She moves 'spell can create non-extinct species' up her priority list. Someday, when it's safe, there can be more sphinxes.
She tells the owner of the Avalon magic shop that she's testing some experimental new healing spells and to let her know if anyone is interested. She pretends to be violently protective of "her spell" and insists on secrecy in spell casting, and only accepts those whom medicine could not otherwise help. 'Cancer curing spell' is less suspicious than 'spell nearly exactly duplicating sphinx magic' anyway. And she lets Isabella heal them, carefully, one at a time.
Vivian and Gianna continue to see each other. Gianna continues to be sweet and funny and fiercely, protectively loyal and just generally adorable, and Vivian is crazy about her. Work starts 'coincidentally' sending Gianna to San Francisco more often. When Isabella notices how much time Vivian and Gianna spend together, Vivian uses her questions as an opportunity to explain a few things. Isabella's reaction turns out to be, "Oh. Okay. I like her all right," before returning to her latest magical project, which makes Vivian giggle. How very like her daughter.
Life proceeds reasonably comfortably for the new few years. Isabella makes acceptable progress in school and astonishing progress in magic, or rather, she does whenever she can be lured away from 'casting healing spells' with Vivian. Vivian herself blows up a few beetles but eventually manages to create non-extinct species. Vivian claims a newfound interest in traveling to her friends, and periodically bundles Isabella onto a plane to go 'be a tourist' somewhere. Panda bears and Florida panthers start mysteriously, coincidentally increasing in numbers.
Gianna is still wonderful but she refuses to come out to Ilario, which Vivian... is upset about, but deals with. Reluctantly. It's not her place to say how and when Gianna comes out, if she does at all, but she hates feeling like a secret. The long distance becomes more of a sticking point. Vivian can't move to Italy or Gianna's friends would Find Out; Gianna won't move away from her brother. When Isabella is eleven, Vivian and Gianna reluctantly admit it's time to break up. It's about as amicable as they can manage under the circumstances, but Vivian still spends a couple of weeks sadly eating chocolate. Isabella is quietly soothing and spends a lot of time hugging her, which Vivian appreciates. Sphinxette snuggles are the best snuggles.
She throws herself into her work. She successfully creates a baby pegasus for a pegasus couple struggling with infertility, and suddenly finds herself with a second source of income. Critter couples hoping to adopt have very few options if they want a child of their own species- or they did, until Vivian. She charges more than the adoption centers, to encourage parents to take home existing children, but there's occasionally someone willing to pay. She contributes the bulk of her earnings to Isabella's college fund and uses the rest to reduce the amount of time she spends making charms. More time for Isabella, more time for magic research, more time trying to locate dragons. (She has been wildly unsuccessful at this task so far and she finds herself regularly heaping swearwords on runecasting's inefficiency at information gathering. This does not help.)
She dates a few more women, but nothing nearly as long as her relationship with Gianna. When Isabella is fourteen, she explains to her mother in her serious Isabella fashion that she thinks she likes women. But also men. Vivian tells her that being bisexual is totally okay, she will always love Isabella very much, and yes, it's time for the sex talk now.
More time passes. Vivian and Isabella continue to travel, mostly to China. They speak the language, they can visit Vivian's relatives in Wuxi, and people love Isabella. They ask her for pictures, they want to pet her hair, they tell her how beautiful and pale she is, they exclaim excitedly over her wonderful Chinese. Isabella's not wild about travel in general, but she likes China, and Vivian just laughs and takes advantage of it. The Chengdu research base is confounded but delighted.
Isabella is seventeen when Vivian overhears some interesting gossip in the Avalon. Someone turned up a wyvern in Toronto of all places, isn't that odd? A brand new one too, just found her medallion by accident. Who knew there were wyverns in Canada anyway?
Vivian didn't, that's for sure. Her friend Helen is roped into babysitting Isabella, and Vivian catches the next flight to Toronto.
Time to meet this wyvern.
"Nobody here had the time and inclination. I'll be elsewhere come summer vacation and may try again there, but I'm making good progress. Not that it isn't a rude awakening to learn that I've only narrowly escaped death by swallowed incantation."
...she wants to learn more about this 'wyvern' girl who swallows spells without concern. And, if she continues to be (defensive but) overall generally reasonable, maybe introduce her carefully to Isabella. Later. Eventually.
"I know I'm not particularly local, but I do travel. If someone will vouch for me, are you still interested in lessons?" Because this girl's books are clearly failing her. Swallowing spells, what next? "Assuming I haven't offended you beyond repair, anyway."
"I respond well to glue. And, maybe. What's your best guess about whether my ability to swallow spells will suddenly fail me?"
Glue? Oh, repair. "Honestly? My best guess is that if you've managed it this long," and are in fact a dragon, "it's not liable to disappear. The etiquette around casting interruptions would mostly only be useful to you when interacting with other runecasters."
"Noted. I've been working out of Connie White's Rune Dictionary and Spellcraft For Theorists and The Wizard Book, mostly. Opinions?"
Vivian is not the world's most tactful creature, and she's beyond terrible at fishing for information, but runecasting she can do! Runecasting she is very, very good at.
May has been diligently taking notes this entire time. "Does Connie White's Western bias make her book worse as reference material? I'm not trying to calibrate my cultural relativism with my spellbooks."
"If you look up a rune in there and you find it, you're fine. But I picked up a dictionary the last time I was in Shanghai and there's definitely some runes missing. Incomplete, but not inaccurate that I've seen."
"Does your dictionary from Shanghai come in English? My epicanthal folds are, A, Japanese, B, just for decoration."
"I haven't looked, since I'm fluent, but I can give you the author's name and the title." She considers. "If you have a piece of paper I can write it down; Chinese names don't always translate well."
May has a notebook in her lap. She opens it to a blank page and hands it over, with the pencil.
Then she adds her name and email address at the bottom for good measure before handing it back. Just in case.
"You're welcome." She looks down at the necklace May is holding. "Would you like any help with- whatever you were casting? To make up for my interruption."
"I think I have it worked out, but I thought so last time I tried it, too." May flips pages and shows her a diagram. "Supposed to turn me invisible. I have a working per-occasion version out of a book but I want a necklace for it." There is an English incantation at the bottom and two drafts of a French translation.
She doesn't want to annoy the girl further, though. How to ask? Maybe not just yet. It's horribly unlikely this notebook belongs to Isabella, Vivian's never seen the book in her life and Isabella would have cried bloody murder if one went missing. But she could watch her write, maybe.
"...It looks like it should work, but this rune-" she points, "isn't necessarily your best bet for object bindings. Try this one." She describes it. She's not lying, the rune she suggested is in fact better, but she really just wants to see how May writes it.
Her runes, the arithmetic she does in the margin, and her rewritten incantation are all in Isabella's writing.
"I know that handwriting," Vivia blurts without thinking. "That's my daughter's handwriting, how did you do that?"
"...This is my handwriting," says May. "Maybe we had the same penmanship workbook or something?"
"And the same vocal coach, apparently. You sound like her, too. It's bizarre, you look nothing like her."
Raising an eyebrow.
Vivian chokes. "The eyebrow thing too. And if you're religious about notebooks I officially eliminate coincidence."
"I... like to... write... things... down? Look, what do you think is going on?"
"I have no idea! I've never met a Canadian Japanese version of my daughter before!"
"Look, I will grant that if I sound and write and... raise my eyebrow... like your daughter this would be unusual but aren't you jumping to conclusions?"