There was a tiny tree growing out of Pru’s hand.
She stared at it, her open mouth getting bigger and bigger as the tree grew. Like a time-lapse image, the trunk moved upward, branches pushed their way out, leaves unfurled, roots spread seeking soil.
She’d done that. With magic that came from within herself.
“Good work, Pru,” said Professor Barrett, his big, bushy eyebrows going up and his beard twitching in his version of a smile. “I knew you’d be able to get this.”
“It’s so beautiful,” she whispered.
I waited until the kids were asleep before approaching Dahlia about what happened. We met in the kitchen, where I poured myself a glass of water.
"So, what's up?" Dahlia asked, leaning across the table. She was wearing a sweater and dark pants.
"When Henry went missing this afternoon, he wasn't in the apartment."
"Bianca said you found him in his room," Dahlia said, but her voice went up at the end, almost making it a question. She raised an eyebrow, showing that what I had said didn't make sense to her.
“I’m fine, Dad,” Pru said, grinning as she hefted her suitcase. She was already looking around, smelling the air. Chatoyant College’s campus was even more beautiful than she’d heard. She’d grown up with trees and open land nearby, but there was just something more magical about campus.
Or maybe that was just wishful thinking. She didn’t really believe the stories she’d heard about Chatoyant College’s magic major, but it had drawn her here, and she hoped that at a school that taught magic she would find people more like herself than the boring trend-followers at her high school.
"Have you seen Henry?" I asked.
Bianca looked up from the mural she was painting in the Astronomy Hub.
"Why would I have seen Henry? He's never down in this section. The doors are locked," she said, turning back to the wall and dabbing on some paint with her brush.
"Well, he wasn't in our quarters. I was making lunch for the kids, and I turned around and he was gone."
Bianca tilted her head back towards me abruptly. "Wait, you mean he's missing?" Her eyes were wide.
I nodded and she put down her paints and rushed towards me. My hands were a bit shaky.
Edie’s eyes went big. “What?”
“That was the point of this, right?” said Corrie, pushing herself to her feet. “I mean, not shapeshifting specifically. But to see what it is that makes faeries and werewolves different. If it’s the same thing that allows faeries to go to Faerie.”
“If you can do it, then you should be able to go to Faerie,” said Dawn. “If not, I guess we’ll have to keep looking. But wouldn’t it be easier if you could shapeshift?”
“I guess so,” said Edie, standing up slowly. Corrie took her place on the bed. “What did Charlie say to do?”
I folded up the paper and put it down on the end-table beside me. I looked at my best friend, Bianca, and took a deep breath.
"We both know that's impossible. Diggory died almost two years ago. Henry is coming up on his first birthday, and even accounting for gestation his conception would have been months after Diggory's death. Perhaps you're imagining some sort of similarity, all babies seem alike to me."
The television was playing.
“Billionaire Calla Wiley-Franklin has returned stateside after more than a year abroad. Viewers might remember Dempsey Franklin of Franklin Investments, who was killed in the 2008 Franklin Building explosion. His son Diggory Franklin took over the company until 2009, where he was put on trial for murder and then exonerated before his death that September. Calla, Diggory’s wife, inherited the company and the family fortune. What might this mean to the markets, Bob?”
Corrie laughed and shook her head. She didn’t believe that—she couldn’t. True, her father was a werewolf, but he’d asked her, the day they first met, about all the werewolf characteristics he could think of. She had none of them, except maybe an affinity for the phases of the moon, which she’d learned from her pagan mother and grandmother anyway.
“It can’t just be the strength of magic,” she said. “I mean… that’s too easy. And you said you weren’t very good at magic.”
Charlie reemerged, wearing a ratty bathrobe that was tied loosely around his waist. Corrie had to wonder whether he was wearing anything underneath that. Hopefully there was at least a pair of boxer shorts, in case he was in a strange position when he changed back.
But the clothes didn’t matter for their purposes, of course. They didn’t get in the way of seeing magic during trance.
“Okay,” he said, fiddling with the end of the bathrobe’s terry belt. “Are you guys ready?”