By the time the three potential magic tutors arrived, Kid was still tucked in his sofa nook but appeared to have regained most of his usual ebullience.
His light-spirited debate with Nathan over the relative merits of two different ways of playing a game they’d each grown up with (and which again pointed to a Stromsmere origin) tapered into silence as the three new adults were shown into the room and took up seats with an easy view of him.
He hunched over and clutched a fold of Mellisande’s skirt in one hand, watching the strangers with wary eyes.
Lady Aurelia introduced the arrivals as Roman, the castle’s chief healer; Astrid, their assistant chief archivist, and Torva, the head gardener. Kid’s head came up at the last and he gazed at the quietly collected woman in fascination, drawing a smile from her.
Alec took the lead in the conversation, “I’m not sure how much Nathan has told you but Kid here hasn’t been able to keep up his magic training. He’s fairly good at shielding and can mind speak with sensitives, and I presume other magic users. He is very good at reading people’s emotions and intent but has been bottling up everything except that talent for some time. The result was a bit of a magical mishap in the dining room earlier today. Damage was minimal but he needs to start practicing again to be able to safely direct and use his gift, and become more comfortable with it.”
“Implying he’s uncomfortable with it right now”, Astrid turned assessing, but not unfriendly eyes on Kid.
Lady Aurelia snorted, “I’ve only known Kid a few days but I’d say he’s one of the sunniest, sweetest tempered children I’ve ever encountered. The prospect of magic lessons triggered the most panicked, hysterical tantrum this castle has seen in years. I’m surprised Alec isn’t in need of your services Roman.”
Kid turned to Alec with a guilty, enquiring look.
“Just bruises Kid, I’ve had worse, although they were usually from people quite a bit larger than you.”
Roman asked, “Why are you called Kid? It’s an unusual name.”
Kid remained mute and Alec again took up the conversation, “When we found him, we addressed him as ‘kid’, and when we asked his name, he said he’d rather stick with Kid, so that’s what we’ve done.”
Roman hummed and then moved to crouch in front of Kid, “Would it be alright if I took your hand and assessed how strong your magic might be? It might feel a little tingly but it won’t hurt and it won’t do anything to you.”
Kid looked up at Mellisande who nodded encouragingly. He extended the hand not holding onto her skirt for dear life to the healer.
Roman took hold of it and focused, then flew back across the room, hitting a sofa and sitting there, slightly stunned.
Kid curled into Mellisande and started to whimper, “I didn’t, it’s not on purpose, I’m not bad, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
She wrapped her arms around him and looked worriedly at the dazed healer who shook his head and sat upright.
“No Kid, you aren’t bad and it most certainly wasn’t on purpose. You’re just very, very powerful.”
Kid looked around at him, shocked, “It’s not my fault?”
“It’s not your fault. In fact I’m very impressed at how strongly you control your magic. I looked over the burns that boy who teased you got and was impressed by your restraint then. Now I’m astounded.”
“But I hurt him.”
“Yes you did, and we need to help you find ways to react and use your magic that doesn’t hurt people. However, if you hadn’t kept such a tight hold on your magic, he would have been far more badly hurt.”
Mellisande added, “He says that magic you can see is bad. He’s not as uncomfortable with reading people, although I think that’s been reasoned out as basic self preservation.”
Astrid shuddered, “Can you imagine being able to read someone’s bad intentions towards you but being too small and powerless to do anything about it?”
This gave all of them pause and Kid returned their various gazes with an uncertain one of his own.
Torva spoke, “He can start with me, growing things, healing plants and the like, and we’re right in the season for bonfires if he needs to let some excess energy out. It’ll be less disruptive than Your Grace’s fireworks adventure with His Majesty.”
Kid giggled, then stopped when he realised they were all looking at him again, “I won’t do fireworks.”
Astrid smiled at him, “Spend time with Torva and with Roman, they’ll be able to help you understand what things your magic most likes to do and how it can help you do nice things for people. Once you’ve used up some excess energy and have an idea on how your magic behaves, you and I can talk about fireworks.”
Lady Aurelia looked at her in mock exasperation.
“Think about it Your Grace, the main reason the earlier incident was such a mess was because they didn’t talk to me until after the event. Much better to be prepared.”
Alec interjected, “As I recall, you were fourteen at the time.”
“And in training to care for items that are frighteningly susceptible to fire. I still knew more about fire magic than the two of you combined.”
Alec conceded the point and moved into scheduling times for Kid to spend with Roman and Torva in the coming days. Kid didn’t contribute to the conversation, but he was sitting forward and paying attention, the adults in the room were cautiously optimistic.