A/N - Firstly huge huge HUGE thanks go to Court81981 for her wonderful beta work, to Streetlightlove1 for pre-reading, and to Ro Nordmann for the gorgeous cover. Thanks to all you gorgeous ladies :)
This Everlark story is based on the wonderful Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Some characters belong to her, others belong to Suzanne Collins.
Anyway, this is very different to anything else I have ever attempted, and I'd really appreciate your feedback! Reviews are appreciated, and if you have any questions, come and find me on tumblr (alatarielgildaen)
I'd just like to say that while this will be endgame Everlark, it's going to get pretty dark and twisted in the meantime. So please bear with me!
Magic had long since left England. Tales of the past glories of magicians and their fairy-servants had passed into folklore, and the general populace believed that their fair country would never see the like again.
All over the country, societies dedicated themselves to keeping the memory of magic alive. These men all called themselves magicians, but they could no more do actual practical magic as they could learn to fly. Instead of practising magic, these men called themselves theoretical magicians, and spent their days in great debate. They debated the use of magic in the past. They debated which fairies individual magicians favoured as their servants. They debated the types of spells used and the different lands that a master of magic could travel between.
Mr Finnick Odair had been born and raised in Whitby. He was a fisherman's son, although after his mother's death, his father had remarried above his station, and the family had therefore come into a little money, which meant that Finnick was able to pursue other pleasures. And he had always longed to learn more about the magicians of the past. However, magic was a profession generally reserved for gentlemen of leisure, as books about magic were rare and expensive, and books of magic even more so.
Coming from a poor town such as Whitby, Mr Odair was starved of company from whom he could learn. But he knew that in York there existed one of the largest magical societies. The societies, known as Districts, were numbered around the country, and York was the home of District 12.
At first, when Mr Odair arrived at a District 12 meeting, he was happy to observe the older theoretical magicians in their endless debate, unsure that they would appreciate the input from one so young. However, Mr Odair was possessed with a natural charm, and during a lull in the conversation, he asked the question that burned in him the most.
"Perhaps the esteemed gentlemen here present could answer me, why is it that magic is no longer performed in England?"
Poor Mr Odair! He had not predicted the uproar that such a question would cause! Half the magicians looked at him with scorn, saying that they knew permitting entry to District 12 to one so young had been a mistake. Another group proclaimed that magic had not been seen in England in over three hundred years, and that was just the way it was. And yet another group stood side by side with Mr Odair, saying that his young blood was precisely what was required to inject life into their District, that it was their undeniable duty to see magic returned to its former glory.
"Then," continued Mr Odair, "why has no one seen fit to contact the gentleman who lives at Northolt Abbey? Mr Heavensbee? I heard tales that he is a practical magician."
The uproar continued unabated. Some of the magicians from District 12 believed the tales to be greatly exaggerated. Some wondered why Mr Heavensbee hadn't sought out their company if his claims had any truth to them.
The debate raged on, and a notion occurred to Mr Odair. These men loved debate, but not a single one of them seemed fond of action. In fact, the idea of practical magic returning to England almost appeared to frighten them. And so he decided that he would write to the gentleman who was secluded away at Northolt Abbey himself and ask him for a demonstration of his magic. Surely, as an Englishmen, it was his duty to his King to return England to her former glory if he had the ability.
After four weeks, Mr Odair received his reply, but not in the form expected. A surly, scruffy-looking man introduced himself in a thick, Yorkshire accent at a District 12 meeting as Mr Haymitch Abernathy, Mr Plutarch Heavensbee's personal assistant. He wasted no time in telling the District of Mr Heavensbee's intentions.
"Sirs, the gentleman for whom I work wishes to assure you all that magic has not left England. He is willing to do a practical demonstration for you, but… there is one condition."
One of the older magicians, a Mr Cray, who had been in charge of District 12 for many, many years, looked upon this scruffy-looking fellow with disdain. "And what, sir, might this condition be?"
A smirk passed across the face of Mr Abernathy before he pulled a sheaf of papers from inside his coat pocket. "I have here a contract that Mr Heavensbee wishes you all to sign. If he gives a successful demonstration of his magic, he demands that District 12 disbands immediately, and that henceforth no members call themselves magicians anymore. He has, of course, already signed to say that if he fails, he will give up the title of magician himself."
If Mr Odair's suggestion of contacting Mr Heavensbee had caused outrage in District 12, it was nothing compared to the uproar that now occurred. But while the debate reignited, Mr Odair experienced a terrible, sinking sensation. More than anything, his deepest desire was to see practical magic performed, but he could not give up being a magician himself. If he wasn't a magician, who was he? He was no longer the fisherman's son that he had grown up as. Without the title of 'magician,' there was no place for him in society.
Eventually, all of District 12 agreed to sign the contract. Some, like Mr Cray, signed immediately out of a kind of vanity; they had publicly declared Mr Heavensbee's magic to be false, and so to back away from such a claim would only cause themselves embarrassment. Some signed out of curiosity. Some signed because they felt they had nothing to lose. One by one, every member of the District 12 society signed the piece of paper, until only Mr Odair was left.
Imagine the despair that poor Mr Odair felt! All his life he had dreamed of living in the company of magicians, and here he was, barely four weeks into his dream, and he was being obliged to give it up! As the contract was passed to him, he plucked up his heart, and stoutly declared, "No, sir! I will not sign! I wish more than anything to see magic returned to England. Why, it is at my request that you are here now! If I give up magic, what is left for me?"
Mr Abernathy smirked and took the contract back from Mr Odair. "Mr Heavensbee believed that you would react this way," he said, his voice lowering to almost a whisper. "As such, he gave me explicit instructions that you, and you alone, will be able to continue to study magic, although you cannot do it here in Yorkshire. You will be obliged to find another District to take you in, if any will. I daresay your reputation for helping to destroy 12 will precede you. But I may be wrong," he shrugged. He turned his back on Mr Odair and glanced over the contract before turning back to face the District. "Thank you, gentlemen. This all seems to be in order. Mr Heavensbee will perform the magic two weeks from today. Gather at the entrance to the Royal Park at midday. Good day to you, sirs."
The air was crisp and clear, and a frost hung about the leaves of all the trees on the morning that Mr Heavensbee had promised to perform his magic. Midday came and went, and there was neither a sight nor sound of the magic that Mr Heavensbee had promised to perform, nor even of the man himself. Mr Cray laughed, a cold, humourless bark and said, "The man was full of bluster. We had nothing to fear from such a man. Why, with a servant as disreputable as his, would we ever have fallen for such a poor trick?"
At that moment a strange ripple passed over everything in sight, as if there was a second world occupying the space of the first, just out of sight, just out of reach, but present nonetheless. A scruffy, surly-looking fellow appeared in front of them. Mr Abernathy seemed to have stepped out of the cold air itself, and he took all the magicians by surprise as he spoke in his thick, Yorkshire accent.
"Gentlemen, my apologies for my tardiness. Mr Heavensbee is ready to perform the magic."
The members of District 12 looked around for the elusive Mr Heavensbee, but he was nowhere to be seen. The scruffy-looking gentleman walked straight up to Mr Odair and spoke in a hushed voice, "Mr Heavensbee wishes to employ you, sir. You will still have to leave Yorkshire if you wish to continue to study magic. In return for his generous allowance, you will be required to perform certain duties. If I were you, I would accept this offer, sir. Just to be prudent."
A voice, not quite human, more melodic and bird-like, echoed the words, "Just to be prudent," and soon the words were echoing all around them. One of the District 12 magicians looked up and pointed out a black-and-white bird sat in a tree, that opened his beak and sung the words "Just to be prudent! Just to be prudent!" The birds were all around them, copying their words, repeating them back to each other, causing a great cacophony of noise that reached up to the heavens.
The magicians spent an hour marvelling at the talking birds, laughing as they repeated their sentences back in their trill, sing-song voices, before, one by one, the birds began to fly away. And just as the birds were disbanded, so District 12 was no more.
Most of the magicians now found themselves without occupation. And rather unfairly too, I must say. For what is a magician if he is unable to debate his chosen subject? Many of the men now took to idling about their homes all day, getting under the feet of their wives, and upsetting the servants.
But this is not their tale. And so now we rejoin Mr Odair. Like all the other magicians in District 12, he had been suitably impressed by the demonstration of magic. But what use to England was a demonstration in the heart of York? How would the important persons in government, the high society of London, hear about it? Mr Abernathy gave explicit instructions to Mr Odair to travel to London, to write to the periodicals and praise the Yorkshire man who was bringing magic back to England. A man with his natural charm was sure to find a place in London society after all.
Mr Odair felt he had little choice. The way the offer had been presented to him, it was quite clear that it was this, or give up the profession that he held so dear….
"Well, sir, you've achieved your first goal," said Haymitch as he poured Mr Heavensbee a glass of brandy. He handed the drink to his master then proceeded to pour a similar glass for himself. It was true that they did not have the usual master/servant relationship, and Mr Heavensbee barely raised an eyebrow when Haymitch took a seat opposite him, as if he were an equal. "You've effectively destroyed all claims to magicianship in Yorkshire. If you can take over the whole of the North, why, maybe you can even lay claim to the throne of the Raven King himself."
Plutarch Heavensbee shot Haymitch a look that was half anger, half fear, almost as if he expected the Raven King himself to appear to face this challenge to his throne.
"Haymitch," he said with exaggerated patience, "you know full well it is not, nor has it ever been, my intention to lay any kind of claim to any kind of throne. I merely wish to make magic once again a respectable profession. And I will do so without the aid of the Raven King, nor any of his wicked fairy brethren."
"Of course, sir. My apologies."
The two men drank their brandy in silence while Haymitch withdrew a pouch of tobacco and rolled a cigarette. Mr Heavensbee flashed Haymitch an admonishing look. "Not around the books," he said sternly.
Haymitch raised an eyebrow at his master but conceded defeat and tucked his unlit cigarette behind his ear. He looked around the library. Beautifully and elaborately carved mahogany bookshelves lined every single wall, and there was not a free space on any of the shelves. This was a collection that would thrill any bibliophile, but it was also a collection quite unlike any other.
Any magician would pay handsomely for a book about magic. Books about magic gave detailed histories of past magicians and their feats and very specifically described the effects of the spells they used, but none were ever able to describe the spells themselves. These were only ever found in books of magic, which were exceptionally rare. And Plutarch Heavensbee had amassed the greatest collection of books of magic anywhere in the civilised world.
There were times, Haymitch had to admit to himself, that he found himself uncomfortable in that great library. Perhaps it was the impression the books gave that some of them were able to breathe. Or that some even seemed to whisper to him. Perhaps his discomfort arose when he witnessed anyone other than Mr Heavensbee or himself attempt to read even a title of one of those books, how they would squint at the printed spines, unable to make out a single letter. Or how, if they attempted to take a book from a shelf, they would find themselves entirely unable to lift it even an inch. Whether a spell had been cast in the library by Heavensbee, or whether it was the books protecting themselves, Haymitch was unsure. He wasn't entirely certain if he truly wanted to know.
Sensing that a change of subject was best, Haymitch picked up his brandy and swirled it around the glass. "What of the one that got away?"
"Mr Odair? He could be useful, for now. I am well aware that I need someone to introduce me when I travel to London. People are easy to manipulate when you hold something of importance over their head. If he fails to do as he is told, he has nowhere to go. Once word gets out to the other Districts of his part in 12's downfall then he will be shunned. So, I believe Mr Odair will simply do as he is told."
Haymitch nodded and sipped at his brandy. Mr Heavensbee was like a master chess player, willing to sacrifice anything to win the endgame. He wondered briefly when it would be his own sacrifice that was called upon.
"Anyway," continued Mr Heavensbee, "I will be far happier when the other Districts go the way of District 12. And with the false magicians gone, we are left to our far greater task."
"And what might that be, sir?"
"To bring magic back to England and to make it respectable once again. To make England forget every connection magic had with those demonic beasts known as fairies. And our biggest challenge of all: the complete eradication of the memory of the Raven King."
Haymitch stared at his master for a moment, swallowing the bile that threatened to rise. He was a Northerner, and if there was one thing that was dear to the hearts of all Northern Englishmen, it was their connection to the Raven King, the beautiful English child taken by fairies when he was just a boy, raised to become the greatest magician the world had ever known. It was said that the Raven King ruled over three separate Kingdoms: Northern England, the entirety of Fairie, and a strange land located somewhere on the other side of Hell. And even though the Raven King had ridden out of England three hundred years earlier and had not been seen since, many Northerners still felt a stronger allegiance towards him than towards the current monarch, afflicted as he was with his terrible madness.
Haymitch nodded pensively, doing his best to keep his feelings hidden. It would not do well for Mr Heavensbee to know the paths down which his thoughts were straying.
It was tremendously difficult for Finnick Odair arriving in London and knowing no one. At first, he was able to rent some small rooms in Drury Lane. Not exactly respectable, but suitable to his purposes. And from his cramped bedroom, he wrote to all the periodicals, but no one seemed especially keen to publish the opinion of an unknown son of a fisherman regarding some disturbance that took place in Yorkshire, of all places.
A kind of panic began to consume him, as the threats hanging over him, placed there by Mr Heavensbee, seemed to become ever more present. If he was to do Mr Heavensbee's bidding, he would have to begin making a name for himself in London.
And so Mr Odair began to ensconce himself in London society. It was slow going at first, but he was gifted with enough natural beauty and charm that very soon he was a regular face amongst the capital's parties.
He almost began to forget Mr Heavensbee's request, and Mr Abernathy's less-than-subtle hints that unless he was successful in his mission to introduce Mr Heavensbee to London society, he would no longer be able to call himself a magician—that is, until a polite but firm letter arrived reminding him of his duties.
He had no choice but to find some kind of patronage, someone with influence who would stand firm behind his words. Already Mr Odair was finding himself hopelessly drawn towards the beautiful Miss Annie Cresta, daughter of Sir Adam Cresta, an estate owner in Hertfordshire. Sir Adam was highly influential in London society, and it occurred to Mr Odair that with Sir Adam's patronage, he would be published by any of the periodicals.
When at last Mr Odair's description of the magic performed in York was published in The London Review, it caused less of a ripple than a pebble thrown into the Thames. Many people were liable to believe it was a joke and immediately dismissed it as a strange piece of satire. Mr Odair's fast wit was becoming well known in society, after all.
"What am I to do, Miss Cresta?" he asked one evening, collapsing into an armchair, as worried servants pressed a comforting glass of brandy into his hand. "I have failed. I have done what was asked of me, but I have still failed. Mr Heavensbee is sure to strip me of my right to be a magician."
"This Mr Heavensbee sounds an odd sort of creature to me," said Annie thoughtfully. "I cannot understand why any man would want to remove himself from the company of his own contemporaries."
"You cannot understand because you are sweet and pure. Mr Heavensbee has designs on power, of that I can be certain. And the easiest way for him to ensure he has the most power is to ensure that other men have none. And seeing as he is the only man in England with the ability to do practical magic, he has a fair claim."
"It will not do," said Sir Adam. "It would not suit a country to have only one politician, able to run everything as only he saw fit. Why should magic be governed by a single person?"
"Sir Adam, what Mr Heavensbee has done is remarkable, even if it may not appear it to people in London just yet. This is the first real magic done in two hundred years. After the Raven King disappeared from the North, magic slowly began to dwindle until we simply forgot it all."
"It does not seem all that remarkable to me. I fail to see how talking birds can be of any use to England. And by your own account they could only repeat what was heard. We couldn't even have conversations with them!"
"It was a simple demonstration, Sir Adam, that is all. The proof that magic could still be done. I am loathe to admit it, but Mr Heavensbee could be a great asset to England, and particularly to the war effort."
"Not from York, he won't be. If he wishes to show how he can help England then he needs to travel to London himself and show us how he can be of assistance. We are of course grateful he sent you to us, Mr Odair, but he cannot rely on the words of one man to achieve greatness."
Mr Odair sighed as he sat back in the armchair and sipped at his brandy. "You are right, Sir Adam. I will write to him. Tell him to come here himself. Although you are right in another aspect too. I wish there were at least one other magician, so that Mr Heavensbee's opinion does not end up being the sole one."
"Well, what if there was another practical magician?" said Miss Cresta.
"But there are no others."
"But what if there were?"
Miss Cresta was watching him with such earnest. Her meaning could not have been more apparent. "I truly am flattered," he smiled, quite unable to meet her intense gaze, "But I have no one to learn from. I have no books. And I have a feeling Mr Heavensbee will not be interested in taking me on as a pupil."
"Have you thought of talking to the street magicians?" asked Sir Adam.
"Oh, absolutely! Father, what a wonderful idea! You should visit Marvel; he is the best of all the street magicians! I am sure that for a few coins he would be willing to take you on as a pupil!"
Street magicians were rife in London. These gypsies and travellers claimed to be able to tell fortunes and prophecies. When most Londoners thought of magicians, it was these pretenders that first came to their minds. Mr Odair knew more than most that he would never be able to learn actual practical magic from one of these charlatans, but Miss Cresta seemed so taken with the idea that he felt unable to deny her.
The following day he took to London's foggy, smoke-clogged streets, seeking out the filthy booth that Miss Cresta had described as belonging to Marvel, the most popular of all the pretenders. He recognized the booth from the description Miss Cresta had given of the tattered yellow curtain. Tentatively, he pulled the curtain to one side.
In front of him was a wretched creature. Tall and skeletally thin with sunken eyes, he barely looked human, an appearance exaggerated by the spidery tattoos covering every visible inch of skin. At the sight of Mr Odair, his eyes grew wide, a hungry expression crossing over them. "You want to know your fortune, sir?" he asked. "Know where to find a beautiful bride? Or perhaps a willing mistress? For a shilling I can tell you all you wish to know."
Feeling slightly embarrassed by the whole situation, Mr Odair took a seat on a rickety stool, while Marvel reached inside his shabby coat and withdrew a deck of cards. He set them on the velvet-draped table and held his palm out towards Mr Odair expectantly. The latter cleared his throat and said, "I am not here to have my fortunes read."
If it were possible, Marvel's gaunt eyes opened even wider and took on an aspect of fear. "Sir, I need just a little more time. Give me one more week, and I shall get you your money."
"Neither am I here to collect debts."
Marvel slumped to his seat and took a deep, hacking cough. "Then leave. I have no need for time wasters."
Mr Odair reached inside his own coat and withdrew a silk purse filled with coins. He dropped this on the table in front of Marvel and said, "I wish to learn magic."
Marvel licked his dry, cracked lips and reached across the table for the purse, but before he could reach it, Mr Odair covered the purse with his own hand. "I also wish it to be known that I know you are a fraud. I am here only as a favour to one I hold dear. But," he said, uncovering the purse once more, "I cannot bear to see a man, even a wretch such as yourself, go hungry."
An odd look passed over Marvel's face. Hurriedly, he took up the deck of cards and shuffled them, then placed one face up on the table in front of him. A curious grin tugged at his lips, revealing a mouth of cracked, yellow teeth, and he snapped his head up to meet Mr Odair's gaze so suddenly that Mr Odair felt himself start. "I've been waiting for you," he said in a tone that made goose bumps appear over Mr Odair's skin.
"For me?" he spoke back in a hushed tone, before shaking himself back to the present. Marvel was, at heart, a conman, and was clearly using every trick in his book to lure in his prey. And he, Mr Odair, was falling for it.
"Two magicians are destined to restore magic to England."
"And you think one of them is me?"
"No. Although you are instrumental in helping them. One claims to act in the best interest of magic, although it is usually only his own interests he serves. The other has intentions that are more noble, although he will appear far more dangerous to those around him. And while these men struggle for power, the nameless slave will rise and become King of a strange and foreign land. You already know one of these gentlemen, I believe, Mr Odair."
How did this wretch know his name? It was an impossibility!
"How could you…?"
"I have long known of the restoration of English magic, Mr Odair. And that one day you would seek me out."
Once again, imagine the sadness felt by Mr Odair at hearing this news—at hearing how his destiny was not his own! Nobly putting aside his own bitter disappointment he said, "You are correct that I already know one of these eminent gentlemen. Tell me of the other."
"You need not find him. He will come to you."
"Tell me, wretch. Why should I believe this prophecy? How did you come by it?"
Marvel looked over the strange tattoos covering his entire body. "It was passed to me. Many years ago. You can choose to believe it or not. It will come true either way." Marvel eyed the silk purse greedily and snatched the coins up before he held open the tattered yellow curtain, dismissing Mr Odair from his fortune-telling booth.
Back in the cold London air it seemed easier to dismiss the ramblings and ravings of the strange, inked man as utter nonsense. He would return to the company of Sir Adam and Miss Cresta, exhilarated from his adventure, but no closer to learning magic than he had been that morning. And he would write to Mr Heavensbee who would come to London, and continue to hold sway over him. Perhaps magic was more trouble than it was worth, after all.
Mr Heavensbee hated travel with an intense passion. He hated the discomfort of the carriage, the constant movement, and the ever-present cold breeze. But more than anything, he hated being away from his precious library back at Northolt Abbey. For his journey to London, he was forced to only pack a few belongings, and choosing which books to take with him occupied an entire day. He couldn't bear to leave them behind, even though his library was entirely protected from outside intrusion, but the idea of them being taken outside of his library, even though they would be by his side, was enough to give him palpitations. Thanks to the constant complaining about trifling discomforts, by the time he and Haymitch finally arrived in London, Haymitch was almost ready to walk out on his master and seek a new fortune.
Mr Heavensbee took up residence in a house in Hanover Square. One room was entirely dedicated to the housing of the books he had finally chosen to bring with him. By any accounts, it was still one of the most impressive libraries in England, although still paled in significance compared with the treasures he had left behind.
For several weeks, Mr Heavensbee stayed locked in his new home, complaining about the draughts, or the smaller proportions to the rooms, or the lack of light in his sitting room after four o'clock. The constant complaints grated sorely upon Haymitch's nerves, compounded by Mr Heavensbee's apparent refusal to actually do anything. They had travelled the length and breadth of the country in order to try and restore English magic, and yet Mr Heavensbee remained beset by inaction.
"They will come to me," he kept saying to Haymitch.
His servant, of course, knew better and secretly called upon the services of Mr Odair.
"What am I to do?" Mr Odair beseeched Haymitch. "Words of little more than parlour tricks in York have no effect on these people. If Mr Heavensbee wishes to prove his usefulness, why, he must go out and do it himself!"
"And he will. He merely requires an opportunity. Surely with the connections you have forged you can think of something. I would hate to have to tell Mr Heavensbee that you are being obtuse."
Oh, despair! Mr Odair was becoming all too well acquainted with that feeling! "There is one chance," he said, shaking his head sadly. "But I do not know how possible it will be for me to arrange a meeting."
"I am sure you will find a way," replied Haymitch, leaving Mr Odair alone once again.
Mr Christopher Everdeen was the Foreign Minister. As well as being highly influential within government, he was a well-liked and well-respected member of society. His daughters were both intelligent and beautiful. Primrose had exceptional talent on the pianoforte, while Katniss' voice had the magic to enchant anyone around her. Both were exceptionally loved, and as such, the tragedy of Katniss being diagnosed with consumption struck the people of London a severe blow.
She bore it stoically, never once complaining of her severe discomfort. A good friend of Miss Cresta's, Mr Odair had met her only once, and had been struck by the sadness that one so young and beautiful would likely soon lose their life to such a terrible disease.
He had read once that magic could be used to cure all manner of illnesses and ailments, and so perhaps Mr Heavensbee would be able to succeed where doctors and surgeons had failed.
At first, when he made the suggestion, Annie shot it down without a second thought. Her distrust of Mr Heavensbee made her irrationally dismiss the idea without fully comprehending that it could mean her friend's full return to life. However, after visiting Katniss, and being left in tears at how cold and close to death her dear friend was, Annie was moved to action. She begged her father to speak with Mr Everdeen, to allow this strange magician access to poor Katniss. Out of desperation for his daughter, willing to try anything, Mr Everdeen agreed.
Tragedy struck too soon, however. Arrangements had been made for Mr Heavensbee to visit the young Miss Everdeen, and before he had even been able to warm his hands from the bitter cold outside, Madge, Miss Everdeen's attendant, came running into the parlour in tears, to inform everyone that Miss Everdeen had passed on.
Mr Everdeen collapsed into a nearby armchair, his head in his hands. Cinna, his butler, immediately pressed a glass of brandy into his shaking hands, while Miss Primrose wept at her father's feet.
Seeing the private grief of everyone assembled, Mr Odair apologised to the family for their loss and began to back out of the room, expecting Mr Heavensbee and Haymitch to follow. However, Mr Heavensbee was muttering to himself. "It may not be too late, but…. This is precisely the kind of magic I wish to decry….. No. I cannot. I must not. But how else… It is dangerous, of course….. but the potential benefits…"
"Mr Heavensbee?" said Mr Odair, causing the older man to start suddenly.
The magician looked at Mr Odair fearfully, concerned that his fretful mutterings had been heard, and worse, understood, by the younger man. In an instant, his mind was made up, and he said out loud to the room, "It may not be too late for Miss Everdeen. I may still be able to help her yet."
"She is dead, dear God, man, let her rest!" said Sir Adam, his dislike of Mr Heavensbee clear for all the world to see.
"Then nothing my master can do can possibly disturb or harm her further," said Haymitch.
"Mr Everdeen," the magician addressed the grieving father directly, "time is entirely of the essence. Miss Katniss has only just passed. Which means she will be easy to find and bring back. The longer it is left, the more difficult the magic I wish to perform will be. Sir, at least allow me to try."
"You will not harm her?" said Mr Everdeen through his tears.
"I assure you, sir, that I will not."
Mr Everdeen was far too distressed to show Mr Heavensbee to where his daughter was lying upon her death-bed, and so the sad task was left to Madge. He insisted upon absolute solitude when performing the magic, closing the door on the maid behind him with a deep, heavy sigh.
Miss Everdeen looked as though she could merely be sleeping. Someone, probably her maid, had laid a handful of white roses over her perfect breasts, and had positioned her hands to clutch them. A light breeze ruffled her hair slightly, and Mr Heavensbee looked for the offending window in order to close it, fearful that his voice would carry into the street, even from here.
He checked that no one was waiting outside the door; it was imperative that no one ever know precisely what he was about to attempt. He stood at the foot of the bed, and moved his hand in a complicated movement over the body of Katniss Everdeen, whispering an ancient fairy name, long forgotten by most. Immediately, the breeze that had blown through the open window picked up again, although now it appeared to originate not from the window, but from the opposite wall.
"Oh Lar!" said Mr Heavensbee, "Magnum opus est mihi tuo auxilio. Haec virgo mortua est et familia eius eam ad vitam redire vult."
A strange shimmering passed over the room. Suddenly the dimensions appeared differently, as if a whole new world existed in the room that could not be seen. The large, ornate, golden mirror hanging over Miss Everdeen's mantelpiece reflected a view that did not exist, and Mr Heavensbee suddenly understood where the strange breeze was coming from. Within the confines of the mirror, a castle in a terrible state of disrepair could be seen. The decaying walls and torn banners may once have been glorious, but years of neglect had taken their toll.
A figure could be seen moving within the mirror. A distinguished-looking gentleman with snow-white hair, dressed in the most impeccable clothing. Mr Plutarch swallowed his nervousness as the gentlemen stepped down from the mirror, and immediately rushed to the side of Miss Everdeen. His eyes widened, and as he spoke Mr Plutarch became aware of an otherworldly smell: a bizarre mixture of blood and roses. The gentleman with snow-white hair was speaking in a rapid fairy-tongue that Mr Plutarch found difficult to follow, although he appeared to be proclaiming Miss Everdeen's outstanding beauty.
He cleared his throat, and spoke again. "Oh Lar, me ad hanc magnam operam te elegisse quia…."
"I need not hear why you have chosen me to bring this woman back to life. I know that I am the most powerful of my race, that I have more magical power in this or any other world than lies in all the trees in the forests or stones in the mountains. The question, human, is who are you?"
Mr Plutarch stumbled over his words. He had not expected to be treated this way by anyone, and certainly not by a fairy. "I, sir? I am the greatest magician of the age! I am the only magician of this age!"
The gentleman with the snow-white hair stepped closer to Mr Plutarch, and a small, cold smile widened his lips, causing the smell of blood and roses to grow ever clearer. "No. There is another magician. He is just not yet aware."
Mr Heavensbee felt as though he had been doused in cold water. There could be no other magician, surely? This must be one of the fairy's devilish tricks. Shaking his head, and ignoring the ominous message for now, Mr Heavensbee said, "It is of vital importance that this woman be restored to life. You can do it?"
"Of course I can," replied the gentleman with snow-white hair, waving his hand dismissively. "But with what will you pay me?"
Mr Heavensbee's brow furrowed in confusion. In all his researches he had never heard of fairies demanding payment for their services. "Mr Everdeen, this woman's father, is a rich man and—"
"I have no need for jewels or riches. My request is simple. I have been the confidante and advisor of some of the greatest magicians in history; Thomas of Lanchester, Catherine of Winchester, I even sat beside Merlin at the court of King Arthur. Allow me to guide your studies, to teach you. And you will tell the world that your power comes from me."
Mr Heavensbee blanched at such a notion! His entire life had been dedicated to study, to prove that magic had not been eradicated from England, and most of all to prove that fairies were not a 'necessary evil' when it came to magic. And now that he had proven his first two points, he was to be thwarted on the third! It simply would not do. Mr Heavensbee mumbled quietly about the gentleman's kind offer, but how it was quite simply impossible to accept.
"Well," said the gentleman with a small laugh, and the temperature in the room dropped by several degrees. Outside the window, the falling rain suddenly turned to snow, and ice crystals began to form over the glass, reaching out with their frozen tendrils to create a mesmerizing pattern over the pane. "I will admit that I had not expected such a chill welcome. Had I known that I would be greeted by so little gratitude, I would not have made the journey. I knew Englishmen to be arrogant, but to refuse to acknowledge my help at all…. I have every mind to return presently to my Kingdom of Panem!"
"You refuse to help her, then?"
"I did not say that!" spat the gentleman. "It is a pity to waste one so beautiful. She would be greatly admired by so many…." The gentleman looked down over the body of Miss Everdeen, and a hungry smile crossed his face. "Give me half her life. That is my fee. I will accept nothing else."
Half her life? Miss Everdeen was twenty years old. If she had been blessed with full health, she could live to seventy, which gave her another fifty years. Half of that was twenty-five, meaning that Katniss could live to forty-five. And living to forty-five was surely better than dying at twenty.
"Half her life," agreed Mr Heavensbee.
The gentleman's smile widened, and the smell of blood and roses became overpowering. "I will require a token from her. Something personal." He bent over Miss Everdeen's body, shielding her from Mr Heavensbee's view, and when he stood up, Mr Heavensbee could see that the gentleman was secreting something away inside a small, ornate snuff box, decorated with a beautiful opal. It was impossible to properly describe the colour of this opal; not quite lilac, not quite pale blue, not quite grey. If one had to describe it, it could be said that the opal was the colour of heartbreak.
Without another word, the gentleman crossed to the mirror and stepped inside. As the reflection rearranged itself to show Miss Everdeen's room as it should be, the young woman herself sat up in bed with a deep gasp. She touched her own breast, amazed at the strength of the heart beating within it, before she held her hand up before her own face. A look of polite confusion passed over her visage and Mr Heavensbee witnessed the source of her confusion. The smallest finger on her left hand was missing. The smell of blood and roses hung in the air and, too late, Mr Heavensbee began to wonder precisely what he had bargained with, and what exactly the gentleman had meant by 'half her life.'
A/N - Some latin translations!
Oh Lar! Magnum opus est mihi tuo auxilio. Haec virgo mortua est et familia eius eam ad vitam redire vult - Oh Fairy! I have great need of your help! This virgin is dead and her family wish her to be returned to life
Oh Lar, me ad hanc magnam operam te elegisse quia... - Oh Fairy, I have chosen you for this great task because...
Again, thanks for reading, and please do leave a review, they mean the world to us fanfiction writers. Oh, and I promise you'll be meeting a certain blond-haired, blue-eyed fellow in the next chapter! :)