Rectification @lumity
Chapter 12

Leaves crunched under Amity’s feet as she made her way to the stairs that led up to Hexside’s student entrance.

Fall is almost here. I’m almost out of time.

In the month that had passed since her… outing with Luz, she’d made almost no effort to further their relationship. She hadn’t known if she should bother or not. Surely after their time together at the festival, Luz had to have picked up on some clues and would maybe even make a move if she was interested, but she hadn’t acted any different towards Amity. Amity wasn’t sure how she could get the point across to Luz without directly stating it. Dancing with Luz, walking her home, and kissing her hadn’t done the trick… what else could she possibly do?

Do I have to spell it out directly? ‘Hey, Luz! I’m a time traveller and I’m in love with you maybe! Or at least about as in love as a high school freshman can possibly be! Sorry about the creepiness, but will you go out with me and help me with these romantic daydreams I’m probably not supposed to be having?’ No… I should probably leave out the bit about time travelling. Even if she absolutely had to know about that, she wouldn’t believe me. Best to only freak her out once.

Amity was so caught up in her inner monologue that she didn’t notice that she’d reached the door until she smacked into a pillar next to it. 

Pain shot through her face and she was sent reeling, along with all the papers she’d been carrying, which fluttered to the ground. She couldn’t help but let loose a few profanities as she gathered them back up in arms. When she stood, her left cheek throbbed, and she winced when she touched it. Great. My second time-travelling induced injury. She contemplated going to the healers’ office for a moment but decided against it, realizing she really just needed to get to class. She couldn’t afford to be late to anything on the first day of the fall semester. But, just in case, she checked her reflection in her scroll to make sure the injury wasn’t noticeable, and lo and behold, her cheek was very visibly swollen and bruised. She sighed. Kids would definitely notice that.

Before she could move, a hand wrapped itself around Amity’s arm. Amity leaped away, but she relaxed when she realized that it was none other than Luz herself. “Hi,” Amity said awkwardly. It even hurt to talk. She looked Luz up and down, noticing that Luz was wearing the gray-and-white uniform of a student who hadn’t yet been placed in a study track. “Did… you take your entrance exam yet?”

“Nope,” Luz replied cheerfully.

“Are you nervous?”

“No. I know four whole spells now. I’m a shoe-in.”

“Well, okay. Good luck, then.” Amity hoped Luz wouldn’t need it. After all, Luz knew two more spells this time around than she did last time she’d taken this exam- this attempt couldn’t possibly be more horrible than the last.

Luz rolled her eyes. “Silly. You just condemned me. This is showbiz, you can’t wish me good luck.”

“It’s not… showbiz,” Amity said, confused. “This is school. Unless you join the bard track…”

“The proper way to help me to do my best is to tell me to break a leg. Speaking of breaking things,” Luz went on, “what happened to your face?”

“Oh.” Embarrassed, Amity shied away from Luz, suddenly self conscious. She didn’t really want to tell Luz that she’d been thinking about her so hard she ran into a pillar. “Uh, it was a failed… magic… spell?” She made it sound like more of a question than an answer, and Luz narrowed her eyes in suspicion.

“Did you run into that pillar?”

Biting her lip, Amity nodded. 

“Poor you. Does this hurt?” Luz asked, bringing her hand up to cup Amity’s cheek. “Aww, your face is all red! That must feel awful. You need to go to the healers’ office before class starts and get something put on that.” She placed her backpack on the ground and rummaged through it for a moment before producing a pencil and a sheet of paper. She sketched out a small ice glyph, created an ice cube the size of her palm, and passed it to Amity. “Hold this to the bruise until we get to the healer,” she instructed.

Amity did as she was told, ignoring the way the ice felt horribly frigid against the soft skin of her hand. “We?”

“I’m going with you.”

“What? Why?”

“Because you’re my friend and I don’t want to see you hurt.”

“But your entrance exam-”

“Bump will wait for me.” Luz sounded strangely self-assured.

“It’s only a bruise. It’ll be fixed with a spell. I’ll be okay-”

“Amity.” Luz touched Amity’s shoulder and looked the witchling straight in the eye. “I just want to make sure you’re alright.”

Amity let herself soften. This stern, protective side of Luz was one she didn’t get to see often, but she loved it more than she was willing to admit. “Okay.”

“Do you need any help with your bag?”

“No. It’s alright.”

Luz shouldered her own backpack and held out her hand. “Well, one of your hands is full, so too bad.” 

“You’re impossible,” Amity laughed and handed her backpack over. She could tell from the face Luz made that it was heavier than she expected. “Watch out for that Honors History textbook.”

“Little Miss Amity and her honors classes,” Luz teased. 

“I wonder if we’ll have any classes together when you get your schedule.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we did. I am pretty smart,” Luz agreed. “After all, I am friends with you. Great decision on my part. Ten outta ten.”

Amity turned away to hide her blush. “C’mon, you nerd. Let’s go now so that you’re not any later than you need to be.”

They walked to the healer together in silence. It wasn’t awkward, but Amity caught herself staring at Luz more than once. It was hard not to- Luz was just so… radiant. She was like the sun, or one of her own light spells- cheerful and warm and wonderful to be around. When Luz caught Amity staring, she flashed Amity a blinding grin, and Amity had to look away as quickly as possible to avoid combusting.

The healer’s office was a small building on the edge of the school grounds- inconveniently built as far away from the grudgby arena as possible. (Inconvenient for Luz, anyway, who had had to carry Amity the whole quarter mile to see the healer. Amity, though, had never been more grateful for Hexside’s bad construction decisions.) It was usually staffed by tired-looking upperclassmen from the healing track along with one professional member of the Healing Coven to assist with more major injuries, like burns or flus or broken ankles that resulted from witches watching their crush during grudgby instead of watching where they were actually supposed to be going.

Amity hoped that today’s lucky staff member would be Viney, but then she remembered that Viney was still a part of the detention track. That was supposed to be fixed today, right? Or was it next week? No, Next week was Grom. This week was the detention kid problem. Sometimes it was hard to keep track of all the heroic things Luz did, especially since she hadn’t been around to witness them all the first time.

They were greeted at the office door by a girl in healing track blue that Amity didn’t recognize. With a huge yawn, she asked what was wrong, and Luz told her that Amity had hurt her face by running into a pillar. “I can talk to them myself,” Amity muttered as they were led into an examination room. Luz, unfazed, shrugged.

“Sit down here and I’ll take a look at you,” the healer sighed. As soon as Amity sat herself down on the examination table, the healer spent a moment lightly poking at the bruise. The touch stung, and it didn’t spark the same thrill in her as Luz’s had done. 

“Just a bad bruise.” The healer shrugged. “I don’t know why you freshies always manage to get yourself hurt before eight o’clock in the freaking morning. I've been here for three hours and I’m pretty sure I’m still asleep.” She drew a small spell circle in the air and the pain on Amity’s cheek instantly disappeared. “There. Good as new. Get to class before your teachers miss you.”

“Thank you,” Amity said politely. She picked up her backpack before Luz could offer to carry it again and followed her crush back into the warm early morning air. 

As soon as they were back in the sunlight, Luz turned to Amity with an excited grin. “Time for me to become an official Hexside student!” she announced.

~

“What do you mean I can’t go in?”

Amity was standing outside the entrance to the Hexside auditorium, bristling indignantly while Principal Bump watched her with narrowed eyes. Luz stood a little behind her. “Amity, it’s okay-”

“No, it’s not. I worked hard to help you. I want to watch you succeed.”

“Amity, we’ve never permitted other students to watch entrance exams, even those as prodigious as you,” Bump said, lowering his voice to the frustrated principal tone that Amity knew from all the times her siblings had gotten in trouble. “You have to go to class and let Luz take her exam alone.”

“I’ll see you at lunch, Amity.” Luz’s voice was pleading.  

“If you even have a lunch period to go to!”

“Don’t you believe in me?”

“Of course I believe in you.” Amity resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “I just want to be there for you. That’s all.”

“That’s enough of that,” Bump interjected sharply. “Miss Blight, go to class. Luz, follow me inside. We’ll get you in and out quickly and then you can go home, since you’re a human and you’ll probably fail since you can’t do magic anyway. And of course, Amity, I still need you during second period for that presentation for the Emperor's Coven inspector.”

Luz shot a sympathetic glance at Amity as she followed Bump inside the auditorium.

“Break a leg,” Amity whispered. She wasn’t sure if Luz heard her or not.

With Luz out of sight, she turned around and sprinted for the detention hallway.

There was one more thing she had to do before Luz’s test was done.    

~

He’s asleep. Right on schedule.

Amity poked her head around the doorframe of the Detention Track room. The only three students in the track, Jerbo, Barcus, and of course Viney, were seated at the front table, staring dismally off into space, while their professor snored blissfully at his desk. The students didn’t spot her- she stayed just out of their line of sight. 

She couldn’t imagine going to school like this. Unable to learn, unable to talk, and stuck in that drab gray uniform, too. Knowing that Luz had spent even a day being part of this horrible track made her heart hurt.

Luz had said the door to the secret entrance was just to the left of the teacher’s desk. It was very well hidden, but Amity saw the grooves in the wall that indicated the door’s outline. If she could just convince the other three to take her on there, she could explain what they needed to do…

She tiptoed carefully into the room and gave a small wave, hoping to inconspicuously catch their attention. Viney jerked out of her trance immediately, and her eyes went wide when she saw Amity. She tapped Jerbo and Barcus on their shoulders and gestured the two of them to follow her. She met Amity by the hideout door. 

“Amity?” she whispered. “What’s going on?”      

“We’re in danger,” Amity replied. “I’ll explain everything, but you have to let me inside your hideout. I can explain better in there.” She jerked her head at the sleeping professor. “I don’t want anyone to hear.”

Viney exchanged suspicious glances with the other two. “How do you know about the hideout?”

“A friend told me.” Amity realized she’d have to explain that one later, too. “Just- you have to help me fight. But you’ve got to let me in.”

Viney glanced at Barcus. “Will you read her aura, please?”

Barcus growled softly. 

“He says she’s trustworthy,” Jerbo said. “He says, ‘Her aura is strong but easily breakable, like a brick wall held together by craft glue.’”

“Thank you, Barcus,” said Viney levelly.

Though she was beginning to grow nervous at the prospect of the danger she was about to face, Amity was suddenly trying not to laugh. This confident, self-assured Viney was so far from the nervous, flustered Viney with a crush she’d met at the festival. The detention kids had picked a good leader. (And Emira would be picking a good girlfriend.)

“Let’s go, then,” Viney went on, nodding tersely. She opened up the door and let Jerbo and Barcus inside, then followed Amity at her heels. “And don’t try anything funny,” she added.

“I’m trying to save you,” Amity pointed out.

“So what’s the danger?” Jerbo asked once they were safely inside the small round room. 

Amity didn't answer for a moment. She was too busy staring around the hideout, observing all the graffiti and doors that spiraled to the ceiling. These kids were so different from her, delinquents, underdogs, not perfect straight-A model students like she’d been raised to be. But Amity felt more at home here than she did within the brick walls of her own house. Maybe it was because Luz had liked it here so much.

“Well?” Viney broke in tetchily. 

Amity brought herself back to the present. “Right. There’s uh, there’s a Greater Basilisk loose in the school- or there will be in a few minutes- and you need to mix your magic to save L- I mean, everyone.”

Barcus barked in a way that almost resembled a laugh, and Viney arched an eyebrow questioningly. “I’m sorry, what?”

“I thought those were extinct,” Jerbo said.

“It was at Glandes. Now it’s here.”

Barcus barked again.

Jerbo translated for her. “He’s saying, ‘How do you know that?’”

“Yeah.” Viney narrowed her eyes. “How do you know that? And why are you so calm about it? Do you have family at Glandes too? My cousin said she saw one there, but I didn’t believe her.”

Amity supposed that lie would have to do for now. “Yeah, I have a friend at Glandes. They warned me that the basilisk might come here next. I snuck into the auditorium this morning and saw it- in the witch form my friend described to me, of course. It’s disguising itself as the Emperor’s Coven inspector.”

“I don’t want to believe you, but we should probably play it safe,” Viney sighed. 

“And,” Amity said hurriedly, “if you prove to Bump that mixing magic is helpful, he might let you study it full time.”

“You definitely know more than you should,” muttered Jerbo.

Amity was distracted from the detention kids’ suspicion. An odd, bitter smell had reached her nose, sharp and starkly repugnant. Before she could ask the others about it, the bell began to scream. This certainly wasn’t the passing period bell, though. It was higher-pitched and even more ear-splitting- the sound Amity heard only once a month, during school- mandated fire drills.

“What the-” Viney began. 

Luz. Amity’s stomach dropped. “We need to go now,” she snapped. “Everyone out.”

Barcus howled. What did you do, strange mint-haired girl?

She flung open the hideout door and slid back into the classroom, Viney, Jerbo, and Barcus following. She was about to make for the window, but the door to the classroom was flung open, so she turned that way instead. Even with an ash-covered face, Amity immediately recognized the girl who had appeared in the doorway.

“Amity,” Luz coughed, “I failed my entrance exam.” Then she collapsed onto the hard tile floor.            

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