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CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

I WATCH TOBIAS’S face carefully as we walk to the dining hall, searching for any sign of disappointment. We spent the two hours lying on his bed, talking and kissing and eventually dozing until we heard shouts in the hallway—people on their way to the banquet.

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If anything, he seems lighter now than he was before. He smiles more, anyway.

When we reach the entrance, we separate. I go in first, and run to the table I share with Will and Christina. He enters second, a minute later, and sits down next to Zeke, who hands him a dark bottle. He waves it away.

“Where did you go?” asks Christina. “Everyone else went back to the dormitory. ”

“I just wandered around,” I say. “I was too nervous to talk to everyone else about it. ”

“You have no reason to be nervous,” Christina says, shaking her head. “I turned around to talk to Will for one second, and you were already done. ”

I detect a note of jealousy in her voice, and again, I wish I could explain that I was well prepared for the simulation, because of what I am. Instead I just shrug.

“What job are you going to pick?” I ask her.

“I’m thinking I might want a job like Four’s. Training initiates,” she says. “Scaring the living daylights out of them. You know, fun stuff. What about you?”

I was so focused on getting through initiation that I barely thought about it. I could work for the Dauntless leaders—but they would kill me if they discover what I am. What else is there?

“I guess…I could be an ambassador to the other factions,” I say. “I think being a transfer would help me. ”

“I was so hoping you would say Dauntless-leader-in-training,” sighs Christina. “Because that’s what Peter wants. He couldn’t shut up about it in the dorm earlier. ”

“And it’s what I want,” adds Will. “Hopefully I ranked higher than him…oh, and all the Dauntless-born initiates. Forgot about them. ” He groans. “Oh God. This is going to be impossible. ”

“No, it isn’t,” she says. Christina reaches for his hand and laces her fingers with his, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Will squeezes her hand.

“Question,” says Christina, leaning forward. “The leaders who were watching your fear landscape…they were laughing about something. ”

“Oh?” I bite my lip hard. “I’m glad my terror amuses them. ”

“Any idea which obstacle it was?” she asks.

“No. ”

“You’re lying,” she says. “You always bite the inside of your cheek when you lie. It’s your tell. ”

I stop biting the inside of my cheek.

“Will’s is pinching his lips together, if it makes you feel better,” she adds.

Will covers his mouth immediately.

“Okay, fine. I was afraid of…intimacy,” I say.

“Intimacy,” repeats Christina. “Like…sex?”

I tense up. And force myself to nod. Even if it was just Christina, and no one else was around, I would still want to strangle her right now. I go over a few ways to inflict maximum injury with minimum force in my head. I try to throw flames from my eyes.

Will laughs.

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“What was that like?” she says. “I mean, did someone just…try to do it with you? Who was it?”

“Oh, you know. Faceless…unidentifiable male,” I say. “How were your moths?”

“You promised you would never tell!” cries Christina, smacking my arm.

“Moths,” repeats Will. “You’re afraid of moths?”

“Not just a cloud of moths,” she says, “like…a swarm of them. Everywhere. All those wings and legs and…” She shudders and shakes her head.

“Terrifying,” Will says with mock seriousness. “That’s my girl. Tough as cotton balls. ”

“Oh, shut up. ”

A microphone squeals somewhere, so loud I clap my hands over my ears. I look across the room at Eric, who stands on one of the tables with the microphone in hand, tapping it with his fingertips. After the tapping is done and the crowd of Dauntless is quiet, Eric clears his throat and begins.

“We aren’t big on speeches here. Eloquence is for Erudite,” he says. The crowd laughs. I wonder if they know that he was an Erudite once; that under all the pretense of Dauntless recklessness and even brutality, he is more like an Erudite than anything else. If they did, I doubt they would laugh at him. “So I’m going to keep this short. It’s a new year, and we have a new pack of initiates. And a slightly smaller pack of new members. We offer them our congratulations. ”

At the word “congratulations” the room erupts, not into applause, but into the pounding of fists on tabletops. The noise vibrates in my chest, and I grin.

“We believe in bravery. We believe in taking action. We believe in freedom from fear and in acquiring the skills to force the bad out of our world so that the good can prosper and thrive. If you also believe in those things, we welcome you. ”

Even though I know Eric probably doesn’t believe in any of those things, I find myself smiling, because I believe in them. No matter how badly the leaders have warped the Dauntless ideals, those ideals can still belong to me.

More pounding fists, this time accompanied by whoops.

“Tomorrow, in their first act as members, our top ten initiates will choose their professions, in the order of how they are ranked,” Eric says. “The rankings, I know, are what everyone is really waiting for. They are determined by a combination of three scores—the first, from the combat stage of training; the second, from the simulation stage; and the third, from the final examination, the fear landscape. The rankings will appear on the screen behind me. ”

As soon as the word “me” leaves his mouth, the names appear on the screen, which is almost as large as the wall itself. Next to the number one is my picture, and the name “Tris. ”

A weight in my chest lifts. I didn’t realize it was there until it was gone, and I didn’t have to feel it anymore. I smile, and a tingling spreads through me. First. Divergent or not, this faction is where I belong.

I forget about war; I forget about death. Will’s arms wrap around me and he gives me a bear hug. I hear cheering and laughing and shouting. Christina points at the screen, her eyes wide and filled with tears.

1. Tris

2. Uriah

3. Lynn

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4. Marlene

5. Peter

Peter stays. I suppress a sigh. But then I read the rest of the names.

6. Will

7. Christina

I smile, and Christina reaches across the table to hug me. I am too distracted to protest against the affection. She laughs in my ear.

Someone grabs me from behind and shouts in my ear. It’s Uriah. I can’t turn around, so I reach back and squeeze his shoulder.

“Congratulations!” I shout.

“You beat them!” he shouts back. He releases me, laughing, and runs into a crowd of Dauntless-born initiates.

I crane my neck to look at the screen again. I follow the list down.

Eight, nine, and ten are Dauntless-borns whose names I barely recognize.

Eleven and twelve are Molly and Drew.

Molly and Drew are cut. Drew, who tried to run away while Peter held me by the throat over the chasm, and Molly, who fed the Erudite lies about my father, are factionless.

It isn’t quite the victory I wanted, but it’s a victory nonetheless.

Will and Christina kiss, a little too sloppily for my taste. All around me is the pounding of Dauntless fists. Then I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn to see Tobias standing behind me. I get up, beaming.

“You think giving you a hug would give away too much?” he says.

“You know,” I say, “I really don’t care. ”

I stand on my tiptoes and press my lips to his.

It is the best moment of my life.

A moment later, Tobias’s thumb brushes over the injection site in my neck, and a few things come together at once. I don’t know how I didn’t figure this out before.

One: Colored serum contains transmitters.

Two: Transmitters connect the mind to a simulation program.

Three: Erudite developed the serum.

Four: Eric and Max are working with the Erudite.

I break away from the kiss and stare wide-eyed at Tobias.

“Tris?” he says, confused.

I shake my head. “Not now. ” I meant to say not here. Not with Will and Christina standing a foot away from me—staring with open mouths, probably because I just kissed Tobias—and the clamor of the Dauntless surrounding us. But he has to know how important it is.

“Later,” I say. “Okay?”

He nods. I don’t even know how I’ll explain it later. I don’t even know how to think straight.

But I do know how Erudite will get us to fight.

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