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"There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself - an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly." - Antisthenes

London, England; 1889, A.D.

"Fancy meeting you here!" Charles Allen tipped his hat to me as I was perusing the books at my favourite book store, John Watkins Books in the centre of London. "I knew that members of the Order frequented Mr. Watkins' establishment but I had not figured you to be one as well. How is it we missed each other entirely?" Charles Allen oozed as much charm as he possibly could, his sparkling blue eyes appraising me up and down. That look did not make me comfortable in the slightest.

"Mr. Allen," I said coolly. "Perhaps we just happened to miss each other is all." I began perusing the titles that lined a large oaken table. I was about to pick up one on the Demons of Upper Mesopotamia when the owner of the shop, John Watkins called out,"Mademoiselle McKay!" John Watkins eyes crinkled, "I was hoping to see you sometime this week. I have news about the book you were looking for." he pulled down his spectacles from his forehead and began rooting in a small scuffed wooden box, "Let me see here..." he began shuffling through the orders, then stopped himself and waved a hand to me "Oh, please, Mademoiselle, browse, visit with your friends. I will let you know my news as soon as I get my notes."

Charles, wasting no time, gave me a grin and lowered his voice, "I see that I am far from being forgiven. I came here from the tailor's you know. My last shirt was ruined inexplicably. It seemed that someone had stuck a hole in it and I bled as a result."

"I could have pressed the matter further, if you would have preferred. Would you like another go?" I picked up a book by Eliphas Levi and began perusing through it and then glanced at him. He seemed to be rather taken aback at my lack of forgiveness and my still being very angry with him.

"Honestly, Frances," he said feigning a near complete defeat. "I had wanted to turn a new leaf with you. Especially since..."

"Since?" I was truly interested now. As if Charles Allen could ever at any time have been prevailed upon to look at anyone beyond himself with interest, I was all ears.

"Since the untimely tragedy you have suffered, Frances," he tried to look consoling, but looks could always be deceiving.

"Oh it's pity is that it?" I fingered the tooled leather cover of a particularly lovely example of the "Mysteriorum Liber Tertius" by Dr. John Dee, at once feeling very defensive at Charles' scrutiny. "I was quite surprised to find your name among the list of possible Initiate candidates."

"Not at all, Fae....Frances, he corrected himself immediately, "Sorry," he winced, realising immediately what it was he had done. "Frances."

I glared at him. If he he had spoken my magickal name aloud outside of the sanctum of the Order or in private or without my express permission, I could have been well within my rights to demand that he be thrown out of the Golden Dawn. To Know to Will, to Dare, to Know and to Keep Silent were fundamental laws within that Order. Everyone knew them before standing before their Initiators. The Keeping Silent part could well be considered the most important part. While Augustin Chaubert had the permission and wisdom to use that name because he had earned it over the years, Charles Allen did not. I was taken aback by the amount of rage hearing it Charles Allen's lips.

"Never do that again." I gave and held a withering gaze upon him and I did not pull my eyes away from Charles until Mr. Watkins called out that he had indeed found the book I was looking for. Charles shrugged casually, but my point had been made.

I left Charles fidgeting among the book tables to go speak to Mr. Watkins. The bookstore owner would be able to procure the desired book, just so long as I was to make pre-arrangements it. There was, it seemed the requisite that whomever purchased it would pass muster with the bookstore's proprietor, which Watkins laughed did not seem to be a problem in the slightest. The cost, however was still an astonishing amount, but the fact that I paid it without the slightest bit of haggling reassured John Watkins he knew his customers and his business.

"It should be here in a week or less, Mademoiselle," Watkins said, tucking the money in another box, this one a lacquered Chinese one that he kept for special orders. "I will send word as soon as I receive it, or you are in here often enough, I am sure I will see you."

"Indeed," I said smiling, and then glancing at Charles who was watching Watkins and myself. "Thank you, Mr. Watkins. If not that, I am sure we shall meet somehow." Since Watkins was himself a member of the Order, it was likely I would see him in that amount of time at the house on Maypool street.

With my business conducted, and no desire to engage Charles Allen any more than I had to, I reached into my handbag and glanced at the small watch that I kept in it. "Oh, dear," I said, "I believe I am late for an appointment. If you will excuse me Mr. Watkins, " I glanced again at Charles, "Mr. Allen - I really must be going."

I left the store into the awaiting carriage and let out a long sigh of relief. Though I loved that particular bookstore and was very fond of it's owner, the presence of Charles Allen within it had become stifling. As soon as the door of the carriage closed, I allowed myself to reflect on a far earlier, decidedly more fateful encounter in the very same establishment.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Number twenty-six Charing Cross, please," I said to my driver. He held the umbrella over my head so that I would not become too drenched as I ducked into the shop.

In spite of the April London downpour, I was excited to be able to visit John Watkins bookstore that had opened. Originally it had been called, the "University of Rejected Sciences", and he had just recently released his catalogue of both collectable and rare books.Since it was located in the centre of London. The man must have had impeccable timing for the world seemed agog of the beliefs and customs of the rest of the world and certainly the English in their pursuit of empire were questioning of long-held beliefs. I folded and unfolded the slip of paper on which I had scrawled my own request. It was a very specific magickal text that I had been searching for to no avail. I had to take the chance.

When the coach stopped in the front of the store which appeared to have at least one patron inside. On the outside it was dignified and lovely, with dark wood floor to ceiling shelves, neatly laid out, some of them with closed and locked glass doors that could be opened upon request. I stared down the long expanse of rows of bookshelves wide eyed and so full of astonishment at such a treasure trove that I barely noticed the man who had come up to me.

Mr. John Watkins, the owner of Watkins' Books was slender and slight of build, I judged to be in his forties. He had bright blue eyes and a thin mouth with an expression that was congenial and he gave off an immediate aura of both helpfulness and curiosity. "Good afternoon, Madame," he said extending his hand, "Welcome to John Watkins Books. Might I be of assistance?"

I nodded and handed the slip of paper, which he read aloud. "The Enochian Scriptures and Hermeticum of Dr. John Dee," he hummed to himself, "let me see a moment, I am certain that I have it here somewhere." He tapped his chin with a long finger and then gave me a smile, "Please make yourself at home, Miss. I shan't be but a few moments." And he scurried off in another direction.

"Pardonne moi, Mademoiselle," said a voice with a decidedly French accent, "but I could not help but overhearing you asking for a specific text?"

I turned to the sound of the voice and gentleman in front of me who had to have been nearly a full foot taller than myself when I was not wearing boots. He was quite handsome, I judged to be in his late thirties or early forties. He cut an elegant figure and had penetrating hazel eyes.

"Oui, "I nodded, suddenly aware that my gaze might have been construed as being somewhat impolite, I blinked. "I was told that I might find it here rather than any other store in town. Do you know it, Monsieur?" I asked.

I felt so small standing there, staring up at him with wide, questioning eyes. He nodded, "Oui. I know it very well. I believe," he said, reaching up and plucking a book from a shelf that was very much out of my reach, "that this is the one you were inquiring after."

I gave him a small, grateful smile as he handed me the small, black book. He seemed to know the store better than its owner, but I wondered if the gentleman would actually relinquish it to me or hold it there and continue staring at me. I was certain that few ladies came into the shop and fewer still would ask for the book.

"An Adeptus I see," I said, "Only a few know the book and fewer still have seen it, let alone the exact place where to lay their hands upon it. May I?" I asked, extending a gloved hand to him.

"I could say the same of you, Mademoiselle. I am surprised that one of your...persuasion, would be interested in it at all," he handed me the tome, "If I may be of any more assistance, please do not hesitate to ask. I do not work here, but I do know the place well," he said slowly withdrawing his hand from the book. "You may call me Chaubert."

"Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Chaubert," I said gratefully taking the book and carefully thumbing through its leaves.

The pages were gloriously illustrated and illuminated with many figures and vigils as well as being written mostly in both Hebraic and Enochian. Which I scanned. It was glorious! I went to a section that I knew I needed and it was precisely what IO had been looking for, "Ah," I said with affirmation, "That is just what I needed. Merci again, Monsieur Chaubert." She pulled her eyes back from the pages of the book to look straight at him and felt the oddest sensation wash over her.

It was the sensation of recognition.

"You are most welcome, Mademoiselle...?"

She nodded, "Oui. It is 'Mademoiselle'. " I thought it best not to explain to a perfect stranger that I had just come out of three and a half years of mourning.

"Ahh. Yes," he seemed disappointed, "Well, I was hoping for a name, but if that is too much, I will beg your pardon."

"Pardonez, Monsieur Chaubert," I extended my hand to him, " Je m'appelle, McKay, Francoise McKay," I said opting for the most formal French politeness that I could muster, "I did not wish to appear to be rude." I decided it best to gift this gentleman with as bright a smile, as I could. "Or ungrateful. You have been very kind. Merci beaucoup."

"Enchante', Mademoiselle McKay, he gently took my hand and inclined his head slightly. "it is very nice to meet you." Mohnsieur Chaubert smiled in return then, which it appeared that it might have been something that he hadn't done in a very long time. I wondered if his face might crack with this almost new expression.

"Mademoiselle," he glanced at his pocket watch, "I am terribly sorry. Please forgive me, but I must be off. I have a very important...meeting to prepare for."

He bowed slightly then left the bookshop, carefully closing the door behind him, a package from his own purchase in the shop, tucked under his arm.


*~*~*~*~*~

The gaze that met mine that very evening, at the event of my own Initiation was none other than that of the man I had met earlier. We were surrounded by robbed and hooded members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, but it was my earlier chance encounter that held the ceremonial sword between my breasts as I repeated my vows.

I projected my Will to him that my vows were made in complete and utter trust. In that moment, I knew that it was as if two lives had come into orbit with one another and were both, from that moment, explicitly changed. I did not, would not, falter. Later I was told by both Chaubert and Leland that I had not missed one word of my vow and my eyes did not dart nervously, but instead stared directly into Chaubert's own. I can clearly recall the intensity of that gaze and the feel of the ceremonial sword, yet I did not fear.

To this day, I have not. And he has always held my complete trust as I have always done my best to earn his as well.





Francoise McKay / Faelyn
Original Character
2254 Words

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