Hex Hall Page 1

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Series: Hex Hall #1

Genres: Young Adult , Fantasy


Felicia Miller was crying in the bathroom. Again.

I knew it was her because in the three months I'd been going to Green Mountain High, I'd already seen Felicia crying in the bathroom twice. She had a really distinctive sob, high and breathy like a little kid's, even though Felicia was eighteen, two years older than me.

I'd left her alone before, figuring that it was every girl's right to cry in a public bathroom from time to time.

But tonight was prom night, and there was something really sad about sobbing in formal wear. Besides, I'd developed a soft spot for Felicia. There was a girl just like her at every school I'd ever been to (nineteen and counting). And while I may have been a weirdo, people weren't mean to me; they mostly just ignored me. Felicia, on the other hand, was the class punching bag. For her, school had been nothing but a constant parade of stolen lunch money and nasty remarks.

I peeked under the stall door and saw a pair of feet in strappy yellow sandals. "Felicia?" I called, rapping softly on the door. "What's wrong?"

She opened the door and looked up at me with angry, bloodshot eyes.

"What's wrong? Well, let's see, Sophie, it's prom night of my senior year and do you see a date anywhere near me?"

"Um . . . no. But you are in the ladies' room, so I thought--"

"What?" she asked as she stood up and wiped her nose with a huge wad of toilet paper. "That my date's out there waiting for me?" She snorted.

"Please. I lied to my parents and said I had a date. So they bought me this dress"--she slapped at the yellow taffeta like it was a bug she was trying to kill--"and I told them my date was meeting me here, so they dropped me off.

I just . . . I couldn't tell them I didn't get invited to my senior prom. It would have broken their hearts." She rolled her eyes. "How pathetic is that?"

"It's not that pathetic," I said. "Lots of girls come to prom alone."

She glared at me. "Do you have a date?"

I did have a date. Sure, it was Ryan Hellerman, who might have been the only person at Green Mountain High less popular than I was, but it was still a date. And my mom had been so excited that someone had asked me.

She saw it as my finally making an attempt at Fitting In.

Fitting In was really important to my mom.

I watched Felicia standing there in her yellow dress, wiping at her nose, and before I could stop myself, I said something totally stupid: "I can help."

Felicia looked up at me through puffy eyes. "How?"

I looped my arm through hers, pulling her to her feet. "We have to go outside."

We made our way out of the bathroom and through the crowded gym.

Felicia seemed wary as I led her through the big double doors and out into the parking lot.

"If this is some sort of prank, I have pepper spray in my purse," she said, holding her little yellow clutch close to her chest.

"Relax." I looked around to make sure the parking lot was deserted.

Even though it was late April, there was still a chill in the air, and both of us shivered in our dresses. "Okay," I said, turning back to her. "If you could have anyone as your prom date, who would it be?"

"Are you trying to torture me?" she asked.

"Just answer the question."

Staring at her yellow shoes, she mumbled, "Kevin Bridges?"

I wasn't surprised. SGA president, football captain, all-around hottie . . . Kevin Bridges was the guy almost any girl would pick to be her prom date.

"Okay, then. Kevin it is," I muttered, cracking my knuckles. Lifting my hands to the sky, I closed my eyes and pictured Felicia in Kevin's arms, her in her bright yellow dress, him in a tux. After just a few seconds of focusing on that image, I started to feel a slight tremor under my feet and a feeling like water rushing all the way up to my outspread hands. My hair started to float from my shoulders, and then I heard Felicia gasp.

When I opened my eyes, I saw exactly what I'd hoped. Overhead, a huge dark cloud was swirling, sparks of purplish light flashing inside of it. I kept concentrating, and as I did, the cloud swirled faster until it was a perfect circle with a hole in the center.

The Magic Doughnut, as I'd dubbed it the first time I'd created one on my twelfth birthday.

Felicia cowered between two cars, her arms raised over her head. But it was too late to stop.

The hole in the center of the cloud filled with bright green light.

Focusing on that light and the image of Kevin and Felicia, I flexed my fingers and watched as a bolt of green lightning shot out of the cloud and raced across the sky. It disappeared behind some trees.

The cloud vanished, and Felicia stood up on shaky legs. "W-what was that?" She turned to me, wide-eyed. "Are you like a witch or something?"

I shrugged, still feeling pleasantly buzzed by the power I'd just unleashed. Magic drunk, Mom always calls it. "It was nothing," I said. "Now let's go inside."

Ryan was hanging out by the punch table when I came back inside.

"What was that about?" he asked, nodding toward Felicia. She looked dazed as she stood on tiptoes, scanning the dance floor.

"Oh, she just needed some air," I said, picking up a glass of punch.

My heart was still racing, and my hands were shaking.

"Cool," Ryan said, bouncing his head in time with the music. "Wanna dance?"

Before I could answer, Felicia ran up and grabbed my arm. "He's not even here," she said. "Didn't that . . . that thing you did make him my prom date?"

"Shhh! Yes it did, but you'll have to be patient. As soon as Kevin gets here, he'll find you, trust me."

We didn't have to wait long.

Ryan and I were only halfway through our first dance when a huge crash echoed through the gym.

There was a rapid succession of loud pops, almost like gunshots, that sent kids screaming and diving under the refreshment table. I watched the punch bowl plummet to the floor, splashing red liquid everywhere.

But it wasn't a gun that had made the popping sounds; it was balloons.

Hundreds of them. Whatever had happened had sent the huge balloon arch swooping to the ground. I watched as one white balloon escaped the carnage and rose into the rafters of the gym.

I looked over and saw several of the teachers running for the doors.

Which weren't there anymore.

That was because a silver Land Rover had crashed through them.

Kevin Bridges staggered out of the driver's seat. He'd cut both his forehead and his hand, and was bleeding on the shiny hardwood as he bellowed, "Felicia! FELICIA!"

"Holy crap," Ryan murmured.

Kevin's date, Caroline Reed, scrambled out of the passenger side. She was sobbing. "He's crazy!" she shrieked. "He was fine, and then there was this light and . . . and . . ." She broke off into more hysterics, and I felt sick to my stomach.

"FELICIA!" Kevin continued to scream, wildly searching the gym. I looked around and saw Felicia hiding under one of the tables, her eyes huge.

I was careful this time, I thought. I'm better at this now!

Kevin found Felicia and yanked her out from under the table.

"Felicia!" He smiled broadly, his whole face lit up, which, what with the blood and all, was terrifying. I didn't blame Felicia for screaming her head off.

One of the chaperones, Coach Henry, sprinted over to help, grabbing Kevin's arm.

But Kevin just turned, one hand still clutching Felicia, and backhanded Coach Henry across the face. The coach, who was six foot two and easily over two hundred pounds, went flying backward.

And then all hell broke loose.

People were stampeding for the doors, more teachers were swarming Kevin, and Felicia's screams had taken on a desperate, keening edge. Only Ryan seemed unfazed.

"Awesome!" he enthused as two girls scrambled over the Land Rover and out of the gym. " Carrie prom!"

Kevin was still holding one of Felicia's hands, and by now he was on one knee. I couldn't be sure, thanks to all the screaming, but I think he was singing to her.

Felicia wasn't screeching anymore, but she was fishing in her handbag for something.

"Oh no," I groaned. I started running toward them, but I slipped and fell in the punch.

Felicia whipped out a small red can and sprayed the contents in Kevin's face.

His song broke off in a garbled cry of pain. He dropped her hand to claw at his eyes, and Felicia ran.

"It's okay, baby!" he shouted after her. "I don't need eyes to see you! I see you with the eyes of my heart, Felicia! My HEART!"

Great. Not only was my spell too strong, it was also lame.

I sat in the pool of punch while the chaos I'd created raged around me.

A lone white balloon bobbed by my elbow, and Mrs. Davison, my algebra teacher, stumbled past, shouting into her cell phone, "I said Green Mountain High! Um . . . I don't know, an ambulance? A SWAT team? Just send somebody!"

Then I heard a shriek. "It was her! Sophie Mercer!"

Felicia was pointing at me, her whole body shaking.

Even over all the noise, Felicia's words echoed in the cavernous gym.

"She's . . . she's a witch!"

I sighed. "Not again."



I stepped out of the car and into the hot thick heat of August in Georgia.

"Awesome," I murmured, sliding my sunglasses on top of my head.

Thanks to the humidity, my hair felt like it had tripled in size. I could feel it trying to devour my sunglasses like some sort of carnivorous jungle plant. "I always wondered what it would be like to live in somebody's mouth."

In front of me loomed Hecate Hall, which, according to the brochure clutched in my sweaty hand, was "the premier reformatory institution for Prodigium adolescents."

Prodigium. Just a fancy Latin word for monsters. And that's what everyone at Hecate was.

That's what I was.

I'd already read the brochure four times on the plane from Vermont to Georgia, twice on the ferry ride to Graymalkin Island, just off the coast of Georgia (where, I learned, Hecate had been built in 1854), and once as our rental car had rattled over the shell and gravel driveway that led from the shore to the school's parking lot. So I should have had it memorized, but I kept holding on to it and compulsively reading it, like it was my wubby or something:

The purpose of Hecate Hall is to protect and instruct shapeshifter, witch, and fae children who have risked exposure of their abilities, and therefore imperiled Prodigium society as a whole.

"I still don't see how helping one girl find a date imperiled other witches," I said, squinting at my mom as we reached into the trunk for my stuff. The thought had been bugging me since the first time I'd read the brochure, but I hadn't had a chance to bring it up. Mom had spent most of the flight pretending to be asleep, probably to avoid looking at my sullen expression.

"It wasn't just that one girl, Soph, and you know it. It was that boy with the broken arm in Delaware, and that teacher you tried to make forget about a test in Arizona. . . ."

"He got his memory back eventually," I said. "Well, most of it."

Mom just sighed and pulled out the beat-up trunk we'd bought at The Salvation Army. "Your father and I both warned you that there were consequences for using your powers. I don't like this any more than you do, but at least here you'll be with . . . with other kids like you."

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