House of Graduation
Chapter One: House of Graduation
"And now, the residents of Anubis House!" Mr. Sweet announced to the crowd. "Alfred Lewis."
Alfie jogged up onto the stage and accepted the rolled-up diploma from the older man. I saw Amber give him a thumbs-up, and everyone laughed as Alfie cried out "I DID IT!"
"Amber Millington." Amber, with her sequined-and-rhinestoned graduation gown, walked onto the stage and accepted her diploma from Mr. Sweet. As she sat back down, she mumbled about how the ribbon on the paper should've been pink. It was so . . . Amber.
"Eddie Miller." When Eddie came on stage, everyone let out a laugh. On the back of his tacky red robe was a piece of paper, likely taped on there by Patricia. In huge, bold letters, the name "Eddison Sweet" was written.
Next was Fabian's turn. When Mr. Sweet called out his name, my heart filled with pride for my geeky boyfriend. Fabian had gotten valedictorian, and was the only one in the room wearing an orange robe. God, he looked tacky, but it was kind of cute.
And so the graduation went. Jerome, Joy, and Mara all walked up the steps with confidence, all accepting their graduate status with grace. Next it was my turn.
As Mr. Sweet called out my name, I felt butterflies going kamikaze in my stomach. I walked onto the stage, my gaze flickering around the room. Oh god, I couldn't do this. The thought would've made me laugh if I wasn't so nervous. Since when was I, Nina Martin, afraid of anything? I had faced crazed, immortal-life-seeking lunatics and ghosts who wanted to become gods. Why was I afraid of graduating?
My eyes met with Fabian's, who held my gaze. I watched him mouth 'You're doing great' to me, and I suddenly felt better. If someone believed I could do it, then I wasn't going to let them down. I accepted the diploma from Mr. Sweet, who seemed glad that everyone was graduating.
I couldn't blame him. Sibuna had caused way too many problems for him and Victor over the last few years, but it was partially their fault. If they weren't so obsessed with immortal life or ruling the world, then nothing would've ever happened.
As I made my way back to my seat, I thought about all of Sibuna's adventures. Had we really found every artifact and every clue? I wasn't sure. Once everyone from Anubis House had gotten their diplomas, we were instructed to stand up. After a small speech from Fabian, who really wasn't that great of a public speaker, we cheered and threw our square caps into the air.
I laughed out of happiness, rushing over to Fabian and grabbing him in a tight hug. He laughed with me, pulling me closer. This was the best day, but it was also the worst. We had to leave in two days, and we had no idea if we'd ever see each other again.
After graduation was over, Fabian and I walked back to Anubis House together, leaving the other residents to whatever they were doing. I didn't know, nor did I want to. As we walked through the school grounds, I sighed. Was it really over? Did it have to be?
A large amount of people were waiting in the common room when Fabian and I stepped through the door. The first person my mind registered was an old woman standing by one of the sarcophagi in the main corridor.
"Gran!" I yelled, running over to her. "You made it!"
"Did you honestly think I wouldn't come to see you graduate?" she asked, fake hurt in her voice.
"I just wasn't sure," I admitted. "I mean, the last time you were in England, you got really sick." What she hadn't known about her illness was that an angry spirit had caused it.
"Why would getting sick once stop me from coming to see my granddaughter?"
"I have no idea!" I laughed. I heard someone behind me clear their throat and I whipped around to see who.
Four people were standing in front of me, obviously a family. The oldest guy, who was around 45 years old, was really tall and had dark, dark brown hair, almost black. His eyes were a startling shade of emerald, and his gaze was intense, as if he was staring into my soul.
The woman standing beside him was pretty for her age. Her light brown locks curled around her face, and her deep brown eyes seemed warm and friendly. There was a little girl, maybe five or six years old, standing beside her, and she had the woman's hair and the man's eyes. She was adorable.
When I realized who the last person with the family was, I smiled. This was Fabian's family. The man, Fabian's father, held out his hand.
"You must be Nina," he said to me. I took his hand and shook it once. "I'm Richard, Fabian's father. It's so nice to meet you."
"It's nice to meet you, too," I said sweetly. When I looked over at Fabian, I had to hold back a laugh. The little girl, who was probably his sister, had taken hold of his arm and was using it like a swing. When Fabian's parents saw what was going on, they tried to help him. After their fourth failed attempt, I walked over to the little girl.
"OH!" she cried, letting go of her brother. I was glad she had let him go, but was shocked when she latched onto me, grabbing me in a hug. Whoa, she was a really strong six-year-old. It took Fabian, his parents, Gran, and Patricia –who had just walked in –to pull the little girl off of me.
"Sorry," she giggled after she had calmed down a little. "I'm happy to meet you! Fabina all the way!" The little girl giggled again.
I looked over at Fabian. "Fabina all the way?" I repeated. He buried his face in his hands, embarrassed out of his mind.
"I'm Chloe," the girl said, grabbing my attention again. "I'm Fabian's little sister!"
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Chloe," I told her. "Now, where did you hear about Fabina?"
"From Fabian! He said beauty queen called you and him that," Chloe said, pointing Amber, who had just walked in with Alfie.
"Um, Chloe, how about you go into the next room with Mom and Dad?" Fabian suggested, watching Amber realize who the girl was talking about. His sister skipped into the common room, leaving Fabian at Amber's mercy.
"RUTTER!" she screamed. "Why did your little sister just call me beauty queen?!"
"Um, because I kind of told her you were a beauty queen," Fabian said sheepishly, backing away from the ticked-off blonde. Smart move. "She wanted to know what everyone was like! It's not my fault you really care about your appearance."
"Don't you turn this around, Fabian!" Amber scolded him, stepping forward. I watched in amusement as Alfie tried to pull his girlfriend back. Some things never change.
After everyone managed to calm Amber down, I pulled Fabian to the side. He had to explain this whole Chloe-knowing-about-Fabina thing. Before I could say anything, however, Gran walked over to us.
"Well, look at the lovebirds," she teased.
"Gran!" I sighed. "Not now!"
"I was just going to say that you two look good together," she said innocently, but I knew better. The last time Gran had interfered in our relationship, it hadn't ended well. After much begging, I finally got her to leave.
"So, how does your little sister know about Fabina?" I asked my boyfriend.
"Um, well, she asked me if I had a girlfriend and it kind of slipped out," Fabian admitted. I laughed and threw my arms around his neck. He was so odd sometimes, but I loved him for it.
After the hug fest was over, I ran upstairs to change out of the tacky robe I was wearing. Once I was in a normal outfit –a white shirt, greenish jacket, and jeans with flats –I hurried down the stairs. Fabian had told me just before the graduation ceremony that he wanted to show me something down in the tunnel.
I had to sneak past everyone to get to the cellar door and unlock it, but strangely no one seemed to notice me. I walked calmly down the steps, and over to the alcove in the back of the room. The snake tumblers were still in place, so I just had to turn them until they read 1890. The locks whirled and spun until I heard the click and the door slid open.
The room was exactly how I remembered it. I hadn't been down here in months, but everything was the same. The dusty old bookshelf that hid the tunnel, the large picture of Frobisher where the amulets had been hidden, the desk overflowing with books. Everything was the same.
Well, almost everything was the same. On the desk sat a brightly wrapped present labeled 'Nina.' Who had left that down here? I slowly approached the desk, but stopped when I heard a creaking noise from behind me. Panic rose within me as I slowly turned around.
"Holy crap, Fabian, you scared the life out of me," I scolded as I saw who was there.
Fabian laughed at my reaction. "What? I told you I was going to be down here, didn't I?"
"Yeah, but I wasn't expecting you to hide from me," I said, sinking down into the plush armchair by the desk. Fabian laughed again, sitting on the edge of the table. He slid the present over to me, instructing me to open it.
"You first," I said, taking another brightly wrapped gift out of my pocket. "I hope you like it."
Instead of arguing with me –which he knew wouldn't work –Fabian tore the paper off the gift I gave him, revealing the surprise. I had gotten him a leather cuff bracelet with his name and the outline of a book burned onto it. Fabian immediately clasped it around his wrist, admiring the new accessory.
"Wow, thanks Nina," he said, reaching for my hand. "It's amazing! Now open yours."
I smirked at him just before I ripped open the package on the table. Inside was the most beautiful charm bracelet I had ever seen. It had seven charms on it, each for a different member of Sibuna. There was a magician's hat for Alfie (or Alfredo), a pink handbag for Amber, a skateboard for Eddie, an Egyptian book for Fabian, a red skull-and-crossbones for Patricia, and a small replica of the Eye of Horus locket for me. The last charm was a small, silver tag engraved with the words "Sibuna Forever."
"It's perfect, Fabian," I smiled as he clasped it around my wrist. Fabian hugged me tight, pressing a kiss on my lips. I smiled as he let me go. He was a perfect, geeky, amazing boyfriend, and I had no idea what I had done to deserve him.
When we realized we had been in the study for half an hour, we snuck back into the common room, bypassing Victor and the other adults. Amber and Patricia were waiting on us when we got there.
"Fabian Rutter," Amber said in a dangerous voice. "You told me I could be there when you gave her the bracelet."
"Sorry, beauty queen," he joked. Big mistake, I thought when Amber's eyes got huge. I snickered as she chased him through the house, only to be stopped by little Chloe.
"Beauty Queen!" she giggled. "Fabian told me you dressed like a princess, but he never said you looked like one!"
Amber, forgetting she was mad at Fabian, turned to the little girl. "Well, I don't like to brag, but I do my best to look fabulous. If you'd like, I could see how princess-y we can make you look."
With a squeal, Fabian's little sister followed Amber up to her room. I looked over at my boyfriend.
"I think Amber just stole your sister," I laughed. "So, why'd Amber want to be there when you gave me the bracelet?"
"She and Patricia bought you charms for it," Fabian admitted. "When they give them to you, please don't tell them I told you. Amber would kill me, and Patricia would probably cheer her on."
I laughed at his statement. "Probably," I agreed.
When Amber came back down the stairs with Chloe about ten minutes later, I had to laugh. They were both in bright pink dresses, but Chloe's was obviously one of Amber's long shirts turned into a dress. Somewhere Amber had found a tiara and placed it on the little girl's head. I had to admit, they both looked nice, but it was still funny that the person Amber was finally able to be girly with was six.
When Amber saw me, she dragged Patricia over and they handed me two charms. The charm from Amber was a replica of the Cup of Ankh, and the one Patricia gave me was a replica of the Mask of Anubis.
"Thanks, you guys," I said, attaching the charms to my bracelet. "They're perfect, but I didn't get you anything!"
"Well, you could let me throw a Sibuna Goodbye Party tonight," Amber said to me. "That would be present enough."
"Whoa, did Millington just say that work would be a present?" Patricia asked in amusement. "Are you sick or something?"
"I'm not sick," Amber stated. "I just want to do this. Nina, please?"
I smiled. "Why not? It's not like we have anything else to do tonight. Go for it, Amber."
Amber squealed in delight. "Perfect! Okay, Sibuna Goodbye Party in the attic at midnight. Tell all of Sibuna."
A few hours later, after all of the families had left, I was sitting in my room, alone. Amber was setting up the party, apparently by herself. I was shocked at the gesture, but at the same time I was proud of her. Amber was growing up.
I sat on my bed and stared out the window. I would miss this place. I would miss the mysteries and the challenges, the danger and the excitement. I would miss Trudy and I would even miss Victor. But most of all, I'd miss the fun Sibuna had. Why did it have to be over? Why couldn't there be just one more mystery to solve, one more challenge to overcome?
I laid my head on my pillow, realizing there wouldn't be an answer. There were no more mysteries, no more challenges, no more anything. The house almost felt . . . cold, lifeless. I could feel the energy of the house fading slowly away.
It made me want to cry.