Edith ran her hand down the front of her T-shirt. “What a night,” she whispered to herself.
“Is Merlin up?” asked Pansy. “I’d like to talk to him.”
“I haven’t seen him,” muttered Edith, wishing that her head would stop pounding.
“Will you let me know when he appears?”
“Immediately,” nodded Edith, biting back a scream.
Pansy bowed and flew off, just as Chicago and Tilly came slowly into the room.
“My head is killing me,” moaned Tilly, leaning against the counter.
“Mine too,” groaned Chicago.
“It was the Golden Ratio,” said Edith, reaching under the counter. “They taste fantastic and alter reality but this is what happens a few hours after you stop drinking them. Here, take two of these and you’ll be fine.”
Chicago handed Tilly two yellow pills and took two for herself. Edith poured water for them and said, “I just took a couple and I feel better already.”
“Great party,” said Chicago, her eyes starting to sparkle. The drummer was…”
“Gorgeous,” sighed Tilly. “So beautiful. I saw you two dancing, if that’s what you call it,” she laughed. “He looked at you like you were food and he was starving.”
Chicago chuckled. “Faeries can be like that sometimes.”
“He was a faerie?” asked Tilly, surprised.
“Have you ever seen a human male who looked like him?”
“Ah, my love,” said Merlin, once again appearing next to Edith. “You were amazing last night. That T-shirt, well, let’s just say it’s my favorite piece of clothing.”
“Pansy wants to see you right away,” snapped Edith. “You’re meeting with her father in two hours. I’ll tell her you’re here.”
“What would I ever do without you?” said Merlin, smiling broadly. “I mean that,” he said, moving closer to her. “I really don’t know what I would do without you Edith and that’s no small thing coming from me.”
Edith turned toward him, grabbed him, pushed him against the wall behind the counter and kissed him until she was holding him up. She smirked, let go of him, watched him slide to the floor, tugged at her torn T-shirt and winked at the Chicago and Tilly, who were standing there with their mouths open.
“I’m here,” said Pansy. “What’s wrong with him?” she asked, starting at Merlin, who was sitting on the floor with his eyes closed.
“Give him a minute,” said Edith, kicking him gently with her foot. “Pansy’s here, get up.”
“Do you have the red feather?” she asked.
“Please give my father this note as well,” she said softly. “I’ve spoken to my mother again and she said that my brother is backing the war but my father doesn’t think the time is right. He understands that the faeries are not behind him and that my brother is simply young and looking for power,” said Pansy sadly. “My mother is going to talk to him again but doubts that she will be able to change his mind. My father, on the other hand, may listen to reason. This note may sway his decision.”
“Thank you,” said Merlin. “Your father is a god man.”
“He is,” said Pansy, moving to leave. “I await your return, Merlin.”
Merlin bowed again and slipped the note into his pocket.
Three orders slid into the “request for books” basket. Edith looked a them, typed in the titles and the books appeared on the counter in a neat stack. The white dog trotted in, pulling his cart and stood quietly while Edith gave him instructions and a bone. “Be sure you don’t go into Mr. Carter’s room, he’s a werewolf and I don’t want him thinking you’re cute,” said Edith. “In fact, Tilly, will you go with him please? Just to be sure.”
“Of course,” she answered, following the dog out of the room.
Chicago said farewell and headed to her Reading Room to see if there were any Tarot decks that wouldn’t catch on fire.
“Edith,” said Merlin.
“I know you’ll do your best,” said Edith, not looking at him. “If anyone can stop the war, you can.”
“The dragons are coming with me,” he said.
“For protection?” asked Edith, a little surprised.
“No,” he said, taking her hand in his. “In case something goes wrong, they can alert you to the fact that the war has already begun.”
“That is unacceptable,” she said, pulling her hand away, her voice catching in her throat. “I won’t hear of it. You better be here for dinner, or else.”
“I’ll do my best,” smiled Merlin. “But just in case, I love you Edith,” he said, sliding a ring across the counter. “It doesn’t mean we are engaged, so don’t start throwing things at me. It just means I love you.”