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Mint perched on her swing that Lavenda had made using two slender roots extending through the dirt ceiling. She was trying to look calm and collected but the trembling of her translucent green wings betrayed her to the stern-faced elf sitting opposite her.
“When did you say that you expected Lavender home?” said the elf. The identification he’d shown had announced him to be an agent for the Department of Elf Control: West Kent Lower Levels. Mint could read nothing in his face as his sunglasses hid his eyes. She wondered just how much he could see through them in the root-lined hollow she shared with her life partner. On the other hand, perhaps they were simply designed to induce quivering terror. In which case – they worked.
“Umm… She prefers to be called Lavenda, not Lavender.” The subtle shift in inflection was barely discernible.
“So I gathered from her…file,” he patted the weighty tome on the root next to him, “which also contains a remarkable list of misdemeanours, both local and from London Lower.”
Mint knew that Lavenda had been legally relocated to the country after redirecting a human sewage pipe through the halls of the Department of Elven Safety and had been shocked by other stories she had heard from Lavenda and a few shady city fairies that stayed over from time to time.
It seemed to Mint that, despite everyone’s best efforts, Lavenda was beyond rehabilitation. Granted, her behaviour had notched down from ‘ASBO’ to ‘Mild Shenanigan’ but she would always have a feral side which Mint hoped would never be subdued. Lavenda was a live-wire; exhilarating to be with, exciting to live with. She had overturned Mint’s quiet rural life, and Mint loved it. Mint loved her.
She’d joined Lavenda on tagging raids above ground: painting petals with small intricate patterns in purple and green, and hiding to watch bespectacled humans with cameras, notebooks and funny floppy hats as they got excited over their discovery of a new sub-genus of flora. Together they’d poodle cut an entire flock of sheep. Does this shaven-headed elf have a file on me? Her wings shuddered anew. An eyebrow arched into view above the elf’s sunglasses. Mint had an irrational moment of panic that those shuttered eyes could read every thought in her head.
A chirruping noise cut into the heavy atmosphere. The elf reached into an inner pocket of his trenchcoat, slowly, deliberately, eyes never leaving her face, and pulled out a pager. Finally he looked down at his message.
“Oh fuc…crying in a bucket.” His iron composure disintegrated; Mint was relieved. This fury was less stifling than the silence had been. “Thank you for your time, Miss Mint. I’ll see myself out, but please let your friend know that I will be back.” The door slammed and Mint started as a section of shadow against the back wall morphed into a familiar figure.
Lavenda’s eyes sparkled between strands of long purple-streaked black fringe. “Blimey, I thought that berk’d never leave.”
Mint’s legs felt wobbly. She crumpled to a sobbing heap of green.
“Hey, come on sunshine, surely you’re not going to let that po-faced wazzock get to you?” Mint rested her head on the shoulder of the soft black squirrel-leather jacket as Lavenda held her tightly. Her fears ebbed away, she always felt so safe with Lavenda.
There was a loud knock. Mint leapt to her feet, eyes wide. “But he just left…” Her lip trembled.  She turned again toward Lavenda for guidance but her partner was gone. If she squinted she could just make out a hint of purple in the shadows. How did she do that?

Bushman