Sugar

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I’m making tea when they arrive. They knock on my door, although anywhere else they would have kicked it in. “It’s a routine search,” they tell me. “Only a formality.”

I let them in. What else am I supposed to do? Even I can’t make them go away, although their master thinks so highly of my talents, my crystal ball, my visions of the future. They tramp through my house in their big boots, search every floor, every room, every closet. Their uniforms are black. Black, but for the red lining their coats and cuffs. Like blood on their hands, on their chests.

I smile at them when they come into the kitchen. “I was making tea. Would you like some?”

They’re embarrassed. No one comes here. They’re usually not allowed, and I know they don’t want to be caught here, even if they were ordered to come. I’m a witch, a diviner, and much as they like my talents, they’re still afraid of me. Of the men who come to consult me.

I could never be a traitor.

They sit down at my table, and I pour hot water into the teapot. My hands don’t shake. The older of the two, a man with black tattoos on his throat and a death’s head on his cap, is sitting right above my cellar, although I doubt he knows it. His black boots rest on the notch in the floor where the handle is.

The people below don’t make a sound. They might have been dead already, for all the noise they’re making. I bless them under my breath. Even the Black Ghost’s little witch would be executed for what they’re carrying in their pockets.

But they won’t be found. We’ve done this before, so many times, and our luck has never failed us. I pour two cups, smile at the men. “Sugar?”

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