December 21, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie looked between her friends and the gathering of Bitrani boys. Taikie looked miserable and worried; Saydrie looked angry. The Bitrani looked defensive and uncomfortable.
“There’s no fight,” Darnio answered slowly. “We were talking to Saydrie and things got heated.”
“I don’t suppose you want to tell me why?”
“He’s a ra—” One of the other Bitrani finally spoke up, only to be silenced the same way Saydrie had silenced Darnio. Maybe they really didn’t care about that sort of thing.
“We were having a political disagreement?” Darnio tried. He sounded very uncertain, and he was looking at Saydrie rather than at Taikie. “It got a little out of hand, is all.”
“Mm-hrrm. Well, I would thank you to keep your political disagreements calm, collected, and out of the lunch room from now on. We don’t need fights disrupting breakfast, do we?”
“No, House Monitor.” Darnio looked rebellious. “But it was just conversation. It wasn’t a fight or anything.”
“When you’re resorting to insults and manhandling other students, Darnio, if it is not a fight, it is going to be one soon. Please keep that in mind going forward.”
He bristled visibly. “She intruded…”
“Darnio, shut up.” One of his Bitrani friends, wearing faded versions of History House violet, scarlet, and blue, dropped a hand onto Darnio’s shoulder. “We’re sorry, House Monitor ma’am. It won’t happen again.” He turned to Saydrie and Taikie and bowed, barely enough to not be an insult. “I hope we can continue our conversation later.”
Saydrie bowed back stiffly and just as shallowly. “I don’t think that would be a good idea.” He added in Bitrani, “in public or in private. Please leave me and my friends alone.”
Enrie stole a glance at the House Monitor, but her face gave nothing away. The reasonable-seeming History House Bitrani, however, glowered. “As you wish,” he answered, still in Bitrani. “Darnio, we’re leaving.”
Enrie held her breath while they left. When they had walked off, she murmured a quiet thank you to the House Monitor.
“Cleverly done,” the Monitor replied. “Be careful, Enerenarie. Next time they may actually take a swing at you.”
“I know, ma’am.” She bowed politely and took her seat. There was food at her place, but it looked unappetizing. She picked at it anyway.
Saydrie sat down. He was still frowning, his shoulders hunched forward. “Thank you.” It sounded uncertain. “She’s right, you know, the House Monitor. They might have hit you.”
“I wasn’t worried about being hit.” She studied him, but his face was telling him nothing more than that he was unhappy. “I was worried about you two.”
“They were really angry.” Taikie frowned. “Right from the minute they walked over. They were saying that Saydrie…” She trailed off. “Sorry, Saydrie.”
“It is… I’m not upset at you, Tairiekie.” Saydrie poked at his dinner with his fork. “They’ve never seemed so clannish before. Like the only thing that matters is their agenda.”
“Well,” Enrie asked carefully, “have you ever gone against their agenda before? If you’ve always toed the line, maybe they never had a reason to get loud and offended before.”
Saydrie poked at his food. “Maybe. But I can’t help feeling like they’ve changed — like everything’s changed, and not for the better at all.”