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Dark Angel (Chapter 11)

Angel's voice was taut but calm. (Pick up a pen from the counter. The black one's fine. Now-let go. Just

relax and let me move it.)

Gillian let go. It was a process she couldn't have described in words if she'd tried. But she watched, with

a sort of fascinated horror, as her own hand began to draw on a small white invoice slip.

It drew across the lines, in some kind of pattern. Unfortunately the pen seemed to be out of ink, so all

Gillian could see was a faint scribble.

(Show her the carbon copy.)

Gillian peeled off the first sheet of paper. Underneath, in carbon, was her design. It looked like a

flower-a dahlia. It was crudely colored in, as if it were meant to be dark.

(What is it, Angel?)

(A sort of password. Unless you know it, she's not going to let you buy what you need.)

Melusine's face had changed. She was looking at Gillian with startled interest.

"Unity," she said. "I wondered about you when you came in. You've got the look-but I've never seen

you before. Did you just move here?"

(Say "Unity." It's their greeting. And tell her that you're just passing through.)

(Angel-is she a witch? Are there other witches around here? And how come I have to lie-)

(She's getting suspicious!)

The girl was looking at Gillian rather oddly. Like someone trying to catch a conversation. It scared

Gillian.

"Unity. No, I'm just visiting," she said hastily. "And," she added as Angel whispered, "I need the

Dragon's Blood and, um, two wax figures. Female. And do you have any charged Selket powder?"

Melusine settled back a little. "You belong to Circle Midnight." She said it flatly.

(Whaaaat? What's Circle Midnight? And how come she doesn't like me anymore?)

(It's a sort of witch organization. Like a club. It's the one that does the kind of spells that you need to do

right now.)

(Aha. Bad spells, you mean.)

(Powerful spells. In your case, necessary spells.)

Melusine was scooting her chair behind the counter. For a moment Gillian wondered why she didn't get

up, and then, as Melusine reached the

edge of the counter, she understood. The chair was a wheelchair and Melusine's right leg was missing

from the knee down.

It didn't seem to hinder her, though. In a moment, she was scooting back with a couple of packets and a

box in her lap. She put the box on the counter and took out two dolls made of dull rose-colored wax.

One of the packets held chunks of what looked like dark red chalk, the other a peacock-green powder.

She didn't look up as Gillian paid for the items. Gillian felt snubbed.

"Unity," she said formally, as she put her wallet away and gathered up her purchases. She figured if you

said it for hello, you could say it for goodbye.

Melusine's dark eyes flashed up at her intently and almost quizzically. Then she said slowly, "Merry part .

. . and merry meet again." It almost sounded like an invitation.

(Well, I'm lost.)

(Just say "Merry part" and get out of here, kid.)

Outside, Gillian looked at the town square with new eyes. (The Witches of Woodbridge. So, are they,

like, all over here? Do they own the Creamery and the hardware store, too?)

(You're closer than you think. But we don't have time to stand around. You've got some spells to cast.)

Gillian took one more look around the quiet tree-lined square, feeling herself standing in the bright air

with her packages of spell ingredients. Then she shook her head. She turned to the car.

Sitting in the middle of her bed with the bedroom door locked, Gillian contemplated her materials. The

plastic bags of rock and powder, the dolls, and the hair she'd gathered from the brush in Macon's

bathroom last night.

Two or three strands of sun blond curls. Three or four long black glossy hairs.

"And you don't need to tell me what they're for," she said, looking at the air beside her. "It's voodoo

time, huh?"

"Smart girl." Angel shimmered into being. "The hair is to personalize the dolls, to link them magically to

their human counterparts. You've got to wind a hair around each doll, and name it out loud. Call it Tanya

or Kimberlee."

Gillian didn't move. "Angel, look. When I got that hair, I had no idea why I was doing it. But when I saw

those little wax figures-well, then I realized. And the way that girl Melusine looked at me. …"

"She has no idea what you're up against. Forget her."

"I'm just trying to get things straight, all right?" Hands clasped tightly in her lap, she looked at him. "I've

never wanted to hurt people-well, all right, yes, I have. I've had those-those images or whatever at night,

like seeing a giant foot splat down

on my geometry teacher. But I don't really want to hurt people."

Angel looked patient. "Who said you were going to hurt them?"

"Well, what's all this for?"

"It's for whatever you want it to be for. Gillian, dragonfly, all these materials are just aids for a witch's

natural powers. They're a way of focusing the power, directing it to a particular purpose. But what

actually happens to Tanya and Kim depends on you. You don't have to hurt them. You just have to stop

them."

"I just have to stop them from doing what they're planning to do." Gillian's mind was already sparking

into action. "And Tanya's planning to write letters. And Kim's planning to spread the word…"

"So what if Tanya can't write letters? And if Kimberlee can't talk? It would be sort of… poetic justice."

Angel's face was grave, but his eyes were glinting with mischief.

Gillian bit her lip. "I think it would kill Kim not to talk!"

"Oh, I bet she could live through it." They were both laughing now. "So if she had, say, a bad sore

throat… and if Tanya's arm were paralyzed…"

Gillian sobered. "Not paralyzed."

"I meant temporarily. Not even temporarily? All right, what about something else that could keep her

from typing or holding a pen? How about a bad rash?"

"A rash?"

"Sure. An infection. One she'd have to keep bandaged up so she couldn't use her fingers. That would

stop her for a while, until we can think of something else."

"A rash… Yeah, that could work. That would be good." Gillian took a quick breath and looked down

at her materials. "Okay, tell me how to do it!"

And Angel walked her through the strange process. She wound the dolls with hair and named them

aloud. She rubbed them with crumbled Dragon's Blood, the dark red chalky stuff. Then she dabbed the

hand of one and the throat of the other with the iridescent green Selket powder.

"Now… may I be given the power of the words of Hecate. It is not I who utter them, it is not I who

repeat them; it is Hecate who utters them, it is she who repeats them."

(And who the heck's Hecate?) She sent the thought to Angel wordlessly, in case speaking aloud would

ruin the spell.

(Be quiet. Now concentrate. Pick up the Tanya doll and think Streptococcus pyogenes. That's a

bacteria that'll give her a rash. Picture it in your mind. See the rash on the real Tanya.)

There was a certain satisfaction in doing it. Gillian couldn't deny that, even to herself. She pictured

Tanya's slim olive-skinned right hand, poised to sign a letter that would destroy David's future. Then she

pictured itchy red bumps appearing, another hand scratching. Redness spreading across the skin. More

itching. More scratching…

(Hey, this is fun!)

Then she took care of the Kim doll.

When she was finished, she put both dolls in a shoe box and put the shoe box under her bed. Then she

stood up, flushed and triumphant.

"It's over? I did it?"

"You did it. You're a full-fledged witch now. Hecate's the Queen of the Witches, incidentally. Their

ancient ruler. And she's special to you- you're descended in a direct line from her daughter Hellewise."

"I am?" Gillian stood a little straighter. She seemed to feel power tingling through her, a sparkling energy,

a sense that she could reach out and mold the world. She felt as if she ought to have an aura. "Really?"

"Your great-grandmother Elspeth was one of the Harmans, the Hearth-Women, the line that came from

Hellewise. Elspeth's older sister Edgith became a big witch leader."

How could Gillian have ever thought she was ordinary, less than ordinary? You couldn't argue with facts

like these. She was from a line of important witches. She was part of an ancient tradition. She was

special.

She felt very, very powerful.

That night, her father called. He wanted to know if she was okay, and to let her know he loved her.

All Gillian wanted to know was whether he'd be home for Christmas.

"Of course I'll be home. I love you."

"Love you."

But she wasn't happy when she hung up. (Angel, we've got to figure things out. Is there a spell I should

do on him?)

(I'll think about it.)

The next morning she sailed into school cheerfully and looked around for someone who would talk. She

spotted the cropped red head of J.Z. the Model and waved hello.

"What's up, J.Z.?"

J.Z. turned hazy blue-green eyes on her and fell into step. "Did you hear about Tanya?"

Gillian's heart skipped a beat. "No," she said, with perfect truth.

"She's got some awful rash or infection or something. Like poison ivy. They say it's driving her crazy."

As always, J.Z. spoke slowly and with an almost vacant air. But Gillian thought there was a gleam of

satisfaction under the blank look.

She shot J.Z. a sharp glance. "Well, that's too bad."

"Sure is," J.Z. murmured, smiling absently.

"I sure hope nobody else catches it." She was hoping to hear something about Kim.

But J.Z. just said, "Well, at least we know David won't." Then she wandered off.

(Angel, that girl doesn't like Tanya.)

(A lot of people don't like Tanya.)

(It's weird. I used to think being popular meant everybody likes you. Now I think it's more like

everybody's afraid not to like you.)

(Right. Let them hate you as long as they fear you. But, you see, you've done a public service, putting

Tanya out of commission.)

In biology class, Gillian found out that Kim was absent and had canceled gymnastics practice for the

day. She had something' like strep throat and couldn't even talk. Nobody seemed heartbroken over this,

either.

(Being popular means everybody's glad when something bad happens to you.)

(It's a dog-eat-dog world, kid.) Angel chuckled.

Gillian smiled.

She had protected David. It gave her a wonderful feeling to be able to protect him, to take care of him.

Not that she exactly approved of what he'd done. Buying an English paper and turning it in as your

own-that was pretty bad. Not just wrong, but petty somehow.

(But I think he was sorry. I think that was maybe one of the things he was saying he wasn't proud of.

And maybe there's some way he can make up for it. Like if he wrote another paper and turned it in, and

explained to Ms. Renquist. Don't you think, Angel?)

(Hm? Oh, sure. Good idea.)

(Because sometimes being sorry isn't enough,

you know? You've got to do something. Angel? Angel?)

(I'm here. Just thinking about your next class. And your powers and things. Did you know there's a spell

to bring in money?)

(There is? Now, that's really interesting. I mean, I don't care about money money, but I'd really love a

car…)

That night Gillian lay in bed, head propped on pillows, legs curled under a throw, and thought about how

lucky she was.

Angel seemed to be gone for the moment; she could neither see him nor hear his voice. But it was Angel

she was thinking about.

He had brought her so much-and he'd brought her himself, which she sometimes thought was the

greatest gift of all. What other girl could have two gorgeous guys without being unfaithful to either of

them, or making either of them jealous? What other girl could have two great loves at once, without

doing wrong?

Because that was how she'd come to think of Angel. As a great love. He wasn't a pillar of light to her

anymore, or a terrifyingly beautiful apparition with a voice like silver fire. He was almost like an ordinary

guy, only impossibly handsome, devastatingly witty, and incidentally supernatural. Since learning she was

supernatural herself, Gillian felt he was somehow more accessible.

And he understood her. Nobody had ever known her, or could ever know her, the way he did. He

knew all her deepest secrets and most carefully hidden fears-and he still loved her. The love was obvious

every time he spoke to her, every time he appeared and looked at her with those startling eyes.

I'm in love with him, too, Gillian thought. She felt quite calm about it. It was different from the way she

loved David. In a way, it was more powerful, because nobody could ever be as close to her as Angel

was-but there was no physical aspect to it. Angel was a part of her on a level nothing human could touch.

Their relationship was separate from the human world. It was unique.

"Tie me kangaroo down, mate!" A light was appearing beside the bed.

"Where've you been, Australia?"

"Checking on Tanya and Kim the Gym, actually. Tanya's bandaged from shoulder to fingers and she's

not thinking about writing anything. Kim's sucking a popsicle and moaning. Inaudibly."

"Good." Gillian felt a triumphant glow. Which was wrong, of course; she shouldn't enjoy other people's

pain. But she couldn't hide it from Angel-and those girls deserved it. They would be sorry, sorry, sorry

they had ever tangled with Gillian Lennox.

"But we've got to work out a more permanent solution," she said. "And figure things out about my

parents."

"I'm working on all of it." Angel was gazing at her with a kind of dreamy intentness.

"What?"

"Nothing. Just looking at you. You look particularly beautiful tonight, which is absurd considering you're

wearing flannel pajamas with bears on them."

Gillian felt a quick sweet throb. She looked down. "These are cats. But the bears are my favorite,

actually." She looked back up and grinned wickedly. "I'll bet I could start a little bears fashion at school.

You can do anything with enough guts."

"You can do anything, that's for sure. Sweet dreams, beautiful."

"Silly. Stop it." Gillian waved a hand at him. But she was still blushing when she lay down and shut her

eyes. She felt absurdly happy and complimented. And beautiful. And powerful. And special.

"Hear about Tanya?" Amanda the Cheerleader said at lunch break the next day. She and Gillian were in

the girls' bathroom.

Gillian eyed herself in the mirror. A touch with the comb… perfect. And maybe a little more lipstick.

She was doing the glamour thing today. Dark, mesmerizing eyes and bold, laughing red mouth. Or maybe

she should pout instead of laugh. She pursed her lips at herself and said absently, "Old news."

"No, I mean the new stuff. She's got complications, apparently."

Gillian stopped applying lipstick. "What kind of complications?"

"I don't know. Fever, I think. And her whole arm's turning purple."

(Angel? Purple?)

(Well, I'd say more mauve myself. Relax, kid. Fever's a natural side effect of a bad rash. Just like poison

ivy.)

(But-)

(Look at Amanda. She's not too upset.)

(No, 'cause she probably knows Tanya was messing with her boyfriend. Or she has some other reason

not to like her. But, I mean, I don't want Tanya really hurt.)

(Don't you? Be honest.)

(Well, I mean, not really, really hurt, you know? Medium hurt. That's all.)

(I don't think she's going to drop dead this minute.) Angel said it patiently.

(Okay. Good.) Gillian felt a little embarrassed for making a big deal-and at the same time she had a

fleeting impulse to go check on Tanya herself. But the impulse was easily quashed. Tanya was getting

what she deserved. It was only a rash. How bad could that be?

Besides, Angel was looking after things. And she trusted Angel.

She added the last dab of lipstick and smiled at herself in the mirror. Definitely she was one hot witch.

In sixth period, messengers brought candy canes that people had ordered last week from the Vocal Jazz

Club. You could send the candy canes, which

came with a ribbon and a note, to anyone you wanted.

Gillian got a pile so large that everyone laughed, and Seth Pyles ran over and snapped a picture of it for

the yearbook. After school David came and rummaged through the pile, looking at the messages and

shaking his fist, pretending to be jealous.

It was a very good day.

"Happy?" Angel asked that afternoon. David's mother had recruited him for heavy-duty Christmas

housecleaning, so Gillian was alone in her bedroom-which meant it was just her and Angel. She was

folding socks and humming her favorite carol, "O Come All Ye Faithful." "Can't you tell?"

"Not with all that noise you're making. Are you really happy?"

She looked up. "Of course I am. I mean, except for the stuff with my parents, I'm totally happy."

"And being popular is all you expected it to be."

"Well…" Gillian paused in bewilderment.

"It's-it's a little different from what I expected. It's not the be-all and the end-all I'd have thought.

But then I'm different from what I thought."

"You're a witch. And you want more than just candy canes and parties."

She looked at him curiously. "What are you trying to say? That I should do some more spells?" "I'm

saying that there's more to being a witch than doing spells. I can show you, if you trust me."

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