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Raven ran home from school that day with the fundraising paper in her hands. She burst through the front door, threw her backpack down onto the carpet, and approached her father. He was sitting in his armchair as usual, reading the day's paper. He turned down the page to see his beautiful daughter, slightly flustered from the run, with her hands behind her back and a blank expression on her face.
"Yes, Raven?" he inquired.
"Oh, hello Father," she said, thinking of how to word what she was about to say next. "My friend invited me- er… I mean I got invited to go on a field trip to the Observatory in a few weeks."
"Um, and I'd like to go, please," she replied.
"Ask your mother," replied Trigon, returning to his newspaper. Raven rolled her eyes and trudged over to their home office, where he mother was typing things meaningless to the young girl.
"Mother?" she asked politely.
"Yes, my child?" Arella stopped typing and turned her chair to face her daughter.
"May I please go to the observatory on a field trip in a few weeks?" Raven handed over the fundraising packet.
"Of course you can," replied Arella, flipping through the pages. "Now where on this thing do I sign for your permission slip?"
"Oh, that's just the fundraising packet," replied Raven.
"Where's the permission slip?"
"Oh, I didn't get one," she said. Her mother frowned. "B-but I'm sure I'll get one tomorrow."
"Alright then," said Arella. "Here you go." She handed Raven the packet back.
"Oh, wait," Raven said, giving it back. "Can you bring it to work? I have to sell these to fundraise." Arella looked at the packet. There was an order form with addresses and an envelope, clearly marked "Cash Only Please".
"Well, I'll bring it tomorrow and see if anyone's interested. How many do you have to sell?"
Raven didn't know that either.
"Oh, wait," said Arella, reading something on the third page. "You'll have to sell ten to cover your costs, and any extra that you sell benefits the observatory. Well, that's nice…"
"Oh, ok thank you Mother," said Raven, leaving. She ran back out into the hall, grabbed her backpack, and ran up to her room. She pulled out Malchior's favorite book and started reading.
Over a week had gone by, and it was Friday again. Raven had gone to the younger kids' blacktop during recess and helped Malchior be a games-leader. She really just stood and watched him lead, but while the games were going well, they'd have conversations. During lunch, Raven sat with Kory, Rich, Gar, Terra, and occasionally Jason still, but ate fast and ran to the library before anyone else was done. The others noticed more and more as the days and recesses passed, and Kory decided to find out why. She decided to bring it up during Mr. Mod's math time.
"Raven?" she asked.
"What?" Raven looked up from her math problems innocently.
"Um, could you please help me with number four?"
"Oh," said Raven. "Sure. Negative three." She turned back to the other questions, working quickly through her problems so she could go back to reading Malchior's book.
"But Raven," asked Kory again. "I do not know how to get this answer. Please, explain it to me. I'm sure it will only be a few moments." Raven put her pencil down and started explaining how to arrive at the correct answer.
"…and so that's why it's still a negative num-" Raven stopped shortly as she got a better look at what she was explaining. "Um, Kory?"
"Yes, Raven?" she said, batting her eyelashes.
"You've already done this problem. I see it right here at the edge of your paper." Kory peeked over at what Raven was pointing at and grinned wide.
"Oh, yes, it would appear I have," she said. "Oh well, thank you for your help anyways!" Raven looked at her queerly. She could tell her closest friend wanted to ask about something else.
"Kory," she said. "What ELSE did you want to ask me?" Kory's bashful grin turned into a hopeful smile.
"Oh!" she said. "Well, I have been wondering where you have been leaving to during recess and lunch lately. I feel like I have not seen you in a long time!"
"Kory, you see me every day during class," said Raven.
"Raven, you did not answer my question."
"Fine," said Raven. "I have a new friend. I hang out with him during both recess and lunch recess. Happy?"
"OH A BOY!" shouted Kory, grabbing Gar's attention. He pointed an ear towards their conversation, as he was just as curious about Raven's whereabouts as Kory was, though he had a hunch.
"Kory, shush!" said Raven quietly.
"I am happy for you! You have a boyfriend, this is wonderful!" Kory said happily.
"He's not my boyfriend," said Raven, blushing at the idea. "He is just my friend. We have a lot in common." She tried turning back to her work but Kory pressed on.
"Oh, but I am sure you do like him as more than a friend," she said. "You spend all of your time with him!"
"Kory, enough," said Raven. "I won't answer anymore questions." And that was that.
Gar, having heard the entire conversation, decided it was time for answers. He wasn't sure why, but he felt like he needed to know more. Terra walked by and his thoughts of Raven were suspended for the moment. He skipped over to her and struck up a conversation.
"So, Terra," he began. "What are your plans this weekend?"
"Um, I don't really have plans, I guess."
"Oh, that's cool," he said out of habit. She looked at him with a confused and slightly hurt look on her face, and he immediately snapped back into his senses. "Oh, wait, I meant to say 'me too'. Heh." He scratched the back of his head nervously.
"Oh," she said. "Well then, I guess 'that's cool' too." She smiled at him.
"You know," he began. "That canyon in your backyard is pretty big. We should go exploring it tomorrow!" She looked at him with wide eyes.
"How did you know I have a canyon in my backyard?" she asked harshly.
"Oh!" he said, realizing he'd forgotten that he found her house on his own, without being told by Terra herself. "Um, what I meant to say was that I can see your backyard from the canyon!" Her eyes grew even wider.
"Well, if you've really seen my house then you'd probably hardly consider that patch of dirt a yard!" she walked across the classroom to the class library, which was just an enclosed bookshelf corner.
"Terra wait!" he said, following her. "I didn't mean it like that. You know I didn't." She looked like she was about to cry.
"How do you know where I live, Gar?" she asked.
"I um, went exploring around the canyon and I saw you, I swear that's all," he said.
"Alright. Just promise me you won't tell anyone," she pleaded.
"I won't Terra."
"Promise me!" she demanded.
"I promise. Your secret is safe with me."
Today's PE lesson was a jogging circuit: perfect. While the other children walked or jogged around the field, under the "supervision" of Mr. Brown (currently reading his monthly Sports Illustrated magazine, listening to music, and not really paying attention to the kids), Raven decided to tip-toe away from the exercise. She jogged (ironically) to Malchior's corridor and saw him at his class. She did not, however, notice Gar following her. Terra wasn't at PE today for some reason, and when he noticed Raven leaving the field, he had no reason to leave her be. He followed closely, but silently. Malchior smiled, surprised to see her as she arrived.
"Hello, Raven," he said. "What brings you here today?"
"Same thing as always," she replied.
"Me?" he suggested playfully. She nodded in agreement. He laughed.
"Oh Raven," he said. "Do you have the money for the observatory? It's only a week away!"
"Yeah, I do," she said. "It's in my backpack. I'm really excited to go!"
"I am excited for you to go too!" he said, smiling.
"So, what did Headmistress say?" she asked.
"About what?" he asked.
"About me going with you guys. I can still go right?"
"Oh," he said. "Yes, of course! And you have the order form too?"
"Yep," she replied, forgetting to remind him about a permission slip.
"Cool, I'll get that from you after school then?"
"Yeah," she said. "You'll finally see my class…"
"Oh," he said. "Right… well class is about to end, did you want me to meet you there?"
"Yeah, good idea," said Raven. "I'd better get back before Mr. Brown notices I'm not jogging with the group still. Bye! I'll see you after class!"
"Sure thing, Raven."
She jogged back to the field as the kids were filing through its gate. She jumped into line unnoticed. Gar, who had listened in to her and Malchior's conversation and followed her back, jumped back into line, unnoticed as well. He thought about the things he'd heard today. Apparently, Raven had been seeing this boy more than twice a day, for several days. He said he's taking her on a field trip, that she's paying him to go to, and he doesn't seem all that enthused. The gears in Gar's head were turning, and he felt like he was on the verge of a conclusion.
"Oh well," he thought to himself. "It's probably nothing!"
The bell rang, and Raven saw Malchior walk over to her classroom just as she stepped out.
"Hey Raven," he said.
"Hi Malchior," she replied. Just as she spoke, Kory and Rich ran up to them.
"HELLO!" shouted Kory, thoroughly excited. "I have heard much about you, Raven's friend Malchior! You read many books, work in the library, play with young children at recess, and are taking Raven and her money to the observatory on a field trip!"
Raven looked at her with an annoyed expression. "How do you know all of this Kory?"
"Oh," said Kory. "Gar has informed us all about what he has learned-" Rich covered Kory's mouth with his hands.
"Okay…" he said, embarrassed for both himself and his best friend. "That's enough Kory!" Gar strolled by, on his way home.
"And how would Gar know about everything that's been going on?" she demanded.
"Heh," he stammered. "Just think of me as a… fly on your wall…"
"Funny," she said angrily. "You look to me more like a rat!"
"Now, Raven," said Malchior. "It's alright. I've got to go home, but you have the money, yes?"
"Yeah, of course," she said, taking it out of her bag. She handed the bills and the form over to the white-haired boy and waved goodbye. Rich and Kory walked off too.
"Um, Raven," said Gar. "You're just giving him the money? Don't you have to, like, give it to a teacher or something?"
"Of course not," said Raven. "The people in Malchior's class are smart…mature! They can handle this stuff on their own!"
"Okay…" said Gar, uneasy. "When is this field trip anyways?"
"It's next week."
"What day though?"
"Oh," said Raven. "Well, I'm not really sure actually."
"That sounds promising…" said Gar, rolling his eyes. "Raven, are you sure about this?"
"Leave me alone Gar," she said, storming off. "Malchior is nice to me, and I'd like to keep it that way!" She stomped away, leaving Gar utterly confused.
"What does that even mean!?" he shouted.
"So, Terra," said Mr. Wilson. "You are fairly new here at school. I'm glad you've elected to meet with me these few times a week to help you feel better about your move from Markovia." She nodded.
"I know what you were when you left there," he continued. "And I want to make sure you are comfortable here at Jump West Elementary. Are you?"
"Yes, sir," she replied. "I am."
"How about life at home? Is it suiting you as well as your former living conditions?"
"It suits me… well, I guess," she replied sheepishly.
"Well, then," said Mr. Wilson. "I guess we're done here for today. I'll see you next week." He wrote a few notes down, and the little blonde girl got up.
"Oh, and Terra," he said. She turned around. "If you ever need anything, you know where to come."
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