Chapter 42: Arnbjorg

Thursday, January 25

Arnbjörg was lying on Jaya’s bed, studying, or at least looking at her book, and she was humming.  Much to her surprise, she found she was in a good mood.

She shouldn’t be.  Not after that scene in the lunch room – murder?  A Keeper getting herself murdered?

Doug had grunted at her when she asked.  Jaya hadn’t known anything, and had looked, Arnbjörg thought, quite worried.  It wasn’t like Arnbjörg was going to murder any – well, she wasn’t going to murder Jaya.  

Everybody was muttering about it, but nobody seemed to know any more than she did, which was novel.  Maybe that’s why she was in a good mood.

Maybe it was the way Jaya and Sheba had stood up for her  – had stood with her.  Even though none of her half-siblings were talking to her, at least she knew that her girlfriend’s crew had her back.  And that – that warm feeling of not alone – was enough to carry her over quite a few problems, even the thorny one of who had gotten murdered.

Especially since the closest she’d gotten to being yelled at was Jaya suggesting – in front of Sheba, but still! – “next time, let us know first?  Callista’s had some issues and we could’ve let you know what you were getting into.”

That was worth a while of good feelings.

Heck, that might last her until the holidays.

“Magnolia! Mags, I’m going to have a baby!”

The door to the common room was propped open, and Zita, Zita was running through the room very excitedly.  Arna could just catch a couple glimpses of the tiny woman throwing herself into a flying hug at Magnolia.

A baby.  Arnbjörg tried to focus on her book.  A baby.  They were teenagers.  Zita was a lesbian teenager.  

History was not being all that interesting. History ought to be interesting.  It was done, nobody could tell it anything.  She couldn’t even tell it no.  “No,” she whispered at the page, but the book was still a book.

She was sort of worried if she tried that too hard, she might make something disappear, and she was pretty sure Jaya would be a little miffed if Arnbjörg made the bed go away.

“No,” she whispered again, but history remained inviolate, or, at least, the way it had been written down didn’t change.

“…I wanted to be able to help someone, and she told us to go talk to Dr. Caitrin because Dr. Caitrin needed a girl to-”

She gritted her teeth.  She was a lesbian teenager pregnant because someone needed a girl who…  “No,” she told the book again.

The book did not care.  If only she had a sibling here to punch, but Jaya was out and there was nobody here she could get violent with

All right, so.”  The worst part was, Magnolia didn’t even sound upset, or worried, or anything else.  She sounded happy.  This was insane. “Luke and you are having a baby?”

Wait, what?

“I’m being adoptive mother and surrogate for unnamed baby sh’Juniper out of Luke,” Zita explained, her voice suddenly careful and precise.

…What? Arna sat up.

“Oh!  Oh, poor Juniper, her!  Oh, good for you, miss Zita!”

“And I asked for Luke because oh man, I am so jealous of everyone who got wings, you have no idea. He made the funniest face.”

Made a funny face but said yes, obviously.  What the fuck was going on with this school?  Arna stalked over to the door, trying to be quiet, needing to have it shut.  She was going to scream at someone.  She was going to shout no until the whole damn place exploded.  She was going to stomp out of here and ask Luke what the hell he was thinking!

“…But, this doesn’t count towards your two, does it?”

Magnolia sounded worried.  No, concerned.  Towards your two.

“Nah.”  Zita sounded neither of those things. “But I don’t think Leo or Cya are getting their first this year, either, so I’m not really running behind.”

Running behind.  Arnbjörg shut the door carefully, quietly.  She stared at the back of the door.

The teenaged lesbian was pregnant, happy about it, and figured her friends weren’t going to have – two.  Two babies?  No, that couldn’t be.  This place was a prison, it wasn’t a- a-

Aelfgar’s this warrior.  Big blonde guy.  Lot of kids.  You, Aelgifu, Yngvi, uh, Leofric – that one you were fighting – Ragnvaldr, uh, couple kids’re his grandkids too.

If she was going to start a breeding project – not that she would; that was creepy – but if she was, she’d start with parents that had traits she wanted.

Like how nobody could miss how much Shahin, Emrys, Mea, and Ambrose looked suspiciously similar.

“Fuck.”  She stared at the wall.

Zita was so happy!  She was happy and she was part of a giant breeding project.

And Arnbjörg’s girlfriend sometimes had a penis.

There were more pieces, she knew there had to be more pieces, but there was enough there that she already wanted to punch someone.

If she went out into the common room right now, she was going to yell at Zita.  Zita, of all people, did not deserve that.  She deserved someone being nice and kind to her.  She deserved to be happy.

Her Keeper, on the other hand, who had probably helped set this up, the way Keepers could be around here…  She deserved a punch in the nose.

Arnbjörg sat down heavily.  This place!  Every time she thought she’d come to the edge of how fucked up it could be, it slapped her in the face with yet more awful.

“I don’t want kids.”  She said it to the wall, as if the wall was listening. “I have absolutely no intention of ever having children.  I do not want to be part of a breeding program.  I don’t care who my father was, he’s not a real person anyway.  He was never part of my life.  My sister and brothers are kind of jerks.  Well, at least some of them.  There’s no connection to that family.  I don’t want KIDS!”

The last was almost a shout.  And it was punctuated by the door behind her closing very quietly.

Shit.  Shit, she hadn’t even heard Jaya coming in.  Shit. “I don’t want kids,” she said again, “and I have absolutely no idea how you could think that was okay to keep from me!  Zita’s pregnant, but it ‘won’t count towards her two’.  What the hell?  Do you have your two already?  Were you going to, I don’t know, knock me up?  What is going on in this shithole of a school?  What is going on with us?  What is going on in this fucked up suite?”

“Do you want me to answer?” Jaya asked softly.

“Yes!  Yes, I mean, something, please?  This is… How the hell could you not tell me?  Is this more of that ‘oh, I didn’t want to upset you?’”

Jaya leaned back against the wall. “I couldn’t tell you at first.  Geasa.  All the fucking geasa.  And, well.  I have my two… and I figured we had a while to figure out how to make Regine change her mind for you.”

“You you don’t even want kids with me? Wait, how do you already have two?  You’re only second year!”

“My Keeper was a hermaphrodite, too, remember?”  Jaya put her hands over her face. “Arna, I don’t want to fight with you. I don’t like fighting with you.  Is it any wonder that something that I thought you’d hate and could easily make not apply to you for this year, I didn’t tell you?”

“But you think it’s okay?  You already have kids?”

“I was Kept,”  Jaya hollered.  “How much choice do you think I – no, you know what?  Never mind.”  She shook her head.  “I said I didn’t want to fight.  You don’t have any interest in not fighting.  I’m sorry this school is a hellhole, I’m sorry it’s the sort of place where people get murdered, but I didn’t make it that way.  I’ve been doing my damndest to protect you from the worse of it.  So may, I don’t know, cut me some slack?”  She threw her hands up in the air.  “Or don’t.  Murder me, I guess, if you want.  I don’t know.  Just… I’m sick of fighting.  And that’s all you seem to have any interest in.”  

Arnbjörg struggled again the weight of guilt pinning her down. “I-” she whispered.  “I just.. it … it makes me so angry.”

Much to her mortification, she burst into tears.  Much to her humiliated gratitude, Jaya hurried over and hugged her, cuddling her close.

“I know, love,” Jaya whispered.  “I know.  But we’ve just to to bear in there, all right? Just bear in there, and we’ll get through it together.”

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