Chapter 9

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They held hands constantly.

Jay felt contact, for the first time in what felt like forever. The sense of not being alone, for once. Being close. Being understood.

She'd felt friendship before, with Ink and others, but it was that actual physical feeling that reminded her that she still existed.

With Selenus, it wasn't perfect. The circumstances were twisted and gnarled, completely corrupt.

But the press of two palms, two bloodless hands with empty veins and wrists that lacked pulses—it was something Jay didn't know she'd been craving. Darkness and despair and togetherness.

It wasn't attraction. It certainly wasn't love. It was something deeper and stronger than that; the need to be a little less alone. People had called them survival instincts, but that wasn't quite true. Both of them had done a wonderful job at failing the 'survival' part. It was a driving force that shoved people together. It was why Jay had continued to befriend the living. It was trying to remember what she'd been, as opposed to what she was—a bittersweet brush of skin for the first time in centuries.

The two of them hovered together in Lady Lavender's small hole-in-the-wall business, behind Lavender herself. She was seated in her chair, eyes half-shut and silver-dusted eyelids fluttering wildly. Tiana was bustling around the place behind her. She ducked into the small closet and came back with a variety of jars, bottles, and measuring implements.

In one hand was a list. Tiana mumbled the ingredients to herself as she blended everything together—a quarter cup of stardust—crushed wishing stars? What's the difference? Dissolved two cups of moon water, add a dash of powdered comet's tail—what the fuck is comet's tail?—a flustered and stressed expression on her face.

She did her best to mix everything together and pour it into a black chalice that seemed to pull every bit of surrounding light into itself, leaving nothing but a curved shadow's silhouette. She set it next to Lavender, who showed no signs of having registered any outside activity.

Tiana couldn't see Jay or Selenus. Though Lady Lavender had informed her of their arrival, Tianna simply didn't have the natural amount of talent needed to be a proper medium.

Without opening her eyes, Lady Lavender reached over. Eerily enough, she grabbed the chalice with no fumbling at all. She took a single sip and set it back down.

Tiana studied her with tender concern.

Jay and Selenus leaned closer with anticipation. Jay could feel the raw magic rolling off of her in waves like smoke from a fire. It nourished her, that energy, making her stronger and more anchored. Selenus must've felt it too. Even Tiana had to notice something.

Lavender's spine straightened. She turned her head. Jay assumed that she was looking around until Lady Lavender turned her way, holding the position for a moment. Her eyes were still shut. Jay felt suddenly hollow. The newfound magic was sucked out of her. Jay was just Jay again.

Lady Lavender's blind gaze whipped towards the mouth of the store. Selenus squeezed Jay's hand tighter. Lavender shuddered. They were all watching her.

Frazzled and wide-eyed, a woman Jay recognized as Ink's mother staggered into the shop. "I've figured it out!" Indigo exclaimed.

Whatever influence Lady Lavender had been under broke off. "Hey, crazy!" Lavender exclaimed rather angrily.

"I—what?" Indigo looked at her, aghast. "How am I, in this whole scenario, the crazy one?"

"You ruined my vision."

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