Jack grabbed Fiona’s arm and dragged her around the corner of the marquee. “My fair Fiona, help me!”
Steve followed quickly. “They’re having the first dance. What’s going on?”
Jack held up a necklace. It shimmered in the late December sunlight, emeralds glimmering on the fine silver chain. “Brand is planning to propose to Lady Freydis tonight using this. We have to keep it away from him.”
“You can’t propose at someone else’s wedding.” Fiona said. “That’s outrageous.”
“Brand seems to think that because it’s Ian’s second marriage and Jeanette isn’t bothered that it doesn’t matter.” Jack looked around. “But Ian would quite literally shred him and now is not the time.”
“How did you get hold of it?” Steve asked.
“I picked his pocket.” Jack said, glancing around the corner. “But I need to hide it. He’ll suspect me straight away.”
“I can’t imagine why.” Steve said.
Jack thrust the necklace at Steve. “Keep it moving! It’s got all sorts of magic on it, and it’s probably got a caller on it.” He frowned. “Like ‘find my phone’ but for jewellery.”
Steve glanced down at Fiona’s engagement ring. “It’s a spell that has its uses.”
“But not right now.” Jack said. “Must dash.” He shot out of the corner and almost collided with Brand. “Isn’t it a romantic wedding?”
As Brand grunted some sort of reply, Steve and Fiona slipped away. Fiona looked at Steve. “He wouldn’t propose now, would he?”
“He’s been pretty determined.” Steve said. “And all hell would break out if he did. There’s not just one pack here, and each one would want to show that they knew just how bad behaviour should be dealt with.”
Fiona felt a chill run through her. “Lady Freydis would be furious as well.”
“But there’s all of Brand’s friends, and some of those are feral. They don’t see normals from one century to the next.” Steve slid discreetly back into the big marquee to applaud Ian and Jeanette as they finished their dance.
“She looks so beautiful.” Fiona sighed. “But I’m still grateful that we had our wedding our way. The last few weeks have been bedlam.”
“We need to get this necklace hidden.” Steve said. “And I haven’t got an isolation room set up at the house.”
“A what?” Fiona tugged at Steve’s hand. “Come on, just a little dance.”
Steve stopped and looked down at his beautiful wife. He dropped a quick kiss on her forehead. “We will definitely have a dance, but later. An isolation room is somewhere hidden from magic. They’re hard to set up and I’ve not had a chance yet. Watch out – here’s Brand.”
“I’ll stall him.” Fiona said. “You find a good hiding place.”
Steve picked his way through the crowd. Ian and Jeanette had done the legal part in the middle of the week, taking only Callum and Jasmine as witnesses. They were making up for it today. Two hundred had sat down to the meal and at least double that were already filing in for the evening. Ian’s old pack had all turned out, along with Kieran’s pack and quite a few representatives from nearby packs to show approval of how he had dealt with Callum, Jasmine and Trent. Then there were the staff from the White Hart. Ian was determined to do it right and show some prestige. There were the boggart kits who had worked part time and their parents, cubs from half the country and a selection of Adele’s family who had all been warned not to start anything.
And then there were Jeanette’s family. There were a few werewolves tasked with making sure that they didn’t suspect anything about the people at the party. Steve thought that was a forlorn hope and that the best bet was to get them so drunk that they couldn’t remember seeing a boggart, completely without a glamour, hairy arms flying as they did the Locomotion.
For a moment Steve considered leaving the necklace with them. But even though everyone had been warned, he couldn’t trust Brand to stay away from them. And it was no good putting it behind the bar. Steve spotted Brand heading towards him, forcing his way through the throng. He had to lose the necklace. He spotted Darren who was holding hands with Jasmine in a corner. That was it. He had to keep the necklace moving.
Darren was not impressed when Steve interrupted him. “I’m not on any sort of duty.”
“Seriously, you have to keep this moving.” Steve surreptitiously slid the necklace into Darren’s pocket. “Brand is going to use a necklace to propose to Lady Freydis this evening.”
Jasmine stared. “Ian would literally kill him,” she said. “He’s been the one stressing about the wedding being perfect. He’ll murder anyone who upsets Jeanette tonight.”
“Jeanette isn’t stressed about the wedding.” Darren felt carefully in his pocket.
“At the moment she’s doing a lot of crying.” Jasmine said. “Even when she’s happy. It’s hard on Ian.”
“And Jeanette.” Steve said. “Look, see how I’m asking advice about where to stash the necklace.” He pointed to the house, apparently trying to shield his gesture from Brand. “Keep the necklace moving.”
As Steve moved with purpose towards the house, Darren leant forward and lightly kissed Jasmine. “Would you like to dance?”
Jasmine sighed. “I’d love to dance, but I know that you will just be using it as an excuse to palm off the necklace.”
“Absolutely correct.” Darren said. “I’m going to try and palm it onto Mike, who is another one who will kill Brand if he disturbs the wedding.” He paused for a moment, standing close to Jasmine. “You look so beautiful.”
“Thank you.” Jasmine smiled up at him. “You look pretty good yourself.” She followed Darren to the marquee where the huge dance floor was already filling up. “A lot of people are fine with proposals at weddings, but not Ian.”
“I know.” Darren held her close for a moment before doing his best to move to the music. He was not a natural dancer, but the mood was for enthusiasm over style and no-one was taking notes. “Besides, having a proposal rejected with enthusiasm and vigour wouldn’t help at all. You can’t expect Lady Freydis to be subtle.”
“Who do you think she’ll marry.” Jasmine asked, as they worked their way across the dance floor.
“Whoever she pleases.” Darren said. He swore suddenly. “Dammit, the necklace is enchanted. Brand’s looking for it. I can’t give it Mike. I need to find someone with a few magic skills.”
Jasmine looked down at Darren’s pocket, which was glowing faintly. It was hidden by the growing press on the dance floor, but it was only a matter of time before Brand caught up and it could get nasty. “But who can you give it to? I can’t see Jack, and Steve is a suspect. If any of the elfen find out, there’ll be trouble, and Ian would genuinely kill Brand.”
“Can you see Mrs Tuesday?” Darren asked.
“That’s a great idea.” Jasmine said. “Everyone’s scared of Mrs Tuesday.”
“No, I can’t give it to her. There would still be a scene.” Darren glanced around and saw Ian and Jeanette making the rounds, both of them glowing with happiness. “But her friend knows what he’s doing with magic.”
“Really?” Jeanette looked around. “Ian just told me never to be alone with him.”
Darren looked back at her. “He’s alright.” He saw Brand trying to push his way through the dance floor. “I’ll explain later, but come on, let’s start looking at the bar.”
The bar was almost as full as the dancefloor. The pack had set it up with plenty of tables and chairs scattered around, along with some beanbags and comfortably padded rugs. Some of the older werewolves had already gone to fur and were lounging in the corner with dog bowls of beer in front of them. Mrs Tuesday was sitting with a glass in front of her with some of the other boggarts while Jason was at the bar, yarning with some of the older werewolves that were still in clothes. Darren rushed up to him, Jasmine trailing behind him.
“Jason, can you help me out?”
“Sure.” Jason smiled politely at Jasmine. “The blessing was beautiful.”
“Thanks.” Darren pulled out the necklace. “Brand is planning to propose to Lady Freydis with this necklace this evening. We’ve got to keep it away from him until after the party has finished.”
The werewolf next to Jason, a big man that looked like he could juggle tractors, and who had already shed his jacket and tie, stared. “Ian would rip him to pieces. It would be a bloodbath.”
Jasmine nodded. “We can’t let that happen.”
The werewolf had had a few drinks. “And Mike would rip him to pieces. I mean, I know what happened, but Mike’s still very fond of Ian.”
“I know.” Jasmine said.
“And then Kieran would rip Brand to pieces.” The werewolf shook his head. “There would be blood everywhere.”
“It would be dreadful.” Jasmine said.
“I wouldn’t say that I wouldn’t want to rip him to pieces.” The werewolf took another draught from his pint. “I mean, young Ian may have made mistakes, but he kept his fur flat and his tail up…”
Darren pulled Jason aside. “It’s being tracked by magic. Can you do anything?”
“Hang on.” Jason frowned. “I think I know something. Can you get me a clean glass? And do you have a mirror?”
“Do I look like I carry mirrors around with me?” Darren said.
“Yes,” Jason grinned. “How about your girlfriend?”
“I’ve got something.” Mrs Tuesday had come up without Darren noticing and handed over a small handbag mirror. She looked to where Jasmine was nodding politely as the werewolf worked his way through the list of people who would rip Brand to pieces. “What’s going on?”
Darren explained as Jason carefully slipped the necklace and mirror inside a clean pint glass and concentrated. Mrs Tuesday shook her head.
“Lady Freydis would have an absolute fit!” she said. “She’s very fond of Ian and Jeanette.” She thought for a moment. “And she would enjoy having a chance to show off her skills at disciplining difficult elfen.”
“She’s very good at that.” Darren said. He felt the metallic sensation of magic working and saw Jason slip the glass behind the bar. “Will it work?”
“We’re about to find out.” Mrs Tuesday said, settling her handbag more firmly on her shoulder.
Brand came in with purpose and then paused, looking around as the brownie quickly slid the glass into a tray and slipped away to the kitchen. Brand didn’t notice. He looked around, glowering, then stormed back out to the bar, fuming.
The wedding was finally winding down. A local taxi firm had been hired to take people back to York and quite a few were staying at the house. The local packs were camping out in the marquees and at least one seemed to be a heap of fur. It had been a beautiful wedding, and Fiona was almost sad it was over. There hadn’t even been a fight.
Steve met her as she checked in the kitchen, which the brownies had left immaculately clean. “I’ve got the necklace. We can give it back to Brand now.”
“Where is he?” Fiona asked.
Steve looked around the large garden almost entirely hidden by marquees and at the sprawling house and sheds. “That is a good question. Let’s try the bar.”
Snow was starting to fall in tiny, delicate flakes as they headed into the bar. Brand was there, leaning against the bar next to a few werewolves snoozing next to their beer dishes. Jason was listening with interest as Brand discussed the issues with the nixies in the tarns at his home. Steve approached carefully and tapped Brand on the shoulder. “I found this.”
Brand took it and shook his head sadly. “It’s no good. I have given up all hope. I found Lady Freydis having sex with Martin.”
“That doesn’t actually mean anything.” Steve said cautiously.
Brand shook his head. “It was an unnatural position. I shall go back to Nidderdale.”
Steve opened his mouth and then shut it again. He looked at the sparkling snow settling gently over the lawn. “At least she made sure that it was a white wedding.”