Brilliant sapphire eyes met my own curious brown ones as I stared at the creature currently sitting on the wooden perch in the bird cage my academy mentor had dropped off earlier that day, along with the Eagle itself. The bird in question tossed it's dark head, the midnight colouring of it's feather glimmering iradescently in the sporadic glow of passing cars headlights. With a wave of my hand and a silent mental command, the kitchen windows shutters fell into place and plunged the room into darkness.
For that split second before I telepathically turned on the lights, the Eagle's eyes glowed etherally in the darkness...causing me to break out in goosebumps that had little to do with the rapidly descending Autumn evening. As the clock on the wall chimed out it's cheerful tune, I dragged my gaze away from my new pet for the holiday period as I swept my gaze around the kitchen and dining area.
My parents would be home shortly and heaven forbid it if a speck of dirt was to be found in their pristine home. With four children, and 5...soon to be six familiars you would think they would be able to withstand a little mess. Dragging my feet across the polished to within an inch of their life ivory tiles, I settled myself into one of the upright wooden seats surrounding the dining room table and forced my holiday study textbook to depart from where it lay abandoned on my dresser. As I focused intently on teleporting the book into my hands, I didn't notice my parents walk into the room where my Dad met the trajectory of my airborne textbook head on.
Normally I would have found this pretty funny, as the youngest of all my siblings I normally got away with a lot of things that they wouldn't have when they were my age. It wasn't that I was a naughty or rebellious...I simply didn't like sticking to the status quo, I liked being my own person and in the witching world that was basically a crime. Unfortunately, my parents were more uptight than usual due to the fact that I was starting my final year at the Witching academy...basically the final of high school in the mortal world.
The glare my father gave me at that instance had me shrinking into the textbook I gratefully took off him and buried my head into it'g glossy pages, the smell of hours of studying and wasted holidays bringing a somber expression to my face. Luckily, my parents mistook my expression for remorse and started making idle chit chat as my mum prepared us dinner.
" So that's your training pet for the holidays Ali?"
I remember going through this with all 3 of your brothers and let me tell you, not only does it teach you great responsibility but it's also very efficient at getting you prepared for having a familiar...your 18th birthday is less than a year away afterall, I wonder what animal will choose you? Clearly, Mr Dronek you professor believes it will be a bird of prey...a small but powerful and majestic animal, it would be a great honour for a bird like this to choose you Alison."
Nodding in response to my father, like the good obediant little witch I pretended to be, I looked back towards my new pet where it currently sat staring at us with it's luminous and seemingly all knowing eyes. I had lived through all three of my brothers practice familiars, it was a way for us to get used to living with and caring for another animal that would be with us for the entirety of our long, near immortal lives.
All my brothers practice pets matched their familiars in one way or another. The only one that was slightly off was my eldest brothers, he had been given a house cat...a grumpy house cat as a practice pet. Considering he now lived in rural NSW with a jaguar as his familiar, the academy had gotten as close as they could to the real thing in a city setting...it wasn't like you could hide a jaguar in a metropolitan area...a young warlock couldn't anyway, that took much more advanced magic.
A bird seemed like a quite tame and low maintenance pet compared to dogs or cats...jaguars. In the 6 hours the bird had been here, it had simply stared around the room. Tomorrow morning, the bird would be allowed to come and go as it please from the house...it was up to me to care for it and to ensure it was happy staying with me...with my family. To be honest, I wasn't completely looking forward to these holidays. It was 2 months of intense study and looking after a living creature...I could barely look after me. It wasn't like I hated animals, I just was more of a lone soul. I didn't have friends I hung out with...I spent most of my time reading or drawing.
Spending an entire month studying and caring for a bird...a month that should've been my reward for a whole year of schooling sure didn't seem like a break anymore, it felt more like a prison. Just before I tucked into the still steaming bowl of vegetarian curry that my mother placed before me, my Dad nudged me gently and pointed to the birds cage. Biting back an exasperated groan I headed into the kitchen where I started warming up a portion of the meaty mince packets that my professor had dropped off with my new pet.
The disgusting scent of raw meat began to fill the kitchen as I warmed up the birds food in the microwave, I wasn't powerful enough yet to focus my power on warming up objects without heating probably the entire kitchen, setting myself on fire and majorly pissing off my parents. It was fortunate that we had some basic human appliances as well, even if they were rarely used. Taking the pet food out of the microwave, I slowly approached the cage...keeping my head down as I put the warmed up mince into the feeder dish of the enclosure before backing away.
I had been warned that Eagle's were proud animals, they weren't arrogant but like me they were lone creatures...they preferred their own company over anyone else and they demanded respect. If you gave them respect they would reciprocate and thus a healthy bond between the two of them would form, I needed a healthy relationship with this Eagle if either one of us were going to make it through these holidays on a positive note.
As I headed back to my parents and sat down at the table, I found myself looking back towards my new pet. The jet black bird was staring at me with it's piercing eyes, before I could lower my gaze it gave me the slightest almost impreceivable nod before it started tucking into the food I had just prepared for it. Looking back to my own dinner I couldn't help the smile that spread across my features...perhaps this break would be alright afterall.