AN: Just in case anyone stumbles across this before reading the others, this is Part Three of my New Night trilogy, and I strongly recommend reading the others first, or else this one will make little sense. Also, this is SLASH (which, if you're keeping up with the trilogy, you should definitely know by now) and there will be actual male/male sex in this story, so if that bothers you, I'd suggest turning away. Other than that, I hope you enjoy it! Updates should come fairly quickly, like with the other two in the series.
I'm also a little iffy about this beginning part. The prank feels like a trope, but I'm not much of a prankster myself, so I had a little trouble coming up with something. Other ideas are welcome! I may rewrite it if I get a better idea later on.
Also, the summary for this one really makes me giggle.
"Why don't you just fight back?" Lorelai asks. She's twirling a lock of brunette hair from her ponytail between her fingers, sitting cross-legged on one of the tables in the classroom and cringing every time the red liquid sloshes across the floor. Across the room on a table of his own, swinging his legs, Solomon nods vigorously.
Eben shakes his head. "Nope. I can't do that. I won't do that."
"Why not?" Her hazel eyes widen as she pleads. "We all know you're twice the wizard Artemas will ever be."
"And then some," Solomon adds, scratching over his buzzed blonde head.
"Guys, the whole point of me being here is that I did things with my magic that I shouldn't have. I'm just going to keep my head down and do my damn job until it's time for me to leave," Eben says. The mop is stained, and likely unsalvageable. Along with his clothes.
"It's just pig's blood, you guys," Eben says, although he's starting to agree with them. He smells like dead things—the whole classroom smells like dead things—and it's all because of Artemas and his stupid cronies, who thought it would make them look brave and badass to play a prank on the resident dark sorcerer. Which, of course, Eben would have to clean up, because this is Erastus's—his mentor's—classroom.
"I seem to recall a certain movie about a certain girl who goes crazy and kills everyone on prom night because of a prank involving a bucket of pig's blood," Solomon says.
Eben snorts. "That's exactly why I should refrain. I've seen enough death."
Lorelai hums in agreement. "Have you talked to your…pack?"
The wizards here think it's weird that Eben belongs to a werewolf pack. The Consilium, located in Massachusetts, turned out to be the most enormous mansion that Eben has ever seen. Not only do wizards live and work here, but they also teach here. This is where young magicians like Eben come to learn about magic. It's essentially Magic University. They learn about its history, its origins, its uses. They learn about the elements, about old school witchcraft and voodoo and faith healing and all other kinds of magic that most people write off as fairy tales or nonsense or wishful thinking. At first, it had been exciting. Until he learned what it meant that he was there.
Erastus, his mentor, teaches potion-making. Eben has been in charge of cleaning the pots and pans, dusting the shelves, cataloguing the books, and, of course, keeping up with the coursework. He's got a room down the hall where he sleeps and keeps his personal things, and during the day, once he's attended classes, he takes private lessons with Erastus and cleans up before bed.
Avery Finn hadn't lied when he said everyone would know what Eben did. As if the tattoos on his arms and the glow in his eyes weren't enough, rumors abounded about Eben before he even arrived. They all knew he'd killed people—and whether those were werewolves or innocents depended on which rumor you were listening to at the time—and that he was a member of a werewolf pack and the claimed mate of the alpha. Eben quickly realized no one knew what that meant—or pretty much anything about werewolves at all. The students were equal parts afraid of and hateful to him. Lorelai and Solomon approached him after about two weeks of mistreatment by Artemas and his friends to ask Eben for the real story behind the rumors. He was all too happy to clear up the misconceptions. They've been his best friends ever since.
"I have," Eben says, belatedly. "Erastus let me keep my cell phone. I can call and check up on them at night."
"How are they?"
"They're good. Bored, which is a blessing. I think they've been having dinner with Dad once a week." He rolls his eyes, although he hates that he's missing all that quality time.
"Well, there's only a couple of weeks left on your sentence," Solomon assuages. "You'll get to see them soon."
Lorelai pouts. "I wish you could stay longer, even with Artemas being a jerk. We'll miss you when you're gone."
Solomon nods his agreement.
Eben shakes his head. "I'll miss you guys, too, but I don't belong here. I've been labeled a dark sorcerer. I have no place at the Consilium, once my sentence here is up. But you two are more than welcome to come visit. You know where I live, and you have my number."
"Your pack wouldn't mind?" Lorelai asks.
"No." Eben dips the mop in the bucket of dirty water to get some of the blood off. "I'm telling you guys, they're not animals. They're not territorial and unreasonable like everyone here seems to think. Even when they're wolves, they aren't wild."
"But…but how do you know?" Solomon asks, fascinated.
"I spend the full moon with them, doofus," Eben says. "Every month—well, every month up until this summer. We play tag and stuff. It's totally fun."
"Tag?" Solomon repeats. "With werewolves? Isn't that like asking to be bitten?"
"No. Look, I'm not afraid of them. I'm pack; they'd never hurt me."
"What about people who aren't pack?" He asks, gesturing between himself and Lorelai.
"Only if you were considered a threat, and as long as you didn't attack any of us, you wouldn't be a threat." And God, but it's hard to get blood off of cobblestone floors. How old is this place?
"It's just weird," Solomon states. "Nobody's ever been with a werewolf pack before—no magicians, I mean. You should document it."
"I have been," Eben admits. "I've got computer files—naming no names, of course. I wouldn't want to implicate anyone."
"Ooh, I bet that's fascinating," Lorelai says. "Send it to me?"
She pumps her fist triumphantly.
Eben would wipe the sweat on his brow, but he's covered in pig's blood. There's really no point in smearing it around. "Look, you guys don't have to stick around while I clean this up. We've all got to get up early in the morning."
They're both shaking their heads before he even gets done talking. Lorelai says, "We're staying. Now, hurry up. We've got to get up early in the morning."
He considers splashing pig's blood on her, but she'd probably come kill him in his sleep.
His room is warm, probably because of the candles and oil lamps. The mansion doesn't have much electricity, because there's too much risk of one of the students losing their temper and blowing out the fusebox. Eben has one electrical outlet in his whole room, which he uses to charge his phone. There are two bookshelves on either side of his bed, and three arching windows. There's also a desk, with papers strewn across it, where he does his homework. Rugs blanket the stone floor, so he takes his clothes off before he reaches them, then wanders to the attached bathroom to shower. Despite the old building, there are new bathroom appliances, and the shower runs hot.
Once he's washed away the blood, he dresses, takes care of his nightly ritual, and crawls into bed with his phone. He lives for these moments of solitude, when he can call home and hear the voices of his loved ones.
They should just be sitting down to dinner, so Eben punches in his dad's phone number and listens to it ring.
"Hey, Eben!" His dad says when he answers.
"Hey, Dad. How's everyone?"
"Good. They're all right here. I'll put you on speaker."
He hears all the voices of the pack clamoring to speak at once, and he laughs. "Hi, guys! Hope you're not eating Dad out of house and home."
"Only a little," Caleb admits.
"I miss you guys," Eben says, and he hates that his voice cracks. It's dark, but he covers his eyes with his free hand anyway.
"Eben," Drystan says, and Eben shivers at the gruffness in his voice, "is everything okay?"
Eben promised the last time they were separated that he wouldn't lie just to keep them from feeling bad. "No," he admits. "Everything's not okay. I miss you guys, and I miss being at home in my own bed, and I miss not being in the magical version of a Stephen King novel."
"What?" His dad asks.
Eben huffs, and then explains about the prank with the pig's blood. "It was after classes were over. I was going into Erastus's classroom to clean up for the day. Artemas and his friends were standing in the hallway. I try to just ignore them—for their own sake, as well as my own—so I didn't even look twice at them. And when I opened the door to the classroom, wham! Pig's blood. All over me. Which I had to clean up."
"Where was Erastus?" Madison asks, sounding indignant.
"He'd turned in for the evening."
"You should tell him," Drystan says. "He wouldn't stand for this. He knows your magic can be chaotic. Those boys could get hurt irritating you."
Eben snorts. "I'm not going to be snitch. And I'm not going to fight back. Don't tell me to fight back. The whole reason I'm here is to get control of this, and I can't do that if I'm cutting people's heads off with their notebooks."
He hears an indelicate snort, but he's not sure who it is.
"Why do they treat you this way?" Gunnar asks. "They know how powerful you are, right?"
"I guess. I don't know. I kind of think half of them are scared of me, and the other half hate me on sight. It probably doesn't help that I walk around in tee shirts, so everyone can see the tattoos." He raises his free arm, and his heightened sight allows him to see the twisting lines on his arms. "Maybe it makes them feel tough to pick on someone that they know is a criminal?"
"You're not a criminal, Eben," his dad assures.
"To them I am. I'm on the dark sorcerers' registry, or whatever it is. I'm blacklisted."
"Well, you only have a couple more weeks," Drystan says. "Then we'll be picking you up from the airport."
"Thank God. Although, I'll miss Lorelai and Solomon. Those two have been good to me. They've stuck by me, even though people make fun of them for hanging out with the outcast."
"Odd names, there," Gunnar notes.
"Yeah, I fit right in, in that case. A lot of the kids here have old names, handed down through the generations. Everyone calls me 'Kardos,' though. I keep correcting them, and they just look at me like I'm stupid."
"Son, it's just a name," his dad says.
"No, it's not. I'm a Savage. Mom wanted me to have that name, and I'm proud of it. The Kardos name isn't exactly sterling around here, thanks to Sebastian and me."
"Any news on Sebastian?" Drystan asks.
"Nope. Last time I saw Avery or Blaine, they still hadn't had any luck finding him. I guess when he wants to hide, he makes sure to cover his tracks."
"Shame," Drystan sighs.
"Yeah." Eben rolls over and balances his phone on his cheek. "How is everything there? Nothing weird or dangerous going on?"
"Totally normal since spring," his dad says. "With the exception of some minor stuff."
"What minor stuff?"
"It's nothing serious, son, really. We've had a grave robbery, that's all."
"Grave robbery," Eben repeats.
"Desecration," his dad admits. "A body's gone missing."
"From the cemetery."
"Why didn't you mention this before?"
"It didn't seem like your kind of thing. As far as we can tell, it was dug up with a shovel. It looks human."
"Hm," Eben hums suspiciously. "Keep me updated. Sounds fishy."
"Of course," his dad replies, somewhat dryly.
"No need to be snappy! I've earned the right to be paranoid about the goings-on of Hollow Rock, you hear?"
"I agree," Drystan says. "What time is it there?"
"Almost ten," Eben groans. "I've got be up at dawn. I should've been in bed sooner, but I had to clean up pig's blood because Artemas is worse than Cory ever was."
"They both seem to have an affinity for dumping liquids over your head," his dad notes, voice light.
"I prefer the pink paint, honestly."
"Seriously?" Caleb asks. "That sucked."
"It's pig's blood, Caleb," Eben argues. "It's a little nastier than digging paint out of your ear. I looked and smelled like something from the set of a zombie movie." He groans tiredly and rolls over onto his other side. "I should probably get some sleep. Early day tomorrow."
"Before you go," Drystan says, "have you had any luck finding a way to get rid of the tattoos?"
Eben sighs. "No. Erastus says he's never heard of anyone being able to get rid of dark magic marks. Guess I'm stuck with them."
"That's okay," Drystan says. "Get some rest. We'll see you soon."
"Okay. Love you guys."
"We love you, too," they chorus together, and Eben hangs up with a smile on his face.
There's no magic allowed in the halls. Students are only allowed to perform spells under supervision. Eben thinks that's probably a good idea, as it prevents accidents and fights from breaking out between students. It's also probably the only reason why Eben has been able to restrain himself this long.
"I guess you're probably used to having blood on your hands, though, right?" Artemas says, aiming a perfectly straight, white toothed smile at Eben in the hallway. Around him, some of his friends whisper amongst themselves, watching Eben for a reaction. Artemas is the only one who's been brave enough to openly mock him. The others just seem awed by his bravery, which only serves to inflate his ego.
The thing is, it's completely true. Eben knows what it's like to have literal blood on his hands. He remembers ripping hearts from chests and breaking bones with his bare hands. He remembers being locked in a basement room and digging his thumbs into the eyes of one of his captors. He wonders, if Artemas knew just how true his words were, would he still be willing to taunt Eben about it? No one here, except Lorelai and Solomon, who would never tell his story without his permission, know what really happened to him. There's some truth to the rumors, but no one really knows.
"Do you really think it's a good idea to taunt me, Artemas?" Eben asks as he walks by.
"Hey, there's no magic allowed here," Artemas says, extending his arms to gesture around the hallway. "What are you going to do?"
And that's it. That does it. For all his talk about turning the other cheek and keeping his head down until he can go home, he can't just let this go. He didn't fight tooth and nail to get free of Quentin's pack just to have his past made light of by some spoiled, upper class brat who's never had to lift a finger to defend himself.
He takes a step toward him when he feels a hand on his shoulder. When he turns, he sees Erastus standing behind him, a serene smile on his wrinkled ebony face. Behind him, Artemas is still taunting him, saying something about how much trouble he'll be in, but Eben knows that isn't true. Erastus has never lost his temper with him.
"With me, please, Mr. Savage," Erastus says, and Eben is so grateful to hear his real last name that he doesn't think twice about following.
They go to Erastus's classroom, which is empty for now. He doesn't have classes until after lunch.
"What did he do this time?" Erastus asks as he goes to erase yesterday's lesson from the chalkboard.
"It… Nothing," Eben says, pulling himself up onto one of the tables and setting his bag beside him.
"That didn't look like nothing."
Eben scratches absently at the marks on his forearm. "Just spoiled kids being themselves, really."
"You know you could come to me, if he does something to you." Erastus stares at him pointedly, and Eben wonders if he should've sprayed something in the air to get rid of the pig's blood smell by the door. He doesn't think he can still smell it. Maybe he still has some in his hair.
"I know I could," Eben says. "I just haven't needed to."
Erastus gives him a knowing look over the wire frame of his glasses, then goes to his desk to straighten the papers there.
"Before we get started on your lessons for the day, there's something I'd like to discuss with you," Erastus starts carefully, and Eben straightens. "I've put it off, because I wanted to wait until closer to the time when you would be returning home."
"Okay. What is it?"
"You're in a very unique position, Eben. No other magician has ever been part of a werewolf pack, and certainly no one has ever been the destined mate of an alpha. It's unheard of. Our kinds don't usually mix, as I'm sure you've noticed. Most magicians hold only disdain for werewolves, or they're too ignorant to know any better."
"The truth is," Erastus leans against the front of his desk, facing Eben, "I don't know what becoming his mate will do to you."
Eben blinks. "Do to me?" He repeats.
"How much do you know about werewolves' mating habits?"
Eben shrugs. "I know once there's the emotional connection, the…physical one completes the bond. I know an alpha needs an equal, and gender doesn't matter. Why?"
"When two werewolves mate, it opens up a connection between them. They can sense each other's emotions and thoughts, on a primitive level. They can sense when one of them is in pain, or scared, or upset. When a werewolf mates with a human, this connection is one-sided. The werewolf can sense the emotions of the human, but the human doesn't have the capacity for this connection on his or her own end of the relationship. Does this make sense?"
"You're not human," Erastus says. "Humans don't have magic. You're a magician—a sorcerer. You also happen to have some aspects of a werewolf in you, due to your uncle's corrupted magic. And this means that you are something entirely new."
"And you don't know what kind of connection I'll have with him once we become mates." Eben's stomach drops.
"I don't want to scare you, and I don't want you to not mate with him, because I know you care deeply for him. I just want you to be aware of what may happen to you. You could share a connection like a werewolf would, or like a human, or like something else entirely. We don't know how a magician's magic would react to a mate bond with an alpha werewolf."
His birthday is in just over three weeks. They'll find out pretty quickly.
Eben nods. "Well, I'm still going to go through with it, but thanks for letting me know what to expect."
Erastus nods. "You're welcome. And of course, feel free to contact me if you have any further questions, after you go home."
Eben has never been so grateful to anyone in his life.
AN: In case you haven't looked, on my profile, there's a link to see the model I found for Drystan. I have no idea who he is, and he's holding an archery bow, which, while hot (I have one myself), doesn't really have anything to do with Drystan. But his general build and hairstyle and facial features are all how I picture Drystan in my head. I stumbled across it on Tumblr, so go take a look! Just copy and paste it into your browser.