George

I wake up and look at the ceiling for a moment. I’ve got two bombshells to talk about and I really want to know her take on them. I turn over to see if she’s awake yet and she’s sitting in the chair, watching me. In a black dress. She gets up with a big smile. “Hi George! Do you like it?”

“It’s beautiful, but where did you get that?”

“That would be telling. Come and get me?”

“Alright. You start taking that thing off and I’ll get through the barrier.”

“Oh, I’m not taking it off.”

“Wait. You think that will pass through the barrier?”

“I hope so.”

“This I gotta see.”

I get out of bed and through the barrier. What is going on? It seems like a perfectly normal black dress. Could it be— No, I would be able to see through a glamor.

“Are you ready for this, or do you need to wave a magic wand first?”

“No, I’m ready. I think.”

“Alright, let’s try this.”

I take her hand and step back through the barrier, then slowly pull her through. The dress doesn’t have sleeves, so there won’t be any warning signs with sleeves riding up arms. When her arm is halfway through, she steps forward and the skirt of the dress moves right through the barrier like it wasn’t even there!

She ends up on my side, dress and all.

“So, what do you think?”

“I think I’m going to get the bathrobe before I think about this. I feel a little underdressed.”

The smile disappears. “Wait! You’re right, I’m sorry. Look!”

… And it is a glamor!

“How did you do that?”

“Si taught me.”

“Si? Alright. Bathrobe and then I want the whole story.”

“Wait one sec. I want to try something.”

She touches me and I feel something tingle and then a glamor forms around me. A black three piece suit, open leather jacket, with red and gray embroidery, black steel knob buttons on the lapels and a high collar. The vest asymmetric with more red on the right and more gray on the left, black shirt and pants and a black tie with the same red motifs as the coat and vest. The sculpted and engraved belt buckle shows between the panels of the waistcoat. She prepped this. She spent time on this.

“Feeling steampunkish?”

She blushes a little. “I wanted something with a lot of details, to see whether I could do that and—”

“And it might as well be something you liked?”

She nods.

“Hey, I was Mad Scarf Lady. I’m not going to judge. But…”

She looks up. “But. Can you see anything wrong? Can you see through either my dress or your suit?”

I look at myself, feel the sleeve of the suit. It’s all convincingly real. Which is really weird, because I also feel that I’m not wearing anything. I look carefully at the dress, feel one of the shoulder frills. Also solid.

“Nope.”

She looks relieved. “Good. This level I think I could keep up for hours.”

“What level?”

“That’s what Si showed me. You can tighten the glamor and then it becomes harder to see through. I know she can’t see through this, because we experimented a little. If you can’t either, we’re probably good like this.”

“But you can?”

“Yeah. Not nearly as well as with an ordinary glamor, but I can. Si says Aelric can too, but otherwise we should be safe like this.”

“Safe for what?”

She points. “Walking out that door.”

Walking— Right! We can, for the first time since Tuesday before last. “And on the same side too!”

She smiles triumphantly. “Yes, exactly! I wonder what they will think.”

“Alright, but first we need to swap stories. I want to hear this teaching session of yours and I need to tell you two stories of my own. Then we can figure out what we want to do.”

She nods. “Makes sense.”

She makes the shoes disappear and curls up in the chair. “Two stories? You first!”

“Sure, but let me get the bathrobe first. I’m all for this outfit to amaze and dazzle the Consistorium, but it still feels kind of weird.”

“Yeah, I guess it might.”

I put the bathrobe on, she drops the glamor on me and I sit down on the sleeper.

“So, the first thing that happened was that I discovered I can sense jumping ability and arrival points.”

“What?”

I tell her about the morning walk with Lena, seeing Aelric and what happened at Browning. “We think that swapping names counts as another Acceptance and that caused my Sight to pick up this extra stuff.”

She nods. “That’s what I thought. You want my story first, or finish your side?”

“Let me finish. I think it might go together. I dropped off Lena at her place and went to Diana’s. She wanted to know how we had become soul-swapped, so I started telling her about the stranger at the mall and she finished my sentence. She had seen the same guy in the morning, stopped him from stepping into the traffic and gotten a wish.”

…And wished for Pam!”

“Exactly.”

We discuss the rest of the conversation with Diana and what it might mean. I end with, “I haven’t said anything yet, because I don’t want to give her false hope, but I’m starting to think we are becoming her cavalry.”

“You jump and I cover our asses on arrival?”

“Something like that.”

“That scares me, but I do like it.”

“Yeah. Anyway, so maybe we don’t want to show our hand and walk out of that door yet.”

“I think they know about my playing glamors. My turn at story telling.”

She tells the story of her morning.

… and then Kate said that I’d found my alternative to getting through the barrier.”

“That does sound likely, doesn’t it?”

“So, do we try to step out, or do we hide our hand from the Consistorium?”

“Would they be willing to help?”

“Mark probably would, but I don’t know about the rest. They’re about closing borders, remember?”

She sighs. “Yeah. We don’t know what to do yet anyway. Why don’t you try a small step on this side. Even if they see it, that doesn’t give away that you can pass the barrier.”

“Alright.”

She makes an over-dramatic gesture and I seem to be wearing a long sleeved shirt. I open the door and stick my arm out. I feel the sleeve of the bathrobe riding up my arm, but the sleeve of the glamor shirt just goes outside with my arm.

“That works.”

She nods. “Yes. I want to feel happy, but we’re still caught in this trap.”

“We are, but we’re getting close to the exit.”