The Guild – Chapter 56 – Caroline

    “This is getting ridiculous!” I grumble loudly at the table. Kaede and I sit across from each other at a window table in the Cafeteria. We both have a half-eaten pasta dish in front of us that we’ve barely touched despite being here for almost an hour. It’s likely cold.

    “What is?” he asks, not looking up from his laptop. He’s spent the better part of the lunch hour clicking up a storm on his laptop, occasionally stopping to take a bite from his lunch.

    “That!” I say, gesturing to the table three rows away from us. Andrei has just walked in and has taken a seat across from the new girl, Samantha. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if he didn’t have moonbeams in his eyes!

    “He’s done nothing but stare at her whenever she’s around. He gawks like a lovesick puppy! And the worst part is, it’s like he doesn’t even remember Kaitlyn at all!” my voice rises with each word.

    Kaede finally looks up, glancing at the two sitting at the table. “You’re right, this is ridiculous. It’s almost like someone’s put a charm on him or something, like that time in Harry Potter when Ron falls madly in love with Lavender Brown.”

    “It’s not nearly the same as that and you know it, Kae. If you ask me, this isn’t a good sign. Something’s wrong and I intend to figure it out,” I say, moving to stand.

    “You do that. I’m busy,” he says, turning back to his laptop as he puts down his fork.

    “What could you possibly be working on with such intensity that your best friend and old roommates wellbeing is not a priority on your list of concerns?” I ask, flabbergasted.

    “Stuff,” he says simply.

    “What kind of stuff…” I ask, rolling my eyes. He always has stuff he’s doing. It’s like he’s been glued to that laptop for over a week now. I lean over the table, trying to peer over the edge of his screen.

    “For your information,” he says, looking up through the long black hair of his bangs, “The stuff I do is always important and helps you guys out, especially my best friend and old roommate. I try really hard to make up for the fact that I’m not magical like you guys. And, it seems to me you can’t do anything without me,” he smirks playfully.

    Ohh, that’s good. When did he get so… what is it… bold? “Then can’t you tell me?” I ask, sitting back down and folding my arms on the table.

    “It’d be my pleasure, but I’d rather wait till I have the results first,” he smiles, then looks back at the screen.

    I sigh heavily. “Fine. You do that. I’ll continue to work on my own plan to see what it is Andrei is so fascinated about.” I stand up, setting my jaw as I walk briskly towards Andrei and Samantha. When I arrive, I place my hands on my hips and glare hard at Andrei. He doesn’t even look up. Samantha does though, and her face looks bemused with my posture. I feel a little self- conscious, but I don’t back down. “Ah-hem,” I cough, staring hard at Andrei.

    “Oh! Caroline. Hi there!” he says cheerfully.

    “Hi to you too. What happened to eating with your ‘friends’?” I ask, putting air quotes around my head with my fingers.

    “Oh, sorry. I wanted to talk to Samantha, you know. Catch up with her,” he says nonchalantly.

    “Catch up with her? Didn’t you guys just meet? And, might I point out, it’s been over a week! You haven’t sat with us once. What’s up with you?” I ask, my fury starting to show through.

    He looks at me, a little sheepishly. “Sorry Car. I didn’t mean to offend you. I mean, we didn’t just meet,” he says. “This is, Samantha, my ex.” He says it so casually, I nearly faint from the shock.

    “You mean, the Samantha? The one that broke up with you and left you bruised and sad for months?” I ask him.

    “Well, that’s all in the past now -” she hums softly, smiling up at me.

    “Not that long ago past. And if he hasn’t told you, I had to deal with the state you left him in! Why didn’t you say anything about this when you arrived?” I ask her bitterly.

    “We didn’t have much time to talk, and I wasn’t aware at the time that Andrei was even here. It’s a pleasant surprise if I do say so myself,” she turns her eyes to Andrei and smiles sweetly at him. It makes me sick.

    “Andrei,” I turn back to him, my lips a flat line. Every fiber in my body says this is very very wrong. He would never, never, get back with Sam. That Sam. He told me so! So why is that not the case now? I can tell a dating couple when I see one.

    “I don’t think you’re thinking straight. What about Kaitlyn? What are you thinking, cheating on her with Samantha!?” I nearly shout.

    “Kaitlyn? What are you talking about?” he asks, looking very confused. My heart aches as he says those words because as I look at him, I know he means what he’s saying.

    “You know, your girlfriend?” I air-quote again. This is going to get old fast.

    “She’s not my girlfriend. And last I heard, she wasn’t even here. Clearly, she’s moved on from whatever it was we had,” he says.

    “If you ask me -” Samantha tries to add.

    “I wasn’t asking you. I’d be careful if I were you. You might be new, and you might think you know Andrei, but if you think you can come between us, then you got another thing coming,” I glare at her, hard.

    She stares back, looking shocked. “I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. I didn’t mean to upset you. Andrei,” she says, looking at him with sad eyes. “Perhaps this isn’t such a good idea. I think your friend is right, things are moving too quickly.”

    I watch Andrei, waiting for his reply. His face morphs into sad confusion. “What do you mean? I don’t think it’s moving fast. Caroline just… she doesn’t understand us,” he glances at me, his hateful glare striking straight through my heart. What is wrong with him?!

    He moves his hand to grasp Samantha’s and smiles longingly at her. “Don’t listen to her, please,” he insists.

    “Hmmph. I know a lost cause when I see one. You have fun explaining this to Kaitlyn when she gets back,” I wave, turning to leave.

    “She’s never coming back!” he says. I glance over my shoulder and see a tear sliding down his cheek, but his face says otherwise, with that hard look and squared jaw. I narrow my eyes at him before I walk off.

    “Yea, I see you believe that,” I say venomously.

    I drop myself back into my chair across from Kaede. He glances up at me, curious. I begin to chew the inside of my lip with frustration.

    “How’d it go?” he asks, his typing pauses for the first time since we started eating.

    I narrow my eyes in Andrei’s direction with a frown. “Something’s not right with him, Kae. it’s like he’s forgotten all about him and Kaitlyn. And then, when he talks about her, he cries, but he doesn’t realize it.”

    “That’s strange. I agree,” he says thoughtfully, surprised.

    “Agree with what?” I ask. “That he cried spontaneously?”

    “No, that something’s not right. But that’s your department. You’re the magic one. What did you say that made him cry?” he asks.

    “Well, it’s more what he said. He told me Kaitlyn’s not coming back. He doesn’t even seem to care, or know what they had before, but, it wasn’t like that when he was in the infirmary. All he could think about her Kaitlyn, wanting her back and all. Now, it’s like they never even met!” I explain.

    “And what happened in between those two events that would explain his, strange behaviour?” he asks, sipping into his lunch.

    “Well… he met Samantha before any of us had the chance to introduce them. And that’s another thing,” I add. “Apparently, this isn’t the first time they met. That girl, Kaede, that’s Samantha. His ex, Samantha,” I say sternly.

    His eyes pop and he turns to the left, looking towards her. “That’s Sam? That’s his ex from high school?” he asks with a tone if incredulity.

    “Yea, he down-right admitted it, and doesn’t care what happened after she left him!” I say.

    “That’s not right. I know she hurt him badly, from what you told me,” he says, turning back towards me.

    “Yea. She did. We need to find Kaitlyn and fast. I don’t know what to do!” I feel shaken. Is it really Andrei just not caring anymore? It’s like he’s a whole new person! Or is it something more? Something… different.

    I look back towards them sitting at the table laughing together. It’s disturbing. It’s wrong. How could he do this to Kat?!

~*~

    I stand in the hall of water, relishing in the coolness that the water brings when I work with it. Naum is overjoyed with the fact that I, his newest student has become a Guardian like the days of old. Although he was able to turn to water, like I can now, he never claimed to have the ability to maintain a human form while being one with it.

    I stand before him now in full water human form. He wants to see how long I can control it. He tries to hurl chunks of ice at me, in an effort to lose my concentration. He doesn’t want his ice to go through me, but it certainly feels like it does as he aims them at me with such precision.

    In water form, I often lose track of my thoughts and focus on the problems at hand. I find they tend to dwell on Andrei and Kaitlyn, more so than on Ryan these past few days. Although her passing is still raw, I find the issue between Andrei and Sam more urgent and pressing than anything else.

    I block another spear of ice as it hurtles towards my heart. Dancing out of the way and shooting superheated water at it, melting it to a rounded nub. The ability to heat the water is easier to me than cooling it to ice. Maybe it has something to do with my easy to spark hysteria or something, but I find that to make ice you have to be really calm. I’ve never been one for remaining calm.

    Before I know it, he’s switched his attack and throws a heated mass of water and vapour towards me. My mind screams that cool water is the only way, but my heart races and I barely manage to cool the water as it hits me. I feel the heated water collide with my watery form, warming my skin.

    Out of habit, I expect it to burn, and suddenly I’m back in my human form, doused in hot water. Naum catches on quickly and drenches me in cool water, but not icey, to prevent my skin from burning.

    “You did well, but you must work on turning the water cold. It is a weakness of yours. Please work on the exercises I have outlined in this folder,” he says, passing me a laminated folder of yoga and meditation exercises. The lamination is to prevent the paper from turning back to pulp during our lessons.

    I take the folder gratefully, with a nod. “Alright.”

    “I will be away for a few days, so you take care while I’m gone. You are welcome to use the hall while I’m away, but these exercises can be done anywhere, in fact, I encourage you to change your location every day, so you can practice calming down in any environment.”

    “I understand. Thank you.”

    With the lesson over, I pull the water from my hair and clothes and leave the hall, slipping on my shoes which I had left at the door. Training at the Guild has become so customary, it’s almost like going to regular school, minus the hours of reading and researching.

    I kinda miss that work, though. Andrei still does a lot of research, but I haven’t touched a book since I got here. Maybe I should look into finding some of the other professors at the school to teach me more about other things, other than water magic. Maybe that kind of work will take my mind off of all the drama.

By Kayla West

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