27 of March 2021 – 2:08 AM
“So Millicent, Rosa, and Lenora all said no?” Gal concluded after I had recounted the first few hours of my night to the table. “I mean, I can’t say I didn’t expect that from Rosa and Lenora, but I thought the heir to the Bach Coven would at least be receptive to the idea.”
“I knew I should’ve gone with you,” Lilly grumbled, stabbing her fried chicken tenders with a fork. “You can’t approach every witch interaction with diplomacy.”
I cocked an eyebrow in her direction. “And you can’t intimidate everyone to get your way.”
“That’s what you think…” she said in a sing-song tone.
I caught Jett, who sat beside Sofia at the opposite end of the table, throwing a questioning glance over at Zander, who was occupying the space beside Diego. His stepbrother smirked.
“Her coven’s affinity is shadow magick, one of the hardest affinities to master. So, yeah, she’s intimidating.”
Jett’s eyes widened as he regarded my old friend again, impressed. “Damn, Lill.”
She winked in his direction. “Yeah, I’m awesome.”
“That only leaves Camille, right?” Renette asked from between Lilly and Sofia. It was then that I noticed that she and Sofi had changed out of their athletic attire; Nini was sporting a white off-the-shoulder t-shirt over a sleeveless black top with a zipper down the center. The stripes on her over-shirt were red on the right-half and black on the left-half, and her bottoms were a pair of white denim shorts with black laces running down the sides, crisscrossing all the way down and ending in bunny-ear loops. Diamond stud earrings and white-gold bangles completed her look. Sofia, on the other hand, wore an oversized sage green crop sweater over a tan spaghetti-strap top, both of which were tucked into high-waisted bootleg jeans. Her bottoms had a hole torn just above her right knee, and she complimented her outfit with gold-accented jewelry. Both sophomores kept their hair the same as when they were with their dance team.
“And Gunnar,” I explained.
I thought Lilly’s head was going to snap with how quickly she turned to glare at me. “What?! You don’t want me to teach you?”
“Of course I do,” I replied honestly. “I just think it’s unfair of me to ask all of these other witch heads and to not bother asking your brother, especially since he’s been there for me all these years. I at least owe it to him to ask for his permission.”
The Naismith heir let out an exasperated groan. “Ugh, fine. It might be better that way, anyway–our parents always listen to him.”
“Sooo what’s that mean in the grand scheme of things?” asked Jett. I sometimes forgot that he was new to our world, so his curiosity meant we had to use up the time I had hoped to dedicate to planning in order to answer his questions. “Like, what types of magick will you be studying for the next month?”
I took a deep breath and began counting on my fingers. “Blood, light, plant, water, earth, fire, and hopefully shadow.”
“One for each day of the week,” Zander pointed out with a humorous lilt, prompting several others at their table to chuckle.
“Please don’t encourage him,” Jett shook his head, a hint of a smirk playing on his lips. “He thinks he’s a comedian or some shit.”
I snickered at their interaction. I guess they get along better than I originally thought. “Anyway, since our caretaker also has a fire affinity, I’ll probably get the most training in pyromancy… Which Wihn and the others are probably expecting. And between my walking around campus today and Lenora’s open rejection of my request, I’m sure they’ve begun to figure out my plans.”
“Do you really think that will impact the duels?” asked Renette, only for Oreste to nod.
“Oh, it definitely will. Lenora and Rosa are very outspoken about their business, so they’ll make a point of broadcasting their conversations with you. Wihn will hear all about it, and she’s not just a great offensive witch, but a damn good strategist. I’d be disappointed if she hasn’t already anticipated you bringing every major witch affinity held by students enrolled at AOA to the duels–all except for air and empathy, that is.”
“And sound,” I reminded him, only for Diego to scoff.
“Nah, I get what Oreste’s saying. The Bach heir isn’t like those other two; she keeps to herself, though I can’t say for certain that she won’t cave under pressure if cornered. Until that happens, Wihn’s gonna believe that you’ll study up on sound magick as well.”
I chewed on my bottom lip. “All that really means is that she’ll anticipate beyond what I can do…”
Sage shared a glance with first Gal, and then Ax, before clearing their throat. “I can get you an air tutor.”
I gasped and straightened in my seat. “You can? Really? Who is it?”
Their slender face was flushed pink. “It’s a secret. I’ll tell you at our first practice.”
“Fine,” I pouted mockingly before breaking out into a wide grin. “Thank you! I have the two best guides ever!”
Sage and Gal were blushing furiously; the Serafim witch fanned herself excitedly, while her friend retained their composure and quietly sipped their tea. “Right. Tell us something we don’t know.”
Taking their throwaway comment literally, I leaned forward dramatically and revealed: “Gerardo’s agreed to teach me some animal magick.”
Sage nearly spat out their tea, while Gal’s jaw dropped. “Holy shit! He did? Faunal magick is the Serafim family’s secret weapon–they refuse to teach it to anyone, even other members of the coven!”
Oreste looked at me curiously. “Interesting. I guess he must like you.”
I caught Gal’s face fall briefly before she forced out a laugh. “What? There’s no way… Right?”
Max, who was sitting between her and Oreste in his usual spot, had already finished his lunch and was drinking a fruit smoothie. He paused to mutter, “Yeah, I’m not too crazy about that bastard. Even if he’s agreed to help…”
Axel chuckled from my right. “Looks like we agree on that front.”
“He’s not so bad,” Zander shrugged from the opposite end. He was about to place another chip in his mouth when he caught the rest of us staring at him with doubtful expressions. “What? I mean, sure, he’s difficult, but if you get past that then… I don’t know, he’s cool with non-witches, I guess.”
Diego chuckled softly at the werewolf’s vague explanation. “I get what you mean. He’s my co-captain on the broom flying club, so I’ve not only seen how he handles taking orders, but also how patient he is with our more inexperienced members.”
My ears perked up. “Gerardo’s part of the High Flyers Club?”
Before Diego could answer, Max cut in. “Can you quit it? You’re making her interested in him.”
I frowned. “The fuck? Don’t you think I should be interested in learning more about him? After all, he’s going to be in my room–”
“The hell he is,” Axel snarled beside me.
Max looked pointedly at my adoptive brother. “You’ll keep an eye on them, right?”
“Like you even have to ask.”
“Wow. Thanks, Mom and Dad,” I hissed sarcastically. “Any other rules I should know about?”
“Beyond that?” Max pondered for a brief moment. “Don’t join the High Flyers Club.”
I rolled my eyes. “Asshole,” I let slip under my breath.
“What was that?”
“I should’ve had the casserole,” I said loudly, glaring at my older half-brother. He held my gaze with a hardened stare, and the tension brought upon the table mounted until a familiar voice asked:
“Are we interrupting something?”