Nov 28, 2020 9:32 AM
catherine goes from fairyland to milliways and everybody is very concerned at her
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China sounds cool! Egypt's closer, though, maybe they want to go there first, and then they can head through the Middle East and see... what's even over by China, she's really not sure, she just knows it's way over to the east and that probably India is somewhere over there, too?

Probably they can figure this out as they go. And they can trade stories with the local fairies, and he can teach her to make tiny houses and musical instruments and whatever else one makes out of wood, and they shouldn't have such a hard time finding food for just one human. 

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He can teach her all of those things, and they'll do all right as long as it's springtime, and they'll need to go home before it stops being springtime anyway since she'll need to be made immortal.

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Yep, that's about how it is.

They spend most of the morning in Greece, and then head on to Egypt before nightfall, where they make a little house in a date palm. She makes it through all of her books. She gets to see the pyramids and the sphinx and Egyptian people going about their lives. She is thirty.

They head more or less straight east from Alexandria, not knowing exactly where China is. They hit India by noon, where they explore more or less randomly. It's fascinating, and moreso because she has no idea what to expect anywhere they go. They spend another night there. She makes a little wooden flute and tries to play it and laughs at how bad she is.

In the morning they hit coast and walk along it for a long time, and then a very long peninsula with an island on the end of it, and then they are in Sumatra, and then Java, and then a host of other tiny islands before there are no more islands to hop to. Borneo  and Australia are both too far to attempt, and they must head back the way they came. They spend a second night in the island chain. She is thirty-five.

The fourth morning they finally find China. There's no shortage of places to explore; it's enormous, and full of fascinating people doing fascinating things. When they've gotten a sense of it he asks her where they ought to go next, and she tells him that, actually, she knows how the world is shaped now, and she's been away from her children for ten years, and she misses them terribly.

They spend a final night in China, and on the fifth day they come home. 

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The court has grown while they were gone; there are a lot more rooms and a large underground expansion in progress, and some new faces. 

 

Milliways looks exactly the same. 

Tyelcormo's father has been working on immortality. 

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"So the real question is whether you want to be a fairy, or a human who doesn't age," he tells her.

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She wants to talk to her husband about this.

"Well. Fairies don't have to eat food all the time. They also can't learn people's names without getting entangled, or go to mass without incurring debt, or - do anything good for most people without thinking about how they're going to be repaid. Seems kind of inconvenient, if we're not going to be living with fairies forever. And I think there are lots and lots of universes to explore that don't have any fairies anywhere. So I'm leaning towards human, if I'm not forgetting about anything?"

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"Fairies are more durable, I'm pretty sure. Don't know how important that is but it could come up."

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"Mmm. Still kind of leaning human. Have to be more careful, but - I'd kind of like for us to someday be able to explore other worlds without leaning on anyone else to manipulate them. And that just seems a lot easier if one of us doesn't track debt."

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"Yeah, it does. Just - gotta be very careful with you."

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Hug. "Yeah. We'll be careful."

She tells his father that she'd like to be a human.

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Okay! They know how to do it and will bring her something as soon as it's done.

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Cool! 

"So. Colorado Springs?"

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"Yeah."

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The world has in fact been mostly paused. It's very early morning.

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Cassie's sitting out on the front porch with a book.

"Hey. You guys have fun?"

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He pulls Catherine closer. "Yeah."

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Eee. Hug. 

"We got married! And slightly disowned. And then we explored all of India and lots of China and lots of some other places that I'm not even really sure where they were. But they were lovely."

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"Well, I'm glad. You look happy. Also older, but - happy."

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"Oldest I'll ever look now. They have something to stop aging. Doesn't even have to turn you into a fairy. I'm sure they'd give you some if you asked, too, though of course you'd have to pay for it."

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"Well. Maybe I should get on that."

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"Are the kids awake?"

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"Nah. Another hour yet, I think."

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"Okay." 

And they can head inside. It is exactly how they left it, at least as far as she remembers. 

They have pancake mix. She decides that it is a pancakes sort of morning.

"You gonna be okay here?"

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"Yeah. Gotta pay back Milliways by the time they're grown up."

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"Yeah. Can we do that on just your salary? I could get a job when the baby's old enough for school, probably - I don't know what I'd be, but - "

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