When Raven opened her eyes, Lisa was standing over her, shaking her shoulder. Her face scrunched up in worry. “Hey, are you all right?”
Raven nodded and gave her a bright smile. She was way more than all right. She had a way to connect to her power again. In all honesty, she wanted to try it out right away, but she couldn’t do that in front of Lisa. “I’m fine.”
Lisa frowned. “If you’re not sick, why the hell you skip study period? You’re going to get a penalty.”
“Oh. That’s probably not good,” Raven said. Especially if someone at this school was out to get her.
“Yeah, but nothing you can do about it now. Let’s head to dinner before we both end up late.”
Raven stood up and they both quickly hurried to the dining hall. Once there, they both split up to get into their specific lines. Even the thought of her future penalty and the lackluster meal ahead of her didn’t dampen Raven’s spirit. Instead, she began focusing like she had done in the dreamscape. She concentrated on the magic fumes that the suppressor released and curled them around the ring. It was a lot more difficult to do with all the noise around her and most of it she ended up wasting. She sighed a little in frustration but didn’t give up. If she could focus on doing this in the middle of a busy cafeteria then she’ll be able to do it anywhere.
She moved up in the line, grabbing the first thing available, more intent on her magic gathering. As she almost finished through the line she was interrupted by a guard stepping in front of her. She blinked in surprise, abruptly stopping as she reached for a juice box.
“Raven Delias,” the guard said.
Raven looked up and swallowed. “Yes?”
The guard reached out and took her tray. “You’ve been given a penalty. You are banned from eating dinner today.”
Raven blinked. “Seriously?”
The guard quirked an eyebrow at her and Raven sighed. She ran a hand through her hair in frustration. She hadn’t eaten much during breakfast and lunch she could barely remember. Even though she didn’t think much of the food, now that she had access to her magic again she knew she would need the energy. As if agreeing with her, her stomach growled.
“Can I go back to my room?” Raven asked. At least if she couldn’t eat then she could go back to the dreamscape and practice.
Those thoughts were immediately dashed as the guard shook his head. “Follow me.”
He led her to a chair near where the guards kept watch, facing the cafeteria. “Sit here until dinner is over.”
Sighing again, Raven sat down. She looked across the cafeteria, catching the sight of a familiar face. Ethan was giving her an exaggerated sad face and waving. She smothered a laugh and rolled her eyes. He mouthed something to her, but since Raven wasn’t all that good at reading lips, she just shrugged at him. Ethan let out a dramatic sigh and sat down.
Raven figured that was the end of that and tried to figure out what she was going to do for the next hour. In a way, it was a relief to know that her penalty was one missed dinner. She wasn’t sure if she would be as lucky next time. She would have to set some sort of alarm, so this wouldn’t happen again.
Still, it did mean she could focus on gathering more of the magic. For a half an hour she concentrated on pulling more of the magic around her. She mostly circled it around the suppressor, but she also tried pressing it against her skin. She felt nervous about doing that. She didn’t want the suppressor to go off and suddenly be surrounded by guards. Still, she had to test the limits. She pulled more against her skin, dispersing it evenly, but she quickly realized she didn’t have enough gathered to make much of a difference. Gathering the magic was a slow process and she wasn’t sure how much she could do with it.
Raven glanced over at the guards. They were looking around the room and every once in a while they looked her way, but they weren’t paying her any extra attention. Of course, why would they? She was supposed to be cut off from her power. Deciding to take a small chance, Raven concentrated on pulling a small gathering of magic and pooling it into the palm of her left hand.
Curling her hand, she concentrated on summoning a small ball of water. She could feel the magic in her palms swirling as it fought to form. She closed her eyes focusing on it, pushing it to grow. Something in her tugged and she felt sweat begin to form on her brow and then it pushed and she could feel it. A small ball of water swirled in her palm.
“Yes,” she said opening her eyes.
As she did she saw the guard staring at her with a frown. She swallowed and quickly looked down at her lap. She pushed the water to slither up the back of arm in a small drizzle. When she looked up again the guard was back to looking over the cafeteria.
Her shoulders sagged in relief. She didn’t want to get caught, especially not on her first try. A rush of excitement flowed through her as she felt the water climb up her arm. She had done it. She actually was able to use magic with a suppressor. Then it hit her. No one should have been able to do something like this.
A chill went through her. What exactly am I?
She shook that thought away. It felt dangerous to start thinking like that. Everyone’s power was unique and hers was a bit unusual from the norm. Even as she thought that it felt like a weak excuse, but even if she was different for some reason, what did that matter? She was still human. She was just a human with really kickass abilities. She grinned.
For the rest of the dinner, she let the water move around her arm, trying to figure out what was the best way to keep it hidden. She tried hiding it under her sleeve, but the sleeve grew damp and that was pretty suspicious. Instead, she tried spreading it thinly over her skin. That worked better, though it gave her skin a slight sheen. She figured that wasn’t too noticeable. Right now, she wanted to see how long she could keep the magic going once it’s formed.
Dinner came to a close and one of the guards nodded to her in a signal that she could leave. She slid in with the rest of the students when she felt someone grab her hand. She turned to see Ethan beside her and she realized very quickly he was pressing a wrapped up napkin into her palm. She glanced down, and sure enough, the napkin and whatever was inside was camouflaged by his ability.
“Don’t be so obvious,” Ethan whispered. “Hurry up and hide it.”
Raven wasn’t exactly sure how she was supposed to hide it, but she shoved it underneath her baggy ECI t-shirt. She pushed her magic down to wrap around the napkin and press it against her skin. Eventually, the water was going to dampen both the napkin and her shirt.
“How exactly am I supposed to hide this?” she whispered back.
“I don’t know,” Ethan said. “Tuck it into your waistband.”
Raven shifted the water to slide down her stomach, pulling the napkin underneath the waistband of her pants. She wasn’t sure how Ethan had expected her to hide this without it being obvious to everyone standing around her. Luckily, she had her magic to help.
Ethan leaned in, pressing his hip against hers and then slung his arm around her shoulders. “Did you miss me at dinner?” he asked with a laugh while giving her a meaningful look.
Ah, she was supposed to do it now. Not a very good strategy, but she knew Ethan was trying. She pretended to straighten her shirt, which had a few damp spots, but nothing too noticeable, or at least she hoped it wasn’t too noticeable. At least it would make Ethan think she had tucked the sandwich away, since he didn’t know it was already hidden thanks to her water manipulation.
She gently pushed Ethan away. “It wasn’t as noisy,” she said.
Ethan gave a dramatic gasp. “Are you saying I’m noisy?”
“Are you saying you’re not?” Raven teased him.
“I’m starting to re-evaluate our friendship here,” Ethan said with a mock pout.
Raven laughed and then bumped against his side. “Thanks.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said with a wink. “Off to the boy’s side. Don’t get in trouble again. Dinner is boring without you.”
“I’ll try not to,” Raven said as Ethan moved back over to the boys. As he did, she caught Pete watching them. The cold gray eyes lingered on her longer than usual. It disturbed her. She hurried down the hall and towards the girl’s dorm.
Once she was in her room, she took out the napkin but shoved it under her pillow when Lisa came in shortly after. Lisa marched over and dropped a fruit cup in her lap. Raven’s eyes widened in surprise.
“You got me this?”
Lisa shrugged uncomfortably. “It’s just a fruit cup.”
“I thought you were the rule enforcer,” Raven said with a small smile.
Lisa folded her arms and looked away. “I am, but sometimes the rules are stupid.”
Raven grinned and then reached out and took the napkin from under her pillow. Lisa watched her with surprise. Raven unfolded it to see it was bits of a sandwich, cut up to fit in the napkin.
“Who gave you that?” Lisa shook her head. “Wait, I think I can guess.”
Raven laughed. “It looks like I have two generous benefactors.”
Lisa plopped down on her bed with a grumble. “Don’t get used to it. I mean, for real, getting penalties is asking for shit to rain down on you in here.”
“Sorry,” Raven said as she stuffed a piece of sandwich into her mouth.
“What were you even doing?” Lisa asked curiously.
“Meditating,” Raven said quickly.
As much as she wanted to share with someone about what she could do, she wasn’t sure if she could trust Lisa. Plus, she was still not sure if people weren’t watching or listening in to her while in her room. That did mean her sitting back and eating this food was a big no, but she figured that if they were trying to be sneaky about listening in or watching her, making a big fuss over some food would be stupid.
“Next time you decide to meditate, set an alarm,” Lisa said, annoyed, but there was concern in her eyes.
“I will,” Raven agreed. “Believe me, I don’t want a penalty.”
Raven opened up the fruit cup. She would have liked a spoon, but if Lisa could have snuck one out, she would have given it to her when she gave her the fruit cup. She tilted it back, drinking it and munching on the fruit.
“So what happened in Reality therapy?” Lisa asked. “I heard some sponsors came in.”
“How did you know that?” Raven asked curiously as she grabbed another piece of sandwich.
“When sponsors come to the school it’s pretty big news.”
Raven could understand that. After all the sponsors had even forced their teacher’s hand to give them a more dramatic Reality scenario. Though she got the feeling that Dr. Davis had still gone easy on them. Raven began telling Lisa about what happened and her encounter with Cindy.
“What the hell? What’s her issue with you?”
Raven shrugged. “I’m not sure.”
Lisa looked thoughtful. “It’s sort of weird. She didn’t seem like the bully sort.”
Raven frowned. “I guess that makes me special then.”
Lisa’s brow furrowed and her frown deepened. “I don’t know.”
There was a knock on the door and Lisa sighed. “Come in!”
The door opened and in stepped the very person they had been talking about.
“Speak of the devil,” Lisa said.
Cindy frowned and then turned to Raven, meeting her eyes. “I need you to come with me.”