Chapter 15:


The Wizard's Virginity

I ran towards the old building, the occasional yell from Aoife directing me. I passed Ms Matthews’s Citizenship classroom and continued into an even more dilapidated, unused part of the building. I descended some stairs into a basement area that I never knew existed, although judging by the scattered crisp packets and cigarette ends, some of the more rebellious students were clearly aware of it.

As I got closer, I heard Aoife’s usual magical shouts, the ones that she used to incapacitate those close to her, rather than the long-distance one that she had been using to communicate with me. There were also sounds of crashing, scurrying movement and furniture being thrown. I quickened my pace.

Finally I reached a wide open room with a rickety bulb barely illuminating it. The walls and ceiling were cracked grey plaster, and there were some old style wooden school desks stacked at one side of the room. It very much felt like a kidnapper’s torture den, and I was disappointed in myself for not knowing that there was such a creepy place hidden away in my own school.

As my eyes adjusted to the poor lighting, I saw two figures in the room. At the far end of the room, facing me, was Aoife. She was wearing her usual white suit, but it was covered in dirt and scuff marks. I noticed her shoes on the floor a little way away from her, the heel snapped off of one of them. Her huge chest was heaving with exertion, and I could tell that I had entered just as there was a gap in a fight.

Her opponent was standing much closer to me, almost within arm’s reach of the entryway where I stood. They were facing Aoife, so their back was turned to me. They were short, dressed in all black, and wearing a hood…

“Oh, thank Christ you’re here,” Aoife said as she noticed me. She was visibly relieved, but kept her body tense, as though still anticipating that the fight could restart at any moment. I expected the hooded figure to turn around to look at me, but they stayed completely still.

“What’s going on?” I asked. “Why did you call me?”

If this was the same hooded figure who had saved me on Friday, and it sure looked like it was, I had no idea why Aoife would be fighting them. I had even less idea why Aoife thought I could be of any help. She said herself that I would have no magic abilities without having studied any tomes, and I had seen the speed and power that the hooded figure moved with when fighting Reiko. I wasn’t proud to admit it, but in a battle between two magic-users, I was likely to be less than useless. If anything, a burden.

“I just thought you might want to know the identity of the mysterious hero who rescued you from Reiko,” Aoife said. She was trying to put on a casual tone, but her breathing was still heavy, and I could tell she was scared. “I don’t know how you thought it could be me. I mean, for one thing, she has no tits.”

The figure took a menacing step forward towards Aoife, who shrunk back and raised her hands in a gesture of apology. “Look, I’m sorry, but I’m just saying!”

“Why are you fighting?” I asked. I continued to watch the hooded figure carefully, waiting to see if they made a sudden movement. Not that I could do much if they did.

Aoife answered, as I expected she would. The figure hadn’t said a word so far, so why would they start now?

“I’m not fighting, she’s fighting. I’m just trying to defend myself. I’m a lover, not a fighter.” Aoife winked at me. “As you well know, kiddo.”

Despite the threatening aura surrounding this situation, I still found myself blushing in embarrassment. I had run away without a word yesterday after Lawrence appeared in the Biology lab, which was hardly the most manly way to follow up a sexy kissing session.

“Anyway,” Aoife said, now addressing her opponent. “Don’t you think it’s time to reveal yourself? Put young James here out of his misery.”

There were several seconds of silence, and then the figure said, “I’m sorry, buddy. I didn’t want you to find out like this.” They pulled down their hood, and hesitantly turned to face me.

I recognised him immediately. He wasn’t wearing his glasses, and his usual mop of brown hair was now slicked back, but it was still unmistakably him. The guy who was easygoing, injury-prone, perpetually half-asleep, surprisingly good at video games, and had a lot of random hobbies. The guy who, for the last five and a half years, had been my best friend.

“Dan.” I said his name aloud, as though I needed to hear final confirmation that it was him, even if it came from my own mouth. Dan had been the one who saved me from Reiko. He had also been fighting Aoife. He had claimed to be absent from school because of a family emergency, but here he was, very much at school, just not in the way that was expected.

“Right then, I think I’ll be off,” Aoife said, as she moved towards the door. She kept a wide distance from Dan, although he seemed not to be taking much notice of her. His head was hanging down, and he was just staring at the floor.

Once Aoife reached the door and was safely behind me, she continued. “I imagine you two have a lot to catch up about.” She was speaking smugly, as though revelling in her victory over Dan. She hadn’t been able to win a physical fight, but by calling me down here and exposing the hooded figure’s true identity, she had at least managed to safely end their battle. “And when you’re done talking and need some comfort, kiddo, my door will be open for you. As will other things…”

Aoife gave a final unsavoury laugh, and then retreated back through the basement and up the stairs. As she went she muttered something about being glad that she always kept a spare set of clothes in her car in case she got lucky, but I was barely listening to her. I was struggling even to think. A million questions were whizzing through my head. I picked one and asked it.

“Why are you here?”

“To protect you,” Dan answered simply.

“What from?”

“People who want to take your powers.”


“I…” Dan hesitated. “I don’t think I can tell you that yet. I’m sorry.”

“Okay then.” I paused. “How are you here? I saw you get injured by Reiko just a few days ago. You were bleeding so much. How can you be here and fighting again? And how can you move so fast?”

“I… I can use magic.”

I already knew that would be his answer, but to hear him say the words still felt unreal. Every time Dan had mentioned magic in the past it had been a joke. Poking fun at me for my crazy scheme to stay a virgin until I was 30 and gain magical powers. Now though, he was being completely serious.

“I’m part of a coven that uses body recovery spells. I can heal myself, and the others in the coven can help heal me. I can also strengthen my body, so that I can move faster, hit harder, and…” Dan trailed off, apparently realising that he had said too much. He waited for me to ask another question.

“Why were you attacking Aoife?”

“You messaged me, saying that she tried to have sex with you,” Dan replied. He was still looking at the ground, his eyes lifting very occasionally to look up at me. It was so strange. Part of me just felt like I was talking to Dan as normal, my best and only friend. Another part of me felt as if I was talking to a complete stranger.

“So? You tried to, what, kill a woman, just because she wanted to have sex with me? Aoife never did anything to hurt me.”

Dan shook his head. “I didn’t know. I thought it was the same as Reiko, that she was a threat to you. I had no idea she even existed until you messaged. She’s from a tiny coven, we’d never even heard of it.”

“How did you know about Reiko then?”

“Her coven is a famous one. Famous for bad reasons. We’ve been tracking them for a while. I suspected Reiko was part of it, but couldn’t be sure until she made her move. But it’s all fine now, since we chased her off.”

“Wait a minute… ‘Until she made her move’. So, you were just watching the whole time? Even when she drugged me and tied me up?”

“I’m sorry, but we had to be sure of her intentions. We had bugged the classroom, so we wanted to see if she gave you any more information. That’s why we waited until the last possible momen-”

I cut him off. “How the fuck could you know when the last possible moment would be?! What if she’d just suddenly used one of her invisible breath daggers to cut off my head? You decided that risk was okay to take?”

The situation had started to sink in now. My shock was wearing off, giving way to fury. He claimed to be doing all this to protect me, but I couldn’t accept it.

“I’m sorry”, he repeated. “But it wasn’t my choice.”

“Was it your choice to lie to me all these years? To pretend to be my friend? To laugh at me when I mentioned magic, as though I was a fucking idiot?”

Dan said nothing, his head still hanging down.

“And you can use magic! You could have helped me back during the Incident, when those four guys beat the shit out of me. But I guess it was more important to maintain your cover, right? To just run off and get a teacher, like the little wimp you’re supposed to be. I guess it worked out well for you, the whole school hating me, and you being the only friend I had left. Made it easier for you to keep an eye on me.”

Dan’s silence continued.

“So, what was your plan? Play the role of my loyal friend, and then one day drag me away so that my magic potential could be extracted by your coven?”

“No, James, I-”

“Wait,” I interrupted him, as another disturbing thought came together in my mind.

Aoife had told me that only a tiny amount of men have the potential to use magic. What’s more, Aoife had referred to Dan as ‘she’. I just hadn’t processed it, as I had been so shocked by the whole situation. Now, however, it was beginning to dawn on me. My friend’s small size, his lack of facial hair, his high-pitched voice. I often joked about him not having hit puberty yet. But if there was another explanation…

“Are you… Are you a girl?”

Dan said nothing.

“ARE YOU A GIRL?” I repeated, shouting this time.

“...Yes, I am. But please, James, let me explain.”

“No, Dan. Or whoever the hell you are. I’m done with you.”