The Indigo Spell

Page 63

That made me feel even worse. She always looked so worn out lately, and all these things she was doing for me were only intensifying the situation. But no matter how many arguments I made, she refused to listen. I left her classroom feeling upset and confused. I needed to vent to someone. Obviously, my choices were limited in this matter. I texted Adrian: V attacked a real witch last night. Ms. T won't protect herself. She's only worried about me. As usual, I received a quick response: Wanna talk about it?

Did I? I wasn't the type to sit and analyze my feelings, but I did actually want company. I knew I shouldn't spend more time around Adrian than I had to when my feelings for him were already so mixed. But he was the only person I wanted to talk to. I have to cast some spells for her now. Want to pick me up and come along?

My answer was a smiley face.

She'd told me to go somewhere remote, so I picked Lone Rock Park again. When Adrian and I arrived, it was smoldering in the late-afternoon heat, and I found it hard to believe Christmas was only a couple weeks away. I'd dressed in layers, just like before, and took off my Amberwood hoodie as Adrian and I trekked across the rocky terrain. He took off a coat as well, and I had to do a double take when I saw what he was wearing underneath.

"Really?" I asked. "Your AYE shirt?"

He shot me a grin. "Hey, it's a perfectly good shirt. I think I'm going to see if I can start a chapter on Carlton's campus." Carlton was the college he took art classes at. It was pretty small and didn't even have fraternities or sororities.

"A chapter?" I scoffed. "Don't you mean the only chapter?"

"Gotta start somewhere, Sage."

We reached the same spot where I'd practiced with Ms. Terwilliger, and I tried to ignore the scorch marks on the ground. Adrian had decided to turn this into a desert picnic and had brought along a basket containing a blanket and a thermos of lemonade. "I figured we could stop at Pies and Stuff on the way back since I know how much you like that place," he explained, deadpan, as he poured me a cup. "Hopefully this'll tide you over after the spell."

"I wish this was over," I said, running my hand over the weathered leather of Ms. Terwilliger's latest book. It was an old handwritten one called Summonings and Conjurations. "I hate living with the uncertainty, worrying that Veronica's lurking behind every corner. My life's already complicated enough without witches coming after me."

Adrian, face serious, stretched out on the blanket and propped his head up with his elbow. "If she's even coming after you."

I sat down cross-legged, careful to keep a lot more distance than in the Velvet Suite. "Ms. Terwilliger won't listen to me. She just keeps stressing over me."

"Let her," he suggested. "I mean, I totally get why you're worried about her. I am too. But we have to accept that she knows what she's talking about. She's been involved with this stuff a lot longer than we have."

I couldn't help but smile at that. "Since when are you involved with magic?"

"Since I started looking after you and being all manly and brave."

"Funny, I don't remember it that way." I worked to keep a straight face. "If you think about all the rides I gave you, me getting you into college . . . well, it kind of seems like I'm looking after you."

He leaned toward me. "I guess we look after each other."

We locked eyes and smiled, but there was nothing sensuous about it. There was no trick here, no sly move on Adrian's part to advance on me. And there was no fear on my part. We were just two people who cared about each other. It reminded me of what had initially drawn us together - before all the romantic complications. We connected. Against all reason, we understood each other, and - as he said - we looked out for each other. I'd never had a relationship quite like that with anyone and was surprised at how much I valued it.

"Well, then, I guess I'd better get to work." I glanced back down at the book. "I haven't had a chance to look at what she wants me to do. It doesn't sound like a defensive book."

"Maybe you're graduating from fireballs to lightning bolts," Adrian suggested. "I bet it'd be a lot like throwing ninja stars. Except, well, you could incinerate people."

When I found the page Ms. Terwilliger had marked, I read the title aloud: "Callistana Summoning."

"What's callistana mean?" asked Adrian.

I scrutinized the word, making sure I was deciphering the elaborate script correctly. "I don't know. It's kind of like the Greek word for 'beautiful,' but not quite. The spell's subtitle is 'For protection and advanced warning.'"

"Maybe it's some kind of shield, like the one Jackie had," suggested Adrian. "An easier one."

"Maybe," I agreed. I wouldn't mind a little bit of invulnerability.

I opened up the bag Ms. Terwilliger had given me. Inside, I found dragon's blood resin, a small bottle of gardenia oil, branches of juniper berries, and a glittering smoky quartz crystal, rutilated with lines of gold. Although she'd provided the ingredients, the spell's directions required that I use and measure them in a very specific way, which made sense. As usual, it was the caster's work that powered the magic. Adrian sat up and read over my shoulder.

"It doesn't really say what happens when you cast it," he pointed out.

"Yeah . . . I'm not really excited about that part." Presumably, the caster was supposed to just know what she was doing. If this was some kind of protective shield, then maybe the shield would materialize around me, just as it had for Ms. Terwilliger. "Well, no point in wasting time. We'll find out soon enough."

Adrian chuckled as he watched me walk over to a clear piece of land. "Am I the only one amazed that you now perform magic blindly?"

"No," I assured him. "You're not the only one."

I had to pluck the juniper berries off one by one and make a small ring with them, saying, "Fire and smoke," each time I placed one on the ground. When I finished, I anointed each berry with a drop of the oil and recited, "Breath and life." Inside the circle, I lit a small pile of the resin and rested the smoky quartz on top of it. Then I stepped back and reread the spell, committing the words and gestures to memory. Once I was satisfied I knew it, I handed it to Adrian and shot him a hopeful look.

"Wish me luck," I said.

"You make your own luck," he replied.

I tried not to roll my eyes and turned toward the circle. I recited the spell's complex Greek incantation, pointing in the four cardinal directions as I spoke, per the book's instructions. It was startling how quickly the magic welled up within me, filling me with that blissful power. I spoke the last words, pointing at the juniper circle as I did. I felt the magic pour from me and into the quartz. Then I waited for something to happen.

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