Chapter Thirteen

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The smell of pine lingered in the air as I focused on my magic with Merlin watching carefully. We were in his study—a fairly large, dimly lit room, decorated with books about magic along with a table with herbs and tools scattered around.

Since we would be journeying off to the Isle of the Lost tomorrow, Merlin and I both decided it would be a good idea to get some more practice in. This time, he had asked me to make different shapes with my magic, saying that it would help me gain control over it.

"This will be the hardest thing you'll do," he'd informed me as he led the way to his study. "You'll be forcing your magic to truly obey you, telling it your its master and not vice versa. It will take much effort. Especially for magic as powerful as yours, Sibyl."

He was right. As I sat here, struggling to turn the light in my palms into a square, a bead of sweat fell from my temple, my breathing becoming shallow.

"Breathe deeply, Sibyl," came Merlin's calm voice, his watchful gaze sharp. "Focus on the shape, not on the strain you feel. Force your magic to do what you want it to."

I breathed in deeply like he'd said, trying hard to ignore the way my muscles were aching. They were screaming as if I'd done a thousand squats, sit ups and push-ups. It was difficult to ignore the burn, but I focused harder on my magic and slowly, I watched as the light in my palms became a square.

I wanted to laugh and cry in agony at the same time, turning to face Merlin with a goofy grin on my face.

"I did it," I breathed.

His lips twitched as if he wanted to smile as he nodded.

"Very good, Sibyl. Now hold it for a few more seconds."

After thirty seconds, Merlin informed me I could stop and I was all too willing to oblige.

He handed me a small cup of water which I gulped down the second it was in my hands.

"It will become easier after a few tries," he assured me, his sharp-eyed gaze piercing. "It was only so difficult this time because it was your first time. We'll be sure to do this every day during the trip. You'll be making various shapes in one sitting before you know it."

I couldn't believe my ears. Merlin sounded oddly encouraging right now. It was so out of character, all I could do was stare at him like an idiot

Looking annoyed, he turned away sharply.

"I do have to occasionally offer my support, you know," he muttered, his voice a tad bit defensive. "I am your teacher. Teachers do that."

I laughed, unable to help myself. He looked so put out, his amber eyes holding hints of embarrassment, that not laughing was impossible.

"Go on, Sibyl. Laugh. I'll make sure to make these lessons longer from now on."

My laughing ceased immediately, my eyes widening in horror. Every day, since I'd asked him to train me, we had trained for an hour—sometimes two—on a daily basis. Those couple of hours could be easy. But sometimes, like today, the lesson could be a difficult one and those couple of hours could feel like a couple of years.

Something on my face must have amused him because he cracked a smile. Not a sadistic smirk or a cruel grin, but a smile. The ice that constantly surrounded him melted in this moment. His amber eyes shone with warmth and for a moment, my horror over longer lessons was forgotten.

He was attractive at all times. When he was scowling or rolling his eyes or gazing at you with that ice cold expression of his. But right here in this moment, with a warm smile on his face, he was something else altogether. More angelic or godlike than human.

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