Chapter Two

Avery spent about an hour or so going over her notes. When the morning sun started filtering in and brightening the room, she glanced at the clock on the wall above the TV. 

It was eight in the morning, the perfect time for Avery to get ready to leave the dorm apartment. 

She packed her notebooks and quickly got ready. As usual, Avery brushed her hair, put on light strokes of eyeliner and mascara before she walked into Becca's room and threw a couch cushion at her best friend. 

"I'm leaving! Get up and shower before you're late," Avery warned her roommate as Becca groaned and rolled on her back. Becca rubbed her eyes and yawned, squinting at Avery through the slits of her eyes as if it was Avery's fault she was tired. 

"Already? I feel like I barely closed my eyes, and you're already barging into my room, assaulting me with loud words and pillows," Becca whined. A deep frown overtook her beautiful face as she stretched out like a cat before a loud huff left her lips, and Becca sank back into her bed. 

"That's what you get for sneaking out last night to party and hang out with Mark. It's nearly the break; you'll have so much time to waste with the boys then. Don't be late. You can sleep for the two weeks we are off," Avery reminded her, jumping in on the chance to tease her friend. 

She never intended to hurt Becca about something she did. If anything, Avery was genuinely happy about her best friend- at least one of them could enjoy life to the fullest and let go of their brakes.

"I hate you; you're always the voice of reason," Becca growled at Avery, a playful undertone lacing her words as she reached for the phone she had dropped on the bed earlier. She swiped her finger over the screen and groaned, probably annoyed by the brightness of her phone screen.

"Love you too. Now get your ass up. I have to leave now, so I won't be here to wake you if you drift off back to sleep." 

Becca instantly sat up and threw her feet over the edge of her bed. 

Seeing that she was indeed getting up, Avery placed the empty coffee cup in the sink and grabbed her book bag, slinging it over her shoulder. Walking down the small hallway, Avery grabbed her keys from the bowl and left the apartment, heading towards the main exit of the campus. 

As she walked downstairs to the bottom level of the dorm block, Avery noticed masses of students walking around and getting ready for their morning classes. 

Some of them were getting ready to depart for the holidays early, which Avery couldn't deny, did make her feel a little jealous. But only a tiny bit. 

She made her way across the quad towards the N block, where her chemistry lab was located. Avery couldn't resist the temptation to people watch- all of them were so different, yet each and every one beamed with positive energy as they got ready for the day. 

However, despite the positive energy surrounding her, Avery felt the ping of that same strange sensation roll over her again- the feeling of being watched, the same thing that made her neck prickle. 

Slightly paranoid, Avery fastened her pace to get rid of the feeling, yet the sensation didn't leave her despite how much she needed to escape. 

Avalon University was the only University in all of Avalon City that had equal numbers of human and supernatural students. Some found the vision of the headmasters ridiculous, while Avery believed it was the best thing they could do- to give everyone an equal chance. 

Overall, there were over five thousand students that attended the University and lived on the campus. 

The two other Universities in the City were smaller- Dark Night University was located on the Northside of Avalon City and had strictly a supernatural-only campus. Lilydale was on the South side, and that was a human-only University. 

Avery still wasn't sure how she felt about other Universities showing off their sides like that. Picking on unimportant details and separating people based on their species or abilities seemed rather wrong, but it wasn't like she could do anything about that. 

For the most part, the humans and supernatural population coexisted peacefully, but at the same time, that didn't mean they wanted to share everything, which was one of the details Avery strongly agreed with. 

She couldn't claim there weren't evil people among hers, but it was a well-known fact that many humans strive for power, and they often used supernaturals to get what they wanted, hence why the secrets had to be kept safe. 

Both sides were governed by their own people and followed strict laws and guidelines to keep the peace. Some humans still didn't trust and feared what they couldn't understand fully and had trouble accepting certain kinds of people into their communities. 

It sounded like a joke if you asked Avery, as so many humans blindly followed a deity they couldn't see. It wasn't like she had any problems with humans, especially since she looked like one of them, but humans still feared those of the supernatural population that appeared to be more sinister, like the vampires and demons. 

The main source of that unexplainable fear appeared because of the great war. It ended over ninety years ago after vampires and demons went to war with humans. Humans were defenceless and slaughtered cruelly until the Witches stepped in to help them. They finally won, creating a treaty and working together to find a way for all to live side by side without killing each other.

Avalon University was in the middle of the City, making it easily accessible to both human and supernatural communities. Besides, the University buildings stood on neutral grounds, so everyone was welcome, regardless of their backgrounds. 

When Becca and Avery graduated from high school, they didn't want to part ways and attend separate Universities. So it made sense that they both enrolled in Avalon University together. Needless to add how proud their parents were. Not only for their accomplishments but also for the strength of their friendship and close bond. 

Since Avery had sunk in the thoughts and memories by the time she reached her chemistry lab, the corridors of the University were utterly empty. 

Strolling closer to the door, Avery peered in the small window of the closed door. The lab was empty; not a single soul came into her view, and what was even weirder was that the lights were off and the curtains closed. 

Taking one step back, Avery finally noticed the large, yellow post-it note next to the small rectangle window she had just peered in. *NO CLASS TODAY. ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAYS, AND REMEMBER ASSIGNMENTS DUE THE FIRST WEEK BACK. -PROFESSOR ANDERSON.*

And what was she supposed to do now? That chemistry class was supposed to take up half of Avery's day, and now she was left hanging?

Sulking, Avery turned on her heel and headed back the same way she came here. When she opened the University's door and carefully walked down the massive concrete stairs, the phone in the front pocket of her jeans vibrated. 

Reaching for the small device and checking the caller ID, Avery grinned. It was her mother. With a blinding smile across her lips, Avery answered the call. 

However, before her mother could speak up, dread crept up on Avery- it was unusual to get a call from her mother this early. 

Shaking her head, Avery tossed the uneasy feeling aside- she had to admit that her mother knew her timetable better than Avery herself, so she probably knew about the cancelled chemistry class. 

"Hi, ma," Avery greeted her mother as soon as she regained her senses. 

For some reason, she had the need to glance around once that strange feeling crept over her again. Avery's eyes stopped once she spotted the man from the bathroom standing on the second level of the building across from her. His arms draped over the railing as he stared directly at Avery. 

He smiles, revealing those blindingly white teeth and Avery's face instantly heated up. Was he the reason why Avery kept getting the feeling she was being watched?

Avery shook her head in denial, gulped, tore her eyes away from the stranger to focus on anything on him, and picked up her pace. She was paranoid; she had to be. There was no other excuse Avery could use to explain everything. 

"Hey sweetie, you're not in class, are you?" Her mother asked, which Avery thought was a bit off. 

If anyone, her mother always knew when and where Avery was. It was a habit of keeping a close eye on her daughter. And no, it wasn't that her mother tried to control her; everything she did was out of concern. 

"No, I'm supposed to be, but they have cancelled chemistry. What's up?" Avery mumbled, making her way back across the campus grounds and away from the leering eyes of the handsome stranger.

"Oh, nothing. I just wanted to see if you wanted to have lunch today at Morgan's café with your father and me. He doesn't have many patients today," she stated, but Avery had a feeling that wasn't all. 

Her mother held back from sharing everything on her mind, so Avery quickly agreed, hoping that'd untangle her tongue. "Sure; what time? I'll be there."

"Is one okay with you?" Avery's mother asked, a little hesitant, to which Avery nodded her head before she realised her mother couldn't see her. 

"Yep, that's absolutely fine with me. I'll see you later then, ma. Love you." Avery blurted out and hung up the call before the temptation to ask questions kicked in. 

Her mother wasn't one to call her while the classes were on. She knew Avery's schedule better than Avery herself did so no one could blame Avery for becoming a little vary. 

The quick phone call with her mother was strange, to say the least. Or maybe Avery tried to read too much into it? Her thought was unusually conflicted today, so she wouldn't be surprised if the only issue was her overthinking habits. 

Still, her mother didn't sound as bubbly and cheerful as she usually did. There had to be something up with her. Avery didn't care if it was paranoia assaulting her mind- she had two weeks of a break coming up, and the fact that her parents wanted to see her now was way out of their character. 

What could've happened for them to want to see her before the holidays started? She'd see them on Saturday, and besides, why wasn't her mother opening her store today? The poor woman ran it by herself and rarely took a day off except for Sundays, but even then, she usually went in for work.

Distracted by her thoughts, Avery didn't notice how fast she reached her dorm, and as soon as she walked in the door, Beca was getting ready to leave. "You're back. What did you forget?" Becca asked as Avery turned to face her after shutting the door.

"No class today. I'm going to skip my other class and have lunch with my parents." Avery gave Becca a shrug, dumping her bag next to the sofa and sitting down.

"Fine, but if you're blowing off the rest of the day, I'm not going either," Becca replied while throwing herself onto the sofa beside Avery. 

"You might as well come to lunch then. My parents haven't seen you in a couple of weeks. They will be excited to see you." Avery grinned as the suggestion passed her lips, excited to spend time with Becca without one of her countless boyfriends. 

Avery hated being the third wheel even though Becca had tried to encourage her to start dating, yet she didn't see any point in starting since her Coven would own Avery, and she'd be forced to take part despite disliking the women in it. 

Becca nodded wordlessly before she decided to offer Avery to watch a movie to kill some time until they had to leave the apartment. 

She rummaged through her movies before picking some chick flick. 

Curling up on the sofa together, Avery's legs draped over Becca's as they enjoyed some coffee and stuffed their faces with biscuits. 

Neither of them really watched the movie. Instead, they enjoyed the silence, each other's company, and the warmth of each other's skin. One thing Avery loved about their friendship- even in deathly silence, they were comfortable around each other. The moments of silence were embraced rather than feared or avoided. 

Both of them lazed around and chatted about some new clubs they wanted to check out while they were on break. Becca planned to spend the first week at home so she could visit family, but they still wanted to do things the second week together, depending on what happened during the first week. Becca's mother got overly excited, and Becca wasn't entirely sure what her mother had planned for the week she would be spending with them, only that she would visit her aunt.

At thirty past twelve, Avery and Becca got up from the couch to walk down the stairs to the student parking lot. Locating Becca's car wasn't hard- it was a tiny red Suzuki Swift. 

They climbed in, and Becca drove out of the parking space as Avery glanced out the window, and once again, the mysterious, handsome creep was nearby. 

Avery kept staring at the man as Becca drove out of the parking lot to head towards the East side of the City, where they would find Morgan's café. 

Shaking her head, Avery glanced at him in the car side mirror to see him walk off. What was up with him, and why was Avery seeing him everywhere? 

Pushing away from the shiver that rushed over her, Avery focused on staring out of her window. The colourful buildings and the streets with masses of people going on about their day put Avery's mind at ease. 

Becca had turned up the radio and was singing to one of those cheesy top-chart songs. Soon enough, Avery found out the song apparently was called Skinny Love and was performed by someone called Birdie. She knew it had to be the same song her best friend claimed to be her favourite, so the fact that Becca knew all the lyrics made Avery smile.

Her thoughts drifted back to the dream she had the night before. There was something familiar about it, but Avery couldn't wrap her mind around it. She just couldn't remember the details of the room. Avery was sure there had to be something about that room that felt familiar, even close to her. As if she had seen it before. 

She was dissociating, wholly immersed in her thoughts, so she hadn't even realised the car had stopped, and they had arrived at the destination. The car was parked out the front of Morgan's café. 

Becca had already hopped out, and the thud of the closing door pulled Avery back to reality and out of her troubled thoughts. 

These things made Avery wonder if her medication wasn't working since her anxiety was at an all-time high, the paranoia kept kicking in, and those damned dreams were getting worse. 

Pursing her lips, annoyed at herself, Avery climbed out of the car. 

There were so many things she couldn't explain, especially regarding everything she felt, but Avery could write it all down to her approaching birthday. Her magic would manifest once Avery turned twenty-one, and maybe that was why she was so far on edge. 

Yet, whatever it was, for whatever reason, those things kept happening- all of it scared Avery. 

Morgan's café was located on the East side of the City, in the artsy district, primarily owned by the witch community. It was an old colonial-style building that had been gutted inside- they removed all walls to create one open space. It had a large wrap-around deck out the front, with tables, chairs, and blue and white umbrellas. 

Avery's parents hadn't arrived yet, so Becca and Avery decided to check out the stalls set up in the alleyway beside the café. The stalls mostly had homemade crafts, jewellery, lotions, and some tiny goods. 

Noticing a stall that sold dream catchers, Avery left the little jewellery stall that Becca was at and walked over to it, observing the dream catchers hanging from the gazebo. 

One, in particular, caught her attention. It was made from black and gold materials; it had silver beads and white feathers hanging from it. 

The dream catcher was beautiful, handmade, and, for some reason, Avery couldn't tear her gaze away from it. Like many things in her life, this tiny object captivated her, nearly calling out to her soul.

Just as Avery reached out to get it down, an elderly woman stepped forward and pulled the dream catcher down from where it hung. 

The older woman, Avery could tell, was blind in one eye- it had turned a milky colour, somehow making the old lady look both captivating and terrifying at the same time. 

The other eye was emerald green, sparkling in the light that filtered through the gazebo, reminding Avery of a precious gemstone. 

The old lady had long, white hair that stopped around the middle of her back, and she wore a floral dress. If not for the apparent ageing signs on her body, Avery could swear the lady reminded her of a fairy- bright, vibrant and captivating, so full of life, she could share it with thousands of other creatures. 

The woman gripped the string in which the beautiful creation hung and nodded for Avery to follow her. 

Avery focused on the woman's hands as she carefully wrapped the dream catcher in a tissue paper before she reached over the desk surface, which was a structure built from boxes, not that Avery would ever point that out, and handed it to her. 

Avery forced her hand into her bag and rummaged through it, frantically looking for her wallet. However, once she finally felt for the wallet and was about to pull it out to pay the elderly woman, her hand landed on top of Avery's and stopped her manic behaviour. 

The woman shook her head at Avery and flashed her an eerie smile as her green eye flashed brighter than it had under the light before. Then, the woman spoke: "I hope this will help you to chase the darkness away," her words were a mere, barely audible whisper, but they still sent shivers down Avery's spine. 

It was as if the woman could stare into Avery's soul and see something no other being ever saw, even Avery herself. Well, at least judging by the look in the woman's eye and the intensity she forced onto Avery. 

Avery was left speechless, stunned, and all she could do was stare back at the kind yet scary face staring back at her. The whole setting, just like the last days in Avery's life, was out-of-this-world weird. Why would someone who reminded the brightest and kindest creature at first glance turn into something utterly terrifying while wishing nothing but the best to a stranger? 

Then, before Avery could regain her senses, the woman just turned around and walked away without doing as much as saying goodbye or waiting for Avery's attempts to thank her for the kind gesture and the lavish gift. 

More than a little creeped out, Avery kept her gaze glued on the woman, wondering what had just happened and how the woman managed to make her feel all those things in a blink. 

As the old woman's back disappeared within the shadows, Avery's hand tingled right where the woman had placed her hand earlier. And now, Avery couldn't eliminate the feeling that she had driven the woman away. Wasn't the lady there to sell the goods?

All of a sudden, Becca appeared next to Avery and nudged her with her elbow, "Everything okay? You look a little pale." As the question and observation left Becca's lips, Avery nodded and turned her attention to her best friend. 

The first thing Becca noticed was the wrapped-up dream catcher in Avery's hand. She arched an eyebrow but didn't question Avery about anything. Instead, Becca handed her the car key so Avery could leave the dream catcher there while they had lunch with Avery's parents. 

Once Avery did that and locked Becca's car, she went to the café and took a seat on the outside patio. She had a particular liking for sitting in the sun, so the location seemed perfect as the rays of the sun perfectly kissed her skin. 

Avery sat at the small table with four equally small chairs around it, making sure she took the perfect place for her parents to notice her and Becca as soon as they arrived. 

Becca took it upon herself to buy their lattes and never complained that she had to carry all four cups to their table. Carefully, she placed the cups in front of Avery and grinned. Then, Becca handed one of the cups to Avery and sat right next to her best friend. 

Both enjoyed the sun and the seemingly perfect weather for an afternoon coffee date with family. Avery and Becca basked in the warm sunlight as they sipped on their drinks and watched the crowds of people pass by them.

Soon enough, Avery's parents finally arrived to join them. They were late, which was an unusual occurrence, but nevertheless, Avery was happy to see her parents.

They took their seats at the table, ordered food for everyone and sipped their drinks while thanking Avery and Becca for their patience and the lattes. 

Avery's mother was a petite woman with green eyes and auburn hair. Her go-to hairstyle had always been a messy bun, and this day was no different. Avery could swear her mother would attend a Gala Ball in a messy bun if she had a chance. 

But her mother was a wonderful woman, regardless of how she did her hair or what clothes she wore. Most of Avery's traits, she was sure, came from her mother; they were far too alike. 

Avery's father was a very tall, slightly tanned man. He had dark, almost black hair and brown eyes. Anyone could call him scary, but once people saw how strong he was- the massive build of his body, they knew there were more reasons to fear him than just the occasional scowl on his face. 

Avery's father towered over her mother and, frankly, over Avery, too, as she was the same height as her mother. But that didn't seem weird anymore. In fact, Avery loved how her parents were: so different yet perfectly fitting pieces of the puzzle. 

Her mother, Ellie, grabbed both of their hands and gazed at the women as lovingly as only a true mother could. She gently squeezed their hands as if she had promised something only she could do. 

It was a simple action, but it still warmed Avery's heart. To feel this loved and have her best friend experience the same love and affection from Avery's mother was a gift from the gods. 

Becca's parents were just as loving as Avery's, so love and affection weren't a problem for both of them; it was just that every time her mother acted like this, Avery felt like all of them were one family. 

"How have you been, Becca? Any plans for the break?" Ellie turned her full attention to Becca, as she always did when addressing someone. In the meantime, she rubbed the back of Avery's hand with her thumb, refusing to lose skin-to-skin contact with her daughter. 

"Couldn't complain, ma. I've been very good, University's killing me, but that's a pretty known problem for all students," Becca giggled, throwing a knowing glance at Avery. The University wasn't the problem for Becca; it was the lack of time when it came to masses of boyfriends. She was enjoying her Uni years as she should, and Avery wouldn't snitch on her friend, especially in front of her mother. 

Becca cleared her throat as her eyes returned to Avery's mother, "I'm going home for the first week. Mum wants me to go with her for a few days to see my aunt and cousins. What about you guys? Have you got anything planned with Avery?" As Becca tossed the questions at Ellie, Avery could see the sparkle of mischief dancing in her eyes. No way was she hoping she'd get to drag Avery along to her aunts' place!

Though Avery knew Becca found it tedious to be trapped out in the middle of nowhere, and her cousins were a little off. 

Avery had to agree- Becca's aunt and her family were odd and preferred to stick to themselves. Becca's grandmother, however, was the loveliest woman ever, and Avery always enjoyed seeing her. 

They'd spend hours talking about nothing and discussing the silliest things. The grandmother always spoke kindly and told Avery never-ending stories from her youth. 

Becca's aunt and uncle weren't even relatively close as friendly as the grandmother. They knew who, or as they'd put it- what Avery was and always made her feel like they disapproved of Becca's choice to befriend Avery. Of course, they had an opinion about how their families shouldn't be as close as they were. 

The wide grin faded from Avery's lips once her eyes travelled to her father, Jon. His eyes cast to Ellie, and they shared that one look Avery knew all too well, the look that meant trouble. Avery's parents had bad news, and they didn't know how to break the news to her. 

Jon glanced at Avery's mother, visibly uncomfortable, and answered the question for her. "Well, that's why we invited you to lunch. I know you were looking forward to coming home for a few days, and trust me, darling, so were we. But unfortunately, your mother has been asked to see the Elders at the main Coven house, so we must change our plans." 

He didn't look at Avery while he spoke. Avery sighed and furrowed her brows in confusion. She didn't know what to say or think- the news wasn't just unexpected; they were disappointing and heavy. 

Besides, the situation, yet again, felt off. Her mother hasn't visited the Elders for a while. No, come to think of it, she hasn't done that in years. 

The Elders didn't reach out unless whatever they needed was extremely important and couldn't be put off. 

Which was another reason for Avery to overthink everything. Why were the Elders seeking out her mother and going as far as demanding her presence? What were her parents hiding? Whatever it was, it made them so darn uncomfortable they couldn't look at their own daughter. 

"Before you say anything, we know you won't go, but we still wanted to see you before we leave and let you know in person. We have to leave tomorrow," Jon quickly added to explain the primary reason for their rushed lunch date. 

Avery sighed in relief. She was glad her parents had no intention to try and talk her into joining them, or even worse, just drag her along. She ran her fingers through her long hair and pushed it over her shoulder. 

The Witch Elders scared Avery. Not only did they always speak in riddles that made no sense, it didn't matter how much Avery tried to understand them, but they also gave off that weird energy that made her feel like she didn't belong there like they didn't want her there. 

The Elders weren't rude to her, but their seemingly polite act didn't make her stay around there pleasant. Avery always felt like they saw her as an issue, one that kept her mother from participating in the Coven. Either way, regardless of the real problem they had with Avery's whole existence, she could tell they were wary of her. 

"It's fine, dad. I have heaps of assignments due by the end of the break anyway," Avery waved them off, hoping her excuse would be enough for her parents and Becca not to invite her to join them. 

Surely, she felt a little disappointed that her parents wouldn't be around, but being alone wasn't something Avery feared, at least not anymore. 

Avery learned how to enjoy her own company, and technically she did have a lot of assignments due before school started again. 

The family spent the rest of their lunch date talking about grades, classes, and discussing life at the University. Avery didn't mention her nightmares to her parents, fearing that her confession might worry them. 

Her parents were incredibly loving and cared for Avery deeper than she could imagine. But under that caring and loving parent shield was more than an eye might see. Avery always had a feeling that her parents were hiding something from her. And these days, especially now, the feeling turned more into an actual fact, especially because of how they acted.

Avery knew from a young age there was something different about her. It wasn't the witch nature that she grew up knowing. She worried her fascination for dark magic and death might have something to do with it. The passion she felt was strange, though, like an unnatural, irresistible pull she had to the elements of darkness despite her having not manifested yet. 

She could recall the time her parents put her on medication when she was ten years old, explaining that Avery suffered from depression and hasn't stopped using those pills ever since. 

The worst part was that those pills interfered with her magic, and Avery despised the side effects. If Avery ever told her parents that she had been living through those vivid nightmares, they'd assume her pills weren't working as they were supposed to, and Avery didn't want to worry them or, God forbid, increase the dose of the medicine. 

The most beautiful aspect Avery found in an independent life was that she had to deal with everything on her own, and that was what she intended to do. 

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