A magical love story, about two unlikely people who form an enchanting bond. Then agin, things change.
Chapter 1. No Place like Home
Annabelle’s car bumped and slid along the country road. The weather was miserable, fat droplets of sleet descended from the skies like paratroopers.
I ran my hand through my messy black hair, gently toying with it out of boredom. I was dressed in a white, fitted, button-down shirt with an old pair of jeans and my red converse trainers. My clothes were comfortable, I however was not.
Berrystone was located along the beautiful shores of Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada; The polar opposite to my New York lifestyle, a small town as opposed to a busy city. I felt like I had a split personality, half of me was thrilled by the move, a chance to see you things, meet you people…to escape. The other half of me was resentful; my life had been jostled and bothered enough in the past year.
I had begun to loathe New York, the unavoidable traffic, disgusting manners, the school I went to, and the people I grew up with. I was nobody, an outsider.
“Tristan,” my mom’s voice had been high and giddy. “You’ll love it there!”- That had been her adopted credo about the move for the past few weeks. It wasn’t the sharing of a hope; it was the statement of a fact. I would love it there.
My mother was already at the house preparing things, her obsessive-compulsive personality had to make everything ‘just-so’ for when we got there.
My sister, Annabelle was driving me there. She had made it perfectly clear she was not happy about having to cart her little brother around, and therefore most of the car journey had been in rigid silence.
The book in my hand slid to the floor, my mind flexed and caught it on its descent, suspending it inches away from my feet. Whoops. I jerked forward and quickly grabbed the book, hoping Annabelle hadn’t noticed.
“Tristan!” her voice was shrill and sharp, causing my heart to start dead for a second, “You know we’re not supposed to do magic anymore” her voice had now taken on a condescending tone, as if I were a six year old, not a sixteen year old. I remained silent; the car came to a halt in front of our house.
The townhouse was pretty, made of brick it stood thinly pressed between more townhouses, its black paint standing out strikingly against the bright colors of the others.
I speed-walked up the garden path, ignoring the roses and climbing ivy, while trying to keep as dry as possible, the front door was unlocked. The inside was warmer, much more welcoming then the harsh black outside. The walls were a soft cream, accented with mute browns and blacks from various picture frames. The staircase was finely polished oak, with a cream carpet lying comfortably upon it.
I ran up three flights of stairs, passing my parents room, my sister’s room and the bathroom and up to the attic. I loved my new room, it was closed off and peaceful, the only source of solar light was the skylight. It looked busy when I first walked in, cardboard boxes half un-packed, and pieces of my life piled to the rafters on my bed. It looked busy, but in truth I knew that once I was settled it would be much more sparse, much more peaceful, much more me.
My bathroom was the floor below, shared with Annabelle…I could almost see the tirade of make-up and perfume bottles already. My laptop was already set up, standing pride of place upon my desk, a thick internet wire running into the base.
“You like it?” came a familiar voice, Mom…I hadn’t even heard her come up the stairs.
“Yeah, I love it” I explained, sweeping up some of my clothes and carrying them over to the wardrobe, “I should be done unpacking in a jiffy”
“No Magic, I mean it”
“ I know” I sighed, rolling my eyes.
“Tristan,” my mom was the kind of woman who’s voice began to whine to prove her point, “you know I’d let you if I had the choice. It’s hard for the rest of us too you know?” I knew this; it had been drilled into my head over and over for the past six months. My mom looked a lot like me, the same raven black hair except her’s flowed gracefully at her lower back. I had her cheekbones and skin-tone, but I had my dad’s nose.
She swept out of the room quicker than she had appeared, leaving behind the smell of Chanel no.5.
As I unpacked, I couldn’t help but think about tomorrow’s daunting task. My new school, Berrystone High, the nerves inside my stomach had taken hold quickly but effectively, my legs became jelly as I sat at my desk. Great, just great. NOW the nerves kick in.
My laptop whirred to life, the fans inside breathing easily as my fingers danced along the keys. I checked my email, three new messages: One from Tobias and one from my grandmother.
“Tristan! You haven’t been online in a week dude, what’s going on? Email back ASAP, the gang’s worried. Wubu2? Tobias.”
—Tobias was one of the few friends’ I’d made in an online chat room when I was about fourteen.
My Grandmother wrote,
“Dear, Tristan…Tabitha is doing fine, I’m sure you miss her, I’ll be sending her along once I get the word from you you’re all settled in.”
by sending, she meant magically bringing her to me. Mum was going to throw a fit.
“I’ll also be sending a cherry pie for you, I miss our cooking together. The Traveler’s are headed down to Florida, and then up to Canada. I hope you’ve been practicing your magic…your mother may have rejected her’s but I expect better from you.
The call of the gypsies was one my Grandmother had adopted nearly three years ago.
I sighed at the idea, it sounded OK on paper…but in reality, even she had no idea how complicated things were.
I swiftly typed a reply to Tobias before continuing with unpacking. My books, the hundreds of them were soon in my bookcases, which also held my DVD’s, trinkets and various random pieces. The more I tried to forget about tomorrow, the more it seemed to make me nervous. I’d make no friends…I knew that for sure. I was too mature for my age, I always thought things through, I always saw the “what if’s” and I preferred to have conversations about literature, than about the latest celebrity botched Botox. I would try though, I would make a conscious effort to make friends, and it couldn’t hurt to try.
My room now resembled a semi-normal appearance, there were still a few boxes to be unpacked and put away, but those…like the friends I would try to make, were tomorrow’s problem.
My sleep was punctured and random, I kept waking up and going back to sleep, until finally, at seven in the morning, I pulled my quilt off. I took in a sharp breath of air as I stood upon my floor, it was freezing. I climbed up onto my bed and opened my skylight; poking my head outside…the cause of the cold was revealed. It had snowed through the night, and not the type of snow I was used to. New York snow was gone within hours; this snow was about a foot deep and covered everything. The crystal snow lay there indolently. It was completely oblivious to the inconvenience it caused the world around it, but its spectral beauty compensated for its lack of manners.
Family breakfast was an experience; we never did that in New York. The scents of warm, buttered toast, fresh strawberries, coffee and tea filled the kitchen. Mom and dad were already sat at the table, my dad reading the “Berrystone Beacon” while Mom rapidly read her palm pilot. Annabelle was the last person to come to breakfast, her fluffy dressing gown looking like it was swallowing her rather than warming her. Her blonde hair was flung into a messy clip as bags big enough to travel to Europe formed under her eyes.
“I didn’t sleep at all,” her voice was woundingly bitter, “its ridiculous.”
“Yes, because you need your beauty sleep…you need all the help you can get.” I verbally attacked, mom and dad were trying their best, and all she could do was moan. Add that to my nerves, and I was not a person to be trifled with this morning.
Her eyes burned at me, but she let it drop, sinking into her chair she began to down a cup of coffee.
The remainder of breakfast was in near silence, a few words back and forth across the table once and a while, before silence continued. I played with my food; my nerves had sapped me of all appetite. Mom didn’t even bother to encourage me to eat; she was too busy already clearing the dishes away.
The house was nice and comfortable, a sizeable kitchen complete with room for dining, a spacious lounge, decorated once again discreetly by my parents. I looked at the pictures on the various tables and upon the walls. One of me at Disneyland with Snow White, One of Annabelle at her sweet sixteenth, one of mom and dad on their honey moon in Mexico, it felt weird to see them with tequila shots in their hands.
I couldn’t put it off any longer, after getting washed and dressed I left the house after a quick ‘Goodbye’ and made my way to my dreaded fate.
The snow was still falling, obviously not as heavy as last night, a light dusting which made me smile. The bright yellow school bus waited for me at the end of our street, its canary yellow dulled as my vision was obscured by the snow. The bus was a lot warmer than outside, I shook automatically as I boarded, flakes of cold flying from my hair and body and splashing a few people sitting down. I mouthed a ‘sorry’ before finding a seat near the back.
“Jenny, Jenny Lawson,” she sat herself down beside me before continuing, “You looked like you could use someone to talk to. Tristan Lancaster, right?” she asked rhetorically. How does she know my name?
I turned my body to face her more fully, she was pretty. Deep red hair, obviously a dye job…but it accented her slightly tanned skin and chocolate brown eyes well. She reminded me of a hippie slightly, her clothes seemed random, bright colors with neutral colors, and an assortment of jewelry completed the look.
“Yeah that’s right” I sounded so nervous.
“Please to meet you” my hand was suddenly in hers and was being shaken vigorously, “We were told you were coming. You’re in my registration class” Phew, at least I’ll know someone.
“What subjects are you taking?”
“Oh, I’m taking English, Culinary, Psychology and Drama, how about you?” she was interested in me, and I was interested in her. My nerves began to wane a little as we spoke.
“I think I’m in your English, Drama and Culinary classes!” her voice stretched an octave higher than before, she was so eager.
“What a relief, I’m glad I’ll at least know someone here.” I confessed, my cheeks blushing slightly.
“Don’t be nervous, we’re a friendly bunch…well most of us” she seemed unsure as to whether she should continue or not, I waited expectantly, “Some people aren’t friendly, you know the type? The one’s that think they control everything, most often blonde tramps and brainless jocks?” I laughed as an image of Annabelle flashed into my mind.
The school came into view quickly, an old building with post-modern additions made it impressive, the thick stone building molded with clear glass and iron. The gardens were extensive, the shrubs, the flowers and grass all manicured to perfection.
Jenny and I were the last ones off the bus; she waved a cheery goodbye to the bus driver before leading me through the crowd. Everyone was divided into cliques, the Goths, the Emo’s, the skater’s, the indie’s, the geeks and…the popular crowd. I recognized them immediately, they all seemed to carry an air of arrogance, and all seemed to be too well groomed. They reminded me of dogs at a show, all looking immaculate, but immaculacy was the only thing they seemed to live for.
“JENNY!” sounded a male voice, causing us to stop in our tracks.
“I wonder who that could be…” Jenny smiled coyly as she turned around; a boy about our age was running up to us.
“There’s my best girl” he said, before sweeping her into his arms and kissing her passionately, I wasn’t the only one, who noticed a few passers by had stopped still in their tracks to watch.
“Tristan,” Jenny finally broke the kiss and turned to me, one arm looped around the boy’s waist, “This is Ben.” She said his name with such pride, such undeniable affection.
“Nice to meet you.” His voice was confidant, as he shook my hand. What’s with all the manner’s here?
Ben was a few inches taller than me, and about a foot taller than Jenny, his shaggy golden hair and manly features giving him a slightly rugged appearance.
I kept my face buried in my scarf as we walked towards the main building; my black jacket drew no attention to me.
Jenny and Ben led me up the staircase, to the first floor. Our homeroom was obviously an English classroom, the walls decorated with posters of Shakespeare’s quotes and the rules of grammar. People shortly charged into the room after us, a steady thrum of noise issuing from them.
I waited like a freak show at the front desk, everyone looked at me at least three times, some simply shrugging me off as nothing more than a person, others breaking into excited, hushed whispers. A tall man dressed head to foot in tweed came into the room, silence descended like a ghost upon everyone, as the gaunt man swept over to me.
“Name?” he asked, his voice remaining a monotone.
“Tristan Lancaster” my voice was much quieter than I’d wanted it to be, my nerves were now sapping me of my vocal ability.
The tweed man nodded once before handing me a piece of paper, “Timetable.” He explained at my puzzled expression.
“I am Mr. Percival, you will report here in the mornings and after lunch to be registered.” His voice never wavered from it’s unemotional state, “That one beside Jenny” he said, pointing near Jenny and the window, before turning his back to me and walking around his desk to his chair. People started brazenly at me as I walked to the back, my nerves were now causing my hands to shake. I longed for the chance to change myself into an ant, and crawl away un-noticed.
After the register was done, the class once again embroiled themselves in their conversations, Mr. Percival pulling out a battered paperback from his briefcase and putting his feet upon the desk.
“He’s like that with everyone, don’t worry about it” Jenny assured me, her warm smile gently dimpling her cheeks. Ben had pulled his chair over to us, holding her hand they began to ask the questions all curious people ask.
“So, where did you move from?” Ben probed.
“New York” I ignored Ben and Jenny’s perfectly synchronized mouth drop, “It’s not that big of a deal, I’m more of a quiet person. The big bad city isn’t really that quiet.”
“Well you’ll get plenty of quiet here, what do your parents do?” Jenny chimed her high voice quick with expectation.
“My dad is a lawyer; he just got a job at Bedford and Bremmer. My mom’s a nurse; she’s working up in the hospital” I was fully aware that not only Jenny and Ben were listening to me; others had stopped talking and had turned to face me.
The bell rang thankfully; I really didn’t want to continue with this cross examination. Hmm, English first.
“This is our English class” Jenny explained, just as I was about to stand. Most people left, about five to six stayed, myself included.
The rest of our class appeared in no time at all, these people looked more studious than the pupils in my homeroom. I ducked under the desk in search of my bag, by the time I came back up with pencil case and note book in hand the rest of the class were seated.
A short fat woman with a heaving bosom and graying hair came into the room. She looked like one of those comical theatre directors, as her entire attire looked as if it was made out of scarves. She smiled warmly to me, and gave me a polite nod. She wasn’t going to make me stand up in front of everyone…I like her instantly.
“I’m glad to see you’ve all got your copies of Julius Caesar.” She enthused, “I trust you all did the assigned reading and now are familiar with the assassination scene” I felt myself smile. I’d covered Julius Caesar inside and out at my last school.
“Jenny, could you please explain what Cassius’ motivation is for the assassination?”
“Well, Cassius’ thinks that the power of rule would go to Caesar’s head, that he would become a dictator, so I guess his key motivation is fear, combine that…” she took a breath, as if to form a sentence in her head correctly before she spoke it, “with his deep love of Rome, you see that his motivations are fear and loyalty”
“What about loyalty to his friends?” my voice was louder than I intended, people turned around to look at me, “I mean, if he truly valued loyalty as a key personality trait, he wouldn’t have betrayed his friend like he did.” Everyone waited for me to continue.
“His key motivation is really jealousy, Cassius’ cannot understand why Caesar has all the privileges and opportunities that he does, and feels jealous. He wishes to take things from Caesar, and take them by force. His key motivation is jealously, combined with an unrelenting hate.” I took a breath, my face burning hot as people stared at me.
“Tristan, that was excellent,” the teacher seemed wanting…the look that teachers get when they have discovered an astute student, when they want to expunge more, to see what the student in question is capable of. I couldn’t help but feel a little used by that look.
The class went by swiftly; we analyzed Mark Antony’s speech, why it was effective, and what effect it had.
After Psychology the bell for lunch chimed, a definite difference in movement of people, as they rushed to the cafeteria. Luckily, Ben was in my psychology class…he enjoyed sitting with me and listening to me debate with Mr. Rowan about conflicting theories.
The cafeteria was smaller than I expected, adorned with round tables and blue plastic chairs. Jenny was waving at us madly, sitting on her own at a table beside the windows. We walked over to her; I sat down as Ben once again kissed her as a greeting and sat close to her.
“How’s your first day?” Jenny was so interested in me, so very interested.
“It’s been fine, a lot better than I expected” I admitted, it was true…my mind had conjured a much more terrifying day that I had actually experienced.
“What you into?” Ben asked, it was a forced question, something just to stop an inevitable silence, but it was with good intention.
“I like to read, scratch that…I love to read.” I smiled, “writing is one of my passions…I’m a movie fan…I used to sing a little.”
“You used to?” Ben asked quizzically, “You don’t anymore? I play guitar myself” he was now interested in me as well.
“Yeah I used to a lot, but I just sorta lost my confidence when I was around fourteen.” The minute I spoke, the minute I regretted it, these people were little more than strangers…how could I let myself be so personal?
Here I was, in the middle of a strange cafeteria, trying desperately to keep a lid on my still brewing nerves while trying to talk to people, and make friends. It was beyond ridiculous, I was a good multi-tasker, but trying to multi-task two sets of conflicting emotions was extraordinarily tiring.
Jenny and Ben were engulfed in a hushed conversation beside me; did they really think I was so supremely ignorant that I didn’t know they were talking about me? EVERYONE in the room was talking about me in some form or another. The question, however, was…what were they actually saying? I’d probably been too cold, too unresponsive. Jenny didn’t seem the type to try and plot to get rid of someone, but my mind was already telling me “Yeah…you’re not welcome here.”
“We’re all in your drama class next.” Jenny told me, her constant smile not faltering what so ever.
“All of us?” Why didn’t she just say, ‘we’?
“Yeah. Me, you, Ben and Nick, the whole gang.” Jenny explained, before letting her teeth crunch a stick of celery. My heart thumped in my chest…I had become one of the gang? I decided against questioning this revelation, I’d soon find out for sure. If it was true, my mother would be so pleased. I was finally becoming ‘normal’. I hated that word. Normal was boring. Normal was safe. Normal was our way of hiding. Normal was the chains that now bound me, to this place, to this life, Normal bound my entire existence.
I sighed at how bitter I was becoming. I missed using my powers, I didn’t use them 24/7 but I didn’t neglect them either. Being a witch was fun, it entailed a monumental amount of responsibility, but being able to do anything and everything that came into my head, was a privallage I was having trouble letting go of.
The thing I wanted to let go of, was the one thing that wouldn’t leave, his malevolent eyes still stared at me in my dreams, begging me to be lost to the fear, tempting me to fall into the darkness of fear.
“Tristan?” Jenny’s hand waved in front of my face, my thought chain broken.
“Oh yeah, sorry…I was just day dreaming” I lied.
“We’ve gotta go…the bell just rang.” Jenny said in a voice as though the bell ringing would have been amazingly obvious to me. In truth…it should have been. I hadn’t heard the bell. Boy, I musta been long gone on my thought train.
Drama class took place over in the music block, in a classroom about the size of a gymnasium, complete with stage, costume racks and instruments. A grand black piano dominated the right side of the stage; it’s perfectly white teeth smiling at me as we walked in. I looked at the seats; this room must have doubled as the school’s main hall.
The seats rose away from me, a diagonal tower stretching all the way to the back wall. Jenny led us to some seats in the middle; the loner’s skulking to the back, and the popular crowd stalking to the front. What were we then? The normal people? I really did detest that word.
Miss. Moore managed to silence the class with just a clearance of her throat. Her rapid voice charged through the register, and stopped at an abrupt halt.
“Tristan Lancaster?” she seemed utterly bewildered at the new addition to her class.
“I’ll have to have a word with the receptionist, I wasn’t aware I was getting a new student.” She didn’t even seem to be talking to anyone in particular, and then she continued her race through the names.
The door to the room swept open majestically, a cool breeze rushing in from the snow.
“Mr. Hobb’s, your late.” Her voice was very matter-of-fact. I craned my neck to see who she was taking too. I hated it when tall people sat in front of you.
“I do apologize, I was doing some work over lunch for Music” his voice was fluid, and bared an English accent. He walked quickly up the stairs and sat down beside us, taking a moment to nod at Jenny and Ben…so this was Nick?
I didn’t see much of him, Ben had his back turned to me, whispering to Nick and obscuring my vision. I wasn’t really that bothered, I’d be introduced to him mostly like my Jenny, whose attention at the moment was focused entirely toward Miss. Moore.
“Okay everyone, the time hath come as the walrus once said, for vocal auditions. I need to see what you can do before we start deciding on how big of a musical we can do” Miss. Moore giggled excitedly, enjoying herself whole heartedly. I felt myself sink lower into my chair.
“Anyone, want to bite the bullet and go for it?” an arm in front of me shot up, the tall blonde girl.
“Excellent Carrie, the stage is yours.” Carrie needed no further instruction; she walked down the stairs and onto the stage with the arrogant confidence of a runway model. So confidant, so controlled. I rolled my eyes as about eight boys around me sat up in their seats to gape at her, only the four of us didn’t seem impressed. Jenny balanced her bag on her knee’s and began shuffling and doling out a pack of playing cards expertly, her hands becoming a blur. Ben was still whispering to Nick, and I was drumming my fingers.
Carrie sang a fractured version of ‘Cry me a River’, but once she was done, the boys around us thundered into applause. Their girlfriends glared at them furiously, as the rest of us were still not paying attention.
“He will!” Jenny shouted, nudging my shoulder. People turned around to look at me; even the loners at the back leaned closer to see me, and Miss. Moore’s face lit up with anticipation. I sat perfectly still, my eyes glaring solidly at Jenny. She had meant well, but she recoiled anyway.
The walk to the stage was one of the longest in my life, the hall had fell to an uncomfortable silence as I shook with nerves. How could Jenny have done this to me?
The stage was higher than anticipated, everyone was staring at me. I stood with my back straight, my feet shoulder length apart. What was I going to sing? Memory
I opened my mouth and let the sound out, changing my mouth’s shape when appropriate. I was still shaking, people kept staring at me - did they not know this song from Cats? My eyes scanned my audience, Jenny looked too excited, Ben looked interested…the boy beside him started directly into my eyes. His eyes burned with intensity; at least I got to see what he looked like. His skin was unusually pale – like mine. His hair was jet black, cut stylishly just below his ears, layered, with no visible parting and stylish gel spikes which made him look slightly university student rather then High school student.
His face was perfectly crafted, a strong jaw line, high cheekbones, a suited nose and full lips. I tried to look away, but I couldn’t. His intense eyes held me like a bewitchment, and caused me to take in more of his appearance. My singing kept going, my shakes were lessening, but my heart still pounded, most likely caused by the stranger staring blatantly at me.
His body was slender, but his tight t-shirt revealed that he had lean muscles. His legs were sprawled out in front of him, he must be tall I thought to myself as I finally stopped singing.
The class stayed silent, Jenny could barely sit still. I began to walk off stage, when it happened. The class cheered and clapped, everyone…except Carrie got to their feet and cheered for me. My heart continued to throw itself against my chest, but now I was excited rather than nervous. I smiled graciously in response and went back to my seat.
“Well done.” Jenny leaned over to me and whispered.
“Thanks, but I dunno what the big deal is.”
“The big deal is, your voice is beautiful! Have you ever heard yourself sing? You’re amazing.”
“Yeah dude, you got a helluva set of pipes” Ben laughed, clapping me on the back over Jenny’s head. I tried my best not to show how he’d knocked the wind out of me.
“Truly, that was astonishing” Nick had leaned over to talk to me, offering his hand, “Nick, Nick Hobb’s” his voice was exquisite, a refined amount of volume and control that usually took years to develop. I also loved his accent.
After class I was surrounded by a flood of people, firing questions about me and my voice.
“Where did you learn to sing like that?”
“Where are you from?”
“Why did you trade New York for this place?”
I didn’t want to talk to them, they were only interested in me because I may have had a talent, and if they knew how I had that talent they wouldn’t be so eager to get to know me. The fact that my great grandmother was a Siren would have totally freaked them out.
Jenny ushered me to Culinary, six work stations for twelve students. Jenny was already partnered with Nick, but Mr. Mayer kindly let me work with them.
“What we baking?” I asked, stealing a blackberry and eating it.
“Blackberry Pie” Jenny’s excitement had only increased in the past twenty minutes.
Nick moved swiftly around the bench, grabbing ingredients and putting them into bowls while Jenny rolled out an expert piece of dough. Nick was preparing the filling, boiling the berries and adding sugar. I moved quietly over to the mixture, grinding a few leaves of mint between my fingers and sprinkling the remains onto it.
“What are you doing?” Nick’s voice caused me to jump. He was about a foot taller than me, he towered. I felt hugely intimidated by him, as everyone in class was trying to listen in on our conversation.
“I just added some mint leaf,” he stared at me for explanation, his eyes more intense than ever. “It gives the pie an extra flavor and offers a contrast to the sweetness of the berries.”
“Fine.” His voice was incredibly different than it had been in Drama, I felt myself look at my feet, ashamed for causing this change. He noticed.
“No I mean that’s fine,” he explained, his voice changing back to the fluid refinement of our first encounter, “I was just worried that’s all, you might not have known what you were doing.”
“I...I...I’m sorry. Next time I’ll ask you both” I stammered, how could he make me feel so nervous? What right did he have to make me feel this way? For the rest of the lesson I spent time going around to people’s work stations and doing their dishes for them, often staring into space while I cleaned the dishes. How could he treat me this way, to make me feel so idiotic and guilty? He’d explained himself, but I couldn’t detect his sincerity, he was little more than a stranger to me.
The final bell of the day rang just less than two hours later, I had grabbed my bag and was out the door before anyone had even started to register the fact that the day was finished. I decided to walk home, my feet lightly kicking the snow. The town was pretty, old structures with modern alterations, vast arrays of greenery and friendly faces smiling at me as I walked past.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the day I had just completed, the friends I had made, the classes I was in…and Nick. He had made me feel so insignificant, so incredibly guilty. What gave him the right to act that way towards me? Did he own the world? I began to get flustered, the winds around me gently stirring.