Between Years Four & Five of the Addergoole School
Laurel came back from her vacation in late August, tearing into the school like a whirlwind, her arms laden with bags, her brain wild with new thoughts and her hair flying every which way. She grabbed two of her favorite students and dragged them to the Library with her, talking ninety miles an hour until she realized that Alisha and Rowan had no idea at all what she was talking about.
She took a long breath, reminding herself of the taste of the air, the feel of this place, underground and yet apart from him, held from the earth by wards and walls. "Rowan," she said, smiling warmly. If she were going to ever go Mike's route with her Students, she'd start with Rowan, since Valentina so determinedly liked men-only.
But that wasn't today. "Did you spend time in the sun this summer?" she asked instead.
"Yes, Professor. I thought I'd sunburn. I always sunburned before." The tree-girl held out an arm demonstratively. She had adorable green freckles running up and down her pale skin but, notably, no burn. "But I felt a lot better. Although some of that was probably…"
"Not being a vampire snack, yes." She shook her head. "You checked in with Caitrin regularly?"
"Yes, ma'am. Everything's fine. The Sprout is fine."
"And you, Alisha? And Min?" Addergoole made for strange family trees; the two girls' babies were cousins, although Laurel was fairly certain none of the parents knew that.
"He didn't let me go," Alisha sulked. "It's supposed to be for a year, but he says he liked having me close."
"And do you like having him close?" It could be bad, those situations, and it was hard to tell what was going on when the Bond got involved, but Vlad had always seemed like a nice boy.
Then again, Ib had been a nice boy as a child.
"I do," she admitted. "But it would be nice to not be, you know, under lock and key and everything."
Rowan snorted inelegantly. "Lock and key? 'Lisha, you have no idea what 'lock and key' is really like."
"Still…" She stopped her sulking as they reached the Library doors, more than willing to be distracted. "What are we researching, Professor?"
"Myths," Laurel answered. "Myths and history. We're going digging for faeries."
"Um," Rowan blinked, looking down at herself. "We are faeries. Right?"
"Right," Laurel beamed. "But we're looking for Ellehemaei in history."
A trowel appeared on the table nearest them. Laurel chuckled. "Thank you, Wysteria. We won't need literal shovels in your Library, I assure you. We'll be mannerly."
The trowel lifted into the air and hung like a pointer, its blade pointing deep into the stacks. It hadn't been where Laurel was planning on heading, but it was Wysteria's Library, and she knew best. About most things. "Yes, ma'am."
Laurel tried not to blush as an invisible kiss brushed her lips. Truly, she needed to spend more time in the Library now that she was back. "This way, then, girls," she said, bustling them towards the deep stacks.
"But, Professor, the twine…?" 'Lisha offered, frowning.
"If you need it for your orders, feel free. Though I'd take three balls. The Librarian is with us, though, so we don't need to worry about getting lost this time." Unless Wysteria were angry with them, but Laurel found that not too likely at the moment.
"Stupid orders," 'Lisha muttered, and gathered three balls of twine from the basket, tying the first one off at the hitching post. "Like I can't take care of myself."
"So tell him to stop," Rowan offered. "At least yours is unlikely to get angry at you for complaining."
If he did, he'd be angry quite often. Laurel let the girls argue it among themselves while she found Wysteria's invisible hand. They were heading deep into the places Wysteria called the Depths, places where a single roll of twine would not reach (and sometimes, something ate the breadcrumbs offered as a wry joke for the uninitiated). Laurel had seen more of the Library than the students, of course, and more than most of their colleagues, but she didn't recognize the statues they were passing, except…
"Is that.." She looked over the physique, the mustache, the eyebrows. "No, it's not Sang Ki. But the resemblance - from the waist up - is startling."
"Sang… oh." Rowan looked at the statue, and past it to the next one. "That looks sort of like a lizard-man. A dinosaur-man?"
"Isn't Doug's Name something like Thunder Lizard?" 'Lisha mused. "I mean, it doesn't quite look like him, but that's because his Mask is always up. Right?"
Valerian coughed. "Right…"
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