8.4

Nilien was drawing in the margins of her notes.

It wasn’t a boring class, and she really ought to be focusing, but she kept thinking about Ember, and Ember Spying on Chason.

Chason. She bit her lip and stared at her notes for a moment until she got her feelings and thoughts under control. He was nice. She didn’t want him to be involved in any of this mess! She didn’t want him to think she was a horrid spying untrusting sneak, either.

She managed to haul her mind back to mathematics for a few minutes. Now that she was caught up, it was a great deal of fun, and she was learning things they had never covered in her old school. Even if the magic was still hard and frustrating, the rest of the academics at Reinmonte were wonderful.

She found herself writing Secret Hang-Out Club? in her margins. Lorque and she had gone back and forth for a while before deciding on their list of potential Hang-Out friends. They had both done a little foot-stomping, until River and Ember had gotten involved (Ember said its ears hurt; River just looked exasperated).

They’d ended up agreeing on Chason only after both of them had been headbutted by both familiars, with the obvious caveat that if Ember discovered that Chason was evil, or in cahoots with evil knowingly, then they weren’t going to invite him to their secret club. On the other hand, they’d managed to agree to exclude Istore until he stopped calling Nilien a Weed or asking her if she had decided to go wild yet – mostly, Nilien was fairly certain – because Lorque was both embarrassed about and angry at her friend for acting like that.

Class ended with a final problem she’d totally missed. Flushing, Nilien stood up and found Lorque. “Did you-”

“I caught a glance at you and wrote down everything. Worried?”

“I’m always worried,” Nilien sighed. “What if Ember really gets hurt this time?”

“Ember will be fine. You know most of it last time was whining.” Lorque took her arm and steered her towards the cafeteria. “Come on. If we hurry, we can ask Auqustin about the – the secret – before Istore is done bothering the professor about that last math problem. Oh, don’t look like that! You’re going to be fine. It wasn’t even a hard problem. Here, look, there’s Augustin and Riva.”

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