melek_taus: (the devil is a fine gentleman)

For [community profile] musing_way Week 197: Lost Along the Way

([personal profile] melek_taus Jun. 30th, 2013 11:41 am)
Alchemia bookstore could have been a clone of Watkins Books in London. The gorgeous Victorian storefront was filled with luxuriously printed delights of all kinds, both new and exquisite antiques.

As dignified and inviting the outside of the store was, the inside was even more tantalising. The dark wood floor was polished to an impossible sheen, strewn throughout with antique Oriental rugs of various shapes and sizes. There were row upon row of floor to ceiling shelves, neatly laid out, some of them with closed and locked glass doors that could be opened upon request. Among the colourful tomes were statuary and incense, crystals and jewelry, and all manner of hedonistic delights to the spirit. Alexander mused to himself as he and his sister-in-law, Lady Ashley, stepped through the door that Tolkien’s dragon, Smaug, would have been quite at home in such a place. It definitely struck a chord in his own collector’s heart.

One of the things that Alexander always found most striking about a good occult bookstore was the quality of incense. The olfactory offerings were never cheap, but rather comprised of a mixture of heady and expensive herbs and resins. The scent clung to everything every page of every book, every tarot card and scarf and whenever a patron made a purchase, that scent followed them home. It was a good magical practice and it reassured the buyer that what they had brought home, though it may have been pricey, had not been an impulse.

The two began to peruse the store casually, noting various interesting titles when they were approached by a middle aged woman with long greying hair. “Good evening! Welcome to Alchemia,” she offered a smile, “Is there something I can help you find or are you hear for Ms. McKay’s talk tonight?”

Alexander flashed her his most charming smile, but it was Ashley who spoke first, “Oh, a little of both, actually.”

“Oh?” Ashley’s pronounced upper-London accent elicited a delighted smile from the proprietress of the shop, “Well, if there is anything in specific I can help you with - “

“Do you have any of the works of Andrew Chumbley?”Ashley asked, “I’m afraid it’s very hard to lay hands on his works back home.”

Alexander smiled to himself as the shop owner bantered back and forth with his sister-in-law and haggled over the rarer volumes of occult books. This, he mused, would allow him to explore on his own, and be left to his private thoughts. As he gazed at a lovely, yet very expensive bronze statue of Baphomet, he wondered if Frances McKay would recognise him or Ashley. Surely the three of them were from hereditary witch families, bound by common heritage, but currently were moving in different Circles. He was about to turn toward a glass case containing other Egyptian statuary, when he caught sight of an impossibly beautiful, raven-haired woman through the leaded glass.

He’d found her.

The small room, just off the main store was at least a well appointed space. A few patrons had already gathered, notebooks on hand, a few sipping tea and soft drinks and socializing quietly amongst themselves. Frances, however, was absorbed in her own thoughts.

“Frances?” he said softly.

She had been so focused on what she was doing that she had not heard Alexander approach and the sound of his voice made her visibly jump. Spinning around, she looked up at Alexander. Her gaze remained blank at first then recognition registered itself on her features. “Mr. Grigori!” she managed a slight smile in spite of her obvious discomfiture. “You’re a long way from London.”

“I’m living in New York now,” he said.

When the silence between them could not have gotten any more awkward or uncomfortable, Ashley joined them. Alexander noted that now Ms. Frances McKay looked quite pale.

“Lady Ashley….” Frances managed. A few pairs of eyes from the evening’s attendees were on them now, but were unheeded.

“Frances, darling!” Lady Ashley swept past Alexander and embraced her. “You look lovely! It’s been so long and you are positively glowing. Her ladyship took a slight step back then murmured in Frances’ ear. “Whomever he is, you seem very happy. The two of you must be very excited. But never mind that, we really must sit sometime soon.”

“Yes,” Frances swallowed visibly, “of course, Lady Ashley.”

Ashley had wasted no time. When she suggested Frances ‘sit’ with them, it was a specific code meaning that as Frances’ Initiator, there was the expectation of some sort of magical working, and at the earliest available opportunity. Alexander knew his sister in law well enough that this meant that whether it was a new moon, full moon or full blown Sabbat. Those that might have overheard, would not have had the slightest inkling what they were talking about.

It had not helped that Ashley, picking up on Frances’ condition had unnerved her even more than their presence had done. Ashley kept close tabs on the witches she initiated and her instincts were so sharp, neither he nor anyone could ever fool her on any subject. This, above all, made him reconsider the remainder of the evening. Dinner was waiting at home after all, and he didn’t want to have to explain to a rather cross chef as to why the special dinner had been ignored.

Alexander glanced at his watch, then looked up at Ashley, “You know, my dear, we probably should be going fairly soon. We don’t want to be late for our appointment.”

Ashley flashed him a sharp look then gave Frances a dazzling smile, “Yes, of course, Alexander, dear. I had forgotten, I was so taken by seeing Frances again. Here, “ she pulled out her phone, “if I could get your number, I could give you a call. There’s so much we need to catch up on!”

Frances’ fingers were visibly trembling as she punched her number into Ashley’s phone. “Give me a call tomorrow,” her voice sounded numb, “I am afraid after tonight I am going to be a bit knackered.”

“Of course, dear.” Ashley took her phone and kissed Frances on both cheeks. Turning, she gave a little wiggle of her fingers in a wave, and headed toward the door of the shop. Alexander laid a gentle hand on her shoulder and murmured in Frances’ ear. “I’m sorry to have dropped in so unexpectedly, but she did insist. Good luck tonight.” He then kissed Frances at the top of her hairline and followed his sister in law back out of the store.

As he stepped back into city night and into the waiting limousine, he had no doubt as to what topics the remainder of the evening would consist of.

Muse: Melek Taus / The Peacock Angel/ aka Alexander Grigori
Fandom: Folklore / Mythology
Word Count:1151

Originally created for the online interactive novel, "The Midnight People" on Pan Historia.
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