I don't own the rights to anything Disney. Please read the Author's Note at the bottom.
Jack sighed, his head leaning against the car window, cold to the touch. He didn't mind the chill, winter was his favorite season after all. Of course, there was also the fact that he was the one responsible for the coolness of the glass.
With his right index finger, he idly traced intricate spirals on the glass, with ice following close behind, sending out tiny branches and offshoots of each curl and spiral. To an outsider, the design might have seemed nothing more than some random squiggle, but Jack knew better. There was order to frost and ice, the way it formed and moved in nature. Only those who spent hours studying the cold substance like Jack had, could see them.
"Beg your pardon, but you shouldn't be doing that your highness, rules and all." Jack glanced up towards his driver, and frowned. With a wave of his hand, his delicate etchings were gone without a trace. Crossing his arm sullenly, he sunk down into his seat, the seat belt cutting into his face due to his new position.
It was his own fault really, he knew that and accepted it—but that didn't mean he had to be happy about his new situation. He just had to show off his abilities to the one girl whose father would overreact to magic. He had barely handed over the ice flower to Laura, before her father, the Duke of Weaselton (who she had thankfully, and most definitely not inherited her looks from) came stomping over and yelling out "Sorcery!"
His powers weren't actually sorcery, but some type of nature magic according to the trolls, inherited from his mother and shared with his sisters. Ever since the United States of Auradon was formed and the villains were banished to the Isle of the Lost, magic, while not explicitly banned, was heavily frowned upon. Even the fairy godmother had hung up her wand.
Queen Elsa of Arendelle, hadn't spent the majority of her life trying to hide her magic, only to find acceptance and learn control to go back to hiding again. However, she wasn't flashy with her magic, not like the fairy godmother had been. Instead she used it quietly, creating a ski resort in the mountains that had fresh snow all year long along with an ice rink. She also exported ice to the hotter states that was specially engineered to last longer in the heat.
That was also the way she had taught her children to use their magic—Jack's older sister Crown Princess Helga, himself, and his younger sister Princess Sonja. His sisters followed their mother's instructions to a 'T', whereas Jack… less so.
He understood where his mother was coming from, he really did, but he just didn't agree with her, or his father who believed the same. Just because some villains had used magic on the heroes, why did that mean he shouldn't? Why should he be punished for their mistakes?
Despite being told countless times not to use his powers around non-Arendellians who had become used to their Queen's magic over the years, he just couldn't resist when Lady Laura of Weaselton, with her big doe brown eyes of hers, asked if he had inherited his mother's magic. Who could say no to those eyes?
Her father could apparently, along with his parents, and Helga, whose eighteenth birthday party he accidentally ruined. Apparently seeing the rose had brought back bad memories for the Duke, and put the uneasy alliance with Weaselton at risk. The Duke was threatening to go to King Adam and Queen Belle—who had the power to strip his parents of their title and lands if any misconduct could be proven, per the terms of the agreement that led to the forming of the United States of Auradon, lest any more evil step-mothers try to go after the thrones. Given the Duke's history with Arendelle, it was more than likely he would use the incident as a way to claim the throne for himself.
Something that was drilled into his head over and over again later that night by his parents. The only way to soothe the Duke's rage was for Queen Elsa and King Marten of Arendelle to make a public demonstration of punishing their son.
At first, the only solution seemed to be to send him away to Auradon Prep where not using magic was stressed. It wasn't a great one, his parents were close to him and his sisters, and couldn't bear to send them away to any place, let alone one that would teach them to conceal their powers.
Just as Jack was starting to think that all was lost, Merlin of all people showed up at the Arendelle palace requesting an audience with his parents. When the United States of Auradon was formed, there were some who didn't take the 'no magic' stance lying down, and Merlin was their loudest voice. However, even the great and powerful Merlin couldn't stand in the way of so-called progress and technology, and eventually disappeared from public life all together. Jack could count on one hand the number of times Merlin had been seen in the past twenty years. Yet here he was, at the Arendelle palace.
So it was only natural for him and his sisters, along with his cousins, Aunt Anna, Uncle Kristoff and Olaf to position themselves close to the room where Merlin and his parents were to hear what the famous reclusive wizard would want with them. To his credit, Uncle Kristoff did try to dissuade them all from doing so, pointing out that Merlin could turn them all into frogs if they were caught, but a quick glare and a hushing motion from his wife shut him up, and he soon joined the rest of his family.
Except his parents knew his family way too well, and only a few minutes later did they open the door, not the least bit surprised by the crowd outside.
"Merlin wishes to speak to Jack, but since the rest of you as hear as well, I suppose you might as well come in," said his mother, with an exasperated look on her face.
Jack nervously entered the room, wiping his sweaty palms against his pants. He was about to meet Merlin, granted not under the best circumstances, but it was still Merlin and he couldn't do it with sweaty palms.
In the past twenty years, many of the states had adopted more modern dress, his parents included, yet Merlin still looked the same as ever in his classic blue robes, blue wizard hat, long white beard, and wooden wand.
"Ah, nice to meet you Prince Jack. I must say, I wish it could be under better circumstances," said Merlin, holding out his hand to shake Jack's.
Jack numbly shook it in his, unable to say anything. He was shaking Merlin's hand, arguably the most powerful magic user alive and probably the only one who hadn't fallen in line like the fairy godmother, and to a certain degree, his parents.
He could hear his father chuckling next to him. "We should have you over more often, usually we can't get Jack to be quiet."
Jack, to his horror, felt his cheeks turning red. Girls blushed, boys didn't, but that didn't stop his cheeks from betraying him. "Dad," he whined, and he only got a wry smile in return, from both of his parents.
Merlin pretended not to notice, and simply stared at Jack silently, with a twinkle of amusement gleaming in his eye, if such a thing was even possible. "Like the majority of Arendelle, I have heard of what occurred last night. Rather than having your parents ship you off to Auradon Prep, I'm here to offer you an alternative—only if you agree of course."
"Okay," replied Jack hesitantly, not sure what the alternative could be. Well there were other schools in Auradon like Sherwood, none were as prestigious or could boast the number of royalty or children of heroes in attendance like Auradon Prep could.
"I'd like you to offer you a spot at the school in the Avalon Forest Refuge and Sanctuary. The school's not a boarding school, but you'd be staying with me and some other students in my cottage near the school grounds. While I do understand this is a big decision, I must inform you that you can't take too long, for summer break is about to end and classes are about to resume."
"I didn't realize that there was a school there," said Jack, unsure of what to make of the offer. The Avalon Forest Refuge and Sanctuary was in the middle of nowhere in the western part of Arendelle, nestled snuggly between the Arendelle Mountain Range and the Arendelle Forest, and wasn't too far from the trolls. Jack had seen it before on the map, with one lone road leading towards it. The only people Jack knew of that went to the Refuge were nature lovers, for camping and hiking was the only thing to do there. There was no wifi, and not even electricity once you left the main highway.
Jack turned to his parents and could see that his parents actually seemed fond of the idea. What were they thinking, sending him to the middle of nowhere? Sure he had screwed up, but surely not bad enough to be shipped off to the woods.
Merlin merely chuckled, clearly amused by his response. "Not many people do. There is a town at the Refuge, so naturally there's a school for the children to attend."
"Don't you think this is a little extreme, Elsa?" said Jack's Aunt Anna, stepping forward to face her sister. "No offense," she added hastily, realizing who she might have just offended.
"None taken," Merlin responded, nonplussed by her remark. Was it even possible for a twinkle in an eye to grow bigger, Jack wondered.
"I know it may seem extreme, Anna, but Jack needs to learn control. Not control like Had to, but he needs to learn when to use his powers and when not to. I'm afraid that Avalon might be the only option."
"Hold on a minute," said his sister, Helga. "He hasn't even said yes yet."
Jack shrugged, trying his best to appear as if he didn't care. "Sure, why not? I mean, it's either there or Auradon Prep, and well, you know how bratty those princesses can be," he said with a smirk directed at his oldest sister.
When they were younger, they were part of what could be best described as a series of royal play dates between all the young princes and princesses of Auradon. That was until there was an incident between Helga and Princess Audrey, and Helga told her parents point-blank if she ever had to spend another minute in the girl's presence, Audrey would find herself as an ice princess, literally. They wouldn't have been surprised to hear such a thing out of the mouths of their two youngest, but to hear it out of their eldest, who shared her mother's calm and easy going personality… well meant that she would actually follow through on her threat if she was that irritated by the girl. Needless to say the play dates ended after that, not that Jack minded.
His sister, rolled her eyes, trying to imitate his blasé attitude, but he knew that she'd miss him just as much as he would her. Not that you would ever manage to get the two siblings to say that aloud. "Please, they'd have you wrap around their little pinkie the second you step on campus."
Jack stuck his tongue out at her, and she did the same, followed soon up by his cousins, which then turned into a game to see who could make the weirdest faces at each other. He honestly couldn't say he was too surprised that Merlin joined in with his family.
His family was royal, true, and some had powers, but he liked to think that they were just as normal and crazy as any other family out there.
Which was probably why it hurt so much to leave the next day. It was silly how he felt, he was going away to school, not leaving forever. Of course, that's no doubt what his grandparents thought on their way to Corona, only to never return again. But that was then, in the past, and this was the present and there now existed the Auradon Coast Guard, and better ships and technology than back in his grandparent's day.
Then he remembered where it was he was going, and suddenly his heart dropped to his feet again. It had time to return to its normal position though due to the fifty hugs he received from his parents, Olaf, his sisters, his parents, Olaf, his aunt and uncle, his parents, Olaf, his cousins, and his parents and Olaf once more. Several times he tried to squirm out from under the heap, he was a teenage boy after all, but he was no match for them.
And then it was over, and he was in the car off to the middle of nowhere all because he wanted to impress Laura. Now he wouldn't be able to see his family again till December, and it didn't matter if he kept his promise to his mother and wrote home every week, he still wouldn't be home.
Jack was unhappy and miserable, and it wasn't because he could no longer doodle on the windows in the car.
Miguel Ramirez's foot wouldn't stop tapping, no matter how many times he tried to keep it still. Eventually he gave up, figuring that his right foot tapping incessantly was better than the alternative. He was nervous, there was no denying that, and when he was nervous, things tended to happen—things that he couldn't quite control. He had thought that he had gotten better at controlling it, he had managed to go six months without an entire incident.
That record was shattered earlier that morning, and it was over such a stupid thing too. He had finally managed to convince his Aunt Audrey to take him on a tour of Whitmore Industries.
Whitmore Industries, was the primary driving force behind the sudden modernization of Auradon that had taken place over the past twenty years. Responsible for all the new sleek cars, cell phones, internet, and the expanded power grid to keep up with the electrical demand. Other companies had sprung up since, mainly as a result of the Whitmore Industries Invention Competition Convention that was held every year to encourage young inventors to come up with new innovations and ideas.
Miguel's entire family worked for Whitmore Industries, after his Aunt Audrey managed to befriend Preston B. Whitmore, the founder. Miguel was still a little hazy on the exact details, but knew that his aunt had since become the Chief Engineer of the Maintenance and Operations Division, in charge of ensuring the day-to-day operations all ran smoothly, and when problems did arise, they were seen to as fast as possible.
He had various other relatives in management roles as well, and it was his dream to end up working there as well someday. If only he didn't have his pesky little problem. That was how his grandfather viewed, that was how the rest of the Ramirez's viewed it, and that was how he viewed it—a problem.
Ever since he could remember, he could generate electricity. When he was younger he thought it was nothing more than static electricity, and that he was just more prone to it than other people, and that as long as he avoided wearing socks while walking on carpet he'd be fine.
Except it didn't work. His pesky little problem didn't go away. He'd wake up with tiny little bolts dancing all over his arms and legs. When his cousins slept over, they'd joke that they didn't need a nightlight, they had Miguel.
Then there were the times he would go to put something in the microwave, turn on the television, or go to use the computer, and it would start to smoke and frizz out. Even with the discount from Whitmore Industries, he had fried enough electronics in his grandfather's house that he was banned from ever touching one directly. Instead, he had to ask somebody to do something for him, like he was a toddler. He tended to simply avoid them altogether—his older cousins would usually tease him and make him beg for their help, while the rest of his family would merely give him pitying looks.
It was when he was seven, and had just managed to fry his second remote control truck in a week, did his grandfather sit him down and explain the source of his pesky little problem. His mother, Nena, had been a famous boxer. He had grown up knowing that due to all of her trophies and awards strewn about the house. He also had known that his mother died in childbirth, despite all the leaps and bounds in medical science had taken in the last twenty years. To die in childbirth today, was practically unheard of.
What he didn't know of, until that day, was why. Apparently, the Greek God Zeus had seen his mother fighting and became impressed, and started to take an interest in her. One thing led to another (though his grandfather refused to tell him what those things were until he was older) and soon his mother was expecting Miguel. The problem was, that Zeus was married to Hera, and Hera was pissed.
Zeus had a reputation for, as his grandfather put it, 'having a wandering eye', and Hera tolerated it—but barely. When the goddess gave birth to their son and famous hero Hercules, she had made him swear off other women, and he agreed. Until he met Nena Ramirez.
When Hera found out about Miguel, she was angry, and swore revenge. Afraid what she would do, Zeus struck a new deal with Hera—if she let Nena and her son alone, so would he. No contact, no nothing, and Hera agreed.
His mother was heartbroken when Zeus told her of the deal, but knew it was for the best given Hera's history towards Zeus other demigod children. In a way though, Hera did manage to get her revenge. For by forbidding Zeus to have contact with Nena, he was unable to save her during childbirth. Giving birth is hard enough, Miguel's grandfather had explained without going into all the messy details, but giving birth to a god's child was even harder, and as a result Nena had died, and only magic could have saved her.
And that was why Miguel had his pesky little problem and the only thing he could do was to learn how to control it as best as he could. Which was exactly Miguel set out to do—with varying results. He would always manage to go a few months before an incident would happen and he would have to start all over again.
Six months was his record, and he had been so proud of it. His Aunt Audrey had even agreed to take him a tour as a reward, for despite his pesky little problem, he still wanted to end up working there. It was where all the Ramirez's worked, and he wanted to as well, even if it meant a clerical or secretarial position, where he'd be safe and away from anything too big and powerful incase his problem decided to rear its ugly little head.
At least, that was the idea. His aunt had been showing him around the offices of Whitmore Industries, on the upper levels of the Whitmore Building, when his aunt had been pulled aside by a person she worked with and promised to be back in a few minutes.
Miguel took the time looking out the window on Auradon City below him, which was the capital of the United States of Auradon and the center of well, everything. Anybody who wanted to be somebody knew the best hope of doing so was to go to the city, for they had the best of everything—libraries, universities, museums, theater, it was where the palace for the King and Queen of Auradon was, along with the Senate building where the representatives from the states would meet and discuss law and politics.
It was the center of everything, and there he was in the middle of it. Then the whispers had started behind his back.
"Isn't that Nena's son?"
"I heard that there was something wrong with him."
'I heard that they were ashamed of him."
Miguel brushed the whispers off. It wasn't the first time he heard such talk, for even though his family tried their best to shelter him from gossip, it still managed to reach his ears at school and out in public. He couldn't risk ruining his six month steak, so he tried to focus on other things. Like watching as traffic moved on the street below him, the people no bigger than the size of dots to the human eye. Or focusing on the stain on the carpet beneath him and his rubber insulated shoes, probably from some spilled coffee or other such drink.
Then the whispers took on a crueler tone, one which he couldn't ignore no matter how hard he tried.
"Oh yeah? Well I heard that they don't even know who his father is, that his mother would spread her legs for anyone."
"Can't say I'm surprised. What do you expect of a woman who acted like a man for a living?"
Something inside of Miguel snapped at those words. They could insult him and his pesky little problem all they wanted, but how dared they insult his dead mother. Even his older cousins who'd tease him incessantly, would never dare to bring her up.
Something outside snapped as well. At first, Miguel thought the hissing and crackling was in his head, but then he smelled smoked. Turning around revealed row after row of computers smoking, with befuddled workers in front of them, wondering what had just happened. They then turned their eyes to him, understanding lighting up in their eyes.
Before they could say anything though, the sprinklers went on dousing everything in water as they detected the smoke, and causing many of the women and some of the men to shriek in surprise as they were drenched in cold water. That was followed up with the lights shutting off, and the emergency lights failing to turn on.
As Miguel would later find out, the computers that he had fried to a crisp were the ones responsible for controlling the transformers and generators that powered the city. By overloading them, he overloaded the system, and managed to create a massive blackout for the city and several of the surrounding states.
All of this was explain to him in the office of the Whitmore Industries CEO Godric Goldschmidt, who had taken over after Preston's death years ago. His aunt had been offered the position by the Board of Trustees, but she had turned it down.
His aunt wasn't there as she was off trying to get everything back online, but his grandfather was there, simply shaking his head and sighing. Miguel had never felt worse in his life. Because of him and his problem, the entire city and surrounding states were under martial law. The police were busy trying to direct traffic, firefighters were busy trying to rescue people trapped in elevators, the King and Queen were busy directing everything, and the newspapers were busy dragging their old printing presses out of storage which didn't rely on electricity to work to provide the public with some sort of news and updates.
And it was all Miguel's fault, something Godric seemed intent on reminding him of, which was true. Usually his problem only affected small things, never before had it done something so terrible, something so wide scaled. Then again, it had never before had access.
When Godric started to mention the possibility of having to send Miguel to the Isle of the Lost—for what else would the King and Queen demand upon hearing the source of the blackout and the chaos that had fallen upon Auradon—Miguel found himself silently agreeing despite his grandfather's vocal protests. Maybe the Isle of the Lost was for the best, with the magical barrier surrounding the island and canceling out magic, he wouldn't be able to hurt anyone or anything anymore. How many people could die today because he couldn't keep his power under control? How many more would die if he were allowed to continue to be free? And wouldn't objecting just prove what a selfish evil person he was anyway, thereby proving his true place was on the Isle?
Right before Miguel was about to agree to the Isle of the Lost, the doors slammed open, and a little figure came marching in. Miguel had to blink his eyes several times and do a double take. Judging by the open mouths on the faces of his grandfather (which was still noticeably red due to him having to climb the stairs all the way up since the elevator was out of commission) and Godric, Miguel was right in his assumption of who the man was.
Merlin, the greatest and most powerful wizard was standing before him, a man who he had always thought was nothing more than a fairy tale from the books his grandfather had read to him when he was younger. What was he doing here? Was he here to take him away to the Isle of the Lost?
His grandfather and Godric seemed to flabbergasted to speak, so Miguel did so, voicing his thoughts aloud. "Are you hear to take me to the Isle of the Lost?"
"Of course not, boy," laughed Merlin, "whatever made you think you belonged in such a place? No, I'm here to offer you an education."
"An education?" asked his grandfather, who had managed to find his voice again.
"Oh yes. There's a school I teach at that I think your grandson would benefit from greatly. He'd learn science, English, history, math, and how to use his magic properly," replied Merlin.
For the first time since the incident happened, Miguel felt the smallest bit of hope growing inside of him, though he didn't let it show on his face in fear of it being quashed as quickly as it showed up. Merlin was going to teach him how to control his magic. Oh why hadn't he thought of such a thing before? Maybe Merlin could even rid him of his magic completely.
"Can I go?" Miguel asked his grandfather, trying to keep his voice as neutral as possible.
His grandfather turned to look at Godric. "Well that depends on Mr. Goldschmidt here."
The man sighed, and massaged his forehead with his hands, trying to no doubt keep at bay the headache that was slowly forming due to the events of the day. "Fine. I'll tell the King and Queen that it was due to a computer error and that the employees who witnessed it will keep their mouths shut. But you're not allowed back on Whitmore Industries property until you get your powers under control. Is that understood?"
Miguel nodded his head enthusiastically. "Oh yes, sir."
"Yes," agreed his grandfather, "thank you for giving my grandson a second chance."
"Manuel," said the CEO, "you and your family have been such a big part of Whitmore Industries for such a long time, it's the least I can do for you."
Merlin then spoke up. "Well that's settled. I believe that the only thing to do now is pack young man."
So here he was, tapping his foot nervously, with his bag packed and ready to go next to him, waiting for Merlin to finish up with talking with his grandfather.
He couldn't wait for what came next.
Maddie ran from room to room in Discipline cottage, making sure that everything was in order. It wouldn't be long before Merlin would return with her new roommates, and while Merlin wouldn't mind the mess, her new roommates might. The mountain of books was mostly contained to Merlin's study off of the main room on the first floor along with his experiments and toys (she called them toys, but Merlin insisted that they were artifacts and collectibles). The dishes had been washed and were put away in the cupboards, there were fresh sheets on the beds, including the three new ones Merlin had ordered, and the broom, mop, and duster were seeing to the rest of Discipline.
For the first time that day, Maddie allowed herself to plop down into the couch in the main room and relax. Okay, so she wasn't really relaxing, she was actually fluffing the pillows in order to keep herself busy and trying to occupy her time before her new roommates showed up. She still didn't know quite how she felt about having new roommates.
For the longest time it was just her and Merlin in Discipline, which admittedly, was probably a bit big for two people. It was located right next to the grounds of the Avalon Education Institute. Maddie always thought the name sounded a bit too fancy, but Merlin had insisted that while the school did teach children, it was open to those all of ages who wanted an education and to improve their lives, so therefore the name perfectly represented the Institute's mission. Maddie silently thought he was still miffed over his first suggestion, 'Merlin's Center for Learning and Education' was shot down, so he took any attack on his second choice as a personal insult. On one occasion or two, Maddie might have deliberately made a remark about the name to get under his skin, but in all fairness, it was just too easy and too much fun.
The cottage itself had one large main room on the first floor, which had a wood burning stove, sink with a pump, an ice box, and cupboards that counted as the kitchen. There was a large wooden table off the kitchen, with long wooden benches that came in handy when company came to visit—be they fellow teachers, magic users, students, or the occasional person passing through town that Merlin found interesting enough to invite for dinner.
Near the front door of the main room, was a couch and several chairs arranged in a U, along with bookcases that were packed so tightly, Maddie had to use magic rather than her hands to get a book out. There was also a fireplace, that wasn't very grand, but did a great job of keeping Discipline warm in the winter.
There was a door on the right, that led to the small room off of the main room, that was Merlin's study, and which was now doubling as his bedroom, magically enlarged to account for the additional furniture in an already crowded space. To the left was a door that led to the washroom, where there was a tub with a pump for water, a washbasin for the laundry, along with the privy. Avalon may not have had any modern conveniences, but Merlin had insisted on some version of indoor plumbing rather than an outhouse. The spells used were still too advance for Maddie to understand, but she did appreciate having it inside in the winter rather than having to go outside, or dealing with the stink.
Up the stairs, there was a balcony that overlooked the main room, along with two bedrooms which each now had two beds and two wardrobes a piece. There was Maddie's, but there was also Merlin's old room, which now was going to house her new roommates.
There was a door off the kitchen which led to a small garden and pond outside. The garden grew vegetables and herbs that they cooked with, along with plants that had certain magical properties that were valued in potions and salves.
All in all, Discipline Cottage was a nice place to live and had been home to Maddie and Merlin for many years, and soon would home to a few others. According to Merlin, there were several new students who would be attending the Institute, and they would need a place to stay. While other townspeople would have taken them inn, he stressed that they needed Discipline just as Maddie had all those years ago when he had taken her in, and who could really argue with that?
So Maddie held her tongue and promised to make sure to help them with fitting in. So far from what Merlin had told her, her new roommates would include two boys—one of which was the Prince of Arendelle.
The prince was supposed to be arriving by car that evening, with Merlin going to pick up the other boy, promising to back in time for dinner. Merlin could be absent minded occasionally, but he was never wrong about when he would be home. In all the years she had been under his care, he always came back when he said he would.
In order to kill time, Maddie summoned a book from one of the bookshelves, one that she had read so many times she didn't really need to focus on it while she read it. Basic Wards for Beginners was for beginning magic users who had never used wards before. It was one of the first books Maddie had ever read, and one that she knew by heart. Wards could be used for many things when it came to magic—as a way to keep powerful magic in if it was uncontrollable, as a way to keep magic out if a work was being performed that couldn't have any outside interference, as shields to keep one inside safe, or as warnings or alarms, like the ones currently going off in the cottage.
They weren't that loud, which simply meant that somebody other than Maddie or Merlin had entered past the property line, but weren't a threat. Another one went off, this time indicating that at least one of them had some sort of magical ability. Maddie canceled the alarms, and went out the door to greet what could only be the prince.
Outside the door and down the paved stone path on the dirt road was a car. It was sleek and black, and while not a limo still looked rather pricey to Maddie though her experience with automobiles was limited. The driver exited, and walked over to the back right side—the side facing Maddie—and opened the door, letting out the prince, who in his jeans and blue hoodie didn't look the least bit princely.
He looked at Maddie for a second before blurting out, "Your hair's pink."
"And your hair's blonde," responded Maddie in a flat tone, as if she had just pointed out the sky was blue or the grass was green. Yes, her hair was pink, (a result of using a potion when she was younger and not reading the label) but the prince supposedly had magic and grown up in a magical family, so why was he acting like pink hair was a big deal? If he had an issue with her hair color, he wouldn't last long in Avalon.
The driver pulled the prince's bags out of the trunk and asked, "What should I do with these?"
"Just put them down there, I'll take care of them," replied Maddie, and pointed to the ground.
Perplexed expressions crossed the faces of the prince and his driver who had both been expecting to be shown to the prince's room to set them down, and not on the ground. The driver shrugged, and did as Maddie instructed. "Alright, if you say so. Now, your highness, I'll be seeing you in December when I'm to pick you up to return home for the holidays, and not a day before then."
After the driver and the car were gone, the prince turned to Maddie and held out a hand. "I don't believe we've been introduced. I'm Jack, by the way."
Maddie shook his hand. "Nice to meet you Jack, by-the-way. I'm Maddie, and if you want I could take care of your bags."
Jack opened his mouth to protest—he may have been a prince but he couldn't let a girl carry his bags—but the words never make it out his mouth, which does stay open.
With a wave of her left hand, Maddie opened the door to the cottage—without touching the knob. Then, she waved her hands over his luggage, causing them to start to jiggle. "Go up the stairs, and then into the second room on the right." With a final wave, she sent his luggage off, and toward the cottage jiggling all the way.
"But… that's… how?" said Jack, as he struggled to find the words to express his disbelief.
For Maddie though, she was starting to understand why the prince had been so shocked by her hair. "Jack, where exactly did you think you were going?"
"To the Avalon Wildlife Refuge and Sanctuary to go to school and live with Merlin."
"Right," said Maddie in an effort to prod his brain along and process the information. "And what exactly did you think that would entail?"
"I don't know," said jack, running his hands through his hair, "that I would be camping in the middle of the woods with Merlin while things cooled off back home—no pun intended."
Camping in the middle of the woods? What exactly had Merlin told him? Maddie took in a deep breath, and prepared herself for her first impromptu teaching lesson. Knowing Merlin, it was quite possible he planned this and had set her up.
"The Avalon Wildlife Refuge and Sanctuary was founded twenty years ago, right after the Isle of the Lost was formed, and magic was being discouraged. Merlin, along with other magical users who were against it, decided that those with magic, along with non-humans would need somewhere safe to live their lives. They approached your parents—seeing as your mother was a magic user herself—about setting up a wildlife refuge and sanctuary in Avalon, which already had a small magical community."
Maddie paused, letting Jack take a moment to digest the information she had just told him. "But they never told me, I mean, nobody ever said anything…"
"Well of course they didn't, can you imagine what would happen if the public found out that magic was still being practiced and taught?" Seeing the dejected look on Jack's face, she added, "I'm sure your parents were planning on telling you eventually, once you were older."
That didn't seem to offer him any comfort though, if anything he was more frustrated and looked like a child about to throw a tantrum. Maddie did what she would normally do when she saw a child about to throw a tantrum—create a distraction. "I need to go in and start dinner, but I can make it with magic if you want to see more."
It seemed to do the trick, gone was the look of hurt and frustration at his parents, and its place was a look of incredulous. "You make dinner with magic?"
"Not always," said Maddie with a shrug, "I mean, you have to know how to cook a certain meal before you can order the dishes to do it for you. You can't just go and tell them 'cook me a steak' if you yourself don't know that recipe. Have you ever told your magic to do something without having a pattern for something for it to follow?"
"Usually I just visualize what I want my magic to do, and it does it."
"Yeah, but you know what you want your magic to do, and your magic can work off that knowledge," pointed out Maddie.
"You do realize, none of that makes any sense to me," replied Jack.
"Yeah, but that's why you're here, to learn."
Maddie then led the way into Discipline cottage, with Jack following close behind her like that of a duckling following its mother. She pretended not to notice his eyes bugging out as he took in the cottage.
"It's nice," he said, while she got out the pot for dinner, along with the food. "Wait, I thought you were going to use magic."
"Don't worry, I am. I'm just getting out the supplies. Merlin believes that magic should be used, but also that we shouldn't be completely reliant on it, and still should do things by hand occasionally," she explained.
"Merlin surely believes in a lot of things. Where's the old geezer anyway?"
"Right behind you," said a voice from behind, causing Jack to jump into the air and Maddie to laugh. "I apologize for not being here for your arrival, but I had to go pick up Miguel here." The wards had gone off as well, indicating that somebody else with powers had arrived on the property besides Merlin (which may have also contributed to Jack's shock), and were just as quickly shut off.
Miguel's face was green, clashing against his dark brown skin. Jack was confused by the sight of the large muscular boy who was doubled over clutching his stomach, while Maddie could only look on with a sympathetic expression on her face. She knew first hand had discombobulating teleporting for the first time could be. There was a reason she didn't plan on mastering that skill until she was older.
"I see that he wasn't the only who didn't a get a warning about magic," she said while directing the knives to chop up the onions, tomatoes, and carrots for the stew she was making for dinner. Miguel sat down at the table hoping his stomach would calm down. Jack sat down next to him, pretending to be more interested in the magic cooking the dinner than the discussion that was occurring between Maddie and Merlin.
"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about Maddie."
Maddie directed another knife to slice the loaf of bread on the counter and apply butter to it, before it would go into the oven. While she was busy directing the dishes, she also responded to Merlin. "Oh, I don't know, the fact that you failed to tell Jack about the exact nature of the Refuge?"
"Ah, must have slipped my mind. You know how old this geezer is." Jack winced at the comment.
Maddie motioned for the wooden spoon to stir the ingredients in the pot. "For an old guy, I recall you being pretty spry last week when Fauna was trying to get you alone to herself."
"Well, that's quite different you see—" a shrill alarm interrupted Merlin, and cut off whatever you was about to say. Merlin pulled out a pocket watch from his robe, and opened it. "Maddie, don't forget to set for five people."
"Typical," replied Maddie, bringing up the spoon to her mouth to taste it, "But I remembered five when you told me last week, and five when you told me this morning, so naturally I'll only set four places out."
"Five?" asked Jack. "But there's only four of us."
"Four now," agreed Merlin, "but I'm off to get the fifth. I'll be back in time for dinner, and don't think I'll have forgotten your attitude."
"Well don't think I'll have forgotten about Fauna's little crush on you, and you running like a scared little girl every time she approaches you," retorted Maddie.
Both Jack and Miguel wanted to laugh at the exchange, but refrained from doing so, afraid of what the great and powerful wizard might do to them.
After Merlin left, Miguel turned to Maddie who had sat down at the table with the boys, satisfied that her magic could handle the rest of the meal. "Who's the fifth?"
"No idea. But if Merlin says somebody else is joining us for dinner, than somebody else is joining us for dinner."
"But what if he's late?" argued Jack.
"He won't be. If he says he'll be back in time for dinner, then he will be. He might be a bit scattered brain sometimes," or manipulative, Maddie thought to herself, thinking of his omission with Jack, "but you can always count on him when you need him."
Julie Sherman shivered in the cool August air. Summer may not have been over, but fall was well on its way. Julie didn't even have a jacket to protect her from the chill, and lighting a fire was not an option.
Instead, she continued to trudge forward in the woods, ignoring the chill in the air, the rumble of hunger in her stomach that had become a constant and nagging companion, and her feet which were begging for her to stop. It was a full moon that night, giving her enough light to go as far as she wanted and allowing her to rest during the day when it'd be safer to be asleep in the woods, and out of sight from any humans who might be passing through.
A branch scraped her cheek, but she had become so accustomed to being poked and prodded by limbs, twigs and branches over the past few weeks, it didn't matter anymore. She didn't need to look in a mirror to know that her brown hair most likely resembled that of a bird's nest.
Julie didn't have a particular destination in mind, just that it would be as far away as possible from Hamelin, the small village she had lived for all her life in Corona. At least she had, until a few weeks ago. Though, if Julie was honest, things had truly gone downhill a few months before then.
Her family was the prestigious Sherman family, known throughout Corona and even several states as for their music. Family lore had it, several generations ago, Frank Sherman was an aspiring musician who came across a member of the fey one night during the full moon. He managed to impress them with his music, and so they bestowed upon him and his descendants a blessing, one that would ensure their music would be even more magical than it had that night.
Frank's music was even more wonderful and beautiful than it had been that night, but it wasn't long before he discovered certain side effects. People around him would start bursting into songs, and dancing despite having no prior experience. It was confined to princes, princesses, heroes, and powerful villains mainly, and whoever had the misfortune to be around them when the song struck. They never lasted very long, and some even became well-known throughout the land.
Worried that it was dangerous, Frank tracked down the most famous wizard of all time, Merlin. Merlin assured him there was no harm meant by the gift, and someday breaking into song would be an everyday occurrence. Himself and his descendants though, would be immune. Furthermore, what was wrong with a little music in one's life?
His fears put at ease, he soon settled down in the town of Hamelin, where he was paid quite well by the mayor for entertaining the town, as well as bringing in a great deal of tourism. It wasn't long before he built Sherman Hall on top of Hamelin Hill, overlooking the Weser River.
It was where Julie had been born and lived in with her family. The Hall, as it was simply called, had been built from the many trees that dotted the land. It had large glass windows full of stain glass which would twinkle and cast colorful shadows as the light hit it just the right way. There was a huge library, a greenhouse, and every instrument ever made, from lands Julie had never heard of. The prize of the Hall was the concert room which had been specially designed to have the best acoustics possible. The Sherman's would tell any and all who visited that if you stood on side of the room, you could hear somebody drop a pin on the other side as if they were standing right next to you. Then to their guests' further astonishment, they would go on to prove their claim with an actual demonstration.
The one downside, was the Hall didn't keep up with all the innovations in technology like the rest of Hamelin and Corona had. The current mayor cited it'd be too expensive to build the needed infrastructure for electricity, water, and sewage all the way out to and up the hill for one building. If the Hall wanted modern conveniences so badly, then the Sherman's could use their family money to build it themselves. Being told that by the mayor didn't sit well with the Sherman's, especially the current head of the family, Julie's grandfather Richard. They saw it as something the city should provide for its citizens, not the other way around.
Julie didn't mind too much. While electricity and plumbing might have made things like doing laundry easier (after all, there were twenty people living in the Hall) what the Hall lacked was outweighed by what the Hall had—music and her family.
All that changed one terrible June night. It hadn't started out as terrible. Quite the contrary, it had started out as rather pleasant and magical. Julie's older brother, Alan, had convinced her to sneak out for the night to watch as a comet passed the earth. The comet only did so once every seventy-five years, and Alan didn't want to miss it—even if it meant being out pass curfew. With the Hall perched atop the hill, far from the twinkling multitude of lights down in Hamelin, it offered the perfect position to watch the show.
Alan was older than Julie by three years, and was her best friend in the whole world. She had a plethora of cousins, and friends that she went to school with in Hamelin, but Alan was the one she'd run to whenever she had a problem, or confided her secrets in. He may have been nearly an adult, but he never acted like she was a pain or a hassle, like some brothers did. She had seen her cousin Robert tease his little sister Kristen a few times, but Alan never acted that way towards her. He never belittled her, treating each worry and care as if it was a serious matter—including the time when she was eight and Robert had convinced her that her toys came alive when she wasn't around.
When Alan had asked her to join him that night, she had agreed without a second though. The stars were clear and crisp, sparkling above her head. She and Alan were lying down on a blanket looking up at the inky sky above them and waiting for the comet to arrive.
"Long ago it was believed that comets were bad omens, signs of death, disasters or political unrest," he had explained to her. "Now we know they're nothing more than icy rocks that are heated up by the sun causing their tail to appear in the sky."
"Wow," said Julie, her eyes busy scanning for the slightest sign of it. She did find the ancient beliefs interesting, but it was hard to dismiss them like Alan had when their family had magic, but she didn't want to hurt her brother's feelings.
Alan jolted up, suddenly. "Look there it is!" he said and pointed to where it was crossing the sky above them.
Julie followed it with her eyes until it disappeared from view; neither of the two siblings daring to say a word lest they somehow disturb the moment. "That sure was bright," Julie said at last, once the comet had past.
Her brother had silently nodded, before sniffing the air. Puzzled, Julie sniffed it too, and found that the lungful she had breathed in was full of smoke. Behind them the Hall was ablaze, glowing brightly against the night sky with such a ferocity that the comet's tail would have been ashamed.
Julie ran screaming to the Hall, but her brother stopped her and pulled her back in his arms. "If you were to go in now, you'd die."
"But Mom, and Dad…" she sobbed, and big fat tears rolled down her cheeks caused partly by the smoke, and partly by her heart breaking into two at the thought of losing her family.
Her brother shushed her. "By now, the whole town knows about the fire. The firetrucks should be arriving soon, and I'm sure that our family's getting out, we just can't see them yet. Come on, let's get away from the smoke." Alan led her away, and she managed to see tears welling up in his eyes and knew that they weren't caused by the smoke.
True to his word, the Hamelin fire department showed up soon after, along with the majority of the town. They didn't bring any good news with them. According to the head firefighter, their trucks didn't have enough water in them to fight the fire, and there were no hydrants nearby to use, and because the Hall was made out of wood and already completely engulfed, there was really no point in trying to fight the fire.
Alan argued with him, insisting that they had to try something, it was their job after all. Even with the entire town forming a bucket brigade, there was no saving the Hall. By morning, the once glorious building was nothing more than a smoldering tomb.
The mayor offered to take them in seeing as all of their relatives died in the fire. He promised a full investigation to find the source of the fire, but nothing conclusive could be proved.
In the meantime, Julie grieved. She grieved for her parents, Randy and Mary Sherman, her grandpa Richard, her Uncle Terry and Aunt Ilene, and even her cousins Robert and Kristen. There was her youngest cousin, Adriana who had just managed to learn her scales and had been so proud, Adriana's parents Uncle John, who could always make her laugh, and Aunt Sammy, who made the best pies. She grieved for the loss of the antique piano she had been taught to play, the Stradivarius that had been her birthday gift, the large drums that her Uncle Terry had brought back from Hawaii.
And they were all gone, lost forever in a fire. Maybe the ancients were on to something when they saw comets as harbingers of doom.
After a few days of grieving, the mayor's wife, a rather tall and thin woman who reminded Julie of a giraffe, pulled her aside and told her to stop it at once. "Tears are useless," she said in a nasally voice, "Here's a list of chores for you to do. My husband and I took you and your brother in out of the kindness of our hearts, it's the least you can do to repay us."
Julie took the list and set off to complete it. Sweep the floors, vacuum the carpets, wash the windows, change the sheets, clean the toilets. She did it all. She was just so numb from the loss of her family, she'd welcome any distraction. It didn't help that Alan wasn't around. The one person she was closest to in the world, and the only surviving member of her family, was always gone. He'd wake up before her and slip out, only to return after exhaustion had set in, no matter how late Julie tried to stay up.
The mayor's wife noticed her brother's absence and would constantly badger her about where her 'no-count-useless-lazy-good-for-nothing' brother was, and each time Julie would reply by saying she didn't know. The mayor's wife would then harrumph, and proceed to tell her that she was nothing more than some useless girl with a useless brother, and wouldn't she hear it when the mayor got home that evening. Once home, he too would berate her, along with the two children of the mayor and his wife who reminded Julie more of gumballs due to their large roundness rather than actual children.
It was June 26, the next time she had an actual conversation with her brother. It would also be her last. Julie had been out tending the garden of the house, when her brother came up the walk. He had to do a double take as he walked by her.
"Julie? Is that you?" he asked, and pulled her to her feet. "Look at you, they're working you worse than Cinderella."
"I don't mind," she said quietly, trying her best to wipe the dirt of her clothes. The similarity to Cinderella had never occurred to her, and now that Alan had pointed it out, she wanted to distance herself from the comparison. It wasn't working very well.
"Well you should, especially considering what else they've done to our family," he replied.
"At least they talk to me," muttered Julie, and turned her back on her brother, not feeling in the mood to chat.
Her brother was hurt by her words, but didn't give up. He pulled her by her arm. "I'm sorry for the way I've been acting, but I promise, I had a good reason."
Now that Julie was closer to her brother, she could see that whatever her brother had been busy off doing, it wasn't very healthy. He looked just as dirty and grungy as she did, and there were dark bags under his eyes. "Alan, what's going on?"
Mere moments ago his eyes had look tired and worn, but suddenly there was a spark to them, one that had never been there before, not even when their family was alive. "You know how the mayor has been going on for years about there not being enough to build out to the Hall? It was nothing by lies! The King and Queen of Auradon set up a special grant cities and towns could apply for to help modernize rural areas, and the mayor got one for the Hall. But instead of using it for the Hall, he pocketed it for himself."
"How—" but Julie was cut off before she could ask her question.
"And that's not all," he said vehemently, "the only reason he took us in was because all the Sherman family money went to us. As soon as the lawyers work out the details, he'll get control of it, in our name."
Julie could feel her blood start to boil. Her parents didn't have to die. Her family didn't have to die. The fire may have happened, but her family could have been saved if it hadn't been for greed.
Alan saw her expression, and a wide smile broke out across his face. "I know! That's why I've come up with a plan for revenge!"
The blood pounding in her ears started to lessen, with his words. Revenge? Alan had never been one for revenge before. "Come on Julie, don't give me that look. Because of the mayor, our family is dead, and surely you know how the story goes when two orphans have a rich and greedy caretaker."
That caused Julie to cease whatever lecture she had been about to launch into. She did know how those stories went, and they very rarely ended happily for the orphans. "What are you going to do Alan?"
He smiled at her enthusiasm. "Let's just say that Merlin failed to mention some things when he told old Frank what he could do."
A puzzled expression crossed Julie's face. Alan pulled out a pipe from his back pocket. Julie didn't know where he got it from, and didn't ask, instead she just watched as he pulled it out and started to play a familiar tune, one that the Corona Army used to signal for its soldiers to get in formation.
She had to suppress a shriek as something small and furry crawled over her left foot. A rat had crawled over her, and stopped at Alan's feet. It was soon joined by others, all coming to a stop at Alan's feet. They had their little heads in the air and tiny paws up and hunched over on their back paws. Julie wouldn't call them cute or adorable, by seeing them all in formation like little shoulders was a bit endearing.
The mood was broken when Alan's tune changed slightly, with a more upbeat tone. The rats started to march together, then just as quickly started to perform country jigs with one another. It would have been rather impressive feat if watched under other circumstances, but now was making Julie feel queasy. There was no way the rats had been trained to dance and line up, but had to be doing it against their will. Julie may have greatly disliked the creatures, but they didn't deserve this.
"Stop Alan," she cried, trying to pull the pipe away from her brother. He had several inches on her, and managed to hold her off though.
"Alright, calm down Julie, it was just a demonstration," he said. The second he stopped playing, the rats paused, and then went scattered back to the shadows they had come from.
"Demonstration for what?" demanded Julie, knowing she wouldn't like the answer, but curious just the same.
"This." Alan put the pipe to her his lips once more, and played. The military tune he played was the same, but it had a slower tempo, causing it to have a more dreamlike quality. Julie looked around to see what animals would appear suddenly, but instead only saw the gumball twins marching out the door of the mayor's wife. One was in mid-lick of a lollipop and the other had what appeared to be icing smeared across his face.
Alan took off down the street, with the gumball twins close behind him. Other children soon joined them. Kids riding bicycles changed directions suddenly to ride behind Alan. Children abandoned the toys they had been playing with, or whatever activity they had been in the middle of to follow Alan obediently. She even saw one baby crawling along behind him.
Julie waved her hand in front of one boy's face, one she knew from school, and he continued on right past her, pushing her to the side. She tried to tug on a girl's arm, and she just continued on, dragging Julie with her.
"Alan, what's going on?" she yelled, but he didn't answer her for he was too busy playing the pipe. Julie looked around for an adult to ask for help, but saw that they were all under a similar trance to that of the children. Instead of following in line behind Alan, they stood off to the side unable to move or offer Julie any assistance.
The children continued to follow Alan, and Julie had no choice but to do so as well. She followed him out of the cul-de-sac where the mayor lived, out onto Main Street. He walked past City Hall, the library, the ice cream parlor, and down in the direction of the Wesser waterfront.
A feeling of dread filled her as she realized what her brother was about to do. She picked up steam and made a move to snatch the pipe out of his hands, but one of the gumball twins got in her way and blocked her. Without missing a beat, Alan picked up the beat slightly, and Julie felt something rough grab her wrists.
Looking down she saw the branches of a nearby willow tree had acted as impromptu handcuffs. She pulled against her restraints, and dug her feet into the ground, but she couldn't get free.
"Stop Alan!" she screamed, choking back on tears and snot. He did stop, right in front of the pier. The children didn't though. They marched right onto it, and then right off of it and into the Wesser River. Julie couldn't take it, she closed her eyes and continued to scream for Alan to stop. She knew that he wouldn't but it drowned out the plopping sound as each child walked off of the pier and landed in the water.
Eventually she felt her restraints slacken. She fell to her knees, and finally opened her eyes. The children were gone, and Alan was standing before her.
"It had to be done, they had to pay. They took what was precious to us, so we took what was precious to them," he said flatly, not a trace of remorse in his voice.
Julie got up on her feet. "Not like this," she croaked out. "They had to pay, but not like this. And I thought you were just after the mayor, why involve the other children too?"
"Because their parents were just as involved as the mayor was!" he snarled at her. "The mayor gave the order for the fire department to take their time arriving to the Hall and to not try to put out the fire. He threatened to cut their budget, and they were too afraid to speak up to him. The only people who weren't afraid of the mayor was our family and they're dead now!"
Tears were streaming down Julie's face, and she wiped them away with her arm, no longer caring about the dirt on it. "And killing the children won't bring them back!" Julie pushed her brother away from her. "I don't know who you are, but you're not my brother anymore." For once, her words seemed to have some affect, because his eyes softened.
He blinked a few times at her and then looked down at the pipe in his hand. "What have I done?" he whispered so quietly, Julie could barely make out the words. He then clutched the pipe tightly in his right hand, and chucked it out into the river.
"Julie," he said and gripped her shoulders tightly.
"Let go of me," she cried, and started to squirm to get free out of his grasp, and tried to kick his shins. If she landed a blow, he didn't let it show.
He shook her, causing her to stop. "Julie, listen to me. I need you to run. Run far from Hamelin and don't get caught. You hear me, don't get caught."
Julie's eyes widened, but then understanding dawned on her. All of the children in the village were dead, called away from their parents by magical music. She'd be lucky if she and her brother were only sent away to the Isle of the Lost.
She nodded, letting him know she understand. "And what about you?"
"Don't away about me, I promise I'll be free. Now run."
Not knowing whether or not she wanted her brother to be caught or not, Julie took off running. She ran down the street, over the Wesser River Bridge, and out into the woods. She didn't stop until she had a stitch in her side and rested for several hours before continuing on.
She didn't know where she was going, just that it had to be away from Hamelin. One night she snuck into a barn to sleep, and found a day-old newspaper that had been tossed aside. Reading it she discovered that her brother had a different definition of freedom than she did. He, along with the bodies of 130 children had been pulled from the river. Julie was listed as a suspect who was considered 'extremely dangerous and should be approached with caution'.
Not wanting to stick around to tell her tale, Julie continued on in the woods. She lived off of berries she managed to find that she knew were safe to eat because of what Alan had once taught her. She avoided strange noises and growls, going in the opposite direction.
While it couldn't be called much of an existence, it did become her new normal. Concentrating on living through the next day without getting caught proved to be useful distraction from the pain and grief over her brother's actions and his loss. She didn't agree with what he had done, she abhorred it, but she took consolation that he seemed to regret what he did at the end. He just took the grief over their family's death out on the wrong people.
June turned into July, which turned into August, and August was quickly on the way out. Julie continued on, eventually reaching a fork in the dirt road she was following. It had once been used as a foot path between towns, but had fallen into disrepair when the highways had been built. They were wider than the dirt paths that dotted the woods and towns.
Julie choose to go left, but found that there was a prickly bush not far down it she had missed somehow in the dark. She backtracked, and went down the right path only to find another obstacle blocking her.
It was a man, a rather old one from the look of him. He had a pocket watch in his hand, and looked down at it and then to her. "Right on time," he said, closely it with a loud snap. "Now we can't have you arriving to dinner like that."
Julie was so in shock at seeing a person for the first time in weeks—no, months—she could only stand there frozen like a deer in headlights. And he was talking about inviting her to dinner. Was he going to eat her? Was he some crazy old man who lived in the woods, waiting for unsuspecting people to come along and cook them?
He then waved a stick at her and mumbled some nonsense words that she couldn't make out. She felt the dirt and grime covering her disappear as if she had just had a bath. The scrapes on her arms healed and vanished as well, and her ragged clothes returned to the pristine condition they had been in when the mayor's wife had bought them before she gave them to Julie. She ran her fingers through her hair, found that it was soft, and smooth, no twigs or leaves to be felt anywhere.
She suddenly looked at the old man in a new light. Long beard, wooden wand… Her hand flew up to her mouth as she gasped, "Merlin!"
"The one and only, at your service," he said, and tipped his hat in her direction. "That spell will last you until after dinner, at which point you'll have to bathe and get a new set of clothes that Maddie's prepared for you."
Julie continued to stare at him in shock. Should she run? Could she manage to run before he caught her? Then again, he had just performed magic on her that was most definitely not meant to capture a person, so why did he do that if he just planned to send her to the Isle? Unless his plan was to leave her speechless, in which case it was working.
"Ah, I see you have many questions, and I have some of my own. Why don't we answer them on the way back to the cottage?" He held out his arm to her, and she found herself taking it without meaning to.
What had she just got herself into?
Dinner was over, and Maddie had shooed the dishes over to the sink where they were currently replicating an assembly line in an effort to be washed. Dinner had been a rather silent matter once Merlin arrived with the fifth guest who only said her first name and was silent for the rest of the dinner. The boys followed her example, and Maddie wasn't going to be the first to break the awkward silence beyond the occasional mumble of "Pass the bread," or "Hand me the salt". The sun had long since set, leaving the cottage to be lit up by bewitched globes floating throughout the place, created by a spell of Merlin's that Maddie had come across long ago.
It wasn't much of a surprise when it was Merlin who spoke the first actual conversation of the group. "I'd like to welcome our newest members to Discipline Cottage." Seeing the shocked and outraged looks on three faces, he turned to Maddie and asked, "Didn't you tell them?"
"Must have slipped my mind," she replied with an innocent smile on her face.
Merlin sighed, but proceeded to explain. "It's the sort of discipline you're no doubt thinking of. Discipline as in the meaning of structure, training, and commitment, not in the sense of punishment." The panicked and stricken looks were quickly replaced with those of relief, along with curiosity. Seeing that he had their attention, he continued on with his planned speech. "Some of you here need discipline in order to control your magic," he said, looking mainly at Miguel and the fifth guest, Julie. "And some of you need discipline in controlling yourself and knowing when you to use magic," he said, this time fixing Jack with a look.
Realizing what was going on, Jack crossed his arms and jerked his head in Maddie's direction. "And what about her?"
"Maddie has already learned both of those lessons." Maddie gave Jack a smug look. "However," added Merlin, "she needs discipline to remember them, and will help the three of you learn discipline when I'm not around and unable to do so. Now what do you say to a tour of Discipline?"
I have been away from fanfiction for a long time, and have actually been trying to work on original stories. Then I saw Descendants, and was left with so many questions. How did a world that was so medieval, get caught up to our world's technology in twenty years? Ben indicated that nobody used magic anymore, but what if people still did? Surely giving up on magic couldn't have gone down well with Elsa, who had spent the majority of her life learning the 'Conceal, Don't Feel, Don't Let it Show' mantra was wrong, only to be told to do it all over again. Do all the Disney movies exist in the universe? If so, how does that work? Why does nobody freak out about randomly bursting out into song and dancing?
Naturally I turned to fanfiction for answers, but found the majority of fics fell into one of three categories: fics that were sequels to the main characters, fics that introduced a new round of villain kids (usually SYOC), and fics that introduced a fifth member to the main four. There's nothing wrong with those fics, and some are really good- but none answered the questions swimming around in my head. So then my brain did the next best thing- come up with its own answers and this story is the result.
I have not read the book, so this fic is based on the movie. The four main characters are OCs, all with ties to canon Disney characters. I realize that Julie has the darkest background out of all of them, but Disney does have some downer beginnings, and the Pied Piper of Hamelin is not a happy story. Disney tried to make it into one, and got Home on the Range as a result.
For those interested in Carlos, Mal, Evie, and Jay, they will show up in later chapters, as side characters though. Timeline wise, the first part of the story takes place before the movie, and the last part will take place after the movie.
Besides the Disney references, which there are a lot of (including the title and Julie's family), there's also references to other fantasy series. I realize Merlin might seem OC by refusing to adapt to the times, but at the end of Sword of the Stone, he did say that the modern world was a mess and could keep their technology. I also think he's the sort who doesn't like being told what to do by others- so tell him not to practice magic any more, and that's all he wants to do. At this point in his life Archimedes has long since passed, and he never had the heart to replace him (though if you asked, he'd just insist he didn't want another bothersome bird about the place).
Next chapter will have the main four exploring Avalon, and starting class. I hope to have it up soon, since I want to complete this story so I can return to my original ones. Reviews and alerts will definitely encourage me to update faster, especially if all the chapters are going to be this long and pain to write.
Till next time, read, enjoy and review.