First Lessons
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Site-17, 2007

Sigurrós propped Mister Cuddles, her new stuffed bear, against the wall of her room, and consulted her new spellbook. She had gotten both as a gift for her birthday a few days ago and had had hours of fun playing with her new toys and practicing new spells, but there was one that she couldn't quite get the hang of:


Simply point at your favorite toy and say "Animagus!" to bring them to life!

Sigurrós closed her eyes, concentrating with all her might on the spell. She imagined the bear springing to life, watched it dancing around the room in her mind, then opened her eyes and shouted as loudly as her little lungs would allow, "ANIMAGUS!"

For a while nothing happened. Then, Mr. Cuddles began to stir. First, a leg, and then another. Slowly, the toy began to rise to its feet, and for a moment Sigurrós thought that she had done it, but then the stuffed bear collapsed, lying face down on the floor.

Sigurrós threw her spellbook at the wall. "Argh!" What was she doing wrong? Was she just bad at magic? Maybe she should just give them the spellbook back, tell them it was too hard for her to use.

"Hey, don't give yourself such a hard time."

Sigurrós looked for the source of the voice and saw a man leaning against the opposite wall. He had long, white hair that reached down to His shoulders and a full beard, and He wore a light gray suit and tie.

"That's a hard spell. You should be proud you managed to get it to do anything at all." His was deep and low, like the rolling of distant thunder, but there was also a reassuring quality to it. It sounded less like the onset of a violent storm and more like the end of a long drought.

"Who are you?" Sigurrós asked.

The man paused for a bit before He replied. "I'm… Well, I suppose I'm another magic person, like you."

The stars in Sigurrós' eyes lit up. "You mean, like a wizard? Do you think you could help me with this spell?"

"I suppose…" The spellbook vanished from its spot on the floor, then reappeared in His hands. He paged through it, reading the descriptions of the spells. It was obvious that the book was meant to constraint her powers, not instruct her on how to use them. The 'spells' were mostly very simple effects, and had a lot of arbitrary restrictions on how they could be used. If He wanted anything to come of this girl, He would have to take her training into his own hands.

"Alright," He said, putting the book down. "So, the thing you need to keep in mind is that there's a big difference between making something move and getting it to move by itself."

Her eyes lit up again. "There is?"

"Oh, yes. You clearly have no trouble giving it the ability to move; it just doesn't have a reason to use that ability." He could tell from the look that was forming on her face that His explanation was in need of some simplification. "It needs a mind."

"Oh. So how do I give him one?"

"Well, I'm afraid that creating a fully formed consciousness from nothing is far beyond your skill level at the moment, but fortunately there is a trick you can use in the meantime to approximate one."

"Approxi… huh?"

"What I mean is, you can put a small piece of yourself into the bear."

"A… A piece of myself?" She looked down at her body, clearly concerned.

"I promise it won't hurt. Now, hold out your arms."

"Okay." She did as she was told. He crouched down next to her, and placed His arm gently on her shoulder. "Now, imagine yourself. Imagine yourself doing all the things you like to do, and imagine how you feel when you do them. Then take just the smallest drop of that feeling, and collect it into a ball."

Sigurrós nodded. She thought about the games she liked to play with her toys, elaborate stories about magical kingdoms in grave peril, and how she would swoop in and save them at the last minute. She thought about the time she fell over and scraped her knee, and the nice doctor who helped her to heal it. She thought about her parents, what they must have been like, and imagined all the hugs she would give to them if she could meet them.

A golden light started to form above her hands, starting out as a spark, then growing into a glowing ball. Sigurrós gasped, then gave the man an expectant look. "I think it's working, Mister Wizard Sir!"

"Good. Now, give it to the bear." The golden light drifted slowly forward, coming to a rest above the slumped-over form of Mister Cuddles before diving sharply into the stuffed bear. Mister Cuddles began to rise once again, but this time once he clambered to his feet he remained upright.

Sigurrós clasped her hands over her mouth. The toy waddled towards her, came to a stop at her feet, and looked up at her. She shrieked in excitement, picking him up and spinning him around like a father playing with his toddler.

"Thank you, Mister Wizard Sir!" She said, but when she turned around, she realized that the man had vanished. This did not strike her as particularly odd (He was a wizard, after all), but she did wonder why He would have left without saying goodbye.

"Guess he had somewhere to go." She look down at Mister Cuddles, who was still cradled like a child in her arms, looking up at her like a particularly cute puppy. She put him down on the floor, then sat down cross-legged in front of him.

"Now," she said, "how would you like to be a prince?"

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