Admittedly, freezing up and staring right back at Hannet was probably not the best thing to do. I don’t know how long I stood there for – probably only a few seconds – before someone grabbed my arm and hauled me out of there.
“Fellixia, are you okay? Did the witch put a spell on you?” the person asked. My adoptive mother, Ceres.
I frowned and looked at her in confusion. “Yes, I’m fine. No to the spell.”
“Well, okay, if you say so,” she sighed in relief. Ceres brushed my long, abundant blond curls behind my ears. “But even so, I’m going to keep a close eye on you for the next little while.”
“Okay,” I said, knowing that nothing would sway her from this. “Can I take a walk, please?”
“Okay, but don’t stay out too late, Fellixia. In fact, come home before curfew.”
“Who knows what that witch is going to do now that she has escaped death? The police surely have her under control, but even so, be safe. I’ll see you at home later.”
“Okay, bye,” I murmured quietly as she walked away with my adoptive father, Corwin, who gave me a curt nod. People were sending looks my way and whispering amongst themselves, and I even thought I saw the judge from the trial staring at me oddly. But I didn’t pay attention. I was extremely confused by my adoptive mother’s behavior. She was a logical, no-nonsense kind of person. I didn’t expect her to believe in this….this madness. Also, she had called me Fellixia. Nobody ever calls me by my real name. It’s always just Felix.
I shrugged and started off in a random direction, desperate to get away from all this, from the condemnation of the innocent. Why hadn’t Hannet’s neck been snapped? Why was she looking at me, of all people? And why was everyone accepting this atrocity without question? It did not make sense.
I must have been thinking and wandering for a long, because when I came back to my senses, the sun was going down. It was at least an hour later, and I had wandered up to the Witch House. I was always amazed that it was still standing after a thousand years. The building looked the same as it always did, large and imposing.
Except for the fact that there were two armed guards standing outside the door.
“Miss, what are you doing here?” one asked me.
“U-um…” I stammered. I’m not the best with people, especially armed ones. “W-well…”
“I’m going to have to ask you to leave immediately,” he said seriously, aiming his gun at my chest.
‘Oh God no…’
“Fred, wait!” the second guard spoke up.
“What is it, Paul?” Fred said exasperatedly.
“Are you stupid or something!? This is the girl that the witch was staring at!”
Fred nearly dropped his gun. “You…you mean…?”
“Yes,” Paul said, nodding gravely.
I looked from Fred to Paul, Paul to Fred, Fred to Paul over and over. “What? What’s going on?”
Fred looked at me with awe and…was that fear? “You better come with us, Miss.”
This cannot be good.
“Where are we going?” I asked for the millionth time in the past five minutes. Screw not being good with people. Fred and Paul were taking me somewhere and not telling me where. After a phone call with someone, they had thrown me in a car and driven off, but not before two more guards (apparently named Joe and Rupert) had taken their place. This was not cool.
“You’ll see when we get there,” Paul replied. Again.
I decided that I wasn’t going to get anywhere, so I shut my trap and waited quietly in the car. After about five more minutes, the car stopped outside a building that made my blood run cold. The police station. Center of investigations. Interrogations. Accusations. And no doubt more things that ended with ‘-ations’. But why had they brought me here? Could it be that…? No, it can’t be. It’s not. There must be some other explanation.
Fred reached into the car and dragged me out forcefully. I bit back the cry of pain that threatened to escape from my lips. They would not see any weakness.
“Hey! Be careful with her!” Paul snapped at Fred, who simply rolled his eyes and continued to drag me along. He barged through the door, handed me to Paul, and then went to go talk with the dude at the desk.
“Paul, let me go,” I asked pleadingly.
Paul frowned. “It’s Officer Paul to you,” he said, sounding confused that I didn’t use that title initially. “And, sorry, but I can’t. You’re needed here.”
I frowned but said nothing. Silence, Ceres always said, spoke louder than words. I hoped she was right, because words were getting me nowhere.
“Come on,” Fred told me, coming back to us, “let’s get you to The Room. Your folks are already waiting there.”
“The…The Room!?” I shrieked. Terror seized me when Fred grabbed my arm again. No. The Room is where they interrogate prisoners and suspects. I was neither. I think.
“Yes, The Room,” Fred snarled. I kicked, screamed, and struggled, but to no avail. I’m not that strong in the first place, and Fred was a grown, armed man who clearly didn’t like me. He dragged me along like I was a sack of marshmallows.
“What’s going on!?” I wailed.
“You’re needed here,” Paul said again. Then he opened a door and Fred tossed me inside. The last thing I heard was the click of a lock.
I was needed here, he had said.
I think I knew the answer, but was too scared to admit it.