Millie slept well that night, and dreamed of fairy dresses, sad forests and orchards on buildings.
The rest of the week passed quietly as Millie learned her way around the village and began to meet and get to know the people living there.
She was tucking into breakfast on Friday morning when Adam dropped a strange little box beside her on the table.
“Here you go, I’ve jigged up a mobile phone with a green-power battery. If you ask the vines outside your window, they’ll be able to recharge it each night and you’ll be able to phone and message people and make me jealous with all the things you’re doing.”
Millie gave it a cautious poke. Nothing happened.
She picked it up. It was a normal-looking smartphone, just a lot thicker than most. She’d played on her mother’s one often enough, she should be able to figure this one out.
“You need to set a passcode for it, and I’ve already put in the home number here, plus my mobile, and the workshop in the village as it’s usually the best place to get hold of Dad. You can add in your mum and stuff too. This works on a kind of Wi-Fi, rather than an actual network so you can call anywhere and it’s not going to cost anything.”
Shaun was also at the table, “I’m going to pretend I have half an idea of what you’re saying. You might want Master Egert to work on your language translation skills – tech to English.”
Adam grinned at his father, “That’s because you’re an old codger, Millie understood every word didn’t you.”
Millie ruthlessly pushed down a giggle.
“Every word, yes. I have no idea what you actually said though.”
Adam rolled his eyes, “I am surrounded by philistines. Just as well I’m heading back to civilisation today. But Millie, if I don’t get a daily update from you, I’m going to do, um, something. And it’ll be dreadful I promise.”
Millie had been fiddling with the phone and now had it switched on. She tapped it triumphantly and a second later, Adam’s back pocket chimed.
He fished out a slimmer handset and checked the message.
“Okay, fine, I promise to text you every day.”
“Why’s your phone thinner than mine?”
“I can power mine directly. You need a bit of help from a battery that likes plant power and doesn’t go weird around magic. I’m working on something a bit smaller but it’s not behaving properly yet.”
Shaun nodded, “That is the core of technological advancement in a nutshell, everything is dictated by how small and powerful your battery is.”
He looked at the two blank faces in front of him and laughed, “Adam, you need to pay more attention to Master Egert if you haven’t worked that one out yet. Ask him about it.”
Adam grimaced, “I swear I’m the only apprentice that gets sent back to my JourneyMaster with whatever the opposite of homework is.”
Millie snorted, “At least your parents pay attention to what your magic is and don’t try to make it something else.”
Her two companions sobered, Adam gave her a comforting shoulder bump.
“I’m sure she’ll come around, she’s probably just scared because she doesn’t know where you are and what you’re doing. Mum was a nervous wreck until she was able to come over and visit Master Egert and make sure I wasn’t being mistreated or exploited or any other crazy thing she was dreaming up.”
Edda walked into the kitchen, “And here was me thinking I’d covered up so well.”
Adam snorted, “Okay, fine, you were fine with it. But loads of other parents are totally unreasonable, right Dad?”
“Some can be a little more concerned than they need to be.”
“Mum wasn’t worried about me, she thought I was lying about my magic, or that Edda was lying to me. And that’s just rude.”
Edda gave Millie’s shoulder a pat as she walked past on the way to the kettle.
“Thank you for your support my dear, we’ll work it out. Although Adam’s right. She probably won’t feel at ease with where you are and what you’re doing until she’s seen it for herself.”
Adam sat bolt upright, “Don’t you dare have her here while I’m away.”
Millie asked, “Why? Do you think it’ll be funny?”
Adam looked deeply offended, “NO! I’m not quite that shallow thank you very much. I want to make sure you’ve got as many people as possible on your side if she decides to upset you.”
Edda played peacemaker, “Yes Adam, I promise. I do think it’ll set your mind at ease even more than Millie’s poor mother. Although you will have to promise me you won’t be rude.”
Adam grumbled, but agreed.
Later that morning they all trooped up the stairs to the bus station to wave to Adam as the fae bus took him back to his JourneyMaster’s home.
The afternoon was taken up with quiet tasks; herbology, geography and a lesson in Raven, which wasn’t quite so quiet. Edda was still cross about Quoth’s deception but she said Raven was a useful language to learn, and a good one to start with for animal communication basics.
Millie’s favourite sunbeam woke her on Saturday morning and she snuggled around to smile at it. It was so nice to know the world spoke to her and it wasn’t her imagination. She flopped back and wiggled excitedly.
Today was Market Day and tomorrow was tea with the fae.
The Queen had sent a formal invitation to Edda by way of the blue bird, and Edda had sent an equally formal and graceful reply in return.
“Another subject to add to your lessons Millie, diplomacy and polite nothings.” She said, signing her name to the card, tucking it into an envelope and handing it to the bird bouncing along the balcony railing.
Millie frowned. “Why would being able to say nothing be useful for a Greenwitch?”
“Because we sometimes have to deal with people who think they are important. It’s often quicker and easier to let them keep thinking that. That way they don’t get offended and try to interfere, you see. Of course some still do try to throw their weight around and then it’s a case of deciding when to stop being polite and do something.”
“What kind of something?”
Edda looked mischievous. “Whatever it takes to make your point, without creating too much trouble for The Council.”
She’d left the topic there, promising to return to it when they’d reached a suitable point in their etiquette lessons.
But now, it was Saturday morning, and there was going to be a market in the field next to the bus station and they were going to find decorations for her room.
Quoth swooped down when she stepped onto her balcony and nodded approvingly when she greeted him in halting Raven.
“I’m going to have to have the rest of the conversation in Human though, that’s about all I’ve learned so far.”
Quoth cawed in reply. “It’s a good start. Now, little Greenwitch, what are your plans for the day?”
She frowned at him. “Why? So you can suggest something else to get me into trouble? Well, we’re busy. We’re going to the market. And then tomorrow we’re having tea with the fae queen.”
Quoth fluffed his feathers, looking mildly offended. “I was merely thinking to suggest an exploration of the woods. The deeper trees are so excited to meet you, you know.”
“You’re up to something. And I’m afraid they’ll have to wait until Edda is available to go with me. After my visit through the fae portal, they’re worried.”
Quoth was now looking like a put-upon feather duster. “Well that’s not going to work. She’ll have to think of something else?”
The raven shook himself. “Nothing, no one, never said a thing, just thinking aloud.”
Then took off in a flurry of black feathers, most unlike his usual silent departures.