Kallima watched as Sable dropped her bag to the floor and wobbled to her bed without opening her eyes. The small girl crawled onto mattress, kicked her shoes off, and released a heavy groan as the weight on her joints dissipated.
“Ran you to the ground again, Say?” Kallima asked nervously.
Sable whimpered, “He’s gonna sell me.”
“That sucks,” Jasmine said, not even looking up from her paper.
“Sock it,” Kallima warned, then she returned her attention to Sable. “Did he say he was going to pawn you off?”
“N- no,” the shaking, pale girl said.
“Then he probably won’t. Poor Say. If I had money, I would buy you,” Kallima said.
Sable, though, rolled over and glared at the taller girl.
“I’m kidding,” Kallima said.
Sable shook her head weakly, saying, “It’s no joke, Kali, but thanks, I guess. It’d be, like, a blessing if you did. Like, I’d get to go to school, and I know you wouldn’t, like, hurt me. But...”
Jasmine intervened again, wagging a finger at Kallima.
“There are fae, Kali, who think their sole purpose in life is to break those like Sable.”
“Not that it’d take, like, more than a whipping or two,” Sable said and turned back onto her stomach. “It’s like Gavin always says, ‘You’re damaged goods, girl. You won’t last an hour out there.’ Like I need reminding.”
Kallima sighed, slid off of her bed, and sat next to Sable. She waved Jasmine away to supper. To her surprise, the girl nodded and left silently. Kallima patted Sable’s shoulder. The grey girl grew stiff and rocky under the hand.
“It’ll be all right, Sable. Your uncle’s not going to sell you,” she assured her friend.
Sable scoffed and said, “You don’t know that.”
“Even if he does, you’ll be fine,” Kallima said. “You have me, don’t you? And Shay worries enough about you.”
Kallima heard Sable grind her teeth and let out a low, unintelligible growl. The redhead sighed and started stroking Sable’s hair, combing out knots and gravel with her fingers.
“Bloody hell, Say. Did you roll down the drive?”
“Gavin made me clean the basement,” she groaned.
“Oh, that’s awful. I know how much you hate the dark.”
Sable moaned shakily pushed her face into her pillow as her roommate continued petting her head. The only sounds around them were Sable’s hushed breaths and the “tink tink tink” of Kallima’s opalescent butterfly tried to escape the inverted glass jar that the fiery-haired girl had trapped it beneath.
“Is that still going?” Sable asked.
“I know, it’s getting annoying,” Kallima said. “Really should have used a soul rune.”
“Or not have used opal.”
“It was in with the supplies!”
“You’re not trying to cheer me up, are you?” said Sable, sitting up in her bed.
Kallima tipped her head with a smirk and said, “Why in the world would I do that?”
“Because you’re weird.”
Kallima poked her tongue out at the grey child next to her. Sable laughed softly, the clay on her cheek cracking and flaking off. Then she sighed and ran one hand through her gritty, greasy locks with a pout.
“I need to shower,” she said.
Kallima leaped to her feet, darted to the closet, and rummage through her belongings. She returned seconds later with a navy beanie and plopped it roughly on Sable’s head.
“You need to eat first,” the redhead said. “Let’s just cover you up for now. You can shower after dinner.”
“Did you… just give me a hat?” the grey girl asked.
“I never wear it. You might as well.”
“Huh. The opposite, I thought. Thanks”
“You’re welcome,” Kallima said, grinning. “I’m quite drained right now. I wore myself out the other night showing Gabriel something. Why don’t we walk?”
“Okay.” Sable said, rising. “What did you show him?”
As they left the rooms and worked towards the dining hall, Kallima repeated the tale of her mother’s suicide. She felt guilty and relieved that the words came to her more easily than before. She admitted to herself that Gabriel was right: crying had made her feel better, as though the shed tears had taken with them most of the pain, the anger, the bitterness, and the regret that had clung to her.
“It still hurts, though,” she told Sable when they stopped in front of the dining hall doors. “I told her I hated her, Say.”
“It’s only been a year. My parents have been dead since I was seven, and I still feel it. You’re lucky, though. Your... dad. He actually cares about you. More than my uncle cares about me, anyway.”
Kallima only shrugged, unable to think of anything to placate Sable’s nerves. Instead, she pushed the stony girl into the room in front of her. Their usual table, though, hid from them behind a mob of students. Shay dashed towards the teen girls, worry in his eyes. Acacia and Gabriel followed him nervously.
“The-there’s a... p-package... for you,” he panted, “I t-t-tried... to keep them... back, but... It has the r-royal seal! I ca-couldn’t-”
Kallima did not wait for him to finish. She began bowling her fellow students over to get to the table, not caring whether she stepped on a freshman’s toes or pushed a senior aside. As promised, a huge purple box tied with gold ribbon stood proudly on the tabletop. A black tag with a golden shield decorated with a sword and a butterfly dangled off one side. Kallima flipped it over to see her name in white chalk on the other side, the words ‘Our apologies’ written elegantly beneath.
Kallima chuckled softly, but concern tugged at her gut. It had been well over a month since the big fight. They had gotten their chef back a week ago. Yet now they were apologizing. Kallima breathed deeply and, allowing the twins to make amends, pulled the ribbon loose.
The sides fell away immediately and released a massive amount of what Kallima thought for a moment to be beads. Green, brown, clear, and blue fragments spilled onto the floor as Kallima and the crowd behind her backed quickly away from the cascade. The fiery-haired girl covered her face with one arm as the lingering scent of alcohol assaulted her nose and made her eyes water. Pieces of broken liquor bottles, just like the ones her mother had thrown off the roof, littered the floor and table.
Wordlessly, Kallima turned and ran from the room, leaving the mess for someone who could stomach the odor. A sob caught in her throat as she pushed past her friends and into the courtyard. A blast of cold air hit her as she fell to her knees and retched on the grass. When she finished, she felt a sudden pressure on her back that made her jump. Gabriel stared down at her, his hand on her shoulder.
“You going to be okay?” he asked.
Kallima nodded and looked behind him. To her horror, a mass of students had formed behind him. Acacia and Shay tried hard but struggled to keep them back. Some pointed. Some laughed. Most just whispered. Kallima’s breath grew heavy as panic beat at her chest. She covered her face and sped towards the locker rooms. Inside, she commandeered a toilet stall and locked it, pulling her feet up onto the lid and crying as softly as she could.
Kallima choked on a sob at Sable’s gentle voice. She told the gargoyle to leave.
“Mm-mm,” Sable said, her shadow under the stall door. “I’m not going anywhere. Case is, like, blocking the door so no one gets in.”
“What happened? We heard, like, a wind-chime-y sound...”
“Glass. Broken glass from liquor bottles.”
Kallima sighed and blinked back the dampness in her eyes. Then Sable voiced a thought that disturbed her.
“How did they know?”
Kallima shook her head, forgetting that Sable could not see her through the door.
“Did you tell anyone else? Besides me and Gabe?”
“Of course,” Kallima said. “I told Shay and Case, too. And-”
Kallima’s eyes widened in realization. How could he, she asked herself. After everything she had done for him, he would tell the Nobles her greatest weakness?
“And who?” Sable asked.
Kallima grit her teeth with a growl as she slid off of the loo and opened the stall door.
“I told Iggy, too,” she snarled. “To try to make him understand.”
“You don’t think Ig-?”“Yes, Say. I do think Ig.”