Amelia learns that the gifts she inherited from her mother can be used for good instead of evil.

Author's note: "You have a gift for making me feel small."

It was likely intended as a compliment regarding size things, and indeed, I took it as one. But I couldn't help also pondering the fact that... well, this could be said of my father, too. He had quite the gift for making people feel small. But not in the fun, sizey way. ... In the upsetting way.

For a long time, I thought I was like him. Or, not only that I was like him, but that my sharing his gift for tearing at the hearts of people around me meant I was doomed to end up like him, forever carelessly tearing apart the people around me and breaking them to me or losing them forever. In some ways, I did get the same gifts of weakness detection he wields as a weapon. But I don't wield them to cause harm. Not any more. I wield them for joy, for peace, for safety.

I keep coming back to this metaphor (I heard it from some story somewhere, I forget now). So while I wait for the water pitcher to fill so I can go to sleep, I'll write this, my own take on it.

Amelia Mareks leaned against the wall, listening to two of her comrades gossip about her. They were unaware of her presence, and honestly, she was quite happy keeping it that way.

"Wait. Daughter of the High Priestess Mareks? The Threadripper?"

"Yep. And get this - she has the same power. That's how she got recruited. She unraveled one of our wards."

Amelia regretted it. She regretted it so much. But she'd wanted to be a student here, and when the ward rebuffed her, she'd gotten angry. And like her mother had done all her life, like Amelia'd done through the majority of her own, she started picking at the weave. Getting a thread loose here and there, and then tugging, ripping, tearing- and before she knew it, the beautiful tapestry of the ward was in tatters and Professor Marion was standing in front of her, a fully charged spell circle woven around one wrist.

Maybe the only reason she was alive now was that she didn't start picking at the circle Professor Marion held. She closed her eyes, letting a wry grin cross her face. Maybe once in a while she knew when she was outclassed. But then, her mother knew when to suck up and when to punch down, right?

Amelia let out a breath slowly, feeling her body sink into the chair. She couldn't help it. She could see the weave. She wanted to pick at it. It was so beautiful... and every time she saw something so beautiful, she could feel the thoughts in her mind.

One little tear and it all crumbles down.

It looks so strong, but it's so fragile, isn't it? Right... here. That's all I have to do, dig a claw in right here...

Evil thoughts. Proof she was as twisted as her mother.

"... Amelia is, like, if she wasn't meant to be a student here in the first place and all she's going to do is break stuff, why keep her around?"

Hearing her name brought her focus back to the conversation she was eavesdropping on, but she immediately regretted it. Not that she blamed them for thinking that - she thought the same.

She got to her feet, slinking out of the cafeteria. Keeping her head down, hoping neither of the two had seen her.


"Ammy! Hey, Ammy!" Julie waved from one of the classrooms as she passed. "Hang on! Can you sit with me while I finish my project? Teach is gonna be real mad if I still don't have it done by tomorrow..."

Amelia smiled faintly, though it quickly disappeared when she remembered the other students. "Are you sure? I'm... kind of dangerous."

Julie got up and went to the door, grabbing Amelia by the wrist and dragging her in. "No you're not, silly. Who told you that?"

"Eh..." Amelia shrugged weakly, not really wanting to talk about it. "What are you working on?"

"Heartwarmer," Julie said, sitting back down at her spell loom. "It's... kind of a mess, isn't it?"

Holes in several spots. Haphazard weaving. Amelia looked the spell-scarf over and felt that old familiar itch. It was so vulnerable... so fragile. She could destroy it effortlessly.

But Julie would be heartbroken at best and furious at worst. And Amelia really wanted Julie to be happy.

"Uh... maybe a little. But it's... getting there!"

Julie laughed awkwardly. "I wish I knew how to fix it..."

Amelia glanced back at the spellfiber. Staring at that one hole. Strike there, and the whole thing falls apart, the energies dissipating completely. But pull gently, break only the one thread where it's necessary, knot it back up again... "Do you mind if I..."

Julie scooted over. "No, go ahead!"

Amelia considered the fibers for a long moment, then reached forward, gently pulling a nail through one of the threads to break it. Her deft fingers were quick to catch the now-loose ends, and she carefully fed some of her own energy in to heal the gap.

When she was done, the hole in Julie's weave had been mended.

Julie beamed. "You're amazing, Amelia..."

"Er? No, anyone could do that," Amelia said, feeling heat rise in her cheeks. She was desperate to make Julie stop, as she did not know how to handle ... praise.

Julie would not let up, though. "No way! Not everyone knows how to mend a spell like that! I mean, I don't. You knew just where to break it, and just how to put it right..."

You knew just where to break it.

Professor Marion had said the same thing to her when she tore up the ward. Amelia had read it as scolding.

But maybe... was it... recognizing some kind of skill?

"Okay, now do the other ones!" Julie said, unaware of Amelia's internal conflict. "I mean, if you don't mind!"

"Mind? I'd be happy to," Amelia said. Her heart stirred upward for the first time since arriving at this school. Maybe there was more to the weave than weaving and tearing. Maybe ripping a thread carefully could make a difference...