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Fire comes to him easily. It makes sense, with how he accidentally fried that giant bird when all of this started. The problem is, fire is hard to control, and he can't tell if that's because it's fire or because he doesn't yet know magic well.

He only uses it in battle when his allies are far from a fireball's potential path. Mostly, he misses. When it works, though, when flame explodes across an enemy's chest – there's nothing like the light in William's eyes.

The heat lingers in his chest, flares later when William presses kisses to his hands.

Water is more difficult, sliding and turning in his mind's eye until he has a headache. It works better when he imagines it solid: ice forming pretty crystals that can shatter anything. From there, he works his way to the other forms water can take. Liquid rising in bursts like his own fountain of Sen. Steam billowing from an enemy's shoulders, stealing life without a speck of damage to their armor.

Kaelyn complains about his cold hands after he practices. Still, she is the one who presses his stiff fingers to the inside of her thighs to warm them up.

The earth escapes him. It's too large, too solid, too old. He tries to connect with it, but if there is anything he feels beyond blankness, it is so much that he always falls to the side with a soft cry, head a starburst of pain. When that happens, all he can do is lay useless for the rest of the evening, his head resting in Kaelyn's lap.

He cannot use the earth, so he takes its stubbornness instead, gives it form, makes it a shield. When they meet pirate archers, the arrows bounce off the thin air around them.

Air takes a while; it is so present around him that it is hard to feel the element itself, figure out how to turn it into magic. But he does, after many breathing exercises. He uses it to carry things in his spells: water for driving rain and fierce blizzards, electricity for crackling storms, choking poison, stinging insects.

At the wedding they fought so hard to be able to see through, he uses it to kick up the softest of breezes that affect only them. William sends him a grateful look; Kaelyn sighs. It's almost, almost like touching them himself.

He studies with Kaelyn's father, learning of the things others do not know: the realm of mana, of magic and spirits like the wraiths that are beyond their understanding. He thinks that given time, he will understand.

Kaelyn's father often sleeps in his lab. This suits them well; Aren returns to the cabin to make dinner from what Kaelyn and William have brought in. Some nights, Raal comes. After he leaves, Kaelyn cleans up before the three of them curl together before the fire. He can feel their heartbeats like soothing pulses of magic as he falls asleep between them.