Mrs. Wilson sighed when she opened the door to find a silver-haired infant. She picked the small child up and thanked God that whoever it was had had the decency to put the child out in the morning and to knock on the door.
She’d had one too many infants freeze on her doorstep.
She’d had one too many infants crushed on her doorstep.
Mrs. Wilson’s breath caught when she saw the lightning bolt scar on the child’s forehead. She sighed lightly when the baby squirmed and opened brilliant emerald eyes.
“Oh, child,” she said softly, unfocused. She brushed careful fingers over his face, “You have the eyes of a magus, the hair of one touched by death and sowilo on your face, you will have strong magic. But you must always remember that you will be made a villain if you let them.” She blinked and looked down at him. “Be kind and steadfast,” She whispered, “for the broken. Be soft and sympathetic,” her hand started to glow where it touched his face, “for the damned. Be gentle and strong for the weak.” The light faded into the boy’s skin and Mrs. Wilson stumbled. She caught herself on a table and used it to support herself until she reached a chair to sink into. She cradled the swaddled baby in the crook of her arm and unfolded the letter. A wry smile came to her face and she looked down into the curious emerald eyes.
“Special indeed,” She said.
Harry sat on the tall stool swinging his legs. He was reading a book that Mrs.Wilson had gotten him about shields and protection spells. Last week, he had levitated the outside table in front of himself so that the Max and Derek couldn’t beat him up again. Mrs. Wilson said she wasn't mad about the table, and she gave him the book, but he couldn’t help but think that she was disappointed. Harry felt bad, anyway. Tables were expensive, and taking care of 21 kids was expensive without him destroying the property. Harry thought that the shields were interesting, and they looked useful, but he didn’t know if he could do it correctly. What if he made it wrong and it tore up anyone who touched it? Harry shivered. He didn’t want to hurt anybody, but he didn’t want to hurt himself, either. Harry sucked his bottom lips in between his teeth.
“Don’t eat your lip, love,” Mrs. Elizabeth said fondly, setting a plate of cookies in front of him, “Have a munch on these, instead.” She bustled around the kitchen and Harry watched her round the counter and go back to the oven.
“Thank you, Mrs. Elizabeth,” Harry said dutifully, sinking his teeth into a cookie. He hummed happily. The cookie was still warm, and the flavor of it exploded pleasantly on his tongue.
“Oh it’s no hardship for me, love,” She said breezily, whirling around to chop up some vegetables after she closed the oven, “I need someone to taste test my new recipe, anyway. What do you think?”
“It’s heaven,” Harry replied truthfully, “But personally I would have added a pinch or two more salt. It would bind the bitter taste of the chocolate in better with the sugar and cinnamon.”
Mrs. Elizabeth scooped the vegetables into a bowl and Harry held out a cookie for her to take. She did, and bit into it thoughtfully.
“Hmm. I think you’re right.” She sighed. “Honestly, you spend more time in here than anywhere else, I do worry about you.”
“Am I a bother?” Harry asked quickly, “I could go sit outside, if I distract you.”
“Distractions are good sometimes, love,” Mrs. Elizabeth said, smiling again. “And you’re a very welcome one. I enjoy you here. It’s so much more fun to cook and bake with someone who really appreciates it, yeah?”
Harry grinned shyly and nodded.
“Good boy. If you want to nip out with the cookies to give them to your friends, you’re welcome. Bring the plate back for me, hmm?” Harry nodded again, more hesitantly, and carefully climbed down from the chair before sliding the plate of cookies into his hands.He pushed the door open with his hip and slipped through it.
Mrs. Elizabeth picked up the book he’d been reading carefully and opened it. Her eyes narrowed as they slid from word to word and she set the book down with a small huff.
By the time Harry came back, just a few minutes later, she was on her third vegetable. Harry set the plate down carefully on the counter and climbed back onto his stool. She dumped the vegetables into a pan. When she turned to take the plate, she gasped.
“Oh, love, who did that to you?” She asked sharply.
There was a large purple bruise over his right eye. He tried to smile, but it turned down into a wince. “It was an accident, Mrs. Elizabeth.” He said, softly, “They were aiming for the plate, but I moved it away. There’s already a table broken on my account, I don’t want to be more of a burden.”
“Oh, love,” Mrs. Elizabeth said, gently, her heart aching, “I don’t mind a broken plate. That can be fixed, once I teach you how. There’s not a lot I can do about the bruise, but I do have something for the swelling. Let me work for another minute or two, and then I’ll go get it for you, alright?”
Harry nodded slowly. “I can- I can fix things?”
“Oh- of course you can, love. Did you think your magic was just for making things fly and shields? Your magic can do a great many things, you just have to learn how to channel it.”
“Mhmm. Think of your magic as- oh, remember the spring we went to last year?”
“Yes,” Harry said. His voice was brighter, Mrs. Elizabeth noticed, and she was happy his curiosity had pulled him out of his funk.
“Your core- that’s where your inner magic comes from- is like a spring. It comes out, and then it swirls around in its pool. That’s your well. Your well sits in your chest and collects all the magic from your core. When you use magic, you’re- hmm, opening a tap? And then the magic can flow out. You understand that much, love?”
“I think so,” Harry said, “But how do I open the tap?”
“How do you move your arm?” Mrs. Elizabeth laughed at the expression on his face. “I couldn’t explain it to you. What did you feel when you moved the table? What moved in your body?”
“I used my hand,” Harry said, “I gestured upwards and it went up. I felt something release in my chest, right here.” He gestured with his hands.
“That’s your well, love. It releases more magic as you use it. Don’t be surprised if you can't do big things when you start or if you get really tired afterward. It’s like any muscle. You have to use it continuously to build up the strength for big things.” Mrs. Elizabeth smiled kindly at him and then dumped a bowl of water in with the vegetables. “If that boils over, turn the heat off, will you, love?” Harry nodded, and then she was out the door, the whirlwind of movement going with her.
Harry looked at his hands and thought about that feeling in his chest. He felt something in him give, and then he was filled with warmth. He felt weightless. He smiled, and looked up.
He was floating!
Harry gave a bright grin and pushed some of the warmth from his right hand. He spun around in mid-air, giggling softly. He heard a gasp and whirled around to see Mrs. Elizabeth at the door clutching a bag of ice to her chest. Harry was worried for a moment before he saw the large, triumphant smile on her face.
“Well, love, it looks like you don’t need the ice, anymore.” She set the ice down on the counter and smiled broadly at Harry before standing in front of the soon-to-be curry and giving it a stir.
Harry grinned tentatively and let himself slowly float back down to his chair. He settled in it and felt something inside him close up. The warmth was sucked back inside of him, and Harry shivered violently for a moment.
When he looked up, there was a mug of warm tea in front of him.
“Thank you,” he said, wrapping his little hands around the mug. He exhaled shakily as the warmth from the cup traveled through his hands and up into his arms. A thin blanket settled around his shoulders and he smiled at Mrs. Elizabeth. She patted his arm and then she stepped around the counter and took the lid off of the curry and opened the spice cabinet. Harry set one elbow on the counter and cradled his chin.
He loved the kitchen. He could sit here all day.