Joshua 9 & Raphael 12 years old
Maverick liked to be alone with Eloise, especially late at night. For some time, he had been passionate about TV. This rectangular and flat-screen revealed many wonderful (and sometimes horrible) things to him that he ended up zapping as Grandma used to say. Éloïse had taught him how to launch a DVD or activate a USB key.
To him, today's technology was magical. He could see and review the films he liked and that, alone.
Tonight, the boys were in bed, and Eloise was preparing the annual family meal with Ethan and Laurianne, Raphael's father and mother, and Lily, Joshua's mother.
Comfortably seated on a miniaturized footstool and placed on the coffee table, Maverick was at a good distance not to miss anything. Contrary to what Eloise might have thought, he was not fond of films about wizards or wolves, but rather of beautiful romances.
The first time he looked at one was out of curiosity. He didn't understand why Grandma loved them, so as he enjoyed spending time with her, he started to do the same, gradually discovering the stories of grown-ups.
"Yes, grandmother?" he replied without letting go of the screen when, from the corner of his eye, he saw her coming.
"I see you like this film very much?" giggled Eloise before placing next to him a dessert plate that contained only a human-sized vanilla ball.
"Thank you!" he exclaimed, pressing pause.
She laughed because those were the only times when he agreed to turn away from a film. This sinfulness had become their ritual.
Maverick loved it! She never miniaturized food, and it would be sacrilege to do so! As a minigician, he did not grow and only ate what his body needed. His magic required a lot of energy, so he didn't deprive himself and appreciated everything that Grandma was preparing.
This dessert meant a lot to him because she thanked him for being there for the boys and the family. Once a week, usually on a weekend day, he was rewarded with a dessert that he should not abuse. Sugar was not very good for his little body, so he would make sure to taste it as if it were his last, and then he would never allow himself to beg for a share outside this special moment because it had to come from the person who offered it.
"I'm going back to the kitchen, good movie, big guy."
"Thank you, Grandma!"
Joshua couldn't fall asleep. The summer heat was suffocating him. Determined to look for a little freshness, he went down to the ground floor in his form of a wolf cub. His sense of hearing told him that the adults were in the kitchen while the TV was on in the living room. Sure to find Mini-Maverick there, he snuck in.
Joshua had never known why the minigician didn't feel his magic when he was transformed, but thanks to that, he could go unnoticed. When he arrived near the couch, ready to scare the little one, he was surprised to see him eating ice cream. Raphael had always told him that sugar was bad for Mini-Maverick. Maybe this one could eat it occasionally and in moderation? However, the freshness surrounding this dish began to make him salivate with envy.
He observed the minigician who used a spoon before putting it in his mouth, without looking away from the screen. Intrigued by what Mini-Maverick was watching on TV, Joshua wanted to throw up: Romeo and Juliet! Yuck!
The ice was more tempting. Joshua stuck his snout forward, tilted his head slightly to the side, and stuck the ball in with a blow of his tongue. It was great! It was great! Fresh and shivering at the same time, it had the desired effect. The ball of freshness only did well for his body.
Maverick didn't know what he loved about this movie. Even though he knew the tragic end, he was able to understand the lack of the other and the distance that death became for the couple. Thanks to this, he was sure that, despite the absence of his memories of yesteryear, he and his former master had had a very strong friendship.
As he continued to watch the DVD, he mechanically stretched his spoon towards his plate. The sharp and metallic noise returned by the object forced him to turn his face away from the screen. His eyes widened in panic when he discovered the horror: empty! Not a drop of ice left!
It was with amazement that he noticed Joshua's snout, who dared to taunt him by sticking out his tongue. Maverick, extremely disappointed, looked down again at the plate. He should have screamed, but he wasn't the type to complain. All he remembered from that moment was that his present had been engulfed by a rude man. He, who had believed that Joshua could be a secretly friendly boy, understood that this was not true. Joshua didn't deserve to talk to him.
"You're not going to squeal for ice cream?" whispered the thief as he took back his human form.
Maverick doesn't say anything. Disgusted that Joshua was not making an effort to repair his mistake, he turned off the TV and disappeared to the attic, where his small room was located.
The next day, Joshua woke up with the wrong impression that he had committed a crime. The minigician's horrible silence haunted him again this morning, but the most disturbing thing had been to see his green eyes shine with an unnamed sadness.
When he came down, Raphael came to meet him, his face decomposed.
"Josh, have you seen Maverick?"
His cousin shrugged his shoulders and went to the kitchen.
"Grandma?" Raphael murmured as Joshua followed in her footsteps. "Did you offer him his reward last night?"
"Well, I don't know, he blocked the attic door and, usually, he doesn't do that..."
"Maybe he wants to sleep in?
"It's not his style..."
"All right. You guys have lunch, I'll go up and see him."
Joshua, worried, preferred to join his grandmother. When he arrived at the level of the stairs, he asked her what she and her cousin were talking about. She knelt down and reminded him of a conversation the three of them would have had when the minigician appeared.
"Sugar can make him sick unlike other nutrients," she reminded him. "But at a reasonable dose, it does him good, hence Mini-Maverick chose vanilla ice cream, his favorite taste. It is a gift usually offered by the minigician's master, but since he lives surrounded by his family, whether it comes from your cousin or me, it remains his gift."
"And it is serious if he does not receive it in full?" Joshua asked anxiously.
"Oh yes, it is! Because if one of us forgot to do it, it's like telling him that he means nothing to us."
"Why? I don't understand?"
"Let's take an example, imagine that one year, your mother forgets to put your Christmas present under the tree, how would you feel?"
"Abandoned..." he muttered as he finally understood Mini-Maverick's sad eyes.
"Joshua, is it because of you that he locks himself up there?"
He nodded painfully as he confessed the theft of the day before.
"I'll see what I can do," she replied with a sigh.
Joshua regretted his action and even more so for hurting the minigician. A little jealous to see that his cousin had the full attention of a magical being, he had barely listened to the rules to be followed. If calling the tiny "Mini-Maverick" scratched his throat, he didn't want him to suffer because of him either.
A few minutes later, Joshua was relieved to see Mini-Maverick on Grandma's shoulders.
"Hey, hello, little one! Do you want to go to the lake and freshen up a little?!"
For an answer, the tiny man gave him a black look before totally ignoring. It got worse when Raphael discovered a new facet of the minigician. Mini-Maverick only attached importance to his cousin when he talked to him about more shouting and laughing, only his role as a guide would get him out of his silence.
On Thursday evening, four days after his petty theft, Raphael came into his room and violently took his stuffed toy from his hands and wriggled it in all directions.
"It's you, admit it!" his cousin shouted meanly at him. "Tell me what you did to him! Or else, I swear to you, your fucking plush is going to go through the campfire!"
It was the first time Joshua had ever seen Raphael so angry at him. His eyes were so dark that he had shivers of terror on his back. However, it was also not his habit to give in to threats.
"All right, you wanted it!" Raphael shouted at him in front of his silence.
Joshua's heart was racing, and he followed him with great concern. Raphael would not dare to throw his stuffed toy into the fire. It was not possible, not after the time it took them both to get closer like brothers. What was his fear when he discovered a fire in the garden, Mini-Maverick appearing on his cousin's shoulder.
"One last time!" Raphael shouted at him, placing Lascar above the flames, "what did you do to him?"
"Mini-Maverick! I swear I didn't do it on purpose" Joshua mumbled with a knotted throat.
"You're talking to me! Now you're nothing to him! Understood!"
Terrified of losing the only thing that had belonged to his father, Joshua tried to catch the minigician's attention, but Mini-Maverick refused to look at him.
"It was a joke," he suddenly sobbed. "I swear, I..."
With his eyes fixed on the object of his distress, Joshua had a hiccup of horror when Raphael let go of the lint. In a scream of panic and fear, he wanted to pick it up, but his cousin created an invisible wall that prevented him from retrieving it.
"No, Rafi, please, don't do this!" he cried, his lips distorted.
No matter how hard Joshua hit like a madman, the only thing he could do was to watch with powerlessness as Lascar consumed himself.
"You have deprived Maverick of his present!" he said, Raphael. "It is up to you to suffer the consequences!"
Joshua, his eyes flooded with tears and his throat caught in an imaginary ball, hiccupped as he looked at him for a moment with torment.
"You'll know not to hurt my brother! Because Maverick is! You've never wanted to talk to me before, so it won't make much difference to me! Except you're no longer my cousin! You're a mistake of nature!"
At these hurtful words, Joshua fled inside the house, pushed his grandmother in the way, and slammed the door of his room. Too young to channel all his pain, a cry of deep sadness crossed his mouth without realizing that the earth began to shake under his feet.
Eloise, with her heart banging violently in her chest, instinctively raised her hand in front of her as a magic wave spread through her home. Successfully blocking the wave of unknown energy, she ran upstairs and pushed the door of her grandson's room. This magic was powerful and it had something to frighten him.