Amelia was so quiet that she barely had a personality. She was all pale face and ashy hair, her mouth a tiny button and her eyes expressionless.
‘Excuse me,’ she would say, in a whisper, ‘excuse me, are you waiting in this line?’
‘excuse me, are you having this last cupcake?’
‘excuse me, where am I supposed to be sitting?’
And that one time she spoke to Gideon, her voice like the wispy dryads of the willows, ‘Gideon,’ and she said his name this time, ‘Could I please borrow your blue ink pen?’
That was in the Creative Writing class.
And when Gideon handed it to her, the faintest glimmer of a smile flashed across her face as she took it.
She didn’t return it to him later. She just left it on his desk on her departure from the class, her eyes, a deep chocolate brown, focused directly ahead.
Amelia was the sort of girl people speculated about, but then after months of staying in her shell she became known as the quiet girl. The girl who doesn’t speak. The girl who doesn’t say anything.
Amelia, it was thought, was nothing special.
Gideon did not think she was anything special either. She faded into the wall behind her and her frail voice was lost in the excitable babble of hormonal teenagers. In fact, if it were not for her extraordinary powers, Gideon would not have noticed her at all.
She was a charmer, was Amelia. He realised this the day she borrowed his pen. When his eyes met hers, he could not look away. They captivated him, ensnared him in a net from which he could not escape. He tossed and turned at night because he felt drowned in those dark pools, but at the same time he was thirsty for more. He wanted to look into her eyes again and hear that voice.
That voice that others might find irritatingly low or maddeningly faint.
If he were to describe her on those nights he was haunted by her, he would have said he was haunted by a particularly mischievous dryad.
She was not silent in his dreams. She laughed, as dryads would laugh. The wind and the roar of the trees in her trilling notes, always taunting, always mocking.
When he saw her at college her craned his neck for a glimpse of those intoxicating eyes. They never looked at him again. And each time he failed, he was left with a crushing feeling of miserable despair. Yet he would always try again, his hope forever rising, hot and furious, more determined than before.
How could anybody feel that way about a person who didn’t have a personality, unless that person was a powerful bewitcher?