It had been three weeks since Cassadee had seen Grayson, her classes were on a different schedule, due to her being a first-year and him being in his second.
The excitement for the first official Driftchase game could be felt in the air, the energy was exhilarating, and Cassadee could hardy keep her classmates focused on their studies.
Professor Fowler, who taught healing potions, had given them all a hands-on assignment, which required the students to experiment in the dungeon, below the west wing.
The dungeon was made up entirely of stone, the sound of trickling water could be heard as the students walked into the room. The dungeon had no lighting, except for the torches burning about the room, giving a very dark element to the atmosphere. Small wooden tables were lined side by side, ready for the students.
"Pick a fellow student for a companion, you shall be teaming up for this potions class." Said Fowler as he took his spot by the far wall, most likely so he could overlook the students, or intimidate them.
Cassadee did not know anybody in her class and searched the room for a partner. A short girl, with brown curly hair and blue eyes, approached her, looking very nervous.
"Hello, my name is Everliegh Rose." Said the girl as she glanced over at Fowler.
"Well, we better get started." Said Cassadee as she walked around to the wooden table, and immediately began examining the ingredients available.
The girl slowly took her place beside Cassadee at the table, also overlooking the ingredients already chosen for them. Cassadee began to formulate a potion that she had studied in her head, she had wanted to make the sleep potion, but the needed ingredients were not available.
"What potion should we do?" Asked Everleigh.
"I was thinking the strength potion, we have all the ingredients for it." Cassadee answered as she began to unwrap a packet of hazel petals.
"We haven't learned a potion like that yet." Said Everleigh in a tone of worry, still looking at Fowler seething in the corner.
"I read about it last night," said Cassadee as she handed a paper to Everleigh. "now, take the silk sage and abyss galangal and smash it together with your fingers. I'll take the candy sassafras and pearl mint to the fire."
Everleigh looked confused as she began to do as Cassadee had asked, she had never hand-made a potion before, and was extremely scared to try, especially because of professor Fowler.
Time passed quickly as the students worked on their potions, the room began to fill with strange smells, some new and exciting, some dull and repulsive. Cassadee thought about the Driftchase game that night, hoping that she would find a good seat.
Professor Fowler's pocket watch began to ring intensively, he looked up at the tables of students, a mean glare spreading over his face. "Times up!" He yelled.
Cassadee nearly jumped at the sudden sound of his voice, his tone was so low and filled with anger, almost as if he resented his occupation.
He made his way over to the first wooden table, two timid-looking boys looked down at their feet as Fowler overlooked their potion. When Fowler had finished staring into the metal bowl and scrunching his nose in disgust, he looked up to make eye contact with the boys, both meeting his gaze.
"This is the most repulsive potion I have ever had the misfortune to examine, your grade is Pointless!" Shouted Fowler as the room became filled with anxious murmurs of worry, each team concerned for their own potions.
After Fowler examined each person's potion before them, and each one meeting a similar critique, Fowler arrived at Cassadee and Everleigh's table.
Cassadee closed her eyes in worry as Fowler bent down to smell her potion, the steam rising to meet him instead. He straightened his back after he was finished, a look of confusion upon his face, Cassadee felt her next breath stuck inside her lungs.
"Your grade is Exceptional!" Said Fowler as he gave a loud clap of his hands, Cassadee opened her eyes, shocked that he had approved of their potion.
The students were dismissed for their leisurely time before the second period, Cassadee ran to the library, in hope of finding information on the grading system at Valenyer.
After going through almost every shelf in the first section she decided to ask the librarian, Fen Lace for help. He was busy going through a box of books behind the second shelf, humming quietly to himself.
"Excuse me, sir," said Cassadee. "can you help me find a book?"
"What book are you looking for?" Fen asked as he stacked two more books on the shelf facing him.
"The Valenyer grading system." Answered Cassadee.
"Ah," said Lace as he tapped his chin with his finger. "that would be located in the third section, second shelf to the right."
Cassadee thanked him, happy to finally be sure about the whereabouts of the book. After grabbing the book she headed to the Study Hall for some light reading before the Driftchase game, the Study Hall was empty, leaving her the perfect opportunity to read in silence.
After plopping herself down into the reading chair, pulling her book out, and clearing her throat, she began to read. After twenty minutes of reading, she learned that at Valenyer there were only five grades that could be received, and those grades were, pointless, appalling, finer, exceptional, and flawless.
She heard the bell ring, the second period was about to begin, and she couldn't be late. Throwing her books into her bag, she took to the corridors in a run, not bothering to fix her collar like normal.
The day passed quickly, next thing Cassadee knew, she was sitting in a top bleacher cheering the Valenyer Driftchase team on against the rival school, Arcane. The game was going well, Valenyer was winning by three goals. Cassadee was so busy cheering that she didn't notice Everleigh sneak beside her, and upon sitting down said hi.
"Hello," Cassadee answered, a little confused as to why Everleigh was even talking to her, they had just met that day.
"How's the game going?" asked Everleigh as she set her bag down, looking up in the sky at the players while she did.
Cassadee clapped as the next goal for Valenyer slid through the net.
Everleigh looked at Cassadee as she cheered, seeming to conclude that she hadn't heard the question.
"How's the game going?" She repeated.
Cassadee continued cheering as loud as the crowd, purposely ignoring Everleighs question, leaving the air between them tense.
Everleigh understood the situation, and gathered her bag, leaving as fast as she could. The game ended with Valenyers victory over Arcane.
Cassadee waited for Grayson outside the Hourglass stadium, the cool night air cooling down her flushed skin. Grayson walked out with his uniform back on, he had his arm wrapped around the shoulders of another young man. The young man had curly fiery red hair, deep green eyes, and a captivating smile. Grayson looked the complete opposite, he was tall, tan, and had dark hair and blue eyes.
As they neared the spot where Cassadee was standing, Grayson began yelling her name and laughing uncontrollably. When the young man stopped in front of Cassadee she could see that Grayson was clearly intoxicated with drink, he could barely open his eyes, much less converse with a mutual friend.
"Oh, Grayson!" Cassadee said shrilly, taking a step backward. "How could you do such a horrid thing? You could be expelled!"
"It wasn't only his fault, the coach bought some local ale as a celebration, and Grayson just overdid it a bit." Said the young man.
"Well, your not drunk are you?" Asked Cassadee as she let her anger show. "So yes, it was entirely his fault, he choose to drink beyond his limit."
The young man gave a slight chuckled before answering. "Your right Miss Stormstrum. My apologies."
Cassadee's anger hid back beneath the surface.
"How do you know my name?"
"Well, if you must know, Grayson likes to talk about you." Answered the boy as he shifted Grayson's weight.
Cassadee nodded her head in understanding.
"Please give me congratulations to Grayson when he's, er-better." Said Cassadee as she turned to walk back to the east wing.
The grass was coated in dew as Cassadee slowly made her way from Grayson and his friend.
"Hey, Stormstrum!" Yelled the boy as Cassadee turned around to face his voice, he was grinning widely. "My name is Albert Hasley!"
Cassadee gave a soft chuckle as she turned to go, she would never understand some people.
The next day in potions class, professor Fowler allowed the second years to come in and experiment with them. Grayson and Albert stood beside Cassadee, Albert smiling just as wide as the night before when he had yelled her his name. But Cassadee ignored his blissful cheer as she focused all of her attention on Fowler, who was demonstrating how to test your potion safely.
Fowler called Cassadee's name to demonstrate how to properly unlock the powers of your potion by a riddle, greatly emphasizing that if you say the riddle wrong your potion could develop deadly effects.
"Miss Stormstrum, please unlock the powers to this dream potion." Said Fowler as he handed her the bowl.
Cassadee looked down into the liquid pink sludge, not wanting to disappoint Fowler as she tried to recall the riddle, finally it snapped.
"Many have heard me, yet nobody has seen me. I won't speak back unless spoken to...What am I?" Said Cassadee, the class held their breath, in fear of the powerful potion. "An echo."
The class gasped as the bowl exploded into the air, pink liquid rising quickly, ready to land tearfully atop of Cassadee and Fowler. But Cassadee quickly placed herself in front of Fowler and said, "Potion be gone!" and the potion disappeared from view, leaving the class and Fowler astonished.
The room was filled with confused murmurs, Fowler looked at Cassadee and then at the empty potion bowl, he looked completely bewildered.
Cassadee had no idea what she had done, why were they all so shocked? Even Grayson and Albert were looking at her weirdly, despite her normal behavior.
Finally, Fowler seemed to regain composer. "Class dismissed."
The students seemed in a rush as they ran out of the dungeon, pushing past Cassadee as they did, only Albert was left standing there, a look of shock still upon his face. Professor Fowler asked Cassadee if he could speak with her privately before she was dismissed, and she reluctantly agreed.
Albert disappeared from view as he left the dungeon, taking his empty book bag with him, carefully making sure to give Cassadee a weak smile before leaving, which she returned, as if out of sheer habit. The bowl that Cassadee had used was now in Fowler's hands, who was closely examining it, checking for any sign as to where the potion could have gone.
After seemingly concluding that the potion was not returning, Fowler put the bowl down to face Cassadee, who was waiting patiently for instructions. Fowler cleared his throat as he eyed the empty bowl, his inability to handle serious situations showing through.
The sound of the students loud chatter as they crossed the bridge could be heard, the wind carrying their voices back down towards the dungeon.
"Cassadee," Fowler said in a very hesitant tone. "I need you to understand something."
Cassadee just continued to remain focused upon Fowler as he continued.
"The way that you made that liquid disappear, it's like nothing I've ever seen, at least at Valenyer. I need you to inform me on how you did this little miracle."
Cassadee was at a loss for words, she had no idea how she had gotten the scalding hot liquid to disappear, but she was certainly happy that it had worked.
"Professor Fowler, I would be happy to tell you how I did it sir, if only I knew."
Fowler cast her a look, a look that told her he did not believe her words, and believed her to be hiding her secret. The room grew deathly quiet, leaving Fowler no other choice but to dismiss her.
As Cassadee walked across the bridge, her mind began to wander, thinking about how she had made that potion disappear. She heard footsteps behind her, and upon turning her head to look at the source of the sound, she saw Albert's hand grab her book bag from out of her hands.
"Excuse me...what Are you doing?" Cassadee practically shouted.
"A lady as pretty as yourself should never carry her own book bag." He replied with a lasting chuckle, setting his pace to match hers as they made their way across the bridge.
Cassadee decided not to argue, she focused her mind back upon the incident in the potion dungeon.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Albert said as he quickened his pace to match Cassadees.
"What if I get expelled?" Cassadee said in a panicked tone. " All for something that happened on accident!"
Albert grabbed her hand, pulling her gently to follow him.
"What are you doing?" She asked.
"Taking you somewhere to make you forget some of your troubles." Albert answered as he pulled her faster.
Cassadee hadn't the faintest idea as to where Albert could be taking her, but she knew that he was indeed the most impulsive boy she has ever known. Finally they made it back to the east wing, but instead of going back inside the school he continued to lead her across the front grounds, past where the students spent their free time.
Finally he stopped pulling her forward, stopping in front of a row of Crystle clear glass homes, not any bigger than a large bush. Cassadee could see the Ravens flying frantically around the small houses, their screeching could be heard from where Cassadee was standing.
"What are these?" Asked Cassadee.
"These are the raven Barnes" Albert answered. "the coach keeps them here until they are needed for game time."
Cassadee drew closer, looking intently at the one raven in the first house, it eyed her, but ceased to utter one sound. Albert set Cassadee's book bag on the bright green grass, taking his place beside her, also looking at the same raven.
"It really is a wonder how the coach gets them to enlarge large enough for you all to ride." Said Cassadee.
"Somethings we're meant to remain a mystery, and I suppose that's one of them." Albert replied.
Cassadee walked back over to where she had been standing, but still kept her eyes fixed upon the ravens.
"See, you've forgotten your troubles already." Said Albert as he lightly hugged her arm.
"I haven't in the slightest, what will Fowler tell the Dean, or better yet the entire school board?" Cassadee hastliy answered.
Albert remained silent as he too stared at the birds.
That night as Cassadee laid her head on her pillow she let her mind drift to Albert, and how he had gone out of his way to make sure that she was right in the head, he really was a kind boy, and even though she wasn't ready to admit it, she needed people like him in her life, to keep her balanced and in touch.
Thank you for reading!