Epilogue: Goodbye's For Now
Everything went back to normal after that fateful day. Headmaster Death had taken Ms. Hardwick’s place until they could hire a new Magic and Spells teacher. At first everyone found the idea of Death being our professor a bit terrifying, but by the end of the week, everyone realized that he was awesome and amusing – almost as great as Ms. Tabby or Mr. Hans. He definitely brought the word “fun” to the classroom. I wish he would consider taking the job instead of searching for someone else. He was really good at conversing with students, or helping them out if they were confused with a certain spell. Of course, nobody liked him on days when he was in a bad mood. On those days, it made it kind of difficult to talk to Alex without having Death’s red eyes glare at you from across the classroom. I swear I almost peed myself when Death shot me an angry look – all because I asked Alex what page we were on.
But those days were very rare. Usually he was happy when he came to class. I think the reason he gets in a bad mood is because of his job as the Headmaster. I think doing three jobs like running the school, teaching Magic and Spells, and also reaping souls can be a bit too much sometimes. I wonder if he ever takes a vacation time.
Another thing that had changed in my life was Alex. He and I started officially dating once I was released from the infirmary. People still gawked and whispered amongst each other when they thought I wasn’t looking, while also saying things like: I can’t believe she’s with him! Is she insane? or What does she see in that freak? He’s a nobody – a killer. But I didn’t care what they thought. I was happy. And like Mia promised, Alex started sitting with us. I think he mostly sat with my friends because of me. I don’t think he really cared much for them, but he always remained polite when they asked him a question. To my relieve, my friends treated him as if he was one of us. They didn’t exclude him from conversations, nor did they act like he wasn’t there. The only person that really had an attitude was Morgan, which wasn’t really surprising. I explained to Alex that he had an attitude with everyone. And even though I loved being around my friends, I couldn’t help but long for some alone time with my boyfriend. It was just easier when you didn’t have people staring at you. Like I said, I could care less what they said about me and my relationship with Alex, but it was still annoying. The constant feeling of everyone’s eyes on us as we kissed outside my bedroom door after a day of being together or when we held hands on our way to class. It’s like we had no privacy.
When it came time for our final exams I was a mess. Even though I loved spending time with Alex, I also loved getting good grades. So the next three weeks, I stayed locked in my room studying, only leaving when I had classes or when I needed to eat. Sometimes I would study with Alex or with Jordan. I guess it depended on which subject I needed help in. On Monday’s and Tuesday’s, the teachers graciously went over what would mostly likely be on the final exams that we would be taking Wednesday and Thursday, doing their best to help us prepare for what would mostly likely be are only hope into the next year.
Trying to keep my brain powered up, I continually drank water as I ate breakfast on Wednesday morning. They say water and food mixed together is good for the mind. Of course, as three hours went by, I realized I might have made a mistake. So when they released us to lunch, my first destination was to the girl’s bathroom.
When the results from the exams were released Monday afternoon, I couldn’t help but feel anxious as I looked for my name. When I found it and saw next to it my all-time grade for this year, I squealed with excitement. A group of earth users looked at me wearily as I broke out in a happy dance. I had a big, fat juicy A. Second year of Hunter Academy – here I come! Out of curiosity, I looked for my friend’s names as I checked out their grades. I was relieved to see that they had passed as well. With a smile on my face, I skipped back to my dorm in a blissful mood. Nothing can get me down.
I packed all day Friday, trying to prepare for tomorrow’s trip back home. I wasn’t necessarily ready to leave the academy. I feel like I just got here and now I’m going to have to wait until September before I returned. More than likely, I won’t see my friends for the rest of this summer. Then again, mom called last night and told me that she had summer passes to Magic Springs so maybe it won’t be so bad. When I finally had to tell my mom about what happened this year at the academy, I wasn’t surprised when she hit panic mode. I could hear the worry in her voice as she continually asked questions about what happened. Why would anybody do that to a thirteen-year-old? Who was it? How badly did you get hurt? On and on the questions went. I had to reassure her several times that I was okay and that the enemy was gone. For now anyway. Of course I didn’t tell her that. I didn’t need to give my mother a reason to keep me home.
When I finally went to bed after a long day of packing, my mind still couldn’t get the image of Ms. Hardwick out of my head. For weeks her face had been haunting me every time I closed my eyes. Even though I knew it was best that she was dead, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. I’m the reason she’s gone. Alex may have pulled the trigger, but if it weren’t for me, she might still be alive.
She tried to kill you, my subconscious said. It was either you or her. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Huh. That’s probably the most comforting thing she’s ever said to me.
Surprisingly I woke up around seven in the morning the next day. My mom wasn’t going to pick me up until five this afternoon, so I figured if I got up early, I could spend the rest of my remaining hours with my friends. I wasn’t going to see any of them for a while so I might as well make a day of it. And that’s what I did. All day I hung out with my friends, laughing and listening as my friends talked animatedly with one another. We were outside in the courtyard, sitting together at our usual picnic table. I was so happy that our picnic table was shaded by the trees; otherwise I would have been red from head to toe by the time mom came by and picked me up. Red heads and the sun to do not mix.
I was sitting in between Alex and Jordan, aware that they were having a friendly conversation, one that was centered around me. Lately the two have been putting forth a lot of effort into getting along, I guess for my sake. And I was proud of their improvement as I heard them laugh and teasing me about my two left feet. I fought the urge to roll my eyes. I ignored them as I traced the words Ashton Rules! engraved in the wood. It brought a smile to my lips. I wonder what made him write that. Then again, Mr. Grey mentioned that my father was very goofy so maybe that’s why. Whatever the reason, seeing these words carved on the picnic table only made me want to meet him even more. I yearned to hear my father speak, or to see him smile proudly at me. Even if I have to see it from afar.
I glanced around the courtyard, trying to take my mind off my father. It was packed full of students wanting to socialize before their parents picked them up, some laughing and making fun, while others gossiped. The usual. I spotted Alicia and Jennifer with a bunch of air users, aware that Alicia kept glancing this way every now again. I knew her eyes would instantly fall on Jordan, and I could see regret fill her eyes as she stared at him with longing. I felt some empathy for her. I knew exactly what that felt like. I laid my head down on Alex’s shoulder, trying to find some peace after looking at Alicia’s heartbroken expression. But it was her own fault, I reasoned. She could be sitting with us right now if she hadn’t let her jealousy of me and Jordan’s relationship get in the way. And although I kept telling myself this, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. I looked back at her and was surprised to see her eyes on me. I lifted my head, my eyes meeting her green ones. She smiled tentatively at me, as if saying I’m happy for you before looking away. I watched her, waiting to see if she would look this way again, but she didn’t. After several minutes went by, everyone went quiet when the intercom came on. Ms. Tabby’s voice came through the speakers, saying that the bus to Fandora was here. I couldn’t help but feel surprised that there was an actual bus in this area. I didn’t think there was any kind of transportation around here besides wagons and carriages. Alicia took one last look at Jordan before following Jennifer into the main building. I turned my gaze to Jordan. He watched her walk away with an unreadable expression, his eyes never leaving her until she disappeared into the building.
To my dismay, Alex had to leave and resume packing before the orphanage came and picked him up later. I still couldn’t understand why he waited till the last minute to pack his things, but I didn’t nag. I just stared at him with puppy dog eyes as he told me to stay here and hang out with my friends. He kissed me, promising that he would meet up with me later, before heading back towards the dormitory building. I sighed, missing him already. I felt like one of those pathetic girlfriends, wanting her boyfriend around all the time. I’m starting to understand why Jordan and Alicia always wanted to be together. Jordan nudged me playfully, trying to cheer up I think. It worked. Jordan and I joked with each other, laughing and carrying on as we talked. We mostly discussed about next year and how excited we were. Jordan’s main grade for this year was also an A, which was still shocking to me whenever I really thought about it. Jordan was smart, but not that smart. Then again, he studied just as hard as I did. Though I suspected he cheated off my exam whenever he sat by me. He did it before. I imagine the exam was no different to him.
Two in half hours later, my friends started leaving one-by-one. First was Gabrielle. Her parents were still as friendly and amusing as the first time I met them. We all laughed when Gabrielle’s mother, Helen, started pinching Morgan’s cheeks and embarrassing him when she started congratulating him for not failing. Morgan huffed and puffed, while crossing his arms in a pouting manner, making everyone laugh even harder. The next people to leave were Scarlett and Mia. Scarlett’s parents had agreed to pick up both of them, offering to drop Mia off on their way home. Scarlett’s father was a handsome man, with dark eyes and hair. Not to mention freakishly tall! It became obvious to me where Scarlett got her long legs from. He wasn’t as jumpy and crazy as his daughter, but you could tell they looked alike. Though she mostly resembled her mother, who was a very pretty Asian woman. I became amused as I watched Scarlett, her mother, and Mia as they linked arms, skipping to the main building like they were on their way to the Emerald city. Scarlett’s father shook his head as he followed behind them.
Not long after they left, Jordan and Morgan’s parent’s showed up, along with Mr. Grey. He smiled happily at me, while also watching his nephews bound into their parents. Their mother laughed, while Ashley looked uncomfortable, clearly wanting to get away from them. Morgan had his arms wrapped around his father’s waist, babbling about how glad he was to see them and that he couldn’t wait to get out of here. Every time Ashley tried to pry his son off of him, Morgan’s arms would simply tighten around him, making it difficult for his father to breathe. Eventually he sighed loudly and gave up, crossing his arms and just waiting for his son’s arms to loosen.
Mr. Grey walked towards me then, wrapping a comfortable arm around me, his face excited as he looked at his brother. Ashely was still pouting as both of his sons hugged him, barely giving him any room to move.
“Brother,” Mr. Grey said. Ashley looked at him, reminding me very much of Morgan. He looked bored. “There is someone I want you to meet.”
Ashley looked at me. He frowned. “But I’ve already met her.”
“Not as you’re niece. She’s Ashton’s daughter.”
Jordan and Morgan pulled away from their father as he exchanged startled glances with his wife. “Are you sure?” Said Jordan and Morgan’s mother.
“I’m positive, Evelyn. I mean, just look at her eyes.”
I felt a bit self-conscious as I they both peered into my eyes. My face reddened at their scrutiny. Evelyn gasped, pulling away and putting her hand on Ashley’s shoulder.
“So it’s true.”
“She has his eyes, but she looks more like her mother.” Ashley said, deadpan. “This is so bizarre.”
“That’s what I said,” Jordan said wryly.
“Welcome to the family,” Evelyn said, wrapping her arms around me and pulling me into her warm embrace.
I hugged her back awkwardly, not really sure what to say. Clearly they want me to be a part of the family, but did I want too? After what they did to my father? I was unsure as Evelyn pulled away, a gentle smile on her face.
I smiled in return, noticing her bright gray eyes – eyes that reminded me of Jordan’s. I turned towards him, sensing his eyes on me. He and Morgan looked happy as their parents welcomed me to the family. Looking at them, I realized that I got my answer. Of course I want to be a part of this family. As long as Jordan and Morgan remain in it.
When I said my goodbyes to my friends or…my family, I started heading towards the dormitory building to hang out with Alex. I had thirty minutes left before my mom came and picked me up. I just hope she doesn’t have any trouble getting here. Then again, she didn’t have trouble picking me up for Thanksgiving and Christmas break. Why should this be any different?
I was just about to go inside when I saw someone in the corner of my eye, staring at me from a couple feet away. I stopped as I turned my head and saw a man in a brown cloak, watching me closely. The man clearly wasn’t Azazel, and yet I couldn’t make out his face. I could have sworn a detected a smile, but I wasn’t entirely sure. Then I wondered something. Could it be—?
Just then I heard a group of girls laughing loudly, causing me to jump five feet in the air. I was so annoyed at the group of girls that I turned to glare at them. They didn’t seem to notice as they walked passed me, going inside. I shook my head in irritation. Sometimes I can’t stand my gender. I looked back to where the man stood, and gaped. He was no longer there. It was like I had imagined him. Maybe I did. Suddenly I was unsure. I continued walking, looking around every now and again just to see if he might appear.
I forgot about the man as soon as I got to Alex’s room. I knocked on his door, ignoring the stares as fire users left their rooms, getting ready to leave. I knocked one more time, before Alex opened the door. I felt a smile spread across my face when I saw him. He gave me a wicked smile in return before grabbing my arms and pulling me towards him. I felt Alex’s lips meet mine as he kissed me in earnest, his hands on my hips as he pushed my body against his. I wrapped my arms around his neck, my fingers in his hair as our lips moved slowly against each other. Finally – after five minutes of kissing – I had to pull away so I could get some air.
“That never gets old.” I breathed.
His knuckles caressed my cheek as he gazed down at me. “I’m going to miss you, princess.”
“I’m going miss you too. More than you know.”
Alex pressed his forehead against mine, his arms wrapped around my waist. “We’ll have to keep in contact somehow.”
“Do the phones work in the orphanage?” I asked.
“Yeah, but I don’t know if they’ll let me talk to you. They really don’t like me over there. If we have too, I guess we can write sappy, nauseating letters to each other.”
I laughed. “That could work. I still have the orphanage number, though. I’ll try to call tomorrow.”
“Okay,” he said. I felt his lips press against my forehead. I closed my eyes, feeling content.
Alex went with me to help collect my things before heading to the main building. I groaned at the sight of so many students. Of course I knew that they were waiting for their parents as well. I checked the time on my phone. It was a little past five, but I didn’t mind. That gave me a little more time with Alex. If one thing didn’t change about Alex, it was that he still liked to keep a distance between himself and the others. Except this time I was with him. The thought made me smile. We put our things down, and took a seat on the floor, holding hands as we waited. Again, I didn’t want to go, but I knew I had too. And it’s not like I won’t see him again, because I will. In about three or four months. I repressed a groan. Without thinking about it, I laid my head against his shoulder before it was time for Alex to leave. I felt like my heart was sinking as I watched him gather with the other orphanage students. He seemed really bored as he stood among them.
“Spencer,” I heard a familiar voice say. I looked in the direction of the voice and saw my mom wave at me. I grabbed my things and rushed across the crowded space until I was finally in her arms. And even though I would miss Alex and my friends, I was still so happy to see my mom.
“I missed you.” I said.
“I missed you too, baby.”
I pulled away then. Mom smiled as she looked behind me. “Spencer, there’s a boy looking at you.” I turned around in time to see Alex gazing at me from across the room. He gave me a finger wave, which made me smile. “He’s really cute.” She gushed.
“Yeah,” I replied as I watched Alex’s departure with sad eyes. “He is.”
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