Chapter 1 / Lascar, the werewolf plush

Joshua 8 & Raphaël 11 years old

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Joshua, his black hair in battle, left his room in his pajamas in search of Lascar, his white tiger plush. When he woke up this morning, he immediately noticed that he was missing. At 8 years old, he no longer considered himself a baby, but Lascar was the only gift from his father of whom he knew nothing.

He went down the stairs; his feet dragging as if this slowness could express his sadness. His eyes, still full of dreams, stared at the front door for a few seconds, adorned with a phoenix in the form of a round stained glass window. The sun's rays made the place very pretty. The jets of color made you want to smile and let yourself be bathed in this light. However, his little heart was not there.

He continued on his way, then turned to his left and crossed the frame of the large living room. The brown hair of his great cousin, Raphael, was the first thing he saw. He already seemed to be immersed in his morning cartoons.

"Rafi?" he muttered in a sulky voice. Have you seen my cuddly toy?

"No. Ask Grandma."

Raphael had not taken the time to look at it. Joshua, disappointed, left the room and headed for the kitchen. The long corridor was decorated with some family photos, past and present. He and his cousin were descended from an old line of wizards, but his case was special according to his mother.

He was born of a wolf metamorph father. That was all he had a right to know, because his mother, Lily, had made it clear to him that she would not tell him anymore.

When he stopped by the door, his grandmother Eloise was making breakfast.

"What's the matter, my little wolf?" she asked him, freezing his gestures.

"Grandma, have you seen my cuddy toy?"

"No. Did you have it with you last night?"

"Uh", he emitted, nodding his head, depressed.

"Did you question Mini-Maverick?"

"No, but I'm going to ask him..."

He turned back, a little reluctantly. The minigician of Raphael had annoyed him a little these last few days. Mini-Maverick seemed not to understand the difference between the werewolf and its therianthropic nature.

The minigician was on the coffee table, lying on a white pouf miniaturized to his size. With his ten centimeters, his elegant brown glazed leather jacket, and his very blond hair, Joshua couldn't miss it.

"Mini-Maverick, have you seen my cuddly toy?" he asked in a louder voice.

"Maverick!" suddenly ordered his cousin in front of the silence of the person concerned. "Can you answer him? You know I don't like it when you bother him."

Joshua did not let go of the minigician with his eyes, who dared to raise his pitiful emerald eyes to his master. Just at that gesture, he knew that something bad had happened to Lascar!

"I didn't do it on purpose" stuttering Mini-Maverick.

"What did you do to him?" Joshua suddenly screamed, horrified that this insect could have done something to his stuffed toy. "Where did you put it?"

His cousin turned off the TV and supported him by standing by his side to face Mini-Maverick.

"Don't tell me you beheaded him?" Joshua cried in panic. "Or ripped his paws off? Or... Grandma! Mini-Maverick, he hid my plush!"

"Maverick!" scolded his cousin.

"It's in your bedroom closet, but... I didn't do it on purpose..."

Joshua immediately ran to get his handsome white tiger. When he opened the door, his plush was there, flat on his stomach and with his head bent to the side. Relieved to see that his plush had nothing, he took it all against him and turned around when he discovered Mini-Maverick, standing on Raphael's right shoulder, who was watching him as if he was trying to hide something stupid.

"I don't want this insect to touch him anymore!"

"I-am-not-an-insect!" replied the person concerned.

Joshua suddenly arched an eyebrow without paying any attention to his words and returned several times to Lascar in his hands. His cuddly toy had magic that didn't reassure him.

"What did you do to him?" he shouted in rage.

The minigician hid behind his cousin's hair and replied:

"I can't reverse the spell..."

"Grandma!"

Eloise washed her hands while shaking her head. Since the minigician arrived in their lives, she was happy to see that he had managed to get Joshua out of his loneliness and bring the two cousins closer as she had hoped, but she didn't expect the "grandmothers" to resonate so many times in so few days with them...

"Joshua," she said as she came upstairs. "What's going on?"

"Grandma! Mini-Maverick, he put a spell on Lascar!"

There was a sadness in her little boy's eyes that touched her heart. She knew how much Joshua cared about that stuffed toy. It was the only object that linked him to an absent father in his life and she understood that this famous plush meant a lot to him.

"I didn't do it on purpose" whispered the minigician, opening Raphael's hair to look at her.

Eloise took the object in question and detailed it in detail. There was magic, all right. Contrary to what she imagined, the minigician's being more powerful than that of his young master, because Raphael was still too young to develop it at this level. This showed her that she had a long way to go before she understood what was at stake in Mini-Maverick's presence.

In the meantime, she wasn't sure she could counteract the spell.

"That's right, I can feel it, but if something unusual happens with Lascar, you'll come then?" she advised, giving Joshua the stuffed toy back.

"But, grandmother" he outraged, looking at the minigician.

"When the time came," she insisted when she saw Joshua sulking.

As he was locking himself in his room, she took a look at Mini-Maverick. The latter never did anything randomly, except to get Joshua out of his hinges. She sighed and then went down to the ground floor. These fraternal quarrels reminded him of those of his children who, in the past, fought over nothing. Now it was his grandsons' turn.

It was late when Joshua fell tired. His bedside lamp on, he lay down on his bed, his precious plush up against him. For a reason that her mother refused to reveal to the rest of the family, she had never wanted to tell them neither her father's name nor the pack's name. However, his father had wanted him to take care of the plush that had belonged to him."I hope you never disappear in my life, Lascar. I love you."

He suddenly opened his eyes, and his breathing was cut off: his plush had turned into a cat of the same color as Lascar, all white with black features.

"Wow! It's magical..."

Lascar came to rest under his hand and purred, asking for caresses.

"It tickles," he laughs.

Joshua must have laughed so hard that Raphael went into his room.

"Why did you..." started Raphael before to shut up and then inflate his chest by calling his minigician. "Maverick!"

"No, no, it's okay, Rafi!" Joshua reassured him. "Look! Lascar has become magical!"

"Are you sure about that?"

Joshua was surprised to see Lascar become a stuffed.

"Are you there, Lascar?" he spoke, tapping his spine with his fingertips.

He regained his smile when his cuddly toy returned in its feline form. For once, the magic of the little one had done something good, and it was really a nice surprise...

"I didn't do it on purpose..."

"For once!" Joshua exclaimed staring at Mini-Maverick, "I love your magic!"

Lascar surprised everyone by taking a second form that made Raphael turn white.

"Uh-oh..." emitted the minigician by clinging to his master's hair.

Joshua saw Lascar who jumped out of bed to stand in front of his cousin, mute and certainly scared, then the living beast growled in the direction of the little one.

"I gave you life!" shouted Mini-Maverick. "I'm not edible!"

Raphael fainted as he collapsed to the ground while Lascar licks Mini-Maverick with his tongue. Joshua had some cold sweats as he imagined his beast biting the little one.

"The boys!" cries alerted Eloise, who dropped her TV movie to see what was going on. What a surprise when she discovered an animal under his roof and one of his grandsons lying on the ground.

She shook her head. Ethan and Lily had given him a hard time when they were kids, but these three had a knack for surprising her even more.

"Boys!" exclaimed Eloise. "What the hell is that tiger doing here?

She looked up at the ceiling when the animal took on the appearance of lascar.

"Oh, I see," she said, watching Joshua throw himself on the stuffed toy. Well, I think I can do something."

"No, no, grandmother!" Joshua interfered.

"But... I thought you wanted to..."

"Not anymore," he replied with a smile on his face.

She looked for Mini-Maverick. He stood beside Raphael and stared at the ground as if it was the first time he had discovered it.

"Don't you have anything to tell me?"

The minigician lifted his face towards her, raised his chest, and explained:

"I wanted to prove to Joshua that a werewolf passed from one form to another, so I tried a spell on Lascar..."

"I-don't-be-a-werewolf!" cut it violently Joshua.

"All right," admit Mini-Maverick too easily to the taste of Eloise. "So, in that case, if you don't side with me, I'll remove the werewolf spell."

Joshua, with a beating heart, ruminated deeply before saying:

"No."

"No, what?"

"I'm not a werewolf! But... but I agree that Lascar is a werewolf plush?"

The silence that Mini-Maverick allowed to soar became unsustainable. Eloise could see in Joshua's bright eyes that he felt trapped. She knew her grandson would not give up and would not say he was a werewolf.

"It suits me" replied the minigician, finally, easing the tension, especially Joshua's, who, for the first time, shouted thanks by jumping on the spot.

"Can I keep it like that?" Joshua suddenly asked him, his eyes begging.

"If Lascar doesn't do anything stupid, I agree."

Joshua, excited and happy, locked himself in his room, leaving his cousin unashamedly at the hands of his grandmother. All that mattered in that second was his cuddly toy: a werewolf plush because now he had a friend just for him.

"That's it, Lascar" murmured he, putting his cuddly toy on his bed, "Grandma is no longer there."

A huge smile appeared on her lips and her heart struck with joy in her chest.

.

.

A week later...

Eloise watched her grandsons play in the garden through the kitchen window while the minigician rummaged through the shopping bags she had just placed on the table. Raphael took his role as a great cousin to heart and loved Joshua like a brother. The latter, solitary and sometimes wild, had had difficulty opening up to others, but since the arrival of Mini-Maverick, these two had come closer.

It was what she had once hoped for. If the prophecy concerned Joshua, she knew that the fraternal bond between his and Raphael had to be strengthened, for the time was all they had to prepare for this day.

"Thank you, Grandma, for the cookies!"

She smiled and turned as she looked at the minigician. He was also at an important stage in his life. From what she knew about their supernatural species, Mini-Maverick would only reach adulthood once he had his wings.

She had thought about this a lot because her late husband had told her that a handful of thirteen minigicians had come into their world to save the last dragons. However, the appearance of Mini-Maverick without its wings was strange. Why had he returned without memory and from a distant age?

"Don't worry, Grandma," interrupted her in her thoughts, the minigician. "Joshua now has a friend."

Since Lascar had become magical, Joshua let himself be gently attracted by his wolf side. The day after this episode, Éloïse was amazed to see him sleep against the big tiger's side and in the evening, to see him run to the lake in his form of a cub, accompanied by his werewolf plush.

"You did it on purpose, right?"

"Yes."

"Why did you do that? I thought you didn't like Joshua?" she tried, hoping to understand him.

He froze his cookie in his mouth and stared at it by rolling his eyes.

"I never said I hated him."

"Yet you spend your time bickering?"

"See, you say it yourself, we fight, we don't hate each other."

"You know very well what I'm talking about, don't play with words."

Éloïse knew the link between the minigicians and their respective masters, but she didn't understand what Joshua could bring her. If at first, the purpose of this holiday at home was to bring the two boys closer together, she had not thought for a second that the minigician also wanted a place in this small fraternal circle.

"To put it simply" whispered Mini-Maverick as he returned to his business, "Raphael has me. Now, Joshua has Lascar."

Eloise nodded and then returned to the window to observe her grandsons. The minigician's reasoning was certainly a good explanation, but she felt that there was something else.

While waiting to find the real answer, Mini-Maverick's presence unconsciously prepared the ground. The only regret she had was that the minigician did not preserve his memory of the past.

He was unable to remember his last master and tell her what had pushed him to slumber for centuries before waking up here.

Confidence

Raphael left his suitcases at the entrance to his house and ran into his room with his father's smartphone in his hand. He had enjoyed returning home after a rewarding summer with her cousin. While he was looking for grandmother's number, his minigician magically appeared on his bedside table, looking a little upset.

"What's going on, Maverick?" he asked as he sat on the edge of his bed.

"Why can you call me by my first name and not the others?"

"Because I am your master. And Grandma says it's a sign of respect."

"I don't like it when Joshua calls me Mini-Maverick."

"I know," he said grinning. "it also feels me strange, but maybe one day Joshua will call you by your first name."

"Yeah..."

Maverick couldn't go against the rules. Inside him, he knew it. Until that happened, his duty was to guide Raphael in his ability to manipulate the magic of the elements.

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