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Ashley could see Chris and Josh from the dance sitting at a table with a few others she didn’t recognize. The five boys looked to be deep in conversation about something. Ashley wished that anyone she’d met at the dance also had this lunch period, but she was alone. Matt’s friends wouldn’t want her around, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to sit with Mike.

There was a table free behind Chris, and it was one of the few empty seats left anyway. She paid for her food and hurried to the chair before anyone else could take it.

After a few bites, her ears pricked up at the mentions of familiar names.

“I don’t get why Morrigan just can’t be the queen. Like, she’s a hot badass.”

“Anora is the only queen for me. I became king my first playthrough.”

Then she heard Chris’ voice. “My elf had bigger problems. Like saving the world. I didn’t care who ruled.”

Ashley tapped her foot. It was a favorite game of hers, and it took everything not to turn around and join in. She took a bite of an apple and tried to let the crunching drown them out.

“I just hate that Morrigan had to get pregnant. Like what a fucking shitty way to destroy her badassery.”

“I didn’t even get it. What the fuck did it do?”

“Sucked out the Archdemon’s soul or something.”

She couldn’t take it anymore and spun around in her chair. “Did you even play the game? It would have prevented the Grey Warden or your character from dying because the soul of the archdemon would have jumped into her demon darkspawn-tainted human hybrid baby making it a god. How the hell does that destroy her being a badass?”

All five guys turned to look at her and she felt her whole body warm up anxiously. She could feel Chris’ eyes boring into her, and she became even more self-conscious than she’d felt before. Even Josh was there, looking at her like she had five heads.

“Sorry,” she muttered before turning around.

But one of the other boys at the table challenged her. “And how did you end it? Happily ever after with Zeveran, or you and Alistair on the throne?”

Ashley scoffed. “My elf mage convinced Alistair to stay with the wardens and then sacrificed herself at the end. She also killed Zeveran because she didn’t want to take the risk that some plot wouldn’t make him turn on her. And it didn’t, because he was dead. Anora made a good queen because even though her father was a traitor, she was smart. Oh, and Morrigan will leave you before the final battle if you don’t impregnate her with a demon spawn. Sorry to disappoint you.”

“How many playthroughs have you done?” Chris asked curiously. There was no challenge, unlike the others.

“Two. I’m on my third, but I took a break while we’re getting back into school.”

“Have you seen the trailer for the new one?”

“Obviously!” she laughed. Chris chuckled with her and she felt less nervous.

“Hey,” Josh called to her. He looked between her and Chris before scooting his chair over. “Ashley, sit with us. Pete is having a hard time in the Circle.”

She hesitated, but could see that most of them didn’t seem to mind. Only one of the boys looked like he didn’t want her there. Chris pulled an empty chair over to him. She put her tray down, grabbed her bag and eagerly took the seat.

“Okay,” Ashley said, all too excited. “I assume you don’t mean the Harrowing that’s three seconds into the Mage story…”