The Fae Worlds

Unexpected Magic

Ava never would have known she had magic if it hadn’t been for the jack o’ lantern. At first it had seemed totally normal. She, along with her sisters, had made a jack o’ lantern every year since their mum disappeared, almost hoping one of them would guide her back to them. Unfortunately it hadn’t happened yet, and she’d been gone for seven years, so it seemed unlikely she would ever return, but that never stopped them.
The year the fae arrived they did the same thing they always did. It had taken them some time to find the perfect pumpkins, because that was one of the most important parts. Each of them had a different idea of what made the perfect pumpkin: Ava’s always had to be the right shade of orange; Fallon’s had to be the right size; and Mabyn’s had to feel just right. She dreaded to think what other people thought of them when they watched them paying so much attention to picking out the right pumpkin.
Once they had the right pumpkin they always spent an afternoon carving it. The lid came off first, carefully, because for the first few years none of them had got the lid right. Ava’s first pumpkin had technically had two lids after she’d cut it in half and was lucky she’d been able to place them on it. Next they took out the insides, putting it all together in a large bowl ready for cooking later. Fallon always did that. She was the best cook of the three of them. When the pumpkin was empty they carved the face on. Every year they chose an expression each out of a hat, and tried to show it on their pumpkin. It didn’t always go right, but it was fun.
Fallon picked happy out, sighing with relief. They all always wanted happy, because it was the easiest to do. Mabyn got fae, which made her furrow her brow, because that was one of the hardest they’d ever chosen to put in the hat. Ava, always the last to chose because she was the oldest, chose friendly. Smiling, she picked up her knife, the thought of having a friendly jack o’ lantern amusing her. Watching her sisters out of the corner of her eye she started carving. Really they were too young to have knives, but both her sisters had matured quickly when their mum had disappeared.
When the pumpkins were complete they put the three of them together. It was almost sunset, almost time to put the tea lights in, but they liked to view their work both with and without light. As they stood there, arms around each other, knowing that they were all hoping for the same thing, something strange happened. To begin with Ava thought she was seeing things, but then her pumpkin winked at her. She shook her head.
“Did you just see that?” Fallon asked, sounding just as confused as Ava felt.
“Yes,” Mabyn replied. “Ava’s pumpkin is changing.”
The friendly face Ava carved turned into an unhappy face, complete with tears. “What the hell?” Ava asked, knowing there was only one explanation.
“It has to be Mum,” Fallon said, as they stared at the jack o’ lantern. “Dad’s too…” She trailed off, but Ava knew exactly what her sister meant. “Maybe her faeness is why she left.”
Ava tried not to think of their mother at all. The woman left them behind, left her to play Mum to her two little sisters, and there was no good reason for her choice. Especially not being fae. Instead it made things worse, because not only had they been left to grow up alone but also learn how to use the magic they’d been born with. Sighing, she looked at Fallon, who was still fascinated with the jack o’ lantern , and then at Mabyn. Her eyes met those of her youngest sister, so it was easy to see she wasn’t the only person who didn’t think being fae was a good enough reason for walking away from three children.
“Will we all have magic?” Mabyn asked, turning her attention to the jack o’ lantern.
“I don’t know.” Ava felt at a loss, because she was the one both Fallon and Mabyn turned to for answers, and she didn’t even have the answer to her own questions. “Until a minute ago I didn’t even know I had magic, so any questions you have are going to be the same questions I have.”
Fallon looked at Ava. “Who do we go to in order to get the answers we all need, Ava?”
There was a knock on the door. Ava glanced at it, and then at the jack o’ lantern. Apologising silently she blew out the tea light within the pumpkin, before making her way across the room. With one hand on the handle she turned to look at both her sisters, who were busy cleaning up the mess they’d left, and then turned her attention back to the door. Her life had changed, but the world didn’t care. It kept going, not giving her enough time to deal with what she’d found out, so she had to deal with someone who was probably going to tell her all the fae should be exterminated. Pulling together all of her ability to deal with the world she opened the door.
Standing on the doorstep was a girl. Ava stared at her, unable to quite believe what she was seeing, and rubbed her eyes. “I’m real,” the girl said, almost smiling. “I’m your sister.”
“My sisters are behind me,” Ava replied, hearing the shock in her own voice.
“Mum told me there were three of you.” The girl ran a hand through her hair, looking uncomfortable. “Ava, I’m the daughter our mother had before she left Kalinia for good. My name is Esra. I’m pure blooded fae, and I have a gift for premonition. When Mum told me about you I knew you’d have magic, I knew when your abilities would first manifest, and I wanted to come here to help you learn how to use those abilities.”
At first all Ava could do was stare at Esra. It was hard for Ava to believe she had an older sister, especially as Esra appeared to be pure fae, but there she was, standing on the doorstep. Breathing deeply, Ava stepped back and gestured for Esra to enter the house. Nodding, looking as though she understood why she was being invited in, Esra stepped into the house. For a long moment Ava stood staring out into the street, trying to ready herself for the conversation she was about to have, before turning to look at Esra, who’d been joined by Fallon and Mabyn.
“Mum told you abut us?” Fallon asked, sounding as unsure as Ava felt, jumping slightly when the door closed.
Esra nodded. “When we came to Earth I went looking for her. She left Kalinia when I was six, leaving me and my siblings behind, and as I sometimes know things I knew I needed to find her. I had no idea why, because I only know I have to do something. Unfortunately I can’t actually see the future, although my feelings have got a lot stronger in the time we’ve been here.” She sighed. “I found her, and she told me about her children here, before disappearing again, but she never asked me to help you. I think she’d be happier if I hadn’t come here, because I don’t think she ever wanted us to meet, or for you to meet the others, but I don’t care what makes Mum happy. I care about you.”
“The others?” Ava asked, shock filling her voice again.
“Mum’s fae. The one thing the fae are really good at is having children.” Esra sounded angry. It was almost a relief to hear something so real from her. “So far I’ve met three other families, just like yours, three children left behind by the woman who was supposed to care for them, and there are three more to come. I don’t doubt that she’s having more children, even though she should never have been a mother.”
“We have nineteen siblings…” Ava shook her head. “I don’t want to believe you.”
“I felt exactly the same way when Mum told me she’d had more children when she came here.” Esra shrugged. “When I knocked on the first door I was hoping she’d been lying to me, but when the door was opened I realised I’d got there just in time and put out the fire one of the boys had accidentally lit with his newly acquired powers.” She looked at Ava. “And you have twenty siblings, so far. I have an older brother. His name is Alder.”
“Alder, as in the Alder who handfasted the Queen?” Mabyn asked, and Ava stared at her, surprised her sister knew so much about the fae.
“Yes, the Alder who handfasted the Queen. If you feel up to it he would like to meet you, but his relationship with Willow means he has much less freedom than I do, so I’m the one who comes to the houses of our siblings and deals with the hard part.”
Silence followed. Ava stared at the jack o’lantern she’d carved, unable to believe that they were related to someone who’d married the Queen of the fae. Why had he married her? Were they part of an important family? There were so many questions going through Ava’s mind, but she didn’t think she wanted the answers to any of them. The only thing she was certain of was that she wanted to pretend nothing had happened. Stories of what had happened to those with magic and chose not to accept that were something that everyone had heard, so she knew burying her head in the sand, no matter how much she wanted to, wasn’t an option.
“Okay.” Ava brushed a hand through her hair. “We don’t have any choices now, do we?”
“Everyone has choices, Ava, and that’s why I’m here.” Esra sighed. “I can’t take your magic away. Once, many years ago, there was way, but it’s long lost. There are those who are looking into it now, to see if we can find a safe way of freeing those who don’t want power from a life they don’t want.” She ran her tongue over her bottom lip. “For now, because I can’t do what you want me to do, I can dampen your power, but there are no certainties with something like that. It could mean you won’t have to deal with magic for the rest of your life. It could mean it all comes back next week. The other option you have is to accept what you are, accept our home, and learn how to be what you are.”
“Be honest with me, sister.” It was strange to call someone else that, but the longer Esra was there the more Ava could feel the connection between the two of them, and she was grateful that someone in their family had cared enough to come when she needed them. “With my strength how likely is it that dampening my power will work?”
“What makes you think you have strong magic?”
“A feeling, nothing more.”
“Paying attention to those feelings is a good start. They will tell you more than you want to know. I’ve experienced that for myself, and sometimes I wish I hadn’t.” Esra shrugged. “You are strong. The three of you are strong, because Mum was strong, and that strength does mean that it will be harder to dampen your powers. It’s more likely it won’t work, but I am willing to try. I have no idea what this must be like for you. All I know is that I want to help you. If you feel the best way for me to do that is by dampening your magic then I’ll do it.”
“I have no idea what I want.” Ava glanced at Fallon, who nodded, and then at Mabyn, who was nibbling her bottom lip thoughtfully. “This is a decision we’re going to need to make together. I don’t think I want to make it without Dad here, either.” She brushed a hand through her hair. “How do you think Dad is going to take the news?”
“That depends on so many things, Ava. Who is your dad? You know him better than I do. How did he take the arrival of the fae? Do you think he has any idea that the woman he had children with was fae? Is he the sort of person to get angry when something unexpected happens?”
“No, I’m not.” The voice came from the front door. Ava looked up, no idea how she hadn’t heard someone unlocking the door, but her mind was so scattered that she wasn’t entirely surprised. “I didn’t know she was fae. I had no reason to suspect it, but Ava…” He smiled, their eyes meeting for a moment. “You’ve been changing since the fae arrived. Ever since then I’ve been asking myself if the woman I chose to have children with was the woman I believe she was. Now I know she wasn’t. I want to be angry with her, but that’s not possible when she gave me three beautiful daughters. We can get through this together, whatever you decide, because that’s what we’ve always done.”