Electives

Originally posted on Patreon in July 2019 and part of the Great Patreon Crossposting to WordPress.

Bellamy is a niece of Evangeline and a close cousin of Chalcedony, Beryl’s older sister.

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Every member of Bellamy’s family took at least one extra Art Class and one extra shop class. ¬†They’d have taken more Home Ec, too, if it was offered as an elective, but their school distract seemed to think basic sewing and cooking could be handled in two quarter-year classes in Junior High.

That was fine, because by that point, every member of the family already knew how to do basic cooking, canning, sewing, cleaning, and budgeting, as well as a little bit of animal husbandry, farming, and weather-reading. ¬†Bellamy had once overheard one teacher saying to another Oh, those kids? ¬†Their family has a reputation for being witches, but that’s just the fact that they know the land and have some basic knowledge of just about everything. ¬†You know, it’s all from the root of “wise” for a reason.

Bellamy’d had trouble not laughing in the teacher’s face for weeks.

Sure, they knew quite a bit.  They still had active farms in the family, and they still had a lot of very old-fashioned skills, like sewing your own prom dress so that it looked classier than any of the other girls (So there, Jenny Hayden!) or distilling your own vodka that tasted just a little bit like the moonlight on the water.

But they also were magic, and the spells her mother put in the cupcakes she brought to school, while benign, had less to to with knowing the land and more to do with knowing the right combination of spices and pure will makes everyone a little calmer and a little smarter for a day or two.

(It was an unspoken family rule that school snacks only ever had benign spells in them, and that they’d be peanut-free as a matter of course and gluten-free if need be, vegan if required, and free of anything else that might annoy (or kill) any given classmates.)

People, as a rule, really liked it when someone from Bellamy’s family had a birthday, and the one year someone else’s mother had tried to ban the snacks that came with such things, every single student in the jr. high had written her a letter.

Home ec, in Bellamy’s family, involved some very careful baking and some very interesting mix-ins, as well as the specific way to fold your sheets and the things that you wanted to add to your seams in sewing. ¬†Bellamy could teach a class in that along, and she was far from the most advanced of her generation.

But art class – art class was something else.

We all take art classes, every one of us, her Great-Aunt Asta had explained to her, because it’s the only way to truly find out where that spark will appear. ¬†Usually it’s boys. ¬†I’ve always thought of it as sort of a consolation prize. ¬†But sometimes it is girls, and when that happens, well, best you’re the first to know.

Bellamy had thought this particularly cryptic, even for an older member of her family, until freshman art class. ¬†Their school had a very robust arts program, at least in part because there were always members of her family at every School Board and PTA meeting. ¬†Even the one where there’d been a blizzard and nobody else had shown up.

If you couldn’t go through a blizzard to vote on the school budget, she’d heard another great-aunt say, you didn’t deserve to vote on it at all.

Her great-aunts were a bit terrifying.

They’d been doing pastel art. ¬†It was supposed to be a landscape, and Bellamy had chosen a place she’d gone on vacation a couple years back – a peak in the Adirondacks. ¬†As she was adding color, grey and blue and a sort of browny color that was almost right, something had happened to her vision.

She’d come to at the end of class with an A+ on a piece of artwork that made her feel strange all the way down to her toes and made some of ¬†her classmates mutter things like vacation in a glance, which was a weird one, or Is this Narnia?

The weirdest had been the guy she barely knew — cute, in a shy way, never talked to her, even though they had four classes together — handed her a pile of Roger Zelazny Amber books. “Read about Trumps,” he’d suggested, “then maybe we can talk sometime.”

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chronicles_of_Amber#The_Trumps

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