Crooked Stitches

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Chapter Five: Criminal

Leon walked into a room full of books.

Thick volumes that looked like they would make the floorboards groan under their weight. Several of them were under the floorboards, in fact. Leon couldn't understand what the print inside of the books meant, but he could clearly see detailed pictures of bodies on the pages.

Sitting on the bed, surrounded by several open books, was Seon. He ran a hand through his thick black hair and let out a grunt of annoyance before turning his attention to another book. He was bathed in candlelight. His face was twisted in concentration that made him look much older than he was.

"Seon...?" Leon asked drowsily. "What are you doing?"

Seon looked up from his book and bluntly answered "studying" before returning his attention to the book.

"In the middle of the night?" Leon asked. He rubbed his eyes. Honestly, they hurt just looking at all of these books.

"'Course. I have to study when Papa's sleeping." He swiftly shut one of his books and stowed it away into the open space of the floorboards. He immediately grabbed another volume that was scattered about the room to replace it.

Leon crossed his arms. "So you're still going through with this magic thing, huh?"

Seon looked up from his books and gave his brother a weary smile. "Yup."

Leon shut the door behind him. "If you're going to keep it a secret, you should at least keep the door closed." He started nudging books into the shadows. "Papa might wonder what you're doing up this late."

"Oh. Oops!" Seon rubbed the back of his neck with a sheepish grin on his face.

Leon could barely believe it. It was still his brother and he was the same person, but now he was a sorcerer... A criminal...

"Hey," Seon said. His tone was serious and his face was stony. "Stop looking at me like I'm going to hurt you. Only bad guys would hurt you on purpose for no reason."

Leon felt guilt grip at his stomach. "I know you wouldn't hurt me, but..." Leon averted his eyes and looked to the ground.

He could hear the other elf put a book down and get off the bed. Seon's hands soon were on his shoulders. He looked up to see his older brother giving him a tired smile.

"If you're still worried that I'll get in trouble, I won't be!" He gestured to the room full of books. "Some day... we'll be allowed to use magic again! Then nobody will get in trouble for it ever again!"

Leon tilted his head. No matter how much Seon openly fantasized about it in front of him, a world where magic wasn't illegal was still hard to wrap his head around. "When will that be?"

Seon's smile faded a bit, but then came returned at full force. "When the king finally realizes how useful magic can be! Or maybe when someone uses it to cure that son of his." He smirked. "I'd love to prove it just to rub it in his snooty face myself."

Leon let out a giggle at that. Seon visibly relaxed and released his shoulders.

Seon walked over and went back to his place on the bed. Leon sat on the edge, he took care to make sure none of the books nor candles would fall over.

"What's it feel like?" Leon asked quietly.

Seon shrugged. "It's hard to put into words. When you cast a spell, it feels like lightning's going through you, but it doesn't hurt."

"So... numb?" Leon guessed.

"I suppose that's one way to put it," Seon said. "Want to me to teach you so you can feel it for yourself?" Seon grinned as he looked at his brother's panicked face.

Leon shook his head frantically. "No! I don't want to be a criminal!"

"But remember those brothers who robbed the king once? They were pretty cool," Seon joked.

"They were executed, Seon!"

"Details," he scoffed.

"Seon!" Leon whined.

"Alright, alright," Seon said with a wave of his hand. "I won't teach you any spells, but can I at least teach you the laws?"

"You mean laws you mentioned earlier? The things that the fairies take you away for?"

"Yeah." Seon shut several of the opened books and stored them away. He continued until there was only one was left. "Ready?"

"Where did you get all these books about magic, anyways?" Leon asked.

"Mama left them," he answered. "She hid them from Papa because he never really liked magic to begin with. Now can I teach you or did I just stop studying for no reason?"

"No, go ahead, Seon. I'm listening." Leon pulled his legs onto the bed and to his chest.

"Alright." He pulled the book up closer to his eyes. "The first law of magic is 'You shall not create life using magic.'"

"Why not?" Leon asked. "Wouldn't that be a good thing?"

"The explanation here is that a kingdom tried to make an army using magic once," Seon explained.

"Which country?"

"It doesn't exist anymore. That's how badly that plan went." Leon shuddered. "Yeah. That's why they made that a law. The second law is 'You shall not intentionally kill someone through use of magic.' The reason there is obvious. The third law is not to take a fairy's wings."

"What's the story behind that?"

"People used to think that fairy wings would be powerful ingredients for potions so they would kidnap fairies and rip off their wings. They put that law there to stop people from doing that. Next there's..."

"...Lastly, 'You shall not permanently force emotion with magic.' It so that people don't get forced into doing things that they don't want to do. Like force someone to fall in love or force someone to be happy so that they don't mind... Huh?"

Seon paused from his lecture to see that Leon had fallen asleep. The elf's hair lay spread around his head like a dark crown. His small chest was gently rising and falling with his snores.

Seon smiled fondly and shut the book. He stored away the book and the candles; then quietly replaced the floorboards. He wrapped Leon with the quilt and lay on the bed beside him.

"Goodnight, Leon," he murmured.

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