I close my textbook when I hear Ms Posibelf call my name. It’s time to present my final project to her and I’m seconds away from just booking it out the door. The only thing stopping me is the fear of losing my reputation as second-best in our year (one of these days I will surpass Pitch) (there’s no way his spell even comes close to exceeding mine). I just have to get through this project.
Yippee. [Insert sarcastic jazz hands here]
Since we’re in our eighth year, we're expected to create our own spell and test it in class. Fortunately, everyone else is busy working out the final kinks in their own projects so if something goes wrong it shouldn’t be glaringly obvious to anyone not paying attention. Unless you were to, like, summon fifty blood-thirsty flibbertigibbets after your spell backfires.
Looking at you, Gareth.
The list is in alphabetical order so my turn comes relatively quickly but luckily for me, I’ve spent months perfecting my spell and I am nearly 70% certain it’ll be mostly fine. Simon will forgive me, surely. Maybe. Some day.
If you’re wondering why Simon would need to forgive me, well. Just keep reading. It’ll be explained shortly.
I take a deep breath and rise out of my seat, smoothing out my skirt before stepping forward. Ms Posibelf raises her eyebrows and smiles slightly when she makes eye contact with me. That’s probably a good sign.
Or a bad one, if the spell backfires. She obviously expects a lot from you.
I don’t have to worry about those thoughts for long because before I know it I’m standing in front of her desk, my notebook clutched in my hands. She nods to me once before looking down at a grading sheet on her desk.
“Ms Bunce. Are you ready to show me your spell?” I take a deep breath.
“I believe so.” She smiles again and I instantly feel a little more calm.
“Very well. Let’s begin, then.” The panic comes rushing back and I take a moment to shove it back down. Panic later, focus on the project now. Presentation is everything here. Ms Posibelf clears her throat lightly and takes a look at the sheet in front of her. “I’m going to start by asking a few questions, then you will demonstrate your spell to me.” I nod, biting the inside of my cheek. That doesn’t seem too bad. I glance around the room and see Basilton watching me with an intense stare. Great. No pressure. Wonderful. When he notices my eyes on him he shifts his expression to look just nearly bored or detached and turns away, saying something to his minions. That’s right. Minions. I have literally heard him call them that. God forbid the great Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch has friends.
I’m pulled out of my thoughts by Ms Posibelf’s voice. “Explain what your spell is designed to hopefully accomplish. Use as many details as possible.” I take another deep breath.
“Well, my spell is called A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes. In short, when someone casts this spell on another magical being, that being will immediately be drawn towards their soulmate in a way sorta similar to the Crucible.” Ms Posibelf raises an eyebrow and looks like she’s going to interrupt but I keep talking. “Or, if you don’t believe in soulmates, it’s the person your consciousness feels most connected to.” She nods once and I sigh with relief. Then she starts asking more questions.
“What happens when they meet?” This is the part I’m worried about. Not it working-- no, I know I’m smart enough to get it right. Hopefully. I’m more worried about her not thinking I can pull it off.
“Well, they are, in essence, pulled into an alternate universe of sorts.” I see a glint of hesitation in her eyes and backtrack quickly. “It’s not real, it won’t affect any other timelines or anything like that.” She seems to relax a bit and I take that as a sign to carry on. “The spell brings them to… Well… Have you ever seen Disney movies?” The corner of her lips twitch upwards.
“Ms Bunce I hope you aren’t insinuating that I am too old to know who Walt Disney is.” My eyes widen and I wave my hands around quickly, shaking my head.
“No, no no no. Nothing like that. I just… Well. The fairytales, the ones with the princes and princesses, the classics. Those are what the spells hook onto, since they deal specifically with love.” She nods again. “So, it will transport the two people into one of those worlds. The only requirement is for both of them to have heard of the tale. Even if it was a different variation of the story, anything will count. So, for example, if one of them saw the Disney movie Tangled and the other’s heard of even just the Brothers Grimm fable then Rapunzel is a possible outcome as to where they will land.” She looks like she’s thinking it over and furrows her eyebrows.
“So, what happens once they enter the story? Won’t they be disoriented, or even defensive?” I nod, already having expected this question. Thank Merlin.
“When they first get pulled into the spell’s hold they will show up in some sort of blank, neutral place. A hologram-type version of myself will explain the situation and tell them that they must stick to the story. Maybe threaten their mortality a bit.” Ms Posibelf breathes out what might be a laugh, but very well could also just be a small sigh. I honestly can’t tell. “So, then, they’ll get transported into a tale they both recognize. From there, they have to make their way through the story as accurately as possible. If they don’t nothing will really happen, but they won’t know that.” She nods again, pursing her lips as she thinks it over.
“Why bother putting them into this fairytale world, when their consciousness is already connected on a deep or personal level?” I snap my fingers, pointing at the ceiling like I was waiting for her to ask that question. Which I was. I’m anything if not always prepared.
“For this reason exactly. Say the two people don’t know each other yet, or worse, hate each other. They won’t think about it like being brought to their one true love, they’ll think it’s some spell gone wrong and carry on with their days as if nothing ever happened once they’re pulled together. With my spell, they’re forced to work together and understand each other on a personal level if they wish to get out of the simulation of sorts.” Ms Posibelf looks like she’s holding back a smile and she leans over her desk slightly, putting her pen down.
“What happens if the story ends and they haven’t accepted their feelings? Do they just leave the tale?” I shake my head, tapping the eraser to my pencil against my lip while I think of how to phrase it.
“Technically, no. They do leave that particular story, but they’re put into another fairy tale similar to that one. So, using my previous example, they could start with Rapunzel-- or Tangled, I guess-- and if by the end of that story they still haven’t reached the requirements for leaving the simulation then they will be ejected into, say, The Little Mermaid. This will continue until both participants understand and accept their hearts’ greatest desires.” I could be wrong, but I think I might actually see a glint of pride in Ms Posibelf’s eyes. She clears her throat again and folds her hands in front of her, resting them on her desk.
“This is very advanced. You’re certain it will work?” I nod emphatically. She raises her eyebrows. “And how will you know that the two are actually in the simulation?” I grin, reaching back to pull the small handheld mirror out of the bottomless pocket I spelled into my skirt. Magical brilliance on my part, I won’t lie. I put one pocket into all of my bottoms when I realized the female uniforms didn’t have any. It’s on the right side, right where you’d find a pocket on a pair of jeans, but it’s invisible to anyone who isn’t looking for it. Flashing the compact mirror, I explain.
“This mirror is spelled to show me everything that happens if I recite the iconic line from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I will get a live video feed of whomever’s name I say after the phrase and I can switch between the two as much as I please. It’s like watching a movie but I control who’s visible on camera at what time. They don’t know I’m watching, though. It would skew the data if they were constantly aware of my possible intrusion.” Okay, now I know there’s at least a little pride there. I beam, stuffing the mirror in my pocket again. She taps her pen against the desk a few times before marking something on her paper.
“How do you know this won’t backfire? Nearly every single spell doesn’t work for this project so students tend to keep them relatively mundane. This could have some serious repercussions should something go wrong.” I nod slowly.
“I’ve thought about that. When I was looking through past spells from this project I noticed the only ones that were successful were the big ones. The smaller spells rarely worked, and if they did they were made by incredibly advanced and powerful magicians.” Ms Posibelf looks on approvingly and puts her pen down again, clapping once.
“Wonderful answer. I think I’m ready to see this spell.” She looks around before frowning. “Wait, how are you going to test it? Do you have someone who’s consented to helping?” I don’t answer, instead turning around to face Simon, who’s resting his chin in his hand on his desk, looking seconds away from falling asleep as he stares at the opposite wall.
“Hey Simon, can you come here?” I call out, stifling a laugh when his hand jerks out from under his head and it falls before popping back up just as fast. He looks around wildly, looking for me, then grins brightly and hops up, bounding over to Ms Posibelf’s desk. I see Baz tracking his movements across the room with an unreadable expression and hold back the urge to roll my eyes. Their petty rivalry was (possibly literally, someday) killing everyone who had to watch. Simon reaches the desk and startles me out of my thoughts. Again.
“Hey Pen!” I smile.
“You’re still up for helping me with my spell, right?” He nods quickly and I internally sigh in relief. None of this would work if he had for some reason changed his mind. I had explained the bare minimum to him (so as not to sabotage the data) so all he knew was that it would take the person and their soulmate to some fairytale story. He thought it sounded like right fun. Not to mention that he was absolutely certain he’d be connected to Agatha. I don’t think so, but I didn’t say so to him because it’s not my business, no matter how terrible they are for each other. I just have to hope some other poor girl is dragged out of her class or something.
“Yep!” He says, bouncing in place, and I grin at his enthusiasm. Ms Posibelf speaks for the first time since Simon came over.
“Let’s start then, shall we?” I nod and adjust my ring slightly, pointing it directly at Simon’s chest. He just beams down at me, his face open and trusting. I try not to wince. It feels wrong to cast an untested spell on him and the fact that he has no doubts is going to make it so much worse if it fails-- No. Don’t think like that. It’ll be fine. I take yet another deep breath.
“A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes!”