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Joshua was still leaning against the door. He let his bag drop, but it didn’t hit the floor. A book flew off a shelf and hit the wall before flopping down. He had to get control.
The fine line she stood on between tearing down the way things were and being so important to her people’s traditions was not easy for her. Joshua could feel that. He didn’t want to stress her more than she already was. He hung his head down and took a deep breath. He heard a pencil cup slide across a desk and spill all over the floor, then his bag hit the ground. Easier decided than done.
[i “Then we buy you time to figure it out. We fight. And we find your grandmother. You want to talk to her, right?”]
It was something he’d picked up on. She seemed to love her grandmother, and seek her guidance. What if her grandmother urged her to marry Roman? The thought made his chest ache, but her desire for her grandmother wasn’t something Joshua would deny her. If it would make her happy he would help. Her family wanted her at least, and she had a place with her people.
Joshua pushed himself away from the wall and went to sit on his bed. He tried not to think of his own family, but it was hard to keep his thoughts from straying. The years before his powers, when his father was proud and his mother affectionate. His little brother had looked up to him then. When Joshua couldn’t hide his powers anymore his mother had been so afraid and his father got angry to hide his disappointment. His brother just got worried that he would be a ‘freak’ too, but he ended up perfectly normal. He hadn’t seen them in years.
The confusion swirling through Rosalind definitely isn’t her own, but she can’t even begin to decipher her own feelings, so how could she even try and decipher the level of possessiveness and heart ache that Josh was also feeling in that moment? His words, they seem so simple, a denial of the union is simple in thought, but if one were to deny a union back in the village they would be ostracized from the village, for one didn’t deny the powers of the old gods, the powers gifted to the chosen fae that makes up the pillars of all fae existence. Though she isn’t in the old village, and she is a pillar, not of the fae but of the rebellion. The whole point of her position is to uproot the accepted and known boundaries for the life they are living, so why should she have to accept this predetermined fate?
She does her best to get to class as quickly as possible, but her train of thought causes her to make several wrong turns, but eventually she makes it to her class, taking her seat and simply staring at the sheet of paper in front of her, searching once again for sign of forgery. She doesn’t even make any motion to get her things from her bag, and at several points she feels the presence of the fellow pixie hovering over her. The teacher doesn’t say anything, clearly having read the letter over her shoulder and electing to leave Rosalind to her thoughts.
[#f08080 [i “I don’t know how much of an option that is. On the one hand, I am a part of the rebellion that intends to change the way we run our society and fight to the death if I have to, to give non-hum beings rights. Though on the other hand, how much of our traditions does that mean I give up on? How much of our ways do I need to let go of to accomplish that? I’m fighting for the freedom to make my own decisions, but if I spit on an ancient ritual such as the union between the maiden and another powerful creature of the fae, what could happen to me? This union is a tradition that dates back to the time of the old gods, something that was originally said to be a union between the maiden and one of the many gods. It’s supposed to be sacred, but how am I supposed to know what’s truly sacred and what’s merely folklore?”]] Rosalind sets the paper down, watching the lingering gleam from pixie dust being deeply ingrained into the composition of the parchment. If it is a fake, Rosalind has yet to find any kind of sign of that.
Joshua had to stop in the hallway when Rosalind’s memories flashed through his head. He leaned against the wall with his eyes shut. He saw her mourning her family, and the arrangement of a match with a Fae boy. Roman? He wasn’t aware of when he learned the name, but he knew that was right.
She was getting married? To him? [i “What!?”]
The thought courses through his head, worried, confused, and angry. Her emotions had fueled his, at first, and now he was a confused mess. A confused mess with more power than he knew what to do with. The lights flickered in the hallway. Not good. A door opened and slammed shut. He forced himself the rest of the way to his room and shut the door. The power was flowing with his outrage, and his head felt like it would split apart. He was trying so hard to keep most of this back from Rosalind. She couldn’t marry Roman. Arranged marriage or not, Joshua wouldn’t let that happen. His head throbbed with the effort to reign in his emotions and power, even as the lights in his room flickered.
Sending only words was impossible, be he tried,[i “Then don’t do it. Don’t marry him.”]
His head wasn’t the only thing that ached. His heart did too. They’d only just started dating. They hadn’t even told anyone. They couldn’t tell anyone, not unless their plan worked. But she was engaged. Was he supposed to propose now? His head was spinning.
Josh's words pierce the crashing of Rosalind's world, drawing her back into the reality of the moment she's in. She allows him in, to see what she's seeing, to remember all of the long nights mourning her family, the many nights her Grandmother had talked to Roman's parents, arranging a match between them all of those years ago. Rosalind feels like she's being strangled alive, like the air filling her lungs is catching fire and burning her from the inside out. She leans against the lockers and slides to the floor, trying to piece together what exactly is going on.
[#f08080 "I'm getting married"] She says the words aloud, testing how they feel on her lips. [#f08080 [i "You know how I mentioned that I'm such a fast flyer because of the years of generations of fast flyers getting together?"]] Rosalind stares at the parchment clenched in her hands, clinging to it like it's some kind of lifeline [#f08080 [i "Well that comes from years of arranged marriages. Given the fact that our people have only female creatures that are born specifically with the abilities of a maiden mother or croan that come to fruition when appropriate it wouldn't matter who I married, not to our people at least. But I mourned my grandmother, and the first thing I hear from her in over a decade since I thought she dies is that I'm to marry a sympathizer! I don't know what I should be feeling right now."]] Rosalind stares at the paper a moment longer before finally folding it up and putting it in her bag, knowing that she needs to leave now to make it to class on time.
[i “It was alright. It’s good to get away from people though.”] It was like a pressure had been lifted in his head. Away from the bustle of the cafeteria he couldn’t feel people as strongly.
Rosalind’s thoughts hit him like a sack of bricks. It wasn’t anything he quite recognized as coherent, but some jumble of strong emotions. It made him freeze, dazed for a moment. He was just standing there, but it felt like he’d just been knocked down by a wave and was struggling to keep his head above water. Joshua put his hand to his head and started walking again, eager to get to his dorm so he couldn’t be seen behaving strangely,[i “Are you alright? What happened?”]
Whatever had happened, Joshua was worried. Something that would make her feel that strongly wasn’t likely to be a small thing, was it? He was trying not to jump to any conclusions, like fear that she’d been caught. It was hard not to think of that. One or both of them being caught, and what would happen to them both then. Nothing good, and they would certainly never be allowed to stay together, their plans would crumble.
It's like vines of pure warmth wrap around Rosa when Josh reaches out to her, piercing the dark clouds that had taken up residence inside of her head from thoughts of how life should be. His question is welcome as the class is coming to a close, allowing an even further distraction from her surroundings. [i [#f08080 "I'm alright, just got a bit wrapped up in memories of my family is all. How was the dinner?"]] Rosa asks, trying to walk out of the class room, only to run into Roman.
[b "Hey are you okay? You were late to class which never happens and you've been pretty distracted tonight and as your fiancé that has me a bit concerned"] Roman says, quickly following into pace beside Rosa as she tries to get away from him. She has spent years arguing with him about him calling her that, but today she doesn't have the energy to do so, [#f08080 "I'm fine Roman, no need to be concerned"] Rosalind says, hardly looking at him, already familiar with the grass green shade of his hair and the disheveled way he prefers to keep it and the amber color of his eyes and how they glisten under the lights, the pointed shape of his wings are even familiar to her, with their green hues giving way to golden flecks in certain parts. If Rosalind weren't disgusted by his loyalty to the Human Dictators she might find him attractive, but instead the sight of him merely makes her stomach churn.
[b "Oh, okay, I'm glad to hear that you are okay, I'd be a bit disheartened if you weren't doing well, especially since our wedding day is coming up here soon. I was surprised to get the letter from the Fae elder today, but boy was I ecstatic. I thought they were all dead, but when I got that letter it was like all of the stars aligned. The summer Solstice is so close, but I'm glad that we can start the next chapter of our lives with a tradition of our people. It'll be nice to honor them in small ways before we are finally cured-"] Roman keeps talking but Rosalind can't hear him anymore, not over the racing of her own thoughts.
Before she even realizes it, her wings have burst from her back and she's taken off, flying as quickly as her wings will take her to the Mail room.
All of the elders had perished with the Village, that's what they told her. That her family went up in smoke along side her home, that the only ones that were spared were those young enough to be taught the right way to live. The elders had died and the only pillars of the community that stood were her and Farley, that everyone else was gone.
Rosalind opens her mail box with shaking hands, finding a letter with an official bark paper envelope with her grandmothers seal. She opens it and tries to figure out who would fake such a thing, to figure out how someone could replicate her grandmother's hand writing on the official parchment, but the only thing that her eyes can look at is the signing off.
[center [i [b P.S. Yes, my flower bud, I am still alive]]]
It was easy enough to keep only vaguely aware of Rosalind as the dinner conversation moved on. There was concern for Alex given the subject of class tomorrow, but then things moved onto other topics, like what they’d been doing lately. Joshua was pretty quiet though that, only mentioning he’d been busy with a project.
Alex tried psychically getting his attention a few more times, but gave up. Still, Joshua could feel not just her trying to get attention, but Tom’s excitement, Ethan’s discomfort, and the mixed emotions in the cafeteria. It was stronger than he was used to, but he was managing to keep himself from getting overwhelmed.
It was still a relief when he was done with dinner and could leave a little early claiming he needed to catch up on the reading. They teased him a bit about not having done it already, which he laughed with. It was on the way back to his dorm that the sad feeling from Rosalind hit him. Home-sickness? He kept walking, but reached out to her,[i ”Are you alright?”]
The pressure of 30 pairs of eyes watching her every move is an odd sort of pressure, like sparks of fairy dust crawling all over her skin. The majority of this class is filled with other members of the summer fae, with a very small portion even coming from the sanctuary with her. Several eyes flitter away once she's taken her seat, but one clings to her like their life depended on it, and Rosalind doesn't even have to meet his gaze to know that it's Roman staring at her.
Roman is a summer fae like her, from the sanctuary, one of the few spared, and also the person her grandmother was in the midst of securing a union for her with. Talk of their union ended when the flames engulfed their home of course, but Roman has not let her forget what might have been in the past 10 years since their capture. The worst part is that Roman couldn't be more different than her. While she secretly plots for the freedom of all non-human creatures, Roman heads straight into their grasp. He's even gone as far as suggesting that once they are finished with school in two years that they participate in the highly dangerous and highly experimental procedure to remove all of their fae characteristics and essentially make them human.
Thankfully Roman is sitting in the very back of the class and the only seat available is in the very front. Rosalind doesn't have the mental capacity to fend off Roman's advances right now, not while her thoughts are consumed with the little creatures that are sleeping peacefully in her room.
She mindlessly takes notes, hardly interested in the construct of the average faerie and it's differences to pixies. How could she be? When she has created completely new life and the construct is completely new and unknown?
This train of thought causes a surge of home-sickness to rage through her. If her grandmother were here with her, she'd know the best way to keep these creatures alive, the proper way for them to grow and how to analyze their construct without causing them any harm. Not to mention she'd throw an amazing party, because the creation of life is something widely celebrated in her race, whether its in traditional means or something like this. Her heart breaks because she should be parading the creatures around, not forcing them to hide in the shadows.
With the pixie dust hidden Joshua headed to the cafeteria for dinner. Despite delays he wasn’t terribly late. He got his tray of food and slid into an empty spot at the edge. The conversation paused for them to greet him and try to drag him into the conversation. Alex was staring at him, be he was trying not to look directly at her. Tom started talking, the guy clearly the most interested in whatever the topic was.
“Hey Josh, what do you think? So we were talking about the reading for biology, what do you think about the latest section?”
Joshua nodded when there was a pause,”Okay, what was the reading? I haven’t done it yet.”
There was laughter and Tom shook his head,”Dude, you’re gonna fail if you keep skipping the reading. Anyway, it’s the section on mutts like our lovely Alex.”
Joshua briefly glanced at Alex, who gave a slight smile, but was watching intensely. Joshua looked back at Tom and prompted him to continue,”Oh?”
Tom rolled his eyes,”You know, the books and teachers keep talking about how mixing human and non-human is so awful. It’s dumb, right?”
Ethan was looking uncomfortable. Not just looking, Joshua could feel it. Some sort of conflict. Joshua answered slowly,”Yeah. Doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
He was aware his limited dating now included two girls who weren’t human. Not that he could tell anyone about Rosalind just yet. The discouragement of human and non-human dating had always seemed off to Joshua, and a little arbitrary.
James elbowed Joshua,”Of course.”
A clear reference to Alex being his ex. Ethan squirmed in his seat and spoke up,”We’re talking about it because it’s sure to come up in class tomorrow. And Alex is…”
All eyes were on Alex. Alex was a half elf, and the only one at the table that wasn’t fully human. The girl sitting next to her put an arm around her,”We’ve got your back.”
Ah. Right. A discussion like that was an uncomfortable topic for Alex. Some teachers were outright hostile to her over the issue, and at best they turned a blind eye to any students who decided to give her a hard time even if the teacher wasn’t singling her out.
Alex smiled and hugged her friend,”Thanks. I’ll be fine. You guys worry too much.”
Joshua could feel Alex. It was gentle, like a knock asking to be let into his head. He ignored her, but felt another wave of discomfort from Ethan. What was going on? Ethan almost seemed angry under everything.
Joshua shrugged,”A lot of the teachers are kind of dumb about the subject. Alex knows we don’t care.”
Joshua’s thoughts strayed to Rosalind. Yet another reason he wanted this system gone. Even ignoring the powers that were bound to get them into a whole lot of trouble, a relationship between them would not be one administrators would approve of.
Once Rosalind Shuts the door behind Josh, She simply stands there for a moment, feeling the pounding of her heart running through her body. The silence that falls over the room is broken only by the strange noises of the creatures, clearly worried about Rosalind's stationary position. It's not until she feels the vines of one of the creatures wrapping itself around her leg does she finally move. She picks up the creature and walks over to her bed, allowing herself a few more moments of peace before she has to get ready to leave.
She takes a moment and really looks at the creatures, taking note of how structures each creature is. Even though they appear to be made from bark and leaves they are truly made from something else entirely. Rosalind doesn't know enough about this process to be able to accurately identify what they are now, but the previously fragile plants are now sturdy and impenetrable, not that she's attempted to penetrate them when anything beside her finger pushing firmly against what was once an orchid petal.
Even though she wants nothing more than to stay on her bed and spend the night figuring out how the creatures remain alive, she knows she has to leave for class if she wants to make it on time. She manages to get herself ready to leave rather easily, but just as she's about to say good bye to the creatures they appear ready to jump into her bag, unaware that they would not all fit. [#f08080 "I'm sorry, you guys can come with me this time, you've gotten too big for me to be able to hide you guys properly. You will have to wait until I get back, and I promise I will be coming back."] Rosalind says as she runs her hand through the leaf/fur of two if the creature. They begin to make sad noises with their eyes actually watering up.
[#f08080 "Oh no, no, no don't do that. I'll be back before you know it. Just try and get some sleep and before you know it I'll be right back here."] Rosalind says, scooping up the creatures into her arms, doing her best to sooth them.
It takes a solid 35 minutes before Rosalind is able to calm them down and get them to fall asleep. Once they are, she literally has to fly to class to at least attempt to make it on time. Despite her best effort, Rosalind still ends up arriving 10 minutes late, and now she is wildly out of breath and her back is aching. Her professor scolds her in front of the rest of her class, but thankfully he allows her to take a seat before he resumes class.
Joshua returned her smile and put the jars into his bag. It was so easy to be around her. Despite not being a psychic herself, she seemed to take very naturally to the way of communicating. Two simultaneous conversations, shared emotions, and often acting different from how you felt.
[i “Of course.”] Only it wouldn’t have been so easy without her. He looked down at her, responding easily enough to the conversation meant to be overheard,”Yeah, definitely. It was fun, and I think we’ll have the best project.”
Training dictated that attachments were potential weaknesses for psychics. Something to be exploited if the connection was too strong. They were told to be cautious, but with Rosalind he was realizing something else. True enough she could be used against him, but she was giving him something to fight for. He wouldn’t have taken the risks with the pixie dust or maybe even the rebellion if not for the desire to protect her.
Joshua realized he was just standing there, and offered an awkward smile,”See you.”
He left, going directly to his room. He would need to drop off his bag, and this was the perfect time. He was late for dinner, so his roommate would be with Alex at dinner. No chance of being caught, then the pixie dust would be safe and he could go to dinner with some excuse about the project work talking too long.
Rosalind moves to stand as well, holding his hand in hers, knowing that once he leaves she’ll have to get ready for class. That once he leaves it won’t be long before he is under the gaze of Alex. Rosalind hears his voice in her head, feeling a wave of concern for the delicateness of the topic. She can feel the pressure of fear and excitement rising simultaneously at the risks they are taking for a chance to be free once more.
To Rosalind, a moment of true and genuine fresh air granted only by true freedom is worth any and all risk she must take to earn it. [#f08080 [i “That shouldn’t be a problem; I was able to find you through the connection so I should be able to lead you to me through it as well.”]] She leans up and gives him a quick and soft kiss, before going over and grabbing all but one of the jars of pixie dust [#f08080 [i “Thank you for taking these with you as well, I know that it’s risky for you to take these to your dorm and I am very grateful that you are willing to take that risk.”]] She gives him a genuine smile, waiting for him to fully put them in his bag before walking him to her door, [#f08080 “Thank you for coming over and helping me with our project, I had a lot of fun today. I’ll see you later to work on it some more right?”] She says aloud, holding the door open for him, hoping that the creatures will have the sense to remain hidden from sight of anyone who might pass down the hallway.
Rosalind stands there staring at him, feeling a strange sense of peace, like the kind only someone blissfully ignorant can have. Somehow being there right in front of him reminds her of being a child free to roam the peaceful village safely hidden from the human society that wished so strongly to oppress all of their kind. Somehow he makes all of the horrible scars seem to fade away, and she isn’t sure if that’s a positive thing or something that will only cripple her in the upcoming events to occur during the rebellion.
“Mmm, it might be nice. I’ve been avoiding people lately.” He could feel her worry along with his own, but both of them were ignoring it. That was probably for the best, since there wasn’t much either of them could do about it for now. Skipping classes wasn’t really a viable option. Alex was making it impossible to continue to avoid her.
“I will. I doubt she’ll try too much for now. You know, I think you scare her a little.” He smiled and brushed her cheek, letting his fingers run into her hair. He knew she was really worried, and he couldn’t deny that he was worried too. Alex [i might] try something, depending on how much she thought she could get away with. Joshua wanted to think more optimistically, and besides that there seemed to be some truth to it. Alex wasn’t dismissive of Rosalind, she seemed to genuinely not want to antagonize her too much.
He sighed,”I guess that means I better go for now. I’ll see you later though.”
[i “You might have to help guide me. Make sure I get to the right spot tonight.”] Somehow it still felt too dangerous to talk openly about the meeting, even though he was pretty sure no one could hear them.
Rosalind easily feels the draw to simply remain in his arms and keep him here in her room with her. She could hide him away in the mountains of blankets she has and just skip classes for the night, but she knows that would be too risky. She also knows that he has to go to dinner with his friends that ditching them would be too out of character for Josh and would draw attention. She sighs and pushes herself up to a sitting position. [#f08080 “I don’t want you to go either, but it’ll be nice for you to spend some time with your friends. Even if Alex is there I’m sure the rest of your friends will act as a nice buffer,”] she doesn’t want him to go, especially since Alex is going to be there. She feels a knot of worry twisting in her stomach at the thought of the two of them together and her attempting to do something to him.
She does her best to swallow her worry, finding that the green cat like creature is wrapping his vines around her arm and slinking its way up and onto her shoulder. [#f08080 “You know if you want to talk to me or if anything weird happens while you are there you can always talk to me about it. Actually I think I’d prefer if you did keep me updated while you are around Alex. I don’t want her to try any funny business with you.”] And at that Rosalind makes a pouty face, trying to mask her genuine concern with the silly face. She knows that he can sense her worry just as she can sense his, but they are both making an effort to cover it with keeping things light. That’s a very positive thing, in times of stress and concern the ability to remain cheerful is a good trait to have, and Rosalind is very grateful that he has it as well.
Joshua let her pull him down, his eyes closed. It was nice to hold her and just relax, and he thought about how easy it would be to just fall asleep like this. Easy and definitely against the rules. Besides that, she had classes tonight.
[i “That amount should be easy enough to manage then.”
He could feel her drawing something on his chest, but he couldn’t tell what it was. It was a little distracting, but he managed to keep track of her thoughts,[i “I see. So at some point they’ll be talking. I wonder what they’ll have to say?”]
It took until she spoke for him to realize what that odd feeling was. He could feel her suddenly seem to get more tired, but couldn’t put his finger on why. For a moment he was worried, then when she asked about the time he remembered that it must be around dusk,[i “Oh. Uh, around now.”]
Joshua sighed, looking at the ceiling. He couldn’t say he was eager to go, Alex had practically forced the thing, and he had a feeling he knew why. At the time it was to try and get closer to him since he’d been avoiding her. Would she stop now after the confrontation with Rosalind? Somehow Joshua doubted it, more likely Alex would just get more subtle about it.
Whatever she wanted out of him, it didn’t seem like she was letting go easily. What if he just asked her what she really wanted? Would she tell the truth, or just act coy and play more games? Joshua put his hand on his forehead,”I should go. Don’t really want to though.”
He kissed the top of her head, trying to play off and suppress his worries about Alex and the little knot of stress about the possibility his friends might notice a change in him,”You are making it impossible to want to leave.”
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