The hallways had been loud and dark all morning. Circia had hidden in her room with her plants and her Biology homework and tried to ignore it. There’d been one time where someone pounded on her door, but she’d shouted “go away,” ignoring the pounding echoing in her head, and nobody else had bothered her.
Now it was nearly dinner time, and Circia found herself both hungry and craving sunlight. Sun was hard to get around here, but if she could make her way to the grotto… Tigg had enjoyed showing her the broad indoor garden, walking her around it, telling her all about the plants. He was a nice guy, if a little too intent on visiting her every day. She wondered if it had been him knocking on her door. Well, he was just going to have to learn about the word “no.”
She hardly noticed the thistles trailing like vines behind her, or the way they wrapped the outside of her door. Somehow, they seemed natural. And, once she had made it into the grotto, it seemed natural that they, like her, would reach up for the sky and the strange indoor sunlight.
When they found her in there, several hours later, Tigg was still complaining of the swelling in his hands. “Isn’t the saying ‘grasp the nettle?’”
Circia barely heard him. Her feet were deep in the dirt and her prickers had all settled into place. The fake sun was warm enough on her face, and she could feel the whole grotto through her vines.
She opened her eyes slowly, to find Professor Valerian, Professor Fridmar, and Tigg staring at her. “I think I’ll stay here for a while,” she informed them sleepily.
The professors, in turn, studied the prickly vines Circia had woven around the carnivorous trees and strange plants that made up the grotto. “Yes. I think you will,” Professor Valerian agreed. Tigg’s whining aside, she thought no-one here would want to grasp this nettle, let alone firmly.
“Poor Regine,” she murmured to Fridmar, as they left Circia to her sun and her dirt. “And poor your students. They do so hate it when they come with natural weaponry.”
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