tree against golden sun
Image from Unsplash, taken by Simon Wilkes

Lady Freydis sighed. “It is the autumn equinox,” she said. “They used to call it Mabon.”

“Did they?” Fiona looked warily at Lady Freydis. She was looking wistfully into the distance as she polished the coffee machine.

“The day and night will be the same length,” Lady Freydis said softly. “An equal balance between light and dark. Then the nights will lengthen and the air grow chill. Frost will fall.”

“Are you feeling well?” Fiona asked.

“I agree.” Kadogan seemed to appear from nowhere. “The daylight hours dim and the night deepens.”

Mrs Tuesday came out of the back room with a tray of muffins. “What is going on?”

“You shouldn’t be carrying that with your bad back,” Fiona said. “You should be taking it easy.”

“There is no threat of grave danger to the White Hart,” Lady Freydis said. “Just the wheel of the year turning.” She sighed as she wiped the nozzles. “I always think of it as the sunset of the year. The long day of summer is over and now we sink into darkness to Yule, at the year’s midnight.”

“You’re bored,” Mrs Tuesday said, ignoring Fiona’s efforts to take the tray. “That’s what it is.”

Kadogan nodded. “It is strange that we have no great peril,” he said. “But the shop is flourishing.”

“Thank goodness for the mail order business,” Fiona said. “It’s really helped over the last year or so.”

“It seems so placid,” Lady Freydis said. “And it’s autumn.”

“It will soon be Christmas,” Fiona said. “We’re always busy then.” She looked at Mrs Tuesday, who shrugged. “And there is the new store opening,” Fiona added.

“Is that definitely happening?” Lady Freydis asked.

“Yes, we’ve discussed this,” Fiona said.

“I have some grave doubts,” Kadogan said. “It is very near the border with Leeds, and Lord Marius may wish to interfere.”

“I would not allow that,” Lady Freydis stated. She frowned. “I could visit occasionally, to ensure that the coffee was being prepared correctly.”

“And knowing that I will not be able to constantly monitor candles in two places concerns me,” Kadogan added.

Fiona sighed deeply. “We’ve all discussed this. The main shop stays here, but the depot for the mail order and space for secondhand furniture and gently used magical equipment go to the second shop. It’s about space. You know how expensive rent is in York.”

“I suppose so,” Lady Freydis said. “But you are making a mistake. It is autumn, the sunset of the year. The White Hart was opened near the spring equinox, in the dawn of the year. It is inauspicious.”

Mrs Tuesday slotted away the final cupcake. “Trust me, when you find out who will be in charge there, you won’t be bored.”