DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH

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The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 16.

“Oh, Elias. This is exactly who I am.”

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Eli doesn’t flinch at the voice, doesn’t drop the bag, doesn’t try to hide. Instead, he very calmly turns around. His heart is absolutely racing and a cold sweat has burst out along his brow and shoulders, but he tries not to let either show. Instead, he turns and says:

“What I have to.”

Zoe is standing in the doorway to the locker room. She’s wearing gym shorts and a Evangelion t-shirt so old it’s gone from black to grey. She’s sweaty and breathing heavily, her hair pulled into a messy braid over her shoulder. She looks pissed, but exhausted, too. Worn and faded like her t-shirt.

“Have to what?” she sneers, vicious and angry. “Go through my bag?”

“Yeah,” says Eli. “I’m sorry, Zee, but—”

“Did Morgan put you up to this?” Zoe walks into the room proper. Her strides are heavy and purposeful, and Eli can feel the sick tendrils of magic as they ooze from the rísók and try and lure Zoe forward. “Where is she?” Zoe is saying. “Where’s that skanky little bitch hiding?” Her eyes roll in their sockets, white-ringed and feral.

“Zoe,” Eli says, trying to keep his voice calm, professional. Like the voice Dad used to use on the phone with panicked clients. “Zoe, listen to me. You’re under a spell. Someone’s ensorcelled you.”

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2019-03-15T17:39:33+11:0015th March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 15.

“Ugh! I don’t believe you, Drake!”

“I want you to call,” she says, hands on his shoulders, eyes staring earnestly into his. “Every hour, okay? If you don’t call, I’m going to, to—” Her voice chokes.

“It’s okay, Aunt Addi,” Eli says. “I’ll call.”

“No texting,” Addi adds. “I want to hear your voice.” Eli nods, so she adds: “And I’ve got an appointment for you with Doctor Mallory, tomorrow at 3pm. It’s . . . it’s the earliest I could get. I’m sorry. Do you need me to come home and take you?”

“No, it’s okay. I’ll be fine, Aunt Addi. I promise.”

Addi stares at him a moment longer, searching for some sign of . . . something. Eli isn’t sure. He doesn’t even know if she’s found it or not when, a moment later, she pulls him tight against her. “Oh, sweetheart,” she says. “I’m sorry. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not here. Not in Rosemont.”

“It’s okay,” Eli says, because he isn’t sure how else to respond. “I’ll be okay.”

Eli thinks about whether that’s a lie or not as he listens to Aunt Addi leave for work. His fingers dance idly across his Launchpad, beats and samples of something not-yet-formed falling against each other in a jagged, unharmonious throb.

Mo “Sir Percival” Dhillon is dead. Eli didn’t even know the guy’s full name until he heard it yesterday at the station, yet the guy died because of Eli. Maybe not directly, but . . .

“I could’ve saved him,” Eli tells his laptop. If he hadn’t been so afraid of transforming in front of Arthur.

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2019-03-12T18:11:55+11:0012th March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 14.

“Are you saying I should breathe fire all over Zoe?”

Aunt Addi is gonna be pissed about Eli skipping class, but he figures she can deal. This is an emergency.

It’s an emergency that sees Eli ringing the buzzer of the mansion atop Rosemont Heights, hoping desperately Widow Adeline doesn’t have bridge club or Power Yoga or whatever else it is old women get up to during the day.

He gets buzzed in, which is a good sign, and Adeline greets him at the top of the driveway. She’s wearing knee-length yoga pants and some sort of crop-top/loose-shrug ensemble that really shouldn’t look so good on someone so old.

Widow Adeline, as it turns out, is kinda ripped.

Eli is sweaty and panting from running all the way from the school, but Adeline looks about the same. “By the stars, boy,” she says. “Whatever’s the matter?”

“I think my friend’s been possessed,” Eli blurts, because it’s the nearest explanation he has for the oil-smoke and malevolent presence he’d felt on Zoe.

Widow Adeline regards him for a moment, head tilted. Her hands and feet are taped up and she has sweat stains on her top, and Eli suddenly wonders if he’s interrupted kickboxing practice. Is the old lady at the top of Rosemont Heights secretly some kind of martial arts master as well?

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2019-03-08T17:46:29+11:008th March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 13.

“No knights today, King Arthur?”

The next day is awful.

The first thing Eli sees when he walks into Rosemont High is Yvonne Lacroix. She’s standing there with her two lackeys, Fargo and Brooklyn, and for one, heart-stopping moment all Eli can think is:

Morgan told!

Which is irrational, of course. Even if Morgan had told her mom she’d spent yesterday evening in the forest with a dragon, why would Lacroix think that dragon was Eli, of all people? Unless Lacroix has some kind of magic dragon-sniffing mojo but . . . but surely Widow Adeline would’ve mentioned something like that, right? For being pretty, yanno. Life-or-death and whatever? Eli would totally text her to ask except Widow Adeline is like a thousand years old and still has a phone with a cord and a dial on the front. And not even in an ironic way.

Yvonne Lacroix, as it turns out, does not appear to have magic dragon-sniffing mojo. She does, however, give Eli a very tight smile when she sees him, accompanied by a slight incline of her head.

“Mister Drake,” she says. “My daughter, Morgan, explained our little . . . misunderstanding. I must extend my apologies, for everything that’s been done to you. Rest assured, such injustices will not happen again.”

“Um,” says Eli. “Yeah. Sure. Don’t worry about it.” He edges away from Lacroix and around the corridor before he lets himself slump down hard against a bank of lockers, hand coming up to grasp around the dragon-scale pendant, hidden safely beneath his hoodie. He knows, down in the depths of his flaming nebula dragon-heart, that he absolutely cannot allow Lacroix to see the pendant. Or know where Eli got it from.

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2019-03-05T17:35:31+11:005th March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 12.

“Íl’iàn. That’s such a pretty name.”

Eli keeps expecting someone to haul his ass up over the Bathroom Incident, but no one does. People avoid him in the hallways, though. Where before he was invisible, now he’s feared. It’s not a feeling he’s unused to, exactly, and it’s definitely not a feeling he enjoys. Like hanging out with a whole school filled with the old women in fur coats who won’t sit next to him on the subway.

The rest of the day passes in a sort of flat daze. Eli keeps jumping between buzzing numbness and cold, sharp rage. He isn’t sure who he’s more angry with: Morgan, for ruining everything, or Zoe for sending Eli away. After he’d saved her. After she’d, what? Tried to bewitch him?

He wants to tell himself the magic would never have worked, but Zoe’s own words keep coming back to him: the only way to activate a mundane item is to use something that’s in itself magical. Like the hair of a dragon, for example. Eli keeps running his hand through his curls, trying to find the chunk that’s missing. He thinks maybe there’s a piece low near the back but he can’t be sure; if it was cut, it’s mostly grown back by now. Which means Zoe must haven taken it ages ago, maybe right when Eli first came to the school.

Goddamnit, Zoe.

Addi is out again when Eli gets home which, honestly, he’s fine with. He has a mountain of homework built up that he’d been too busy playing draconic Scooby Doo to work on, so he attacks the pile now with vicious enthusiasm. He puts on dubstep loud enough to shake the walls, and tears through algebra problems like the rotting flesh of a peryton.

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2019-03-01T16:15:13+11:001st March, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 11.

“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

Very little happens for the rest of the weekend. Eli goes back to see Widow Adeline on Sunday morning, where he’s promptly made to prune a huge hedge made of roses. It leaves him scratched and bleeding and irritated, although the wounds heal up as soon as he assumes his dragon-shape in Adeline’s grotto. It feels good to be out of his human skin, and the sun is shining for the first time in like forever, so Eli lazes around on the warm rocks while Adeline tries to teach him Xyl’tha, the language of dragons.

Eli never did have much of a way with languages, and the dragons’ in particular is . . . odd. It’s all back-of-the-throat hissing and tongue-clicks. Nothing with the lips, which Eli supposes makes sense, given he doesn’t really have any in this shape.

The writing system is more interesting, in his opinion. It looks a little like the cuneiform he’s seen on little clay tablets in the Met; all carved lines and angles. And it’s sort of like Chinese, in that it’s made of little symbols, not letters. Except the symbols are syllables, not pictures, and are made up of a part that represents a vowel and a consonant. So what looks like a complex language of thousands of characters is actually only made up of a few dozen different lines. It’s pretty cool, and Eli is writing in it in no time: transcribing English as best he can onto a whiteboard with a chunky marker that sits in his claw like one of Zoe’s ridiculously tiny Asian ballpoints.

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2019-02-26T17:41:54+11:0026th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 10.

“You’re a minor and your dad’s loaded. You’d be surprised how much that gets you.”

They aren’t followed. Eli doesn’t think too hard on why, just hurtles with Zoe as fast as they can down the mountain.

It doesn’t last long. Zoe is good at many things, but running isn’t one of them. Eli pulls her along but eventually she topples to her knees in the dirt, leant forward and gasping. “I— I can’t—” she keeps starting, but she’s breathing too hard to finish. Eli just helps her to sit down on a nearby rock and strains his ears to listen for pursuit. Either there isn’t any, or Brooklyn and Fargo are much stealthier than they look. Eli’s betting it’s the former.

“It’s okay,” he says. “We’re okay. We can stop here.”

It takes Zoe a really long time to start breathing normally again. Eli thinks she might actually be having some sort of attack, her breath is coming so hard and raspy, her skin like dragonfire beneath his hands. He has nothing to help her through it, so instead he just sits, and tries to say soothing things. If anyone comes across them, Eli will just yell at them until they go get medical help. He figures no ones going to be too suspicious of a girl who’s struggling for air.

It takes a long time, but eventually Zoe’s breath returns to something like normal. Which is about when she starts sobbing in huge, big, noisy gulps. Eli lets her cry it out against his chest, his arms around her shoulders while her little feather earring tickles his throat. He feels strangely numb, considering everything that’s just happened. Like he’s accidentally poured all his panic and fear into Zoe, maybe, and now she’s experiencing it for the both of them.

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2019-02-22T07:07:35+11:0022nd February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 9.

“Stars of the sky and spirits of the land, we call upon your aid.”

It’s nearly eleven by the time Eli gets to Zoe’s place, mostly care of him taking a good twenty minutes trying to figure out how to change back into a human. When he finally gets it, he’s surprised how . . . wrong the shape feels; too small and too fragile and too smooth. Widow Adeline just laughs at his discomfort, feeds him another plate of bacon and sausages, and sends him on his way.

Eli’s head is in such a spin by the time he’s standing at Zoe’s front door that he’s almost forgotten why he’s supposed to be here. His eyes keep drifting to the sky, at the blue peeking between silver clouds. He could be up there, right now. Just him and the wind. It’s a strange thought; makes him feel restless and uneasy.

The Chungs are not early risers, so Eli gets offered breakfast for the third time. Mr. Chung is making crepes, stuffed with mascarpone and berry compote and smothered with maple syrup. Eli loves Mr. Chung’s crepes, except today something about the smell of the syrup and berries makes his stomach turn. He tries one anyway, minus the syrup; the crepe is like eating paper and the berries are so sweet it makes his teeth hurt. The mascarpone tastes okay, so he eats as much as he can, then pushes away the rest with a muttered apology about having already eaten.

“Your loss!” Zoe announces, and promptly devours everything he didn’t.

Today, Zoe is in her Supernatural outfit; a cute black dress and little blue tie underneath a long tan duster. Her earrings are two little black feathers, which Eli finds somewhat ironic when he pulls the tattered peryton feather from his satchel.

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2019-02-19T17:41:58+11:0019th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 8.

“Concentrate on yourself; how you are, how you should be.”

The next morning, when Eli arrives at the mansion at the top of Rosemont Heights, Widow Adeline is waiting for him with a lawnmower.

“You’re late,” she says, peering down at an diamond-encrusted gold pocket watch.

Eli looks at his own watch. “I’m two minutes early!” 6:58am on a Saturday. Eli hadn’t even know this time existed.

“By my watch, you are late.”

Eli splutters at the indignity. His watch gets time from his phone, which in turn gets time from wherever it is that phones get the time from. Point being, a place more accurate than Widow Adeline’s fingers can wind. Before he can figure out how to explain this, Adeline waves towards the lawnmower.

“Well,” she says. “Get on with it. The grass will not cut itself.”

Eli looks between Widow Adeline and the lawnmower. The thing must be older than he is, lurking, rust-covered and vicious, in the grass. “I thought you were going to teach me to be a dragon!” It sounds kind of stupid, now that he says it out loud.

It also earns him a scowl and a tsch sort of noise. “Discretion, boy,” Adeline scolds. “But, yes. That was the arrangement. This is your first lesson.”

“To cut grass?”

“Yes.”

“Which is teaching me what?”

“Well,” is the answer, smirk curling blood-red lips. “You’ll have the entire time you’re doing it to work that out.”

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2019-02-15T16:53:51+11:0015th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 7.

“What you have just experienced is a Hatching.”

When Eli next wakes, he’s in bed he doesn’t know, in a room he’s never seen.

He’s also naked. And there’s a cat, sitting on the pillow next to his head.

The cat is not pleased when Eli bolts upright in a sudden rush of panic. Things come back to him in flashes; his flight through the woods, his transformation, his fight with the peryton. Widow Adeline.

Eli has never been inside Widow Adeline’s house, but the decor around him certainly screams “elderly woman.” The bed he’s in has four huge, carved wooden posts, and the duvet is both overly plump and makes a slightly crunchy plastic sound when he moves. The room looks like a guest room, with heavy velvet drapes and shelves of leather-bound books and odd curios. The only light comes from an ornate brass fitting on the wall; the sort with cherubs that looks like it was retrofitted from gas to electricity.

The sheets, Eli notes, are covered in blood.

It’s not his blood—a quick once-over reveals no injuries worse than bruises—but he is absolutely covered in it, and the sight makes his lip curl in disgust.

No one else is in the room, just Eli and the cat, so he gets out of the blood-stained bed.

His satchel is sitting on a chair nearby, a little folded card perched on top. The inside of the card is full of the sort of old-timey looping handwriting that Eli has to squint at to decipher. It says:

Don’t fuss about the sheets. Take a shower. There’s a robe if you need it. I will be downstairs waiting. — Ms. A.

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2019-02-12T17:30:15+11:0012th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|