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Genre: Urban fantasy
The Great Witch of Manhattan took another sip of her drink. Even in the harsh summer sunlight, she looked younger than her age. Not that Serena actually knew the Witch’s age – she wasn’t sure anyone knew that. But her clear skin and easy movements still made her look younger than… than whatever anyone’s assessment of her actual age was. She just looked – younger. Serena wasn’t sure if it was some sort of magical effect, or simply Aunt Jill being herself. She leaned towards the second option.
“My dear girl”, said Aunt Jill. “I run a coven, not a military unit.”
“But…?” said Serena. Next to her, her sister twitched. Serena ignored it. If she caught Sylvia’s eye, they’d both giggle, and that would Not Be Good.
Aunt Jill smiled. “_And_,” she said. “I’ve got an and first. And I agree that you need – no, you _deserve_ a break.” She took the long spoon from her glass, carefully licked all the remains of the fruit juice off it, then suddenly pointed it at the building across the street. “Shoo,” she said, as if talking to an overly confident pigeon.
Serena cast a glance over her shoulder. The greenery surrounding the terrace where they were sitting blocked most of her view of the building, except for the upper floors. She saw a small wisp of mist near the roof. It could have been a puff of exauhst smoke. Or an evil spirit in disintegration.
“A gremlin?” she ventured. Gremlins were the curse of Manhattan; tiny knots of ill will from so many different sources that they lost their goals and were reduced to aimless, petty acts of malice: hiding keys, breaking heels, dropping mobile calls.
“Just an ill wish,” answered Aunt Jill. She returned the spoon into her glass with a sigh. “I miss the tobacco days,” she said. “Casting dispersive spells was so much more elegant when one could do it with a cigarette holder.”
“You smoked?” said Sylvia with surprise.
Aunt Jill laughed. “Everybody smoked, my dear. Don’t you watch _Mad Men_?” She finished her drink, slurping aloud like a six-year-old.
Serena let out a quiet sigh of relief. Aunt Jill wasn’t being the Crone. She could be, when she wanted to, despite her always-younger appearance. You didn’t become the Great Witch of Manhattan without the ability to Crone, although Aunt Jill’s own coven was… less than traditional.
With the discussion of Don Draper’s authenticity gurgling in the background, Serena relaxed for a moment and closed her eyes. They really didn’t look like a coven. Except for Sylvia. With long, unruly hair hennaed into a fiery shade of red and charms on her wrists jingling with her every move, she looked like a cross between Dharma and New Age Barbie: the perfect Witch Maiden.
Aunt Jill never looked like the Crone. Not even when she held herself rigid and narrowed her eyes to scare a horde of young werewolves into behaving themselves. And Serena herself…
She forced herself not to put a hand on her belly. With her almond-brown hair cut straight at the shoulders, just long enough to stay in a ponytail, and her usual jeans-and-T-shirt uniform, there wasn’t a single motherly thing about her.
She caught herself pressing fingernails into her palm, and relaxed with a conscious effort. She would never be a mother. Not that she particularly wanted to. But it did feel… embarrassing, at least, to be the Mother, and yet to know that choice was taken from her.
By her own stupidity.