The words rose up loosely, falteringly, and mostly dropping back onto the page before she had the chance to draw them in: stack your logs in a square with a corner pointing west. Where had her attention gone to in those first moments? She blinked, hissed focus, and tried again. Words, words that trickled through her mind like wind through chimes, and then: when making fire under the waning moon, stack your logs in a square with a corner pointing west. What in the windy hell was the context of this spell? She knew no more than when she first set foot in the library.
She drew in a long breath and rolled the text to the end of her desk, ever so carefully. She knew how the prefects would react to her snapping the scroll shut and she was in no mood for it. Suspension or detention spells give awful hangovers.
She swept her books into her bag and exited the library, cutting across the quod to get to her room as quickly as possible. Pushing the door shut with one foot, she dropped her things onto the clothes chair, and sat before her vanity mirror. She looked intently at it. The mirror stared back, unperturbed. Its surface caught various fairy lights and blinked these at her innocently. The overflowing closet peeped over her shoulder and seemed to gesture apologetically at the clothes, shoes and dream-catching paraphernalia rising before it. Phoenix placed a hand on either side of the mirror, like a threat, and gazed deeper into her eyes. The wind ran through the window and made the windchimes sing and her hair rise and tickle, and from the wind’s whisper she now knew exactly what she’d forgotten: the date.
It had to be done today, or else she would need to wait another year.
She spun around and ordered her wardrobe to behave. Duly, it swallowed its contents back up. This left the medley of books, bones, dried flowers, and bottles littered in smaller piles around the room. She went into the kitchen and brought back some oranges. Into her bag, she carefully arranged a bouquet of dried flowers, and added the oranges, as well as some bones for good measure. You can never be sure you won’t need a bone to pick later in the day. Of the bottles, she chose a red wine and a few of her most vivid dreams. As she left the room, she swiped a small mirror and a matchbox into her bag, casting a distancing spell on all the objects within it to ensure their safety from collisions – a spell that is coincidentally very good at keeping broken hearts apart if unsuited to one another.
The joy of various dusk gatherings echoed down from windows. Conversations carried across the alleys and hallways further than their disclosers estimated in their chinwagging. The cobbled streets grew quieter closer to the meadows. The spires spread out and the sky opened across the empty field.
Out of the bag came each item, laid out in a square around the bouquet. Facing west and looking clockwise, these were: the oranges, the dreams uncapped, the wine and the standing mirror. She struck a match and set fire to the flowers. As she praised the fire, it grew, and tickled the four corners of her memorabilia: late-season oranges in early summer; tales of a friendly angel perched on a cushion of clouds, and running through an endless hallway to catch a last goodbye; late evenings en tête-à-tête; and when she looked at the mirror, blinking the blaze out of her eyes, she could just about see the ghost hands rested on her shoulders in an otherwise imperceptible embrace. She looked down, and they were back in their established place. She looked up, and all that was reflected back was her usual dress, a look of longing and the dancing flames. Until next year, she whispered through a half smile.