AN: Hey everyone. This is just a short story I had to do for my English class, and of course, it ended up four times longer than my teacher asked for... oh well. She liked it.

Not Your Normal Magic

This is a big mistake, I thought, dropping my old, battered suitcase on the cold pavement as the cab drove off. The house in front of me was dismal and dilapidated. The green paint had peeled off the exterior to the point where the house was mostly bare, rough lengths of wood. To complete the scene of decay, several windows were missing their shutters and the front door hung from a single hinge that caused it to swing menacingly open and closed when the wind blew. Why did I have to come here again?

"Seth, we need to talk." I had just walked through the front door, my school bag hanging from one shoulder, when I heard my mom's voice call from the couch in the living room. She seemed tired, her brown hair falling out of her already disheveled ponytail. "You aren't safe here in the big city, Seth," she murmured, brushing the long bangs away from my eyes to reveal a fading bruise. I glanced away as she frowned at it, her eyes full of that annoying motherly worry.

"I'm fine, Mum. I can take care of myself," I told her. In my mind, I already knew exactly where this conversation was going.

"It's not that," she insisted. "Did you know three kids were arrested at your school for drugs? What's next, alcohol? Guns? It's just not safe, Seth. I'm sending you to your uncle Mortimer in Portisville for a while. Just until I save enough money to move us to a better part of the city." I pulled away as the old wound opened again.

"Mum, I can't go now! If Dad were here, would we-" I shut my mouth, watching as the colour rushed from her face. "I didn't... I'm sorry..." She shook her head.

"I'm putting my foot down this time. You're going. Go pack- the cab comes tomorrow after school." She disappeared into the kitchen to make dinner, and that was that.

A loud cry startled me from my thoughts, and I had just enough time to glance up before something slammed into me, wrapping itself around my arms. A closer glance revealed this something to be a middle-aged man with dashes of grey in his otherwise black hair. "Seth, my boy!" he cried, hugging me even tighter. I could swear I felt several ribs cracking under his embrace. "I've been waiting for you for ages. When your mother said you were coming, I just couldn't wait! Come in, come in. I'll show you to your room!" He grabbed my suitcase, waltzing off to the house, humming a random tune. I glanced hurriedly down the road, praying that the cab hadn't left yet.

No luck.

Sighing, I followed the man (was this Uncle Mortimer?) into the house, wincing when the floor groaned beneath my sneakers.

The inside, unexpectedly, was much better kept than the outside. A small couch sat on one side of the living room, surrounded by bookshelves full of ornate, gilded tomes. A fireplace opposite the couch crackled merrily, filling the room with warmth. Peeking through a door on the side of the room reveals an upscale kitchen with a large fridge. Stairs led up to the second floor from there. I could hear the man humming somewhere upstairs. The creaking of the ceiling over my head sounded suspiciously like the steps of a tango. Dreading being in this house another second, I carefully went up.

Another sitting room was at the top of the stairs, with three doors leading off from it. The first, in the middle of the others, led to a bathroom. As I exited back into the sitting room, the man appeared from the doorway to my left.

"What took you so long, my boy? Your room is ready." He then disappeared into the last room, leaving me to explore mine.

There was a huge king-sized bed in the middle of the room, with a fluffy down comforter. A dresser loomed over me on one wall, next to a writing desk and chair. The window took up most of one wall, though thankfully it had blinds. My suitcase lay open on the floor, empty. When I opened a drawer in the dresser, my clothes stared up at me, neatly sorted and folded.

I sighed, collapsing fully dressed on the bed, feeling rather odd. "Well... I'm definitely not in Kansas anymore."

A knock at the door startled me- I hadn't heard anyone go up the porch steps. Uncle Mortimer (because that could only be him) thundered down the stairs, throwing open the door. "Lily! Matthew! You came!" The door closed, and footsteps tramped up the stairs.

"He's here, Mortimer?" a girl's voice asked, as whomever it was entered the sitting room.

Silence.

"Really? In there?" Silence again. "Come on, Mattie! I want to meet him!" Someone knocked on my door, hard enough to rattle the frame. I jumped off the bed, warily moving to the door.

The door opened with a bang, revealing two kids about my age. One of them, the girl I had heard, had long blonde hair pulled into a high ponytail. She had large blue eyes and rosy cheeks. She was peeking out from behind a solidly built guy with black hair and hazel eyes. He frowned at me, obviously looking me over. The girl pushed him out of the way and stuck her hand out with a smile.

"Sorry he scared you. I'm Lily, and that meanie over there is Mattie." She jabbed a thumb in his direction, and he waved in a reluctant greeting. I shook her hand as she kept talking. "You must be... Seth, right? Your uncle never stops talking about you. Maybe now you're here..." She leaned in close, peering into my eyes. "You have cool eyes." Lily must have been talking about how I had mismatched eyes- one a deep, cobalt blue, the other an almost electric emerald. I glanced uncomfortably over at Mattie, Lily still holding my hand energetically.

"Is she always...?" I trailed off helplessly. He nodded, the first sign of a smile appearing on his face. Mattie waved a hand in Lily's face.

"Lily, you've got to let him go. He's losing circulation, and I'm sure you don't want that." She dropped my hand, smiling awkwardly.

"Sorry..." I grinned at her, shaking my head.

"No big deal. It's fine." She nodded. "Anyways, how do you guys know my uncle?" Mattie and Lily shared an uncomfortable look before glancing at Uncle Mortimer, who had magically appeared in the entrance.

"They... they help out with the housework around here, you know, yardwork. All that good stuff." I nodded, pretty sure he was lying. If they were helping out around the house, why was the outside so run down? "So, Lily. Matthew. Why don't you two show my nephew around Portisville? You can start with the mall." He shooed us down the stairs and out the front door, smiling the whole way. "Dinner will be ready for all when you get back." And with that, the door shut unceremoniously behind us, leaving us to look at each other awkwardly for a moment.

"Seth, you have to see the new store at the mall!" Lily cried, effectively breaking the tension. Grabbing my arm, she dragged me down the street.

On the way out of the mall, a boy larger than Mattie strolled out of a store across from us, flanked by two other guys. Mattie scowled, tensing up as the other three approached us.

"Well, Tommy, Alex. If it isn't our favorites, Lily and Mattie. And who's this? Fresh meat?" I glared at him as an ugly smirk grew on his face. Lily shook her head, stepping in front of me. His smirk grew even larger and uglier. "He needs a girl to protect him?" Tommy and Alex chuckled dumbly as they advanced on me.

"Lily, it's fine. I doubt they'll be able to touch me. I've been in fights before," I told her, taking a step out. The leader frowned, clearly falling for the goad, and stopped the other two with a small gesture of his hand.

"Honestly think so? Tommy, Alex, let's show him." Suddenly, one of them (Alex, I think) had my arms pinned behind me, while the other roughly searched through my pockets, ignoring my fruitless struggles. He fished out my wallet, flashing my own cash triumphantly in my face, before tossing both me and my now empty wallet to the ground. Mattie was at my side in a second, helping me up. The leader laughed, sneering at us, and left, the other two following him like faithful puppies.

"Are you okay?" Lily asked while inspecting my hands for any signs of blood.

"Yeah, no lasting damage done," I said with a wince, pulling my hands away to pick up my wallet. "I didn't have too much in that old thing anyways." She grinned at me, and started to lead me back to my uncle's house, but a hand landed on my shoulder, preventing me from following. I turned around to see Mattie staring down at me sternly.

"You should be careful around 'Big Jimmy'," he warned me. "His dad's got enough influence with enough people to make your life hell, anywhere you go. Don't piss him off." He released his hold on my shoulder, nodding slightly. "And I like you. I don't want to see you hurt by him, okay?" He turned and followed Lily. After a little bit, I ended up following him home.