When Grimory walked into detention, he groaned loudly. “You gotta be shitting me.”
Alisbeth glanced up at him from her homework, then returned to it.
“Since you two seem to get along so well,” First Sergeant Fordring said, “why don’t you sit beside Redblade, Silversong.” He looked at his paper. “Hmm. Just the two of you.”
Grimory dropped into the seat and scowled ahead. Several minutes passed in silence, save the scribbling of Alisbeth’s pencil and the clock ticking away over the door. Fordring stood with a sigh, tucking his manila folders and clipboard under an arm.
“Behave,” he said simply.
“Yes, First Sergeant.” Alisbeth returned to her work.
Grimory waited long enough to know the man was gone. “Yep, I’m out. Enjoy.”
“They’ll kick you off the football team,” she said into her homework.
Grimory stopped, then sat back down. “They will?”
“Ditching detention gives you a one day o-s-s, which results in the loss of your extracurricular privileges which are dictated by grades and good behavior.”
“They would not give me an out of school suspension,” Grimory said. “They have to do in school, first.”
“They don’t have to anything. But by all means, see if I’m lying.” She still didn’t look at him.
After a long time the boy let out a breath. “You’re seriously sure? Not lying to keep me from leaving?”
“I know because I’ve done it. I would like nothing more than for you to walk out that door and leave me alone, but what kind of person would I be if I didn’t warn you?” She gave him a long look, then returnd to her math.
It took several more minutes for Grimory to speak. “I’ve got four days, thanks to you. How long are you in for?”
“Thirty-seven days. I just earned three more this morning.”
His eyes widened. “How?”
“I stopped an attack on the new girl. You can stop talking to me, now.” She said all of this with her face away from him as she did her math.
“No. That’s not enough detail. How did you get detention for stopping a bully?” He waved to get her attention, but she ignored him. “Seriously, you have to tell me. Alisbeth—” He reached out to grab her bicep.
Alisbeth spun and slapped his cheek. “Don’t you dare touch me or use my name. Stick with your cruel pet name, you shallow piece of useless jockstrap.” She kept her lips pursed at him for a moment longer as he stared at her in shock, then she turned back to her work.
“I can report you for hitting me.”
Her eyes went wide and doe-like. “I’m so sorry, Principal Kalecgos. It was a knee jerk reaction to him groping my breast!”
They stared each other down for a painfully long time before Grimory folded his arms and growled. He turned away from her and set his eyes to staring at the clock as the second hand clicked around the white face, counting out every moment of his imprisonment.
Grimory found Koltira on the field as he joined practice late, and told him every grueling detail. But Koltira was only barely listening, as a soft piano played in his mind. On his way to practice, he’d heard the sweetest tune playing from the choir room, which doubled for the piano lab room. He’d peeked inside to see the white hair draped over the back of the red hoodie. Her gloves were off, revealing long, narrow fingers that—because of their paleness—nearly looked like bones tapping over the keys. He’d listened only a little longer before running to practice.
“Dude, are you even listening to me?” Grimory demanded.
Koltira thought about lying, but decided not to. “Not even slightly, man. You seriously complain way too much for someone who doesn’t like her.”
“It’s because I don’t like her.”
“Whatever you have to tell yourself.”