2. Difficult Choices
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"It's the full moon tomorrow," Paige said. "But tomorrow's definitely not going to be a good night to be dealing with a haunting."

Marissa agreed, "Which is why we were going to do it tonight! If we miss it we'll have to wait till the next full moon which won't be till the end of November. Then it'll be too cold and there won't be enough leaves on the trees to keep us hidden. If we don't go tonight we may as well give up on it till next spring."

Brooke sighed, "We can't just leave her. I know we've been planning to deal with Island Lake for weeks, but this takes precedence. Some disgruntled ghosts will have to wait."

"Who said anything about leaving her?" the younger blonde asked. "Bring her along! She's one of us now, right?"

"Damnit Marissa!" Kaylee suddenly snapped at the overenthusiastic witch. "Drop it ok? We shouldn't even be having this discussion in front of her! Miss Hawthorne will be here any minute, she'll know what to do. Till then let's just sit tight and try not to upset Cass any worse than she is."

"Agreed," Brooke said. "The conversation is over."

The tall blonde flashed a warning look at the younger girl, and the protest Marissa was about to make was abandoned.

Kaylee looked over at me again and asked softly, "Cass? How're you doing over there?"

The four girls, the four witches, were still sitting together in the middle of the classroom. I'd moved away from them, I was in my regular seat at the very back of the class, in the corner nearest the door. It was my favourite spot, I felt sort of hidden and out of sight without being too far from the exit.

I was sitting sideways in my chair with my backpack on my lap, hugging it against my chest. I had the chair pushed back against the wall so I could lean against it. It was all sort of defensive. I was in a corner, using my backpack as a shield and the wall for support.

After the initial shock had worn off I was left feeling scared and confused, almost overwhelmed trying to get my head around all this stuff.

When I left the library and said bye to Ms. Sutton at half past four I was a normal average nondescript guy. Then I wandered into a girls-only witch meeting and somehow managed to get myself turned into a girl. And a witch, allegedly. Now it was quarter after five, my mom would be expecting me home any minute, only she was expecting the guy who left for school this morning. Not the girl I'd become.

The next problem was clothes. None of them fit, they were all hanging off me now. I had no idea how small I was, but I was more like Marissa's size which was something like a half foot shorter. Then there was school. If I came back on Monday looking like this, nobody would know who I was.

And that wasn't even touching on the whole witchcraft magic supernatural thing.

"Cass?" Kaylee asked again. "Are you ok?"

I shook my head slightly but I didn't trust myself to answer yet.

The cute redhead got up and moved closer, she sat down in the chair next to mine. She leaned closer and whispered, "It's going to be ok. Miss Hawthorne will know what to do."

"Will she..." I still wasn't used to the sound of that voice.

I gulped and found myself staring at the floor as I held my backpack tighter against my chest. "Will she turn me back to normal?"

For some reason the idea of going back to normal left me with a bad feeling in my gut. Like fear, or dread maybe. I didn't understand what it meant, but it was the same sort of feeling I always got whenever our gym teacher told us all to hit the showers. It was a big reason why I spent so much of that class hiding in the library with Ms. Sutton.

"Maybe?" Kaylee replied softly. "I don't really know. Do you want her to turn you back to normal?"

Someone who sounded a lot like me answered, "No."

I felt my cheeks going red and I kept my eyes fixed on a spot on the floor. Why did I just say that? Didn't I want to be normal? Didn't I want to be a guy again? That would solve all all the problems I was worrying about now, right?

"Hey," Kaylee said in that soft caring voice. "It'll be ok Cass. Here."

She was holding something out, but everything just got blurry so I had trouble seeing what it was until I blinked a few times. She was offering me a tissue, and I stared at it in confusion for a second or two before I felt the tears roll down my cheeks.

I reached out to take it and my fingers brushed against hers. I froze for a moment as I stared. My hand seemed so small and delicate compared to what I was used to. It looked a lot like Kaylee's hand. A girl's hand. And her fingers felt so soft and warm and gentle against my own.

She took hold of my hand and just held it for a few moments. She looked at me with a compassionate smile, and gave my hand a gentle squeeze. "You're going to be ok Cass. I promise."

"Thanks Kaylee," I whispered, while my heart did flip-flops and my stomach filled up with dizzy butterflies.

Did she know I had a secret crush on her? She never gave me or any other guy a second look, but now she was sitting next to me, holding my hand, talking to me. She even looked and sounded worried about me.

I finally pulled my hand back and used the tissue to wipe my eyes, though the tears already cleared up while Kaylee and I were holding hands. I wasn't even sure when I started crying in the first place, I hadn't done that in years. That was another thing, like all my emotions were suddenly amplified. Instead of being sort of dull and flat, I was suddenly feeling everything.

Before I got too lost pondering that, a voice near the front of the class got my attention.

"Ahem," Miss Hawthorne stated as she set her purse on her desk. "So we have a bit of a situation here this afternoon."

She was one of my favourite teachers. I didn't know her like I knew Ms. Sutton, but Miss Hawthorne always seemed nice, and she just looked like an interesting person. Plus Creative Writing was one of my favourite classes, for the same reason I liked the library. Like two sides of the same coin, writing stories and reading books went hand in hand as far as I was concerned.

Our English and Creative Writing teacher was a bit of an oddity though. She had to be the youngest high-school teacher ever. She didn't look a day older than twenty-five, though I heard she was closer to twenty-eight or twenty-nine. Not a chance she was more than thirty anyways. Her shoulder-length jet-black hair was always kind of messy and frizzy like it had a mind of its own, her eyes were bright green, and her skin was fair almost to the point of being pale. Her outfit was fairly typical for her, she wore sneakers, leggings, and a big loose top that reminded me of Kaylee's big sweater.

The other three witches all turned their chairs to face forward, while me and Kaylee stayed quiet for now at the back of the class.

Brooke responded to the teacher, "I'm sorry I had to call you at home ma'am. Like I said, we didn't know what to do about her."

Marissa chimed in, "Maybe you could just change her back to normal? Then we can get on with the Island Lake business."

I felt another wave of dread at that suggestion. I glanced from Marissa to the teacher and froze in my seat as I realized Miss Hawthorne was already looking at me. Our eyes met and I had to force myself not to duck down behind my backpack.

She gave me a quick look up and down then asked, "Cass is it? Or is that a nickname, or is it short for something else?"

Once again my mouth was about five seconds ahead of my brain and I heard myself answer before I even realized what I was saying.

"Cassandra." A moment later I gulped and asked, "Um why did you want to know that?"

She gave me a sympathetic smile and replied, "I can't very well call you 'Mr. Underwood' any more. Not when you look like that, hon."

My cheeks turned bright red again, I didn't realize she already figured out who I was. Maybe my backpack gave me away, or maybe because I was sitting in my usual spot.

"In answer to your question Marissa," Miss Hawthorne said as her attention returned to the young blonde, "No. We cannot just 'change her back to normal'. She is a girl, though I suspect she's still coming to terms with that realization. And more importantly, she is a witch. So let's all welcome Cassandra Underwood, because from this point on she is one of us."

Brooke, Paige, and Marissa all turned in their chairs to stare at me again, and I felt myself cringing a little lower in my seat.

"Um ma'am?" I asked as I raised my hand up slightly as if we were in class.

Miss Hawthorne's eyes flicked back to me. "Yes Cassandra?"

As much as I hated to say it, I told her "I can't be a girl. What would I tell my family? And none of my clothes fit me like this. And my other teachers won't recognize me. And all my ID and stuff says I'm a boy."

"Hmm yes," she frowned thoughtfully for a few moments before she seemed to come to a decision.

"Tomorrow night is the full moon, and it's also Samhain. We can take advantage of that and bend reality just enough to make the world believe you've always been this way. That does mean we'll need to keep you away from your family until Sunday morning though. How does that sound, Cassandra?"

I really had no idea. All this was too new, too much. I sat there staring at a spot on the floor again and tried not to let myself feel too overwhelmed.

Kaylee was still sitting next to me and she must have seen how I was starting to freak out again. She reached out and took my hand in hers, then gave it another gentle squeeze.

"It'll be ok Cass," she whispered. "I know this is a lot to take in all at once, but you'll be ok. We'll help as best we can."

With her hand on mine some of the stress and panic faded, and all those dizzy butterflies in my stomach woke up and started fluttering again. I found myself staring at Kaylee for a few moments as she calmed me down in one way, while at the same time got me flustered in a completely different way.

I found myself agreeing with her, and with our teacher. It sounded like they were going to fix things so I could stay like this, and I couldn't deny that the idea made me happy.

Kaylee continued holding my hand for the next five or ten minutes, while a bunch of other stuff was going on around us. Apparently it was decided that the five of us were going to spend the weekend at Miss Hawthorne's place. We'd have all day tomorrow for me to learn more about what happened to me, what their club was all about, and what it meant to be a witch. Then tomorrow night they were going to do magic with me that would fix my ID and sort things out with my family and the school and everything else.

After that was decided, Miss Hawthorne called my mom and said I'd joined a new school club at the last minute and we were spending the weekend working on some extracurricular activities. On the one hand it all sounded perfectly reasonable and my mom apparently accepted the explanation without question. On the other hand I knew on some level it was incredibly strange and unusual and I wondered why my mom wasn't more curious about it.

"Now that's all taken care of," the teacher said as she put her phone back in her purse. "That leaves us with the question of what to do with ourselves tonight?"

Her attention focused on me again and she asked, "Cassandra? I imagine you've probably got countless questions, so perhaps we should head over to my place now. We can sort out some dinner, then you and the rest of the club can get to know each other better. How does that sound?"

I felt my cheeks colouring yet again as all eyes were back on me. I was still hugging my backpack against my chest with one hand, while my other hand remained in Kaylee's tender grasp. Her hand on mine was definitely helping keep me calm, and maybe even gave me a little more bravery than I'd have otherwise had.

"Um," I hesitated as my blush grew brighter, but I forced myself to keep going. "Before anything else, I really need some clothes that fit? Then after that I was thinking... That whole Island Lake thing seemed really important? Maybe we could all go do that?"

There was a moment of silence as they all stared at me in surprise.

Then Marissa let out a whoop and pumped her fist as she exclaimed "Yes! Watch out spirits, here we come!"

This chapter comes courtesy of Meg who commissioned it!
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