Adelaide stared at her Algebra homework and sighed heavily. The more she tried to concentrate on the numbers, the more they looked like gibberish. She tapped the eraser of her pencil against her book and pushed back from her desk. Standing, she paced around her room, chewing on the end of her pencil. The fading light outside her window told her that the evening was nearing dusk, and her mother would be home soon. Her stomach grumbled and she could smell Griffin's spaghetti from across the house.
Adelaide's mind kept wandering to earlier that day, when Mr. Swithins had winked at her when saying something about witches. He didn't think she was a witch, did he? Maybe he was. She scoffed at herself for thinking something so absurd and made her way back to her math homework. As she began to work out the first problem again, she heard the doorbell ring.
"Can you get that?" Griffin yelled up the stairs.
"I'm busy!" Adelaide shouted back.
"I'm cooking! Just answer the door," His voice faded as he disappeared into the kitchen. Adelaide rolled her eyes and stood, trotting down the stairs. She wasn't expecting anyone, but she wondered if Griffin was. She reached the door and pulled it open.
"Emma?" She gaped. "What're you doing here? Better yet, how do you know where I live?" She sensed Griffin curiously lurking in the foyer behind her and she stepped out onto the patio, shutting the door.
The blonde girl gave her a small smile. "I'm here to give you this binder. You left it behind after PE. I went back to get my stuff before being sent to the principal and saw it. I picked it up for you," She shrugged a shoulder.
"Oh," She gently took the binder from Emma's hands. "Thanks," She clutched it to her chest. "And the second question?"
"Right. I followed you here. After school. Today."
"Wha...er... If, uh, if you followed me just today, why didn't you give this to me earlier?"
Emma shrugged and mumbled an "I don't know".
"Okay, well, thanks again," Adelaide gestured to the binder, reaching behind her for the knob. She grasped it firmly and turned.
"Listen, I hope this doesn't put you off. I think you're really interesting and I hope we can be friends."
"Yeah, maybe," Adelaide gave her a small smile. "See you tomorrow."
Adelaide watched Emma saunter away before she went back into the house. Griffin stood there, an apron tied around his body.
"Who was it?" Anxiety was etched across his features.
"Just someone from school. She was returning this," Adelaide paused. "You're rocking Mom's apron,"
"Please, Mom never cooks, you know this is mine. And don't try to change the subject. Did she say she followed us home?"
"Yeah. Do you ever not hear anything?" Adelaide joked, trying to relieve the tension in the room.
"I can't help my hearing. Do you think she's a..." Griffin trailed off, but Adelaide knew what he was going to say.
"A Watcher?" Adelaide finished for him. "No. She's just a student. Relax, Griff." Adelaide made her way toward the stairs. "We'll be fine,"
"Will we?" His words stopped her in her tracks, her hand halfway to the banister. "Because what you're telling me is that there's absolutely no way the Seven will find us here, and if that girl is a Watcher for the Seven-"
"Griffin," Adelaide's tone was warning.
"Look, Adelaide, you brought us here. You said we would be safe here, that we wouldn't be found here," He paused, nervously rubbing the back of his neck. "If this girl's a Watcher-"
"How could she be a Watcher? She has legs. Only we can sprout legs when we're out of the water. Believe me, she is not a Watcher."
Both Adelaide and Griffin started at the sound of their mother's old car clanking into the driveway. Adelaide turned on her heels and swept herself up the stairs as Griffin hurried back into the kitchen. As soon as she closed her bedroom door, the front one swung open. Adelaide slumped against the barrier with a sigh; their mother was always in a mood when she returned home.
The next day after class had ended, Mr. Swithins had asked Adelaide to stay back with him so they could "discuss something". She had hesitantly agreed, and there they were, staring at each other. Mr. Swithins leaned against his desk and crossed his arms over his chest. His chocolate brown eyes bored into hers and she swallowed hard.
"A-am I in trouble?" She implored.
"No. No, not really," A smirk tugged at the corner of his mouth.
"'Not really'?" Her brow furrowed.
"What are you doing here, Adelaide?"
"You asked me to talk after class,"
"I mean, what are you doing in this town?" He exhaled exasperatedly.
"I-I don't..." Adelaide trailed off, biting the inside of her cheek. Mr. Swithins stepped toward her and put his lips to her ear.
"I know what you are," He whispered, and her mouth went dry. "And there are no Mer-people near this coast, so I repeat," He moved back into his original position against his desk. "What are you doing here?"
"My family and I had to flee from our home," Adelaide sighed, giving up. "But the real question is, how do you know what I am?"
"I'll tell you if you tell me why you fled,"
"It's a rather long story, and I have to get to class-"
"I'll write you a pass,"
"Mr. Swithins, I don't want to show up to class late on the first day of the week,"
"Fine. Then meet me here at the beginning of lunch,"
"I can't. I go home at lunch with my brother,"
"Ah, yes. Griffin. Well, bring him, too."
"I-" She sighed again. "Fine. We'll meet you here at lunch." Adelaide gathered her stuff and headed for the door.
"Enjoy fourth period, Ms. Norewood." Mr. Swithins called as the door shut behind her.
Adelaide spent fourth period absolutely dreading lunch. She went through all of her steps through the past week, replaying every word she'd said, every person she'd talked to, every move she and Griffin had made. She hadn't once said the words mermaid, or siren since she'd left her home. Maybe Griffin told someone, She thought as she stared down at her Algebra 1 textbook. I guess I'll find out at lunch.
Once the dismissal bell rang, the rest of her peers raced from the room, overzealous to eat school food. Adelaide took her time packing her things into her bag and finally met Griffin outside of her classroom five minutes after the bell had rung.
"What took you so long?" He asked, hooking his thumbs into the straps of his backpack.
"Never mind that. I have to go meet my teacher. He wants to see you, too," She sighed, running a hand through her blond hair.
"Why does he want to meet me?"
"He knows what we are," She hissed in his ear.
"You told him!" Griffin stopped dead in his tracks, halfway to her history class. The hall around them was empty.
"No. I didn't,"
"Then how does he know?"
"He said he'll tell us if we tell him why we had to leave," Adelaide lowered her voice, watching the floor as they hurried from the cafeteria.
"I don't trust him," Griffin's eyes narrowed as they continued on.
"You don't know him,"
"Neither do you,"
"True," Adelaide sighed.
"What's his name?" Griffin hiked his backpack higher up on his shoulders.
"Wait," Griffin stopped again. "Elyas Swithins?" He arched an eyebrow.
"I dunno. Maybe. Can we just keep walking, please?" She made a let's go motion with her hands and as she turned back around, she ran into a student, knocking their notebook and her messenger bag to the ground.
"God. I'm sorry," She looked up into brown eyes shielded by dark shaggy hair. "Toby," She breathed, and bent to retrieve his sketchbook. "Hi," She held it out to him and he snatched it from her grasp.
"Hi." He huffed before moving around them. Griffin, with his hands in his pockets, watched Toby as he hurried down the hall and into a nearby art classroom.
"Who's that?" Griffin asked.
"Just a boy in my PE and English classes. No one special," She watched him disappear into the classroom, their gazes locking as he let the door close behind him.
They came to Mr. Swithins' room and she reached for the doorknob. Adelaide went in first and Griffin followed on her heels.
"Ah! The Norewoods!" Mr. Swithins turned from the chalkboard and clapped his hands together. He held his right one out to Griffin, who shook it. "Elyas Swithins,"
"So it is true," Griffin breathed, shaking the teacher's hand like a zombie.
"What's true?" Adelaide's brow furrowed.
"You've heard of me," Elyas grinned smugly and held his head high.
"I have, but I've not heard good things," Griffin glared at the man under heavy eyebrows.
"Really? None?" Elyas' face fell ever so slightly.
Griffin shook his head.
"Griff, who is he?" Adelaide asked.
"Your history teacher is Elyas Swithins, the oldest Witch alive," Griffin studied Elyas with narrowed eyes.
"I prefer Wizard, Warlock, pretty much anything but Witch," Elyas' comment went unnoticed.
"That's how you know who we are," She paused as something clicked into place. "That's also why you winked at me the other day!" Adelaide's eyes widened.
"Indeed," Swithins grinned.
"You catch on fast," Griffin mumbled under his breath.
Adelaide ignored him. "Well... What Coven are you from?"
Elyas opened his mouth to answer but Griffin cut him off. "He was excommunicated from the Felmanes Coven in the late 1600's and has been Coven-less ever since," Griffin kept his steady gaze on the Witch before him.
"You do your homework," Elyas seemed impressed. "Riddle me this: why was I excommunicated?"
"For creating and using an illegal spell."
"Why was the spell illegal?"
"It was created by yourself for your own benefit," Griffin paused. "You had selfish motives,"
"What was the spell?"
"It was the Fountain of Youth potion. It's kept you young forever,"
"Very good," Elyas rubbed his chin, his dimples showing themselves. "Well, I held up my part of the deal, now you. Tell me, what kingdom are you from?" He looked to Adelaide.
"We hail from Olysp," Griffin answered for her.
"I see." The man straightened and began to pace. "Olysp is under King Murvyn's rule, is it not?"
"It is," Adelaide nodded.
"I see." He repeated. "It is becoming a bit clearer to me as to why you fled, considering the totalitarian government Murvyn runs, but perhaps you could enlighten me completely,"
Adelaide sighed and sat on a desk near the front of the room.
"It was a few months ago, early in the morning. I had been monitoring my usual spot off the coast of the Grecian peninsula and a small boat came by. It carried three passengers; a man, a woman and a child. I didn't try to conceal myself as protocol states I must in the presence of humans; I just floated, barely under the surface, watching the boat pass above me. The child was the first to see me. She smiled at me. She was this adorable little blonde thing, with fat, rosey cheeks. I'd never seen a human child so close before, just the grown men who want to hurt me, and I them." Adelaide said, dropping her gaze momentarily. "I didn't want to hurt her."
Elyas folded his arms over his chest and cocked his head, immersed in her story.
"The woman screamed and panicked when she saw me and pulled the girl away from the side of the boat. The man tried to catch me with a large net he most likely kept in the dinghy, but I swam off before it could even graze my tail. But it was all so chaotic, and I didn't know what to do. I know I should've started singing when they saw me, but every time I tried to I could only think of watching the little girl drown. And when the woman looked at me...The-the pure horror on her face..." She looked at Griffin, whose features were etched with concern, and then back down at her scuffed-up Converse. "We fled that night, before Murvyn's men could come for me,"
Elyas took a deep breath and cleared his throat. "Now, just to clarify, you fled because you didn't do your duty, which is to send anyone who comes too close to the kingdom to their watery graves, for lack of a better term?"
Adelaide nodded once.
Elyas inhaled deeply, rubbing the back of his neck. He returned to his original position and leaned against his desk.
"Well, I'm sorry you had to leave your home," He paused. "I remember what it was like for me to leave my home," He murmured thoughtfully.
"Pardon?" Griffin crossed his arms over his chest.
"Never mind. Completely unimportant. However, may I ask - I've never quite understood this - how, if you're a Siren, do you have legs?" Elyas shifted uncomfortably.
"Only Sirens, which is what my mother and I are, and Warriors, which is what Griffin is," From the corner of her eye she could see Griffin perk up at the mention of his duty. "Can, I guess, grow legs when out of the water. But if you place a drop of salt water on either of our legs, we get our tails back."
"What's a Warrior?"
"Sirens protect their kingdoms from humans, Warriors protect their kingdoms from other Mer kingdoms." Griffin held his head high. Elyas nodded once.
He cleared his throat. "Now, tell me about your Gifts,"
"Our Gifts? Right, well..." Adelaide trailed off, looking to her brother for help.
"You know what Gifts are, right?"
"Not entirely," Mr. Swithins said.
"Well, when a Mer-person is ranked, like say when they become a Warrior or a Siren, they are bestowed upon them a certain Gift that no one else has." Griffin answered.
"So what are yours?"
"I can sense and sometimes control the weather," Griffin said.
"What do you mean sometimes control?"
"I can only control the weather if it helps me defeat an attacking kingdom,"
"I see. And yours?" Elyas turned to Adelaide.
"Unfortunately, Sirens all get the same gift; We have sonar, basically. We can see something coming for miles." Adelaide explained.
It was quiet for a moment. "This is a lot of information," Elyas ran a hand through his hair.
"Indeed. Tell any of it to anyone and I'll spill your blood." Griffin threatened, stepping toward the Witch, who stood a few inches shorter.
"You can't kill me," Elyas almost laughed.
"That Fountain of Youth potion made you forever young, not immortal." When Elyas held his hands up in defeat, Griffin pulled his bag onto his shoulder and made his way to the door.
"I assume we're finished here?" Griffin asked.
"Not yet, there's just one more thing." Adelaide stopped him. "How exactly do you know what we are?"
Elyas grinned and folded his arms over his chest. "I dreamed about you."
"You dreamed about us?" Adelaide raised an eyebrow.
"Not the both of you. Just you," He nodded his head toward Adelaide.
"Just me? What was it about?" Adelaide's brow furrowed.
"I died?" She and Griffin exchanged worried glances.
"I wouldn't worry. About fifty percent of my dreams are simply that; dreams." Elyas flashed his dimples as the bell to end lunch rang.
"What's the other fifty percent?" Griffin eyes the Witch wearily.
Mr. Swithins' smile fell and he sighed heavily. "Well, I hate to say it, but they're prophecies."
A/N: I decided to change what had happened in this chapter because I felt like what had happened before this update was too rushed. So here you go! Enjoy, and please review!