The magic wanted to be used.

"Wolf," Áine said.

The wolf whined and dropped the rope over the edge.

"If this is just a ruse to make sure you can eat me later, "Ned heard Áine say, "I will never forgive you." Ned saw the rope go taut, pulling against the knot on the tree.

Hand over hand over hand, Áine pulled herself over the edge of the cliff, and began walking her way up the slope, still holding onto the rope.

Ned's heart thundered in his chest. Be safe, he pleaded to Áine. Be safe, he urged the wolf.

You know, the magic began.

"SILENCE," Ned ordered.

And the magic was silent. And that feeling—both wonderful and terrible—from the swirl of the magic begin to ease. It was dangerous, that magic. And no matter how hard anyone tried to force it to do good, it wasn't enough.

It wasn't good.

Still. As Áine came closer and closer, he knew that no matter how wicked the magic was, he would use it again to save her. Again and again and again. Even the wicked can do one good, brave thing.

She is alive, he thought. She is alive, she is alive, she is still alive. Though he hardly knew her, and though he knew, as certain as he knew that his feet touched the earth and not the sky, that she was not his friend, not really, his heart soared all the same.

He reached out his hand to Áine, and she took it.

—Kelly Barnhill, The Witch's Boy

This woman writes kid stories that remind me of how to be a man. I hope to thank her in person one day.