Edda pointed Adam to the table when they walked back into the kitchen. He groaned, but went.
“What are you studying that’s so hard?”
“It’s science stuff – chemistry to be exact. I’m fine with physics, that’s fun, but chemistry just doesn’t like my brain, or the other way around.”
“Oh, you need to talk to my mum. She’s a potions witch and loves chemical formulas and things.”
Edda frowned, “Where do you get the nature magic from then?”
“My dad I suppose, I never met him. Mum said she wanted to be a mum and she met someone willing to help but they went their separate ways before I was born.”
Adam leaned back, “He must be pretty powerful to overwhelm your mum’s magic that much.”
“What’s your magic, or is it rude to ask?”
“Not rude. I’m a weird mix of Mum and Dad – mum’s nature and dad’s mechanical tech magic managed to spin out another tech witch, but with natural energy or something, so I affect electronics and electrical things rather than machines and moving parts.”
Millie tried to think this through. Tech magic was another thing she’d read about but never encountered.
“If your mum’s good at this stuff, how about you take a look at this and see if you can make any more sense of it than me.”
“I’m only twelve, I’m not going to know that stuff.”
Shaun looked around, “Give it a try Millie, and if you don’t understand it, it’ll be very good practice for him to explain it to you.”
Millie wasn’t convinced but pulled up a chair and the two soon had their heads together. Millie was surprised to find she knew more about chemical properties and reactions than she realised and Adam proved a good teacher on the areas she didn’t know.
They finished the work paper and Adam glared accusingly at his parents, “See! If you’d given me a baby sister years ago when I first asked, I would be doing way better at school now.”
Edda tried to keep a straight face, “But it wouldn’t have been Millie.”
“Good point, you’re forgiven.”
They were most of the way through dinner when Edda brought up something that had apparently been playing on her mind for a little while.
“Since the school you’ll be going to has a large number of magical and fae students, there’s a bit of a tradition that students joining for the first time have a genealogy test done. It’s useful for tracking secondary magic types that could affect your primary one. It’s not compulsory but most students do find it helpful and interesting.”
Shaun explained, “All the new students get it done as a group at the start of the school term, which you’ve managed to arrive just in time for.”
Millie lit up, “That sounds like fun. I’d love to find out what else I could do, or maybe shouldn’t do.”
“Sensible girl to remember the last bit. There’s just one little thing I’m worried about given how strong your nature magic is. The high magic and ruling fae families track the tests in case they have an unexpected addition to the family.”
Adam put down his knife and fork, “You think Millie’s dad might be in one of the big families.”
“It’s possible. I may be borrowing care but I’d prefer to fuss over nothing than not be prepared.”
“I could find my dad?”
“It’s possible, but it might not be a good thing. The high families aren’t the happiest groups to be part of.”
Millie sat up straight, “I want to know my magic and if that means I also get to find out who my dad is, then I’m okay with that.”
Edda remained worried, “It’s your right to know, but remember you can pull out any time you want. School doesn’t start until next week and the test will be a week after that. Gives you a tiny bit of time to settle in.”
“Hey”, Adam poked Millie, “I’m going to give you a phone kind of thing I’ve been making. But I’m only going to give it to you and show you how it works if you promise to tell me what happens straight away.”
“I promise. Why does it have to be a phone thing and not just a normal phone?”
“Normal phones don’t work around here, too much magical interference. The landline’s okay coz it’s physical wires but mobiles can’t make it through the magic waves or something.”
“You’ll be needing that chemistry homework then.”, Shaun said.
“You won’t be around to power it. She’s going to need you to rig up some sort of battery.”
Adam thunked his head on the table, “I hate it when bad homework turns out to be needed for real life.”
Millie had a sudden thought, “Do I need Mum’s permission for the test?”
“No, an apprentice is under the guardianship of their mentor so you only need mine.”
Later, Millie snuggled into her new bed, absorbing the unfamiliar sounds, knowing they would soon become her normal and hugged her new secret to herself. She might be able to find her dad. She fell asleep trying to imagine what he’d be like.
She woke the next morning to a visitor knocking on her balcony door.
Quoth cawed at her in welcome and invited her out to admire the morning. She took a few breaths of clean, green-scented air, standing on her very own balcony and let herself feel the space again. The happiness and love she sensed the day before was still there, and now, slightly beyond and behind, was a deep contentment. She thought it might be coming from the forest.
She smiled, then tipped her head at the large, glossy bird beside her, “I need to learn to speak raven don’t I? I can’t expect you to be always speaking human. Can Edda help?”
Quoth nodded, croaked approvingly and took off towards the pergola in the centre of the square.
“I’ll be out as soon as I’ve had breakfast. Um, if Edda says it’s okay.”
Washed and dressed, she walked into the kitchen, finding only Edda there, sipping tea and reading.
“Shaun is on a building project with the local blacksmith, I’m sure they’d love to show it to you if you want to stop by there later. And Adam is asleep after actually doing something about that battery last night. I never thought I’d see the day my son would be voluntarily doing chemistry. He even got a couple of his school friends on a conference call, trying to work out how to rig something up.”
Millie nodded, “Quoth came to say hello. I think I need to learn raven.”
“He would love that. We can make a start this afternoon if you want.”
“Yes please, and I think he wants to show me around now if you don’t mind. I told him I needed to check with you first.”
“It’s fine. Now that you’re here, I need to confirm with the school and officially register your apprenticeship with the Guild so this morning’s going to be boring paperwork and phone calls.”
Millie bounced, she’d never been this free before.
“Breakfast first though.”