“Emery, what is the first lesson of magic?” Nathaniel asked as he began sketching the symbols that they would need for the day’s spell.

“Nothing is as it seems. What is true can only be found through closer examination of all at-attributes,” the five year old said. He grinned at his brother and tugged on his skirt hem. “That’s we we dress like girls, b’cause that reminds us that… we appear to be girls but if you look close, you can see we’re boys.”

“Very good, Emery,” Nathaniel said. “Dressing and acting as a girl also teaches you balance. It is very important for mages to be balanced. Can you tell me why, Miles?”

“B’cause… if magic is unbalanced that the rebound can… unbalance your… aura and that’s… bad,” the four year old said.

“Especially for me an’ Mom b’cause our auras want to fall all to pieces, right, Dad?” Emery asked.

“Right,” Nathaniel said softly. It still pained him that he could do nothing to help his wife and oldest son, but Emery was such a happy child that his affliction was hardly a hindrance. Magic, above all, was about attitude.

“Have you both chosen your names in magic?” he asked, changing the subject. Both boys nodded and Miles looked ready to announce what he’d chosen. “Don’t tell me but write them down on a sheet of paper and fold it in threes. Then bring it here.”

“What’s today’s spell, Daddy?” Miles asked.

“Well, it has long been a practice for masters and their apprentices to create a special bond between each other using a spell of perpetual comprehension. That’s a few big words. Can you boy’s figure out what they mean?”

“Perpetual…” Emery murmured.

“Comprehension…” Miles added.

“Perpetual sounds like… “ Emery added, going to a Latin dictionary that sat on a nearby shelf. He skimmed the words and parts of words for some time. “Mi, your word’s in here too. See?” He held the book so Miles could see and the younger boy brightened as he read it.

“Understanding. Brother, what’s perpetual mean?” he said.

Emery skimmed forward into the dictionary and his eyes brightened as he found the “P” section. “Looks like it means constant or continuous. So the spell does… continual understanding between the participants?”

“Yes, is that a static spell or a kinetic one?” Nathaniel asked.

“It im-imposes a condition,” Miles said, bouncing. “So that’s means it’s a static one, right, Daddy?”

“Right, Miles,” Nathaniel said. He ruffled their hair as they began writing their names on sheets of paper. He wrote his own secret name and folded the paper in threes. The spell implied complete understanding, but he knew of it’s limitations, just as his sons would soon. True understanding could only come from listening and seeing the world from the point of view of another.