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            Staring at herself in the mirror, Kallai carefully ran fingers through her now shoulder-length hair, trying not to make it puff out any more than it was already. She then smoothed out the grey of her robes and checked the bow on her new violet sash, ensuring it was straight and tied properly, she smiled. But what had her grinning was the special embroidery around the sleeves and hem of her robes. In a bright red, sharp edged flames had been added, identifying her even at a casual glance as a fire elemental mage.

            Without knocking or sending one of his winds to ask for permission to enter as she was forever asking him to do, Shuu just appeared in the middle of Kallai’s room as he always did. “Slow you are, Sparrow,” he told her grinning.

            She stuck her tongue out at him. “I’ve got more hair to make sure is neat, and I wanted to make sure my sash was tied properly, something you don’t have to deal with. Besides, you use your winds to help, which is cheating.”

            Shuu chuckled, leaning against the grey stone wall of her room, his arms crossed over his chest, his posture relaxed. Kallai studied him, taking in the robes of the same colour, the undershirt of the same violet as hers, with only the stark white swirls of an air mage and her sash differentiating the two of them. He caught her gaze and raised his eyebrows.

            Kallai flushed slightly but didn’t look away from the intensity of his blue eyes. In the end, he blinked and chuckled again, letting her win the staring contest. “Sevilen coming is?”

            “He said he would,” Kallai replied, turning back to the mirror and doing another check over of her appearance, convinced that every minute she didn’t look something else would have gotten mussed. While she still knew everyone who would be in their classes by name, she couldn’t help the feeling that this would be her first impression, the only chance she had to finally, completely and thoroughly, kill the name Spellless. Memories rose and made her shiver for a moment.

            Shuu walked over, dropping an elbow onto her shoulder so he could lean on her, smiling at her reflection. “Too much you do worry, Sparrow,” he said, sensitive to her moods as much as she was to his. “These children you will impress. Above apprentice mage you are. If fire mage I were, nearly fully trained you would be. But still, with more time and practice, full elemental mage you will be.”

            She smiled, feeling warmth at both his reassurance and the fact he cared enough about her to offer it in the first place. “Thanks. It’s just a bit hard, you know? These are the same people who…well, with Azaz, Eran, and Makol expelled, the worst of that lot should have been dealt with, and I can defend myself after all, it’s just…I don’t want to have to. Especially since that’ll just end up scaring people. I’d like to just be accepted, without fear, without disdain. I just want to be treated like everyone else.”

            He shrugged. “If yourself you must defend, then you must defend. If not, then not. If accepted, it good is. If not, nothing will change. What good worrying does do? Now, up do hurry!”

            Kallai had to laugh at that, an easy sound that bubbled up out of her far more often these days, in no small part to Shuu. Mischief and fun were his forte, amplified by his easy smile and quick wit. He grinned and grabbed her hand. His winds descended on them before she could protest what they’d do to her hair, tightening as they whirled faster and faster, until they finally were left with a kind of popping feeling as they appeared wherever it was that Shuu had chosen for them to land.

            “We could have walked,” she complained, seeing the grey stone of the school’s floor as she pressed down her robes, worried about wrinkles.

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