[chapter nine]

Disclaimer: If you've heard of them, I don't own them. Everything else is mine, so no stealing, pretty please. ;-)

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Vrai strode purposefully down the hall to where Jimmie sat slumped in a chair, his eyes closed and his hands folded in his lap.

She smiled tenderly at him, thinking of the irony of a powerful warlock looking for all the world like a chaste choirboy.

"Jimmie?" She said softly, touching his shoulder cautiously. "How's your father?"

Jimmie stifled a yawn and stood up, thrusting his hands into his pockets. "No change." He said wearily. "Thank you for coming. It's great to see you." He said, suddenly shy now that Vrai was in front of him, rather than on the other end of a telephone conversation. She looked so pretty with her hair pulled back from her face, her delicate hands covered in thin silver rings…

"You too." She returned, glancing towards the hospital room where Jimmie's father appeared to be sleeping peacefully. "Maybe I should go ahead and…while he's asleep…" She said haltingly, gesturing to the open doorway.

"Vrai…you don't have to…I mean, I know what you told me about casting spells for other people. Need, emotion and knowledge." Vrai nodded but said nothing, secretly pleased that he had remembered her words from so many days and weeks ago. "I mean, you…I…we have all those things, but if you aren't comfortable…"

"Do you have a picture of your father?" Vrai asked, stepping into the silent room and digging into her bag for two blue candles and a piece of green cloth. Jimmie handed her the picture and she carefully wrapped the cloth around it, careful not to damage the picture, glancing only to see that it was a picture of Jimmie and Gary, smiling with their arms wrapped around each other in some Victory Lane or another. It was a perfect picture to use.

Vrai pulled a rolling table close to the bed and sat the picture between the two candles, lighting them as she had always instructed him to, with a flourish above her head. With her eyes, she motioned for Jimmie to close and lock the door, and he did so without a word.

Vrai closed her eyes and concentrated. She imaged Gary as being fully healed, alive, well, and back to normal. The thought of the sickness inside him never crossed her mind - only his health. She saw him as whole and well again in her mind. Her hands were above him as she stood beside his bed, her palms facing towards Gary as she thought over and over of his health. She sensed Jimmie standing opposite her on the other side of the bed, but did not waver in her thoughts of bringing Gary back to a full state of health.

She felt Jimmie raise his own hands to mirror hers, and after invoking her own thoughts and wishes for Gary, she took his hands in hers, almost gasping at the power flowing between them. Jimmie's eyes shot open and bore into hers, clearly also feeling the rush of power.

Vrai knew that Mother Earth had to be listening for all the power that sped back and forth between them, joined only by their hands and their minds.

She spoke the spell aloud, mentally sending the words to Jimmie as she said them so they could chant together.

"I have fashioned this image…Which is the perfect image of Gary…Who was struck down and harmed by pneumonia…I know that the Earth can help heal him…Just as she heals the wounded bird and the gasping fish…All-powerful Mother Earth…You who controls all…Heal Gary…of that which cannot be healed in any other way."

Vrai said it aloud, her voice clear and strong. Jimmie's voice was softer, wavering, but he said every word in unison with her voice, seeming to draw comfort and power from her invocation. After a breath of silence, Vrai repeated the chant once more, Jimmie's more confident voice joining her as she said the measured words again.

They stood in perfect silence for a long moment, their eyes locked only on each other, their hands still clasped warmly together.

Vrai finally took a step away and broke the bond between them. She pinched out the candles with her fingers and turned to face Jimmie once more. "It is done."

"Did it…will it…" Jimmie tried to raise a question, but couldn't.

"It will take time to work. There is nothing more to do now." Vrai said soothingly. "It's best to let it run its course."

"I gotta get out of here." Jimmie whispered suddenly, his voice urgent, pleading.

"Are you ill?" Vrai said, hurrying around to stand beside him, her hand on his shoulder.

"No. I just…can we get out of here? Please?" Jimmie asked, his brown eyes begging her to agree.

Vrai simply nodded, guiding Jimmie out the door with one last look over her shoulder at the man sleeping peacefully in the hospital bed.

chapter ten