Mavis sighed as she walked downstairs. Her sister was once again in their father’s armchair, oblivious to the maid attending to her. It had been two years since their father had died, and the poor girl hadn’t smiled since.
Today, Mavis would change that.
“Marianne, could you be a dear and tell Rochester to fetch a carriage? I want to go to market.”
Marianne bowed before leaving, allowing Mavis to inspect her sister.
Diana was pale and frail as always, her lifeless eyes glued to the flames of the fireplace. Mavis knelt down and began to scrub her sister’s arm with the soapy cloth Marianne had left behind.
Mavis had only been partially telling the truth: she was going to market, but not one her mother would approve of. The Nightshade Market was at the outskirts of town, almost into the Forest of the Fae. According to rumors, there was a small bakery that sold teas and pastries laden with any emotion one could name, run by a petite woman with a thing for fine wines. Hopefully, a few drinks and some pounds later, Diana would be back to her cheerful self.
“Stay here, please,” Mavis said as the carriage reached a one-story building with fading blue paint and a slanted roof that belched smoke from its chimney. She allowed herself to be escorted from the carriage, but held up a hand when Rochester made to follow her inside the shop. “No need, Rochester,” she stated with a gentle smile as she took the bottle of burgundy from him, “I’ll be fine.”
“But milady, the fae—”
“I’ll be fine. Trust me,” she insisted, then entered the store before Rochester could object.
The interior of the little shop was better maintained. Pastries labeled with personalized cards were boasted under glass covers on wooden tables, while packets of tea and bottles of wine lined the shelved walls. In the middle of the room sat a dark-haired woman reading the newspaper.
The woman looked up, her look of annoyance replaced by one of warmth. “Ah, welcome, welcome! Do sit down, dear!” She gestured to the seat in front of her. “And please, crack open that bottle of burgundy!”
Mavis flinched, words of warning about the magically ‘blessed’ echoing through her head. She silenced them and made her way to the offered seat, giving the wine bottle to her hostess.
After a few drinks, the woman inquired, “Now that my thirst is quenched, how may I help you?”
“Would you happen to have a tea or pastry that can infuse one with happiness?”
The woman frowned. “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid we don’t carry that emotion currently.”
Mavis’s fists clenched, but she took a deep breath and let them go. Keeping her voice level, she asked, “Do you know when you’ll get some more?”
The woman’s cold, sardonic laugh sent color and heat into Mavis’s cheeks. What an idiotic question! Happiness wasn’t some herb you could hunt for. Mavis could feel her eyes burn. Diana would never be cured of her sadness.
Noticing her companion’s silence, the woman sighed sadly. “I’m sorry, my child, but happiness is very hard to come by, especially in this day and age.”
“I…I understand. I’m sorry for wasting your time.” Mavis rose slowly and curtseyed to the woman before leaving the store.
The woman licked her lips. No, they rarely carried happiness, but sadness was very easy to find. The girl’s would make an excellent filling for a tasty turnover, and her sister…her sister could keep them in business for months, maybe even years.
She would have to keep an eye on this Mavis.