Chapter 59: Abednego

Saturday, April 7, 2001

He woke next to Rafe.

He did, sometimes.  More often these days than before.  He’d looked at Rafe and said, more honestly than he’d really wanted to be, “I hate sleeping on the floor.  It’s cold, and it’s hard, and the dog bed is even worse.  Do you think I could sleep in the bed?”

It was a trade-off, because he got to be warm, and he got to have something soft under him where he could stretch out – Addergoole must either invest in quality mattresses, or have someone somewhere in a basement muttering “Meentik Unutu mattress” over and over again, and he wouldn’t put either of those by Regine. – but he got cuddled.

Rafe, it turned out, was a cuddler. Continue reading Chapter 59: Abednego

Chapter 58: Arnbjörg

Friday, April 6, 2001

“Good.”  Doug nodded at Arnbjörg.  “Much better.  Focused.”

Arnbjörg bowed back, trying to hide a smile.  “Thank you, sir.”  Much better was practically shouted praise from Doug.  She was getting better.  Focused!  “I’ve been practicing.”

“On?”  There was a challenge in his question.

“Oh, just the air.  Jaya doesn’t really want me getting into fights…”

She didn’t like admitting that.  She sounded – well, she sounded controlled, which was accurate, as such things went.  She was controlled. She ran her hand over her necklace.  She was owned.  And with everything else going on, nobody seemed to think being owned was even weird, as long as you weren’t badly owned.

“She doesn’t like the fuss, I guess?”  she added lamely.  Doug had this habit of making you want to fill in the silences. Continue reading Chapter 58: Arnbjörg

Chapter 57: Leofric

Tuesday, April 3, 2001

Leofric had a plan.

He’d come up with it the past weekend, keeping it to himself – even if his Keeper seemed lax and helpful now, Leofric knew that the only way to be sure your Keeper wouldn’t tell you not to do something is if she– he didn’t know it was a thing in the first place.

Of course, Aviv hadn’t told him not to try to escape. He’d just said there wasn’t a way, while Leo felt along the boundary at the edge of “outside”.

Outside. Leofric had almost forgotten what it felt like, being outside. He hadn’t realized there was an outside they could get to, but then there it was, through a hidden invisible door, his Keeper leading him out and into the sun and sky and fresh air and letting him run. Even if there wasn’t a place he could run to, or a direction he could take to run away, he could still run. Continue reading Chapter 57: Leofric

Interlude: Eriko

Eriko had made a mistake.

She wouldn’t ever admit it to anyone – it would make her look bad, making stupid mistakes like that – but after the third time some thing had written all over her room, or angry voices yelled at her from the walls, she’d had to admit that maybe, just maybe her former Kept hadn’t been pranking her the whole time.

Eriko would have scoffed at the idea of ghosts and poltergeists before – there were no such thing as ghosts. But there were no such thing as fairies and elves to the rest of the world, either. Down in this school, maybe there was such a thing. Continue reading Interlude: Eriko

Interlude: Magnolia

“So, Magnolia.  Have you thought about what you want to do when you leave here?”

Professor VanderLinden had its professional face on: pleasant, smooth, no flirtation even suggested.

Magnolia was not impressed.  “I don’t know,” she snapped.  “Are you ever gonna let me leave?”

“You’re not still mad at me over that, are you?”  He almost sounded pleading.

“You flunked me!  You held me back a year!” Continue reading Interlude: Magnolia

Thanksgiving: Half A Billion Turkeys

Thanksgiving Day, Year 6

“Do you think anyone will show up?”

“Kaia, you invited half the school.  I’m sure someone will come.”

“I hope someone shows up…”  Kailani frowned at the tables.  “I wanted…”

“I know.”  Conrad patted her shoulder.  “I don’t think families would have worked.  I think this’ll be better.  Even if it’s only four or five people, everything smells delicious.  It’ll be fine.” Continue reading Thanksgiving: Half A Billion Turkeys

Chapter 56: Cynara

Friday, March 23, 2001

Leo was back.

No.  No, someone in Leo’s body was back.

Someone with Leo’s hair and Leo’s sparks and Leo’s little spikes of antlers was in the suite.  He Belonged to Aviv, now, because — as Cya understood it, as Zita had explained — Sheba had passed him on to Lydia, because Sheba had never intended to Keep him, just to get him away from Eriko.  

Lydia’s boyfriend had been Kept with Aviv, which was generally understood to be something like a bond. And from what she’d heard — it was amazing what people would say around you if you closed down enough that they forgot you were a person — about why Lydia… why she gave him to Aviv, Cya got the feeling that Leo had no intention of ever being a good Kept again. Except, looking at him, she wasn’t always sure that he had any volition left for intention Continue reading Chapter 56: Cynara

Chapter 55: Abednego

Thursday, March 22, 2001

The weirdest thing, Abednego thought, was that he would run into an order he didn’t remember having anymore.  He’d look up to say something and remember oh, yeah.  That was only lifted for Joff.  I can’t speak to Eris still.  Or he’d think about going to the bathroom and stop, not because there was an order, but because his entire body clenched at the idea of doing that without permission.

And weirder was the way Rafe handled it.  If he said something in private, Rafe acted surprised.  If he said something in public, Rafe acted horrified and embarrassed and – scared, he acted scared.

Abednego had no idea what was going on, but he could make the asshole who Owned him scared.   He thought that was pretty cool, on some level. Continue reading Chapter 55: Abednego

Chapter 54: Arnbjörg

Saturday, March 17, 2001

Arnbjörg was sweaty, frozen, exhausted, bruised, and happier than she’d been in weeks.  Doug had taken his little cy’ree outside for sparring and they’d all gotten a chance​ to practice their innate powers and how they interacted with magic.  “Next year,” he’d told the first-year students, “we can try a real hunt.  Maybe this summer.”

A real hunt.  A real hunt, with real monsters she was actually allowed to fight, with creatures she was allowed to kill.  Arnbjörg had never killed anything bigger than a mouse, and that had been almost an accident.  She wondered what it would be like to kill a monster, a real bad guy.

“Hey, bitch.  You know what happens to bitches who don’t know their place?” Continue reading Chapter 54: Arnbjörg

Chapter 53: Leofric

Thursday, March 15, 2001

Kendo lessons were still a high point of Leofric’s week. Practicing with his cy’ree was one thing, and he did like it, but it was… it was complicated. There was the issue of “is it okay to hit someone’s Kept” some people couldn’t get past, and the funny looks when his collar changed, and…

Kendo, on the other hand, was just him and Luke. He could change into his uniform, focus on the techniques, and just forget about everything else for a little while. Even showering and changing in the empty locker room afterwards was strangely soothing; it had the same feeling as kendo, of something that hadn’t been… tainted, by the dark corruption magic he could see creeping through the school, some days. Continue reading Chapter 53: Leofric