Deleted Scene 2

Skating at Rockefeller Center, Version Two

After the first draft, I realized that something more needed to happen in the skating scene, so Ethelinda made an appearance (and then I ended up cutting it entirely and moving things around):

I almost dropped the camera when someone suddenly appeared at my elbow. My first instinct was to grab for my purse, but then I recognized Ethelinda. “Where did you come from?” I asked as I tried to catch my breath.

“Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” Ethelinda said, but she didn’t sound all that contrite.

Then I remembered that Connie was standing on my other side. I turned to see her staring at us. I wished I knew what illusion Ethelinda was using to hide her fairyness because that would have made explanations so much easier. “This is my friend, Connie,” I said, trying to act as close to normal as possible in a situation that was far from normal. “And this is Ethel –” I cut myself off because Ethel was a perfectly reasonable, if a little old-fashioned, name, unlike Ethelinda. “She, uh, we …”

“I’m her fairy godmother,” Ethelinda declared proudly, putting an arm around my shoulders.

“Ha, ha! Yeah, that’s what we call her at work,” I said, frantically trying to recover and hoping Ethelinda wasn’t disguised as a bag lady. “She’s like a fairy godmother to all of us in the office. She gives us such great advice on dating, relationships, and stuff like that.”

Connie didn’t act like she’d noticed anything particularly odd, which made me relax a little. “It’s nice to meet you, and you must be doing a good job, from what I’ve heard. It seems like Katie has found a good man.”

“The best,” Ethelinda said, beaming proudly, as though she had anything at all to do with it. “Now, if only we can make sure things work out for those two.”

“Yeah, well, everyone goes through that,” I said with a forced smile, then I turned to Connie. “Would you excuse us for a second? We’ve got some work things to discuss.”

“Go right ahead. Do you want me to take the camera?”

I gratefully handed it over before dragging Ethelinda to a spot that would be out of earshot of both Connie and most of the tourists. “You can’t just go popping into my life like that,” I told her. “My friends don’t know about magic.”

“They don’t? So you’re mixing with outsiders?”

“I’m not magical,” I reminded her. “In fact, I’m the exact opposite of magical.”

“Which, in our world, actually qualifies you as a member of the magical community.”

“Really?” That was kind of cool. It was like I was an associate member of the magical fraternity. “But still, my friends were in my life before I found out about magic, and they’re going to stay a part of my life, preferably without ever being clued into the magical issues — or at least, not for a while.”

“That will be a difficult secret to keep, especially if you want to reap the full benefits of the magical life. But I’m sure that’s not why you summoned me. I suppose you’ve decided you need my help, after all. It must have been such a disappointment when he chose work over you.”

“No, not really. I understood completely. Actually, I wanted to talk to you about some problems a friend is having.”

She winked and tapped the side of her nose with a finger. “Ah, I see. Well, what problems might your ‘friend’ be having?”

“No, really, it is about a friend, not me. Her name is Gemma. She’s one of the ones down there skating, and the problem is that she’s dating a magical guy who was under an enchantment, but she doesn’t know it, and that makes it hard to give her advice that applies to her situation.”

She looked skeptical, but she tugged on a cord at her neck and pulled out a miniature golden telescope, which she used to peer down at the ice. “They’re the couple on the far end of the rink,” I told her. “She’s the tall one with the auburn ponytail next to the guy who should be starring in a Masterpiece Theater miniseries.”

“Ah, yes, I see them.” She tucked the telescope back into the layers of fabric around her bosom.

I took that as a signal to plunge forward. “Philip, Gemma’s boyfriend, had been turned into a frog. One of my work friends broke the spell, and then he met Gemma. I think he must have been under that enchantment for a long time, because he’s pretty old fashioned. That seems to be affecting how their relationship is progressing. I’d like to help them, but I can’t tell Gemma about magic.”

“Hmm, that is a pickle, isn’t it?” She waved her wand and that battered book appeared in her hand. She put her glasses on her nose and paged through it. “How long do you think the young man was enchanted?” she asked.

“I’m not sure. I’d guess at least fifty years. And I don’t know why he was enchanted. We haven’t had the chance to have a real conversation about it.”

She flipped to the front of the book, making little “hmmm” noises as she read. “Ah, this could be it. Philip, you said? It doesn’t look like he was enchanted by one of us as punishment for the way he treated some young lady — that’s what usually happened, you know, back in the days before they deemed that punishment ‘insensitive.’” She sniffed haughtily, giving me a good sense of what she thought about that. “But there is a mention of a young woman who needed help moving on after her beau, a young man named Philip, disappeared quite suddenly. That would be, oh, about a century ago.”

“That could be it. He’s never struck me as a jerk. And it would explain a lot if he was taken away from someone he loved when he was enchanted. He might not be too eager to get deeply involved with anyone else so soon.”

She flipped toward the end of the book and read some more. After a while, she said, “I don’t see mention of your friend in here yet, but destiny is always rewriting itself. It doesn’t mean they aren’t destined to be together, merely that they haven’t yet been brought to our attention.” She slapped the book closed decisively, as if to say that was that, then the book vanished.

“But can you offer a little advice? Surely you’ve had a lot of experience with this sort of thing and can give me a few ideas for helping them get through this. You’re the expert, after all.”

She actually blushed, two rosy patches appearing on her round cheeks as she fluttered her eyelashes and ducked her head. “Oh, I don’t know about being an expert. But I do have a lot of experience. I’d tell your friend that the good things are worth waiting for. Men like to be in pursuit, so perhaps she should sit back and give him the opportunity to pursue her in his own time.”

“That makes sense,” I said with a nod. “I’m not sure how open Gemma will be to that idea, though. When she wants something, she usually goes right after it. She’s not good at being patient. She makes things happen instead of waiting.”

“Then there’s always the chance he might not be the right one for her,” she said. “Things are complicated by the fact that he’s not in his right time. The person he was destined for has already lived a full life and died.”

“So this destiny thing isn’t an absolute? I would have thought that being destined would mean it would happen.”

“There are a lot of variables that come into play. The destiny is ideal, but we don’t always get the ideal, now, do we? Sometimes we have to make the best of the situation we’re in. It all works out in the end, though. Usually. It’s simply more difficult when we miss our destinies.”

That was a sobering thought. I glanced over to where Connie was leaning over the railing, taking pictures of the rink below. I figured I’d probably better wrap this up before she started asking questions. “Thank you for your advice. I’m sure it will be very helpful.”

“You’re sure you don’t need any advice for yourself?”

“Not right now, thanks. But I’ll be sure to let you know the moment I do.”

“I’m glad to help. After all, true love is my business.”