Summary: A new witch finds a teacher and love.
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything Jossverse related.
Word Count: 1998
Many thanks to beadtific for her beta and suggestions. Any mistakes are my own.
Simon stared at the trunk, perplexed. He rubbed his dark brown hair, still not quite grown out from the military cut of a few months ago. Why Gran would bequeath her trunk to him was…curious, to say the least.
These last few months were an exercise in pretending. Pretending to be normal again, after surviving the horrors of war. Simon felt guilty every time he looked in the mirror and saw his own grey eyes, sunken and aged, looking back. So many others gone, much more deserving of life than a man barely living. The War chewed him up and spit him out, with a bad knee that would ache in bad weather and a hollow place where his heart used to be.
Now, in the almost familiar confines of his flat above the Travers bookstore where he worked, he bent his lanky frame over a piece of his lost childhood, and wondered what it meant. Something stirred inside him, woke up a little bit. Something about Gran’s trunk was familiar. He unlocked it, to see an envelope addressed to him in his grandmother’s handwriting, a shaky Spenserian script harkening back to Victoria.
My Dear Simon,
When you read this, you will undoubtedly believe that your dear Gran has finally gone round the bend. I assure you this is not so. I have a gift, a talent, and you share that talent. This trunk contains all the knowledge that I have collected through the years, records of personal experimentation and books from other witches. For that is what we are, Simon. Witches. Able to change things with a spell and controlled will.
The first book is my personal workbook. If you read through it, you will find exercises of a non-physical variety. Practicing those will hone your skills.
You have the potential to be much more skilled than I ever could dream. This power is a gift, and should not be used lightly. Use it in defense of yourself and innocents, for that is what witches do.
I have heard rumors of covens; however, I have no way of introducing you, as they are notoriously secretive. I can only hope that you are recognized in your potential and they contact you. I have given you everything I have, but it is no substitute for a proper teacher.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you not to tell anyone of this. You would be locked away in a madhouse, and you are far too clever to be wasted like that.
With all my love,
“Well.” Simon spoke aloud, and his voice echoed in the silence of the flat. “I certainly didn’t expect that.”
Simon added study of magic into his routine. He still breakfasted on eggs and toast in the mornings before stiffly walking down the stairs to open the bookstore at ten sharp. He still shared luncheon and tea with Mr. Travers (a former officer in the Royal Welsch, Travers owned the bookstore, and had some sort of rift with his family. Simon didn’t pry) and had dinner at the Green Broom Pub round the corner. Rather than spend every night at snooker and drinking, though, he went home two nights out of three to practice magic. He told the fellows down the pub that he was working on a novel, which seemed a fair enough excuse to all.
Gran’s workbook was relatively simple to follow, and Simon could almost hear her voice whispering in his ear. He was surprised as to how natural this felt—looking at the world with new eyes.
The earliest lessons dealt with seeing, rather than affecting the magic in the world. He practiced seeing auras. He was unsurprised to recognize the predatory aura of Master Tibbs, the cat and a faint blue one around the African Violet pressed on him by his sister. He practiced until he could shift his vision quickly, seeing auras and magical life force in the living things around him.
The glow pulsed stronger in some people than in others; sometimes he would meet someone—a customer perhaps—and guess how strong the light would be. Once he felt he mastered that skill, then he felt he would be able to move forward in his studies. Still, he longed for someone to talk to about his newfound abilities.
Then she walked into the store and into his life. She had dark brown hair that curled and was cut short in the new fashion, huge brown eyes that saw everything, and a lithe, slim body that made every movement a dance step.
Her aura didn’t just glow, it sparkled silver and white in a field of blue, like stars in the night sky. Simon only saw sparkles when he checked his own aura. A line from Gran’s book came to him; when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
She certainly did.
“May I help you find something, Miss?”
She smiled, and he was as dazzled by the smile as by her aura. “Certainly, Mr…?” Her voice held a slight accent. Was she perhaps one of the many refugees from the war?
“Richards. Simon Richards.”
She inclined her head politely. “Genevieve DuCharme.”
“Pleased to meet you, Miss DuCharme.” He managed to pronounce her name correctly and mentally thanked his Lieutenant for sending him on scavenging missions in the French countryside. “How can I help you?”
She glanced around and lowered her voice. “Mr. Richards, I believe it is I who can help you.”
Genevieve’s family was strong in magic, especially spells of knowledge and information. She used Gran’s books to teach Simon, partly because they were attuned to his particular strengths and because they were a link with his family. His talent was healing magic, both of the body and of the mind.
There were many types of spells, and while having an affinity for a certain area made those spells easier to use, it didn’t preclude using other types of magic. Genevieve taught him a variety of protective spells, both defensive and offensive. As a witch new to his powers, he was extremely vulnerable to meddling from those with less than pure motives.
They discussed his ability early one evening while on a stroll together. Simon had been studying magic for nearly four months, and Genevieve took this time to explain some of the dangers he might face. “As a healer, you can also harm. There are those who would want to use you, force you to heal when you are beyond your strength, or make you hurt others.” The brisk March wind threatened to blow Genevieve’s hat away, but she clutched it to her head tightly.
Simon bit his lip before replying. “I’ve, well, never felt comfortable around sick people. In hospital, on the front…I don’t see how healing is my talent.”
She smiled, and he was enchanted by her all over again. “That is because you had no way of channeling it. Your power slumbered, only to be awakened when you started the exercises.” She linked her arm in his. They were strolling through the Public Gardens, only now starting to recover from the neglect of her gardeners going off to war.
Simon patted her gloved hand. “Does this mean I have to become a doctor, then?”
Genevieve shook her head, short waves of hair catching on her earrings. “Not at all. Your path will reveal itself to you, just like the magic. Just as I have.”
Her expression gave Simon the courage to ask the question he wanted to ask for the past few months. “Genevieve, would you like to go out to dinner with me? Perhaps Saturday evening?”
The elusive dimple in her cheek showed as she laughed. “Oui, Simon, I would be delighted to join you for dinner on Saturday.”
Simon couldn’t help the grin that spread over his face. “That’s wonderful. Wonderful.” They walked along in silence, turning out of the park and onto the street that led back to the bookstore. Simon looked down and saw the tiny crease in her forehead—a sign that one of her pre-set spells was bringing her information. “Genevieve?”
“Something is very wrong—at the bookstore!” Genevieve took his hand and pulled him towards the store. Together they pelted down the street.
Once there, Simon could see no outward sign of danger except… “The Closed sign is up. Early.”
Genevieve nodded. “I think there is something in there with Mr. Travers.” She turned and grabbed the lapels of his wool coat. “Simon, you do not have the experience to deal with what is in there.”
“I’m not letting you do it alone!” Calm swept over Simon, the familiar peace before a battle.
Genevieve stared into his face, and came to some sort of decision. Quickly she stood on tiptoe and pressed her lips to his briefly. “You must do exactly as I say. No hesitating.”
Stunned, Simon agreed, and followed her around to the back door. Simon had a key, and they eased inside. Angry, growling voices barked orders, and he winced at the sound of a bookshelf shattering.
“Where are they?”
“I-I don’t know!” Travers sounded scared, and Genevieve’s hand tightened in his.
She put her mouth to his ear and whispered quickly. “Open yourself to me. I will control the energy. We must be quick—these are vampyr and they are very dangerous.”
“Yes.” Again, the preternatural calm suffused Simon’s body. He pictured the magical energy inside him flowing through his arm and into Genevieve. Together they moved to where they could see.
Three men, men with inhuman faces, surrounded Mr. Travers. One hefted Travers’ service pistol in his hand, the one he ‘forgot’ to turn in when he was mustered out, and the other two held the older man on either side, pushing him up against the counter. All three men wore the rough trousers and peacoats of dock workers, though it might have been a disguise.
Simon could feel Genevieve weaving a spell, quietly, subtly, so that the intruders would be taken by surprise. He knew he didn’t have her finesse, and simply kept the energy flowing into her as smoothly as he could.
The one holding the pistol seemed to be the leader. “Mr. Travers, no matter how much you pretend to be a mere befuddled bookstore owner, my master knows better. Where is the Council headquarters?” His cultured voice was out of place with his frightening features and low class clothing. The leader aimed the pistol at Travers. “A gut shot won’t kill you quickly enough, you know.”
As he cocked the gun, three pieces of wood from the broken bookcase, all splintered with sharp points, rose from the debris and zoomed towards the attackers. The first one hit the leader, directly in the back. He exploded into dust; pistol dropping harmlessly to the floor. An instant later, the other two hit their targets and they also turned to dust.
Genevieve slumped into his arms, unconscious.
After a fortifying pot of tea all around, the three discussed their relative secrets. Travers’ ‘family business’ was that of the Council of Watchers, a group dedicated to fighting evil and supporting the Chosen One. Travers apologized; who the Chosen One was and what her duties were wasn’t his secret to tell.
Genevieve and Simon admitted their witch powers, and Travers allowed that he did have some idea of it when he hired Simon and offered him the flat in the first place. “I don’t have much training,” he grumbled, “but I would have done what I could.” The older man glanced between the two and smirked into his teacup. “Though I too would have chosen so lovely a teacher, were I in your shoes, Simon.”
Simon looked into Genevieve’s eyes and took her hand. “It is a pleasure to learn.”
She smiled demurely and squeezed his hand gently in reply. His heart filled with love, and that was magic all on its own.