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Spellmaker

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Her family always told her that her temper was her greatest weakness. Angelica always thought they didn't take her inability to get a spell right seriously enough, but at times like this, she tried to remember the things they told her, like breath steadily and count to ten.

Strangely enough, the things they said about temper were the exact same sorts of things they said about her spellwork. And their repeatedly reiterated solutions never actually worked to solve either of them.

Angelica took a deep steady breath, said ten inside her head, and then let loose.

"How dare you!" she shouted at Roger Chant, Chrestomanci's son. "What do you mean by collecting all my old spells and stuffing them up on a shelf like some kind of..." There her command of English ran out, and she continued in Italian. "...like a gallery of grotesqueries?"

She switched back to English. "A museum of ugly broken things...they're right next to the gargoyle that lost part of its nose!"

"They're not ugly, they're useful," Roger said. "I'm interested in unusual magic, and ways of putting things together..." He looked at her earnestly. "You make the best spells."

Angelica considered being mollified, but then he had to go and ruin it.

"I just want to study them."

Like her spells were something to take to university to be pored over by dry old men and women in long robes. She might dislike it when her family made light of her affliction, but this was much worse. It made her feel like her spells were a separate thing from her, and she herself didn't matter.

"Would you like another example to study?" Angelica asked dangerously.

But Roger didn't recognize the danger. "If you don't mind," he said, ever so politely. Angelica's temper snapped. She opened her mouth to sing a spell that would give Roger gargoyle ears.

"Wait, I have something--" Roger, in his hurry to snatch something off of the shelf, knocked into Angelica, and her voice rose in exasperation.

She kept singing, knowing from experience that stopping in the middle would only make it worse. Besides, as long as she did something to Roger, she didn't care what it was.

When she'd finished singing the spell, she waited to see what Roger would turn into. But it was she who was transformed.

 

"Here, kitty, kitty, kitty," Roger called. He'd been calling her for hours. At first Angelica had been afraid he'd bring his father into this, but he hadn't. At least he had the decency not to go running for help at the first sign of a spell gone wrong.

And he didn't give up easily, either.

"Kitty?" Roger called again, still hopeful.

Angelica was hiding at the very top of the grand entry hall of Chrestomanci Castle. From there, she could see Roger wandering through the various hallways, and hear him calling when he thought he was alone. He'd passed her hiding place a dozen times, but he must have only seen the first part of her transformation, before she'd fled. He didn't know what he was looking for, so he never saw her.

Because Angelica had not turned into something so extraordinary as a cat. She would have liked that. She didn't like being a cat-eared lizard-tailed bat-winged crystalline thing, not one bit. Even if it did make hiding amidst the crystals of the giant chandelier possible.

 

At night, when everyone had gone to bed (Roger was still covering for her, Angelica was pleased to note), Angelica sneaked into the room where Roger stored all his magical grotesqueries. She figured that was where she belonged.

It was almost the way it had been, but there was one glaring difference. A mysterious bit of magical machinery had been set up on the table in the center of the room. It looked fragile, and Angelica could see that it had been put together with great care.

She jumped up on the table and prowled closer, tiptoeing over a piece of paper to sniff one of the protruding bits. It smelled a bit like one of her spells. In fact, the whole thing seemed to be made out of bits of her old spells.

Jumping to conclusions was another of Angelica's weaknesses, but this one didn't seem like a jump, it seemed like an easy coast to a conclusion. This had been left here for her, and if it was for her, then the place where she fit was right...here...

Angelica found herself sitting on the table, in her normal girlish form, with bits of spell scattered all around her. And when she got off the table, she found that she'd been sitting on a note. She hadn't noticed the writing in her other form, but the single word was written very large and caught her human eye.

"Sorry," the note said.

Angelica's temper had long since cooled, and she wondered exactly what Roger thought he had to be sorry for.

"Don't worry about it," she wrote underneath Roger's note. After a moment, she added, "Thanks," and she signed it "Angelica Petrucchi, who owes you more spells to study".

"P.S. How did you do that?"