It was really just a feeling, a quaint curiosity. Carl had just sold some airtime for a genealogy website, and something about it had sparked his interest. Being a wizard, he wasn’t one to ignore hunches for very long, and he had some free time – the cats had Grand Central under control, and Tom was in that stage of writing where “I’ll come to dinner in a minute” meant “you’re going to make me lose my train of thought and then I will grump at you for the rest of the night”. So Carl decided that some research might not be remiss.
He started with most of the research that had already been done on wizard genealogy – including the old debates on whether ability to practice the Art was a question of nature rather than nurture. It was a question that still hadn’t been answered. Though no “wizardry gene” had ever been found, it was unclear if wizardry fundamentally changed a family enough that it would be nature produce more wizards than normal, along with all of the other oddities that often accompanied wizardry into a household.
Carl sighed, as his manual seemed to grow thicker and heavier in his hands as he thought about it. Those debates had been going on for centuries, and there were stacks of evidence on either side. Besides, his stomach was growling.
He looked up from his book. “Hey, Tom,” he called, “do you just want me to order a pizza, so we don’t have to cook tonight?”
“Yeah, sure,” was Tom’s muffled reply from his study. Carl smiled to himself, as he imagined Tom typing in a flurry of keys, pausing, and then typing furiously again.
Carl stood and stretched, the cramped muscles of his back still aching vaguely. It occurred to him that he had been sitting at the kitchen table since he had returned from work, hunched over his manual. That could not be healthy for the spinal column.
Contemplating the merits of getting a chiropractor, or at least looking up some chiropractic wizardry, Carl picked up the phone and dialed the local pizzeria. They had just implemented a new delivery service, which was the only reason Carl would ever order pizza in at all. Being a true New Yorker, he had some very specific notions about pizza. (Tom, by contrast, didn’t care. Carl felt that something must be fundamentally wrong in Tom’s philosophy, and was determined to teach him the finer points of being a discerning pizza connoisseur – an argument that usually resulted in cheese flicked at him, and subsequently becoming supper for Annie and Monty.)
He ordered quickly, and then fished the necessary cash from his wallet so that it would be ready when the delivery came. Then he sat back down at the kitchen table, looked at his manual, and began to read again.
‘Because fundamental structure for all beings is not uniform (though it is occasionally duplicated, or close enough to be without meaningful difference), it seems logical that, if we want to argue that wizardry is present in our fundamental structure we must first look at the reproductive and rearing habits of all species simultaneously. Considering the nearly incomprehensible scale of the universe and the equally incomprehensible number of species that call this universe home (not to even mention the uncountable number of layered, parallel, sheafed, split and tangent universes), this is a nearly impossible undertaking, and so inquiries into this subject might be best directed towards the few species that they know best.’
Carl looked up from his manual and rubbed his temple, frowning a bit at the soft, graceful characters of the Speech. Mostly, he was frowning at the list of terms that simply meant “universes other than the one you are currently living in right now”. The author’s choice to list the possibilities, instead of use the catch-all term in the Speech, weighed on him.
He sighed and stretched again. Maybe he was tackling more than he could handle – the huge number of pages that his manual was presenting him seemed indicative of that. Maybe he needed to break it down a little bit, start with a species that he knew fairly well.
Humans, of course, were the obvious choice. Neither he nor Tom had any wizard background – at least not that he knew of – but he knew plenty of wizards who did. Earth had to have plenty more.
“Can you get me a list of wizard families on Earth, with four or more wizards?” he asked his manual in the Speech. He skimmed over the pages with his fingers, feeling how soft they were, marking the manual as a book that was worn and well-loved. When he felt a good stopping place, he opened the book and flipped the pages. A list – grouped by family – greeted his eyes.
The book still looked just as heavy. Carl flipped a few pages, to find himself still in the very beginning of the Speech’s syllabary. He flipped back to the table of contents, which had updated themselves to include the list that he had asked for.
It was over ninety pages.
Carl raised his eyebrows. No wonder this was such a complicated debate, he thought, if so much data had to be taken into account.
Start small, he reminded himself. And then he said to his manual, “Can you refine that to families located in the eastern United States, with at least six generations of wizards?”
A small regional index floated beneath the chapter heading for the genealogy – much better, only six pages - and Carl flipped to the indicated page. He scanned the names, recognizing some, but not all of them.
And then one name caught his eye. Callahan.
Ever since the day Annie had dragged the eldest Callahan girl through his and Carl’s hedge, the two Seniors had had a good relationship with the Callahan girls. The wizardry, he knew, was passed down through their father – though it had somehow skipped Harry. “Can you show me a list of practicing wizards in the Callahan family?” Carl asked the manual.
Several blocks of text appeared beneath the listing, giving him names, ages, power levels and assignment statuses for Annie, Dairine and Juanita Callahan, as well as two statuses of deceased wizards. Well, that couldn’t be right. He’d asked for six. Was the manual glitching somehow?
Carl looked down at the book and said, “Can you also show me the non-practicing wizards in the Callahan family?”
Another block of text appeared – right between Dairine and Juanita. Carl swore out loud.
“Will you be quiet out there? I’m so close to getting this bit right—“Tom’s voice echoed from his study.
Tom wiped a little bit of pizza grease from the edge of his mouth, and stared down at the incontrovertible fact displayed in Carl’s manual.
Callahan, Harold E
243 E Clinton Avenue
Hempstead NY 11575
Status: Defunct (incomplete précis)
No power rating available
“Well,” he said finally. “That’s news.”
“We knew that the wizardry came from his side of the family,” Carl said. He absently grabbed another slice of pizza from the steaming pie sitting on the kitchen table. He paused, thinking, and then said, “So do we tell him?”
Tom took a piece. He looked over at Carl. “Would you want to know, if you’d gone defunct?” he asked. “I mean, knowing that you’d had that kind of power, and then it was gone—would he even believe it?”
Carl frowned down at the table. He remembered – just as well as Tom – those bleak days when they had forgotten. Even when Nita had tried to tell them, they had almost willfully not remembered. “I don’t know,” he said. He set that thorny problem aside for a moment. “What I want to know is why he’s in the Manual at all. Wizards who… give up the Art aren’t supposed to show up as wizards anymore.”
Tom tapped the modifier to Harry Callahan’s defunct status with his index finger. “I’d assume it has something to do with that,” he said. “Why don’t you check it out?”
“You wanna work together on this one?” Carl asked.
Tom shook his head. “I’ve got drafts to finish,” he said. “Besides, this feels like… your thing. I’ll be here to help if you need it.”
“Right,” Carl said with a smile. He looked over at Tom, and his expression transformed into a mask of horror. “Are you folding that pizza?”
Tom looked at his slice, the crust a v-shape between his fingers. “Yeah,” he said. Then, realizing that he had crossed a line somewhere, he tentatively asked, “Why?”
“Only Chicagoans fold their pizza!”
Back at the Callahan household, Harry was absolutely oblivious to the discoveries being made about his life. He was, instead, surreptitiously keeping an eye on his daughter Nita and her boyfriend from the kitchen, while seasoning the stew for dinner.
It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Kit, because he’d known the boy for a couple of years now. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Nita either, because he knew that she was a responsible enough girl to make her own choices. But Kit was still his daughter’s first boyfriend, and he still had a father’s worry, and so he kept an eye on things just in case. Even if they hadn’t done much but watch TV and hold hands.
He smiled to himself and dipped a ladle into the soup. It tasted about right, for a chicken noodle rice concoction. Of course, he wasn’t much of a chef – all that really mattered was that it tasted alright and got rid of the extra chicken in his fridge before it went bad. “Dinner’s ready!” he called to the two in the living room.
“Alright,” Nita called back. The sound of the television halted, as they turned off the set and came into the kitchen, to both grab bowls and utensils and set the table. Both of them knew where everything was in the kitchen, and it was a familiar routine.
Harry looked at the stove, contemplating the soup absently. “Do you think Dairine is going to be home in time for dinner, or should I do something to keep this warm?” he asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” Nita suggested. “She’ll be home when she gets home, and she knows how to use the microwave. No use wasting energy keeping it hot.”
“Right,” Harry said. “She seems to be out on wizardly business a lot lately.” He took a soup bowl from the stack that Kit was carrying, and ladled some into his bowl, then stepped back so that Nita and Kit could get their share.
“Well, it is the summer,” Kit chimed in. “It’s a lot easier to focus on wizardly business without school as a distraction.”
“That’s true, I suppose,” Harry said. “I just worry about her, I guess. Lately this seems really personal…”
He didn’t miss the meaningful look that Kit and Nita shared, but decided not to mention it when Nita said, “Dairine’s smart. She knows her limits, knows what she’s getting herself into.” She smiled at him, though the edges of her lips were tight. “She’ll be fine, dad. Don’t worry.”
Harry nodded. He knew from the look on his daughter’s face that she was doing her own fair share of worrying. But Nita wouldn’t lie to him, so he could accept this for now. If Dairine was in any real danger in her quest to find Roshaun and drag him back, he was sure he’d know. He sat down at the dinner table and changed the subject. “How about you two? Are you taking advantage of the summer for wizardly business?” he asked.
“Of course,” Kit said – spoon halfway between his bowl and his mouth. A dangling noodle fell off and back into his soup bowl, and he fished it back onto his spoon. “Nothing really specific right now, just looking into some local stuff.“
“S’reee and Hotshot are looking into whale and dolphin safety around big boats,” Nita cut in, giving Kit a chance to eat. “We’re their human consultants for this one. And we’ve been looking at some of the local forests on our own, there’s a disease blighting some of the pine trees, we’re trying to see what will help.”
“Well, if you need any help from a lifelong gardener…”
“We’ll ask you, dad.”
Conversation died out as they all turned to eating their dinner. Kit was finished, and Nita and Harry’s bowls were nearly empty when a bang of displaced air echoed from the back yard, like a whip cracking. Harry had gotten rather used to that sound over the years.
“That’ll be Dairine,” he said, looking instinctively toward the back of the house, though several walls obscured his vision of his returning daughter. A few seconds later, he heard the sliding sound of the back door opening, and not long after that, Dairine appeared in the kitchen, still wearing emerald green robes draped across her in the Wellakhit style.
“Oh, shoot,” she said, as soon as she entered the room and noticed the stares. She pulled the robes over her head, revealing jeans and an Iron Man t-shirt underneath. She frowned at them, then wadded them up and stuck them sideways into her claudication. “I knew I was going to be late, so I forgot to take those off. Is this still warm?” She peered into the pot of soup.
“It hasn’t had much time to cool down, but you could microwave it a bit,” Harry said. He looked over at Dairine, noticing the stubborn frown in the corners of her lips, and the crease in her brow. “Tough day?” he asked.
Dairine’s head jerked up from staring at her soup bowl. “Oh, not really,” she said. “Just… frustrated, I guess. I was looking at something for Miril, that’s why I’m late.” She picked up her bowl, said a few choice words in the Speech, pressed her fingers to the bottom and suddenly steam rose from the top. “There. Just as efficient as a microwave.”
“You’re getting pretty good at that, squirt,” Nita said with a grin. “Been practicing?”
Dairine took a seat at the kitchen table. “Well, yeah,” she said. “It’s all wavelengths and convection currents anyway. Nuking my soup is a lot easier than maintaining gravitational thermostasis.” She grinned cheekily at Nita.
Nita sighed, exasperated. Kit grinned at her, and stage-whispered, “Sometimes I wonder which sister would be worse, Dairine or Carmela.”
Nita rolled her eyes back at him, though there was a teasing laugh at the corner of her mouth. “Sometimes I wonder if she’s half alien,” she whispered back.
“I wonder that about Carmela all the time,” Kit said. “Is it a sister thing, do you think?”
“Oi,” Dairine said to the two of them, but Harry noticed a grin at the edge of her mouth as well. He half-smiled at Nita, for distracting Dairine from whatever was bothering her. “If I’m half-alien, then so are you. And if you say another word, I’ll tell Carmela about what you said.” She glared at Kit.
“Well,” Kit said innocently. “I’m done with my soup. I guess I’d best go clean up, shouldn’t I?” He stood and carried his soup bowl into the kitchen. Nita rolled her eyes at him.
Dairine sniggered at Nita. “Looks like your boyfriend’s abandoned you,” she said. Nita flushed red. Dairine had taken to the news that Nita was dating Kit like a terrier to a new toy, and she teased the two of them at any possible instance.
Before Harry could admonish Dairine not to make fun of her sister, Nita had already come back with a retort. “Shut it, squirt,” she said. “So what does Miril have you working on, anyways?”
Harry had to admire Nita’s subtle handling of Dairine. She had teased her and put her at ease first, before asking her about the problem that was bugging her. Nita had picked up a lot more from Betty than she let on.
“She’s been trying to reintroduce vegetation to the Sunside of the planet,” she said. She frowned a little bit at her soup bowl. “The problem is, it’s a big catch-twenty two. There’s barely any atmosphere on that side of the planet because the star burned it away, so whatever plants we introduce just go sterile because they’re getting huge doses of stellar radiation. But we can’t build up the atmosphere without plants, and they keep getting scorched. And it’s not like we can extend the atmosphere from the other side of the planet, because everything else needs that. So it’s hard to start even primary colonization of lichens and mosses.”
“Does Wellakh have any magnetic holes, like we have at the poles?” Kit asked from the kitchen.
“Yeah, but they’re all bent out of shape, because the atmosphere’s all buggy,” Dairine said. “Here, I’ll show you…”
Harry picked up his own finished soup bowl, and Nita’s, and took them to the kitchen to wash out in the sink. Kit was already heading back into the kitchen, to look at Dairine’s little problem, which she was pulling up on her laptop’s screen. He looked and saw the glowing, real-time outline of the planet – darkness stretching halfway across its scorched side. Graceful, twisting characters scintillated around the planet, showing data that seemed half-intelligible, like something out of a forgotten dream…
Harry smiled to himself, and went back to cleaning up the kitchen, listening to the three wizards discussing ozone levels and auroras and lichen. He was very proud of both of his daughters, even if sometimes he felt a little left out in a family of wizards.
Carl stepped out of thin air, and he could already feel the climate change. It was a sunny, if windy day in New York. The Croatian countryside was under a thick blanket of clouds, and a fine drizzle was falling from the sky, soaking everything.
Carl decided against a shield for the rain. His destination was just ahead, and there was no harm in getting a little wet. He would just dry off in New York again.
The stone-and-mortar cottage just ahead was almost picturesque, with a short gravel drive cutting a swath through a large vegetable garden, the oranges of the squash and tomatoes lit by the late afternoon sun. The image of rural simplicity was only marred by a large solar panel situated on the roof.
Carl unlatched the gate, and walked right up the drive to the small house, the gravel crunching under his tennis shoes. He stepped onto the porch and out of the rain, brushed some of the wetness out of his hair, and then knocked on the door. It was an unnecessary courtesy, because the occupants of the house doubtlessly knew that he was there, but it was a polite one.
“Come in!” a voice called from the inside. Given the invitation, Carl entered through the foyer into an airy dining room. Large bay windows spilled honey-colored sunlight across every surface, highlighting the oak table, the large bookshelves, and the room’s three occupants – a dark-haired man with short-cropped hair, wearing a collared shirt and tie, holding a baby wrapped in a blue, star-spangled blanket, and a blond woman wearing a plait down her back, her wizards’ manual open. They stood to greet him.
“Hey, Irina,” Carl greeted Earth’s Primary.
“Good to see you, Carl,” Irina said with a smile, coming forward to embrace him. “Coffee?”
Carl grinned. “Coffee, please,” he said. “With sugar, please. I know how you usually like your coffee.”
Irina grinned at him. “I’ll win you over yet,” she said. “Still, I’ve learned to have some cream ready. Antonio? Tea?” she asked.
“I’m fine, I think,” he said. He smiled at Carl. “It’s good to see you again, Carl. Are you two going to talk wizard business?”
“That’s what I’m guessing,” Irina said, with a laugh. “Seniors don’t translocate across the Atlantic just for social calls.”
“Well, not often,” Carl said. “But yeah, it’s wizard business. I’m having a bit of a problem—“
“Oh?” Irina asked.
“It’s nothing urgent, I think,” Carl said. “Just something I want a bit of advice on.”
“Right,” Antonio said. “Well, either way, I think I might put Mina down for a nap. She seems like she’s getting a little sleepy.” He smiled at Irina. “I won’t get in your way.” He hefted baby Mina up a little further onto his shoulder, and the sleepy baby smacked her lips a little. “You’re welcome to stay for dinner, Carl, and catch up.”
“Thank you, I might,” he said.
Irina returned to the dining room with two steaming cups of coffee, and set one down in front of Carl. He sat down in front of it. “You might want to open up a window while you’re up there,” she said to her husband. “I’ve noticed it gets kind of stuffy lately.”
“Of course,” Antonio said. He smiled at them. “See you, Carl.” He left.
Irina sat down, and pulled out her wizard’s manual. “Now,” she said. “What is it?”
Carl pulled his own book from his claudication, and set it on the table, open to the bookmarked page. The listings for all of the Callahan family were laid out before him. “I found this,” he said. He tapped the listing that said ‘Harry Callahan’.
Irina leaned over Carl’s manual. “Well, that’s interesting,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve seen a listing like that before. Defunct wizards aren’t even supposed to show up, there’s too much that can go wrong with that.”
“I know,” Carl said. “That’s why this surprised me. I did a little digging, because I was so confused. Most of the information is withheld, but I did find the date that he went defunct, and that was surprising.”
“How so?” Irina asked.
“Well, it turns out it corresponds almost exactly with a major worldgate malfunction, in Penn Station,” he said. “About twenty years ago. The reports on that aren’t withheld, but they can’t be accurate. Look at these numbers.” He flipped to another bookmarked page.
Irina looked down at the page. “You’re the worldgating expert,” she said. “But I’d say you’re right. That would have to be a huge space-time rift—“
“Or the numbers are wrong,” Carl said. “There was a huge power surge accompanying the malfunction, which I would assume caused the whole thing. But just how Harry Callahan was connected, I can’t even begin to imagine.”
“Well, why don’t you ask him?” Irina asked.
Carl gaped at her for a second. “Ask… him?” he said.
Irina nodded. “He’s the Callahan girls’ father, right?” she said. “They’ve had pretty prolific careers in wizardry already. It would be big news, but there wouldn’t be any trouble with him disbelieving it. And even if he gave up the Art willingly, I think that it may turn out for the best that he remembers.” She smiled. “Call it a hunch.”
Carl nodded, and then frowned. “But if his daughters are wizards, and he didn’t remember—“
“Then the memories are buried very deep,” Irina said. “Which is probably Someone’s intervention, I’d guess. You might want to ask Tom to build you a custom spell for that.”
Carl thought about that for a moment. “Alright,” he said. “Thanks Irina. About staying for dinner…”
“Can’t?” she asked.
“No,” he said. “Just concerned about Antonio, I guess. Is he alright with…?”
“With wizardry?” Irina asked. She laughed. “He couldn’t have married me if he wasn’t – I’d have scared him away.” She laughed again. “No, I think that he just feels a little lost, especially with all of the complex spell work that goes on in this kitchen, so he prefers to be out of the room, rather than distract me. And he was the one who invited you for dinner.”
Carl nodded. “Then I’d love to stay,” he said.
Harry Callahan was sitting at his kitchen table, going over the accounts from his shop. Nita had said not to disturb her in the other room, because she was working on the problem of the tree-blight. He sighed, rubbed at his temples, and punched several numbers into his calculator, which he then scribbled on a piece of paper.
He looked up at the sound of the back door opening.
“You’re home early,” Harry remarked to his youngest daughter.
“I know. Nelaid sent me home early,” Dairine said. In typical Dairine fashion, she looked rather put-out at being thwarted.
“And I see you left the robes at home this time,” Nita remarked. Dairine was wearing what she had left in – cargo pants and a baggy t-shirt.
“Ha ha,” Dairine said. She peered down at the list of accounts from the flower shop. “I could set up a program for you, to count all of those, you know,” she said.
Harry looked at her. “That might be nice,” he said. He smiled at Dairine. “I wouldn’t want you to waste your wizardly powers, but you know I’m not good with numbers.”
Dairine smiled warmly. “You know, it doesn’t speed up entropy to save someone time. And it wouldn’t even be wizardry, just a program. It would be pretty easy, you just-“
Harry didn’t get the time to learn what you just, because at that moment the phone rang.
“Hold that thought,” he said. He set down his pencil next to his calculator and stood to grab the cordless phone from the kitchen. “Hello?”
“Oh, hi Carl,” Harry said, smiling. “You need Nita or Dairine?”
“No,” Carl said. “Although… are they around?”
“Yeah, they’re both here. Dairine just got home early.”
“Good,” Carl said. “Good. Are you busy?”
“Nothing that I can’t put off,” Harry said.
“Alright. Do you mind if Tom and I come over for a little? We’ve got something to show you.”
Although Tom and Carl had become good friends over their years of mentoring Nita and Dairine, there was something in Carl’s tone that told Harry that this wasn’t a social call. “Yeah, that’s fine.”
“Alright, I’ll see you in a little bit.”
Harry hung up the phone, to see both Nita and Dairine looking at him curiously. He shrugged. “Tom and Carl are coming over.”
Almost as soon as he said that, a crack of air marked the appearance of two Senior-level wizards in their backyard. Nita got up to open the back door and let the two of them in. “Hey, Tom, Carl.”
“Good to see you, Nita,” Tom said.
Harry smiled at the two seniors. They had both been good mentors to his two daughters, and he was grateful to them for that, as well as for their friendship. But right now the strange phone conversation was on his mind.
“What did you say you’ve got to show me?” he asked.
“Well, I was looking in my manual,” Carl said. “And I found something. On you.”
Now Harry was even more confused. Dairine voiced it, however. “Something on dad?” she asked.
“Yes,” Carl said. “It seems your father used to be a wizard.”
The entire Callahan family stared at him in absolute shock.
Nita was the one who noticed the problem first. “But isn’t the manual supposed to wipe records of defunct wizards, after six months?” she asked. “I mean, both me and Dairine have been in this for more than six months, and I think we would have noticed if dad was…” she paused, her eyes flickered to her father “… a wizard,” she finished.
Harry nodded lamely. There had to be some sort of mistake here.
Tom sighed. “Yes,” he said. “Normally that would be the case, since many wizards have tried and failed to contact their defunct partners, and that almost always serves the Lone One’s purposes.”
“But why are you telling us now?” Dairine asked. “If it’s supposed to cause so many problems.” She was not accusatory as she might normally be. Carl’s declaration had set her back a few steps.
“I had a few reservations myself, so I went planetary,” Carl said. “It seems in this case, that there was something left incomplete. Irina believes – and I believe her – that this needs to be sorted out, that maybe the Powers That Be aren’t quite done with him.”
“Are you saying that dad can become a wizard again?” Nita asked, half-breathless. Harry hadn’t even dared think that himself – it was too strange a thing to think.
Carl shook his head sadly. “I doubt it,” he said. “The Powers That Be don’t invest power in a person twice. But people don’t need power to serve Them.” He turned to Harry. “It seems your last Errantry wasn’t recorded in the Manual as it should have been. But it coincided with a major worldgate malfunction in Penn Station, about twenty years ago, which I think is tied to the reason you went defunct. I got Tom to write up a custom spelling for this, but I need your permission to look into your past.”
“Y-yeah,” Harry said, his voice shaky.
“It’s probably going to be painful,” Carl said. “Are you sure?”
Harry nodded. And then he thought of something. “You’re a worldgating expert, aren’t you?” he asked. He had spent enough time around the two of them, that he knew what kinds of wizardry they dabbled in. “What happened to it? It might help, to know what to expect…”
Carl frowned. “A huge burst of power came through the gates that knocked out half of the hyperstring matrix,” he said. “It probably messed with the readings on the other end of the worldgate, because right now it’s indicative of a huge time rift. I’m hoping that the spell will get us a better perspective, because there could always be lingering effects but tampering with worldgates is a risky business. Right now it’s coming from a galactic coordinate of 96 degrees or so, at about a 6 degree axial tilt, with a relative velocity comparable to ours, factoring in directional vectors, which wouldn’t normally be a problem, except that the time shift is at a magnifier of what looks to be about a thousand years, and the Penn gates aren’t equipped to handle that.” He frowned in puzzlement.
Dairine, however, had gone so white that freckles stood out across her nose. “Wait,” she said. “Wait wait wait. Nobody say anything.”
The kitchen went dead silent, and Nita, Harry, Tom and Carl looked awkwardly between each other.
“Spot,” she said.
“Already running,” came a metallic voice from the direction of the kitchen floor. Harry looked down at Dairine’s feet to find Spot crouched there on spindly legs. The computer whirred as it processed, and then said, “Done.”
Dairine leaned down and picked up the diminutive laptop. She looked at the screen, and went even whiter. “And you’re sure this is right, buddy?” she asked.
“What’s wrong, Dairine?” Nita asked cautiously. Harry agreed with her tone. It wasn’t often that Dairine was caught off-guard like that.
Dairine looked up from Spot’s screen. When she spoke, her voice was much quieter than normal. “It’s just that if Carl’s data is correct, dad’s last Errantry was on Wellakh. During the Sunfire.”
Tom and Carl looked at each other, eyes wide.
“There are no coincidences,” Tom said.
Carl let out the breath he was holding.
Tom stood up from his crouch, as he finished inspecting the last of his spell work. “Well, that’s all finished,” he said. “Do you want to check it?”
“Sure,” Carl said. He sighed, and began to look over the intricate, curling characters of the Speech. They seemed to give off a pleasant glow that offset the kitchen’s artificial lighting. “I’m sorry that you had to rewrite so much.”
“No problem,” Tom said. “Even Seniors mess up sometimes. You were concentrating so much on the time you forgot the location. It happens.”
Carl chuckled. “I was so sure it couldn’t be right,” he said. “Well, I guess we’ll see.” He crouched down over a particularly complicated part of the spell, the one that dealt with the time differences. As their resident expert on time, Tom often wanted him to double check those parts.
“How do you think he’s taking it?” Tom asked, glancing into the living room where the two Callahan girls were inputting Harry Callahan’s data in order to come up with a proper Speech-naming.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” Carl said. “It is a lot to take in.” He looked at the Speech’s numbers once again, doing some quick and familiar mental calculations. “Yeah, this looks alright.”
“Good,” Tom said. He peeked into the living room. “Are you about all finished there?”
Nita looked at Dairine. “I can’t think of anything else,” she said. “Can you?”
“Nope,” Dairine said.
“We’ll check it all for you,” Tom said. “Harry, you ready?”
Harry Callahan still looked just as shell-shocked as he had when Carl had dropped the news on him, but he nodded. The three of them headed into the kitchen. Nita put one hand on her dad’s shoulder. “It’ll be alright, dad,” she said.
Tom smiled, and then turned back to his elegant spell diagram. “You two will want to put your names here,” he said. “You two will be the spell’s power base. Carl and I will guide it.”
They both nodded. “Spot?” Dairine said. The little computer scuttled up beside her, and produced a long string of characters that made up Dairine’s name in the Speech. She pulled it from the computer, checked it over, and then tied it into the spell work. Nita, meanwhile, pulled her own name from the tiny charm bracelet hanging off of her wrist and tied it in.
“And then dad’s?” Dairine asked.
“Right here,” Tom said. “But I’ll check it over first.” Spot produced another long stream of curling Speech-characters, which Dairine handed to Tom. He looked over the twisting words, seeing each clause in turn in his mind’s eye. “This is quite elegant,” he said, impressed. He tied it into the spell network as well.
After a few minutes of positioning everyone within the spell’s matrix, Tom closed the circle with a wizard’s knot. “Alright,” he said. “Are we all ready?” He looked to each participant in turn. Carl’s familiar gaze was steady. Nita’s eyes were wider than normal, but she nodded when he met her eyes. Dairine looked almost defiantly ready. Harry still looked vaguely startled, but there was determination in his gaze.
Tom started reading.
Nita had never spelled with Tom and Carl before. She picked something up in their cadence as they spoke in tandem, the same fierce familiarity and joy of working with someone who knew them inside out, much like when she and Kit worked together. But there was a certain amount of elegant mastery to the way that they said the words, an innate understanding of the inner workings of the Speech that Nita could only ever hope to have.
She joined in on her own part of the spell, Dairine matching her beat for beat. Dairine had a different style in the Speech – sharp but eloquent, and with a fierce determination fueling it. All of this joined together with Nita’s fierce joy in the use of the Art.
The spell took.
Harry opened his eyes and almost immediately shut them against the light from the fiery orange star that was almost directly overhead. He sighed and sat up, rubbing his head. Thank goodness this planet had a breathable atmosphere, or else his blackout would probably have killed him.
“Now to find out where we are,” he said. He looked around at the red-fern vegetation, and wondered vaguely how the photosynthetic processes worked on this planet. Red leaves weren’t unheard of, but it was something of a strange system for a whole forest. 'I’d love to work with them,' he thought.
(“It’s Wellakh,” Dairine’s astonished voice broke through the spell work, as she looked around at the idiosyncratic vegetation of the small world.)
Harry reached sideways into his claudication and pulled his manual from it. “Where am I?” he asked the manual. The book riffled through its pages and showed him the information that he was looking for.
“Thahit system. Fourth planet,” he read. “Local name Wellakh. And that’s weird.” He raised his eyebrow at the current date stamped into his manual. If he was correct, there were probably crusades going on back home. “Well, I suppose while we’re here we should look around.” He’d just finished with Errantry, but he had a few more days off of work. He had been looking forward to relaxing at home.
’Wizard’s holiday, he thought to himself. He stood up. From the looks of it, he was almost on the outskirts of a town or a city. Quite luckily for him, this planet was Astahfrith, and from what he could tell from the manual, seemed friendly.
He stood up and began to design a translocation to take him close to the nearest advisory. Maybe there he could find some clue as to why he was sent to this planet.
He felt the gentle squeeze of the translocation ease, and found himself looking around at the city of Taiar.
It utilized a kind of spired, terraced architecture predominantly of some kind of tempered gold-white steel. Lots of the architecture utilized little flourishes and decorations that reminded Harry of some odd form of baroque. The red-gold light of the sun bathed everything in a warm light.
Several people were standing around him, many of them staring at where he had just appeared with a crack of displaced air. At first glance, they were very humanoid. Standing upright, they all stood erect on two legs, with two arms at their sides, and their facial features had everything that he had come to think of as indicative of his own species.
From his rather seldom sojourns through the Crossings, he was used to seeing aliens of all different shapes and colors and chemical makeups, that it was almost stranger to see such a familiar-looking species off of earth.
He raised his hand in a fairly neutral gesture of greeting. “Dai’stiho,” he greeted. “I am on Errantry, and I greet you. Could any of you take me to the local advisory?”
One of the Wellakhit stepped forward to greet him. She wore her red hair cropped to her shoulders, and it curled into her face, framing her gray eyes which were gleaming with determination in the orange-gold light from the far off star. “Dai’stiho, cousin,” she said. “I am Eliziavena ke Dainabar. I am also on Errantry, and in need and in haste I greet you. If you come with us, we’re going to speak with the Planetary.”
Harry nodded grimly. He had just walked into an emergency.
(Nita and Dairine’s concentration nearly broke, when they got a good look at the woman who had greeted their father. Even Tom and Carl were surprised. The two seniors exchanged a look from outside of the spell, and then looked at Harry, whose eyes were wide.
“Dari,” Nita said, scarcely breathing, afraid to voice what she thought.
“I know,” Dairine said, equally as shocked. “It’s mom.”)
The gathering of Wellakhit into which he had appeared was, as Harry learned, a small gathering of the wizards of that area of the planet who were planning an en masse translocation to meet with Wellakh’s planetary.
Harry joined them without much question, accepting the Eliziavena’s need for haste.
He tied his name into the group’s spell diagram, and spoke the words with them, and soon found himself inside a large hall alongside a large crowd of people. The hall itself was sparse, although there was a raised portion where, Harry supposed, someone could speak from. He was not the only alien here, but the population was overwhelmingly Wellakhit. Though there were many similarities between himself and the people of this planet, Harry soon found the differences – they were, on the whole, taller than humans, with more angular faces, and tended toward much lighter coloration.
A towering Wellakhit with red hair even brighter than Eliziavena’s stepped forward and embraced the young woman quickly. Though his hair was red, Harry could somehow sense great age and power coming from him.
Eliziavena smiled back at him, though it was a forced smile, and greeted him in her own language. Harry was able to hear her words through the Speech, however.
“It’s good to see you, grandfather,” she said. “We managed to pick up an alien wizard along the way.”
She gestured to Harry.
He stepped forward and nodded in respect for the planetary wizard. “Dai’stiho,” he said. “I am on Errantry, and I greet you in your time of need. My name is Harry Callahan.”
“Well met, Harry Callahan, and in good time. I am afraid that my planet has need of you. I am Athel ke Radetu, the planetary wizard for Wellakh.” The grimness of his greeting settled into Harry almost immediately, and he found himself growing grim as well.
“I go where the Powers will me,” Harry said. “Actually quite literally this time. It was a worldgate malfunction that brought me here, I think.”
“That seems to be the case all around this room,” Athel said. “Wellakh is not normally a stop for wizards on interplanetary jaunts. I believe that this is the Powers way of telling me that something big is about to happen to my planet.”
Harry nodded. “Any idea what that might be?”
“I’m sure you’ve noticed our beautiful sun, Thahit.”
“Our sun is currently at its flare maximum,” the golden-blond wizard addressing the crowd said, in a clear voice that carried over the crowd. He was tall, like the rest of his people, and there was a certain angular quality about his face that was pronounced by his worried frown. Athel had introduced him as Nuiiliat ke Meseph, and said that he had been studying the system’s primary star for quite some time. “Thahit has always had an erratic flare pattern, but a few days ago it shot off a flare that reached the orbit of Leyhit – the fifth planet in our system,” he said, adding the last for the benefit of the various aliens around the gathering.
His worried look suddenly took on a bleak quality, like he didn’t want to even consider what he was about to say next. Considering what he did say, Harry didn’t blame him one bit. “It’s possible that the next flare will come for us. Currently there are several others who are looking into the cause of our star’s instability, but finding that cause may take more time than we have. I do not think that it would be remiss to have a plan in case a flare does come our way.”
The crowd was dead silent. Harry frowned, suddenly feeling the crushing reality of the situation. What would it be like, facing possible destruction from the star that gave your planet life? He could not imagine if the sun flared up at the Earth.
“I think our best chance, in such a case, would be to shield the planet from the oncoming flare and divert its force around Wellakh, powered by wizards spread out across the entire planet. Our population of wizards is relatively low, and even with every wizard we have to help us, it would be a massive undertaking, but it is an emergency measure. Athel and I will be taking any ideas you might have to make this emergency measure less tasking for the number of wizards that we do have, in case the worst does come to pass.”
With that, he stepped down from the raised edge of the hall, and was immediately surrounded by wizards with ideas about how to improve his plan. Harry had none, so he stood back to wait
Eliziavena found him not long after that. “No ideas on how to improve Nuiiliat’s plan?” she asked.
Harry shook his head. “No,” he said. “My specialty is plants, not stars.” He sighed. “It seems like the Powers would want to tap wizards who have experience working in these situations.”
“I’m sure the Powers wouldn’t have picked you if you didn’t have something to do here,” Eliziavena said. “They’re notoriously good at putting the right wizards in the right situations.”
Harry nodded. “I guess I just don’t go this far from home that often,” he said, with a bit of a rueful grin. “I wasn’t really expecting to end up halfway across the galaxy, a thousand years in the past. But that’s Errantry for you.”
Eliziavena grinned at him. “That’s true,” she said. “So what is your planet like?”
Harry began to tell her about earth.
The plan that Nuiiliat and Athel came up with was fairly close to the plan that the blond wizard had outlined for them beforehand. The planet’s wizards would spread out to various places around the planet in pairs, and feed their wizardry into a large spell net that would power a planet wide shield that would hopefully divert any flare that came their way.
It seemed like a fairly solid plan.
Harry inspected the spell diagram that had been cobbled together. It was one of the most complex workings he had ever seen, and he admired it for its artistry and its power. Even in miniature, it was impressive. Imagining it covering the whole surface of this planet made it even more so.
He spent most of his short time with Eliziavena, who was the only Wellakhit that he actually knew. She managed to procure them some sort of spicy lunch and they ate it together.
“Are you worried?” he asked her.
She sighed. “Yes,” she admitted. “Nuiiliat’s come up with a great spell diagram, but there aren’t very many of us to power it. I just hope that a flare doesn’t come our way.”
“Me too,” Harry replied. The thought of what might happen to this planet with its beautiful and strange red foliage and its strangely decorative architecture, was heart rending. Even more so because it was Eliziavena’s home.
“I don’t suppose you would know what happens to Wellakh, in your time?”
Harry shook his head. “I’ve never heard of Wellakh before,” he said. Eliziavena looked crestfallen. Harry grimaced. “Of course, there are thousands of homeworlds just in the galaxy alone. And I don’t go off planet much.”
“Yeah,” Eliziavena said.
Harry decided that perhaps it was best to change the topic from the possible imminent destruction of her entire planet. “So what is it that you do, when you’re not being a wizard?”
“I’m a dancer,” she said, with a laugh. “Sometimes, I think I spend more time being a dancer than I do being a wizard, actually. All of the practice tends to be rather time consuming. But I love it, even if I am a little short for it.”
Harry laughed. “You know, lately I feel like I spend more time in the garden than I do on Errantry,” he said. “So what kind of dances does Wellakh have?”
But he never got to hear that, as at that moment their worst fears were confirmed. A flare was heading toward them.
Harry found himself paired up with Eliziavena, to help with the shields.
They were put on the daytime side of the planet, and the gold-orange star hung halfway on the morning horizon. There was a fifteen minute delay between light leaving the star and reaching Wellakh, so by the time they got in position, there were still a few minutes left.
Harry shuddered as he looked around the ridge that they were standing on, at all of the red foliage below. He could feel the distress of growing things that have had a disruption in their environment.
“The plants definitely know something’s wrong,” he said.
“Let’s set up our own shields,” Eliziavena said. “And then hook ourselves into the spell matrix.”
“Right,” Harry said. He opened his own manual, and Eliziavena held out a cupped hand that filled with light, in what was her own version. They both spoke the words for a shield spell, and then began reading their part of the giant shield.
That spell immediately caught them up, in a web of power that spanned the entire planet. This was the largest working that Harry had ever been a part of, and for a moment it was like he could see the entire planet from space – tiny and miniscule, even as a part of its own system, but the home to a billion and more, with sparkling seas and mountain ranges and continents that instead of green held a reddish hue.
The moment passed, and he was standing with Eliziavena on the ridge and looking up into the sky.
He could just begin to see the first wave of supercharged solar wind from the flare, as it fluoresced through the atmosphere in glowing sheets of colorful light, a thousand times brighter than any aurora. It would be beautiful, if it didn’t herald destruction.
The plants shrieked all around him as the charged solar wind ripped through the protective ozone and began to ionize the atmosphere.
Harry exchanged a long look with Eliziavena and the two of them threw their voices and their power into the cadence that would strengthen the shield in the upper atmosphere.
Harry felt the first shockwave of the oncoming flare, more than anything else. The pressure and heat was immense, Harry felt like his skin was cracking under it, like his bones were cracking under the pressure, and this was just a small amount—
The sky suddenly filled with near-blinding oncoming light. A word cracked from Eliziavena’s lips and their shields turned opaque, just as the light became near-overwhelming. Harry threw more power into the planet wide shield.
There was a brief moment of sudden reprieve from that cracking pressure, when the superheated plasma slid around the shield and past the atmosphere, only bubbling off the very top layers and the first of the flare was diverted around the planet.
But slowly, the natural pressure began to build, at the very epicenter of the daylight side, battering the shield and searching for more and more outlets…
‘It’s not going to work!’ Eliziavena thought in sudden despair, which Harry could hear through the spell that they were caught up in. A moment later, she narrowed her eyes in determination. ‘I’m going to make it work.’
Her gray eyes met his.
‘Harry, please take the shields,’ she told him. ‘And if I fall, get out of here. Go back to Earth. You don’t need to die on a foreign world, a thousand years from your time.’
Harry held her eyes for a long time.
‘Please,’ she continued. ‘Promise me. I won’t let you pay life-price for the sake of my planet.’
Harry diverted more power into the shields, so much that he was shaking and sweating. Eliziavena backed out of the shield spell to take up a different cadence of the Speech. Harry listened in to her for a moment. She was speaking directly to the flare, berating it for daring to destroy a world that was home to half a billion of her own people, plus the billion other species it housed. It answered her with the pressure formed of a million years of nuclear fusion and convection, which it was finally free of. She lashed back at the flare, screaming at the flare that if it would just ease the pressure it could divert around the shields they had set up, and it wouldn’t harm anyone.
The pressure screamed back, and the air around them caught fire.
“No!” Harry yelled, just as Eliziavena threw all of her power into stopping the flare and it was blown out in an instant. She toppled to the ground.
Harry knelt forward, willing his shields to hold. It was so hot that the ground seemed to be melting around them, the very dirt glowing with red heat, so that it was painful to look at. He gathered the Wellakhit woman up – she was still alive, at least.
The shields weren’t going to hold for very long with this heat to contend with. He had to get out of here, get back to Earth. He didn’t want to die here, and he had promised Eliziavena that he would.
But he couldn’t leave her here.
Harry began the spell that would take them back to the Crossings, or back to Earth – somewhere, anywhere other than here with the world burning down around them, where the flare would crush them in an instant and incinerate them the next. But even as he started the words, he knew that he didn’t have the power.
He continued with the futile spell, hoping without much hope that maybe it would work, just maybe.
“You should leave her behind.”
Harry could feel the third presence enter into the spell – though It had always been there, It had rode in with the flare, though now It spoke from inside of him.
“No way,” Harry spat back to the Lone Power.
“Fine. Both of you die here, then.” A cold laugh filled his ears. It spoke of thousands of dead worlds, charred to ash by their own stars’ instability. “The fact is, you don’t have enough power to get her out of here.”
“But you do, don’t you?” Harry asked, anticipating the Power’s next move.
The Lone Power paused for a calculated moment. “Well, yes,” It said clinically.
“And if you get us out of here, what do you want in return?”
“The usual price. You give up your wizardry willingly, and I will take you – and her – back to Earth.”
“And what do you get out of it?” Harry asked.
“One less wizard,” the Lone One replied. “Even safely tucked away in Timeheart, you guys are a nuisance. Plus all of the anguish of your colleagues, when they find out that you’ve given in to me.”
Harry frowned, grimly, going over his options. He was sure that the fallen Power was not spelling everything out. Still, he wasn’t even sure why It was giving him an out. Like It had said, It could just let the both of them die here and be rid of them.
“Are you going to take the deal or not?” the Lone One demanded. “Seriously, time is ticking.”
Harry looked down at the Wellakhit woman in his arms, who was breathing softly. He couldn’t leave her here, but he didn’t want to die here either.
He took a deep breath.
“Alright,” he said. “I’ll give up the Art. Take us home.”
The Lone Power shrieked with sudden triumph. Its power blazed through Harry, blasting open the gateway that he had been trying to open, so wide that some of the flare’s power followed them through, knocking out the worldgate’s functions and blasting them into Penn Station.
Fortunately, it was the late at night, so no one saw them appear out of thin air.
Harry checked Eliziavena’s vitals once again. She appeared to be breathing, and mostly unhurt. She slowly opened her eyes and sat up.
He smiled a little ruefully at her. “Welcome to Earth,” he said.
Her eyes widened as she looked around her at the dark train station. “I… you got me out…”
“Yeah,” he said. “The flare would have crushed us otherwise.”
She took a moment to let that information sink in, and then a wail of anguish ripped from her throat, and she buried her head on her arms and sobbed for the loss of her planet and her home. Harry settled his arm around her shoulders and tried to pat her comfortingly.
Slowly, however, her sobs quieted. She lifted her head from her arms, and though her eyes were not wide, there was no longer the same look of indefinable loss written across her features.
“I’m sorry about that,” she said. “But thanks for the comfort.” She frowned. “I’m afraid I don’t even really know why I was crying.”
“Yeah, of course,” Harry replied. “Don’t mention it.”
“I’m just tired, from dance practice, I suppose,” she said, still frowning in puzzlement. She shrugged it off, however. “Like I said, sorry.”
“I don’t mind,” he said, with a smile. “How about I buy you a coffee? Just to help cheer you up.”
“That sounds good,” she said. “I’m El-… Elizabeth. Elizabeth Dunbar.”
“Harry Callahan,” he replied. “Now, about that coffee-“
He stood up, and she stood up with him, and when they left the train station all memories of their ordeal, or their lives as wizards, had left their minds.
The spell stopped around the five in the Callahan kitchen, and for a moment nobody spoke, all a little bit too shocked by what they had seen. Harry could feel sudden tears in his eyes.
“That wasn’t very fair,” Dairine said at last. “Taking mom’s power as well as dad’s.”
“That One has never played very fair,” Harry replied, with a little shake of his head.
“It probably felt that taking her power was enough of a price for saving her life,” Tom said. “Even if It didn’t ask.”
Harry felt dizzy with the wealth of new knowledge – or rather, old knowledge that he had forgotten. “I need to sit down,” he said.
Nita gave him a long look, took a glance at Tom and Carl, and then said, “Me and Dairine will fix you something to eat.” It was implicit in her tone that she was giving him some space.
Harry nodded gratefully, and headed into the living room, Tom and Carl following him. Harry sat down on the couch and put his head in his hands, hoping to ward off the weariness and sadness that came from those memories.
“I always knew that I took her away from her home, when Betty decided to date me,” he said. “I just forgot how far.”
Tom and Carl both remained silent. Harry continued to sit with his head in his hands. For a moment, he felt like the pressure of his hands against his forehead was the only thing keeping him together.
“She died without ever remembering,” he said. His voice cracked suddenly.
He felt Carl’s hand against his shoulder. “She’s in Timeheart now, and I’m sure that she remembers.” The Senior wizard smiled. “From what Nita told me, it seems she used wizardry at the very end. It’s even possible that she remembered before that.”
Harry sighed and leaned back against the familiar couch. He closed his eyes, willing himself not to break down – at least not yet.
“I wonder if I should have taken that deal,” he murmured. “I always knew that dealing with That One was a bad idea, but—“
“Well, you did save both of your lives,” Tom pointed out. “And you lived on to have two wizard daughters, who have both done a lot of good in the universe. I think that that is just as important as a last stand against a solar flare.”
Harry nodded, taking that idea in and letting it fill him. If he hadn’t take then deal, then he would never have had a life with Betty, and he would never have known Nita and Dairine. He didn’t regret it, exactly, but he still felt the loss of his power.
“Yeah,” he said. “You’re right.”
He closed his eyes, an idea slowly forming in his head, about what he had just experienced. He frowned.
“I think that it was because of the girls, that That Power made that deal,” Harry said slowly, though he was still working over the idea in his head. “I think that it knew what they were going to do, or might do, and… it was curious, somehow… and it knew that without us, they would never come to pass…”
Tom and Carl looked at each other. “You think?” Carl asked. “Those two were pretty instrumental in redeeming It, and in the birth of the Hesper.”
Tom shrugged. “It’s possible,” he said. “Its motivations on that front have never been exactly clear. Or maybe It was just curious as to the outcome.”
“I suppose I’ll never know,” Harry said. He chuckled. “It would be nice if wizardry had all of the answers, wouldn’t it?”
“It would,” Carl said. “But not nearly as fun.”
Harry chuckled, but he sobered quickly. “I suppose I should go back,” he said. “At least once.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” Carl replied.
The Sunside of Wellakh stretched flat and barren across half a world, where there had once been seas and mountains and ridges and valleys and all of the features of a world that was whole. Harry stared out across that flat plane, sparse with a lack of any vegetation, even the idiosyncratic red trees that dotted the landscape of his memory.
The palace that the people had erected after the fact gave a great vantage point over that painful scar of land.
“Come on dad, they’re waiting,” Dairine said, pulling him away from the view and into the depths of the palace itself.
The architecture was somehow familiar, though it was more lavish than anything that he had seen in his memory, and was a stark contrast to the bare and open hall of the Planetary of a thousand years ago.
They arrived at a pair of bronze gates, and Dairine took a moment to straighten out the long flowering over robes that she was wearing. Harry straightened his tie a little bit and flattened his hair. Dairine had already admonished him about looking nice in the presence of a couple who were technically royalty.
Dairine, who had been waiting with arms crossed, turned to the great bronze doors and pushed them open. They opened into a long, open hall, that reminded Harry much more of the hall where all of the Wellakh’s wizards – and some others – had gathered. At the end of the hall sat a man with red-bronze hair, who sat straight-backed on a raised dais. When they entered the room, he stood from his sitting position and strode forward.
Harry smiled at the wizard as he approached, and held his hand out to shake. But Nelaid had other ideas, and several paces before he reached Harry, he dropped into a deep bow.
Dairine gasped. Harry frowned, a little uncomfortable at such a blatant gesture of respect.
“On behalf of myself, and my people, I thank you,” Nelaid said. “You have done us a service that can never be repaid. On errantry and in deepest respect, I give you my greetings.” After a moment, he stood from his bow – almost awkwardly, as though he didn’t know how to proceed.
Harry smiled, also a little awkwardly. “I suppose I’m no longer on errantry, but it’s nice to meet you as well,” he said. “And you’ve already done plenty, helping Dairine out.”
Nelaid smiled, the edges of his green eyes creasing. “She has been a most apt pupil,” he said. Harry smiled. “Well, then from one father to another.”
Harry nodded at that. He held out his hand once again. Nelaid clasped it in his own.
“Dairine’s told me you’ve been having some trouble with plants, lately. I thought I might see what I could do to help out.”