Part 4 of 7
Cody desperately tried to keep his tears at bay as he looked at his hands. Not even a spark of light lit up between them. “Why isn’t it reacting?” Cody whispered, eyes still on the nothingness in front of him. His thoughts jumped to the stories he’d heard of other children not being able to use spells on spell day… No, there was no way. He had Kenny, he had a familiar, his mind was just jumping to conclusions.
He flexed his fingers, centred his thoughts. With his panic under control for the moment, he noticed something wrong. Kenny’s mind was carefully blank, not a single emotion came through their bond. Confused, Cody looked at where his familiar sat on the floor in front of him. He reeled back from the anger within his eyes.
A hand landed on his shoulder. He turned around and looked into the face of his teacher. She tried to give him her usual encouraging smile, but it came out strained. “Tell me what you’re doing,” she said. He explained the exact process, secretly hoping she would tell him he was doing something wrong. Her expression fell, but she quickly smoothed it over. “Well, you’re doing everything right,” she said. “We’ll figure this out. I’ll take you to the headmaster.” She glanced at Kenny. “There’s probably just something blocking your magic.”
Cody stood up. Something blocking his magic? Was that even possible? His teacher gently pushed him towards the door. After a few steps, Cody turned around. “Kenny?”
Kenny hadn’t moved from his spot on the floor, his gaze intent on the place Cody had sat.
“Kenny?” he repeated. Kenny’s head swivelled around. Fire blazed in his eyes. Cody had no idea how Kenny was stopping his emotions from going through their bond. Kenny flew onto Cody’s shoulder. His talons dug into his skin more than usual. Cody wondered what he was thinking.
His teacher led them out of the classroom, through the halls, in the direction of the headmaster’s office. Cody’s mind raced. Now that he thought about it, he had heard about people’s magic being blocked. It wasn’t a block in the magic itself, but in the pathways that were used to cast spells. That must be it, he could feel his magic right there after all. Fiery magic that warmed him from the inside. He tried to find some comfort in the warmth of Kenny’s feathers against his face, but with Kenny blocking off his emotions, Cody remained tense.
They entered the headmaster’s office. The headmaster looked up from his desk. His eyes went from Cody to Kenny, to their teacher. “What’s this about then?”
His teacher laid a hand on Cody’s empty shoulder. “I suspect there’s some kind of block on Cody’s magic, none of the first spells worked for him.” The headmaster’s expression turned to confusion. He glanced at Kenny, then shook his head. He stood up and gave Cody a reassuring smile.
“We’ll just have to test it then, won’t we?”
Cody nodded. He wanted this block to be gone, so he could use his magic just like his classmates. The sooner, the better.
While the headmaster tested him, Kenny had to wait on a chair. The silence in the room was only broken by the occasional mutterings of the headmaster. Cody kept his gaze fixed on Kenny. Everything would be fine, the tests would show where the block was and the headmaster would fix it. Then he would do the spells and show his parents.
The headmaster cleared his throat. He had his wand lowered, and sat in front of Cody on one knee. His expression made Cody feel dread like he’d never felt before. He cleared his throat again. “I’m sorry Cody.” His voice was rough, Cody had never heard him sound like that before. He took a deep breath. “I’m afraid you’re a false presenter.”
No. He couldn’t be a false presenter. He had magic!
Denial tumbled out of Cody’s mouth like a torrent; “What about Kenny?” It had to be a mistake. He had to have magic. He couldn’t have bonded with Kenny if he didn’t have any.
The headmaster shook his head. His eyes were suspiciously wet. “The ways of phoenixes are a mystery to most of us. It might very well be only Kenny’s magic that made your bond.”
Cody despised how easily he could believe it. He hated how much sense it made. His meeting with Kenny was the first time he’d truly felt his magic after all. He turned away from the headmaster, who released his shoulder. He wiped angrily at his tears. He looked at Kenny. Could it be true? Was all of the magic he felt only Kenny’s?
Had Kenny known?
The blazing fire in Kenny’s eyes had extinguished, leaving them a dull red that didn’t even come close to their usual amber. His emotions were still cut off from their bond. Cody felt empty with only his own misery to keep him company in his mind.
Kenny couldn’t have known. Even without feeling his emotions he could tell this was as much of a shock for him as it was for Cody. They’d both been excited to perform magic today… Both happy to put yesterday out of their minds.
Yesterday’s doubts and suspicions mingled with his despair. Why did Kenny lose another feather? Why did he burn again?
Why would he stay with Cody when he didn’t have magic?
He swallowed. He felt nauseous. He sank down on the floor. Kenny would leave. Why would a phoenix want anything to do with a non-magical human? The headmaster gently helped him up and sat him down on the chair next to Kenny. He pulled his knees to his chest. Kenny looked up, startled out of his thoughts by Cody flopping down. He let out a tiny cry when he saw Cody’s expression.
A trickle of worry came through their bond. And then, like Kenny finally couldn’t keep his emotions to himself anymore, a whole flood of emotions drowned out Cody’s own. He looked up through blurry vision. Kenny sat next to him, fire back in his eyes, a soft croon escaping his throat.
“Are you going to leave me now?” he whispered. A spike of alarm came from Kenny. He squawked, flapped his wings and jumped into Cody’s lap. Cody just managed to uncurl from the ball he’d curled up in and caught the phoenix in his arms. Warmth spread through his chest from the hearth that had formed when they bonded. He sobbed, holding Kenny tightly against him. Kenny wasn’t leaving.
After Cody dried his tears, the headmaster told him he would break the news to his parents. He had to wait a while while the headmaster finished some paperwork. Cody stared at the headmaster’s pen moving over paper; finalising his expulsion.
“What time will your parents pick you up?” he asked.
“I walk home by myself.”
The headmaster capped his pen, rolled up the paper and put it in his bag. He gave a sympathetic smile. “I’ll walk with you then.”
Cody was hesitant at first to have the headmaster with him, but halfway back home the anxiety hit him like a truck. Kenny was still with him, but what would his parents say? They would be so disappointed in him. They would yell at him. They would tell grandma. His breathing hitched. They would-
Kenny crooned in his ear, reacting to his anxiety. The headmaster put a hand on Cody’s back. He calmed down a bit. They wouldn’t do anything with the headmaster there. The headmaster would tell them, and they would be angry and disappointed, but they wouldn’t do anything. Maybe he could even hide in his room while the headmaster told them, that would be nice.
“Do I have to be there when you tell my parents?”
“You don’t have to do anything. You’ve been through enough today already.” He ruffled Cody’s hair. Cody thought that under normal circumstances, it would have made him smile.
Even hidden under his covers, Kenny singing in his ear and with the door of his room firmly closed, he could hear the exact moment his parents were told what happened.