Year Five of the Addergoole School
She wasn’t sure why they came to the dances, but Allyse had insisted. After three years, she’d learned to listen when their seer insisted on something.
They weren’t going to pick up boys, that was for sure, although Sima was still glancing hungrily at Conrad when she thought no-one was looking. Another trip home had reminded Acacia sharply that normal boys – boys like the new Fifths coming in, shiny and new and smelling of the outside world – didn’t deal well with girls like her or her crew, and they, in turn, didn’t do real well with normal boys.
They weren’t there for the dancing, either, though the floor show was entertaining. Skinny little Emrys, a little more filled out since they’d met him, dancing up against a petite girl that matched him perfectly. Ivette and Magnolia doing their little dance around Anwell, who still looked more bird than snake. Taro, hurrying towards her, looking worried.
“Allyse said,” he started, before he even got all the way to them. He looked at Allyse. “You said if I ever needed anything…”
She nodded, with that self-satisfied smug look she sometimes got. “Yes. You need our help.”
“Kai just ran off, and she’s been drinking. You know what the halls are like, already.”
Acacia caught Allyse’s eye, and the seer nodded. “I’ll find her, and keep her safe until you get there,” she agreed, “and we’ll be square then, you and us.”
He nodded, relief obvious on his face. He must really like this girl. She grunted her agreement and was out the door.
Year Five of the Addergoole School, Hell Night
She stalked the halls, half in the visions and half in the solid world. The moment was coming; she could taste it.
There! Ib, in all his demonic glory, had caught a skinny, pale Fifth, a knife against the boy’s throat. Finnegan, from her History and Bio classes. He was the right one. “Hey, now, Ib,” she said lazily, “that one’s mine. Go cut your own if you need to see blood.” Pity about his pretty spider girl, but it was too late for her.
“Does he know he’s yours, Allyse?” The question was a formality; he sheathed the knife as he asked, and the boy stumbled forward a step.
“He will, given time.” She set her hand on the boy’s hip, and murmured softly into his ear. “It’s me or the knife, Finnegan. We’re both sharp, but I won’t bleed you.”
He looked at her nervously. Smart enough to know he was in a trap, then, but he had to choose it for himself. His hand went to his throat, where Ib’s knife had drawn a thin trickle of blood. “You promise?” he whispered.
Easy enough. “I promise, while you are mine, I will not bleed you.” She wasn’t into blood, anyway.
He nodded slowly, eyeing the knife. Deciding which was scarier. “I’m hers,” he told Ib, more than a little resentfully.
“Then leave, Finnegan oro’Allyse. Have fun,” the demon added, grinning.
Allyse draped an arm around her new Kept’s shoulders. “You are going to make me the prettiest, most wild baby girl,” she crooned happily.
Year Five of the Addergoole School, Monday after Hell Night
“Things will work out this year,” Allyse had told her. She’d failed to catch anyone on Hell Night – Allyse had gotten a pale-faced little whelp, and Cay hadn’t even been trying – and she still hadn’t convinced Conrad to spend the night with her, but she trusted their seer. She’d get Conrad this year, and get her gods-forsaken graduation requirements the way she wanted to, and not off some pitiful Kept.
She kept that thought in her head, trying to ignore the what-have-I-gotten-myself-into look on Finnegan’s face – didn’t they remember the same look on Del’s face, before it had gotten replaced with something more broken? – and the smug satisfaction on Allyse’s. Things would work out this year.
There was Conrad, with that skinny little girl scout Fifthy, his tail between his legs and… was that a collar? A locking steel collar. She snarled. She was going to kill someone.
"Easy, Sima." Acacia's hand on her shoulder brought her back to herself, prevented her from just ripping the little redhead in half.
"What do you mean, easy? Now I'll never get my boy. This is our last year, my last chance."
"Don't give up so easily. He doesn't want to play? Maybe he doesn't have to have a choice in the matter. Think about what this means for a minute. She's new, she doesn't know how things work. How we work. She'll come to us soon enough. This is just another way, an easier way to get to him. I have a plan."
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