April 25, 2013 by Lyn
Wednesday, March 31, 2004 – after Chapter 33.
Kay could talk to people.
It took a couple days to figure this out, really figure this out, but once it sunk in, she decided she was going to talk to everyone in the school.
The first person she ran into after that declaration was Arundel, wide eagle wings and an absolutely amazing smile. He was Keeping Timora with the blue horse ears – but Kat didn’t want to be his girlfriend or his Kept. She just wanted to talk.
“Hi.” She walked up to him and looked Up at him. He wasn’t a giant, but she wasn’t exactly tall. At least, unlike Miryam, she hadn’t lost height in her Change.
“Hi.” He smiled down at her. “You’re Timora’s friend, aren’t you? Kat?”
“Kay.” She hadn’t known she was Timora’s friend, but she liked that better than Agra’s Kept or even Agra’s former Kept. “Yeah. That’s me.”
“You got free.” He was still smiling, but his wings were making a bit of a wind. “That doesn’t normally happen.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed. I guess I’m an anomaly.” Did she know anything about him? He was Keeping Timora, but she seemed happy enough – for all that she never talked. He was in a crew with Porter and Sylvia, a crew that, to quote Kendon, had more Kept per capita than they had any right to. Maybe he didn’t like the status quo being upset.
Maybe talking to people was a bad idea.
Then the eagle boy smiled. “Hey, that’s a good thing.” He flapped his wings a little bit more, this time clearly showing off. “Or so I’ve been told. Good luck with that.”
“Thanks. I might need it.”
“Hey, around here, everyone can use a little bit of luck.” He waved at someone over her head. “Hey, Porter! Wait up!”
Well, that had gone… well? Kay really wasn’t sure. She wandered around until she ran into someone else.
Nilam. She had one class with him – Literature – and had talked to him way back in the first week. Now his eyes were dark and he looked as if the entire world made him uncomfortable.
“Hey.” She didn’t even know what she was going to say. From the look on his face, maybe she shouldn’t even try.
“Hi.” He didn’t seem happy to be talking to her. His lips were scrunched up, his chin was down, and his shoulders were up.
“Should I leave you alone?” She didn’t want to run him into any bad orders. She knew first-hand how much that sucked.
“I don’t know.” His shoulders bobbed more. “What do you want?”
He’s not being rude, she reminded herself. He’s dealing with orders, the same as anyone under a collar.
It didn’t make it sting that much less. She took a deep breath, and thought about soothing things, calming things. “I just wanted to say hi. Because I can, I suppose.”
Nilam smiled at her, a cautious turn-up of the lips that didn’t really reach his eyes. “Agravain released you?”
“He did. I think he got bored.” It wasn’t a lie, not really. It still made her feel guilty when he winced in sympathy.
“Nilam!” Margherita rescued them from an increasingly-uncomfortable conversation. “I need you.”
“I’ve got to…” He gestured, a short thing, just a couple fingers flicked in his Keeper’s direction.
“It’s all right. I’ll talk to you later.” Maybe next year.
She could talk to Margherita. She could also not talk to Margherita. She liked that idea better.
Efrosin was standing in the corner of the Dining Hall, looking a little bit lost. Kay looked around; oh, there was Pania, talking to Æowyn, Ahouva, and Jovanna. Hunh.
Well, Efrosin didn’t seem like a bad sort. She could talk to him.
“Hello.” Nobody could be offended by hello, could they?
Not Efrosin, it appeared. “Hi.” He had a wide, welcoming smile. “You’re… you’re not, anymore, are you? How’d you work that one out?”
Kay was sick of talking about that. It still made her feel weird, like she’d done something more clever than she had, or far less clever, or something.
Instead of answering, she stuck her hand out. “Hi. I’m Akaterina cy’Maureen. My friends call me Kay.”
That was either going to irritate the hell out of him or – he grinned, phew, and shook her hand. “Hi, Kay. I’m Efrosin cy’Solomon. My friends call me Efro. How are you liking our fine school so far?”
“The magic classes are pretty cool,” she allowed. “Does it get easier, once you’re not…”
“Not a first-year? I had a pretty cheaterly first year, because my big sisters were both here and pretty much threw me into their crew. But from what I’ve seen from most people, yeah. After your first year, it gets a lot more smooth in the sailing.”
“I’m glad.” She tugged on her ear a bit. “The whole fae-and-magic thing is overwhelming enough on its own.”
“Yeah, I remember that.” He tugged on his own cat-like ear. “’Oh, by the way, you have magic, and so does everyone else here. Have a twenty-page paper on the history of the United Kingdom while you figure out how to Tuapeka your Unutu.”
“Exactly!” He was really easy to talk to. He already had a Kept, though, didn’t he? Was she really contemplating choosing a new Keeper?
Kay coughed. Not right now, she wasn’t. “But, I mean, the classes aren’t bad. I really wish they had some sort of sports, or something…”
She surprised herself. She hadn’t said that out loud in months. Not since Agravain had laughed at her about it.
Efrosin just looked sad. “Hey, nobody told you that Doug does some of that?”
She hadn’t really been allowed to talk to Doug. She shook her head no and hoped that was enough of an answer.
“Hrm. You should talk to him.” He took her arm, paused, and released it, holding his hands up. “I apologize. Bad touch?”
Kay coughed to cover up a laugh. “Bad touch? No, no, that’s fine.” She patted his arm in the same place he’d grabbed hers. “I don’t mind, really.”
“Oh, good.” He replaced his hand on her arm. “Some people here, especially after they get-un-collared -”
“I can imagine.” Kay cut him off, not even feeling bad about it. She really didn’t want to hear more about that. “Where are we going?”
“Where are you going?” Porter walked up to them, frowning. “I’m sure the lady can handle herself, Efrosin.”
“Oh, relax, man.” Both of them were bristling, and both were trying to pretend they weren’t. “She said it was fine. I asked.”
“And do you think she meant it?”
“Down, kitties.” Kay put her free hand on Porter’s arm. “Hey, I don’t even really know you, fedora-boy.”
“Do you know him?”
“Slightly better than I know you.” She found she was bristling, which surprised her more than it seemed to surprise either of them. “And I know that I was fine before you walked up.”
“Hey, hey.” Porter held up both hands. “I’m just trying to help. I know Efrosin can get a wee bit-”
“A wee bit what, tiger-boy?” Now Efrosin was snarling. Kay really wanted to run away.
“A wee bit heavy-handed. And for all I know, you’re looking to expand your stable.”
Kat found that the more Efrosin snarled, the more Porter explained, the more she felt like growling and showing teeth. “And if he is?”
“Well, I assumed since you had just gotten free of the collar…”
“I thought, once I wasn’t collared anymore, people would look at something other than my throat.” She glared at both of them. Efrosin took his life in his hands by laughing.
“She’s got you there, Porter. Akaterina – Kay – if you would like, I’ll go with you to talk to Doug. I think he’d enjoy teaching you.”
As fast as her temper had risen, it suddenly subsided. “I’d like that. I’d like to be able to defend myself.”
“This way, then.” He offered her his arm, leaving Porter sputtering and confused.
This story was written as a writing exchange with Wysteria.
I am dreadfully behind; there will be a guest story up later tonight or tomorrow, and some back-bonus story, etc. Stay tuned for the next chapter next Wednesday and, again, my apologies!
For every $5US donated, I will write 300 words on the character or situation of your choice. In addition, every donation will bring you to a small snippet of story – a new snippet every Wednesday! Want more?