Phoenix — part 3


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Part 3 of 7

The first time Kenny burned was, if not expected, completely normal. There was no cause for worry back then.

The second time was concerning, worrying. Cody tried to put it out of his mind after Kenny returned to normal, but he couldn’t. The worry kept swirling in his mind, and he kept a close eye on his familiar to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.

Still, it happened a third time.

Cody had been determined to never let it happen again. While Kenny assured him otherwise, he was still terrified he’d not taken care of him well enough. Why else would he die?

While keeping a close eye on him, he noticed another feather hadn’t grown back. It wouldn’t be noticeable to anyone else, there were other feathers underneath after all, but he noticed the difference in the pattern he knew so well. Every time he saw it, it was a reminder of how close he’d gotten to losing his best friend forever.

His parents were as worried as he was, but they didn’t know what to do either. He suggested going to the school healers, but they didn’t want him to. His mother pointed out that now that Kenny had burned, even if he had been sick, the healers wouldn’t be able to detect what it was anymore.

Cody wished someone could put his worries to rest, but even Kenny regaining his strength didn’t help.

After a year of constant vigilance, he was sure he hadn’t missed anything. Kenny was healthy and strong. His feathers shone and his eyes were bright with the fire within them. With Kenny as energetic and proud as ever, Cody had no hope of predicting he would burn again.

But burn he did.

Kenny clearly didn’t want him to worry, but he couldn’t just ignore it. “Kenny, please, don’t lie to me.” Kenny sat on his lap and pressed his head against Cody’s chest, avoiding his eyes. He was almost back to his normal size. Cody could already tell another feather wasn’t growing back.

With his own emotions clouding his mind, he had a hard time untangling Kenny’s emotions from his own. He thought he felt a string of worry, a bit of guilt, but he couldn’t be sure. “If there’s something wrong we can take you to the school healers, they’re smart people, they’ll know what to do.” Kenny tilted his head, watching him with a single eye. He sang a low note, one Cody had come to recognise as a ‘no’.

He sighed, ran a hand down Kenny’s back, touched the place where two weeks ago an orange feather had been. “You lost another feather.” Kenny squawked.

Fiery magic flared through their bond. He flapped his wings, slapping Cody’s hand away. He ruffled his feathers and glared at him. Desperation hid behind that glare. Cody instantly felt bad. Kenny hated it when he pointed out his missing feathers, his imperfection. Cody didn’t see them that way, but Kenny did, it didn’t fit in with his egotistical view of himself. Normally he would never bring up something his friend was insecure about, but this was serious. The feathers obviously had something to do with the way he burned every year.

He sent an apology through their bond. Sometimes communicating that was easier than just with words. He smoothed down the feathers from their ruffled state. Kenny crooned as Cody’s hand ran over his back. He pressed his head against Cody’s chest again. Cody kept petting his familiar and dropped the subject, but it kept floating around in his mind. If Kenny wasn’t sick, then what was wrong with him? If he didn’t know any better, he would think he was dying.

Suspicion nagged at him, followed by guilt. He didn’t want to think badly of Kenny. He trusted him… But it was obvious he was hiding something. Moments of odd behaviour bubbled to the surface: his feelings about his name; the way he reacted to and felt about people complimenting his feathers…

The thoughts nagged at him for the rest of the night.

Cody was glad to go back to school the next day. Among his friends and busy with lessons, he would be able to put his worries and suspicions about Kenny out of his mind.

On his walk to school, he realised something. A grin spread on his face. Kenny felt his excitement and gave him a questioning nudge from where he sat on Cody’s shoulder. “It’s spell day.”

Kenny sang excitedly and flew a circle around his head. Anticipation flooded through their bond. They were going to use magic today.

He’d been going to the Young Presenters Academy for four years now; ever since he presented as magical at the age of six. He presented a bit late in comparison to his classmates, most of whom had been going to the academy for a few years already when Cody joined them. Luckily, late presenters weren’t so rare that the academy didn’t know what to do with him, and his teacher brought him up to speed in no time.

In those four years, the only real disappointment had been the lack of magic. They learned about magical theory and made some simple potions, but they weren’t allowed to use any real magic. That was about to change.

Their excitement quickly dwindled as the day wore on. While around him his classmates were conjuring lights and floating their pencils around, Cody couldn’t manage to get a single spell to work.

He didn’t understand. He could feel his magic, the fiery energy that awakened in him when he met Kenny, but it didn’t react to the spells at all. He knew what it should feel like, he’d spent the last four years learning about it. Something was horribly wrong.

His teacher watched him with increasingly diminished hope. Cody averted his eyes, focused instead on his hands, where he was trying to conjure a light. He said the spell clearly in his mind, flexed his fingers in the way that was supposed to help the magic flow through them, but nothing happened. He tried again. Not even a single spark lit up.



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