Words from books...(23)

It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.

Aunt Sarah had always told me that magic was a gift. If it was, it had strings attached that bound me to all the Bishop witches who had come before me. There was a price to be paid for using this inherited magical power and for working the spells and charms that made up the witches’ carefully guarded craft.

The only creatures in the world that Sarah took seriously were other witches. Humans struck her as unfortunate little beings blind to the world around them. Daemons were perpetual teenagers who couldn’t be trusted. Vampires were well below cats and at least one step below mutts within her hierarchy of creatures.

“A little book can hold a big secret—one that might change the world. You’re a witch. You know words have power. And if your vampire knew the secret, he wouldn’t need you.” Agatha’s brown eyes were now melting and warm.

“Would you like some breakfast before I take you home?” he asked casually, gripping the polished steering wheel. “You must be hungry after all that exercise.” This was the second meal Clairmont had invited me to (not) share with him. Was this a vampire thing? Did they like to watch other people eat?

“I am capable of opening my own door,” I said, getting out of the car.
“Why do today’s women think it’s important to open a door themselves?” he said sharply. “Do you believe it’s a testament to your physical power?”

“History only became more challenging when it became less neat. Every time I pick up a book or a document from the past, I’m in a battle with people who lived hundreds of years ago. They have their secrets and obsessions—all the things they won’t or can’t reveal. It’s my job to discover and explain them.”
“What if you can’t? What if they defy explanation?”
“That’s never happened,” I said after considering his question. “At least I don’t think it has. All you have to do is be a good listener. Nobody really wants to keep secrets, not even the dead. People leave clues everywhere, and if you pay attention, you can piece them together.”

“I wanted to know how humans came up with a view of the world that had so little magic in it,” I added abruptly. “I needed to understand how they convinced themselves that magic wasn’t important.”
The vampire’s cool gray eyes lifted to mine. “Have you found out?”
“Yes and no.” I hesitated. “I saw the logic that they used, and the death of a thousand cuts as experimental scientists slowly chipped away at the belief that the world was an inexplicably powerful, magical place. Ultimately they failed, though. The magic never really went away. It waited, quietly, for people to return to it when they found the science wanting.”

His voice was losing its careful softness. “‘Normal’ is a bedtime story—a fable—that humans tell themselves to feel better when faced with overwhelming evidence that most of what’s happening around them is not ‘normal’ at all.”

“Is that it?” he asked, eyeing the duffel bag with surprise.
“You told me I didn’t need much.”
“Yes, but I’m not used to women listening to me when it comes to luggage. When Miriam goes away for the weekend, she packs enough to outfit the French Foreign Legion, and my mother requires multiple steamer trunks. Louisa wouldn’t have crossed the street with what you’re carrying, never mind leave the country.”
“Along with having no common sense, I’m not known for being high maintenance either.”

A discovery of witches by Deborah Harkness