Superfail! (aliaspiral) wrote,

Yuletide Fic: Sticks and Stones (Diane Duane - Young Wizards)

Title: Sticks and Stones
Author: alianora
Fandom: Diane Duane - Young Wizard series
Written for: Kara (magelette) in the Yuletide 2006 Challenge

This was VERY difficult to write, as Kara is my normal beta! I was thrilled to get someone I knew so well, and so many fandoms I could write, but it definitely made the final revisions more challanging! Hope it's up to the prompt.

Nita smiled in satisfaction as the spell snapped into place around her.

It was a new one, something she had been working on without Kit's help for a while.

Kit had been working on something at his house for about two weeks, and his attention had been mostly taken up with trying to figure out a new way to keep Ponch from eating his mom's plants.

She had tried to help, but her brain started to go numb after an hour of conversation with Ponch. There were only so many times you could get halfway through patiently explaining that there were some things it was bad to eat, only to be interrupted by your conversation partner tearing off after a squirrel before you started to want to eat a few poisonous plants yourself.

You would think that a dog who can create entirely new worlds, whole worlds full of plants that he can eat wouldn't feel the need to destroy peace lilies whenever he found them in his house. Or the porch. Or the yard.

But he did. And Kit's mother was no longer coherent about it. She just degenerated into muttered Spanish and snarled threats while Ponch hid under Kit's bed and whined.

Nita had tried to help. But after Ponch ate one of the major spell components when she absently threw it for him to chase, Kit had "suggested" she go find Dari and learn to speak to suns. Or maybe throw herself in one, it was hard to tell through the barking and the snarled Spanish from the house.

So, instead, Nita was working independently for a while. She had poked at some project she and Kit had been fiddling with for a while, but quickly got bored. She wandered over to Tom and Carl's one morning, and they had suggested she spend some time refining a few of the more complicated spells involving trees.

"We already know your strength is in working with plant life," Carl had said at breakfast, syrup dripping down his knife. "Let's see if you have any aptitude for actual spell development."

"Try looking into uses with rowan wood," Tom suggested, tossing Carl a napkin. "You have a relationship with the one in your yard, and she might actually be willing to share some tree lore the rest of us haven't heard."

They spent the morning loading up her manual with tons of information on rowan trees and Nita found herself to be very grateful that her manual could lighten itself. Otherwise, getting home might have been much more interesting.

She spent most of that night skimming the beginnings of how spells are created, and how some of them become "standard" for all wizards.

She found most of the information on why wizards used specific tools very interesting, and ended up spending the better part of two weeks researching rowan versus ash in basic locator spells.

Dari had stared at her at dinner that night when Nita tried to explain how cool it all was.

"You are," Dari had announced thoughtfully, "hideously boring." Nita's little sister twirled her fork in her fingers. "Might as well research into why Spot just fell asleep halfway through your explanation."

"Be nice to your sister, Dari. And get your computer off the table." Her father frowned disapprovingly before turning to smile at Nita. "I only understand part of what you said, but if you need any plant material I can help with, let me know."

The next day, she poked through his shop, taking a look at plant stems and babies' breath and other things that might be useful, only they had nothing to do with anything she was currently researching.

She did slip a handful of rose petals into her pocket for later, though. You never know when you might need to walk on water.

She ended up at Tom and Carl's most nights for dinner after that. They seemed interested, at least. And the koi were always good for advice when she got stuck on a research angle. So long as you didn't mind your advice in cryptic haiku form.

Her mornings were spent curled up on Liused's roots, listening to the history of the trees. Often, she completely forgot she was supposed to be taking notes, so caught up in the stories of famous trees, and the Battle, that she would find her hand cramping from holding her pen so tightly.

It was a difficult time, after the Battle. Liused's leaves rustled slightly, though there was no wind. The trees had won, but it was hard. Your kind began to appear, and we were cut down and sacrificed in droves to give humans land.

"I wish people wouldn't," Nita whispered, resting one hand on the warm solid trunk of her friend.

Liused's branches waved in soft laughter. Where would you live, then? Without us?

Nita wasn't actually sure she was actually getting anywhere with the research aspect.

But, after several weeks of falling asleep on her manual, and having really weird dreams of sheep jumping through rowan wood hoops, or wearing crosses tied with red string, Nita finally decided to try altering one of the simplest spells she knows.

She only changed one little thing, really.

A basic "point me" spell - using a small wooden square instead of a cross. The thread was the same, the normal color and type - even the Speech barely had to be altered to adapt to the new shape.

It blew up in her face.

Unfortunately, Dairine was home, and about wet her pants laughing.

"" Dari fell over onto the back step, holding onto her stomach. "Who cares about the stupid shape, anyway? It works because it works!"

"For someone who owns a computer that suddenly predicts the future in rhyme, you have little concern for the hows or whys," Nita told her sister sourly, picking splinters out of her hair.

Dari shrugged, still fighting off the giggles. "Spot is Spot."

"Oh, that's deep."

"So's your face."

The second attempt went a little better. Of course, it still didn't work, but at least it didn't blow up. Nita spoke to Luised and then to Carl and Tom, and tried altering the knots tied in the string.

She and Kit spoke every night, especially because he was getting increasingly more frustrated with his inability to protect his mother's plants from the destructive force that was Ponch the wonder dog.

"I've tried everything," he groaned, flopping back onto the floor in front of the television. "And I think Ponch has figured out how to bring squirrels back from the world he creates for them. Suddenly our house is covered in them."

"Your mother is going to kill you," Nita mused. "I wonder if Ponch just likes the taste?"

"I don't think so," Kit answered glumly. "Most of the time he just rips them to pieces."

Nita paused, spoon of ice cream halfway to her mouth. "You know, this is a much less exciting summer than any other time we've spent as wizards."

"The universe finally decided we deserved a break."

"Is this how it's going to be, most days?" Nita licked at her spoon. "Is this how Tom and Carl feel when the Lone Power isn't trying to destroy the solar system?"

"What?" Kit craned his head around to squint at her in confusion. "Bored and stumped by things that should be easy compared to all the other stuff we've done?"

"I guess," Nita said slowly. "It's this what life for wizards is supposed to be? Dealing with the little things?"

They sat in silence for a moment, ice cream slowly dripping down Nita's arm.

"Or maybe," Kit said slowly, "we're getting too old to be as heavily involved in the big things."

Nita smiled suddenly. "I think I could get used to dealing with more minor emergencies than the end of the world."

"You and me both."

"You just don't want your mother to kill you."

"Yeah, yeah. Details."

Tags: yuletide

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