The Black Butler
Forewarned is forearmed, but I am still a bit surprised when Hermann shows up at the last lesson on Thursday, Social Science. I am not the only one surprised, half of 1A mutters…
“….is Lena Gränby?”
“… isn’t that Fallowfell’s uncle?” “Nope, I think he is their accountant….” I smirk at that one.
“… does this mean that we’re free to go home?”
Hermann stops the discussion by answering the last question.
“No, you may not go home. I am Hermann Schwart, and I am filling in for Lena Gränby, who it seems, have contracted a serious flu.” Eight different people groan at the missed opportunity of having a free period and ending the day earlier. My thoughts are on a different track; I am willing to bet that Perenelle has cooked something up, and that Gränby will be sick for as long as neccessary.
Our substitute teacher turns around write something on the whiteboard. “Now”, Hermann starts to say, before pausing. “Elena Havenius, put that phone down.” Fourteen sets of eyes hone in on an embarassed Elena, who puts down the phone.
How did he know? All parents would like their children to think that they have eyes in the back of their heads. But really….
Ten minutes pass, and we all diligently write down what Hermann is writing down on the board. Can I have three yay’s for rote-learning? Oh, and I am being sarcastic if you’re wondering. I sure know that I wonder sometimes.
“Pontus Malmberg”, Hermann says, in a sharp tone. “If you would be as kind as to divert your attention to your textbook, rather than making faces at Duchamps.” I can see Pontus wince. Ouch.
Another twenty minutes pass. “Marika Söder- I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” I look at Marika, who has just frozen. What was she about to do?
Hermann continues in the same vein for the duration of the class, simultaneously teaching while noticing everything. He points out that I am looking out the window and daydreaming; that Kai is moving written messages on paper to Chiyo; that Linnea Hexer is humming.
When he finally declares the lesson over, we all run out of the classroom, very much like a herd of gazelle.Alot of the people are giving me the evil eye. I mutter something along the lines of ‘he isn’t always like that.’
I walk up to the lockers, open it and throw in my Social Studies books. When I close my locker, Chiyo, Kai and some of the others are waiting. “We’re going to Charlie’s for pizza-buffet. Do you want to join?”
My first impulse is to say no. I really want to go home and watch anime and maybe do some of that mountain of homework./ You should hang out with your friends more. S-o-c-i-a-l-i-z-e./ I sigh internally. I don’t need advice from a three-thousand year old dragon. /Wyrm! And you do need advice./
I turn to Kai, who it appears, is staring at me. Hmm, I wonder what happens to my expression when I talk to Verde.
“Sure. Alright. Cooool.”
“…the first time I shifted- and now you need to know that we were living in Southern Sweden at the time, Skåne actually- I ran all the way to Denmark. They had to pick me up at the border!” The rest of the table laughs at Amanda’s story. We’re all supernaturals here; me, Chiyo, Kai, Amanda, Stella and Shirin. I am bit surprised at Shirin joining us; she’s not exactly outgoing, as most of the people at the table are.
Amanda turns to me. “So Fallowfell. You’ve got any stories to tell?” I try to come up with a story. “The first time I shifted my claws”, I say with great dignity,” I actually made them too big. They sliced up my fingers.” “Eww”, Stella boos.
“Oh, and if we’re talking about embarrassing stories, then I have one”, Kai interjects. Stella and Shirin groans; Chiyo and I smile.
“So you know that I can transmute things. Water to wine, light to motion, that sort of thing. But you see– I can also do that to materials. So I did this bust in play-dough, a bust of myself…” he trails off as I and Amanda start to chuckle before being silenced by Chiyo. “… and I transmuted it into gold.” The whole table erupt in laughter. Even Verde laughs a little, but only I can hear that.
I can see it clearly; a bust of gold, made in the image of Kai, ranting about the Attack of the Titans for some reason.
Stella elbows Chiyo. “You’re next”, she says with glee. Chiyo sighs, but eventually starts to speak. ” My kind, the Ushi-Oni, have a prepubescent phase where we grow horns.” She stares flatly at each of the people at the table, daring any of us to comment on it. Nobody does. “These horns will itch something incredibly terrible, prompting young oni to rub their heads at everything and anything they can find which will hold.” I smile at the image of Chiyo rubbing her head against a stone. “I”, she say, “rubbed my head against a lamppost. In fact, I rubbed my head against a lamppost until it fell down on my head, and I suffered a concussion.” Once more the table erupts in laughter.
“I don’t know if its embarassing enough, but I have one”, Shirin says slowly. “The Umay, of which I am one, cannot swim. Our biology… is incompatible with bodies of water. So for us to swim, we have to learn how to take a human shape first. But I wouldn’t list to my elders.” She smiles at us, a shy smile. “So what did I do”, she asks with a rhetorical flourish.
“You went into the water”, we scream, as one. “I went into the water. I nearly drowned; just because I wanted to take swim”, she says deprecatingly. I wonder what of one of the Umay look like in their natural shape. Verde? /I do not know. Greyscale never met one. They live mostly in the Middle-East, and Greyscale have never liked overly hot weather./
Stella leans back in her chair. ” I am a J’ba Fofi — or to use a more western term; werespider.” I look at Stella’s long legs. And that scent… rustle of leaves and strands of hair… I shudder. ” I was adopted at an early age to a couple of humans who knew of my nature, but who loved me still. Anyhow– so I found out that werespiders can make silk several degrees stronger than Kevlar.” We all nod. ” I start to experiment, start to try to create this silk. When I think I have it, I tie it from one tree to another, over a river.” Grins appear on the faces of the people sitting around the table. “I think you can imagine what happens next….”