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Much Ado About Magic


Page 63




"Are you okay?" I asked. "I've been worried sick about you."
"I haven't had the best day ever, if that's what you mean. But I'll have my existential crisis later."
I gestured at the pile of books. "If this isn't an existential crisis, what do you call it?"
"Fact finding. Before I collapsed in despair, I thought I ought to get to the bottom of things. First, is it true?"
I leaned against the edge of the desk and crossed my arms over my chest. "Is it?"
"Well, since I don't have a handy home DNA test kit or samples from my alleged parents, I can't say with absolute certainty, but the dates do work out. The Morgans died very soon after I was born, so of course I don't remember them." He pointed to a couple of photos in the book on his desk, which looked like an old club membership directory. "There is some resemblance, I guess. I hadn't ever seen a picture of the Morgans before. For all the disruption they caused, they don't get a lot of play in the histories. I'm lucky I bought this old university magical society annual for one of the articles in it, so I have these pictures.

"
I had to squint and peer closely at the tiny photos. Owen apparently got his looks from his mother. She was strikingly beautiful and dark-haired. His father had a vague, absent-minded genius look about him, and his eyes were similar to Owen's, but I couldn't tell their color in the black-and-white photo. "I suppose if someone merged these two, they might get you," I said.
"The next question is who knew? Was I just some orphaned kid with magical powers, and whoever's behind Idris managed to unearth the truth, or have they known all along behind the scenes while keeping it a secret, even from me?"
I squirmed uncomfortably, then said, "Rod said-" I broke off, unsure if I should share what Rod had told me, but then I decided that there'd been enough secrets. "Rod said that when you were kids, James and Gloria told him to keep an eye on you. He thought it was because you were so little and needed someone to look after you, but now he's wondering."
I wasn't sure how he'd react to that bit of news, but he took it calmly enough, just nodding. "Yeah, I remember that. But I was so little that I was bully bait and I didn't have good control over my power yet.
That's a dangerous combination, so having a bigger kid stick with me made sense. On the other hand, I often felt like a prisoner on parole with James and Gloria, so maybe I was." He gave a bitter laugh that was the first sign he wasn't as okay as he was trying to act. I caught his hand in mine and gave it a squeeze, noticing as I did so that he was trembling. "I do wonder who knew."
"And how did Idris know?" I asked. "Then there's the part where they're trying to make it look like you were following in your parents' footsteps and doing all of this negative magical stuff."
"I missed that. I was already out of there."
"I don't blame you."
His grip tightened on my hand as he ran his other hand through his hair.
"So, now what do I do?" he asked.
"I think we need a plan."
"A plan? For what?"
"Well, first, we need to definitively answer your questions: Is it true, who knew, and how did Idris find out? Then we have to clear your name-not because of your identity, since it's not like you can help who your parents were and you never even knew them. If you had evil in your genes, surely it would have manifested by now. But we do need to clear you of these accusations about causing magical trouble, and to do that, I think we'll need proof of who really is doing it."
"So, we're right back to where we were." His lips twitched, and it looked like he was on the verge of breaking down in laughter. "Only this time, it's personal." He said it dramatically, like an announcer in a movie trailer.
"Okay, before you go into hysterics on me, what do you need me to do?"
He pulled himself together with a visible effort, then frowned. "I don't think I'll have much freedom of movement for a while. It's safer if I stay here until I know what's going on. That makes it harder for them to accuse me of any future incidents. But you could do some fact-finding at the office. Talk to the boss and see if he'll be honest with you about what he knows, find out who made the decisions and why."
"I'll see what I can do. Maybe you should call James and Gloria. They may know something."







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