A Vaguely Familiar Holiday

Hēi Māo woke slowly, stretching under the warm blankets and not even bothering to open his eyes. He was warm and comfortable, and though he knew it was well past his usual wake up time, there was no rush. The whole house was calm. His father’s house had been calm on Winter Solstice, too, though perhaps abandoned and bleak would have been better descriptors.

As he breathed in through his nose, the scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, and apple filled him. He groaned a little. Brigitte had said that making the wassail was one of her duties for the celebration of the holiday. As her familiar, he should be there with her, helping, learning the Defresne‑Li ways. While solstices and equinoxes were observed in the Parenteau household, it was always a quiet affair and not much of a celebration. At least not since his maman vanished. He was curious to see what was customary in normal families. He’d been in therapy a month now, but he already recognized that there had been nothing normal, and very little that was okay, about his upbringing in his father’s home.

Pushing away his blankets, he rolled to the side to get out of bed. Scampering on bare feet, he crossed the room and opened the trapdoor his witch must have closed so he could rest. She was so good to him! He’d spent the last month getting accustomed to a new schedule including school and homework. While he liked it very much overall, it had been an exhausting adjustment on top of so many other changes.

Continue reading A Vaguely Familiar Holiday

Non-Binding – Part 6

“Hey, you look really happy today,” Simza said as she paused by Adric’s chair before first hour.

His smiles were coming more readily now, and they didn’t feel so out of place. “Yeah. I worked really hard over the weekend, and I’m finally caught up on everything.” He held out his hands as if to demonstrated their emptiness. “So now I’ll only have regular homework.”

“That’s wonderful!” She bent down to give him a quick hug. “Does this mean you’ll be able to hang out when Zin or I ask, now?”

“Yeah.” He nodded. “I was actually wondering if you guys might want to come over and play video games this afternoon. My cousins have a really nice set up with the biggest TV I’ve ever seen.”

“I’m in,” Zindel said. “But a word to the wise, Cat’s wicked good at first person shooters.”

Continue reading Non-Binding – Part 6

Non-Binding – Part 5

The first day of school established a pattern that worked nicely for Adric for the first few weeks. As soon as he arrived, he met up with Zindel before heading to class. Laurel was absent for a couple days, and when she returned, she went out of her way to ignore him. He walked to journalism with Catriona. He had lunch with Simza’s circle, where he felt welcomed and comfortable. As Zindel shared stories of his art class clay-tastrophes, Adric realized he was smiling for the first time since he’d lost his parents.

Somehow he managed to have one member of the circle in his last three classes of the day, so he was never on his own. Sure, the friendships were new, but they were a start. After school, he settled in at the gate-leg desk that had been hastily assembled in his room, with a promise of something more appropriate as soon as there was time. He spent a few hours on the day’s homework before dinner, and a few hours on catch-up work after.

“Adric, I got a call from your guidance counselor today,” Auntie Sage mentioned one evening as they were finishing up dinner. “She’s really impressed with how well you’re fitting in and catching up.”

Adric nodded, a little relieved even though he’d known there couldn’t be any complaints. “It’s going well.” His cousins went quiet, and while they weren’t staring, he could feel them listening intently.

Continue reading Non-Binding – Part 5

Non-Binding – Part 4

After his three-hour block of core classes, Adric had a journalism elective before lunch. It turned out that Catriona shared it with him, and she designated herself his guide and mentor. They were wrapping up a feature writing unit, and his western European witch teacher shared a couple of online folders with readings and past assignments as catch up. It was a good thing he didn’t have any after school plans, and wouldn’t for a while. He was going to be spending hours every night on homework, probably for the next month.

Catriona walked him to the cafeteria and pointed out the table Simza’s circle usually occupied before heading to the lunch line that met her needs. As he crossed the room, loud with chatter and clanking cutlery, he hesitated when he heard his name.

“How was your morning?” Tricia asked, catching his elbow under her hand. She was doing her best to sound casual, but he could see her underlying concern.

“It was good,” he insisted, but frowned when he recalled his hostile fae classmate. “Mostly.”

Continue reading Non-Binding – Part 4

Non-Binding – Part 3

Go back to part 2 if you missed it.


The St. Paul Academy for the Mythically Gifted was only five blocks from his aunt and uncle’s house. It wasn’t a private school like his old one, but there were more similarities than differences. His new classmates came from the full range of human subspecies, though the vampire population was a lot smaller in Minnesota. The uniform was less formal, navy bottoms and red polos instead of sport coats and ties. It was nice to have the comfort of a uniform, but the casual nature was a subtle reminder of how out of place he was.

Adric followed the assistant principal to his first class, still marveling over the buffering spells that calmed down his powers the moment he walked through the front door. It wasn’t the same as being bound, but it was the best he’d felt since his parents were murdered.

Continue reading Non-Binding – Part 3

Non-Binding – Part 2

Go back to part 1 if you missed it.


A hand on Adric’s shoulder shook him awake. “Come on Adric. Time to get up.”

He resisted the urge to hiss at his aunt and burrow back under the covers. It was a close thing. Instead, he groaned and blinked blearily at her. It had been nearly a month, and he still wasn’t used to his new room in his new house. The extended family he previously only saw on vacation and during holidays had become his primary family, and he didn’t quite feel like he belonged.

Auntie Sage smiled down at him. “There’s a good boy.” She ran her fingers into his wavy blond hair, pushing it out of his face. “Hmmm.” She held out a few strands checking for length. “You growing this out for a ponytail?”

He shrugged.

She straightened up, her wide smile displaying her inhumanly sharp teeth. “Breakfast is ready, sweetie. Normally you’ll walk with Tricia and Nate, but for your first day, we’re going to bring you in to make sure you get oriented all right.”

Adric nodded. His aunt and uncle had decided it was doing him no good to mope at home, and maybe it was time to start school. He’d kept in touch with his friends back in Madison through e-mail, text, and Skype, but it wasn’t the same. Nothing was.

“Get dressed and grab your backpack,” Auntie Sage said. “Join us in the dining room as soon as you can.”

During breakfast, his cousin Nate gave him another run down on the teachers on his schedule, many of whom Nate had the year before. As Adric cleaned up his dishes, his cousin Tricia reached out to lightly touch his wrist, her fingers resting over one of his sun protection charms.

“The school nurse is a wickedly powerful warlock,” she said quietly. “He’s really nice, and he’ll help you out if it’s too much.”

Adric smiled. “Thanks, Tricia. That’s a relief to know.”

“He’ll summon us if you need him to,” she added. She shrugged and rolled her eyes, looking a bit embarrassed. “It’s just… I know this is a lot. And I know you’re better than you were when you got here, but…”

Adric caught her brother’s frantic warding off hand gestures out of the corner of his eye. “We’re there if you need us,” Nate interrupted. “We’ll try to check in with you at lunch.” He caught his sister’s arm and dragged her out of the room. “I need your help on something…”

Sighing, Adric brought his dishes to the kitchen. His discomfort had nothing to do with his family. They had done everything they could to make him feel welcome. They were more understanding and loving than he had a right to expect, but he was a damaged puzzle piece that didn’t quite fit.


Check out part 3.

Non-Binding – Part 1

Adric notched his key into the lock, surprised when the light force pushed the door inward. He stared at the widening gap in confusion. It wasn’t like his parents to leave without latching the front door. He stepped over the threshold, his step faltering when the scent of blood hit him.

Normally it would be appealing, maybe even triggering a hint of hunger, but this blood was wrong. It was strong enough that he should have picked it up from the sidewalk. It smelled of family and magic. He gasped, his keys clattering to the wood floor as he clutched at his chest.

Continue reading Non-Binding – Part 1

Speed Writing #8 – Good Deeds

“Excuse me.”  The young voice startled me, and I looked up from where I was hunched into the trunk of my car, rummaging for the jack.  She looked Japanese and about fourteen.  Her black and silver clothes made me think of the night sky.  She stood in the center of the sidewalk, a hopeful expression on her face. 

“Do you have a map I could borrow?” she asked.

“Uhh…”  It took me a moment to pull my brain from the track it was on, to one that could answer her question.  Poor kid was lost.  I realized she wasn’t alone, though.  Another girl, similarly dressed, stood in the grass several feet back.  She was holding what looked like a couple of brooms behind her back.  “I don’t have like a paper map or anything,” I said, wondering what happened to the one I used to keep in the glove box.  “But I could pull one up on my phone, if that would help.”

She looked puzzled.  “You can do that?” she asked.

Continue reading Speed Writing #8 – Good Deeds