Kael looked between Caron and Hallsey, wondering exactly what she’d said that was getting her such strange looks from both of them.
“Are you offering… to teach us? On something like a regular basis?”
“But not potions,” Hallsey added to her friend’s question. “But like… how to find out history?”
“That depends.” Kael was feeling out her answer as she went, but she was pretty sure she was on the right track. “Do you want to learn potions, history, or both?”
“Are you for real?” Caron stared at her. “Are you really – I mean, what would you charge?”
“Well, classically,” Kael found herself smiling, “there would be an apprenticeship, and you would live in my tower and do work for me of a sort that would educate you. But since it’s not, technically, my tower and this isn’t classic days, I suppose we can work something out where you can help me learn more about this city and in turn I can help you learn more about the past.”
“But why would you? I mean, we’re a couple, we’re kids, i mean-” Hallsey trailed off uncomfortably.
“Because I enjoy teaching.” Kael set the stirring tool down for a moment and stretched. “And I haven’t had a chance in a while. And besides, I’m new to this city, and there’s a lot I don’t know about it.”
Caron pinned her with a thoughtful glance. “Would we keep pretending you were from the past?”
“Well, it’s kind of a fun conceit, isn’t it? You can do that when we’re up here, maybe, and then out there, just like I’m from out of town.”
“You’ll need clothes to fit in out there. The Kaelingrade robe is pretty, but it’s not the sort of thing anyone your age wears anymore. At least not here.” Hallsey gave her a thoughtful look. “You came with other clothes?”
“No, I – well, I was studying before, so all I wore was academic robes,” she tried. She was going to be in trouble when the translation potion wore off. “So all I have are things very similar to the sort of thing I wear as Kael, but not as pretty.”
“There’s still places that wear things like that? Where were you, a cloister?”
The word came with an image of being up on a mountain, locked away from everyone, in a very old-fashioned sort of place. “Yes,” Kael “admitted.” “It was something like that. So if you wanted to help me with shopping, too…”
Caron groaned. Hallsey grinned and clapped her hands together.
“Oh, I can do that. I can help you find the best deals and something that will make you look absolutely on point.”
“Halls, she’s not a high schooler like us. She doesn’t want to pick up the hottest lacrosse player.”
“I know that.” Hallsey rolled her eyes in Caron’s general direction. “I will have you know I helped my mother and my aunt both get promotions at work and my cousin Alfrein land the job she really wanted. I am good at fashion. And since Madame Kaelingrade here has a work uniform of ‘look like she came out of a storybook’ and seems to like her job, she needs stuff that lets her it in outside in the real world, semi-casual stuff that makes her look good. That’s easy. And you don’t know, Caron. There’s college and professional lacrosse, too. She might want a lacrosse player.”
Lacrosse filled itself in for Kael: images of someone tough and muscular swinging a stick with a net at the end. She was pretty sure they’d played something very similar back in her home village.
“I,” she coughed, “would like real-world semi-casual stuff, yes. I don’t need to, ah, go looking for another job, or for anything similar. I enjoy this job.”
“All right,” Caron allowed. “As long as you trust Hallsey’s judgement, I’m not going to argue. As long as I don’t have to come along.”
“Of course you have to come along.” Hallsey punched Caron in the arm. “It’s going to be part of our lessons, right? So you need to come translate things for Madame Kaelingrade, because I’m horrid at it. And then we can show her the library and she can help us figure out what the truth is.”
“So.” Caron cleared his throat. “Are we really doing this? Going about this whole thing, learning about the past or, um, learning how to learn about the past from, no offense, a woman whose job it is to pretend to be a historical figure?”
“Why not? I mean right now we’re learning from someone who … well, you said he lies to us. And besides, she works at a museum, and she — sorry, ma’am, talking in front of you — seems to know what she’s talking about. So why not?” Hallsey squared her shoulders and stared at her friend challengingly.
Kael couldn’t help but be a little amused. “I know what I’m talking about,” she assured them. “So when is good for you to come visit me? I can work out my schedule with Mr. Vibius once I know what sort of time I will need.”