Summer was real summer-y. Jace and his twin, Jake, had explored their neighborhood just as much as they could, even taking their bikes down to the crick to catch crawdads despite being explicitly forbidden to do that since two summers ago when crawdads had mysteriously appeared in the bathtub. Both Jake and Jace would swear up and down they weren’t responsible but nobody’d believed them so no more crick. Mom had looked at them pretty suspicious when they’d come back muddy, but the younger Fitz twins could come back from pretty much anywhere muddy, and there were no crawdads on either of their persons when searched, so they escaped getting grounded.
Actually, the younger twins had only gotten grounded twice this summer which was probably an all-time record. Probably because Jenna and Jeremy had finally given up on coming home for the summer so there was nobody to take Jace and Jake off their parents’ hands other than whatever trouble they could come up with in the neighborhood.
Scrubbed clean and with a deep tan, Jace and Jake sat in their shared bedroom on top of their school trunks, fiddling with the Portkeys in their hands. With their shared dark blonde hair and blue eyes, they were identical enough that people who didn’t know them well often confused them for each other. They were still pretty sure that old Professor Boot who taught History of Magic thought only one of them was in his class, which provided excellent skipping opportunities. Even though Jace actually kinda thought History of Magic was rad - lots of stabbing, some AWESOME hexes, and even interesting assignments sometimes - he’d never admit it. He wasn’t a nerd or anything, even if he did let Jake copy almost all his homework. Sadie copied lots too, actually, which Jace totally didn’t mind because she was funny and into crazy ideas just as much as his brother.
Plus, as he’d noticed real sudden during some Spellwork group work last year, she was pretty. Not that Jace was goo-goo over girls like his older brother, who had it bad for a different girl every time he came home from school, but yeah, Sadie was pretty. He might even want to kiss her, except that she might mock him for the rest of his natural-born life if he did.
With a WHOOSH that Jace felt behind his belly-button more than he heard, the Portkey suddenly whipped the two boys into whatever weird wizard-space Portkeys dragged you through, and deposited them in the entrance hall of RMI, right next to the elevator - that he was finally old enough to ride! Jace hadn’t even thought about that. Dang, it was going to be a good year.
Despite being colorblind, Jace had figured out where the bonfires were by location by this point, so he didn’t awkwardly end up at the wrong fire. It didn’t hurt that he saw his yearmate, Beth, just as he went into the Finer Diner. Without a look back at Jake (they’d catch up later, they weren’t attached-at-the-hip twins), Jace ran to catch up. Beth was tall for a girl and had gotten taller over the summer, looked like. They talked about their equally uneventful summers as they walked to the Aquila fire, where they joined Nylah. She was a year younger than them but liked causing trouble and schoolwork both, so she was cool in Jace’s book.
The Headmaster did his speech-making and Jace didn’t really give a crap about who the prefects were or whatever (he secretly had his eye on that badge, though) so he fiddled with his shoelaces and managed to sneakily tie Nylah’s together while she wasn’t paying attention. Once the house-elves appeared, he made some excuse about grabbing something from an elf on the other side of the fire, which made Beth look at him suspiciously. Jace sauntered over and plopped himself next to the nearest available candidate, putting the other student between him and Nylah to give him enough warning to scram if it became necessary.
“What’s up?” Jace asked casually, grabbing some chips’n’salsa off a tray and shoving one in his mouth, not really minding the crumbs that found a new home on his shirt. “Have a good summer?”