Catching Up: Part Five
No one asked anyone else if they would be staying after that first training period. They all knew the answer: they were a group. They couldn't leave even if they tried.
Evea watched them carefully as they left, and smiled. The potential was there. They had it. She just had to find the right way to make them fulfill it, without ever letting them know.
The first thing to do, though, was to get them to meet often enough. They would have to find a time when none of them had class, or when only a few did.
Evea knew they would make the commitment even if it meant they had to skip another class, but she didn't want to make them do that. Their other teachers would be angry, or curious, and they would want to know why. Word would get out.
And that was what the Fire Faerie did not want to happen.
Lianar was the tacitly acknowledged leader among the group. Patricia watched her the next day before class: the Light Faerie stood next to Emm, talking a mile a minute, and then caught sight of Therisa and darted off, dragging her back almost literally by the collar to include her in the conversation.
As it was, the Dark Faerie thought, amused. Lianar was the only one talking much. She could out-talk any of them easily, even Emm, who was usually outspoken.
Patricia half-turned at Evea's voice. "Well--"
The Fire Faerie nodded. "It's often the Light Faerie," she said, coming to stand next to Patricia, "who leads the group. Who makes it all happen."
"The magic." The Dark Faerie smiled with grim humor. "You've seen a lot of groups, then?"
"I've taught here for a few years." Evea shrugged. "All the students end up in a group at some point or another, and at some point or another I teach all of them. I'd say about half, maybe more, are led by the Light Faerie."
Patricia glanced back at Lianar. "Who led your group?"
"My group?" The Fire Faerie frowned, and then smiled. "Oh, yes. My group. We were led by Earth. She didn't end up going into it for a living, though. She's down in Meridell now."
"Who was she?"
The Dark Faerie didn't really expect an answer. She was still watching Lianar, who had gotten Lillian into the conversation now, too.
"Her name's Illusen."
Patricia turned around. "She what?"
"Illusen." Evea cracked a grin. "Oh, yes. She's famous now. She was a great leader for us, though. No one sees that side of her much."
"She went to Faerie Academy?"
"Once upon a time." The Fire Faerie shrugged. "They have a list of all the famous Faeries that graduated from here up in the hall. Illusen's not there, though. She dropped out."
"She dropped out?" Patricia frowned. "Why did she do that?"
Evea smiled. "She never really liked it here. She said it stifled her. But--"
"But?" The Dark Faerie glanced over at her.
The Fire Faerie shook her head. "Never mind."
The peals of the bell that signaled the beginning of class floated down to them, and Evea straightened her back and brushed off her hands.
"All right, class, welcome," she said, and Patricia stepped away to find her place, frowning.
That evening during free time, Patricia frowned into the book she was reading. She stopped reading and sat up from where she had been lying on her dormitory bed.
The Dark Faerie dormitory around her was mostly quiet. A few groups of girls giggled in the corners, but most were out in other areas of the school, playing tricks or being tricked. Only one or two Dark Faerie first-years were spending this time studying.
Patricia closed her book and slid off her bed, slipping her feet into shoes. Leaving the book on her bed, she crossed the open dormitory floor quickly and paused by the door to scan the room. She was pleased to see that no one was taking any notice of her.
The Dark Faerie smiled and slipped out of the room quietly into the halls of the Academy.
The third floor in the west dormitory wing was all reserved for Dark Faeries' rooms, separated out into years. Below them were Earth, and then Fire. On the opposite side of the school, the other wing of the school roomed the Light, Air and Water Faerie students.
Patricia came down the last few steps to the ground level and looked around. The Fire Faeries' floor wasn't quite as quiet as the Dark Faeries'. Girls raced from room to room, giggling, pranking each other, even this early in the term.
The Dark Faerie watched them for a moment, dark eyebrows raised, and then turned her gaze towards the halls leading out into the school proper. One of them would lead her straight to the entrance hall--the others would get her there, too, she guessed, but there was only one direct route.
Patricia picked a hall that seemed to be heading in the right direction and set off. The Fire Faeries' antics continued on behind her unabated.
The globes of Faerie-light that usually illuminated the grand hall were dark, and the room lay in shadows.
Good for Dark Faeries, Patricia thought, standing where the corridor met the larger space, and she smiled. She still hesitated for a moment, though. There was no particular rule against going in here after classes were over, but it was a little spooky.
Nothing was there, the Dark Faerie told herself. Nothing to be afraid of.
She crept out into the hall slowly, placing her feet carefully to make the least noise possible. The shadows lay silent and still. Nothing moved, except for her.
Patricia started to relax as she reached the middle of the hall, where the moonlight was brightest. This was going better than she had expected.
On the far wall hung the pictures she was looking for. They were hanging in chronological order, the oldest near to the door, the newest all the way down at the other end. Patricia thought, counting back the years, and turned right to look at the ones coming from farther back.
A Fire Faerie Patricia didn't recognize, a Light Faerie, two Water Faeries--one of whom, she realized, was the Faerie from the Healing Springs. She squinted at the printed plaque under the picture, but the moonlight wasn't strong enough, and type too small, to read.
After that portrait was one of an Air Faerie, and then Jhudora. The Dark Faerie was younger, in that picture, than she was in any Patricia had seen, but she was still easily recognizable.
Patricia smiled. She had thought so. It was good to know, though.
She bent her head to look at Jhudora's plaque, and frowned at it. It was hard to read, too, even a few steps closer to the source of the light. Patricia glanced up at the moonlight streaming through the stained glass window and then back at the painting of the Dark Faerie, frowning. There had to be a way to get more light.
She could just come back during the day, she thought, and then shook her head. No, that wouldn't work. There were too many people around then--too many other Faeries. There had to be some other way.
Well, Faeries could create light, right? The only problem would be how. Patricia held up her hand and looked at it--Faeries conjured light into their hands all the time. She frowned at it. She willed light to it. She glared. She sighed, at last, and took her hand down.
Then again, she was a Dark Faerie. She was sure Light Faeries could make light like anything, but Dark Faeries were the opposite of that, right? The most she could probably do would be to take away some of the darkness, and that sounded like advanced magic.
Patricia bit her lip and sighed again, looking back at Jhudora's portrait. At least she knew, now, that the famous Faerie had graduated from here. And she thought she knew what Ms. Evea had been about to say earlier that day.
It made sense, anyway, that Illusen would have left if she argued with Jhudora. Odd sense, but sense all the same. She didn't know anything else that would drive the mild-mannered Earth Faerie to leave, and they were the most famous quarreling Faeries on the face of Neopia.
Patricia wondered briefly if Jhudora had been Dark for Evea's Racing team, and then smiled. It was doubtful, that they had had two Faeries on one team who later became famous. Doubtful that they even would've been in the same year, or the same class. And they would have had to know each other to be on the same team.
Still, she wondered.
But there was nothing more to do there--nothing more to see. Patricia looked one last time at Jhudora's picture and then turned to leave. If she hurried, she could get a little more studying done before lights-out.
To be continued...