Chapter 18: Rivals

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            Fiona leaned against the stone of the hall, waving at the few people she knew who passed her by. The last bell had rung only a few minutes before and people were still hurrying out, glad to be free from another day of classes. Fiona was certainly no different. While she didn’t hate school, she still didn’t want to be stuck at it any longer than she had to be.

            The halls had mostly emptied of traffic when Meredith finally came out of the classroom. Fiona fell into step with her, waiting until they’d turned a corner before she looked at her roommate. “So, what’d Mme. Fontaine want? She didn’t get you in trouble, did she?”

            Meredith shook her head. “She said I’d done really well on the pop quiz and that she was happy I was able to catch back up so quickly after being sick.”

            Fiona snorted. “Well everyone knew you’d have no problem with that,” Fiona replied. “Everyone knows you’re one of the best students in the grade and you’re one of the few people who actually study. She really shouldn’t have been surprised.”

            The selkie ducked her head but smiled. “Thanks.”

            “Don’t thank me, I’m just telling the truth.”

            Neither of them said anything until they got outside. The weather was perfect, warm but not hot, the sky bright blue with only a few fluffy clouds and the lightest caress of a breeze. It was a pity that they had to go back inside. A sudden idea made Fiona grin and turn to Meredith. “Do you want to do our homework outside? We could do it in the courtyard by one of the benches and use that as a table if we need it.”

            Meredith nodded. “That would be wonderful! It’s such a nice day out too.”

            With that in mind, they both hurried their steps, crossing the courtyard in minutes. They stopped when they got to the cluster of benches that lay halfway between the centre of the yard and Spirit dorm. They both dropped down onto the grass, letting their backpacks slide off beside them.

            Fiona revelled in the thick grass, still bright green even as a few of the trees that lay scattered around the courtyard were showing some colour. She supposed it was already the fourth week of September. Soon the whole island would be a riot of colour as fall set in. She hoped it would be as amazing as she imagined it. She’d only really experienced the colour change in the few parks in the city near where she’d lived, never out in the middle of the wilderness like here.                                                                                                                           

            “What do you want to start with?” Meredith asked, interrupting her thoughts as she unzipped her bag.

            “Whatever you want. I’m game for anything,” Fiona replied, belatedly turning her attention to her own backpack.

            “Do you want to do math and get it out of the way?”

            “Sounds like a plan.”

            They had finished the assigned questions from the algebra textbook and had already moved onto reading the next scene of Hamlet when a shadow fell over them. They both lowered their books to look up.

            Fiona frowned, looking the strange boy up and down. His long black hair was pulled back into his ponytail, his well-muscled chest and arms on full display since he wasn’t wearing a shirt, but what drew her gaze were the intricate black tattoos that spread across his stomach, wrapping around his back and disappearing into his shorts. He smiled down at them. “Hey,” he said.

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