The Killing Spell

Private Message
Advert #236


Synopsis: 

 

Edward Peach is a fourteen-year-old wizard who receives a letter that he has been accepted into the prestigious Prymoutekhny Wizards Academy for Boys, in the faraway land of Aradia. His parents are overjoyed, but he feels reluctant to leave his family, friends, and his comfy cottage in the English coastal village of Manley.


As term begins, Edward adjusts to life in his new school, dealing with bullies, strict teachers, and challenging wizardry classes. He is almost ready to give up when he falls in love with a charismatic, privileged boy—and talented wizard—named Mr. Andreas. Prymoutekhny is a school that has still not opened up to same-sex attraction, so he must keep his feelings secret.

Soon, Edward and the impressive boy realize their deep attraction for each other. This causes immediate controversy in the school, as they are the first two boys from feuding houses to come together—especially in a school where house rivalry can end in murder.

He is then put to the ultimate test as he must risk being with the boy he loves even at the cost of his own life!

THE KILLING SPELL

Mr. Edward Warfield Peach 

21 Curlew Lane

Manley, England

 

Dear Mr. Peach,

Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to the Prymoutekhny Wizards Academy for Boys in the Royal Republic of Aradia! Our decision was based on your tremendous wizardry skills, as well as your amazing talent and unlimited potential. Those are traits we constantly seek in our students.

Our academy is highly prestigious, well- accredited, and very sought-after, with hundreds of years of training the next generation of great sorcerers. Each member of Prymoutekhny’s faculty has years of experience and has received rigorous training to become exceptional in their field. Because of our interest in you, we have decided to give you a full scholarship, including free room and board, as part of our Foreign Exchange Student Program.

Please look over the enclosed materials, which tell you where to meet us and more about our illustrious academy. We look forward to seeing you at the Prymoutekhny New Student Orientation that will take place in our school promptly at 3pm on September 1st. Once again, we would like to extend our congratulations to you on being accepted into our family!

Praduboryusets! That’s how we say “Good Luck” in Aradian!

Sincerely, Maximilian Durlott Headmaster


 

Chapter One: Accepted

 

Accepted. That’s what the letter said. At that moment, I felt a sudden chill go up my spine. I pretended to smile as Mum and Dad shouted their delight that their little wizard was being sent thousands of miles away to study magic at an exclusive boarding school.

I swallowed hard. Please don’t make me go, I thought.

I took another look at my letter. “Highly prestigious,” “well-accredited,” and “very sought-after” were the different qualifiers used to describe their piss of an academy. There were portraits in a brochure, mostly in sepia-tone black and white, of their most famous students, yet I didn’t recognize any of them. The more I looked at all the rubbish they’d sent me in that big yellow envelope, the more I wanted to vomit.

Accepted.

Everything had been arranged: the three tickets for the next available ship from England to Aradia, the meeting place three days from now in the Aradian port- city of Navona, and our guide who was to see us at the harbor and take us to the school. The whole lot, including my school uniform, was all-expenses paid.

Seeking to break the jovial mood that’d taken over my parents at the breakfast table, I told them that I wasn’t going to that school.

“Not going?” Mum asked me, wide-eyed. “Why? This is the opportunity of a lifetime! A prestigious school, fancy uniforms, and a better life for all of us! Are you going to sit there and tell us that you don’t want what’s best for your family?”

Yes, I was, I told her. I wasn’t going and that was the end of it.

My parents then began to lecture me, whilst I kept buttering my toast, about how they never had an opportunity like this when they were my age and how I’d be letting down several generations of our wizard-family if I didn’t go. Dad was especially determined because both he and Granddad had been rejected from that school numerous times.

Despite my pleas, my constant whinging, and even throwing a teary-eyed wobbly like I used to do when I was a tiny tot, I was going to that ugly academy. Mum said my name, middle name and all, and insisted that I get packed.

“We’re leaving tomorrow,” she said. “End of discussion.”

Without another word, I stormed into my room, slamming the door after me, and buried my face into my pillow.

Accepted.

It wasn’t fair! Other kids would be pretty chuffed about going to such a distinguished wizard-school, but not me. This sort of thing should’ve gone to those who needed it or wanted it more. Instead, I was the one who got…accepted.

I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be part of the “next generation of great sorcerers,” nor follow in my father’s or grandfather’s footsteps. I just wanted to be me. I didn’t want to leave my mates or live away from home. What’s more, I’d be going to a foreign country where I didn’t know anyone, much less the language they spoke.

Things had been much simpler and I’d been a lot happier before I got that stupid letter!

Accepted.

I didn’t want to study in some shite academy, the name of which I couldn’t even pronounce, and where mobile phones were prohibited. All I really wanted to do was enjoy life, hang out with my friends, and go to the beach to listen to its lush, serene music. Yet more than anything, I wanted to do nothing. That’s what I desired most. I simply wanted to do nothing, yet my parents, on numerous occasions, would never hear of it.

I began thinking about turning Mum and Dad into frogs or making them both disappear so that I wouldn’t have to go to Aradia, but I really didn’t want to do any of that. Deep down, I didn’t believe in using magic to hurt or endanger the lives of others. To me, magic was this beautiful yet mysterious thing that was all about me and always made me feel happy. I loved magic, bloody lived for it, but hated the idea that someone could use it for evil when it could be used for good. Not to mention, the last time I’d made my parents disappear, they had simply found their way back.

I sat on my bed awhile in thought, then caught a glimpse of myself in the tall mirror next to me. There was a scrawny, pale fourteen-year-old lad with light-brown hair and blue eyes staring back. He was nicely dressed in a smart shirt under a waistcoat, long socks, and an adorable pair of shorts. His hair looked good but there were blemishes all over his face.

Suddenly, I heard a strange yet familiar voice calling my name from out of nowhere. I looked left, right, and center, seeing not a soul, until I traced it to inside the mirror. My reflection was talking to me! Strange and magical things were happening all the time in Manley, but I must say, this was the strangest and most magical thing yet!

“Edward,” the boy in the mirror said in my voice. “Go to that school.”

I stood in absolute shock. Slowly, I began to wonder if what I was seeing was perhaps some peculiar mirror with a talking reflection. I went over to the tall, oval-shaped mirror, the same one I used to look at myself each morning, which was mounted between two serpentine risers and standing upon swept, scrolled legs, and rested my hand precariously on its cold glass. At once, it entered into a bizarre, liquid world that felt like a pool of cool water!

I quickly took out my hand and noticed there were ripples forming in the mirror where I’d reached in, like a crystal-clear lake after a stone had been cast. I reached in again and felt another hand touch mine—it was the hand of my reflection! His hand felt real, very much like my own, and I noticed my double was no longer copying my every move, as he always had, instead backing away when I tried to touch him.

“Go to that school, Edward,” he said a second time.

I was beyond shocked. I stared at my hand and then the mirror, my mind still not able to grasp fully what was really going on, and it felt as though I were changing into some weird being with some far weirder power.

This can’t be real, I thought to myself. This all had to be part of some insane joke! Come on, Ed. Get a grip!

My reflection’s hand felt quite real, which meant my reflection had to be real. Another Edward Peach to do my bidding! I spied the acceptance letter and the large envelope that both lay on my comfy bed and came up with a devious plan: the academy was expecting me to appear at the New Student Orientation three days from now, but they never said it had to be the original me! Just a likeness of me would suffice!

I stared back at my double, smiling a devilish grin. He spotted the letter and stared back at me, shaking his head at once. In less than a second, I seized my reflection by his light-brown hair and began pulling him out from his fluid sanctuary.

“Go in my place!” I shouted.

“No!” he shouted back. “You fight your own battles!” The two of us wrestled for a bit until eventually my twin won and went back into the mirror-world. He must’ve sealed up the entrance afterward because I wasn’t able to put my hand inside again.

“Go to that school, Edward!” my reflection cried. “I know you’re scared, but you can do this! I know you can!”

“I’ll never go to that school!” I cried back. “You can’t make me! I shall never go to that school as long as I live!”

“It’s an all-boys school,” he then said to me in an enticing voice.

Was it? I quickly retrieved the acceptance letter to check and, true enough, there it read: Prymoutekhny Wizards Academy for Boys!

I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed that before! Brilliant! An all-boys school!

I hurriedly took out all the contents from the big yellow envelope. There had to be some pictures of lads in there somewhere! To my delight, I found an oversized portrait of a group of boys in smart uniforms standing in formation before the stately institution. The lad in the first row looked bloody cute, I thought, whilst some taller lads in the back row had muscular chests that looked absolutely divine!

“It only gets better,” my double replied, smiling. “I foresee nothing but good things waiting for you at that school. Perhaps even a special boy who might fancy you, Edward.”

“Do you really think so?”

“Trust me, mate. I have sort of a ‘second sight’ about these things. That academy will be the greatest thing that ever happened to you, I promise. Try it for yourself and you shall see.”

 

Later that morning, I decided to take one last look at Manley, the busy fishing village where I had been brought up and was proud to call home. It was one of several little towns that sat on a large, secluded area sandwiched between an old river and the North Sea. I spent the entire day going into all the shops and had my absolute favorite food, fish fingers and custard, in one of my favorite restaurants.

Towards midday, I took a visit to Manley Beach, the briny seafront that I’d loved since I was a little ’un, and went for a stroll, enjoying my favorite cloudy weather alongside a gorgeous view of the powerful ocean. Manley is quite small but legendary for its own magical folklore, the best fish and chips in the world, and ace seaside ice cream!

Several fishermen had just arrived in port, carrying boxes overflowing with fresh cod, bass, and lobster, whilst others were on the hunt for mermaids, a widely-believed legend in our town. I’d never seen a mermaid, yet there had been hundreds of sightings all over this mysterious beach.

Overlooking the majestic sea was the Obelisk, a needle-shaped lookout tower that had stood since ancient times. No one knew how it got there and it was probably as old as some of the wizard-clans that had lived in our area for generations. My ancestors had come from London, but those families were quite wealthy and owned much, if not all, of the land because of their fishing industry. Their legacies—and feuds—went back for centuries.

Mum and Dad were still at home busily arranging their things for our two-day trip to Aradia, a mystic land I’d only read about in books and old stories. Tomorrow, I’d be on board a grand ship that was to take me to an all- boys academy, leaving behind my family, friends, and the cozy bungalow where I’d spent my joyful, carefree years.

Aradia was located somewhere in the North Atlantic and could only be seen by wizards. It was a land that could not be traced by any non-magical boat or plane. Don’t bother looking for it in any non-magical maps either because you’re not going to find it.

Much like my birthplace of the gravelly region of Manley, Aradia was hidden away from what we in our town like to call, “Non-Magical Folk.” They go by many names, such as “Humans,” but I’d also heard of them as “Human Beans.”

It wasn’t that we as conjurers hated Non-Magical Folk, although there were a considerable number of us that did, but we had to keep out of sight because supposedly there are horrible consequences for a wizard that comes into contact with a “Non-Magical Person.” I don’t mind them, really. Truth be told, I’d never actually met one.

My impeccable last day in England had eventually come to an end. When the dreaded morning finally came, rather quickly I might add, I had no choice but to go with my family to George’s Port, a special harbor that was miles away from home and also concealed from the Non- Magical Folk.

Once we arrived, I was made to stand with my parents in a long queue, carrying an incredibly weighty suitcase, before a humungous ship, while an old duffer slowly collected tickets. Our turn would soon be next and, at once, I began to feel quite nauseous.

I don’t want to go! I shouted suddenly in my head. I want to go home! I don’t want to go to that academy!

Slowly but surely, we began to board the grandiose ship. It was a unique seafaring vessel that was imperceptible to the Humans and navigated by a famed sea captain. I began to think about Manley to try and cheer myself up, but it was hopeless. The ship hadn’t even set off and I already felt terribly queasy.

I thought about legging it over and over, leaving my family behind and never seeing them again, but it was futile. I’d run away from home several times, but my parents always somehow found me. Knowing them, they’d stop at nothing to make sure I got to Aradia to go to that school and become a famous sorcerer.

Accepted. It sounded like a death sentence.

My trip aboard the large ship to Aradia was all a blur. I can only remember scant moments, particularly because I was seasick from rough waves most of the time.

I arrived with my parents in the bustling port of Navona where fishermen, vendors, and crowds of tourists clogged up the walkways. There were signs everywhere written in that funny-looking Aradian, as well as hundreds of people jabbering in different tongues. I stayed close to my parents, the three of us standing out clearly as foreigners in a strange land.

After aimless wandering and getting lost several times, we met our guide, a tall chap dressed in an old-fashioned chauffeur’s outfit who was to take us to the academy. He was very amicable, and my parents were easily swayed by his good-humor. I kept regarding him as he loaded my suitcase into the boot of his luxurious black car.

We first had to make a quick stop in the thriving Aradian capital of Jzurecko. Much like the port, the city’s high street was filled with frenzied cars and people struggling to get where they were going. Our car finally stopped at a small tailor shop where we went to procure proper dress for my school.

It was a very refined shop, filled with portraits of young lads in sharp clothes, likely previous students. We were quickly met by an emaciated bloke with a dark mustache and balding head who smiled at us.

The next thing I knew, I was standing in the middle of the room, quite uneasily, as the man began measuring my arm, waist, and inside leg whilst commenting to my parents on what a “beautiful boy” I was. He continuously scribbled notes onto a tiny paper he kept with him and finally disappeared into a back room.

A few minutes later, the odd bloke returned and, much to our amazement, my new uniform was ready! My parents were also pleased to see the mustached-man handing me extra garments, including smart shoes, a jumper, and a nice muffler. As long as the school was paying for everything, who was to argue?

On a personal note, I did very much enjoy the portraits of one particularly handsome lad. He looked about my age, and was posed in stylish gabardines and petticoats. He had a button-nose, his hair was superb, and had one of the cutest smiles I’d ever seen! In general, I had a bit of a nasty habit of having a wandering eye when it came to cute lads!

Thereafter, we left the tiny shop with all my new attire and went with the tall man back to his fancy car. As we rode for an hour, I began to notice that we were no longer within the city limits, abandoning the hurly-burly of the noisy capital and instead passing through quiet countryside. Finally, we passed through a massive, regal front gate, arriving at our destination just in time for orientation.

It was here that I came face to face with my new school.

Prymoutekhny was an enormous building in gothic style that was encircled by three smaller buildings. The school looked brand new, even though it’d been around for hundreds of years. There was a bell tower, picturesque walkways, and a traditional-style bridge where we spotted other wizard-families who had come for the event.

The foliage of the autumn trees had vibrant shades of orange and green that looked fluorescent in the cascading sunlight. My parents were eagerly taking pictures and hurrying in front of me whilst I was left behind, dragging the same heavy suitcase as I had the entire trip. I hated this place already and begged them to take me back to England. Not bloody likely.

All the families soon gathered inside the great building. We spotted several rich and famous wizard- clans, along with others I’d only heard about from stories Granddad used to tell me. I observed my fellow schoolmates. They were mostly nerdy-looking boys with worse skin problems than mine who were already wearing our school uniform—a smart shirt and tie underneath a stylish cardigan, elegant trousers, and neatly-polished shoes.

I left my parents and went into the nearest bathroom to change. After only a short time, I was dressed but was having quite a bit of trouble tying my tie, something that took me an age to master from the instructional card the tailor shop had given me. I wasn’t accustomed to wearing ties. As I kept giving myself a once-over in the mirror, I wondered if that peculiar mirror-lad from Manley would show up again.

I’d finished later and after a final once-over, I thought the tailor had done a rather spanking job on my uniform! When I came out, Mum and Dad were out of sight and I wandered about for ages trying to find them.

Whilst plowing through a sea of loud lads, I ultimately came to a narrow hallway where a boy who slowly passed me immediately caught my eye. He was carrying a satchel, his jet-black hair nicely combed back, and there wasn’t a single pimple on his attractive face.

Who was that? I thought to myself.

I kept staring at him. The strange lad had an infectious smile and a charismatic air about him that was simply irresistible. At once, everyone about me seemed to vanish in a haze and all I could see was this beautiful boy.

I used my powers to feel his magical aura. He’s quite strong, I said to myself. Suddenly, there was an odd force that took over my entire being and robbed me of every ounce of strength I had. My whole body felt weak and I quickly began to lose control of my arms and legs. Was this really happening or was all this some sort of strange dream?

A moment later, I bumped into a tall bloke and was back to normal. When I turned, the handsome lad was gone. I looked everywhere for him until I’d finally met with my parents, who were very cross and afraid that I might’ve run off on them.

The massive throng of wizard-families was herded into a large auditorium where the orientation had at long last begun. We all sat quietly as five old blokes who were seated before a wide table on the stage each delivered a rather lengthy speech about how much of an “absolute privilege” it was to study in this academy. My parents hung on their every word whilst I was slowly being tortured to death.

Sometime later, I felt a small tap on my shoulder. I turned my head to see a short redheaded boy with a freckly face asking me if I wanted some gum. He held out what looked like a normal stick of gum, smiling innocently, until it turned into a snake with black and white stripes from the paper wrapping. I shrieked and the hissing gum slithered away into the lad’s shirt cuff, the fiery-haired prankster laughing with delight. Little prick.

The old duffers went on. I decided to take this opportunity to try to look for that attractive lad I’d seen earlier. His powerful energy-field must’ve been what’d made me feel weak back in the crowded hallway. I thought perhaps he would like to become mates with me. You know, two young sorcerers doing magical stuff together.

Try as I might, however, I was convinced I was never going to find such an impressive lad in such a big, unapologetic school of wizards.

Finally, after what felt like eons of talking, the last of the duffers finished his speech. Yet just when I thought the grand exposition of old people had ended, one of the blokes said they had a “special surprise” for everyone.

The school’s headmaster was then quickly brought over to the stage. There was uproarious applause as an even older bloke appeared wearing flowing robes, a wizard cap, and had an incredibly long beard that had to be carried by two other blokes behind him. He had a wide smile on his face and decided to give an even longer speech that lasted the better part of an hour! Mum and Dad simply couldn’t contain themselves whilst I was utterly bored to tears.

Once his speech had ended, the school bell from outside had begun to ring, which meant it was time for all the families to leave the students. Every single wizard-clan had soon left the auditorium and gathered outside at the front gate where several well-dressed lads stood, all teary- eyed, bidding a fond farewell to their even sadder parents.

I finally stood before Mum and Dad. The same black car from earlier was waiting to take them away from me. They said their final good-byes to me, both smiling warmly and very excited to see me staying here. I agreed to their promise of writing them every day after surrendering my precious mobile to them.

I couldn’t contain myself much longer and wrapped myself around Mum’s thin body, blubbing and begging her not to leave me. She tried to release herself from the clutches of her wailing son, but I refused to let her go. As soon as Mum was free, she knelt down and looked me right in the eye, telling me who-knows-what, as I wept loudly over her words.

When I finally began to calm down, Dad put his hand on my shoulder, telling me how proud he was and how proud I’d made Granddad whilst Mum couldn’t wait to tell all our relatives the good news. They soon popped back into the car and left the academy. I kept my gaze on them until a school caretaker ordered all the students to go back inside.

Accepted.

The black car, along with what was left of my old life, slowly disappeared into the distance…

 

My first week trying to get settled in that bloody, over-glorified academy was absolute torture! I was soon placed into Manticore House, one of the three boarding houses surrounding the main academy building that was to be my new prison away from home.

Lads from different countries were crammed into the small house with a pongy common room, books lying about everywhere and absolutely nothing fun to do for miles. The halls of residence, or boys’ dormitory as it was called, was just a tiny hall with large beds and scarcely enough room for us boarders to even put down our suitcases.

Yet that wasn’t the worst part. I was a first-year, which meant being easy prey for bullies and nasty fifth- years to terrorize. All over Manticore House, fifth-years were scouting for defenseless first-years to be their new slaves, making them run their baths, shine their shoes, and do other humiliating tasks.

Thankfully, I was too small and scrawny to be a first- year slave, and our housemaster, Kozyol, found pleasure in making the lives of other new boys quite miserable. He was a tall, beefy-looking chap who made it his goal to make sure every fifth-year in our house would have their own personal dog’s body.

As if that weren’t terrible enough, some other lads in the dormitory began pulling pranks on me. Most of the time, I’d find spiders or small animals on my bed. Yet, on occasion, they somehow managed to move my oversized bed out of the hall whilst I was still sleeping on it! I’d wake up the next morning outside the building or in a classroom during a lecture!

“That’s not funny, you bastards!” I would shout at them.

The classes were definitely no better. My typical day consisted of intense wizardry classes, including Incantations, Magic and Defense, Wizard History, Enchanted Potions, and the rest of the time was spent studying for exams. Our masters, or The League of Extraordinary Old People as I called them, gave us piles of written assignments and had us memorize hundreds of famous conjurers such as Merlin, Paracelsus, and Hildegard von Bingen.

I can’t take another minute of this bloody academy! I finally shouted in my head. I’ve got to get out of here!

It was a horrible first week and I wanted the nightmare to end when something wonderful happened.

On the way to one of my classes one day, I spotted a group of lads chatting in the hallway wearing stylish blazers that made them stand out from everyone else. These were the elite members of Alpha House, which I assumed was an exclusive group of toffs who thought themselves too good to be with the other students. Their blazers bore an elaborate seal that was different from our house’s emblem and they mostly gathered in their private house, strictly prohibited to outsiders.

In Prymoutekhny, the color of your cardigan told others which house you came from as well as your family’s social class. Us regular lads in Manticore House would wear smart uniforms and light-blue cardies while all the toff-boys in Alpha House wore expensive-looking garments along with dark green ones.

There were also the lads in Phoenix House who wore red cardies and have a hard time finding mates outside their house. They’re very fun lads and talented wizards, but are largely unpopular, mostly with the richer students, because they come from poor families and are boarded in a house that, according to nasty rumors, doesn’t even have running water.

Alpha House always seemed to have better things than the other two houses, mainly because their members come from rich, distinguished wizard-families who had influence in the school. I’d heard rumors, mostly from lads in my house, that they were all part of a secret society bent on ruling the world!

They seemed the absolute last people on Earth that I would ever want to associate myself with until I caught a glimpse of one of them. It was the cute lad I saw from my first day at the academy! I ran back for a better look…yes, I was right! He was looking very smart in an elegant green waistcoat and an adorable black blazer. His hair was combed back with lots of gel and his laugh was high- pitched yet classy.

I planted myself in an empty corner so I could watch my perfect Alpha House boy, smiling and laughing with two tall, flabby lads who stood like armed guards next to a thin, fair-haired lad with tanned skin and his hair coiffed. The wiry boy wore an earring and looked like the athletic, runner-type, yet was nowhere near as charming as his attractive counterpart.

When the bell rang to mark the top of the hour, the Alpha House boys left and the class I’d long forgotten about had already begun! I didn’t care how much trouble I’d be in with the master for being late. I simply had to see him one more time!

Fortunately for me, I began seeing more of that gorgeous lad all around the academy after that lovely day. He usually stayed close to his mates during class, at a special table in the dining hall, and on the way to their forbidden house.

Many times, I would find myself trying to find the nerve to chat him up, curious to learn his name and what he liked to do, but he was an Alpha House lad and everyone knew that Alpha House lads only socialized with lads from their own house. I reckoned those tall boys standing next to him wouldn’t even let me near him, much less speak to him.

I tried forgetting about him early the next morning after Incantations class when I went to the changing room for Games. I personally hated it and saw no reason whatsoever for gifted wizards such as ourselves to have to engage in sport. It was here amongst rows of tall lockers that boys from all three houses undressed next to each other and the only place where stuck-up toffs had to be on equal terms with the average boy.

There were towering jocks everywhere, some of them in towels, shouting and laughing while others were stuffing little first-years into lockers, as their way of “welcoming” them to Prymoutekhny. It was part of an old tradition for upperclassmen to “welcome” first-years into our school and why I was pranked many times in my house’s dormitory.

I, meanwhile, feasted my eyes on several cute lads changing into their Games uniforms whilst admiring their attractive bodies. I simply couldn’t help myself! I was having a rather difficult time trying to remember my locker combination from being utterly distracted!

At once, I spotted my lovely Alpha House lad taking off his clothes through a crowd of boys at the end of the room. He had a flawless physique, no scars or blemishes, and every angle of his body was perfectly shaped. I stood, lost in paradise, admiring his build.

After a long while of staring, he’d finally caught me and I quickly turned my head, pretending to be busy. A short time afterward, I had another look. Though I fought the temptation as hard as I could, I only seemed to feel good when I stared at him.

The class later gathered outside in a wide field. There to greet us was Mr. Balstrode, an old master with white hair who mostly spoke with his whistle. Seriously, I thought to myself, why are so many masters in this school over a hundred? It wasn’t all naff, though. At least we got a majestic view of the Aradian mountains from there.

We played several rounds of Dragon’s Lair which, if I’m honest, has to be one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever seen!

Dragon’s Lair is a game with two teams. One team sends a runner with a ball into the opposing side of a partitioned field to try and score a goal in a protected area, whilst avoiding traps, spells, and other obstacles from the other team. I saw trap-holes, barbed-wire, and other deadly things used in a single game! Anything goes in Dragon’s Lair and each team’s captain would usually send a fast runner or a clever wizard who also had to avoid being tackled by other wizards before they reached the goal line.

My class was soon divided into teams and I was happily on my idol’s team. He looked ridiculously fit in our Games kit, which was a yellow T-shirt, long socks, and tiny pair of blue shorts. The jocks and Alpha House lads played, and survived, most of the time whilst all the nerdy boys remained glued to the sidelines.

I stayed close behind my handsome teammate who was bending down to watch the game better. I stayed behind him because I was staring at his bottom. What started out as several innocent glances soon escalated into long-lasting gazes of his matchless beauty. He soon caught me again and I quickly pretended to look at the other players.

Most of the time I didn’t play or even tackle any of the lads from the opposing side since they were too tall or unbelievably fast for me anyway. I hadn’t even used a single spell or trap, which was required from each student, to keep the rival team from getting into our field. Anything that I might’ve done would’ve seemed rubbish compared to the scary, more lethal incantations happening on both sides!

Later, during one particular round, the gorgeous boy and I were on opposing teams and I was forced to follow what was happening in the game. My team captain kept blaring at me not to be unfocused and to go after the lad with the ball.

Oh, for fuck’s sake, I thought to myself. It’s just a game!

Then, quite suddenly, the ball landed in my idol’s hands and, after remaining utterly motionless, I quickly went after him. The beautiful boy ran through snares, poisonous snakes, and even rings of fire towards our goal area. He was quite a fast runner and I couldn’t stop staring at his desirable body.

I soon caught up to my handsome opponent. I was actually the slowest member on my team during each round, yet chasing after a lad that attractive must’ve given me the ability to run faster than I ever did in my entire life!

The Alpha House boy was rapidly approaching the goal line. My teammates, and my loud captain, who was running next to me, were all shouting at me to tackle him, but I was very hesitant to do it. I simply kept running, until I was picked up and thrown ferociously by my team captain, successfully tackling my idol!

He fell to the ground, pinned down by a skinny, white skeleton hiding underneath a uniform. I immediately felt his body. Our eyes soon met and I hurriedly climbed off of him, very red in the face. At that moment, the Games master blew his whistle. My team had won the match and my fellow teammates rushed over to congratulate me.

“Nice tackle, Peach,” my captain said facetiously at me, smiling.

Several more teammates patted me on the back. When I turned, the Alpha House boy was gone. For one brief moment, I was in heaven. His body was pressed against mine… It was only for a moment, yet it felt to me like a lifetime.

Somehow, I didn’t care how, I had to tackle him again, just to feel his lovely body once more. Winning a round of Dragon’s Lair seemed to pale in comparison with the wonderful feeling of tackling that beautiful Alpha House boy. Yet I barely saw him at all in the changing room afterward and I didn’t feel very much like a winner.

The rest of the class had already left the changing room when I went into the boys’ showers to get cleaned up, allowing my body to be soaked with liters of cold water. I kept tormenting myself over that handsome lad, repeating the same phrase over and over in my head: Alpha House lads only socialize with lads from their own house.

I tried to stop thinking about him, but his spectacular body stayed in my mind, always leaving me breathless.

Then, all of a sudden, I lost control of my breathing. I kept gasping for air but was losing tremendous amounts of oxygen. It felt as though I were drowning, even though I’d already turned off the shower!

“Help…!” I shouted in between breaths.“Someone…help! I…can’t…breathe!”

I began to wheeze terribly, everything about me turning dark. I was completely alone in the changing room, so there was no one about who could save me! I was fading away fast and about ready to meet my maker!

All of a sudden, as quickly as my affliction came on, my wheezing stopped and I began to breathe normally again. Air had been restored back into my lungs and everything was coming into focus.

What was happening to me? I asked myself. I really thought I was going to die here in the shower, thinking about that special lad!

 

I was terribly late for class the next day and ran through the halls carrying several thick tomes under each of my arms. One of the books fell and I went back, grumbling as I bent down to pick it up. I then saw a hand take my book and when I looked up, there he was. My perfect Alpha House boy!

I was captivated once more by his infectious smile. Our eyes soon met, and, at that moment, I saw a small, white-hot spark appear between our faces that sent us back a bit, though the comely lad was still smiling.

“Hi!” he said to me.

“Hello,” I answered back.

“Is this yours?” he asked, handing me my book.

I stood there, frozen and utterly speechless. I’d been waiting for the chance to talk to this beautiful lad since the day I first saw him and now that he was here, I didn’t know what to say to him! My mouth was open, but no noise was coming out. In the end, though, I simply nodded my head and took back my tome.

“What’s your name?” he then asked, his smile never leaving his face. From the sound of his accent, I dare say he must’ve been American.

“E-E-Edward,” I stammered. “Edward Peach.”

“I like the sound of your accent, Edward,” he said. “Are you English?”

“Mm,” I replied nodding. “I’m from Manley, a small village on the Suffolk coast.”

“Pleased to meet you, Edward,” he said, shaking hands with me. I’d made it this far and I thought it was about time that I ask him his name. I took a deep breath and finally worked up enough courage to ask that simple question.

“Mr. Andreas,” he told me.

In our school, students addressed each other by saying “Mr.” and then their surnames only in very formal situations. While we’re not expected to use it the rest of the time, our masters used it on us every day during each of our classes. In return, every student had to address his master in the honorific, as well as use “sir,” or “madam.” First-year slaves were also ordered to answer their fifth- year owners in the honorific as well.

Chuckling that we were not on ceremony to call each other by “Mr.,” I asked him, still very nervous, to tell me his first name. At once, the warm, inviting smile that I’d come to love from the Alpha House lad quickly vanished and there was a very serious look on his face that could well have turned anyone white with fear!

“My first name must never be spoken,” he said severely. “Not ever. Bad things happen when someone says my first name!”

I swallowed hard. I bloody thought he was going to cut off my head just then! As though the ominous storm cloud that’d loomed over him finally passed, the adorable lad soon turned back to his normal, jovial-self.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, Edward,” he asked, “but are you in Mr. Hoŕk’s Magic and Defense class?”

“Yes, I am!” I answered, my face lighting up.

“Me, too! I’m really looking forward to seeing you there.”

“Likewise, I’m sure!” 

“See you later, Edward!” 

“Good-bye.”

The handsome lad smiled at me once more and then left. I remained there, stationary and overwhelmed with a mix of emotions, mostly fear from the deathly white look Mr. Andreas had given about saying his first name but also joy from having at last spoken with him. It was a moment later that I’d realized I was late and hurried back to class!

I don’t remember much about what’d happened afterward, but after days in this worthless boarding school, filled with snooty toff-boys, bullies, and stuffy old masters, it was finally worth all the trouble just to meet that perfect Alpha House boy.

Accepted. I actually rather liked the sound of that.


 

Chapter Two: Friends and Enemies

 

After three hours of endless wizard-classes with our tedious old masters, hundreds of hungry boys flocked every day to the school dining hall at precisely twelve o’clock for lunch. I literally had to fight my way past a large crowd of taller lads and adults, simply to get to the hall, before waiting in a long queue to pick my food from a wide entrée station. Afterward, I proceeded to find a table, again having to brave the enormous throng of wizards.

Because the majority of students were natives, the hall mostly served Aradian food. It was very colorful, but the smell was a little off-putting. There was strange meat served with a wide array of sundries, including capsicums, aubergines, and courgettes in some odd-looking sauce. There was beef with sultanas, marinated trotters, and—my absolute least favorite—roasted pigeon. Everything was either pickled or drowning in thick, mucky sauce and, usually, I’d only have a burger or something that reminded me of home.

Finding a vacant table was difficult in the dense forest of engaged benches, the noisy chatter of boys also filling up the entire hall. One could get lost in a vast sea of loud lads talking or messing about with their mates whilst stuffing their faces with food. At last, I’d find a table and sit alone, as was my habit, and it was then that my problems had begun.

For what seemed like days, I was at the mercy of a gang of nasty fifth-years who bullied me and kept filching my lunch. They’d always surround me, taking my food and making me do humiliating things to get it back. Standing up for myself was out of the question because it was against academy protocol for first-years to respond to upperclassmen.

In Prymoutekhny, the number of years you had in this school determined your social ranking and therefore your mates. First and second-years were placed at the bottom of the heap and forced to make mates with themselves whilst third, fourth, and fifth-years had more prestige and made mates with whomever they pleased. Regardless of which house you belonged to, first-years always seemed to be bullied the most, had to be servile to upperclassmen, and, simply because they were new, were “welcomed” to this school by being pranked and humiliated.

I was basically made to sit there, taking all their abuse, and obey their every embarrassing command or answer every intimidating question with a “yes, sir,” “no, sir,” or “sorry, sir.” Even though I’d always behaved obediently, those gigantic bastards always ended up eating my lunch in front of me. Afterward, they’d go, leaving me alone with only a bit of paper wrapping and an empty food tray.

“Wankers,” I’d mouthed at them, after rubbing my eyes.

I went hungry for what seemed like ages until one day I thought about going someplace to hide and have my lunch. I soon found an empty corner down a long hallway in the school that was a considerable distance from the dining hall.

No one will ever think to find me here, I thought.

I sat on the floor, reached into my pocket, and took out a flattened sandwich, unwrapping it from its Clingfilm wrapper and greedily taking several large bites. I had been deprived of so many missed meals that my poor stomach was now literally in heaven!

I hadn’t even finished my sandwich when I felt a hand touch my shoulder. I turned my head with a jolt and, at once, saw a familiar face—Mr. Andreas! He stood towering over me, staring down for a moment at this not-so-pleasant scene.

“Edward,” he said, smiling at me. “I thought it was you I saw sitting down here. Why are you all by yourself?”

I hung my head. Suddenly, the sandwich that I’d been long looking forward to no longer looked appetizing. He asked me again, but I chose to remain silent.

The well-dressed lad then sat down next to me and asked me if there was something I wanted to tell him. I finally explained my situation to him, feeling rather uncomfortable as I told that pampered boy about my problem, a boy perhaps born with a golden spoon in his mouth.

“Why don’t you stand up to them, Edward?” he asked. “Bullies stop picking on kids when they fight back.”

I then reminded my companion that doing so was against school rules, along with another pressing reason of my own. I came from a nonviolent family, where we firmly believed that violence never solved anything. We’d seen many instances in our village where violence between feuding wizard-clans ended terribly and that was another reason why I refrained from using magic to hurt or endanger the lives of others.

The rumbling in my stomach quickly broke the momentary silence between us. Talking to my useless housemaster about the bullies was simply out of the question so I thought about telling one of my masters. That was when Mr. Andreas, who was very quiet, as though some bright idea was hatching up inside his head, proposed a somewhat different solution to me.

“Do you want me to tell them to stop?” he asked.

“You?” I responded in disbelief. “How can you make them stop? They’re huge, these bastards, and you’re the same size as me.”

“I’ll make them stop,” Mr. Andreas said reassuringly. “This time tomorrow, I promise you’ll be eating in the dining hall and that they’ll never pick on you ever again. You just have to promise me that you’ll never ask me how I did it. Is it a deal?”

I couldn’t believe for one moment that Mr. Andreas would rid me of those horrible lads, but I really didn’t want to upset him. I should’ve asked him what he was planning, but all I could think about was finishing my sandwich.

Ultimately, I said nothing and simply nodded my head. At Mr. Andreas’s request, I began telling him the names of my fifth-year bullies. Thereafter, he patted me on the shoulder before giving me a quick smile and leaving.

In the days that followed, I began to see less and less of those fifth-years and was happily eating back in the dining hall. All the lads in class and in my house said those students had mysteriously disappeared and no one seemed to know what’d happened to them.

I was half-tempted to ask Mr. Andreas how he came about stopping them, but something inside made me think the answer was probably far more disturbing than whatever wild thoughts floated about in my head. These were merely silly thoughts, but I still wondered.

He couldn’t possibly have done anything like that to those lads…could he?

 

A month had passed since my eventful first day at Prymoutekhny, and, after first making minimal contact with any student in my classes, I’d finally made a handful of mates that made my stay at this revolting academy a little more acceptable.

I found three fun lads, all Manticore House first-years, who wanted to become friends and form a clique with me. It was a very popular thing in this school for first-years to form small cliques so as to combine forces against bullies and nasty fifth-years, and we’d soon devised a clever plan to avoid any trouble with that lot.

Whenever a bully would harass a member of our clique, one of us would threaten to tell their fifth-year owner to come after him. All our upperclassmen know better than to come between a fifth-year and his slave and, before long, we were scaring any bully away with his tail between his legs! The plan always worked perfectly, even though none of the members of our clique actually had an owner.

I first became mates with Tolbert Petrov, or “Tolbie” as I called him, a friendly redheaded American boy who had a freckly-face and curly hair that was never combed nor trimmed. He was an eccentric lad with a delightful smile, a grand sense of humor, and always came to class wearing socks of different colors.

He was the same little bugger from the orientation who had pulled that snake-trick on me but now he wanted to become my ally. I thought it particularly best for the two of us to combine forces because he was bullied quite a lot and tough jocks loved shoving him into cramped lockers during Games.

The two of us then became mates with a brainy lad named Rekuta Gorky, a short, chubby Aradian who spoke English exceptionally well. He had an amazing memory and was just the lad you could count on for that big Wizards Exam. Even more surprising was that he was only twelve years old and the youngest student ever accepted into this academy! Therefore, you could imagine how much bullies loved to pick on a tiny first-year who wore big spectacles and sported an adorable bowtie.

It wasn’t long before we’d all become mates with Akaky Pryssepphov, who honestly had to be the most peculiar lad I’ve ever met. He was a pale Aradian, too tall to be fourteen, who spoke with a thick accent. Akaky had a bright face and a wide smile underneath a large, slanted nose. Then there was his hair. It was a platinum-blonde color that made him look like an old man. Very often students and bullies, as well as other adults, confused him for a master!

Akaky was a nice lad, but out of all of us, he was the most unprepared. He’d always ask to borrow something, like a pencil, a leaf of parchment, notes from the previous lecture, and even written assignments, all after losing it the first time. I eventually drew the line when he asked to borrow some of my clothes right before Games.

Akaky was also the funniest student in the entire academy. If there were one person in the world who could drive any of our masters mad with his comedic antics, it was him. He’d already been sent to the headmaster’s office a hundred times now and his worst enemy was our Magic and Defense master.

Magic and Defense was a dangerous and very challenging class where we learnt hundreds of different spells whilst acquiring the skills to counter them. A few of these hexes were geared towards “encumbering your opponent,” as well as a long list of “killing spells” that could take a wizard’s life.

There were more than a hundred killing spells, each with names in Aradian, that range from “weak” to “devastating.” One particular hex, Krazyny, could mortally wound your opponent with only a small chance of survival and was considered a weak spell. Yet there was another devastating curse, Kashira, which was cruel and horrible. It was absolutely forbidden in our school and, once inflicted, it would guarantee a slow, painful death.

Our instructor, Mr. Hoŕk, pronounced “Horsh-ka,” was an old, podgy little man with an explosive temper. He would come to the lecture every day dressed in his suit and class robes as if to shout to the entire world that he’d studied here. Mr. Hoŕkỳ got very cross when a student arrived even a second late. He was not very fond of students mucking about during class and spoke English with a strange, slight accent, which I reckoned was Aradian.

As a former member of Alpha House, he held nothing but high regard for the exclusive house and always wore a formal pin bearing its elaborate seal. On the first day of class, the master had barged through the door, already in a foul mood.

“Let me be very clear,” he began lecturing us, “that Magic and Defense is not some little playground for kiddies. You can get killed or seriously hurt here if you fail to pay attention. Every student in this room has the potential to become a great sorcerer and achieve fame beyond their wildest imaginations, but only if they work hard and do exactly what I tell them.”

He then took a decaying wand from out of his robes and brought it in front of him. It was probably as old as he was, first used perhaps when time began.

“This object,” he continued, “is your best friend and will protect you in times of battle. It is not a toy but rather a reflection of its owner. They are already enchanted with their own infinite magic, but it takes a real wizard to harness their inner power.”

It was at that moment that a lad decided to make a silly comment to which every student in the class burst out with laughter. The master then aimed his wand and cast a rapid spell that closed up the lad’s mouth completely! The poor boy was in a wave of panic as he tried, again and again, to make it open but to no avail.

“You’ll get to speak when you show a little more respect in my class,” the old bloke bellowed. “Anyone else who dares to speak out of turn shall be dealt with punishments far worse than your classmate here.”

It was a rude awakening for the lot of us, yet there was still one thing that made going to that brutal class seem worth all the trouble.

Soon after my chance encounter with that handsome Alpha House lad, Mr. Andreas and I became friends and sat next to each other every day in the front row of Magic and Defense class. I secretly called him my hero after he freed me from those beastly lads who kept bullying and starving me in the dining hall. He was my first and best mate in Prymoutekhny, and from the day I first saw him, I knew he’d make my stay here much better.

Mr. Andreas was the most brilliant boy I’ve ever known. He was a very intelligent first-year, always receiving high marks on all his exams, and a talented wizard who could make new friends easily. I’d heard from my classmates that he was taking advanced classes as well, and even old Mr. Hoŕkỳ couldn’t resist his charms. Then again, he probably only liked him because he came from his favorite house.

As if that weren’t enough, I soon discovered that Mr. Andreas was the son of a very famous sorcerer named Lazarus Andreas. I wasn’t too familiar with him, but everyone in school said he was one of the greatest wizards ever known, coming from a very illustrious family, and was quite wealthy to boot. My mate didn’t really like talking about his father and hated it when other lads, as well as our masters, would go on about wanting to see him grow up to be a famous wizard, just like his dad, and cringed at the very sound of his name.

I felt rather fortunate being mates with such an impressive lad and really enjoyed talking and messing about with him. The two of us were inseparable, yet it seemed quite alarming to everyone that an Alpha House lad would be seen hanging out with a boy from Manticore House. Seriously, this sort of thing had never happened before!

Both Alpha House and my own house had been the fiercest of rivals, ever since this academy had opened, with some of their oldest students graduating as powerful conjurers of note. Phoenix House was a worthy competitor as well, yet the other two houses always seemed to be fighting each other for supremacy of the school.

Therefore, you can imagine how difficult it was for a lad from Manticore House to be seen with a rival student and how their lives could be in danger. Most lads from my house were simply too afraid to even trifle with a member of Alpha House and there had been rumors about how, historically, members from Manticore House have been assaulted or even killed for getting a little too close to an Alpha House lad.

I would receive the strangest of looks from the other boys of the elite group. They’d also whisper about me when they thought I wasn’t listening. Yet it didn’t bother me too much anyway since I assumed their house was just a small building where posh lads dressed nicely, ate expensive food, and talked of their fathers making executive decisions with world leaders or other silly bollocks.

As I was walking alone down some dark corridor to class one afternoon, I received a visit from three familiar- looking Alpha House lads. They were Mr. Andreas’s three mates, the thin, athletic boy and his two bodyguards. They quickly stopped me and asked me questions as though I’d committed some sort of offense.

The shortest lad did most of the talking and asked me what my mate had told me or what things I’d been telling him. I answered that neither of us had told each other anything, ultimately saying how I didn’t see how it was any of their business.

At once, the wiry lad ordered one of his lackeys to squeeze my arm and warned me to stay away from Mr. Andreas or else something terrible would happen to me. I was then released from the painful grip and soon let alone. Before they left, I was told to watch my back because they would be watching my every move.

Soon afterward, I’d caught up with my Alpha House mate who was smiling, very pleased to see me. I thought about telling him about what’d happened earlier until he said he had something very special to give me.

He drew out a magic wand and cast a quick spell of bright, bluish-light in front of my face. It was so bright that I had to close my eyes from the intense luminescence. Once I opened them, Mr. Andreas handed me a mirror and told me to look at myself in it.

“There,” he said to me. “Now, you don’t have any more acne.”

I looked at my reflection. He was right! All of my pimples and embarrassing blemishes had now gone! My face was so clear I thought I was staring at someone else!

At that moment, it didn’t much matter what any of those Alpha House toffs thought of my mate and me. The two of us were friends and nothing was going to change that.

 

One day during Enchanted Potions class, my old master, Ms. Wormwood, decided to have everyone pair up for a group project. She was a very peculiar woman who would come to each lecture wearing fancy jewelry, only the finest of clothes—mostly imported—and sporting all sorts of expensive wide-brimmed hats.

Our bizarre master had us memorize and create hundreds of magical potions, elixirs, and even poisons and had an odd penchant for collecting venomous plants that grew as tall as trees in our tiny classroom. Her favorite pet was a black cat she always kept bundled in her arms and my biggest peeve about her was the way she would tut at any student who misbehaved or didn’t turn in a written assignment.

Ms. Wormwood had brought in some students from the advanced class to assist us in our group projects and, to my delight, one of them was Mr. Andreas! I very much wanted to be partners with him, but, unfortunately, he’d already been paired up with a Russian lad, Dmitry Khanin, so I was made to work with an Indian boy named Anju Choudhury.

I could see my mate from the back of the room, having a wonderful time mixing all kinds of herbs and chemicals into a tiny cauldron with his playful partner whilst I was stuck with a very boring one. Despite the fact that Anju was very nerdy, I felt bad that he had to explain everything twice to me because I wasn’t paying much attention.

The class was well over half-finished and my eyes were still on the duo in the first row. They really seemed to be enjoying themselves and the Alpha House lad appeared to become instant mates with Dmitry, who was so bloody handsome that it was hard for one not to keep their eyes off him. He had a lovely face, nice hair, and eyes that shone like a pair of rare stones. The cute parting of the boy’s hair made him even more desirable!

They looked the perfect match and it didn’t help that they were both Alpha House lads who saw each other even in the forbidden house! I was more upset than I’d ever been and I seriously cocked up my group project.

In the days that followed, the two of them spent even more time together. Whenever my mate would present Dmitry to me, I’d pretend to smile and be polite when inside I felt like giving him a good thumping. I couldn’t believe that despicable lad had stolen the traitor who I used to call my friend! Dmitry had all the things that I didn’t have that suited Mr. Andreas and that kept putting me in a right mood!

I should’ve been very cross with my mate, but I couldn’t do it. I simply could not bring myself to hate that perfect lad. His beautiful face and impeccable body, the same work of art I looked forward to seeing every morning before Games, were constantly on my mind. If you had to ask what my favorite part of his body was, I’d say it was his bum.

Later, on one unfortunate occasion, something… rather embarrassing happened.

It was during an exam in Wizard History class, the entire room full of lads writing on their leaves of parchment. I hadn’t even finished the first question when I began to daydream about my attractive mate disrobing in the changing room.

I pictured his snow-white, perfectly-formed body in all its splendored glory alongside several other cute lads. I had once walked in on him alone, next to his locker, bending down and taking off his trousers, his tiny white briefs on show. That had been before we were mates and, when he spotted me, he quickly hitched up his trousers, quite red in the face!

Mr. Andreas was casting a spell on me with his flawless physique because the more I thought about him, the more I began to feel a strange, powerful surge all over my entire body. It was an odd yet wondrous feeling, like a volcano that was about to erupt. I’d never felt anything like this before, and I wanted it to go on when something happened.

There was a delightful tingle down my nether-region and, when I looked down, I noticed something quite unusual was transpiring underneath my trousers. It was as if something inside me were trying to burst forth forcefully from out of my uniform!

What’s going on here, then? I thought.

It grew bigger and bigger. Things were getting out of hand and I had to take action. I crossed my legs, trying to crush the little devil, as well as pounded it softly with both hands. My best intentions were futile. The unrelenting eruption was unfolding whilst other students about me couldn’t help but stare at my odd movements.

I was having a crisis when, after a while, the strange exhibition ended and things started to return to normal. What was happening to me? What was this unusual feeling that was taking over my body? Was all this part of being under Mr. Andreas’s powerful spell?

 

Days later, Mr. Andreas invited me for a stroll down one of the walkways outside the great academy. It was an icy autumn afternoon and the two of us were wearing heavy jumpers and mufflers ’round our necks, my friend sporting a stylish coat. The sun’s rays were powerless to combat the intense cold that was biting at our blushing cheeks as my companion decided to speak in raptures about his Russian chum.

He went on about how Dmitry was such a lovely lad and how lucky he was to be friends with him. I wasn’t paying much attention, as all my hopes of becoming best mates with Mr. Andreas were completely dashed to pieces.

“So, what do you think of him?” he finally asked me. 

“Er…who?” I asked.

“Dmitry! I’ve been talking about him this whole time!”

“Oh, yes, of course!” I said, feigning ignorance. “Sorry, I was a bit distracted.”

“Well, what do you think of him?” he asked again impatiently.

“Dmitry? Oh, I think he’s an interesting lad and very bright as well.”

“Bright?” my friend exploded. “He’s a genius! Even Rekuta’s not as smart as he is and he’s supposed to be the smartest kid in school! Dmitry’s super-smart and really good-looking! I’ve never met anyone as great as him!”

“Then perhaps he should be your best mate,” I quickly shot out. “That way, you can spend as much time with him as you like!”

My mate’s ebullience was immediately halted by my remark. I half-expected him to walk away or shoot back with an even nastier comment, but, instead, he simply smiled that familiar smile of his and slowly began to laugh. I was red in the face, standing next to him with a look of absolute confusion.

“I fail to see what you find so amusing,” I said.

“You’re jealous!” he laughed. “I can’t believe you’re jealous because you think I like Dmitry more than you!”

“You’ve made that perfectly clear!” I retorted.

My companion then put his arm around me in a friendly manner and tried convincing me that we were still mates. Mr. Andreas had a knack for making friends and that was something I was just going to have to accept.

I wanted to hate him at that moment, but I couldn’t resist that attractive face and exquisite body. He was my dream boy after all and it was difficult, if not impossible, for me to hate him. Finally, after swallowing all my pride, I apologized to him for my harsh comment.

As we continued to walk, the biting air that’d nearly given us hypothermia began to subside and the weather suddenly began to warm up a bit. After a long silence, Mr. Andreas decided to speak once more.

“So,” he began. “Do you have a girlfriend back home?” 

“Sorry?” I replied at once.

“You know, back in England. Do you have someone waiting for you there?”

“No, why do you ask?”

“Would you like one?” he said, trying to entice me.

My mate quickly brought out a small book from his pocket full of pictures of girls in bikinis. I stood there with my mouth open, not saying a word, as he flipped through each page to show me.

“What do you think about her?” he asked me, showing me a scantily-clad girl in very provocative positions. “Don’t you think she looks hot? I’ll let you have her. Just don’t tell anyone that I gave it to you.”

“What the fuck are you doing with all that?” I shouted.

“What do you mean?” he asked at once. “Everyone in school has these, and some of the guys in Alpha House have at least ten girlfriends. Here, have one.”

“Keep that away from me!” I yelled, shoving the book vigorously away from me. “I’m not into any of that!”

“Oh, I understand,” he said. Mr. Andreas then came closer and put his hand on my shoulder, promising he wouldn’t tell anyone that I had material that was forbidden under strict school protocol…so long as I was able to do the same.

“No,” I cried. “That’s not what I meant! I’m not into any sort of degenerate rubbish that all the lads from Alpha House are looking at!”

“You’re not suggesting,” he then asked, “that all the kids in Alpha House are degenerates for looking at ‘rubbish,’ are you?”

“NO!” I shouted. “That’s not what I meant at all!” 

“Then what is it?” he asked, getting somewhat cross.

I hesitated, my mind desperately searching for some sort of justification. My mate simply stood in front of me, his arms crossed, waiting for my answer. Yet in the end, what came out of my mouth wasn’t quite the answer I’d expected.

“I like boys!” I blurted out.

I quickly gasped and covered my mouth. The closely- guarded secret I’d kept even from my family was no longer safe within the privacy of my own head! There was silence between the two of us and my mate had let the book of girls drop unknowingly to his feet.

He stood there, silent as a bronze statue. Who knows what he must’ve been thinking about me at that moment. Before letting him have the benefit of the first word, I quickly turned ’round and ran away from his sight.

After quite a few successful attempts to avoid him, I didn’t see Mr. Andreas again after that unfortunate day. I was never more afraid of anyone in my entire life, my mind tormenting me with what sort of things he might’ve told everyone. I hadn’t experienced any repercussions from some of the tougher lads in the academy, but I was still fearful for my life.

A week passed before, at last, he found me sitting alone in the school dining hall one day after evening meal. He sat down next to me, no one else in the gigantic room. I didn’t want to face him and stared at my unfinished tray of food. We were both silent for a time until, after several bone-chilling minutes, my companion was the first to speak.

He asked me how my classes were going, whether I was enjoying all the exotic Aradian dishes, and other sorts of friendly chinwag. I couldn’t take anymore and threw down my fork, stood up, and began to yell at my companion, so full of fear and apprehension that I was very close to crying.

“Right,” I shouted, “go ahead and say it! Go tell it to all your little mates in Alpha House or to every lad in the school! Tell all the fifth-years, the masters, and the headmaster! Shout it to the mountaintops! I don’t care! Call me a queer, a nancy-boy, a poof, whatever your fancy! Call me whatever your heart desires, but for fuck’s sake, PLEASE SAY SOMETHING!”

“Are you going to finish your dessert?” was all he said.

I let out an exasperated yell and began to walk away in a fit of rage when something quite unexpected happened next. Mr. Andreas reached out and cupped hold of my hand. I turned back to see he was stroking it with his thumb in an amorous fashion and was staring right at me, his soft eyes pleading to me.

“Don’t go,” he said softly. “Please.”

I was beyond speechless from utter shock and my brain couldn’t quite process what’d just happened. All I could do was sit back down in the chair next to him. Neither of us said anything for a moment, but my American friend was still smiling that same infectious smile of his. If there’s one thing about Yanks, it’s that they love to show their teeth.

“All this time…?” I remarked, at a loss for words. “Er, that is…I mean…I thought you were…well, you know… that you were…”

“Straight?” he asked me at once.

I nodded my head, my mouth still open.

“Why do you say that?”

“I don’t know,” I cried, my brain still in shock. “Why’d you keep all those pictures of girls in your pocket?” 

“When I saw you staring at me in the changing room,” he began, “I was starting to think that maybe you were attracted to me. So, I had to find out. Once I saw how you reacted to the book of girls and after hearing what you said about liking boys, then I knew.”

My mind was still spinning out of control. My brain had completely frozen up, still unable to get a grip. Finally, after regaining all possible thought back into my head, I asked Mr. Andreas one final important question:

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked him.

“Tell you what?”

“That you were gay!”

“I just didn’t have the nerve,” he answered bashfully.

“I tried looking for you for days after you ran away to tell you, but I couldn’t find you. I like boys, too!”

I stopped talking at last, and, for the first time in my life, I was truly happy. Someone else in this entire bloody planet understood exactly what I was going through!

I suddenly felt a peculiar urge to smile, something I never did much in my life, and the two of us continued to sit there, simply smiling stupidly at each other. If mobile phones were allowed in this school, and if mine wasn’t back with my parents in Manley, I suppose a selfie would’ve been in order.

From that rather unusual day forward, I was never happier than when I saw Mr. Andreas. My best mate and I were very fond of each other and I enjoyed talking and messing about with him even more in Magic and Defense class before old Mr. Hoŕkỳ would arrive. My mate’s sophisticated laugh became music to my ears, and whenever I looked at his sweet face, I got collywobbles and I couldn’t think straight.

“Hi,” he’d say each time he saw me.

“Hello…” I would reply, utterly mesmerized by his face.

Then, on one venturous day, as the two of us were alone in a secret hallway, not even bothering to get to class on time, my mate asked me if I wanted to be his boyfriend. For all time, I told him. Mr. Andreas smiled and, from then on, the two of us became a real couple.

We soon began to show our affection and share our most intimate secrets with each other. I got used to him placing his hand on my leg underneath my desk during a long lecture or whispering obscene jokes in my ear. Later, as we’d walk alone together, I’d feel his hand creep up to touch mine. We’d hold hands whilst staring into each other’s eyes before we were forced to let go at the sight of someone passing by.

Despite our deep feelings for each other, our new relationship had to be kept under tight surveillance. What we were doing was still not widely accepted in Prymoutekhny and could even get us into trouble.

All over the academy, our older masters and even young Aradians would cling to their outdated views and there were times in the changing room, before and even after Games, when tall, scary-looking jocks went to thrash any lads they suspected might be gay. No one but Mr. Andreas knew I liked boys, but I spoke with a gay lilt, which would also explain why so many bullies picked on me.

It wasn’t fair how the school was so horribly drenched in homophobia that they were lenient even to the worst of heterosexual crimes. If an older student somehow got one of the maids in my house pregnant, he’d receive a right ear-bashing from all the masters and be suspended. For what we were doing, however, our actions would result in expulsion!

We had to keep our feelings secret, yet even this was still enough for the two of us to be very happy. It was a curious thing to see how that perfect Alpha House boy had now become my boyfriend and how I changed from simply fancying him to…loving him.

Author Shane Ulrrein
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