‘I don’t like it, Aether. I don’t like it at all.’
Valorie floated with some difficulty over the head of the government official. She pulled a face – although Charley probably couldn’t tell. She kept forgetting she had no real physical presence. She could still feel everything there – elbows, legs, arms, head. She didn’t feel much like a wisp of vapour.
Charley folded his arms.
‘Why aren’t you happy? I’m just trying to teach.’
‘You know how the Government feels about your teaching.’
‘I don’t see what’s wrong with bringing another Wizard into the world. I mean, Wizards aren’t BAD PEOPLE, are they?’
The official squirmed, unsure how to answer. Valorie smiled.
‘That’s hardly the point, Mr Aether. You could get into serious trouble for this. Do you realise how much danger you’re in?’
‘You know about the Wizard Hate groups. If word got out you could get attacked and seriously injured. That’s the real reason the Government are, er, concerned.’
‘Well, Mr O’Hanlon, I’m quite proud to be a Wizard, no matter what your stuffy Mortal Parliament thinks. Don’t worry about me.’
O’Hanlon stepped forward. ‘And that’s another thing. This divide between the Wizards and the Mortals, as you call them – it’s not good. This is supposed to be a democratic society, and it can’t work if a certain group of people claim superiority!’
Charley folded his arms. He looked slightly peeved.
‘I see. So now you think we consider ourselves better than you.’
‘Aether, you are one of the most highly respected Wizards in the country. All we ask is that you keep your abilities under wraps for a little while… we all have to live together, you know… and -’
O’Hanlon made a small ‘choo’ noise as he stifled a sneeze. Valorie found it faintly annoying when people did that – like they were trying not to sneeze too loudly or something.
Charley sighed. ‘If our people are being treated badly, it’s not up to us to change, O’Hanlon. It’s the Mortals.’
‘That could take too long. There will always be with different opinions about – well, your race.’
Valorie suddenly felt unsteady. She concentrated, and righted herself, just in time to see Charley step towards the Mortal.
‘Thank you for inviting yourself round, O’Hanlon. You can leave now.’
‘Aether, be honest, are you going to consider this at all?’
‘I’ll think about it,’ Charley said witheringly. ‘Goodbye.’ Charley showed him to the door.
Just then, Valorie wobbled in the air, lost focus and fell to the ground again. She landed back in her body, outside the door where she had left it. She was back in time to meet O’Hanlon as he walked out.
‘What are you still doing here?’ he asked.
Valorie thought. ‘I was, er, tying my shoelace.’
He glanced down at Valorie’s shoes. ‘They’re not undone.’
‘I know. I’ve just tied them. Like I said.’
O’Hanlon gave her a very hard stare, then grumbled something and walked off down the corridor. Valorie waited until he was out of sight, then re-entered Charley’s living room.
‘Honestly, these people,’ Charley sighed, pacing. ‘It’s all this political correctness. I’m sick of it.’
Valorie nodded. ‘Can’t you just refuse to let him in?’
‘I wish I could, but it doesn’t really work like that.’
Valorie looked around the room again. No matter how many times she visited this room, there was always something she hadn’t spotted last time. She was looking now at a large purple-tint jar with little lights dancing around on the inside.
‘What are those?’ she asked, pointing.
‘Hmm? Oh, those. They’re fireflies. These ones are from the sub-family Cyphonocerinae. See how their abdomens are glowing? That’s something called bioluminescence.’
‘Wow. What do you have fireflies for?’
‘I like fireflies.’
Valorie watched the fireflies in the jar flicker and dance for a few minutes, then said 'And what are these ones?'
'Those are pyralidae or snout moths. One of the sub-families, I forget which.'
Valorie straightened. ‘This has been really interesting, but I have to go.’
‘OK. See you tomorrow, Valorie.’
‘Bye.’ And she left.