Chapter 8: Check-In

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            “I swear we’re going to be spending the whole semester on Notre-Dame,” Fiona said, as she dodged around a group of boys who stood in the middle of the path, laughing about something.

            “Maybe we’re only going to read part of it,” Meredith replied.

            Fiona looked at her. “I know I haven’t been here long, but even I know that there’s no way one of our teachers is going to let us get away with only reading part of a book. I’m just hoping she doesn’t pull a Ms. Griffith and start pushing us through at warp speed.”

            Her roommate sighed as they made their way through the bottom of Spirit dorm. “Me too.”

            They walked in silence for a few minutes, both just enjoying the clear skies, smell of the sea, and each other’s company. It felt like every day Fiona spent at St. Lawrence Academy made it feel more and more like somewhere she really belonged, like a second home, somewhere she could be herself. Or at least, herself pretending to be a dryad. Which so far hadn’t meant anything except telling people she was a dryad when she was asked. It seemed weirdly easy to be accepted by the Phasms. Then again, she did have the support of the principal and Meredith.

            Fiona and Meredith had barely walked into their dorm when Asahi came hurrying over. Their dorm head wasn’t her normal self, stray strands of hair escaping her usual ponytail, her cheeks coloured. “Mr. Rana is waiting for you. Please join him now. I’m going to make some tea.”

            When they only stared at her, she flapped her hands at them. “Haiyaku!”

            The two of them exchanged a glance then looked over at the lounge. The vice-principal wasn’t hard to find, sitting completely upright in one of the chairs facing the door. They hurried over, both dropping their backpacks beside the couch as they sat. “Sorry,” Fiona said. “We just got out of class.”

            Mr. Rana nodded stiffly. “I had thought as much.” For several seconds no one said anything. Finally he spoke again. “I would like to discuss with you how you are settling in, Ms. Wilde. Will you walk with me?”

            Fiona looked at Meredith who looked uncomfortable. She shrugged but stood, her roommate following suit. “Sure.”

            The vice-principal nodded again and led the way towards the dorm’s front door. They passed by Asahi who was just coming out of her room with a tray of tea, her mouth opening slightly as she saw them leaving. Fiona felt bad and was about to say something, but her dorm head disappeared.

            Mr. Rana took the narrow path that led along the cliff that overlooked the gulf, the one that led towards Water dorm. The girls followed him, silence reigning for a few minutes. “Are you adjusting properly to the academy, Ms. Wilde?”

            Fiona nodded, not that he could see it from where he walked in front. “Yeah. I’m still settling into the classes a bit, but everyone’s been really nice to me.”

            “No…troubles of any sort?”

            “No. I was sort of asked in class what I was one day. I said dryad, and I’m guessing because no one else asked, everyone’s already heard. Stuff seems to get around pretty quick here.”

            “And you, Ms. Irivng? How are you dealing with this situation?”

            Fiona moved so that Meredith could step ahead of her, her roommate already ducking her head so that her hair fell forward. “I’m fine,” she said, voice soft. Mr. Rana was forced to stop and turn to look at her to hear her. “Everyone so far likes Fiona. We’ve made friends with some of the others.”

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