Platinum had a mind of its own. All metals did, but platinum was especially stubborn. Not so stubborn Willa couldn’t coax it into doing what she needed it to—that was one of her fae-born gifts after all, the power to imbue metal with certain charms and inclinations, the power to bend it to her will—but it took real concentration and focus.
One of the ways she managed the trickier metals was by singing to them. It didn’t always work, especially with a metal like platinum, but it was worth a try.
“Precious flower, rest your head, by the river where you grow. Moon and stars come swiftly in, and now off to sleep you go. In the morning you will rise, bright and new and beautiful. Bright and new and beautiful.”
It was a lullaby, and when she sang it, she sang it in the language she’d learned it in, faeish. She remembered only the one verse, but she could still picture her mother bending over her bed, her clear voice carrying the lilting tune.
The memory was bittersweet and best not dwelt on.
Her second gift was the power over stone. At least, that’s what it was in theory. She came from a long line of stone mason fae on her father’s side (the gift with metal was from her mother’s side), but the truth was she’d never really understood that part of herself. How was she supposed to exercise power over stones? Move pebbles out of her way when she was walking? It just didn’t seem like something that had much of a point.
Maybe if she’d done what her parents had wanted and paid more attention to her fae studies, or, you know, not run away, she’d know more about those things, but that wasn’t the path she’d stayed on. And her life had turned out all right anyway. She’d taught herself how to use her gifts just fine. More than fine, really.
But best of all, her life was hers. She belonged to no court and no king. She’d even shortened her name to further distance herself from it all.
And now she was a jeweler. With a shop of her own. If that didn’t prove she knew what she was doing, nothing would.
Still, the idea of having power over stone boggled her a bit. It seemed to imply that stone was something to be defeated. The precious stones that surrounded Willa in her shop and at her workbench were more like friends than enemies. She could sense the auras of the stones as if they were speaking to her, but that wasn’t exactly a power, was it? Didn’t garnet seem warm and happy to all fae? Didn’t most know that turquoise helped you heal? That peridot could ease stress?
Who couldn’t look at a stone or hold it in their hand and understand what it was good for? To Willa, that just seemed like a thing she and most fae could just do, not something that needed to be learned.
Despite the fact that she’d left home when she was a teenager, she knew a bit about her kind. They were a people closely connected to the earth. Being in sync with natural things seemed as ordinary to her as humans being able to look at a darkening sky and tell a storm was coming.
So, really, mastering her gifts was just common sense.
Her gift with metal? Now that was something useful. And probably the one thing that had kept her alive since running away from home. At first, it had just been jewelry she’d made out of found objects. Little things she sold to shops and on the street to scrounge enough money to live. Later, as her skills improved and her pockets deepened, she’d earned her way into an apprenticeship with a master jeweler. The old man had been human, but highly skilled.
In a year, she’d surpassed him. The memory filled her with pride and, for a moment, she thought about how nice it would be to let her parents know she’d made something of herself. But she doubted that’s what they’d think. In her imagination, her conversations with them always ended the same way. With them telling her she was a shirker of responsibility, a runaway, a disappointment.
Anger and hurt settled cold in Willa’s belly, partly because even though she was thirty-two, her parents still held enough power over her to get her riled up. She shook it off as best she could. She had more important things to concentrate on.
Like the ring she was building for a customer who wanted to find love again after losing his first wife to illness. She couldn’t imagine losing a spouse. The pain must be overwhelming. Although she’d have to have a spouse first to really understand. Someday she’d meet the right man. Probably.
At least she had her work. And her cat.
Finding love was a common request, and crafting the right piece didn’t usually vary too much. The center of the ring would be a garnet doublet, a polished, cabochon garnet laid on top of a slice of another stone, in this case, moonstone. An unusual combination for a more ordinary ring perhaps, but not for Willa’s work.
She checked the bezel she’d made, slipping it onto the ring mandrel and tapping it into place with a rawhide hammer. It was perfect.
Jasper, her sleek orange tabby and the only man who really understood her, rubbed against her ankles and wound around the legs of the stool she was perched on. “Hello, handsome.”
He chirped at her, stretching up to paw at her knee.
She glanced at him. “You can’t be hungry again.”
He meowed that he was.
“Well, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to wait until I’m done. I don’t need Mr. Burnside’s ring smelling like Mackerel Surprise.” Although the man was a troll. Literally. And that particular breed of supernatural might actually find that ripe scent appealing. She curled her lip.
Jasper sat on his haunches and glared at her.
She snorted and went back to work. The sliver of moonstone she’d set beneath the polished garnet cabochon would give the wine-colored stone a subtle shimmer of movement, but more important, the two stones combined would draw love energy to the wearer. Willa’s gift would weave another, more powerful layer of that same effect into the metal as she created the ring, then it would be finished with a final polish of focused magic.