Mellisande hurried ahead, opening the door to their suite and clearing a path to the wide, comfortable day bed tucked against the far wall of the sitting room.
Alec threw her a grateful look as he went to put Kid down. Small hands clung desperately as the flailing turned to grabbing.
“Please, I’ll be good, no, please.”
Alec sat, Kid still held close. Mellisande joined them, wrapping her arms around both to hug against Kid’s back, then stroking his hair, murmuring soothing nothings as Alec kept one arm tight around Kid, and extended the other to encircle Mellisande and pull her closer.
As Kid’s sobs began to ease, he spoke, “Now does this feel like we think you’re bad? Or that we’re going to punish or abandon you?”
Lady Aurelia looked around as Nora entered the room.
“The boy’s fine. a singed boot and a few blisters around the top. Skin’s a bit pink and tender but it’ll be back to normal in a couple of days. I’ve seen worse with a simple sunburn.”
“And his father?”
“Came in all bluster and noise. He was shut down rather quickly by his wife. She’s furious with both of them. How’s Kid?”
Lady Aurelia tilted her head toward the group on the day bed, “He seems to have gained a new set of parents and is currently butting up against Alec in a battle of wills.”
The seated pair remained cuddled around Kid, as Alec entered the conversation.
“Nora, when Kid was with you, would you say any of his nightmares were related to the use of magic?”
Nora thought, then sighed, “I couldn’t say. It’s certainly possible, but he generally either couldn’t, or wouldn’t, remember them.”
Alec shifted and Kid clung, whimpering.
“I’m not going anywhere, I’m just getting comfortable so you can take your time in telling us why you’re so scared of magic lessons when you’re so comfortable using it to read people.”
“People can’t see that. Magic they can see is bad.”
Kid refused to answer.
“You’ve just done magic we could see. Now read us. Are any of us angry with you? Do any of us think you’re bad?”
The only response was a head shake that could have meant anything and Kid’s face pushed harder into Alec’s shoulder.
Alec looked to their audience for help but was met by concerned bafflement.
The impasse was broken by Nathan’s arrival, “I’ve got three of Your Grace’s best magic users stopping by in an hour or so for Kid to assess.”
He paused, taking in the scene before him, then strode forward, “Right, my turn, hand him over.”
Alec and Mellisande looked at him in confusion, even Kid’s head came up.
“What? Don’t I deserve a hug for running all over the castle, looking for a magic teacher who’s going to be fun rather than boring?”
Kid’s lower lip wobbled, Nathan crouched down in front of him, “Two of the people coming to see you even taught magic to the king when he was younger and he’s pretty good at it.”
Kid’s eyes rounded, “The king does magic you can see?”
“All the time. Well, not ALL the time, but I never have to bother with fire lighting tools when we go hunting with him.”
Kid looked to Alec, who nodded in confirmation, “He says it’s very useful to have on hand, especially in trade negotiations. The magic that is, not setting things on fire.”
Mellisande asked the question, “Trade negotiations?”
“He’s not as good at reading people as Kid, but he’s not bad and everyone then assumes he somehow knows more and they don’t try to cheat.”
“That’s not magic you can see.”
“He does plenty of that too.”, Lady Aurelia put in dryly, “In fact you’ll probably still find scorch marks on the south wall of the castle from the time he and Alec tried to magic up fireworks for a birthday celebration.”
Alec laughed, “I remember that, we ended up covered in soot, with no eyebrows and half deaf for a week.”
Kid gaped up at him.
“What? He’s my cousin, who else was he going to drag into mischief when we were growing up?”
“But did you get into trouble for doing magic?”
“No. We got into trouble for making a huge mess and doing something silly and dangerous. That magic was involved was incidental and really not important.”
Nathan claimed attention again, “So that sounds like fireworks aren’t such a good idea for magic practice, but can I still get a hug for finding people who can show you magic things that aren’t messy, and silly, and dangerous?”
The distress rose again, “All the magic I do is bad and dangerous.”
“Well you’ve clearly been taught to do it wrong then and need to learn new things that will let you do it right.”
Kid cast a huge-eyed appeal at Alec who remained unmoved, “Nathan’s right. The best remedy for something turning out badly is learning how to make it turn out well.”
Mellisande added her persuasion, “Just a little bit to start. You don’t have to do anything big or scary. It’s all about going a little bit at a time as you get used to being in charge of your abilities.”
Nathan pouted, “I’m starting to think you don’t appreciate all the care and effort I went to. I’m getting very hurt and upset.”
He won a tiny smile and a wobbly arm reached out and wrapped around his neck. Nathan rested his head against Kid’s for a minute, then gently straightened out of the embrace.
“We’ve still got a little bit of time before these people arrive to see you, so how about we tidy things up a little? I hate to say it Kid, but you’re all pink and blotchy, I think you need to wash your face, have a drink of water and maybe a bit of late lunch.”
Nathan’s words were the catalyst the others needed, water, a wash cloth and food were fetched and Kid fussed over until he scrambled free (to Alec’s silent relief) and chose a cosy corner of a sofa to curl up in, with The Lady next to him.