September 12, 2015 by Lyn
And I need some good girl in front of me baby
You drivin’ me crazy, yeah
She got it written on her
“The first thing you need to know about the Idu a’Iduþin is the manner in which its alphabet functions,” Professor Drake lectured. He was holding Shahin’s hands, turning them over and then back again to study the blue-ice-like characters etched into her wrists. “There are fifteen major and eleven minor characters, each of which serves as a letter sound, as in the Roman alphabet. Each of the major characters also serves as a word-meaning in itself, which can be modified by each of the minor characters in eleven different manners. Used such it is called the High Alphabet (although it is technically a logography), while using the letter sounds is considered the Low Alphabet.”
Shahin blinked, struggling to follow along. He had to be a joy to have as a teacher.
“The interesting thing about your markings-” he actually sounded interested, now “-is that they have meaning in both the High and Low Alphabets.”
“Oh?” She’d lived with these marking for years now. She’s always known they had meaning, but had always been more than a little afraid, considering the nature of her visions, to find out exactly what she’d inked into herself. If the professor hadn’t claimed her hands, she would have clung to Emrys. Instead, she simply looked at him, hoping he could offer some non-snide support.
His attention was focused on the professor, not meeting her gaze. “So what things do they mean?”
The professor kept his eyes on Shahin, even while answering Emrys’ question. “In the Low Alphabet, they translate to two words . The one on her right wrist is ‘Oseraei.’”
Emrys gulped, nodding slowly. “And the left?”
“Well, it’s an interesting word. Words, rather. If you read it from this point, it means ‘that which will come;’ if you read it from this point-” with each point, he tapped her wrist, once at the top, once at the bottom – “it means ‘that which has already been.’ I don’t suppose you’ve read a lot of T.H. White, or Tolkien?”
“The Once and Future King?” Emrys scoffed.
“Or ‘The Return of the First.’” Drake raised an eyebrow at Shahin.
“Well, I’ve read them,” she demurred, “but not until high school. After the visions.” She spared a frustrated glare for Emrys for his complete lack of helping.
“So does that mean, she’s supposed to be…?”
“The returned gods? I doubt it,” he scoffed.
“You two are so very pleasant.”
“Sorry, this is just… gods, I don’t even know.”
“Pretty strange? Yes. I thought you’d had time to get used to the weirdness of this place?”
“There’s weird, and then there’s weird.”
“Well, welcome to my weird.”
“I guess so,” he smiled ruefully. “So, Professor? You said there was a second meaning?”
“You two fence so beautifully,” Drake smirked. “but yes. The other meaning is more complex.” He cleared his throat.
“‘Come now, ye bastards of the three and of the four, “‘Come, ye begat of ice, of fire, of earth and sky, “‘Stand firm, the storm is circling ‘round. “‘Stand together, against the crumbling ruins.’”
“That’s… yes, a bit more complex.”
Shahin couldn’t help smirking a little at that, as overwhelmed as she was.
“Ah, well, that probably means ‘halfbreeds.’”
“Technically, almost everyone here is a bastard.”
“And a halfbreed,” the professor pointed out helpfully.
“At least you know who your father is,” Shahin complained.
“Some help that is,” Emrys snorted.
“My father’s nothing to be proud of.”
“So. I have a prophecy on my wrists.” She looked down at them. ”Or a warning, or some poetry. In a language I don’t know.”
“And it seems to like me, too.”
“Well, you’re so likable.”
“Think it means anything, the way it matched us?” Emrys looked from Shahin to Drake. “We’ve seen Changes affect multiple people before…”
The professor nodded slowly. “As with Mabina and Cassidy, yes. It’s certainly a possibility. Have you experienced any other supernatural signs of connection?”
“Aside from those connected with Belonging, no.” He glanced at Shahin.
“That’s not true,” she shook her head. “That first night at the dance. That wasn’t just, ah, hormones.”
“What exactly did you feel?”
She looked at him with some consternation. She’d believed for weeks that he’d felt it, too.
She voiced that, not sure she wanted to answer more if he hadn’t. “I thought you felt it.”
“We may not have experienced the same things, and that could be important now.”
“Heat. Fire. Lust,” she admitted ruefully. ”More of any of those than I’ve ever felt.”
“Similar, but I didn’t attribute it to magic.”
She shakes her head. “You’re always warm. But not like that. And there were visions… but there’s so often visions.”
He nods. “I seem to feature prominently in those, lately.”
“In my visions? When I’m touching you, yes. And I touch you more than anyone else.”
“I think it might be time to consult with Pelletier.”
“I think ceasing having a private conversation in front of your Mentor might be polite.” She nodded at Drake. “Thank you, sir.”
“Do let me know what you discover.” It was clearly a dismissal, and she didn’t mind at all. She re-gloved herself and offered Emrys her hand. He took it, leading her out of the office.
“So…” she began, as they headed through the halls. He didn’t pick up the conversation thread, so she continued. “Thoughts?”
“Still working on this one. I haven’t seen anything quite like this.”
“That’s a bit of a relief.”
“New isn’t necessarily good.”
“No, it’s not. But you’re a bit insufferable when you know what’s going on.”
“Well, excuse me for having a clue.”
“The moment you excuse me for having been kept in the dark,” she retorted.
“I do remember what that was like, actually.”
She swallowed a snappish reply and, instead, kissed him. It seemed the safest course of action.
He stopped walking, turning in the hall to kiss her back.
The kiss turned from a light peck into something intense; she grabbed his shoulders and then, driven to be touching him skin-on-skin, wrapped her fingers around the back of his neck. The lines on her wrists blazed brightly, shining through her mitts, lighting her nerves on fire. It was hellish, but strangely pleasurable, a five-alarm chili sort of kiss. She didn’t pull back until her fingers began to freeze.
“Wow,” he breathed softly as they disengaged.
“Oh, yes.” Clouds of condensation formed between them with her breath. “Tell me that’s natural.”
“Um, I don’t think so.”
“I agree.” She flexed her hands ruefully. “Ow. But so worth it.”
“Pelletier should be able to tell us more. She knows a lot of theoretical stuff.”
“I believe that’s where we were heading, yes?”
“And here we are, even.”
She looked behind him at the placard on the door. “Ah, yes, we are. Mind knocking?”
He knocked twice, waiting for the response, which came almost before he was done: “come in!”
Emrys opened the door, holding it for Shahin.
She walked in to the office, which appeared at first glance to be horribly cluttered, and at second glance to be very tidy, but incredibly full of things, some of them very strange. Professor Pelletier sat at her desk, an ancient, handwritten book in what looked like Old Tongue open on her desk.
“Well, that’s a promising start,” Emrys murmured.
Shahin coughed. “Professor Drake told you we were coming?”
“Mmm? No, I just had a feeling I’d need this. How can I help you two?”
“Shirt,” Shahin murmured to Emrys.
He pulled his shirt up again, watching the professor’s expression go from concern to mild dismay to shock. “Oh, my. Emrys, you have Old Tongue in your tattoos.”
“Yes, I know. And I’m not thrilled about what it says.”
Shahin peeled her gloves off while they talked.
“So you’ve had Drake translate it – them – no, it, it’s the same thing, isn’t it? – then?”
“Yes. But we’re still not sure what it actually means.”
“Also, I need a Mentor, please.” Before the professor could respond, Shahin relayed the story and the dual meaning of her tattoos.
“Ah, ah yes.” She looked thoughtfully at Emrys. “So very interesting. And you two are, I take it, together?”
“For the moment.”
“For the moment?”
“This week,” she clarified, “I Own him. Last week, it was the other way around. Next week is still up for negotiation.” She glanced at him as she said that. Was it, really? Since he’d gotten his hooks right into her womb?
He just smiled in that infuriating way he had, and nodded at Pelletier. “We hoped you might be able to shed some light on whether this implied a deeper connection. Drake referenced Mabina and Cassidy’s condition…”
“While that could be a possibility,” she hrmmed, “neither Mabina and Cassidy, nor the other couple I know like them, exhibit quite so much animosity. Also, in both cases, they Changed at once. I suspect that this indicates a connection, certainly, but it’s unlikely the two of you will start breathing in synch.
“However,” she continued, just as Shahin was starting to relax, “the message marking itself into both of you would suggest that you’d better get used to each other’s company. I think you’re stuck together.”
She looked back at him, at his exasperating smile. “For how long?”
“Well – and this means more with you and I than with normal people – I’d say for the foreseeable future.” She didn’t look away from Emrys. She wanted to see what he felt about this.
He just nodded slowly, though the smile was gone. “Well, we had some plans for the immediate future, at least.”
“No,” she retorted crisply, “we have a coming baby. That may have been your plan, but it’s not a plan we have.”
“So you’re saying we shouldn’t plan for it now?”
“No,” she shook her head. “We should. We should figure out what it is we want to do. For however long it looks like we’re going to be together… which looks like sometime past the end of the world.”
“I’m not sure we need to plan quite that far ahead already. Maybe we should plan the rest of this year, first, and see how we do with that.”
“Eighteen years.” She snapped the words out, aware Professor Pelletier was listening and not really caring.
“We don’t have to plan for the rest of the world. But we do have to figure out at least long enough to raise this baby.”
“That’s not eighteen years. When he’s old enough, he’ll come here. I’m still not eighteen, and it’s not my first year. You’re certainly not.”
“Come here…?” She glanced at the professor, who nodded mutely. Another nail, damnit. She could argue about that later. “Sixteen years, then. Or, if you prefer, one year, with an ‘and then what?’ clause.”