Today is the day most Dauntless come together with their families, and the day transfers meet with any family members who are willing to see them, provided that they aren’t angry at their child’s betrayal from their birth faction.
I watch Tris embrace her mother, who is clad in gray.
I stand alone, looking away from them, afraid her mother will recognize me from somewhere, even though I’ve never seen her before. They near the railing that overlooks the chasm, and I, a few paces away and partially turned away from them, can hear bits and pieces of what they’re saying. I don’t pay attention to whatever they are talking about, until I hear her mother’s voice, slightly worried, and a little bit exasperated.
“Tensions between our factions are higher than ever. I wish it wasn’t that way, but there is little I can do about it.” Her mother sighs.
War. The words shouts inside me, the word I’ve been keeping suppressed for so long.
Jeanine Matthews is the smartest person in Erudite, in all the five factions. She’s the cause of the tensions between the factions, and for a reason. She’s partnered with the Dauntless, because we have something that the Erudite don’t. We have fighting skills, we know how to use weapons. I step away from the railing, away from everything.
I find myself face to face with Tris’ mother, who holds out her hand. Tris stands beside her. “Hello. My name is Natalie,” her mother says. “I’m Beatrice’s mother.”
I feel like a scared rabbit, and I want to run away and hide. Instead I take her hand, awkwardly. As an Abnegation, I never touched anyone, let alone shook hands. Even now, being in Dauntless, I’m not very keen on doing anything of the like.
“Four,” I say weakly. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Four,” she repeats, smiling. “Is that a nickname?”
Does she know who I am?
“Yes.” There’s silence for a moment, and I know they’re expecting me to elaborate. I quickly say the first thing I can think of. “Your daughter is doing well here. I’ve been overseeing her training.”
I feel Tris’ eyes on me. I can hear her voice in my head.
Since when does “overseeing” include throwing knives at me and scolding me at every opportunity?
Oh Tris, you don’t understand. You don’t understand your strength. You don’t even know your limits.
And I will push you.
“That’s good to hear,” her mother says. “I know a few things about Dauntless initiation, and I was worried about her.”
I may have only known Tris for a week and a half, but I am sure that she has enough power and determination inside her to do anything she sets her mind to. During training, when she took Al’s place and let me throw knives at her, I could see that determination, like a fire glowing behind her eyes. And when the flame shuddered, for just a moment, I was terrified of it going out. I taunted and teased her, just to find that glow again.
She was brave; she was selfless. And I realized that the two weren’t as different as I’d thought.
I look at her, from her nose to her mouth to her chin. She looks strong. She looks beautiful. “You shouldn’t worry,” I tell her mother.
She tilts her head. “You look familiar for some reason, Four.”
My heart is suddenly pounding. My brain tells me to change the subject, fast. “I can’t imagine why,” I tell her icily, “I don’t make a habit of associating with the Abnegation.”
She laughs lightly, and doesn’t inquire further. “Few people do, these days. I don’t take it personally.”
I feel myself relax. “Well, I’ll leave you to your reunion.”
I force my feet to walk, rather than run.