Jax tries to teach Lot about magic.

Hastings – 1844

‘It would be much easier if you put the baby down,’ Jax said, from where she was sitting cross-legged opposite me.

‘No.’ Edward shook his head. ‘Got make sure Muma not poor-poor.’ He blew a raspberry on my cheek. ‘Cuddles make better.’

Jax scowled. I don’t think she had anything against children but she wasn’t used to having them constantly there and it was wearing on her. I didn’t blame her, they could wear out Bran and Josef who had an excess of energy.

‘You can’t think calming thoughts with a baby climbing on you,’ Jax whispered, as if Edward wouldn’t hear.

‘Muma don’t never get angry,’ Edward said, trying to stand on my legs. ‘Not evened when I broked… the… whatisit.’

Jax blinked.

I grinned.

‘Choo! Choo!’ Mary came back into the sitting room riding a wooden train she had to push with her feet and wearing a train driver cap. Behind her was another seat where the coal should be and in the truck behind that was her wooden sword, Patches, nellyphant, and a biscuit tin. ‘I’m on an adventure, want to come?’

‘Looking after Muma,’ Edward said.

‘You can wear my hat.’ Mary held out the cap.

Edward rubbed his chin and frowned. ‘Yes.’ He climbed off my lap and added Rawr to the truck.

Mary put the hat on his head, it was too big and fell over his eye. He pushed it up and climbed onto his seat behind her and off they went choo-chooing around the couch and out the door.

‘Pappy and Daddy are hiding, we got to find them,’ Mary said loudly when they were out the door. Which probably meant they were sitting in the library playing chess and waiting for the children to turn up.

‘Are they like that all the time?’ Jax asked.

‘No,’ I said. ‘Sometimes they run around screaming for no apparent reason. Being loud makes everything more fun.’

Jax’s expression was very similar to the one I’d often worn when Bran and I first had children, one that said, ‘that makes absolutely no sense’. ‘You know you have a reputation for being incredibly aggressive, right?’

I shrugged. ‘I am aggressive.’

She frowned as if it was impossible for one person to be both at once, despite her mother being one of the most feared Fae alive and her mum who she loved. Perhaps it was more difficult to reconcile with parents, I couldn’t say having never had any.

‘What did you do in your head?’ she asked suddenly.

‘That’s a personal question.’

‘I mean, how did you burn off all that energy?’ she asked without a hint of embarrassment. It reminded me of Freyja, her mother.

‘It was busy in there.’

She pursed her lips as if I was an unruly pupil, I’m sure Josef would say I had been when he tried to teach me mediation. ‘I’m not sure you’re a changeling.’

‘The formerly human descendant of Fae, seems accurate to me.’

She bent forward and whispered, ‘I’m a Morag and whatever was happening to you my magic couldn’t touch it.’

I decided not to point out Bran and Josef could hear anyway, it could make people very self-conscious. ‘Saying “happening” somehow sounds more positive than my “regulator” broke. That makes me sound like a machine. Machines are easy to fix, people less so.’ I smiled. ‘How are you planning to fix me?’

She sighed with a weight that made me wonder how old she actually was. She looked to be in her twenties but you could never be sure with an immortal. She fished a small silver pendant on a chain out of her pocket, similar to the illusion I used to wear before it had all the magic sucked out of it and all but disintegrated. ‘This has a ward on that should stop you absorbing too much magic and keep you grounded in this world if you enter that house again. It’ll give you time to even out but really we need to teach you to do it without an aide.’

I nodded. Sit, listen, learn, if Edward and Mary could do it, I could.

‘I think you were casting a spell,’ Jax said, rolling the pendant between her fingers.

‘I can’t cast spells.’

She passed the pendant to me. ‘The ability to consciously cast and the ability to cast are two different things.’

‘Sounds like a fun childhood.’ I put the pendant round my neck and the itch of magic settled over me. I shifted my shoulders uncomfortably.

‘Maybe your Fae ancestor isn’t as far as my mum assumed.’ She tapped the onyx stone in the large, elegantly twisted, silver ring on her middle finger. ‘But they couldn’t be that close or you wouldn’t have turned.’

‘Fascinating though my potential lineage is there’s a dangerous house that needs taking care of.’

‘Oh right, sorry.’ She cleared her throat. ‘I always love a puzzle and there’s always plenty in the supernatural world.’

‘How about we puzzle out a house then?’

‘I’m not falling for that one. We need you stable before you go back there.’

‘Won’t your pendant do that?’

‘Your brain almost imploded. Let’s not risk it.’

I sighed. I hated the slow road.

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Published by Jesse

I'm a writer and academic specialising in fantasy fiction and creative writing theory. I'm allergic to pretentiously talking about fiction and aim to be unashamedly ‘commercial’. Surely all fiction is commercial anyway, or what’s the point in publishing it?

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