“What do you think about the fact that Anna’s a fairy?” said Callie abruptly, completely changing the subject. “I mean, I know that they’re not talking about the small fluttery type, although that’s the image that keeps coming to mind, but it’s still hard to believe. She always seemed so human, while we were with her.”
“I don’t know,” said Kathryn, her face creased with thought. “She could do strange things, like the way she was impervious to heat, and could hold fire in her hand, or the way that she could make metal set alight. It was little things like that … when we heard, I almost wasn’t surprised.”
“Poor Anna,” said Callie again. “Imagine finding that out, after so many years believing you were just another person!”
“I know - it’s awful.” Kathryn got up, poured two glasses of juice and brought them over to the table. Callie sipped hers gratefully.
“How did you know that I still drank apple juice and orange juice, mixed together in those exact quantities?” she said with surprise, a moment later.
“Callie, it’s what you have drunk every time you’ve come to my house for the last … four years. I figured it wasn’t going to change all that quickly.” Kathryn laughed, her whole face lighting up. For a moment she looked almost as beautiful as her glamorous sister, Elanor.
“I love it when you smile,” said Callie wistfully.
“Oh and there’s something I wanted to ask you,” said Kathryn, ignoring the compliment, blushing only ever so slightly. “Could you please - maybe just sometimes - call me Kat? It sounds so formal to call me Kathryn all the time.”
“Of course!” said Callie, her eyebrows disappearing into her hair. “Why, I would’ve used it years ago if you’d said, but somehow I assumed you preferred Kathryn.” Kat smiled and got up, fetching the biscuit tin from a shelf.
“Here,” she said, passing it to Callie. “Elanor will lecture me, but after everything that has happened, I think we deserve it.” Callie agreed fervently, although her mouth was full of Jammy Dodger.
“Are you going to tell her?” she said, after an enormous swallow.
“Elanor.” Kat thought for a moment, staring absently out of the window at the stars that defied the early-morning sun, still shining with a stubborn light in the remnants of the night sky.
“No,” she said at last. “She’d never believe me, and anyway, it’s nothing to do with her. Why should she bother with aliens? As long as they don’t mess up her hair, or make her wardrobe not colour coded any more…” Kat realised that her words were becoming muddled, and she stopped talking. “Sorry. I get mad at her sometimes.” Callie glanced towards the ceiling, at Elanor, who was supposedly right above their heads.
“She can’t hear us, can she?” she said anxiously to Kat, who understood her immediately and laughed.
“No, we can talk about her as much as we like.” Kat helped herself to another custard cream.
“What do you think Anna’s doing right now?” said Callie. It seemed to her friend that Anna was constantly on Callie’s mind - it was all she ever appeared to talk about, and it sometimes got a bit wearing.
“Training, I expect. Learning to use all her fairy powers, to defeat the Celryn once and for all,” said Kathryn, her face bright at the thought. “I’d like to be able to shoot lightning bolts,” she added.
“Is that what she’s trying to do?” Callie said, awestruck. “Wow. Now that would be something.”
Kat nodded. “Yeah, it would, wouldn’t it?”