Chapter 3:

Hidden Motives

The Botanical Research Club

"Hey, thank you for joining my club. I truly didn't think you were serious about it." I nod to Fulvius while he is standing close to the window.
"You're most welcome. Plus, I really wanted it. I did let you know that I was curious about your group." After briefly wandering off in thought, Fulvius adds: "When will we begin, by the way? Do I need to bring any equipment?"

"We should get started tomorrow after school. Meet me outside the lab room." I reply.
"Alright. So what do you think—shall we buy some beans and plant them. I can bring everything. Perhaps you could just get us some gloves." Fulvius states with enthusiasm.

That sounds promising. He will bring everything we need, so we can start working tomorrow. Additionally, considering that beans are one of the simpler plants to grow, planting them sounds like a good option. We'll watch their development day by day and be pleased with how well they will grow.

I'm walking into the supermarket. My eyes are glued to the area where gloves might be as I move around the store. It takes me a few minutes before I am able to locate a box that contains several pairs of gloves. I'm going to get a few beans as well, just to be sure. Who knows, they might come in handy. With my quick shopping trip completed, I'm on my way home. I go directly to my room after arriving home, leaving my suitcase on the bed and turning on my computer.

As I turn on my computer, the first thing that pops up is Mitsuko-san's message: "I saw you speaking to Fulvius-kun this morning."

I just don't understand how she can be so in charge of everyone's actions. Even if she has a crush on him, she can't keep other girls away from him by sending them threats. Why does she send me messages rather than have the guts to approach him herself?

"Yes, I spoke with him. Is there a problem with that?" I reply.
In a matter of seconds, I receive the second, positively answered message.
"Well, Mitsuko-san, I can't help you with that; you have to help yourself." I decide to respond to her one last time before turning off the messenger because I don't want to hear anything else. I eventually decide to delete it, leaving her on "seen."

She will cause serious problems if she tries to dictate how our club handles things. I need to find a secure location. Maybe an empty room in the school basement would be a good choice. I doubt she is aware of its existence. There, we will be free of anyone sticking their nose where it does not belong. I'll complete my homework for today and go for a walk afterwards. Tomorrow is a significant day. My golden era has finally begun.

"Good morning, Fulvius-kun! Have you purchased the beans?" While fixating on Mitsuko-san, who is sitting quietly, I approach him in an almost sedate manner.
"Yes, I have everything ready. As promised, I'll meet you after school." Fulvius responds by displaying a bag. He appears to be showcasing it to the entire class. Mitsuko turns her head quickly, as if by instinct, and looks at the bag. She is enraged and envious, but she quickly returns her head to its original position and pretends to draw something. I'm standing near the lab room's door, listening to Fulvius' footsteps as he gets closer.

"Let's go to our club location, Hinata-san," he says, smiling seductively at me. Silence. Nobody is saying anything as we make our way toward the club location. My heart is beating, and I begin to fantasize, but I decide to get that out of my head as quickly as possible.
"It's right here. Isn't it lovely?" I show him around, placing items on the desk and saying, "Let's plant them."

After unpacking the box with gloves, we each put on a pair of gloves and seize a pot from the cupboard. There are a few old cabinets and a sink in this room. It appears to be quite old and neglected. On the other hand, not a lot of people know of it, which is precisely why I have chosen it. We are both grabbing soil from the plastic bag and filling our sienna-coloured ceramic pots almost entirely with it. Following that, we are creating a spot for the beans to be placed. Fulvius does everything exactly like I do, which gives me a lot of confidence. Strangely, his beans sparkle like a tray of light in this dimly lit room.

When he notices that I am watching them, he decides to break the silence. "Tell me a little bit about yourself. I'd like to get to know you better."
"Well, I'm just a regular girl who enjoys botany. I also enjoy reading and playing video games." I expect a response in return.
He glances at me and says, "Good, but this isn't what I'm looking for. Why not tell me a secret about yourself now that we're in such a private setting?"
"Nobody will ever know, it will remain locked inside this dark cabinet," he adds.
"What do I get in return?" I inquire as I spin the tips of my long, wavy green hair.
"Obviously, a secret of mine. What else could it be? You reveal a secret of yours, and I reveal a secret of mine. Simple, fair, and thrilling." Fulvius responds while washing his hands in the sink from the soil.

"Alright. I think I'm developing feelings for you." I tell him this because I don't want to easily expose any of my private information. Taking his personality into account, this will undoubtedly pique his interest.
"Very intriguing, indeed. I kind of expected it. You and Mitsuko-san are both interested in me." Despite the fact that I am quite impressed by how quickly he got it, his slightly conceited response doesn't surprise me.

"Now comes my part of the deal. My mother is a witch. From the outside, it doesn't appear to be particularly fancy or like something out of a movie, but she is adhering to a particular practice and has priceless manuals at home."

"Oh my goodness, the secret was supposed to be about you, not your mother. Do you engage in the same practice?" My pupils dilate as I wait for the answer.
"Yes. That is why I wanted to join your club. We need something alive to act as a container for the spells." He informs me.
"I suppose there's no harm in that. Plants have no feelings. Listen, do whatever you want with them, but keep it a secret, okay?" I start worrying about what could happen if this was revealed, but little did I know that this should have been the least of my concerns.
"All right," he says as he gently touches the soil, which has been implanted with bewitched beans.

Taylor Victoria
Liber Mercury