Cordelia threw herself into work, both at the store and at her little campsite. She really got the hang of things at the Hex Shop – sometimes, Grace would even let her work on potions on her own, even though Grace was ultimately the one to end the finishing touches to the potions, actually make them magical. Cordelia wondered what the difference was, but she enjoyed her new findings nonetheless.
It was a busy season for the shop’s little garden too, autumn meant a lot of produce and ingredients ripening, so they would spend a lot of time harvesting crops. Cordelia didn’t really like being in the garden alone though, she was she saw the scarecrow move at least a couple of times.
The sprites would make an appearance from time to time. Cordelia made her best efforts to ignore them and their incessant niggling. On those days, Grace really helped Cordelia make it through the day – she still hadn’t confided in her co-worker about the full story with the sprites, but just the fact that Grace was aware of them made the world of a difference to Cordelia’s previous job. Same went for the customers – though frankly, some of the customers were far more peculiar than a young girl followed by fae was.
And while things were good at the shop, Cordelia’s real pride and joy back at home. The little shack she’d been working on during evenings and weekends was beginning to come together.
“Hey, your box is actually starting to look like a house!” The elf commented as he emerged from the tree passage.
“You think?” Cordelia stepped back a little to evaluate her work.
“Oh definitely,” Dandelion nodded. “It’s got a door and windows and everything.”
“More of a door frame,” she corrected him. “And it still needs a roof. But I’m glad you think it’s shaping up well.”
“Door frame does the job,” Dandelion shrugged. “I mean, it’s all you need to get inside and out… can I come in?”
“Sure,” Cordelia nodded.
“I’d say this is pretty house-ular,” Dandelion told her as he investigated the shack from the inside. “Who says you even need a roof? If you keep it like this, you could cloudgaze right from your bed. Once you have a bed, I mean.”
“And get rained on right in my bed,” she reminded him gently.
“Oh yeah. I forgot it rained here.” He shrugged. Cordelia wasn’t sure how he could have forgotten – their mad dash to the portal in the middle of a thunderstorm back in the summer was still fresh in her mind.
Dandelion joined her back outside. “Hey, does this make me the first guest you’ve ever had in your house?”
“I guess so.” She smiled at him. “My house. A guest in my house. I can’t believe I actually did it, Dandy! Built a house! Well, almost.”
“Almost built, or almost house?” The elf asked.
“Well, both,” she let out a soft laugh. “I mean, it definitely still needs a lot of work. And if we’re honest, it’s more of a shed than a house. But it’s mine. I made it!”
“I definitely couldn’t build a house.” Dandelion agreed.
“But you have one! How was that built?”
“Magic, duh!” The elf told her. “But speaking of my house, I was actually going to ask if you wanted to come over. I was going to carve pumpkins for Spooky Day tonight.”
It wouldn’t have occurred to her, but she saw no reason not to. She always liked spending time over at Dandelion’s. “Oh. Sure!”
“You seemed surprised when I mentioned Spooky Day,” Dandelion noted when they entered his cottage. “Do humans not celebrate it?”
“Oh, they do. We do, I mean.” She corrected herself. She herself had not done much celebrating of any kind, but she wasn’t going to turn their exchange into a sap story. “I didn’t know elves and spellcasters did, though. We haven’t put any decorations around the shop yet.”
“That’s probably because spellcasters just tend to use spells to decorate,” he explained. “But I don’t really know that many spells, so I figured I’d do it the old-fashioned way.”
“Old-fashioned’s good,” Cordelia told him. “I used to make loads of jack-o-lanterns back in Gibbs Hill around spooky day.”
“Oh yeah?” Judging by the way Dandelion started stabbing into the pumpkin, he didn’t have much experience in that department.
She already regretted mentioning it. The reason she made jack-o-lanterns was the same one why she started crafting wooden toys, to give people in Gibbs Hill a reason to talk to her. But ultimately, the kids would spend Spooky Day out playing and trick-or-treating, while she was alone, with all but her carved pumpkins for company anyway. Nobody wanted to spend time with the weird cursed orphan girl.
“What do spellcasters do for Spooky Day?” She asked him instead.
“Oh, I think it’s some sort of big deal in the magic realm,” Dandelion told her, turning away from the pumpkin.
“Apparently the mages go to the graves of spellcasters who have passed to draw power from them or something. Not something I’d do, it’s a spellcaster-only kind of deal, but it’s meant to be important to them.” The elf continued.
“A magical graveyard on spooky day? Well, they celebrate in style, you gotta give them that.” Cordelia made herself comfortable in the chair in the corner of the room while Dandelion continued to butcher the pumpkin.
“What I think the cool part is that there’s a big funfair that comes to the magic realm most years. And guess what? Lulu invited me to come check it out.” Dandelion beamed.
“Well, that sounds fun. For you, I mean.” Cordelia said cautiously.
“You want to come with me?” He did not pick up on her tone.
“Don’t you want to catch up with your friend?” Cordelia asked him. “I mean, you told me you don’t get to spend too much time with her anymore, so you don’t want me tagging along…” She hoped the excuse sounded convincing.
“She’ll probably be pretty busy though.” Dandelion shrugged, tossing a handful of pumpkin flesh to the side of his workbench. “Like I said, the spellcasters go do their weird graveyard rituals so she’ll probably not have too much time for me.”
Cordelia sighed. It seemed like she’d have to be honest. “Dandy, I don’t think your friend L Faba likes me very much.”
“Well, she doesn’t know you,” the elf pointed out. “But I do, and I like you. So if she gets to know you, she’ll like you too.”
Cordelia was touched by his words, but there was no way she was going to go to the magic realm. She wasn’t sure who she wanted to see less, Morgyn, or L Faba. The two people practically guaranteed to be there. “Dandy… that’s incredibly sweet, but I still don’t think it’s a great idea for me to go.”
“Well that’s a shame,” Dandelion sighed. “I’m sure the fair is really fun.”
Cordelia was confused. “What do you mean, you’re sure it’s fun? I thought you went every year.”
“Not since I was little. Oh, I think I made a mess of this pumpkin.” He added before she had time to think about what he’d said.
“I’m sure it’s not that bad.” She stood up to take a closer look.
“I mean… makes it easier to put the candle in.” Cordelia said helpfully, placing a candle inside the gutted pumpkin remains.
“That’s not what they’re supposed to look like, though.” Dandelion frowned. He moved the pumpkin down to the floor. “Oh well. I thought maybe since I’m going to the fair this year I’d decorate. Guess I won’t.” He shrugged.
She studied his face. “Dandy… didn’t you say Spooky Day is a big deal for the magic folk?” She started carefully. “But you don’t decorate, and you don’t go to the fair in the Magic Realm… don’t you go over to hang out with L Faba? Does she not come here to visit?”
“She’s pretty busy.” Dandelion looked down at his feet, avoiding Cordelia’s eyes. “Until I took you over to the magic realm, we haven’t spoken in… a while.”
“Not even during holidays? What about Winterfest? Didn’t you say you and L Faba grew up together?” Cordelia was taken aback. He never spoke of any family. As far as she was aware, L Faba was the closest to a relative he had.
“Being a sage is a pretty important job, I guess.” He said evasively. “So when we got older, she had less time… that’s kind of why I was hoping you would come to the fair with me… in case Lulu doesn’t really have time.”
“Oh Dandy…” She didn’t know what to say. Of course she knew very little about what being a sage involved, but if Morgyn had time for casual trips to San Myshuno with someone they didn’t even have an interest in, surely L Faba should have time to visit an old friend from time to time.
“It’s no big deal.” Dandelion said. “I’m kinda tired now, so I think I’ll head up to bed. But you can stay if you like.” He headed out for the door.
“Dandelion!” Cordelia rushed after him. “Wait up! I’ll come to the fair with you!”
He looked genuinely confused. “But you said you didn’t want to go.”
“I’ve changed my mind. A magical fair in a magical realm? It does sound fun, actually.” She told him. “Besides, I always have fun when I’m with you. We could go to a landfill and I’d still have fun.”
“Maybe we can do that next time.” The elf beamed. She hoped he was joking. “Thanks, Cordie!”
He wrapped her into a hug before saying good night. Cordelia couldn’t help but wonder about his life in Sylvan Glade before she’d arrived. When they first met, the elf had told her he wasn’t used to visitors. But how lonely had he really been before she stumbled into the magical tree?