Jenny: Gossamer Magic

There was a cardinal warbling in a tree. Somewhere beyond her closed eyes, the Guttersnipe was aware of a blur of light, cool air, and a wild freshness that she had not known for almost six months. She tore open her eyes and found the world familiar at last, the same faded paintings on the walls, the same tumble of white linen and wolfskin tangled over her, the same patch of broken sunlight on the far wall beside the door. She sprang up and flung open the lattice over the window and craned out, teetering precariously, to look out into the garden.

She could see the cardinal in the tree, a little red spot of colour against the yellow of the trees. The leaves lay like bars of gold on the dark surface of the pool, blurring in their movements the reflections of the cardinal and poppies.

"O-o-h, lovely morning!" she cried delightedly. She sprang back down onto her bed and off again, catching up her gown and tying the sash. She ran out down the passage, feet pattering loudly in the quiet. There was little time to be had before breakfast, but she had to get a look at the garden before then when the gossamer was still shining on the lawn. She came through the solarium at a whirl and banged open the garden door, plunging out into the beautiful sunshine and mountain air all full of apple-spice and faint horsey-tang. She stood in the middle of the garden with the gossamer making diamond anklets round her feet, pulling in great lung-fulls of the air. She could hear children laughing, and a horse calling, and she remembered the evening in the apple-orchard with Jason, sitting on the bough and talking, and not talking, just being together after being so long apart. And, in a way, discovering that they had both grown up, which was a discovery first awkward and then wonderful. He had given her one last kiss and seen her back to the villa, and they had parted.

The cardinal dropped off the cherry-branch and tore by on the wing, a slash of red in the watery dawn, and she followed its flight, catching now the strong scents of breakfast. Satisfied with the sight of the garden, she tread back across the lawn into the solarium, and was started to find Master Lucius at the table surrounded by his books.

"Well! This is a familiar sight," she said. "I didn't see you when I came through."

He did not take his eyes off his book. "Considering the speed at which you came, I would have been surprised if you had."

Her lips twitched. "It is nearly breakfast time," she went on. "Are you going to join us?"

He seemed to wake fully and come alive, sifting through his papers for a single book. "Yes, of course. Just a moment..." He continued to sort until he found his Xenophon, whereupon he rose and, since she darted forward, took her arm to lean on. "My legs feel stronger today," he told her as they made their way along. "I cannot quite put a finger on it, but somehow they seem better."

She did not tell him, she just smiled a little polite smile and helped him in his progress, but to herself she confided that it was the magic of the place that was making him better. A magic which she hoped would also bring Domitia out of her shell and make her human again.

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