Chapter Eight

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Anne told me a story once. It was about a princess who was trapped in a tower and hunted by a fearsome dragon. A wizard plotted to kill her, a knight came to save her. The story did not end happily for the princess. In the end, the dragon captured her and ate her in front of the useless knight and the conniving wizard.

I'm not sure why I'm reminded of this story. It's not something I've thought about in more years than I have fingers. Nevertheless, it's the first thing on my mind when I regain consciousness.

As the remnants of that tale fade, the real world approaches with a vigor.

I'm propped up, my muscles too lax to keep my body upright. The chair I'm lounging on must be low to the ground because my legs press against the floor. And the chair seems to be...moving? It sways me forward and back as though affected by the breeze. Except, the wind is warm and too rhythmic to be natural.

Frowning, I open my eyes. Squinting at the brightness, I discover that I'm in the cafeteria; in the same spot where I passed out. The scene around me is different, though. Anne is grappling with Killian as the latter attempts to reach his mate. Eli is once again fighting with Gwen, but now the two are exchanging punches like friendly people exchange hellos. Cassie's here, too, and she's standing over Alexander's prone figure. My attacker is either knocked out or dead, and Cassie's face betrays some level of guilt over his physical state. Serves him right, asshole.

There's also a certain someone looming on the outskirts of the action, but he'll remain unnamed. Like Voldemort.

"This is why I call you Trouble, Trouble," a voice mumbles from behind me.

Well, more like behind and under me. Aristotle is the living, breathing, moving chair that I'm perched on. Maybe it's because he's the embodiment of sloth, but I've never been more comfortable in my life. He's like the perfect napping spot.

"We've switched roles," I groggily state, thinking about the way I woke him up this morning.

"So we have," he responds.

"How long have I been out?" I ask him.

"A couple of minutes."

My eyebrows raise in disbelief. "All of this happened in just a couple of minutes?" I wave my hand to encapsulate the chaos occurring around us.

"Like I said. Trouble."

I huff out what might be a laugh. "Is Alexander dead?"

"I'm afraid not," Aristotle replies, and he sounds genuinely disappointed by that fact. That makes two of us.

I watch as Cassie continues to hover around Alexander. She comes close to touching him before pulling back, only to repeat the action again and again.

"Did Cassie do it?"

I feel his nod. "Yeah. Whacked him in the head with her tray and it was lights out. I think she was worried that he'd actually kill you, and everyone else was too busy fighting someone to get him away from you."

His explanation makes sense. Eli and Killian would've tried to stop Alexander, but Gwen and Anne made that goal unreachable. Cassie saved my ass, for sure. Roomies for the win.

"And where were you during all of this?"

He pats my thigh. "You know me, Trouble. I'm not a fighter. I did catch you when you fell, though."

I recall the weightless feeling I experienced in my final moments of consciousness.

"Ah. So you're the gravity breaker."

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