‘This isn’t necessarily bad news,’ Charley said, pacing around once again. ‘We know that the man we need is your father. That is a fantastic coincidence. We’ve been very lucky when you think about it.’
‘I can’t ask him to do it,’ Valorie said, her head in her hands. ‘I’d have to tell him that I’m a Wizard. I’d have to tell him all about the group, and you, and Eddie… God!’
Valorie smashed a fist on the desk.
‘Hey!’ Charley exclaimed.
‘Why does it have to be my Dad? Why can’t it be someone else?’
Eddie moved over to Valorie and put a hand on her shoulder.
‘I’m sure your father would be happy to help if he knew the truth.’
‘That’s not it,’ Valorie sniffed. ‘Do you know how angry my mum was when she found out my Dad was one of us? They argued for days… how do you think she’ll feel about us plotting to overthrow the government or something?’
‘And then there’s my dad. He’s going to be all ‘I can’t believe you’ve been seeing this Charley person behind my back, he’s a grown man and you’re only fourteen, you can’t trust strangers like that’. I’ll never get a session again.’ She hung her head over the desk.
Charley was finding all this a bit difficult to deal with. He turned and became very interested in the pattern on the curtains.
Eddie patted Valorie’s shoulder.
‘Come here, let me give you a hug.’
Valorie obediently stood up and let Eddie hug her.
‘Never mind, Val. It’s OK. We’ll all go down and tell him together. OK? It’s going to be alright, don’t worry about it.’
‘Yes,’ Charley muttered from the window.
Valorie wriggled out of the hug and looked Eddie in the face. ‘Really? You don’t mind do you?’
‘Of course not,’ Charley said. ‘I wish you weren’t being so neurotic about the whole thing, but I suppose…’ Charley walked through, grabbed his coat from the coat rack. ‘Let’s go.’
Eddie, her hand still on Valorie’s shoulder, led her out the door. Valorie shrugged the hand off, took the jumper that had been tied around her waist, and put it on. It was getting cold outside.
‘I just don’t understand teenage girls sometimes,’ Charley said grumpily. ‘Everything’s such a big deal. Maybe it’s all that television, or hormones or something. Eddie, you were a teenager once, help me out.’
Eddie frowned, and Charley walked about a foot in front of them. He turned a corner, and then stopped so abruptly that they nearly walked into him.
Ahead of them stood O’Hanlon, smiling.
‘Hello, Aether,’ he smirked.
Charley looked down at his feet and carried on walking. Eddie and Valorie exchanged looks, and then followed briskly.
‘So, how is your Wizard community banding together?’ O’Hanlon enquired.
Charley barged right past him.
‘Aether, I asked you a question. I said, have you stopped practicing magic tricks long enough to get this family reunion together?’
Charley sped up. So did Valorie and Eddie.
‘Don’t make me angry, O’Hanlon.’
‘You haven’t got a chance of stopping this Watch list, and you know it,’ the Official sneered, walking alongside Charley. ‘Before you know it, we’ll have passed even more laws. Your kind will be prohibited from practicing magic in the presence of others. Your people will be inferior, lower than the rats that crawl in our streets!’
Charley swung round fast, his eyes on fire, and shot out his hands. Valorie stared as a ball of brilliant light built up in Charley’s palms.
O’Hanlon froze. Eddie pulled Valorie down into a crouch, and put her hands over her eyes.
There was a flash, and then a scream.
Valorie tugged Eddie’s hands away.
Charley stood over Arthur O’Hanlon, who was rolling around on the pavement. He screamed and clutched his eyes.
Eddie stood up. ‘Charley,’ she said in disbelief. ‘What have you done?’
Charley, still staring at the pain-stricken man at his feet, merely said, ‘I’ve sort of blinded him.’
‘What?’ Valorie cried. ‘You’ve blinded him?’
‘Not permanently,’ Charley said. ‘I wasn’t really concentrating.’
‘Come on Charley, we have to go.’
Charley looked at her blankly.
‘What? What do you mean why?’
‘This was a set up. He was trying to make you attack him!’ Eddie gesticulated wildly. ‘They’ll be coming for you any minute, come ON!’
Charley didn’t move.
‘Valorie, let’s go,’ Eddie said despairingly, tugging at her arm.
Valorie reluctantly obeyed, jumped into the car. As Eddie drove away, she glanced out the window. Charley stood over his victim, and then walked away, past the houses into the trees.