September 16, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
The day of classes seemed to stretch on interminably. Once they reached the end, Enrie could see what Riensin had found. She could see what else they had to do. She could figure out who they were supposed to take this to.
But first she had to get through Biology and Textiles and Philosophy. She had to smile at Instructor Pelnyen and not think about the fact that the disaster of his office might still be hiding fragments of world-shattering treaties. She had to pay enough attention in Diplomacy to not entirely disgrace her house. She had to wink and smile at endless Estyaa House first- and second-year students who were having far too much fun being the wall of politeness.
It could be a lot worse, she reminded herself. For one, nobody had threatened her or insulted her in almost a day, and nobody had yet hit her over the head with a pipe. Clearly Engineering students get more violent adventures.
She smiled at everyone. She put on her best bright, cheerful expression, the one her mother had said made her look a little vapid, and she didn’t complain about anything or even frown all day. If she started complaining, she wouldn’t make it through the day without running to a private room to read her notes.
She was thinking very studiously about her last class of the day when she, Taikie, and Saydrie rounded a corner and nearly ran into Lady Ilonilarrona and a tall, weasel-faced woman who was likely Lirnilalie.
“You.” Ilonilarrona glared at her. “Plotting something, aren’t you?”
Enrie looked up, innocent and entirely honest. “I’m trying to figure out something about our class. It’s a tricky assignment, and I was a little busy with,” she ducked her head and didn’t have to fake a blush, “with Gianci yesterday to really focus on my homework.”
“Oh!” Taikie looked surprised, and she probably was. “I’ve got the notes on that. You should have said something.”
“Well, by the time I got back to the dorm and remembered, there was a little fuss…”
“There was a fuss?” Her face might be weasley, but the strange woman’s voice was like a mountain lion, deep and purr-like. “In your dorm?”
“Oh, Lady Ilonilarrona — sorry, cousin, Associate Governor Ilonilarrona didn’t tell you?” Enrie smiled politely. “She stopped by to ask what we’d been up to. Of course,” Enrie shrugged and looked back down at the ground, smiling and blushing a bit still. “I’d been out with Gianci—”
“He’s a Lannamer boy in my dorm. Diplomacy House,” Enrie clarified. “We’d been out kissing for most of the evening, so I couldn’t help my cousin.” She glanced up at both women. She knew Lady Ilonilarrona hated being called cousin, and it made her happy to be so formally polite and still get to upset the woman. “But anyway, I suppose it made a bit of a fuss, before we got everything straightened out and explained that we’d been busy. And by the time I was done straightening that out,” she turned to Taikie, “I had forgotten all about our homework. And we should get going, shouldn’t we?”
“Yes.” Saydrie had been quiet up until that point. “We probably should. Ma’ams.” He bowed deeply to both women and offered both Enrie and Taikie his hands. “Class?” He was nearly vibrating with tension.