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Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Chapter Forty-Two

Witch with No Problems

“The plan is easy,” I say. “Get in, get the banshee’s breath, and get out. Before any drama happens.”

Sabbath fidgets with her top and, finding it perfectly secured, moves her self-consciousness to the hemline of the black leather miniskirt I made her wear. “If we’re just stopping in, why’d you make me wear this?”

A group of ninth-years brush past us, bestowing us with a judgmental glare as they make their way down the hall to the Potions Master’s door.

“Because we have to dress the part,” I explain, gesturing to my own short black dress and striped tights. “Are you suggesting you want to spend even longer in that outfit?”

“No,” Sabbath grumbles reluctantly, tossing an awkward glance at Nik. He also looks very dapper in the sweet leather jacket he’s debuting tonight and a strange human gel product that coats his hair nicely. I’m very amused by the way his eyes keep finding Sabbath and then deciding they should be anywhere else.

“Shall we?” I nod. My wedges clack dramatically as I lead the two of them to the formidable door.

Okay. Deep breath.

Raising my fist to knock, I instead find myself startling as the door peels back suddenly.

There’s a reason everyone calls Tate Allen the Potions Master. Reason number one greets us as green smoke tumbles out; his room is known for always smelling like the inside of a musty cauldron. Luckily, there are spells for that.

“Mika Carrow,” he crows, nodding at us one by one, “Sabbath Winters, and don’t know you.” Giving Nik a cursory glance, the Potions Master swings the door wide for us. Music spills out, thunderous and charged with a heavy pulse. “Welcome.”

Richer than most families at Spellfall, the Allens’ spared no expense when they paid for their son to have the largest single dorm available to students. As such, Allen hosts the most thrilling parties on campus—ones that are hardly for the faint of heart. It’s a well-substantiated theory that you can get high just from stepping foot into his room, and that is the second reason why he’s earned the title Potions Master.

“This way for prohibtions,” he calls.

“Your love was cruel, your love was fake, I’ve taught my heart how not to break— the female singer’s gravelly voice melts into the rabid beat of her remixed song as we follow our host through the murky room. Pink and green lights bleed into the haze in a pulsating rotation. The furniture has been arranged like a club, couches and chairs in clusters, a long table of brews slicing down the middle of the room where witchlings have already gathered—eager fifth-year girls hanging out in throngs, packs of troublemaking ninth-years looking to twitch out. A few older girls writhe in the middle of the room, shrieking to the music as they make an impromptu dance floor where Allen’s bed usually sits.

“Would ya like a drink? Mind, all of them will get you real pixied,” the Potions Master says in his lilt, “finger tingles and all. Careful with that one, mate.”

Suspicion crossing his face, Nik whips his hand back from a bubbly purple brew. “Why, what’s wrong with it?”

Shaking with delighted laughter, Allen answers, “Nothing. It just has boiled venom. Won’t kill ya, but gives one a real feral high.”

“Don’t worry,” I insist. “We won’t be here long enough to make scandalous choices with our reputations. I need to talk with Enzo. Have you seen him?”

“Mate, McKnight’s a bit preoccupied.” Allen gestures with a nod back into the darkest recesses of his room, where Enzo’s snuggled up with some girl. My insides twist with apprehension. Considering it looks like a really focused game of tonsil tennis they’re playing, I might have to break up this little party he’s throwing in another girl’s mouth myself.

“Great,” I mutter.

“Beware: all these potions are pretty swiggy,” Allen warns. “Get ya pixied fast and hard. Quick overview: this one will make you see in the dark, that one helps you find the silver lining in your misery, and one of these has a one-in-thirty chance of making your head explode. Have fun.”

With that, the Potions Master vanishes into the swarm of his own party, leaving us none the wiser on any of the unlabeled cauldrons or vials peppering the table.

“What the hell was he saying?” Nik asks.

“Oh, yeah!” I grin, giving Nik a playful punch. “This is your first witchling party, Mr. Fringe! So: ‘Swiggy’ is what you call a potion when you just can’t stop drinking it.”

“Addictive. Got it.”

“And ‘pixied’ is that feeling you get when your magic kind of surges after taking a potion. It happens differently for everyone, but usually you feel it here,” I wiggle my fingertips. “Pulse points for your magic.”

“Also, you ‘twitch out,’ if you get too pixied,” Sabbath informs Nik in a tone that suggests she’s spent a good deal of her life studying these effects. I can confirm that she has not.

“Swiggy, pixied, twichin’ out,” Nik repeats, tracking with our lingo. “So you guys have done this before?”

“No,” Sabbath retorts at the same time that I reply, “Only on accident.”

I shoot her a questioning look. “Why are you being a liar, Sabbath? Jesus didn’t lie.”

Turning a deep scarlet, she exclaims, “I was embarrassed!”

I incline my head toward Nik. “If you haven’t learned this about Sabbath already, let me warn you—while she may be good at pretty much any magical task given her, never, ever trust her to stew or brew. You will accidentally end up hallucinating dragons in berets.”

Sabbath covers her face with both hands, and I grin.

“Now Sab,” I warn, “don’t touch anything here. You know what this party is like? The underworld, that’s what. Eat a pomegranate seed, doom yourself to Hades.”

But Sab’s eyes are now trained on the doorway, where Callum has just walked in, arm in arm with the same girl from the Comet all those months ago.

Great, this party has already gone to Hades.

Fussing anxiously with the hem of her skirt, Sabbath crumbles, insecurity slumping her shoulders.

“It doesn’t go that low,” I say, swatting at her hands so she’ll stop tugging her skirt as close to her knees as she can. “Besides, your virgin thighs look great. Quit.”

I like to call them her virgin thighs because Sabbath doesn’t wear anything higher than her knees, due to her tragic fear that unforeseen wind will, at any moment, lift up her skirt for all to see. I’ve spent far too many words reminding her that that’s what her grandma panties are for.

“I should have worn jeans,” she protests.

Taking her by both shoulders, I force her to look me in the eye. “For seers’ sake, Sab, you look savage! And I promise there is no wind in this room.”

She twists out of my grip half-heartedly. “I need a drink.”

“Look for the vestal one!” I shout a bit too late. Sighing heavily, I watch her stomp off determinedly.

So much for no drama.

“What’s the deal with him?” Nik asks, eyes sliding from Callum to me, and finally landing on Sabbath at the far end of the drink table. Nik has about as much subtly as Sabbath does.

Basically, they’re a perfect match, and I wish they could just do something about it already.

“Callum broke her heart last year,” I explain over the music. “Said he didn’t want to be in a relationship... but apparently he just didn’t want to be in a relationship with her. Honestly, I still think Amandine had something to do with it, somehow.” I scowl at Callum, as if this will give me my answer.

“What an asshat,” Nik mutters to himself, sizing up his competition from afar.

My eyes latch onto New Kid Nik, his nose ring glinting in the pulsating light. I haven’t figured him out yet, but there’s one thing I’m definitely getting an accurate read on. “I know, right? Who wouldn’t want to be with Sabbath?”

Peering at me, he poses a question in his eye and I give him a knowing look.

Sabbath sidles up, sparkling blue liquid in hand just as a horde of girls scrambles past, giving me a clear view to the back of the room—

Where Soren Cain sits on a velvet couch, Amandine halfway into his lap. She’s attached to his neck, plying him with what is almost certainly enchanted champagne. He and I lock eyes and I hold his gaze for a second too long.

“Omens,” Sabbath groans on my behalf as I wrench my gaze away.

“Yeah, you were right. Time for a drink,” I agree.

Nik flicks his middle fingers in the direction of the couch, and a gust of wind lashes out, the champagne overturning in Amandine’s hands.

“So I take it back, there is wind here,” I note, impressed. I watch as an embarrassed Amandine scoffs, shocked that she might succumb to such a plebeian moment. The smile curling onto my lips can’t help itself. “Don’t blow Sab’s skirt up, Nik, okay? It’s, like, her worst fear.”

“Second worst fear,” Sabbath amends. “Blue one is safe by the way, Meeks. At least, I think it is.” She stares down at her drink suspiciously as I shuffle away to the refreshments table.

I really shouldn’t be surprised to see Soren here, not after Amandine’s (frankly desperate) attempt to ensnare him. Still, I’m rattled. After months of careful surveillance, avoidance, and utmost caution, I seem to be finding Soren Cain back in my orbit. It’s tragic.

Ladling some of the blue potion into a cup and bopping my head along to the catchy music, I notice a figure step into my periphery. My eyes move up just enough to see the splotch of champagne-soaked into the shirt.

“Is Amandine training to be a vampire?” I ask mildly. “Cause you’re still alive, so I think she missed your carotid artery.”

“Mika,” Soren sighs.

Offering a mocking sigh back, I tip the cup to my lips and finally look up. Soren’s face is flushed, his eyes the same color blue as the potion I’m drinking.

The concoction fizzes and pops as soon as it hits my tongue and, swallowing, I shrug. “I get it. Why guys like you are all about girls like her. What I don’t get is how you know she’s slipping potions into your drink, and you just let her do it anyway.”

“Sounds like you care.”

“Oh, I don’t,” I assure him, finding a very interesting spot to look at in the darkness above his right ear. “It just gives me a nice little high, knowing an evil mastermind like you dissolves into such an ignoramus when it comes to Amandine. She controls you. Feels like I’ve found your weakness.”

“Amandine’s not my weakness.”

A single, mirthful laugh escapes me. Even though I shouldn’t give a rat’s tail about it, the truth is that I hate seeing Soren with Amandine LeFevre almost as much as I hate Soren himself. But it’s only to be expected—we’re Amandine’s playthings to torment and Soren’s pawns to manipulate.

“You two belong together,” I hiss through my teeth, heart hammering in my chest.

Unable to meet my eye, Soren drops his gaze to his feet.

“You came!”

Dazed, I twist to see Enzo beaming at me, apparently on his halftime break from tonsil tennis. His hair is ruffled, lipstick smeared against his stubbly jawline.

Soren stalks off. Reluctantly, I watch him go, trying to tell myself I enjoy seeing him walk away from me so that he can return to Amandine.

“Yes, well, we had a deal,” I remind Enzo, pivoting away from the couch and the two people sitting on it.

Remembering, Enz extracts a small packet of looseleaf banshee’s breath from his pocket and takes my hand, setting it in my palm. My fingers close around it disbelievingly...

Could a deal really go this smoothly—no catch or trickery?

“Would you like to try some Mc-Knight of Love?” he asks, holding out a dark red liquid in a heart-shaped bottle. “Freshly brewed. And I’m asking.”

“Omens, Enz. That name is so bad. So. Bad.”

“That’s why it’s so good,” he smiles. “Love potion eighty-nine and I do believe it’s our best. Try it, you’ll understand.”

I hold up a hand. “I’m not the least bit tempted. Besides, got what I came for,” I say, shaking the packet of banshee’s breath.

Digging my fingers into it anxiously as Enzo casts a glance over at Soren, I pop a bit of it into my mouth and chew. My core solidifies instantly, and I look down, flexing my fingers with relief.

“So what’s with you two?” Enzo nods his head in the direction of Soren.

“What?” I ask, heat rising to my cheeks.

“I see the looks you give each other from across the room.”

“Like the one I’m giving him now?” I demonstrate. “Filled with hate and rage?”

Enzo chuckles under his breath. “No. Like the ones you gave me.”

I look over at my ex, embarrassed and a little more hostile than necessary. “Stop lying, Enz.”

“You think I don’t know what your face looks like when you’re giving someone a burning, prolonged gaze? That image is practically branded into my skull.”

Making sure the disgust is ripe in my tone, I say, “They’re only prolonged because no matter how long I glare at him, my look still has yet to kill him.”

“I see,” Enzo smirks, amused.

“Your theory is wrong, Enzo. As you can see,” I toss an arm in Soren and Amandine’s direction, “that is happening.”

“And he really looks like he’s enjoying it, too,” Enzo notes dryly.

Rolling my eyes, I march off to find Sabbath with Enzo in tow. I discover her lost in a fit of maniacal laughter, a tentative smile drawn tightly on Nik’s face. Amusement dances through me as I take a big gulp of my drink. “I wanna hear the joke,” I shout at Nik over the music.

He shakes his head, mouth cracking open with a smile. He gestures at Sabbath and in an instant, I realize what’s happened.

“How do you keep getting accidentally pixied, Sab?” I ask, shaking my head. “You really need to work on your impulse control!”

Nik and I share a chuckle, the sound of Sab’s cackles too contagious to be cause for worry. She doubles over, catching her breath. “It’s the drink, I swear. Someone told me it was vestal—” For some reason, she finds every word out of her own mouth hilarious, and her excuse disappears into giggles.

Peering at the drink in my hand, I eye it curiously. “Vestal?” I ask Enzo.

He shrugs. “I guess Tate put some laughing juice in it after all.”

“Great,” I sigh, feeling the magic begin to crawl up my throat.

It comes as a hollow need, promising thrill as it spills out of me. A single chuckle slips through my lips, and I clamp a hand over my mouth, eyes wide. I so do not need to be twitching out right now.

The more I force back the laugh, the stranger the sounds that escape my throat. This has Sabbath practically on the floor, weeping. Tears come to my own eyes and I squeeze them shut. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, this type of enchanted laughter. Once you start, you can’t stop—nor do you want to.

Joy ripples through me, rings through every crevice of my body as my belly tightens with the assault of laughter. Sabbath pulls me to the dance floor and the world swirls around us—witches and warlocks twisting to the music, their bodies grazing mine. There are hands on me, and I’m not sure if they’re Sabbath’s, or Enzo’s, or a stranger’s. Frankly, I don’t care. At this point, every hand that connects with my body is cause for celebration.

The music we dance to is my laughter, and I’m happily carried away by it. I’m a real girl again, officially a witch with no problems.

Until my body begins to ache. The laughter sours inside me. Clutching my abdomen, I gasp for air. The giggles are choking me, coming too quickly for me to pull in a breath.

“Mika?” I hear Enzo call vaguely, my name blurred with the cacophony of cackles straining to escape.

“I don’t think—it’s supposed—to be like this—” The words rip through the gusts of laughter, panicked.

I literally can’t stop.

“Did you drink anything else? Take anything?” Alarmed, Enzo realizes, “Oh, omens—you already took the banshee’s breath?!”

I feel my head bob up and down in confirmation. Enzo tugs me away from the mob of dancers and my arm reaches out, needing Sabbath. She doesn’t reach back, and I can only guess she’s been swallowed up by the swarm under the careful watch of Nik. I clutch at Enzo, desperate for anything to ground me as the world suddenly tilts.

“You’re not supposed to mix laughing juice with a weed like that!” he cries, gathering me closer. I feel like I’m falling in slow motion.

“If I’d known—there was laughing juice—I would’ve known—that,” I gasp.

The world is spinning, a strange, cloudy montage. Everything seems too close, too loud, my senses bloating until the world feels wrong. Enzo tries to soothe me, but he’s not the soothing type, nor is he the particularly responsible party at the moment.

My eyes squeeze shut painfully, tears rolling down my face. Overcome by a hysterical bout of laughter, I’m seized by a large arm that wraps around my waist, shuffling me out of the room. Somehow, the grip doesn’t feel like Enzo’s. The build of the body is wrong.

I catch a few details through my squinting eyes—strong biceps, stained shirt, a flash of blue against my palms—and my heart plummets when I realize that Soren has taken me captive in my moment of weakness.

I was never the kinda gal that got invited to scandalous high school parties (and I definitely would have been outta my element at them), but there's still something so fun about writing them. Did you see your "spooky" hint, btw?

xx Jessa


Copyright © 2019 Jessa Lucas

All rights reserved. This work or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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