“Great, Hayle. Now our parents are going to be after us for sure.” Calum streaked across the treetops with Hayle by his side, still in smoky form among the drizzling sky.

“It’s not my fault. You’re the one who said that we should wait until the campers had moved away from the site.” If Hayle was in a more physical form, she would have slapped Calum, but she had to settle instead for moving ahead to obscure his vision and irritate him further. “Science homework, my ass.”

Calum shushed Hayle, stopping at the tree line before the building that they’d seen in the horizon. A rectangular and hexagonal protrusion sat on top of the building with the closest exposed window busted at the hinges and resting on the windowsill. A red curtain hung in the hole, blocking their view inside. “You’d think that they’d have better security than this…”

“Just shut up and go inside already.” Hayle nudged Calum’s ethereal form as best as she could, and the two drifted through the window hole. The room was lit with a few plain lamps plugged in and resting on the floor. A woman was stretched across a mattress, the only piece of furniture in the room, with a book in front of her.

“Hey…” Calum shifted to a more human shape and squatted behind the woman. “I don’t mean to interrupt your reading session, but would you be Miranda-”

The woman whipped her head around, and her eyes widened until she caught sight of Calum and Hayle standing at her feet. Sighing and closing the book, she sat up and admitted, “yes, that would indeed be me.”

“I told you, Hayle!” Calum elbowed his friend. “She-”

“I go by he, actually.” Miranda discarded the book to beside the mattress and stood up, revealing the swirling patterns of purple on his blue nightshirt. “Why are you here? I don’t want any more divine intervention.” He yawned and rubbed the dark circles under his eyes.

“Well, why not? We just want to help-”

Miranda tightened the string on his pants and exposed his bandaged and stitched belly to the two Mithrae. “Because your so-called help made me lose my child before I could escape with it like you people originally wanted.”

Calum outstretched a hand to Miranda, who shrunk away from it and let go of his shirt. “We could still help you-”

“I want to help myself. Tell your god or whatever that he can screw off.”

“Are you sure?” Footsteps rang from the staircase, and Hayle and Calum shifted and hid in the crack under the mattress. “I would think that you’d have better luck-”

“Miranda! So you’ve finally woken up.” Giles unlocked the suite doors and streamed in with a breakfast plate in his arms. “Are you feeling better? Has the rest done you good?”

“You’re unusually cheery today, Giles.” Miranda took the plate when Giles offered it to him and glanced down at the mattress crack before adding, “what’s going on?”

“We’re extremely close to finishing the first of the rounds of Nevermore for your fiancée. The first session will be tomorrow, probably, contingent on whether or not he’s feeling up to it.”

“Nothing bad’s happened to him recently.” Miranda patted his stomach with a free hand and turned to the scarlet curtain. “When are you going to fix the window? I don’t feel safe with it broken like that.”

“I’m having difficulty procuring staff who have the required skills.”

“Why don’t you just do it yourself?”

Giles scratched his bald head. “Anders has increased my workload considerably. My apologies. I’ll get on it as soon as possible.”

“Thank you, Giles.” Miranda waved to dismiss Giles, and after he left, he set the plate down and bent over the crack. “Now get out of my room, my personal demons.”

“I don’t know whether to interpret that as a compliment or an insult.” Calum and Hayle drifted out of the crack and approached the window. “Are you sure you’ll be fine by yourself?”

“Get out or I’ll get Anders to call a priest and exorcise the two of you out. Hell probably won’t accept you afterwards from the embarrassment.”

“Fine.” Calum and Hayle evicted themselves, and Miranda brushed the curtain out of his way before wedging the broken window pane in the hole as best as he could.


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