Marie Vandett dipped her quill into the ink pot yet again and carefully wrote her sister’s name at the top. Her family was almost discovered. They had to go. Her hand shook as she wrote her name on the envelope, spilling a little drop of ink.
Marie sealed the envelope and got up from her writing desk. The rest of the house was extremely modern, but Marie’s study was antique. Her desk was made of oak, and she had numerous ink pots, quills, and pages spread out. The bookshelves were filled with dusty old volumes, and the light rug on the floor was handwoven by Marie’s grandmother.
Marie had spent so long poring over the different maps on her study. She wanted her children to grow up in a non-magical community so they would learn how to keep the necessary secrets. She wanted them to feel “normal” in a way.
Pressing the envelope between her hands once more, Marie opened the small study window and whistled. Her eagle, Lucia, came down immediately. Marie reached out to pet the bird, talking softly to her. Finally, she gave Lucia the letter. Lucia grasped it in her talons and waited for orders.
“Go. Take it to Larissa,” Marie said simply, gesturing out the window. Lucia gave one last squawk and flew off.
Marie turned back to the maps. She had been up in her study for days, searching for a place her kids could live normally. She hadn’t been able to find any. Still, she pored over the pages again. “Drone, Larper, Fiscus,” she recited the names one by one. Every single one of them would shun her. She had reached out to her sister as a last resort.
Finally, for the first time in three days, Marie exited her study. She kept her hands on the railing as she headed downstairs. She could hear the laughter of her family downstairs as they conversed. Jolene was talking about a squirrel she had saved, and Sam was crying for some reason.
Marie arrived at the bottom of the stairs and tapped the wall twice with her knuckles. All conversation froze as they turned to her. Even Sam grew quiet. Finally, Mariana, the eldest, rose from the couch. She schooled her features to a bright smile, having gotten over her initial shock. “Hey, Mom! Is everything good now?” She asked brightly.
Mariana’s enthusiasm almost broke her. Marie looked at her six kids. Sam was quietly wiping off his tears, knowing how serious the situation was. Adam, a little older than Sam, was staring at her, waiting for her verdict. Then came Jolene, the gentlest of them all. She was silently petting her cat, Bluebell. John and Dakota, the twins, sat next to each other on the couch, quietly whispering to each other, holding back laughter. Mariana and Marie’s glare silenced them both.
Marie headed to her armchair and sat down. “Well, about that,” Her melancholy tone silenced even Dakota and John. “We might have to move. We can’t risk anyone finding out about us. We will have to leave everyone we know and love behind; I don’t want any of you keeping contact with anyone here. Are we clear?”
Marie’s no-nonsense approach was met with a few muffled yeses and nods. “Good,” Marie said, glad that there would be no debate. “I want you all to slowly start packing. I’ve sent a letter to Aunt Larissa. Let’s hope she accepts.”
There was no doubt about that, she knew, and so did her kids. Larissa loved the kids like they were her own and, although she had never approved of Marie’s marriage to a non-magical human, she had never faulted her for it. Larissa’s own children were close with their cousins. They would be excited about having them home.
Above all, Marie needed Larissa’s protection. She was a much better caster than Larissa, but she couldn’t take on too many people. When together, Marie and Larissa were feared by everyone. She needed that stability and security right now. Her family had almost exposed the magical world. Casters everywhere were angry.
Marie went to her bedroom to start packing. The children had already dispersed. She entered her bedroom and grabbed a large bag. Suddenly, she remembered something and hurried off to her study with the bag.
Marie made quick work of slipping all her writing instruments into their proper places in the bag. The ink had been enchanted with the Vandett Concealment, which meant only a Vandett could read it. It was a matter of blood and had often been used in the past to find out who had had an affair.
Hurrying back to her room, she fetched another bag. This one was larger and enchanted to hold much more than it seemed it could, without added weight. She began adding her books to the bag. Centuries of Vandett history, tradition, and culture had been stored in them. She never understood why she had the volumes and not Larissa, but she was proud to be the keeper.
“Mom,” the quiet voice interrupted her thoughts. She looked up to see Mariana in the doorway. “We talked and we’re sorry about causing all this. But do we have to leave?”
Marie’s eyes softened as she looked into her daughter’s hurt eyes. Mariana was a pretty girl of 17. She had dark green eyes after her father and the trademark Vandett red hair. Her skin had a faint glint to it, proof of the protection spell she casted every morning.
Mariana was in her first long-term relationship. He was a non-magical boy, but he was extremely sweet. Mariana was more focused on the traditions than Marie had been and she had always vowed that she would only marry someone magical. It came as a surprise to everyone when she announced that she and Jacob were dating.
Marie smiled gently and straightened. “It’s not about causing. It’s just a little dangerous for us to be here right now. You safety is my number one priority,” Marie said firmly.
There was a loud thud near the door. Marie suspected that her other children were listening in. She decided to ignore it. She had scolded them many times about eavesdropping, but she didn’t want to hurt them any more than she already had today.
“Go pack,” She called out, chuckling slightly at the scrambling that followed. There were shouts of “Sorry!” as they hurried off. “Look, Mariana,” she said, turning to her firstborn. “If we could stay here, we would. But we can’t,” she said, tears in her eyes.
She had put it simply. This town held memories for her. This was where she and Daniel had lived while he was alive. She had come here to learn more about non-magical people. She had definitely learned about their determination. She remembered how she had refused every single guy that had come to her. Most of them didn’t take it that well. Daniel took it in stride. Instead of continuing his advances and pressuring her, he had instead talked to her as a friend. He was much nicer than many magical guys she’d met.
Mariana opened her mouth to say something, then closed it and nodded. She got up silently and walked out. She was extremely sensible. She had played a large part in raising her siblings, and this had definitely boosted her maturity.
Marie sighed, turning back to the bookshelf. She hated doing this to her kids. But what other choice did she have?