Sunday, February 05, 2012

A Note Passed, Part Two

Her monstrous bodyguard, seven feet of lean muscle, pointed ears and sharp white teeth. He pulled his black and silver hair back in a braid that fell almost to his boot tops when it dangled free, pooled on the floor as he crouched beside her there by the fire. The light glinted off the sleek dark fur covering his face, long limbs coiled under him as he squatted. Longer fur peeked out from under the cuffs at his wrists. He looked like one of Atyets’s mastiffs given the ability to stand upright and the power of speech. Legs sleekly muscled, spatulate palms with long claw-tipped fingers. The better to chase you with, my dear, the better to catch you with.

Spike sighed. “It’s just not fair,” she mumbled. It was becoming her mantra, it seemed. He made some noise of encouragement, and she went on.

“It’s not fair. Worse than that happened, and they weren’t kicked out—“

“Was students to students. Survival of the fittest.”

“But still! It wasn't my fault." She looked up at him now. How could she tell it in a way that he'd understand, would intercede with Atyets on her behalf. "I'd had an Idea in Arithmancy, one of those that I get sometimes--"

He knew about his mistress's Ideas; they all did. Often diving for cover when she started with the quill and parchment, scribbling away, fire in her eyes and ink in her hair. They'd taken turns spoon feeding her while she was in the middle of inspiration, keeping a careful watch over her, waiting for the moment when it was wiser to take the implements of creation out of her hands and quickly distract her. They'd gone through most of the barracks card games by now, time to teach her Arimaa.

And he'd missed this one. Minions weren't allowed in classes. He'd had a quiet word with the headmaster, explaining that Spike wasn't quite like the other students; that her talents were . . . a little wild sometimes. His eyes flicked to the tapestry that covered the north wall and the scars still in the stone from that incident what Spike was two and just getting a handle on speech. She'd gotten frustrated, grabbed a length of wood, swish and flick, and--sometimes he could still hear the voices humming and whispering, muffled only slightly by the tapestry.

For his efforts, all Totenberg had received was a patronizing lecture on how all of Durmstrang's students were among the exceptionally gifted, of course, and that the staff had plenty of experience handling all the situations that might arise. He should go and wait in the dormitory with the other minions; everything was going to be just fine.

He wondered how the headmaster had explained--call a spade a spade--covered up the incident in Arithmancy.

"So I was writing a note -- to myself! For later! And when I was done with the diagram, I was folding it up, and suddenly he was there by my elbow, demanding I give him that piece of parchment. He was going to read it out loud to the class."

Totenberg could see it now, the vulturous Arithmancy professor, with his long neck hunched into his narrow shoulders looming up behind Spike as she sketched and labeled her Idea. How he’d looked down his nose and cawed a demand that she hand it over, this tiny new Idea that she was hammering down to explore further. How she’d have looked up, blinking and returning to the world outside her head. Corbidius would have taken that for guilt, most likely.

Then the blood on the walls and the screaming. He’d not confined himself to the dormitory, despite the headmaster’s demands, nor had he insisted that Sascha and Dmitri do the same. So after the professor had been forcibly evicted from his body by the being that he had unwittingly opened a gateway to, Totenberg had been waiting in the hallway, where he could kick the door in and go help, rather than a solid klick away, behind many sets of doors and stairs.

No comments: