She’d been doing well enough at hiding for so long. It seemed unfair.
Ruth had been at Doomsday for five years and was working on her sixth when the “transfer student” arrived.
Everyone else seemed to have seen the new girl before Ruth did. She heard the whispers in her first-hour class, straight-out speculation by third hour, and brand new rumors by lunchtime.
It wasn’t until her last class that she saw her, though. Tall and lovely, dark skin and full lips and little horns sticking out through her long dark hair. Tófa. Ruth smiled and shook her hand, bowed and welcomed her to Doomsday. Those were the polite things to do. Those were the right things to do. Not… not what she wanted to do.
Doomsday had been an adjustment for her, right from the first. There were fae everywhere, tolerated and – more than tolerated – accepted. The woman who ran the school was a fae! Almost all their teachers were fae! Her mother – who had moved to Cloverleaf to be near Ruth – had told her to “be patient, and all will be revealed in the fullness of time.”
…and the fullness of Tófa’s lips…. no. No.
Doomsday was far more open than her home, as was Cloverleaf. Her mother seemed to adjust quickly to the permissive culture: The women and men working in the same spaces, the lack of chaperons or morality-guardians or even just priests. Ruth had felt quietly ashamed for weeks as she learned she not only would have classes with boys – and taught by male teachers, male FAE! – but that she would dorm with them, in the same big room.
But it wasn’t boys that were the problem. If the morality-guardians knew what she was thinking now…
Her own Change, painful and slow and butterfly-beautiful, had not been so shattering as the thoughts she had kept quietly to herself. She knew she was wrong, but it didn’t feel wrong. She couldn’t go home again anyway, not like this. Not fae. She wasn’t sure she would choose to go back to the priests and the chaperons, even if she didn’t look like the demons in their books.
And if she was never going home, the morality-guardians and their nightsticks would never be a problem. And her mother… her mother was becoming far more tolerant, living in Coverleaf, than Ruth had ever thought possible.
But her teachers, her peers… Ruth swallowed and looked around. They allowed so much, but would they allow…. would they truly allow her…
“Well, what are you waitin’ for?” Professor Sweetflower leaned over Ruth, whispering in her ear. “Kiss the girl, darlin’.”
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