Chapter Eighteen

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December is a festive month for all of Purgatory. Angels and demons alike engage in the cheerful celebration, especially since it marks the end of the semester and the beginning of a two-week break.

It's strange to not be in Hell at this time of year. The castle must be fully decorated by now, portraits of Lucifer hung up in every available space.

What will his birthday party look like with none of his children there to celebrate it? It was sad enough when only Killian, Eli, and I were around to dress as imitations of the Devil last year. Eli and Killian weren't speaking then, so I spent the night flitting between the two. Dressed as HIM from the Powerpuff Girls, no less. The crab-like claws snapped as I hurried from one friend to the other, a whimsical soundtrack to an otherwise melancholic night.

The Morningstar brood carry on the tradition in Purgatory. All of the demons will be in the desert to enjoy a party held in Lucifer's honor. Meanwhile, the angels will celebrate the birth of God's beloved son by the lake. Who knows, maybe they end the night by partaking in group baptisms, cleansing themselves of their many sins.

December also means finals. Not as serious as trials, finals are decided on by individual professors. Most of mine are giving cumulative written tests on material learned over the course of the semester. Of course, the only exceptions to this are Ragnar and Galileo. For Satan's sake, even Priscilla is doing a regular exam. I probably won't pass it, but still.

Ragnar's making all students complete some sort of obstacle course. He's not giving any details, so I have no idea what to prepare for. I seriously doubt it's going to be like an inflatable carnival activity for children. His version will probably involve jumping through fire and swimming with piranhas.

Galileo's final is three parts. A group presentation on our chosen topics, a cumulative test on class material, and an essay on a mystery topic. Aristotle and I finished our group presentation preparation last month, so we've been hard at work studying everything we've learned in class. I know Galileo will fail me regardless, so I'm basically putting all of my eggs into Aristotle's basket.

Aristotle's dorm room is my second home now. In the time between dinner and sleep, I'm holed up in his personal space. His roommate is a guy whose virtue is humility, which apparently means he can't use or appreciate any of his accommodations. Aristotle basically has the room to himself, and I take advantage of the unused desk to spread out books, highlighted notes, and multi-colored flashcards. I miss the library but this is nice, too.

It's a random Sunday night in December, and I'm slightly freaking out. Finals are next week, spread across the days so students don't burn out too quickly. Once Friday hits, we'll be done with schoolwork and ready to party. We just have to get there first. It's crunch time.

Aristotle slowly raises his hand, effectively ruining my train of thought.

"Yes, Ari?" I ask.

"When will there be naps?"

"Naps?" I sputter. "We just barely started studying, and you're already thinking about naps?"

"Yes," Aristotle replies seriously.

A muscle in my face twitches as I restrain myself from thumping him on the head. Noticing my rising anger, Aristotle adds, "I think better when I'm well-rested."

"You must have been pretty tired these last few years, then, considering you're repeating your first year for the third time."

He shrugs. "Fourth time's the charm."

"That's not how the saying—" I cut myself off.

I close my eyes when the twitching becomes too erratic.

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