This comes after King(maker) Cake, King for a Day, After the Kinging, Stone: Aftermath, and Stone: After some Aftermath
Beryl and Stone both had a hand on the necklace that was their ancestor (or at least distant relative; neither had bothered to look up where he stood on the family tree, in part because that would require talking to the relatives who kept the family tree, and that might lead to some awkward explanations nobody wanted to get into).
::Very good. Now. Where to start?::
“What happens when you go against the will of the family?” Stone was whispering. His door was half-open, half-closed, because he and Beryl both thought this was more than a little weird and wanted to be able to shout for help if they had to.
::And it’s a good question, even if it’s an awkward question. So. Who’s the will of the family?::
Neither of them answered. In their heads, the necklace chuckled.
::Ah. I see you’ve both learned to spot an obvious trap before it bites you. You’re right, of course. It’s not the Aunt, it’s not the grandmothers, it’s not the young mothers and it’s certainly not the husbands and sons. But yet… it is.::
Stone looked at Beryl; she looked back and shrugged.
::Aw, you’ve learned too well. How am I supposed to have fun?:: the necklace sulked. ::All right, all right. The family will, like the family power, is a gestalt thing. But the will, unlike the power, is mob rule. It moves this way and that way all over the place, depending on the climate. So the problem is: what the family will is can change from day to day, much less from year to year. Like young Stone here.::
“Excuse me?” There were too many things that could mean, and Stone didn’t like most of them.
::The family was fine ignoring you, weren’t they? Nobody was going to be stupid enough to train you. Nobody was going to give you any more power – or, should I say, give you access to your own power. Given time, the family gestalt would soak up most of it, leaving you with enough to light a fire without a match or know when it was going to rain, probably. Petty stuff, the stuff any street-corner magician can do. That’s what the family does, you know. It collects power that’s not being used.::
“Wait, what?” Beryl stared at the necklace as if she could see if it was lying or not. Stone felt an urge to do the same.
“Say that again.”
::The family gestalt. What did you think the power the Aunt held was?::
“It’s our birthright…” Beryl said slowly. “The strength of the family. The power of the lineage.”
::Exactly. The strength of the family. The power of the lineage. It’s a lot more powerful now than it has been in the past. That’s part of the reason – though I bet from what I hear in your voices that most people don’t know this – that they can afford to have so many non-Aunts wandering around doing magic. You. Rosa. I bet everyone does a little more than their ancestors did.::
“Because…” Stone frowned. “We have more power?”
“Because we have more family!” Beryl sat up straighter and grinned, and then just as immediately deflated. “Wait. Wait, though. The family splits. It gets too big, and then it splits.”
::That’s the other sort of power, though. That’s the fact that a mob too big is too hard to steer. Well, and it might burst a weaker Aunt, let’s be honest. That’s a bad thing, someone who can’t hold the power.::
“…but the family splits,” Beryl repeated plaintively, “so how are we more powerful now than we have been?”
::Two reasons. Maybe three. Let’s see if you can figure them out.::
“You sound like Mrs. Tyler,” Stone complained half-heartedly. “Okay, so. Big families. There’s four of us, most of our cousins have two or three in the family, and it spreads like that. So even with splitting, you get bigger families.”
::That’s one.:: It sounded like the necklace approved. Stone still wasn’t sure how he felt about that.
“Oh! Oh, we suck in other powers. I mean, that sounds violent but-” Beryl ducked her head. Stone was pretty sure she was thinking about their dad.
::That is right, yes. What about your Jake? Does he have power?::
“Still figuring that out,” she muttered. “He doesn’t run away screaming, at least.”
::Even if you don’t want to be the Aunt, you might think about what bringing a powered person into the family will do,:: the necklace murmured. ::Think long and hard, dear.::
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1289780.html. You can comment here or there.
This comes after King(maker) Cake, King for a Day, After the Kinging, and Stone: Aftermath
“Stay here.” Beryl had the bossiness of the family down to an art form, especially the way she seemed to have convinced herself that she wasn’t actually bossy. Stone would’ve been impressed, if she wasn’t his sister. His little sister.
“It’s my room.”
“Yep. Stay there anyway.”
“Not going anywhere.”
Their parents had dealt with having four children in an imbalance of genders in a three-bedroom house by splitting both kids’ bedrooms in half, so Stone’s room wasn’t exactly spacious, but it was his, and he guarded it as jealously as a king would his castle. Beryl – who wanted the same respect, and got it from him, at least – knocked and waited in the open doorway.
“Radar’s off being – well, being a tomcat, I imagine – but here’s Joseph.” She said it with frankness that probably got her in trouble with people in school.
Speaking of being fiercely overprotective, Stone knew exactly what he’d do to anyone who said anything unkind about his sister in his hearing. He’d only had to do it once for Chalce, and if he was lucky, she’d never find out.
He looked down at the necklace. It sparkled in his hand, blue gems in an antique setting.
“Well?” Beryl looked nervous, he thought. “Are you waiting for an engraved invitation?”
Stone sighed. At least his friends – unlike Chalce’s – were unlikely to barge in unannounced.
He put the necklace on and closed the clasp. It made the hair on the back of his neck stand up and his fingers twitch, but Aunt Rosaria had suggested he talk to the thing, and he was fairly certain she wasn’t trying to trap him or hurt him.
::The thing. Seriously.:: The voice sounded as if it were right next to his ear, like an old and amused grandfather who knew a few things. ::My name is Joseph, and I’m your great-great-something grandfather. And you, then, are Beryl’s brother Stone. The one with the spark.::
Stone cleared his throat, and then didn’t say anything out loud. Aunt Rosaria suggested I speak with you. He formed the thoughts carefully in his mind.
::Rosa! She wore me once – as a necklace, young man, and nothing more. I’m older than that generation, you know. I’ve been around for a while. Far longer than I was planning on sticking around, i can tell you that.::
Stone coughed out a laugh. “The family has a habit of doing that to you.” So what if Beryl was still in the room? It wasn’t like she didn’t talk to her necklace too.
::But hrrmm… Why would she want me to talk with you, and vice versa? Let me see, let me see… It seemed to be humming in Stone’s mind. It? He. ::Well, I supose there are several reasons. One is that someone needs to give you the talk about what happens when a mare and a stallion-::
“Had that one, thanks!” Stone yelped. Beryl giggled, and he glared at her. “What?”
“That’s the face I think I made when Joseph offered to explain to me where foals came from.”
“Yeah.” He looked away. His little sister… no. He sent the mental version of a glare at the necklace – at the personality in his mind, at least. Nobody as old as Joseph should be talking to Beryl about any of that.
::I meant no disrespect, I assure you. She is a powerful woman, and it will behoove her to know exactly how powerful she can be. But let me see – no, if not that talk, then I imagine you must have power. And since the family deals so very well with power in men, you’re going to need some help::
“Aunt Rosaria’s gonna teach me,” he muttered.
::Well, and hasn’t life gone in changed since I was en-stoned? Ha, a stone grandfather for a boy named Stone. We’ll suit, my boy, we’ll suit well. And now, hrrm. I imagine the lesson is “What happens to people who go against the will of the family?” and, just to be fair – which I’m going to note I wouldn’t always be – exactly what counted as going against the will in this case. Now, I know this sounds creepy, but if you can get your sister over here, we can explain this to both of you at once.::
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1278737.html. You can comment here or there.
This comes after King(maker) Cake, King for a Day, and After the Kinging.
“I would ask your sister to borrow her necklace some day. Or her cat. There are worse things the family can do to you than kick you out or bind your power, and they have done them all at one point or another.”
Stone chewed over those words for a week before he let himself even think about doing anything about them.
It wasn’t like he didn’t have other things to think about. Classes were back in session, he still had a few relatives hassling him about the trinket he’d gotten in his muffin, and something over the Christmas break – he hoped it wasn’t the rabbit trinket, really, really hoped it wasn’t – had gotten him a little more attention in school than he normally had, or than he felt comfortable with.
Jenny Connor had literally followed him home from school the other day! She’d been talking to Chalce, so he hadn’t noticed she was even on the bus – his sister was popular, even if she didn’t drive to school; she was always talking to someone – and tried to follow him into his room.
Chalce had put a stop to that and sent Jenny away, but it didn’t leave Stone feeling particularly sanguine about school.
It took a week for all that to die down – or at least, for his sisters to run enough interference that it looked like it had died down. In that time, Julie Fenway had stopped talking to him, which… he probably should have expected, all things considered, but just left him grumpy and not willing to talk to anyone female.
He didn’t so much decide to ask Beryl as decide it was a good way to get rid of her quickly when she showed up in the doorway to his room. It wasn’t the nicest thought… but he’d really hoped he had a chance with Julie, and now she wouldn’t even answer his texts.
“Hey,” Beryl tried. He knew he’d been snotty lately, but Stone couldn’t bring himself to say more than “hey.”
“Is there anything I can…” She shrugged awkwardly.
“Actually… Aunt Rosaria said I should talk to your necklace. And, uh. Your cat.”
“I can’t guarantee anything from Radar, but I can bring Joseph over.” She squinted at him. “Is Aunt Rosaria threatening you?”
“Threatening? No. I – I don’t think so. She said she’d teach me.” Stone wrinkled his nose. “I don’t know, but I think she’s worried about the rest of the family threatening me.”
“Screw ‘em.” Beryl frowned fiercely. “If they want to threaten my brother, they have to go through me first.”
Stone didn’t have the heart to tell her exactly how un-intimidating that was.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1270967.html. You can comment here or there.
The meme is here: Give me the names of two characters and I will tell you why character A loves character B.
Here is kelkyag‘s third prompt. Beryl and Stone are from the Aunt Family.
Beryl knew how most girls at school were with their big brothers.
In her opinion, much of that was because their big brothers were big jerks, but she had noticed that was the way family dynamics seemed to flow, outside of the Family.
(She made an informal study of such things, because she didn’t really want to marry a cousin, should she end up marrying someone, and so she didn’t want to be lost the way her father said he’d been, way back when.)
But Stone wasn’t like that. Stone helped her with her homework, and, once, showed her how to cast a charm so her worst bully tripped over his feet every time he got close. And they talked about spellwork together, and she showed him secret tarot spreads and tricks with the tea leaves.
She told him Maddy Spinner was no good for him, too, but she was pretty sure any sister would’ve done that.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1257240.html. You can comment here or there.
School started tomorrow, and he had never, ever, not since kindergarten, been so happy to be going back to school.
At the moment, he was cornered by his Great-Aunt Rosaria, who was, he had to admit, one of his favorite relatives – normally. Right now, he didn’t want to see another Family woman as long as he lived.
It had started with his mother, because nobody was going to argue her precedent, and then with his grandmother, because Eva was too polite to argue with her. And then Eva, Beryl and Chalce and even Amy, his sisters taking turns asking him questions that ranged from ridiculous (mostly Amy) to far too penetrating (Beryl),
Most of their family branch lived within three wide country blocks. The rest lived not all that far away, Uncle Hector and his wife Jennifer being the furthest at a thirty-minute drive by highway. Heck, there was even a very small cadet branch of the family, split three generations ago but growing with glacial slowness, living up on the lake in a nice row of cottages.
Stone was fairly certain he’d seen every woman over the age of twelve – some younger – and maybe a quarter of the men in both families. All he wanted to do was climb up in the tallest tree he could find and never come down.
“Come on.” Great-Aunt Rosaria offered him her hand. “You like Basil’s, right? The little diner down on the corner?”
Stone blushed. What he liked was Basil’s daughter Samantha, but he wasn’t going to admit that to his aunt, to any of his aunts. At least if Samantha was working, she wouldn’t look at him funny for being there with his old aunt. She seemed to get it – the family, the magic, the whole thing – without him ever have said a thing about it.
Rosaria patted his shoulder. “I thought so. Well, that’s a good thing, too. Healthy – at your age or any. So let’s take a little drive down there, shall we?”
“All right, Great-aunt Rosaria.” It’s not like he could say anything else.
It wasn’t until they were in Rosaria’s surprisingly new and surprisingly fast little Chevy coupe that she actually looked at him, the way only some of Stone’s female relatives could, and grinned. “Besides,” she said, out of nowhere, “If we’re out at Basil’s, nobody’s going to bother you about your little, ah, ‘accident’, now are they? You know the family doesn’t talk about such things in public, even if Basil spends so much time feeding us he’s practically family.”
Stone stared at her for a minute. “You’re rescuing me?” Or, at least, she thought she was rescuing him. “Why?”
“Well… let’s just say I have my reasons. Listen, young man. You were going to have the power whether or not you bit a rabbit. Heck, for all we know, Zenobia being who she was, she put that rabbit where it was just so that eventually you would bite it – but either way, Stone, you already had power.”
He looked out the window, shifting in the suddenly-uncomfortable seat. “I’m not supposed to.”
“Oh, the family has done many, many foolish things, but foremost among them is that ridiculous belief. You have power. You won’t be the Aunt, not with so many willing female candidates – and I’m sorry, but Beryl is just a stronger witch than you are – but that has never meant ‘without power’, any more than having children has meant it, or any other of a dozen things. It just means you aren’t the conduit of all the Family’s power.”
“You’re not upset?”
“Stone, dear, eventually I will tell you the story, how I learned how much malarkey and balderdash is involved in such family myths – but not today. Today, I imagine you don’t want anything to do with a batty old lady’s batty old theories.” She winked cheerfully at him.
He did not tell her to keep her eyes on the road, because Stone valued his life. But he did clutch to the armrest.
“Speaking of the power, that’s something to pay attention to. Notice the relatives to whom little inconveniences just don’t happen – and the ones who get more than their fair share. Notice the relatives who have too much good luck – there is such a thing, I promise you – and the ones who never seem to get a break.”
“So, like Jordan?” His younger cousin had never made any team, never been picked for anything, despite being a phenomenal athlete.
“Jordan is a lovely example, yes. When you get a chance to do so quietly – do you have a Tarot deck?”
“I have what Aunt Eva calls a cheater deck,” he admitted. He hadn’t even told his mother that.
“We ought to get you set up with a proper deck. We should have someone paint you one, I know a cousin of a cousin… but in the meantime, the cheater deck will do. Do a spread on Jordan, if you can — nearby but not in sight is best for this sort of thing.”
Stone took a moment to come up with a response. He stared out the window, watching the cows and the fields go by. “Aunt Rosaria… are you giving me homework?”
“It does sound that way, doesn’t it?” He couldn’t look at her right now, couldn’t, but her voice sounded amused.
“And you — you want to have someone paint me a real deck?” The family used hand-painted decks for almost all of their card divination, and painting the decks was a very specific skill — like Aunt Zenobia’s animals. Nobody else had made animals quite like hers, and most people didn’t try.
“Well, everyone knows you get better results with a hand-painted deck. You did know that, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, of course. It’s just…”
“I won’t ask Eva to teach you — even though we both know she’s already been doing just that. She needs to train the next Aunt, and a back-up — don’t look at me like that, nephew.”
Stone had whipped around at the word “back-up.” “Beryl…”
“Easy now, Stone, easy.” Rosaria patted his leg in a manner that was supposed to be soothing, he thought and, much to his surprise, actually settled him down.
The power didn’t reside just in the Aunts, he reminded himself.
“My sister,” he complained, still not as calm as he imagined she’d like him to be.
“Your sister is a nice smart girl who can take care of herself. But she might take herself right into a baby or a marriage if your mother or your aunts and uncles don’t stop pushing her, and you know that as well as I do. Or, heaven and the stars forbid, there might be an accident. We need back-ups, Stone, and Evangaline needs to teach them. It’s just reasonable.”
Stone sighed. “Reasonable,” he agreed. “I don’t have to like it.”
“Of course not. Liking things is never required. But it helps. Like training you.”
“Training me? What?” He stared at Rosaria, momentarily distracted from the theoretical threat to his sister’s wellbeing. “I’m a boy.”
“I hadn’t noticed, back when I changed your diapers, or what with that little weed of a beard you have coming in,” Rosaria answered dryly. “You’re a boy, yes. And I’m old enough and crotchety enough that nobody but Evangaline is going to naysay me on this. And do you think she will?”
Stone swallowed. “I — I don’t think so? Aunt Eva likes me, I think.”
“As well she should. There is nothing wrong with you, young Stone, and there is a good deal right with you. So I am going to train you. That is,” and here Aunt Rosaria actually looked uncertain for a moment, “if that is what you want?”
Stone held out his hand and thought about the power flowing through it. He had a lot of it, he knew, and not just because he’d bitten that rabbit. And sometimes, when he wasn’t paying attention, it bubbled out in strange ways. “My mom,” he said slowly, “she said I had to hide the power, or I would end up in trouble. That sometimes the family kicked out people who had the power but weren’t the Aunt, or sometimes they, um, they took the power away —”
“That,” Rosaria cut him off sharply, “is a disgusting ritual and one that has only been used once in all the history of our family. However,” she added, suddenly far more softly, “I would ask your sister — Beryl, that is — to borrow her necklace someday. Or her cat. There are worse things the family can do to you than kick you out or bind your power, and they have done them all at one point or another.”
Stone found his hands clenching into fists. “I don’t like the necklace. I haven’t, right from the beginning. Something is wrong about it. Something is… Off.”
“There is, indeed, but it can’t hurt your sister nor you. He can’t hurt anyone anymore, that’s why he’s a necklace. But think about some of your less pleasant relatives-”
“Which flavor?” Shit, he wasn’t supposed to say things like that in front of Aunt Rosaria. That was the “kids” hanging out gossiping sort of chat, not the kind of thing you said to your great-aunt. He stared out the car window, wondering why it was taking so long to go down a quiet country road.
She snorted. “Not nosy, not smelly, and, at the moment, not a faker. No, I’m talking about the ones who feel like everything you do is their business and their say-so.” Her hands were on the wheel and she was driving. They were even going a reasonable speed. And yet he was pretty sure he’d already seen that cow twice.
“I thought you said not nosy.” Stone focused on the part that he had a chance of understanding.
Rosaria indulged him. “There’s nosy like your Aunt Tasha, who wants to know who you’re kissing and why. Then there’s nose like your Aunt — no, she’s your cousin. Stephanie. Who thinks she ought to be telling you who to kiss. And why.”
Stone gave that a moment of consideration. “So, we’re talking about people who want to run my life. More so than the rest of the family.” Damnit, he was doing it again. What was it about Aunt Rosaria that turned him into an idiot?
“Exactly.” She turned and beamed at him. There was that same cow again. Still chewing on the same plot of grass, too. “So. Think about them. Now imagine them with the power to, for instance, create another necklace like your sister’s.”
Stone swallowed. “They would be shutting up everyone they didn’t agree with. And they never agree with anyone.”
“Exactly. Now, as I was saying. There are any number of awful things that can happen, but I am old and crotchety and you are young and strong, and we are not going to let them happen to you. Not this time.” She glared at him for a moment, but Stone recognized the look. Sometimes Beryl had a similar expression. It meant her anger had nothing to do with him.
Still, he swallowed. “Yes, Aunt Rosaria.”
She patted his leg one more time. “Now, then. I might have put this off longer, but you’ve gone and chewed on one of Zenobia’s trinkets, and that means I have to hurry a bit about the training. The heavens and the demons alone know what she got up to, and I don’t want something sprouting out of you at school or some such.”
Stone twitched. There were family stories of things like that happening, but they were all rumors of something that happened in another time, somewhere far away, to someone’s distant cousin. “I don’t — yeah, no. That would be horrid.”
“Your school is a little more in the pocket of the family than is probably a good idea, but still, yes. So I’m going to train you, and anyone who has a problem with it can bring those problems to my door. And I expect you to tell them that, young man, in that so-diplomatic way I know you’re so good at.”
“…Yes, Aunt Rosaria.” They were finally turning off the back-road and onto the main road into town. Stone let out a breath quietly.
“And since I’m teaching you—” Aunt Rosaria sounded far too pleased with herself and a little amused. Stone held his breath again. “Yes, I’m giving you homework. Your cousin Jordan. Start with the Tree spread and then, if that doesn’t tell you enough, move on to some of the more esoteric spreads. And then, for good measure, do the same for your sister. Not Beryl, Chalcedony. Got it?”
Stone stared at her. He wasn’t any less cornered, he realized — maybe more so, because Aunt Rosaria was a bit terrifying — but he wasn’t stuck, and he wasn’t being told he had to control himself, or his magic, or anything. “Yes, ma’am.”
Hopefully, he’d actually get his diner visit out of this, but if not, he supposed the look on people like Stephanie’s face when they realized Great-Aunt Rosaria was teaching him would be compensation enough for a missed lunch.
“Damnit,” Stone swore, and immediately wanted to swear again, because you didn’t use words like that in front of the family adults. “My…” He meant to say my tooth, but as he fished the piece of metal out of the muffin, he started to feel strange. “… ooooh.”
He realized everyone was looking at him, and his survival instincts, which appeared to have been taking a nap up to this point, finally kicked in. He looked at his nearest male cousin — Geoffrey, who had the advantage of being just about as phlegmatic as family men were supposed to be — and muttered, “tell ’em I went out for a walk if they ask. Picking walnuts or something?”
Geoffrey eyed the little gold rabbit in Stone’s hand and nodded. “Walnuts. They’re in the back,” he offered in a mutter.
Stone wanted to retort that he knew where the walnuts were, thank you, but it had been years since he’d run around his grandmother’s back yard picking walnuts or cherries or mulberries. It wasn’t so much that he grew up as his sisters had, and Stone found Grandma Ardella incredibly uncomfortable without Beryl or Chalce to act as a buffer.
And now he had to pick some walnuts. He slipped out the side door, the one they weren’t supposed to use, and made sure it was firmly closed behind him, and slipped down past a row of trees, so he couldn’t be seen from the house. He would go get walnuts, but first, he had to figure out what he’d just bitten.
The tiny figure was the size of one joint of his thumb, but the work on it was incredibly fine. He brought it up close to his face to really look at it — a rabbit, it looked like, on a curled leaf, its ears up. You could almost see its nose wiggle.
Stone turned it over. There, on the underside of the leaf, were two things: the world’s tiniest ladybug, cast in the same bronze as the rabbit, and an etched signature. Z, it said, in a wide florid letter.
Stone ran his tongue over his teeth. He hadn’t knocked anything loose, at least not anything in his mouth. What were they thinking, putting something this heavy in the cakes?
Considering the way his head was swimming, the more important question was what were they thinking, putting something this magical in the cakes?
The Z probably meant it was Aunt Zenobia’s charm. If it wasn’t — if it was some granny or some far-older Aunt or some cousin — Stone was a little worried, because at least Aunt Zenobia had lived in the Aunt House within creaky-but-living memory. Anyone else, any relative he couldn’t bring to mind, that could be tricky. The stars and the earth-core alone knew what it could do, if it was one of the really old Aunts.
Okay, Rabbit. Brass. He had to focus, because he had to figure out exactly what they were going to do when they found out. Aunt Zenobia — figure it had been Zenobia for now — had been working with animals, he knew that. Something with little glass figures like that stupid creepy play they’d read in English, the one with the metaphors held up like road signs.
Stone hadn’t pointed out to anyone, yet, how growing up in a family of witches meant that you paid close attention to the way things were said, or how that translated to his straight-A’s in English. It wasn’t that he thought his English teacher wouldn’t understand — it was that he was afraid Mr. Bonner would.
There were already enough rumours about his family going around. The last thing Stone needed was to make them worse by telling the one teacher who already seemed aware of what the world could really be like.
Rabbit. Brass. His tooth had stopped hurting. Stone ran his tongue over all his teeth, just in case he’d missed something. Nope, nothing hurting, nothing seemed like it was chipped or turned into a swan or anything.
But his head still felt like it was swimming. Right. Rabbits. Rabbits were all about, what, abundance? They’d done a unit on that in English class and poor Mr. Bonner hadn’t been able to stop blushing. Then again, when Ruth Decker kept glancing over at Stone, he’d been having a little trouble with the blushing, too.
Fertility, please, don’t let it be a fertility charm. He’d never hear the end of it. Sons might not be under the same pressure to marry that daughters were (Quick! before they became the Aunt!), but his mother wasn’t blind, and neither was Aunt Eva. They might try to push him into three-kids-before-nineteen just in hopes that it would kill the spark in him.
The spark, oh, no. Stone sat down on a nearby boulder and felt inside of him. He didn’t have cards or a scrying bowl or even a pen and paper out here, nothing to use as a focus.
The rabbit was warm in his hand. Stone fished a piece of leather thong out of his pocket and threaded it between the rabbit and the leaf. That let him dangle the little charm in front of him, where he could stare at it and feel for his magic.
The spark, the family called it. Boys weren’t supposed to have it, but Stone knew he wasn’t the only one. Social pressure might work that way, but genetics didn’t, not usually.
He took a deep breath. He didn’t want to do anything big, just, say, make the grass grow a little. It might be wintertime, but the snow had all melted a few days ago (the way it often did when the family needed to travel), and he could see the whole lawn spread out around him. A little bit of growth on the lawn would be small enough to escape notice. He didn’t want to call attention to what he was doing, after all, especially not here. Here, he risked get caught out by all the women in the house that wanted him to be snugly married and safely powerless. And as long as you didn’t get carried away, making the grass grow was one of the safer pieces of magic.
As long as you don’t get carried away might very well be Aunt Eva’s motto. He’d heard it at least once a visit since he started going over there with his sister and cousins.
He felt the life of the grass under him, felt the way it was all joined together, and called on it, just a spark, just a suggestion of power.
The spark seemed to catch a bit of tinder. It wooshed through him like a wildfire, wooshed out just as hot, just as fast, and every piece of grass in the lawn grew four inches.
“No, No.” Stone pushed at the grass, urging it with both hands, palms-down. Too much, too much The grass subsided, bright green, far too vibrant, but only maybe a quarter-inch longer than it had started out. “Phew.” He looked around the yard.
The daffodils were blooming. It was Christmas, and all the daffodils were in bloom.
He looked down at the rabbit. It looked like it was blooming a bit.
“Abundance, hunh,” he muttered. He could hear the front door opening. And the back door. And the side door.
And a window upstairs.
There was no hiding this. Stone put his face in his hands and waited for the storm.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1218989.html. You can comment here or there.
The Aunt Family has a landing page here.
The day before Thanksgiving was, by family tradition, a day spent at the Aunt’s house, cleaning, prepping food, and getting everything ready for the feast the next day.
It was two things notably: It was a day where the family chose to ignore all gender distinctions, and work as if everyone was one, and it was a day in which the Aunt of the family was expected to sit back and not do any heavy lifting, metaphorically, metaphysically, or literally.
Eva was, thus, hiding out in her kitchen, with Beryl and Stone, who were ostensibly sorting the cocoas to help Beatrix & Janelle make cookies. But, since they were sorting cocoa – and since Everyone Knew either Beryl was going to be the next Aunt, or they were going to have to throw everything on its head and let Stone be an Uncle, they were making cocoa, and talking to their Aunt Eva about scrying.
“So, there’s a whole bunch of things going on.” Eva swirled her cocoa and finished the last of the milk, leaving a long ring of grit at the bottom. “The first is simply focusing the Sight in a convenient medium – the cocoa. The second is the feelings you’ve got about doing something. So.” She focused on the swirl, and smiled as she saw a cozy family scene around the big fireplace in her living room. “Cocoa tends to tell you warm, happy things. See?”
She passed the mug to the brother-and-sister team, and watched their faces light up as each of them sent their Sight into the grit. This was going to be a generation to watch, indeed.
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“Have you see the tschotske of Aunt Zenobia’s? I left it by the sink.”
Grandma Ardella’s kitchen was, as it always was on Christmas morning, bursting to the seams with cousins, aunts and Aunt, daughters and granddaughters and the rare uncomfortable daughter-in-law, everyone with a purpose while all but the very brave of the men huddled in the living room, pretending to discuss sports. In the kitchen, Ardella herself presided, or tried to, although her sisters, as always, made that difficult, and her granddaughters were old enough to be both helping and far too controlling.
“That funny gold thing with the rabbit?” Fallon looked guilty. “That was a Zenobia thing? I thought it was part of the cake treats.”
“Oh, bloody hell.” Ardella frowned. “Well, pass me the mix and I’ll strain it out. It’s not the sort of thing you want getting in the batter for too long. It might leak.”
“Leak?” squeaked a daughter-in-law, what-was-her-name. Jane, maybe. “Was it a poison ring?”
“Nothing like that,” Aunt Rosaria laughed, bustling the girl out of the kitchen. “Help me find the jarred cranberries, Jenny, that’s a good girl.”
“Jaenelle,” she corrected weakly, but she’d be Jenny by the time the night was over.
“How bad of a leak?” Fallon asked cautiously, once Jane-Jenny-whatever was out of the room. “Are we talking the sort of thing like happened the year we let Aunt Asta make the cake?”
“Well, that certainly was an interesting year,” Ardella admitted. “And it could be. I hadn’t figured out what it did yet, and Evangaline is…” Is far too young, she didn’t say, although it was a close thing. “…has her hands full, with inheriting the House and everything.”
“It’s just,” Fallon continued unhappily, “I already baked the muffins, and they’re out on the tray.”
“The tray in the living room?” Ardella frowned. Once the menfolk got the cakes…
“Ow!” Her grandson’s shout echoed through the house. “Damnit,” and the boy knew better, even Hadelai didn’t raise her children that badly, “my… ooooh.”
Ardella put her face in her hands. This was going to be a long Christmas.
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