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How the Phoenix Learned to Fly

I was laid out on the couch, my head in Lady’s lap so it would be easier for them to absently stroke my hair with one hand while they wrote in their journal with the other. I was feeling needy but not needy enough to break Lady’s focus.

Ah, before we get too far into this story, let me clear something up for you. Don’t let Lady’s name fool you into making assumptions about the kind of character they are. There’s very little “lady”-likeness about them. They’ve been around for far too long to subscribe to such human limitations as the silly binaries we’ve recently placed on ourselves.

Lady told me that, when they first got to this house, they decided they wanted to shed the name that belonged to the last life that they had tried on. They’d found a Lenormand deck the day the coven moved in; the Lady was the card they drew. The name stuck.

Lady didn’t look at me when their hand stopped moving. “What’s that?” they asked.

“Huh, what?” I looked up at them in an attempt to connect.

They tapped their fingers twice, near my temple. “Right here. There’s a niggling.”

The light scratching of their pen continued just beyond my field of vision as I traced their ever-more familiar lines with my gaze. The short, pointed nose and harsh jawline. Long black hair runs in parallel wisps to frame their long neck. Protruding collar bones at the top of the almost indiscernible rise and fall of their chest.

I resumed my original position, staring blankly at the ceiling, and sighed. “Nothing.”

“Mmhmm,” Lady hummed through their nose, unconvinced.

I heaved another, bigger sigh and sat up, huffing as I rolled over onto my front and propped myself up onto my elbows. I rested my chin in my palms and scrunched my nose at them. “I don’t know why you always pretend to not know.”

“I don’t pretend,” they said. Their tone is so blunt, with softly scalloped edges. “You know I don’t pry without permission or just cause.”

Their free hand was floating, waiting for me to settle somewhere. I nuzzled my cheek into their palm. “Maybe it wo