Chapter 1: A New Student
“Excuse me, sir? Do you know any mages who are taking on new students?” Amy asked the short man in the square. She had taken to just questioning whomever she could find to ask. She had been inquiring all day, but none of the teachers in town were taking on any students. To make matters worse, Amy didn’t have much she could pay even if she could find a teacher. Plus the inn in town was taking bits of that, so the longer she took, the less likely she thought she would be to actually find someone. Still, she wasn’t giving up until she found someone who could instruct her in the magical arts.
“Hello, m'lady,” the short man said with a little bow. His friend nodded in greeting, but didn’t say a word.
“Hello. Do you know any mages?” Amy asked again. She was not interested in making small talk.
“I know one, and he is always willing to take on new students, but I promise he will drive you away long before you learn your first spell,” the man informed her. “Why don’t you find a more practical trade? The castle is always looking for servants.”
Amy didn’t want to explain that she had grown up with her mother who was a maid in the castle and that all she had ever wanted was to train as a mage under a great master of the art. It turned out that the great masters only wanted people who started training as young children or those who had a natural talent for the art. Amy was neither, but she knew that she would work hard and that, given the chance, would be amazing one day.
“Take me to him. I’ll take anything,” Amy demanded.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” the man said. He and his friend, who did not speak, led Amy along a dark path far away from the center of town. Amy wondered if she had made a mistake in following these men. Perhaps they meant to do her harm, but they did no such thing. Instead, the shorter man introduced himself as Howard and his silent friend, Raj. Raj was a mute, but he offered Amy a smile and picked her a small flower while they walked in the forest.
“We have known Sheldon for a great number of years, but he has grown more and more isolated recently. After his dearest friend took a wife and moved into town, Sheldon started spending too much time alone. As I told you earlier, he is always willing to take on a promising student, but very few have stayed longer than a week. I suspect that you will be at the castle looking for servant work soon enough,” Howard informed her.
Amy set her jaw. She would never go back to that castle. If this Sheldon would take her on, then there was no way she would walk away from the opportunity.
“This is it,” Howard said when he showed Amy the small cottage with a flimsy looking shed outside of it. It didn’t look like the home of a powerful mage. It looked like it might all fall down when the next storm came.
Howard went up to the door and knocked on it. If the cottage didn’t look like a powerful mage owned it, the mage himself looked even less fitting. Maybe this was his assistant.
“Sheldon, I have brought you a student,” Howard said as he gestured to the girl by his side.
Amy took a second look at the mage. He was tall and skinny with no beard. He was also young. Perhaps not more than five years older than she. How could this man be a teacher of the arts? He should still be studying himself. Amy swallowed hard because he was also handsome. She was not at all prepared for this.
“You? Are you the student? What’s your background in magic?” Sheldon asked Amy.
“N-none, Sir,” Amy said in a quivering voice. This was where the other mages had all turned her away. No one was interested in training someone with so little experience.
“Oh thank goodness. Come in,” Sheldon told her. Amy walked up to the door and started inside. The two men who had guided her there started to follow. “Mages only. Go on,” he told them.
“But, we journeyed half the day to get here. Aren’t you going to offer us any refreshment?” Howard asked.
“You may take apples from my orchard and rest in my stable,” Sheldon said before slamming the door in their faces.
Amy looked around the mage’s home. It was very tidy, and Amy liked it a great deal. She found a place it sit near the fire.
“That is my place,” he warned.
“Sorry,” Amy said as she stood. She moved to the seat across from the other one. When he did not complain about her new seat, she relaxed a little.
“Would you like something to drink?” Sheldon asked as he prodded his fire a little and put a kettle on it.
“W-water, sir?” Amy muttered nervously.
“Do you have a stutter? Magic requires clear annunciation,” Sheldon told her.
“No, sir. I’m nervous,” Amy told him.
“Well, get over it,” Sheldon admonished as he pushed a small ceramic cup full of water toward Amy. She picked it up and took a sip.
“I suspect that I’m your last resort. What were you before? You look like a chamber maid,” Sheldon said gruffly as he looked her up and down. He took in the callouses on her hands and the tattered edges on her skirt. She did not appear to come from wealth and she did not appear to lie about having no background in magic. If she came with Howard and Raj, then she had probably asked all around town. Of course none of those idiots would take her. They only wanted someone who already knew what they were doing. The mages in town only wanted to make a quick bit of gold. They did not want to work on influence greatness. Whether or not this girl had any greatness would be seen, but Sheldon wanted to give her a chance.
“I was, sir,” Amy confirmed. “I worked in the castle.”
“The castle is good, honest work. Magic is dangerous work, and you have no experience. What brought you to me?” Sheldon asked. He buttered some bread and pushed it toward the girl. She looked like she hadn’t eaten in days. Normally he wouldn’t care, but he didn’t need the girl passing out on him while he put her through some basic tests.
Amy took the bread and took a bite before answering. “No one else would take me,” she admitted.
“No. I understood that when you showed up at my door with those two fools. What makes you want to be a mage?”
“A mage saved me when I was a child. I was going for a walk on the castle grounds when a spooked horse nearly trampled me. The mage saw me and used a spell to calm the horse before it got to me. He did it like it was nothing, but I never forgot it. I wanted to learn how to do that. I want to save lives with magic. I want to do good.”
“I can teach you everything you need to know, but you have to have magic in you. Let’s go,” Sheldon told Amy. She stood and followed him outside into the woods. He ordered her to stand about ten feet away from him.
Sheldon threw a rock right at Amy.
“Ow,” she said as she rubbed her arm where it hit.
“Block it,” he demanded before he threw another rock at her. She caught this one. “Block it or I won’t take you as a student,” he repeated before throwing another rock. Amy used her hand to block the stone, but Sheldon just demanded that she block it again.
“What am I doing wrong?” Amy asked after she deflected another rock with her hand before it hit her in the face. She was confused and terrified. Was she supposed to do magic? She hadn’t been trained at all. She thought she explained that already.
“Block it,” Sheldon screamed at her before he started hurling several rocks at her at once. He was using magic to aim them carefully. They were each very painful as they hit, and Amy fell to the ground.
“You’re no good to me,” Sheldon finally said when Amy was lying, curled in a ball, with her head covered, and crying. “Go back to the castle.”
“Again,” Amy whispered as she weakly got to her feet. There must be something more to this test that she wasn’t understanding. She would master this test and become a student here if it was the last thing she did.
“No. You are no good to me,” Sheldon repeated. There was a tenderness in his voice that told her that despite the anger on his face, he regretted hurting her.
“Again,” Amy yelled. Her face was bloody and she was hurt everywhere, but she stared Sheldon down.
Sheldon picked up one more small rock and flung it toward her. He didn’t even think he threw it far enough to actually hit her, but it changed its course just slightly and didn’t touch Amy at all. Amy felt something rip inside of her. It hurt more than any of the rocks had, but she saw that the rock would have hit her if not for some unknown force changing it’s angle. Without a doubt, she knew that force was her.
“Again,” Amy whispered.
Sheldon nodded and picked up another stone to throw at Amy. This time it flew from his hand before he could even throw it. Amy cried out in pain and nearly collapsed to the ground again at the same moment that the rock flew. He could feel a surge of magic come from the girl in front of him that was stronger than he ever would have expected. This utterly untrained girl might be more powerful than he was. It was his duty to make sure she was properly trained.
“Enough. You’ll stay in the shed. You’ll wake at dawn and meet me for breakfast before we get started on your training,” he told her.
“I don’t have much to pay you,” Amy said, but she pulled the small bag of gold from her bag. It was every penny that she had ever saved. It still wasn’t much.
“What do I need your money for?” Sheldon asked with disgust coloring his voice and he walked into his cottage and slammed the door.
Amy looked at the small, drafty looking shed. It looked like it would be home for the time being, so she limped toward it. She wished that she had taken the rest of the crust of bread that she left behind in Sheldon’s because she was starving. Also, her body ached from the stones and from the long hike to get here and from letting loose the magic inside of her. She hoped that perhaps there might be some hay to lie on inside the shed because she couldn’t face the idea of sleeping on the cold ground.
The outside of the shed did not betray the inside at all. It was still tiny, but there was a small fireplace and a warm looking bed shoved into the corner and a small kitchen that was stocked with food as if Sheldon had been expecting her all along. Amy prepared herself a small dinner before using the basin to clean herself up and climbed into bed. She was asleep before her head hit the pillow.
Chapter 2: A New Start
Amy learns that there's more to magic than spell work.
Amy startled awake to the sound of a thunderous pounding on the door of her shed. She jumped up and pulled open the door to find Sheldon standing there with his arms full of books. He walked in without being asked, and put the books on the small table that looked like it might buckle under weight of them. Then Sheldon walked back out of the shed.
Amy picked up the book on the top of the pile, but she didn’t read runes. Her education in the castle had been only basic enough to learn to read recipes and patterns. She hoped that Sheldon didn’t expect her to read all of these books.
Sheldon returned to the shed with a few more books under his arm and a tray of food in his hands.
“Wouldn’t you like me to prepare breakfast?” Amy asked.
“I have already made breakfast.” Sheldon nodded toward the tray full of food in his hands. Perhaps this girl wasn’t worth his time if she was as thick as she suddenly seemed.
“I can see that. I only meant that I can do chores around here to earn your training,” she explained.
“You will earn my training by doing what I ask of you. I did not allow you to stay because you are a maid, and I was under the impression that you wanted to leave that life,” he huffed.
“I do,” Amy agreed with a vigorous nod.
“Good. Then you will stop all of this nonsense about payment and chores. I would prefer that you keep this space tidy, and you will not enter my home unless you are invited by me. That is as far as we will speak of housekeeping. We have more important training to move on to.”
Amy winced a little when she thought of the bruises blooming on her body from the various stones. Not to mention the physical pain of releasing so much magic. She had never actually used her magic before even if she had always believed it existed in her. She didn’t know it would be so painful. Still, she was not deterred. This was her life’s calling.
“We will not be going out into the woods to train again just yet,” he assured her when he saw her reaction. Then as if it reminded him of something, he reached into his pocket and pulled a small vile filled with purple liquid and pushed it toward her.
“Drink that,” Sheldon told her.
“It’s a healing potion.” Sheldon stayed up half the night making it because every time he closed his eyes, he saw that poor girl’s bloody face asking him to throw another stone at her. It haunted him in a way that none of the other students ever had. Those intoxicating green eyes still haunted him.
“Thank you, Master,” Amy said. She didn’t like being under anyone’s thumb, but she would tolerate it for now. The training that she would receive here would make sure she would never have to be under anyone’s thumb again. Once she was fully prepared as a mage in her own right, she could have a home like this out in the forest far away from everyone.
Amy took the potion and drank it. She was worried that maybe Sheldon had poisoned her when the heat hit her throat. It felt unlike anything she had ever felt before. It was warm and pleasant in her veins as it spread across her entire body. She smiled when all of the pain faded and then disappeared entirely. The bruises faded on her skin and the cuts sealed shut.
“I could have used that last night,” Amy muttered. She slept fine out of pure exhaustion, but the pain hadn’t been pleasant at all.
Sheldon nodded stiffly, but did not explain that he had never given a student a healing potion unless their life was in danger or their illness had nothing to do with training. He was a firm believer that the pain was part of the process, and he hoped that Amy did not get used to this coddling.
“Eat,” Sheldon commanded as he shoved the food he brought over to her.
Amy picked up some of the bread and spread some of the apple jam on it. She wondered if Sheldon made the jam himself. Maybe there was a spell for jam. Sheldon’s home was very clean, as was this shed, and she saw no servants. It must be magic that kept his home.
“You will read all of these books, and you will not leave this shed until you have read every word,” Sheldon told her. “I don’t care how long it takes you.”
“I have to read all of them? There must be a hundred books here,” she complained.
“There are twenty-seven, and they contain the base knowledge that you will need to even begin. I told you that you will earn my training by training. If you don’t want to do what I ask of you, then you are not welcome here,” he growled. Sheldon was tired of students coming here and not willing to undertake the work. He thought this girl was different. The determination on her face sold her to him just as much as the power of her magic had.
“I’ll read all of them, but my education in the castle was quite limited,” Amy admitted. “I don’t even know how to read the runes.”
“But you do know how to read? They are not all in runes,” Sheldon asked with an exasperated sigh.
“Then use the dictionary I have provided. You need to know how to read runes for spell work, so you might as well get started. I’ll be back in a few hours to check on you,” he said before getting up and walking out of the shed.
Amy had no idea that she would spend some much time alone in her studies. Still, she put the kettle on the fire to make some of the tea that she found in the cupboard. Then she finished her breakfast alone while she trudged through page after page of magical theory. It was boring, but she could understand why this is the base that Sheldon started her on.
A few hours later Sheldon knocked on the door again. Amy opened it immediately just to take a break from reading. She had never read so much one day, and her brain felt uncomfortably full.
“I have brought you a snack,” Sheldon muttered as he shoved a small basket of muffins into her hands. They were warm from the oven, and Amy wondered if he spent the morning baking them.
“Thank you,” Amy said. She stepped back to close the door so that she could continue with her work, but Sheldon just took a step inside.
“What progress have you made?” he asked.
“I am still on the first book. As I explained, my education in the castle was limited.”
“Hmm,” Sheldon said. He was torn about helping her because she should really do this on her own. But he still took up the book she was working on and started reading it out loud. Amy went to her notebook and started taking notes just as she had when she was reading on her own.
After an hour, Sheldon stopped reading and handed the book back to her. Then he poured himself a cup of tea from her kettle and sat back down to snack on one of the muffins that the girl had yet to touch.
Amy didn’t join him, but instead picked back up the book to keep reading. Listening to Sheldon was helpful, but she knew that she needed to keep making progress with her own reading. She knew that she wasn’t stupid, but there had never been much time for reading in the castle.
“What word is this?” Amy asked as she shoved the book toward Sheldon. If he was here, he might as well help. It saved her from having to look it up.
“Incantation. It means a spell that is spoken,” he told her.
Amy nodded and went right back into the book. She was waiting for Sheldon to leave, but he only finished his muffin and pulled out a different book to study. She thought back to Howard saying that he had become more and more isolated after his friend moved into town. Perhaps he just wanted to be near someone else. Still, he was quiet, so she didn’t mind the company.
When the light started to fade, Sheldon stood, pulled a candle from one of the hidden alcoves and lit it. Then he refreshed both of their cups of tea before settling back down to read. Amy had never been served like this. She thought that she would probably be required to do chores for her keep, but instead, he was bringing her muffins and refilling her tea. And other than hitting her with the stones the day before and his tendency to sometimes shout or slam doors, he wasn’t so bad. She wondered why the other students left and what, if any, horrors lie ahead.
Amy stomach growled and she realized that she hadn’t eaten since breakfast other than the half a muffin she picked at.
“Would you like to stay for supper?” Amy asked.
“We talked about this,” Sheldon snipped.
“Sir? I’m hungry and I’m going to prepare some food,” Amy explained. She wasn’t trying to be a servant. She was trying to be good host. Of course, she had never had a space that was her own, so maybe she was doing it wrong.
“Oh. No. I have outstayed my welcome,” he said before getting up and leaving without any explanation.
“He’s so strange,” Amy whispered to herself. Then she set about making herself a nice little dinner. Then the rest of the night was spent reading.
Chapter 3: A New Spell
Amy is working hard on learning magic.
The next day, Amy expected Sheldon to return, but she didn’t see him once the entire day. It was raining and she listened to the little pat pat pat noise of it hitting her roof while she just continued to read.
It was actually three days until Amy saw Sheldon again. His cottage was quiet, and Amy wondered if he went into town and left her alone. That was until he startled her while she was wandering the woods.
“I told you not to leave your shed until you finished reading. Did you finish?” He growled.
“No, sir. I was only on a trip to relieve myself,” she explained. She never assumed that she wasn’t allowed to leave the shed for that purpose. Besides, she always studied better after a little walk in the woods. Though she felt bad about being behind on the reading. Sheldon was being so generous with his time and food and space. She didn’t want to anger him.
“You’ll join me for dinner in my home tonight. I have business in town next week, so I want to start you on basic practice drills before I leave,” he said stiffly. Amy wondered if she was in trouble for having not finished the reading yet. She was getting better at it, but it was still a struggle.
“Yes, sir,” she told him.
“Well, go back about your business,” he added awkwardly about where she was headed. Amy nodded and went on her way.
Later that night, Amy knocked on Sheldon’s door. It was the first time she was in his cottage since that first day. Though she was careful not to take his place by the fire.
“Do you need any help with the food?” Amy asked.
Sheldon just grunted and nodded his head toward the full serving tray. Amy picked it up and took it to the table. She wondered if there were any servants, so she asked about it.
“A man comes to help me with the horses, but that is all. I don’t like having strangers in my home, and I learned to cook and clean on my own long ago,” he informed her. She wondered why she was the exception. He barely knew her, but this was the second time she had come into his home. Perhaps students were allowed every now and again.
“I’m happy to help out if you need anything,” Amy said with a kind smile. She had never heard of a man doing the cooking and cleaning in his own home. Of course there were male servants in the castle, but only a man who couldn’t afford servants would even attempt to do these things in his own home.
“I can handle it, and you have a job here.” Sheldon joined her at the table and started helping himself to the food and gestured that Amy should do the same. “Are you implying that my house is not up to your standards?” he added in a growl.
“No. Of course not. You keep a beautiful home, but everyone needs help sometimes.”
“I don’t, and you can speak about helping me when you can manage to get your work done. I was through all of those books I gave you in four days. Have you even finished half?”
“No, sir,” Amy admitted. She looked down while her face burned with shame.
“That’s what I thought. Now, eat so we can get started on some spells,” Sheldon commanded.
“We can start now,” Amy offered. She wanted to prove to Sheldon that she was serious about this work. She was only here at his discretion, so Amy wanted to prove herself to him
“You have to eat,” he told her firmly.
Amy nodded and ate her fill. She even had to turn down thirds when he offered, and she wondered if she might be too full to even work on magic. Then they went outside where there was only a hint of light left.
“We will attempt to start a small fire,” he informed her. “I will give you some other spells to practice without me, but this one will only be attempted in my presence. Do you understand?” Sheldon thought of the strong magic that resided within the girl, and how dangerous even a simple fire spell could be in her untrained hands. Still, this was one that he often started new students out with because it was useful for a number of reasons.
“I hope you have read enough to understand how spells channel the magic inside you to manipulate the physical world around you,” Sheldon said. “Normally, I would wait until you had finished the reading all the way through before I start you on any spell work, but since I am leaving you for a few days, I wanted you to have a little bit to practice with.”
Amy nodded. His tone was a little softer now that they were outside than it had been inside the cottage.
“Close your eyes,” he instructed. Amy looked unsure, but did after only the briefest hesitation. “Good. Now picture fire in the pit. Got it?” When Amy nodded, Sheldon walked close to Amy and quietly muttered the spell into her ear.
“Blaze,” Amy said as she imagined the fire flaring up. The word would not work without the intent, so Amy focused on the flame in her mind’s eye. Then she peeked her left eye open. There was no flame in the pit. Not even smoke.
“Try again,” Sheldon ordered. No one ever managed it on their first attempt, and he expected nothing different from Amy. They would be lucky if the ground was even warm by the time they went to bed tonight.
Amy nodded and closed her eyes. Again she imagined the fire burning in the pit before she spoke the word that should bring it to life. Just as before, nothing happened. Sheldon only told her to try again.
“I’m tired,” Amy complained after an hour of attempting to conjure flames that would not come.
“Do you want to quit?” Sheldon asked. It was a shock that she wanted to end this because he assumed that he would need to order her to bed if she was not successful.
“No. I only do not understand why it feels as if I have been washing linens all day when I have only been standing still and speaking the same word over and over again,” Amy wondered out loud.
“You are still channelling your magic even if it is not focused enough to actually light the fire. If you do not wish to stop for the evening, close your eyes and try again. It is dark, and we need a fire.”
Amy nodded and repeated the single word again. Then again. Then again. The flame in her mind felt weaker, so Amy took a cleansing breath before she pictured it even bigger and stronger. “Blaze,” she repeated again in a yell when she felt a flame big and hot enough that she automatically took a step back. Her foot caught on a rock and she fell to the ground. She only sat there and watched Sheldon put out the fire that rose at least ten feet in the air.
“I see why you have to be around when I attempt that one,” Amy joked weakly. Then she stood and dusted off her hands. The fire was now out. “May I try again?” Amy asked.
“I believe that’s enough for tonight,” Sheldon assured her. He worried that she might over exert herself. To produce a flame that big, she must have channeled a significant amount of magic. She needed sleep.
“I can do one more,” Amy tried again.
“It’s enough for tonight. We will try again tomorrow. Goodnight,” Sheldon said cooly and then he walked into his cottage without another word.
Amy went back into her shed and lit a candle to try to read. She hoped that Sheldon was not angry with her for being so behind in her studies. She was going to make up the lost time for him if she had to read all night and do spell work with him all day.
That’s exactly what Amy did for the next several days. She only made time to eat when Sheldon insisted, and otherwise, she studied her books at night on as little sleep as she could manage. Then she mastered the fire spell under Sheldon’s tutelage even if every time she did it, it made her feel more and more weak. The massive headache she had maintained for several days did not matter because when she looked at Sheldon and he gave her an approving nod, she knew she was doing the right thing.
“This is one of the spells that I want you to practice when I leave tomorrow,” Sheldon told her. “You can use it to water my plants, but do try to keep it away from the chickens.” He worried with Amy’s strong, unpracticed magic, she might flood his land. Still, this spell was unlikely to do much harm. Especially when she had a bit of experience with it.
“Close your eyes and imagine a light rain localized over that tree,” Sheldon told her. Amy nodded, and Sheldon wondered if she was okay. The nod was slow as if she was already incased in water. Still, he decided to give her the spell.
“Aqua,” Amy whispered. Nothing happened, but even if Amy had a better grasp on how to do one spell, that didn’t mean that she could do another the first time. She weaved a little, but closed her eyes and said it again.
“Are you feeling alright? Did you eat breakfast this morning?” Sheldon asked. He had been packing for his trip into town, so he had not spent any time with Amy before they went out to practice spells.
Amy nodded even though she had only eaten a small apple while she kept her nose in a book. With all of the extra time she had put in, she was more than halfway through the pile of books Sheldon had left her with. She knew she would have them all done and all of these spells mastered by the time he came back. They would move on and Sheldon would be proud of her.
“It’s of the utmost importance that you eat and sleep proper amounts,” he warned her. Given how pale and weak she looked, he was going to tell her to take the afternoon off. One of the books explained how important it was to take care of oneself when performing magic, and he wondered for a moment if she had read that one yet.
She only nodded before she closed her eyes again. She said the word again, and collapsed into a heap on the ground as an entire storm opened suddenly from the previously cloudless sky.
Chapter 4: A New Lesson
Amy learns the dangers of too much magic.
Amy opened her eyes to the familiar ceiling of her shed. Her head ached and she felt so weak that she wasn’t sure she could move, but she tried to sit up anyway. A shallow groan came out of her mouth.
“Here,” Sheldon said as she propped her up a little on some pillows. He put a cup in her hand.
“What happened?” Amy groaned.
“You worked yourself too hard. Your body can’t handle using magic without food and sleep. That’s why you are kept stocked with supplies and a nice bed. Drink,” he commanded.
“What is it? A healing potion?”
“Close. It’s tea. You will receive no healing potion right now,” he told her.
“I know that I should be punished, but my entire body aches. Can’t you please help me?” Amy asked.
“Your body can’t handle any magic right now. You can’t have any potion. You need rest and food,” he commanded. “Just drink the tea and then sleep so you can gather your strength.”
“Can you hand me that book?” Amy asked.
“No. Drink the tea,” he told her firmly. “You have not been eating or resting in recent days, correct?”
Amy looked down in embarrassment. She had no idea that she has pushed herself so far. She had only been trying to stay caught up and live up to Sheldon’s expectations.
“That’s what I thought. You must care for yourself. It doesn’t matter the pace you learn magic, but you must do it right,” Sheldon told her.
“You were upset that I wasn’t reading fast enough.”
Sheldon let out a long breath. “I did not want you worrying about me and the state of my home. I wasn’t upset that you were not reading fast enough. I only wished to point out that you have your own place here. I’m sorry that I was too harsh with you. Your job now is to rest and eat and take care of yourself so that your magic can bloom.”
“I can still study,” Amy offered. Though she wasn’t completely sure that she could. She felt too weak to hold the large tome that she had last been working on, and her vision was a little blurry. She had no idea that magic could do that to a person. She felt like she had been run over by a horse.
“You will kill yourself if you don’t rest. You came to me to teach you magic, and you will listen to me or you will leave. I have studied magic my entire life, and I am very good at it. You do not know better than me,” he shouted at her. Then he felt bad about yelling at someone who was so ill, but she did not seem to understand how close she came to killing herself. If he hadn’t been there when she collapsed, she would probably be dead now. He worried that he failed her as a teacher. He found himself caring about her more than he had any other students who had come his way.
“I’m sorry. Please let me stay. Please teach me,” Amy cried.
“Shh,” Sheldon hushed. “Of course you can stay. You obviously need more training so that you do not hurt yourself again. But you need to listen to me. It will be at least a week until you are able to perform magic again, and it’s of the utmost importance that you do not try until then.”
“So, I will just lie in bed until you return from town?” Amy asked.
“I have cancelled my trip into town. And you will be able to get up out of bed in a day or two. Please rest until then,” he told her.
“You don’t need to cancel your trip on my account,” Amy assured him.
Sheldon just sighed. Again, it was clear that the girl had no idea how ill she really was. He pat her knee through the blanket and leaned back in the chair. It seemed that she had not gotten to the book about where magic comes from within someone.
“Can you read to me?” Amy asked.
“Not any of these books, but I have a book of fairy tales you might enjoy. I’ll be back in a moment, but please do not get up while I am gone. Also, finish your tea,” he told her softly. It was the sweetest he had been to her since her arrival. It was jarring enough that Amy just nodded and sipped the hot tea until he returned. Then she listened to him read her stories until she drifted back to sleep.
Sheldon did not go into town to visit his friends because he wanted to be nearby to watch Amy for at least a few hours a day. She mostly slept, but when she was awake, they shared meals that he brought her and he read to her. After the first day, he read her sections of the magic books he supplied because he didn’t want her to feel like she was falling even more behind.
“I should have had you read me all of the books,” Amy said with a smile as she lie propped up on her pillows when Sheldon closed one of the tomes for the day. “I understand it all a great deal more when you read it to me.”
“Let’s put down the magic for now. We should go for a short walk. It’s important for you to move and get fresh air for you to heal,” he offered.
“I can get out of bed?” Amy asked. She didn’t try to conceal her excitement.
“Not for too long. We don’t want you to overdo it,” he said. Then he offered her his hand to help her up. She was still in her dress, and he made a mental note to track her down a nightgown and a dressing gown when he was next in town. It could not be comfortable to sleep in the same dress that she was in all day.
Sheldon opened the door to the shed for Amy, and he thought she was beautiful when walked out into the light. She looked like she truly appreciated the fresh air, and Sheldon wanted to embrace her. Then he shook his head to snap himself out of it. She was his student, so even if he wanted to be with a woman, she was off limits.
Chapter 5: A New Tale
Sheldon and Amy are learning more about each other. Also, Amy learns something about herself.
The pair took a stroll around the garden area of Sheldon’s cottage. They were quiet the whole way. They spent so many hours in either quiet or with Sheldon reading to Amy. She realized that she knew very little about the man with whom she spent so much time. Perhaps she would sneak him a question every now and again.
“I’m tired,” Amy admitted after they neared the end of the loop. Sheldon hooked his arm through Amy’s to steady her as they headed back to the shed so she could rest again. It was as close as he had been to her physically since her carried her unconscious body back into the shed when he was terrified she was dead or dying from his carelessness. He ignored the joy he felt and the quickening of his heart at the contact.
“I’ll be back with supper,” Sheldon promised after he returned her to bed. Her color was better and he wanted to take her on an even longer walk the next day.
“Who taught you to cook?” Amy asked him. He really was very good at it. Possibly better than she, and she had done a fair share of food preparation in the castle in her years.
“My grandmother,” Sheldon admitted. “I was a sickly child, so I stayed inside a great deal. She taught me to cook so that I had something practical to do other than keep my nose in books. A number of her lessons also made me a better potion maker.”
Amy nodded. She never would have guessed that he was ever sickly. He certainly wasn’t now. The wizard’s robes he wore did not show off the strong muscles underneath, but Amy knew first hand that he was quite strong and sturdy. She wanted to squeeze his arm when he had it looped through hers because he felt so strong.
“Get some sleep,” Sheldon told her. Then he left her alone to rest in her shed.
As the days went on, Amy started gathering more and more strength. Her walks with Sheldon started going beyond his garden, and since they were spending a great deal of time together, they were also learning more about each other. Amy realized that Sheldon was a brilliant man, but just another man all the same. He had interests beyond magic, so she learned that he liked playing games when he visited his friends and he enjoyed perfecting his apple jam recipe, which Amy agreed was the best she ever tasted. Mostly he spent his time alone reading anything and everything he could get his hands on.
“When did your friend leave?” Amy asked.
“Oh. Leonard left about a year and a half ago now. He and his wife actually lived just over that hill for a couple years before that. We were like a family, but they decided that they wanted to live closer to town. I go visit a few times a year,” Sheldon explained.
“That’s all?” Amy asked.
“What do you mean?”
“You miss your friends and they live close to town. Why do you not also live close to town?”
“It’s hard to do my work close to town. It can be dangerous to take on untrained students when you are playing with things like fire and water. I stayed in town once to train a student who needed to be close to his ill mother and nearly burned down an entire row of shops. Here, my students are likely to do so much damage.”
“Do you have a lot of students?”
“Some. When I have time to train someone. Though more than half look at the pile of books and leave. They want to jump right into the magic, and as you have seen first hand, that’s not a good idea. I also do not baby my students. Magic hurts and I do not hide that.”
“Why don’t you take a wife for the times when you are alone? I know you do not need the help with cooking or cleaning, but you must get lonely up here.”
“I have never had much interest in those things. I would rather be lonely all my days than be miserable with a wife who I do not love. And as you said, I get by just fine up here alone. Why don’t you take a husband? Not many women want to work for themselves,” Sheldon said, turning the tables on Amy. He had learned a little of her life before she came to him, including that she was a curious child, which was frowned upon given her expected role of maid in the castle.
“I don’t ever want to be married. I don’t want to be under anyone’s jurisdiction. I want to be my own woman, and I perhaps want to live in my own cottage like yours and keep my own garden and do magic to help people,” Amy told him boldly. It was all she had ever thought of since she was twelve, and now that she was grown and studying under Sheldon, she was closer to it than ever.
“Did your parents never have a happy life?”
Amy wondered how to tell Sheldon more about her childhood. She decided to just be honest about it because it was easier than making things up.
“My parents were never married. My mother was a maid in the castle until she died last year. My father… my father is the king,” Amy admitted.
Sheldon bowed in front of Amy. “Princess,” he said in a hushed and awed tone. Amy was sure he was teasing her.
“We both know I am no princess. I was never supposed to be born, and no one ever told me that I was the king’s daughter. Though his nose is perfectly on my face.” Amy rubbed her nose self-consciously. She knew that her eyes were also the exact color of the king’s. “I heard my mother speaking to the king one night when he visited our room. I pretended to be asleep. He was threatening her to never reveal the secret after she tried to get him to use his influence to get me magical training. He told her that I was nothing special and that he would do nothing for me despite the connection. It was the only time he ever admitted that I was his daughter. Then he threatened to throw us on the street if she ever brought it up again.”
Sheldon only nodded thoughtfully at her words. He had never been a great fan of the king, but this seemed harsh even for him. To refuse his own daughter training when she wanted nothing more. Though, he did not doubt her story at all. Now that he looked carefully at her, she looked like the king in a way that led Sheldon to believe that the secret was out no matter what the king wanted. Though, Amy was much more beautiful than the features suggested on the king’s face.
“That was when I decided that I wanted to be my own woman, and I have worked hard to do that for the last twelve years. Here I am: training under a master of the craft and doing well as long as I am not hurting myself in the process,” Amy explained. Then she reached out to touch a flower in the garden. It perked up even though Amy was not trying at all to do magic. All the same, she winced in pain as he knees buckled a little and Sheldon scooped her back in his arms to carry her back to bed.
“I told you no magic,” he scolded her.
“I was not trying. The flower was beautiful and I only wished to touch it.”
“You are one of the most powerful mages I have ever met, Amy. Even I do not fully understand the extent of your magic, but until you are healed, you need to be extra careful,” he explained. Then he opened the door to her shed and placed her back in bed.
“I do not believe that you have done much harm to yourself, but I do believe that you should rest for the rest of the day. I would hate for you to have a setback.”
“Of course,” Amy agreed. She trusted Sheldon more than she had ever trusted anyone in her life other than her mother. If he wanted her to rest, she was going to. Besides, she knew that magic was not supposed to hurt like that unless something was wrong. It could be painful, but it wasn’t supposed to feel like it tore something inside of her.
Sheldon did not leave Amy to sleep alone. Instead he took the chair that he always sat in and brought it close to her bed. He took her hand in his and sat looking at her as if she might suddenly faint again.
“I feel fine,” Amy assured him.
“I’m sure you are fine.”
“May I ask you a question?”
“Of course,” Sheldon said.
“Am I really as powerful as you said?”
“Yes. You must see that. It usually takes weeks before a student can light even a candle. You set a fire that rose ten feet in the air the first night you tried. It took even me two days to light a fire. Your power is why you must be so careful to take care of yourself. As you practice, you will be able to take that rushing river of magic in you and control it down to a little stream. Until then, it’s even more important for you to listen to your body when it tells you it is tired or hungry.”
Amy nodded her head. Then she asked Sheldon for a cup of tea before wondering if she should be asking him for anything. He was still the teacher and she was still the student. Still, he stood without any hesitation to make her a cup of tea. Amy thought that even though they were student and teacher that they might also be friends now.
Chapter 6: A New Chance
Amy learns some new spells now that she's up to doing magic again.
“Let’s try some magic,” Sheldon said cheerfully when he knocked on Amy’s door a few days later. He thought she was probably ready the day before, but he wanted to be sure. This was not only due to his extra care for her, but also because it was also better to be cautious about it.
“Do you really think I’m ready?”
“Only one way to find out,” Sheldon said. “Let’s work on more water spells.”
When Amy stepped out of her shed, Sheldon whispered “aqua” and a small cloud appeared above Amy’s head and a light rain fell on her. He laughed, and Amy wondered at the sound. She had never heard something so pure in her life. His laugh was only the sound of him having fun. He wasn’t trying to please anyone else or play any games. She smiled at him despite the water soaking her hair. She was sure she had never seen him so happy, which wasn’t saying much because he usually seemed pretty grumpy, but she was glad to see some joy from him.
“Arid,” he whispered and a warm, dry breeze came out of nowhere and dried Amy’s hair and dress again for her.
“Oh. Teach me that one. I could use it to dry my hair after bathing,” Amy begged.
“Maybe next. First, I have a garden to water, and you are going to help me,” Sheldon assured her.
The pair walked into the garden, and Amy watched Sheldon as he set a light rain over some of his more fragile flowers. Amy wasn’t allowed near them until she had a better grasp on her own magic. It was also helpful for her to see Sheldon in action. He hadn’t shown off his own skill to her much yet, but Amy was impressed that his magic seemed to take him no real effort. She wanted to reach that point herself. When they got to some of the trees that could handle a real downpour, Sheldon let Amy get it a try.
“Aqua,” Amy muttered, and she frowned when nothing happened. Sheldon told her she managed the spell when she fainted, so she thought she might have to rein it in a little, but it should work. Maybe her magic was still broken.
“Clear your mind,” Sheldon guided. He put his hand on her back and that cleared none of her mind. She could only think of the warm hand and the man it was attached to. Still, she closed her eyes and repeated the spell. Nothing happened.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said kindly as his hand stroked down her shoulder to the small of her back. He was trying to be comforting, but he was distracting her a little. She almost giggled at the warm feeling in her stomach from the touch.
“I’m not afraid,” Amy said.
“It’s natural to be afraid of your own power when you have hurt yourself, but I promise you that you have full control right now. You are well rested and you will be able to do this.”
“Just step back a little,” Amy ordered. She didn’t want to try again with Sheldon touching her.
He did and this time Amy closed her eyes to focus. She felt a jolt of magic come out of her and then the drops on her head. It was too much rain for what she was trying to do, but she managed to make it fall all the same. It was like with the fire. She only needed to control the amount of magic flowing through her.
“Arid,” Sheldon said as he pushed the rain cloud away. “Again,” he told Amy.
Amy closed her eyes and started another storm. After a few times, she managed to keep the storms localized to exactly where she wanted them.
“Want to start on Arid?” Sheldon asked.
“After lunch,” Amy said. She was warn out from both her recovery and from attempting to perfect her water spell.
“Good,” Sheldon told her with a smile. He wanted to put his arm around her as they walked back to her shed, but he kept his hands off of her. He wasn’t usually so touchy with his students, but Amy was different in so many ways that he couldn’t even begin to understand just yet.
“I got another book from my friend in town. It was brought up by post yesterday, and I think you would enjoy it,” Sheldon explained after they arrived at her shed. “I’ll make us some sandwiches while you lie down and then I’ll read a little bit of it to you.”
“I don’t need you to do that,” Amy assured him. She could prepare her own food and she only needed a little rest.
“It’s a story that reminded me of you. It’s a girl who was a servant in her stepmother’s home and then she goes to a ball where she meets a handsome prince. I don’t want to ruin the end for you, but I think you’ll like it,” he promised.
“It’s another storybook?” Amy asked. Her interest was piqued by this news. After she revealed that she enjoyed the stories about princesses and their adventures, Sheldon had suddenly started getting several of them sent to him by a friend in town. She was sure he was ordering them for her to read or for him to read to her while she recovered. She hoped that a few more would come in even though she really should be spending her time reading her magic books now.
“I’ll be back soon with my book and with lunch,” he told her. Then he left to go into his cottage. Amy walked into her shed and lay down on her bed. She wasn’t sure she needed to lie down, but she could tell that Sheldon was glad of her to be taking care of herself. It was almost as big a part of proving herself worthy of his training than the actual magic work itself.
After lunch and reading, Sheldon and Amy went back out to continue some spell work. Amy accidentally dried up the entire stream while she practiced Arid. She hoped that she didn’t kill any of Sheldon’s plants with it and stayed out doing water spells to replenish the water she whisked away until after dark.
“One day you will be able to control the range of your magic even with new spells. Most people have to work to make their magic stronger in the beginning. For you it’s a little different, but you will have full control over your magic,” Sheldon assured her as he walked her back to her shed with a magical flame in his hand to guide them through the dark.
“Can you teach me how to do that?” Amy asked as she gestured to the flame that was burning with no fuel in Sheldon’s bare hand.
“Not now. Something like this requires much more control than you have yet. I will one day,” he promised.
Amy still held out her hand and imagine a similar flame in her own hand. She whispered “Blaze” but only shouted in pain when she burned her hand.
“Amy,” Sheldon as he let his own flame go out and inspected her hand by the light of the moon. He quietly said “frigid” and cold spread across Amy’s hand. It felt a little better, but still hurt.
“I’ll give you no potion for that because I just warned you not to try it,” he growled at her. As difficult as it was to see her in pain, he refused to let her play with her own safety. If she needed to be in pain for a day or two he was willing to make her heal on her own to learn.
They parted at Amy’s shed and she was sure she heard Sheldon say something like “stubborn girl” as he walked back to his cottage. Amy didn’t think it was her fault that she wanted to know how to do everything already. If only her father had gotten her training when she wanted it as a child, she wouldn’t be so far behind now.
Chapter 7: A New Feeling
Sheldon is preparing to leave for a few days.
Sheldon developed a race for himself and Amy to do for fun and to improve Amy’s spell casting. Once she had a basic handle on Blaze, Aqua, Arid, and Frigid, he set up a small obstacle course where they each had to light a fire, put it out with water, dry everything completely, fill a bucket with water, and then freeze the bucket.
“Of course you can do that faster than I can,” Amy complained when she saw what he had set up. He studied all of this for his entire life. He fully mastered Aqua at four years of age. Amy had been doing it for three weeks.
“We can go back to practice drills,” Sheldon offered knowing full well that Amy was starting to hate him a little from him yelling “again” at her a hundred times in a row until she perfectly performed each spell with very little effort.
“Okay. I’ll try it, but you can’t punish me if I lose.”
“I can and I will,” he joked, but he actually thought that they were relatively equal on this. These were spells that Amy knew frontwards and backwards. Sheldon’s mind was full of a thousand spells that each took up their own space.
“Really?” Amy asked.
“No, but I will buy you a bag of candy when I go into town if you win. If you lose, I will not bring you any candy,” he teased. Since Amy was doing better, he had rescheduled his trip into town. It would only be a few days instead of a whole week, but Amy was glad he was going. Not that she wouldn’t miss him, but she didn’t want him to be lonely with only her as company.
“Not any?” Amy asked with big eyes. She was just teasing Sheldon back, but he looked down and muttered something about “maybe a little bit.” She smiled and she got ready to start the race.
“Ready?” Sheldon asked.
“Go,” he shouted as they both raced to perform the tasks he set out. Sheldon thought he also had a bit of a disadvantage because he also had to carefully watch Amy as she went through all of the tasks. She was doing well, but he still had a bit of a lead.
“Arid,” Amy yelled in excitement and accidentally dried Sheldon’s bucket out too. She didn’t mean to cheat, but she was also sure he would call her out as doing so. Instead, he just kept filling his bucket with a small rain cloud.
Amy focused on trying to get her bucket filled first when her rain cloud let off a little bolt of lightning. She jumped back in fear. That had never happened before.
“You’re focusing too hard. Just take a breath and stay back. It will be fine,” he told her while he laughed. He was laughing so hard that his cloud went a little off center. It wasn’t filling as fast as it should, and it cost him the lead he had.
“Frigid,” Amy yelled at her bucket. It froze solid and so did the wet grass under her feet. When she jumped up and down in celebration, she slipped and fell down. That just made Sheldon laugh even harder and he fell to the ground as well.
“I won,” Amy shouted as she put her hands up in the air in victory.
“One bag of candy for you,” Sheldon told Amy. Then he waved his hand to clean up the buckets and the water and the ice. Then he got to his feet. “I should prepare to leave first thing in the morning.”
“Have a good trip,” Amy told him as she went back to her shed to work on studying. She was close enough to finishing the books that Sheldon gave her that she was sure she would be done by his return. Plus she learned that she very much enjoyed reading.
“You will come have dinner with me tonight. We need to speak about what you will work on while I’m gone,” he told her.
Amy was glad that she would get to spend a little more time with Sheldon before he was leaving. She was going to miss him, and at one point she thought about asking him if she could join him. Still, she didn’t want to interrupt his time with his friends, so she did not pursue it.
Amy knocked on his door at dinnertime and he welcomed her into his home. She looked at his trunk of belongings and worried he was going to leave her for longer than he promised. It seemed rather full for only a couple days in town. Why was she so worried about missing him? Yes, they were friends, but Amy had left all of her friends in the castle without half as much worry as she had for Sheldon. It was uncomfortable to realize that her attachment to him was growing stronger. Maybe this break would be good for her. Let her detach a little from her feelings for him. It was just that he was so sweet and funny and she had always thought he was handsome. He was the single best friend she had ever had, and the more time she spent with him the less she wanted her own cottage on a hill with her own garden. Staying in that flimsy shed for the rest of her life sometimes sounded like the best thing the world. She didn’t like the change in her heart.
“My friends insist on me bringing them all potions. They are helpless without me,” Sheldon said as he looked at her inspecting his trunk. It brought her back to the moment.
“You are very good at potion making,” Amy agreed. She had taken a couple healing potions from him when her own power had gotten the upper hand and injured her. He had fixed a broken arm for her just the week before. It worked like new now.
“So, I have this book of plant reviving spells for you to play with while I am gone. There is nothing dangerous here, so you should be able to just give them a try. If you get a little overzealous with them, the worst that will happen is that a path will become overgrown. I know a lot of what we have done is just manipulating the natural world, but that is a good place for you to explore your power,” he said.
Sheldon handed Amy a smile pile of books.
“What are the others?” Amy asked as she looked at them. Perhaps it was more magical theory now that she was getting better at understanding the basics.
“A book on the basics of defensive magic that I want you to read, but not practice. And another book that I thought you might enjoy,” he explained with a little blush. Amy saw that it was another book about a princess that she could read just for fun.
“Thank you,” Amy told him honestly. She liked all of the stories he gave her about the princess meeting the prince and gaining her rightful place in some castle in a far off land. She was no rightful princess, but sometimes she wondered what her life might have been like if her father claimed her as a legitimate heir. Her half siblings didn’t have to gather every penny that they could find, but they would also never be allowed to study magic. Sometimes she thought she got the better deal.
The pair shared dinner before Sheldon offered Amy a handshake since he thought he would not see her again until he returned home.
“I have asked Gregory to check in on you while I am gone. Otherwise I want you to read and do at least one set of drills a day until I return,” Sheldon said about the man who lived a few miles away who helped with the horses.
“I’ll be fine, and your garden will be in very good shape when you return,” Amy promised. She wanted to hug Sheldon, but he was only her teacher. She again thought that this trip would be good for her to get her feelings under control again. Though as she walked out Sheldon’s door, she almost got the impression he wanted her to stay with him. Instead, he closed the door while she looked back.
Chapter 8: A New Conversation
Sheldon is off on his journey, and Amy is trying to enjoy the time alone.
Sheldon woke before the sun, and part of him hated to leave his cottage and the girl who was likely sleeping in the little shack on his lawn. Still, he promised his friends he would go visit them, and he thought that perhaps it would be good to be in town. Besides he owed Amy a bag of candy and he still wanted to procure her something more comfortable to sleep in. All in all, it was only a few days, so he climbed onto his horse and set off towards town.
Amy woke in her shed and set about making her breakfast. It was a strange feeling to know that she was completely on her own all day. She could go for a walk or she could read or she could go freeze an entire small pond if she chose to. Even in the castle, she never had this kind of freedom. Here, Sheldon didn’t keep her to a strict schedule, and she was always permitted to say that she needed a break for food or sleep or even just for a walk in the woods. Still, when that break was over, she was expected to start working hard again.
Sheldon was good enough that Amy knew he would be well aware if she did nothing the whole time he was gone, but she could still go lie on some grass and read. That’s what she decided to do. Amy picked up the book on defensive magic and went outside with a blanket to spread out on the grass.
Sheldon’s trip into town was uneventful if not a little boring. He knocked on the door of his friends’ home, and they greeted him warmly.
“I’m upset that you are only visiting us for two days. We were promised a full week,” Penny said.
“Don’t say that. Two days is the correct amount of Sheldon,” Leonard teased. The two were like brothers and Leonard’s fond smile betrayed his words. He missed his friend, and hugged him tightly.
“I have a student who needs my care,” Sheldon told them. He tried not to grin when he thought of Amy. He hoped she was doing well and working hard despite his absence.
“A student who needs your care? What kind of student?” Penny asked.
“She's—“ he started.
“It’s a woman. Interesting. Continue,” Penny interrupted. She was always worried about Sheldon up there all alone in the forest. She wanted to hear more about this student who needed his care and made him smile and blush. Perhaps she was also the one fond of princess stories because Penny knew that Sheldon had not requested all of the princess stories that she could locate for himself. Her husband looked at her with his head cocked because he didn’t see what Penny saw. Not yet anyway.
“She’s a girl,” Sheldon told them.
“A girl? How old?” Penny asked.
“Twenty-four.” Sheldon said.
“That is older than I am and only four years younger than you,” Penny pointed out. She suspected that Sheldon framed this woman that way to shift her way of thinking. It wasn’t working. Sheldon might think that Penny was not a smart as he, but she always saw things he didn’t.
“Anyway, she came to me by way of the castle. She was a maid there until recently, but she left in hopes of finding someone to teach her magic,” he explained.
“A maid in the castle? I cannot imagine that she could afford you unless she some wealthy relative suddenly left her a fortune,” Leonard joked.
“No. No wealthy relatives,” Sheldon told them even though that wasn’t exactly true. Still it was not as though the king had financed her education. “She and I have an arrangement due to her immense power.”
Penny wondered at his phrasing. Sheldon didn’t seem the type to take advantage of this poor girl to get her in his bed. Still, he was clearly quite infatuated with her.
“Is she living in the old shed?” Leonard asked, clearly thinking along the same lines that Penny was.
“Yes. She is my only student right now. That last idiot that came to me left after I put him through one set of practice drills. At least he made it through the reading. Amy has what it takes to make a truly great mage. As long as she takes it easy. She is not the only student I have ever had who almost killed themselves, but she is one of the very few who did it through a combination of extreme power and working too hard,” Sheldon told them. His tone was definitely bragging, but he decided that he was proud of Amy. Nothing he was saying was at all untrue.
Sheldon continued bragging a little about his new student and otherwise just filling his friends in on his life since his last visit. They were both excited that he seemed happy, and as he continued they realized that he only had a little crush on this student. He really was mostly impressed by her power.
Amy stopped reading the book about defensive magic when she finished about half of it. It was interesting and a little terrifying learning about the ways she could protect herself using her power. She was daydreaming about it when a shadow crossed her. She let out a startled little scream at the figure who was standing over her.
“Sorry, miss,” the man said, and Amy realized it was Gregory, the man who helped Sheldon with the horses. Sheldon did say that he was going to have the man come check up on her while he was gone.
“You startled me, Gregory. How are you? Would you like some tea? I was just thinking about making some,” Amy offered.
“That would be lovely, miss,” he said. He followed Amy back to her shed, but waited outside instead of following her in.
“You can come in,” Amy said. She took out some of the cookies she made with Sheldon a few days before. He insisted that each of his students do some cooking with him, but admitted that Amy did not need to continue after he saw her in the kitchen. She was already quite good at it and they agreed her time was better spent elsewhere since she was already skilled at cooking. Apparently that was not a trait shared by most of his students. Still, he let her have most of the cookies they baked together.
Gregory awkwardly shuffled into the shed, but he looked unsure. Amy shoved the cookies at the older man and set down a mug to pour him tea.
“It’s strange being alone. When I lived in the castle there were always people around, and I rarely go a day without seeing my master now. He was pretty hands off in the first days of my being here, but it seems like we spend all day together now.”
“I hardly think he minds,” Gregory said as he helped himself to a cookie.
“Oh. I believe he does. I hear at least once a day that he misses having time to read before I showed up as a sad orphan on his doorstep,” Amy told him. She did feel bad when she took up a whole day of his.
“No offense, miss, but you don’t see how he looks at you when you are focused on doing a spell. I can’t imagine that he’s ever regretted a moment with you.”
Amy wondered at Gregory’s comment. Was there any chance that Sheldon was even remotely as fond of her as she was of him? She wasn’t sure, but it gave her a new hope that lit a tiny fire in her and made her feel a little funny. It made her want something she had never wanted before: love.
Sheldon managed not to speak about Amy too much more to his friends. Instead, he spent his time playing games with them and generally being social. All the while, he missed his student. He thought about her often and sometimes Penny caught him and teased him. Still, Sheldon worked to make sure that Leonard and Penny did not think he was in love with the girl. That did not make things easy when he decided to ask Penny for a favor.
“I need your assistance procuring a piece of clothing for my student,” Sheldon explained.
“What kind of clothing?”
“Something to sleep in. She only has two old dresses, and I believe she sleeps in them. I cannot imagine that it would be very comfortable,” he admitted.
“That sounds awfully intimate,” Penny mentioned.
“I know, but she is the best student. I wish her comfort. I will likely never see the garment again.”
“I’ll help you,” Penny assured him.
They went down to a shop in town that carried used clothing because that’s where Penny thought they might find something for Amy. Though Sheldon thought he should get her something new, but having something made would take too much time.
“What size is she?” Penny asked as they searched through the garments.
“About your height, but she is curvier,” he explained with a little hand motion as if Penny would not understand what curvy meant.
“Much bigger than me?”
“No. Not bigger. She just has nice hips,” Sheldon said. He didn’t know why those words came out of his mouth. He couldn’t have possibly noticed her body before, and certainly not her hips. Why did he say that? How did, despite feeling embarrassed, he know that it was still true? He felt frustrated with himself. This was a terrible idea and he wanted to leave the shop.
“No. You wanted to get her a gift, and this really is thoughtful,” Penny told him. She looked through a pile of such garments. She found two that seemed to fit Sheldon’s description. She let him pick between the two.
“I’ll take that one,” he said as he pointed to the nicer of the two. It looked as though it had never been worn once. It was sure to cost more than the other, but Sheldon didn’t mind paying. The fabric was soft under his fingers, and he believed that it would be very comfortable for Amy.
“Should I get her a dress?” he asked as he looked at some of the colorful pieces on display.
“That requires a better fit. Perhaps you can buy her a dress when you bring her into town to meet us.”
Sheldon agreed, and they left the store. His purse was a little lighter for the purchase, but he was happy to have the gift to give her upon his return. He also purchased a small bag of sweets to bring her as a prize for their contest.
Amy spent the morning making it snow and then melting the snow she created. It was more fun to play around with the spells than it was to do the same one over and over again. Then she decided to give some of the new plant spells a try. She finished reading the whole book the night before and she was now sitting on the grass in front of Sheldon’s cottage, trying to make it grow.
“Flourish,” she whispered to the grass under her hands. It was the first time that she ever saw a result the first time that she attempted a spell. Unfortunately it did what most of her spells did the first time she tried them, and the grass sprung up around her at least three feet high. Instead of finding a different patch to start over, Amy decided to just grow this one even higher. She said the spell again and it shot up another three feet. Now even if she stood, she would be lost in the grass. Still, she just tried again.
“Miss?” Amy heard from Gregory somewhere outside the towering grass.
“Hello, Gregory,” Amy shouted back.
“I was concerned when I was in the stables and saw grass twenty-five feet in the air,” he explained.
“Yes. I don’t believe I thought about how I would get out of here when I attempted this,” Amy said with a laugh. She wasn’t really scared of being stuck in the absurdly tall grass, but she was still appreciative that Gregory had come along.
The older man laughed and promised he would soon be back with tools to cut down the grass. Amy just waited and continued to grow the grass taller and taller, but now it was in inches instead of feet.
Gregory returned and cut Amy out of the grass. Then she helped him cut down the rest of grass to return Sheldon’s lawn back to normal. Then the man insisted that he watch while Amy finished her work in case she needed rescuing again. She, in turn, offered him lunch in her shed. Perhaps he would say something else about how Sheldon felt about her.
Chapter 9: A New Sight
Sheldon is home from town. Things don't go quite as expected.
Sheldon could see his home when his horse turned the last bend, and he was relieved to be home. He was relieved that he even still had a home. He left a very powerful but still very untrained mage here to study while he was gone. If he was being honest, he was also relieved to see her standing outside tending to the plants with the spells he left her.
“Hello, Master,” Amy shouted with a friendly wave when he approached. She hated the way her heart leapt when she saw him. Their time apart didn’t do much for her feelings for him. Still, he was back, and she was happy about that. If she was going to be a little in love with him, she might as well enjoy it. He did look very strong and handsome as he rode toward her on his horse.
“Hello, Amy,” Sheldon replied as he climbed down from his horse. He gave the lead to Gregory who was watching Amy tend to the plants. Gregory took the horse to the stable and start to get him settled until Sheldon could come by to continue his care. “I brought you a few gifts,” Sheldon told her.
“Me? You didn’t have to do that,” Amy assured him, but she still put her hands out to receive them.
“I owed you the candy for winning our contest.” Sheldon handed over the small bag of candy and the box holding the nightgown he purchased for her. Then he suddenly worried that the nightgown might be taken the wrong way. It was only supposed to be a gift of comfort because he noticed that she often slept in one of her two old dresses. Still, perhaps it was too intimate a gift. Penny tried to warn him.
Amy took one of the candies and popped it into her mouth. Then she offered the bag to Sheldon. He turned it down because he wished her to enjoy them all.
“More for me,” she joked. Then she turned to the box. When she opened it, she stroked the soft fabric with her fingers. She had never owned such a luxurious item. She couldn’t possibly accept it, and she told Sheldon so as she shoved it back at him.
“I know it’s strange for a man to buy you such an item, but I meant no offense. I only wanted you to be comfortable while you sleep. I kept thinking that you must not be comfortable sleeping in those dresses while you were ill,” he assured her as he handed it back to her.
“I didn’t even think about the appropriateness of the gown. I have never owned something so soft. It must have cost a fortune, and I cannot impose upon your generous nature any more than I have already,” she told him.
“It is not more than I can afford, and I would like you to have it. I only wish that you had it while you were recuperating,” he explained.
“Thank you, sir,” Amy muttered as her cheeks burned. No one in her life until now had ever treated her with such kindness. It was hard to get used to. Still, she decided to take a trip to the stream to get properly cleaned before she put the soft white fabric on her body that night. It didn’t matter if it was getting cold. She now knew how to light a fire to keep herself warm while she cleaned up.
Sheldon went inside his home to unpack and clean up from his trip into town. He was only gone for a couple of days, but he was still surprised by how much he missed Amy. He was very fond of his newest student, but he told himself it was only because of the promise she showed in the magical arts.
Still, once he was done cleaning up, he decided to go for a walk around his garden to see how well her spell work had come along in the last couple of days. The garden was green and well tended. Even the tree he had meant to give an examination because it seemed to be struggling was in perfect condition. That girl really was extraordinary.
Out of the corner of his eye, Sheldon was sure he saw a fire down by the stream. He hurried to go put it out before it could spread and destroy his land. That was until he saw that it was well contained in a fire pit near the stream. Where Amy was washing herself.
She did not seem to notice that he was near as she hummed and ran the water she warmed with the fire over her skin. Sheldon bit his lip hard while he looked at her nude form. He knew without a doubt that he should leave here. That he should run into his cottage and close the door tightly behind himself and forget all of this. Yet, he stood still and watched her. The breath hitched in his throat while he imagined his hands running over her bare skin to clean it and hers running over his skin in return.
Then when Amy stepped from the stream and pulled on the new nightgown, Sheldon almost groaned with feelings that he was positive he had never once felt before. The nightgown fit her perfectly, and the soft white fabric looked so inviting that he almost felt his feet moving toward her before his mind caught up. Once he was aware of what he was doing, he turned and ran for home.
Even when he was safely back in his home, leaning against the door, he couldn’t catch his breath. He was suddenly sure that she had bewitched him somehow. Could she have slipped him a potion to make him feel this way? That wasn’t possible, and manipulating emotions was nearly impossible without a potion. Though, that girl—no that woman for he could no longer think of her as a girl. She was nearly his age, and he should have never thought of her as a girl. He underestimated her in a number of ways.
He stayed leaning against his door until there was a small knock on it. He knew it was her, and he was both terrified and excited to open the door for her. It took another moment, but he did crack the door for her.
“I wanted to thank you for the nightgown. It is so lovely,” Amy told him as she stroked the soft fabric with her fingers. Yes, it was a piece of clothing for sleeping, but she still wanted to show him the clothing on her. It was the nicest thing she had ever owned.
“It does look nice,” Sheldon choked out.
“Are you alright?” Amy asked.
“I am well. Thank you,” Sheldon said. Then he reached out and put his hand on her waist. The fabric was soft and the warmth of the skin underneath was irresistible. He wanted to pull her close to his body. He wanted to make her his. Then he leaned down and pressed his lips to hers in a kiss that made him feel like there was fire in his veins. It was a different kind of magic than what he had ever felt before.
Amy’s arms wrapped around him, and he didn’t understand why she wasn’t pushing him away. He knew he should end this kiss, but the magic held him to her.
“Stop,” he finally shouted at himself and pushed himself away from her. He had broken the spell, but he was worried it would happen again. He stepped back into the cottage and slammed the door right in Amy’s face.
“Master? It’s okay. I feel the same. I love you too,” Amy yelled through the door.
“I do not love you. Go back to your shed,” he screamed through the door. Even as he said the words he wanted to open the door and pull her into his home. He wanted to pull her into his arms and hold her close to him for the rest of his life. It was a need as sure as breathing or eating, and he did not like that feeling at all. He knew how to negotiate those needs. A need for another person was unacceptable.
Amy was hurt. She was hurt as if she had been stabbed in the chest, and she looked around Sheldon’s garden. All of the plants she had done nothing but care for for the last several days were all dying. From her. From her pain.
Amy ran from plant to plant, using her magic to renew them. Some were too far gone to save, but as the tears ran down Amy’s face, she tried to do what she could to mend them. Even as her head grew heavy and her knees week, Amy cried and tried to save the plants. Halfway through, she fell to the ground unconscious.
Chapter 10: A New Agreement
Our two lovers are dealing with the fall out from the events following Sheldon's return to the cottage.
When Amy awoke, she was alone, but in her bed. There was water and food next to her bed along with a note.
“No magic for several days. I had to leave. It was an emergency. - Your Teacher”
Amy hated the way that she felt. It wasn’t just being weak from over exerting herself. It was heartbroken from the way he yelled at her that he did not love her. She had never wanted to fall in love. Not after watching her mother pine for the one man who would not and could not take her. She had never wanted to let anyone have that kind of control over her, but she had done it all the same. And it had ended in the same result. He kissed her like he loved her, but he shoved her away and swore that he did not love her at all.
Amy thought about leaving immediately, but she was very weak. Besides, Sheldon was not home. She could figure out what to do and where to go before he came back. Also, now that she was aware that she held so much power inside of her, she knew one of those other teachers would take her for sure. She was months into studying, and she could carry her own weight already. She would take the time between now and when Sheldon came back to get back on her feet and make a plan of where to go next. He owed her that much.
Sheldon rode his horse as fast and hard as he could away from his cottage. After a few hours, he realized that he didn’t even know where he was going. He reoriented himself and slowed down. No matter the pace he ran from his problems, the same images ran through his mind. He could only think of her nude body and the way her waist felt under his hand and the way she looked when he found her crumpled on the ground a couple of hours later.
“I don’t love her, and even if I did, it would only be the worst thing for her. I’m her teacher, and she shows so much potential. I can’t be the man who ruins that,” he told his horse, Clover. The horse made a sound that probably only sounded like disbelief to Sheldon.
“Do you think I should go home and make her my bride and ruin her life? I can’t do that to her,” he asked the horse, who in typical horse-like fashion, did not answer.
Sheldon rode on in silence for a few more hours before he set up a shelter for the night. He couldn’t go home. Not until he figured out his own feelings. He hadn’t felt so conflicted since Leonard and Penny told him that they were moving.
Amy tried not to think about the kiss, but it was difficult since she was stuck in bed. She tried to read one of her magic books. It wouldn’t hold her attention. A fairy tale about a princess who met a terrible beast who she fell in love with made its way into her hands instead. She tried not to think about Sheldon, but the beast had Sheldon’s piercing blue eyes in her mind. By the time the princess turned the beast back into a prince with her love, Amy was crying again.
Sheldon did not realize he was heading back home a few days later. At least not consciously. That was until the trees and trails were getting more and more familiar. He still had no idea what he was going to do, but he prayed that Amy was still there when he returned. He needed to fix this. He also knew that he loved her. He stopped pretending that he didn’t after the second day he was away. Then he spent the rest of the time trying to decide if he was worthy of her love, and how he could love her without ruining her dreams.
The sun was setting when he approached his land. He didn’t go into his home to clean up. There was no more putting this off.
Sheldon knocked on Amy’s door. She was about to pack up her things and leave now that he had returned. The time to think and plan was up, and Amy’s plan was mostly to take her small bag of gold and head back into town and hope that she was a more promising prospect than she had been all those months ago.
“I need to speak to you,” Sheldon said through the door. He could see the candle light through the edges of the door. She had to still be in there.
“I would rather not,” Amy responded without opening the door.
“I need to apologize to you. For the kiss. For watching you at the stream. For… for falling in love with you,” he admitted.
That got Amy’s attention, and she stopped furiously shoving her few possessions into a bag. First because he admitted being in love with her. Then because he watched her by the stream. That could only mean that he watched her bathe. Was that why he acted so strangely when she went to show him the nightgown? She finally opened the door.
“Thank you,” he said.
“What does this mean?”
“I don’t know. I tried to fight this feeling. At first I didn’t recognize what it was because I thought I was above it. Then I thought I could ignore it. Obviously I lost control of myself when I kissed you. I believe that we should acknowledge our feelings, but not act on them.”
“You are still my student. Or at least I hope that you are. I do not wish our feelings to interfere with your training more than they already have.”
“They already have? I had no idea that you loved me until you kissed me. You hid it well.”
“I did not. I coddled you from the beginning. Do you think I bring all of my students healing potions and muffins on their first days?” Sheldon growled. He was struggling even thinking of how he acted and how he should act and how he wanted to act.
“Maybe? I only believed you were exceptionally kind. It was not like you attempted to kiss me the first day.”
“See? No one else has ever called me kind.” Sheldon let out a huff of air. He couldn’t imagine Amy leaving him to go anywhere else, but he wasn’t sure he could be the best teacher for her.
“Did you really watch me bathe in the stream?” Amy asked. She wasn’t sure how she felt about it. If it had been anyone else, she would have felt violated, but she also knew that if the tables were turned, she would have done the same.
Sheldon looked down and his cheeks burned. Amy was sure she even saw a few sparks fly from his fingers in an uncharacteristic loss of control.
“I didn’t mean to. There was a fire by the stream. I went to investigate, and you were there. And, goodness, you were beautiful. I apologize for invading your privacy, but I cannot honestly say I regret it.”
It was Amy’s turn to blush. If she was a bolder person, she would have offered him a repeat performance. She was not, so she only offered him her hand. He took it and ran tickling sparks along her skin.
“I’m sorry. I never intended to hurt you. It does not excuse my actions, but I was trying to protect you from me. I know how you feel about romantic relationships and about finishing your training. I did not want to get in the way.”
“I think I can change my stance on love and even marriage for the most incredible man I have ever met. So long as he also continues to be my teacher.”
“Of course,” Sheldon said with a smile. He was overjoyed that Amy wanted to continue her training because it would be a shame for such power to go to a waste for a man. Even if that man was himself.
“So, we love each other. What’s next?” Amy asked as she stepped closer to Sheldon. She hoped he would take her in his arms and kiss her again.
“We try our best to continue your studies without letting it interfere. That means we acknowledge our love, but we need to not act on it yet. When you have completed your training that we can discuss if we want to get married,” he explained.
“We can kiss now?” Amy asked.
“I think it would be best if we didn’t. If we kiss or touch then it would only be a distraction to your training. I think it would be best if we try to limit all physical contact,” he said.
“What does that leave us?” Amy asked.
“We can share meals together and we can study. We can know that waiting for your training to be complete can be our best reward,” he explained.
That news frustrated Amy beyond belief. She had a man whom she loved who loved her back, but he didn’t want to kiss or touch her. Well, perhaps he wanted to, but he was putting what she ultimately wanted above everything else. She couldn’t fault his reasoning because she could almost imagine getting so caught up in loving Sheldon and what came with that. So, in the end, she agreed that they would love each other from as much distance as they could stand while Amy finished her training.
Chapter 11: A New Focus
Sheldon and Amy keep working together while they try to not let their feelings interfere.
Despite the fact that Amy was largely not touching the man who she loved with all of her heart, she was happier than she had been in… well, ever. She caught his fond smiles and returned them with her own. They shared nearly all of their meals; cooking together in his kitchen. They sometimes stayed up way too late talking about everything. Amy’s heart swelled when Sheldon wished her a good night every night before she went back into her shed to sleep where she would often dream of him.
The only time Amy really minded their hands off policy was when Sheldon broke it. Sometimes he would touch her back or her arm to adjust her posture, and the heat the pooled in her stomach was always nearly too much to handle. Her knees actually buckled once after Sheldon ran his hand down her back and to her waist. Sheldon just thought it was because she was working too hard and called it an early night.
Still, it was easier to feel that way than to believe that Sheldon did not love her.
Amy was wandering the woods near the cottage and imagining Sheldon taking her into his arms and kissing her until their lips were numb when he ran up behind her.
“Amy! This fire!” he screamed at her about the blaze that was burning out of control in front of her. “Did you light this fire?” he yelled as he carefully put it out. Then he ran to her to make sure she was okay. He hugged her to his chest when he was sure that she was safe. They both enjoyed the embrace a little more than they normally would allow.
“Did I?” Amy asked in a daze. She had only been going for a walk when she started thinking about Sheldon and his lips and his hands and the way he felt when he was touching her. She didn’t speak the spell and she certainly didn’t intend on starting a fire.
“See? This is why we have to wait. You were thinking of me, weren’t you?” he asked. There was no judgement in his voice when he asked her. She was sure that he already knew she had been.
“I lit a few fires during when I was coming of age,” he admitted to her after she nodded.
“Will we ever be able to safely kiss?”
“Of course. I didn’t set a fire when I watched you in the stream or when I kissed you, and those feelings were most certainly strong enough to. But I practiced keeping my magic and my emotions separated. It just takes practice,” he explained. A fire didn’t always start when one was feeling a little lustful. He was sure Amy had thought of them together a number of times in the last few weeks. He knew he did.
That meant more work for Amy, and sometimes that meant that Sheldon would stroke Amy’s arm while she tried to focus on her magic. That usually either made her magic go a little haywire or it made it not work at all. Until it started working just like it usually did. With a bit more control, Amy was ready to further these experiments.
“Maybe we should try kissing,” Amy offered.
“Not today,” Sheldon said. He needed to prepare to go the next town over for some work, and he didn’t have time to kiss Amy. Though he was running out of reasons to say no. He stared at her lips for a few more seconds before he turned to go inside. He was going to end up stealing a kiss when he came home again.
Amy studied alone for a couple uneventful days after her love had left. She missed him, but in some ways it was easier to focus when she didn’t want to climb into Sheldon’s lap and have him hold her tight. He had already been gone for two days, and he said he would be gone for three. That wouldn’t have worried Amy if she didn’t see those storm clouds coming in and if the temperature hadn’t dropped so fast. It looked like a blizzard was coming her way, and Sheldon still wasn’t home. Of course, Sheldon was a powerful mage. She need not worry about him even in a storm, but she still did. She also worried about herself and her little shed.
Amy made sure she was well stocked with supplies and decided that she could wait out the storm until Sheldon returned. He would come home safe and she would somehow manage to stay warm enough in the shed.
Then the snow began to fall.
Chapter 12: A New Turn
The storm has arrived, but so has Sheldon. He and Amy spend an eventful night in his warm cottage.
The shed was freezing, and Amy didn’t dare add any more wood to her small fireplace to try to raise the heat in fear that she burn it down. The boards that held the shack together were not blocking the wind, and the wind took all of the heat out of the shed. Amy curled under her quilt and shivered. Nothing was keeping her warm enough, and she wondered if she might die out here in the middle of this storm.
Amy wracked her brain to think of a spell that might block the wind or might somehow keep her warm, but none came to mind. At least none that wouldn’t burn down her tiny shed.
There was a knock at the door, and Amy got up. It had to be Sheldon because no one else could possibly be out and about in this blizzard even if she hadn’t heard from him in a couple days.
“You have to come with me into my home. I don’t have a bed for you there, but you can sleep on my floor near the fireplace. It will be warm. This shack is as cold as I feared it might be. Bring anything you need for the next day or two,” he said. Then he turned and walked back to his cottage without waiting for her.
Amy collected her few things and went to Sheldon’s door. She still knocked even though he already invited her, and he ushered her in immediately. The flush of her skin looked beautiful, and Sheldon found that he could barely look at her. He had never felt this way about anyone. They had an agreement, but he still slid his hand up her back to feel the soft fabric of her nightgown and the warmth of her skin.
Inside, he had used all of his spare blankets to make her a small makeshift bed right near the fireplace. It was more comfortable in his cottage than it had been in the shed. She was already starting to feel her toes again. There was also another heat in her belly from Sheldon touching her. She wished to kiss him.
“Thank you, sir,” Amy said. “You’re home. I was so worried.”
“I am safe, and I’m relieved to find you the same,” Sheldon admitted. He pulled her in for a hug and he kissed the top of her head. It felt good to just hold her even if he was always warning himself off from giving her affection. However between the storm and the days away, he needed this. The last hours of rushing home to make sure that his beloved would survive in the storm weighed on him. He and his horse had been under spells of warmth, but Sheldon knew that Amy knew no such spell.
When Sheldon let Amy go, she climbed into the small pile of blankets, and it wasn’t as comfortable as her bed in the shed, but it was warmer. She tossed and turned as she tried to find a comfortable position on the floor. Sometimes she would accidentally let a foot or hand out to touch the cold stone on the floor. The shock of the cold and the hardness of the stone made it a less than perfect place to sleep.
“Are you still awake?” Sheldon asked after a half hour of listening to Amy toss and turn.
“Yes,” Amy admitted.
“Would you like to join me in my bed?” Sheldon asked. He knew that he shouldn’t ask her to join him. Not after he kissed her. Not after he watched her in the stream. Not after he admitted to himself that he loved her. He tried to tell himself that he only wished for her comfort, but he knew better than that. He wanted to hold her body against his in a way that he had never wished with anyone before.
He was about to tell her that she wasn’t welcome after all when she slid in next to him. Sheldon turned toward her and she pressed a fevered kiss to his lips. She couldn’t help herself. It was like he had put a spell over her. Now she was so close to him, she needed to kiss him.
Amy kissed Sheldon with all that she had. She loved him with all that she had. It was hard not to when her heart was so open to him. She loved that he wasn’t hesitating about kissing her back. It was like he had invited her to join him in bed for this purpose. Neither could get enough.
Sheldon’s kisses moved to her neck, and he began pulling up her nightgown. That soft nightgown that had teased him from the moment he purchased it at the shop. He hadn’t thought of removing it at the time, but it was all he could think of now.
“I’ve never given that part of myself to anyone,” she admitted. Of course she hadn’t. She wasn’t married, and her mother had always said she must wait until marriage for this. Since Amy had never wished to marry, she never wished to give herself to anyone. Not until now.
“Nor have I,” Sheldon said as he pulled off his own sleep shirt. Then he was bare in front of her. “Should I put my clothes back on? Perhaps I should go sleep by the fireplace,” he offered. He was not sure if he was being too forceful. He was uncomfortable using his place of power to get Amy to love him, and yet he wanted this with all that he was.
“No,” Amy admitted. She removed her own clothing until she was as bare as he was. Her breath caught in her throat in her wanting of Sheldon.
Sheldon started kissing her again while his fingers pressed into the soft flesh of her hips. He was afraid of hurting her the way he was always afraid she would hurt herself. Of course she had always risen to the occasion. She was so strong and powerful and beautiful. He often wondered if she was a dream.
Sheldon kissed down Amy’s neck and to her breasts. She moaned the most amazing noise that Sheldon had ever heard. It sounded magical all its own, and it sounded like a spell that made him want her even more. He moved his kissing down her belly.
Amy had never been so aroused in all of her life. This was supposed to only be a duty for a woman to put up with for her husband to produce children, but Amy wanted this. She wanted it so much that she could scream.
“Please, Sheldon?” Amy said quietly. It was the first time that she had called her master by his name, but this was no magic lesson. This was personal and they were on even footing here. Well, neither was on their feet, but it still felt appropriate to call him by his name.
“I love the way my name sounds in your mouth,” he muttered right in her ear after he kissed back up her body. “Are you ready?”
“Yes,” she cried.
He spread her legs before positioning himself to enter her. Then he pushed himself inside of her, and she whimpered a little.
“Are you hurt?” Sheldon asked.
“A little, but I want more,” she assured him. It felt a little like that first release of magic. A bit painful, but there was pleasure in that pain. She felt powerful and she wanted more. The more Sheldon moved in and out of her with precise strength, the more she wanted. She cried out with each thrust they made together.
“More, Sheldon,” she urged. She wasn’t sure if she would ever get enough of this feeling. A sensation pooled in her stomach. All she knew was that she wanted more. That was until the pleasure let loose and spread across her entire body. It felt like a healing potion but better. She felt like she was being healed from anything that ever hurt her all at once. This was a magic all its own that she never suspected that she possessed.
Sheldon collapsed on top of her, and she loved being held tight by him. Despite the blizzard outside, Amy burned from the inside out. She panted to catch her breath, and Sheldon finally climbed off of her.
“I am tired,” he told her. Then he pulled her close. It was still cold outside, and he had her warm body to keep the chill at bay. He wanted her this close all of their days. Now that he was fully aware of his love and affection for Amy, he couldn’t imagine being without her ever again. He no longer wished to wait until she finished her training to marry.
“We need to wait until the storm has cleared, but we can go into town to find a cleric to settle things,” he assured her with his mouth pressed to her damp hair.
“Mmm,” Amy responded. She was closing her eyes to sleep when they popped open again with the realization that Sheldon implied that they would marry now. She was surprised that she wanted to be wed to Sheldon as badly as he seemed to want it. She was happy to be his wife if it meant that she got this feeling of touching and loving him for the rest of her life. She knew without a doubt that he would not keep her from her dreams. He would add to them and care for them just as she did. There could not possibly be any better partner for her.
Amy smiled and snuggled into Sheldon’s arms. So, she was going to get to be with the man she loved and continue to do the thing she loved. And that man who led her here said she would regret coming to train with Sheldon. She had never regretted anything less.
The next morning, Amy reached across the bed for Sheldon. He wasn’t there, so she opened her eyes and looked around. He was in the kitchen making them breakfast in his dressing gown. Amy slid out of bed and she put on her nightgown to join him. He looked at her and she blushed.
“You look beautiful. Sit. I have something for you,” he told her.
Amy wondered if he might have a gift for her to celebrate their engagement, but instead he slid a vial of potion over to her.
“Take that potion,” he instructed.
“What is it?”
“It will keep you from being with child,” he explained.
Amy looked at the vial. Did she want children? She hadn’t had much time to think about it.
“What if I want children?”
“I thought you wanted to finish training. Magic would be dangerous to the child, and you would have to stop until he or she was born,” he explained. After she had previously pushed her body too hard to the point of injury, he knew she would understand.
“So, I have to make the choice between training and children right now?”
“Well, you have to make the choice of training and children for the next month. The potion doesn’t make you permanently barren. You have to take it again every month,” Sheldon explained.
“Oh. I misunderstood,” Amy said. Then she grabbed the potion and downed it. That wasn’t a hard choice to make. She wanted to be a mage, and that required training. Then she dug into the breakfast Sheldon placed in front of her.
Then, with the snow keeping them inside the cottage, Sheldon and Amy decided to spend much of their time in bed together. It was fun, and other than reading, it was something to do indoors. Amy was even annoyed when the snow began melting because she wasn’t quite ready to give up that time with Sheldon. Still, they needed to go into town to marry.
“We can mate more when we return. Even with the storm gone, I would like you to live in the cottage with me all the time,” he told her when he noticed she seemed to be upset that the snow was melting. He hoped that she wasn’t upset that they were to going into town.
“Really?” Amy asked before she kissed him. She loved sharing a space with Sheldon, so she finished getting ready to go into town. It wasn’t a bad trip on horseback.
Chapter 13: A New Life
Sheldon and Amy rush to the alter after they realize there's no purpose in waiting for marriage.
“I would like to stop to invite some friends to come with us,” Sheldon told her when they reached the edge of town. “Is there anyone you would like to witness the marriage?”
Amy shook her head. She had no friends and no family other than Sheldon. She followed him to a small house where he knocked. A short man and a beautiful woman were behind the door when they answered.
“Sheldon, I have been meaning to come visit. How are you?” the man asked.
“Leonard, Penny, I have come to ask you to see my wedding. I believe I will also ask Howard and Raj to come since they brought my bride to me,” Sheldon asked.
“You are marrying? Is this her?” Leonard asked. He was sure that this must be the student he spoke of when he visited all those weeks ago.
“Yes. This is Amy. She was my student. She is my student, but we have fallen in love. We have decided to marry.”
“You want to marry him?” Leonard asked Amy. He had heard about this student and suspected that Sheldon had a bit of a crush. He had no idea that they had finally fallen in love. As much as he was joking, he wanted to check in with this young woman to make sure she was just as happy as Sheldon.
“Very much. I love him, and he’s everything I always wanted. Well, more than everything I always wanted.” She took Sheldon’s hand and squeezed it. Then she got on her toes to kiss his cheek. He closed his eyes and leaned into the kiss. It was the cutest thing either Leonard or Penny had ever seen Sheldon do. They were clearly both head over heels in love with each other.
“Have you taken any potions he gave you?” Leonard asked in a teasing tone as if to imply that Sheldon could not have gotten this girl to love him without a potion. Though, he did not doubt love on either side.
“Yes. Healing potions and the one to prevent children,” Amy responded without understanding Leonard’s implication.
“The one to prevent children?” Leonard asked.
“I gave you a supply of some after you married,” Sheldon explained.
“I know what the potion is, but I am surprised that you need it. Particularly given that you are not yet married,” Leonard told him.
“Oh. I suppose that said more than I meant it to,” Amy admitted with a blush.
“Don’t listen to him. We are both pleased that Sheldon has found a beautiful girl who makes him happy. We would be happy to attend your wedding,” Penny told her. “When is it?”
“Now,” Sheldon said.
“Now?” Penny asked. “You can’t get married like that,” she told Amy as she grabbed her arm and pulled her down the street and to one of the clothing shops. Amy was poked and prodded and measured while Penny spoke to the seamstress.
“No. She needs the dress today,” Penny explained while she picked out a white dress that was already made, but needed to be altered. It flowed in a way that only the softest fabrics could and had beautiful gold embroidering and long sleeves that would never be practical to work in. It was long enough to reach the floor and lovely gold thread to cinch it to her form. It was beautiful, but Amy thought of the small bag of gold that she left in Sheldon’s cottage. There was no way she could afford such a luxury even if she did have her entire life savings.
“Um. Penny, I cannot afford this dress. Perhaps something simpler and previously owned by someone,” she muttered in embarrassment as she looked down at her feet. She didn’t mind getting married in something nicer than her old ratty dress. She had spent half the night mending and cleaning it while Sheldon slept on, but it was still very old.
“Sheldon will pay,” Penny promised.
“I don’t know that he can afford it either,” Amy mentioned. The dress was very lovely, and Amy knew it must cost a small fortune.
“Are you joking?” Penny asked.
“No. He has no servants and he takes no money for students. I can’t imagine that he has the gold to pay for this dress,” Amy explained.
“No money for students? He is very exclusive and charges his students a great deal. Also, he is the best mage in the land. He is in demand and can charge whatever he wants for his services,” Penny informed Amy.
That left Amy lost in thought while the seamstress continued to measure and sew around Amy. Then Penny took her back to her home while the finishing touches were put on the dress by the small army of people who were charged with tailoring an entire wedding dress in just a couple hours.
“We’ll be cleaning up, so you may not come in. Also, Sheldon, you have to go pay the dressmaker,” Penny said to the men who were just catching up on the front steps without letting Amy get in a single word.
Penny prepared Amy a bath. Then, when Amy was cleaned up, Penny ran to retrieve the dress from the seamstress. Then she helped Amy dress and prepare for her day.
“Thank you for your kindness, Penny,” Amy told her as her new friend tied up the dress. “You do not know me, but you have been very helpful with all of this preparation. I believed I would be married in my old dress with no friends other than Sheldon by my side.”
“You make him happy, and that’s all we ever wanted for him. I believe he is still angry that Leonard and I moved into town. We lived out there for a while, but it was too small a space for us and we wished to be closer to town. He promised a visit some months ago, but he cancelled at the last minute. Then when he did come, it was only for two days instead of the week he promised.”
“That is my fault. I pushed myself too far and hurt myself doing magic, and he had to cancel to stay and take care of me,” Amy explained.
“Ah. So, he was in love with you for a while?” Penny asked.
“No. He did not love me then. He struggled to love me for a long time,” Amy confessed.
“If he took care of you, he loved you then. And I only see love in his eyes when he looks at you now. I do not doubt him, and you should not either,” Penny promised. Then she did not miss the blush that colored Amy’s cheeks as she shyly looked down. “You look beautiful,” Penny proclaimed, and they were done preparing.
“I was angry about the cost of the dress, but now that I see you in it, I do not believe they charged enough. You look beautiful, and I should spoil you with new dresses everyday,” Sheldon told Amy when he finally saw her in the new dress. Penny had also made Amy a crown of wildflowers, and for the first time in Amy’s life, she felt like a princess.
Sheldon stood in front of Amy in deep blue wizard robes. He had not needed the time to prepare that she had, but he still changed and she couldn’t imagine a more handsome man in all the kingdom. His robes were not new, but she recognized them as his nicest.They brought out his brilliant blue eyes in a way that always caught Amy’s breath. His black tunic and leggings under the robes were also clean and showed off his striking figure. Amy couldn’t believe she had ever gotten work done around him.
“Penny said you charge a great deal for your students,” Amy mentioned. Perhaps this wasn’t the time to ask, but she was curious. It was one of the only thoughts strong enough in her head to pull her out of her lust for her future husband.
“Normally that is true,” Sheldon admitted.
“But you did not take any gold from me.”
“Would you take payment from a beautiful chamber maid who barely had an ounce of gold and just willingly took abuse until she used some of the most powerful magic you had ever seen? I wasn’t in love with you yet, but I knew you were something special. You were not just one of the brats who come to me with their father’s money and want me to make them a powerful mage. Half of them run off before the first week is out. You wanted to work for it, and you have incredible power inside of you. We haven’t unlocked it all yet, but you will do great things one day, Amy. I hope to be right by your side when you do,” he told her.
“Those should be your wedding vows,” Amy joked.
“Perhaps they should,” he agreed. Then he took her hand and led her into the church.
While Amy was cleaned and dressed for the wedding, Sheldon tracked down Howard and Raj as well as Howard’s wife, Bernadette, a tiny blonde woman who smiled brightly at the couple as they entered the church.
“You were wrong. I did not regret going to learn with Sheldon,” Amy told Howard when she saw him.
“You are one in a million,” Howard teased. “I have never been happier to be wrong,” he added with a genuine smile.
“Thank you for taking me to him,” Amy said to both Howard and Raj. “I only intended to find someone to teach me magic, and you brought me to one of the best in the world. You also brought me to someone who has treated me with great respect and saw potential in me.”
“And accidentally fell in love with you,” Sheldon interrupted.
“Yes. That as well,” Amy added with a smile.
“You aren’t supposed to say it was an accident,” Leonard told Sheldon.
“It was though. I never wanted to love someone the way I love her. It’s quite frightening,” Sheldon said.
“I saw you fight a dragon by yourself once. Love cannot be that scary,” Leonard said.
“It’s much scarier.”
Then the cleric cleared his throat because he didn’t have all day to marry this couple.
“Right,” Sheldon said.
The group stood near the cleric while he married Sheldon and Amy. It was a small wedding with only the handful of friends. Amy only wished that her mother could be there to see this, but she also knew that her mother would be proud of Amy and her finding real love and a real life.
Sheldon kissed Amy tenderly at the end of the ceremony. He was so happy to be married to this woman. It felt so right. Then the whole group left the church.
“Let’s go back to our place for dinner!” Leonard offered.
“We should go home. It’s a long ride back to the cottage,” Amy said. She rubbed her fingers on the embroidering on Sheldon’s robes. Everyone could tell that Amy had more in mind than just the long ride home.
“I’m sure you want to go spend the night with your husband, but you can leave for home in the morning. It’s late and you should celebrate with friends,” Penny told them.
Then the pair was ushered back to Leonard and Penny’s for a feast and some drink with their friends. The friends were new to Amy, but she felt loved and accepted all the same. For a girl who spent more than a decade vowing to never get married, her wedding day was one of the best of her life. She fell asleep in her husband’s arms and leaning against his chest while he told a story about his first fight against a sea monster.
She was awoken to him carrying her to bed. It wasn’t their cottage, but it was warm and they were together. No matter where they were, if she was with him, she was home.
The next morning, Sheldon took Amy to purchase her a few new dresses. He wasn’t kidding about wanting to spoil her, and she didn’t feel too bad about it now that she learned Sheldon had the money to do so. They ordered them to be sent up to the cottage when they were finished so that Sheldon and Amy could return home.
“We need to get back to training,” Sheldon told her when they set back out.
“Yes, sir,” Amy agreed. She couldn’t wait to start reading more and studying more spells. Plus it was nice to hear that Sheldon was serious about wanting her to keep training in magic.
“Please don’t call me ‘sir’ or 'master’ anymore,” Sheldon requested. “I know I am still your teacher, and I am aware that we originally intended to wait until you finished your training to wed. However, I am your husband as well, so in that way we are equals. I believe that relationship takes priority over the other.”
“Of course, Sheldon,” Amy said.
Chapter 14: A New Fight
Married life is treating Sheldon and Amy well. That is until there is an emergency at the castle.
When they were home again, Amy was a little surprised by how little things really changed. She slept in Sheldon’s bed next to him instead of the drafty shed. She ate at his table, but they had been sharing at least a couple meals a day before they wed. She read and they ran through drills. She worked just as hard on her magic as she had before they wed. Most of the time.
Now, sometimes when Sheldon’s hand ran down Amy’s back and she got that fluttery feeling in her stomach, she dragged him into the cottage before they got back to working on drills or a new spell. Sheldon had never had so many distractions while working with a student. Still, it was easier in a way because they did not have to pretend not to be in love with each other. All in all, the distractions were not nearly as bad as he feared.
Controlling magic was becoming easier for Amy. Under Sheldon’s care, Amy could do almost any basic level spell he put in front of her on the first try without it going beyond her intentions. They had even started working more complex fighting spells with a fair amount of success. When Sheldon was home, they worked hard on her training, and Amy knew she was right for believing in her husband.
Then, early one morning, Sheldon woke to a pounding on his door. He stood to go check on it only to find one of the king’s men begging for his help. It seemed that a manticore had gotten into the castle grounds. A couple of the other mages from town had already attempted to slay it, but were either injured or killed. They decided to go to the best they could find, so Sheldon was sent for.
“Amy, my love. I have to go to the castle,” Sheldon said as he woke his wife.
“Let me come with you,” she said. She hated when he was away for any length of time. Besides, she wanted to see him working.
“It is dangerous,” he said as way of a refusal. He threw some clothes and magical items into a bag. That seemed like reason enough to tell his wife not to come. She was amazingly powerful, but still too undertrained. She had never done more than a playful duel with him as far as any kind of fighting went.
“Then all the more reason for me to come see. You will not leave me here,” she told him as she packed her own bag. Her stock of magical items was smaller than his, but she had recently procured a wand and began making a few potions. She loaded all of those things into her bag.
“It’s a monster on the grounds. People have already died,” he shouted at her. “I will not lose you.”
“I won’t fight, but let me come along. Please,” she begged.
Sheldon didn’t want to fight her, and he knew well of her stubbornness. He had no time to argue this, so he just nodded and they were out the door. They rode quickly into town and Sheldon wanted to leave Amy at Leonard and Penny’s but she refused. She said that she knew the castle well and she would find somewhere safe within its confines where she could be close by.
Again, Sheldon didn’t have the time to argue with her. He agreed to her hiding in the castle, and they continued on. Sheldon led Amy to the castle’s door where she was greeted by some of the guards. After he got the guards’ word that she would be kept safe and the information about where the manticore was last seen, she left her with one brief kiss.
Amy went to a window where she knew she would be left alone. A few people walking by either said hello or looked confused that she had returned to the castle. One of her old friends even did a double take, but was happy for Amy when she explained that she was married and a training as a mage now.
“Where is he?” Amy asked herself as she peeked out on the grounds. Then she saw him. He looked like he was already worse for the wear. His robes were torn and there was a deep cut on his exposed arm.
Amy gasped at the sight of the hideous monster stalking her husband. She knew about the monster. She knew it was a large lion shaped beast with the head of a man and bat-like wings. The drawings did not do the frightening sight any justice.
“No. You were supposed to have this handled,” she cried to him even if he was too far to hear her. He was scratched by the beast again in between spells.
Amy continued watching as her beloved threw spell after spell at the large lion shaped creature. It seemed to have little effect until one of them hit one of the wings. Amy hoped that Sheldon saw the reaction and would alter his attacks. He didn’t. He kept going for the manticore’s human face.
“The wing is the weak point,” Amy whispered.
When Sheldon was knocked to the ground, Amy had had enough. She ran through the hidden tunnels under the castle to where here husband was fighting a losing fight against the great beast. She popped up behind him from one of the wooden hatches that lie on the grounds.
“The wing, Sheldon! The wing!” she shouted at him. He turned and looked at her. He was more angry than she had ever seen him.
“You promised you would stay safe,” he roared at her with real fire in his voice.
“Never if you are in danger,” she shouted back to him. Then she aimed one of the few truly harmful spells she knew right at the manticore’s giant wing. The creature was even larger and more terrifying up close, but Amy didn’t let that stop her. She just threw the spell over and over again as she slowed the creature’s progress toward her husband to give him time to get back on his feet. It was then that he seemed to understand what she was saying and started aiming his spells for the other wing.
Sheldon took Amy’s hand and they aimed spell after spell at the manticore together. They did impressive magic, but it wasn’t enough to slay the beast.
“Unleash your magic,” he screamed at her when the monster came closer to them. He wasn’t sure he could usher her to safety, so using her magic was the best thing he could do. It was the only real chance they had to save them both.
“Annihilate,” Amy screamed. It was a strong spell that she only read about because it could do too much harm if her magic was too strong when she let it loose. This didn’t seem like the time to worry about using too much force. With her eyes closed, she imagined the great beast collapsing from her pure anger and magic. She barely had time to open her eyes again when she was being crushed to her husband’s chest by his strong arms.
“You can’t ever do that again. Not until you are fully trained,” he told her without releasing the embrace.
“Is it dead?” Amy asked.
“Yes. You killed it. It is so thoroughly destroyed that they won’t even be able to use the pelt, but it is vanquished. You did it, my love,” he told her. “That doesn’t mean that it was okay for you to do this without finishing your training, but I believe you saved my life.”
“Then it was most definitely okay. I could not live without my teacher,” she said with a smile. Only then did he finally release her from the hug.
“True. You still need training,” he teased. He felt light because they were both safe. Still, he was not okay with his untrained wife risking her own safety for him. When she was fully trained, he knew he would need to get over that because he promised her that he would never stand in her way. However, that day was not today. Despite her strength, she was not ready. Still, he would be dead without her, so he decided that he would increase her training because she really was spectacular even in a fight.
Chapter 15: A New Gift
Amy meets with the king, and he give her a gift she never knew she wanted.
The couple were about to go into the castle when they saw the king coming out to them. Amy immediately dropped her head to not look him in the eye, but Sheldon only walked forward and bowed quickly and stared the man right in the face. Again, he could see the resemblance between the man in front of him and his wife so clearly that the king could not possibly believe that no one else noticed.
“Amy,” Sheldon muttered as he reached back for her hand. He pulled her forward to stand next to him.
“That was fine work, mage,” the king told Sheldon. He didn’t even seem to notice the young woman standing next to Sheldon.
“It was my apprentice who killed the beast, Your Highness,” Sheldon explained.
“Oh,” the king said. He really looked at Amy for the first time and recognized her immediately. He took a step back in surprise.
“Your Highness,” Amy said with a bow. She had only ever actually spoken to her father a few times ever despite having lived under his roof for nearly her entire life. He looked shocked.
“You are a mage now?” he asked with more familiarity than he should have.
“Yes. I left some months ago to find a teacher to instruct me in the magical arts,” she explained. She wasn’t a slave in the castle. She could come and go as she pleased, so it was not as if she escaped. She only informed the head housekeeper that she was leaving and would never be back. At the time, that was her intention. At least she returned as a mage and a married woman instead of coming back to return to her position as a maid.
“No one would tell me where you went.”
Amy knew that many of her friends in the castle knew of her plans to go study magic, and she was amazed that they had risked punishment from the king by not telling him what they knew. It warmed her heart to think of such loyalty. Perhaps she should have tracked some of them down to come to her wedding. At the time, she assumed that none would be interested. Perhaps that was incorrect.
“She has the most power I have ever seen in someone so untrained. If she had started younger, she would likely be the strongest mage in the area. It is still my gain because she is not only a talented young woman, but now my wife,” Sheldon said with real admiration in his voice. Amy looked at him with wide eyes. She knew that he was telling the king that he was wrong for denying her magical education. Still, the king could never reveal that without sharing their connection. Still, it was brave of Sheldon to say something such as that to the king. Sheldon was a subject of the kingdom just as anyone else, and could be punished for mouthing off to the king.
“You are married?” the king asked. He looked almost hurt, and Amy wondered why. He had never given her much attention. It’s not like he would have come to the wedding if she had invited him.
“We are,” Amy confirmed.
“We must celebrate that.” The king looked uncomfortable at his own suggestion. “I mean, you two will stay for a small feast and I will prepare a gift for you both. The land’s best mage does not marry one of our own everyday.”
Amy wondered what he meant by “one of our own.” He couldn’t be actually claiming her as a daughter now. Not when she was finally happy and had everything she had ever wanted and had no use for the king or his power. She was almost worried that he would put a stop to her training. Not that he could actually justify that even if he openly claimed her. She was only an illegitimate daughter. She would never be queen.
“I mean, one of our finest maids,” the king clarified.
“Of course,” Sheldon said as he pulled Amy forward with him as they followed the king back to the castle.
The pair feasted and drank among the royalty in the castle. It was an overreaction for the king to throw such a luxurious party for one of his maids, but no one seemed to question it. In fact, several of Amy’s half brothers and sisters came over to congratulate her and Sheldon. Her oldest half brother even wrapped her in a hug and told her to come to him if she ever needed anything.
“I knew it must be a poorly kept secret,” Sheldon whispered to his wife.
“This is the feast for a daughter of the king, and his children have all come to wish you well,” Sheldon explained.
“My ‘sister,’ Katherine once reported me to the housekeeper for stealing and I was locked in a cell in the basement for a full month. These people do not care for me as a sibling even if they do know of my linage,” Amy explained quietly.
“Perhaps they have seen their mistakes now that they know that their little sister Amy is a powerful mage who could turn them all into frogs if they ever crossed her,” he teased.
“I would never,” Amy said.
“I know that, but they don’t. Also, maybe they realized that you are a beautiful, kind, amazing, powerful, intelligent woman who deserves respect.”
Amy wasn’t sure. She knew that she would never have been treated with this much respect if she stayed here. She would have been married off to some guard or stable boy to create the next generation of servants for the castle. She would have beaten rugs or made stews everyday of her life and wondered what could have been if she had just walked away to follow her dreams. For all of that, she was grateful to Sheldon for taking her in. Not the “family” around her who was kind now that they could get something from her.
Still, the food was good, and the drink was better. Amy decided to just roll with all of this.
“Will you two stay the night?” the king asked. There were many guest rooms to choose from, and they were all sure to be richly decorated. Amy had cleaned her fair share of them.
“No. We should get home,” Amy said for the two of them. Now that she had a fair amount of wine in her, she didn’t feel nervous about speaking to her father. She actually had no interest in going home, but Sheldon had already sent to Leonard and Penny to ask if they could stay the night with them. Amy did not want to stay in the castle overnight.
“Oh. Then I will have someone bring over your gift as well as the fee for killing the monster,” the king said.
“Thank you for this,” Amy told him honestly. Even if it felt a little hollow, she still felt like she was made a little more whole for her father celebrating her like this.
“It was my pleasure,” the king responded. “I should have let you go train as a child when your mother asked. I am sorry that I failed you, but my wife and children did not know of you at the time. I was selfish and I wanted to keep myself safe instead of giving my child what she needed.”
“Thank you, Your Highness,” Amy said with tears in her eyes.
“You are most welcome, daughter. I am proud of you,” he said. Then he walked away having given Amy a gift she never suspected she wanted. Sheldon pulled her close and let her cry into his chest until someone returned with a chest containing both the gift and the fee for the killing the manticore.
Sheldon and Amy made their way back to their horses to go on to Leonard and Penny’s. Because Amy was drunk from the wine, Sheldon loaded her horse up with the gold and made her ride with him on his horse. It was not a far trip to Leonard and Penny’s home where they were given a warm welcome.
“A feast at the castle?” Leonard asked after they explained the night. He was almost more surprised by that than Amy killing a manticore.
“My father is,” Amy started, but was interrupted by a hiccup. “Is the king,” she finished. “I don’t know that I need to keep that a secret anymore.”
“Your father is the king?” Leonard repeated.
“Yes. He called me daughter,” she slurred. Then, she remembered the chest with the wedding gift.
Sheldon, who was completely sober, nodded to confirm this news. He watched as she went over to where the chest was sitting on the floor and opened it. There was a bag of gold that she assumed was Sheldon’s payment for slaying the monster. It was easily ten times the bag of gold she left the castle with—ten times what she saved from being a maid for nearly two decades. She handed that over to him. There was a second bag holding a few beautiful gems that were clearly a gift from her father, and she looked through them. She showed them to Sheldon, and he inspected them as well. They were high quality, and Sheldon wondered if he could have some made into a necklace for his wife. They were her legacy.
Then Amy started pulling the fabric from the bottom of the chest. It was a quilt she recognized well. It was the quilt that had always laid on her and her mother’s bed. Amy did not take it with her when she left because didn’t want to be accused of theft, but she thought of risking the punishment at the time to have it.
“Why are you crying, my love?” Sheldon asked as he scooped her up into his arms. He took the quilt from Amy and wrapped it around her, and she buried her face into it and sniffed.
“It’s my mother’s,” Amy told her husband.
“It’s beautiful,” he told her. Then he told Leonard and Penny that he was going to put Amy to bed. He helped her change for bed and then tucked her in with the quilt spread over her.
“I love you,” Amy told him.
“I love you, too,” Sheldon said. He kissed her on the forehead and told her to sleep. He was proud of his wife and all of her accomplishments this day—both personally and professionally. Even if she was going to get a stern talking to about listening to him until she was better trained.
Chapter 16: Epilogue: A New Teacher
Things come full circle for Sheldon and Amy when a new student finds them.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Amy was outside of her house with Gregory, her friend and the man who tended to her horses, when she saw Howard and his wife, Bernadette coming up the path. She dropped her work with the plants that had long gone from training to calming hobby. Her training was now in much more complex spells, and she often went with Sheldon to work by his side. She ran over to greet the pair. It wasn’t often enough that any of her friends from town came to visit.
“We have someone who wants to speak to Sheldon,” Bernadette said as she pointed to the shy teenaged girl who was awkwardly standing behind them.
“Come in,” Amy said to the girl. She gestured to the girl to come into the house. “Can you guys wait out here? I’ll be back with some refreshments, but he always wants to speak to students alone in the beginning,” Amy added to her friends. Amy had seen a handful of spoiled children come in to train. None of them had lasted a month, but Sheldon had still received his full price for all.
“Sure,” Howard said. He appreciated Amy’s kindness to them over Sheldon’s usual coldness. Though now that Sheldon was married, he was much warmer than he used to be.
Amy led the girl inside and Sheldon asked her to stay while he spoke to the girl.
“I—I can’t pay much,” the girl told him, but Amy could see the eagerness to train on the girl’s face. She hoped that perhaps Sheldon would lower his fee for her. He had done it before.
“Do you have a stutter? Magic requires clear annunciation,” Sheldon told her.
“No, sir. I’m nervous,” the girl told him.
“Well, get over it,” Sheldon admonished. Then he passed her a little cup of water.
“I can do chores to make up for what I can’t pay,” the girl offered.
“You will earn your training by doing what we ask of you,” Sheldon told the girl. Then he winked at his wife because this was all too familiar.
“We?” Amy asked. He had never included Amy in any of the other students training. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon for her to do training alongside them if they stayed long enough to even reach that point.
“Yes. My wife is going to train you for basic magical theory and basic spells. Once you are at a more advanced level, then you will train with me. That is if you show any aptitude for magic,” he explained.
The girl only smiled and held out her hand. A small flame appeared in her hand. “This is all I can do, but it helps when I had to work in the tunnels under the castle,” she said shyly. Amy didn’t remember this girl from the castle, but she hadn’t lived there in over a year and a half.
“Good. Saved you a pain trial to show you have magic in you. Careful with that flame. Now get out of here. You’ll stay in the shed. Leave me and my wife,” Sheldon dismissed the girl. His tone sounded gruff, but Amy could now tell his real anger from the show he gave students.
“Oh. Your name?” Amy asked.
“Anna,” the girl said. Then she left the cottage with the biggest smile on her face. Amy recognized that feeling of finally finding a teacher. She suspected that the girl had struggled as she had to find someone. Howard and Bernadette would have only brought her here if there weren’t other alternatives. The rich students came by in carriages with their own servants. They demanded better accommodations than the shed and were sent out to stay in the apartment above the stables for an extra charge. Amy always had a fondness for the shed. Still, this girl was the first to actually stay there since Amy’s residence.
“I know she can’t pay, but she deserves a real education,” Amy told her husband. She didn’t want to shortchange the girl.
“She’s going to get one. I’m not putting you in charge because she isn’t worth my time. I am putting you in charge because you are ready. Also, I can’t say that she doesn’t remind me of you. I think you can connect with her.”
“You want me to be a teacher?”
“Of course. You told me you wanted to help people with your magic. You will help that girl learn just like I helped you learn. Well, you are not permitted to fall in love and marry her. That isn’t typically part of the process,” he teased. Then he kissed her forehead. Neither of them had ever intended for any of this to happen, but they were both truly happy for the first time in their lives for it.
“Oh. I left Howard and Bernadette outside. I promised them refreshments,” Amy remembered suddenly.
“Let them in. I baked bread this morning and the apples are perfect for cider,” Sheldon told her.
“You must be in a good mood if you are inviting them in,” Amy teased.
“I’m always in a good mood.”
“Liar,” Amy joked. Though he wasn’t entirely wrong. It was rare that he was ever in a really sour mood since they married. Both of their lives had been greatly improved by the decision to wed. She walked outside to call her friends in.
Amy looked at the man who led her here over a year and a half ago and his wife, and she felt beyond grateful. Sheldon was the best teacher she could have ever asked for, and she certainly could work alone in her own cottage far from here. She no longer wanted that. As Sheldon said, she would do great things, and they would be by his side.
Thank you so much for reading! I am so sorry that I forgot to post the rest of this story here. I hope you enjoy!