[Story] Fairsong Academy – Dinner at Home

Maerista didn’t really want to visit home for dinner. She was sure there was some reason behind it, and they hadn’t just asked her there for a friendly family dinner before the students all left for Shattrath. No, they must have something to discuss — that, or they’d somehow discovered that she’d been seeing Gael already. Would Des be capable of such a thing? Maybe not intentionally, but it was certainly possible. It wasn’t exactly a secret, especially after the wedding. Magister Fairsong had allowed her to take one of the dragonhawks from the stables, and she’d picked the one that looked oldest and slowest. It still flew far too quickly for her taste, however.

She went to wait in the sitting room while the cooks finished the last details on the meal. Everything was tidy and in order as always, Mother was meticulous about keeping the house clean. It wasn’t that the school was dirty, Tik and Terellion cleaned it every day, but there were times when it showed its age in the cracks in the walls or the little creaks in the floor. As she studied one of the bronze status in the sitting room that no one was allowed to touch, Maerista wondered which she really liked better — the old school with its ghosts and charm, or the pristine and boring mansion.

“Come in, dear,” said her mother, peeking her head around the corner.

Maerista smoothed out her robe and went into the dining room. The table was much too large for just the three of them — even with the middle sections taken out. Normally it was much longer, used for dinner parties and entertaining guests. Her father sat at one end, and her mother at the other, and Maerista picked a chair somewhere in between. She watched the cooks go into the kitchen and bring out plates to set on the table. They were having small wildfowl, a whole little bird for each person, along with roasted summer vegetables — various kind of squash and tomatoes and peppers. It smelled good, but Maerista was so nervous she didn’t think she’d be able to eat very much.

“How are your classes coming, dear?” asked her mother, breaking the silence.

They ought to know how her classes went, Maerista thought, they’d seen the card that had been sent home with her marks. “I’ve been working on my frost magic lately,” she replied, pushing a little tomato around in the sauce. “I have to bring my marks up so I can take my final exam.”

Her father scoffed, setting down his wine glass. “It’s absurd that they make you study frost magic in the first place. It’s a curiosity for hobbyists and dwarves, not sin’dorei.”

Privately, Maerista agreed with her father’s sentiment; she didn’t like ice magic at all. But whether she liked it or not, there would be a section on the exam and she would have to perform it well enough to pass if she ever wanted to be a magister.

Her mother smiled broadly. “Well, you’ll be pleased to know that your father has spoken to the headmaster of your old school. He’ll be happy to have you back in the fall.”

Maerista nearly dropped her fork. “W-what?” she asked, looking from one to the other.

“Your old school. You’ve told me a hundred times that you wanted to go back,” her father said, arching an eyebrow. “Don’t you remember?”

Of course she remembered, but things had changed. She just wasn’t sure how to explain that. Her mind raced, searching for an excuse. “Oh! But it would be better to keep the same teachers, so close to my exam. I think.” Her parents exchanged a look, and her father frowned.

“Maerista, I don’t understand. I thought you hated Fairsong Academy.”

“I–”

“To say nothing of the things that must be out in those woods,” her mother added with a little shudder. “It’s really not safe, dear.”

“There are wards,” Maerista said weakly. “And the rangers patrol there every day.” She prayed that her ears weren’t turning red at the mention of the rangers.

Her father didn’t look pleased at all, she could tell by the way his ears were pointing slightly backward. “Very well,” he sighed. “But I’m going to remind you of this when you write home and complain again.”

Maerista nodded, trying to eat a piece of meat. It was good, but her stomach still felt like it was about to flip over itself. Her mother was looking at her father expectantly.

“And,” he went on, and Maerista stopped chewing to listen. “I’ve been speaking with the Sunwhispers. Their son is very eager to meet you.”

“Meet me, like–”

“He’s very handsome, dear,” said her mother. “We could invite him here for dinner, wouldn’t that be nice?”

No, Maerista thought, it wouldn’t be nice at all. The Sunwhispers were enchanters, not even talented enough to be proper mages. She didn’t remember their son, though he must have attended some party or other at their house before. And she most certainly did not want to marry him. “I — shouldn’t I focus on my school right now?”

Her father frowned again, the lines creasing his face even further this time. “Maerista, what’s got into you? Don’t you want to find a husband?”

“I do, but– maybe I could meet someone myself. I’m not that old.”

“Maerista, the Sunwhispers are a good family. You’ll be well taken care of.” Even without looking at him, she could hear the frown in his voice.

“At least consider it,” her mother said.

Any appetite she might have had was certainly gone now. She had to think of something, and quickly. Nice or not, she didn’t want to marry some rich boy from the city, not now. “May I please be excused? I don’t feel well.”

Without waiting for an answer, she hurried upstairs to her room.

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