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“This is a bad idea. It’s mine so of course it is,” Toby sighed into her ginger and turmeric tea. She seemed so young when she did that but she was a survivor and stubborn enough to hold onto what she wanted.

“Cats are picky, he chose you. Drink your tea before it gets cold,” The Luidaeg used her patient and ‘over it’ voice, the ‘over it’ part came from Quentin. An odd use of language but she liked it and honestly some days ‘over it’ was the best way to put how she felt, when new variations on old arguments and pains kept happening. Today she wasn’t all the way over anything and pushed the plate of almond cookies closer to Toby.

Toby took a sip of tea and eyed the plate that had just shifted towards her, “I’m eating, they’re good.”

“Important to keep your strength up” She smiled with a few teeth.

“What’s happening later?” Toby’s eyes darted about, waiting for something to pounce on her. Honestly the Luidaeg appreciated Toby’s paranoia, it was a well honed skill, but what was the fun of being the Sea Witch if she didn’t get to tease anyone, “I expect your kitty wants you ready for playing.”

It was beautiful to watch Toby turn almost completely red as she drank up her tea in one gulp at. She was certain she almost saw the moment of horror at the thought her sex life might be discussed. Toby’s smile was pained as she stood up and said, “I’m going home. Open roads.”

The Luidaeg grinned and waved at Toby as she walked out the door, poor Amy was missing out on teasing her daughter about her lovers. She spotted Tybalt stepping from the shadows beyond her door to greet Toby, the way they clasped was good to see. Given the choice, Toby would probably rather ask her mother about being a wife, these tea times weren’t like that. She stretched and checked her braids, time for a change.

The light was fading from the autumn sky as she left her neighborhood, talking to Toby always left her craving time with someone who didn’t know her as the Sea Witch. One of her neighbors had mentioned a good bookstore in Polk Gulch, metaphysical but not too strange.

Metaphysical bookstores were proof that mortals would believe anything if given instructions and it looked pretty enough. This one had a sun shining across the ceiling and a trim woman with white hair piled on her head sitting in state behind a desk, “Welcome to Fields, anything you need?”

The Luidaeg put her hands in her overall pockets and smiled, this might be a good find and she needed a change after Toby, “I don’t know. A friend told me this was a nice place to find books about how everything works.”

Then the woman laughed, leaning forward as the light caught a green jade ring and gold jewelry, “Everything, no, but some ideas on how to think about it all and find your own solitude.”

“Solitude, why would I need to go looking for that?” She kept her voice skeptical though this was an interesting variation on the normal rigamarole at these places where it’s usually about inner light and maybe where to find the best pot. The general idea was to get over loneliness, the constant search that was full of rocks to trip over.

“Finding your community is important but if you don’t have yourself sorted out and your solitude then you won’t find what you need,” The old woman replied. The Luidaeg walked closer and saw how this person was clearly into her seventh or eighth decade and wearing it well, most mortals didn’t get ever around to understanding that being alone with yourself meant something different. She was impressed to see that, “My name’s Annie and I like that. I’ve spent a good bit of time on my own but it hasn’t gotten me anywhere new.”

“I’m Ruth Cooke and this is my lovely bookstore where all that interests me comes to me,” Watching Ruth stand was a sight as she held her poise while finding her cane, “Let’s see what we might find for you.”

This time Ruth walked up to her and gave her a thoughtful look over, the Luidaeg knew her disguises were the best and she knew that her eyes were sea green, her hair brown and braided, all fitting for a hard working thirty year old or so seeker. She kept her gaze level and followed at Ruth’s side, ready to offer her arm without seeming to. The shelves were beautifully arranged and whenever she slowed, Ruth stopped and waited to see what she pulled. It’s comforting to be around someone that doesn’t talk to talk but pays attention. Books about building and creating have always pulled her, mortals have a creative drive and they keep finding another angle, “What’s upcycling?”

“That’s a strange one but the idea behind it’s good. We used to do it when I was a girl, find another use for whatever you have. Now it’s all about it being pretty which is nice but I’d rather have something I’m drawn to,” Ruth pulled down a book that she liked and showed an illustration of a building built from old doors, “This one, now that’s a beautiful reuse and reimagining. Everywhere you look an invitation to imagine somewhere else.”

“I like that. Old and new together like the sea, always itself but never the same. And being able to choose what you change,” That hasn’t been her role, she’s become the one who points the way.

As she spoke, Ruth turned to her and the Luidaeg wondered if perhaps there was some Fae blood in her, “Who says you can’t choose? I have my community to help me find my way, but each new beginning is my own.”

“How many times have you sorted yourself out?” The Luidaeg focused on that tiny hint of magic that seemed scented with perhaps clove, interesting.

“I’m on my fourth or fifth one, but this one brought me to here where people come to me,” Ruth gestured to the shop and her wooden chair where she saw everyone who came in.

“That must be nice. I’m always going where everyone else is. They only come looking for me when they need something.” She could hear the tiredness in her voice and it wasn’t as true as it used to be. There was always a need but sometimes for tea not only answers.

“Do you like providing what they need?” It was a sharp question that was asked gently.

“That’s a hell of a question. Some days I like it but not all of them,” And one she had never wanted to think too much about, she had her role to fill and that was to answer questions and be the Sea Witch.