My name is Maggie Dresden and I’ve never been ice skating before. All of the Carpenter kids have. Miss Molly told me she used to figure skate, when she was little. They offered to teach me last winter, but I was afraid of falling through the ice and drowning so I stayed with Father Forthill and helped him shovel snow. That was a lot of fun, but this winter I think I’m ready.
My dad and Miss Molly came to the Carpenter house at almost the same time, even though they were in different cars. They do that a lot, I think because they’re used to working together. I already had a big thermos full of hot chocolate, with milk and a little bit spice just like I like it.
We were all excited and a little bit nervous, so Miss Molly went right around into the back yard by the turtle pond and opened a Way into the Nevernever.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” my dad asked her, trying to be too quiet for me to hear. He carried two pairs of ice skates over his shoulder, one really big pair for him and a small one for me.
“It’s perfectly safe,” Miss Molly told him, “I made sure nothing would come within a mile of the lake.”
“Maggie, are you sure you don’t want to go to a mundane ice rink? It will be easier to learn there.”
I smiled at him, he was worried about keeping me safe, but with him and Mouse and Miss Molly around there wasn’t much that could hurt me, “Miss Molly says it’s safe and she can’t lie.”
Miss Molly can’t lie because she’s the Winter Lady. Miss Molly gave me the dumbed-down kid version of why she doesn’t want Mrs. and Mr. Carpenter to know, but I understand not telling your parents things. She needs to tell them soon, I think.
Also, because my dad is a vassal of the Winter Court, Miss Molly is kind of like my fairy godmother.
I was super excited to see what Miss Molly’s part of the Nevernever looked like. Since my dad got back, he’s taught me some things about magic, so I knew not to be scared of the Way, but it was still unsettling to see a hole in the world where Mr. Carpenter’s raised tomato beds were just a minute before. Both inside and out, there was about a foot of snow on the ground, but there was a cleared path just a few feet beyond the Way.
I let Miss Molly and Mouse go through the Way first, then I stepped out onto a little terrace above a huge lake, frozen all the way over. I could sort of see the other side, so it wasn’t as big as the Great Lakes, but it never gets cold enough to skate on the Great Lakes, so this was almost as good. Mouse was excited too and he didn’t sense any danger, I could tell by the way he was wagging his tail.
My dad came through last, doing the look-around he always does. He was scanning the snow-covered trees for danger, but I didn’t worry, Mouse thought it was safe.
Besides, I was too busy staring at the ice palace standing up on a promontory above the lake. I already knew that the Winter Queen liked Disney movies, from the awesome present she’d given me at Chanukah, but that was… “a whole copy of Elsa’s palace?” I asked Miss Molly.
“Everything that anyone believes in ends up in the Nevernever somewhere. I thought it might be nice to have something familiar. What do you think? It’s not too big, is it?”
The sky was pretty big here, and I was a bit nervous, but I said, “You said it was safe, and Mouse wants to go out on the lake.”
“Well, I can’t say no to that.”
“You’re sure the ice will hold us?” My dad asked.
“Yes, Harry, I’m sure,” Miss Molly said in the voice that meant ‘I’m rolling my eyes inside’.
“Come on, Maggie,” my dad said, “let’s get this party started.”
We picked our way down the cleared path to a little patio with benches that must have been a dock, if this lake ever un-froze. My dad sat down to put on his own skates, and Miss Molly knelt down to help me put on mine. My skates had red laces, my favorite color, and I smiled.
“You have to tie them really tight,” Miss Molly told me, “or your ankles will wobble.”
Behind her, I watched my dad untie one of his skates and pull the laces tighter.
“Miss Molly, where are your skates?” I asked when she was done. Walking on the skates felt weird and wobbly. I leaned on Mouse.
Miss Molly sat down on the bench where I had been and said “ Patinar!” in the way that she says her spells, except that patinar just means ‘skate’ in Spanish, so it didn’t sound all that cool to me. What happened next, though, was awesome. It was like Miss Molly pulled all the frost from the air to make a pair of blue ice skates made of actual ice. I still wasn’t used to magic happening right in front of me, so I stared.
My dad looked her, “Wow, Grasshopper, that’s impressive.”
Miss Molly shrugged, “I’m not sure I could do it in the real world, but this is my demesne.” she stood up, not wobbling at all, “Are you ready to skate?” She stepped out onto the ice.
My dad stood up, wobbling just as much as I was, “Hey Maggie, do you want to know a secret?”
“I’ve never been ice skating before either.”