“Today's the final day of classes,” Mr. Statusian announced to his students. The cheers were immense. “Settle down, settle down. This may be exciting news to those of you who are continuing their AA-grade studies in the spring, because you deserve a good break. But for those of you receiving your certificate next month, this is the end of your time at St. Helens Academy. Whether you try out for the priesthood, begin an apprenticeship, or simply move on with your life, I hope it’s been a fun journey, and one you can look back at with fond memories when you send your own kids here someday.”
There were murmurs throughout the classroom. A few sniffles.
Mr. Statusian continued. “However, you still have one task ahead of you-- the Winter Ceremonies. We've been practicing this all autumn and now it's time to choose which of you will perform the rituals to protect Knoll Park for the upcoming year.”
Mr. Statusian began listing off the students accepted to perform the ritual. And one thing Beatrice quickly noticed was that all the people listed were long-time students, the ones in the program for seven, eight, nine years, no matter their prestige or their grades. Even Bodhi got a spot, and his grades were... subpar.
Beatrice was ready for her name to be called, regardless.
Still very ready.
Yep, still waiting...
“And then last but not least, Beatrice Ragnell.” He paused for a moment. “If you’ve noticed, that’s every single one of you who has qualified for graduation. If you wish to join, there is a spot for each of you.”
“It’s not really a selection then, is it,” Beatrice whispered in earshot of Bodhi, who was sitting next to her as usual. But he had no snarky remark this time; he didn't seem to have heard her in the first place. The smile he wore on his face was genuine. And it made Beatrice understand, if only just a little bit, what the point was for all this. One powerful parting memory with the academy so maybe you’d be more inclined to go to the church more often in the future.
She was so grumpy her name got called last, though. That had to have been intentional.
Everyone was finally excited about something together, though. That was nice. After all this practicing and studying for something nobody would ever have used... It turned out that they were going to be utilizing their group magic after all, all together.
Beatrice wished she had been a better friend to her classmates. She had pushed them away in favor of learning more intensely, but in the end, they were all in this together, and she was going to have to work with them.
After class, Bodhi lingered longer than usual. Once Beatrice gathered her things and stood up, he spoke. “Hey, uh...” he said, but trailed off from there.
“Good luck on the ceremonies.” Beatrice smiled even through her mild annoyance.
“Yeah, I hope you'll be there,” he said.
“Of course I will, silly.”
“Well... Anyway, maybe you can help me practice a bit.”
“Of course. I'm sure you're already great, though; you don't need to worry.” He wasn’t all that great, but she was sure the practices he would be made to go through would be fairly rigorous.
Bodhi laughed. “No way.”
Mr. Statusian shouted, “Everyone has ten minutes to exit the building. My apologies.”
“Well, I’ll try and help you when I can. You know where to find me.”
Bodhi was nice. He was probably going to be a great shoe cobbler someday. She wondered if they’d be able to stay friends even after graduation, or if they had too little in common, in the end.
She wanted to help him, because he deserved it for being there for her even when other classmates were jerks. Or even when she was a jerk.
“Hey, Bodhi,” she said.
“You’re a good friend.”
If Emi wasn’t going to be around, Beatrice wasn’t going to let her mood sink. She had ambitions. She had friends. And now she had a new extracurricular activity to occupy her for the rest of the month. She had everything she needed here already. If she did see Emi again, then that would be great, but she wasn’t going to let herself get down. Beatrice had a ceremony to prepare for.
Suddenly she didn’t feel quite so bad anymore.