A week ago, I’d been sitting in a tree house doing homework while Tavor was splayed out in the tall grass below. Rajan, after burning a circle in the grass, sat and stared between me and Tavor.
“Soooo,” he drew out the word, still switching his gaze between us before finally settling on Tavor. “How are we supposed to feed, if Ali doesn’t make wishes?”
I jerked my gaze from my homework, studying Rajan as I ran my mind over the past couple days. Had he been less energetic? More antsy? I didn’t know what a hungry genie looked like. I’d forgotten genies normally fed off their masters’ greed and lust over their wishes. Tavor and I had unintentionally worked something else out.
“Oh, right.” Tavor rose onto his palms so he could look at Rajan. “Turns out we actually feed off our masters’ reaction to our magic in general, rather than to wishes specifically.” His eyes met mine, a smile in them. “I feed off Ali’s delight over my changes to the apartment.” He turned back to Rajan. “You’ll have to figure out something for yourself.”
I waited while Rajan drummed his fingers on his legs, frowning in thought. When he didn’t seem on the verge of a solution, I went back to my textbook.
“Hey,” he said a few moments later. I jumped to find him sitting next to me, my pencil slipping from my hands and bouncing to the grass below.
“Jeez,” I breathed, holding a hand to my heart. “Make more noise next time, will you?”
“Watch this,” he said, ignoring my near heart attack.
He held one hand out, palm up, and five flames rose from his fingertips. They floated a safe distance from the treehouse before elongating into thin lines. The lines hung suspended for a moment before flowing in and through each other to form intricate patterns. They reminded me of Celtic knots, of space and ancient symbols.
I leaned forward, wondering what a firework display choreographed by Rajan would look like. The patterns sped up, moving in a continuous motion and leaving trails of light in their wake.
I turned to Rajan, praise for his dazzling fire on the tip of my tongue. But I found him gazing at me with such intensity that the words died in my throat.
“Beautiful,” he murmured, then blushed, pressing the back of his hand to his mouth. He stared at the tree house floor as he moved his hand enough to say, “I can feel how beautiful you find my magic.” His eyes flickered to mine before jumping back to the floor. “I think I fed off your reactions at the museum, but it tasted so different, I didn’t realize it.”
He stretched out on his back with a groan, covering his bare stomach with his hands. “Man, that’s way tastier than anything I’ve ever had. And more filling. Other masters suck.” He turned his head to grin at me. “Even at the museum, you loved my fire, if I fed off you then.”
“I wanted to watch you melt the gems,” I admitted, referring to the laser-emitting gems from the light genie’s trap he’d destroyed. “But the fire was too bright.” Even with my hands covering my closed eyes, it had nearly been too much.
“I’ll melt some stones for you later,” he’d promised, then grinned again. “That can be what I do next time I need to feed.”
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