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A deleted scene from Into the Woods ** WARNING: There are some small spoilers ahead, so tread carefully. This scene comes from Chapter 26, “Unheard Confessions.”

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Typically, she taught the children science or math, not magic, and certainly not the ways of her kind. Of course, she didn’t hide herself from them. If she wanted to teach them about the life cycle of a butterfly, for example, she used her spells, and she showed them. Her father would be furious. He would call her a traitor, and some days she spent a lot of time wondering if he were-n’t right. Was she betraying her people?

She had a lot of rationalizations. Females didn’t do battle. The magic she showed the children wasn’t used for offense. While it was true that she had used her magic in battle and that she could see its potential in conflict, her father couldn’t and neither could the rest of the wolves. It did not directly or obviously weaken her people or risk their safety.

Trying to be honest with herself, she could admit that all of this logic might just be ex-cuses, but she simply did not know how to live separated from her magic. It wasn’t merely a list of spells to her. Her magic was a way of seeing and understanding the world. Caleb spoke of the uniqueness of a vampire’s perspective, how the nature of their long lives made them experience reality differently. She could recognize the wisdom in much of what he said, in much of what the vampires were taught. They considered life’s tragedies and joys as transitory, and her sense of cycles corresponded to much of what they believed, but unlike the vampires, unlike the males in her pack, and, certainly, unlike her father, her magic made her unable to see anything without seeing, too, its potential, what it could be. Her father called her a dreamer, and disciplined her for it. When he thought her dreams were too ridiculous he called her a fool; even Caleb, her best and truest friend, called her a fool sometimes. They both couldn’t see what she could, what her magic had taught her to see.

To lose her magic, to not use it, would be to blind herself. That’s how she lived. That’s how she interpreted the world, and, really, that’s all she was sharing with the students. She smiled, thinking of one of her class a few days ago.

She had started meeting with the children during their daylight hours–with Aifric’s permission of course, to learn things about what the children reverentially referred to as the Sun-lit world. A few days passed, they were talking about butterflies and caterpillars and co-coons, and, then, suddenly, they were talking about love and babies and their parents and dating, as the conversation turned toward this annual celebration. All the young were giggling, generally thinking that love was gross. One girl, pointing at the caterpillar, insisted she would rather kiss that worm than kiss a boy. Libby had merely laughed, explaining that she could understand that kind of thinking, but she reassured the girl that, like the caterpillars and butterflies, everything in life would change, that it all grew according to a cycle, and that, one day, she would actually want to kiss a boy. The entire group just howled, leaning over laughing, thinking it silly, impos-sible, embarrassing.

“Why are you laughing?” she asked, smiling with them, knowing what their an-swer would be. She had been a child once, too, after all.

“Because it’s just weird. Boys are gross,” said one girl.

“Yes! Gross like that caterpillar,” echoed another.

“Maybe boys are like caterpillars, but boys aren’t gross,” Libby had said. Closing her eyes and picturing one of the boys in the class, she cast a spell, and the boy changed. The children watched as their classmate transformed: his legs and arms grew long and strong, roped with muscle. His body grew tall. His little, round child’s belly stretched and grew taut. His hair grew out, thicker, darker. His hands, which had been cupped to carefully hold a single caterpillar, presently dwarfed the little green bug. When he laughed, surprised by her spell, the sound was low now, his adam’s apple bobbing. Small lines appeared at the corner of his eyes. He had be-come a young man, a handsome one. Smiling, Libby pointed at the boy and said, “Caterpillars become butterflies, and you like the butterflies, right?”

Enjoying her joke, all of the students had cheered.

An innocent enough lesson, it seemed to her, but she recognized the irony. She recognized that most would see what she was doing as a betrayal. She just didn’t know if they would be right. She had decided not to teach the young of the vampires to fight. She was not di-vulging the secrets of her family or her skills–at least not to these innocents, she reminded her-self. No, that you’ve reserved for the leader himself.

Ignoring her stream of self-criticism, she conceded to her wish to trust Caleb and her charges. It seemed strange, foolish. After all, you could say that she was training the same people that would possibly hunt her own family in a few years, but she didn’t want to see it that simply.

Wasn’t it possible that she was an emissary? Couldn’t these young vampires learn to empathize and respect her kind if they knew her better, if they had a teacher once that had been wolf? Her father would accuse her of being too much of a dreamer. Was he right? She did-n’t know. She couldn’t be sure, not until the future came to pass, and maybe not even then. She had to have a little faith in something though.

In their innocent ignorance, these children, unlike their parents, had few preconceptions, fewer prejudices, so she would invest her hopes in them. Tonight, she would teach them about her kind. She would tell them about “Marriage” in a wolf pack. She had learned dur-ing her time with the vampires that they understood very little of her culture and that the wolves’ marriage practices, for some reason, generated hostility in Caleb’s people. She could still recall Torin hissing his criticisms of mating in her ear. So tonight she was going to share the tale that all wolf children knew by heart: a wolf love story, the story of why wolf became man.

INTO THE WOODS
© Copyright 2012 by Jessica Ashley Wise
All Rights Reserved

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