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An Unanticipated Development, Or, A Domestic Interlude

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Dear Cecy,

I trust this letter finds you well. I was delighted by the news that you’re expecting again and I’ve already begun knitting for the newest addition to your brood. I’ve also enclosed several sachets of dried mint for you to brew if you continue to feel poorly.

As my darling Edward approaches his fifth birthday, he has become both more rational as well as more outrageous. He listens very well and can repeat back to me what he is and is not to do, and then comes up with some caper that no one had even though to forbid. After being instructed not to collect insects in his room (at which point he solemnly nodded and said “yes, Mama”), today one of the maids found his collection of spiders, along with the dessicated corpses of several other insects, in the little parlor. Upon a scolding and questioning he informed me that: “I didn’t collect insects in my room, Mama, it’s in the parlor.” Apparently one must be as exacting in language and instructions to a small boy as one is with magic. Small wonder that I struggle with both. 

I confess I am writing not just in congratulations, although my congratulations are hearty and sincere, but also to seek your advice on a magical matter. You know that I’ve never had a particularly strong magical aptitude. I was able to learn Lady Sylvia’s spell for keeping my hair up, and the spell Thomas taught me for finding things. Apparently I’m best able to learn magic to combat my own foibles. I believe Thomas despairs of me learning magic. Now that his apprentice, that boy, well, young man now, Frederick, has gone off to train with Pickering, he’s getting that gleam in his eye again. Of course, perhaps he’ll happen upon the third spell in existence that I’m able to learn. 

I shouldn’t complain, he’s so patient with me, and I would like to be able to do more magic, especially as we know that I have the potential. But when I try to do magic it is so very loud and unharmonious. It doesn’t bother me when he does magic, I only feel it in my ring. But of course, he doesn’t sense magic in that way, and neither do you, and neither does anyone it seems. Frederick, dear boy, also audibly sensed magic, but to him it was a peaceful and calming sound.

I’ve diverged again. Anyway all this to say: the two spells that I can do successfully and consistently have suddenly become much less successful and consistent. Thomas has no notion of why this might be happening and merely advises that I clear my mind and focus solely on my goal. I thought perhaps that you might have some more useful advice for me, my dear, given that your training was slightly less regimented than his and involved more experimentation (not that Thomas lacked for experimentation, he just never likes to remember any of his failures).

Give my love to the twins and Diana, and James of course. You must come for a visit soon, if you feel able to travel, before you are too far along. You must allow me to spoil you a bit, and to dote upon Diana before she is no longer the baby.

            With all my best wishes and affections,



Dearest Kate,


Thank you so much for your congratulations and for the welcome gift of the dried mint. I’d quite exhausted my supply between nausea and attempting to keep up with my own hellions. I’m not quite sure how I shall manage four, but I assure you Nurse Langly is likely to be the sole champion of my sanity.

Part of me wonders if Eleanor and Arthur are to blame for Edward’s increased deviousness, but I suspect that it’s simply the age. Diana has not yet reached that stage, although Eleanor’s influence would likely factor in there as well. James has just reminded me of several of Lady Sylvia’s stories about Thomas as a child, so I shall confidently lay the blame at his feet and absolve my own offspring of undue influence. 

I’m sorry to hear about your magical difficulties, dearest, and I wish I had better advice for you. The only time I had any similar issues was when I was carrying the twins. Many of my spells seemed to lose power part way through, as if it was being sucked out of them. Thomas theorized that it was a combination of the pregnancy so near the beginning of my training and the magical potential of the twins. “Of course one cannot discount the possible effects of a dual pregnancy, because twins have enhanced magical potential, and being both the eldest girl and the eldest boy further heightens their potency...” You know I adore Thomas, but he spent a terribly long time basically telling me that there were lots of possible reasons, but we’d probably never know why because there just haven’t been that many young female magicians and wizards who have children at that point in their training. By the time Diana came along I was better trained, she wasn’t a twin, and we’ve yet to determine her magical potential.

Do you think you might be expecting? Did you have this problem with any of your earlier pregnancies? I would suggest that you consult with Thomas again, with this possibility in mind, and write to Lady Sylvia at once to ask her advice. I’m enclosing a new charm bag for you, just add a lock of hair and close it, I’m sure you remember. If you are expecting, I hope this will help. All my love to you and Edward and Thomas.

                                                                        Yours always,




Darling Cecy, 

You never cease to amaze me. I brought up your suggestion to Thomas and you were, of course, correct. I am expecting. Thomas is all aflutter and has written Lady Sylvia at once. I believe this is the earliest we’ve ever known, and Thomas is worried because it is different from any of my earlier pregnancies. I share his concern, but I am cautiously hopeful. I know Thomas fears another loss, as do I, but I do long for another baby. I know Edward would love to be a big brother, and I love to think that our babies might grow up at the same time. I’ve put the lock of hair in my charm bag and it resides in a place of honor in my shawl pocket or under my pillow. Edward saw it and immediately wanted to know what it was. I told him, “It’s a special spell that Aunt Cecy made for Mama to keep her safe.” He is now demanding a charm bag of his very own. Thomas offered to make him one, but only one from Aunt Cecy will do. I’ve enclosed a note written in his very own hand requesting a charm bag from you. 

The news has focused Thomas’ mind on which spell he wishes to teach me (assuming my magic cooperates). He plans to teach me a spell to call him. I confess, such a spell would be useful, especially if he gets his way on keeping me at home until the baby is here (your visit is now essential, as soon as you feel well enough).

I hope this missive finds you well and I hope to see you soon.