“Noornian. You know you’re not supposed to do that.”
“Know.” The fiendling ducked its head. “Know. Forgot. Sorry.”
Janet had been almost eight before she’d figured out that other peoples “Imaginary friends” hadn’t been twee mispronunciations of what hers was – an fiend powered on imagination. By then, it had been too late, and the whole school knew that Janet had an “Imaginary demon friend.”
Which was fine, really, except that, unlike (most) of the other students’ imaginary friends, Noornian was visible to other people. Not all the time, no, but when it forgot to cloak itself…
…well, then the more observant of Janet’s classmates would see her with a “dragonet” or a “little shoulder demon” or a “lizard of some sort” draped around her shoulders, where Noornian spent most of its time. And then the teachers would get upset, either with the students, or with Janet, or, in a few specific cases, the teachers.
Mrs. Contori had held Janet after class. Again. To scold her demon.
“Noornian, are you sure you ‘forgot?'”
“Forgot!” The fiendling waved both front paws in an urgent gesture. “Noornian good. Friendly. Forgot. Wanted to say hello to cute fire-haired boy.”
Cute fire-haired boy. Janet felt her own cheeks burning. She spoke up before Mrs. Contori could. “Noornian, it doesn’t sound like you forgot. And you know what I told you would happen if you dropped your cloak on purpose again…”
“Forgot! Forgot! Noornian will be good and not forget again!” The fiendling was flailing with four limbs now. “Only – maybe can meet fire-hair boy?”
Damnit. Janet stole a glance at Mrs. Contori, to find that the math teacher was smiling. “Janet, I think if you invited Justin home to study with you, he might be amenable to meeting your fiendling. You know,” her smile was conspiratorial, and she reached up to her shoulder to pat her own fiendling, “because it is good to keep our shoulder-demons happy. Lest they ‘forget’ more important rules.'”
“Noornian forget.” Sounding entirely smug and pleased with itself, the fiendling settled down on Janet’s shoulders to groom itself.
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