Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Reluctant Conversation, Part Four

Finally, Spike’s father put a finger under her chin, lifting her face so her eyes met his. Was that a softening? A memory of when he was just learning his way around? "Nischka. Spike. You're a talented witch, and you have the potential to go far with this, even to join the ranks of the great ones someday. Maybe. But you have to be trained, like the hawks have to be trained, like the Hounds have to be trained. Otherwise, you are simply too dangerous--to yourself and to others." He had turned from anger to sorrow, and somehow his sadness was harder to bear than his fury. "And you know what happens when a dog runs mad, when a bear comes down from the woods to forage in the town."

She knew. Was she a mad dog then, slavering at the mouth; a bear grown lazy with the easy pickings on the outskirts? First a dog, then a pig, then a child, they said. Was it first a wall, then a door, then a professor? This was bigger than her father being angry with her, bigger than the punishment he might mete out for disobedience. This was big enough to encompass the whole world. Tears formed in her eyes. "Papa?"

He took her hands in his then, crouching so their heads were even. "I can only protect you so far as my reach extends, my Hounds a little further, maybe. But the job of keeping you safe is going to pass, first and foremost, to you. You must learn how to get a hand on your wild magic, to bring it to heel. To hood and jess it, so when the time is right--and at no other!-- you can set it on its rightful prey, confident that it will return to your glove."

"I understand." And she did; she had liked Durmstrang. The people were challenging, but the work all flowed and made sense. She could feel the movements of the wand in her fingers, and all that she needed was someone to show her the patterns and channels for her magic to follow. Learning to dig ditches, she had called it once, and of course someone had misunderstood, thinking that she meant it was simple manual work, fit for Muggles and peasants. She'd set them straight, of course. Fortunately Durmstrang turned a blind eye to most students' escapades.

“So, with that in mind,” he handed her an envelope sealed with red wax, embossed with a florid capital H, “I think you should open this.”

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