This was one of my favorite chapters to write because I got to imagine visiting Shakespeare's Globe Theater in 1600, a few months after it was first built. Luca is pulling out all the stops to get Cass's attention—using time travel to take her somewhere he thinks she will love. As a Light Mage, he has the ability to travel within the earthbound dimension to anywhere he knows by name and sight. He's been a guardian for nearly two thousand earthbound years, which means he knows a lot of places!
You can catch up on earlier chapters by using the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕
(Update: October 2019. Spell Tracker is now available in full via the New series label. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page to start 📙)
theater rose up around us, three stories high, its twenty even sides giving the
impression that it was circular. Like a globe. It was open to the London sky,
and the smell of new wood combined with early summer rain was fresh after the
stale air of the geography classroom.
my focus while our surroundings were still flickering, until I reached the
exact location and time I was searching for. I’d deliberately chosen a
rehearsal day. We settled in the top row of seating, directly facing the stage.
I gently tugged at Cass’s hand until we were both sitting down on the narrow
bench behind us. The shadows were enough to keep us hidden as long as we kept
actors on the stage were conferring, speaking in voices too low for us to hear
them. Cass looked left and right, up and down, with quick glances, her hand
holding tightly onto mine.
can’t be what I think it is,” she said.
her hand. “Yes it can. This time it’s exactly what you’re thinking.”
“We are not
in the Globe Theater. That’s impossible!”
murmuring of voices from below came to an abrupt halt. I shifted position to
conceal her from view. “Vestis aequalis,” I
whispered, and our clothes transformed into something more appropriate for the
early seventeenth century.
dressed her as a man. Not that she wouldn’t have made a beautiful Elizabethan
lady, but the shock of lead-and-vinegar makeup and no underwear might have been
a little much.
asked, giving her a reassuring smile.
her free hand and ran it inside the high collar with its starched white ruff.
The black and white set off her skin perfectly. She looks stunning. Oh, stop
it, Luca. Focus.
both wearing jackets made from dark, richly embroidered cloth, with
close-fitting breeches and stockings. Our cloaks were pinned over one shoulder,
as was the fashion.
sir! No person hath the right to claim an audience here. Performances begin
next week, at which time you may pay your pennies like everyone else.”
up and made a bow over the low rail. “Apologies, gentlemen all. We meant no
offense. My father is one of your investors. Me credite.”
It was doubtful my “Believe me” spell would
work on the entire company of players, which was why I had changed our clothes
and focused only on the man speaking to me. I knew he was in charge of this
particular production. When I’d been here before, my assignment had been one of
the secondary actors.
I could have hidden backstage. We could have visited the theater when it was
empty, but I wanted her to see a scene from Much Ado About Nothing for
real. I couldn’t take the risk of attending a performance—the Globe had space
for three thousand spectators and it was usually full. My chances of being
noticed by another guardian would be too high. A rehearsal was the next best
He’d promised to keep them away from the school,
and I trusted him, simply because he had as much to lose as I did. Although our
motivations for doing this were very different, we were both breaking the
stage below us, the man’s expression relaxed. “Ah, I see. Young sir, forgive
me. You may remain.”
the actors behind him muttered a complaint. The man frowned. “Yes. Yes, I understand
your argument.” He looked at me again. “Your complexion, and that of your
companion… you’ll forgive me for saying… you are both rather Spanish in
appearance. One cannot be too careful in these troubled times.”
my face expressionless by sheer force of will. The earthbound are so
obsessed by skin color. As if physical appearance is what defines an enemy.
recently arrived from the Netherlands and spent much time on deck during our
voyage. That’s all.”
down again to indicate that as far as I was concerned, the conversation was
over. I was relieved to see those on stage take the hint and return to their
this…? Is this…? When is this?” Cass whispered so quietly I could barely hear
the date I said. June 18, 1600.”
they’re going to rehearse a scene. It’s Much Ado About Nothing, in case
you hadn’t guessed. That’s what they’ll be performing next week. I was here on
opening night, too. It was awesome.”
looked at me without speaking. My eyes, my mouth, my scar, my hair, my neck, my
chest. She looked at it all. I didn’t know what to do with my expression,
feeling self-conscious in the face of her scrutiny.
are you doing here?” she asked.
brought you here to see the play. I thought you might like—”
she said, interrupting. “What are you doing here? With me?”
know how to answer. “I came to help you,” I said eventually.
considered this. I wished so much that I knew what she was thinking. I could
force her to tell me with a spell, but only if I was prepared to sacrifice the
new and fragile trust between us. I’m not.
being forced to do this?” she asked.
gave the stage a nervous glance and repeated it more quietly. “No. Definitely
and lowered her shoulders. “I can’t rationalize this. There’s just no way to
explain it. None. It’s not a blackout, though. I suppose that’s a good thing.
What should I do?”
would you say if I did?”
“I would say you should watch the rehearsal.
They’re pretty good.”
laughed and held up her hand to muffle the sound. “OK. I’ll watch the
rehearsal. How does the saying go? When in Rome… what is it? What did I say?”
My heart pounded. Some reactions I couldn’t act my way out of. When in Rome,
do as the Romans do… and fight in the Colosseum. I caught a movement out of
the corner of my eye and nudged her arm. Good timing, Bill. “Look. Down
there. It’s Shakespeare.”
gasped. “The Shakespeare? Do you mean it?”
This is his play, and he’s part owner of the Globe, too.”
God. Shakespeare.” She leaned forward. “He’s shorter than I expected. How old
would he be now?”
doesn’t look very happy.”
he recently started working on Hamlet, so I guess that’s his tragedy face.”
grinned. “No. He always looked like that. He invested his life savings into
this theater. He’s probably worried about whether he can still afford to go to
smacked me on the arm. “Not funny. He was a genius.”
loved Shakespeare’s sonnets. My dad used to quote them to her.”
expression became sad and I waited, hardly daring to breathe in case I
distracted her from the memory.
thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings, that then I scorn to change my
state with kings,” she recited. “When I was little, I used to wish
on that one. I wished that the handsome prince would give up his kingdom in
exchange for a life with me so that I wouldn’t have to become a princess.”
me a faint smile. “I hated the idea of being a princess, but I didn’t see why I
couldn’t still have the prince.”
was the minutest softening in the darkness she carried. Just a whisper, but it
was there. Hope rose in me so fast it was almost painful. It had been worth the
risk of bringing her here, just for that moment.
scene began and she turned to watch. It was at the end of the second act, when
Benedick’s and Beatrice’s friends have hatched a plot to convince the
squabbling pair that each of them is secretly loved by the other.
the first to overhear the news of Beatrice’s hidden love for him, resolves to
return her affection. Beatrice, sent to give Benedick a message, and unaware of
his change of heart, responds to his friendly overtures with disbelief.
my will, I am sent to bid you come in to dinner,” said the boy playing
Beatrice, I thank you for your pains,” replied Benedick, attempting to deliver
a winning smile.
looked at him as if he had two heads, saying that she hadn’t taken any pains. “If
it had been painful, I would not have come,” she added, with customary scorn.
take pleasure, then, in the message?” persisted Benedick, all but batting his
just so much as you may take upon a knife’s point,” came Beatrice’s
withering reply. She left the stage soon after, leaving Benedick to analyze her
words, telling himself there must be a “double meaning” in what she’d said. He
reaffirmed his intention to love her before the scene ended.
I gave them a round of applause, and the two actors bowed. I decided we should
probably quit while we were ahead, and with a quick, “Rescindo,” we were
back in the classroom in our jeans and shirts.
a lot of questions,” said Cass. “It must be really late, though.”
returned to the exact moment we left.”
none of it even happened?”
want,” I said carefully. The expression on her face was hard to read. Was she
annoyed because she’d told me all those things? Or was that frown caused by the
questions she’d just mentioned?
happen,” she said, frowning harder. “You’re not going to make me forget this. I
don’t believe you’d be so cruel.”
not what I meant. I was talking about not telling anyone the stuff you said
about your…” My voice trailed off in the face of the glare she gave me. “That’s
a great look for Beatrice,” I said, with a weak attempt at a smile.
rolled her eyes. “Yes, but how the hell am I ever going to act the part where I
fall in love with you?” Her eyes widened. “No, not you… I mean, the part where
Beatrice falls in love with Benedick. Not you. Clearly.”
I held a
hand over my chest. “You’re breaking my heart, fair Beatrice. Surely falling in
love with me is the easy bit?”
modest. And I’m not fair,” she muttered.
as in beautiful,” I said. “Which you are.”
so. For a girl,” I added, then made a face. “No, for a person. I mean… a human
being. Or something. Gods.” I considered using a spell to shut myself
return the favor, but I’m not sure I can be as eloquent as you,” she said,
thanks,” I said, hanging my head. “I do my best.”
I should go,” she said unexpectedly. “I need to get a few things straight in my
head, and I can’t do that when I’m with you.”
don’t… don’t go back to hating me,” I said. Nicely put, Luca. You’re telling
her how to think, now? You’re on a roll.
I said. “Again.”
told me you hate everyone.”
God’s sake,” said Cass, with a sigh of irritation. “I was generalizing. And you
were preaching to me at the time, if I remember correctly.”
paused. “Did all that shit about loving and hating have something to do with this
help you’re supposed to be giving me?” she asked.
does maybe mean? Did it, or didn’t it?” she asked.
answered in an embarrassed rush of words. “Well, it kind of did, but I realized
as soon as I said it that it wasn’t helping, so I’m hoping we can pretend I
didn’t actually say it.”
know what to make of you,” she said.
know what to make of you, either.”
her head on one side. “Let me get this straight. You want to help me. You
travel in time. You may or may not be some kind of wizard, and I feel like
we’ve somehow met before. True or false?”
and Avi haven’t met before,” I said.
her eyebrows. “You’re avoiding the question.”
the only answer I can give you.”
right. I’ll think of some better questions. I have to go now. I’ll message
even giving me a backward glance, she unlocked the door and walked through it.
I had to admire her self-possession. I was ready to throw a few more chairs to
release the tension. I could hardly believe what had just happened. It was going
to be a long weekend while I waited to find out what would happen next.
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