An interesting thing has started popping up the last couple of days. I haven’t been napping during the day when I return from work, but since I’m going to bed at the normal time, I’m sleeping well through the night. Strangely enough, I’m not feeling that tired while writing, either, and that was evident last night when when I stayed at the computer from about seven forty-five until eleven-ten, when The Americans was wrapping up and going to black, finishing the first scene of Chapter Thirty-four.
And finished it is.
I cranked through almost eleven hundred words in that time, and that’s the most I’ve written in a while at night, without being fueled by coffee. Needless to say, I’m kinda proud of myself. Maybe I’m shaking off whatever funk I’ve been under of late, or maybe it’s the fact that I’m within sight of the end of this novel and I want it to end on a good, high note. Though you know it’s gonna be sad, you still want it to be good.
So, this thing the C Levels have worked up for Annie and Kerry–what is it? That’s a good question. And I have an answer. But first, more history, you might say–
This excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
“And what exactly was that?” After hearing the unflattering portrayal of the current D Level boys, Annie felt a wave of satisfaction that she hadn’t tried out for the coven race team.
Alex chose to speak. “When we realized that we were going to be the C Levels this year, it left us a bit worried—mostly because we knew you two were going to be the B Levels. That had us just as little—worried.”
Kerry scrunched up his brow as he looked at Alex. “Why would you be worried?”
She turned to him. “You really don’t know what others have said about you.” Alex turned to Annie. “Either of you.”
Annie shook her head. “We never heard anything when we were A Levels: we were in The Fishbowl, and our reputation wasn’t something we discussed with anyone in Advanced Spells.” She wasn’t telling the complete truth—they were aware that among their own level there was some talk about them surrounding their entry into Advanced Spells as well as their first group test in Basic Self Defense and Weapons. And they not only knew about being the Lovey Dovey Couple, but did little to stop that gossip—
Way back in the A Level book, about the time Annie hugged Kerry while they were both covered in zombie entrails, she thought about Helena’s words concerning having a reputation, and begun reasoning that the looks of shock on the faces of some of her fellow A Levels was a good thing. They knew about their whole Lovey Dovey Couple rep because there were times when it made them cringe, but beyond that they never much heard of what the school, or their own coven for that matter, thought of them.
The main reason for them not hearing anything is, naturally, they don’t care. Talk all the shit you want behind our backs, we’re not listening. And since Annie kicked that one dude’s ass during a judgement, it’s likely they won’t talk shit to their faces, either.
So what did their coven and school think?
It was Jario’s turn to enlighten them. “In this coven, you guys were—” He almost seemed as if he didn’t want to say the word. “Scary. We knew you were in Advanced Spells, which was something no A Level had done. The word was that you were crafting spells that were a level or two higher, and that you were doing things right away in flight that most everyone else needed time to learn. Also, we heard you were both pretty good racers—”
“That last had Darius worried.” Penny chuckled. “We even heard him say he thought one of you was going to join the team and kick him out.”
While Kerry laughed Annie felt the need to retort one of Jario’s last statement. “I never actually raced, though. Yes, we had speed trials last year, but I didn’t compete against anyone.” She stared across the table. “That was that one time with Kerry and Emma—”
“Nadine worked your time trials, though, and she was one of the minions when Kerry had his accident.” Penny knew there wasn’t any need to elaborate on that particular A Level incident. “She told me you could easily average two-fifty on the Green Line, and that you hit over three hundred klicks an hour on West End.” She lowered her voice slightly as if divulging a secret. “She also said when you were looking for Kerry that, um, time he was racing, the flight data on your broom said you topped three-fifty as you cut across the grounds—”
“That’s fast.” Alex held up her beverage glass. “That’s racing speed.”
Jario jumped in before Annie—who was trying not to look impressed by what she was hearing—could say anything. “Also, Kerry flew patrol during Day of the Dead, and you worked triage: neither of those were shabby.”
Penny nodded once. “Like we said, people knew about you two, and here we were, thinking about how we were gonna have you sharing the floor with us. It was fairly intimidating, but at the same time—we thought we could do something with this.
“We hated how we were treated when we came up from the first floor, and that treatment caused one of us to leave. Given the rumors that you guys had pretty had top proficiencies in every class—” Once more Annie and Kerry exchanged incredulous glances, surprised by what they were hearing. “—there was little chance you were going to leave, but you could end up hate being with the upper levels.”
“And we didn’t want you hating us.” Jario leaned his forearms against the table. “We didn’t know if you were going to become friend, but we sure didn’t want you to be enemies.”
Annie and Kerry were Scary. Hey, that kinda rhymes! And this is the first time we’ve learned about Speed Demon Annie on a broom: now we know how she can zoom along at three hundred kilometers an hour and not blink an eye. And they were out there, as A Levels, getting their hands dirty. But it’s the classes and other sorts of bad assery that got them noticed. You have to love that Darius was afraid he was gonna get bounced from the team to make room for these two, and that’s probably something he should keep in mind for next racing season as well:
“Well—” Annie brushed a strand of hair from her face. “I’m happy how things turned out.”
“So am I.” Kerry looked at Kahoku and smiled. “It’s good we got to know you.”
“Yes, over Starbucks.” Annie actually giggled. “That first time Alex invited us in, that was really when we knew we’d be friends.”
Penny reached over and patted Annie’s hand. “I think I hoped for it that first time Alex and me met you guys in Berlin, but that day in Starbucks: that was—” She looked down for a moment as she looked down. “Magical.” They all laughed at the in-joke, and as soon as they grew quiet Penny got to the core of what she’d wanted to say. “You guys are gonna be the C Levels next year, and all the A Levels are coming up—”
“Yeah, I heard that.” Both Annie and he were told by Professor Semplen earlier that day that they’d lost only one student this school year, and theirs was the only coven that had all their A Levels moving up to the next level. “We’re gonna have a full floor.”
“You’re gonna have five kids from five different countries from four different continents, and all of them from Normal backgrounds.” Alex shook her head. “They’re gonna feel what it’s like to be outside the fishbowl for the first time, and—”
Penny smirked. “And they’re gonna have you guys to show them what it’s like to hang with the big kids. There are good things, though: we heard that Torres is coming alone with transformation magic, and Juanico and Piuugattuk are supposed to be pretty good sorceresses—”
“No supposing: they are.” Annie knew this from her times as one of Helena’s A Level minions. “They have considerable talent.”
“Same with Torres.” Kerry sat back and stuffed his hands into his jacket pockets. “She’s a little more advanced than the others in the class.”
Alex turned to Kerry. “Yazdi and Couture are supposed to be good fliers, too. Professor Semplen is already talking about getting them to try out for the B Team.” She nodded towards him. “Maybe you can help out there.”
“Anyway . . .” Penny moved forward in her chair so she could glance at both her friends. “Make them feel welcome; help them become part of the coven; be their friends. And when you come to the end of the next level—” A bright smile slowly spread across her face. “Make sure you make this message the most important you teach them.”
Everyone likes to make the “magical” joke. I wonder if Isis has a unicorn the kids can get pictures with, instead of one of those squid-things hiding in the outer walls so they can feel extra magical. And post the pictures on Facebook, where everyone will argue about it being a photoshop job. Because.
There you have it: five A Levels coming up next school year, and two kids to show them how to fit in and make them feel welcome. And if anyone could do that, they can, because, in a way, Annie and Kerry are the best examples of their coven. It’s going to be an interesting C Level.
It’s also time to start saying goodbye to the school. And in the next scene, that’s exactly what happens . . .