Hand in hand they walked to the Hall, where they gave a hand laying the tables and brewing tea.
Hilde came toward them, closely followed by Eyvind, This morning he looked like the archetypical Norwegian outdoorsman, bearded, ruddy and lined, yet friendly and well muscled. They sat down and Eyvind asked: "When are Aamu and her nice husband supposed to arrive?"
Knud came over carrying a steaming teapot, and Eyvind repeated his question.
"I'm supposed to be in Schiltach at ten to get her here, but I'm also supposed to be here, doing my share of wandsinging. This is getting more and more complicated." She rose and returned a bit later with Rósa and My.
"Good morning," she said. "The lady here," she indicated tall, red-haired My, who gently inclined her head, "is My Birkeland form Oslo. The other lady," Rósa bowed her blonde head and smiled, "is Rósa Sigurdsdottir from Iceland. And this is Eyvind Haugen, Hilde's non-magical husband."
"We've heard much of you," Rósa said. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you in person."
"The pleasure is all mine," Eyvind said.
"Now," Susan said, "Eyvind asked when Aamu is supposed to arrive later today. The problem is. I promised to go get them -- one of her sons and maybe her nice husband are coming along -- but I also promised to be here and do my share of the wandsinging. And no matter how good a witch I am, bilocation is not among my skills."
"We'll just have to make do with the two of us, until you are free to join us again," Rósa agreed.
"Haven't any of you heard from Anna?" My asked. "I was sure she would be down from her Swedish domicile to help out?"
"Anna!" Rósa exclaimed, "Just a sec!" She left the table and hurried out of the hall.
While Rósa was away the Hall filled, and voices rose and fell. The last stragglers heaped plates and filled mugs and found somewhere to sit. Babies were comforted and fed, and older toddlers were bribed with bits of delicious food. It looked like nothing but a big, boisterous family outing.
My, Knud, Hilde, Eyvind, Finnbogi, Jan, Marit and Susan sat quietly at the table, drinking yet another scalding cup of tea or enjoying the crumpets. Lis, Tage and Heidi came out of the kitchen, where they had been handing out food and sat at a nearby table.
Rósa came running down the stairs clutching a piece of paper. When she saw Knud about to rise, she augmented her speed and waved the paper with a big smile: "I found Anna's letter. I was sure I had it somewhere. She is coming today, soon. She'll use the portal ..."
"Easy does it," Susan said smiling. "But this is good news indeed. Would you care to be our reception committee? Then we'll take care of the chaos here until you return."
"Great," Rósa said, still out of breath, and sat down. "I will leave as soon as Knud has said the words."
Rasmus came over to the table, "I'm sorry to intrude, but I'm afraid we have to go to Tromsø right away, Mum. The hospital just called, Liisa is worse."
Hilde looked up at him and nodded slowly. "Just a second," she said. "We'll be gone in a jiffy. But first let's think. Eyvind of course will stay here and learn, Susan and Knud are good magicians."
"So you keep on saying my dear." Eyvind said. "I'll stay close to them, and I'll talk to Aamu's nice husband when and if he arrives. You take care, both of you."
"We will," Rasmus assured him. "We're taking Finnbogi and Fiona with us. You won't need them for the wandsinging, but ewe need them to make a thorough search of my house and Hilde's house too. And I can hopefully go to Liisa's work and search."
Susan turned to Hilde: "You do not have to return together all four of you, do you? In other words, I'm worried. Please send word back with just one of you if something happens."
We will," Hilde repeated. "And you'll take care of Eyvind, won't you?"
"Of course we will, I need him to persuade Aamu!" Susan said with just the hint of a smile in her eyes.
"True that," Knud said. "But now that so many of us will be missing today we should maybe postpone the wandsinging? We're missing Kirsten and Sarah of course." He looked at My, Hilde, Eyvind, Jan and Marit who stared blankly back at him. "Sorry," he said "Sarah is excluded by a mutual, but temporary decision - even though her son will be here with wife and children now and then. Kirsten needs help, but as she has no children we decided to wait. The worse news are that now Hilde, Finnbogi and Fiona will be leaving for Tromsø and Susan are leaving too. She's going to Schiltach and will hopefully be back later with Aamu and some of her family ..."
Knud drew a deep breath and emptied his mug.
"Do you see what I mean?" Knud asked. "I think the only sensible thing would be to postpone the wandsinging. There's so much confusion, and we can't just tell Anna and Aamu if she decides to join, that people have been dying or getting bamboozled left and rigth and then expect them to sing wands without further explanation and time to catch up."
"And I won't be much good after all the portals, either," Susan sad. "And I suspect My and Rósa will tire easily," she looked at them with an excusing smile. "You have been singing wands for your children and some of the grandchildren. It's much harder doing so for strangers. I had hoped for all five of us to be fit for fight today. But with Aamu still indecisive, Anna just arriving, and me tired from the portals on top of everything, I honestly don't see how it can be done."
"You are right, Susan," My said with a deep sigh, "even singing wands for my children left me tired. It got easier, but still. We need all us wandsingers - or at least the four of us in tip-top condition, if Aamu decides not to join us - I don't get why, but it's up to her. I vote for a postponement."
Let's take a vote. Susan and I have already said how we feel, we want to postpone, My agrees," Knud looked questioningly at My who nodded, "Lis, How say you?"
"Postpone." Lis answered.
No one was in favour of continuing with the original plan. But no one had a solution to what to do instead either.
Suddenly Fiona said: "A broom-race! Even if I'm not here, you can arrange a course, split people in age groups, and have them race one another. Not teams, only two racing one another, the winner racing another winner and so on until only one is left. We don't need any more accidents."
"And I'm sure someone will be able to help me make the broom-quickening potion," My said. "That was after all one of the reasons I came here."
"Well, then that's decided," Hilde said rising. "We're off." She embraced Eyvind, and left with Rasmus, Fiona and Finnbogi in tow.
... to be continued
As always, I read snippets from your wonderful creation with IMMENSE pleasure. It, and your characters, have become very real to me. Take a bow.SvarSlet
This is some of the best praise ever. Thanks.Slet
The way you know a story is a great one is that you care what happens, and hope all is well with them. Someday, i hope to read the whole series of books, from Susan's childhood through her teaching her own children and grandchildren.SvarSlet
WoW, thanks a load. It seems I'll have to write my books in English so as not to disappoint you.Slet
This is very good and now I see how the next chapter fits. (I read that one first)SvarSlet
Sorry to confuse. I try to number the chaopters in an obvious way, but sometimes they are published in a strange order.Slet