Will Field House find a friend?

Hastings – 1844

Heimdall stared up at Field House, one hand on her hip, and the other holding her cigarette. She exhaled a plume of smoke and said, ‘That is one lonely house.’

‘Hmmm.’ It was taking all my control not to swing round swatting the tugging tendrils of magic.

Jax lowered herself to the ground and pressed her hand to the muddy ground, most of her arm disappeared into the long grass. ‘You’re right,’ she said. ‘It’s lost its maker, Fae and Morag homes have a symbiotic bond to their makers.’

I wondered if that had anything to do with why Fae and Morag couldn’t enter a human home without an invitation but it didn’t seem the moment to ask.

‘It’s lonely and angry at being alone,’ she continued. ‘It didn’t mean any harm.’

I leaned towards Heimdall. ‘How does she do that?’

She wafted her cigarette. ‘Jax is an empath and all her magic is nature based. The earth can hold feelings, and have them.’

I looked down at my boots sinking into the mud.

‘I wouldn’t worry, by and large if you’re just going about your business they’re not bothered by you.’ She looked up at the sky. ‘If humanity carries on with all these smoky factories and the tree chopping they might take issue.’

As the owner of several factories that made parts for machinery, among other industry related businesses, I cleared my throat. She shook her head and smirked.

Bran stepped up close behind me and settled his hands on my hips. I leaned into him, focusing on the warmth his touch to push the magic away.

Jax pressed her staff into the mud and pushed herself up. ‘They’re sorry about last time, they go over excited.’

‘They’re?’ I asked.

‘What else are you going to call a sentient house?’ She brushed at the muddy patches on her trousers but it didn’t do anything to clean them.

‘Do humans give inanimate objects genders too?’ Heimdall asked.

‘Technically, we’re both human,’ Jax said.

‘I know, it’s an affliction.’

Jax laughed as if this was some ongoing joke between them that the rest of us weren’t in on, She looked at us. ‘What? You can’t actually be half anything, you either are or you aren’t. Identity isn’t like a cake, you won’t end up with fewer or more pieces. It’s all part of the whole that’s you.’ She tapped Heimdall in on the arm and said something in Moragi, it turned out British was the same in both languages.

Heimdall scrunched her cigarette in her hand to snuff it and wrinkled her nose faintly. ‘British exporting binary bollocks since… as long as I’ve been alive and that’s awhile.’

‘Can we hurry this up?’ I asked. The previous night I’d been impaled and my predominant thought was ‘I should be napping’. I decided to save the discussion for a time I was more awake.

Heimdall looked at me, shook her head, and muttered, ‘Humans.’ Then she grinned. ‘Want to see something impressive?’ She clapped her hands.

The rain turned to snow and we were confronted with the tumbled down tree house. Bran fell to his knees, gasping. I dropped down beside him and put my arms around him.

‘Sorry,’ Heimdall said. ‘I forgot one of us used to be a plain, old, boring human.’

Bran shuddered against me. Jax rested her hand against his shoulder, veins of light spread across her skin, a symbolic eye appeared on the back of her hand then faded, and Bran’s shivers lessened.

‘They just don’t have the constitution,’ Heimdall added and walked towards the tumbled trees. ‘Well, aren’t you beautiful?’

The tug had become a persistent pull. If I hadn’t been holding onto Bran I wasn’t sure I could’ve resisted the urge to go closer. Jax didn’t seem affected as she leaned on her staff watching Heimdall, I had a sense of the staff was leaning in like a curious child to peek at what was happening.

Heimdall rested her hands and forehead against one of the upright trees. ‘Hello, gorgeous.’

Threads of energy spilled out of her wrapping around the tree to join threads that came up from the roots. The ground rumbled. Jax grabbed Bran’s shoulder to keep herself upright.

Fallen trees dug their roots into the ground and pulled themselves upright. Split trunks snapped back together and branches cracked back into place. Boughs twisted together, leaves sprouted, and the snow melted like spring had been accelerated. The trees warped, shifted and spread until a forest of toppled dying trees became a house of wood and green foliage, bright with new life. The pull lessened and disappeared completely.

The wood went quiet, still and yet it didn’t seem as ominous as the first time I’d visited, the air was light and fresh.

Heimdall stayed against the tree, very still, smiling with her eyes closed.

‘They’re just getting to know each other,’ Jax whispered. ‘Isn’t it lovely?’

I rubbed Bran’s back, he was even paler than usual as if he was going to be sick. ‘Great,’ I said, hoping we could step back earth side quick, apparently vampires couldn’t vomit but it looked like Bran’s stomach was disagreeing.

Heimdall stepped away from the tree and the purple threads between her and the house hung in the air before fading. ‘This is a great gift, Charlotte O’Connor. You can’t really make up for killing my mother, even if she was a shit, but maybe I won’t kill your man after all.’

‘Nothing more definitive?’ I asked.

She looked at me, her eyes bright with purple energy. ‘I wouldn’t push it.’

I nodded. ‘Fair.’

She clapped her hands and we were back outside Field House. The house seemed lighter somehow, fresher, less melancholy and murderous.

Bran groan and squeezed me so tight my back popped.

‘Poor thing,’ Jax patted his shoulder. ‘We really should’ve given you some prep before we did that.’

I looked up at her.

‘We will definitely give you some prep next time,’ she added. ‘It’s easy to forget when it’s easy as breathing for us.’ She glanced between us. ‘No offence.’

‘We breath, we don’t respire,’ I observed, stroking Bran’s hair.

Heimdall turned to us. ‘So, when do we start making trouble?’

I was sure we already were.

Read Part Two of Today’s Double Bill Here

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Published by Jesse

I'm a writer and academic specialising in fantasy fiction and creative writing theory. I'm allergic to pretentiously talking about fiction and aim to be unashamedly ‘commercial’. Surely all fiction is commercial anyway, or what’s the point in publishing it?

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