Home > Time's Convert (All Souls Trilogy)(11)

Time's Convert (All Souls Trilogy)(11)
Author: Deborah Harkness

“Finds out what?” Matthew was in the doorway, bright-eyed and relaxed from repairing the copper gutters over the kitchen door. He smiled at Becca, who was blowing him kisses. “Hello, my darling.”

“I think Philip just worked—or wove—his first spell,” I explained. “He tried to smooth out Marcus’s memories so they wouldn’t bother him.”

“My memories?” Marcus frowned. “And what do you mean Philip wove a spell? He can’t even talk in complete sentences.”

“Owie,” Philip explained to Matthew with a tiny, shuddering sob. “All better.”

Shock registered on Matthew’s face.

“Shit,” Becca said as she noticed her father’s change of expression. Philip took this as confirmation of the gravity of the situation, and his fragile composure disintegrated once more in a flood of tears.

“But that means—” Marcus looked from Becca to Philip in alarm and then in amazement.

“I owe Chris fifty dollars,” I said. “He was right, Matthew. The twins are weavers.”

* * *

“WHAT ARE YOU GOING to do about this?” Matthew demanded.

We had retreated—Matthew and I and the twins—to the suite of rooms we used as a bedroom, bathroom, and private family sitting room. A medieval castle did not lend itself to a feeling of coziness, but these apartments were as warm and comforting as we could make them. The large main room was divided into several different areas: one was dominated by our seventeenth-century canopied bed; another had deep chairs and sofas for lounging by the fire; a third was equipped with a writing desk, where Matthew could get a bit of work done while I slept. Small rooms to the left and right had been repurposed to make walk-in closets and a bathroom. Heavy, electrified iron chandeliers dropped from the arched ceiling, which helped keep the rooms from feeling cavernous on dark winter nights. Tall windows, some of them still glazed with medieval painted glass, let in the summer sun.

“I don’t know, Matthew. I left my crystal ball in New Haven,” I retorted. The situation in the library had thrown me for a loop. I was attributing my slow response to the stoppage of time rather than to blinding panic.

I closed the bedroom door. The wood was stout and there were many thick stone walls between us and the rest of the household. Still, I switched on the music system to provide an extra buffer against acute vampire hearing.

“And what will we do about Rebecca, when she shows signs of having magical talent?” Matthew continued, driving his fingers through his hair in frustration.

“If she shows signs,” I said.

“When,” Matthew insisted.

“What do you think we should do?” I turned the tables on my husband.

“You’re the witch!” Matthew said.

“Oh. So it’s my fault!” I put my hands on my hips, furious. “So much for their being your children.”

“That’s not what I said.” Matthew ground his teeth together. “They need their mother to set an example for them, that’s all.”

“You can’t be serious.” I was aghast. “They’re too young to learn magic.”

“But not too young to work it, apparently. We aren’t going to hide who we are from the children, remember?” Matthew said. “I’m keeping my end of the bargain. I’ve taken the children hunting. They’ve watched me feed.”

“The children are too young to understand what magic is,” I said. “When I saw my mother cast a spell, it was terrifying.”

“And that’s why you haven’t been working your own magic as much.” Matthew drew in a deep breath, understanding at last. “You’re trying to protect Rebecca and Philip.”

As a matter of fact, I had been doing magic—just not where or when anyone else could witness it. I did it alone, under the dark of the moon, away from curious, impressionable eyes, when Matthew thought I was working.

“You haven’t been yourself, Diana,” Matthew continued. “We all feel it.”

“I don’t want Becca and Philip to end up in a situation they can’t control.” Nightmare visions of all the trouble it might cause washed through me—the fires they might start, the chaos that could be unleashed, the possibility that they would lose their way in time and I wouldn’t be able to find them. My anxieties about the children, which had been on a low simmer, boiled over.

“The children need to know you as a witch as well as a mother,” Matthew said, his tone gentling. “It’s part of who you are. It’s part of who they are, too.”

“I know,” I said. “I just didn’t expect Philip or Becca to show an inclination for magic so soon.”

“So what made Philip try to fix Marcus’s memories?” Matthew asked.

“Marcus told me where he was born. And when,” I replied. “Ever since he went after Phoebe, he’s been surrounded by a thick cloud of remembrance. Time is caught up in it, and it’s stretching the world out of shape. It’s impossible not to notice, if you’re a weaver.”

“I’m no weaver, nor am I a physicist, but it doesn’t seem possible that one person’s individual recollections could have such a serious effect on the space-time continuum,” Matthew said, sounding positively professorial.

“Really?” I marched up to him, grabbed a particularly iridescent strand of green memory that had been hanging off him for days, and gave it a good yank. “What do you think now?”

Matthew’s eyes widened as I pulled the thread tighter.

“I have no idea what happened, or when, but this has been flapping around you for days. And it’s beginning to bug me.” I released the strand. “So don’t you dare throw physics in my face. Science isn’t the answer to everything.”

Matthew’s mouth twitched.

“I know, I know. Go ahead. Laugh. Don’t think the irony is lost on me.” I sat down and sighed. “What was bothering you, by the way?”

“I was wondering whatever happened to a horse I lost at the Battle of Bosworth,” Matthew said pensively.

“A horse? That’s it?” I threw my hands up in utter exasperation. Given how bright the strand was, I’d been expecting a guilty secret or a former lover. “Well, don’t let Philip catch you worrying about it, or you’ll find yourself in 1485 extricating yourself from a thornbush.”

“It was a very fine horse,” Matthew said by way of explanation, sitting on the arm of my chair. “And I wasn’t laughing at you, mon coeur. I was just amused at how far we’ve come since the days when I believed I hated witches, and you thought you hated magic.”

“Life was simpler then,” I said, though at the time it had seemed quite complicated.

“And far less interesting, too.” Matthew kissed me. “Perhaps you shouldn’t stir up Marcus’s emotions any further until after he and Phoebe are back together. Not all vampires want to revisit their past lives.”

“Maybe not consciously, but there’s clearly something troubling him,” I replied, “something unresolved.” Whatever was bothering Marcus might have happened long ago, but it still had him tied in knots.

“A vampire’s memories aren’t arranged in a rational timeline,” Matthew explained. “They’re a jumbled mess—a magpie assortment of happy and sad, bright and dark. You might not be able to isolate the cause of Marcus’s unhappiness, never mind make sense of it.”

“I’m a historian, Matthew,” I said. “I make sense out of the past every day.”

“And Philip?” Matthew asked, one eyebrow raised.

“I’ll call Sarah,” I said. “She and Agatha are in Provence. I’m sure she’ll have some advice on how to raise witches.”

* * *

WE HAD SUPPER UP ON the roof deck so that we could enjoy the fine weather. I had demolished Marthe’s roasted chicken served with vegetables picked fresh from the garden—tender lettuce, peppery radishes, and the sweetest carrots imaginable—while Matthew opened a second bottle of wine to see him and Marcus through the rest of the evening. We withdrew from the old dining table to the chairs arranged around a cauldron full of logs. Once the fire was lit, the wood sent sparks and light shooting into the sky. Les Revenants became a beacon in the darkness, visible for miles.

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