I didn’t expect the onslaught that I got when Sienna and I had returned home that night. Declan was furious with me, and un-rightfully so. I hadn’t stepped two feet into the house before he attacked me. “What the hell is the matter with you?”
“Excuse me?” I asked, raising a brow.
“Declan,” Sienna began but he silenced her as well.
“Bringing my sister, who you’ve known for a day, at this hour of the night, to watcher knows where!?” He had grabbed my arm and glared at me.
I yanked my arm out of his grip forcefully and stole a glance at Sienna. “We weren’t doing anything wrong. She was showing me around town.”
“We lost track of time!” Sienna grabbed his arm and forced him to look at her. “Leave him alone, Dec. He hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s Lucas’ grandson for crying out loud.”
“That’s more reason for me to watch him. One wrong move and he can ruin everything!” Declan practically growled.
“Ruin everything?” It was Sienna’s turn to glare. “You mean ruin your chances of being chosen as Lucas’ successor? Oh please, no one can even come close to you in the Lucas kiss ass department!”
“Get the hell to bed!” Declan demanded. “This has nothing to do with you!”
“It was my idea!” She shouted back just as forcefully. “It’s ok Alistair. Go to bed, Declan won’t be bothering you.” I cautiously took a step back, eyeing the two figures. “Go on,” She urged.
I didn’t know what happened between Sienna and Declan the night before, because as soon as I slid into the sleeping bag, I fell asleep. It was an uncomfortable slumber, and not because I was on the floor. No, it was because I wasn’t home, with my dad. Looking at the blue walls and hardwood floors beneath me, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of dread wash over me. I didn’t want to be here. I didn’t want to fight with Declan, I didn’t want to help Sienna escape Moonlight Falls. I didn’t want any responsibilities. I wanted to be home, sprawled out on my bed, reading the newest manga and video chatting with my girlfriend. Ex-girlfriend. Whatever.
“Ally, good morning,” Sienna’s sweet voice reached my ears. I didn’t look up at her, I didn’t want to see her, or any of this for that matter. “What’s up? You didn’t correct me for calling you Ally.”
I looked up at the girl. “I’m just tired.”
“I somehow don’t believe you, but I’ll let it go. I just want to apologize for dragging you around with me last night. I kind of thought that Declan wouldn’t get mad if I was with you, but after finding out about you being Lucas’ grandson, he might just hate you.”
I let a bitter laugh escape my lips. “I don’t stand in his way at all. My goal isn’t to stay here. It’s to return home. I find my siblings, do whatever Xerxes says I have to do and then go home. Simple as that.”
“What about Damian?” Her voice was low and frightening. “Are you just going to let him keep attacking us, demeaning us like we’re nothing but lowly creatures?”
“I don’t care about that. Whatever I may have thought yesterday is gone. I realized that I don’t belong here. You guys are just using me to get to a place where you won’t be accepted. Declan may be a friggin jerk but at least he’s the only real one here. He’s yelled at me to my face.”
“Wait, Alistair, what’s wrong? Is it because Declan yelled at you yesterday?”
“What are you two talking about? Conspiring against me?” It was Declan, just the guy I wanted to see. Not. Sienna glared at him. “Si, relax, I’m just kidding. I realize that I may have overreacted last night and I apologize, to both of you. But, the one thing I won’t take back Alistair is my rules. Know where you belong. I’m the one paying the bills on this place, and you’re staying in my house. So have some respect.”
“Respect? He was being respectful, you’re the one who attacked him. Stop making him feel like he’s an outsider! If you keep saying things like, you don’t belong here, than you’re no better than Damian is. I don’t get it, just be nice,” Sienna scolded her brother.”
“Sienna, am I wrong? I can see it on your face Alistair that you’re miserable being in this place. You don’t want to be here, and it’s obvious why. You don’t belong here.”
“Damnit Dec-” Sienna began but I raised my hand to silence her.
“He’s right. I don’t want to be here. I want to be home where I know that I’m accepted. I don’t want to ever feel this out of place again. Nothing you say or do is going to make me comfortable. I don’t ever see myself adjusting here.” I looked at her before continuing, knowing only she’d understand. “We’re from different worlds.”
“So?” She asked weakly. “What does that mean? That we’re different? We’re not so different Alistair. I promise you, that we’re not. I don’t know much about your life, but I can just feel it, the pain, it’s what I’ve been living with for years.”
“Enough with this,” Miles said sluggishly. “We need to be at Lucas’ place for our magic lessons. Alistair is coming along, so get dressed.”
I stood up from my seat, anger rising within myself. She was wrong. We weren’t the same, and we’d never understand each other. She was fighting a battle much different than mine. Without a word, I left the room to get changed.
How did I find myself sitting in a stuffy basement listening to my grandfather lecture about metaphysical magic? Magic lessons, included me. It wasn’t as if I was clueless, I knew exactly what he was talking about, in fact, it was what Ethan and I were working on before he left. My father had advised me to study from the spellbook at least once a week, and I had, often finding myself screwing up in regular school, but it was all worth it, at least in my eyes. But, I had just graduated from high school. I didn’t want to be put back into school, especially not during my summer vacation. I fought the urge to groan when Lucas instructed me to sit down. He hadn’t mentioned Ethan at all, and I was having a hard time figuring out how he was coping. It seemed like he didn’t care, but was that the truth? “Does anyone know why this spell is different from the others?” Lucas asked. Three hands shot in the air, and I’ll give you a hint, none of them were mine. “Alistair, how about you?”
I stared up at my grandfather, boredom written across my features. “It’s because of the way you cast it.”
“That’s what I thought,” Lucas murmured. “No, that’s wrong.” I stared at him in disbelief. Ethan had taught me that the fire spell and the magma spell differed because of the way you casted it. Magma was much more intense and it flowed when you infused power, and the right positioning of the wand. I could see a small smirk play on his lips. “Ethan is not always right.”
“I don’t understand.”
“The magma spell increases in intensity with each bit of magic you infuse into it. But, the way you cast it makes no difference. It is different from other spells because of the elixir that must be created to go along with it. If the caster does not ingest the resistance elixir and the magma spell backfires they could burn alive within seconds. It isn’t a spell meant to scare people, it’s one used when you want to get the job done,” Declan said from his seat next to me.
Fucking know it all. “Correct, Declan.” Lucas placed the marker down and looked at us expectantly. “Now that we finally have an even number of you guys, we can do something a little more interesting. A group project.”
“Group project?” Sienna frowned. “Alistair hasn’t even been here for a full week.”
“We don’t have time to waste with magic,” Declan said.
“Teacher’s pet.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m just saying that it may be hard for Alistair to follow along.”
“It won’t be. I already know that Ethan equipped him with the right skills.”
“But, he got a simple question wrong,” Declan said incredulously.
Lucas only answered with an all-knowing smirk. “There’s a reason for that, but it’s something that only concerns Alistair. Now, I will be assigning partners. So, Sienna you will be working with Miles and Alistair will be working with Declan.”
I could feel Declan’s glare on me, but I kept telling myself that I would be gone soon and all I had to do was tolerate the guy.
“Your partners are non negotiable. There’s four of you, so I don’t see why it should even be a problem to begin with,” Lucas said.
“No one likes the new kid,” I scoffed, glancing at Declan.
“I like you,” Sienna said from across the room. “And so does Miles.” Miles nodded in agreement. At times I felt like he was Sienna’s shadow. I wondered if he agreed with everything she said.
“In life, there will be times that you’re in disagreeable situations. If you don’t work together, then you won’t accomplish anything. This is going to be the final test to see who exactly gets to take control of Moonlight Falls. I’m sure they informed you of that, correct Alistair?”
“They have, but I want no part in that. I just want to go home when I’m done training. I’m sorry, but I just don’t belong here,” I answered.
Lucas picked up his marker and began to write again. “Just like your father, itching to experience life out of magic. You’re one of us, whether you want to be or not. I’m not evaluating your skills to succeed me. I’m helping you simply because I want to see how well my son has taught you.”
I felt like sarcastically thanking him for his concern, but I didn’t have the desire to argue with Declan. Not now at least. “What do we have to do?”
“I’m not going to tell you,” Lucas said simply.
“What?” I nearly choked on my chewing gum. “Then how are we supposed to do it?”
“Magic is something you inherently know. That’s why you were born as a witch and not a human. It’ll become clear to you soon enough and that will be the deciding factor. You’ll know. There is no due date on this assignment. Now, I will give you guys time to work together.”
“Why are you so focused on something that you know is supposed to come natural to you?” He asked.
“Natural?” I nearly laughed at him. “Natural for you. Even when I was studying with my dad, this never felt natural.”
“It’s because you’re half human,” He stated.
I tried to ignore him, but I felt his gaze on me once again. “What?” I asked in annoyance.
“Why are you really here?”
“To find my siblings,” I stated.
“Is that really it?” He asked.
“What the hell are you getting at?” I lowered my eyes. “My dad died trying to find my siblings. I need to finish that job.”
“Lessons are done for the day, you guys are free to go and do what you want.” As I stood to leave, Lucas reached out a hand to stop me. “Except for you two. I want to have a chat.”
“Sir,” Declan nodded towards him.
“I suspect some hostility between the two of you,” Lucas said. “I will not stand for that. There is nothing more important that working together. So many conflicts could have been avoided if people just helped each other out, rather than going rogue.”
“It’s not like that,” Declan said. “I can’t hate someone I barely know. These past few days have just been filled with a few misunderstandings.”
“Mr. Gray?” Lucas turned to me. I felt terrible. He wasn’t even acknowledging me as his grandson. He sure as hell didn’t feel like my grandfather either. Grandpa Noah, and he couldn’t have been more different.
I forced a smile and lied through my teeth. “It’s just a misunderstanding about his sister. But I can assure you Declan, that I have a girlfriend back home.”
“No hard feelings man.” Declan extended his hand but I could see the malice behind his eyes.
“Declan, take Alistair to the Vault,” Lucas said suddenly. “There are a few files that I think he should see.” Lucas reached for his back pocket and handed a key over to Declan. “They should be in the first draw.”
Declan looked at me hesitantly but nodded, taking the key. “One more thing Mr. Gray. I have read this.” He handed me back the album that Xerxes had made for me. “I think some one on one training is in order. You’ll stay an hour later than everyone else when we have meetings.” I could only nod meekly.
“Finally, geez you guys took forever!” Sienna complained. “Did you get in trouble for something?”
“No, it was just a chat,” Declan answered calmly.
“I was hoping we could get some food,” Miles suggested. “We can show Alistair our favorite place to eat.”
“Actually, Lucas wants me to take him to the vault. I think the festival is being held in the park right behind it. Once we check out what Lucas left, I’ll take him over there for food. Do you guys want to come?” Declan asked.
“Something tells me that Lucas doesn’t want us along for the ride. You guys go on ahead. We’ll be at the usual spot. We’ll see you when you get home.” She hugged her brother and began walking in the direction of the restaurant, arm linked with Miles.
The car ride was silent, and awkward. Neither of us really wanted to say anything to the other, until finally, I spoke up. “Sienna told me about how much it means to you to succeed Lucas.”
“Hmmph.” He grunted in response. “Moonlight Falls is my home. I want to be a part of restoring it to it’s former glory.”
I pretended like I didn’t know about the hardships Damian caused, I pretended that I didn’t know about Sienna’s want to leave, I pretended as if Sienna and Patrick weren’t a thing… I looked out the window, taking in the beauty of Moonlight Falls. I almost couldn’t believe that this was where all the heartbreak was happening. “I won’t stand in your way.”
“I meant it when I said I wanted no part in Lucas’ legacy. I’m a Gray, not a Nair. I just want to find my siblings. You can have the leadership role. I don’t know why you think that because I’m related to Lucas that I’ll automatically get it. I don’t want it, and a leader who doesn’t want it never turns out to be a good one.”
I stole a glance at him and noticed his pensive expression. He was staring at his folded hands. “Not a Nair hm? You’d choose being a Gray over the power and status?”
“Of course I would. Being a Gray means so much more to me than power. It’s who I am. It’s who I want my kids to be. Listen man.” I fiddled with the zipper on my jacket, avoiding his gaze. “With power comes responsibility. If you think you can really step up and lead all of the mages to peace, than so be it. It’s all yours.”
The car stopped and I felt a pressure removed from my shoulders. Declan smirked before whispering, “Remember what Lucas said? We can’t talk about your relation to him in public.” I held my mouth in shock. He chuckled. Still whispering, “I used a spell in the taxi. Only we could understand what was being said. Next time be more careful.”
I stared in awe at him. There was so much about magic that Ethan hadn’t taught me. At the end of the day, I was a Gray, and there was no doubt in my mind that Declan was more powerful than I thought he was.