Emery balked at being called a child. He was young, sure, but he hadn’t been a child since his mother had died. His father had disappeared shortly before, while he was away at school. He and his brother had returned upon hearing that their mother had taken ill. It had taken her two weeks to die. The end had come slowly. She had wasted away… faded away almost. Emery considered that the end of his childhood.

After that had been the funeral. He’d had to be strong for Miles. The younger Ballard brother had been inconsolable. Someone had to see him through the fog of grief. Emery was the elder brother, the task had naturally fallen to him.

Then they’d graduated – or Emery had and Miles had passed. Upon graduation the law stated that mages were emancipated, no matter their chronological age. The committee that ran the school wasn’t quite ready to emancipate someone as young as thirteen, however and had tried to hold Miles back. Again Emery had to act the part of adult and stand up for his brother’s right to graduate with him.

Now they were both officially emancipated minors. They may be young, but even going by magical standards it had been two years since they’d been children. He looked up at Livingston and said calmly, “I’m hardly a child, Master Arnold. I’m a deputy investigator.” He nodded at the surprised smile the man wore and entered the crime scene.

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