August 3, 2016 by Lyn
This story takes place during the fourth week of the Addergoole School (after Book Four).
“All right.” Professor VanderLinden took a deep breath and a long swig of brandy. “It’s been a little while since I taught this. Centuries, actually,” he muttered under his breath. “The first thing to do is get a really, really good feeling for your base form. Strip down, look in the mirror, and memorize everything about yourself.
“Strip?” Jamian squeaked indignantly. “In front of…”
The professor shook his head, amused. “Kids these days.” He turned around ostentatiously, narrow back in his smoking robe to Jamian and the full-length mirror. “I’m your Mentor, aren’t I?” he called over his shoulder. “Strip.”
Mentor. He had a point. Jamian stripped off his clothes, keeping one eye on the professor’s back. “Do I really have to look at myself?” he asked plaintively. He had a lifetime of experience avoiding situations like this.
“All of yourself.” VanderLinden had sat down, back still Jamian, and was sipping the brandy and, it sounded like, reading a book. Jamian wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or indignant, so he settled on both.
“Why, again? I know what I look like.” Like a freak. Like a mistake of nature, with a tail and horns for good measure.
“What does your butt look like?”
“My butt?” He started to twist to look.
“Without looking.” He’d never heard Professor VanderLinden sound so bored and clinical about anything, certainly not a butt.
“Um… my boxers don’t quite lay flat, or they didn’t before, but there’s not much more than that. My hips are a bit wider than a boy’s should be, but not really curvy enough to be a girl’s.”
“Good start. Your calves? You can look now.”
He looked in the mirror. “Muscular. I did track in school – in my old school, I mean. I’m getting a bit out of condition now.”
“Track isn’t a bad idea,” the professor mused. “Maybe next semester; I’m sure you have enough on your plate right now.”
“Um, yeah. I think so.” He followed the line of his calves up to his thighs – they’d never gotten hairy enough to let him feel comfortable in shorts – and then further up. From this angle, he looked male enough. “Even that?” he muttered.
“You’d be surprised how strange it is to look down and see the wrong penis.”
The Jamian in the mirror blushed. “Oh. Well, all right.” He studied the organ for a moment, wondering at his mother’s decision not to have him circumcised – was it just because there was already such a mess down there? – and then let his eyes trail upwards. He should really call his mother. He’d barely even thought of her since coming here… “Do I have to memorize flaws?” he asked plaintively, his mind skittering away from the idea of telling his mother about this place.
“Only if you want to keep them,” VanderLinden answered placidly. “But if you’re talking about the mole on your stomach, I know for certain that Tya waxes poetic about it.”
“Ty… about my… really?” he sputtered. “Why?”
“I have no idea, but she is immensely fond of your stomach, and that mole. Probably best to keep it.”
“Hrmph.” It wasn’t that big a mole or anything, but it had always bugged him. “I guess if she really likes it… poetic, really?”
“With poems and everything. If you ask nicely, she might show you.”
“…oh.” The navel was fine, but the abs needed more definition. “I’ve never written her any poems.”
“Well, I am the literature professor, if you’d like some pointers.”
Jamian blinked. “You are, aren’t you?”
That got a long guffaw from behind him. “Well, yes. No wonder you haven’t been doing your homework.”
“I’ve been sort of busy,” he complained, flustered. “I mean, I know you’re the Lit professor, but sometimes it seems like there’s a big gap between, ah, ‘Mike’ and ‘Professor VanderLinden.'”
“Sometimes there is,” he admitted, “but I don’t think that there’s that wide a divide when I’m dealing with you.”
“I’m your only Daeva Student,” Jamian protested. Shouldn’t the gap be bigger, with another Daeva?
“Ah.” VanderLinden coughed. “True. And that does make things different. More traditional, I suppose… if you weren’t Kept.”
“Oh.” Jamian turned back to the exercise at hand, not really wanting to think too hard about “if you weren’t Kept” and how often he might be hearing that phrase this year. “So… spots and all, I think I’m good with how I look.”
“All right. Now. Focus on changing one thing. Probably not the mole… hair color is a good one. Put a robe on, if you want.”
A robe sounded like a wonderful idea. Jamian shrugged into the one waiting there on a hook, no longer surprised to find such things in his Mentor’s office, and tied the belt tightly. “Hair color?” The robe was a brilliant shade of emerald green, the sort of thing the redheads he knew would wear. He focused on his brown curls and thought about Ivette’s hair, and Kylie’s, and Kailani’s.
“Mm, just the hair.”
Just the… oh. He blushed yet again, and focused for the moment on making the large breasts vanish. “Is that just…”
“Focus and experience, yes. Although, as my maternal parent once said, once you decide to experiment with those body parts: ”Oh, my’ is acceptable; ‘Oh my dear Lord in heaven’ is probably not.'”
“Um.” Jamian studied the shrunken-but-still-there breasts. “More like this?”
“You could go another inch or two, probably. A little perkier; you look young, you want your breasts to, too.”
“I am young.”
“That’s relatively irrelevant. Appearance is everything. So, make them a little perkier…”
“I thought we were working on hair.”
“So did I, but you seem to have had other ideas. So pretty breasts it is.” The professor put his hands on Jamian’s shoulders, peeking around him to look in the mirror. “There, that’s it.”
“They look a little… understated.”
“They do, but trust me, they’d get your attention on someone else. So. Waistline a little slimmer…” His hands went to Jamian’s waist, pinching it in like a corset. Jamian sucked breath and focused on making his ribs and stomach smaller. “That’s it. Hips a bit… well, hippier. Not quite that much… there you go. And butt, here, turn around and look.”
Jamian turned in VanderLinden’s arms to study his – her, sort of – butt in the mirror, thinking about girls’ butts. There should be something there, for one, although the tail obscured the way the robe hung. Sort of like… “Like this?”
“Hrrm… pardon me.” Somehow, the professor managed to make groping Jamian’s ass clinical. “Just a little higher, a little rounder.” He pulled over a second mirror. “See?”
“Yeah…” That did it, even through the robe. “Um, could you…”
“Yes, although you’ll have to get over the body-shyness eventually.” VanderLinden turned his back, and Jamian dropped the robe to study his new butt.
“Can I change the tail and stuff?”
“Your horns won’t alter much, except with age – that’s how you can tell how old a Daeva is, by the way – but you can change your tail quite a bit. Narrower usually works better for a female form.”
“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.” He glanced at his horns, tiny sharp nubs, and the professor’s, which curled back along his head. “Like tree rings?”
“Except you don’t have to cut us open, yes. I’m turning back around.”
“Ack.” Jamian tugged his robe back around him as he tried to focus on narrowing his tail. “Why?”
“Because I got tired of looking at the wall. Now, your tail? Oh, my. Well, that’s narrower. Maybe a little less ratlike?”
“What… oh. Hunh.” This time, he had his mind in the right place, and the tail ended up sort of cat-tail-shaped. Cat… he’d been going for red hair, so he added red fur to the tail, and then looked back at his hair in the mirror.
Her hair in the mirror. With the hips and breasts, the fact that she still had a penis between her legs seemed a silly thing to hang a pronoun on. But the hair was still…
“Your hair,” the professor stated, distaste clear in his voice, “has always been sort of a bird’s-nest. If you’re going to be a girl, you should do something with it. Weren’t we going to turn it red, anyway?”
“Red,” Jamian nodded, running her hands through her hair. “Is it really… it really is.” He’d never cared much about it – he’d intentionally not cared too much about it, determined to be as boy-like as he could. But the professor was right; as a girl, she should have nicer hair. She finger-combed it some more, thinking about it longer, smoother. Kendra’s hair was nice, Marjolaine’s better. Mea did well with curls, and his hair seemed to want to stay curly.
She frowned at her image, thought about red, focused on auburn and carrot, long and pretty… and convinced her hair to grow long, down past her shoulders, down to her tail, further….
“Remember ‘Oh, my’ vs. ‘Oh, God,'” the professor interjected, sounding amused. Jamian coaxed her hair back to waist-length. “There. Better. I like what you’ve done with the curls, too. And color?”
Jamian shook her head. “I tried. I can lighten up the brown a little – she demonstrated – and I can get it darker – the curls went from ash-brown to chestnut – but it won’t go red.” She sulked at the mirror. Behind her, VanderLinden chuckled again.
“I’ve been a blonde for five hundred years, Jamian. There’s some things even a Daeva can’t change about themselves.”
“Then why did you ask me to try?” she snapped, and tried to get her hair to change again. It remained obstinately brown.
“Well,” the older Daeva admitted, “you’re a bit of a different case. It was always possible your shapeshifting would be different, too.”