If you haven’t noticed by now, I can be bribed to write more with art. 😉 Icon of Sylvia by @Inventrix.
Story takes place in early Year 8, in the beginning of October. Inspired in part by ‘Trix’s request (Paraphrase: “Porter! Involving Doors!”) and in part by this sketch that inspired Arundel in the first place.
Porter could, he’d found, open doors without needing there to actually be a door there. More importantly, when he closed said doors behind him, they went away again as far as anyone else was concerned.
This was turning out to be a very useful skill, because the bullies around here were big, strong, terrifying, and relentless, and the girls, while smaller, less terrifying, and in theory maybe less strong, were no less relentless. He’d spent a lot of time in the last two weeks – ever since Saturday had turned into the Day of Creeps Everywhere and he’d fallen through an accidental door into Dr. Caitrins with a splitting headache and a new tail – making shortcuts everywhere, because the less time he was in the halls, the better.
Today, he had a few minutes of peace. No-one was chasing him. No-one was rubbing up against his leg or trying to pet his tail. So he was practicing a trick he’d thought of but not really wanted to try in a pinch: namely, opening a door in the floor.
The first couple worked okay, opening him out into hallways. With a jump, he could even open a door in the ceiling. The third door he opened, however, left him standing in mid-air over someone’s dorm.
“Hello.” He knew the girl who walked into sight below him, although only in passing. “You are standing on my ceiling.”
“Your ceiling seems to be, ah, where my door was.”
“Aah. Come on in.” She pulled a chair out from under him.
The invisible barrier vanished, and he fell down the twelve feet onto her floor, landing on all fours. “Oof. What the…?” He looked around, then, because she was right there and it was her room, at the girl, hoping she wasn’t another one of the chasing-him-around sort.
She hadn’t tried yet, at least. He’d seen her in the back of a couple of his classes, Sylva, Sylvie… Sylvia. Her Change, if that’s what they were supposed to be calling it, seemed to be otter-y the way his was tiger-y, cute ears and tail and all. She was regarding him with a quizzical head-tilted expression. “That was my Sanctity. Or rather, once I invited you in, that was my Sanctity no longer taking hold.”
“Hey Porto.” Above their heads, Porter’s friend Arundel was peering through Porter’s door, which he hadn’t managed to get closed. “What’re you doing down there? Oh, hi, Sylvia.”
“Hello, Arundel. Come on in.”
“What… ack!” Arundel tumbled face-first through the portal, flailing, arms waving, legs kicking. He landed badly, hitting the edge of the bed with his chin, and struggled to reach his feet as his body seemed to sprawl wrong in all directions. He groaned suddenly, an embarrassed grunt transforming into something pained and unhappy.
“What… shit. Pardon me, miss.” Porter nodded at the girl. “Sorry, Arun, I’ll buy you a new one.”
“Abatu unutu!” He had been more than a little thrilled to learn two of his strongest Words were Destroy and Stuff; now he got to make use of it as Arundel’s… wings, yes, those big feathery eagle-looking things were wings – came painfully unfolding out of his back as his shirt disintegrated.
“Interesting.” Sylvia looked between the two of them. “Tell me, have both of you managed to avoid saying words indicating that you belong to, are the property of, or are otherwise chattel of another student?”
Porter blinked. “Uh, yes. Mostly by running, in my case,” he admitted abashedly.
“Not an unwise tactic,” she nodded. “Right then, very good. Eagle, tiger, eagle, tiger… Eenie, meenie, miney, moe…” She grabbed Porter’s tail.
“Hey!” he yelped. She smiled humorlessly and let him go.
“Right. You,” she poked Arundel’s shoulder. “You’re mine. You,” she pointed at Porter, “are in my crew. Anyone messes with any one of us, they mess with all of us, got it?”
“Um. Got it,” he offered uncertainly. “He looks like he needs help…” He remembered how badly his ears had hurt, coming in. Arundel looked like his whole spine was ripping out of his back.
The otter-girl nodded brusquely. “Got it, Arundel?”
“Yours,” he croaked. “Crew. Got it.”
“Shit,” Porter grumbled. He knew that one, and he knew the echo of an elevation-drop air-pressure change that came with it. He’d watched several of their classmates get caught that way, at the Dance, at the so-called Hell Night, and one in a tussle in the halls yesterday. He snarled at Sylvia. “Promise you’ll be good to him.”
“That’s why you’re crew with me now,” she answered placidly, “so you can be certain I am doing well by him. I promise I will do my best to be a good Keeper, which should begin with getting him to Doctor Caitrin. And closing your door into my bedroom, please.”
He glanced up at the doorway as the air rippled and popped around them. “I don’t think I can reach it. We’re going to have to go around.”
“Then let’s hurry. Your friend is hurting.”
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