Magic lessons

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I know this is late, I’m sorry… but the article was foremost in my head on Monday, yesterday was spent feeling “off” and today I woke up feeling so dizzy I actually thought I might have an inner ear problem until I got some salt and magnesium in me and realised it was just low blood pressure caused by yesterday’s stress (I nearly had a panic attack when a queen wasp came into the living room and burrowed into a duvet, and I had to get her out… I’m not phobic, she was just HUGE and I don’t even know if I’m allergic because I’ve never been stung). Short excerpt today, it’s not exactly about what I wanted it to be about, I’ll have to try and insert those parts of the story in elsewhere.

 

Over the next few days, between lessons, parties, and other activities, Arwyn got the distinct impression that not only was Orren watching her more than usual, but he was deliberately trying to keep her occupied. He woke her early and insisted she stay up late practising dances and glamour and all sorts of strange etiquette. Her lessons redoubled and became far more difficult – “You’re the one who wanted to learn true magic,” he reminded her when she complained – and she couldn’t shrug off the feeling that this was Orren’s revenge for proving that she didn’t need him. He was as patient and gentle as ever – more so in fact – and despite the fact that she knew he was doing it for his own purposes, she had to hide her smile every time he turned down Echo’s advances in her favour.

Echo was Orren’s lover and she hated Arwyn, but had Arwyn not spent so much time in Cat’s Court, things might have been different. Indeed, the first night of their triumphant return to the Borderlands, after the tearful reunion with their mother, Echo had sat next to Arwyn during the feast. Arwyn, her head still full of Cat’s Court manners and principles, had been relieved to have such a friendly neighbour – although a little disturbed by her dress (or lack of it). Only once the feast was over and the dances had begun did she realise that Echo’s friendliness was, in fact, flirting. Her reaction – influenced as it had been by her human upbringing – had, in retrospect, been more than a little hurtful, and Echo had never forgotten it. Even now, she still did her best to make Arwyn’s life miserable.

Luckily for Arwyn, Echo’s tricks no longer bothered her as much since the night she’d turned into a dragon. Echo’s usual game was to drag Orren away from his sister, who had been wholly dependant on him in the beginning and prone to panic when he wasn’t there. Now though, Arwyn grabbed the opportunity to seek out Tarendal – who people were starting to refer to as “Arwyn’s lover” and who Echo seemed to hate even more – and pester him for information about Cat’s Court. Her aim was to find out who she had been before she’d become Arwyn of the Border, but Tarendal – though delighted with the attention – knew very little about the girl called Darcy who haunted Arwyn’s dreams.

Echo was disappointed to find that not only did Arwyn not come looking for her brother any more, but the opposite happened: after a while, Orren tired of her, and insisted on searching for his sister, becoming more and more irritable the longer it took. After a while, he refused to see Echo at all.

Foiled, Echo tried a different tack: remembering how Arwyn had strived to fit in with Unseelie society, she did her best to humiliate her in public. This did not go down well with Orren either – he had become exceedingly protective of his sister since the incident with Rayth. Besides, even fitting in didn’t matter quite as much to Arwyn any more – finding out what Orren had hidden from her and mastering enough magic to prevent him from controlling her again had become her priorities.

She couldn’t let Orren know that, though. He was her teacher, after all, and if what he’d told her was true (and he’d said it plainly enough that it couldn’t be a lie), true magic, though not illegal, was feared and hated enough by the Unseelie that she would have trouble finding another.

“Why do the Unseelie hate true magic?” she asked one evening after another long, exhausting lesson.

“Because magic is what the Seelie used to create the Border between our lands, and steal the twilight from us so that we must live in perpetual darkness. It’s their fault we need esbats to keep us from wasting away.”

“Is this another story that everyone knows but me?”

He frowned. “You do know this one, I told you it when we were children.”

“I’ve forgotten it, then,” she said. “Tell me again.”

Orren’s face was drawn with fatigue, but he sat back down on her bed anyway.

“It’s a long story…”

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