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
Wednesday, February 14, 2001
Cynara sat in the living room of Dysmas’ crew’s suite. It was Valentine’s day; Dysmas had given her two wrist cuffs that matched the collar around her neck, delicate and silver. She’d smiled and thanked him sweetly and considered exactly how useful they would be if transmuted into a knife.
At least they hadn’t been hawthorn. She was pretty sure he couldn’t buy those in the store, and so far, all of her attempts to work with the wood in question had been lop-sided and awful. Rowan and hawthorn took time and more energy to Work, Professor Valerian had told her, and then, with arched eyebrows, asked why she needed them. Continue reading
Thursday, January 18, 2001
Thinking had taken a while.
Thinking about anything besides his orders, his classes, and homework was….
Professor Vanderlinden was dramatizing Brave New World at the head of the class and Leofric was attempting to keep up and take notes (don’t get me in trouble again, and if you start slacking off in classes the teachers will blame me) while Zita and Howard whispered to each other (don’t interfere with other people’s Kept, don’t draw attention to yourself, don’t speak unless spoken to, don’t cause trouble in class). The orders tugged at his mind, his actions, pushing him through the motions of being a Good and Normal Kept. That was, after all, the only way he’d ever be one (too stupid to breathe, at least you’re pretty, don’t you want to be a good Kept).
Thursday, December 28, 2000
It was the worst Christmas break ever. Leofric was pretty sure that if it weren’t for his cy’ree practice, Eriko wouldn’t have let him out of the suite at all. As it was, he was missing his kendo lesson; it wasn’t vacation, so he didn’t have to go. At least that’s what Eriko had said when he’d asked.
So instead, he was stuck here, in the suite, sitting to the side while Eriko watched a movie. Some kind of romance drama. He’d tried following it, but he was finding it hard to care about contrived angst when everyone in his own life had it so much worse.
Why Eriko hadn’t decided to get rid of him yet, Leofric had no idea. He was constantly miserable. She was constantly crying, or angry, or crying and angry…
His musings were interrupted by a loud knock at the door. When he looked around, Cya was already getting up to answer the door, so he turned his attention back to how boring the movie was. It wasn’t like it would be anyone to see him, after all, not while he was here. And if Cya was getting the door, he didn’t have to worry about Eriko trying to make him do it. Continue reading
Wednesday, December 13, 2000
Leofric doodled idly in the margins of his history notes, trying not to think of being stuck in Eriko’s room as boring. It helped a little to think of it as being grounded; it made him feel more like a typical rebellious teenager, and not like a horrible, awful, worthless, why couldn’t he do anything right—
The tip of his pencil snapped, rolling gently off the page and landing on the floor with a quiet tic. He watched it go, then pulled out a pencil sharpener from his backpack and started sharpening his pencil for the third time. Not that he needed it sharpened, since he’d already finished his homework. But he hadn’t been ordered to stay in his mistress’ room until he finished his homework; he’d been ordered to stay there and finish his homework. So now he was only under orders to stay in the room, and he had nothing to do. Continue reading
Monday, November 20, 2000
Leofric sat off to the side, paying just enough attention to know if Eriko was saying something to him and otherwise ignoring the three upperclassmen. He’d finished all of his homework for the night but he kept his notebook open anyway; if he looked like he was busy with school stuff, Eriko was less likely to give him something to do – something he would, inevitably, screw up.
Cynara was cleaning up after dinner, as she usually did, and Dysmas was mostly ignoring her, as he usually did. Sometimes Leo wondered why Dysmas was even Keeping her in the first place; he certainly didn’t have any problem bringing home other girls. And that was something Leo didn’t have any orders against being annoyed about – especially since the last time that’d happened, Cynara had spent the whole time sitting out in the suite, trying not to look sad. Not even collapsing in the halls had been enough to make Dysmas to care about her.
Wednesday, October 25, 2000
“Ugh.” The lights flickered out with a crackle. “Leofric!”
Eriko’s expression needed no light. Cynara could see the tired twist of her face already, the exasperated way she looked when she dealt with her boyfriend. She could see Leo’s cringing apology too, the way his shoulders would shrug forward and he’d try to make himself smaller. It made Cynara want to hug him; it made her want to punch Eriko.
“It wasn’t me,” Leo protested weakly. Continue reading
Wednesday, October 11, 2000
Eriko was busy doing her homework. For anything else, it would’ve been a bad time — it was a bad time, if he was being honest, but it was almost impossible to find a good time when it was just the two of them. And Leofric really wanted this to be a private conversation.
Leofric had chosen a spot on the floor that was clearly visible from her desk (but not in the way; he didn’t want to be in the way, she didn’t like that) and knelt there. He didn’t want to interrupt her; he couldn’t interrupt her, even if he wanted to, not since that one time he had and she’d ordered him not to. So instead, he settled into his spot and waited.
Tuesday, September 19, 2000
The clothing, Leofric had to admit, didn’t look bad. It wasn’t very comfortable, though: the long sleeves and cuffs, the shirt collar, the way he kept catching his backpack on the buttons down the front, the stiff new shoes. And the collar, of course. The clothes were just dress clothes, nothing too weird, but the collar was a different story.
He resisted the urge to fidget with it again; Eriko didn’t like fidgeting, so he was trying to avoid building a habit. But the leather sat snug up against his neck, reminding him it was there every time he moved. Every time he breathed.
Thursday, September 14, 2000
Leofric squinted one eye, the other still buried in his pillow, and peered through his hair at the digital clock across the room. A seven, a five, a one… which blinked over into a two as he watched. Seven fifty two.
First period started at eight o’clock.
“Shit!” In a flurry of limbs, long hair and blankets, Leofric scrambled out of bed and hastily threw on clothes — shirt, change of pants, socks that don’t match but who cares, one shoe — and spent a good minute frantically searching for his other shoe. No time to brush his teeth; if he made it out of the labyrinthine dormitory level in only five minutes, he’d be lucky.