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A Far Away Magic
Author:Amy Wilson & Helen Crawford-White

‘Didn’t think you’d mind. Saved you the cake.’

He snorts, digging his hands into his pockets. He’s in the shadow of the wall that surrounds the house; I can only see portions of his face and body.

There’s a long silence. I think he’d call it awkward, but I’m quite enjoying it.

‘You can go now, then,’ he says. He steps forward and I dart out of his way. He shakes his head as if he expected that, and picks up the coat. He takes a look behind him, up at the nearest window. A couple of the shadows within flicker, and when I look back at him he’s got his fists clenched by his sides. He takes a step back, a deep breath, and then he runs at the basket, catching it with his foot and launching it down the hill. ‘There.’

He doesn’t look at me, doesn’t see that I’m grinning and just about jumping up and down with how brilliant he is. He just marches back to the gate.

‘Bavar . . .’


Standing with his back to me, the gate in front of him.

‘Isn’t it lonely?’

It just comes out. I swear I didn’t plan on asking something so big. I swallow and move back as he turns to me, lifting his head.

Man. I will never get used to this boy.

‘I’m accustomed to it,’ he says. His voice is deep, slow. I wonder how often he really uses it. Who he talks to.

‘Well, I’m not.’


His surprise makes me cross. I mean, just because I don’t walk with a lurch and bury my head in my shoulders doesn’t mean I’m not going through things too. Does he think he’s the only one who ever felt like he didn’t fit?

Here, in this house, in these shadows, he fits.

I don’t fit anywhere.

I turn my back and start down the hill.

But I know this isn’t the last time I’ll be here.

She looks like she has the sun with her. That sounds silly. She’s bright, and that was all I saw. Then she said the thing about being lonely and there was another side to her. Something injured and reaching, searching.

I do not regret the thing with the basket.

She bounces down the hill and takes the sun with her, and I turn back to the house, shivering. I have no idea who painted it yellow. Was it supposed to be a disguise? Bad things can’t happen here, because it’s yellow?


‘Bavar! Your lesson!’

Sleety rain begins to fall as I head inside, and Sal is hovering impatiently on the stairs. ‘He doesn’t like it when you’re late,’ he says, fidgeting with his waistcoat.

‘I know,’ I say, trudging past him. I try to forget about the girl and realize I don’t even know her name. That’s a good thing – I can’t give it away if I don’t know it. And I don’t want him to have it. There’s power in a name, he always says.

The house gets darker as I get higher, and the winding staircase at the top is cluttered with boxes and piles of unravelling books. I pick my way through them and put my shoulder against the door, shoving it open.

My father’s library is cold. It doesn’t breathe without him, there’s a stillness that makes my skin itch. I glance at the fireplace and it leaps into flame with a pop.

The bust of my grandfather is covered with a cloth. It was sculpted by someone famous, a long time ago, and my father told me always to keep my eye on it.

I didn’t know what that meant, back then.

I take a breath and pull the cloth away. It’s an old tablecloth of Aoife’s, with sunflowers on it. Grandfather would be mortified if he knew. He hates to be covered, but he hates most things, and this was necessary. He shouts a lot, if he’s left free.

‘BAVAR!’ he booms now, as I back away from him. ‘Just in time. I want to talk to you about the barrier. I’m not convinced you’ve been working hard enough . . .’

I sigh. He’s obsessed with the barrier. It’s important, I know that, but he must’ve said the same thing a million times in the last year.

‘. . . It is your JOB, Bavar, to keep that barrier intact,’ he continues. ‘It was forged with this family’s magic, once our magic had done the damage and opened the rift between worlds. It is the only thing that protects the lands around us from the foul beasts, and only YOUR magic will keep it strong and keep them restrained to the grounds here . . . Bavar! Are you listening? You must put your heart and SOUL into it!’

‘I already do,’ I sigh. The barrier is like a web around the estate, strands of magic that cover acres of land and stop the raksasa from getting through to the world outside. It took me a while, in the beginning, to get a feel for it. Now it’s second nature, like feeling in the dark for a familiar light switch. Feeding magic into it, until it gleams in my mind, stronger than steel. ‘It’s fine . . .’

But he isn’t listening; he’s still lecturing. I sit on one of the leather chairs around the table and watch his mouth move. It’s mesmerizing, the way the metal contorts, like watching a bronze river flow. Suddenly he breaks off, his nostrils widening.

‘Humanity!’ he roars. ‘What is that? What is the difference, Bavar? What have you done?’

‘Nothing,’ I tell him, leaning back in the chair. Reminding myself he’s just a chunk of metal. His eyes flash.

‘You must tell me!’ he shouts. ‘Report, Bavar. Has there been humanity on the grounds? Did you bring one home with you? That ridiculous school. What a notion. The master of this house, going to a common human school! I don’t know what AOIFE was thinking . . .’

He launches into another tirade. He doesn’t like me going to school. He thinks I should spend my time cooped up here with him, growing stronger in magic, keeping the barrier strong, and learning how to fight the raksasa. He doesn’t know about the promise I made, that I would never fight like my parents did. They failed to look after the barrier, and people died because of it. So I know it’s important to get that right. But fighting is another thing entirely.

‘There was a new girl,’ I break in eventually, when he looks like he’s about to explode with frustration. ‘I didn’t bring her home; she followed me, brought my coat. Aoife says she’s a catalyst.’

She’s blonde, and small, and she smells of hope. Possibility.

I don’t tell him that bit.

‘A GIRL, on the premises? A human girl?’ He jiggles on the pedestal, his brow furrowing. He was a big man, my grandfather. He leans forward slightly in his pose, shoulders broad and powerful, face heavily lined, determined. Predatory.

‘She was on the grass outside the wall. She didn’t come in.’

‘So. So. But the smell of her . . . it is here. She touched your coat; they will scent it, Bavar.’ His voice drops to concern. ‘Are you ready?’


‘The rift grows, I have warned you of that, and now you bring this human girl’s SMELL into the house to further tempt them here. They will come through the rift in their dozens and they will strike at the barrier harder than ever – Bavar, are you ready to fight?’