Thursday, August 24
Edie silently cursed her alarm as she flung her arm out of bed to turn it off. Then she cursed her past self, which had decided to sign up for a nine AM class. It was just too early to be awake.
Of course, when she sat up, blinking the sleep out of her eyes, she saw that Corrie was already up, dressed, and vigorously toweling off her short blonde hair. “Morning,” Corrie said brightly. “It’s nice to be back on campus for my morning run.”
“Must be better than the city,” Edie said. Or tried to say. It mostly came out as a grumble.
Corrie appeared unperturbed. After all, they’d lived together for the entire previous year, so she was used to Edie not being a morning person. The only difference was, of course, Dawn was also in the room. But Corrie wasn’t staying quiet to avoid disturbing her. Edie squinted across the room at Dawn’s bed and saw that their third roommate was not there.
“Dawn and I passed each other on the way to and from the bathroom,” Corrie said, correctly interpreting Edie’s confusion. “She has a morning class, too. Psionics first thing in the morning sounds like punishment to me, but hopefully she’ll like it better.”
Edie yawned. “Literary Analysis first thing in the morning sounds like punishment to me.” At least she was speaking more intelligibly now.
Corrie laughed. “That’s not what you said when we were signing up for classes.”
“No, you said that if you had to take a nine AM class, at least it was a fun one.”
Edie tried to remember that. It did sound like something she would say about an English class.
Corrie waved her towel at her. “Now go wash up. I’m not going to wait around for you forever. I need breakfast.”
Edie nodded sleepily, walked to the bathroom—she got disoriented for a moment in the new dorm building, but then remembered where it was—and performed her morning ablutions. Feeling marginally more awake, she returned to the room and pulled on clothes. Corrie was checking her email, but straightened up as Edie put her shoes on. “Ready to go?”
“We’re not waiting for Dawn?”
Corrie shook her head. “She said she’d see us later. Anyway, she’s going to a different building.”
“Right, because there’s so much space between the humanities and magic buildings.” Edie shrugged, grabbed her backpack, and followed Corrie out of the room.
It was a beautiful day, which helped with the waking-up problem a little more. She still ignored Corrie’s cheerful chattering about how much shorter a walk it was to the dining hall now and piled her plate high with blueberry pancakes. She didn’t actually manage to finish her entire stack, but at least her stomach was full.
She felt a little trepidation as they headed to their class. She expected that most of the students who’d chosen to stay were those who studied magic, either because they couldn’t go anywhere else to learn their chosen subject, or because they felt that they were somewhat armed against the faerie threat already. How many students would be left who were taking English classes?
The classroom, when they arrived—Edie keeping a half step behind Corrie—seemed to be half full. Unless they were late, that was a pretty good sign. And she didn’t think they were late.
A boy with black hair turned around as they entered and grinned, waving. “Corrie! Edie!”
Edie felt herself relax a little more as she grinned, happy to see a familiar face. “Hi, Troy!” She wasn’t entirely surprised to see him. After all, it had been in a lower-level English class, their first semester, that they’d met him. Now that they were on the next level up, it would make sense that he was in the same class as them.
Corrie greeted him, too, and they walked over to sit near him. But before they could reach him, he squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. “I just want to let you know, I’m not really a human, even if I look like one. I’m a water creature called a Djanaea, using an illusion to enter college. Also, I’m gay.”
All Edie could do was gape at him. She’d known all of those things already, it was true… but they were both things that he’d gone to great pains to conceal in the past. That was how they’d gotten to know him; after seeing hints of the illusion that made him look human, they’d been frightened and had to learn that he wasn’t a threat.
And the strangest thing now was that not only was he announcing his deepest secrets to the entire classroom, he was grinning about it. He looked absolutely delighted with himself.
Had this revelation been planned? Surely Roe would have said something about it, since she was dating his cousin. Troy couldn’t be going around telling the truth without having his family’s approval, could he?
Corrie was the first to recover. “That’s very interesting to learn, Troy,” she said hesitantly. “You’re not anything like a faerie, are you?”
Of course, the way he’d announced it to them, they should pretend they were learning it for the first time. And none of the other students looked shocked; he’d probably told them all before Corrie and Edie had arrived in the room.
“Not at all,” he said. “I just have some illusion magic. I’m not a threat.”
“That’s a relief,” Corrie said, and they sat down in desks beside his.
Edie leaned over Corrie’s desk to speak quietly to Troy. “So you’re skipping the parts about being a prince and here to look for a bride, huh?”
His grin turned a little strained. “The second one isn’t true anymore. And the first one—well, I don’t want to intimidate people more than I have to. After all, I might be a prince at home but that doesn’t really have anything to do with my job here at college, which is to learn.”
“So your dad—“ Edie started to ask, but at that moment an older woman walked into the room, and the class went quiet. Edie straightened up.
“Good morning, class,” the woman said briskly. She had a thick, sharp-cut bob that was black shot through with silver, and piercing dark eyes. “Welcome back to Chatoyant College. It’s good to see those who have chosen to return.” Her sharp eyes darted around the classroom—Edie felt that they looked very deep into her own. She wondered what this woman knew about faeries and other supernatural beings. Had she already known about them? It had never occurred to her before to wonder what the human professors knew about the faerie professors.
“I’m Professor Martina Ilett. I don’t really care to be called Professor. You may call me Martina or Ms. Ilett, whichever makes you more comfortable. As I call roll, please speak up—don’t just raise your hand—and if you have a nickname you prefer to go by, let me know and I’ll make a note of it.”
Ms. Ilett was brisk and efficient, but she seemed kind. She noted that Edie preferred to be called Edie, not Edith, and when she had finished calling roll, she began to write on the blackboard.
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Lay in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown…
Edie sat back as the professor continued to write out the poem “Ozymandias,” telling the class to pay attention to rhyme and meter as each line appeared slowly on the board, and to consider how the layout of the words contributed to the effect of the poem.
She thought she was going to like this class.