Ha. If only we could have known . . . Little Spike proved to be an apt pupil, one of those quiet infants who take in the entire world through large dark eyes. I thought the challenges would arise when she learned to walk, remembering my sons who seemed determined to throw themselves under the hooves of the largest mammal they could find as soon as they took their first staggering steps. Or to help feed the fire, or to play with knives.
Ah, no. The trouble began when she taught herself to read. Keeping her physically safe from those who would do her harm was easy -- I recruited two other Hounds whom I could trust as I would my own hands and eyes to take shifts with me as her bodyguards -- but keeping her safe from herself was another matter entirely.
One of her uncles sent someone to eliminate her in her sleep, and I had a long discussion with the messenger at the top of the tower while Sascha rocked Spike back to quiet. Another, cleverer man, sent a toy broom. Spike quickly mastered the toy -- and then overrode the controls, as she preferred flying to walking. She adored the brightly illustrated books that read themselves to you, and then whenever she was missing I could find her in the library; often spidered up in the shelves that housed the forbidden books, sounding out the complex Latin invocations. When she learned to actually channel her will and bend the universe to her desire -- but that's all in the other entries, the fires, the holes in the walls, the rooms that had to be sealed off for months while the magisters performed the counter-invocations.
It was a relief when she was accepted to Durmstrang. At last, she would have a challenge to face in a safe place. A place to stretch her wings and learn to fly so she could take her place in the skies.
Well. We all know what happened next; that horrible moment in Arithmancy where it all went pear-shaped. I like to think that if one of us had been there we could have prevented it somehow; confiscated Spike's note to herself with a promise of appropriate discipline to follow, maybe. Nudged her elbow at just the right moment to spoil the line and render the diagram harmless. Horrible clumsy monsters, us.
That first night back, I spent thinking about all the times I had combed and braided Spike's hair when she was tiny, wondering if I would be able to do so one last time. A last service to perform for my mistress. Fortunately, her father is a man of reason, rather than emotion. He plays the part of the tyrant ruled by his heart well, sometimes almost too well, but he wasn't about to toss all his plans aside because of one small misunderstanding.
So, we were off to Hogwarts. I am proud of her for learning the qualities of perseverance, the laws of magic, especially that that which you pay attention to becomes. Stubborn gritting it through and finishing, pulling off magic in the last hour, making it all come together and happen. These qualities will stand her in good stead when she grows up and goes to fulfill the destiny planned for her.
At the same time, I worry. As if I were that father of her blood. If anyone could teach power and the ways to wield it, that would have been Durmstrang. But perhaps Hogwarts can teach my little mistress a little cleverness, a little misdirection, a way of thinking outside the boundaries. With where she's going, these might serve her better than brute force.
Water wears away mountains, one slow soft lick at a time. Perhaps she may learn the ways of water.
It is late and getting later; the year has turned and the hour of the Octopus gives way to the hour of the Cat. Time to close this for now.