‘Are you awake?’ Ms Watersmoke ever so slightly pushed open the door to Lara’s room.
‘No.’ Said Lara.
‘Be serious now, Lara. I need to ask you something important. Talulah sat down on the chair by Lara’s bed.
‘Oh.’ Lara pulled the covers away from her face. She was starting to get a little scared.
‘Have you told Felix about, you know…’
‘That I’m a witch?’
Talulah stopped breathing for a second. She then regained herself.
‘But- no one else. It’s ok- because he is too-‘ Lara stopped and put a hand over her mouth. It was meant to be a sworn secret. But her mother seemed safe.
‘I’m sorry, I still don’t want you speaking to him.’
‘Did you go to sleep in your coat? Did you go out again?’
‘He wasn’t there.’
‘Good. Now sleep, and stop these silly arrangements.’ Ms Watersmoke left the room. Lara pulled the covers over her face again, trying to forget what happened.
The next morning, Lara was woken by Mariel, one of her older sisters, pushing her door open.
‘You’ve overslept a lot. What have you been doing, staying up all night?’
Not far from the truth, Lara thought. And for no reason either.
‘School’s finished, I don’t have to get up early anymore.’
‘You still need to wake up at a reasonable time.’ Mariel adjusted her glasses. She was eleven years old, like Felix, but much shorter. She had apparently resembled their father a lot, but Lara didn’t know if this was right or not. She never saw him properly. ‘Get dressed and go downstairs, I’m bored and Sylvia’s too asleep to wake up!’
Lara put on her deep purple winter dress, (the weather really was atrocious) and sturdy shoes, and trudged downstairs. Mariel, however, was more focused on the letter she had found on the doormat.
‘It’s from dad,’ she said, putting it into her skirt’s pocket. ‘Anyway, do you want breakfast?
Lara changed a lot in next five years.
Felix remained her friend, though contact between them became sparse and much more secret and eventually died out. School became more important and slightly terrifying. She became desperately lonely, but tended to shut herself away. Her magic really should have needed training, but she didn’t have it, so she stopped completely. Even sometimes forgot she had anything different. Lara barely remembered the Singing Cat incident. Sylvia had turned eighteen and moved out while Mariel had exams and never had time to talk. And the cold weather became intense and never ending.
Even though she was safer now, she was inexplicably miserable. On autumn evening when her mother was working late, she was wrapped in a woollen blanket in the middle of her bedroom floor, staring at the candle slowly melt away over the candle stick. It was comforting when outside it was so cold it made your bones hurt.
Lara was so lost in the candle’s flame she almost died of fright when she heard the floorboards creak and a knock on the door. She regained herself, sat up and muttered ‘Come in.’
Mariel pushed the door open. ‘Someone’s here to see you.’
‘Has Sylvia come back?’
Mariel shook her head. ‘She’s coming over for the new year.
‘Oh, of course.’ Lara shrugged the blanket off. Underneath she wore the warmest gown she had with an extra petticoat. ‘Who is it then?’
Mariel whispered. ‘It’s Felix. He wants to take you to the singing cat.’ Then closed the door again.