." Cordelia was braiding herbs and ribbons into Anne's hair.
"Nothing specific. And nothing . . . well, it would be silly after all we've done. But I keep wanting to say that you don't need to do this. I mean, if there's really a reason not to."
"I need to do this. It needs to be done and if I don't do it, the only reason would be my own cowardice. And I need not to be a coward. I also need to not talk about it. And I need your trust. I need you to trust that I can do this and tell you why I was afraid later."
"Do you need me to braid your hair?"
So they began. All of the components and participants were dedicated to the spell. Then they stood and meditated, allowing the feel of the interactions within the spell to become part of them, feeling and understanding the spell in a loose form before tightening it up.
The hours of meditation were difficult for Anne because she was unpracticed and because it was contrary to her personality. They were difficult for Cordelia for other reasons. Silently each woman worked to master herself within the spell.
When Anne was settled into the spell, she laid down on the table. When Cordelia was ready, she lifted the tooth. Slowly, again and again, each component was dedicated and rededicated to the spell. Power sang in the room as the spell tightened, knotting probability into truth. Anne concentrated on the words and on holding herself still as something reached through her to tear the heart out of the universe.
"I feel so disconnected. I remember once we came down a mountain while I was asleep in the car. I woke with my ears hurting and mother told me to pop my ears. I thought she was nuts. But I yawned, like she showed me, and there was a whining roar and the pressure stopped. And I could hear better, but for awhile hearing seemed like a very strange thing. Now it feels like I've popped all of me. Everything seems strange."
"Everything is different. You're different. You're also exhausted. Hit the buttons on the microwave and the oven. That's chicken noodle soup and muffins. There's jam and butter in the refrigerator and honey in the cupboard. I'll clear away in here. We'll drop the wards tomorrow morning."
"Okay. What's Patch screeching about?"
"I don't know. You see, magpies are very difficult to familiarize. I think I only succeeded because my mother believed that I could do anything. It's very likely . . . "
There was a crash in the kitchen. Anne rounded the partition wall, looking stricken. She stopped and sputtered in place, burdened with too many conflicting questions. Part of her wanted to hug Cordelia, but Cordelia would plainly not welcome that.
"Was that the honey or the jam?"
"JAM?! What did we just do?"
"Wee plugged the motherleak. Mothers, in fact all witches, can still spell children, they just can't do it unconsciously any more. It's been discussed before. But it's so convenient to the lineages and there are so few people qualified to complain when it goes wrong. No one has had reason to interfere. We will adjust. We will also eat. You clean out there, I'll clean in here."
It was a week before Anne came to Cordelia's again.
"You know things would be easier if you had a phone. I've been grounded for missing school. That's not what she's mad at me for, but it was the only excuse she had. Feel." Anne held out her non-sticky wrist. Cordelia felt politely.
"And I've been just singing with energy." Anne bounced in place, for demonstration. "I think Mom must have been dampening my talent, through the leak. I feel like I'm ready to burst, sometimes."
Anne's eyes misted with sympathy, considering the difference in their situations.
"Yes. No. Well, what am I supposed to feel? Mostly confused is my best guess. Are you all right? Can I help?"
"Yes. And I can help you. I'm going to need to go back and review all the spellcasting I know, to see how it has changed. You have never been systematically taught and need to learn to control your hightened energy level. If we review together, we can act as each other's spotters. I reserve the role of teacher, due to greater experience, though you will probably be the more powerful before we are finished. Is this agreeable to you?"
"Sure. I was hoping we could work something out. I owe you one."
"No. It needed to be done. I've always known it."
Anne and Cordelia quieted their conversation as a man in slacks, shirt, and tie pushed a moped past Cordelia's walk. He nodded a gave a little wave as he passed. Anne turned to see Cordelia smiling.
"No. Just a neighbor. Although I remember my mother saying that I wasn't very interested in boys, that I was more interested in the craft. Perhaps she said something about boys not noticing me much, as well. Anyway, things have been different this week. Witchcraft isn't the only thing that I'm going to have to reexplore."
"Ooo. We're going to have to get you a honey." Anne clapped her hands in glee. "And we'll have to get me a familiar. I can have a familiar, can't I?
"We'll see. Neither of us needs to hurry."
"Cool. This is going to be good."
"Or not. It should at least be interesting. We'll deal with it."