Supper on Friday was tense, to say the least. Acacia had noticed that Shay paid more attention to Sable when her hair was pulled up and refused to braid it anymore. Kallima, who had no experience braiding hair, tied the black locks back in a simple pony tail. She also began teaching Sable to apply her own makeup, but the girl usually ignored the supplies until Kallima picked them up. As a result, the gargoyle picked at her noodles that night and rested her plain, pale face on one hand while her hair lopped to the side in its ribbon.
Acacia plaited her own hair intricately and fiercely wedged herself between Sable and Shay in an attempt to separate them. An incredibly confused Shay found it almost impossible to speak directly to the gargoyle just past his girlfriend. Instead, Acacia forced him into a discussion about his classes. Ignatius' clever green eyes flickered across the three before he frowned.
"Did something happen?" he asked so lowly that only Kallima, who had begun using him like a personal furnace as she ate, could hear him.
"Mm-hm," Kallima nodded, popping bits of chicken into her mouth while she read. "Listen to this, 'Subconscious energy often manifests in the form of emotion but can also become physical to those with the natural ability to interact with it, as is the case with spirit fae.' Look, Ig."
As she spoke, she wrote in the book then pointed it out to the fire fae. He read it silently, whispered "interesting," then turned aside again. Kallima erased the message that Sable “heart” Shay before anyone could ask what had happened.
"It takes a lot of training," Shay said, oblivious of the feud occurring next to him. "To be able to physically interact with energy doesn't come naturally to anyone."
"What do you mean?" Acacia asked, nuzzling into Shay's arm. "You're amazing."
"Yes, but I trained. Having my eyes helped, but I only just reached the point where I could alter emotion. It'll be ages before I can shut down whole energies."
"And what does that mean for people like me?" Kallima inquired.
"It means you shouldn't exist," Ignatius said. "You're too impossible."
"I think I'm insulted," Kallima huffed.
Shay shook his head, saying, "Don't be. He's right. Your conscious energy is strong, but your subconscious is stronger and more focused. You took to dream manipulation far too easily."
"I should read my other book, then," Kallima said. "I didn't realize how quickly I was picking it up. Wish I could say the same about alchemy. Maimu's lost me again."
"Ah, did you reach constructs and automatons?" Ignatius asked.
"Yes. Honestly, what's the difference?"
"Speak English, would you, Ig?" Kallima sighed.
The slowly recovering senior chuckled and said, "How about I keep tutoring you? It actually calms me down."
"Alright. But I want no special treatment when you're teaching next year, okay?" Kallima said.
"Right," the golden boy muttered, lowering his fork. "Teaching."
Shay said, "What? Kallima got a perfect score! They have to let you teach!"
Ignatius drummed his fingers on the table and turned aside. Kallima growled.
"Why won't they hire you?" she asked.
"Several reasons," Ignatius breathed. "I skipped classes last term. My father's in jail. I've nearly killed two students now. I'm too attached, too unreliable, too explosive."
"Too attached?" Kallima repeated.
"Locke heard that you've been in my room with me alone. He thinks that my young appearance and 'wanton ways' will cause trouble. I make a great tutor, he said, but I'm not the sort he wants teaching others," Ignatius explained.
"'Wanton ways?' You watched me take a test," Kallima said.
"Still. Too many questions. You know I'm no good with interrogation," Ignatius said.
Sable asked, "What are you going to do, like, when you graduate? Once you're-?"
"Out of Orphanage?" the blonde sighed. "I don't know. I'll take an apprenticeship to an apothecary or a clerk, if anyone will take me. Not in Greston, but I'll find a place."
"Why not Greston?" Kallima asked.
Ignatius pushed her off of him and said, "Dad's accused of dragon affinity. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't be suspect of the same."
Kallima bit her lip. Not only could she think of nothing to defend the teen, but also a laundry list of reasons for the boy to be jailed as well came to mind. The worst of them was the guardian they shared, a handsome golden dragon named Blaze, Master Dragon and Shield of Kallima. The redheaded teen shuddered, wondering how long it would take for the court to discover Ignatius and his father's guilt.
"That's what I thought," Ignatius grumbled.
Kallima strolled along a tropical beach in a yellow sundress. A shimmering yellow mountain jutted up from the sand, and she dashed to it. As the teen laughed, a long, golden neck extended from the mound. Kallima threw her arms around the long, slender limb, and hot breath surrounded her as the dragon spoke.
"Greetings, Daughter of Satu. I have missed your company," he crooned.
"Oh, Blaze, I missed you," she said. "Winter break was awful! Poor Iggy got shredded!"
"You- I do not understand, Majesty."
Kallima said, "Of course not. You wouldn't. I thought my break was bad, but then I got back, and Sable was- She was so hurt inside. I felt bad for feeling miserable. I tried to make her feel better, but she took me to Iggy, and- Oh, Blaze! He was so starved and hurt and beaten down... But you know that. You feel our pain. Seeing how bad he looked, knowing how bad I felt... I could only imagine how much pain you're in. Let me look at you, Blaze."
The dragon laid down and allowed the teen to climb onto his neck. He stretched out his wings as Kallima inched towards his shoulders to examine his back. Just like Ignatius, his spine had been decorated in long, coarse gashes. Only few of the lines had the yellow tinge of pus. The fiery-haired girl ran a finger along one of the infected marks, making Blaze rumble in pain.
"Please, just...," he said, "let me sleep in peace."
"I wish I could make it better."
"As do I."
Kallima leaned down and kissed Blaze's shoulder blades. A ripple coursed through the dragon's body. His scars faded until they were just white lines along his scales. The dragon raised his head and poked at the marks with his snout. He gasped when he realized that the pain had vanished.
"You frighten me, Majesty," he said.
Kallima grinned and said, "It will probably only last while you sleep. Iggy gave me this neat book about the subconscious. It has a whole unit on dream fae, and it said that I could control aspects of dreams like this."
"You have ability beyond your years," Blaze told her. "I would believe you if you said that you could make doors between the Fairy and Mortal Realms."
"I haven't tried yet."
"You should. But please, Majesty, be discreet."
Kallima pat Blaze's neck with a sigh, asking, "Did my time away make you forget? I've asked you to call me Kali."
"My apologies, Kali. Now, tell me all about your day."
The redheaded teen laughed as she curled up into the dragon's shoulder and began telling her guardian and friend everything that happened during the week.