Chapter 10:

Chapter 10: Friends in the Night (Elly)

The Heir of the Dragon

Elly woke up staring at an unfamiliar ceiling. She was lying in a bed that was so comfortable she nearly fell back to sleep, but was stopped by her confusion. Where was she? The last thing she remembered was running. Then she had… what had happened?Bookmark here

“Oh, you’re awake?”Bookmark here

Startled by the warm voice, Elly sprang upright. She turned and saw a bright, small smile, attached to a woman with white-grey hair and flawless pale skin sitting beside her. The woman had long ears like Elly’s own sticking out from the sides of her head. Elly gasped. An elf? She hadn’t seen any other elves before, aside from her mother.Bookmark here

“Who… where…”Bookmark here

“You’re Elaindra?” The elf’s voice was kindly and warm, like her mother’s voice, though wizened with age. That’s when Elly got a close look at her eyes. They were green as the tree’s leaves, and filled with a softness that immediately set Elly’s heart at ease. Those kind eyes of hers narrowed into a smile and she extended a hand out to gently touch Elly’s arm.Bookmark here

“I… my name is Elly,” Elly said.Bookmark here

“I’m Leilandry,” the kind elf informed her. “You can call me Nurse Leilandry.”Bookmark here

“Nurse?” Elly gasped, looking around. She realized she was in an infirmary. It was rather familiar, and not in a good way. Back home when Derek Lyder used to beat on her, she would spend a lot of her time getting taken care of. She hated infirmaries and the disgusted looks doctors and nurses would give her. Nurse Leilandry was the first one who was kind. Looking around the empty room, Elly spotted her cloak on the chair, and gasped, her hands shooting up to her ears. She knew she’d felt a breeze! She ran her fingers across her ears, and her heart sunk in her chest. No… people… people had seen. She had tried to keep them covered, but…Bookmark here

“I removed your hood,” the nurse told her, placing a hand on her shoulder. “You were overheated, it was for your own health. My apologies.”Bookmark here

“Did… did anyone see my-“Bookmark here

“Your ears?”Bookmark here

Elly gulped, nodding, not sure what answer she wanted to hear. The nurse nodded her head, and Elly felt the urge to cry well up inside of her.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry,” the nurse said again. “You collapsed during your Physical Training class, you had heatstroke. Two boys from your cohort brought you here. I treated you with my magic, and let you sleep for a few hours.”Bookmark here

“I was… who brought me here?”Bookmark here

“I didn’t catch their names.”Bookmark here

“Um, can I…” Elly glanced down, not sure if she could ask the nurse whether or not she could stay in the infirmary for the rest of her classes.Bookmark here

“Hm?”Bookmark here

“Can… can I stay here?” Elly asked. There wasn’t any harm in asking, right?Bookmark here

The nurse smiled, reached up, and patted her on the head.Bookmark here

“It must be hard going back to class right now, right?”Bookmark here

Elly sniffled and nodded. A loud whistle startled her and her ears twitched.Bookmark here

“I’ve been steeping some tea while you slept, would you like some?” Nurse Leilandry rose from her chair and sashayed over to a small fire orica stove, taking the kettle from it. “Do you like moonglove tea?”Bookmark here

Elly felt her throat go dry. She hadn’t had moonglove tea since her mother made it for her years ago. “Yes, please.”Bookmark here

“I brought it all the way from Shadowveil,” the nurse called over her shoulder. “Have you ever been to the homeland before?”Bookmark here

“No, I… I haven’t left Stormstar before now.”Bookmark here

“You must go someday,” the nurse murmured, walking back to Elly and handing her a mug. Elly inhaled the aroma and smiled. It smelled of a happier time. She raised the mug to her lips and sipped, it was as delicious as she remembered.Bookmark here

“Thank you,” Elly said, setting the mug down. It was already empty? How could that be?Bookmark here

“While we have a chat with our tea, may I ask, why do you hide your ears, Elly?” Nurse Leilandry asked, sitting down on the bed. Elly shifted so that she could face her. When she saw the older elf’s eyes, she found herself drawn into them. She couldn’t help but trust those eyes, and before she knew it she was telling this kind woman everything.Bookmark here

“People would tease me because I’m part elf,” Elly said, running a finger across the point of her ear absentmindedly. She could still remember the cruel words they’d called her and felt their fingers pinching and pulling. It hurt just remembering it. “It… it’s better if I just keep it hidden.”Bookmark here

“I see… so you’re pretending to be human?”Bookmark here

Elly nodded. “My mom says I shouldn’t, but… it’s hard when everyone looks at me like I’m a freak.”Bookmark here

“Well, you aren’t a freak,” Nurse Leilandry assured her.Bookmark here

“I know, but… sometimes I just wish I didn’t have these ears,” Elly said. “It’s not only my ears, either. Elves are supposed to have a lot of mana, right? But my mana level… it’s so low. Even lower than a human. It’s… it’s because I’m half, right? I don’t have the mana level of a human or an elf, I’m just… I’m just a failure.”Bookmark here

“It’s not how much mana you have; it’s how you use it.”Bookmark here

Her mother used to tell her the same thing. She’d heard those words so much they were noise at this point.Bookmark here

“I just… I just wish I had been born human. Or even a full elf. At least then I would have a high level of mana. People would still tease me, but at least I would be, like…”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry I don’t know what it’s like to live as a half-elf, or to not have a lot of mana,” Nurse Leilandry said, taking a sip from her mug. “But I do know a little thing about being ostracized from those around me. Do you see any other members of the faculty with lovely ears like these?” She tilted her head to the side and wiggled her ears up and down. “Leaving Shadowveil, working in human society, I’m very often the only elf around. In fact, you’re only the third elf I’ve met outside of the homeland! Now, certainly, I could do what you did, hide them behind a hood, pretend to be human, but I don’t.”Bookmark here

“But… but don’t people tease you?”Bookmark here

“Oh, my, yes, they did, and do, quite a lot,” Nurse Leilandry nodded. Her eyes were distant and glassy. “And It was worse than just teasing. And yes, for a long time, I did hide my ears, just like you did. But then I realized something.”Bookmark here

“What?” Elly asked, her eyes lighting up, “what did you realize?” She tried not to sound too nosy, but she wondered if there was something that the nurse had learned about adapting to human society that she could tell her. Something that might make things easier.Bookmark here

“I realized that I could pretend to be someone that I wasn’t, but no matter how hard I tried to pretend not to be an elf, it wouldn’t change who I was here,” Nurse Leilandry explained, holding her hand over her chest. “I was denying who I was, and living in fear of being discovered for being an elf. So I realized there was nothing that they could do to me that I wasn’t already doing to myself every day in my head, when I was afraid that I would be found out.”Bookmark here

Elly’s heart sunk, feeling her ears droop. That wouldn’t help her not get teased or bullied by the other students in her cohort. She wasn’t sure what she expected, but she was hoping for something a little more helpful than advice to just be herself. Elly would love to be herself, if only she wasn’t so pathetic.Bookmark here

“That’s… I just don’t know,” Elly admitted. Now that she thought about it, what did this nurse even really know? She had just met Elly today, a few minutes ago, and now here she was giving her a bunch of life advice?! Just because she was a fellow elf? Elly wasn’t even a full elf, anyway! This nurse didn’t know anything about what Elly struggled with! “I’m not… I’m not sure if I can just… be myself. I don’t even know who ‘myself’ is. I mean, I know who ‘myself’ is, but, like, as an elf I’m not sure, so…”Bookmark here

Babbling, Elly, you’re babbling!Bookmark here

She was getting flustered because she didn’t know what to say to the woman. Her thoughts were in such a tizzy and she wasn’t even sure what she wanted to hear back. She finally decided on “may I have some more tea?” because she couldn’t think of anything else to say.Bookmark here

“Certainly,” Nurse Leilandry said, giving her a big, beaming smile. Elly shyly smiled back. The kindness in those eyes was still so reassuring.Bookmark here

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Elly stayed in the nurse’s office until the sun began to set. Classes were long over, and everyone was probably in the middle of dinner. Her stomach was rumbling, but there was no way she could poke her head in now. If anyone had seen her ears, then people were the last things she wanted to see right now. She thought of Wendy and Melody. They were the closest things she had to friends. When they had agreed to be her roommates, she had been so happy. Bookmark here

Now, she doubted they would want anything to do with her. What human would want an elf to be a roommate? She knew the things that were said about elves. How they were stuck-up and tricky, how they seduced human men only to enchant them with horrible curses, how they were so anti-human that they lived secluded away on a distant sky island, and of course, the worst of all, that because of their ears they were really part demon, and out to destroy humans. Humans hated elves, she’d never met one who hadn’t looked at her like she was a freak. Other races, malkin, venti, they were tolerated by humans, but elves…Bookmark here

Why did I have to be half-elf? Why can’t a half-elf be friends with a human?Bookmark here

It was painful moments like these that made Elly resent her wonderful mother. How pathetic was that? Blaming her mother for having her, maybe she deserved to be bullied for thinking that way.Bookmark here

If Elly left now, she could hopefully get back to her room while those two were still eating, and then she would pretend to be asleep when they got back. Then when the morning came, well… that would be a problem for morning Elly to solve.Bookmark here

“Thank you for letting me stay here,” Elly said, getting up off the bed and picking up her hood.Bookmark here

“Come back any time. I enjoyed our chat.” The nurse stood up as well and gave her a smile, held a hand over her heart, and lowered her head. “Ancestors watch over you.”Bookmark here

Elly flinched. It was a traditional elvish farewell her mother had told her about. How did the response go again? She mimicked the gesture that the other elf gave her, sticking up her middle three fingers as she did, and bowed her head.Bookmark here

“A-and may the ancestors protect you.”Bookmark here

The two raised their heads. Elly put on her cloak to hide her ears again and rushed out of the room. It was only when she was well on her way that she remembered that not only was her regular uniform back in the changing room, but she had forgotten her bag back in the classroom. The bag that had the map of campus. She glanced around. She didn’t recognize the old hallway, and all the rooms were unlabeled. She turned around to look back the way she came, and froze. Had she turned right three times after she’d turned left? Or two times?Bookmark here

Elly gulped, a shiver running down her spine. It was still summer, so why was it so cold? And why were the shadows on the wall so long and twisted? And was that… was that shadow just moving a second ago?! Elly wanted to run, but she was petrified by fear. Where would she run to, anyway? She was lost. She took a deep breath. She wanted to close her eyes, but that wouldn’t send the darkness or the fear away. Instead, she squinted into the inky blackness of the twisting abyss ahead of her. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, shapes began to clear up and the monsters went away, revealing their true forms to her. She let out the breath she had been holding and pushed the fear out of her head, her pounding heart slowing. She had just gotten worked up due to the stress of getting worked up. There were no frightening monsters, just shadows that never hurt anyone.Bookmark here

“Oh? What have we here?” Elly let out a scream, whirling around and stumbling back, terrified. She focused her mana and created a barrier of light to shield her.Bookmark here

“My! That’s quite a barrier you’ve created!” Elly blinked, surprised, and opened her eyes a little. From out of the shadows, Reed Rivers stepped, holding a lantern with a light orica implanted into it, the smile on her face illuminated by the crystal’s glow. Bookmark here

“R-Reed Rivers?” Elly gasped.Bookmark here

Reed stepped closer, placing her hand on the barrier, causing it to light up with a rainbow of colors. Reed’s eyes widened, and her smile widened with it. “Wow! Is this a Magic Barrier? It’s quite finely made!”Bookmark here

“Um…” Elly didn’t know what to say, shocked as she was. Thank you? Was that the right thing? Or would the thought that she was being complimented be too presumptuous?Bookmark here

Reed waved her hand and a black circle shifted into existence in front of the barrier. She stepped through it, and another hole appeared inside, passing her through. She leaned over and grabbed Elly by the hands. Elly was stunned, Reed’s eyes shone with excitement in a way that was a little unnerving, but the way she looked upon Elly wasn’t unkind. The barrier shattered into shards that disappeared into sparkles of starlight.Bookmark here

Reed glanced over her shoulder and then looked back at Elly, obviously disappointed.Bookmark here

“…Sorry?” Elly said, wilting under Reed’s gaze. She looked up to the girl in front of her, Reed was such a talented mage, and to be confronted by her like this, it… Elly gulped again.Bookmark here

“Oh, don’t be sorry!” Reed said, helping Elly up to her feet. “Do it again! Again!”Bookmark here

Now Elly was just confused. She stared at Reed, not sure what was up with the girl. She had read up quite a bit on Reed Rivers, a talented mage, one of the star students of the Rem Magic Academy. She was a pioneer of her own magic, even more intelligent than some teachers. All the things Elly had learned about her secret idol, none of them had told her that she was so… odd.Bookmark here

“…Why?” Elly asked, seeking to find some clarity in the weirdness that was standing in front of her.Bookmark here

“I’ve never seen a Magic Barrier created by a half-elf before, that’s why,” Reed said, tilting her head to the side like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “It was enjoyable, if you don’t mind me saying.”Bookmark here

“H-half… half-elf?” Elly stuttered, stepping back from Reed. A chill went down her spine. She shook her head. “I-I’m not a-“Bookmark here

“Sure you are!” Reed chirped, stepping closer to Elly, the light in her eyes not dimming for a moment even with the knowledge of Elly’s heritage. She leaned in close and began sniffing at Elly’s collar. Confused, Elly backed away a little more, put the persistent girl followed after her, getting close enough to Elly she could smell the sweet scent of apples coming from her.Bookmark here

“…Yup! Just as I thought!” Reed said, raising her head and stepping back, looking into Elly’s eyes with a wide grin on her face. “The smell of your mana is like Nurse Leilandry’s! But also like a human’s as well! So you’re a half-elf, right?”Bookmark here

“N-no, I’m not!” Elly tried to protest, even though she knew at this point it was futile. There wasn’t anything she could say to change Reed’s mind. She sighed in defeat and hung her head, nodding glumly. Her idol knew her shameful secret. Elly wanted to wither up and die.Bookmark here

“Ah! Cool!” Reed said, her expression strangely getting brighter at the knowledge she was talking to a half-elf. “Can I see your ears? Can I? Can I?”Bookmark here

“N-no!” Elly gasped, pulling her hood down further. “Th-that’s private!”Bookmark here

“Oh…” Reed’s face sunk. “Okay, then, sorry. Then what about that barrier again, huh?”Bookmark here

Elly blinked. She had told Reed that she was right, that Elly was a half-elf, and yet… the other girl didn’t seem to care? Those colorful eyes of hers were as unflinchingly relaxed as they always had been, without a speck of disgust. She seemed more interested in seeing Elly make another barrier than she was in what was under Elly’s hood. It didn’t make sense. “I-I guess I can…” Elly held her hands up and focused her mana, visualizing a barrier appearing in the air in front of her. A wall of light capable of repelling attacks, both magical and physical. As she pictured the patterns of the spellcraft in her mind it shimmered into being.Bookmark here

“Wow, you did it again!” Reed gasped, turning and touching the barrier, running her hand across it curiously. She held her hand up, and to Elly’s surprise created an identical barrier on the other side of the girl, Elly glancing behind her in shock.Bookmark here

“You-! But that’s-!”Bookmark here

“We all learn about Magical Barriers in our first quarter here,” Reed explained. Elly’s ears drooped. Even the one thing she could do okay was common magic here. She just couldn’t win.Bookmark here

“It’s the only thing I really know,” she admitted, shame no doubt burning on her face.Bookmark here

“Still, yours is better than mine.” Elly’s ears twitched in surprised and she raised her eyes to look at Reed, not sure she’d heard right.Bookmark here

“Wh-What?”Bookmark here

“I put more mana into mine, and yet yours seems to be just as tough,” Reed mused, not even looking Elly’s way. She was too busy studying the barrier of light in front of her. The girl rapped her knuckles against its surface, creating more ripples of color. “Yup, real solid. I wonder if that’s secret elven spellcraft? Very fine work…”Bookmark here

Elly wasn’t sure how to respond. She had never been complimented for her magic before. It was a compliment, right? Reed’s kind words were tugging insistently on the corners of Elly’s mouth, but she didn’t want to embarrass herself by smiling like a dope in front of someone she admired.Bookmark here

“Well!” Reed straightened up and turned back to Elly. “Thanks for giving me a look! Are you sure I can’t sneak a little peek at those ears of yours?”Bookmark here

Elly dispelled the barrier and averted her eyes, shaking her head. “No, that’s… still no.”Bookmark here

“Oh, well,” Reed shrugged. She snapped her fingers and dispelled her own barrier. Where Elly’s had shattered to pieces like a dropped mirror, Reed’s faded away cleanly, like it had never been there to begin with. Even the way she released her magic was amazing…Bookmark here

“So what’s you name again?” Reed asked. “I don’t know if I caught it before.”Bookmark here

“Be… before?”Bookmark here

“Dinner, last night? You were sitting with Blake, right?”Bookmark here

“You… remember me?” Elly asked. The thought that Reed Rivers of all people remembered who she was, that was almost as much of a shock as being complimented for her magic.Bookmark here

“’Course!” Reed laughed like a wind chime. “After all, you had such good eyes, you knew all about my transportation magic! I was so surprised to have a fan!”Bookmark here

“…Well, I mean… I kind of look up to you, since you’re so talented,” Elly admitted, her cheeks flushing. “M-My, my name’s Elly, by the way.”Bookmark here

“Hey Elly,” Reed grinned, holding out her hand. “I’m Reed!”Bookmark here

“…Yeah, I know.”Bookmark here

“Oh, sorry, I forgot,” Reed laughed again, scratching her hair sheepishly. “Anyway, what brought you out to this wing of campus tonight?”Bookmark here

Elly was having trouble keeping up with Reed, she seemed to be jumping all over the place. “I’m, um, I’m lost,” Elly explained. “My, um… my classmates brought me to the nurse’s office, and I don’t know how to get back to my room.”Bookmark here

“Oh, yeah, I get it,” Reed laughed. “I don’t know why the nurse has her office all the way over here, kind of hard to find your way through.”Bookmark here

Elly nodded, smiling a little. But she felt a little uneasy with the conversation. She wanted to ask Reed what she was doing there, herself. As far as Elly knew, the dorms weren’t anywhere close, and even if they were, Reed’s magic would let her jump anywhere. But she was walking down the hall with a lantern? Pinpricks on Elly’s skin made her wary to ask, though. Maybe she was just going to the bathroom? Or maybe the Sky Crests did hall patrols. Elly decided that was it. She was too shy to actually ask.Bookmark here

“The dorms aren’t that close, but it’s no problem at all,” Reed said. “I can take you back.”Bookmark here

Elly’s face brightened. “Really?” Reed’s transportation magic could bring her there with the snap of her fingers! “Um, I live in the First Year Stars Cohort dormitory, so can you transport me there?”Bookmark here

“Oh, no, sorry,” Reed said, shaking her head. She gave Elly an apologetic smile. “I got in a little bit of trouble with my cohort leader earlier today for transporting another student against their will.” She looked down. “So I’m not allowed to use my transportation magic on others for a few days.”Bookmark here

“I remember,” Elly said. Seeing Blake drop into the classroom suddenly had been shocking. It was probably for the best, if she was being honest. It would have been convenient for Reed to transport her to her room, but at the same time, when Blake did it, he looked like he was going to throw up. Elly had already thrown up once today, she wasn’t interested in a repeat.Bookmark here

“It’s okay,” Reed assured her. She turned and headed down the hall, holding her lantern up, gesturing to Elly for her to follow her. “I’ll show you to your room the normal way, no need to worry.”Bookmark here

“Th-Thank you,” Elly said, trailing after Reed. She stood on the outside of the lantern light, right near the edge. She drew a little closer. At first she had just been star struck, but now she was fascinated by the older girl for a different reason. She wasn’t treating Elly like anyone else had ever treated her after learning her secret. She wasn’t acting like Elly was a freak, even though she knew she was an elf. She was talking with her like Elly was… a human. Not looking disgusted at her, calling her names, or ignoring her, nothing. Elly wasn’t sure what to make of that.Bookmark here

Elly was so lost in her thoughts, she didn’t realize that Reed had asked her something. “Sorry, I was thinking, what were…?”Bookmark here

“Oh, I was asking if you were friends with Blake.”Bookmark here

“Um… no, not really,” Elly said, shaking her head. He wasn’t really a friend, especially now that he knew what she was. Reed had been a surprise, but Elly didn’t believe for a moment that the other students in her cohort would think the same. But it would be nice, at least, if Wendy and Melody would...Bookmark here

“Darn, I was hoping you could put in a good word about me,” Reed winked. “He’s so distrusting, even though I just want to get to know him a little better… he knows all about dragons! I love dragons, and those dragon eggs, I want to get a closer look, but he’s not letting me near them.” She let out a long sigh.Bookmark here

“Blake is a little, um… sorry, I don’t know him very well, but… he really loves those eggs, and after, um, what happened to his family…”Bookmark here

Reed stroked her chin and sighed.Bookmark here

“I might have been a little too forceful,” she mused. “People are always telling me I need to be more thoughtful of others. But when I see something exciting, I just get all… excited, you know!?”Bookmark here

She inhaled, swooning a little.Bookmark here

“Dragons are so amazing… when will the eggs hatch, do you think? I hope they hatch soon. How many eggs are there, do you know? It must be difficult to look after a lot of baby dragons, maybe if I ask nicely he’ll let me take care of one! What do you think?”Bookmark here

Reed was hitting Elly with so many questions that she was starting to get confused.Bookmark here

“Do you like dragons? I love them myself, I’ve read everything the library has on the subject! House Harker’s History, Myths of Dragons, oh! And Reinha- oops, I mean, ‘The Compendium: Dragon Volume’, sorry. Can’t use the old name.”Bookmark here

It was quickly becoming clear that much like Amy, Reed was more interested in talking at Elly, rather than to her. Well, that was fine. Elly didn’t feel much like talking tonight, even less so than she usually did, and Reed in particular was overwhelming in a way that Elly wasn’t used to. So Elly just fixed a small smile to her face and nodded her head up and down as Reed continued to explain all the great things about dragons.Bookmark here

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“Here we are!” Reed said, turning down the hall and holding her lantern up a little higher so Elly could see the numbers on the doors. Elly sighed in relief. She’d finally gotten back, after lectures on only three species of dragons. She relaxed for only a few seconds before her feelings of anxiety returned. She didn’t have to worry about getting lost, but now that she was back at her room… her roommates were definitely back by this point. That was a confrontation that just thinking about was leaving Elly rooted in place.Bookmark here

“Th-Thank you,” Elly said, swallowing the cracks in her voice and clearing her throat, looking up at Reed. She smiled back at Elly and shrugged, like it wasn’t that big of a deal.Bookmark here

“Not at all, don’t worry about it. I enjoyed our talk about dragons! Let’s do it again sometime! Besides, I was headed here this way myself, actually.”Bookmark here

Wait, what? Reed had been coming this way all along? Elly watched Reed walk down the hall, her eyes scanning the doors. She must have found the one she was looking for, because she stopped in front of it and gave a loud knock against the hard wood.Bookmark here

The door swung in and Elly saw Reed’s face light up.Bookmark here

“Blake! It’s me, Reed! I missed you at dinner, but I was wondering if you’d like to go for a walk? We can talk about dragons, and-“Bookmark here

The door slammed shut hard enough that fringes of blonde hair were blown out of the girl’s face. Elly resisted the urge to snicker. She felt bad for Reed, but at the same time it was kind of funny. It would be mean to laugh, though. Reed turned and headed back towards Elly. If she was feeling hurt beneath the smile she wore, Elly couldn’t tell. She still felt the need to apologize anyway, giving her a small “sorry” as she passed.Bookmark here

Reed waved her hand dismissively. “Don’t worry! I’ve never experienced getting a door slammed in my face before, I really enjoyed myself!”Bookmark here

Elly didn’t really know what to say to that, so she just watched Reed depart, the corridor falling into darkness. Elly let out a sigh, turning back to the door. She could see a thin sliver of light beneath it, and knew her roommates were still awake. Bookmark here

She couldn’t avoid it forever, so she reached into her cloak pocket and withdrew the slender key to her room, unlocking the door and pushing it open. She gulped and stepped inside, her body already preparing to recoil from whatever abuses they laid on her.Bookmark here

“Elly!” Wendy hopped off her bed and ran over to her, her eyes wide. “We haven’t seen you for hours!”Bookmark here

“H-huh?” Elly blinked, partly to adjust to the light of the room, partly because she wasn’t sure if what she was seeing was real or not. The concern in Wendy’s eyes… maybe she hadn’t seen her ears, after all? She sighed. She had been worried for nothing.Bookmark here

“Are you okay?” Melody was sitting on her bed. Peering over a thick book were eyes just as untouched by scorn as Wendy’s. “You left your clothes and your bag, we brought them back.”Bookmark here

“Thanks,” Elly mumbled, glancing at her things laid gently on her bed.Bookmark here

“We wanted to come visit you, but the nurse said you needed your rest,” Wendy said. Elly smiled a little, that made her feel better. “I was surprised that the school nurse was an elf!”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah, it was surprising,” Elly said, keeping her smile plastered on her lips. She didn’t want them to think that anything was wrong, after all.Bookmark here

“Speaking of elves, why didn’t you tell us?” Wendy continued.Bookmark here

Elly gulped. “T-Tell you what? About the nurse? I didn’t know either…”Bookmark here

Wendy laughed, clapping Elly gently on the shoulder. “No, silly, I mean about you! You’re an elf, right?” Wendy reached up and pulled on the tips of her own ears.Bookmark here

For the second time that day, Elly felt the urge to throw up. She took a shaky step back, her face going pale.Bookmark here

“You weren’t observant enough, Wendy,” Melody replied. “Her name was the tip-off.”Bookmark here

“Um, elf, I’m not a-“Bookmark here

“Huh? But we saw your ears.”Bookmark here

It was over. No talking her way out of this. Elly felt the strength leave her body. She stumbled over and fell into bed, her head spinning. This wasn’t happening. She’d spent all afternoon worrying, but somehow she had hoped that no one would have noticed. What a foolish hope. She didn’t have it in her to take another look, certain that their eyes would be so much colder now.Bookmark here

“I don’t see what the big deal is.” Melody’s voice cut through the fog of worries gathering around Elly’s head, and she sat up to stare at her roommate in confusion.Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

“Sabine was talking about how disgusting you were because you were an elf, but I don’t really understand what the issue is,” Melody explained, shrugging her shoulders. Her eyes hadn’t changed a bit, they were still as shiny as ever.Bookmark here

“I’m just glad you’re okay,” Wendy nodded. Like Melody, her eyes were still so kind. “You are okay, right? It was just heatstroke? You didn’t have a bad reaction to the sun because you’re an elf or anything?”Bookmark here

“No, um, elves don’t… have problems like that…” What was going on? Was this really happening? Melody and Wendy didn’t seem to care about her being an elf in the slightest. Where were the looks of disgust, the cruel voices and jeers that had followed her all her life? Utterly confused, she tried to ask. “You… you aren’t disgusted by me?” Her heart was beating even faster as she waited for their answer.Bookmark here

Wendy and Melody glanced at each other, their brows furrowing in confusion. They both turned to look at Elly, Wendy saying “no, why would we be?”Bookmark here

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Elly wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say to that.Bookmark here

Real Aire
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