When Adam Stephens was eighteen years old, it became official...
That was how Adam felt as he looked down at the shimmering gold card in his hand. He was vaguely away of his heart pounding in his chest, and he knew that his mother and grandfather were chatting nearby- but for a long moment, the world around him seemed to fade away.
As much as he wanted to, he could not tear his eyes away from the small object in his hand.
Right now, that was all that seemed to matter.
Adam Stephens. Warlock.
That was it. Two short lines embossed on a rectangular card. It really shouldn't have been all that important...but he knew it was. Now that it was official, Adam could not suppress the foreboding feeling that life would never be the same again. Reality was already harder to deny.
If he was being honest with himself, he had known that this day was inevitable. When Tabitha had turned eighteen, their grandmother had whisked her away to be tested by the witches' council, and she had returned home with a grin on her face and the same sort of gold card in her hand. It was a well-established tradition. All witches and warlocks were tested when they reached adulthood, and (although it all seemed like a mundane echo of mortal bureaucracy) they were given a card that declared their official status and level of power.
When Samantha Stephens had said that she was a "real, live, card carrying witch," she had meant it. Literally. And now her son could say the same.
Adam wasn't too sure what the point was. Most people knew if they were magical or not by that age anyway, and measuring power levels seemed dangerously petty. But that was how it was done, and he knew that it wasn't about to change anytime soon.
Despite Tabitha's experience (and the fact that she had been declared a rather impressive 9.6984373), Adam had tried to convince himself that he would never be forced to take the test. Sure, his mother was a witch, and he was prone to accidental displays of power—but he had never embraced magic and rarely practiced the craft.
Unfortunately, that didn't seem to matter.
No matter how hard he tried to hide it, he knew that he had always been a warlock and there was nothing he could do to change that. But that didn't mean that he was pleased about the situation.
Needless to say, his heart had sunk when he heard his parents and grandfather fighting in the kitchen that morning. He had been hiding in his room, hoping beyond hope that his eighteenth birthday would pass without incident—but as soon as he had heard his grandfather's voice proclaim that his grandson was "most certainly a warlock" he had known that it was the beginning of the end. With a dejected sigh, he had decided not to fight it anymore and had gone down to the kitchen to join the fray.
After a bit more bickering among the adults, he had agreed to take the test. Acceptance hadn't been quite as bad as he had expected, but he knew it would be a long time before he would be able to get his father's pained expression out of his mind. Even after all these years, he had never spoken to his dad about magic and he had never dared to perform a spell in front of him. The charade had been easier. They both wanted it.
They both wanted him to be normal.
But Adam knew that the time for games had ended he second he had used magic in front of his father to follow his mother and grandfather to the other realm for his test. Denial simply wasn't going to cut it anymore.
There was no turning back.
"I couldn't be prouder, my boy!"
Adam was jolted back to reality as he felt his grandfather's firm hand on his shoulder. He turned to see the older man grinning for ear to ear, and he tired to smile in return. Despite his conflicting emotions, he did not want to appear bitter. The thought of his grandfather's pride was, at least, a small consolation.
"I knew you'd do splendidly, of course." Maurice continued with a confidant flick of his cape. "And a 9.7! Remarkable, considering your rather...unique parentage. You are your mother's son, no doubt about that!"
Adam suspected that he had wanted to say something other than "unique" (unfortunate, perhaps) but the look Samantha was currently giving her father seemed to soften his commentary. Adam was grateful for that. He loved his father, and he would always admire him...even if he father was disappointed by the freak his son had become.
For a moment, he made eye contact with his mother, and he could tell that she had a better understanding of his current state. She seemed happy, but she was clearly not as jovial as his grandfather. There was a hint of worry on her face and she gave him a small smile which seemed to say don't worry, we'll get through this.
Although being the son of a talented witch made things complicated, Adam knew that he was lucky to have the most amazing mother in the world. She understood, and he was always grateful to have her at his side.
"You did well, sweetie." She offered reassuringly, "But don't worry too much, it's just a formality."
Adam briefly returned her smile. Unfortunately, the moment did not last long.
"A formality? Nonsense!" His grandfather declared, putting a hand on his grandson's back as he began to lead him down the ornate hall of the council building. "This is one of the most important days in a young warlock's life! Especially when he receives a power ranking as high as yours. A 9.7!" He repeated, his voice almost gleeful. "Even better that your sister! Nearly as high as your mother and I. Simply remarkable!"
The old man paused for a moment as they rounded a corner of the ancient building. It was apparent that he did not sense Adam's discomfort and had not noticed the small frown on his face.
The young man had been trying not to consider the implications. He had, indeed, scored rather high, and was still quite stunned by that fact. Clearly, it had nothing to do with practice. He possessed just as much (if not more) power than any pure-born witch or warlock...apparently, the magic gene was dominant.
"This calls for a celebration!" The old man continued, ignoring a pointed look from his daughter. "We must go for supper at the warlock's club tonight—it is a perfect opportunity for you to sign up for full membership. There's a dance next weekend, you know. Excellent timing. I've already been boasting about you to the other members, and I am certain that all of the young witches will realize what a catch you are. Handsome. Powerful. My Grandson."
The young man blushed and quickly averted his gaze towards the marble floor. It was all so overwhelming...but, despite himself, Adam was amused by his grandfather's rush of enthusiasm.
And maybe—just maybe—his grandfather wasn't too far off base. Although he doubted that girls would be swooning at his feet, perhaps it was time to try something new. Giving the warlock's club another chance couldn't hurt too much, could it? His father didn't have to know...
"Daddy, don't smother him." Samantha warned, looking over at the two warlocks. "This isn't as..."
Much to his own surprise, Adam found himself jumping in before she could finish.
"No, mom, it's okay. I don't mind going for dinner."
"Wonderful! Then I see no need to hesitate—your grandmother and sister have agreed to meet us there."
Adam felt a twinge of guilt as he thought about who was missing from this family affair. But there was no way around it, he supposed. The warlock's club had a strict 'magic only' policy, and there was no way to sneak Darren in.
He wouldn't have wanted come, anyway.
This wasn't his father's world...but maybe, it was his.
"Shall we depart?"
His grandfather tipped his hat and did not wait for an answer before popping out of the empty hallway.
Samantha hesitated a moment longer, and sent one last apprehensive look at her son.
"Adam, you know you don't have to."
"I know." He replied softly as he put the small golden card into his pocket "But I'm a real, live, card carrying warlock now, aren't I? I suppose I should try to act like one."
Although he wanted to sound light hearted, he knew that his voice came out flat. All of the conflicting emotions that he felt—anger, pride, relief, fear—seemed to cancel each other out.
He could tell that she was still concerned, but before his mother could had a chance to speak again, he whisked himself away in a surprisingly comforting surge of magical energy.
Maybe, this was who he was meant to be.
A/N Not quite how I pictured it, but I hope it was enjoyable. This chapter sort of picks up where my other Adam story left off (Definitely Not a Washout).
Please review if you want more!