Chapter 2 - Faking It
The first week of classes go exactly as Sahara expected. All five of her third-year courses are with Brystol and she is assigned to the seat next to him in the first four. Slagwart wasn’t in any of her courses as she had hoped, but he was keeping up his agreement to pretend to be her deeto. He even went as far as to be waiting for her in the hallway after Advanced Beastism on Thursday. “Happy Birthday.” Sahara says to Brystol as she sits down next to him on Friday in Transportation Spell Knowledge. She had not been assigned the seat yet but, she knew it was going to happen anyway, so she set with him before Saitar Ulgerthan forced her to.
“Thank you.” He says sounding surprised to her acknowledging him. She slides a small green wrapped package over to him. “I get spoken to and a gift?” He says glancing at her.
“Don’t make a big deal over it.” Sahara says.
“You don’t usually give gifts to someone you hate.” Brystol smiles at her and she looks around at some of the other students watching them.
“Just open it later.” She mumbles flipping open her book.
“No. I am opening it now.” He says as the paper begins to crinkle. She sinks back in her seat hating the other students attention toward them. “What is it?” He asks looking at the small glass piece.
“A musical snow globe. You turn that to make it play.” Sahara says pointing toward the metal handle.
“Is this from the human world?” Brystol asks after a short moment of inspecting the small item.
“Yes.” Sahara says causing all the other students to hum in speculation. “You gave me a birthday present so I got you one. You already have everything imaginable from this world so, I thought…”
“Open your books to page forty.” Saitar Ulgerthan interrupts her words and she feels thankful to not have to explain herself further to Brystol.
Brystol was obviously not finished with the conversation though, because after class he pulls Sahara into an empty room to ask her, “Did you go back to the human world?”
“Just once.” Sahara confesses shyly.
“For what?” Brystol asks pulling the door to the room shut. “What if you had been caught?”
“No one even noticed I was gone.” She replies.
He looks at her in thought for a moment before he grows a smile. “Did you go just to get me this?” He asks holding up the snow globe.
Sahara rolls her eyes and walks past him opening the door as she says, “Don’t be so arrogant.”
He pushes the door shut before she can finish opening it. “You did.”
“No. I did not.” Sahara lies to him.
“Then, tell me why you went?” He says stepping closer to her.
“I don’t have to explain myself to you.” She crosses her arms with her reply.
“Regardless, you thought of me when you went.” Brystol says in a soft tone that Sahara finds unsettling.
“Quinton is waiting for me.” Sahara says trying to deter him from his investigation and she notices his smile fade quickly. “And we have plorksol practice after lunch.”
“Right.” Brystol says beginning to open the door. Then suddenly he shuts the door again, “You know he is not a good ellon, right?”
“How would you know?” Sahara huffs defensively. “Rumors aren’t always true.”
“Like the rumor that Waizlynn and I are together.” He says looking down at his feet.
“You’re always with her. And she tells everyone you are together. What do you expect elves to think?” Sahara asks trying to not sound scolding.
“I don’t care what elves think. But I thought I made it clear to you last year that I was not into taking a mistress.” He says in what Sahara can tell is a sad tone.
“What does dating have to do with having a mistress?” Sahara asks.
“I can’t fall for anyone else if I don’t date them.” He answers.
“I’m going to break the betrothal.” Sahara says confidently. “As soon as I can figure out how. So just date her already.” She leaves the room before he can stop her again.
“You alright?” Marol asks after Sahara enters their dorm room throwing her books down on her bed and kicking a stack of Bularia’s dirty clothes across the room.
“He is so annoying!” She replies. “It is like he knows just how to get under my skin and make me …ahh!” She grunts angrily as she begins to pace the floor. “He just can’t accept a gift and not read into it like that? I mean, yeah, I went there for that purpose to get it for him, but he looks into it all wrong and twists the meaning.”
“I’m sorry, who?” Marol asks trying to get Sahara’s attention but Sahara doesn’t seem to even hear Marol as she continues with her rant.
“And he just now decides to tell me he hasn’t been dating her this whole time. I mean, that makes no sense, at all. And I am the one that saw the future, so what, does he not believe me? I am going to break it. And you know what he told me last year?” Sahara continues to pace back and forth in their room as she speaks, “After he kissed me? He didn’t mean to guple me. No? Really? How would that be a freaking accident Marol? He teased me multiple times and then just expects me to be his friend…or not hate him he asked.”
“So Brystol? We are talking about Brystol right?” Marol tries to clarify again but Sahara seems to not hear her.
“It isn’t like I hate him, but I try to be nice and then he gets all weird. And he kissed me, you know last year.” Sahara says waving towards Marol. “I thought it was just because he had received bad news but now, what if it is because he likes me?” Sahara stops pacing the floor and sits down heavily on her bed. “Does he actually like me?”
“He has a funny way of showing it if he does.” Marol says blandly.
“Yeah.” Sahara looks over towards Marol, who is sitting on her own bed. “There is no way he likes me. Right?” She asks feeling unsure of her thoughts.
“He nicknamed you pukey, and like you said you don’t guple someone by accident.” Marol reasons.
“Then, what is his deal?” Sahara asks.
“Maybe you should ask him.” Marol replies.
“You make it sound so simple.” Sahara scuffs, “How do you expect me to do that. Just walk up to him and be like, Hey, so you in to me? No way! Besides, I don’t want him to be into me. I break the betrothal and we don’t get married.”
“What do you mean?” Marol asks in confusion. “How do you know you will break the betrothal?”
Sahara realizes she is saying too much, so she tries to cover her mistake in releasing information. “I know there has to be away and I will not marry him!”
“You read every book there is on betrothal contracts last year and found nothing Sahara. What makes you think you will find a way to break it?” Marol asks sounding consoling.
“There is a way. I know it.” Sahara says confidently.
“Maybe. But you have less than two years to figure it out.” Marol says shaking her head. “What if you’re wrong.”
“I’m not wrong.” Sahara says plainly before standing and leaving the room to go eat lunch.
Sahara remembers Waizlynn telling her last year that she would help her break the betrothal if she met with her. She wonders if that was actually true. What could it hurt to ask her, right? She tries to reason with herself as she skims the banquet hall for Waizlynn. Of course she is sitting right next to Brystol, as always, Sahara thinks as she rolls her eyes. “Hey.” Slagwart’s greeting stops her from moving towards Waizlynn.
“Hi.” Sahara says before letting out a sigh, realizing he just saved her from stooping to a low level.
“You alright?” Slagwart asks in his usual monotone voice.
“Fine.” Sahara fakes a happy tone and smile.
“Does this have something to do with your betrothed’s birthday party tonight?” Slagwart bumps her on the shoulder with his question before he moves away from her toward their usual table.
She glances over toward Brystol who is looking at her. She quickly looks away from him and follows Slagwart to the table. “What party?”
“You weren’t invited?” Slagwart laughs in his unemotional tone as he sits.
“Apparently not.” Sahara says feeling offended.
“That is probably because Waizlynn is throwing it.” Slagwart says.
“Of course she is.” Sahara rolls her eyes wondering why Brystol didn’t invite her. Then she realizes she doesn’t really care, or at least she shouldn’t.
“You want to be my fake date?” He says as he chews his food and Sahara finds it disgusting.
“Are you allowed a red headed plus one?” She asks giving him a doubtful look.
“Haven’t you heard, I am a rule breaker.” Slagwart winks at her.
“N…” Sahara starts to turn down his invitation but Slagwart stops her.
“Before you say no, just think of how angry Waizlynn would be if you showed up uninvited.” Slagwart makes a valid point she notes as she glances back over to Waizlynn, who is obviously flirting with Brystol.
“Good point. It would be nice to get under her skin for once instead of her always getting under mine.” Sahara smiles at the thought. “Deal. Let’s do it.”
“It is in the rec hall. Meet me at seven at the entrance to Joust Hall. And wear something,” He points to her plorksol practice clothes she is wearing. “Not academy related.”
“Like a party dress?” Sahara asks knowing she has nothing besides her academy gowns and plorksol uniforms to wear.
“Have you never been to a student party?” He narrows his eyes at her.
“No. I didn’t even realize elves had parties at the academy.” She turns in interest of the idea toward him.
“What did you do all last year?” He asks.
“Studied. I was way behind because I didn’t know anything about this world. And no one ever mentioned a party.” Sahara replies.
“Huh.” He laughs with one syllable. “Makes sense.”
She hits his arm in offense. “How did you get invited, I thought everyone disliked you too?”
“Just the elleths dislike me.” He says with a smile that she finds disgusting.
“Figures.” She says as she fills her plate to eat.
After plorksol practice, Sahara shuffles through her clothes wondering what she could wear to Brystol’s party. She had nothing that was not academy related. “Do any of you have a party dress or outfit I could wear tonight?”
“For what?” Carol asks in interest.
“You have a date with Slagwart?” Bularia blinks blankly at her.
“No. Well, yes. I guess.” Sahara realizes that is exactly what is happening. “But a fake one. Or, I think.” She suddenly feels confused by why Slagwart is making the plans for their fake dating. “We are going to Brystol’s birthday party.”
“Wait.” Marol perks up from the book she is studying. “Are we allowed to have parties on campus? Or is this at Holestroy or something?”
“No it is here, Waizlynn is throwing it. And apparently they have parties that we losers are never invited to.” Sahara says moving towards Bularia’s closet.
“I literally only have academy gowns and pajamas.” Bularia says opening her closet for Sahara to see.
“Same.” Marol and Carol say together.
Sahara feels defeated as she ponders her options. She remembers, when she was in the human world, her cousin Trina had a whole room as a closet that was filled with cute party outfits and dresses. She knows she could find something there to wear if she just could find a private place to teleport. “I know someone that will have something.” Sahara says moving to leave the dorm. “I will be back in a bit.” She moves towards the restroom and looks through the stalls to make sure she is alone, before she closes herself in a stall. She teleports to Trina’s closet, back in the human world and is relieved to find herself alone in the darkened room. After turning on the light, she begins to skim through the clothes wondering what would be acceptable to wear to an elf party. She had seen Trina dress for plenty of teenage human parties, but the elves did have a different kind of style. She finds a pair of jeans and cute halter top wondering how she would look in such an outfit. She had never dressed in anything like this before. She glances toward the door, wondering what the Craig’s are doing. She should have time to try a few things on she decides.
Before, she realizes it she has a pile of clothes laying in the middle of the floor, when she hears talking just outside of the large room. She hears Mrs. Craig’s voice scolding Trina. “You left your closet light on again. Go turn it off.” Sahara feels panicked as she looks at the large pile of clothes laying in the middle of the floor. She sees her plorksol practice clothes crumpled up on the floor and grabs them as well as a pair of black heels to match the black dress she is currently wearing. She jumps behind some hung clothes as the door to the room opens. “What?” Trina says at the pile of clothes on the floor. “Mom!” She shouts.
“What darling?” Mrs. Craig appears in the doorway and Sahara feels tears building in her eyes. She had so many memories that suddenly flood back into her mind. Seeing them after all this time was harder than she thought it could be. She teleports back to the restroom stall, trying to stop her painful emotions of missing her old cruel family.
She enters the dorm room realizing it is already past seven. She did not realize she had been in the human world so long. “We thought you had just gone to the party. What took so long?” Bularia asks.
“That is a cute dress.” Carol says in surprise. “Who did you borrow it from?”
“Uh.” Sahara realizes she can’t tell them someone they know, so she thinks of one of the random elleths in her third-year courses. “Jaleah, she is a third-year.”
Marol is tugging at the fabric of the dress. “Who makes this style, it is so unique.”
Sahara moves away from Marol hoping they do not realize she just went to the human world to get it. “I don’t know, can you help do my hair and makeup?”
“No problem.” Marol says excitedly.
By the time Sahara arrives to the entrance of Joust Hall, Slagwart appears to be angered by her tardiness. “Just like an elleth to be late.” He grumbles before his expression changes to a smile. “You look different.”
Sahara feels embarrassed as she notices other elves in the hall heading toward the rec hall staring at her in surprise. “Should I find something else to wear?” She tugs uncomfortably at the side of her dress.
“No.” Slagwart says stepping closer to her. “It is a good different.”
“Oh.” Sahara says looking down at what Slagwart is wearing. He has on jeans and a normal shirt with a jacket. “Am I over dressed?”
“No.” Slagwart looks her up and down as he answers. “You look smokin’.”
“Is that a good thing?” She asks feeling uncomfortable.
He just laughs before taking her arm and guiding her toward the rec hall. “Come on.”
After they enter the rec hall, she finds herself getting far more attention from the ellons and elleths than she had ever received. Obviously smokin’ was a good thing, she notes. It doesn’t take too long before Waizlynn finds her. “I don’t recall inviting you two losers to the party.” Waizlynn says as she moves in front of Slagwart and Sahara causing the group of elves around them to disperse.
“We were invited. And the rec room is for all elf students.” Slagwart says toward her in an annoyed manner. Waizlynn gives Slagwart a haughty look before she looks toward Sahara and purposefully pours her drink down the front of Sahara’s dress. “Oops.”
Sahara feels her insides start to quake with anger as the cold liquid begins to slide down her skin and her vision begins to turn orange. “What is your problem?” Slagwart asks in surprise towards Waizlynn.
Sahara lifts her hands, causing the liquid to leave her skin. She then throws her fingers toward Waizlynn and the liquid quickly flies into Waizlynn’s face, making Sahara feel dry again. Sahara feels her anger lessen and vision clear suddenly, as the elves in the room begin to laugh. She takes a deep breath realizing what she had just done and quickly turns to leave, but bumps into someone. “Are you okay?” She looks up meeting eyes with Brystol, but Waizlynn’s unpleasant voice prevents her from responding.
“I am the wet one!” Waizlynn squeaks angrily and it causes Brystol to glance over toward Waizlynn before glancing at Slagwart. Brystol then takes his hands off of Sahara’s arms he was holding.
“Then, maybe you should go change.” Brystol says calmly. Waizlynn huffs in surprise toward Brystol’s uncaring words. “I saw you pour the drink on her first Waizlynn.” Brystol shakes his head and Sahara wonders what is causing him to intrude now when Waizlynn had treated her so poorly at Kinderton over the summer and he just set silent.
Waizlynn stomps out of the room and Sahara catches Brystol’s eyes for a moment before he makes her feel uncomfortable, so she looks to Slagwart. “Sorry, if I ruined your party.” She says in an unapologetic tone.
“You didn’t.” Brystol shakes his head. “Waizlynn started it. Besides, I didn’t want a stupid party anyway.”
“I am going to get us some drinks.” Slagwart gives Sahara a smile as he points toward a drink table.
After Slagwart leaves, she and Brystol are standing alone. Sahara feels awkwardness set in, making her blurt out, “We can leave if this is weird.”
“If what is weird?” Brystol asks obviously showing he has no idea what she is referring to.
“He and I coming to your party. And I just launched liquid into your keeto’s fa…I mean Waizlynn’s face.” She corrects herself remembering what he had told her earlier. “If you were never dating her, why did you keep letting me refer to her as your keeto last year?”
Brystol shrugs his shoulders before his eyes soften towards her. “You look amazing, by the way.” Sahara shifts uncomfortably at his kind words and looks for Slagwart. She knows Brystol realizes her discomfort as he changes the subject. “I figured out how to play the music on the…”
She can tell he forgot what it was called, so she helps him out. “Snow globe.”
“Yes. Snow globe.” He smiles making her heart jump and it annoys her.
“It is a human song. My favorite one.” She says instantly regretting the words as he responds.
“You gave me your favorite song?” He asks turning his body towards her and she can hear the smile on his lips.
“Ugh.” Sahara huffs. “Don’t read more into it than what it is, a simple gift.”
“With your favorite song, that you snuck to the human world to get. Just for me.” He steps closer to her making her cross her arms in discomfort.
“Why do you have to be so full of yourself?” Sahara says realizing Slagwart is coming back towards them.
“I’m not.” Brystol says with a changed tone.
“Well, happy birthday.” Sahara says before moving past him to meet Slagwart.
“You good?” Slagwart says handing her a drink and glancing behind her toward Brystol. Sahara quickly downs her drink and takes Slagwart’s drink. “No, that…” Slagwart stops his words as she begins to drink his liquid. His tastes different than hers. She snarls her nose as she hands his empty glass back to him. “That was mine.” He says looking into the empty glass.
“It was disgusting. What was that?” Sahara twists her tongue around trying to lessen the stout taste.
“I spiked mine.” Slagwart grits his teeth at her in response.
“What!” Sahara gasps in surprise, “You snuck alcohol into the academy?”
“Shh.” Slagwart looks around them nervously, “We should probably get you out of here, before it hits you.” He takes her by the arm and drags her with him towards the exit.
Unfortunately, they see Waizlynn coming toward them down the hall. “Leaving so soon?” She says far too happily.
“We had fun but yeah we have other plans.” Slagwart says holding tight to Sahara, who is beginning to feel her head turn fuzzy.
“Just let me tell Sahara something first.” Waizlynn says kindly. “Privately.”
“No, we are…” Slagwart tries to talk but Sahara stops him as she pushes out of his grasp.
“I can handle her Quinton.” She says rolling her eyes.
She follows Waizlynn a few feet from others ears before Waizlynn turns to face her. “I don’t want to be your enemy.”
“Good.” Sahara says uncaringly.
“So, I wanted you to know that if you are still wanting out of the betrothal, there is an easy way out.” Waizlynn crosses her arms confidently as her nose points up toward the sky in triumph.
“What? How?” Sahara feels excitement in the words she is hearing.
Waizlynn leans in closer to Sahara’s ear and whispers, “All you have to do is lose your virtue. Then, the betrothal will be broken.”
Sahara swallows hard as Waizlynn steps back away from her. “How would you know that?”
Waizlynn smiles a confident smile with her response, “My father told me.” Then, with that Waizlynn turns and moves towards the rec hall.
“What did she say?” Slagwart asks curiously.
Sahara feels the space around her begin to feel different. “I feel funny.”
Slagwart laughs, “Yeah, come on.” Sahara glances over toward the rec hall and sees Waizlynn kissing Brystol. She feels her stomach fill with confusion at what she is seeing, had Brystol lied to her?
She feels cold as they sit on the bleachers of the plorksol field. “Here.” Slagwart slides his jacket around her shoulders. “We can sit out here until you sober up some.”
She feels more relaxed than she ever had before as she looks up at the star lit sky. “You’re not so bad.” She says laying her head over on his shoulder.
“Thanks.” He says fixing his jacket that fell off her shoulder on the opposite side of him.
“Truth.” Sahara says sitting straight up again facing him. “Did you actually get caught out here in a compromised position with that elleth?”
Slagwart smiles at her with his response, “No. I had just heard the news that my mother had fallen ill and she was hugging me. Nothing more happened. And no, to your next question. She never had a baby. That was just young elf speculation and turning something that was nothing into something big.”
“Then why where you expelled?” Sahara says laying her head back down on his shoulder trying to make the spinning around her stop.
“I wasn’t expelled.” Slagwart responds. “My mother was sick and so I left the academy to help take care of her.”
“I am sorry.” Sahara says looking to meet his eyes. “Is she alright now?”
Slagwart looks away from her and she sees the sadness in his expression, even though it is fuzzy. “She passed away.”
“That is something I can relate to.” Sahara says thinking about her parents.
“I still have my father, I can’t imagine having neither of my parents.” He says in a quieter tone.
“Is your father the drow or was your mother?” Sahara asks remembering he is half drow.
“My mother was.” He says as he turns his eyes to meet hers. She remembers what Waizlynn just told her and she wonders if it were actually true.
“Waizlynn says if I give up my virtue the betrothal will be broken.” She says looking at Slagwart, who starts to blur.
“And that is what you want to do, break the betrothal?” Slagwart asks looking intrigued.
“Could you help me break it?” She asks but Slagwart just smiles slightly toward her. She takes that as a yes as she leans up toward Slagwart’s lips and kisses them.