May 27, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie barely managed not to stiffen or pull away as Saydrie pulled her into a hug and suggested intimate things at her while he held her cuddled against him. He smelled interesting, she noticed, like a soap she only remembered encountering deep in the south.
She cleared her throat. “The beach?” she managed, in stuttered, uncertain Bitrani. Blast it, she could do better than that. “The beach,” she tried again. “That sounds nice.”
Behind her, a door snicked shut again. Saydrie put her down. “Or maybe,” he suggested playfully, still in overloud Bitrani, “just on to the roof? Or maybe your room…”
“Oh, no. Nothing short of a beach for me,” she countered, trying to sound playful. Finally she managed to get a look at his face. He looked worried. She offered him a hand. “Let’s go.”
They turned back towards Pelnyen’s classroom — and, more importantly, the cupola secret entrance — just in time to see Taikie coming towards them. Enrie saw the moment Taikie noticed them holding hands; her nose wrinkled and she ducked her head towards the ground.
“What…” she began. Enrie shook her head and put a finger over her lips, hoping that would be enough.
“How did your after-class with Instructor Pelnyen go?”
“Oh,” Taikie sighed with apparently genuine frustration, “he thinks all of my questions are unnecessary or tangential or just strange. It’s philosophy, there’s not supposed to be anything technical about it, apparently. You guys… wandered off?”
Saydrie opened the door to his favorite broom closet and let them in. “We did,” he murmured softly, “but someone else had ‘wandered off’ before us.” They went single-file up the stairs, Saydrie finally releasing Enrie’s hand.
“Someone… oh.” Taikie sounded contemplative. “Did you see…?”
“I got a glimpse,” Saydrie admitted. “Her braids were very complicated and brown, and her clothing was bright but very straight. I didn’t get a very good look at her face, though.”
“Do you think…” Enrie settled into a seat in the cupola “…maybe someone else is looking for the same things we are? I mean… well, obviously someone is, but how would they know about Pelnyen’s office?”
“Well, did you see his office?” Taikie clucked. “If I was going to look for something missing from the library, I’d go digging in that mess first. Unless every Instructor’s office is that messy.”
Every instructor’s… “Well,” Enrie said slowly, “I guess it might be worth a try.”
“Enrie!” Takie looked scandalized. “Maybe, um, maybe we can check the library first? You said there was something there.”
“I said there could be something,” Enrie allowed.
“Then we’ll do that.” Taikie sat back and looked at the two of them, wrinkling her nose. “After you tell me why you two were holding hands.”
“Oh!” Enrie blushed. “Well…”
Saydrie cleared his throat and shifted in his seat. “Well, someone was coming out of the instructor’s office, and I didn’t want them to see Enrie. So I, um, I picked her up…”
“…I picked her up and I started talking like we were, that is, as if we were…”
Enrie’s cheeks were burning. She ducked her head. “And,” she added. “He started talking like we were going down to the beach together, right up until we ran into you.”
“Enrie! Saydrie! What if someone overheard you?”