I pull down my sweater sleeve over my hand and carefully wipe the leather cover. “?‘The Apocalypses of . . . Arcturius the Farsighted’? Sounds like the dude just needed a better prescription for glasses.”

Rhys leans close, peering curiously. “I haven’t read that volume.” He sounds jealous.

Notes have been scrawled in the margins, the handwriting changing as it moves through the centuries. On the last few pages there are orange fingerprints, like someone was reading while eating Cheetos. The Watchers before me have made their own notes, commenting and filling in details. Seeing their work overwhelms me with a sense of responsibility. It’s not every sixteen-year-old girl who can trace her family’s calling back through the centuries of helping Slayers, fighting demons, and otherwise saving the world.

I find a good entry. “Did you know that in 1910, one of the Merryweathers prevented an octopus uprising? A leviathan demon gave them sentience and they were going to overthrow us! Merryweather doesn’t give many details. It appears they defeated them with . . .” I squint. “Lemon. And butter. I think this is a recipe.”

Imogen taps on the book. “Just translate the last ten prophecies, how about?”

I get to work. Rhys occasionally asks Imogen questions, and by the time our class period is almost over, he has what looks like half the extensive shelves piled on our groaning table. In years past, Rhys and I wouldn’t have studied together. He’d have been in classes with the other future Council hopefuls. But there are so few of us now, we’ve had to relax some of the structure and tradition. Not all of it, though. Without tradition, what would we be? Just a bunch of weirdos hiding in a castle studying the things that no one else wants to know about. Which I guess is what we are with tradition too. But knowing I’m part of a millennia-long battle against the forces of evil (and apparently octopuses) makes it much more meaningful.

Buffy and the Slayers might have turned their backs on the Watchers, rejecting our guidance and counsel, but we haven’t turned our backs on the world. Normal people can go on living, oblivious and happy, because of our hard work. And I’m proud of that. Even when it means I have to translate dumb prophecies, and even if I’ve wondered more and more the last few years if the way the Watchers and Slayers fight evil isn’t always right.

The library door slams open and my twin sister, Artemis, walks in. She takes a deep breath and scowls, crossing past me and tugging open the ancient window. It groans in protest, but, as with all things, Artemis accomplishes her goal. She pulls out one of my inhalers from her pocket and sets it on the table beside me. Everything in this castle runs because of Artemis. She is a force of nature. An angry but efficient force of nature.

“Hello to you, too,” I say with a smile.

She tugs my hair. We both have red waves, though hers are always pulled back into a brutal ponytail. I have a lot more time for moisturizing than she does. Her face is like looking in a mirror—if that mirror were a prophecy of who I’d be in another life. Her freckles are darker from spending so much time outside. Her gray eyes more intense, her jawline somehow stronger. Her shoulders are straighter, her arms are more defined, and her posture is less snuggly and more I-will-destroy-you-if-it-comes-to-that.

In short, Artemis is the strong twin. The powerful twin. The chosen twin. And I am . . .

The one who got left behind.

I don’t just mean the fire, either. The moment when my mother was forced to choose to save one of us from the terrifying flames—and chose Artemis—was definitely life changing. But even after that, even after I managed to survive, my mother kept choosing her. Artemis was chosen for testing and training. Artemis was given responsibilities and duties and a vital role in Watcher society. And I was left behind on the fringes. I only sort of matter now because so many of us are dead. Artemis always would have mattered. And the truth is, I get it.

I was born into Watcher society, but Artemis deserves to be here.

She sits next to me, pulling out her notebook and opening it to today’s to-do list. It’s in microscopic handwriting and goes past the first page and onto at least one more. No one in this castle does more than Artemis. “Listen,” she says, “I might have hurt Jade.”

I look up from where I’m almost finished with this book. Every other prophecy had margin notes detailing how that particular apocalypse was averted. I idly wonder what it means that this is the last prophecy. Did Arcturius the Farsighted finally get glasses, or was this apocalypse so apocalypse-y that he couldn’t see past it? It also has no Watcher notes. And Watchers are meticulous. If it doesn’t have notes, that means it hasn’t been averted yet.

But my own castle emergencies are far more pressing. “And by ‘might have hurt Jade,’ you mean . . .”

Artemis shrugs. “Definitely did.”

On cue, Jade limps in. She picks up her tirade midargument. “—and just because magic is broken, doesn’t mean that I should be Artemis’s punching bag! I know my father worked in special ops, but I don’t want to. I was good at magic! I am not good at this!”

“No one is, next to Artemis,” Rhys says. His voice is quiet and without judgment, but we all freeze. It’s one of the things we don’t talk about. How Artemis is inarguably the best, and yet she’s the assistant and Rhys is the official golden boy.

Watchers excel at research, record keeping, and not talking about things. The entire organization is ever-so-British. Though technically Artemis and I are American. We lived in California and then Arizona before coming here. Rhys, Jade, and Imogen—who all grew up in London—still laugh when I treat rain like a novelty. It’s been eight years in England and Ireland, but I adore rain and green and all things nondesert.

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