A real light twinkles in old Gus’ eyes when he watches his grandson. Magic in dwarves tends to run in families, but it looked to have skipped the previous generation. The day little Markus found his magic was a new beginning for Gus in his retirement, and an apprenticeship of sorts was begun.

Markus and Pippin are much too young to try real potions, but the patience and observation needed to work them can be taught in the form of games. Bumbleshrooms turn purple when they’re cooked, staining the rest of the soup. If eaten before then, they can taste too bitter for a young palette. Watch the soup, wait for the first sign of the colour changing, then yell “bumble!” (Or, in Pippin’s case, yip a little more shrilly than my old ears would prefer.) It means the soup is almost ready, and the last gentle herbs can be added before serving. But overcooking them might make the “potion” bitter.

For a five year old, this is truly magic at its finest, and he near shines with joy when he gets it right. Old Gus shines right back at him.

It’s hard to say, sometimes, where the magic truly begins and ends.

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