There's an old trick that involves pulling a coin from behind a child's ear. Of course, it's merely slight of hand. Such simple tricks are used by uncles around the world to impress their little nieces and nephews. For a short time, the child is amused, perhaps even amazed, but once they learn there is no real magic involved, it ceases to be entertaining. Once they know how it's done, the glamour is forever lost, the illusion shattered.

Gemma Masters doesn't know what it's like to lose that faerie tale perfect image of her uncle. She never got bored with the tricks he did when her parents weren't looking. No-one else did magic for Gemma and so she figured that her Uncle John was special. Once he'd made real tea appear in the new china tea set he'd bought her, a toy far too nice for a child far too young to appreciate it. The doll she'd lost had turned up during a visit from Uncle John. He'd handed it to her after she'd told him it was gone, and surely she couldn't have imagined that his hands had been empty the moment before. She remembers playing board games with him one rainy afternoon. It had been fun watching the pieces move on their own without anyone touching them.

Gemma never figured out how he'd made the rose bush in the park blossom in the middle of a frosty winter just so she could have a rose.

As she got older, the magic tricks became fewer in number and eventually they stopped altogether. Sometimes she wonders if she imagined it all, but she knows she didn't.

She knows John blames himself for her interest in magic. She wants to tell him it's all right, that she would have taken it up anyway, but she wonders if that's true.

She keeps the winter-blossomed rose pressed in a book of spells.