Chapter Four: My Family Puts the 'FUN' Back Into DysFUNctional, Part One
Serene moved swiftly through the Square Courtyard on her way to the Newbie meeting point inside the Tower.
Several older students waved at her as she passed by. That surprised Serene. At her other schools, people had avoided her like the plague. But she'd been here for two months and people still talked to her.
Serene thought that if occurrences like giant Hell Hounds eating students every few months or so, a close to Goth teenager was considered on the normal side.
Entering the Tower, Serene felt the air on her arms rise. Someone had been working some big magic, not that that was surprising. If you wanted big magic, the Tower was the first place to look.
The extra magic in the place made the newbies even more jumpy than usual. They were huddled into a large group. Serene copped more than a few skittish glances.
Standing away from the newbie pack Beth Stran and Quinn Long stood studying the queer artwork decorating the foyer.
Beth was tall, about six feet. Her hair, while not as bright as it was two months ago (the magic was that kept it in was starting to wear off) when they'd first met, but it still contained more shades of colour then Serene could count.
Quinn was only a head higher then Serene. His floppy mahogany hair was in his eyes and his lanky build was graceful even when he was slouching like now.
Serene walked up and placed her cold hands on Quinn's neck. He yelped and jumped away.
'Serene! Why do you always do that?' he cried, ignoring the looks he got from the newbies. 'Why not Beth?'
'Because she's too tall,' Serene replied cheerfully.
It was an old argument.
'What's with n00bs? Nobody's been eaten for a month or two,'
'Serene, you are so not a nice person,' Beth laughed pocking Serene in the ribs.
'You finally figured it out?' Serene laughed with Beth.
Quinn gave the pair of them an amused look. 'With you two together, I fear for the world. I really do.'
This brought on evil giggles from them. Quinn gave a long suffering sigh.
Their teaching master came shortly after that.
Having completed their magic class, recess was spent in Serene's hut with her Hell Hound egg. It may have been two months since it had been stolen, but Serene was still paranoid. Joining in with Serene's maternal instincts, Beth decided to stimulate the egg with was she thought of as an educational song.
Serene finally got her to stop saying that if the pup sustained any more trauma, it might be permanent.
Survival class was next. It involved a long, boring two hour test in which Serene brushed up on her spit-ball technique.
Lunch was the same deal as recess; Beth was still trying to stimulate the egg. This time she recited all the Dr. Seuss books she'd learnt off by heart.
Maths and English passed quickly and Serene was surprised she'd actually enjoyed it.
The week flew by. Since they had a full day of classes on a Saturday, Serene savored Sunday where she could just sleep. She didn't mind having all classes six days a week, they were actually interesting, but it resulting in her being very tired and grumpy if she didn't get twelve hours of sleep on a Sunday.
Snuggling in to the covers, Serene had another hour to make her quota. The last time she'd dreamed was two months ago. Serene decided her prophetic dreams were form too much magic with nothing to do. So she wasn't expecting the one now.
A woman, about forty years old, with bright blue eyes and fiercely tamed golden hair was sneering at her in her hut. Her voice was prissy and grated on Serene's nerves. Her eyes held a kind of patronizing pity in them. She reminded Serene of her mother, with made her hate this woman on the spot.
Beth bounced into the hut all bright and bubbly. The woman glanced at her and her gazed chased away the light and bubbles. Something came into the woman's eyes, a kind of triumph mixed with something that wasn't human. Slowly the scene dissolved and Serene found herself in the forest behind her hut. The full moon's silver light played down amongst the trees making a patch work of light and shadow. Despite the beauty, something was wrong. The silence. The eerie silence of a forest that should be full of sound. Something was wrong.
Serene made her way to a grove she'd visited a few times. The woman was there. She was naked, her skin glowing in the moonlight. Slowly she shuddered and her body began to change into something…
After five agonizing minutes of the woman twisting, her body changing, growing fur. A werewolf stood. Slowly, on the hunt she moved. Then faster, faster towards something she could feel.
The forest merged, blended into white walls splattered in red. It was all she could see through the smashed door. Beth was standing in the hall, her eyes wide with horror, tears streaming down her cheeks; slowly she sank to the floor. Quinn joined her and they both cried for the loved one who'd died…
A banging on the door woke Serene up from the dream. She was shaking as she struggled up and staggered to the door. She had already opened the door when she realized she was dressed in boxers and an old singlet.
Thankfully it was Beth, bouncing or jogging on the spot, one was never sure.
'Please don't tell me you were still in bed,'
'Beth, it's too early in the morning, go away with you brightness,' Serene grumbled leaning on the door frame.
'Its one o'clock in the afternoon,' Beth's voice was dust dry.
Serene was startled. One o'clock! The dream had gone on for much longer then she thought. Worse is the fact she feel like she'd been on a long run with Beth.
'Hey Serene, are you okay,' Beth stopped bouncing/jogging, 'You don't look too flash…'
Serene almost snorted, if fitness fanatic Beth stops, she must look dead.
'I'm just tired. What where you doing here any? If it was for a jog, I'm feeling as if I've caught some terminal disease.'
Beth laughed. 'Quinn has taken that "Knowledge is Power" thing seriously and is now taken up residence in the library,' Beth paused to allow a snicker, 'If we take your egg, and let the Monster ogle at it a bit, he wouldn't care if we made any noise,'
'Give me a minute to get dressed,' Serene closed the door as Beth jogged off. She'd gotten dressed and was dealing with some stray hair that wouldn't stay in a tail when someone knocked at the door.
Opening the door, Serene found herself looking at the woman form her dream.
'What do you want?' Serene was not polite, in person, this woman reminded her so much of her mother that Serene wanted to smash her fist into her face.
Her hair was a golden blonde that swirled down her back, her sky blue eyes held an insulting pitting look, her posture looked as if she'd shoved a pole up her butt.
'May I come in?' her voice was arty-farty and put Serene's teeth on edge.
The woman looked dumbstruck. Serene savored it.
'I am Audrey. Bethany's mother,' she stated with her nose in the air. 'I've been told you are friends,'
'"Friends" might be putting our relationship a bit strong. I prefer "Drug Buddy".' Was Serene's sarcastically innocent answer.
Audrey was shocked once again. First to be treated so rudely then to find out the truth which others had been too blind to see…
Awkwardly she glanced into the hut and spotted the egg. Clearing her throat, she changed the subject. 'What type of egg is that?'
'A hybrid. It contains some interesting properties,' I want to make to perfect batch of cookies this school has ever known,' Serene gave Audrey a sweet, yet nasty smile.
Audrey was scandalized. She didn't know what to say. The following silence that insured became awkward.
It was at that time Beth chose to see what was taking Serene so long.
'Hey Serene! Hurry up!' She bounced towards the hut.
Audrey turned. In one glance, all Beth's brightness seemed to dim and her bounciness deflate.
'Audrey,' her voice was strangely hollow.
'Bethany, we need to talk,' Audrey cast a glance at Serene, 'privately.'
Beth slumped. That really annoyed Serene.
Quickly dashing inside to fetch her egg, Serene was out and closing the door before Audrey realized.
'Come on Beth,' Serene said cheerfully, linking her arm through Beth's. 'You can't go away, we have to go and study!' Serene started to pull Beth away. Audrey's eyes were riveted to the egg with a kind of horror.
'What did you tell her, Serene?' Beth demanded once they were out of earshot. She'd started to bounce again.
'Oh nothing, much. Something along the lines of "we are not friends, we're drug buddies and my egg as some special ingredients"' Serene smirked.
Beth stopped suddenly.
Serene's smirk faded into concern. 'Did I stuff up?'
Beth looked at Serene's expression. It was times like these that Beth believed Serene had never had a friend before.
She burst out laughing.
'I can't believe it! You – you told her we were doing drugs,'
'Not exactly. Just really obvious in-your-face hints,'
The pair of them continued to laugh all the way to the library. The Monster gave them a glare, but as Beth predicted, Serene's egg kept him quiet. The Monster believed that violence is bad around young Hellhounds.
Finding Quinn, they flopped down beside him.
'I didn't know you could get stitches from laughing,' Serene panted holding her side.
'Its just cause you're unfit,' Beth chided.
'Do I have to mention how much I hate being out of the loop…' Quinn sighed dramatically.
'Aw, poor Quinny,' Serene laughed as she wrapped her arm around Quinn's neck and pulled him to her, half chocking him in the process. 'We just told Audrey the bitch that Beth and I are doing drugs!'
'I'm very happy for you. But I need oxygen,' Quinn protested.
'Sorry 'bout that.' Serene apologized, releasing him. 'But I think Beth's 'Bouncy-Bubbles' are contagious.'
'You're just jealous of my awesomeness!' Beth sent Serene a mock haughty glare.
'How do you explain Master Randall whistling 'if you're happy and you know it clap your hands' after class,' Serene pointed out.
'Or Master Connor dancing around with a mop,' Quinn added in, not wanting to miss out on poking fun at his cousin.
'At least I don't give them apoplexy,' Beth said archly at Quinn and Serene.
Serene smiled, 'you're just jealous of my awesomeness,' she threw back at Beth.
'How can you let our daughter even associate with some disgusting girl like Serene! And take drugs, what is happening with this school.' Audrey was rather agitated yet sat delicately on the couch in Fred's apartment.
Fred sat in the chair opposite and looked a tad bewildered. 'Neither Beth or Serene are taking drugs. There are no illegal substances in this school. No student has ever taken drugs on this school and as sworn under truth spell,'
'There are ways to get around truth spells,'
'Not by a first year student,' Fred was starting to sound tired.
'Why are you like this…?' Audrey began.
Fred stared almost fiercely. 'Audrey, you agreed to let it be this way. Beth is happy.'
'For how long? Fred, demon hunters usually don't live to your age, let alone Val Cloud's!'
'Audrey.' Fred said all patience. 'Beth will live to old age. She has good friends in Quinn and Serene-'
'Not with that horrible Serene, she won't!' Audrey cut in. 'She's just in it for the money.'
'Why would she do that?' Fred sighed. 'She's the eldest daughter of George Wolfe.' Fred watched with a morbid amusement as Audrey's expression changed. 'Serene Wolfe is shaping up to be one of the best hunters since Catherine-'
Audrey cut him again. 'That's all I am to you! A replacement for some whore that never loved you?!' With that Audrey leaped up and flew from the room.
Fred dropped his head in his hands.
That night Serene was caressing the egg, her mind drifting. She'd turned out all the lights so the only illumination was the silvery light streaming in from the full moon.
Serene leaped up, covered the egg and flew from her hut. Sprinting down towards Quinn's cottage, the clear ground all around her suddenly blurred into a forest. A picture of Fred Stran flashed in her mind, followed by such a base rage, it disgusted Serene.
Abruptly the forest vanished and she was almost at Quinn's. Serene was not an athletic person, but as she banged on Quinn's door, she felt as if she could run rings around Beth.
Quinn opened the door, looking rather annoyed.
'Serene, what do you want?' he glared at her.
'Beth's. Now. Hurry up!' Serene managed through pants.
Before Quinn could answer or argue, she turned to leave. Quinn went to grab her, but she was too quick. Having no choice to follow, Quinn tried to catch up with Serene. If it wasn't for all Beth's nagging over the years, he wouldn't have been able to keep up.
Beth was not impressed at having been pulled out of bed by the urgent and loud banging coming from her door.
Her murderous expression vanished when she opened the door to see a puffed and urgent Serene and just behind her and an irritated and harried looking Quinn.
'What the matter?'
'Any local werewolves?' Serene strait up.
'No,' Quinn said, even more irritated then before,' and they don't steal Hell Hound eggs,' his sarcasm fell on deaf ears.
'If a really pissed werewolf were to attack, say… someone like your dad, would he survive?' Serene ignored Quinn and kept all her attention on Beth.
'I don't know. If was prepared to face one…' Beth trailed off. 'You think my mother is a werewolf?' she did not sound happy.
Quinn frowned. Instead of bagging Serene, he slowly said. 'It would make a great deal of sense.'
Beth glared at him.
Undaunted he continued. 'Audrey loves Fred, but he doesn't love her. She thinks it's because of Catherine Joyce. Catherine Joyce was powerful. To stand up to her image, Audrey got some power of her own…'
'To become a werewolf is one of the quickest, yet painful, ways to get some sort of supernatural power.' Serene murmured.
'And if dad turned her down…' Beth whispered. All three paused then sprinted off towards the Tower.
Thankfully it was dark and no one saw them. But that in itself had a drawback. Serene didn't have a problem, being able to see in the dark, Quinn cast a spell to help and Beth just continued to sprint, heedless of what she couldn't see.
Ten meters from the door they heard a scream.
It made them run faster.
The foyer of the Tower was a mess. The clerk was lying unconscious on the floor.
All three of them ran straight to the elevator. They could all hear the crashed and cries of the werewolf taking the stairs.
As the elevator rose, all three realised how morbidly ironic it was that they were riding an elevator, music and all, while a werewolf in a murderous rage was rampaging up the stairs.
As the lift doors opened they sprinted out. Pulling to a stop outside Fred's door, it took a couple of minutes to open the door to open.
When it did, Fred did not look too pleased to see them.
'Kids, what is it now?'
They didn't answer, just pushed past him.
'Quinn, spell the door.' Beth ordered once they were inside. 'Serene help, lend him some power.' She turned to her father, 'Dad, Audrey is a werewolf; she's not happy and wants to kill you,'
While Beth was explaining the situation, Quinn had started to spell the door. It was the most intricate, powerful spell he knew, before realising Serene mightn't want to lend him so much power. Before he could undo the spell and start again, Serene put her hand on his shoulder and opened up her magic to him.
Quinn's first thought was 'wow'. The next was how could she suck at spell craft with all this magic?
The answer soon became obvious. Quinn started to chant. His magic obeyed instantly and started to form the pattern of the spell Quinn chanted. Serene's magic, however, did not. It just kind of swirled around. He remembered once when he asked Serene why she thought her spell wasn't working. She'd replied 'my magic was too busy fart-arsing around'. He concentrated fiercely, sweat started to appear on his face. Slowly, Serene's magic started to follow his chant and twine with his magic. It was then he realised something. 'What if Serene's magic followed a pattern not a chant?' It could explain a lot actually. Focusing on the pattern, he willed the magic to form the pattern of the spell. Serene's magic went straight to it, but his magic started to goof around.
Quinn groaned, making Serene fidget. 'Serene… can you see the pattern of the spell' he asked, following the idea he'd just had.
Serene concentrated on the pattern she could see in her mind. Serene expected her magic to fight, but it slid easily into the spell pattern, twining with Quinn's as he chanted. Within a minute the spell was completed.
Serene opened her eyes. Turning to Quinn she saw his triumphant smile.
'Pattern!' he cried, 'your magic responds the pattern of the spell, not the chant!'
'Okay, now you're scaring me,' Serene looked at Quinn as if he was an escapee from a mental ward.
'That explains a lot of things,' Master Stan commented.
'How so?' Serene demanded.
'It takes you so long to complete a simple spell, that you can't do larger spells, that the spells that do work stick, like your protection spell, yet you can quickly recognise spells, any spells that don't require an incantation you excel,' he explained.
Any further conversation was cut off by something large, strong and pissed off smashing into the door.
Serene and Quinn paled as the sudden strain on the spell pulled away some more magic. Beth and Fred jumped.
Another crash. The door shuddered and cracks appeared in the wall.
'We can't hold it much longer!' Quinn yelled as Audrey smashed into the door again. The wall half collapsed and the door shattered, causing the spell to die in a bright flash. Blinded Serene started to stumble away when something crashed by her and sent her flying into a nearby wall with a sicking crunch. A sharp pain flared in her shoulder. She regained her sight, but it was grey, she saw Quinn, lying down near the couch, Beth almost in the bedroom and a large, grey bundle of fur and muscle hurling towards Fred as her vision started to darken.
Serene woke up with a start. Looking around she saw she was in the healing wards.
'Awake Miss Wolfe. About time.' Said the gruff voice of the Dragon, the head of the ward. She tolerated no bullshit in her territory.
'How long have I been out?' Serene asked, starting to get up.
The dragon pushed her down. 'None of that now, missy. You have a broken shoulder, broken collar bone and several stiches on your other arm. You've been out for a day and everything should be fine in a month.'
'Beth, Quinn, Master Stan?'
'Master Stran, has got more broken bones then you, but will be fine. The other two have been hovering around here all day making a pest of themselves. I'll send them in. perhaps if they see you are alright they may go away and leave me alone,' the Dragon left.
Less than a minute passed before Beth, boisterous as ever and Quinn following in her wake entered the room.
'Oh my God, Serene!' she bounced on the bed almost making Serene wince as her arm was jostled.
'Beth. Her arm,' Quinn pointed out in his usual sarcastic tone.
'Oh! Sorry! I didn't hurt it, did I?!'
Serene shook her head, ignoring the dull throb that had started.
'You have been out for a day and Beth wants to tell you the gossip,' Quinn teased.
'Well, what are you waiting for?' Serene laughed, poking Beth.