Dimity had had four whiskey sours, too many shots to remember and four glasses of water. Her math skills told her that balanced out. Still, she’d let Ada drive them all in adjoined brooms and not even brooked an argument when Algernon had helped her down after her broom had tilted violently.
She yawned blearily, wishing she could sleep for at least ten hours. Unfortunately, since it was already 2 a.m. on a Saturday – very much still a work day – that would not be possible. Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted.
“It’s two-o-clock in the morning!” Hecate nearly shrieked, austere even in her thick dressing gown, hair half tamed behind her. She looked like a dragon, missing only smoke from her flared nostrils and clenched fists. A very pretty dragon, Dimity mused, playing with a ringlet of her own hair.
“Yep yep,” Dimity nodded, leaning against the door jam. “Until 3 that is.”
Dimity blinked. “It’s 2 till 3. Sheesh, HB. That’s basic maths.”
Hecate looked even more enraged. Dimity just wanted to lie down.
“Are you intoxicated, Dimity?” Hecate asked, eyeing her and softening slightly.
“Nope. I had water. Lots and lots of H2O. Ada said I was steady as jello. That’s pretty solid.” She swayed, demonstrating. “Someone built a house – hic! – on jello once. I can prove it.”
“I see.” Hecate reached out a hand to steady her.
Dimity gave her a soppy smile, allowing Hecate to lead her into the room and flopping onto the couch.
“Mohphjhmm.” She muttered into the pillow.
“What?” Hecate knelt, patting Dimity’s back. “Are you going to be sick?”
Dimity turned to lay on her side, smile still plastered in place. “I’m 40 now, HB. 40 years of Dimity Drill for the world! So much life eh.”
Hecate’s mouth twitched. “Yes, you have a lot of years left.”
“It just snuck up on me,” Dimity sighed, smile faltering.
Hecate patted her shoulder awkwardly before standing again. “Birthdays do that sometimes.”
Dimity sighed again, head too heavy to lift. “You’re older, yeah?” she asked. Hecate nodded. “Do you – hic! - feel wiser? Hic! Better about life?” She stared, doe-eyed, up at the potions mistress, then continued without waiting for an answer. “Course you do. Hic! You’re bloody amazing. You’re always so conf - hic! - confident and sweet, feet - little, little feet.” She laughed, her thoughts scattering nonsensically as Hecate raised one well-groomed eyebrow.
“I’ll choose to ignore that, Miss Drill,” she stated, smiling despite shaking her head. “Come on. Let’s get you to bed.”
“Okay.” Dimity let Hecate drag her up and then used the taller woman as a witch-crutch. “But you can’t tell HB, Hecate. Hecate can’t know.”
Hecate grimaced and transferred them into the bedroom. “Can’t know what, dear?”
“That she’s wonderful. You won’t tell her; she’ll be jealous you’re helping me to – hic! - bed.”
Hecate stifled a laugh, snapping Dimity’s wrinkled party robes into the laundry bin and replacing them with her green sleep shirt and shorts. “I’ll try to keep it to myself.”
“She didn’t come to my party you know.” Dimity sighed, letting gravity pull her into the waiting bed.
Hecate paused amid rearranging the covers. “There were sick students, love. You knew that. Well you did know that before your party. Now I’d imagine you don’t remember much.”
She finally got the woman under one cover and stuck a pillow under her head.
“I would have come. But you had more fun without me anyway. Everyone always does.” She dropped a soft kiss to the snoring woman’s forehead and then gathered up her pillow for the couch. She always took the couch when Dimity was sick or drunk. Just in case something happened.
Everything was too bright, too loud and scratchy for Dimity the next morning. Her last memory was of singing the mole song from Thumbelina and Tom Thumb with Gwen, downing a shot each time they sung about tiny feet. It had not been a good drinking game.
She took the potion the blurry hand offered and downed it without a second’s hesitation. Instantly the night was clear, and she remembered everything. Her head felt a lot better, but her stomach seized and clenched when she thought of Hecate.
She nodded, pushing hair back. It had escaped her usual style and now puffed out, comfy but wild. Hecate’s hair wasn’t much better; she had taken it down completely and it hung in limp ringlets down the front of her lavender nightgown. Dimity had given that nightgown to her for Christmas as a joke the year before. A black cat was embroidered around the hem, which sat just above the woman’s pale and, Dimity thought privately, rather cute knees.
Dimity hissed as Hecate’s cat Morgana leapt onto the bed and bumped her head against her chin.
“Morning to you too,” she groaned out, mouth cottony. She needed to brush her teeth horribly. The cat meowed a centimeter from her nose.
“Leave her be,” Hecate chuckled, gathering up the cheerful feline. The sleek car purred, almost winking at Dimity, which sent a tremble of memories down her spine. The Star of the Sky groaned again.
“I hate being 40,” she grumbled, head hitting the pillow once more.
“You hated being 39, too,” Hecate remarked dryly.
Dimity tossed the empty potion vial at her, missing dramatically. Morgana still hissed and leapt away, prowling back to her bed, where Scout, Dimity’s cat, stretched and preened.
“Did I tell you not to tell you about you?”
Hecate rolled her eyes.
“I believe so. Miss I’m-steady-as-jello”.
“Crap. I was hoping it was a dream.”
Dimity sat up, pushing her hair back again. “I’m- I’m sorry, Hecate. I didn’t mean to get plastered and I really didn’t want to have to baby me to bed.” Her eyes drifted to the empty pillow space beside her. “Or make you sleep on the couch in your own room.”
She refused to look up and find extreme disappointment in tired eyes. It shamed her to think that Hecate hadn’t come to the party due to three students being ill. Worry suddenly gripped her and her eyes shot up; as she’d guessed, Hecate did look exhausted. Deep dark shadows were etched under her eyes and her pale face looked thin. But her eyes... Dimity felt her heart skip. The dark-haired woman’s eyes sparkled despite her obvious exhaustion.
“I’m going to tell HB.” Hecate joked. She climbed into the bed and pulled part of the covers over herself. “Now that you’re sober. Please let me sleep.”
Dimity resisted the urge to smother her with her pillow. “You’re the bats.” She whispered instead, draping her arms around the thin woman. They fit together like puzzle pieces. “I am sorry.”
Hecate smiled. “You were adorable.”
“You were.” She teased, eyes still closed. “Bemoaning my absence and doing horrible maths.”
Dimity chuckled. “That does sound like me. And I did miss you. Drank for both of us.”
“Oh, so that’s what you did.”
Dimity nuzzled into the fragrant dark curls spilling on her and grinned. “Yeah. I do a lot for you.”
Dimity let the other woman fall asleep, loosely keeping her spooned against her. She wanted to say something more about what she’d heard Hecate say about having more fun without her, but it wasn’t the right time. After they were fully awake and not still nursing a headache, she’d smother Hecate with enough annoying love to reassure her that she was in fact wanted at every function. But for now, she was the happiest 40-year-old witch alive.