Welcome back, Adventurers, to your weekly installment of Choose Your Own Adventure! Last week, you got to know yourself as Tabitha Whitley — a popular young witch from a VERY IMPORTANT magical family — as you navigated the halls of your magical boarding school, newly segregated to allow/force the Necromancer kids from Braxton Academy to join your school.
It was a close race, but you decided to C. Chat up one of the Braxton girls to get the scoop on Eli.
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Chapter 02: Is That A Wand In Your Pocket?
The rest of your morning classes are a blur of dullness — History of the Magical World — punctuated by excitement — when Phineas set fire to Professor Peabody’s violet hair in Conjuring. (Seriously, the boy is probably the smartest one of us, but dude NEEDS to lay off the wacky weed).
Thankfully, lunch is next, and you hurry to the great hall to get your newly mandated “balanced meal” — thanks again, Congress — of mostly vegetables. Man, do you miss the pot roast and pastries.
Armed with your tray of salad with tofu and side of sweet potato fries (hey, a girl has eat something with sustenance) you scan the tables for Dace and Drusilla Gravenstein, your BFF since Magical Kindergarten. They haven’t arrived yet, but your eyes zoom in on a table of Braxton girls, and you recognize a couple from your morning classes. In the spirit of community, and not at all because you are looking for information about Eli Vance, you approach their table.
“Hi, I’m Tabitha.” Blank stares. “Mind if I join you?” The girls at the table trade glances. Just when you are about to lose your nerve and walk away, a girl with flaming red hair and gray eyes looks up at you.
“Please do.” she smiles at you. “I’m Polly.”
You sit gratefully and return her smile. The other girls seem to sink into themselves a little bit. You wrack your brain for a conversation starter.
“How has your first day been so far?” More silence.
Polly clears her throat, her smile seeming a little more forced. “Great, thanks.” She glances at the other girls. “We all feel very welcomed.” If possible, her already pale face grows paler.
“That’s…” your sentence is cut short as the table of girls turn their heads in unison toward the entrance of the great hall, where Eli has just made an appearance.
Eli scans the room before his eyes come to rest on you, and you feel your neck growing warm under his gaze. Pointedly, you turn your attention back to Polly.
“What’s your class schedule?” Polly answers your question without flourish, and you find yourself very aware of a pair of green eyes that seem to be glued to you.
Determined to ignore Eli, you focus all of your attention on Polly. So much attention, in fact, that you startle when your arm is jostled by someone sitting down next to you, and turn in shock to see Eli sitting in very close proximity.
“Tabitha,” he dips his head, but his eyes never leave yours. You turn away, muttering a nonchalant, “Hey.” The girls at your table don’t meet your gaze, as you see each of them has turned their full attention to the boy next to you. What is so special about Eli Vance? Apart from the dark hair and bedroom eyes, and the sense when he’s focused on you that you are the only person in the room, there’s nothing special about him, right?
You resume eating your lackluster lunch, as Eli speaks. “Slumming it, are we, dear?” You look up to see that he’s addressed you. Before you can ask him what in Merlin’s beard he means, that smoke and velvet voice continues. “You of all people don’t actually think Congress passed the Desegregation Law in the hopes that we’d all make nice like good little children, do you? Or has daddy not shared about the murmuring in the ranks?”
You are torn between being shocked by his forwardness, offended at the tone of voice he used when describing your father, and melting in your seat at the hope that he’ll just keep talking to you.
“What are you talking about?” You’re pleased that your voice sounds as put out as intended.
Eli eyes you shrewdly. “Mmm, I don’t think so.” What? “If you really want to know, show up.” He produces a folded piece of paper out of thin air and places it on the table next to you. Can Necromancers even conjure? This was news to you.
Eli casually gets up with his tray and moves to join a table of pale boys further down the hall. You pick up the paper and shove it into the pocket of your robes before depositing your tray in the bin.
One last glance over your shoulder shows you that Eli has watched your progress, and when your eyes meet, he winks. More flustered than you would like to admit, you hurry to Levitation class.
You don’t get a chance to look at the note privately until after the day’s classes are through, and you’re back up in your dorm room. As you shrug out of your robe, you open the two notes left on your desk by the message elves.
Your father’s voice erupts from the first one:
“Tabs, we need to speak with you as soon as possible. Please contact us when you have a moment.”
Okay. It wasn’t quite his ‘you’re in trouble, miss’ tone, but there was definitely something serious in his voice. You try to figure out what he could need to talk about since you saw him only yesterday, as you open the second note.
“Hey babe. I’ve missed you. Meet me in the common room after class? We can go someplace private… to catch up?” You cringe at Dace’s use of the word, babe, but have missed him, too, and a little, er, recreational activity with your boyfriend sounds pretty good right about now.
Finally, and with fingers slightly trembling, you open the note from Eli.
“Tabitha, if you really are interested in the truth about… what’s going on, meet us the flying field after class. We can take some brooms out, beyond the range of prying ears.”
You look between the three now-silent notes, debating with yourself.
A. Contact your father. His message did have an urgent quality to it.
B. Go down to the common room to find Dace. Your head is always a little clearer after kissing. Plus, you can see if his interactions with the Necromancers have been as strange as yours.
C. Head out to the flying field. Eli did say ‘we’, so it’s not like you’d be alone with him.
D. Find Drusilla. You can discuss the weirdness of the day, and get her always pragmatic opinion.