Seeing Erin oh so casually bring forth that little flame, then snuff it out, showed that there did seem to be magic still in the world.
She and Erin sat in the kitchen at the gorgeous oak table, chatting over cups of tea just like many often do in the early evenings.
"I've been wondering, Erin," Stasia inquired, "Just how long have you been able to do magic?"
"Just before Midsummer Eve last year," Erin replied, "I had gone on a bus trip to Stonehenge, and the day after the visit, I could feel the magic. I didn't realize what it was at first, I just knew that I could feel some things that I couldn't before that, and that feeling grew day by day.
"I stayed near Stonehenge for perhaps a week, then on the actual night of Midsummer, I went up the hill, into the henge itself.
"At first, everything seemed normal, then a fine mist rose over the henge. Soon after that, I saw one of the Fae, what a blessing!"
"Not just magic, but magical creatures, too? You've been quite the lucky one!" Stasia whined.
"The magic has been growing in me steadily since then. At first, I could do nothing with it, it was about a month later that I was able to make a simple flame like I showed you a few minutes ago. Since then, I've learned quite a bit, sometimes through meeting one of the Fae."
"Damn," Stasia muttered, "So your skills with magic are slowly increasing. What else can you do, Erin?"
"Well, if I felt I needed it, I could call an animal to help me, perhaps a timber wolf or a horse to ride. I've actually called a bear twice."
"That must be hard, I'm pretty sure there aren't many bears here," Stasia remarked, "I wonder where a bear would have come from."
"I'm not sure myself, Stasia, but I did call a bear. Later that night, I looked at pictures of bears online, the one I saw was a Kodiak bear."
"A Kodiak? Are you absolutely sure, Erin? They generally don't go far from their native area."
"Quite sure, Stasia, he was huge, I stood beside him when he was on all four paws and his shoulder was at the level of my chin."
Stasia looked at Erin for a moment, Erin was perhaps 5'8" tall, which meant that bear was almost five feet tall. She gasped.
Erin nodded, "Yeah, he was that big. Yet he made no move to hurt me in any way, he seemed content to have me rub under his chin. At one point, he wandered off to a nearby brook, stuck his paw in there and pulled out a five pound trout where trout haven't been for many years."
Stasia sat there, shaking her head. A bear of that size wandering around this close to a huge city? Even in the suburbs, that was odd.
Erin sat across from Stasia, sipping her tea, smiling as she realized that Stasia was having a hard time believing her. She thought about it for a few minutes as she finished her tea, then asked Stasia to put on her coat and boots, they would be going out for a while.
Stasia nodded, quickly getting ready, and remembered to grab her purse, Erin already seemed to have hers in hand.
The two girls headed out the front door, then around the house to the small garage. Erin opened it, revealing a small grey and silver sedan.
The two girls sat down in the comfortable leather seats inside the car, Erin grinning as she looked over to Stasia. "If you're wondering about the seats, I like to be comfortable, and I found this pair of leather bucket seats on sale at a flea market in West London two years ago."
Stasia moaned, worming her way deeper into the comfort of the seat as she snapped the seat belt into place.
Erin giggled, started the car, waiting a few minutes as it warmed up, then backed toward the street, looking all around.
It didn't take them too long to get to the place Erin seemed to be going, she parked the car in a small lot next to the North Mymms Park.
The girls got out of the car, Erin using the remote to lock it, then headed into the park, to an area beside the river.
Erin sat down on the grass after brushing aside a thin layer of snow, motioning for Stasia to do the same.
Stasia did, then settled down to watch. A minute or two later, she thought she could hear Erin humming something or perhaps chanting?
Another ten minutes passed, then as if it came from out of nowhere, a huge bear appeared, walking right up to Erin.
Erin didn't seem to be afraid of the bear at all, Stasia however was not far from being petrified. To say it was huge was being nice!
Erin noticed Stasia's fear, turned and spoke quietly, "Stasia, you have nothing to fear from him. Meet Rolas, one of my protectors."
Stasia shook her head, her mind boggling even more over that announcement. Protector? This girl, who could do magic, needed protection? She was still trembling when a rather large paw laid itself gently on her lap, the bear sitting patiently just in front of her.
Stasia looked up at the bear, he was looking back at her. Hmmm, he actually seemed to be offering his chin for a scratch? Oh, my!
Stasia giggled, the giggle being somewhat fear-based. With a trembling hand, she reached up and tentatively scratched under his chin. The bear whuffed lightly, his eyes closing as he leaned forward just a wee bit more as Stasia continued to scratch that oh so sweet spot.
Stasia finally understood she wouldn't be harmed, this bear considered her to be someone who belonged with Erin, thus under his protection.
After a few more minutes of scratching and several quiet whuffs of contentment, the bear padded off toward the river. Erin and Stasia sat there for about ten minutes before the bear returned, dropping a fair sized trout in front of Erin. Rolas wandered off three more times toward the river, returning each time with another fish just as big as the first or not far from it as the two girls sat and enjoyed the early winter evening.
When the fourth fish had been dropped in front of her, Erin said something Stasia could not understand. The bear padded off, then vanished.
Erin carefully picked up the four fish, then the two girls walked back toward the car. At the car, Erin found a bag and placed the fish in it. The two girls climbed into the comfortable seats and buckled up as Erin started the car. A few minutes later, they were driving back to Erin's home.
It was just after 9:30 PM when they exited the car in the small garage, then Erin closed the garage and locked it before entering the house.
Once inside the house, Erin put three of the fish into a freezer bag, then into the freezer, dropping the last one on a cutting board. She quickly took her coat and boots, leaving the boots on a mat by the front door and hanging the coat in the hall closet, then had Stasia do the same.
The two headed back into the kitchen, where Erin out on a fresh pot of tea, then dropped a bit of butter in the frying pan. She turned a burner of the old stove on and waited as the butter melted, taking a moment to cut the head from the fish, she didn't have a taste for that part. Nope.
The head was tossed into a bag under the sink, then Erin cut the fish into two large fillets and placed it in the frying pan.
There was a fair bit of mashed potatoes left over from the day before, that could be warmed in the oven. Erin remembered that there was a bag of frozen peas in the freezer, she pulled that out, poured some into a small bowl, then set a pot with some water on the stove to boil.
She laughed as she realized that she needed to turn on the oven to let it preheat. She didn't often cook for others, not since her mother had been in a fender bender a bit over a year ago in South London, just over one of the bridges from the Tower. Her mother's legs had been shattered in that crash; she'd had at least seven operations since then, plus had all kinds of pins and screws inserted to keep the legs straight.
To this day, the doctors weren't sure if her mother would ever be able to walk unassisted again. At the moment, she had to use two canes. Erin supposed that things could have been much worse, the small residence where she stayed now required steep monthly payments.
Erin sighed, flipped the trout over, then poured the peas into the pot. The oven was ready, she turned it down and set the potatoes in to warm.
Those payments were expensive, but manageable, especially with the bi-weekly payments from the Maille Ironworks family trust funds.
The food was soon ready, Erin placing each bit of food on a board on the table before setting two plates and some silverware by each plate. She then turned back to the old stove, turning off the burner, then the oven, before she faced the table as Stasia returned from the bathroom.
The two sat down to a nice dinner, chatting about what had happened that day. Erin was content, and Stasia was learning about the world.
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