Written to Kuro_Neko’s commission. The 0th Cohort were a test year before the First Cohort of Addergoole, and, as documented in Addergoole: Year Nine, many things went wrong. This is where things started going south.
“And for your homework tonight, class, be sure to read Chapters Seven and Eight of the History of the Americas text. And start thinking about your mid-term projects – yes, Nyla?”
Nyla’s hand was up. That didn’t seem like a good idea to her. Her hand was up and her lips were moving and how had she let herself get talked into this?
Oh, that was right. Because Professor Valerian liked her. Because she was the one with the leaf-green eyes and the forest-green hair and the tree-professor thought she was cute.
Nyla missed juvie.
She coughed. “Professor Valerian? We heard a rumor that this school has some unusual graduation requirements.”
We heard a rumor was code for Aine slipped through the wall and read the Director’s confidential documents. But it was a rumor now.
The professor frowned over her glasses at Nyla. “That information was to be shared with each of you from your Mentors.”
Which Valerian really wanted to be, for Nyla. Could trees impregnate other trees? How did this fae thing work, anyway?
“So that means the graduation requirements are real?”
“That’s something you’d need to discuss with your Mentor, should you get around to choosing one.”
“Professor?” Nyla was smiling. Why was she smiling? Why was this fun? It shouldn’t be fun… “Have you noticed that neither of us have said what these ‘graduation requirements’ are? For all I know, you’re talking about a GPA of 3.75.”
The class murmured. Addergoole was tough. A 3.75 might be harder than the requirements Nyla was actually talking about.
Professor Valerian’s smile was awfully sharp. Trees didn’t have teeth, no. But, Nyla was realizing, they could have thorns. And they might move slowly, but they could crush rocks nonetheless. “I did notice that, Nyla. Why do you think that might be?”
“Well, on your part, there’s always the chance that the thing I think it is really isn’t what it is – and we’re really talking about that 3.75. Or you don’t know that I know, and you’re avoiding telling me something I’m just hinting around the edges of.”
“You’re doing well so far.”
When had this become a school problem? Well, they were in school and she was asking a teacher. Around her, the rest of the small class sat quiet. For a moment, Nyla hated them all. “And as for me – I seem to have a hard time getting the words out, truth be told.” She pieced it together slowly. “The rumors are all sideways, too.”
“And why do you think that might be?” Now, Valerian’s eyes swept across the room. “Juniper, yes?”
Juniper could have asked the question. Juniper was a tree-girl even more than Nyla was. But noooo, it had to be the juvie-hall girl, ‘cause Nyla was brave.
Nyla’s head was spitting from forcing out the question, and they still didn’t have an answer.
“Is it some sort of aversion?” Juniper rolled her shoulders and took in a long, loud breath. “Like – ah. We don’t call home. That sort of thing?”
“And why do you think there would be that sort of aversion?”
It was Caiside, pretty, pretty Caiside, who answered. “Because someone thinks we’ll freak out – or our parents will freak out.”
What was the professor doing? Nyla looked around the room again, at the slowly dawning comprehension on all her classmate’s faces. It was Melantha that spoke up this time. “So it’s true. This is – this is some sort of breeding school.”
Everyone let out a collective breath. It had been said. Someone had put the words in the open. And Professor Valerian had her lips pressed together very tightly, which had to be saying something.
“Then why bother with classes?” Zetta had risen half out of her chair, her hands clenched into fists. “Why bother with all this, with training, with magic, with the Law, if it’s all for nothing? If this is just to get us knocked up and waddling around with faerie babies?”
It was a good question. The classes were challenging – they were way more in-depth than anything Nyla had had back home, but that could’ve been because of juvie – the magic lessons were exciting, and the combat training was really, really hard. But if this was meant to be a place to make babies…
Professor Valerian coughed. “It may be hard to believe right now, but being parents and being scholars, or being parents and being warriors, these things are not mutually exclusive. Everything in this school is meant to educate you, not to placate you.”
“Except the aversions keeping us from talking about this stuff.” Zetta was on her feet and away from her chair now. “Except the lying to us about it. How is it supposed to happen? Is there some sort of lust Working in the walls, too?”
Professor Valerian looked amused. Amused. Nyla was beginning to feel as irritated as Zetta looked. “Generally, no lust Workings are needed when you have a number of active teenagers in an enclosed space.”
“What happens…” Caiside’s voice was very quiet, but everyone listened. “What happens if we do not have these children?”
Professor Valerian coughed uncomfortably. “I am not given to understand that that’s an option.”
That hung in the air for a moment. Nyla stood up, her chair scraping loudly against the tile. “Well, then.” It was better than Fuck this shit. She walked out of the room, uncertain where she was going.
There was no way out of Addergoole. Nyla had tried. Luke had come to get her for class, and she had explained in short words why that wasn’t happening. He’d stared at her for a moment, giving the uncomfortable impression that he was living up to his Name, then nodded curtly. “Tomorrow.”
Tomorrow wouldn’t be any better than today, but she could deal with it then. Tonight, tonight she was going to sit in her room and eat cookie dough ice cream and sulk about the unfairness of the world.
“Top-notch education,” she muttered. “Bucolic location. They’ll get you into college even with your arrest record.”
“Are you talking to yourself, Nyla?” Caiside leaned on her door-frame. “You skipped afternoon classes.”
“I was angry.” She glared at him, as if daring him to challenge that. He held up both hands in surrender.
“I am, too.”
You couldn’t tell to look at him. Then again, about all you could tell about Caiside looking at him as that he was beautiful.
And that he was not moving from her doorway. “Come on in,” she offered. “Grab a spoon, if you want. Do you even like girls?”
He blushed! He did even that beautifully. “Why do you ask?”
Nyla raked her eyes up and down Caiside‘s fashionable, pretty form. “Do you really not know?”
His blush darkened, and now, now he managed to step inside her threshold. “Yeah, I’ve heard it before. But I don’t think it matters who I ‘like’, does it? I still need to provide the same children everyone else does.”
Nyla resisted telling him that the way he talked did nothing to quiet thoughts about his interest in boys, girls, or possibly sheep. She stabbed the ice cream with her spoon instead. “Man, the one thing, one thing I could say about myself is that at least I wasn’t a teen mother.”
“Well… how old are you?” Caiside sank gracefully into Nyla’s arm chair.
“Well, if you waited until the very end, you could have a child at twenty – but that’s only one of them, of course. You’d have to stay an extra year, I suppose.”
“There’s also the matter of the rest of my life, you know? This place pays for college; it’s right in the letters. Only way I was ever going to get into a school like that. And then… bang. It’s like it was all some stupid joke.” She ate a mouthful of ice cream and passed it to Caiside.
He reached one ridiculously long arm into her silverware drawer and grabbed a spoon for himself. “On the upside, I suppose, there is the fae thing.”
“But they tell us that’s genetic. I mean, we would have been… oh. Oh, oh, fuck them.” Nyla put her face in her hands. “Oh, fuck them sideways.”
Caiside glanced at the open door. “Are you sure…?”
“What are they going to do?” Her voice was getting louder and she didn’t really care. “Lock me up in a prison until I produce genetic material for them? Oh, wait. They already did them. This is fucking eugenics, Cass. They want pretty fae babies, and they brought pretty fae kids to do it. And then – then what? I mean, maybe we won’t even have to worry about raising the kids, maybe they’ll keep them. Maybe they’re going to raise our kids in tubes or something. I mean, then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything except two pregnancies before I’m twenty and… and…” She caught a sob before it entirely escaped. “And being a prisoner,” she added, far more quietly.
“They say… didn’t they say that our parents enrolled us? That our parents knew where they were sending us? When they started teaching us magic, they said something like that.” Caiside‘s voice was still quiet, but Nyla thought she heard a storm beneath it.
“You can’t mean our parents…” Then again, Nyla’s parents had let her go to juvie without a second thought. “Shit. No help there, then. I mean, even if the mind control let us call them.”
“You sound as if you’re in some distress.” The melodic voice in the doorway made them both jump.
“Ah…” Casside was blushing. “Professor Kairos. Ah. I’m sorry…”
“There’s no need. You two are not the only ones distressed by the arrangements, you understand. Perhaps, if I could come in, I might be able to help you.”
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/910979.html. You can comment here or there.