NINETEEN

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Of course, I should have known. She was a miniature of Francesca, except that her hair was tied in a ponytail instead of a bun and she was wearing a leather jacket instead of a corporate suit.

"Let's all go get settled down", said grandpa Blake and all our visitors moved out of the room. Well, all except Denise, she still hasn't moved a muscle from where she stood.

"Hi Denise, I'm Troy Sanders", I said, offering her an handshake and a friendly smile.

"So you're the Troy Sanders", she replied, giving me a once over glance like I was a piece of art and she was my critic. It was a simple action really but I couldn't help but feel self-conscious with it directed at me like that.

"I don't know if I'm the one but I'm definitely Troy Sanders", I said, trying hard to keep my composure but failing miserably by the looks of it- Keep it together Troy, she's just a girl.

"My mother used to talk about you a lot", she said in tone that didn't suggest whether that was a good or bad thing. I noticed that her look hadn't wavered for even a minute second, it was like she was looking for something in my body and the latter was hellbent on keeping that thing hidden.

"I'm so sorry about your mother", I said, putting all of my condolences into that statement, "If we had known you were coming, we would have delayed the burial but in our defense, we didn't know which school to send the message to".

"What school are you talking about?", she asked with a lot of confusion etched on her face, "It's the middle of summer".

Now, it was my turn to get confused. "I thought...".

"That I was a witch", she completed with a really loud laughter, "No Troy, I'm not".

"You're not?", I asked again. I know I must sound pretty stupid to ask a question I already had the answer to but I can't quite believe my ears, the daughter of Francesca Firewalt, head of the White Witches Council, is a normal.

"I already said I'm not, didn't I?", she replied with 'Duh!' expression on her face and looking at me like I have the brain of a plankton.

"But that would mean...".

"That my Dad isn't a wizard either", she completed again, "I know how magic genetics work too". I stared at her for a while, not really knowing what to say, the fact that someone as passionately inclined to magic as Francesca would choose to marry a normal still swirling in my head. Oliver did the same too, remember, my mind told me and I immediately told it to zip it, the one on the stand here is Francesca and not my father.

"Umm, you have anything else you wanna ask?", shouted Denise right into my ears, the look she gave me more than told me that she had been trying frantically to get my attention for a while.

"He gets like that sometimes, don't mind him", said Victoria as she walked up next to me and offered Denise an handshake, I had completely forgotten we had company, "I'm Victoria and this quiet guy is Stan, Troy's half-brother".

I saw Denise lighten up a little as she looked at Stan and even gave him a heartfelt teeth smile as she offered him an handshake- She didn't give me any of those. Well, maybe they'll become friends and Stan will finally get off my case.

"I don't do handshakes", replied Stan as rudely as he can be- Which is a lot, believe me- and went out of the room, almost shoving Denise out of the way if not that the girl was a lot faster than he was. Forget everything I said about being friends, they'll be more compatible as enemies.

I was about to offer her a sincere apology for Stan's behavior when I heard a commotion coming from the front door- Oh God! Please, don't let it be that my half-brother had gone to do something as stupid as causing trouble?

"I told you I have an invitation!", I heard a man shout as we rushed to see what the fuss was all about. Thankfully, it has nothing to do with Stan but the situation still seems grave all the same.

We got to the front door to see a man, three actually, surrounded by about eight men, part of the reinforcement team, with their swords drawn- This does not look good, especially for the poor man.

I noticed that the men were actually putting on black cloaks and my heart skipped a beat but I relaxed as soon as I saw that theirs had a red Hydra drawn on it. Besides, I don't think Trichloris really has the patience to talk about an invitation.

"What are you doing here?", I heard Oliver ask out of nowhere, I turned to see that he had entered from the direction of the study and he was trailed by two men whose looks were as bad as the one he was shooting the man- Things still not looking good here.

"Ollie, I was invited", replied the man.

"Don't ever call me Ollie in your life, David!", shouted Oliver and I saw what almost looked like murder in his eyes but it was gone in a flash and I couldn't be sure if I had actually seen it or imagined it.

"You're not one to forgive, are you?", asked the man with a huge smile spread across his face as he pulled off his hood and I saw a really handsome, chiseled, not-so-old face with raven black hair appear. The other two men pulled off their hoods too and I saw that one of them was actually Yvette Quentin, Stan's dark witch friend. Wait a frigging minute, if Yvette came along with this man, that would mean...

"I said, what the hell are you doing here, Blackhead?", asked Oliver, completing my thought for me- That seems to be order of the day, huh?

"I invited him", replied grandpa Blake before David Blackhead had the chance to answer.

"Why father?", asked Oliver, turning angrily towards grandpa Blake. I have never seen Oliver so angry before, except perhaps the time when he knew that Yvette was a dark witch attending Blackhead- Speaking of which, what the hell is between Oliver and this Blackhead guy? There seem to be no love lost between them.

"Because he's the most powerful dark wizard I know", he replied, "Admit it or not Oliver, this war is beyond white magic alone and if we're ever going to dream about winning it, we need a person of David Blackhead's calibre". Grandpa Blake didn't raise his voice once but there was an air of finality in what he had said that no one had the guts to argue it, not even Oliver.

"What do you know about this Blackhead guy?", I whispered to Vic.

"Nothing", she replied, "My father and I had never gotten past the name 'David Blackhead' before". I have a feeling that whatever resentment every white wizard feels towards dark wizards was because of Mr. Blackhead here but the million-dollar question is why?

The hall had begun to murmur again but grandpa Blake silenced them with a wave of a hand, this is his territory.

"I think it's about time we all retired", he said, "Tonight we rest, tomorrow we work".

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